Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Captain Marvel #9

Once in awhile a comic, or show, or movie comes along that gives me opinions; Sometimes really strong opinions. Good or bad, sometimes, just sometimes, these opinions are strong enough to write about. This is one of those times. 
Ziggy... er Carol played guitar...

I wanted to like this. I really, really did.
This series as a whole started really strong, and I loved the first arc. The last two issues with Rocket Raccoon have been OK, but despite some good humor and character work, there didn't seem to be any real stakes. I was looking forward to the next arc and a new set of problems for Carol to Punch her way out of. Instead, I get this one-off that is, while fun, yet another throwaway moment with no real stakes or suspense at all.
Taken on its own, the issue is light and fun. I'm not familiar with Lila Cheney, but she seems like an interesting character. The bulk of the dialogue is in rhyme, which you'd think would get old, but it works pretty well, although it did take me out of the story a bit. In a way, I'm glad it was a one-off because if I had to read another issue all in rhyme, I don't know how I'd feel about it.
The art, as always is great. I love David Lopez's style, and his use of facial expressions is fantastic. Nothing against Takara, but it is good to have Lopez back in the artist's chair.
I love Captain Marvel, and DeConnick and Lopez, but this issue was kind of disappointing. I'm really hoping the next arc that was teased on the very last page will be worth the wait.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Angela's Asses (Get it?)

So the cover for the new Marvel series Angela: Asgard's Assassin was revealed along with some teaser pages.

Let me begin by saying there have been some great leaps and bounds made by comics and by Marvel specifically in getting female-led superhero titles out there. The current runs of Ms Marvel, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Storm, and Black Widow, just to name a few, are by all accounts strong books with great stories. I haven't read all of them, but the ones I have read have been top-notch.

There are, on the horizon, a whole pile of titles coming next year that feature female leads as well. Spider-Gwen, Silk, and of course ANGELA: ASGARD'S ASSASIN.

I am happy that these books are out there and getting the attention they deserve. I've always had a tendency to like female heroes, and to see the direction that Marvel is going, well, I can't help but smile.

There was, of course the unfortunate alternate cover debacle for this month's Spiderwoman debut, but that doesn't mean the book won't be good. I feel like the fact that so many spoke out against it is a step in the right direction. The fans are not afraid to speak their mind, and it seems like the publishers are willing to take it to heart when they do.

That is why the new Angela title baffles me.

W--  Where are her pants?

Let's back up a bit.

I don't know Angela's origin as a character, except that she is an angel that was a foil for Image Comics's Spawn character. I do know that Image was founded in the 90's by a group of comics creators who thought comics were not EXTREME enough, and wanted to make the OMG MOST AWESUM COMICS EVAR, and that most of the original staple of SUPER EXTREME AWESUM X-men clones at Image are now gone. Image comics is now a place where creator-owned comics rule, and there are some fantastic titles in their current run. Back then, however, it was riddled with musclebound, foul-mouthed heroes and big chested, wasp-waisted spank-bank heroines. That is not to say that it was ALL bad, but there was a lot of bad. Even Marvel and DC were guilty of this at times.

Lobo doesn't count. He was satire.

Fast-forward to today, and the Angela character has somehow migrated over to Marvel. There is something to do with Neil Gaiman, who created Angela, taking his property from Image with him to Marvel, but I don't know, and I'm not going to find out because it's really not important. I guess someone somewhere liked Angela enough to want her integrated into Marvel continuity. I have no problem with that. I admittedly do not know the character at all, aside from her new Marvel persona's involvement with Thor (Spoiler: she's his long-lost sister or something).

The problem that I have is that it seems as though her costume has not changed since the OMG SO EXTREME 90s version.

Ok, she has fewer pouches.

I'm having a real problem with this decision. I mean, she came from another comics publisher altogether. Considering the way hero's costumes change over time within their own universes, I would think they could give Angela a little revamp. Look at what poor Psylocke used to look like:

I hope it's warm there...

And then look at Psylocke now:
How does she even move at all without her butt hanging out!?

Progress has been made, but why not for Angela? She's apparently supposed to be this angelic warrior with ribbon powers, I guess, but she's fighting people up close. With swords. She has this classic fantasy tropey armorkini along with big robust shoulder armor and gauntlets, and thigh-high armor boots. Then she has, like... a huge belt? That's all? Let's forget the possibility of accidentally cutting herself with her own sword, and imagine what area that her opponent would aim for in a fight. Probably the torso or face, right? I hope she doesn't have to fight any archers. At least her boobs will be safe.

It doesn't even bother me that she's as thin as a lingerie model. I prefer a little muscle on my warrior women, but that's not really the issue here. In a time when we're seeing less and less vacuum-sealed boob-women and bathing suit armor, how is Angela NOT getting some kind of revamped design?

They stare because she doesn't have any injuries at all.

Maybe she's nigh-invulnerable, and has no need for armor. I'm not sure. Still, being an angel, you would think she'd have some sense of practicality if not modesty.

She looks like a badass, and could even be a great character, but I can't get past that costume. It's ridiculous and outdated, and is basically the reason that I won't be reading Angela: Asgard's Assassin when it debuts this winter.

Bring on Spider-Gwen!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DC vs Marvel: More Things About Comics

I read comics.

Because I have a more than passing interest in comics, I am often led to websites that discuss comics and comic book characters, and, by extension, the TV and film adaptations of comics.

Not all of which have been that good.

Invariably, like the sound of screeching tires, my focus is drawn down to the comments section; that cesspool of trollery and fanboy bitching. I don't know why I even go down there except as a masochistic exercise. Maybe I have too much faith in humanity and need to take it down a peg. Of course it's not all bad. One can often find some interesting debates on there if one is willing to wade through all the one-sentence negativity that tends to pervade.

One thing that I feel like I see all the time, however, and it baffles me, is the "This is why I stopped reading *blank*." comment, where the *blank* is either DC or Marvel. There seems to be quite a bit of A is better than B, or I used to like A but now I like B discourse among fans. Maybe there has always been, but in the age of comment sections, it is more apparent now than ever.

In addition to that, there are more and more articles being written about how Marvel is beating DC in the cinematic universe, or how DC is outproducing Marvel on television. In the wake of the superhero mediasplosion that various films and TV shows have brought about, there seems to be a debate about who has the upper hand. Who is winning this battle? Who is winning in terms of prevalence? Who is winning in terms of quality? Who...  who cares!?

Is it Wolverine? I bet Wolverine cares.

I honestly don't understand why it matters who is winning. It really doesn't. If we are talking about video game consoles, there are endless places where one can find information (both factual and unsubstantiated opinions) about why Xbox is better than Playstation, or vice versa. And wasn't there a third one to choose? I thought there was...

No... maybe I was thinking of something else.

Anyway, this debate, as vitriolic as it can be, actually has some use to us as consumers because these things are major purchases. If you're considering buying a gaming system that costs $500 or more, you are probably going to want to do your research. What games are exclusive to each console? What bundles are available? What are the peripheral services and features? Which one sucks balls? These are important questions you want answered before dropping the better part of a week's salary on a TOY.

DC and Marvel are media companies that create and distribute entertainment. Watching the newest episode of The Flash does not automatically mean you can't watch Agents of SHIELD also and enjoy them both. You may like one over the other just as the next person likes them both equally. And then there's a third person who thinks Big Bang Theory is still funny and relevant. Let's all agree not to talk to that person anymore.


Anyway, my point is that it doesn't matter. I like Ms Marvel. I like Batgirl. I like Daredevil. I like Dick Grayson. I don't see why it matters where these stories are coming from. Saying that DC is better than Marvel is like saying that Random House is better than Penguin Books. They are all just putting stuff out there. Both DC and Marvel have their flagship characters, and both have a stigma related to their past styles. DC is known for iconic, godlike characters, whereas Marvel has been known for telling the human stories behind the heroes. I feel like they have both diversified away from their core competency in interesting ways, and that both have some great things to offer.

There is no reason to choose one over the other. This isn't an all or nothing proposition. The debate makes no sense. "This is why I don't read Marvel anymore" is a very near-sighted opinion to have. If you don't like Avengers, read X men. If you don't like X men, read Captain Marvel. If you don't like Captain Marvel, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

I mean it, go read Captain Marvel.

These aren't $500 gaming systems, these are stories. Read them all. Watch them all. Love some of them. But don't get caught up in where they came from. When these two media companies are competing for our attention, we are the winners. If one of them loses, then we all do.