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Somebody with a hand on the gravy tap must have rapped author Bret Easton Ellis (most famous as the writer of AMERICAN PSYCHO) on the knuckles. First Ellis starts a rumor that Warner Brothers has lost all faith in the upcoming film THE BATMAN, which is set to star, be written by and be directed by Ben Affleck, and are in fact actively trying to sabotage the project. (One has to wonder why they, or anyone, would choose to cost themselves money. It seems a tad implausible.) Then he immediately turns around and announces that nope, he didn’t know anything after all, that he was misquoted (maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t; you never know with interviewers), that it was all just a rumor and probably untrue to begin with. I’ll go one further and say that it IS untrue. How can we know this? Because it doesn’t make sense. If you had a dueling set of studio bigwigs, and each one was trying to cut the legs out from beneath the other one, then it’s possible that yes, you might end up with a situation like what happened to JOHN CARTER over at Disney, a decent film offered up as a sacrifice to petty business bickering. But there’s no evidence this is going on at Warner Brothers.

In the future, Bret, try to remember the sage advice offered by the Timex Social Club: “How do rumors get started? They’re started by the jealous people. They get mad seeing something they had and somebody else is holding…Stop (Stop) spreadin’ those rumors around! Stop (Stop) spreadin’ lies!”

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If it was any other character, I’d think it was a stupid idea. If it was any other writer than Brian Michael Bendis, I’d dismiss the whole thing as a tacky publicity stunt. Doctor Doom replaces Tony Stark as Iron Man. It’s ridiculous. As ridiculous as having Doctor Octopus replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man. As far as the latter goes, though, by now we all know that SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, despite all the grousing we did when we heard about it, actually worked. Likewise, if we’re going by the first issue of THE INFAMOUS IRON MAN, that idea is going to work, too.

We don’t even know, thanks to Marvel’s screwy scheduling, WHY Tony Stark is no longer wearing his armor, but that really isn’t necessary to enjoy INFAMOUS, as it is Doctor Doom’s story. Doom is my favorite Marvel villain, although I have argued in the past that he doesn’t truly deserve to be labeled as such. Megalomaniacal? Sure. But he isn’t EVIL. I don’t doubt for a second that he has ulterior motives for playing the part of the hero now; hell, I’d be disappointed if he didn’t. But it’s a kick watching him try to be good. I expect it’ll be even more fun as he discovers that he’s actually GOOD at it.

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It’s funny how the event that serves as the low-water mark for the comics industry (not counting the flotsam that was produced during the “glory days” of Image), or if not the entire industry then at least for Marvel as a company—I’m speaking of the Clone fiasco of the 90s, although you probably could’ve guessed that—has not only been embraced by creators today but is being successfully revisited. You might thing Marvel would want people to forget that it ever happened; you might expect Marvel itself would like to forget that it ever happened. Yet we have seen Kaine the Clone brought back as the Scarlet Spider, and even given his own series, which wasn’t half bad, in all honesty. Now we are seeing another major clone storyline, courtesy of Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. Perhaps most surprising of all, the new storyline is actually good.

For newbie fans who weren’t around for the original clone trainwreck, they brought back a clone of Peter Parker from way back in the history of the series, then tried to convince everybody that the clone was the original Spider-Man, the REAL one, while the Spider-Man whose adventures we’d all been following for decades was in reality the clone. It was a classic fake-out that got way out of hand and transformed Spider-Man into a bad SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit. Let’s hope that Slott can avoid having that happen again. Thus far he’s doing fine.

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When I first heard that Benedict Cumberbatch had been cast as the Sorcerer Supreme for the mega-budget Marvel film, I said that he was the perfect choice, and I was right. I’m now convinced there isn’t anything the guy can’t do, and he delivers a downright Oscar-worthy performance as the arrogant surgeon turned selfless magic-wielder. DOCTOR STRANGE is the thinking man’s superhero movie, or the film snob’s, but that doesn’t mean it is any less enjoyable in any way for the casual fan. It just means it’s good enough, its quality is high enough, that one need not feel inferior when comparing it to any highbrow cinematic effort. Acting, pace, storyline—it’s perfect.

Oh, and those effects! Mind-bending, trippy, like watching an M.C. Escher painting come to life. This one will require successive viewings just to catch everything; on video, if you wanted to guarantee you miss NOTHING that is there. You’d need to go frame by frame, freezing the image, and study each shot in-depth, like the complex work of art that it is. Don’t wait for the video release, though. This one needs to be experienced on the big screen. Preferably on IMAX. In 3-D. If you’re on the fence, consider this the not-so-gentle nudge needed to get you to the theater. Do not miss DOCTOR STRANGE. You will be the poorer for it.

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If the PC police are the nice ones, the ones who waste much sound and fury lamenting all the imagined wrongs in the media world (usually while ignoring the real ones), then the nasty ones can be called PC vigilantes, or maybe a PC lynch mob. They’re all losers, but the latter are the most annoying if not the most dangerous. Writer Chelsea Cain has deleted her twitter account after being attacked by trolls. You may remember that Joss Whedon also deleted his account after AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and the pile-on he received from PC vigilantes who felt he wasn’t feminist enough. Cain seems to have been targeted not by wannabe PC wankers, though, but by plain old garden-variety trolls, who are picking on her because she IS feminist.

I have a helpful suggestion for folks like Cain and Whedon. It’s a handy little two-word phrase, useful for dealing with both PC vigilantes and trolls in general. The first word is the vulgarity “fuck,” and it should be followed immediately by the word “you.” An exclamation point may be added for emphasis, but this is rarely necessary, as the term, when used correctly, seldom needs clarification. For simplicity’s sake, one can simply copy and paste the term, to use it over and over again. It is a one-size-fits-all reply to any online hater. I’ve found it works splendidly. Oh, and in those instances where some cowardly troll makes a physical threat, erroneously believing the Internet grants them anonymity and carte blanche? Just report the threats to the police. I had a guy threaten me not too long ago because I wrote something disparaging about Donald Trump. I replied back to him, informing him that the authorities had been notified and an official complaint had been made. He seemed surprised that I had actually taken that step, and didn’t seem to realize that online threats ARE admissible as evidence in a court of law. In most cases, if the threat were to be followed through on, they are tantamount to a confession. Trolls, and end even self-righteous PC vigilantes, don’t much cotton to the idea that they could actually be prosecuted for something they posted online.

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See, here’s the problem with being PC. There is no cut-off point. If you start making concessions, you just have to keep right on making them. Because there’s alaways going to be SOMEBODY who is offended over SOMEthing. Always. It’s as certain in our modern world as death, taxes, and shipping-and-handling charges. Give the devil an inch, as the old saying goes, and he’ll take a mile. The “devil” in this case is censorship—which is really what Political Correctness amounts to. It’s about censoring things so somebody somewhere doesn’t get offended. Anyone who thinks being PC is simply about being respectful and polite fails to grasp the results when such a philosophy is taken to its extremes—and philosophies and movements are ALWAYS taken to extremes by SOMEbody. Again, death, taxes, and shipping. It’s inevitable.

I would tend to agree with Marvel on this one, though. They pulled a J. Scott Campbell cover featuring the Big M’s latest in a series of token characters, RiRi Williams. Not just because it is “sexualizing” the character, as was the case with complaints about that Spider-Woman cover a couple’a years back. In this case, since the token, I mean “character,” in question is supposed to be underage, then I agree that it isn’t a good idea to draw her in too sexy a manner. Not that I find the cover image particularly sexy, but it’s better to err on the side of caution where sex and underage girls are concerned.

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Or “Meow-Meow.” Depends on who you ask. Either way, the joke is that Kat Denning’s character in the Thor movies, Darcy, can’t pronounce the name of Thor’s enchanted Uru Hammer, Mjolnir. Thanks to the films, all of which have been hits for Marvel Studios, aka Disney, all the rest of us know how to pronounce it, though. That could’ve come in handy to me when I was a little kid reading the comics and trying to pronounce it with the J sounding like a J and not a Y. “Mih-Jol-ner” is how I thought it sounded. I didn’t know the Vikings pronounced the J like a Y and the final three letters more like “near.” (To be technically correct, I should say it is pronounced like “nyr.”)

After decades of use and having its name mispronounced, Marvel writer Jason Aaron has revealed that Mjolnir has its own personality. Like, it can talk. One wonders why it never has, but then maybe it’s just never had a reason. Like Thor, perhaps it is the strong silent type. Except Thor tends to be braggadocios when he gets in his cups. Mjolnir, then, we can assume, does not drink. A logical conclusion, wouldn’t you say?

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And here we have another in a seemingly endless stream of modern-day, properly morally outraged wannabe social justice champions running his mouth about “white saviors” and discrimination. Gawd, it’s gotten old. See, these wankers—I think that’s what I’m going to officially christen them, “social justice wankers,” as they are by and large a useless and irritating lot—are busy wringing their hands over the fact that Danny Rand is a white guy, and by his going into K’un L’un as the primary character, that makes him racist. That makes him a “white savior,” and his doing of any good deed for anyone of another race is racist. Also, his failure to do a good deed for anyone of another race is racist. It’s a true damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. The only way to fix it would be to make Danny not white. Or Tarzan not white. Or Daenerys not white. Or any white hero not white. Or else you could keep them in settings, surrounded by cultures, that are all white. But wait, that would be exclusionary! That would be racist, too! Oh, what to do, what to do?! Let’s just not make any more TV shows/comics/movies featuring ANY of those characters! Censorship is the only true means of preventing offending someone!

Or here’s another idea, genius: How about we don’t worry about it. How about instead we worry about the unarmed black guys getting shot in the streets by twitchy policemen? How about we worry about REAL instances of racism? Sure, yeah, people can worry about more than one thing at once. I concede that. But so many of these social justice wankers—heretofore to be know as SJWs—DON’T seem to worry about them. But they can sure bitch and moan about Danny Rand being white! Morons.

ALSO, Danny is half Asian. His momma came from K’un L’un, didn’t she? For that matter, K’un L’un is a make-believe place. Who says the K’un L’un-ians are supposed to be Asian anyway? You just PRESUMED they were? How racist of you!

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I had quite the online discussion on social media after this story hit. Some of the details might be of use to some of you. It seems the word “queer,” which used to be an epithet and considered highly offensive to gay people, has been embraced by younger gays and is now socially acceptable. To them. Not to the older gay folks. They might still get offended. Also, I got schooled on calling gay people gay. “Gay” has always meant “homosexual” in my life experience, but it would seem today it only applies to gay men, or homosexual men, to be precise. Homosexual women are not gay. They are “lesbians” or bisexual. Or both they and gay men—or we can just call them gays now, I guess, since by definition they MUST be men, so I was told—can both be called “queer.” As for the fifteen other letters that come after LGBT now, I have no idea what they stand for and, if I’m honest, I don’t care. I don’t care for terminology. I don’t judge people’s worth based on their sexuality or gender. I’d hope that would be acceptable to most gay people—homosexual people, I mean—and that no homosexual woman would ever get offended if I mistakenly referred to her as “gay.” Similarly, I still have a hard time using “queer,” even though I am assured that it is now okay to do so, because of its historic use as a pejorative.

ANYway, it has been revelaed that Wonder Woman is bisexual. Officially revealed. George Perez was hinting at it back in the 80s. It’s kind of a given if you ask me. She lived in a society where there WERE no men, remember. Either the Amazons would all be asexual—apparently that’s what the “A” stands for in the series of letters that follows after LGBT, or alternately “N” for “neuter” or “neutral”—which doesn’t really make sense—or else they’d all be into homosexual relationships. Once Wonder Woman encountered men, she discovered she liked them, too. This is far from being as big a deal as it would have been in years past. And the fact that it isn’t? That’s a good thing.

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If someone on the outside of comics fandom were to ask me to explain to them everything that was and is wrong with the comics medium, I’d hand ‘em an issue of Todd McFarlane’s SPAWN. It is the veritable definition of style over substance, of seeking profitability over quality of story. Back in the dismal early 90s, McFarlane led a mass exodus from then-corrupt Marvel Comics, and he and his cohorts founded Image, a “creator-owned” company wherein the rock-star artists—as all the founders of Image were—were free to create their own stories with their own characters, free of editorial oversight, and also free of having any actual writers penning their stories for them. The comics were pretty to look at, but they were collectively the worst that has ever been printed in the history of the medium. McFarlane’s SPAWN wasn’t as bad as some of them—Liefeld’s and Larsen’s work holds that “honor”—but it damn sure wasn’t any good, either. McFarlane did get better as a writer with the passage of time; after a few years he managed to attain downright mediocrity. But SPAWN was by far the most successful and the most visual of the only-the-artwork-matters mode of comic creating. The speculator market fueled by the creation of Image almost destroyed the comics medium, and that’s not an exaggeration.

An inevitable movie followed. It was the onscreen version of the comic, a perfect adaptation—which is a nice way of saying it sucked every bit as much as the comic series. Now, even though the horse has been dead so long that all the desiccated meat has fallen off the brittle bones, McFarlane claims he plans to inflict yet another SPAWN movie on the masses. Granted, nobody would go see it, but honestly, Todd, haven’t you done enough damage to pop culture already?