The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Superman

Week of March 7th

It’s interesting, the flash this year almost feels like The Flash’s big theme is “let’s see how many different kind of rolls Grant Gustin can play”. “Let’s stretch his range”. It’s as if he’s been watching Harrison Wells have too much fun with these different personas and it’s Barry’s turn now!

We do start off with some attractive people in the hall talking about their feelings… Most specifically talking about how sad they are that Wells is gone. I suppose this is appropriate, although our last scene shows that he might not be quite as gone as it seems! I’m eager to see where the shenanigans go later.

Barry however has gotten his speed back, and a new side effect! Speed thinking. This actually came in to play in the comics with impulse/kid flash, but has never really been explored it here on the TV show. They start off playing it for laughs, but it soon becomes a little sinister. Barry’s lost his emotions, and it’s an interesting look. Kind of the Flash if he were Batman.

It’s still feels though like we’re very much in the middle of a story arc, and the episode suffers a little bit from middle child syndrome. It’s less an adventure of it’s own, and more part of a serialized story. The equilibrium feels off on the show, and I’m hoping that they get their groove back soon. Still, I’m enjoying seeing the gang all back.

Superman and Lois on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have nearly as much attractive people talking in hallways about their feelings, it’s there, but more of it is teen angst than it is CW soap opera. They did have the best line of the week… “Do you drive a station wagon that’s currently on fire?”.

If I have any real complaints about the show though, it’s not there’s just not enough Superman. We get two good Set pieces with him, but for the most part it’s Clark and the kids. Not that this is it all bad, I actually happen to be every bit as fan of Clark Kent as I am of Superman… But the show is called Superman and Lois and I kind of miss seeing the red cape more. There’s a lot going on with the kids though, and they’re trying to build up a supporting cast. This is in enormously important in a Superman story… One of the things that really makes the Superman stories in Metropolis charming is Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, even the lesser supporting characters like cat Grant, Bibbo, and Dr. Hamilton. If the show really wants to succeed it’s going to have to build a strong supporting cast. Good news is, they seem to be on their way there. I’m not even really missing the old supporting characters… Perry White had obviously retired, and we know that Jimmy Olsen had moved to where ever it is Supergirl lives. The natural progression of the story has helped immensely… Indeed, I recall Brian Singer complaining that he didn’t know how to handle Superman. He used to complain that because Clark was invulnerable, the only way you could hurt him was emotionally. I don’t know if I subscribe to that. But if that’s the direction you want to go, the writers on Superman and Lois have figured it out. They’re playing on Clark’s own insecurities as a father and the general tough job of raising teenagers. It makes him emotionally vulnerable, and it makes him surprisingly human. You don’t need to make him a deadbeat dad the way singer did in Superman Returns, you don’t need him to be a creepy stalker spying on his ex-girlfriend and her new fiancé from the sky. Singer’s attempts at emotionally compromising Superman damaged the character, it made him into a loser, a jerk. Whereas the emotional beats and vulnerability that they are showing Superman and Lois, actually elevate Clark Kent… And I think make him more of a hero. I’m really enjoying what I’m seeing here, and I really hope that this Continues to stay the course with this level of quality. I’ll gladly put up with the sulking teenagers to have some quality Superman!

By the way, I mentioned Disenchantment a couple weeks ago. It continues to delight. I almost get the impression that Netflix just didn’t care anymore and were just fulfilling contractual obligations….and that they aren’t paying attention, because this show is getting weird. It’s more out there than previously, but it works. The episode we watched this week involved a psychotic unicorn, a trouser thief, Zog with PSTD and acting slightly undead and the marriage of the prince to a geriatric fairy named “Saggy”.

I can not recommend this enough.

 


Superman and Lois

I’ve had some time to kind of process what I saw in Superman and Lois. I’ve also heard some other opinions on it, some I agree with, and some that I don’t. What was my reaction?

It’s Fine. That’s all. Just fine.

Look, I like Superman and I have been screaming at the CW for years that in addition to Supergirl, they really ought to make a Superman TV show. Superman for me, has always worked better on television. The thing is, a movie is about spectacle, and a TV show can be about character. The movies are about super, where is the TV show is about man. And superman is really a lot about character, far more so than spectacle. The powers are secondary. They’re just a mundane fact of his existence. what’s really interesting about him is the person, the character. It’s one of the reasons why Smallville worked as well as it did, despite never showing him in the costume.

Being on the CW always worries me. At least these days, they’ve traded a lot of their storytelling for social justice. Supergirl started out as an excellent series. I loved it from the pilot. The first season was amazing, but then they jumped networks… And in the process lost Calista Flockhart‘s character of cat Grant. It’s almost as if they immediately found themselves in an identity crisis and and with no clear vision as to where to go, they plug the holes with social justice. LGBTQ, anti-gun, orange man bad, etc, and little else. It ultimately sunk the show… at least for me it did. (Me and a lot of other people apparently as the ratings went into freefall). Recent offerings like Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow and even Black Lightning haven’t fared much better; focusing more on identity politics and social justice then actual character development. That’s not to say that there’s no place for those things, but there is a tendency in modern entertainment to make it about only about those things, and lean on them instead of any sort of storytelling. There’s an audience out there for that, certainly. But it’s not a big one. Less than half a million people according to the ratings.

So when Superman and Lois was announced, I had my worries. The Flash is still fairly untainted by agenda, but it is running out of steam. Stargirl on the other hand, surprisingly great… An actual call back to those happy, excited feelings I had when Supergirl first burst on the scene. It’s enough to give me hope for Superman and Lois.
I’m glad to see that the CW didn’t drop the ball here… At least not right out of the gate. They pull off a trick I thought they had forgotten, they manage to make Lois a strong, well done female character, and do so without tearing down her male counterpart. She doesn’t have to be strong at the expense of the male characters, instead, she is their equal… And isn’t that really what we’re supposed to be going for? Elizabeth Tulloch is shockingly good in the role too. The more I see of her, the more I buy her as Lois Lane. I really enjoy her more and more.

Superman for his part, is well characterized. I’ve always enjoyed Tyler Hoechlin in the role, he’s every bit as good as Henry Cavill… And while I’m tempted to say it’s better than man of steel, it’s really not an apples to apples comparison. They’re different types of stories with different purposes. Superman retains his integrity, and really works as a father. That’s a dynamic I really was enjoying in the comics… in many ways, this feels like the ideal successor to Smallville – with Clark now finding himself in the same role that Jonathan Kent played, lo those many years ago. It works for this kind of a character and I have to give them props for trying to do something new. They’re exploring a different time of life for Superman and what we normally see, and that’s appropriate. They warned us ahead of time that they were going to do it, which I do appreciate. I’m not big on spoilers, but knowing that this wasn’t going to be Lois and Clark in the city went a long way towards adjusting my expectations. If I hadn’t known this is going to be the Superman family moving to Kansas, I might’ve been a little upset.

I like the new suit well enough. The fact that we see Superman’s had diffrent suits over the years actually makes me like it more and retroactively imprives my opinion of the one we’ve seen in his cameo appearances. I am amused at bits – at times they’re just lifting scenes STRAIGHT from Superman Returns and Man of Steel. I also really liked the (brief) recap (origin, story till now, ect), and thought the golden age costume and the video game (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it) were nice touches. Not sure I’m on board with the mopey teenager. Then again, Smallville had its share of angst and I DID like the interaction with the jr Kent brothers. Not sure why Lana Lang is being played by a low budget Jennifer Tilly. Seriously, though, if those nitpick are my only beef? We’re on some pretty solid ground here.

Here’s the thing, the CW has a great opportunity here. Superman shows are a license to print money. I’m not even kidding. Superman has a proven track record on television, it always works. At least, it always works as long as you stay true to the character. People love Superman for the same reason they love Captain America… It’s a pure character, with virtue and aspirational values. The moment you start deconstructing him it all falls apart. For all the dismissal of Superman as unrelatable, a big boy scout, too corny – there’s a real LONGING for that in entertainment – again, I point to the Captain America films, not to mention the beautiful blended family with a surprisingly strong father figure in Stargirl. Indeed, the family aspect works extraordinarily well in this context, and this has the potential to be something great.
 
I hope the CW is up to it. I’m optimistic as to where it goes from here.

 


Akron Comicon 2018

Conman

43065891_1936256616467240_2568432662536519680_nA voice rang out at me from across the room.
“Why is it every time you put a baby in a rocket, the planet blows up?”

“I didn’t even BRING the rocket this time,” I replied, glancing down my gold armor at the baby Superman in the hand held basket.

Akron Comicon was in full swing.

The con has grown every year so we’ve once again relocated; this time to the Goodyear Hall on the outskirts of the city. With this particular move came parking problems. The lots filled up fast, but we managed to grab a small patch of street a half block away in a nice shady area next to construction. It was windy and freezing Maddie and me in our costumes. The food trucks we passed looked awfully warm. (I 45344798_10156200733579514_309001933211828224_nregret not grabbing some Swenson’s)

Inside I made a beeline for Jon Bogdanove’s table. The last time he was here, his line was terribly long, and after waiting an hour, I ended up having to bail (Kiddo had a birthday party I had to get her to.). The line wasn’t as bad this time, and after half an hour we were face to face with one of my favorite Superman artists. Bogdanove is a Superman fan himself – his son is named Kal-El- and he gushed over Maddie’s Supergirl suit, expressing delight that she was actually carrying around Streaky the Supercat in her own little basket.

After a quick stop at Brett Breeding’s table ($5 a signature! Yeesh!) we popped over to see Bob Wiacek. The bulk of my books to be signed were his….but they were all big collected “essentials” volumes and weighing down my bag. I do love Wiacek. He’s done a great variety of stuff, working on things like Damage Control, Shadowman and Nightmask. He brushed it off, “A lot of guys can say they’ve had long careers.”
“Not as many can say they’ve had such varied ones though,” I replied.
“I like that!” He nodded with a smile.

I kept running into friends over at Karl Story’s table. As he played Pokemon Go on his hone I beat my friend Mayday about the shoulders with a stuffed supercat until he perked up and noticed me. I didn’t have as much for Story to sign (I restrained myself from bringing my entire run of Nightwing. I don’t like being THAT guy). But I did pick a couple of things, in particular the Star Trek graphic novel “Debt of Honor”

“This was such an interesting story. It’s a shame it’s never been reprinted,” he said as he flipped through it. “IDW has the license right now, and they’d love to, but DC has no obligation to work with them and won’t release their copies of the art. IDW actually contacted me and Chris (Claremont) to see if we had any of the originals. I’ve got maybe, 30 pages but these are oversized – they’re so big they’d be hard t copy, even if I ran them down to Kinkos.”

After stopping by Dirk Manning’s booth to present him with a monster ice cream cone, Maddie guided me over to Chris Yambar’s table so she could get a new Simpson’s comic from him. He greeted us by nodding at me with a “Thank you for you son.” Akron is a very Superman oriented show, but even so, I’m always pleased when someone recognizes my Jor-El (father of Superman) costume. Maddie told him all about how much she likes the Simpsons. “I watch it every day! A couple episodes usually!”
We drifted on to chatting a bit about Yambar’s late and lamented Lawncon. The girls and I really liked it when we hit it’s final year. But perhaps not so final after all. Yambar has been long talking about resurrecting it.
“We keep wanting to do it again, but then something (health issues) would happen. It’s been a good year though, with no new things coming up. Maybe if I could get together a committee – where I could just sit back and be a benevolent overseer….”

45414778_2184913694886375_7893829369523601408_nBack in the lobby area of Goodyear Hall, Maddie and I ran into a huge scarecrow, with his handler, Harley Quinn. After pictures, we found an isolated corner by the windows where Maddie could practice her quick-change for the costume contest. It’s a long one, but Rubber City Cosplay managed to get everyone through reasonably swiftly, and it didn’t hurt that I was in line with my buddies Vito and Cassie. Despite the amazing plush monster in front of me in line, my bet was on the Alien made entirely out of balloons to win. Best costume EVER!

Akron continues to be the best con in Northeast Ohio and I’m eager to see what next year has in store!

 

 

 


Batman versus Superman and percentages

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I really thought I was done – I thought I had defended the movie sufficiently. But this latest version of criticism is surprisingly persistent – and a little bit annoying.batman_v_superman___dawn_of_justice__poster_by_goxiii-d8xs1x9

I have seen repeated articles now about the terrible and significant drop in ticket sales for Batman versus Superman in its second week. If you read these,  one thing you’ll notice about every one of these articles, they always speak in percentages. 81% drop! It’s over! That’s the thing,  They have to speak in percentages. BvS made $52.4 million in it’s second weekend.  If the critics speak in total dollars, there is no disguising the fact that despite its “Plunging ticket sales “Batman versus Superman is still out-grossing films that are coming out for their first week. How many movies would give their eye teeth for a $52.4 million opening weekend? How many would kill to make that in thier second week? And we’ll just ignore the fact that BvS is rapidly closing in on the $700 million mark.

I had hoped that this particular tactic was done – they tried it first by examining the drop in ticket sales on Sunday… Easter Sunday. Monday and Tuesday Batman versus Superman went back to setting box office records. However, the media is so committed to this narrative, that when Batman versus Superman failed to generate another half billion dollars in it’s second weekend the story is sprung right back up. Sales are plunging!

Notice how everybody is using the same keyword? Ticket sales are “plunging”. It’s in eBvSvery headline, every blog, every editorial. Its evidence of media group think and over reliance on outlets like AP. There’s not a lot of original thought going on here but rather we are seeing a lot of people jumping on the same bandwagon. We’re more used to seeing this kind of bias and consensus in political reporting rather than in entertainment, but it’s fascinating to watch those same principles applied here.  Critics hated Batman v Superman, and a lot more then the fans did. Critics want this movie to fail – to die. The Superhero movie has gotten to uppity, and besides, only Marvel is allowed to do that and they feel compelled to do thier best to put it in it’s place. The general public dosen’t quite seem to agree. More fans seem to like it then hate it and most were smack dab in the middle feeling somewhat ambivalent. What the different numbers in ticket sales this weekend really speaks to, is two things – firstly the obvious. It is no longer opening weekend. This is significant, because Batman versus Superman was an event film. People were going to go see it the first weekend – either that or risk of being spoiled on the Internet.

NEfSZ2ONUM37ji_1_bThe second thing at play here is something I noted in my review – rewatchability. There are some people absolutely love this and are going to see it twice, but I think the vast majority of viewers are only going to be able to handle this film once. This isn’t necessarily a negative, I’ve only ever seen Forrest Gump once – there’s just no rewatchability there for me either. So the drop in ticket sales, while still healthy shows that people are not going to see this two or three or four times. It also shows that everybody without the first weekend, and only a few stragglers remaining.

Why am I so adamant about this? Why do I feel the need to speak out about this? Because the critics are trying to shape public opinion – not report on it. That’s not the job of journalists, and it frustrates me when I see it happening. Batman v Superman is not Oscar fodder (though I think Zach Snyder actually believed he was making high art– someone should probably tell him that he wasn’t) but it’s not worth othe dismal rotten tomatoes score it has –  although I find it interesting just how inverse the relationship between the critical score and the viewer score is.  I’ll stick with the viewers. Unlike the critics, they aren’t trying to sway anybody.

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Final thought – Bad movies just go away. People complain about them and forget about them. Everybody is talking about Batman v Superman, and everybody has seen it. Every person I meet asks me if I saw it and what was my opinion. Compare this to the recent fantastic four – sure we talked about it, we complained about it, but nobody went to see it. Nobody talks about it any more, except to use it as a yardstick for the worst superhero films ever made. Batman versus Superman has sparked discussion and it’s penetrated the public consciousness and is already a success.

No matter what the critics want you to believe.


Batman versus Superman

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12814231_1146572888720466_3283450144763849407_nIn order to best discuss issues and elements of the film, vague spoilers are mentioned.proceed at your own discretion.

I took the girls out to Amherst cinema to see Batman v Superman on Saturday. This is the movie event of the summer for us – it’s the one with and waiting for, more than Civil War, more than Deadpool, more than Star Wars. It is the culmination of a dream come true. This is what we have always wanted to see, even more than the joining of the Avengers or the Punisher and Daredevil coming together – this is the ultimate dream for us. We are DC people after all.

There’s a lot of Trolls out there who seemed inclined to hate this movie from the word go – and for those who absolutely wanted to see this fail, those people are going to find as many flaws and as many things they don’t agree with in it as they can. There is plenty of it, so yes, I’m seeing more than enough of them feeling justified in their animosity.  I’ve been defending this movie for quite awhile, with a wait-and-see attitude. I’m not the kind of person to hate something just because it’s cool to hate it. Some of you are sitting out there reading this thinking “I sense a ‘but’ here “.

Well not exactly.

12472805_1148774941833594_3636247074446668501_nLike any film you can divide it into a pile of good things in a pile bad things. Lets start off looking at the good things shall we?

Henry Cavill is perfectly adequate at being superman. That may sound like I’m damning with faint praise, but really this is a difficult role and he manages to blend in, embodying the fundamentals of the character rather than standing out as a particular actor version of it. He’s not the Christopher Reeve Superman, he’s not Dean Cain Superman he simply is… Superman. Cavill does an excellent job portraying a lot of Superman’s inner monologue, that is to say he captures the insecurities of the man, he conveys the inner turmoil without chewing the scenery. The Superman of this era is still on a learning curve and Cavill manages to convey that well. More than anything else, no matter what you have to say about the director, or the writer, or even the critics and fans, you can take absolute certainty on this – Cavill gets Superman. It is clearly evident in his rendition.

perry-white-e1370419014942While we’re on the subject of Superman, (discussing the supporting cast is inevitable) can we talk about how good Perry White is in this movie? I was extremely on the fence about Lawrence Fishbourne in Man of Steel. There is something about his performance that threw me off… Perry is an old school war reporter, ‘Nam and World War II. Fishbourne seemed a little too cool sometimes, man that earring of his is really bugging me! This time around he seemed more grizzled, maybe it’s just the gray showing up on his beard but I don’t think so – he played the character with more maturity and age this time around. He played him crankier and with less patience. That really makes a big difference. I felt more like I was watching Franklin Langella’s (Superman Returns) or John Hamilton’s(Adventures of Superman TV) performance.

And then there is Batman. After all the speculation, we finally get to see Batfleck.Batman_Affleck

(I’m telling you guys! You should have used my design!)

1236840_683654624997566_879480929_nIt’s inevitable that we have to talk about him. You know, the Haters jumped right on top of him as soon as Ben Affleck was cast. I refused to delve into the mass of criticism (You can see my initial reactions on this blog HERE and HERE), particularly amid this group of people who want to hate on him simply because he is Ben Affleck. That was the big argument that I kept hearing, that he’s Ben Affleck and he’s going to suck because of it – or that he is going to suck as Batman because he sucked as Daredevil (curiously enough, the main argument and I’ve heard for why Daredevil is so terrible is that exact same one – it sucks because Ben Affleck sucks). Quite frankly, if I’d heard you utter these words or any variation thereof, I have immediately dismissed your opinion and I’m not interested in talking to you any further about these movies. (and by the way, I happen to like Daredevil – I mean really like it – like I don’t understand why everyone hates it, it’s one of my favorite superhero films). Yeah, harsh, but I’ve put up with it enough.

So how did acquit himself? I think that if you were dead set on hating him, if you were invested enough in that inclination then you’re still going to hate him. For someone who went in with no expectations however, Affleck does a marvelous job. This is a different Batman, it’s not Kilmer it’s not Keaton, it’s not Bale. Some of the characterization feels off sometimes, but it’s intentional. This is a Batman who has grown world-weary. He is so involved in vengeance, that he has very much forgotten how to be a hero that that’s one of the interesting things about this movie, Batman has a definite arc. This film is all about him learning how to become a hero again and it is only in his conflict with Superman, (and moreover seeing his own dark reflection cast by the light of Superman’s inherent nobility) that he realities how lost he is… How far he’s wandered off the path of the hero.

Make no mistake, Superman is the hero of this piece.

I realize that an inflammatory statement, but I think I can back it up. You see, in the final climactic battle between Batman and Superman, Superman comes in, unwilling to kill the Batman, even at the cost of his mother’s life. Batman comes in, solely intent on murdering Superman out of nothing more than a paranoid fear. I’m sorry, but no matter how I look at it, in this situation – Batman is batman-vs-superman-theories-officially-proved-debunked-but-which-are-true-668304the bad guy – and indeed it is the very reason why Batman almost wins here… not because he’s single mindedly willing to do “whatever it takes” to win, but rather because Superman is unwilling to take Batman’s life. Superman truly is the hero here. And that’s really the point of it all isn’t it? We see a remarkable redemption in Batman and this is a tough part to pull out off simply because of all of these elements that have been layered and incorporated into a single role.

Affleck’s body language is straight out of the animated series, and his delivery is pitch perfect from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight returns. For those out there who are complaining it’s not their version of Batman, I’m reminded of something John Byrne once wrote – his reaction to reading The Dark Knight Returns. He said that it wasn’t the Batman he knew, not the one he liked, but he understood how it was the Batman that he knew who had grown into this character – that this was12809688_1148774938500261_4617938668998965604_n a potential future for his Batman and it made sense to him when he looked at it from this perspective. I think there’s a lot of that here. If all you’re looking for is a rehash of Christian Bale’s Batman then you may be in the wrong place. That’s perhaps that’s a bit harsh of me, but I’ve never cared for the Nolan films, and have always felt a little distressed that so many people claim that as their fundamental version of Batman – the purist form, and the only one they wish to recognize. There are better versions out there, believe me. This may or may not be one of them.

The bat suit by the way, is dead on and I really love it. I get glimpse of gold on that belt once in awhile, even though it seems to be rusted over and black. I can see the bat symbol on the chest and it really stands out against the gray. There is nothing about this bat suit that I don’t like – and the Batmobile? I have not liked a Batmobile this much since Anton Furst’s design for the 1989 film, and the Lincoln Futura before it. It’s perfect. It 12143230_1148774935166928_2648198661282546357_nhas the teeth of the tumbler, mixed with the sleek look of the first Batmobile. I was excited from the very first images I laid eyes on, and the final product did not disappoint one bit– it’s sporty and brutal and beautiful

Of course the real performance everyone is talking about here is Wonder Woman. I have heard from more than a few critics fans and moviegoers that she stole the show. That was certainly the case for my kids. They waited almost an entire film just to see her – even when she showed up incognito they understood it, and their excitement was palpable. Wonder Woman does not disappoint here – and that’s quite a task considering how difficult it has been to bring this character back to the screen. Lynda Carter is still very much in the hearts and minds of everyone of my generation, but my kids have12798907_1147789361932152_4407022136592722495_n been exposed to her as well (although they are probably more familiar with the animated version that we saw in the Justice League cartoon). Still this was a brilliant performance, and Gail Godot proved she was absolutely worthy of the role. She is another one of those cases of undue criticism, before a single frame was shot. I really don’t understand why there was so much hatred heaped upon her head from the moment she was cast… long before we ever even saw her in the suit! This woman had an uphill battle and had to fight for every step of the way, and man, does she ever deliver in this movie! They manage not only to make her  compelling, but to make her mysterious – to make her and enigma that we genuinely want to unravel and explore further. When we saw the old photograph that she had infiltrated Lex Luthor’s party to retrieve, we nearly flipped. It’s obviously a shot from the upcoming Wonder Woman solo film and that’s such a great way of integrating her into the DC cinematic universe.  The amount of anticipation that my girls and I have for the upcoming wonder woman Batman-v-Superman-the-best-momentsmovie just shot through the roof!

Really, this is The epitome of what is Zach Snyder faced with this film. He had an impossible task, not only to bring these characters to life but to kick off a franchise and to keep us wanting to come back more. I have long said that Batman versus Superman was a license to print money… But only once. This film was guaranteed to be a success, but it had to be enough of a true success to make us genuinely want to come back for more.

I’m not sold on Cyborg and the Flash, not from the mere glimpses we saw in this film, and I’m still not in love with Snyder’s style, but that Aquaman we saw? Man I want to know more about that! He reminds me a lot of the 90’s Aquaman (the version I really like). and this really intrigues me. I am all about a new wonder woman movie and an Aquaman story. I also honestly do want to see more of Afflecks Batman.

I really want to know what’s up with that ending. My kids cried.

It’s not a perfect movie though, it’s at least 45 minutes too long – and far too much of the movie goes right back to my age old complaint about the Iron man films; we’re not in the suit isn’t nearly enough costume time, especially for Superman. We get a montage and rescue at the beginning and not a lot else until we hit that the third act. Batman is only slightly better. There is a moment in the film where Alfred points out that Bruce Wayne is capable of getting certain information far more easily and efficiently than Batman. I wanna punch Alfred as he says this, because I’m not nearly as interested in watching Bruce Wayne hobnob as I am in watching Batman swing on a rope! Aargh!

Lois Lane is not quite tough enough. Margot Kidder may have taken the hard as nails approach a tad too far, but the current Lois Lane feels just a little too soft and friendly . I’m a bit biased, I think Teri Hatcher was the greatest Lois Lane ever to grace the screen which is curious considering I’m not a fan of the Lois and Clark TV show…(although I’m softening on that stand, I’m almost through season two and actually liking it a bit more than I did when I was a kid)

lex-luthor-inside-details-on-jesse-eisenberg-as-lex-luthor-in-batman-vs-superman-jpeg-26235Perhaps the biggest problem in this film, is Jesse Eisenberg Lex Luthor. This was another casting choice that I defended when it was announced, it was my thought that if he bulked up a little bit this might be an interesting chance for him to stretch is acting ability.  He’s got the range, he just never uses it, instead choosing to rely on his Jesse Eisenberg persona. I even found this image back then – a speculative rendition of what he could be as Lex if he choose to play it straight.

Even when it came out that his Eisenber act was indeed the kind of character he was going to be playing, I assumed that the role had been written for him – with this gawky spaz kind of young Lex Luthor in mind… Now I’m not so sure.

There is nothing in his lines or actions that depends on the hyperactive awkwardness that he displays. In fact, there’s moments in his performance of real menace. It’s batman-vs-superman-poster-lex-luthorenough to make me believe that perhaps there’s something more there than meets the eye. I almost want to believe that the nerdy Eisenberg persona is just a defense mechanism. Just a surface act that masks depths of sinister intent.

The problem is it’s never paid off (unless Snyder thinks that the sullen look on Eisenbergs face as his hair is shaved off is that emotional pay off). We never really get to see this explored the ways should be done. As a result, it just comes up as annoying – a real missed opportunity .

When they were first looking around at casting next Luthor I was vocal in my support of Clancy Brown. He was the actor who voiced the character in the cartoons, though he is probably best known for his role as the Kurgan in Highlander or the mean guard in The Shawshank Redemption. He’s never been out of work. In very recent times, he’s played the Clancy_Brownprincipal in the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot,as well as appearing on Supergirl as General Eiling, and very recently showed up on Daredevil as the Punishers old CO.

Sit back for a moment, and transpose him over Jesse Eisenberg. Imagine Eisenbergs lines, but instead of the nervous sputtering delivery that Jesse gave, imagine Clancy in an expensive pressed suit – perhaps a lab coat, thought less likely. Imagine him delivering those lines confidently with that low,sure voice. Just a touch of menace to it. Imagine Clancy doing the things Luthor did. With Eisenberg, pulling the finger tips off of Zod is icky… With Brown it would’ve been terrifying in it’s genuis and obsession. With Eisenberg you hate him for kidnapping Martha Kent, with Brown you’re terrified of what will happen to her.

‘Seriously, I don’t understand this casting choice. Snyder is hellbent on doing imagessomething different, I understand. Indeed, I think in this determination to do something new, he actually exhibits that single-mindedness that we see in Batman… driving him to do the wrong thing.

The wrong thing. That that’s a bold statement, it’s an absolute and a label that I have not applied any other part of this movie. So why do I say “the wrong thing ” 72340_1146572142053874_2236992969757371517_nwhen it comes to Lex Luthor and stand by it with such certainty?

Because my kids didn’t recognize him.

My girls know who Lex Luthor is. They’ve watched him on the Justice League cartoons, they’ve been around Superman there entire lives, they play hero clixs with me and read the comics themselves and THEY. DID. NOT. RECOGNIZE. HIM. It wasn’t until the end of the movie, where Eisenberg sits in prison, wearing an orange jumpsuit Jesse-Eisenberg-Lex-Luthorand having his head shaved that Maddie’s eyes widened and she pointed at him. It was only in those final minutes of the film that my kids realized that they had been watching some strange incarnation of Lex Luthor all along. When you alter a character so much that he becomes unrecognizable to casual fans, you have absolutely gone the wrong direction with that character.

Zach Snyder is not interested in making fun, popcorn action movies. He’s trying to make a serious epic here, and I’m not sure that’s the right approach. While Batman V Superman is not a bad movie, The heaviness of it severely limits rewatchability. I have the same issue with Winter Soldier, and I especially have this problem with Man of Steel. We all know that Superman Returns is a terrible Versusfilm, and it breaks my heart because the visual design has so much potential. But I’ll tell you what, even though Man of Steel is a better film, I’ve seen Superman Returns way more times that I’ve watched Man of Steel. It’s just an easier watch. Truth is, I don’t think I’ve made it through Man of Steel even one time since I saw in the theatre. Maybe in pieces, but certainly not in its entirety. Batman versus Superman will be the same – I may pop the video in and cue it past the second hour, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never watch this entire thing again. I liked it, and I’m glad I saw it, I just don’t know that I’ll ever be able to sit through this a second time, where as I can see myself watching Batman 89 again and again.  If Iron Man is on cable I’m not going to turn it off. If I see BvS though, I’ll probably sit through it until commercial if it’s a good part and then keep on flipping.

The thing is, Snyder has mistaken heavy and cynical for mature. I have the same response to him that I did to the producers of the Muppets many months ago (you can find that HERE) that Cynical is not batman_v_superman___dawn_of_justice__poster_by_goxiii-d8xs1x9necessarily “adult”, and it’s not what I want to see with these characters. You didn’t “grow up “the Superman film, you just sucked a lot of the joy out of it.

A lot of the joy, but not all of it. Seeing Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman on screen together is something we wanted all our lives and we finally have it. This was a monumental and daunting task and if not ideal, Snyder does manage to pull it off. 3-D and IMAX are going to do nothing for it, but if you haven’t seen it in the theatre you really need to. We went for the cheap seats at Amherst Cinema and paid four dollars for a ticket. It’s  showing on a double bill with Deadpool over at the drive-in near us. The movie is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere – you have no excuse. If you haven’t seen Batman versus Superman, I’m sorry I spoiled it for you but what are you doing wasting time reading this anyhow? Get out and see the movie!


Demir Yumruk: Devler Geliyor : Iron Fist: The Giants are Coming

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untitledThis is actually another Turkish Superman film, though it bears less resemblance to him. if anything, this Suprerman is more like Batman, very depowered.

the flamboyant, wheelchair-bound criminal mastermind transvestite Fu Manchu is hunting a hidden cache of treasure and uranium. It is this that will enable him, somehow, to rule the world. When he kills the one archaeologist with a lead on the loot, the murdered man’s son joins forces with macho policeman Enver to get revenge.  Enver fakes his death to trick the villains and dons the suit to defeat the bad guys.

Honestly this one is even more incomprehensible that the other Turkish Superman based on the Donner film, but good news! I frequently see this one bundled in bootleg DVDs with that movie so it’s not hard to find! Watch it while your cleaning or reading a book.

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The wedding plans

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This strip is up today over at Violent Blue, but I wanted to post the full size version here, because It’s one of those moments where I feel like you can really see just how much I love this character through the artwork. To me, Superman looks exactly the way he should here. There’s that old familiar face, the body language is calm, peaceful and the feeling is just majestic.

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Turkish Superman

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imagesCA2035HOWe started off easy last month with Dracula, but this month I want to showcase one of my favorite bad movies ever – Turkish Superman.

After the success of the Donner film, Turkey moved quickly to get their own Superman film in their theatres, billed sometimes as a sequal (the way Fulchi’s Zombi was billed as a sequal to Dawn of the Dead)

Where Superman created some revolutionary special effects, this version actually sets film back a few steps with it’s effects. Flying in particular is laughable. We get a head and shoulders shot of the actor in front of a rear projection screen, which then imagescuts to a Mego doll on a string in front of that same screen. They don’t always remember to adjust the perspective either. We saw better effects than this back in the TV days of George Reeves.

They do try to keep fairly close to the story and aesthetic of the Donner film though, we get an origin story and very much a coming of age thing going on. Someone has their mythologies a little mixed up though since Jor-El appears to Superman in a cave and explains to him that his powers come from a bunch of old mythological gods….pretty much mixing in Captain Marvel’s backstory into Superman’s. Still Jor-El actually looks good in this film…which is more than I can say for Krypton…or the space scenes in general imagesCAGDWQ10(which were achieved by hanging Christmas ornaments in front of a black sheet. Seriously. Check the graphic below).

This is fun. Especially at parties. It’s also a nice thing to have in your collection if you’re a Superman fan. Bootlegs abound at every con I’m at so I guarantee you should have not real trouble finding a copy!

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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!


75 years of Superman

Oh thank GOD. This is the Superman Panel from Akron Comicon that I missed. Thank you so much Richard, for putting this up!

Now I can go work on Violent Blue in peace.


Superman Day

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IMG_20130727_131829Not 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.IMG_20130727_105915

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 IMG_20130727_114256already 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.

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IMG_20130727_120309Carol 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!

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Girls coloring in the back!

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Coloring pages

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The girls loved the stickers in the window

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Look what we got!

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Jimmy Olsen and Perry White

DC ClixIMG_20130714_205050You 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.

100_4510In 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 100_4521Plastic 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.

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Happy Fathers yester-day

So father’s day was interesting. Amy asked the girls what they should get my father and they said “Lone Ranger stuff?” That was a fine answer. She then asked them what they should get me. They both chimed in “Heroclix!”

That’s cute. Not sure why they were thinking that, especially since I haven’t played in a month or so, but then again, I do play with them sometimes on the Gotham City map that’s set up in the Library. Nevertheless, I didn’t think they were going to follow through with that.

Did you know Five Below has Heroclix?

507_589158027795291_1314736104_nNothing new of course. In fact I don’t think they sell anything that’s playable in a modern age tournament, but then again, a lot of the time I’m playing golden age (all sets) anyhow. They got me a box of Hypertime, and a box of Justice League. Lydia chose the Hypertime box because it had Catwoman on it and she expected her to be in the box.998894_589157927795301_1722548181_n

I actually pulled some nice figures out of the Justice League box. There was a Batman and Robin duo figure I always wanted and a really powerful Emperor Joker…200 points, but way powerful. I think I may match him up with that Lex and Braniac figure I have some time.

Amy also got me a gift certificate for Comics Are Go! (and they have the best gift certificates ever….) and while they were there, the girls snagged bookmarks and the free All-Star Superman for me. It occurs to me that my girls have been in that shop more times than Amy has.

We took the girls to see Epic this weekend as well, and while I was there I noticed two previews for movies I want to see that I’ve been putting off. Superman and Star Trek are both coming to the palace. I’ll be heading there for both in 3d, 5.00 each.

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Finally, if you were watching the parade in Avon Lake this weekend and you thought you saw me dressed as a zombie…you were right. I marched with the Lorain County Zombie Outbreak Response Team to promote their Zombie Walk in the fall – a charity event to raise food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.

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I think I hurt my back with some of that shambling. You’d think I’d have finished that assignment for Angel Lite comics or gotten more work done on Violent Blue, being out of commission like that….

 

 

 

 


Injustice : Gods Amoung Us

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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.

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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.

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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!


Free Comic Book Day 2013

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I started my Free Comic Book Day this year at Midnight. Well, actually a little before, 405895_10151573825462278_1154100036_nheading out to Carol and John’s comic shop for the Midnight release party.The midnight party features free comics, specially brewed drinks and food along with sales and costumes. I went to this a couple of years ago with my friends John and Carl, and remembered not liking it, but didn’t quite remember why.

The two and a half hour wait in line may have had something to do with it. I remember it being crowded, but not this crowded….and we were waiting forever. The young lady in the great Doctor Who shirt (Complete with a button that said “come along Pond!”) that I was in line with was getting a little worried that there might not be much left if we ever go in. (By the way, if your reading this, I owe you an apology. I was in a bad mood and didn’t realize we would be out there so long. I should have talked to you more and been friendlier. I was rude to just stand and read my book as much as I did). On Superman_CustomFacebook I joked with folks that we should have headed to the party and played a game of Heroclix while we waited. Seriously, there was enough time to get in a full game while in line. If I do this party again next year, I’m planning something like that. Cards or heroclix or SOMETHING.

Still, we eventually got in and I got my first selections, including the Cleveland edition of Superman. That was one I definitely wanted, especially since we’re celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the character – or trying to at least.

Madeline had ballet the next morning and we weren’t about to let her take off just to trot around town trolling for comic books with Daddy. We suited Lydia up and were batgirlready when Maddie got home at 11. We tossed her costume on, packed a lunch and headed back to Carol and John’s for the costume contests.

Wow.

We had no idea that half of the places we went for Free Comic Book Day would be OUT by the time we got there. Perhaps we need to start earlier, but it also seemed like there were a bunch more people out this year than before.

600745_569131633131264_696461426_n I saw the  line at Carol and Johns and my heart sank a little. It was as long this afternoon as it was at midnight. Ugh. The girls wouldn’t last an hour or two of waiting like that. Still, we were there in time for the costume contest, so the girls got their numbers and headed up. Maddie and Lydia were in different age categories, so they weren’t competing against each other. I think I’ve very glad for that.

To my great delight (and perhaps a little surprise) both of my girls placed. Lydia got third (and lost out to the cutiest set Power Puff girls EVER) while Maddie got second in her division. I couldn’t be happier.

321454_569132826464478_884028288_n 601916_569130963131331_525149132_n941203_569131093131318_799551964_nNext off, we headed out to Parma to swoop down the Polish corridor. B and L comics  was out, however  he had a few ones from last year and older on the counter to try and still have something for people….my girls and I were at the counter making our purchases (we raided the .50 box) and were asking about which free ones he still had and folks were reaching around us to snatch them away before my two little girls could get anything! How rude!

Traffic was bad enough that we skipped Northcoast Nostalga…a shame too, because 128880_457630_60they always have great discount bins – .25 and .35 bins, and I always rummage through those. York was running out, but the girls got some Strawberry Shortcake there and we bought some Trinity (because they had Wonder Woman on the cover). I also got my Uglydoll comic here. This was just the coolest offering the FCBD! The girls loved looking at the statues and figures. York was running out too, so they pulled stacks of old issues from the back and set them up on the free table so everyone could still get something. Very cool guys. On the way to our next stop, I became aware of Maddie talking in the back seat. Not to me….no she was reading on of the strawberry shortcake comics she had just gotten to her sister.

Thank God for Comics are Go! in Sheffield. They still had a decent stock and had save me one of the FCBD  Iron Man 3 heroclix! You guys saved the day. Seriously. Heroclix_New-300x300The girls had been getting a little discouraged. The other thing Comics Are Go! managed to find for me was a copy of the Walking Dead comic for this year. Not one place we went had that one still in stock. In fact, Mike ran into the back  and dug that and a Judge Dread out for me I wouldn’t have gotten these comics otherwise. Then again, that’s one of the things about having a shop you go to regularly. In fact,  I think next year, we may mostly just do Comics Are Go. (Maybe the midnight party at Carol and Johns, but maybe not).

While we were in Comics are Go! Maddie kept looking around at the toys and other 128886_457754_62comics, and she discovered the My Little Pony comic book. She asked me if we could get that one too, and I said yes (like last year, we want to buy something at every stop to do what little we can to support these places). She was also looking at the figures and discovered the Wonder Woman line – A Circe figure and a special agent Diana Prince figure. She brought those up the Scott, the store owner and asked why the boxes said “Wonder Woman” when it didn’t look like Wonder Woman inside. He smiled and explained who the figures were. It was unbearably cute.

Of course we dressed up. Me too. I tried something different this year, my costume was Perry White, with Maddie as She-Ra and Lydia as Batgirl. Funny, Lydia’s always 21305_569069549804139_1496418892_nrefused to wear masks, but this year she came up to me first thing in the morning and asked me to make her a mask for her costume! Rushed in to the basement to find some foam and elastic, but we got it done!

By the time we got home we were all tired and Maddie was eager to tear into the Lego set she won in the costume contest. The girls asked for a Wonder Woman cartoon so I fired up Netflix and turned on the Wonder-Woman centric episodes of Justice League. We played with Legos and plowed through our piles of comics. We didn’t bring home as many this year. The girls had about seven each. I 935666_569131116464649_793281673_nhad about twenty. I know they were a little disappointed by that, but we still had a fun day out and I still had plans for the evening. After all, what better way to end FCBD than with Iron Man 3 at Amherst Cinemas? I still had a dollar left over from comic book shopping and managed to scrape together two more dollars in change (remember the days when you could still hit a movie using the change you found in you couch or car seats?)

I got to the theatre just before the movie was supposed to start. Just in time to see them put the “Sold Out” sign up.

@#$%&!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comics shops running out of comics? Comic movie running out of tickets? I’m beginning to see a theme here. Time to pop in the Scott Pilgrim DVD I borrowed from the Library and try again tomorrow.

I did make it in on Sunday. Probably the best Iron Man movie of all of them, I prefer this director. However, while I liked it better than any of the other Iron Man movies, but I still  think it needed 30% more Tony-in-the-suit. It seems like the entire point of these films is to get tony out of the armor….I get that they are trying to make up for it by throwing in War Machine/ Iron Patriot, but honestly, for a film called “Iron Man” Iron man is actually not in it very much. I think we had more screen time with Tony-in-the-suit in Avengers. And poor Tony, he was getting tossed around worse than Bruce Campbell in an old cabin.

I really like the Iron Patriot suit though. I’ve got a bunch of foam in my attic. Wondering if I could make a suit….I think my cosplay for Lake Effect Comic Con might be Tony with just the arm and leg armor from the escape sequence. We’ll see.

We’ll close  this with some photos from the midnight party and FCBD. Some of these are mine, some are culled from around Facebook. And remember, new Violent Blue is up today!

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Hannibal

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So I watched Hannibal last night. It’s rare I actually make time to catch a broadcast like this, but I love the Lecter series. I read my mother’s copies of the first two books as a teenager, long before I saw Manhunter or Silence of the Lambs on TV.

The show is badly miscast. While I like Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham, the other cast members are just throwing me off. 4Lawrence Fishbourne is a capable actor and I’m actually looking forward to him as Perry White in this summer’s Superman movie. He worked well in CSI and we don’t even need to mention the Matrix movies. Jack Crawford seems an ill fit for him though. I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps he’s too cool – too clean. Crawford should be a grizzled veteran FBI agent. Direct and to the point, in suits with washed out colors and ties that came off the rack with no thought towards fashion. Fishbourne has always just felt too….affable. I don’t like it.

By far though the biggest offender here is Lecter himself. I’m not married to the image of Anthony Hopkins. Really I’m not, though I’d have to admit he is the definitive performance and anyone else has nigh impossible shoes to fill….still, Brian Cox managed to do a perfectly serviceable job – and years before Hopkins ever came near the role.

1Mads Mikkelsen’s accent is incomprehensible. I have to struggle to understand what he is saying half the time, quite a surprise too. I rarely notice accents. This needs to get better or grow on me REAL quick.

The accent is just part of the problem though. He comes off far too cold. Lecter is always intelligent, refined, but also engaging. Warm in his own way. He’s easy to love as long as you don’t offend him. Mikkelsen is just…. there. It almost feels that in an attempt to give a performance that is distinctly different from Hopkins, he failed to check out the source material (not only the movies, but the books as well).

The writing is excellent. The story is engaging and the dialogue rings true. I can see these characters saying these words. I bet they look dynamite in a script. The delivery just kills them. I’m so dissapointed, this is tragic.

From the trailer at the end, I like where the series is going. I do think they should put less emphasis on Hannibal eating. It’s funny, but the cannibalism always seemed like a minor part of the books, a necessary shock and motive but not a driving component in any of the stories. It’s just a fact of life for the gourmet.

Otherwise we get Graham sinking deep into the profiles he’s doing, the partnership between him and Lecter and the relationships beginning to form. I really like the story, I just hate the cast and I’m hoping the series can overcome this, otherwise I’ll be jumping ship after the first couple episodes.

Maybe I can just find the scripts and read those instead. Something to think about while I create next week’s Violent Blue.

2


Super Bowl

See, my problem is that when I hear the words “Super Bowl” this is what comes to mind.

Yeah, I made this joke inViolent Blue a couple of weeks ago, but really wanted to get on paper that image I had visualized!


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!


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.


Anniversary

Today is my Wedding Anniversary (I know some of you were thinking this would be a Violent Blue anniversary. Nope, more important.)

So why is there a picture of Superman here? Simple. The new film “Man of Steel will come out next summer, durring my 11th year of marriage.

The traditional gift for 11 years is Steel.

Just saying. God is paying attention.


Superman 2 : Donner vs. Lester

I was really excited to show off the Richard Donner autographs he mailed me, but it seems like a good opportunity to talk a little bit about the Donner cut of Superman 2.

I’ve got a fun habit of watching a kind of “alternate” Superman. We all know that the first two movies were filmed mostly back to back and were intended to stand as a unified whole. Most people are fine watching the theatrical cuts of 1 and 2. It’s a good 3-4 hours. My preference however is to throw in the Salkind international cut ( this is one that was shown on TV, with a good hour of extra footage) and then follow it up with the Donner cut of 2. It’s a long 5-6 hour block to do it, but you get an experience like no other.

To be fair, I’m not a Lester hater. The theatrical cut of Superman 2 is still one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. There’s a strength to the script and a mythology that’s just remarkable. We may sense more magic from Donners parts – Lester was really just a hired gun. In fact  there are scenes that Donner filmed that Lester reshot, and shot exactly the same. No different angles, just a different color necktie or something.

The biggest differences are things the studio interfered with. The ending, and more importantly – Brando. Having Jor-El in Superman 2 changes the whole tone of the film. It changes the feel when Superman gives up his powers. You can almost see accusation in Jor-El’s eyes, aimed at Lois as the de-powering occurs. The loss at the end of the movie as Jor-El restores Superman’s powers has a different flavor. Brando’s contribution to this film cannot be overstated. He may be more important to this movie than he was to the first.

The Salkind International cut of Superman 1 isn’t commercially available, but  tech savy people can probably track it down. otherwise, pick up a copy of the extended version and pair it with the Donner cut of Superman 2 and watch this movie again for the first time.


Thank You Richard Donner!

 

Do I really even need to say anything else? How cool is this?

I’ll tell you what, Taylor over at Violent Blue would plotz.


Top five favorite superheros

So last week we were discussing Maddie and Lydia’s love of She-Ra – a series that predates them by twenty years….and it occurred to me that I have a similar affection as my girls,  to characters that were popular and then almost forgotten, long before I was born.

If you’ve see some of the earlier Violent Blue strips, you’ll note I like top five lists. It’s a habit developed from watching “High Fidelity” too many times, but that only makes sense as it’s one of my top five all time favorite films.

If you ask me who my top five favorite superheros are right now I’d list off :

1.Superman

2. The Shadow

3.The Green Hornet

4.Spider-Man

5.Daredevil

Now those bottom two change around sometimes. I know that Nightwings been in there (until the book became too popular and Chuck Dixon left it), not to mention Batman or Green Lantern or Gambit. Those top three however….those have remained the same for over twenty years. You can find drawings of the Shadow and the Green Hornet  in my sketchbooks dating back to fifth grade. There are Vhs tapes with the Green Hornet recorded off of a television station that no longer exists…probably around 1988.  And Superman…well that just speaks for itself.

So why do I have such a fascination with these characters? It likely has to do with my father. My father and I are very different people and we don’t really get along these days. A few trust issues. However, when I was a child, we would watch the old George Reeves Superman TV show, and he would tell me stories about The Shadow…or The Green Hornet. I’d lament the fact that I couldn’t listen to those old radio shows he remembered. It saddened me I’d never read the pulps or see the old Shadow films. It made me seek these things out – a cassette of the Shadow radio show. A comic book here and there. I collected “the Shadow Strikes” from DC like mad. I jumped right on the NOW bandwagon when they were publishing “The Green Hornet”. The internet eventually allowed me to assemble a complete collection of the radio shows and the pulps.

There’s a connection to my father through these characters, just like my girls find a connection to me through characters like Superman and She-Ra. They can’t explain it, they can’t articulate it, but they sense it and it draws them to it.I believe that’s why they fight over my Superman fleece blanket and watch Scooby-Doo meets Batman. From that perspective those costumes they wear make perfect sense, and I hope, that if we ever drift so far apart that there’s nothing else between us, that they will still reach for this kind of common ground.

I believe they will, and I believe that to them, Superman will always mean Daddy….much like it does to me.