TOP BATMAN MOMENTS

Batman day is here again, a chance for everyone to share their love for the dark knight detective. Comic readers, movie goers and Saturday morning cartoon watchers all have a favourite Batman memory. A moment in their eyes that solidifies him as one of the greatest characters of all time.

Punching His Ward

Batman’s long and troubled career as Gotham’s protector has been supported by a wide array of wards, allies and actual blood relations. This collection of sidekicks is the closest resemblance to friends and family Batman has. Each in their own way they define him. Perhaps the most recognisable face in Batman’s supporting crusade on crime is Dick Grayson the first Robin and then later Nightwing. He has even served time under the famous cowl himself. Dick and Bruce have a string bond, they know each others strengths and weaknesses. They know when they will have each others back. It is a trust that most of the time goes both ways… Except in this instance. In the early days of DC’s New52 Scott Snyder invented a brilliant new adversary for Batman. The Court of Owls, a secret organization who had been orchestrating events in Gotham for years. the Court use assassins called Talons to do their bidding. It is revealed a young Dick Grayson was inline to become a Talon before the events that led him to being Batman’s ward. Furious Batman has kept this from him, Dick storms into the Bat cave seeking answers. Before he can exhume any more anger Batman swiftly cold-cocks the former Robin square in the jaw. It is a shocking moment, so shocking in fact it is covered from both view points in Batman #7 and Nightwing #7. Sure they have had their differences over the years and Batman has kept secrets from Dick before. This just felt more personal because of the connection to Dick’s past, it is a huge betrayal from Bruce. Nightwing had every right to punch Bruce in the face, but of course he landed first and of course he had a reason. Like I said The Court of Owls are a great addition to Batman’s rogues gallery and Dick’s connection to them to is brilliant. I recommend reading The Court of Owls stuff and Nightwing #7-#9.

 

BVS Warehouse Scene

Remember the reaction Batman v Superman got when it was announced at comic con? The crowd was raucous when the Bat symbol appeared over Superman’s logo. Then it seemed the tide turned with every snippet of news that was released a head of the movies release. Perhaps the news met with the biggest scorn was the revelation Ben Affleck would be portraying Batman. It was little surprise when the movie did come out it was met with less than stellar reviews. Haters are gone hate, but I loved it! Affleck stole the show as the Caped Crusader. I defy any Bat fan to watch the warehouse scene and say that is not a great depiction of their hero. First of all the costume is kick ass. Earlier this year I saw it in the flesh next to past Batman movie costumes and it is the most imposing of them all. I think the shorter ears really work well and the squat Bat symbol is very Dark Knight Returns. The colour scheme is the closets to the comics we have ever had. The scene is all about the way the Bat moves. We got a sense of earlier in the movie when he hid in the shadows from the cops. Four minutes of Batman cutting loose like we have never seen on the big screen before. Director Zak Synder is at his brutal best, clearly channelling Frank Miller. Smashing through walls, utilising the utility belt, using his grappling line as an offensive weapon. The way he moves is the Batman should move. A tactical fighter and great and close combat. It could watch it all day!

Always Be Prepared

DC: The New Frontier is decades spanning story that tells the origin of the Justice League by bridging the Golden Age heroes with the Silver Age ones. The story goes from 1945 to 1963 and is really Darwyn Cooke’s love letter to the comics, movies and novels of these times. If you haven’t read it you really need to. Batman isn’t integral to the story as such but because he is such a huge part of DC’s story every time Cooke writes him it is fucking cool! Cooke draws a brilliant Kane/Finger era Batman. Later on in the book Batman updates his look and now has Robin as his sidekick. In a meeting with Superman he makes comment on the ‘new’ Bruce. To which Batman explains how he sees himself in Robin and how he set out to stop crooks not scare children. My favourite moment of Batman’s in this series though is in a meeting he has with Gotham city detective John Jones. Of course the reader knows Jones is Martian Manhunter. Batman breaks into Jones’ flat to confront him on a case they have crossed paths on. Batman believes at the end of the day he can trust Jones but that doesn’t stop him leaving without a threat. “…It took a seventy thousand dollar sliver of meteor to stop the one in Metropolis. With you. All I need is a penny for a book of matches.” Brilliant! In 2000 Mark Waid had a run on JLA . In a story called ‘Tower of Babel’ it is revealed Batman keeps files on how to take down his fellow Leaguers. This to me just feels like a really cool take on that, of course it may be coincidental. Either way it is a great case of Batman being Batman. It is often said in fandom because of his resources if he had time to prepare he could beat anyone.

BTAS Opening 

For a generation Batman The Animated Series defined the character for so many. What made the show a success was even though it was a Saturday morning cartoon it took the subject matter seriously. Sure there were tongue in cheek lighter moments but everyone who worked on it really treated it with respect. There are so many good episodes, ‘Heart of Ice’, ‘Two-Face’, ‘Over The Edge’ to name just a few. It would be unfair to pick one and praise it above any others. For the show under the art of Bruce Timm utilised an art style heavily influenced by art deco and neo noir. The best example I can give to encapsulate this visual style is the opening titles to the series. What came to be this sequence start life as the pitch Timm used to sell the idea of a dark Batman cartoon. It is available on Season 1 DVD and is titled ‘The Dark Knight’s First Night.’ You can see from watching it, that it is pretty much frame for frame what we now know as that opening sequence. It showcases everything the show would become famous for. Moody night scenery, shadows, old fashioned cars, those white eyes from the cowl and great action. all backed up by that brilliant Danny Elfman score! The crowning moment is when the overly dramatic lightning strikes and we see our hero illuminated by its light standing over Gotham. I feel I have to mention Mask Of The Phatasm which is so much better than a lot of the live action Batman movies. It has a very Year One vibe the stand out moment is when we see Bruce don the cowl for the very first time. Again it is the score that makes it stick in the memory, this time provided by Shirley Walker. We get an extreme close up of those white eyes and an imposing silhouette as he walks past a clearly shaken Alfred. The music for this scene is perfectly called ‘Birth of Batman.’

Dark Knight vs Mutant Leader

Frank Miller is often created for making Batman dark again. The Dark Knight Returns is bleak, depressing and yes dark. Real comics fans will of course tell you Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams made Batman dark. Bill Finger coined the term Dark Knight. If anything Miller’s seminal work makes Batman psychotic. I read an article recently that questions whether Batman is a valid character in todays world of heightened awareness to mental health. Miller’s Batman really pushes the boundaries of this argument. For instance the story opens with him visualising his own death and claiming it would be good enough for him. For those unfamiliar with the story it is one that depicts a retired Bat after the death of Jason Todd. A series of events including a ‘cured’ Joker reverting to type, a ‘cured’ Two-Face reverting to type and a gang of unruly youths called The Mutants holding Gotham in a grip of fear lead to the title of the series playing out. Oh yeah and he beats Superman. There are so many fuck yeah! and quotable moments in DKR it is always a joy to reread. Miller was on the top of his game here and his internal monologues for a psychotic Batman are on point. That’s why it came as such a shock that it was left out of the animated adaptation. The first time I read it I didn’t think much of an insignificant moment as shaving his moustache off as anything major. In fact it is the turning of the tide for the whole story and the fact he can’t remember doing it indicate Bruce his not of sound mind. Perhaps being the Bat is his cure not his ailment. Internal monologues a side there is one moment that stands out above all others. “You don’t get it boy. This isn’t a mudhole. It’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon.” See what I mean, psychotic. Outside of Miller Batman has never goaded a foe like this before or since. Even in Miller’s other great story Year One Batman never showed these tendencies. You have to watch the animated version to hear this line delivered by the brilliant Peter Weller.

Year One Speech

In my opinion this story has always been better than DKR. When Bob Kane and Bill Finger were doing the early Batman stories he was already an established hero. Miller crafts  brilliant story that manages to slip seamlessly into continuity not disrespecting anything that came before or after. You could argue it is a Jim Gordon story and I love the relationship between him, Batman and Harvey Dent. We even get some year one Selina Kyle and that ending teasing The Joker is pure joy. It was great to see parts of Year One in both ‘Mask of The Phantasm’ and ‘Batman Begins.’ Clearly it is an inspirational story. While it may not be as action packed as DKR, at times it is more Police procedural there are still plenty of cool moments. The abandoned apartment block scene is one. A form of it worked its way in ‘Phatasm’ and I have to confess every time I wrote Batman fan-fic I always done a homage to it. It encapsulates Batmans gray areas. Of course he is on the side of justice but he can’t be caught by the Police, I always like seeing him in these situations. The tension that builds towards the end of the story is Miller at is best. Seeing Bruce come to Gordon’s sons rescue out of costume is a trait we saw often in Christopher Nolans trilogy. Another moment Nolan used in his trilogy is the scene with the bats. Yeah you have to ignore the science and nature behind it and just go with it. ITs brilliant. There is one moment that stands above all these. A moment still referred to today and repeatedly homage. I leave you with this “Ladies. Gentlemen. You have eaten well. You have eaten Gotham’s wealth. It’s spirit. Your feast is nearly over. From this moment on. None of you are safe.”

 

 

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TOP BATMAN MOMENTS

Let The Puzzlement Fit The Crime

I decided it was time to roll back the clock and tackle a hot topic. Spoilers and the culture of spoilers have been in comic book related news a lot recently. Obviously I could come to a rather abrupt conclusion and say anyone dumb enough to read an article with even the slightest hint of it detailing an upcoming story deserves to have that story ruined for them. So I also want to talk about the bigger issue of spoilers dumbing down comic book media outlets.

Lets start with the big one. Batman #50. The wedding of the century, the culmination of Tom King’s forty nine previous issues. On the Sunday before the release of the issue The New York Times ran an article by George Gene Gustines which spoiled the outcome of the issue. Well the wedding portion at least. The final page cliff hanger was readily available to read about online after the issue was released. Gustines states he was planning to cover the wedding anyway but then found out about the twist and changed his angle. The Times did not contact DC to tell them the change would spoil the outcome for readers. The article of course was met unfavourably by fans, comic retailers and comic creators. Tom King himself took to twitter to say he was disappointed spoilers were out there so early. Gustines has since said he wishes the whole affair was handled differently. Obviously the first concern is where did his early leak come from? I wouldn’t go as far to say someone was out to ruin King’s big moment, that is something closer to fiction than I would like to believe. When you step back and take a look however aren’t any number of comic book news based websites to blame more? I mean how many of the readers of Batman and comics in general are reading The New York Times? Someone from these sites saw the story and ran it thus spoiling the ending for a wider comic book audience. Just a week previous Marvel had their big wedding issue spoilt before the issues release in totally different circumstances. I really didn’t see Marvel’s angle on the ending being released early. To me it is just disrespectful to all the creators who worked on the book, building to this moment just to have it splashed across the internet before its release. Then there is the knock on effect for retailers. I wonder how many X-Men fans thought ‘I won’t bother picking it up now the ending is ruined’? The comics industry seems pretty good at repeatedly kicking itself in the balls. They barely survived the market crash of the 90’s. Will this new era of spoiler culture lead to a downfall in readership? It would be a really stupid way for the industry to implode! Maybe the publishers need to take a harder stance on leaks and comic book media outlets as a whole. Of course they are powerless to stop the power of social media. Anyone can do a review of an issue via a blog or a YouTube channel. I myself am one of those idiots. Of course the one plus point of people from the comic reading populace doing reviews is they actually have to wait for the book to be released first. I do a monthly review of all things Wolverine and because I receive my comics via post at the end of each month most issues have been out for a number of weeks. I still feel obligated not to spoil anything. The few times I have spoilt anything I have used the popular sites as my yard stick. If its on their I know I’m not the only irresponsible source. That brings it back to people being more selective about what sites and reviews they read. A form of survival of the fittest if you will. When Infinity War was released I went absolute cold turkey from all my usual daily website visits. It seems you can not visit a comic book news website or follow them on Twitter without some kind of story about a big issue or a movie. I’ve had countless episodes of Arrow spoilt by a certain website as I am in the UK so a few weeks behind. One day they will run a story the headline is redacted so I don’t read it. But then the following day they will do a follow up piece but with an unredacted headline thus spoiling the episode. If its not a major episode or issue I will click it because its my choice. But series finales and things like Batman #50 is not cool. Going back to Batman #50 where is the responsibility of these comic book news websites? I mean when the story of the The New York Times piece came out they essentially threw Gustines under a bus. Fast forward a few days and the same websites are running headlines like ‘Batman #50 Last Page Explained!” WTF! That is just lazy journalism. It doesn’t constitute news in the slightest. Wizard Magazine took their knocks back in the day but to my recollection I can never remember having the events of a current issue explained to me in the magazine or on the website. Another website and I don’t need to name them has really dumbed down since a recent rebranding. I mean how many stories a day can they have about one movie? It drives me insane. We don’t need a whole article on a post credits scene one day! We don’t need an article on all the Easter eggs the next day! We don’t need a how this movie sets up this movie the day after that! Nine times out of ten they are wrong anyway, we all know how secretive Feige and the Marvel guys are.

In conclusion the worst case scenario is if people push this spoiler culture to far it will blow up. But it isn’t going to blow up in the face of the person that writes the article it will explode all over and the outcome could be very negative for the industry. It doesn’t matter if its comics or movies a harder line has to be taken. Like I said the bloggers and the vloggers are untouchable but the people at the top should set a standard. When you consider how much is actually going on in the industry there is real and intereting news to report! Stop spoiling shit cause it may just end up spoiling the thing we all love the most.

PS Tweet @IanWells87 me if you know how the title to this fits into the theme of Spoilers?

Let The Puzzlement Fit The Crime

Road To Infinity War DVD Marathon

 

Wow ten years! So much for a profound introduction for something that has changed the face of both movies and comics. I don’t usually go in for movie marathons. Like if a new Captain America movie is coming out I don’t have to watch the previous instalments beforehand. But come on how could I not do this one? I’ll admit I found it tough going, not because they are bad movies. But because having to do something to a schedule and make notes at the same time. If you follow me on Twitter you will know I was concerned I wasn’t going to get them all in on time once my Sunday night timetable went out the window. I was close to giving up on it entirely. But these movies have been such a big part of my life I had to write about them. I have reviewed a few of them since I started this blog but to actually sit down and go through from beginning to end was a once in a life time chance. I mean I can watch them any time but once the next phase starts what I have to say on these last ten years will be old news. As I watched the movies I made bullet points, I was going to transfer these into a big piece but as there is a lot to get through I decided just to clean up the bullet points and post them as such. There is a lot to get through so here we go.

IRON MAN

My Rank: 9

Box Office: $585.2Millions

  • Iron Man was a brave place to start. The comics weren’t a massive seller. Extremis was two years previous. Iron Man was naturally a big part of Bendis Avengers at the same time.

  • If this movie flopped I wonder how much they would’ve persisted in building the MCU?

  • AC/DC Back in Black! Golden Oldies in the MCU long before GOTG.

  • The story doesn’t waste time getting into the action and a rather faithful origin story.

  • I love the original suit as it appeared in Tales of Suspense #39.

  • Stark’s parents car crash is mentioned. Is that because its from the comics or to be a building block for Civil War this early?

  • Terrence Howard ah!

  • You can tell its pre Disney. They go big on playboy image and some light exploitation of women.

  • Shame the Ten Rings never panned out.

  • Coulson the birth of an icon. How uninitiated we were as it felt like a throwaway scene!

  • Robert Downey Jr came to define how Tony Stark was in the comics after this.

  • The movie does a good job of condensing years of comics telling the social/political debate.

  • Jeff Bridges begins the MCU tradition of two dimensional villains. Its a case of I want what you have but bigger!

  • The post credits tradition obviously started here too. Admit it no one knew where it would lead.

  • Am I right in think Bendis wrote that scene?

  • Now you get excited about the post credits scene because the next movie is already announced and often in production. After Nick Fury teases the Avengers the next movie we get is Hulk! (Again).

  • Iron Man is a rather simple but effective movie. Three clear acts, a good origin and a satisfying conclusion. What more do you need?

THE INCREDIBLE HULK

My Rank: 14

Box Office: $263.4Million

  • The forgotten building block of the MCU. Still doesn’t feel like a strong start, we had already had one Hulk flop. But then again Marvel didn’t have the X-Men or Spidey.

  • So wise putting the origin in the opening credits. But is this a sequel or a reboot? It starts in Brazil and thats where Eric Bana’s ended.

  • So glad Ed Norton got to big for his boots as Mark Ruffalo is a far superior Banner.

  • Learning to control his anger contradicts ‘I’m always angry.’

  • At first viewing I thought the blood on the bottle would go further than a Stan Lee cameo.

  • Will we ever see Liv Tyler or Tim Roth again? It took us eight years to see William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross again. Of course he was going to pass the Sokovia Accords, he’s an ass hole to his own daughter.

  • We are also left with the big hanging plot thread of The Leader being teased.

  • The Super Solider Serum is mentioned. But it feels skirted around rather than it being part of a cohesive shared universe.

  • The university campus scene is still one of the best n the entire MCU. Love it when he kicks Blonsky!

  • The blink and you miss it Spidey easter egg is just that, otherwise the whole time line is drawn into question.

  • The Stark scene isn’t brilliant seeing as it is the first time they are trying to convince us its all connected. We don’t see either character for four more years!

  • I prefer the alternate ending on the DVD. Plus it counts as continuity as it is talked about in Avengers.

IRON MAN 2

My Rank: 15

Box Office: $632.9Million

  • The release of this always felt rushed to me. Its like they say “Oh shit we gotta deliver on the Iron Man post credits. It’s too long to wait for Thor, they liked Iron Man throw another one at them!”

  • This was only the second time I’ve seen this movie.

  • The Arc Reactor is Tony Stark’s Deathstar.

  • The first time we see John Slattery as Howard Stark and really you have to question how he got to Slattery from Dominic Cooper.

  • The courtroom scene is just farcical. Like it takes away from a real world setting and gives people ammo for how comic book movies aren’t serious.

  • Justin Hammer is another wasted villain. Couldn’t been so much more closer to the comics maybe.

  • Sam Rockwell absolutely chews the scenery, add in Micky Rourke’s accent and your left thinking really Marvel this is the best you can offer as a sequel?

  • First appearance of Scarlett Johanson as Black Widow and it feels underused.

  • Her introduction scene feels awkward. Is it Stark flirting with her or RDJ?

  • At times the movie feels over self indulgent. “We done wonders with the first one now watch this.”

  • The Nick Fury meeting in a diner feels right out of The Ultimates.

  • With Fury, Black Widow and Russian villains I feel they missed a great chance to do a modern spy thriller with tech.

  • Also how it glossed over ‘Demon in a Bottle’ as getting drunk at a party is disrespectful.

  • There is the scene that has now become the Peter Parker retcon.

  • The Thor post credits scene was probably the best bit about this movie.

THOR

My Rank: 10

Box Office: $449.3Million

  • If they could sell the concept of Thor to audiences then they could pretty much do anything.

  • I really enjoyed this on its release as I had least expectations of it. Ultimates was my only exposure to Thor.

  • A new element is added to the MCU with this movie bringing other worldliness. But theres still science. Boy the MCU loves science.

  • Movie has a grand feel. With music, cast, cosmic settings all adding to the gravitas.

  • Kenneth Branagh was a good choice to direct as he took subject matter seriously.

  • Tom Hiddleston brings his A game right from the start. He doesn’t talk for five minutes at beginning its all facial expressions.

  • Natalie Portman brings more seriousness. I hope she is in Infinity War in some form.

  • More pieces of the jigsaw as Erik Selvig knows Bruce Banner and first appearance of Jasper Sitwell.

  • We get more Coulson and Clint Barton cameo. Its all starting to come together.

  • Love the scene where Thor tries to retrieve Mjolnir. Nearly brings a tear to my eye still.

  • All the cast have great chemistry. Kat Dennings has some great one liners.

  • Like Iron Man it is a rather simple story arc. “Prove your worthy, save the day.”

  • The story does go heavy on Norse mythology early on and credit to them for that.

  • Loki is only villain with long term ambition.

  • Post credits scene is huge as it sets up both Captain America and Avengers. A game changer really.

CAPTAIN AMERICA THE FIRST AVENGER

My Rank: 11

Box Office: 370.6Million

  • When you think about it this is really the first movie to deal with out and out super heroics. It is the ultimate good vs evil showdown.

  • Another perfect directing choice with Joe Johnston. This is a great period piece which pays respect to its comic origins with more outlandish elements like Red Skull and the tech.

  • The Red Skull’s hideout is a good example of this. The over the top nature of it is just perfect. The pulp vibes in the NYC scenes are brilliant.

  • Love the opening, right through the Norway scene with its Raiders of Lost Ark reference.

  • Anyone can hear Erskine’s speech and understand why Steve Rogers should be the choice for the project.

  • Its the little things that make me happy, like how they work in the original costume, shield and cover the Captain America #1.

  • Hearing the Hydra motto out loud and the first reveal of Red Skull are fan boy moments.

  • The Howling Commandos are underused and not really fleshed out. Which is a shame because there isn’t really anywhere else to use them.

  • Watching it back Sebastian Stan isn’t anything special, not like the behemoth he becomes in later movies. He really as lead man potential.

  • Another easter egg we will likely never get back to was the original Human Torch.

  • I forgot Howard Stark’s flying car would become Lola on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  • The final scene really captures the whole man out of time trope. When Chris Evans delivers that ‘I had a date’ line it is a piece of beautiful genius.

  • Who ever made the decision to make the post credits scene the trailer for Avengers should have won an Oscar!

THE AVENGERS

My Rank: 3

Box Office: $1.519Billion

  • I remember being pretty hyped going to the cinema for this. Finally the wait was over!

  • We have had some truly epic, brilliant movies in the MCU since this but it still holds up.

  • It seemed almost fitting Coulson opened the action. Along with more brilliant casting with Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill.

  • Using Loki is a nod to Avengers #1 and I was familiar with the Chitauri from Ultimates.

  • Ah the great Hawkeye shafting begins!

  • The Black Widow intro scene is precisely why we need a Black Widow solo movie.

  • I liken Coulson’s reaction to Cap to the same way comic readers feel seeing all this on the big screen. I mean seeing a Hellicarrier rise for the first time!

  • Seeing the trinity fight I still one of my highlights of the entire MCU. Its punctuated with humour and when the hammer hits the shield is icing on the cake.

  • Like wise Hulk vs Thor (round 1 as it is now) a true fanboy moment, Hulk trying to pick up Mjolnir is fun.

  • Coulson’s death has kind of lost its impact and it is a glaring why his return has never been addressed in the movies.

  • Stark’s constant prodding of Banner to ‘let the other guy out’.

  • The finale is yet to be matched in the MCU in my opinion. Yes there have been impressive scenes but as an all out action finale it is untouched.

  • The balance of giving all the heroes decent amounts of screen time right up to the iconic image of them facing down Loki is amazing.

  • Anyone notice how the end is eerily similar to Dark Knight Rises? And in a way what Stark does is brutal. In the comics they would never nuke an alien race without panels of dialogue.

  • So we waited all this time for The Avengers to assemble and then mid credits boom they hit us with something else to wait for… Thanos!

IRON MAN 3

My Rank: 17

Box Office: $1.215Billion

  • My least favourite of all the MCU movies. So much so I didn’t even bother re watching it for the marathon.

  • Shane Black is so over hyped as a director. What he went for in this movie for me didn’t fit in with either of the Iron Man films or what was happening between Avengers movies.

  • Like why does he blow up all his suits then by Age of Ultron he has created an Iron Legion?

  • It really isn’t anything like Extremis. I know none of the movies are like the comics so why bother.

  • Too much time out of the suit. Come on RDJ you know what you signed up for!

  • Surely they still could’ve done Mandarin without being terribly racist?

  • They had the chance to do the first female villain and they decided against it.

  • I hate that Pepper has to be the hero! Its not a sexist thing I just think its lazy story telling.

  • I have two positives: The finale with all the suits and the reveal of MIA being AIM.

THOR THE DARK WORLD

My Rank: 16

Box Office: $644.6Million

  • The feel of a very stereotypical fantasy movie introduction.

  • I learnt after just five minutes of viewing Loki is the highlight.

  • The Vanaheim scene is good as we get to see The Warriors 3 in their pomp.

  • Chris O’Dowd in a Marvel movie!

  • Erik Selvig has been a brilliant addition to the MCU. Surprised he has not made a more successful transfer to the comics.

  • Darcy is brilliantly funny… again.

  • Everything in this sequel feels bigger, like the sets, costumes, score plot and Asgard itself. I feel as if its not bigger and better though. Maybe for my tastes the blend between sci-fi and mythology is off.

  • The Infinity Stones are only referred to as stones and we are into Phase 2. The Aether is fluid as well.

  • Malekith is the worst MCU villain of them all.

  • The final battle has some good visuals and few gags but is all over rather quick and easy.

  • We get one of the most in depth mid credits scenes. Finally called Infinity Stones too! I guess we can assume now that cocoon isn’t Adam Warlock.

CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER

My Rank: 1

Box Office: $714.3Million

  • Still my favourite of the whole lot. A Cold War style thriller in the MCU come on!

  • Love the addition of Sam Wilson, Mackie has great chemistry with Evans. The List is a nice addition to the man of of time thing.

  • All the signs to a great movie are there early on. The barbershop quartet line, no parachute, they even made Batroc cool.

  • Makes complete sense having Black Widow as a co star. Essentially a movie version of an old Marvel Two in One.

  • We also get some much needed Nick Fury back story. Should his death of stuck?

  • The movie moves at a real pace. We go from the Fury car chase to the Cap/Winter Soldier rooftop chase. Oh and when he catches the shield!

  • With all of S.H.I.E.L.D’s resources why does Fury go to a local hospital?

  • Sitwell is an ass hole, it’s so obvious hes Hydra.

  • I spotted a continuity error: When Zola mentions Hydra orchestrating world events a newspaper with Howard Stark’s death comes on screen. But the picture of Howard is Dominic Cooper not John Slattery.

  • Project Insight reminds me of an issue of Global Frequency by Warren Ellis.

  • Did anyone else think Natasha might die during this? Particularly during chase with Winter Soldier.

  • Love the Maria Hill rescue scene. Cobie Smulders plays it so matter of fact.

  • The Winter Soldier costume is pretty bad ass.

  • Another massive post credits scene adding depth to the ever growing MCU. Strucker and ‘The Twins’!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

My Rank: 2

Box Office: $773.3Million

  • This movie really caught everyone by surprise. It ended up having mass appeal outside of comic book fans.

  • In a way it took away the after taste of the Star Wars prequels. Also I was questioning whether they needed to make Episode VII now!

  • The opening dancing scene sets the tome for the blend of action and fun to come.

  • Compared to The Avengers they are a more morally grey set of characters. They end up in jail and then break out.

  • Such a well cast movie! Glen Close in a Marvel movie!

  • I can watch Zoe Saldana in anything. She owns being green.

  • I really wanted The Collector to be the main villain.

  • Ronan gives Malekith a run for his money in the bad villain stakes.

  • In the first part of the movie it very much feels like they are taking their lead from Rocket, before clear leadership switches to Quill in the final act.

  • How do they get away with incorporating a dance off into the dramatic finale?

  • They really do function better as a team than The Avengers.

  • Post credit scenes are nothing groundbreaking but are in tone with the movie.

  • I mean Howard The Duck proves the MCU can do no wrong.

AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON

My Rank: 7

Box Office: $1.405Billion

  • I was underwelhemed when I first saw this at the cinema. But since then it has really grown on me.

  • Because we are so familiar with all the characters now the opening scene is just fun it doesn’t have to be story heavy. That slo-mo group shot!

  • The use of bad language joke is well over used.

  • The Iron Legion should have been established in Iron Man 3.

  • Why bother introducing Strucker just to kill him of screen and so early?

  • The party scene feels like it came right out of The Ultimates, especially the bit with Mjolnir.

  • The banter between Stark and Banner is fun but all the science behind Jarvis,Vision and Ultron gets a bit much.

  • We get seeds for Black Panther laid seven years before its solo flick. The path to Civil War starts here too with in team fighting. Elements of of Avengers Disassembled with the Scarlet Witch too.

  • Fury should have a small cameo like this in every movie. I do feel they gave Hawkeye way too much to do as a way of saying sorry for the first movie.

  • Sokovia is the new Tesseract. Nearly everything in Phase 2 and 3 has some link to it.

  • Once all the character stuff is done the final act just re-delivers on the first movie. Big action with it continuously cutting between the cast.

  • The end scene with the ‘New Avengers’ felt very much like an X-Men movie.

  • After we got a solid 5 minutes of Thanos in GOTG this mid credits scene really added nothing but a small laugh.

ANT-MAN

My Rank: 4

Box Office: $519.3Million

  • Like with Thor I went in with very little (pun intended) expectation. So of course I really enjoyed it!

  • I knew a little bit about Hank Pym in the comics but nothing about Scott Lang. It turned out a good way to go as Douglas is a class act. He makes all the science sound believable.

  • After all the sequels it made a fresh change to back to an origin story.

  • Love the 1989 scene with the old unfinished Triskelion. Middle aged Peggy Carter is a fox by the way.

  • Hope grew on me after multiple viewings, Darren Cross is an ass hole.

  • Love how Luiz describes the heist the Scott as ‘the perfect little job.’

  • We need a young Hank Pym solo movie. If not that then at least a longer sequence in the sequel.

  • This movie is at its strongest when it is being a heist movie, it is so much fun it doesn’t matter another Marvel villain falls flat.

  • The Sam Wilson scene is a good addition. Mackie sells it more than an other member would have.

  • Death of Ant-thony is perhaps MCU’s most tragic.

  • Avon Barksdale and Gyp Rossetti as cops!

  • The final train track sequence is the pinnacle of how fun this movie is. Its perfect.

  • Seeing Hope get the suit is pretty kick ass.

  • You feel a little cheated with the post credits scene when you see Civil War and see it again.

CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR

My Rank: 5

Box Office: $1.153Billion

  • All we wanted in Phase One was The Avengers to assemble. Now in Phase Two we wanted them to fight.

  • Kind of brave to have it as a Cap movie and not the third Avengers.

  • The only MCU movie I have seen twice at the cinema.

  • It always bugged me Caps team at the start isn’t Caps team from the end of Age of Ultron. So it makes it obvious who will side with who.

  • Crossbones gets the Baron Von Strucker award for a popular comic book villain joining the MCU just to die in act one.

  • Apparently that Stark tech might play a part in the future.

  • The trailers focused on our heroes fighting because this movies strength is in it being a continuation of the Winter Soldier story.

  • Sebastian Stan is brilliant, love to see him as Cap.

  • The most comic book movie of the MCU. What I mean is the Peggy funeral would have been like a solemn opening to an issue, Zemo’s plotting would have closed out each issue till his plan is revealed.

  • It also just dropped Black Panther and Spidey into the action without much back story. I liked it but it could have alienated more casual viewers.

  • The airport fight is everything it could and should have been.

  • Okay tiny dude is big now. He’s big now.”

  • Love the epic slow mos in the Cap, Iron Man, Bucky fight at the climax.

  • Would really like to see Zemo again. Potential to break the curse of Marvel villains.

  • Best Spider-Man on the big screen. The costume! The eyes!

  • Big Location Titles!

  • The last line of the movie is actually foreshadowing Infinity War not the Sokovia Accords when Black Panther says “Let them try.”

DOCTOR STRANGE

My Rank: 12

Box Office: $677.7Million

  • I liked this movie more than the critics did. Who cares it is essentially Iron Man with magic.

  • The opening is fantastic and it draws you in with action before settling in for all the magic explanations.

  • Maybe they made Strange too arrogant? And I’ll just gloss over the bad accent.

  • It only took them eight movies to do an origin story so faithful to the source material.

  • Some of the magical elements may seem hokey to a non comics reader. But they cover this with outstanding visuals.

  • The Ditko inspired trip is a highlight.

  • There are a lot of pentagrams for a Disney movie.

  • They found a way to do a politically correct Wong, why couldn’t they have done the same with Mandarin.

  • I like how his costume came together as the movie went on. The cloak is the most Disney element of the MCU.

  • Kaecilius had potential to be a very good villain. He actually had very different motivations to any one in MCU so far.

  • Love the fight scene in the Sanctum. After a another viewing you realise for people with magic abilities there is a lot of running!

  • Total respect for going for the ending they went with rather than a big battle.

  • Two of my favourite post credit scenes as they move things forward for two story lines.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2

My Rank: Joint 6

Box Office: $863.8Million

  • Went to this with huge levels of anticipation and it largely delivered.

  • These two movies are kind of in a pocket universe of the MCU.

  • I would have no issue with James Gunn over seeing the future of Cosmic MCU.

  • Another great musical intro. Who care Baby Groot is essentially a toy commercial.

  • It gets straight into the swing with music blaring and the Milano flying.

  • I did find Ayesha and her people a little too comedic.

  • It doubles up on everything that made the first movie a success. I don’t want to say there were too many jokes, but some jokes were in odd places.

  • The music was a little more left field this time round.

  • Who’d have thought after two movies we would all care so much for Yondu? Admit it we all cried for Yondu!

  • Even though the Guardians now have a following outside of comics there were still some deep cuts, mainly Stakar and the Adam Warlock tease.

  • Nice to see James Gunn burrowing the idea of Stan Lee being a Watcher from someone online.

  • After a tear jerker of an ending the four post credit scenes are both fun and leave you with things to look forward to.

SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING

My Rank: 13

Box Office:$880.2Million

  • I didn’t actually see this one at the cinema and didn’t rush to buy the DVD.

  • The initial trailers put me off. To me it felt like the Sam Raimi Spider-Man with Iron Man. After all the good work in Civil War it felt a step back… then I watched it and I was wrong.

  • So glad we didn’t have to sit through the whole Uncle Ben, discovering his powers story again. We had that monologue in Civil War and that was all we needed.

  • Hey Ho Lets Go! The Ramones man!

  • Its the simple things like Peter going to a deli and ordering his favourite sandwich. He is a kid from Queens after all.

  • Seeing as it didn’t have an origin story element maybe it was half hour too long.

  • Really liked Ned, he had all the best lines. It just seems really strange him being Ned Leeds the future Hob Goblin!

  • Another strange choice was the approach to MJ. I mean I liked the way Zendaya played the role. She was fun and cocky but it wasn’t MJ from the comics.

  • Good to see Happy Hogan again.

  • Did anyone ever think Damage Control would be in a Marvel movie and they are used in such a good way.

  • Jennifer Connelly as Karen. Is that foreshadowing for the future, Jocasta maybe?

  • The Miles Morales tease was so over hyped. If I didn’t read about it online it would have passed me by.

  • They certainly threw a lot into this. Two Shockers, Tinkerer, Vulture and a Scorpion tease.

  • Anything with Hannibal Buress is worth seeing.

THOR RAGNAROK

My Rank: Joint 6

Box Office: $854Million

  • Underwhelmed is perhaps too strong. But in my opinion the movie didn’t match the hype of the trailer. It was the best trailer apart from Logan.

  • May as well of called it Thor: Planet Hulk.

  • Hela greatly underused because they spent so much time on the Planet Hulk stuff.

  • The whole concept of Ragnarok seems an after thought really, just tacked on the beginning and end.

  • I could always have gone for more fights involving Fendris.

  • Big applause for all the use of the Jack Kirby inspired visuals.

  • I always think that guy behind Grandmaster in arena fight is Mister Miracle.

  • Even though I complained there is too much Planet Hulk it is the best Hulk movie we have had.

  • I didn’t care for Korg and Meek at all. They are nothing like the comic versions.

  • Just ask The Warriors 3 about faithful adaptations. They could a more extreme version of Hawkeye’s shafting!

  • We get the Led out in this movie… TWICE! ‘Your not the good of Hammers’ Brilliant moment of Thor landing on the bridge.

  • Tessa Thompson kills it. I cringed when she stumbled drunk off the ship but it was all up from there.

  • It seems to be the new thing to put the post/mid credits scene from the previous movie into the next movie.

  • What is it about two heroes fighting? This movie basically builds to that moment and slows down after.

BLACK PANTHER

My Rank: 8

Box Office: $1.318Billion

  • Absolutely deserves all the praise it received.

  • Loved the animated story at the start explaining the tribes of Wakanda.

  • I would happily watch a TV series of young T’Chaka in Oakland. It would be like The Wire meets the MCU.

  • This movie can be enjoyed without any of the other MCU movies.

  • It doesn’t hold back on Black Panther mythos, a lot of which I wasn’t familiar with.

  • At times T’Challa is a secondary character in his own movie. Thats how good Okoye and the Dora Milaje are.

  • The casino scene is very James Bond.

  • I want more, more and more M’Baku a really enjoyable character whether good or bad.

  • Klaw was crazy fun to watch he had good chemistry with Killmonger.

  • Killmonger was a villain that Marvel got right. I mean his motivations set him apart from anything we have seen in MCU so far.

  • What a find Chadwick Boseman is so charismatic. Future Avengers leader?

  • Enjoyed the back story they gave to Everett Ross.

  • The mid credits scene was the most yawny of all of them.

Who Dies In Infinity War?

Captain America and Iron Man seem the most obvious choices. Iron Man as it could bring the MCU full circle after he started it all. Cap well because he’s Cap a symbol of everything good. I don’t hear many shouts for the other member of the Avengers trinity Thor. It could happen he has wrapped a successful trilogy and has started in all the team movies. Hawkeye seems to be up there to for obvious choices, but I think its to obvious for it to happen. There are a couple if characters in my opinion walking a very tight line, they are; Gamora, Nebula, Drax and Doctor Strange. James Gunn has said the Guardians line up will be different so Gamora could pay the price for facing her father. Drax could fall short in his ultimate quest and Doctor Strange is in possession of an infinity stone. Even though Vision is too I’m not putting him in there. The stone could be removed and Vision could be a very different character after. I have heard a few claims for Loki but I don’t feel he deserves the redemption. The last big question is is the big death in Infinity War or Avengers 4? Or worse yet one in each! I think death in Infinity War with everything getting so bad for our heroes.

The waiting is nearly over and I can not wait any longer. Excited for this movie and how it leads into Avengers 4 and Phase 4.

Road To Infinity War DVD Marathon

Comics From The Month of My Birth

This is something I heard discussed on Episode four of Alpha Pod Flight with Gareth Hopkins and Ken Reynolds. Once the seed was planted in my brain to do a blog post about the comics from the month of my birth there are plenty of sites to help with dates and what not. I was originally going to just do Marvel but then I kind of what to do some compare and contrast with DC. There is a lot of list reading to follow so I guess it is better to just get into it. Oh the date in question is February 1987. I done a search to see what day that was, hoping it would be a Wednesday, sadly it was a Saturday.

Marvel Comics Feb 1987

Alien Legion #18 * Alpha Flight #43 * Amazing Spider-Man #285 * Animax #2       Avengers #276 * Captain America #326 * Classic X-Men #6 * Comet Man #1                 Conan The Barbarian #191 * DP7 #4 * Dakota North #5 * Daredevil #239                     Doctor Strange (v2) #81 * Elektra Assassin #7 * Elfquest #19 * Fantastic Four #299 Fantastic Four vs X-Men #1 * GI Joe #56 * GI Joe Order of Battle #3 *                                     GI Joe Special Missions #3 * GI Joe & Transformers #2 * Groo the Wanderer #24  Heathcliff #14 * Howard The Duck The Movie #3 * Hugga Bunch #3                       Incredible Hulk #328 * Iron Man #215 * Justice (v2) #4 * Kickers, Inc #4                         Mark Hazzard Merc #4 * Marvel Age #47 * Marvel Saga #15 * Marvel Tales (v2) #196  Moonshadow #12 * New Mutants #48 * Nightmask #4                                                           Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #123 * Popples #2 * Power Pack #28 * Psi-Force #4 Savage Sword of Conan #133 * Spider-Man/Wolverine #1                                                         Spitfire & The Troubleshooters #5 * Star Brand #5 * Star Comics Magazine #2                    Star Wars Droids #6 * Strikeforce Morituri #3 * The ‘Nam #3 * Thor #376              Thundercats #8 * Top Dog #12 * Transformers Movie #3 * Transformers Universe #3 Transformers #25 * Uncanny X-Men #214 * Web of Spider-Man #23                                 West Coast Avengers (v2) #12 * X-Factor #13

DC Comics Feb 1987

Action Comics #585 * Adventures of Superman #425 * Adventures of The Outsiders #42 All-Star Squadron #66 * Angel Love #9 * Batman #404 * Blue Beetle #9 * Booster Gold #13 Cosmic Boy #3 * Demon (v2) #2 * Detective Comics #571 * Electric Warrior #10  Firestorm (v2) #56 * Green Lantern Corps #209 * Hawkman (v2) #7 * Hex #18 * Infinity Inc #35 Justice League of America #259 * Legends #4 * Tales of Legion of Superheroes (v2) #344 Legion of Superheroes (v3) #31 * M.A.S.K (v2) #1 * New Teen Titans (v2) #28         Outsiders #16 * The Question #1 * Secret Origins (v2) #1 * Sgt Rock #414 * Star Trek #35 Superman (v2) #2 * Swamp Thing (v2) #57 * Tales of New Teen Titans #74                     Teen Titans Spotlight #7 * Vigilante #38 * Warlord #114 * Watchmen #6                        Who’s Who The Definitive Directory of The DCU #24 * Wonder Woman (v2) #1

The Analysis

The first thing that jumps out is that all the big guns are present and accounted for. Secondly Marvel put out fifty eight comics to DC’s thirty seven. You could even go as far to say DC have valued quality over quantity. Batman #404 stands out straight away as it is the first issue to Frank Miller and David Mazucchelli’s seminal ‘Year On.’ Watchmen #6 is the brilliant Rorschach backstory issue. Also I will show my lack of knowledge by saying I had no idea Sgt. Rock ran for so many issues! Over on the Marvel side of things none of the issues are really significant. No first appearances  (well Gutrot in Daredevil #239) or deaths to mention. Classic X-Men #6 which I actually own is a reprint of Uncanny X-Men #98 which was when the All New All Different X-Men first encountered the Sentinels. X-Factor #13 is a fine example of the horrible life Cyclops has, it revolves around the ‘death’ of Madelyne Pryor. Spider-Man vs Wolverine #1 came out this month. I remember  my old local comic shop was selling the complete run of this series when I first started going there for like £25. It called to me but I never pulled the trigger. The biggest take away from Marvel’s out put at the time is the perceived strength of Jim Shooter’s pet project ‘The New Universe’. Many of the books are going strong into four or five issues. Justice was on its second volume! Soon it would all come crumbling down. Another Seminal Frank Miller piece was out this month Elektra #7 this time he teamed with the brilliant Bill Sienkiewicz. This is long over due a re read on my part. There are a lot of licensed titles from both companies. Many of these titles like GI Joe, Transformers and M.A.S.K can now be found at IDW. Man I loved my M.A.S.K toys with having no knowledge of it being a comic book! Then there’s Popples, I’m convinced my sister had Popples toys growing up.

Now one title leapt out at me from Marvel. Mainly because it was a number one I had never heard of. Comet Man #1. So I done what any self respecting comic blogger would do and immediately signed into eBay and searched for Comet Man #1. The fact that thirty one years later I could by a FN/VF copy of Comet Man #1 for £2:50 tells you everything you need to know about its success. I even took to Twitter to see what comics encyclopedia Mike Zapcic for any fond memories. He replied “If you were a fan of the movie “Last American Virgin” have I got a comic for you: The Comet Man… NOW with more heartbreak.” I gotta say I read it and enjoyed it. Yes its very much of its time, it has that classic Marvel feel of a very loosely based in ‘real’ science origin. I will definitely be searching for the other five issues in £1 bins throughout the UK. Its more fun that way.

Comics From The Month of My Birth

Review: The Edge Off

Back in ‘Convention Diary Part 1’ from May 2015 I made the statement I would be looking for a indie comic to champion. Three years later I never really stuck to that. The most indie book I have read and praised on line is Southern Bastards, but Jasons Aaron and Latour don’t exactly need my help. The other day a tweet came across my timeline from Fraser Campbell looking for comic reviewers to review a preview of an upcoming Kickstarter project. Who am I to say no? Social media being used for good in the world of comics is what I am all bout. A chance to give praise to creators and recommend something new to fellow readers is a chance not to be passed up. Soon DM’s were being exchanged and I felt very professional when Fraser sent me previews and press packs. Anyway on with the review.

The story is described by the team as a surreal crime comic. A compelling opening line is the past to telling a successful story. Well one of them anyway and this story has one. It is in the same league as Stephen Kings opening to ‘The Dark Tower’ series; “The man in black fled across the desert…” Like that piece of King brilliance the same line is also the closing line. Bringing a nice symmetry to the story. The story draws you in immediately with its mysterious opening and once this initial set up is established the pace never lets up till he very end. It is easy and a joy to read. There isn’t a lot of set up like I said this allows the story to movie at a good pace. The reader learns as the main character does, right up to its thrilling conclusion. Writer Fraser Campbell and artist Iain Laurie have hit upon a left field fusion of noir crime thriller and unsettling horror. When you think of noir stories and noir comics in particular you think of the internal monologue. Campbell absolutely nails it putting it in a league with the noir giants of the comic industry. The heavy noir feel is off set by Laurie’s haunting at times jarring art work and the colour pallet give the story some serious Lovecraftian undertones. If you are a fan of art by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt you will thank me for recommending you this comic.  Campbell and Laurie are really on their game by combining the genres of story telling they are passionate about. For me it is very reminiscent of Brubaker and Philips at their peek.

In a nutshell The Edge Off is the definition of a page turner. It draws you in from the outset, keeps you guessing and most importantly entertained till the very end. It is smart, horrifying and thought provoking. The type of story you can only tell in the comics format.

The Edge Off is written by Fraser Campbell, with art by Iain Laurie. Colours are supplied by David B. Cooper and letters by Colin Bell. The twenty four page full colour one shot is available to Kickstarter backers from April. It will be officially released at this years Thought Bubble.

 

Review: The Edge Off

Fabulous Flo

With today being International Women’s day it seems important to talk about a woman who essentially helped shaped what people think of as the ‘Marvel Age’ of comics. If Stan Lee was Marvel’s public face. Flo Steinberg was very much its personal touch. She played a part and was witness to Marvel Comics going from a two person operation to a major company. It seems everyone who worked at Marvel during her tenure has a Flo story to tell. All of them positive and fun. I’m big enough to admit my previous ignorance to the importance of her role. Thanks to Sean Howe’s brilliant book ‘Marvel Comics The Untold Story’ all that changed. The amount of index points for her need an index of their own! Such is her importance to the fabric of Marvel Comics.

Perhaps the moniker ‘Gal Friday’ wouldn’t be taken the same way in todays working climate. But Flo certainly was fabulous. Any job, big or small she attacked with energy. One of her jobs was to send pages to the Comics Code for approval. Imagine having to do that at a time when the code was more strict? Receiving work back and having to tell an artist yay or nay. They could certainly do with her get up and go in the Marvel offices now. Then we wouldn’t have to wait six years between issues of Hickman and Weaver’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Its reported on more than one occasion she had to stop eager fan boys sneaking into the famed bullpen. Flo could match Stan for passion and enthusiasm. I get the impression from pieces I have read that making the bullpen this living, breathing entity was as much down to her input than anyone else’s. Her biggest contribution was in replying to fan mail and overseeing Merry Marvel Marching Society memberships in order. If you ever wrote to Marvel during Steinberg’s years of employ chances are she replied. It was a personal point of pride that all mail had to be acknowledged. On the ‘Voices of Marvel’ album sent to MMMS members she says “Hello fans its very nice to meet you. As Marvels corresponding secretary I feel I know most pf you from your letters.” Wasn’t fandom an brilliant thing back in the day? Flo really was every readers friend. Jim Mooney describes her positive effects on the Marvel offices perfectly. He once said when he visited the DC offices it was all business and a slightly stressful environment. Where as when visiting Marvel Flo made you feel relaxed and important. Everyone who visited felt the same.

Flo left Marvel in 1968 after not receiving a pay rise of just $5! People who worked at Marvel at the time say it is the stupidest decision the company ever made. Flo didn’t let this set back slow her down at all. She moved briefly to the west coast and befriended talent from the underground commix scene. On her return to New York she ran the mail-order horror magazines for Warren Publishing. This was followed up with a panel at the 1974 New York Comic Art Convention. Discussing the role of women in comics. 1075 saw Flo become a publisher in her own right with the publication of Big Apple Comix. The culmination of her new connections and lure to the underground scene. This one shot publication has huge historical significance in the link between underground commix and alternate comics. All the work for Big Apple Comix was done off her own back, with her storing inventory at Warren Publishing. 20,000 copies were printed and in 1984 Flo happily declared of her adventure “I did make my expenses and a little besides.”

Flo Steinberg wore many hats in her time with Marvel and in the independent scene. Secretary, publisher, proof reader, editor and fan correspondence. The hat that fits best though is legend. I never had the pleasure of meeting Flo Steinberg. But in a way I feel I do know her. A should anyone who has ever read a ‘Silver Age’ Marvel comic. She was as important as anyone who put words or ink to a page. Long may her legacy continue to inspire others.

 

Fabulous Flo

Question Time With Marc Bernardin

The comic book blogging gods were smiling on me the other day when a chance tweet landed me an off the cuff interview with Marc Bernardin. If you have no idea who Marc Bernardin is my first instinct would be to tell you to stop reading my blog. But really if you read it you will learn something. He is part of the reason I took up blogging about comics. He co-hosts the podcast Fatman on Batman with Kevin Smith. Listening to Marc talk both passionately and articulately about geek culture is inspiring stuff. If I could forge a career talking about the things I love then I’m doing well in life. If not at least the blog allows me to get things off my chest. Marc has had a varied writing career going from articles for Playboy and as film editor for the LA Times. His talents will next be show cased as part of the writing team on  Hulu’s Castle Rock. But it is his work in and his passion for comics that was the topic of our conversation.

On 19th of February the second arc of Genius is released in both digital and print collected editions. Genius debuted as part of Top Cows Pilot Season initiative in 2008. It is co-written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. Art was by Afua Richardson. It won the 2008 initiative. In 2014 it got a 5 issue mini series titled Siege. This was then followed by the second mini series in 2017 with the same duo on writing and Rosi Kampe stepping into art duties. Genius is the story of Destiny Ajaye. A seventeen year old girl with the greatest military mind of our generation. Need I say more?

Me: Whether people are coming to Genius for the first time or have been on since the beginning what can they expect from this and the previous volume? Are there plans for more Genius stories?

Marc: The desire for us, when telling Genius stories, is to do what speculative fiction always does: Take one element of the real world (in our case, inner city policing) and add an otherworldly element (in our case, a strategic savant). We hope that a reader will come away feeling like they saw some cool shit blow up, as well as thinking about something in a way they never had before.

Me: What decisions went into going with a female protagonist?

Marc: When Adam and I were first spooling up the idea, part of the genesis was “What will be the most surprising thing?” At the time, comics didn’t have a lot of female leads. It didn’t have a lot of black leads. Which meant a black female lead was the most surprising thing in the world. It’s that last thing that led to most publishers turning us down when we’d pitch. But not Top Cow. It was something we had never seen before, which made it all the more interesting to write.

Me: What were your thoughts when other independent publisher wouldn’t take a black female lead? After all they are supposed to be freer environments than the big.

Marc: All decisions in comics are motivated by sales. The marketplace in 2008, when we were first pitching Genius is a different one than it is today. Of course I could (and did) steadfastly maintain that there’d be an audience for Genius, but all conventional wisdom at the time wasn’t on our side. So I didn’t hold it against anyone of they were unwilling to steer into what looked to be an unwelcoming storm.

After talking about his work on Genius I wanted to get to know more about the man behind the creative talent.

Me: What is your creative process? Are you an initial notes with pen and paper guy?

Marc: My creative process usually begins with me and a blank Microsoft Word document. And I just start writing as if I’m trying to explain to someone what this new thing is about. Loose thoughts. Fragments of scenes and snatches of dialogue. If I can’t get to my laptop, I’ve always got a notebook with me for that. After a while, it starts to take shape — sometimes it’s the world that comes to me, sometimes it’s a character. After that the work is in building out the supporting framework. Who is this story about?

Me: Do you do ‘Marvel Method’ or full script?

Marc: I’ve never written Marvel style, it’s all full script. That’s mostly because for much of the comics work I’ve done, I’ve started writing before there’s an artist attached. So I want to be sure that my intent is totally clear and the only way to convey that clarity is with full script. As time goes on with a collaborator, there’s less and less detail in the script because I’ve learned what his or her strengths are and we’ve built up a level of trust. Since we’re not artists if the person who’s actually visualizing the script on the page has a better idea of how it’d work, we’re all ears. But Marvel style… I don’t know how you even do that!

Me: Where is your writing space?

Marc: I need a little white noise when I write. A movie I’ve seen a billion times playing in the background if I’m home, the din of a coffee shop or food court or a bar if I’m out in the world.

Me: How is it writing as a duo?

Marc: I write both with a partner and solo. I am by nature a collaborative person, so I enjoy the sparks that fly when two people, both invested in making a story work are firing on all cylinders. Filling in blanks, making narrative leaps, being strong where you’re weak and vice versa. But there are some projects where you can so clearly see what it is and what it should be that you just want to execute it yourself.

Our process on Genius is, we’ll get together for a bunch of sessions. Interspersed with emails and IMs to talk about the general shape of the story. Big picture to small picture: the shape of the miniseries, what happens in each issue. Then one of us will hammer that into a document. Then we’ll break down each issue into a 20 point list, each point being what happens on each page. We’ll back-and-forth that for a bit until we’re both happy, then start writing. He’ll do a few pages, send it to me. Then I’ll rewrite those pages, adding a few more on the back end. Rinse and repeat till we’re done. That way we both have been pushing forward, but we have our fingerprints on everything.

Me: What are your earliest memories of reading comics? First comic you brought?

Marc: I used to read the comics in the Sunday paper; that was my first introduction to sequential storytelling. My first comics that I read and loved were the Savage Sword of Conan comics that Marvel did. The big black and white jams. Then came Secret Wars, which cracked open the Marvel Universe for me. Which led to Spider-Man and the X-Men.

Me: Are you a collector or a reader? Single issues or trades?

Marc: I was a die hard single issue guy for a long, long time. But in my old age I’ve become a trade reader. I like the ‘slab of culture’.

Lastly there was no way with an open dialogue with Marc Bernardin and with the release of Black Panther on the horizon I had to ask for his take on its arrival.

Me: How has it felt in the build up to Black Panther finally hitting the big screen?

Marc: The Black Panther of it all has been like the warmest blanket. It’s all love and positivity, which feels like an oasis in our current climate. But like all good things it’s going to end.

I just want to take this moment to thank Marc for giving me this opportunity. It made me feel like a real comic book journalist and maybe that all my spare time submerged in geek culture has been worth it.

Marc can be found on Twitter @marcbernardin and Facebook MarcBernardinOfficial. Fatman on Batman release regularly on all the usual places for podcasts, Smodcast.com and YouTube.

Genius vol.2: Cartel is released in print and digital on February 19th. Previous issues of the first volume are again available both digitally and in print in all good comic shops.

 

 

 

Question Time With Marc Bernardin