Category: comic related

The Crow: A Dark Awakening

Contributed by Amanda Kahl

Early on in my comic-reading days I had little exposure to anything other than the handful of superhero titles at my local drugstore. I wanted to read more comics, but had very limited access. Sometime in middle school, however, I took my Christmas money to the mall bookstore determined that I was going to buy myself a new comic. Something serious. Something grown up and important. That day I ended up with James O’Barr’s graphic novel “The Crow.”

I had scoped the book out before on previous mall excursions – drawn to the dark, brooding atmosphere of the art. A couple of friends had seen the movie adaptation and encouraged my interest, saying it was a good story. When I finally bought my copy I devoured it. The story was intense and emotional, the artwork was expertly executed and detailed. I could not have been happier with my acquisition. As the years went by, however, I reread it less and less frequently. I stopped bringing it up when people talked about favorite comics in favor of things that were more current or more highly acclaimed (whatever that actually means.) But really, when I look back on it, “The Crow” influenced me more than any other comic.

The most obvious influence of “The Crow” to anyone glancing at both it and my own work is aesthetic. I had already been a fan of dark and intricate artwork (having been an Edward Gorey fangirl since I was 7) but O’Barr’s beautiful book showed me that a Gothy style could be used in comics as well. This was something that had never occurred to me as I read the candy-colored popular comics of the day. I didn’t realize until I was much older and much more well-studied how much influence O’Barr was drawing from established masters (everyone from Michelangelo to Will Eisner.) All that mattered to me at the time was that it was gorgeous and that if “The Crow” had done comic art that way, then I could too.

Since “The Crow” was the first non-superhero/Archie/talking funny animals comic I ever read, it was my introduction to the possibility that comics could explore any genre. Since the story was centered on revenge for a rape and murder and takes place mostly in the criminal underworld it was full of scenes of violence, torture, sex, drug use, explicit language, and plenty of other things that would have made my mother throw the book out (had she but known!) At the time, I really only noticed this content as being “adult” and not fundamentally changing my understanding of what comics were capable of being (which is what was actually happening.) The story was also a personal one. The stakes are extremely limited and really just center on a handful of players rather than the more typical “saving the world” setup of many superhero stories. Most importantly, the story is profoundly emotional.

Outside of my own art career, one of the biggest impacts “The Crow” had was to show me the importance of art as therapy. The intensity of emotion that is conveyed in that book is not something that can be faked; it comes from somewhere real. The edition that I bought featured a forward explaining that James O’Barr came up with the story because he had lost someone and was working through the grief. At the time I just thought it was a sad back story, but in the years to come I would relate to it very deeply. “The Crow” taught me that sometimes the only thing you can do to make sense of your own pain and struggle is to use it to create something meaningful, and hope that you reach someone else. Hope that you let them know they are not alone.

Looking back at this comic book that influenced me so strongly, I am kind of embarrassed that I wandered away from it for so long. If someone, especially a young person who has many intense and emotionally charged years ahead of them, is just getting into comics and venturing away from the mainstream for the first time I would have to tell them, “Okay, so you’re going to think it looks dated, you might think the dialog is cheesy at first, but you really, really need to read ‘The Crow’.”

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Gen13 – A Sexy Saturday Morning

Image Comics came out of the blue, a company created by names such as Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee who unlike other major publishers, allowed the artists to retain rights to their properties. In 1993, Gen13 became one of those titles and seven years later, it would be released as an animated movie. Much like the tone of the comic, the animation remained geared toward young adult, but like with many superhero titles of the 90’s, it featured narrow waists, large biceps, and breasts. While looking lie it’d be perfect for Saturday morning cartoons like its WildC.A.T.’s counterpart, it would have given my parents a slack jaw as we watched.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the movie’s plot is somewhat of a mess. Trying to condense seven years worth of story into an hour and a half is tedious at best. The story follows Caitlin Fairchild who is given a scholarship to attend a National Security Council school. School is a loose term. They train like soldiers. They study like Harvard medical students. Their social interactions are awkward. Caitlin meets Grunge, a surfer dude with horrible voice acting and Roxie, a shy mischief who is constantly looking for her next cigarette. There are shower scenes, near naked scenes, hell, even wearing clothes it looks as if breasts may tear through the fabric causing an animated nip slip.

When Caitlin discovers her parents were part of a secret organization, she finds herself the sleeping victim of a gene therapy in an attempt to make her “go gene active.” It’s only later when confronted by a fight or flight response, she grows and finds herself with superhuman strength. Her breasts literally tear themselves from her suit. Apparently the breasts earlier were foreshadowing. From here, the plot runs wild as we discover a man seeking to be their mentor and giving information bout Caitlin’s parents that seems oddly placed and useless to the plot. She frees herself and flees the facility only to turn around and run back in a final show down. We see Grunge use his material-synching abilities shortly thereafter but it’s Roxie who seems to have the “aha” moment despite being a throw away character.

At an hour and twenty minutes, it feels like the last thirty minutes are a story trying to wrap itself up. It doesn’t feel rushed, it feels like a hot mess on the television. If the dialogue wasn’t terrible, the motives are, and even the fights themselves seem out of nowhere. I wanted to like this film, a slice of my childhood, and maybe it would have worked when I was sixteen, but as an adult, it lacked coherence. Unfortunately, not even sexual innuendo could save this superhero animated film adaptation.


Things Better than BvS – DC Fan Films

K&K Productions wins the fan film award. I thought this was a cheeky (yes, I said cheeky) way to pay homage to the superheroes we all love and adore. The special FX are pretty spot on and hold up to the CW standard of superheroes. My only gripe, how long was he walking? He got through three hours of tv on a leisurely stroll? The soundtrack however, quickly makes up for any short comings!

The only fault in this Wonder Woman fan film is that I saw it after seeing an amazing performance by Gal Gadot. With that being said, I’m impressed with the level of special FX done by Rainfall Films and the stunning embodiment of Princess Diana. In just a few short minutes it tells a heroic tale, features her abilities, and presents the duality of the Amazon caught between Themyscira and the world of man. Amazing work on all fronts!


A Month of Comic Geekdom In Review

What happens when twenty-three authors and artists share a love of comics? You get a month long event of amazing unique perspectives about the comics that shaped them in their youth and continue to shape them. From social commentary, to fandoms, to geeking out, I had an amazing time reading these articles and finding people who share my passion for illustrated stories. If you missed a story, here’s a recap of the last month.

Watchmen: A Darkness Witnessed in the Heart of Men by Jeremy Flagg
Extraordinary Assaults by Jeff Deck
Gold Age of Comic Book Movies by Thomas S Flowers III
The Resurrection of “Street Level” Heroes by Errick Danger Nunnally
Modern Heroes: Where Myth Meets Reality by Joshua Guess
Reality & Continuity, Or Why 9/11 Reveals Some Insights About Live-Action Superheroes by Lance Eaton
The Folly of Subcultural Gatekeeping, or WWXD? by Amanda Kahl
Once Upon a Time, We Were All Kitty Pryde of the X-Men by Jeremy Flagg
I get it, but it’s still okay to love Superman! by Eddie Jakes
Necessary Evils by Steve Van Samson
Again with the Superheroes?! A friendly, Well-Intentioned Rant. by Angi Shearstone
X-tinction Agenda, An Arc to End All Arcs by Jennifer Allis Provost
Escapism in Comics by Thomas Washburn Jr.
In a World of Heroes be the Purrfect Villainess by Cameron Garriepy
For the Love of Long Form Storytelling by Chris Duryea
Comics Aren’t Just for the Boys: Girl Power by Amanda Pazzanese Minaker
What Comics Taught Me by Chris Philbrook
Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Not a Hero Because of Powers by E.J. Stevens
Adventures in Babysitting, But More Mutants by Trisha Wooldridge
They call him DOOM by James A. Moore
What’s with all the Nipples? Female Sexualization in Comics by April Hawks
Son of The Demon – The Batman the DCEU Needs by Martin Campbell
Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Movie by Max Bowen


Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Movie

Over the past decade, comics have made the big transition from the printed page to the silver screen. It hasn’t been a flawless leap, and there are a few productions that I think we as a people wish had never seen the light of day [cough, Fantastic Four, cough]. Truly, it’s a great time to be a nerd, when one of the cornerstones of geek subculture has now become part of the mainstream, and it’s a little less cool to say that you know who Wolverine is.

But here’s the problem: Wolverine’s one of the few we know. In an industry with a dearth of possible stories, we’ve seen five Spider-Man movies, six starring the X-Men, and countless Avengers titles. While more are planned, it doesn’t look like the theatrical roster is going to expand by too much. So, I decided to throw my two cents and comprise a list of characters, some from Marvel and others from different companies, that I think deserve their own movie.

Darkhawk
Regarded as a C-List hero that gets to occasionally team up with the big boys, Darkhawk has in fact saved the entire world and gone toe-to-toe with some of the heavy-hitters of the Marvel Universe [the guy was part of the Infinity Crusade, I think that at least moves him to B+ List]. His back story starts out like many heroes—as a kid, Chris Powell basically fell into his powers, after he used an alien amulet to transform into an android powerhouse.

Unlike many, his course to heroism was somewhat erratic. His mentors include Venom and The Punisher, folks whose idea of due process is a deciding whether to skin the bad guys alive or just cave in their skulls. It’s no surprise that he’s questioned the wisdom of leaving the bad guys in one piece.

Now, let’s talk powers—Darkhawk has enough for two characters. Super strength, an energy shield, a force blast, flight, even some kind of nightmare face that terrifies anyone he looks at. Yeah, his outfit makes him look like a cyberpunk Power Ranger, but he makes it work.

Multiple Man
Jamie Madrox’s own powers have tried to kill him. There, I think that’s all I need to say.

What? I need to do more. Fine, fine….

Madrox is a mutant with the power to create a duplicate of himself through physical impact. Basically, you punch him and get two to fight with. Have fun with that. He’s a member of X-Factor, a government -run mutant team because sure, the government has always had the best interests of mutants at heart.

Despite some questionably judgment in allegiences, Madrox has proven himself a hero time and again. The guy can make as many duplicates as he needs, and as far as I know, there’s no limit to this ability. He’s basically a one-man army. More than that, he can see, hear, and experience anything his copies do. Send one to infiltrate a Hydra base, but he gets killed? No worries, Madrox Prime [as he’s sometimes referred to] saw everything he needs to stop their fiendish plan.

But that’s not all! He can learn anything his copies learn just by absorbing them back into his body. He once sent a copy to spend years learning martial arts, then gained all the skills in a moment. If he gets hurt in battle, drawing the copies back into himself can heal his wounds. It’s actually a wonder that he bothers being part of a team.

Mice Templar
OK, this would be likely be multiple films, but the premise is amazing: infusing Celtic and Norse legends to tell a tale of destiny, revenge, and war. On the surface this seems like standard Disney fare: an army of mice taking on the evil rat empire, but the similarity ends very quickly. And very, very bloody

While this certainly has the potential to be a good animated series, let’s just say the parental warning would be high for this one. It’s about as gory as the movie Braveheart, and has a complex, ever-evolving story that follows a young mouse named Karic, someone who wants absolutely nothing to do with the destiny thrust upon him as a great savior, only agreeing once he sees that he’s the only thing saving his kind from complete annihilation. So, no pressure, right?

Ink
A lesser-known member of the second incarnation of the New Mutants, Tattoo isn’t actually a mutant, and has no powers that are his and his alone. Instead, he employs a mutant tattoo artist, whose gift allows him to make any ink he draws a power. Draw the biohazard sign on your hand: congrats, you can now broadcast the plague to anyone around you. A set of wings on your heels: heads up, you can fly. Hell, the guy even gave himself the powers of the Phoenix. Yeah, the same one that decimates worlds for fun. That Phoenix.

To be fair, Tattoo isn’t a real hero, and only gives himself these powers for his own gain, but when the chips are down, he steps up and does the right thing, even when that “right thing” puts him in a coma.


Max Bowen founded Citywide Blackout five years ago to support and promote Boston’s music scene. The show has grown significantly over the years, with many different co-hosts bringing their distinct personalities, experience, and expertise to the table. This show wouldn’t exist if not for their hard work.

Today, Citywide Blackout airs on WEMF every Thursday at 9 p.m. with co-hosts Matt Zappa and Tom Crossman. The show shines the spotlight on musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, and much more.

In addition, Max is a regular contributor to The Noise Magazine, which covers the Boston music scene through live show and CD reviews and in-depth articles. He has worked as a journalist for Gatehouse Media for the last 10 years. Today, he’s the editor of the Westwood Press and Medfield Press newspapers.


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