Disapointment All Around: A (Brutally Honest) Open Letter To Chelsea Cain, Online Bullies, and The Comics Industry

“Oh no, this cover made my balls feel SLIGHTLY smaller! I must rage!” *snark snark scoff*
Source CBR.com

Well, I WANTED to do another Halloween themed article this week. Unfortunately, a bunch of really ugly and infuriating B.S. has come up that I feel the need to comment on immediately; if only briefly.

For those who don’t follow the business of comic books, Chelsea Cain, writer of Marvel’s amazing Mockingbird series, has retreated from social media and deleted her Twitter account due to harassment over her call for more female-driven narratives in comics.

I’m unsure where to start here. There’s just so much I’m upset about.

I suppose I should start with the obvious and call out the bullies first. I can’t believe I’ve been on the internet since the very beginning and still have to deal with people harassing and threatening each other – especially over trivial things that don’t warrant verbal violence. The one thing I’ve taken away from my use of creator driven platforms like YouTube, DeviantArt and Newgrounds is that if you don’t like the opinions that a creator inserts in their work, it’s as simple as NOT SUPPORTING THEM. You unsubscribe from their channels, stop buying their art, and stop following their work.

But, no – we live in the days where ‘hate-following’ is a thing because people have a raging fury-boner they don’t know what to do with. I’m not even going to debate about Feminist politics and who’s right or wrong here because it’s irrelevant. The point is that everyone conducted themselves like ill-behaved children when their disapproving silence would have had a much better effect. Seriously, if you just ignored Chelsea and stopped supporting her comics, the message would have been clear and SHE’D look like the a-hole for forcing her beliefs on you.

Of course, Chelsea probably wouldn’t have felt the need to speak up if it weren’t for d-bag number two; the industry.

The comics industry, Marvel in particular, have been ignoring the demands of a large number of fans that are crying out for more respectable ladies (and minority groups, but that’s another rant) driving the plots of their stories. And while things are certainly getting better in that regard, the change is far too slow. Sorry Marvel, but as great as Rescue, She-Hulk, and the new Thor and Spider-Woman are, distaff counterparts of established acts just smack of insincerity and attempts to bait the Feminist crowd. You have great characters like Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Jessica Jones that you keep saying that you’re going to push more, but it feels like you’re dragging your heels in doing so.

But the one person I’m most shocked to be disappointed in out of all of this mess – and brace yourself, ’cause this is going to hurt – is Chelsea Cain herself.

By fleeing Twitter, you’ve shown an emotional weakness in yourself to the industry and the bullies. You’ve shown them that by throwing a temper tantrum and slinging a volley insults and hollow threats like spoiled children, they can have whatever they want. Believe me; I know how rough it can be to absorb all of the cruelty and hate of others. I’ve put up with it all throughout my life and I have the scars and broken bones to prove it. But, like poor tortured Sisyphus, you must struggle on with a smile on your face knowing that taking joy in your suffering brings the gods nothing but frustration and despair. I know it’s a cliché, but you can’t run away from your problems like this.

So, in closing, my three messages are as follows; Internet: grow the f*** up. Comics: wake the f*** up. Chelsea: savage the f*** up.

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Three Great Comic Book Romances We Should All Be So Lucky To Have

So, I don’t often follow up on articles so soon. But, since the thought of last week’s think-piece on Harley Quinn is still buzzing in my head and in light of how AMAZINGLY well received it was (seriously, it’s the second most shared post I’ve ever made. Thank you all), I felt the need to follow it up.

Honestly, if I made any error last week that I wish to take back, it’s this; what good is it to tell you how crappy a relationship is if I don’t give you some GOOD ones to compare it to?

So today, I’m going to delve through my backlog of comic book knowledge to share with you some of the most touching stories of love ever told through sequential art.

Alicia Masters and The Thing

Heh heh, “The Thing-ker.” As an expert in puns – ten out of ten, Alicia.
Source: Marvel Database

There are few feelings I can think of worse that feeling like there’s no place for you in the world; that you’re just too different for anyone to love you. This was the way Ben Grimm – The Ever-Lovin’, Blue-Eyed Thing – felt after becoming a living man of stone.

But all was not lost. Even Ben found love in someone just as out of place as him; a blind sculptor named Alicia Masters.

She found beauty in his strength and the kindness that lies just under the rough, rocky surface; a beauty that she would often turn to for inspiration in her art. The two are nearly inseparable and will happily stand for the other at any cost.

Wolverine and Hercules

MOST. METAL. FIRST DATE. EVER.
Source: Comic Vine

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t name at least one LGBT positive couple in an article about true love.

Now, technically this isn’t OUR Wolvie and Herc but rather the ones from Earth-12025 (damn, Marvel has a metric S***-ton of Earths). That said, it doesn’t diminish how awesome these two are together. Especially when you consider that these two hooked up in spite of anti-LGBT laws (Canada doesn’t recognize gay couples? MAN, this Earth is weird) and Zeus forbids any god other than him from cavorting with mortals (… hypocritical cock-rocket).

Now, as if having a boyfriend who is LITERALLY the God of Strength wasn’t awesome enough, this Wolvie – still using his birth name of James Howlett – is the Governor-General of Canada, is even tougher than our Wolverine (his skeleton is coated in Adamantine – the mythical metal Adamantium was named for – by Hercules as a gift), and the two are the greatest heroes on Earth in spite of the bigotry they face.

I have seriously never seen anything so awesomely metal and charmingly gay since my Man-O-War ‘Anthology’ album.

Green Arrow and Black Canary

This is the couple I always think of first when talking about love stories in comics.

I think what’s so great about Arrow and Canary is the dynamic they share. Canary is never portrayed as a damsel in distress (she’s actually a savant in hand-to-hand combat), but Arrow isn’t forced into the dopey man role to compensate (he’s a billionaire industrialist and quite a brilliant inventor). They’re just a cute couple that has plenty of attitude between them that complement each other perfectly combined with a deep mutual love and respect.

Also, they totally open a flower shop together and call it “Sherwood Florist.” God, I love these two.

4 Reasons Why Deadpool Is The Greatest Hero Ever Conceived Of By Man

This blog is Deadpool approved!
Source: Screen Rant

As of the previous night from when I’m writing this, I had the joy of seeing Deadpool at my local IMAX theater. I have to say that the film lived up to the hype. We fans can finally say that we got a true-to-character depiction of Deadpool outside of the comics that we can be proud of. They even managed to turn the upset of having their budget cut from under their feet at the last minute to their advantage.

But upon returning from the movie, I and my colleagues got to discussing why we love D. Pooly so much. What is it about this loud-mouthed cross between Ryan Reynolds and a shar-pei that makes us love him so?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me…

He Isn’t A Hero (Technically)

 

It’s the thought that counts…
Source: The Deadpool Catalogue

As pointed out in my breakdown of the one-shot comic The Gaeneviad, the problem with self-proclaimed heroes is that they tend to come off as holier-than-thou douchebags hiding behind the veneer of righteousness and justice.

On the other hand, our dear Deadpool acts on the principals of moral relativism; i.e., the definitions of good and evil being subjective and based on one’s own cultural upbringing and environment that they occupy.

Wade may have a massive ego, but he has no delusions of being a hero despite what he occasionally insists. He simply acts as he feels he needs to in order to protect his own interests and those of the ones that he cares about/are paying him at the time.

He’s a Surprisingly Tragic Character

Yes, this comic just made you feel bad for a foul-mouthed, murderous, sentient tumor.
Source: Cynic No More

Behind his snappy comebacks and gleeful destruction, Deadpool has a lot of emotional baggage to unpack. It’s easy to forget that this is a man who was dishonorably discharged from the military, forced into mercenary work to get by, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, horribly disfigured by the people that “cured” him, and then tortured so badly that he spent nights in his cell simply chanting the words, “Ow, my skin.”

Once you remember that, you start to realize that his manic personality is just a coping mechanism – a mask that he likely puts on to cover up his own pain.

He’s Sexually Progressive

I sense the feeling isn’t mutual.
Source: The Odyessy

Despite looking like someone beat Rod Stewart with a baseball bat and held him down in battery acid, Deadpool has a shockingly healthy sex life with a long list of partners.

And when I say long list, I mean it’s suggested that he’s f***ed pretty much EVERYONE.

Deadpool is often characterized as being pansexual, meaning he is not limited by things like gender identity or biological sex when considering a love interest. He flirts with the likes of Thor, Spider-Man, and Wolverine, has been married to strange alien lifeforms, and has even had multiple flings with Death itself.

Basically, I like the idea of a man that looks like ten miles of bad road telling me that we’re all beautiful people.

He Knows The Importance of Engaging the Audience

Never upstage the protagonist.
Source: comicritico.blogspot.com

One of Deadpool’s key features is his love of breaking the fourth wall – the act of directly addressing the audience and acknowledging the medium one occupies. While only a hand full of characters can do this right, something interesting happens when they do.

By becoming self-aware of their role in the entertainment industry, characters like Deadpool will often start playing to the audience. This forces the writers to do the same and results in a more engaging and entertaining story.

In short, since Deadpool WANTS to play to the crowd, the writers HAVE to play to the crowd.

3 Comic Books That Should Be Adapted Into Films

There’s no denying it at this point, comic book-based films are the top dog of the modern movie industry. As such, studios are looking to find ways to adapt any promising series or story arch that presents itself.

That said, there are a lot of properties and ideas that have yet to be considered that really should be (I dare argue that even the Green Lantern movie could have been improved with the presence of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat).

So, to all those young film talents looking for ideas and fellow geeks looking to hound studios to work on stuff, here are some comics I’d like to see on the big screen (provided they don’t screw them up, of course).

Ms. Marvel

marvel

Dear Marvel; if you’re looking for an actress for the part, my friend Jamie can fill the role. Source: Jamie Poison on Facebook

With Wonder Woman set to have her own film in a little over 2 years, it seems appropriate Marvel should be there to meet DC with their own golden girl.

Ms. Marvel is probably the one character that could match Wonder Woman for the title of ‘most important female figure in comics’ and has a wealth of backstory to work from. I would talk at length about it, but A) that would be an article in its own right and B) MovieBob beat me to it years ago and did it far better than I could.

There have been some rumblings of Ms. Marvel appearing in Avengers 2, but the stories are slim on information at this at this point and could all be speculation with little confirmed. Still, it would be a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Update: Apparently Ms. Marvel is scheduled to make an appearance in 2018. Good for you, Marvel.

Blacksad

Dirty Harry ain’t got nothing.
Source: Wikipedia

You know what kind of story is sadly absent from movies? The film noir detective yarn. We saw attempts to use comics to revive the genre with some action tropes in the form of Sin City and The Spirit, but director/writer Frank Miller is to good story what Rob Liefeld is to attractive sequential art (that one was all the comic geeks out there).

Instead, I suggest trying again with Blacksad, an award-winning, Spanish produced, French detective comic set in 1950’s America that follows hard-boiled investigator John Blacksad as he investigates major crimes and deals with issues like political unrest and inter-racial violence.

The comic uses a technique that is not often seen today due to social stigmas; the use of anthropomorphic animal characters to help build personalities. For example, Blacksad’s character as a black cat is a clever twist on the ‘bad luck seems to follow me’ cliché.

We need some good, clever drama in film. And I think Blacksad could provide.

And speaking of great comics starring fur-clad heroes…

Usagi Yojimbo

And now you know what the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail went on to do.
Source: Cover Browser

One of my favorite film genres and the one that’s least likely to be brought up in casual conversation among my associates is chanbara (literally, “sword fighting” in Japanese); a set of samurai action films that helped to inspire and shape American Westerns.

I mention this because Usagi Yojimbo (translation; “Rabbit Bodyguard”) is possibly the best chance to revive the genre.

Set in the Edo period of Japan, the story follows the adventures of the white rabbit ronin Miyamoto Usagi (a clever play-on-words of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi) as he fights wars and slays mythical monsters while offering the sage wisdom of a man that seeks the best in himself after seeing the absolute worst that others can offer.

If the character sounds familiar to you, you were probably a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid as the two made cameos in the other’s stories from time to time.

If you’re still unsure as to how high quality an Usagi Yojimbo film would be, I recommend checking out the short motion comic to sample the closest thing available at the moment.

New Old Glory: The Agent on The New Captain America

A new America for a new age.
Source: CinemaBlend.com

Recently, Marvel Comics announced news that would change the dynamic of their universe forever (or at least until they retcon it); Sam Wilson, the bird themed superhero formerly known as The Falcon would replace a de-powered Steve Rogers as Captain America.

This news was met with all of the rational logic that is to be expected of any die hard fan of anything – that is to say, crap hit the fan immediately and people started to panic asking if the change was for the best or not.

Well, for all of you Captain America purists, this should make your heads explode; I support this.

First of all, It’s not like Sam Wilson is a nobody in the Marvel Universe. He’s a long time friend and ally to The Avengers – especially to Steve Rogers. As a character, he has paid his dues and is probably the best person to stand in for Steve in a pinch.

Secondly, Steve as the Captain is a rather unfortunate anachronism. To the reading audience, He represented the United States’ values during World War II and the Cold War. While this serves the purpose of a time capsule of American history, from a story telling standpoint, our values have changed with our understanding of the world. We need a new hero to serve as our collective voice and desire.

Thirdly, for those ‘delightful’ people that are going to bring up changing the Captain’s race as an issue, the comic book industry – even after turning Nick Fury into Samuel L. Jackson, replacing the old Blue Beetle with a Hispanic teen, and making the golden age Green Lantern gay – is still HORRIBLY diversity deprived. As clunky as it may be to do it this way, I have no problems with writers wanting to insert a little variety in perspective via race, creed, gender, sexuality, or otherwise.

Besides, it’s not like there haven’t been black Captain Americas in the past. Josiah X and his father Isaiah Bradley‘s turns as the Captain allowed a great story to be told about internal government corruption as well as a stunning critique of the people responsible for the heinous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Meanwhile, Isaiah’s grandson Elijah still serves as The Patriot; a young Captain America fighting for The Young Avengers

Lastly, this has the effect of making the Captain a legacy hero – one who passes his title down to one deemed worthy when he or she is know longer capable of or willing to continue their work (think The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride). I love legacy heroes, because they allow writers to tell new stories by reflecting on or reacting to previous mantle holders. Other great legacy heroes you may be familiar with include Robin, Green Lantern, The Flash, and – yes – even Batman.

So yes, I’m looking forward to seeing what Sam Wilson – one of the first African American heroes in comics and the only person in the Marvel Universe truly worthy to inherit the title of Captain America – does with his new responsibility to the people and his country. Be a good one, soldier.

What The Heck Was That In ‘Thor: The Dark World’?

“I’m-a just stand here all sexy for the ladies in the audience and beat the crap out of giants, ‘kay?”
Source: Paste Magazine

So, over the weekend, me and a dear friend saw Thor: The Dark World and it’s every bit as good as the previous installment (meaning as good as the original Thor; there’s no way it could compare to The Avengers).

However, there were several nods to various things that my friend needed explained. Then I realized that others may need a primer as well. As such, here is my SPOILER FILLED explanation of some of the events in Thor: The Dark World.

Why Aren’t The Dark Elves Dark Skinned?

“We were going to be the Immortals in ‘300’, but Frank Miller was being a dork.”
Source: Marvel Movies Wiki

This is a sad result of us – the audience – suffering from cultural colonization and misinterpretation of lore.

When most of those of a geeky persuasion hear the term ‘dark elf,’ we tend to think of the drow; a race of dark-skinned, subterranean elves made popular by Dungeons & Dragons. However, these dark elves have no connection to Norse mythology or even elves in general.

The drow we know, originally called trow, are actually hideous and mischievous fairy folk from Celtic folklore that have no connection to Norse mythology other than that they bear a strong resemblance to the trolls of Scandinavian legend.

Nordic dark elves, more accurately known as Dökkálfar, are the diametric opposites of the light elves or Ljósálfar. Because Celtic and Old Nordic cultures drew from one another, it’s likely the two stories were combined over generations.

Granted many Norse legends describe the Dökkálfar as “blacker than pitch,” but here, I feel they went with a more traditional elf appearance to draw greater attention to the primordial darkness that was their world before the universe as we know it manifested rather than a physically dark appearance.

Also, our big bad of the film Malekith does begin to look more like a traditional Dökkálfar later in the film as he draws closer to his evil goal (I won’t say how; have to keep the spoilers to a minimum) and making them pale white sets up our next topic.

What’s The Significance Of Thor Scorching Melekith’s Face?

“I’m gonna Harvey Dent the hell out of this film!”
Source: NerdyButFlirty.com

In a display of the utter badassery that he’s known for, one scene has Thor blasting a fleeing Melekith in the face with the lightning of Mjölnir permanently burning half of his face. Why is this a big deal?

Well, it draws a parallel with Hel, the Goddess of Death. In the original myth, Hel was the child of Loki who presided over Niflheim, the World of Darkness. Did you see what they did there?

There are many depictions of Hel’s appearance including half-human/half-blank or half-alive/half-dead, but most art depicts her as half-pale white/half-pitch black. So going with the most recognizable depiction makes the most sense from a storytelling standpoint.

Who Was That Weirdo In The Ending Stinger and What Is An ‘Infinity Stone’?

Surprisingly, this is NOT the illegitimate child of David Bowie.
Source: 10 Minutes from Hell

I’ll be honest; the man who inspired me to do this blog, MovieBob, did a whole episode of The Big Picture all about this particular weirdness and I encourage you all to watch it on the grounds that he explains it better than I ever could hope to. That said, I can help to try and fill in a few of the smaller gaps.

So, as he was introduced, the very eccentric acting fellow in the obligatory Marvel end credit stinger is Taneleer Tivan, The Collector. He is a member of a pantheon of characters known as the Elders of the Universe who comprise the oldest sentient beings in the universe and are essentially the Marvel Universe equivalent of gods. In Collector’s case, his life goal is to preserve the universe by collecting specimens of it.

So, what about these Infinity Stones that they mentioned? It’s almost certain that they meant the Infinity Gems, six powerful stones that grant different powers on their own, but when combined into the settings of the Infinity Gauntlet can make their wielder nigh unstoppable.

Only one villain in the Marvel Universe has completed the Infinity Gauntlet: Thanos, The Mad Titan. Who is he? Well, you met him in the stinger from The Avengers. He’s the big, purple guy with the evil smile. He wants to destroy most of the known universe as a tribute to the love of his life, the physical embodiment of Death. This makes that whole, “To challenge them is to court Death” line both amusing and terrifying.

So, judging from the events of the films and comics, it seems the Tesseract will serve as the blue Mind Gem granting access to the minds of others and enhancing mental powers and our new maguffin, the Aether, will stand in for the red Power Gem accessing all energy that has, does, and will ever exist. What’s more, The Collector seems to be helping Thanos gather the stones on the grounds that, with most of the universe gone, his specimens will become that much more valuable.

So, What About The Movie?

It’s great. I won’t say it was better than the first Thor like most critics, but it was certainly on par and made me care to see what else Marvel has in store for its cinematic universe. And don’t worry; even with the spoilers I mentioned, there are plenty of twists to shock you. Go see it now.