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Category Archives: Comics

Political Correctness & Comics

The newest significant announcement in the comic biz which I’ve just become aware of, Thor is going to be a woman. This is supposed to start in October.

Thors Fight With the Giants - courtesy Google Art ProjectMarvel Comics announced the hammer-wielding superhero will be represented by a female, though the precise circumstances of the changeover are unknown. Presumably, all the details will be spilled in October, when the new storyline begins.
This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR,writer Jason Aaron said in a press release that was widely retweeted.

All of this was announced back in August, so you’re not getting the latest information here. My reaction to this follows several lines of thought. I have to say I’m glad this social correctness wasn’t part of the community of graphic novels let alone a concern that children might be required to learn when I was a youth. It appears this isn’t the situation now.

I’m all for seeing strong women roles in movies, TV and even comics, but is it necessary to change long-established icons of Norse mythology and comic fiction to satisfy gender equality? Why change Thor, certainly a hero of epic proportions to a woman? Why not create a new character?

Thor back in the dayIf they want something a bit more representative, certainly there’s justification in an entirely new super-hero. While they’re at it, couldn’t the artists truly draw a woman with a strong body type without lipstick & having breasts the size of large balloons or water melons?

I’m glad I grew up in a period where children could live without being exposed to all the current social tension and drama.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting a good rendition of Wonder Woman or Super Woman on-screen.

Note: In Norse mythology, Thor (from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of humanity, also hallowing, healing and fertility. The deity in Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar (runic þonar ᚦᛟᚾᚨᚱ), stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Mjollnir (Thor's Hammer)Ultimately stemming from Proto-Indo-European religion, Thor is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic people, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania, to the tribal expansions, to his popularity during the Viking Age, when Christian expansion in Scandinavia, emblems of his hammer, Mjölnir, were worn in defiance and Norse pagan personal names containing the name of the god bear witness to his popularity. Thor continued to be acknowledged in folklore throughout Germanic regions. Thor is frequently referred to in place names, the day of the week Thursday (“Thor’s day”; Old English Thunresdaeg, Thunor’s day); which bears his name from the pagan period continues to be used today.  (Source: Wikipedia)

The new Thor - Marvel Comics All RIghts Reserved

What do you think about this change? I invite your comments.

 
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Posted by on 13/09/2014 in Comics, Entertainment, Fantasy, Hollywood, Popular Culture, Stories

 

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Unbelievable – $uper Auction

Superman logoLook!
Up in the sky . . .
Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
No! It’s Super High Auction!!!

I watched an eBay auction with interest recently. I first observed the promotion of an original Superman / Action Comics auction last week.

At the time I thought around $2.1 or $2.2 million would be the winning bid.
I clearly underestimated the collectors willingness to bid. Here is the end result of that auction.

Action Comics #1 (June 1938) Superman’s Debut
Ended:  Aug 24, 2014 18:00:02 PDT
Winning bid:  $3,207,852.00

 
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Posted by on 25/08/2014 in Comics, Entertainment, Fantasy, Finance, Icons, Popular Culture

 

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Tap – Tap – where’s my post?

Tap – Tap – where’s my post?

Comic Con 2014Yes, we’ve been busy during this summer and so far blog entries have been slow. Apologies to those that follow this blog.

 

Do you know about the Samuel Jackson scale? No? Well you can learn more about it by watching this video.

Meanwhile, have you heard about the movie — Kingsman: The Secret Service?

For starters, look at the Cast:

Colin Firth as Harry Hart
Taron Egerton as Eggsy/Gary Unwin
Michael Caine as Arthur
Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine
Sofia Boutella as Gazelle
Jack Davenport as Lancelot
Sophie Cookson as Roxy
Mark Strong as Merlin
Mark Hamill as Professor James Arnold
Elton John
Adele
Lady Gaga as herself
David Beckham

That alone suggests this movie could be a lot of fun.

The film started shooting 6 October 2013 in Deepcut, Surrey and is scheduled for release in the UK on 24 October 2014.

Preview:

 

Meanwhile, if you didn’t get to Comic Con San Diego, (neither did we) … Here’s a recap on some of the costumes in attendance.

 
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Posted by on 30/07/2014 in Action, Actors, Comics, Entertainment, Fantasy, Movies, Popular Culture

 

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review [contains a few spoilers]

click to go to IMDbI had the best of all possibilities when viewing this film. I went with a couple of other movie fans who were good company, also wanting to get the best out of this new film. As such, we went to a late showing at an I-Max theater in 3D. Hardly anyone else in the theater, we were able to select seating of our choice. Right, so let’s get started.

Here’s an overview of this movie, then I’ll dive into some detail. The detail section shouldn’t be read if you haven’t seen the movie, it contains a few spoilers.

The actors are all bringing their A game in this movie. I have to especially mention, without a doubt Andrew Garfield is outstanding as Peter Parker and his comic book alter-ego, Spider-Man. They also got it right with Jamie Fox. He easily could have pushed this role too far and we might have had another Jim Carey / Batman moment. Fortunately that wasn’t the case here. Emma Stone is a solid actress in this role, achieving the intelligent, heroic, persevering and beautiful girl friend of Peter Parker. She gets us to want to see more of her as she aids Spider-Man, all the while struggling with the roller-coaster, on-off-on relationship turmoil because of Peter’s promise to her father in the 1st movie, to keep his distance despite their love for each other. The relationship is explored more in this film and the banter and emotion come through to the end of the film.

New look for Electro vs. old comic book styleVisual imagery and costumes were creative and technical execution was impressive. By that I mean the colors, action and the sound were all done at an A level. No doubt this movie executes the 3D imagery without over doing it. The music score was impactful and built the emotion and suspense in the movie. The theme behind Electro worked the moments for the audience portraying the confusion as well as the anger Max Dillon / Electro was supposed to be feeling. My impression of the writing and acting for Electro were at the top of the villain list in all of the Spider-Man movies up to this point. William Dafoe as the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie was perhaps the best so far but Jamie Fox did a great job in this role.

Everything appears as though it’s one of the better comic book / action movies to date, right? Well here’s where the movie for me gets a B grade. The writing, film editing and continuity really cut the legs out from under all of the good acting. The writer(s) and director had a large agenda. They created a longer film to incorporate as much as they thought were required for all of their ideas to be included. Even though it was longer than the other films, I didn’t think it ran too long, rather I found there were plot lines and character development sacrificed to mash everything together. Don’t misunderstand, it was an entertaining film, just there was so much crowding of characters, crime, drama, comedy, action and summation that it overly condensed / cut some great character and plot development.

Speaking of the ending of the movie, it reminded me of the old black and white movies shown on Saturday afternoons which ended as cliff hangers in order to get the audience to come back for the next serialized segment. This is as far as I go before I warn you, someone who hasn’t seen the movie might wish to stop reading and wait until they see it for themselves.

[Spoilers past this point] Now that I’ve briefly explained what I find are the aspects of the film which hampered it, I’ll go into more detail. Your comments are welcome at the end of this post. I’m quite sure there will be differing opinions.

Lets, start with the obvious; comparing the Sam Raimi / Toby Maguire trilogy to these two of Marc Webb / Andrew Garfield. Perhaps the most obvious is there have only been 2 so far but there are shared elements of the first three. Besides the origin story which differs between each, we’re left with how did Peter become part of the Aunt May & Uncle Ben home? In the Raimi version, we don’t really know, in the Webb version, this second film explores his parent disconnection further. Consider this as plot-line 1 in this movie because it’s still part of the origination story left over from the 1st Amazing Spider-Man film.

We also have to see the connection between the city of New York and Spider-Man where we know he’s been doing good all over the city. That’s sort of sub text for plot line 2. There are action elements and relationship continuity to explore between the high school graduates, Gwen & Peter. We are looking at where they’ve been and what to do going forward with their relationship. This is an elemental and strong plot line for the movie and if it’s going to appeal to more than just the comic book fan. We need to see how this unfolds, this is plot line 3.

Now we get to see the future main villain (Max Dillon), as we’re introduced to him via Oscorp, as well as Norman & Harry Osborn in quick succession. We actually were introduced to a 3rd villain in the beginning sequences but we won’t know how significant he is until the end of the film. So, perhaps in not the actual chronological order, we get plot lines 4 (Dillon – Electro). Oscorp (multiple villain incubation labs), plot line 5, Harry Osborn, then Norman for main plot line 6.

Clearly the images the director wanted to engage the audience, apart from the necessary confrontation(s), were many and this is where this second movie can be compared loosely to the 3rd Raimi / Maquire installment. Too many objects / plots and backgrounds to explain all at once. It’s as though you take the strongest villain out of the Spider-Man universe and use him for one concluding story arc, the death of Gwen Stacy. To use the one word surprised question from the movie, “Really?”

Spider-Man-2 clock tower battle

battle in the clock tower

Gwen Stacy developed in this movie to the point where we see her value much beyond a love interest and later emotional demise. She was Lois Lane, Susan Storm and just about the equivalent of Robin for Batman, combined. Speaking of which, the brief action sequence and unsatisfying character development of Harry Osborn / Goblin would be like relegating the Joker to 15 minutes in the Batman films. The Green Goblin needs a better treatment because in the comics he’s a principle nemesis of Spider-Man. Electro was never as capable of coming back and wreaking havoc on Spider-Man like the Goblin. The Green Goblin, et. al. is the equivalent of the DC Comics Joker.

This is where I really have some issues with this movie. They do a good job of getting us to understand and empathize with Max Dillon / Electro, they completely cut the sequence of events as shown in the trailer of how Harry Osborn concludes Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one in the same, leaving it to an ah-ha moment and then a rushed difficult segment where the Goblin and Spider-Man are fighting each other. It developed so suddenly and only appeared to be a way of showing how Gwen gets killed. Don’t get me wrong, the moments before and the brief time we have with Peter grieving over Gwen while he held her in his arms, displays the depth of emotions required for this scene, but they need not and should not have done this in this movie. It felt rushed just so they can get us into the next girl and group of villains in Amazing Spider-Man 3.

The next few minutes of the movie is a time compression of about 5 months where Spider-Man is off the grid. New York is wondering where he’s gone and then suddenly we’re pulled through the grief cycle with a few well placed words by Aunt May, a play back of the video of Gwen giving the valedictorian closing high school speech, which Peter missed because of being delayed in the beginning of the film, fighting bad guys. Now suddenly, the third villain emerges in the form of an armored Rhino, again supplied by the lovely folks (courtesy Harry Osborn) of Oscorp. Spider-Man hears the clarion call and joins in the fight between the man he captured so humorously in the beginning of the film now in Rhino battle armor with machine guns & cannons. The film ends with him just as we see in the trailer, where he’s about to make his first contact with Russian mobster in Rhino armor swinging a man-hole cover on the end of his webbing.

Gustave Fierce Amazing Spider-Man-2Can we say, ‘cliff hanger’, that’s not a cliff hanger? That’s it. The tally so far is, Electro, maybe dead, Gwen Stacy definitely dead, Harry Osborn running the show from some type of mental-case isolation room and half of Times Square demolished. The intro once more of several pieces of techno-bad-guy stuff in the Osborn armory and a fade to black with a name assigned to the shadow assistant in Oscorp, Mr. Fiers. Mind you, there are a whole array of possible future Spider-Man universe characters sprinkled briefly throughout the movie.

That seems like a fair amount of criticism but overall the film is entertaining and the imagery is superb. These type of films would not look as good if they were made 20 years ago. CGI has opened the door to allow some credible super hero action. Sound tech is also better than before. I believe this film is worth going to see if this is your kind of picture. Sadly, the big budget, action, fast cut-away, short attention span films dominate the landscape and most of the movie ticket buying audience wants it that way.

Here’s a review comparing the Raimi version, Spider-Man 2 vs. Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2.
I think it’s well worth the read. Several of the opinions expressed differ from mine.

Red Spider Symbol

 

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Comic Book Fans – Story Limits

I’m finally going to see the new Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie. There won’t be many surprises for me in the movie as it seems to follow the original story arc.

By the time number 4 rolls around the studios abandon the series

By the time number 4 rolls around the studios reboot the series

I’ve always been a fan of the Marvel genre as opposed to DC Comics. It started when I was a youth and first saw / purchased – Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Spiderman comics. Of all the ones that originated in the 1960’s, Spiderman had the most relate-able story line. It was the character flaws and the emotional issues involving the lead character which made it stand out. As hard as DC tried, they made their characters far too distant and almost perfect. Superman was by far the most difficult to believe simply because almost nothing affected him. Even his personal relationship with Lois Lane seemed contrived.

There were several attempts to gain traction with comics on TV and the movies and mostly they came off as poor remnants of past Broadway humor. It wasn’t until Tim Burton directed with Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, where adults could begin to enjoy what Hollywood already saw in box office potential.

The release of Superman, directed by Richard Donner with Christopher Reeve in the role a decade before this film, was enjoyable, but the severe editing by the studio and the dismissal of Richard Donner before the second film was released, gave it a somewhat wooden quality. The second Superman was turned into camp humor once again when they turned over the directorship to Richard Lester. If you haven’t seen the remastered Richard Donner version of Superman II, I urge you to watch it. It improves greatly on the release as seen back in 1980.Hulk smash poodles

The DC Comics movies that have enjoyed success, seemed to run their course by the 3rd movie. More were attempted in Superman and Batman, however the fans and the critics didn’t like number 4 & beyond. The 3rd movie seems the limit so far for Marvel. Perhaps the one movie that could still have something left in the tank would be Iron Man. It’s 3rd outing also seemed to suggest the continuance of the character may just be in the Avengers II movie. All of the Hulk movies have performed badly in my eyes. Perhaps the worst was the first one where the Hulk had to fight off giant gamma irradiated poodles. Whoever thought to write that in along with the hiring of Nick Nolte as Bruce Banner’s father, should have their guild credentials stripped.

Sony has supposedly approved of a 3rd and potentially 4th Amazing Spider-Man film, but here’s the rub, [SPOILER ALERT] the second outing of the Amazing Spider-Man series eliminates a lead character. When Marvel creators came up with a story line about Spider-Man, they attempted to break the mold. They knew their target audience were essentially adolescent men. The fem-fatal or damsel in distress worked for decades but this time they wanted to shock their followers, so rather than a successful rescue of the girl friend of Peter Parker / Spiderman, they have her killed.

Here’s the problem using this plot device now. This story line has been repeated (often). It’s a setup to serve a purpose in defining the lead character but when you take apart the story-line for Spider-Man, the appeal of the hero and thus the movie is in character development. This time around they gave a strong showing for Gwen Stacey. They didn’t do that with the Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire series. Emma Stone portrays a modern woman rather than the 1960’s prior girl friend. She’s shown to be every bit as heroic, smart, and resourceful as Andrew Garfield is in these films. When you kill off a strong leading character and put more emphasis on the villains, this tends to limit the appeal beyond the normal range of youthful exuberant movie goers.

Christopher Reeve & Terence Stamp - Superman II

Christopher Reeve & Terence Stamp – Superman II

I believe, if you don’t have strongly appealing and identifiable characters, then the series begins to lose audience interest. After all, the movie isn’t named “Electro”, “Goblin”, or “Rhino”, but when you add in another screen appealing protagonist, it’s best not to eliminate them just so you can follow a 40+ year-old plot-line that has become cliché through repetition. *The definition of a fem-fatal killed off as a plot device has been called, “woman in refrigerator”, so named after a 1994 Green Lantern comic where Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator.

How will fans accept this series going forward when the next-girl, Mary Jane Watson becomes part of the inner Spidey cirlce? Will this self-limit the series once more or will the anticipation of perhaps facing 6 or more “baddies” at once make box office cash-ola? Remember all of the criticism of Spiderman 3 because of too many villains at once? Perhaps too we can recall the critics complaining about the Man of Steel, when Superman ends up snapping the neck of General Zod. How quick we seem to forget Superman II.

We shall see how this works tonight when I watch it.

 
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Posted by on 08/05/2014 in Action, Actors, Comics, Entertainment, Fantasy, Hollywood, Icons, Popular Culture, Writing

 

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News About an Upcoming Super Hero Movie

Do you want to know what happens in a future comic book action hero film? Well here goes, but I recommend leaving this page if you don’t want to find out what happens.

The Amazing Spider Man Logo isn't owned by me.

The Amazing Spider-Man Logo owned by Sony Pictures

Max (Electro) and Oscorp have a falling out over a power grid Max designed that he feels the company stole. Harry uses that leverage to recruit Electro as muscle to help him break into Oscorp. Max helps him thinking he’s needed by Harry. Electro imprisons Ravencroft director Dr. Kafka (Marton Csokas) in an electric-shock cage, before he and Goblin / Harry set out to wreak havoc.

After the run in Peter first has with both Electro and separately with Rhino, he realizes he’s going to have serious problems with both of them together. Peter Parker’s father was someone who had close ties with Shield. He calls on the assistance of Tony Stark to help defeat Electro & the Rhino. Tony builds a special suit that looks and acts like Spider-Man. When Electro confronts this suit in a second battle, his electrical discharges only help give more power to the suit. Finally, Electro wears himself out trying to blast Spider-Man into oblivion. In this confrontation with Spider-Man, Peter manages eventually to plant some doubt into Max about the intentions of Harry. This helps in a later battle as Electro and Harry have a falling out. Goblin Jr. goes off the rails, which leaves the door open for a full-fledged Norman Osborn Goblin sequel in Amazing Spider-Man 3.

All images owned by Sony Pictures

All images owned by Sony Pictures

As the Rhino approaches he knows he has some weaponry that Spider-Man can’t cope with and an ace up his sleeve. Just in case Spider-Man defeats him this time, he and Osborn have a plan in place. They’re about to kidnap Gwen Stacey as leverage against Spider-Man / Peter Parker. They both know his identity and his love interest.

Amazing Spider Man swinging through traffic

Amazing Spider Man – All rights reserved Sony Pictures

Rhino meets Spider-Man in an epic street battle, but unknown to him, Spider-Man has left behind the Spider(Iron)Man suit to battle it out with him and through intelligence gathered by a friend in Baxter Tower, he receives a tip Gwen is in danger and goes off to fight that battle, leaving the Spider-Man suit in full remote mode against Rhino.

I’m not going to tell anything more about what happens to Gwen, you’ll just have to go see the movie.

Note: (all of the above was simply my imagination. You didn’t really think I was going to spoil the film, did you??)

 
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Posted by on 14/04/2014 in Action, Comics, Entertainment, Fantasy, Hollywood, Humor, Plot

 

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Marvel Phase II – Other Movie Release Dates

We’ve just seen the latest Marvel Comic character movie released – Captain America: Winter Solider. This movie is already taking in serious box office. Box Office Mojo. Spiderman aka Peter Parker

Right behind this one is another most likely to succeed candidate; The Amazing Spiderman 2May 2, 2014

Followed by: X-Men: Days of Future Past – May 23, 2014

How’s poor old Tom Cruise going to fit in with all of the Marvel extravaganza’s? His latest film: Edge Of Tomorrow – June 6, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – June 13, 2014 (Should be successful)

More Marvel Release Dates:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy – July 31, 2014
  • Fantastic Four – March 6, 2015
  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1, 2015
  • Ant-Man – July 31, 2015
  • Captain America 3 – May 6, 2016
  • X-Men: Apocalypse – May 26, 2016
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 3 – June 10, 2016

Now that Spiderman is about to spin a new yarn, new promo images are available, including this one of his villains.

Harry Osborn aka Green Goblin - Sony Pictures

Harry Osborn aka Green Goblin – Amazing Spiderman 2  Sony Pictures

Studios are putting a lot of money into these films. They have to be blockbusters or the film production & distribution costs will overwhelm them.

 

 

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