Thursday, November 01, 2007


This is when I usually post a link to Las Vegas Weekly’s comics column, but due to space constraints, there’s no column this week.

So here are some other links, numbered for your convenience, and some bonus verbiage about ‘em…

1.) So you’ve probably seen the Wanted trailer by now, huh?

From the looks of it, they took out all that stuff about superheroes and supervillains, which strikes me as the wrong way to adapt a high concept comic book series in which the main hook was that comic book superheroes were real, but they were defeated by real supervillains who tricked us all into thinking they’re just the stuff of comics and cartoons.

I can kind of understand the impulse to de-super it a bit, considering that it was peopled almost exclusively by rather obvious analogues to characters owned by different corporations, and maybe Universal didn’t want to deal with using a bunch of knock-offs of Marvel and DC characters (particularly since the DC ones are owned by the same company that owns a big movie studio like Warner Brothers), but, at the same time, The Incredibles and Sky High got made okay.

A better solution might have been to make the analogues a bit blurrier than to simply chuck them all. Because once you’ve lost the superhero aspects, what you’re left with is the Matrix-like “dude realizes reality isn’t what it seems and he can do awesome stuff with guns” aspect of the plot, and the melodrama of the original series revolving around Wesley’s ennui and father issues.

In other words, from the looks of the preview, Paramount decided to adapt the bad, derivative parts of Wanted and excise the good, interesting parts.

I also find it humorous that it stars James McAvaoy and Angelina Jolie instead of Eminem and Halle Berry, after Mark Millar and J.G. Jones went to so much trouble to “cast” them in the original comics.

2.) My mind absolutely boggles that anyone in the entire world is surprised and/or offended to see Wizard magazine declaring itself “The #1 Men’s Pop Culture Magazine!”*

In fact, the branding makes perfect sense, and seems a bit overdue. I’m sure it’s a hell of a lot easier to sell ads when you identify yourself as a men’s magazine with an easily identified and understood demographic instead of a “comics culture” magazine, and, if anything, it seems a little late—I’m not as well versed in the publishing industry as I used to be, but wasn’t the big “laddie magazine” explosion at its zenith a few years back?

But it’s not like this constitutes a new focus for Wizard—they’ve always clearly been written primarily by and overwhelmingly for a (rather immature) male audience.

If anything surprises me about the branding, it’s that they’re going with “men’s;” I would assume it was “teenage boys.’”

3.) Speaking of things a whole lot of comics bloggers blogged about at the same time once, remember the Showcase Presents: Batgirl Vol. 1 cover switcheroo, in which some folks were sore to miffed that DC solicited the collection with one image (the cover of Detective Comics #359), but shipped it with another, one that some found a bit on the insensitive side?

Well, I finally got around to finishing up that volume of Showcase Presents, and I’m a little torn over whether or not that cover is representative of the contents, and therefore whether it’s necessarily inappropriate or not.

I counted 45 individual stories in the volume, and that image comes from the title page splash in “Batgirl’s Costume Cut-Ups!”, a story in which Batgirl’s feminine vanity keeps getting her in trouble, with a punchline ending that there are some advantages to being a female, like being able to fight crime with sex appeal. (Which she proves by loudly declaring she has a run in her tights in the middle of battle, and then “extending her shapely leg” to examine the tear. This distracts the lawbreakers, who whistle and “stare admiringly,” while Batman and Robin, who are, obviously, totally gay, don’t even glance in her direction, and mop the floor with the distracted heterosexual criminals).

While this is the only story that is that focused on Batgirl as a comically girly crime fighter, the entire volume is peppered with stories (all by men) that are far girlier than your typical Batman and Robin stories. For example, I don’t think the Dynamic Duo ever had so many cases involving different aspects of the fashion industry in so short a span of time.

There’s also that really weird issue of Brave and the Bold in which Wonder Woman and Batgirl pretend to fall in love with Batman, and then really fall in love with him, but that’s a Bob Haney story, so there’s really no point in thinking about it too much because, well, it’s a Bob Haney story.

So is the cover inappropriate? I guess some version of the originally solicited one might have been more appropriate (it was certainly a more famous image of Batgirl), but I don’t think the applying make-up in the middle of a fight cover is wholly inappropriate either.

I really enjoyed this particular volume of reprints, though. There is a lot of great Gil Kane art, and it’s fun seeing the storytelling mature and grow more sophisticated right before your eyes (The first story is from 1967, the last from 1975). And because Batgirl stories are being pulled from all over (Brave and the Bold, Justice League of America and some Superman books, in addition to Detective Comics), you really get a wide variety of types of stories, from Haney and Gardner Fox zaniness to Denny O’Neil and Elliot S. Maggin realism.

Also, Batman totally tries to set Barbara Gordon and Clark Kent up together in one story. Babs, who is by that point a congresswoman, doesn’t see much to like in Kent, and they never hit it off.

Still, imagine what might have been!

Anyway, cover aside, the interiors get the EDILW seal of approval for affordably priced black-and-white reprint awesomeness.

*Unless what they’re surprised by is the #1 in that statement, because I find it hard to believe they’re the #1 men’s pop culture magazine myself. But perhaps it simply means that Wizard is defining all the better-selling men’s pop culture related magazines as “lifestyle” magazines or something instead of “pop culture” ones…


Johnny Temuka said...

1) James McAvoy is a good actor. He was bloody great in Atonement. I seen that Morgan Freeman has never put in a shitty performance, even on some awful, awful movies. That, and lots of jumping around with guns, is good enough for me.

2) That Wizard thing is funny, but what happened to their website was funnier.

3) You have too much time on your hands, man.

Adam said...

There could still be some reasonable aspects to the movie, though I doubt these transferred over either. The parts where they villain him up mostly, letting him commit crimes, work in a slaughter house, and generally enjoy all of the power that comes with his abilities. I had to watch the trailer with the sound off at work, but I doubt they are going to make him quite the bastard he was in comic.

Greg said...

Thanks for giving the Batgirl Showcase a little more time--the picture on the cover seemed (from my slim memory of Batgirl stories) to be somewhat more appropos...(tho the image of her breaking up the Ambiguously Gay Duo...oh, wait, that's someone pretty classic!)...being, as you say, "girly".

This sounds like an interesting collection of Silver Age goodness, and now I'm a bit more interested in picking it up, if only to remind me to be so grateful for the terrific characterization Babs enjoys these days!