Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Is the Nu52 Superman Costume Any Good?

There's been a lot of controversy (i.e. moaning) on the internet about the new Superman costume featured in the recent DC Comics relaunch. Red knickers are out and armour and v-neck collars are in! While I was a bit unsure at first I must say that with each new appearance of the costume I'm liking it more and more. I thought I'd pop up a quick post in which I shared some of my favourite images featuring the new costume so far. The first four images are by the costume's designer Jim Lee. For a while I thought that perhaps the problem with the new design was that only Lee could make it work and liking the costume depended on liking Lee's particular style. This fear was mostly based on the work of George Perez and Jesus Merino over on the Superman title. Perez is one of my favourite artists but neither he nor Merino could seem to draw the new costume without making it seem clunky and awkward. Since then however I've seen a number of other artists interpret the costume and I'm feeling more confident that this design can be just as iconic as the previous one. The main reason I've chosen these images as my favourite is that I feel that these images depict SUPERMAN, as opposed to Superman in a different costume.

What do you think?

Jim Lee

Jim Lee

Jim Lee

Jim Lee

Greg Capullo

Ivan Reis

Andy Kubert

Mahmud Asrar

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Comic Fans! Stop Being Dicks!

Your bitching makes Spidey sad.

Dan Slott is the current writer of Amazing Spider-Man. Over his career Mr Slott has proven himself an immensely talented and entertaining writer with such critically acclaimed work as his run on She-Hulk, his Spider-Man/Human Torch mini series and the Batman mini-series Arkham Asylum: Living Hell. Personally I think he's one of the best writers Spider-Man has ever had and I believe that he's returned a sense of fun to the character that has been missing for a long time.

A couple of days ago somebody posted the following statement on Twitter:

I wish@danslott would die in a car accident so I could start reading spider-man again

That's right! Not only did this complete ball-bag publicly wish for a comic creator's death but he ensured Mr Slott would see this bile by tagging him in the tweet! What a cock! Even if you disagree with everything I say about Mr Slott in my opening paragraph, surely no one deserves to receive such a hateful tweet just for writing a comic book? Well according to what seems like a large portion of comic fans on the internet, he does. This is just one (albeit extreme) example of an attitude that is far too prevalent among online comic fans. An unpleasant us-and-them attitude and a huge sense of entitlement that seems to be held by a large and vocal percentage of fans. These fans actually seem to believe that comic creators are part of a network of money hungry con-artists who are out to deliberately swindle "true fans". They believe that comic creators are motivated not only by a love of money but by feelings of personal spite towards the fans and a contempt for the characters that feature in the comics. They believe that the creation of a comic that they don't care for justifies the posting of personal criticism in public forums that is, at best, sneering, mean-spirited and unfair, and at worst, vile, offensive and upsetting.

These fans are not fans at all, they are bell-ends!

It seems to me that far too many commentators on the internet can't express an opinion about a creator's work without accusing them of ruining the character, and comics in general, forever. A bad comic can't just be a bad comic, it's always "the final nail in the coffin" for Spider-Man/Superman/Archie/DC/Marvel etc etc. A particular editorial direction for one character can signal the death knell for the entire medium!

According to these commentators there are three main motivating factors for these contentious decisions. The first is money. Because of course, if you want to become filthy rich, the life of a comic creator is the obvious direction to take! The other motivation is a hatred of the characters. You can just imagine a creator working for years at art school, slaving away at a nine-to-five job and drawing at night, sending their work off and receiving rejection after rejection, just so one day they can show that snooty Blue Beetle who's boss! The third motivational factor is the fact that these creators just don't like YOU! That's right, YOU! Not fans, not comics bloggers, just YOU personally. They are out to get YOU!

You might think I'm exaggerating but just Google-search subjects such as "DC Comics Nu52" or "Spider-Man: One More Day" and it won't be long before you find a blog or a message board just chock-full of people expressing variations of the opinions I described above. I can think of at least one comics blogger in particular who honestly seems to believe that former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada holds a personal dislike of older fans and that he gained some sort of perverse pleasure from the online outrage generated from his controversial decision to eradicate Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane.

I'm no expert but it seems to me that if someone wants to be a writer or an artist then there are far more lucrative careers to pursue, say for example, in film, TV, journalism or advertising. The very fact that someone has gone to the effort to pursue a career specifically in comics would seem to imply to me that this person possesses a love for the medium at least, if not a love for the characters and the mythology that they're working with. Why then, would money be their sole motive? Why would spite be their motive?! Most comic creators are unlikely to be contemptuous of fans because chances are, they're fans themselves!

There is one simple fact that a lot of comic fans need to wrap their heads around; you can't please everybody! If a comic creator has killed someone off or rebooted some aspect of a character, then chances are they weren't trying to piss YOU off, they were just trying to tell the best story that they possibly could. Naturally, not everyone is going to agree with their decision, but just because you and your internet pals don't like it, doesn't mean that there's not a lot of people out there enjoying the hell out of it. Sometimes these creators are going to make a decision that proves universally unpopular. Sometimes it can be said with hindsight that the wrong decision was made. But these people have worked hard to get into the position where they can make these decisions, not you! It's their call to make, not yours!

I know that the behaviour I've described isn't exclusive to comic fans. There are a lot of very unpleasant people on the internet and they're fans of all kinds of things, from music to toys. I'm also not saying that comic creators are untouchable and shouldn't be criticised, but let's criticise the work and not the person. Let's keep a sense of perspective and bear in mind that our taste in comics might not be shared by every fan. Comic creators aren't some aloof elite tossing out comics from on high while they siphon up your money. They're talented men and women that work hard. There's a good chance that they love comics just as much as you do and there's a good chance that they might read whatever snarky shit you've decided to post about them, especially if you tag them on Twitter!

All I'm saying is, let's not be pricks about it.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Movie Spider-Man Vs. Comic Book Spider-Man

When I first saw Spider-Man (2002) in the cinema I'm not ashamed to say that I wept! Okay, maybe I'm a little ashamed but you have to understand what it meant at the time. The Spider-Man movie had been in development hell for years and despite the success of previous Marvel movies such as Blade and X-Men, there was still every chance that things could go horribly wrong. James Cameron had been linked to the Spidey movie for years, and every now and again we'd hear dreadful rumours about some horrible deviation from the source material such as an evil businessman Electro or a Dock Ock played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though Sam Raimi was now directing, the fear of some horrible Hollywood bastardisation remained.

So imagine my relief when we got a fun, exciting movie that seemed to bend over backwards to stay true to the source material. Behind the green armour, Norman Osborn was just as twisted as his comic counterpart, Aunt May and Uncle Ben were straight off the comic page, Spidey's stunts and poses were spot on and J.K. Simmons was born to play J. Jonah Jameson. But best of all, Peter Parker was a nerd! One of my biggest fears was that whoever played Pete would just be some Hollywood pretty boy who always got the girl. Tobey Maguire played Pete as a quintessential nerd. Shy, geeky and awkward. Perfect.

Or so it seemed at the time.

Since then we've been lucky enough to have several spot on interpretations of our heroes. As well as the amazing work of director Christopher Nolan and actors Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine in bringing the Batman universe to life we've also been blessed with the recent cinematic output from Marvel. Among their many recent accomplishments Marvel have given us Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark, perhaps the most perfect, loyal and satisfying movie interpretation of a comic character ever. In light of all of these great films, not to mention all of this perfect casting, Spider-Man begins to look a little less great in comparison. More specifically, Tobey Maguire's interpretation of Peter Parker starts to look not quite as spot on as it first seemed.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Maguire's Spider-Man is too wet! Sure, Pete's a nerd, but there's an anger in the Peter Parker of the comic that Maguire never quite captures, especially in the early Stan Lee/Steve Ditko stuff. If you read those early Spidey stories there's frustration constantly bubbling under the surface of Peter Parker. It can still be found in Spidey comics today, but it's particularly prevalent in those early issues. Pete is constantly depicted as being flushed with anger at Flash Thompson, or Jonah Jameson. Not just annoyance but genuine rage. Occasionally Pete would even lose his cool completely and snap back at Flash or Jonah. On those occasions he could be quite scathing. This Peter Parker was cleverer than most and he knew it.

Compare the Peter Parker in the scenes above with Maguire's Pete. Maguire's Pete is nice to a fault. You could never imagine him fantasising about Flash Thompson "losing a mouthful of teeth". His Pete would probably hold back even if he didn't have Spidey powers to worry about. He has moments of frustration, and even righteous fury, but he never conveys the ugly, sweaty anger that comic Spidey has bubbling beneath the surface. Comic Pete has to struggle to hold back his anger, whereas it seems to come naturally to sweet, good natured Maguire-Pete. It's this struggle that makes comic Pete a better character than Maguire-Pete; doing the right thing doesn't come as easy to comic Pete, but he still does it! Indeed, Maguire's so ill-suited to showing the uglier side of Pete, that when he finally does have to tap into these qualities in Spider-Man 3, we get a ridiculous, sulky, dancing, emo version of Pete.

Having said that, I still really like Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, but it's hard to deny that aspects of them suffer in comparison to more recent super-hero films. It is worth remembering however that these two films get a lot of things right, and the fact that Pete is played as a nerd at all, even if it is the wrong kind of nerd, is still pretty awesome. Spider-Man, along with X-Men probably played a large part in showing Hollywood that you can stay close to the source material and still have a successful super-hero film. So even though it doesn't tick as many of the boxes as Iron Man or Captain America, Spider-Man probably made it much easier for those films to be as great as they are.

I just hope that Andrew Garfield, who will play Peter Parker in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man, remembers that Peter Parker isn't just a nerd.

He's an angry nerd!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Some Plot Speculation (POSSIBLE SPOILERS)


This year will see the release of Christopher Nolan's final instalment in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. The internet is rife with speculation as to how Nolan's Dark Knight saga will end, and this blog is no different.  I have a theory as to how the trilogy will end. It may turn out to be a load of cobblers but I think there's a good chance I could be on to something.

First let's take a look at what we know:
So, with all this in mind, here is my theory on what will happen in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Nolan will surprise everyone and reveal that Selina "Catwoman" Kyle is just a cover identity for Talia! This 'two-characters-in-one' trick isn't new to Nolan. At the end of Batman Begins it is revealed that Henri Ducard (an established character in the comic) is actually a cover identity for Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson). 'Selina' and Bruce will of course become lovers at some point in the film. 
  • Whether Talia is played by Hathaway, Cottilard, or someone else, she will give birth to Bruce's son, possibly named Damian. 
  • Batman will eventually defeat Bane (and possibly Talia/Catwoman) but will be left with a broken body and will no longer be able to continue his career as Batman. 
  • The film will end with Bruce retiring in order to raise his son, possibly to train him to continue as Batman, but most likely to give him the normal life that he himself was denied.

Hathaway: Is she playing two villains?

I may be way off here but I think the facts fit my theory rather neatly. Also, in Batman Begins Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache) features prominently in several flashbacks, and Bruce living up to his father's memory is a prominent theme. If Bruce gained a son in the final film it would make a nice thematic bookend for the trilogy.

Damian Wayne: Son of The Bat!

So, what do you think? Have I cracked it, or am I talking out of my backside? Either way, there's one thing about the film of which we can be fairly certain. This film is going to be awesome!

UPDATE 21/7/12: Wow! I was way off. Probably for the best, what we got was much better than what I predicted. Much, much better!