Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Together, they fight crime

And tonight we'll be reviewing Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Animated DVD. And we'll find out the answers to the following questions:
  • Can they do the whole "dual commentary" schtick that was the signature stylistic tick of the original stories?
  • Will the creative excellence of Bruce Timm, Stan Burkowitz and co cancel out the Jeph Loeb stupid?
  • Will there be as much Bruce/Clark homoerotic subtext as in the original comic?
  • Are Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Clancy Brown rad? (Answer: HELL YES)
  • Can they pull all of this off in 67 minutes?

My commentary as I watched the movie is listed in roughly chronological order below. I put in some time tags where I thought it was appropriate and it wouldn't be too spoilery.

-Alright, the opening sequence looks like a showcase of all the paranoid fears of the last decade (both left and right) in pretty short and effective package.
-Luthor's speech on superhumans has a lot of Civil War echoes in it.
-The titles sequence resembles a montage of Tom Clancy book covers mushed together - not that that is a bad thing at all; actually, it's a nice stylistic choice.
-Well, that's probably the most advanced political discussion I've ever seen in an superhero cartoon, and probably one of the most nuanced I've seen in the superhero medium, no matter what you think of the arguements on Johnson and Nixon.

-Repeat after me: CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller is always a good thing
-There's a lot of little touches - Holographic Lex Statues outside the Capitol building, that reinforce the idea of Lex's brilliance and his vanity. Nifty, well done, and way more nuanced than anything we saw during "President Lex" in the comics.
-(10:08) Ah, the old couple bickering is alive and well with Bruce and Clark.
- The Superman/Metallo fight? Pretty OK, although they use a rather "unique" interpretation of Metallo, and they are playing Kryptonite a little differently than I remember.

-(15:45) Ah, there's some classic Bruce/Clark banter.
-(17:15) Oh god, subtext? What subtext? It's literally breaking through the screen and punching you in the face. The dialogue is word for word from the boook, and that should tell you how unsubtle it is.
-(18:47) Nitpick time: I do not care for the voice acting on Alfred here. Also, while Alfred with a shotgun is always awesome, I would like to hope that billionaire Bruce Wayne has installed some fallback security measures for his home that don't necessarily involve resorting directly to him.
-The Power Girl/Lex sequences have a nice seductive undertone that Clancy Brown just nails.
- Bruce dissing Lois? Yeah, there's no way to hear that without detecting a note of jealousy.
- That's a pretty nice superbrawl there - well animated, it covers a lot of action in a short amount of time without feeling too choppy.
-And that's the most impressive Captain Atom has been in any medium ever.
-Note to Captain Atom; When one of the your subordinates makes an offhand crack like that, you should really consider having a little one-on-one chat with the guy.
-The Batman and Superman/Hawkman and Captain Marvel fight is a little too short for my tastes, with no really impressive sequences for any of the participants.
-That said? Corey Burton should be put on contract for any future Captain Marvel voicework.
-You know, for a guy who doesn't believe in killing his enemies, Batman has a LOT of high explosives on him.

-Crazy Lex is fun.
-Toyman is a lot better here than he was in the original comic version.
-Kevin Conroy, as Batman, saying "wow" - and now I've seen it all.
-"Best friend" - Awwwww (Keep telling yourself that Clark)
-Now that is a good Superman/Lex Luthor fight - people making the next Superman movie, please please please take note.
-The ending here is pretty cheeseball, but effective. It also acknowledges a big missing piece that might have made for more of the movie, but I'm guessing was cut due to time and/or budget.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Virtually none - if you've rented Green Lantern: First Flight, you've seen them all already, sadly.
Overall evaluation: Yeah, it's a pretty fun light action romp - and far less explicit violence than any other DC direct-to-DVD animated feature to date. Pity it's so light on special features though. Check it out and give me your thoughts.

Your moment of funny

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Typical Week in The Life Of...The Average Marvel Citizen

MONDAY: It’s a great time to live in where the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and all these other wonderful superbeings live in to save us all from danger and villains and monsters!

TUESDAY: Spider-Man is a Menace! I read it in the Bugle! And somebody’s got to stop the Hulk from wrecking everything in sight! The Avengers should get off their asses and take care of this stuff!

WEDNESDAY: Mutants are ruining America! Why can’t Reed Richards create some kind of ray that makes Muties normal? Because his kids are filthy Muties! I tell you I don’t know how heroic guys like Captain America can stand being in the same room as some of these abominations.

THURSDAY: These superheroes are out of control with their fights and the damage! The government needs to step in. I just don’t understand why Captain America seems so against the idea, but I’m sure his heart is in the right place. He’s just misguided because he’s so close to the issue.

FRIDAY: Captain America was a traitor who deserved what he got for being out of touch with the common man! Thank God for Tony Stark, a real American hero who knows how to look out for our interests and is going to take care of us all!

SATURDAY: Fuck Tony Stark and his weak-ass Initiative! It takes a bastard like Norman Osborn to ride herd on all these Superfreaks! We should just throw all of them into space and be done with it!
SUNDAY: Oh God! The Skrulls are invading and the Sentinels just vaporized the Capitol and Magneto just turned Los Angeles into a three-mile high metal sculpture! Norman Osborn is cackling like a moron while the Leader floods the subways with poison gas! Somebody, anybody save us!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Second Draft Required

I said I don't have much to say about the Disney/Marvel thing, and that's true. However, I do want to draw attention to Brian Hibbs letter to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Now, Brian is a pretty sincere guy and as solid a commentator on the Direct Market as one can expect. His thoughts and opinions should be given serious consideration.

It's just sad that his letter won't get any attention where it counts.

I'll just go through the highlights here, as I don't want to reprint the whole thing.

Hi, you don’t know me, but I’m a comic book specialty retailer – also known
as a Direct Market (DM) retailer.

This is not how you want to introduce yourself. Of course Bob Iger doesn't know who you are - hell, he probably doesn't even know what the Direct Market is. It's your job to inform him and make him care. Something this next passage does not help with:

I also suspect that the publishing arm of Marvel is among the least of your
concerns in this deal, as the potential for movies, TV shows, licensing,
amusement parks rides, whatever, is the true prize here for you.

And now the letter is in the trash. Why? You just argued against your own importance, and undercut whatever brilliant arguements you had. If you want him to pay attention, you have to sell him on the idea that what you do MATTERS. If you can't or won't do that, then don't bother with the letter. There's a lot more in this letter that should be addressed, and maybe if I hear enough feedback, I'll even write it down, but it's all irrelevant until this point is dealt with.

I'm sure Brian knows that in business (because he is a businessman, and I'm not) you want to talk up your product, your service, and what you offer. That has to be embedded deeply into every passage of your letter, so it is reinforced to such a degree that the audience/reader cannot deny it. Being self-depricating is not the way to go if you want anyone to pay attention to you. But it's understandable - even we comics fans tend to talk down our product, because we're afraid of ridicule or for other reasons. And that's fine in a social setting, but not in business. You, as a leading retailer, have to convince the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar media empire that your business matters, and that your opinion matters because you are good at running your very meaningful business. So speak up, speak loud and proud and don't be naysayed by hecklers. Try something a little more like this;

"My name is Brian Hibbs, and I run one of the most successful retail shops for
comics and other fine graphic paraphenilia in this country, of which your recent
purchase of Marvel Entertainment is a key part. As a leader in
this region, it is my opinion that an opportunity presents itself for Disney to
increase its holdings by...."

And that's the other part Brian doesn't give much emphasis to in his letter; What's in it for Disney? Because if he wants them to do anything, he has to prove it's in their best interest. Disney's not in the business of helping out someone unless there's a payoff.

So, in summary: Talk up your business, be proud of who you are and what you do, let them know that there is opportunity for DISNEY to profit, and then make your case by stating the facts and backing them up with the numbers. Anything else is a waste of their time and yours.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What is new, in brief


Just a quick update and I'm getting right back to poster-making.

-Alan David Doane has a great e-Book out with a collection of interviews with some of the movers and shakers of the comic industry. Go. Read. Enjoy. Learn.
-Nope. No real commentary on the Disney/Marvel thing.
-Well, ain't that just grand.