Showing 1 - 10 of 234 posts found matching keyword: comic books
Friend Chad recently asked me if I had any interest in the upcoming Joker movie. You know the one. It just won the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. My answer, in short, was no. In long, it was *hell* no.
As a longtime reader of comics, I have a well-established mental image of what I expect from Batman and his rogues gallery. As a general rule, I don't enjoy films about gangsters (which Joker was in the 40s) or films about serial killers (which Joker has been since the 80s). I've seen both Bonnie and Clyde and Natural Born Killers exactly once, and that's each one time too many.
My biggest problem with the film is that the Joker is unequivocally a villain. Pure capital-E Evil. However, a story's protagonist has to be relatable to its audience. Just as the short-lived Joker comic series of the mid-70s focused on its eponymous star's zany antics (and minimized the collateral damage), to put the character at the center of a film it becomes necessary to humanize him, to turn him from villain to anti-hero. No, thank you.
Call me a prude, but I don't see any reason to make a film exploring how someone becomes a narcissistic, mass-murdering sociopath on the scale of the Joker. In fiction, the Joker has beaten a child to death with a crowbar, slaughtered an entire talk show audience on camera, and gassed the United Nations General Assembly. All for giggles. If such a monster existed in the real world — an Osama bin Laden-squared — would you pay to see that person's biography on the big screen?
Joker works best in comics as a larger-than-life malevolent force of nature, the personification of the chaos that Batman strives to eliminate from the world. That's exactly how "Why so serious" Heath Ledger played him (and "This town needs an enema" Jack Nicholson before that). If you insist on reinventing the character, I'd say making him mortal is the wrong direction to go. Forget realism for a character that is inherently unreal. Give us a film about how Cesar Romero's wacky Joker earned his place as Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime with a painted-over mustache (the anti-Groucho Marx!). Or choose to elaborate on any random Joker entry from silly The Super Dictionary.
But don't try to remake Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy with a super-villain behind the greasepaint. Once was enough for that one, too.
The Super Dictionary has a well-deserved reputation for, shall we say, unusual definitions of words, but the above is not really a page in the Super Dictionary. It's a poster by artist Marco D'Alfonso currently for sale on m7781.storeenvy.com.
I still have my original Super Dictionary on the shelf right in front of me, and I'm sure that its actual definition for "happy" is much less warped.
Never mind. Super Dictionary, you win again!
From "The Tower of Prey", The House of Mystery #203, (1972), art by Nelson Redondo:
The bomb, wind, bullet, and airplane-proof building at the center of the story appears to be based on the then in-development World Trade Center. The angry woman who blames the greedy developer who "stole" her property has much in common with the landowners who sued the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey over their ability to use eminent domain to seize land from reluctant landlords. Lawsuits lead to the Supreme Court.
You probably know who won in real life. In the comic, it's the landlady's raven-claw curse that carries the day. What a happy ending!
I don't mean to tell the King of the Sea his business, but he's doing it wrong.
Aquaman #1 (Jan-Feb 1962)
Yes, I am willing to accept the premise that Aquaman and Aqualad have been magically reduced to three inches in height by a water sprite (named Quisp!) in an attempt to save them from rampaging Inner Earth fire trolls.
And every DC fan knows that Atlanteans can only survive out of the water — salty or otherwise — for one hour, so obviously they need to get into this Army Jeep's radiator to stay alive. (Antifreeze poisoning? Never heard of it.)
Yet I just can't get past the fact that Aquaman doesn't know how to open a radiator cap.
My suspension of disbelief only goes so far.
Want to know why I love Superman? Read this:
Action Comics #322, March 1965
Unless you are steeped in Superman mythology, this panel probably doesn't make any sense to you. Don't worry, that makes you a perfectly normal human being.
Comic-book knowledge is a special kind of knowledge gained only after hours / months / years of immersion in stories about a self-contained universe with its own, unique set of rules. These rules are rarely logical though they are generally consistent. There's no connection between flying fast and traveling back in time, but it works for Superman every time.
Better yet, this knowledge is a badge shared only between the initiated. Once you understand how Superman hides his "Clark Kent clothes" while wearing his primary-colored union suit*, you enter a club of other enthusiasts. Understanding Superman is its own secret handshake!
*He super compresses them with his super strength and hides them in a special pocket in his cape. Congratulations, now you're a member, too!
Not everyone loves Superman month, especially not that fickle Lois Lane.
(By the way, in case you were unaware, Tom Peyer is the writer and editor-in-chief of Ahoy Comics, and has been making some great comics lately. I whole-heartedly recommend The Wrong Earth to anyone who enjoyed Adam West's Batman.)
Anyone reading this is likely familiar with the fact that although the character his creators called Superman has been published continually for 81 years, it hasn't always been the same Superman. The vigilante social justice warrior of the 1930s bears little resemblance to the omnipotent policeman seen in comics today.
In reality, those changes over time have often been dictated by publishing trends and a series of lawsuits by Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, about just what rights they had given DC Comics to profit from their intellectual property. But in comics, those eras have always had hard boundaries, each contained in its own dimension, or "alternate Earth." Until now.
Last month, DC published a story explaining that all of those alternate realities are really the same one, each the natural universe's response to a god-like creature, Doctor Manhattan, changing some of the seemingly random, fundamental forces that drove the creation of each environment. In other words, all those Supermen are aspects of the same being, all of them owned by DC Comics, who finally prevailed against Siegel and Shuster's heirs earlier this decade.
The irony in this situation is that Doctor Manhattan's behind-the-scenes history is just as complicated as Superman's. Manhattan was created in the 1980s by Alan Moore under a contract stipulating he would gain ownership rights of his characters should Manhattan's original appearance ever go out of print for a single year, a condition DC has studiously avoided for three decades and counting.
So Superman's contentious publishing history is being justified through the use of a character with an equally contentious history by a publisher with a contentious history. Forget truth and justice; bald-faced greed is the American Way.
Today marks the start of the 13th annual Wriphe.com Superman Month!
Is this the year I finally make it to the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois? Probably not. It's next weekend, and I already have other plans.
Their guests of honor will include original Supergirl, Helen Slater, and Erica Durance, Smallville's Lois Lane. Their lists of guest artists, however, leaves something to be desired compared to past years. I guess they do have to save something for next year.
Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Greater Metropolis Convention & Visitors Bureau website to see what else there might be to do in town between autograph sessions underneath the Superman Statue. Metropolis isn't a big town, and the Visitors Bureau only lists 15 total "sights and attractions." Of course the big draw is the Harrah's Casino (which I haven't visited) and the Super Museum & Gift Shop (which I have and highly recommend). They also have a bowling alley, gym, state park, and microbrewery. I guess the town isn't big enough to support a full sized brewery.
Their most unusual non-Superman offering might be the Mermet Springs "full service dive site" inside an abandoned stone quarry that includes "the jet airplane from the movie U.S. Marshals." That short sells what they offer, as the Mermet Springs website lists 2 additional planes and 10 other man made objects to swim around. Not counting Jimmy Olsen.
Perhaps I might have enjoyed the Aquaman movie if it had been more grounded in reality like the comic books.
from "Aquaman Duels the Animal-Master!" Adventure Comics #261 (1959)
(In the following issue, he also has control of seagulls. First fish, then mammals, then birds. I'm sure that hydrocephalic babies are next. Logically, that's called a slippery slope argument. Aquaman probably controls that, too.)
I saw exactly two movies in theaters in April. To no one's great surprise, they were
Marvel Comics got to call their movie Captain Marvel despite their character not taking that name until the mid-2000s, whereas DC's Captain Marvel movie was called Shazam! despite their character having been called Captain Marvel *until* the mid-2000s. Comics are strange.
Both films prove the old adage that a hero is only as good as their villain. Marvel's Captain Marvel twists itself in a very unfortunate knot to give her two whole races of badass yet sympathetic aliens to punch. Sadly, the twist doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's far better than the personality-free baddie that DC's Captain Marvel is pitted against. He just wants to fight things, which is fine if all you want from your movie is watching computer generated scenery crumble. Yawn.
Despite that, I can't say that one movie is really better than the other. Captain Marvel is aimed at a more mature crowd and I did enjoy it more, but I suspect kids will enjoy what they've been given in Shazam!. Everyone has to watch their first superhero movie eventually, and Shazam! would be a fine enough place to start. It's not amazing, but it is comparable to the super hero films I had access to as a kid. Condorman is no Casablanca, but I remain a fan.