Showing posts with label TLDR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TLDR. Show all posts

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Official Signal Watch TL; DR "Man of Steel" Discussion

I went to the midnight show of Man of Steel and returned home in the wee hours.  I left kind of a rambling initial reaction here.  I went to work, I came home.  I've seen the movie again (in 3D IMAX with Simon, Angela and Jamie), and I've had time to process the film much, much more.

And, since that first post, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach commentary on the movie.  As this will be one of my final posts going into hiatus, we might as well talk about this movie as the intersection between the two major topics of this blog: film and Superman.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Superman: The Happiest Fella?

Just up here in space, smiling at nobody

There have been a lot of posts (hi, Max!) and articles by longtime Superman fans regarding the to-date seemingly somber tone of the new Superman film, Man of Steel.

Folks are worried about a "grim'n'gritty" Superman versus the cheerful fellow who takes delight in his powers that you've seen since Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1.  That imagery has been a part of the "discovery" part of the story for Superman in one form or another in all sorts of representations, from Superboy comics, to the animated series, to Superman Returns and Superman: The Movie where we see a young Clark Kent running faster than a freight train and beating Brad and the gang back past the Kent homestead.  And, of course, the absolutely terrific "reveal" sequence when Superman saves Lois and then runs around Metropolis saving the day.

Probably the most joyful you're likely to see Superman is in Superman: The Movie after The Man of Steel first appears and then flies around Metropolis performing super good deeds.

In fact, I've gone on record as saying that the key to my understanding of Superman in many ways is the moment wherein he saves Lois, reminds her of the relative safety of air travel, and then turns around and lets loose with this huge grin before flying away:

"Man, I wish she'd fall out of a helicopter EVERY day!"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Calling it now: Everyone will now suddenly like Superman

Firstly, I am totally OK with this.

One does not spend ten years extolling the virtues of Superman and then get pouty when public opinion changes (thanks to the movie.  I'm not taking credit).  I'm not going to decide I don't like Superman because comics fans and the public alike shake off the past couple of decades of proudly proclaiming Batman's a hero and Superman's a zero.  And if people find something to like about Superman: GREAT!

Believe me, having a movie that sells people on Superman is going to make whatever I've been up to the past several years a lot easier to understand, and when it comes to family, friends and co-workers, I can use whatever help I can get.  Hopefully someone will do a follow up with a great Barks/ Rosa Ducks movie and I won't have to explain anything about myself ever again.

This all hinges on Man of Steel being a watchable film, and the trailers are pretty promising.  I have a strong feeling that even if the movie is not my cup of tea, the groundwork is already there to get people thinking about Superman a lot differently.

what are they looking at?  Where are they?

So, I just ran across an opinion piece at Comic Book Resources in which the writer points to various comics released over the past decade and, in my opinion, has found "his Superman".  No doubt a discriminating reader of comics, what with having a column and at least one podcast about comics, this writer finally found a way to "get" Superman.  He's got his in.

And, in many, ways, that's sort of what it takes.  If you can't find a point of accessibility, why would you like the character?

Not only is Superman one of the longest running characters in fiction, he's appeared in so many media over the years, the character has become this wall of iconography that's criss-crossed generations, nations, etc...  The very constancy of the character's omnipresence in culture, his association with comics, his occasional guest appearances, etc... all can lead to a belief that you gave the character a shot but you were too smart for what Superman was selling.  I know!  I've been there.  See yesterday's post on my era as an X-reader.  Couldn't get me to touch a Superman comic back then.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SuperMOOC Week 6 - wrapping it up with Gender Through Comics

Fortunately for me, my class extended it's timeline by a few days without adding any additional content, and so I was able to finish last night despite the fact that I'd basically missed a week thanks to work and other factors.

This is what I think about when I consider returning to grad school, by the way.  I travel for work.  Really, an online program would be ideal for me to get a masters at long last, as I can't match the attendance that comes with being a 23 year old with nothing else going on but growing facial hair and caring about what sort of beer I'm drinking.  I'm seriously considering the need for an MA, but, man, the idea of walking into a classroom again at age 38 or 39 sounds like a nightmare.

Yes, I agree that the education system and how we deal with college degrees in the US is broken, but the trend to want to turn colleges into trade schools also isn't really an option (they have something for that.  It's called Trade School).  MOOCs are seen as a possible way to share courses across universities, and it sounds good on paper.  But I was sitting through a presentation at my conference last week and one of the presenters pointed out that most parents paying for someone's degree really don't want to hear that their kid was in a class with 40,000 other students, only 10% of which completed the course.  It's really opening the door for private schools and any university to stroke parents on college tours to promise a generation of helicopter parents that their kids will get special attention by sitting in a class with just 50-100 kids.

But I digress.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Put some clothes on: The complications of female superhero costumes

One of our own posted a link to Twitter to a page showing redesigns of popular female characters in comics (in particular, DC Comics characters) in outfits that are not the white one-piece peek-a-book of Power Girl or the familiar star spangled corset and shorts of the Wonder Woman costume.

I'll take a poke at the Power Girl costume because the original is one of the most discussed costumes in comics and, short of Vampira, the one most likely to raise questions and hackles.

example of redesign

and original formula

In comparison to Power Girl's traditional costume, he redesign certainly seems less aimed at appealing to the male gaze and creating a look that still honors the original.  It appears functional and...  well, I think this design is actually pretty bad, but we can talk about that later.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TL; DR: The New 52 - This Reader's One Year Later

In September of last year, DC Comics relaunched their line of comics for the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths back in 1986.  In general, comics fans my age grew up considering Crisis to be a necessary step in the evolution of superhero comics and enable them to reach a wider and more adult audience.

The relaunch of 1986 gave DC Comics a chance to give their intellectual property a fresh start where they felt necessary (ie: Superman and Wonder Woman), and continue telling the stories about their characters that didn't seem to need a rejiggering (Batman).

What nobody ever really talks about is that:  DC spent more than the next two decades trying to fix all the messes they'd created in their half-baked relaunch effort.  The gaps in planning and execution led to numerous attempts at editorial clean-up and we were treated to numerous in-narrative attempts to "fix" the problem, from Zero Hour to Infinite Crisis and, finally, to Flashpoint with dozens of other hiccups along the way.  In short, after 20-odd years of fixing the problems created by the reboot, DC had more or less reset their universe to very much reflect the DCU that existed prior to the "necessary" change.

My initial response last June on seeing the information that DC planned another relaunch - which I read on my phone in the back of a crowded ballroom at a conference I was supposed to be managing - was absolute surprise.

In 2007, I was reading over two dozen different DC Comics titles, and, of course, other titles, too... but DC was my bread and butter.  I firmly believed that Infinite Crisis - leading into 52 and One Year Later (DC's linewide narrative jump forward a year) were going to be well executed, well realized attempts to finally merge the old, Pre-Crisis DC with the current DC, and we had a chance to enter into a new golden age at DC.  For a long, long time I had believed that DC was working on a mega-narrative intended to pull together a DCU that kept the history of the company intact in its entirety, merging Pre and Post Crisis continuities and celebrating the 75 years of publication history.

I have no idea if DC ever rolled out the promised additional characters in the sidebars.  I do know Wonder Woman is no longer in leggings.

Nope.  They were sort-of scrapping the work and works of the past 7.5 decades in order to draw in an audience that had been daunted by DC's history and the internet chatter about how confusing DC had become (that was, at best, half true), and a lot of misconceptions about DC's stable of characters.

I don't know exactly how soon it hit me, but the realization slowly sunk in that, at age 36, I had just passed out of the 18-34 demographic in a final and unceremonious fashion.  DC Comics was happy to have had my money (a LOT of my money) the past few years - but they were going to do something else now.

Over the years I've had email chatter with a few older and former readers of comics, and I watch folks at the comic shop.  I was aware that there is some point many, many comics readers hit where they hang up their guns and declare themselves done with the characters and worlds they loved - at least in trying to keep up in the Wednesday shopper fashion that the Big 2 cater to.  I'd see these older guys on comment threads, sighing and saying "it's been ten years since I picked up a new comic, and this is why I don't miss it", and sometime about four or five years ago I went from writing them off as old, grumpy men to know that this was an inevitability of the hobby.  Something made all of these people move on.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

TL; DR: On Willing Suspension of Disbelief, John Carter of Mars, Superheroes and Sci-Fi

I was reading a post at The Onion AV Club offering a reconsideration of this spring's commercial disaster, John Carter, and a single statement stuck out at me.
On the run, Kitsch ends up encountering a Thern in a cave and is teleported to Mars. (I’m sorry, I mean Barsoom).
And with that, I had to re-evaluate everything else in the article.

Rightfully, elsewhere in the article the reviewer points to the pulp roots of the movie, that it was a film that perhaps reflected a different era not just of writing sci-fi (or, as it was called, "Planetary Romance" before "scientifiction" had been coined, which, of course, became "science fiction") but of film making.  Sure, I'm onboard with "not the right place on teh spacetime continuum for this movie, and not the right marketing"

But what struck me was the curiously quasi-anglo-centric/ xenophobic/ concrete thinking that belies so much of why sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, etc... have such a hard time with an adult audience.  In short, I'm guessing this same author wouldn't have phrased it as "Kitsch end up encountering a Man in a cave and is teleported to Japan. (I'm sorry, I mean Nippon)." 

Friday, June 8, 2012

TL; DR: Comics, Superheroes, Watchmen, and Authorship

Fine.  Let's talk about this.

This is going to be, I believe, my final word on the topic.  The topic of Before Watchmen.

I've raised my hand a few times over the last two or three years and tried to make various points about how I have felt that the current crop of 20-somethings approach comics fandom differently than how I came up as a reader and fan.  Most certainly, there's the internet and social media aspect that has become (I'd argue) more important than the comics themselves in many quarters.  And, of course, the level of fandom that seems to stem ultimately a whole lot more from being able to dress up as a character and wander around a Con for many of these "fans".  If I can be blunt, I can't shake the suspicion that they're not the same kind of fan that's sought out every appearance of a character.  And, given sales, I have to wonder if they're paying for comics at all.

There's also plenty of folks on Etsy making their own products featuring non-DC approved licensed characters, people making webcomics, etc...  In short, fan fiction is as much a part of the culture to the current target demo as the "legitimate" product.

In a way, that sort of sense of entitlement/ fan ownership could be seen as a mutant offshoot of the Big 2's insistence that the characters supersede the creators in importance.  If we aren't immediately associating Bill Finger with Batman, but some nebulous corporate entity that also owns TV, the news, the internet lines, AOL, Jerry Seinfeld, Bugs Bunny, and Six Flags...  it may be that Time Warner is simply big too see the contours.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TL; DR: On DC, Superman, Didio and Reboots

  • Infinite Crisis
  • One Year Later
  • Bart Allen as The Flash
  • Superman's Silver Age reboot
  • Wally West as The Flash
  • Final Crisis
  • Barry Allen as The Flash
  • Wonder Woman's soft reboot with pants
  • Flashpoint
  • New 52
  • Five Years Later

I would love to have heard the conversations that occurred between Dan Didio and Paul Levitz in the years before Levitz was shown the door and Didio and Lee became co-publishers.

At some point, I have to think Levitz was beginning to detect a pattern in Didio's planning and plotting.

What I'm getting at is that beginning in 2005, Dan Didio has more or less been playing the same card, over and over and over.  The one trick he has had up his sleeve has been the reboot (and I've guessed he was going to "reboot" Watchmen as well with prequels for a couple of years before they actually went ahead and did it).

Under Didio's supervision, DC was never particularly tied to continuity.  That was when we saw the rise of editors like Eddie Berganza who weren't even trying to maintain continuity in the Superman line of books, and were, instead, focusing on 6 issue arcs with new creative teams brought on every few issues, many of whom seemed baffled by their assignment in Newsarama interviews.  The interviews always read basically the same:  I'm a semi-hot writer, DC is offering me money, I don't know anything about Superman, but I am told he's the first and greatest.  And:  For Tomorrow.

At one point around 2005, it seemed the Superman books suffered from a near constant state of soft reboot as each creative team came and left.  All of that left the Superman books a mess, with the number of Superman titles tumbling from 4 to 2 on the stands.  And so it was that Infinite Crisis felt very welcome as it came along beginning in 2005 and ending in 2006.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TL; DR: On Giving Up Superhero Comics

Over the past few months I've started and stopped writing the same post a dozen times, but as March arrives and marks the 7th month of DC's New 52 effort, I had always planned to talk a bit about where I landed vis-a-vis DC Comics after half a year, so I've just held on to the mega-post on the topic.

And then, today, I read this blogpost from Bags and Boards.  He's been a writer on superhero comics and other comics for years, including working for Variety.  But in the post, he states that he's given up on the habits of superhero comics reading, and tied to that, the weekly trip to the comic shop.

I don't know that I'm giving up superheroes altogether, but the tone of the article and the white flag raising certainly resonates.  Frankly, if you're reading the site regularly, or you don't find all of my comics posts "too long; didn't read", none of this should come as a huge shock.  But I'm also starting to drift away from habits so ingrained that I am sure that for many of you who know me primarily through this blog or social media, you'd begin to think something was wrong.  And in some ways, I have to do some self-evaluation to wonder:  superhero comics, is it you or is it me?  And like all great romances that fail, we're likely both to blame.