Friday, June 24, 2011

This news just in...

Apparently I am the only person I know that cares that Valiant Comics may be coming back.

In the 90's, Valiant made a move to become a major comic company, and was well on its way to success. Then it all fell apart and readership dried up. This won't be the first time somebody's tried to breathe new life into it, but I'm hoping that this time it will really take. I like the Valiant characters, and I'd like to see that universe redefined by a strong creative leader, and then handed over to powerful writers.

Then again, I was excited when I heard that Marvel was going to bring back Crossgen, and so far?


Late to the party...

I have a friend who loves Joss Whedon.

Every now and then he drops one of those "In Joss We Trust" comments and I cannot help but wonder when he might actually take his head out of his ass and get some fresh air. After all, while I respect Buffy & Angel for their depth and the mythology they have sprouted, and I'm willing to admit that Firefly was pretty solid, some of his movies credits leave me scratching my head and wondering if those are simply exceptions to the rule.

They're not.

The movie credits he's gotten that I, personally, think are weak most likely represent the exception to his enormous talent. After all, he's the guy who helped make Toy Story a phenomenon, and got tapped to do Wonder Woman (I like that he wanted to really delve into her Greek history while modernizing her tale) before it all fell apart. Now, with news of his involvement on two of the next big Marvel movies gareners more and more attention, I find myself thinking more and more about his forgotten television show.


That's the one that went off the air due to poor viewer response, but did so with style. I just finished watching the second season, and I have to say.....I really grew to love the story. As the first season went along, and we got out of the serial process of watching Echo's engagements week in and week out, the bigger story of the Dollhouse itself, the Rossum Coroporation and numerous conspiracies started to drive the bus. By the end of the first season the series was very strong, and the second season was exceptional from start to finish.

It isn't all happy endings either. If you have the opportunity, I'd recommend you invest a little time in this 26 episode, two season show and enjoy the ride. If you like it, maybe give some of the comics associated with it a try. I haven't done that yet, but I'm going to keep an eye out for them at shows and give them a read. The premise is well suited to comics and the translation across media should be seamless.

I didn't watch Dollhouse when it was on television, but now I'm kind of wishing I did. I got to see two seasons of the five Joss apparently had mapped out in his head.

Doesn't that just make me curious.

Relating to the bad guys...

As X-Men:First Class wraps up we find ourselves watching the all too predictable reaction from the U.S. and Russian military; a joint attack on the mutants who have just averted World War III. Fear is at the very heart of the X-Men as a concept, running right alongside the themes of racism and equality, and the movie is no different from the comic book in that way.

What I did find different was my sympathy for Magneto (both for his lame costume and for the position he finds himself in!) In the X-Men comics I have always found it easy to understand Magneto as a polarizing figure who (depending on the writer) is either a megalomaniac rallying selfish, power hungry individuals to acts of evil or a misguided victim of extreme prejudice lashing out indiscriminately at the world that threatens his species.

In First Class, as he stood on the beach having just saved the world, I found myself relating to him more than I ever have before. Until that moment in the movie I had known that he was a morally compromised, emotionally damaged man who was hoping that vengeance would allow him to release the pain he had carried through his life. In that moment though, I saw him completely as a victim.

Would his reaction have been justified? Absolutely.

Would it have been right? Now that is a much bigger question.He had the power to defend the survival of his people, but was murdering others the same thing as defense? He had stopped the attack of the military completely, but in doing so he had also decided to retaliate. In a Jason Bourne movie I would have cheered the very idea that he was retaliating against people who had so egregiously done him wrong. Why wasn't I hoping for Magneto to do the same? Was it because years of reading the comic book and seeing him pitted against Xavier had cast him eternally in the role of villain for me? Or was it because I understood his power to have put him so far beyond the men and women who were attacking him that I felt retaliation should have been beneath him?

I'm not certain.

But I do know that in this movie I found myself more sympathetic to Magneto than I have ever been in comics. Mankind declared war on mutants, and he responded. Maybe I can take this position because he had not yet attempted the murder of innocents (contrary to Xavier's claim, members of the military engaged in an act of war are not innocent) and when that happens (in the next movie?) perhaps I will no longer find him relatable.

Until then though, I think I'm on Magneto's side.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Just saw it.

Liked it.

Found myself much more empathetic to Magneto than I expected, despite his failings to 'rise above' the petty fears and weaknesses of homo-sapiens. In retrospect, Xavier is just slightly short of being a saint, or completely idiotic, for his unabashed tolerance of 'our' callow behavior.

The movie as a whole sets the groundwork perfectly for the rebuilding of the franchise after the last two X-Men related movies, which were absolute abortions (the one before that wasn't much better.) Very pleased they made it.

More on it later!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Legal side of the reboot at DC

A lot of blogs and sites are busy talking about the legal motivations that may be involved in DC's reboot. I've read some interesting sites with some legal discourse and some speculative fanboy discourse and at the end of it all, I'm not really sure what I think; other than the fact that I don't like the reboot in general. Like many people, I'd have preferred that they looked at doing a refresh of their line in the vein that Marvel launched its Ultimate line. That's not what's happening though, and I'm wondering if the potential legal motivations matter to any of you.

Don't know what they are? Here are some opinions on their potential involvement in all of this:

Intelligent Designs
Comics Beat

There are plenty of other opinions out there on the potential legal influences in the reboot that is about to take place.

If, and I stress that word, the DCnU revamp is actually being motivated entirely, or in part, by a legal situation, does that change anything for you? Does it shape how you see the need for the revamp, or your willingness to embrace it? Does it bother you that characters who make millions of dollars a year are being fought over by insanely rich corporations and the estates of deceased creators? Is it damaging the legacy of the creation in your eyes?

Just on one simple thought, I'd say that I suspect there's more than enough money involved with the Superman franchise to make everyone happy. Greed is making what should be a wonderful association ugly. Siegel's family is absolutely entitled to something. He created the Man of Steel! On the other hand, the publisher gave him a home, promoted and developed him, and turned him into a worldwide phenomenon. It should be a partnership, with both parties recognizing the critical contribution of the other. Instead its a fight that, potentially, may be driving a reboot I'm not thrilled about.

It isn't the first time it's happened either.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hitting...........the button

It's all coming out of....

This summer Geoff Johns (he of the misspelled name) launches his alternate-timeline opus to the Flash. June is the month when it all really gets going with over twenty books being added to the DC offering. Over the course of the summer? Schedules for Flashpoint related books I've seen put the overall number of comics written as a part of this event at almost one hundred (the number doesn't include any regular series tie-ins.)

I honestly can't remember the last time that a summer event introduced that many books into my monthly order. It's almost obscene. Yet while I'm anticipating Flashpoint, I'm not exactly looking forward to the fallout. As all of you no doubt know by now, following Flashpoint, DC will press....

....the button!

Now, this isn't the first time that DC has taken steps to revamp their universe. There have been all manner of Crisis stories, Zero Hour events and the like designed to allow the DCU to transition from its apparently heavy and cumbersome history into a smoother, tighter, more user friendly mode. Well, apparently none of them worked, because here we are again.

Naturally people who don't read comics on a regular basis have extolled the virtue of this decision, pointing to the difficulty following the continuity heavy backstory of comics as a reason why they don't read them now. Pardon my french but....

Spoken like a person who doesn't read comics. I don't read X-Men, but when I have cause to pick up issues (usually in graphic novel format, and usually at trade shows where they're dirt cheap) it takes me all of half a book (often about 2 - 3 issues) to get my bearings, understand what I've missed and get the general gist of what's going on. And if that ever proves too daunting, I've discovered this marvelous new thing; it's called the internet. I look up the answers I need to give me context in about ninety seconds, and then I get back to enjoying my book.

Do you want my opinion?

Too bad. You're getting it anyways. First of all, Spider-Man sucks. Second of all, the value of a character is in the development that's taken place, because that development has often added depth and breadth to the character you're interested in. Wiping it away makes the character less vibrant and interesting. Effectively it makes them Peter Parker.

The good news is that DC says that none of the core cannon will change, even with the updates. That's some relief, of course, but does it address everything it should? I mean, what do you consider core canon?

Is Clark Kent married to Lois Lane?
Is Barry Allen dead?
Did Hal Jordan betray the corps and become Parallax?
Is Superboy a clone of Clark and Lex?
Did HUSH ever happen?
Is there a Batman Inc?

With some of the leaks coming out now, we can guess at some of the answers. Some will win fans over, and some, I suspect, will alienate fans who are pissed off at investing into a character to have it all wiped away. I know I won't be pleased to see the cowl torn off of Dick before he got a chance to really own it. Or will I? After all, few of the writers have done a good job with him under the cowl.

Still, out of this will come something that does excite me.

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on JLA.

August 31st, 2011 - The day it all changes!

Not sure what I'm talking about?

You can get the news anywhere, but why not drop over to Topless Robot for a very profane summation of what's going to happen as this summer wraps up: DC hits the reset button

Two big pieces of news have surfaced lately, and they both happen on August 31st. DC Comics is going to do two things that will change the way they do business in the comics medium for the foreseeable future. They're going to push their single issues to digital on the exact day that they release them to the comic stores, and they going to hit a great big reset button on their universe.

And everyone seems to have an opinion about this news.

They're not alone.

Comic Retailers Reaction.
I can't say I care for the decision to go digital on the same day, and all but stab their longtime vendors in the back. DC, like music companies, and just about every other form of media that could be translated into digital, snubbed the internet market when the opporuntity to embrace it first arrived, and they've paid the price.

You can download almost any comic book you want for free if you know where to look.

Now, in an effort to recapture that reader (who I personally find strange, because the joy of a comic doesn't come from another hour spent in front of your computer!) they're going to embrace that market at the expense of their traditional business partners. Not only is that cold blooded, it's reprehensible. It makes me wonder if there's any reason for us to ever expect companies to do the right thing. Comic retailers have kept DC in business for decades, and while that's no excuse for ignoring the future (which may be digital distribution - although I can envision moving beyond comic books entirely, and into webisodes) it should at least buy them some consideration. Would setting the digital release exactly 1 month behind for the next five years have been such a bad strategic move?
I suppose the argument would be that that would encourage impatient downloaders to go and get unpaid for copies off of the net the week they're shipped. The counter-point to that defense though is that people inclined to download for free, are going to download for free no matter what. It's what they do.

In any case, I'm with Bendis on this one. It's a move that slaps DC's longest standing business partners in the face, and I can't support it.

Now, as for the reset....

Thursday, June 02, 2011

About Hickman.....

He is NOT as cool as Jason Aaron.

While his writing is out of this world, and his work on comic's first family has been some of the best work I've seen on that book ever, he is clearly gravely confused as to the value of Spider-Man.

I mean seriously.......making him a member of the FF?

On the plus side, that still didn't get him invited to Logan's birthday party (the rest of the FF were there!)

I lied.....I had one more thought to get out.

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning.

Why do they matter, you ask? Well, mostly because they do some of the best work in the industry and are generally handed books that are under-achieving, or stock full of B-list characters that are inevitably going to die off no matter how good they get.

In fact a comic store employee I know tells me whenever we discuss them that "As soon as Ain't It Cool News catches on and realizes that their books are awesome, they're sure to be canceled." He's not just making that crap up either. Abnett & Lanning have a history of terrific runs on under selling titles that almost nobody has heard of:
  • Resurrection Man
  • Nova
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy
  • Majestic
  • The Authority
  • etc, etc, etc
Now they've gotten to work on a new Heroes For Hire series over at Marvel, and once again it would appear that they're doing OUTSTANDING work. I can't say I'm surprised, but I can say that I don't understand why their names on a title don't automatically mean decent sales. Is the comic buying world really that obtuse? If the name on the cover doesn't say Bendis, Miller, Ennis, Ellis or Johns does that mean that it's not worth immediately giving a try to?

I have a much larger list of names I'll try new books from than the ones I listed above, and I keep Abnett & Lanning on it at all times. I find their fresh approach to most characters appealing, and I also love that they don't over think the product. These two guys knows their market and they don't shy away from it. They write comic books about super heroes.

Sometimes that's all I want.

Jonathan Hickman

Read EVERYTHING he writes.

This is NOT a joke.

Specifically, read Fantastic Four (now FF) and S.H.I.E.L.D., but above all else read Secret Warriors.

You don't know how to mix spies, super heroes and black ops until you've read this book.

If you don't own it, BUY it.

It shouldn't even be optional.

I'm going back to reading my 26 issues of Secret Warriors now. I'll be back later....

Let's talk THOR some more.....and racism....

A while back I was passed this link Thor Racism Debate and I made a mental note that it was, indeed, something I wanted to discuss.

And then I stopped posting.

For a long time, as it turns out.

Now that I'm back, and I've had a chance to see Thor, I can't think of a better time to tackle the subject of injecting multi-ethnic characters into Asgard. Feel free to review the article provided at the link in question, and maybe even peruse the comments that flowed from the site's viewers (although some classic ignorance runs rampant, so be warned.)

First, let's clarify; Heimdall was AWESOME in that movie!

Idris Elba brought an enormously powerful presence to the roll that I suspect most actors would have found very difficult to achieve. The man's presence in each of his scenes imbued the character with true power that was very reflective of the gods he was representing. I applaud the choice to cast him.

The bigger question is whether or not I applaud the decision to break from comic cannon for the purpose of re-imagining the comic into a new medium. Perhaps you could make an argument as a comic book purist that your disappointment isn't so much from the issue of Norse Gods all having to be white (based largely on the presumption that that is how the Norse always envisioned them), as it is from the fact that you are disappointed with the very fact that they re-imagined the tale.

We've all kind of grown to accept that that is what Hollywood does though, haven't we? Aside from a very pressing effort in 300 and Sin City, Hollywood has a terrible habit of insisting on telling us that they know the characters and stories we love better than we do. That is, of course, a point for another post. The point in this one is that unless your argument is about the departure from comic cannon, you really are just a big racist.

I'm amused though that these people who are staunchly defending the Norse Mythology's core didn't come out kicking and screaming when Marvel insisted that he be blonde. Or when they brought him to Earth in the modern era. Isn't the entire idea of placing him into modern comics an affront to the mythology to begin with? Doesn't it trivialize the subject matter by making little more than pop culture? Aren't they upset that he doesn't get ragingly drunk and lust for battle constantly? No. What they want to nit pick about is that Hollywood re-imagined Asgard as a gleaming city of gold, older than time, and functioning as a great multi-ethnic society?

Because they've accepted all the other bastardizations of Thor for the purpose of placing him in comic books, but making Heimdall black is the final straw!

That just ruins everything!