Showing posts with label superman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label superman. Show all posts

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Batman vs. Superman"and "Star Wars VII" - avoiding the open-ended questions

I've already gotten one or two "hey, whaddayathink about the new Batman/ Superman trailer?" messages from people who know me, know I like me some Superman and Batman, and who know I was not a fan of the last Superman adventure by the same creative team.  And, likewise regarding Star Wars, which I've not been all that into for the last decade, I guess.

So, with the HD trailer now released for Batman and Superman are Going to Punch Each Other in the Rain and the certainty even my dad will now have seen the trailer - rather than answer the same open ended question in short bursts of tweets or Google Hangouts or whatever, here we go:


Ah, man.  We know you're doing your best, buddy.


The DCU that WB is working on for the movies does not jive well with the overall DCU I've liked for 30-odd years of my life (or 37 if you want to want to count when I got into Superman: The Movie and Super Friends - or, heck, before that if you're partial to Adam West, and I am).

There are pretty obvious lessons the WB execs believe they learned from the success of the Dark Knight trilogy and failure of Green Lantern and Superman Returns (although any kind of thoughtful evaluation that didn't require execs saving face just wasn't going to happen on the WB lot).   And in that lesson-learning, much like DC Comics believed with the New 52, everything had to be Batman.  And not just Batman, but the same Batman that shows up in Arkham Asylum video games.

Anyway, I tend to think that the point of Superman and Batman running up against each other is not just a question of the the tone of the characters coming into conflict - it's also the world and worldview colliding and reflecting off one another.  And this isn't that.  This is someone mistaking grim'n'gritty as an ends unto itself.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Today I am 40. We ponder my mortality via Superman.

It's my B-day.  A milestone b-day at that.  I'm planning to take the day easy, read some comics, watch some movies, play with some dogs.  Nothing too extravagant.

But it's also a time to ponder and reflect, and nothing helps you reflect more than Superman.


Oh, 70's humor.  You were on the nose to the pointy of cruelty.

But nothing helps one ponder old age like a good Superman comic book cover.



Let's face facts...  I work on a college campus.  I am more than aware this is how the undergrads see me as I wander the halls.  The notion that these whipper-snappers see me as anything other than someone who might know their parents is delusional.  I never feel the need to try to pretend like I know what the kids are up to these days, because that's like your parents trying to impress you by going to see Billy Joel.



I, of course, see myself as older and wiser, telling these young punks how it should be done - and how it should be done is by doing it exactly how we did it in my day.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

B-Day Watch: Guardians of the Galaxy and Superman - The Movie

This weekend marks my 40th birthday.  As such, I'm taking it easy and enjoying some of my favorite movies.

Last night was a recent favorite, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), because it will be a while before I see Rocket Raccoon in anything, and I will rewatch Captain America 2 just prior to Avengers 2.

Es muy bueno!


It's actually a little surprising how well the movie holds up upon multiple viewings in a single year.  And, man, you don't hear much about it, but it's also a very pretty movie.  Space isn't a black field with white dots - it's a nebula cloud of Kool-Aid colors.



And, this morning I got up early and put on Superman: The Movie.  Not much new to see on a 50th or so screening of the movie, but I wasn't going to let a "Ryan gets to watch whatever he wants this weekend" window go by without Superman.

As the credits rolled, Jamie asked me if I'd seen it 100 times yet.  And, I don't think so...  but you never know.  It's possible.  I know I've seen it a few times per year every year since 2008 or so, and before that I'd watch it a lot more than that.  So...  yeah, I have no idea, really.

I also started Blade Runner last night and realized I was exhausted during the "let's kill the eyeball guy" sequence, so I didn't finish.  Sometime this weekend, though.

Oh, and Daredevil is pretty @#$%ing right on.  Check it out on Netflix.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We take exception to a poorly constructed Superman joke and, unfortunately, talk about how jokes work

this is not movie merchandise

I can't let this go.  Jamie would surely want me to.  She'd say "just let it go", but I can't, because lazy jokes bug me.  Especially lazy Superman jokes.

Above you will see a house-ad-link from the very popular Cracked.com website in their popular listicle format.

Some Cracked Writers are better than others (I highly recommend Seanbaby and David Wong), and some of them are hacky dudes who can't bother to make the premise of the post work.

For five whole items on a 6 item list, writer JM McNab sticks to his premise and rightfully points out some oddball merchandise tie-in's to motion pictures of years gone by, some more successfully than others.  And then in the final item, the one that - by many years of Cracked.com's hallowed tradition - is supposed to be the best for last - he apparently got either tired and couldn't complete his work or he couldn't be bothered to understand how Google works.

As goofy and stupid as it might be, the Super Powers Collection Justice Jogger has nothing to do with a movie.

the defense does not disagree with the prosecution's assertions of the goofiness of this item, we simply submit this is not, and never has been, tied to a movie

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Little Kids Wear the "S" and do it better than anything in the comics

Today this video made it across my path via social media.  It's a video about a kid in Detroit who has started a charity that provides food, clothing and necessary articles to the people of his city.  He's a kid who puts on a cape and the Superman "S" when he's at work.  The adults (and kids) who are helping him are similarly decked out in Superman gear, an easy and inexpensive get these days.

The video was part of a recent student film festival at the White House.  The video is short and it's worth a view.



Unrelated, these little girls were part of the Science Fair at the White House.



Here's what's on the White House website about why the girls are there.

Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy Oneal, and Emery Dodson, 6 (Tulsa, OK)After chatting with their school librarian, the “Supergirls” Junior FIRST Lego League Team from Daisy Girl Scouts’ troop 411 discovered that some people have disabilities that make it difficult to turn the pages of a book. They came up with the concept of a battery-powered page turner that could turn pages for people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. The Supergirls sketched out a design concept and culled through motorized Lego components and gears to figure out how to build a working prototype. They discovered that the friction from rubber Lego tires could be used to lift and turn the pages of a book. They honed the device with a second motorized component that forces pages to lay flat after being turned over. The Supergirls’ creation was selected by the statewide FIRST program director to be the only project exhibited at an educational conference for librarians and educators in the region.


These are some amazing kids, and I think it's not a mistake that their parents and families, no doubt a bit insulated from the fact that DC Comics has launched a "New 52" (that even now they're backing away from) wanted to put the capes and the shield on these kids.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Imaginary EIC Hat - Rules I'd Implement for Superhero Comics



If you've read comics for any length of time, there are tricks and tropes and storylines we've all seen, and worst and best practices for superhero comics.

Sometimes the worst practice stuff seems to get followed because things happen in the fog of trying to put a monthly comic out in a timely fashion, sometimes it's because you can tell the new writer hasn't done any homework prior to coming on and the editor appears to have a laissez-faire attitude regarding what their writers are doing, and more often than I care to admit, I look at comments online and am shocked by how many people really like the worst-practice stuff and are willing to say so out-loud.

I've considered a few things I find grating overall, considered their impact, and how often these could be used and still feel like, perhaps familiar ideas after a while, but to help keep them a little fresh or maintain their impact, we've given a rate for how often they can be used.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In which we consider DC's June post "Convergence" shake-up and new costumes

Sigh.

I kind of want to be out of the business of thinking about DC's moves as a company, because it's equal parts equally unsatisfying and depressing.

In case you missed the interview with Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee that was featured at places like Comic Book Resources yesterday, they're basically moving forward by going back to not tying every book in the DC line to superhero mainline continuity.  As comics were up through the 1980's, DC and Marvel surely put out Superman and Spider-Man, but we didn't need to worry how that fit in with Teen-Age Romance Comics or Katy Keene In Love or whatever made up title I just made-up.

And DC is going back to - maybe not putting out Teen-Age Romance Comics - but they are saying "not everything here is in the main DCU, so quit worrying about that".

Jim Lee, who I am pretty sure has no idea what an actual buyer of comics looks like or thinks, was quick to tell his core audience that we're mistaken for wanting continuity to work in an ongoing serial.  And we were also mistaken for expecting both the New 52 to make sense and the five year time jump to hold together after DC said "it all makes sense, we'll show you" and then absolutely did not do so.

Now, all of this is coming on the heels of Convergence, which is a munging of the DC Multiverse, and because it's been a few years, I think we all needed to expect Didio was going to once again reboot the DCU.  They're not saying that, but they are absolutely saying that the characters will have new, unheard of status quos.  So, practically speaking, a rejigger if not a reboot.

So, let's review the images for the solicitation copy, shall we?


Friday, March 6, 2015

new Supergirl costume is fairly Supergirl-riffic

this is it, there's no turning back now

Sometime in the next several months, CBS is slated to bring Supergirl to the small screen.  Look, I'm a Helen Slater guy from way back, a casting decision I will always support even if Supergirl, as a movie, has... complications.

In the comics, I'm really a fan of only a few eras of Supergirl, if by Supergirl you mean Kara Zor-El and not Cir-El, Matrix/ Mae or Linda Danvers (but, look, I will always support Linda Danvers, and I'm irritated she's mostly forgotten, because today's fangirl community would love her as some sort of Supergirl).

Straight up, I'm a Silver-Bronze Age Kara Zor-El fan when she was portrayed as bright, perhaps naive, but eternally optimistic teen and college kid.  With a flying cat and horse that she sometimes dated.*  If Supergirl isn't trying to see the best in everyone and trying to save the day while she basically fights with identity issues Clark Kent doesn't spend too much time pondering, she isn't really Supergirl.

real Supergirl is perky as all living hell

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Superman 38 and the Geoff Johns/ John Romita Jr. run

So, Superman #38 has been out for a week or so, and it's been generating some news in comic book land.

Superman got his buffalo wings "super spicy"


To date, this feels like the only successful run on the New 52 Superman title from DC Comics.  The title has struggled since George Perez more or less disavowed the 6-issue run bearing his name during the New 52 launch, and once Scott Lobdell came on, I gave it an issue or three and then did the unthinkable.  I actually dropped Superman.

Lobdell is my second least favorite writer to ever take on Superman, with Chuck Austen's mind-blowingly terrible work on the character and world of Metropolis front and center.  So, to get everyone up to speed, I've basically lost track of what was happening in the Superman titles for a good long while as they crossed-over with Supergirl and Superboy (a pair of books I couldn't stand within two issues of the New 52 launch), and then the Superman line launched in to the astoundingly poorly executed Doomsday-Virus hoo-har, which I kind of read, but, sheesh.

So, in a lot of ways, Geoff Johns coming on Superman brought me back to not just to that title, but to doing more than flipping through Action Comics and saying "yup.  okay.  That's what they're doing, then."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Smallville Man

Gerry and Randy were kind enough to each send me this video today.  It's a short, animated fan-film that does a great job of communicating what makes Superman tick.  Rather than weigh you down with a pre-amble, I suggest you go ahead and check it out.



As simple as such a film may be, it's shocking how difficult this sort of portrayal of Superman has become over the past two decades, be it in comics or movies or ten seasons of TV.


Monday, January 5, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To? Me and Comics Since June 2013

I really don't know how to write this post, because, if you've been following me for any length of time - and, in particular, if you've been here because of comics, this is where I disappoint you.

I am no longer a "read 20 comics per week" kind of guy.  I'm more of a "I'll knock through a trade once a week or so" kind of guy.  My comics reading and collecting was changing before this site was frozen in carbonite, and it's continued to mutate.

y'all buckle in, because it's about to get pedantic and ornery up in here

I kind of quit trying to keep up with Marvel as a universe around Secret Invasion, which was several years ago now.  I've tried to keep up here and there with Captain America and a few other titles, but Marvel's insistence on the cross-over stunt has made that exceptionally difficult.  Pair that with the fact I read Marvel in trade collections rather than floppies or digital comics, and their "all new #1's all the time" marketing strategy, and I literally gave up trying to understand what was happening at Marvel as a Universe.  But I will be picking up some of the Star Wars books for a few months and see how I like a Marvelized Star Wars U.

DC and the New 52 kind of sent me screaming.   The quality of DC hasn't really improved much over the past two years, and it was in the basement with the launch of the New 52.  I recently read that by Spring, DC will have canceled 60 titles since the launch of the New 52, which is an indication that I'm not crazy to think they have some problems and maybe they aren't serving their audience very well.

In the past year, it's safe to say my habit of reading comics has greatly reduced.  At least the reading of new comics.  When I do buy floppies, I collect them for a couple months and read a few at a time, unless it's something that's self-contained.  And I'll talk about what I'm buying as floppies, which isn't much.

The other day I mentioned that I've recently also sold off a huge portion of my collection.  Well over half my stuff has been dispensed with since August, something like 15-20 boxes (short and long), something like 4-5000 comics.  I've also sold a huge number of my action figures, graphic novels and other items.

And - you know - I don't miss them.  I have more than a room full of great stuff that I like and feel like showing off from time to time, and it's a lot more focused than it once was.

So What Happened?

Monday, June 17, 2013

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.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tour of the Signal Watch Fortress of Solitude

I saw online some folks were doing tours of their Superman collections. Well, it seemed like a SUPER idea to participate.

My Fortress is in disarray at the moment as I'm currently consolidating my collection and removing large portions of it.  I'm going to humblebrag and note that what you see here is only part of what I had on display until recently.  I'm really winnowing it down to Superman and Wonder Woman these days.

I started collecting Superman stuff in college, and I don't have much in the way of vintage. So the collection takes you from the late 90's til now, I guess.


your entry from the hallway to the Fortress

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Superman: Unchained #1" Review

This comic was $5.  Five dollars.  Five hundred pennies.  Half of ten dollars.  It is worth roughly $2.25, on a very good day.

I'm realizing how spoiled I've gotten by reading $1 online comics from folks like MonkeyBrain.

Jim Lee likes to draw Superman sort of hunched over.  I don't really know why.  He also likes to draw his head sort of unusually small.  Also, as Co-Publisher of DC Comics he can apparently greenlight the single dumbest, least narratively driven, least impressive, most expensive fold out insert in a comic.  Ever.

I really needed a huge image of space debris to tell the story.  Thanks.

"Man of Steel" has now been witnessed

Well, yup.  It's 3:10ish in the AM and I am home.  Just saw Man of Steel with Kevin and Juan.



spoilers below


Monday, June 10, 2013

Supermarathon: All-Star Superman

Thanks to what's looking to be a busy week, this is the last installment of the Supermarathon as I'm booked pretty solid until Thursday night.  I hope I did us proud.

All-Star Superman adapts the 12 issue series that ran unevenly for years back when DC was playing havoc with schedules and you never really knew when a comic was coming out.  The art and story were worth it, and both were savaged at the time of the series' start, with the usual complaints about Morrison's writing drawing confusion and fans of the Jim Lee or Kubert school of illustration baffled by the stylized work of Frank Quitely.

You can view the film at Netflix Streaming.

No sooner than the series ended than word leaked that this comic was truly something unique, and - in what I've since come to simply expect when it comes to Superman - be it this comic or early reactions to Man of Steel, its fascinating to see the audience react to the core of the character and ask "why isn't the character usually like this?" or "where did this come from?" to ideas that were 40-50 years old at the time of the comic's publication.



That said, it took Morrison's storytelling and the voice he imbued in Superman and Luthor to make the series shine.  And, I'd argue, it took the clear, concise, character-driven storytelling of Dwayne McDuffie to take the comic and turn it into a movie that works despite the strange, episodic nature of the narrative.

For those who haven't read the comic, I won't bore you with what was cut to make the movie.  The DC Animation team managed to keep most of the story in place to keep the relevant bits intact and maintain the core of the story, even if its heart-breaking to know what might have been.  They also managed to keep much of the look of the comic, something I thought impossible, even if the 16x9 dimensions occasionally lose the impact of Quitely's page design.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Supermarathon! Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut

For a long time a few things were known about the production of Superman II.  

1.  Originally the first film and the second were shot together and were more of a piece.  However, the movies were split up into two films and portions of the story from what became Superman II were used in Superman: The Movie.  
2.  Director Richard Donner was fired from Superman II and director Richard Lester was brought onboard. Lester reshot large parts of the movie to ensure his credit for the movie.  He had a different approach from Donner, and insisted on a wackier tone.  
3.  Gene Hackman basically didn't return for Superman II's reshoots, and Marlon Brando's portions were cut from the film.

While you likely didn't notice it much as a kid, and were able to give over a lot to superhero logic, Superman II may have the exciting supervillain fight, but it's tonally all over the place and the plot sometimes feels held together by bubble gum and tape.  

It's difficult to know exactly what Richard Donner originally intended and what he would have left in back in 1980 or so, as some scenes are deeply cut from the theatrical release, especially trimmed for hammy comedy which can sometimes feel a bit burdensome in the version that's more familiar.  But this version feels superior from a storytelling standpoint in so many ways that its hard not to want to see it as the "real" version, much as I consider the extended cut of Superman: The Movie as the official version and don't really bother with the original cut anymore.  

Firstly, you can tell everyone is still feeling all right in this movie, that the reshoots and time on the set hasn't taken its toll.  Reeve is buff, his hair in place and I don't think we get the pit stains.  Margot Kidder, especially, still seems on, is always well lit, her hair seemingly professionally done, etc...  And the cinematography seems better by leaps and bounds.  

While the "big city gal fads" of the theatrical release provide some color, watching Lois squeeze orange juice is kind of a half-gag, and it's not missed in this version.  

Also, the reveal of Clark Kent to Lois that he is Superman works terrifically better from a storytelling perspective than expecting that Superman would trip over a rug.  Despite the fact the footage used is from audition film, it feels terrifically stronger from a story telling standpoint.  I suspect that the scene would have only improved if Donner had managed to get it in front of the actual cameras.  

What really seals the deal is the continuation of the father/ son story between Jor-El and Superman, and what each continues to receive from the other as, even in death, Jor-El gives the last of what he is over to his son.  The cheesy appearance of Lara in the theatrical cut and the awkward transition from Superman to the white collared-shirted Clark doesn't occur and continuity feels much more intact.  

And the Phantom Zone villains feel genuinely more menacing under Donner's direction and oversight.  

In short, if you've never seen this cut, I highly recommend revisiting the movie through this version.