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The Flash (1987-2009) #1-2 – Happy Birthday, Wally!/Hearts… of Stone (Review)

So, I’m considering reviewing this season of The Flash, because the pilot looks interesting and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m also considering taking a storyline-by-storyline trek through the 1987-2009 Flash on-going series as a companion piece. If you are interested in reading either of these, please share the link love and let me know in the comments.

Like the rest of the comic book industry, DC comics went through some serious changes in the late eighties. Books like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns had re-shaped expectations of the comic book world. There was a sense that things had to change. DC was worried about its own expansive and increasingly convoluted continuity. In order to streamline that continuity, DC decided to stage a massive crossover event. Crisis on Infinite Earths was a truly epic comic that reshaped the shared universe.

It made quite the impression, providing the opportunity for a clean start for many of the characters. George Perez gave Wonder Woman a new origin and back story. John Byrne reinvented The Man of Steel, making several additions to the Superman mythos that have remained in place through to today. Frank Miller offered one of the defining Batman origin stories with Year One. There were obvious continuity issues around certain characters and franchises, but Crisis on Infinite Earths was a new beginning.

If the suit fits...

If the suit fits…

This was arguably most true for The Flash. Cary Bates had finished up a decade-long run on the title with the mammoth storyline The Trial of the Flash, where Barry Allen was accused of murdering his arch-nemesis in cold blood. Although the arc ended with Barry retiring to the distant future (comics!), the character went straight from that extended arc into Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he eventually gave his life to save the multiverse in what became an iconic death sequence.

More than that, Barry Allen stayed dead for twenty years; a phenomenal amount of time for a comic book character. In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC offered a fresh new beginning for the Flash. Wally West, the former “Kid Flash” and sidekick, stepped into the iconic role and headlined a monthly series for over two decades.

His heart might not be in it, yet...

His heart might not be in it, yet…

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Infinite Crisis: The OMAC Project (Review)

This month I’m taking a look at DC’s massive “Infinite Crisis” Event. Although it was all published in one massive omnibus, I’ll be breaking down the lead-in to the series to tackle each thread individually, culminating in a review of the event itself. Check back for more.

Infinite Crisis was certainly an ambitious project in scope. With the bulk of the major tie-ins collected in a gigantic 1,500-page omnibus, you really get a sense of just how expansive this gigantic crossover was. It’s remarkable how thematically consistent (and yet tonally distinct) so many of these tie-ins were, but The O.M.A.C. Project makes for a suitably grand opening to this gigantic epic crisis crossover, perfectly encapsulating a lot of the core themes that DC seem to have been striving for, while setting up an interesting central conflict.

What do you call a Corps of One-Man-Army-Corps?

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Alan Moore’s Run on Swamp Thing – Saga of the Swamp Thing (Books #3-4) (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” You can probably guess which event I’m leading into, but I don’t want to spoil it…

I have never read Swamp Thing before. This trip through these lovely (but sadly not oversized or filled with extras) hardcover editions of Alan Moore’s iconic run on the title has been my first encounter with the character. This is Moore’s longest tenure on a mainstream comic book, and the one which introduced him to the mainstream. What’s astounding here is not only how Moore manages to offer something which still stands up as something unique and challenging, but also offers a fairly exciting and well-written book on his own terms.

I have a burning desire to read more...

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Y: The Last Man – The Deluxe Edition, Book II (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Y: The Last Man. In April, I took a look at all the writer’s Ex Machina.

They can say ‘fuck’ in comic books?

I guess.

Jeez, they never said stuff like that in Superman.

– 355 and Yorick get “meta”, One Small Step

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s crappy works of fiction that try to sound important by stealing names from the bard.

– Cayce, Comedy & Tragedy

You know, even if the central premise wasn’t brilliantly intriguing, and the execution wasn’t top notch, I think I’d still read this, simply because Vaughan’s Y: The Last Manis just so damn charming. Thankfully, the comic is everything I mentioned above – and winningly self-deprecating to boot. Awesome.

A thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters...

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Critics Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I Dislike the “They Don’t Get It” Argument…

I like to think I am open minded. Just a few weeks ago, I published an article defending big budget blockbusters from their detractors. However, I find myself growing frequently frustrated when it comes to fans using the old “critics don’t like fun” argument to defend a given movie from any sort of meaningful debate and criticism. It happens a few times a year, most spectacularly with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen back in 2009, but also this year with Sucker Punch. The film has received a critical lambasting, but fans are always quick to rush to the internet to critique the critics, claiming things like “they don’t get it” and “they don’t understand” or nonsense like that.

And, you know what? That’s just plain wrong.

Movie for suckers?

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Critical Predisposition: What Preconceptions Do You Bring Into Movies?

Over the last week, I had the pleasure to visit the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. I saw a lot of films as part of that, and the reviews have been popping up all week. Anyway, they give out an audience award, which gave me occasion to actually score films. Regular readers here know that I am loath to try to objectively rank cinema, as it’s a very subjective medium and I have difficulty reconciling relative grades, but I went along with it. Anyway, they use a four-point scale and, long story short, I found myself using a lot of “3” grades, which is the second-highest rank. This kinda got me thinking: Am I a little too generous to films I really shouldn’t be? How do I approach the cinema? Do I look for things to love? Do I have a pre-disposed bias? Do I want to love films, even if they aren’t especially great?

Me, aged about eight...

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Non-Review Review: The Incredibles

I think Pixar’s The Incredibles must stand as one of their best productions – alongside Finding Nemo, perhaps. It’s certainly one of their more conventional entries in the Pixar stable, in that it’s offered in the blockbuster format of the decade (superhero adventure), but – like the very best of their work – it’s so much more. A whole host of Pixar’s films – Toy Story and Finding Nemo chief among them – deal with the notion of paternal abandonment (though perhaps more fond of addressing the story of parents abandoned by kids, rather than kids abandoned by adults), but The Incredibles is perhaps the one which best deals with the challenges that managing a ‘functioning’ family.

That's one incredible family...

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