By etragedy 2 Comments
Thor's first appearance - a Mighty Marvel moment?
I say thee NAY!
Thor's first appearance - a Mighty Marvel moment?
I say thee NAY!
In it Wonder Woman arrives on the scene by crashing her invisible jet.
My response: "The problem with invisible jets is they have invisible altimeters!"
So, I am pretty much livid right now. A couple months ago I responded to the task list request for an overhaul / expansion to the character page on Conan. So I sat down one weekend with my entire Lancer Conan paperback collection, the Roy Thomas Marvel run, and the Kurt Busiek Dark Horse reboot - as well as L. Sprague DeCamp & Bjorn Nyborg's extensive notes on the character - and proceeded to craft a very detailed character biography including some background to the publication history of the character, and the character's exploits from birth through kingship in chronological order, divided by the major phases of the character's career.
Then, yesterday I log in to find the article has been totally rewritten. But not just re-written, badly abused - among other things, the "writer":
* Wrote in bad grammar and bad spelling, to the point where some sentences were incomprehensible
* Wrote in a way to try to sensationalize things - adding lots of useless adjectives to try to sound "cool" and "exciting" , but just sounds like a really bad fiction writer
* Obviously hadn't actually read Conan and so ended up distorting the facts badly, for example referring to Heimdal of the Vanir as 'a God' (no doubt because the Googled the name and found out about the Norse deity of the same name), and saying things like young Conan killed 10 wolves with his bare hands (based on my earlier sentence about him killing 1 wolf that way). And referring to Aquilonia as a queen instead of a place (based on the sound of the name) - again obviously he never read the Conan stories
* Just plain made some stuff up - including a fake name for Conan's parents, and more outrageous stuff like Conan "making friends with the bears of the forest", etc.
* Added stuff from non-canonical sources such as the 'Age of Conan' video game
* Removed the images (which were in chronological order illustrating the article's text) and replaced them with stuff they must have thought was 'cooler' from the archive
* Removed ALL the links I had to other pages
* Got events out of order, and otherwise just plain made a mess of the page
I'm guessing someone did this in an attempt to get a bunch of points and/or to solve some challenge (those things are supposed to be fun - not there to encourage won-ton destruction of the site.
I'm pretty sure I know who did this, as he has passed me as 'top editor' of the page. I contacted the site staff, but learned that there is nothing that can be done as there is no edit history for any pages, and no way to roll them back to previous versions. I tried the Google cache and the way-back machine to restore it - but to no avail.
So now I have spent hours trying to fix it and it's very frustrating - I'm still finding errors even in the chunks of text I'd tried to correct. The article almost needs to be deleted and rewritten entirely. But I just don't have the time to do that right now. So I'm stuck putting band-aids on it - fixing a sentence here and a sentence there, and then finding the logical flow of paragraphs gone. Worse, I'm forced to either delete 90% of the article, and slowly add a sentence here and there - leaving the article mostly blank and only dealing with the earliest days of Conan's career. Or leave a fully fleshed out article that's totally wrong in place just so there's a complete page there - even if it's crap. I've decided to do the latter.
For a site that relies on volunteer labor, I wish it would make protecting that labor a priority. I was informed that WM is working on fixing that problem, which is good to know. I'm just now a lot more reluctant to submit site content to any of these wikis, and I hate feeling that way.
Remember the days of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy, Savage Tales, Eerie, Monsters Unleashed, etc.?
They weren't exactly new - they were themselves a revival of the E.C./William Gaines comics of the 1950s, often with content inspired by the previous horror revival of the 1930s (Universal's monster series & pulp magazines like Weird Tales specifically). So it seems a trend that comes around every other decade... that is, until the 1990s. What happened? I think they've died their final death, and we will never see the likes of them again - largely because of the Internet. Here's why:
Firstly, they served a kind of niche for fans who were eager for more news, reviews and supplementary content about their favorite genres and characters - exactly the niche the Internet fills for most branded products today.
Secondly, publishing as a whole has been threatened by the existence of the Internet. Most publications whether it be the L.A. Times or Vogue or Playboy or Superman, they have all historically operated at a high volume, low profit margin sales model - but the Internet can deliver content at an astoundingly higher volume and at an astoundingly lower cost (virtually free in most cases), stealing their audiences and undercutting their print counterpart's sales at best, and threatening their entire business model at worst.
And finally, there was a sort of elusive, naivete involved in them - circumventing the comics code, and providing, tantalizingly 'racy' and 'ghoulish' images, which are already unbelievably tame by today's standards (any old Victoria's Secret catalog, and HBO TV series would prove that), but which certainly could never compete with what can be found on the Internet, no matter how hard they would try to shock us now.
Yet somehow - reading these comics can transport you to a childhood place where you stood on tiptoes in a news stand smelling of fresh cigars, newsprint and bubblegum to plop down whatever change you could scrape together in hopes that the sales clerk wouldn't see the 'mature readers' stamp, and you'd be able to make off to some deserted tree house to experience the thrills, entertainment and naughtiness of this fictional wonderland now gone-by.
I'm in Europe right now.
Can't get English comics here.
Fortunately I scanned some stuff before leaving and have them on my laptop for uninterrupted comic reading satisfaction!
So I finished the 'Born on the Battlefield' background story arc on Conan - I hope to read the Dark Horse series up to the point where I am in the short story chronology of Conan and then read then start reading the stories and comics back to back. Which means my next stop in the comic version is the story immediately following 'The Frost Giant's Daughter'.
Meanwhile I am continuing my Pre-history of the D.C. Universe tour which means reading all the Marvel Man-Thing's before about 1980 (for why a Prehistory of D.C. involves reading Marvel titles, see my List on the subject) and the first 100 issues of Hellblazer, which deals a lot with the politics of D.C.'s Heaven, Hell, angels, and whatnot.
Read my latest review - Kurt Busiek's stories about the early life of Conan fit right in with anecdotes from the texts - I am continually pleased with the amount of research and effort Kurt devoted to this series.
Right now I'm working my way through Kurt Busiek's run on Conan. Busiek has become one of my favorite writers, first Astro City, and now this.
On my long term reading list is the first 100 issues of Hellblazer as part of my overall continuity of the D.C. Universe and then the back issues of Man-Thing as a prelude to the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing (the second stage in D.C. continuity project) for more info see my List about the Prehistory of the DCU.
After reading The Ultimates 2 (Ultimates vol 2, no. 1 TPB) I was going to write a review, but I ended up reflecting on the entire Ultimate Universe, and so I thought it was better suited to a blog post than a review. Enjoy.
I held off reading The Ultimates for a long time.
I didn't know why, I just had some aversion to this comic. Part of it was probably fear of the unknown. Ultimates? What's that? I had been burned too many times in the past picking up titles just to try things out. And cover prices being what they are these days... But then, that really wasn't it either, not entirely. It's more that I had reservations about The Ultimates, and I'll get to why in a minute. First to why I did pick up The Ultimates.
The Art. The art in this comic was amazing. Computer coloring especially had come a long way. These pages looked more like the painted panels of Alex Ross, I had loved so much in Marvels. But the art was just the initial hook. The story is what kept me coming back again and again.
For a long time I was looking for the good writers. Where were they? After McFarlane/Liefield/Lee in the 90s, it seemed like every comic was focused on the artwork - and overly stylized artwork at that - but where was the next generation of storytellers? Basically if the title didn't have a name I trusted, a Busiek, Gaiman, Miller, Moore, Morrison, maybe a few others - I knew it was going to suck. But then, finally a writer who really knew how to write. Don't get me wrong, I still don't rank Mark Millar up with all the aforementioned esteemed writers - his writing always seems just one step removed from total awesomeness at best, and at worst well - let's just say I read Ultimate Spiderman, and teenagers didn't even talk that dorky when I was a teenager - Peter Parker's friends sounded like they should have been in an Archie comic. And don't even get me started on the awfulness that was the film Wanted...
But with the Ultimates - here, finally was a series where the superheroes felt like real people in our real world. This series was so great, I just had to tell someone about it. So I told a good friend of mine who had been a comic fan for as long as I had. I said, "have you checked out Marvel's Ultimate line?" He said no, but his reason really struck me. He said he always had dismissed it because it sounded so cheesy. Regular Spider-man wasn't good enough, so now they had to have ULTIMATE Spider-man! Regular X-Men wasn't good enough, so now they had to have ULTIMATE X-Men!!!!!! Probably with ALL NEW POWERS!!! And you know what - he had a point - it was like any product. Regular Tide™ isn't good enough anymore? Don't worry, now we have ULTIMATE TIDE™ with EXTRA STAIN FIGHTERS!!!
Which brings me to my reservations about Marvel's entire Ultimate line. First, I think I saw it as a cheap way for Marvel to capitalize on the recent movies - creating movie versions of the same heroes, and repackaging the same old stuff. And secondly, how many damn reboots do we really need? Endless retcons and reboots are what ended my regular trips to the comic store the first time.
But then, with The Ultimates, it wasn't the same old stuff. Sure, it was just the Avengers with a new team name, but as I said before, the writing and the art were top notch. I really loved The Ultimates vol 1, no.1 and The Ultimates vol 1, no.2. But time and work being what it is, it took awhile for me to get around to reading The Ultimates vol 2, no. 1, Gods and Monsters. It's been a few years, so I have to admit, I'm a little hazy on some of the events in the first volume, but I am pleased to say that this TPB is at least as good as the first two, if not better. The confinement and trial of Bruce Banner was fascinating reading. The idea that there is a traitor on the team and the love affair between Tony Stark and Natasha Romanova also well done. And who can dislike the appearance of a loser superhero team the Defenders, a team who fail as miserably in battle against even the most pedestrian of foes, as their actual comic failed on the newsstand.
But perhaps the best - and worst part of this segment of The Ultimates, is the storylines centering around Thor. Worst because Thor is a God, and frankly the idea that he is powerless without his special belt is frankly insulting. But also best, because Millar so deftly weaves the story that even the reader is unaware of Loki's possible manipulation of reality. One sees the world through the eyes of The Ultimates, and it's easy to view Thor and his followers as kooks. Hippie pacifists. And in a great parallel to real life we see how easily a trickster at the top can lead the superpowers to war anywhere on the globe he wants. By the time it's revealed that Thor was right all along - it's too late - we're already bogged down in a war in the Middle East that we should never have gotten involved in in the first place.
You want superhero comics that are well written, have great art, and really have something to say? This is it.
Use your keyboard!
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