December 1st to 2nd Youtube Roundup : Dr. Von Chilla + Price Increases+Bendis+ Social Justice!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gswkW9as0M4

 

Under the heading “Don’t drink and Youtube” 🙂  – Dr. Von-Chilla went on a bit of a tirade regarding people speculating on comics and buying comics based on movie, tv news. Which I can get behind his feelings on that.

He also threw in there, ‘Brown chicks taking over for white guy superheroes’, which I think is a whole separate argument that I don’t get behind.

Now I know Dr. Von Chilla is not one of those anti social justice warrior nut-cases, who were hating on creators like Mark Waid and Ta-Nehisi Coates and Dan Slot, but that issue he brings up of characters changing, is one of the arguments of this mob.

It is that faulty ‘anti social justice warrior’ thinking.

If you do not like social justice warriors, you should not be reading superhero comics, because Superman, Batman, and Captain America in their origins were Social Justice Warriors. Before there was a term for it, these characters in the Golden Age were taken it to the fat cat businesses and corrupt syndicates and regimes that were sticking it to the little guy. From slum lords to Nazis the comics of the 1930s 1940s were all about saying things about what was wrong in the world. Far more courageously I might add, than most books do today.

So to hate on today’s comics for doing the same thing is to be disingenuous at best, and a moron at worst.

Now that’s me going on a tirade against people with an issue with Social justice concepts in comics. Here’s the thing, not all comics are for you or for me.

We have our preferences and there is nothing wrong in wanting to stick to that. What is wrong, is to not allow others there preference.

If the publishers can sell new characters to new populations, great for them, if they can spike sales of existing story-lines, by changing up the character, great for them (changing up not being the same thing as a mashup, which is what they are doing wrong today). That is nothing new. After the first 110 issues of the original IRON MAN he got in a rut. Back in the 80s… the creators, to get him out of this rut, wrote a FANTASTIC very long storyline where Tony Stark, became an alcoholic, stopped being IRON MAN, and James Rhodes became IRON MAN. And those were STELLAR issues from the 1980s. For my money the only issues, along with the original 110 issues, worth owning.

The same thing happened in GREEN LANTERN, the book was going nowhere after Neal Adams’ departure in issue 89 (IT SHOWS YOU HOW MUCH NEAL ADAMS BROUGHT TO THE BOOK AND THAT HE WAS A HUGE PART OF THE CREATIVE DIRECTION, BECAUSE WHEN HE LEFT EVEN THOUGH THE WRITER DENNY ONEIL STAYED, THE BOOK WAS UTTER CRAp. THE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS STORYLINES THAT MADE AND STILL MAKE THEIR PARTNERSHIP SO GOOD, WENT BY THE Way-side AND THE BOOK DEVOLVED INTO A BORING BOOK. AND I LIKE DENNY ONEIL AS A WRITER, BUT WITHOUT NEAL ADAMS HE DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THESE CHARACTERS. I SPECIFY THESE CHARACTERS BECAUSE HE DID VERY WELL ON BATMAN AFTER NEAL’S DEPARTURE) .

THE BOOK WAS BAD A LONG TIME AND DID NOT GET GOOD AGAIN UNTIL ABOUT #172 when writer Len wein comes aboard and started to direct the book back to earth, and replacing Hal Jordan with John Stewart. LIKE ALWAYS THE LATE, GREAT LEN WEIN WOULD BE CALLED IN TO HELP RIGHT A SINKING SHIP, AND WITH THE HELP OF HIS ARTIST WOULD COMPLETELY REVAMP IT, AND BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO the series.

AND ONCE HE GOT THE BOOK winning again, WEIN would turn iT OVER TO ANOTHER WRITER TO CARRY THE book to the championships (to toss in a sports comparison).

HE DID THAT WITH THE X-MEN, fixing it and HANDING IT OFF TO CHRIS CLAREMONT AND HE DOES THAT HERE WITH GREEN LANTERN… fixing it and HANDING IT OFF TO STEVE ENGLEHART AND JOE STATON, till about issue 200, with wonderful Joe Staton art and great Englehart stories, along with the ONeil/Adams run… those are my favorite issues of GREEN LANTERN to this day.

SO IF LOOKING TO COLLECT GREEN LANTERN IN MY Humble OPINION YOU GET ISSUES 42 to 80, then 172 to 200. Use the following link(YOU GET GREAT BOOKS, AND YTOU EARN A FEW PENNIES FOR THIS BLOG TO KEEP THE LIGHTS ON. A WIN-WIN!):

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?tid=179931&pgi=1&AffID=200301P01

 

https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/680115.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/4749311.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/679549.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/899707.jpgGreen Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 52Green Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 53Green Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 54https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/680145.jpg

https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/681251.jpgGreen Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 57Green Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 58Green Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 59Green Lantern (1960-1988 1st Series DC) 60https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/679569.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/680191.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/680199.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/679611.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/612061.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/800569.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/1081095.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/867585.jpghttps://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/804069.jpg

And they were experiments, creators tossing stuff at the wall and seeing what stuck. They were allowed that freedom in the 1980s, they should be allowed that freedom today.

The ones that do not appeal to you, don’t buy. Like me I no longer buy Marvel Comics in monthly form. I think to pay over $3 for Marvel’s horrendous paper quality, and obvious attempt to milk the speculator market rather than create good stories is asinine.  And their obvious editorial mandate to create new characters, mashup characters, to get the mindless speculators, to buy cosmic ghostrider, or phoenix wolverine, or Thor venom, or Hulk Wolverine; is not creative, it is actually them in real ways making of themselves a horrible parody and joke. The same for DC, to a lesser degree, ever since Bendis went over there. He’s a good writer, but I find him more trojan horse at DC, bring the fratboy idocy, and disrespect for readers intelligence and pockets, that he championed while at Marvel.

No sooner he is over there and DC raises its prices to $3.99. So yeah these days, with Marvel and Dc, if I hear good things about a story, I’ll check it out at my library when collected or pick up the trade online. But as far as monthly books, you just get a whole lot more bang for your back from Independents like Image, Dark Horse, IDW, After-Shock, etc. DC and MARVEl, the two companies that realistically can afford to keep the price point of new comics at $2.99 or less, are the ones driving the price up($4,$5,$6,$7 is unsupportable, when realistically speaking most of these books will end up in dollar bins in a few years. It is bad business from the big two.)

So these days companies like Alterna and Chapterhouse who sell books for under $3, are the ones I am happy to purchase everything they sell. For me they are the future of comics.

So alll that to say, there are hundreds of comics released every month, there is no shortage of Alternatives.

And quite frankly to expect Superman or Captain America of today to appeal to you the same way as the Superman of your childhood did, and never allowed to experiment or change that character is moronic.  Characters change, writers changes, the audiences they write for likewise change.

You hate slabbing. Don’t slab. You hate variant covers don’t buy variant covers. (Quick aside : I’m not a huge fan of either of those things. I think pressing comics, while it removes imperfections from the cover, is PROVEN to shorten the lifespan of the interior newsprint pages. I think it is people moronically pursuing short term goals, at the expense of the longevity of the actual book. People are going to unslab these books in several years and find pristine covers over deteriorating interior pages, especially as it relates to older books. Newsprint+moisture+heat=mistake. Every single time.

But hey  if people want to continue doing this even after being informed of the potential damage (every single person you see pressing on youtube, presses differently. Different ranges of heat, different amounts of moisture, different drying time before slabbing. I guarantee you 99% of the people slabbing comics are doing more harm than good, and are making a mold infused mess rather than preserving a collectible. It is all experimentation and guess-work with the lot of them.

If you were to do it perhaps to salvage a book that already had interior water damage, I would only use CGCs  original service, rather than one of these diy -let me get my iron out -guys. Also going through CGC you have some potential recourse through your insurance company  if things go wrong. Better than some of these guys who are doing pressing at their kitchen sink. Okay that may have been a long aside. 🙂 )

 You hate new characters or change to your existing characters, don’t read those characters. Read the 80 years of back issues, or choose new comics to support. It is not that effing difficult, it is not effing brain surgery, it only becomes a problem when you want YOUR choices to be the only choices everyone else has available. That is the problem I have with the anti social justice warrior nuts.

They think their right to hate something, should supersede someone else’s right to love something.

Don’t tell me the things you hate. Tell me the things you love, and that is how you move the needle.

It is what is great about the Youtube comic community. A lot of people sharing their loves, has inspired me to buy a LOT of books this year. People telling me what they hate, has not gotten me to drop a single book, or change a single purchasing decision. I decide for myself what is worth hating, and I hate very few things. I dislike a lot. I have no interest in reading books or watching tv shows about trans or gay characters. I’m not saying these books or Tv shows shouldn’t not exist,  OR THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT, but I have no interest in them IN MY COMICS OR MY TV SHOWS. So AFTER THE FIRST SEASOn of supergirl tv show (which i enjoyed) I dropped out of the second season, because it was too much soap opera bs about her sister coming out. no interest. same thing with arrow, mr. terrifics relationship i think is out of place and just detracts from the show, etc.

so instead I just find something I like, to watch or read.  SO while I may dislike or avoid many  things, I hate very few. Your hate is not something I catch from you, like the cold.

But tell me of the things you love, and that I will check out, to see if I love it too.

Dr. VonChilla, knows this. Because I have watched his videos where he introduces us to books he loves. And some of those books I’ve bought.

That’s how you change the world for the better Dr. Von Chilla… one great recommendation at a time.

 

 

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TV Show of the Day : LUKE CAGE SEASON 2 by Cheo Hodari Coker

Cheo Hodari Coker’s 1st Season of Luke Cage was one of my favorite TV shows of 2016, right up there with the excellent Noah Hawley LEGION. They were each in their own way, game changing and ground breaking TV.

Mike Colter in Luke Cage (2016)

LEGION largely for its visuals and innovative storytelling, and Coker’s LUKE CAGE for in many ways being one of the few shows to offer a multitude of characters of colors in non-stereotypical ways, and with innovative roles, with unfettered storytelling. One of my favorite shots in the 1st season of LUKE CAGE, was four strong, upstanding women of color, captured in one great shot. Not as prostitutes, not as rappers, not as comedians,  but as heroes. Likewise their male counterparts were admirably done.

LUKE CAGE, the series, sings/rewards…  largely because of those conversation of books in the barbershop, those conversations on playwrights and writers. Those things, those conversations, that mostly uninformed people (who mainly know Blacks via the stereotypes they have consumed through mass media), would right off as preachy, or talky, or unrealistic, those are the conversations, that immediately sang for me, and clued me to the greatness of this show.

As someone who grew up in those Barbershops, those conversations are very true, to how many of us escaped the traps of the street, and found our way to something… better.

Always Forward.

If SEINFELD can be acclaimed for being, in places, a show about nothing, we should allow that same latitude to a serious show such as LUKE CAGE, that uses those seemingly frivolous nothings about the writers, and the artist, and the books, and the music; to say profound somethings.

Of All the Netflix shows, it is the only one that says something more profound, than the standard super-hero or for that matter action or drama tropes. It says something about the world outside our door, and how to meet it. Not preachy, not banal, and never losing the joy and beauty we can find, despite the dire days, and the dangerous nights.

It is the balance of crime and charm, violence and virtue, war and wit, that can sing, to those with ears. And it withstands repeated viewings better, because of all those layers you can view it on.

Cheo Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE is one of the best written and most innovative and ground breaking shows to come along in years for precisely this reason. It takes you the place all great writing should, beyond your prejudices, your assumptions, your comfort zone.

For my money it is one of the best of the Marvel/Netflix TV shows, right up there with the first season of DAREDEVIL. But edges it out, because I find the characters in LUKE CAGE, especially the protagonists, far more interesting and likable. DAREDEVIL’s main characters are various stages of unlikeable and annoying.

Add to that Coker’s plot has something valuable and timely and timeless to say about our world, that transcends bad guy fights good guy. There is a complexity to the storyline and the conflicts, that rewards repeated viewings.

Ten episodes in and that complexity remains for Season 2 of LUKE CAGE. It is not perfect, I can do with less Alfre Woodard, particularly her and the character of Shades getting intimate, I can really do without. I never really buy Shades attraction to Woodard’s character, and the more they try to sell it, the less it works for me. Also Alfre’s unhinged performance, while I get it.. she is Lady Macbething it up, for me it is too much. She is always in her twitches, and sputterings, always at eleven, always wildly and uncomfortably out of control, which for my own taste would have been better dialed back to 4 or 5. Also the poster for season 2 is absolute garbage, whoever came up with that poster should be fired. It is that inept of a poster. Right up there with the HANCOCK boxart and poster.

But those minor weakness aside, LUKE CAGE season 2, following strongly in the footsteps of Season 1 is crushing it; the story and performances shine, and like season 1 it has the best soundtrack of the year. Ten episodes in and I’m loving it… Grade: B+.

More to come as I watch the last few episodes.

 

Netflix/Marvel Studios 2017 IRON FIST Episode #1 Review!






Iron Fist Movie Poster

The last of the long awaited DEFENDERS heroes, IRON FiST breaks on the Netflix shores this Weekend, and my opinion? Well After Loving the first season of DAREDEVIL with some minor hiccups in the later episodes, Really enjoying JESSICA JONES, being Lukewarm on the 2nd season of DAREDEVIL, and LOVING Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE: POWERMAN, I find the first episode of IRON FIST… underwhelming.

 

The trailers were the first hiccup as I found them tedious rather than exciting, and tedium is not what you expect from what should be a Martial Arts rich show. The action looked unimpressive, and the casting, especially of the protagonist gave me cause for concern. He looked unimpressive rather than what he should be… a living weapon.

But trailers can steer you wrong, and hoping to be proven wrong I watch the first episode of IRON FIST. What hits you is the opening sequence, one thing all the Marvel/Netflix collaborations have gotten right is an absolutely great opening/credit sequence. The IRON FIST opening sequence by comparison looks like an unfinished product, a bad joke. An unfocused concept that they simply ran out of time and ended up just throwing something together.

 

 

Getting beyond the disappointment of the Credit Sequence, I like the opening shot of the barefoot hero in New York, a shout out to the Master of Kung Fu Comic’s of the 70s.

 

Quirky but in reality do you know how impossibly disgusting it would be to walk around the streets of New York or any major city in your bare feet?! There are things I fear to step on, even with shoes on. But again it’s a harmless if ludicrous call back to the comics of yesteryear.

 

What immediately impresses me is how much better Finn Jones is as Danny Rand, than the trailers hinted at. He has a likable and commanding presence, that is at the heart of the character, and he is choreographed to move with an effortless balletic grace that speaks volumes of his character and journey.

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

 

Indeed, Jones as Danny Rand is pretty much, contrary to my thoughts on the trailer, rather than being the weakest thing about the show, in this episode he is the strongest thing. He is very affable, which above all is the saving grace of his character, and in many ways distances him from the other more brooding members of the Defenders.

With the exception of Luke Cage, who beneath his bullet proof skin has, like Danny Rand, the heart of an optimist and a poet. Unlike the bone breaking Daredevil or the oft alcoholic and fatalist Jessica Jones, Power Man and Iron Fist don’t want to hurt their fellow man, they want to help them, make them better; Even, if possible, their villains. It’s why those two work so well as a duo in the comics. Particularly the wonderful David Walker and Sanford Green POWERMAN AND IRONFIST comics that started in 2016.

 

Finn Jones gets the character of Danny Rand, The Iron Fist. Underneath the affable nature of Jones portrayal, there is something you see in his first closeup (when he is trying to get in to be seen) a core of steel, something unyielding that completely sells him in a way the trailer did not.

So the Danny Rand portion of the first episode works well, it is a lot of setup, and I don’t mind setup, if it is done well, and written well, and brought across well, I thought the first two epiosdes of LUKE CAGE, which some considered talky, I felt were two of the finest written hours of television of 2016.

ASIDE ON  LUKE CAGE SERIES AND COLOR CODED TELEVISION

(I’m about to get deep into media bias, particularly as it relates to ethnicity, so feel free to skip the following aside, the ending of it is marked, and continue on with the Iron Fist review)

 

Coker’s LUKE CAGE said wonderful truths that you usually don’t get with ethnic characters, because mostly ethnic characters on television are nothing more than Black faces spouting and reaffirming White messages . Messages which whether BUFFY or SUPERGIRL Season 2 or DOCTOR WHO or NEXT GENERATION all tend to be some variation on the wish fulfillment of its writers or worse the unconscious coded messages that they unknowing have accepted as truths, namely White female initially falls for Ethnic Character than comes to her senses and dumps him for a White character.
If that plotline plays out in one show, that’s fine, that’s life, stuff happens. However, if that plot-line plays out in every single show where a white female is romantically tied to a man of color, then that is no longer sharp, inventive writing, or originality, it is programming, played over and over again until we stop seeing it, but keep believing it.
In Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE you got writing that was shorn of that very racist programming that makes up 90% of the shows we see on TV, and the output of even our best writers. By no measure do I think Joss Whedon is racist, however he reuses the above pattern of racial politics when it comes to the romantic lives of the men of color he scripts from FIREFLY to BUFFY to AGENTS OF SHIELD to AGENT CARTER. At some point any romantic light he casts the men of color he scripts, any momentum to a healthy heterosexual relationship, particularly with a female of another ethnicity has to be derailed. Their identification as a sexual alpha, derailed. Mac on AGENTS OF SHIELD becomes comedy relief, rather than what he should be on that show… the Mac.
And like I said you would be hard pressed to not see this very strange repetition of sexual marginalization and symbolic castration (fit to be comedy relief or the non-threatening buddy or father figure but not the romantic interest) occur over and over to men of color in just about every dramatic show you can name, particularly the action oriented ones. Whether BUFFY, AGENT CARTER, AGENTS OF SHIELD, NEXT GENERATION, ER, ROSEWOOD, SUPERGIRL, FIREFLY.  Such bias extends even to our news and ‘reality programming’, the fact that over 20 years later the media is still lynching OJ Simpson (A famous Black man accused of murdering a white woman) while in the intervening years there has been no shortage of murdered spouses. However this particular case accomplishes familiar goals of America, the tearing down of idols, the vilification of the other, and a platform to use an individual act, to try to send a message to a whole mass of people. It’s a lynching, writ large, 20th and 21st century style.
And by contrasts it has been envogue for the last 20 years to pair White Males successfully with women of color, pair being perhaps too equal a term, more like have the woman of color fling herself at the White Male, whether that’s FLASH, JAMES BOND, WALKING DEAD, TAKEN, EMERALD CITY, and again a couple of times it is just original storytelling, but for this pattern to be a constant over the last 20 years, then that is something else, that is programming.

 

So I’m always drawn to the shows that eschew these programming ploys, these repeated coded messages. So that is why I hold shows like LUKE CAGE in such high regard. A show where a man of color, a Black man, can be a hero and get the girl, full stop. It’s a rare concept in a mass media that is so racist it is not aware of how rare they have by design, made that concept.
Name me ten Dramatic shows (not comedies) on TV right now where a lead character of color, is in a successful healthy relationship with a female, particularly of another ethnic group. You’d be hard pressed to name 2. But you can name dozens upon dozens of shows that are cast and written the other way. Even though statistics tell us there are far more Black Male/White female relationships than White Male/Black Female relationships.
So why would the fiction of mass media be so contrary and completely out of sync with the realities of the populations watching those fictions? Because invariably the writers, who mostly are white males, propagate their limited definitions of diversity while also crafting their wish fulfillment, which usually breaks down to our White Hero is ‘so enlightened’ because he deigns to have a Black girlfriend, and the Black Girlfriend who has to throw herself at him.
Like I said, once or twice, it is original, however all the time, the same way, it is programming and it is insulting.

 

END OF ASIDE

Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE : POWER MAN brilliantly gave us something more than the programming we have been used to, showed us Netflix as a channel where more original and more truly DIVERSE stories could be told.

It left big foot prints for the next show, IRON FIST, to follow in.

And without expecting IRON FIST to be ground breaking, or anti- stereotype and ANTI programming, I did expect it to be good.

Unfortunately the first episode of IRON FIST suffers because its lack of action is not compensated for by rich and compelling characters, or evocative acting. Case in point… Ward and his father.

There is nothing more derailing to a narrative, than a weak antagonist, and unfortunately in Ward and his Father you have two very boring and uninteresting and cookie cutter antagonists. Ward came off as just a petulant child, a whiner, and whiners do not make for great TV.

The scene with Ward and his Dad discussing Danny Rand, rather than riveting is the definition of tedious. I had to look at the clock, to see how much time was left before I could watch something else.

That is never what you want to be doing when watching a show, looking at your clock.

So,  between the pacing issues, and the casting issues, and the uninteresting bad guys, I’m solidly unexcited to move on to the next episode. And that’s not an issue I have had with the previous shows.

I hope to work my way through the series and all the way to the end, and I hope I can report it gets great, but for the first episode all I can give it is a …

Grade: C-

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

The Answer to FERGUSON

The answer to Feguson’s latest headline making descent into a Jim Crow south is the same as it was to that first headline. The answer is not simply protesting or marching or, worse, just taking to the streets as a mob.

No, the answer has to be something… better.

The answer is economics married to a good memory of the people in positions of authority in Ferguson, who have abused that authority. Ferguson is an overwhelmingly Black township. So this population speaking with their wallets and purses, boycotting any business that does not sign a petition calling for an immediate censure and removal of those involved (from officer, commanding officer, prosecuting attorney, presiding judge, mayor, and up) will elicit change that no amount of lipservice or tirades will.

And it’s about that population stepping up and once they have defined an economic base, forging a political base. The young people have to be the law enforcement, and the fire fighters, and the lawyers, and the politicians, because someone must hold the line, and if you would not have it be your enemy then you must fill those positions with yourself and your peers.

If you want to change the person always on one end of the gun, you must change the person… on the other.

Reprisals of a financial and political order.

Where Ferguson does your local Walmart, or McDonalds, or KFC, or mass transit or auto-shop or grocery… stand on this latest injustice? Find out, and boycott the ones not with you, and let the rest of America know and boycott with you.

Let them know… this far, no further.

Here beginneth the lesson.

COMIC OF THE DAY: Al Ewing and Greg Land’s MIGHTY AVENGERS and the Black White Nick Fury?!


Marvel Comics.

MIGHTYAVN2013001_HitchVar

You know them? They are owned by Disney, they are brother to Marvel Studios that produces those box office shattering movies that have been all the rage for the last several years.

Well Marvel Comics while not the money maker of the film or video division, is the idea-space for those other mediums, and as such has an importance that belies its modest publishing revenue. As such, they are not going any place.

That said they could be doing better. But at every turn the publishing arm seems to be almost antagonistic to their customer base.

Tactics such as over-saturation of the market and expensive cover price of its titles ($4 is way too much to pay for an ad strewn comic with no additional content) translates into the audience (me) making a conscious choice to avoid all their books at best, and limit my consumption to one or two titles at worst.

Enter… THE MIGHTY AVENGERS.

THE MIGHTY AVENGERS by Al Ewing and the criminally castigated and underrated Greg Land is my favorite Marvel Comic, and the only one I purchase monthly.

Now don’t get me wrong there are other Marvel books I like, Aaron’s THOR, Remender’s CAPTAIN AMERICA and UNCANNY AVENGERS, the new MOON KNIGHT and IRON FIST has me interested, and if all those titles were $2.99 rather than $3.99 I would pick them all up. But I really do feel if any company can successfully ‘hold the line at $2.99′[an euphemism for not raising prices]… it is Marvel Comics, and their refusal to do so… is a misplaced arrogance, a belief that the entrenched fan-base will buy the books regardless.

It is a price gouging mentality, and I am proof to the contrary.

Rather than them getting $15 a month from me for five $2.99 comics, they get $3.99 for one comic. That greed, that one dollar extra cover price, has cost them $11 from me, $11 that now gladly goes to Image Comics or Dark Horse Comics.

And more than that, I am now trained to wait. I’ll wait till a Marvel series gets collected and is available at my local library and I’ll read it for free. So yeah Marvel Comics, that $3.99 cover price… here is one concrete case where you have actually lost business because of it. So great job there.

And the one Marvel Comic that I do get, is Ewing and Land’s MIGHTY AVENGERS.

Al Ewing creating a frenetic and pulp-inspired book that every month delivers a satisfying story, and one of the only books on the stands that offers multiple characters of color, treated respectfully (rather than as punch-line’s such as other Marvel Books are doing. Example being ‘Nick Fury’ gate. :).

Movies made workable the character of Nick Fury, by using the popularity of actor Samuel Jackson.

Now Marvel Comics wants to integrate that successful character from the movies with the 1960s comicbook version. So the brilliant way Marvel Comics decides to do that is by labeling the Black Nick Fury as the ‘son’ of the White Nick Fury. Wtf? Really? :).

That’s the direction you’re going? Can you say demeaning, bigoted and stupid? Hey Marvel here’s a solution for you… How about they are both just Nick Fury, with no relationship to each. Nick Fury being a title, like ‘Christopher Chance’ that gets passed to whoever is worthy. Took me two seconds to come up with a better way for both Nick Fury’s to coincide without demeaning and denigrating the Samuel Jackson version.

Who would have thought it would be the movie Marvel Universe that would get it right, and the comic-book Marvel Universe that would increasingly be the disappointment.)

Which is why Al Ewing’s MIGHTY AVENGERS is such a treat and a surprise. Despite being hamstrung with having to participate in Marvel’s various events (could not be less interested in Marvel’s Crossovers) Al Ewing manages to use the handicap of the crossover as a springboard to tell his own highly imaginative and absorbing tales of werechickens (don’t laugh, it’s pretty cool)and inter-dimensional evils, while at its heart always being a very generational story. A book that is about… Fathers and Sons.

Add to this Greg Land, who has had to suffer the recriminations of people with not a fiftieth of his talent, self styled art ‘critics'(parrots jumping on a bandwagon) who unable to create art, and ignorant even of the process, yet think themselves schooled to heckle their betters.

If you think Greg Land uses ‘porn stars’ for some of his inspiration, I would say two things to you, 1/ who cares and 2/you probably watch way too much porn. :).

Every artist from Jack Kirby to Gene Colan had a little stock/trace file, for poses or buildings or cars or fashion. You know why? Because it is a bloody job and stock photography and images are tools, and drawing, making your deadlines, is a job. And being able to take those inspirations, regardless of where they come from, and craft a functional and beautiful story out of it, takes immense talent. Greg Land is an immense talent, and his work on MIGHTY AVENGERS is drop dead gorgeous, brimming as it is with 70s Indie Black Empowerment images.

mightyavengeers

So from writing to art, there is a one-two energy Ewing and Land have going here, that hopefully will continue for sometime. But when and if MIGHTY AVENGERS goes the way of other Marvel Titles, here’s hoping these guys create a similar creator owned title at Image.

I would love to see Al Ewing creating his own pulp-inspired or sci-fi tinged characters, and Greg Land drawing them. For all the good things Image has, a book with a majority of ethnic characters is not one of those things.

Perhaps it is time there was such a book.

So Marvel for all my bashing on them has to be applauded for THE MIGHTY AVENGERS. But if all involved really want the series to grow, 1/add a letters page and back-matter, 2/focus on stand-alone stories primarily, and 3/making it a $2.99 rather than $3.99 book wouldn’t work.

But other than that a fantastic read, month in and month out.

Oh and Al and Greg, two more suggestions, One/change the preamble that starts the book to be something with a little more import and oomph, and two/ Let Luke Cage take back the name Power Man. It’s a good name, and it’s his.

Thanks for reading and if intrigued by the above you can buy back copies of the Mighty Avengers or the Trades here:

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=24852602&affid=200301p0
http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=25358810&affid=200301p0

Enjoy!

TOP 5 DESERT ISLAND Directors! Part 1 of 3 Under Construction

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

This is an idea that the filmspotting podcast covered in their latest episode, and while they had intriguing choices it spurred me to a slightly different list and slightly different choices.

If you can only, for whatever reason, have the films of five directors to watch, on a desert island, for an uncertain amount of time, or for all time… what five directors do you choose? Fritz Lang? F.W. Murnau? Louis Feuillade? Alfred Hitchcock? David Lean? Orson Welles? Ousmane Sembene? Mary Harron?

They list very interesting choices, not as good as the names I list above (I’m joking), many of which I myself am a cheerleader for (Kurosawa, Howard Hawks), but it occurred to me that diversity, particularly when it came to Hollywood films, was a rare exception rather than a rule. And that concerned me because, if I am trapped on a deserted island with the filmography of only 5 directors, that I wanted the filmography of at least a couple of those directors to represent the ethnic width and breadth of the human condition. The beauty of a range of colors and women and cultures.

I being someone who even today gets bored with the lack of diversity of films, the idea of being stuck with films not representative of the larger world, and the rich tapestry of people in it, gave me pause. For all our berating of terms like political correctness (which when really defined is respect, so when people rail against political correctness what they are really arguing against is giving people respect) we have become a more intolerant and stratified society. And part of that I think has to do with our mass media. Our obsession with vilifying the other.

The (seemingly increasing) lack of diversity in recent films and television, being I think a dangerous sign of a tail wagging the dog society. Of a vocal minority calling for a return to ‘the good old days’ which, when finally viewed, never really were that good.

Hollywood has from its inception been a propaganda machine, where a few people’s fiction altered often negatively many people’s facts. And before discussing Desert Island directors, another discussion has to be had first… about the values of film. Not the value of film, but the values portrayed or reiterated or held dear, in perhaps too many films. We have to talk about exclusion and stereotyping in films beginnings, and in film’s present.

While willing to give a slight pass to pre-1960 films given their historic placement, I have less interest or sympathy for segregated and nearly Apartheid rich, post-1960 into 21st century, Hollywood films. Or worse the 21st century version of Step and Fetchit, black actors used to deliver White Messages. Be it MONSTERS BALL or TRAINING DAY it’s the eye-bulging, debasing, cartoonish extremes, that Black actors are saddled to wear, that hearkens to what is worst in cinema.

If the choice is between only debased caricatures… of people of color, ala Frank Darabont or David Ayer or practically no characters of color ala Woody Allen, I’ll take the latter evil. But ideally the filmmakers I want to support and revisit, are those who can represent characters of color with the same broad diversity we grant to the human race, the Michael Manns, the Carl Franklins, the Tony Scotts, the Gordon Parks.

This idea of us as hero and villain, Sexual and chaste, brilliant and imbecilic, honorable and flawed, important and funny, savior and victim. In the 21st century that diversity of roles is generally relegated to White actors. In the 21st century the number of Hollywood movies that portray characters of color with any of those positive aspects listed… are few and far between.

Even supposed mass market films like XMEN FIRST CLASS and SIN CITY reek of this ingrained stereotyping and caricature as truth, when it comes to the non-pale characters. And I could deal if this mentality and programming and white wish fulfillment was the occasional film, however in the last two decades it has become practically every film and tv show. The White hero has a woman of color pining for him, his backup girl typically. And the male actor of color, seldom a protagonist, and even less seldom does he get the girl, he is now relegated to comedy relief or side-kick; Rochester for the 21st century. Far have we drifted from the sexually virile Black stars of the 70s.

This creates a cinema of exclusion and to some extent, social engineering. Our facts are shaped by our fictions, arguably more than anything else, and a cinema of marginalization, legitimization and feminism of the male of color, bodes not well.

We are not DW Griffith we are not Cecil B. DeMills making entertainment for a virulently segregated, Jim Crow America. We have made some progress since then, and for filmmakers not to acknowledge that progress or that shifting audience, is to take a stance against that progress, and against that diverse viewing base.

We are not in the early days of the 20th century, we are in the early days of the 21st and while it is a filmmakers choice whether to be exclusionary or boring or homogeneous to a fault, you do so at the risk of failing to become a better filmmaker. You do so at the risk of making scared, redundant, and repetitive early 20th century films, here in the 21st century.

Well I’ve gone on about the pitfalls of cinema, here 15 years into the 21st century, now let’s discuss the strengths of film. The people I think are portraying an America and a world far more intune to the one I walk through, where heroes can be both Black and White.

In the Hollywood system the names are few, but welcome, and waiting… waiting for viewers, reviewers, actors, writer, producers, studios, and directors to recognize there is an inequity, a growing one, at the heart of our fictions, that much be addressed to make our cinema and ourselves… better.

Those filmmakers are (among others):

The late great Gordon Parks
The late great Tony Scott
The very much with us and Great Michael Mann
The very much with us and Great and underutilized Carl Franklin
Sergio Leonne
Ossie Davis

Very, very different directors, but what they were all able to do, sometimes for a single movie, sometimes for multiple movies, is something so rarely done in Hollywood today that it’s like there is an unofficial Hayes code prohibiting it…

…prohibiting having a movie with a character of color or Black character as both heroic protagonist and a male with a functioning libido, who doesn’t have to die or be sacrificed for the majority. 🙂

Outside of the great explosion of films in the 70s extending a bit into the 80s, and the subsequent eradication of locally controlled/independent theaters, The Heroic, virile Black hero has become a scare commodity on Theatrical screens.

Which is why when it gets done well… these days, such as in Peter Berg’s poorly named and badly marketed HANCOCK… the film becomes a wild success. Because there is a large population starved for empowering images of themselves. 2013 with its BUTLER and FRUITYVALE STATION and 12 YEARS A SLAVE, showcases Hollywood’s debasement attitude when it comes to theatrical releases. “Multiple characters of color? You better be a comedy, or telling us about getting your ass whupped.” 🙂 .

Hence 2013s abundance of films of victimization, while they should be valid stories that have their place, if you counter them with just as many films of triumph, or winning, or adventure, or thrilling action and heroism. However the Heroic Tale is a rare one, and that is the failing of the system we have to change. Without the heroic myth to contrast it, tales of victimization are just an assault, a tool, a club… to beat a population into shape.

— to be continued —

Podcast of the Day : A Black Fantastic Four?!? FLAME-ON!

PODCAST OF THE DAY : House To Astonish 120 – Nice discussion of comic and movie news. A Black actor playing one of the Fantastic Four in the upcoming movie? FLAME-ON! :).

Possibly not the choice that would have come to me, but the actor, script, and director will determine if its a great, inspired idea, or a mediocre one. I give them the benefit of the doubt. Idris Elba in Thor was a great decision, as was Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury, so this could be a great idea too.

Listen HERE!