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?

I’m still loving how DC turned what ended up being a big misstep—the relaunch of its entire comics line—into a plus via this new storyline linking all that has happened with the WATCHMEN. Just as happened with the NEW 52 relaunch, the REBIRTH storyline has put DC on top of the sales list, surpassing Marvel for the first time since that aforementioned relaunch, before the blossom fell off the proverbial rose. Yes, DC is on top again. For now. How long will it last? Will they be able to maintain this lead over the long haul, or will fans again become disillusioned and stop buying their books, allowing Marvel to reclaim the top spot? If they can keep the quality of the stories as good as it is now, and if Marvel continues its insistence on turning every one of its most legendary heroes into teenage minority characters, they just might.

Marvel’s plan to get minorities and teenage girls reading its books by rebranding all of its characters, re-forging them into minority teenage girls, HAS been working. Minorities and teenage girls HAVE started reading Marvel’s books. Problem is, everybody ELSE is now reading DC. (Yes, this is a big overgeneralization, but there is truth to my hyperbole.) How will this play out in the long haul? Will Marvel get its alienated longtime fans back, or has DC won their hearts for keeps?

I’m talking about the DC Cinematic universe, here. The comics universe is WAY cohesive, even after their questionable decision (questionable to my mind) to reinstate the Multiverse, basically undoing everything the now-classic CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS fixed back in the 80s. (Hopefully they’ll be able to maintain it.) But I’ve said all along that DC’s lack of one cohesive live action universe was hamstringing them. When you’ve got a TV universe and then a big-screen universe, they must inevitably compete with each other. THE FLASH TV show is really popular with fans. Won’t that make it just that much harder for the upcoming FLASH movie to succeed? Not only will the movie have to live up to expectations of fans who revere the character from the comics, they must also live up to those of fans of the television series.

If it was just the Flash, that wouldn’t be so bad. Only one movie’s success would be on the line. But there’s now Henry Cavill’s Superman, and then there’s the Superman who’s going to be featured on the new season of the SUPERGIRL TV series. And the contained reality of the TV universe is now creeping into the cinematic universe, as word is that the upcoming BOOSTER GOLD flick will NOT be a part of the cinematic universe. This is gonna get confusing, even for the fanboys (and girls) who know what’s going on. DC trying to sell a multiverse in the comics is tough enough. How can they possible sell it in their movies and TV shows?

source: www.cheatsheet.com

LSD is the drug informally called “acid,” right? And supposedly if you “drop acid” seven times you qualify as legally insane? Or was it five times? I’ve heard both, and I’m pretty sure both are urban legends. You could always google it if you’re interested enough; I’m not; I’m just using it as a metaphor, here. Being a hardcore Marvelite sometimes makes me feel schizophrenic. Just last week, or the week before, or yesterday, I was lamenting how Marvel so shamelessly shills gimmickry. Cases in point: the “killing” of the Incredible Hulk, complete with mandatory miniseries, and the even more shameless pandering to the PC movement by forcing racial and other kinds of diversity down its fans’ throats, replacing Tony Stark as Iron Man with a teenage girl being the latest example. It’s enough to make a guy want to swear off comics for good.

Then I go and read the latest issue of CIVIL WAR 2, and it’s so damn GOOD. Even knowing it’s going to lead up to the removal of Tony Stark and the installation of Iron Teen as the newest flavor-of-the-month doesn’t keep me from enjoying it. Totally schizo, right? I love it, I hate it, I keep right on reading. I will NOT be reading the adventures of Iron Teen, though. Not even if they gave the books away. I may be tacitly supporting Marvel’s tokenism by reading CW2, but as Val Kilmer said in TOMBSTONE, my hypocrisy only goes so far.

Isn’t this movement today towards forced inclusiveness a form of racism itself? The focus is being put on the skin color. Isn’t that, by the broadest definition of the word, racism? There are many who laud this increased inclusiveness, this expansion in racial diversity in the field, and rightfully so, as there SHOULD be greater diversity. Not every superhero should be white, Christian, American, and male, as they largely have been since the beginnings of the comic book pop culture phenomenon. But are the companies going about it the right way? That’s the question. By forcing it to happen too quickly, are they in fact devaluing the steps they are taking, undermining those advancements? Again, those whose focus is on the unfairness of the world in which comic heroes were allowed, for so many decades, to be white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, sans black characters, sans gay characters, sans strong female characters, then the fix can’t be forced too speedily. I don’t cotton to that way of thinking, however. Does that make ME somehow complicit in the disparity, which is really discrimination? Does that make ME racist? What’s the difference between me and the guy who just prefers having all white superheroes?

The difference, I think, is that I recognize that, historically, there has been a problem, that a lack of diversity remains a problem, and that the problem SHOULD be addressed. The debate is on the manner in which it would be best addressed. I disagree with the manner in which Marvel and DC and the rest are going about it, but I nevertheless applaud their efforts towards a desired end.

Even by comic book standards, this character isn’t going to stay dead for long. I remember back when DC foolishly let Grant Morrison, the most overrated writer in comics, as far as I’m concerned, kill off Bruce Wayne and replace him with former Robin Dick Grayson. The powers-that-be at DC promised that we wouldn’t be seeing Bruce again for a long time. Then sales figures must have spoken, because faster than a snap of the fingers Bruce was back and there was talk of killing off Dick! It’s absurd. Just as absurd as the recent killing off of the Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner. The latter, though, may prove even more ridiculous, as his “death” will likely last for an even shorter duration.

It’s true that Marvel hasn’t been using Bruce too much here lately, instead focusing on their boy-genius-cum-“totally awesome” hulk (note the lowercase “h”) Amadeus Cho. (Oh, I forgot to mention the most important attribute of the new hulk; he’s a totally awesome KOREAN boy genius, yet another example of Marvel forced PC tokenism.) Box Office dollars are far more powerful than PC notions, though, and there’s a new THOR movie coming out next year, a film in which the Hulk (note the capital “H”) is playing a major role. We can expect Bruce to stay “dead” until opening night, at the latest. Pathetic gimmickry.

source: comicvine.gamespot.com

So Rob Liefeld has come out with a brutal, scathing indictment of SUICIDE SQUAD. Who gives a rat’s ass? Nobody SHOULD, but unfortunately Liefeld is milking his status as the co-creator of Deadpool for all that its worth and has thus managed to gain the ear of pop culture hipsters who don’t know anything else about him, don’t know how ungodly BAD the vast majority of this goober’s work is and has been, don’t remember Image in its early days; if they did, they’d know not to pay attention to anything this pipsqueak says about anything. Liefeld DREW Deadpool, originated the visual appearance of the character, but writer Louise Simonson created everything else having to do with him. The same way that Bob Kane tried to steal all the credit for creating Batman at the expense of Bill Finger, who did most of the heavy lifting, Liefeld has in the past sought to downplay Simonson’s role. True comics geeks know better—and we know not to give Liefeld the time of day.

Here’s an opinion that actually holds weight, that of writer John Ostrander, whose role in the Suicide Squad comic franchise is so prominent that he got a building in the film named after him. Ostrander nailed it with this statement: “I know some of the critics, both in print and online, do not like the movie. That’s okay; everyone has a right to their own opinion even when it’s wrong. My problem is that…the critic is also tired of superhero and “tentpole” films and, overtly or covertly, would like to see their end. Look, I get it— they have to see all the films out there and they must be tired of all the blockbusters…I think that’s [what is] going on here…Just as I came prepared to love the movie, they came prepared to hate it.” Damn straight, Johnnie! You tell ‘em!

With each biased, unprofessional, put-the-paycheck-before-any-shred-of-journalistic-integrity, clickbait-y, pretentious, and perfidious review a modern “professional” movie critic writes, he becomes less relevant. And this is a good thing. Simply put, we don’t need the critics anymore, not with the Internet. Moviegoers are perfectly capable of making up their own minds now, thank you very much, without some blowhard telling them how to think, and if a consensus of opinion on any particular film is needed or desired, one can connect with any number of peers with the click of a mouse to solicit said consensus. Critics are an endangered species; they are going extinct. They can’t die off fast enough to suit me.

SUICIDE SQUAD is a blast. Just as with BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN earlier this year, the piling-on of negative reviews is largely for show and equally as groundless. The acting here is fine and dandy: Leto brings his own take to the Joker, and while he isn’t onscreen nearly enough he is like a shot of nitrous surging through the narrative engine when he does make an appearance; Margot Robbie is terrific as Harley Quinn, managing to be adorable, pitiable, and scary all at the same time; Will Smith delivers a dead-on Deadshot; and Viola Davis is Oscar-worthy as Amanda Waller. (Frankly she’s Oscar-worthy in anything she does, but still.) I only had one complaint with the film; there is one big implausibility that the script never addresses: How the hell did Harley get hold of a cell phone?

Being a comics fan is like riding a roller coaster. First off, it gets kind of costly if you keep doing it (Admission to those amusement parks ain’t cheap!), there’s a lot of waiting involved, and the experience is all ups and downs. A recent example for me was when I first heard that Ghost Rider was going to be coming to the ABC network’s MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD. Finally, I thought, one of my favorite comic book characters is going to be treated with the respect he deserves! A fresh start, far removed from that pair of abominations headed by Nicholas Cage. (Talk about ups and downs. Here’s a guy who won an Oscar, and somehow he’s transformed into the worst actor in Hollywood. Did he stop caring? Is that what happened? Or did a talent vampire suck all the ability out of him? If the latter is the case, he seems to have also been attacked by a likeability vampire.)

Then the bottom dropped out on me. Turns out it won’t be the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider at all, but the automobile-driving Robbie Reyes. Not the real Ghost Rider. While Reyes is just another obvious attempt for Marvel to force racial diversity into its publishing line by way of tokenism, I didn’t hate him as much as I did some others because he is a separate character rather than a straight replacement. (I DID hate his comic, though, as it had by far the worst, most caricaturist artwork I’ve ever seen in a mainstream publication.) Oh, well. I didn’t really wanna watch AOS anyway.

source: www.superherohype.com

There are only a few pop culture and literary icons that could get me to go to a movie theater on a Monday night (unless it’s a holiday), and Batman is near the top of that list. The new animated film, BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, received a special limited release for two nights only, July 25th and 26th. Though my local movie house was one of those showing the film, they were only showing it on one of the two nights, thus a special Monday night viewing for your intrepid reporter. This film is one of those rare examples of an R-rated animated production. Even though clearly advertised as such, I’m betting some unobservant parents out there will bring their children, as we all know that anything animated must be for kids, right? Then they’ll get all huffy and offended. The Joker would find this amusing, I think, and I confess that I would too.

THE KILLING JOKE, the graphic novel written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, remains one of the finest Batman stories ever created, and also one of the most controversial. It’s the story that put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair (though DC recently retconned her out of it) and hints at an assault of a decidedly sexual nature. Does the film match the quality of the comic? Ooooooh, yeah. The animation looks like the comic brought to life, the extraneous material added for the film supports rather than detracts from the production, and Mark Hamill’s Joker has never been better, or creepier. (If any of you still have doubts after watching this film about Hamill’s being an underrated, phenomenal talent, I recommend you check out the movie SUSHI GIRL. He is brilliant.) I wouldn’t have minded if they’d gone for an even edgier, harder R rating, though.