I Know Stuff
This week, we explore the iconography of not doing anything new with Dan Didio. Then we'll see if the Governator will be back in Terminator: Salvation. Then, we'll see if Hal Jordan can be reborn straight to DVD. After that, we'll check some more images from X-Men Origins; Wolverine, and take a look at Dark Horse's new KotOR webcomic. Finally, we'll see why Peter David hates the Internets.
Yes We Can…Not Change…
Last week, Matt Brady at Newsarama caught up with Dan Didio for a 20 Questions session, and asked what I thought was an important question:
2. You’ve said on many occasions that you want to return the DC heroes to their most iconic representations: Barry is the Flash, Hal is Green Lantern, etc. There were a couple of questions this past time that wondered how “deep” this iconic-ing goes and to what degree. Does it apply, for instance, to the Marvel Family, or to the Atom, or is there a level beyond which the character “under the mask” is interchangeable in a sense?
DD: The argument always goes back to the origin of the character. As we use it in shorthand around here, if we need one character’s origin to explain the origin of another, then the character that started it all is the “iconic” interpretation of it. So the argument about say, the Atom – you’re correct in where you were going I think – it should be Ray Palmer. One of the things that we’re doing right now is that we’re looking through our list of character’s origins and are finding what we think is the clearest interpretation and the one that’s the easiest to explain. That way, we can carry on with their stories without getting bogged down with all the continuity that put other characters in their place.
What I’m basically saying is that the defining origin is the one. Think of the Flash – you don’t know Wally or Bart’s origin without Barry’s first. You don’t know Kyle or Guy’s origin without understanding Hal’s origin first. And then there are other situations – the Hawks are interesting in this way, as are the Legion of Super-Heroes, where we’ve had multiple interpretations of the same origin, and they’re all slight variations of each other, including the latest interpretation for Hawkman which tried to incorporate all the variations together. The question always is: what are we trying to understand about those characters and what is the easiest way to explain where they’re form and what their motivations are, so we can get into their stories quicker and develop them to be much richer than otherwise.
The reason I think this is important is because it gets at the heart of what’s both right and wrong with DC.
Confused? Yeah, me too, I guess...
Okay, lemme explain before I go on. One of DC’s strengths is its adherence to tradition. Far more so than Marvel. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman…these three are the templates of superheroes. Even if they don’t necessarily have the benefit of being the first of their kind to appear in sequential fiction, they are the archetypes, nonetheless.
But at the same time, it seems to me that DC falls back way too much on tradition when perhaps they should adopt a more forward-thinking perspective. When embracing growth and development seems risky to them, they fall back to the tried and true. For example, the return of Hal Jordan. Or the return of Barry Allen. Hell, even Infinite Crisis reinstated a lot of Pre-Crisis details.
But I also think Brady managed to catch Didio out with his next question, ironically, about the Question:
3. That said, how does that apply to someone like The Question? Full disclosure here – I still don’t believe Vic Sage is dead. He “died” too close to a city where people never die for him to be over and done with. But yet, Greg has developed Renee as the new version as The Question which flows organically from Vic, and there seems to be a push to further establish her, rather than start the questions of “When is Vic coming back?”
DD: You’re absolutely correct. Again, one of the problems even with these interviews is that when I make a statement, it gets interpreted as a definitive statement that has to be applied across the board to every single character and every situation forever, and it gets held against us. The reality is, when I say something about wanting to get back to the iconic versions, that is an overall direction for the line. It’s a mission statement for what we’re trying to accomplish, but it’s not something that’s all-encompassing for every single character and for everything that we’re doing. We do approach things case-by-case, we look for what has the best potential for story, and we look for what has the greatest opportunity to expand the scope and standing and breadth of the line, and that’s where we go. In some cases, it’s looking back, and in other cases, it’s looking forward.
Now, I totally understand Didio’s response. I mean, whenever someone with authority says something, we tend to assume it’s descriptive of everything they will ever intend to say. I get that.
But even granting that, it’s a sorta “good for the goose” situation here. It’s okay to change characters like the Question, who despite garnering a hell of a lot of new interest due to his portrayal in the JLU cartoon, was relegated to the backseat of the Changemobile. He’s not one of their iconic bread-winners, so it’s okay to go crazy with him. It’s okay to take risks.
But not with the Trinity. Even when Superman died, it was only temporary, so don't expect me to get all excited about this whole battle for Batman's underwear thing.
So basically, what I’m saying is that DC is hamstringing itself by taking a “safe” attitude for change.
Now here’s the Strict-Swerve: it ain’t just DC’s fault. It’s our fault too. We’re fucking complicit. Ask yourself why we’ve got seventy-five Batman and Wolverine titles, and the simple answer is: because you keep buying the shit. Because while you’re on the message boards complaining about how nothing new ever happens in comics, you’re running out to the comic shop and picking up all these titles that never fucking change.
So DC (and Marvel) see no benefit to taking those risks that so often provide us with great stories and great new characters. Because you ain’t buying ‘em.
And sure, I’m guilty of the same fuckin’ thing too. I just say “you” because I like to blame others for my own flaws. It’s the only way to survive the Internets these days.
But as a result, modern superhero comics are always resetting the status quo. They’re always backsliding. Both the creators and the audience need to shut the fuck up and take a leap of muthafuckin faith.
With that said, I’m gonna take my own advice and shut the fuck up.
Well, okay, I’ll start after I’m finished writing this week’s column.
Ah’ll Be Back…After I Check With My Staff
Scifiwire had a chance to talk to Terminator helm McG at WonderCon about his upcoming movie and the possibility of Arnold making an appearance in the film:
McG added: "Truthfully, it's not clear. It's not clear. We'll see where we land. I mean, he's a very powerful guy, he's got to do what's right for him. You know what would be helpful is if all of us collectively put a little pressure in a couple of e-mails saying, 'Hey, we think it would be a good idea.' I mean, we're not getting any blowback or any resistance; I just kind of respect that the guy's the governor of the state of California, and he's got to go back to his advisors and ask them, 'Hey, is this a good idea?' And you never know if they're going to go, 'No, we've done the numbers, and it seems to suggest that people will feel uncomfortable if the governor is dabbling.' Who knows? Who are we to guess?"
Is even the Governor of Kullyfornia brave enough to share a scene with Christian Bale? Do NOT get in this muthafucka’s line of sight, Arnold. He will fuck your shit up.
But what the fuck, just ‘cuz he’s like…a legitimate politician now, he’s gotta check with his staff? Like there ain’t nobody that already knows he wasn’t walking around butt-ass-nekkid in the first two films? Like there’s someone who doesn’t already know that the Governor flipped-flopped in his promise to Sully?
Arnold, it’s really simple. If you showed up in another Terminator film, it would all but guaran-damn-tee that the Constitution would overlook your country of origin and elect you President.
Just remember to be a professional. The last thing you want is Bale chasing you down the hallway with a chainsaw. Oh and uh…check with Hans and Franz about getting you pumped up, ‘kay? Thanks.
DC Animated Turns Up the H.E.A.T.
Well, the nut jobs at H.E.A.T. have reason to rejoice. Scifiwire reports that the Green Lantern animated DVD feature is a go. It will be PG-13, and is likely to be ball-punchingly awesome:
Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) voices Hal Jordan, aka Green Lantern. Victor Garber is the villainous Sinestro, Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) is Boodikka, and Michael Madsen is Kilowog.
Produced by animation legend Bruce Timm, Green Lantern: First Flight is helmed by Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Superman Doomsday) from a script by Alan Burnett (The Batman).
In the film, Jordan is recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of respected senior Lantern Sinestro. The Earthling soon discovers his mentor is actually the central figure in a secret conspiracy that threatens the philosophies, traditions and hierarchy of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal must quickly hone his newfound powers and combat the treasonous Lanterns within the ranks to maintain order in the universe.
Madsen might have made a better Guy Gardner, but whatevah.
It’s kinda ironic that while Marvel is kicking DC’s ass in terms of movie licenses, DC is rocking hard all over the animated side of things. I’m sorry to the fan boys out there, but Wolverine and the X-Men sucks. Well, maybe that language is too harsh. I should say, it slurps peen. Oh I'm just fucking with you. It's okay, just not my cup of sweet tea.
But why can’t DC get their shit together when it comes to movies? I mean, sure, Dark Knight cracked the billionaire boys’ club, but it’s muthafuckin Batman, after all. Good luck trying to get a GL flick on the silver screen, though. Hey, how’s that Wonder Woman film coming along…? Oh yeah. That’s right. It’s not.
Here’s an idea, have Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and all the guys who made JLU rock take over every film project that involves DC heroes not named “Batman.” Somebody at Time Warner needs to find a way to bottle Bruce Timm in a fluid suspension and squirt him liberally on every DC superhero movie they do.
Weapon X has created the perfect Oscar’s host. And xfilms.net scored some cool promo images from the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. Here’s a sample, but head on over there to take a look at the rest.
It’s still lacking on vagina content, but Jackman is a cool Wolverine. But would it have been too much to ask to throw some Anne Hathaway into the flick? She does a great duet with Hugh, and I’m sure she could do a better Rogue than Anna Paquin. Or a better Kitty Pryde than Juno. Plus, I hear she likes to take it in a really uncomfortable place.
Like the cockpit of the Blackbird.
I don’t give a shit if neither Rogue or Kitty was around back then. There’s gotta be a way to throw some more tits into this flick. Gotta be.
You Were Supposed to be the Chosen One!
Ever since Bioware passed on making Knights of the Old Republic 2, I’ve been hoping against hope that they’d once again turn their efforts towards the third game in the series. Of course, Obsidian’s piece of shit Sith Lords did a lot to fuck the series right in the Dark Side.
On top of that, Bioware expressed its butt-hurt about working on licensed properties again. As in “never again.”
But after selling that ass to EA (whose pimp-hand, apparently, is strong), I guess the old laws are no more and a new day has dawned on the possibility of Bioware rocking a new KotOR.
So, okay, we all know that Bioware is working on a new game set in the Old Republic. And we all know it will be a RPG. But there are some extra letters in that sum’bitch. MMORPG.
I know most of you groove on MMOs, but Strict does not. They are as the buzzing of flies to me. Way I see it, there are just too many assholes on God’s green Earth for me to wanna spend my free time gaming with ‘em.
But I’m kinda interested in The Old Republic, because it sounds like you’ll have a lot of single player opportunities to enjoy the game. And I’m also sorta hoping that we’ll see some half-nekkid blue space bitches in it, like Mass Effect.
Well, probably not.
But the latest news at Bioware is that they are working on an online comic with Dark Horse as a companion piece for the game:
Check out the first issue of the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ online comic, Threat of Peace™. Dark Horse has joined forces with LucasArts and BioWare™ to create a new comic series, published online, to introduce fans to The Old Republic. The comic features action-packed, character-driven episodes written by BioWare’s Rob Chestney and published by Dark Horse.
War between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire has gripped the galaxy for decades, but the sacking of Coruscant and a subsequent peace treaty are changing everything. As the Republic scrambles to re-establish order, the Sith Empire moves quickly to consolidate power within its new dominion. Behind closed doors, however, individual Sith Lords engage in a quiet but deadly power struggle, and discord breaks out among the Jedi as they wrestle with the moral implications of the new galactic balance. During these chaotic days, the stories of several critical characters interweave as they pursue their passions, stand up for their convictions, and ultimately lead the galaxy back to the brink of a catastrophic conflict.
Issues of the comic will be released twice a month. Stay tuned and follow the storyline to its dramatic conclusion which sets the stage for the players’ entrance into the game. Read the first issue of Threat of Peace now!
They got the first couple of pages up, and the art ain’t too bad. But…there’s gonna be more pages…right?
PADding the Story
The Outhouse’s own Toy Shed contributor Zechs broke this crazy shit on Friday. Noted comic book legend, Peter Allen David got into a dust-up with LiveJournal’s Scans Daily that ended up in the site being closed down. Apparently, it regarded some scans of X-Factor #40 appearing on Scans Daily.
Obviously without PAD’s or Marvel’s consent.
Clearly a legal “boo-boo”. Well, within hours, the Internets were all abuzz with outcries of butt-hurt. A lot of people were saying that PAD was to blame for the site going down. Here’s PAD in his own words.
February 28, 2009
Did you ever hear of Scans Daily?
I had not.
Kathleen informs me that it began as a site on Live Journal where individual scenes from comic books were put up and commented upon. Apparently, this included certain panels from "Young Justice" to which homoerotic subtext was ascribed. It's a shame I never had a chance to see those. That would have been funny.
But somewhere along the way, it morphed into posters giving page by page summaries of new comics, complete with the entire pages. Writing a critical review and posting up a panel or a page to illustrate a point falls under fair use. Posting over half the book while saying, "This happened, then this happened, then this happened," is not remotely fair use and a blatant copyright violation.
On an "X-Factor #40" thread on CBR, someone put a link to it. This put it on my radar, and--I suspect--on other people's radar as well.
Conscientious people have reported to me when they see flagrant copyright violations of my work (typically entire Star Trek novels being posted online). So I did the same thing, informing Marvel of the scans.
Did Marvel then shut them down? No. Because before Marvel legal had an opportunity to do anything, the scans had already been removed for being a violation of terms of service of Photobucket, the site that enabled the posters to put up pictures on line. Perhaps the CBR links put the site on PB's radar as well as mine.
I did, however, use my wife's Live Journal account to make my presence known. A fan asked if I had informed Marvel about the scans. An honest question. I replied honestly. I said yes, I had, but that the scans were pulled before Marvel took any action.
Two days later, Scans Daily was shut down completely. Purely a guess: Photobucket complained to Live Journal and LJ said, "Enough's enough."
The reaction on the blogosphere? Peter David got Scans Daily shut down.
Well...no. Again: My intervention wound up having no impact. And besides, if anyone got Scans Daily shut down, it was the fans themselves. Some will own up to that reality. Many, I suspect, won't.
Now, having seen PAD eviscerate muthafuckas on the old Newsarama boards personally, I have to say the man don’t fuck around. Especially if you got shit to say about his work (Alex Cruz, you are sorely missed, jajajaja).
Looking at some of the comments on his statement, PAD is clearly in the mood to put folks in the hurt locker. A lot of people feel that Scans Daily provided a non-paid method of advertising for comics that people might not otherwise buy. And in my opinion, this is one of the biggest impacts the Internet has had on comic; free advertising. The site also had a rule about posting content. You could only post 11 pages total from a 22 page book, and if someone took…well…took issue with the issue, the mods would have the content removed.
In other words, some folks are making the argument that posting pages on the site helps sales.
PAD counters and states that comics sales have been steadily dropping for years so it’s empirically impossible to show that Scans Daily has been helping sales.
Well, I dunno. I can say this: I would never have given X-Factor a second look without the online community pimping the book every chance they got. I ain’t never been to Scans Daily, but I’ve seen pages from the book posted here and there over the years, and I liked what I saw. So, I picked it up and enjoyed it. I enjoyed it because of PAD’s writing, but I picked it up because of folks on the Internets. See how that worked out?
Now, in a world where you’re paying between 3 to 4 bucks for a five minute read that may or may not suck shit, I dunno about you, but I’m not gonna rush out and buy a book just because Marvel or DC says it’s the greatest thing since turds with tapered ends (they keep your shithole from slamming shut when you poo). And because my comic shop is all the way the fuck across town, I don't get out there on a weekly basis to just hang around browsing and what-not.
I mean, in a world where your sales are already dropping, you really can’t wave off the value of some free advertising, or fans pimping a book they love to other potential fans. That’s just not logical.
Another Outhouse poster, Dooz, peeped me out to this Tony Harris statement a couple days ago.
If you want your comics just be quiet with all the belly aching. Jeezus. This is no different than ANY ad that has been placed in comics since the dawn of time. And guess what? AD REVENUE is what keeps comics going. NOT sales. There aren’t enough fans buying books to keep the industry going. Period. No argument. I have worked in the industry for 17 years. I know this to be true. I got in right at the tail end of the last BOOM. Then the bottom dropped out.
Harris is an award winning artist who’s worked on Starman, Iron Man and Ex Machina. I’m gonna guess he knows what he’s talking about, right? And if so, then posting a few pages from a single issue ain’t gonna have a negative or positive material impact on sales. To put it another way, logic dictates that some scans of the book cannot be empirically stated to have a deleterious effect on sales.
Look, I ain’t trying to say who’s right and who’s wrong here. And all I got is anecdotal evidence about people being motivated to pick up books because of word of mouth on the Internet. Or actual scans of mouth, in this case.
But it’s unlikely to harm PAD’s wallet in the least bit. These folks aren’t posting shit to make money off of it. By all accounts, they’re posting it to share their love of the man’s work.
So, what do you think? Is PAD overreacting? Are the fans taking too many liberties? And hey, maybe we could get PAD to give the Outhouse an interview to get his opinion on the…ahem…issue.
Until next time…watch what you post…