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Justice League

Superheroes vs the Cleveland Pops

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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.

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By the way, even though it’s Labor Day there IS still a new Violent Blue up today!


Injustice : Gods Amoung Us

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Injustice-Gods-Among-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 supermanthink 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 notinjustice_flash_alt_thumb_zpsc07c122d 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.

flash

The Flash TV show got it right. The JLA pilot….not so much.

lexAnother 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.

pancakes

20120824013136!Justice_League_Task_Force_game_coverWhen 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!


Last Week’s Pulls

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green_hornet1Okay, 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 indexlike 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 2013-02-17-shadow_year_onean 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.

shadowI’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 imagesused 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.

doctorwho7cI 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 idw-prisoners-of-time-3Time”. 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.

Doctor Who

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.

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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?


Catching up on Comics (part one)

Sheesh. It’s been at least four months since I was in a comic shop. A whole freaking lot can happen in that time……

I was aware that Valiant was coming back. I was also somewhat aware of the new Shadow series that Dynamite was going to start, but I was a little hazy on exactly WHEN any of this would be happening. I had no CLUE that DC had the rights to Masters of the Universe again. I also really wasn’ t aware that the Extreme universe was relaunching under Image comics.

So I stopped to grab a stack of comics and catch up. I had NO IDEA how much I missed. Let’s start off with the small stuff, I’ll leave the titles I really want to talk about untill tomorrow.

The New 52

I still hate Superman’s new costume. It’s been a year. You’d think it would grow on me, but I just hate it. It’s kind of like the way Matt Smiths costume in Doctor Who bugs me….wait. No it’s not. I got used to that….and the longer coat he sometimes wears is a great improvement. Superman just looks….wrong. Superman doesn’t need armor…or “Kryptonian bio-tech”. He looks like a bad Extreme villain from the 90s (Oh and just you wait. We’ll get to that.) It’s a pity too, becasue I kind of like Clark Kent’s new look….and that’s about it. I just don’t recognize this guy as Superman. He fails to instill that sense of awe in me. This Superman isn’t the aspirational figure I’m used to to and that’s a shame. We are all lessened by it.

Really digging the Ame-Con girls series. It’s fluff and it knows it is, but it’s fun fluff and gives those figures a purpose at least.

All Star Western is a GREAT idea, but so poorly realized that it’s almost heartbreaking. I love the western Gotham. I love bringing in a bunch of old DC western heroes, but lose Wayne and give me a more compelling story. It just didn’t work.

Not digging the new Green Lantern. Seems too much like pandering to me. I still need to catch up on Grifter and Justice League and Wonder Woman may be worth a second look too. Batman is okay, but just….meh.
On to Extreme.

See, here’s the thing with Extreme. I liked Extreme, but never bought into the hype when Image was at it’s height. I bought all of my Image second hand, after the industry crash and got them for .50 – .25 or less.  It’s fun stuff. It’s flashy and violent and loaded with belt pouch goodness, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously. You’re not reading this stuff for the same reason you read The Sandman. You’re reading it to see big fights, big racks and lots of lens flares.

I’m not sure if Image understands that. Bloodstrike is a prime example. This was a weird series that started as a team book, then was reworked to a solo book, and then reworked again back into a team book when we learned the mysterious title character of the solo book was the leader of the old team-book version…..

*pauses to catch breath*

It’s back to a team book now, they are trying to pick up where they left off and  bringing back all the old characters from the beginning of the series,  but the art is merly mediocre, and the costumes are a little more 2012….and that’s not good. just about everything that was fun about this book has been sucked out of it, and we’re only three or four issues in.

The relaunched Youngblood on the other hand is a bit better handled. I think they are relying a little to much on a couple of the previous relaunches and it seems like a bit of a Frankenstein project. A bit of the YB that was a media satire, a bit of the ’93 YB,  bit of team YB…I’m not sure how to feel here. I like the idea that Shaft has been replaced. Not so sure I like the team being considered a joke by pop culture in general (remember, along with Spawn, this was one of Image’s primary flagship titles). Serious props for that panel where Diehard rips off his mask. At first the way they were handling Vogue was a little upsetting, but they’ve gone just a little deeper and shown some reasons for it….I can handle it. Great line from her to Diehard: “One night  is a mistake. One year is just a guy breaking a girls heart”. That’s better writing that this title deserves. It’s interesting that they are still following Jeff Terral even though he’s not Shaft right now and this title has a lot of potential. I hope they don’t mess it up.

I don’t want to even talk about Prophet. I think the vision for this series has always been a little hazy and it’s lost its way to such an extent that it’s unrecognizable from the series I knew and loved when it began in the 90’s.

Valiant is a whole other story.I was really disappointed in the Acclaim version of Valient, I realized why they had to change everything (weird contractual obligations…I don’t have the space here….)but it was a real drag. The new valiant is so much better. X-O Manoowar is a perfect example. The art and designs are so much more clean and polished- modern. But the look and the story do the source material justice. The new suit looks very cool, and a little shocking when you see a spider alien in it. Even more shocking is Aric loosing a hand. It’s all good stuff. Every bit as good as Valiant in the 90’s. Not necessarily better, and that’s okay. Valiant in the 90’s was good stuff in of itself.

BloodShot has a similar premise to Bloodstrike. Reanimating the dead, occasionally messing with thier memories and turning them into  the perfect soldier. Bloodshot makes it work, something Bloodstrike 2012 fails to do. I didn’t read much Bloodshot back in the day, I’ve come across him here and there in crossovers but don’t have enough history with the character to have an opinion on how well he’s being handled. I’ll thell you this though, the art? This title LOOKS better than it ever has before. Speaking of art,  Archer and Armstrong also comes to mind

Archer and Armstrong crossed over with my favorite Valiant title Shadowman a bunch of times. I’m well familiar with t he guys. I even have a small collection of their title because I’m a bit of a valiant fanboy and I KIND OF liked what I saw in Shadowman.

I’m really liking the relaunch. It looks better than before and it reads really easily. I’m interested in the quest and really like the renewed dynamic between the two title characters. I’m interested in where they are going with this one and I expect to actually stick with this series for a while.

That’s it for today. Go read some Violent Blue and I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the comics that REALLY caught my attention.


Mystery Guest

Okay, this was a while back, but the thing is…I lost the artwork.

It’s ironic, because the scenario this Clix Comic comes from is one I never got to play. I built this team, and even test played it at another venue, but the week I was supposed to do the actual game, it got cancelled.

I don’t remember much except it was during the Superman launch and it was going to be a really close quarters  match, so I wanted close combat experts. I do recall though that this is where I really learned to love the Batgirl figure. I got her because I wanted a complete modern Batman family…who knew she would be such a good piece? She’s nearly impossible to hit from a distance and if you get into hand to hand she’s got close combat expert to drop tons of damage on you! Bronze Tiger’s not to shabby either though I need to mod his mask off so he look more like he did back in Suicide Squad.

I like to imagine that Batman was the leader of this group and the recruitment went a little like this (the “You??” at the end is because one of the rules was that we had to include one figure from a sealed booster) :


The new 52, and others

I don’t really want to dwell on “the New 52”. I’ve stated elsewhere that it feels like DC has been taking over by Image comics circa 1991. That feeling hasn’t changed…if anything, it’s only increased. However a couple of things do bear mentioning;
BATGIRL
It’s a pity that some fanboys/fangirls have never gotten over Barbra Gordon not being Batgirl – so much so that she’s been returned to the mantle. I personally think she was far more effective both in the scope of her activities and thematically as a story when she was the crippled Oracle. It’s worth noting as well, Barbra was Oracle for longer than she was Batgirl. She spent so much time under the shadow of batgirl that we sometimes forget that. The new series essentially erases Oracle from history, stating that Babs was paralyzed for about 3 months. I get the impression we’ll have an explanation for that in upcoming issues.
SUPERMAN
I didn’t expect to like this and I was right. We don’t need to make Clark Kent into Peter Parker. I don’t LIKE peter Parker, but Clark Kent is my hero. At least he used to be…
I’m not really a fan of the costume either, though I’ll grant this; it looks kryptonian. I just think it would look better on a different kryptonian. By the way, what’s all this rejoicing over him losing the red underwear on the outside of his pants? It’s still there, it’s just the same color as the pants. I understand it if you plan on eliminating the briefs, but if you aren’t getting rid of them, why bother just changing the color scheme? All in all, the costume just doesn’t WORK for me. In fact, it’s one of the few redesigns that doesn’t. I like the new Wonder Woman costume. I like the new Batman costume.  I don’t get all the armor on EVERYONE in the DCU, (back to the Image comics feel) but I can deal with it…at least for a while.
JLI
I like the idea of the JLI existing along side the JLA as a separate entity controlled by the UN. I just wish someone had this idea about ten years ago or so. Too late now, not funny enough and Dan Jurgans is heading up the title. Three strikes and you’re out.
I feel like I MIGHT just come around to liking a lot of this stuff if I just give it a chance…except that’s the problem. Why should I have to WORK at liking it? Why should I stick around and slog through the dreck that this reboot will be mired down in (for at least the next six months while everyone get’s their footing and establishes a tone) while waiting for something to MAYBE emerge? No, I think, for the foreseeable future, I’m done with DC. I’ll be back when everything reverts to original numbering.

As far as my other pulls this week, I though I’d give Dynamite’s new Robocop Terminator series a chance. Run. Run as far from this one as you can. interesting concept, but no story, and the art is almost cartoonish. It’s an embarrassment. A really dynamic artist could have save this and won points for the ain’t-it-cool factor, but this team they’ve got on the book belongs in the newspaper funny pages. ugh.
On the other hand, The Lone Ranger still hasn’t failed to thrill me. I grabbed the fourth Lone Ranger and Tonto special. They’re doing a piece I’ve seen done with Batman a couple of times (They just did an animated version of a 70’s story like this in Gotham Knight) where you take different accounts of the character and try to reconcile them, showing different facets of the hero. The Lone ranger comics are simply the best thing going right now. I know that I’ve said it before, but it just never stops being true.

Okay. Off to draw some Violent Blue. See you Wednesday.


The DC Reboot

So, predictably I’m sure, I’m not impressed with Justice League #1. It almost feels like I’m reading an old 90’s Image comic, but with DC characters insted – and that’s not a good thing. Image was long on flash and short on story. This new JLA is like that, what story there is feels a little juvenile and vacent. More than ever, I’m reasonably sure this is my jumping OFF point with DC (for a while at least).

 

However, don’t worry, there’s no reboot coming any time soon for Violent Blue….but a new strip will be up tomorrow.