Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pat Broderick back at DC

From Bleeding Cool comes this news that warms my Bronze Age heart: Pat Broderick is returning to DC. What the project is hasn't been announced, but hopefully it will be something that suits his art. I've been a fan of his art style since I first encountered it in the pages of What-If 19.

What I liked about this comic was that at the time, in other titles, Spider-man was being drawn with a more standard superhero build, losing his original teenage lankiness, Broderick drew him with a angular, agile frame. In many ways, Broderick's style harkened back to the original feel that Steve Ditko had on the comic. Check out this fight scene between celebrity Peter Parker and his Judo instructors in What-If 19.

 While Broderick got to work on a number of Marvel titles, including one of my favorites, The Micronauts, where he really got to shine was at DC when he worked on Firestorm.

 He was also responsible for helping relaunch Captain Atom

Probably his most famous work at DC was his time on the Legion of Super-heroes where he and fellow ex-Marvel artist Keith Giffen helped usher in the Great Darkness Saga:

 One of my favorites from this time period was his work on the non-Superhero comic: The Lords of the Ultra-Realm.

 Also, while at DC he co-created the Creature Commandos...

...I've always liked the idea of this group, and you would probably have guessed that if you've seen the Flashback Universe comic: The League of Monsters  In many ways, Pierre's art often reminds me of Broderick's style. Check out the faces on the cover of our Saturn Knight comic. Amanita's face in particular has a very Broderick angularity to it.

While it's probably too much to hope for, wouldn't a Creatures Commandos movie seem like a no lose proposition in this era of super-heroic blockbusters? I wonder if Broderick is going to be working on a new Creature Commandos limited series? Whatever it is, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

- Jim

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Daredevil, Civil War and Wonder Woman's Origin

Here's a catch all post on some of the news that came out last week about comics in movies and television and what I think about the news.

First up: The Netflix Daredevil show was previewed at NYCC. Judging by what some of the people who saw the preview are saying, most came away saying they liked what they saw. Unfortunately, the rest of us outside of NYCC only get this image of the new Daredevil costume:

Which sort of reminds me of the Daredevil costume from The Trial of the Incredible Hulk television movie.

And while this costume probably won't please some people, if I've learned anything from Arrow, it's that the costume does not make the show. I was originally turned off by the boring ninja looking costume used on Arrow, so much so that I completely passed on checking the show out during the first season. It wasn't until StevieB and my Father-In-Law recommended the show to me that I watched a few episodes and discovered how good it was.

Also, Ben Affleck's costume in the Daredevil movie was quite true to the comics version and that movie was pretty bad.

Next up comes the news that Captain America 3 (and Avengers 3?) may follow the Civil War storyline.

On paper, this sounds like a no lose scenario. Civil War was perhaps Marvel's most successful event comic of all time and many Marvel movie fans seem to ask for anytime Marvel movies get discussed anywhere. (A bit like how that one drunk guy constantly yells Play Crazy Train at Black Sabbath reunion concerts.)

Here's the thing - the whole premise of Civil War was the superhero registration act which would require heroes to reveal their secret identities to the government. One of the bigger story points in Civil War was the revealing of Spider-man's identity.

So, how would that work in the MCU where no hero actually has a secret identity? I suppose they can find some other reason to divide along party lines, but without the motivation of keeping secret their identities, I'm not sure the us/them plot works as well. (And let's not kid ourselves - the original Civil War storyline was a bit contrived as it was.)

Finally, Blstr has a quote from one of the producers on the Batman v Superman movie about Wonder Woman's background in the movie:

"She's a demigod. Her father was Zeus."

Why this may be significant is that up until now, there was speculation that Wonder Woman (and all Amazons) were going to be descendents of a lost colony of Kryptonians. That they may be going with a more traditional origin with greek gods also suggests something about the world Superman and Batman exist in.

Then again, Zeus could have been a Kryptonian and the term demigod could be getting used liberally here.

Ultimately, I don't think Mom and Pop America  care about her origin. It was never a major concern of the television appearances or the DC animated features. By and large, I think most non-comic book people just see her as sort of a generic female action hero.

Which is how we get stuff like this:

Just like Thor, Wonder Woman _exists_ and that's all most people need to really know to enjoy a Summer Blockbuster.

- Jim

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Secret Wars without The X-men or Fantastic Four?

From Bleeding Cool: Marvel Announces a Secret Wars event for 2015. Written by current Avengers scribe Jonathan Hickman, the series will run for 12 issues.

I believe anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis probably saw this coming. It was only a matter of time before the constant need for new events was eventually resulted in revisiting the Secret Wars brand.

What's most interesting about this event is if you examine the cover, you don't see a single X-men or member of the Fantastic Four.

Most people are chalking this up to the unspoken edict against promoting the characters which are licensed to Fox movie studios. Others are saying the event is Avengers-centric, so showing the X-men or Fantastic Four wouldn't make sense.

Considering that the verbiage about the event sounds like a marketing pitch to a toy company, it's a bit hard to believe that the exclusion of the X-men is solely for storytelling reasons. Check out how the event is announced in USA Today:

Marvel announced Thursday night at New York Comic Con that the new company-wide Secret Wars comic — written by Avengers scribe Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic — will not only affect the entire publishing side when it debuts in the spring but boasts a story that crosses over to digital platforms, introduces new consumer products from various licensees and will work in a synergistic fashion across the Marvel brand.

While I can't say for sure what the motivation is for excluding the X-men, doesn't it  sound a bit rediculous to have such an event, tie it in with consumer products (ie: Toys) and NOT include Wolverine? (How will ever get a new Wolverine figure with his Secret Shield?)

- Jim

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Monkey Talk Episode 1 - Thoughts on Future's End and Original Sin

I mentioned something special last week and here it is - my debut appearance on the Monkey Talk Podcast! In the video below, you'll see me, StevieB and Trex from Nerds Of The Apocalypse and Jeff (the owner of Punk Monkey Comics) as we discuss DC's Future's End Event Month and Marvel's Original Sin.

For many of you, this is probably going to be your first time actually seeing what I really look like, and with that said, I want you to kindly remember this is my first appearance on a podcast, so my performance is a bit green here. :)

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know my opinion of Original Sin. However, I haven't said much about DC's Future's End here on the FBU, so you might be interested in my thoughts on that. Of particular note, if you want to cut to the chase, skip to the 1:10:21 mark on the video to see what I had to say about the Grayson Future's End issue.

Of the issues that came out during the Future's End month, it's not only the best, it's possibly the best self contained comic to come out this year!  I'm not alone in recognizing this issue is something special. I strongly encourage you to check it out.


- Jim

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Fantastic Four vs Dick Tracy

Over at Vulture, Miles Teller, one of the stars of the new Fantastic Four movie is quoted as saying:

 All those actors were a lot older, their characters were in different places. The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — X-Men: First Class is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of Dick Tracy, kitschy, overly comic-book world.

Referencing Dick Tracy? Is that the plan? To somehow use the (debatable) diminished reputation of a comic strip (not even a comic book) movie from 1990 to justify the rather unorthodox approach the Fantastic Four movie seems to be taking?

And he says, people don't want a kitschy, overly comic-book world?  Was he in a coma all August?
To me, Teller's statement sounds like the sort of thing he heard from someone else. Given that he was only 3 when the Dick Tracy movie came out, I doubt he has firm memories of how it was received at the time. I would more likely point towards Fox executives as the original source of the comment as they may be using similar statements to deflect questions about their creative decisions. 

I'm starting to think Fox realizes they have a bit of a train wreck on their hands and they are getting worried. Remember, the Fantastic Four movie is coming out in June 2015. The production has been finished since August. So where are the teaser trailer or promo images for the movie? A google image search reveals only one image and it's a leaked piece of post production.

Well, the moment of truth is coming up soon. When the Super Bowl airs in America, it will be up to Fox to have a teaser or trailer ready by then. If they don't, it's going to look very bad. I would go so far as to say if we don't see a trailer during the Super Bowl, that Fox may be considering scrapping the project altogether.

Stay tuned for further developments. :)

- Jim

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Five Things About Gotham

Sorry about missing Thursday's post - I started a new job which has me commuting for the first week for training and my days got squeezed for time. To make up for it, I may have a surprise for this week (depending on how things go...) -- Anyway, Gotham premiered last week and here's what I thought about it (spoilers btw)

1. Ben McKenzie seems well suited for the role of earnest, honest James Gordon.  For the most part, I found his acting and the actions of the character pretty believable. I'm less sold on the role he's been tasked to play as the trope of good cop versus corrupt system is a hard sell to me. For the most part, that role worked okay here. There was one scene when he was chasing a suspect (Mario Pepper) across a rooftop, shouts stop or I'll shoot and then let's the suspect just sort of getaway without firing (not even a warning shot.) That struck me as, I don't know...a bit more Hollywood cop than Gotham cop.

2. Despite my reservations with the honest cop trope, I like the new cop/old cop dynamics between Gordon and the older, corrupted by circumstances, Harvey Bullock. This looks like a relationship that can give birth to a lot of plot twists and character development. In many ways, I find Donal Logue, the actor playing Bullock more interesting than Gordon.

3. The quick introductions of characters worked about as well as it could I guess. In some cases, like the Edward Nigma/Riddler scene, if felt almost like a parody of how such character introductions are handled...

...others, like Pepper Ivy (who will one day become Poison Ivy) worked a little better.

Carmen Bicondova's Selina Kyle didn't do much for me one way or the other, mostly because she was less a real character and more of a walking prop during the pilot. She spent a lot of time climbing on things and watching stuff. Hm...and feeding cats, just to clue you in to who she is.

Still, like I say, it's a pilot, so a certain amount of info dumping is to be expected. I'm suspect future episodes will flesh out her character in a very YA sensible manner.

4. I really liked Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot. I had heard that pre-screenings of the pilot had picked Taylor as the breakout actor of the series, and it's easy to see why in the pilot.

Any time he's on the screen, he's mesmerizing. He's a frantic bundle of twitches and ticks that puts tension into every scene he's in. Again, there was that one scene with him that struck me as a bit over the top (the final scene with the fisherman) but everything else with him was great.

5. Seems like a lot of people were put off by the the characterization of Alfred in this pilot. I'll grant you, it was a bit more aggressive/cynical than what we comic fans might be used to. During the scene where Gordon is telling young Bruce Wayne that his parents killer has not been found, Alfred comes across as hostile, but there may be some internal logic to that characterization, so we will see how it plays out. And to be honest, in some ways it's a bit more realistic vis a vis the situation than how Gordon acts at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the show and am looking forward to future episodes.

What did you thing?

- Jim

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What is the True Origin of The Gorn?

In the Star Trek: TOS episode Arena, the reptilian aliens known as the Gorn are introduced:

Like many fans of the show, this episode enthralled me as a kid. With his fearsome appearance and lumbering approach, the Gorn fit in perfectly with those other infamous monsters from my childhood: The Mummy and The Frankenstein Monster.

In my twenties, the stiff artificial look and the improbable nature of a space-faring lizard beast struck me as cheesy. Teenage years have a way of robbing you of your ability to enjoy guilty pleasures. I seem to recall having similar conversations with fans of the 1966 Batman television show.

Fortunately, later in life, I made my peace with such things and now appreciate the show as a nice bit of action/adventure science fiction television - regardless of the low-budget costumes and dated special effects.  (And I'd argue that the Gorn costume is actually one of the more evocative looking designs from TOS.)

While a fan favorite, the Gorn don't make a lot of reappearances in Trek. There is a brief nod to them in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode The Time Trap:

And in the In A Mirror Darkly episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise series in 2005:

And they've made a numerous appearances in parodies of Star Trek, the most recent being a commercial for the new Star Trek video game.

In reading about the Gorn, I was able to find some interesting bits about the costume on the In Memory Alpha Gorn page, but I couldn't find anything about the writers creation of the character. I have a feeling that the character is inspired by the Ming's Lizard-Men from Flash Gordon, but I wasn't able to find anything to substantiate that.

 While their physical resemblances are remote at best, the name Gorn is basically Gordon with a few missing letters. And the Arena episode itself, with its desert environment resembles the desert looking Mars from the old Flash Gordon serials:

But the similarities in environment is probably due to more to easy access to the desert locations near Hollywood than anything else. (Quite a few Star Trek episodes take place in such barren regions.)

It's also possible that the Gorn is a call back to another green, fearsomely fanged alien older than Flash Gordon's Lizard-men - Tars Tarkas of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels:

Check out this version of the green martian on the Dell comic from 1952.

While the design is similar, it's not really a smoking gun. The problem is, Lizard Men, whether they were from space or lost lands, were sort of a staple of early pulp fiction:

So, it's entirely possible that the Gorn were a call back to just a classic looking creature.

Of late, there have been more modern revamps of the Gorn (like this one from the Star Trek video game)

 I suppose this is a way to make them more ferocious, but I remain a fan of the more anthropomorphic look.

What do you think? Is the Gorn too cheesy to exist in the current Star Trek movie mythos?

- Jim


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