Sunday, July 19, 2009

Claremont, creation and questions

X-Men Forever begs a question (for me at least): Is it still considered fan-fiction if it's written by the author who can nominally be considered the creators of the characters? Some of the qualities of (mediocre at best) fanfiction present: established relationships rewritten to authorial preferences, the laws of science and genre convention convienently ignored for nonsensical dramatic moments, and a general sense that the whole point of the exercise is to demonstrate your own superiority to the works of others.

Now, there are those, particularly Alan David Doane that would argue that all (or nearly all) of modern Big Two comics output would be considered fanfiction, and has even coined the term "The Fanfiction Age". I'm not entirely sure he's wrong; there's certainly enough evidence out there to make a good case for it.

However, there is an important difference here: that Chris Claremont is the definitive X-Men writer. All the characters, even those developed before his tenure, were ciphers until his long and storied run. He developed the personalities, the dynamics, and the stories that Marvel has continued to mine for nearly 20 years since he left the property, including for a lucrative film franchising of the property. And Claremont's reward has been, at best, bittersweet: he's gotten his share of work since then, and has had various "golden parachute" titles that Marvel has put out simply on the strength of his name. On the other hand, I can easily imagine him shortly after his heart troubles, sitting at a TV watching "Wolverine and the X-Men" (or rather as I like to think of it - "X-Men: Days of Future Past - the Animated Series") and wondering to himself if he wouldn't have been far better off bringing his ideas to an idea that he could have fully owned and profited from. But that's life in Big Two comics.

All that said, X-Men Forever is not necessarily all that bad; it's certainly in line with the type of X-men comics were coming out in the early 90s, and in its own way, the freedom Claremont has to shake up the status quo whatever way he damn well pleases gives an interesting insight or three into how he views the characters. And it's certainly as valid as the current bad fanfiction being put out by NuMarvel.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is probably going to get me a lot of hate comments

I really am not sure where I should begin with a critique with this upcoming Ms. Marvel cover.
To start, it doesn't really look all that - finished? Look at Wolverine (Daken, Dark Wolvie, whatever) and Sentry - it looks like the inkers just said "Well, fuck it, no one's actually going to pay attention to the background on this thing, so I'm just going to finish up and get ahead of schedule". The Sentry's head appears to have been severed from his body and is floating about three feet to the left of the center of his chest (not that I'm opposed to decapitating the Sentry, mind you). Carol Danver's spine seems to have been snapped, as that's the only way I can imagine that I'm seeing her butts and her chest in the perspective depicted. Is this what passes for professional cover art these days? Not to sound like an old man or anything, but the rushed quality is so apparent that it's actually jarring.
Now, as far as the subject matter, I'm not going to go to far in giving it scorn, but I do want to make a few simple observations. First is that it appears Marvel learned exactly zip from the whole "Heroes for Hire Hentai tentacle cover" controversy - even the excuse of using "controversial" cover depictions to drum up publicity and sales doesn't fly because"Heroes for Hire" got cancelled something like three months later, and so far as I've seen on the internet, no one is talking about it. Maybe comic fans are just used to it by now? Maybe they've just lost the ability to care? Or maybe it's because even FANS of the Ms. Marvel comic have found the comic to be generally a boring directionless mess of a book with unsympathetic characters? I don't know.
Still, the thought that Marvel is putting out covers that increasingly are beginning to resemble fanart from bondage fansites? Not that encouraging. And for those about to bring up Golden and Silver Ages comics and covers which featured a fair deal of "Wonder Woman in chains", well, that's fine, but that was then and this is now, so I don't think it's a fair comparison. There has been a fair number of comic retailers taken to court over lurid imagery, and the companies should maybe show a little more discretion. And for the the record, my reaction to this would be the same if the character were male or female.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Random post of comic Randomness

Christ, but "Old Man Logan" is quite possibly one of the worst comics I've ever read

I think "Old Man Logan" is the epitome of everything WRONG about big two super-comics - it literally coasts on using Nostalgia and telling and not showing you.

As an example, this scene would be totally in place in OML:


HAWKEYE: Where are we?
LOGAN: Outside a place called Forbush, Wyoming
HAWKEYE: know what happened here?
LOGAN: I heard. He saved the entire state. Fought off the Sinister Six Thousand and Ultron 940. Moved the population to that abandoned base on Mars.
HAWKEYE: He was the greatest of us all


And the people would EAT THAT SHIT UP. That's why I can't stand "Old Man Logan"

Marvel is really on a 70s kick right now, when you think about it.

To give a dramatic illustration, let's compare Marvel's biggest gun with a pair of hacks. Brian Bendis vs. Abnett and Lanning. Both of them are currently working on 70s properties (Abnett and Lanning on "HOLY SHIT WE'VE GOT NOVA AND FUCKING ROCKET RACOON AND GODDAMN ADAM WARLOCK AND STARLORD WHO NO ONE HAS EVER GIVEN A SHIT ABOUT EVER" (Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova), and Bendis with "SPIDER WOMAN AND LUKE CAGE AND BROTHER VOODOO AND MS MARVEL ARE FUCKING AWESOME AND NO ONE BUT ME HAS EVER REALIZED HOW SPECIAL SPECIAL THEY ARE" (New Avengers). Ostensibly, these are the same thing really - a fetish for 70s characters that have lain dormant and are being revived simply to keep the intellectual property alive. What is different is that while Bendis has technical skill and an ear for dialogue and a large fan following, he assumes that you actually give a shit about Luke Cage or Spider-Woman to begin with. I don't, so I generally don't give a shit about New Avengers aka "Brian Bendis REALLY loves 70s characters". In contrast, Abnett and Lanning are competent craftsman who actually realize that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE knows who Starlord and Rocket Raccoon are, or are even that familiar with Nova, so they take the time and effort to construct passable, if not particularly innovative, narrative structures that do a minimal job of investing you in the character. You may not end up caring anyway, or you may not like the story one way or another, but at least they do the minimum job of trying to build emotional investment.

Of course, what will be interesting is when the next generation of "fans turned pro" enter comics and we get revivals of 80s and 90s stuff. Yeah, that'll be...something...god only knows what though.

On Bendis again - but I guess the point of his work on the Avengers franchise now is to remold the #1 superteam of the Marvel Universe into a noir setting, and man the failings of that approach are obvious, especially in the latest issue where Hawkeye says "we have to kill Norman Osborn" because 1) that is so insanely out of character for Hawkeye that it beggars description, and 2) because that kind of logic only works in mob movies. I don't think many of the writers at Marvel realizes that noir genre logic doesn't...actually, you know, WORK IN REAL LIFE. But again, maybe this is just the result of too many like minds in the Bullpen.

The End League is a well-intentioned misfire: In all the interviews, Rick Remender states that his intention was to show that a world in which "an average human being at random gets superpowers" would not be favorable to "the good guys", but we never see that. Instead we see a bunch of thinly-veiled DC and Marvel Analogues, and how the thinly-veiled analogues for Lex Luthor, the Red Skull, and Joker turn the planet into a toilet. I mean, it's not bad per se, but it doesn't really address Remender's intention to show what "real people" would be like with superpowers because most people wouldn't become anything like Superman or Spider-Man or Batman or the Red Skull or the Joker - most people would be somewhere in between. Irredeemable suffers from a similar conceit, and thus failure.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

And now, a tribute

Happy Independence Day to my American neighbours and readers and so forth. And if you want to see my favorite Captain America beatdown of all time, go here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pick the Best Caption

Cynical or Non-cynical captions? U-Decide! State your preference!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Just a stopover

I swear, more posts are coming - Still a bit jetlagged, but here's a few new posters to tide you over.

Also, Happy Canada Day!