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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Super Watch: Supergirl Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2

When I started watching Supergirl last season, I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes and letting my disappointment in the formulaic, color-by-numbers approach take me to a dark place.  But then, probably earlier on than I'd admit, the show started doing something different from what I expected.  Rather than setting up petty jealousies between characters, rather than turning Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant character into a caricature, rather than turning Kara into a hapless dope that everyone loves only because that's what the show insists must happen despite the fact the character is an idiot ruining everyone's lives...  someone stepped in and started turning the show into something I quite liked.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy Birthday to Ms. Margot Kidder

Happy Birthday to Ms. Margot Kidder - the person who brought Lois Lane to life for four Superman films.

She's tops in our book, and part of why Lois Lane has become as important to our appreciation of the Superman story as capes and x-ray vision.

We're hoping Ms. Kidder has a fantastic year ahead of her.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Super Watch: Superman - The Movie, Superman III and Superman IV

On Labor Day, the El Rey Network was showing a Superman 4 movie marathon.  I basically turned on the TV and left it on the El Rey Network all day and into the evening, doing other things, but watching a whole lotta Superman.

They started with Superman: The Movie, and then started a Superman reverse marathon, showing Superman's IV, III, II and then Superman: The Movie again.  I watched Superman: The Movie from the point where young Clark throws the green crystal into the ice to the end, then watched all of Superman IV, then all of Superman III, then I went and moved around a bit, but came back to watch the part of Superman: The Movie I hadn't yet watched.

As I believe, like with the RoboCop franchise, watching the movies in reverse order means you end on a high note instead of trailing off into a lot of bad decision making and slashed budgets - this may be the ideal way to watch the movies once you're overly familiar with them.

There's not much new to write, and, frankly, I was doing other things - like writing up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - while watching Superman's IV and III.  But it was a good palette cleanser, Superman wise.

Also, Superman IV is just terrible.  All four movies have issues, sure, and Superman III is actually grating in parts (Richard's Lester and Pryor are a toxic combination), but it also has some small bits of genius, like the Bad Superman vs. Clark Kent fight.  Superman IV has the one speech by Lois Lane to the ailing Clark Kent, and that's it.  Before anyone thinks I can't bag on these movies - my friends, I absolutely can and will - because everything about Jon Cryer in Superman IV is some of the worst decision making ever put to celluloid, and Superman III is so troubled in it's conception, it makes my eyes hurt to think about the actual plot.

Still, you gotta like Christopher Reeve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Batman vs. Superman Bonus Post: A Few More Questions

In my recent post on the 2016 smash hit Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in discussing the movie, I tried to stick to what I saw as over-arching issues from a character and structural perspective.  I wouldn't say I cherry-picked, but I tried to focus on recurring issues indicative of the larger problem of Snyder and Goyer's take on their universe.  I didn't want to get too nitpicky about plot holes.  But...

I do still have some plot-related questions, some loops that could be closed.  Let's explore together, shall we?

1a.  Batman is waiting for Lex's people to come off the White Portugese.  I forget how he knew what they had (I'll assume they explained that - probably on the mystery drive), but didn't the Cherry Jolly Rancher scene make it clear that Lex received legal clearance to bring Kryptonite into the country?  So - Batman was essentially killing guys for legally moving a government approved research specimen into the country.  Can that be right?  

1b.  So, if Superman lets Batman just kill all those people and then flies off, then what is happening there?

2.  The security protocol on the Kryptonian ship (which speaks English, of course) is to state "well, the council doesn't want you to create this terrible abomination which, for some reason, we keep record of how to do in our database", but if you respond without any kind of password protected override of any kind and an unverifiable verbal instruction that the council is no longer in place, the ship will help you make a horrible monster?  Wasn't this a chance to show that Lex was some sort of genius by understanding xenotech and by-passing all of that encryption, etc...?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Obligation Watch: Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice (theatrical cut, 2016)

So, I was in no rush to ever see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

In summer of 2013, despite the many positives of having a Man of Steel movie even existing, a stellar score by Hans Zimmer and Amy Adams cast as Lois Lane, I never cottoned to the movie, and, in fact, despite the fact my completionist self purchased a deeply discounted BluRay of the movie, it's never found it's way onto the platter for a spin.

But, you know, WB and DCE seemed aware of their problems with Man of Steel.  It was a little hard to ignore when adults watching the movie started saying "holy @#$%.  Did I just watch a movie where Superman was turning presumably occupied buildings into rubble and started his public career by snapping the neck of the bad-guy?  Yeesh."  So, despite the return of Zack "I don't understand characters or motivations" Snyder as director and the casting of Jessie "Two Modes of Nebbish" Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, I'd tried to withhold judgment until the reviews hit.  And, mostly, the reviews were not kind on many levels.  So, I'd stayed away.

But, ha ha ha.  One of you (JimD) decided to just send me a copy of the BluRay in the mail.  Over the course of two evenings, I watched the movie, trying not to open my computer or look at my phone when the movie got dull (which was more or less 90 of the 150 minutes).  I tried to make note of what I liked and didn't like, but - I guess unsurprisingly - the movie offered little to enjoy that was not Amy Adams.

It's not the worst movie I've ever seen.  for example -  Suicide Squad was just a dumber movie.  But BvS:DoJ felt positively adolescent in some ways, and had the storytelling instincts of a five year old relating the events of the day.  But it has some interesting stuff in it, too, as far as DC Comics lore.

It's just not a terribly good movie.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane!

now THAT is Lois Lane- upcoming cover for Action 965

According to the Tumblrs, August 17th is Lois Lane's birthday!

most also, most definitely Lois Lane
We want to wish our favorite fictional reporter a happy birthday!  It's been a crazy year for you, Lois.  Loises.  Whatever.

Monday, August 15, 2016

DC Comics' Rebirth - DC Tries To Get It's Groove Back

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:

Action Comics
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Justice League
New Superman
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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Supergirl's cousin is gonna show up on "Supergirl"

I pulled this image from Birth.Movies.Death.

As far as how this could have gone - I can't complain, really.  I have no idea what DC's deal is with the classic costume or how they think continually messing around with elements of the visual iconography of one of their most famous properties is somehow a good idea.  But, no one is asking me.  Red boots and cape.  Yellow in the "S".  No mandarin collar.

Sigh.  Look, I'm a red trunks guy, and the fact that DC can't seem to make the suit work correctly either here or in Man of Steel (piping and stippling is all just a bit much, especially with a useless belly-button belt-buckle) without an awkward red belt-to-nowhere is just maybe a sign we throw in the towel and go back to the red trunks look.

But, man, that dude ALSO looks like Superman, doesn't he?  You'll never hear me complain about Cavill, but so many folks have drawn Superman in so many ways over the years, and between Reeves, Reeve, Alyn, Cain and Cavill...  Well, I don't necessarily have a particular face I identify with Superman.  Just a certain presence, and I think this dude has it, just as Melissa Benoist doesn't look like Silver Age or Bronze Age Kara, but she sure has that same vibe.

I have never seen actor Tyler Hoechlin in anything, but so as long as he doesn't have a voice like Peter Lorre, I want to give him a shot.  So far so good with Supergirl defying expectations and beating the odds for what it seemed they'd do - and the energy the actors have brought to the show.

Look, I planned to hate-watch Supergirl, but I became a fan.  I am always excited to see what they'll try to do next with a character I have a little affection for.  Now we've got Superman, Martian Manhunter and Lynda Carter as POTUS.  I mean, OBVIOUSLY I'll be watching.

And if, you know, they want to one day do a Superman show or TV movie or ten, I won't complain.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Noel Neill Merges With The Infinite

In an article appearing on The Superman Homepage a statement by her manager, biographer and friend, Larry Thomas Ward has informed us that, Noel Neill has passed at the age of 95.  The New York Times has also released an obituary.

I never took advantage of the opportunities to meet Noel Neill that were available when she was still doing comic conventions and The Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.  By the time I made it to Metropolis, she was 94 and no longer attending.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Noel Neill has passed

I'll write more later, but The Superman Homepage is reporting that Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane in both movie serials and for several season on TV's The Adventure's of Superman, has passed away at the age of 95.

We're very sorry to hear this news and wish her loved ones well.  More later.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

We Ponder the Ever-Growing Complexities of Superman and DC's "Rebirth" Event

It's no secret I wasn't a fan of much in the way of Superman comics since the launch of The New 52.  Somehow the character stumbled off the blocks, introduced in Justice League #1 as a showboat and almost a bully.  The history of the character never added up, what with DC's mishandled "we're five years in since Superman appeared" idea, a history they utterly failed to reconcile with pre-Flashpoint continuity despite their promises to the contrary.  The Superman title tried at the start.  You could feel George Perez try, get compromised again and again, and his abrupt departure and comments afterward about editorial interference jived with the inconsistency of what was on the page, not just in that title, but in many of the New 52 titles I tried out.

Over in Action Comics, Grant Morrison was given free reign to do as he pleased, and you could feel him trying to do something, working hard to try to seize the opportunity, but whatever he was trying to build with a blue-collar, working-man's hero in jeans and t-shirt was mis-appropriated to ill-effect by the end of the New 52 era and "Street Fighter" Superman in jeans and t-shirt almost a loud sigh that DC just didn't know what to do with the character they'd tried to assemble.

The comics just never quite worked.  I wish they had.  I can't say how much my waning interest in Superman comics took out my interest in comics in general.  If you've seen a major shift from comics to movies in my blogging - well, where do you suppose I'm spending my dollars and spare hours now?

Rebirth is DC Comics' latest line-wide reboot and an attempt to recapture what I'd characterize as the lost spirit of DC Comics.  Kicked off over the last month or so, they're basically ditching the line-wide decree to make their characters all more "edgy", rolling out all-new number 1 issues and trying to find their footing.  It won't solve a lot of the problems at DC as I haven't heard of a single person in editorial or publishing losing a job, and the guy running the Superman office at the moment is the same guy who was at the helm when the Superman line lost sales and went from 4 books to 2 (and those weren't holding steady).*

But all that aside - as Superman readers, what did we actually get out of Rebirth?

Well, man, they've certainly got their work cut out for them.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Finally Read "Rebirth" and Here Is What We Think (SPOILERS)

I did not love every living word and panel of DC's mea culpa in comic form, but it made me realize how long it has been since I've read a new comic book from DC and didn't feel like I needed to just put it down and walk away.  If Rebirth succeeded on any level - it did not make me kind of sad while I was reading it, nor think "well, this is what they're doing these days, and the kids seem to like it, so I guess this is DC Comics now".  I got to just mostly enjoy a DC Comic, even enjoy the familiar frustration of "well, now how is THAT going to work?" as I looked at some of what the book was pitching as the new direction for DC Comics publishing line.

It's been a few days, so I really don't think I need to explain what Rebirth is, except to my brother - so, Jason:  That New 52 thing I've been whining about the past few years?  Turns out sales have been plummeting line-wide for DC since the first year or so, and they've decided that maybe they went too far in the "grim n' gritty" comics direction, and now they're remembering that the idea behind superheroes is that they're a force for positive change.  So, starting here, DC is trying to wrap up the New 52 as a direction for the publishing line while remaining basically in continuity.  They'll start by renumbering most series (again) and remember that it's kind of a bummer to read about people in tights running about feeling miserable every second of the day, so, maybe stop with the endless Pyrrhic victories and mopey heroes.

The "Rebirth" brand at DC was never one of rebooting.  In both Flash Rebirth and Green Lantern Rebirth, continuity remained intact, but DC brought back longstanding characters and principles to characters and concepts that had strayed from the sort of Platonic ideal of those characters.  In Flash, we saw the return of Barry Allen full time for the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Wally, Bart, Jay and everyone else would be around, but Barry was our focal Flash - complete with a new backstory that didn't reflect the pre-Crisis DCU continuity (Nora Allen was murdered).  Green Lantern saw the return of Hal Jordan to the land of the living, the Parallax storyline transmogrified into epic space opera that spun out the colored rings.  Both of these I enjoyed.

Rebirth is not another Crisis.   It seems to be retaining the New 52 continuity, so far anyway, and is really not so much an answer as a gigantic question mark both from a story and editorial perspective.  Or, rather, a series of questions marks or possible paths for all of us who walked away from DC to consider what teasers from the books we'd be interested in pursuing with our dollars.

Everything from here below contains spoilers.  You're on your own if you keep reading.

Monday, May 16, 2016

20th Anniversary of DC Comics' "Kingdom Come"

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first issue of Kingdom Come, the prestige 4-issue, oft re-issued, comic by creators Alex Ross (artist) and Mark Waid (writer).

It's extremely difficult for me to state how much of an impact this comic had on me as a reader at the time of it's release.  In fact, I'd argue it was one of the comics that came out at a particular time in my life that tilted me from an interest in comics and enthusiastic readership to... whatever it became.  Further, I'd say that Kingdom Come stands as one of the key books that pushed me from thinking Superman was pretty neat to...  whatever my deal is with The Man of Steel today.

By 1996, I just wasn't that interested in superhero comics.  It seemed like a lot of books were trying to pull things off that weren't working, and, honestly, at age 21, glancing over the covers - a sense of creeping embarrassment hit me for the first time in my life in regards to comics.  Not for the hobby or comics themselves, but it seemed that, in the mainline superhero books, writers and artists and the companies themselves had a vision they were trying to execute, and that vision felt like a 13-year-old trying on their dad's suit thinking they could con the bank into giving them a loan.

By '93, a brave new world of tough, militaristic, snarling characters had flooded the shelves.  New publishers had arrived with fully formed concepts and universes, clearly either inspired as "extreme" versions of existing characters, or taking their cues from the artwork on heavy metal album covers (which, you know, how could you fault them?).  And at DC and Marvel, familiar characters were getting changed and rebooted (see: Azrael Batman) to reflect the times.  To me, the stories themselves lacked anything resembling narrative sophistication or substance, taking a Canon Films approach to violence and vitriol and mistaking it for maturity.  The plots were sophomoric at best, and adding spiked shoulder pads to pre-existing characters did nothing to sell me on their new grittiness.  I'll never forget cackling my way through the 1994 Dr. Fate reboot, Fate, wherein the hero turns the all-powerful helmet of Dr. Fate into a knife.  So he can cut things!  To the extreme!*

Meanwhile, Karen Berger had set up Vertigo at DC and was putting out HellblazerShade: The Changing ManAnimal ManSwamp ThingThe Invisibles, and, of course, Sandman and Sandman Mystery Theatre.  I didn't think I had to look too far to see characters who were telling me they were for older readers - they simply were the sophistication (or what passed for it) that felt like the proper heirs to the Moore legacy.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A "National Superhero Day" Tour of The Fortress

About three years ago I did a post where I took a bunch of photos of my collections.  But it's been a while, so I thought for National Superhero Day, I'd take some pics and show you where we're at today with the collections of The Fortress of Nerditude/ League HQ/ Signal Watchtower.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

John Williams Appreciation Post: Theme to "Superman" - 1978

Yesterday I way overslept and slid into my desk at 9:26 AM.  I was panicky, because Nathan Cone was DJing the Spring telethon for Texas Public Radio out of San Antonio, and he'd promised he'd play the Superman theme just for on my B-Day at 9:30 AM sharp.  I fired up the website, and in a couple of minutes, I got to hear Nathan give me (and the site!) a shout out, and then he played selections from the score to Superman: The Movie (1978).

As much as the movie defines Superman for me in a multitude of ways, I'll never get over the score.  It's got all the drama and adventure and fun of a Superman comic at its best built right in.  And for that, we need to thank John Williams.

We all love John Williams.  He provided the score to our film-going lives and is, arguably, the most important composer of the age.  He's certainly taken up more of my headspace than nearly any other composer, and I've bought more of his work than nearly any other musician.

So, we're going to start posting some of Williams' work here for a bit.  Nothing to overwhelm you, just something to listen to and enjoy yourself.

And, yes, I re-upped my membership with Texas Public Radio.  Nathan is diabolical that way.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy #NationalPetsDay with Krypto and the Super Pets!

Here at The Signal Watch, we have a Super Affinity for pets.  We've got our own two little geniuses at home making our lives more colorful every day.

Back in the Silver Age, National Comics introduced a dog named Krypto to the Superman mythos.  Supposedly sent in advance of a baby Kal-El in a test rocket, Krypto arrived on Earth around when Superboy was making a name for himself in Smallville.  The comics made their usual bends in logic and soon Krypto was appearing in both Superboy and the adventures of grown-up Superman.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DC Comics details #DCRebirth, we look at Superman and... So many questions (not necessarily in a good way)

Thank Hera, WW is back in gold.  But what's with the blue boots on Supes?

Over the weekend at something called WonderCon, DC Comics used the Comic Convention platform to do what they used to do back before videogames and movies gentrified CCI/ San Diego - they actually delivered some fairly large comics news.

It's no secret to retailers or readers that DC Comics' line of titles has been in a creative hole of despair for going on 5 years, and sales have taken a related major nose-dive in the past two years despite incentive covers and as much Harley Quinn as DC could print.  The ill-conceived Convergence event of Summer 2015 gave anyone on the fence the opportunity to get the hell out of there, and, abandon DC they did.

It wasn't too hard to figure that after DC moved to the new West Coast offices many things would change, that the real-world stresses of moving would put any ability to react to sales issues on the back burner, but, once everyone was settled, they'd immediately begin planning.

The final product of a few months of brian-storming is now revealed:  DC Comics Rebirth.

So, what is Rebirth?

Monday, March 28, 2016

In Light of "Superman vs: Batman" - What is the Point of Film Criticism?

Batman ponders the Super Package

Although perhaps less so every year in a world of constantly sub-divided attention, movies and television are the modern cultural touchstones.  More than news, political figures or even war, there's nothing like a $400 million dollar movie to get everyone around the world doing the same thing on a Saturday.  International dominance of American cinema means that films transcend boundaries and political ideologies as Hollywood carefully crafts non-political films with standard "good v evil" tropes, without ever casting a particular point of view, aside from "evil menace" as the bad guy.

We aren't all just film viewers, we are all film reviewers.  We see a film, we consider that film against other films, source material and our particular perspective.  Sometimes we write that thought down.  The job requires no credentialing, and while some people are paid to look at movies, sum them up and say a few words about the relative merit of a film, others do this endlessly, fruitlessly on their own (cough), but it is something we all do mentally.  We are all ready to write a column for the local paper.  We all have the best, most nuanced of opinions.

Most of what you see in the press I think of as "reviewers" more than "critics".  Somehow, someway, those folks parlayed an interest in going to a bunch of movies every week into a job where they then must writer 1000 words about that movie.  A review contains a synopsis, who stars in a movie, and some sort of opinion about the movie.  Some make it colorful - and in this era of  anyone with a keyboard having the ability to publish, you gotta write some colorful stuff to get clicks.

How to separate a critic from a reviewer?

Well, a reviewer is a person with a local newspaper column or a website.  It's me.  It's you.  Your aunt who posts things to facebook.

There are two definitions of critic, I think.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

No Country For Old Men: Let's talk about Superman vs. Batman (and initial reviews and whatnot)

All right. The first reviews are in for Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice, the much-hyped sequel to Man of Steel that, just there in the title, tells you how little faith Warner Bros. had in their desire for a stand-alone film franchise after making a terrible Superman movie in 2013.

Thanks to Randy, today I've also been thinking about actor Tommy Lee Jones.

How does one wind up with a face like Jones'?  There's a lot going on in that mug.  A lot of years written in the lines, the burned in look of disappointment.  How does one look that tired, that certain he's seen it all, and... yet... still confused how it keeps happening?  And, more so, the certainty it's going to happen again etched upon his brow.

Randy sent me a quote from an interview with Howard Stern, discussed in this article at Cinemablend, that detailed how much, apparently, Tommy Lee Jones hated Jim Carrey, who worked with him on Batman Forever.  Upon meeting Carrey, with whom he was to work the next day, Jones told Carrey:

"I hate you. I really don't like you…I cannot sanction your buffoonery."

That is a man with nothing left to lose and no time for antics.  And that was 20 years ago.

At best that's tangential to why I'm thinking of Jones and his face.  But it informs it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why You're Wrong About Batman, and Why Superman Would Win Every Time

the product of a Google Image Search for "Batman dumb"

Superman would win.

  • can fly
  • is bulletproof/ invulnerable
  • is able to push around an oil tanker, maybe even lift one (while full)
  • has eyes that
    • can see through anything but lead
    • see microscopic detail
    • provide telescopic vision
    • shoot lasers
  • has ears that 
    • can hear Lois's heartbeat on the other side of the country
    • can hear radio frequencies
  • has super-breath
  • can run almost as fast as the Flash (who runs so fast he runs through time)
  • has a dog
  • is mostly only vulnerable to kryptonite and magic
  • took some martial arts classes
  • still thinks throwing stars are pretty keen
  • has a hard time keeping friends
  • buys his way out of trouble
  • verbally abuses his butler, who is his only friend
  • puts children in mortal danger
  • spends nights beating the mentally ill
  • somehow never trips over a gigantic cape
  • might have a rock of kryptonite he'd never get out of his pocket before Superman took it away with a lead oven mitt

Yeah, yeah.  Batman plans ahead.  We've all heard that one.  Including Superman.  So, wouldn't Superman just plan on Batman planning ahead and just knock him over with his super breath from far away, then cover him in, say, piles of shag carpeting until Batman passes out?

Your argument is silly.

You are a silly, silly person.

This bit of internet trolling brought to you by:  Superman v. Batman - Dawn of Justice!