Sunday, February 26, 2012

(links)

I kind of want a pair of these. I'd like 'em to run around the house in and make the little capes flap.

I think I would have liked 'em when I was a runner in high school (cross country and track), but the thing is, you'd have to be really, really fast to wear 'em. Like, if you wore them in a race, you'd look a little like an asshole, and if you were bad—like, if you didn't come in first place every race, or maybe in second at the absolute worst, you'd look like a total a-hole.

Given that, I probably only would have been able to wear 'em my senior year while running the 400-meter dash, which was my best event and which I tended to win all the time, but then, the little capes would probably offer a little drag, and the 400 is a short enough race—basically a very, very long sprint—that a second or two added to one's time for drag could end up losing you the race.

Anyway, to any family members who are accidentally reading my blog, remember, I have a birthday coming up...

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Oh my God, was I actual right about something...? I'm not sure that the ICv2 article counts as proof, but the fact that a reboot of DC Universe continuity would make large swathes of pre-reboot, no longer relevant storylines collected in trade paperbacks less attractive to readers just makes sense. Classics and continuity-lite evergreens would of course be unaffected, but why on earth would you read, say, those old Blue Beetle collections is a new Blue Beetle series was overwriting them? (To answer my own rhetorical question, because they seem a whole lot better).

Anything JLA or Teen Titans related, recent big events like Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost, 20 years worth of Flash comics, the majority of post-Crisis Superman comics...none of that stuff seems to "count" anymore.

At least for the moment. I do believe DCU continuity is going to de-reboot at some point...

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Mark Millar, who talks about his comics almost exclusively in Hollywood and movie terms, and who has completely re-focused his comics writing from publisher-owned superhero franchise work to short, movie adaptation pitch-ready high-concept, creator-owned series, wants you to know that he hasn't gone Hollywood.

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Last week's links post contained a couple of links to articles about Kevin Smith and at least one of his cohorts. Here's one I neglected, a September 2011 article from Flavorwire headlined "The Suicide Bomber: The Implosion of Kevin Smith", which details how the writer/director allowed his irritation at bad reviews of Cop Out to turn his Red State into a direct-to-DVD release (for all intents and purposes).

Writes Jason Bailey of it:
It is easily his finest film to date, but most moviegoers will remain completely unaware of it, because Smith has undercut its success at every turn with his own hubris, greed, or ignorance. Or, perhaps, all three.
The details of a tour in which various actors are left to wilt on stage while Smith takes questions from the audience are pretty cringe-inducing too.

(By the way, I kinda-sorta reviewed Red State on the blog here, although you'll have to scroll down quite a ways to get to it. Despite being square in Kevin Smith fan demographic, I was completely unaware of the film's existence until I saw its cover on the DVD at the library and picked it up, thinking it was some sort of modern horror movie/political take on The Most Dangerous Game)

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Writing for The Oregonian, Steve Duin suggests Frank Miller might be fairly ill at the moment.

I hope Frank Miller's not really in too bad of shape, and I especially hope it's not something neurological, because then I'll feel pretty bad about all the times I've wondered aloud if he's lost his mind, given his weirdo paranoid Holy Terror and out-of-nowhere fantasy rant against his imagined version of the Occupy movement...

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Cool. Sadly, they've already gone through the best part of the "First Class" story, in which Mags and Chuck just hang out, bromanicng each other, and trying to recruit mutants to their cause.

Maybe X-Men: First Class 2 can be set entirely within that one montage scene in X-Men: First Class....

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Huh. Jim Lee said the greatest Darkseid story of them all is a story that wasn't a Jack Kirby one...? Weird.

I don't care for the construction of Lee's cover for the upcoming Justice League #6. It's laid out kind of weird. Like, it's hard to even see Cyborg on it...

I don't like Ivan Reis' variant cover for the same issue much better.

It looks like a detail from a Todd McFarlane Spawn comic...or one of those issues of Spawn after McFarlane left, and guys who used even more little lines took over the art.

I generally like both Lee and Reis' interior work these days, so I guess it's more cover construction. The thing I like about Darkseid visually is that he's basically like the silent movie Golem made the Boss of Evil, or a sort of evil monument to Evil, or even a living monument to himself. In a mini-dress.

These images make him look more...generic, I guess. A smooth-finished Thing with fire eyes, striking generic poses.

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Whew! Wouldn't want a Batman comic to ship without a tie-in to that big owl-fighting storyline.

It's too bad they canceled Batman: The Brave and The Bold; they coulda had Sholly Fisch and Rick Burchett work up a story where Batman must team up with Earth-3's Owl Man or something...

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Is it just me, or do they look like a bunch of assholes in this image?

Don't get me wrong, that can be a good look for the JLA—I like those Alex Ross posters where they look like a bunch of smug, assholes, too—but in this image they all just seem really, really, really...asshole-ish.

Aquaman looks like he's angry with me personally, like he read one of my negative reviews of his new book and isn't happy. And Superman...I don't know. Every time I've seen some of these new costumes, especially Superman's, I've been unable to shake the feeling that he's not the "real" Superman, but an Elseworlds version. Those costumes coupled with some of these expressions really emphasizes this League's look as not the real Justice League, but some sort of evil alternate League from the future or a different dimension.

(I assume they will have a Satellite base again? I liked the moon base the best, but I think there should be a rule where every time their HQ gets destroyed by a writer, the next writer has to think of a newer, cooler base in a location that hasn't been used previously. I wonder if New 52 JLA ever had a cave in Happy Harbor now, or if they went straight into an orbital satellite after fighting Darkseid five years ago...?)

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I haven't linked to Tucker Stone in a while, so here's a link to his latest "Comics of the Weak" column, a good example of Tucker doing what he does best, starting with the too soon! headline, in which he goes there simply to call out a recent, shitty comic (I don't know, I guess it's shitty; he seems to think so, though The Onion's AV Club liked it...whose tastes do yours line up with more?), and his reference to the lauded Scott Snyder Batman arc about Batman fighting owls as "he hipster douchebag version of that old Batman mini-series by Jim Starlin, The Cult."

And here's Stone and Joe McCulloch reviewing a trio of new-ish movies, all three of which I can't wait to see.

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Here's a pretty nice piece from Kelly Thompson about women in comics, with some nice images, like the chart-like image of female athletes, and some good quotes, like this one: "It’s important to remember that idealization of the form is not the same as sexualization of the form."

Yeah!

I hope creators and editors read Thompson's piece.

I think the folks at DC did internalize a lot of this sort of criticism prior to the reboot, and while they still have their "big, sexy problem" with certain characters, I wonder if that's them being terrible more than them not getting it.

Like, maybe the decision was made at some point that, "Okay, let's have some T+ ladies known for their provocative costumes and attitudes about sex, and have them serve as the focal points of all this icky stuff we've been inserting in all our comics these last five-to-ten years now, and maybe keep the random T-and-A out of Batgirl and Wonder Woman and Justice League and Birds of Prey."

I'm just guessing; I don't actually read most of their books anymore, so I'm going by flip-throughs, covers and reviews and reporting, but if the company's portrayal and usage of Catwoman, Starfire and Harley Quinn got worse after the reboot, many of the other female characters got better, less-revealing and more practical costumes.

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One of the main points Thompson makes in that piece is that while most male super-characters are given idealized forms based on the bodies of athletes, while most female super-characters are given idealized forms based on the bodies of porn stars and supermodels.

During my life-time of reading, it seems like the specific type of athlete that most male super-characters are given bodies based on are weight-lifters and body-builders, with few, notable exceptions (John Romita Jr.'s slim Spider-Man coming to mind most immediately).

I think it would be fine for male artists to look to the bodies of female gymnasts, swimmers and dancers and martial artists for inspiration, or maybe soccer players and runners, depending on the heroine. But I hope few look to body-builders for inspiration.

That look has often seemed...wrong to me when applied to male superheroes. Like, Superman doesn't get his prodigious strength from his muscles, but because of crazy solar/gravity super-science powers.

Likewise, Wonder Woman need not have the body of a body-builder just because she has super-strength. Her super-strength is "magic."

I really liked H.G. Peter's Wonder Woman upon his original design, when she was almost waifish and girl-like. It really accentuated the wondrous nature of her power. Like, not only is this normal woman able to, say, lift an elephant over her head, but this frail-looking girl is lifting an elephant over her head.

I'm okay with Wonder Woman seen as more beautiful than built, patterned after a super-model or actress instead of an athlete (She was also magically made to be beautiful, after all), although I think she can look both beautiful and strong, as tons of artists have done over the years.

Wonder Woman as Barbie doll doesn't work, and Wonder Woman as small girl doesn't quite work anymore (due to all the interpretations in the years since Peter first drew her...the young girl who is nevertheless super-strong visual strategy works well for Supergirl and Mary Marvel though, who are girls rather than women)

I think the George Perez or Phil Jimnez designs are pretty spot on. And I've seen great J. bone and Darwyn Cooke Wonder Woman designs, too. Even Alex Ross' Wondy is usually pretty good, although his Wonder Women can sometimes creep me out with their Lynda Carter-ishness.

Anyway, Wonder Woman's the heroine I think of immediately when reading these sorts of discussions, and I think DC is—visually—getting her right at the moment. Her character still seems a bit off to me, but hers is one of the all-around best DC Universe books at the moment, so if DC wants her to be more of a warrior hero than a superhero these days, well, at least her comic book is good.

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So have you guys been keeping up with the return of Shotgun Reviews this past week or so?

If not, you missed former "Best Shots" comics reviewer and former DC editor Janelle Asselin's two-part contribution, "What It Feels Like For A Girl (In Comics) Part 1 and 2.

It's...well, the word "Ugh" was the one that kept running through my head while reading her posts, and I felt really sad when I got done. But they are worth reading.

What's weird is that I'm really quite fascinated by the making of comics (I think more so in the "olden days", in a pre-digital, pre-"Everything's an IP" age, but I still want to know, like, what DC Comics' office looks like or to ride the elevators at Marvel HQ or whatever), but the more I hear about it, the more awful it seems.

And whether the stories about what making comics is really like these days, either from people who work in the field sharing negative stories, for the obvious reasons, or from people who work in the field sharing positive stories (which so often tend to seem fake and douchey).

It's weird hitting your mid-thirties and realizing a thing you wanted to do since you were a little kid probably isn't something you really want to do after all (like I need another thing to have a midlife crisis about...!)

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Here's an interesting post from David Brothers at his site, discussing what Marvel's decision to ship their monthlies more-often-than-monthly is affecting the art of their line.

Once upon a time, when aritsts drew in house styles or from character designs, it really didn't matter so much who showed up to pencil a particular Archie or Superman short story. Like, kids could still tell when Carl Barks was drawing Donald Duck vs. someone else, and especially astute fans would notice, the fans who would grow up to be crticis and writers-about-comics and comics creators themselves, but I think by and large in old-school superhero comics, having a different artist show up now and then wasn't as big a deal as it is now.

Now individual styles are encouraged, and there don't seem to be any character designs for super-comics (Read every Batman comic form, say, March of 2009, and you'll find every single one has a Bruce Wayne with a different hairstyle, build and height, for example).

I don't read enough Marvel to care at this point, but seeing artists changing constantly in a book you're reading can be incredibly wearying, and something that would get me to drop a book eventually, unless all the artists are excellent and then, even if it's not ideal, that's probably okay (but how often does it happen that a book needs lots of fill-in artists, and all of the artists are equally as good as each other?).

It does seem like another instance of a short-term positive (more issues in readers' hands per calendar year means more $3 and $4 deposits from them in that calendar year) that adds up to a long-term negative (in addition to devaluing the artist and making ugly comics, as Brothers points out, it makes the product unattractive to more people...I would assume. Based on the fact that I hear folks complain about changes all the time, but never hear anyone say, "The thing I like about this book is you never know who's going to be drawing it next!")

2 comments:

Akilles said...

"Is it just me, or do they look like a bunch of assholes in this image?"

Maybe they are grim, `cause they feel guilty because of all those violent things they do, and therefore reflect their guiltiness towards others. By looking like that.

I like Thompsons article too. But I also think that Wondy should look like a model, like you.
No, I`m not trying to be a brownnose...

JohnF said...

Ivan Reis is a really good artist, but his lack of professionalism is starting to show. He made it through all of 5 issues of new Aquaman before needing a fill-in artist? Disappointing.
I guess that's why Greg Land keeps getting work; he can turn out an entire issue of X-Men art every two weeks. It's not actually any good, but we can't have everything.