Chicago Geek Guy

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Category: The Pull List (page 2 of 2)

The Pull List: Please Don’t Suck

I have an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, a coil of disappointment waiting to loosen. Tomorrow night, I’m doing something I haven’t done since Time Burton’s Batman in 1989. I’m going to watch a superhero movie on opening day.

It’s not that I will object to the crowds or any cosplay I might see. I’m really more worried that the movie will just suck.

Yes. I’m going to see Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

I’ve got to be one of the few people that actually enjoyed Superman: Man of Steel. I didn’t care for the depiction of Jonathan Kent, or the general even emotional tone all of Zach Synder’s films. I found the movie’s dystopian view of Krypton fascinating.  The frenetic, kinetic fight scenes felt filled with super heroic power.

The movie effectively conveyed the scope of Superman’s power. To push a hero of Superman’s strength means inviting cataclysm, courting potentially worldwide destruction, and insuring high casualty count. Superman alone cannot handle these threats while protecting people.  When mere humans get involved at this level, they tend to do themselves a lot of damage. Superman: Man of Steel proves Superman needs an ensemble universe and I’m glad to see DC and Warner Brothers moving in that direction.

If it’s not MoS what’s driving my concern? Back in Summer of 2011 I had to choose between Green Lantern and X-men: First Class. I chose poorly. If there was a film I ever really watched to like, it was Green Lantern. It just didn’t happen.

I know my fears are unreasonable. My lack of enjoyment for Ben  Affleck’s Daredevil doesn’t prevent me from enjoying the Netflix series. A good chunk of the pre-release buzz has been positive so far. It’s just that…

I’m a DC guy. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman are some of the first characters I read growing up. I was a Teenaged Marvel Zombie, but DC comics outnumber Marvel in my collection 2 to 1. A 6” Mego  Aquaman action figure was the first I collected. These are “my” characters. I want to see them we ll cared for.

I’ll be back on Friday to let you know how DC  and Warner Brothers did.

The Pull List: The “I am Missing C2E2” Edition

Way back when, I used to manage a comic book store. I remember my time at Comic Relief in the Loop very fondly. The early 90’s were a great time for retail comics and games. I met all sorts of interesting people, including author Peter David and film critic Gene Siskel. And I got put on “The List.”

I never knew who maintained The List or how my name got on there. People on The List got invited to a number of industry specific events, including a rather wonderful retailer dinner in advance of the Marvel Expo in 1994. I really enjoyed sitting down to eat at Dick’s Last Resort with comic creators.

I was a bit surprised when, after being out of the comic book biz for more than 15 years, Reed Exhibitions contacted me in 2010 to join their focus group for a new comic convention they wanted to host in Chicago.

C2E2banner-2-702x300

I never could find that one issue I was looking for.

I’m not a huge fan of comic conventions. I see them as a marketplace; somewhere to track down some obscure issue needed to fill a gap. With the rise of the Internet, I didn’t need conventions to find those missing books. Any number of pop culture sites would publish company news or announcements moments after they happened. I’m not a fan of autographs or standing in line. Compared to gaming conventions, comic cons seem almost anti-social. At GenCon (my favorite convention), I sit down with strangers then spend time with them in four hour blocks to try to save the world, escape madness, or conquer all. We have to interact as part of the game. Comic cons just don’t have that need to really interact with anybody.

After plying me with much food and alcohol, I fear I didn’t have anything helpful to say to Reed Exibitions. When they launched C2E2 later that year, I wasn’t really impressed.

Six years later, I have seen the error of my ways, not early enough to actually go this year, unfortunately.

Cosplay is a great way to connect with others.

Cosplay is a great way to connect with others.

Going to Anime Midwest a few years changed my mind. I learned hanging out with other cosplayers, Steampunks, and fans of X band is inherently social. There is something to be said for letting your geek flag fly while surrounded by the tribe. There is a connection created by fandom; that ability to talk with one of your people and have them understand while  one’s significant other or real world friends might just glaze over.  I am attracted to the idea of a participating in a panel discussion about a topic that speaks directly to a hobby I love.

The Racebending.com panel from 2015.

The Racebending.com panel from 2015.

I can’t make it this year, but I’m already making plans for next. If I were to go, this year I would hit these panels.

Marry, Do, or Kill? What Will It Take to Shatter Female Stereotypes in Comics?

Time: March 18, 2016, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

Description: Female characters in comics have historically been limited to sexy good girls or sexy bad girls, with little between. Readers are ready for change! A Panel of Writers, Artists and Editors weigh in on “strong female characters,” “fridged women,” the Bechdel test and troubleshooting storytelling stereotypes. With Sandy King (Writer/Film Producer, Storm King Productions), Cat Staggs (Writer/Artist, Orphan Black), Jennie Wood (Writer, FLUTTER), Enrica Jang (Writer, House of Montresor, and moderated by Brigid Alverson (CBR).

As a male writer fond of portraying female characters, this sounds like a great session. I’ve read too much amateur fiction that reduces women to objects or overused tropes. That’s not a trap I want to fall into.

You fight like a girl! and Other Awesome Ideas involving Women and Comics

March 19, 2016, 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM

Description: Female readership can be attributed to a recent spur in the sales of comics and graphic novels in the United States: all major publishers are increasing character roles available to girls and women. In this panel, industry professionals and educators will explore the shifting nature of the field of comics with a focus on how creators are (and should be) focusing on strong roles for girls and women, and why it’s important for female readers to find themselves fairly represented on the page.

I feel representation is so important in comics, and the industry has only begun to make the slightest of inroads. I want to hear the argument and plan for continuing the trend.

Professional Geek: How to Turn Your Passion into A Career

March 20, 2016, 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

Description: A panel of professional geeks from various industries, including video games, music composers, producers, podcasters, and journalists offer the audience sage advice for how to break into your chosen industry, and tell some funny stories of how they got into the jobs they’re in now. Includes a discussion on the different ways that being a geek can help you become a better professional, and advice on everything from copyright law to networking and turning your favorite thing into your career.

Actually, writing and publishing a comic is something on my bucket list.

The COMIC BOOK CREATOR AS CLIENT: An Overview of Representing the Comic Book Creator and Comic Book Properties

Description: Comic books are the new hot properties; movies, television, and the publishing industry are all scrambling to acquire the latest graphic novels. Are you ready to represent the creator of the next superhero smash hit? This CLE will help introduce lawyers to the business and legal landscape of the comic book industry with an emphasis on practical skills.

In my day job, I work with a host of lawyers. I am very interested in understanding how the legal and comic worlds overlap.

Anyone going to C2E2 this year? What do you plan to do? What should a first timer experience?

The Pull List for March 9, 2016

Since I was wrapped up in Daredevil last week, I thought I would point out a few choice items from today and last Wednesday.

vampVampirella #1 – Written by Kate Leth with art by Eman Casallos

The last of Dynamite’s Gail Simone driven reworks, Vampirella Vol. 3 #1 strips the lead character of her one-piece ribbon of a costume for something more practical for a fighter of the supernatural. I find it nice to see Vampirella step into the modern age.

The first issue of the series follows Vampirella as she makes a move to Los Angeles. Beyond the regular crop of monsters and other vampires, she also has to face the threat of the paparazzi.

The book does offer up a good jumping on point for the curious reader. Its words and art flow smoothly and provide solid fare. Relationships continue from previous volumes, but nothing so complex that they can’t be understood within the first couple of pages. I found it a fun read and I’m looking forward to picking up more.

bwBlack Widow #1 – Written by Mark Wade with art by Chris Samnee

The promise of Mark Wade’s work on a comic sucked me in again. He does not disappoint.

The book starts in media res and keeps the action moving throughout. The first issue relates one long chase scene, establishing Black Widow as the preeminent spy and, above all, a survivor.

The reader is left wanting more when the final page turns. There’s not much substance to the opening issue of the new series, but it was enough to make sure I added the book to my pull list.

jan160150Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #3 – Written by Gail Simone with art by Jim Calafiore

What happens when all the superheroes of a city go insane? Gail Simone answered that question in last year’s, Kickstarter funded graphic novel, Leaving Megalopolis. The book painted a picture of a world filled with sadistic, super powered horrors.

Surviving Meglopolis revisits the devastation of the metropolis to offer a more thorough exploration of the mortals who were left behind. Overall, the comic provides a fascinating look at the abuse of power and its affects at a street level. Neither the words or art shy away from the potential, all too realistic, results of dominion gone mad.

I believe it one of Gail Simone’s best works and well worth a look see.

The Pull List for March 2, 2016

With the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil kicking off on March 18, I thought I would take advantage of a slow week and offer up some background two of the characters joining the cast. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, but if you haven’t read about Elektra’s appearance in the Daredevil comic, I suggest skipping the last paragraph.

3-2-2016-9-27-33-AMFrank Castle, The Punisher

The Punisher first appeared in Amazing Spider-man #129, 1974. A victim of a shooting that killed his wife and children, Frank Castle vowed to wage war on criminals. His willingness to kill, kidnap, torture, and extort bad guys made for an unusual character at that time, although he did “team up” with a number of other super-heroes. By the late 80’s and early 90’s, Punisher’s antics left him as just one of a new crop of anti-heroes. Marvel Comics did their best to capitalize on the character’s popularity by launching three, monthly comics and a feature film in 1989. The Punisher even appeared in Archie in 1994.

The characterization of Frank Castle has varied considerably through the years. At one end, he’s a soul searching, honorable soldier, frustrated by his role as vigilante. Other authors have portrayed him as completely insane, going so far as to shoot a pair of litterers (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man #82, 1983).

I suspect Daredevil will draw from Frank Miller’s seminal run on the comic, specifically the “Child’s Play” storyline in issues #183 and #184 from 1982. The story sets both Daredevil and The Punisher against the same villain, exposing the similarities and differences between them. An obsession to fight crime drives them both. While Daredevil strives for justice, however, Punisher seeks vengeance.

The power vacuum left by Wilson Fisk’s departure feels right for such character development. An ongoing, TV series looks like a great forum to build and explore the dichotomies between Daredevil and Punisher over time. Hopefully, this season of Daredevil will wash the rather bitter aftertaste of three so-so movies out of our mouths.

Acotilletta2-Elektra_H4HElektra, Elektra Natchios

Created by Frank Miller, Elektra first appeared inDaredevil #168, January, 1981. Introduced as a love interest to the title character, Elektra quickly emerged as a popular character in her own right. However, she has not done well outside of her handling by Miller and has yet to maintain a stand-alone comic for very long.

Elektra Natchios, daughter of Greece’s Ambassador to the US, attended Columbia University with Matt Murdock. The two became lovers. Elektra left school and the States after a terrorist attack, and failed rescue attempt by Matt, led to the death of her father. Alone and disillusioned, she wandered the orient to train in the martial arts. She eventually joined then separated a group of assassins known as The Hand.

As Punisher and Daredevil act as foils for each other, the early appearances of Elektra add a third element to mark the character development of Matt Murdock; obsession without moral direction. Elektra enters the conflict as a paid assassin, bringing her into direct confrontation with Daredevil. She begins to question her actions as her time and interactions with Daredevil increase. As the story progresses, Matthew’s desire to redeem his old lover grows and Elektra’s steps in that direction significantly endanger her.

Like Punisher, a long form serial production seems better suited than a movie to develop this character. Given Elektra’s moral ambiguity, It will be interesting to see where she fits into the established storyline of the Netflix series. Will she enter as an ally or enemy?

For all her success under Miller, it can’t be said that the often problematic author treated her well in the pages of Daredevil. She was introduced then disposed of in one story arc to only further the development of the main, male character. I’m hoping her television debut will provide writers a better opportunity to provide character depth and growth Elektra deserves.

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