Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Book Reviews: Canadians, Americans, and Asgardians

Alpha Flight #3 - Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak & Dale Eaglesham
When Marvel announced that Alpha Flight was getting a new 8 (9 counting the 0.1 issue) issue mini-series, nobody was happier than me.  I have a complete run of every volume of Alpha Flight, including annuals and mini-series, even the godawful volume 3.  I love Alpha Flight.

Therefore, it makes me kind of sad that the new series isn't really grabbing me.  It is head and shoulders better than the last series, don't get me wrong.  But it just feels like a retread of the past, even though it features the classic team, which really has very few appearances together as a unit.  Alpha Flight in conflict with Department H and the Canadian government used to happen on a regular basis in the first volume.  It was the entire basis of the second volume.  It's been done.  A lot.

I'm also not digging the personality re-write for Marrina.  I realize that the creators wanted someone to create conflict, but Marinna was the sweetest being you'd ever meet, and I always liked that hopeful optimism she brought to the team.  If an in-story event lead to this new portrayal I'd be fine with it, but instead the past is being ignored.  I would rather they used another Plodex character in this role than simply ignoring Marinna's previous personality.

On the plus side, the book is gorgeous, and some of the smaller details are fun.  Aurora battling Jeanne Marie at superspeed was a nice touch, and the banter between Sasquatch and Shaman is great.  And Puck is back, which makes everything right with the world.

Marvel has announced that Alpha is becoming an on-going and will be a part of a new Commonwealth of Heroes...now that is a new concept that I am very much anticipating.  I'm willing to give the creative team some time to grow into the book so I hope you can do the same.

Captain America Corps #3 - Roger Stern & Phillipe Briones
This book is old-school Marvel fun, no surprise considering the legend himself, Mr. Roger Stern, is the one writing this tale.  I almost skipped this book at first; I didn't even know it was coming out, the guys at my shop put it aside for me because they thought I'd like it.  In the end I thought the concept was fun, and Stern was writing it, so I gave it a try.

Absolutely loving it.

As I said, the concept is just plain fun.  Seeing Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, John Walker, and Shannon Carter running around together slingin' shields is a real treat (and the new guy, Commander A, is starting to grow on me).  They are fighting a team called the Ammericommand, which at first I though was kinda hokey but hey, this is a team of out-of-time patriots out to save the multiverse, I'm just going to enjoy the ride.

The art is very well done and the colouring is crisp.  I really have no complaints about this mini-series at all.  On the extra bonus side, Stern uses thought balloons!  I can't remember the last time I saw thought balloons!

You cannot go wrong picking this up!

The Mighty Thor #4 - Matt Fraction & Oliver Coipel
When Thor was relaunched in The Mighty Thor, I almost skipped picking up the title, and I have a full run of Thor starting with volume 2, so I didn't consider this lightly.  However, the art of Olive Coipel convinced me to stick around.

So far the art is the only reason I'm sticking around.

Sure, the idea of Galactus at war with Asgard is fun, I'll give Fraction that.  But the execution really isn't grabbing me, in particular the dialogue.  I had a post a couple of days ago featuring my re-write of the dialogue in #5, and it's no better in #4.

My beef with the dialogue is the lack of consistency.  On one page it feels like Fraction is trying to capture the somewhat grander speech patterns JMS brought to the book; he did away with the thee's & thou's but Thor still spoke with a grandeur and authority that made it clear he was a god not to be trifled with.  But then on the next, Thor is speaking like any regular joe; if you had to take a shot every time Thor tells someone to "Shut up" in the past 4 issues you'd be wasted out of your mind.

I will give Fraction credit, his first arc on Mighty Thor is far better than his first arc in the pages of Thor, but I am still on the fence on continuing to get this book once the current arc is finished.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Superheroes in Television

I think part of the problem with the transition of superheroes to the small screen is the creators spend too much time focusing on the super powers and not enough time on the characters.  Any good series is driven by strong characters and their relationships with each other, not on the spandex.

I still think this suit looks
better than Aqua-Superman
in the upcoming film.
I really think that the show that really got this right was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  As a kid I watched it because it had Superman in it.  Now when I watch it on DVD, I'm watching for the relationship between the two title characters.  It is important to note the title; Superman gets third-billing, how often does that happen?  Pretty much never.

My wife, who has no interest in superheroes whatsoever (after watching Spider-Man 3 with me she didn't know who I was talking about when I referenced Venom, though in her defense I rewatched the movie and they never do call him that on-screen), loves Lois & Clark.  While we were dating long distance she and her best friend would borrow the seasons from me and they would devour them inside a week.  They wanted to see the love story, they didn't really care about Superman.

I keep hearing about new television series being developed by Marvel and DC; I've read about the Hulk, Mockingbird, and Cloak & Dagger from Marvel and Wonder Woman from DC.  I don't think any of those properties (especially from the synopsis' I've read) really fit the small screen very well.  Here, in no particular order, are the properties I think would translate well to television and how I would do them. The titles are just for fun though!

Daredevil
In my mind Daredevil is a slam dunk of a television show.  Rather than focus the majority of the show on Daredevil, shine the spotlight on Matt Murdock and his legal practice.  There are a ton of legal dramas on television, just add a swashbuckling vigilante into the mix.  I think Matt's blindness would also be able to give the show a different spin than your average show.  The best part about this series is you can easily work in guest stars from the Marvel Universe.  The Punisher could be a recurring character who Matt has worked with as Daredevil in the streets and defended (or prosecuted!) by attorney Matt Murdock in the courtroom. Work in Luke Cage as a bounty hunter or as Matt's personal security.  Jennifer Walters as a rival attorney.  So many characters could be worked in, but again, keep the focus on the characters, not on their superhero exploits.

X-Men
As much as I hate to admit it, putting the X-Men back into a high school setting (cliche, I know) would work extremely well.  X-Men Evolution did a great job with this concept; I resisted the idea at first, but after watching the show they developed a unique look at the X-Men's history and relationships that was very well done.  I would probably put the X-Men into a regular high school, so you can explore the prejudice and persecution angles, but also of acceptance.  I'm not even sure what line-up I'd use since almost any one I can come up with would make for a good show.

Justice League of America
I don't actually know what I'd call the series (Super Buddies, Formerly Known as the Justice League?), since using the Justice League name leads people to believe Superman, Batman and company are the stars.  No, I would base this show around the Giffen/DeMatteis/Macquire premise, as a comedy.  Guy Gardner, Sue Dibny, Elongated Man, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice and Maxwell Lord.  The characters aren't over-powered (the problem with including J'onn J'onnz), but the potential is there for a lot of laughs.  I would do the series in the same vein as the Tick live action series, which was hilarious.

SHIELD
Counter-terrorism shows are popular these days, so unleash Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Maria Hill and the other members of SHIELD.  Some weeks you can work in organizations like Hydra or AIM, others you can just use original creations.  No superpowers required.  My only requirement is we don't get a Samuel L. Jackson Fury...I like my Fury with greying temples and chomping on a cigar, thank you very much.

Power Pack
Why Disney hasn't put this into production for ABC Family, I do not know.  As much as I'd love to see Pixar's take on the Pack, it would be too similar to the Incredibles.  Therefore, give the Powers kids a live action series instead, the younger viewers will have a ball!


Damage Control
Rather than focus on super-powered beings fighting, how about focusing on cleaning up the mess afterwards?  For some reason I imagine this series being done in a similar tone to that of the Office, which is funny considering I rarely watch that show.  I think it would work.

I could keep going, but I'll stop there for now.  What shows would you like to see?

Monday, 29 August 2011

Perhaps DC's Greatest Crime

While I haven't really discussed it here, I have never made it a secret that I dislike DC's reboot/relaunch/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.  I feel they are going to make things very confusing with keeping certain character's histories intact while starting other characters out almost from scratch.  I also think that most of the costume redesigns look like they belong in the 90's.  However, neither of those is the change that bothers me the most.

Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl.

The key points of Barbara's past are that she is the daughter of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (though I don't think he is the Commissioner anymore, at least before the reboot).  She was one of Batman's sidekicks, along with Robin, before the Joker shot her (as Barbara Gordon, unaware of her identity as Batgirl) and caused severe spinal cord damage.  With her ability to walk taken away from her, Barbara reinvented herself as Oracle, an amazing computer hacker and information hub for not only Batman, but to a large number of heroes including the Justice League.

As Batgirl, Barbara belonged to a fairly large club at DC, that of the sidekicks.  Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Speedy...DC is big on sidekicks and legacy characters.  She also belonged to the female off-shoot of a male character club; Aquagirl, Supergirl, Jesse Quick, Jade, and so forth. 

As Oracle, she belonged to a far more exclusive club; that of disabled or disadvantaged superheroes.  Right off the top of my head I think of Daredevil (blind), Jericho (mute), Niles Caulder and Charles Xavier (parapalegic)...and then it gets a lot harder.  If I really stretch myself I am reminded of Silhouette of the New Warriors (parapalegic, able to get around with arm braces).  And yes, there are more heroes I can add to the list if I thought about it really hard or whipped out Google, but I think I will come to the same conclusion. 

What sets Barbara apart from these characters is she got her start as an able-bodied superhero before becoming paralyzed.  With the possible exception of Charles Xavier, I would argue that no disabled character has had such a large impact on their universe as Barbara.

From her wheelchair Barbara made a difference. A huge one.  She was no longer the one out there preventing muggings and saving the world, but she held a pivotal role supporting those who did.  She saved a lot more lives from her chair than wearing her cape.

And now DC is undoing her disability and putting her back in tights.  Barbara, as Oracle, was an inspiration, and not just to those with a simlar affliction.  She showed that having a handicap does not need to hold someone back from achieving great things in their life.  Barbara's way of contributing to society, as a superhero, was taken away, but she found a way to continue to help people even more effectively than before!

As I write this post I am reminded of Rick Hansen, the Man in Motion.  In support of spinal cord research, Rick did a lap around the entire world in 1985-87...in a wheelchair.  He visited 34 countries and traveled, via wheelchair, over 40, 000 kilometers (or 25, 000 miles for you Americans out there).  Would Rick have had the same impact upon the world if he was still able-bodied?  Maybe, but I tend to doubt it.

Now I am certainly not equating the fictional exploits of Barbara Gordon with the real-world accomplishments of Rick Hansen, but my point is that a disabled character is not only inspirational to those similarly afflicted, but to those who are able-bodied as well.  A character like Barbara also teaches acceptance and inclusion of those who are different.

Barbara's past as Batgirl is important because it adds a layer to the character that would not exist if she had always been in a wheelchair.  But to take that away to make her another generic Batman off-shoot is simply criminal.  Oracle is a special, unique, and wonderful character; Batgirl is just another face in the sidekick crowd.
 
From http://www.bleedingcool.com/
Here are a few more great articles and interviews on the subject.

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/oracle-is-stronger-than-batgirl-110606.html
http://www.newsarama.com/comics/gail-simone-dicusses-batgirl-and-oracle-110609.html

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Mighty Thor #5...Reworded

I've been picking up The Mighty Thor strictly because of Oliver Coipel's pencils. Somehow the dialogue gets worse each issue and I can hardly stand it anymore. At times Thor uses big words like "bloviating" and other times he calls people a "pain in the ass" (Fear Itself #5). It's maddening!

Here is my attempt at re-doing the dialogue, old school Marvel style (with dialogue added after the penciler has done his work based on the plot).  Assume the text fills in the existing word balloons, I won't add dialogue for the panels without dialogue. I'm going to do my best to emulate the dialogue of Thor from the JMS/Kieron period, but I'm by no means a professional so be kind!



PANEL 2

Silver Surfer: I did not seek this combat, Thor Odinson, but I will finish it if you continue to force my hand.



PANEL 1

Thor: While Asgard remains in peril I cannot yield.

PANEL 2

Silver Surfer: That energy...never have I felt its kind before. How did you become so afflicted?

PANEL 3

Thor: It matters not. It burns with the fire of Muspel, the brilliance of Elfheim, and the arctic bite of the Jotun cold, yet for the sake of all all the Nine Worlds it will not lay me low! FOR ASGARD!!

PANEL 4

Silver Surfer: I--

PANEL 5

Thor: It pains me to strike one I would call ally so, Surfer, but your master must be stopped, no matter the cost!



PANEL 2

Silver Surfer: Then the cost must be your very lifeblood, Odinson.

PANEL 3

Thor: That sound-

PANEL 4

Silver Surfer: I implore you once more Thor, lay down your arms.

PANEL 5

Thor: Never!

Silver Surfer: So be it!

Sif (off-panel): Boys!

PANEL 6

Sif: Look to the stars.



PANEL 1

Odin: Begone, scourge of worlds...

PANEL 2

Galactus: Little godling...

PANEL 3

Odin: Graggh! You have forced my hand devourer...

PANEL 5

Odin: ...thus let us battle on equal footing!



I could probably polish it up some yet, but I still think it's better than the dialogue we've been getting. Which is sad, really, for a character getting a big push in the theatres over the next year.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Fanboy That Broke The Camel's Back

Yesterday Bleeding Cool posted a story about penciller Brett Booth's reaction to a reader critiquing the finer points of Green Arrows archery form on a cover for the new DC Relaunch.  Long story short, Mr. Booth was not amused.  The full story can be found at http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/08/25/brett-booth-is-our-hero/.
I do think that Brett Booth could have responded a little more tactfully, but my guess is this comment was the one that broke the proverbial camels back.  People think they can say whatever they want on the internet and they are discussing things, not work done by people.  Comics fans are particularly vicious with their commentary.

The internet has opened up lines of communication between comics creators and fans that most people take for granted.  Not very long ago creators could only be accessed through letters page and at comic conventions, and that was it.  Now we can interact with them on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and message services like Formspring.  I worry that if comic readers keep taking the creators interactions for granted, creators will cease to make the effort.

One of the best
comic series of all time.
I remember while in high school I somehow obtained John Ostrander's e-mail address.  At the time he was working on his Martian Manhunter book, which I intend to do at least one or more blog posts about because it is some of the best work I've ever read; John is to the Manhunter as Walt Simonson is to Thor.  Anyway, we had a back and forth conversation over a few e-mails that was one of the highlights of my comics reading career.  Not because I criticized or gushed, but because we had a pleasant conversation.  I wish I still had his e-mails but unfortunately that account was lost and I lost all the messages within.  A true gentleman is John Ostrander.

The Big 2 & 1/2
I often read people bashing Tom Brevoort for being curt on his Formspring account, but based on the way so many fanboys come out swinging with negative comments I can't really say I blame him.  I've interacted with Tom on several occassions through his old blog while he was doing a comic trading project (the goal was to take 5 random comics and trade up until he got a Fantastic Four #1, then auction off all the books he had to benefit the Hero Initiative).  I found him very pleasant and friendly to deal with.  One trade, where I was going to get several issues of the Champions, fell through because the books never made it to Tom.  He offered me something else instead, which I took reluctantly and told him I was really looking forward to reading the Champions books because I had always wanted to check them out.  Tom then offered to include a copy volume 1 of the Champions trade paperback that he had on his shelf, though he certainly did not have to do so.  In another trade, where I got the full run of Secret Invasion, I made a comment about getting Bendis to sign them before he sent them if he was kicking around (I was joking but thought it couldn't hurt).  When the books showed up, Bendis hadn't signed them, but since he was the editor on the series, Tom signed them himself.  Does it bump up the value?  Not really.  Was it cool that he did so?  Absolutely.

Comics creators are people, and I think it's important that the fans remember that when interacting with them, especially online.  I don't need someone coming to my office to nitpick every little thing I do, and I think that anyone reading this wouldn't appreciate that either, so why do we have the right to do so to those crafting the stories we enjoy?  The fact is we don't.  We can criticize, yes, but I feel that criticism should be constructive and delivered without malice.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Young Justice

I recently discovered that the new Young Justice cartoon can be viewed on Youtube; when it first came out I'm assuming the copyright gestapo where out in force because I couldn't find it.  I am about 5 episodes in right now and hope to finish the rest in the next few days.
Minor spoilers ahead.

Kid Flash got into
the Atom's stuff again.

The show is based on the Young Justice comic book by Peter David, created by Peter David and Todd Nauck, and merged with the Teen Titans as well.  The show features Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Aqualad,  Ms. Martian, and Artemis (apparently the show chose not to use the name Arrowette for the archer as was the case in the Young Justice book).  Green Arrow's former partner, who started out as Speedy but redubs himself Red Arrow after severing ties with his mentor, is also in the mix but not as a member of the team.  Red Tornado and Batman round out the cast as the team's supervisors and to assign missions.  Various Justice League members are in the mix as the plot demands; in one episode, Black Canary drops by to do hand-to-hand combat training with the team, for example.

While I have yet to see evidence of it on the show, a little research on the internet reveals that Robin is Dick Grayson.  I find that a little disappointing because the trio of Tim Drake, Connor Kent, and Bart Allan was always the heart of Young Justice, and then later the Teen Titans.  To me Dick & Wally belong to the Titans, with Starfire, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy.  The revelation that this is Dick doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the show, but it would be enhanced if this were Tim.  Anyway, Robin is one of the younger members of the team, if not the youngest, but also the most experienced.  He has a real flair for technology, and a habit of butchering the English language for his own amusement.

Kid Flash was quickly revealed to be Wally West, which I wasn't terribly happy about.  In my mind Wally West is the Flash, but since we've seen an adult Flash it has to be Barry Allan in the Justice League.  As I said before, the big draw of Young Justice, and then later in Teen Titans, was the relationship between Bart Allan, Tim Drake, and Connor Kent.  Considering their identities I do like the relationship between Robin and Kid Flash, as they are the two original (comics) Titans members on the team.  Wally is impulsive, as many speedsters are, and his speed isn't over the top like in the comics; while he can vibrate through objects, it is very draining on him, and I'd estimate that the speed of sound is probably his top range.

On the other hand though, I really like what they've done with Superboy.  He has a lot of anger at the world, and considering he grew up in a test tube a lot of it is justified.  He doesn't like letting people get close, and he feels lost.  Young Justice gives him a place to belong, but he is definitely not a team player yet.  What I also really like is his relationship with Superman; basically, he weirds Superman out.  The man of steel basically wants nothing to do with him because he makes him feel uncomfortable (a perfectly natural reaction), which future fuels Superboys feeling of rejection.  There is a scene I really liked with Batman giving Superman parenting advice, which makes total sense since Batman has raised Robin.

Aqualad is a new character with an old name; he's been reimagined as a black character, presumably to bring diversity to the cast rather than using another Teen Titan character like Cyborg or Bumblebee.  It doesn't really bother me though because the new Aqualad is pretty cool, and I'm a lot less harsh on these kind of changes in a cartoon than in the comics themselves (more on that topic in another post).  He is the leader of the team, but only until Robin feels he is ready, which is a great compromise I think to take some of the focus off of Robin (as he was the star of the Teen Titans cartoon).

Ms. Martian is said to be the Martian Manhunters niece, which is a change from the comics (where she is actually a white martian, not a green one) but a nice and easy way to include her.  She is less powerful than her uncle but she provides a fresh, innocent perspective on things, such as Starfire did on the Teen Titans cartoon.  Also interesting is that she and J'onn are not the sole survivors of Mars, as she mentions she has twelve sisters on Mars.


Finally, Artemis.  I've only seen one episode with her so far so I'm not sure how similar she is to Arrowette of the comics; at a glance I think the only similarity is blonde hair and archery, to be honest.  She is the team mystery, as she and Green Arrow claim she is his niece but Red Arrow dispels that pretty quickly (privately, not to the rest of the team).
What really surprised me about this show was the inclusion of the Justice League.  Unlike the Teen Titans cartoon (which is highly underrated in my opinion), where the Justice Leage was kept completely separate (Batman's name was never mentioned once in the entire 5 seasons the show aired), here the League is represented in full force.  These kids are the sidekicks, much to Speedy's disapproval.  One fun aspect of the original Young Justice comic, as well as the early issues of the relaunched Teen Titans, was the kids trying to find their own way and gain trust from their mentors.  These kids are privy to the secrets of the world's greatest heroes, and also want to prove themselves.  Having the Justice League around for the kids to look up to and rebel against should make for some fun television.

If you can park your DC continuity at the door and enjoy the show as a new take on the DC Universe, you're in for a treat.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Make Way For The Champ

Blogger decided to eat my entire post about "Comics That Are Fun", so I'll have to recreate that for another day.  Instead, since time is short, I thought I'd post a couple of my favourite scans from the original Siegel and Shuster Superman comic strip from back in the good ol' 30's.  Superman really is a jerk.


Eat your heart out Aquaman.

Can you imagine if he caught you out after curfew?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Did Anyone Get The Number of That Book?

Comics should not require research to read. It makes getting into the medium intimidating to new readers and off-putting even to experienced readers. A reader should not need to be experienced to follow a story!

Hulk no need
balanced breakfast.
The biggest problem here is that the publishers want to have their Hostess Fruit Pies and eat them too, in the form of constant re-number and re-titling of books. They want the boosted sales of a #1, but also the extra numbers that come with a milestone issue such as a #500.

For example, let's take a look at the publishing history of Thor. The God of Thunder got his start in Journey Into Mystery #83, and eventually the title of the book changed to reflect that of it's star, with issue #126 being re-titled as The Mighty Thor. This was the tend for several of Marvel's books that started as anthology titles but were taken over by the most popular feature character, such as Captain America taking over Tales of Suspense.
Hammer time.

The Mighty Thor kept the same number and title up until it's cancelation during the Heroes Reborn event, which was a reboot or reset of some of Marvel's flagship characters, such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

It was around this time that the third volume of Journey Into Mystery was launched (I don't even know how to slot JiM volume 2 into this article other than to say it existed and as far as I know had nothing do with Thor, it was an anthology title featuring various stories), for a grand total of 19 issues.

You only wish your
hammer was that shiny.
Thor became the star of his own book again with a relaunched Thor #1 (to go along with new Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, and Fantastic Four #1's) after Heroes Reborn: The Return, which saw the exiled heroes come back to the mainstream Marvel Universe. Thor had a run of 85 issues before being canceled. The character was killed off (in the extraordinary Ragnarok storyline) and put on the shelf for a few years.

Thor made his triumphant return to comics with a new #1. This new volume ran for a total of 12 issues before Marvel decided to bump up the bottom line by keeping the name but going back to the original Journey Into Mystery numbering with #600.

21 issues later Marvel then decided to launch a new book for Thor to call his own, The Mighty Thor #1. His "old" book was returned to the title Journey Into Mystery and continued on with #622.
Thor's mom made him
add the sleeves so he
wouldn't catch cold.

So if I'm a new comic book reader, and I decide I like the cover art on Journey Into Mystery #622 and pick it up, how am I supposed to know that if I want to backtrack to find more issues I have to look for Thor volume 1 #621? If I figure out that the book was last titled Thor, I'm going to be looking for the most recent volume, volume 3...but that stopped with #12 and continued into Thor volume 1 #600-621...I bought these books as they came out and even I get confused!

I'm not gonna lie, this also makes organizing your books really difficult. If you do it by title and volume, the reading order is all messed up. If you do it by reading order, then you have to mix in multiple titles that can't be sorted alphabetically.

I understand that a #622 is off-putting to new readers because there is a lot of potential backstory you may feel you need to read. But bouncing around from #1's to #600's makes it no easier.

Better movie means
better cover billing.
I think the big publishers need to look at a volume system. You could create a new volume every year or two. The numbers stay low, making it more palatable to new readers, but there is still a sense of history when you hit volume 20 #1. You can create a jumping on point for new readers with each new volume.

I'd like to think that DC Comics has an excellent opportunity to keep their titles numbering clean with the relaunching of their entire line with #1 issues for all titles, but I find it hard to believe they will pass up re-numbering Action Comics when the time comes for #1000. It's really a shame Action and Detective were re-numbered from a historical standpoint, but I'm sure DC will get their slice of those fruit pies however they can.




Don't mess with the Ding-a-Lings

Monday, 22 August 2011

Characters That Are Awesome - Hawkeye

From time to time I am going to discuss some of my favourite characters and what it is I love about them.  To start this featre off, I thought I'd get the ball rolling with a post about Mr. Clint Barton, Hawkeye.


Watch out for the Dentabone Arrow

Clint Barton and his brother Barney, orphaned at a young age, ran away from the orphanage to join the circus.  One of the show's star performers, the Swordsman, took Hawkeye on as an apprentice, and along with another performer named Trickshot, trained him in archery.  Upon discovering that the Swordsman was embezzling money from the circus, Clint confronted him and was badly beaten, allowing the Swordsman time to escape.

Perhaps not the usual
approach to a job interview.
Years later, after stints with several traveling circuses, Clint caught sight of one of the new heroes on the block, Iron Man, and decided he wanted to be a costumed adventurer as well.  Unfortunately, his first outing did not go smoothly and he ended up mistakenly wanted as a criminal.  Taken in by the then-Soviet spy the Black Widow, Clint embarked on several criminal outings as a nemesis to Iron Man.  However, after a battle in which the injured Widow abandons him, he decides to turn his life around.

Long story short, Hawkeye is given a chance to join the Avengers by Iron Man and the team's butler, Edwin Jarvis, and he takes it.  Starting out as a real pain in the stars-and-stripes to Captain America, Hawkeye would grow and mature into an excellent team leader, of the West Coast Avengers, the Great Lakes Avengers, and the villains-turned-heroes the Thunderbolts.

It's wing night at Smitty's.

Hawkeye does not have any superpowers, other than one or two stints utilizing Pym Particles to become Goliath.  In fact, for quite a time he actually had a disability, a hearing loss suffered by one of his own sonic arrowheads while overcoming a mind control trap set by the villain Crossfire.  Hawkeye would need to wear hearing aids until he was "reborn" following the events of Onslaught.

Hawkeye is cocky, brash, and has a temper.  He doesn't like taking orders without having his say.  But he is also arguably the hardest working Avenger there is.  He can't rely on a super soldier serum to stay in shape, he doesn't have enhanced durability or superspeed to help him out in a jam.  What he has is a work ethic, constantly maintaining and improving his archery skills and physical fitness.


Sporting the
T-Bolts bling.

With nothing more than a bow and some tricked-out arrows, Hawkeye has faced down some of the toughest villains (and heroes!) out there and hasn't flinched.  He does it with a smile on his face and an insult on his lips. In a more powerful hero his cockiness would be insufferable; for a non-powered human fighting alongside mutants, gods, and aliens, it is endearing.

Being an Avenger is extremely important to Hawkeye; upon discovering he might have to give up his roster spot on the team for new recruits Justice and Firestar, he was outraged.  However, he had promised the young New Warriors a spot on the team, and therefore was willing to give up his place on the team.  Fortunately for all the young heroes were made reserve members instead, allowing Hawkeye to stay with the team.


Hawkeye in the animated
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes


Hawkeye cares more for what is right than what is necessarily legal.  At one point Hawkeye left the Avengers to lead the Thunderbolts, who used to be members of the Masters of Evil.  Hawkeye had started his costumed career on the wrong side of the tracks, but being a part of the Avengers helped him turn things around.  Hawkeye felt a kinship with the fledgling heroes, and even though they were fugitives he broke all ties with the Avengers to help them through it.

The character has certainly had his share of ups and downs, but through it all he continues to fight the good fight.  Hawkeye was picked by Iron Man as a potential successor to Steve Rogers as Captain America after his "death", and honestly, with the exception of Bucky, nobody else would have been worthy of slinging Cap's shield. 

If you missed it, Hawkeye had a cameo role in the Thor movie, and will be a member of the team in the Avengers movie coming out next summer.  I cannot wait!

Yeah, I ranted about changing superhero costumes in film
yesterday, but even I didn't expect the purple.



Friday, 19 August 2011

Avengers Film Footage

Punchdrunk over at the Thor Message Board pointed out these great bystander shots of the shooting of the Avengers film in Cleveland.  It is really, really great stuff for an amateur video.  We've got Thor and Captain America fighting side by side (and back to back), and we even get to see Mjolnir flip a car!










And for some awesome still shots (including Cap crashing through a window several stories up) you can go to http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/joshw24/news/?a=44727



What You're Missing - Thor, the Mighty Avenger

The comic book business can be a cruel one. While we'd love to believe that quality will win out, unfortunately, no matter how critically acclaimed a series may be, it's the amount of money the book brings in that determines its survival.

I am ashamed to say that I waited too long to try out what turned out to be one of my favourite titles ever.

Thor, the Mighty Avenger, is not only one of the best Thor comics I've ever read, it's one of the best comics I've read, period.  The book is not set in continuity, but rather is a stand-alone re-telling of Thor's first days on earth.  Some details have changed; for example, Jane Foster is not a nurse-turned-doctor, but works as a museum curator.  But other things stay the same; Thor is banished from Asgard by his father and cannot return, as has been the case before.

The action is secondary in this title, though it is certainly there, as the main crux of the story is about the relationship between Jane and Thor.  This is perhaps the most charming and happiest Thor I've ever seen, and it is very refreshing.

In solicitations, the art was a turn-off for me.  But once I actually read a single issue I was completely turned around on that front.  Is is the kind of art I would want on the main Thor title, or any other front-and-center title?  No, it's not.  But I don't know if I've ever seen such a perfect blend of art and story as this.

So why did such an awesome book die?  It was a multitude of factors, and I pretty much blame Marvel for all of them.

The book was advertised as a second Thor on-going tittle, but a quick look at the previews for it left readers wondering if it was in continuity or not.  Maybe an interview somewhere cleared that up, but readers should not have to do research to find out something this simple.

At the time this book launched, Marvel was launching a multitude of Thor mini-series and special projects to have an ample supply of trade paperbacks available when the movie came out earlier  this year.  As a Thor fan, I was forced to pick and choose what I would pick up because I did not want to spend the cash on so many books.  Even projects that I really wanted to pick up, like the Warriors Three mini-series, I had to leave on the shelf (though I will get it as a tpb at some point).  Therefore, a new on-going with clearly not "mainstream" art was bumped down a lot of Thor fans lists.

Finally, Marvel didn't really give the book a chance.  The book was getting critical acclaim, and it was around the time #6 came out that fans were starting to take notice.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to my store to support the book around #8, it was too late, the plug had been pulled.

I had picked up #1 out of the overstock bins, since it was $1 for the issue.  I had heard how good the series was so I thought I'd finally bite the bullet and check it out.  I went back after reading that one issue and bought the rest of the series, some from the $1 overstock and the rest from the shelf at full price.  I had hoped by picking up #8 I was helping the cause, but it was too late.

The creators had a full 12 issue arc planned out that would have wrapped a lot of things up, and it's a shame that such a wonderful series is left hanging for a conclusion.  Marvel threw readers a bone with the Captain America/Thor, The Mighty Fighting Avengers issue in their Free Comic Book Day 2011 line-up, though in a way it was an odd choice because if you weren't familiar with Thor the Mighty Avenger you were probably pretty confused.

You will be doing yourself a favour if you track this series down in the back issue bins or as tpbs.  Then let Marvel know that you want the final four issues of this landmark series.

Taken from www.weeklycrisis.com


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Movie Costumes & Weird Textures

I'm not sure what the reasoning is, but Hollywood is tending to add weird textures to superhero costumes.  I don't know why and I certainly don't know how, but it just strikes me as unnecessary.  Case in point, check out the new Superman costume from the upcoming reboot.

Aquaman's tailor is branching out.

 The first thing I noticed when I first saw this costume was the scaly texture to it.  Give it a click and look at full size, it looks like Superman is doing his best fish impression.

I actually like other elements of the costume, such as the prominence of the S-Shield, but the texture really bugs me.  Plus the S curl in the hair is missing; negative cool points for that.




Spider-Cleats activate!
 Here is a promotional image that just came out recently (the website that published it first put that stamp on it) of the costume for the Amazing Spider-Man reboot. 

I hate this costume.  The only reason they changed the classic look, in my speculation, is to differentiate this film from the Sam Raimi trilogy.  This is why studios should have to wait awhile before rebooting a franchise, but Sony can't wait that long or they lose the movie rights so I guess we're stuck.  This costume just screams "I'm different just to be different!"

Two things jumped out at me about this image when I first laid eyes upon it.  The first was that it looks like Bounty paper towels (the Quicker Picker UpperTM) is sponsoring this outfit, since the suit has a kind of quilted texture to it.  I also noticed that Spidey must not have made it onto his high school soccer team since his cleats don't extend to his heel (Aunt May must not have been able to afford a whole shoe).  The sad things is I actually hope that really is the case and those aren't suction cups on the bottom of his feet...

So far Marvel Studios has done the best job adapting their characters costumes to the big screen.  Thor looked spot on, Captain America was pretty good, and Iron Man was absolutely perfect.  And I guess the Hulk's pants were alright too, kind of hard to screw that up.  While I normally hate when characters are put in full leather suits (hello X-Men), that is pretty much the standard operating procedure for the Black Widow and she looked picture perfect in her debut in Iron Man 2.  I want the characters to have more than a passing resemblance to their four colour inspirations, so I hope other studios get on the Marvel costuming train.


It's a fake but it's awesome.
 

An Amazing Fantasy

Welcome one and all, well, if I'm being honest, right now I am the "one"...anyway, I'd like to give a big howdy to readers of my new blog!  For awhile now I've wanted a place to share my thoughts on the world of comics, so I thought to myself "Self, git 'er done", and lo' and behold Does Whatever a Comics Blog Can was born.

I want to use this space to share my thoughts on comics.  I read a variety of titles, from Captain America to Fables to Bone, and I will be bouncing around to whatever I want to talk about.  If you're looking for dirt and discussion on the very latest book this probably won't be the place for you, considering I live 2 hours away from my comic shop and cannot get there weekly.  But if you love comics and are looking for discussion about the industry, old favourites, and anything comics related then this could be the place for you.  I can guarantee multiple posts about the Avengers, the Martian Manhunter, and Squirrel Girl, if that helps any.

So I hope you enjoy the read, and I'm always happy to discuss anything I've posted in the comments section!