Super Sons #1: Peter J. Tomasi writes Super-Awesome DC book

It has been some time since your friendly neighborhood blogger purchased a superhero comic book that made him think, “These guys get it. They really get it,” but that is exactly what happened with Super Sons.

Long story short, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez have put together a DC Comics product with “Superboy” Jon Kent and “Robin” Damian Wayne that is a pure joy. I have historically groaned any time young kids with superpowers appeared in my favorite books, but Super Sons is pitch perfect across the board. Even better, it’s only $2.99.

There’s much more to say, but for that you’ll have to check out my latest YouTube review. If Mr. Tomasi keeps this kind of work up, then Super Sons will be my favorite book on the market. Bravo.

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Mark Waid: ‘Every superhero you love’ is a SJW

There was once a time when activist-writers tried to hide their attempts to hijack comic books and turn them into little more than social-justice propaganda. Writer Mark Waid has changed all that. This week he took to Twitter and told the world that “every superhero you love” marches (or flies or teleports) under a SJW banner.

Check out my latest YouTube video on Mr. Waid’s opinion that comic book writers should look to anti-free speech ideologues for inspiration.

‘Justice League’ trailer arrives: Fool me twice, shame on me…

The new Justice League trailer arrived today, and the good news is that it looks awesome. The bad news is that Batman v Superman looked just as amazing and then turned out to be a sloppy mess.

Zack Snyder is an strong visual artist, but at this point in his career it seems like his Achilles heel is a propensity to sign off on scripts that are half-baked.

Check out the trailer below, watch my YouTube video, and then let me know that you think about the fate of Justice League in the comments below. I really hope Warner Bros. took the fans’ criticism to heart, because overall they know what they’re talking about.

Exit question: Can any movie be bad if the trailer use’s “Icky Thump,” by the White Stripes? If Justice League doesn’t do Jack White proud then your friendly neighborhood blogger we be one angry blogger…

Batman v Superman: Jesse Eisenberg’s Turd Luthor almost destroys film

Batman v Superman

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has arrived. Fans finally get to see the two titans of D.C. Comics square up against on another while simultaneously setting up numerous other movies. Was it good? Was it bad? Does the “Sad Affleck” viral video convey what millions of moviegoers will feel by the end of the weekend? I think that the one thing people will remember 10 years from now about the film is just how big of a turd Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor turned out to be in the D.C. Punch Bowl, but I will try and lay out what worked and what didn’t in bullet points below.

First off, it should be reiterated once again that director Zack Snyder knows how to make a movie look cool. There are scenes that are incredibly gorgeous and he seems to have a great gut instinct for the shots fans want to see — probably because he is a fan. His problem, however, comes from the writing side of the equation. It is glaringly obvious that someone mandated all sorts of things that should have never been in the movie, in part because Hollywood producers have a penchant for being idiots. The script paid the price.

The plot of the movie is fairly straight forward and essentially told in the trailer. Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne both view Superman’s existence on earth a threat to humanity and both pursue a monomaniacal quest to end his life.

Superman struggles with the role he plays living among humans and then a studio-mandated monster is shoehorned into the finale because needlessly spending lots of money somehow translates as “good” to executives in Hollywood (One would think they would learn a thing or two from X-men Origins: Wolverine, but no!) The credits roll and then everyone wonders if there will be an extra scene at the end because that’s what Marvel does. The end.

The question — Is it good? — still remains. First, let us acknowledge what worked:

  • Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and Batman. He put in the time required to succeed, and it showed.
  • Henry Cavill did a fine job as Clark Kent and Superman, even if he took a back seat in what was initially supposed to be his movie.
  • Jeremy Irons makes an excellent Alfred.
  • The fight scenes are exactly what you would expect from the guy who knocked it out of the park with 300

Now, let us cover what did not work:

  • Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an embarrassment. The entire film is dark and gritty and then he plays Luthor like he drew inspiration from Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever (another Warner Bros. movie that suffered because it had too much going on, among its many other problems). Worse, the ominous music that plays when he’s on screen — juxtaposed with his goofy performance — reminded me of the “Large Marge” scene from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Any scene with Eisenberg that was supposed to be dramatic was not because he wasn’t believable as a Superman-worthy villain.
  • The movie was disjointed. Luthor should have been a serious businessman and there was absolutely no need for him to create Doomsday. The way it all unfolded was cringeworthy, which again begs the question: Was it Synder’s fault or studio-mandated? I will give Synder the benefit of the doubt since he stuck to his guns on Watchmen and wisely changed the ending for its film adaptation.
  • Batman v Superman was too long. There was a good 30 minutes that could have been cut from the film if they weren’t trying so hard to set up Justice League.

Jesse Eisenberg

In short, Batman v Superman is the classic case of “What might have been.” Parts of it are good. Parts of it are excellent. Unfortunately, some of it is just bad. In fact, just looking at Jesse Eisenberg’s face right now makes me shake my head in disgust. It’s not as bad as the time he likened San Diego Comic Con to “genocide” (yes, seriously), but it’s pretty bad.

I recommend seeing Batman v Superman to long-time fans because the impossible was made possible. For a kid who grew up in the 80s, I cannot help but feel as though this generation is spoiled rotten when it comes to cinematic superhero fare. See the film, but know that you will also walk away frustrated at the wasted potential.

It wasn’t your fault this time, Ben. Really. It wasn’t.

Editor’s Note: Check out Hube’s take over at The Colossus of Rhodey.

Zack Snyder’s ‘nightmare’ sneak: Scowling Superman terrifies

Superman nightmare

Zack Snyder has released a new “Batman v Superman – Exclusive Sneak” for the upcoming movie, and it is frightening. The “nightmare” clip begins with Batman trapped in a desert bunker manned by some sort of shock troops loyal to Superman. The Man of Steel arrives at the remote location and approaches his prisoner with a scowl normally seen by the Dark Knight.

Batman nightmare

Yes, it is possible to make Batman wet his pants. Bruce Wayne is righteously terrified (hence, the nightmare). Imagine a man with the power of a god — unaccountable to no one and restricted only by his own definition of right and wrong. Would the world hope and pray that this “superman’s” moral compass had a lifetime warranty, or would they not want to chance it and find a way to destroy him?

Superman scowl nightmare

Nations around the world would only tolerate Superman’s existence as long as there were equal or greater threats out there that he could defend them from. Leaders would jockey to win his allegiance. Wars would be fought because of him, and in the end it is entirely plausible that he would finally succumb to the temptation to end the madness by declaring himself our global king.

Batman v Superman nightmare

Some fans are already bemoaning the movie and its depiction of “nightmare” Superman, even though it won’t even be in theaters for another four months.

Perhaps the most hilarious feedback came from Dan Slott — the guy who “killed” Peter Parker for over a year and then put Doctor Octopus behind the mask.

He said: “I’d rather have a Superman who inspires and gives people hope — and not a dark & gritty alien who inspires fear.”

Dan Slott Superman

The lack of self-awareness is astounding. Replace “Superman” with “Spider-Man” and “alien” with “Doctor Octopus” and then ask him how he has the gall to critique Snyder. But I digress.

Online critics who are oddly upset that Henry Cavill will not become a Christopher Reeve simulacrum are missing the point: Synder has elevated great characters to their well-deserved mythological status. He is exploring big ideas about larger-than-life characters. To do the movie justice (no pun intended), he can’t be beholden to some idealized version of Superman that simply would not work in the cinematic universe Warner Bros. has created.

Whether you’re on Team Snyder or a Team Slott, let me know what you think in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you think.

‘Superman: Action Comics’ more like ‘Activist Comics’ with police brutality story ‘Justice’

Action Comics 42 DCSometimes people ask me why I write on comic books. The reason is because culture matters, and these days comic book creators see themselves as activist-storytellers instead of simply storytellers. Superman: Action Comics #42 is the perfect example of how modern writers attempt to do their small part to inculcate the “correct” ideological bias into readers.

Superman Justice AC42Evil white cops: Check. Police phalanx marched into place with ominous close-up on black boots: Check. Angelic minority voices of peace and reason within the ranks of both law enforcement and the protesters: Check.

“We’re going to beat the hell out of you. And you’re going to crack. You’re going to fight back. And then we’re going to roll over every other moron on this street,” says Sergeant Binghamton to Superman. The whole issue left Business Insider’s Joshua Rivera “breathless.”

Superman Business InsiderMr. Rivera wrote:

It’s a moment that echoes similar events that have unfolded across the country recently in cities like Ferguson and Baltimore, where law enforcement — primed to use excessive force — attempt to strong-arm peaceful citizens into submission. Like in those cities, the smallest miscalculation can lead to utter chaos.

When a Metropolis citizen then gets unruly, the commanding officer sees it as an opportunity to march on those gathered, with batons and shields at the ready — and then Superman, absolutely exhausted from his fight, places himself in between the crowd and the cops.

It’s a beautiful, arresting image by artist Aaron Kuder and colorist Tomeu Morey, a cathartic moment for anyone who saw the shocking imagery coming out of Ferguson and felt utterly powerless. But that’s not even the real gut punch.

The cops march anyway, raining tear gas on the citizens and even attacking an officer who objects to the proceedings— while Jimmy Olsen photographs the entire ugly affair. […] I still haven’t caught my breath.

Modern comic book writers embrace activism because left-leaning sites like Business Insider write op-eds about how said activists leave them “breathless.”

Accuracy and nuance are ignored because Business Insider writers are not left “breathless” when they read about Baltimore cops who are ordered to “give space” to looters and rioters.

Baltimore lootingMr. Rivera would probably not call it a “beautiful image” if Aaron Kuder drew his inspiration from the Ferguson, Missouri looters who ran off into the night with as much liquor and alcohol as they could carry.

Liquor Looter FergusonFox also covered the Superman story with straight-news reporting. Brian Henry interviewed Dimitrios Fragiskatos, the manager of Midtown Comics in New York City, and Patrick Colligan, president of the NJ State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, for his July 31 piece.

Mr. Henry never used words like “breathless,” so of course Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston wrote up something special to allow his readers to get out their Two Minutes Hate on Fox.

Bleeding Cool Action Comics 42The interesting thing is, all the people talking about “lies” and “propaganda” never point out the “lies” and “propaganda” in Mr. Henry’s reporting. Even his headline is politically neutral: “Superman fights the police in new comic paralleling Ferguson riots”.

Superman Action Comics 42 CopIn short, comic book writers in 2015 do not simply see their work as “just” a comic book. Writers like Dan Slott — who has been openly political in his Twitter feed — will trot out that sort of sentiment when they’re exposed by yours truly or writers like Hube at Colossus of Rhodey, but in general they see themselves as social justice foot soldiers.

Action Comics Superman JusticeMr. Colligan’s comment to Fox sums up how a lot of comic book readers feel these days:

“Comic books are taking on social issues lately and maybe they should get back to taking on superheroes and making people laugh.”

As long as writers continue shoehorning their personal politics into titles or saying nasty things on social media platforms — while also behaving like Mark “fuck off” Waid when they receive legitimate push back — the industry will continue to founder. It’s a shame, because it doesn’t have to be that way.

Mark Waid F off tweet

‘Batman v Superman’ trailer: Zack Snyder goes were Marvel Studios fears to tread

Batman v Superman 911The Batman v Superman trailer is out, and one thing is obvious: Zack Synder is going with a level of realism that Marvel Studios has shown no desire to duplicate. Anyone who lived through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will not be able to see Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne engulfed in dust and debris without thinking of that day. If they decide to accept the director’s decision, then they can appreciate what the visual does for the story — while everyone else sprints away from the carnage, Bruce Wayne hurls himself head first into the chaos. That is the kind of bravery (bordering on psychosis) a man would need for him to seriously attempt to challenge Superman.

Batman v Superman flyThere are plenty of valid criticisms that could be made of Mr. Synder’s DC Universe, but it is hard to deny that his Superman exudes raw power. When he is on the screen, he demands respect. The argument that his costume is dated and cheesy just doesn’t fly (no pun intended), because if you can be led to believe that a character possesses the power to exterminate the entire human race, then you will respect him in almost any outfit.

Batman v Superman desertThe strength Superman wields is what will (understandably) cause Bruce Wayne to fear the alien and, at least for a portion of the film, seek to destroy him.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor telegraphs exactly what “Batman versus Superman” is about:

“Black and blue. God versus man. Day versus night.”

If a man had the power of a god — but he wasn’t God — wouldn’t he have to be destroyed? The same question would, of course, apply to a … Wonder Woman.

Batman v Superman Wonder WomanMarvel Studios has a track record of making great movies, but for the most part it has shied away from the level of realism embraced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and Zack Synder’s “Man of Steel.” Both kinds of movies can happily exist in the summertime blockbuster market, but Marvel’s problem is that there are only so many times the world can be demolished in a shared cinematic universe before the cotton candy-ish tone seems weird. Perhaps Marvel Studio’s “Civil War” will finally address that problem, but as of now DC has the pole position on superhero fare that makes an audience think about real-world issues.

If you plan on seeing “Batman v Superman,” then let me know what you think about the trailer or anything else related to the movie in the comments section below.

Batman v Superman teaser trailer: ‘We as a population on this planet have been looking for a savior’

Superman v Batman angelThe Batman v Superman teaser trailer is out, and it looks amazing. I may be biased given that it looks like many of the ideas director Zack Synder is going to explore were covered on this blog when the Man of Steel trailer was revealed.

Here is what I wrote December 11, 2012:

“The truth is, the world would reject Superman. And in his love for humanity he would offer himself up to them. No matter how strong and powerful he was and no matter how much he tried to convince humanity that he loved it they would fear and, ultimately, seek to destroy him. A world in which Superman exists would thrust a moral weight upon the shoulders of its citizens that would be too uncomfortable to bear for millions (possibly billions) of people, and they would seek to find ways to cast off such a burden by banishing him from earth, discrediting or destroying him all together.”

Now, here is what an assortment of pundits said during the Batman v Superman trailer released April 17:

“Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world should be a figure of controversy … We as a population on this planet have been looking for a savior. … Human beings have a horrible track record of following people of great power … Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. … Now we know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky.”

The world wants to believe that the perfect human could exist, but if he were to ever really walk amongst us then they would destroy him. They would call him a false prophet. They would fear him. They would seek to make him bleed because a perfect man would change everything. (Hmmm. This story sounds familiar…almost like it really happened.)

Superman v Batman False GodIn a world where Superman existed, there would be those who rightly conclude that if he was not a god, then a check on his power must be put in place. A man with the power of a god — a fallible man — could not be trusted with absolute power. There would always be the chance that he could turn evil, which would beg the question: Then what?

Superman v Batman bowThe answer: Batman.

Superman v Batman cowlThe one man who could create a plausible contingency plan for dealing with a rogue Superman would be Bruce Wayne. He may be a mere mortal, but he has the necessary combination of attributes necessary to pull off such a mission.

Zack Synder has a lot to juggle with Batman v Superman. Audiences won’t know how strong the script is until they step into the theater, but as of Friday, April 17, 2015, they at least know that thematically and visually things appear to be right where they need to be.

‘Justice League: War’: DC delivers action that may leave some viewers with battle fatigue

Superman Justice League

Is it possible to have too many explosions in a superhero movie? DC’s latest, ‘Justice League: War’ is 79 minutes long, and almost the entire run time is filled with things going “boom.” In theory that sounds great, but there are only so many hordes of Parademons a guy can watch get sliced in half, bashed and vaporized before one asks: “Is this all there is to it?”

For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam, Superman and Wonder Woman find themselves together for the very first time, fighting the forces of Darkseid in a battle that will determine the fate of the earth (of course). The movie was adapted from the 2011 reboot by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee (although the animated movie replaces Aquaman with Shazam).

In short, ‘Justice League: War’ is great if you like endless strings of carnage and destruction, but less so if you expect at least a few scenes with emotional depth. Only Cyborg gets dealt a decent hand in the characterization department, and even that is rushed though as quickly as possible to get back to the front lines. While the final battle with Darkseid is impressive, the ease with which Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest dispose of Darkseid’s minions becomes tiresome after 30 minutes.

Perhaps the worst aspect of ‘Justice League: War’ is writing that directly undercuts the heroes’ complains that they’re irrationally feared by the general population. For instance, Wonder Woman acts somewhat incredulous that a group of angry protesters outside the White House are wary of super-powered beings, and then later in the movie she forces a street vendor to feed her and a child ice cream, free of charge, at sword point.

Could it be, Wonder Woman (i.e., writers at DC), that people “fear” you because of your “might makes right” mentality? Just wondering. It’s hard to root for a hero when her idea of “justice” is whatever she decides from moment to moment.

Wonder Woman Justice League War

‘Justice League: War’ also is diminished by gratuitous use of foul language. What could have easily been an animated movie for adults and kids to enjoy was squandered by the random interjection of “shit,” “ass,” “whore” and a joke about cross-dressing that seemed to serve no other purpose than to push the rating to PG-13. Does anyone ever watch a DC movie packed with action and say, “I would have given it an ‘A’ but Green Lantern didn’t swear enough for my taste,”? Of course not. Watch some old episodes of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ to see how top notch DC entertainment is done.

Batman Justice League War

Speaking of Batman, ‘War’ actually does get an ‘A’ for its treatment of him this time around. True, I was disappointed that Kevin Conroy wasn’t voicing the Dark Knight, but Jason O’Mara did a decent job. DC nailed Batman’s interactions with Green Lantern — they were quite humorous — and there is a scene between Batman and Superman that captures the dynamic between the two of them almost flawlessly.

Superman Batman Justice League

How many mortal men can hold up their hand to Supes like a traffic cop and get him to come to comply? Not many, but Batman is one of them. DC deserves kudos for writing the scene so it all transpires believably.

Wonder Woman Justice League War Darkseid

While ‘Justice League: War’ does tend to drag on at times due to the never-ending stream of Darkseid’s minions populating the earth, the final battle is rather satisfying. It truly takes the team to take down Darkseid, and each hero has their moment to shine. Nobody’s power is underutilized and nobody is treated as if they don’t belong. While all of them essentially know deep down that Superman is in a “league” of his own, they also treat each other as equals on the battlefield. In fact, it is a collection of inferiority complexes — not pride — that often threatens to derail victory. It is only when the warriors begin to feel comfortable in their own skin — and trust the hero next to them — that victory is sealed.

Check out ‘Justice League: War’ if you get a chance, but don’t go in expecting some of the weightier issues tackled by, say, ‘Batman: Under the Red Hood.’ If you do that, you probably won’t go away disappointed.

Related: Superman vs. The Elite explores the big dilemma: Christ or Patton? To kill or not to kill?

Ben Affleck to Republican Batman fans: I ‘probably’ don’t like you — but I want your money

Ben Affleck fans

In August I said that the thing that would hurt Ben Affleck the most as he attempted to become Batman was his outspoken politics: “If I were a betting man, I’d say that Mr. Affleck will continue saying and doing things in public that will make it harder for roughly half the nation to lose themselves in his version of “Batman” on opening night.”

Now, in an interview with Playboy, he proves me right.

Affleck: People now know me as a Democrat, and that will always be the case to some extent.

Playboy: Does that polarize viewers?

Affleck: It does, and you can bifurcate your audience. When I watch a guy I know is a big Republican, part of me thinks, I probably wouldn’t like this person if I met him, or we would have different opinions. That shit fogs the mind when you should be paying attention and be swept into the illusion.

Playboy: Still, won’t that happen whether you take positions on candidates or causes?

Affleck: I have misgivings about it, counterbalanced with the larger things I care about. I don’t blindly do this stuff when it makes it harder to do my own job. And there’s an awful lot of gross money-raising going on that has made me want to pull back a bit from pure electoral politics. […]

Yes Ben, if the guy you’re watching on screen is a Republican and you’re a Democrat, it’s safe to say that you’ll have “different opinions.” Your powers of deduction are not quite at Bruce Wayne’s level at the moment, but you are correct.

Here’s the part that is somewhat bizarre for the future Batman to disclose: “I probably wouldn’t like this person…”

There are a lot of things I think about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and most of Hollywood’s liberal activists, but I only tend to think “I wouldn’t like them” when they come across as elitist jerks. How someone comports themselves dictates how I feel about them as a person — a political party affiliation alone does not. Does Ben Affleck have zero Republican relatives? He must not, or he wouldn’t say such ridiculous things.

I love my fellow Americans. I want to like all of them and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard when guys like Ben Affleck and President Obama keep dividing people.

He’s what President Obama said to Univision in 2010:

“We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

Here’s what Slate’s John Cook said in his maybe-sorta-kinda piece of satire (but not) titled ‘Thanksgiving Tips: How to pick a fight with your relatives this Thanksgiving.’ It was written just in time to coincide with the White House’s push to get family members to discuss Obamacare over the holidays:

First off, you should wait until everyone’s seated at the table before you try to get things started. That way you have a captive audience that has to watch the fireworks, and everyone is settled in for a nice long time. Getting the topic of conversation to politics shouldn’t be too hard. Stick to short, sarcastic, tendentious remarks to get things going. “I’m thankful for all that free stuff Obama gave me.” Once you’ve engaged the enemy, it won’t take much effort to pivot to whatever particular subject you feel most comfortable with.

Yes, according to the president and his most ardent disciples, your fellow Americans are “enemies.” Does anyone else find it weird that the president won’t call any number of thug-nations around the globe an enemy of America, but he will refer to his political opponents as such? But I digress…

Instead of just admitting that activist actors “fog the mind” of the audience with all sorts of extraneous junk, Ben Affleck lets us all know that an ‘R’ next to your name makes him immediately think that he “probably” doesn’t like you — even though he wants your money.

Why should I cough up my money for ‘Superman vs. Batman (vs. Wonder Woman?)’ when one of the lead actors openly conveys his disgust for me as a person? Because of my love of free markets, limited government, traditional American values and a strong national defense, Ben Affleck “probably” wouldn’t like me? It’s weird.

Yes Ben, it is possible to disagree with someone without being disagreeable. I know it’s hard for someone who lives in a Hollywood bubble, where everyone thinks along the same lines and tells each other how smart they are at cocktail parties (“Pass me the gruyère, will you?”) — but in the real world some of us get along with our politically-diverse family and friends just fine.

If Zack Snyder is smart, he’ll sit down privately with Ben and tell him to shut up with the political commentary until ‘Superman vs. Batman’ comes out. There are a lot of people who aren’t thrilled with the idea of Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight, and alienating roughly half the viewing audience out the gate is probably not a good PR move.

Hat tip to douglasernstblog.com reader PersonIsPerson for the story.

Related: Ben Affleck’s outspoken politics hurt his Batman more than his box office bombs

Related: Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ hits audiences with big ideas, soars over small-minded critics

Related: Man of Steel Trailer: Harbinger of an epic film

Related: David Goyer is right: The ‘Superman doesn’t kill’ rule hurts the character

Related: ‘Soldier of Steel’ campaign: Gym Jones shows what real men are made of