Apr 15 2016

Doctor Strange Trailer (And Some Thoughts on The Comics)

By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, they actually did it. Here is the new Doctor Strange trailer.

Doctor Strange movie

Looks like fun, yeah? I’ll give you a few thoughts of my own; if you want a moment by moment Doctor Strange trailer breakdown check out this video at IGN.

(Note: Marvel/Comixology/Amazon is having a sale on Doctor Strange digital comics — 99 cents each. Check ’em out here.)

So. Doctor Strange. What’s his deal? He’s got magic powers, lots of nifty mystical items that he uses to protect Earth from inter-dimensional nasties, and… I don’t know, he’s cool. Not a traditional superhero like Iron Man, Spider-Man and the rest.

Splash page for the "Doctor Strange"...

Splash page for the “Doctor Strange” story in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). Art by Steve Ditko. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a personal note, the first “real” comic book I ever read was an issue of Doctor Strange. I’d been reading Richie Rich, Casper, Archie, that kind of stuff. One day my dad said, “It’s time for you to read some real comics,” and handed me a copy of Doctor Strange. My little boy mind was blown. The first thing I remember is how much smaller the lettering was. That was true for all “real” comics (read: Marvel and DC); Richie Rich, et al, were aimed at very young readers and had simpler dialogue and storylines… and larger lettering. The next thing I remember is the splash page. One big image, full of colorful details, with Doctor Strange himself looming large over it all. I think he was looking out of a window, but it’s possible he was sitting in a chair with stuff drawn around him. I’ve been looking for that issue for years and I think I’ve found it, although I can’t remember what number it is at the moment. I also don’t remember the story. But I do remember how I felt. It was basically my comic book Bar Mitzvah. No more little kid comics for me. Now I could read the good stuff.

And I did. I have a nice collection of books that I bought at the local candy store/newsstand, because you could buy comics there when I was a kid. (You still kind of can, it just isn’t as common.) I didn’t keep those comics in very good shape, which in some cases is a bummer — my Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Daredevils would be worth a few bucks, as would my copy of the original Wolverine mini-series (which you can get for less than six dollars via Comixology). But instead of bagging and boarding everything, I read the hell out of my comics, because they were awesome. (Those Daredevils in particular are probably my favorite comic books ever.)

Back to Doctor Strange. His book went in and out, and I didn’t buy it that often. It’s possible that the local candy store didn’t always have it in stock even when it was being published. In addition to not being a traditional superhero, I don’t think he was as popular as the big names. He did found one of my sneaky super teams, The Defenders. The original core group of Defenders was Doctor Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and The Incredible Hulk, quickly followed by The Silver Surfer. Basically a bunch of really powerful dudes who don’t play well with others, hence the term “non-team”. Later Defenders mainstays included such popular characters as Hellcat, Gargoyle, and Nighthawk. Also Valkyrie. Never heard of them? Join the club. (Marvel is doing a Netflix series called The Defenders, which I’m sure will be fun but doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with The Defenders’ comic books.) The Defenders hung out at Doctor Strange’s Greenwich Village mansion, known as The Sanctum Santorum, while constantly making a point of telling readers that they were NOT a super-team like The Avengers. I liked those comics a lot. Something about the idea of a group of semi-outcasts and/or angry people and/or loners teaming up only when it suited them really appealed to me.

I also always dug the good Doctor on his own. His job, Sorcerer Supreme, was to defend Earth from mystical threats. Sometimes he gets help from other Marvel heroes, but usually he doesn’t, because he’s the only one who can do what needs to be done. This led to some wonderfully trippy artwork, first by the legendary Steve Ditko (written by the even more legendary Stan Lee) and later by lots of other people.

The thing that made me the happiest in the trailer was seeing Doctor Strange’s Astral Form. (When Tilda Swinton punches him and it looks like a ghost pops out of his body.) It works like this: Doc leaves his body behind, defenseless, and his spirit floats around and does stuff. He can travel faster this way, but he can’t touch anyone and most people can’t see him. (One notable exception, if memory serves, is The Hulk. Because comic books. UPDATE: I just read some Doctor Strange comics from the 80s, and in those stories Doc can allow people to see his astral form if he wants them to. Again, because comic books.) It’s something that for various reasons I always found fascinating, so to see them do it in a live action movie had me making little nerdy noises.

So there you go. The Doctor Strange trailer. Looks like Marvel might get it right again, taking a character that isn’t well-known and putting said character into a big-budget blockbuster movie that doesn’t suck. Here’s hoping.

Read some comics:


Oct 10 2015

Marvel Unlimited NYCC 2015 Deal

You’ve only got a couple more days for this deal but you know what a fan I am of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, which is kind of a Netflix for comics — you pay a fee (monthly or yearly) which grants you access to a library of Marvel comic books. Is it EVERY Marvel comic book? No. Is it over 13,000 Marvel comic books? Yes. Is it worth it? By Odin’s smelly sweat socks, of course it is. And this deal makes it even better.

Preview tons of digital comics for free, search back issues, and enjoy with Marvel.com’s special online reader.

Marvel is offering some free stuff if you get a subscription during New York Comic Con. Hit the link for details.

To clarify what’s in the digital library: old stuff and new stuff. There are some gaps. You might be reading a series and suddenly an issue is missing. But they do a pretty good job of adding newly published issues a few months after they come out. Mostly, though, you can read some really great comic books going all the way back to the 1940s. Recently examples of stuff I’ve read include:

The Man In The Ant Hill” from Tales to Astonish #27: The first appearance of Hank Pym, who would later become Ant-Man (and Giant-Man, Yellowjacket, and, weirdly, the Wasp).

Captain America: this particular collection of comics came out in the 80s and is very, very awesome. Steve Rogers is told by the U.S. Government that he can’t be Captain America anymore unless he does something that I can’t remember but would go against his beliefs. So he says “bite me”, gets a new costume, and the government finds someone else to be Cap. Worth getting the trade paperback even if you don’t get a Marvel Unlimited subscription. Also awesome are the early Captain American & The Falcon books. These comics deal with race in a way that is rare for the medium, and the comics were coming out during a time when racial tensions were high — and they talk about that. Falc is never Cap’s sidekick, and his first appearance (sans wings) features one of my all-time favorite costumes. It’s so cool it hurts.

Civil War: You know that upcoming Marvel movie? You can read all of the comics that inspired it. In this case, I actually think you’re better off reading it digitally as opposed to getting the trade paperback, because the tie-ins are very important and one of the things you can do with the Unlimited subscription is read by “Comic Event”. That either makes sense to you or you checked out a long time ago.

X-Factor: Peter David is one of my favorite comic book writers. He wrote my all-time favorite Hulk line, “Best way to make people of one mind is to bash their heads together. You can read his “Incredible Hulk” run, which is awesome. But his work on “X-Factor” is arguably even better because he takes less well-known characters and makes them interesting, funny, and he makes you care what happens to them. I’m talking about characters like Madrox The Multiple Man and Pip The Troll. There are lines that I’ve quoted to my wife and kids totally out of context that they agreed were hilarious.

Anyway, if you were thinking of getting a Marvel Unlimited subscription, you can get one now and also get some free stuff. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Source: Marvel Unlimited NYCC 2015 | Marvel Unlimited NYCC 2015 | Comics | Marvel.com


Aug 31 2015

Grumpy Cat Is Getting a Comic

This was announced awhile ago, and more info was revealed during San Diego Comic Con, but I only just noticed because it’s not something I track very closely. But for fans of the cantankerous kitty, here is some exciting news: Grumpy Cat is getting a comic.

SDCC: Dynamite Entertainment Announces Full Creative Team for Grumpy Cat #1 – Grumpy Cat contributors include Ben Fisher, Agnes Garbowska, Ben McCool and more and features multiple variant covers, including a Create-Your-Own-Meme.

There are numerous variant covers, but this one by series artist Ken Haeser, is my favorite.

Grumpy Cat #1 Cover B

 

Because someone is asking for help and Super Grumpy Cat says no. Hee.

This quote from the article on Comic Book Resources also amused me:

Tavis Maiden (cover artist): “This is literally the first thing I’ve worked on that my kids think is cool.”

Grumpy Cat #1 hits comic book shops in October.

Source: SDCC: Dynamite Entertainment Announces Full Creative Team for “Grumpy Cat” #1 – Comic Book Resources


Jul 09 2015

Oh My, It’s Comic Con Time

To borrow the words of the ever-wonderful George Takei: Oh my, it’s comic con time.

George Takei Oh My

What are we talking about? Why, the San Diego Comic-Con of course. It happens every year.

(Here’s a video of George saying “Oh My” in case you need to hear that. There’s never a bad time to hear George.)

Anyway, San Diego Comic-Con has been around for awhile, but in the past decade, it has become big news. Geekery, as we all know, is no longer a hidden pleasure for many. It’s become a billion-dollar business. Amazon recently introduced their Geek Boutique, which about as mainstream as it gets.

One could debate when this all started, the explosion of so-called geek culture into the real world. I’ve been a Geek Gold Card member for my entire life, but suddenly people actually want to know who the hell Ant-Man is. (If you are one of those people, just ask. I’m nice that way. For example, here’s the latest “Ant-Manmovie trailer, complete with a reference to The Avengers.)

The links below give you more information about the big event than I ever could, and not only because I won’t be there. I’ve actually never attended the San Diego Comic-Con, just the New York Comic Con. But there will be lots of announcements about nerdy stuff (or perhaps I should say formerly nerdy — is something still nerdy if it’s immensely popular?) like movies, TV shows, video games, and yes, even comic books.

Here’s how to follow io9’s coverage of Comic Con. (We like io9.) The Mary Sue is also a good source. For example, here’s Betty White as Wolverine.

And then there’s this, via Polygon.com. Watch it at your own risk.

 


May 08 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Link Roundup (Ongoing) – UPDATED

Now that Avengers: Age of Ultron is finally here, and I’ve seen it (twice), I can start reading about it until my eyeballs fall out. This page will have an an ongoing list of links to some of what I’ve read that I found interesting.

Me and The Avengers movie.

Personally I prefer The Avengers. Have I mentioned that lately?

UPDATED 5/11/15 (new links after the break; you can tell they’re new because they say NEW LINK.)

As you know, I frickin’ LOVED The Avengers, the first one. To say that Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t quite as good as the first film is like saying I’m shorter than Shaquille O’Neal. Or, to ever-so-slightly borrow a joke from the movie, that this blog post will be shorter than a Eugene O’Neill play. Bottom line: it was a lot of fun, Joss Whedon did a nice job of balancing all of the myriad demands of a film with a ton of characters and future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to promote, and I’ve already seen the movie twice and would gladly see it again.

As expected with a summer blockbuster, especially a follow-up to a film as great as The Avengers, the Interwebs are filled with articles and blog posts and charts and click-bait about all things Ultron. I went on Rotten Tomatoes planning to read a few reviews. I got as far as one before being sucked into a rabbit hole (maybe I should say tesseract instead) of Age of Ultron related topics.

Oh, the obligatory Spoiler Alert from this point forward. I’m not going to bother watching what I say about the movie, although this isn’t a review and odds are I won’t reveal anything particularly important. But if you haven’t seen the movie yet and prefer to do so without knowing anything about what happens, stop reading now. Then come back. Don’t worry. We’ll wait. Read more »


May 04 2015

Age of Ultron Hard on Joss Whedon Because He Has a Family

Avengers: Age of Ultron ruled the box office this weekend. And before that, it ruled director Joss Whedon‘s life. This was, according to the director, difficult on him because he has a family. Here’s what he said in an interview:

English: Joss Whedon at the 2010 Comic Con in ...

English: Joss Whedon at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When I watch it, I just see ‘flaw, flaw, flaw, compromise, laziness, mistake,’” said Whedon. “The reason I set out to make another film is because I wanted to make one that was better, and I wanted to up my game as a shooter and work harder on every aspect of it and sort of give myself up to it in a way that’s hard for me, because I have a family. I started as a writer in low-budget TV, and there was always this element of, ‘This is good enough.’ And with this movie, I never wanted to say, ‘This is good enough.’” (emphasis added)

And now the explanation. Read more »


Apr 17 2015

The Black Widow and Daredevil TV Show We Could Have Gotten

Ah, the 70s. Rich with history. Bell bottoms. Missed opportunities.

This is not one of them.

This photo is from Comic Book Resources (aka CBR), via The Mary Sue, both excellent websites for all things nerdy. Maybe I should say “all things formerly considered nerdy”, since when The Avengers movie makes $1.5 billion, it’s an Avengers world now, which kind of means there are a lot more nerds out there, and therefore how nerdy is it really to be into this stuff?

Answering my own question, caring at all about the fact that David Bowie’s ex-wife Angela Bowie (about whom The Rolling Stones’ song “Angie” may or may not be about, although that’s what most people think, including me until I just Googled it — trivia!) at one time “owned the TV rights to Daredevil and Black Widow”, according to CBR, is pretty nerdy.

This is a picture of the costumes. It is very 70s.

Daredevil and Black Widow That Never Happened

Considering how good the Netflix Daredevil series is, it’s probably for the best that this show never happened. Then again, there was 1988’s The Incredible Hulk Returns, which featured Hulk, Thor and Daredevil. That wasn’t particularly good (although of course I watched it), but it didn’t ruin the current incarnation. (Which really is quite good. You should check it out. Not with your kids, though, unless you have older kids. I’ll write more about it at some point.)

Perhaps it would have been interesting to see what Angela Bowie would have done with the role of Black Widow, since as a CBR commenter points out, “Bowie’s not really the problem in those DD/BW shots, though. That Daredevil costume is ridiculous.”

Indeed it is. But… the 70s. Even the entertainment that never happened was fun.

Comic Book Legends Revealed #440 – Page 3 of 3 – Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book ResourcesComics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources.

via The Mary Sue