The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
Brunch? Hah! The semi-new format begins here, as a full meal of links, musings, reviews, and unwitty witticisms awaits you beneath the cut on this Easter Sunday.
QUESTION(S) OF THE WEEK: With the new Twilight graphic novel selling heavily despite being blindingly awful, it’s got me thinking: Should comics adapt prose works? Which novels would make for good comic book adaptations?
BRAVE AND THE BOLD DEPT: “The Power of Shazam!” by Steven Melching
The creators of this show hew incredibly closely to the original Golden and Silver Age comics from which they draw their inspiration. The Captain Marvel mythos remains just as our inner children remember it, right down to the C.C. Beck style of drawing pupils with no eyes around them, and the brutish caricatures of the Seven Deadly Sins– I mean, Seven Enemies of Man. Dr. Sivana and his two evil children appear as well, torn from the original Beck-drawn pages, and now with gloriously silly English accents, and zany evil inventions. Sivana summons Black Adam back from his millenia-long banishment, and together the two take on Batman and Captain Marvel.
Billy Batson’s quest for kinship and family takes the thematic forefront in this episode. We see his dreadful life at the local orphanage, where bullies roam free and that old bitch Miss Minerva makes his life a living hell. Desperate for a connection, he goes easy on Black Adam, who bears the symbol of Shazam– and he pays for it, with Shazam in jeopardy and Sivana in his quest to steal all the power for himself. Batman, of course, identifies with Billy’s situation, and eventually connects him with his lost sister. Perhaps Batman is the Dark Knight, but in this episode, he’s a big softie, scaring bullies off during the day and giving a kid a chance to belong, a family Bruce Wayne never had.
In the pre-titles teaser, however, the Starro subplot builds to a head, with the Faceless Hunter from Space (no, really) subjugating the various heroes of the DC Universe. I’m interested to see where this is going.
RANDOM THOUGHT! (What? Yes.) I bought the new Barenaked Ladies album. It’s not bad! I was concerned, what with the lack of Steven Page on this one; it’s like the Beatles going on without Lennon. You know what, though, I like this one; I’d rank it somewhere in the middle of their oeuvre if you twisted my arm.
ITEM! Multiversity Comics provides a “gateway” article for the works of Grant Morrison. It turns into a bit of a shitstorm in the comment section, but the article itself is powered by unabashed love of G-Mo comics, and I can’t find fault in that. See for yourself:
Too many authors seem afraid to throw you off the deep end, but you can imagine that within five pages, you might just be very confused via tricky dialogue or scenery. If you’re willing to put in the effort like I am, you end up with highly rewarding tales time after time after time, and ultimately this aspect of multiple reads required makes Morrison’s work some of the best books on the market as far as bang for your buck is concerned. If you would rather sit back and read a book, get it, and go home? You’ll need to look elsewhere.
ITEM! Good ol’ Colsmi has again been too busy thinking about comics,and shares those thoughts with us again. This time around, it’s an article on happy endings (not that kind), or as he puts it, “talking about continuing series with long-established characters where someone carelessly and skillfully screws up by accidentally ending the whole series without anyone noticing.” He turns his attention to Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, Frank Miller’s Daredevil, Slott and Templeton’s Spider-Man/Human Torch. It’s a brilliant piece of writing:
Do I tell you this because I think it’s interesting in itself, or because I imagine those memories in themselves illuminate “Born Again”? No. I certainly do not. I do it to show you that these failures, these stories which refuse to permit their narratives to continue for me beyond their immediate closure, were so powerful that they triggered a memory not only of themselves, but of all the trivial details which framed my lonesome reading of them. They in effect froze time for me in real life in addition to closing it off for future creators where these specific characters were concerned.
ITEM! Over at MGK, the man himself dips a toe back into the pool and provides one more reason why he should write Dr. Strange. C’mon, Marvel, throw a few issues at the guy. How could it hurt?
ITEM! Speaking of MGK, he also takes a baseball bat to Blackest Night’s kneecaps. And ribs. And, er, head:
A Geoff Johns event book, to me, always reads like the literal translation of an algorithm designed to create A Good Event Storyline. Like, if you put together a trend line, and the Y-axis was “How Well The Heroes Are Doing,” you’d get a squiggly line in most books: the line starts out at about the midpoint or slightly below (IE, “normal”), then dips down sharply when the baddies start kicking hero ass, then pops up a bit as the heroes get their second wind, then goes down deeper when the villain turns out to have a serious master plan for which they weren’t ready, and then climb to the finish. Whenever I read a Geoff Johns event comic, I feel like he looked at that line in advance and then wrote his storyline to hit those beats exactly, regardless of whatever story he wrote.
NON-ITEM! Does anyone’s browser refuse to let them access Newsarama, due to malware issues? Fear not, it appears to be a hiccup with an ad, and the site is as safe as ever. Just in case, you should probably get all your comics news from Comic Book Resources, right? Right. (As of Sunday, Firefox is loading Newsarama again. That’s the last time I write anything ahead of schedule!)
OBLIGATORY CHRIS SIMS DEPT: It falls to me to update our faithful readers on Sims’ shenanigans now that Brad Curran’s got that unfortunate restraining order. Over at ComicsAlliance, Chris Sims went a bit wild with the April Fool’s gags. There’s the announcement of DC’s follow-up to Blackest Night, news of 14 new Green Hornet titles (I would like to pre-order Green Hornet Meets the Harlem Globetrotters) and Mark Millar’s adaptation of Finnegan’s Wake. The best of them all, however, had to be the press release for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1988, featuring– well:
I’d buy that in a hot second, even with the apparent lack of Thomas Magnum, Jessica Fletcher, Harry Callahan, or Ash.
ITEM! Plok, or Pillock, or Jackson Pollock, or Prog Rock, or whatever he calls himself these days, has issued a challenge: come up with new and exciting space fiction ideas, for our amusement.
ITEM! Over at the Savage Critics, Abhay conducts an interesting interview with comics writer and filmmaker Donald Glut, whose career credits include Captain America, Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, He-Man, and Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood, among other things.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Oh man, you guys, two Abhay posts in one week, it’s like some kind of non-denominational holiday! In this one he writes a bunch of capsule reviews, and hell, I haven’t read it yet, so go see for yourself. I bet it’s brilliant.
ITEM! Justin Zyduck, he of the world’s coolest surname, continues his look at the Communists of the Marvel Universe with my personal favorite Commie menace, the Red Ghost. Previous installments have looked at Igor (the dude that blew up Bruce Banner) and the Chameleon. To wit:
So stripped of era-specific politics, what “Soviet-ness” seems to mean for Stan Lee here (and elsewhere, notably in a Captain America/Hawkeye/Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch Avengers story with a Vietnam analogue) is exploitation, and that’s something you can always find a relevant outlet for. In fact, it’s interesting to see how Marvel’s anticommunist themes of the early 60s morph into the antiestablishment themes of the late 60s – they’re both about taking a stand against The Man, whether that Man is an American establishment figure or the Soviet high command keeping the little guy (or ape) down.
DOCTOR WHO DEPT: “The Eleventh Hour” by Steven Moffat
Right then. First impressions? Steven Moffat’s opening episode of the “new” new Doctor Who is his weakest effort yet on the series– which means it’s still damn good television. New Doctor, new companion, new Tardis, new clothes, new screwdriver– but underneath those young eyes lies the wizened soul of a 906+ year old Time Lord, and underneath that lies the heart of a child, and somehow, Matt Smith pulls it off with a bumbling grace. I didn’t want to like him, I really didn’t– David Tennant wasn’t just the Doctor, he was my Doctor– but in comes Smith out of nowhere, giving us a mad, arrogant, funny, ingenious, powerful Doctor. The Doctor, the one and only, as ever. The same madman with a box, but with a new face.
Karen Gillan, meanwhile, dazzles as the new companion, one whose relationship with the Doctor feels unique, thanks to Moffat’s wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey storytelling methods. She’s got a fire to her, and it’s not just the red hair; Amy Pond’s looking to prove something, methinks, and not to the Doctor, but to herself. It should be an interesting ride.
As for the other details? The main monster was a bit “naff,” as the Brits say, the CGI felt below par, and the new theme tune will, er, take some getting used to. The new Tardis, however, appears quite gorgeous, and I look forward to getting to know her better. As I sit here typing, and the seconds tick off, traveling into the future, I’m liking it more and more. New new Doctor Who looks to be as good as ever. Glad to have a Smith on board.
NOT COMICS DEPT: Noted aesthete and technophile Stephen Fry– yes, the Stephen Fry– writes a glowing article for Time about Apple’s new iPad. Yes, you could say Fry is biased, as he played the Adam to Douglas Adams’ Eve way back in the 80s, when he first bit into the Apple, but the article acts as a nice remembrance, treating the iPad not as a new toy– though it is– but as something newer, more magical:
It is possible that the public will not fall on the iPad, as I did, like lions on an antelope. Perhaps they will find the apps and the iBooks too expensive. Maybe they will wait for more fully featured later models. But for me, my iPad is like a gun lobbyist’s rifle: the only way you will take it from me is to prise it from my cold, dead hands. One melancholy thought occurs as my fingers glide and flow over the surface of this astonishing object: Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker’s Guide that humankind has yet devised.
Now, as far as the iPad relates to comics– well, I don’t see myself buying one anytime soon. What do you think? The iPad: hero, or menace? U-Decide!
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