A Vacation at Last: What to Read?

This semester has been a busy one for me. Between college, work, and some semblance of a social life I've been kept with little time to pursue my solo hobbies like reading. But finally the semester is drawing towards a close. I look at my calendar and notice a blank plane of weeks-- devoid of both work and school. At last I can hole away with a blanket and a hot drink, listen to the rain outside my window, and gorge myself on comic books. 
Now the question comes though: What will I read? After months and months of my friend's pushing, I've forced myself to begin the Dresen Files series. With three books down and something like ten more ahead of me, I'm satisfied when it comes to novels. What I really want though is to just hunker down and consume a bunch of comics. I want to see gorgeous art and compelling stories delivered via speech-bubble. 
Over the past few months friends have periodically thrust some books on me (literally). Busy as I've been, these books proceeded to pile up. These include: 

Some of these are familiar series for me (NYX, Batman), but otherwise are fairly or totally alien (Copper, American Vampire). So I certainly have things all queued up and waiting, but that's not enough. 
I know the Comic Vine community is diverse and well traveled, so I reach out to all of you. I've got a little extra cash, a good chunk of free time, and a desire for more books: Give me some suggestions!*  I'd also appreciate comments on the things I have slated to read (see above).

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions. I know this was a little tl;dr.
*I prefer trades or collections of series. Series should be published no earlier than the late 90's. My Collection: Favorites list may help provide a sense of the sort of things I know I like. My Wish List and Things to Check Out lists may shed some light on other things I'm interested in.
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DC Closes Wildstorm and Zuda Imprints

Along side their announcement of portions of their staff moving to offices in Burbank, DC Entertainment also announced (via The Source) the closing of two of two of its imprints: Wildstorm and Zuda Comics
Wildstorm, which has been with DC since '99, will effectively end with the final upcoming issues of the ongoing series Wildcats and The Authority this December. The imprint's editorial staff is to be merged Burbank digital unit of DC. The Co-Publisher noted that this would be the end of the imprint but not necessarily the end of its characters. 
As for Zuda? They were the brand behind DC's web comic efforts. Their previously published work will be preserved as DC digital releases.  
Jim Lee and Dan Didio left us with this quote: 

 "We remain, as ever, dedicated to working with the greatest creators this industry has to offer, while inspiring generations of creators and readers to embrace this medium that we all love."

For one, I was pretty shocked on first reading this. I am glad to here that even if the imprint is ending from a business stand point, that the characters might live on (as if they'd throw that sort of material away.  Zuda comes as no real surprise, on the other hand.
What do you guys think?

The Problem with Starfire

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Browsing the great wide internet and the Vine in particular, I've discovered a lot of hate for Starfire. Personally, I like the character. Let me just get that out there before I get too deeply into all this. This is not a piece about defending the character, though. There are some problems with the character that her writers and editors need to address.  I think that most (some?) of the hatred aimed at the character can be fixed. This blog is about identifying and working through the problems to find sollutions that will result in a more solid and likable character.
  Starfire is an a both a fierce and fiery  Tamaranean warrior and a fun loving and uninhibited woman. I will freely admit that I find the whole, sort of naive,  "I do not understand your Earth ways" alien bit endearing-- on just about any character. People have been doing that shtick for years in all the various writing mediums.  I think what sets Starfire apart for people is her sexualized nature. She's sexy, draws power from the sun through her skin (thus is often scantily clad), and has a power that works via physical contact with others (which she chooses to activate often times with a kiss). Not only does she possess these titillating aspects, but she seems either only peripherally concerned with or mostly oblivious to them. She's basically a hot, naive, foreign girl.
This brings me to what I believe the are two real issues with the character. Even if you accept (or like) the character's traits, there's the issue of how long she's been around. Most immigrants-- be they human or alien-- eventually become naturalized. Whether you're talking real world time or fictional time, Starfire has been around for years and years. She should be adjusted to the customs of Earth. Obviously this clashes with her a bit of her core personality. Without her naivety and the afore mentioned  "I do not understand your Earth ways" bit, Starfire isn't quite the same character. The character has, unfortunately, been written into a situation where the simple passage of time will fundamentally change  what is one of her most defining traits.  

Starfire by the Pool
Starfire by the Pool
 That first problem leads to the second: Starfire hasn't really grown any definite personality traits since her inception. She needs to develop more substance-- or have what she does have more fleshed out. There needs to be more to her character to focus on. If something new isn't introduced, then her Tamaranean warrior aspects needs to come to greater prominence. I feel like they've left her with enough substance to stand up in a team book, but they need to expand her so she can stand on her own. 
I believe both of these issues could be fixed if a good team of creators took the character and developed her further. She could be a much stronger (in the sense of characterization rather than power) character if they expanded on her. This solution comes with its own problem however. Starfire needs to retain who she is as a character even as they change her. 
That naive quality may just have to straight up be removed from her. It isn't believable that after all this time she wouldn't be yet naturalized. Her naturalization could lead to its own plot points though: Forcing her to reconcile her cultural identities and the differences between them. This would give the character a little more maturity and somewhere to build off.
Ultimately, people who just hate the character will probably never change their opinions. Many people seem to feel that she's just some brainless bimbo, but I think some character development could go a long way towards changing this opinion and strengthening the character as a whole. I'm positive a balance can be found that allows Kori to keep the aspects that make her unique, while further developing the character-- even if that means some minor traits are left by the wayside.

DC's Cycle of Emotional Energy

I was sitting around, browsing the internet and watching TV (typical post-midnight activities for me) and I started thinking. I get all my most interesting lines of thought and best ideas at this time of night: This time I got thinking about Ion, the various lantern corps, and how that all works. Somewhere in the mess of all my thoughts I decided i could put together a chain of events, beings, and objects that would bring the power of the lantern corps from 'beginning' to 'end'. 
To make it simpler and more clear, so I could keep it straight and explain it to others if I wanted, I decided to make it into a diagram. It sounds convoluted writing about it like this, so here goes the diagram-- it took me much longer to finish than the actual theory.

The Cycle of Emotional Energy: 

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  1. Sentient beings across the universe experience emotions and so generate raw emotional energy.
  2. The emotional energy is manifested and gathered in an Emotional Embodiment.
  3. The emotion's corps's central power battery draws on the embodiment's power and collects it into a focalized reservoir.
  4. power battery acts as a conduit for the energy in the central power battery.
  5. power ring may be charged with the energy stored within a power battery in order to operate.
  6. Finally a sentient being equips the power ring and makes use of it, returning full circle.


Greg Land: One Expression?

 Before today I wasn't very familiar with Land's works, but in the last 24 hours I've heard and read some very interesting things. One of the things I thought was interesting was where someone on a thread here on CV said that he doesn't know how to do any expression other than grinning. I though it had to be a great exaggeration. I was wrong.  
Land may be able to do a few other expressions, but it seems like the majority of the works of his I can find has the character(s) grinning. To be fair, there are degrees of grin ranging from lips-parted-exposing-teeth to full on teeth-exposed-mouth-open-in-jubilation. Every time I look at his work now I just have to wonder what they are just so damn ecstatic about that they can't keep their mouths shut. 
Some examples of the occurrence:
(' Lips-parted-exposing-teeth') 

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Maybe they're not happy, but their teeth just refuse to be hidden any longer. I don't know. What I do know is that I can't just can't unsee this.    

Buyer's Choice: Civil War or War of Light?

After checking under my couch cushions and breaking open my piggy bank I've gotten to that exciting point where I have enough extra cash to go through and get a lump of comics. Rather than spreading myself out over a wide variety of the series I'm interested in I've decided to collect up a run or story arc and go all out on it (or as all out as my budget and interest allows). After running through a bunch of different arcs, doing research, and weighing my interest I've finally narrowed it down to two choices: The Marvel Civil War or the DC War of Light. 
I have two virtual shopping carts prepared and they're about evened out when it comes to price. But I'm have a hard time deciding which I'd be more satisfied with. For both, I feel excited but not without reservations. It comes to this: I'll post up my two choices and maybe all of you out there in the Comic Vine universe can give my a hand deciding which to choose. You can back up your vote with reasons or just cast a simple vote. Either will be helpful.
Civil War: 

War of Light: 
Side notes: 1.) I know these volumes are not the trades everyone would choose, but just try to recommend based on what's here-- even you'd pick something else. For Example: Civil War: Spiderman instead of Ms. Marvel: Civil War-- etc. 2.)I'll likely buy both of these sets eventually, but it will be a while for which ever I don't purchase this time.
Thanks to anyone who helps me decide how to spend my cash.

Forgetting Practicality, or Comic Books as Art

The last Birds of Prey review and G-Man's latest blog have stirred up on old sentiment of mine that I feel the need to express: Forget practicality when it comes to comic books.  Everything thing you see in a comic book (buildings, characters, clothing, objects) is there to communicate not just the story but a visual aesthetic. Trying to rationalize or reason why things look the way they do, or how they work looking as they do, is completely pointless. I've never seen someone venture down that line of thinking and come out happier.
And when it comes to physical appearances and clothing of characters, people often try to portray things as if there is some kind of sexist issue. From the 'controversy' of J Scott Campbell's art to objections over the length of Supergirl's skirt, there always seems to be someone try to play the gender discrimination card. The majority of male characters in comics look totally unrealistic too. That's also not a problem. It's just a style. People need to stop trying to paint it as some feminist social issue.
What it boils down to is that comic books are art. Being art and fantasy, they can show us the impossible: Whether it be magic spells, laser beam eyes, alien beings, or just impossibly beautiful people, that is one of the biggest things I love about comic books and I hope it never changes.