Tag Archives: comics

The Marvel/DC Movie Scorecard

I dunno, this summer I think it’s been Marvel 2, DC zip. I’ve been thinking about the superhero movies I’ve seen this season: Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, and Captain America.

Thor's first appearance in jeans.

OMG, Thor

I don’t even know why I liked Thor so much. I mean, okay, kind of coming back to me right now. But THAT doesn’t explain why this was the movie that made me want to go home and write some freakin’ Talent Chronicles! Like, seriously, there wasn’t really anything about this story that was like my story, but it got me excited about telling mine again.

The story was pretty straight-forward, but I think maybe the thing that pulled at me was how Thor changed so much by his exile. He was humbled. By the end of the 3rd quarter he was willing to martyr himself and was finally worthy of the position pretty much handed to him by birth, so he got his powers back and left to kick some 4th quarter ass.

X-Men First Class

X-Men First Class

I’m thinking it was the X-Men I saw next. And I have to say that it was just X-Men devotion that had me coming away liking this movie. It was no Wolverine. And I love James McAvoy, but making young Professor Xavier into a ridiculous Austin Powers character SO DID NOT WORK FOR ME. No, baby.

Ryan Renolds shows off his Green Lantern suit

Ryan Renolds shows off his Green Lantern suit

Green Lantern was disappointing. I was looking forward to this one, and I came out of the theater feeling blah. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the movie, I guess, but just that there wasn’t much there. This might also be because I’m more familiar with the Green Lantern origin story than with any of these others, but it just felt empty and what was there felt really cliched.

Captain America shows off his new shoulders.

How do you feel? Taller.

Saw Captain America this past weekend and I really liked it. Not love, but I really liked it. The story was good with, with all the right elements where they should be and it felt like a good balance between what was expected and stuff that was new and interesting. Although I don’t actually know because I don’t know the Marvel characters as well as I know the SuperFriends (lesson there: you had me a Saturday morning).

I thought they did a great job getting classic Captain elements into a story newcomers could enjoy. Pacing was good, styling was superb. I particularly liked their pick for Howard Stark, and you KNOW I loved evil Hugo Weaving because Agent Smith is totally grown up Anderson (see: Impulse Control) in my head.

What have we learned from this? Well, judging from my pics and top picks, I’d say that we’ve learned that, regardless of what I SAY, my judgement is pretty much totally based on shirtless brawn. But I’m sure there’s a lesson in that because women are turning out to see these movies, and comic book heroes aren’t just for boys anymore–ask any Smallville fan.

Also interesting to note, from my “superheroes need happy endings” perspective, is that 3 out of 4 of these guys do not get the girl. (I’m thinking GL got the girl, but that relationship didn’t have enough story/conflict to hold my interest, so I’m not even sure.)

So what about you guys? I know you have opinions about these movies. Tell me what you thought and why.

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Lady Mechanika: Steampunk Goodness in a Comic

I went to throw my Nook in the pool bag the other day and the battery was dead. After some wailing and gnashing of teeth I realized that I have plenty of paper to read. I have a whole stack of comics I need to get at. One of the things I tossed in the bag was the first three issues of Lady Mechanika.

Lady Mechanika Collected Edition #1 at TFAW

Lady Mechanika Collected Edition #1 at TFAW

Issues 0 and 1 sold out, so I read these in this spiffy collected edition. Issue 0 finds the lady in an underground setting, competing with bounty hunters to find a creature that’s been running amok and scaring to populace. What interests Mechanika is the rumor that the creature is partly mechanical, like she is. Could it offer a clue to the missing parts of her past? Yes, yes it could.

In issue 1 we’re introduced to a drunkard, widowed genius inventor ally who seems to me to have potential, and a leggy nemesis with flaming red hair–because what’s life without a little gratuitous girl-on-girl violence? The story expands as Lady Mechanika follows another clue that might lead to her creator.

Lady Mechanika #2 at TFAW

Lady Mechanika #2 at TFAW

In issue #2, the aforementioned redhead, Commander Winter, along with team, corners Lady Mechanika. Threats are traded and backstory revealed before the lady gets herself out of that mess. We’re introduced to the intriguing figure of Mr. Cain who might have something to do with Mechanika’s past. Meanwhile, the lady herself follows the trail to a gypsy circus.

If you have any appreciation for steampunk art at all, the books are worth the price for the illustrations alone, drawn by author Joe Benitez. It’s a beautifully rendered story, and the story itself is unfolding nicely.

Lady Mechanika #3 at TFAW

Lady Mechanika #3 at TFAW

Issue #3 seems to be delayed until after Christmas! Which sucks for me, but as it seems even the collected reprint of the first issues is selling out, it gives you plenty of time to track them down and catch up.

There’s a reason this series is so popular. And unlike some comics, I didn’t find myself having too much trouble following which bubble to read or what panel to look to next, so it’s probably not a bad one for those who don’t read a lot in this format. Check it out if you can.

Thanks go to Andrew Mocete who always gives good recs.

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Runaways: Teen Superheroes? I’m so there!

Yesterday (the day before this post was written, not actual yesterday…as though you care) I got and read Runaways vol 1: Pride and Joy*. This was a fantastic recommendation from my comics guru Andrew Mocete.

Tag of note: Teen superheroes! Come on, had you at Hello, didn’t it?

Premise: So here’s this group of teens who see each other once a year when they’re forced to hang out together while their parents have their annual meeting for some charity they secretly run. The kids don’t seem to have a lot in common and they don’t really like each other, so obviously they’re thrilled. This naturally leads to spying on the parents and realizing that they’re…da da dummmm…super-villains!

Ouch.

A bit more of the plot: The first volume in trade paperback collects issues 1-6. After that initial setup, with the zealous morality of rebellious teens, the kids decide they need to have their parents brought to justice. But shockingly, reporting your parents as super-villains to the police does not have the desired effect. Our heroes now have to find some kind of evidence in order for the police to take them seriously, while trying to stay under the radar of their ruthless parents. And yeah, they pretty much suck at that.

Characterization: Friggin’ awesome. Seriously, this book was a delight. The writing is absolutely fantastic with dialogue that just pops. I loved it. After a brief introductory skit on the first kid that sets up his character and the idea of the meeting, we meet the other kids and their parents in a series of 1-2 page character sketches that are just brilliant in their ability to deliver a real taste of these kids and their families in such a small space. As a novelist who can’t say 2 words when 10 would certainly make it better, I stand in awe.

Romance: Oh heck yeah! It’s there! New, awkward and sweet, and ever so promising that I had to order the next two volumes and I’m telling you that I paid to get them express. Dude, I never do that. Now I’m not saying it’s a romance. For the most part the boy/girl stuff is subtle and besides the point. I’m just a maniac for that shit.

Style/Readability: As a comic book newb I can tell you that I had no problems with this one. Some I find hard to follow but everything in here really flowed for me. I always knew where we were, it was easy to determine when a scene ended and we shifted into another one, I didn’t have any problem following the order as far as whose speech bubble to read first.

Suitability for younger readers: There’s a T+ on this one, so I set it aside from the mail I was going to share with my six year old daughter and read it alone. In retrospect, I think it would have been fine to let her have at it and to read it to her if it interested her. I don’t remember any foul language, there was no gore, no sex, not even a whole lot violence. If you let your kids stay in the room while you watch the evening news or they channel surf network TV such that they might catch one of those really questionable promos they put on way early or 5 minutes of banter from a show like How I Met Your Mother, honestly, this book is tame. I’m not sure it would hold the interest of a young child, but I don’t think it would damage them.

Note about shopping: If you go hunt these down, the term “volume” may be confusing. The single issues seemed to have been written as three volumes. It would easier to think of them as “seasons.” Then there were two side trips that might be considered mini-series. So what happens in the retailer descriptions is that more than one book called Runaways is said to collect volumes 1-7, etc, because they’re not labeled Runaways Season 1, etc. Add to that the fact that retailers are taking pre-orders for a new printing, so yet more listings, and retailers don’t always provide complete information. The trade paperback “volumes” are all numbered sequentially, such that volumes 1, 4, and 9 are all said to contain issues 1-6, but volume 4 has 1-6 of volume season 2. I found this Wikipedia article helpful. Comics people just seem to know all this stuff, but all the different printings, special issues, and I don’t know what just make me a little crazy.

 

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Buffy Season Eight begins for me

It’s been a few weeks since I read the first volume of Buffy Season Eight, and I never did get around to giving you my impressions. But here you go:

I want to love everything Buffy and I hope I can get more into this.

Why couldn’t I like this? Is it just because Xander gets a big part and gets to be cool and because I really grew to hate Xander by the end of the series? Maybe.

It was hard for me to follow. Book 1: The Long Way Home, contains the first five issues of the series. I think head-hopping and scene/setting hopping were huge issues for me. When you’re watching TV, this works. You’re watching a scene and either there’s a commercial or there’s an instant’s blackness, and then you’re in another part of the story.

But I couldn’t make those transitions in this book. If those cues are there to let me know to restart, I’m not catching them. So you turn the page and you don’t know if you’re continuing where you were or if you’re starting something else. (I hope I’m making sense here.) Sure, you can figure it out, but readers and writers of prose fiction know that when you have to stop and figure it out, it pulls you out of the narrative and brings that choppy feeling to the experience.

The Superfriends, for the little kids, is very easily to follow, what with the very structured episodes, and the little yellow boxes that tell you where you are when the setting shifts, “Meanwhile, at the Superfriends’ satellite headquarters…” I realize that that’s is own style and not necessarily appropriate to this, and yet I find those square-cornered boxes are less intrusive to the narrative than being confused, and make the reading experience smoother and more like reading a novel. For teens and the adults who love to read about them, Miki Falls is a series that employs this well.

But back to Buffy.

The story takes place in a future that happens after the end of Season 7, when there are a whole bunch of slayers running around. (Btw, did you love that moment when they gave all the potential slayers the power and potentials all over the world were awakening to something they didn’t know was inside them? And there were so many of them. That part was awesome, the concept that so many girls who maybe didn’t feel strong or special suddenly found that they were pretty kick-ass, but it was because of something that was always there, waiting. Um, yeah, fan.) Anyway, back to the future, they seem to have acquired a lot of tech, they have a fortress, and Xander seems to be very much in charge of things. He’s supposedly very Watchery. I know, Xander’s the one who sees stuff. It still seems off to me. But I’ve already admitted my prejudice.

So we’re very much dumped into the middle of this new world in which military types, along with the help of some old foes, are the bad guys plotting against the heroes and causing them some problems, while the heroes are tracking down a paranormal mystery.

What is very much there is the snappy dialogue and Buffy-speak, which is nice. What’s missing, for me, is the sense of Buffy as the central character.

I’m not an avid comic reader, and I think mostly I just had problems with the format. I have the second book, and I’m hoping that when I pick that one up I’ll find myself sucked into the story.

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What’s My Line? Help Me Figure Out My Content

Off and on, I’ve been reading Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone. It’s a social media guide for writers, and it’s very good. The first part is kind of a long introduction, and talks about why social media is important, why you need to get involved, when you should start (which, btw, is now, even if you haven’t finished your book, but how you do things will be different if you don’t have anything out yet.)

The second part gets more into the action, by having you really think about who you’re going to be, in a professional sense. I guess the best shorthand to use is that she’s helping you focus your brand. And she has you get together some bios and posts to get you started when you launch yourself. (The book is written with the assumption that you haven’t done any social media yet, but is still totally relevant if you’re already in it.)

The book then moves into the nuts and bolts stuff, with a For Dummies level guide to setting yourself up with a WordPress blog, and on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, and how you’re going to tailor things there to be most effective for you, going forward. What was cool about the way Kristen went about it, was that even though I had done most of the stuff already, she wrote it in a way that wasn’t boring. Dude, I read an explanation of what hyperlinks are, and didn’t roll my eyes or want to skim over it! So that was really well done. This is not a dry, technical book.

But I didn’t mean to write a review. I’m not even done with it yet. What I wanted to talk about was the middle part of the book, which, perhaps I should read over again. It had me focus on what I was trying to do eventually. So I decided that I wanted to be the name you think of when you think Superhero Romance. (I know, who ever thinks that? But you know I think you should.) So next was thinking about how I would focus my blog in that direction, which seemed to involve talking about, you know, superheroes.

And where are they? In comics, generally. ‘Cept I don’t read too many comics. One of the reasons I put off the Talents for a while was because I didn’t feel qualified to write them because I don’t have that background knowledge in what everyone expects superheroes to be. (But then I decided, screw that, we’ll get by, and we do.) Anyway, I realized that the comic fans are not my audience. They like comics. I like things like Buffy, Smallville, and my memories of Wonder Woman and the rest of the SuperFriends (which are better than the actuality of watching those now). And a bunch of the people I know who like that stuff? They’re not much for comics either.  I don’t know why I’m so focused on this.

Anyway, I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what I’m supposed to talk about here? What would anyone want to know about? What do I consider myself an expert in? Well, sewing, knitting, and spending money on expensive dolls are not really relevant topics. I think I know a lot of stuff about writing, but I’m also not thrilled with the idea of being yet another author who writes about writing all the time. There are plenty of those blogs about that, and if I have something to say, it’s probably better served as a guest post somewhere else.

But that leaves me with a whole lot of empty days, and/or posts about things happened to me on the internet, memes, and junk like that.

Which is fine every once in a while, but it’s hardly content that makes for interesting reading on a regular basis.

So I don’t know, what am I an expert at? What kinds of posts would my readers like to see? What kinds of posts will draw people who will want to read my books?

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