Writer: Scott Snyder
Reviewer: Rob Patey
Before DETECTIVE and BATMAN, this upstart writing professor from NY (which even though I’m form Jersey I have never held against him), was entrenched in horror with a little title called AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Here’s a snippet from one of my reviews of issue 3:
“I originally came for King, but I have stayed for Snyder. As much as I will always love the master of macabre, his ability to bloat a word balloon is not the best fit for a visual medium. Snyder though, I think this guy has legs. Let’s see what happens when the King training wheels are taken off.”
So there it is folks, hate Optimous if you don’t like Snyder, I gave him his golden ticket (No, I’m not this arrogant, but I also predicted in 2008 Johns was headed for editorial leadership, just sayin).
Horror with heart was Scott’s introduction to comics, and WYTCHES has brought him home. Thank God DC squashed exclusivity last year, because after reading issue one of WYTCHES Scott is about to give some gravitas to the “Hocus Pocus” idea of Salem’s daughters and this time he can actually own the friggin property thanks to the lean Image corporate structure.
Of course, points and IPs are not the concern of us regular readers, so let me say that from a story perspective: Scott is building a mystery, he strengthens the true meaning of witches before Hollywood makes it more flaccid with insipid “Secret Circle” like shows, and delivers it all through the package of human experience as a young girl realizes just how dangerous she can be.
WYTCHES will be nothing you expect; yet somehow everything you have been asking for in this mythos. I loved last season of “American Horror Story: Coven,” but I realize now how pretty and sanitary the proceedings actually were. For Snyder’s WYTCHES, the wills of the earth are power, not confidence or how may times you get banged by the Sax man.
The one staple Scott missed in this issue is his deep reverence for history, and making the time or place of the story as vibrant a character as any carbon based life forms, or perhaps he has simply made it different this time around knowing that Jock is just as formidable with pictures as Scott is with words. While we don’t get any new history for Gotham or an exploration of the century we just lived, there is a primal introduction on page one as a woman is devoured by a tree. As Jock makes us more afraid of wood than a straight guy in a revival of “Anything Goes,” I believe Scott may be scratching under new surfaces of setting and letting his well-accomplished artist do the heavy lifting.
Because after this moment we shift back to normality, with a normal family on any normal weekday, waiting for the school bus to arrive. As middle aged Dad and teenage daughter play the last wisps of games from childhood (like kill the Hippogryph), Snyder and Jock both convey the underpinning of a great horror that casts a dark pall beyond the simple separation of young womanhood blossoming before a befuddled Father who now has a young woman instead of his tomboy buddy.
We find that the dark pall was the fact this young lady, Sailor Rooks, was the one who brought the lady eating tree to life.
And there’s the mystery folks: Sailor remembers the tree and bringing to life to thwart an attacker, Mom and Dad say it was a delusion (but are most likely lying) and let us not forget the freaky bald guy who has come back from helping Wesley Crusher explore the galaxy to now fuck with the Rooks in some very primal and disgusting ways.
With Jock and Snyder, quality is expected. With Image though, we all know that longevity is a never a guarantee. Not to open the comic Kimono too wide, but Image books get one arc to prove themselves on sales numbers, if they don’t make the mark than hope you weren’t too attached to that story. Of course with this baller marquee on the cover, I believe WYTCHES will have the current staying power of SAGA with the long draw editorial is letting Snyder play. He is letting points breathe instead of spewing them out en masse. This is not a critique; it’s a compliment to see what a creator who I admire and respect can truly accomplish when untethered from continuity shackles, family friendly mandates and larger story support structure.
The question of do you like it Optimous is moot and I still refuse to answer it point blank, so please stop asking folks. I love this book, but that’s an opinion and opinions are like assholes in that they usually stink and are utterly invaluable. Make your own decision. Are you ready for an old look at a new favorite in the horror genre? Do you have room for one more book on your pull list? Do you want staying power of story and the slow doling out of story versus flashes of character moments? If yes, than get up on WYTCHES bytches.
Fiberlink, an IBM company, was honored to host the first panel, “Mobility as an Engagement Enabler.” During this hour-long discussion, digital strategists from four diverse industry sectors shared their current mobile strategies and plans for future prosperity with mobile personalization driven by big data.
Moderator Joseph N. DiStefano, Business Reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, kicked off the panel by discussing his years watching mobility evolve from a second to first-screen experience. Joe then introduced
- Scott Snyder Ph.D. – President and Chief Strategy Officer, Mobiquity
- Michael Kinzly – Director of Business Solutions, WaWa
- Joe Portale – Chief Technologist, Mobility Solutions, Lockheed Martin
- Roy Rosin – Chief Innovation Officer, Penn Medicine
If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come (or stay long)
The panel started with a serious and sobering fact: 70% of apps are deleted after sixty days. The chief culprits of this massive “app”bandonment are lack of clear long-term benefit to the consumer and failure to embrace emerging technologies. One new software update to a mobile OS can turn today’s darling into tomorrow’s frustrating and glitchy mess.
Snyder of Mobiquity delivered another revelation—the building of an actual app is only 20-30% of the work. Meaning, most organizations are still only at the beginning of their mobility journey. The next leg of this adventure will involve true personalization of apps powered by disparate systems feeding in a multitude of data sources.
The Convergence of BIG Data on Mobile
So, just how are these digital pioneers tethering BIG data and mobile?
WaWa: This all-in-one convenience store for everything from gas to grilled chicken salads has aggregated mountains of data from its customer purchases over the years, but only in the aggregate sense. Since the company prides itself on the consumer coming first, they have respected buyer privacy by never tracking purchases at the individual level. In the age of personalization though, there comes a time when consumers must share some information about themselves for a finely tailored shopping experience. To that end, WaWa is currently developing an app that will let customers choose whether the want to share their favorite items back with the organization.
Lockheed Martin: A company known on first blush for aeronautics, Lockheed actually serves a multitude of markets with mobility on their minds. Portale shared a scenario of battlefield logistics, where data and devices can become the Patton of the new millennium providing real-time field positions of troops and enemy combatants.
Penn Medicine: The focus of apps and mobility in medicine is being forged on two fronts. On one side, healthcare providers like Penn are using apps as community builders amongst patients to share their thoughts on treatment practices, connect with other patients, and offer a direct conduit to caregivers. Moving into the bleeding edge and integrating big data, technologies from companies like Proteus Data Health are enabling smart pills that give off signals to smarter devices so dosages and frequency are all meticulously monitored.
Protecting Privacy and Securing Endpoints
The conversation concluded with some words of caution regarding privacy and protecting data leaks.
Privacy has been an online concern since the first cookie was placed during a browsing session. Unfortunately, though the volumes of data being collected have increased over the years, privacy practices have remained fairly static. According to Snyder, privacy policies will need to be more fluid in our mobile future. A trust relationship will have to be built over time with users willing to relinquish more information as providers show true value to end users for the use of this precious information.
The security of mobile data is another crucial concern. For years the conversation around protecting mobility has been relegated to IT control of devices. As wearable and even consumable data collection points become the norm, we will need to think beyond device protection and even app safeguarding. The answer is a complete enterprise mobility management strategy that considers device end points, apps and data as one ecosystem that can all be monitored, managed and secured.
THE WAKE 6
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
It didn’t take a MENSA candidate to make the aquatic association of THE WAKE’s title to the shit storm that Snyder unleashed from Davey Jones’ locker, but the way in which he did it left me jaw dropped when this book took it’s hiatus a few months ago.
You all will remember when last we left THE WAKE, the aquatic brain trust had basically unleashed merman-a –geddon on the world. Not only were there thousands of razor mouthed man-guppys chasing our heroes, but they had also unleashed a skyscraper size mer-man who could devour the paltry underground base in one chomp.
Well, fuck them, they’re not in this issue. They probably died.
Act II takes us back to the very first pages of the book where we were flung 200 years into the future. Way back in the beginning there was a girl living in water world with her pet dolphin. Issue 6 is her story, and it’s a good one.
Her name is Leeward, and she lives in a world where only the highest regions of America remain above sea level. A world where these mer-men are the clear enemy, especially after they sent warm water gushing to the ice caps and melting them. Leeward lives in a world where these creatures are now hunted with a reckless abandon for consumerism and basic survival.
Now for some reason the last vestiges of our government aren’t too kind to these activities as they work to form their own plan for fishie eradication. Kudos to Snyder for restructuring the American government. The concept of regional governors is something I believe we should institute even before release the Kraken.
I would like something for you all to enjoy, so I’ll let you fall in love with Leeward and her bigger mission as your own discoveries when you read the book.
As a parting thought though, I offer you to not rush your read of the book like I did. Murphy brings his PUNK ROCK JESUS harshness to the metal barges our children’s children call cities. There’s a beauty and a sadness to this moisture laden pastoral existence and Murphy gets all the credit for bringing it alive.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche -Ain’t it Cool News)
For anyone who has bitched and bemoaned the New 52, plug your piehole because your universe is back…sort of.
In a time only alluded to as “soon,” BATMAN 28 catapults us in time from last issues Zero Year escapades to a time about 5 years from now. I applaud all of DC for holding this one close to the vest, not only did I see the two major players of this issue appearing, but I also had no idea BATMAN ETERNAL was going to take place in the day after tomorrow. When I interviewed Snyder at New York Comic con ’13, he mentioned ETERNALS would focus on the side characters in the bat-universe, but didn’t once mention who those characters would be or that they would be future incarnations.
So who’s here? How about Harper Rowe for starters. Our little friend from the narrows is a bit more grown up and fighting the Gotham imposed police state tooth and nail as the character BlueBird.
While Batman shows up in this issue, he’s far from the star. He only appears after Harper is deep inside the layer of Gotham’s new kingpin of crime, Catwoman. That’s right kids the “will she, won’t she” rooftop tussles of early 52 books have resulted in a Selina scorned.
Why exacty is Harper scratching her way into Catwoman’s layer. Apparently in the future the Narrows is a place of mass infection with a disease that makes Ebola look like a head cold. The only one with the cure for this plague is the Cat.
The surprises don’t end there though. When Selina opens the safe holding the cure, we see the one and only waifish waffle lover Stephanie Brown in a scene from a bondage flick.
I refuse to hate on the New 52. The best way to be seen as an old codger is to simply dismiss anything new as rubbish. Have all the choices been my cup of tea? No. Is a 39 year old man DC’s sole demographic – FUCK NO! While I would never be so naïve to request perspective from a comic book audience, I will say it’s a fool’s errand to lament time, and a blond man’s folly to ignore that which you don’t agree with. With BATMAN 28 I truly believe the New 52 haters could find a home at DC again. Also, if this truly is a secret glimpse at BATMAN ETERNAL, then you might have a home moving forward. For Gen X, this is the DC we imagined as kids. Where Bruce would be a healthy Boomer greeting people at Wal-Mart by day and guiding the next generation of crime fighters at night. While Bruce is a little closer to 50 than 60 in this “soon” time, I’ll take it. Greta book and a much better teaser for BATMAN ETERNALS than past efforts. I thought for sure the thing was going to be a modernization of G.C.P.D. Now that it’s a future look, this Elseworlds boy is hella sold for the first issue. I just caution Tynion to ensure he doesn’t copy BATMAN BEYOND as he zooms Back to the Future
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Personally, Zero Year is EXACTLY what I wanted from the New 52. It’s clear, concise and the continuity is seamless. Take last week, for example: a superstorm threatens Gotham and Metropolis, and our heroes in both towns are being molded by this force of nature, one internal and external crisis at a time. If you want the inward reflection I highly recommend last week’s ACTION annual as Clark tries to wrestle a storm. The outward forces shaping came in the form of DETECTIVE where we see a young(ish) Jim Gordon dealing with corruption in the GCPD as the storm and Gotham’s blackout rages on.
There’s nothing big or bombastic like Parademons. It’s giving us time to get to know the characters – an osmosis of change instead of a slap to the face. It allows old continuity to carry over organically, in an explained fashion. Zero Year is my start of the New 52, even if historians end up disagreeing. I also think it’s a salvation for any fans who felt shunned post-FLASHPOINT. I’ve talked with a lot of fans, I’ve heard a lot of grievances about the “youth”anizing of our heroes, I’ve heard (and agreed with) the confusion caused by the 5 years before in some titles and the present in others. Zero Year is the fix, folks. Please come back–the universe is far more welcoming right now.
Zero Year also lets DC keep FOREVER EVIL humming without the oft fan complaint that other books aren’t acknowledging the event. Whoever’s idea this “event” was, you deserve blowjobs while eating ice cream.
The last arc of BATMAN introduced us to a pre-faceless Joker. Now, the Riddler is the focal point, but at the same time isn’t. As much as he is the overarching villain causing the blackout in Gotham, sending Batman on a goose chase of epic proportions, other forces seep into play to provide nice vignettes against the grander threat.
Our two new introductions come in the form of one Pamela Isley, a young botanist intern who is on the crime scene when some scientists are force-fed bone growth serum that turns them into marrow trees. Fangeezers can guess where this is going, but the mystery for noobs is firmly in place until Isley gets her foliage on.
The other threat is a resurrected Golden Age baddie by the name of Dr. Death. He’s made a few appearances in the new 52, but they have been few and far between. They’ve also never been this gruesome and in your face. The thing I liked best about this character is an origin shrouded in book-end mystery. The book opens with a flashback of a unit in some desert shithole uncovering a trap door. Flash forward to Gotham, the blackout, Isley bones and a turncoat Lucius Fox possessed by death. Then we flash back to the desert shitscape with a Humvee simply driving away from the mysterious hole.
A grand story driven by smaller beats has been missing from this universe for too long. As much as I enjoyed “Court of Owls”, I’ve been reading comics for 30 years. My brain could fill in holes or back story to make the proceedings come alive in a way a new reader couldn’t.
Before I walk away, two more things. Capullo did yet another amazing job on the art duties. He truly gave the piece a differing tonality between the bookends and main storyline. Snyder also did a great job coordinating the events of last week’s DETECTIVE COMICS #25 for synergy with the man who is Jim Gordon. While cynics will say DETECTIVE was just the origin of the bat signal, there are subtler beats redefining Gordon as a person.
With wafts of Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, I’m far more intrigued by this latest BATMAN “Zero Year” arc than I was the last one–and I loved the last one.
If you missed my first Con Report from this years’ New York Comic Con follow this link here and then come back and read this second chapter in my trek! Day One ruined my feet; this is what happens when one dresses for style versus comfort. I applaud the Cosplay girls (and I guess some of the guys) who hit this thing in seven inch fuck me pumps. Though to be fair, they spend most of the day posturing and posing whereas I moved across the entire center between Artist Alley and the Main Floor to talk to as many creators as I could before the closing bell.
Given the fact my pinky toes were bleeding into my shoes (literally), I took a slightly more relaxed approach to this day. Spending a little more time with creators, banging out a scheduled interview, and actually sitting in on a panel.
First stop though was the main floor while I had some energy!
KILL SHAKESPEARE – I have a personal history with this title. As a theater major in college I grew to abhor the bard, so I have dickishly avoided all requests to review this book that is actually wildly successful and well praised. I asked the guys how they would sway a naysayer like myself to imbibe the three volumes already available, they kindly said, “it’s an awesome action adventure if you like books like FABLES. If you hate the bard, look at your 8th grade teacher and shake you your fist at them for making you that way.” I retorted I’ll bite my thumb in protest or throw a cabbage. Nerd laughter ensues. Pictured are creators Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery.
Ryan Browne – Ryan was signing some MANHATTAN PROJECTS issues and hocking his new title GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS from Image. This time around Ryan is taking on writing and art duties to tell the tale of super powered narcissist who are charged with policing barn storming farmers who keep trying to launch themselves into now commoditized space. There’s also talking bears and other crazy shit. Originally a Web comic, this hard cover collects the entire series with some surprise guest artists thrown in for good measure. If you’re too cheap to buy the book you can read it online.
David Schulner – Author of CLONE from Image about a protagonist who is part of a government cloning conspiracy. With eleven issues under its belt, the book was just picked up by NBC for a series with David and Robert Kirkman at the helm.
Monty Nero – DEATH SENTENCE is Monty’s brainchild from Titan Comics. The book explores a world where an AIDS like virus gives you superpowers for 6 months before you shuffle off your mortal coil. What would you do with that precious time and who would try to stop your before your 6 months are up?
Smoke, 2 Tanqueray & Tonics break so shit can get real down in artist alley where no PR wonks are around to keep things moving.
Ben Templesmith – I loved Templesmith’s work on TEN GRAND, but he’s no longer on that anymore. A big to-do amongst con chatter by the way. Here’s Ben doing some great technique with blood work on the page for a commission. He basically spits it through a straw for a true splatter effect. Get a commission, get some Ben DNA. I also like this picture because I feel like I genuinely made him laugh and spit some blood on the table.
Peter Tomasi – Peter worked his career in reverse from editor to writer and frankly I couldn’t be happier. Damian Wayne basically lived in two books in the New 52, BATMAN INC and BATMAN & ROBIN. All along though, BATMAN & ROBIN stood shoulders above for the heart and trueness of a little boy fighting against his gruesome nurture. I tried to get Peter to spill the beans on when the BATMAN & INSERT SOMEONE ELSE HERE would be ending and he said soon. When I asked him if it would be Carrie Kelly, he laughed at me and mimed zipping his lips. You won today Tomasi.
BAD KARMA – Kickstarter done good. This 200 page hardcover is the culmination of four creators bringing together their ideas in one beautifully rendered trade. The guys were mum on the overall plot, but I did peruse some of the art and it is beautiful. Pictured are Alex Grecian, Jeremy Haun, B. Clay Moore, and Seth Peck.
J. Michael Straczynski Panel – My devotion to JMS stories is no secret. We’ve done about 6 interviews together and I always pester him personally when I know a new book is on the way. Here’s the thing though, instead of ignoring me, he actually responds. Granted if it’s a book like EARTH 1 we need to vet things through proper PR channels, but when it comes to creator owned stuff like JOE’S COMICS, the man is a machine of deep and honest responses to even my most ridiculous of questions.
I abhor panels and I hate lines even more. Thankfully they put JMS in a big enough hall there was no line and secondly once the door shut, this was a conversation not some PT Barnum like spectacle like the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY screening (and screaming happening next door).
As much as I’ve “hung” with Joe and read his work, I realize I am but balls deep in one of Joe’s many genres. When he finally opened up the floor for questions the Babylon 5 flood gates opened wide, along with a shit ton of movie questions. There was also some Dutch kid that kept trying to make him eat cookies. I would say I wish I were tripping if it I didn’t feel like I already was. Joe ended the, hell let’s call it what it is, the discussion, with some very uplifting words about following one’s dreams and handing out copies of the newest Joe’s Comics title, PROTECTORS INC #1.
With the panel over and an hour to kill before my Scott Snyder interview soon…
Back to Artists’ Alley I go!
Glen Brunswick – I love talking to creators who offer me a copy of a their book and my quote is already on the cover. To be fair though, I only read issue 1 of Brunswick’s NON HUMANS. We still had a good laugh though. I rectified my 1/5 review and gave the full TPB the review treatment last week. I love the concept of dolls coming to life spurred by humanity’s imagination so I was happy to see the tale come to a close. In addition to volume 2 of NON HUMANS coming out in April, Glen also recently wrote REALITY CHECK, the story of a creator’s super hero coming to life and not having a freaking clue what to do.
Daniel Corey – Author of MORIARTY from Image was selling the recently dropped trade. In Corey’s world, Moriarty wins at the falls and must find meaning without his greatest nemesis. For anyone who read the first two volumes and enjoyed them, help Daniel out by contributing to the volume 3 Kickstarter campaign.
Peter David – I simply love this man, he hits all the East coast cons and hasn’t seemed to age a day in the 7 years I’ve been pestering him for Ain’t It Cool (An even more remarkable feat at this con giving the recent stroke nonsense. Personally, I don’t buy it, he was Peter through and through) The coolest thing about Peter is that he talks all original properties at his table despite having written one of the best X-titles of all time, X-FACTOR. At this show Peter was all about SIR APROPOS OF NOTHING, the tale of an amoral knight thrust into destiny despite his best efforts to simply make a galleon. IDW has released the graphic novel version or you can read some of those non picture books to learn more about this less than chivalrous knight.
James Tynion IV – It would almost be easier to list what isn’t Scott Snyder’s protégé doing right now for DC? Starting as a back-up writer for one of the best runs DETECTIVE Comics has ever seen, he has now moved into the big chair in RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS and the recently announced BATMAN ETERNAL (for more on B.E. read my interview with Scott Snyder). In Artist Alley though, the guys like to talk pet projects; James’ is a web series called THE EIGHTH SEAL where politics is infested by things that go bump in the night.
Ironically I now had to run across the building (make that hobble) for my 3:15 with Tynion’s Obi-Wan, Scott Snyder. I’m not retyping the full interview, just go here to read it.
I’ve been to enough cons now to know when the shift times flip. After my interview with Scott I knew I had an hour to kill before there would be new folks to talk to in Artist Alley. I hunkered down in the press room with my cohorts Ambush Bug and Matt Adler to plan the evening’s shenanigans.
Drunk, I’m now drunk. Fuck you, Ambush Bug. And fuck you Matt Adler for laughing at the lushes. My feet feeling fine at this point I stumble to artist alley in hopes of some last few coherent conversations. All of you have my deepest apologies from this point forward.
Ed Brisson – While best known for his new Image book called SHELTERED, a tale of the pre post apocalypse gone wrong, Brisson was also at the con showing off some of his pre-discovery titles like MURDER BOOK and COMEBACK.
Brian Clevinger – ATOMIC ROBO is the name of the book and it is already 8 volumes strong. I know a ton of people who are fans of this little indie that could which is an amalgam of every 80s adventure you could imagine all wrapped into…a robot, so this is shot is for you folks.
UNMASKED – Mike Sarro and John Broglia. Another Kickstarter team done good. UNMASKED is about a young journalist going around unmasking new heroes who have no problem with killing. She does it all in hopes for a return to the true golden age of heroes. Get volume 1 now from Arch Enemy Entertainment before volume 2 launches.
Joe Harris – Last, but certainly not least Joe Harris showed off his Image series GREAT PACIFIC, his IDW X-FILES project and GHOST PROJECT from Oni Press. GHOST PROJECT was intriguing not only for the fact it is being courted for TV, but also it’s just a cool concept about weaponized supernatural beings built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Flash-forward to today and the cadre is unleashed on the world by a few bumbling thieves.
And with that the closing bell rang and I hobbled back to my hotel to recharge for an evening of parties and glad-handing. NY Comic Con 2013 I thank you for an experience I will never forget.
Hey hey everyone. Not a lot of pre-amble required here. I went to New York Comic Con and jumped into the first slot I could get to speak to one of the most influential voices at DC and in comics; Scott Snyder.
Rob Patey (RP): How you doing man?
Scott Snyder (SS): Running on fumes. Do you need me to stand is this another video interview?
RP: No this is Ain’t It Cool, I’ll be recording on my palm pilot and taking a lithograph at the end. So you’ve written BATMAN, SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, AMERICAN VAMPIRE…I know I’m forgetting something what is it?
SS: THE WAKE…
RP: Right, underwater horror with Sean Murphy. And the recently announced BATMAN ETERNAL.
SS: That’s right.
RP: Excellent, so what’s happening in BATMAN ETERNAL?
SS: Well, it’s the first time we’ve tried a weekly series, which excites me. Writing-wise I’m really only involved in the first arc of it. In terms of terms of design and structure I wrote the bible with James Tynion who is just a mastermind of story. He writes TALON and RED HOOD and some other exciting stuff coming out this year. So we plotted out a giant story that would really transform Gotham and be a very very bombastic big sensational game changer of a narrative.
We then decided to invite a bunch of our favorite writers in to tell their arcs on any characters or elements of Gotham that they want as long as they pushed the main arc forward a little bit. So the big story is rolling with all of these small turns about your favorite villains, gang wars, GCPD. All of the things you can’t deeply explore in BATMAN because he has to be center stage all of the time.
RP: Awesome, I was just talking to James in artist alley and he’s really stoked to be doing this book. You guys have done a lot of books now together, how did you guys hook up?
SS: He was my student in a writing class seven years ago. I really loved his stuff and he was a huge comic fan. I then started teaching comics, so we stayed in touch and he sent me some of his scripts and I really needed help with the back-up stories in BATMAN. So I thought those would be good training wheels so he could get in the door. And now the grasshopper has become the master and the teacher. He’s a man I now admire as a colleague. It’s been inspirational to the teacher in me to watch him grow. The stuff he has coming out this year is really thrilling.
RP: You recently just farmed out a bunch of AMERICAN VAMPIRE stories in the midway anthology that came out. What’s happening for the future of AMERICAN VAMPIRE building off that book that took us into the 1960s.
SS: We’re coming back in March actually. I’m literally back from the AMERICAN VAMPIRE Bloody Mary Brunch. The next arc will be bringing back Pearl, Skinner, Felicia, the vassals, the Dracula character…everyone comes crashing together again in the first arc.
RP: So what year are we in?
SS: 1967, it’s going to be Easy Rider meets Straw Dogs, meets the Magnificent Seven. At least that’s how I think of it. It’s a mish mash of all my favorite 60s fun and violent films.
RP: So the series is going to keep advancing through time, no pauses for a prolonged period?
SS: We were just talking about this at the brunch; the series is going to come all the way up to the present. There is a gigantic cumulative finale that’s been in the outline since day one. We’ve always known where it’s going to end. The thing that’s been surprising to Rafael Albuquerque and our editors is that along the way we made up characters that we didn’t think would have their own stories, like Calvin or Felicia or Gus even. Bit now they’ve become so important they’ve earned their own arcs. We’ve known the main road from beginning to end, but we’ve also been able to take these side paths along the way that have been incredibly exciting.
So it’s going to be Cycle 2, number 1, really really big relaunch. When I gave up AMERICAN VAMPIRE because I had SUPERMAN and BATMAN, and Rafael had some stuff he wanted to do, I figured it’s not a big deal; we’ll just come back. Now, I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression and giving up AMERICAN VAMPIRE was really psychologically difficult for me. I did not see that coming at all. It was very tough those first few months off. I thought at first it was because I didn’t have a creator owned, but I did have THE WAKE, which I love. I was still down…anxious. I finally realized I simply missed the characters and working with Rafael. I was frustrated. So I couldn’t be happier to coming back or more grateful to fans who have been very vocal to us personally, privately and publicly.
RP: I’m one of the public ones who yelled SNNNYYYYDDDEEER like Kirk when I heard about the hiatus.
SS: It really means a lot man. We cannot wait for you guys to see what’s next. From the bottom of my heart it’s the best time I’ve had on a book.
RP: This next question is from one of my four fans, how do you want your time to be remembered at DC 20 years from now?
SS: Oh my God, that’s a tough question. I have a golden rule in the class I teach, it was told to me by one of my first teachers, “You can only write the stories that you want to read more than any other when you leave this room.” It doesn’t’ have to be he smartest, best or funniest. It just has to be the one you want to have read because it means something to you personally. What I hope is that people look at the stories and see that’s the compass we’ve used on these books; from BATMAN to AMERICAN VAMPIRE to THE WAKE and SUPERMAN UNCHAINED. They might not be the best stories in t8eh world, but these are the ones that affect me personally as I’m writing them. I hope that shows.
RP: How hard was it taking on BATMAN in the context of the New 52, being one of the few titles that brought over baggage from before FLASHPOINT?
SS: Very hard and super intimidating. When I took the gig I thought I was going to be writing BATMAN seven hundred and eighty whatever and then they told me after I signed on it was going to be BATMAN 1. I had kind of half nervous break down about it. Super intimidating, especially to know you’re building the mythology from the ground up.
It basically came down to talking to the other Bat writers and deciding what thing we wanted to keep and what we wanted redone. Over time it became clear that the origin itself couldn’t be kept because of the changes in CATWOMAN, in BATGIRL and other books. BATGIRL is now Jim’s biological daughter so that changes things. James Jr. if he’s born 6 years ago, like in YEAR ONE, he a child. Well, he’s not – he’s a full grown adult.
RP: Who is also utterly insane.
SS: Right, the Falcone and Maroni families all have different histories as well so these pieces just don’t fit together anymore and DC was adamant that we need a new origin. It is baggage and there are a lot of things from continuity that are still there from KNIGHTFALL, NO MAN’S LAND, CATACLYSM, which I love, and I keep that in mind when I’m writing. We just really try never to address them and simply go forward with new stories. This is a Batman born in modern day and even though those stories are there this is our version and will proceed as they would be told in modern context.
RP: Where did you come up with the Court of Owls?
SS: I came up with it because I grew up in New york, on the Lower East Side. I always loved going out to the South Street Seaport, I live pretty close to it. I don’t know, I always loved the idea you can know the factual history of your city or neighborhood it self, but you never know the lives that were lived there. So it’s always fascinated me, this notion of Batman knowing the city better than everyone else. So you can know the geography, the present day sociology, but you can’t know the lives of generations over generations. So what of we built a mystery that exists inside those crevices, the secret layered history. The catacombs of Gotham almost. That would be something that we should Batman to his core, because he would realize he didn’t know the city as well as he thought. It’s a haunted and changing city, the past is fully unknowable, it’s the city looking at him and saying, “I’m a mystery and I always will be.” That was the impetus, then picking the right symbol. He owl idea spoke to me because of Owl Man and owls are predators Bats.
RP: Shifting gears, SUPERMAN UNCHAINED. What drew you to the character and the project?
SS: I’ve always been fascinated by the character. I love at the end of the day he’s just a guy trying to do the right thing. When I take on a new character I always like to go back to the origin material to see if there’s stuff that excites me and I can turn into something modern. Sometimes you don’t find anything, but with Superman I was looking at the old stories about him fighting during WWII, you know throwing Nazis out of subs and being in the crosshairs of some Japanese warplane. The violence of those issues surprised me as well, he’s willing to kill. So, I thought what if there was a Superman that arrived seventy-five years ago on the anniversary of when ACTION 1 was released and he was actually the Superman that existed back then, but acting in secret until now. It challenges all the things that the modern day Superman has become and represents. Wraith is the ghost in history; he’s part of the machine, this kind of secret organization that does what it wants militarily. Wraith is the hand that pushes things forward in a creepy way. He’s an invisible force in history that changes things.
So, I wanted Wraith and General Sam Lane to be able to say to Superman, “You like to think you’re above all of it, but this will end. As Clark, imagine going into the Planet 50 years from now, everyone will we dead. What’s he going to do? Start over? You’re still going to be young, so why are you doing this? As Superman you float above all of it, saving kittens and stuff, what’s going to happen when North Korea or someone does something cataclysmic and you don’t want a bomb to be dropped? You’re going to evacuate everyone and become an enemy of the state so both of these identities can’t last so you might as well come over and actually be the person you’re supposed to be a Superman of a country. Otherwise you be welcome in any country and they will try to kill you. So that’s the idea on how to create something new while bringing in all the old characters like Lois, Jimmy and Perry.
That’s it folks keep an eye out for Scott’s new releases and return to yore as we move into 2014.
MY DREAM STORY FOR BATMAN ETERNAL: I want to close out with the story I would most like to see in BATMAN ETERNAL and I want all of you to tell me yours. (No I didn’t bother Scott with this.
The Women of Batman. They all love him and they all need him in some way; Catwoman in an animalistic way, Vicki Vale career wise and in a hero worship sense. How do the other men or significant others in these women’s lives compare to the Bat and what does it do to those people who try to get close to the ladies while they hold a torch?
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Ken Lashley
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
“Kneel before Zod!” No, seriously, get down on the ground, this issue was pretty damn good. There are definitely two thematic flavors spinning out of this villainous decimal month: origin and now. ZOD is a tale of how the baddest Kryptonian since H’EL became a denizen of the phantom zone. The plot is a bit muddled, but I’ll forgive any fumbles when a touchdown is scored on characterization.
If power set wasn’t enough to make Zod and Superman opposite sides of the same coin, we learn that Zod was also a descendant of the science caste on the planet that was. Both of Zod’s parents were scientists and brought him on an expedition to one of the more wild satellites in the Krypton solar system for a little Xenobiology research. Basically the parents die and Zod is left to fend for himself until a rescue craft with two brothers from the house of El pick up a distress beacon. Pak pulls a nice surprise at the end as well to show that nature plays a part in Zod’s bad assery, keeping this from being a straight up Tarzan in space.
I’ll tell you tough, it wasn’t the origin or the way Zod takes control of the army that entranced me. Yes, the origin was fun and yes watching him plant evidence so he can start a war with a race of people that can only hit with sticks was more than evil enough, but what I loved was the pageantry of Krypton.
Between the beats there are some great political machinations at play between the castes. Especially interesting was the relationship between Jor-El and his brother. This aristocracy on the verge of collapse more than resonates with real world sociological trends, which always makes for good comic booking. Also, Lobdell’s back stories about Jor-El over in SUPERMAN makes for a pretty cool science/action piece, something the DC stable really doesn;t have right now. Sniff…Sniff – do I perhaps smell a new World of Krypton brewing in the idea ether? Good book, but again I did have to look closely to see exactly what Zod did to piss everyone off so much.
My favorite villain book thus far. I should have known Snyder and Fawkes were in the driver’s seat with the quality of this puppy, but since the credits live in the back this month I wasn’t sure if we had a new rising star on our hands.
Edward Nigma received one of the freshest makeovers in the New 52, completely abandoning any past incarnations as a Joker pastiche with simply a penchant for puzzles. Where Joker is sheer lunacy Riddler is cold and calculating, he’s simply so smart he has an OCD compulsion to keep his brain busy with puzzles. He’s also a petty man as opposed to an outright lunatic.
This whole issue takes place in the now, but is retribution for what was. Anyone who hasn’t been following Zero Year in BATMAN might be a bit lost on motivation, but that shouldn’t stop your enjoyment of this solitary black diamond. Basically Nigma was a process efficiency consultant for Wayne enterprises when Bruce was on his Rumspringa before coming back to don the cowl. I deal with these sharks on a daily basis because of my day job and I’ll tell you now, Snyder has nailed it. Basically the jig came up and Nigma ended in prison.
So this is retribution against Bruce and a certain Wayne guard who once worked in Arkham during Nigma’s tenure. The issue starts with a series of riddles and the answer to each helps Riddler in his scheme – all clever, all apropos. Now for some reason, and with that kind of bleed in you know I question the choice – but beyond his two fold mission of success he opines for the Batman to come play. Too Jokery for me. Too many obsessed criminals to the point of forlorn love will become a cacophony white distilled noise instead of an emotional gut punch.
Haun deserves a special shout out for Nigma’s new yet respectful of yore visage, and for making what’s basically a guy going to the top of a building as exciting as Die Hard’s decent down one.
When playing RPG’s if I’m given the choice between a rogue or a warrior I always backstab before bash. I share this strategy because apparently DC agrees with me. We don’t know Lobo…all the comments about him joining weight watchers and being more village people than biker bar are true…and not. Basically our favorite Czaranian wasn’t the last of his kind. There’s another survivor – Lobo.
So if this sophisticate laser katana wielding is the biggest and baddest bounty hunter and smuggler in the galaxy who is the bastiche who pwned our longboxes back in the 90’s? Who gives a shit, the new guy is way cooler. Where Ole is a lout New is a cad. Both can obliterate a room, but new Lobo is a graceful ballet compared to the old Lobo’s tank like ploughing. All of these character traits come alive as well as new Lobo’s complete lack of a moral core as we watch him commit some xenon-trafficking. The payment for this mission is the location of Lobo the Lesser.
Part of whether you can move forward will boil down to taste, Personally, I’ve always hated any Lobo-likes in real life, so I’m happy to see the troglodyte retire. I guess I shouldn’t jump to any assumptions, but I would love to see new Lobo transplant.
I don’t remember reading any of Ms. Bennett before, but I hope this isn’t a one-time gig. Her structure is beautiful and dialog more than engaging. Watch out Ms. Simone, you’re not the only hen in the cock house anymore.
Poor Vril’ Dox, I’ve always had a soft spot for the old L.E.G.IO.N., but I do understand time moves on. It just pains me to see a man who once struggled to understand the plebeians beneath him want to crush and possess them instead.
We learn in this issue that smart people are really friggin scary and no one should trust them. The story of Vril’s evolution to Brainiac is standard but appropriate: he’s basically a scientist who has no moral boundaries in his path to personal enlightenment. Experiment on my child, sure. Divorce my wife, sure. Hijack my prison ship to enslave a portion of my people and destroy the rest – Vril, like Honey Badger does’t give a shit.
Now, what he’s pursuing is interesting from a book and universe perspective. Basically refugees from a war in the 5th dimension have bled to ours and they are devouring planets one by one. Vril’s mission is to stop them at all of the aforementioned costs until the obsession finally devours the man.
BRAINIAC didn’t get enough attention during ACTION in my humble opinion and it’s nice to see this old staple truly unleashed at the inception of his evil.
Oh and don’t judge a book’s art by its cover, Brainiac looks nothing like a black fun house slide in the actual issue nor is Superman even present.
SUPERMAN UNCHAINED 1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Jim Lee & Dustin Nguyen
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I was going to open this review with a stupid DJANGO joke, had it planned for weeks. But after reading SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, I frankly don’t want to sully the book with such cheap review parlor tricks. Instead I’m going to open this review with an apology. I wasn’t the biggest fan of JUSTICE LEAGUE when it launched. I felt it was too big and too bodacious, it lacked the intimacy of Johns’ past work so I put the onus of my distaste on Lee. I claimed he gave it splash page pacing and as a result took my beloved Johns out of his comfort zone.
SUPERMAN UNCHAINED basically puts egg on my face. As you will see with the picture accompanying this article, it has one of the biggest god damn splash pages you’ve ever seen and it was still an intimate experience punctuated by epic grandeur – exactly how SUPERMAN should be.
I’m honestly amazed at how much ground the boys covered in such a short page count (aside from the aforementioned megasplah, there’s an epilogue, an interview, and of course…sigh…Channel 52). I’m going to say this is a basic SUPERMAN story and I say with that the utmost respect and reverence. It’s a balance that’s been missing in lieu of exposition in the New 52. We get equal doses of Clark and SUPERMAN in UNCHAINED, but Snyder melds them organically unlike the clear issue by issue delineation we’ve seen in since the day FLASHPOINT changed everything. As SUPERMAN, Clark is the ego controlling the id. As Clark, SUPERMAN is the id making the superego more interesting than your typical corn fed farm boy.
We all know the basic plot by this point, some satellites drop to Earth all under the control of…some new villain. Of course SUPERMAN stops the satellites and yes there’s a new villain, but those broad strokes don’t even begin to describe the famous Snyder retcon that takes place behind the scenes or the spot on characterization for SUPERMAN and his equally famous friends.
The book actually opens in 1945 in a small Japanese town. What comes next any of us could imagine, but not really. Yes, a bomb is released from an old prop plane, but instead of exploding above this town it breaks apart and releases a blue humanoid. Honestly, this figure was reminiscent of the days went SUPERMAN went blue (and I don’t mean his period as a stand-up comedian that swore profusely). This is a big change for DC to completely rewrite actual history. Sure Snyder has had his way with the history of Gotham in the past, but it’s only been his Vertigo work where he transformed our reality.
Flash forward to today when the satellites start falling, and that gorgeous page breaking megasplash. Be careful with this page dear reader, while gorgeous and bold in execution – the logistics could use some work. Mine is precariously hanging on by a small gob of glue right now as I gingerly slip it back into mylar. As the satellites fell I knew SUPERMAN was back on track. A little inner story about Kansas, a screaming in the head on the sanctity of life and real harrowing struggle as he tries to divert a hunk of metal with a nuclear reactor to safety were all things that embody the character packed into three short pages.
Once the satellites are landed, of course Clark Kent needs to cover the story (not before a quick diversion to shake down Luthor though) and here is where Snyder shows an aptitude for the ancillary characters in Clark’s life, especially Lois Lane. Up until now New 52 Lois has frankly been mildly cunty towards Big Blue. LobRocster’s run redeemed her a bit (along with the whole title actually), but we didn’t see “work” Lois during that time. Here, she is driven and focused, but courteous and dare I say mildly caring towards Clark and his freelance writer self. Jimmy is funny and Perry gruff. Basically a return to the core characters that has again been greatly obstructed with 5 years before and the politics of media up until now.
The book ends as it began – with our big blue nemesis. Or is he? While Clark learns he wasn’t the only one diverting satellites today we get the omnipotent look at this blue character’s lord and master – the US Government, specifically General Lane.
The back-up story (another welcome Snyder staple) is mildly confusing, but a wonderful soft contrast to thhe main event in both tone and visuals. We meet another mysterious character with burnt out eyes hauled in by a fishing net while Perry shows Jimmy a pair of binoculars his Uncle retrieved from the ashes of Nagasaki. A nice moment with an obvious and yet also mysterious connection towards revealing this new 75 year old government secret Uberman.
Look, at the end of the day this is a SUPERMAN story. This is not a Millar twist event nor anything overtly shocking. If you hate SUPERMAN stories, keep on walking. But if you’re like me and have been waiting to see the real SUPERMAN for the past two years, here he is. DC branding called this SUPERMAN UNCHAINED for some reason, me I’m going to call it SUPERMAN SALVATION.
I’m not a mermaid, I’m a Mer-Man!” – Zoolander
I apologize now for donkey punching the spoiler of THE WAKE while you weren’t looking, but there are those who prefer immediate gratification and I felt a long heady piece in me when I conjured my original first paragraph. At the center of THE WAKE is sentient life from the sea. Now, that’s the surface – the sea foam that slathers the book. The joy in THE WAKE is deeper than the fathoms traversed to meet the humanity’s first alien life form. That is if it’s actually an “alien.” More on that in a second.
I guess I’m obliged to say this is a great book, but anyone who has read Snyder’s pantheon of titles and books like Murphy’s PUNK ROCK JESUS will know that even if the concept is lackluster it will still be a great book with these two on it. Honestly, both of these guys would have to have a stroke and eat a bag-o-roofies to conjure crap and even then there would still be a few panels of genius. But THE WAKE is a cool concept that goes beyond a Mer-Man and is simply another sterling example of Snyder’s versatility. While he has a leaning towards horror, his ability to mute it for all age books like BATMAN and then ratchet things back up to adult level in books like AMERICAN VAMPIRE and now THE WAKE makes every book a surprise. Some writers can be good, but they are trapped by their own tone. Snyder’s only constraint is a lust for research; he lets the characters set the tone. THE WAKE is the perfect culmination of these two tenets and as a result provides a different experience than any other Snyder book.
It helps that THE WAKE isn’t straight horror. It’s a meld of horror, mystery, Sci-Fi and post-apocalyptic goodness – almost an amalgam of the entire Vertigo brand rolled into one. The main characters of THE WAKE are going to leave you scratching your head, especially the contestant behind door #3. But I think that’s kind of the point. Though each lives in their own time period; the present, 200 years from now and one-hundred thousand years ago – each is intertwined after only a few pages. Snyder also unfolds THE WAKE in a non-linear fashion, making each clue about the Mer-Man’s existence relate back to pages you just read and has a far reaching scope that affects the entire world from years before and years to come.
We open in the future, where a wind rider glides across a flooded city. She has a pet dolphin that was assimilated by the Borg that’s helping her look for…something. We then move to the brunt of the story in present day where we meet our other heroine, Lee Archer, a woman who cares more about studying whale song than spending time with her son. Archer is contracted (read as involuntarily drafter) by the NSA to join a team that consists of mythologist, a man of mystery and her former boss at NOAA to meet our Mer-Man…sing it with me now…unda da sea. Character 3 our head scratcher is a cave-man from a hundred thousand years ago who scribbles on a cave wall and then gouges out his eyes with a piece of tech way more than advanced than anything we would have a hundred thousand years from now. Confused? It’s OK, I’m not Snyder and his characterization does a hell of a lot of grounding to make these high level concepts grounded and relatable.
Murphy crushes it on pencils; his ability to create such unique faces and shapes given how “scratchy” his lines are is simply amazing. It’s not easy to convey water, especially so many shots under the waterline, but he does it and does it well. There’s also terrific use of scope in this book, from the broad open waters to the confines of submarines there’s a juxtaposition that makes the scary moments even scarier.
About six years ago I predicted that Geoff Johns would be placed in an editorial position at DC. Actually it was more of a request, but we’ll call it a prediction. I’m now making the same soothsaying statement about Snyder, THE WAKE proves to me that Vertigo’s next Karen Berger is sitting in the DC office already. He simply needs to spend a little less time with capes. Get THE WAK and show Vertigo we still love her, because she damn well deserves it.