Tagged: Bruce Wayne

Michael Davis: The Avengers … Or The Anatomy Of The Bitch Slap.

Mickey Mouse just bitch slapped Scooby Doo. Donald Duck just put his foot up Shaggy’s butt. Goofy just cold cocked Velma.

Disney just kicked Warner Bros’ ass.

Marvel just told DC “fuck the New 52!”

This all happened the moment The Avengers movie opened.

The Avengers is the best superhero movie ever made.


Yes, this is just my opinion but consider this: I’ve had my problems with DC Comics but I’m a huge fan of the DC universe. I’ve always considered Superman The Movie the best superhero movie ever. I thought that because Superman works on so many different levels and it still holds up decades later. Superman The Movie is over 30 years old and it still works. It was made without the crazy shit that exists now in special effects and it still works.

In the movie, that mofo caught a helicopter in 1979 without CGI, without Industrial, Light and Magic, and it still works.

You get that? That mofo (Superman to those unhip out there) caught a helicopter without the 2012 computer magic that exists today and I was all in!

What does that mean really? It means a good superhero movie is not just about guys or girls in tights who fly and have lots of fights throughout the film.

Superman The Movie remade the character but kept the original story intact. The story was the story of Superman that everyone knew before they went into the theater to see it, yet it was also new. That’s hard to do.

I’ll say that again. That’s hard to do.

Don’t think so? Did you see The Punisher movie when the Punisher was not even in his costume? Did you see the Captain America movie when Cap walked from the North Pole? Those were horrible movies to be sure but Hollywood gets it right sometimes and still screws some of the comic book mythos for no reason. That’s no reason except some guy in the room with juice gives a “note” that he thinks is a good idea and the other monkeys in the room agree.

For instance, take what I consider a great superhero movie, Batman. That’s the 1989 version – but yes I still love the 1966 version! For some reason known only to whothefuckever came up with it they made the Joker the killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents.

I bet if the same guy worked on Superman he would have said, I have an idea! Let’s make Superman from Compton instead of Krypton!”

Hollywood seems to think they know better than the people and the industry that created the property and that’s why doing a superhero film that respects the source material is so hard.

Just ask Alan Moore.

I’m lucky enough (or badass enough if you happen to be a pretty girl impressed by this type of bullshit) to work in Hollywood. If some studio wanted to make a movie out of one of my creations I would most likely let them do what they want even if they disagreed with my vision of my creation.


Because what I do is not art, it’s entertainment.

So as a writer who has three books coming out between late 2012 and mid-2013 (if the Earth is still here) I can say without hesitation: Hollywood, take my work and make it a movie. If you want my input, great! If not, then write me a big check and spell my name right in the credits.

As a writer I have to be smart about the way the business of entertainment works. I have to play the game. That said, I will not roll over like a little bitch if you want do something so stupid like making Static Shock a white kid (that was a suggestion by a studio executive) or you tell me some dumb 1950s shit like black superheroes don’t sell. Yeah, that happened as well.

So I will bend but I won’t break when confronted with real world scenarios when it comes to being a writer.

But as a fan? As a fan I won’t stand for any shit that does not fit my view of what a great superhero movie is and first and foremost is respect the source material!

The Avengers movie not only sticks to the comics, it adds to the brand.

Not easy to do.

Marvel Studios and Disney produced a superhero movie that rabid geek fan boys can take a girl and even if that girl hates all things geek she will love this movie.

Result? Possible tapping of some ass.

I’m watching The Avengers in 3-D. Live action IMAX 3-D. The Avengers!!! I’m watching the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Black Widow and Hawkeye and they are the characters I know and love. This is what I want as a fan-this is what all comic book fans wants from their superhero movies.

That’s why, for my money, this is the best superhero movie ever done.

Warner Bros. can’t even get the goddamn Justice League movie made.

That’s why Tony Stark just made Bruce Wayne his bitch.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten Gets The Scent!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Gets Nancy, Good!


Marc Alan Fishman: Avengers Vs. Dark Knight Rises – The Battle for the Multiplex

This past week on my podcast (which you’re not listening to, but totally should), a debate sparked that was left largely unresolved. Since I have this digital soapbox, might as well use it to bring said debate to you.

In a few weeks, the mega-multiplexes of America will be screening the culmination of years of work by the House funded by the Mouse. The Avengers will see the fruition of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger in one massively multiplayer action adventure flick. About a month or so later, Warner Bros. unleashes the end to Christopher Nolan’s bat-child, The Dark Knight Rises. There’s no doubt in my mind that both of these movies will be amazingly profitable. But the debate is this: which will bank more bucks? Which will be a better movie? Let’s look at the tail of the tape.

First up? Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes. Behind the scenes, we have the consummate king of the nerds… Joss Whedon as director. His writer team? Well… Whedon wrote with Zak Penn. Penn you’ll note wrote the successes such as The Incredible Hulk and X2, and the failures such as X-Men: The Last Stand and Electra. On the screen itself, the cast is of course a veritable galaxy of stars. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scartlet Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow will all be in the film. Unlike any other franchise in history, The Avengers will coalesce four franchises into a single picture. From here? It’s all but a given that the there will be a sequel, as corresponding sub-sequels for all the individual characters. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of money growing on trees. Trees that became paper. Paper that became comic books.

The Dark Knight Rises, as previously mentioned, is helmed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s career has been nothing short of a meteoric ascent to directorial gold. Nolan also helped pen this end to his triptych with his brother Jonathan, and David S. Goyer – who, as you will recall, helped pen Batman Begins and Blade 2. And Ghost Rider: Spirit of Bad Acting. But you can’t win them all, can you?

Under the cape and cowl will once again be Christian Bale, joined by series stalwarts Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. The villain this go-around will be played by Tom Hardy. You’ll recognize Hardy as the mildly funny Brit in Inception. While not as big in scope as Marvel’s upcoming blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises is the follow up to the single most profitable comic book inspired movie of all time. For those who don’t recall, The Dark Knight did so well in the movie theaters, comic retailers reported sales of The Watchmen had gone up in response (which is nothing short of amazing, if you ask any retailer these days). With TDKR, Nolan puts his series to an end. Speculation on the plot, and how things will resolve has most everyone around in a tizzy.

The question then to ask: Which movie will make more money? Needless to say, both will bank boku bucks. For the sake of this argument, I’ll remove revenue from merchandise. Why? Because face it: Nolan’s Bat-Flicks haven’t spawned successful lines of toys; Marvel’s has. Specifically speaking on ticket sales? This is quite the toss up, is it not? On one hand you have the obvious ultimate popcorn movie in The Avengers. From the trailers we can safely assume there’s going to be wall to wall action, explosions, the Hulk, fighting, one liners, and boobs. Opposing that mentality, Nolan will nab those looking for a bit more substance. Whereas Marvel’s flicks were squarely targeting tweens and teens (with a side of general comic nerds and action geeks to boot…), DC’s Bat-Franchise has been nothing if adult in its complexity.

Gun to my head… if you asked me to choose, I’d end up with the nod to the Avengers making more moolah at the end of the day. The Dark Knight had the death of Heath Ledger, on top of the oscar buzz for his performance, on top of previous audience gained from Batman Begins. But TDKR features a villain most people aren’t familiar with (Bane ain’t exactly a household name now, is he?), and a star whose potential is only just now being noticed. And if other comic book trilogies are to be looked at (Spider-Man, X-Men, and previous Bat-Incarnations), the end of an era does not always translate into positive earnings. With The Avengers, we simply have too many stars to not draw an amazing crowd. Fans of any of those feeder movies no doubt want to see a team up. It’s the whole reason books like The Avengers and Justice League always sell so well!

Now, I would give The Dark Knight Rises the edge ultimately in terms of potential film quality. Not a knock on The Avengers mind you… I think from what we’ve seen, Whedon will deliver the goods. But The Avengers has more chance to pratfall than ascend to nerdvana. With so many stars on screen, there’s a real chance too much time will be spent assembling, mocking, and joking. And we can tell much of the movie will be dealing with a Loki-lead invasion fight scene. And just how much CGI action can we effectively sit through? Given the spectacle (and disappointment) of the last Matrix movie, suffice to say I’m fretful.

With Batman, Nolan seems to have been methodically building a dramatic arc. Bruce Wayne by way of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight has been an evolving force of nature. But Nolan’s best job has been grounding that force in reality. He’s delivered where so many others have failed: comic book movies without heroic quips and a knowing wink to the camera. When that theme of the dissonant chords let us know the Joker was at work, it was truly chilling. To think that Nolan is ending this series, one must postulate he’s had an ending in mind since the start. On that knowledge, I give the edge over to DC. Simply put, I’m more excited for their flick because I genuinely do not know what will happen.

In The Avengers? I’m almost certain we’ll have the following: Loki attacks. Avengers assemble by way of initial in-fighting. Disaster. True assembling. Fighting. Explosions. Boobs. Victory. Open ending for more sequels. Not that it’s a bad formula… but it’s just that: a formula.

So, plenty of points to discuss. Flame me, Internet, for I have opinions. Will Bats take more money? Will Avengers be the Return of the King for Comic Book movies? Discuss!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Batman Versus Spider-Man

In honor of Marvel’s next big event, I’ve decided to take a week off of thinking hard. Instead I’ll do what they’re doing: Wasting your time by forcing two characters to fight for your entertainment.

Of course I don’t have the resources to produce artwork. Nor do I have the time to create an actual script. Instead, I’ll just take this idea to a few different levels, and ultimately create enough sweeping declarations to get some beautifully angry comments. I love beautifully angry comments.

In this corner: Bruce “The Rich Kid” Wayne and his amazing belt of knickknacks! That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite powerless pugilist… the billionaire with bats in his belfry, The Batman!

And in this corner wearing skin-tight underwear and a mask without a mouth hole… Marvel’s favorite orphan, Peter “I was a jerk once, and I’m paying for it every day…” Parker! That’s right, it’s the web-slinging, science-spitting, devil-befriending behemoth… The Sensational Spider-Man!

Now there are a few ways to tally the fight. Since I’ve got inches of column to waste, let’s start with the obvious: In a street fight with absolutely no planning, Spider-Man would stomp Batman into a bloody pulp. Bats may have one of the greatest minds in comics, but at the end of the day, no amount of gadgets and Kevlar will out-match a fighter like Spider-Man. Not only is Spidey more agile, he’s also got superior strength and maneuverability. Batman can use all the kung fu in his repertoire, but Spider-Man has the actual super-powers.

I will concede this though: if these two were pitted against one another and had any chance to plan the bout, Batman would knock Parker out like the Orkin Man. Batman’s tactics, gadgets, and ability to use his terrain to his advantage trumps Spider-Man’s physical prowess. And while Spidey is a super-genius… a brilliant fighter he is not. Simply put, with any amount of time to prepare, Brucey’s coming out bruised but boastful.

Fan-service aside, how about we put these two against one another by way of the TeeVee. On the silver screen, Bats takes the trophy. Spider-Man had a few live action cameos on the Electric Company, and a simply too-terrible-to-believe live action show. Batman had Adam West. And you can say what you want about those kooky cavalcades with Burt Ward… but the zeitgeist here nods towards the cape and cowl when it comes to overall quality. Somedays, you just don’t have a place to throw a bomb.

When the battle gets animated, that’s really where Spidey gets killed. Not for lack of trying. The late 60s gave us a decent Spider-Man cartoon. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was… a larf. In the 90s Fox Kids gave us a series that started strong, but became hampered by way-too-long season arcs, and an entirely forgettable last season – that saw the trope of guest stars used piss-poorly. In the mid-late-aughts the Sensational Spider-Man was fantastically done, but cut way too short. In contrast, Batman started slow (in the Super Friends, and then helping out Scooby Doo), but finished amazingly. Yeah The Batman in the early aughts was an atrocity, but Bruce Timm’s animated Batman Adventures wrote the bible on quality cartoons. And The Brave and the Bold was a campy trip that started off too-kiddie, but quickly found its footing in the hyper-kitsch fan-service delivery. By my count Bats wins by four Emmys.

OK, so Bat’s wins the battle of the silver screen. How about we take a trip to the movies? Consider my math: Spider-Man 1? A minus. Spider-Man 2? A solid A. Spider-Man 3? … D. Now over at the Batcamp, let’s take stock. The Adam West Bat-Movie? Don’t count. The Burton Bat-Films: B. The Schumaker Schlock? D… if I’m being nice. The Nolan-verse? Well, if there’s a grade above A, I’d give it. At the end of the day, there’s been more guano out there than there’s been Spider-poop. So I tip the hat to the wacky web-shooter in the battle of the big screen. And he can take that win to the sock-hop.

But how about where it really counts? On the page. I guess I’m sad to say I don’t have the proper license to weigh in on that particular bout. As I stated last week, my exposure to Spider-Man in comics-proper is poor at best. Admittedly I have a very extensive Bat-Collection, so I’m more than likely biased. Given my knowledge though of Spider-Man’s bullet-list of plot threads, I might still be inclined to tip the hat back to the Bat. He does have a few decades more history to draw on though, so it may very well be an unfair fight.

I will say this: In the time since my birth, Batman has had his back broken, his mantle stolen, his sidekick murdered, his life unraveled by several secret societies, his bastard son joining his menagerie, and has survived two or ten universal resets.

In that same amount of time, all I’ve really heard about Spider-Man that really stuck was that he nixed his marriage to Mary Jane to save Aunt May. And there was a clone saga people didn’t like. And he had an Iron-Spider suit. And a black suit. And a cosmic suit. And at some point was tied to an ancient race of animal totem warriors or something. In terms of only recognizable milestones (that haven’t been universally hated) … Batman would take the crown. Prove me wrong.

So there you have it. A few hundred words on an amazing battle. So it’s time for you weigh in. Was I too favorable to Time-Warner’s titan? Does Spider-Man have more going for him than a six-pack and a quip dictionary? Who has the better rogues gallery? Who has the better friends? Man, this could be a whole new column next week. I guess it depends on you, the gentle reader of my column.

At the end of the day, in the battle between Batman and Spider-Man? The winner is you.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


MARTHA THOMASES: Superman Family Values

As we gird our collective loins for another presidential election season, we become accustomed to another iteration of praise for “family values.” It is a phrase that has different meanings to people of different political persuasions. To Democrats, it means a living wage and a financial safety net for the poor, the old and the infirm. To Republicans, it means no gay marriage, no sex outside marriage, and no abortion.

For me, neither viewpoint is adequate. I strive for Superman Family values.

As a woman of a certain age, I remember a comic book series dedicated solely to the Superman family. It had stories about Superman, of course, but also Supergirl, my favorite character, and Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane and Krypto. At 60¢ (not the standard 15¢ or 20¢), this was a big, fat comic book, good for a whole afternoon.

I learned a lot about family from those books, and not just how to get some extra change from my parents.

Superman grew up with loving, principled parents in the Kents. He lived on a farm where everyone had chores that contributed to the family fortunes. He knew he was adopted, so he knew his parents really wanted him. However, since he was Kryptonian, he had powers and abilities far beyond those of his friends and classmates. His parents taught him to value his differences, but not use them to draw attention to himself for personal gain. His gifts were best appreciated when he used then to help his community.

Years later, Superman discovered he had a teenage cousin, Supergirl. He didn’t know anything about her, yet he immediately accepted her and loved her.

When he grew up and moved on to his adult life, Superman, like the rest of us, assembled a family of sorts, of people he chose. Most of this family came from the people with whom he worked, Perry White a surrogate father, Jimmy Olsen like a little brother. Bruce Wayne was his best friend, a peer who understood what it meant to live life with secrets.

I have to believe that Superman would favor the rights of immigrants, since he is one. I have to believe that a man who has roamed the various universes and seen thousands of different societies would develop respect for people with different beliefs than his, and different ways of defining family.

As a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superman had good friends who were in romantic relationships that were not only not conventionally heterosexual, but often between two different species. If this bothered him, we never saw his discomfort in the comics. He accepted his friends as they presented themselves.

Is Superman political? I have always imagined him to be a New Deal Democrat, or what the GOP today calls a “socialist.” At the same time, I don’t see him as an activist, nor even all that partisan. As Clark Kent, he votes, he serves jury duty when summoned, and he pays his taxes.

To him, family is a joy and a refuge. It isn’t something for politicians to use to bludgeon each other and score points.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

JOHN OSTRANDER: 101 Mistakes

Almost every mistake I’ve ever made as a writer comes down to what I call a “Writing 101” mistake. I’ve been writing for a living for umpty-bum years at this point and you’d think I’d have graduated to at least Writing 102 mistakes, but no. It keeps coming down to the basics.

It usually happens because I think I don’t have to bother with the basics because, after all, I’ve been doing this for umpty-bum years now and it should all be second nature to me. Or because I’m behind in my deadline and don’t have time to bother with all that stuff.

Here’s a helpful clue. When you’re running late, you only have time to do the job right. Take a deep breath, clear out the cobwebs, looks at the basics, and work carefully. It winds up saving you time.

I need to have that pounded into my head with a very large mallet every so often.

What are the basics? To start off it’s the classic questions of who, what, when, where and how. By who I mean not just the characters’ names but who they are – their background, their history, their backstory. Those around a character help define them – who are their friends, their family, who loves ‘em and who hates them.

Think of your own life and who you know. How does that define you? Do you act the same way with your friends as you do with your parents? No, you don’t – they are different roles that you play and your actions adjust accordingly. All the roles are you but they are different aspects of you. Bruce Wayne as Batman is different from Bruce Wayne in public who is different from Bruce Wayne in private. As with you, so with your characters.

What can be defined in many ways; some of the most basic include what does the character do, what is their function in the story – protagonist, antagonist, supporting character? For me, the What also comes down to What Does The Character Want and what are they willing to do to get it. That governs every scene, every line of dialogue. Also, What Is At stake? Life, money, fame, ruin, get the girl, get the guy – what?

When would seem a no-brainer, but taking it for granted is a no-brain mistake. One of the legendary changes that Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams made when they took on Batman was to clear away the muck connected with the campy TV show was to make Batman once again a creature of the night. It was that simple, that elegant, and that basic. When can include time of year, era, the season and so on. The amount of time elapsing also matters. How much later does one scene take place after the previous one – immediately, soon, much later, a few days? You have to know.

Where would also seem obvious but a generic location tells us nothing about the characters or the story; a specific setting reveals a lot. How big or small is the house/apartment/office/coffee shop? What posters or art are on the wall or the desk? Details matter. Look around your own abode; what you choose to put in it says something about you. Same with your characters. My office currently says I’m a lazy slob. It says it pretty loudly, too.

Why does the story happen in the order that it does? Why do the characters make the choices that they make? That’s motivation. More often than not, there is no single motivation and the multiple motivations can be in opposition with one another. Back in college I was seeing this girl and she, teasing me, said that if I had to choose between her and a chocolate cake, I’d have to think hard. I told her, “Nonsense, my dear. You exaggerate. I would always choose you – with infinite regret for having lost that chocolate cake.” See? Conflicted.

We often want more than one thing at a time and often try to have it all and usually fail – because we can’t make a clear choice. Why do people make bad choices? Because conscious and subconscious are both acting upon us and they are rarely in agreement; what the heart wants is not necessarily what the head insists on. As with life, so with your characters.

And then there’s how. How does your character go about getting what s/he wants or think they want? How far are they willing to go to get it? Do they use direct action, indirect action, do they lie, cheat, steal, kill? Are there boundaries they won’t cross or are there just boundaries they don’t think they will cross. What are the specific acts? If the character tries and fails to achieve their goals, do they come back and try again? The story is meant to show us how far the protagonist/antagonist will go to get what they want. It reveals what they need or think they need. Are these acts consistent with who the character is – not just who they thinks they are, but with who they truly are? Who they are dictates how the character acts.

Each one of these – the who, the what, the where, the when, the why and the how – influences the other and as you play one off the other, the character, story, and themes come more clearly into focus.

One last word about mistakes. You are going to make them. I know writers who got frozen because of being afraid to make a mistake. It has to be perfect. Got news for them – nothing is perfect. Everything a mortal can do is flawed somewhere. You just do the best you can at the time.

One of the best teachers I ever had in anything, a man named Harold Lang, advised us to make big mistakes; you learn nothing from small ones. The operative word here, of course, is “learn.” Make new mistakes; don’t keep repeating the old.

Now if I could just remember that for myself. Ah, well; I’m off to make some mistakes.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

DC Comics April 2012 Solicitations


And here we are again, with all the new product coming from DC.

We have a tip of the hat to the original Justice League of America #8, the first endings from the New 52, and… oh heck, let’s just dive in, shall we?

As usual, spoilers lurk below.


MIKE GOLD: The Batman Family Feud

I’m enjoying the back-and-forth between my fellow columnists Marc Alan Fishman and Michael Davis regarding DC’s New 52, but now it has come to the point where I must give Marc, ComicMix’s own Snapper Carr, some love.

(Hey, Snapper, just swallow it. We’ve already got Johnny DC writing here. No kidding.)

For a third of a year Marc has been singing the praises of the New 52 Batman to me. I’ve been reluctant to read it despite the fact that I enjoy friends’ recommendations and I respect Marc’s opinions. I’d respect Michael Davis’s opinions as well, if he ever had any. No, my problem is that Batman was one of my favorite characters until the rank and file turned him into a guy who was just as psychotic as his cadre of evildoers. That created a domino effect: the villains became psychoticer. This is the exact opposite of what happened to Mickey Mouse in the 1930s.

Fans of this stuff attacked me as an old fart who wanted the Bat to be like the 1960s teevee show. No; I’m older than that. I grew up a precocious reader during the waning days of Bill Finger and Dick Sprang and stories that were geared to a solidly pre-adolescent audience. If I had my druthers I would wipe out the past 10+ years of Bat-tales and go back to the approach best presented by (in alphabetical order) Adams, Aparo, Englehart, O’Neil, Robins and Rogers, et al. Barring that, I’d take my lead from the Batman of the animated show as professed by (in alphabetical order) Burnett, Dini, and Timm, et al. Of course, some of those efforts were adaptations of the works of Adams, Aparo, Englehart, O’Neil, Robins and Rogers, et al.

Besides, I thought “the New 52 Batman” referred to the number of Batsmen who currently inhabit DC’s new universe. How many Batmen are there today? I have no idea. I can’t count how many were there the day the previous DCU got itself ignored. Evidently, somebody thought Photoshop was for ideas and concepts as well as art. So, with all this hoo-hah between Messrs. Davis and Fishman, I decided to read the New 52 Batman. Keep in mind: I italicized “Batman,” so I’m onlyreferring to the Batman title per se. I have yet to read Detective Comics, Batwing, Wolverbat, or Batpool.

Damn. Score one for our Earth-ComicMix Snapper Carr. Batman has a Batman that isn’t an asshole. That, alone, goes a long way to restoring my faith in the character, DC Comics, and the concept of “the child is father to the man.” Like the rest of us, I have no clue how this ties into that which may or may not have gone before, but Bats is more human and less lunatic. He – or rather Bruce Wayne – is the subject of a deadly conspiracy by something called the Court of Owls (please don’t tell me that’s going to tie into the forthcoming and ill-advised Watchmen prequel). He seems a bit high-techier than he was before, and Alfred has less need to play off of Batty’s psychoses and is a better character for that.

Most important, the Batman Batman is a hero. Hero is a term of respect we bestow upon those who have earned it. A hero need not be a nice guy, but he/she/it should be, at heart, a decent human being. So far, after four issues, this Batman is a hero.

Thanks, Marc. Michael… your turn. Make a heartfelt recommendation.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

MICHAEL DAVIS: Comics in Black… And White

I am a black man.

Well that’s not really true. I’m a tall and unbelievably handsome black man. I work in television, mainstream books and comics. Most of the works I’ve created in all of those mediums have featured black people in foremost roles.

I create black characters because I’m a black creator and I’d like to see more black people represented in the media and I think it’s my job to…yada, yada, yada…

Over the years I’ve said a zillion times that the reason I create black characters is because I felt we were under represented and I did believe it was my responsibility to create characters so young black kids can feel themselves represented.

But is it really my responsibility to create black characters because I’m a black man now? Have we come far enough in the country and the industry for me to give up the fight?

When I was growing up there were no black superheroes of color except for the Black Panther and Luke Cage, Hero For Hire. So my two black superheroes role models were an African King and an ex-con who was a superhero only when he got paid to be.

As hard as I tried I just could not identify with The Black Panther; he was an African king in his secret identity. “Oh, that’s a wonderful black man to aspire to be like.” I’m sure some of you are thinking.


I was born in Queens and the last thing I wanted to imagine myself growing up to be was an African king. I’d seen enough Tarzan movies as a kid to know I would not look good with a bone through my nose. I mean… ugh.

What about, Luke Cage Hero For Hire?


Hero for hire?


Like I said, I grew up in Queens or to be more precise, the hood in Queens. I could not imagine being a superhero that sold his services, that as they say in the hood is ghetto.

The young Harlem mother and her child were coming home very late one evening. The bus they were on was empty except for the driver and some gang bangers who looked like they wanted to start some trouble.

She was not worried, there was a rule written in stone in the hood among gangs, mothers and kids were off limits.

Written in stone…

The problem was these gang bangers could not read.

 “Yo, (bad word starts with B) what cha lookin at?”

He rose, slowly removing a gun from his jacket.

 “I said (bad word starts with B) what cha lookin at?”

She was frozen in place. She had never seen a real gun before and it was at the moment she knew this was the end of her life. She held her child close to her and said softy, “Close your eyes honey it will be OK.”

The bus stopped. Cage entered the bus. Paid his fare and stared down the thug with the gun. The woman’s face lit up as she realizes she is saved!

 “Oh, thank God! He was about to shoot me! I’m sure of it! He called me a…”

Cage puts his hand up to silence her then says; “I can save you for $500, your kid for another $500 so that’s $1000,00.”

The woman looks at Cage, she can tell by the stern look on his face he is not kidding. “ All I have is $500 to my name!”

 “Then you better tell your kid to keep his eyes closed.”

Really? Hero for Hire? Really?

Neither The Black Panther nor Luge Cage, neither of those black heroes seemed as good as the white heroes I was so in love with. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the like.

Superman was an orphan from another planet whose parents were blown the F up and he had a cool ass secret identity. He was Clark Kent, reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper. Batman’s secret identity was equally as badass, another orphan whose parents were shot the F up. His cool ass secret identity was rich ass playboy Bruce Wayne.

Spider-Man was another orphan whose parents were shot the F up AND as a bonus he was responsible for his Uncle Ben being shot the F up. His cool ass secret identity was a high school student and he worked for a great metropolitan newspaper as a photographer.

Why couldn’t I have a black hero whose parents were shot the F up? Why couldn’t I have a black hero who was an orphan? Why couldn’t I have a black hero whose cool ass secret identity was to work for a great metropolitan newspaper and not as a janitor?

No. I got an African king. In my mind, Tarzan (according to the movies my seven year old ass was watching) would soon rescue a white couple from a boiling pot the Black Panther had placed them in while waiting for a visit from The Fantastic Four, and I got a hero who people had to pay to protect them or in other words…

Super Pimp.

Also, Super Pimp didn’t even have a secret identity. Like I said, ghetto.

That’s what I grew up with. That’s what the African American comic book artists of my generation grew up with. It’s no wonder many of us felt it was our responsibly to create black heroes that our black kids could use as real role models, heroes that spoke to them not just in skin color but in experience.

When I was a kid a black GI Joe action figure was just a white GI. Joe painted brown. That made him black to me back then but that was not good enough for my kids when I had them.

Don’t get me wrong; I grew to love Lee and Kirby’s Black Panther. I realized just how cool it was to have an African king be his secret identity. That’s around the time I also realized those Tarzan movies were racist bullshit. Hasbro eventually came out with a black version of GI Joe that was a Black Joe. The lips, nose and even hair were modeled after black features. I still remember when I got my first real Black Joe. It was so damn cool.

As for Luke Cage, Hero for Hire?

That, in my opinion was and will always be ghetto. I mean damn, a Super Pimp? Come on! Really?

I grew up wanting and frankly needing black heroes that I could look up to and that spoke to me.

That was then.

Now, there is still need for more black superheroes as there is a need for many heroes of color but is it the job of people of color to create them?


Are the characters of any creator as valid as any other creator regardless if the creator is black or white?

In other words, would Blade be even cooler if a white guy did not create him? Would Spawn be even more badass if a black creator had created him?

Can white creators create viable black characters and vice versa? It seems the answer is an easy “yes” if you look at the success of some black characters created by non-black creators. It’s a easy yes in the marketplace to be sure but how about in the industry and the homes of those black kids who grow up wanting to be Blade?

Does it matter that an white guy created Blade? Should it matter? A great white guy and my dear friend Marv Wolfman but a white guy nevertheless.

Should we even care?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller…?


MARC ALAN FISHMAN: What I’m Thankful For

Folks, I apologize for missing two weeks ago. I know it caused you to cancel plans, cut ties with loved ones, cease working, and maybe join one of the many #OccupyComicMix rallies across America. Well, as one of the 14.3% here who write a column, I assure you it won’t happen again.

Since it’s that time where we start reflecting on where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and what we enjoyed… it figures I’d take a week off of crazy ranting to spread a little appreciation out there for the things in comics I’ve loved this year. What follows is an unordered, unfiltered, unadulterated list of things that tickled my nethers (comicly speaking). Tally ho, my friends.

FF — Those who follow me fully know I am more or less a DC dude. But I told myself this year I would consider more titles to pull from the House of Ideas. Well, thanks to the “Death” of Johnny Storm at the beginning of the year, it meant it was time for a restart of Marvel’s First Family. And thus FF, or the “Future Foundation” was launched shortly thereafter. Figuring it was as good a time as any to jump on board, I subscribed. Here we are, 11 issues later. I have to say, while the book doesn’t leap to the top of my pile when I’m in the can, every time I pick it up, I’m always happy to have done so. Jonathan Hickman is an intelligent writer who can craft one hell of a story. And art chores by Steve Epting, and currently Barry Kitson? The book is clean, Kirby inspired, sleek and sexy.

What I’m truly thankful for with this series is the way Hickman has given us an entire universe unto itself. FF removed from any crossover tie-ins, has been an in-book epic quest. With time travelers, political wars, cosmic disturbances, a heavy dose of Doom and comic relief by Spider-Man? There’s nothing this book hasn’t given me. With a little lull for an info dump at the mid-way point in the first arc past us, the book has continued to grow carefully. It’s been a beacon of true pulp for me thus far.

Gail Simone and Scott Snyder — All they touch glitters and is gold. In 2011, no two writers dominated my pull list more, nor disappointed less. Secret Six, Detective Comics, and now Batgirl, Firestorm, and Batman have all floated to the top of my must-read-pile week in and week out.

Gail’s writing is brilliant in its subtlety. Her books read quickly, but pack more nuance and depth of character than just about any other book on the shelves today. Where I once stood skeptical of Barbara Gordon returning to her lost mantle, I now live and die to read her exploits. Gail’s ability to let her characters talk about what’s actually going on in their mind instead of barking plot advancing banalities makes each comic of hers flow like a movie on paper. And when she falters, say with a weak and predictable initial villain in Batgirl? She makes up for it by forcing us to pay attention to the detailed character work opposite some of the more forced beats in the story. Her dialogue, a smattering of Kevin Smith without the “every character basically shares one hyper-intelligent voice” is never anything but a joy in print. A Simone book these days is akin to Chinese food. An hour after I’ve consumed it, I want more.

Scott Snyder is the yin to Gail’s yang. Get your mind out of the gutter. While I’ve only been privy to his bat-work, as it were, he’s been nothing if not flawless in delivery. His run on Detective Comics this year was, simply put, the best comic series I read. His characterization of Dick Grayson as Batman was pitch-perfect. The balance of his light hearted banter in the middle of a fight, combined with his police-inspired detective skills was written just the way I’d hoped. He wasn’t trying to be Bruce. He was filling the mantle in his own way. And when Snyder took the lead to Batman proper, he delivered once again, making sure we knew that his Bruce Wayne was assuredly not a gruffer Grayson. His plots bob and weave. Villains hide in plain sight, and get the best of his Batmen in ways we can agree with. And he’s done it all while keeping the majority of Batman’s classic rogues out of focus. His new creations fold into Gotham just as well, and don’t ever come across as knock-offs. Suffice to say? He took the ball Grant Morrison slam dunked with “Batman R.I.P.” and shot back-to-back three pointers.

Let’s Be Friends Again! and The Gutters — I don’t read many web comics, kids. But when I do? I read these. As playful jabs at the comic industry today, you can’t find two funnier takes. And sure, my very own studio did do a strip for The Gutters but we contributed for no better reason than the desire to be amongst greatness. The Gutters have poked and prodded everyone from Dan DiDio to the suits behind Dark Horse with a more than a wink and nod. And thanks in large part to their vast array of artists on file means that three times a week you get a beautiful web comic that delivers that “Friday” quality every strip.

Let’s Be Friends Again! is equally great. A bit more “Penny Arcade” with its core duo than the protagonist-less Gutters, LBFA is hilarity incarnate. Generally taking on just “the big two,” they’ve caused me to chortle out loud more than any strip has otherwise. Don’t just take my word for it. If Racist Galactus doesn’t make you laugh out loud? We can’t be friends.

Unshaven Comics — I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out some love for my brothers from other mothers. Matt Wright and Kyle Gnepper sacrifice their free time to cram into my basement every week to work on our little rags, and website. With them this year, I’ve traveled to Detroit, Kokomo, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Indianapolis and Columbus. With them, this year, I’ve met hundreds of people, and sold nearly 1000 books face to face! When I had the dream of working in comics, they stood along side me, and shared that dream. Although we’re only a blip on the blip riding on the hump of another blip on the radar of the industry… we’re still there, and I couldn’t think of two more talented people to do it with.

And last but not least… ComicMix, and You — For those who have followed me on this site now for three years, I simply can’t express how much I appreciate your continued support. Even when I piss you off with my insane hatred of things you like, or make you roll your eyes with my unending list of snarky retorts to industry news… you come back the next week. You comment. You share my writings with your friends. To have this opportunity every week, to write alongside literal living legends? It’s something I never thought would be possible. And yet, here I am 20 editorials later, forever grateful for the opportunity and the responsibility.

And with that, I bid you adieu. Don’t worry about all this sap this time around. I hear the Phoenix is coming back, and that makes me want to rant. Later days, kiddos. Later days.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Why are you reading this and not playing Arkham City?

Every week it’s a visceral war for my attention: between using my time to produce articles, write or draw comics, complete freelance design projects, or be a lazy bastard. Not 12 feet from my Hacktintosh work station is my present to myself. A 46” HDTV, a Sega Saturn, my DVD collection, and an XBox 360. When I moved into my house last year, I put all these amazing toys in said man-cave so I would have a space where I could create, and reward myself when I was finished. Here I sit a year later…clickity-clacking away for you, the fine readers of ComicMix, my entertainment center gathering a thick layer of dust. And it strikes me that I’m toiling away nervously hoping that my words will excite and amaze you when I could be doing something much more important.

I could be saving Gotham City.

Earlier this month, Arkham City, the sequel to the hit video game Arkham Asylum, hit the store shelves. Presumably millions of copies found their way to similar basements as my own. When the game debuted, I decided to be an adult. I abstained. You see, I waited almost a year and a half to buy Arkham Asylum. I’d nabbed it in the used bin at a Gamestop over Hannukah last year. Since, I’d played it handful of times. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Never beat it though. And thus I gave myself every reason with which to remain stoic in my stance. I didn’t need a $60 investment in time wasting. I have articles to write! Comics to draw! A pregnant wife to attend to! A nursery to paint and organize! And I still haven’t beaten the first one!

That Friday, at the weekly Unshaven Comic work-night, my will grew weak. Matt entered my basement with a hearty “Dude, why don’t you have Arkham City yet?” I shook my head in a desperate plea. “Duuuuuuude!” My knees felt weak. Kyle descended into our dank pit of creativity next. “Hey guys. Marc, did you get it yet?” Damnit! I turned to a nearby die. I declared to my cohorts if I rolled a five or a six, I would get up straight away and get the damned thing. I chucked the six-sided keeper of fate to the floor. It skitted around the vinyl tile in a red blur. And there, staring back at our hopeful faces… one lowly dot. Fate, as it were, was giving me a message. “Stay strong.” Screw fate. I rolled it again. Two. Four. One again. Matt and Kyle chortled as lay on the cold floor, forever mocked by my lack of fortune.

The following week, the work-night began as it had the last. “Dude?! Now?!” No, Matt. I had to pay the mortgage and bills. I can’t be tossing away my cash all the time. I bought books this week anyways. Kyle came down, a rustle of plastic tucked between his arm and body. “Well, I got it!” Poop. We worked hard for an hour or so. Set some dates for conventions we’ll attend next year. We bitched to one another about our printer problems. And like a beacon light guiding us away from our duties as creators… Bruce Wayne called out. “My Unshaven Lads! The hammers of justice are yearning to strike down the nails of tyranny. Only you three can unleash my vengeance upon the night! C’mon, just watch the introduction story!”

A hour later we forced the game off. We pried it from my disk tray. We sealed it back inside its plastic Pandora’s box. With the night ending, Kyle whisked the game from my house, and my life. I could always borrow it when he’s finished, I told myself. I’m plenty busy anyways.

That Sunday, Kyle and Matt returned to record our podcast. Kyle entered with a knowing smirk. “Gas pellets, Marc. Gas. Pellets.” No. “Seriously. You get them like right after the part when we turned the game off. You get the gas pellets.” And you can throw them to the ground, and then fire off your grappling gun, and zip away in a puff of smoke? “Oh yeah. And the game is an open world this time, so you could just go around doing that, and beating up thugs for hours.”

Kyle didn’t even get a chance to finish that sentence before the wisps of my Brut aftershave left a Marc-sized silhouette where I was sitting.

And here I am, finishing up this little tale of woe for you. The game sits on the desk next to me, unopened. It’s been sitting there since I brought it home last Sunday. Between interviews for ComicMix, my day job, drawing the next installment of The Samurnauts and finding time to sleep, I’ve yet to crack it open. The anticipation at this point is unsettling. I’ve considered hugging people with the flu in hopes of having a legitimate reason to call in sick.

But who am I kidding? Even when I’m sick I log on to do my day job out of guilt and fear I’ll be missed. And I love drawing and writing comics. And interviewing Will Meungiot this week? It was like a 60 minute conversation with the friend I wish I’d had years ago. Maybe I’m just a masochist. Like Bruce Wayne. Bruce. … What’s that Bruce? Gotham City is overrun with gangsters, psychopaths, and malevolent psychologists hells bent on overtaking the city and exposing your secret to the world? Only I can help you?

And you have those exploding gas pellets? Poop.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander