Do Super Heroes Erode Trust In Government?

Last week, I did a piece on whether or not vigilantism in comics is a good thing. The original source for the article was a column by Josh Horwitz, in which he discusses that vigilantism, overall, is typically indicative of a failing trust in governmental and societal institutions. This failure of trust results in a belief that problems are best solved by an individual acting alone rather than by a system that has become ineffectual.

The more I thought about it, the more this made me wonder: do super-heroes help or hurt the overall trust of the societies in which they operate?

When Superman stops a tornado from destroying a small midwestern town, what is going to happen the next time that municipality votes on updating their early warning system? Will they see the necessity of protecting themselves or will they instead choose to believe that Superman will be there next time? Why choose to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into prevention that you may not need when the Man of Steel can send the tornado back up into the clouds the next time one appears?

When Batman uses his state-of-the-art technology to bring in a rogue villainous mastermind, what effect does that have the next time the city of Gotham is asked to vote on a bond issue to provide new equipment to the GCPD? Why should the citizens of Gotham vote to extend more funding to a police department that must rely on a maniac in a bat suit to solve its cases? That this funding would likely wind up back in the hands of Wayne Enterprises and by extension Batman is not a moot point, but is one for another day.

When heroes effectively replace law enforcement, disaster relief, even orbital protection, what reason do regular people have to trust in the governments of the world?

In certain sectors of the comic book medium, heroes operate in conjunction with their respective governments, often under their direction. Invincible, throughout much of the first half of its run, had the main character receiving orders from the Pentagon when it came to addressing potential global threats.

In the Marvel universe, post-Civil War, we now have several organized superhuman agencies that operate under the auspices of the US government, answering their call to deal with threats to the safety of the citizenry.

Aquaman and Wonder Woman are intriguing exceptions to both rules, their cases being that both are royalty of foreign nations, and thus diplomatically imune from prosecution.

In the revamped DC Universe, even the Justice League now operates under the watchful eye of the US Government, with an "authorized" international team working directly for and with the United Nations. In situations like this, the case could be made that the participation of these heroes in the structure of government would actually enhance its efficacy.

Throughout much of comics history, however, the majority of characters have operated in a legal gray area, where they functioned outside of the parameters of law, meting out vigilante justice. Very few have any legitimate claims to authority or any standing permitting them to act with impunity. Granted, there have been cases where heroes have been officially deputized by their local municpalities, but that has been the exception rather than the norm. Instead, these heroes operate extralegally, free from prosecution for what are, essentially, vigilante activities.

Thoughout comics history, this has been a largely unquestioned dynamic. By and large, those few characters that do place themselves in opposition to unchecked vigilantism are there as plot foils or ongoing comic relief. J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of The Daily Bugle, is a perfect example of this, as is Denis Leary's Captain Stacy in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man. These are characters who are portrayed as ridiculous and, by extension, their ideas and (somewhat) legitimate criticism of the lawless heroes are rendered ridiculous as well. Their motivations are reduced to petty jealousy and revenge, their reasoning skewed, and even the depictions of them are often rabid and frightening. It is as if only a madman would question the hero's right to do as they wish, regardless of the law.

So what effect does this have on society's faith in its human governments?

This is a topic that has only been rarely addressed in books themselves. At the close of the Pre-Crisis era, there was an excellent story entitled "Does the World Need a Superman?" which showed Superman being questioned by the Guardians of the Universe. They put him to the question, positing that his very presence on Earth is impeding human progress. They point out that whenever he solves a problem for humanity, be it large or small, he is robbing them of the opportunity to make that mistake, learn from it, and derive a solution that is independent of a otherworldly intervention. It is the superhuman equivalent of teaching men to fish, rather than providing them fish out of hand.

When the answer to any pressing question becomes "[hero of your choice] will save us!" then what impetus does mankind have to come up with new solutions of their own?


Is Vigilantism In Comics A Bad Thing?

On Thursday, Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence had a disturbing piece in the Huffington Post. The article, entitled "'Second Amendment Vigilantes Systematically Dismantling Our Rights," painted a frightening picture of a growing trend towards vigilantism in the United States. He chronicles the tale of an immigrant couple, moving into their new home, who were held at gunpoint by their would-be neighbors and wound up incarcerated by the local sheriff. In the end, they were exonerated, but understandably chose to relocate rather than live next door to a family that had been content to essentially rob them of the feeling of safety that anyone is entitled to in their own home.

"Vigilantism," Horwitz writes, "by its very nature, infringes on rights that are central to the American system of justice; such as property rights, the presumption of innocence, and the right to redress of grievances through courts."

After listening to James Robinson and Sara Lima discuss the vigilante nature of Batman over on Friday's ComicVine podcast this article got me to thinking.

What prompts people to act in this manner? What reasoning drives a person to believe that they are within their rights to pull out a shotgun and point it at another person without cause or caution?

The traditional argument for the actions of people like the assailants in Horwitz's story is that they are responsible citizens, assuming the role of neighborhood watchmen who are looking out for the safety of other, less responsible ("unarmed") neighbors, in keeping with a grand American tradition. Their right to do so is enshrined in the Second Amendment, they say.

Let's take a moment to examine that Second Amendment, if we can. I do not claim to be a constitutional scholar, but unlike many, I do not abbreviate the complete text of the Second Amendment when considering the intent and boundaries of its protections.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Now, most gun-rights advocates, in their tireless quest for universal gun ownership, seem to forget or leave out the first clause of that text.

At the time of its passage, America had recently fought a war on its own home soil, defending the right of the young republic to choose its own destiny, free of interference from the British crown. The last time that militia were called upon in the service of the nation was in 1863, as the country split along an ideological divide. Before that, it was considered the responsiblity of each citizen to maintain a store of arms in the event of invasion or insurrection. Since that time, what were formerly state militias have been folded into the national military service structure as the Guard units of the various military branches.

So, what does the Second Amendment do today?

According to the most recent decisions on the issue by the US Supreme Court, the amendment protects a citizen's right to keep firearms and to use them for traditionally lawful purposes, including self-defense inside the home.

The Horwitz story, as well as the recent massively-publicized shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, paint a much different portrait from those who claim the Second Amendment as their defense. In both cases, the use of the firearm was outside of the home, very much an active deployment of force for a use that did not involve home defense.

In both cases, the best word to describe the participants is vigilantes.

Now, comic book culture has long celebrated the idea of the individual who defies the law in pursuit of justice. The Lone Ranger, arguably one of the first pulp "super-heroes," posessed no badge or legitimizing authority. He had only his guns, skill, sidekick, and trusty steed. When one looks down the list of classic pulp heroes, to a one they are all gun-toting vigilantes who mete out their own brand of certain justice. The Shadow, The Phantom, Doc Savage, The Crimson Avenger, and even in Batman the hero was shown capping a crook or two in his early adventures before nascent concerns over the violence displayed in comics caused publisher National Comics to shift the character towards the use of gadgets and fisticuffs rather than firearms.

All of these characters have a certain thing in common: they all believe that they are unquestionably right in their actions.

This is the result of a varying group of factors, some specific to the universes that the characters inhabit. The Lone Ranger defended often-hapless farmers who wouldn't know the right way to point a gun if you put it in their hand and squeezed the trigger for them. The Phantom operated largely in a lawless jungle setting, where no legitimate authority existed to exercise a rule of law. Batman's Gotham City has almost always been shown to be incurably corrupt to the point that the police themselves are one of the largest threats facing the civilian population.

It is in that example that we see the major connective tissue here. For all of these characters, and the real-life individuals who take cues from them, the system around them is broken. They do not see themselves as law breakers, for they see the law itself as broken. Batman doesn't care for warrants or due process. When he sees four knit-cap-wearing men in leather jackets walking back and forth inside a (privately owned) warehouse, he know that they're up to no good and comes crashing through the skylight. Who has time for Miranda rights when the Joker is about to spread poison gas all over the city? If you have to throw someone from a balcony and break both of their legs, it's all right, because it's in the service of a higher cause, justice.

The problem here is the example that it sets. As I've discussed in several other columns, comics create strong examples and leave lasting impressions in the minds of the people who read them. The reader of a monthly Batman book is almost as likely to be a seven-year-old child as it is a thirty-something adult. What is that child learning from the story that he reads? What impression is he or she left with of society? Do you think it likely that a child or adult will have a positive impression of law enforcement when nearly every time police are depicted in comic books, it is the corruption and graft that is front and center?

Where are the heroes who work within the system? Where are the characters who will inspire confidence in society from the people who follow their adventures? Where are the champions of law and order?

I'll tell you this: they are most certainly NOT holding their new neighbors at gunpoint.

Start the Conversation

How Comic Book Fans Can Rise Beyond Outrage


Last Tuesday, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote a piece for Huffington Post entitled "Why Anyone Should Care That Bill O'Reilly Calls Me a Communist." In the article, he discusses the abysmal state of political discourse in America.

In it, he states: "What makes America's current polarization remarkable isn't the severity of our disagreements but our utter lack of engagement debating them."

Reich makes an excellent point. Even outside of the Beltway and over to the blogosphere, too much of the talk about issues has been anything but debate. If you go digging through the comments section of just about any political article you will be hard-pressed to find many comments that don't simply translate as "[the other group] sucks and they all deserve to be run over by a [SUV/Hybrid]!"

For comic book fans, the same phenomenon is an epidemic that many believe is part of the reason that DC Comics recently chose to shut down their long-running message board system in favor of "social engagement" options. Too many times, reasonable questions are met with "[topic you're discussing] sucks! [opposition] RULEZ!"

This got me to thinking: Why is it that we can't have reasonable discussions about our differences rather than resorting to name calling?

In politics, as in comics, so much of it is a result of insulation. We polarize based on our associations or loyalties and refuse to entertain even the idea that our opposition may have something to offer us. Fans of one character or one company will often refuse to even examine the work on other characters or publications from other companies. A hard-core Avengers fan is about as likely to read the latest issue of Action Comics as a die-hard Republican is to donate to NPR. You discuss comics with people who are reading the same books as you, and your mutual enjoyment reinforces your belief in the quality of the book you're discussing. This is very similar to the phenomenon of geographic political polarization discussed by Reich in reference to the work of David Hopkins at UC Berkeley.

Some of this (as far as comics go) can be blamed on the manner in which these characters, who are supposed to be role-models, handle their own disagreements.

When the Avengers and the Justice League finally met one another in the nineties, it was not a team-up, but a collision of forces focused solely on the preservation of their own realities.

In Marvel's recently launched Avengers VS X-Men event, the amount of discussion between opposing factions is negligible to the point of being nonexistent. Hardline positions are staked out with little regard for the complexities of the opposing argument and, when standing face-to-face for the first time, the conversation involves little more than hurling petulant jabs at one another and then on with the fisticuffs.

That this dynamic has been a staple of comic-book culture for generations is no excuse and is, perhaps, a large part of the problem. It almost goes without saying that whenever two super-heroes meet for the first time, odds are that first meeting will include them attempting to beat the stuffing out of one another.

The disturbing part of this problem is the influence that it has on both the current generation of comic book readers and the younger readers who are just now delving into the those universes. They are being conditioned, in a way, to never give ground, to never be willing to negotiate or consider the validity of positions that may run contrary to their own. Super-heroes, as Danny Fingeroth discusses in "Superman on the Couch," are always right, and their fans adopt that same attitude in their lifelong pursuit of becoming more like the characters that they idolize. The positions that they hold belong to them, are supported by their encyclopedic knowledge of comic-book lore, and are therefore unassailably correct, even in the face of an opposition that is just as well-read, well-researched, and well-thought-out. Whether consciously or unconsciously, this attitude will follow them as they discuss issues of import on the actual, real world. Practice begets habit, as any sports coach will tell you. What comic fans practice, by and large, is not reasoned debate but bitter argument.

If a comic reader wants to affect real change in the world, to truly make a difference, the challenge is clear: get Beyond the Outrage, as Reich says. Engage with those who disagree with you. Don't tell them why you disagree, but ask them why they believe as they do. Understand their position, from their point of view. Perhaps, once you show that good faith, they'll do the same and maybe, just maybe, you'll realize that you both love the same things, you've just been labeling them differently.

Start the Conversation

Piracy and Comic Books: Bringing Independent Creators to...

Piracy and Comic Books:

Bringing Independent Creators to Their Knees


On Monday, artist Bryan Hitch went on a brief Twitter tirade (twirade?) regarding the amount of piracy that he has seen of his latest collaborative effort, America's Got Powers. Hitch's complaints come as the US Congress and various corporations continue to feel the backlash for their sponsorship of a series of acroynm bills such as SOPA, PIPA, and the latest: CISPA.

In January, ComicsAlliance published an excellent article detailing the problems facing implementation of some of this legislation, but debating the legislation only goes so far. What we should be discussing is the growing trend of taking artists' work without paying for it.

As J. Michael Straczynski discussed in a recent column, artists and creative types have been some of the hardest hit by the Great Recession and the continued Euro Crisis. Their products are often the first to receive the ax when individuals and families begin looking for ways to cut down their expenditure

In some cases, responses to criticism of comic book piracy are met with sneers of "they're owned by Disney/Time Warner, they can afford it." However, in the case of creator-owned work, this argument rings hollow. Yes, the publisher (in the case of AGP, IMAGE comics) does see a share of the revenue from the sale of a given title. When it comes to publishers like Image that focus on creator-owned work, though, the creators are due a much larger share of the pie than they would be when doing work-for-hire at one of the "Big 2." When fans pirate this work, they are therefore harming to a much greater extent the people who create the books they love and enjoy.

Some will argue that, for fans who live in small communities that lack comic shops, piracy is the only way that they can get their books. With the advent of sites like comiXology, this argument is rendered patently false. While the major publishers have yet to make their complete libraries available online, the process of converting those libaries into a digital one is ongoing and actually generates employment, as some young graphic designer gets to slave away converting ancient pulp pages into something that's readable on your iPad.

Some might say that to pay full cover price for a non-physical product isn't fair. This argument couldn't be more untrue. The same amount of work went into creating that digital product as the paper one, the only difference being that someone had to spend time converting the intended-for-print work into a format suitable for digital distribution.

For writers like yours truly, who lament the lack of social conscience in mainstream work, independent, creator-owned titles are the best avenue to find that missing element. They allow creators the freedom to express themselves away from the constraints of a branded character, and they give those creators their just due in a fiscal sense.

So what's the point?

The point is this: stop pirating comics. You strip the medium of its best work by making that work fiscally unsustainable for creators. If you want to see a comics market that includes more than tight-spandex-wearing superhumans pummeling each other or the alien-of-the-month then support your creators. Buy their work; don't steal it.


The Chaining of Clark Kent

The Chaining of Clark Kent

Has ACTION COMICS lost it's way?


April 22nd, 2012

When superstar writer Grant Morrison was announced as the writer on DC Comics' New 52 relaunch of Action Comics, it was made clear that this was not going to be the Superman we were used to seeing.

Taking his cue from the early work of Siegel and Schuster, Morrison's Superman would return to his roots as a social crusader, fighting for the little guy, the underrepresented masses who had been disenfranchised by the ever-increasing power of monied interests in Metropolis politics.

The first few issues gave us just that. Clark Kent spent his days writing gritty exposes on the city's power players like the grizzled Glenmorgan while evading the bough-and-paid for police who want to curtail hi crusade.

There were references to the plight of those who have their low-rent housing destroyed in battles manufactured by the military to bring down the alien intruder. For the first time in almost thirty years, Superman seemed to have a real conscience.

So what happened?

As new issues came out, the stories focused less and less on the plight of the little people and more on the plight of... well... LITTLE PEOPLE. After updating Metallo for the twenty-first centurty (METAL-0, anyone?), Morrison dove into the classic Braniac/Kandor story, featuring a plethora of bottled cities in the clutches of the artificial intelligence. Clark ditched the jeans, t-shirt, and workboots in favor of a color-changing Kryptonian nano-suit that is reminiscent of the Spiderman symbiote stories of the 1980's.

Back at the Daily Planet, Clark is admonished by his editor to write less about housing crises and budget shortfalls and to focus on Superman. The mysterious inside source of Clark's information about Glenmorgan turns out to be an old nemesis, using the naive reporter as a catspaw against his chief rival.

So the intrepid reporter finds himself bound to write sensational stories about his own alter ego, and that alter ego finds himself so caught up in fending off giant robots and alien invasions that he can't focus on righting the very real wrongs at street level in his adopted home town.

Knowing Morrison's penchant for meta-fiction, I can't help but see some intent here. Politics' place in comics is an incredibly divisive issue, with fans on both sides making strong cases for its inclusion or exclusion. Morrison's street-level Superman challenged a decades-long precedent of the Man of Tomorrow being relatively unconcerned with the issues of today, and was met with a significant amount of criticism from those who saw the writer simpl projecting his own "socialist" viewpoints onto one of the most revered characters in American pop culture.

The frustrated writer-Kent, who wants to write stores of import, is forced to write about Braniac and METAL-0, when he'd much prefer to write about the homeless and corrupt businessmen. Is his metafictional equivalent (Morrison) showing his frustration at being forced to write standard super-hero smash-up fare as opposed to stories expose the nefarious machinations of the corporate world?

With the first arc now complete, it will be interesting to see if Morrison's Superman lives up to his original promise of restoring the character focus on social justice, or if it continues to move down the path of generic superhero fare.


Why Super Heroes should be more Political

It's time to really figure out if Super Heros belong in the political arena.It can be difficult to find quality discussions on the role of politics in comic books. In the last year, there have been three articles of varying quality that have attempted to address this very divisive issue.

Back in October, Sara "Babs" Lima of posed the question to readers as to whether not political content in comic books alienates readers. While Lima's article does not attempt to answer the question, she does point to some seminal works in the medium where politics are undoubtedly central to the books' stories and underlying foci.

The real flame war amongst liberal and conservative comic book fans began when Darin Wagner, a writer for Bleeding Cool, penned a narrowly focused article asserting that the comic book industry was overtly liberal and that this "liberal bias" was hurting sales.

The Bleeding Cool article drew attention far and wide, even accruing input from such luminaries as creators Chuck Dixon (an avowed conservative creator who agreed with the article) and Peter David who attempted to counter by stating that the political content of comics is actually balanced, but only those things that readers disagree with draw and retain their attention.

Joe Patrice of Recess Appointment did a pretty good job of refuting the factual errors in Wagner's piece, so I will not attempt to go over that same ground again.

Super heros are at their best when they are relevant to the world surrounding them. Sure, Superman smashing alien overlords bent on the subjugation of the human race can be fun reading, especially if there are massive spaceships being hurled into each other in wonderfully drawn art. I do not mean to say that escapism does not have it's place and it's value.

It bears noting, however, that Super Heros are role models. In a media world packed with far more vapid reality-TV stars than upright citizens, super heroes serve a need in their role as providers of moral lessons to young people, in the same way that fables and parables have in decades and centuries past. Limiting these heroes to dealing with nothing less than Earth-shattering events is akin to stating that the almighty-deity-of-your-choice doesn't care what's going on in your life, he/she/it has bigger fish to fry.

Another way of looking at it is that as the readership matures, they want more out of the comics than brightly-colored cops & robbers tales. As comics have gone further and further away from being "kids books" and deeper into the realm of "literature", supporters of the medium and advocates of its place in literary circles want to see more than simple punch-em-ups. They want content that speaks to the problems that they confront. They want work that makes them feel something other than satisfaction that Batman once again locked the Joker away or solved the mystery-of-the-day.

Layering in legitimate social commentary is one way to accomplish this. It allows a monthly book to speak to the real problems faced by those who occupy the real world. Eventually, readers tire of seeing the same sorts of stories over and over again. As the rise of the 24-hour news networks has proven, people never tire of seeing debates over the issues of the day, and comic books that approach realistic subject matter will have a decided advantage over those that don't in terms of attracting and retaining new readership.

For decades now, Green Arrow has been a decidedly liberal character. His verbal sparring with unabashedly conservative character Hawkman was part of what made the Justice League comics of the late 1970s and early 1980s so much fun to read. Being a child of the 1980s, I didn't immediately understand what terms like "bleeding heart" meant, what "hippies" were, or why every problem couldn't be solved by bashing someone's head in with a mace. Comics, probably more than any other medium, introduced me to the marked differences between various political ideologies.

As Lima's article points out, some of the most highly-regarded works in comic book history have definite, overt political messages. There is not a single work by writer Alan Moore that does not contain page upon page of commentary on the nature of the United Kingdom's political debates. Frank Miller's neo-conservative Batman featured in The Dark Knight Returns proved not only a sales monster, but provided the roadmap for much of the work done on the character over the next decade. Ultimates, the comic book that field-tested many of the character concepts that feature in this summer's Avengers, was fearless when it came to addressing concepts such as media saturation, celebrity, government budgets, and the international "me-too"-ism of arms races. The list goes on and on.

Each of these series proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that while critics may scream (and scream loudly) when comics delve into the realm of political reality, those are the comics which attract real attention and, in turn, create entire new generations of readers.

In order to continue to push the boundaries of the medium, writers must have the courage to open their characters up to the concerns of the day, address them, and deal with the consequences. The characters will be richer for it, the stories will be more resonant, and the fans will either love it or hate it, but they'll sure be talking about it, and that's an end in and of itself.

Now, Flame War On.


Digital Time Machine: ULTIMATES

This past week, Marvel ran a terrific sale on ComiXology, offering every issue of their landmark ULTIMATES series for only $.99.

With Marvel Studios AVENGERS soon to be released, and ULTIMATES having served as a proving ground for quite a number of the concepts that have made their way into that film (i.e. Samuel-Jackson-as-Nick-Fury), giving this seminal work a re-read seemed like a great way to pass some slow hours at the old cube-farm. Being a bit of a skinflint, I decided that I would just pick up the first four.

Having read them before, I was intrigued to see how they held up over the last decade and how the reading experience translated to the digital medium. It can be hard translating classic works (for which ULTIMATES definitely qualifies) to updated mediums. It can be frustrating watching a classic TV show like Star Trek: TNG on HDTV, for example, because the effects were never designed to be viewed in that resolution and the resultant image seems muddy in comparison to what viewers have become accustomed to.

With ULTIMATES, this is most definitely not the case.

Bryan Hitch’s cinematic style translates beautifully to the panel-by-panel viewing format that has become commonplace for digital comics. If anything, the use of the new technology actually enhanced my appreciation of the detail present in each panel, since viewing each one individually on my Kindle Fire allowed me to examine the fine details tucked away in the art. As a result, Hitch will likely be one of few artists from the last decade of the 20th century whose art stands the test of time.

As more and more new readers come to comics digitally and consume their content primarily in that form, there are artists whose work will simply not capture the imagination in the same way it did on the printed page. Frank Millers DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, for example, seems small and rather puny when viewed in this manner, with the squared panels failing to pop outside of the context of the complete page. This is not to say that more traditional artists who still devote a great deal of time to panel layout and page cohesion will fall completely by the wayside as the digital revolution progresses.

There is likely to always remain a segment of comic book fandom who prefer their reading experience to include crisp new pages and the smell of newsprint. However, it may be fair to say that what Jack Kirby is to comic book fans who grew up in the 80s and 90s, Bryan Hitch may well be for fans who start reading in the next twenty years. Time will tell, of course, but this writer was pleasantly surprised to discover that even ten-year-old, politics-and-entertainment-reference-laden work still reads just as enjoyably as it did those many years ago.


Start the Conversation

Thoughts on DC's BEFORE WATCHMEN panel

C2E2: Before Watchmen

Thoughts on Nite Owl from the panel


April 14th, 2012

Thanks to the magic of the internet, Capeless was able to monitor the DC Comics BEFORE WATCHMEN panel at C2E2 live on Newsarama and DC's own website.

NITE OWL Series writer JMS stated that "the story will go from his early childhood through to his partnership with Rorschach and how that went badly."

This presents some interested possiblities with respect to the relationship between the two characters. In many ways, they represent the two sides of the ideological spectrum that exists in their unique universe. Nite Owl is the Batman archetype. He comes from money, is equipped with a vast variety of gadgets and tools, and fights crime for reason that are rooted in wanting something more, something wonderous to exist in the world. Rorshach, as the original tale makes clear, is nothing of the kind. He is a gutter rat, born of an inner-city prostitute. Short, freckled, ginger-haired and generally unlikeable, Rorshack sees the ugly side of reality and wants to crush it beneath his mud-encrusted boots.

One can easily find the parellels in the dichotomy of these two characters and the political arguments that pervaded the era of Watchmen and continue into today.Does might make right? Do we have a responsibility to punish our fellow man for his wrongdoing or should we labor to lift him up? Straczynski is the perfect writer for this project, with his well-demonstrated penchant for writing characters who reflect deeply on the societal issues which drive their actions. We will have to wait for the final product to determine whether or not the book lives up to its potential in this regard, but it's certainly in good hands.


Plug the Leak! - Piracy and Comic Book Movies/TV

Editorial: Plug the Leak! - Piracy and Comic Book Movies/TV

by Josh Epstein


Recently, I had an opportunity to watch Warner Brothers' ill-fated Wonder Woman live action pilot.

While the episode had some obvious issues with structure and tone, as well as a complete dearth of finished special effects, it had some bright spots as well. Sadly, as with the Aquaman pilot from 2005, this episode will now exist only as a form of ghost entertainment, making the rounds of home viewing parties and, if it's very lucky, eventually making its way to the iTunes store.

Wonder Woman is just the latest adaptation attempt to fall victim to leaks. The work print for the pilot surfaced not long after shooting was completed, before the network had made a decision on whether to move forward with the show. In only a few short days, it had careened across the internet, drawing the ire of the fan community, who bashed its poor pacing, questionable costume decisions, and failure to deliver on the promise that the character holds.

What is most upsetting is that the show could well have made it to air having solved all of these issues, but we will never know. Shortly after the work print leaked, the producers announced that the show would not be moving forward and its cast moved on to other projects.

Leaks are a growing problem for Hollywood, with Fox's Wolverine being the best example over the last several years. Time and again, determined fans manage to get their hands on unfinished work, share it with the nerd community online, and it's off to the races.

Comic books fans are particularly merciless when it comes to adaptation of their favorite characters, and are completely unforgiving when judging these unfinished pieces. In doing so, the community is doing itself a disservice.

As recent successes such as AMC's The Walking Dead have shown, there is a market for well-crafted comic-related material for adult demographics. In order for that trend to continue, the studios must do a better job of policing themselves. Information security policy must be improved in order to prevent these things from continuing to happen, otherwise the rabid fans, hungry for any media relating to their beloved franchises, will continue to castigate the studios on the basis of half-finished works and ruin any chance that those pieces have of seeing a wider audience.

Start the Conversation