Posts Tagged ‘DC’

Comics DNA

March 4, 2019

There has been a meme going around where people post four comic books that helped form their “Comics DNA”. I thought I would try and tackle that challenge even though there was so much to choose from. Since reading the following comics, my tastes have continued to grow and expand and I regularly consume all sorts of comics media. Comic books have become so entwined in how I think about fiction and probably are one of the bigger influences on how I write and visualize my own art. I have been lucky to meet some of my comic book heroes and I hope that I continue to find more heroes and more inspiration each year. Anyway, let’s take a look at a few big winners.


Giant-Size X-Men

This was the first comic that I really remember impacting me. I was later shown comics starring the original X-Men but this was, pardon the pun, larger than life and so exciting. The idea of recruiting a new, international version of the X-Men to rescue the original X-Men was so fun. Apparently, the white guys (and girl) could not handle the job so they send in a more diverse team to save the day. This was the first time I saw Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Sunfire, Banshee, and Thunderbird. Sure writers had a long way to go when it came to writing people of color but this was a great start. The powers and abilities of the new X-Men seemed way flashier than those of the original X-Men and I was excited to learn more. This comic came out 7 years before I was born but when I was allowed to read it, it definitely sparked a love for comics that has never died. The X-Men became an integral part of my Comics DNA and I frequently sprang for their titles when I was spending my allowance. Later this love spread to the Pryde of the X-Men, the X-Men cartoon in the nineties, and the X-Men film franchise and spinoffs.


Batman: The Long Halloween

Batman became an obsession of mine when the 1989 movie blew my tiny mind and introduced me to a version that was both entertaining and serious. I scooped up a lot of Batman comics over the years (along with Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman). This is the one that really stuck with me over all the rest. The story takes place in the Batman Year One continuity, a kind of stand-alone set of stories that tried to re-explore Batman’s early years. Batman tries to track down a new villain on the scene who goes by the name Holiday and kills on each month’s big holiday. Thus, each of the issues revolves around a potential murder on a holiday. The story explores the relationship between the old school villains (the Mafia) and the new school villains (Batman’s Rogues Gallery). Batman is used to dealing with the mob and traditional crime. Now he has to shift his thinking to deal with Catwoman, Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, and Solomon Grundy. The series is a real mystery and a real love letter to my favorite parts of the Batman mythos. All of the characters are written as their best versions, nothing fancy but definitely engrossing. In addition to all of that, the art is fantastic.


The Sensational Spider-Man

I was also a huge fan of Spider-Man. At its heart, it was a series about a boy (and later a man) just trying to do his best in the face of difficult odds. The series has always thrived when it has followed that formula. In the late nineties, they briefly replaced the original Spider-Man with Ben Reilly, a guy just trying to get his life back together. The new take felt fresh to me and I was excited to see where they could take it. The art was one of the first things that did it for me. Everything was so crisp and clean and the action was dynamic. Characters came alive with their facial expressions and their smooth coloring. After that, it was the writing. At the time, Peter Parker was living the good life thanks to his supermodel wife and his own photojournalism career. It was nice to see a hero who was struggling financially and had a supporting cast of people I could actually meet in my city. It was a better solution than the later One Day More storyline for sure. It also gave them an excuse to jazz up Spidey’s arsenal a bit as Ben had had time to come up with a few new tricks. He got impact webbing which was basically a spider web grenade and he got spider stingers which were tranquilizing darts. He was a lot of fun and allowed us to take a bit of a break from the long history of Peter Parker for a little while. They would use this idea later to create such characters as Miles Morales.


Sandman Mystery Theater

Sure, I did not actually get to this title until college but still, it changed the way I looked at comic books. Sandman Mystery Theater follows the character of Wesley Dodds who was a character during the golden age of comics and a founding member of the Justice Society of Comics. Except these new stories predated his adventures among the superheroes. There was nothing super about Dodds. These stories were in a film noir detective style as Dodds used intelligence to track down brutal murderers. The only nod to the supernatural was that he had dreams which gave him vague clues to the murders and drove him toward solving the cases. He used a gas gun (full of sleeping gas or some sort of truth gas) which allowed him to sneak around. He wore a suit, trenchcoat, and World War I gas mask. The artwork is intentionally ugly as it shows a lot of the seedy underbelly of society. It approached topics such as abortion, racism, antisemitism and the rise of the Nazis. It also included a female heroine, Dian Belmont, a former flapper who was every bit a detective as Wesley was. This was the first real non-superhero comic I became a fan of. It led the way for Sandman, Hellblazer, Hellboy, Pretty Deadly and many more heroes who did not fit the traditional mold.

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Media Update 11/23/17

November 23, 2017


The Punisher

This show has been getting some press lately but for a lot of negative reasons. We have reached a critical mass when it comes to spree and mass shootings in the United States. So, a show about an anti-hero who famously uses firearms really has no good release date. This iteration of the character was introduced in Season 2 of Daredevil. The character is way more nuanced and deep than my experience with the character in comic books. An ex-marine, he is not just a goon with a gun. He would probably be the first person to admit that he’s just not sane, though. During the first season, Frank Castle tries to uncover corruption in the military while avenging his slaughtered family. The character feels a lot more focused on this show. The show does a great job of bringing up how we deal with our veterans, which should be a non-partisan issue. Mental health, the difficulty of finding a vocation, and the soldier mentality are all addressed with a great deal of compassion. The show is dark but the good writing and great acting carry it through for me. I read a comment somewhere that the show does not really give a coherent thought on gun control. I agree but do you really want that answer to come from a television show? The show depicts several different facets of the issue and lets the viewer decide for themselves. I definitely recommend it but it might be a little too dark for some.


Batman and Harley Quinn

I was a huge fan of the old Bruce Timm Batman animated series that came out in the nineties. It was a very successful form of the character and the world because it was a great mix of the dark and the light. This movie is a step back into that world, a step away from the darker, grittier Batman seen in the live action DC movies and a few of the animated movies. In this, Batman is the ultimate funny straight man. He gets more laughs from a stoic expression or the squint of his eyes than any bit of dialogue. When he does let slip a joke, it is both surprising and funny. He is accompanied by Nightwing who is a little bit looser than his old mentor and more into cracking a joke. The two get Harley Quinn to act as their criminal informant and she is as zany and crazy as you would expect. I loved how self-aware she was. This is a Harley who has finally realized how bad Joker is for her and how important her friends (like Poison Ivy) are. She also loudly corrects anybody who can hear that she is not a psychopath but is instead a sociopath. Get it right. With so little, the cartoon showed that these characters are part of a bigger world with a history. I ended up smiling from ear to ear through most of it and it was good to take another spin around the block with some old, familiar friends in new situations. I wholeheartedly recommend this as DC Animated is killing it.


Justice League

Nobody is more surprised than I am that I went to the theaters and saw this movie. After skipping Batman v. Superman, I did not think I wanted to see Justice League either but my friends lured me in with promises of Joss Whedon. Wonder Woman was also a truly great movie. Well, the movie had a lot of problems but that is to be expected. The movie introduced Cyborg to the big screen and missed much of the point of him in previous iterations. He used to be a happy, friendly guy who covered up his sadness at becoming more machine than man by being the best person he could be. In this movie, he was a mostly quiet grump. The Flash was that annoying guy at a party who will not shut up and thinks his jokes are just hilarious. Apparently, The Flash is one of the most polarizing performances in the movie. Henry Cavill still does not feel like Superman and instead just comes off as awkward. The villain, Steppenwolf, was basically a video game character and his performance was forgotten by me every time he left the screen.

So was there anything good? Wonder Woman was great again, although they keep sabotaging her character. Batfleck is alright though he seems to mope and get his butt kicked a lot. Affleck’s sense of humor came out here and there and that was definitely welcome. Aquaman was fun, coming off as a loveable asshole. There were moments where the movie showed glimmers of hope that it might dig its way into the light. Overall, I feel like you can build the best house you know how but if the foundations are bad then you will still fail. Man of Steel and BvS are bad foundations. I could see where Joss made it better but Warner Brothers still has a long way to go and that starts by firing Zack Snyder and banning Frank Miller from the set. I definitely do not recommend this. There are tons of superhero movies out there actually worth your time and money.

Music of the Week:
Marmozets – Why Do You Hate Me?

Man With A Mission – Raise Your Flag

Ratatat – Loud Pipes

Wowaka – Rolling Girl

Set Your Goals – This Will Be The Death Of Us

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Comic Book Team-Ups”
– I finished Blacklist Season 4
– I watched more Blindspot Season 1
– I finished Santa Clarita Diet
– I watched more Sleep Hollow Season 2
– I watched more Van Helsing Season 1

– Happy Thanksgiving!

Media Update 3/23/2017

March 23, 2017


Iron Fist

Everybody seems to say this show sucks but that is the problem with saying something sucks, somebody out there might actually like it. Marvel has created a lot of good television shows, especially through Netflix. My favorite has been Jessica Jones but Luke Cage and Daredevil have both been great as well. The plan was always to make a quintet of shows and this is the fourth. Iron Fist is Danny Rand, a young wealthy man who the world thought was dead but was instead training in another dimension. When he returns, he is naive about the world and unsure of where he fits in anymore. It is an interesting show as it shows an unshakably honest and forthright character trying to deal with a very dishonest world. Like Daredevil, we get a lot of cool martial arts fight scenes. Some of the coolest fight scenes star the awesome Colleen Wing who is a great character from the comics. In the comics, she often teams up with Misty Knight who was on Luke Cage. I am only a few episodes deep into the season but the show is really coming together. I really like it so far. It makes it a little insulting when other people say “it sucks”. I definitely recommend it. Do not let other people decide what you will and will not like. Check things out for yourself.


Justice League Dark

This was originally supposed to be a project helmed by the excellent Guillermo Del Toro. Unfortunately, that project did not work out because I would have loved to see it. Setting that aside, the animated films that DC Comics and Warner Brothers have been putting out have been really good. The only downside is we get the Superman who is a huge dick but he has maybe two scenes so it’s fine. The show centers on some of the more mystical characters in the DC Universe (a lot of whom came from other companies originally). The central character in the movie is John Constantine who has never really been a hero but often cannot stand by and let the world end. He is joined by Batman, Zatanna, Deadman, Etrigan and Swamp Thing. It is always great to see Batman out of his element, trying to gain his footing but never losing his cool. We get so much of Batman as an unstoppable hero that him being a fish out of water is always interesting. Zatanna featured heavily which makes sense as she is potentially one of the most powerful magicians on Earth. I loved the depiction of Constantine and Swamp Thing’s eternal feud and Felix Faust being a total magic bro. This made me miss the Constantine television show. I definitely recommend it.


Legion

I am a few episodes in and I am not sure what to think about this show yet. I am pretty sure I like it although there was some rough going for a while. This show seemed to be a lot of special effects and weirdness without much substance but it has settled down a little. If you got superpowers, would you recognize them as such? Would you just think that you were just going insane?  This is where David Haller (unknown son of Professor Xavier) is at. He has spent a long time self-destructing and also hanging out in a mental hospital, thinking he is absolutely nuts. He hears voices and sees things that are not there. However, a lot of those things he sees and hears are the thoughts of the people around him. Also, he can set fires and move objects with his mind. That and so many other powers. One of my favorite parts of the show so far is his weird friendship with Lenny. Lenny is played by Aubrey Plaza who I admire for her work in Parks and Rec and her awkward interviews on television. She plays a role originally written for a middle-aged man so she is wonderfully weird. I look forward to how this one will play out but I have not been fully hooked yet. I recommend it but be warned that it is really weird.

Music of the Week:
Levarslaysdragons – Game Over

Cirith Ungol – King Of The Dead

Cher Lloyd – Want U Back

DAZZLE VISION – Final Attack

Steely Dan – Any Major Dude Will Tell You

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is Comic Book Heroes Without Costumes
– I finished Season 3 of Blue Bloods
– I started watching Lucha Underground from the first episode
– I am getting close to finishing off Haven
– I continued watching Once Upon a Time Season 6
– I started watching a few MST3K episodes I missed
– I kept watching The Crown


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