Thursday, February 1, 2018
So, it's weird that Forbes.com is where DC announced that Brian Michael Bendis is taking over both of the main Superman titles, right?
I mean - just that tidbit alone is probably worth a full blog post about comics vaulting their way into mainstream culture and something something what is happening at Forbes.com which is supposed to be a business and economics interest site?
It's also weird that Bendis is taking over *both* Superman and Action Comics, right? I mean... he's just getting to DC. You'd think he'd want to putter on a couple of diverse titles or something, get his feet wet... but, nope. Both bi-weekly Superman titles. (One expects we'll continue to get Supergirl, Super Sons, New Superman, and Superwoman... or something.)
And while I am more than game for Bendis on one or both titles, or some Super-title, I am also a bit crushed to be losing Dan Jurgens on Action Comics and Tomasi & Gleason on Superman. They've put so much love and effort and imagination into those comics the past 18 months or so, I genuinely wish they'd spin up Man of Steel and Adventures of Superman again and just keep giving us more Superman.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Seems this is a thing we're all doing, so here goes.
I very much remember placing this order (or these orders). Half of my friends were totally excited about this new Amazon thing, and half of them were convinced Amazon would just take my credit card and drain me of money. Both were right, as it turns out.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
That Took Longer and Way More Failed Attempts Than I Figured, But The Red Trunks Are Back in Action 1000
I always thought the teeth-gnashing over Superman's red trunks was a sign of some deep and unwarranted insecurities at DC Comics. But it looks like DC has decided, at very long last, to restore Superman to trunks-status with Action Comics #1000.
Yeah, yeah... I know Superman's red trunks were inspired by pre-WWII-era America acrobats, who were more or less covering up their junk. (Look, if you've been to the ballet... you can most absolutely see what grapes those guys are smuggling under their danskins.)
I'll always argue that the red of the trunks balanced the outfit, allowing it to remain sleek, but keep the solid blue from a certain visual dullness between the cape and boots. From a design and visual appeal, and at least on the comics page, red trunks just work better to balance the complete outfit.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Say what you will about cheesy hucksterism, but I grew up knowing who Stan Lee and Marvel were years before I read a comic book. Back in the 70's and 80's, Stan didn't just have his name on every Marvel comic ("Stan Lee Presents:"), and his name on every Marvel cartoon, he was also providing editor's note voice-over to episodes of The Incredible Hulk and other cartoons. I knew what it was to be a "True Believer" before I ever read a word-bubble of Spidey's inner monologue.
Speaking of: he also wrote the Spidey daily newspaper strip (in theory), which I read in collections as I got into comics.
Of course we can go back and forth all day about the Kirby/ Ditko/ Lee contributions that made up Marvel starting in '62. But none of them would have done it without the others. And, more than that, the longterm effect of Lee's boosterism of comics and comic-book characters is utterly incalculable in a landscape littered with superhero films, TV shows, cartoons, merchandise, toys, clothing, and where even Dr. Strange is now a household name.
I know Stan has made mistakes and not always made decisions that make sense to idealistic fans. That comes with the territory of being a walking icon and making mistakes as you go.
But I'm grateful he's had a chance to see the world embrace his creations, watched his comic empire flourish for going on six decades, and become a household name himself.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sunday, November 19, 2017
I had no intention of seeing Justice League (2017).
It's not that I don't like the Justice League as characters or concept - I'm a comics guy who tilts toward DC Comics, and once had a complete run of everything from Morrison's JLA run in the 90's to 2011 (I sold if off during the purging of longboxes about two years ago*). My bonfides include significant runs of Wonder Woman, Superman and Flash comics, reasonable Batman-cred, and having had watched the respective movies and TV shows featuring the JLA characters in a wide variety of live-action and animated incarnations (with exceptions which I can discuss but won't do here). I will happily test my DC Comics-Fu against any of you nerds (but not Mark Waid).
I'm on record regarding Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. One of these films was much, much better than the other three. Let's just say 2017 was much better for DC than prior years.
It's no secret those first three movies left me a broken, bitter man. The very ethos of the films was so far afield from the DCU I knew and loved, and the take on Superman so fundamentally broken (and at the end of the day, I'm a Superman guy), that I just didn't want to do it again. I'd watch it on cable or when JimD sent me the BluRay against my protestations.
Then, as of Thursday I guess, trusted sources, such as creators Mark Waid, Gail Simone, Sterling Gates and our own readers including Stuart and JimD saw the movie, and weren't furious at it. They had some nice things to say. So, I got my tickets and I went to a 10:45 PM show on Friday evening.
Let's be honest: Justice League has massive plotting issues, bizarrely genericizes and changes Kirby's Fourth World mythology in a way that makes it feel one-note to audiences who don't know their Granny Goodness from their Mister Rogers while also ruining the epic world building for fans of The New Gods (one of the most important ideas in superhero comics and comics in general).** It has some terrible CGI, I hate the Flash's costume (a TV show should not be kicking your butt in this arena), and not nearly enough Amy Adams for my dollar. ***
After three narrative and character misfires and one absolute gem of a superhero movie (you're my hero, Patty Jenkins), shake-ups in management at DC, a switch of directors, reshoots, a slashing of runtime by nearly an hour... Some combo of people and factors finally seemed to care a bit about, at least, Superman. If nothing else, they got Superman right. And I cannot tell you how much of a difference that made to me as a viewer and what I was willing to deal with and what I wasn't in my superhero epic.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Happy Birthday to Margot Kidder!
She is, of course, one of the greats of Superman media as Lois Lane in four Superman films and with a brief stint on Smallville. Arguably, Kidder did quite a bit to pivot the popular conception of Lois as less a straight-laced member of the newsroom (something she never was in the comics, but that's how she was played on TV's Adventures of Superman) and into the gutsy risk-taker with no time for a Dictionary that made absolute sense as the kind of woman who would capture the heart of the Man of Steel.
And, she's absolute dynamite in those first two Superman movies. The interview scene is pretty incredible if you haven't seen it in a while.
Happy Birthday, Ms. Kidder!
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Gerry has informed me, and social media - from Paul Kupperberg to Paul Levitz and Elliot S! Maggin - confirms, that Len Wein has passed.
A report at CBR, Newsarama, and we are certain the reports will be in the hundreds.
My ear is not to the comics social media ground the way it once was, and I confess I didn't know he was ill. When his fellow Swamp Thing creator, Bernie Wrightson, passed in recent days, I'd known of Wrightson's illness in part because of announcements and some of his work stopped that I was reading. Wein had recently returned to the DC stable and I hadn't heard.
I just check Comic Vine, and Wein has 1640 credits on comics to his name between credits for writing, editing, et al.
69 seems far off when you're in your twenties. When you're in your forties, it seems very, very young and very unfair.
But Wein left an incredible legacy, and was a huge part in the shift in content and tone that led to modern comics. From his contribution in creating Wolverine and Swamp Thing to his work on establishing X-Men in much the way we think of them today, to great work on Batman and practically every other character in comics.
I can't say anything that Wein's peers and friends won't say with more grace and with far more meaning than myself. I encourage you to read the tributes which are already appearing. But I will say he will always be remembered, his work loved, his contributions honored and the folks he inspired who came after him owe him a great debt of gratitude for paving the way to a new kind of comic - which, in turn, changed our culture.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
The other night Jamie and I watched Superman: The Movie for the first time in some time. For us, that meansL it's been over a year since we sat down and watched it. For me, it's been greater than 6 months. It may be that same "more than a year" timeframe - these days I can no better remember a particular viewing of the movie than I can an airplane flight or yet another hotel room. I've been trying to watch things new-to-me and kind of failing at it, and re-watching this movie, yet again, was not going to get me into anything novel.
What spurred us down this path was the recent article on a site called Polygon that discussed what most Gen-Xers and our forebears already knew: Christopher Reeve is more than just a buff, cut dude in spandex. He was a Julliard-trained actor. And, he was working with a director and script that didn't just ask him to glower or look mournful across the span of two movies. In comparison to the funeral dirge of Man of Steel and Cavill's limited acting opportunities and Batman v Superman and the inane use of the character, Superman: The Movie's myth-building, multi-tier, multi-faceted structure gave Reeves (and the film itself) the chance to do something deft and nuanced when it wasn't being broad and slapsticky.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
You're going to see the names Jack Kirby and Jacob Kurtzberg a lot today. Jack Kirby is the pen-name of the greatest comic artist and creator to grace this orb we call planet Earth.
Here, on the centennial of his birth (August 28th, 1917), it's possible to suggest that Jack Kirby may be one of the most important artistic and literary figures of the past 100 years. The recognition came late, decades after his passing, and, still, his name is hardly a household word. But the creations he unleashed upon popular culture from the 1940's to the 1990's would either be taken up directly by the public (at long last), becoming part of the parlance, or influence generations who could never produce that same spark of imagination, but built either directly or indirectly upon what he had done before.
There are Kirby bio sketches out there a-plenty (but no definitive monograph that I'm aware of), a magazine dedicated to the study and fan-splosion around his work, and Mark Evanier - who apprenticed under him - has become the living memory of his professional life while his grandchildren have taken up the cause of preserving the memory of the man. Now there's a virtual museum (which deserves a physical location), and a charity it's worth considering giving to sometime. And a slew of collections and books celebrating Kirby's influence and work.
Kirby was not first in when comics became a way for kids from the rougher neighborhoods of New York picked up a pencil or ink brush to start bringing in bread, but he was there really early. He was a workman who put everything he had into the work, comic by comic, year by year, becoming better and better. As they tell you in art-school, master the rules before you start breaking them - and that's what he did, finding his own unique style, his own way of creating action and drama, and eventually shattering what it meant to create a comics page.
Taking from mythology, from science-fiction, from films, from his colleagues and the bottomless well within, Kirby created whole universes, pockets within those universes, and held the lens to each character, bringing the internal life of gods, men and monsters to life.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
It has been a long, long time since I've talked much about Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby, but when I came across a black and white collection back in late 90's, one of that series one of New Gods, the comics hit my psyche like a runaway freight train.
I'll talk more about Kirby's Mister Miracle and New Gods soon (I'll be doing my own salute to King Kirby before his 100th), but today I want to suggest you guys get onboard with the new Mister Miracle series by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, which hit shelves on Wednesday.
I admit, I've not read the duo's other work to date, though I've been meaning to pick up their Vision series for at least a year. But...
As comics keep relaunching with new #1's, I'd suggest that both publishers and creators take note: this is how one starts a series.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
note: Preacher, both TV series and the comics series upon which the show is based, contain graphic violence, deeply mature themes, deeply immature themes, sexual frankness and deviation and no small amount of content of a religious nature which many-a-good folks would reasonably find offensive. You can read this post, watch the TV show, or read the comics, but you've been forewarned, you're on your own, and your mileage will vary.
Last year, Preacher came to television via AMC - arriving as a sort of high octane dramedy and a loose adaptation of the original comics which ran from 1995-2000 under DC's Vertigo imprint. The second season is now underway, but I only made it fifteen minutes into the first episode of this year's offering before saying "You know, I'm good. Let's not watch this."
You can do well with a superhero comics adaptation so long as you remain basically true to the intention of the authors, or - in the case of serial comics - find that core to the characters and concepts that have brought readers back, year after year, outlasting almost all other forms of long-time serial publications in the states.
Friday, July 7, 2017
So, I hadn't actually paid all that much attention to Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) prior to showing up to see it in the theater Thursday night. Sure, I'd watched the trailer and was pleased they went with The Vulture for a villain.
At this point, I'm fine with just noting the release date of a Marvel movie, paying my money and showing up. Marvel hasn't always knocked it out of the park, but I'm generally guaranteed a pretty good time out at the movies, and some of the films have been spectacular, reminding me both why I love superheroes and a trip to the movies.
It wasn't too hard to figure out that this Spider-Man film would stick to the high-school years, abandon comic canon (all the Marvel movies have done that), but stick to the core of what makes the character work (also, all the Marvel moves have done that). After feeling let down by Sony's reboot of Spidey with The Amazing Spider-Man - so much so (gulp) I never watched the sequel - I was thrilled that Marvel and Sony saw the light (and potential for profit) enough to bridge differences and make it work.
I'm pleased to say I enjoyed myself as much as I did at Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and many other Marvel films of the past decade. And, while there are huge changes from the comics, Spider-Man: Homecoming reminded me why I ever liked Spider-Man, his world, and his niche in the Marvel Universe. And, that I am very much not alone in wanting to see Peter Parker swinging from a web and trying his hardest.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
It's no secret I'm not a fan of the three prior entries in the shared DC filmic universe (which the kids are calling the DCEU, of DC Extended Universe, which makes no sense, but this train left the station without me).
If you want to extrapolate how much I was dreading the possibility of another weak entry from DC in the current superhero movie bonanza, you can check out my recent post on my love for Wonder Woman as a character and then, based on how I felt about Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, try to figure out how another movie as weak as the prior DC films was going to settle with me.
Of course, as the cinematic debut of The Amazing Amazon (despite 75 years in print and a well-known commodity), Wonder Woman (2017) carried an unreasonable set of both expectations and penalties for movies far beyond this single picture. If it failed, who knew what this meant for Wonder Woman as a franchise, yes,* but, if it failed: what would happen to female-starring superhero movies in general?
With much of the same crew responsible for prior efforts involved in this venture, there was no reason to believe much had changed from the disappointing first three DC filmic installments. And, no, I couldn't trust the trailers. Man of Steel had a phenomenal trailer, and I actually went to see Suicide Squad in part because it had a different director than Snyder and had a fun trailer.
Whatever changed at DCEU's offices (Geoff Johns' rise to power, I'm guessing), I am ecstatic to say: Wonder Woman has made it to the big screen, and I was absolutely thrilled with the movie.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Like most kids of my generation, I grew up with Wonder Woman as the default "superhero for girls". Sure, DC had a wide array of female characters, but a lot of "team" concepts aimed at boys included 1 or maybe 2 girls on the team no matter how big the roster got (see: GI Joe). And on Super Friends, Wonder Woman was the all-purpose female character who was not Jayna of The Wonder Twins of Wendy of Super Marv and Wendy (ahhh, the 70's).
|but at least they gave WW two villains from her rogues gallery|
Monday, April 10, 2017
Look, I go and see every single Marvel Studios movie in the theater. I just dig what they're up to, in general. Point being - there was never any question whether or not they were getting my $12 for a ticket.
Things I knew before the trailer came out:
- Thor would get a haircut
- Jeff Goldblum would play a major part
- the movie would have the Hulk in it somewhere
That's about it. Nobody told me it ALSO had Cate Blanchett.
I don't know how many of you saw Ghostbusters (2016), but one thing that was absolutely true was that Chris Hemsworth absolutely held his own with four of the funniest people working in TV and film, and, in fact, got the biggest laugh of the film from me. So letting him do more of that here - that's welcome.
Thor was never my favorite comics character - and I've tried. But I have enjoyed the Marvel Studios version a great deal and pretty much everything about the movies, even though they're generally considered less than the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, the second one is most forgettable, but it does have some good stuff in it, but I couldn't tell you the plot now if I tried.
Anyway, this looks fun, right? High stakes. Big, big story. Guest stars. Cate Blanchett.
This could be more than okay.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
I generally don't pay attention to this stuff anymore, because it's usually a fire that burns itself out and the world keeps on spinning, but...
The Comics Internet has been in meltdown over the weekend as word got out about the first Marvel retailer summit in two decades, which - with the best of intentions, Marvel (God bless their hearts) decided to invite in ICV2 and let them report out on some of the conversations between their senior staff and retailers.
and the part that set the internet ablaze
I'm the first person to nod and acknowledge that sometimes the unicorn dreams of the world don't add up to financial success and security for all, no matter how much we want the opposite to be true. But...
The sentence that is getting all the play:
We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against.
I would point out, it seems like folks are ignoring all the "we like our diverse characters, and we were doing okay with them until just now" commentary surrounding that sentence. In context (and you can see the article in that third link above), it sounds more like a guy trying to grasp market forces that changed super rapidly, is looking at what's not selling and making a statement that reflects his spreadsheets. And he made some insensitive remarks in illustrating what they saw happening. Which is why you don't do that.
Honestly, I cannot believe a wing of Disney opened the door to the amateur-hour world of comics press during frank conversations. Off-the-cuff-on-the-record convos have never been the strong suit for most comics folks. In the end, the same guy had to come back and admit that some of those new characters are popular or are doing fine and he undermined Marvel's significant efforts to diversify their character base and their fan base. And that just makes Marvel, clearly, look awful.
My intention is not to protect Disney/ Marvel so much as to say - "Marvel, that was kind of bone headed on a multitude of levels" and to also say "My fellow progressives, it's possible many market forces are in play that are impacting sales on books featuring newer characters, which in Marvel's case of late, are those diverse characters because those are less established characters who don't have the foothold of, say, Spider-Man."
I'd argue that that there's probably a much more realistic reason Marvel is having issues than a sudden public disinterest in diversity.
None of this is news - but this is my "how I wandered off from Marvel" journey.
Friday, March 17, 2017
I'm late to the game on Logan (2017), the third stand-alone movie for Hugh Jackman's portrayal of the X-Men's conflicted brawler, Wolverine. Most of you who wanted to see it have seen it, so you won't need me pushing you toward the theater.
While the series began strong and is one of the films responsible for the past twenty years' worth of exploding growth in superhero films, more recent entries have been less than required viewing and - to this viewer - disappointing. Enough so that I never bothered to watch the second Logan/ Wolverine/ James Howlett movie, The Wolverine, and only caught the most recent X-Men movie via a borrowed BluRay.
It's an interesting movie to see on the heels of Kong: Skull Island, both fantasy actioners intended for an audience with pre-awareness of existing tropes. Both borrowed and nodded to existing media outside their genre.
But Logan remembered that a story is about character first, plot second, and - arguably - you can care about everything going on in this movie whether or not you've seen any X-Men movies before. And, really, that's not something just superhero movies struggle with, it's something comics struggle with year in and year out.* And while I'll argue that the Marvel movies, both stand-alone and Avengers group efforts are heavier on character than plot, in exiting the safe confines of a PG-13 rating, Logan is free to explore much about the character that's hinted at but always seems frustratingly, perhaps hypocritically, absent in most portrayals of a man who has lost track of his kill count and whose own body is the weapon which has taken so many lives.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
You'll hear a lot about how 90's comic books were all about Chromium covers, Rob Liefeld and . There's some truth to that. But that's like saying 90's music was all Garth Brooks and Hootie and the Blowfish. The 90's brought us Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and a host of others who came to comics mostly via the guiding hand of Karen Berger and the Vertigo imprint.
Titles like Hellblazer, Kid Eternity and Invisibles kept me in comics when I was hitting that crucial point where I might have moved on. And, totally honestly, had I not stumbled across the "Ramadan" issue of Sandman during the final months of my senior year of high school, I suspect me and comics were headed for a bitter break-up.
Part of that break-up was what was happening in the X-Men titles, which had lost the guiding hand of Chris Claremont, whose writing I was ready to leave behind, I suspect, but who had created multi-dimensional characters in a way that, to this day, I cannot believe comics in general haven't learned from.
FX's new series, Legion, is going to confuse folks who head to the comic shop to find issues of the series, or a nice trade paperback. The character, David Haller, appeared briefly in a few runs of various X-books dating back to the mid-1980's, including his first appearances in the surprisingly weird New Mutants title, giving Chris Claremont's writing and the artistry of Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters, numerous other projects) co-creator status.