For What It's Worth: The Return of Jason Todd

This week marked the introduction of Jason Todd into the new DC universe in the new book Red Hood and the Outlaws. It's remarkable that there are so many Jason/Red hood fans out there but I'm reminded that the difference between the fans who voted to kill/not kill him back in 1988-1989 was only 72 votes. But let's go over his history a little bit...

For some strange reason, they gave Jason the same origin as Dick - a member of a family acrobatic team that was employed in a circus. Instead of a crime boss being responsible for the deaths of Jason's parents, it was Killer Croc. The other difference was he had strawberry blond hair which was dyed black when he assumed the mantle (they never did explain how others must have responded to such a move in the civilian world. Hmmm...) To be quite honest, not an interesting character.

NOW he's interesting. Jason is an orphan living on the streets. Batman becomes aware of him due to the boy trying to steal the wheels of the Batmobile (pair of brass ones there). Bruce decides to channel his anger to more productive uses and possibly saving him. Well, needless to say, that didn't work. He crossed the line several times, including the incident in issue #424 where he may/may not pushed a serial rapist off a balcony and fall 22 stories to his death. Well, the fans had enough, so given the chance during the famous A Death in the Family arc - well, you know ...

You had me up to here. I didn't mind the aggressive, anger-filled Robin, but his death is Bruce's greatest failure as Batman. Not everybody can be saved, but we all have to come to realize that at some point in our lives, this was Bruce's time. The fact that he put a copy of the uniform as a memorial in the Batcave serves as a reminder to him. Then Tim Drake came and made Bruce realize that Batman needs a Robin to be balanced (some fans will debate that, but not me). 

Hush Story Arc
If you've read the Hush story line by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, when you got to that scene you had to be saying the same thing I did - "WTF?" Of course, we find out that it was not him (sorry to spoil that for you if you hadn't read it, which you should). But it was a great twist not only on Bruce, but for the readers as well.

Red Hood
Now why Judd Winick wanted to bring him back, I don't know. Not only is Jason back, he's using the costumed identity of a person who later became Batman's greatest nemesis - The Joker. Why? To give stick the knife into Bruce a little deeper? Probably. He walks the fine line between criminal and anti-hero (or is that the same?).

Jason's Identity Crisis
Then things really get messed up: he decides to become Nightwing. The reason was because it was someone's idea (won't say who) to kill off Dick Grayson. I will mention that same gentleman wanted the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern back, but wanted to off the Golden Age Robin because he was boring and repetitive. Fans responded to the news and things changed. So Jason became Red Robin, which lasted a second or two and now that identity belongs to Tim Drake (Jason's successor to the Robin mantle). Then when Bruce "died," he came up with his own Batman uniform and punished the criminals. Thank God that didn't last long.

The Crimson Duo
The next time we see Jason, he's wearing a super heroic uniform as the Red Hood with his own Robin - Scarlet. His approach is still the same - kill or seriously hurt the criminals. Cross the line that Bruce never dared. Yeah, this ended well too...

So now we have him with "The Outlaws," primarily Green Arrow's former sidekick Speedy, now known as Arsenal, and Starfire the former alien princess turned slave, turned.... How well will this go? Who knows.

My thoughts
I don't care for Jason. I thought it was stupid to bring him back. But I'm in the minority. I will grant you that either way he's a symbol of Bruce's greatest failure, but still ...I wish he was still dead! 

What do you think? Let us know!

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For What It's Worth: OK, the Justice Society Will Be on Earth-2, Who Else Will Be There?

With the announcement of the return of a Justice Society book and that it will be based on Earth-2, I started thinking "will they be the only heroes there?" Of course, it's more than likely that the next generation heroes who were part of the team in certain times (the Super-Squad, Infinity, Inc., and the <ahem> All-Stars). Earth-2 of the past really only had heroes that were tied to the JSA, which is weird because not all heroes of Earth-1 had ties to the Justice League. So, here are some of my choices to be on the "new" Earth...

The Shazam/Captain Marvel Family
The family were allies of the All-Star Squadron (Pre-Crisis), and were on there own Earth prior to Crisis. I think they would work just as well on Earth-2 as Earth-1.

The remaining Teen Titans
This may not make some fans happy, but at least they are back...

Donna Troy - one of the most messed up characters in the history of comics gets a new chance on Earth-2. I'm assuming that there won't be Earth-2 versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, so she'll have no ties - but hey, at least she's back from oblivion.

Tempest - The only reason I think he was killed was so they can "diversify" the universe. UGH. Tempest is back and can be this Earth's version of Aquaman. Garth has cooler powers anyway.

Wally West - It's a crime that they aren't doing anything with him. He carried the Flash mantle for 26 years. It's a safe bet that more people think of Wally than Barry when you mention the Flash. OK, he's here. Possibly wearing the costume that Bret Booth recently revealed.

What do you think? I like it.

The Elongated Man
OK, I'm being selfish here. I know I already begged for DC to bring him back. Here's your opportunity. He's too good of a character not to be brought back.

That's just a few. I may do another one of these if I can think of a few. Do you have any suggestions? Let us know!

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For What It's Worth: More Controversy on Suicide Squad?

I know I'm not the first to address this (Bleeding Cool for example), and probably won't be the last. I read the controversial Suicide Squad #1 last night. The controversy I refer to is not the costume change to Harley Quinn.  I know her fans don't like it. [Just a side note - I find it funny that the good percentage of her fans being interviewed on camera about this topic are wearing an inaccurate version of the original costume.] ANYWAY.

I enjoyed reading the book, but saw something that shocked me. A THIN AND SEXY Amanda Waller (almost Halle Berry like). WHAT!? What was wrong the previous version? Nothing.

Waller is a strong, powerful, overweight black  woman who takes no crap. She lead Task Force X (Suicide Squad) and later was Secretary of Metahuman Affairs for President Lex Luthor. She knows where ALL the bodies are hidden - if you know what I mean. Hey, you can't push Batman around without having a pair of brass ones, you know?

So why the change? I'm already hearing conspiracies, mentioning this along with Barbara Gordon being able to walk again. I don't think that's the case, but I am indeed curious. This was a character that did not need to be fixed. I'm sure we'll get some answers if there is enough outrage. I'm already missing the old Amanda.

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For What It's Worth: Who is DC's Mystery Woman?

We are in the second full week of the new DC Universe, and the number one question may be "who is this woman that's appearing in all of the books?" And yes, she appeared in all thirteen issues that were released last week. Bleeding Cool has the evidence. Go check it out and come right back. I'll wait....

Back? Crazy, huh? Who is she? Well, there are several theories out there, so let's run them down...

The new Time Trapper - in the old universe, this was an enemy with the Legion of Super-Heroes. No, I don't think a villain from the 31st century could be here watching the beginnings of the "Superhero Age" on Earth. I think the Trapper would try to stop it from happening.

The new Spectre - The physical embodiment of God's vengeance on Earth? I can see fans being upset if this was the case, however I feel that this is not. Once again, she is observing, not getting involved... yet.

The new Phantom Stranger - The Entity who has served as a spiritual guide for several members of the DC universe. The mystery woman has a quality similar to Stranger. It's a possibility.

Someone else - Other theories include: The Monitor or his assistant Harbinger, Kismet, a female version of Pariah (the scientist in the original Crisis), Raven, even Barry Allen's mom! Do you have any theories yet? If so, please share. I'm interested in hearing them.

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For What It's Worth: The New Superman Curses? UPDATED

UPDATE: Morrison has cleared up the issue regarding the "GD" issue. It is indeed a groan.
It's been a nice, lazy day. I finished reading Action Comics #1 by the creative team of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. I jump online and lo and behold, a controversy regarding the book I just read!

Bleeding Cool has a post regarding a North Carolina comic book store banning Action Comics and anything written by Grant Morrison. I thought to myself, "whoa, what did I miss in the comic that would be offensive?" Well my friends, here is the panel in question...

Now, the owner (a Christian) takes offense to what Supes is saying. It's not clear to what he thinks but the assumption is either God, or Goddamn. O... K. Whatever dude. Here is the page in full (thanks again to Bleeding Cool)...

He's taking a hit by a tank, he's not going to say "Spring is here!" I give Morrison credit for not doing the traditional "OOF!" or "UGH!" or something similar. I think this guy was looking for an excuse. Oh, he apparently sells Preacher, Crossed, and The Boys. Those aren't very Christian books by the way. And all written by Garth Ennis. Hmmm... Conspiracy! I don't know. It's his right to do that just like it's his customers' right to stop buying comics there. Is he serious, or is it a ploy to get free publicity? Only he knows.

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For What It's Worth: Happy Birthday Star Trek!

45 years ago today (and it was a Thursday), Star Trek premiere on NBC. Creator Gene Roddenberry sold the executives a concept of "Wagon Train to the stars," but it was oh so much more than that. It's hard to believe now that the show was cancelled twice. Only the letter-writing of the fans help give us a second and third season. The franchise spawned an animated series (and talk of another one), four other live action series, eleven movies, and millions of fans all over the world. 

The show was so daring - a multi-cultural and racial crew, it touched topics that no other show would but was able to disguise it with the Sci-Fi dressings. The technology of the show we're starting to see here and now (think about your cellphone, iPhone, Android, etc. and not think about Trek's communicator or tricorder. 

Gene isn't with us anymore, but his legacy is still going strong. What better way to end this than with the Vulcan greeting "Live long and prosper." 

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For What It's Worth: Dear DC, Please Bring Back Elongated Man

As you may know, DC is in the process of relaunching their universe this month. Not all characters have returned however. Cries, begs, and questions regarding characters such as: the Justice Society (they are coming back), the Marvel/Shazam Family (supposedly coming back as some point), and former Titans Wally West, Donna Troy, Raven, and Beast Boy (...well, two of three ain't bad. Right?) are being made. However, I'm asking for one and I may be the only one making this request - bring back Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man.

The character, created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, would have been the silver age version of Plastic Man if editor Julius Schwartz knew that DC had owned Quality Comics, Plastic Man's publisher. Dibny acquired his powers by drinking Gingold, a soda that works on him differently than others.

Why do I want him back? Well, I've always enjoyed the character. He's some time goofy (not to Plastic Man's extent), but has a detective mind that rivals Batman. And it was cute that his nose twitched when a mystery was afoot. I know some may view him as a joke, but I suggest reading Identity Crisis by Brian Meltzer and Rags Morales.

Some of you may remind me that he is dead, but I'll point out two things: (1) so was Ryan Choi (the Atom), but he's back and in the Justice League and (2) this is a relaunch, so he can come back. Will he come back? I don't know. There seems to be a "decree" against similar powered heroes (hence the absence of Wally and Donna). Some have been quick to mentioned 7200 members of the Green Lantern Corps, but they're space cops. However, I will say there shouldn't be four GL members from Earth for one sector. I will also point out that Wildstorm had their versions of Superman and Batman (Apollo and Midnighter), and they survived to see the DCnU. So anything is possible.

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For What It's Worth: Advice to Comic Shop Customers

Last week I posted some words of advice to comic shop owners and employees. Now I turn my attention on to you, the customer(s). As before, it's not directed toward anybody in particular. Here we go.

1. Acknowledge their existence - It doesn't hurt to be friendly to the people working at the store. As a matter of fact, you'll get better service if you did. You want them to be friendly, return the courtesy.

2. Treat the store and staff well - Some stores allow you to sit and read. While this is cool, it's not a library. I understand checking a book out to decide if you want it or not, but if you want it - buy it. Also, some stores sell (or allow) snacks and drinks for the game-playing customers. Please clean after yourself (this is directed toward them as well, but they won't be reading this so...). Do you want someone to come into your home, eat and drink, then throw the crap on the floor or not throw it away at all?

3. Try to have some idea what you want - I know it can be hard, especially if you are getting into comics for the first time, but have some idea what you might be interested. The staff will be more than happy to assist if they have a general idea what interests you.

4. Be appreciative - Thank the staff for their help. They are trying to make a living just like you and me. I get great service because they appreciate my business and I (in all modesty) am a great customer. I tell people where they can find what they need and will receive great customer service.

OK, I'll stop this now because I'm starting to sound like the educational films we saw back in grade school. But it's all common sense stuff. We just need to be reminded from time to time.

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A Review: Justice League #1

I don't normally do reviews (yes I did some for Clean, but that was awhile back), but this is a piece of history (unless it's gets retconned out) so I think it's worth chronicling it. And I'll try to do it without a ton of spoilers. So, without further ado, here we go...

Green Lantern travels to Gotham in answer to an order he received from the ring. He encounters Batman for the first time. Batman Bats is chasing...someone (or something), while being pursued by Gotham police. The two size each other up (funny scene with Batman being able to pull the ring off Lantern's finger and examine it).

The two realize that the incident they were investigating could have ties to another one in Metropolis and fly there. Of course, being Metropolis, they run into be continued. There is a secondary story involving Victor Stone playing football and being scouted. So obviously, we will see him become Cyborg at some point down the line.  The comic ends with a few pages of initial redesigns of the costumes and the process of doing the cover.

OK, here are my thoughts. DC was in a no-win situation here. The expectations were very high for this book, so some people were bound to be disappointed. If the team was together from the get-go, readers would have complained about not seeing the team formed. So, they took the other approach.

I thought the book was OK, not great (and not worth the extra $1). It read like a first chapter of a story arc written for trade paperback (something Dan Didio said they were getting away from). This is a criticism I have about Geoff Johns. I thought Brightest Day maxi-series could have been shorter, but I'm not a writer. I know Jim Lee gets a lot of complaints, but I generally like his work. Some of the new costume designs I don't particularly care for, but they didn't ask for my approval.

I know things will pick up once the team is together, so I'll stick it out. I mean, it's only been one issue.

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For What It's Worth: George Lucas Needs an Intervention

Does anybody have the phone number to Jeff Van Vonderen or Candy Finnigan? We need to form an intervention group for George Lucas - stat!

In about 10 days the Blu-Ray edition of the Star Wars saga will be released, with a ton of "fixes." Most of them you would never have noticed it was wrong, but he did. Vader's control panel that didn't blink? or his red eyes? The lack of stars in the most of the space sequences? The blue decals on the rebel pilots' helmets (there was no blue group)? Ben Kenobi's Krayt dragon cry now sounds like someone riding with the Dukes of Hazzard. That's just some of the ones in A New Hope.

Return of the Jedi's fixes have made more headlines. As you have probably seen, we have Vader screaming "NO!" as he grabs the Emperor and throws him down the reactor shaft. If not, here it is...

We also have Ewoks that can blink. You will see a dug (Anakin's podrace nemesis, Sebulba was a dug) in Jabba's palace. I'm sure there is more that I'm not aware of yet. I've heard nothing regarding changes in The Empire Strikes Back, but I'm sure there are some.

Some will argue it's his property, he can do what he wants. BS. He talks about moving on and doing other stuff, yet he does this for the Blu-Rays...will this version of the films be the ones converted into 3D? Or will there be a Special, Special, Special, Special Edition?

Here is an interesting quote I got from Movieline:

“People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.”

This quote came from George Lucas testifying before Congress in 1988. Is this another case of not practicing what you preach? Here is an interview done earlier this year with Lucas buddy and director Steven Spielberg saying he won't do this kind of thing again. He will leave his films alone. Fans are boycotting these movies and I don't blame them. I'll stick to the Special, Special Editions.

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For What It's Worth: Who is Joseph Gordon-Levitt Playing in Dark Knight Rises?

You may have seen that the rumor of Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Robin in the next Christopher Nolan Batman film has resurfaced. The rebirth is due to "information" gathered from a comic shop manager in Pittsburgh where they just finished doing location work.

According to the manager, Levitt's character will become Robin as Bruce retires being Batman. The manager only identified Levitt as "the dark-haired guy from 3rd Rock from the Sun." When asked, the manager said Levitt is not in costume, that would happen in the next film.

OK, it's well known (to most of us I guess) that this is Nolan's last Batman film, and the franchise will be rebooted. That news is months old. However, I think there might be some smoke here. The thing is, Levitt's character won't become Robin, he'll become Azrael. This is just guesswork on my part, mind you, but it makes sense. Azrael is part of the Knightfall story arc with...Bane.

Will Levitt play Azrael?

Azrael is an assassin for the Sacred Order of Saint Dumas (Dumas has some ties with Ra's al Ghul...hmm) and became Batman when Bruce's back was broken by Bane. Bane and Ra's are in the next film, so is this a version of Knightfall and Knight's End? Dunno. We'll see on July 20, 2012.

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