I like mashup films. I think they’re great fun. One of the best times I had at the movies last years was with The Warrior’s Way or as it is affectionately referred to in most circles “Cowboys vs. Ninjas.” There’s nothing wrong with a little pulpy crossover action to waste some time at the theater. Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau, is an admirable effort that has many great components but fails to fit together to form a perfect overall picture. The cast is superb; Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Walton effing Goggins…but a good majority of the material they’re given really doesn’t merit their involvement. The overall product is just too bland for its own good. It’s a summer blockbuster, so some level of pandering to the lowest common denominator is expected, but the truth is that at no point in the course of the film do they aim to do anything really memorable. I’m sure I’ll have forgotten most of the film by this time tomorrow which is why I’m writing the review now, basically thirty minutes after the credits started to roll.
Let me say what does work; Daniel Craig cuts a good figure as the classic “man with no name” archetype here, a testament to his screen presence elevating the material enough that we as an audience want to stick it through until the end. Harrison Ford is more lively and vivid here than he has been in years and it serves to remind us why at one point he was the biggest movie star in the world. Sam Rockwell being Sam Rockwell. He can do no wrong and here is no exception. Favreau must have had a hell of a time working with him on IronMan 2 to bring him back again for a role that’s especially meaty. Olivia Wilde’s eyes. Dear god. I know some people argue that she’s either the hottest woman on earth or a strange looking creature but I can’t get past her eyes. Cue drooling.
What doesn’t work is a little bit harder to nail down. The film has some pacing problems, bordering on dull on a few occasions. The action scenes are not especially fantastic or captivating. It’s really a case of the people in the cast not getting enough to do. I think a majority of the problems can be traced to the fact that the script has over five credited authors and that’s never the sign of a unified front when it comes to the narrative. It’s a hodge-podge at best. A well shot hodge-podge filled with some great talent, but still a hodge-podge.
And now in the hopes of driving some decent web-hits, I will populate the rest of the post with sexy photos of Olivia Wilde, because that seemed to help in previous posts.
At the NYCC this past weekend, both Marvel and DC promised that costs on their publications would drop in early 2011, with DC stating that their books would drop two pages of content and return to a $2.99 price tag. A good majority of comic fans rejoiced, knowing that most of their books have been $3.99 for a while and that saving a dollar on each of those books would be a huge relief in the long run. Others voiced concerns that cutting content is not the answer and that paying what was the norm not too long ago for less material is not an acceptible comprimise.
Marvel has remained vague on their price changes, noting only that no new regular books will be launching next year at $3.99. I doubt that their major moneymakers like the Avengers or X-Men franchises will decrease in price anytime soon. I think they would sell more issues at $2.99, especially considering the way Bendis writes. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I feel like I don’t get my money’s worth with his decompressed writing. In the long run I greatly enjoy his work, but if I had to pay $3.99 for his Daredevil run way back when I might have gone insane. Seriously, go back and read that run sometime, it’s amazing stuff but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a little padded in some areas.
But I digress…
What does this mean for those of us who still have the disposable income in this economy to collect comic books? I think a good majority of people won’t change their buying habits one bit. They’re not going to use the money saved to buy other titles, they’re going to put it back in their pocket and walk away. It’s not going to do anything to help out the comic publishers. While I’m sure a select few will spread some money around, the majority most likely will not. I’ve been working in a comic shop for close to five years now and I see the way people react to price changes. Granted, this is the first time prices have dropped after going up, but it’s not that dissimilar to running a discount sale. You offer a discount and people will use it on what they were already getting and then shove the money they save back in their wallet and walk away. I don’t blame them. All I hear from people is how most of the mainline books have been declining in quality while the prices increased. I hear that gripe about Amazing Spider-Man just about every week. Not everybody feels this way. I personally haven’t liked Spidey this much in years. But the mindset of the consumer right now is heavily influenced by the recession we’re in. They’re picking and choosing their books with a lot more insight. I’m hoping that this price cut will help people discover new books. Take that four extra bucks and buy a book you normally don’t. Jonah Hex is amazing. Supergirl is getting a new creative team and looks like it should be pretty epic. Freedom Fighters is solid. Over at Marvel you’ve got Avengers Academy, Young Allies, or the new Spider-Girl. I’m just saying there’s good stuff out there you should give a chance.
The real interesting element of all this will be to see how the stores handle it. If people do only buy the same books they buy now, that means that the shops will be looking at a smaller profit for the same amount of books sold. In an industry where a lot of stores are hurting for business, this isn’t going to help. I’m lucky enough to work in a shop where even if one department starts to dip, like comics, the others can pick it up; ie. gaming, toys, statues, etc. But what about the small shop in the strip center down the road who works on a very thin margin? It’s not fun to think about but it needs to be discussed so that everybody can stay in business.
Basically this is just me telling you that if you’ve got the extra cash and you really love this industry, put it toward another book when these price shifts happen. You’ll get the added enjoyment of reading something you previously didn’t have the chance to and everybody from the writers and the artists to the people who sell the books get to keep doing so for a long time to come.
I’m a comic fan. I read the books, I follow characters and creators specifically, I have a friggin’ website dedicated to projecting my love/criticisms of the weekly books, but I do not consider myself part of any “fandom.” I don’t claim any character as my own the way some people will (though I will pimp Jubilee and Dazzler any chance I get. UNDER APPRECIATED I SAY!). My recent forays into the world of Tumblr, which is in and of itself a harmless site, have led me to some places that I don’t want to go again. It is a streamlined portion of the internet hate machine the likes of which is not often seen.
I mean, yeah. Look, I can see where it’s funny. I don’t think it’s really meant as a direct statement that books like Birds of Prey shouldn’t exist. I doubt the person that made it gives two shits either way and was just trying to get a laugh. But this thing immediately got reblogged by like eighty bajillion folks and the feminist hordes who champion books like Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman started gnashing their teeth and getting overprotective. And it was at that moment that I had a sort of realization about comics and their part in the readership’s everyday life.
I realize that a healthy portion of the comic reading population latches onto a particular title or character because of how they can relate to the characters within. That is the sign of a character’s strength in their ability to resonate with the reader. But I’ve noticed that any percieved slight against a character or a book is taken extremely personal by the people who have claimed that character as their own. You do NOT want to see what some Wonder Woman fans are saying on Tumblr right now in regards to that new costume. Jim Lee and Stracynski might want to avoid going into public spaces for a little while.
I’ve been accused of taking comics too seriously in the past. I immediately hung my head in shame because that’s the last thing I want to do. When you start taking all of this too seriously, you come off as the kind of fan that the nightly news mocks when they cover a comic convention.
I’m not saying that you can’t be passionate. But the average fan-person seems to deal in black and white absolutism when it comes to “their” character. That anything said that goes against the grain of their definition is inheritly wrong. Is that graphic above insulting to women? Certainly, it’s meant to mock and insult. Was it malicious? I can’t immediately assume so. I’m sure there are plenty of female comic readers who have made similar jokes about the chest-thumping over-wrought masculinity of something like Conan the Barbarian or something similar. I love Conan, I’d probably see such a graphic and say “Heh, yeah,” not call for the burning of male genitalia on a social networking blog.
The Spider-Man Wedding : A Treatise on the Dynamic Nature of the Ever-Shifting Comic Book Status Quo and the Reactions It Produces
Last night I watched my friend get married. Today I feel compelled to write about the demolition of Spider-Man’s marriage by the One More Day storyline. I know it’s been a long time since that particular story arc actually occurred, and that in the two and half years since it transpired we’ve had about five years worth of Spider-Man stories condensed down on us in the Brand New Day format. The fact that we have had so much happen in the Spider-Man universe since the deal with Mephesto ended his marriage is one of the factors that has helped Marvel quietly settle it’s readership into the new status quo. We as readers have mostly adapted to the point where Mary Jane no longer being a regular part of Peter’s life doesn’t register on our radar unless explicitly shoved in our face, ie. whenever Mary Jane shows up and makes cryptic references to the past that never was.
My feelings on the dissolution of the Spider-Marriage are fairly simple. I think that in the context of the story, it was poorly executed, but in the realm of comic-books, where fluidity is the name of the game, I cannot condemn it any more than I can condemn the death of Captain America or the Heroes Reborn debacle, or the Clone Saga for that matter. In the end, the events of One More Day are only as permenant as the popular writers of the day choose to make it. If tomorrow Geoff Johns jumped ship to Marvel with a plan to reunite Mary Jane and Peter, you bet Quesada would bow to his whims because he knows it would garner massive media attention and sales. That’s what it all boils down to, commerce. While comic books are an art form, they are also a business. Joe Quesada made a business decision based off of personal preference. There was no malice intended ot the fans in his action, simply a desire to run the creative side of the Spider-Man franchise that was more in line with what he envisioned as an Editor-In-Chief.
I think that the main reason for the uproar over the end of Peter’s marriage, aside from the qualms with the manner in which it happened, is that the majority of readers for Spider-Man grew up with Peter Parker and Mary Jane interlocked and inseparable. To them, Peter without Mary Jane seems like an incomplete machine, a muscle car without an engine. I’m sure anyone who picks up a Spider-Man book in the aftermath of the One More Day storyline would argue that Mary Jane has no more right to be the definitive Peter Parker significant other than Carlie or any of the other new characters introduced after the end of the marriage at the hands of Mephesto.
I think this all boils down to how in the world of comics, due to the fluidity and ever-shifting organic nature of the medium as a whole, events that add an edge of finality are basically a timebomb. Graduation from High School for teenaged heroes, marriages, deaths, children, etc. These elements serve the purpose of allowing the character to grow, but at the same time put up roadblocks that will eventually have to be dealt with. It’s a paradox in every concievable way.
I think this is why I, along with many other readers, are being drawn to series that have a finite run, with a clear beginning and end. You don’t have to worry about important developments being reversed in a series like The Boys, or The Walking Dead because their nature will not allow for it. Superhero comics do not seem to have that advantage. For long-running serialized characters, there will be change after change and then reversion. For every step gained there will inevitably be two steps back. This isn’t to say that serialized superhero comics are somehow inferior to limited-run series, but the fandom associated with the DC/Marvel superheroes will always encourage this sort of behavior.
My overall contention with all this is that there seems to be an overwhelming negativity when it comes to any change made to a mainstream character. I am simply saying that instead of grousing about it for two and a half years, enjoy the progression of the story that comes in its wake and patiently wait for the eventual return of the status quo that you enjoyed so much. And if you simply can’t handle the things being done to the character in between, find another title that doesn’t cause you so much mental anguish.
After all, comics are supposed to be fun.
Ladies and gentlemen, I drank a 1/2 gallon of Gatorade yesterday. I am more hydrated than I have been in my entire life and I’m pretty sure my brain is suffering because of it. So small talk be damned, it’s review time.
AVENGERS PRIME #1 (OF 5) HA 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #17 2.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1 HA 3.99
IZOMBIE #2 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX NO WAY BACK HC 19.99
JSA ALL STARS #7 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #39 2.99
SERENITY FLOAT OUT ONE SHOT #1 FRANK STOCKTON CVR 3.5
THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
Stand back, I’m prepared to do criticism!
I wasn’t going to pick this one up at all but got suckered into it by Alan Davis’ pretty pretty drawerings. I don’t have much to say about the writing, because it’s typical Bendis fare; but it’s good Bendis fare, as we get some good cathartic character interaction between Tony and Steve that really needed to happen before the whole Heroic Age could take off. While the book seems to be heralded as the reunited Avengers back together for the first time since the Disassembled disaster, they actually spend most of the book’s length separated, which works in establishing what this series will focus on, as it’s definitely tied heavier to Thor than either of the other big three.
I don’t think that this book is truly in any way essential, other than the character interactions between Steve and Tony which could have easily been done in the opening pages of the mainline Avengers book. This is mostly an exercise in capitalism. It’s a cash grab, honestly. But it’s a well written and superbly drawn cashgrab, which is more than I can say for some other recent attempts.
I will be honest and say that I don’t know too much about Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s backstory. The entirety of my knowlege is made up by what was presented in this introductory issue. I enjoyed what was presented but I don’t have the emotional attachment to these characters the way some people do. I will say that from what I saw on the page, this series could be an interesting one as the dynamic and the setup is different from just about every other Marvel b0ok out there right now. It’s a team book without being a team book. The group of specialists that Hawkeye and Mockingbird run with in this book, including none other than Dominic Fortune, give off a dynamic not unlike Birds of Prey, which doesn’t bode well for the inevitable Green Arrow/Black Canary comparisons that are bound to stick with the book despite being much better written than that book ever could have hoped as well as establishing itself as a lynchpin in the Avengers universe.
Hawkeye, despite the fact that I haven’t had much exposure to him, is central to the Avengers dynamic. He’s as attached to Steve Rogers at this point as the Falcon is, and they play on that well in this issue. I think that this series will serve as a nice companion piece to the new Avengers-centric Marvel Universe. I just hope it doesn’t get hamstrung by the fact that Hawkeye is, let’s be honest, a 2nd tier character and series built around those tend to have fairly limited runs. Like Hawkeye’s own series that lasted about twelve issues before getting shut down so he could die in Avengers Dissassembled.
I stopped following the monthly exploits of Jonah Hex about twelve issues back. I just had to find some room to trim on the pull list and I switched it over to trades. But when this came along I had to pick it up because I’m a sucker for original graphic novels. This one is very well done, and feels like the monthly series but with the dial turned up to eleven. Honestly, this feels like what the movie should be. It’s a taut western tale that adheres to and embraces alot of the western tropes and devices, while seeming decidedly modern in it’s raw narrative structure and effectively blunt depictions of violence in the old west.
I’ll say that if you wanted mass market appeal for the character in the weeks leading up to his theatrical debut, you could have gone with an artist that is more easily palatable to the everyday reader, but Tony DeZuniga’s sketchy style fits the character well. He’s done some amazing work on some of my favorite characters, and while I think his style is a good fit for the narrative, some complaints about his artwork are bound to arise.
What I liked most about this book was really how it appeals to any and all Jonah Hex readers. Newbies get a pseudo-origin story and can jump right into the action with no real trouble at all, while old fans will undoubtedly love it for how well it stays in line with what’s come before. It hits all the notes it needs to and then some.
And that’s it for this week. I’m going to focus my attention on these scrumtious extra crispy strips from KFC that I’ve picked up for lunch. They are just aces, and they won’t immediately put you into a death coma like a DoubleDown will. So, that’s just a check in the plus column.
Every Monday, we will bring you a panel, snapshot, or drawing
of the greatest Marvel character of all time
in an attempt to generate awareness of his glory.
This will end only when we run out of
glorious MODOK Material.
Which will be never.
Yesterday while working in the shop, a discussion formulated about this blog and my attitudes toward certain writers or characters. The conversation inevitably led to the question, if I were writing for DC or Marvel, what character would I most like to write and who says I could do any better than the people writing that title at this very moment.
The real truth is that while I absolutely adore the characters of DC and Marvel, I don’t have any true aspiration outside of perhaps a childhood fantasy wish fulfillment scenario to write those characters. I don’t think I’m particularly well suited to writing in that particular field. Not because I dislike serialization or don’t think that I have stories that fit the characters, because I do, but moreso because I would rather self-publish a book entirely of my own design in the mold of fellow Houston writer/artist Terry Moore, or have an original creation published through Image or some other publisher.
I am in fact working on the script for such a series, though I don’t know how I plan to publish it. Either through the same company that I used to print my first novel or to shop it around to publishers like Image. I suppose I need to get an artist on board first, as that would be a major part of getting the thing published in the first place.
But back to that original question, if tomorrow I got a call from the people at Marvel or DC and they said they wanted me to pitch them a story for a character of my choosing, who would I choose to write? Everyone here should know how much I absolutely love Batman. I mean, the first film I can remember seeing was the 1989 Batman movie with Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton. I’m currently wearing my “lucky” bat-symbol boxers as I type this. But I don’t think that I would be able to take the reins of Batman either in his main book or even in an ancilliary mini-series due to the fact that there’s too much hovering over my head in terms of expectations, and I fear that immediately following my run some big name writer would erase my work with the stroke of a pen and all my writing would have been for naught. And were I to do a mini-series it would likely be regarded as insignificant and passed over.
The same goes for characters like Captain America or Spider-Man over at Marvel. I’d be so intimidated by the legacy of those characters that putting my name on the book would render me into a quivering neurological mess.
So who would I like to write?
Over at DC, there’s only one choice:
That’s right damnit, Power Girl.
Why? Because I love fun characters, and PG is one of the most fun DC has to offer. I feel like she has been written extremely well by some really talented people, especially the current creative team, whom I will be sad to see depart with this week’s issue # 12. That having been said, there is plenty of room for expansion on the character. I think that there are many writers who are two quick to see what’s been done with her and reduce the book to a one note joke or they don’t know what to do with the character at all.
I would like to take hold of Power Girl and expand on the great work that Jimmy and Justin have done, and bring her to prominence in a way that makes it hard for her to be ingnored in the grander scheme of the DCU. Essentially do for her what Marvel has done for Ms. Marvel lately. Her book may not have been a mega-seller but it did raise her level of recognition and ingrain her into the rest of the shared universe, making her a central character. PG may be a member of the JSA but she’s not popping up in other books simply because she’s such a public figure in the whole of the DC universe.
In the grand scheme of things I suppose most of the characters I would most enjoy to write would be the ones who have been written well in the past but aren’t really very prominent when you look at the progression of the shared universe as a whole. Over at Marvel I’d love to write She-Hulk, Wonder Man, and I’d really like to try my hand at The Runaways even though I know that the internet would condemn my writing before a page ever hit the stands.
Will any of this ever come to fruition? Probably not. I think my teeth gnashing towards Geoff Johns has essentially black-listed me there at DC, and I’ve been fairly vocal about my displeasure with Marvel from time to time. I’ll have to publish my own horse-crap from here until the end of time.
Such is life.
You know what the best part of yesterday’s “Avengers Day” festivities were? Seriously? When my co-worker brought in cake. Volstagg understands where I’m coming from when I straight up tell you that even the crappiest day could be saved by cake. I mean, obviously when the zombies come and the fecal matter hits the rotating blades, cake isn’t going to make up for that, but I guarantee you that it won’t not help. That’s a promise.
AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #2 2.99
DEADPOOL #23 HA 2.99
EXECUTOR HC (MR) 19.99
GALACTA DAUGHTER OF GALACTUS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #26 HA 2.99
SCALPED TP VOL 06 THE GNAWING (MR) 14.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #3 (OF 4) 2.99
X-FACTOR #205 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #236 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #1 2.99
I’m not gonna lie, dear readers…this week was slim pickin’s after last weeks full frontal assault by the big two. I will however give you what I can, as is my journalistic duty.
AVENGERS # 1
Let me get this out of the way, compared to New Avengers, this is about as Avenger-y an Avenger book can get. Sure, there’s a lot of Bendis’ trademark standing around and talking, but having recently re-read Busiek’s awesome run, there was a fair amount of expositional dialogue slinging in that era too, and I don’t know too many people who badmouth that run. Mostly out of fear that George Perez will come for them in the night and annihilate their souls with the power cosmic that he keeps stored in the lining of his Hawai’ian shirts.
Let’s see, Romita artwork? Check.
Clint Barton as Hawkeye? Check.
Steve Rogers giving an inspiring speech? Check
MOTHERF##KING KANG?!?!? CHECK!!!
Seriously, is there anything I think of as being more of an Avengers staple than Kang? No! Because he’s the most ludicrous Avengers villain of all time. He embodies the over-the-top grandiose nature of the book in ways that Dr. Doom or Ultron simply cannot. I know that’s a matter of opinion, but I would consider it to be fact, because that’s just how big my goddamned ego is. Kang has the sort of absurd over the top nature that could only be found within the pages of a comic book. I mean that with all the love and respect it entails. Comics as a medium have the ability to take the completely batshit insane and make it work the way that if you tried it on television or on film, you would be laughed at like a gimpy orangutan in a sailor outfit. Oh, the laughs you would garner if you tried to throw a time traveling despot into the workings of even the most out-there television show you could find. If Kang showed up in his purple helmet on the island on LOST, people would groan and punch themselves in the groin. Well, I would make a high pitched shrieking sound and bounce around the room like a walaby on angeldust, but that’s because I like things that nobody else likes.
The fact of the matter is that Bendis has gone back and made an Avengers book for the people who spent the last six years complaining that his books didn’t feel like they were Avengers books. Are those people really going to be able to make those claims when Kang shows up sporting a doomsday device that was supposedly built by a future version of Tony Stark and tells them that the future of the world depends on their new team triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds? No, those people will have to eat their words like a slice of spongey Avengers Day cake. How does it taste, people? The answer should be chocolate.
Wanna guess what I love more in comics than Kang? Give up?
Yeah, I went there. You think I stuck around through all of Green Arrow/Black Canary because I enjoyed the story. Nope. It’s because I am bound by honor to purchase any and all comics featuring a character whose costume involves fishnets. My brain is hard wired that way. Is that shallow? Maybe. How many people bought Power Girl just because of the boobage? I bought it because I love the character. The boobs are only a fraction of that element, so I suppose that makes me better than everyone else. That’s me, champion of ethics.
Anyway, this issue begins with Zatanna in full bondage mode, chained to a gigantic St. Andrew’s cross while the Joker is set to ram a gigantic drill through her torso. Fan service? You bet your ass. It’s all a swerve, of course. It’s a Zatanna book, nothing is going to be exactly what it seems like. But do you think anybody who just flipped open the book to see a hot brunette in fishnets and sexy boots bound and gagged in pure fetish fuel fashion is gonna put the book back on the rack after that? No. They’ll buy it. They have to. Unless they’re a female who can’t appreciate how friggin’ hot that opening page is. But take a closer look femi-nazis, that panel is all about the empowerment of the female form, that when we view a woman at her most helpless she’s truly always in control. Satisfied? I hope so, because I don’t really wantto overanalyze the book. It all really boils down to the fishnets. Let’s be honest.
I want to come out and say that as far as comics to film translations go, the franchise that seems to have taken the essense of the stories and chracters and adapted them best for the screen has to be the Iron Man series. Every character retains their core in ways that are lost with films like Batman, Superman, and the X-Men films. I think the most telling moment in Iron Man 2 is when Tony Stark is clutching a bottle of champagne, suited up in the armor and scratching the turntables at his birthday party. The film is very comfortable in portraying the character in moments that otherwise would seem awkward. The films embrace the atmosphere that a billionare in a weaponized suit creates. It’s a level of fantasy fulfillment and straightforward production that seems lost in other films. It doesn’t feel very tongue in cheek, it’s just presented at face value and the audience goes with it, because it seems natural.
Which really needs to be the case in a film like Iron Man. It’s like a ride, and you have to be willing to realize that. Iron Man 2 certainly has some setbacks that are evident in most sequels. I however do not see the problem that certain people do, claiming that the film has too many new characters. All the characters introduced in the film do wonders with the time they are given. Sam Rockwell probably does the most with the limited screen time he’s given, making Justin Hammer his own and providing an excellent foil for Tony Stark and the scenes where the two share the screen are absolutely phenomenal. The chemistry between the two actors is amazing. And I think that’s another crux of what makes the film work the way it does; the chemistry that all these actors bring to their roles is as top tier as you can get. Gwenyth Paltrow, who I normally despise, works well with anyone she’s put up against. The same goes for Downey, or Don Cheadle or even Mickey Rourke, who just seethes a sort of dirty despicability. What I like about this film is that it feels like a Marvel book come to life. We get Nick Fury and the Black Widow sharing scenes with Iron Man and War Machine, all these heroes converging on screen in a way we’ve never seen before. In films like The Dark Knight, we got Batman and multiple villains, creating a miniature scale version of this effect, but that was a microcosm while this feels grander in scope.
While some will argue that War Machine and Black Widow don’t get enough time to be fleshed out completely, and therefore giving the producers no reason to use them in the first place, I think the film does a sufficient job in presenting them in such a way that when the inevitable spin-off films happen, they can hit the ground running in ways they previously could not. The origin story is such a boring aspect to most heroes, and most of the time we’re so familiar with them that we get bored when they play out on the screen, or we get angry if they change something in such a way that it betrays the spirit of the source material. I believe that with Iron Man, Marvel is doing an amazing job of world building. They have more room to maneuver than they ever have previously and it’s sad that DC can’t pull off the same feat. I personally would love to see a post-credits scene in Green Lantern where Hal Jordan is tracking a fast moving bogey only to happen upon a red blur that slows down just enough for us to get a glimpse of The Flash. Or maybe he crashes an F-15 into an invisible jet. Who cares, but let us see a larger world.
Like I said, the film is not perfect, and It probably could have used another big action scene to offset the more character driven dialogue pieces. I don’t need action all the time but the first film felt more balanced in this regard. I will admit however that the final set piece in this film trumps the less than stellar Iron Monger fight in the original, even if it is somewhat derivitive of that particular setup.
As a result of the Batman XXX trailer being posted on this blog, just about anytime anyone searches for “porn” and “comic books” in the same Google stream, they end up here. In an attempt to cater to those who have shown up arbitrarily in the hopes of seeing more nudity than they recieved, I have some not quite inappropriate pictures of Lexi Belle, who plays Batgirl in the aforementioned parody.
This was a fun post to research.
Yes, that is me trying to be Tony Stark. Eat it bitches.
So today was Free Comic Book Day or, FCBD if you wanna hashtag that shit on Twitter. I was up at Third Planet, as is my usual routine for such events. I snapped a buttload of pictures of the festivities and got to chat up some new people who came into the store basically as virgins to the world of collecting and comic books and general all around nerdiness. I think a few people walked away with the intention of coming back and hopping into some series sometime down the line. I know a lot of people who picked up the FCBD issue of Iron Man/Thor expressed interest in the new Avengers series and a few picked up copies of Iron Man Legacy and the newest issue of Invincible Iron Man, which really isn’t a bad place to start if you’re going to jump into collecting. Matt Fraction is a badass of the nth degree whose work I will pimp to the moon and back.
But then there are the people who came in simply to get the free book and nothing else. They took their one little giveaway and left, never to be seen again. Or, actually, we’ll see them again next year. I recognize some of them from last year. People who come in once a year to get something for nothing and then disappear into the ether from whence they appeared. The whole idea of FCBD is to get you into the store in the hopes that you’ll buy something else. Support the store that spent their money on the books they’re giving away. Third Planet even had a massive sale. 30% off on Trades and 25% off on back issues. No exceptions. And a healthy selection of people took advantage of that and for that I cannot thank them enough. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea of spending the gas money it requires to drive up to the shop for a single free book and then leave without even browsing the selection in the rest of the store. If they have no interest in comic books or collecting, then why are they bothering with the free book in the first place? It’s sort of a break in the train of logic.
And again, I don’t begrudge these people, because in this economy I can certainly understand wanting some cheap and easy entertainment. But some people don’t understand what kind of work goes into organizing these kinds of events. Last year I was signing my first novel on Free Comic Book Day. I didn’t move many units because a number of the people who walked through the door, who admittedly wanted to try the book, didn’t bother to bring any cash with them in the first place. I’m hoping to use this post as a sort of educational measure, to inform the folks out there that it does cost the stores a healthy amount of money to buy all those free books, and that if they want us to run the promotion in the years to come, spending some money in the store couldn’t hurt.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to work on my Volstagg costume for next year. CAKE!
In case you were wondering where I’ll be this FCBD, there’s the promo flyer right there! I’ll have my camera with me taking pictures and generally having a good time!
I made the horrible mistake of visiting the IMDB boards for this movie shortly after seeing it. I sometimes forget what a cesspool of ignorance and misery that little patch of internet earth is. Nearly every thread was a black hole of negative energy and petty whining. The people who frequent those boards are, by nature, soulless vultures from the bowels of hell whose one purpose in life is to spread malice and discontent like a disease throughout the labryinth of that site’s message board system. Thread after thread of “They Changed This!” or “Watered Down Crap!” or “This Just Sucked!” or any other mindless dribble they could spurt out like warm blood cut from a femoral artery. I mean, good lord…when you hate everything with such fervor what does it feel like to enjoy something? Would your brain explode like that scene in Scanners? I mean, I am sometimes driven to physical pain by some of the shit I read for this site (*cough*Brightest Day*cough*) but at least 80% of what I read leaves me feeling warm and happy and content. Why are some people so prone to fits of teeth-gnashing hatred over stupid, stupid things?
I should probably state that The Losers is a damn fine film. It hearkens back to the action films of the 80′s that didn’t take themselves too seriously. Where everything wasn’t some pseudo-Jason Bourne world where everything had to be grim and melodramatic and one-liners were punishible by death. I enjoyed it about as much as I have any other movie this year, and I think it’s because everything about the movie is done with the intent of thoroughly entertaining the audience. You do not make your villain chew THAT much scenery if you’re not hoping to go so over the top that you didn’t even realize you’d scaled the bar. This is not an art film people. It’s an action flick for the sake of being an action flick. If you’re not on board with that you probably missed all the signs telling you what to expect when you watched the damned trailer. And don’t act like you didn’t see a trailer.
The major complaints seem to be over the changes made from the book to the film, which I’m tired of hearing. The book and the film are two different entities. Where was the outrage over the changes to Two-Face’s origin back when The Dark Knight came out? There was some, of course. But it wasn’t overwhelming. The boards for The Losers are populated with multiple threads for “ROQUE ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE BLACK ****WHARGARBLE***!!!!” or “ZOE SALDANA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AFGHANISTANIANIANIAN!!!!” or other such negligible bullshit. The changes were made to allow the movie to be the movie and the book to be the book. It doesn’t hurt the book that the changes were made to the film. Judge the film on the merits of what is presented in the context of the film, and there is very little to complain about except for some minor stylistic choices in the action scenes and perhaps the fact that Chris Evans is too damned awesome.
I went back and re-read the first volume of the book following the movie and the spirit of the book remains almost wholly intact. The characters on the screen are very much like their counterparts on the page, except for Max who dialled it up to the point that he makes Bond villains uncomfortable. But on a base level, the two are very much alike, with scenes lifted directly from the book to placate those who need everything to be exactly the same all the time.
Earlier today, I engaged in a debate about the merits of Old Man Logan on Twitter with Sex Food and Comic Books contributor and nerdress Satine Phoenix. It all began with a simple tweet:
To which, I responded:
All of which leads me to post this:
Please note that I’m only posting this because I’m incredibly bored and I think it’s funny. Satine is great and so is Joe, her co-conspirator over at SFCB. They run an awesome site and though our tastes may run in different directions sometimes, it’s nice to have someone to discuss these things with.
Surprisingly, I haven’t really made that much of a big deal out of IRON MAN 2 hitting theaters here soon. I am really psyched about it, as I loved the first one and the more I watch it the higher it climbs on my ladder of superhero flicks. Honestly, I’ll pop it in and get more out of it than I will THE DARK KNIGHT, but then again two and a half hours of Christian Bale’s growly rape voice is sometimes more than I can handle. Anyhow, Black Widow is in IRON MAN 2, and funnily, I think some of the cosplayers did a better job with the costume than the production designers for that film, so enjoy!
A while back, I reviewed the entirety of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass series, from issue 1 to the finale and I famously did not like it. I felt that it was fairly pedestrian and not at all exciting or innovative, which I think is more of a critique on the way Mark Millar hyped it to the fans than anything, but with a book like Kick-Ass, that hype is tied to the book in such a way that they feel like intertwined strands of DNA. I did however make one claim that I have been waiting to either see proven or disproven with the release of Matthew Vaughn’s film adaptation. I said; “All that having been said, everything that works against this book will work FOR it as a movie. Trust me on this one.” I honestly believed that. The concept was solid, the shock value was there. Mainstream audiences would eat this shit up. Was I right?
I believe I was.
The film version of Kick-Ass works infinitely better than its source material. The absurdity of it all leaps off the screen in ways that it never did on the page, and I think that the writers and especially director Matthew Vaughn understood what could be done with the concept presented in the original comic. One of the main gripes that the internet community had with the book was that it diverged from the original concept of “what if someone really became a street-level superhero” around the same time Hit-Girl showed up and went all Frank Miller on some bad guys. From then on out it was just another comic book, really. Once again, this is more of a gripe at Millar’s hyping of the concept than the book itself, as expectations were raised and then shut down with no regard to the actual quality of the book. In the film version that same divergent path is followed, with realism being thrown out the door headfirst. For the movie however, this doesn’t seem to be a problem, as all the marketing didn’t lead you to believe that this would be a serious look at real-world superheroes. When that first trailer hit and showed little Chloe Moretz jumping around like a spider-monkey wielding sharp pointy objects, people knew what to expect.
I think that’s what the movie boils down to in the long run; expectations.
Whereas the comic failed to deliver on the premise that Mark Millar sold us on in the promotional circuit, the film lives up to its promises in every possible way. It’s a violent fanservice film that fanboys should eat up if they don’t get caught up in the minutia of what was changed from panel to film. At the same time it’s a well made, and dare I say it, fun action film that general audiences should get a kick out of as well if they don’t get offended by all the swearing or violence.
Part of the reason why this film will resonate so well with people is that, I believe that n making the film, they were smart in casting people who didn’t look down on the script. Nicholas Cage is admittedly a huge nerd, so he has no reason not to hold back and I think I enjoyed him in this film more than anything since Raising Arizona. Our lead hero played by Aaron Johnson has that Michael Cera-esque everyman feel without being as annoying as Michael Cera. McLovin puts in a good turn as the Red Mist, almost making us forget he was McLovin for a little bit. And Mark Strong who could play every villain in every movie ever (not a stretch really, in a few weeks he’ll be the baddie in Russel Crowe’s Robin Hood flick) and I would never get tired of it. The cast just connects in this one, I don’t think anybody is going to argue that point.
But what everybody is going to talk about will be Hit-Girl. I read somewhere that she would be the “Hans Landa” of 2010. In terms of a breakout role, I absolutely agree. She may not win an academy award for it, but Chloe Moretz just became the go-to girl under fifteen for any role that requires any sort of heavy lifting whatsoever. After a film like this, anything else would be a cakewalk and I expect to see her have a great career ahead of her.
I really enjoyed this film. More than I thought I would. There had been some negative word of mouth coming my way from people who had checked out advance screenings and even a few from assholes who bootlegged it off the net, but I loved the hell out of this movie and will probably see it again in the theaters before all is said and done.
I won’t give it a perfect score, but I have to admit, it’s pretty close.
The last time Runways was on the stands was 9.30.2009.
Why is this book not coming out anymore?
Do you hate me Marvel? I don’t hate you. Why are you doing this to me?
[insert sad face]
Presented without comment…
So after a casting search that included choices so bizarre that fanboy heads most likely exploded in a most literal fashion (I’m sure someone had a heart attack after that Will Smith rumor, and if not him then I’m sure the idea of Jim from the Office donning the shield caused someone to suffer a stroke) we have our Captain America, and he’s apparently also the former Human Torch.
I support this casting choice 100%. Evans is a fine young actor who I think is charasmatic and commanding enough to pull of Steve Rogers. But this editorial isn’t just me salivating over a decent casting choice for 1000 words or so. No, this editorial is a serious look at casting choices and their effect on the collective psyche of the pre-existing fanbase. I find the ways that the fans react to casting decisions outright hilarious at times. But in this instance we get a rarity. An actor who once appeared in a Marvel film as one character jumping into another franchise playing another character. OH THE CONFUSION!
Except it really doesn’t matter. Honestly, I think most of the general population has forgotten those Fantastic Four movies anyway. It’s only the people who have a regular and steady attachment to comics who would ever really give a damn. Do you think the average joe schmoe is going to give a damn whether the guy playing Green Lantern was also that sword guy from Wolverine Origins? I don’t think so, any more than they cared that Reynolds was in Blade Trinity before he was Deadpool. Remember that abysmal piece of trash? Yeah, you do. Because you’re a comic book fan and you can’t let it go. But the rest of the world has.
The truth of the matter is that for some reason, we as a community (I’m speaking of the comic collecting hordes) have a personal investment in the adaptations of our favorite characters. In our minds, anybody but the choice we have already picked out in our heads prior to the acknowlegement of a movie’s possibility of existence is considered a complete and utter failure before seeing anything in the way of evidence to support our claims. And so we have people saying that Evans will be a horrible Captain America because of the way he portrayed Johnny Storm. I honestly can’t see the connection. That’s like saying he’ll be horrible in the upcoming Losers adaptaion because of the way he was in Not Another Teen Movie. Or that he’ll reek in Scott Pilgrim because of his work in Sunshine. I don’t see the connection.
I remember people who I worked with in the shop talking about Robert Downey Jr.’s casting as Iron Man a few years back. People were saying that it would be a disaster. That he was a trainwreck of an actor who would never be able to pull it together long enough to make a decent Tony Stark. Fortunately, they later ate their words with a side of fries because I don’t think anyone will deny exactly how amazing Downey was in that role. Looking back on it, it seems as if Iron Man was created all those years ago just as an excuse to have Robert Downey Jr. play him on the big screen.
And who is to say that in a few years time we won’t be saying the same thing about Chris Evans. He’s obviously got some measure of talent to be racking up high-profile roles in multiple films even prior to this announcement. People keep mouthing off about how he’s in too many comic book films. With this and Fantastic Four plus Scott Pilgrim and The Losers; that’s like complaining that John Wayne did too many westerns and war films. Are you going to begrudge an actor taking roles that he genuinely thinks he can do service to based solely on the source material. How many damned Victorian era literature based films has Kiera Knightley done? Are we supposed to give her hell for that? No, we aren’t. We’re supposed to give her hell for looking like she hasn’t eaten since the last lunar cycle. (She’s really skinny, people.)
My point with this little rant is this; give the boy a chance. Don’t tear him apart before you see the film. Because if you pre-judge the whole affair before a trailer even airs, you’re gearing yourself up to hate it regardless of the quality that may be there when it’s all said and done. And I honestly think this kid has what it takes to hold his own in a scene with Downey when it comes time to do an Avengers film and that’s more than I can say for John Krasinski. (Sorry Jim.)
The Black Widow. She sure does have a consistent wardrobe…
I am going to basically take the week off for spring break, but each day I’ll update with pictures of superheroes in bikinis. Because I have integrity.
I woke up to find someone had e-mailed me a link to CBR where I read this shit.
Sadly, DC Comics announced today at MegaCon that the creative team that launched the title in May 2009 is leaving the book following the release of “Power Girl” #12. The new team replacing writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (“Jonah Hex”) and artist Amanda Conner is expected to be announced next week.
You know, I’m not going to say that whatever creative team comes on next won’t be great, because they could be. But damned if they could live up to the exceptional style that has been present on this book since issue one. Palmiotti and Gray understand how to make the character work without falling into thirty two pages of boob jokes, and Amanda Conner is about as perfect an artist as you can get on any title.
What I’m afraid of is that all the life is going to get sucked out of this title and within another three issues it’ll get canceled. Probably one of the best books DC has launched in years will see the same fate as the other great books that get shafted for no reason at all.
If you look at the comic book industry through a long-term lens. This shit should be infuriating. A new title launches with a character you enjoy, and for once they put a competent creative team with an amazing artist on it. For a character like PG, who isn’t an A-Lister in any sense of the word, you hope for a kind of stability. Because, as I’ve said in the past, in the modern publishing climate, you only have a short while to establish yourself in order to not get canceled, and for PG to last 12 issues is a testament to the creative team doing something right.
Now, as a consumer you’ve invested 12 months into a title. Everything is established and you’re happy with where it has progressed, now the paradigm shifts and EVERYBODY on board from writer to inker gets shifted off. You have to imagine that at least a sizeable percentage of the readers of that book will decide to jump off at that very point. The hope, on the part of the publisher, is that the new team will bring in people to make up the difference. But, in today’s climate, not to many people like to jump onto a book at issue 13, even if it is a new creative team without having read what has come before it. And considering that the first six issues of this particular series haven’t been collected, there is no easy format for transition. Also, like I said, PG isn’t exactly an A-lister, so unless the new team is A-List talent, the ration of incoming:outgoing is going to be skewed.
Why does all of this matter?
Revolving door creative teams buttfuck small titles into cancellation. That’s why. It’s a kick in the balls to diversity in publishing. If this book gets canceled due to a new creative team not catching on, chances are the publisher will not want to place blame on the talent, they’ll say that “the character just doesn’t connect” and then that character, who a great many people have invested time and money in, get shafted because the publisher doesn’t want to invest time in him/her anymore.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go into the corner and weep.
…and that is how you generate pageviews, my friends.
By now, if you’re in any way a comic book geek or collector you’ve heard about this weekend’s ginormous Amazon sale/glitch that saw Marvel omnibus editions normally retailing for upwards of fifty US dollars or more being sold off at prices of around eight to fifteen dollars a pop. I, like many people, went absolutely apeshit and bought close to TWO HUNDRED dollars worth of hardcovers I otherwise would never have had the means to obtain. I was overjoyed, thinking that somehow this was a liquidation on Diamond’s part that somehow trickled down to the consumer level in a way that had never before been witnessed.
A few hours after placing my order, the news broke that it was in fact a glitch and that the prices were reverting to their regular high double-digit levels. A collective holding of breath ensued from everyone who bought a discounted book that day, myself included. Reports have come out of people getting notices of cancelation for their orders. As of this writing, I have not recieved one. If you talk to some folks, Amazon plans to honor the orders up to a point. If you ordered fifteen copies of the Captain America omnibus, you’re probably not going to get those books. Those orders will either be cancelled or have their numbers reduced to a single copy. There are rumors running about that Diamond has given a few people their walking papers over this incident, which leads me to believe that they’re going to be eating some cash on this deal and hoping to stem the damage by placing direct blame on someone.
No matter how this little drama unfolds, we learn a crucial lesson about the marketplace. Fans want cheaper books. I know this isn’t a huge surprise, considering how irritated the fanboys get whenever a price increase hits the cover page of their favorite book. But from a larger standpoint, this incident echoes what I’ve been saying for a LONG time about how the trade market is getting it backwards nowadays.
I would say that around 50% of the trade paperbacks that come out onto the market cost MORE than the original issues. Now, when I first started buying trades it was because I could save anywhere from 5-10 dollars overall on a title by purchasing the collection as opposed to the issues. That was the incentive to buy trades, wasn’t it? But now you’ll see a book that in issue would have run you 12-15 bucks showing up in collected form running 20-24 bucks. Where is the logic here? People won’t buy the book in issue format because they think that’s too expensive and you expect us to pay MORE when it hits collection?
It’s all part of why we’re not seeing much industry growth nowadays. The powers that be have made reading comics cost prohibitive. There are companies like Top Cow, who have refused to jump to 3.99 and put out some of the most reasonably priced trade collections in the industry, but they don’t have enough of a market share to really make an impact. Imagine of Marvel started making more trades set at $9.99 a copy. To a consumer, when they see a trade that’s under ten bucks, they might be tempted to pick it up based on value alone. A trade collection of 4-6 issues for ten bucks, while two issues of a main line title run 4 bucks a pop; the consumer would get more for his money. I have seen this principle first hand while working in the store. The average consumer cannot turn a blind eye to a good value, as evidenced by this Amazon glitch. This glitch put multiple comic collections into the TOP SELLING AMAZON ITEMS list.
The lesson is simple. Price to sell, people. Give us quality at value and we will buy.
As of 03-09-2010 at 12:15 PM my initial order has dropped down to five of the items I’d ordered. Volumes 1-4 of Punisher MAX, The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, and Volumes 1-3 of New X-Men collection have been removed. The Captain America, Criminal, Ultimates, and Wolverine Omnibuses are still on the invoice, as well as vol. 5 of Punisher MAX. Will they be shipped? Not yet sure.
***UPDATE # 2***
As of 03-12-2010 my entire order was canceled. Sadly, this whole thing was too good to be true. However, I did get a free $25.00 credit from Amazon out of it, so it’s not a total loss. In fact, I pretty much count this as a win. I would have loved to have gotten what I ordered, but from the moment it was announced as a glitch, I could see that I would most likely not be getting those books. Maybe I will find them discounted to an affordable degree at a convention or some other locale. Maybe.