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T&A In Comics: A Rant January 22, 2012

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Rants, Sexuality.
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Children, look at this image of X-person Psylocke:


Fig. 1: Chiropractors in the comic book world must be insanely rich.

Jesus H. Tebowing Christ from Vulcan. This is an image taken from Generation Hope #15. The woman with her tits and ass in such an absurd, spine-breaking position is supposedly X-person Psylocke. THIS is why we need more women artists and writers. I guarantee that you’d NEVER see Wolverine or Cyclops drawn wearing butt-floss and arching their posteriors like that. You’d NEVER see Spider-Man drawn thrusting his throbbing package in your face (well, you won’t see that in the mainstream comics–I can’t speak for what you’ll find in the form of fan art)*.
*warning: link is NSFW

As others have pointed out, if mainstream comics drew male superheroes the way female superheroes are drawn, fans (largely fanboys) would lose their shit. CNN would likely do at least one report on the sexualization of comic book heroes. Ever noticed how Batman, Superman, Thor, Spider-Man, etc., etc., are always fully-clothed? Ever noticed how most male superhero costumes are functional in some way? Granted, they are designed to be skin-tight and accentuate the exaggerated musculature, but never will you ever see an exaggeration of their crotch. Never. You will also never see a male superhero designed so that he is bare-chested, unless he’s Tarzan or Conan.

Folks, male comic book artists need to come into the 20th century and get it right. Even more so, the major companies (Marvel and DC) need to get it right. It might have been cute at one point to draw women that way, but holy mother of Spock, come on.

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First Look: Henry Cavill as Superman August 4, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Movies, Popular Culture.
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Are you ready for some awesomeness? Of course you are!

(Image: www.joblo.com)
Fig. 1: Yes!!

I’d write more, but I’m busy having a nerdgasm.

Ok, I can write more now. What I find interesting about this suit is—if it is indeed the suit we’ll see on-screen—that it borrows from an older interpretation of the “S” shield. I like the metallic/leathery look of the suit; it retains the familiar elements of the uniform (thank Spock that they didn’t follow the color palette of the “Superman Returns” uniform), while adding some touches that make it look distinctly “alien.” It will be fascinating to see more shots of Cavill in the suit—if I have any nitpicks (and honestly, what kind of nerd would I be if I didn’t), it’s in the form of a question. Where’s Superman’s trademark spit curl?

Superman Isn’t Shakespeare (A Rebuttal to io9) July 18, 2011

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As you all know (or should know by now), I am a huge Superman fan. This should seem obvious as I’ve written about Superman or mentioned him no fewer than four times on this blog—so if you’re not a Superman fan, you should probably skip this blog entry. Anyway, over on io9, there’s this hackneyed attempt at comparing Superman…to Shakespeare. Apparently, Dan Venning isn’t a fan of either, or something. I don’t really know, because I skimmed as much of this tripe as I could tolerate. Here’s the very first paragraph:

I have to confess, I’ve never really liked Superman. I find DC Comics’ flagship enterprise to be, ultimately, boring. Some of you will probably feel (and this is correct) that I just haven’t read enough of the series, or found the proper arcs. But my main problem is that Superman, himself, seems too perfect: he’s profoundly moral, a pure do-gooder, and utterly invincible.

Are you kidding me? First, Venning says that he “never really liked Superman”—fair enough; Supes isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But then to say that he hasn’t read enough of the comics to even really justify his argument? That is absolute nonsense. It fairly screams, “I’m hip because I just totally shat on a fictional character that a lot of people love. Aren’t I hip?” I won’t even get into the non sequitur of comparing Superman to Shakespeare in the Park.

If that’s not douchetastic enough, he goes on to say what is chief problem is with Superman: he’s just too good and “utterly invincible.” That is usually the argument proffered by people who are familiar with the general existence of Superman and have probably only watched the 1978 movie, but then feel it their duty to denounce Superman as though they are experts on the character. I’m going to enumerate what’s wrong with Venning’s moronic assertions:

1. What the hell is wrong with a fictional character being good?
Seriously, when did we get to the point that our heroes all have to be like Batman or Wolverine? I swear, when I meet fanboys who sniff at Superman as though it’s personally offensive that a superhero would act altruistically, it makes me think these are just sociopaths who want a fictional character to justify their own anti-social stupidity.

2. Superman is a symbol of our own aspirations towards a better humanity
As many comic writers have explained—most notably in Action Comics #775, Superman repeatedly uses his powers to inspire humanity, not to rule over them. He fights for the weak and defenseless in order to inspire humanity to fight for the downtrodden. And what could be wrong with that? Oh, right; if you’re a fan of grimdark bullshit, you’ll find that “corny” or “cheesy.”

3. Superman is not invincible.
Geez. This Venning sounds like the hordes of idiots who have gotten their grubby, unimaginative mitts on Superman and have thought (or worse, said in interviews), “Gee, Superman’s too powerful. I’ll ignore his vulnerability to kryptonite, magic, or the dozen or so stronger villains in the DC Universe and have him go on a fucking year-long walk across America! Nevermind that Superman hasn’t had the power to move planets in, oh, decades; I’ll just have him cry or be mopey about something.”

Venning’s screed has another gem:

The one time I’ve been even slightly interested in Superman was near the end of Kill Bill (Part II), when Bill himself, played by the late, great (and kind of kinky, apparently) David “Caine” Carradine, expounded on the comic. What Bill –- here, clearly speaking for Quentin Tarantino -– finds interesting about Superman is the hero’s implicit critique of humanity. Superman is the real guy: it’s Clark Kent that’s the costume. And Clark Kent is foolish, fearful, indecisive, and a silly glasses-wearing intellectual. Kind of like me. And that’s how Superman sees humanity.

Personally, I’m much more interested in darker comics that portray frayed heroes who struggle to avoid being overwhelmed by the evil that they themselves fight. Until its recent bizarre space-alien arcs, I’d gotten a kick out of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable because it asks the question we all wanted to know about Superman: what the hell would we do if he went crazy, or decided to kill us all? This is the real problem with any immense power, whether it be an authoritarian government or spandex-wearing alien with a perfect jawline.

The wrong and the stupid in the above paragraphs is vast. Superman does NOT see humanity as “foolish, fearful, and indecisive.” Clearly, this fool hasn’t read a Superman comic…ever. Since 1986 and John Byrne’s awesome “Man of Steel,” Superman has been the disguise and Clark Kent has been the “real” person. If there’s a critique of humankind to be found in Superman, it’s here:

Superman sees humanity as possessing the capacity for good, the ability to solve their own problems. That is not a critique that presents humanity as foolish, or stupid. Perhaps Venning should ask himself why people wear shirts bearing the “S” shield or why Superman is easily one of the most recognized fictional characters in the world. Failing that, Venning should, I dunno, actually read more than two Superman comics in order to get a sense of just who Superman is. Also, if you’re getting your understanding of Superman fourth hand from a Quentin Tarantino movie, you really should reconsider the validity of your argument. Last I checked, Tarantino hasn’t written any Superman comics or movies (and for that, we should breathe a collective sigh of relief).

The whole point of Superman is that he is bright, optimistic, and good. Simply compare his origin story with that of, say, Batman’s.

Compare this:

to this:

Batman’s origin is clearly based in fear and trauma. Now, Superman’s origin is no less traumatic—after all, he’s the sole survivor of his entire planet and race. However, he doesn’t let that trauma define him, while Batman is completely defined by his trauma.

Venning completely misses the point. The point is that Superman has all this power, this vast, earth-shaking power. What does he do? He chooses to do the right thing. He chooses to use his powers to help humankind. He chooses to do all these things without reward. He doesn’t demand anything in return from the person he rescues from a fire or from humanity when he thwarts another of Brainiac’s schemes. Up until very recently, Superman didn’t mope or wonder why he was doing what he was doing—he simply did it. In sum, it’s the clarity of Superman’s moral vision that makes him an appealing character. Take a look at the world around us: would we be in the economic mess that we’re in if investment bankers, loan officers and everyday people had thought about the consequences of their actions. Look at News Corp and how the publishers of The News of the World ran roughshod over people’s privacy. Look at the venal politicians we have in Washington and tell me that we couldn’t use a hero who, instead of being grimdark or mopey, is bright, optimistic and good.

Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Green Lantern” June 18, 2011

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Verdict: A minimally passable superhero movie with far too many plot holes.

Clearly, Hollywood is banking on the success of superhero movies in order to sustain box office receipts during the summer blockbuster season. This summer alone, we’ve had three superhero movies with at least one more on the way. So, now we have “Green Lantern.” What is there to say about this movie?

Well, it is not as bad as some reviewers have made it out to be. However, it is not as good as I had hoped it would be. The story is fairly simple: wiseass Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) receives a ring from a dying member of an intergalactic police corps and must overcome his own self-doubt (and fear) in order to save the Earth from a powerful threat. Actually, he must save the Earth from two threats–Parallax and Hector Hammond. As with most superhero movies, the chief concern for the comic book fan is how closely the movie hews to the source material. This movie borrows largely from Geoff Johns’s revival of Green Lantern in “Green Lantern: Rebirth.” It was Johns’s narrative that introduced the villain Parallax (and, in that story, served as the rationale behind Hal Jordan’s prior bad acts…it’s a long, long story). It should also serve as little surprise that Johns also was a co-producer. Marc Guggenheim, who has some experience with the genre, was one of a handful of writers.

As a DC Comics partisan, I went in to this movie hoping that it would be suitably epic—after all, all the elements of a space epic are there: a relatively ordinary person receives a call to extraordinary adventure and is thrust into events that are far outside his/her normal experience. However, despite the epic possibilities, the movie seems rather…flat. Reynolds’s portrayal of Hal Jordan has the requisite charm. The story attempts to afford Reynolds some “character development” in that he (spoiler alert!) overcomes his fear in order to fight Parallax and its pseudo-henchman Hector Hammond. The viewer is also supposed to believe that Jordan is in a romance with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), but the romance as we see it on the screen appears fairly juvenile.

Of course, I didn’t go to this movie looking for a well-crafted romance. I went to see action…and we got that. Any superhero movie must have the Big Save—the scene wherein the hero is revealed to the world. Green Lantern’s revelation to the world seems oddly anticlimactic. It’s played almost as an afterthought. Even the climactic battle with Parallax seems, well, not to overuse the word, but it seems fairly flat. Perhaps it’s because Parallax doesn’t feel like a credible villain. I would put Parallax on par with the movie version of Galactus in the Fantastic Four. I don’t understand the recent trend of turning galactic villains into amorphous clouds (Galactus, Parallax, Darkseid). There is a maxim in superhero movies: the movie is only as good as its villain. How good can a superhero movie be if the main villain is a giant tornadic cloud of evil? To try to combat that, the writers (of which there were many) felt it necessary to make Hector Hammond a minion of Parallax (which he isn’t in the comic books). The problem there is that there are now two too many villains.

I mentioned plot holes. Here’s one. After the third time that Hal decides to quit being a Green Lantern (not once do the GL Corps come and get their ring), he decides to go all the way to Oa…to tell the Guardians that he’s going to fight Parallax. That’s it. He just shows up and gives this ridiculously boring speech about how humans are worth saving. Well, allllllrighty then.

Here’s another one. When Hal first gets the ring, he’s whisked off to Oa for training. He’s there for what seems to be like an hour or two, gets his ass kicked by Kilowog and Sinestro (who, sadly, gets very little character development), is told that he and the human race suck ass, and then comes back to Earth, having quit the Corps (but he’s allowed to keep the ring?). Nevertheless, after Carol and the forgettable sidekick/best friend tell Hal to get his head out of his ass and save the world, he acts like he’s a fully trained Jedi Knight. What the frak?

Frankly, if you don’t go see this in the theater, you’re not missing anything. It might be a good idea to wait for this to come out on DVD (it’ll probably look far better on Blu-Ray at home than in a theater). They tried to make an epic sci-fi superhero movie, the ingredients were mostly there, but sadly, “Green Lantern” missed the mark.

Perhaps the sequel will get it right.

Nerdrageous! June 14, 2011

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The images surrounding DC Comics reboot/revamp of their comics lines have all been released. Children, the nerd rage over the past couple of days has not been pretty. But then again, neither have the revised versions of Superman:

Fig. 1: Who is this? Hipster Superman? (h/t to Rima)

Fig. 2? Is this Superman? Why does he have kneepads and crazy boots?

Children, I have no idea what DC Comics is doing. Sadly, I don’t think they have any idea either. They’re claiming that these redesigns and revamps isn’t a rebooting of the DC Universe. However, as the rumors are flying fast and furious, it is, for all intents and purposes, a reboot. Concerning Superman, here are two more troubling rumors:

1. Superman might be shacking up with Wonder Woman.

I cannot begin to count the FAIL in this. Now, I’ll be a good fanboy and eat my words with broccoli should they find a way to do this and not make this suck harder than when Marvel magically erased Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage, but as of now, if that rumor is true…wow. The next worst thing is to let David E. Kelley start writing Superman.

2. There will be no Kents. Superman will be a government agent (of sorts).

Frankly, that’s like changing the Jesus myth so that he’s no longer born of a virgin, but is instead an agent of Pontius Pilate. No Kents? Now, I know that DC has been in a battle with the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and that in 2013, some of the rights to Superman will revert to them. I know that DC is trying to find ways to hold on to as much of Superman as they can—this really saddens me. For all of Superman’s history—73 years and counting—Superman has been a stranger from a distant world, raised from childhood by a kindly couple and instilled with the values that would eventually make him the world’s greatest superhero. And for most of those 73 years, that kindly couple was Jonathan and Martha Kent. These people are at the core of who Superman is—I think John Byrne (whack job though he is) got it right in 1986 when he was tasked with revamping Superman. He emphasized the “man” over the “Super” and used the Kents as that touchstone of humanity. Losing that, you have an alien who may look like us, but isn’t at all connected to us. And why would that person even care about saving humanity?

Up until now, I’d been pretty optimistic about this relaunch. Frankly, there needed to be some good old-fashioned housecleaning. Superman’s origins had gotten too muddied, thanks to idiots like Dan Didio, Jeph Loeb and Joe Casey who had such a hard-on for the Silver Age, they kept allowing dumb shit that was best left in the 50s and 60s back into the comics. The revolving door of writers in the early 2000s left the Superman comics an incoherent mess. Even when there was a story arc in which Superman seemed to be getting some solid storytelling, the writers would be lured away from DC and we’d be back to square one. I won’t even touch the inconsistent artwork. You’d think that Superman was some third-tier superhero that people worked on just to get some experience, not DC’s flagship character.

Ah, well. Life is change, so I and all the other Superman fanboys and girls will get over it and move on with our lives. That’s the thing about myths; they change—sometimes drastically—but, if they’re rooted deeply enough, they endure.

DC Comics Decides to Reboot Everything…Again. June 4, 2011

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Well, children, it looks like DC Comics has decided to change everything. Again. Recently, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee said they had a bombshell announcement that would change the course of DC Comics. They also said that the announcement would come down on June 11, at the Hero Complex Film Festival. Well, the Internet being what it is, fanboys and girls were all atwitter with expectation. Would this be an announcement regarding the new Superman movie? Would this be an announcement concerning the Wonder Woman movie, which has been in development hell since forever?

Nope.

Starting this summer, the publisher will re-number its entire DC Universe of titles, revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.

The first book to be released under this new era: Justice League No. 1, out Aug. 31. The series by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee reunites the famous lineup of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

Johns promises a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC’s trademark superteam. “What’s the human aspect behind all these costumes? That’s what I wanted to explore,” he says.

In September, an additional 51 first issues will make their debut, introducing stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the costumes’ redesign to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.

(source: USAToday)

Fig. 1: Costume redesigns will totally make you buy new comics!

Of course, the announcement along with the first picture of what the core characters of this redesigned DC Universe will look like has set the Internet commentariat ablaze. As we all know, fanboys hate change. Every fanboy with a computer and a high-speed Internet connection has weighed in on this:

1. This is doomed to fail—remember what happened when Marvel did this?
A few years back, Marvel comics decided to kinda-sorta reboot their core characters…by killing them and then bringing them back for a “new generation.” It was universally loathed. Incidentally, Jim Lee had a hand in that clusterfuck as well.

2. This is going to screw up the longest running comic books! (to wit, Detective Comics, Action, and Superman)
Just last month, Action Comics hit a milestone when Action Comics #900 hit the stands. Assuming no interruptions, in about twelve years, Action Comics would be the first comic book to hit its 1,000th issue. With this reboot, every comic goes back to #1. Make no mistake: for fanboys, this is a very distressing prospect. Renumbering comic books for those of us who are avid/rabid collectors has something of a psychological impact. But I’ll discuss that later.

3. Change is bad!
Fanboys tend to loathe changes in their favorite comic books. If you change the costume or the origin story in any way, expect a firestorm of angry Internet chatter. Mind you, a number of superheroes have had their costumes change over time and have had their origin stories change, but fanboys tend to accept those historical changes as part of the evolving mythos of the character. Should sweeping changes occur currently, it is not an evolution of the character, but a betrayal.

Now, for the record, I am approaching this reboot/revamp cautiously. I am a fan of the John Byrne-era Superman (1986-2003ish) and DC universe. The stories were more interesting, stripped of unnecessary artifice, and the art was spectacular…and consistent. DC during this period had a fairly stable roster of artists and writers who turned out some awesome Superman stories. Unfortunately, the last ten or so years have seen the dilution of Superman via multiple competing origin stories, inconsistent artwork and tepid storylines. If this revamp gets Superman back to being Superman, and not some whiny, constantly grieving/crying/moping imbecile, then revamp away!

Oh, and before I forget, let me address comic book numbering. Like I said, collecting comics is something more than just a hobby for some. And we—I include myself here—find some sort of psychological satisfaction when a favorite comic reaches a milestone. For example, I posted about buying Action Comics #900—usually, those milestone issues are “special issues.” They can be the culmination of a storyline or the launching point for a whole new direction. I remember when Action Comics #500 came out. I was eight years old and getting my hands on this issue was a number one priority. Of course, back in the 70s and early 80s, comic books weren’t quite the serious affair that they’ve become. Even still, a milestone issue was a milestone issue. And, after hundreds of issues, I think that the comic book becomes part of a person’s life—in a sense, you become invested in the character, and the comic in which that character appears. A reboot in which years of previous continuity is erased might be traumatizing for some comic book fans.

But, as they say, everything changes. Including Superman.

Superman Returns…And So Do I April 26, 2011

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Fig. 1: FINALLY!

Children, it’s been quite a while since I’ve set foot in a comic book shop. A few months ago, I decided that I was spending too much money on comic books and the return on the investment was diminishing. I wasn’t enjoying many of the storylines I was reading—such as my aforementioned rant about the horrible “Grounded” storyline in Superman—and I realized that I had better things to spend my money on. However, tomorrow DC Comics will release Action Comics #900. First of all, I have to buy it just because it’s Action Comics #900. Second, although Action Comics hasn’t been as execrable as Superman has, it still has had an overly long storyline focusing on Lex Luthor and his quest for ultimate power and has been completely devoid of Superman himself; I am going to be glad to see Superman back where he belongs. Third, the culmination of this storyline promises to be epic.

I haven’t been this excited about Comic Book Wednesday in a very, very long time.

AWESOME. April 2, 2011

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Fig. 1: WHARGLEBLE! FAPRETICKE! NEMTRIPSITEK!

Children, the first footage from the upcoming Green Lantern movie hit Wondercon this weekend and OMGQWERTYAWESOMEPOIURE!!!111!! I cannot post a coherent thought, so powerful is this geeky AWESOMENESS.

Guess where I’m going to be on June 17th?

Wonder Woman? I Think Not. March 28, 2011

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Gaze upon this trainwreck and tell me that David E. Kelley’s impending abomination won’t suck ten kinds of ass:

Fig. 1: Cheap-looking, and tacky.

Children, even Adrianne Palicki looks like she can’t believe she’s in this get-up. What’s wrong with this outfit? Let’s count:

1. It’s too damned shiny.
This looks like the televisual equivalent of JJ Abrams’ overuse of lens flares in Star Trek (2009). Could you imagine Wondy running around in broad daylight in this thing? Why, the reflections off of this getup would cause blindness in a five block radius.

2. It looks cheap.
As other bloggers have noted, this looks like a generic Superhero Halloween outfit, woman version. The supposed “gold” parts of the uniform don’t look at all like actual gold. Rather, they look like cheap plastic—of course, it is cheap plastic, but it shouldn’t look like cheap plastic. Even the bracelets look like cheap plastic.

3. That tiara is awful…actually, all of it is awful.
Seriously. Now, it seems that the producers and costume designers are following the recent “redesign” of Wonder Woman’s uniform in the comic books. It certainly looks a lot like it, but that tiara is supposed to be a bit more…pronounced. The bracelets look like craptacular. The bustier is just plain tragic.

Children, it looks like this televised Wonder Woman will be nowhere near the awesome cheesiness of the 1970s show. I was already skeptical when I read about David Kelley’s take on this superhero icon. The Ally McBeal-ish quirks and this pathetic costume redesign do not bode well. Oh, and it’s going to be on NBC, the network that brought you “Heroes” and “The Event.”

Your Daily Dose of Awesomeness February 18, 2011

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Fig. 1. Well, hello, Thor!

Children, you all know that I am a DC Comics partisan. I know the DC Universe inside and out, backwards and forwards. I consider DC Comics to be the Olympian Gods, while I consider Marvel to be…well, soapy. And I don’t mean that in a complimentary way. This opinion has, generally, extended to these comics companies’ respective movie franchises. While I’ll go see a “Spider-Man” movie, it’s usually out of a perfunctory fanboyishness that I do so rather than out of a deep devotion; in other words, I can go see “Iron Man” once and be happy. If it’s a Superman movie, count on me going to see it enough times to make the people at the movie theater know me on a first name basis.

I think Thor might change that. Seriously. That trailer is twenty kinds of awesome—and no, I’m not saying that just because there are two shots of Chris Hemsworth in all of his shirtless, muscular glory…although that’s part of it. Who are you to judge me? Anyway, it looks like a Big, Loud, Fun Summer Movie. The kind of summer superhero movie that a certain movie of five years ago should have been.

Fig. 2: Dammit, for the last time, Superman Returns’s suckitude wasn’t my fault!

Anyway, this is the first time I’ve ever said this, but I cannot wait for a Marvel comics movie to come out.