Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creeper as a Demon

There was a six-issue Creeper miniseries that came out in 2006. It firmly established his origin as purely scientific. Or at least as scientific as "multiple personalities brought on by smart skin that gives you a healing factor, a laugh that makes people's ears bleed and a green speedo that materialized out of nowhere" can be.

In fact, Creeper has always had a (pseudo) scientific origin. Originally, he was was given a device that switch back and forth between his Creeper wardrobe and whatever he was wearing. He was completely sane, but he acted insane in order to scare criminals. Later writers had him begin to show signs of genuine insanity, and eventually his origin was retold by Keith Giffen so that he actually was insane . . . at least when he was the Creeper.

In the 1990's, Creeper got a solo series which made both Jack Ryder and the Creeper genuinely insane. Jack Ryder suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other psychological issues, which resulted in the creation of the Creeper persona. It was an excellent, if short-lived, series which had as much psychological drama as action.

The 2006 retelling of Creeper's origin doesn't really clearly fit anywhere within previous storylines, but it still maintained the split personality and insanity that the character had developed.

Then Keith Giffen turned the Creeper into a demon that possesses Jack Ryder in the poorly written Reign of Hell series. This destroyed the psychological drama that had made the character so interesting and intriguing, and essentially made him the poor man's Etrigan. Not only that, but it retconned the new origin that had been established two years earlier. And Keith Giffen should have known better, since he wrote the retold origin which made Creeper insane in the first place!

Sadly, rather than ignore Reign in Hell, Creeper is being even more poorly written in the current run of Outsiders . . . by Dan Didio. (I'll save my rant about editors not being writers for another time.) Creeper is now a dime-a-dozen demon with no signs of insanity and no signs of the character who I had grown to love. In fact, he was better written in Countdown . . .

I know DC Comics and Dan Didio don't give a damn about my opinion, but I'm going to ask this anyway: Please, please, please drop the "Creeper as demon" plot point. It was poorly written, poorly executed and poorly conceived. I miss the lovable maniac I grew to love . . . and I'm sure I'm not the only fan of the Creeper who feels that way.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wonder Woman Movie

Just watched the Wonder Woman animated movie. I'm . . . underwhelmed. Although the plot had some problems, my main problem was with Wonder Woman and how her character was handled.

I'll admit that I don't read Wonder Woman regularly, but what I have read about her tells me this:

Wonder Woman is kind. She doesn't shove her views and morals in others' faces. Instead she leads by example, showing compassion, mercy and kindness. She shows women are men's equals by example. She doesn't treat men as inferiors, but rather as friends and equals.

Wonder Woman can be brutal in a fight, but she is just as willing to help redeem an enemy as she is to administer a beatdown. In fact, she would much rather help an enemy become a friend than fight them. She favors diplomacy over violence, but understands that violence is sometimes necessary in order to protect the lives of others.

The Wonder Woman in this movie is not that Wonder Woman. The Wonder Woman of this movie reminds me of a caricature of a man-hating feminist: one that believes that women are the epitome of virtue and that the world would be perfect if only those evil men weren't involved. (Admittedly, there are some crazies in the feminist movement, but most aren't like that. And Diana certainly never was like that.) She's arrogant, cocky and she isn't in the least bit regal. To be fair, she still is shown to want to do the right thing, help others and make the world a better place . . . but her claims about wanting to bridge the gap between "man's world" and the Amazons seem hollow given her actions.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of Wonder Woman, it still bugs me to see a portrayal this far removed from her comic book counterpart. I think I'm gonna go read the "Gods and Mortals" TPB, and wonder why they didn't just adapt that instead. Because it would have rocked.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The X-Men and Teenage Pregnancy

I'm admittedly quite a bit behind when it comes to Marvel Comics, so this may seem like old news . . .

Angel Salvadore was introduced in New X-Men #118. In issue #141, she ends up having six kids. I have one huge problem with this. Angel was fourteen when she was introduced. And unless I missed something, she didn't have a birthday in that time (even if she did, she'd still only be fifteen).

I have yet to meet a fourteen year old who is emotionally mature enough to have sex, let alone raise a child. Raising a child is a full-time job. It requires maturity, patience and a willingness to put the baby's needs over your own. Teenagers - especially young teenagers - tend to be immature, have little to no patience, and tend to believe that their own needs and desires are the only things that matter. (Lord knows I was like that when I was 14.)

And yet none of the X-Men seemed to give a care that a fourteen year old girl had just had a bunch of babies. Excuse me? Is no one concerned about the fact that she has no way of supporting these babies? Or that there's no way in hell that she's emotionally mature enough to handle this? Or the fact that these newborns are already not only crawling but flying meaning they'll be exponentially more difficult to contain and care for than ordinary newborns? Not to mention there's six of them.

Someone should have cared that a fourteen year old child got pregnant while under the X-Men's care. But no one did. The issue never really even seemed to get addressed. (Also, if Beak was any older than she was, it was statutory rape.)

Nice to know that not only are the X-Men into child endangerment, but they don't give a damn about teenage pregnancy either.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Random Thoughts About DC's Speedsters

Has anyone else noticed that pretty much all of DC speedsters have evil counterparts? Jay had Rival, Barry had Professor Zoom, Wally had Zoom, Bart had Inertia. Even Max Mercury had Savitar. I don't think Johnny or Jesse Quick did though . . . but their connection to the Flashes is the most tenuous of the speedsters.

They also have one of the best track records when it comes to happy marriages. Jay and Joan have been together for decades. Barry is happily married to Iris, and Wally is happily married to Linda. I hope the pattern holds, once Bart and Wally's kids become adults. It's refreshing to see superheroes who manage to end up in happy, stable relationships instead of being in "will they or won't they" or "on again off again" romances that plague comic books. It would also be nice to see characters who were allowed to mature and age.

I'm still unsure about Barry's return, mainly because I'm not familiar with him. I don't have a problem with resurrection in comics, but I did have a problem with Wally losing his book to a character I barely know. And unless the Flash title gains the reputation of being one of the best comics coming out, it's probably going to be awhile before I bother trying to get to know him.

I'm also not much for Iris becoming the new Impulse. Bart lost a lot of his individuality and fun character traits when he became Kid Flash, and I would have liked to see him going back to being Impulse. I would have been all for Iris becoming the new Kid Flash, though.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Steered Towards "Girl" Comics

I had an interesting experience at my local comic book store a while back.  I asked for recommendations, and was recommended several books.  Only one really interested me (Y: The Last Man).  After I left, I realized something: most of the comics that I was recommended were comics starring women or written specifically for women.

I assume this was done since I'm a woman.  I suppose it's nice that the shop carries those comics . . . but it makes me wonder if a male customer would have been recommended something different.  Did I miss out on some good comics because it was assumed I wouldn't like "guy" comics?

Most of my interests fall within the stereotypical "guy" interests: comic books, sci-fi, computers, etc.  Most of the comics I see aimed at women don't appeal to me.  In fact, when a comic is specifically marketed at women, I'm more hesitant to pick it up.  (The second I heard Marvel Divas was essentially Sex & the City with superheroes, it made me vow to avoid the thing like the plague.  If I wanted Sex & the City, I'd watch Sex & the City.)

I want well written stories with interesting characters, interesting character interactions, some fun fight scenes and some spandex-wearing superhero goodness.  I don't care if the main character is a woman or a man.  I just want a good story.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is It Possible to Feel Nostalgic for Someone Else's Childhood?

I have a curse. I never discover a good comics series until it's already over. (Or, shortly after I pick up a series, it will be cancelled.) Part of this is because I begin reading comics until the 2000's, and it wasn't until the past three or four that I started actively collecting them. Even today, a good chunk of what I'm reading is back issues and TPBs.

This leaves me in an unusual situation. Most of my favorite comics came out before I started reading comics. The comics that came out when I was a little kid don't have any nostalgic value for me . . . because I wasn't reading them. I don't consider Wally "my Flash." I don't have a Green Lantern that is my Green Lantern.

Some of my favorite comics are recent ones. Others are Golden Age. Some are Bronze Age. Some I'm not even sure what era they are.  (I'm a little fuzzy on the dividing lines between the eras.)

But most of my comics are ones that are no longer being published. Or they've changed so much they have little in common with the old comics except for the title.

I'm nostalgic for comics I didn't grow up on.  Weird.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Art of Batwoman

Although I don't normally read Detective Comics, I have flipped through some issues since Batwoman became the main feature.  For the most part, I love the art.  The panel arrangement is takes risk and for the most part, really works well.  It's also some of the most creative and beautiful art I've seen recently in a comic book.

I love that Kate has a unique fashion sense.  It reminds me of why I like some of the more elegant gothic fashion.  (I'm also not sure if "elegant goth" was the look they intended with Kate's civilian outfits, but that's what I'm reminded of.)  To me it's much more interesting than her stereotypical debutante look that she first sported.  I'm actually really glad they changed the look of her character.  (And glad that they commented on the horribly impractical heels of her Batwoman costume.)

But I do have one request for the artist and/or colorist.  Please, please, please: quit having Kate be chalk white.

No human being is that pale.  It's unnatural.  And the color can't be make-up, because she always looks like that.  She reminds me of a porcelain doll, which is not a look that goes well with a strong character that's capable of kicking major butt.

(It also reminds me of the corpse-esque make-up they gave Edward in the Twilight movies.  Not attractive and extremely creepy and jarring.)

Aside from that, the art is gorgeous.  But I'm a blogger and a comics fan: I'm required by law to nitpick. ;)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Resurrection (of my blog) and Resurrection (in comics)

Super Critique of, Rise!

Since this post is resurrecting my blog, I decided to use it to address resurrection in comics.  Specifically, the "Revolving Door Afterlife" that many comics have, where death is nothing but an inconvenience.

The Revolving Door Afterlife annoys some comics fans, and both DC and Marvel have attempted to close the Revolving Door Afterlife, but it never seems to work.  Why?

The Revolving Door Afterlife is a good thing.  To demonstrate why, I'm going to address a few complaints and criticisms that the Revolving Door Afterlife gets:

1) It cheapens the deaths of the characters!  The sad fact is: most of the deaths were cheap way before the character got brought back.  Characters (especially C-Listers) are often used as fodder for story lines.  Many times they are not introduced or named before they are killed.  Many of these characters could be (or have been) amazing under the correct writer.

There are some extraordinarily well-written deaths.  But a live character is always more interesting than a dead one.*

2) But it's a cop-out!  Yes, it is.  No argument here.  But it's a cop-out that can lead to some amazing story lines.  Think about it.

What must it be like to live in a universe where resurrection is real?  What would it be like for you to lose a parent, a sibling or a child, and then they come back from the dead?  How many people would refuse to go on with their lives because there was even a tiny chance that their loved one would come back?  Why did a mass murderer get a second chance at life while your 8-year old daughter never came back?

These issues are rarely addressed . . . but they should be.

3) It isn't realistic!  Um, are we ready the same comics?  You know: the ones with spandex clad heroes who can lift entire city blocks but lose all their power in the presence of a green rock?  The ones where seeing his parents murdered in cold blood leads a child to become a superhero rather than just requiring massive amounts of therapy?  Although some things about comics can be realistic (characterization, for one), comics are by their nature unrealistic.

Resurrection, the afterlife . . . these are things that we debate whether they exist in the real world.  But in comics, we know they can and do exist.  I can suspend my disbelief in this situation because it's a long-established element of both the Marvel and DC Universes.

4) It ruins any tension for character deaths.  This (in my opinion) is probably the best criticism of the Revolving Door Afterlife.  It's hard to get upset when Captain America, Batman and Superman died.  We know they'll be brought back.  It's a given from the start.  No way that Marvel or DC will get rid of them for good.  They're too afraid of risking alienating and losing fans, and - more importantly - money.

And yet . . . Superman's death still managed to make me tear up.  And the way I learned about his death was by hearing about his new resurrected form, so I knew that it wasn't permanent.  But the story still holds up.  It can still get an emotional reaction from me.  While the cynic in me will always say "no way they'll kill X off for good", well-written deaths can still make me react.  I still care about what happens.  I can still relate to the pain and heartbreak that their loved ones experience.

The big names of comicdom are guaranteed a free trip out of the afterlife.  But most characters aren't.  Most of my favorite characters are C-Listers: I almost never have a guarantee that characters I love will come back from the grave.  The fact that these deaths are often so gratuitous and unnecessary only makes it worse.  Characters with amazing potential are slaughtered and may never appear again simply because they aren't household names.

As long as there are poorly written deaths in comics, the Revolving Door Afterlife is not only a good thing.  It's a necessity.

* This sentence is paraphrased from an article about how to write good fanfiction.  Sadly, I read it several years ago, and I was unable to find it again when writing this post.  If I ever do run across it again, I'll post a link.  It had a lot of good advice that can be applied to all types of fiction writing.

Edit: Found the site. Link here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Justice Society of America #38 Review (Spoilers)

There have been many good time travel and alternate universe stories written throughout the history of comics.  This is not one of them.

The setting is Earth after the entire world has been taken over by a Neo Nazi Fourth Reich. Of course, readers know that this is going to be reversed at the end of the storyline, so there’s no reason to care about the characters who die or get injured.  We all know the Magic Reset Button is going to be pushed sooner or later.

Not only that, but the logic for how everything went to hell is laughable, even by comic book standards. I was instantly reminded of JLA: Act of God. (Although that might have more to do with the fact that Linkara is reviewing it currently.)

Heroes losing their powers through the powers of inane plot device? Check. Both technology and magic being effected in the exact same way, regardless of what previous continuity says? Check.  Blue Devil somehow loses his powers, even though he is a demon because of a deal with the devil!  The fact that Willingham wrote 16 issues of Shadowpact gives him no excuse for this stupid plot element.

Not only that, but this is Justice Society of America, and yet we don't see a single member of the JSA until halfway through the book!  Of the characters who are starring in the book, only one (Mr. Terrific) is featured prominently, while any others that appear are just there as background props.

Oh, and the idea of the Fourth Reich operating concentration camps in present day? I don’t care what various stories about dystopian futures say. There is no way there are enough people on Earth supporting such a regime for it to work.  With no super powers for anyone, the Fourth Reich is vastly outnumbered and outgunned. There is no logical reason why people couldn’t have fought back and won against them. Easily.

I give this comic a 2/5, and only because the art's decent.  And it's still extremely generous.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The 2010 Eisner Awards

Well, something has happened that manage to rouse me out of my long period of no updates.  James Robinson was nominated for an Eisner Award for his work on Cry for Justice.

What the hell?

James Robinson has produced great work . . . in the past.  Cry for Justice is the worst comic series he has ever written.  The villain's a Gary Stu, the plot has more holes than swiss cheese, all the characters behave radically differently from their previously established personalities, the plot meanders.  The comic tries to take itself seriously while using juvenile humor.  The only thing that could be considered good is the art, and even that really isn't spectacular.

Not only that but every single death is meaningless.  Robinson doesn't bother introducing the characters before having them killed off, so any drama or emotion that could have come from the deaths is completely absent.  The only emotion invoked is anger by fans who liked the characters that got killed off in order to write this piece of garbage.  Prometheus Gary Stu is the only character who gets any real panel time before his death, and he's written wildly out of character.

And that's not even getting into the rather unfortunate implications of having a majority of the dead being members of one minority group or another.  Or the fact that Freedom Beast's death is treated as being less important than the deaths of a bunch of animals.

If James Robinson wins an Eisner award because of this, it's proof that the Eisner Awards are meaningless.  The fact that Robinson was even nominated for one is an insult to all the other writers who were nominated.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cry for Justice: In Memoriam (SPOILERS)

James Robinson has gotten a lot of heat for Cry for Justice.  Some fans have been particularly outraged by his choice of victims, or rather, the minority status of the characters.

Frankly, I don't think there was anything malicious about his choice of victims.  I don't think Robinson is a bigot, racist or sexist.  I think it was just crappy writing.  But, to be fair, here is a complete list of all the characters who were killed off in Cry for Justice (not counting nameless civilians).

Tony- gay black man (Mikaal/Starman's boyfriend)
Freedom Beast- black South African man
Houngan- black Haitian man (presumed dead)
Clayface- white man
Tasmanian Devil- gay Australian man
Gloss- Chinese woman
Sandstorm- Syrian man
Penny Dreadful- white woman
Arak- Native American man
Endless Winter- white woman
Lian Harper- LITTLE GIRL, also part Vietnamese
Prometheus Gary Stu- white man

Note that the only two white men killed are villains.  Every other character who dies is either gay, female, non-white or some combination of the three.  Of the dead, only Prometheus Gary Stu gets a proper introduction before his death.  Everyone else dies within a couple pages of their first appearance (if they appear alive at all).

This adds another level of discomfort and disgust for anyone unfortunate enough to read Cry for Justice. But that doesn't make Robinson a sexist, racist or bigot.  And I don't believe for a second that he is a sexist, racist or bigot.  James Robinson has a very multicultural, inclusive method for killing off characters

It doesn't matter what their gender, orientation, nationality, ethnicity or age is.  No character is safe.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cry for Justice: Death, Death and More Death (Spoilers)

You know what annoys me most about Cry for Justice?  It isn't just the fact that Robinson killed off a bunch of characters with huge potential.  It isn't just the fact that he killed off a sweet, innocent little girl in order to create artificial angst.  It's how he killed all these characters.

Only one of the deaths had a character who actually had a chance for the reader to get to know was  Gary Stu Prometheus.  All the other characters were killed off within a couple pages of their appearance.  Hell, I don't remember Lian appearing in a single panel before she died.  That's just lousy writing.  If you want a death to mean something, you have to get your audience emotionally invested in the character who dies.  Your audience won't care about a character they don't know dying.  It's angst disguised as drama.

Not only that, but most of these characters were out-of-character in the few moments we saw them before they died.  Fans of the characters are going to be (rightfully) ticked, and people who don't know who the characters are aren't going to care.

James Robinson seems determined to kill off, maim or darken every light-hearted and fun character he writes.  He's become a Vampiric Writer, shunning all things light-hearted and fun, recoiling from the light, and wallowing in angst, darkness, death and pain.

I said it before, and I'll say it again.  I cannot and will not ever be a fan of James Robinson again.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blackest Night: JSA #1-3 Thoughts

You know, I get the impression that James Robinson was phoning it in for these comics.  What tipped me off wasn't the deus ex machina ending.  Or the fact that characters - particularly the women - were acting like morons.

What tipped me off was the mention of "Jamal Thunder".  His name is Jakeem.  Robinson didn't even bother to get the character's names right.  Thirty seconds on Wikipedia would have been enough to prevent that error.  There is no excuse for that sort of mistake.

James Robinson just didn't care.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marvel, Sidekicks and Mutants . . . Oh, my!

I've read that one of the main reasons that Marvel doesn't tend to have teenage sidekicks is because of the influence of Stan Lee, who dislikes them.  However, the fact that Marvel Comics as a whole adopted this policy amuses me.

I can get them not liking the idea of child endangerment.  But, frankly, this approach is just silly.  The X-Men have had dozens of teenage members.  And their death rate is comparable to DC's sidekicks, maybe even worse given the mass "depowerment" of mutants that resulted in plenty of deaths.

And, really, you might as well call the teenage X-Men sidekicks.  That is, if the X-Men were actually treated like superheroes.  But most of the times, they don't even get to be considered superheroes, because we wouldn't want to mess with the status quo and show mutants gaining more acceptance.  (Because we all know that the civil rights movement did absolutely nothing.  We still have "white only" water fountains, Jim Crow laws are still in effect, and the idea of actually having a black president is just plain silly.)

But then again, the lack of mutant acceptance is likely due to them tending to cause widespread destruction with their powers and the fact that the "good" mutants are often huge assholes (see Cyclops, Emma Frost, etc.).  And which is worse?  Being a regular sidekick, or being a teenage X-Man (an unofficial sidekick with just as much danger and having half the universe hate you because they're bigots)?

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Open Letter to James Robinson

Mr. Robinson:

You have written some excellent comics.  I won't deny that.  In fact, I've greatly enjoyed your work.  But you've developed a bad habit that worries me.  I first saw signs of it in Starman #38, when you killed off Blue Devil, Amazing Man and Crimson Fox.  I later found out that you had only intended to kill off Crimson Fox, but DC editorial told you to kill off the other two as well.

But it was the beginning of a disturbing trend.  Recently, you've killed off quite a few characters, often with little or no introduction.  You made Plastic Man - the epitome of a fun-loving, goofy hero - into a depressing, angst-ridden mess.

You brought back the most vile, disgusting villian ever to blight the pages of DC Comics.  You killed him off soon afterwards, but his presence was an unwanted taint on the comic.  He degraded and derided a character I love.  But she defeated him.  Her victory should have left her proud and triumphant.  Instead, she was left naked and broken.

You congratulate yourself on creating a well-rounded character who happened to be gay, but in that same issue you killed off his partner, destroying a happy couple that you had created.

You took a character whose most prominent trait was putting her family above all else, and you had her killed as she attempted to murder one of her family members.

You reduced two strong, independent women to mere notches on a man's bedpost.

But through all this, I kept telling myself that things would improve.  "He's a great writer.  Things will get better."

Then you killed one of my favorite characters.  Off-panel.  You left it open for his eventual resurrection, but it was too late.  Even if he is alive and well at the end of the story, his death was the last straw.

I cannot enjoy your writing anymore.  You've killed too many, snatched the joy from the characters who survived, made light-hearted characters bleak and taken the fun out of reading about them.

Mr. Robinson, you probably will never read this, but I hope you do.  Because I want you to know this: you've lost a fan.

Lady Momus

Edit: I have since learned that the favorite character I mentioned was killed off in another book not written by James Robinson.  But that isn't enough to win me back.  It seems like every character Robinson has touched lately has ended up dead, angst-ridden or acting out-of-character.

I cannot and will not be a fan of a writer who kills off characters without a thought and doesn't bother to do any research about the characters he writes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why the Mutant/Minority Metaphor Doesn't Work

I'm not a huge Marvel fan, but I do like the X-Men.  However, one of the things that always bugs me when I read X-Men books is that some authors seem to think that the treatment of mutants is a perfect metaphor for the unjust treatment of various minority groups.

Yeah. I know the reason that I hate minorities is because they're always blowing city blocks up with their eye beams and chalking up billions of dollars in property damage and injuring/killing civilians every time they fight each other with their super powers.

The "mutant = minority" metaphor is complete BS.

Comparing the fear and hatred that your average Joe in the Marvel Universe has for mutants to the fear and hatred that a real bigot has for a minority is downright offensive.  In real life, bigots have no real reason for their hatred and fear of others outside of stupid, superficial things like "they have more/less melanin than I have" or "their ancestors came from a different country than my ancestors." In the Marvel Universe, you would have to be insane not to be wary of mutants, if not downright terrified.

Mutants are perpetually in a state of war with each other.  Xavier's Academy was a recruiting station for a private mutant army masquerading as a school.  The "students" routinely fought a group of terrorist mutants, causing massive property damage, death and mayhem.  Not only that, but most of these battles are not explained to the general populace, so it would be easy to assume that both groups are nothing but super-powered gangs.  (And that's not getting into the many times that Xavier screwed around in people's heads in order to keep his private army a secret.)

Mutants - even the heroic ones - routinely ignore laws, and not just the anti-mutant legislation. They behave as if they are above the law, ignoring any law that isn't convenient and not bothering to explain their actions. If you're going a private war in the streets, it's going to hurt your PR if you don't bother explaining that you were attacking a terrorist, mass murderer or any of the other assorted psychopaths that the X-Men routinely deal with.
On top of all that, mutant powers manifest at puberty, which pretty much guarantees that the section of the population with the least amount of self control ends up with abilities that could result in plenty of accidental death and destruction.  You'd have to be insane not to be scared of emotionally immature, hormonely driven teenagers with no self control developing super powers.

Edit: Fixed typo.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

JSA on Smallville

I watched Smallville for the first time last night.  My dad told me that the JSA was scheduled to appear, so I decided to give the show a chance.  (The JSA is my favorite DC team, so I'd probably give any show a chance if they appeared.)  Of course, I didn't realize it was a 2-hour event, so I only saw the last half.  Here are my thoughts on it:

Who the heck is Chloe?  Seriously, I have never heard of this woman before.  I'm assuming she was created for the show, because I have no clue who she's supposed to be.

The costumes and special effects are pretty bad.  But they're so bad they're good.  I laughed when I saw Clark's eye beams.  It's like the older live action superhero shows or movies, where the effects are cheesy but the cheesiness is part of the charm.  It gives the show a nice "retro" feel.

I love that they got Daniel from Stargate as Hawkman, although I really wish they hadn't gone with such a scratchy voice.  He's a good actor, but the voice made it hard for me to take him seriously.  And it's strangely appropriate that they got him to do the part, considering that Hawkman's known for being reincarnated, and Daniel was best known for dying and coming back to life.

I like that they included Stargirl, but I spent the whole time bashing the portrayal.  For one thing, she's supposed to be 16, and if that actress was 16, I'm Queen of England.  At least she's skinny and short, so as long as you didn't look at her face, you could almost pretend she was 16.

I'm sad that Jay didn't appear, although I understand why he didn't.  Same reason Alan Scott didn't.  If they'd been involved, the threat would have been over before the first commercial break (second, if they'd been taking they're time).

The writers obviously know that the comic reading crowd is an important part of their audience, so they're kind enough to throw in lots of comics references.  Kudos for that.

Overall I enjoyed the episode, even if I did get lost at points.  I'm curious about the rest of the series, and I'm tempted to watch some more.  I'm just not sure if it's worth watching 8 seasons of what appears to be, at its heart, a soap opera starring superheroes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Damage- The Scott Summers of DC Comics

Cyclops is well known among comics fans for having a screwed up family tree.  I honestly wouldn't be surprised if somehow he ended up being his own grandpa, cousin, son and mother.  While I don't think DC has any heroes with a family tree quite that screwed up, I think Damage (Grant Emerson) comes close.

Because as convoluted as Cyclops' family tree is, at least he stuck with 1 mom and 1 dad.  Damage has at least 6 mothers and 14 fathers.  (Not including foster family.)

Damage was the son of Al Pratt (the Golden Age Atom) and his wife, Mary.  Vandal Savage had Mary killed immediately after the birth and then began tinkering with his DNA.  Damage received DNA injections from members of the JSA, All-Star Squadron and JLA, which eventually lead to him gaining super powers.

Martian Manhunter ends up being his "principal genetic father" because his Martian shape-shifting DNA is what allowed the mixing of the DNA without Damage dying (although he almost did anyway).

The other DNA "donors" are: two Flashes (Jay and Barry), two Green Lanterns (Alan and Hal), both Black Canarys (mother and daughter), Wildcat, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Hourman I, Dr. Mid-Nite I, Starman (Ted Knight), Ms. America, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Aquaman, and the Atom (Ray Palmer).  There are possibly others, although these are the ones specifically mentioned.

With such a screwed up family tree, is it any wonder Damage has issues?

Teen Titans 1, Grant Morrison 0

I'll be honest.  I hate it when politics get brought up in comics.  99% of the time, the writer will misrepresent the opposing viewpoint, end up being preachy, get the facts wrong, or it will interfere with the story.

I like Grant Morrison's writing.  I don't believe he's a veritable god of comics like some people seem to think, but he's definitely produced quality material.  Animal Man is perhaps one of my favorite series that I've read of his, but it's very preachy at points and it suffers for it.  The worst part has to be Animal Man becoming a vegetarian.

I am not a vegetarian, but I have a great deal of respect for people who are willing to completely change their diet in order to do what they believe is right.  That shows real commitment to their beliefs.  However, Animal Man is a Grade A asshole about the whole thing.

He forces his family to adopt his new eating habits, including his wife.  She is noticeably ticked, but he doesn't care and continues to toss out meat in spite of her objections.  Later, he lectures his son because his son had the gall to eat a hamburger.

Like I said before, I respect vegetarians.  However, I have zero respect for people who attempt to impose their beliefs on others.  If you want others to adopt your views, you don't just force them.  You talk to them.  You tell them what you believe and why, and give them a compelling reason to consider your point of view.  Animal Man imposes his beliefs on his wife and kids with no regards for their opinions or beliefs.  And the story treats it like this is a good thing!

With all due respect, Mr. Morrison, if I wanted a sermon, I wouldn't be reading a comic.  I'd be in church.

Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum is Beast Boy from the Teen Titans animated series.  He is a vegetarian because as he puts it in one episode "I've been most of these animals."  Which makes sense.  I don't think I could look at pork the same way if I'd spent time as a pig.

Although Beast Boy does attempt to win the Titans over to the "soybean-y goodness" of tofu, he's not a jerk about it.  If the others are having meat, he'll fix something else for himself, although he will object if the others want to order meat on a pizza that's for all of them.  He doesn't harrass them about their food choices, and they don't harrass him about his.

Raven said it best (in response to Beast Boy offering her tofu burgers): "I respect the fact that you don't meat.  Please respect the fact that I don't eat fake meat."

Maybe someone should buy Morrison a Teen Titans DVD.  He might learn something about respecting other people's beliefs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This is what happens when I get bored

No post today.  Instead, please enjoy this Guy Gardner sprite I made when I was bored, which I based on some sprites from Final Fantasy VI:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Would it kill DC to institute a ratings system?

I really wish that DC would start rating their comics.  In the past few years of comics reading, I've run into: a hero having his arm ripped off and eaten, Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny, Dr. Light's disgusting conversations about his favorite retconned hobby (rape), another hero having a limb torn off, Wonder Twins expies being attacked and eaten by a demonic Wonder Dog . . .  And that's just off the top of my head.  I'm sure I'm leaving out plenty more.

I am not a fan of censorship, but it isn't censorship to give a comic a content rating (just like it isn't censorship to rate a movie R).  And I really wish they'd give some sort of warning about adult content.  If nothing else, so I know whether it's safe to eat anything while reading a comic.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Justice Society thoughts

I've been enjoying the recent Justice Society stories, but you know what?  Not much is happening.  I understand the need to build a story slowly, but there's a difference between build up and padding, and we've been getting a lot of padding recently (most noticeably in the heroes get attacked, drive villains away only to have the exact same villains attack the exact same location not long afterward).

The most recent issue had one important event occur (a villain's appearance), and we don't even get to see the resolution to that.  The whole issue is pretty much one big internal monologue.  A well written monologue, sure, but it doesn't change the fact that nothing really happens.

In summary: Good writing, but lousy pacing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Random Thoughts: Avatar and Super Heroes

I saw Avatar recently.  One of my first thoughts upon leaving the theater: They need make a superhero movie with these types of effects.

One of the pitfalls that superhero movies fall into - aside from lousy scripts, bad acting and incoherent plots -is bad special effects.  Some special effects just simply do not work well when human actors are involved, or the technology isn't there to make them look believable.  CGI can solve some of that, but sometimes CGI and live action shots just don't blend well, making the CGI stick out like a sore thumb.

Compare the stretching effects used in Fantastic Four and The Incredibles.  In Fantastic Four, Richard Reed's stretching really isn't a very convincing effect, but in The Incredibles, Elasti-Girl's stretching is completely believable because the CGI effect works perfectly in the CGI world of the movie.

I also think that The Incredibles works so well because comic books, even realistically drawn ones, do not come close to matching the real world.  There is a cartoonish element to comics.  That isn't a bad thing, but it can cause problems when trying to have live actors play out comic book stories.  Superhero costumes, mutants with physical mutations, aliens . . . believable enough in CGI or drawn form, but they suffer problems when you try to get special effects to duplicate them.

Of course, my dream would be a Justice League movie with Avatar-level of special effects.  Because, if nothing else, Martian Manhunter's powers would be freaking awesome to see.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The True Source of Superhero Angst

My dad shared with me his theory on why superheroes tend to be angsty.  It isn't the effects of dealing with the worst of humanity, the tragic pasts, or the conflict between civilian and superhero identities.  The true source is spandex.

Why?  Because spandex leads to super-wedgies, which would make anyone moan and groan.

I love my dad.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Comic Shop Joys

I found a comic book store within 15 minutes of my house!  This may sound like no big deal you "city folk," but I live in a small town, so it's a big deal for me.  This place is saving me about 30 minutes of travel, and it's actually better than the next closest comic shop.  (Not to mention in a better neighborhood.)

I entered the store and the first thing I hear?  A discussion about the casting in the upcoming Captain America movie.  I couldn't help smiling a little and feel like I was in a place where I belonged. . .  (One of the many ways that you can tell I'm a huge nerd.)  Apparently there had been rumors that Leonardo Dicaprio might be cast as Captain America . . . thankfully, the rumors have since turned out to be false.  Nothing against the guy, but when I think Captain America, the words "pretty boy" do not come up.

I spent awhile browsing the back issue bins, which were neatly sorted.  The place was pretty dead, but the owner was friendly, it had a nice selection and it helped me fill in some of the gaps in my collection.  I really wish I'd known about this place sooner . . .

I think one of the greatest joys a comic book fan can have is finding a good comic shop close to where they live.  It's a joy I had not known . . . until now. ;)

(In all seriousness, it did make my day.  That shop just got its newest regular customer.)