Last couple weeks’s pulls
It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’ve fallen behind on stuff like comics and television, but I finally made it back out to the shop to pick up my pull list, and a couple of things off the shelf. Nevertheless, my stack was significantly smaller than I would’ve expected.
I’d actually forgotten about the Human Target. It’s been a while since the last issue came out… And seeing this on the shelf made me wonder if I had just missed a few months and the series had wrapped up without me? No. It’s still solicits issue seven at the back, so apparently the title was just paused or late. I’ve got a bone to pick though, with calling this tales of the human target. This is not a human target book. This is a justice league international book. That’s a problem. Not just the branding, but dropping a JLI book into this run, because the thing about justice league international was the book was funny. It was at just the right time, right in the middle of the comics boom, and shortly before the implosion… At a perfect time for an experiment. A perfect time for a silly book that could play with superhero tropes and give us something a little more lighthearted. It worked in that context for a while, but as the market shrink, we would see the pendulum swing back towards adventure and playing it straight with Gran morrison’s JLA.
Human target is not a funny series. And when you drop a group like the JLI into a slightly nihilistic deconstruction, it’s just awful. Justice league international when written as a satire is goofy and silly and fun. But when written as a straight up deconstruction, it makes the heroes look sad and incompetent. It’s just not a fun book.
What’s even more frustrating, is that I was warned. I’ve been enjoying human target, with a quibble here or there, a few decisions I wasn’t big on, but for the most part Tom King has just slightly touched these characters bringing them into visit as side characters in the background.They told me Tom King was up to no good, and I should’ve listened. Because this book right here is no good. I don’t know if it was planned as a bunch of back up stories or a companion piece, maybe something to throw in the back of the tree paper back… Dropping it right here in the middle when you’re already late feels like a misstep. It stops everything dead cold, and quite frankly turns me off enough that I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing the series. Maybe I’ll just take a peek when it’s over.
Ghost Rider on the other hand continues to be good. It’s an interesting supernatural adventure… And one that’s very much in ghost riders wheelhouse. Out in the wastes we called the devils backbone, there is an annual motorcycle race… At the end of the race, you meet the devil. When you meet him, you can ask a question or a boon or something… And it’s just a cool concept well done. We need more of that. It’s interesting, because you look at some of the faces here, Dr. doom, wolverine, a lot of familiar marvel characters and it makes sense to put them in this context, that’s sort of desperation. It’s almost reminiscent of the secret six story arc about the various villains chasing after what basically amounted to a get out of jail free card, only for hell. I like this. It’s one of the better runs of Ghost Rider I’ve ever seen, and I hope they keep the creep and the quality up.
Over at Iron Man I am again a little confused, because it felt like I missed an issue. No, this is actually going back in time a bit. Before the previous issue where Tony’s captured and fighting for his life, we’ve got a rewind to remind ourselves of his relationship with war machine. That’s gonna be important, because war machine someone coming after him, complete with that black stealth suit that we see painted onto the cover. It’s a set up and a pause and again, I have to note that these sort of stories really do killed him I meant about the title, but at least in this case, it’s done well and stays engaging. Unlike that pause in human target, this issue does a good job of setting up where we’re going next.
And then there’s Batgirls. This title is also in the middle of what feels like a bridge story. We’re kind of done with the last arc, and setting up the next one, which gives us a nice excuse to hang out with the Batgirls for shenanigans. And shenanigans it is. Look, one of things I’m really enjoying here is the character development. You know, I dipped in and out of Cassie‘s Batgirl series back in the day. I was particularly interested in the brief “will they or one day“ with Superboy, and shocked by the whole “getting fired“ storyline. There was good stuff here and there on the cruise ship, things that helped us get to know Cassie, but the entire point of her character is that she doesn’t have any character. She’s basically a blank slate, and it’s harder to develop that and draw it out when you’ve just got her paired up with a mentor like Barbara. Pairing her up with Stephanie, I feel like we see so much more character development here in these nine issues than I’ve seen in the past 10 years with the various appearances in and out of her own series.
There’s also some interesting character development going on over in Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some carryover from the past series, particularly in how they’re handling Norman Osborne. It’s interesting, I’ll definitely give you that. There’s so much here that I like, and yet I’m still not sure if it’s enough to balance out the frustration over what I don’t know. This is one of those titles where I find myself more often than not dipping in and out of i’m not consistent with my reading on this one, simply because without enough information, I just don’t feel committed. The JR JR art isn’t helping me any either, but I’ve looked past that before and the colorists really does help prop him up.
Nevertheless, the writer definately has a handle on Peter’s voice. Spidey is always at his best when the writer gets him and his humor, and I think my single favorite moment in this issue is when the Vulture complains about Spidey telling someone he’s a murderer –
“But aren’t you trying to murder me right now?”
Then there’s She Hulk. Not necessarily a comic, but certainly a comic property. The first episode was OK. I think OK is really the operative word, otherwise some things that I didn’t care for. In particular, don’t let your kids watch the after credit sequence. Dropping that F bomb was a little bit shocking and didn’t make any of us particularly happy. The series has of course gotten the majority of his coverage over Jennifer‘s rant about how she does being angry better than Bruce… I don’t need to cover that here, except to say it was a dumb thing to insert. It’s not compelling, if anything it’s a self-inflicted wound. I can blow it off though, because this Jennifer Walters… She’s not a good person. She’s narcissistic self involved and aspires to victimhood. “She Hulk? That name better not stick. I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?“ Well no. You can’t. Because that’s exactly what you are… A derivative of the Hulk. That’s what the character always was! It’s stuff like this it just turns me right off and sours the stuff that actually manages to be funny. I think Mecharandom42 on Youtube put it best – “Stop lecturing me about how bad you have it.” I agree. You office and home are WAY nicer than anything I’ve ever had. It’s just…..*sigh*.
And the funny parts? You’ve already seen all of episode one in commercials basically. It’s not untill we get into part two that we really start to get in to the story, but even then, the pity party continues. Jen is hired by a firm developing a new superhuman division. However, they want her because she’s She-hulk. She walks through the halls, bitter and angry; “I’lll never know if they hired me for my skill or just because I’m She-Hulk!”. No, you do know. You ABSOLUTELY were hired because you’re She-Hulk. And it’s gotten you a massive corner office and high salary. Here I’m just hoping that this is a character arc and that she’s a better person on the other end of this, because right now- she LOOKS like She-Hulk, but the character is still utterly unrecognizable. The Jen Walters I know, doesn’t resent being She-Hulk. Big and green actually gives her confidence and makes her feel beautiful and empowered, not….whatever this is.
Disney/Marvel? In the words of Sam Wilson – “Do better”.
Last Weeks Pulls 6/22/22
I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no interest in DC‘s Dark Crisis or any of the repackaged 5G that they’re trying to roll out here. They’ve largely made the DCU so unrecognizable to me that it’s off-putting and, the stories just aren’t that interesting.
Now, of course these bad cops take it a step further, hassling kids playing basketball in broad daylight at noon on a Sunday or something…, But I still feel a suggestion that all police activity is harassment, all cops are bad, and that if they just left it all alone, everything will be all right… After all it’s probably the cops causing all the trouble anyhow! It’s a drag too, because I was really liking this book… Until I got smacked in the face with a large baseball bat labeled “the message“.
I know I keep saying this, but it’s a ridiculously self-aware book. The best part of it being, Jack Torrance keep speaking in Jack Nicholson quotes. There’s a lot of Batman quotes here, along with the occasional “You can’t handle the truth!“ At one point he confronts Elvira with a “did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?“ To which she responds “you wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!“ It’s all insanely glorious. There’s a couple of pokes at Kubrick‘s directing style as well, the use of banner slides to tell you which day it is… That sort of thing, and even an acknowledgment of the recent Dr. Sleep film. But the part that’s truly horrifying is when you see what’s written on Jack’s typewriter instead of “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy“. It’s genuinely good stuff, and we can see by the end of this book, that is leading her into her next film… Alien. Once again, I can’t wait.
The thing that is so charming here is that it’s really the best possible venue for the character. Elvira has always been fundamentally a horror host, so dropping her into these movies… It’s really just an extended version of the things that a lot of posts like Zacharly would do, green screening themselves into the movie. Elvira is taking this to a whole new extreme, but it fits. It gives her a chance to be a character, while still retaining her identity as a host.
If you’re a fan of the current ninja Punisher run, You may want to check out Punisher war journal. It’s a nice self-contained story, but it’s a side quest. Definitely something that they’re doing in another book so that they don’t interrupt the flow of the main story going on in the main book. Or journal still evokes a desire for gunplay, and I have to admit, while this is a Punisher story… It’s a Punisher story largely without firearms. There’s a few, but I have to admit I miss them. Then again, props on them for at least giving us a scene or two of ninjas with guns. I understand cinematicly why you never see them using firearms in the movies, but realistically, just like any good spy I would assume a ninja would use any weapon at his disposal… That includes firearms. I think at the end of the day, this is still gonna go down as just one of those “weird“ periods in the Punisher’s history, much like the mobbed up ponytail storyline, or the Demon Hunter one… Marvel’s just not sure what to do with him right now because he’s a little too politically incorrect, but at the same time a little bit too popular to just rest the character. I’d still prefer all of this is the side quest, and alternate universe whatever sort of thing, but I’m still enjoying the ride a lot more than I expected to, so I’m sticking with this.
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?
It was Merc team against my Brute squad. Now, to be fair, the dice were really rolling my way all night and I was making insane successes. Jessie was having the exact opposite kind of luck.
I don’t usually roll with Brutes – I prefer ranged attackers and would like to use some skill….except I really don’t have much skill as far as clix goes! Still I wanted to try out that Composite Superman and the Joe Fixit (grey Hulk) I got and it seemed like a good game to try it.
There was t his one moment when my Hulk Robot (one of those figures I got ENTIRELY because it looked cool – but it’s turned out to be a nice little piece after all) had Deadpool and Bob : Agent of Hydra based. Deadpool was maxed aout and about to get a big Hulk Smash with a light object. Bob rolled breakaway and ran for the hills. I kind of see the entire encounter going a little like this:
I think the guys over at th PC Repair on Wheels blog may be right. The Avengers merchandising has gotten a little out of control.
Still, not often I get a post that hits the interests of both Steve and Taylor from Violent Blue huh?
I did finally manage to get out to the Avengers movie this weekend. I loaded up the girls and we hit the local Drive-in. Now if I wanted to be controversial or appear overly intellectual, I could say I didn’t like it. However, that’s not really true. It was a fun movie, and it was everything it promised to be. A big spectical superhero action flick that finally combines different franchises in a huge mash-up. It was fun.
But that’s where it stops.
In spectical , it lives up to the hype. But there’s really no story there. There’s not much in the way of character development. It’s just….meh. It’s a mindless action film – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ahhhnald made a career of that. Stallone isn’t far behind. I don’t object to the movie being a check-your-brain-at-the-door action flick. I object to people saying it’s the greatest film ever. My friend Jim mentioned that it ruined him for all other movies! That’s a GREAT line, but this film doesn’t deserve that kind of praise.
I think I get it. You see, this is the kind of film that most of us have waited our entire lives for. I’m not just taking about pop culture junkies or comic book fanboys either. Anyone who went to see Superman in the theatre and then came home and watched Wonder Woman and Batman on TV and wondered “Why can’t they put all of these guys in the same movie?”(and seriously, was there anyone who’s under forty right now that DIDN’T do that?)…this is the film you’ve been waiting your entire life for (possibly without even knowing it). Even if you grew up and haven’t thought about superheros in twenty or thirty years, a part of you remembers. That part of you is affected and we react on a visceral level.
The cool thing about all of this is that it’s a good payoff. You get elements from the Iron Man films, the Thor and Cap movies and it almost feels like a reunion. It definitely gets the flavor of each of those franchises right, without short-changing any of them. If anything, I think it’s the best Iron Man movie of all. Joss Whedon understands something that Jon Favreau does NOT. If your going to make a movie about superheros…SHOW THE SUPERHEROS! Iron Man spent probably half of the film in his armor as opposed to the ten minuets he was in the suit cumitivly over the two Iron Man movies. I like that, and didn’t feel shortchanged at all with less Tony and more Iron Man.
I want to say that you just can’t go wrong with Cap, but a history of terrible Cap films obviously proves me wrong. Nevertheless this was a GREAT outing for him. The current handling of him has been really well done and it actually sent chills down my spine when he was diving out of the plane and telling the pilot about Thor “There’s only one God, and he doesn’t dress like that.”. Speaking of Thor, he was used well, and not overused as I feared he might be. looking at the heroclix set, he’s the most powerful piece and I was a little afraid that might be represented too much in the movie. It wasn’t and I’m very happy with that.
I asked my girls what their favorite character in the movie was. Maddie immediately piped up “Silly Hulk! Smashing that bad guy!”. I’m not a huge Hulk fan, at least in the movies. I got to admit this was a great use of him. I was really surprised at how well they managed to use him and make him a more sympathetic character. He probably had the biggest laughs of the entire movie.
All in all, it’s a good movie. It shouldn’t win any awards and I would not consider it a contender for the top five best Superhero films of all time, but it absolutely kept it’s promises and was a true pay off to the other Marvel films. I’ll be looking forward to part two. I bet the guys over at Violent Blue are too.