Doldrums

A Letter to Zack Synder

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.

Books

Remembering Venom

It so happened that 1993 was a big year for me. Comic book wise, anyway. See that was the year Bane broke Batman’s back. It was the year that Superman died. And in the Marvel universe, Carnage escapes Ravencroft and wrecks carnage on a maximum level. It was also the year that my mother grew tired of the Toyota Corolla. Her eyes were set on a Chevy Cavalier. Mostly because it wasn’t a Toyota Corolla. Now, you may be asking yourselves what my mother’s choice in vehicles has to do with comic books. I’ll explain.

In 1993, I was ten years old. Just a few years before, I entered the world of comic book readers because there was simply nothing else for me to do. Unlike most boys my age, I showed no interest in sports. Going outside was something I did often, but not for the usual reasons. I didn’t climb trees, fences, or whatever. I lost myself into my own imagination. An imagination, mind you, deeply influenced by the books and stories I read. And like most boys entering the world of comic books, my first title was about a certain web-slinging superhero. And like any early reader of Spider-Man in the 1990s, his antithesis—also of the web-slinging type—stole my heart away.

So when my mother decided that she was getting a new car, she volunteered yours truly to accompany her. I had certain conditions in order for me to go willingly. Close to the car dealership stood a comic book store. We spoke it over and it was settled. She would purchase me two titles in order to keep me entertained while she struck a deal with a car salesman who wore way too much cologne. So 1993 will go down in history as the year I received my very first Venom title—Venom: The Madness.

Now I don’t know how it is these days. If Marvel even still publishes Venom titles, it’s not known to me. Back in the ’90s, though, Venom didn’t have an ongoing series. Instead, Venom was given a limited release series usually in the form of a three-issue story arcs.

Twenty-one years have passed since that fateful day. That issue of Venom: The Madness and every title before and after have become a flicker in memory. When I discovered girls liked me, my comic book days ended as abruptly as they started. After several failed relationships, I found myself returning to the pastime of my youth. It’s like reuniting with an old friend after a twenty-year estrangement. There’s so much to catch up on, so many things different and new. Then one day, the library I work for received a shipment of comic book trades. The kid inside lit up with glee. Among these titles, a certain cover caught my attention. Venom: The Enemy Within. And like that, I returned to 1993.

The paperback trade collects three Venom titles—Funeral Pyre, The Madness, and Enemy Within—and a one-shot issue in which the Incredible Hulk makes an appearance. So many memories spun from the pages, filling me with nostalgia.

While comic artists have improved the way illustrations bring stories to life, nothing compares to the grit found in the pages of a 1990s title. Maybe it’s just the familiarity of it. The way Punisher’s perpetual stubble brings out his ruthlessness in a pre-political correct era in the pages of Funeral Pyre. Or the way Juggernaut gets off on his brute, physical force when dealing with Venom. Or the way you don’t see Demogoblin on may covers these days. Let’s not forget the wonderful slapstick comedy from the Incredible Hulk vs. Venom. How many kids would get the Hans and Franz reference these days?  Even the writing differs to the way things are done now. How many writers/editors break the fourth wall by referring the reader to a previous issue? Maybe it’s just nostalgia for me. Maybe it’s something more. I don’t know. The point is, reading these pages again brought the child in me. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll go bury myself in some more titles from my youth.

Venom: The Enemy Within is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Until next time, keep on huntin’.

Doldrums

New Comics, Ideas, King of the Nerds & the (Comic) Education of Angela (May Contain Spoilers)

I sit here before laptop as I watch the season finale of King of the Nerds. And I’m pouting. Neither Brian or Katie made it to the final-two showdown. The only two contestants that sparked my interest this season, and neither of them were nerdy enough. So here I sit, pouting. Tears streaming down my face. I care for neither Kayla or Jack (even though he defeated Zack). I can’t let this little slip up ruin my day. I won’t let it. Nope. Moving on.

My Purchases
My Purchases

Yesterday (being Wednesday) was new comic book day. Much to my disappointment, I found myself at work rather at the new comic book table. But I closed with Angela and I prefer closing with Angela than closing without Angela. Something occurred to me during our few hours alone together. (If you can consider a library filled with kids basking in Spring Break glory alone together.) She doesn’t get a lot of my references because they’re comic book related. Angela doesn’t read comic books. In the spirit of evil mastermind, I swiveled in my chair. “I’m going to make you a list,” I said. “A list of the essential comic story arcs you need to have read. It’s okay. I can lend you a lot of these.” I’m starting her off with Batman. I’m starting her off with Year One, The Killing Joke, and The Dark Knight Returns. However, my library lacks two of those titles. Lucky for Angela (and me), Barnes and Noble had both titles. I bought them without a second guess. I took a gander at Knightfall (also on my list), but opted I’m better off not spending the extra $30. (Trades are expensive, yo!) Maybe next week, after I find it for less online.

This is the picture
This is the picture

To make up for missing new comic book day, I ventured out with my family (Shaun in tow) to Myth Adventures. This wasn’t before stopping at some thrift store near by the house first. Now this place bought out the late local comic book store (I forget its name), which closed a while ago. So the comic books I expected to see here were from my youth. And I was right. It broke my heart to see the mishandling of these books. In all fairness, these are books from the 90s. Most of these haven’t risen past cover price in worth. Still, the manhandling of these issues appalled me. Several issues shoved in a single bag. Some lacked proper boarding. And their only copy of The Uncanny X-Men: Day of Future Past (see photo) brought a tear to my eye. The owner further smashed my hopes of owning this book by stating that it wasn’t for sale. “I don’t know how it got there to begin with,” he muttered as he snatched it from my grip. That motherfucker. That mook. That schlump. I did walk out with X-Men issue #80 and Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man issue #1. If worth anything, the nicks and dings diminish their value. Jay’s Discounter Emporium (not its real name, well, not the last word anyway) lost a costumer with me.

Skipping ahead, I took my niece to Myth Adventures to buy her first comic book. After much attempts to sway her vote toward The Powerpuff Girls, she chose a SpongeBob Square Pants comic. Me? I left with a killing. From IDW, I purchased The X-Files Conspiracy: The Crow, The Crow: Pestilence, and Monster & Madman. From Marvel Now, The Superior Spider-Man #29, Captain Marvel, Avengers Undercover and Secret Avengers. And the lone Antarctic Press book, Steampunk Red Riding Hood. Afterward, we went to Barnes & Noble where I bought The Killing Joke and Year One (the titles missing from my library).

My return to comic books is proving that I need another job. Or rather, a full-time job. Although, the past few days and idea has crawled into my head. Wouldn’t it be nice to open a business of my own? In fact, why not a business that amalgamated the things I treasure the most? An establishment that acts as a safe place for nerd, creative, and book fiend. It’s something that needs some looking into.

I finished Night of the Living Deadpool last night. But I surpassed seven hundred words already and I can feel your eyes growing heavy. Besides, I’m disappointed with the King of the Nerds finale. Not that I disliked the winner (no spoilers here, folks!), it’s neither Katie nor Brian (fuck, that’s a spoiler!). Until tomorrow.

I typed and edited this post with the Hemingway App.

Doldrums

Midtown Comics & More

I mentioned this—I’m sure I mentioned this, anyway. I mentioned in a previous post that I ordered the first three issues of Night of the Living Deadpool (Marvel) from Midtown Comics. For those of you who aren’t aware—because I wasn’t a few weeks ago—Midtown Comics is located in New York City. There’s also a stream of negative online reviews of the comic book establishment when it comes to shipping. I remained hesitant when I stared at my shopping cart before hitting checked out. A few days passed and fear seized my heart. Nightmares of bent shipping envelopes filled my sleep. I tossed. I turned. I woke up in a cold sweat. Shaun gave me a dad-get-a-grip-of-yourself look before turning over and falling back to sleep.

Just as I was getting into the car, the post officer drove up and blocked the drive way. That bastard! He pulled out an Amazon package—marked with Amazon Prime tape to boot. Fear seized me again. This sudden confrontation of having blacked-out-book-shopped gave me realization that I have a problem. Hold up, though. I never renewed my Amazon Prime subscription because I didn’t want to go broke. This is something else. But my name’s on it. So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there because—HOLD UP! WHAT’S THAT?! Another package. This one in cardboard envelope form. An unbent envelope, I must add. “I know what that is!” I shout, my voice thick with glee. The post officer—whose name I never learned even though he’s been our post officer guy for ages now—slammed the gas and sped off. Okay. That part’s a lie.

wpid-IMG_20140312_112635.jpg

I took up the bundle of mail crap because I can’t deal with that now. I took the Amazon package and my Midtown Comics order and headed for work. In the car—I wasn’t driving—I learned of the contents in of the Amazon package. This year Jeanna chose The Nightmare Before Christmas as Shaun’s birthday party theme. This is because our kiddo has taken to the Tim Burton classic. Even though, mind you, Tim Burton didn’t direct the version everyone knows. She shipped the package to my house on accident and forgot to tell me. That’s a load off my chest.

I get to work and open my Midtown Comics package and my Night of the Living Deadpool issues are in perfect condition. Well, near mint condition. That’s Midtown Comics’ description, anyway. Now I’m curious about my Heavy Ink subscription and orders. It’ll be another few weeks until those get shipped my way. I opted for a monthly delivery because I didn’t want to over pay with shipping.

After I complete the four-issue read, I’ll write my review in full. And perhaps, I’ll attempt finishing The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor to review it as well. I know. I’m late on that bandwagon, but I never said I’ll stay current with my reads.

This post was typed and edited using HemingwayApp.

Doldrums

And Even More About Comic Books

I mentioned—ad nauseam, I’m sure—my return to reading/collecting comic books. This is after a fourteen-year hiatus. This is after meeting girls and learning how to talk to them. This is after sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Comic book reading is, after all, my first love. My first plunge into literary works. Literary works, yeah. I don’t care much for the smug academia that disregards Watchmen as a literary work because it’s a graphic novel.
Since I started, I managed collect thirteen titles. They include: Harley Quinn (DC/the New 52), Magento (Marvel Now), Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel Now), Dexter Down Under (Marvel), Batman: The Joker’s Daughter (DC/the New 52), Evil Empire (Boom!), Moon Knight (Marvel Now), Revenge (Image), Veil (Dark Horse), Justice League 3000 (DC/the New 52), Auteur (Oni), Empire of the Dead (Marvel), and Night of the Living Deadpool (Marvel). Most of these are either new series, one-shots, stand-alone story arcs, or rebooted series. I find it easier to start off from scratch than it is to play catch-up with ongoing story lines. It’s also easier to weed out what isn’t going to work for me.
I took an interest to Harley Quinn, for obvious reasons. Because she’s the Clown Prince of Crime’s girlfriend. Though, she’s his ex now. And after the abysmal final season of Dexter turned me on to the comic heralded by his creator, Jeff Lindsay. The Joker’s Daughter, well, need I explain? George A. Romero’s Empire of the Dead takes place in the same realm of his movies (vampires added for garnish, I’m sure). I picked up Justice League 3000 for nostalgic reasons. It reminded me of the Marvel 2099 series. However, this book fell short of my expectations. Same goes for Auteur, though I’m still on the fence about what I expected from it. The artwork is reminiscent of the Adult Swim series, Super Jail. Moon Knight captured my attention. Magneto reintroduced me to my childhood. Although, I’m still having troubled accepting the bald super-villain-turned-antihero-turned-whatever-he-is-these-days.
However, this revisited venture is costing me money (who would have figured?). My last visit to Myth Adventures cost me $42; I purchased seven titles plus a storage box that cost me $8. The storage box, by the way, was a scam as I see no difference between the one I have and a regular white box. Well, outside of the aesthetic realm, anyway. I discovered Midtown Comics online. I ordered the first three issues of Night of the Living Deadpool from them (revising the first issue for the 1st printing). I learned after the fact that they have questionable shipping practices. I’ll cross my fingers in hopes that my comics come unbent. Along side them, I also found Heavy Ink (thank you online forums!). I subscribed to Harley Quinn and purchased the first four issues of Sex Criminals (Image) and Batman #28 (DC/the New 52). I hope their shipping practices are better. We’ll soon see.
I also have to learn how to bag and board my comics. I noticed some nicks on my Harley Quinn issues. I will have to replace them because my OCD won’t let it rest.

This post was written & edited using Hemingway App.

Doldrums

Return of the Nerd

Last Wednesday, Monica and I ventured out into the world of books and Chinese food. First stop is always Barnes and Noble, though this week we veered off course for breakfast tacos. Wiping out hands clean of any taco film, we hopped around the store searching for books we didn’t need but wanted anyway. I walked off with a mass market paperback edition of The Rise of the Governor. I spent a few months now seeking this book out so I wasn’t going to pass it up. We slithered out way toward Chinese food afterward. Followed by a visit to Myth Adventures.

Now I’ve been spending a considerable amount of money at Myth Adventures as of late. We can blame the DC New 52 comic series Harley Quinn for that. As you may know, Batman is my ultimate hero because he doesn’t rely on radioactive bugs or the sun for his abilities. So it’s only logical that one could conclude that the ultimate villain in my book is the Joker. And what’s hotter than a woman who falls in love with a homicidal maniac?

This year alone, I’ve purchased:

  • the first four issues of Harley Quinn (this includes issue #0)
  • the first two issues of George A. Romero’s Empire of the Dead
  • the first issue of Night of the Living Deadpool
  • the first issue of Image comics’ Revenge
  • Batman: The Joker’s Daughter
  • Dexter Down Under

There are a few more that have escaped my memory, I’m sure. I don’t see myself putting an end to this any time soon. I’ve reconnected with my childhood romance, the first medium that led me to where I am now in the world of reading and writing.

I can already hear my bank account groan. I’m going to need to find another source of income. I’m thinking of opening my editing skills (which, I can never seem to use for my own writings) to self-publishers. Because, later this year, Batman Eternal hits comic shelves/tables and Empire of the Dead has me hooked. I decided to sticking with any series just beginning. This includes reboots, story arcs, limited series, and the like.

I’m also thinking of writing a few treatments for a comic series of my own, though I would have to find an artist to bring the characters to life. But that’s something to keep in the back burner.