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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Today did not work out at all.
Several months ago, when I assumed UT Football would be great and I'd want to be home on a Saturday to watch the game, and back then when I assumed the Cubs would not be in the World Series, I purchased a ticket to the Alamo City Comic Con. Just for one day - today. So, I took the day off and drove to San Antonio for comics shenanigans.
Straight up, I don't know why I do these things. Mostly, I find them depressing, but I show up every three years to a Comic-Con as some sort of mildly expensive reminder that this thing is not my bag.
I had to make it a short day of it if I wanted to go to SA and back AND watch the World Series, but I've yet to be at a Con in Texas where 3 hours wasn't way more than enough (what people do with a 3-day pass, I will never know. Stand around looking a little peaked in your Ranma 1/2 cosplay by day 3, I'd guess).
What got me off my butt and to The Alamo City in the first place was the fact that Margot Kidder was scheduled as a guest, to appear all three days and, really, she's one of the very few people I'd be pretty excited to meet at this point in my life.
So, you will notice there are no pictures of Margot Kidder in this post, and that's because she never showed up while I was there and before I realized I didn't want to spend any more money, and so I gave up - the entire enterprise leaving me, once again, wondering what it is, exactly, I am doing with my life.
Monday, September 12, 2016
When I was in high school, I'd quit playing officially sanctioned sports about 3 games into the basketball season my sophomore year (that's a whole other story, but let's just say - that was my first experience in recognizing an adult had no idea what they were doing). I was kind of between activities at one point, and somehow heard about this thing where people were hitting each other with foam swords and shields - Society for Creative Anachronism. I briefly considered getting involved - I mean, who doesn't want to smack someone with a sword? - but then had a thought that maybe this was not going to be the thing I would do, even if it were fun. It sounded like something that would start off exciting and then devolve into nonsense.
Watching 90 minutes of the 2006 documentary film Darkon has not cleared up much of how that would have gone for me.
Darkon (2006) follows the better part of a year of an intricately designed and played Live Action Role-Playing game (aka: LARPing) and the lives of the folks who partake in the... activity? Lifestyle?
"Darkon" is the name of the fantasy continent inhabited by the players of the game. They keep a map of spaces broken out into hexes (a common sight to anyone who played table-top RPG's) and battle in real-space for those hexes with a set of seemingly well-agreed upon battle rules. Armies of folks representing nations (armies seeming between 15 and up to 75 people) whack at each other with foam covered weapons and an array of objects meant to represent everything from catapult missiles to wizard-cast "fireballs" or, more infamously, "lightning bolts".
The players take on characters - lots of Lords of Realms and whatnot. Magical beings. Wizards. If it showed up in a fantasy novel in the past 40 years, it's probably something someone is pretending to be.
Monday, August 15, 2016
I'm buying way, way more in the way of DC Comics these days then I have in a few years. Not as many as I might have been back in the hey-day around 2007 (back when I was practically panic-buying comics, afraid I'd miss something), or even as many as I was in the days before DC's New 52 effort launched, but I'm back up from, like, 3 per month (I was picking up Action, sometimes Superman, Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman '77 when it came out).
But, back then, I was literally picking up about 25 DC titles per month, I think. It was a lot, but I was a Wednesday comics guy, I liked keeping up weekly and monthly with all the ongoing characters and stories, seeing what would happen, good, bad, otherwise, and it was the constant decision-making of "is this comic worth picking up or should I try something else?". At the core of all the titles I read were four characters - Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Batman (in a somewhat managed capacity as there was always too much Batman on the shelf). The rest were usually up for debate.
With Rebirth, I'm picking up a few titles:
Supergirl (not yet released)
All Star Batman
Trinity (not yet released)
and probably the Super Sons title or whatever it's called, which will come out this Fall.
I'll be waiting on word from folks to see if any of the Green Lantern titles are worth it, but I'm not holding my breath. When they quit making the book about the Corps shattering and reforming and shattering and reforming, somebody wake me up and alert me.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
At the beginning of the 1990's, I almost bailed on comics. If you want to know who kept me coming back I can throw a bunch of names at you of authors and artists, but the real force bringing me back to the funny book store was editor Karen Berger, the mastermind behind the 1993 launch of Vertigo comics.
A lot of people say a lot of negative things about the comics industry in the 1990's, and if you consider what was going on in many corners, they're not wrong. I was avoiding shiny and holographic covers, watched unknown companies try to launch whole universes in one shot and avoided the Scarlet Spider stuff like the plague. But Berger was the one who saw the potential for what comics could do, saw the potential in then little known writers, was flexible about what could appear in a floppy comic, and she may be the least risk-averse person to ever work at the Big 2.
After successes with Wonder Woman, Legion and other titles, she shepherded several cutting edge titles that eventually set up shop under the Vertigo imprint. She gave Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer a home, nurtured and loved both the titles and creators, and resurrected dead IP at DC Comics (Kid Eternity, The Tattooed Man, Shade: The Changing Man) while also letting creators bring their own, fresh ideas to the Vertigo. In an era embracing what had been counter culture as we coined such terms as "Alternative Music" and put a groovy coffee shop on every corner, the company that put out Superman was also putting out The Extremist and Transmetropolitan.
Just imagine a young and hungry Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis... And, of course, Garth Ennis. In many ways for which she will rarely be given the credit she deserves, Karen Berger gave us Preacher.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
As the lights came up, I turned and looked at my movie companion and heard myself say "that was the worst movie I've seen since Battlefield Earth". But, that was unfair. It's the worst movie I've seen since 1998's Godzilla, but the issues with the movie are maybe more akin to Battlefield Earth.
Now, I don't say that lightly, and I obviously don't include "bad movie" fodder like The Room, Birdemic and other grasp-longer-than-reach independent efforts. Rather, there's a special place in movie-going hell reserved for huge blockbuster movies with gigantic budgets for production and marketing that have been corporate committee'd to death.
I didn't show up at Suicide Squad wanting to dislike it. I'm a grown-assed adult, and if I don't want to see a movie, I won't. Heck, I could have skipped the movie with a refund before it rolled (and I thought about it after seeing the reviews). The movie was sold out and people would take the seats. I could have had a nice beer on the porch at the theater.
I am, of course, not a DC "hater" and am more than happy to discuss DC comics, associated media and lore at length. In short, don't make me embarrass you, kid, when you come at me to explain the movie.
For decades I've read DC comics, watched TV shows - good and bad - read non-fiction histories of the characters and industries. And, in this era I just want for DC to make a movie that isn't a trainwreck, and - while I've not seen BvS - that doesn't seem to be happening.
I have no doubt the folks who've already branded themselves as DC movie fans (and as carriers of true fandom for these characters) will like the movie as it follows a certain line of thinking that has so far appealed to that audience and basic issues with story and structure didn't deter them with Man of Steel, and from what I've heard about BvS, even more so. It is in no way short of wanting to be hip and edgy like an Ed Hardy shirt or vape booth at the mall.
It's a movie that does not know the rule of "show, don't tell" - it doesn't trust the audience to follow a story, delivering character and action in literal bullet points. Mostly, though, the film is presented in such a way that the errors and issues were so large and as consistent as gunfire throughout the movie, that it's impossible to stay with the movie rather than just cataloging the issues as they pop up, one after another.
At almost every single thing this movie attempts, it misses in big and small ways, with the unsurprising exception of the Will Smith as Deadshot storyline (Big Willie carries too much clout in Hollywood to not come out of this still intact, and the charm I'd nearly forgotten the man has on screen fills in a lot of gaps that the movie leaves there for virtually every other character). Whether it's the much derided musical accompaniment, the nonsensical story bits left in place after the editors were done, the odd choice of villain and scope of the mission, or why everything in the movie felt like it needed to be doodled upon from the frame of the film to Margot Robbie's face to Will Smith's collar.
This movie is a @#$%ing mess. And, no, it's not even really a "fun" or "enjoyable" mess at that. Maybe "a distracting two hours where you'll ask yourself a lot of questions about why they made a lot of decisions the way they did." That kind of mess.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Randy suggested I take a look at the trailers that came out during Comic-Con, and while I haven't looked at every one of them, and some of them I have no opinion on in general (like the new Harry Potter), I guess I can do this fairly quickly and painlessly.
I've already been asked how accurate this is to the original comics, but as one always has to say with DC comics and characters, in particular, the specifics aren't that important. Especially trying to bring the character to the big screen in 2017 versus what the characters were like in their 1941 original first appearance.
The question needs to be: how did they handle the origin in general (do the producers understand the character well enough to understand the importance and resonance of the most important details of the character), and what did they do to demonstrate that the character is not a new character masquerading as the titular character?
I am not expecting the poly-sexual, bdsm subliminal antics of the original comics to ever make the big screen (we can make arguments about Season 1 of the Lynda Carter show some other time). This is the Wonder Woman of the Greg Rucka era, who still carries the lasso, but is like to pick up a sword and shield. To avoid comparisons to her contemporary creation, Captain America, the origin story has been transported to WWI instead of WWII, a change which I feel doesn't exactly make sense for a downed aviator to find Themyscira by accident (the range on those flyers was not putting them out over the mid-Atlantic, and aircraft carriers barely existed at the time).
But, ignoring the logistics of aviation history, I have to say I'm as excited by this trailer as I likely am to be about anything spinning out of DC/WB's theatrical efforts. Gadot isn't my first choice, but she seems fine in the part. The action looks like it's not softened in the slightest and the Amazons are living up to their potential from the comics if this trailer is to be believed.
Like Captain America, the action is likely to move to the modern era for any sequels, which kind of begs the question "why set it in WWI when it's going to draw so many comparisons to Captain America?" It's not like we've lacked for military conflict in the past 20 years.