Tagged: Marvel

The Missed Opportunities of Iron Fist

(photo credit: Netflix)

Enough time has passed that if you were going to watch Iron Fist and care about spoilers, you have probably done that…but, you know, if you do care, maybe read this later.

Does Iron Fist really deserve the panning it’s getting?  Ehhhhhh, maybe, maybe not. But with the bar set so high from the other Marvel Netflix series, Iron First comes off as a master class of missed opportunities and poor choices. Much has already been written about Danny Rand’s casting.  Yes, Iron First is white in the comics. Could that have been changed? Absolutely. Would the show have been better served by having an actual martial artist as the title character? Heck yes, but that’s not the missed opportunity that I’ll be talking about.  Rather, Marvel had a chance to turn the tables on a privileged white male protagonist, and they let that opportunity wane. Continue reading

Review: Mockingbird Vol. 1

Talking about feminism can be a complex issue. Over the years, there have been different definitions and movements, but put most simply it can be distilled down to the belief in equality between men and women and the rights that go along with it. It’s not a new concept, and it serves as a backbone for the very blog you are reading right now. So when an author is harassed off Twitter for writing a character who wears an “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” t-shirt on the cover, I made it a point to not only read Chelsea Cain’s Mockingbird comic, but to also review it for you guys.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time focusing on the Twitter incident, except to take pleasure in the amount of support Cain received from the comics community. It brought a lot of attention to a book that in many ways had been under the radar. As a result, it shot to number one on Amazon and I got to discover one of the most unusual books I have read in a long time.

Mokingbird Vol 1

Copyright Marvel

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Comic Characters You Should Get to Know: Misty Knight

All right, by now, you hopefully had a chance to watch the Netflix series Luke Cage and at least have some idea who Misty is. If you haven’t and you want to remain 100% spoiler-free, maybe go set up some binge watching time and come back to this later. Otherwise, read on and consider this a bit of a character primer on the comics version of Misty, which will hopefully give you some more background and get you even more interested in this kick-ass lady.

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Smalerie Reads: Comics for Arbor Day

By this time both Arbor Day and Earth Day have come and gone.  But just because it wasn’t my week to post, it doesn’t mean that I don’t intend to milk these holidays for another one of my blog posts where I read holiday themed comics.  Move over Valentine’s Day, it’s about to get very green up in here.

 

 

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Batman: Harley and Ivy, Paul Dini and Others

I will admit that I had a hard time finding a good Poison Ivy story that wasn’t her origin and didn’t paint her as a rather flat character whose personality is just being sexy and loving plants.  Gotham City Sirens does at times show her as a brilliant scientist, but I ended up going with this comic because based on the other Paul Dini collections, I made the assumption that this was going to be great.  Well, no one is perfect.  Not me, not the authors or artists, and certainly not this book.  In fact, I would argue that this book highlights everything I tried and failed to avoid in my search for a good Poison Ivy story.

The problem with blatant fan service is that it has a way of pulling me right out of a story.  Suddenly something that seemed kinda fun feels lazy, cheap, and in some cases alienating to the female audience.  I’m not saying that everything about this book is trash, but when the writers go out of the way to provide story lines that are based on a bet over who can kiss the most men, having conversations while posing in their underwear, and having cat fights while naked in the shower, it can be hard for me not to wonder what the real purpose of this book was.  I am not against sexy characters or fun, but it is disheartening when those are the only stories you can find.

That being said, this is at times a pretty cute book with a few warm friendship moments between Harley and Ivy.  And as always, I was thrilled to see a lot of Bruce Timm’s animated style.  I don’t think this book is anything I want to keep in my collection or read again, but I will probably still be drawn to other collections involving Dini and Timm in the future.  I just might be a bit more choosey in the future.

 

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The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Alan Moore

I realize that Swamp Thing might be an obvious choice for this article, but I picked this book because I love it so much.  There are certain books out there that are game changers – books that are important and iconic because they’ve done something new and breathed new life into the medium.  Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one of those books.  In this volume, not only has Moore created a way of storytelling that would influence generations of writers, but the stories themselves are creepy and engaging.

While Moore’s writing can at times be everything from poetic and grand to overwrought and grandiose, it is hard to deny that this volume (and the rest of Moore’s run) provides riveting commentary on the world around us.  Swamp Thing’s story tackles not just the environment (though that is Swamp Thing’s specialty), but also manages to hold a mirror to the human condition and the reflection isn’t always the most flattering.

The only real negative to this book is that the older art style might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  This is especially true if you are used to the more grounded or whimsical looks that can be found in a lot of comics now.  I could make the argument that the style is pitch perfect for the tone of the book, but perhaps it is time that I stop gushing and just move on to the last book in this article.

 

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Groot, Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger

When a character suddenly becomes very popular as a result of a recent movie or TV show, it’s pretty common that the company is going to pump out a lot of junk to capitalize on the character before people move on to the next thing.  I’m happy to say that this book is an exception to that practice. Sure, it might not be something that we are going to be talking about years from now, but this story about an intergalactic road trip gone wrong is pretty fun.

What I loved best about this book is how cartoon-y and animated the art style is.  The drawings show a lot of movement and faces that are both expressive and almost gummy.  Ok, I realize that isn’t the best description here, but you can tell that Kesinger has an animation and Disney background. I could spend days just looking at his drawings of Rocket’s annoyed mugging.

The story itself, while thin and filled with a lot of happy coincidences, is fun enough to not really care.  Rocket and Groot’s friendship is highlighted without laying it on too thick and we are given more opportunities to see what a lovable goof Groot can be.  So yeah, you aren’t going to get much complaining from me.

 

Any great titles I missed out?  Got a good Poison Ivy book you can recommend for me?  Just annoyed that I missed the obvious chance to write about Star Wars comics on May the 4th?  Chime in below and be heard!

 

Comic Characters You Should Know: Jessica Jones

The Jessica Jones Netflix series is set to start on November 20. While Daredevil has shown us that you don’t need to be familiar with the source material to enjoy the show, it’s sometimes nice to get some background on a character.  I guess it should be said, if you haven’t already read the comics, and you want to go into the show completely fresh, you may want to skip this post.  But I am trying to keep things higher level so as not to unwittingly spoil.

Jessica Jones is a Marvel character who appears primarily in 2 comic series, Alias, and The Pulse.  I read them both and hooo boy are they different.

Alias

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Alias was a 28 issue series back in the early 2000’s. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Alias was the title that launched Marvel’s Max comic line.  The Max books are R-rated, darker, rougher, NOT ALL AGES and Alias jumps into that headfirst. Jessica Jones was a new character, created explicitly for this series.  When we are introduced to her, right away we realize she’s far step away from other female characters we have seen in the comic world.  Jessica is a super-powered human, but she’s is not a superhero.  As the owner and only employee of PI firm Alias Investigations, Jessica is a hard drinker, a chain smoker, who curses like a sailor raised by a truck driver.  She’s angry, and paranoid, and doesn’t suffer fools for a moment.  You want to talk damaged characters?  Jessica is a human train wreck.  And that’s what’s so great about her.  She’s not one of the bright eyed, impossibly coiffed, female characters who were (still are?) prevalent in comics.  She’s how you feel on your darkest days when you have completely lost your way so badly that you can’t determine what’s good from what’s not.

So I debated talking about “that scene.”  I will, but I am going to keep it very brief.  Yes, in the first few pages there is a sex scene that implies Jessica is well, adventurous. Less than being character building,  I took it as a way to show “hey, these aren’t comics code comics.”  To my read it’s consensual so that’s all I’m going to say about it.  We are all grown ups here.

Consent is actually a big theme in Jessica’s story. The big deal is less what she consents to, but rather how she loses free will and the effect it has on her. This is the real crux of her story. When we meet Jessica she is working as a private investigator in the superhero world, have firmly retired from costumed hero-ing.  The first 4 story arc in the series have Jessica using what she learned in her hero days to work on cases that don’t necessitate Avengers-level attention, but do take someone with the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that Jessica has.  We don’t learn the specifics of why Jessica has retired until the last story arc where both her origin and why she got out of the superhero game is revealed.

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The story line, “Purple,”give us a look at Jessica’s main foe, Zebediah Killgrave, The Purple Man.   Admittedly, naming a villain The Purple Man is kinda doofy.  But his powers of pheromone-based mind control make him one of the more frightening characters in the Marvel universe.  Mind control powers are not new, but there is something particularly insidious about Killgrave, and how his powers work, that make him particularly damaging.

The Pulse

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The Pulse is less about Jessica and more about The Daily Bugle newspaper.  It’s the shiny, slick, and frankly, antiseptic follow-up to Alias that continues to follow Jessica’s story among other happenings at the Bugle.  The Pulse is not a Max series and therefore the tone is completely different from Alias.  Or at least that’s what I am going to blame it on since the writer is the same.  Jessica is no longer a private eye, she’s sort of a roving lifestyle reporter for “The Pulse,” the superhero section of the Bugle. Also, Jessica is pregnant.

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Yup, she’s pregnant.  Did I mention she’s pregnant?  Don’t worry, she mentions it on almost every page, so you know, you’ll figure it out eventually.  Pregnancy has apparently changed Jessica from a well-developed character with nuances, into a woman with super abilities who is pregnant.  And that seems to be about it, there is very little left of the Jessica we saw in Alias.  I really really like damaged, paranoid, angry Jessica.  She was real.  This new version is so generic that I swear, when I picked up the book after a week-long reading break, I didn’t even realize the character on the page was supposed to be her (which is commentary on the art and the story)!  Yeah, The Pulse is pretty disappointing.

So, if you feel like reading, I recommend you spend some time with Alias, and skip The Pulse.  From the previews it looks like the Netflix series is going more along the Alias route anyway.  Which is great since my hope for the show is that was get a nuanced female character who tries to battles her demons and maybe finds her way to the other side without losing everything she was.

Boston Comic Con 2015- Haley Atwell Panel

Agent-Carter-poster-570x760This year (2015) Boston Comic Con handled the big name guest panels a little differently.  Attendees had to get online tickets (no charge) for seats.  I think this worked pretty well and kept you from having to line up hours before a panel to get a seat.  It did however require some pre-planning. Thanks to The Goog, who went online to get tickets as soon as they went up while I was driving us to NH, we were able to attend the Haley Atwell panel late on Sunday.  If you are reading this you likely know that Atwell plays Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel Universe.  She has been in both the Captain America movies, and her own Agent Carter series, which is getting second season.

When the panel started we found there was a special bonus, Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) was joining Atwell in the panel and doing some moderating.  After the “Hail Hydra’s” died down once Dalton took the stage, the first question he teasingly asked Atwell was “What’s your favorite color?”  She responded with a snarky, “I don’t have one, I’m not 6.”  But in case you are wondering, Dalton’s favorite is blue.

Atwell is just as lovely, funny, and delightful as you might assume.  When asked if she thought playing Peggy would take off the way it has, she said she had no idea.  Really, she said she just wanted to be able to smell Chris Evans… and Dalton chimed in, “Don’t we all?!” Continue reading

Daredevil: A Netflix not so Hidden Gem

WARNING:  This post contains mild spoilers for the Netflix series Daredevil.  While I won’t be revealing major plot points I will be talking about the series in terms of things I liked and or noticed about the look, feel and characters.  If you wanted to stay 100% spoiler free, you might not want to read this until you have finished watching.
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Netflix has figured out how to stay relevant in an ever-changing media landscape.  If you have seen House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt you know that they have made some really good content that people want to see. They have also made it affordable (I think we pay $18 a month) and easy to do. If you are reading this post you are likely aware of the deal Netflix has made with Marvel to create various series featuring Marvel street level defenders Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage (Power Man), and Danny Rand (Iron Fist).  With the first of these series now available for public consumption, fans have had the chance to see Marvel characters on the small screen outside of network television’s control. Continue reading

Stealth Geek or 3 ways to let your geek flag fly at work without ending up in HR

If I actually lived by the advice “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” I would probably end up in my boss’s office explaining why I thought it was okay to wear an Iron Man suit to work (or maybe this).  Point being, as much as we want to show our fandom, there is a time and place and your 9-5 desk job isn’t always that place.

But never fear, it’s not all business casual or Ann Taylor Loft from here on out. There are ways to push the boundaries (especially on casual Friday) to let your geek flag fly even without wearing that super cool Captain America hoodie you got at Target.

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DC vs. Marvel In the Kitchen: Main Dish Main Event

Hey there food fight fans!  Hopefully you caught last week’s post where we put side dishes from the DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook (DSHSHC) and the The Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook (MMSC) head to head in a culinary cage match to see which was the most edible.  This week, the battle continues!  I, Tiny Doom, will be cooking for Marvel, while my culinary compatriot The Red Menace will be repping for DC.  The Goog continues his role as “The Watcher”, eater of horrible foods, and general good sport.

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DC vs. Marvel In the Kitchen: Side-Dish Showdown

Early in the days of this blog, I wrote a post about the DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook (DSHSHC), a slightly strange 1981 off-shoot of the DC marketing juggernaut. The post, about Batman’s dubious attempt at french toast, was popular enough that I wanted to do a sequel, but there needed to be a twist, something to draw you all back in. See, Marvel also has a cookbook, one that slightly predates the DC one, in fact – Stan Lee Presents: The Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook (MMSC).  This book doesn’t have a spin on health, like the DCE one.  Instead it seems more geared toward recipes kids would make with parental supervision.  This means easy recipes with a lot of pre-prepared ingredients (read: canned stuff).  I thought it would be fun to put these recipes head to head. Tiny Doom graciously offered to represent Marvel in this contest – we couldn’t afford a copy of the book, (which goes for an average of $100!) but the good folks at ScansDaily provided us with enough material to make it work.

So join us, won’t you, for a two-part battle royale to determine whether DC or Marvel reigns supreme – in the kitchen.

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