I am on a huge Batman kick right now. It's actually what got me back into blogging. Everything Batman. Movies, games and of course comics. I visited my local shop and was pleasantly surprised to learn about a comic book sale. They had dropped prices for just about everything for "tax refund day." It was then and there I decided to jump back in to the stream. I bought as many "Batman: Rebirth" issues as I could afford. (Rebirth is the most up-to-date run of Batman for those of you that didn't know). So here I am delving into the newest Batman, I started with the hardcover binding of Batman 25-32 which is called "The War of Jokes and Riddles."
After seemingly cranking through it in less than a week. (After just finishing Hush I wanted to see nothing but Bat/Cat Romance), I was fairly pleased with the current run and was glad that I dropped $50 on all the remaining issues...and I'm glad I started a pull list.
It seems like Batman is in good hands, with the art looking fresh, crisp and on point. The stories capture the Batman tone, with a perfect blend of detective work, complex emotions tragedy and loony villainy. "The War of Jokes and Riddles" captured all of these (with one glaring flaw, more on that later).
Wow, just wow. With the return of Comic Book Boom, months in the making, it's a no brainer that the first thing I write about is the recent release of Infinity War, something ten years in the making. The film was excellent and hit on all the right notes. We laughed, we cried. The ending was tragic, but as all true comic book fans know, heroes don't stay dead for long. The fact that Spider-Man and The Black Panther will return in their sequels tells us that the end of Infinity War is not the end all be all. It's appropriate that the remaining heroes who stayed alive are the ones that originally started it all (plus contracts are expiring).
The Avengers: Resurrection (title prediction) will feature a swan song of our classic Phase 1 heroes in a final battle to restore humanity. So while the ending of Infinity War was tragic to watch (Peter Parker made my heart ache) we know that the true tragedy is yet to come. Don't take my word for it, read the latest Time article, which posted my EXACT thoughts and published them, before i could even draw up a draft.
So we generally know how Avengers 4 is gonna shake out. No doubt there will be a few unexpected twists but everyone expects to see the latest roster of heroes restored.
But what about after Avengers 4?
Here's what should happen in the next generation of Marvel movies.
Alas, it's been a year...one year since this project, this labor of love has posted something. It really saddens me that I let this site expire. At one point I had 800 site visitors a week and my very first subscriber (yeah I'm bragging). 800 readers is nothing to turn your nose at and I’m proud to have hit that number. Through a series of events I just couldn't find the time for this project. Work grew tough and toxic, I gained weight and lost focus on the things I cared about. Sure I would read a comic here or there but I just didn't have TIME.
A year later I'm in a different place. I lost 40 lbs. and quit that job that was sucking the soul out of me. I went back to school to study stuff that interested me. And now I'm a freelancer, looking towards a summer where I'm in control of my destiny.
You might say “well what does this have to do with comics?” The point I'm trying to make is that I’ve decided to take control of one more thing in my life and that's this blog. I'm going to bring it back to life, much like our superheroes who have had multiple resurrections and reboots. Dunk this baby in the Lazurus pit and let's get ready to roll!
To the followers, I'm sorry I have forsaken you. I'm sorry you've had to come back and see the same old post gathering digital dust on this same old site. I ask that you give me another chance to win your trust. Maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic but the thing I learned about blogging and content sharing is that winning readers is HARD. The fact that I had gotten to nearly a thousand readers is astonishing. It’s a shame I let this reboot take so long.
Damian Wayne brings back Alfred....you guys are my Damian Wayne
Let me reel it back in…
1. I'm sorry I fell off the grid.
2. I hope that it does not happen again.
3. The 90s x-Men Comics were atrocious but they bounced back and people gave them a second chance, I hope you’ll do the same.
New things are on the horizon and I am excited to share them with you. Giveaways with no strings attached, cool exclusive products and your same old Joe-Smo blogger trying to win your hearts.
I vow to produce more posts on a weekly basis. I'm going to write in advance. I vow to interact more. To all those Indie Comics that have approached me for reviews...I'm gonna make it up to you.
All this said and done...I need one thing from you dear reader...and that's a second chance. I ask that you simply join me and read my posts and share with others. I know every Youtuber and blogger says the same thing, but this is me asking you…the reader to bring this thing back to life. Because every time you share, RT and comment...it makes this fun and worth it. I couldn't do this without you and I'm sorry I let this feeling slip away.
Will you help me bring this thing back to life?
Too often when I’m writing my reviews I find myself wanting to talk about The MacGuffin. At times, when I read these indie comics I want to point out the writer’s MacGuffin or lack of one. Then I realize that most people would have no idea what I’m talking about. So I decided to devote an article to the MacGuffin so that in future, I can link back to this article and save me the time of explaining this key writers concept.
It’s extremely important that aspiring comic book writers understand this concept. It’s also important to point out that there are varying definitions of the MacGuffin. So I’ll begin with my simple interpretation:
The MacGuffin is the plot device that the protagonist pursues; it’s an object that drives the story. It takes the form of an object, a person, place or sometimes a concept.
My favorite example is the Lost Ark in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Often it is the secret plans that the spy must acquire. It’s the missing jewels the PI must find. It’s the person responsible for the murder. It’s the zombie virus cure, the Maltese Falcon, the Holy Grail and the Infinity Stones. The MacGuffin could be conceptual, such as Superman’s desire for truth, justice and the American Way. According to many, including Alfred Hitchcock, it’s the linchpin of any mystery, detective or suspense story.
Speaking of Alfred Hitchcock, he was the key advocate of the term. Some say he coined it but according to him, one of his screen writers, Angus McPhail is responsible to for the phrase. When asked “what is a MacGuffin?” Hitchcock would share this now famous story (0:38):
George R.R. Martin has put Game of Thrones in a position for success no matter how the show ends.
By now you’ve likely seen the teaser videos for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. And if you’re one of those sheeple that clamor to click on those annoying articles entitled “New Game of Thrones Photos Released!” (whoop-de-do), then no doubt you’re pumped for the upcoming season. George R.R. Martin took one look at the Westeros Chess Board and decided to nuke it (as he so often does). By now you know that no character is off limits, everyone is fair game and anyone can die (except Jon Snow apparently).
Because anyone can die at any moment, Martin has propped himself up for success. Ned Stark dies and the world loses their minds. The Red Wedding occurs, people are devastated. Ten more people die, and death loses its sting a little. Finally at the end of last season, people were both shocked at the outcome but ultimately were not surprised. “Classic Martin, killing tons of key characters.”
Even now this very question strikes a chord. Amidst the multitude of negative (and accurate reviews) of Netflix’s Iron Fist, one thing we forgot to consider was the affect that the garbage that is Danny Rand will have on The Defenders. That’s right, let’s not forget that scrawny Wonderbread Danny Rand is going to share the screen with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Matt Murdock. It’s a very real possibility that Danny will be the poison pill that ruins what would’ve been a fantastic Netflix series.
First let me take a minute to address those who are in favor of Finn Jones/Danny Rand. You are absolutely in denial. It’s bad…it’s so bad. I made it to Episode 11 and I just called it quits. I found Danny to be infuriating and annoying. He didn’t resemble a hero at all and was a poor reflection of Iron Fist. He was whiny, unfocused and lacked charisma. The stories dragged on and the fight scenes pale in comparison to Daredevil. Lewis Tan should’ve been the Iron Fist. A vocal few are trying to defend this show for reasons unknown. It’s ok to hate a Marvel show, you’re not scaring away investors, and there will be plenty of more Marvel shows to come.
So how will this affect The Defenders?
As the end credits finished rolling, and the screen went to black without a post-credit clip to show for it, my sister looked at me and asked, “Well, what did you think?” I paused, trying to form my words. All I could muster up was “I dunno,” and “I’m pretty tired.” It was 1 AM and I had worked that day. I honestly couldn’t form an opinion, which is bad for the blogging business. Then, after a long night’s sleep and with a clear head, I realized why I was hesitant to say anything.
I'll say it...Logan wasn’t great, but I so desperately wanted it to be. I wrote an earlier post raving about the Logan trailer and how its gritty tale and awesome, unique premise had the potential to finally do the character justice. Hugh Jackman, I think we all agree, perfectly portrays one of the best characters Marvel has to offer. So it only makes sense that you’d want the movie to be a final swan song success. In every movie, the portrayal of Wolverine has been perfect, the story around him — not so much. I think the standalone films have some merit but ultimately crumble at crucial moments (*cough* Deadpool).
The problem I have with this Wolverine standalone is not necessarily the story, but rather the telling of the story. Here’s what I mean. I found the premise of X-23 and the evil testing facility to be great McGuffins (story devices that act as the reason for the story). The setup is fascinating, Charles is suffering from Alzheimer’s, Logan was a storied hero who has removed himself from the public eye. X-Men has disappeared and an evil agency is cloning/developing mutants for war. Great setup right?
Here’s where things go wrong.
There comes along a piece of work that is so smart, so sound that it truly deserves more praise than it gets. Yes, Young Justice is popular (I only liked Season 1). And yes, Batman: The Animated Series holds a place in all our hearts (it gave us Harley Quinn for crying out loud!). But this past week I chanced upon what I consider the greatest superhero show of all time, both live action and animated. My choice may shock and anger some of you, and others will nod in agreement.
The greatest superhero show of all time is…
Awhile back, when I was just out of college, I started to clear out my room. I trashed a lot of stuff and sorted stuff for sale on LetGo, the nicer version of Craigslist. Now, I would never part with my precious comic collection, but I did have a large box of duplicates. (Also GI Joe and Transformers didn’t make the cut, come @ me). To my amazement, the first responses I got on the app were for my comics.
Fast forward and I’m in a parking lot parked across from an Orange Honda filled to the brim with comics. The guy had come with cash, but brought possible trades in order to offset the cost. 45 minutes later I had traded roughly 100 comics for…you guessed it…100 comics. In hindsight, the guy got away with a steal (more on that later). What were the comics? A near complete run of X-Men Comics from about the 1990 to the mid-90s.
As I started to read, I was amazed with how far Marvel comics have come. I began reading issue #261 March 1990. I won’t bog you down with the details because I was lost myself. I landed right in the middle of a saga where the X-Men were dead but now coming back to life. Logan had a kid partner called Jubilee, Storm was a child and the team was scattered, with one team having a floating fortress over Manhattan.
From what I’m seeing online, the consensus is that the 90s X-Men were really bad. This was a time when Marvel sought to profit from their multitude of titles and the “Comics Bubble” was starting to form. So as a result, dozens of X-men characters were being crammed into the universe and then divvied up amongst titles. Marvel would go bankrupt in 1996 and I was told that the stuff they were putting out just before then was garbage. I think part of the garbage was the complex interwoven storylines that were super confusing.
I muddled through “regrouping phase” and into a “pitted against a prejudicial foreign nation exterminating mutants” saga. All the while I was frustrated with the fragmented storytelling and confusing references to fostering storylines. It was a time where if you didn’t buy all 3 to 5 different X-Men titles per month, you were screwed. There were just so many damn storylines I couldn’t take it. I enjoyed a random saga where the X-Men are in space resolving some galactic conflict where Professor X is being mind-controlled. Was there any groundwork for this story…no.
So now I’m two years into this run, and I assumed I would be caught up. Yet there are still villains popping up out of nowhere occasionally and other bizarre fixtures. I’ve read 30+ issues and out of nowhere appears a demented omnipotent being who challenges bad guys to torture mutants. What the fuck is going on here? The writers act if I know who this being is, and that I should know where there baddies are coming from, and why they're playing this evil game. No answers.
The worse part of this whole run is the terrible writing… It was as if every writer wanted to surpass Alan Moore. Except, instead of spinning an interesting tale, I was trying to power through pages and pages of crappy dramatic narrations. It’s seriously fascinating how much they crammed into one story. In X-Men #305, it was a double sized issue with page upon pages of dramatic Magneto monologues. That paired with the messy, confusing groundwork (“Where did THIS guy come from?!”) made this run a difficult read.
…and the art. The art was ok at best, and a mess at worse. The artist, probably crunched with deadlines, would constantly draw “light scattering backgrounds” without any real regard for setting. No time to ink out a city backdrop? Just fill the page with laser beams! This tactic was used often. Almost zero use of quality inkers. No depth was created nor cool imagery. It was the complete opposite of The Killing Joke or Watchmen. If anyone was supposed to copy those guys it was the Marvel artists, not the writers.
So Orange Honda guy duped me and got away with a steal. He got a bunch of Spider-man: Brand New Day and Invincible Iron Man issues. In terms of trade value, he probably doubled his dollar amount while I’m left with what I thought would’ve been a nice fun run of comics. The introduction of Bishop is the only bright spot of this whole run (Mr. Orange secretly withheld Issue #282, Bishop’s debut, from the trade…asshole).
So what am I trying to say? Well, I spent the last few months chipping away at this stack of comics because I felt like I need to read these at least once. Do your research folks, if you see a long run of your favorite comic heroes, make sure to check the Net and see if it’s worth your while. Also, I’m so fucking tired of Forge. Seriously, he is the worst.
Hopefully, I can move onto another better run of comics. If you got any recommendations, comment below.
Till next time!
***The following is a Public Service Announcement***
This post is near and dear to me. There is a growing problem that is stopping comic fandom from expanding.
First let me backtrack with a little anecdote:
One day I entered a comic book shop, a holy place where supposedly our kind was allowed to gather. I had entered only to be greeted by the steely gaze of the cashier (and owner!). I immediately felt unwelcomed. Undeterred, I walked around and flipped through the dollar comics. Soon, another guy entered and it was clear he was a regular. He was welcomed and given his reserved comics (aka The Pull List for those who are new). The Regular and The Owner began talking about Fantastic Four and 20th Century Fox. At this point I was by the register so I causally chipped in my point of view. I immediately saw a shift in attitude. Suddenly the owner treated me with respect because I was able to form an educated opinion. With my nerdy knowledge, I proved that I was one of them and was suddenly welcomed into the discussion.
And that’s the problem.
I see it all the time. People are turned away from comics because they think it’s reserved for a nerdy subculture. Potential readers are turned off because they aren’t up to speed or in the know. How many times have you heard a person say, “I think Batman is cool…but I just don’t know where to start.” This is why the Big 2 are constantly rebooting. And sometime, people experience that same judgmental look that I did, quietly set down their comic and leave the store.
For some reason, some comic fans act like they’re in this special club. I have no idea where this comes from. Maybe they’re anti-social and don’t want others apart of their passion. Maybe, they’re afraid of ridicule (who cares?). If you have any inkling as to why, please comment below.
If we treat potential new readers like “outsiders,” then the industry, in all of its glory, will wither away. So, I kindly ask that you treat any person as a potential lover of comics. People shrug them off, but I know for a fact that if they come across that perfect story or well-designed cover tailored to them, they’ll be hooked. All it takes is one glance from a curious onlooker, uninhibited by some store owner’s judgmental gaze.
I don’t intend to typecast some comic readers. Many I know are very welcoming. This is just a simple PSA telling some to not be so quick to judge. Do not roll your eyes when someone says Superman is their favorite Marvel Character. Do not scold someone for saying they’re a fan, even if they only watch the movies. If someone asks about comics, don’t write them off, introduce and enthrall them. You’ll be helping the comics cause and you’ll have made a new comic-loving friend.
Don’t be that snooty store owner.
***This has been a Public Service Announcement***