Tag Archives: disney

Preview: Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #740

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #740

Lars Jensen, David Gerstein (w) • Flemming Andersen, Jack Bradbury (a) • Andrea Freccero (c)

“Prisoners of Zartac 2!” Soaring through space with the Tamers of Nonhuman Threats, Donald is dying to get home for that big date with Daisy—but reprogramming his ship for a shortcut leads to a scary prison planet and a deadly old enemy!

FC • 48 pages • $5.99

Review: DuckTales #1

DuckTales01_cvrA-copyDuckTales #1 makes up for allllll the flaws of Uncle Scrooge. It continues the work of the rebooted TV show: establishing the triplets as three separate characters rather than one run-on sentence. The humor that the boys exude perfectly extends from screen to page–the unique humor that makes the show literally laugh out loud funny is inside the pages of DuckTales #1, as well.

The only flaw with DuckTales, which was a problem with Uncle Scrooge as well, is the mistreatment of Donald as a character. His anger seems weirdly under contol. Compared to the Donald that fans know and love, DuckTales Donald spouts less expletives and suffers more slapstick. The series is more about the boys, anyhow, which is where the book (and the new show) really shine.

DuckTales #1 is broken up into two stories: “The Chilling Secret of the Lighthouse” and “The Great Experiment of the Washing Machine”. Both were written by Joe Caramagna, who has an outstanding grasp of DuckTales both old and new. “Lighthouse” reflects a more classic television DuckTales story, with an ancient legend debunked by the triplets exploring “uncharted” territory. “Washing Machine” is a little more modern, with iPhones used for distraction tactics, and the boys displaying their individual personalities. Huey in particular gets to shine as the inventor of the group.

Donald Duck # 1 IDW DT

They’ve come a long way from the original depiction of “the triplets”

The stories have different artists, but  both Luca Usai (“Lighthouse”) and Gianfranco Florio (“Washing Machine”) continue the tradition of pulling from 1940s Donald Duck comics. It’s one of my favorite things about the reboot, and I’m thrilled to see it continue on both show and book. The short tales are great, but I hope that an overarching plot emerges before long. Based on the teaser of issue #2, which features Della Duck on a quest with Donald and Scrooge, readers probably won’t have to wait for clues to a much larger mystery.

WooHoo indeed.

Story: Joe Carmagna Art: Luca Usai, Gianfranco Florio
Color: Giuseppe Fontana, Dario Calabria Letterer: Tom B. Long Editor: Joe Hughes

Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

What is it to be a Fan in the 21st Century? Examining Fandom in Entertainment.

What is it to be a fan in the 21st century? That’s what a lot of people are asking not just of themselves but of their peers and the general culture at large. Right now our society is dominated on all sides by franchises of one stripe or another. Be they books, movies, TV shows, comics, etc…and all of those have thousands of permutations and subgroups within them. Take superheroes which are, for brevity, divided between Marvel and DC Comics which then divides again into the structures based around their universes that then divides all the way down to individual characters. The birth of “modern fandom” is usually given credit to George Lucas’ 1977 opus Star Wars. That was the birth of the block buster and merchandise driven marketing and franchising that has shaped the world in ways we are still comprehending today. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, begun in 2008 with the release of Iron Man, saw Marvel Comics become a global brand the world over in the last decade. Over these decades long franchises, several generations across numerous backgrounds have grown attached to these characters and stories. As a result, fandom has grown to be both a toxic force and a positive one. The question then becomes what do things that we love have to say on the subject of fandom and this push and pull between the toxic gate keeper side and the positive and sincere earnest side?

Stories about fandom are not all created equal. With the rise of social media, the creator and fan dynamic has changed drastically, especially in the world of comics. Fans can interact with the creators of their favorite stories in a way they never could previously. This has obviously led to positive feedback on both the fan side and creative side but it’s also become a doorway for the most toxic fans to vent their frustrations directly to the creative team. As a result, some stories have taken approaches to address or shoot down these fans directly. With targeted social media campaigns and general trouble makers on the web its left creators in a spot where they might not be able to tell the well-intentioned fan who has legitimate concerns about representation from the entitled fan who rages at them for changing the color of a mask or giving a character pants for their costume.

The stories discussed in this piece are meant as none of that. Both are very broad metaphors about actual positive fandom vs. different breeds of toxic fandom to the discussion of creators conflating well-meaning fans with legitimate concerns and toxic bigoted fans who feel entitled is a discussion worth having but it’s also a separate one. This is meant as an examination of two stories with similar metaphorical themes and not meant as a condemnation of people who raise legitimate concerns with creators or a discussion of how said creators respond to the concerns.

With that aside let’s talk about what is often cited as the birth of the modern pop culture fan, Star Wars.

When it exploded onto the scene in 1977 Star Wars left an immediate impact. An impact that was so big it reshaped the Hollywood business model practically overnight and left a permanent imprint on the psyche of generations of young kids. In 2015 after six movies and ten years out of the cinematic spotlight, Star Wars returned with Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Its reception was overwhelmingly positive and had everyone looking forward to more. However, one of its biggest criticisms was that the film was a modern remake of the original film. Despite this, people couldn’t wait to see more of the new characters Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. With the film being an homage to the original the big thematic hook for the new hero and villain is that of two separate stripes of fans.

The first is that of a star struck and super earnest fan. Rey is enamored by the exploits of Luke and the Rebels having a discarded rebel pilot helmet she wears for no other reason than to just wear it, a handmade doll that looks like a rebel pilot, reacting with shock and joy at meeting Han Solo and learning the ship she’s stolen is the Millennium Falcon, as well as referring to him as a smuggler when Finn calls him a general. She is symbolically the audience in this movie in this regard. A super eager fan finally living the dream and super excited about everything happening to her. On the other end of the spectrum though we have Kylo Ren.

While both storylines are incomplete since only one movie has been released with them we can glean enough information about Rey and Kylo to see what they are meant to be symbolically. In this respect Kylo Ren is set up as fan culture gone wrong. Someone who is unhealthily obsessed with the worse parts of what’s come before. He’s seen talking to Darth Vader’s helmet throughout the film and asking for strength to ignore the call to the light. He heads up a planet sized battle station similar to, though much larger, than the Death Star and vows to finish what Vader started. To top it off when things don’t go his way, instead of processing it like an adult, he lashes out with his lightsaber almost like a child throwing a tantrum for not getting his way. Kylo Ren is representative of a toxic side of fan culture that only looks back and has latched onto the unhealthier aspects. Now most people like Darth Vader because of the tragedy that is his story and we even dress up as him but we also keenly aware he is the bad guy and one that should not be emulated, either in ideology or action.

So then how does Marvel fit into this then? Starting in April of 2016 Marvel began publishing a comic titled “The Unbelievable Gwenpool.” Due to the popularity of a variant cover of the Deadpool comic and cosplay of the character, Gwenpool was given an ongoing series with the novel gimmick of her being from our real world. In the comics Gwendolyn “Gwen” Poole is a high school student transported to the Marvel universe via unknown means. Realizing this she dons a costume to avoid being an “extra” and becomes the superhero “Gwenpool,” the star of her own comic book. Gwen herself is a fan of comics and has read a vast collection of them, writes fan fiction, and has a sketchbook that she draws superheroes in. She even is knowledgeable of established tropes and rules of books such as knowing the hero won’t die and that she can’t reveal secret identities publicly because it’s her book and “they” wouldn’t allow that. Gwen, like Rey, is a positive representation of a fan. She reacts with various combinations of excitement, nervousness, awkwardness, and joy at the various superheroes she meets on her adventures. However, she is also her own worst enemy.

Gwen herself is caught in the middle of earnest fan culture and toxic fan culture. While she reacts with enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of meeting the heroes she’s read so much about she also treats them with casual disregard. Namely, she knows she won’t die because it’s her book and she’s the star and that the people she’s meeting are indeed fictional and thus immune to being killed or hurt in any devastating way for very long. This gives rise to a future version of herself that has become a reality bending supervillain that messes around with the comics simply because she can. This is because Gwen discovers that being from our real world has granted her the ability to not just break the 4th wall but to literally escape between the pages of the books and interact with them as she sees fit.

Her future self had made life difficult in the Marvel Universe in the future because she would reveal secret identities and use her knowledge to essentially toy with the lives of the heroes. At one point she even reveals the secret identity of Miles Morales as Spider-man and results in his family being killed. Future Gwenpool is herself a commentary on the toxic route fan culture can go. Gwen treats the universe with casual disregard because she has power over it now instead of the starry-eyed admiration her younger self once had.

With the characters of Rey, Gwenpool, Kylo Ren, and future Gwenpool what you have is a push and pull of what fandom is and can become.

Future Gwen and Kylo Ren represent the toxic notions of fandom and how these toxic aspects can even dominate and overwhelm the good parts. Kylo Ren is in command of a legion dedicated to tearing down the world the heroes of the original trilogy created and rebuilding it in the image of Darth Vader to the point his only challengers seem to be a small group which are in part run by those old heroes. Future Gwenpool overwhelms the heroes of her time who are powerless to stop her. In the age of social media, toxic fandom can drown out and even overwhelm the positive aspects and these two characters are personifications of that very idea.

Gwenpool of the present and Rey on the other hand represent positive fandom and how those positive aspects can overcome the more toxic aspects. They are the uncorrupted fan. The dreamers that want to explore the universe before them and add their own names to it. Gwen is the pure enthusiasm of fan culture. As she often gets in over her head and on multiple occasions makes people’s lives harder but it is never done out of intentional malice. Rey is the more mature side of that coin having respect for the things around her. This love that is deep and sincere is also the reason that Rey and Gwen can overcome their counterparts in the end.

Both Rey and young Gwen are presented with a moment of temptation from their counterparts. Offers to either make them stronger and give them a life they could never imagine. Kylo offers to be Rey’s teacher and show her the power of the force. Future Gwen show’s her past self all the bad stuff she does with her powers has no real consequences so they should have fun while they can. In these moments, toxic fan culture is literally trying to corrupt earnest and sincere fans by saying the way they behave is the proper and better way to be a fan. In turn Rey’s respect and reverence and young Gwen’s sincere love and passion allow them to win the day. With Rey tapping into the Force herself and overcoming Kylo Ren, symbolically defeating toxic legacy obsessed fan culture. Young Gwen on the other hand is shown how she’s acting and how her earnestness has brought some real harm to people. Young Gwen in this moment literally self-examining her behavior, seeing what it leads too, and outright rejecting it because she deeply loves the world she’s gotten to know and has seen that her future self no longer loves it the way she does. Thus, Future Gwen is literally erased from existence, thereby erasing toxic dismissive fan culture.

With more fans becoming creators and getting to add their own spins and interpretations on beloved universes and characters. As such we must constantly be aware of ourselves and our behavior as fans. Looking at only the past and wanting the darker or more disturbing stuff to return will result in a culture mirrored in Kylo Ren while obsessing over fandom but treating it indifferently and with callous disregard will make us like Gwen’s future self. Rey and Gwenpool show us that fan culture can be a positive even life changing experience for us and that its ok to dream and like what we like. That these aren’t merely distractions or something we should discard. Rey and Gwen show that this can have a real positive impact on our lives. We must be aware and let it in. After all you might be the next one to add to the story.


Ryan Whorton is part of the UTD Graduating class of 2015. He has worked in the service industry for 6 while pursuing education. He writes about video games, comics, and movies in his spare time.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and we’re getting ready for a fun, geeky, relaxing weekend here at GP HQ. What fun things will our readers be doing? Sound off in the comments.

While you wait for the weekend to begin, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Capeless Crusader – Marvel Movies and Star Wars Are Moving to Disney’s Streaming Service – Does this impact your viewing habits?

Newsarama – One Million Moms are Praying for Preacher’s Cancellation & Targeting Febreze & Verizon – And we’re praying for One Million Moms’ cancellation.

DC Comics – Breaking News: Titans Lands its Hawk and Dove – Who else is excited for this one?

The Beat – Drew Goddard will direct X-Force starring Ryan Reynolds – This’ll be an interested one!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Go Go Power Rangers #2

CBR – Motor Crush #6

Defenseless: How The Defenders Fails and Augurs Poorly for the Future of the Netflix-Marvel Union

You know it’s a bad sign when in the middle of a superhero team miniseries you find yourself pining for the team members to work solo again. Yet this is precisely the thought I had watching Netflix and Marvel Television’s long awaited miniseries The Defenders.

Debuting last Friday, the miniseries was the culmination of a plan that goes back over three years. Laid out in the first quarter of 2014, The Defenders would serve as the fifth act to a cycle of Netflix series focusing on the “street-level” Marvel heroes. The plan sounded promising. Unlike their comic book counterparts, the Marvel Cinematic Universe films had acquired an unmistakable post-Avengers bloat. It became a running joke that all the (solo character) sequels after Avengers featured antagonists and earth-shattering stakes that really merited the team reforming. In the comics, the solo titles have the freedom to take a single Avenger and put him or her in decidedly intimate stories where the stakes weren’t so dire, but the blockbuster mentality of movies overruled that.

So the idea of focusing on heroes who fight in alleys rather than the roofs of skyscrapers held a lot of appeal as did the selections of characters who (with the exception of Iron Fist) were all fan favorites with staunch followings. The first show would be Daredevil, the scrappy blind brawler who plays like a working class Batman with Catholic angst. Then Jessica Jones, a recent creation from an innovative neo-noir title called Alias that explored gender politics, trauma, healing so well it earned the show a Peabody Award. Next came Luke Cage and finally Iron Fist (the latter show breaking the impressive streak of critical approbation).

But what we got on Friday wasn’t just a disappointment, it reflects a lack of vision at the top of Marvel Television that is stunning. The team behind The Defenders had over three years to make this show and yet every one of the 8 scripts feels like it was rushed on a Sunday evening for a Monday deadline.

The first catastrophic flaw is the utter lack of connection this series has to the comic books or the MCU. In truth this is really two flaws that have interwoven so tightly as to appear fused together.

The first half of this is seen in the total lack of excavation on the part of the storytellers of Defenders lore, plotlines, or iconography. When you watch the miniseries, you wonder if the writers and showrunner even know who the Defenders are or what makes them unique.

For the uninitiated: The Defenders first appeared in 1971 as the brainchild of Roy Thomas. The series began as a contingency plan for the cancellation of Doctor Strange. Thomas shrewdly figured out how to continue Strange’s story arc: by continuing it with a new team. He brought Strange together with the Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner to finish Strange’s plot line involving the planned invasion of Earth from beings from another dimension. And so the Defenders were born.

The Defenders had to establish its own identity quickly. All the major teams were already in place so The Defenders needed to claim its own corner of the Marvel Universe. They became Earth’s line of defense against mystical threats and in essence the team served as the as-needed backup for Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth.

The Defenders were branded a “non-team”: unlike the others they had no headquarters, no symbol, and their roster fluctuated wildly. The Defenders were a team of rugged individualists who could never be an Avenger (Joss Whedon beat them to the bunch by bringing some of that “band of misfits” energy to the Avengers films).

A major blow dealt to the series is the loss of Doctor Strange. Strange is more of a constant presence in the Defenders than any other single Marvel character has been to any other Marvel superhero team. If you’re asking why Strange isn’t in the Netflix series, the answer lies in the unsexy world of corporate structuring.

Marvel Studios and Marvel Television have for some time regarded one another as stepsisters despite the central conceit that the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe would reflect the unity and continuity of plot in a way heretofore only seen in the comics. Lore has it that the split began when Marvel TV decided to resurrect Agent Phil Coulson (much to the consternation of the Marvel Studios), the everyman SHIELD agent whose death cemented the Avengers as a team. This seems to be largely accurate. Agent Coulson was a mainstay in the Marvel films before his “death” in Avengers. Since his small screen resurrection, he has not appeared in any of the films or even been mentioned (even in Age of Ultron when it would’ve made sense). As a result, the Marvel TV series became the bastard sons of the Marvel movies; the shows would pattern themselves after the storylines of the films, the films pretended the series didn’t exist. This has been frustrating to fans since it violates the whole idea we were promised when Iron Man was released 9 years ago.

And worse yet, the problem has gotten worse. Now the bastard sons, having grown tired of rejection, have walked away from the family.  In the Netflix series there has been a marked decline with every show of references to the big events of the MCU. Loki’s thwarted invasion of Manhattan is crucial to the first season of Daredevil and is mentioned many times in the first season of Luke Cage. But in both Iron Fist and The Defenders it is never mentioned once; nor are Ultron, the Sokovia Accords (which make it a crime to practice superheroing without government registration and oversight), or the fact that the Avengers dissolved spectacularly in a very public brawl.

Doctor Strange was claimed by Marvel Studios and denied to Marvel TV, which is a shame not just for The Defenders but also for Doctor Strange because I’m quite certain the character would’ve been better served in a Netflix series than on the big screen.

Finally, when Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige outmaneuvered his boss Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac Perlmutter (famously conservative, both politically and with the purse strings), he took Marvel Studios away from Marvel Entertainment and put the parent company Disney in charge. This was a shrewd move and will likely be beneficial as now Feige can operate without any input from the Marvel Chairman (Perlmutter appears to have been somewhat toxic: he famously drove Joss Whedon into the arms of the competition, sparked standoffs with talent over pay, and once blocked Rebecca Hall’s character in Iron Man 3 from being the villain simply because she was a woman). But Marvel TV wasn’t part of that deal. They stayed under Perlmutter. So the rift has widened.

All of this leads to a curious sense of disconnection from the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is a shame. The timing of The Defenders is perfect since it coincides with the shift toward mysticism in the MCU. And the “non-team” element fits because the Defenders are in essence filling the void created by the implosion of the Avengers, an entity that is never once mentioned or referred to in the miniseries.

The idea that four loners are compelled to join forces to become a team because the team everyone relies on is MIA is the perfect comic book metaphor for life under Trump. The norms and oversight we’ve taken for granted became null and void on January 20, 2017 and many citizens have made the decision to become defenders as a result.

It would be easy to write another 10 pages about what The Defenders should have been, but let’s focus on what it is. For one, it is short. The Netflix solo series have all run 13 episodes and that is the most consistent complaint. By the 10th episode, these series, even at their best, begin treading water in order to fill out that episode count. The Defenders which one would assume could easily fill out 13 episodes, has a hard time filling out eight.

Plotting is often overrated in importance. But if you’re going to underplot a story, it better take up character development and/or rich, complex themes to fill the void and The Defenders does neither. Instead we get an endless procession of ‘what are YOU going to do” scenes, broken up by utterly uninspired fistfights.

Not one character in Defenders has anything approaching an arc either. The supporting characters that once brought so much to their respective solo shows, are relegated to waiting room small talk. Claire Temple, the fifth Defender in essence, who has been a vital presence in all four solo series is relegated to Love Interest. Claire’s payoff for entering this world appears to be the honor of getting to be Luke Cage’s lady (no small accomplishment, I grant you). It would have been great if she’d found a way to fulfill her own destiny in this culminating miniseries, like floating a proposal to Danny Rand to set up a clinic (perhaps with a hidden purpose of healing outlaw heroes), but this was beyond the imagination of the writing team.

And then there’s Alexandra, the putative nemesis. The miniseries reveals the casting of Sigourney Weaver to be nothing more than a stunt. Her character is a compendium of bad guy cliches and comes to naught. I hope she was paid well. Alexandra shores up one of the unspoken rules of comic book movies that showrunner Marco Ramirez and his staff foolishly flouted: do not make up villains. Draw from the source material.

The Hand returns and one hopes for the last time as the laughably generic sinister secret society (dripping with Yellow Peril Orientalism) is pushed past the point of absurdity. It’s objective is ill-defined, trite and nonsensical, the scenes between its immortal “fingers” is a crushing bore, and even their corporate cover (Midland Circle Financial) offers nothing of interest. Foolishly, I thought perhaps we’d learn that all of their origins- Matt Murdoch’s blinding, Jessica Jones’ car accident, Luke Cage’s experiment, and Danny Rand’s plane crash- are interconnected. We do not.

Again, with over three years to plan The Defenders, I am staggered by the poverty of ideas. We know they can’t fight the Chitauri in the way the Avengers did or travel to space but you can write interesting scenes as cheaply as you can write bad ones. Everything in Defenders is borrowed or a retread. The big bad guy twist from Luke Cage is employed again without any of the emotional impact that made the twist work in the earlier series. Daredevil has a climactic battle that is almost dialogue identical to the helicarrier fight between Captain America and the Winter Soldier.

Marvel's The Defenders

Worst of all, The Defenders doesn’t copy the good stuff from better films. The Defenders never have the “now we’re a team” moment one needs in this kind of story (e.g., using their skills in tandem to defeat something they’d be unable to stop alone). The creators seem to think having them stand shoulder to shoulder makes them a team.

The Defenders was always going to be tricky. Combining street-level action with the epic dimensions of a team story is contradictory at best. But after the stupefyingly poor Iron Fist series and what looks to be an ill-conceived Inhumans show over on ABC (word has it Perlmutter insisted the Inhumans become the X-Men of the MCU despite almost no significant fan interest in the show) it appears that Marvel TV is at a crossroads. Perlmutter’s parsimoniousness combined with Marvel TV honcho Jeph Loeb’s lackluster attempt to compete with Marvel Studios is ruining the entire endeavor which at one brief, shining point looked stronger and more interesting than the theatrical releases.

Next we’ll get a Punisher series, and in the next few years, new seasons of all four of the Defenders’ solo shows. Loeb has been vague about whether or not there will be a second season of The Defenders (I would prefer a Daughters of the Dragon miniseries that puts Misty Knight and Colleen Wing front and center). Loeb and company still have the characters they need to make TV series every bit as good as the best of the theatrical offerings. The Marvel films work best when they hire a storyteller who connects to the material in a deep way, and the Marvel TV series need to find showrunners with the same passion.

 

Brandon Wilson is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and educator. He has directed numerous short films and two feature films, most recently “Sepulveda” sepulvedathemovie.com which he co-directed with his wife Jena English. He writes essays on film and culture at geniusbastard.com. He also tweets a lot.

Jack Kirby Will be Honored at This Year’s D23 Expo

This July, Jack Kirby will be honored for his remarkable creative achievements as a Disney Legend in a ceremony to be held at D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event in Anaheim, California.  Hosted by Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, the Disney Legends Award ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 14, in Hall D23 during D23 Expo 2017.

Jack Kirby first grabbed attention in the spring of 1941 with Captain America, a character he created with Joe Simon.  Kirby then followed this debut with a prolific output of comic books in the Western, Romance, and Monster genres–all a prelude to his defining work helping to create the foundations of the Marvel Universe.  For the next decade, Kirby and co-creator Stan Lee would introduce a mind-boggling array of new characters and teams — including the Avengers, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Ant-Man, Wasp, Black Panther, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Inhumans.  Kirby was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame’s 1987 inaugural class and continued creating comics throughout the ’90s before passing away in 1994.

Other honorees of this year’s Legends Award are Carrie Fisher, Clyde “Gerry” Geronimi, Manuel Gonzales, Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, Garry Marshall, Julie Taymor, and Oprah Winfrey.

Cars 3 Races Past White Male Privilege

(This post contains plot spoilers for Pixar’s Cars 3)

Cars 3  is, for the most part and certainly in the first hour of its runtime, an unremarkable bore. It is easily dismissed as a cynical cash grab in a franchise that has always sold more in merchandising than ticket sales. But then in its cinematic final lap, it kicks it into high gear and finally finds a voice– and, even more importantly, something important to say.

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is facing a midlife crisis. A new breed of faster race cars, led by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer— who should just be considered a stand-in for the worst of dude-bro douche culture) has outpaced the once great champ. With his contemporaries retiring to make way for the new line, McQueen goes to train to regain his crown.

Cars 3

At the brand new, high tech Rust-eze Training Center, McQueen is trained by Cruz Ramirez. (Note the name. This is explicitly a woman of color, which becomes incredibly important.) When they go on a training road trip tracking down the old haunts of McQueen’s mentor Doc, the Hudson Hornet, she confides to him how it was she became a trainer rather than a racer herself.

She grew up watching McQueen on tv and was inspired by him. She trained and got up early and did laps to be as fast as she could. She was faster than everyone in her town, but when she got to her first race? There was no one there that looked like her, and was intimidated by the bigger, faster cars. Cruz asks Lightning where he got that confidence from. He replies he doesn’t know, he’s just always felt confidence and positive about his own abilities.

And this is one of the best explanations of what it means to be a white male in America. Always confident, always told how remarkable we are, given mentors and opportunities, and then told we make it on our own steam. We see ourselves represented on tv, on the news, reinforced through the media as the pinnacle of success. And kids of every race, color, gender look up to the heroes on TV and want to be them.

But how many will have a crisis of confidence when they show up for their races, and none of the their peers look like them? And Lightning, when facing his first crisis of confidence ever, has to figure out why he can’t do all of the things he’s always been told he could do. Just like the forces of toxic masculinity, this affects Lightning as much as it does Cruz.

Along their way, Lightning and Cruz track down the mentor of the Hudson Hornet, who trained Lightning in the first Cars. Upon finding him in a roadhouse in the Carolina mountains, they also meet a group of classic racers, including a woman and a car who is a fairly obvious stand-in for an African American. They talk about how in the old days people wouldn’t let them race, but they forced their way in. And then they had to compete even harder to get the respect of others who thought they didn’t deserve to be there. This will certainly slip by younger audiences, but is a key moment– and also a good reminder of just how far we’ve come.

The final climax of the film occurs when Lightning realizes he is outclassed by the other racers, but that Cruz is the only one capable of taking them on. He comes in for a pit stop, and forces her out onto the track to finish the final ten laps in his stead, cheering her on as her crew chief.

And with someone showing the confidence in her and having received the mentorship from several masters, she’s able to win. This sends shockwaves across the racing world, even including a race correspondent named Natalie Certain (Kerry Washington). Up to that point, Certain had received a huge amount of disrespect from her on-air colleagues despite being the stats expert and far more competent at her job than anyone else. Cruz’s win inspires her, and you can see and hear it in her voice that it matters that she could win.

And this is where we learn the lesson about white privilege: Lightning McQueen isn’t the villain in this movie because he’s white and male. He’s the hero, too. Being white or male isn’t bad– it what we do with the fact that society has been set up to, more or less, work for us and people like us. But he is most heroic when he uses the confidence and access and privilege he has been afforded to pass that along to someone new– specifically to a young Latina racer who just needs to be given a shot.

This mirrors the sort of mentor relationship we get in Star Wars, with Lightning McQueen as Luke Skywalker and his first mentor Doc the Hudson Hornet as Obi-Wan Kenobi. When that mentor passes on and he faces new challenges, he has to seek out the Yoda of this story. And then, perhaps most important, he is challenged to pass along what he has learned to Rey. (We eagerly anticipate seeing the continuation of that story later this year.) It’s a sort of beautiful universal story, and it’s great to see a studio saying that our heroes don’t have to be all white and all male– they certainly were in the first two films of the franchise.

And the moment Cruz realizes her potential and finds her inner confidence and strength, it is equally as powerful and potent as when the lightsaber flies to Rey’s hand, or when Diana of Themysicra walks out into No Man’s Land and becomes Wonder Woman. Indeed, this would make an excellent daddy-daughter double feature this Fathers’ Day weekend for dads who want to show their girls that they are the heroes of their own stories.

Pixar’s Cars has long struggled to find anything to say other than “ka-ching!” as the merchandising money rolls in. Here they find their voice and say something powerful, and say it to an audience — girls — who are not always the main demographic consideration for a movie about race cars.

Don’t get me wrong– most of the movie is a relatively boring piece of commercial cinema interchangeable with the most banal parts of the previous two films. But those moments when it shifts into high gear are something to behold.

Disney’s DuckTales and Tangled: The Series Comic Books Coming This Summer

Disney fans rejoice! DuckTales and Tangled: The Series are Disney’s latest animated TV series to make the leap from the small screen to the printed page with brand-new comics from IDW Publishing, in collaboration with Disney Licensed Publishing, an imprint of Disney Book Group, LLC.

First, DuckTales (woo-oo) returns! Featuring familiar favorite characters like Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, plus Huey, Dewey and Louie, this comic series will be modeled after the highly anticipated new animated series coming this summer, which has already been picked up for a second season in advance of its premiere. Their comic book tales will kick-off in a #0 issue this July for $3.99, providing the perfect jumping on point for both longtime fans and newcomers. Chances are, you’re already humming along to the catchy theme song as you read this! 

This August, Tangled: The Series debuts as an original graphic novel collection titled ‘Adventure is Calling.’ In the novel, Rapunzel will embark on exciting new adventures with Eugene (FKA Flynn Rider), Pascal, Maximus, and her new friend Cassandra in a special adaptation of the series. The collection will feature 72 pages for $9.99, available everywhere comics are sold.

IDW’s history of publishing quality Disney Comics has been well established with such core titles as Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and more, paving the way for DuckTales and Tangled: The Series to become your next favorite Disney Comic.

This summer, Disney begins a new chapter in comics with IDW Publishing!

Around the Tubes

netflix-logoIt’s new comic day tomorrow! What are folks excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments!

While you wait for new comic book day tomorrow, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Devil Maybe Cry and The Extremely Small Witch Bibi – FREE COMICS PEOPLE!

Comicmix – Ed Catto: Elasticity of Geek Culture – An interesting read. Check it out.

Newsarama – Netflix Getting Into The Comic Book, Toy & Collectible Business – Interesting… Could be rough times if they think they’ll get some of Marvel’s cuts.

SKTCHD – Off Panel #83: The Real Origin of Image Comics with Jim Valentino – A cool listen.

The Comichron – New Comichron FAQ section launched – If you’re interested in more info from the site.

The Outhousers – Lucifer Renewed For Third Season, One Million Moms Rejoices In Rage – Woo hoo!

Newsarama – Report: Scalped Finds its First Castmember – A good sign.

Kotaku – Disney Drops Pewdiepie Over Anti-Semitic Jokes – Will the rest of his sponsors? I’m sure Breitbart will fill in the loss.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Attack – Rom Annual 2017

« Older Entries