We have a lot to discuss. I’ve been writing my silly little articles and supporting games that I really love (Savage Rifts only beat their Kickstarter goal by $430,000 over, so, let’s all take a moment for how great that is) or what happens in the ending credits at a film that shot for; and attained; mediocrity, but that has been a means of avoiding the real issues that I want to approach (which is why I missed like five weeks of articles).
So, in this article, I’m going to touch on some important stuff I missed, then focus on some current things that I enjoy, and finally, talk about some stuff that’s coming up.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
As the incomparable Jordan Spencer was unloading tons of praise upon this film, I, the comic book historian with encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel and DC, failed to comment on my thoughts of this film. A great deal has been said in praise of BvS and a great deal more in condemnation of it. In fact, it could be argued that the internet hate of this film has altered the course of DC films, from this point forward.
A couple weeks ago, comic book writer Geoff Johns (pronounced jee-OFF j’ONZZ) has been asked to co-chief the DC Movies, taking the role of ‘DC’s Kevin Feige.’ Now, it should be noted that Feige started his career in films and was made an associate producer on the first X-Men film due to his knowledge of the Marvel Universe (which really makes me wish I had just gone to LA to work in film rather than try to write comics for years and years), and went on to hold the reigns on ALL the creative elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Meanwhile, although Johns’ focus has been on comics, he does have some films and television credits to his name, including writing some episodes of Justice League Unlimited, Blade: The Series, Smallville, Arrow, and co-producing the Green Lantern film which starred Ryan Reynolds.
Which… well… you know.
To be fair, Johns was also an executive produced on Batman V. Superman, so it would seem as though he, at the very least, shares some level of vision with Zach Snyder, which probably means less of a sea change than people are expecting from him. However, to comic book fans of DC Comics in the 1990s, Johns is best known for having been responsible for the return of Hal Jordan (after having turned evil, redeemed himself while sacrificing his life, and returned as the host of the Spectre) and Barry Allen (who had given his life to save the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths).
My immediate concern with Johns brought in as a pinch-hitter on the newly-Christened DC Extended Universe (where they totally missed the boat, because if they had called it the ‘DC Universe – Extended,’ we internet personalities could go around holding our plastic wine glasses filled with box wine saying D-CUE, which would be amazing), is that he’s generally brought in to fix things that are only broken to a certain segment of the population which management seems to believe is all of the population.
I was enjoying Green Lantern comics before Hal Jordan returned and I haven’t bought a single issue of the series since the last one of Green Lantern: Rebirth. I will always choose Wally West as the best Flash, with the many stories revolving around being in the shadow of his mentor being powerful and moving tales (and Mark Waid’s talent shining through on every page). In fact, with the return of Barry, I ended up just quitting collecting comics for some time (and still haven’t returned, although my subscription to Marvel Unlimited and my occasional purchases on the Marvel Comics and DC Comics apps fill in the blank that comics once occupied). So, for me as a fan, Geoff Jones represents a return to course that concerns my continued enjoyment of these films.
And, to be clear, I enjoyed Man of Steel (it was my pick for movie of the year, 2013) a great deal and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice a great deal more (it will probably be in my top five… 2016 has been a great year for films, though). I thought Affleck gave an excellent performance as a grizzled, veteran Batman; a version we’ve never seen in live action, before; Henry Cavill gave another excellent performance as the Last Son of Krypton, Gal Gadot stole the show as Wonder Woman, and Jesse Eisenberg gave an amazing performance as a twisted, obsessive Lex Luthor. I think that all these characters exist so firmly in the zeitgeist that the fact that they are owned by a comic book company, making them mercurial and evolving, is lost on the vast throngs of the populace who expect Bale’s pursed-lipped brooding, Hackman’s scene-chewing real estate scams, and Reeves’ pablum-filled delivery of something he had read a few minutes prior.
Plus, the released scene that is called ‘Communion’ explains a lot of stuff that is going on with Luthor…
It’s my hope that Johns is able to do what Feige has done, but I, as a fan, have been burned by Johns a bunch of times (like a painful run on JSA… yeah, Geoff, I liked Damage, damn it!) and I fear for the future of the DCEU (pronounced dee-SUE).
Captain America: Civil War
I’ll keep this short and sweet.
Civil War was, ultimately, the third Avengers movie and it far surpassed the second one. For me, the Black Panther arc was the most compelling aspect of the film, whereas the actual events that led to the ‘Civil War’ came off as somewhat forced. Still, the outcome offered a lot of fodder for future films and makes me excited for Thor: Ragnarok and the coming Avengers films, not to mention the new Spider-Man flick.
Captain America: Steve Rogers
I wanted to give this some analysis because the meme of Cap saying ‘Hail Hydra’ in the last panel of the first issue of Nick Spencer’s new series has led to some truly terribly response from the fans.
I’m not talking about the goofy memes that are popping up or the theories that range from plausible to completely insane, I’m talking about the legions of fans that are calling for Spencer to suffer a multitude of terrible fates, including unemployment and even death. Most of these fans (I would even go so far as to say the overwhelming majority of them) don’t read the comics and did not read the issue in question. Instead, they are simply responding to a single panel of a 33-page comic book story and deciding that it is bad enough to wish harm on another human being.
There is something wrong with this. Jordan wrote a great article last week talking about how we aren’t focusing on the real issues, as a people, and I published it, proudly. When a single panel becomes a major news story that infuriates people while the battle for leadership of the United States has devolved into a circus, we have some real issues. I can’t help but think that, if this were ten years ago, this comic book wouldn’t have even been on the national radar, but after three successful solo films and two films as a member of the Avengers, Cap is now in that realm of ‘Untouchable Public Content™,’ not dissimilar to that of the characters in BvS.
For those of us that actually read the issue, it is clear that there is some kind of manipulation going on there. It’s clear that the story is still being told and NONE OF US have any idea where it’s going to go.
I will, however, make one thing very clear: the flashback in that first issue is back to 1926. It shows a very well-established Hydra recruiting Sarah Rogers, Steve’s mother, who is disenfranchised, just as many were during that time period. This is the year after the publication of Mein Kampf and occurs during a period where the National Socialist Party of Germany was still in the process of establishing itself. This flashback takes place a full 7 years before Adolph Hitler is appointed Chancellor.
To say that Captain America as an indoctrinated member of Hydra is the same thing as a Nazi is tantamount to simply proclaiming pride in one’s own ignorance. The story makes it clear that there is some twist occurring, and for those of us that have read many, many years of Captain America comics, that twist will likely come in the way of the Cosmic Cube, a reality-altering artifact that has been used by the Red Skull on a variety of occasions.
Historically, the best Captain America stories are, in general, about the question: ‘How does Cap get out of this one?’ Red Skull captures him and puts him on an island full of villains from around the world? ‘How does Cap get out of this one?’ Nightshade turns Cap into a werewolf? ‘How does Cap get out of this one?’ Cap shot in the chest by the love of his life? ‘How does Cap get out of this one?’ Arnim Zola pulls Cap into a dimension he controls where time moves differently? ‘How does Cap get out of this one?’
And, when the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers ended, I was left asking that very question.
Please, I beg of those of you who are reasonable and have only been caught up in the torrent of ignorance, please stop these ruthless attacks on creators of entertainment. It’s not too late to pull away from the brink of complete Idiocracy. I have to believe it!
So, onto something more positive. I read Preacher when it was first coming out and about 20 issues in, I sort of dropped collecting it, for whatever reason. Years later, a good friend would loan me all the Preacher collected editions and I proceeded to tear through them and read the entire story.
And loved it.
Rumors of a Preacher series/film or whatever have been circulating forever and, when people found out that Seth Rogan was going to be the show runner, there was palpable backlash (not quite ‘Captain America is a member of Hydra’ backlash, but greater than ‘our banks have deliberately bankrupted our planet’ backlash). Personally, I wanted to see what he did with it and I paid only cursory attention to how it developed. In a way, I wanted to see what it looked like from a purer lens than I have been consuming media, as of late.
It was damn good.
The primary casting was as near perfect as you can get, but some logical alterations had to be made to the story in order to transcend mediums and there was some minor push back on the casting of Ruth Negga as Tulip (come on, now), but I feel like that first episode justified those changes. Frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of the Preacher comic books, but my wife will never read them. Instead, she and I have this series to look forward to, each week and I get to experience Preacher anew, through her eyes.
If you’ve read the comic and can deal with changes when a thing translates from format to format, check it out! If you’ve not read the comic and like weird things, check it out!
I’m already a fan.
With the new Star Trek: Beyond trailer out and the new CBS streaming Star Trek series getting a teaser, Trek fans are getting those same goodies that Star Wars fans have been enjoying for half a year, now.
With its third installation, the film series has the chance to reclaim some of the good will that was spent with the poorly-received Star Trek: Into Darkness (which, frankly, I didn’t hate as much as other folks), especially as the new trailer seems to indicate that Kirk and the crew will be exploring some of the classic themes of the original series and, perhaps, some of the early films. The aliens look great, the action looks insane, and Kirk looks confused.
The forthcoming series, debuting in January, 2017 on CBS and moving to CBS All Access, soon after, will revolve around a new group of characters exploring the Star Trek galaxy in the classic mold of the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The biggest news about this is that it could alter the way we get network television (well, at least, new network television).
I’ve been a Trek fan since I was quite young, so it’s exciting to see this return to form.
So, this is happening.
The new MacGyver series will be about Cyclops’ brother, Havok, as he struggles to learn to control his powers while maintaining a relationship with the love of his life, Magneto’s daughter, Polaris.
Oh, I’m being told that, not only is this not the case, but it would make no sense if it was.
Instead, Lucas Till (who did play Havok in the X-Films) plays a young MacGyver who uses his unique skills to deal with various issues while building a clandestine organization to help him take over the planet and battle G. I. Joe.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I don’t know crap about this series, but I don’t hate the trailer. I had a passing enjoyment of MacGyver, back in the day, but the main thrill of the show was seeing what weird combination of things he would use to get out of hairy situations. In this new era of DIY videos all over social media (check out Jordan Spencer’s YouTube page, by the way) and LifeHacks, is this kind of thing actually relevant?
Supergirl Moves to CW
I haven’t watched a lot of the new Supergirl series. I watched the pilot early on, and I watched a handful of episodes prior to the Flash crossover (including the excellent retelling of a classic Alan Moore Superman story in ‘For the Girl Who Has Everything’), however, I found those episodes I watched to be, for the most part, insipid. It seemed to be attempting to establish itself as a show for women in their 20s and 30s, but it also seemed as though it was insulting that group, repeatedly. It will be interesting to see what happens on CW; whose DC series have managed to appeal to a wide range of fans.
The big news is that Supergirl will be included in the ‘Arrowverse’ series of shows and will be brought in through a crossover that will include Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, as well as the Girl of Steel. Is this the first live-action crisis? We’ll have to wait until September to find out.
Me? I can’t wait to see what they do.
…Is being developed by Kevin Smith for MGM.
I’ll be paying very close attention.
Finally, some more recent info.
DC Rebirth looks to bring back some of my favorite components of DC from the 1980s and 1990s and this makes me very excited. There were some really big reveals in that first issue and I may break it down in a week or two when people who want to read it have, but here was my favorite one…
Long Live the Legion!