Tag Archives: Marvel

Marvel and the Never Ending Civil War

9 May

If you listen to the entertainment media, it is not a good time to be a DC fanboy, and I have been one my entire life.  For some reason, Batman v Superman was torn apart in the media and people act like it was a complete bomb, in spite of making $850 million.  And people have been complaining that DC has been completely invested in maiming characters and trying to make their comics as dark as possible.  At the same time, we are assured that Marvel Comics is experiencing a golden age, in both print and at the movies.  Civil War just opened and automatically we are told that it was one of the best comic book movies ever (Newsarama’s updated list places it in the top 10) and comic book creators are leaping over each other to heap praise upon it.  I would argue, however, it is more of a sign that the “House of Ideas” is completely out of ideas.  Basically, for the last ten years, Marvel has one story: hero versus hero.  There really is no need for the company to have villains as the heroes are having way too much fun smashing and clobberin’ each other to need anyone else to punch.  Don’t believe me, true believer?

Ten years, Marvel launched the comic event known as Civil War (you might have heard there is a movie based on?).  In it, Captain America and Iron Man, two of the Avengers’ Big Three, had a falling out and they convinced all of Marvel’s heroes to kick, stab, and eye blast all of the other heroes.

A few months later, World War Hulk happened.  Hulk, Marvel’s perennial grouch, decided the heroes wanted to kill him, even though he was a rare hero NO ONE tried to kill during Civil War.  So he returns to Earth, after an absence, and declares war on the world (hence the title).  The story goes so far as to have him capture four of Marvel’s most important characters, lock them in a gladiator pit, and demand they fight to the death…….almost.

A few months later, the X-men get in on the action of hero versus hero.  Famous 80s and 90s hero Bishop turns rogue (not Rogue, as she is a female X-man) on his team and tries to kill a baby.  Hopefully they took his hero card for that one.

Then we got Secret Invasion.  Please note, all four of these stories happened in a span of two years.  Now, in theory, Secret Invasion has a bad guy: the Skrulls!  Shape-shifting aliens bent on global conquest.  Definitely NOT a story where you have heroes fighting heroes.  Except for the fact that shape-shifting villains were disguised as the heroes, so fans could still see their favorite heroes punching and kicking and eye-gouging each other every month of this story.  And when you realize half the time it was the heroes fighting the heroes because they thought they were the shape-shifting alien villains…..at this point my head begins to spin.

Still, when all was said and done, fans finally had to wait for two years to see their favorite heroes fighting each other again.  But then, Shadowland happened and the Netflix superhero Daredevil beat up a bunch of not so super-superheroes.

In 2011, fans had two opportunities to read Marvel’s one storyline.  In Fear Itself, an ancient evil transformed several Marvel heroes and villains into his evil tools and unleashed marvelous chaos on the Marvel Universe.  And the X-men, the team of the 90s, fought it out in Schism, in which perennial bad boy of the X-men, Wolverine, is revealed to actually be the good boy of the X-men and former boy scout troop leader of the X-people Cyclops is outed as Marvel’s new favorite anti-hero.

And it’s just in time because the next year sees him lead his team of no longer merry mutants against the Avengers in Avengers vs. X-men.  For anyone keeping score, this was the eighth such story in six years.  This time, the Phoenix force, which caused Marvel’s most famous hero versus hero storyline of all time, returned to earth and possessed new heroes.  Cyclops, possessed bad boy, kills his mentor and ends up in jail.

A year later, Age of Ultron happened.  Now, much like Secret Invasion, this story hardly seems to be a case of hero versus hero at first glance.  Instead, evil robot Ultron finally conquers Earth……in the future.  Future Avengers decide the best way to stop Ultron is to send a hero, no longer trophy bad boy Wolverine, into the past and have him kill Hank Pym, the hero who created Ultron.  Hero kills hero…..check!

2014 once again saw two stories of hero versus hero rage.  In Original Sin, not at all to be confused with Identity Crisis, someone kills the Watcher.  Marvel heroes search all over and fight with each other over who might have been involved, only to find out former hero (instead of a hero’s wife…..I see what you did there Marvel!) Nick Fury killed the Watcher.  A few months later saw Axis, a story all about making heroes fight heroes again.  Which was good.  Because after 11 times in 8 years, people might have forgotten what Marvel comics was all about.

I debate whether to include Secret Wars, in which some Marvel heroes team up with Doom to save the Marvel Universe.  This leads to everyone fighting everyone.  But I won’t count it because in theory, it could be construed as an alternate reality, I think?

So here we are in 2016.  Marvel Studios has just released what everyone will tell you is the greatest superhero movie of all time!  This is your chance to watch your favorite heroes beat each other and it’s really serious.  It’s so serious, in fact, that Marvel has decided to publish a comic book tie-in series, Civil War II. It’s a story so good that they had to tell you twelve times!


DC’s biggest problem

24 Nov


Recently, my favorite comics blogger, Chris Sims, wrote about “the problem.”  According to him, DC has, since the 60s, wanted to be Marvel.  I will be honest and say he creates a compelling case.  On the other hand, I don’t quite agree with him, although I do believe it is VERY much the problem today. 

I began reading comics religiously during the late eighties to the mid-nineties.  I consider this to be a Renaissance in DC Comics history.  The Justice League International was a breath of fresh air.  And although Marvel had filled the Avengers with b string characters, the chemistry in the League titles was much more entertaining.  Mark Waid’s Flash was unlike anything else on the stands and still today, twenty years later, is considered a milestone in superheroic literature.  Robinson’s Starman was similarly groundbreaking.  In L.E.G.I.O.N., readers saw a team led by a Machiavellian master. Karl Kesel was introducing me to Kirby’s concepts in the best Superboy run ever.  Add to that Giffen’s 5YL Legion, the death of Superman, and the rebirth of the Justice Society, and DC was on a roll!

On the other hand, at the time, Marvel was experiencing a lull in excitement.  This was the age of the Spider-clone, a noseless Wolverine, and Liefield on Captain America and the Avengers.  Now, admittingly, Busiek soon returned to save the Avengers and Mark Waid came on the Fantastic Four.  But this was the era that Marvel went bankrupt, ladies and gentlemen. 

And this is actually the problem.  This is the time period that DC has really decided to base their New 52 concept on.  Let’s take a quick peak at the “creators” involved.  Jim Lee, who helped Liefield spearhead Heroes Reborn, is one of DC’s two publishers.  At the same time, he has been the artist on Justice League, DC’s flagship title, and is currently do art chores on Superman Unchained. He’s the guy who said undies on the outside of Superman’s pants was embarrassing, but then decided to throw all kinds of random lines on the uniform itself, so it is some kind of odd “glowing armor.”  Liefield worked on several titles in the new 52 which still blows my mind.  And Scott Lobdell, the man behind many of Marvel’s X-events of the 90s which helped lead to an over-saturation of Wolverine and X-people, is the guy in charge of the Super-franchise today.  He has brought us such gems as H’El, completely screwing up Superboy (a character who experienced some of the best writing of the last twenty years), turning Starfire into a slut sadly, and helped make Tim Drake, arguably the most popular Robin of all time, actually never have been a Robin in the first place. 

And if all of that was not enough, DC has actually brought in Bob Harras, the editor in chief of Marvel when they went bankrupt, to be the editor in chief.  He has been the eic since 2010 which featured the end of my DCU and the birth of the new 52.  I will say that not all of the new 52 has been a trainwreck but much of it has been. 

To me, the problem isn’t that DC has always wanted to be Marvel.  The comics industry has always been, for lack of a better term, incestuous.  The guys who created the DCU later left to write for Marvel.  The man largely responsible for creating the Marvel Universe (Kirby) worked for DC in the Golden Age and returned to create the Fourth World after creating the Marvel U. Marvel’s Civil War borrowed elements from DC’s Legends, twenty years earlier.  And DC’s Kingdom Come would never have happened were it not for Marvels.  Instead, the “problem” is that DC is NOW very interested in becoming Marvel.  And not just Marvel from any period in its vast history.  But instead, it wants to be Marvel right at the moment of bankruptcy.  My mind reels at this thought.   

More News for 2013!

10 Jan

Two bits of news were announced yesterday that interested me.  The first was that Marvel led last year in both dollar sells and total units of comic books sold in 2012.  I immediately thought that wasn’t news.  Basically that has been the story the entire time I have read comic books since the late eighties and early nineties. 

But then it hit me that last year was the first big year of DC’s new 52 and DC won almost each month’s top ten sells and many months’ total figures.  So I decided to research the list.  I reviewed the top 366 books on the list.  187 of the top selling books of 2012 were DC comic books.  Meanwhile, 166 of the books were Marvel.  In other words, DC dominated the top of the chart.  Marvel, meanwhile, had Avengers VS X-Men, a major story, and the beginning of Marvel NOW, a soft reboot of things.  Plus, Marvel books are frequently more expensive than DC books.  For example, Amazing Spider-man 700 was $7 which was two dollars more than DC’s annuals, the most expensive regular books DC published.  All in all, I consider it a good year for DC and Marvel both.  Everyone else in the industry?  They didn’t do so well.  And this is in a year where everyone was talking about Saga which I guess did ok . 

The other big thing in comic books was the announcement of Lego Marvel Universe!  Now, I have no great love for Marvel Comics.  I enjoy their movies and games though.  And I love LEGO games!  So this excites me to no end!  But the best part of that story?  Warner Bros owns Traveler’s Tales which produces the Lego games.  So basically, DC’s parent company is publishing a game for Marvel.  My head is ready to explode!  I plan on writing more about this soon. 

Ten Reasons Why the DC is the Comic Universe to Read

30 Jun

Newsarama is one of my favorite comic book sites.  Usually, I find it to be a breath of fresh air for comics related news.  This week, though, I read an article that drove me insane, called “Ten Best Things About the Current Marvel Universe.”  Although I don’t care about Marvel comics, I try to keep up on what’s going on and thought I would enjoy it.  But this article highlighted why Marvel is a better comics universe than DC.  This kind of article always gets under my skin, so here is my response highlighting ten reasons the DCU is better than Marvel. 

10) Marketing – DC has found a way to reach out to audiences in new and exciting ways.  When was the last time you saw an actual commercial advertising a comic book?  I saw one last year.  It was the first time I ever recall seeing one.  It advertised DC’s new 52.  I have read comics for over 20 years now and only once have I seen the world react to comics this way.  And then “Before Watchmen” came out and it all started over again.  DC is storming the video game industry (Arkham City), movies (Dark Knight Rises), cartoons (Young Justice), etc.  I am thrilled!

9) A Big World – Many people like to brag that Marvel’s comics take place in “the real world.”  Almost the entire Marvel universe takes place in New York.  Yes, DC’s major cities are fictional. Metropolis, Gotham, and Coast City all are imaginary place.  But each have their defining characteristics that are important.  But even more simply, I know that if Skrulls are invading New York City, that they aren’t really there.  So how is Marvel the “real world?”

8) The Newsarama article commented on how the Marvel universe has been bumping up their young characters.  Though this doesn’t exactly excite me now that I am 31 and a father of 3, DC has done the same thing.  There are two Legion books, Superboy, Supergirl, several books starring Robins, Batgirl, the Teen Titans, Ravagers (starring Gen13 characters), etc.  DC has made sure the youth are represented for the future. 

7) The article also pointed out that the Marvel Universe is familiar.  This is a major selling point, I will admit.  I preferred the classic DCU, but the new universe is intriguing.  I am getting the chance to explore a new universe with twists on classic characters.  Some of what is happening could have happened in the regular DCU while other characters have changed completely.  Some have succeeded while some have failed.  But it’s all new which has my curiosity piqued.

6) We aren’t the only ones getting to know of these characters.  So are they.  For example, the recent issue of Justice League featured Cyborg explaining the different weaknesses that each character has.  Green Lantern was shocked to find out some of the information.  Flash is getting to know his supporting cast, as is Wonder Woman.  Each character is getting the chance to reveal in a new world.  This is a very different universe. 

5) The classic DCU had an amazing list of creators whose works have contributed to it.  The DCU is built on works by Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, Gardner Fox and the like.  Alan Moore’s works still influence Green Lantern and Swamp Thing.  Kirby’s New Gods have influenced the start of the Justice League.  The DCU may be new, but it is heavily influenced by comics’ greatest stars. 

4) Currently DC is featuring amazing work by Jeff Lamire, Scott Synder, and Geoff Johns.  These men will hopefully helm the DC universe to a new level.  Lamire’s Animal Man and Synder’s Swamp Thing have created a dark undercurrent to the universe.  Lamire and Johns’ Justice League titles promise to dominant the universe.  The Green Lantern books are full of excitement. 

3) The multiverse is in bloom.  It has always been a major part of DC’s history and I am thrilled to see it becoming an actual part of DC’s publishing arm again.  The DC universe is BIGGER than any other comics universe out there.  Books occur across the multiverse.  Meanwhile, time is a major part of the DCU.  Some books are in the distant past while others are in the future. Marvel doesn’t have the scope that DC does right now. 

2) Marvel has always claimed it was the house of ideas.  Currently, that idea is all war all the time.  From Civil War, to Dark Reign, Avengers vs Xmen, the focus has been war from start to finish.  And this week, Marvel announced there next big storyline.  Titled?  War!

DC on the other hand is trying all sorts of new concepts currently.  One of my favorites is Demon Knights.  It features a medieval big seven and is unlike any other book on the market.  Frankstein, Agent of Shade is an insane book of crazy concepts.  And every few months, the publisher announces some new type of book.  DC is where the ideas are found right now!

1)      Finally, though, DC is still home to the best characters in comic books.  Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Flash are classic characters that highlight just what comics are all about.  Aquaman has an edge for the first time in years. 

 I know people love Marvel and its characters.  I don’t blame them.  But DC is home to the most interesting characters and the most interesting universe out there.  And right now, you get in on the ground floor of a totally new universe.  Give it a shot!

Review of the Avengers

6 May

I love the concept of dualism.  I don’t specifically mean that philosophical notion of dualism but I enjoy the idea that things in culture easily break down into two large camps.  Good against evil.  Light versus dark.  Pepsi to coke.  Republicans over Democrats.  And finally, the focus of this blog usually, DC and Marvel.  Now, I have made no qualms of my love for DC and I am very apathetic to Marvel.  That said, I am always happy to see any comic get its day in the pop culture sunlight because I believe it will help comics all over.  So my excitement over the Avengers movie has been building slowly over the last few years. 

I have to say the movie is almost everything you could hope for in a comic book movie.  Next to the Dark Knight, I am even willing to say it is probably the best one out there.  The cast is fantastic. If you have watched the previous movies (Iron Man I and II, Captain America, and Thor), you know that the actors play their roles wonderfully.  I personally think Iron Man steals any scene he is in and the director wisely has him as the “main” character, if any could be considered the main hero.  They also wisely let Captain America lead the team as he should.  The biggest surprise to me though was that the Hulk has two of the best scenes in the movie.  They are quick but brilliant.  Ruffalo, who I have always been a fan, plays Banner brilliantly and I am glad to see Marvel has settled on an actor for him.  And like most recent superhero movies, it has a peek at the next movie, which excites me. 

Like any good crossover story, there are fights between the various heroes.  Thor’s fight with the Hulk was all it could be expected to be.  There was some vocal disagreements also which played out very well.  And SHIELD looks like it will not always be on the side of the angels which works for me. 

Unlike most reviewers though I don’t think it is perfect though.  For one thing, if you haven’t watched the previous movies, especially Thor, you will probably not understand the beginning of the movie or why it really matters.  The movie also decides to do a variation of “bullet time” or “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” at times.  This irritated me usually, though during certain moments (climax), I could see the reasoning.  The humor was great but at times seemed a little forced.  Finally, the reaction between Cap’s shield and Thor’s hammer stretched my belief. Perhaps in universe there is an explanation, but like I said, I stick to DC’s books.  Finally, the aforementioned peek may not interest people who don’t know who these characters are. 

None of the problems hurt the film.  It is a solid 9 out of a 10 I believe.  It’s a rare movie that I immediately wished to see again.  My hope that Dark Knight Rises will be the best movie of the year is shaken, but I believe it will be.  And the entire time I was watching this, all I could think of is “Where’s my Justice League movie?”