Week of 3/16/22 (mostly)
It was finally time last week. The moment I’ve been waiting for, one of my most intense anticipated books in a good long while. Worlds Finest finally hit The shelves. You basically have my attention, just by putting the yellow oval behind the bat symbol. In fact, I really like the general character designs that were seeing for both Batman and Superman here. Very traditional, very much my generation.
What we get, is part one of what promises to be a fun adventure, featuring more than a few familiar faces, all designs like Lex Luthors Super Powers battle armor and traditional Batman villains. It’s all good, it’s all solid, and quite frankly, it’s the first time in a very long time – years – that I feel like I’m sitting down and reading a new comic book that was written for me. I’m really enjoying this already, and I am hard and fast on this series all the way. If DC still offered subscriptions, I’d already be there.
Also in the black label line is the flashes rogues book. This one I’m not so sure how to feel about. It’s in the future, kind of an old man Logan take… I’m hot and cold on it. Not sure if I like it or not yet. I really don’t like that Boomerang is dead (basically my main gateway to the Rogues) though the take on the young Trickster is actually pretty interesting. Not really enjoying Bronze Tiger being cast as a villian this time around though. I’m hoping we see him wrestle with his violence and morality, the way John Ostrander used to so intelligently write him. The whole thing is a real jumble that has me off balance. I’m willing to give it one more issue though.
I even took a peek in this week’s Harley Quinn.
The art is AWFUL. It’s so wierd and loopy and cartoon and it just feels cheap. Also I know that they’re kind of trying to sell Harley as a hero these days because of her popularity, but really I feel like she’s lost a lot of her edge. The Harley Quinn I know wouldn’t be heading to jail trying to be cute and avoid any confrontations. The Harley I know would saunter in with a joke and a cute smile, and then stab a chick. Ugh. Such a disappointment.
It goes about as you would expect, and it’s really cute as a fun little one shot. Of course, even as I’m writing this, my daughter has informed me that it’s NOT a one shot… And in fact just A few days ago, they posted part two… where Spider-Man is cat sitting this time.
You know what? This was fun the first time, but comes off as a little silly and excessive going any further. Still, definitely catch up first one.
That’s right, they put out an Alligator Loki comic book! Thor stumbles across our scaly friend as he tumbles out of a portal, and in an attempt to bond with this version of his brother, he takes him to an asguardian amusement park. It’s just the best thing ever. I don’t know what delights me more. Watching poor little alligator Loki try and hold on as they ride the roller coaster, or just the sight of him in one of those across the chest baby harnesses as Thor carries them around. Seriously. It was my absolute favorite thing all last week.
There’s an interesting approach to the Shadow Man, trying to treat him almost as a priest rather than just a warrior or a superhero. This is interesting, it’s a good and natural evolution of this character as we have added progressively more voodoo and horror elements to the series over the last couple of decades. Here we find him battling the incarnate spirit of the Deadside, in attempt to prevent the land of the dead from merging with the land of the living. I feel like I just saw a bunch of the story in Legend of Korra, but it remains solid. It’s one of those though that I think I might rather wait for the trade then chasing down individual issues. I’m still a little lukewarm on this version. I like it, but I feel like it needs more. Honestly what this really needs is a good supporting cast… I was so hoping that this dead side goddess would end up being Jack’s old housekeeper Nettie. I’ve been keeping with the sort of slight paranoia and twists that we used to get from the book. There’s still a solid foundation here, what it really needs is someone with a good long-term vision – I mean five years or so who can create a supporting cast around Jack figure out a good nightmare and bring back some recurring arch enemies. (in the previous issue, we got a brief appearance by master dark in Sandria and I was so excited for half a millisecond until they just use them as a throwaway villain… Such a bummer!)
Now. How about television?
The Food That Built America is back on, and I am enjoying that, there’s definitely some stuff about Dairy Queen in Carvel that I never knew. There’s a new show with Adam Richmond on after it too – Adam eats the 80’s which explores lost and changed food and candy from the 1980’s it’;s been far more interesting and fun that it has any right to be. It’s a good thing too, because I had an opening in my TV schedule – Superman and Lois was on a break last week and the Flash… I don’t know what it is the season. I almost feel like the mandate is “show the flash as little as possible“ after these last two episodes. I mean it’s fun to see Barry trapped in the locked down police station and I guess they’d have to take away his powers to make that work, but seriously. We’re getting two or three minutes of costume time each episode and I feel like I’m back in the 80s again where are these type of programs we’re still trying to pretend they weren’t superhero shows.
I’ve done both Pinhead and skinless Frank, and loved compositing the two together. I’m my own hellraiser movie all by myself….
A god vs a devil….
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?
Lake Effect Comic Con
First time out to Lake Effect Comic Con, and I really wasn’t expecting much. I’ve seen the pics from last year and while it didn’t look as lame as the Jeff Harper Cleveland Comic Con I went to a couple of months ago, it still looked very small and I wasn’t sure how much fun it would be. Still, they try harder, adding panels and guests and contests, and I DID advertise it last year in Violent Blue since my friend Jim was talking about it. Finally I figured that if I was willing to drive three hours to PA for a horror con where I had to pay for a ticket to get in, that there was no reason I couldn’t drive the one hour to the east side of Cleveland for a free Comic Con.
I’m really glad I did. This was an incredibly fun convention. I’d still wish for better guests, but they did bring in Bob Ingersol and Frank Cho, so I really don’t have that much to complain about. Frank was nice enough to sign a piece of art he did for the He-Man box sets and I got to watch him draw for a while. That was very cool to see.
The movies were a surprise. I knew they were doing screenings all day – the con was IN a movie theatre and they had one of the screen all to themselves. I expected superhero movies. Instead they were doing “Despicable Me”, “Spirited Away” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” .I arrived too late for “Despicable Me”, but oh my GOD I got to see “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” ON THE BIG SCREEN! Bela Lugosi, Glen Strange and Lon Chaney! I don’t care if this was one of the much maligned comedy monster gang movies…I’ve never gotten to see the real universal monsters on the big screen before. I’d have happily paid admission for that one!
I pulled out my Doc Ock costume for the costume contest. There were a lot of fun cosplayers there (not as many as I wanted to see, but the ones that were there were fun). I’m actually a little disappointed that I didn’t win. I mean, the Hugo Strange costume that did win was good, but really, it was almost the same as what I had on. White lab coat, shirt and tie, and dark sunglasses. Except my white lab coat also had FOUR METAL ARMS coming out of it!
As soon as Hugo was announced as the winner, he turned to me and said “Okay, I have GOT to get a picture with you!” Which was very cool. If I could have reached my phone I would have had them shoot a pic for me as well. Oh well, maybe it’ll turn up on facebook. His companion had the cutest Pinkie Pie (if she were Human) outfit on. Actually at first I was thinking it was Strawberry Shortcake. However when she announced it during the contest it made perfect sense. I actually thought my biggest competition was going to be the guy in the Mario costume with the turtle shells and box that made noise.
Of course the costume wasn’t without it’s problems. It was a windy day. I had just gotten the last arm on and suddenly I heard a *SNAP*! The wire that connects the arms together and allows the lower arms to move had broken off. This has happened before, but usually I had access to a glue gun or I could pop a hole through and tie it up. The wire has gotten a little to short for that this time, and the previous hole had been glued over. It took some fiddling, but I eventually punched a new hole in the arm with my keys and clamped the line to a paperclip that I put inside the arm so it was too big to pull out. It held for the half hour or so I was in the suit, which was all I needed. I’m going to have to find a way to attach those more securely. Stupid wind. I blame Thor.
Throughout the day I did check in on the Heroclix tournament going on. I saw Sam who was surprised I wasn’t playing, but really, I’m not a competitive player and I honestly didn’t want to be stuck in t hat side room all day. I caught Sean on the way out who was in good spirits but mentioned he played terribly! I haven’t been out playing for about a month and it was nice to see everyone and to check out some of the new figures from Origins.
The dealers room worked surprisingly well in the small space. I’m pretty sure I saw a lot of these same vendors at the last con I went to, but I’m always on the look out for interesting stuff and deals. I went a little nuts on the .25 bins….
I’m glad I made a couple of extra passes in that room though, because in one of the far corners, buried at the back of a table in a box where you couldn’t see what was in it, I found a bunch of the 2002 He-Man figures – $5 each. Right in the middle was a Teela.
Here’s the thing you have to understand. Mattel operates on the school of thought that girl figures don’t sell, so they get shorter production runs and are ALWAYS shortpacked. To make matters worse, the MOTU line was badly mishandled when it came to case ratios. instead of the promised “four commons, two girls and one rare” packages , you might get “six commons and a girl” or “five commons and a rare”. (The numbers aren’t really accurate, but it’s a good example of what retailers went through on this line). This causes an artificial shortage. I never expected to own one of these (or an Evil Lynn for that matter) because the scalpers want $25 for them minimum. I think I see her at Jamies Flea Market for $30. I checked eBay last night and saw several for $60. I got mine for $5!
After finding more cosplayers to photograph, I finally wandered int to catch “Spirited Away” It was about 1/3 in, but the remainder was still amazing….and really messed up. It’s actually exactly what I remember loving about Anime. Probably not enough to get me back into it, but a really fascinating movie.
I plundered the freebie table for goodies to bring home to my girls. It was funny, Lydia looked in the bag and said in a disdainful voice “You got me a button?” She and Maddie were both way more interested in the tattoos I brought home for them. Maddie wanted to put on the Supergirl and Wonder Woman ones right away, but she still has four more days of school and it’s against the dress code. Soon. Very soon.
I pulled out the stack of comics and started to sort them – I want to get these entered in my database and shelved correctly so they don’t get lost. Maddie jumped up and asked “Can I help you sort them? I’m GOOD at sorting! I do it at school!” She was good at it. We had 60 new comics organized in no time, and they girls immediately took my new Teela figure to play with before I even got a chance to look at her!
All in all, this was a really nice show and I’m grateful to my friend Jim for letting me know about it. This will likely be a regular stop for me on the convention circuit from now on. I know last year wasn’t in the movie theatre, bu that was a great choice and I hope they do it like this in the future.
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.