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Since people seem to be in a mood to analyse Marvel lately: the only "mainstream" Marvel U "post Civil War" comics I was getting were New New Warriors and New Order (which is a cheap and easy joke, but hey, so's your Mom). And I'm not getting them anymore. They're perfectly serviceable comics, but I'm just not interested in this "going nowhere slowly" between crossovers approach so many of Marvel's titles seem to have. Now there's nothing wrong with going nowhere slowly, but it's so much better to be going nowhere fast, you know?
I'm also not particularly interested in the current state of the Marvel universe. DC, for all it's flaws, has managed to hold my interest, and that's partly because the heroes still act like good guys and the villains are clearly identifiable as bad guys. You can't quite make those distinctions at Marvel anymore. And it doesn't help that the consequences of Marvel's big events don't really get dealt with because the stage has to be cleared for the next big event. Say what you will about Countdown and its cross-overs, but you can't really argue that DC isn't thoroughly exploring the consequences of the last few event titles in those books. At Marvel they almost seem to be burying the problems created by their events under the weight of new events. "Oh, we made Iron Man a fascist, but we can't deal with that now, the Hulk's attacking. Ooops, we made the Hulk a mass-murderer, but we can't deal with that now, the Skrulls are invading. Ah, we've established that Wolverine is actually a hyper-evolved stoat and not a mutant, but we can't deal with that now because Namor has the Serpent Crown and is trying to flood the surface world..."
Say you're an American publisher. And say you have the rights to publish, in America, newer and older licensed comics that are successful outside the US, but haven't really sold well in the US for a couple of decades. And say that, about ten to fifteen years ago, there was an animated series based on the comics you have a license to. An animated series that did several loose adaptations of some of the better known comics in the series. And let's say that the animated series in question was very successful and is largely credited with revitalizing an area of the animation industry that had become moribund. It would seem like a no-brainer to do a book collecting the best stories that inspired the series, and to slap the logo of the series all over the book, right? So why would you go and put an introduction in the book that spends a good deal of time blasting the quality of the show?
Which is what Gemstone did with their Carl Barks' Greatest Ducktales Stories books. Oh, comics industry...you so stupid...
Stephen Sadowski's pencils for Superpowers #0 are very nice, but with him only drawing the preview book, I'm not sure I'm interested. I REALLY did not like Justice, and the "nostalgia for grandpa's childhood" vibe is strong on this project. Which means I'm probably holding out for Avengers/Invaders. YES! I'm a hypocrite! I complain about Marvel than look forward to one of their projects!
You know what's fun? Video games.
It's like a virtual pet, only it's Daffy Duck, and the idea is to torture him as much as possible.
It's an old-school "point and click" puzzle game, only on your console. And since it's on the Wii, you have to mime out using the object with the remote. It makes you look like a complete tool, so I recommend playing with the blinds drawn.
Lars and the Real Girl was an excellent, excellent film, very sweet and heartfelt, with just enough sadness and darkness underneath it to give it some real emotional heft.
At some point, I still plan to talk about the Doctor Who episodes that have aired since I last reviewed any, but I wanted to gush over the latest episode a bit. If you're reading this in a newsreader, you shouldn't get spoilers. If you're not, and you don't want to be spoiled, don't scroll past the picture of Katy Manning and the Dalek.
I figure the picture alone should scare off a good 75% of my readership as it is...
Tim speaks wisdom. As does Steven. And Heidi. I suppose if there really is any larger lesson to be learned from any of these things is that Marvel and DC, despite all their protestations to the contrary, really aren't ready to grow up and act like a serious business. If they were, someone would have realized that the money they make by pandering to the lowest common denominator isn't as much as they lose by alienating existing and potential customers and creating a negative view of their product in the wider culture. The lesson the non comics buying public took away from the Mary Jane statue situation wasn't that fangirls are hysterical and prone to over-reaction, or that Marvel licenses their characters out to specialty manufacturers for the creation of high-end collectibles. No, it was that comic book fans are sad perpetual adolescents who buy over-priced wank material. And that's not a good way to build brand recognition.
But that's old news, and frankly I'm in the mood for something lighter. Mainly, a completely innocent image which could never possibly be misconstrued...
My, but Kurt Schaffenberger draws a nice taint...
But the image by itself is a bit lacking, since we can't see what Superboy is flying into. So I did a little editing:
Hmmm...could Superboy be joining the Doctor on a new adventure?
Or maybe he's involved in an inter-company cross-over?
What else could Superboy be flying into, I wonder?
As part of a progressive-interview sort of thing, GayProf of the Center of Gravitas asked me five questions, to share with the world at large. So here we go:
1. We share a common interest in vintage gay porn/beefcake. Why are you drawn to these images (beyond the obvious fact that it involves men in various states of undress)?
A big part of the appeal to vintage physique and beefcake photography for me is the aesthetic quality of the material. On a fundamental level, I just enjoy looking at pictures of nicely put together men. But there's an historical appeal to this kind of material as well. Before there was really any kind of mass gay media in this or any other country, the physique magazines were around. And it was, basically, understood that the magazines were primarily put out by gay men and for gay men. The magazines and photography, now, represent a link to the times when simply being gay was illegal in every state, a link to and reminder of the difficulties gay men and lesbians have had to overcome. But it's mostly the aesthetics. When I look at gay porn now, what I see is usually either skinny, hairless boys who look barely pubescent, or steroid cases scowling angrily at the camera. I don't find either image erotic. There's a sense of naivete and innocence to physique magazines. Yes, we're being invited to gaze erotically at the subject of the photos, but it never feels exploitative or squalid. The men are fit, but not living caricatures, and they seem dosh-garn happy to be naked or nearly so. It's a much more pleasant and positive portrayal of sexuality than much of what I see today.
2. What is the thing that you miss most about working in a comic shop?
The regular interaction with the sane customers and coworkers is probably the thing I miss most. Actually, it's probably the only thing I miss. I made good friends working in comics retail, hey even made a best friend, but don't tell him I said that. So that part of the experience I don't regret at all. The pay and hours and general frustrations of working retail are not missed one bit, though.
3. Imagine that you finally went on a date with Wildcat (with Pete's blessing). What would it involve?
Well, Ted's pretty much a guy's guy, so I can't imagine that romance or wooing are his strong points. He means well, though, and he tries, so his idea of going out would almost certainly be to a sporting event of some kind, preferably something physical. Boxing, of course, being top of the list. This would be after a steak-and-potatoes type dinner at a restaurant. Nothing fancy, but not a dive either. The end of the evening would almost certainly be drinks out at a bar. And then home for the hot, hot man sex.
4. One of your posts a few months ago detailed your finding a stash of gay porn from a couple of sailors who lived near your childhood home. In retrospect, this was a formative moment for you. What are the questions that you would have for them if you could meet them today?
I'm going to go out on a wild limb and assume you mean this post. That's actually a tough one. There's all sorts of things I'm curious about. Why did they enlist? Was it to prove themselves "real men" or to get away from an intolerable small town or was it just simple patriotism? How did they find one another? The military isn't the most gay friendly employer in the first place, and in the early days of AIDS hysteria it could only have been worse. And when it became clear that, because they were being separated by new postings, how did they react? What did they talk about, that last day they had together before one had to leave?
5. Why do you worship and/or adore GayProf?
What is not to adore? A smart, witty, dashingly handsome man will always attract my attention.
And that's quite enough of that. I told Andy he could change one graphic, one. It will be awhile before he's allowed anywhere near the site again.
Although he did want to say that he was very put out by those of you who suggested that he's not real. That was his actual phrase too: "put out."
My all time favorite stupid DC message board thread of late has been this one: Obsidian: Radical Changes Needed!! It might surprise you to learn that the "radical change" in question here is not "give him more screen time than three silent panels in two of three issues published so far." No, I'll let the original poster explain what the problem with Obsidian is: For the past few years, Obsidian has fallen into decandence... in my opinion Obsidian was WAY BETTER in JSA: Darkness Falls!! From the time he quitted, his story became a huge nonsense... I'm not making discrimination, but I really think that him changing his sexuality was the biggest mistake ever made to this character! From there Obsidian was taken less seriously than he have been!! If there was a potential storyline in my mind, it'd be Obsidian with Nightshade (which will also help explain if the "World Of Nighshades" is or isn't the "Shadowlands"... Making Obsidian part of the JSA was good, but unnecessary for Alan Scott alredy has a place there. Obsidian was better off being evil... I hope the DC Editors will think about it REALLY WELL for I've followed DC Super Heroes since I was 2 years old and I never got disapointed in the comics! I hope I won't ever get... Then again, this is NOT discrimination... but this character should have stayed the way he was before... He's the decendent of one of the earliest superheroes, he should not have been inflicted with such a decadence... I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.
But lest you think that perhaps homophobia motivates this anti-gay Obsidian post, be assured that's not the case at all: I was not discriminating by saying that Obsidian was better before... the best way to prove it is that Freddie Mercury is one of my favourite singers! The thing is that Obsidian should have gotten a better "base" (if you understand the term).And it was, most of all, the fact that Alan Scott would have no more succesor in his bloodline after Obsidian's death that bothered me... that's it!! If anyone has a problem with that than express your feelings... but calling me a homophobiac is the proof that you did not read and understood the sentence : I'M NOT MAKING DISCRIMINATION. I wrote this because I knew some people would understand what I meant in a different way that I expected. So if you can't read, quit comics!
I swear, the thread is a treasure-trove: adreyenko said himself that he MADE obsidian gay in an interview, which PROVES that the hero wasn't always gay. adreyenko should have left todd rice alone. his run on manhunter led to only one thing: THE CANCELLATION OF THE TITLE!! wtf??!! obsidian had a relationship with harlequin III, why can't he stay the way he was?? it's not because he was shy or had mental illness (which were because of his mother's genes) and that his first relationship had a little difficulties that he is gay! and it's not because nuklon is his best friend and that he was avoiding homophobia and because he didn't have any relationship or love neither. don't call me narrow-minded because that's not true, it's just the damn truth!! the ones who say he's gay say it because they WANT him to be like that... but he was never meant to be!! PS: if he turned evil, it was because of his mental illness!!!!
Alright, maybe Obsidian's mental illness wasn't revealed until Darkness Falls, but come on guys... it's more coherent for him to have this as a hertitage from his mother than his change of sexuality!!!!!! Darkness Falls was one of the only stories that made Obsidian important, and his decadence started from the time he came back! Now he's just a shadow doing nothing exept when Jade died!! Give me a break... this dude needs RADICAL CHANGES so that he can become better!! He looks pathetic now... and if writers don't do anything about it, he'll soon be useless and so he won't be used that often... AND HE'S THE BLOODY SON OF ALAN SCOTT!!!! Come on... it looks like the death of Jade didn't affect him that much, for they only made him furious in 52... but he's not carrying the sadness, while he should, for it would go on well with his darkness. This character could use alot of work, which would fortunately pay well amd make his popularity increase. He should also get closer with his dad. And can anyone answer me this question: Is the shadowlands the land of nightshades?? I hope you understand that Obsidian is not taken seriously AT ALL right now. The Infinity Inc. should also get worked up, and have a more important role in the DCU. I hope that the JSA title will CORRECT Obsidian's MISTAKES, and make him have an important role in the team that just being a useless shadow security guard. Make the true POWER of his powers come out, for he's VERY powerful, the writers just don't use all of his qualities, and rather make him gay for some stupid unknown reasons (exept for Andreyko's Manhunter selfishness). Remake him te way he was before, and add all the things I said in this post... then come up with an amazing story... and there you'll have the REAL Obsidian.
Now, most of the other posters take "goldenagebat" to task for his attitude, but there's at least one other poster, "dixon64" who has his back. At any rate the character is not being as well received as he was and it is precisely because of that change that he isn't. How is that good for a company if their goal is to sell as many copies of that title to consumers as they can ? It is not. But if I had a political or social agenda sales would not matter to me. But the idea that we are going to cry on the internet because of it is foolishness. DC and you are assuming we will continue to buy the book. I love "The Justice Society of America" . For years and with it's return I have stated vehemently that it is hands down with no close competition the best title on the market, but don't let it fool you into believing that I wont leave that and every other DC title on the shelf if I see it that DC doesn't hear my voice for the $3.00 I pay for their title. The character of Obsidian has been diminished and DC shouldn't suffer the loss of that asset nor should they suffer it on the consumers who purchase "The Justice Society of America"
Now, setting aside that Obsidian really only became interesting as a character when he came out, what I love in that last excerpt is the notion that negative fan reaction to Obsidian is having an adverse effect on the Justice Society book. And here I was thinking that the vast bulks of criticisms I've heard about this latest relaunch is the over the top violence. Silly me.
I'm not actually overly bothered by the violence in Justice Society to be honest, but nor am I overly concerned with the pace of Justice League, so clearly my taste is suspect. My concerns for the book are born out of pure fan entitlement selfishness. I don't like the bitter and mentally scarred Damage, especially since it seems to be broadly telegraphing a heel turn, especially with the introduction of his "father" Vandal Savage into the storyline. I don't like a suddenly emo Wildcat who resents having to train younger heroes, something he's been consistently portrayed as enthusiastic about in the past. I don't like the apparently Alex Ross mandated sidelining of Obsidian. And I really hate the masturbatory insertion of elements from Kingdom Come into the book.
Speaking of DC comics that are failing to meet the expectations of their audience, I've noticed, here and there, a number of people who feel that the tone of Trials of Shazam is excessively dark, especially in comparison to Jeff Smith's Monster Society of Evil title. Which is a fair enough exception to make. My own response to that is that I've been thinking of Trials as more of a Captain Marvel Jr. story, and Freddie Freeman's adventures have always been a bit darker in tone than those of Billy and Mary. Let's compare their origins for a minute.
Hey, Billy, how'd you get your powers? "A wizard gave them to me!" Cool. How about you Mary? "A wizard gave my brother powers." Okay...And you Freddie? Where did your powers come from? "Nazis killed my family and crippled me." Wow...aren't you a bright and shiny figure of escapist fun for little children.
Not that I have any idea how a good, law-abiding citizen of the United States could watch those episodes in anything resembling a timely manner.
Carla's tale of trying to find a contemporary Iron Man comic for a kid reminded me an awful lot of my days working comics retail. Marvel used to have this peculiar knack for capitalizing on their film release dates with wholly inappropriate material in their promotional comics. Such as a twenty-five cent Hulk comic with an attempted rape but no Hulk. Or an X-Men comic featuring graphic crucifixions when the second film came out. They've gotten marginally better about it, though I do sort of wonder why there was no general audience appealing Ghost Rider comic this month.
Patrick Fillion has some preview pages up for his forth-coming gay barbarian comic, Zahn. I shouldn't have to tell you that the link above is not safe for work, but be assured it is.
Destructoid profiles a game I enjoyed far too much, Pokemon Snap. It was the best puzzle/photography game I ever played. It was the only puzzle/photography game I ever played. I would absolutely download it if it became available for the Wii Virtual Console.
The Brave and the Bold #1, by Mark Waid, George Perez and Bob Wiacek, published by DC Comics
I'm an unashamed fan of the concept of The Brave and the Bold. There's something very satisfying, on an intrinsic level, about super-hero team-up adventures. It's a great joy and delight for the little kids hidden inside super-hero comics fans. And this latest iteration of the series captures that perfectly. It's big dumb super-heroic adventure, but without the melodrama that has come to dominate the genre of late. Mark Waid's penchant for exhaustive continuity based story-telling is well suited for the concept, and he writes the characters, in this case Batman and Green Lantern, in a way which makes them familiar to long term fans of the characters and sketched in enough for those unfamiliar with a particular character to get an idea of what they're about. Perez was an inspired choice for artist as well, having a broadly appealing style that looks, importantly, suitably super-heroic. His figures "act" well, being very expressive and detailed, yet loose enough to still possess a sense of dynamism. The final product is an unpretentious book which revels in the fun of the shared universe concept.