Anthony’s picks for DC Comics for December 2009

Time once more for my picks for DC Comics’ solicitations, this time for the final month of the decade known as the 00s (naughts? double-zeroes?), December 2009.

Comics I plan to buy:
- Superboy: The Greatest Team-Ups Ever Told TPB, on sale Jan. 20, $20

Comics I might consider buying:
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12, on sale Dec. 16, $2.50
- Tiny Titans #23, on sale Dec. 16, $2.50

Comments:
- Batman this month offers an “80 page giant” special, a format published by DC in the 1960s and 70s that featured mostly reprints of previous stories (or the occasional new story with a bunch of reprints as backups). In this case, it’s all-new stories about Gotham City caught in a snowstorm. Given the tone of modern Bat-books, however, I’ll easily bet the contents of my piggy bank it’s just another typical grim-fest (especially if the Joker’s in it, though he’s not listed as a character specifically appearing…). Though admittedly it’s the first title I scanned by on the list that didn’t have the word “black” (per “Blackest Night”, the megacrossover-du-jour) in its description…

- I assume the two folks on “Superman: Secret Origins” #4′s cover are some newly-revamped versions of Jor-El and Lara (redrawn to resemble the Christopher Reeve film versions)? IIRC, both were A) young when Krypton went “boom” and B) black-haired like their son in pretty much every version *except* for the films (but Hollyweird’s like that)…

- A DC holiday comic special coming out, with what I assume (from the writers listed) are all-new stories. Amusing cover (Batman not thrilled by the looks of what happened to that “Bat-snowman”…).

- A Superboy trade paperback… cool! Wonder if this means they’ve resolved (or will soon resolve) the insipid rights dispute over the Boy of Steel (given the modern Superboy is back in action). The issues coming out include various 60s-era stories (including IIRC the Silver Age Luthor’s origin story, which is *NOT* just “Supes made Lex bald”), plus a story from the 80s Superboy run (IIRC the issue where Clark meets a teenaged Hal Jordan).

- “Batman: Brave and the Bold” is described as “a very special Final Christmas issue”—is this title getting axed already? Or just a “this may be the *last* Christmas ever for Batman!” pitch?

- “Super Friends” is also a Christmas issue (with Yet Another Holiday-themed Cover).

- Nice “Looney Tunes” cover (though a month late, per Election Day being in November).

Possible new digital subchannel children’s network to debut?

This article states that the owner of the digital subchannel TV network RTN (Retro Television Network, a network that like Chicago/Milwaukee’s MeTV, specializes in reruns of classic TV shows) plans to start up several other digital subchannel networks, including a children’s network tentatively named “PBJ”.

I assume this network’s main competition would be Qubo (which is carried on the ION network as a subchannel), and whatever passes for kids’ shows on ABC, CBS and NBC nowadays, which isn’t much—just the bare minimum three hours a week of educational/informative programming to meet FCC requirements. NBC carries some Qubo shows, CBS has a deal with Cookie Jar, and ABC just recycles its Disney Channel live-action sitcom stuff.

As for what PBJ could carry, I’m not sure, given most of the decent potential material is being sat on (and allowed to rot on their shelves—I’m looking at you, Time-Warner and “Looney Tunes”) by a few gigantic media conglomerates, which doesn’t leave much else available animation-wise. About all I can think of so far:

  • The Program Exchange’s library of shows, which are still available for syndication to any stations that want them (instead of paying a fee, they simply have to air a minimum number of General Mills product ads). The animated shows available include “The Bullwinkle Show”, the syndicated “The Rocky Show” (the 15-minute formatted “Rocky and His Friends”, which I haven’t seen since the mid-80s on a South Bend station that simply ran two 15-minute episodes together to fill a half-hour), several Total Television shows (“King Leonardo and His Short Subjects”, “Underdog”, “Tennessee Tuxedo”), a few obscure Hanna-Barbera shows (“Space Kidettes”, “Young Samson”), a spinoff of “Inspector Gadget”, and the newest item on the list, “Jakers!” (a CGI animated show about a funny-animal pig growing up on a farm, that ran on PBS until recently). Would be nice to see any of the Jay Ward/Total Television material back on American television (beyond WGN America running it at 11 PM on Saturday night).
  • Perhaps NBC-Universal might be willing to let them air Woody Woodpecker, a character currently languishing in limbo (except on Hulu) but still a character that has plenty of recognizability.
  • Corus via subsidiary Nelvana has some shows that aren’t a part of any existing deal with Qubo, PBS or Cartoon Network in its library—”Beetlejuice” and “Braceface” come to mind.

The above suggestions might also apply to Chicago- and Milwaukee-area MeTV, which could use some cartoons in its classic show lineup.

We’ll see what comes of all this…

Anthony finally sees the new 5G Nano

Last weekend, I went to the Apple Store and got a look at the newest fifth-generation iPod Nano, so I could see for myself what these new models look like (and how well they worked).

Ars Technica did the same thing; see this article for its take.

The main features that are different from the previous Nanos are their built-in video camera and FM radio. For the radio, it seemed to pick up stations fairly well, along with offering the usual radio features found on other mp3 players (such as bookmarking favorite FM stations). Overall, the FM radio would be quite useful at the gym (to hear the gym TV sets’ audio, for instance).

The other main feature, its video camera, I’m still less sold on. Per my previous criticisms of the “thin” Nano design (versus the third generation “fat” Nano I own), it’s still awkward to hold for watching videos, and using the camera took even more hand coordination. I also found my fingers caught in a few camera shots (albeit before getting more used to holding it). Still wondering why they didn’t put a camera in the iPod Touch instead; I doubt it’d eat into iPhone sales, as people who want a cell phone clearly would be going for that instead of a Touch.

Overall, while the new Nanos are more featured than my 3G Nano, if I were buying a new iPod, I’d still have to go with the Touch.

New iPods, and DC Comics goes (even more) corporate

Today (09/09/09—numerologists must be thrilled) was a quite busy day… to summarize: 

- Apple’s newest iPods announcement. The biggest changes comes to the iPod Nanos—now sporting, of all things, a video camera (incapable of taking still images, so it can’t be used for photos), and, after years of the iPod’s existence, an FM radio. Given the sorry state of FM radio today, I doubt it’d be of much use for me beyond listening to NPR or the TVs at the gym. That, and the iPod Nano looks like it still has the same faults I didn’t care much for with last year’s revision. Other than this, the only other iPod changes are a few new colors for the Shuffle and capacity bumps for the entire line, including the iPod Touch (which one would think would be a way more obvious choice for a camera, per the iPhone) and the Classic (bumped back up to 160GB again).

While I’d have to look at the new models, it seems like a lackluster new move across the board, not to mention a bizarre move to put the video camera and FM radio in just the Nano, and not the iPod Touch (or Classic).

Guess if my current 3G “fat” Nano breaks, I’d still have to either go with the Touch (if it can work with Ubuntu), or just buy another mp3 player brand altogether.

- Time-Warner’s decided to put its subsidiary DC Comics under a new media-spanning division named “DC Entertainment.” Guess they wanted to ape Marvel and Marvel Entertainment. Outside of easing pressure off of DC Comics-proper to manage its media properties (thus keeping it free to keep, erm, writing stories about the Joker trying to make Idi Amin’s death toll look like a statistical anomaly/use traumatic and serious topics like rape as a disposable plot point in stories like “Identity Crisis”/that Black Lantern nonsense/etc.), not sure how much impact this move will have, given Time-Warner is already the media conglomerate almost all DC properties are released under or broadcast on.

Look out, here comes the Spider…mouse? Disney to buy Marvel Comics

As noted in the subject line, today’s big news is not a hoax, not a dream, and not an imaginary story: Disney is buying out Marvel Comics, publishers of the Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-Men, for $4 billion.

Already, of course, the Internet is abuzz about this deal. Reactions range from surprise to indifference to paranoia, it seems. As for my reactions, I don’t expect much to change at Marvel Comics itself. Much like when DC Comics merged with Warner Communications in the late 60s and continued along its comics writing as usual, Marvel’s comics should do likewise. Thus, Wolverine can keep slicing-and-dicing, just as Miramax is free to make films like “Rent” (that’re far removed from “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”).

Disney’s main reason for buying Marvel isn’t for the comics, of course, given they barely pay any attention to their *own* characters’ comics (despite the Duck comics’ popularity in Europe far outstripping any of Marvel’s own books). Rather, Disney wants access to the merchandising opportunities, TV shows, movies and cartoons based on the characters, and the source of revenue from such.

As for the existing deals with other studios, theme parks, etc., my guess is they’ll continue to honor them as before, until the existing agreements expire. At that time, the Marvel properties will probably move to some Disney-owned outlet (Spider-Man cartoons on Disney XD, the X-men movies on ABC, etc.).

It would be nice if Disney made use of their newly-acquired comic book company to give the Disney Duck comics wider publication, though I somehow doubt it (the recent deal with Boom! comics to distribute Disney’s books might make that tough for now anyway).

Of course, from a media diversity standpoint, this probably isn’t a good thing, since it makes for even less diversity than before for media ownership. However, it might be a good thing for Marvel having Disney’s resources and marketing know-how at hand, since it could give them an easy one-up over Time-Warner’s tepid-to-nonexistent marketing skills and over-reliance on just Batman for movies, cartoons, etc.