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Avengers

Agent Carter

AgentCarter

agent-carter_612x816These days, I tend to gravitate far more to film than I do to TV. I just don’t watch that much anymore. Some of that has to do with the serialized nature of modern television as opposed to the stand-alone episodic format I grew up with. Having to sit down at the same time every week is difficult for me.

That may have been one of the reason Agents of SHIELD was such a challenge for me. I wasn’t invested and quite frankly, I kept forgetting that it was on, although I’d stop and watch it if I happened to find it while flipping channels  if it was near the beginning.

I’ve been aware of the hype behind Agent Carter but wasn’t really planning on watching it. It seemed like more of the same, and my attitude was the similar, that I would probably watch it if I happened across it while flipping channels.

Amazingly, that’s exactly what happened.

1371809295_Captain-America-The-First-Avenger

I urlreally like that this has such a firm connection to Captain America : the first Avenger. I remember spending a lot of the early day in SHIELD expecting it to feel more like a spin off of the Avengers, but it never really managed to feel like a proper sequel. In this show however, we see carter browsing that Steve rogers file that was shown at the end of the first Cap movie, and we even get a flashback to it. This is exactly the kind of payoff I wanted and it makes it feel very connected.

I love Howard Stark in this. I really wish we’d see more of him, but I suspect that’s not going to happen and that’s a shame really, even a mentor part – a bookend to the episodes would really work well for me. It’s my hope that if this series goes somewhere that he will become a regular member of the cast after his name is cleared.

There are nice touches here. I happen to love this era and I’m really focusing on that. Throughout the episode we hear bits of a Captain America radio play which is another one of those agent-carter-768great ties to the character, not to mention being a good juxtaposition between the perception of the agent – the Myth and the actual person. It’s not subtle by any means, but it fits, rather than the forced way Agents of SHIELD used to try and shoehorn a reference to “Gamma Radiation” or “Stark Industries” in every episode. Indeed, a lot of Agent Carter works in great part I thin, because the producers have better learned how to put a show like this together, and have a better feel for what the fans want, and how to tie it to the cinematic universe while grounding it for a broader audience.

If you like Agents of SHIELD, then It’s safe to say you’ll like this. They are both very much the same genre, while each having their own distinct personality and it’s interesting to see that Marvel is really developing their own sub-genres here, their own CSI franchise if you will.  While Agents of SHIELD wasn’t my thing, I do believe I will probably follow this one all the way to the end. The fact that there is an end helps for me, and I can more  easily make a commitment to seven episodes than I can to 22 and beyond.


Not what I expected

Marvel ClixSo the word came down that we were playing a pick up game over at Comics are Go! I figured cool, friendly game, get to try out the utility belt and thought I’d create a fun team out of some of my movie figures..throw Dark Knight batman with Avengers movie Cap and Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern.

Yeah, that’s not what they had in mind.

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So the guys start pulling out these GIANT figures and decide the game is going to be 1800 points….I’m looking at what I brought and didn’t think I even HAD 1800 points there (I didn’t. It was 1250. They loaned me a Giant Man and another high point figure to make up the difference.)

As the Fing Fang Foom duked it out with Dormmamau, I was tryign to sneak my SHIELD Agent over to the bat signal. He didn’t make it over there before the Preadator X’s in thrall to Dormmamau caught him and ripped him to shreads. No surprise there, he wasn’t a superhero, just human. Still, I have to think his reaction to the situation would probably go a little something like this….

colson copy


Top Five Marvel movie heros

Time for a top five list I think. The glut of comic book movies hasn’t slowed down yet, though the tone is changing (https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/the-future-of-comic-book-movies/) and I decided to think about who my favorite movie heros were. Not from DC, that’s way to narrow a playing field, even if you include the vertigo stuff. Marvel however, has been pushing out every possible character into this new movie universe of thiers, along with the unprecedented move of making it a definitively shared universe (as opposed to a suggested shared universe suchas the hints we get that movies like Soldier and Prometheus are in the same universe as Blade Runner or the tease in Predator 2 about being in the same universe with Aliens) with the Avengers.

Spider-Man2002PosterI was surprised to find a lot of these favorites would be mirrored by my favorite Marvel characters in general and quality of the films has little to do with it…..

Spider-Man

Specifically the Rami version. There were some problems here, I never liked the idea that every villain had to be related to Spidey somehow and I wasn’t always fond of Tobeys Peter Parker – on the other hand it was a perfect 60’s-70-‘s Peter (i preferred the 80’s – 90’s versions) but he made a perfect Spidey and the suit was the best we’ve seen. Andrew Garfield makes a better Peter, but that’s about all he’s got going for him.

2_midiThe Punisher

No real specific one. People like to drag Dolph Lundgren through the mud about this role and blame him largely for the failure of his Punisher film. I find that completely unfair, and pretty inaccurate. He dis a good job on the character in my opinion, probably a better job that  Ray Stevenson even. Really, I actually like all the actors to play this character equally, though if I had to pick one, it would be Thomas Jane simply because he had a better story to be in…..but that’s another whole blog post.

the avengers movie poster ironman tony stark robert downey jr marvel comics new official 2012Iron Man

This character is one I really enjoy DESPITE the movies. I’m not a fan of these films because there’s so little we see of Iron Man in the suit. I’ve complained endlessly about this elsewhere so i don’t need to rehash it here. On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr. inhabits the role. He’s perfect in it and actually, I think Avengers was this Iron Man’s finest hour. The character looks great on screen, and they consistently get him right. I just wish his solo movies were better.

Daredevil

215px-Daredevil_posterI think i’m one of the only people who actually like this movie. I really do, it’s on par with Tim Burton’s Batman to me. It has a similar feel, definitely a first movie, an introduction without getting mired down in an origin story. There’s a fascinating arch wit the character and they keep the tone dark and dirty as the best Daredevil comics are. Sure you can pan it because it’s an Affleck movie, but really, we don’t see much of him in it. He’s always hidden behind glasses or a mask. He dosen’t ACT like Ben Affleck either, no (well, few) T-Shirts and his attitude is kept in check – it’s actually a performance for a change and not him just playing well, Ben Affleck.

Wolverine

wolverinejackmannew3-thumb-504x800Obvious right? Not so much. If you know me, you know I don’t actually like Wolverine. His appeal baffles me. The key here is Hugh Jackman. Jackman has mad this character accessible to me somehow. He turned him into someone I’m actually interested in and that’s no mean trick, especially considering I didn’t enjoy most of the X-Men movies, in fact I never even bothered with First Class. I still have no love for him in the comics, and really didn’t want to put him on this list. Surely someone like Cap or Nick Fury was more deserving right? But when I come down to it, I found I really do like Jackmans Wolverine more than most other Marvel movie heroes.

Time to get back to work on Violent Blue. You know, I suspect that the characters in the strip would have very different lists  than I do too…..something to think about.


The future of Comic Book movies

So blockbuster season is firmly in  the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.

Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.

Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down  the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.

But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.

That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison. 

And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue

Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?


Hawkeye

Every now and then I’ll check in on series that I kind of like but am not reading. Avengers related titles are on the top of that list. When it’s good, it’s really good, but most of the time, I just don’t care.

I noticed the Hawkeye redesign. I’m really liking the look, which of course is a direct result of the look from the Avengers movie, which in turn is directly related to the Ultimate’s series ten years ago.  Yeah whatever.

I’m not a hater though. It’s a good look and fits with the modern design ethic. That’s not saying I don’t like the old costume. The purple and blue always worked for me. Somehow the pointed mask sold the tough guy feel of the character to me, and really, characters like Green Arrow and Shaft and Hawkeye NEED great costumes. It distracts us from  the fact that they’re just these guys with bow and arrows.

Hawkeye’s usually gotten more development than that, but I really like the direction they are taking, where anything he touches could be a weapon, and making him more a marksman like Bullseye or Deadshot. It works well for the character and the new costume fits that idea better. It’s got me interested enough to pick up the first couple of issues of his ongoing comic series.

Speaking of ongoing comic series, there’s new Violent Blue tomorrow. Hope to see you there!


Avengers at Warzone

Finally! I think it’s been a month since I got that Avengers starter set and I finally got to break them out last night at Warzone

I’ve been looking forward to playing these. I really like seeing toy based on  the movie costumes instead of the comic ones, it’s a nice alternative. I’ll probably be all over the Dark Knight ones that are out now too.

The thing I really liked about these though was that you could just grab the starter set and pretty much be done. Other than Nick Fury, all the characters I really wanted to get are represented here. You’ve pretty much got the whole team. 

The game last night required me to have a scientist, a robot and a monster, so I added Hulk Robot and the Hulk figure from the last wave (Seriously? No monster keyword on the AVM Hulk?). I also threw in Spidey and MJ to hit the point total. I hate 1000 point games. While MJ met a spectacular demise (Doppelganger Spider-Man literaly ripped through her to get to the figure behind her!) Spidey himself actually was my last man standing. Those super-Senses really do wonders….and there’ll be a comic up about that showdown eventually.

I think Cap did the most damage, though that was less skill and more about being in the right place at the right time. I’d also really like to know why Thor doesn’t have indomitable or at least Willpower on the first couple of clicks. Seriously. He’s a god. Two actions in a row shouldn’t be pushing.

I like big free for all games. We had four players on one map and I’m a fan of that format. I kept my team mostly together and picked off who I could, but mostly hung back and let a lot of the action just go on around me. By the end it was obvious Aaron was going to get first place so I made sure he was the one who killed my last couple of figures instead of Sam – it got me second.

What was really cool was getting that Nick Fury in the prize draw. Like I said, he was pretty much the only other Avenger I really wanted and everyone was considerate enough not to grab him first. I also scored a SHIELD Agent. I know he’s not Colson, but you know what? As far as I’m concerned, he’s close enough.

Considering I walked in to that game intending to get flattened because I was using a bunch of figures I’d never played before it turned out to be a really nice night. Probably won’t make it back to Warzone untill next month, but I might hit Infinite Monkey in a week or two to try out my Avengers again.

You know what? I feel like watching the Avengers movie while I work on some Violent Blue. See you tomorrow.


Avengers!

I think the guys over at th PC Repair on Wheels blog may be right.  The Avengers merchandising has gotten a little out of control.

Still, not often I get a post that hits the interests of both Steve and Taylor from Violent Blue huh?


I did finally manage to get out to the Avengers movie this weekend. I loaded up the girls and we hit the local Drive-in. Now if I wanted to be controversial or appear overly intellectual, I could say I didn’t like it. However, that’s not really true. It was a fun movie, and it was everything it promised to be. A big spectical  superhero action flick that finally combines different franchises in a huge mash-up. It was fun.

But that’s where it stops.

In spectical , it lives up to the hype. But there’s really no story there. There’s not much in the way of character development.  It’s just….meh. It’s a mindless action film – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ahhhnald made a career of that. Stallone isn’t far behind. I don’t object to the movie being a check-your-brain-at-the-door action flick. I object to people saying it’s the greatest film ever. My friend Jim mentioned that it ruined him for all other movies! That’s a GREAT line, but this film doesn’t deserve that kind of praise.

I think I get it. You see, this is the kind of film that most of us have waited our entire lives for. I’m not just taking about pop culture junkies or comic book fanboys either. Anyone who went to see Superman in the theatre and then came home and watched Wonder Woman and Batman on TV and wondered “Why can’t they put all of these guys in the same movie?”(and seriously, was there anyone who’s under forty right now that DIDN’T do that?)…this is the film you’ve been waiting your entire life for (possibly without even knowing it). Even if you grew up and haven’t thought about superheros in twenty or thirty years, a part of you remembers. That part of you is affected and we react on a visceral level.

The cool  thing about all of this is that it’s a good payoff. You get elements from the Iron Man films, the Thor and Cap movies and it almost feels like a reunion. It definitely gets the flavor of each of those franchises right, without short-changing any of them. If anything, I think it’s the best Iron Man movie of all. Joss Whedon understands something that Jon Favreau does NOT. If your going to make a movie about superheros…SHOW THE SUPERHEROS! Iron Man spent probably half of the film in his armor as opposed to the ten minuets he was in the suit cumitivly over the two Iron Man movies. I like that, and didn’t feel shortchanged at all with less Tony and more Iron Man.

I want to say that you just can’t go wrong with Cap, but a history of terrible Cap films obviously proves me wrong. Nevertheless this was a GREAT outing for him. The current handling of him has been really well done and it actually sent chills down my spine when he was diving out of the plane and telling the pilot about Thor “There’s only one God, and he doesn’t dress like that.”. Speaking of Thor, he was used well, and not overused as I feared he might be. looking at the heroclix set, he’s the most powerful piece and I was a little afraid that might be represented too much in the movie. It wasn’t and I’m very happy with that.

I asked my girls what their favorite character in the movie was. Maddie immediately piped up “Silly Hulk! Smashing that bad guy!”. I’m not a huge Hulk fan, at least in the movies. I got to admit this was a great use of him. I was really surprised at how well they managed to use him and make him a more sympathetic character. He probably had the biggest laughs of the entire movie.

All in all, it’s a good movie. It shouldn’t win any awards and I would not consider it a contender for the top five best Superhero films of all time, but it absolutely kept it’s promises and was a true pay off to the other Marvel films. I’ll be looking forward to part two. I bet the guys over at Violent Blue are too.


Didn’t I say sketchy?

Seriously. Did I call it with what I said about Cleveland Comic, Card & Nostalgia Show(Formerly Saturday’s Child).  Did I ever!

It was kind of like visiting the flea market, but with more Archies. So many Archies… I don’t really get the appeal – there’s better relationship and high school comics out there. But they were there at like, every booth!

So many Archies.

It wasn’t a complete waste of my time however. I found one of the Nightmare on Elm Street novels that were released around the time Freddy v. Jason was in theatres. These things had a single printing and were on the shelf of bookstores for about half an hour. They currently go on Amazon for 15-20 dollars used, and jump into the 100-150 dollar range new(ish). The one I got is one of the more common ones, but I got it for a dollar. I’m pleased. I plundered the quarter bins and even put up fifty cents apiece for some lovely Hellraiser issues (those prestige format editions Epic used to put out every six weeks in the very early 90’s) and filled some holes in my Green Hornet, Outsiders and bad Image collections. I even got a handfull of Avengers and a really fun Captian Americia from 1979 where he meets the Punisher. 50 Cents! Yes please.

Every booth was pretty much the same, : Silver Age, Golden Age, longbox after longbox.  A poster or two. Maybe a couple of toys and a discount bin. You either go to these things looking for something rare, or you go looking for cheap stuff (that’s me). I was fortunate to find both. The Freddy novel pretty much was worth the price of admission (which they had WRONG by the way. It was $3.00 not $4.00!) There were Door prizes every two hours or so, but honestly, I don’t see enough to keep someone occupied there long enough to collect one.  This wasn’t a convention. It was a  trade show. It woudln’t take much to turn it into a respectable con, a panal or two, a couple of local guests, how about just a projector playing superhero trailers on a screen in one corner of the room and a guy with a laptop playing DJ in the other. Throw in a Heroclix, magic or Rock Band tourny and you might have something here.

All in all, it wasn’t bad, but still I don’t think I’ll bother with any Jeff Harper Productions in the future.

Not uless they start promoting Violent Blue anyhow.


Avenging Cleveland

Hit the “Avenging Cleveland” Art show this weekend at the Pop Shop. This was an exhibit of Avengers (comic) related fine art. Had a really nice time with friends, even though the show was a little disappointing. Some interesting stuff there, but not enough original ideas.

Speaking of comics, there will be new Violent Blue on Monday