The biggest thing in the comic book world right now is obviously "The Avengers," which opened nationwide on Friday.
Not only is the movie a big deal for comic book fans, but it's the real kickoff to this summer's blockbuster season - whetting the appetite for Spider-Man, Batman and all the others yet to come this year. But rather than add to the copious coverage which the Marvel team-up movie will be receiving this weekend, this month's column will focus on some new and upcoming DC books (shocker!)
Part of the reason for that is probably due to the fact that I've yet to see the new Marvel flick. (There's a delay between when this column gets written and when it gets published, so Thursday night's midnight showing hasn't even happened yet!)
Comic book writer Grant Morrison made some interesting comments about Batman in a recent Playboy magazine interview.
Still, between both February and April's columns, the team (and Marvel comics in general) have been getting a lot of love from ol' "Nerding Out." Plus, although Marvel's got two huge hits between "The Avengers" movie and their AVX comic, DC's rolling out expansions of its "New 52" - which may not have as hot a single seller, but likely adds up to more in the long run.
Enough on the intro though. On to the nerding out!
DC pressed "reset" on its universe of characters just last September.
Not everything was wiped away clean in the reboot, but the bigwigs at the company thought a reboot would make for a fresh start to DC for a lot of people.
We're now eight months into the relaunch, dubbed "The New 52," and, so far, many of the titles' first arcs have proven worthwhile and enjoyable.
However, after eight months, DC's ready to make some changes.
Just this past Wednesday, DC launched the first four titles in its "Second Wave," a series of new books replacing six others in the New 52.
In "Earth 2," writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott drop readers into an epic war being waged on the parallel Earth. Tied to that title is "Worlds' Finest," a reboot of the classic DC title "World's Finest." The twist here is that the book follows the Huntress and Power Girl of Earth 2 as they cross over to Earth Prime and can't return back home - hence the switch to "Worlds' Finest."
Both books will likely appeal to old school DC fans, as the titles are reintroducing the old Justice Society versions of superheroes like Flash and the Green Lantern.
Also a part of DC's "Second Wave" of titles is the relaunch of "Batman, Inc.," a title which was ongoing just prior to the start of the New 52. The first issue, which comes out later this month, starts a new arc in the series created by Grant Morrison.
The Batman Inc. idea came about after a string of Morrison's other Batman stories - "Batman R.I.P.," "Final Crisis" and "The Return of Bruce Wayne."
Toward the end of his run on DC's "Batman and Robin" title, Morrison announced Bruce Wayne would be creating "a global network of Bat-men from China to Argentina to fight crime worldwide." The series has so far had its ups and downs, and has been on hiatus for months since the start of DC's new 52. However, later this month, the title returns to comic stores' shelves. Despite having had ups and downs, its return is a welcome one.
Morrison finished off his last arc in the title by putting a lot of cards on the table. Not to spoil the story for those who haven't read it, but most of the mystery regarding the villainous group Leviathan was revealed. What we'll likely see in coming issues is Batman and his legion of helpers under attack by Talia al Ghul and others.
The three others in the next wave are "Dial H," "G.I. Combat" and "The Ravagers." The first is a reboot of the cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero. The title "G.I. Combat" features the return of the classic DC series "The War That Time Forgot," along with a rotating set of back-up stories from various creative teams. The new title "The Ravagers" is a spinoff from the current events going on in "Teen Titans" and Superboy." The series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against an organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.
Surely more interesting to some than the six new titles being released by DC is the fact that all the original line of "New 52" comics will soon be available in hardcover collections and trade paperbacks.
The rollout of titles runs through November, kicking off this month with "Animal Man," "Batman," "Catwoman," Green Arrow," "Green Lantern," "Justice League International," "Stormwatch," "Wonder Woman" and "Justice League."
Collected editions are a great way to get into a story all at once.
The hard part is waiting until enough of the issues are published individually in order to be packaged up and released in such collections.
Finally, after eight months, that wait is over for all of DC's "New 52" titles. Sure, some of these I've been reading month-to-month, but for others, I'm ready to sit down with the graphic novels and check out what I've been missing.
Watch store shelves for these to start appearing. There are 52 or so of them, so I don't envy the space that comic shops and bookstores are going to have to dedicate. That will definitely make it harder to select just one or two out of the group once all 52 are on display.
Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day in Jamestown and all around the world.
Free Comic Book Day is an annual promotion held on the first Saturday in May each year. As part of the event, retailers give away new, brand name comics. In Jamestown, at Chautauqua Comics, the event also doubles as a fundraiser for the St. Susan Center.
In 2011, comic shop owner Al Steffens presented St. Susan Center with a check for $258, all of which was raised through donations at the shop.
Did you miss out on Free Comic Book Day? Stop into the shop to donate to the St. Susan Center and to see what Steffens has left. I'm not guaranteeing anything, but if not all the free comics were given away yesterday, there might still be some for the taking - just make sure to make a donation to the local cause.
Free Comic Book Day began as the brainchild of a California comics store owner, held for the first time in 2002. In its first six years, more than 2,000 locations in more than 30 countries gave away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special-edition comic books.
In other news, with the release of "The Avengers" came a third trailer for Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," which was very, very welcome.
What was unexpected though was the almost simultaneous news from comic book writer Grant Morrison that Batman is gay. Morrison talked with Playboy magazine recently about the character's origins and his apparent sexual deviance.
Morrison's a well-known (and divisive) name in the comic book world.
He's currently writing "Action Comics" for DC and has been authoring Batman stories for the company for years now.
In the context of the interview he explains that he's not speaking pejoratively. And his comments are nowhere near the point of Fredric Wertham's infamous "Seduction of the Innocent" book.
"Obviously as a fictional character he's intended to be heterosexual," Morrison told Playboy, "but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay. I think that's why people like it. All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get to him. He doesn't care - he's more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid."
As with anything Morrison, the comments and interview do require some research and reflection. The dude's just that out there. I can't even begin to conceive how his mind operates.
And, of course, as with anything regarding such subject matter, there was immediate knee-jerk reactions to the idea that Batman could be gay.
Unlike many though, I'm not interested in debating the plausibility of such a thing (especially as he's not a real person!). What I am interested in though are the more important questions, such as who gay Batman would marry!? And more importantly, what state he would marry in.
The answer to that first question is obviously the harder one, as gay Batman would no doubt get married in New York state. The classic definition of Gotham is "New York City at night." But, oh, wouldn't it be grand to see gay Batman get married on the shores of Chautauqua Lake!? Eh? I think people would flock to the area just to see the site where gay Batman got wed to... oh, I dunno... probably not the obvious choices like Kal-El or Dick Grayson. But I could honestly see the Caped Crusader getting hitched to Hal Jordan. The two already fight like an old married couple!
I could go on at length, but I think I'll end this month's column there.
More from me in a month's time.
Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. It runs the first Sunday of each month.