I just got done reading ‘The Other History of the DC Universe’ by John Ridley and it was fantastic.
I have not seen any of his movies nor read anything else he’s written, to my knowledge, but I will definitely seek out more of his work based on this. The slow burn style of storytelling was so well done, the larger book format gave it a different tactile feel than reading a comic book and the way it portrayed Black Lightning, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern John Stewart, Vixen and others was both familiar and unique.
It reminded me of the theme from Green Lantern #76 in the 70s and, sadly, it’s just as relevant today over 40 years later. The idea that the Justice League will protect earth from intergalactic threats but not domestic or international ones, that the superheroes turn a blind eye to the plight and suffering of the common man or even the fantastic and unique suffering of terrorist threats and violence - that’s powerful storytelling and makes you pause to reconsider the heroes we celebrate each week and month as we read their adventures.
This was book #1 of 5 and I cannot wait to read the remaining four. What a wonderful, brave and bold choice by Jim Lee to commission this project and to publish it. The print date is listed as January 1, 2021 and I think that’s significant as it sets 2021 to be a year of brave, bold choices by DC Comics and I hope each step they take from here is just as successful and rewarding as this one was.
Have you read this yet? If so, what did you think?
Sounds interesting. I will have to wait until it shows up here. I see he wrote U-Turn and Stray Dogs.
He also wrote the screenplay and I believe won an Oscar for Twelve Years a Slave, and in terms of comics he wrote The American Way back in the day, in more recent years, he contributed to the Joker War: War Zones one-shot, and he’s going to be writing The Next Batman for Future State.
I loved this book so much, I made it the first review on my YouTube Channel. You can check it out here: https://youtu.be/IO6KS8MMieI
There are so many sentiments I’ve felt as a reader, that Ridley was able to communicate through Black Lightning’s voice.
This comic made me feel seen. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
The Other History of the DC Universe Review: WELL DONE!
I can’t believe how much I loved The Other History of the DC Universe #1
This book is amazing. So amazing in fact, that I took out time on Thanksgiving Day to record a video review and upload it ASAP.
In my short time in a the hobby, I’ve seen a lot of chatter online about comics being “too political”, “tokenized”, “virtue signaling” and the like. And I apologize in advance if this post sparks some fierce debate, because I don’t intend to engage at all.
Because I wasn’t in the hobby before, I can’t comment on whether recent trends are detrimental to all things once revered in the craft. People come to comics for all sorts of reasons, and I’m no one’s judge or thought police… But this new push for representation means that just maybe, someone like me will get to read a book like this.
If I had to sum this book up in a word, it’s necessary. Necessary. I needed this, far more than I ever thought I did. Thank you to everyone at DC who made this book possible.
My Video Review
Just got done reading this book. Almost didn’t pick it up on Wednesday for some reason but boy am I glad I did. It was so well done, I was fully engaged. I reached the end and didn’t even realize that 30 minutes of time had passed. Its one of those. If anyone didn’t pick this book up, do yourself a favor and go out and get it. IMO, its the best comic of 2020.
Welcome to comics @bjkicks! Everyone finds their way here for their own reasons and finds the stories that relate to them the most. I find your outlook refreshing and very optimistic, wich is sorely needed at this time. @FelixLeiter posted a similar thread. You should check it out. I planned on reading this book anyway, but I’ll get as soon as I can now. Thanks for your take.
I haven’t picked it up yet, but after hearing such high praise for it now I’m definitely going to be doing so soon.
Hey @bjkicks - thanks for the review and taking part in this discussion. Before I get into the talk about this incredible book let me say two things:
- Your cat is adorable
- Open those blinds and let it see out into the world!
As for ‘The Other History of the DC Universe’ it seems that you and I had very similar reactions to reading this but you being a black man and me being a white man it probably landed harder for you. I loved every page of this and you and I both commented on how this was a book with artwork to complement it rather than a comic book. The style of writing that John Ridley brought to this project was so engaging - you wanted to read more and were getting hooked without even knowing why. There was never any real peril for Jefferson Pierce, there was no other-worldly villain for him to fight and yet I was turning the page with anticipation to see what would happen next until I ran out of pages and had to just mentally exhale and appreciate what a phenomenal book I had just read.
I think you and I could have a good discussion about race in comics some other time and in some other place, whether it be in another thread here in the community or elsewhere, but for now I wanted to echo your love of this book, say how glad I am to hear that you loved it as a black man and that it spoke to you and engaged you in a way you didn’t even realize you needed.
You mentioned JR Tolkien and fantasy works and how hard that is for you, as a black man, to relate to and escape to and I’m curious about that. I get the trouble with comics because they have drawings of each character to show you exactly what they look like, what species they are, what race they are and what gender they are. If you don’t see a black character I get why it would be difficult to relate to the characters you see on the page. But in the written word you paint your own picture of the world the book describes. You’re essentially your own artist and I’m curious why you wouldn’t imagine a world that was relatable to you - as much as it could be in a fantasy story like that. I’ve never thought about it, really, but that came to mind when you mentioned that in your video so I thought I’d ask. Not an accusation of any kind just a genuine curiosity.
I think you and I have a lot of similarities in that we’re both middle aged guys (not kids but not old), both seem to be doing well enough in life (not rich but not poor) and both got back into comics as adults after taking a long time off for whatever reason. Neither of us seem to have the emotional connection to characters that many who have been reading the books for literally decades do and thus neither of us seem that bothered with re-imagining characters as different races, genders, etc. I love Hawkman and cannot wait to see what Aldis Hodge does with the character in ‘Black Adam’ - the fact that he’s a black man doesn’t bother me one bit and I was surprised to see so many people react negatively to the announcement. He can be from another planet but he can’t be black? Come on. But again, I got into comics about four years ago and am coming at this from a different perspective than someone who’s been following these characters for decades. Personally I’m looking forward to Future State and seeing what John Ridley does with Batman.
I thought the end of ‘The Other History of the DC Universe’ was brilliant to show how John Stewart and Jefferson Pierce approached being a black superhero differently yet with the same goal. I loved this book, I cannot wait for the next installment and am glad you are a part of this community to bring your perspective, voice and input to the discussion. Thanks for taking the time to chime in, for reading this and for making that video to promote a book you have no financial investment in but loved enough to recommend.
Take care, be good and give your cat an extra scratch behind the ears for me.
@FelixLeiter Lol I usually keep the blinds open for her, but I needed to keep them closed so the video wouldn’t be overexposed.
To your point about fantasy novels, I guess I never gave them a chance because of other people’s descriptions of them, not necessarily because I was reading them myself. But I’ve tried watching the LOTR films with my wife several times, and just couldn’t get into it.
I loved the moment between Jefferson and John Stewart as well. I just recently picked up Cosmic Odyssey, so I’m excited to read it now that we have more information about the emotional toll it took on him.
I agree that it sounds like we have a lot in common, and I’d be happy to have that discussion on the forum of your choice.
Hope you’re doing well, my friend!
It’s my favorite book of the year so far. The art is the perfect throwback, and the prose is very readable
I’d never even heard of this, but after reading this topic it’s now on my list.
I plan on getting the collection from my library, and recommending it as a purchase, if nobody has done so.
Cosmic Odyssey is great! It has a really crazy and way, way sci-fi fantasy story though so I’m not sure how much you’d like it?
But John Stewart’s baggage for most of the time I read him in the 90’s is so tied into it. Actually so tied into it that seemed to be the only backstory anybody referred to for ages, until I think recently with Scott Snyder’s Justice League run (which had a good way to finally resolve something about it and move on I thought). But that Justice League run is also CRAZY cosmic, so a word of warning!
I haven’t read The Other History of the DC Universe, but I had my LCS hold it for me so I’ll get it soon!
Nice job on your youTube channel! As someone that’s trying to get his own going, I like your simple format and how you break things down. More power to you!
Always interesting getting other perspectives on the stories I’ve read, much better than constant reboots in my opinion. Getting another viewpoint from my bias reading of the events unfolding is quite powerful. As we all bring our bias and beliefs to interpret what we read, it’s great to get another perspective, I can’t wait for the rest of the story to unfold.
I started reading this topic and then had to stop once I saw @bjkicks had made a video review for this book. I bought the book the day it came out but like many of my books it sat on a shelf waiting to be read. I am happy to say that I stopped reading this topic and read the book and then watched the excellent and insightful video review.
Comics are about to get interesting within the next year or so with the tease of Milestone returning. I am also hoping to see the older Milestone books on DCUi. With all of that said, this is a hard hitting title that does open the door for healthy conversations about diversity.
The Other History really is a giant among comics.
My continuing stance on non-comics writers doing big-company comics is one of great skepticism. From Brad Meltzer on Justice League to Jodi Picault on Wonder Woman to Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther, I have seen otherwise very successful writers fumble on the rhythm and vibe of serialized comics that are set in a broad, shared continuity.
Ridley’s Other History is the exception. He not only swims elegantly through continuity but brings the fresh perspective promised by the series’ premise, and he does it all with simple, clear, efficient, and evocative prose. The art team examines this prose in a beautiful manner, making sure to salute the artists of past stories that are referenced. I loved it.
Coincidentally, a friend of mine gave me some comics recently that came to her second-hand and I did not get around to looking at them until the day after I read The Other History. It turns out the pile included 8 of the first 10 issues of the 1977 Black Lightning series, which I had never read, so I am now getting the opportunity to dive back into the original source material.
I’m back to wondering what it would be like if Superman was officially Jewish in the comics and how that could be shown.
Now that would be an interesting story, that I would love to see.
Thanks for the high praise on the review! I’m also excited for the return of Milestone. I’ve been collecting the original 4 series (Icon, Hardware, Static & Blood Syndicate) for a few months now. I have all of Icon, half of Static and I’m missing 3 issues of Blood Syndicate. Hardware is the one that has escaped me so far.
McDuffie and co brought so much to the table with that imprint. It really was diversity done right, and I hope it continues to be that.