Tag Archives: Before Watchmen

Action Brickbats! Issue #0

Keen Gear: I’m inclined to list Top Gear as a guilty pleasure on my Earth Prime blog. It’s the kind of show that can be very entertaining (the British version, not the American one), but if you tell someone to watch it and see what you mean, it’ll probably be a dull episode. Most of the time, it’s just three middle-aged men reviewing cars – usually giving the big thumbs up to the models that burn the most petrol and screw up the environment. But then again, there are episodes where their intelligence is put to the test in a series of challanges – that’s when it becomes a show about three middle-aged men falling over. That’s when it gets interesting. Check the episode where the three try building original designs for motorhomes, or the one where they build their own amphibious cars. That’s when the show starts to look like a Monty Python sketch (a friend of mine asked me if the show had anything to do with Python when I mentioned that I watch it). I can imagine memebers of  the troupe from that show as the cast of Top Gear: Graham Chapman as Jeremy Clarkson, Eric Idle as James May, Michael Palin as Richard Hammond, John Cleese as “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”, Terry Jones as Michael Gambon and Terry Gilliam as The Stig – the show’s mascot.

So, yes, do watch Top Gear. Just check the descriptions on your tv guide to be sure it’s not about reviewing cars…except the one where Jeremy reviews how a Ford Fiesta would handle while chased by drug dealers in a shopping center.

And He Adjusts His Bowtie – It used to be that I could discuss Doctor Who spoilers because I was watching episodes a year or two after they originally aired – who writes “Spoilers” for old stuff? But it looks like the season finale is coming up…I actually find the Matt Smith years to be a remake/reset of the Eccleston/Tennant years – only with a lower budget, slightly wittier scripts, a younger cast and fewer spaceships crashing into volcanoes. In other words, I don’t hate it. I just wish it was as hip as it’s promoted to be, then it wouldn’t seem like a guilty pleasure. I am looking forward to Jenna Louisa Coleman as Oswin – that script for Asylum of The Daleks was Moffats best one since Blink.

 Zero Hours –I find this month’s DC Comics #0 issue gimmick a bit of “eh”. It’s all setup for other crossovers or retcon stuff featuring minor characters engage in conspiratorial nonsense. It wouldn’t really be bad if it didn’t seem like they’re already planning another crossover after the “Trinity War” that’s for next year. There’s no such thing as stopping and smelling the roses – last week’s comic is stored in a box in your basement/garage/storage bin/closet/ex-wife’s attic/whatever, this week’s comic is sure to go to the same place. Before Watchmen – old news. Batgirl out of the wheelchair – old news (I would think that would be a bigger event than anything else going on – why isn’t she in the Justice League? They’re making room for Vibe?)

These brickbats? Old news.

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Post Number #0, Earth Pi Edition

It’s kind of neat when a comic book company revisits an old gimmick. DC is offering #0 issues this month. That means all the comics that didn’t get a #0 issue (or just weren’t around to get one) in the 1990s will get their chance. Batgirl will get a #0! Batwing will get a #0! A more appealing incarnation of The Justice League will get a 2nd#0! Nightwing will get a #0! Blue Beetle will get a #0! Batman Inc. will get a #0! Green Arrow will get a 2nd#0! Superman will get a 2nd #0! OMAC – was canceled. Before Watchmen…won’t get #0s, but, gee, you would figure if they were going to screw Alan Moore, they would at least stick it all the way in there and finish the job. Enough with the foreplay.

The #0 gimmick has a lot to do with the desire to have a #1 issue of a comic that’s been around long before you were born. It’s a form of compensation. In many cases, companies would use it as a preview of the upcoming #1 issue (some #0’s were bagged with issues of Wizard Magazine – and they would come up with the Issue 1 1/2 mail-order exclusive gimmick). I used to have a #0 issue of Sonic the Hedgehog. DC used the gimmick as part of a company crossover event called Zero Hour, which was an attempt to explain away discrepancies/inconsistencies/garbage (the histories of the Legion of Super Heroes, the Justice League, Superboy, and a possible return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl) and the fallout from a previous crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths (it didn’t work). Some of the issues offered retellings of origin stories, others offered new takes on familiar events. Much of the suspense from the event was whether Barbara would return as Batgirl after being left in a wheelchair after the events of “The Killing Joke”. It would take another decade and a half before she did. A lot of fans either wish she had stayed in the chair and a lot of fans are happy to see her back in the Batgirl costume – it’s just one or the other.

One gimmick at a time, here – #0 issues ran their course as a gimmick. The next was relaunches with new #1 issues, particularly comics that never technically had a #1 issue (a lot of the Marvel comics characters – Thor, the Hulk, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Iron Man) appeared as feature in anthology titles that were spun off into their own series with the issue numbering continuing uninterrupted, the Hulk in particular. His new #1 by John Bryne and Ron Garney was collectible for a while, until people realized it was his 2nd. That’s another story.

And then there’s the curious phenomena regarding #2 issues. It turns out the comic shops would order more copies of #1 issues, then order a more conservative (less) number of #2 issues. To muddy the waters further, Marvel was trying a gimmick to make #2 issues of their relaunch titles more appealing by offering variant covers. This lasted through 1998. You see what happens when you order a #1, find it boring, skip out on #2, then learn that that was the hot one to own? What a mess! Oh, and 1 1/2 issues went out after a few years when Wizard stopped offering them. Those books usually offered a short comic and some sketchbook material from the artist, sometimes with a short interview. On one occasion, Wizard offered a future edition – Witchblade #500.This cynical gimmick did not catch on – partly because a lot of people questioned if most comic books would ever exist near #500, given the number of cancellations, relaunches, etc. Remember Crossgen? That was a thing.

O.K. – DC is offering #0s again. Does this mean you get to pick and choose to keep which zero issue of a title that already had a #0 issue? There’s no 2nd “0” on a calculator…

Say, if you’re bored, take two #8 issues of any recent DC Comic from the New52 relaunch, two of the new #0 issues and one #5. Line them up together a hand of cards and fan them out. Make sure the issue numbers are lying next to each other when you spell “80085“. I don’t think you need to look at them upside down to get this joke.

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