Thursday, April 24, 2008

Weekly random rambling

Paul Pope should collaborate with his nephew more often. That kid is an idea machine.


—Obviously, it’s still pretty early but I’ve gotta say, I’m starting to get more and more worried about Frank Miller’s Spirit movie. For example, the poster. Now, the image-elements-forming-words motif is a standard Will Eisner trick, one that’s associated with Eisner’s The Spirit. But shouldn’t those image elements form the words “The Spirit” rather than the tagline? And what on earth is up with the color palette? Why does The Spirit look like he’s rocking black and red, and no blue? Wouldn’t that be like putting The Shadow in a blue hat and trenchcoat, or Dick Tracy in head-to-toe read?

And now we’ve got a teaser trailer:



More black, white and red coloration, rooftop acrobatics that look like a jokier, less-appropriate-to-the franchise version of those in this trailer



and that dialogue? My God, it sounds like a parody of Frank Miller dialogue. Ragnell’s response seems like the most appropriate one: “I can’t watch this with a straight face.”

The Spirit is a pretty challenging character to take from comics to film, since, as I’ve often said about attempts to update the character in comics, there’s nothing terribly compelling about him, his setting, his villains and supporting cast—It was Eisner’s execution of all those fairly generic elements that made the comics at all worthwhile.

The Spirit minus Eisner is not a very strong starting position, no matter who is tasked with making something out of it on paper, but then to jump into a whole new medium on top of that?

And Hollywood hasn’t had a whole lot of luck when it comes to heroes of Spirit’s vintage, either creatively or at the box office. See Dick Tracy, The Phantom, The Shadow and The Green Hornet. Oh that’s right, you can’t see The Green Hornet, because it hasn’t made it out of development hell yet. See what I mean?

Still seems less likely to suck as badly as Watchmen, though…


—Hey, waitaminute…why’s The Spirit teaser end with the titular hero saying, “I’m on my way?” That was Dick Tracy’s tagline, and was featured at the end of the trailer for that film (and in the poster and ads that ran in comics back in, Jesus, 1990?).


— Say, it looks like DC is launching a new Power Girl ongoing comic. That’s…unexpected.

I like her okay as part of an ensemble, as in JSoA or the old JLE/JLI, but never cared for her much as a lead, particularly now that her status quo is basically, “What if Superman were a lady…with really big breasts...and cried a little bit more often?”

I’m still totally planning on trying it out though, because it looks like DC’s managed to get Amanda Conner to draw it. And Conner’s about the only person I could imagine doing this book at DC and not completely fucking it up.

Confidential to whoever edits this book: you'll want to keep Kevin Maguire on speed dial for fill-ins; his style is similar enough to Conner’s to make for a good stylistic match, and shares her strength with facial expressions.


—So Amanda Conner, Gail Simone and Nicola Scott will all be working on ongoing DCU titles at DC shortly. Three women working on regular DCU titles. At the same time.

Wow, I think they’ll then have more than the Minx line does…


—So DC finally realized that if Supergirl were capable of selling T-shirts and purses and plastic crap with glittery pink S-shields on it to little girls, maybe she could also sell them a comic book? About time.

I’m not all that fond of the costume design, which is basically just Superman’s with a skirt instead of a pair of manties.

I still like Dean Trippe’s Supergirl design


and Mai K.’s Supergirl design



a lot better, but, hey, at least there’s a Supergirl comic in the works that it doesn’t make me sad to think of an actual girl actually reading.


A typically interesting review/thinkpiece by Savage Critic Abhay Khosla examines why DC’s Blue Beetle comic has been a failure, despite its strong internet following, generally positive critical reactio and writer John Rogers’ strong finish of his run on the book.

I remember reading the first issue and thinking it was just an awful, awful comic. I gave it another try a year and a half later, and it was by that time one of DC’s better super-comics. So I look forward to the rest of Khosla’s analysis; so far, it mirrors my own experience pretty strongly.

Plus, sex jokes.


The big reveal at the end of Captain Marvel #5 doesn’t make Civil War: The Return suck any less.


—I was previously hoping Geoff Johns would make Thomas Wayne and Aquababy Black Lanterns in his 2009 zombies-with-power-rings event-story “The Blackest Night.” Now I’m hoping Schatzi gets a black ring.


—Despite the Power Girl and Supergirl announcements, there was lots of bad news for DC fans in this week’s Lying In the Gutters col. Richard Johnston reports that it will indeed be Martian Manhunter dying in Final Crisis, which is too bad, but sure to be temporary (I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it a dozen more times, but, man, once you bring Jason Todd back from the dead by having Superboy-Prime punch the walls of continuity, how can any death be seen as permanent in your fictional universe again? Particularly when the character in question is in essence a completely mental organism that controls its body on a molecular level).

But Johnston follows that up with, “But in the last issue, Barry Allen comes back.”

Oh man, I hope that’s misinformation someone’s feeding him, like he said his previous report that Barry Allen would be the leader of the Black Lanterns. Because aside from the fact that Barry Allen is one of, like, two deaths in the DCU that should never be undone (the other being Jason Todd, of course), I can’t believe that many people actually care about Barry Allen anymore. He’s been dead for 22 years now. That’s just three shy of an actual generation now.

The worse news? “I hear Brad Meltzer is working on a new heavy-DC-continuity series. A thematic sequel to ‘Identity Crisis.’”

I don’t know what exactly “heavy-DC-continuity” means exactly, but I don’t like the sound of it. Actually, I don’t like the sound anything in that sentence after the word “hear.”


—While searching the Grand Comic Book Database for cover images to link to from my Tuesday post about DC’s many (many, many) gorilla characters and stories, I decided that the company has more than enough material for a few volumes of Showcase Presents: Gorillas! collections.

I know I’d totally buy ‘em.


—You know, the bumper stickers and billboards in the backgrounds of panels are nice, and coverage like this is no doubt nice PR for Marvel, but if Marvel doesn’t publish a comic come November about the three-way race for the Marvel White House between Stephen Colbert, John McCain and Barack Obama/Hilary Clinton, they’re missing out on the opportunity for a hell of a good comic.

Don’t you want to read a comic where the candidates have to take positions on the SHRA, outline their proposed trade policy with Atlantis and Wakanda, and tell voters how they propose to clean-up the streets from Mutant Growth Hormone? Where they have meetings with The Daily Bugle editorial board to try and secure J. Jonah Jameson’s endorsement? Where they have to explain to pro-choice and pro-life interests groups not only how they feel about abortion, stem cell research and cloning, but also cloning killer cyborgs that look like Thor?


—Question time: I didn’t finish Countdown, and only lasted somewhere between five and eight issues, but I did flip through it now and then throughout the rest of the year. Like this week, during which the final issue shipped. (Well, I flipped through it until I saw a panel of Mary Marvel saying “I’m Mary damn Marvel” and then I flung it back towards the shelf before it could hurt me).

Anyway, did they ever get around to explaining why Captain Atom became evil and decided to conqure the multiverse? I didn’t see him in that last issue at all.

And whatever happened to Superboy-Prime and Mxy?

Just curious.


—Just FYI, I am going to be out of EDILW HQ much of this week, vacationing in beautiful Northeast Ohio. I’ve tried to “work” ahead a bit, but chances are still pretty good that there may be some disruption in daily posting around, oh, Sunday or so. Or maybe the posts will just be a little lazier than usual. One or the other.

18 comments:

snell said...

Caleb-

A) Cap'n Atom/Monarch bit the dust in Countdown #13, when Superboy-Prime ripped him open and unleashed the funky quantum explosion that completely destroyed the entire universe of Earth-51...yes, seriously...Superboy-Prime also hasn't been seen since then (although we know he's going to be in the Legion brouhaha, so maybe he was just thrown into the future). No word on Mxy.

B) No, Cap'n Atom's turn to the Dark Side was never explained in Countdown...for the explanation, you (sort of) had to go back to his crossover into the WIldstorm Universe, and the Bludhaven limited series, where his experiences apparently convinced him the multiverse needed some order, and that Monitors were bad news.

You see, why bother to give any motivation or characterization to your villain in the actual series he is "starring" in? That's not the Countdown way, my man...

Hdefined said...

Caleb, your complaints about the stuff we've seen of the Spirit so far seem to be of the highest order of nitpicks.

"For example, the poster. Now, the image-elements-forming-words motif is a standard Will Eisner trick, one that’s associated with Eisner’s The Spirit. But shouldn’t those image elements form the words “The Spirit” rather than the tagline?"

What difference does that make? Besides, the average movie-goer hasn't even heard of the Spirit, whereas "MY CITY SCREAMS" is an interesting tagline to grab attention. Which do you think deserves more emphasis?

"And what on earth is up with the color palette? Why does The Spirit look like he’s rocking black and red, and no blue?"

So what? Does the color scheme change the fundamentals of the character and how the story is told?

"Wouldn’t that be like putting The Shadow in a blue hat and trenchcoat, or Dick Tracy in head-to-toe read?"

No, it would be like Frank Miller adapting the Spirit to his style and the color palette he prefers in his films.

Patrick C said...

I can't remember the exact words, but the Evil Monitor named 'Solomon' was telling Darkseid how he manipulated Captain Atom into becoming evil.

Mxy popped back to the 5th dimension, and I forget what happened to Superboy Prime. I'd have to double check my issues, but I'll agree with the previous poster who said he was probably thrown into the future. We didn't see him after the Monarch explosion that destroyed the universe.

(Destroyed a Universe which existed again a few issues later when they unleashed the Great Disaster on it. Apparently if a universe is destroyed the Monitor just needs to hit the reset button, or go back to his most recent save point.)

SallyP said...

Frankly, I agree with you about the Spirit. I always thought that it had a certain lightheartedness to it...a touch perhaps even of whimsy. Frank Miller is NOT the person that conjures up whimsy for me. Not remotely.

*sigh*

The thought of Amanda Conner doing Power Girl does sound nice. I like Peej. And why the heck isn't Maguire drawing any books? Put him back on JLA, and my heart would go pitter-pat.

No, they never DID explain the whole bit with Captain Atom. What really makes it weird, is that in the Ion mini-series, when Kyle is accidentally drawn into the Tangent universe, Capt. Atom is the one who rescues him, and explains the whole notion of the Bleed, and is quite helpful. Then he suddenly turns bad. And the whole Mary Marvel thing just makes me cringe.

Mike Lorah said...

Regarding The Spirit--

I actually like the poster a lot. I can see why, for marketing purposes or what-have-you, the studio/producers/hand-wringers want to have a consistent Spirit logo for people to identify - similar to DC using a consistent logo on the cover of the current Spirit comics.

Using the image-elements-lettering for the movie's tagline pays homage to Eisner's work and adds a very striking visual punch to the poster, however. So, yeah, I completely dig the poster.

However, 23 Archives into The Spirit, I'm agreeing with Sally and you that the tenor of the movie as seen in the trailer is completely wrong. The Spirit's a light-hearted strip, and visually the whole look, from the black trenchcoat to the Frank Miller-always-drawing-Chuck Taylors (which, hey, I wear myself, but I wouldn't have The Spirit wearing them), is completely off. I hope none of that footage is actually in the movie, because the actor doesn't even seem to be interacting with the backgrounds in the most cursorily suspensed-belief manner.

Right now, I'm leaning, very, very heavily, toward not seeing this movie at all. I can't discuss which will be worse - Spirit or Watchmen. A lifetime of ignorance about both is probably the best course of action.

Enjoy your vacation, amigo!

Dumma said...

I've yet to read the new BB, but that article in the Savage Critic makes little sense to me; maybe is because of the lack of context but the whole "oh noez a father using physical punishment equals abuse" thing is just so ridiculous

Like I said, I don't know the specifics of the scene, but the SC reaction to the joke seems like A) he didn't get it and B) he's overreacting to say the least

Maybe is the whole cultural difference thing but as a mexican I can tell you, physical punishment is not the horrible horror (of horrors) to us

Anthony Strand said...

I prefer to just think of The Spirit as a Sin City movie. Because that's what it looks like.

Countdown is not worth thinking about, my friend.

Anthony Strand said...

Dumma - Yeah, I think Abhay has BB all wrong too. The child abuse thing is blown out of proportion, and he says that "the best superheroes can be summed up in one word" when what he means is "Marvel's superheroes are one-dimensional".

Dean Trippe said...

Hey thanks, Caleb. I'm hopeful about the new Supergirl series, and so far Jann Jones has done a great job of helming the revised Johnny DC line, especially on Tiny Titans. But of course, I'd like to have seen my design used. ;)

Oh dude, and everything coming out of Frank Miller's The Spirit is at best a joke. It's hard for me to understand a current comics creator so wholly forcing his own style onto the work of a founding father of our medium. I'd much rather have seen a fan/creator like Brad Bird direct a true film incarnation of Will Eisner's The Spirit.

corey henson said...

Okay, so you said yourself that the Spirit isn't terribly compelling on his own, and that it's Eisner's storytelling innovations that make it work. And you bring up Dick Tracy, Phantom, and Shadow as examples of characters from the Shadow's heyday that bombed in theaters. So, why shouldn't Miller reinterpret the character for his film? The Sin City motif is more likely to draw in an audience than a faithful adaption, which has already been proven to be box office death by those other three films. And why stick to a formula that, as you said, isn't interesting anyway?

Dean Trippe said...

Oh and the problem about that reviewer's take on that scene from Blue Beetle #1 is that they're completely misunderstanding it. It's not a punchline, it's an uncomfortable, but honest comeback from someone who's revealing too much about herself to her friends who have no idea how to help. It's an incredibly important bit of information, and it makes it clear that while yeah we're having fun in a teen superhero book, we're not in happy fun land and this book is going to deal with some complications we don't usually see in this setting.

SallyP said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who was a bit off-put by the Abhay critique of Blue Beetle. He did seem to be missing the forest for the trees.

Mike Lorah said...

Corey,

You bring up a good argument, and for me, it comes back to that I'd prefer a Spirit movie represent Eisner's work and fail as a commercial film than succeed financially as bastardization of the strip.

Why call it The Spirit if it's only using superficial names from the strip?

Now, the trailer hasn't shown us much, so I'm willing to be proven wrong and admit that the movie is close to Eisner's vision, if it is so. But I'm not holding my breath.

Roderick De Jesus said...

I would appreciate the SPirit movie if a) i never knew a thing about the spirit. and b) wasn't annoyed at the fact that frank miller has become a one trick pony. I've been impersonating the spirit in the trailer all week.

Caleb said...

Caleb, your complaints about the stuff we've seen of the Spirit so far seem to be of the highest order of nitpicks.

Well, nitpicking is kind of what I do around here. And ALL I've got to go on at this point is a coupla posters and that teaser trailer.

I plan on seeing, thinking about and writing about the movie when the proper time comes, but for now, all I can do is react to what they release as they do, you know?

No, it would be like Frank Miller adapting the Spirit to his style and the color palette he prefers in his films.

That's not always a good thing. Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher both adapted Batman to their personal styles and the results were wildly different; one good, one bad. Not looking at it as a film as much as an adaptation of a comics story by another comics creator brekaing into film though, there's some weirdness present here that isn't there when a filmmaker adapts a comic book (does that make sense?)


I'd much rather have seen a fan/creator like Brad Bird direct a true film incarnation of Will Eisner's The Spirit.

Damn you for even putting that thought in my head.

So, why shouldn't Miller reinterpret the character for his film? The Sin City motif is more likely to draw in an audience than a faithful adaption, which has already been proven to be box office death by those other three films. And why stick to a formula that, as you said, isn't interesting anyway?

Oh yeah, I'm sure the Frank Miller-ification will serve the film well economically, and mmmmaybe even creatively...but I guess we won't know until we see it.

Tony said...

It's true that Miller is a bigger name than the Spirit. But if you're not going to be true to the character, why even use him? They must have thought there was some value in the Spirit name; otherwise, why pay to use it?

Why not use Midnight or one of the other Spirit knock-offs? Why not do another volume of Sin City?

I'm saying this as someone who's a huge Miller fan. I love Sin City, but it's not the Spirit.

Kevin Huxford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Huxford said...

Snell/Caleb: I think there was supposed to be some demonstration of Captain Atom's losing touch with reality in Kyle Rayner's 12 issue mini, too. Kyle kept wandering into the Bleed and bumping into Cap, if memory serves, with him having gotten to the point of paranoia and talking to himself.

HDEFINED: No, it would be like Frank Miller adapting the Spirit to his style and the color palette he prefers in his films.

What part of "Frank Miller adapting the Spirit to his style" doesn't suggest getting away from Eisner's style?

Count me amongst the people that would love to see Frank Miller faceplant walking into the premiere of THE SPIRIT for disrespecting Eisner's work by bending the project to his will rather than make it true to the material. Sure...if he didn't screw it up, someone else would. Let them. Don't be that guy.