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.


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.

Remember the bad old days, the low water mark of the comics industry? Image had just launched, igniting the speculator market. Marvel, meanwhile, was greedily overprinting everything—QUASAR had his own ongoing series, for cryin’ out loud!—in an attempt to put all the smaller presses out of business. They largely succeeded, but managed to drive themselves into bankruptcy in the process. In the long run this was a good thing. New people took over the running of the company, people who actually cared about the quality of their product; this improved approach led to greater success and the eventual purchase by Disney. The rest is history, as they say. But does history have to repeat itself?

The dearth of quality is still absent from Marvel Comics today—for now. But look at all the new titles that are about to be published under the Marvel NOW initiative, books that don’t have a chance in hell of succeeding long-term: Solo; Prowler; Cage (again); Gwenpool (?!?); Slapstick; Foolkiller; etc. Is Marvel trying to glut the market again? Or have they reached a level of success where they are willing to experiment on riskier books and characters? I hope it isn’t the former. I would’ve hoped they’d learned their lesson on that one.

Marvel is like Crack, man. Or a case of poison ivy. You think you’re done with it, you think you’re over it, but it lures you back. The addiction comes back, and you start itching all over again. When I heard that Tony Stark was going to be replaced as Iron Man—AGAIN!—and that his replacement was going to be a teenage black girl, I said, that’s it. I’m done. No more Marvel for me. As excellent as the new CIVIL WAR II  storyline has been, I’m sick of this trend towards replacing prominent characters with younger upstarts of a different skin pigmentation. It’s pure tokenism. It’s forcing “diversity” when such things only work if they happen naturally. A black Cap (and some people want to make him a GAY Cap), a Korean Hulk, a female Thor (this one bothers me the least of the current “re-inventions” of classic heroes, as the original is still around), a black/Hispanic Spider-Man. And “NOW” they’re booting Tony Stark as Iron Man to shoehorn in some character with a history of barely six months. No thank you, I said. I’m out.

Then I find out that Dr. Doom, my favorite comics villain, who is SUPPOSEDLY reformed (yeah, right) will be putting on Tony’s armor and playing ANOTHER Iron Man. Oh, Marvel, you sneaky bastards. Fine. I WILL read THE INFAMOUS IRON MAN (aka Dr. Doom in Different Armor.) And I’ll probably love it. But I will NOT read Iron Man 90210. Not now, not ever.

In a sense, the Internet has ruined us. For all its gifts, it has brought new travails with it. Having all the information, the sum total of all human knowledge, right at our fingertips, is a blessing, but along with that blessing we have to put up with Internet trolls. We get our news reports in real time, literally as important events are happening, yet we can’t escape hearing about the Kardashians. You have to take the good with the bad. Let’s discuss the effects of having this ability to post one’s thoughts for all the world to see, with no filtration system and no minimum requirements concerning age or intelligence, on human behavior. It skews things. We get things like what I call the “Pile-On Effect.” Bashing a thing, a film, a celebrity, what have you, becomes a social construct. Such attacks are largely meaningless.

To point out the transience and irrelevance of such phenomena, I submit to you BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Hatin’ on it had become trendy long before the film opened in theaters. But honestly now, how many of those doing the hating had made their minds up before ever seeing the picture? How many had even SEEN the picture before writing their scathing “reviews” on Twitter or Facebook? Now the pendulum has swung, with the release of the R-rated version of Zack Snyder’s film. Those same people who were bashing it before are now praising it, blaming studio interference for perverting Snyder’s “vision.” It is now hip and trendy to reverse direction. Fickleness has become the new normal. The moral of this story: Don’t believe anything you read on the Internet. The Internet magnifies misinformation. It glorifies it.


Hey, look, everybody. I’ve found this week’s imbecile extraordinaire. You all may recall that nonsense last month where people, non-fans, or transient fans, people who watch the movies, maybe, but who have never picked up a comic book in their sheltered, shallow lives, were petitioning Marvel to make Captain America and Bucky a gay couple. I wasted no time in proclaiming the stupidity inherent in this idea, and hoped we had all heard the end of it. Alas, it was not to be. Someone recently asked the Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan, what he thought of the matter. “Movies are for people to relate to in whatever way they want,” Stan said. “No one here is ever going to point a finger and say what’s right and wrong. For me, it’s like, Awww. It’s cute, it’s great. If someone takes the time to think about that, that’s great. I don’t think of the character that way, though.”

Yet the writer of this linked article wasted no time in announcing that Stan was “on board” with the idea and urged Marvel to “make this happen.” How in the holy hell can you interpret Stan’s comments as his being “on board” with the idea when he clearly stated that he does NOT see the characters’ relationship like that? Twisting his words to make him say what you want to hear, that’s what you’re doing. Nitwit.


It’s interesting, how DC chose to deal with their failed “New 52” problem and their return to the “real” DC Universe, and with no character have things become more interesting—I won’t say it is anything more than “interesting” until later, as it’s too early to tell just yet whether the storyline will turn out awesome or mediocre—than with Superman. Supes is sort of a microcosm of the entire DC Universe right now. And a litmus test. If it works with their flagship character—yes, Superman even outranks Batman in this regard—then it MIGHT work for the entire Universe.

The New 52 Superman is dead. The Superman from the real DC Universe has stepped back into the red boots as his replacement, but so has Lex Luthor, who is busy playing Superman. And somehow the Clark Kent who was the New 52 Superman is still alive, or so it seems. So we’ve got a dead Superman, a live Superman, an imposter Superman, and TWO Clark Kents. It’s all very…interesting. My only complaint so far is that Superman—the original, the “real” one—now has a kid. Giving him a kid was a bad move when they tried it in the movies (SUPERMAN RETURNS) and I fear the little brat will be an albatross around the creators’ necks in the comics, as well. I could go off the kid, as the Brits would say. But the rest of it has well and truly snagged my—wait for it—interest. Has it snagged yours?

I was, and still am, a little skeptical that Marvel’s latest company-wide mega-event can equal the heights reached by its predecessor. The original CIVIL WAR was so steeped in political metaphor, so evocative of what was going on in the mundane “real” world in which we all live. It’s kinda like Woodstock, and why there will never be another one. (They tried, you may recall, but ended up with nothing of the sort akin to the 1969 event.) Woodstock can’t exist outside the late 60s, sans the Hippie counterculture, sans Vietnam. Likewise, CIVIL WAR would not and could not resonate so strongly without the post 9-11 fears of government overreach, without the Patriot Act. Even the readers who were children at the time couldn’t miss the symbolism of that story. CIVIL WAR II lacks that kind of gravitas and real-world impetus. Such things cannot be created, only capitalized upon.

This being said, there is no reason why CIVIL WAR II can’t be a damn fine comic story all on its own, a distinct animal, yes, but still raising some legitimate, thought-provoking questions. While the first issue of the miniseries lacked the visceral stomach-punch power it could have had due to the reveal in the FCBD release that the two characters being killed off were War Machine and She-Hulk (Why didn’t Marvel either wait until the first issue of the series to show this, or else, and this would have been a more successful strategy, I think, make the entire first issue of the series the FCBD offering? This last would SURELY have brought new readers back for the successive issues.) it still managed to be emotionally charged and profound. Credit to writer Brian Michael Bendis for stoking the fires. Bring on issue #2!

And somebody will probably get their knickers in a twist because of the title of this article, too, thinking it disparages the blacklivesmatter movement. I was originally going to title this post bluelivesmatter, but then realized that this phrase coupled with a pound sign already exists, as part of the pro-police reactionary movement AGAINST the black lives one—as if one has to choose between supporting police officers and standing up for the rights of minorities unfairly treated by some lousy cops and all the millions of GOOD policemen and women who are doing their duty. Political correctness sucks.

Does this image of Apocalypse strangling Mystique promote domestic violence? Glorify it, or at the least condone it? Rose McGowan thinks so, and so do quite a few others with too much time and not enough real-world problems on their hands. As would be expected, the studio caved, and apologized. The only legitimate argument I’ve heard from those opposing the poster is that it could “trigger” traumatic memories in women who have suffered abuse. Then again, I have heard from domestic violence survivors who pointed out that ANYTHING is a potential trigger and that society is not responsible for safeguarding against everything, since this last is not possible. My take on it is this: He’s the BAD GUY. If there was any suggestion of any sort that it was a GOOD thing for him to be choking Mystique, then I’d be up in arms, too. There isn’t. Also, they’re BLUE. They’re NOT HUMAN. Rose, take a seat. The world has real concerns to deal with.


So many potential topics to discuss this week. The new X-Men movie (A-, by the way), and how its successful but hardly robust performance at the weekend box office might offer a glimmer of hope for fans who want to see Disney and Fox reach some kind of agreement in regards to sharing the characters, the way Disney and Sony are now doing with Spider-Man. Or the ridiculousness of Marvel’s making Captain America a secret Hydra agent. Or the even more ridiculous desire on the part of some fans to turn him gay. Maybe I’ll comment on one or more of these next week. Right now, though, I want to talk about DC. Specifically, the $2.99 double-sized kickoff to the REBIRTH event. You know that quote from Shakespeare, “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it”? I’m sure you’ve heard it, even if you didn’t know it was from Shakespeare. Well, a similar thing could be said about DC. Never was the New 52 so grand as it is now at its unraveling.

SPOLIER ALERT: Stop reading now if you haven’t read the comic yet, and if you’ve managed against the odds to avoid all the online discussions of it thus far. It was a stroke of genius to lay the blame for the whole failed experiment of the revamp at the feet of an outside antagonist “more powerful than Darkseid,” turning what was essentially a misstep by DC’s powers-that-be into a hell of a plot point. And finding out that the whole thing was orchestrated by the WATCHMEN’s Dr. Manhattan?! I admit, when Batman dug that blood-spotted smiley face pin out of the Batcave wall, my mouth fell open. This has the potential to be GOOD…