Author: Marc Alan Fishman

Marc Alan Fishman: Nerd Rage Begone

Wonder Woman 49 Neal AdamsMaybe it’s the fact my son Bennett has finally mastered the art of pooping, or that my second son is due in less than three weeks, but I’m getting soft, my friends. To be clear, I still get migraines whenever I pull my attention towards the pending nominations of candidates from both parties. To be clear, I still shake my fist aggressively when Chicago drivers cut me off. To be clear, I still snark at things and get bent out of shape over tons of crazy Internet news. With that being said, a few of my friends on my social media feeds are seemingly raging hardcore over a litany of geek-related issues that just plain baffle me. Actually, strike that. It doesn’t baffle me so much as enrage me. I get the irony of it all, mind you. But I just can’t keep my snark in any longer over their bunched up panties.

And for the record, I don’t deny anyone the right to be snarky, angry, or anything else. I merely find these topics too silly to get an anger-boner over.

Issue 1: The Big Bang Theory

Recently this tweet elicited a resurgence of hatred over the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. If you’d like a detailed recounting of my feelings for the show, you’re welcome to do so. I penned that article in January of 2013. And here I am, basically three years later feeling absolutely no different.

For someone to feel the need to light the torches and mount the armies of nerditry in an effort to chase this windmill really must have nothing better to fret over. To mock the lowest-common-denominator joke mills that are most of the network half hour sitcoms in perpetuity is akin to scoffing at those who eat fast food. No one – and I assure you that includes the entirety of Big Bang‘s staff – actually feels like the show is somehow a Bat-Signal for nerds, geeks, and dweebs to uniformly celebrate as barrier-breaking television. It’s stupefying to believe I have more than a fair share of friends that feel a need to #nerdrage over the comings and goings of that show – in part because a few soccer moms said trivializing comments to their local comic shop owners.

A person who doesn’t know Bruce Wayne from Wayne Brady tells a store clerk he reminds them of  Sheldon Cooper is as bad as that store clerk implying the insulter shops at Lands End and drives a Buick Enclave. Both parties are in the wrong. And if you find yourself seething and foaming at the mouth because Big Bang had the audacity to make boobie joke about Saga? Go buy a tee shirt that says so from Hot Topic and blow that rage out yer’ hipster ass. Next time? Be glad Saga got mentioned to literally tens of millions of people instead of pitching a needless hissy over the sheer gal of it all.

Issue 2: Wonder Woman’s Ass and Leg Lifting Kiss

Wonder Woman #49’s Cover B Variant by Neal Adams depicts Superman and Wonder Woman embracing in a totally PG-13 kiss. Diana’s rear end is facing the camera. I assume this was done because the way the legendary Adams depicts the Amazonian Princess, had the camera angle been reversed, the entirety of the cover would be Superman’s cape, calves, and booties, with Wonder Woman’s feet in between, making a passionate kiss look more like a night at the Cosby residence.

Let me make this clear, in case the snark isn’t coming through. The cover that has caused several pals of mine to shake their fists to the heavens in womanly rage (and this includes dudes too) is a variant cover. Meaning the actual cover than the majority of comic collectors will preciously bag and board after reading cover to cover is not in fact this man-first, woman-hating, soul-destroying piece of dreck. This means that only those who covet artwork by Neal Adams, or are tender completests in the highest regard will actually need to seek the cover out from their local comic retailers to even get it.

To quantify any negative feelings over this drawing is simply a rage too far to me. Yes, Wonder Woman isn’t facing forward on her own cover of her own book. Because Neal Adams chose to draw it this way, and the editors said “cool.” Yes, Diana has her leg up as if to imply she’s not only enjoying the kiss, but she may even feign to a submissive role in Superman’s larger frame. But that’s the prerogative of Neal Adams to choose to make her that much smaller than the Big Blue Boy Scout. For the record, I’ve long held it in my mind that she was likely as tall as he was, but nowhere near as wide. But hey? Guess what? I’m not Neal Adams, and I wasn’t paid to draw the cover. A cover by any account isn’t being force fed to adolescent males with a call out balloon declaring “Superman gets what’s coming to him, baby!”

I could go on. I could hand-pick several other ragers who need to calm down – like those who need to imply that the executives of Hollywood don’t understand our culture. Or the dorkus milorkuses who feel it necessary to pass judgment on a blogger declaring Chris Hemsworth went full geek in the next Ghostbusters movie because he’s wearing a vest and horned-rimmed glasses. The list goes on and on.

Simply put, when our nerdy culture can finally take the time to accept that those not-in-the-know mean us no harm when they simplify our loves… when we can stop over-analyzing every little detail to acknowledge our hobbies are still businesses in the business of making money… when we can stop feeling the need to throw stones through the glass houses that offer us shelter?

Well, that’ll be the day I feel no rage against the nerds who need to rage.

Marc Alan Fishman: Yes. Yes. Yes!

daniel Bryan

Forgive me, friends. I need to take a break from the comic bookery in order to indulge in my guiltiest of pleasures – pro wrestling. A big to do went down this week, and it behooves me to share my thoughts, feelings, and praise. In case you want to be technical about it: the WWE had some (terrible) comics out in the late 90s. This column doesn’t have anything to do with that, but maybe that will grant me the temporary pass for the week? Yeah… that’s the ticket.

On Monday evening, Brian Danielson – known to WWE fans as Daniel Bryan – retired from professional wrestling. He is 34 years old. As he would explain it to his hometown crowd in Seattle (Brian hails from Aberdeen, WA), he’s simply no longer fit for in-ring competition. “I started wrestling when I was 18”, he began, “… and within the first few years I’d gotten five or six concussions.” Brian explained that over the course of 16 years, he’d suffered from too many concussions, ten of which are documented. After being sidelined a little under a year ago with a final scan that showed swelling and lesion on his brain… it was time to take his bow.

Over the twenty-minute promo, Brian humbly thanked the crowd and the WWE Universe for getting behind him. He used the term “grateful” a lot. He held back tears. He thanked the special kids – like Conner Michalek – who showed him what real grit is. He thanked his family and his wife. He also mentioned that he’s totally down for making a Bella baby, and giggled with glee as 10,000+ fans shouted “That’s what she said!” He ended his speech with a nod to his father, who saw Brian be cheered at so loudly that it stopped the entire live segment shortly before his passing. Brian led the crowd in one last “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant, and went to the locker room, no longer a professional wrestler.

I could regale you all with the tale of how Daniel Bryan restored my faith in the WWE product. I could wax poetic on how he proved that a solid work ethic paired with a fearless attitude helped elevate him from the undercard to main-eventing Wrestlemania in front of 70,000 fans. I could breakdown the entirety of his career for you, in an effort to show that he beat the odds in 16 years far better than the immortal (and racist) Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin. But others well versed in the Internet Wrestling Community have already done this. If you care, I implore you to seek it out. I, as always, am choosing to digress.

Brian Danielson’s retirement brought streams of tears to my face. Here is a man, only eight months my senior, being forced out of the thing that defined his life up until this point. And make no bones about it: he will never wrestle again. For better or worse, stopping now means he has the time to find new passions and new meanings. I’m sure becoming a father may be one of them. He’s also an eco-friendly Earth-hugger… which means he may be saving the planet instead of putting it into a LaBelle Lock or delivering a Shining Wizard to it. And maybe, if he’s willing, perhaps Brian would return to the WWE to train the next generations of superstars. But as the aforementioned Texas Rattlesnake would declare… it takes a long while to get professional wrestling out of one’s system.

More than anything else, Brian Danielson (and his alter ego) was able to make me remember why I loved professional wrestling in the first place. His passion leaked from every pore. When the crowd would shout his name in cheers so loud that he couldn’t finish a sentence… the creeping grin that couldn’t escape his face showed a performer who was clearly in the game to play it, not just to pay the bills. In the ring itself, Danielson could do it all. He put his body on the line in every match, knowing that being a head shorter and 30 pounds less than nearly any opponent left the burden on him to convince fans he was worthy of wins. He proved to me that anything is possible if you put enough effort into it. Call that cheesy if you must, because I agree with you. But it doesn’t take away the truth: Daniel Bryan made me a believer.

I’ve no snark, nor witty way to end this week. I only want to take my little corner of the internet to post loudly to Brian Danielson:

Thank you. Yes. Yes. YES!

Marc Alan Fishman: So There IS a Spotify of Comics!

Comic Blitz

I love it when I’m wrong. I love to be put in my place. Tough love, kiddos, is often the best kind of love. So, just a few weeks ago I shouted at the heavens “Why isn’t there a Spotify of comic books yet, damnit?!” And with that, I figured the universe would laugh at me and that would be that. But nay, dear reader! Not even a day had passed with my posting before I was politely pinged by the founder of a newly minted app by the name of Comic Blitz. And thus I’m here to redact my previous cursing of the heavens – to a point.

Comic Blitz is as I’d demanded; an app that collects a multitude of publishers’ work and offers the entirely of their expanding catalog to the public for a small monthly fee. At the time I cracked open my secret iPad (the one my wife and son don’t know about, so they can’t ask for it, bwa ha ha) and registered for the service, it was a mere $9.99 for a month. I should note you actually get your first month free, so, really… it’s a damn fine deal.

Upon cracking open the app for the first time, I was quick to bypass the splash screen – which owes a UI nod to Netflix – to peruse the list of publishers on board. While I didn’t see the big two and a half… I did see plenty of recognizably awesome names: Action Lab, Dynamite, Valiant, and Paper Films to name a few. A swipe back from Publishers over to the all-inclusive Titles section waylaid me with enough options that I immediately regressed back to the publishers to quell the visual cacophony. This is the future of comics I was hoping for.

Because just as I’d anticipated, with a literal library at my fingertips – devoid of individual issue pricing – came a hunger as big as Galactus to consume as much of it as I could. Within a few taps, and five minutes, I’d downloaded and filled a virtual bookshelf with titles I’ve passed dozens of time. But now, with Molly Danger, The Boys, and Accelerators downloaded, I’m one bathroom break away from numbing my ass to the sound of swiping, as the digital pages flutter by.

Even more important than getting to those titles I’ve eyed for a while though, are the titles I’m now inclined to check out that I’ve never even heard of. A quick tap into Paper Films introduced me to Monolith. Tap, tap, tap, and the book is pitched to me in a single paragraph. And with literally no barrier to entry (assuming rightly that I’d paid for the month already), I’m downloading it in between writing paragraphs of this week’s column. I’m also downloading a handful of titles from small press publishers I’ve never even heard of: Alpha Gods by Markosia from the UK, The Deadbeat from Alterna Comics, and Bodie Troll from Red 5 Comics.

What Comic Blitz is offering is everything I’d hoped for, minus of course DC, Marvel, Image, and Boom!. But being only several months old leads me to believe that this is merely the tip of the pulpy iceberg. We should be realistic though. The big bad boys of comic books are no different than premium content creators akin to HBO, or the WWE – top of the mountain in their respective ecosystems. Comic Blitz is an even playing field. It’s safe to assume even if Blitz becomes ubiquitous in their saturation of the market… that DC is more likely to HBOGO their way into subscription services. But a boy can still dream. And maybe even shout at the heavens. But I digress.

To be honest, I’m rooting for Comic Blitz’s success to spite the bigger publishers. As the New52 did its job of making me swear off current comics, it’s an app and service like Blitz that’s going to drag me back in. This time around however, I’m apt to read those titles on the fringe of the industry (and let’s be clear: Action Labs and Dynamite and Valiant are whales in comparison to the guppies like Unshaven Comics) instead of defaulting back to Green Lantern or Iron Man. And that’s actually a great thing. Just as I’ve expanded my consumption of music, television, and movies… Comic Blitz has opened Odin’s trophy room, and let me finally explore treasures I’d otherwise leave caked in digital dust.

The future is now, and my words make ideas material. I’d like my monkey man now, Rao.

Marc Alan Fishman: Firestorm? More like Fire Storm!

Firestorm

Just as my ComicMix cohort, the Legend of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow Denny O’Neil, I have jumped gently back into the TV fracas again with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Denny was quick to note in the macro that the show harkens to a very base pulp root – that of myth of the voyage. But my gaze is far more acutely focused on but a single moment from the first episode of the CW’s titular team up.

Shortly after The Doctor – um, I mean Rip Hunter – has pitched woo to each of his would-be Legends, we’re treated to the monotony of joining each member as they pack up their lives to go adventuring. With seemingly everyone on board, we assume smooth sailing… until we reach the immaculate home of Professor Martin Stein. There, amidst his country bumpkin bric-a-brac, Stein and his young ward (Jax Jackson, because all other actual comic-approved merger-buddies are not living…) minced mean words. You see Mr. Jackson, with his youth and a future in tact, wasn’t as elated to traipse across time and space with a band of would-be time cops. Stein frankly couldn’t care less.

And that my friends, is where the show jumped the King Shark.

The known pacifist who was shown previously to prioritize his love of his wife above all else felt it OK to drug his would-be co-hero and drag his sleepy ass onto the ersatz-Tardis because he wanted to. This of course led to Jax waking up, getting angry, eventually getting into plot-driven danger, and ultimately seeing Stein’s way of thinking. It helps that he’s only as smart as the story requires him to be. So a little metaphorical football teamwork was all it took for Jax to forgive and forget. The show of course is in its infancy and perhaps I’m being needlessly picky. But I digress, you see. Being needlessly picky is sort of my super power.

Up until this point, I’ve kept a keen eye on Firestorm in the the DC-CW-TV-U. Amidst all the typical TV dramady tropes revolving around love, revenge, justice, love, romance, kissing, punching, and love, Firestorm has been a calming presence once his origin was ironed out. Stein is as he was in the comics – level-headed, intelligent, and wiser then his would-be counterparts. It’s really the whole hook of the character when you think on it. By pairing the super scientist with jocks and jackanapes the character becomes an inner-monologue of arguments while all the action happens on panel. And as we catch up with Firestorm on Legends of Tomorrow, it’s as close to a comic book scene that reintroduces us to the pair: Jax pilots the body, hurling fireballs at the assailants, while Stein barks orders to refrain from igniting any of the precariously placed chemical receptors around the crime scene. When the criminals are captured, and Firestorm de-Firestorms, Stein and Jackson bicker boisterously as they should.

This brings me back to that pivotal moment when Stein chooses to drug his partner instead of discuss his position. As written, acted, and presented in the episode we’re meant to giggle at the folly of it all. Stein is playing against type to become the impulsive member of the Firestorm Matrix. And to a point, I get it. As a professor and an intellect, the opportunity to travel through time is impossibly tempting. Clearly. But in the year or two that Martin Stein has been one half of a living nuclear reactor it’s hard to believe that he’s not already knee-deep in other research and development revolving around his powers. I mean, as depicted on the show, Firestorm is capable only of flying and fireballing things. To not get us to the transmutation of matter would be a true disservice to the character. Powers aside though, it’s the missing of a man’s soul that troubles me more.

After Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein officially were able to inhabit their own bodies after their season-long amnesia-riddled origin, Stein offered up what I’d considered to be one of the most realistic lines ever uttered on The Flash:

If living the last fourteen months as a conjoined meta-human has taught me anything, is that my life’s work should have been being the best husband I could to my wife.

After all the CGI explosions, quick-cut exposition, and angst-riddled yelling that came with the end of the arc, the older, wiser Martin Stein yearned to be a better husband to the wife who had thought him gone. And here, without a millisecond of thought (seemingly), Stein chooses to abandon his wife, drug a twenty-year old, and go on a Rip-roaring adventure. Professor Martin Stein, suma cum boner.

I can’t wait for Victor Garber to utter the phrase “Now let’s haul ass to Hullabalooza, nerds!”

Marc Alan Fishman: Where’s the Spotify of Comic Books?

teeny simpsons

Go check your phone or computer for the date. Did yours denote the year 2016? Mine did. In the immortal words of my muse, Bartholomew Simpson… “God-schmod, I want my monkey man!”

Now Bart was referencing a future in which humanity would have half-man/half-monkey hybrids as pets. While I too would love such an abomination on the open market, I come today in search of another future technology that seemingly should exist, but for whatever reason… isn’t. I come in search of a universally accepted streaming comic book service.

To date, I believe the most ubiquitous platform for digital comic book consumption is comixOlogy. They, like iTunes, offer an exhaustive catalog of periodicals of the pulpy nature. You find the ones you want, you purchase them, and you’re treated to enjoying them in a proprietary reader. Your digital library is always available to you, and can be read on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones alike. It’s not a bad system. But then again… it is.

I have never read Chris Claremont’s X-Men. Nor Peter David’s Hulk. I have not glimpsed at a single panel of Denny O’Neil’s Green Lantern / Green Arrow. In all instances, it’s not that there isn’t desire. It’s that I know to enjoy those tomes, I would need to sacrifice the purchase of modern books. And somehow the threat of missing what’s going on now always trumps the desire to read something that I know I’ll love. It’s the reason it took me two years after the end of Breaking Bad to actually watch the pilot. It’s the same reason I waited 33 years to begrudgingly watch Doctor Who.

In all other major media, there is a shift occurring. Because digital media needs only storage to remain viable to the consumer, the rise of subscription services are creating new audiences by burying them in an unending pile of content. Content accessible without restriction – save only for an affordable monthly fee. With Netflix, I can access an astoundingly large library of TV and movies for a tenth of what I’d spend on cable service. For less that I’d spend on a single CD, I can access Spotify and with it more music than I could ever hope to listen to in a lifetime. It seems a shame that somehow amidst all these successful services, we’ve yet to see comics do the same.

What’s holding them back? Perhaps the complicated legality of it all. Figuring out royalties for an individual item can’t be easy. Hell, don’t we all remember when TayTay Swift threw a (still ongoing) hissy about her music?  You see, Spotify and the like pay on a complicated system of plays, royalty percentages, and the actual number of paying subscribers. That way, artists may be inclined to pimp their streaming albums as means to the end. What it equates to is an average of $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream. Music though, is often a repeated enjoyment. Comics, not so much.

Take my music consumption habits for example: I make a few playlists of things I like to jam out to. One list (“Guilty Pleasures”) exists as a bank where songs check in and check out until I’m sick of them. I’ll play this list of 20-30 songs almost 4-5 times in a given week. Each song stays in my playlist for about two months or so. Anyone doing the soft math would eventually realize that in those plays, I don’t even come close to paying even the $0.99 it’d cost to purchase the song outright on iTunes. But, the artists still let ride. Why?

I’d like to think for the same reason I’d be more than happy to see my own indie titles in a subscription service where I was paid pennies for downloads. Because I know at the end of the day, content purchase is only one revenue stream. I purchase tangible CDs and graphic novels from musicians and artists I love via their crowdfunding campaigns. I purchase tickets to concerts. And I socially share things I like to those who I think might like it too. This leads to secondary and tertiary means by which the content creators I love ultimately see success. When it comes to comics, sure, we might enjoy accessing a large library of readables digitally. But we’ll also attend comic-cons where we’ll tempted to enjoy the collectible side of our favorite medium. That means the same book now potentially raises revenue multiple times. I’d consider that a win in my book.

At the end of the day, let’s be honest: It’s Marvel and DC’s passive-aggressive war with one another that will prevent a service such as I desire. They’ll continue to keep a stranglehold on their licensable properties and await the sales to spike when the next movie or TV show debuts. They’ll await the demise of the original creators still drawing a royalty on their creations.

And off to the side, great publishers like Image, Boom! and the like will push the boundaries of the medium, and enjoy their continued rising success in the direct market – small as it may be in terms of bottom line profits. Strange then to think that if the music industry could find a reasonable solution, that pulp and paper will continue to keep their heads in the sand.

Where Is Marc?

GI JoeMarc’s not here.

When last seen, Marc was slinking around an abandoned shopping mall in Matteson, Illinois wearing nothing more than a vest, a do-rag, a bandolier, the lower half of a wet suit and swim fins, carrying a Kalashnikov automatic with several cartridges. On his way through the empty corridors, Marc copped a pair of mirrored sunglasses left behind by one of the mall’s last customers.

Marc was heard mumbling “I’ll get that Waldo, or my name ain’t Marc Alan Fishman,” knowing full-well that his real name is not Marc Alan Fishman.

ComicMix will be launching a crowdfunder right after Marc’s bail has been set.

Marc Alan Fishman: Iron Batman v. Super Captain America

superman-ironman

In the not too distant future we’ll be privy to both Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Overly Long Titles and Captain America: Civility and Zombies. Seemingly, both will deal with complimentary issues pertaining to the culpability of collateral damage surrounding the super-inhabited world. In lesser terms, it’s pretty clear when you level a city (or level half of one, and almost use another as a projectile) someone has to pay. And no, I don’t mean asking Tony or Bruce-Bruce for a spare billion to cover the insurance.

At the core of both movies – and yes, I’m speculating – we’re dealing with the balance of proactive protection versus reactive process improvement. Regulating and regularly checking the populace for gifts is certainly one way to do it. It’s no different, one might postulate, than registering a weapon they own. Iron Man’s stance, as is Mr. Wayne’s, is cemented in fear of the unknown. How are we to protect the ones we love when the man down the street could be a psychopath with a gun or just Mr. Psycho? Forcing the population to divulge their hidden talents by way of polite force might be one way to hedge your bets. Because you don’t know when someone might grow up to be Speedball.

That being said, does creating such a registry or law become a civil liberty issue? In the comics, it’s the basis for Cap’s catharsis. Cry freedom, Mr. Rogers. And to Superman’s point: holding him in check when there’s literally nothing on Earth that can do that is just a waste of resources. The best you can do is trust that Big Blue will keep us safe. Being proactive effectively allows for the proliferation of some unforeseeable doomsday device built to destroy a hero gone wild. And if you build it? Well, it’s inviting someone to fire it – whether Kal-El is cuckoo or not. Better, I suppose, if you make plans to build it after the first building accidentally collapses due to super-fighting? I guess I’m unsure.

The topic is very real when we live in a nation that needs an executive order to help suppress out-of-control gun violence. Could you imagine the field day Fox News would have if New York was actually attacked by invading aliens? I can here the subsequent call of candidate Donald Trump to first “build a wall between dimensions… and make the Chitauri pay for it.” and then “…ban all super powered people from being in our country until we figure it all out”. If not Trump, perhaps a war mongering Chris “The Blob” Christy, Ted “Bomb Them Till They Glow Like Dr. Light” Cruz, or Dr. Ben “Sleepwalker” Carson would chime in with a retort that the destruction of Metropolis occurred not because newly freed political prisoners from the Phantom Zone were exacting revenge for their lost world… but because President Obama didn’t allow the NSA access to General Zod’s Facebook. But I digress.

The truth of the matter is that there’s no right answer. Batman and Iron Man have every right to want to be as informed as possible about the dangers of the world. They are tinkerers and toy-makers of the highest degree. A problem is built to be dismantled, and put back together better; be it your shrapnel-filled heart, or the world at large. So too though is Captain America and Superman’s right to say that our country was built on the ideology of freedom. That a man is innocent until proven guilty. For as much damage that befell Sokovia or Metropolis, there is no blame to be had towards those who tried to protect it. Ultron and Zod pulled the triggers. The heroes merely jumped in the line of fire. They couldn’t help the falling debris. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Wait, that was Star Trek!

So, whose side will you be on? For me, I’ll be on the side of being entertained. Because my bleeding liberal heart in the real world still longs for the day Scarlet Witch whispers “No more guns.”

Marc Alan Fishman: No Star Wars for Old Men

Star Wars

I know, I know, I know. Two Star Wars articles from ole’ Fish in the same number of weeks. He must be off his meds! Well, I was perfectly content to drone on this week about Jessica Jones, or really phone in my column with some generic platitudes of geekery for the new year ya’ll are celebrating here on this, the second day of 2016. But nay, I must dust off my hatespew bomber jacket and launch a complete snark to nerd strike like I haven’t had to do in the longest of times. Strap in – this is gonna be one Sith of a ride.

George Lucas came out to Charlie Rose’s Hulu series to declare that Disney – the “…white slavers that takes these things” – has shat the bed on his magnum opus, Star Wars. Yes, you read that clearly, Maz Kanata. Lucas believes that J.J. Abrams and Mickey are guilty of warping the intended vision of franchise with their “retro movie”. Per Georgie:

“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans’… They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway.”

Let’s make it clear before I take my gloves off – Lucas is at peace with the sale of Star Wars. Per the interview (and others both at the original sale of the franchise and multiple since) he proclaimed his desire to move on. All he wanted to do then with Rose… was take a teeny tiny shit in the corner of the room before he left the house for good. Note that he has since redacted the “white slavers” phrase, so no hard feelings, right?

Well, maybe there weren’t any before. But now, I’m seeing red as well as Kylo Ren does in his daydreams.

It’s clear from the interview that Lucas is still very much in love with Episodes I, II, and III. His desire is still to stretch the boundaries of CGI in film. To explore new planets, new ships, and new aliens. This far surpasses any desire for good story, good performance, or good filmmaking. In his mind – per the childish retort – Abrams’ film is somehow pastiche or homage at best. That by starting from the perspective that the fans should be catered to, Episode VII is somehow a lesser product.

Of course, George Lucas is entitled to his opinion. Rare that I’d dare say this without jest behind it, but truly, his opinion is just wrong.

Beyond the overly syrupy glorification that was my column last week, I’m fairly certain most everyone has left the theater renewed in their love for that galaxy far, far away. And with a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so too, would the critics agree. It also doesn’t hurt that at the time of writing this article, the flick has grossed $1,200,000,000 – not counting any of the tie-in merchandising and futures to come. Are we all just blind? No, we’re not.

What grinds my gears to a screeching halt is the “have your cake and eat it too” attitude being presented. George Lucas walked away with four billion galactic credits with the sale of his epic franchise. And with it, should have gone his right to say anything short of a wookie moan of utter pleasure. Episode I, II, and III were a cacophony of wooden acting over thin plotting with a greasy sheen of CGI gloss so thick the 2-D prints came with a Z-axis. That here, in the wake of near global cheer over the apology that was The Force Awakens, we learn that deep down, George had his fingers crossed the whole time. Not that it matters. I think one of the better parts of this interview dropping has been my Facebook feed choked with support for the new film – and the expansion of the Star Wars brand now firmly in the hands of artisans who will bring back the spirit of collaboration that made the original trilogy the success it was in the first place.

This leads me down the path towards the bigger question of creator rights. Simply put: how well can we truly part with our creations? In the face of a big fat paycheck, can we look the other way as our brainchildren become the pawns of a new master? And regardless of whether our intellectual property is handled well, or becomes 2015’s Fantastic Four, are we allowed to publicly offer a cold shoulder and a smirk? If the blaster were held to my temple, I’d quickly say no. The check cleared, and with it any right to be involved in the conversation any longer. Especially if with that deal came the feeling that there were no “keen” feelings to share with one another once the ink was dry.

George Lucas now is akin to Anakin Skywalker. He is too worried about his own ego and power – sounding less like a Jedi master, and more like an immature child complaining about the feeling of sand in his shorts.

Marc Alan Fishman: Thank You, Star Wars

Force Awakens

I’m not writing a lot this week, and what I am writing may be slightly spoiler-ish. So, if by chance you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet and you intend to, read my title, nod ever so slightly, and come back next week. For the whole lot of you otherwise… ahem.

Thank you, Star Wars.

Thank you for taking nearly everything great about A New Hope and using it to create something both post-modern and inherently original in its own right.

Thank you for giving us villains who act as villains; not in service to pure chaos alone, but to greed, hatred, and layers of inner conflict.

Thank you for giving us heroes who earn their heroism; not in service to the plot, but in service to their (and our) conscience.

Thank you for committing to the use of practical effects as much as possible. You gave the franchise the dirt under the fingernails I’d assumed we lost with the old VHS tapes.

Thank you for lightsaber fights that felt real. No kung-fu wire acts. No bushido stoicism. Just people wailing on each other with laser swords. That hurt. A lot.

Thank you for that one counter-lightsaber Storm Trooper. And actually, thank you for showing that they can in fact shoot things and hit them.

Thank you for making only one CGI alien feel like a terrible ethnic stereotype. Seriously: I expected way more, so, just the one was barely noticeable at all.

Thank you for introducing us to new characters living in a universe still populated by the old ones. Thank you for hinting at their connection to one another without feeling the need to hit us over the heads with it.

Thank you for making General Hux a capable leader who could stand next to Kylo Ren and not feel like a set dressing.

Thank you for making BB-8 adorable… and for knowing when to turn it off. Cute has a line, and you took us right to the edge.

Thank you to the First Order’s weapon architect… who really dug into his personal aesthetic.

Thank you for Finn’s wit, charm, and innocence. Thank you for Rey’s vulnerability, immense skill, and curiosity. Thank you for making Poe… Hal Jordan.

Thank you for helping your original creator learn to let go, when he finally found the artisans capable of bridging the gap from what was once great to what is great again.

And lastly…

Thank you, Star Wars, for reminding me why I really did love your universe when I was 12. And while I will never (ever) forgive you for Episode I, II, and III… I can now look beyond it. I can look up at the sky again…

And wonder again… with pure appreciation.

Marc Alan Fishman: Our Legion Of Doom

Legion of Doom

Let’s just get this out of the way, kiddos. I know ComicMix is a site built on the back of the abundance of comic book geek culture that is out there to cover and pontificate on. But I imagine all of you reading my column this week are likely nursing a hangover from catching Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the eighth time.

I tend to write my articles a few days before we post it up here on ComicMix. It just so happened on the evening I was penning this article, I put the Republican presidential debate on my second screen. I wanted to write about Batman, or Deadpool, or something heroic. Instead, I find myself with villains on the brain.

Make no mistake: I’m as left as left can go. In college – prior to watching The West Wing – I was more or less a moderate. I thought waging war on people half a planet away was a great idea; it clearly keeps the killing away from us. And I thought big government and tons of taxes meant less money in my pocket, and drug addicts getting to prance around with my tax dollars. And then 9/11 happened. And I found The West Wing. And I started paying a bit more attention to the world around me. Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda, and poof! I’m rainbow-flag-waving, democratic-socialist-loving, left-hearted-softy. But I digress.

Watching the debate between the Republicans on Tuesday evening felt like spying on the Legion of Doom holding their annual holiday bash – as moderated by an old, bearded Jimmy Olson. Everyone was given free reign to voice their mutually exclusive opinions, loudly, while an audience of well wishers hooped and hollered at the end of every verbal stanza. But with these words tic-tic-tacking on my left screen, and the infernal musings from the best the GOP had to offer in my periphery… I find myself staring at the space between my monitors “Wait, no, seriously? People are applauding this?”

Take for starters, the wave of opinions on global threats like ISIS. I heard things like “carpet bomb them until the sand glows in the dark”, “arm like-minded people over there to fight this on the ground”, and “we just have to do what we did the last time we were there!”. Really? The term “bad guy” was bandied about with as much frequency as “kryptonite” might at a Legion kegger. When asked direct questions about their chosen methodology and tactics? We got exactly what we’d get from Solomon Grundy or the Riddler: either odd non-sequiturs or feckless verbal gymnastics.

When the Legion, err, candidates (I guess?) weren’t pandering to the crowd of blood-thirsty gun-toters (I assume, as all liberals do), they were arguing amongst themselves. We were treated to Toyman and Black Manta sniping at one another over who would be allowed into Keystone City (in short: no one). Bizarro and Captain Cold spent time calling one another “chaotic” and “weak”. And all the while… Giganta prattled on how she was a woman, and Grodd demanded people remember he was a lawyer, and around September 11th. Funnier still then, that the silly ape forgot the time he hugged the Flash after Hurricane Sandy. I bet that pissed off the Weather Wizard something fierce.

By the end of the evening I was angry and exhausted. It was only in the wake of the in-fighting, hate-mongering, and Blitzer-bashing that a voice of reason flew in from the Internet. You know the Internet, right? It’s that thing you can turn on and off on a whim, because… America. Or science. Or something. Anyways. The voice was clear, humble, and weathered. “…not one word about income inequality, climate change, student debt, or racial justice. Not one serious idea to defeat ISIS — just chest-thumping.”

But what was this Supermench really hoping for? And to be fair: they did title it the “Foreign Policy Debate”, so not mentioning the problems at home isn’t that big a surprise. But, I get the deeper point: it’s not enough to spend 2 hours with 9 people who all basically agree that the Justice League can’t stop the bad guys, and it’s time to get busy snooping and killing, or get busy crying and dying. Like we do.

It seemed to me that last night, those who are desperate to lead us cared more about violence in the name of freedom, boldly telling lie after lie, and spewing fearspeak… then they cared about using insight and wisdom to suggest solutions to the problems we’re all facing.

Then again… care is a concept not held highly by super-villains.