Superman: The Movie is a motion picture that was released in 1978. Despite there being attempts at making comic book movies in the past, whether it be low budget movie … Continue reading Look, Up In The Sky!
Of all the major Marvel characters out there Thor would have to be my least favorite. Now I’ve loved what they’ve done with him in a supporting role in The Avengers movies, not his stand alone films. They’ve found a way to temper the thees and thous the comics seem to sprinkle on like a fat person slathers on salad dressing onto a salad when they’re trying to diet. But don’t get me wrong. Saying Thor is my least favorite Marvel character would be like saying McDonald’s makes my least favorite hamburger. It’s still a damn good burger when push comes to shove.
This issue is the start of the Korvac Saga. Korvac is a former human who, thanks to evil alien masters, is grafted into a computer making him a cyborg intent on universal domination. (When you type that out it does sound a little silly but trust me, it’s presented better.) Thor starts the issue off preventing some terrorists on Earth from igniting a nuclear reactor. He succeeds only to be sucked into a vortex that brings him to the 31st Century where he faces off against Korvac who shuttles him off into space presumably to die. There he is discovered by the ORIGINAL Guardians of the Galaxy. From there they discover Korvac’s location and proceed to stop his evil plan of sending our sun into a super nova in order to siphon off the energy.
Thor’s dialogue in this really comes off like someone attempting to sound like a bad Shakespearean actor. It was sometimes difficult to read without having to go over what was said more than once. I get why they chose to have him speak the way he did but it was quite distracting to say the least. However, I do like the fact that Thor has a bit of an innocent naive streak to him. He’s a hero who sees the world in black and white. You’re either good or bad. Sure he’ll give you a chance but once you screw that chance up, guess who gets swatted in the ass with mjonlir?
Korvac was all right as a villain but he suffers from something comic book creators are a little too guilty of. He’s from the 31st Century. He’s part computer and has the brain capacity of infinity. He has tools at his disposal that make our most extreme weapons look like pea shooters. Yet the heroes from modern times always find a way of foiling their evil plans. Not just partly stopping it mind you, completely putting an end to whatever evil machinations the bad guy had planned. I get that this was the late 70’s when this came out (damn I feel old) but even then comics were breaking away from stories that started and resolved in one single issue. You would think that every now and then you would have a time where a bad guy was able to even partially succeed. That would be more realistic and add a little bit more drama to the story and give them further reasons to fight. Sure, this particular story is part one of a twelve part story. But they have Korvac’s plan snuffed out at the last minute and have him escape before anything happens to him. Where is the tension? Where is the consequence of fighting someone you’ve built up as much as you have?
The artwork was good for its time but I did have one issue. Korvac looks like he’s melded with a Xerox machine. Predicting the future of technology is impossible of course. We recently had the anniversary of the day that Marty McFly traveled into the future for to see what happened to his kids. Back to the Future 2 was a brilliant film for so many reasons but tops on that list was that they made no effort to try and make a realistic future. They went all spacey with everything. While yeah, they got a few things right, and gave that little bitch Elijah Wood his first screen role, everything else about the future was a big eff you to what people may have guessed. Because you never know what the future would hold. Hell, ten years ago, who would have thought that tablet computers or smart phones would be around in the ways they are? That was technology strictly for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dr. Crusher wrote her reports on an iPad. I was never meant to read comic books from one! The fact that the artist tried to draw the future in a way that used images we as the reader could relate to was a failure simply due to the fact that even five years after this issue debuted the art looked dated.
Take the Superman film. Richard Donner and crew made no effort to make Kryptonian technology look like anything we could relate to. Everything was based on crystals. While hippies may think that crystals contain the keys to the universe, they also took a lot more acid than humans should be allowed to take so their opinions don’t count. The Superman film had it right by going wild with what alien technology could be. The 31st Century technology as drawn in this issue was a big failure because while it was trying to emulate what the future could look like, it looked like cheap 70’s office furniture. Besides that, the art was fine. Yes, I spent two paragraphs bitching about one thing but that is one complaint. The rest was fine.
The Korvac Saga is the start of a twelve issue story. This is going to be much more reasonable to attempt to tackle than the 98 issue story that was the Secret Invasion. For that, I will be reviewing this story in the suggested reading order that the Marvel Unlimited app recommends. And this was a pretty good way to kick off the story. Think of it like the little action sequence that always starts off a Bond film. While it may not have much to do with the main story, it’s still an exciting piece that cannot be missed. While I wish the artist was a little more inventive when it came to drawing objects from the future as well as wishing the writer made Thor’s dialogue a little easier to read, it’s not bad and tackles the subject of freedom quite well. Freedom is great to have but if you have to sacrifice your freedom or the freedom of others to achieve your goal, are you or anyone else involved in your plan truly free?
Time to sit back and read a classic today. Amazing Fantasy #15 gives birth to the most well known character not only in Marvel Comics history but in the history of comics period. Spider-Man. No matter the complaints I have about the story, and there are some, this comic helped changed the landscape for how comic stories were told.
To start with I absolutely loved that the story was pretty dark, especially for a story told in the early 1960’s. Apart from Uncle Ben and Aunt May, he really has no one that cares for him. Now as most older folks know, that is pretty much life right there. Don’t want to be too depressing here but it’s true. The people that really, truly care about you are a small group of people at best. The high school mentality that you need to be popular with everyone in order to be happy is about as much of a fictional tale as my love life when I was single.
Peter’s reactions when he gets his power is realistic as well. When you’re pushed around and treated like nothing, the moment you get your first taste of power it is quite easy to let it overtake you to the point of arrogance. Peter decides that he’s going to use his new power to benefit himself. That’s also a different take on the genre when most origin stories involve the hero making a vow from the start to use their powers for good. Peter Parker is all about the Benjamin’s and the bitches! It’s only when confronted with the results of his arrogance, the murderer of his Uncle Ben being a man who Peter had a chance to stop from robbing a television studio but didn’t, does he realize the error of his ways and use his powers for good in honor of his Uncle Ben.
People may say that Batman starts out just as dark. While it is pretty damn dark, Batman doesn’t become Batman through his own actions. He was not responsible for the death of his parents. He was a bystander who ended up vowing vengeance. If Peter Parker had stopped that thief, Uncle Ben would still be alive. That makes Peter’s decision at the end to fight crime all the more poignant.
When you look at origin stories for major characters I would have to say Spider-Man’s origin would have to be my favorite. Some origin stories are simply unreadable. I tried reading Captain America’s origin and had to put it down. Same for Superman and Batman. Granted they were written for a different time and an audience that asked for something different from their comic stories but man are they a horrible read. I compare it to the first single from major rock bands. If you took the first hits for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, you’d wonder how they ever got famous. The only group that had a decent first single was The Who. Batman and Superman were like the original singles from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Spider-Man would be like The Who’s first single, more well formed and strangely consistent with their current output of music.
Now the downside. Being that the story was written in the 1960’s, we have the annoying little trait of having characters when they’re alone speaking their thoughts out loud. Peter spends almost a full page talking to himself about his new powers when you just want to scream at him to actually shut the hell up and do something. Don’t get me wrong, I like that comics allow writers to visually show what characters are thinking. When said thoughts are expressed on a comic in a traditional word bubble, the way spoken speech is expressed in comics, it makes you wonder about the sanity of the characters.
I also wished the comic spent a little more time exploring his relationship with his Aunt and Uncle. Especially Uncle Ben. We know he loves them but don’t know why they are so important. Now obviously future issues more than establish why Aunt May and Uncle Ben were important. This issue made the mistake of telling the audience why they were important and not show the audience why they were important. Comics are a visual AND verbal medium. You can get away with telling some parts of the story. Others, you have to show.
Any judgement I have on this comic will be meaningless. Sure, it has flaws. ANY story has them if you look for them. But the freedom Stan Lee and Steve Ditko opened up for writers and artists alike should never be forgotten. Heroes in other stories chose to be come heroes. Some by choice, some in honor of loved ones, but it was still their choice. Peter Parker is different. If he had stopped that thief, he would not see the importance of one of the greatest lines in comic history. With great power there must also come great responsibility. This is how you create a character that lasts the test of time.
It also made me think of the recent failure of The Amazing Spider-Man movie. I read this comic and see that Peter Parker had a wonderful relationship with his Aunt and Uncle. In that movie, he is constantly arguing with Uncle Ben. Now I was able to see in that movie that they loved each other but there was still a disconnect to the source material that should not have been ignored. Do I need the sappiness this issue presented? No. I think Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie had the perfect balance of honoring the source material while also accepting the fact that people who love each other can argue at times.
Movies are their own unique beasts. Alan Moore had gone on record for his Watchmen comic as stating that it never should have been made into a movie. He wrote it specifically to be a comic. Too often you see movies that are based on comics that do nothing more than take on the spirit of the comic. Sometimes they get away with that such as Tim Burton’s Batman. Sometimes there are massive failures like every time the Fantastic Four was put on film. Ignoring the basics of the source material can spell disaster if you don’t have love for the material to begin with. While Andrew Garfield was pretty good as Peter Parker, I don’t think he was given the best material to work with. Too much of the story had changed. They wanted to make a Spider-Man film without the basic elements that made Spider-Man great. Well, at least Marvel Studios has Spidey back where he belongs.
You can never go wrong with Batman. Unless it’s a Joel Shumacher film but I digress. I decided to check out the Batman Day comic that was given out for free in the iBook store which carried issue 1 of the Endgame story line. It starts off with a strange smoke covering Gotham City. From there, all hell breaks loose as various heroes, under the influence of someone or something attack Batman.
The story does a decent job of ratcheting up the tension, bringing obstacle after obstacle Batman’s way. Just when you think he’s about to overcome a particular person, something else comes along keeping him from getting the heroes in question to actually think about what is going on.
The art work is pretty solid this issue. The characters are drawn in the traditional fashion which makes the characters quite crisp and realistic. It gives the characters a chance to emote emotions otherwise not shown if it were drawn in the latest sloppy style that seems to be all the rage. I also liked the scope of the locations. It really felt like the characters were in actual locations, you got a real sense of space. Too often in comics the scenes appear to be located in what appears to be movie sets, unrealistically small settings that don’t fit the action that is happening on the page. This felt like a movie which I think accomplishes its goal.
Yet again we have a story that is the first part of a much longer story. I get that comics today do not really start and end with one issue. They don’t need to either if they are told right. Comics must be told in a way that acknowledges the fact that the person buying a particular issue needs to be convinced to buy the next issue. There needs to be more desperation on the creators part to want to get readers interested not only in how the story turns out but in the entire back story as well. And you have one comic book which is approximately around the 20 page mark to do so. There are some masters at doing this, Brian Bendis being one that comes to mind from the current batch of comic writers. Scott Snyder, the writer of this issue, is pretty good as well but to use a baseball analogy, he struck out big time with this issue.
I had no real sense of what was going on. We start off at the tail end of a previous story which as a reader I was given no real encouragement to want to read because they didn’t give me a reason to do so. From there he starts fighting Wonder Woman, Aqua-Man, and Superman while under the illusion that that are being affected by gas from The Scarecrow. It turns out he is wrong. The heroes in question were drugged by The Joker.
My question is….HOW THE FUCK COULD THE JOKER DO THAT? I get that The Joker is a master criminal for someone of Batman’s caliber. But taking on a god like Wonder Woman or getting close enough to Superman to infect him? I just don’t buy it. My opinion could easily be changed with other issues in this particular story but I still find that to be a failure.
Now admittedly I have not read much current DC material apart from the Court of Owls and Death of the Family stories from Batman comics. I would like to know how Superman has become so damn ineffective against criminals. Too many stories from the current generation of DC stories that I have read have involved Superman being manipulated by criminals and I have to wonder why. It’s great and all that they want to take a character with pretty much unlimited powers and find ways to show that he has weaknesses so he can be somewhat relate able but making him so easy to be manipulated just makes him dangerous. He has good intentions but when someone with his power can be made to do evil things so easy why should we be anything but terrified of him?
I would have been upset if I had paid for this comic. This is not good. Maybe the other issues in this story would change my opinion somewhat but still, the first issue needs to entice readers to want to know more of what is going on. I felt lost and confused from page one on. For that I have to give the story a 3.
The art work is what redeems this. The artwork for all the Batman series from the New 52 line has been pretty damn good. It has great scope, appears to be situated in real locations, and is not sloppy, allowing the characters to show real emotion. I give the artwork an 8.
I wanted to take a quick break from the Secret Invasion to talk about a comic that I fell in love with from issue 1. Ms. Marvel. When I first heard of what they had planned for this comic my first instinct was to cringe. Sometimes entertainment companies, in an effort to try and widen their audience, will set about creating something that appeals to a specific audience and in doing so create something that no one will like. But the creators of this comic have done their homework and have done it quite well. All the characters in the story feel real and are quite well created. The latest issue (from six months ago) was just released on the Marvel Unlimited app so here is my review.
This issue was kind of low key in a good way. The traditional comic book aspects of it are actually more distraction to the human story at hand which is not a bad thing. You start off at home with Kamala Khan and her family. They tell her some friends will be coming over with their son and she instantly reacts with scorn. Seems she feels her parents want to set her up with a boy of their choosing and like any kid she instantly rejects the idea.
Once she meets the guy however her opinion changes thanks to video games. They play the same game and discover they have other shared interests. The connection between the two seems quite real and I really enjoyed how the writer, G. Willow Wilson, made the instant connection seem real as well as making the reaction of the family quite real as well. Kamala and her family are Islamic and I absolutely LOVE (I had to go teenager girl internety with my writing there) how they’ve seamlessly blended their faith into the story without it seeming forced. It actually leads Kamala to continue as Ms. Marvel in earlier issues when her Imam pretty much comes out and tells her that as long as what she is doing does not break the rules of the Quran and is actually helping people than she should continue what she is doing.
If there is one group in our country that has been shit upon continuously without let up since 9/11 it has been the Islamic community. No group should have to suffer for the actions of a few bad apples but apparently in our country politicians feel it’s ok to demonize a group as long as it gets them votes and helps the military industrial complex continue their unending war effort to keep profits up. No Christian would want to have the whole of their religion to be mixed in with the acts of someone like a Jim Jones. The same goes with members of the Islamic faith, contrary to what douchebags like Bill Maher and Sam Harris believe.
This comic does a wonderful job showing that an Islamic family is no different than a Christian Family, a Hindu family, an Atheist family. They are good people looking to make their way in life without hurting people. They want to raise their children to be good people and want to make sure they find the right people to marry so they can lead happy lives as well. You can argue about the tenants of anyone’s belief all you want but at the end of the day people should be judged on their actions, not the actions of other douchebags who give a bad name to a mutual shared belief.
The end of the issue was great because the boy that Kamala ends up with a crush on is revealed to be an Inhuman as well. The start of this series involved what was called a Terrigan Mist being released over New York and certain people ended up having latent alien DNA become awakened in them. Kamala had her powers activated and is under the watch of the Inhumans. Kamran, her new crush, catches Kamala after she made an appearance as Ms. Marvel, and reveals to her that the mist affected him as well. Yet one more thing that brings them both together. I can’t wait for the next issue.
The artwork is crude but for this comic I think it actually benefits the story. It feels like a fifteen year old drawing the stories of her life which I like. It has a charm you don’t see in other comics that feel that being sloppy is the new way to show action. My favorite piece of work in the issue was the nod to the original Superman movie where Kamala reveals she has her uniform on under her shirt. It has the feel of anime as well in that image but again, it adds to the charm of the story because you could imagine a fifteen year old girl drawing herself like that.
I usually include what I didn’t like in my reviews because honestly you can nitpick and everything. A painter could look at the Mona Lisa and see some strokes that are off or something else to show that a master painter like Da Vinci was human like the rest of us. But that still doesn’t take away from the fact that the Mona Lisa is a classic painting.
I could take the time to find something wrong with that issue but I feel that would be taking away from everything good this comic had. This is a comic series that I hope we’ll see honored on the big screen someday. This is a comic series I think has a real chance of being the next Spider-Man in the sense that thirty, forty, fifty years from now we’ll still be talking about it. When you have a series that is written and drawn as well as this series is, you enjoy it for what it is. What flaws it may have actually make the piece greater. If you have not done so yet, find an issue of Ms. Marvel, read it and enjoy. This is what makes comic books so great to read.
As promised, I said I would take a day a month or so to review a graphic novel. This month I’ve decided to talk about one of the greatest stories in comics history, The Death of Superman. What follows is not so much a review as it is just my thoughts about the character and my reaction to the story when it came out. While I could quibble and find something wrong with the story (you can find something objectively wrong with any story from any author), when something like this story is created that packs such a wallop in terms of pure emotion, you just have to sit back and enjoy it.
In 1992 I was a sophomore in high school. I was never a huge Superman fan growing up. Like most kids I’d watched Saturday morning cartoons and when Superman from Christopher Reeve played on television I would watch but Superman just never interested me. So when it was announced that Superman was going to be killed off I was shocked at how angry I was at the decision.
Why was I angry? I couldn’t really explain it at the time. What was it about the character that caused such a reaction?
As the saying goes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The world is a better place with Superman in it, even it it’s just in a comic book.
The comic is not so much a story but a study of what Superman would do if he had to face the most vicious beast he ever had to face. A beast who could take down a near invulnerable person in Superman is a fearsome creature to deal with indeed.
Having a simply image of a fist hitting a wall was a brilliant way to introduce the character. In the wrong hands they would have had Doomsday do something overly complicated to show how dangerous he was, with the end result being that you don’t believe in the character despite the best efforts of the writer and artist. The opening images of the comic is the work of genius.
The ending. What more can be said about the ending? The artwork is great.
That is a haunting image. A figure we’ve taken for granted since the late 1930’s met his match. You can’t but feel stunned at seeing someone who you held in high regard for so many years lying dead, battered and bruised almost beyond recognition.
After the comic came out I made more of an effort to follow the character. It wasn’t too long after this came out that Christopher Reeve, the man who embodied Superman for my generation, had his tragic accident which left him in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Being an ignorant douchebag at the time I made my fair share of jokes immediately after the accident. But his courage, strength, and just pure good nature changed my opinion over the years to the point that when he passed away I shed tears like he was a member of my family.
I also gained a new appreciation for the films. The soundtrack alone was John William’s best work.
The music. My god, the theme song alone makes you think YOU are Superman. You want to rip your shirt off and hope your costume is underneath so you can fly around your living room.
Having grown up a James Bond fan I am not one who feels that another actor cannot bring more to a character simply because I associate one actor with that character. But you’d be hard pressed to find many folks who don’t think that Christopher Reeve embodied everything that was good about the character.
“Easy Miss. I’ve got you.”
“You’ve got me…who’s got you?”
This scene has to be one of my favorite scenes in movie history, up there with the reveal that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Any other actor could have screwed this scene up by simply not taking it seriously. The genius of Christopher Reeve’s portrayal was that he truly believed in the character and everything it stood for. While the character could be a little innocent at times, a little corny, his intentions were pure and meant for the good of mankind.
I think it was that line of thought that brought about DC to consider killing off the character even temporarily. Sometimes you don’t realize what something means to you until it’s taken from you. The absolute beauty of this comic is that in his death, you appreciate everything that is good about the character of Superman. His place in our culture is well deserved. The world is a better place for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s creation. Superman’s death in this comic makes you appreciate everything that character represents. This is why comics are made. If you only read one comic in your life, make it The Death of Superman.
After an almost full week of Marvel reviews, thanks to coming across some comics at a local second hand store I will review my first comic from DC. The only reason I’ve been reviewing so much Marvel Comics is due to my subscription of Marvel Unlimited. (http://marvel.com/comics/unlimited) With so many comics at my disposal from one company, logic states that I will gravitate towards them so I can actually have something to do with this blog. But my love for other companies is certainly there. In fact one of my first exposures to comics was Saturday Morning cartoons.
And of course growing up how could I not miss these?
While I have a certain affinity for Marvel Comics, let’s be honest here. Competition makes everyone better. If DC were the only game in town they’d get lazy because they would know they wouldn’t have to compete with anybody. Where else would an audience go? A person would have to be a complete moron if they stuck with simply one company for their comic entertainment. So with that, let’s get to our story.
From the start I was happy to see Richard Donner was involved in the creation of this comic. I don’t see why anyone reading a review of a comic book but if you happen to not know, let me tell you. Richard Donner directed the first Superman with Christopher Reeve. He also directed a large portion of Superman 2 but due to differences with producers did not finish that product (despite the fact that some of the footage he shot where he made a cameo stayed in the movie.) Richard has filmed some of the greatest stories in Hollywood going all the way back to the original Twilight Zone and the classic episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet with William Shatner. His wife helped produce the X-Men films. Her assistant at the time, Kevin Feige, ended up running Marvel Studios. So to say Richard Donner has had a tremendous impact on comics is putting it quite mildly.
The story was well written. While it left off with a To Be Continued, it was written so well you wanted to read more. Because of Donner’s involvement I think it’s no coincidence that the story feels like it is a part of the Superman movie world. Little things like Clark pushing up his glasses with one finger and Perry White screaming for Jimmy Olsen to get him some coffee were a great nod to the movie.
I also liked the element of the new arrival from outer space that scientists determine if from Krypton. Superman’s motivation throughout is that of someone who’s lonely who would do absolutely anything to be with someone of his own kind. You could easily imagine someone who was adopted for example traveling the globe at the chance of finally meeting a member of their actual birth family.
I also liked when Superman got pissed. When the government got involved and took the new arrival away to do god knows what, he finds them in Washington and damn near threatens a man with his heat vision to tell him where the kid in question is. That clearly set up that while Superman is accepted for the most part by the government, deep down there is a mistrust between the both of them. Superman knows that the only reason he’s not being experimented on or being used as a weapon of mass destruction is because he can burn their damn faces off where they stand. Who would stop him?
The art in the piece seemed a little rushed. Having said that I dug how it evoked the feel of the movie. This could have easily been Superman 7 if Richard Donner had stayed director of the series.
This is just quibbling but the art could have been better. While it had it’s good points like I mentioned above it just felt too sloppy at the end. Too many comics today have that rushed look when it comes to their art that just distracts me from the overall experience.
There really isn’t much to dislike with this issue. While the cover above was the issue I picked up, keep in mind this story actually appeared in Action Comics #844. It is part of a bigger story that I wanted to finish up so after I am done writing this, I will head to Amazon and buy the other issues. The story I give a 10. The art I give a 7. If you come across this story it will be well worth your time.