Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 DCU Movie Fan Casting: D.B. Woodside as Steel (John Henry Irons)

John Henry Irons is one of my favorite DC characters, but there's some hard facts to deal with. Steel is the token black member of the Superman Family who basically combines low rent versions of Iron Man and Thor. He already had his own movie, starring Shaquille O'Neal, which was one of the worst super-hero flicks of all time. His highest aspiration would be to become the Rhodey of the Man of Steel franchise. There are more independent and iconic African/American heroes to get big "names," but I'd really like a good actor for this role. D.B. Woodside is 6'3", well built, and has genre cred from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. More importantly, the actor radiates intelligence and a quiet confidence that suits the technological brains behind the Morrison JLA and Christopher Priest's greatest run in comics.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 “139 Amanda Waller” by ColourOnly85

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I have an easier time recognizing "The Wall" in this minimalist extreme close-up than I do her appearances in New 52 comics.

I Want to be Evil

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Justice #12 (August, 2007)

Superman whined to himself about how he wished someone else was Superman, and how he's responsible for what happens to every bullet that bounces off his chest, and oh do cry us a river Man of Steel. No wonder so many people find you unsympathetic. Superman did this while smashing up the Toyman's city of malevolent playthings as the script writer caption box monologued like a low rent Alan Moore just as hard as he could, bless his heart. The physical Toyman was found to be a shirtless unkempt chubby geek overrun with Brainiac's nanotech who was obsessed with saving the children of the world in a vaguely pedo way, which is about as insightful as pointing out that wool is itchy, but the junior college will cash your Creative Writing 101 tuition check all the same. Finally, Toyman revealed how many nuclear warheads Brainiac had taken control of: "All of them." So money! So, so money!

Superman then flew to Scarecrow's city, where Green Lantern Hal Jordan handled citizens driven mad with fear. Yes fear. Will, against fear. Got it? This prompted Scarecrow to run away into a sewer... where the Joker happened to be lurking... dressed as Bela Lugosi's Dracula... and proceeded to bite his "Super Friend" on the neck for leaving him out of the Legion of Doom. META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs! META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs! META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs! META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs!

The Marvel Family flew the innocents out of Toyman's city atop a giant, er, top. Stretching men Plastic and Elongated were also essential for evacuations elsewhere. Most of the characters featured in the mini-series remained visible doing obligatory background stuff like that without contributing to the primary narrative. Lex Luthor was the main person responsible for finally corralling Brainiac, while others halted the doomsday missiles he'd launched. Zatanna was key to getting Superman to Brainiac over and over again, who was captured almost as an afterthought, and its not like his plan hadn't already been foiled. Basically, Superman was only around to rescue Zee after she was imperiled by the final leg of the pursuit. Later, the Man of Steel gave a frozen, miniaturized Brainiac to the Kandorian Museum. Batman-- get this-- Batman insinuates that this very capital-I IMPORTANT vanity project adventure might have been the first step toward lasting world peace, and it's insinuated that it leads to the utopic future of the Legion of Super-Heroes, including a gratuitous two-page spread.

The extra long, extra torturous final "Chapter Twelve" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite. None of these men have any share or even self-awareness.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Justice #11 (June, 2007)

Hal Jordan waxed philosophical about his foe Sinestro while providing narration for this issue. "Thanks to Sinestro, I was given a taste of what it would be like to rule everything. Thanks to my enemy, I will now never become anything like him... I don't need to be the greatest anything anymore. I just want to help my friends. And my world." I'm not sure if that was meant as a rebuttal against "Emerald Twilight" or if it reinforced it. All in all, it would really only take another random blow to the head to send Hal off in any given direction anyway.

The big siege progressed. Metallo tore apart Platinum while the Man of Lead continued fighting Black Adam. Parasite decided that he needed to "end this," so he grabbed Adam's foot to steal his powers, then swiped the kryptonite heart out of Metallo. Bizarro was grappling with the Man of Lead, affording Parasite the opportunity to rip through "Superman's suit" to discover Lead had actually helped to conceal Captain Marvel. The power of Shazam slammed Bizarro into Parasite, then the Big Red Cheese gave Hal Jordan the order. Iron's armor over Jordan had concealed the fact that Hal was wielding Sinestro's lost spare yellow power ring (that had been lent to Grodd but stolen by Metamorpho) through a filter of blue kryptonite. The blue K immediately took out Bizarro, while Captain Marvel crushed the piece of green K Metallo thrived on.

Ross had fixed the incorrect Platinum symbol on Plastic Man's armor to shift it to Tin, but it was never explained how Gold could pretend to be Green Arrow and cover Superman at the same time. Anyway, the shiny gold mummy quasi-Shazam Superman was attacked by the Parasite. Black Adam thought Captain Marvel liked seeing him weakened, but Billy was too innocent to enjoy another's suffering, though he was willing to choke Adam until he said the magic word. The ensuing lightning bolt conveniently struck Parasite on its way to removing Adam's powers. Plastic Man contained the Riddler in his fleshy mass while Tin (absent his familiar stutter) separated to cage Parasite. It seemed from his demonstrated pomposity that Ross and company had confused Tin with Mercury, who the Flash was still wearing, at least until he was used to gag Teth-Adam.

Green Arrow had delivered Hal Jordan's power ring to John Stewart, who by the spoken narrative grace of Jordan had been allowed access to Hal's incredible power as Green Lantern to free the teenage super-heroes from the control of Brainiac's nanotechnological worms. The same tech briefly retook the Leaguers made vulnerable by their release from the Metal Men "armor," but John Stewart promptly liberated them. Hal Jordan is so awesome for allowing his Negro acquaintance to save the day (but not allowing him any lines of his own, heaven forbidding such impropriety.)

Yellow Lantern Hal Jordan continued to match Sinestro with the same type of power ring, openly acknowledging that should he falter, John Stewart and the Justice League would surely avenge him. In response, Sinestro offered the scintillating bon mot "Shut up. Shut Up. Shut-the-hell-up!" Does Korugar even have a concept of Hell? When in doubt while writing Green Lantern dialogue, always try to hear Nathan Fillion saying Hal lines and Vincent Price saying Sinestro ones. Jordan and Sinestro tapped out their power source and switched up to mano-a-mano. Jordan beat Sinestro bloody, claiming that it was not vengeance he sought, but justice. Then both men fell through the top of a black city-sphere, and John Stewart apparently laughed off-panel as he returned Jordan's power ring so he could save himself and Sinestro.

The villains present on the main scene were either shut down by force or through the disabling of Brainiac's influence. That left the previously hostage supporting casts to mingle with their heroes, or in John Stewart's case, to get stuck with Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku, Carol Ferris, and Hal's brothers. The Flash and Iris West had a sweet if inhibited WASP pseudo-embrace, while Superman and Lois Lane had a big ol' sloppy wet P.D.A. Supergirl looked on from a distance as Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen milled about. Captain Marvel was oddly separated from Mary and Junior, preferring Zatanna's company (though who wouldn't?) Rita Farr held Robotman's brutally battered severed head.

The Super Friends followed Brainiac to Toyman's world, where Superman took the fight deep into the heart while everyone else tore apart duplicates of Brainiac in a somehow self-serious spread. Zatanna then teleported everyone but Superman to Scarecrow's creepy 19th century European faux city, though Green Lantern proved capable of taking it all on his own. The Indian girl from last issue was there, and her hands were already starting to hurt...

"Chapter Eleven" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite. After wasting all those early issues on individual attacks and a couple on the back end on big fights, these guys are having a heck of a time trying to tie the plot threads together. At least Elasti-Girl is consistently prominent in the crowd scenes, thanks to her stature.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Justice #10 (April, 2007)

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Previously in Justice

An Indian woman wrote her parents about the wonderful city run by a super-villain that she had run away to live in, and mentioned the differences between each villain's haven.

The seemingly triumphant Legion took to formal dress and toasted themselves in a building whose architecture recalled the Hall of Doom. The Atom was detected as a spy in their midst, and turned out not to be the only one, as armored heroes rushed the hall. Violence ensued. The Flash/Mercury used Plastic Man/Platinum to super-speed bind some villains. A Captain Marvel bound up in golden bandages (thought it was Metamorpho at first) and a Lead-plated Man of Steel clashed with Black Adam and Bizarro. Green Lantern paired off with Sinstro, and actually, most of the matches were entirely predictable.

The mind-controlled sidekicks of the main heroes were called in by the Legion as reenforcements, but were met outside the hall by the Doom Patrol. Robotman was torn to pieces by Mary Marvel, and Beast Boy fared little better against Kid Flash. Negative Man challenged Captain Marvel Junior as Elasti-Girl stood tall against Batgirl and the Teen Titans while wearing a mini-skirt. However, once Larry Trainor was forced to return his negative form to his corporeal body, Rita was overwhelmed by the Marvel Family. The Joker had managed to insert himself into the city, stole Robotman's severed head, and detonated bombs he'd planted all over town.

Platinum (Again? Spread thin?) and Gold pretended to cover Green Arrow and Black Canary, but that duo was secretly teleported into a sewer tunnel by Zatanna. Once there, they were attacked by Clayface (again,) who was contained by Green Arrow's "shadow," Elongated Man. Once the deception was detected, Gold and Platinum tangled with Parasite and Metallo, 'Tina ending up worse for wear. Superman knocked Toyman about while keeping a choke hold on Bizarro, but then Lead taunted Solomon Grundy and Kal-El took the brunt of the resultant punishment.

Green Arrow insisted that Black Canary save her sonic powers for a planned moment of truth, but once the pair located the supporting cast hostages, Ollie was left to deal with the possessed Supergirl. Dinah argued against Ollie firing a kryptonite arrow at the Maid of Might, a discussion super-hearing easily allowed Kara to act upon. Supergirl dodged the arrow, which struck John Stewart in the chest. As it turned out, all went according to plan, since the arrow actually had a power ring on its tip. Green Lantern declared "You're not killing any super-heroes today, Supergirl. You're going to help us save the world. Just like always.

"Chapter Ten" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Justice Volume Two (2007)

Superman was being held down by Solomon Grundy, while Metallo killed the Man of Steel slowly with radiation from his kryptonite heart. Bizarro and Parasite looked on, until lightning crossed the skies, and an unseen force began to attack the villains.

In no time, the Power of Shazam was at Superman's disposal. Captain Marvel had answered Kal-El's distress signal, and now offered a helping hand. Superman was too sick to hold himself up, and Bizarro had recovered, so the Big Red Cheese flew them both to safety. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor teleported to the scene to save Parasite from the kryptonite (he'd absorbed Superman's weaknesses with his strengths) that he replaced in Metallo's chest cavity. Bizarro rejoined the motley crew.

Dinah Lance walked into her bedroom to find her lover Oliver Queen buried under a fleshy mass, and with green arrows seemingly buried in his head. Whether this was from the Scarecrow's nightmare gases or Clayface's shifting form, an ear-splitting Canary Cry shook the facade loose. Ollie Queen yet lived, and shoved the sparking end of a busted lamp into Clayface's electrocuted hide.The villains fled, and a tearful Black Canary held her shaken man. Dinah wondered why her cry hadn't hurt Ollie, until he removed his earplugs. You see, Clayface had turned himself into a blond Dinah to trick Queen before the attack, not realizing Lance was naturally a brunette. Ollie figured he might be needing more than one form of protection, if his Pretty Bird was indulging in amorous role-play...

Green Lantern Hal Jordan had been forced through a Boom Tube by Sinestro and left in a starless, uncharted area of space. His power ring couldn't get him back home, so he asked it "How much longer before your charge runs out and I die?"

Superman guided Captain Marvel to the Batcave. None of the active Leaguers were answering his calls, so some reservists like the Captain had been notified. The Dark Knight was angry that Superman had compromised him, but Marvel assured, "I would never tell anyone about this place. Which is really cool, by the way." Marvel thought it might help to transform back into his normal self of kid reporter Billy Batson, but Batman just complained about the noise and magic lightning bouncing around his headquarters, not to mention questioning the kid's experience with "crime and loss." Billy politely blew off the Caped Crusader's ignorance, while Superman cold decked his friend. The Man of Steel was too weak for it to be a killing blow, but he gave it all he had, since Batman had palmed some kryptonite. X-ray Vision revealed that Batman was full of mind-controlling mechanical worms, and Superman soon realized he was similarly compromised. Alfred Pennyworth was too, as he covered Billy's mouth with one hand and threatened to slice the boy's throat with the Batarang in the other.

Lex Luthor cast black marbles into a body of water, and from out of it emerged ebony spheres the size of cities. This was Braniac's doing, and though one super-villain would inevitably betray the other, for now everything was going according to mutual plans.

Billy's heel slammed hard into Alfred's foot as he broke loose of the butler's grip. Superman pegged the manservant in the brow with a flung coffee cup, while with one magic word, Captain Marvel was restored. Alfred and the Batman were tied up. Next, Superman asked Marvel to throw him into the sun, in order to burn out the worms...

The powers of the gods allowed Captain Marvel to try to talk Superman out of the prescribed course of action while traveling through the vacuum of space. Wordlessly, the Man of Steel made it clear he was more afraid of his infestation making him the man who killed Captain Marvel than vice versa, so the Big Red Cheese threw Superman into the sun.

Hal Jordan was mildly amused to finally encounter a portion of space(?) the Guardians of the Universe knew nothing about, but not too much under the circumstances. His power ring only had seven hours worth of charge remaining, and he was potentially lost forever. Green Lantern decided to convert himself into electronic impulses stored within his ring, perhaps indefinitely.

"This involvement of Captain Marvel was unforeseen," noted Brainiac to Lex Luthor and Grodd. The Super-Gorilla seemed the most irritated by the party crasher, and was given permission to send the pseudo-prophetic nightmare shared by the Legion of Doom to Black Adam in order to increase their numbers.

Ablaze with solar energy, the Man of Tomorrow was restored. On learning that Superman had rid himself of a worm-like bodily invader, Captain Marvel offered Mr. Mind as a suspect. Just as the pair were reaching the JLA Satellite, it exploded in front of them. Captain Marvel asked if Superman detected any trace of Red Tornado in the debris...

John Stewart told Zatanna when he arrived at Ferris Aircraft Company, and asked that she thank Elongated Man for calling him in. On the property, Stewart met with Hal Jordan's sometimes girlfriend Carol Ferris and sidekick Tom Kalmaku. Stewart was searching for Hal, but the best idea "Pieface" could offer was pointing to the sky. "Thanks. That narrows it down."

Hal Jordan knew that it was Sinestro who had "killed" him via Boom Tube, but tried to move on with his everlasting illusion of life. Simulations of Coast City and its residents were constructed, but they were hollow things, and Green Lantern wondered how long he would wait before allowing space to take him...

An emaciated Flash continued to run across the globe, surely doomed to die from exhaustion...

Brainiac was aware Aquaman's body had been found, but it served its purpose of distracting the League, since Lex Luthor had failed to assassinate the super friends. Of course, Brainiac himself hadn't found in the Sea King's brain what he was looking for, so it was up to Gorilla Grodd to initiate a new phase in the trio's plans. Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Mary Batson, Freddy Freeman, Jean Loring, Carol Ferris, Steve Trevor, John Stewart, Dick Grayson, Wally West... all targeted...

Once again, the Wisdom of Solomon trumped any thoughts in Superman's head. Captain Marvel flew as close to the wayward Flash as he could, and with one magic word, magical lightning shook the Scarlet Speedster out of his uncontrollable race toward death. Superman caught Billy Batson before any harm could come to him, then gave him space for the power of Shazam to restore Captain Marvel. Getting thrown into the sun had burnt up the Man of Steel's wallet, so Earth's Mightiest Mortal came to the rescue again, offering his only ten bucks to feed the Flash at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Hal Jordan was already feeling like death in a self-centered world of his own making. However, his power ring refused to restore his physical form for such an end. "Your essence has been converted into an electrical impulse that has been stored within the ring... You will now live forever. Alone."

In Shazam's lair within an abandoned subway tunnel, Black Adam covered Mary's mouth, and threatened to kill her if Freddy said a word...

Superman arrived at his Fortress of Solitude, greeted by fellow heroes awaiting him...

In an Arabian desert, the Flash broke up Captain Cold's mini-harem. "You tried to kill me. And that means you tried to kill everyone I hope to save until the day I die. That's a lot of people." Cold should have pointed out that if he had succeeded, the Scarlet Speedster still would have saved everybody he saved until the day he died, but since he didn't die, he might ought to consider swapping a chemistry class for some remedial English. Instead, Cold drew a replica pistol made of ice, which Flash totally fell for, so maybe he needed another police detective class, too. Captain Cold froze up a hall of mirrors, and when that didn't work, created sculptured duplicates of himself. Failing yet again, Captain Cold was run to the Fortress of Solitude.

Still trapped in his power ring, Hal Jordan argued with simulations of his brothers about the benefits of lacking fear, and where his adventuring ways landed him.

Batman, having interrogated Captain Cold, learned all about the prophetic nightmares that motivated the villains to action. Black Canary wondered if the Legion of Doom thought they were doing the right thing, but Batman explained that the villains wouldn't have tried to turn the situation to their advantage to lord over potential survivors if their hearts were truly in the right place.

Supergirl, Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon were all captured by Legion forces.

Hal Jordan had regressed to childhood, which is why he wished to heed the command of his parents not to talk to the Stranger who had paid him a visit. "So there you are, Hal. I've been looking everywhere for you." The Phantom Stranger then helped Hal with some self-realization psychobabble about not trying to remake the real world in his image/with great power comes great moderation/how the League helps Hal check his head/yadda yadda. The important thing was the the Stranger brought a power battery and a direction home, so Green Lantern could try to look cool saying his oath in a painted splash page.

All the heroes were together at the Fortress of Solitude, except John Stewart, who got himself kidnapped by the mind-controlled kid sidekicks of other heroes (mostly the Teen Titans and the Marvel Family.)

"Justice, Vol. 2," collecting issues #5-8 of the 2005 mini-series, was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Justice Volume One (2006)

The world was ending, and Superman could do little more than watch as Wonder Woman died. A tearful Flash failed his city, and Martian Manhunter was already gone. Green Lantern Hal Jordan was more effective, almost saving hundreds, before a lapse in attention saw them all to their ends. Hawkman and Hawkgirl passed. Aquaman saw the oceans boil away. Green Arrow fired an arrow line from a burning rooftop to another building in hopes of saving Black Canary and others. As the arrow struck, the whole building collapsed, stranding hard traveled heroes on a doomed plain. Batman was among the last remaining as the Earth exploded.

The Legion of Doom found "It's time to wake up. They are all having the same dream. Over and over again. Every one of them. All so humanity will survive these creatures of tomorrow." The Justice League of America would fail us in this predicted future, it seemed, so it was up to the super-villains to save the world. For starters, Captain Cold would bring ice to the desert, while Black Manta handed a fallen Aquaman to Lex Luthor...

Batman pursued the Riddler, who had successfully hacked the Batcomputer and downloaded sensitive information related to the JLA's identities and abilities.

Red Tornado sought the missing Aquaman by proxy, alerting Batman, Superman and Martian Manhunter to be on the lookout.

Plastic Man endorsed his own themed credit card in his off time.

Potions administered by Dr. Jonathan Crane (The Scarecrow) allowed the infirm to walk again.

Red Tornado followed the global news media love for the newly found charitability of super-villains.

The Flash took a jogging trip through the Middle East, and discovered his old foe Captain Cold had helped turn desert to forest with Poison Ivy.

The Riddler was captured and deposited at Arkham Asylum, where the Joker pleaded upon deaf ears to be included in Nigma's grander scheme.

Aquaman found himself strapped to an operating room table, about to have his mind dissected by Brainiac.

Aquaman remained Brainiac's captive, as he was teased with psychological trauma on an operating room table.

Martian Manhunter searched for his friend Aquaman in the ocean, and uncovered the Legion of Doom's black dome.

Gorilla Grodd telepathically surveyed all, but targeted the Manhunter.

The Toyman supplied artificial limbs to disabled children in war torn countries.

Conservative commentator Jack Ryder considered on television the benefits of the super-villains' change of heart. Ray Palmer was watching, as were Ollie Queen, Billy Batson, Clark Kent, the Metal Men, the Doom Patrol and more.

The Cheetah lurked outside a Wonder Woman convention.

Edward Nigma escaped Arkham Asylum with help from the visiting Lex Luthor. The Joker demanded inclusion in their Legion of Doom, but was ignored and left behind in his cell.

Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and Red Tornado were assaulted and seemingly left for isolated deaths. Gorilla Grodd released the alter egos of Earth's heroes to the Legion of Doom.

Lex Luthor, Poison Ivy, Black Manta and the Riddler, all in civilian garb, announced through holographic projectors in a host of languages that they were essentially taking over the planet for its own good. They also condemned the half-measures of Earth’s former heroes, who they claimed had abandoned their charges. Instead, the Legion of Doom had launched attacks of the super friends in their secret identities.

Bizarro burst through the ceiling of Clark Kent's apartment, and pulled Superman out to fight in the steets of Metropolis.

Hal Jordan was looking in his locker at Ferris Aircraft when Sinestro showed up to shove Green Lantern into another plane of existence.

The impossibly cut abs of the brunette Dinah Lance didn't save her stomach from doing cartwheels when the Scarecrow's gas caused her to see insects crawling about her apartment. A blond wig clued Ollie Queen that he was in for a serious night of sexing with Black Canary, until this version of a barely dressed Dinah began to melt and ooze all over him.

The Cheetah slashed at a Princess Diana turned Wonder Woman.

The Hawks and the Atom faced assassins at their respective workplaces.

Martian Manhunter continued to struggle.

Bizarro was bad enough, but then Solomon Grundy began contributing to the blows striking Superman. Brought to his knees, the Man of Steel was held fast, and began to be drained of life force and powers by the Parasite. Metallo's kryptonite heart further compromised Kal-El's health as he called out for help.

Barry Allen was on a date with Iris West at a nice restaurant when a JLA alert forced the Flash to his feet...

"Justice, Vol. 1," collecting the first four issues of the 2005 mini-series, was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! Skitters Entry

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Here's Ambush Bug's pet, as created by Steven Korté and Art Baltazar. I know he's a doll, but wherefore art thou, Cheeks? The full color magazine sized 128-page book is available for just $7.95 in paperback or $18.95 in hardcover from Picture Window Books, a capstone imprint.

DC Super-Pets!
  • Jumpa @ Diana Prince is the New Wonder Woman
  • Spot @ Power of the Atom
  • Tibbar @ Justice League Detroit
  • Zook @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2009 Essen Internationale Spieltage SPIEL Batman & The Huntress commission by Stjepan Šejić

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"one of many comishs i did for the essen convention in october, done with copics and a white marker"
Stjepan Šejić

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1 (July, 2013)

Young Prince Mohammed Qahtanii wanted the opportunity to show his father that he could make big money and prove himself a better successor than his cousin, but do it on his own terms. Lying to his brawny bodyguard Abisha and acting against his father's will, "Mo" attended an illegal "Poxpo" (Pop-Up Expo) in New York City. Thrown together discretely and on short notice like a rave, poxpos allowed inventors to show off their wildest creations to the Green Team, filthy rich teenagers looking to improve the world with their fortunes. Mo was greeted by Lucia Lynn Houston, betraying an awkward but mutual attraction between the new acquaintances. L.L. brought Mo to her brother J. P. Houston and event mastermind Commodore Murphy, whose actress girlfriend Cecilia Sunbeam was in tow. Commodore had turned down a bid from Mo's father to buy his development firm, and Commodore had unsuccessfully tried to get the old man to visit a poxpo and consider investing in the good of the planet.

Mo was in over his head, unable to keep up with either Commodore or his own father. Worse, Mo had been uploading pictures with the Green Team hashtag to social media. J.P. noted the security breach, as Commodore explained that their self-promotional activities were restricted to uploads performed after the Green Team left an undisclosed location, whereas Mo had lit a "giant frigging arrow" for any of the many nutcases that had it in for his friends. Sure enough, the self-replicating class warrior super-villain Riot made the scene, punching Commodore and shoving a gun in people's faces.

Against the protests of J.P., Commodore had been working his way toward turning the Green Team into actual super-heroes. Abisha stepped in to defend the Prince against Riot, and the detraction allowed Commodore to activate discs purchased from a "sketchy" source that provided him with a suit of power armor. Unfortunately, he wasn't at all well versed in how to use it. Meanwhile, Mo commandeered a laser on display that could be directed by a smart phone to retaliate, but Riot was already taking hostages...

"Riot Act" was by Art Baltazar & Franco and Ig Guara & J. P. Mayer.

New 52's Day

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"The Way of the Warrior" Podcast Part 1

Luke Jaconetti is an infrequent contributor here at DC Bloodlines, plus he’s a brother in the Justice League of Bloggers with his Hawkman page Being Carter Hall. Recently, Luke guest-starred on Shawn Engel’s Green Lantern podcast Just One of the Guys, covering the “Way of the Warrior” crossover.

Guy Gardner had been fighting with Hal Jordan over who would serve as Green Lantern of Earth. When he lost, Guy spent a mini-series looking for a new source of power to continue being a super-hero, which ended up being the yellow Qwardian power ring stolen off the corpse of Sinestro. After a little over a year in his own series, Guy learned that the Green Lantern Corp had been destroyed by a Hal Jordan driven mad by the destruction of Coast City. Gardner led a team of powerful heroes against Hal, but the unit failed. Gardner's power ring was destroyed, and after another quest, Guy Gardner gained the ability to turn his body into a shifting variety of weapons thanks to an unknown alien Vuldarian heritage, and took on the codename Warrior. This attracted the Tormocks, who had been enemies of the Vuldarians before they had been wiped out, and now sought their last living representative.

Meanwhile, the greatest heroes of the DC Universe were brought together by Ganthet the Guardian to assist the last remaining Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Hal Jordan, now calling himself Parallax, wanted Rayner's ring for his collection...

I thought folks might like to give these podcast episodes a listen, which you can download here. I was fairly fit to burst with comments, so I'll take advantage of promoting the podcast and run them below.

Green Lantern #63 (Begins at 8:11)
I’m not sure if I ever actually read “Parallax View”… I may have just thumbed through it. I never committed to Ron Marz’s Green Lantern run, but guest stars and events kept me coming back so often, I probably ended up with a quarter or more of it in my longboxes. Most of it was alright, but this one always struck me as pure stunt-- all sizzle and not a bite of steak. Also, in 1995 I was not following books for Martian Manhunter, but was most certainly doing so for Wonder Woman. Alas, no Diana, no dice.

I like how each of the Green Lanterns had their own personal types of ring constructs. Alan Scott seemed to favor Arthurian imagery and flames. John Stewart’s intricate designs were my favorite, but Kyle Rayner’s pop culture/anime stuff was cute. Guy Garner’s should have been more violent and over the top, like something from Looney Tunes mixed with Rambo, which is sort of how he manifested during his Warrior days. Hal Boredan always had the most low-to-middlebrow constructs, which suits him, but it’s also one of many reasons I can’t stand the dude.

Following Zero Hour, Oliver Queen shaved off his goatee, and occasionally wore the same type of suit most associated with his son Connor Hawke. He was still alive in the summer of 1995, as he wouldn’t perish until the following year’s Green Arrow #100-101. Like two peas in a douchebag, I have about as much regard for Ollie as I do Hal. I could see him stiffing a waitress on a tip over some trumped up grounds, but that would have nothing to do with his being a liberal. If anything, evidence would suggest a liberal would be a better tipper, even if you subscribe to the notion of their being elitists looking to “take care” of the “lower classes.” Tightwad conservatives, bootstrap Randians, and faux-Christians who can’t imagine tipping more than they tithe are far more likely to stiff the service industry.

Black Canary was a brunette who wore a blond wig as a disguise until the first Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey special in 1996. There was always fan confusion on the matter, so DC finally gave up and had Dinah start dying her hair instead.

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1994 Zero Arrow Green Arrow redesign style guide turnaround by Mike Norton & Scott Hanna

I read X-Men comics throughout the ‘80s, and even when I dropped the actual books in the early ‘90s, I still followed the ersatz versions in the Avengers, New Titans and Justice League lines. The League was the least suited to ape the mutants, since they were still straightforward super-heroes working with the U.N., and their interpersonal dynamics were never familial/unified by minority. Thanks to all the Post-Crisis reboots and the bias against the comedy in JLI, only the dregs of DC Comics were made available across three team books, and DC has never been as egalitarian as Marvel to boot. Evidence of DC’s contempt for Wonder Woman includes her being forced to lead J.L.A. teams that included Nuklon, Obsidian, Crimson Fox, Metamorpho, de-powered Fire, Icemaiden, Agent Liberty, Black Condor, Maxima, de-powered/Liefeld-armored Booster Gold, Blue Devil, El Diablo, and the Yazz as members. I don’t miss any of those series, but the last year and a half of Justice League Task Force under Christopher Priest are very good reading involving some seriously underwhelming characters legitimized by the book’s overall quality. Bucking the contemporary trends, the Neal Adams/John Buscema influence seen in artists Sal Velluto and Ramon Bernardo holds up better two decades on than the Image wannabes.

I was a fan of the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI, but I didn’t bother with Jurgens’ awful continuation until years after initial publication. As a Wonder Woman fan, I decided to use the #0 issue to jump back on Justice League America in 1994, and suffered through a year of miserable crap that mostly continued/wrapped storylines from the deservedly cancelled Justice League Europe from which the “new” creative team had come. The book finally began to improve after the “Way of the Warrior” crossover, to the point that I was almost sorry to see it go in 1996. Those Flicker appearances bugged me, because he was never properly introduced in J.L.A., under the assumption that he’d be familiar to Green Lantern readers and the rest of us could go screw.

Guy Gardner: Warrior #32 (Begins at 45:33)
I jumped on Guy Gardener with #20, totally dug it through #25, bought all the back issues, and watched its steady decline from there. Decent crossovers and surprisingly great fill-in artists buoyed the book for a while, but in retrospect "The Way of the Warrior" was when the wheels fell off. The plot was a stupid disjointed mess, and after this issue, the art and storytelling on the flagship book of the event was the worst of the lot. After Chuck Dixon and Beau Smith had spent over a year turning Guy into a respectable hero, it seemed like this one violent temper tantrum was throwing all that effort into the trash. I was cool with the new costume and tats so long as Mitch Byrd was drawing them, but nobody else made it work for me. Smith had a terrible habit in these issues of having every damned character tell the readers fawningly how much more powerful Guy was and how much he had changed. The hard sell was sickening, like everyone was breaking character mid-show to sell Marlboros or Ovaltine. Hawkman did a nice job announcing his primary role in the crossover by ordering Extreme Justice and the JLTF to fall in and prepare for war.

There have never been a lot of female artists in comics, and especially in 1995, the ones who were had "girlie" styles that weren't in step with the times. For a while, Joyce Chin was the only woman who could hang in the Chromium Age. She wasn't at 100% by this point, but I liked her work, and watched it improve through another project with Beau Smith, Wynonna Earp. Most of this issue is kind of rough, with a few exceptionally bad panels, but there were others where Chin strutted. Wonder Woman, Tigerman and Arisia came out best. Chin's married to Arthur Adams, by the way.

I hate it when Christ imagery is used in relation to Superman. He was created by Jews as a diaspora allegory with an origin story cribbed from Moses who continues to act more like the Zionist conception of a messiah than the Christian one. The most Christlike DC icon should be Wonder Woman, created by gentiles espousing a universal approach to redemption in line with the school of Hillel. Even her predilection for BDSM recalls the Passion. Luke’s description of her compassion and “bountiful love” is spot on, so when she runs around stabbing people and choking them with her lasso, it might as well be a cat o’ nine tails. I liked Guy Gardner in JLI, but I became for a time a devoted fan of the character after his thoughtful interaction with Wonder Woman in Warrior #20. I came for the Amazing Amazon’s guest appearance, and stayed because Beau Smith impressed the hell out of me with that moment. It’s a shame he never wrote the character in her own book, as his handling was better than most of the folks who did.

Justice League America #101 (Begins at 1:14:45)
I knew that I no longer my Hawkman collection, but I thought for sure J.L.A. was still somewhere around the house. So much for certainty. They're gone too. When I read these comics (OMFG) EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, I didn't realize that Obsidian was supposed to be gay. I just thought he was suicidally depressed and annoyingly needy.

I met Chuck Wojtkiewicz at the 2000 San Diego Comi-Con. If I recall correctly, he pronounced his name “Voight-kev-itch.” It took me a long while to warm to his work, but by the end of his run I was really into his expressive figures and voluptuous ladies. I inquired about buying some of his art, including pages from a rejected New Gods proposal. He was asking $200-250 at a time when I’d been spoiled by $40-100 pages by bigger names in the early days of eBay. Good stuff though. Like a lot of guys after the bust, he moved on to animation, and then into video games (including design work on the DCU MMORPG.)

Hawkman #22 (Begins at 1:24:23)
It’s funny when Luke characterizes the Hawkman/Guy Gardner team-up as true “warriors.” Katar Hol’s more reluctant, contemplative soldier/policeman seemed to match that more than the zealous bloodletting of the avatar/Hawkgod version. Meanwhile, Guy always seemed puffed up playing as a tough guy, even though he was just a gym teacher, unlike his hero cop brother. See also the subdued attitude of the ex-marine sniper John Stewart versus the swagger of the civvie Guy. I guess “Weekend Warrior” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

At the time, it drove me nuts that Wonder Woman was featured so prominently on covers for this crossover, and in a book written by William Messner-Loebs, but did not join in with her own title. In retrospect, this took place during the writer’s final arc on the title, so there was no room for her to get involved. Mike Deodato Jr. was leaving with #100, and I believe Messner-Loebs was pushed off the title after three years to make room for John Byrne. Diana’s little known stint as a back-up dancer for C+C Music Factory was her sad stab at Doomsday/Knightfall infamy, and if you think it looked bad in black, you should have seen Brian Bolland’s garishly colored original design (I think I remember a red or pink Exposé mini-jacket.) Both the redesign and the arrival of Artemis were a commentary on/satire of the Chromium Age, as best as I can tell. Then again, Messner-Loebs joined Ed Benes for an Artemis mini-series, so maybe it was an example of totally selling out. Both Guy Gardner and Diana were on that series of crappy holofoil silhouette 100th issue covers within months of one another. Messner-Loebs was off Hawkman just a few months later, then he took over Thor from Warren Ellis for his last good run in the comics industry.

Monday, August 5, 2013

2008 Green Lantern Guy Gardner Wizard World Chicago Comic Con Commission

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"Wizard World Chicago 2008 - Scanned in from sketchbook"
Mike Norton

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fanboy Funky Fashion: Nightwing

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Dick Grayson is one of my lifelong favorite heroes. It was swell when he transitioned from Robin to Nightwing, except for the "Disco Elvis" v-neck vampire collar jumpsuit designed by George Perez. Tom Grummett tried to modernize his gear in the early '90s, but turning yellow feathers into actual wings and adorning Dick with a mullet arguably made the problems worse. Around 1994, I was obsessed with working out an improved design, as evidenced by this page of tiny doodles and color tests. I did finally arrive at a costume that I was very happy with... so happy that I didn't want to give it away to DC Comics. Instead, I developed a new character around that suit, variations of which I erased from the above aesthetic assault.

Pooping on the DCU

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Movement #1 (July, 2013)

Coral City: Two cops busted some teenagers in an alley. They found drugs on the boy, yet they planned to let him go... so long as they got to keep the evidence for themselves and get a peek at his girl, first. The cops' incriminating words were electronically thrown back at them as dozens of masked outcasts played back recordings of the dirty duo. The cops bugged out, but the footage was delivered to local news outlets for broadcast by the anonymous activists of the controversial hacker group Channel M. Their Captain wanted to dump the cops on administrative leave, but their union protected them until they faced formal charges.

Meanwhile, another victim of the Cornea Killer turned up in "The 'Tweens," a neighborhood under complete control of the super-human group "The Movement." When a young teen identified only as "Burden" was brought into a nearby church by a minister, he suddenly appeared to be possessed by the devil. The Aryan lad's ruckus attracted the nearby police, but the cops were driven out by a rampaging horde of rats under the control of the metahuman Mouse. More police had their squad cars destroyed by Tremor. The winged vigilante Katharsis caught up with one of the dirty cops and beat him bloody. A woman called Virtue told the Captain that the police were not allowed in the 'Tweens, and "read" him, learning his wife was having an affair with one of his subordinates. The Captain wasn't inclined to listen to her demands, but when he tried to borrow the minister's phone, found that the holy man had a Channel M mask of his own, as did each member of his congregation present. While the Captain cowered in shock, the Movement took on Burden, who they realized was a super-human with mental disorders rather than a possession of the infernal.

"Eaten from the Inside Out" was by Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II. So DC set up this (politically outdated) stunt with the release of two new titles in the same month, one to represent the 99% of average people, and one for the 1% of super-rich who control more than a third of all wealth. This one was by a name writer with a commercially known artist featuring the kewl rebel kids, and the other one was by kiddie book creators whose title was in a cancellation dead pool before the first issue was even solicited. Surprisingly, this one was much less good. The characters are far less sympathetic-- obnoxious caricatures of Anonymous that play as a seriously off-brand X-Men at best but really more like cheesier unhip wannabes of yore like the Wolfpack/Fallen Angels/Psi-Force. Between the rigged rhetoric and the lame chartacter intros lies a threadbare plot and an insubstantial read. Williams' art isn't the annoying cornball chiarascuro of Captain Atom, but he's still drawing grim n' gritty posed action figures instead of human beings. More than anything, this debut reminds me of Grant Morrison's parody of Rob Liefeld, Doom Force, rather than the many crappy but sincere New Mutants knock-offs, and this is easily the worst thing I've ever read from Simone. The only movement I felt was in my bowels.

New 52's Day

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2011 Deathstroke Portrait Series color art by Terry Huddleston

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"A special request from a customer that bought an entire set of my new Marvel and DC Portrait series!!"
The Great Wall of Villains

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Showcase #4 (October, 1956)

Police scientist Barry Allen was splashed with chemicals charged by a lightning bolt. After speeding past a taxi and catching a falling dinner, Barry suspected that he had acquired super-speed. Spotting a stray bullet in midair, Allen saved Iris West. The gunman, a bank robber called the Turtle Man, was on the loose. Barry created a special ring that could compress and contain his costumed identity of the Flash, then brought the robber to justice as the first new hero of the Silver Age.

"Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt" was by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino & Joe Kubert.

Later, various odd items were being stolen throughout the city. The thief was Mazdan, a criminal from the future who was due to be imprisoned on desolate 50th century Earth, but was instead transported back to the time of Barry Allen. Firing a gun that produced rings of heat was not enough for Mazdan to stop a fresh Scarlet Speedster. A captive Mazdan escaped prison using a chemically treated eye lens to burn through his bars. Captured again, Mazdan was transported back to his own time by the Flash, on foot, breaking the time barrier.

"The Man Who Broke the Time Barrier!" was by John Broome, Carmine Infantino & Joe Kubert; all overseen by Julius Schwartz.

For more Flash action today, check out his team-up with the Atom in "The Challenge of the Expanding World"

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Justice League: 7 Recommendations for The Motion Picture

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Previously, we've talked about the scrapped plans for Justice League: Mortal circa 2007, an overview of DC Comics Super-Media, and thoughts on how Warner Brothers should approach their super-heroes in the age of Marvel Studios. The sum total of all this is to just say "no" to a Justice League movie anytime soon, especially one with no director, screenplay or stars but still shooting for a 2015 release date. Well, unless they got Lars von Trier on a barren stage with chalk outlines of buildings the actors would destroy by rubbing up against them furiously. That would make hardcore fans melt like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Arc, but they could follow it up with Abel Ferrara's The Dark Knight Degradation: Port of Call: Gotham City, so it would be worth it.

Alternately, there's the plan to re-team Zack Snyder and David Goyer (& Christopher Nolan?) for a second Superman film and then for Justice League, which optimistically puts the latter into 2017-2019. Also, have you seen “Man of Steel”? That's an awful lot of eggs in one basket of questionable integrity. Whatever my protestations, we're liable to have a Justice League flick on screens before the end of the decade. I'd therefore like to offer some conceptual donations to the damage control likely necessary in the event of such a thing happening. Anything I can do to make it less bad (or dare I dream even decent) would be well worth the time taken to type this stuff.

1. Must we assume the inclusion of Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman?

The one unwavering certainty in all Justice League movie coverage I've read is that the DC Trinity will be a major part of the team. That makes a certain sense in the bankability department, because there's mathematical formulae for how many asses each character is guaranteed to put in a seat. That's probably how a movie as costly and lame as Superman Returns managed to break even. However, if you launch a Justice League movie with these three headliners and it isn't up to par, you've tarnished all three brands in the public eye simultaneously. Batman could handle that, but we're still watching the long game on Man of Steel and no assumptions are safe with regard to its sequel's performance. We don't even have a Wonder Woman movie yet, so her franchise potential could be snuffed by a poor showing amidst the JLA. The other primary heroes tied into movie talk are Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Flash, all of whom have failed to perform when given opportunities (one cinematic dud, one live action season, two single animated seasons decades apart, and a failed pilot between them.) They would likely be toast if Justice League failed, and it wouldn't even necessarily be their fault, since the Trinity would surely dominate. At least a Justice League comprised of second stringers would stand or fall on its own merits.

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In the wake of The Dark Knight Rises, the next Batman film will require at the very least a new director and lead actor (even a returning Joseph Gordon-Levitt would count as such,) if not a total reboot. Viewers need a chance to get into the next creative team for the Caped Crusader before he's dumped into a team movie, especially since a major part of the fun in a film like Marvel's The Avengers is in having performers comfortable in their roles playing off one another. You don't get that if everyone is new to the job.

Wonder Woman needs and richly deserves her own standalone film, and Henry Cavill requires another film to develop a fuller personality than the iconic but embryonic Superman seen this summer. Even Robert Downey Jr. struggled for breathing room when surrounded by other heroes in Iron Man 2, and he left the first one in a stronger place than Cavill. I also believe that if Superman and Batman are to share a cinematic universe, the transition would be much smoother (and a separate revenue stream could be generated) from their meeting one-on-one for a World's Finest or (bleh) Versus movie. These are the two greatest super-heroes of all time, and their joining forces is a plenty rich vein to mine on its own. Further, I really prefer Superman and Batman already be well acquainted before entering a team movie, since that friendship would preclude the infighting that served Avengers well, but would be repetitive and forced if applied to the JLA.

2. Must Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman necessarily serve in the most obvious way possible?

We don't know what kind of deal Henry Cavill cut to play Superman, but every Batman actor to date has been a respectable star capable of throwing weight around in negotiations. The next guy to don the cape and cowl will have a mighty big costume to fill, which either means the aforementioned "breaking-in" solo movie or a star who might not necessarily jump through the Justice League's hoops. It might be smarter to have Batman in more of a cameo role. While I would personally be fine with the Trinity sitting out the entire first installment of a JLA series, how outrageous and exciting would it be to watch other heroes take on, say, Starro, only to find that they have to battle the possessed Trinity unannounced in the third reel? Audiences would be stunned and spread their enthusiasm across the land. The Trinity actors would get a reasonable payday for minimal work, since that big final battle would surely involve lots of stunt doubles and CGI. As an added bonus, you get the super-hero fisticuffs fans love while serving the higher purpose of establishing second tier heroes through direct, victorious conflict with bigger names. As an added bonus, no Darkseid, which should help against unflattering direct comparisons to Thanos (unfair as they may be.)

The Avengers got a lot of fan mileage through heroes fighting heroes because of egos, misunderstandings, and emotional instability. Justice League can cash in on this, but the best way to my mind is by raising the stakes. Superman being mind controlled by Brainiac or Hal Jordan turning up dead/possessed because of Sinestro/Parallax are scary propositions, especially when “Man of Steel” demonstrated the carnage that can come with these types of guys trying to be good. Give the secondary heroes a chance to shine and be counted amongst the biggest guns so everyone benefits.

3. Might someone other than the World's Finest benefit from a "double feature?"

I can understand why Warner Brothers would want to rush out a team film, but if they want a stable central franchise that they can orbit additional movies around, a proper foundation has to be laid down. Man of Steel is establishing the Henry Cavill Superman, so he could pay it forward by propping up the next Batman should he debut in World's Finest, and their interplay could develop Superman in return. If audiences reject the World's Finest Batman, Warner Brothers still has a clear lane to reboot Batman almost immediately in a recast solo feature, or just give in to another actor debuting in Justice League.

Meanwhile, the reception to Green Lantern was tepid, but there was still talk of a sequel after all the bills had been counted. If the Galactic Guardian can't quite buoy his own follow-up, what about introducing the Flash in the next feature and teaming them up? Ryan Reynolds could take another shot at making "funny" Hal Jordan work with a straight man in Barry Allen, or in a really bold move, kill/corrupt Jordan and introduce Green Lantern John Stewart as his replacement.

Technically, you still have the familiar elements from Green Lantern, but remixed into something that should reignite interest in the property. Further, you get a Marvel-style build toward Justice League in half the time. Also, a common criticism of super-hero movies is that they lose steam going into third act, since so much time is spent on the origin that anything left over feels like excess. Since there's already been a Green Lantern movie, the Flash could dominate the origin portions while Green Lantern's b-story builds a pressing threat requiring a team-up. Instead of the rushed, inorganic, tired hero's journey of Martin Campbell's film, the Flash could establish competency within the context of a "team-up" movie.

To be honest, I question whether the Flash's powers could visually sustain a film on their own, so having a Lantern around would take some of the pressure off. Unlike the crowded Iron Man 2, no one hero is meant to dominate, and each hero supplies a needed ingredient rather than horning in on one another's action. I think it could be as refreshing as the team dynamic in Avengers, where each character brought something to the story that enhanced the whole.

4. How about foregoing the DC Trinity entirely?

Unlike Marvel Studios, Warner Brothers has access to all of the DC Comics characters, but that doesn't mean they have to use them all at once. Marvel needed to put everything they had into The Avengers, because it was their costliest, riskiest film meant to pay off all their previous features and to prove they could support themselves without the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine. The problem for Marvel is that from here on out, they'll have to dig deeper and deeper into their catalog to pull out characters of increasing obscurity.

Meanwhile, Green Arrow has one of the most popular TV shows on its (admittedly sorry) network, and ten seasons of Smallville familiarized viewers with the likes of Cyborg, Aquaman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle and more. You could bundle up a pretty interesting selection of notable heroes and call them the Justice League without using any of the Magnificent Seven, although it would be safer to include many of them.

Personally, I could see the Flash being introduced as the POV hero who gets his origin story in the first act, meets other heroes in the second, and they all must work together to overcome the big threat in act three. Sounds like a swell movie that could turn people on to Flash solo adventures in a way an initial standalone probably couldn't (see: Hulk, The) and still leaves the door open for the DC Trinity in an even bigger event movie down the line. Cyborg could get the same treatment. You can't have the Avengers without Captain America, Iron Man, and/or Thor, but the Justice League didn't officially have Superman or Batman locked in until a while into their initial run, and might be sturdier if allowed to develop with lesser lights at the onset.

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5. Handicap the Roster?

Geeks are aware of how deep the bench runs for the JLA, but mainstream audiences are much more likely to be aware of its members through Super Friends, Smallville, or the eponymous Cartoon Network show. Where Robin might not work in the Batman franchise, he could play to kids turned away from the darkness of the Nolan overseen Batman and Superman movies, keeping the tone closer to the comparatively light Avengers. Anne Hathaway's Catwoman could be very useful after stealing every shared scene in The Dark Knight Rises, especially if the League forgoes introducing a new Batman. I don't see workable roles for anyone else in the Trinity's Families without redundancies.

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If Ryan Reynolds is unavailable, I'd definitely replace Hal Jordan with another Green Lantern. The Lantern brand has been built up somewhat, so there's no point in letting that go to waste, but Kyle Rayner or Guy Gardner would allow another actor to fully "own" their role. Stargirl was well received on Smallville, and would stand out better than the many female versions of male heroes that populate the DCU. Aquaman should be a safe bet if you're going for iconic and unique, plus in a team setting he can be the target of mockery without being diminished, so long as he gets a salvaging spotlight moment or two.

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Depending on how the Milestone rights weigh in, StaticShock is another known quantity with youth appeal, is arguably more useful than Robin, and recalls Black Vulcan & Black Lightning. Cyborg is problematic because while DC could use an African-American member, he'll likely be cast by critics as a War Machine knock-off, who is himself the inferior Iron Man. Zatanna's usefulness kind of pivots on how Scarlet Witch works in the transition to cinema. Martian Manhunter would offer a diverse power set and could be customized to cater to any desired minority, plus he presents an opportunity to take the offensive in the arms race by neutralizing the viability of the Vision at Marvel.

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Green Arrow should be avoided because of obvious comparisons to Hawkeye, conflict with the TV show, and because he shoots arrows in the year 2013 for god's sake. Ditto Black Canary, as she's effectively blocked by her similarities (and conceptual inferiority) to Black Widow. Hawkgirl is well remembered from TV, but she's a hazard to realize without being laughable, and Falcon's introduction in Captain America: The Winter Soldier might be an issue. Vixen could assume much the same role with greater versatility in the CGI department. If Superman is on the team, Shazam is pointless, unless Mary Marvel is allowed to usurp Billy Batson as Captain Marvel. Regardless, Power Girl would be of comparable use, especially if Wonder Woman is absent. Starfire and/or Raven might be more interesting choices, given their visibility on the Teen Titans cartoons and visually striking abilities. Comedic characters like Plastic Man, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are kind of dangerous to the team's credibility, plus they all duplicate powers seen in other movies.

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6. Secret Society of Super-Villains?

Before Thor, Loki was not much of a name, but Tom Hiddleston made all the difference in changing that. Leading with Darkseid as a villain would be a huge mistake, between recalling a Thanos fresh in the public's memory and setting the bar so high that no successive villains could compete for hype. Why waste a long build involving elements from the entire Fourth World Saga, possibly involving a New Gods movie or massive brutes to fill up a Superman flick? The New 52 reboot of Justice League made the same mistake, clowning a prime archnemesis and then parading a bunch of seconds stringers around until the only hope to raise a pulse was in pitting Leagues against one another and sending whole armies of bad guys at them all at once. It's unsustainable.

Rather than banking on a monster with a modest Q-rating, why not smartly stunt cast an adversary? Ideally, you wouldn't want to waste a foe of the DC Trinity, since they'll all be needed for solo movies. I favor Despero as a scary looking and singular creep who could pit hero against hero, armies against the group, or tackle the team on his own. Starro would be a bit more obtuse, but function the same way, while Eclipso falls somewhere in the middle. The Lord of Time would be excellent to preemptively neuter Kang, while the Key opens up pathways to any generic throng needed to overwhelm the League. Asmodel would be excellent for scale without much need for excess exposition. The Manhunter Cult are good for numbers, as is Imperiex. Starbreaker is different enough from Galactus to be employed. The Appelaxians are probably too close to the Chitauri, Felix Faust to Loki, and Vandal Savage to Ra's al Ghul. There's tons of options for disposable but formidable threats to burn through in the initial picture, so remember to start out with foresight.

7. Could we broaden the creative team, please?

The last three Marvel Studios movies (Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel's The Avengers, Iron Man 3) have profited by roughly $2½ billion after production and advertising costs since 2011 (give or take Downey's $50M payday.) The last three WB/DC movies (Green Lantern, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel) have profited by half that in the same time frame. If we reach back to 2008, DC gets to add The Dark Knight and Jonah Hex, but Marvel can counter with two Iron Man movies, Thor and The Incredible Hulk. We'll probably have a Superman sequel in 2015, by which point Marvel offers Guardians of the Galaxy and additional installments of Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers. Admittedly, Marvel feels like they're cranking out product, while Warner Brothers has a more artful approach, but the facts remain that Marvel is making a lot more money off of each comparatively inexpensive movie and their broader talent pool contributes to a better striking average with audiences by the sheer number of options. Further, every Marvel movie out of the gate is one less opportunity for DC. Whether or not Edgar Wright's Ant-Man is a hit, you can forget about an Atom movie. Dr. Strange sidelines Dr. Fate outside a JSA flick and doesn't help Zatanna's chances. Quicksilver will have figured into two major franchise releases (X-Men: Days of Future Past & Marvel's Avengers 2) before Flash even gets discussed.

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I personally do not care much for Christopher Nolan's work, but even if you think he's a genius, you have to admit that his singular vision alienates folks like me and costs DC ground through the limits on material one man can contribute to producing. If the WB/DC want to take the high road, I can think of a few directors with some prestige who have shown an ability to handle a fantastic summer tentpole with grace and aren't currently planning production on such a thing. How about Kathryn Bigelow, Brad Bird, Danny Boyle, Bill Condon, Jon Favreau, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Louis Leterrier, Justin Lin, Mike Newell, Sam Raimi, Nicolas Winding Refn, David Slade, Guillermo del Toro, Gore Verbinski, the Wachowskis, or David Yates-- and those are just the ones who are relatively "free" at present? I know you guys really have a lot of faith in David Goyer, but might some of the many hundreds of equally competent or superior screenwriters out there deserve a shot? I understand that the grandiose tone of The Dark Knight trilogy has earned accolades and set DC apart from the more formulaic Marvel movies, but this auteur theory you've gone with so far just means you have one proprietary flavor of super-hero. Do continue to spend serious bank on bigger, more "important" super-hero movies than Marvel, but don't paint yourselves into a corner and fail to utilize the full spectrum of high grade talent and concepts at your disposal.