Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DC Comics & Me

My history with the DC Characters started not with the comics, but with television.  I was too little to have watched the shows in their original runs.  As a 2 and 3 years old The Batman TV show and the Filmation Animated shows with Superman, Batman, Aquaman and more piqued my interest.  In the Filmation animated shows, I discovered the heroes I would always go back to, the Aquaman, Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hawkgirl/ Hawkwoman, the Flash, and the Teen Titans. In 1973 when I was 5, Super Friends came on TV; with that show I discovered Green Arrow and Plastic Man.  In 1974 at the age of 6, the Live Action Shazam! Saturday morning show premiered.  I discovered my favorite Superhero.  At the time DC did not own those rights outright, they would however later.  At age 6 I also discover the George Reeves Superman TV Show. Even back then I knew that they were not my speed.  They were cool, but I found the others cooler.

From time to time I would read the comics my maternal Aunts and Uncle had.  I was introduced to Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Swamp Thing, and many more.  When I was 10, we were living on Adak, Alaska.  My dad came home with a huge plastic garbage bag of good condition comics.  Among those were various DC titles including Adventure Comics with the Justice Society of America, Secret Society of Super Villains, The Flash, Green Lantern/ Green Arrow and more.  DC re-introduced me to something I discovered in Star Trek, Alternate Realities.  There was Earth One, where the bulk of their titles existed, where their main characters were in their prime.  Then there was Earth Two where the Golden Age versions of their character still existed.  There was Earth X where the Axis Powers won World War II; there Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters worked to free America from the yoke of Axis control.  I was hooked, but I was not allowed to buy my own.  When we moved we left them on Adak.

The reason for my prohibition from buying my own Superhero comics was a hold over from when I was 7 or 8.  My mom heard TV Educator and Star Fred Rogers say Superheroes only promoted violence in young boys, therefore were inappropriate for them.  I was only allowed Classics Illustrated, TV Show adaptations, Funny Books (Archie, Richie Rich and the like).  When I was 14, I started to buy my own comics.  I started with Who’s Who of the DC Universe.  It was a glorified DC Comics encyclopedia.   I reveled in all of the character minutia.  In 1984, I started to buy the New Teen Titans with issue 40.  That issue was the retirement of Dick Grayson, then Robin, and Wally West, then, Kid-Flash. Dick did not retire from Superhero business, just being Robin.  That was due to the recent introduction of a new Robin, Jason Todd.  Wally was having power issues at the time.  This was leading up to a huge story arc, the Judas Contract.  That storyline is considered one of the biggest in that title’s history.  I also went back to an old friend the Legion of Super-Heroes and I read Infinity Inc, following the second generation of superheroes from Earth Two.

Then in 1985 came Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It was one of the two first big event comics.  Whereas Marvel’s event was to sell toys, this was to streamline continuity.  There had been too many inconsistencies with the various Earths and travel between them.  Ironically this Multiverse was returned to DC decades later.  I was a huge fan of Artist George Perez and writer Marv Wolfman, who were also on New Teen Titans. For another decade I would always pick up the Universe spanning crossovers from DC. That stopped in the mid 1990’s.  I tried to do it again in the 2000’s and 2010’s, but was overwhelmed by the time I got to Blackest Night.

Among my Favorites from my teens to my twenties were, Justice League (Giffen era), Wonder Woman (George Perez Era), Jonah Hex (Joe Landsdale and Tim Truman), Superman (John Byrne), Power of Shazam (Jerry Ordway),  and New Teen Titans/ New Titans (Marv Wolfman).  New Titans’ continuity started to get too convoluted for me so I left, around 1995.  An imprint called Elseworlds started unofficially in 1989 with Gotham by Gaslight, Batman in the Victorian era. Officially it began in 1991 with Batman: Holy Terror, Batman in a world where Puritanism still exists.  This imprint sang to me.  Regardless of the characters, I tried to read as many of these as I could.

In my 20’s I started reading the Vertigo imprint. It was more adult titles, many from the second wave of British Comics writers: Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Jamie Delano and the like.  I started to divert from superhero comics in the early nineties.  Then in 1995, I quit comic entirely. I was out of it for 4 years.  When I came back it was because of Warren Ellis with Transmetropolitan, Planetary, and his run on StormWatch, which later became Authority.  At that time, Jim Lee’s WildStorm had just been sold to DC comics.   During most of the 2000’s and 2010’s I did not read many mainstream Superhero books.  I was reading quite a bit from publishers other than DC or Marvel.   Vertigo however was big.  I read Scalped, Fables, Transmetropolitan, the Witching Hour, Books of Magic, Jack of Fables, House of Mystery, the Witching, Goddess, Global Frequency, Orbiter, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade,  House of Secrets,  Sebastian O, Sandman Mystery Theater, V for Vendetta, We3, Madame Xanadu, Preacher, the Invisibles, and Y: The Last Man.

In the 2010’s I was getting all the huge crossovers, but I gave up, after trying to read the Blackest Night Saga.  I came back to DC during the New 52.  The New 52 was a somewhat relaunch of their whole Universe. They seemed to attempt more diversity.  The more interesting and out of the mainstream titles rarely lasted.  Presently I like the mystically oriented titles that have remained. The two titles that revived Earth 2 went by the wayside.  They got too convoluted in continuity and were tied to a couple crossovers. I am reading Grant Morrison’s Multiversity; it is a miniseries about the DC Multiverse.

Overall, I have fond memories of DC Comics and its imprints.  I have a fondness for certain characters: Captain Marvel/ Shazam, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Atom, the Flash, Hawkman, Hawkgirl/ Hawkwoman, the Marvel/ Shazam Family, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman. Beginning in the 2000’s, I started collecting the DC Direct/Collectibles Action Figures.  They were mostly of those Characters above and a few from WildStorm books and Vertigo books.  I am more discerning about new Action Figures.  

I tried a few DC Video games.  I liked Justice League heroes, even thought it was buggy. Injustice: Gods Among Us was great.  DC Universe Online was disappointing.  City of Heroes/ Villains and Champions Online were better Superhero MMO RPGs.  Mortal Combat versus DC Universe was interesting.  DC Comics characters are my favorites.  However I have never been a big fan of Superman or Batman.  I would buy those if there were particularly good stories.  One average I tended to avoid the big Two from DC.  I refrained from talking in detail about the New 52.  I plan to write further on that subject at a later date.

I enjoyed the Warner Brothers’ DC Animated shows from the 1990’s to present: Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice. In 2007 Warner Brothers Animation began their series of direct to DVD DC Universe Animated films.  I followed them all.  This series has been verily solid with story and voice acting.  DC Comic’s Live Action Films have been hit and miss.  They had early success in with Superman: The Movie and 1989’s Batman. Others have been disappointing.  I am very hopeful with the adaptation of Captain Marvel/ Shazam slated for a 2019 release.  The fist of these new DC universe Live Action films is slated for 2016 with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Many are waiting to see if DC Comics succeeds with these. That Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.

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