Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Night Fights: Wright - Round 5: Special "David Goyer Is An Idiot" Edition!

Bear with me, folks, I have to start this week's round of Friday Night Fights: Wright with a rant.

How many of you here have read David S. Goyer's Digital Spy interview about the controversial Man Of Steel ending? For those of you who answered "yes", how many of you are still slamming your head against your desk?

You too, huh? How can you not be with gems like this:

Goyer, however, stated that the Man of Steel's moral code "exists outside of the narrative and I just don't believe in rules like that".

"We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial," Goyer said. "It's not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren't just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice.

Well, at least he didn't call it a "Kobayashi Maru".

Still, Goyer calling that an "impossible choice" gives the impression that he's never read a single Silver or Bronze Age Superman story in his entire life. Somewhere Cary Bates is reading Goyer's interview and making the jerking motion.

"This is one area, and I've writte
n comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers - 'Superman doesn't kill'. It's a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don't believe in rules like that. I believe when you're writing film or television, you can't rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film."

"Outside the narrative of the film"? David, this movie introduced us to Clark Kent's parents, his school, and even his CHURCH. And judging by the art on the stainglass windows shown for that aforementioned church, it's the one with the list of 10 Commandments, one of which SPECIFICALLY STATES "THOU SHALT NOT KILL". I'd say that "no-killing" code is pretty damn self-explanatory.

"So the situation was, Zod says 'I'm not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.' The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can't fly to the moon, and we didn't want to come up with that crutch."

Why can't he fly to the moon in your movie, anyway?

"Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he's not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolise him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard."

So apparently Goyer and Snyder's ethos on killing comes from Family Guy.

And based on that, should police maybe dig up the backyard of the house where teen Dave Goyer lived?

OK, rant over. The reason it's relevant here? It's because writer Kurt Busiek and artists Mark Bagley and Art Thibert provide us, courtesy of Trinity#13, with a stunningly beautiful rebuttal to Goyer's logic that also happens to serve as tonight's fight entry. Synopsis: Superman has to singlehandedly face Owlman, Ultraman, and Superwoman, the latter two being as strong as he is. How will he do?

A lot of writers seem to be split on whether Superman should primarily be a thinker or a brawler. Here, Mr. Busiek effectively shows him doing both at once. But how did Superman get so skilled at that? Explain away, Kal (and Kurt):

But...but...but...Superman not killing is an outside-the-narrative crutch, y'all!

Oh, and did he also mention a "mound of skulls"? How prophetic, Mr. Busiek!

Now that is multitasking!

Tonight's lesson? Not killing your opponents actually makes you a smarter, better hero. And that's one to grow on!

Maybe WB should be consulting Busiek on the MoS sequel instead of Frank Miller. Just sayin'.

Tonight's fight has music to hurt your alternate self by, courtesy of the Greg Kihn Band.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Night Fights: Wright - Round 4: Superman Brings The Kane Pain!

For tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Wright, we provide a lesson on how to deal with extortionists courtesy of the Man Of Steel himself.

Tonight's Super-smackdown is brought to us by 1983's Superman Special#1, written and illustrated by Gil Kane. Synopsis: A presidential advisor named Bentley Wayland (my third Bentley in two weeks!) goes rogue and attempts a White House coup.

Wayland and his forces manage to invade the White House and seize control of America's nuclear arsenals, with Wayland threatening to launch them against the United States unless he is made its leader. 

Hmmm? Politicians using the threat of doing grave damage to the United States Of America to extort the President into giving up governmental control? Naah, that couldn't happen in the real world.

Luckily, Superman isn't standing for it. He manages to disconnect the nuclear button and neutralize the threat. Then he delivers a withering lecture to Wayland while simultaneously giving him a patented Gil Kane backhand.

Tonight's fight music is by the Rolling Stones.

Spacebooger also knows how to handle extortionists.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Night Fights: Wright - Round 3: Nature Vs. Nurture Vs. Nard Kick!

Tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Wright decisively settles the "Nature Vs. Nurture" conundrum, courtesy of the following scene from FF#22, written by Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by Andre Araojo. After getting his butt handed to him for the umpteenth time by the Fantastic Four, the Wingless Wizard gets a visit in his cell from his last surviving clone, Bentley 23. Bentley gives the Wizard his helmet that he and his Future Foundation class thought would help keep Wiz' spirits up. But the Witless Wizard takes it the wrong way.

But that's not how Bentley 23 rolls, so...

"Do it, Bentley! Become the subject of Brian Snell's constant derision!"

Fortunately, Bentley ain't havin' it.

Who knew "Nature Vs. Nurture" could be solved by one good kick to the nards?

Tonight's fight music is by the one and only original Pat Benatar.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's Not Me, It's You

I don't write many long pieces anymore, but.....

Yesterday comic reviewer and fellow Friday Night Fighter Scott Slemmons announced in his blog that he was dropping DC Comics for the foreseeable future in the wake of the Batwoman debacle, which has been the latest in seeming endless series of stupid decisions by DC management recently.

Now it's my turn to make an announcement of my own: I've decided to follow Scott's example, at least in regard to DC's mainstream "New 52" continuity.

Next week I plan to buy Justice League#23.3: Dial E because it's the last hurrah of China Mieville (writer of the now-defunct Dial H). And then....that's it.  The Nu52 and I are done.


Allow me to give you some perspective: The last time I went a month or more without buying any mainstream continuity DC comics was 1993. Before that, it was 1986.

There are a lot of reasons I'm finally doing this. I'm not going to pretend it's all about protesting DC's treatment of its creators. although that is a huge factor. Chasing away J.H. Williams and W. Hayden Blackman from Batwoman merely to maintain an asininely rigid "no marriages" company rule was bad enough, but then shortening their run even further in a fit of infantile spite was downright horrible. And that wasn't even the first time DC's pulled that retaliation move. It happened to Chris Roberson, too. The last 2 years I've read horror story after horror story about how DC management has treated creators, many of whom have since left their books. The string of eleventh-hour revisions and micromanagement and switching creators on a dime has been a constant at DC.

What makes the interference from DC brass even worse is that so many of their creative decisions have been absolutely clueless. An all organically-powered Flash Rogues Gallery, including Captain Cold in a sleeveless parka. A Phantom Stranger with an origin. Beloved characters like Wally West, Donna Troy, the Dibnys, Ted Kord, Cass Cain, Connor Hawke, and Stephanie Brown languishing indefinitely in limbo. An Amethyst first issue with a gang rape attempt. A cynical asshole Billy Batson. A Tim Drake who was never Robin. A dead Damian Wayne AND a dead Cliff Baker within the same month. A Justice League team that doesn't trust each other or act like heroes. A Wonder Woman with daddy issues who is dating the one man in the DCU more powerful than her. A Superman and Lois Lane who are "just friends" and have never dated.

Even in the face of all that, though, I reallocated my emotional focus from the mainstream heroes to the more fringe comics in the new continuity. Comics like I, Vampire, O.M.A.C., Frankenstein, Resurrection ManDemon Knights, and Dial H. So, of course, DC cancelled them all in favor of more Bat/Super/GL/Justice League comics, all with the same homogenized "grim-and-gritty, heroes can only be miserable, no fun allowed" philosophy, all aimed at the same narrow niche market of white dudebros. I'm a bit cautious about jumping on the "Fire Dan DiDio" bandwagon, because I'm positive that philosophy doesn't begin and end with him, and frankly I'm not sure how far above and below him at Warner it reaches. The grim tone of the Man Of Steel movie, which had nothing to do with DiDio, bears this out. I'm not against dark comics, but there has to be a counterbalance somewhere, and the New 52 is not providing it.

There's also the fact that years of DC and Marvel reading have left me with a severe case of event fatigue. It's why I dropped the Green Lantern books and why "Rotworld" rotted my interest in both Swamp Thing and Animal Man. Major events are now a near-guaranteed jumping off point for me. Geoff Johns in particular made me feel constantly jerked around from one major event to the next without any closure whatsoever. When the last chapter of the 11-part Trinity War event ended with "Continued in....Forever Evil#1", it felt like Johns and DC were no longer even bothering to pretend. Marvel has too many events, too, but at least they leave several of their books out of those events.

All that leads me to the biggest underlying reason I'm dropping the Nu52 for good: I'm just not feeling it anymore.

There's no longer that emotional connection to any of the remaining characters. And without that, Nu52 DC is competing on the same level playing field in my mind as Image, Dark Horse, Valiant, Dynamite, Monkeybrain, or any other publisher except Marvel. And losing.

I don't think I'm going to be feeling much loss pulling the plug now because I've been withdrawing gradually. Over the last 2 years I've had the Incredible Shrinking DC Nu52 Pull List. Before Flashpoint I had been buying roughly 25-28 DC titles per month. I bought 38 first issues in Month 1 of the reboot. Which dropped down to 22, then 17, then 12, then 8, and finally 5. DC putting all their storylines on hold for Villains Month helped speed things up. After all, if I could do without these heroes for 1 month, maybe I could do without them indefinitely.

I'm not saying there are no good comics in the Nu52 DC, or that I won't miss the titles I am dropping. The hardest to drop were Scott Snyder's Superman Unbound and Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow. Snyder's Superman, unlike the version in Justice League and the eponymous title, actually comes off as a nice, heroic man who thinks things through. Too bad he's stuck with the shit sandwich that is DC editorial's status quo, especially regarding Clark and Lois. And I'm not a huge fan of Jim Lee, whose characters have fewer facial expressions than Bruce Jenner. Green Arrow is beautifully rendered by former I, Vampire artist Andrea Sorrentino, who could become the next J.H. Williams. Still, I loved Nicola Scott's and Ivan Reis' art that much, too, and I dropped their books. And for every Sorrentino or Reis or Nicola I have to do without, there's a Chris Samnee, Mike Allred, or Jamie McKelvie to replace them.

I'm going to be a bit more generous than the aforementioned Mr. Slemmons is, though, in that my DC embargo will not extend to DC's "Digital First" titles. I can't drop Smallville: Season 11, because Bryan Q. Miller is doing virtually everything right with Superman and Lois' relationship that the Nu52 is doing wrong, and his "Olympus" arc was a Superman/Wonder Woman team-up done absolutely right. The Adventures Of Superman anthology is also a great departure from the Nu52 Superman (although it needs some actual women in the rotating creator lineup), and Jeff Parker's Batman '66 has all of the crazy camp fun of the TV show but none of the budgetary constraints.

Nor will I drop any Vertigo titles. FBP: Federal Bureau Of Physics is a promising new series about the laws of physics breaking down and the special team working to maintain them. Snyder and Sean Murphy's The Wake has been picking up steam the last issue. I'm looking forward to catching up on Lemire's Trillium series.

And then there's Astro City by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. I've read the various volumes sporadically over the years and always been entertained. But with the latest volume, Busiek has got it down cold. Reading issues 3 and 4 yesterday may have been the single thing that ultimately cemented my decision. There was a sense of fun and wonder and awe and didacticism in those comics that's been missing, with very few exceptions, from the Nu52's so-called "hero" comics. This is a comic I'd be thrilled to introduce to my son as he gets older.

I can't guarantee how long this will last. Maybe until there's a new regime and a different editorial philosophy, I don't know. All I can say for now is that after Wednesday, the Nu52 can consider me gone.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Friday Night Fights: Wright - Round 2: Nuns On The Run!

For tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Wright, I'm focusing on Valiant Comics, specifically Archer And Armstrong#3, written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Clayton Henry and Pere Perez. (Hint: if you enjoy fun, humor, action and conspiracy theories, have I got a comic series for you!.)

Synopsis: Obidiah Archer has teamed up with the immortal (and often inebriated) Armstrong to stop Archer's former organization, the Sect, from finding and assembling all six pieces of the Boon, a powerful mystical weapon. They've tracked the third piece of the Boon called the Torque to Michaelangelo's secret entrance to the Vatican catacombs (got all that?), where they now have to face the Sisters Of Perpetual Darkness, a sacred holy order of......


Archer is having NUN of it!

To counterbalance these lethal church ladies with some positive sisterly role models, tonight's fight music is this 70's classic by Sister Janet Meade.

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