Thursday, April 29, 2010

Open letter to Marvel Comics re: death of Nightcrawler

No spoiler alert because if you are worried about a character death being spoiled, get a life.

Okay, comic companies... enough. Just stop killing characters.

I was going to say stop killing off heroes to boost sales, but no. You have gone too far. I am now taking away all of your toys until you can learn to behave.

I am fucking sick of all of these pointless character death events. It is so fucking shallow and manipulative and it just makes me want to stop reading comics.

I didn't buy the death of Superman, Captain America, Batman, Cyclops, Colossus, Jean Grey (this time), or all of the rest of it. I knew that all of these characters will come back shortly. All you are doing is forcing someone to write a story later when they come back from the dead. The story will be tedious and the explanation will make no sense. If we are really unlucky, Nightcrawler will be brought back with new powers and a new attitude.

Fuck you. Just tell a fucking story, assholes!

Animated superhero movies

More news on the animated superhero front (this is starting to become a theme), DC Animation has suddenly announced the cancellation of many planned projects. The reason they site is poor sales on the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman movies.

Now, I thought Green Lantern was great. I'd love to see a sequel, but I'm not sure what they could do with it. The last one had the origin story and Sinestro as the villain. However, the Wonder Woman movie sucked. I'm just so tired of seeing Wonder Woman as a whiny feminist.


Not really. Feminism is a reaction to a masculine environment and Diana isn't from a masculine environment. Now, it would make perfect sense for her to adopt a somewhat feminist attitude, but you still have to think of it through an alien point of view and not make it conform to Steinem conceptions of feminism.

Anyway, because of this, they are canceling not only the proposed sequels but also Aquaman, Batgirl: Year One (an awesome comic), and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (a classic and somewhat inappropriate for kids comic).

This is a really dumb move and it sounds to me like the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. Clearly, these animated movies are not being developed for fans as much as for movie producers. They are kind of like high-budget storyboards for people who don't have enough imagination to look at a comic and see a movie.

Even if Wonder Woman failed, the point is to excite interest and create a prototype for a Wonder Woman movie. What DC should be doing is making animated movies of everything they want to market to Hollywood. Naturally, as much as I'd love to see Batgirl: Year One and watch it with my niece, it doesn't accomplish the larger goal of selling film properties.

In other animated superhero movie news, Marvel has announced that Shout! Factory is going to be their new distributor of animated movies. This is awesome because Shout! puts together a lot of excellent DVD packages and is kinda indie. They distribute Home Movies, Johnny Carson, Greg the Bunny, Inside the Actor's Studio, MST3K, and even stuff no one likes like The Goldbergs! So I don't know if Shout is selling out or Marvel is reaching for alternative venues. You decide.

Supposedly, this isn't just Marvel Animation, but Marvel Knights Animation. I'm wondering about the distinction. Marvel Knights was a line aimed at a more mature audience with a sophisticated take on (usually) failing properties. I wonder if there is any relation.

It looks like they'll be producing Astonishing X-Men: Gifted (based on Joss Whedon's script, but this is actually my least favorite of the four stories in his run), Iron Man: Extremis, Spider-Woman, and Black Panther.

... Hmmm... this sounds suspiciously like a "motion comic" to me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sea of Love

Feeling sad... but that's okay. Just wish I had someone to share it with.

Press play.

I heard a "sex worker" on my daily podcast this morning and I developed a little crush on her. Her name is Antonia Crane and she has an MA in creative writing. She pushed a couple buttons with me. It's not hard to do nowadays. I feel like Daredevil at the beginning of that crappy movie... like I have to get into an isolation tank so that my nerves aren't constantly overstimulated.

She spoke to something in me. She describes the pervasiveness of the sex industry as a reaction to "volcanic loneliness," that is to say, loneliness on the verge of exploding. But she also talked about the legal basis for the sex industry in that it is sex as a form of expression and therefore free speech.

It's the connection that it was all about. The host said he never indulges in sex for pay (unlike many of his peers), not for moral reasons, but because what he really wants is the intimate, emotional connection. She comes back to say that many people come to her precisely for an intimate connection they can't get elsewhere. Not a fuck. She describes banging a man in the ass with a strap-on and making him look in the mirror while she called him her bitch.

Most would look on that as a psychological disorder (and it probably is in one sense or another), but there is no doubt that it is a transformative experience... no matter which side of the strap-on you're on... and therefore artistic. In a moment of uncontrolled passion, they have switched the gender roles beyond role-reversal and into the extremes of sexual depravity... but reversed. That does something to your brain. That is an experience that is so extreme that you can't go back. You just have to tunnel through it and see what it makes of you.

I've come to realize that a large part of what I'm look for in love is an intellectual challenge. I am always looking for a woman who can keep up with me conversationally. But more than that, I'm looking for a woman who challenges the things I take for granted or the things about me which are "normal" simply because it is easier to be normal. This has given me a great appreciation for particularly sexual and perverse girls... women who wear their persona like a Halloween costume... women who feel a need to challenge preconceptions and like to splash around in still waters.

But when describing what you love, you are always going to leave out more than you can say and there is more to it that you don't even know.

The last time I talked about my "ideal woman" on a blog, they were mostly fictional characters and I've started trying to transition to real people (albeit celebrities, so not that real). I fell for Zoe Saldana from her recent Daily Show interview. I've had a crush on Zooey Deschanel for a long time now. I'm developing something of a crush on Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza...

It's funny how some guys obsess over models. I mean, all of those women have great bodies, but I develop crushes on personalities. I didn't fall for Zoe Saldana because she was the Na'vi chick or Uhura (though, HOT)... it was the grace and character that she demonstrated in her interview which won me over.

Still, celebrities are larger than life... in a way, sexually expressive women are also larger than life. After all, how can a guy distinguish himself before a girl that all men want to fuck the moment they see her?

The older I get, the more mythic women seem to be. There are a lot of girls around... some of them are even cute and interested in me, but it just isn't enough.

Tim Gunn critiques superhero costumes

I just think these videos are awesome. Tim Gunn does a great job critiquing popular superhero costume. He takes it seriously and, as a fashion expert, he understands the visual impact that superhero costumes are supposed to have.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's Golden - Jurassic 5

Aside from being a great song, this is just an awesome music video. It's not too flashy, but the cutaways and transitions are fantastic.

Taking stock of things...

Out of mind. Be back maybe.

Also canceled: Wolverine & the X-Men

How is it that I found two new cartoons that I love and they are both being canceled? Spectacular Spider-Man was canceled after two season but Wolverine & the X-Men didn't even make it that long!

I had a few issues with this show, mainly the name. I imagine this name was forced on the writers in order to tie into the recent movie that bombed. Although Wolverine is placed front and center and leading the team in this incarnation, there is plenty of time devoted to the other characters and this show has pretty much all of them.

The plot was basically Xavier gets sent to the Days of the Future Past universe (a dystopian future where mutants have been placed in concentration camps by Sentinels) and sends his consciousness back in time to instruct Wolverine on how to stop it.

It was probably the most accurate interpretation since the 1992 series, but the animation, dialog, and stories were a lot better.

I wish we could have seen season two.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Young Justice, Ultimate Spider-Man, and superhero-cartoons

So a few months ago they announced the Young Justice cartoon and the first thing I did was go to Peter David's blog to see if he was involved. Peter David was the sole writer of this comic book title (with the exception of a two issue stint by Chuck Dixon). He started on issue #1 and continued until it was canceled to make room for Geoff Johns' Teen Titans relaunch.

Young Justice was a spin-off from JLA (Justice League of America) at first featuring just Robin, Superboy (a teenage clone of Superman), and Impulse (the ADD kid Flash of the future). They found a club house and essentially just hung out together and got into trouble. It was exactly what a teen superhero book should be. It was filled with fairly light-hearted and funny stories, but also had a lot of interpersonal drama. Eventually, the team filled out (so to speak) with some girls including Wonder Girl, Arrowette, and the Secret as well as several others.

Unfortunately, Peter David's blog informed me that he didn't know more about the series than the rest of us, so I was afraid that the series just took the name of the comic and nothing else... like Teen Titans.

Well, a couple weeks ago, Disney announced plans to create a new Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon which I found hugely disappointing mainly because they already have a cartoon about a teenage Spider-Man currently on air... and recently, they confirmed that Spectacular Spider-Man will be canceled.

What I liked about Spectacular Spider-Man (other than fantastic writing, animation, and voice acting) was that it seemed like the perfect blend of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man comics and the Bendis/Bagley Ultimate Spider-Man comics. Although it stayed mostly true to the original interpretation, it borrowed elements from the new series to update it a bit. On the whole, I enjoyed it a lot more than Ultimate Spider-Man.

My problem with the Ultimate Spider-Man (and to a larger extent, the Ultimate universe as a whole) is that it started off with a good premise, but just seems to meander in whatever direction after that. There is no focus and often it seems like the entire story is just an excuse to show a new twist on a character. For this reason, I'm not really invested in the characters.

To make a long story slightly shorter, I found out today that although Spectacular Spider-Man was in fact canceled, showrunner Greg Weisman (probably best known for the awesome Gargoyles cartoon) would be running Young Justice.

So for those of you keeping score (like me), I guess we can call this a draw? I'll miss Spectacular Spider-Man, but now I'm really looking forward to Young Justice. If Weisman reaches out to Peter David and adds him to the writing staff, we can call it a victory.

Hey, I did something!

I threw this together using ScreenFlow. It was surprisingly hard work, but I intend to do some more. I'm working on a movie deconstruction video...

Through this process, I learned that YouTube has some very advanced filters for detecting copyrighted material. They knew what cartoon it was from and what the music was immediately. I am both impressed and a little nauseous.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Red Letter Media sci-fi reviews

Check out these awesome sci-fi reviews. They are hilarious and insightful. Whether you are a fan of the source material, a film buff, or just hate shallow blockbusters, these videos demonstrate exactly how stupid Hollywood (namely George Lucas, Rick Berman, and James Cameron) thinks the public is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Marvel's marketing department has lost their minds

I'm currently suffering from marketing fatigue and no one is more guilty of it than Marvel Comics. One of their latest dumbass moves is to release a bunch of Iron Man variant covers as a movie tie-in. Now, this doesn't sound too dumb... except these covers are on non-Iron Man comics... featuring different variations on the concept of Iron Man like Iron Man in different time periods, genres, and/or dimensions... each cover is by a different artist... but not the artist of the book they are drawing the cover for.

So... you are releasing a bunch of comics with covers that do not even vaguely resemble the content inside. I am guessing that you want people to leave Iron Man 2 thinking "Wow! Iron Man was awesome! I should stop by that skeazy little comic store that looks like the bedroom of a 13 year old in 1992 and see if they have any cool Iron Man comics!" So he goes to the comic store and sees dozens of Iron Men... all of them are different and none of them look like the one in the movie... the one he liked. Maybe he buys the comic with the coolest looking Iron Man on it... then he goes home and he realizes he bought a copy of She-Hulk.

... You don't really want new fans, do you? Is this some sort of undercover, anti-capitalist, indie-snob guerrilla operation you have going there? Did I seriously misjudge you and you are just afraid that going mainstream will ruin your integrity?

Yeah. Right.

So the new X-Men event is on... and I almost wrote a few things about it, but event fatigue kicked in and I just thought, "Fuck it." But today this image greeted me and I felt compelled to respond. Supposedly "one of these X-Men will die!" Assuming it isn't the one under the sheet (which would make sense but be a total cheat), I thought I'd run the odds, the pros, and the cons of each.


Pro: Um...

Con: He just came back from the dead by none other than Joss Whedon. Not only would it be redundant to kill him, it would sully one of their best recent books. Not that they haven't done it before. Also, Kitty Pryde is coming back and they work as a pair.

Odds: 1:96


Pro: Still drawing a blank...

Con: Also just came back from the dead, albeit in a much less popular series. She also has a history with Colossus and Kitty so expect her to be around for a bit.

Odds: 2:96

Emma Frost

Pro: Emma is still largely untrusted by the X-Men since she spent so much time as a merciless villain and still acts like one much of the time. Martyring herself would go a long way to changing the way people think about her. Plus, with Jean Grey coming back as Hope, Scott is going to be put in an awkward position between the two psychics that he deeply loves.

Con: Emma is the coolest X-Man since Wolverine and her potential has only started to be tapped. Plus, Jean Grey is coming back so why sidestep some conflict with obvious storytelling potential? As much as Jean might be Scott's true love, Emma makes him far more interesting. If Scott was like any red blooded heterosexual American male, he'd be trying to figure out how to have them both... at which point Scott would become cooler than Wolverine and women would start banning X-Men for being sexist.

Odds: 1:32


Pro: Although most X-Men have died at one point or another, Nightcrawler hasn't. It may just be his turn. Plus, it seems like writers haven't really known what to do with him. Nightcrawler hasn't had much good character development since the eighties. The afterlife might inspire Kurt to take a closer look at his beliefs.

Con: I don't see any real advantage in it. What kind of stories will it inspire? The X-Men miss their friend? Been there, done that. Nightcrawler in heaven? Nightcrawler in hell? Nightcrawler returns with magic powers? Bleh.

Odds: 1:16


Pro: Like Nightcrawler, Bobby Drake has yet to die even once. He is also a character who really hasn't shined in years... if ever. So he could be the next to take the plunge.

Con: Again, I don't think this would add anything to the X-Men. Also, artists seem to enjoy Iceman because he builds ice slides and sculptures where ever he goes.

Odds: 1:8


Pro: Warren has recently received some attention in X-Force as the "angel of death." He seems to be harboring a dark alternate persona with a new power set. He could very well go through a transformation involving martyrdom then re-emerge later with a new power set. The character's weakness has always been that flying with wings is not nearly as impressive as all of the other characters who can fly and do other shit.

Con: Warren already has a new power set as the aforementioned "angel of death."

Odds: 1:4


Pro: His death would help to wrap up dangling plot threads from over twenty years of X-Men history. Recently, Marvel seems to be trying to streamline Cyclops by removing elements that wouldn't translate well to film. For example, they recently killed his father who he thought was dead but really became an intergalactic pirate. If they killed his son from a clone of his previous wife from a possible future, it would help to streamline the character. Also, with the end of the recent Cable series, he raised Hope, the mutant messiah, thereby possibly (hopefully?) fulfilling his role of saving the future.

Con: Cable recently gained popularity from the Cable & Deadpool series and he is still popular amongst fans of hardcore, X-treme 90s shit. I don't see Marvel killing off anyone if they think they can still milk a few sheckles from someone by keeping them alive.

Odds: 1:2

Monday, April 5, 2010

Motion comics

So after writing about the trailer for the Iron Man motion comic, I found some other motion comics over at Hulu. Above is Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday... and I have to say, it is horrible.

The voice acting is awful (particularly Kitty). The characters bob up and down like they are floating in water, but really it is supposed to simulate walking. I would call this an abuse of Photoshop. Whoever made this manipulates the original drawings to create facial expressions in the most disturbing manner. Eye movements are one thing, but they will twist the mouth or eyebrows to create a more animated character.

I can't help but feel embarrassed about this as a human being. Are comics so unmarketable to a mainstream audience that it has to be so awkwardly animated? Do people hate reading or is that just an assumption Marvel made when trying to go digital?

It's not that I cannot see how someone would enjoy this, I just cannot imagine that anyone would prefer this to the comics... and if I met someone who did, I would most certainly think less of them for it.

PS: For anyone who watches part 2, there is a line where Beast sings "You can see by our outfits that we are all heroes." Whoever directed this obviously didn't know that was a reference to the classic song The Streets of Loredo because he sings it completely out of key. Shoddy work, gentleman. Shoddy work.