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Tag: Wonder Woman

The Pull List for April 13, 2016

Since I’ve been writing other comics related stuff the last couple of weeks, I thought I would spend today writing about some books you may have missed.

bpBlack Panther #1, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates with art by Brian Stelfreeze. Released April 6, 2016

This is not Black Panther or the country that he rules, Wakanda, at their peak. Both have faced turmoil: Wakanda, mass death and destruction from an attack from Atlantis; T’challa, the loss of his sister and the devastation of his homeland.

Coates sets up an intriguing premise. Can this superhero, the king, rebuild both his country and himself. Plenty of complications and challenges lie between them and success.

Coats and Stelfreeze had crafted an intriguing and modern look at an old and oft forgotten character and his world. I’m adding this comic to my regular pull list.

detailMockingbird #2, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk. Released April 13, 2016

I found the first issue of Mockingbird and intriguing slice of life story about a recently empowered superhero. While I’m not familiar with her work, Cain clever knows how to mix humor in with the narrative. Niemczyk provides high quality, if undistinguished, illustrations. Disjointed in parts, the book planted enough story hooks and questions to interest me at least through the first story arc..

WWE1v1_CASE_A_5640e7023850f1.23440311Wonder Woman Earth One OGN, written by Grant Morrison with art by Yanick Paquette. Released April 11, 2016

Morrison and Paquette offer up a modern retelling of Wonder Woman’s origin while maintaining respect for the original work from the 40’s by creator, William Moulton Marston. The Earth One version of Paradise Island is a technological wonderment. Beautifully rendered sky cycles fly above advancements as the incredibly powerful Purple Ray. This is an unabashedly anti-male version of the Amazons. Contempt for men oozes from their words as much as sensuality and good health emanates from their depictions.

This Wonder Woman very closely matches the ideals Marston related in this interview from The American Scholar in 1943.

Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

Of course this ideal brings the Amazons into conflict with the outside world, once pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on the island. The struggle between the two societies offers the reader an interesting point of view on both American and Amazonian culture. Morrison presents them both as equally flawed with various strengths.

I found the book beautiful to look at, entertaining to read, and thought provoking. I know It will be far too long before the next volume is released.

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Batman v Superman

I mumble about my enjoyment of Superman: Man of Steel. For all the visual spectacle, I felt the film lacked emotion. My excitement watching it felt as muted as the color palate used to depict the doomed dystopia of Krypton.

I will loudly proclaim my love for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. My worry and the sick feeling I had in my stomach have been replaced by a wide smile and a handful of chocolate covered almonds from the concession stand.

These frames from B:TDK will look awfully familiar after seeing BvS.

These frames from B:TDK will look awfully familiar after seeing BvS.

Director Zach Snyder and cinematographer Larry Fong craft each shot with care to produce a sense of wonder. The pictures on the screen tug at the emotions and provide a series of stunning visuals. The images draw strongly from Frank Miller’s seminal work Batman: The Dark Night Returns, plucking art directly from the page up to screen.

BvS does not offer a very smart or mature Superman. Instead, it serves up a very flawed and human one.

Henry Cavill plays a subdued Superman. He is that quiet kid on the block, trying so hard to do the right thing and so evidently not understanding the gap between his actions and the perceptions of them. Confusion plays out across his face as the public tries to wrap their heads around the significance of the appearance of a powerful alien among them. A fire breaks out, he goes to save a child. During a flood, he rescues families. When called by his government to present himself, he goes. He plays the victim to the bully of Batman, pleading with the Dark Knight as a naïve boy scout in a desperate attempt to forestall a fight.

These two characters clearly adore each other in BvS.

Clark and Lois clearly adore each other in BvS.

An established love affair between Clark Kent and Lois Lane has not been presented on the screen before. Scenes between Cavill and Amy Adam as Lane, finally develop some chemistry between the two. Seeing these characters together, with their mix of playfulness and seriousness, feels real and honest. I believe it’s part of the reason behind the success of the current Superman: Lois and Clark comic and it works beautifully here.

If you're not reading this book. You should be.

If you’re not reading this book, you should be.

For all the previews of the armor and incredible toys, Ben Affleck reestablishes Batman as a detective and Bruce Wayne as a martini guzzling womanizer. The movie offers a vision of a slightly older Batman, a grognard deeply affected by his years of conflict. Again, Snyder pulls the best parts from the Batman: The Dark Night Returns, leaving Affleck’s surprisingly compassionate Batman war weary and tired, at the brink of true, authoritarian madness.

This is a Batman from the Golden Age. He is well armed and, using the words from 1940’s Batman #1, willing to “spit death.”

Frames from Batman #1, 1940.

Frames from Batman #1, 1940.

Jeremy Irons as Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth deserves more than a mention. His version of Alfred offers a more compassionate foil to an increasingly pressed Batman in an effort to pull his boss back from the edge. The movie Alfred serves to remind Bruce that his efforts and time spent outside of the costume matter as least as much as those within.

A few choice lines reused from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns spice up the portrayal with sardonic humor.

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I admit. I squeed at Wonder Woman’s entrance.

Without a doubt, Gal Gadot steals every scene where she appears. Diana Price never came off as so cool and collected, so poised and classic. Wonder Woman has never felt more right, a warrior princess from an island of Amazons. Gadot projects incredible insight into her character with a single, fleeting smirk during the climactic fight scene. Just thinking about that moment gets me counting the days until June 23, 2017 and the release of Wonder Woman.

 

It works better than you might think. Really.

They work better than you might think. Really.

It took a while for me to warm to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The comic book Luthor always feels unflappable; not one step ahead of the heroes, but five or six. Eisenberg’s character struck me as too flighty and disheveled to ever rise to the Presidency as did his comic book counterpart. Only in remembering Gene Hackman’s portrayal in 1978’s Superman, did I make peace with this interpretation. This is not the first time I’ve seen a more manic version of the villain. To Snyder’s and writers’ Chris  Terrio and David S. Goyer’s credit, this version of Lex Luthor works very well on film.

The story spills out like a comic book and can’t bear much scrutiny or careful consideration. The audience figuring out Lex Luthor’s convoluted scheme well before either Batman or Superman suits the movie, however.

This is an epic film, filled with epic characters. Like the gods of mythology, these are characters laid low by fatal flaws. A beacon of hope, Superman cannot conceive of the machinations of evil that surround and entrap him. A creature of darkness, Batman lies trapped by his inability to see anything but dark intrigues and collusions. This brings them into natural conflict with each other. I am thankful for the screenwriters who decided to use some pretty obscure bit of comic trivia to unite the two together. The conflict allows the friendship and respect of the two to begin.

I believe Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice marks director Zack Synder’s conquest of style with substance. I enjoyed both Superman: Man of Steel and Watchmen. For all their carefully crafted composition, they did little for me emotionally. BvS left me breathless and stunned, unsure where the movie was taking me, and not wanting the experience to end.

Fortunately, with the hints of the struggles to come sprinkled throughout the film, I know Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is just the beginning.

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