Tagged: Matt Kindt

Molly Jackson: Invading Reality


Valiant announced that Vladmir Putin, also known as the real life leader of Russia, would be the villainous mastermind in Divinity II, their next series event. It was announced only a few days ago in an exclusive interview in the New York Daily News with the comics’ writer, Matt Kindt. In the story, our villain manipulates a ’60s-era cosmonaut who has returned to Earth from deep space with super powers and a desire to build a new Soviet empire.

We all know that this isn’t the first time a real life figure has popped up in a superhero story. Obama’s appearance in Spider-Man may have been the biggest one in my lifetime, but hundreds of politicians and celebrities have shown up as guest stars in comics or had comics done about them. However, the vast majority of the time, the real life person isn’t cast as a villain, and especially not without their permission.

The grand exception to this is of course the Nazi Reich and its leader, Adolf Hitler. The difference being those original Captain America comics were used as propaganda to help encourage and keep the American people invested in the war. While I won’t be the first to point it out, Putin has done some pretty mean stuff lately. The U.S. hasn’t been on the best of terms with Russia. But this comic does not sound like it brings the spirit of Captain America with it. Kindt did go on to say that he used Putin sparingly to not diminish his impact. He also pointed out that he never thought about if this was a good idea to piss Putin off in any way.

The thing that bothers me most of all is Kindt’s insistence that because the story is taking place in Russia, it must paint the leader of Russia as the villain. In an industry of constant make believe, this single fact cannot be changed! No matter how much of the story is complete fiction, it would undermine it to change the single fact of who is the Prime Minister of Russia. Stories based in reality can make that small shift from absolute reality. It’s not like we have superheroes with amazing powers in real life. Or do we and no one told me?! Sci-fi has laid the groundwork for a country leader swap in a story or having it be a never-before-heard-of higher up politician in the government. Stories have always had thinly veiled parodies of real world characters without calling them out by name.

I know, in the other hand is artistic license and freedom of expression. I support those freedoms. And yes, public figures are putting themselves in the limelight to be used by the creative element. If it is the only way Kindt could write the story, then I can accept that. But at the same time, people tend to forget that this is a global community and we need to act like it. Americans come off bratty in a lot of ways in the world.

So my question right now: is this one element crucial to the story? Or is this just the main element to Valiant’s marketing plan?

Ed Catto’s Year End Favorites

1 Ed Catto Column Year End Books

There’s a lot going on in Geek Culture right now. I’m just amazed how shows like Supergirl, The Flash and Jessica Jones have engaged faithful fans and created new fans simultaneously. I’m surprised to be reading about Santa Con and noting the similarities to the explosive Cosplay growth at every comic convention this past year. And I’m encouraged by the all the great Geek Culture books, comics, merchandise and collectibles out there – and ecstatic that it’s so creative and fun.

So this week, let’s take a pause and look at a few of these treasures. This isn’t meant to be a Holiday Buying Guide – but if you get a little cash from your Aunt Agnes this yuletide season, you might want to zip down to your local comic shop or bookstore and check these out.

2 Wally Wood Artisan IDWWally Wood’s EC Stories Comics Artisan Edition, Edited by Scott Dunbier

Scott Dunbier is so much more than just an editor at IDW. He’s a passionate fan who’s committed to creating product the way he’d love to see them –and not afraid to blaze a few trails along the way. In recent years, his “Artist’s Editions” have created a new category, replicating the look and feel of holding the actual, oversize comic pages upon which artists typically pencil and ink their illustrations.

Scott has created books that are reproduced from the actual original artwork pages, so in addition to every ink line and stray pencil mark, you can also see the corrections, whiteouts, touch ups and scrawled notes in the margins. It’s an astounding experience for fiction lovers and art lovers.

HomeStay_Page01-Jpglo-650x957And in the “he’s done it again” category, Scott and IDW have created the Artisan Edition. This format is similar, but it presents the pages reduced to a size we’re all more accustomed to seeing the final printed product at; the typical book/magazine size. For an artist like the great Wally Wood, who packed every panel with brilliant and thoughtful detail, this is a feast for your eyes.  If artwork had calories, you’d go over your daily allotment reading just one story illustrated by Wally Wood.

The other rule that was “broken” here is that this Artisan Edition presents several different stories, and covers, from a bunch of different EC comics. This provides the reader with a fantastic assortment of artwork and adventures from this influential artist, clearly one of the greats of the industry.

Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

3 Trigger Mortis 007Most of the folks reading this column probably saw the latest James Bond adventure, Spectre, and probably enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun for long-time fans but had a fresh cutting edge vibe that kept it from being stale or stodgy.

That’s exactly what author Anthony Horowitz has done with the newest Bond thriller, Trigger Mortis. This spy novel is set in the past, right after the James Bond adventure with Goldfinger. And the good news is that Pussy Galore, the quintessential Bond Girl –is still hanging around at the novel’s start.

This novel weaves in some original Ian Fleming chapters. These were pages he had written for a proposed James Bond television show.  And the nice part about a James Bond novel is that the reader can cast his or her favorite Bond actor in the lead role. This one seems tailor made for Sean Connery, and in my mind’s eye it played out like a lost James Bond movie broadcast on the old ABC Sunday Night at the Movies.

One other note: Horowitz provides Bond with exposure to alternative lifestyles in this book, and presents Bond rising to the occasion. In the original novels, Bond sometimes exhibits a misogynistic or close-minded side, but that was refreshingly absent here. Bravo!

4 Pistol Whip DHThe Complete Pistol Whip by Matt Kindt and Jason Hall

I’m blessed with an abundance of generous people in my life. One of them is my cousin Yamu. Despite a childhood filled with non-stop reading and re-reading old 60’s Marvel Comics bequeathed to him, and his brother Peter, by their baby sitter, Yamu is always enjoying new and different comics. He still enjoys the capes-and-tights stuff, but he’s great at finding fresh new voices and then helps spread the word.

Yamu gifted me The Complete Pistol Whip and what a treat it’s been. Dark Horse publishes it, but Top Shelf published the original series. Kindt is currently gaining accolades with Mind Management, but this is where it all started. In fact, Pistol Whip was named as one of Time Magazines Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2001. (How’d I miss that?)

This is a lovely book that still seems fresh and innovative, despite being almost 15 years old.

5 Out And About Dad Jim JosephAnd much like the Wally Wood book with all the imperfections and corrections, this collection also lovingly provides the reader with many thoughtful, small extra touches. One of my favorites – they’ve printed a tear in the book as if several pages were ripped in the same place. They aren’t of course, but it adds to the astonishing attention to detail that makes this volume a reading experience.

Out and About Dad: My Journey as a Father with all its Twists, Turns, and a Few Twirls by Jim Joseph

This book isn’t a graphic novel, but it does have many of the hallmarks of heroic fiction. On one hand, it’s the story of a guy trying to do the right thing and working hard to be a good father. He faces his challenges with a great deal of courage and humility. And in the end, he ultimately triumphs. Jim usually writes insightful marketing books (his Experience Effect series are marketing “must reads”) but this very personal memoir is outstanding and I can’t recommend it enough.

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And in the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying your Yuletide. You (probably) deserve it.