30 May 2012

Wednesday - Comic Day “new 52”

Ahh new comic day.

When I was in grade seven... Age 12, I found part time work at a comic store. The place was called Orleans Gum Cards and Comics, its older larger sibling was Capital City Cards and Comics (found on the famous Sparks Street). Owned by Anne and Don Billows the two most pleasant Quebec City Nordiques fans you will even have the pleasure to know.

I worked for comics and candy, not making a single dime. I was allowed to take a one or two ‘shiny’ covers, three or four more other comics and I’d get a bag or three of various sweets from the Bulk Barn precursor, Pantry Plus. That was right next door.



So I enter into grade seven with a Job (better then a newspaper run…), tons of awesome comics and lots of candy. Note that the year was 1992 and Superman was dead come the summer. Suddenly comics were popular and come the new school year, cool. Even the jocks started to read comics.

I was that kid in the corner you left alone. He could run really fast, third best in all the classes after to Dave Bell (1st) and Matt Rushton (2nd). The young Dozer had stayed longer in this school then any other school in his life. Third year in the same place, the world had changed. I was broken and shattered… I sought out places to hide. Yet they came to me, because I knew comics and I was ready to teach them the wonders of artistic renderings trapping in panels with people speaking in fixed bubbles.

I would find work at more shops until 1997. I would work at RGB Comic Corner, first place to rent anime before the term anime was fixed. It was 1993 and I had already seen Akira, Ranma ½, AD tank Police… the list grows. When Kindred Cards replaced RGB, I worked at Comics Excetera and lastly Entertainment Ink. I had a great run in comic retail and it was awesome.

It was a real bright spot in my high school days, one of the few. Comics were a solace, a refuge and a place to explore. I drew and wrote my own like most kids who loved comics. Outside of music, books and games; comics was the king.

The 90’s comic boon exploded. Jim Lee had a great 11 issue run on the simple titled series X-men (Vol 2), introducing the new modern looks for the best band of mutants. Shortly afterwards Image Comics and Valiant Comics started up and were producing some of the most awesome comics ever (WildC.A.Ts, X-O Manowar, the Pitt to start). Stephen Platt was drawing Moon Knight, my two favourite X-Book crossovers X-Cutioner’s Song and Age of Apocalypse. Oh the world of comics was awesome. Hulk was the Professor, Spiderman 2099 was so fucking cool and dang blast it comics were being pushed. Vertigo’s mature start with Sandman and Starman, AIDS/HIV issues addressed with Shadow Hawk and Hulk, and Wagner’s hyper-violent Grendel: War Child… the list is long and it will go on unless I find a stop...

Oh right…

The quality also dropped. The gun-totting, ‘roid pumped anti-hero was king but shallow and not long for the world. His balls were small and leaving him unable to get past the rage and birth anything useful. Anime slowly began to influence artists by the end of the 90’s leading to less refined art in too many cases with few exceptions. Stories started to die and the cool cover was more important to the goings on inside. When 2000 came around, comics were hurting, the bubble had popped. Hope said that from the ashes better stories would come. Movies based on comics brought money needed to repair the industry. We’re ok now, not perfect but ok.

Another long preamble… let’s not make this a habit.

Upon hearing of the new 52, where DC Comics would reboot all of their books after the DC wide story arc Flashpoint, I was once again feeling like DC just kicked me in the junk. I admit to not reading much past the Green Lantern, Flash, Superboy (Conner Kent), Impulse and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain). I picked up and flipped through most stuff but when the dynamics changed I rarely touched the DC label. Even if I was reading I wasn’t buying. The last big hit to my wallet was Identity Crisis, Hush, For Tomorrow and Green Lantern – Return. These stories made me like the ageless DC comics but 'like' is not enough for me to invest time, money and attention when I only needed to skim the water every so often for a floater.

Remember DC has alien farm boys able to fly, rich guys dressed as a bat with “issues, lots of issues…” with a guy who can run faster then time and slew of other characters that have not aged well or kept up with the times.

I even hate DC for how they have treated my favourite comic universe Wildstorm. They crippled, literally my favourite character. For those of you who don’t know who Marc Slayton is… he’s the original Backlash. Also he is that fucking cool, the respective women in our lives want him without being conscious of it. I also acknowledge that for many of us that female presence may simply be our Mum’s but let’s just accept it and move on. Backlash is that kewl, Bret Booth had magic there. Give Mr Booth’s stuff a look simply because he invented awesome in comic character form. 

Wildstorm when ignoring the Authority/Stormwatch shenanigans tried out new things. Some failing and some like Planetary were once more greater then its origins, pulling itself outside of the dark and showing that the cave was a level of understanding that they remember, acknowledge but leave behind. I’m not saying the Authority/Stormwatch was bad, it just seemed like it didn’t fit in the Wildstorm universe and was simply placed there because no one else would let them play in their yard.

Wildstorm was taken out back and beaten for being not DC. It was ripped apart, and used as an experiment showing the world what not to do in comics. The evolution was nice but the direction was poorly executed, rushed and seeming like an afterthought. I’ve been sad with DC minus the above mentions story lines.

Then I saw Jim Lee’s art on the new Justice League. Wow, I was drunk on pretty and shiny comic LSD. Then I read the small back and forth between Bruce (that’s Batman’s real name) and Hal (That’s Green Lanter’s real name) end with, “Wait, you’re just a guy in a suit?”

Sold.

Lady’s and Gent’s, we have win.

So I decided to look at the other offerings of the new 52. The supplicants at DC have given a great share of their bounty and I am pleased. Over the next few Wednesdays when I yammer about Comics I’ll be hitting up the new 52’s that have caught my attention and why.

Spoiler alerts!

I’ll be hitting the new Justice League, Batman, Flash. I’ve been keeping up with them since launch and I am coming back to the fold. As Marvel has lost me in a few cases, DC has picked up the baton. I’ll talk about the first big cross over once it’s done, the Night of Owls, that has made me look harder and enjoy surprisingly more books… where’s is my Wednesday hit!?!

So get your Spiderman PJ’s, cuddle up with your Superman blanket and keep your Spawn nightlight on so we can read up every wed on the new 52 and the rest of comic realty.

“Just a guy in a suit?” Awesome, really awesome.