Comic Patrons and a Larger World


So I have had a monumental week of comic evolution my friends, and I felt that I should share it as perhaps my experiences can help those pondering a similar change.

 

I am a self-made DC man. One day a few years ago (a slow Saturday, I still remember) I decided that I wanted to read comic books. I have always loved superheroes, comic book movies, I had a few given to me as a kid but I really wanted to participate in this niche-culture. So I went to the comic book store, picked up Superman/Batman: Supergirl (my first comic, and my first review on this site). That was the beginning of a long and intimidating climb up the DC ladder- after Superman/Batman I collected Green Lantern, then Flash, then Superman, then Batman. My collection steadily grew and grew and now it has become something pretty cool, actually. But this is all exposition to what happened this past week.

 

After a lonely study of DC continuity I was incredibly hesitant to break into a new universe, the Marvel universe particularly. Browsing this site for more than a year now I have seen some of the great things that particular company has to offer, but the thought of learning an entire new universe of continuity was more than a little daunting.

 

This is where the idea of 'comic patrons' comes in. Sure I was a self-made DC man, but a friend I have made here happens to be a huge Marvel fan. When I mentioned that I have wanted to break in to Marvel but lacked the courage, he took me under his wing so to speak. He opened up his Marvel library to me, quite literally thousands of comics and dozens of trades. We exchanged issues (I broke him into GL and Superman, he broke me into Marvel) and he was a great help in navigating my first tentative steps into the Marvel universe.

 

It has worked out beatifully! He gave me a treasure trove of comics (all Thor to date, hundreds of Avengers, all New Avengers, Siege, Secret Invasion, Civil War, ALL OF IT) that I have been devouring nonstop. I have a whole bunch of new favorites (add Thor and Captain America to my list of characters that I pick up any comic with their name on it) and the release of the Thor film has just dovetailed with this experience perfectly.

 

A whole new world has been opened up to me that I am thoroughly enjoying and learning and much of the credit goes to this 'Comic Patron' friend of mine who introduced me to the universe and helped me understand it.

 

This kind of relationship, I think, is incredibly important to modern comic fandom. We all know that comic readers are a small, niche market. Breaking into it by yourself takes some real courage (patting myself on the back here) because the continuity can be confusing, and if you dont know what is going on, the history, you lose much of the enjoyment. Having a comic patron can really help to not only bring new people into the market that desperately needs new readers but it can expand the current fan's experiences.

 

The moral of the story, Viners? Get out there and be a comic patron! You will do someone a great favor by introducing them to something new, as my patron did for me. And for all of you out there who are experts in but one section of the comic world, don't be afraid to get out there and try new things, it is worth it! DC still has my ultimate loyalty as that is the universe that brought me into this world, but there is plenty of room for this amazing Marvel material as well! So, you one-trick readers (as I was), Comicvine is full of willing comic patrons! Some of mine include Silkcuts, Primmaster64 and GreenLantern555. The great thing about this site- we all love comics, love talking about them, so striking up a 'help me understand this' thread always yields results!

 

Till next time this is the ghost of caesar, thanks for reading.

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Why study in the UK- SEEING THOR A WEEK EARLY!


So ashamed that I did not write about this yesterday, because opening day (April 27) is when I saw it.

 

I am an American student living in the United Kingdom for the year, getting my MA in Cinema Studies. I have loved comics for a long time  now and Thor for the past month or so.

 

While I have written some reviews on my favorite comic arcs on this site, writing a blog on a film is much more my speed, what with me being a cinema studies guy and all.

 

That being said, I had the opportunity to watch Thor on the day it came out (first showing, I was so stoked) and I can unequivocally say I LOVED IT! It was a fantastic film, masterfully made with fantastic acting, production design, cinematography, script, plot, pacing, everything just came together in this film and it was fantastic.

 

The Basics

If you have seen the material on this site relating to this movie (some of it to be found here), then you know the basics of the plot so I wont go into it. If you go to a film for just the plot anyway, you are kind of missing out on much of the enjoyment of the experience. Dont get me wrong, the narrative is very important, it is what people usually come away thinking about. It holds all the various formal elements of the movie together, it is what usually contains the dialectic of the film in one way or another, the deeper message. But I do not want to go into the plot here, I am afraid I would spoil it for those that have not seen it yet and I want to focus more on the specifics of how

 

The Visuals

 

 

You absolutely cannot discuss a movie without talking about the visuals, the cinematography, the production design. Without all of these things you have radio instead of a movie, and for me the visuals were absolutely superb. But I would expect nothing less from Kevin Branagh, he has always been a visually stunning director. There were seriously some shots in this film that took my breath away. Frames within frames within frames, Branagh uses the camera in really classical yet innovative ways to draw your attention to thematically important aspects of the narrative. Do we understand what this means? Branagh uses classical Hollywood narrative storytelling but blends it with genuine artistic talent to communicate deeper meanings in the narrative. And this from a superhero movie! Waitaminute, I thought that superhero movies were supposed to be all flash and no substance, all CG and no intellect. Not so with Thor! Branagh does not 'show off' with his camera, where it would distract from the narrative, but when you go and see it pay attention to the elegant way he composes his shots, lots of geometric lines and smooth camera movements, all building to themes of what it means to be truly free or truly restricted, what is your identity etc...

 

And that is just the briefest of notes on how the camera works (more to say on this, obviously, but I want to move on to some more excellent stuff about this movie). The costumes! Man, they were absolutely incredible. Like Lord of the Rings incredible. What struck me most was the way that the comic world was translated into the cinematic world using the costumes. They were perfectly Asgardian! Shiny, sleek,  powerful, pristine-yet-battle-ready. The colors blew my mind as well, not just the colors of the costumes (which were so rich and vibrant) but just the whole world that Branagh creates was rich and vibrant when it needed to be, muted when it needed to be.  Bifrost particularly was masterfully done.

 

Asgard looked fantastic- Branagh translated all of the Norse pageantry into the film brilliantly- lots of stunning visuals here. Rich colors, sweeping camera movements, lines in the structures that direct your eyes up communicate the feel of 'this is a place where Gods live...'. Again, really complicated artistic touches in this comic book movie lend credence to the entire genre. Thank you, Kenneth!

 

The Performances

What is couched in all of these stunning visuals, costumes and sets? Great performances. It has been said in the reviews that Hemsworth is perfectly cast, and that is true. Stunning visuals mean little if they surround bad performances, but in this case the performances lived up to the level that the visuals had set. Hemsworth's character arc was poignant and relevant, from being arrogant and self-assured to vulnerability, then finally self-discovery and maturity. He portrays this subtly yet powerfully, he is ultimately likable and believable. As the title character he pulled it off brilliantly. The supporting cast was excellent as well- to reduce their performances to one word sound bites- Odin was power, Sif was strength, Jane was determination, Darcy was comedy- precisely what they should be.

 

The verdict?

This was an incredible movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was artistic, exciting, humorous, meaningful, powerful and portentous in and of itself and for the genre as a whole. Do yourselves a favor, my comic friends, go and see it! See it and keep your mind and eyes open, you are in for a treat!

 

This is the ghost of Caesar, thanks for reading.

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Battle of the Flashes


Browsing the forums I could not help but notice a battle raging concerning one of my favorite franchises- Flash.  Barry vs. Wally, Bart vs. Wally, Bart vs. Barry, Jay vs. Barry- the debate has taken the same form in nearly every permutation.  Green Lantern has this debate as well, but more on that in another blog.  
 
Honestly, just browse the forums and you can see it too (here, or here, or here).  A common theme in my blogs is looking at the reasons for some of these discussions. So lets have a conversation focusing on what seems to be the largest debate-  Barry and Wally.  
 
Wally West as most know him
Wally West- it is easy to see why many consider this 'their' Flash. Barry Allen left the DCU after an impressive 30+ year run in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. He came back in 2008 and had his own 'welcome back Barry arc' in 2009. That is roughly a 23 year absence from comic books. While research indicates that many comic book readers are in their 20s or 30s, having Wally be the primary Flash for 23 years is certainly influential. He was Kid Flash before then and those 23 years when he donned the scarlet suit were not some stagnant period either- there was a huge proliferation of comic material in this period; there was another Crisis arc and the incredibly influential and popular JLU animated series and many other animated cross-over features that touted Wally as the Flash. This means that an entire generation of comic book readers have grown up having firmly implanted in their minds that Wally is the Flash, any knowledge that they would have of Barry Allen would be tangential in a kind of 'they make mention of him sometimes' kind of way.  
 
 
 
 
the new Barry Allen
Barry Allen- this is where we kind of shake things up. He was The Flash from the silver age (genesis in the 1950s) all the way to 1985. 30 years of comic book development. His death was a huge ordeal, and the length of his demise even more important. I like the way that Matt Cherniss put it in the forward to the hardback copy of Flash: Rebirth- "some heroes die saving a loved one, others save their beloved city, maybe even their home planet. Barry literally saved the entire Universe from being erased from existence. If a hero does that, and then just happens to show up a few months later, it would have surely minimized one of the seminal events in Comic Book history." So Barry's death was  seminal event and the fact that he was gone for 23 years (compared to Hal's 10 years and Superman's couple of months) only serves to heighten the importance of the narrative event and the character's legacy. Yeah he popped up randomly in Infinite Crisis, but that does not count as a comeback (only his torso came back to grab Prime). Oh, interesting tangent- why could he be gone for 23 years while other characters came back so quickly? I am going to chalk it up to his ready-made and incredibly fun to read replacement Wally. But again- that is another topic.  
 
So what do we have here? Older comic book readers that were into it before 1985 will remember Barry with fondness and welcome him back as their Flash. Readers that have come into the fold in that 23 year span will identify with Wally. And, interestingly enough, brand spanking new readers will likely identify with Barry. Barry is the one with the current title, there are no more cartoons currently airing to advertise Wally, anyone who took the time to read the Mortal Kombat vs. DCU bios know that the Flash you play is Barry and DCUO features Barry quite prominently. Therefore, new readers will join team Barry. Flashpoint could change this as it will probably involve all the Flashes, but we will have to see.    
 
Barry's return and subsequent focus in all things DCU (comics, video games etc...) was bound to shake up some folks. But, overall, DC has been handling it well. I like it best when Barry tells Wally that there will be two Flashes now- Wally is by no means out of current continuity, he has just been somewhat marginalized for the time being. But, given the incredible fanbase that he has, you know that he is going to make a comeback and in a big way. He has to, it makes fiscal sense for DC to bring him back with either his own title or a large role in Flashpoint. And with all the buzz that Barry's current title has (I add to that buzz daily, I love it) I do not think it will be long until we see more Flash material. That is good news for fans of the Scarlet Speedsters.  
 
This is a debate with no easy answers, no conclusions, only differing opinion. But, what is important is that this is a great franchise with wonderful characters- I cannot in good conscience ultimately decide between Wally and Barry. Sometimes I land on Barry's side, but then I watch JLU and am back to Wally. Either way, Flashpoint is going to be great and the future of the Flash, no matter which one you like, looks good. Flash fact.
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Top 10 Favorite DCU characters results 2.0

      
Welcome fellow viners, there were quite a lot of responses to the "Top 10 favorite DCU characters" thread posted a while ago, and as promised here is the list compiling the results!   
  
First, a quick note on how the votes were tallied.  

For ambiguous votes like 'Robin' (there have been many) I lumped them in with Damian, the current Robin, for Batman- I put down Bruce (unless otherwise specified) and broke down the Lanterns according to individual.  
 
Without further ado, here is the list, with my top 10 added to it (surprised I didnt do it before...) 
 
 There were many honorable mentions. Great characters one and all, but they only got one vote a piece. We wont go into them here, but just know that they are out there.   
 
10. Starting off our official list, we have quite a few amazing characters. They are from nearly every franchise and are comprised of both heroes and villains, I proudly present with two votes a piece, your number 10 choices.  
 

Zatanna

Zatanna







 
 
 
 
 
Bane

 
  
Bane
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blue Beetle

 
 
 Jaime Reyes
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
Starfire

 
 Starfire
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robin
 
 Damian Wayne 
 
 
 
 
  

 
 
  
 
Black Adam

 Black Adam
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lobo

 
 
 Lobo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Agent Orange

 
 
 Larfleeze
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 

Harley Quinn
  
 
 Harley Quinn
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

9. Sliding into number 9 with three votes a piece an eclectic mix of some truly awesome figures... Rorschach, JOhn S, Cassandra C, Darkseid, Martian, S boy, S Girl 
Jason Todd


Jason Todd
           


  

 
 
 
 
 
 
Rorschach

 
 Rorschach
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Green Lantern

  
 John Stewart
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Batgirl

 
 Cassandra Cain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Darkseid

 
 Darkseid
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Martian Manhunter

 
 
 J'onn Jonzz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Superboy
 
 
 Conner Kent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Supergirl

 
 
 Kara Zor-El
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. Here we have two choice characters each with 4 votes... 
Black Canary


 
 
 Black Canary
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
   
 
Guy Gardner
 
 
 
 Guy Gardner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

7. Two more tied for this spot, just barely managing to edge out the pretty bird and Guy with 5 each
Captain Marvel

 
 
 
 
 Billy Batson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Catwoman
 
 
 
 Selina Kyle
 
  
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
Red Robin
 
 
 Tim Drake
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6. Ah, our first stand-alone. With and impressive 6 votes all to himself, its my personal favorite speedster. He generates the speed force and sported an incredibly bowtie... 
 
The Flash
 Barry Allen!
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
 
 
5. 7 votes a piece earned these characters a spot in the top 5...
The Flash/ Wally West

  
 
 
 Wally West
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    
Deathstroke

     
 
 
 
 Slade Wilson 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Joker

 
  
 
 Joker
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. The man who took over the cowl, the man with the trick arrows and the man who kept the corps alive, some more of the greatest heroes of the DCU with 8 votes each.
Dick Grayson

     

 Dick Grayson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Green Arrow

 
 
 
Oliver Queen 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 

 
 
 
 
Green Lantern

 
 
 Kyle Rayner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alright everybody, now we come to the big guns in today's voter-chosen line up. The top 3.  
 
Number 3 is the only other stand-alone, garnering 9 votes for himself. This guy is one of my all time favorite characters in all literature. His comics are some of the best out there in terms of writing and art, and they always breach timeless ideas of redemption, sacrifice and courage. A hero you can always root for, one of my all time favorites, ladies and gentlemen its Hal Jordan

Hal Jordan
 

   At number two, each with an outstanding 11 votes, Comic Viners have chosen two of the greatest characters ever written. They have long and distinguished histories leading them to be some of the most well rounded characters with the most rich development in all of popular culture. They are icons, and rightly so. Generations have grown up with them, they are enduring franchises of awesomeness.    
          
She has bulletproof bracelets and a truth lasso, give it up for the Princess of Themyscira, Wonder Woman!
Diana Prince
  
   

Tying with the Amazon Princess we have my personal favorite hero of all time. The Man of Steel, the Last Son of Krypton, The Champion of Earth... Superman!!! 

Clark Kent
  
   

At last, my friends, we have reached the end. Hundreds of votes, thousands of characters to choose from and yet this character coming in at number one with 19 votes is no surprise at all.  
  
His comics in the late 80s blazed the trail for an entirely new generation of writers and more adult themes in graphic novels. His story has survived over 70 years and he is still going strong. That fact alone means you have a character that has something truly unique about them.   

In a world of super-powered beings, he is one of the best and does it with only determination and a belt full of gadgets.  

The Dark Knight, Gotham's Gaurdian, I give you...    
 
Bruce Wayne, the Batman
   


Bruce Wayne
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
  
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a perspective on the Green Lantern film


Doing what I do, just browsing the forums, I could not help but notice that many of the Green Lantern forums seem to focus on Ryan Reynolds, whether or not he was the right choice for Hal Jordan.  
 
I do not take issue with the topic being present- it makes sense. Big budget comic book movie with a character that has been around (in his present incarnation) since the 1950s, Viners are bound to have various opinions on the casting choice of the title character.  
 
Everyone is entitled to their opinion right? Well, conditionally. It depends on what informs the opinion. It seems that many have jumped on the "Ryan Reynolds is going to be terrible" bandwagon because a couple of more well-informed Viners have surmised such.  
 
Is my point clear? I have read some blogs from Viners that have expressed skepticism about Reynold's future performance, and these are fine. They back up their opinions with examples from comics, Reynold's past performances etc... The only thing that bugs me is the 'yeah, he will suck' thoughts without giving the topic proper consideration. I mean, we all love comic books, right? We care about the movies that come from these comic franchises, we want them to do well, it only makes sense that such a person would want to give every aspect of the question proper time and thought.  
 
In that spirit- here is where I land on the whole Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan debate.  
 
He will be wonderful! This was a near-perfect casting choice.  
 
Now it is time to back up that opinion with some evidence.  
 
He is confident- this is possibly the single most important aspect to Hal Jordan. Confidence is nearly synonymous with willpower in this case- Hal jumps into any situation- outnumbered, outgunned, outclassed, with the confidence that he is going to come out on top. He flies into these situations without a moment's hesitation because he has confidence in himself and confidence in the corps/ knows that he is doing the right thing. Comic book evidence? He is a test pilot for crying out loud ("she can do just a hair under mach three..," he puts his life on the line constantly because he is confident, self-assured), Revenge of the Green Lanterns: Hal and Guy attack the MANHUNTER HOMEWORLD on a rescue mission (the odds were three billion to one and he still had the time for witty banter with Arisia). The Flash: Rebirth- Barry says that Hal 'laughed like a maniac' whenever the League was outnumbered. What better statement of confidence could there be? Reynolds should portray this perfectly- just look at what he did with Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Think of the elevator scene before the battle- the guy just exudes confidence, sarcasm, cockiness. Perfect for Hal.  
 
He is funny- Ladies and gentlemen, Hal Jordan is funny. Perhaps his post-Parallax self is a little less funny than his pre-Parallax days, but the Hal that will be in the film is pre-Parallax and thus the funnier one (and I actually dont get this argument that post-Parallax Hal is somehow stiff and joyless, but that is another blog). Do we need some evidence? Look at Wanted: Hal Jordan. When he kisses the Zamaron queen- 'c'mere, gorgeous.' Look at Secret Origin-  'dont tell me that Salaak didn't teach you about contained pocket dimensions as storage units for power batteries' '...I keep mine in my locker...'  We all know that Reynolds is hilarious (much of his past film roles have been comedic) and thus he is perfectly suited to play this rather large portion of Hal Jordan's character- there can really be no such thing as too funny with Hal! Hal is hilarious, he has shown it time and again- this is actually part and parcel with his confident/cocky nature, he makes jokes when things look their bleakest. These are the two largest parts of Hal Jordan's character- we have seen it in the comics, we have seen it in Reynolds past films- this is a match.  
 
But will he be too funny- hopefully we already dismissed this idea in the previous paragraph, but the prevalence of this thought on the boards means that it bears some repeating. People seem to think that Reynolds will play him too light, too funny and without the gravitas that Hal has been known to have (his father did die in a plane crash right before his eyes after all). 1st- even though this terrible thing happened to him, he has kept his sense of humor. We have seen it, proved it, moving on. He does have 'serious' moments (Secret Origin where he makes the construct of his father, or sits in his plane, or Sinestro Corps war when he fights with Kyllax, though after he defeats Sinestro he says 'you are under arrest' with a smile'). What makes people think that Reynolds cannot do these more serious moments? He has shown that he can handle drama quite well (Smokin' Aces definitely, The Amityville Horror and even The Proposal had some noteworthy moments of dramatic acting), and I believe that he will bring this same talent to Green Lantern. He is such a talented guy he can pull of the confident, funny yet determined Hal Jordan that we know and love.  
 
Hopefully we have seen that Reynolds should be a great Green Lantern, and even if that point is still debatable (and I am open to thoughtful discussion) hopefully we have at least seen a better way to approach the question than just 'yeah, he will suck'.
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Adding another drop into the bucket of contention...


I spend a lot of time on this site- questing, reading reviews, looking at the forums, trying to keep up with Vine friends etc... In my traipsing about the site I have noticed something on one of my favorite forums- the Superman forum.  
 
It seems that every other topic on that forum has something to do with the dichotomy between hating Superman and loving Superman. Why is this?  
 
Looking over the comments on the blog, one can easily speculate a number of possible answers. He is overpowered, it is popular to dislike what is popular, he is 'too good', he is unrelatable, not grounded enough. On the other side he is a true hero, he is not overpowered but frequently meets his match in powerful supervillains, his moral compass makes him a hero you can always root for etc...  
 
I have made no qualms about what side of the line I land on. I love Superman, everything about him. I would like to address what seems to be one of his detractor's major points. He is 'too good.'  
 
I believe what they are talking about when they say that Superman is 'too good' is that his character lacks a certain moral complexity and ambiguity that, say, Batman or Green Lantern have (a sketchy past, ambiguous actions etc...)How much can you enjoy a character who never has any moral dilemmas?  
 
This argument, or this point that Superman is less enjoyable because he is 'too good' is a little reductionist and flawed.  
 
Reductionist- too good? Too good in what way? Too morally good? Can there be such a thing? Why does this not make him a more interesting character rather than one who lacks complexity? When an unshakable moral being meets an ambiguous situation, some of the greatest comic book discussions and ideas of all times have come about. What does the Man of Steel do when he comes against such a situation? The question necessarily moves away from the trite and predictable 'which way will Superman go this time? Good or evil?' and moves towards more interesting intellectual ground- 'how will Superman juggle his morals with this situation?' This is part of what keeps Superman interesting for me- not necessarily seeing if he will remain good or evil, everyone knows the answer to that question- its part of what makes Superman Superman, it is an intrinsic part of his character (he will always do what is right). However, in addition to beiong morally laudable for this determination the stories keep the reader's interest because instead of seeing it in terms of black and white moral decisions we see the stories in terms of how Superman will keep his morals intact.  
 
Flawed- Superman is constantly plagued by questions of conscience and consequence. This is part of the writer's genius- Superman will always do what is right (what a wonderful idea to base a character around), and he knows it. The fact that he knows that everyone expects him to do the right thing brings up all sorts of morally complex ideas. Reading For Tomorrow is proof enough of this theory. He knows that everyone on earth looks to him to do the right thing, to be the example. Did he do the right thing when he took away the guns? What did he learn about humanity? About himself? Reading The Search for Kyrptonite also brings this idea to the forefront. Is taking away humanity's weapon against him the right thing to do? Is he living up to the expectations the world sets for him?  
 
There is so much more to this question than just saying he is 'too good.' Hopefully we have seen here how this is not really an argument at all, but rather a concise definition of not only an intrinsic aspect of Superman's nature, but something that raises all sorts of interesting questions that other heroes simply cannot grapple with because they lack that 'too good' aspect. 
 

 
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