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  1. #751


    This has been a bad week for musicians I've seen live.

    First, Leonard Cohen.

    Now, Leon Russell.

  2. #752


    New York magazine has an interesting spotlight on Rebirth, and what DC tried to do (largely successfully.)

    That bump was not to last. By the start of 2012, Marvel was back on top, and it stayed there. It wasn’t hard to see why. The new DC continuity was supposed to simplify things, but the company had tried to eat its cake and have it, too: They didn’t want to erase certain classic narrative elements from the past, and incorporating them into the new timeline made for some baffling contradictions. For example, the new version of Batman was a guy who’d only been operating for a few years … but somehow, he’d already died, come back from the dead, and worked with three different sidekicks. On top of that, some beloved characters were totally wiped away. Others were reimagined with new attitudes or backstories that eschewed much of what had made them cool. Sales were dismal and reviews were brutal. By mid-2015, the New 52 experiment had more or less failed.

    No one saw that more clearly than DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. Standing in the sun-drenched lobby of this year’s New York Comic-Con, DiDio recalled to me what it was like to be the public face of DC at that convention’s 2015 installment. “We were met at a couple of panels with a level of apathy that I hadn't seen for a very long time,” he said in his Noo Yawk basso profundo. “There was a disconnect with the fan base, more than we’d even perceived. It felt palpable. Nobody was really into the stories. We might've gone a little bit too far with some of the New 52 stories and lost the connective tissue that people really used to identify with our characters.”

    Shaken, DiDio and Lee flew back to DC’s Burbank headquarters after the October convention. Along with Johns — then DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer — Lee and DiDio hammered out a rescue plan for their titles. They initially thought they would launch a crossover story that used typically out-there comic-book logic to recapture old glory by grafting pre– and post–New 52 continuity together to make what would surely have been an even more complicated patchwork quilt of facts and events. But once they had it mapped out, they realized they were missing the point. What they needed wasn’t a cosmic shakeup — they’d already done that, and look at where it had gotten them. Though they still wanted to execute an attention-grabbing event, they decided to start small. The tactic was to hit upon what Lee refers to as “the most Platonic, idealistic version of each of these characters.”

    The trio decided to name their inchoate new plan Rebirth and, on January 22, Lee tweeted a picture of a mysterious blue curtain with that word projected on it. Readers didn’t know what was being teased — and, in a way, neither did the men in charge. The project was being built in piecemeal. Johns took the lead, becoming what Lee calls the “showrunner” for this malleable new plan. He wasn’t interested in ruling by editorial fiat, which was what he, Lee, and DiDio had often done when they issued marching orders for the New 52. Instead, Johns started calling up creators for the various existing DC titles and others who were already tapped to come aboard soon. One by one, he invited them to Burbank, not explaining what, exactly, they were coming there for.

    Green Arrow writer Benjamin Percy was summoned in January. “We sat down in a room together, and one wall of windows looks out on Burbank and on the other wall is a big whiteboard,” he recalled. “Geoff's like, 'Alright, what are the greatest Green Arrow stories ever told?’” Percy gave his answers. Then Johns told him to list all the recurring motifs and plot devices that make Green Arrow unique. And all the most important supporting characters. And the villains. The whiteboard filled. “It starts as kind of a spider-web cluster, and we build out from there,” Percy said. “We figure out, ‘Okay, if you have that, what would be the greatest Green Arrow story line we could tell?’”

    Some of the elements they came up with directly contradicted Green Arrow’s New 52 status quo — and, indeed, edicts that DC had given Percy in the past as a way of modernizing the character. “When I was writing the New 52, I was told, 'No goatee. No Black Canary,'” Percy says, referring to Green Arrow’s classic facial-hair style and superpowered love interest. “But two of the first things we put up on the board were: ‘goatee,’ ‘Black Canary.’” Percy would be free to bring those things back right away, previous rules be damned.

    Writer after writer was invited to whiteboard meetings and found themselves surprised at how readily Johns gave up the existing set of rules. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey co-writers Julie and Shawna Benson were fans of classic stories where Batgirl became a hacker named Oracle; Johns told them to have Oracle be part of Batgirl’s past now, even though that stuff had been wiped away in the New 52. Supergirl had been a dangerous loose cannon in the New 52, but Supergirl writer Steve Orlando told Johns he’d always thought of her as being “about problem solving without necessarily meaning hitting someone in the face”; Johns told him he could have her act that way without any explanation of why her personality had shifted.

    Some decisions were top-down, such as replacing the youthful New 52 version of Superman with the older one from the previous continuity, and resurrecting Wally West. In all cases, the plan was to not waste too much narrative space on in-universe justifications. As their logic went, an improvement is an improvement, and it doesn’t matter much if you lay out in detail why the improvement happened. Flash writer Joshua Williamson told me he was getting into the weeds about why an idea might not work due to New 52 continuity, but “Geoff was like, ‘Just forget everything. Forget everything, none of that matters. None of it matters. What are you trying to say about this character?’”

    This was a subtly and mildly revolutionary approach to a superhero overhaul. There had been no shortage of reboots at DC and Marvel, all of them designed to short-circuit the whole operation through some apocalyptic, reality-shifting story line. More recently, Marvel has tended toward canceling batches of series and restarting them with new number-one issues to provide the illusion of change without actually altering anything. Rebirth was going to be something that sought the best of both worlds: There would be genuine change to the status quo, but most of it would happen without fanfare, and there would be no intrusive mega-crossover to disrupt stories that were already going fine.

    Readers and industry-watchers could be forgiven for not quite understanding all of that, given that it hadn’t been tried before. In February, DC laid out the list of Rebirth series, all but two of which were going to start with new number-one issues. (In a surprising move, DC reverted the long-running Action Comics and Detective Comics back to their pre-2011 numbering system, meaning they were now putting out issues numbered in the 900s). Some of the titles were old standbys, your Supermans and Batmans; some of them were intriguingly odd, like the tale of a Chinese Superman knockoff called New Super-Man and a series about the adventures of Batman and Superman's young children. Many of the books would come out twice a month, a departure from the standard monthly schedule of the comics industry. The company didn’t do a great job of explaining themselves — Lee and Johns both tweeted, “IT’S NOT A REBOOT,” but didn’t say what it was. “It’s not just an event,” Johns said in a promo video (below), “but an ongoing mission for us” — another stubbornly vague description.

  3. #753


    The Predator is a bad movie, and is really stupid. I had more confidence in liking it given the skilled craftsman behind it.
    That is, the heritage of the Kryptonian Warrior: Kal-El, son of Jor-El
    You like Gameboy and NDS? - My channel
    Looks like I'll have to move past gameplay footage

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