Television week of 3/24
First and foremost, can I say that I’m glad we got back to normal on The Mandalorian? I’m told that last week’s side quest was actually a follow up to something from Andor. That’s fine, I believe you. I didn’t bother watching Andor, so dropping it in the middle of the show really doesn’t quite work for me. I realized they did the same thing with Book of Boba Fett, but that’s a show that was in need of saving. The thing is, it doesn’t count as a crossover if you’re doing an entire episode of a different show. Cross the characters over, sure. Make it a part of the show, make it integral to the story, but don’t just drop an episode of a different show in between a couple bookends and called a crossover. It was annoying enough when they were doing this for back door pilots, it’s even less interesting now.
I’m actually glad to see we’re getting some character development. It’s amazing how much expression and character they can pull out of the Baby Yoda puppet. More importantly though, we’re actually getting some interesting character development from Bo Katan as well. I’m enjoying seeing where the series takes these characters, and I tell you, the amount of spirituality that we are constantly seeing from them makes me want to dabble in building a Bible study around it.
Character development was pretty front and center in most of my television last week actually. Star Trek Picard continues to move along at a pleasant pace. One of the highlights of this week’s episode is watching Jack Crusher and the Laforge girls mount a caper to steal a cloaking device for the Titan, off of a Klingon ship in the Federation museum. It’s just brilliant. I know people are hot and cold on Captain Shaw, but I’ll tell you this, I would totally watch a show with him , the Laforges, and Jack.
The most poignant moment in the show though, came about midway. Jack and Seven are looking out over the various ships in the fleet museum and his eyes fall on the Enterprise. The real one. NCC – 1701 – A. It is my favorite ship of all time, the best looking one, with the best crew and the best adventures. There’s just something about that ship… and to get to see new footage of it in a new episode of Star Trek… it’s something we never thought we’d get.
What’s important about this scene though, is that show runner Terry Matalas takes a moment to talk directly to the audience. You remember, I’ve pointed out multiple times, the moment that I left Star Trek. It was the episode of lower decks, and mariner tells the delegation on the ship “no no, I’m making fun of you, not with you. Even more so than listening to Michael Chabon talk about how he made certain decisions on the show to anger the “wrong kind of fans”, this one really got to me. This was the writers clearly telling their audience that they hated them. They didn’t respect them. You’re stupid and only worth making fun of. Matalas is doing the opposite here. Jack spends a few minutes describing how much he loves that ship. Seven cocks her head and looks at him curiously.
“I thought you weren’t a big fan of Starfleet?”
“Not of Starfleet, of starships.” He describes the clean lines and sheer beauty of the Constitution refit… an assessment that I can’t argue. It’s a touching moment, and a very powerful bit of writing. Indeed, it’s every bit as powerful as watching Doctor Who Time Crash and seeing David Tennant look at Peter Davison tell him “You were my Doctor.” Every bit as powerful as Jon Favreau bringing Luke Skywalker back for the last episode of The Mandalorian. All these things reassure you that you’re in good hands. That your on this ride with people who respect the material, maybe even loves it.
One last note that I couldn’t help but notice. Once in a blue moon, we’ll mention my fan series. Star Trek : Icarus Flight was a TNG era series set on a Constellation class starship that sprung out of our teenage RPG game nights. I did a few comics, mayn sketches and some student films for it. For my friends and those who know me, it’s as mucha part of the spin-off collection as Voyager or DS9. It even gets a couple of jokes making fun of it in Galaxy Quest (They qoute, word for word, one of our running gags, I kid you not). When they showed the museum, it was to my great shock and delight that I spotted my ship there. We now know the final home of the Icarus – there next to the USS New Jersey, the HMS Bounty and the USS Enterprise. Some people think it might be the Star Gazer, but nope. As far as I’m Concerned, it’s the Icarus. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. You’re not going to convince me otherwise)I couldn’t be more pleased and grateful.
The Flash was on break this week, but that’s OK, Superman and Lois was heavy enough for both shows. This is the episode that we discover Lois has cancer. Not pregnancy, not a strange alien illness, simple, aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. It’s devastating. Sure there’s other things going on in the episode. We see that ugly Mannheim is in the middle of some machinations, and working hard to cover up his involvement in creating super villains. We see Sarah convincing Nat to head over to Metropolis for a big party – place where she can meet guys, maybe even this universe’s version of the guy she was crushing on back in her own world! Jon Kent convinces Jordan to head to the same party for very much the same reasons. Talk to a girl. Try and get over this on again off again break up with Sarah. It’s all good stuff. It’s all fun. I’m still shocked at the kids don’t annoy me, but the truth is, all of it pales in comparison to this revelation of Lois being sick…. even if that plot point only takes up about five minutes of the show. It’s a tribute to just how good these actors are. Sure, there’s probably something to be said for my preexisting connection to the Superman family, but honestly, Elizabeth Tuloch has has embodied this role so well, she is absolutely the definitive Lois Lane for me. And every one of these actors are throwing down so hard, that I believe it. Never for a second do I doubt that this group of people are a family. As they come together around Lois, holding her and rallying to her, It’s far more powerful and emotional than any CW show deserves to be. It’s brilliant storytelling with characters that I genuinely am invested in.
Like I said, it was a heavy week for television. My Thursday was pretty emotional, and I sure I’m glad there’s new History’s Greatest Heists and Food That Built America to kind of shake it off a little bit and get me into a better mood before I hit work on Monday!
Last Week’s Pulls, Week of 3-1-23
I’d actually enjoyed Superman issue one so much that I thought I’d pop over and see what’s going on in Action Comics. Oh wait, there’s that super team that I wasn’t interested in…
It’s a difficult place to start too. I don’t know where a lot of these characters came from and it just seems like they’re all there, jumbled together. The book isn’t terribly accessible to new readers. Oh well, I wasn’t that interested in it anyway.
I also saw a new Spider Gwen series. I was hoping it would be a good jumping on point, but really, it’s just more of the same. I am so tired of the endless parade of derivatives that we’re getting out of the spiderverse. It almost seems like because Spider Gwen was a knock off herself, that the only people that she can hang out with are clones and other knock offs. Spider Gwen Octopus… Spider Gwen Sandman… it’s all really tiresome. Gwen herself was an interesting creation, but it seems like Marvel just doesn’t have any idea what to do with her right now, so it’s just variant after variant. I really would rather us just get back to good storytelling.
Can you tell it’s been an unsatisfying week? Even the Rogue and Gambit first issue was a little confusing. I’m always glad to see these two, and I do like the whole look that they’re giving Gambit now. It’s a little bit more simplified, but still evokes the classic costume. And Rogue flat out is in her nineties outfit… probably the best version of her costume we’ve ever seen. We’re definitely starting on a caper here, with The character Destiny sending them off on an adventure to go collect Manifold and rescue Lady Deathstrike… I think. Look, this one I’m still gonna ride out just because of a lifetime love of these characters, and we’ll just hope that things get clearer from here. I may go through and read this one again to try and get a better idea. The X books have been largely their on little fifedom for the last 10 years or so, but if this can shine on its own, I’m all for it.
I also decided to dip my toe in the glorious mess that is Barbarella. Look, I’ve seen the movie, I figured I knew what I was getting into… and, not so much. We arrive at the planet Barbarella’s traveling companion… a fluffy bunny sort of alien, where they’re having issues and hes trying to rescue them and…. it’s just weird. It starts off as generic sci-fi, then shifts into funny animal comedy, then morphs into a furry fantasy. The book is all over the place, but then again, this IS Barbarella. That’s probably par for the course. I’m not sure that I’m gonna keep on with this duck at that but it seems interesting enough for me the to want to drop in on it once in a while.
And then there’s The Human Target.
Remember when this series started? Remember how excited I was for it? Remember how much I loved that 1st issue? How on Earth did Tom King mess this up so badly?
I even forgot this thing was being published. I’ve said that a couple times now, and it continues to be true. I managed to grab the last issue, after having missed the past 4… and you know what? I don’t feel like I missed anything. Chance is dead, we’re wrapping up loose ends, and Ice is trying to prove that she’s a lot more hardcore and not so sweet anymore.
Here’s the thing. This particular series was way too long. I mean, there is not nearly enough story to stretch 12 issues plus an intermission… no wonder I lost interest. This thing should have gone 6 issues and out. But moreover, it’s missing everything that makes the Human Target attractive. That 1st issue had it. Christopher Chance in disguise, being the stuntman/bodyguard for The imperiled. We’ve got a good mystery starting off within the edges of the DC universe, “who tried to kill Lex Luthor”, and we’ve got some stakes. Chance has to find out in time to find the antidote to the poison and save his own life. This is good stuff. It’s a great setup. But we never actually get back to it. We get a few months of him romancing Ice, feeling sorry for himself, and drinking himself stupid. We don’t get any more costumes, we don’t really get a whole lot of actual investigation… it’s mostly just an excuse to deconstruct not only Christopher Chance, but the Justice League International is well. Who thought this was a good idea?
Look, I get that the JLI is not everyone’s cup of tea. Personally, I like the campy and jokey take… but I was never happy that it was the main, prime Justice League title. It always worked better when it was a backup idea… A mini series like “I can’t believe it’s not Justice league“, I’d rather see them as the super buddies than the JLA. But whatever else you want to say about them, it gave purpose to a lot of forgotten characters. It gave us a real revitalization for Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, both titles said it kind of fall in flat on their faces. It elevated fire and ice from backbencher’s, to recognizable b-listers. It gave Guy Gardner something to do then just be a reserve Green Lantern. It worked… and it worked because it didn’t take itself seriously. Because they wanted to grim superhero action. In fact, when they tried to play at straight in extreme Justice, it demonstrated just how much it didn’t work. And this is the team that you want to deconstruct?
Peter Milligan already did the deconstruction thing with Christopher Chance. He did it while telling mysteries and stories with a Vertigo flare, and he did it better. And you know what? I didn’t like it then either. You know what I DID like? The Human Target TV show. Both of them… not just the cheesy Rick Springfield one, but the serious bodyguard based 1 that we got in the early 2 thousands And that’s why I keep saying, This could have worked. I liked the whole hard boiled pulp detective take. I liked the fifties aquamarine noir take. If you’d given me a mystery and some distinctly human target action this way,… it really could have worked.
It’s astonishing how sour I got on this book over the year that they were publishing it.
Sorry, hopefully this week will get some better entertainment.
It wasn’t that I DIDN’T want to see it, I just didn’t care. Black Adam wasn’t really a priority for me to go see. I never understood why DC was trying to make him the next big thing back in 2005 when they were doing the whole “Villians United” bit. Still, You’ll know from my constant gushing over Stargirl that I’m a JSA fan with a strong connection to Golden Age heroes, so when a friend slipped the pass across my desk I was happy to hit the movie.
Flat out, Black Adam was one of the best superhero movie I’ve seen in YEARS. This thing is nonstop action, perfectly cast, I love everyone of these characters. I connect with all of them. I revel in their triumphs and gasp at their failure.
No heavy-handed messaging, but rather, it’s very true to what the characters are like, much to my surprise. I admit that I automatically dislike race swaps, It’s the laziest kind of virtue signal. In this case however, I kind of see why they decided to change Hawkman. Both he and Doctor Fate are portrayed as aristocratic fops. The races help differentiate teir look and I love the slightly Black Panther style African style to Carter’s civilian look. Aldis Hodge plays him perfectly neutral, but Pierce Brosnan is just amazing. Percfectly composed, heroic, with just the right amount of snark.
Also kind of funny, it feels like they’ve been listening to a lot of the complaints about the Marvel movies… And they are trying to give us everything we’ve been asking for a head of the marvel movies.“You want *that red* character? We’ll give them to you!” “X-Men? Sure we’ve got that! Come see our version! We’ve got a Storm and a plane in a hanger below the mansion and everything!” “Want a Doctor Strange that actually drives the action and does freaky heroic magic? Try out Doctor FATE!”
Of course we’re this far down into the review and I haven’t even mentioned the Rock – but that because he’s always solid. He’s channeling Dave Bautista’s Drax in this, but it’s fine. it works. It especially works because it almost feels like an ensemble, despite the production and promotion being star driven.
Seriously, I have no complaints. In fact, I’ll be dragging the kids out to this one when it comes out Friday!
Black Adam hits theaters October 21, 2022. Go see it. Seriously.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
The Snyder Cut to me feels like very much the same movie, but more of it. The episodic chapter breaks help, because this isn’t paced ANYTHING like a normal film.
Ever see that episode of Family Guy where Brian meets George RR Martin? There’s a line where Martin tells him “You just got high and slapped together a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy tropes!”
“You could tell I was on drugs when I made this????”Brian asked, shocked.
“Oh yeah,” Martian relies. “thing is, Drugs don’t make you write good, they just make you write LOTS.”
Special Director cuts are kinda thier own drug….
But like I said, It really helps (me anyhow) to see it broken up and almost presented as a mini series rather than a film. You can definitely see the path Snyder is taking. I will say this – it kept me watching, the whole time through. A five min pause here or there to hit the bathroom or refill my cup. Some chatting online with others watching it at the same time and jotting down my thoughts in a FB thread, but no real distractions. No painting and building a costume while I watched (I was going to finish the BvS helmet while I screened the film, but ended up never touching it), no fast forwarding, no folding laundry, no stopping it and picking up a couple hours later. It kept me engaged enough to do the whole thing in one shot.
I think my great frustration with justice league has very little to do with the Snyder cut itself, it’s that people didn’t give The theatrical cut more of a chance. I’m more than four years old. I remember the whole of fandom hating on Snyder, calling him a hack, saying he didn’t know what to do with these characters, and rejoicing (I mean it. Cheering and celebrating) when he left the DC movie scene. Those same people are calling this the greatest epic in….ever! A different movie! It makes me angry that Whedon’s cut was ever released! (all actual comments I’ve heard).
I didn’t hate the original. I thought it was fine… just not spectacular (which is really what everyone expects). The CG erasing Henry Cavill’s mustache never bothered me (I can’t even really see it unless it’s pointed out to me), and you know what? I still stand by my defense of the Martha moment and BvS as a whole. A lot of people who hated the original however, seem to love this one – which is what I find perplexing, because all the things I hear people saying they see in the Snyder cut, I saw in the original. Affleck is still an amazing Batman, Cyborg was always the heart of this team ( I didn’t even care about Cyborg in the run up to the movie. The actual theatrical film MADE me care about him because he was done so well)… And a brilliant representation of the character. The theatrical cut was still epic, still had tones of 300 in it. But I genuinely believe people went into the theatrical cut expecting and intending to hate it (in the wake of Batman versus superman) as well as comparing it to much better films. All the criticism that I saw though, too dark, mischaracterizations, overblown, it’s all still here in this Snyder cut. All the good, and all the bad from the theatrical cut. Clownfish TV made a good point – the Snyder cut is still a mess, just like the Whedon cut, it’s just that this mess makes a little more sense.
It’s not the praise for the Snyder cut the bothers me. It’s the trashing of the theatrical. Both have the same DNA and far more in common than difference. It’s kind of like the outsized praise Wonder Woman got. That’s a good movie. But it’s not the ultimate triumph it was lauded as (In equal parts because it was female led and directed, and because it was the first DC movie that was better than “okay”). It feels like the Snyder cut is being given outsized praise because of all the good will that went into getting it released, not necessarily because of the film’s merits in of themselves.
Steppenwolf is still a lame villain, and I got to say, I absolutely hate everything that they did with the apocalypse characters. I hate the design. But that’s nothing new, I hated it In the original one too. I also seriously do not care for CGI barbarian Darkseid….fortunately his appearance improves greatly later in the film. On of my friends objects to my characterization of Steppenwolf as a wierd choice for the villian.
“You obviously don’t know much about the Fourth World.”
I have a passing familiarity with it but no, I’m not steeped in the lore – and that’s kind of my point. If I’m not completely up on Kirby’s New Gods saga, the general public DEFINITELY isn’t! That’s what makes it an odd choice to me. Loki was a good choice for Avengers since he’d already appeared in Thor and was an integral part of his mythos (Like say, if Lex Luthor or the Joker were a villian in JLA). Steppenwolf though….The Projection Booth podcast had a good observation. Marvel took 20+ movies before they got into the crazy, out-there stuff like Thanos and infinity stones and gauntlets and such. DC gets four movies in and throws Jack Kirby’s wildest creations right at you. This is advanced DC lore, not the entry level stuff we should be seeing at this stage in the game.
As the movie went on, this thing just stopped dead in its tracks right in the middle while they come up with a backstory for cyborg and flash (I will say this about the flash, I agree with him… I too, am a black hole for snacks – a true snack hole). I understand they had to do that, because then established in the previous films, but man it just kills all momentum. I remember always being perplexed that they didn’t use the CW shows as a jumping off point. They already had a universe built, which would have made a great foundation here, even with the tonal difference. They also had a far less annoying Barry Allen. like there’s this scene when Barry was trying on different hats, and asking Aquaman what he thought, I really wanted to see Arthur just backhand him and tell him to get in the truck. I was also kind of waiting for them to say “run Barry run” just before he activated the mother box.
I really do like this version of Commissioner Gordon, and wish we had gotten More of it. (of course I really wanted more of everything with Affleck’s Batman!). However, this movie really does get laden down With having to produce an enormous amount of backstory. I can see why so much of this got cut. The episodic format here actually works in his favor with all this extra stuff. Definately a better ending yes, and I really needed more Darkseid. I’m glad we got him. But I think Batman’s always been done well in these (I don’t get why people never saw that before), and I honestly don’t see how flash and Cyborg got shortchanged in the theatrical or how they were better here, there was just more backstory – all of which ground the movie to a screeching halt and should have happened elsewhere. I’d also say the only difference between this Leto Joker and the other was the lack of tattoos and gold teeth. Yes, I realize that it’s tough to look past that misguided appearance and actually watch the performance, but that performance in JL was EXACTLY the same one I praised in Suicide Squad.
All of this brings me back to my original impression. This really is the same movie. just more of it. And by the way, that’s not an insult. All the way back at the beginning, remember, I said, I liked the theatrical. It was fine. This is too. But I still have all the problems that I did with the original – the darker tones, and the general feeling of “I waited all my life for a Justice League movie – it’s a shame, this dark and gritty version is the one we ended up getting”. Gary at Nerdrotic actually had a great take on this – in the tradition of DC, this is an Elseworlds story. And it’s a spectacular Elseworlds tale, an imaginary story much like the stack of injustice trades I’ve been reading lately, but it’s not what I’d prefer as the prime timeline. that would look a lot more like the CW shows, but without the Social Justice. Indeed, I remember looking forward to the arrowverse crossovers like World’s Finest even more than BvS or JL. I recall thinking, “This FEELS more like the real JLA than the movies – and isn’t that kind of a shame?”
I’m also not thrilled with where things would go. According to the Projection Booth podcast, Snyder is on record as saying the next installment would be the Knightmare film – Batman would have fallen in love with Lois Lane, but would be unable to sacrifice himself for her and she dies at the hands of Darkseid, causing the dictator like Superman we see in the dreams. The next film would be him trying to turn back time and set things back to normal. That’s right. It gets darker. That’s not really what I wanted.
but at the same time being glad just to get it and being especially glad that for once, the film industry heard the cries of the fans, and finally gave them what they wanted.
The Sandman Presents : Love Street
The Sandman was really the lynchpin of Vertigo in the early days, though we all knew it had a set expiration date. Neil Gaiman had said as much almost from the beginning. When it ended, Vertigo replaced it with the Dreaming, which had it’s moments but never quite captured the wonderful horror edged fantasy that Gaiman had set just inside the borders of the DCU. It was trying to hard to be the Sandman, whereas the Sandman never tried to be anything. It just was.
They also did a bunch of The Sandman Presents mini-series. most have a similar problem, but Love Street stands apart, likely because of the heavy Hellblazer influence. Many of the Dreaming characters are here, but John Constintine really anchors this piece which starts with him as a lad in the 60’s and then fast forewards into the present.
You can skip most of the Sandman sequals, but definitely check into this one for a fun mystic mystery and perhaps a better look at everyone favorite hellblazer.
Superheroes vs the Cleveland Pops
Summer is almost over and this weekend here in my hometown of Elyria there was a free concert by Cleveland Pops.
And a bunch of Superheroes.
The city coordinated the Orchestra’s visit with a local volunteer group called Superheroes to Kids in Ohio who work with kids in hospitals and terminally ill patients. They introduced sets and worked the crowd as the orchestra played selections from superhero films such as Avengers, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man. There was even a Frozen set.
This was a good time, in the middle of the city, surrounded by superheros, with the orchestral score playing in the background and fireworks in the sky. It’s also EXACTLY the sort of thing Elyria needs more of.
Happy Labor Day.
By the way, even though it’s Labor Day there IS still a new Violent Blue up today!
As I mentioned yesterday, we did the Halloween Comicfest over at Carol and John’s Comic shop.
Like on Free Comic book Day, publishers release special editions with the Halloween Comic Fest logo on them and these are distributed for free at participating retailers. It’s a way to especially get kids into comic shops these days. I’m still plowing my way through the stack of free comics I got, along with a couple I bought while I was there (I hate just showing up, grabbing the free stuff and leaving. Same as on Free comic book day, we make it a point to buy SOMETHING – even if just a couple issues from the quarter bin or dollar boxes), but here are some of my favorites so far….
Batman : Lil’Gotham.
I really haven’t been into this series. I suppose it’s fair to say it’s not aimed at me. Even worse, Damien is still alive in it and I hat him with such passion it’s unreasonable. There’s also something just ….wrong about cute gothamites. Batman villains just aren’t supposed to be…chibi.
This has some great moments in it though. Damien being completely unfamiliar with trick or treating so he goes and attacks kids in costumes….
it works as a fun kids book and was naturally one of the centerpieces of this years selections.
There was a My Little Pony book this year. I actually made a point to get to the comic shop kind of early In the day just to make sure I could snag this for my girls. Bronys are unpredictable and I could have easily seen this one getting sold out before we could manage to get in the shop. Thankfully, not only did both of my girls get a copy, I even got one myself. It’s a reprint of one of the stories form earlier this year, but it’s a good bit of the story and nicely scary – appropriate for Halloween.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only pony book out there this year.
Another book called “Vamplets” was out with a kind of “Ghostly Pony” look to it. I almost missed the thing entirely until Maddie pointed it out to me. This and the My Little Pony books are bothe mini comics – about half the size of a normal one. Ashcans we used to call them. A lot of the kids stuff was set up this way. Still, fun books and perfect for Halloween.
Next up is Art Baltazar’s new book. I know, I keep gravitating towards the kids stuff, but Ity bitty Hellboy is just not to be missed. I really loved Tiny Titians, and this is just more of the same only with different characters. In fact, I’m not always into Hellboy that much, but this book was too much fun for words.
I did get through the Thor issue they had available and would actually really like to hear someone else comment on it. I’m not a big fan of Thor in the first place – he appeal has always mystified me, and lately a lot of his titles really seem to emphasize the elements of him that I really don’t like in the first place- most notably the big dumb football player personality with the big chin and no neck….and this issue is no exception. It sets up a new story arc about someone or something who is going around the cosmos killing small “g” gods. It’s an interesting enough concept, but with no investment in the character and a general dislike for beings who refer to themselves as gods or pantheon mythology in general this one really didn’t do a whole lot for me. Sorry guys. Like I said, I’d love to hear someone who’s a Thor fan chime in on this one. If I find something elsewhere, I may reblog it.
My last pick from the pack was Ultimate Spider-Man. This isn’t the actually Ultimate Spidey as in the Ultimate universe, or the Bendis run, this is more based on the cartoon that Disney and Marvel are currently running. I’ve watched it with my kids, it’s okay, and a good attempt to bring Spidey in to the Avenger’s universe. The book is divided into two features, beginning with an origin story, told as Spidey fights off the Shocker. Meh. The second feature where Spidey is shadowing an LMD of Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury is much more fun. Inside are also a couple of one page gags where they’ve taken a page from the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics and redone the text pull things completely out of context. A really fun book.
Carl and John’s went the extra mile as well, also handing out candy and bookmarks and buttons (with Itty Bitty Hellboy on them). I’m really enjoying Halloweenfest, and I love that it makes Free Comic Book Day come twice a year now!
Really, the utility belt is a cool fun idea, but when you can slap that thing on anyone, it gets a little weird….especially when it can copy just about any powers imaginable. Jessie was playing his Man Thing out of the ASM set with the utility belt, copying the Power Cosmic. This is what immediately came to my mind :
Not exactly a convention this weekend, but still an event. We had hoped to get out to the event at the Akron library, but knew we couldn’t hit both that and Superman Day at Carol and Johns. It’s jut to much driving. So we went with the closer one.
Superman is very special to me. You may notice in Violent Blue that Taylor is always wearing a Superman shirt in the comic shop and occasionally around the house. Superman has been my hero since I was a child watching suprfriends on Saturday morning and teh old George Reeves shows with my father. When I rediscovered comics in my teens, Superman was one of the first ones I picked up and what really drew me into the genre. There’s something just special about Superman. He does teh right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. Not out of revenge, like batman, not out of guilt, like Spider-Man, not because he’s bored like Iron Man. There’s no other hero who has that kind of purity. I think that’s soemthing we genuinely need. An aspiration figure like that, and that’s prehaps why he’s always been my favorite hero.
The girls and I got ready. There’s a bit of a problem when you have two little girls and only one Supergirl outfit…we ended up making one for Lydia with what we had available. I grabbed Maddie’s cape from her She-Ra costume, and the boots from her Supergirl costume (she wore her She-Ra boots instead) and put those on Lydia. Then I printed out Superman shields (with clear contact paper over them so they didn’t get ruined in the rain) and added them to the cape and her top. Finally I printed out a yellow strip of paper with a small “S” shield for the belt which I tucked into Lydia’s belt loops on her skirt.
After the endless lines and outages on Free Comic book Day I decided we should arrive a little early. We got ther about twenty minuets early and the lines were already begining to dform, thoguh not nearly as long as FCBD. We found ourselves about one door down from the shop’s entrance. That line would form behind us as the clock ticked down to noon and by the time we entered, it was about 2/3’s down the block.
Knowing the attention span of my children, I brought us something to do while we waited. Maddie and I sat down on the sidewalk and played UNO with Superman cards. Lydia wasn’t in the mood to play, but as we sat, guys fro the shop came by and loaded us up with comics and she took one of those to read while we watched to the store’s 12:00 opening.
Carol and John’s loaded the girls up with stuff; comics, superman cookies and a special commemorative coin they had made up just for the occasion. As the gentleman came by with the box of coins and handed them each one their eyes little up and they each breathed a soft “woooow.”. the coins fascinated them, like a treasure coin just for showing up in costume.
Once inside we were treated to Superman cartoons on the TV and coloring pages for the girls. I let them each grab something out of the Superman back issue box. In the side room, there were large fats set up displaying variant covers that local artists had done for Action 18. The girls each got a bunch of raffle tickets and entered in drawing s for their favorite covers.
All in all it was a really nice event. Carol and John’s is a particuarly family friendly store so I like taking my girls there, even thoguh it’s a little far away. While I’m sure there will be some Batman anniversary relate thing going on next year, it just won’t be the same as a Superman party!
Girls coloring in the back!
The girls loved the stickers in the window
Look what we got!
Jimmy Olsen and Perry White
You know, Batman has practically his whole supporting cast made into clix at this point – between the Batman sets and the Dark Knight sets we’ve gotten Dkck Grayson, Oracle, Bruce Waynes, Gordons and Harvy Bullock….heck, there’s TWO Alfreds AND two Lucias Foxs! Spidey has a MJ a Jonah and a Norman Osborne (all that’s missing really is Harry and Aunt May) but Superman…..not much really. We only now got a Lois Lane (a regular one in business attire) in the recent Man of Steel set….and that’s it.
It irritates me because Superman has a strong supporting cast that’s instantly recognizable and fairly integral to the story….and it’s comprised of ordinary people like Perry White and Jimmy Olson. That’s not as common in comics as it once was. These are potentially good figures, especially if you do a silver age influence. Jimmy was turning into something weird every other week back then. At the very least you could go elastic lad and turtle boy with an alter ego figure.
In any event, I find myself tired of waiting so I finally got around to modding a couple of figures. I took an intergang underboss and stuck him on JJJ’s base for Perry White. It seems to me that they would have similar stats, but for the rule lawyers who might object, I’ve attached the bystander token to the bottom of the piece and printed it out as a card so it can be played that way.
Jimmy on the other hand is a John Jameson base, repainted with the bystander token and card as well. I’m not trying to mod one of those oreo bases. Too hard. I think I have an extra Plastic man though, and may try an elastic lad at some point. If that happens, I’ll move him to a different base and perhaps create some AE stats for him.
Seriously though, look at this. How cool is it to see the whole gang there? Honestly WizKids. It’s not that hard.
Trinity of Sin
I had the dubious honor of playing in a game against the Trinity of Sin this weekend over at Comics are Go!. The game actually turned out to be a three way game, and for the most part, it was two teams trying to take down the Trinity.
What’s the worst thing about playing against the Trinity? It’s not the massive 16 click dial. It’s not even the tough 19 defense it starts out with. It’s not even the occasional poison trait. That only comes up occasionally, when Pandora’s face shows up on the dial. No, the worst part of this thing is the horrifying feedback damage from the mystics keyword. Instead of the normal one click, if you keep all your figures on the team base, you take two clicks of damage every time you make a successful attack.
Big Mike came in fast and hard with some heavy hitters, hoping to knock down that damage before the feedback destroyed him. I had a similar idea and really thought long and hard about adding the FCBD Thor to my team. He starts off with a 5 damage and an 11 attack. The problem is, even if he hurdles that 19 defense, he only gets one hit at 5 damage and that’s a charge. Not only is that feedback going to knock his damage down to 4, but he’s also stuck being poisoned knocking him down even further, not to mention being in the line of fire for anyone using pulse wave – a go-to power for dealing with Mystics.
I think Pulse Wave could have worked here actually, but so slowly with that one damage at a time trying to chip away at that deep dial. I pulled my Composite Superman and played him at the 80 point level, then pushed him one click where he goes into Pulse wave fro a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, I deployed him badly, then got distracted trying to pick up a Kurreth’s Hammer and got based, then blasted.
My main strategy for dealing with the Trinity ended up being Blackheart. He’s a hefty piece, but he’s a mystic too, and any time he takes damage it would feedback on the Trinity- a good start.
The main reason I choose Blackheart though, was his pets. He comes with two detachable gargoyles. When he uses his power of Dark Thunder, a gargoyle detaches and becomes a bystander with it’s own attack and defense and movement. When it’s KOed, it returns to the Blackheart base where it can be summoned again. I barely moved Black heart all game – in fact the only time he moved is when the red Gargoyle TKed him away from Trinity (on Mike’s suggestion – thanks!). I kept pulling up the gargoyles, placing them in front of Blackheart to protect him from ranged, then the red one would TK the blue one over to Trinity where it would attack. Trinity would then have to destroy it or take poison – taking one of Trinity’s actions. If there was no blue, the red one would make a ranged attack while Blackheart generated another blue one. My allies on the other side would perlex down that massive 19 defense to make it more manageable and I’d keep hitting, which would destroy the gargoyle but never give damage to Blackheart who would just pop another out. It chipped away at the Trinity dial while he was mopping up the other team.
It was fairly effective. We got the dial down to click 11, and I know I couldn’t have done that on my own. That’s why I said it was nice to play this as a three way game. It gave us both a chance. Still, that Trinity of Sin is a monster piece.
I did find one thing cute. Every time I’d detach the gargoyles, they don’t stand well on their own. They would topple over and I would just lay them on their side. When I’d TK the blue one over to Trinity, I’d lean it up by Phantom Stranger and say it was nuzzling him. If you can’t beat ’em, annoy them!
Okay, now that you’ve read that comic, head over to Violent Blue. We’ve got a new strip up today and meet us back here tomorrow!
Jokers hideout map
Ages ago when I was first creating Heroclix maps, on of the first ones I ever did was this half size Joker’s Hideout map that I got from The Absorbsacon’s site. I did a couple from there and really liked them.
Time passed, I was more busy with Violent Blue, not playing as much and I put the map away. Then, not too long ago I went down to grab it to setup a huge HC world, and it had vanished. I ended up rebuilding it, with some new touches.
First we start with the base. Layer two pieces of foam for height (we’ll need that height when we do the stairs)
Cut notches on one side which will be the front stairs. The back end is layered a bit to fit the second half of the base more tightly.
With the base created, we next need to glue the actual print out of the map on to the top of that foam surface.
Let the edges hang over a bit a cut two lines in those stairs. We’ll trim that back in a while. In the front, we fold the stairs a couple of times to give a staggered look.
The next step will be to glue the sides on the bottom and under the edges.
Pinch the corners so they overlap and support each other. These are made out of card stock and printed on both sides.
I also printed out a second set of stairs because once folded, we’ll need just a bit more length. That’s one long piece of paper glued under the unit. Finally, glue the whole thing on a base (can be cardboard, I used some thin foam).
I added some columns to hide the seams, and a few extras to complete the look. The columns are all mis-matched, which is perfectly appropriate for the Joker. More 3d elements than previously, and the walls are now brick, with purple painted brick inside. It’s set to look like they just moved in and painted the bare walls.
Ready to play!
Yes those ARE Weeping Angels behind Harley there…..(customs I made)
Injustice : Gods Amoung Us
I went out of my way to read all the Injustice series as they were putting out the comics (tie-in). It was enough to get me to really pay attention to the game when it came out.
It’s been a bit, so most people have had more than enough time to play it and get to know the game. It’s the kind of game that appeals to me because I really don’t have to think too hard about it. It’s a fighter that I can drop in and out of real quickly. my girls love fighting games too and a superhero fighting game with Daddy is just one of their favorite things ever.
One of the other things that makes it so noticeable is that it’s a DC game. Good DC games are few and far between. Marvel still cranks them out with regularity (though not quite as often as I remember them doing in my Genesis days) but DC seems to have problems making anything that doesn’t have the words “Batman” or “Arkham” really work outside the comics.
The new costumes are neat, and not something I’m going to get up in arms about. It’s an HD video game, they want some more grain and texture on them. I’m not expecting exact duplicates of what we see in the comics- though I will say the Injustice comic prequel really did better jobs on the costumes. In fact, I prefer the Injustice comic version of Superman’s costume to the New 52 version even. I’m not digging the shape of Batman’s mask and evil Flash looks downright silly – still Flash can be a hard costume to get right. The lightning motif keeps it right on the edge of cool or lame as it is, and it doesn’t take much to push it all the way to silly.
The Flash TV show got it right. The JLA pilot….not so much.
Another interesting thing about the look – while Lex Luthor does don the armor occasionally, he spends most of the game looking like Lex Luthor : CEO of Lexcorp. I LOVE that. Even more interesting to me is that they seem to have patterned his face after Bruce Willis. Maybe that’s just me, but seriously, other than those eyebrows….
The other thing about the game that’s very standout is the Joker. He’s actually a playable character at one point in the game, and that’s unique in of itself. It’s not Mark Hamil though, and believe me, he is missed. This isn’t Richard Epcar’s first time out as the Joker – he previously did the voice in DC vs. Mortal Kombat. You can see right away he’s doing something very similar to Hamil, and that’s cool. There are a lot of moments, every few sentences where you hear an inflection that tells you it’s not Hamil, but considering how long he did it, this is to be expected. I think it’s really col that they are trying to keep a similar style, instead of going a completely different direction. The Joker has some of the best lines in the game – “Why does she hate Pancakes?” was one of my favorites.
When we come down to it, my only real problem with the game is simple : We’ve seen this story before. Justice league or JLA from alternate universe is evil and good JLA has to defeat them. It’s been done a hundred times- heck, it’s even been done before in the game world. Remember Justice League task force for Genesis and Super NES? Still, it’s a very minor gripe. After all, this is a fighting game, and the storyline, while derivative, is well done. Far better done than I would expect coming from a video game anyhow.
The replay is alright, though I’m not sure how often I’ll return to it. I can’t see myself going through story mode again, and I don’t really have the stick-to-itness to unlock all the characters, but standard Vs mode is always around for a quick pick up and go when I’m not drawing Violent Blue…. in fact, I think I hear Superman calling my name right now!
Video Game Parents
A question has been occurring to me lately.
It first came to mind when Maddie and I were playing Gauntlet on the M.A.M.E. cabinet on night. Maddie frequently asks to play games with me on the rebuilt arcade machine, mostly the Marvel vs. DC M.U.G.E.N. game, but also things like Marble Madness or Crusin’.
This night she had asked for a co-op game, especially one with a princess. Gauntlet seemed to be the best solution and we played through dozens of levels.
The next time the question came to mind was when I was playing a game of Heroclix over at Comics are Go! in Sheffield. I had brought out some of my custom objects to play with the game pieces – an old 7-Up machine, a cigarette vendor and an X-Men 4 player arcade cabinet. We were talking about how dumb it was that no one ever ported this game over to any platform of the day or even to PC-CD (Though I’m told it’s finally available for ps3. Is that correct?) I mentioned that my daughter and I had played through the entire thing on my M.A.M.E cabinet.
So what’s the question? Here it is.
Are we the first generation of parents to use video games to bond with our kids?
It’s a devilishly simple question….and not as straightforward as it seems.
Sure parents probably played some video games with their kids, but how often? How did it fit into their relationship? It’s still a reasonably new medium thought that’s getting easier and easier to forget. One of the developers in the documentary “Indie Game” pointed out that this generation – people born around/after 1975-1980 grew up with games as a normal part of their life. It wasn’t a novelty, it wasn’t an occasional activity, just popping a quarter in if you happened to be at the pizza parlor or something. We had Atari’s and Nintendos and probably played a little bit on most days.
When we first got an Atari 2600, my parents played a little bit with me, but the novelty soon wore off for them and they moved on. For the most part, I played games alone or occasionally with friends. I imagine that was the case with most kids. Some dads here and there would get addicted to Zelda or Mario and perhaps they would take turns, but those are really single player experiences, not bonding games. The documentary “The Ecstasy of Order” describes a couple of families where they would competitively play Tetris, but again, one at a time, posting the score on a whiteboard or refrigerator.
Here’s the thing. I’m not a gamer. Not in the least. If you really stretch the definition, you might be able to label me as a retrogamer (one of the reasons I made Steve in Violent Blue one – at least that way I can know a little more about what I’m talking about). I enjoy classic games, and archive as many as I cam using emulators. I have a paticular love of old arcade games up through the 32-bit era. They tend to be short and the M.A.M.E. cabinet gives me unlimited virtual quarters and that’s a good thing because more often than not, I don’t have the patience to finish a game. I complete a game on my PC or DS approximately once every year or two. The last one I did was the new version of Y’s ….and that doesn’t exactly count since it’s just a rehash of the game I beat on my Sega Master System twenty years ago. I’m pretty sure I will beat the Spirit Camera game Amy got me, but even that three hour game has stretched out for months!
When I was a teenager I played every day, as an adult, I play games once a week or less…which brings me back to my point : NOT a gamer.
Having kids kind of changed that. I play more often now, because when they ask to play a game with me, I don’t want to say no. They won’t always be around to play games with me. When I built the M.A.M.E cabinet, I intentionally built in two controllers because I knew my kids would be playing games on it some day. Maddie and Lydia race against me in Mario Kart on our DS’s and pass around the tablet for the Hungry Shark game. We fight on Marvel vs. DC and on the old Capcom games, we co-op on Magic Sword. We play on the Genesis hooked up in the Livingroom (although those games actually don’t look that great on the HD TV) and Maddie has discovered she likes Scorpion best in Mortal Kombat.
Video games with Daddy has always been a part of their lives.
Last Week’s Pulls
Okay, I tried to do one of these earlier in the week, this time we’ll see if I can get through it without getting distracted!
First up is the new Green Hornet book. This is a good re-introduction. It’s a self-contained story with a good resolution, though we get one page at the end that suggests this will be part of a lager arc to come. It’s not only a good jumping on point if you’re already intrigued, it’s also a good sampling issue for folks who aren’t familiar with the Green Hornet but might have been recommended. It’s got everything that makes the character great. We’re back in the 30’s, and that’s cool. While I do think that the Hornet lends itself better to modern updates than other characters like The Shadow. Back in the NOW day, they really ran with it and I loved what they did. Dynamites wasn’t bad, they incorporated some very good ideas like adding the Motorcycle and the mechanic, but I never completely warmed up to the costume and things just never quite fell into place. I’m not bothered by it going away. The whole Green Hornet : year one series had been far better done anyhow. the art was beautiful, moody and dark, much like the Bendis era of Daredevil, and it suited what they were doing with the character.
Speaking of Year one series, I did try out The Shadow : year one. It was pretty much what I expected…..it’s an origin story and that just rubs me the wrong way. I think one of the strengths of The Shadow is that he doesn’t have an Origin. Of course it’s possible that this is just one of his misdirections. After all, we have three other distinct origins – the One from Chaykn’s 80’s series, the Shamballa origin. This however contradicts the origin from the ’95 film, and neither really meshes with the one presented at the end of the 90’s series “The Shadow Strikes”. However, in that story, the Shadow does acknowledge, “One day I might tell you the story of Shamballah” suggesting that all of his potential origins are fake stories. That’s cool. I can deal with that, but if that’s t he case, i’m not going to waste my time on stories that don’t really develop the character because they’re misdirections.
I’m not complaining about this mind you – having a Shadow Year One series just shows that Dynamite is willing to exploit the license to it’s fullest. That was my biggest problem with Dark Horse when they had the character, they never put out any material. A couple of mini-series. A one shot. A team up. That’s about it. At least when DC had the Shadow, they were putting out a title every month. Dynamite has my enthusiasm because they are running two Shadow series simultaneously, not to mention specials, annuals and the team-up book Masks, which continues to be the most exciting crossover of my lifetime (getting a little crowded though. I’d rather see more Shadow and Green Hornet, and les Ms. Fury and Black Terror). This is nothing but good news, and the further we get away from the Ennis series, the better The Shadow has been. He’s fighting a lot more masked villains lately though and that feels a little unusual. It’s taking some getting used to, but it’s not a bad thing inherently. NOW managed to make that look good when they were doing the Green Hornet in the 80’s and 90’s, but then again, at that time period EVERYONE was wearing masks and spandex and armor….not so much in 2013. Still, it’s a fun book and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
Not a lot has changed in t he last few months. The DCU is still practacly unreadable to me, I just don’t recognize these characters anymore. Grifter is losing his title, which was one of the only new 52 ones I was keeping up with. We caught my impressions of the bat titles earlier this weeks so let’s move on to Doctor Who.
I started back up on these based on the high recommendation from my friend Don Smith. The art has improved since the Tennant series, I recognize all of the characters this time. My impression of the stories themselves however have just been……meh. It’s not bad. It really isn’t. It’s just not great….it’s not even as good as the TV series (and that’s a fair criticism. There are tons of Star Trek comics that I could point to that are superior to a bunch of the shows or films). Average isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not usually enough to keep me following it. This issue features the return of the Vash’narada (from silence in the library) but it really feels like I’ve seen all of this before.
On the other hand, IDW is also publishing the 40th anniversary series “Prisoners in Time”. This is featuring all of the previous Doctors in order. I skimmed the issues with one and two. I’ve just never liked those incarnations. I can sometimes enjoy Hartnell in the Target novilizations, and Trouton was fine in the two Doctors, but really they both just irritate me, and I’ve never understood why Trouton is the favorite Doctor for so many of the actors that came later.
This issue hwever…..this is the one featuring Jon Pertwee. The third Doctor. MY Doctor. He has always been my favorite, always been the one I think of as the REAL Doctor, and I’ve never seen him portrayed better in the comics.
There really aren’t that many comics featuring him in the first place and most of the ones that do exist are standard newspaper comic strip kind of art. He’s never gotten the dynamic Image Comics kind of treatment that the modern Doctors peroidiclly enjoy. I loved the art in this. It’s stylalized, kinetic and modern. Even better, it features Sarah Jane Smith as his companion (My favorite of the Thrid Doctor’s companions. Funny, I still think of her more as Pertwee’s companion than Baker’s) and they’ve got Liz Shaw back as well . Nowere to be found is that dolt Jo Grant, but the Brigidier is here as well and the story is very much an action one. I really love this piece.
There were more pulls last week, things like Red Team, which is a good series, especially if you’re a fan of procedurals like Law and Order or Criminal Minds- it deals with a group of cops turning vigilante, but I suspect there’s a bigger picture going on here. All Star- Western is another great idea series, and it seems to get better. Some people have criticized it for taking place in western era Gotham, but I’ve actually been enjoying some of that and throwing Vandal Savage in there fighting against Jonah Hex was a good idea. Still it’s another average book , and hard to generate a lot of enthusiasm about. Finally there’s Justice League Dark and Constantine. I think the whole issue with John Constantine deserves some further examination – I may revisit that once we’re a few issues into the new series. JLD on the other hand – this is a really interesting series….and too interesting to survive. I expect cancellation any day. We’ll see. For now, I’m heading off to do some Violent Blue. See you tomorrow.
This started off as a last week’s pulls article, but I quickly found myself off-track. You see, I’ve been reading a lot of the Batman titles lately. The Requiem storyline caught me a little off guard, but let’s face it – I’m not reading this because it’s great storytelling, I’m reading it to make sure the little creep is really dead.
The truth is, I’ve wanted Damien gone for a good long time, but really I didn’t want him dead so much as I wanted him to never have existed. Damien gives me problems. It’s not just the age thing, though four (or five) Robins in, it makes it a little difficult to believe Bruce Wayne is in his late 20’s or early 30’s. It also makes it seem like he has a Robin for a cruelly short period, six months to a year and then discards them. All of these are problems Damien creates or exacerbates. There is however, a much bigger issue here.
I see what they are going for here. Bruce lost a Robin and he’s sad and things will never be the same….and that worked really well.
When Jason Todd died it was shocking, and the repercussions of that event reverberated over the decades. That case with Jason’s uniform in it? We first saw that in “The Dark Knight Returns” years before this happened. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy and that Frank Miller had the foresight to see this might happen sooner or later was chilling. Batman really never WAS the same. the idea that Robin could die was unthinkable and it changed the way he operated. When Tim Drake became Robin he noted “Everything Bruce has done is to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to me that happened to Jason”.
You could really argue that Jason’s death wasn’t Batman’s fault. You could equally argue that it was indeed his responsibility. Either way, you could forgive him.
In 2012/13 this doesn’t work the same way – not with Damien. We’ve seen it before…in fact, we’ve seen it to many times. Damien is the THIRD Robin to die. You can’t debate this any more – putting a kid in that suit after two or three other deaths, that’s tantamount to child abuse. It’s reckless endangerment. DC has played the dead Robin card too many times to the point that if you give any thought to it, Batman is reflected badly.
I’d argue something similar when Stephanie Brown put on the Robin costume. It was even more insulting then because she was just tossed in to that story line to be thrown away. It cheapened the mantle. The fact that Jason Todd is back (Steph too for that matter, though I haven’t actually seen her around much in the new 52 so she’s easier to ignore) essentially invalidated twenty years of pathos generated by his death.
Killing off Damien doesn’t fix this. It just muddies the water further.
With Jason, I and a lot of other folks transferred a lot of our affections from Dick to him. He was a little annoying, but it was actually a cool idea that someone else could step into the role of Robin. The problem of course, was he felt a little TOO contrived, too much like Dick and when they went back to retcon him, they actually made things worse. Jason’s greatest contribution to the Batman storyline was his death. He became an honest-to-God martyr.
Damien never had my affection from the word go. It’s like Morrison went out of his way to make him unlikable. I never got the chemistry he was supposed to have with Dick (perhaps I would have bought into it more if we didn’t all know Bruce would be Batman again in a year or so….done as an Elseworlds story this might have worked better). It felt forced, like they were trying to hard to recreate the relationship Dick had with Tim.
Moreover, I missed Tim. I really do wish they hadn’t aged him. He was far more interesting at 14 than he was at 19 (in fact, in Teen Titans, he does look a little younger again, but not quite young enough – Robin always worked better for me at Jr. high age). I knew from his introduction Damien was going to become Robin and I was fairly certain he was going to be killed off as well. None of this ever worked for me. It just didn’t.
They could have fixed this. If Damien had ceased to exist in the new 52, I would have been the happiest boy in the world. I could have dealt with Dick back in the Robin suit even (though I would expect him to be back to Nightwing soon). The way they choose to handle this feels very wrong to me….and I’m not sure where Batman goes from here.
I think I’ll go work on some Violent Blue and think about how I would fix this.
Last Week’s Pulls
First and foremost, can we talk about Phantom Stranger?
This book is driving me completely around the bend. I mean it. It’s crazy frustrating. The whole secret Identity thing is just infuriating…oh you didn’t know about that? John Constantine sure does.
Yep. By day, loving suburban father. By night, dark avenging spirit of Judas. I just want to rip what’s left of my hair out. I’ve pointed out before that what is really intriguing (or used to be at least) was this sense of mystery about the Stranger. Dude, it’s BUILT INTO HIS NAME. But he’s anything but a Stranger anymore. Seriously, we know everything about him. He’s Judas, cursed to walk the earth and untill he does enough good to make the thirty pieces of silver around his neck vanish, so these days he’s playing mystic superhero in the new 52 universe, complete with secret identity. Thank you DC for completely sucking everything cool (that is to say – the mystery and slight detachment from humanity) out of this character. It’s really a shame too, because you have great scenes in this book like this one below –
How cool would that have been if we DIDN’T actually know anything about the stranger? Sure, provide a writers bible so the writers know his origins, and can write this kind of stuff into the story, but don’t just lay it out spread eagle in front of the readers….ugh. This book frustrates me so much. Especially with stunning scenes like this:
Superman is just as frustrating. I saw this cover and thought “I may have to get me some of that”. I’m not sure what I was hoping for., I was kind of thinking Metallo. Reading through, they are calling the character “Triple X”. I’m not sure who that is ment to be…is he original to the new 52? Could he be a version of Doctor Double X (one of those characters you probably only know about if you read the Who’s Who comics religiously)? I was even wondering if he was supposed to be a different version of an old Superman villain called NRG X. I know he appeared in the modern age at least once, though I haven’t tracked that story down, but he’s significant to me because he’s in one of the first Superman comics I can ever remember reading. I think I may still have a physical copy of this somewhere, I know I have a digital one.
Anyhow, even after reading the book I’m still confused. I can see they are tryign to do a myxtlplick story and I also see they are really trying to amp up his sinister. Don’t like it.
Tried something different this week. I found a book called Repossessed. It’s a kind of Fringe thing I guess. A team of officially sanctioned exorcists, and hilarity ensues. It’s smartly written and entertaining. I get that kind of “John Dies at the End” or Fringe vibe off of it and I’m hooked. I’ll definitely be picking this up again next month. They have a website you might want to check out :
I really am digging it and hope the series stays as entertaining as the first chapter.
Speaking of entertaining, I’m still with Dial H. That kind of surprises me because can’t see this series go on indefinitely and I’m not really attached to any of the characters but it’s got me curious enough to keep reading. This issues dialed hero was hilarious by the way. “Flame War” who’s insults turn into fire. So he says that blouse makes you look fat, and you shirt catches on fire. Fun stuff. There’s some sort of black ops team stalking our dialers though, and I’m curious to see where that leads. I’ll probably grab it at least one more month….if I see it and remember to.
Shadowman is still impressing me. We’re only three issues in, but what I see in this title is that it’s really trying to develop it’s own identity. It’s still grown on the back of the name’s goodwill, but it really is feeling more and more of it’s own series. There’s a LOT of the Akklaim influence with a heavier (and more traditional )voodoo storyline and a big sequence set in Deadside (something we never really saw in the Valiant version). The character is spookier than it used to be. I kind of miss the straightforward feel the Valiant one had, but the spooky one works too. Really loving the scythe. I thought I’d have to wait out the first six issues to really get a handle on this series and whether or not I like it. It’s connected with me really early and I really dig that. I’m so glad this title is back, right next to my Green Hornet, Lone Ranger and Shadow. I never figured I’d be an indy man (I expected to be a DC fan all my life. Thanks new 52).
Finally, there’s Youngblood. Youngblood has been consistently entertaining, and this stays with that. We get minimal character development (but it IS there) and a lot of pretty pictures and fun storytelling. The real Shaft is back, still in a FBI suit, and cooperating with the team (kind of) on the mystery of the murdered Vogues from different time periods. I get the impression that Terrel will come back as Shaft eventually and I’m a little disappointed about that I think. I really am liking “Not-Shaft” (as the team calls him). There’s a teaser in the back of this book that shows Terrel’s Shaft back in action along with Badrock. I suspect the next issue or two are going to be flashback to finally explain why Badrock has been in that coma on that hospital bed since the series relaunched. I do hope to see Badrock back soon, but only if they write him correctly. He was always the most fun part of the team.
And with that, I’ve got to get back to Violent Blue comics. Head over to the site and check out today’s post!
Last Weeks Pulls
This week I dipped my toe in a bunch of titles that I haven’t been reading in a long time. The problem with doing this however, is you can feel like you just walked into the middle of a story and end up quite lost.
Spawn manages the feat of making me feel like I’m in the middle of a story I don’t quite understand while at the same time feeding me more of the same old same old. It’s more “Who do you work for????” “Jason Wynn!” “Wynn’s coming for you!” Chains, power countdown timer, menace. I’ve seen all of t his before. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since Spawn has been cutting edge. The most revolutionary thing they’ve done in the 21st century was to change the identity of the title character from Al Simmons to ….I don’t even know his name. Perhaps if I cared more….
On the plus side though, this has spectacular art. It’s very similar to Tim Bradstreet, very much like the dark noir look of the best modern Daredevil stories. Last week I mentioned that Jerry Ordway was one of my favorite artists. I’ve always favored a more realistic look to the dynamic, hyper stylized feel of a Liefield or McFarline drawing. This works really well. I’d love to see this guy do a Hellblazer or a Hellraiser.
Army of Darkness is always a fun title, but you have to understand, this series has strayed miles from the movies. That makes it easy to feel lost. The thing is though, they haven’t really done any world building. This isn’t a tight continuity. They seem afraid to move far from the established characters and continuity of the films, so we just wander from situation to situation without ever really creating a narrative.
When a female Ash arrived at the cabin (now floating in another dimension, at a causal nexus of some sort), I was really hoping they were making an attempt to integrate the new Evil Dead movie into this series. It would have been a smart move and all this talk of multiverses seemed to point that way. The cliffhanger makes it clear that it’s not.
Finally there was Hawken : Genesis. Despite the fact that there are several gamers in my Violent Blue comic, I’m not one. I built myself a Pac Man Machine and decided I never had to buy another platform.
The point being, I had no idea this was based on a video game. It’s a great idea though. The art is stunning and the concepts are fascinating. I can absolutely see how this would completely flesh out a game world. These are very short stories, about half the size of a regular comic, but well worth it if you can track them down. I ended up having to go online to find the previous entry in the series.
I also grabbed Extermination. This really seemed like just indie superhero fare, but seemed to get a little dramatic towards the end. I haven’t read enough of this series (this was the first time I’d noticed it) to know if it had earned that kind of theme. I think I’m too lazy to go back and find previous issues though.
I happen to love Sherlock Holmes. My grandmother introduced me to the character when I was a child, but I only really started to appreciate him when I was a teenager and rediscovering it in reading class. I wasn’t this comic to be good. i really do. It has a beginning and and ending t hat both catch you, but the middle of this book just slogs on. It’s part one of a story so you almost want to give it some slack, but it just doesn’t keep my attention enough and the art in it is awful. Technically good drawing I suppose but it completely misses the soul of the characters and the era. I’m just not into it. I will probably get the second part of this, but it better get real good real quick or I’ll be dropping it.
Speaking of dropping, I think I’m done with new Valiant’s Bloodshot for a while. It’s not a bad book, it just isn’t my thing. I didn’t really get way into the original series and that may be having an effect on me. Archer and Armstrong on the other hand, continues to be a fun ride and genuinely better than it’s predecessors. I like how they are trying to ease some world building into this series by introducing the Eternal Warrior and t he idea of the Geomancer in through this series – and it’s the perfect place for it. Armstrong always put me off a bit in the old Valiant, but I like him quite a bit in this incarnation. Maybe it’s the hair or the better dress sense. I don’t know.
The Green Hornet on the other hand….I do believe they have the shark in their rear view mirror, having jumped it about the time Britt jr and Mulan Kato started gettin’ busy. Now with an attack on the home base…I know these are all classic comic book tropes, but this series is only like, two years old. Isn’t it a bit early to be hitting these cliches already? I like some of the extra elements they’ve come up with and the expanded cast, and I’ll keep reading as long as it runs, but I don’t think I’ll really miss it when it’s gone.
I saw there was a new Crow series out and thought I’d give that one a try for old time’s sake.
Why do I keep doing that to myself?
Actually the idea of a Crow at a death camp in Nazi Germany isn’t a bad one, but it’s just not enough for me to care. This concept has gotten so watered down over the years, it almost seems like anyone who dies violently comes back as a crow. I half expect batman’s parents to come back as the Crow!
Grifter is still a good series. I’ve heard this one is getting cancelled and that really does make me a little sad. I’m liking it and really enjoying the newer take on the character. This issue has him facing the Suicide Squad which is pretty much just flat out fan service aimed directly at me….or it would be if it were a Suicide Squad I recognized. Still, it’s actually a better handling of most of those characters than I’ve been seeing in thier own book. I love how he describes them : “Everyone in t he squad is dangerous.They’re Black Ops criminals with nothing to lose”. I’ve never really heard them referd to in that manner before and I love it. This story also establishes a prior working relationship between Grifter and (the new 52 character who isn’t anything remotely like) Amanda Waller. This particular comment alone is enough reason to get this book.
I miss fat, middle-age Amanda Waller. I totally believed that character WAY more than I do with this young, slim imposter.
Anyhow. Can I talk about She-Ra now?
First and foremost, we don’t see She-Ra in this series, we don’t get the entire Secret of the Sword treatment either, but rather we get just before that. This character and series is apparently going to be intergrated into DC’s MOTU series eventually and I can’t wait.
It’s itneresting, they address something I had felt for years – Adora’s costume. In t his she is still aHorde Force Captian, just like in Secret of the Sword. However, in that cartoon, she was wearing the same Adora costume that she wore for the rest of the series (which is fine. I get limited animation and all of that). Essentially a jacket and a nice confy cotten shirt. Everyone else in teh Horde wore armor and bats and sigils and she just didn’t fit. This changes that… and her horde armor is stunning, not to mention the name : Despara. Just great stuff. She fits in better with the Horde here, rather than coming off like a princess wandering through the halls of evil treading on rose petals all the way….now, she looks evil. Moreover, when she takes that helmet off….she looks damaged. You can see the brainwashing in her eyes, the chopped hair just adds to it all. I love this.
When we open, it mentions that we are on Etheria – in the dark dimension of Despondos. That tells me that we aren’t throwing out all of the previous continuity from the failed MYP series in 2002, and that’s a good thing. While there were elements I really didn’t like about that series (most notably the designs for He-Man and the Sorceress) That series worked very hard to add some mythology to this world that had never been as well developed as it’s contemporaries in Transformers and GI Joe. It added a great deal to the MOTU story and I had feared most of that would have been thrown right out the window since that series was now out of favor.
That was in fact, enough of a boost for me to finally crack open that copy of the Origin of Skeletor I’d had laying a round for months.
Seriously. We’d gotten what I thought a spectacular origin for him in the MYP series and I was heartbroken that someone was going to come in and just re-write it. It turns out they didn’t exactly re-write it after all.
This story explores Skeletor’s past. Yes, we knew he was actually Randor’s brother Keldor. We had even expected that he was really his half-brother. And we see him treated as the Half-brother by his parents. Always out of favor, always passed over. Interestingly ( and heartbreakingly) enough, Randor is the one standing up for him. He is perhaps the only person ever to really love Keldor. Interesting but predictable. We probably could have guessed most of this.
What no one ever considered before, was that Keldor was the older brother.
Seriously. This changes everything.
Before, he was just some megalomaniac. He was just a James Bond villian who wanted to take over the world. Now….he’s the elder. He has a legitimate claim to the throne….perhaps even a more legitimate claim than Randor. His madness is what now makes him unfit to rule, but before losing his face and submitting to Hordak’s magic and apprenticeship?
This is a whole new dynamic. It took the MYP series to make this into a generational story. DC has taken it and turned it into a generational drama. I love this. I haven’t been this excited about MOTU in a very long time and it’s just great.
That wraps up this week. Christmas is coming. I hope you all survive it…I’m going to go look for He-Man shaped presents under the tree.
Last week’s pulls
First and foremost, I’m SO dropping Bloodstrike, right now. Right this minuet. Bloodstrike was never cutting edge, throught provoking entertainment. It was at best, a cool shoot-em-up, big pretty fights with lots of lens flares and cross hatching, a very Image kind of book. It was fun and every issue that I’ve pulled out of the twenty five cent bins has been totally worth the quarter (or dime in some cases) that I have paid for it. This relaunched version, as I have stated previously, has taken anything that made the series fun and discarded it, what you’re left with is less than a soap opera. This panel alone is a good enough reason for me to drop this book and never look back. Actually the stars on her eyes instead of a mask are a good enough reason for me to drop this series and never look back. This book is becoming everything people make fun of in comic books.
I’m not so sure about Dial H. I’ve got a soft spot for comics that use characters or concepts I remember from reading the old ’85-’86 Who’s Who DC put out. I can see they are trying to build a mythology and it’s actually not a bad one, I’m just not sure it’s enough to hold my attention long enough to get where they are going. I got it last month too and I may stick around for one more issue.
I picked up Human Bomb solely on the strength of Jerry Ordway’s art. He’s always been one of my favorite artists, all the way back to his work on All Star Squadron. He defines what Superman should look like to me. So I’m always willing to gamble on a new title if he’s attached, but this one didn’t grab me exactly. I think I needed to see more story here, we get introduced to one of the construction workers building the new World Trade Center at Ground Zero, and he runs into an old army buddy from Iraq who turns out to be a Human Time Bomb, but out hero manages to absorb the blast….we find out there’s some connection to S.H.A.D.E……I’m a little lost. It wasn’t a good enough introduction to hook me. Pass on the rest of the series.
What I really want to talk about though…is Shadowman.
With the return of Valiant, I was extremely excited about a relaunched Shadowman. The Acclaim version was always unsatisfying, and in the two or three years it limped along it revamped itself three times. It was a poor decision to radically change the series the way Acclaim did, but that was less a creative decision than a business one to get Acclaim out of paying off some contracts….yadda yadda yadda. The final incarnation, with Shadowman being a kind of Voodoo hit man was possibly the best realized, but the series ended unfinished. Then again, I suppose you could make the same argument about the original series which intentionally ended on a cliffhanger in issue 43 (Which by the way, confused me for years. I can’t tell you how long I searched for issue 44.)
This version is a lot more like the Valiant one. Jack Boniface is the Shadowman again, though his backstory is different. He’s a museum curator rather than a musician and the Shadowman is now a family legacy. I can see the new Valiant borrowing many of the best elements from classic Valiant and Acclaim Valient to create a whole new concept. The hellish Deadside idea is still in play, as is the Shadowman’s ability to travel between worlds. Shadowman however is more a superhero again, with the idea that the loa affects, even takes over your personality during the night hours being ramped up. I have to admit, I don’t dig the mask, but I am enjoying the series so far and I’m eager to see where it goes. Let’s revisit this one after we’ve gotten six issue out huh?
Speaking of comics, there’s a new Violent Blue today. Head on over and check it out!
Oh. My. God.
Look what I just got! (If you happened to hear a loud scream coming from the Cleveland area this morning, that was me.)
The Akron Comicon was a pleasant surprise. I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I drove the hour long trip to Akron. I checked the website earlier in the day and was disappointed to see P.Craig Russel had canceled, but otherwise everyone seemed to be scheduled to still show up. So I took the day off from Violent Blue, donned my Shadow costume and off I went.
I had a hard time find the parking the FB page recommended, but was just as happy to park on a side street and walk the block to the show. My cloak flowed in the wind and that always puts me in a good mood.
It was a smaller space than I expected, but it was used with extreme efficiency. Almost immediately I was approached by a fellow who asked If I’d like to do an interview about my favorite comics and why I was at the con today. It pays to wear a costume! I don’t usually cosplay at horror cons because I want to look normal for photo ops, but comic cons are different.
I got in a surprisingly short line for Gerry Conway, the man who created the Punisher and wrote the death of Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Man comic series. After taking their pictures with me, the guys in line behind me and I started to chat a bit. They showed me some beautiful reprints they were getting signed. Then on of them pulled out his copy of Spidy 120 – the issue before Gwen dies. I smiled and pulled out 121, and they nearly plotzed. IT was a good feeling. I related the story behind how I got that and the Punisher origin story (you can find it back here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/new-old-comics/ ) and they speculated on what these might be worth in the condition they are in. I was told I had at least a couple of hundred dollars in my backpack, but I wasn’t sure. These werent in great condition. They also pointed out that autographs don;t always increase value. That was something new to me, but in the end, I really wanted Gerry to sign them.
When I got to the front of the line I flopped them down on the table and re told the story to Gerry who handled then with a remarkably gentle touch. He seemed to revere them almost as much as the fans behind me, advising me “You have some really expensive comics here.” He then mentioned with a smile, “these are worth more money than I was paid to write them!”
I popped over to a couple of other tables, and got to see Mike W. Barr who wrote my favorite series of Star Trek for DC. I’m not so much a TOS person or a TNG person as I am a DC comics-movie timeline person. That’s real Star Trek for me. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Batman and the Outsiders #1 for me and chat a bit about Jim Aparo. Jim defines the look of Batman for me and I always remember Denny O’ Niel saying how brilliant he was. Mike agreed with these statements and related a story to me about the one and only time he heard Jim complain; “It was a crossover with the Teen Titians and there were some supervillians on the cover too. He finished it and then looked at me and asked ‘They aren’t ALL going to be like this one are they?'”
It seemed like I was getting through all the lines really quickly….untill I hit Norm Breyfogels line. Now I understand he IS a bigger name, but honestly, Gerry Conways line wasn’t this long! Of course people weren’t asking him to sign entire runs of his work either. I know the sign says “No Limit” but seriously? Dropping a stack of fifty or a hundred comics to be autographed is just the lamest of fanboy behavior. Yes dude. I’m calling you out. You ARE the bad guy here and Norm was a saint to put up with you.
I attended a few of the panels, These could have been better, but were perfectly fine for a first year con. There was a fun moment during one panel on how comics are made. The presenter was using an slide show that he had already prepared for other seminars and it began with the question and definition of “What are Comics?”
“I think if youre here at this show, everyone probably already knows the answer to this one.” He topped for a moment. “Well, maybe not the guy dressed as the Shadow, but the rest of you I’m sure…” I had no comeback ready for this, but someone else did. From the audience I head a voice shout out “oh, the Shadow KNOWS!”
Lots of fun cosplayers, and a LOT of Doctor Who, including the cutest little Doctor costume I’ve ever seen on a baby. Not as many sales as I would have like to have seen though and very little in the way of film, bootlegs or rare. I would have expected at least something like the corman FF or the JLA pilot, or even Mockingbird lane. Oh well, perhaps next year.
And from what I heard, the con was successful enough to guarantee there WILL be a next year, and it totally deserves it. I’ll expect more next year, but for now, I had a blast at this years show!
If you’re not sure exactly what is going on, check out this week’s Violent Blue.
The Spider-Man costume is real. What happend is we were given a box of custumes for the girls, and someone threw in an adult Spider-Man costume for me. No mask or gloves, but not a big deal.
Except I was broke.
So I was looking at this Spider-Man costume and trying to figure out what to do with it. I had a costume party coming up and wanted to wear it, but the mask and gloves were a problem. I considered doing the mask in facepaint, but my hair would still be showing. I don’t currently have a bald cap and it just looks band anyhow. I could do a Marvel Zombie, but to be comic accurate, I need a torn up mask. I don’t have an intact Spidey mask, much less a torn one.
Zombies still seemed like a good idea. I was thinking about the “Blackest Night” event DC had done in the Green Lantern comics a year ago. Those zombies weren’t just dead people, the black lantern rings kind of took them and turned them into gruesomely distorted versions of themselves. I came up with the idea of etching the spider web on my face and creating dark circles around my eyes in the shape of his goggles from the mask, then adding my black lantern ring to explain the lack of gloves.
I like it. The makeup was crazy long – over two hours. I could probably chalk that up to me trying out some new techniques. The cuts are cotten, colored with fake blood and the edges cleaned up with flesh tone greaspaint. A little black in there too to dirty it up and make it look infected. I could probably do it quicker now. I also added a little pink to the skin where the cuts join to add some trauma. Over all, I think it works well, and I like the idea of a costume that is in of itself a crossover. I like the idea though, that Taylor is wearing to to cause trouble. I used to wear Doctor Who costumes to Star Trek conventions for that EXACT SAME REASON!
Head on over to see this week’s Halloween hijinks at Violent Blue!
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?
Last week’s pulls
You know what? Green Lantern just pisses me right off. I did catch up on the series, and it started off alright. It actually has had some great moments and I was kind of excited for the return of Black Hand, but then we fall right back into this mulit-colored lantern corps dreck. I don’t care about any color lantern but green and that’s really what I’m waiting for. On the plus side though, Hal is slowly beginning to feel more and more familiar to me again. I guess after seven or eight years, he ought to be.
I’m glad I’m still with the Shadow. Issue five has a lot more of what I really like about the character, though I’d still prefer to see him back in New York. A lot of action and atmosphere in this one. I think however, the most exciting part of this issue was the advertisement for “Masks” – Dynamites crossover event using all these Golden age pulp heroes like the Green Hornet, the Shadow and the Spider. I’m going to be all over this series. The Shadow / Doc Savage crossover from DC in the 90’s was a bit disappointing, and I’ve never gotten my hands on the Shadow / Ghost one from Dark Horse. It seems like a tough sell, crossing over the Shadow….well actually, it’s an easy SELL, but rather a tough thing to execute correctly. Still, with an Alex Ross fully painted first issue… you just can’t go wrong here.
My first impressions of the New Star Trek : The Next Generation series is overwhelmingly positive. I love that it’s the Borg, and I love that it’s TNG movie period – in fact it’s post-movie period. Riker is captain of the Titan and Data is still dead. I’ve always believed that this is the best period to focus on because there’s so little material for it. I always believed the same of the original series. It was one of the reasons I enjoyed DC’s comic series and one of the reasons I think the current IDW series focusing on the tangent universe is an extremely good idea.
The only problem I see with the Star Trek : Hive series is the feeling I’ve seen it all before. The first issue is half “Scorpion” from Voyager and “The Worst of Both Worlds” from the DC TNG run. I’m hoping I get more out of the rest of the series. Still, it’s nice to be back in the TNG movie period and I’m definitely following this run.
Finally, I dipped my toe once again into DC’s zero issues. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Seriously. Why? I picked up Phantom Stranger, and get this : It’s an origin story.
See, the thing about the Phantom stranger, especially in the modern age is his mystery. We’re not sure where he came from or why he is what he is. That is a huge component of the characters mythos and appeal. Not only do we get a clear-cut, well defined origin for him, we also get one for the Spectre. DC! Pay attention! Not every question requires an answer! To Quote Neil Gaimen from one of his Sandman stories “I keep TELLING you: It’s the MYSTERY that endures, NOT the explanation. A good mystery can last for EVER. The mysterious corpse has a magic all its own. Nobody really CARES who-done-it. They’ll peck you to pieces if you tell them” And that DC, is why I keep kevetching. That’s what you’ve messed up, and if you keep messing this kind of elementary stuff up, the fans and I will absolutely peck you to pieces. Someone, please wake up and revert us out of this new 52 nightmare.
I’m going to go read some Violent Blue.
Catching up on comics (part three)
A while back I did a Violent Blue strip where i mentioned that The Lone Ranger from Dynamite comics was one of the best books being published. That’s still true, even though I’ve missed a bunch of issues. They restarted the numbering after the hiatus and it’s thrown me off, but “Hard Country” was a perfect example of everything I love about this book. The Ranger is more established in these stories now, and his reputation precedes him. That makes him a little more familiar to the reader as well. We’re past the learning curve arcs. “Hard Country” is a set of mostly self contained stories with a two parter on the back end. It’s a great place to jump on for folks who haven’t been reading the book and if you haven’t I really recommend that you do.
This book is the first time I’ve seen someone get the Lone Ranger right….the first time I’ve seen it since the TV series in the 50’s. That’s a lot of water under the bridge huh? The problem over the years has been that every writer wants to deconstruct him, and reimagined his relationship with Tonto in a way that’s more politically correct – even adversarial. No one wants to see that. The Lone Ranger is like Superman. We want a pure, noble hero. dynamite gives us that, while at the same time expanding the mythos. They have given us more to look at, a better understanding of where the silver bullets come from, how The ranger relates to his lost brother’s wife, how he lives and a bit more depth to the characterization. They do this all without trying to drag him down. I love these books.
The “Death of Zorro” series has been surprisingly great as well. It didn’t necessarily have to be. Crossing over The Lone Ranger and Zorro was going to sell books one way or another, but the ideas they have presented here work well. It’s particularly interesting to see the Ranger’s father in this series and how he was helped by Zorro. I’m still missing the last two issues of that series, but I’m comfortable singing it’s praises as it is.
Suicide Squad is another story altogether. I was excited about this book coming back as a regular series. Hopeful even. There’s enough of a fan base I think, to keep it afloat if DC really puts some effort into it. And that’s where we find our problem.
Remember last week when I was complaining about Image’s Bloodstrike? How they stripped it of everything that made it fun? Much the same is happening here. One of the things that has always made Suicide Squad interesting is the bureaucracy. It’s always been a part of the book, even during that brief run by Keith Giffen that everyone seems to have disowned. The bureaucracy was INTERESTING. It was years before we’d see it become the norm in the 90’s Image books. It was new and different. Interesting to see Waller as the liaison dealing with the psychiatrists, the prison Warden, and guards and the Chaplin. Interesting to see the intrigue as she deals with Washington politicians and intelligence. Fascinating to explore the relationships between the normal people and the super powered convicts. All of this has been stripped. It’s pretty much Waller as the only symbol of authority. The only “good guy” in the room.
That’s another problem. The Suicide Squad as it existed in ’88 consisted of both heroes and villains. The heroes were perhaps a bit shady, Bronze Tiger being a reformed villain and Vixen being a bit of an outcast. But it provided a better balance. The villains, were by and large, sociopathic. Really bad folks. They were familiar names; Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Poisen Ivy, Count Vertigo, Doctor Light. Characters you’d seen beaten in other titles but never given any real character development. Before, they were merely foils. In John Ostrander’s hands, they became truly scary, and you realized they didn’t have a sense of right or wrong. THAT’s what made them evil. Not robbing banks or kidnapping the mayor’s daughter. These familiar faces would kill anyone and do anything as long as it suited their plans.
All of that is gone. It’s just a bunch of cardboard cutouts now. These characters are just the colorful foils they always were in the superhero books and Suicide Squad is far less interesting because of it. particularly when it comes to Waller and Deadshot.
Deadshot is now the leader of the suicide squad and he’s portrayed as a bit of a go getter. The soldier type. His death wish is gone, his attitude. Someone at DC seems to have decided that Deadshot is popular and he should be the main character in the book, but they failed to understand WHY he was popular. Ostrander created great depth with Deadshot, exploring his relationships, his family and his pathology. He wasn’t a hero. He didn’t want to be. Gail Simone picked up on this when she was writing Secret Six and ran with it. There’s a lot to Floyd Lawton, and still more that could be explored, but this guy in the new 52 universe isn’t him. He’s just your standard not-quite-a-hero type and far less interesting.
Waller’s transformation is tragic. She’s a young, beautiful up-and-coming government agent.
Everything about her that was unique, everything that was special has been thrown out. A pretty, young secret agent with an attitude and a mouth? What’s special about that? What is there to this character that I haven’t seen a thousand times in any other comic book or TV show? Amanda Waller was fascinating in the past because she was a middle aged tough as nails strong black woman.She had wisdom and determination. There was a good deal of amorality to her, though not quite enough to push her towards sociopathology. She knew the game that politics was and played it as well as anyone. She pulled her self up from the mud by her own bootstraps and BUILT this life for herself….and she did that after her kids were grown. This young chippy that’s running around with the huge rack and thin waist calling herself Amanda Waller isn’t half the person pre-52 Waller was. Nor will she grow into the role. She doesn’t have the requisite adversity to overcome. Someone explain to me what it was that NEEDED to be changed or updated about this character. Come on. I dare you.
It’s been 12 issues now. You had your chance DC. I’m dropping this book…..something I’ve NEVER done with a series called Suicide Squad.
Grifter wasn’t nearly as big a disappointment. Really, he’s one of the characters largely untouched by the new 52, other than being integrated into the DCU and that’s a plus.
Grifter has changed a bit, gradually over the years. Not a huge amount, if you were to pick up an early WildCATS book and a current Grifter, you’d notice some differences, but not enough to be unrecognizable. Slow as they were, they’ve been almost unnoticeable. The biggest one I’ve seen is his recently developed Telekinesis. That’s not as big a deal to me as I may have expected. When the TK and other Psi abilities started to really show up with Cable, it didn’t change the character that much. He was still all about the guns and strategy. If DC takes this approach with Grifter, it’ll be just fine.
Grifter isn’t a great book. It doesn’t aspire to be. It’s a solid, average series, and it always has been. That may be it’s strentgth. It’s never been Sandman, but then again, it’s also never been Great Lakes Avengers either. I can be confident that if I pick this up I’ll be entertained. I always empty Grifters out of bargain bins at comic shops and cons, and I pick them up off t he racks here and there. When I think about it. Every few months. No biggie. Please new 52 DCU, don’t screw this one up.
Finally, I revisited Dynamite’s The Shadow. I pretty much nailed it when I said Ennis seemed to have a heavy Chaykin influence. He admits as much here: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/02/14/the-shadow-interview-garth-ennis-knows-what-evil-lurks-in-the-hearts-of-men/ Which is fine. I have that series. I even like it, but it’s far from my favorite. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by all the other versions. I far prefer the O’Neil one from the 70’s, even the Klauta work for Dark Horse. Honestly I even prefer the poorly done movie to Chaykins version (Check out Klauta’s comic adaptions of that by the way, it’s actually superior to the film and manages to fix a lot of the movies issues without compromising the story – but I digress). Back when I was 12, and Chaykin was the only game in town I enjoyed it more.
Still, I’m going to stick with this for a while. Kevin Smith didn’t really hit his stride on The Green Hornet until issue seven or eight, and after he left in issue twelve, the series improved further still. I want to see the next story arc on the Shadow, hopefully we’ll be back in New York battling the mob. Ennis talks about the “potential” of the character. I believe in that as well. Lets see where it takes us.