A Letter to Zack Synder

March 27, 2016

Dear Zack Synder,

There were doubts when the first trailer for The Man of Steel debuted. You were the director of Watchmen, which I liked. But you were also the director of the zombie abomination remake, Dawn of the Dead. 300 was too homoerotic even for me (and I love me some good homoeroticism), and, from what I saw, it seemed like an ok movie. A lot of my friends seemed to love it, so maybe it was good. But you were also the director of Sucker Punch, which marked the first movie I walked out of since Corky Romano. But I wanted to believe. I hoped you would take a subject as sensitive as Superman and unleash something beautiful to the world. After all, DC/WB was losing a legacy with the closing of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Who would take up the mantle with Nolan’s departure? Who would bring forth a new era of DC comic superhero films that will remain in the nitty-gritty realism of the Nolanverse?

There were a few issues. I wouldn’t be a fan of comic books if there weren’t a few issues. Aside from the obvious father-killing tornado, the main issue was the overuse of power. I praised the use of Kal-El’s power on Earth. You showed the world that a Superman based in reality would be terrible for the world, especially if other Kryptonians survived. The battle in Metropolis left the entire city in a pile of rubble and destruction. And the finale showed us just how far Superman would go to save its people (you know, if you ignore the leveling of an entire city) by snapping Zod’s head. He didn’t want to; he had to. Otherwise, Zod would continue. He’d kill again and again, and no prison on this planet could hold him. And sending him back into the Phantom Zone was out of the question because the other survivors were sent back, and that idea only worked once.

Superman destroyed a city, killing and maiming thousands. That’s how we saw it. Even though the Kryptonians were at fault for most of the destruction, we only focused on the final battle as Zod and Kal-El threw each other into building after building, using their powers to level buildings; we focused on the mayhem. And what did you do when we called you out on altering our favorite boy scout? You sniveled. You whined. You shouted how you couldn’t understand how we still held onto the idea of a Christopher Reeve Superman when your Man of Steel was way better.

And as if a love letter to yourself and a testament to your awesomeness, you decided that you wanted to ruin more heroes by dragging them down to a Michael Bay level of destruction. You focused more on what these heroes and villains could destroy and only glossed over their humanity. With Ben Afflect’s Batman firing at will, killing bad guys, blowing shit up, and Superman’s inability to see past Lois Lane, doing whatever he can to prove himself a human while failing to do so time and time again, your ultimate stage match is falling on deaf ears. While superhero flicks are no strangers to violence, most still focus on the story. Most still focus on how the heroes are relatable. Most don’t level cities and hope the civilians below forget.

Two years after the events of The Man of Steel, the only person who remembers the battle of Metropolis is Bruce Wayne, but he’s too busy trying to infiltrate Lex Corps and crack the mystery of these so-called Metahumans. You were giving an opportunity to one up the folks at Marvel, and you lost sight of the goal. You figured that if Captain America and Iron Man were going to put up their dukes against each other, why not DC’s greatest gladiators?

You throw CGI sequence after CGI sequence to tell a story that falls flat. It falls flat because it’s a huge middle finger to your critics. Rather than listening, you continue to insist that you’re growing Superman’s character and reintroducing the world to a Dark Knight no one recognizes while you jam a clusterfuck of information and prophecies that get lost in translation. It’s like you took a cue from the folks who ruined The Amazing Spider-Man movies by building something much larger than we can imagine and fail to deliver. The only problem being, of course, is that you’re set to deliver. Warner Bros. is up against Marvel, and they’re not going to back down. My only fear is that you’ll remain attached as director and set fire on the DC universe one character at a time. At least Joss Whedon knew when to call it quits.

The Collection of the Gently Mad

June 21, 2015

The first collection I recall keeping consisted of my baby teeth. I kept them inside a small glass jar which I tucked away in a drawer. Most children placed their fallen teeth beneath their pillows. I did this once and the Tooth Fairy left me some money. She also left my tooth behind. Into the jar it went. Not all my baby teeth made it into the jar. Just the ones that weren’t swallowed or lost down a drain. I don’t recall why or when the collection started. And I don’t remember when it ended, or what happened to the jar.

Throughout the years I have collected many things. I collected pebbles, stones, and rocks. Pogs and comics and cards. I owned an array of marbles. Kept business cards in a plastic sandwich bag. Fliers and posters for events I never intended to attend. I archived the letters written to me. I kept letters found in public places where former romantics accidentally dropped them. I owned several half-filled marbled composition notebooks filled with adolescent poetry. Journals are tucked away throughout the house. Some forgotten, others carried with me wherever I venture.

Bookshelves, Shaun's toys, and a foot.

Shelves

I am nothing short of a hoarder. Step into my house and you’ll see nothing but the sickness, this gentle madness, encoded into my literary DNA. There are four boxes of unread comic books stacked besides the collection I started a year ago. I have shelves upon shelves of books. Half of which remain unread. Some of these books were gifts. Most were purchased on whim. They come from many places. From boxes outside professors’ offices. From a withdrawn shelf at the university library. From recycle bins. From Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Better World Books. Several from Hastings during their last days in McAllen, Texas.

I purchased books because their covers called to me. Because there was an itch that needed scratching. Because they were written by authors I’ve come to love. Or authors that I want to love. Or authors who are loved by those I love. Some were purchased to fill an emotional void. Others were purchased by suggestion or recommendation or after reading an article about the writer or a review of the book. I purchased books for research. To educate myself further. To find my center. Because I watched a movie or TV show based on it. Or because an upcoming movie was adapted from a novel that just seemed right up my alley. Once I purchased a book on the sole reason that a girl was reading it in class.

Hanns Bohatta said it best: “The bibliophile is the master of his books, the bibliomaniac their slave.”

Of the two, which am I? Was the ever a time when I controlled these impulses? Can I say that I am the master of my library? Can I say it honestly? Have I always been its slave?

I never stole a book. Not really, anyway. Some were given to me after being liberated from a library. Some were borrowed and never returned. I’m not willing to throw down money for a signed first edition of a classic text. I’m not about to spend a life’s savings on a framed sheet from a manuscript written by James Joyce or Ernst Hemingway or Sylvia Plath. My addition hasn’t reached those extremes. My career choices will never make those fantasies a reality should they ever come to fruition. It’s simple: I buy books to own books.

I shop sales. Take advantage of memberships and free shipping and discounted prices. I hit bargain bins and tables. Lust after three-for-two deals. Kept track when local libraries held sales. I buy used copies of hardcovers or softcovers, but do my best to stray away from mass market paperbacks; they cannot handle my affection or my abuse.

Unboxed comics beside collection

Unread comics

Of all my collections, my library is the newest and, by far, the most rewarding. Those that I have read have molded my prose, my thoughts, my ideals and ideas. I borrowed personality traits and philosophies, making them my own. They have suggested music and movies and other books, which I come to love and adore. My library ranges from the literary to the realms of fantasy and horror. Graphic novels and comic trades and manga stand beside Joyce Carol Oates and T.C. Boyle and Umberto Eco. There are old college text books, not all of them mine. The cheap shelves purchased from Walmart curve sa they exceed the recommended weight. There are small stacks in my bedroom. There are more making it to my lists. Some I’ve already pre-ordered. I subscribed to Comic Bento just to see what it’s like.

What’s the endgame though? As Nicholas A. Basbanes put it: “Whatever the involvement, however, every collector inevitably faces the same harsh reality. After years spent in determined pursuit, a moment arrives when the precious volumes must pass to other shelves. Some accept the parting with calm and foresight; other ignore it entirely. Some erect grand repositories as monuments to their taste; others release their treasures with the whispered hope that they reach safe harbor in the next generation.”

There will come a time when I’m faced with the decision. And I am uncertain of how I’ll respond. Am I the master, or just the slave?

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