Tag: dc

Batman: Year One

Contributed By David Neth

Okay, so call me simple, but the comic that most inspired me for the Fuse series was Batman: Year One. Especially when I was writing Fuse’s origin story in (you guessed it), Origin.

Batman is such an iconic character in not only the DC Comics universe, but in the world of all comic books. And the coolest thing about him? He doesn’t have any supernatural powers! He’s just that badass to be able to fight (and win) against people who do.

Batman: Year One shows Batman at the beginning of his vigilante career, meaning it shows him messing up and making mistakes that would never happen to the seasoned Batman we all know and love. It’s what inspired me to give my character Fuse flaws, especially in the beginning. Just because someone suddenly becomes a superhero doesn’t mean they have it all together.

As authors, we’re supposed to be challenging our characters. In the beginning, these heroes are basically just like us: inexperienced in the world of combat. And therein lies the conflict necessary for the story: how will a new superhero survive when he’s just starting out? When their enemy has the upper hand physically? The origin story is a part of a superhero’s career that doesn’t always take prominence (unless you’re Spider-Man and they keep remaking the same movie over and over again).

What’s funny is, I didn’t read comics growing up. (Gasp!) However, I did watch the superhero animated series, like Batman and Spider-Man. I haven’t read any Spider-Man comics (Gasp!), but the Batman comics and the animated series are pretty much identical. I guess, in a way, I was getting my superhero education without even realizing it.

After reading Batman: Year One, I followed the story arc with Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. All three of these comics inspired my Fuse series, especially the mafia’s influence over the grim city of Gotham. I love it how they tell Bruce Wayne’s story in the real world and then Batman’s influence in it. That balance is what I tried to create throughout the Fuse series because I didn’t want to get too caught up in the “super” part of “superhero.”

The only reason I picked up a Batman comic was to do research to write the Fuse series. I thought it’d be better to start with the basics, and I’m so glad I did.


David Neth is the author of the Fuse series, the Small Town Christmas series, and the Under the Moon series. He lives in Batavia, NY, where he dreams of a successful publishing career and opening his own bookstore.

Website |  Fuse: OriginFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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The Importance of Kingdom Come

Contributed by Joshua Guess

A lot of comics influenced me and the way I look at stories. Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, all the usual suspects. To have been a reader of comics within the last thirty years means a certain vein of highly acclaimed books will be at the forefront of your thoughts when someone asks which comics had the biggest impact on you.

And while I will remain a faithful acolyte of the works of Alan Moore until I draw my last breath, no comic impacted me as deeply or powerfully as Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross.

On a purely surface level, look at the visuals. Ross is a painter of staggering talent, able to render heroes into believable figures while capturing the smallest nuances of body language. His ability goes beyond human form. His battles look as if they could spring into motion. His layouts are dynamic. The visual language of his art is consistently brilliant.

Kingdom Come wouldn’t work without Mark Waid, whatever claims Ross now makes about the division of labor. The writing carries Waid’s touch heavier in some places more than others, but it’s the unique alchemy between the two men that gives the story its heft and power.

This story asks the question: How do our greatest heroes cope with a world moving past them? Whether it’s Superman quitting after a hero with less strict morals kills The Joker after he murdered Lois Lane or a Batman with the veneer of Bruce Wayne finally ripped away, now free to assert control over Gotham, Kingdom Come does what few stories are brave enough to.

It opens up our heroes and makes them truly examine the consequences of their actions. Not just on the small scale, in the daily repercussions of fighting crime, but over the course of decades. What do we become when the next generation rises up, so certain that right is automatically conferred upon them by virtue of might? It asks us how far we will go—must go—in order to maintain peace, and whether peace is worth oppression.

The central thread tying every theme in this book together is one more question: where does the blame lie when everything spins toward Armageddon?

The brilliance of the story’s structure can be found in its main character, Norman McCay, a human man given apocalyptic visions by The Spectre. God’s spirit of vengeance is itself out of touch with humanity, as are many heroes of its generation. McCay is old enough to remember being inspired by the Golden Age heroes, giving him the perspective needed to judge. Or perhaps that deserves to be capitalized—Norman is to Judge.

The power of life and death, of punishment for the sins of all heroes young and old, is given over to a single human being. Norman is us—the reader. We are being asked as we read to question the ultimate morality of even the most noble heroes. Norman is our proxy, horrified and yearning to be inspired simultaneously, all while being confronted by the horror of the brave new world growing darker around him.

Kingdom Come is a deconstruction of the superhero genre that demands we look harder at the trend toward darker, grittier heroes that began with Moore and Miller. It forces us to shine a light on why this new strain of storytelling appeals to us. It holds us accountable for its popularity.

And while Kingdom Come does all that, layering questions and themes together, it also manages to beautifully tell two stories at once. Threads of classic Golden Age heroics are woven together with the better angels of Modern Age characters and stories instead of only presenting them as the villains. It doesn’t paint a picture of pure right and wrong as so many other stories might. It instead lays out the many shades of gray and begs us to pause and consider them.

Kingdom Come is, in my opinion, a vastly underrated piece of fiction. That it can be enjoyed on many levels is a powerful endorsement on its own, but that it challenges us to question the larger shifts in storytelling in comics without explicitly condemning and pointing fingers is easily the most overlooked aspect of its impact.

The story came at a time when I needed something to remind me what made me fall in love with superheroes to begin with. In a world where the trend spiraled toward anti-heroes, Kingdom Come not only rekindled that wonder about watching a man fly, but made me appreciate the complexity of the more gritty and violent modern heroes who didn’t fall into the stereotype of being nothing but ruthless killers.

I read the trade paperback at least once a year. Anyone who loves heroes should do the same.

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What On God’s Green Earth Went Wrong?

green-lantern-movie-poster-banner-corps-mtv-brandedDisclaimer: Rewatching this movie, I fell asleep part way. Multiple times.

Relationship: We know my affinity for Marvel, but if DC has produced anything to rival my dedication to mutants, its Green Lantern. Contained in a tiny object, a man is given ring with the ability to create anything he can imagine, and only his willpower can sustain these creations. My knowledge of the mythos is scarce, but the many incarnations of this protector of the sector has captivated me.

Ryan Reynolds however, did not.

Review: I am glad I watched this movie again. The ratings decimated any hope of this becoming a franchise opener, but I may actually defend Ryan Reynolds. From Wolverine to Green Lantern, I thought Reynolds would be the actor to kill any superhero movie. His halfwit humor, bad puns, and annoying chipper half-smile seemed to spell certain doom for his career. If Ryan’s abs can’t save a movie, then really, what chance did he have? But Deadpool showed us, he isn’t a bad actor, but he can only act within the limitations given to him. Green Lantern must have set a lot of limitations.

“Ryry, you did a great job with that take, I lol’d. Let’s try it again and less lol and try it more laugh out inside.”

“Ryry, your abs are looking fabulous. This time, can you have more of a blank look on your face? Like you’re at a spelling bee and asked to spell quiche.”

“Ryry, did you just ask for motivation? Does your paycheck need more 0’s?”

“Ryry, put your shirt on. Your abs aren’t abby enough. We’ll fix that in post production.”

We spend the first part of the film trying to prove he has no fear. If we haven’t figured out from his flight abilities, every character makes references toward his bravado. They chide him for it. They worship him for it. It’s literally beaten into us. Then when he winds up on Oa with the other Lanterns, he does everything but throw a hissy fit. I think he threatens to quit? I fell asleep. The special effects were so outlandish I figure I’d wake up when something exploded later.

I wake up to some bad puns about his mask.

galactus_vs_parallaxThis movie suffers from the superhero pitfall of needing too many enemies and then splitting film time between them. When you have an entire planet full of amazing looking aliens, we spend more time with a crazed scientist with a severe receding hairline. I fell asleep again, but I think he got beaten. I mean, I assume he did? Did it really matter? And then there is Parallax, the bad guy only beatable by the most valiant Lantern. The baddie even manages to smoke a whole squad of the most elite Lanterns. Don’t worry, Ryry has no fear, so he’ll be safe and capable of stopping Galact….I mean Parallax. But no worries, the guy who just picked up the ring happens to be able to master these new abilities without even the slightest of montages! I can’t believe he’s this capable without a montage, has nobody ever seen a superhero movie?

green_lantern_trailer_101117_vidimSo the script, yeah, a third grader with refrigerator magnets could have come up with a more convincing script. So let’s talk about the giant, green, rippling, elephant in the room. Never have I been so flabbergasted by the horrible use of CGI as I was in this movie. I would have been happier if they just slapped him in spandex and hung him from the end of the rope. But okay, they wanted to have no limitations so the CGI was used to show the powers of the ring. So, you can imagine anything, and this is what you come up with? A race car? A sword? A machine gun? And somehow you manage to beat the most dangerous evil in the universe? I started rooting for the villain. At least his scary cloud looked like it might be hard to breathe in? Perhaps it could win with lung cancer. But even with an amazing post-credit scene promising us the villain we really wanted, the franchise died. Dead. Like really dead.

So yeah. I went to bed after that. That was the most exciting part of the night!

Grade:
Plot – D-
Script – D-
SFX – C
Comicness – C

Catwoman: Not the Sexy Cat Lady You Hoped For

cat1vRelationship: I’ve never read a Catwoman comic and even my knowledge of the Batman universe mostly relies on the movies or animated works more than the comics.

Synopsis: A poor, weak, reserved Selina Kyl….I mean Patience Phillips, is killed after discovering the negative effects of a skin beauty cream. Then she beats the snot out of Sharon Stone in a lesbian fantasy of skin-tight leathery proportions. Yup folks, that’s the whole plot. Sexy hot actress versus the beauty cream industry. Revlon versus Dior.

Review: I had avoided this film mostly because…well…it’s rated as one of the worst movies of all time. But because of you, my loyal readers, I was willing to trudge through the bowels of movie hell and confirm that Halle Berry is indeed one of the worst actresses of all time. I like to compare every comic book movie to Batman v. Superman, one of my least favor films, but thanks to Catwoman, I know a low so pitiful it has restored my faith in BvS.

Why? Why would you do this to a fictional character? What did they do to deserve this? Did Catwoman break up your marriage? Did Eartha Kitt scare your children with her ability to roll her R’s? Did Halle Berry once shit in a bag and leave it flaming on your doorstep? Are you making good on a bet you lost in second grade? Cause I think all of the above are true.

When Patience dies and comes back, some dingy cat near a sewer outlet steps onto Berry’s chest and breathes some rank green mist into her mouth. It causes some minor schizophrenia and in a single breath, teaches her martial arts (and the ability to use a whip of course.) So I’ll suspend disbelief. Disbelief that Halle Berry can fight, that she can balance on the back of her couch, and that she can climb walls while wearing high heels. I however, can not, under no circumstances, believe this woman is a talented graphic designer. You lost me Warner Brothers. Where’s Batman Forever, I need something believable to watch.

catwoman-movie-wallpaper-2

So, she’s possessed by a cat spirit from Egypt, you know, the birth place of modern martial arts. She get’s a bit wild after a crazy cat lady throws down some insane back story. Because I would instinctually believe woman housing twenty plus cats. But it’s okay, because she sews herself a superhero costume (notice the many tears, because Halle Berry has mad sewing skills) and she goes to work fighting crime. Against herself. Somewhere in the plot she remembers the evil makeup company and decides to beat them up. There are great lines such as…and…oh yeah, the movie on mute would get a better grade.

But love story aside (because I’ve already forgotten the name of the character and the actor who played him) there is a great woman-on-woman scene at the end. Sharon Stone, who is overly depressed because she’s old wants to slap Catwoman and possibly needs to have a pillow fight while doing each other’s hair. Somehow the evil makeup has made her a super villain which she graciously explains to us during the middle of the girl fight. Catwoman goes all CGI on her ass and somehow wins the day.

Halle Berry’s acting isn’t the worst part of the movie. The ongoing attempts to make a cat-like woman who moves in the same manner as a cat is almost as ridiculous as Sabertooth during the first X-Men movie. She goes from actress to animated over and over again, her spine bending in ways that would crush her body. I wonder if they just cut parts out of the video game and tossed them into the movie.

In the iconic words of Halle Berry, Catwoman herself, “I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.” I’m sending her a gift basket to make her feel better.

Gift Basket

Grade:
Plot – F
Script – F
SFX – D-/F
Comicness – D

Suicide Squad – DC We Have a Problem

I saw Suicide Squad this weekend, and while it had major flaws, both in plot and in storytelling, I kept coming back to Batman V. Superman for reference. I had difficulty putting into words why I mostly loathed the direction DC is taking. Supposedly Suicide Squad had focus groups dictate the outcome of the movie and while I’m not sure it helped, it shows DC is attempting to learn. While they struggle to find the universal “it,” NerdWriter1 hits my feelings on the head.

As for Suicide Squad, it may hold a solid C. Maybe? The villains were only half involved in the story. Captain Boomerang could have been deleted and the story wouldn’t have changed. Katana could have been deleted, story would have held up. The military get more screen time than the villains. Joker was “eh” at best. The actual bad guy of the movie started off pretty frightening, then just turns into a typical “destroy the world” mockery of itself. The superheroes of the planet are apparently busy elsewhere. When nifty fight scenes are about to take place, Snyder decides he wants to see how dark he can get it, as if to almost hide the fact stunt people are doing it. Overall, the movie is lazy storytelling and a great idea with almost no effort at the execution level. Save it for video.

Sorry DC, I was rooting for you this time. Maybe third time will be the charm with Wonder Woman?

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