Category Archives: Superheroes

Bendy

I’m super looking forward to Captain America: Winter Soldier and am glued to every little image that comes out for it. They just released these new posters, and I had two immediate reactions to this one:

If you're into that sort of thing.

The first was: aHOOOOga *pant pant pant*

The second was: hold up, how did a Black Widow image that doesn’t feature her twisting her torso to show every single part of her anatomy off at the same time slip through? Someone is losing their job over this.

(Neither here nor there, I still can’t give my daughter a Black Widow toy because they all have her toting giant guns. If someone could fix that next, I’d appreciate it.)

Anyway, you should go see Her, because it is incredigood and I’m not sure why anyone would have the gall to ever make another movie about relationships again.

“The Organization” Live!

My flash piece about one of the many dangers of workplace romance is now available over at A Thousand Faces.

You’re going to need a hardhat.

Let me know what you think!

I have also written a Christmas story. If all goes well, you may be able to read it in a few weeks. If not, I’ll have to hang on to it and try to sell it next year, since I didn’t write it until yesterday. Christmas holiday themed things have a rather narrow window of only about half a year, you know.

Shenanigans

For those unfamiliar with some of the goings on of the early comic book industry back in the first half of, er , last century, there was a period where a young DC comics, in its fervent attempts to protect a budding Superman, sued pretty much everyone else producing a superhero comic at the time. To their credit, most of the time they were likely right. (If you’ve never read Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, it covers a lot of this stuff, and is a great read.)

At any rate, I found this article over at The Comics Detective about one particular trial involving Will Eisner, one of the greats in the biz. The complete transcripts of Eisner’s testimony are available there. I’ve only had a chance to read the first few pages, but it’s fascinating stuff. My favorite line so far comes from the judge (who just seems really impatient and annoyed with the whole lawsuit): “I don’t know that a man in tights can be copyrighted.”

Reads: Fantastic Four #1

So not too long ago, I nabbed this from a local comic shop out of their clearance bin for practically nothing (it’s $50 there on Amazon, I got it for maybe five or six dollars). It’s an incredible deal, a collection of nearly every issue of Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer up to just a few years ago.

It’s hard to argue against the Fantastic Four’s boast of being “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.” It’s high concept science fiction that perfectly represents the attitudes of the ’60s, and the book revolutionized superhero books at the time. It’s likely the superhero would have faded out long before now if not for Reed Richards’s ill-conceived plan to take his girlfriend into space and get laid beat the Russians into space.

As I’m reading this first issue (November, 1961), a lot of things jump out at me, and I was having too much fun not to share. To the jump!

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All Star Superman, part Deux

DC finally saw fit to release the second half of Morrison and Quitely’s All Star Superman in paperback. I raved a bit about the first volume a while back, and got to read the rest of the story this past weekend. To my great irritation, an absolute edition was announced shortly before I received mine in the mail. You’ve won this round, DiDio.

With the first volume I was most struck by just how amazing they made Superman. He was powerful and could perform phenomenal feats, and the reader feels great just watching him do these things. All of Superman’s greatest traits are showcased, from his selfless compassion to his intelligence (which is often overlooked).

Some people complain that Superman is too powerful, and they can’t identify with him as a result. That’s all bullshit. It’s not like more the modest powers possessed by the likes of Spider-Man or  Captain America are attainable by us lowly humans, either. Even non-powered heroes like Batman are far better than any real person ever will be. Powers are little more than plot devices, anyway. They aren’t important. The personality behind them is what matters, just like any other genre. Kal-el of Krypton has plenty of personality to identify with.

The second volume is focused on another theme: the world is a better place with Superman. To me, this is vital. In my years of studying stories of heroes, from the epics of Gilgamesh and Beowulf to The Odyssey and Star Wars and Seven Samurai, one of the most important questions asked of any good hero story is whether the hero and their deeds makes their world a better place. Gilgamesh returns from his quests for immortality to discover that his people haven’t just gotten along just fine without him, they’ve actually thrived in his absence. Beowulf’s heroic deeds brought nothing but trouble on his people. The motley band of surviving ronin at the end of Seven Samurai muse on what it means that the people they’ve historically oppressed are capable of turning on them or abandoning them when the warriors are no longer needed. What does it mean to be a hero? And who gets more out of the experience? Is it worth the collateral damage?

By the end of All Star Superman volume 2, I’m convinced that this is a book that has found a hero who makes the world a better place. His legacy is inspiring. His actions improve lives. He has stopped evil that wasn’t somehow his own fault. Even when he’s just a character on a page, Supes changes things.

I’ll need to reread volume 1 and then this one again to really catch everything (it’s that kind of book), but my initial impression is that this book has effectively made the case for Superman. Not that he really needed any help, but it’s nice anyway.

Pointy

So as I mentioned last time, I’ve started work on a new superhero story. This is a character I’ve had floating around for a while and I think I finally came up with a fun angle from which to tell his story. I like this beginning. Now that I reread that earlier post I see that apparently I had decided against trick arrows, but why the hell would I do that? When I sat down to write I immediately started coming up with ridiculous and fun trick arrows for him to employ.

Anyway, here are the first few hundred words of an as-yet-untitled Quivering Jack story.

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Wonderous

I finally got around to watching the animated Wonder Woman DC produced this year.

Wonder Woman (2009)

I thought it was pretty great. The voice cast is excellent – Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, and Alfred Molina lead, with smaller roles for the likes of Rosario Dawson, Oliver Platt, and Virginia Madsen (oh, and now I see it also featured Beth from NewsRadio – I’ve always liked her). It’s a solid telling of Diana’s origin story that doesn’t pull any punches (though there’s a suspicious lack of blood on the swords – I guess decapitating someone is okay unless there’s actually blood, then look out!). My only complaint would be the same as with Justice League: New Frontier, that it needed another twenty minutes or so for some character development.

On a personal level, I thought it was awesome that they didn’t give Wonder Woman the ability to fly on her own. She had to use the old invisible jet to get around (actually, I always thought a jet would be the best way to get around even if you can fly – I imagine it would only take one mid-flight bug swallowing to send you scrambling to your local superhero vehicle dealer). As I watched her kicking the crap out of a monster in a dark New York alley, I couldn’t help but think of my Scarlet Ranger (whose origin is rooted in Greek mythology as well). In the Justice League animated series I never quite connected the two, as Wonder Woman was always flying around, but here I really saw it. Really, Kelly and Diana are nothing alike in terms of personality, and Diana is a far more skilled combatant, but it was fun to to see how Kelly might look in battle.

It put me in the mood to write her again, so we’ll see what comes of that.

Extollations

Reading

I’ve nabbed a gargantuan tome of short stories by T.C. Boyle, on Gay’s recommendation.

(Speaking of Gay, she’s got a pair of new stories up that you should check out, here and here.)

I do occasionally venture into that world of non-genre, contemporary fiction. A quick perusal of my bookshelves will find Rick Bass’s The Watch, Mark Richard’s The Ice at the Bottom of the World, and Eudora Welty’s A Curtain of Green. As I recall, each had at least a couple of stories I found excellent, though it’s been some time since I read any of them.

There’s also Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, which I loved. Colin Whitehead - The IntuitionistIt’s sort of an absurdest espionage story involving elevator inspectors that delivers some sharp social commentary. Great stuff. I really need to look into getting some of his other books.

A month or so ago TwoMorrows had a sale on their Modern Masters books, and I nabbed a couple (actually, looks like they have a sale going now, too, though not quite as good as the one I got). Volume 9 featuring Mike Wieringo, and Volume 10 featuring Kevin Maguire.

Mike was artist on an excellent run of Fantastic Four (along with writer Mark Waid) and an great visual storyteller. These Modern Masters books present a lot of the raw pages he drew, and even without the dialogue I have no trouble at all following the story. His art is full of fun, contagious energy. I identify a lot with Mike, the kinds of stories he likes, the moods he enjoys evoking, his unwarranted insecurities concerning his art. His sudden death a couple years ago pretty well crushed me. One of these days I’ll get a copy of his creator-owned Tellos. I don’t know why I keep putting it off. Maybe because I’ll feel awful, knowing that he won’t be able to produce more?

Fantastic Four, art by Mike Wieringo

Maguire was artist for the (in)famous Justice League International era of DCs premier superhero team back in the late ’80s, early ’90s. For those unfamiliar with the period, this was shortly after DCs big Crisis reboot of the Universe. Their big heroes (namely Superman and Wonder Woman) were all sort of tied up being modernized, so the company put together a new Justice League of lesser-known characters. There are few heroes I love more than the 2nd stringers, they guys who should never win but manage to anyway, and Maguire’s expressive art really made you love them. He’s one of those artists who doesn’t work as often as I’d like, and it’s a treat every time he pops up. His recent Batgirl arc of Batman Confidential was a hoot.

Formerly Known as the Justice League, art by Kevin Maguire

I finally read V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. I particularly liked the film version and the book didn’t change my opinion. They both work in their own ways. The film solved a few problems the book had and updates it for modern audiences, but it delivers a different philosophy, so I see how people might be a little irritated by it. People like to say the movie is an attack on the Bush administration, but I think that says more about Bush than the film. Plus I don’t get people saying Evey was a prostitute; she tries to be, for like one panel on page 2. What would people say about my entire summer of 2001?

Watching

I recently obtained a Playstation 3 and holy crap does Blu-Ray look good. We nabbed Superman and Goodfellas for cheap and they look amazing.

(FYI, if you ever want to see my cry like a baby, you’ll put on Superman and queue the scene where Superman saves Lois from the helicopter crash. Goddammit it gets me every time.)