Marvel recently announced a set of variant covers for its newly launching U.S. Avengersseries. As with most listicle-ized ideas in modern comic bookery, it wasn’t much of a shock to me as a stunt. It will provide local comic shops something cool to order to entice collectors with, and for the super serious collectors, there will be a future market to Pokemon Go! and just go ahead and collect ‘em all. It’s a novelty, sure, but there’s been worse ones.
What it really does, though, is cause fans to curiously align themselves to a particular hero — as jocks will take to their geographically-proximate sports-ball-teams. With that, comes that nearly indescribable urge to gain a soft-spot for a particular character… and of course then talk smack at other hero/state pairings in an effort to show one’s newfound super civic pride.
For my home-sweet-home in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, comes Dr. Hank McCoy. Beast, if you’re naughty. The choice, for those in the know, isn’t too surprising. McCoy hails from the suburbs of Chicago himself (or so sayeth Wikipedia, Chicago’s Time Out edition, and countless other sources). Hence, the blue beast was chosen as the surrogate super son of Illinois.
I’ll be honest. Prior to seeing the cover and assignment, I wasn’t a fan of Beast. I don’t hate the fur ball, mind you… but even amongst various X teams and Avengers teams, he’d be nowhere close to a personal favorite. Funny enough though, seeing the cover with Hank leaping stoically off the Illinois map made me reconsider my personal feelings. Whereas California got the glitz and glamour choice of Iron Man and New York nabbed native son Luke Cage, Illinois got what I’d certainly say was a deep cut. We are home to the third largest city in the nation, and the best we muster is a guy who proclaims “Oh my stars and garters!”? In true Chicagoan spirit, my answer to that very question was a resounding “F*ck right he is!”
Beast is strong, fast, flexible, ambidextrous with four limbs, and a genius. He cured the legacy virus. He’s fluent in nine languages. He can hold up his end of the conversation with Reed Richards, Steven Strange, and Tony Stark… all while hanging upside down and teaching a class of X-babies. You see? And he’s my home state hero. It’s like we got Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic all in one guy! And he’s the same color as our beloved Chicago Bears. Hell, he could play quarterback if he wanted!
See how quickly my opinion changed? The second they aligned my home to Hank, an affinity arose. Because he was offered as ours, suddenly there became an emotional edge to my opinion. Now when I open up my Marvel Contest of Champions mobile app, I’m more apt to hope I open up a crystal with the periwinkle protector to add to my cadre of combatants. And should people hold up their state-assigned hero as a better (“Indiana has the friggen’ Winter Solder, brah!”)? Well, I’ll be happy to scoff as I rattle off 17 ways my Dundee-native doctor can whup their candy ass twelve ways from Sunday. Curse you Marvel. What did you do to me?
It’s a cherry idea, I give them that. To turn a cash-grab novelty to in a buzzfeedesque game of proclivity is an instant hit in my book. Same way I felt when the Initiative post Civil War gave us the “Illinois Space Knights.” Same way I felt when I found out my broader home soil was home to such characters as Maria Hill, the Question (well, sort of… ask Mike Gold or Denny O’Neil), Ghost Rider, and Savage Dragon. To know that a fictional character shares the same air as you… may love a good Italian Beef — dipped, of course — and occasionally knock back an Old Style in a tallboy? Well, nothing makes me quicker to warm my icy Illinois heart.
So, it begs the question of you: What lilly-licking punk hero did your silly state get?
We circle back to WAREHOUSE 13, spending time with Saul Rubinek and Aaron Ashmore as they share their memories of the show just a couple of weeks before the doors close for the final time. Plus one of the building blocks of The Marvel Age Of Comics passes away.
“Daring” Dick Ayers, an Eisner Award Hall-Of-Famer best known as an inker for Jack Kirby during the 50’s and 60’s during Marvel’s rebirth in the Silver Age, has passed away. He had just turned 90 last week.
Ayers may be best known for inking some of the earliest issues of Fantastic Four, and he was the signature penciler of Marvel’s World War II comic Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos. Ayers started as a artist in the 40’s (where he co-created the original Ghost Rider), later teaming up with Kirby in 1959 over at Marvel. Ayers went on to ink scores of Kirby Western and monster stories, including such much-reprinted tales as “I Created The Colossus!” from Tales of Suspense #14, “Goom! The Thing From Planet X!” from Tales of Suspense #15, and the immortal “Fin Fang Foom!” from Strange Tales #89.
As Marvel Comics introduced superheroes in the early 1960s, Ayers inked Kirby on the first appearances of Ant-Man (Tales to Astonish #27 and 35, Jan. and Sept. 1962), Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos (#1-3, May-Sept. 1963), and the revamped Rawhide Kid (beginning with The Rawhide Kid #17, Aug. 1960). He inked Kirby on the second and several subsequent early appearances of Thor (Journey into Mystery #84-89), plus others; on Fantastic Four #6-20 and the spin-off Human Torch solo series in Strange Tales (starting with its debut in issue #101); and Avengers #1. He also inked Steve Ditko on Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, among many many others.
Ayers took over from Kirby as Sgt. Fury penciler with issue #8 (July 1964), beginning a 10-year run that — except for #13 (which he inked over Kirby’s pencils), and five issues by other pencilers – continued virtually unbroken through #120 (with the series running Ayers reprints every-other-issue through most but not all from #79 on).
He was a frequent convention guest in recent years, and was one of the last living creators of the Marvel era. Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.
Over the last few weeks I’ve made a concerted effort to balance my pull list between DC and Marvel. As I’d been gone from weekly books for a few months, I figured it’d behoove me to give a fighting chance to both of the big boys of comics to impress me. To prove to the self-proclaimed king of snark, that there exists good mainstream cape and cowl rags still on the racks. For those who follow my review column over at MichaelDavisWorld, you’ll probably recognize what I’m about to say. Let me not bury the lead, kiddos: Marvel good. DC bad. DC very, very bad.
Superior Spider-Man. Magneto. Ghost Rider. She Hulk. New Warriors. All books I picked up with half a snicker, save perhaps for Spidey. Launching a full-on series (as in, not a “1 of 6” mini-series like they did back in the day) with venerable B, C, and D listers is not a way to drive insane demand to the local comic retailer, I thought. Each in their own right are good characters, rich with backstory, and plenty of defining moments, don’t get me wrong. And yes, save perhaps for Magneto, all of the aforementioned titles had previously been a thing. Never though, have they been anything that you launch with guns blazing. Then I cracked them open, and gave them a read. And it all made sense. All New Marvel Now? Well, that’s synonymous with taking a risk, telling a good story, and letting characters be unto themselves. It’s a novel concept that was seemingly stamped into oblivion when Image Comics begat Spawn. But I digress.
This is not an object lesson on conceptual trends – mostly because my knowledge base would be bolstered not of first-hand knowledge so much as Wikipedia page entries. This is however, a reckoning with modern day storytelling. Marvel’s Now initiative, as I’ve noted before, seems to be about the slow burn off of older concepts and heavy continuity, and letting rise a phoenix (no, not that Phoenix…) from the ashes… born anew.
She-Hulk has been many a gal in her time. And in a single page splash on her March issue politely nodded to it. And with it, poof! The book continued to be about a bold new modern take on the character. A human (granted, a large, green, shapely human) who has intelligence, emotions, and exists in a world that doesn’t revolve around whatever team she’s seat-filling for her Hulkier cousin.
The New Warriors, reformed now after the last person forgot about their downfall a few epic-crossovers ago, set about finding their inner heroes once more. Largely (again) a team built of newbies, loose-ends, and forgotten morts (looking at you, Speedball…), the relaunch hits a small heart string of my own; harkening back to the innocent-fun of books like The Order, The Defenders (the Fraction-penned ones), and Slingers.
Magneto, yoked with just about the longest rap-sheet of who-could-recite-it-all mythology is given a chance to breathe in his own title. Now, without a Brotherhood, or X-Men yelling at him every panel… his book is a quiet, brooding, sharp bit of work. He’s weaker in his mutant abilities, and that makes him a deadlier man. And anytime a writer can write a Holocaust flashback scene that doesn’t make me feel like they’re shooting for the lowest common denominator? Well, it’s a sign something is being done right.
I could go on, but frankly, just read my individual reviews. The unifying factor that exists across all of these new books is clear to me. Mickey’s stopped cracking the pressure valve so hard. The fact that Marvel’s editors have the wherewithal to produce titles that care more about the individual truths that exist within the character(s) they’re reintroducing is beyond refreshing. Combining young and fresh talent to produce these books – each with an art style that is decidedly a step above house style only adds to the appeal. Ghost Rider’s slick magna-esque art helps feed the hellfire that churns through the LA backdrop. She-Hulk’s retro-chic flat art takes the Hawkeye approach to storytelling. And anyone around the shops in the last year or so, know that ain’t no one bad mouthing that book. The key to all of them being critically praised (by me at least) lies within the fact that each book touches in some way on the lengthy barriers to entry with each titular character, and then takes a nice ninety degree turn and goes it’s own way.
And by comparison, DC releases a book like Aquaman and the Others. A book that pulls a plot from any rote team origin you’ve already read, marries it to artwork that feels like any one of seven or eight other current DC titles, and then has the gall to double back on itself to do literally nothing to set itself apart from what has been done before it. I gave a synopsis of the book itself to my podcasting cohorts, and even they were floored at how unoriginal and awkward it all was. And here, in the New52, where there’s absolutely no chains to previous continuity, the best they could deliver was something that felt like Captain Planet (the bad United Colors of Benetton stuff) smashed with G.I. Joe (the whole evil henchmen and shrouded evil guys trying to unsuccessfully smash and grab artifacts stuff). Sad, really. Especially given the fact that a guy like John Ostrander exists, and would have done something amazing with the concept.
I could go for miles on the contrasts in presentation. I could labor all of you to churn through endless paragraphs going over the economics of it all; how Marvel and DC must keep the publishing alive less for huge profit, and more for idea incubation. I could make impassioned speeches as to how DC should consider the New52 a bust, and start All New Now’ing their way through their rich backlog of characters – letting young and fresh creative teams strip down to the bare-essentials, and enjoy telling singular stories that elevate and celebrate the essence of the characters. I’d probably spend another half page just finding quirky ways to insinuate that Bruce Timm become the EIC, and steer away from the sun. But why bother? If DC doesn’t care… for the while, neither should I.
No, it has nothing to do with the whole Doctor Octopus is in Peter Parker’s body while Peter is apparently dead, even though some remnant of Peter’s morality is making Ock try to prove he can be a Spider-Man. A superior Spider-Man, even. No, that doesn’t bother me. I mean I never thought that status would remain quo for long.
Ever since the days of Stan Lee, Marvel Comics has operated on the principle of “the appearance of change,” but that’s not even the real reason. The real reason I expected Peter Parker back in control just about now is because in a few short weeks the movie The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes out. Anybody who thought the Disney suits would want a comic book where Doctor Octopus is Spider-Man out at the same time as the movie where Peter Parker is Spider-Man could use a lesson in marketing. And I don’t mean a refresher course at your local Kwik-E-Mart.
So why is The Superior Spider-Man not a good comic for me? Well, let’s look at the latest example of what bothers Bob about The Superior Spider-Man and then we’ll discuss.
Blackout wants to reestablish his rep as a hired killer and how he chose to do it is the subject of this week’s SPOILER ALERT. You know those really big spoilers on cars that resemble the blades of a ventilation fan? They look silly. Don’t use them. And don’t continue reading this column, unless you want the beginning, middle and end of The Superior Spider-Man Annual # 1 spoiled. (more…)
This March, a new legend is born on the streets of Los Angeles in ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1 – the high-octane new series from writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore! All-New Ghost Rider #1 will continue the exciting wave of All-New Marvel NOW! series with a brand new & sensational take on the Spirit of Vengeance!
A high speed street race in East LA leads a young man down the fast and furious road of destiny. Amid an East Los Angeles neighborhood full of gang violence and drug trafficking, 18-year old Robbie Reyes explodes onto the scene as the newest Ghost Rider!
“In Robbie Reyes, Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore have created one of the most complex and likable characters to be granted great power — and a great ride! — and learn the great responsibility that comes with both,” says Editor In Chief Axel Alonso. “Reyes comes from a very different zip code than Peter Parker, but his story is universal.”
“His vehicle of choice, the automobile, very clearly sets him apart visually,” says series writer Felipe Smith in an interview with Marvel.com “In comparison to his vengeance seeking predecessors, he’s very young and inexperienced in most aspects of life; but as a the product of a harsh inner city upbringing, Robbie’s street smarts, overall distrust for most people, and clear contempt for his violent surroundings make him the perfect host for a Spirit of Vengeance.”
But motorcycles and cars were just the beginning! Robbie has the ability to turn any vehicle into a flaming engine of retribution. And he’ll need it. War is brewing in the criminal underworld. But crime and corruption have a new enemy. With the pedal to the metal, Marvel’s newest Ghost Rider puts vengeance into overdrive!
Who is this new Ghost Rider? And how did he come to possessed with such awesome power? The answers will be revealed when the explosive ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1 sets comic shops ablaze this March!
ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1 (JAN140660)
Written by FELIPE SMITH
Art & Cover by TRADD MOORE
Variant Covers by FELIPE SMITH (JAN140663)
MIKE DEL MUNDO (JAN140663) SKOTTIE YOUNG (JAN140664)
(Reuters) Marvel Comics has agreed to settle a lawsuit by a comic book writer who sued the publisher over the copyright to the flaming-skulled character Ghost Rider.
The agreement, disclosed in a letter filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, if finalized would resolve five-years of litigation brought by former Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich, who claimed he created the motorcycle-riding vigilante.
The Reuters story quoted above is pretty sketchy, but maybe we should celebrate anyway. We don’t know the terms of the deal and we may never know them; the only instance I’m aware of where a comics creator didn’t get creamed when he tried to get paid for the success of a character happened years ago when the late Steve Gerber tried to get a piece of the Howard the Duck action. Steve got some kind of settlement, but the terms of it were never made public, possibly because non-disclosure was a condition of the agreement. Whatever Steve’s reward was, it didn’t make him rich.
I first heard of the Friedrich suit from Gary himself, when we were guests at a small Missouri convention. He couldn’t say much at the time, just that the litigation was happening. I had immediate doubts. As noted above, comics guys had a habit of losing in courthouses. And Gary did lose the first round; a judge smiled upon the corporation. That seemed to end the matter.
Next, Marvel countersued to regain the money Gary had gotten selling Ghost Rider souvenirs at cons. You could argue that Marvel’s legal cadre had to do what they did in order to protect the company’s copyright/trademark – that’s their job, after all, and this is not the place to debate the merits of their livelihood. But I couldn’t help feeling that Gary, a man who lives modestly, was being bullied by a New York behemoth. The money involved could be important to Gary, and wouldn’t make a blip on the corporate accounts.
Then, today, the good news. Gary won an appeal and, barring further legal shenanigans, his retirement became a bit easier.
Anyone familiar with the history of our peculiar medium knows that its dominant narrative is that business guys get fat from the efforts of creative guys, who don’t get fat. (This is pretty well documented: see Larry Tye’s recent history of Superman, Gerry Jones’s Men of Tomorrow, and a lot of journalism in Roy Thomas’s magazine, Alter Ego.) But their are indications of change – glacially slow change, to be sure, but change nonetheless. When I cashed my first comic book check, we pale scriveners got a flat, one-time-only payment, for which we relinquished all rights. No royalties, no foreign income, nothing for use in other media, on t shirts, lunchboxes, promotions…None of that’s true anymore. We still don’t own copyrights on work done for the big publishers, but we are guaranteed back-end money. Some might claim that we should get more, but we get something, and that counts as progress. .
Meanwhile, in legal land, Mr. Friedrich won his appeal and, as far as I know, the efforts of the estates of Superman’s creators are still in litigation, and maybe they’ll prevail. It’ll be much too late to do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster any good, but it might benefit their descendants.
“I can’t believe I agreed to this,” Bruce muttered, as he locked the front door of Wayne Manor.
“Hey, Bats!” a cheerful voice exclaimed from behind. Bruce turned.
“Peter,” he grumbled at the young man standing in the driveway. “I told you not to call me that when I’m out of the suit.”
“Sorry, Bats! Forgot,” Peter Parker replied merrily.
Bruce groaned inwardly. Here we go again, he thought. “Peter, what are you doing here?” he asked.
“I came to keep you company on the drive!” said Peter. “Plus, you know… Alfred thought if I didn’t, you might not come.”
“So… you came all the way out here just to turn around and go right back?” Bruce said wryly, walking to the car.
“Well, you know, it’s quick when you’re swinging through the air with the greatest of ease.” Peter grinned. “And Aunt May also thought it would be a good idea for me to get out of the house for a few. I think she’s kind of sweet on Alfred, actually.”
“Oh, well, you know. I could be wrong,” Peter said mischievously. “But they were looking pretty cozy over the turkey earlier.”
“Yargh,” Bruce said in a strangled voice. “Uh… well… let’s get going, I guess.” He slung a bag into the back seat and slid into the driver’s side. Peter hopped into the passenger seat.
“How ‘bout some tunes?” Peter asked, pulling out his iPod as Bruce pulled out of the drive. He turned on the radio. “Gah!” he shouted as music blasted; then he laughed. “Wagner? Really, Bats?”
“It’s Bruce, remember?” said Bruce. “And I like Wagner.”
“Yeah, who doesn’t love Ride of the Valkyries? Nothing overdramatic about that.”
“Did you come just to make fun of my musical selections?” asked Bruce.
“Of course not! Alfred said you’ve been feeling kind of down about the whole superhero-ing thing. Like you thought maybe you’re not making much of a difference and nobody appreciates you. So… I dunno, I thought you could use some positive reinforcement. Nobody wants an emo Batman.”
“Emo… ?” Bruce spluttered.
“I’m just sayin’,” said Peter, holding up his hands in mock surrender. He plugged in his iPod. “Anyway, I asked Harry to put together a list of all the songs people have written about superheroes, so we could listen on the drive. You know, to show you how people really do look up to us and we do make a difference. Wanna hear?”
Bruce sighed in defeat against Peter’s incessant good spirits. “Sure, whatever.”
“O-kaaay! Let’s see what we’ve got,” Peter said, pressing play.
“This isn’t bad,” Bruce said after a few seconds. Then the lyrics continued. Peter glanced over at Bruce, who was now glowering at the wheel.
“Hmm… let’s try another one, maybe?” Peter said.
“Excellent plan,” Bruce replied dryly. “I have to admit I like the music, but I’m pretty glad it’s just a song. I really prefer not to think about Superman being dead.”
“Uh, yeah,” Peter said. “Let’s try again.”
“Eminem. Now that I wasn’t expecting,” said Bruce in surprise. “… Although the lyrics aren’t exactly heroic, are they?”
“True; but a) it is so cool that you recognized Eminem in two seconds flat, Bats; and b) he’s a total superhero fan. Or so I hear,” said Peter. “Oh, hey hey! This next one’s about you, I think.” They listened in silence for a minute.
Bruce winced. “Did you even listen to these when Harry gave them to you?”
“Well, okay, I didn’t have time, and I grant you it’s not the greatest song ever… but at least Gotham has its own theme song!” Peter chirped.
“Yeah, somehow I don’t think it goes with the actual ambience of the city,” Bruce deadpanned. “Next.”
A jaunty tune filled the car.
“‘So long, Superman’? Seriously? Catchy, but are you sure Harry isn’t on one of his Evil Goblin kicks again?”
Peter scrunched up his nose. “Well… I mean, he seemed really enthused about the playlist idea.”
“Yeaaaaah. I bet,” Bruce drawled. “Also, why are there so many songs about Superman? What about the other half of our sometimes-team-up. Namely, me? Why the inequality?”
“Dunno, Bats. ‘Once again it’s a mind bender.’“
“… Did you just vaguely mis-quote Method Man?”
“I can’t believe you got that reference. But it’s appropriate! The Wu-Tang Clan loves superheroes.” Peter scrolled down on the playlist. “Looks like Snoop Dogg does too.”
Bruce listened as they drove along. “Well, Peter, I like the rhythm… but I’m pretty sure I’ve never told Alfred to have ‘barbecued buffalo wings and a pitcher of Kool-Aid on chill.’“
“Okay, so maybe they put their own spin on things. But still! They loved you enough to make a whole song about you!”
“With sound effects and everything. I’m honored.” Bruce said, a bit sarcastically.
“Okay, okay, well hey, you know, here’s a different take,” Peter said, hurriedly pushing buttons. “I bet you love this one, huh?”
“… Is this… Prince? Prince did a Batman song? What’s this called?”
“Seriously? You’ve never seen the Batdance before? Bats, you need to get out more.”
“Oh-em-gee; I can’t wait to watch the video with you. YouTube, here we come!”
“Nice try, Peter, but I am not letting you suck me into the bottomless pit that is YouTube again.” Bruce grumped. “It’s almost as bad as TV Tropes.”
“We’ll see.” Peter hit the button again. Bruce listened in silence for awhile.
“Huh – I actually really like this one. What’s it called? Maybe I’ll have Alfred download it for me later.”
“That’s the spirit! It’s The Ballad of Barry Allen by Jim’s Big Ego.”
“That’s a ridiculous name for a band.” Bruce paused. “Good song though. Let it play.”
[3 minutes later]
“Okay, this one’s the whiniest thing I’ve ever heard. What’s it called?”
Peter squirmed a little. “Uh – Spidey’s Curse?”
Bruce laughed. “Talk about emo.” He laughed some more and Peter thought he heard a snort. “Your theme song is one long whiny drone!”
“It’s not my theme song, Bats! Anyway, I much prefer Dashboard Confessional’s take. If I had to pick, I’d go with Vindicated,” Peter said, skipping ahead again.
“Okay,” said Bruce. “I’ve actually heard that one and shockingly, I’d have to agree.”
“And you’d also have to agree that this is awesome,” Peter said, skipping to the next song.
“Well everybody likes this one. But I mean, Harry does realize it’s not actually about Tony Stark, right?”
“You know,” Peter said thoughtfully, “it’s not, but somehow it is.”
“Touché,” replied Bruce. At the beginning of the next song, he grunted. “Another Superman song? Really?”
“Yeah, but this one’s really good. I think Harry likes these next three as much as me – he put them all in a row.”
“So we could get sick of Superman getting all the good songs faster? Hey, did he put Jimmy Olsen’s Blues on there? Now there’s a song I can sympathize with.”
Peter looked over at Bruce. “Wow, Bats. Are you… are you jealous of Clark? I mean, suave billionaire that you are, I wouldn’t have thought it.”
“Of course not, Peter. You know Clark’s like a brother to me. He’s just… a little unreal sometimes, is all. I can sympathize with Jimmy. We’re only human.”
“Fair point. Ooh, here, I like this one,” Peter said, scrolling to Weezer. “Kinda makes me feel like I’m back in high school.”
“What, like yesterday?” Bruce snarked.
“Ha. Ha.” Peter replied.
Bruce swung the car into a familiar driveway to the end chords of In the Garage.
“Oh hey! We’re here. Aunt May’s going to be so happy to see you! Betchya ten bucks she tries to get you to eat something within the first three minutes.”
“No bet,” said Bruce, smiling as the door opened on Aunt May and Alfred.
“Happy Thanksgiving!” they both exclaimed, as Aunt May took the bottle of wine Bruce was holding out and gave him a big hug.
“Glad you could make it, Master Bruce,” said Alfred, as Aunt May said, “So good to see you again, Bruce. Come in, come in!”
Aunt May bustled away with the wine, calling over her shoulder, “I bet you’re hungry – but never fear! I have some mini quiches with your name on them!”
Peter and Bruce exchanged an amused look. “Thank you, Aunt May, that sounds delightful,” Bruce replied politely as they stepped inside.
“So, Bats,” Peter said quietly as they stood for a moment watching Aunt May and Alfred hurry around setting food on the table, “what did you think of the music? All those people inspired to write about us in their songs; wanting to be like us, or looking up to us, or even just thinking about what our lives are like?”
“It does lend a different perspective, I’ll admit,” Bruce replied. “Also I’ve now learned that rappers really love comics. Was that the whole playlist?”
“Nope! Guess we’ll just have to save the rest for the ride back to Wayne Manor.”
“Oh, joy,” Bruce said. But he was smiling when he said it.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Bruce.”
“Happy Thanksgiving, Peter.”
Spidey and Bats’ Infinite Playlist
Our Lady Peace – Superman’s Dead
Eminem – Superman
R. Kelly – Gotham City
Firewater – So Long, Superman
RBX, Snoop Dogg, & The Lady of Rage – Batman & Robin
Prince – Batdance
Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen
Black Lips — Spidey’s Curse
Dashboard Confessional – Vindicated
Black Sabbath – Iron Man
3 Doors Down – Kryptonite
Crash Test Dummies – Superman’s Song
Five for Fighting – Superman
Spin Doctors – Jimmy Olsen’s Blues
Weezer – In the Garage
Drowning Pool – The Man Without Fear
Method Man – The Riddler
Big Head Todd and the Monsters – Resignation Superman
Lemon Demon – The Ultimate Showdown for Ultimate Destiny
The Kinks – Catch Me Now I’m Falling
Me’shell Ndegeocell – Poison Ivy
Suicide – Ghost Rider
Saving Jane – Supergirl
Dangerdoom – Space Ho’s
moe. – Captain America
The Traits – Nobody Loves The Hulk
Sufjan Stevens – The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
Rancid – Side Kick
Rush – Ghost Rider
Remy Zero – Save Me
Panic! at the Disco – Mercenary
Bow Wow – Batman
Anthrax – I Am the Law
Black Lab – Learn to Crawl
R.E.M. – Superman
The Brunettes – Hulk is Hulk
They Might Be Giants – Particle Man
Laverne Baker – Batman to the Rescue
The Ramones – Spider-Man
[Author’s note: Yes, yes, I crossed the streams. Sue me. But you know in a perfect world Spider-Man and Batman would be oddly fantastic friends. Anyway, Happy (slightly belated) Thanksgiving, everyone! And I hope I’ve maybe added a bit to your nerdy playlists this week. Servo Lectio!]
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!
We thought this was settled by now. Certainly Marvel Comics should know it. But apparently not. In the recent trade paperback, Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse, we find this blurb on the credits page:
The creators of Spider-Man, Storm, and Power Man are unknown.
Apparently, Marvel is having some substance abuse problems of their own over there, or this is the latest salvo in the Disneyfication of Marvel where they decide they own everything, and it was all created by nameless workers.
Since some people at Marvel appear to be on drugs themselves, let us make this perfectly clear: