WLG #374: It’s Like That One Alicia Keys Song

A column article by: Brandon Billups

Editor's note: Two of our regular WHAT LOOKS GOOD writers, Chris Murman and Paul Brian McCoy, have had to step away from the column, but not the site.

Don’t worry though, Chris will soon be contributing to another column, SHOT FOR SHOT! Paul has become a regular contributor to SHOT FOR SHOT and is also the column’s editor. That and MONDO MARVEL are keeping him busy, but fear not! He will still be on-board as WLG’s editor. Plus, Matt Spatola will still be providing you with his brand of WHAT LOOKS GOOD goodness every third week.

Because of this assignment shuffling, Comics Bulletin is running a series of pilot entries from writers who are being considering for the column. Next up is Brandon Billups.

Please take a moment to give Brandon some feedback on his column over at the message board, and come back next week for another fresh young face!

Everyone who falls in love with comics falls back out of love at least once in their lives. A few of your favorite series get canceled, writers you love leave the characters they were working with, long-running series come to an end, company-wide editorial policy grinds the stories you liked to a halt, or your favorite series goes months without seeing a new issue and for a moment comics just don’t seem right.

Hopefully if this happens to you it excites you to go out and look beyond what you were reading and see what’s new, or what’s old but still really good. I’ve been reading comics for about 20 years now, and I’ve fallen out of love a couple of times.

The first time was when the Albertson’s Grocery my grandmother took me to stop ordering Generation X. Recently it was post-52 (the first one) DC comics that ultimately caused me to take a quiet holiday in the Land of the Occasional Hardcover. I still liked comics, and we hung out on weekends sometimes. I even took the time to go back and read the original Dragonball manga.

But we weren’t intimate like we’d been before. There was no passion. So it only follows that DC’s New 52 has given me cause for introspection. Have I wasted the last few years? Are DC and I really compatible after all? So join me on a journey through modern continuity flux as I try to discover just what’s going on in the DCU and tell you What Looks Good this week.

THE OUTSIDER #3 (of 3)
FLASH FACT: The Outsider's greatest enemy is revealed.

Until the New 52 books actually start getting published though, I’ve been reading through Flashpoint and its enormous number of tie-ins. As with most of these continuity-spanning events, the tie-ins can so often be generic throwaways, but occasionally there are a few diamonds in the rough, and that’s exactly what The Outsider is.

Despite its only being tangentially related to Flashpoint itself, James Robinson has set up quite an interesting story in which an untransforming (and thus invulnerable) version of Metamorpho is born in India and uses his wits and invincibility to climb out of poverty and eventually take over the nation.

The first two issues spend time defining Michael Desai as a sort or Bond villain with superpowers, unafraid to take lives when necessary and unwilling to get his designer suit dirty. They also flesh out the details of his backstory, which heavily ties in with this universe’s Black Adam, a character I’ve always had a particular fondness for. Issue #3 promises a surprising showdown, and after seeing Javi Fernandez (an artist I admit to being unfamiliar with) work a fight scene in the first issue, I’m stoked.

In SUPERBOY #11, Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo bring the saga of "The Hollow Men" to its explosive conclusion! Superboy, Lori, Simon and Psionic Lad must fight for the very soul of Smallville hundreds of miles beneath the town's surface!

The best thing I’ve found since jumping back onto the DC bandwagon isn’t even a Flashpoint tie-in!

When I found out Jeff Lemire was writing Superboy, I was so excited that I... well, I don’t think I did anything much. I probably tweeted about it. But it was also probably 6 AM at the time.

Anyway, Essex County was one of the best things I read while I was 'out of the game' as it were, and seeing how he handled that sort of small town mentality in Essex gave me high hopes for his handling of Smallville and its residents.

Superboy’s adventures haven’t all been low-key, but the semi-episodic format he’s given it really works well for the character, and the race with Kid Flash was charming and a great reminder of how much fun a good, pure superhero comic book can be.

The last few issues have been more arc-oriented, bringing the Phantom Stranger’s cryptic appearances to a climax that will be concluding in this issue. I’m excited to read it, but I’m more excited to see how Lemire and Conner Kent fare during the coming Flash-pocalypse.

The first creator-owned book by ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, BRILLIANT tells the story of a handful of college-age geniuses who challenge each other to solve the mystery of superpowers. Can the best and brightest change science fiction into science fact? And if so, how will the world at large react? BRILLIANT is a thriller of the highest order. It is a story of how true power can either destroy or protect the strongest of friendships. It is the story of how the world will react when our true potential is finally unlocked. This fast-talking, whip-smart new series will thrill fans of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, POWERS and SCARLET. The first award-winning collection of Bendis and Bagley's ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN has sold well over one million copies.

I have to confess something right now, just to get it off my chest.

I like Brian Michael Bendis a lot.

I love what he’s done in Ultimate Spider-man and I really dig the dynamic he’s brought into the Avengers team books. He’s basically the Marvel Universe’s Geoff Johns though, and a lot of people in those kinds of broad editorial-ish positions get a bad rap when they step on the toes of people who, let’s say...take their continuity very seriously.

Brilliant, his new series with long-time pencilin’ buddy Mark Bagley, caught my eye in the solicitations, and looks like it might be something more along the lines of his work in Powers, i.e. normal humans meddling in the affairs of the super-powered.

It’s a fun concept that can be expanded in a lot of neat directions, so I’ll be watching where this one goes over the coming months. I’m unsure if it’s set in the Marvel Universe or not, but either way I’m intrigued.

This season, Dexter goes from happily married husband to guilt-ridden single dad. How will it affect his ability to maintain an average-guy façade while satisfying his need to kill?

From vaguely-cape-related to decidedly-not-cape-related-at-all, the Fifth Season of Showtime’s Dexter is coming out on Blu-ray this week.

After the weak third season with Jimmy Smits and the stellar fourth season with John Lithgow (including a huge cliffhanger ending), I was hesitant going into Season Five, but Julia Stiles proved herself a worthy guest star.

If you’ve held off on watching it because you didn’t think the show could regain the brilliance that was its Fourth Season, go for it. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Conan the Barbarian
Directed by Marcus Nispel; Written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, & Sean Hood
Starring Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Rose McGown, Stephen Lang, & Rachel Nichols
Rated R
Oh and in case you didn’t know, the new Conan the Barbarian flick is out this Friday. Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) is going to murder a whole bunch of people, so if you like that sort of thing (I do), you know what to do.

Brandon Billups wrote a few comic reviews for Comics Bulletin a while ago, but then he was bitten by a radioactive sloth and didn’t for a long time. He has recently overcome his super-hurdles and is diving headfirst back into the world of comics to bring you the very best, and with a little luck poke fun at the very worst along the way. He has a bunch of blogs all over the internet that he can’t remember the login info for anymore. He tweets as @linguish, mostly about things that make him sound insane, but occasionally about comics too.

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