Tag Archives: comics

Verdict: Inhumans

Having recently finished the second and third episodes of the Inhumans figured it was time to write up the verdict post. I know we are already almost half way through the entire series, but still wanted to get my thoughts out there since the first episode is still available.

In general I have been enjoying some of the political intrigue of the show, and with some background knowledge of the characters I already had some investment going in. At the same time I can understand how if you had little to no knowledge of these characters that the dynamics might run a little flat. The show has not done enough to build up the background of who the Inhumans are and what they are doing on the moon. There does seem to be a level of expectation that you have knowledge of the characters already, which doesn’t really work.

At the same time the performance by Black Bolt, Maximus, and Medusa have been great, although some of the special effects have been lacking that is mostly dealt with by the end of the first episode. We are definitely going to finish watching this limited series, but so far nothing they have shown me makes me want more than just this limited run. (Spoilers for Inhumans after the jump.)

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No More Fantastic Four?

I came across this news story via a Twitter Moment, the phrase “Fantastic Four writer” instantly triggering the thought of Jonathan Hickman – and being right, in this case!

Since as I’ve said I’ve pretty much stopped reading or keeping up with Marvel comics since the end of Secret Wars, I was surprised to find out that one of the comics that has not come back since then is Fantastic Four. The characters just aren’t there, there’s no title, all that. At this point, it’s been nearly 2 years. Thus the question – where are the Fantastic Four?

There’s been whirling theories about Marvel, their comics, and their movie rights. It’s been going on for a while – here’s a link to an article I wrote about that in 2014. If you look at the comics and merchandizing and things lately – or things like Guardians of the Galaxy getting a theme park ride at Disneyland – the focus has been on the Marvel Studios films. When properties like Spider-Man and the X-Men and all feel like they used to be the premier Marvel characters, and now all of a sudden we all know who the Guardians of the Galaxy are… something is happening.

I’ve pretty much argued before that what’s going on here is mainly business decisions. The interview with Hickman makes this seem the same – business business business. But he points out that we’re seeing something different between, say, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. It’s not just that Marvel lacks the rights to both and is keeping them down – it’s that Fox (which has the movie rights to both teams) hasn’t made a good Fantastic Four movie yet.

Fair enough. For another example, Marvel has been all over Deadpool related stuff, and they don’t have those film rights – and you take a character like Gwenpool and you’ve got a Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover character that nonetheless is getting attention from Marvel, despite the doubly complicated movie rights involved there.

No Fantastic Four because no good movie makes some sense. Again, you could come up with conspiracies – for instance, the thought that you don’t want to produce new ideas for Fox to try to run with in making yet another reboot. However, if they want to try to do another film, I would recommend going with an already established Fantastic Four – skip the origin story – and just do a story like “Solve Everything,” Hickman’s first storyline from his writing run. Have the kids in it. Have travel and exploration and science. You could do something different from standard superhero fare.

Which is also something of the point when it comes to the storytelling side of there being no Fantastic Four comic: what story do you tell with them?

Secret Wars ends with the Fantastic Four (and the kids and all) in an interesting place. They are in some ways the least affected by the events that ended the Marvel Universe; in other ways, they are the most burdened by it. The basic assumption at this point is that they are super busy doing interesting and important things. Honestly, the longer they keep them off the page, the more work they’re going to have to put into figuring out what cool or interesting thing they have been doing with their time.

Really, they’re ripe for imagination work, for interesting ideas and new things. They always have been. There’s a reason I think that they worked so well at the core of Hickman’s storyline. Reed at points functions as the voice of the author, explaining the problem and plot to us in no uncertain terms.

I argued before that the problem they seemed to be running into with the X-Men, more than anything, was that they were dealing with a fundamental societal problem without easy solutions, and if you do actually resolve it, you’re largely done – or at least, they’re no different from other superheroes. If mutants get equal rights, if they end up living in harmony with humans, you’re just done. However, if you show that no progress has ever been made and it’s all been for nothing, well, that’s kind of a stalemate as well.

The Marvel Universe reboot theoretically let them reset that whole tension, but it’s still there. It’s just quite simply harder to write X-Men stories as time goes on. However, it should be easier to write the Fantastic Four – you just need big ideas. You need vision. Or maybe, anthology style, a bunch of smaller or shorter ideas. And maybe they’re lacking that right now, and waiting on it. Maybe they have that, and are waiting for the right time – for a big crossover event or something.

Or maybe, maybe they’re just waiting for a good Fantastic Four movie. Or for the rights to revert back to them. I don’t know, but it’s interesting to get Hickman’s perspective on it!

Audio

Week in Geek Trial Run – Comparative Opinions Episode 56

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, in consideration of starting a new second podcasts, hosts David and Holly try a trial run and discuss some of this week’s geek news! Topics include streaming, with Disney and NetFlix in the news; the Hugo Awards; the digital release of Guardians of the Galaxy; and password rules. Let us know what you think of the format and the episode!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Why is Star-Lord such a Rake? – Throwback Thursday

With Guardians Inferno stuck in my head again, I have Guardians of the Galaxy on the brain, and thought I would throwback to this post (originally on Sourcerer). I also wrote a post generally about the music as a character in the film. This furthers that idea into the effects that character had on Star Lord. I argued overall that the music stands in for the mother – and all of Earth and human culture. Which is an interesting contrast then with the second film, which is about the relationship between Star-Lord and his father – and father stand-in. There’s probably more to say on that point, but I think that’ll wait until seeing the film a second time!


Here on Sourcerer, I have blogged about two things: comics and music. Today, I get to talk about both!

Let me set the scene. In Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the great movies and greater soundtracks of the summer, there was an odd scene at the beginning. Making a ridiculous spaceship escape, the hero, Star-Lord, gets confronted by a female woman who was sleeping below decks, and got thrown around as the ship flew off-planet. And his line, in this moment, was, “I forgot you were here.”

Star-Lord, or Peter Quill, is a human who was abducted at a young age by a crew of alien pirates, and grew up with them. He ends up as a womanizer, con man, and liar, and it might be easy to dismiss this sort of moment as “oh, those pirates.” From the other angle, it’s been criticized as a scene that really did not even need to exist. They could have cut it and not changed the movie much at all. Sure, Gamora later accuses him of being a womanizer, but how did she know? And do we need a throw-away scene to, as the audience, know that about him?

I have come to find a third opinion about this scene, about this character trait, this aspect of his personality. I use the term “rake” to describe it, perhaps a dated term but one I know well from my history thesis on William Hogarth (with his Rake’s Progress), and more recently with something like the Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love. I suppose more modern terms would be “player,” “ladies man,” or my favorite (from Scott Pilgrim versus the World), “lady-killer wanna-be jerky-jerk.” So why is Star-Lord this way? It makes sense to me now, and I want to share why.

It’s Not From The Comics…

Cover from Guardians of the Galaxy #1, 2008

Over on Comparative Geeks, one of the things we do is read the source material and then see the movie, something we call LitFlix. Well, for my Guardians of the Galaxy LitFlix, I read the whole 25-comic run of Guardians where you first see this group of heroes (plus friends) together. I’ve read some of the start of the newer run, as well. Sure, there’s a lot more of the comics I haven’t read, and Star-Lord has been around since 1976.

Still, in what I have read, Star-Lord has not been a Rake. He’s been manipulative and lies, uses his charisma and words as his weapons as much or more than his trusty elemental pistols. But him and relationships? Or less than that – him and womanizing? Not really a part. Certainly not to the extent that it shows up in the movie!

So it’s not some little detail they snuck in to try to be faithful to the comics, it’s not a nod to the hardcore fans. Assuming there even was such a thing for Guardians of the Galaxy before the movie was announced…

Where Does It Come From? How About The Music?

I’ve talked about the music in Guardians of the Galaxy before, and the wonderful Awesome Mix Vol. 1. So rather than rehash all of that, some greatest hits:

  • The soundtrack music used is also the actual music that Star-Lord has. It’s the album his mom made him when he was a kid, was the thing he had from her with him when he was abducted. Therefore, it functions in multiple ways in the movie.
  • Most importantly, I argue it is the voice of his mother, it is the lessons she has to give him. It is all he has left to learn from. She died right before he was abducted – two reasons that he can’t get/learn more from her. She remains a character throughout, though, in the music.

This is a movie that wants us to believe that, in an epic final battle with the Big Bad, to save the world, Star-Lord’s plan is a dance off. I mean, really…

But we believe it, because the music runs throughout. Because it motivates Star-Lord. Because when he has to present the story of a hero from Earth, it’s Kevin Bacon in Footloose.

And sure, this could be just a way to ask the science fiction, speculative, what-if question, “what if you were abducted by aliens and had only one album with you?” But the movie doesn’t just ask the question – it also answers it.

The Lyrics

So this is where the details of Awesome Mix Vol. 1 matter. A set of songs from the 1970’s, an era of free love an changing moral attitudes, an era of rock and roll becoming popular. And the lyrics… the lyrics to this album I (and many others, I’m sure) have been obsessively listening to ever since. And which, critically, Star-Lord was listening to obsessively throughout his life…

Or to look at one song in particular, “Escape,” the Pina Colada song. When you get down to it and listen, it’s the story of a guy falling out of love with his girl, responding to an ad in the paper for a man, and then finding out the person who put out the ad was his girl. And they learn more about each other, and fall back in love. It’s a story of finding true love, real love, in the last place imaginable in the age of free love: finding it with the person you’re already with!

If this was Star-Lord’s moral instruction, there’s probably only one way he could really come out. He was always going to be a Rake. And if the music was as important a part of the movie as it needed to be, he needed to reflect what the music said. So he did.

Just think of lyrics like this as your instruction on how to be a man… on how to be an adult… on how to be a human. How else could he have turned out?

NetFlix and Mark Millar? …Eh?

Huh. So that’s what it looks like when you drop a Twitter Moment into WordPress…

I saw this news story this morning, and I’m just… I’m just not that excited. Like, I like the fact that NetFlix is willing to invest in something like this – comics are an excellent ideas factory, like science fiction magazines and such were in the past. However, it’s Mark Millar.

If you don’t recognize the name, he’s written quite a few well known comics (not under his own imprint, so not necessarily part of this business deal). He wrote Civil War for Marvel. He’s written Kingsman and Kick-Ass and Wanted, which have all become films. He wrote Old Man Logan and Superman: Red Son and started Ultimate X-Men.

However, having actually read his comics, and seen a number of the films adapted from them… I have liked the film better in every single last case, in almost every way. I’ve written long discussions of this fact about Kick-Ass and Kingsman. In the Kick-Ass review, in particular, I included an image of the introduction which ran with Kick-Ass 2, and which basically just feels way too Gamer Gater at this point.

I’m conflicted, therefore, because I think that some interesting stories and films or shows may come from this purchase. If others are allowed to contribute their direction and vision to it as well, to correct the impulses that seem to underline how Millar wants to present the world. However, if with this purchase Millar comes along and gets to put his full stamp on things, we may end up with some really blah material coming out of NetFlix.

It’s a risk. The basic worlds he creates make for good cinema. The decisions he makes for his characters and plot points, not so much. It feels like a coin flip at this point… so I’m hesitant. What do you think?