Some Reflections on Timelines

So, despite the fact that the sun is blazing here in Los Angeles, it's technically fall which always puts me in a bit of introspective mood, giving me a chance to look at how the year has gone and see what's left ahead.

I'll spare you the laundry list of things I have been musing about (and yes, laundry is one of the items on the laundry list), and limit the selection to comics, more or less. Not all of these are specific to "just" 2010, but hey–the reflection is still as valid!

Return of the Flash

So, after many, many years, Barry Allen is The Flash again. Now, as someone who grew up with Barry as "my" guy, I was thrilled at the news and took it almost as a sign that my life in comics was fully committed–I came back to comics and, years later, so did Barry Allen. And now, after the whole The Flash: Rebirth thing, we have Flash back as an ongoing series, with two of the hottest creators in the business at the helm, Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul.  I go to bed each night with a big grin on my face, right?

Well, not really. I mean, I like the book–I really do, but it's interesting…it's  good, but it's not the book that I imagined it would be, which, of course, is impossible, right? It's not like Johns and Manapul were calling me each morning to see what I wanted from the book, and, even if they did, I certainly wouldn't know what to tell them–I just wanted a great Flash book that somehow was as exciting as the nebulous "old Flash stories" that I remember from my youth (and return to, whenever I can, with Tom Katers' excellent podcast). And yes, I think it's a bit unfair to expect the book to be hitting all on cylinders only five issues in, but, still…something's not right, and I think I figured out what it is: this arc is just too long.  I mean, we've been dealing with this time traveling Rogues-That-Are-Not-Rogues storyline for far too long, it's just dragging things down, which, you know, is ironic, for a Flash title.  I think Johns would have done us a favor by offering a series of one and dones for the first 5-6 issues of the series, so we could get more acquainted with what Flash's life is like. I mean, the storyline so far has really only taken us through a day, maybe a day and a half, right?  Too much. I would have loved to have Barry taking Iris out on the town (it's been awhile, right?) only to have their evening spoiled by some disaster, or to get an appearance by Green Lantern to revisit an old storyline…I don't know…like I said, they never called me, but this storyline is officially boring me now. Maybe I am just being impatient, sure, but having such a long series where so little is actually happening, with very little-to-almost no character development, is just a frustrating way to kick off a title.

Brightest Day

You remember One More Day? That whole thing that many of us hated but, in the end, most of us agreed that it needed to happen?  Part of me wants it to happen for Brightest Day–the event, not the single title.  No, it's not a HUGE part of me, but, like, I just…what's happening now?  I actually like the regular Brightest Day series, I think it's well done, but if you asked me to tell you what is going in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, I would change the subject to talking about that cool tattoo that Kyle's girlfriend has and maybe talk a bit about the tri-tip I barbecued last night, because I really have no idea, and, after the massive slogs that we've been through in Green Lantern for the past few years, I think it's high time that things just calmed the hell down a bit.  I want to see Hal being a space cop again.  

The Brightest Day tie-ins reminded me of the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings boxed set that I have–cool to have and probably very interesting, but just too long to actually get through…yet I am still reading them, if only for Doug Mahnke's art.  Problem is, the story's started, and it's gotta end, but…when will it end?  Who is going to tap Geoff on the shoulder and go, "So, like, when is this actually over? There…there is an end, right?"

I love the big books with tons of characters working with each other and everything. It's fun.  However, I think it takes away from the impact that the single character has on his or her own. That's one of the great things about Flash–Barry's on his own and kicking butt the way he likes to. (Remember that great spread when he ran on top of the helicopter blades?? That's the Flash in my head.)  Hal has been hanging out with the Corps for so long…we are not able to see why he's such a great hero. I would assume that DC is going to have to either clean up Brightest Day fairly soon or introduce a new, solo, Green Lantern book, for the movie, so people can get a chance to hang out with Hal on his own, but, like I said, no one's called me about it. Maybe I can "do lunch" with someone at DC when they move to Burbank.

Bruce Wayne's Return

We have talked about this before, but, again, wow is this taking a long time.  Let's just…let's get on with this shall we? I like the elements of his return (especially last week's Pick of the Week, Superman/Batman #76 which finally told the story I had complained about not seeing two years ago in San Diego), but I feel like the tension of making the transition is just strained now.

Whereas my previous points complained about the timing of the actual storytelling, I think here I am feeling the impact of knowing that a story point is coming because of the industry, as opposed to the storyteller. If I had zero idea that Bruce Wayne was coming back in the fall of 2010, I would hope that I would be feeling that itch of suspense and hope, as opposed to the icy burn of anticipation.  Two sides of the same coin, of course, but dramatically, one is more satisfying. I guess the ideal reader knows nothing about what's coming…I wonder if that ideal reader exists? As a writer, of course, you have to write for yourself and your ideal reader, that person who knows nothing but the story you weave.  

Regardless, we all know it is coming and while it may be good for book sales, drawing it out can lose readers if not done with a certain amount of respect for the single issue buying public.

The Avengers

Everyone's talked about the myriad of Avengers books and while I have made peace with the fact that it will do me no good to collect all of the books, I find myself enjoying what stories I am reading, but, interestingly, I think of them more in terms of the "Immomen story" and the "Romita story" than the actual book titles. With the Immomen story, I think I am pretty tired of all the magic stuff. Like, I want to like it, but it's all so nebulous and all over the place, with fight scenes that give me flashblacks to the Sinestro Corps Wars where I am just trying to survive the book rather than read it.  I am enjoying Stark vs. Stark in "RomitAvengers", and secretly wish that Spider-Man and Spider-Woman would just hook up.  And the other Avengers, "Black Turtleneck Cap'n Steve" one, is fun, but…goblins…giants…fights in taverns…rainbow bridge? Yeah, I like it but…Alan who?  Artist?  No matter–I like it when I read it…Prime Directive?

When I reflect on these…reflections, I find it interesting that I am worried as much about timing as I am about characters.  I love Barry Allen as The Flash, though, to be honest, the person in the Flash suit might as well be Wally–maybe it's just how Manapul is drawing him, but this Flash is distinctly younger to me; Barry always seemed older, but maybe that's just because I read his stories as a kid. I just don't think that we are getting much of a sense of who Barry is because of these initial issues, and I hope that Johns will give us a little more character moments once this arc is over.  

With the larger arcs, there are going to be issues that just blend into each other as time goes on, because they are all secondary towards the larger goal of telling that massive story. This can obviously be great, but given the economy, I wonder if people look at yet another Brightest Day tie-in and wonder, "Do I really need this? I have so many of these already, and just wait for the inevitable (or not?) trade." The books I discussed are all involved in these larger storylines, which are coming right after…other long storylines. I  would prefer it if I could just get a few months of single issue stories, just to reset things a bit, so when we do start these longer arcs, the stories feel a bit more special, a bit more momentous. 

So, these are a few things that have been on my mind as I watch the days grow shorter and shorter. Any trends that you've noticed over this summer?


Mike Romo is an actor in LA and can be seen shopping for kittens on a TV near you. He is beginning to accept that he might not be able to go to NYCC this year and is really depressed about it. Email/Twitter.


  1. "You remember One More Day? That whole thing that many of us hated but, in the end, most of us agreed that it needed to happen?"

    Uh, what? That doesn’t describe the general attitude toward One More Day in the least. I suspect you’re projecting.

  2. I have to say, I agree completely about wanting a few months of short 1 to 3 issue stories.

    I love crossovers, It’s why I’ve always been big on the thought of the teams, (And honestly loved the 50 states line) and I’m a big fan of the B list heroes, the ones who DON’T get their own series, but the reason I got out of comics for a while was how much it cost just to keep up with a story line.  

  3. Remember when the new avengers were stuck in the savage land for about 6 months our time but only about 6 hours their time? jesus, i liked secret invasion ok but it reads 100 times better in trade

  4. @Bornin1142: Yes it does. Atound here for sure.

  5. I agreed with everything in this article except the part where he said the Brightest Day stuff is better then Green Lantern and GLC.

  6. @Bornin1142/Conor: No I think there is still a good negative (at least so-so) attitude on ASM since BND STILL. I know I’m one of those type of guys.

    I’m the same with you on Flash Mike. I want to like it, and the art is really fantastic, but I just can’t buy this in issues anymore. The story is so slow and when the cool moments do kick in, I just don’t find myself caring. 

  7. @TNC: That’s why neither Mike nor I didn’t say "everybody."

  8. @conor: Oh okay, sorry didn’t notice that.

    Although replace everybody with ‘minority’ and we’re about 100% correct. 

  9. Mike, great article. I feel about 95% the way you do; though i didn’t grown up with the Flash at all. As beautiful as this book is right now, it seems to be looking for payoffs with no build up (looking at issues 5 revelation, it took me some time to get), which may have been made better by the on and done style stories you discuss.

    I think i am done with green lantern corp, and green lantern is beautiful, but wish the brightest day story was regualted to just the max-series.

    TROBW is trying my patience for the time its taking to get the story over that we already kniw is coming. couple with batman and robin, its also making dislike Morrison right now. I think i am done with Batman for awhile after these arcs/series are done.

    i thought the avengers was going to be awesome, and each book unique, but the only one that feels that way is Secret, and its alright. the avengers are the new shield, but it doesn’t seem that way. I said good bye to romitavengers and immonenavengers with issue 4 of each.

  10. Remember “Gotham adventures” ? Character, plot, humour , action and pay off all in one issue. Accessible for kids, but engaging for fan boys. Let’s get back to that for a while. It’s what got us hooked when we were young kids- you can tell a good story in 30 pages, and you are forced tonloose the endless confusing padding. Cone on dc- be brave; your next cross over should be a non crossover of one and done books.

  11. I agree 100% with Mike on the Green Lantern books. I just want to see Hal being a space cop again too.

  12. Emerald Warriors is where it’s at. 

  13. @Paul: Right now, for sure. It’s the best GL book.

    I dropped CORPS.

  14. Interesting opinion on the Flash book. Personally, I had no idea what to expect and to me this has just been a thrill irde. It’s like Barry’s life just blurs by. You know? Like "hit the ground running".

    I’m liking it. It’s just a crazy adventure. Like so many things happening in so short a time. It’s cool.

  15. I was watching tv while reading your article when a Target commercial came on with a man buying kittens. I had this vague sense that I almost met the guy, and then literally 30 seconds later the end of your article turned the switch on in my head. And in classic Bill and Ted fashion, I just went "DUUUDE!"

    Oh, and great article, by the way. Less giant story arcs/events and more one-and-dones. Despite the fun and payoff of big stories, I find myself more and more looking back at good single issue stories with the most fondness. 

  16. It felt like Flash: Rebirth set up a lot of interesting stories that never paid off, and I am still waiting for them to. Not to take away from the current arc, but it does feel a few pages too long already.

    As for Green Lantern, it’s like Mike ripped a page out of my diary.

  17. Yes! I am totally dropping the Flash because of the reasons you said.   
  18. Although there was some critical discussion of the titles in this article mot of it was just personal oppinion.
    If that balance could shift so that it was mostly critical discussion and a bit of peronal oppinion that would be really apprciated.

    Personally I’m not keen on Flash, Green Lantern or Avengers but I just stopped reading them.
    As far as Morrison’s Batman saga is concerned I’m loving it. I think this final arc is tieing up mot of the elements from the rest of the run in a fairly natural way and has honstly got me intrigued about whats going to happen next. The art also seems to be doing some interesting experimental things, for example the angles in #14  which seem to create a sense of disorientation which ties into the chemical attack on Gotham. It also has some fun homages to the Nolan films. But hey, thats just my opinion.

  19. @incredibledave: It’s an opinion piece.

  20. You mean "reflection" doesn’t mean the same as "fact?"

    I’m losing my shit.

  21. I’ve been enjoying the Flash but I don’t have an emotional investment in the character or when the issues come out. I just enjoy them when they do. Thankfully it hasn’t gotten ridiculously late yet.

    Green Lantern I enjoy but right now it is just a tour of the new corps. Its not a Hal Jordan book as much as it is a status quo setting book. Green Lantern Corps has been building the team and the author is adjusting to writing a top tier book, I look forward to seeing where it goes.

    On the Batman front I’ve only been reading Red Robin and it has been great. Actually I think I can say that I like Batman dead. (I know its not a popular view.)

    Avengers has been pretty bland. Still on Secret Avengers and Avengers Academy But the Bendis books were just not very good to me.