Japan and America both have a long history with the superhero genre but despite obvious similarities, the differences between the way the cultures have approached the genre make for some pretty different stories. One only needs to look at the Japanese Spider-man TV where our hero Tatsuya gets his power from an alien from the planet Spider, as well as a giant robot instead of a radioactive spider. Despite the massive differences between the way the two cultures treat the genre, there’s still an immediately recognizable core that makes a superhero. It’s something that makes My Hero Academia, the new anime adapted from the manga by Kohei Hiroshi and Hirofumi Nedi, a fascinating look at the evolution of the superhero genre as our fiction crosses borders at an unprecedented level. It doesn’t hurt that My Hero Academia also represents the best of what it means to be not just a superhero, but someone who loves them as well.
Yet, because of the growth the genre across the 20th century, superheroes and the milieus they populate have become more varied in morality breadth and thematically interests. Stories from The Boys’ anti-corporate screed to Hawkeye’s fascination with the (relatively) mundane populate the comic book medium and give readers of superheroes a huge variety of choice in regards to how they consume their favorite genre. Read the rest of this entry »
I’d been excited for the collaboration between Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. since it was announced. While I’ve been routinely impressed with the comic they’ve been putting out thanks to both Johns’ understanding of the character as well as JR JR’s gorgeous art, it was what I was expecting. Nothing about it reached a level of character-defining that some of Johns’ superior work has done.
Until Superman #39. This comic is maybe the best Superman story since the New 52 began with only Grant Morrison’s Action Comics #13 standing as its rival. This may sound like damning it with faint praise since this has been a rough few years for Superman. It hasn’t all been terrible. As stated, Grant Morrison’s comic had some spectacular highs and Greg Pak’s run on Action Comics has been a lot of fun. What makes this comic incredible is how it changes up the dynamic of Superman while still enforcing the things that make him such an amazing hero.
2014 was a good year for Marvel’s women – certainly betters than ‘13. Their flagship female-led title, Captain Marvel, was relaunched to consistently good reviews; Ms. Marvel was an instant critical and commercial darling, X-Men continued despite Brian Wood’s necessary departure and will soon be getting a new writer from Ms. Marvel’s G. Willow Wilson, and Storm, Elekrtra, Spider-Woman, and She-Hulk received titles of their own as well. Not all of those titles are good, and some may be cancelled, but they were still there.
Black Widow was particularly notable as it was considered long overdue. Natasha Romanov should have gotten her newest solo title two years ago when she played a crucial and beloved role in the third-highest-grossing movie of all time. Why it took so long, I don’t know. But when it dropped, Black Widow #1 was outstanding. Below, now edited, were my thoughts when I first read it in January, and they hold up twelve months later.
Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Shows Archie Continue Marketing To Horror Fans With ‘Great Comics’ Gimmick.
It’s quite a world we live in these days. You can watch movies on the internet, there are places that serve shawarma at three in the morning, and the best horror comic on the stands this year was published by Archie comics. Afterlife With Archie was a surprise for everyone. When it was announced I thought everything about Afterlife With Archie felt like a lazy bid to jump on the waning zombie fad. (Maybe if I keep calling it that we’ll move on to something else soon like mummies or werewolves or those Japanese umbrella-eye things) Surprisingly not only was Afterlife With Archie not a lazy comic, it was the most earnest horror comic that has come out in a long time. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script eschewed any too-cool-for-school self-aware horror jokes and instead gives us a straightforward horror story, all the more powerful for how it stuck to convention. The pencils of Francesco Francavilla certainly didn’t hurt either.
While it may have been a surprise to many comic readers, it definitely isn’t to those that have been paying attention to what Archie comics have been doing. While you weren’t paying attention they have become possibly the most progressive of major American comic companies, being bold enough to have the openly gay character Kevin Keller in an all-ages book and they even had him get married in the pages of Life With Archie, months before the much more hyped gay wedding between Northstar and Kyle Jinadu in the pages of Astonishing X-men. They also adopted digital distribution for all of their titles on the day of release well before either of the big two. Archie has displayed an earnest move to keep up with the times both from a business perspective as well as a moral one. It’s not surprising that they’d work to expand their market line as well with Afterlife With Archie being their first ‘teens and up’ book as well as their first made exclusively for the direct market. (as opposed to the news stand spaces they usually get) The comic was a success, trading off on both its ‘zombie’ and ‘really well made’ gimmicks. Of course they’d decide to expand with the character that made the most sense: Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Read the rest of this entry »
The Raimi Spider-Man films are genuinely some of my favorite films of the 21st century. Wonderfully executed, terminally idiosyncratic and endlessly endearing, those three movies (yes, I’m counting Spider-Man 3 here. I’ll get to that) manage to convey so much love for the idea of Peter Parker and his adventures, it’s easy to want to be Peter Parker; even if Tobey Maguire’s performance is often questionable. But this is Raimi’s show through and through, and while it’s obviously a showcase of talents for many people (will James Franco ever be this charismatic again?) in the end, it’s about a very particular vision, filled with love and pride for that nerdy kid from Queens who was bitten by a radioactive spider, was confronted with tragedy and then decided that that tragedy should not define anyone in the same way it defined him.
On the other hand, The Amazing Spider-Man films by Marc Webb are…well, they’re competently shot and wonderfully acted (Emma Stone in particular stands out) but the scripts are the ultimate example of what happens when you go by Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat formula without any heart or thought. Every scene feels like it happens here because that’s what the beat sheet said rather than because it evolved naturally from the events we saw before. See Gwen and Peter at the Oxford admission office or Harry telling Peter about his disease in the second film or the first film’s forays into back story for the parents.
However, I want to clarify some things before I continue. My issues with the Webb trilogy (Yeah, I know, please bear with me) aren’t related to me being conservative about comics adaptations. In fact, unlike many other fans, I’m quite fine with The Amazing Spider-Man ditching the “with great power” quote. Heck, I don’t mind that Norman Osborn was never the Green Goblin. My issues are related to three things: the Webb Trilogy constantly feels like the epitome of what committee writing looks like, it does not commit to the idea of being a creative reboot and, perhaps more importantly, the films are pretty ethically questionable (if I were to be charitable)
Well here we go guys. It’s time for you to meet the team behind this madness. Get to know Chris, Anne, Allison, Juan, and Jerry as we spend a bunch of time talking about who we are and what we love. Or we would have if out love of discussion hadn’t kept getting in the way. Anyway, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. There will be an audio version coming shortly as well for those of you who don’t want to sit in front of a youtube video for an hour and a half.
In the late nineties Marvel comics was in a dire financial situation. It isn’t an exaggeration to say many writers were well aware that these could be the last Marvel comics ever written. It was not a good time for Marvel itself, but it was a time for Marvel to bring in an era-defining number of writers. Brian Michael Bendis came over and began the Ultimate Spider-man book, which he still he still writes today, as well as his later work of New Avengers. Mark Millar was brought on to work on things like Wolverine: Enemy of The State and Civil War could be said to have been definitive title for the creative state of Marvel in the 00’s. Garth Ennis began the Punisher story Welcome Back Frank which ended up launching the Punisher: Max series, both of which are considered the high points of the character.
Amid this creative restructuring was Grant Morrison and his forty-issue run on New X-men. Morrison’s take on the X-men is a significantly darker one, choosing to reverse the idea of a sprawling soap opera with a racism analogue in the background. Instead of being superheroes the X-men were decked out in black leather and struggling with the urban and personal issues mutant-kind faced. It’s also perhaps the darkest the X-men have ever been. The second issue ends with an act of mass genocide on the mutant country of Genosha. It’s also worth noting that this genocide is headed off by giant fist-shaped jet crashing into a skyscraper Magneto is in mere months before the horrific events of September 11, 2001. (Morrison even notes the eerie timing in his book Supergods)
Such a dark take puts the idea of the mutants as a race to the forefront and shakes up the very foundations of X-men by eliminating a long-standing fixture along with one of the most popular supervillains in all of comics. Don’t worry, he gets better. This scene sets the stage for Morrison’s entire run on the X-men. What can mutants do and what is the mutant experience like? The emphasis on this book is on the mutant aspect. Mutants are not just an analogue for prejudice in Morrison’s book, they are their own culture and species in their own right with all that is entailed by that.
It’s time for the party to finally begin. Join me, your host Chris Hansbrough, Xzyliac and Anne Agnew as we discuss the recent Guardians of the Galaxy IMAX teaser, Sailor Moon, and all the DC television series’ coming in the next year. What do we think? What do you think? Let us know by giving a listen and dropping a comment on the post below. I warn you this isn’t exactly the best put together show as we’re still figuring out where our feet are at and from now on, Every show recording will be done live, giving us the chance to interact with you, the audience as we try to make this the best podcast we can.
What can you expect? Well, a lot of things. We’ll be discussing our favorite books of the week, the news we care about, and having fun being total dorks with one another for around an hour every couple weeks. So with that out of the way, take a listen and I hope you enjoy the first total mess of an episode we recorded last night.
Xzyliac – Twitter: @Xzyliac
Anne – Twitter: @AnneMAgnew
Brought to you by The Beguiling, the same lovely folks behind TCAF, the release party for Image Comics’ Sex Criminals was held at Wicked Night Club on September 25, 2013. In attendance were series writer Matt Fraction, artist Chip Zdarsky, some folks from Ego Assassin, Toronto sexpert Sasha, and body decoration boutique Black Line Studio. The event was advertised as a safe space for people of all genders and sexualities, but it was hard to know what to expect. Read the rest of this entry »