Archive for March, 2010

Issue 117 – The Lost Return

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Posting this about a week late…there are sound issues. We tried what we could to fix it…sorry.

Brett returns to tell the boys where he’s been and what he’s been reading. EvilJeff initiates a Lost dead pool. And stevieD is the loudest of all…for once.

http://www.whatisph.com/

 

31

03 2010

Comics Are For Girls!

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There’s a story about Joni Mitchell I’d like to believe is true, not just because it serves it’s purpose so well as an opening for this article. So the tale goes, a journalist once asked her how she felt about being one of the best female singer/songwriters of all time. Joni got very worked up, and walked out of the interview. Her reason? She didn’t see why she had to be set apart from the male songwriters.

We see it all the time, and for some reason it’s perfectly acceptable. Women’s sports leagues, women’s fiction, women’s television channels. It always irks me when I go and pick up my copies of Vogue and Vanity Fair, they’re listed above “Women’s Magazines”. Apparently I should be reading Top Gear, FHM and Nuts. Yes really, there’s a magazine called Nuts. For men. See what they did there? (I am aggravated further that the comic books in my newsagents are under the children’s section, but that’s a whole other story).

So yes, well done to Marvel for trying to give their female characters a little boost, but let’s be serious, it’s not particularly empowering, and it’s not at all pretty. It screams of one word. Token.

Marvel Divas and Models Inc were interesting, but surely fluffy books should not be the tone set for every single female book now. Kathryn Immomen has a particular comedic style and good for her. It worked wonderfully on Hellcat, and the idea was followed on Aguirre-Sacassa’s Marvel Divas and Models Inc.

I respect Models Inc to a degree, as it was an homage to the model comics of the fifties and sixties, but where are the serious books? As fun as these books are, there’s very little repercussion and consequence within them as far as the universe as a whole goes. By the time we’re being exposed to, ugh, “X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back”, which sounds like it should have the additional subtitle of “Electric Boogaloo”, I for one am pretty fatigued.

I don’t think anything needs to be distinctive by gender, race or sexuality. It was a point of contention I ad with Milestone Comics. Did we really need that sort of self-segregation? Then Girl Comics rolls around, with it’s appalling title, an anthology created by women writers and artists. Whatever happened to Marvel Comics Presents? Can women and men not work together? What’s the problem with handing a title like X-Men or Avengers over to a writer like? It’s about time, really. The little pink sandbox stinks of head patting.

Then Heralds was announced, and I thought it was a step in the right direction, until I realised what the title implied. And the story, oh god. Yet another bunch of random female superheroes banding together for no particular reason. Are these comics even selling?

Black Widow And The Marvel Girls, please! What the hell is that? Lest we forget, Devin Grayson and JG Jones produced a beautiful miniseries that revitalised the character in an awesome way. Paul Cornell’s miniseries is nothing short of spectactular, and not getting the fanfare it deserves.

Here’s the thing, the women of Marvel are fine, and I don’t think they need women at the helm to prove anything. Bendis has done a fine job of producing and rebirthing strong females. From his very own Alias to re-shaping Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. Matt Fraction has done wonders on the X-Books, continuing Morrison’s fine work with Emma Frost and raising Psylocke and Dazzler back to new heights.

They keep trying to find a new Kitty Pryde in Pixie, without realising that Joss Whedon did a beautiful job crafting Armor into a strong, young female X-Man with plenty of potential. The difference being the marketing push was minimal, it relied simply on genuinely talented storytelling, the gender of the writer is not and should not be an issue.

Jodi Picoult on Wonder Woman? Ouch. Gail Simone? Genius. Yet so was George Perez. So gender has very little to do with anything, and is without validation. Greg Rucka has a particular talent for strong female leads, he’s managed to get his beloved Batwoman gracing the covers of Detective Comics, and as a lesbian character that’s a hell of a feat. The difference being he allowed all the ruckus (pardon the pun) to die down, and eventually concentrated on telling a powerful story. It’s worked out.

Of course it would be wonderful to see female writers get better writing and art gigs, and it would be fantastic if one day an all-female team came along, but there’s a million and one team names to choose from, and they don’t have to point out the characters within all have boobies.

24

03 2010

Let The Right One Slip In

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I find myself feeling a little bit nostalgic, after buying some old comics on Ebay and seeing adverts for Ultraverse. Remember that?

Once upon a time Marvel acquired Malibu Comics (god knows why, they were doing pretty badly as it was), and with it came a whole host of new and interesting characters within Malibu’s Ultraverse.

The whole premise was, I suppose, a little bit like a cross between traditional superheroes and Marvel’s New Universe. It wasn’t too throwaway either, you had talent like James Robinson, Warren Ellis, George Perez and Mike W Barr working on the books, to name but a few.

Marvel did a whole lot of promotion for some bizarre reason, giving the marketing a big push. They cancelled every Malibu title and had an event called Black September. The titles were then relaunched under a joint Malibu/Marvel imprint. Believe it or not, there was even a short-lived animated TV show based on Ultraforce (which I adored) and a live-action tv show based on Night Man, created by Steve Englehart, that lasted for two years.

Lest we forget, I’m coming to my point. I suppose there’s two points actually. The first one is brief and juicy. I love drama.

Any little story about a feud or something that never came to be, and I am totally there. Alan Davis suddenly leaving ClanDestine? I want to know why! Bust-ups between Louise Simonson and Liefeld? Byrne and Claremont? Claremont and Morrison? Morrison and Miller? Gimme, gimme gimme bitchy comments please!

I hope one day there will be a documentary or book produced about what it take to make X-Men, and what kind of fight Bryan Singer had with the studio. Juicy, juicy. Malibu Comics seems to be more of the same. Apparently Joe Quesada would love to bring the characters back, but he legally can’t, and he can’t say why! Ah, it drives me crazy!

There’s even a Facebook group dedicated to people who used to work for Malibu. It is here and contains such excitable quotes as “So Disney has acquired Marvel. I think it’s a day for all Malibu alumni to pause and reflect. And may Disney treat Marvel as graciously, wisely and magnanimously as Marvel treated us!”. Girlfriend!

My second point. It always interests me to see how comic companies try and incorporate characters into their universe that they’ve bought elsewhere. I believe Captain Marvel is probably the first example of this? I might be wrong, but I can’t think of any others. Dc sued Fawcett because Captain Marvel looked a whole lot like Superman (*cough* they’d have a field day if Rob Liefeld had been born in that era) and then when the company went bust due to all the legal trouble, DC bought up Fawcett and started using Captain Marvel. (And were later sued by Marvel and told they couldn’t use the name Marvel on any titles, hence the title always having been called Shazam!)

I suppose Marvel incorporated their own superheroes into their Silver Age, by bringing Captain America back in a cube of ice. Even DC tried to amend their Golden and Modern ages by ret-conning and weaving things together. It doesn’t always make logical sense, but you just have to look at it as another universe with it’s own set of rules. (I just watched an episode of The Simpsons that retconned Marge and Homer’s single life into the 90′s. Major headache).

DC’s Crisis was an excellent way of bringing Charlton characters into the DC Universe, and in my opinion the most successful incorporation I have ever seen. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that Giffen used characters such as Blue Beetle in his run on Justice League.

So what went wrong with Malibu? Maybe Marvel tried too hard? There were crossovers aplenty, with a ton of talent. Ellis and Perez on Ultraforce/Avengers for example. They shook things up a little and moved Black Knight, Juggernaut and Sienna Blaze (don’t ask) into the Ultraverse, and had a crossover featuring Phoenix resurrected into the Ultraverse too. In hindsight, maybe not a good idea.

I think Marvel tried too hard, and they also kept the two universes separate. Bad move. It makes me sad, because it would be so interesting to see a character like Prime (who is essentially a Superman/Captain Marvel hybrid) interacting in the normal Marvel Universe.

When it comes to blending characters, I truly believe subtle is the way to go. A slow build-up and you don’t feel like these characters have just been stuck-on. I don’t think the Milestone characters working into the JLA came across too well for that reason. For people who haven’t been reading comics for 15 years, they feel a bit jolted. Who are these characters, and why are they suddenly Justice League members? Hopefully the Archie superheroes will work a bit better, they’ve been making cameos in other books as a means to bringing about curiosity, and I think that works pretty well too.

It also reminds me of the sheer mess that was DC Vs. Marvel and the ensuing “Amalgam” universe. Some of it was pretty fun, but on the whole, it was a bad move. Sometimes you don’t need a huge explanation, things just need to happen. Then again, that’s what they did for Star Trek/X-Men and look how that turned out.

Sometimes, maybe it’s just a case of oil and water. I really do wish Ultraforce would come back though.

14

03 2010

Issue 116 – Heroic Day of the Brightest Age

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In this issue, EvilJeff asks stevieD where the DC universe if going after Blackest Night and then proceeds to turn the conversation back to Marvel’s Heroic Age. They do manage to also work in some discussions about comics and a mention of Lost too. The boys discuss Wonder Woman; X-Factor; Fantastic Four and the Walking Dead.

 

11

03 2010