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Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Movie bannerTheLoneRanger2013PosterIt’s hard to describe the Lone Ranger. You know how in the Superman movie, the first half is the origin, then he puts on the suit and he becomes Superman – brave, powerful, good. The Lone ranger is almost ALL origin. About two hours of it. He puts on the mask before the first hour is up, and he LOOKS like the Lone Ranger….but he hasn’t really become the Loner Ranger. Not yet. He’s still a tenderfoot, naïve and unsure. It’s not until he decides “If that’s the way the lawmen are (corrupt) I’d rather be an Outlaw.” and Tonto replies “That is why you wear the mask.” THAT’s when he really becomes the Lone Ranger and the last twenty minuets, everything makes sense and every thing ties together and he really is the character. The problem is, most people are going to this to see him BE the Lone Ranger, they aren’t coming to see two hours of him BECOMING the Loner Ranger. Some of the humor undermines the story as well, there are some really poignant moments – when Helena Bonham Carter tells them to get (revenge on) Cavendish for what he took from her and you see the painting on the wall behind her. It’s heartbreaking…then they have to throw a joke in there.
It’s not all bad. I really loved the framing device with Tonto telling the story. That was really well done. Cavendish is scary for the first time too. In the original series he’s just a general bad guy. Nothing special. In the comics he’s a brute masquerading as a refined gentleman. Christopher Lloyd portrayed him as a gentleman mad scientist type. none of that worked. This one is a thug with a slight tendency towards ritual cannibalism. He looks scary and acts scary and is the best version of Cavendish I’ve ever seen. The fact that he kills Native Americans also gives Tonto a great reason to hate him.

The makers of the film did their homework. All the touches are still there – the mask is made from his brother’s vest – the eyeholes where the bullets went through. His nephew is there, though younger. They have their own reasons for silver bullets. He still shoots their hands. It has a lot of good touches, but doesn’t seem good enough to make a sequel. we’ll see though. I said the same thing about Garfield.
All in all, it’s about half a good movie. and that’s a shame, because this could have been a good movie if they had just played it straight. Dial back the humor by about 25%  and just give the story some respect. Honestly, with all that research, they should have realized they had a perfect template to go by – just use  the comics Dynamite has been publishing for the last few years which are  so much better. It’s a disappointment, though those last twenty minuets – I could watch that over and over again. Maybe I need to do a fan edit and chop this sucker up a bit.

After some more Violent Blue.


The Lone Ranger?

Marvel Clix

If you heard a high pitched squeeing noise last night, sorry. That was me as soon as I saw this news breaking.

LoneRanger_Toyfair_02They are actually going to make Lone ranger Heroclix.

For those of you skeptics that don’t see how this franchise could possibly have more than two figures though….let’s consider: really you could easily get a dozen figures out of this. Cavendish, Dan Reid (The Ranger’s nephew), A sheriff, Cavendish henchmen, Indian Brave, Indian Chief, throw in a couple of the dead rangers and a love interest. If you really needed more, they could go with the way they did the toy series in the 80s – wild west heroes like Wild Big Hickok and Wyatt Earp and stuff. If you head into the dynamite comics for characters, you have the Widow (Dan’s mother) along with the specific sheriff they’ve been working with, then throw in a comic/TV accurate version of each character. There really are some wide open possibilities. Even more if they did chases with the characters on horses.

I was never into westerns and never played cowboys and Indians. My father introduced me to the Loner Ranger and it was a gateway to westerns for me because the mask gave it a superhero vibe. Its still one of the best comics being published and I love the character because of his connection to the Green Hornet and the way it connects me to my father.

I think the Dynamite series was the first time anyone’s gotten the character right since that TV series, and when I’m playing these pieces, that’s the series I’ll be thinking of. I’m still holding out hope for the new movie though. Check out the trailer below, then head over to see today’s Violent Blue!


Last Week’s Pulls

comics

ps coverFirst 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 ps pageplaying 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 –

ps page2

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:

ps page3

action 16Superman is just as frustrating. I saw this cover and DoctorDoubleXthought  “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 firsnrgxt 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 repossesedexorcists, 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 :

http://repossessed.weebly.com/

I really am digging it and hope the series stays as entertaining as the first chapter.

dial h8Speaking 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 tshadowmanhat 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).

ybFinally, 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!


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.

What?????

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.


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.