This article takes a rather grim position, yet it does speak truth. Marvel is in a sales slump. There are various reasons why this is so. There’s no one thing you can put your finger on. We can say with accuracy that Big M has been mismanaged these last couple’a few years. Revising the universe every month or three, relaunching titles ad nauseam. On a personal level, I can testify to the practice that has driven me away: the forced diversity initiative. Removing established characters and replacing them with new politically correct ones, just for the sake of having more female characters, gay characters, minority characters, yadda yadda yadda. Marvel, in trying to attract new readers, has alienated many of its old ones. And, like I said, that’s just ONE thing the company is doing wrong.

Over at DC, meanwhile, things are certainly, um, interesting. Whether you like the current storyline or you don’t, you can’t say it isn’t interesting. A whole slew of Bat-men. All evil. Why? Why not! Which one is your favorite? The Doomsday Batman is awful dang cool, I say. But the Joker Batman has my heart. And we’re getting ready to see Superman throw down with Dr. Manhattan from WATCHMEN. Yeah, right now DC is the one drawing my attention. Marvel should–and no doubt, will–take a lesson from it.

I could summon a little more enthusiasm, I reckon, considering that it isn’t REALLY the return of the Fantastic Four we’re talking about. Not yet. It’s the return of Marvel-Two-In-One, a comic I used to love as a kid. It featured the Thing in a team-up with a different character every month or couple of months. It was fun and entertaining. It hits the old nostalgia button.

Can I just be honest? I was never that interested in Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. The Thing and the Human Torch were the characters I cared about, so the fact that the new Marvel-Two-In-One series will focus exclusively on the two of them sits just fine with me. Whether it does, as promised, lead to the eventual return of the Fantastic Four to the Marvel Universe or whether it doesn’t, I don’t care. Johnny and Ben getting their own shared comic book excites me.

Is there any way Marvel could make the Fantastic Four viable again? Even before those three awful, awful, awful movies, the team had slipped way down on the list of prominence for comic-reading fans. The book had not been “The world’s greatest comic magazine!” in a long, long time.

The new Marvel-Two-In-One series debuts this December, with Chip Zdarsky writing and artwork by Jim Cheung.

I loved THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. It came out when I was a little kid obsessed with comic books and superheroes–as opposed to being an adult who is obsessed with comic books and superheroes, but nowadays I’m a little more picky about my entertainment choices. Not that I wouldn’t love, or have loved, I guess I should say, THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO if it had first come out today. It’s hard to say for sure. So much of the charm of the series was its 80s aesthetic. (As a little bit of trivia, the name of the lead character was changed from “Hinckley” to “Hanley” after John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981.) I’ve wondered how long it would be before somebody decided to remake the series. Personally I’d hoped for a theatrical movie. Instead there’s going to be a new television series. I’d be more excited about this news than I am if I hadn’t also learned that the new series will feature a female lead character, of Indian descent. In other words, it’s going to be another case of PC anti-whitewashing.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t give a rip about the gender or the ethnicity of any given character. It’s continuity I care about. The GAH is a white male. That’s established continuity. Now if this series were to take place in the same universe as the original and constituted not a “reimagining” but a continuation, I’d be fine with it. A new hero taking over for the original. They could even get William Katt, star of the original series, to appear. I’d be down with that. As it is, the changing of the gender and race of the lead character smacks of tokenism, and that’s a shame.

I’m probably more concerned about this than I should be, as I doubt this news series will fly, anyway. But it wrecks the chances for a THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO movie. Not that, if a movie were to be made, it would possibly bear any resemblance to the show I loved as a kid, anyway.

Normally I hang my head in disgust when anything political becomes an issue in entertainment. PC Culture is toxic and vile, and we need a safe refuge from it. Alas, no such refuge exists. Some problems, though, are easily avoided, or would be, if people would just not be stupid. A perfect example of this stupidity was the decision to cast Ed Skrein of DEADPOOL fame in the upcoming HELLBOY reboot. The character assigned to Skrein, Ben Daimio, is of Asian descent. Skrein is not of Asian descent. What were they thinking? Remember how the PC wankers squealed like gutshot porcines after Tilda Swinton got cast in DR. STRANGE in a role that was, according to the comics that inpired the film, supposed to be Asian. (Ironically, this shitstorm came about because the director was actively TRYING to be PC sensitive, fearing that casting an elderly Asian in the role would have been stereotypical. I tell ya, there just ain’t no pleasin’ the PC wankers.)

The studio, Lionsgate, should have known better. Skrein, however, showed that he has integrity. When he found out about this issue, he voluntarily stepped down. “I must do what I feel is right,” he said. Good on you, boy! It would be wrong for the studio to change the ethnicity of the character, just as it is wrong when they change the ethnicity of any established character by casting a minority in a role that should be played by a Caucasian. There are a few cases where they got away with it and it worked–Heimdall in the THOR films, Jason Momoa as Aquaman–but it never works the other way around, casting somebody white in a role that should be played by a minority.

It shouldn’t fall to the actors to have to make such decisions, but they have to when the studios are too stupid to do it themselves. Skrein just did Lionsgate a big favor.

James Cameron said that WONDER WOMAN was a “step back” for feminism in movies. He said it nicely. But the director of WONDER WOMAN, Patty Jenkins, laid some serious smack down on him anyway. She did it nicely, too.

Here’s what HE had to say: “All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit…” Hmmm. I think plugging your own character, there, counts as “self-congratulatory back-patting” too, Jimmy.

Here’s what Patty Jenkins said in reply: “James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for [is] unsurprising as…he is not a woman…if women have to always be hard, tough, and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far…”

Yep. Owned. A woman can be sexy, physically beautiful, and still be strong, Jimmy. Maybe you are just intimidated by strong women?

I really, really hope the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE movie doesn’t suck. A sucky movie can ruin the day of a collector. I remember acquiring a McDonalds Happy meal toy of Electro from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. I was excited to get hold of the figure before it was officially available to the public–I won’t reveal how I managed it–even though I had reservations about the film itself. Then it came out and it sucked so hard it completely ruined my appreciation for the figure. I sold it on eBay.

I stopped by a K-Mart that was having a going-out-of-business sale recently. Everything was marked down, and I about whooped for joy when I found a Batman vs. Steppenwolf action figure 2-pack on the toy aisle. When I got to the register, though, the cashier told me they couldn’t sell it to me, because they had made a mistake and put it out on the shelves too early. “But you’ll be out of business by the time you’re supposed to put it out,” I argued. “What are they gonna do with the figures then?” But it was to no avail. This pissed me off, and I tracked down the figure set on the aforementioned eBay for not much more than I would have paid at the K-Mart. Y’hear that, K-Mart? Suck it!

I have since purchased a 12-inch Aquaman figure and a Parademon.

Please don’t suck, JUSTICE LEAGUE movie. PLEASE don’t suck.

Zack Snyder can’t catch a break. The media en masse are participants, either willingly or because they can’t help themselves, in the pile-on effect. It’s good business to, as Don Henley, sang: “Kick ’em when they’re up! Kick ’em when they’re down!” Also, to quote the former Eagle, “We can do the innuendo, we can dance and sing, but when it’s said and done, we haven’t told you a thing.” So, so true. If there ever was anything resembling journalistic integrity, the Internet killed it. Sites report on rumors, completely unverified rumors, and then other sites parrot them, and things that were never true to begin with become “common knowledge.”

There’s a RUMOR going around that the upcoming Justice League movie was “unwatchable.” Is it true? There’s not an ounce of proof to back it up, but it doesn’t matter. It makes for a good headline. We on the Internet live and die by the clicks. You might be thinking it’s hypocritical of me to say this, considering I also am paid to write articles for the Internet, and I also want to generate “hits.” I admit all that, but I have not knowingly written lies in an attempt to garner attention. If something I write about is just a rumor, I will state that it is just a rumor and I try to encourage my readers not to take it as more than that. (In fairness, some of those other sites have also added such disclaimers to their posts. SOME of them.) RUMORS ARE NOT FACTS, people. And MOST rumors end up not being true.

There’s no way that Snyder can win this one. If the movie ends up sucking, they’ll say it was because of him. And if it ends up being good, they’ll say it was Joss Whedon who came in and “saved” it. I feel bad for the guy. We’ll probably never know where one director’s influence ended and the other’s began. But it’s a guarantee at this point that any faults found with the film will be laid at Snyder’s feet, whether they belong there or not.

We all know that crap is king.

I think they may have lost me these past couple of issues. I think this series may have leapt over the proverbial Hammerhead. Are we really supposed to believe that they’d kill off Black Widow? This smacks of a publicity stunt and nothing more. In a story involving a Cosmic Cube, wherein everything can be put back to right at the end, do they expect any of us to believe it? I was willing to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt with this one. I found them turning Captain America into a Hydra agent, aka a Nazi, as distasteful as the next guy, but I figured they had a plan to wrap it up in a satisfying manner. Now I’m not so sure. When I saw that Steve Rogers, presumably the REAL Steve Rogers, was still alive but trapped in some other dimension or timeline or wherever the hell he is–and according to the Red Skull it IS Hell, literally–I breathed a sigh of relief. Now I’ve lost it again. This series is really starting to feel like it has gone off the rails. I think it might just turn into another case of “Clone fever,” wherein a story gets away from its writer, the writer paints himself into a corner, and there is no way to satisfactorily finish it. The only solution is to throw the whole thing out and start fresh.

If Marvel does choose to leave Natasha “dead” for a while, what you wanna bet we’ll get a NEW Black Widow who is a minority character? Just so Marvel can have another one. That’s another area where Big M is seemingly off the rails.

Enough. Get it together, Marvel, lest I become strictly a DC man. It could happen.

When I was a kid, I always hated when they’d start running the back-to-school commercials on TV. Today the deluge seems to hit right about the same time it did during my childhood–after the Fourth of July–even though they’ve shortened summer vacation to two instead of three months. I feel bad for the kids of today. By the time this article posts, many of them will already be back in school, and it’s the middle of freakin’ summer!

Anyway, have you seen the new commercials from Walmart featuring kids with their superhero-inspired backpacks and other accoutrements transforming into their heroes of choice? We see Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, as well as certain Transformers and Power Rangers. It’s cool, and provides a little twinge of nostalgia, bringing back memories of my own childhood, and the search for such epic clothes and supplies. I mean, if I HAD to go, I wanted to go in style.

Here’s something else that’s cool. Stan “The Man” Lee getting to hang out on the set of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and being paid homage by stars like Robert Downey Jr. (who told Stan “I owe it all to you”), Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tom Holland. Stan’s wife of almost 75 years recently passed away, and it’s nice to see him gifted with such light, love, and respect. He is more than deserving. And yes, we DO owe it all to him.

Last week I made a prediction that Ben Affleck would not be reprising the role of Batman in Matt Reeves’ upcoming movie. Turns out I wasn’t alone, as headlines started popping up all over the Internet that Affleck was going to be “phased out.” THEY claimed it was because of his age–the dude’s only 45, whereas Robert Downey Jr. is in his early 50s and still playing Iron Man–whereas I felt it was because Reeves had decided to scrap Affleck’s script for the movie and start over. I and all the other online prognosticators may have been wrong, as Affleck confirmed at the San Diego Comic Con his intention to still play the role, calling Batman the greatest part any actor could ever want and stating that he was enthusiastic about working with Reeves. At the least, then, we can say that if Affleck is ousted as the Caped Crusader, it won’t be HIS decision. I’m kinda glad. I’d like to see the guy have a chance to redeem the role. I came to appreciate his half-psychotic “burnout” Batman in BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN, but it WASN’T Batman. Not the Batman of the comics. Not the Batman we all know.

Ima make another prediction, then. Given the concerns over Affleck being older than the other members of the Justice League, and given the bad taste his portrayal in BVS left in some fans’ mouths, I predict the new Batman film, and perhaps new trilogy, will take place BEFORE the events of BVS. That they will be prequels, featuring a younger, saner, more familiar Batman. How can they make him younger? Easily. Just a little hair dye to cover the gray around the temples. Affleck is in hella good shape. He looks terrific. He could have years of playing Batman ahead of him. I hope he does. But I predict it WON’T be the Batman from BVS we’ll see on the screen.