Thursday, August 14, 2014

No, I did NOT like Guardians of the Galaxy, thanks for asking.

I applaud my friend Julian Darius for speaking some uncomfortable truths about "Guardians of The Galaxy" and the larger phenomena of which it is a part.

I saw it with a large group of friends, and while most of them enjoyed the film very much, I, like Julian, came away with a very empty feeling (although I can't detail the reasons why as thoroughly or eloquently as he).  

You'd think this would be because I'm the president of the He-Man Marvel-Haters Club.  It's not.  No, I'm not a fan of Marvel, but they do have their role and it's not a small one.  And (unlike many actual Marvel fans!) I actually enjoy most of Marvel's movies.  I want them to succeed and I want to enjoy them.

But I didn't enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy hardly at all.

Nor am I amused by raccoons who think that tricking people in taking the prosthetic limbs of others is funny.

It was, perhaps, the single MOST predictable film I have ever seen, and tritely so.  Every plot turn, every action, every line, every 'joke'. Oh, there was an occasion event that made me laugh; "Nothing goes over my head" did amuse me, even though, like everything else, it was terribly obvious.  I think the only thing that surprised me in the least was the post-credits cameo.  And that... wasn't exactly a pleasant surprise.  

I'm not a natural enemy of predictability, either.  After all, I'm a horror movie fan, where the genre depends at least a certain degree of predictability. I'm a classicist; we don't ready ANYTHING where we don't already know the end of the story and most of the major plot points along the way. But GotG ain't no Greek play.

I don't think I have as high a set of expectations for comic book movies as Julian does -- I don't NEED comic book movies to be Greek plays -- but I don't need them to combine all the worst flaws of various genres (the treacly family-of-friends film, the cutesy rom-com, the explodey action flick, the universe-saving scifi movie, the plucky underdogs triumph plot, the rogues with hearts of gold travelog, etc.) and then polish them with millions of dollars and (admittedly) charming actors.

Perhaps I don't know WHAT I need in comic books movies.  But I know GotG had almost none of it.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Starting Work Early

What with her role in the forthcoming Superman (et al.) film, I've been thinking a lot about Wonder Woman lately.  In fact, I've been reading Wonder Woman Unbound, a good new history about the character.  

I have quibbles with some angles the author occasionally takes in order to make his points (such as defending Wertham's analysis of Batman and Superman to make his condemnation of Wonder Woman seem worse), but anyone who actually takes the trouble to chart the statistics on how much bondage there was in WW comics versus her contemporaries' deserves kudos.

Spoiler: It's a lot.

I've learned more than a few things from this book already, and it's made me reexamine some parts of comic history. For example, author Tim Hanley has made me realize that quite possibly we owe the continuing existence of super-heroes to Dr Wertham, since their resurgence in the Silver Age was prompted in part by his evisceration of the popular horror and crime comics they superseded. 

Another thing I've learned is the brutality with which the mad man-babe Bob Kanigher devasted Wonder Woman's "Mod Era" cast in the process of returning her to her mythological roots.

"Without my magic bracelets,
what can I use to protect myself from sniper fire?
Oh! Hello, I Ching...!"

Steve Trevor, in fact, gets killed twice (don't ask).  And the disturbingly gratuitous death of an expy of former Wonder Woman editor Dorothy Woolfolk is, at best, in bad taste:

Ah, 1970s pop-culture New York City.

Hanley rightly points out that war-hardened Kanigher was a prolific writer, not a careful or well organized one.  He was repetitive, forgetful, and indelicate.  But his writing was not without poetry...

One of its unsung,
unknown, faceless millions is
starting work early.

With this heartless haiku, Kanigher used an unnamed sniper, who dies immediately by falling off the building and whose motives are never examined let alone explained, to begin the destruction of the Mod Era. Note well, modern readers; the cruel killing off of supporting and near-main characters was not an invention of the post-Crisis world.

What haiku can you compose reflecting on this, the return of the new original Wonder Woman?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Batman's most laughable imitator fights Batman's second-most laughable imitator!

This weekend at my house, Killer Moth kicked Green Arrow's butt.

By kicked butt, I mean "successfully ran away with some loot while abandoning the Mothmobile as a lost cause".  And by at my house,  I mean, "in a game of Heroclix".

Now, as anyone who knows anything about Heroclix knows, the character most egregiously absent from the hundreds of figures that the Wizkids company has made is Killer Moth.  In Heroclix circles, we simply call it "The Great Injustice", and leave at that (much as postbellum Southern women called the Civil War "the late unpleasantness")

That, of course, has not stopped me; I have two Killer Moth custom figures (many other players have customer Killer Moths, but they are not as fabulous as mine, which I had 3D printed and professionally painted)  But I have gone further (around the bend)!  Ha, ha!

I now have, to serve as Killer Moth's backup gang, World Public Enemies No. 1, 2, & 3!

They are quite uncannily accurate, actually.

The World Public Enemies -- Dragon Fly, Silken Spider, and Tiger Moth -- are the three greatest female villains who never existed.  There were introduced (see below) in Batman #181 (June 1966) solely as literary devices in Poison Ivy's first story; jealous of their fame, she was inspired to commit a very public crime spree in which she kicked their patooties, and Batman's, too.

Pictured at lower right: meeting of the Gotham City Art and Accountancy Aficionados Association.

Later writers very cleverly created a new backstory for them: that they were merely actress/models hired for the pop art exhibit as concept villains who represented the allure of costumed villains as celebrities.  They then turned to crime AFTER being attacked by Poison Ivy and typecast as bad gals.

Here they are fighting Nightwing.  Like ya do.

These customs sit on the following dials:

Dragon Fly
Because, I mean... what ELSE are you going to do with a Falcone Bodyguard figure?

Silken Spider
Sneak, sneak, sneak!

Tiger Moth
Naturally, let "Killer Moth" replace "Tony Stark" in the above.  Because if Killer Moth were a Marvel character, he'd already have three movies. 

And they make a great gang for Killer Moth:

If only Killer Moth were actually this cool.

and his Mothmobile:

Ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha--KILLER MOTH!

Now that I have them, I didn't want to pit KM and the Bug Babes against Batman right away, because, frankly, I wanted the game to last longer than that.  And who better when you need a hero that will take forever (and sometimes still not succeed) to defeat Z-grade villains than...GREEN ARROW and The Kid Who Tags Along With Him?  They were aided by a Gotham Cop driving a GCPD police cruiser, who did the grubby work of taking down the Mothmobile.  

I was playing with the special rules that allow villains to gain points by 'escaping with loot' rather than just by kayoing heroes (because DC criminals like to actually STEAL stuff, not just attack Spider-Man).  Naturally, Killer Moth had the biggest swag and made it off the board after Green Arrow cracked his rib with a boxing glove arrow.  Tiger Moth hung around to duke it out with GA, while KM, limbs flailing no doubt, limped back to the Mothcave.  Speedy almost took out an unwary Silken Spider, but Dragon Fly took him out with a few well placed kidney jabs.

Oh! And speaking of the Mothcave,  I decided to celebrate this Battle of the Batman Knockoffs with a commemorative custom Heroclix map for EACH of them.  Behold, then.


The Fletchery; because plastic cat arrows do not make themselves, you know.
The Target Range, where arrows are shot, because what else does Green Arrow do?
The Trophy Room, where Oliver and Roy can search online for crimes in the making, because patrolling is too tedious.
The Fletchery, where GA can test out the personal lubricant arrow and process server arrow in private.
The ridiculously yellow Arrowcar, so beloved by children.


If you think making that Mothmobile image was easy, think again.

The Trophy Room, or, as I like to think of it, The Atrophy Room, full of empty trophies cases commemorating Killer Moth's nonexistent victories.
The Pro-Crime Lab, where he invented the gun condom.
The Cocoon Room, where Robin was placed unguarded for many hours in a bonfire-based deathtrap.
The Pupatorium, where Killer Moth descends from stately Van Cleer Manor to don his crime-helping garb and roar out in the Mothmobile.  But mostly because I really enjoy saying "Pupatorium".
The unlabeled dirt-removal tunnel, where KM paid those two laborers in lead.
A Gratuitous Secret Passage, because it seems just like the kind of thing that Killer Moth would have.

Enjoy them, if you play Heroclix.
And if you don't, start!