Comics

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Tempted to wait up until 3am to watch the premiere this evening but I think I’ll need to make it through the workday tomorrow before the binge begins.  

Jessica Jones will be decidedly adult and word are that it is going for a neo-noir vibe. Watch the opening credits below.  To me it feels like an homage to a PBS detective show that I would watch after school. (Yes, as a child and teenager I intentionally watched a lot of public television) The opening then moves into guitars and drums suggesting that someone is going to get beat up. Chances are it won’t be Jessica.

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On November 20th comic book and superhero fans will be getting the next iteration of the Marvel series that started with Daredevil.  I was aware of Jessica Jones through casual research and my obsession with Squirrel Girl, but that is as far as my knowledge went. For you, true believers, I just finished binging on the first two major story arcs that were featured in the Alias and Pulse titles.  

Hopefully we are on the same page regarding who comics are for.  That question that was mostly settled a few decades ago. The idea that comics are for kids is a rather silly one. Comics are made for every demographic and have been for quite some time now.  Regardless of the subject matter, “underwear on the outside” superheroes or comics based in reality you can find comic books that that cover every conceivable genre and maturity level.  To be clear Jessica Jones was initially designed for adults, dealing with all the themes you would expect. I don’t know if Netflix and Marvel will get as heavy with the adult themes presented in Alias, but I suspect they will.  It potentially will be darker and more complex than Daredevil and significantly more intimate as it deals directly with abuse and Jessica as an individual rather than the ideological focus of Daredevil.

After reading hundreds of pages focused on Jones the highest compliment that I can pay to the character is that she is human.  In some ways I see a commonality between the goals of Moore’s Watchmen and Bendis‘ Jessica Jones. At their heart, superhero comics are pure fulfillment fantasy but if we pull that concept directly into our world being a superhero would have serious consequences personally, professionally and with your place in society.  Watchmen seems to represent a nihilistic view of those consequences while Jessica’s is humanistic. In Watchmen I was often horrified by the actions of many of the characters in the Jones titles I often was cheering and rooting for them, despite their behavior.  Both set of commentary are enormously useful as pieces of fiction and for examining yourself, both have worth, but I am pleased that I have the positive to go along with the negative.  

The last time I really binged on a comic series was the Walking Dead. After several issues I literally threw the book I was reading across the room. The Walking Dead is excellently written and of high quality but I personally could not stand investing in a character and having them be ripped away from me or having them experience a devastating loss over and over again.  This is my fault in a lot of ways.  The comic was meant to be experienced over a period of time and I compressed a years worth of suffering into several hours. Jessica Jones on the other hand made me feel triumphant about the human spirit, despite the horrible circumstances and personal flaws of the character.  

The Netflix Daredevil series proved that Marvel could bring characters to screens that are more people than spandex.  With source material as strong as Jessica Jones Marvel can set the standard even higher and give us quality depictions of characters that we only dreamed about when we initially became comic fans. 

For reference I am linking the currently published Jessica Jones trailers.  Wisely Marvel/Netflix is slowly introducing the character and helping you become familiar with her. I think a lot of die hard comic fans will have trouble describing her, so in my opinion this is a wise strategy.

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As a youngin’ there were many basement attempts at making play armor.  For the most part they all failed. The seventies and eighties didn’t have the type of materials or the internet to make a creation like the above.

Even with those resources I doubt I would have been able to make anything like the above. It took a year to make and I expect that many yoga mats lost their lives in the process.

Source: BATMAN BEYOND Costume from Foam | The RPF Pulse

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I somehow missed this as the song has been around for at least a year, but the animation makes it perfect.  Stick around for some of how the animation sausage is made.

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What will the Spider-Man costume look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No one really knows who is not connected to the production. The Mary Sue is reporting on the rumor that the Latino Review (which gets a lot of things right) is suggesting that the custume will look very much like a high-schooler pieced it together which fits very much in the canonical story, but has never really seemed that way in the movies.

I am very much in support of this.  Not official, but the source of the rumor pointed to DeviantArt user SpikeSDM’s concept above.  

Source: If This Really Is What the New Movie Spider-Man Costume Looks Like, It’s Awesome | The Mary Sue

bombshells

DC’s Bombshell’s first chapter premiered on July 25th and you can click the link below to purchase.  Written by Marguerite Bennett, drawn by Marguerite Sauvage and a cover by Ant Lucia.

Inspired by World War II pin up art I believe these were concept art and collectible figures first and now feature in their own story. 

It’s World War II and Batwoman’s battling crime on the home front. But events in her life are about to quickly change, and she may be leaving Gotham behind for a bigger cause.

Source: DC Comics: Bombshells (2015-) #1 – DC Entertainment

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Without directly knowing, Mike Ploog has been with me my entire life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Mike has intersected with the things I love from childhood to the present day.

There are a variety of images I could have chosen as the lead for this, but I think simple demonstrates his talent best. Mike Ploog seems to effortlessly display movement. When you look at a Ploog sketch you intuitively know what is going to happen after and what has happened before. You can feel Werewolf by Night’s mouth open in close in a menacing growl, his shoulders roll and his hands moving towards you. You instinctively feel that you are in danger. It takes a great talent to convey that.

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Mr. Ploog was in the marines for a decade before working for the mighty Filmation and Hanna-Barbera and then with the great Will Eisner on the Army’s Preventive Maintenance Monthly. During Marvel’s horror era Mike Ploog was the artist for the creation of Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night. He drew some of the most dynamic versions of the Man-Thing and several other titles.  His career in the film industry is nothing short of astounding working on design, illustration and story boards for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and Lord of the Rings, Heavy Metal, The Thing, The Dark Crystal, Superman III, Supergirl, Return to Oz, Disney’s forgotten Black Cauldron, Young Sherlock Holmes, Little Shop of Horrors, The Witches, The Tick television series, The Prince of Egypt, Titan A.E. and 2000s X-Men.

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Ploog’s early comic work drew me to his style in the seventies, even when I didn’t quite understand who he was but then he followed me throughout my teenage years by working on and influencing some of the greatest fantasy ever put to film.  Almost without exception, if I was obsessed with a fantasy film Mike Ploog was behind the scenes laboring on it in some fashion.   Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite horror film, Superman III inspired me to become a software engineer (weird, but true), I fought with my parents because they were going to see Lord of the Rings without me, I can sing most of the songs from Little Shop of Horrors and Young Sherlock Holmes is a bizarre masterpiece that also introduced the world to John Lasseter, now Disney and Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer.

I’ve passed these loves down to my children and I hope they do the same.  There is something special about each and every one of them and Ploog’s contributions large or small resonate still.

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After almost fifty years of working in creative industries Mike Ploog is releasing an art book filled with his life’s work.  This will be 320 pages of illustrations and examples from his career. The Kickstarter will run through July 16th of 2015 and I highly recommend you pick it up. In my mind, supporting a man who has given so much to what we love is an important thing to.  His work draws you in and seeing it together like this will pull you back into worlds of your childhood and inspire creatives of the future.

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Hey, you busy on May 2nd?  Actually, forget that, cancel all your plans.  Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow.  I realize that you may not dig comics, though I can’t see why, but someone you know probably does. Honestly though, even if you are in your fifties or double that age you can get into comic books.  I can guarantee there is something that will interest you.  There are allegories of World War II using cats and mice, comics centered in reality, serious illustrated works and good ole fashioned heroes with their underwear on the outside.

 

FCBD will be a blast, many participating comic book stores will have costumed heroes on location and other events.  Plus you will get free comic books, no strings attached.  You know what you need to do.

 

If you want details, go hereif you want to find a participating location go here. I’m taking my family to go see the great people at the Time Capsule in Seekonk, MA but there is certainly somewhere near you.

 

Get free stuff, support local business and see people smile. Pretty much a win for everyone.

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=GcY44hx64Bw%3Fw%3D640

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One of the communal benefits of being a geek culture enthusiast is enjoying conventions.  In a room filled with other obsessives it almost feels like home.  I love seeing celebrities and love seeing the gaming and pop culture shops that collect at these types of events.  

 

The best part of a convention isn’t the big names, it is walking around the convention at the edges finding the person who is not famous but is working their darndest because they love what they do.  Frankie Washington (Facebook) exemplifies this, he loves giant robots, he loves giant monsters and has dedicated his art to them.

 

I talk about things I love, but they are often somewhat frivolous or obscure. If I can do any good in these articles it will be highlighting the hard working local creator and give as much exposure as this medium allows.

 

Above you see his work for the upcoming art book Gamera vs. Zine-Ra, a celebration of one of our greatest kaiju heroes and Creature Double Feature star.  

 

Frankie’s work reminds me of classic manga, gonzo trading cards like Mars Attacks and Dinosaurs Attack! and a healthy measure of Mike Ploog.  

 

Here are a few other examples, I hope you enjoy:

 

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Colossal Kaiju Combat trading card game.  Washington does the artwork based on feedback from the community forum.

 

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The Last Daughter of Lilith cover design, book by J.L. Metcalf

 

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The Secret Lives of Villains webcomic, written by Matthew Blair and lettered by Rebecca Currell

 

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Reckless Sidekick Productions’ Kid Switch Comic anthology

 

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Mech: Age of Steel anthology by Ragnarok Publishing

 

There are a certain group of people who will find this hilarious.  The rest will just be confused.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=3nsDv_lkaLw%3Fw%3D640

A bit of a warning for those of you that are coming here excited. This is only a twenty second teaser and very little is revealed. The most you are probably going to get out of this is a slightly better look at the top half of the batsuit. The batsuit itself seems a little odd, like patches of kevlar glued together in an uneven fashion. I assume this was done to make the suit look a little more organic and realistic, but I am not sure I like the choice.

I am actually deeply worried about this movie, but I hope all my fears are unfounded.  I like Zack Snyder quite a bit, but I think he is being asked to do too much.  There are too many characters and I feel like they may be forced in to the universe that Zack and his team are created ending with something that feels pasted together rather than the careful golden and silver age inspired feel of the Marvel/Disney movies.

Twenty seconds isn’t enough time to make any judgement, so I guess we will have to wait until the full trailer is revealed on April 20th to get any definitive impressions.

Update: If you can’t see the embedded video.  Click this link to view the original post.  

Update: If you can’t see the embedded video click this link to view the original post.  

purple_man

 

We have been talking about comics a lot lately, but we have hit some kind of comic book inspired, television nirvana, so expect some more comic posts until this trend stops. According to the schedule that doesn’t seem likely for a while.

 

Yesterday we posted about how enjoyable Daredevil was. After the critical acclaim, the best news about this series is that we have three additional stand alone series then a team-up series involving all four of the newly introduced characters.  If they follow the comic arc of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist then it should allow for some morally complex storytelling, departing from the wonderful, but mostly family friendly movies.

 

I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but I am eager to see how some of these characters will be handled including the design and art direction.  We have a couple of images that have made their way through social services including Dr. Who alum David Tennant as the truly despicable Purple Man (show above) and the some of the first in character shots of Jessica Jones and Power Man (Luke Cage).  So far, I’m pretty happy with them.  Unsure if Tennant will actually have purple skin, but noting the realism of Daredevil I will not worry about it too much.

 

David Tennant as the Purple Man

 

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Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones

 

 

Mike Colter as Luke Cage

 

 

via RadioTimes and Koray Erson

Update: Gallery with additional set photos

 

 

After months of waiting and time spent worrying that Marvel and Netflix wouldn’t be able to pull together a decent Daredevil adaptation we finally have our answer. A dark, brooding and violent interpretation of decades of material and stories, probably the best comic adaptation ever done on television and possibly better than any movie adaptation. I am fairly confident I can say this even after only four episodes. Even Christopher Nolan has some lessons to be learned here.

Many of you may not know Daredevil or know him well. Philip Kollar over at Polygon does an amazing job of running down the major comic milestones and familiarizing you with the character herebut you can easily go into this show cold and enjoy it just as much, you will only miss the geeky moments like “Night Nurse, IS THAT ACTUALLY NIGHT NURSE?!?” like I had over the weekend.  I get excited about some pretty esoteric comic moments, so your mileage may vary.

As comic to television and film adaptions slowly became popular I felt a lot of frustration as there was always a disconnect.  I think a lot of writers and producers felt the material had to be adjusted for the general public to accept.  This adjustment almost always meant a watered down product, one that hinted at greatness but never quite got there.  As comic fans we were happy to have anything, but there were thousands of story arcs to choose from with our favorite franchises and properties, why not just adopt that material instead of doing something new by someone who doesn’t understand the medium.

When you boil comics down to their essence the capes and the underwear on the outside of the costume don’t really amount to much.  They are like novel covers, drawing you in but not really holding you there.  If the story is lousy or boring you will end up dropping the character.  The fans understood they were experiencing great literature and because that literature was hidden within the confines of what others considered immature they were the few that got to experience it.

These comic fans are adults now and they are running the industry.  You don’t have adapt a comic property verbatim to please the fans, you just have to put together a good story that holds true to the spirit of the character.  This is where Daredevil succeeds.  Regardless of the minor changes in characterization, setting and costumer this is the Matt Murdock that so many people love.  A tortured, driven man who wants to help but is hindered by his own rage and depression.  The type of hero that people can see themselves in, comic fan or not.  This is what made comics such an experience, these are great stories, not just great comic stories.

Fair warning, Daredevil is clearly a dark, violent show that is not suitable for children. Crime ridden Hell’s Kitchen is a dangerous place and both the heroes and villains are not exactly ‘nice’. Daredevil doesn’t kill people, but he is not shy about putting people in comas and he is the nicest guy in the bunch.

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Daredevil is clearly the best comic inspired television right now, but it also may be one of the best crime drama shows as well. The Frank Miller inspired film noir setting and lessons from modern crime television are put together expertly in a thirteen episode package that was released on Netflix in a single day ala House of Cards. It is the first of five planned Marvel television shows that culminate with a team up movie in the style of the Avengers. If we can continue to expect this kind of quality then we are in for a treat, both comic fans and regular folks.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=iI2JWIN1zMQ%3Fw%3D640

After Guardians of the Galaxy came out and surprised everyone by being wildly successful Saturday Night Live did a sketch about how Marvel could sell anything, including a movie starring spinning office chairs. The aging comedy show was correct. At this point Marvel could do anything and do it well.

On paper Ant-Man is one of those ridiculous Silver Age concepts that shouldn’t work in live action. It should barely work in the comics because it seems like a gimmick, how many stories and opportunities can a hero take advantage of while being the size of an ant?

The full trailer is out now and indeed it works. They made Ant-Man awesome with just the right amount of humor as a nod to the insanity of the idea.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=pWdKf3MneyI%3Fw%3D640

I know it is the job of the network to make things look great, but so far Daredevil is looking like a proper Daredevil show. Dark, violent dealing with crime and living in Hell’s Kitchen. I secretly wish it was set in the eighties, but that just makes the job more difficult for the staff.

Scott Glenn has settled nicely into the aging mentor role which seems to work perfectly here. Catch it on Netflix on April 10th.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=RzNH7FkGSQU%3Fw%3D640

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Not the image above, but the one below.  Ryan Reynolds on his official Twitter account reveals the old school take on Deadpool’s costume that will be used for the movie.  I like it, but I expect by the end of the film it will be torn to shreds.

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Since 1982 I’ve seen Swamp Thing about a dozen times and I have never seen the poster above.  Hulu is using this as the thumbnail for the movie in search.  I can’t find anything about the poster online either which is a bit unusual.  The depiction of the creature looks a good deal like the actor who played him, the late Dick Durock but the illustration of the iconic Barbeau is really odd.

Durock played the heavy in a wide range of films and television. Check out his filmography here.  Durock also played a memorable ‘old man Hulk’ during the Incredible Hulk tv series in a two part episode titled “The First”.

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The scenery chewing Louis Jourdan is also here adding gravitas and cartoon villainy. It is an early comic book movie and if I didn’t have eight layers of nostalgia distortion in front of my eyes it may be unwatchable, but since I am not inclined to think critically about such things it is just like a hot cup of cocoa on a snowy day.

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The teaser for a teaser bit may be a little played out, but I like that we get a sense of tone in this Netflix exclusive series.  I suspect Marvel has another winner with this one.  A dark show without the constraints of network television in short story arcs that lead to continuity in the next series. Netflix will follow Daredevil with Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and then an Avengers style team up with The Defenders.  Each arc will have a thirteen episode run until the team up, which is listed as having four to eight episodes.

Marvel will get bonus points with me if they get Affleck to do a cameo.

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Well, we have ourselves a legitimate Fantastic Four trailer.  Everyone is here, although we don’t really get to see Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman in action.  We see bits of The Thing and the Human Torch, convincing effects.  The trailer is working really hard to let us know that this is a serious movie, with gravitas.  Personally I don’t have strong opinions on this.  Seems ok, but there isn’t enough information.  I do dig the retro vibe of the spacesuits and would like to see that artistic direction be pervasive throughout the rest of the film.

Rumors coming from the studio don’t seem positive, but that could be meaningless.  We will have to wait until August to judge the movie on its merits.

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New Avengers 2 Trailer
New Avengers footage, with more clues and possible connections to the Black Panther mythos and upcoming movie. Video below.

Firestorm’s costume created on a visit to Hobby Lobby
Eh, his costume could use a little work and maybe a little less hot glue.

Space X Explosion
One small step for giant explosions and self-directed landings on unmanned barges.

RIP Origa
We lost a unique talent on Saturday to lung cancer.  The Russian born singer who was famous in the US and Japan for Ghost and the Shell and other anime tracks died too young.  See one of her most popular tracks below.

Fox Bringing Back X-Files?
With Anderson and Duchovny?!?  It’s possible and it seems like Fox wants it.