Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

* There is really no way to discuss this without SPOILERS. *

After watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I was wowed. I left the theater wanting to discuss the movies and constantly thinking about scenes and story elements. Batman Begins introduced Batman in a way  that showed you exactly who Batman/Bruce Wayne was and what drove him. That opening scene in TDK introduced the Joker in exactly the right way to show who he was, what he was about, and how cold, calculating, and insane he was. The rest of the movie simply built on that.

TDKR is a different animal. The opening scene presents Bane, but doesn't really show you what he is all about. In contrast, although it is very poorly edited, the intro of Catwoman was excellent at showing you the character and what she was all about, reminiscent of the Joker scene from the previous movie. You know all you need to from her scenes, and understand her, without a lot of dialog getting in the way. Her actions and reactions show you.

The entire first hour of TDKR is mostly people talking about what has happened, what's going on, and what will happen, rather than showing the audience. It has some editing and a lot of sound issues, which I found unusual for a Nolan production. After watching it, as my wife and I discussed it afterward, I immediately came up with a way to show the same things and take about 20-25 minutes instead of an hour to do so. I'm sure most viewers can do so.

Once you get beyond that first hour or so, the movie starts picking up. The second act starts bringing together all of the disparate aspects of the story, as John Blake becomes a detective and works with Gordon, you see Catwoman working with both Batman and the bad guys trying to get information, and you watch as Bane's plans start to bear fruit. This section, combined with the long opening first act, really emphasizes that more story is being told than is needed:
  • The entire Daggett subplot is not needed. He was only used to bring Bane to Gotham and then is killed off by Bane when he tries to exert pressure on the villain. Bane is smart enough and brazen enough that a better opening could have been written to bring him to Gotham without Daggett. This would have saved 10 or 15 minutes of film time.
  • With the slow opening, Bruce deciding to suit up and go after Bane seems a bit too sudden. He doesn't listen to the advice of Alfred, who has never steered him wrong, and leads to a break with his manservant (which is out of character for Alfred). When Bane defeats him, it is anticlimactic because you know it is too soon in the story. Again, rewriting and redoing the opening Act would allow you to get to this sooner, and with more tension, and would allow you to break the Bat in a more organic way for his re-dedication to being Batman. The flow would be better in the film.
The second half of the second act and all of the third act are where the action and the tension reside. It is well done, taut, and action-packed. Batman actually goes after Bane with some smarts and detective work, rather than blindly rushing ahead. During this section, you finally learn that Miranda is really Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ras (from the first film), and is controlling Bane. And this isn't needed at all. Bane is a strong enough, interesting enough, and intelligent enough character that he could have planned and executed the entire plot without this needed "reveal" and extra villain. Even though Marion Cotillard does an excellent job with her role, she could have been written out (saving a good 30 minutes of film time) and the film would be better, tighter, and more exciting.

With so many people knowing who Batman was, it was inevitable that they had to "kill off" Batman. It is not the end of Bruce Wayne, or Batman, as revealed in the final scenes before the credits. How they do it feels alright and fairly organic to the story.

The breakout star for the movie is Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. She hits all the right notes, is excellent and believable in the role, and shows many facets and aspects to the character. She does such a good job that she makes Cotillard's Miranda unneeded as a love interest (and eventual twist reveal villain).

Things any viewer should be aware of going into the movie are:
  • The bad edits throughout, but in particular in the first act of the film. During Selena Kyle's intro, there are some really bad edits between her scenes and other scenes. There is a scene with Bane at the stock exchange where they enter in daylight, start a program that needs to run for 8 minutes, and when they leave it is night time. Oops.
  • There are bad sound issues. Most of the voice soundtrack is so low in comparison to the music and effects track that it is hard to hear people. Bane's mask also obfuscates Tom Hardy's role (both his ability to act and his voice) which, when combined with the sound issues, makes him very hard to understand.
  • You just have to get through the first hour. You may find yourself looking at your watch during this time, but you need to pay attention so you understand all of the characters and the stories so that, when they start drawing together, you aren't lost.
  • Similar to the "it is not what you say, but what you do that matters" in the first film, this movie sort of beats the audience over the head with the "anyone could be Batman" theme. Take a few of those out and let the audience come to it more organically.
Overall, I was entertained. The story is a good one, there is just more in it than is needed. The 2:44 run-time simply isn't needed; Nolan should have cut Miranda and Daggett from the movie, revised Bane to be the one and only villain, and put more Catwoman in it. This would have achieved a closer to 2 hour film that would be tighter. Blake was a good addition to become the moral center of the film, since Gordon cannot be that in this film. Alfred should not have left, and Michael Caine hits a home run with his scenes.

All in all, this is a good ending to the trilogy. It is about as good as Begins, but nowhere near as good as TDK. The payoff at the end is worth the first hour. I'd give it a solid B (compared to an A- for Begins and a solid A (or even A+) for TDK).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State Fall-Out

The sanctions and penalties applied to Penn State just came out. I completely understand the $60 million penalty, specifically for use to fund anti-molestation and child protection services external to the college. I fully support the four-year Bowl ban; the people involved (and other college personnel at other colleges) need to know that covering up something this heinous is not proper behavior. I even understand the forfeiture of scholarships, as a lack of scholarships greatly impacts their ability to recruit and put out an excellent product, although all that really does is hurt the ability of some 20 student athletes that otherwise could have gone to college from going.

What I don't get is the vacating of all wins from 1998-2011. There were around a dozen coaches each year, each teaching the nearly 100 student athletes how to play football, how to be good athletes, and how to win games. How does one man molesting children (and, apparently, none of those he coached) and other men covering up for him in any way relate to the conduct and success of the students on the field? I agree that there is no more heinous action than child abuse in any form, but the players who worked out, practiced, and played in those game had nothing to do with it -- why would taking away their efforts be somehow an appropriate punishment for Sandusky (in jail, probably for life), Paterno (fired, shamed, and passed away), or the heads of the school (fired and likely won't be able to work in that environment ever again)?

When OJ Simpson was accused of, and found responsible for (in civil court), the deaths of Nicole Simpson Brown and Ron Goldman, there were some who wanted to take away his football accolades (Heisman Trophy, Hall of Fame, rushing titles, etc.). In the end, people rightly agreed that his accomplishments on the field were not negated by something he did years later and off the field.

When it is a possible one-to-one relationship, I can understand vacating wins and accolades. For example:

  • Peter Rose betting on his sport and his team, which may have affected the outcome of games, or
  • People taking steroids and getting phenomenal results that affected wins/losses by an individual or a team (Tour de France victories achieved while using PEDs, the many baseball players convicted of steroid use, Olympic athletes who used PEDs, etc.).
Unless someone has information I haven't found in the media about this case, in no way does Sandusky molesting children during his off hours affect the ability of the team to win games on the field. Is it that his coaching ability was so incredible that the team simply could not have won those games without it so, because Sandusky should have been fired and imprisoned long ago for these actions, the entire team could not have won any of those games without him? Even if that is true (he was, reputedly, a very good defensive coordinator), Sandusky retired in 1999, so the vast majority (all but two seasons) of those vacated wins was without him as a coach.

The other harsh penalties are all but killing the football program at PSU. Penn State's athletics will have trouble recovering from these sanctions. And rightly so. I simply do not see or understand the reasoning behind the penalty forcing the school to vacate wins. This makes no sense to me, and simply seems to punish the student athletes, the coaches, the boosters, the many people who were adjunct to the football program (cheerleaders, band, students who worked the concessions, etc.) and does not address the people responsible for, or negligent for, the child molestation. This penalty only harms innocents; sort of like Sandusky himself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lies

Both candidates are fabricating half-truths and lies that they think will help get them (re)elected. They are helped by the fact that, it seems, the majority of Americans will not verify the information for themselves, cannot think critically enough to understand the deceptions, and/or refuse to remember the past.

There should be a law that disallows any candidate from using fabricated, questionable, or misrepresented information in any advertisement or campaign speech. Basically, if it is not in the voting record, if it is not published, or if the inferences drawn from the information cannot be backed up with data, you cannot use it without a severe penalty. Any person or group who solicits an ad or a speech for a candidate, whether or not they have the candidate's endorsement, would also affect the candidate. In order to make this law have teeth, I would say the penalty for doing so is one warning. If it happens again, the penalty is immediate forfeiture of the race, or the office if they win the position.
For example, in a previous election a group allegedly not affiliated with Bush in any way produced a series of attack ads against Kerry. It was fairly quickly proven that those ads were almost entirely fabricated, but the damage was done. In this law, even though they were not affiliated with Bush in any way, the Bush group would get the warning. If another ad was produced "helping" Bush's campaign, the Bush campaign would forfeit the race.
My thinking here is that it causes both campaigns to actively seek out and stop any negative campaign ads by their own party or people associated with them in any way. Further, if a group knew they could potentially cause the candidate they are promoting to lose the race via their attack ads, they would be disinclined to run those ads. It's not a perfect system, but it is better than what we have now.

If the penalty was forfeiture of the race, you can bet that politicians would hire the best and the brightest campaign managers and people to run their campaigns. They would double- and triple-check all ads and statements they were making to ensure any comments about what they have done (if already in office) and what their opponents have or have not done are as accurate as possible.

My thinking with this plan is that it would be easiest to talk about yourself, your goals, and what you plan to do and push for when in office, rather than run a smear campaign against your opponent. And, of course, the side-benefit would be that then, once you had served a term, you could only use those things you actually accomplished while in office, or actually voted for, etc. in your re-election campaign, as to do otherwise would violate the rule (and make you forfeit the race). In other words, campaigns would be primarily positive and about the candidates themselves, rather than negative attack ads designed to destroy the opponent and make people vote for the remaining campaigner by default.

In order to be fair, a campaign ad review board would have to be set up to monitor the campaign speeches and advertisements. The group would have to be fair and impartial, so would likely need a conservative, a liberal, and a moderate member, at the least. It would be to these people that each advertisement and speech would be given. Working somewhat like the Supreme Court, they would review the information and the pertinent facts and determine, by majority, whether the ad or speech violated the rule. If they determined yes, the person's campaign would get one warning. If a second violation occurred, they would immediately forfeit the race (or office). I would make the law have strong teeth in that the warning and then forfeiture is total for all campaigns by that person. In other words, if you run today for President and get one warning, and then you run next election and you have another questionable ad, you are out... the four years between does not matter.

Is my solution harsh? Yes. But the attack ads and negative campaigning are getting so extreme that I think something harsh is the only way to solve the problem. Let's take back control of the government any way we can. Remember, people shouldn't fear the government, government should fear the people.

Next up, a plan to solve the PAC, super-PAC, and spending issues with campaigns.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

ENT Response

Update:

Just heard back from the office. I can have my CT/X-ray scan at one hospital on July 17th and my hearing test and other stuff on August 8th at another hospital. They couldn't coordinate everything for the same day without pushing it well into August. Even still, I'll have to put up with the vomiting for at least almost another month, until I see the doctor for the review on August 8. *sigh
_______________

Three weeks ago today I had my first appointment with my new Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) doctor for my morning vomiting issues. When I sat down, he read off the referral from my GP which pretty much said, "Patient is complaining of throat irritation."

With my medical history, all the years of chronic issues, and with all that I explained to my GP when asking for that referral, I'm more than a little shocked that he did not include more than that in the referral. Needless to say, that did not start out the appointment on a good footing.

First, I explained the sensations I have in the morning that lead to the gag reflex kicking in and causing me to vomit or dry heave (or have to fight it off, rarely successfully). I then told him about the four medications I am currently taking, which led to explaining the chronic conditions I have, which led to explaining the hiatal hernia I have, which led to the multiple endoscopies I've had, which led to the ulcer in my throat I had.

My doctor said, "Well, that's one I haven't heard before" when I described the initial problem and, by the end, was saying, "Jeepers" under his breath.

In the end, he decided to schedule me for X-rays of my nasal passages, some sort of scoping of my throat and nasal passages, a hearing test (I've had ringing in my ears for decades), and a consultation. The office was going to do its best to schedule time for all of these on the same day, at the Regional hospital, so that I could come in and get everything done at once.

Needless to say, he had a full page of notes scribbled out by the time we were done. He went back to the original referral, reread it out loud, and then gave me a sigh and an eye roll. He mentioned something about possibly calling my GP and suggesting that one line wasn't really enough.

In the three weeks since that appointment, I have continued to have the issues. This week, for example, I have not been able to overcome the gag reflex and have painfully thrown up every day starting Sunday through this morning. Pretty much every time now I am seeing either blood or dark globs in my sputum when I throw up. I am certain this is not a good sign.

Since I haven't heard back from the doctor's office yet, I called and left a message (their answering machine kicked in when I called) for them asking where my appointment coordination stands. I guess telling them I'm throwing up every day wasn't enough to light a fire under them to get this moving. I will be explicit when they call back (or if I get ahold of him first).

I already have: problems with gum recession, my tooth enamel, my throat, and headaches. Each of those issues is getting worse with nearly daily throwing up, as the acids are hurting my throat worse, eating away at the enamel on my teeth, causing worsening gum recession, and the painful way this is whole-body heaving doesn't help my headaches.

Hopefully I will hear back from the ENT soon on the testing appointment. Sometimes I really miss my GP, Gastro, and Arthritis doctors from Southern California, as they knew me well, and would have gotten me in to see an ENT or for further testing within a week or two at the most from lodging my complaint. Here, they usually get you in for tests either after you've died or after whatever was causing issues is cleared up; either way, they can say they didn't find anything and move on. But at least it is "free" (and by "free" I mean paid for with a high income tax and double-digit sales taxes). *sigh

Monday, July 09, 2012

Contract Negotiations

I have been reading many articles from the NBA and NFL about athletes who are asking for new contracts before the current contracts are done and saying they will not honor contracts to the new city if they are dealt by their existing teams.

I think all professional sports needs to have a standard, CBA-approved system by which a contract may be disputed. Outside of that system, a player should have to honor their contracts. These contracts are legally-binding agreements between the team and the player for services to be rendered by the player to the team.

Here are the steps I would institute in any professional sport in order to minimize this issue and (try to, at least) maximize the value that a player gets for the contract:
  1. If a player decides to retire, hold out, or in any other way not play while under a current, valid contract, their contract terms are suspended until such time that they decide to play. At that point, the  original contract kicks back in and they either play for that team and that contract or they go through the CBA-approved dispute process (and are legally bound by the decision made during the process).
  2. The dispute process will involve three arbiters who are hired by the sport's management, the sport's player's association, and one outside, neutral party. A majority agreement either positively or negatively will approve or deny the contract issue(s) in cases of a dispute. Once a ruling is made, the dispute is final and both sides agree to honor it.
  3. Contracts will be for between one and four years, maximum. Rookie contracts will be for four years and veteran contracts (players who have been in the league a minimum of four seasons) can be as short as one.
    • The younger the player, the longer the contract to help maximize the team's value for that player. The older the player the shorter the contract, so the player can try to get the maximum value for their play the longer they play (although both sides, if mutually agreed, can sign longer-term contracts if desired).
  4. All contracts will have reasonable positive and negative incentives for both the team to play the player and for the player to play his best in order to maximize the value of the contract.
    • I realize this is a tricky one, but I think "reasonable" is the key here. No incentives should be based on a snap count (too easy for the team/coach to decide to sit the player so they do not hit that incentive).
    • Some incentives should be roughly equivalent to the "Franchise tag" in football; if you play equivalent to a top 5 player at your position, X incentive kicks in. If you play like a top 15 player at your position, Y incentive kicks in. If you are voted to the Pro Bowl (or equivalent, depending on sport), Z incentive kicks in. (Basically, you should get paid more if you play "above your contract," at least as an inherent increase to your following season's pay if not a bonus to that season.)
    • Alternately, if you play in the bottom 5, 10, or 15 of your position, you should maybe be penalized (i.e., the team gets to keep a percentage of the pay for your position, or your salary for the following season goes down a tier, or similar).
  5. Create a tiered veteran's minimum scale based on a block of years and/or a percentage increased based on quality of play.
    • For example, the year blocks could be 5, 10, 15, and over 15 years. Five years is $250,000 minimum (this would be based partly on the sport, partly on the CBA for that sport, and partly on what the market can bear; consider all the numbers I put here as examples only), 10 is $350,000, 15 is $450,000, and over 15 is $550,000 minimum. However, if you are in the top 50% for you position, it is +10%. If you are top 25%, it is +20%. If you are top 10%, it is +35%. Top 5% would earn an additional +50% on that value (not including other performance incentives).
  6. Some incentives could be based on aggregate goals for the position. For example, the sport could determine a baseline average for each position for things like offensive and defensive production and then base some bonuses and penalties on the player being a certain amount or percentage over or under those baseline statistics. Penalties can apply if the player is below those averages.
I'm sure others can come up with other, meaningful, and fair ways in which a team and a player can maximize profits and minimize disputes. It seems to me that highly incentivized contracts and a dispute resolution system that is binding are the first step.

Do you agree or disagree with my hypothesis and (generalized) plan to solve it? If not, how would you do it? Do you have any additions to these rules?

Friday, July 06, 2012

TiVo and Network Troubles

For a few months now, we have been struggling with an odd issue with our home network and Tivo setup. We have a total of five TiVos, but only four are installed and running on the network. Around the beginning of the year, we started noticing that the bedroom TiVo would drop all connections to the other TiVos (but usually not lose the connection to the TiVo emulator on my desktop PC). The other TiVos, meanwhile, could usually still see and get data from that TiVo. It would usually be alright for around 48 hours, then drop to this state, and then sometimes would drop to a state where it couldn't see out and the other networked devices couldn't see in.

What made this very odd is that we have an official TiVo wireless dongle. When plugging this in, the exact same thing would happen: for approximately 48 hours it would be fine, then it would drop the outside looking connections to the other devices but they could still see (and transfer from) this device, with sometimes it dropping completely and no connectivity is allowed.

Over the last month or so, we have been steadily testing every possibility that we could conceive. First, I contacted TiVo; the support rep confirmed what I was saying by logging into the machine and looking at its error logs -- the TiVo would connect for about 48 hours and then drop. All the testing he could do from his end indicated the TiVo was working properly internally. His suggestion was either send it in for testing and fixing or buy a new one. Since buying a new one was actually cheaper, we opted to do that.

We plugged in the new TiVo and, after a few days, it started doing the exact same thing as described above. The "bad" TiVo was moved to another room, plugged in, and has worked steadily ever since without issue. So, it must be the home network, right?

My wife is in IT and she brought home some testing equipment and we tested the wires between the fiber op modem and that TiVo -- everything tested fine (no shorts, nothing to indicate bad wires). We then thought maybe it was a bad switch at our network hub; using different ports and switching with "known good" ports resulted in the same issue after about 48 hours. We have used a total of three different switches, all with the same result. Wireless still had issues.

Finally, we had our entire internet go down. Turns out we had a bad fiber op modem, and the repair guy switched it out. I noted that when he was talking to his helper by phone (the guy who was pinging and testing from the company's side), one of the first things he asked me and something he reiterated later was 'how many devices do you have connected?' Since these devices can, standard, work with upwards of 255 devices, I found this odd and worth remembering. Maybe the company in question (Bell Aliant) manually sets a device limit in the modem?

Since the new modem was installed, things have been faster and more secure online. However, our network issue with that one TiVo has remained. We had a knowledgeable friend come over and fix the downstairs jack for us. Everything tested as working, but when we plugged everything in ... nothing. The light didn't come on in the switch at our network hub and the TiVo didn't even get a DNS or IP from the network. It was not connected.

Another friend had a good idea; bypass the jacks and wires in the network and run an ethernet cable directly from the TiVo in question to the switch downstairs and see if that works. Sure enough, this morning, I did just that. The light on the switch came on very steady and the TiVo grabbed a DNS and IP and is working. It can see all three other TiVos plus my PC without issue. This seems to indicate that it is an issue with the cables or jacks between the switch and the TiVo; the cables continue to test as fine and one jack has been replaced. We may have to replace the other jack to solve this problem (it is in an awkward spot and will not be easy to get at).

So, we wait. If, after about 48 hours, this is still working, then we know somewhat what the problem is and can try fixing it via the jack replacement. Hopefully that solves the problem.

But I'm still left with the question: why does the wireless connection have the exact same issue?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

DC New 52 Revisited

When DC Comics decided to do a hard reboot of their comic book universe, the buying public stood up and took notice. Many new and lapsed fans came back to take a look, and many current fans went to the web to complain. I gave my first impressions here.

I initially planned to provide another review after six months, and then again at a year, if I was still reading. It has been 8 months, so I am a bit behind.

Changes


My initial impression was that they did not go far enough, and that still stands. A few titles have been canceled due to poor sales, and new ones issued. The cancelled titles are: Hawk & Dove, Men of War, Mister Terrific, OMAC, Static Shock, and Blackhawks. These cancellations are not very surprising to me, as two of them are war comics (rarely good sellers), and the rest are second-tier and not well-known characters in the pantheon. The new titles to replace them are: Earth 2, World's Finest, Dial H, Batman Incorporated, Ravagers, and GI Combat.

My initial response to the new titles is: didn't you learn from the six you cancelled? GI Combat will sell poorly (another war comic), Ravagers will have to have excellent writing and art to do well enough to keep, Dial H is more of a mini-series title than an ongoing. Batman Incorporated takes a bad idea from the previous universe and brings it into this one; Batman funds a global bunch of Batmen to take on crime around the world. It didn't sell particularly well last time and it won't sell particularly well this time.

The two standouts are Earth 2 and World's Finest. These titles, and Earth 2 in particular, are much more along the lines of what DC Comics should have done with all of the new 52 from the start. These titles are a completely new, fresh, from-scratch retelling of the creation of the Justice Society and introduction of Huntress and Power Girl into the new DC universe. Earth 2 feels completely different yet totally the same. Where the characters come from and how they got their powers is totally new. How they are starting to interact is also fresh. World's Finest is strongly written and has decent art and is interesting in showing the dynamic of these two characters as a team.

I have cancelled Firestorm, Nightwing, and Action Comics due to poor writing, poor editing, and/or boring stories. Nightwing was "gigolo in skin-tight costume screws women and occasionally fights crime," and it just wasn't holding my attention. Action Comic has one of my favorite characters, Superman, but the stories were told poorly, there were many plot holes, the art was childish and inexpressive, and it, too, did not feel like it was going anywhere. Firestorm was just too busy, what with there being more Firestorm-powered characters than normal human beings in the comic.

Titles


These are the titles I was/am getting and a brief impression:
  • Action Comics: Bad writing, poor stories, and bad artwork made me cancel this. There are multiple moments where you can look at one panel on a page and the next panel has nothing to do with the previous and the story just skips ahead. Cancelled.
  • Animal Man: One of the standouts from the new 52. Tight writing with good direction, decent artwork, and a good feel for what it wants to be (a superhero horror book) and where it wants to go.
  • Batman: Good writing and art. As mentioned above, I would have preferred a complete reboot of this title, a cleaning of continuity and history, and a more modern approach to the background and character.
  • Captain Atom: One of my favorite characters. DC changed him quite a bit; this is the one case where they may have gone too far. The character is so powerful it isn't really a superhero book any more, and he rarely fights super villains and hasn't interacted with any other heroes. They need to depower him, get him interacting, and improve the artwork on this one. I bet this is firmly on the "cancellation" list for DC, as its sales are pretty low. On the Cusp.
  • Detective Comics: Pretty much "Batman, the Second Book." Good story and art keep me buying it, but I can't say for how much longer.
  • Earth 2: Excellent. Good story, good art, and what the new 52 should have been from the start. Worth getting, so far. I look forward to each new issue.
  • Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men: The problem with this title is DC took an accident that produced one, unique character and made it a virus that anyone could get. There are a dozen or so Firestorms running around in this title and the convoluted intrigue subplot was hard to follow and not very believable. Cancelled.
  • Justice League: A solid title. I like what they've done with the characters, I think the art is fine. Some of the stories jump around a lot, and I hated the "suddenly, years later" jump that DC did. They need to take a look at Morrison's run of the mid/late 90s to show how to write these characters and have them interact. Right now, GL is a big jerk, Superman is a blank slate, Flash is "law boy," and Batman is pissed on. Doesn't make a lot of sense, especially after being together as a team this long (after the jump).
  • Nightwing: As mentioned before, there just wasn't enough here to keep me reading. I like the character a lot, but was bored with his taking over the Haley Circus and his "Saiko" (Psycho) nemesis plotline and his interaction in Night of Owls and revelation he was supposed to be an Owl. Cancelled.
  • The Ray: (Miniseries) With as well-received as this title was, I'm surprised it didn't get picked up for one of the new ongoing titles when DC cancelled some other titles. Good art, good writing, and a good revamp of a character had me reading and enjoying it.
  • Superman: I keep getting this one, and hope it improves. Supes is a favorite of mine, but I still don't get the costume. I want to see more from one of the flagship characters. A new writer and artist is coming on board soon, so maybe things will improve. (I keep thinking that Superman and Justice League should be quarterly comics; that way, DC can solicit and choose to publish the best stories for both, rather than trying to come up with ongoing stories each and every month.) On the Cusp.
  • Static Shock: I like this character, and he just didn't take off. The writing was horrible, the artwork was horrible, and I stopped getting it after 2 issues (and looking at the third). DC agreed and cancelled it, too.  He should probably join Teen Titans as an ongoing character. Cancelled.
  • Teen Titans: Overall impressions are good, but the title jumps around a bit and is uneven. The cross-over with Legion was pretty poor, and the new Ravagers spin-off will likely go nowhere. We need a bit more back-story on some of the characters to start working its way into the title, like Wonder Girl. 
  • Wonder Woman: One of the better titles of the New 52. The artwork is hard to take and overly stylish, which I wish they would change, but the amount of change to the character and the current stories are both well done. A bit more clarity on some of the introduced characters, so that readers can start to identify them and who they are in the pantheon, would be nice (I think the smoker is Achilles, but I can't be sure).

Overall


I am likely to continue to cancel titles rather than to add more titles. DC Comics had the rare opportunity to do something really good, unique, and lasting by changing their entire lineup, reinvigorating it, and bring it into the new millennium. Instead, it mostly just reissued new #1s and kept the same stories and characters. For example, as mentioned in my first post on this, Batman was a prime opportunity to really use the movies and today's technology to bring the character forward and make him new while also cleaning up years of convoluted history and back-story for him and the many other characters in Gotham City. Instead, they pretty much kept all of the characters the same and slapped a new #1 on the front cover. The Bat-universe will now have: Batman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman: Detective Comics, Batwoman, Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batwing, Batman Incorporated, Batman and Robin, Catwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Teen Titans, and Birds of Prey. That's fully 25% of their 52 titles based on one character and his support crew. When you take the four Green Lantern family titles, the four Superman family titles, and the various comics that have some or all of these three characters or their family in them (like Justice League, Teen Titans, etc.) into account, about half of all of DC Comics new titles deal with just three characters and their family members. Way to diversify.

I will likely become a (mostly) lapsed comic book reader again in the near future. The overall changes are not enough, the titles in general are not strong enough, and I'm already seeing similar stories to what I read for almost 30 years. When you couple that with Marvel Comic's soft reboot of their line (coming shortly, as of this writing) and that company's event-driven sales tactic, I can better spend my money elsewhere.

What I may do is buy the comics digitally, after waiting a few months for the title prices to drop. But, more than likely, I will just slowly winnow the list down to a few titles, like Earth 2, Animal Man, and Wonder Woman, that are the best, and cancel all the rest.