Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Magnificent Seven from DC

Are you by chance a little unfamiliar with to the greater DC Universe, outside of Gotham and Metropolis? Well, you could wait until Warner Bros makes a blockbuster Aquaman or Flash movie, settle for the wonderful Justice League or The Brave and the Bold animated series, or check back here this week to learn about 7 collections that will only entice you with a legion of diverse super moral gods facing altering realities, the collapse of time and worlds vibrating at different frequencies, and even… satire… 

Brought to you in beautiful Technicolor by an array of talent that shows what only comics can do!

I’m purposely choosing not to include any books solely featuring Batman or Superman. Of course there are many celebrated works featuring those two pillars (All-Star Superman, Dark Knight Returns, and just too many others to list), but I want to showcase perhaps overlooked, yet fertilely rich corners of the DCU. Most of the books involve teams or a wide cast of characters. For some new readers it may seem overwhelming, but it’s a unique experience to be thrust into a world suddenly and not knowing everything that’s happening all at once.

"Do you think you could make it with Frankenstein?"
Like Frodo in the Fellowship, you’re ducking and hobbit jumping out of peril, but every now and then you see the other heroic members, whose names you can’t remember, but you don’t forget the coolest slaying of a troll or orc commander you’re ever going to see, and so that dude who just saved your hairy feet is now your personal favorite of the group, and you’re going to start asking for his secret origin and past exploits at the next campsite if you can survive the current crisis going on.


In the name of love!
Another thing to consider with the forthcoming articles, I do not discriminate against comics created from forty or fifty years ago. Some claims I’ve heard from just a few individuals about comics from before the current era of screenplay written books (yawn) are that older comics are inaccessible to younger people because of too many word and thought balloons and narration boxes with dated language. 

“There’s too much to read in the panels!” Well, heavens to Betsy, I guess doing a little more reading is too much of a chore. In many of today’s books there’s an emphasis on setting a cinematic look and feel with maybe double splash pages of action without even any words other than sound effects visible. So, yes there are often many books from yesteryear that have more reading of the written language required, but comics are also read through their art, and sometimes having more words to read helps to slow the pace of the reader so as to take in subtle or major happenings in the panels.

I'm in no rush to hurry past this page
As for dated dialogue and narration, that has never stopped me or others who enjoy The Maltase Falcon, The Great Escape, Back to the Future (I’ve never heard anyone say “This is heavy” or “Give me a tab/Pepsi Free”), Adventures Huckleberry Finn or The Catcher in the Rye. Sure, maybe some of the language in older comics might make you feel like you’re talking to Grandpa, but that’s also part of the charm, and you’ll probably learn new vocabulary to bust out at cocktail parties. So give Granpa some attention. Just yesterday I learned gloryosky from the Penguin in an old Jack Kirby comic. It means gosh or golly gee whiz!

 With my defense for the elderly resting for now, I have to say in actuality there are only two books out of the seven with stories from before I was born. I do not believe that just because something is older that it automatically of greater quality than a comic that came last Wednesday. My late great grandmother would be in sync with the magic comedy duo, Penn & Teller in responding to the “Good Ol’ Days” as BULL$#*! As a kid, Little Nana worked in a factory to help support her family. There was shameless racism depicted as fact in both the Golden and Silver Age. Child labor and Green Lantern referring to his Inuit friend, Thomas Kalmaku as "Pieface" are things frowned upon today by hopefully most people.

That’s enough with the serious drama for now. The pics above aren’t involved with the books I’ll be highlighting because I don’t want to give too much away. I tried to choose different jumping off points and flavors of the Multiverse mix that is DC. 

Stay tuned for more. Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel!

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