Monthly Archives: November 2013

Call For Contributors!

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Somethings a-Stirrin in Jonah Hex

Decoding DC – Part III

Story I Read: Chapter 3 “The Resurrectionist” (Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo #3 Oct. 1993)

Jonah fights off the Posse.

Jonah fights off the Posse.

Having gone through three issues of Two Gun Mojo, I am now wondering if I am doing the comic disservice by reviewing it in it’s original publication order. Perhaps, I should have reviewed the main story arc as a whole; meaning all five issues. Doing this probably would have stopped my complaints that each issue is a slow burn which has no pay off. Then I remember, when these stories debuted in 1993, readers would be seeing each individual chapter monthly.

How would this affect their reading of the story?

I project, that it would have caused them to be hyper focused on detail. Maybe, this is what John R. Lansdale wants. Maybe he wants us readers to deeply analyze each panel in an effort to see how the story flows.

Taking that idea and using it as my guide let’s plunge into Chapter 3.

Chapter 3, like the two preceding chapters, directly picks up were the last one left off. Jonah is riding with the wounded squaw on his horse. The deranged Granny led posse is still relentlessly pursuing him. After some fantastic acrobatics Hex out smarts them and shoots the majority of them dead. He then finds the fly covered body of the Squaw lying in the middle of a field.

There is so much death in the beginning of this story.

Jonah brutally guns down one posse member by shooting him in both eyes.

What an image.

Death is an extremely important mechanism in Two Gun Mojo and this is made abundantly clear in this chapter. /There is something extravagant in the death of the ‘villainous’ posse at the beginning, yet the companions that helped Jonah, are either left to be covered in flies in a field ala the Squaw, or dumped in a garbage heap like Slow Go Smith. Something is being said about the motives behind heroism vs. survival. The Squaw and Slow Go Smith made a dangerous decision aiding the known dangerous Jonah Hex, where as the countless villains that come up against him die in an extravagant and almost operatic fashion. They die either way, but in Jonah’s world you either die in a perceived smart way like the villainous posse, or a perceived ‘stupid way like Jonah’s two “friends.”

How extremely bleak this idea is.

I must admit I am still unable to get a grasp on the nature of Jonah Hex. I can’t figure out if he is a hero, even an anti-hero, or if he too is a villain.

Is Jonah Hex’s world populated by only villains?

Am I misguided to even attempt to quantify who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist?

Jonah Hex does catch up with the perceived antagonist in this one. He stumbles across the rag tagHex 3 1 snake oil band in another town. Doc Cross’ band looks like a Halloween shop staff on Devil’s Night.  They are somewhere in between a freak show and mental hospital. This band is shilling out an elixir that is said to give everlasting life. Jonah is uninterested in the elixir but more interested in revenge so he attempts to take Doc Cross unawares. Little does he know that Doc Cross knew he was coming and Jonah is walking into an ambush. The band captures Hex and locks him into a pickle barrel. Apparently this barrel can reanimate the dead as it was already used on the red eyed evil zombie Wild Bill Hickock. The whole scene is fantastic.

As I said in a previous review, Jonah Hex is best in the supernatural. Doc Cross, who seems to be a goblin of some sort or at least is drawn in that way, brings a real threat to the story that the two dimension human uglies could not.

Death to Doc Cross’ band needs to be survived as well, which continues the theme that death is something that is both hugely present and to be overcome in this world. I am still unsure what exactly is being said about it, but after this issue I at least know it to be important. Certainly, this is something that will carry over and be clarified in the next issue.

There is something going on under the surface here.

I still can’t say I enjoy the vagueness and the ploddiness of these issues but something is surely getting ready to happen.

I hope.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Pros: The Opening Posse Sequence, Doc Cross’ Band, Jonah’s funeral orders for Slow Go.

Cons: The sudden death of the Squaw, The tacky adventure in a new town, the unclear paneling.

Previous Review: Chapter 2 “Invitation to a Hanging” (Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo Oct. 1993)

Upcoming Review:  Chapter 4 “Vendetta Times Two” (Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo Nov. 1993)

Can Marvel Studios make Hank “Ant-Man” Pym a like-able character while staying true to the comics?

You know. The thing we must remember is that Pym was later retconned as suffering bipolar disorder. Perhaps this angle could help the character. Though knowing how Marvel’s film track record has been, they will probably just disregard all the source material.

On The Topic Of:

1772958-antman

 

Somehow, despite himself- Hank Pym aka Ant-Man, aka Giant-Man, aka Goliath, aka Yellowjacket, aka Wasp II is one of my favorite Marvel characters- though it may have more to do with his powers than with Pym himself since I include DC’s similar Ray “The Atom” Palmer in my list of favorite characters as well. But all that aside, in 2015, one of my favorite writer/directors Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs The World fame will be bringing Marvel Comics most controversial super-hero to the big screen in what is reported to be a comedic heist movie by Marvel Studios head Avi Arad.

I eagerly look forward to this movie, combining one of my favorite directors with one of my favorite heroes- it can’t really miss in my opinion, but unfortunately I am not the average comic book fan/comic movie fan.

The…

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Marvel films: Why bad guys should go good

I think if you look at those characters, you will notice that the majority have not been adapted from their comic book counterparts, in fact some have been created inspire of. As you well know the comics present three dimensional characters. In many cases, these cinematic creations are bastardized simplistic adaptations. Whiplash for example was an amalgamation of two characters. The Mandarin was similar in name only.

I, must say, there should be a greater attempt at adapting the source material rather then creating something new. This perspective killed the first Batman franchise, nearly destroyed Superman and has put asunder many others, Daredevil comes to mind. (It was not Afflecks fault that movie failed.) When looking to actual characters that utilized the source material to their advantage we find detailed portrayals. Ledger’s Joker comes to mind and also Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2, and obviously, Magneto. Your assessment of Loki is a tad subjective. Tom Hiddleston is known to be quite the fan. Though sometimes he deals with very poor writing, some of his stuff in Dark World was less then stellar, he usually cranks out a balanced performance informed by Loki’s need to be vindicated by his adoptive father. But he’s a diamond in the rough.

Absolute Power

Image

Despite working with decades of material, the Marvel film continuity is – so far – almost void of bad guys who are anything but, well, bad. While cardboard, power-hungry world destroyers can be fun, they certainly aren’t enough to carry the antagonistic side of an entire franchise.

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Inside the Establishment of the Fantastic Four Model

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read: “The Menace of the Miracle Man” (Fantastic Four #3 Mar. 1962)

fantasticfour3Those of you who have read many of my reviews, will, by now, be familiar with the common themes I think infect every panel of the Four’s stories. They are as follows: Torch will do something totally irrational and self serving, Thing will whine about his looks, Fantastic will be cold and unpleasant, and Sue will placate all the males. However I noticed, in the opening days, the Fantastic Four is a very different team. The Four are cohesive, intelligent and a family unit. Unlike their later incarnations, they never attack a villain alone but use the combined power of the collective quartet to defeat their foe.

Where did those earlier traits begin?

I can emphatically say they began, here, in this issue.

This issue can be considered the first issue of the Marvel Universe to feature a costumed villain. The Miracle Man seems a cliche magic act, Bela Lugosi cape and everything, but he possesses a great power beyond illusion. Apparently, he can mould the atoms of the air to his will. Showing his great power in front of a paying audience, as a performer does, the Miracle Man challenges the Fantastic Four to a duel of abilities. One by one he demonstrates how his powers are greater then any superhero team. Naturally, this bothers the Four immensely, and their frustration shows when they are called out to be embarrassed in front of a paying crowd. Up until now, the Four had not been faced with a crisis of celebrity. They have had to deal with the pressures of international fame, but never had they been publicly challenged to prove their worth. This would become a common trope in later issues. The Four are all proven wanting for the Miracle Man seems to be the greater strength. Thing seems to be the one character that is most affected by this as he threatens to smash the Miracle Man into oblivion. Not a very heroic reaction, I would say.

The first character that acts in a heroic fashion in the issue is the Human Torch. Having noticed that the Miracle Man has reanimated a movie monster wax statue, he

The Miracle Man!

The Miracle Man!

heads out to face the walking statue alone.  Suddenly, Torch is that vain glorious young go getter that is featured in later issues. Why the sudden change?

Johnny Storm was so likeable only one issue ago, suddenly he forsakes his team to take down a threat alone?

Torch explains the reason for this sudden action is he feels disrespected by the team.

Again, this makes little to no sense. In Fantastic Four #2, John saved the day, as he did in the premiere issue. It seems to me that the early Four bend over backwards for the little flamer. Even Ben Grimm is has been kind to the character thus far.

Sure, they spar on occasion, but it is a brotherly sparring.

All the sudden Torch has become unpleasant and their is no rhyme or reason for the change.

The bulk of the issue is spent on the search and subsequent battle with the reanimated monster. The team, after Torch’s empty attempts at finding the creature fail miserably,  use the non-dividable version of the Fantasticar and go on a vendetta to find the thing. Over the course of the search the team divides and goes on individual searches. Each character faces the monster and each one fails. This tactic becomes the normal Fantastic Four strategy and the result is always one that shows that the sum of the parts is better then the individuals.

The Fantastic Four never works without all of its members.

Great message.

Until, of course, Torch discovers that the monster is made out of wax and can melt him. Johnny somehow didn’t find this out in the first or the second encounter. Truly, an odd bit of coincidental writing.

After the team faces the Miracle Man they discover that he did not possess any of these powers. The Miracle Man is actually a gifted hypnotist who has been fooling the world into thinking that he is omnipotent. The Miracle Man can hypnotize the whole world? The issue never explains this.

Was just the Fantastic Four hypnotized or was this mass hysteria?

Furthermore, why cant the Miracle Man actually possess these powers?

Perhaps, this was Stan Lee’s way of maintaining equilibrium with the world. At this point the Four needed to remain the most powerful creatures on Earth or they would not truly be worthy of their mantle. Remember this is exceptionally early in Marvel and Earth-616 was nowhere near any Marvel creative’s mind yet. Still, it seems very much like they are trying to fool the readership.

Stan Lee, on many occasions, has said how he doesn’t like stories or character constructions that fool the audience. Just look up his opinions on the problems with Superman vs. Thor. Stan thinks Superman’s flight capabilities and the lack of scientific explanation is an example lazy writing. Writing that doesn’t respect the audience.

But Miracle Man being able to hypnotize the world without any explanation doesn’t fool them? Hmm.

Stan Lee truly is a man of mystery.

Pros: The Battle Sequences. Thing’s sense of humor. The Miracle Man’s challenge. the Diagram of the Penthouse

Cons: Empty explanation for the Miracle Man’s perceived power. The extremely convenient ending.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5.

Previous Review:  “The Man in the Ant Hill” (Tales to Astonish #27 Jan. 1962)

Upcoming Review:The Hulk“(The Incredible Hulk #1 May 1962)

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Happy Thorsday! David Ward on Thor and Loki

Check out this wonderful article discussing our favourite Marvel Asgardian pare.

Biff Bam Pop!

Thor is a twit.

He’s boastful, arrogant, temperamental, and downright stupid. His half-brother, Loki, got the advantage on him more times than not, and Thor’s ususal response was to hit him with a hammer or come crying back (well, ok, screaming and yelling – that’s more manly, after all) to the Allfather, Odin. I can’t blame Loki for playing games with the Asgardian; he kept falling for them. He was quite possibly the easiest Mark in Norse myth, and for the trickster Loki, a source of endless entertainment.

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Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Thanksgiving Comic Book Covers

Though I, myself, am Canadian and there are no staff that contribute to this blog that are American, I thought it would be a grand gesture to our American friends to share some Thanksgiving cheer. Remember us next October when Canada celebrates Turkey Day!

Outright Geekery

From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.

I love this time of year! Spending time with loved ones, eating tons of food, watching tons of football, and all the spare time! Thanksgiving is a great time to watch those beloved movies for the hundredth time, throw in some Doctor Who Blu-Rays or sit back with a fat stack of comics. I mean, what else would we be thankful for, right? And since my geekery of choice is, in fact, comics, we set the table and try to ignore our drunken uncle with Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Thanksgiving Comic Book Covers.

Honorable Mention: JSA Classified Issue #32

Green Lantern

The only thing Thanksgiving about this cover is the title, and maybe Grundy’s after fight meal. I’m not sure why…

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Ant-Man: The Zeitgeist Superhero

Story I Read: “Music to Scream By” (Tales to Astonish #47 Sept 1963)

TA047coverRecently, there was a commenter, on one of my reviews, who took me to task for reviewing these issues by modern standards. I replied back that I do not seek to understand these stories in a 60s zeitgeist context, but to judge their reading worth for today. We all know, some literature is not worth reading today, beyond historical research, because of its backward ideologies and racist overtones. Just pick up a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or watch the movie The Birth of a Nation, and try and explain their worth without sounding like a pundit on Fox news. Hank Pym is the picture boy of this type of writing.

The most troubling character for Marvel to rectify and keep current, over the years, is, without a doubt, Hank Pym. Not only is he an extraordinarily cold, unpleasant character, he is also a racist and misogynist to the point of being a perpetrator of spousal abuse. It is still fresh, in all us Marvel fan’s minds, that horrible moment when Henry reached out and hit Janet. I don’t need to rehash that moment here, as it, no doubt, will feature in a later review.

This is an interesting issue as it is a ‘one off’ storyline that, I think, was always intended as a one off. Often, I get the sense with this period that some one-off issues were intended to create a new reoccurring villain that didn’t pan out. This is not the case with Trago: the Horn Player.

Trago is rather interesting. He is a petty thieving jazz musician who goes to the darkest part of India to learn the art of ‘musical charming’ to use in a massive heist. I gotta say that this is both a brilliantly cool and wildly creative concept. If it wasn’t for the fact that every person he meets, including the mystic that imparts this wisdom, is caucasian looking, this story could have been a ‘barn burner.’ May be the turbans they wear were supposed to mean they were somehow ethnic? I am not sure. Turban or no, it seems in this issue, everyone in India is white.

This wasn’t the only piece of blatantly racist art/slash writing present in the issue, by a long shot. Not only does Hank Pym refer to jazz music as “jungle music,” but the one black musician seen, is drawn with both accentuated lips and a large gummy smile. This is 1963 and yet the most frightening ‘Minstrel art’ undertones are present.  Even these stereotypes were considered taboo, at least above the Mason-Dixon Line and, therefore, in California by this point. These moments made it hard for me to focus on the story and racism is very hard to look past.

As for Wasp, poor Janet is called everything from a “simple girl” to an “old ball and chain.” This is not done ironically as it ‘may be done in an Iron Man story, but is presented as a matter of a fact. At one point, Hank is ready to leave the club after defeating Trago and he calls for Janet to accompany him. She does not respond. The next panel then depicts Janet caught in a trance beside a large diamond. Hank then says, and I kid you not: “So like a woman to be obsessed by a diamond.” The supposed vanity of Janet has been brought up before, but never this blatantly insulting. What does she see in Pym anyway? He spends the whole issue moaning about how he hates jazz and thinks her hobbies are worthless.

I certainly don’t get the attraction.

I would normally write this issue off with a complete zero, but there is one worthy component within its useless 60s trash pages. Ant-Man is rides on a flying ant

This is the moment of grief.

This is the moment of grief.

named Korr. This is a far better mode of transportation then that improbable catapult that seems to boom Pym anywhere he wants in the world. During Trago’s charm of New York, Korr is killed by a ‘tranced garter snake’ wile saving the miniature pair. This is  a bittersweet moment. It doesn’t last long though. Hank says within one thought bubble

“My dear Korr has sacrificed himself for my life! Never mind that, we have more important things to deal with.”

Well, doesn’t that just endear Henry into the cockles of your heart. He further suffers a moment of grief at the end of the story, but his terseness over the freshly dead carcass of his supposed good buddy was cold beyond belief.

So who’s responsible for this mess?

Stan Lee?

H.E. Huntley?

Don Heck?

I don’t know. Let’s chalk this one up to to…. what did one of the other commenters say?

Marvel’s overwhelming work schedule.

I chalk it up to plain and disgusting backward writing.

Let this issue die. Will will not miss it.

Rating: 1/2 of 5.

Pros: The Korr moment. Trago’s potential.

Cons: The Racism. The Sexism. Hank Pym’s dickishness. The terrible minstrel like art. Just about everything.

Previous Review: “X-Men” (Uncanny X-Men #1 Sept 1963)

Upcoming Review:The Lava Man” (Journey Into Mystery #97 Oct. 1963)

‘Agents of SHIELD’ ratings stabilize and … improve?

Good News for Agents of SHIELD. I love this show and hope it sticks around for a long time.

Has ‘X-Men’ Gotten “Too Real?”

I certainly agree. This Magneto video is great. People have too much sensitivity about history. If we still mourn and cry about events fifty years ago, we allow guys like Oswald to win.

Life in Technicolor

Long-time fans and newcomers alike were delighted when the X-Men: Days of Future Past press machine churned out a viral video and a related website this afternoon.  The video and website featured a new take on the JFK assassination conspiracy. Both suggested that metallokinetic mutant Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto, redirected Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets and killed John F. Kennedy. This new and entirely invented theory has been dubbed “the bent bullet theory.” Details regarding Lehnsherr’s arrest, secret trial and imprisonment were also addressed in the new material.

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