Tag Archives: Comics

Stepping All Over Comics

What woman doesn’t love shoes? I know that’s terribly stereotypical of me, and I really don’t care, because I LOVE SHOES. You call yourself a woman and don’t love shoes? Stay out of my fictional gym locker room, you alien life form!

I jest. (Mostly.)

Seriously, though. Shoes are awesome! Your hip bones don’t have to protrude from your waifish body for you to look snazzy in a cute pair of flats, and a good pair of heels can make you feel like a million bucks.

Esty seller FaithisFabulous has given me and other geekery-minded women (Or men, I suppose…I’m not here to judge! But, just to let you know, I’ll probably judge.) a new reason to lust.

BEHOLD!

Poison Ivy! And not the itchy kind! (I’m so allergic to poison ivy…eee!) Image courtesy of FaithisFabulous.

 

Villain not to your taste? How about Wonder WomanBatman or ZOMBIES (I LOVE The Walking Dead!)? The seller will make just about anything, according to the page. Oh the possibilities!

Of course, FaithisFabulous is not the only crafty crafter making comic shoes. A simple search on Etsy brought up lots of other sellers that ranged in price and assumed quality. Some are really cute! Others, not so much.

Oh, and there’s even shoes included for male-type creatures, too. So, there. I’m not TOTALLY sexist.

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The September 11th Attacks in Geek Fiction

Many of us remember where we were and what we were doing when the September 11th attacks happened.

I was a lowly freshman in college, and I was in Radio Fundamentals, my first class of the day on that Tuesday morning. My teacher walked into the room, and while  I don’t remember what was said, I’ll always remember the look on her face when she informed us of what was happening. Since we were in what amounted to a functional news studio, I was able to watch things unfold in mostly real time. I remember seeing the second plane as it hit the South Tower.

I don’t really remember that day very well beyond a profound sense of sadness. And of shock. For some reason, when I think of that day, I think of the color gray. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the metal of the buildings. Or the dust as the buildings crashed down.

Obviously, I was not the only one affected by the attacks; writers, artists, and actors were all deeply affected as well. I’m going to talk today specifically how geek culture dealt with attacks–dealing with every instance would take years to write, so this is a small sampling.

Comic Books

Comic companies love New York; Marvel and DC are headquartered there, after all, so it came as no surprise that they wanted to reference the attacks. These are just a few of those stories.

Spider-Man Volume 2 #36 — Also called “The Black Issue” due to its completely black cover. A lot of people took this issue the wrong way, I think. Many people pointed out that Doctor Doom probably wouldn’t actually be crying over an attack, or that there was no way that the other supervillains would care all that much (especially with all the destruction they bring about themselves!), but I think those critics probably missed the point. Those beloved characters (yes, even the villains) were surrogates for the writers and artists at Marvel Comics, and they were expressing themselves through the medium that they were a part of.

Altogether, it’s a little goofy, but it’s also genuine.

9-11 – There were two volumes of this, and both parts contained work by superstar comics writers and artists: Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Dave Gibbons, etc. Some of the stories are simple (a woman reaching over and touching the empty side of her bed), some of the stories are overt (Stan Lee’s fable about mice wearing 666 shirts waking up a giant), but all of them deal with the real issues of revenge, justice, hope, and despair.

Big props to the creators of this, because ALL the proceeds went to charities.

Big props as well to Joe Kubert, who gives these last words of hope: “I’ve lived long enough to see the worst turn into something better.”

Ex Machina – While not a 9/11 story, it is affected by the events of that day. Ex Machina takes place in an alternate reality where a superhero called The Great Machine manages to stop only one of the planes. While his actions get him elected mayor of New York, he still lives with the guilt of being indirectly responsible for the death of thousands.

Books 

There weren’t really all that many books in the geek realm that dealt with 9/11 (that I remember anyway), but I would be remiss not to mention Stephen King’s short story The Things They Left Behind.

It’s the tale of a man whose inner voice tells him to call off work and enjoy the day. Yep, that that day is Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks, he begins having problems with his survivor’s guilt, and objects that belonged to his co-workers begin appearing in his apartment. If he throws them away, they always return. If he gives them to someone else, they give the person nightmares.

Eventually, he begins returning these items to the families of the people they belong to and starts to finally deal with his guilt.

Television 

TV has a lot of references to 9/11. Law & Order, CSI: New York, The West Wing, and Rescue Me all have characters that have to deal with the aftermath of the attacks.

In geek TV, Fringe deals with the 9/11 attacks, including glimpses into an alternate universe where the WTC attacks were averted, only to bring other types of terrorism into the country. The money shot is at the end of season one, where Olivia and William Bell (played by Leonard Nimoy) are standing inside the World Trade Center south tower.

 

Conclusion 

I think the further we get away from the events, the more they will be referenced a little more dispassionately… and maybe with more clarity. For us that remember the day, it seems that the sight of the towers in fiction elicits certain types of responses: shock, sadness, anger, numbness.

How do you feel when you see the towers in movies or TV? Have your feelings changed at all with time? I’d be interested to know. As for me, I feel a certain amount of melancholy and numbness, not just thinking about the attacks, but the consequences of them as well.

Generally on 9/11, I try to remember the unity, the camaraderie.  I remember how everyone suddenly seemed ready to help everyone else out. Strangers were nicer to each other. It only last a couple of weeks, but that kind of unity was pretty nice. I’d love to see that again.

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The Best Time to be a Dork

I’m pushing 30, and I can’t think of a better time than now to be a geek, a nerd, a dork, or whatever you want to call it.

Seriously, right now, the dorks are winning.

NERDS!!!

I remember a time, around 15 years ago, where I couldn’t really proclaim my love for Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, or comic books. Of course, I went to a Christian school where things like that (magic, wizards, etc.) were frowned upon. I actually got in trouble once for having the manual to Civilization II in my backpack.

But really, I only had a couple of friends that would admit that they were into geeky things.

Fast forward to today.

Batman and a collection of Marvel superheroes are sitting at the top of the box office.  The San Diego Comic Convention is bigger than ever. Gen Con drew in over 41,000 people. You can’t go out without seeing someone wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt. Comic book characters on are TV. Major networks are taking chances of fantasy and sci-fi shows. Game of Thrones is one of the best shows on TV. Doctor Who is back and more popular than ever!

When I read a comic book in public, I RARELY get scoffed at. In fact, more often I get asked  if it is any good. People generally aren’t afraid to try roleplaying games. Video games are a booming medium. Everyone plays Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, or World of Warcraft.

This is a far cry from when I had to huddle in friends’ basements, rolling dice in the lonely, dreary shadows. Now, someone can put a good idea for a tabletop RPG on Kickstarter, and it can make 12 times its funding goal. There are so many cool geeky things out there, and there’s no way I have the disposable income to buy even a quarter of their awesome-ness. And that doesn’t even include the different geeky events around the country that I want to attend!

Viva la Dorka!

There are some even greater things that are coming out of this dork boom. People in general are getting more interested in science and math. Going to space is cool again. Comic book and video game art are inspiring younger  generations to create awesome things. Movie and video game music has never been better, and I bet you’ll see kids picking up instruments because of Halo, Skyrim, or Rock Band.

So, enjoy this geek boom while it lasts! It’s a good time to dork out.

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Superheroes Dating Each Other Makes Sense

When it was announced that Superman and Wonder Woman were getting it on, I got really excited. I’m not a huge fan of the Superman/Lois Lane dynamic, so I thought it was a good idea for the two powerhouse heroes to be dating. Yesterday on io9, however, Charlie Jane Anders had a different idea. While I don’t totally disagree with her on some of her points (the article is excellent), I do think that, at least in the Superman situation, dating regular people is unwise.

1. Superman and Lois Lane aren’t equals.

She is the world’s foremost reporter. He is the world’s foremost superhero. That doesn’t make them equal, unfortunately. Superman is essentially a god able to fly through space, run faster than the speed of sound, destroy things with his eyes, and punch Venus out of orbit.  Like I said, a god.

How can Lois Lane ever really understand what that is like? How could Superman ever really understand what it is like to be Lois Lane? She could get hit by a car and die going to work… that would never happen to Superman. She will age and die. He won’t (at least for a long time).

Wonder Woman, at least in the new 52 continuity is the daughter of Zeus (as we learned from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, he’s the all-powerful king of the gods!!) and has inherited many of his powers. As a goddess (or at least demigoddess, herself), Diana is able to understand many of the things that are going on in Superman’s head. She is able to understand his strength, his speed, how much restraint he has to put on himself not to accidentally kill someone, and is able to bond with him through that. She is also immortal, like our boy, Supes.

2. Superman always has to save Lois.

Let me describe a certain relationship to you. One party in the relationship is curious and is always getting into all sorts of trouble. No matter how bad things look, that person is ready to charge in and find out what is going on. Because of this, the other person in the relationship is constantly having to save the other’s life, fix that person’s problems, etc.

Want to know what I just described?

The relationship between me and my son. But, I bet you were thinking that I was describing the Lois Lane/Superman relationship. How independent of a person can you truly be if you know that someone is always going to scoop you up and save you from nearly every situation?

With Wonder Woman, he’ll almost never have the same problem. She is able to take care of herself, whether it be addressing the UN or fighting your major super-powered baddie of the month. In fact, I find that Wonder Woman often has a confidence that Superman sometimes lacks.

Really, if Superman needs to be grounded in humanity, perhaps it is best if he does it through family and friends. He doesn’t need to date a human.

3. Wonder Woman provides for some really interesting story opportunities.

How does the power base in the Justice League shift is two of the founding members are now dating? How are things resolved if they disagree? Will the Hall of Justice be destroyed if they have sex in it? If Wonder Woman kills someone, how does that affect the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman? Will Batman go absolutely insane when he realizes that the two (arguably) most powerful members of the Justice League are hooking up?

Let’s face it, relationship spats are interesting. A relationship spat while the fate of the world is at stake? More interesting. And it doesn’t have to be your cliched “should I save him or should I save the world?” story. Give the writers a little credit. They can come up with something awesome. Some of the most interesting “discussions” my wife and I have are over our differences of belief or opinion. Because of these discussions, I often find out more about my wife, and I love her more because of it.

Now imagine this on a cosmic scale. Pretty interesting, I’d say.

4. It’s time for something a little more new.

I know that Superman and Wonder Woman have been explored as a couple before, but never in a long-term way. I don’t think that Superman and Wonder Woman can worm their way past nearly 75 years of people being used to Supes/Lois, so give them a little time to make things interesting.

Superman has been pining for or dating or married to Lois Lane for a long, long time. Let’s try something new. Comic book characters are constantly in danger of becoming overly stagnant, so anything that injects a little newness into the story is more than welcome in my book.

5. Super couples can work.

Sue and Reed Richards show what a relationship of equals can offer comic book stories. Cyclops and Jean Grey are also a good example of a superpowered couple fighting the good fight together. It can most definitely work storywise. I’d love to see it work with two of the most powerful beings on Earth.

From a DC universe standpoint, it could be awesome. It could be frightening. It could end up like Antony and Cleopatra. I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out where it goes.

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DC Comics Reviews — Red Hood and The Outlaws

Alright boys and girls, it’s time for another DC comic review. I’m still playing catch up, so let’s get straight to my ratings on the number 2 issues.

DC’s “New 52” Issue 2

Green Lantern – 4/5
Green Lantern Corps -4/5
Green Lantern: The New Guardians -4/5
Red Lantern -4/5
Batman -4/5
Batman And Robin -5/5
Batman: The Dark Knight- 3/5
Detective Comics – 4/5
Superman – 4/5
Action Comics -5/5
Wonder Woman -2/5
The Flash – 4/5
Aquaman -5/5
Justice League -5/5
Nightwing – 4/5
Suicide Squad -5/5
Red Hood And The Outlaws -4/5

Now that the ratings are out of the way, I’m going to do something different and review a comic that has not gotten my “Best Of” criteria.  It’s one of the brand new titles, Red Hood And The Outlaws.

Image courtesy of ing.com

Sidekicks going anti-heros…how cool is that?  I say it’s pretty amazing.  Since the release of the animated film Batman: Under The Red Hood, Jason Todd has been gaining a following of fans.  That’s kind of surprising for a guy that was voted by the fans to be killed a few years ago.  But thanks to a retconned DC universe, the former Robin is back, armed to the teeth with a take-no-prisoner attitude and a few deadly weapons.

He’s not alone. Joining him are two former teen heroes: Arsenal(Formally Speedy/ Red Arrow) and Starfire.

The whole first issue is introduction and serves to establish each character’s personality; Jason is the detached brooding protagonist, Arsenal is the clingy wannabe best friend/ comic relief, and Starfire is the alien that views us from an outside perspective.  All in all, a fun team.

This issue focuses on their relationships with each other.  But, of course, it shows how The Outlaws fight crime. They make sure that when crime goes down, it stays down…with a few bullet holes…and maybe an arrow through the throat for good measure.

I love this team.

You have two former sidekicks who had a hard past: one with heroin and the other with…you know, death. You also have
an alien princess who has no idea about human morality.

I wasn’t around when Arsenal was addicted to drugs or when DC set up a 1-800 number to vote whether or not Jason Todd would die, but I’m with them now and loving the anti-hero perspective.  And yes they all live up to their anti-hero label. There has not been an issue when a “bad guy” hasn’t died.

Also, I’m going to say that this is a title for a more mature audience.  First, you have the violence that is in each issue. Then, you have Starfire, who basically stays half naked throughout both issues.

Adult.

The second issue sets up the story arc, following Jason Todd as he retraces his steps from the beginning to figure out why he was resurrected. A few witty remarks and a flashback later, the team is surrounded by zombie warrior monks. Violent showdown time, with Red Hood chopping through people like they were butter alongside Arsenal shooting arrows and Starfire blasting…I guess…fire.

Violence sells and I’m buying.

Maybe it’s because I really don’t know much of the backstories of all these characters, but I have no idea where the current story is going. That excites me.  It’s been too long since I’ve read a story that I haven’t been able to predict the ending.  I’m usually pretty good about guessing what is going to happen, but with Red Hood I have no idea.  All I can say is that this is shaping up to be one of my new favorite comic books.  Sex, violence and adventure: what more do you
need out of an anti-hero type comic?

My favorite thing is the artwork.  It has a roughness about it that I absolutely adore.  It’s mostly in the gritty inkwork of Kenneth Rocafort that makes this book stand out amongst the rest of your average super-team book.  It makes it look like the world is dirty and pockmarked.  And something about Arsenal wearing a domino mask and a truckers hat just tickles me pink.

Nothing makes me happier than new material and not the same regurgitated stories that we all know.  I know I’m beating a dead horse since I’m rooting for the underdog, but old sidekicks getting their own book? Fantastic. Characters that were thrown to the wayside by their former audience have a chance to shine in this new series.

Plus, if you’re a Batman reader, I suggest buying this book because it deals heavily in the Batman/Gotham story.  That  should be expected with a former Robin leading the way.

Do you think that these sidekicks turned vigilantes deserve their own book?  Do those of you that have read it have any predictions?

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DC Comics Reviews – Aquaman Focus

Welcome to my first comic review. Here is how it’s  going to work. Each week I will read the comics that I get and rate each one on a scale of 1-5, then pick one to review in depth. Most times the comic I will review will be what I think is best that week, other times it will be the worst. Additionally, any comic that gets a rating of 4/5 should be considered on par. Ratings of 5/5 will be given to books that I think are going above and beyond the expected story. If anybody disagrees with my ratings, I am open for discussion at most times. I am always willing to voice my opinions and debate. Also, you may notice that I concentrate on DC Comics.

For this first article, I will rate all of the issues 1’s of “The New 52” that I am currently getting. Since both issues 1 and 2 are out for all my titles the next article will rate number 2’s. After that it will be a weekly thing with only a few issues on each list. For now though I’ve got a lot of ground to cover!

This ain't your daddy's Aquaman. Image courtesy Toledo Free Press

“Green Lantern”- 3/5
“Green Lantern Corps” – 4/5
“Green Lantern: The New Guardians”- 4/5
“Red Lantern”- 3/5
“Batman”-4/5
“Batman And Robin”-5/5
“Batman: The Dark Knight”- 3/5
“Detective Comics”- 3/5
“Superman”- 4/5
“Action Comics”-5/5
“Wonder Woman”- 4/5
“The Flash”- 4/5
“Aquaman”- 5/5
“Justice League”- 5/5
“Teen Titans”-4/5
“Nightwing”- 4/5
“Red Hood And The Outlaws”- 4/5
“Suicide Squad”-5/5

As you can see a few issues earned a perfect score. When “The New 52” came out I had no idea what to expect, but I went in with an open mind.

The one that exceeded all of my hopes was Aquaman. Maybe being written by Geoff Johns has this effects on superheroes who aren’t as popular.

Years ago, I was one of the masses that considered Aquaman to be a useless superhero, all he could do was swim well and talk to fish. I hadn’t really read that much Aquaman, but after reading this first issue, it made me realize that I was missing out on one of the better stories in the DC universe.

It’s people like me that Geoff Johns was obviously trying to prove wrong in this issue. The first half of the book shows Aquaman interacting with the world and the world looking on in confusion. He stops an armored car robbery, kicks the crap out of the robbers and gets shot all in the first few pages. The whole time he has to listen to people’s misconceptions about him. They ask him if he talks to fish, and wonder why he is so far away from the water. Basically think of a group of people that only know about Aquaman from watching “Super Friends.”  It’s almost as they expect him to come riding in on a giant seahorse. There is even a guy that asks Aquaman while he is sitting in a restaurant, “How’s it feel to be nobody’s favorite superhero?” To which Aquaman quietly picks up his trident and leaves. And all throughout the book you see these creatures that look like humanoid angler fish rising up from what they call the “Trench.” I don’t know about you but those kind of fish with the huge eyes and uneven teeth creep me out to no end.

And I love it; this looks like the making of a horror/action arc that will hopefully introduce a new group of enemies to DC. It’s almost if Geoff Johns was using this first issue to dispel all of the stereotypes that have surrounded Aquaman for the last 30 years or so. For that he has my thanks.

Aquaman shows his worth. Image courtesy Comic books, Movies, Comic Book Movies

I think it is good for DC to try to promote what we would consider their “B List” heroes. For too long the Dark Knight and the Big Blue Boyscout have had center stage. Green Lantern had his revival and so has The Flashl it’s about time that we start to focus on heroes that have never been offered a movie deal. Get Aquaman’s name out there, give him a crossover series like “Blackest Night”.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m sick of Batman. Maybe I’m still resentful that the “Green Lantern” live action movie didn’t do that well. All I know that it’s refreshing to see a hero take his criticism in stride and still go on to save the day. Every person reading this article should go out and buy “Aquaman” number 1. It only costs $2.99 (thank you DC). I’m just saying give the issue a chance, and you will be surprised at how much you enjoy a guy in a fish scale shirt and green pants flipping an armored car like it was a tinker toy.

Disagree? Agree? Sound off in the comments. Or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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Comic Book Wednesday – Distribution

I’m going to generate some controversy today.

I was originally going to just publish a list of comic book releases, but I realized that other places did it better than I could, and I didn’t think a list would be very interesting.

So, instead, let’s have a discussion. You and me. You love comics. I love comics. Maybe you love them more. Maybe less. However, I think that you and I can both agree that the industry has problems. Some big, some small. Some require tweaks, some require a complete change in how the comics business is run.

Let me get this out of the way. I love comic shops. I LOVE THEM.

See that? I used capitals to show you how much I love them. However, I’m not convinced that they are entirely good for the industry.

When I was a kid (really, I’m not that old), comic books could be found in grocery stores, drugstores, and, sometimes, gas stations. Comics are a great impulse buy, but many people aren’t going to buy on impulse if the comics aren’t visible. If I saw comic books in the checkout lane at the grocery store, I would totally pick up one while I was buying milk. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

I don’t want comic shops to go away, but I want comics to expand into other stores. I really don’t think that it would hurt comic shops all that much. Although, it might make some of them work on customer service more…that might be a plus. I’ve been in some unfriendly comic stores (until you prove yourself as “one of them,” anyway).

Next problem: Diamond Comic Distributors. That name shakes every comic publisher to the core. The current business model is that the publishers write, pencil, ink, color, and print the comics, and Diamond is basically the only company that distributes comics. They have had exclusive rights with all major publishers since 1997.  The Justice Department investigated and concluded that Diamond has a monopoly on comic books, but (and here’s where it gets tricky) nothing could be done because the monopoly didn’t include books. See, Diamond is officially a book distributor, not a comics distributor. Bada-bing, bada-boom. The Justice Department couldn’t do anything.

Diamond is the Dr. Doom of comic books.

Diamond charges 60 percent of the cover price for their part in distributing comics. The retailers charge 25 percent to stock. This leaves the publisher with 15 percent of the cover price to pay its creative people and print costs. Do you wonder why comics are up to $4 now? Diamond is effectively driving the prices up. This also makes it nearly impossible for small start-up publishers to recoup their costs.

Unfortunately, I think the only thing that is going to break Diamond’s grip on the comics industry is digital distribution.

Seriously, though. Diamond’s logo looks like a LexCorp reject.

I love books; I love the feel, the smell, the turning of the pages. But, let’s face it, books are probably on the way out. E-readers are becoming too affordable, publishers don’t have to pay for printing and shipping costs, and it’s becoming more economically and environmentally sound. Comic publishers have already signed deals with Amazon and Barnes & Noble for exclusive rights on their tablet devices.

I really don’t think this is change that comic book shops deserve. I don’t want them to go away. Unfortunately, this might be the change that the comic industry needs.

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