Today’s new guides for Patrons of Crushing Krisis fill in another of the six original pillars of Vertigo Comics, plus add some context to the foundations of the Sandman Universe…
Working on these guides emphasized the counter-intuitive fact that some well-known DC characters have appeared in far fewer comics than their lesser-known Marvel counter-parts.
Swamp Thing has a pretty obvious Marvel analog in Man-Thing, who not only shares a similar design and concept, but a creator in Len Wein.
Swamp Thing is the better-known character of the two by an order of magnitude, partially due to his pair of campy 1980s horror flicks. I assumed he would have a rich history of appearances throughout the DC Universe, especially since Man-Thing appears all over the place as a silent team member, a teleportation gimmick, and a random guest-star.
That’s just not the case. [Read more…] about New For Patrons: The Definitive Guides to Swamp Thing and DC’s Houses & Horrors
Today’s new guide Patrons of Crushing Krisis is actually three guides (or maybe four, by the time you read this), which seems like overkill for what is essentially a single title with an obvious ten-volume paperback line. But, it’s really so much more than that…
I am fascinated by how Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (and, in fact, all of the extended Sandman Universe) bridges the gap between comic books and serious literature.
That fascination has lasted for over 25 years – almost as long as Gaiman’s reinvention of the Golden Age character has existed.
Even the most-knowledgable comic fan could be forgiven for not knowing that Morpheus the King of Dreams was merely an iteration on an already-rebooted Golden Age DC hero. The original Sandman, Wesley Dodds, was a minor character who ran for seven years in the Golden Age and then popped back up twenty years later in the Earth 2 Justice Society of America in the Silver Age.
Without Gaiman and Morpheus, Dodds would probably be that one JSA member whose name you could never recall. His Silver Age iteration certainly wouldn’t jog your memory – a Kirby/Simon creation meant to be Mr. Sandman who lasted just six issues and who was later retconned in Wonder Woman to be a professor lost in the world of dreams.
There was no harm in Neil Gaiman revamping such a character to a more adult version early in the Post-Crisis years in 1989. At the time, Gaiman was still a relative unknown, coming off of the slept-on Black Orchid mini-series – a similar act of excavation and reinvention. He was so used to tepid reception to his early work that he expected Sandman to run just eight issues, which is why the first eight form such a satisfying arc despite being a mix of one-shots and continuing stories. He though that would be the whole series!
Instead, The Sandman became the springboard off of which Gaiman launched his multimedia fame in a miraculous three-year run from 1990-93 that saw him release Books of Magic at DC, the novel Good Omens (with Terry Prachett), win a World Fantasy Award in a category where Sandman wasn’t even eligible, essentially give birth to what we know as the modern American graphic novel market with the first two Sandman trade paperbacks, and top it off with the landmark Death: The High Cost of Living (the collection of which would be introduced by his friend and frequent name-checker, Tori Amos). [Read more…] about New for Patrons: The Definitive Guides to The Sandman Universe
Today’s new guide for Patrons of Crushing Krisis is for a character who has gone in and out of vogue for nearly five decades, but who is having perhaps his highest-profile year of all time in 2018…
Mister Miracle is having a very good year.
His 12-issue maxi-series from Tom King and Mitch Gerads is one of the biggest critical and fan hits of the year. It generates endless conversation, speculation, and dissection every month upon its release and both King and Gerads took home 2018 Eisner Awards for their work just halfway through the run.
This is not a coincidence. Not just because King and Gerads are both at the top of their games right now, but because Mister Miracle is a character who ebbs and flows. It was time for him to make his return.
Before this iteration, there was Grant Morrison’s reimagination of the character in 2005. Before that, a string of New Gods series from 1992 to 2002. Before that, a long run in the Justice League and his 28-issue 1989 series.
It all started in 1971, when Scott Free was one of the major creations of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC Comics. At the surface level, he seemed like an outlier – a random traveller on the countryside who stumbles into taking over the mantel of a famed escapologist. Yet, every issue unfurled more of Free’s complex entanglement with the wild world of Apokolips – from his epic love story with Big Barda to the and the nasty Granny Goodness and her female furies.
As it turns out, our charming Mister Miracle was actually the future sovereign of Apokolips… or of the more-peaceful New Genesis, based on a long-ago peace treaty slash child-swap between Darkseid and Highfather. When Scott Free defected from the pits of Apokolips to Earth, he voided the treaty.
All he had to do to fix things was give up his entire life. [Read more…] about New For Patrons: The Definitive Guide to DC’s Mister Miracle
Today’s guide for Patrons of Crushing Krisis gets me one step closer to covering DC’s pantheon of most well-established heroes, although this hero in particular has suffered many indignities over the years both in comics and in the court of public opinion…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been carefully dancing around addressing DC’s Golden Age in guides for a while now. Honestly, wrestling with Earth 2 and Earth 1 versions of Wonder Woman and Flash took the fight out of me, as did tracking all of the many anthology appearances of Green Arrow. It has been a relief to work on DC guides with titles set almost entirely in the Post-Crisis era, like Nightwing and Catwoman.
(Yes, I know I could just choose to skip the Golden Age portion of characters’ histories, but then I wouldn’t be creating the most-definitive character guides on the internet, would I?)
Despite the looming Golden Age challenge, I knew it was time to knock out the next of DC’s major Justice League heroes, and with Aquaman’s movie out next month he was the obvious choice over Green Lantern (oof, so many of them) or Superman (it’s still too scary to think about how I’ll organize that one).
As it turns out, Aquaman was the perfect DC character to ease me back into tracking Golden and Silver Age appearances.
Maybe that’s because he’s never been all that popular? That has always come as a shock to me, as a child of the 80s who knew Aquaman as an A-List cast member in DC Super Friends. [Read more…] about New For Patrons: The Definitive Guide to DC’s Aquaman
Today’s guide for Patrons of Crushing Krisis seemed like it would be a straight-forward team guide, but I wasn’t accounting for how unique each iteration of this death-defying squadron tends to be…
Suicide Squad wasn’t always a team of villains serving a compulsory stint as reluctant heroes.
The title has its origins in the Silver Age with a pair of paramilitary mad science tales in The Brave and the Bold and Star Spangled War Stories (which, by the way, means that Suicide Squad actually predates the Justice League by a few months).
That Squadron X was a wildly different team than the modern version lead by Amanda Waller. The two were cleverly linked in the wake of Legends, the first post-Crisis DC event. Legends served as the introduction to Waller and her team of ne’er-do-wells, most of whom were incredibly obscure villains. Captain Boomerang was probably the most widely-known of the original cast, at the time!
Of course, now we associate Suicide Squad as much with Amanda Waller and those once-obscure villains like Boomerang, Deadshot, and Enchantress as we do with Harley Quinn. That was all the work of the New 52 iteration of the team in 2011 and the 2016 film version. Harley’s addition to the Squad makes for an odd fit at points, but it’s the version that hit cinemas so it’s like to be a permanent change. [Read more…] about New For Patrons: The Definitive Guide to DC’s Suicide Squad – from Silver Age to Present Day!