Sunday, June 23, 2019
The kids are never going to know that there is, literally, in the public consciousness, a world before Tim Burton's Batman from back in '89, and a world that came into being after that movie.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Batman, the Michael Keaton/ Kim Basinger/ Jack Nicholson-starring gothic caricature that changed the public's perception of superheroes in general. This isn't hyperbole - nothing was ever the same after this movie came out. You don't get an Iron Man or Avengers without Batman. You really don't get the idea out to the general public that comics have moved to a teens-and-up audience until you get breathless write-ups about the Batmania phenomenon. You also don't have piles of merchandise for adults with a superhero logo on it until Batman, or comics movie-related toys flying off the shelf.
But, mostly, you finally got people to stop thinking "Bam! Whap! Pow!" when they thought about superheroes.
Thursday, June 13, 2019
So, about halfway through the day yesterday the internet decided it was "Superman Day". I have no idea what for or why. Something to do with DC cashing in on the release of Man of Steel a few years back. Why this isn't a Saturday so stores can promote Superman and bring in kids and stuff, I can't imagine.
Get your act together, all of comics.
Whatever the reason, we'd feel remiss if we didn't raise a glass to our favorite fictional undocumented alien, the man of tomorrow, the ace of action, Big Blue himself: Superman.
Every once in a while over the years I've attempted to explain the appeal of Superman, but that's never gone over particularly well. Explaining why you like a fictional character feels like weird and dorky gushing, especially when discussing one who has seen hundreds of writers, dozens of interpretations, and who has been on the outs in popularity for more than thirty years.
Still, I'm a fan. I don't think this is a secret.
Maybe in this era of cultural division and splintering, featuring a low, dull tension that seems to be hang over us at all times, where we aren't sure what to believe in the news or from our elected leaders (or from other people who'd sure like to be a leader)... We know we're getting fleeced and we know there's plenty to come right back swinging if you push back... Maybe standing in relief against that backdrop, a guy who tells the truth, stands up for those who can't stand up for themselves, who can shrug off bullets and shackles of the injust but powerful as he moves through the world righting wrongs and helping the helpless... Maybe in this world a Superman who can pull open his shirt and appears in a blaze of primary colored action makes a lot more sense.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
I really didn't know what to expect when DC announced their second show in their DC Universe app exclusive line-up would be Doom Patrol. From the pictures shared, the comics would be roughly based on the late 1980's/ early-90's-era Grant Morrison-penned (with art by Richard Case, Doug Braithwaite, Scott Hanna, John Nyberg, Carlos Garzon) comics. But with a slightly different line-up, what with Rita Farr there front and center.
My initial exposure to Doom Patrol as a team was via issue #1 of this series - Morrison had come on in the mid-30's - written by Paul Kupperberg. Frankly, I'd been completely enamored with the first couple of issues (long since disappeared from my collection, even before The Purge). It was so weird and dark and uncomfortable - starting at a point where people were assembling, talking about a team that had preceded them had died. Badly. Somehow it felt more adult and frank than the way X-Men never seemed to quite exit high school.
Friday, May 24, 2019
At the end of last season, I'd kind of given up on the CW superhero shows. Maybe there was some residual guilt - after all, I no longer have that mania for all things comics I once did, and whenever I realize I no longer care about something comics-related, it makes me... kind of sad? That said - these days, there's so much superhero content out there, I long ago let go of watching *everything*, and now I'm lucky if I watch much of anything.*
I find a lot of network TV a chore - 22 episodes or so per year is a lot to watch in sheer time allotted. But, more than that, unless you're talking 30 minute sitcom or a show that's more episodic in nature, keeping the thread over twenty-two 45-minute chapters is a lot of narrative to keep track of. Frankly, it feels like it's too much for the writers a lot of the time on these shows, and by the time we'd get to the season finale, speaking especially of those CW superhero shows, it can feel like a tortured mess that you just want to see end more than you care about the events of the finale.
Anyway - after watching both The Flash and Supergirl for a few seasons, at the end of last year, Jamie and I decided to hang it up.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The kids today will never *quite* appreciate what Marvel pulled off, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with this week's mega-release of Avengers: Endgame. But, more than that, they'll never really understand what it was like to go from an era where you'd stay home on a Friday night to see a TV movie of the week starring David Hasslehoff as Nick Fury. Truly, any crumb of a glimpse of a live-action version of the comics you enjoyed was like a signal beamed from weirdo space and invading the lowest-common-denominator normalcy of broadcast TV. Any cinematic appearance of anything even superhero adjacent was a reason to trek to the movies (a habit I am just now breaking, pretty unsuccessfully).
These days every basic jerk out there tries to claim nerd status for just *liking* something other than sports and *admitting* they have something they enjoy (heads up! you cannot be a wine-nerd. You can be a vintner, wine enthusiast, sommelier or lush. Pick one. But a "wine nerd" is not a thing.). But in an era before Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a box office smash, and the internet gave us hidey-holes into which we all disappeared and Watchmen made the 100 Greatest Novels Since 1923 list... comics were for children. Or for nerds, losers, the mentally slow, the emotionally damaged, perverts and delinquents.
Movies might come out based on graphic novels or comics, and sometimes that source was acknowledged - but I grew up in the 1980's, and my comics habit made the adults around me visibly nervous.* Parents, teachers, etc... knew to be disapproving and angry about musical selections (thanks, Tipper!), but comics? What were we even doing?
Saturday, April 20, 2019
We re-watched Avengers: Infinity War (2019) not to blog or podcast it, but more as a refresher before heading into Endgame next week.
There's an incredible amount of good stuff in this movie, and as much as others are dumbfounded by Avengers pulling together a superhero team on screen, this is the one that I watch, dumbfounded. Getting people on the same screen is a matter of money and scheduling Getting a storyline to work across 20 movies over a decade while being purchased by Disney is... well, you try it.
Unlike most actual comic book superhero cross-overs - Infinity War actually works. Characters remain in character, everyone's arcs line up and get them here, and even in the small bits we see them, we understand who they are, where they're at, and how they fit in. If Hickman's Infinity failed to deliver, it was because it felt like a jumbled mess of heroes in costumes in non-descript locales performing meaningless tasks while shouting under fire with no real relation to who was saying what. Somehow, that is not what we have here. Everything is specific, even new places and characters.
Part of comics reading that, to this date, we never really saw translated to the big screen, is that sometimes our heroes lose, man. Even when they win the big battles, there's often fallout, sacrifice and calamity to deal with. Infinity War apparently freaked out a whole lot of people who don't read comics, who expect that reset to the status quo to wrap up the story every movie. But that's not what cross-overs are for, when done right (which is why every ten years is probably the right frequency for comics cross-overs of epic scale, Big 2 publishers..., not every year.)
Looking forward to Endgame and whatever's to come for the Marvel U
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Format: Alamo Mueller
Stuart's flight was canceled, grounding him in Austin til tomorrow and I was planning to see Hellboy (2019) at 7:20 with SimonUK, so world's collided this evening as SimonUK and Stuart met, sat on either side of me and then both proudly announced their fealty for director Neil Marshall. Truly, these two dudes are two peas in a pod.
So - yeah, I'd heard Hellboy was supposed to be terrible, which is a good place to set your gauge when watching the movie. It both earns the bad reviews and maybe defies them a bit.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Viewing: Unknown. 8th?
We get to the surprise hit of the Marvel Cinematice Universe, a story of a ragtag group of space losers, including a talking raccoon and tree. Honestly, it's just a fun time at the movies - and it's one of Jamie's favorites, so we're gonna talk about it. A lot.
"Hooked on a Feelin'" - Blue Swede, Guardians of the Galaxy OST
"Moonage Daydream" - David Bowie, Guardians of the Galaxy OST
Avengers Chronological Countdown w/ Jamie & Ryan
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
When I saw the first trailers for Shazam!(2019), I sort of died a little inside. The notion of a superhero who doesn't know how to superhero getting tips from a geek he doesn't really want to know on how to superhero as they go to the mall, pose for cameras, enjoy the fame but are still a selfish jerk despite the powers... it all seemed like something a 90's kids movie would do. Were it any character but Captain Marvel/ Shazam, it would have been the stuff of a TV movie of the week from the 1980's, upgraded to a $30 million film with JTT in 1996.
I'm not sure this movie isn't exactly that movie in 2019 terms, but if you're going to do it, this one is at least charming, and - for a superhero movie from DC - shockingly upbeat throughout. While the stakes are high, the scale of the movie remains contained, and I was surprised how much I missed a superhero movie that wasn't immediately going to end in genocide if the lead character failed in their duty.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Format: DC Universe Streaming
This week is becoming Steel-tastic as we return to a version of the Steel origin source material.
In 1992, DC Comics famously killed and resurrected Superman in a triptych of narrative arcs, , first downing him with Doomsday, then keeping Superman dead for a few months before bringing him back to save the day/ Earth.
It's a very 90's-tastic comic series, and your mileage will vary as you read it now.
Reign of the Supermen (2019) kinda sorta retells the story of the second two arcs post-Death of Superman as four new beings arrive on the global scene, all claiming some bit of Superman's legacy. From back in Ye Olden Comicks Days, this is where we got Steel, Superboy (Conner Kent), Cyborg Superman and The Eradicator. Surprisingly, over the years, these characters have endured unlike near any others spinning out of a major event, which is a testament to the solid core concepts each character embodied and how they fit into the DCU like puzzle pieces.
Friday, December 28, 2018
Thursday, November 29, 2018
I started reading All the Answers (2018) a couple of weeks ago, got ten pages in and realized that I wouldn't have time to read it cover to cover in one sitting, the way one generally wants to watch a film, and so I put away the book and picked it up again when I had uninterrupted time.
Written, researched, drawn and lived by Michael Kupperman, a cartoonist and artist I've followed for well over ten years at this point, the book is more than a minor pivot from a particular brand of humor comic that I would fail to capture here if I tried (and what is explaining a joke, anyway?) - this is also a biographical and autobiographical graphic novel. I believe Snake n' Bacon strips were my entree into Kupperman's work, followed by Tales Designed to Thrizzle - something that should be a staple in any comics-studies course. And, of course, Mark Twain's Autobiography, 1910-2010.
Monday, November 12, 2018
I am, like everyone, mourning the loss of Stan Lee who passed at age 95.
But. What a world we live in where everyone is mourning a comic book writer/ editor/ huckster! What an amazing guy we had with us for almost a full century!
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
The Invisible Mafia - Part 3
Script - Brian Michael Bendis
Art - Yanick Paquette
Colors - Nathan Fairbank
Letters - Josh Reed
Cover (main) - Patrick Gleason & Brad Anderson/ Cover (variant) - Francis Manapul
Associate Editor - Jessica Chen
Editor - Michael Cotton
Group Editor - Brian Cunningham
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Comics artist Norm Breyfogle has passed. Reported here by The Washington Post.
When I got into comics, like any 10 or eleven year-old, I didn't really know how they worked. I had no guidance, and no one was around to explain them to me. We had spinner racks at the grocery, shelves at drugs stores and 7-11, and however B. Dalton and Waldenbooks wrangled their comics that week.
Pretty quickly I went from just grabbing random comics to gravitating to Uncanny X-Men and Batman comics, especially once I figured out that I could get two Batman comics every month with Batman and the oddly named Detective Comics.
It was a hell of a time to get into comics. What was okay to do in art was changing fast.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
|variant cover by Amanda Conner, w/ colors by Paul Mounts|
The Killers of Krypton - Part Two
Script: Marc Andreyko
Pencils: Kevin Maguire
Inks: Sean Parsons
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: (main) Terry and Rachel Dodson/ (variant) Amanda Conner w/ Paul Mounts (colors)
Editor: Jessica Chen
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Monday, September 17, 2018
The Unity Saga: Part 3Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado & Oclair Albert (pp 12 - 13, 16-18)
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Josh Reed
Cover: Reis, Prado, Sinclair
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Michael Cotton
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Saturday, September 1, 2018
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: I dunno. Fifth? Sixth?
Jamie and Ryan watch the fourth Marvel Studios film, Thor! It's the first off-world excursion for Marvel, an introduction for a key Avenger, expansion of the MCU and a lot of set-ups for payoffs. And, of course, more handsome than any movie should be asked to handle. Some top flight talent joins some soon-to-be-household-names as adventure unfolds!
Get your audio episodes on the technology of your choice:
Thursday, August 30, 2018
The Invisible Mafia - Part 2Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Josh Reed
Cover: Gleason & Sanchez/ variant: Francis Manapul
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Michael Coen
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Team, I am fully onboard with what Gleason and Bendis are doing here in Action Comics.