New Post: Avengers vs X-Men and Marvel NOW!: Was It Worth It?

Concluding seven years of almost continuous summer comic events, Avengers vs X-Men’s (2012) ending has brought about yet another cosmic-scale change for the Marvel Universe. The Heroic Age (2010)… No wait, Dark Reign (2008-9)… I mean, Marvel NOW! is a genesis, a reboot.; my apologies, relaunch meant to bring cosmic size change to the MU. It is hard to find plausibility in such a claim, considering the waves of alterations promised in the past. Therefore, will Marvel NOW! and its prelude event be this fulfillment of years of promise?

Continued here: http://www.thechatcast.com/?p=3148#more-3148

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Are Comic Books Intelligent Literature?

While it may be a surprise now, Bryan Singer was once quoted stating that comic books are “unintelligent literature”. With no reputable source to support the authenticity of this quote, I’m more interested in the quote itself. Are comic books perceived as unintelligent literature? I am going to pose this question on various forums and social networking sites, and see what results I receive. Nonetheless, if I get no response, over the next few weeks I will attempt to examine, and from my perspective, disprove this theory, through looking at the following aspects (all though I expect the list to grow):

1. Structure

2. Language

3. Characters

4. Themes

5. Symbolism and motifs

So, now I ask for your help. Send in your opinions now. Reply to this post. E-mail me at dbowen2@hotmail.com or tweet me at twitter.com/Adjectiveless. Then, I’ll try and condense the findings and post them gradually over the next few weeks.

http://www.thechatcast.com

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"The Avengers" (2012) Spoiler Free Review

Don't worry about the 3D, think that was more of a company choice than a storytelling one

This Tuesday, I got a call. My friend wanted to ask if I wanted to go with him to an advance screening of "The Avengers" on Thursday (19/04/2012) (or rather, "Avengers Assemble" here, as they seem to think we'll confuse it with the old British series (okay, my annoyance/arrogance stems from actually not knowing what this series is, so sorry for that)). At first, I had to tell him I'd ring back. I'd promised someone that we'd see "The Avengers" when it was released, and we'd been planning this since it was first announced. I liked to think I had principles. Then I decided, no, I really don't called him back, said yes and thought I'd watch it again anyways.

Thursday, we arrived, and I shouldn't have been surprised: our phones were taken from us and we were scanned before we were even allowed to enter. To that point, I hadn't really realised what I was about to see. Or perhaps didn't believe it. But after a gruelling hour of promotion from the cinema and speeches from a local charity (sorry, must sound like a monster, I did donate to the charity) it began and...

It was simply awesome. The main thing about it that struck me at the end, is that it was genuinely funny. Not in a that-was-really-bad-so-it's-funny way either, I'm talking about the script. It's atypical Whedon whit. There were moments where the entire cinema were bawling in hysteric bliss because it was that funny. Admittedly, there were some phrases that were corny, or yano, classic, but they were needed for the film and ultimately, the team to work.

Forget to mention in the blog, but sometimes I felt like Hawkeye was a little left out, although can't make my mind up. Although thinking back, he was there quite a bit... Hmm...

That in itself was another thing I was impressed by: the way they balanced out the team. I gained this great sense of joy from the equilibrium pervading the film: each member had their own part, it wasn't heavily focused on one or the other like I was expecting. I was also surprised by the performance of some of the cast; especially Cobie Smulders during the opening and Mark Ruffalo was great as Banner (had some cool, nervous hands thing some of the time, it was great). Not to say that the other cast weren't great, because they were, these two just surprised me.

As I said above about the balance with characters, the same is to be said for the action as well: nicely spread out and paced. Admittedly, there were some little things with the plot that I had issues with; but I think some things have been cut from the final product (assuming this from interviews), because then it would make more sense if these were left in. Otherwise, there are some unexpected events that occur but ultimately it is sort of formulaic, but it had to be if there were gonna be sequels and stuff I guess. One other thing I must mention is the CGI: wow. Just wow. Brilliantly crafted. The are some bits where it lacked, but with the action scenes it was pretty much top notch (also; action scene in there that sort of reminded me of Buffy and Faith's battle at the end of S3 of "Buffy"; filmed similarly).

Anyways, just my informal stream of my thoughts and impressions, and on the whole: awesome. There was someone who I heard say that the film "redefined the superhero genre". I think I'd have to disagree with that. It doesn't re-define it. It's perhaps better to say that is a definition of what a superhero film should be, renewed for a new era. It is the rule itself, rather than the exception, which in this case: works great for it.

P.S. STAY AFTER THE CREDITS! THERE IS SOMETHING THAT FOLLOWS!

P.S. Sorry, couldn't say much more without spoiling. But, definitely, go watch.

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How Marvel Fails Women: Whedon will Right This.

In a recent blog, Thompson (2012) recently noted four categories that proved the "hyper-sexualisation of female characters and related issues" within the comic book medium. While she primarily focused upon the physical aspects of characters, here, the large portion of analysis will be focused on other areas omitted (combat sequences, inclusion in teams) from Thompson's blog. Patronisation however is not the main aim of this blog (as the connotations of that former statement may imply), but rather to support Thompson's claim that in the portrayal of women within comics, "No, it's not equal".

Comic book teams are largely formed of men; this is a matter of fact. Original incarnations of Marvel teams (from Avengers (Wasp) to the X-Men (then, Marvel Girl) to the Fantastic Four (then, the Invisible Girl) and true regarding their foes too (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Scarlet Witch)). While this has been less true during contemporary times (i.e. Runaways at one point consisting of four female (five if you count Old Lace) members and one male, and still contains more women then men; X-Men: Legacy currently revolves around three female characters and one male) it is still somewhat an underlying problem. This is in no way supported by the lack of female led on-going series within Marvel (having recently canceled X-23, although this seems to be re-appearing in March but I'm not sure if it's on-going or not) and few females in the creative department for DC (see Hudson 2011).

In an effort to subside complaints and address the issue, Marvel launched the "Women of Marvel" initiative in 2010; consisting of numerous variant covers with Marvel's premiere female heroines, a boom in publicity surrounding the women behind the ideas i.e. Laura Martin and Marjorie Liu and even a limited series. However, as a solution it was rather problematic: rather than solve the dilemma, it seemed to simply highlight it at best. Morgan Freeman once stated that "[He didn't] want a Black History Month. Black history is American history." Surely we could apply a similar mentality to Marvel's "answer": it is wrong to believe that this could be solved with an event akin to that. It was a temporary compromise to subdue a rowdy public, and now seems to have been forgotten/ignored. Of course, there is another school of thinking: we could compare the "Women of Marvel" to a catalyst; something to spurn us to examine the contributions of women characters and creators throughout comic book history. Comic book history isn't as comprehensive as other forms, and this would therefore be something of a difficult task.

This comic book misogyny seems to have been equally translated in to other forms of media. In a thorough analysis of the lead females of "X-Men: First Class" (2011), blogger comicbookGRRRL (2011) notes that each women had stripped down at one point during the film, despite the era within which it was set lacked comment on the feminist movement, the lack of lines given to and development of said characters and occasionally subject to demeaning tasks (citing "that [Emma Frost] ice scene". A similar thing could be said for the Black Widow's role in "Iron Man 2" (2010). Johansson was granted few lines, received little character development and was seemingly only included as to lead up to "The Avengers" (2012) and for the following fight scene:

I understand that the focus of the film was supposed to be on the titular character, but she felt like little more than a background character, added (dare I say it) to "sex things up". Being a bold accusation, I'd like to counter it by saying that personally, I had no problems with the role. I enjoyed the fighting, the one liners etc, but I can also understand the feminist critique. In contrast to the above fight scene, the one below from Joss Whedon's "Serenity" (2005) is somewhat less glamorous and may be subject to less criticism from our viewpoint:

Within the context of this film and the preceding show ("Firefly", 2002), the character of River Tam is largely advanced during this film. Fleshed out, as the film concludes she is accepted aboard the ship and is far more stable mentally than at the beginning (and personally, as one of the finer characters of the show). This may all be down to Whedon's feminist perspective, which is either epitomised or leaks through every piece of work he has worked on.

Does this mean that Whedon could be Marvel's saviour? Arguably, that could be the case; his tenure on "Astonishing X-Men" (2004) saw Kitty Pryde's return to prominence and development to the character of Emma Frost unseen since Morrison's run and his work on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is perhaps one of the foundations for the 90s generation feminism. The outcome will be seen this summer in how he handle's Marvel's "The Avengers" (2012), although I am slightly subjective when I say that I am more than optimistic.

Bibliography/Further Reading

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/21/she-has-no-head-no-its-not-equal/

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/12/08/marvel-women-comics-editors/

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/280686-x-men-slammed-for-sexual-deviance

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/02/16/superheroine-sex-art-story/?a_dgi=aolshare_twitter

http://www.comicbookgrrrl.com/2011/06/06/x-women-first-class/

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Back to the Vine! :D

Exams are over, and throughout that hard period of revising, not revising and pretending to revise, the new format (well, new to me, I haven't had the time to be online much recently (N)) just called to me.  I made a few edits, but I had my last two exams today (Psychology and History) and now I'm free for a while.  Yay! 
 
So, back to the Vine for me!  I'm ready to edit!     

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Yeah, along with other stuff...

As many have said, like them I would purchase something purely because it included my favourite characters and because I want to see them evolve etc. 

However, if I'm browsing and I have some money to spare, the cover is basically what seals the deal for me.  I mean, if it has a cover by Marko Djurdjevic, there's a complete gurantee I'll pick it up.  Also, any cover by Mike Choi usually, but I tend to buy everything he works on so that's okay.

I'm sorry, but artwork like this, well you just can't fault.
Cute, yet creepy. Awesome!
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Mutant

Born naturally.  You won't feel lonely because you'd be a part of a race.  A dying race maybe, but still a race.

Despite the prejudice experienced by mutants because they're different, I still think it would be better to allow your abilities to develop at their own rate.  And also, if someone's annoying you, bullying you etc, flick your finger and kick their ass.

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Which one of Joss Whedon's TV Show's is the best?

I'm a fan of "Buffy".  I'm a fan "Angel".  I'm a fan of "Firefly".  And now I'm a fan of "Dollhouse".  Yet, I still can't decide which one is my favourite.

"Buffy" is obviously the most well known, and Joss's first project.  The stupidity of mixing villain of the week with a long term arc was a spurt of utter genius, and it worked very well.  Depite a very bad season six, "Buffy" had very good seasons (my favourite either has to be number two or five) otherwise, and was a great show: quirky and whimsical and witty and odd dialog, great actors, awesome plots, some of the best character development ever and that uncanny ability which I've always loved about the show where no character is minor.  They all return at one point and never just make one appearance.

The darker theme of "Angel" is what really drawed me in, but when I saw it still had the unusual dialog I was shocked and thought it was awesome.  Bringing back Cordelia and Angel was great, and Cordy especially grew on me and I thought she was awesome.  It had a more realistic and credible tone than "Buffy" (one of my favourite things was in season three episode "Carpe Noctem" where they all head out to retrieve the possessed Angel, and where as Wesley and Gunn are showing off with martial arts moves and stuff, Fred and Cordy just have two baseball bats and start whacking him with it) also, and it included my favourite character: Fred.  Weird name as usual for Joss, well for a girl, but she evolved from being a timid wallflower into a strong feministic role, and it was so sad when she died.

"Firefly" was awesome.  We all love it, even if you haven't seen it.  Yet again, funny dialog but different, and I swear I must have been saying "Shiney" and walking around holding my belt for like a month after I first saw this series.  Character interactions were some of the best I've ever seen, and the actors (Summer Glau - awesome!) were amazing.  The whole mystery incorporated with River and Blue Sun Corporation was so intriguing and the political status made so much sense (and the cussing in Chinese was awesome).  Followed by the movie "Serenity", (which is one of my favourite movies of all time, and I'm such a big fan of the River bar fight scene, that I've learned most of it (except the flip, can't do that)), which gave some of us some answers and more questions, "Firefly" was a short but sweet.

Currently, I seem to be the only one who's completely enjoying "Dollhouse".  The whole Alpha mystery is something I wasn't expecting, and teamed with the illegality of the whole operation has just dragged me in.  Eliza Dushku, previously Faith in "Buffy" is a brilliant actress and evolves every week, and other cast members (Amy Acker again, and Alan Tudyk and Felicia Day and Mark Sheppard soon, except the latter because he's already appeared) are awesome.  Adelle DeWitt is one of the most intimidating best female character Whedon has ever created and I seem to be in the minority of people who actually like Topher.  And even though the whole point is that the Actives don't remember their personality etc, we can still see their characterisation evolving already (especially in the latest episode, Victor and his "man reaction"), and alreadly we can see Topher's cowardess yet sadisctically creepy personality showing.

So I ask you, which one is your favourite?  I have to say, no matter how much I enjoyed it, "Buffy" was my least favourite.  But the others, I don't know.  Can't wait to hear your comments.

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Punisher: Hero or villain?

    

Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher
Ah yes, one of the most controversial topics in comic book history: the Punisher: hero or villain?  Ever since he was first introduced in the Amazing Spider-Man #129, the subject has been widely debated by comic fans, but today, I hope to bring some clarity to their minds.

Now normally, I'm very indecisive about subjects like these, and would normally just settle for "he's an anti-hero", but since there's a prize involved, I sat down and gave it a long hard five minute thought, and started typing.

Now, to come to a conclusion, we first of all need some information about the subjects past.  So here we go, and I quote from the Comic Vine archives: "Frank Castle was born Francis Castiglione in Queens, New York. He has Sicilian Ancestry. He was married to his wife Maria and they were expecting their first child before he enlisted with the United States Marine Corps. He completed Basic Training and then trained in Infantry, Reconnaissance, Force Reconnaissance and Sniper School. Castiglione was able to attain dockets to permit him to go through U.S. Army Airborne Training and U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team training to be qualified as a Navy SEAL."  There you go.  That's you first piece of evidence right there.  At heart, Castle is a soldier at heart, and to quote Spider-Man from Civil War #6 in a comparison between Castle and Steve Rogers "Same guy, different war".  Would you call soldiers out there today villains because they kill people to protect us?  No!  Well, I hope you don't otherwise your not a very nice person.

Castle is just a soldier, carrying on the war.  He isn't out there with the others though, he's more concerned about the things that are going on back home.  Like Captain America.  But where as Captain America doesn't kill, The Punisher realises that sometimes, it is the only way to protect innocents.

Again, more history now, and so I consult the Comic Vine archives:
"Jackal had tricked Frank into thinking Spider-Man was a killer."  Now, in the milestone issue ASM #129, Frank Castle tried to kill Spider-Man.  There's no denying that.  But, the fact was that he was manipulate into this attempted assassination by a supervillain, and we all know that one point or another, every superhero has been in the claws of a supervillain, but they all wriggle free eventually, as did the Punisher.

Here we go again, to the Comic Vine archives: "
Frank, Maria and they’re two children Lisa and Frank Jr. went for a picnic in New York’s Central Park when they accidentally witnessed the execution of a Mafia informant who was hung by a tree. Without a second thought the Costa crime family enforcers gunned down Frank and his family for witnessing the murder. Frank was the only one to survive."  Now, we all know this tragic story.  It depresses us all, but makes a good story.  But I need you people out there to ask yourself, if the most dear things in the world to you were taken away and you knew they were never going to be given back, what would you do?  You'd most probably go and find the S.o.Bs who did it and kill them.  So, I think Frank has a fair point here.

Although, on the other hands, heroes do not kill.  Now, I know he has his excuses, but, he could hand them over to the cops and made sure they were put away.  Justice can be served in other ways too.
So, to conclude, I believe that Mr. Frank Castle is a hero, and does what no other hero will to make sure justice is served.  And he makes sure it is.

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To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  One of the most, if not the most powerful books I've read.  Seriously read it.  But, only if you're 13+ because it is really prejudice.

We actually refused to read some of the words in here aloud when my English teacher selected me to read, as I don't think they should be used in society today.

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