g33ky thoughts: superhero multiplicity

I read an article not too longer ago (wish I could remember where) about the real reason Jason Todd was created to be Batman’s new teen sidekick. Apparently the creative/editorial team behind Batman and Teen Titans back in the day realized that Dick Grayson would be too busy on the Titans and could not logistically or realistically be in two places at once. Grayson’s blossoming maturity lined up with the readers who were growing up with him, and he organically shrugged off the yellow to become Nightwing. Okay, well done and realistic, especially for a superhero comic book. 
 
After reading that I was blown away that the editors did that back then, yet struggle with that nowadays. Using the Avengers as an example, how can the characters below be on so many team and still be used properly or have good character development, or even be in so many places at once?

The Avengers

Iron Man (one other book, Invincible Iron Man)

Thor (one other book, The Mighty Thor)

Spider-Woman

Hawkeye

Spider-Man (at least three books, The Amazing Spider-Man, FF, New Avengers)

Wolverine (too many, Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny X-Force, New Avengers, Wolverine)

The Protector

Red Hulk (one other book, Hulk)

Maria Hill

New Avengers

Luke Cage (one other book, Thunderbolts)

Spider-Man

Wolverine

Jessica Jones

Thing (one other book, FF)

Doctor Strange

Mockingbird

Ms. Marvel

Iron Fist (one other book, Power Man and Iron Fist)

Victoria Hand

I didn’t realize that Wolverine was so overexposed. I mean, I knew, but seeing it listed out was kind of shocking. I haven’t checked the sales for some of these books, but the fact that they are still around and will be around in the next 3+ months shows they’re doing okay. With a little bit of security in that knowledge, could the creative teams involved maybe switch up the rosters and take some chances? Would you still read Avengers if Wolverine or Spider-Man was not involved? What if Cage wasn’t leading the New Avengers? I love what Jeff Parker is doing with Cage and Thunderbolts, and that character is a much better fit with that team. Yeah, Bendis has greatly developed Cage over the years, but reforming criminals feels right for Cage. 
 
The Marvel universe is huge, practically overflowing with costume superheroes. Would sales really start to hurt either Avengers book if the roster didn’t involve characters already used somewhere else? I know it’s very hard to accept things like Wolverine being on the west coast with the X-Men, but chilling in the Avengers tower drinking a beer in the same month. Same with Captain America (Bucky). Isn’t he in a Russian prison at the moment? Yet he is running around with the Avengers or taking part in Fear Itself
 
And that is the segue for the topic next time: do Events hurt characters and their solo titles or make any sense in the grand scheme of things?

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begin nerd rant


I love comics. I mean, if you’re on Comic Vine you most likely love them too. I can get pretty nerdy when it comes to discussing comics, characters, or story arcs. I have staid about an hour after my shift ended just talking to a work friend about X-Men and Captain one time. I don’t know a ton about the characters I love, but I could sit and talk about them for hours. So, with that preface you should have a pretty good understanding of how geeky I can get on the subject.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how stretched some characters are. How many comics is Wolverine floating? What about Spider-Man? Batman has an excuse now. I’m not up on the Batman franchise, but I know that he is running Batman, Inc. while Dick Grayson has . Superman also has a built-in excuse if he shows up in multiple comics: super speed. I’m not a huge DC fan, so I’m going to keep this strictly to Marvel comics.

First up is Spider-Man, who seems to be everywhere. At least you can argue that his super teams (yes, plural) are all based out of New York, but still, how many teams does this dude need to be on? Flagship character notwithstanding, the man is still only (super) human. When does he have time to work at that sweet think tank job of his? Or date? If it weren’t for him cracking wise all over the place, I would think that Parker had subcontracted out to other super dexterous heroes.

Wolverine’s multiplicity issue is even shakier. His main team is based off the West Coast, Avengers is in , his clandestine wetworks team is somewhere in , and that doesn’t count his romps through the South in The Best There Is. Any time this is brought up, the defenders shoot back, “there are mutants that can teleport anywhere in the world”. Most of those teleports were taken out during Second Coming, and I doubt the ones that were left are in the know about X-Force.

Marvel is loaded down with characters. The recent Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt was a shocking reminder that the remnants of the 50 State Initiative are still out there. There were people in that crowd that I’ve never seen before.

I love how Moon Knight is getting some attention by getting another spotlight. However, the fact that he is based on the West Coast and he showed up recently in The Avengers and Secret Avengers (both #12.1) does not help my logical brain function at all.

Not too long ago I read an awesome article about the creation of Jason Todd. Basically, Dick Grayson was growing up and moving on to the Titans. The editors made a decision that Batman worked best with a sidekick. Like Carey said, “Batman need his Robin.” So the creative team came up with Jason Todd since Grayson would be busy in his team book. They knew back then that it wouldn’t make sense to have a kid appear in two books a month. Why can’t they continue with that thought process?

Does Avengers need Spider-Man or Wolverine? Actually, yes and no. Specifically them, no. The team absolutely needs a smart mouth for comic relief to help cope with the stressful life that comes with being a superhero. According to a conversation between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, in the modern world the Avengers needs that certain edge that Wolverine brings. He is that person that is willing to cross the line and do the bad things that the good guys shouldn’t do. If there was a way to reign in Punisher, he could be that guy too. Moon Knight, although he struggles like an alcoholic to not kill people, so that would be wrong to push him into that. There are plenty of darker characters that can fill that ruthless role currently fills.

I know that fans want to read about Deadpool over here, cutting up and… well, cutting up. They want to see more Spider-Man face time in Avengers or FF. My crazy idea would put Spider-Man on only one team, like FF, only because its different and cool and above all else very logical. Wolverine would have one solo series and something like X-Force, because he fits on that team more than anywhere else. Steve Rogers would just have small cameos in comics, because he is super-cop now, and Secret Avengers. Iron Man’s mini event The Iron Age would not happen while Fear Itself was still unresolved.

My strongest plea to the Big Two: please, spread it out. Use your resources (i.e., your other characters). Have your creative teams talk to one another about what the characters are doing and how epic and illogical it is to have Wolverine in Hell but also in New York with the Avengers. I know for fact that the editors do talk because I’ve heard about these summits the writers go on, discussing the upcoming events.

I guess that’s about it. Nerd rant over.    

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one of the coolest comics I wasn’t reading: The Sixth Gun


 

Sometimes I pick up comics slower than others. A lot of mainstream comics I grab are heavily promoted within other books, or have “big” names attached to them. The comic might get a spotlight shined over it by a popular website or magazine, getting even more attention. Because of that, smaller comics might go unnoticed. Every now and then I stumble upon something that I really wish I had found earlier in it’s run. If it was a miniseries, no sweat, just pick it up as a trade or easily buy them all at once. For an ongoing title, it’s a little bit harder.

The Sixth Gun was one such title that I wish was on my pull list from the beginning. I was aware of the series, but only that it was a western by Oni, that seemed to have a supernatural twist to it. People that know me, you would think I would be all over that. I recently found out I like westerns. Growing up that was so far down on my list of things. I credit the movie Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid for turning that around. As far as supernatural stories are concerned, why wasn’t I reading The Sixth Gun? Like I said, I was aware, as far back as Free Comic Book Day 2010. The cover caught my eye sometimes, but I never picked it up. Finally, I was bored with the common superhero shtick and needed a change. This little series was staring at me, begging to be read. So I gave Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt a chance. This comic was amazing, and I mean absolutely amazing. The supernatural vibe is present from the get go when we’re introduced to the main character, Drake Sinclair and the antagonists. If Hellboy took place in the Wild West, it would be called The Sixth Gun. There is so much depth and mythology in this series. Bunn has done an amazing job of pulling various stories from American history and building on it, making it his own. Big characters tear through the annals of the Wild West with awesome powers and abilities, but nothing is so epic to alter history. I can totally believe these “tall tales” existed in their day. The extra little bonus to this series, for me anyway, is the intrigue from page one of the first story arc. Another genre that I recently changed my opinion on is mystery (noir, whoo-done-it, etc.), and mystery might as well be Sinclair’s middle name. Also, learning about The Six has been very cool. After the first arc, that mythology went surprisingly deeper, with a new possible antagonist hinting at the true purpose of The Six. Besides Sinclair, the rest of the cast of characters have been memorable and well developed. When characters leave or enter the story, it’s never with a wave and hello/good-bye. I think that shows the writer has done something correct, in that the reader cares about what happens to the characters in the story, or is interested in learning more about newly introduced characters.

The art has matched the writing the whole time, being nothing short of great. Hurtt’s cartoon style really fits the story. The fast action scenes and clean art trick me all the time, make me think I’m looking at screenshots from an animated TV show or movie. Like Guy Davis, Hurtt can draw great, innocent looking human characters, but then switch gears and draw some disturbing monsters that take up a whole page. His artwork has made me look for their earlier collaboration, The Damned. I’m almost caught up with The Sixth Gun, and I think The Damned will be next on my list.

If you like Tombstone and Hellboy, and would like to see a mash up of the two by way of Disney, you should check out this series.

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two (more) reasons to not like X-Men: First Class

 


 

Groupshot


Fox sucks. That’s what it boils down to. I can’t figure out why, or how, they missed the mark with the X-Men movies. I understand there is a huge history with these characters, but the Ultimate line of comics did a good job of presenting approachable stories and continuity for first time readers, and still not deviate too much (for the most part) from the source material. Anyway, with all the horrible changes that have been made with the X-Men movie franchise, the recent two kind of take the cake – for me that is. Keep in mind these are kind of spoilerish.

 

En Sabah Nur is the leader of the Hellfire Club. That’s right, Apocalypse is running the show. But no Cable. Alex Summers (Havok) is Scott’s (Cyclops) dad.

 

Okay, I’m done.

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Marvel Entertainment Initiative

Okay, the announcements have been made, the expectations have been set. So where are the shows? Where are the movies? Here’s a refresher: in 2004 Marvel brokered a deal to make up to 10 movies over the course of 8 years. These characters were the first announced: Ant-Man, The Avengers, Black Panther, Captain America, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Power Pack, and Shang-Chi. Since then Hulk, Thor, and Punisher have changed hands, reverting (or purchased) back to Marvel as well.

 

After the huge success of Iron Man, Disney saw dollar signs like Uncle Scrooge and decided to buy Marvel Entertainment. Before the end of that year there was movement, of sorts, on the lesser known properties, like Black Panther, Cable, Iron Fist, Nighthawk (really?), and Vision. Some of these are surprising, and in the case of mutant Cable, a head scratcher if not a logistical nightmare. (FYI, Fox owns Marvel mutants by way of X-Men.)

 

In June 2010, Marvel established a beachhead on the TV front by appointing Jeph Loeb Executive Vice President of that division. Again, another round of ideas for shows were thrown about, basically teasing fans about what is to come.

 

So far, that’s all we have: a tease. Three projects have officially/unofficially been announced, a few of which I am mixed about. First up is AKA Jessica Jones, rumored to be premiering Fall 2011 on ABC written by a Twilight screenwriter. Now, I’m a huge movie geek as well and I’ve barely heard boo about this project other than what I just mentioned. No cast, nothing. The reason I’m hesitant about this project is the Twilight connection. Man how I hate sparkly vampires.

 

Another series is The Incredible Hulk produced by David Eick and geek movie god Guillermo del Toro. This is supposed to be like Smallville, so I’m not sure how it really fits into the Marvel movie universe, or if it will fit in at all. Hopefully it will stay connected and not blow apart all that work of keeping everything connected. I’m worried about del Toro though. He’s incredibly busy at the moment and is notorious for getting involved with projects, and then leaving soon after. Eick is a passionate, creative guy. Can’t wait to see more, but I’m apprehensive for now.

 

The last series that might (or might not) be in development is Cloak & Dagger. This one sounds the most promising, as it has nothing to build on and as a blank slate is free for the writers to have fun developing. Also, it can be made on the cheap as both characters have minimal manifestation of their powers.

 

Initially the idea was to have TV shows that lead into, tie-in, or share a universe with the Marvel movies, akin to what Ron Howard will be doing with the series. For instance, a season of Iron Fist will have references to the Luke Cage movie, or even have the character guest star at times. The same for Jessica Jones, who crossed paths with Avengers many times. Or a major event in the TV world would be Hulk guest staring on one show and tearing up , and you see the aftermath present on a different show.

 

So where are these awesome Marvel shows?

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Comic Book Movie Showdown: Marvel vs. DC


I know most people will say that I’m biased when I rant about comic book movies. I love Marvel, most of the comics I read are either Marvel, Image, or something from a small publisher. DC titles usually don’t make their way into my pull. Movies are a different beast though. Being a movie geek too, I will watch just about everything. And even though titles like Green Lantern, Batman, and Wonder Woman aren’t on my normal reading list, I know enough about the character to know I like them. GL as a character and concept has always appealed to me, but I’ve never really gotten into any of the books. The same for Batman. I love the slant of the dark vigilante with the shattered family, trying to right the wrongs of his city. I just can’t get pulled into the comic. I feel that since I still enjoy these characters, that my opinion about the movies shouldn’t be biased against them.

 

So, now that my preface is done, I can get into the meat of the issue: what is wrong with movies based on DC comics? Marvel (and by that I mean Marvel Studios, not Marvel comics in general) has approached their movie universe vastly different from how anyone has made comic book movies before. Take Iron Man as an example. The first IM movie kept the core of the character intact with certain elements modernized, upgraded for the times. Instead of , Stark is caught by terrorists in . Aside from that, the changes were extremely minimal.

the way comic movies should be

 

 

Over on the DC side of things we have Superman Returns. Bryan Singer, hot off his recent success of X-Men 2, was tapped to reboot the Superman franchise. The result of which gave us a crimson toned suit, a grossly underage Pulitzer winning , and an asthmatic illegitimate Superman offspring. I’ll let that sink in for a second… Okay, are you ready to attack this one now? I will be honest, I don’t know a ton about Superman, but just about everything from SR feels wrong. I’m not a huge stickler for details or expect filmmakers to stick to the source material so strictly, but why does so much need to change? Do they make these changes for fear of boring people that already know the story, the history of the character? With Iron Man, I knew the story. I was already a huge fan. I was entertained all throughout the movie. My wife on the other hand knows nothing about the character, and she loved the movie too. So if they had used a popular, well known story for Superman Returns, would the audience have been bored or liked it less? After Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, I seriously doubt it.

 

Batman character study

Simply put, Batman Begins is a great movie. However, there are some glaring issues that come up when I think back to this movie. Again, Bats is a character I know very little about, and with his long comic history the filmmakers could use the movie as a blank slate. Does anyone really know who the first villain Batman went up against was? It might have been Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow. Who he fought isn’t my main concern here, it’s that DC has opted for the “no powers” Batman movie universe. As decreed by the director Chris Nolan, his Batman will not overlap with any DC character with powers. Meaning the DC Trinity will never be in a movie together under Nolan’s guidance. Why? These characters have interlocking history. Key moments or character development has been based on each other all through their history.

 

Joel Silver has been trying to get a Wonder Woman project off the ground for a long time. My wife, having grown up watching Sharon Carter but never reading a WW comic, is pretty mad about the huge delay here. Finally word comes out that a new show is hitting the small screen soon. Wonder Woman is a successful executive by day, with normal cliché office romance and politics with comedy thrown in, while by night she fights crime. When has anything like that happened in the comic? Why does DC feel the need to change this concept so drastically? How awesome would it be to have a Wonder Woman movie similar to the Starz show Spartacus: Blood and Sand? (Minus the sex and nudity of course.) At the end of this Amazonian action flick, Wonder Woman goes to the mainland, the modern world. Perfect setup for something bigger, like the Justice League.

"Where's my movie?!"

 

 

If you sit down and watch every Marvel movie, you will see the connections in each, aside from the obvious cameos after the credits. Doing this creates a richer universe, a living mythos to sink into and get wrapped up in. It was awesome to see the Stark brand on the sonic weapons in Hulk. Its great that Howard Stark helped create Captain . I wanted to see more when I saw Thor’s hammer at the end of Iron Man 2. That’s a point as well. If interconnecting movies doesn’t create a richer story (which it does), at the very least it serves as a setup for the next movie, like a mini commercial within the movie.

 

Marvel has done an awesome job of keeping their characters intact, without deviating too far from the source material but still keeping it fresh and new. DC should take note of that success and attempt to copy to the best of their ability.

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Is a Spider-Man reboot such a bad idea?

 

I’ve been thinking about the Spider-Man reboot lately. The online community seems to be a little divided, should there be a reboot? Some bloggers are ready to rip into Sony/Columbia for dumping Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire (along with Kirsten Dunst, etc).

 

Unrelated to this train of thought, I went back to watch the first two SM movies again, I refuse to ever again see the travesty that was Spider-Man 3. At the end of SM1 I saw and remembered what I liked so much about the series. At the same time, I saw a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way. I went to see this movie in the theater with all of my friends. I remember what an awesome experience it was. We all enjoyed every second of Maguire’s Peter Parker and Willem Dafoe’s Power Ranger inspired Green Goblin costume. Now though, I’m trying to figure out why I liked that shiny green suit. For that matter, what was so amazing about Tobey Maguire? He constantly has this goober expression plastered across his face, and his voice always seemed strained.

Maguire at SM3 premiere

 

 

These are not characteristics of Peter that Maguire infused into his performance. The actor normally sounds and looks like this. It’s a wonder that he has won or has been nominated for so many Best Actor awards. I like him and his movies, but he’s not a great actor. I don’t feel bad that he won’t be in any more Spider-Man films.

 

Other issues that show up throughout the series is the downplaying of Peter Parker’s genius. At least in the first movie. They tried to recover in the second flick with his short scenes with Dr. Octavius. This sudden display of brain power makes no sense because they glossed over that in SM1. Someone mentioned that Parker’s bio web shooters replaced his mechanical shooters because it made more sense. A teenager shouldn’t have created a sticky formula for glue like substance that 3M would kill for. But that is what made Parker a genius! He is one of the smartest guys running around in the Marvel universe! Not like Reed Richards or Tony Stark, but he was in the same ballpark at least.

 

Jumping back over to actor’s portrayals, J.K. Simmons is a great actor, but he was horrible as J. Jonah Jameson. JJJ is a mean guy that you shouldn’t cross; Simmons came off as campy. Considering the actor, this camp is mostly like attributed to director Sam Raimi.

 

Raimi, again another person that I like. I also realize that without Raimi doing Spider-Man, we most likely wouldn’t have other comic book movies. On the other hand, Raimi’s SM series is extremely campy. There’s funny, and then there’s campy. Spider-Man 3 is what happens if that goes unchecked.

 

Garfield announced as Parker/Spider-Man

Finally I come back around to the original topic: the Spider-Man reboot. Marc Webb has a unique style to his filmmaking, and he has a nice eye for what looks good. Andrew Garfield is an amazing actor, if a little old for the usually younger Peter Parker. It’s a good thing he kind of has a baby face. The interwebs ran wild with the rumor of Emma Stone getting the Mary Jane Watson role, but then we finally got the confirmation that she was cast as the main love interest Gwen Stacy. This isn’t a bad thing, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Stone is cute and has a fun personality. Watch Zombieland, you’ll see. Although, because of this, maybe she would have been better off as Mary Jane instead of the prim and proper Gwen.

Stone, she's so Stacy

 

 

One of the biggest improvements with this project is the inclusion of Marvel’s talent, aka the writers. DC movies keep the comic books they’re based on at arm’s length, and have little to no communication with the comic guys. Iron Man, Thor, this Spider-Man movie, they all asked the writers to be a part of the filmmaking process. This puts the Marvel crew as advisors to the film.

 

Why can’t DC do that? That will cut down on the whole muscle look to the Green Lantern’s costume, the red velvet look of Superman’s cape, the illegitimate child of Superman and Lois, the “no powers” approach to Nolan’s Batman world. If the people that make the comic books are more involved with the movies, maybe we would end up with better comic book movies.

 

Going back to Spider-Man. Overall, I wish Sony/Columbia was not rebooting Spider-Man. I would rather they just progress the story, but with a new cast and crew. On the other hand, with a reboot, they get the love triangle of Gwen, Peter, and Mary Jane. They get another crack at Dr. Octopus (not that stupid Doc Ock). Another chance of a beefier Venom, not the slim and awkward Topher Grace, who would have been better off as Peter Parker. They can get a more goblin-like Green Goblin, along with the pivotal character development of Peter with the death of Gwen at the bridge.

 

That sounded more morbid than I intended. I just mean that a reboot is not a horrible idea. It will be nice to see what a new crew can do with the web head.

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please help label unknown artists gallery


Okay, I've been snagging pics online for years and amassed a huge collection of mislabeled pictures. Comic Vine has helped somewhat, but there are still a lot I'm scratching my head about. Some of these are most likely fan pieces, so I doubt anyone would be able to accurately name the artist. Please take a look and see if you can help with this task. Sorry, can't offer XP or anything like that. Just know that this will sate my OCD tendencies.

 

http://www.comicvine.com/myvine/g33ky_monk3y/unknown-artists/108-497231/    
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Didn't they learn from Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark?



 

This is just sad. Who, in their right mind, would design a show that used Batman Forever/Batman & Robin as a template? I mean, that was one horrible ride back in the day. I don’t want to relive that hot mess. Its also very surprising since Chris Nolan’s new darker, edgier version of the Caped Crusader is such a smash hit. This is the complete opposite end of that spectrum. I know it’s the stage, but still… come on! No one should be subjected to this!
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X-Men: The Lame Class


 

I’m happy that the costumes at least resemble the traditional X-Men suits. Not so thrilled about McAvoy’s wonderful hair though. I mean, Xavier has always been bald. Its an unspoken thing in the comics that his baldness is related to his powers. Still not sure why Azazel is even involved with this movie. Considering that he hooked up Mystique (they are Nightcrawler’s parents), and she looks to be a teenager in this movie, that might be breaking some laws somewhere. Beast is hidden in the shadows… and blue! Did the filmmakers read the comic, or even see it?! The dude with the huge feet on the comic cover below is Beast. Notice he is not blue, at all. (Although, I’ve got to bring this up, why in the world is Angel holding a bazooka?)
 

 
Two other wonderful (read: horrible) things about this movie is the inclusion of Havoc, which is spelled wrong, and Angel (the girl). Ok, check this: Cyclops was in X-Men 1 & 2 before dying prematurely in X-Men: The Last Stand. Those movies take place in the year 2000 and later. He is the older brother of Alex, also called Havok. So how is Alex/Havok in the period movie of X-Men: First Class? It takes place in the 60′s. That math don’t add up no matter how you spin it. Angel Salvadore is a newer character introduced in the comics in 2001, as a teenager. There were other mutants that were around back then. I think Angel was more of a studio decision, to have more diversity in the lineup. 
 
This is not the first class of X-Men.    

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