Wherein I write about DC and Marvel, mostly marvel, and supergeeks write me and tell me how wrong I am (because I’m only a minor geek).

1. Astonishing X-Men. I’m late to the party again, waiting until the entire Joss Whedon run was bound in softcovers, affordable and complete, but I can’t recommend this enough. Several people have told me that the X-Books are good these days, but there’s no real entry point for me—they all seem interwoven and complicated, with lots of characters I don’t recognize from when I stopped being a regular reader (circa 1987). Like other famous authors, Marvel gave Joss the freedom to create his own, self-contained story arc, and it was brilliant. I know that’s a word that gets bandied about a little too freely on this blog, but I defy you to find a better story that explains how artificial intelligence could actually become self-aware, and, at the same time, to match Danger’s story with Cyclops’ and Emma Frost’s own attempts to overcoming their program limitations—whether it’s indestructible eye power and the love of Jean or the ability to make people think what you want them to think, but not make them love you. Not only are these four volumes some of the best comics I’ve ever read, they’re some of the best anything I’ve ever read.

2. Batman and Robin. I’ve been burned by Grant Morrison too many times to trust him. He didn’t kill Batman in Batman R.I.P., he did it in Final Crisis, but the end of Batman R.I.P. was clearly supposed to make you believe he was dead. Final Crisis was obnoxious and confusing—it seemed like a very “loud” comic book, without much to say. Everyone points to All Star Superman as his shining moment, and, while that was a good read, it was kind of . . . Dull. There really wasn’t much tension there. Without Frank Quitely’s art, it wouldn’t have been much at all. So what do I think of Batman and Robin? I don’t know yet. The jury is still out. But I will say that it is impossible to believe that a 10-year old can do what Damien Wayne is doing. I liked #2 a lot more than #1—it was good to see that Commissioner Gordon isn’t falling for the switcheroo. But Dick Grayson’s character doesn’t seem like the confident Dick who led Titans for so many years. If Morrison is going to redefine a major DC personality, he needs to spend more time on the thing he does least best: Character development. Other positives: Alfred is well-crafted; the artwork (especially the vehicles) is crazy good; the coloring is tremendously good—not something that I generally notice; and Morrison is at least telling us what is going on (most of the time), eschewing his recent style of writing, in which he expects the reader to know far more than even the most committed fanatic.

3. New Mutants. Boy, did this book take a wrong turn. #1 was exciting and great, and easy to get into for someone who missed the whole backstory. #2 was muddled and confusing. I’m voting with my feet on this one.

4. The Venom and Deadpool movies both seem like they’re gonna go forward. Good news. The bad news? It takes Marvel four years to release a damn movie. What takes so long? And why are they going to sit on their Avengers animated series for three years, just to tie it to the movie? And DC is even worse! The animated Teen Titans/Terra movie never even got off the ground, and where’s the freakin’ Superman sequel? Thankfully, Brandon Routh’s contract has expired—maybe they’ll get someone good. I still think Tom Welling is a solid choice.

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