The 4th of July means different things to many people, as we celebrate the USA’s birthday, I wanted to highlight 5 patriots that aren’t Steve Rogers but wear the colors and are willing to stand or take a knee for their beliefs.
5) America Chavezaka Ms. America – this super-powered young woman is one of the true faces of what America is, a one woman powerhouse, lesbian immigrant from another dimension. As she has settled in the 616 universe, she has worked to improve life as a member of the Ultimates.
4) Super Patriot – straight from the pages of the Savage Dragon, Johnny Armstrong was a WWII superhero who was viciously beaten by villains in the 90’s resulting in his being turned into a WMD. In this new incarnation Super Patriot continues the never ending battle of good vs. evil.
3) La Borinqueña – makes the list as a symbol of Puerto Rican resilience. As part of the US she uses her elemental powers to uplift and inspire Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the US in the shared colors of the flag, and make no mistake she is American.
2) Sam Wilson aka the Falcon – but forever my Captain, Sam is the Captain we need and he made the role his by incorporating his signature wings and social outlook into the legacy of carrying the shield.
1) Martha Washington – takes the number one spot because she can. This future patriot rose up from the most dangerous housing project in Chicago to become Earth’s literal savior without any powers or enhancements. Her force of will, coupled with her compassion is what makes her the number one patriot of this or any 4th.
Charles Soule‘s She-Hulk hit the shelves this week and has been flying off ever since, particularly here in lawyer heavy Washington, DC. Soule is a real life lawyer on top of his comic writing duties, taking on She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters a superhero/lawyer herself. I am not a lawyer, but I thought it’d be fun to see what one thought of the first issue.
Here’s the Top 5 thoughts in no particular order about She-Hulk #1 from the lawyer I trust the most, my fiance.
Despite the smoking gun piece of evidence it’d really take years to get the case through court.
She billed 2800 hours that year, plus saving the world… when does she sleep? That 2800 is what was billed, not worked. You bill about 70-75% of what you actually work. That is if you’re good. So, you can imagine what’s worked for that 2800 hours.
It was a bit hard to believe it wasn’t clear upfront when she was hired it was as a “rainmaker.”
She loved the part with Legal where he goes off into fine print. Literally the lettering was fine print. Loved it. When multiple lawyers get in a room. This is what happens. They will start talking in fine print.
She-Hulk’s not wrong about CEOs being out of touch with their legal department. Because no one likes dealing with legal.
Sorry haven’t posted in a while, but life has been getting in the way, but I should be back in the regular mix here at Graphic Policy from now on. My first post back is pretty straightforward, I’m going to take a look at five series that have ended recently that I wish were still going on. Not limited series, but ongoing series that have been canceled.
Honorable Mention: The Order, all of Marvel’s cosmic titles
5. OMAC (8 issues, last in April 2012): OMAC wasn’t brilliant and it was, of course, little more than a tribute to Jack Kirby that hadn’t really been developed into anything of its own yet, but it had a lot of potential. Keith Giffen gave us art that was as true to Kirby as if Jack had done it himself. Dan DiDio was starting to establish an original character in Kevin Kho (the only Cambodian-American character in comics I know of) and there were a lot of Brother Eye stories to be told. Many crappier titles survived into the Second Wave of the New 52, hopefully we’ll see more from Kho, OMAC and Brother Eye again soon.
4. Heroes for Hire (12 issues, last in November 2011): Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning showed us with this series that there are no small characters, just small stories and small writers. Misty Knight and Paladin were turned into compelling and entertaining characters in a way they rarely have been in the past. The first issue of this series, with its shout-out to The Warriors, remains one of the best first issues of any series I’ve ever read. Luckily we got to see the story continued in Spider Island and Villains for Hire, but with the team having no current home, I worry that we won’t be seeing them as much.
3. 28 Days Later (24 issues, last in June 2011): In the days when zombie comics are rightfully dominated by The Walking Dead and wrongfully imitated by dozens of inferior titles, 28 Days Later was one of the few non-Robert Kirkman series that actually added something to the genre. Every issue started with a brilliant cover (most of the recent ones by Sean Phillips), continued with solid interior art by Alejandro Aragon and top-notch storytelling by Michael Alan Nelson. Following in the footsteps of the first movie, the series was always compelling and gave us a look at the aftermath of the British zombie outbreak that broke new ground in a well-worn genre. The comic did the same.
2. SWORD (5 issues, last in March 2010): SWORD is exactly what I’m looking for when I pick up comics. It was one of the smartest comics on the shelf, fast-paced, funny, filled with references and jokes that you don’t need to know, but if you do they add layers to the story, action-packed, and consistently awesome. It featured a strong female lead who could’ve developed into one of Marvel’s better characters and introduced us to one of the more intriguing characters to come along in years in the Unit. Luckily, we’re still seeing flashes of these characters and SWORD in X-Men comics, but it’s sad, that from what I understand, the comic was never really given a chance. Keiron Gillen gets most of the credit for how great this comic was.
1. Secret Warriors (28 issues, last in September 2011): Secret Warriors beats out SWORD, to me, because, while SWORD is exactly what I come to comics to find, Secret Warriors consistently surprised me. It was way better than I expected and it brought to my attention things I wouldn’t have otherwise read or thought about. It also had better art than SWORD. Another series with consistently brilliant covers and superior art by the likes of Allesandro Viti and Stefano Caselli (among others), the comic clearly had its own visual style and it was better than most of what was on the market. On top of that, the writing was even better. Originally a Brian Michael Bendis project and later taken over by Jonathan Hickman, the comic delved into the espionage side of the Marvel Universe, particularly the ongoing tale of Nick Fury, better than it has been done in decades. I’m not even that big a fan of Fury and the espionage stuff. Well, I wasn’t until this series. The only thing that still touches on this stuff in a good way are the ongoing Captain America and Secret Avengers titles, but neither of them is as consistently good (and shocking) as Secret Warriors was.
So I previously ranked the best comic book-based movies of Marvel and DC in the past, and I want to take it in another direction and exclude those two publishers to look at other comic book-based movies. I will NOT be including Manga or anime, since I don’t read those and I don’t watch the movies. For the Marvel and DC lists, I didn’t include any of their imprints, such as Icon or Vertigo, so I will be including them here. With that being said, here are the Top 5 Comic Book Movies That Are Not From Marvel or DC…
Honorable Mention: Alien vs. Predator (2004), American Splendor (2003), The Crow (1994), Ghost World (2001), Hellboy (2004), A History of Violence (2005), Road to Perdition (2002), Sin City (2005), The Spirit (2008), Wanted (2008)
5. 30 Days of Night (2007): I don’t usually like vampire films that much, but this one had such a great premise and tone, such great sets and effects and it was just plain scary that it is pretty close to being the best vampire movie of all time.
4. V for Vendetta (2006): About as good a dystopian film as has ever been made, this one improves upon the ideas that many have had before and really hits every note a movie like this should hit.
3. Men In Black (1997): Again, it’s hard to complain about anything in this movie. It has a great concept and plot, it masters the unlikely partner buddy cop thing like few movies ever had, it has great costumes and top-notch, groundbreaking special effects, it’s hilariously funny and has great action. And most importantly it has the amazing personality and chemistry of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
2. Kick-Ass (2010): Some were turned off by the violence in this movie, but I really think that this is one of the better uses of violence in any film I’ve ever seen. The violence is excessive, but it’s done for effect and it helps remind you that the movie isn’t real, despite the realness of the story. It makes sure that you know you’re in a comic book world. The cast is great, the story is superb and the changes from the comic don’t bother me a whole lot.
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010): This is maybe one of the truest adaptations from comic to film that I’ve ever seen. There are some changes made, but they rarely are changes that deviate from the intention of the comic. The casting in this is superb and the movie itself looks great at all times, frequently taking shots directly from the comics and making them look both cinematic and comic-like. This is a movie I’m going to watch over and over and over again.
Today, I’m going to take a look at the Top 5 DC Comics Movies. Coming up with the top list of DC Comics-related movies that are of high quality is a lot easier task than it was for Marvel movies. It’s not that there is a drastic number more Marvel movies, it’s that so few of the DC movies are any good. Most of them are Superman or Batman sequels and most of the sequels, if fun, aren’t great movies. Very few other DC characters have ever gotten the big screen treatment and when they do, it’s often nonsense like Steel, starring Shaquille O’Neal. That being said, there are some good movies here, and, in particular, if you can separate them from the source material and view them on their own merits, there are some really great movies here.
Honorable Mention: Superman Returns (2006)
5. Watchmen (2009): I know that the die-hard fans of Alan Moore’s comic don’t like this movie, but I think this is the key example of a movie that is quite good when taken on its own merits. Sure, it is inferior to the comic by any standard, but if you put that aside, this movie looks great, it has good acting, the story is compelling and Jackie Earle Haley is near-perfect as Rorschach — it’ll be hard for any comic book movie tough guy to ever top this performance. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian is also notably good and most of the other acting is more than adequate. This may not be a great movie or and it may not belong on the list of “best comic book movies,” but it is a fun and entertaining movie, nonetheless.
4. Batman Begins (2005): I think Christopher Nolan was still really kind of perfecting what he was doing with this one and it kind of comes apart at the seems a bit at the end, but Christian Bale instantly became the best Batman/Bruce Wayne combo in movie history, Cillian Murphy made one of the weaker Batman villains, the Scarecrow, spooky and Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and Morgan Freeman give very good performances as well.
3. Batman (1989): I think maybe Tim Burton’s take on Batman is a bit overrated and I think the sequel to this movie is pretty mediocre, but Burton managed to hit all the right notes with this first film. There was controversy at the time over Michael Keaton getting the role, but the skeptics, myself included, turned out to be wrong and this movie was, I think, the start of Keaton getting the respect he deserves as one of his generation’s better actors. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was probably the iconic movie supervillain from the movie’s debut up through 2008. The rest of the cast, the sets and costumes, the Prince soundtrack, the story and the action all work here.
2. Superman (1978): As a pure film, Burton’s Batman is probably better than Superman, but in terms of comic book films, Superman is the landmark film. It proved that comic books weren’t just for kids. It proved that you could make a man fly and not have it look horrible. It proved that you could not only cast an unknown for a major part, that in the right type of movie it was preferable to cast an unknown. Every comic book movie that came afterwards owes a debt of gratitude to Superman and Christopher Reeve. On top of that, it’s a pretty damned good movie in and of itself and it holds up well enough that you can watch it today and get the same level of enjoyment out of it as you did back then.
1. The Dark Knight (2008): It’s rare for a movie to have so many other movies that it not only will be compared with, but also that it has to surpass if it’s to be taken seriously. The Burton Batman was long seen as the gold standard and Nicholson’s Joker was untouchable in terms of quality. Batman Begins successfully rebooted the franchise, but would a sequel fall into the same trap that Batman Returns did for Burton? Not only that, Marvel movies were beginning to flood the market in terms of both dollars and critical acclaim. How would Nolan deal with all that? By making the best damned superhero movie ever made. How would Heath Ledger live up to Nicholson’s legacy? By surpassing it and setting a new standard. And this movie works on any level and by any standard. It’s a great comic book movie. It’s a great action movie. It’s a great drama. It’s got great effects, sets and costumes. It’s got a great cast. It’s got incredibly great acting. It’s got a compelling story that works both on a literal level and as an allegory. It is relevant to current events and timeless at the same time. This is a great movie.
Okay, I’m going to rank what I think are the top 5 movies featuring Marvel comics characters. I won’t include anything from before 1998, because, well, Marvel movies from before that year are things I’ve tried to block out from my memory. I also won’t be including Marvel-owned imprints like Icon (so no Kick-Ass, sadly), I’ll just be going with the main Marvel universe comics. One other thing, for the sake of avoiding repetition, I’ll leave out Blade, since I already specified that last week as my favorite Marvel movie. So, with no further ado, here are my Top 5 Marvel Movies (Excluding Blade):
Honorable mentions: X-Men (2000), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Blade: Trinity (2004), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
5. X2 (2002): The first X-Men movie suffered a little from having to tell the backstory of so much of the X-Universe and because some of the actors didn’t really fit their roles particularly well, but the second one got all of that out of the way and combined several of the greatest X-Men storylines into one awesomely fun movie. The movie has a lot of great actors in it, it has a great director in Brian Singer and the special effects couldn’t be better. It also spends more time with some of the characters that got the short shrift in the first movie.
4. Spider-Man (2002): This is the first of the Marvel movies to really get it right as a comic book adaptation. It isn’t just a good movie, it’s a good comic book movie. It’s true to the source material, while at the same time being a really great movie. The cast, which was suspect going in, all performed better than could’ve been expected and it was a huge success, guaranteeing that there would be many more Marvel movies to follow.
3. Spider-Man 2 (2004): The sequel did everything the original did right, except it had better special effects and a tighter script and story. There was no way for Spider-Man 3 to live up to the first two.
2. Blade II (2002): Blade II is just a damned good horror movie. It isn’t so much a comic book adaptation, since Blade really is a minor character at Marvel, so they had to come up with original material that wasn’t taken from the comics. They did an awesome job. The enemy-of-my-enemy team-up, the scary super-vampires, the family subplot, the betrayal, the amazing special effects, and, my favorite, the venture of Ron Perlman’s Bloodpack into the clausterphobic sewers to battle an evil you couldn’t have imagined for yourself. All that along with the always-awesome Wesley Snipes and direction by Guillermo del Toro and this is an awesome flick.
1. Iron Man (2008): Building on the success of the Spider-Man films, this one really perfects the superhero movie. It is true to the source comics and, in fact, influenced them to go in a new direction that improved them. The acting is superb and it’s hard to imagine anyone being better at being Tony Stark than Robert Downey Jr. The rest of the cast is great, notably Jeff Bridges as the villain. The movie looks better than any superhero movie that I could’ve imagined when I was growing up reading this stuff. And, most importantly, this is a really good movie. If you’ve never read the comics, or any comics, you can watch this and have a great experience. At the same time, longtime fans have things that appeal to them, too, and thus we get a film that appeals to multiple audiences on multiple levels, which is an amazing feat.
Emma over at Girls Read Comics Too is doing “30 Days of Marvel” where she gives various superlatives about the Marvel Universe. It’s good reading and since I’m a fan of both Marvel and Girls Read Comics Too, I’m going to steal the idea and give my responses as well. This is my second 5, with more to come… (Go to the links to see Emma’s choices).
1. Favorite Organization: I’m going to go with A.I.M. The stupid yellow beehive costumes aside, the fact that there is an organization of evil scientists who want to take over the world is pretty cool. The fact that they are in those stupid costumes somehow makes them even more cool. The be fair, I probably wouldn’t have put A.I.M. on the list if it wasn’t for their recent participation in Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth.
2. Favorite Creature: Cosmo the talking Russian space dog with telepathic powers. Yes, the concept is ridiculous. Yes, the accent is horrible. Yes, every issue of everything he’s in is well-written and the character somehow works.
3. Favorite Movie: I think I’m going to way out on this one and say Blade. I know I’m supposed to say Spider-Man 1 or 2 or Iron Man or X-Men 2 and while I love all of those movies, I love Blade even more, for several reasons. First off, it was the movie that made all of these others possible. Second, it defined the Marvel movie style and answered the question of what to do with the spandex. Third, it was Wesley Snipes’s last hurrah and I always liked Wesley. Fourth, the music was awesome. Fifth, the fight scenes and weapons were amazing. Fifth, I don’t really need a fifth, the first four are good enough for me.
4. Favorite Classic Character: Not sure what they mean by “classic,” but everyone else who is answering this one seems to be pointing to first generation Marvel characters. In that context, I’ll go with Spider-man. When I get a tattoo, it will be of the classic Spidey logo. I talked about why I like Spidey so much last time, so I won’t rehash it, but lets just say that I’m guessing Marvel’s rise to prominence owes more to Spidey than any other character.
5. Favorite Costume: I love the Wolverine costume hew wore when I first started reading X-men, the classic brown and yellow one. I’ve come to realize that everyone else prefers the yellow and blue and that’s what is going to be the main costume, but I still prefer the earth tones. Deadpool’s costume is pretty great and I think the X-force silver and gray suits look really good.
Emma over at Girls Read Comics Too is doing “30 Days of Marvel” where she gives various superlatives about the Marvel Universe. It’s good reading and since I’m a fan of both Marvel and Girls Read Comics Too, I’m going to steal the idea and give my responses as well. I’ll do 5 today and more later… (Go to the links to see Emma’s choices).
1. Favorite Character: Spider-Man. Peter Parker started out as the perfect geek fantasy of “revenge” on the bullies and idiots that badger the smart kid in high school. Pete gets what anyone in that situation would want — strength and power — and instead of using it for revenge, he uses it to make the world a better place. And as perfect as that situation is, he still has problems — money, family, women — that we all have and they frequently are bigger problems for him than the villains he fights. Yet he still manages to keep his sense of humor and a constant stream of awesome jokes and pop culture references. Even when joins the Avengers, he’s the fun one. In the middle of another universe-shattering crisis, he’s the one that breaks the tension. And yet he still has trouble paying the rent. That’s just awesome.
2. Favorite Villain: Norman Osborn. He starts off as the greatest of Spider-Man villain of all-time, the Green Goblin, a character that he is fine as for decades. Then through his days with the Thunderbolts and eventually Dark Reign, he kicks it up to a level that few characters ever reach. His reach is broad and his menace outshines many more powerful villains. Plus, he has the greatest hair in Marvel comics.
3. Your Favorite Diva: I’m not a fan of the term “diva,” but if it is going to apply to a Marvel character, Emma at Girls Read Comics Too is right, it has to apply to Emma Frost. The costume, the history, the personality, the powers, they all fit.
4. Favorite Mutant: Cyclops. I’ve talked about this a number of times before, but clearly Cyclops is the key character in the history of the concept of the “mutant” in Marvel comics. The first X-man and the leader of the X-nation now, he has clearly shown that he is the baddest ass in the X-comics and maybe in all of Marvel.
5. Favorite Team: The obvious answer is the X-Men, but I write about them all the time, so I’m going to go with a second choice here and go with the current version of the New Avengers. Spider-Man is my favorite character of all-time and Wolverine is Top 5. Luke Cage, as written by Brian Michael Bendis, is rising up the list quickly. Jessica Jones and Ms. Marvel are becoming my two favorite non-mutant female Marvel characters and you throw in solid characters like the Thing, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and others and you get a great line-up that has a lot of versatility in terms of characters and personalities, but also in possible stories. I hope this run lasts for a long, long time.
When I’m not writing and reading at Graphic Policy or blogging about politics all over the place, I do like to read another of other comic book-related blogs. Here are my five favorites. These aren’t necessarily the greatest comics blogs in the world (although some of them certainly are), but they are the best of the blogs that I read and of the ones I’ve seen. If you know of something better than what’s on this list, let me know, because I should be reading it.
Honorable mentions: Comic Book Resources’ main blog is one of the best sources out there for info on comics, so it really is must reading (or at least skimming) for fanboys. Seduction of the Indifferent: Short reviews and commentary on classic comics and topics (including some non-comics stuff).
5. She Has No Head: Kelly Thompson mostly reads different stuff than I do and she only posts once a week, but what she has to say is always worth reading.
4. Robot 6: A good news-oriented comics blog that also includes reviews and commentary that I often find enjoyable. Again, the tastes stray a bit away from mind quite often, but overall, good stuff.
3. Law and the Multiverse: Not limited to comics, but certainly limited to awesome. This blog takes a serious look at how the law would interact with various issues in a comic book/superhero world. Very good concept and very good content.
2. Girls Read Comics Too: A blog about comics and the portrayal of women in comics and the creation of comics by women written from the perspective of several funny and intelligent women? Yes, please! And they read a lot of the same stuff I do and they often interactive features frequently.
1. Comics Should Be Good: This is what got me into comics blogs. Brian Cronin is one of my favorite writers, regardless of what the genre of writing is. He has a great conversational style that works for both experts on a topic and newbies. No matter how much you know about comics, you’ll certainly learn something new nearly every time you read his stuff. His Comic Book Legends Revealed (and other Legends Revealed stuff) is must-reading. On top of that, this blog has the most lists and regular features that really get you drawn into the awesomeness of comics and the great debates, the great artists and the great writers. My Friday Five series was inspired by Cronin’s work and I read his stuff more than I read most political stuff and that’s what I get paid to do. On top of that, the blog has a number of other contributors, all of whom are good writers as well. If you like comics, of any genre, you’re hurting yourself by not reading Comics Should Be Good.
A traditional plot device in all forms of writing is the character who is at the heights of his/her profession/field/country/whatever, and then falls from grace through their own faults or hubris or through outside forces. Since Marvel Comics has been publishing tons of stuff since the early 1960s, they have a lot of storylines that follow this arc. Here are the five of these arcs that are the best-written and the biggest, in my opinion, of course…
5. Daredevil: At one point, Daredevil was the most pure Marvel character, never giving in to temptation or crossing over to the dark side. Then came Shadowland and all that changed. Daredevil became evil and eventually fell off the radar. If Shadowland weren’t such a mediocre story, this might rank higher.
4. Dr. Strange: Dr. Strange was the sorcerer supreme and one of the most powerful and important characters in Marvel comics. I haven’t read the story of his fall, but his fall was far and significant in terms of the stories that followed. .
3. Tony Stark: Secretary of Defense and head of SHIELD who fell far enough to become the county’s most wanted criminal and then decided to erase his own brain rather than let Norman Osborn get ahold of it. He’d be higher if it weren’t for the fact that later comics are redeeming him. .
2. Norman Osborn: His rise to the top of America’s defense forces was obviously a set-up that had him destined to fall, but that doesn’t change the fact that he went from the most important person in American government to America’s Most Wanted and a prisoner in a short period of time. .
1. Professor X: From the 1960s to the 1990s, Charles Xavier was Marvel Comics’ ultimate leader, teacher and humanitarian. Turns out the whole thing was a lie as Professor X was actually comics’ biggest manipulator and mind-f**ker, much worse than what we learned about in DC’s Crises, as Xavier committed his crimes against his friends, allies and the children he mentored. There’s no bigger sign of his fall from grace than the fact that during the X-men’s toughest times in recent years, Xavier has been nigh-invisible.