Bruce Banner himself has officially confirmed it. There will be no standalone Incredible Hulk movies anytime soon. It has nothing to do with the fact that the last such film, 2008’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK, was not a ratings monster. And it has even less to do with Ang Lee’s dysfunctional 2003 HULK, which was really a remake of KING KONG if Kong were hairless and green. Marvel could easily overcome such past failures these days. Look at the hype the new Spider-Man movie is getting, fresh on the heels of the tacky and terrible AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Just the fact that it would be a Marvel movie, produced by Marvel Studios, would be enough to get people into the theater to see it. No, Marvel won’t give us another standalone Hulk film because they don’t want to share.

Back before Marvel Studios became such a box-office juggernaut and before Disney bought the big M and made it even more of a force to be reckoned with, Marvel farmed out a lot of their properties, and Universal still owns the rights to any standalone film. They do not, however, have any claim on the Hulk character. That’s why Marvel is going to put the Green Goliath in a bunch of its upcoming films. He’ll just have to share the screen with other prominent Marvel characters, is all. Which, come to think of it, is not in any way a bad thing.


That didn’t take long. Oh, I suppose it was always part of writer Nick Spencer’s plan to have TWO Captains America, one black and one white. In fact I’m pretty sure it WAS his plan, as the scenario offers lots of potential story ideas. Two guys running around with the same superhero name, two guys that don’t see eye to eye politically, one of them black and one of them white. Yeah, I can see that, sure. But I am skeptical that it was Spencer’s idea to bring Steve back from his geriatric retirement (He devolved to his natural age after the Super Soldier Serum was leached from his body by a villain.) quite so soon. I expect a force greater than a writer’s outline is at work here. The big “S.” Sales.

As interesting as the story arc with Sam Wilson subbing for Cap might be, it’s still just that. Sam subbing for Steve. Steve Rogers is Captain America, regardless of who else might wear the costume and wield the shield. Readers want Steve, and Marvel is gonna give him to them. But they’re also going to keep the substitute Cap story going, so fans get to have their red, white, and blue cake and eat it, too. My only complaint is that I don’t care for the new costume they have for Steve. Granted it isn’t radically different, but the one the Falcon is sporting right now is a far cry from the traditional Cap costume, so why not just have Steve go back to that one? And what is up with that shield?

Remember the 90’s? If so, if you’re a comics fan, I’m sorry. I sympathize. It was a bleak, depressing time, a time perfectly defined and symbolized by Image Comics. Not the Image that’s still around today. Back then the company was a different sort of animal. Basically what happened, for you Millennials who missed it, is this: a bunch of Marvel’s hotshot artists, pissed off at the House of Ideas, broke away and started their own company, where they would enjoy full autonomy. Which sounds well and good, but the problem with a complete lack of regulation is that there’s nobody around to tell you “no.” The artists thought they could write their own comics, featuring characters they themselves created. Again, sounds good. But those “original” characters were by and large blatant rip-offs of Marvel characters and those artists couldn’t write their ways out of paper bags. Image ended up signifying the low-water mark of the comics industry, producing some of the worst comic books ever printed.

Why would I dredge up this unpleasant history? Only to make a point. Neal Adams is one of the greatest artists in comics history. I love his work. But he is not a writer. When he got to write his own Batman series, it was gorgeous to look at but at times painful to read. And now they’ve given him Superman to play with. Oy. I HOPE he’s gotten better at it. We’ll see.


I am major stoked over this one. CIVIL WAR remains one of my favorite comics epics of recent years, and this follow-up seems poised to be just as awesome and just as important. The original story really changed comic books, the way that Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN changed comics two decades before it. It forced us all to stop seeing just bright-colored pictures of people in outlandish costumes doing fantastical things and instead look at the comics medium with a serious eye, showing that comics can and should address serious matters. The central question it raised—to what extent should superheroes be overseen and controlled by the government—is a genie out of its bottle. Never again can a superhero wage his/her war against crime without it rearing its head. Never again will such benign super-powered vigilantism be accepted de facto. The funny papers, like the issue itself, aren’t just black and white anymore.

This new storyline looks to be just as highbrow in concept, asking another difficult question: If precognition were possible, is it morally justifiable to act to prevent a crime before it is committed, by taking action against the criminal? Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the man who, more than any other, has done his part to forge the modern Marvel Universe, it’s guaranteed to be good. And I’m excited that Iron Man gets to be the good guy this time!

Guess I just gave away whose side I was on last time, didn’t I, and whose side I’m on this time?


The writer of this linked article, Donna Dickens, wins today’s S.T.F.U. award. Get your britches out of a twist, woman. Your argument is silly. Taking Marvel Studios to task for “whitewashing?” Suggesting that it is perfectly acceptable for Marvel to cast black actors, or Asians, or whatever, in roles of characters that are established as being Caucasian, but deriding any attempt to do it the other way around, when no one has been doing that? Grousing that the story of DR. STRANGE is that of “yet another rich white man finding superpowers.” No doubt you’ll find something to whine about when BLACK PANTHER gets his own movie. He probably won’t be “black” enough to suit you.

What has Dickens and her ilk so riled up? In the comics, the “Ancient One,” the character from whom DR. STRANGE obtains his secret knowledge, was depicted as Asian. Looking back at those stories from the 1960s, Marvel Studios recognized that, by today’s standards, those depictions could be seen as stereotypical. Thus they decided to change the character, making the Ancient One a woman instead. Oh, but they went and cast a WHITE woman! That’s the problem. Now the PC sentinels like Ms. Dickens are squealin’ like gutshot hogs, whereas, if the actress cast in the role had been black or Asian, they would have said nary a word. Making such an issue out of skin color is a sort of reversed racism. We as a species can only be truly without prejudice when skin pigmentation no longer matters at all. Sadly, people like the PC Police, despite their good intentions, are doing their part to prevent us from reaching that state.


Stanley Lieber, more commonly known by his pen name, Stan Lee, really needs no introduction, does he? If you are reading this post, you know who he is. Join me, then, in singing his praises, and in wishing him a happy birthday. Seven years shy of being a centenarian, Stan “The Man” is living proof that cool has no age limit. The word “legend” falls short. The world of Comics, and now the world of Cinema also—I would argue the entire world of popular culture, and even Culture in general, as the man’s work really is that prevalent—as we know it/them would not exist today if not for Stan Lee.

Spider-Man. The Fantastic Four. The X-Men. Iron Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Avengers. Daredevil. These are just a sampling of your many creations, the progeny of your fertile imagination. The highbrows can no longer dismiss you as just “that comic book guy.” Your mark on civilization is too evident, your effect too pervasive. Thou hast conquered, Lieber! If your legacy doesn’t meet the snooty definition of “Art,” as some nimrods would suggest, you have simply redefined the word. A modern-day Homer or Ovid, weaving a new mythology; such is the stuff of which icons are made. In short, Stan, you rock. Happy birthday, and may you have many more!


Well, that didn’t take long. I remember a few years back, when Grant Morrison (the most overrated writer in the comics medium, in my opinion) “killed off” Batman by having Bruce Wayne sent back in time, wherein he had to fight his way back to the future. (It is worth noting that Marvel had done the exact same thing with Captain America the year prior. And with Cap, it worked.) While Bruce was gone, they stuck Dick Grayson in the Batsuit. Grayson fans were all atwitter, while I and all the other fans of the one true Batman gave vent to a collective groan. “It’s going to be a long time before we see Bruce again,” DC bigwigs promised at the time. Then—it seemed like just overnight—Bruce returned and claimed his rightful place as Batman. Why the rush? Why did DC change their plans? I suspect sales. Money talks, peeps. And it carries a BIG stick.

Looks like we’re about to see Bruce return as Batman in the current series. He hasn’t been out of the costume for very long at all. Are slumping sales again to blame? Was writer Scott Snyder’s plan always to bring Bruce back so soon, or has need necessitated it? I suspect the latter. Either way, color me happy. Get Commissioner Gordon as Robocop outta there. It’s time for the one and only BATMAN to retake center stage.


I’ve been saying this for a while now, to pretty much anybody that will listen, but I have some serious doubts that the new BVS movie, unlike Superman, is going to be able to fly. I’m actually expecting a crash and burn. Not that I WANT a crash and burn; I WANT it to be as good as possible. I want to joyfully and gleefully announce to the world that I was wrong. Alas, I can’t lie to myself. I can’t deny the doubt is there. And rather than becoming lessened by each new trailer, piece of footage, or leaked fact concerning the film, I in fact become MORE convinced, the closer we get to the movie’s opening, that I am right. If the footage looks awesome—which it does—my rising hopes are soon enough squashed by some tidbit or snippet of an interview I read from one of the movie’s creators.

The latest case in point: Putting the Flash in the movie. Too many characters packed into the movie will make it top-heavy. As we already have Cyborg, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman in addition to Superman and Batman, the flick is sure enough starting to list now that the Scarlet Speedster is onboard. Couple that with the ridiculously bizarre miscasting of Ezra Miller as Barry Allen and what we have is, unfortunately, a recipe for another GEORGE CLOONEY AND ROBIN. Like I said, I hope I’m wrong.


If I’m right in my belief that a complete reboot is coming, not only for Superman but for DC Comics in its totality, in the wake of the failed reboot that was the New 52—wait, if we’re rebooting a reboot, does that count as another reboot, or wouldn’t we be in fact retro-booting?—then the various creators pretty much have carte blanche to do whatever they want to the status quo. This could be either a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Where Superman is concerned, I vote for the former. Besides, I expect SOME traces of the New 52 to make it into the new-old continuity, when and if it happens.

Does that mean I think Jimmy Olsen will stay dead? (He was killed in the recent SUPERMAN #46.) Nah. He may not even remain dead throughout the current run. Even so, I’m digging what Gene Luen Yang is putting Superman through. Depowered, with his secret identity no longer secret, and getting his ass soundly kicked on a regular basis—and now his best pal has been killed. It lets us see what Supes is really made of. A man’s
character is determined by how he conducts himself at his lowest point, and I expect this character will, by the end of it all, prove to us why they call him the Man of Steel.


It’s guaranteed to get some notice. Stir up some controversy. Garner publicity. And sell comic books. Which is, at the end of the day, what it’s all about, right? Sure. But there’s a good way and a bad way to go about it. So which approach is Marvel taking right now? I’d say, for the most part, the right way. Sure, making Captain America a black man and Thor a woman is a stunt. Or stunts, plural. And having them kiss is an even bigger stunt. Throw in the fact that it’s going to be an INTERRACIAL kiss, and it’s all so much better! Feathers will get ruffled and second printings, and thirds and maybe fourths, will take place. Cha-ching!

Still, I think it’s okay. Remember Marvel back in the 90s? If so, my sympathies. The focus then, as now, was on making the mean green, and they used stunts and gimmicks galore to do it. Or tried to. The approach failed and ultimately led the company to bankruptcy, because the gimmicks and stunts were not supported by good storytelling. Marvel, in its haste to make money, had forgotten that the quality of the product actually played a part in it. The big M has since learned that lesson, and for dang sure Disney knows it. Thus while we still get stunts and gimmicks—like this kiss—they are backed up by solid story content and strong characterization. I’m cool with that.