Peter's Comic Book Ramblings

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Off to the Pittsburgh Comicon tomorrow morning for 4 days. I think I'm more excited for this convention than I was for New York in a weird way. Great people, great convention, great food. Looking forward to it.


Monday, April 16, 2007


As my last post states, I'm finally reading DC's One Year Later labeled books. I'm into month three of the thematic umbrella and I noticed something quite wonderful.

DC does a great job of listing "Created by..." credits.

The obvious and long-running Created by... credits include: Superman by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, Batman by Bob Kane and Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston. Another frequent credit goes to Jack Kirby whether it's for the Demon or even the recent OMAC series. And Warlord by Mike Grell has appeared even in his original series.

But here were a few surprises: Firestorm created by Gerry Conway & Al Milgrom; Aquaman created by Paul Norris; Omega Men created by Marv Wolfman & Joe Staton; the Weird created by Jim Starlin & Bernie Wrightson and Checkmate created by Paul Kupperberg & Steve Erwin. While these credits may have appeared in other comics of the same title years back, the fact that DC still gives credit where credit is due is pretty amazing.

Now, surely some of these are contractual obligations. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman - you know these were forged in deals (good or bad) made with the actual creators. The same could be said of Warlord, Omega Men and the Weird. I have yet to read anywhere if "Created by Jack Kirby" is anything more than honestly acknowledging a master so this too could have contractual history. I've seen the Checkmate one before. But the Aquaman and Firestorm credits seem completely new. It makes me wonder if I'm missing some from the few DC books I don't read. Does this mean they have to pay royalties for the continued use of these characters? Or are they simply showing their readers that DC understands that their characters have a lineage?

I REALLY enjoy seeing the credits and it makes me wonder why Marvel doesn't do the same. They toyed with the idea for a moment or two several years back. I can remember some J.M. Straczynski-penned Amazing Spider-Man comics that had "Created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko". But beyond that, I don't think any other credit has lasted. Even the "Stan Lee Presents..." title intro has disappeared.

So it makes me wonder a few things.

Are all the DC credits contractual obligations? Are some of them just courtesy? And if so, shouldn't titles like Birds of Prey & Shadowpact, as a concept, be easy to credit? If Jack Knight & Will Payton (and not "Starman") can be credited to their respective creators, can't the opposite be true for a character such as Nightwing (created by Marv Wolfman & George Perez even if Robin/Dick Grayson was created by Bob Kane and/or Jerry Robinson). What about the female Manhunter?
Has the "bad blood" over the years between Marvel and Stan Lee prompted the removal of his ever present greeting? By not even listing credits as a gesture of history, is Marvel trying to steer clear of any potential ownership claims? Why shouldn't Thunderbolts be credited to Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley? Why isn't Dr. Strange, Thor, Hulk, the Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, etc. listed as "Created by Stan Lee &...". Or Moon Knight. Or Nova. Or Spider-Woman.

I understand there are legal issues that keep all this at a distance and that sometimes creator credits are lost to time. But as a reader of comics and someone who enjoys comic history, the very glaring omission of creator credits on Marvel's part comes across as an "I'm just covering my rear" move.

Marvel may not have created the basic concept of continuity, but they did put faces and nicknames and personalitites to their creators through lettercolumns, bulletins and even in their own comic stories. Marvel readers knew the creators alongside the creations. Jim Shooter fought hard for certain creator rights. And it's no secret that the current Marvel regime is all about marketing their creative teams alongside if not sometimes before their projects.

But there's something very off when even the current publisher of Marvel gets listed in every Marvel comic in the credit box but a simple "Created by..." blurb is non-existent. I want to know who created these characters. I want new readers to know. It's a sign of respect and history. It should be an honor to give credit to those legendary creators who formed the Marvel Universe.

And, considering the amazing success Marvel has had over the last year with characters that have survived for decades, this is a case of credit where credit is very much due.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Stolen from my friend Britt on Facebook.

Read the list below and mark accordingly:

(X) If you only have heard of the show
(CD) If you own/listen to the CD
(SEEN) If you have seen the show (Professional, Community Theater, etc)
("Your Part") If you have been in it (put your particular part)
(Tech/Other) If you've done tech/crew, or Directed, Music Directed, Choreographed.

Leave it BLANK if none of the options apply. Here we go. Let's see how much you really love Musical Theater/Broadway. Be HONEST.

Avenue Q- seen
The Boyfriend - seen (the movie)
Chicago- CD, seen, Billy Flynn (10th grade)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- seen (the movie)
Fiddler on the Roof- CD, seen, choreographed
Beauty and the Beast-CD, seen
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels- seen (the movie)
George M! - CD, Seen, directed/choreographed
Hairspray- seen
H.M.S. Pinafore - x
Mamma Mia- x
Sweeney Todd- CD, seen
The Color Purple- X
The Light in the Piazza - CD
The Producers- seen
Movin' Out- X
Rent- CD
Spamalot- seen
Sweet Charity- CD, seen
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee- x
The Lion King- x
The Phantom of the Opera- CD, seen
The Threepenny Opera- CD, seen
The Woman in White- X
Little Shop of Horrors- CD, seen, choreographer, plant manipulator
Wicked- CD, seen
Annie-CD, seen, director/choreographer (choreo twice)
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat- CD, seen
Sunday in the Park With George- CD, seen (my favorite musical ever)
Into the Woods- CD, seen, choreographer, stage manager
Jersey Boys- X
In My Life - never heard of it
Ring of Fire - never heard of it
42nd Street- Oh boy. CD, casette tape, seen many times, choreographer, performed in three times (twice as Andy Lee)
Brigadoon- CD
Carousel- CD, Seen
Cats- CD, seen
Chess- CD, seen
A Chorus Line- CD, seen
Evita- CD, Seen, choreographer, ensemble
The Full Monty- x
Grease- CD, seen, choreographer
Guys and Dolls- CD, seen, choreographer
Jekyll and Hyde - CD
Jesus Christ Superstar- CD, Seen
Oklahoma- Cd, Seen, orchestra
My Fair Lady- seen
Nunsense- Seen
Rocky Horror Show- CD, Seen
Seussical- Seen
South Pacific- CD, seen, ensemble
Stomp- x
Fosse- seen
Blast- never heard of it
Sweet Smell of Success - X
How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying- CD, Seen, directed/choreographer, choreographed two other times as well
Working - CD, seen, assistant directed
The Who's Tommy - CD, seen
Victor/Victoria- X
West Side Story-CD, Seen, choreographer, Bernardo (of course)
La Boheme- x
The Wizard of Oz- CD, seen, choreographer (twice)
The Wiz- CD
Wonderful Town - X
You're a Good Man Charlie Brown- x
Les Miserables- CD, seen (my first Broadway show)
Oliver!- CD
Pippin- CD, seen
Pirates of Penzance- x
Tick Tick Boom- seen
The Boy From Oz- seen
Gypsy- CD, seen
Thoroughly Modern Millie- CD, seen
Altar Boyz- (worked with the guy who created the concept)
Annie Get Your Gun- Seen
Aspects of Love- CD, seen
Assassins- CD, seen, stage managed
Barnum- seen (hopefully never again)
Big - X
Bombay Dreams - x
Bye Bye Birdie- CD, seen, ensemble, choreographer
Hair- CD, seen, choreographer, Berger (one of my favorite roles)
1776- CD, seen
Footloose- seen
Once Upon a Matress- seen, Jester (my first show ever)
Zombie Prom - never heard of it
Allegro - X
Camelot- CD, seen, choreographer, ensemble
Children of Eden- CD
Cinderella- seen
Damn Yankees- CD, Seen
Dreamgirls- Seen
Fame- Seen
The Fantasticks- CD, choreographer
Flora the Red Menace - X
Flower Drum Song- X
Bat Boy - CD
On the Town- seen, CD
Follies- CD, seen
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever- X
Nine- CD, seen, Guido (one of my favorite roles)
The Music Man- seen
The Most Happy Fella - X
Miss Saigon- CD, seen
Man of La Mancha- CD, seen
Mame- x
Kiss Me Kate- CD, seen
The King and I - CD
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change- x
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum- CD, seen
Parade - CD
Peter Pan- Seen
Ragtime- CD, Seen
Riverdance- CD
Saturday Night Fever- X
Smokey Joe's Cafe- x
Showboat- CD
The Sound of Music- seen, orchestra
The Secret Garden- CD, seen
Ruthless!- never heard of it
Sunset Blvd- CD
Swing - x
Taboo- X
Titanic- x
Triumph of Love - X
The Wild Party- x
The Scarlet Pimpernel- X
Company- CD, seen
Contact- seen
No, No Nanette- seen
Hedwig and the Angry Inch - CD, seen
High Society - never heard of it
Kiss of the Spiderwoman- CD, seen (first time I saw Chita Rivera)
A Little Night Music- CD, seen, Henrik, choreographer
Urinetown- CD, seen
All Shook Up - X
The Baker's Wife - X
The Last 5 Years - CD, Seen
Sideshow - x
City of Angels - CD
Hello Dolly - seen (walked out)
Zanna, Don't! - x
Aida - x
Little Women - x
Brooklyn - X
Meet me in St Louis - X
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers- X
High School Musical- X
Spring Awakening- X


Thursday, April 12, 2007


I'm finally (FINALLY!) caught up in my DC Comics reading that I'm starting to delve into all the One Year Later stories. That puts the comics at a cover date of around May'06 - which means I'm reading comics that came out a year ago for the first time!

And I call myself a comic book geek. Hmmph.

Anyway, I've read the first issues of the thematic output and they range from the poor (Blood of the Demon #13) to the excellent (Green Lantern #10).

I may do a quick break down of each title for each month to see how they stand up and to see how well they've used the OYL concept to engage the reader.

It's been one year later and I have yet to drop too many titles. But then again, a casual flip-through to keep up to date is quite different from a full read.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I had a bit of a geek-out moment the other week when I saw the most recent Spider-Man 3 trailer. I mean come on, how awesome does that look?!?

There's no doubt in my mind that the Spider-Man movie franchise is THE super-hero franchise of the moment. It is the Superman for this generation of kids (my nephew continues to buy new Spider-Man toys and still runs around in his Spider-Man costume). Just as Lords of the Rings replaced Star Wars as the ultimate trilogy for a new age, Spider-Man is set to overtake all of its predecessors.

So I had a thought: You know how the downfall of the Batman-movie franchise was the inclusion of waaaaaaaay too many villains? There's certainly been rumblings that the same thing could happen with Spider-Man 3.

But what if that's the point?

What if Sam Raimi is taking the often-heard cries of "there are too many villains!" and using it to his advantage? Using it, twisting it, making it work in his favor. What if the ultimate (heh) surprise of Spider-Man 3 turns out to be:


Think about it. We already have a new Green Goblin/Hobgoblin. There's Sandman. Venom. The potential for a Lizard. And Bruce Campbell in an as-yet-to-be-revealed role (with all bets pointing to Mysterio). That only leaves J.Jonah Jameson to whip up a Spider-Slayer or something and we're all set.

Sure - there's probably people out there who already know the entire movie from a script online or advance screenings or something. And this may all be just a geek's dream.

But damn would that be cool. And it could put to rest the whole "too many villains" concept.

And could prove once again why Raimi's Spider-Man is the new benchmark for all super-hero movies.

Face front true believers!

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I'm usually not one to focus on news items or hype from the big two that talk about projects five months down the road. But now that Gail Simone's announcement that she's leaving Birds of Prey is official, I find that I'm a bit worried for the survival of the book.

It's a strange thing to be a reader of comics as well as a commentator of sorts on a podcast that talks about comics. The reason being, you sometimes learn info, whether you want to or not, before it's official but you can't say anything until the info is made official. That was the case with this little bit of news. Now that it's out, I want to talk about my initial reaction to the news.

I really enjoy Birds of Prey the comic. For many reasons and on many different levels.

On the most obvious level, ever since Simone took over the book, Birds of Prey has been a wonderful title full of great characterization set against a backdrop of the more action/adventure/spy aspects of the DC Universe. It is a consistent read month to month and the art very rarely disappoints (even when I felt Ed Benes went a bit over the line with his excessive T & A poses). But still, for a good solid read month to month, I'm there.

On a non "most obvious level", Birds of Prey is in a unique position. It's a moderately successful comic with an all female cast written by (arguably) the highest profile mainstream female comic writer. It recently celebrated its 100th issue while managing to (finally!) acquire a female artist. It is a title that sells primarily on the strength of its content with a strong reader following and a title that rarely relies on any kind of "bad girl" or "tintillation" factor (now if only DC would trust that it can sell without that damn Batman symbol).

It is because of this unique position that I'm worried for its future.

When Gail Simone took over the series, she gave the book something very special in terms of credibility, believability and honesty. I hadn't read Birds of Prey for years before she came onboard and it was her name that made me pick it up once again. After a few issues, I was definitely staying for the long haul. Simone's voices for each character rang true. Their reactions and interactions felt like they were coming from a place of experience. And above all, the characters existed because Black Canary, Barbara Gordon and Huntress had fully developed personalities and roles that moved out of the shadows of their respective counterparts (Green Arrow, Batman and/or Nightwing and Batman again). These women complimented each other.

In my Top Five Favorite Female Heroes, Black Canary ranks around #3. One of the first super-hero comics I ever read was Justice League of America vol.1 #210 (Jan'83). Justice League of America vol.1 #219 & 220 featured a Black Canary story where we finally learned her true origin and, believe it or not, where the Black Canary that we know today first appeared.

Continuity 101: Before these issues, it was assumed by the reader that the Black Canary that joined the JLA back in issue #75 (Nov'69) was the Golden Age version that previously belonged to the JSA. In this story, Black Canary's husband sacrifices himself to protect his wife. Feeling like she had nothing left on Earth-2, Black Canary crosses over to Earth-1, joins the JLA, falls in love with Green Arrow and somehow acquires her canary cry. It is revealed in Justice League of America #219 & 220 that the Earth-2 Black Canary never made it to Earth-1. The same energies that killed her husband were slowly killing her. On the journey between worlds, Black Canary decided to give her life to her daughter, who, unknown to readers, had been held in stasis for years because of out of control powers given to her as a child by the Golden Age villain the Wizard. It was the daughter that emerged onto Earth-1 all those years ago. The daughter (and readers) never knew this whole transference happened until now in a story suggested by Marv Wolfman, written by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas and beautifully pencilled by Chuck Patton. All wrapped up behind two amazing George Perez covers, this story was a major retcon at a time when that word didn't even exist. By the way, you should be able to find these issues in cheap back issue bins.

Ever since then, Black Canary has been a favorite. Most likely because I was in on the ground floor of a "new" character. Another reason I liked her as a character is because she often stood side by side with Green Arrow and felt like his equal. She wasn't content to being just a sidekick or a second-string partner. The same could be said, in rare occurances, of the pre-Crisis Hawkwoman and definitely of the current Kendra Saunders Hawkgirl. Black Canary had some ups and downs on her journey since Justice League of America, most notably her supporting cast role in the Mike Grell Green Arrow series. She would play second fiddle to Green Arrow for years (even during Kevin Smith's run) and unfortunately became a bit aimless as a character.

Cue Chuck Dixon.

It was Chuck Dixon who started the whole Birds of Prey concept in 1996 and throughout his stories, Black Canary often struggled to find her place again in the DC Universe. Alongside Barbara Gordon in her role as Oracle, the two characters began to carve a name for themselves as individuals and partners. But it was Gail Simone who proved that Black Canary could be a major player worthy of standing next to the magnificent seven of the Justice League of America as well as the legacy heroes of the Justice Society of America.

(Let me interject that Mark Waid's handling of Black Canary in JLA: Year One is certainly a highpoint for the character. However, since she was used as a substitute for Wonder Woman in JLA continuity, it's a little bit of a cheat in that the focus on her was almost demanded instead of earned.)

As we know her today, Black Canary is back as a major player, a current member of the Justice League of America and a strong individual character and much of that credit has to go to Gail Simone.

However - and here's where I falter a bit because I hate to play in a sandbox full of "but what if's" - all that could change if the creative team set to take over Birds of Prey ignores what has come before and takes her or any of the Birds back into any kind of "damsel in distress" or second fiddle role. There have been major steps taken in the relationships between Black Canary and Green Arrow, Oracle and Batman, Oracle and Nightwing, Huntress and Batman etc. that cannot be ingnored. Especially by the Batman-comics editorial office which has been notorious in the past for being moody, grim and stubborn. Hmmmmm.....

Anyway, another reason why I fear this backtracking could happen is because of the rumored Green Arrow/Black Canary comic and the eventual marriage of Green Arrow and Black Canary. While I think that could be in Green Arrow's favor, it could backfire for Black Canary much in the same way that Storm has taken several steps backwards from "X-Men leader" to "Black Panther's wife". It's as if the decision is made to force upon the character some kind of false immediate importance when in fact the character is probably stronger on their own in the right hands.

I'm not trying to predict the future or be a naysayer. I just hope that Birds of Prey continues to take chances and show why these characters are necessary in the DCU. And why a book like this is important for female readers and for the industry in general. And why they don't need ripped costumes, boyfriends or to be tied up every third issue to attract male readers. In other words, don't let this comic become another male-fantasy driven book behind cheesecake covers. Let it be smart, funny, sexy, important and fun.

Surprise me, DC. Remember Gail Simone's run for the chances it took. You took that chance for Manhunter, now continue to do it for Birds of Prey.

Friday, April 06, 2007


In two days, it'll be 7 months since my last post. WTF? And I want street cred for my shoddy writing skills? Bastard.

I'm feeling the urge to make this thing an ongoing project. Between the podcast, appearing on other podcasts and working on CLASSIFIED, I'm jonesing for more expression. That creative spark I let out every so often is really screaming loud in my head and needs to see the light of 2:00am.


So to whet appetites, here's a quick post. Maybe it'll be recurring.


5 Cerebus.
I can't believe it's taken me 20 years to discover this. I'm currently reading Church & State vol.1. Brilliant.

4 Blinky Productions.
Want to see some fun fan-films about Power Girl, Catwoman, Blue Beetle and the Question? Sure you do.

3 Laura Shay.
I'm a sucker for girls who play piano and sing folk rock.

2 Heidi MacDonald's the Beat.
My favorite blog about comics on the 'net.

1 Me.
On ComicSpace.