Umm . . . Comics!

So, I took it upon myself to write the comics post this week. Probably not the best idea, but we must evolve if we are to persist.

  • Melissa published us an awesome Ant Man post yesterday. It got comments. Obviously I couldn’t ask her for another post the very next day. Melissa’s time and attention are too valuable for me to do that.
  • David offered to put something together early in the day yesterday, but I decided it was time for me to just say “I’ve got it,” and do a goshdarn Wednesday post myself. Because David and Holly have la Geek Baby to mind, and they also have an awesome blog that needs to keep publishing.
  • Diana, just so you know, is reading a lot of comics lately. She has ideas and stuff. But she’s in the process of re-designing her blog and we all know how trying that is.
  • Luther, OMG. Has offered to do sci-fi comics posts for the asking here, given adequate notice.  But he’s busy busy busy right now. I’ll not dare ask a man for a sci-fi comics post when he’s just discovered hardwood flooring that isn’t up to code in his domicile. (Is “domicile” not one of the coolest words ever?)
  • Of course we’ll have more Ms. Marvel from Hannah — I probably need to go ahead and give Ms. Marvel a category if I haven’t already.

Anyhoo, we’re having a #DramaticSummer, and while I was supposed to be writing this post last night, I was getting up to some mischief on the other social media instead. Have a tweet.

Here is what we are left with. Today I tell you where I am with the comics. And I give you a list of five comics things I could write by the end of the year, if you are interested. No matter how you feel about all this, if you are still reading, you’re stuck with me today. I’m your substitute teacher.

I’m also the ringmaster of this particular circus. That means: It’s not my role to do the trapeze act nor tame the tigers. It’s my job to keep a few of you interested until the high-wire walkers are ready to take the stage again.

Go ahead and click “More.”

Continue reading

Review: Ant-Man

Ant-Man poster

Superheroes have been showing up on the big screen and TV for a few years now, so even if you don’t read comics you will recognise quite a few of the characters within the Marvel Universe. That said, I think many were sceptical about a superhero named ‘Ant-Man’ – I mean, it’s not the coolest superhero name in the world. But I think, after seeing this movie, Ant-Man will get a lot more love in the future. He’s funny, down to earth, and fights with everything he has to become a better father. What’s not to like? Add in the fact he’s engaging, relatable (he’s made some pretty big mistakes), and doesn’t take the whole superhero thing too seriously, and it’s all points in his favour.

So, Ant-Man – who is he? His name is Scott Lang, and in the movie he’s played by Paul Rudd, which probably helped in terms of getting people to the cinema, because Paul promises to bring the goods in terms of humour. Personally, I think it was an inspired choice, Scott Lang is hilarious in the comics, and this certainly reflected in the film. In this case, Rudd’s humour is definitely understated and, despite criticisms regarding a ‘dilution’ of his talents, I believe he hit the mark. The subtleties he brought to the role were what made it work, at least for me.

michael douglas

But, Rudd is not the only great casting choice. Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, and he demanded attention from the very first scene. He’s utterly convincing, and adds a coolness factor all of his own. Dr. Henry (Hank) Pym is the original Ant-Man, and though you don’t need to know that to watch or even enjoy the movie, it’s worth pointing out.

In the comics Scott Lang stole the suit to save his daughter and Hank allowed him to keep it. The film puts a slightly different spin on the theme, but fundamentally they didn’t stray far from the origin story. It means there’s something for everyone, which Marvel excels at. For those not familiar with the comics, they are introduced to a unique superhero, and for fans of Ant-Man, the writers stayed true to who Scott Lang is.

Scott

He’s a former cat-burglar, an idealistic campaigner recently released from prison, and a man down on his luck. He’s divorced, is fighting for custody rights to see his daughter, and the only job he can get is at Baskin Robbins (even then he has to lie about his identity). Despite managing to get himself sucked in to Pym’s plot to protect his inventions and prevent the Pym Particles (formula which alters the size and mass of objects and living things) from being released into the world, Scott still manages to show a keen intelligence, and skills worth bringing to the table.

As for being part of the Marvel Universe; there are subtle references built in, if you’re looking for them, and an appearance from an Avenger. A scene which is particularly well done, and one of the highlights of the movie. There are other highlights, of course, and it might seem odd, but they are definitely the scenes with the ants. Yes, this is undeniably helped by the excellent special effects, but still, when you see what Scott and Hank get these little guys to do – it’s wonderful to watch.

flying ant

So, you have humour, including excellent comic timing, an engaging hero who performs miraculous feats (in human size and when he’s shrinks). Mix that in with an unconventional army, a superior cast, great special effects, and you have yourself an extremely entertaining film.

What did you think? Have you seen the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Straight from the pages of Secret Wars XIII…

Cover to What If Venom possessed DeadpoolTired of your comics continuity coming apart? Of DC and Convergence, of Marvel and Secret Wars? Looking for a character who can effect real, lasting change? Who matters more than all the others? Then of course you are looking for none other than Deadpool, and the comic of choice this week is What If Venom Possessed Deadpool?

I originally picked up this comic because I was like “Hey, I like Venom and I like Deadpool.” But you’ll notice in the discussion to come there’s not a lot of Venom. Yeah… wasn’t really the relevant part of all of this! Venom, through the symbiote suit, is a connection to the original Secret Wars, which is the real point here!

What If? is a longstanding occasional Marvel comic, looking at (you guessed it) the “what ifs?” of comic events and happenings. However, it’s usually a bit more serious… this one is 100% parody. Possibly more percents.

So what happens? Continue reading

Time Runs Out – the Conclusion of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers (and the Marvel Comics Universe)

It was the spark that started the fire – a legend that grew in the telling.

At the beginning, it was an origin story. The rebuilding of the Avengers. The reconvening of the Illuminati. And with overtones reaching back to the beginning of the Marvel Universe.

The left is from Avengers - the right is from New Avengers. Also on http://comparativegeeks.tumblr.com/

The left is from Avengers – the right is from New Avengers.
Also on http://comparativegeeks.tumblr.com/

At the end, it’s the mirror of that story. The collapse of the Avengers. The Illuminati replaced by the Cabal. The end of the Marvel Universe.

Jonathan Hickman’s run writing Avengers and New Avengers has been a blast. I’ve blogged about it a good deal because it’s one of the main comics I have been following on a regular basis – although I have stepped down to reading it in the trade paperbacks/collected digital volumes. That said, I am here now because these two comics just released their last trade last week – the end of the four-trade, two-title saga called Time Runs Out, which led directly to the current Marvel Secret Wars and which ended the Marvel Comics Universe in a very real way.

Yes, it’s comics, it’ll probably come back. Still, for now, es ist kaput.

So how did we get there? Even if the why of the universe ending was corporate and marketing and business, the mechanism that got us there took about 100 comics. So what happened? Why did time run out?

A Quick Rundown of Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers

To make this a quick rundown, I am going to be sourcing things out to previous posts I have written. In these posts, I have a number of screencaps from the comics with some further explanation of things so it’s not just me I’m referring to, it’s the comics themselves.

At their heart, these were two parallel and competing stories. In Avengers, as in the image above, it’s a bit of a reboot/reforming of the Avengers team. A fresh start, a new beginning. With an expectation of greater threats: with a need for a bigger team. So an origin story of sorts there. Meanwhile, new “villains” (many of whom end up new Avengers), new problems, and new versions of “old” heroes – like a female Smasher and a new Hyperion. Meanwhile, with the larger backdrop of the villains and the big fight to come (Infinity, which I blogged in three parts), there is a larger narrative and origin story of the whole universe. Callbacks to a narrative of, essentially, the big bang.

In New Avengers, that story becomes one of universal death. Of the opposite of the big bang: a big collapse, with the whole universe collapsing at once. Which they get to see happening, multiple times: the entire multiverse (multiple universes) is collapsing, universe by universe dying. I included Mister Fantastic’s excellent explanation in my original review.

Thus, the dual character of life, and death, between the two stories, which I have found really cool, and which I talked about as one of the great themes in Hickman’s comics in generalContinue reading