Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Year in Review

And it's all good news people!

OK, first up.


Well, duh.....

What do you mean it's not an actual movie?

Fine. Too bad - I still think it was the best superhero movie of the year and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.


Again, No contest

What? You thought it was gonna be something from the comics? You don't come by often, do you?

OK, fine, fine.





And how about you? What worked for you this year?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Serious Question

Does the term "Creator" even apply to comic professionals that work (entirely or mostly) at Marvel and DC?

Consider this - many of these professionals do not, as a rule, create any new characters. Some don't even truly create new stories but rather make modern remixes or "Greatest Hits" collections of earlier, more remembered works (i.e. Batman's "Hush". The Brubaker run on Captain America). Those rare (and increasingly so as the years go on) instances in which a comic professional does create a new character or story, it is often to no greater reward or credit than if that person had not done so - making the impetus to do so in the first place negligble at best. Incredible Hercules or Blackest Night might have some great stories - but if they were ever adapted for a direct-to-DVD animated feature in five years would Pak and Van Lente or Johns get a fair compensation for their work being adapted by others? Unfortunately, I think we all know that wouldn't be the case under the current industry conditions.

So, I ask you this - if you don't control the creation, if you have no ownership of it, or if you simply just play in the toybox, never bringing anything new - are you actually a creator?

If not, what are you? Would the term "Copyright Maintenance Personnel" fit better? It would be a more accurate job description, at least.

Your thoughts, please.

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Open Letter to Disney


My name is Michael and I'm a lifelong consumer and enthusiast of the fine Marvel Entertainment products which you are adding to your media group. I feel that Disney is well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity to use the very best of Marvel and to bring it to wider recognition in multi-media projects. However, I also feel it is of vital importance that for Disney to capitalize on this new acquisition to help solidify Marvel's position in the comics market and to help establish Disney as a force of high-quality product in this medium. I believe the best way to do this would be to appoint Mr. Brad Bird as the new Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics.

This is not to disparage the fine work of the current EIC, one Mr. Joe Quesada or any of the current Marvel editorial staff. However, I feel that Mr. Bird brings with him experience not only in the superhero genre of which Marvel Comics is an integral part, but a longstanding familiarity with the needs and requirements of Disney. It is my opinion that Mr. Bird will usher in an even higher standard of quality and excellence in the Marvel Comics brand, allowing for Disney to maximize the return on their considerable investment.

It is my hope that in this new year you receive this letter and others like it from other enthusiasts and consumers of Marvel Comics product, and that your stewardship of the Marvel Comics brand leads you and the Disney group to continued success.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

Going back to bed - more tomorrow. Cheers and hope you had a happy Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Personally, I think Clark's just tired of Bruce always handing out copies of "The Dark Knight Returns" every Christmas, but that's just me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

You know what time it is!

Enjoy your Christmas, and if at all possible, go check this out, especially if you're a fan of board games.

Thanks to Mightygodking.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Although it's been linked a bunch of other places, I fully recommend Jess Nevins talk on turn-of-the-century anti-hero backlash (specifically the pulp heroes such as Doc Savage). What I found most interesting is how he explicitly states that comic book superhumans managed to avoid this fate by decoupling from relevant issues of the day and focusing on the fantastical. Now, there's a lot of pros and cons to that decoupling, but it is interesting to consider where that leaves big two comics - either completely divorced from reality or subject to fickle public fads. Neither extreme would be healthy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Here, let me save you some money

New Krypton, War of the Supermen, etc, in brief:

There, I saved you the cost of what? 8 TPBs?
All part of the service

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Typical Week in the Life of...Quasar

(NOTE: Apologies for the lack of variety in images - I had a hard time finding good Quasar images to use)
MONDAY: Explore Cosmos. Epoch warns me of something dire to the fate of the cosmos coming my way. Dad's asked me to dinner; he thinks I'll really like the zucchini parmasean. He's right, it's really good!
TUESDAY: Avengers Meeting. Cap wants detailed intelligence on Kree and Skrull fleet formation and I've got to pass on some deep space astrophysics data over to Reed Richards. Reunion dinner with some of my old Project Pegasus friends. Ben asks how I'm doing as we have to stop the Bi-Beast from attacking.
WEDNESDAY: I'd rather not discuss it.

THURSDAY: Avengers Mission. It's Kang. Afterwards some of the ladies ask me to come with them for a night on the town (well, mostly because they want someone to keep an eye out for any tricks Clint or Simon have prepared, but I don't mind). The girls always ask a lot of, uhm, probing questions, but they still aren't as bad as some of the bad jokes the guys make.

FRIDAY: Yeah, that cosmic menace Epoch warned about? It's here. Sorry, need to go take care of it. Cancel dinner with Dad.
SATURDAY: Murdered by an evil cosmic being. Dead.
SUNDAY: Resurrected by another cosmic being so I can defeat the one that killed me. Much better, thank you for asking.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brand New Day - Two Years Later

Today we'll quickly look over the last two years of Spider-Man under the editorially-mandated "Brand New Day" which saw Peter trade his marriage to the Devil and a whole new status quo, which is really just the early 1980s status quo. I'm just going focus on a few facets of the stories as they were presented and reactions.

-Jackpot: Holy Hell was this an epic clusterfuck. A "mystery" with no real clues, and a solution that left me going "Who cares?" rather than "Ok, that's cool".

-The Parker Luck: I think the writers are confused by this one - it's not that bad shit happens to Peter because bad shit happens to him or it's funny (I'm looking at you, Waid). The "Parker Luck" is an attempt at irony - bad things happen to Peter (late for a date, can't get his homework done) as a direct consequence of something GOOD he does as Spider-Man. It's a really easy way of relating to the character ("Well, Debbie thinks I'm a deadbeat, but I saved that busload of Nuns from being fried by Electro! The old Parker Luck strikes again, I suppose.") that I think the writers are grossly misusing.
-Flash Thompson: Either this is going to get retconned or made into an albatross by the writers. Neither of which is good.

-The New Villains: Look, I tried, and I honestly wanted to like these new guys, and a few of them even look like the creators put a lot of effort into them (i.e. Mr. Negative). The problem here is that because of the choppy nature of the format - with the writer relay going off every month - there's no momentum of the story to begin exploring the character of these villains as they show up, then go away, and then they show up in another arc a few months later and lather, rinse and repeat. Hell, in the worst case (again, Mr. Negative), their entire arc is shuffled out of the book and into some side miniseries? Fuck that noise - that kills any interest I have in learning about the character.
-The new supporting cast: See the villains.

-Aunt May and Jonah Senior: I'm not the first to say it, but it's really rather creepy that everyone else in the supporting cast is moving forward in their lives at a breakneck pace while Peter is perpetually stuck in time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the whole point of the "Marvel Age" when they first started was that they weren't going to become static unchanging and unrelatable cardboard cut-outs like the DC characters of the Silver Age? How times have changed.
-Old Villains, New Looks: Does this ever stick? The only villain I seem to recall that has managed to maintain any kind of "changing his look" from age to age is Lex Luthor (which I think says something about the robustness of Lex, but that's another story).
-The Gauntlet: And here we are, at last, the "big story" that is going to see Spider-Man face off against a mysterious mastermind who is amping up all his old badguys.
Oh, wait, that's "HUSH", the Jeph Loeb Batman story. Well, I can understand you wanting to go after something that was that commercially successful. Of course, the fact that the fanbase has become so jaded that you have to run a non-stop "Greatest Hits" album in order to keep them anywhere near the level you had before the retcon...well, that's not great news, is it?

Conclusions: Sorry, but yeah, Brand New Day? It's 1982, but with more unclear art, little narrative direction, and an inability to hook a reader on an endless loop. That's not good. And the fact that Marvel EIC Joe Quesada can't get that someone is going to come in and re-retcon it, or retcon it a different way, is both sad and funny.
Your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Tao of Wade

I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this, but what is up with the sudden burst of Deadpool love? I mean, ok, it's not like he's setting the world on fire saleswise, but three titles, a pretty big internet fan following, and plenty of high-profile guest spots (including the Wolverine movie) have made him into a big deal all of a sudden. So let's look at where it's coming from, and what it might mean, shall we?

Well, I guess the first answer is that Anti-heroes are always popular with Marvel fans, and Mr. Wilson certainly fits the bill there. After all, he's an amoral nutcase with more conditions than I feel like listing who maims, brutalizes, and butchers his way across the landscape. Hey, there's nothing like the catharisis of violence, especially if it's delivered with a certain flair and snappy dialogue, and there's plenty of that to be found in Deadpool. There's also the unleashing of the inner ID that is pretty much second nature to Deadpool; he says and does things that no person, and no superhero, Marvel or otherwise would consider, so there's the concept that he's the reader's voice being filtered through a veneer of pure madness.

Next we can look at the pathos as Deadpool tries (and fails, and then tries and fails again and again) to find some degree of peace, redemption and absolution for the terrible things he's done and maybe to even become a real hero. It's the Charlie Brown syndrome - he just keeps trying and screwing it up. In Deadpool's case, it's because while he says he wants to be hero, the terms on which he wants to do it are always very, well, unheroic to say the least. He says he wants to change, but time and again, his nature prevents him from doing so. There's something to be said for showing that change is rarely something we get on agreeable terms, and how easy it is to backslide into old bad habits.

However, I submit to you, my readers, that these are not the primary reasons for Deadpool's current popularity (such as it is). My own theory is this;
He's funny.
Now, that's not to say that there aren't any funny superheroes; that would just be wrong. But it is easy to say (as Tim O'Neil elgantly has)that most superhero comics are self-absorbed; forever focused on how important it is that the character is the way they are being depicted - what makes Superman so special, or what makes Bruce Wayne so special as Batman, or what makes Steve Rogers so special as Captain America or what makes Peter Parker so special now that he's single etc etc. And while it may be interesting, or even important, it's rarely funny or amusing. Deadpool as a character is static, so instead of focusing on how important it is that he remain this way forever and forever, the story focuses on his adventures being fun.
And I think that makes the difference. What say you?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Feared and Hated...Why Exactly?

It's a fairly common fan question, and one that is set pretty firmly in the grand tradition of the Marvel Universe:

Why are mutants so feared and hated but the Avengers and the Fantastic Four
get respect and celebrity status?

It's an understandable question really - what really separates one clan of spandex-clad "freaks" from another? But there is some underpinning behind the disparity; let's look at it.

The first thing to keep in mind is that in the context of the Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers are just barely tolerated for existing - and let's not forget that these groups include Reed "Smartest human in history" Richards, and Captain-I-punched-goddamn-Hitler-America, among various other rich philanthropists, world-renowned scientists, and other luminaries. Nevermind that both the FF and Avengers spend a great deal of time on Public Relations and philanthropy - whether it's Reed announcing some new scientific breakthrough, the Maria Stark Foundation doing some major charity donation, or a press conference where Captain America and Iron Man explain that Thor totalling that aircraft carrier was seriously the only way to stop Ultron, etc. In contrast, the X-Men show up, cause some damage, and leave without saying a word or leaving it up to SHIELD or someone else to explain their actions for them. Not the best way to win hearts and minds, to use the cliche.

What is unique about the fear of mutants is the level of uncertainty. I mean, yes, there's a chance that a given ordinary individual could get hit with gamma rays or accidentally end up in a cybernetic battle suit or encounter some mystical doohickey that turns you into a monster, but that's the exception. By contrast, being a mutant is a more common occurence, one that has nothing to do with any choices or any kind of human error - it's genetics. This is compounded by the "fear of replacement" (i.e. "our replacement as a species have arrived, and they are nearly godlike in their power") and the inconvienence that most mutant powers manifest during adolescence - not exactly a great time to be practicing impulse control. Just imagine the kind of havoc that would have been wreaked by your average school-shooting kid with the powers of say Colossus or Gambit. Not a pretty sight at all.

Now, all this said, it's rare that we see anything other than the monoculture of bigotry from the MU, and that's equally stupid and offensive. I can't imagine what the Transhumanist movement would be like there, but one could easily imagine it as more vital and with more than a few proponents in the mutant and superhuman communities. And here's an idea that will never, ever, EVER get an X-Men comic out on the shelves: imagine a test developed to detect the X-gene in utero, and then imagine the entire Abortion debate turned on its head.