I went to the Baltimore Comic-Con with [personal profile] holli today, mainly just for the fun and to see what she'd get in her Robin sketchbook. The first artist she got (who did a lolarious French Revolution Robin on the barricades!) was sharing a table with Jorge Corona, who has done work on the Justice League Beyond title, and had this lovely portait of Danica (the Flash in Beyond) in black and white and in color, which I had a hard time deciding between.

Also, a con sketch of the Pied Piper )

He also had panels from a story he had pitched to Archaia, which I hope to pick up as soon as it is available -- a Dickensian tale about a boy with feathers, which looked adorable among many other things.

For food we had brunch at Golden West Cafe, which really is a hipster haven, but the food was good and I had some of the best carne adovada I've had since I lived in New Mexico.

And there was a yarn shop just a block away -- Lovely Yarns. I went in with the purpose of getting 50 g of fingering to make more Duck socks (a cousin just had a baby, who will need cute and warm socks come winter), but they were having their 7th anniversary sale, so I walked out with a shawl kit in Snallygaster, a skein of 'Bawlamer Oryuls' sock yarn that knits up as tiger stripes, both from Snallygaster Fibers, two different colorways of 2 oz spinning fiber from Wild Hare Fiber ('Vintage Medley' rusts and dusty purple, green, blue, etc, and 'Hair & Skin', beige to chocolate neutrals, with rust and grey') as well as the orange Cobasi I orignally went in for.

Then we went back to pick up our sketches (holli got a Robin My Little Pony from Carla Speed McNeil! adorable!), and I found both Terry Moore's table -- he and [personal profile] holli had a nice chat about when to call oneself a professional in a creative field -- and Boom! Studios. I bought the first volume of Rachel Rising from Terry Moore, and we'll see how I like it -- his stuff is gorgeous and he can plot a story, that's for sure. I also was given a free Get-A-Sketch floppy from the Adventure Time booth as they were closing down; I need to find out if my nephews follow the show and would like the comic.

Next weekend is Small Press Expo! Wish me luck, and not too much spending! ;)
So I bought the trade of the New 52 (the DC reboot that wiped out all the previous continuity and many beloved characters) Flash 'Move Forward' recently. It is a collection of the first 8 issues of the rebooted Flash comic, featuring Barry Allen as the Flash.

The art is gorgeous. Seriously gorgeous with beautifully detailed backgrounds; Francis Manapul did fantastic work there. There is some noticeable effort to give the male characters distinctive faces -- Captain Cold has a bit of an aquiline nose, Dr. Darwin Elias has cleft chin, etc -- but they're still mostly built on the same 'heroic' face, and Patty Spivot and Iris West both have the same face if you look beyond their different hairstyles. I'm hoping it gets better as the series progresses, since Wendy Pini was giving her characters distinctive and recognizable faces 20 years ago, iit isn't impossible for other comics artists to do the same.

I'm not sure about dropping the action in media res, with Barry Allen being the Flash for the last 5 years and him being the only Flash to ever exist, due to the New 52 rewriting comics history. I feel a bit adrift. I think it's the writers -- Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul -- attempting to get everyone learning the story as the Flash learns about himself, but the world feels a bit shallow. There's a lot of telling, not showing in this trade, and part of that is that the editorial decision to redo the DC Comics universe as the New 52 has cut away almost all the depth I'm used having chugging away behind the scenes. For example, there's a lot of flashbacks in the opening story arc, about the villain Mob Rule, who turns out to be an old friend of Barry's, sort of; but because this story is not an origin story, the flashbacks often break up the flow of the story.

Another thing that bothered me is that Keystone and Central City are surrounded by 'badlands'. Now, Keystone used to be in Kansas and Central City in Missouri, which makes any possible 'badlands' several hours drive away seeing as the Kansas-Missouri border is prairie and grain fields -- to get to the Dakotas and their Badlands, you'd have to go through Nebraska, which is still full of grain crops and cow pastures! I suppose in the New 52 the cities could be further north, but it seems quite weird, given that these 'badlands' are are explicitly close enough to make a day trip to in a 1912 steam-powered car!

Also, the power outage due to an EMP blast that drive the second half of the trade... I kind of rolled my eyes at. If a power outage leaves the cages at the zoo and the cells at a prison unlocked, then the New 52 universe has lousy security design. The elevator crash that Barry rescues some construction workers from is just plain lack of research -- elevator brakes are designed to engage if there is power loss! Of course, I'm complaining about realism in a book that has the local prison on a rocky island in the middle of the river like a midwestern Alcatraz, so my expectations are probably ridiculous.

I'm also dubious of the backstory on Turbine, the second new villain introduced in this trade. Given his name and his powers, he might be meant to be the New 52 version of The Top. I don't mind that, since The Flash really does seem to be trying to introduce female and non-white characters to the supporting cast, but I'm not sure making Turbine's history be a Tuskegee Airman who was sucked into a space-time vortex was at all a good decision. It seems like a lot of opportunities for history-fail, given that superhero comics aren't generally known for the depth of their research.

On the other hand, I did like that Captain Cold is still obsessed with protecting his sister -- his terrifying dedication to family was one of his more interesting traits before the reboot -- and the fact that she resents his actions is interesting. I'm not sure that I like making him (and the other Rogues, presumably) so young. I preferred it when they were seasoned career criminals, instead of young men being angry violent idiots.

I'm ambivalent about Barry's relationship with Patty Spivot. I can understand why they didn't want to set him up with Iris West -- if you're rebooting the universe, you might as well try something different with the characters -- but frankly it's another case of 'telling, not showing'. We get to see Patty and Barry doing things together, but mainly as a set ups for whatever conflict in that issue is going to be. I'm not sure what she sees in him, since Barry is the only person whose thoughts we have access to, and frankly, I'm finding Barry kind of boring even though I'm trying to give him a chance as a character.

I do find it interesting that the last issue in the story introduced Gorilla City and Grodd. Because gorillas make everything better, apparently? Actually, Grodd is a pretty iconic Flash villian, and was always a serious threat in spite of the inherent silliness of his premise (warmonger from a hidden super-high-tech city of sapient gorillas!) so it's interesting that he's going to be important in an upcoming trade. Though I do wonder about the entire 'kill your father to become an adult' thing. It seems wasteful and impractical, and what happens to younger son -- who do they have to kill to become an adult?

In sum, the art is gorgeous, the story is kind of pedestrian.
I've been hit by a DC Comics plotbunny, since I was foolish enough to look on Tumblr and see how pretty the art is for the new 52 Flash (really pretty guys).. so I've been searching through my music library for songs to weaponize, because if I'm writing a Flash story, I'm writing Pied Piper, and if I'm writing Pied Piper I really should know what music he's using.

It's pretty sad that I looked through my 'fierce' playlist and rejected Black Sabbath songs as 'not aggressive enough'. Also, apparently I don't have enough Queen or Jethro Tull songs -- Queen because Piper canonically did blow up a planet using The Show Must Go On and Jethro Tull because that's the only rock band that I can that used a flute regularly.

Currently, I've got a few contenders for the ominous, 'you've fucked with the wrong guy, assholes' scene. In the Land of the Pigs (The Butcher is King) by Meatloaf, Exterminating Angel by The Creatures, or Godzilla by Blue Oyster Cult, which might just be a little on the nose. Of course, I could go with something completely instrumental like Avanti by Corvus Corax (which is an excuse to use the quakepipes!) or just Verdi's Dies Irae.

I'm also trying to figure out some alternative names super-hero/villain for some of the legacy characters I'm going to have in this story, since they don't want to disrupt their predecessors' lives by running around using a name they inherited from someone who doesn't know them from Adam. Currently, I'm trying to figure out what might work for Captain Boomerang II, Stargirl, Atom Smasher, and maybe Obsidian. Manhunter wouldn't feel the need to change hers, because it's quite generic, Spoiler gets to remain herself if she goes back to her original handle, and Impulse would be the first one of that name since the DCnU has Bart as Kid Flash but never Impulse, and I've already figured out what Piper gets stuck with, due to an ill-timed snarky remark from Boomerang.
BARRY: There's a morgue for the League's enemies three stories below the meeting room? ) -- Blackest Night #1

Except now I want Piper to be responsible for publishing an expose series on this and other abuses by the Justice League -- Rathaway Publish might own newspapers, and it'd be fun for the heroes to deal with a PR disaster of such epic proportion. Especially since at least a few of the people they dug up for their little 'morgue' have families that would have objected -- and maybe a few were never proved to be supervillains legally?

Especially because I have this idea about Barry going to try to 'reason' with the chief editors at the paper breaking this story, and being told it was the publisher who okayed/pushed for the story. When he goes to confront 'Mr. Rathaway', Barry thinks he looks familiar, but can't place him until Wally runs in and has a fit at Piper, who stands there and takes it, mulishly and with bad grace.

Piper is *pissed* about the grave-robbing, possibly because the heroes tried to exhume James Jesse from where he was eventually buried (Chicago, by his fellow FBI agents? Central City, by Piper?) and Piper decided to finally use all the useless, filthy money he inheritated and run the news arm of his family's publishing company to watchdog the heroes. He's figured out he can do a lot of good with good old-fashioned muckraking journalism, and is thinking about trying to hire Lois Lane away from the Planet...

Wally has yet another "oh for god sake, PIPER!" moment, and then a "Oh, fuck, what stupidity did the League come up with *now* that I wasn't told about because they knew I'd argue with them?"

After that, I don't know... maybe Piper has really managed to retire from brawling with super-types because he doesn't win fistfights, and has finally figured out that you can do a LOT more damage if you can grasp the levers of power -- and what else is he going to do with his parents' money, after all? He's already gotten foundations and endowments running for most of his pet charities -- now it's a matter of 'prodding buttock' on a politcal level, to steal from the great Pterry...
My brain goes strange places -- there are a distinct lack of Slytherins in Keystone/Central, mainly because the Rogues are amazingly unambitious for what they can do

There is also a lot of Chaos on the Rogues' side, but a suprisingly low amount of Evil considering most of the characters are costumed supervillains.

The Good )
The Bad )
The Evil )

Interestingly, while the heroic characters are mostly Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors (pretty typical for hero types), the villains are mostly *Ravenclaws*, with the occasional Hufflepuff or Gryffindor. I could only tag two of the characters as Slytherins, both of the Tricksters, and they hate each other...


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