Sunday, 25 February 2018

MYTH TELLER 1: The Terrible Secret of King March

I've recently began a storytelling project with my pal Hannah Berg. It's called Myth Teller and we're hoping to deliver myths and legends from around the world, told on Youtube, for audiences of all, ages, on a fairly regular basis. Here's episode one, based on the old Welsh legend of King March ap Meirchion of Lleyn. If you enjoy it please feel free to share wherever you can.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Brian Michael Bendis writing Superman

Ivan Reis
Former superstar Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis will begin writing Superman comics this year. According to DC Comics' press release,
Bendis’ first DC story will be with fan-favorite artist Jim Lee in ACTION COMICS #1000 (on sale April 18), but this is only the beginning when it comes to his relationship with Krypton’s Last Son. On May 30, Bendis debuts MAN OF STEEL, a six-issue weekly miniseries. Featuring six interconnected covers by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, this series will shake up the classic story of Krypton’s final days and Kal-El’s path to becoming an iconic hero, introducing a new villain that knows a terrifying secret behind the destruction of Superman’s homeworld. Bendis’ story will feature an incredible lineup of artistic firepower, including Ivan Reis, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Ryan Sook, Kevin Maguire, Adam Hughes and Jason Fabok. A prelude to MAN OF STEEL by Bendis and artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez will be available on May 2, in the DC NATION #0 preview sampler.
This July, more fireworks are in store for fans with not one, but two Superman-themed titles, both written by Bendis. July 11debuts SUPERMAN #1, with art by Ivan Reis. The conclusion of MAN OF STEEL will leave both fans and Superman reeling, and the debut story arc will dive deeper into its consequences, building on popularity already generated by co-writer Peter J. Tomasi and co-writer/artist Pat Gleason. On July 25, ACTION COMICS resumes with issue #1001; with art by Gleason, Bendis will deliver stories that are more character-focused, introduce new characters (both heroes and villains) and spotlight more of Clark Kent and his role at the Daily Planet. ACTION will also take a closer look at how the actions of Superman impact the DC Universe.
I'm generally a fan of Bendis' work but I must admit I've become increasingly bored and frustrated with his recent work. At Marvel his writing has become a bit predictable, and his main flaws as a writer are particularly prevalent. For example, he's always been stronger at character and dialogue than story, but his plots on books like Spider-man and Infamous Iron Man have been especially slow moving and meandering of late. As far as I'm concerned Bendis' move to DC Comics couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully the change will reinvigorate him and we'll see him on top form again.

I cannot emphasise enough what a gift for character and dialogue Bendis has. Having said that, if certain characters don't interest him we can expect to see them written out of character, or even completely ignored. He's very good at creating new characters, so I think we'll see him bring in new cast members rather than resurrect old ones. Bendis will leave the Superman myth a richer place than he found it. I think his talent at writing very human, grounded people living through fantastical events will mean we'll get some great Daily Planet related stuff.

If you're unfamiliar with his work I recommend his Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-man stuff. Miles and his supporting cast are probably Bendis' greatest creations as far as I'm concerned.

In 2016 somebody used Tumblr to ask Bendis what he would like to write at DC Comics. Among other things he said a "VERY back to original basics" Superman. Is that what we'll get? What does that even mean?

We're about to find out.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Grim and Gritty Movie Committee - Episode One: Batman 1989

It's the first episode of The Grim and Gritty Movie Committee, the podcast where two men who have been chained together for over 30 years by a mutual love of superheroes discuss superhero films.

Relive Batmania as me and my pal Madeley discuss Tim Burton's Batman (1989). Discover the film Batman almost became, the origin of Johnny Gobs, the secret of Joker's soldering iron, and the reason Madeley swore off milk in 1987.

It can be found on iTunes

And Soundcloud:

Please listen, share, comment, and subscribe!

Also, follow us on Twitter! 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Best Stuff of 2017 (according to me)

(Click here for The Best Stuff of 2016)

Best ongoing comic series of 2017

Tom King's Batman

If you told me last year that my favourite ongoing comic series of 2017 would end the year with a story about Batman and his new fiancee Catwoman going to a funfair with Superman and Lois Lane, I would have said "that sounds like a load of twee old fanwank, no way will I enjoy that." But it's written by Tom King, who might just be the best new mainstream comics writer to have come along for years and it's absolutely brilliant. King has a gift for taking a 75+ year old character like Batman, who's been analysed to death, and finding brand new ways of looking at him, and brand new stories to tell about his world. It helps that King has been working alongside some of DC's best artists, including Jason Fabok, Mitch Gerads, and Mikel Janin.

Although King began his run by examining just how broken and damaged Batman is, this year we've seen the character start to get closer than he's ever been to being content. He's met his deceased father, got engaged to the love of his life, unburdened himself of the guilt from one of his biggest secrets, and gone on the aforementioned double date at the funfair with Superman and Lois. Along the way we got to see a super villain war between Joker and Riddler through the eyes of Kite Man of all people. Will it all come crashing down around Batman's pointy ears next year? Time will tell.

Runner up

Dan Jurgens' Action Comics

This year, in a story entitled The Oz Effect, Dan Jurgens finally revealed that new villain Mr Oz was in fact Superman's Kryptonian dad, Jor-El. But this story was much more than just a shocking reveal. For a start it boasted art by Viktor Bogdanovic, who's work I've loved since he helped create Kong Kenan, the Chinese New Super-man, last year. It was also a story about Superman encountering the ugly side of humanity as it's brought bubbling to the surface by Jor-El. This was a particularly cruel irony since Superman was originally sent by Jor-El to inspire the best in humanity. As Superman desperately fought to help a world where people's fears and anger and prejudices are fully on display, this story felt all too relevant. It was Superman vs. 2017 itself.

Comics that I'm most excited about for 2018

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock

I always thought Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen said all it needed to say and that I'd regard this new sequel as a fun but unnecessary bonus. But after reading the first issue I actually think this series has something interesting & exciting to say. Also Frank's artwork is gorgeous.

Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung's Marvel Two-In-One

Ben Grimm & Johnny Storm really are two of Marvel's greatest characters & everything about the first issue of this new series does them justice. It was a real heartstring tugger, but funny too. I can't wait to follow these characters on their quest to find the rest of the Fantastic Four and it's indescribably good to have Ben and Johnny together in their own book again.

Best comics event of 2017

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Dark Nights: Metal

This delightfully mad event from DC hasn't even finished yet and it's already evident how brilliant it is. A journey into DC's multiversal mythology that manages to be dark and disturbing but also super-fun. It's everything great about DC Comics superheroes and Batman turned up to eleven and filtered through Grant Morrison's underpants. 

Most disappointing comic of 2017

Superman #27 & 28

Last year Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman was my favourite ongoing comic, so it's surprising that they've served up this year's biggest stinker. This two part story is basically that old "knowing is half the battle" cliche from '80s cartoons stretched over two issues, as Lois, Clark, and Jon take a road trip across the USA and get their preachiness on. There's a place for this kind of Superman story, and there's nothing inherently wrong with Superman reminding us what's great about the USA during a difficult time for the country. But this story was trite, heavy handed, patronising, politically and historically dodgy cheese of the worst kind. 

Best comic book film of 2017

Wonder Woman

As much as I love DC's run of movies since 2013 (and still maintain that most of them are unfairly maligned) there are still usually at least a few aspects of them that don't quite work. Not so with Wonder Woman. This film looks stunning, features superb performances by the entire cast, and doesn't contain a wasted second. It is intelligent, accessible, and beautiful. It truly is one of the greatest superhero films of all time and Diana's march across No Man's Land already feels like one the most iconic and moving moments in cinema ever.

Runners up

As amazing as Wonder Woman may be, it still faced some stiff competition. Thor Ragnarok is possibly the best superhero comedy ever made, and Spider-man Homecoming is one of the best Marvel movies, up there with Iron Man, Avengers, and Winter Soldier. It's also hands down the best Spidey movie ever. Justice League didn't quite live up to expectations, but it's still very good. It features brilliant performances and successfully gives each hero a satisfying character arc, albeit at the expense of the overall plot. 

Basically I feel like I've been spoiled rotten this year, as far as films are concerned. 

Best TV Show

Doctor Who

I'm extremely sad that we'll be saying goodbye to Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor tomorrow, but at least he went out with a series that will be remembered as his best. He also went out alongside Bill, the best companion since Donna, while facing two Masters and my favourite version of the Cybermen. Fantastic stuff. 

I can't wait to see Jodie Whittaker's Doctor in action.

Best things I've done in 2017

I got a promotion at work! I'm now a Planetarium Operator alongside my regular job as Live Science Communicator. I saw Sparks live and it was one of the greatest gigs of my life. I also met Tommy Wiseau! I asked Tommy which superhero franchise he would like to work on and he said The Room, which might just be his answer for every question.

I'm a bit fearful for the world as we go into 2018, but you never know, maybe Brexit won't be a big xenophobic disaster and will work out fine for everybody after all. And maybe Donald Trump will go to prison or die on the toilet. Fingers crossed.


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