Tag Archives: comic movies

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow. Check out part 19: the Flash. Check out part 20: Animal Man.

What were the final scores?

In order from least points to most, the scores were:

Iron Man: 1.0666666  points
Phantom Stranger: 3 points
John Constantine: 4 points
Hulk (Mr. Fixit): 4 points
Captain America: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Green Lantern: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Aquaman: 4.5 points
Luke Cage: 4.5 points
Black Canary: 4.5 points
Thor: 5 points
Wolverine: 5 points
Hulk (Smart Hulk): 5 points
Green Arrow: 5 points
Wonder Woman: 5.5 points
Batman: 5.5 points (1 bonus point)
Power Girl: 6 points
Static: 6.5 points
Spider-Man: 7 points
Hulk (Savage Hulk): 7 points
Animal Man: 7 points
Superman: 7 points (1 bonus point)
The Flash: 7.33 1/3 points (1 bonus point)

Before I comment, I want to make a critique of my methods. 

Justice League

Justice League (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, my categories were too binary. There is a large difference, for example, between the worldview of Animal Man and the worldview of Luke Cage, but the binary “yes or no” did not leave much room for exploring that. In fact, I admit I fudged the numbers a bit by using decimals when that binary became too restrictive. If I were to revisit this series again, I would use a scale of some sort, not a yes/no.

Second, this list is nowhere near as diverse as I would have liked. While I did speak about race and gender to some degree, there remains a lack of diversity on my list. Given unlimited time and energy for this project, I should have included Cyborg, Steel, Storm, Black Panther, Falcon, Batgirl/Oracle, Supergirl, Katana, Black Lightning, Vibe, Stargirl, and others as representatives of minorites. But instead, I chose the representatives that I already had some affection for, and contrasted them with the more standard heroes of the Avengers and Justice League.

The "Heroic Age" roster of the Aveng...

The “Heroic Age” roster of the Avengers. Cover art for Avengers vol. 4, #12.1, by Bryan Hitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third, there are doubtless many other heroes that I could have reviewed that would have scored much higher than those represented here, and certainly there are heroes that are not represented that are fan-favorites of people very near and dear to me. To you folk, I apologize. I simply ran out of steam for the job, and people were already threatening to boycott Political Jesus if I continued, lol. So perhaps one day, I will give Blue Beetle, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Gambit, Nightwing, and Boris the Beat their due, but it won’t be today.

Conclusion:

Having said all that, I believe that I am in no shape to give a whole-hearted devotion to a super-hero the way I have done for Green Lantern in the past. In dissecting these heroes over the last few months, I have gained an appreciation for them beyond how they fit into my categories. Phantom Stranger and Constantine rated very low, but why do I enjoy reading them so much? Thor rated fairly high, but I have little desire to read his book monthly just because he did well on my list.

Still, there were a few heroes that really outshone the competition and made me appreciate who they are. Spider-Man and Superman are heroes that have always been in my periphery. I tend not to like more mainstream heroes. But I simply cannot deny that they represent the best of who we want to be. I am now committed to diving into their stories a bit more over the coming year. I was surprised Hulk rated so high, but Hulk has always been a favorite of mine, especially in his Savage (childlike) persona.

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, ...

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, #1 (April 2010). Art by Tony Harris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The true front-runner (no pun intended) however, is the Flash. He surprised me. I have been reading a lot of these heroes in preparation for this blog, but I was really struck by the Flash in a way that the others didn’t strike me. In particular, his boundless hope and his humanization of even his enemies, and unwillingness to settle for anything other than the best outcome was truly inspiring. And I don’t mind saying that this is coming at a great time for Flash fans, who have a TV show on the horizon, a great comic to follow, a whole slew of t-shirts to wear, and a new advocate on Political Jesus. The new Flash fan – ME!

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Comics And Religion: Judaism & the Golden Rule

Image from Wasted Talents

Last night, I re=watched Spider-man (2002) for the first time on my DVD in ages. I even watched the commentary and I came across something interesting. One of the Marvel creators, it may have been Stan Lee, compared Spider-man to Batman of DC Comics. Batman cannot be summed up in a single sentence, but Spidey can: “with great power, comes great responsibility.” The commentors reflected on the idea that this is not just any form of altruism, but the Golden Rule. Of course, the source of the Golden Rule is Judaism, and while there are some Christians who may object to it as a starting point for an objective morality, I think to deny its usefulness and general application is flawed.

During Man Of Steel’s premiere, I kept thinking how much of a problem it was to keep aligning Superman with Jesus, I mean, were not Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster both Jewish? And does not the story of Kal El read more like Moses? But that would make America Egypt wouldn’t it, and we don’t like that!

Speaking of Judaism, I found an interesting article over at the Huffington Post by one of my former profs, S. Brent Plate: Superheroes Get Religion, or the other way around? In it, Plate discusses the revelation that Ben Grimm (the Fantastic Four’s The Thing) is Jewish, and Plate adds,

“The so-called Golden Age of comics emerges out of the Great Depression and the rise of Hitler and Japanese militarism. From 1940 to 1945, comic book sales tripled. Centered especially around New York, a number of young Jewish artists began to create superheroes in the midst of social fragmentation and uncertainty. The creation story occurs when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster wrote and inked Superman as the first issue of Action Comics in June 1938. The next year Bill Finger and Bob Kane published the first appearance of Batman in the series Detective Comics. They were all in their early-mid 20s.

Mythical ties were made implicit: Superman was like Moses, saved from destruction as an infant and sent off to liberate a people. The magic word SHAZAM!, shouted by Billy Batson/Captain Marvel is an acronym of the names Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury, though that is apparently an insider’s secret knowledge. And Wonder Woman, for those who looked deeper, came from Paradise Island, among a people devoted to Aphrodite. Beyond the specific, sometimes esoteric connections known only to fanboys and other initiates, there is the longstanding myth of the hero’s journey, on which these characters are also based. Heroes have typically been human, and just that. So the need for something more, something super, at this time and place is curious.”

I wonder what would happened if someone took a closer look, and examined the values of early comic book heroes from the mid-20th century and compared them, say Jewish and/or Ancient Greek ethics. In the Federalist Papers, I do recall, that the authors make use of the history of the Greeks as something of a model, both negative and positive. Anti-slavery superhero David Walker uses both Jewish history and Greek history to make the case against racist philosopher Thomas Jefferson and his Jeffersonian plutocracy. There’s something about religious Platonism and the Bible that many American religionists have an affinity for.

Also of interest, check out James McGrath’s post, The Jewish Roots of the Vulcan Salute.

Lastly, check out Texas Superwoman Wendy Davis! That’s my state senator!

Man Of Steel #MOS: My Criticisms And How I Fixed The Ending (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Image taken from Hero Complex/L.A. Times

This is the 3rd part of 4 parts of my review of Man of Steel. This one is the specifically critical piece, the things that I did not enjoy. If you want to see what I liked, please the prior post.

Let’s just get right down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?

The Bechdel Test (Gender): First, women characters must have names. Then did the two women have a dialogue between each other, that did not have to do with the menzessssss. Ummmmmm, it barely passes, I guess I would include Lois apologizing to Jenny for putting down interns, and they go about talking about working things (I assume) but they get cut off. There are very few scenes with women interacting with each other (Thor is the standards I judge all comic movies by). Snyder, Goyer, and Nolan missed a golden opportunity to have a conversation between the strong villainness Faora and Lois Lane when Lois is on the Kryptonian’s space ship, but nothing happens. The Bechdel test calls for an actual dialogue to take place between two women. Lois’ interview with Mrs. Kent does not count; they discussion centers around Clark. The film had the potential to break through but alas, it doesn’t. Nolan’s and Snyder’s limitations when it comes to gender representations make this movie fall short in this area.

The POC Bechdel Test (Race): First, the POC characters must have names. Then, did the two racial minorities have a dialogue between each other that had nothing to do with white women and men? Um no. The cast was for the most part, white; the solid presences of Harry Lenix of Dollhouse and Laurence Fishbourne could not make up for the lack of diversity. The scenes of Krypton are very much whitewashed and culturally monolithic; as my friend Scorch, so eloquently put it, “Krypton again seems to be Star Trekked as a global monolithic culture. All Kryptonians are similar. And they’re all Caucasian and Israeli for the most part.” Gail Simone noted on Twitter that all Kryptonians seemed to have a British accent. If Superman contains a message about achieving a better humanity, one would think that an appreciation of the diverse experiences and cultures of all people groups, and not just whites would be shown.

Dialogue: As people have pointed out, there was less dialogue in this movie as expected. The visual effects and nonverbal communication between characters (Lois and Kal holding hands, Lara sobbing and sobbing,Jonathan Kent waving off his son from saving him from the tornado) were some of the more poignant, memorable portions of the film. There just were not any quotes from THE GOOD GUYS worth noting, to make us keep coming back and back for more, to know the movie, admittedly like Marvel’s The Avengers. No memes really for folks on tumblr to blog and blog, nothing really marketable for t-shirts, etc. My favorite character from the movie was Michael Shannon’s Zod, and I know some of his lines, but he is the ANTAGONIST, and really, that shouldn’t happen in a good comic movie. Do I really want to go around shouting, “You think your son is safe? I WILL FIND HIM!” Okay, sometimes, I do, but NO NO NO, no one wants to do that. True to Nolanesque/Goyer form, the movie is more about a dark, political message of realism rather than any of the characters. Comparatively speaking, this is why we don’t get to see young Barbara Gordon’s face in The Dark Knight. Nolan didn’t want to put up with having to write about anymore members of the Batfamily (he just happened to add his own, which was not my favorite move) because, ta daa!, he didn’t want to have to develop them.

The Fight Scenes: The conflicts that took place between the Kryptonians: Kal El, Faora, Zod, and Shaquille O’Neal MADE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. Uninteresting, played out cliches of a diner that loses its roof, a military that tries to intervene with the fray but SURPRISE! the military can’t DO JACK! Duh! The nine-foot tall guy, all he did was take orders, not say a single word the entire film. I guess he was there to make Zod look tough? Speaking of Kryptonians, one of the larger plotholes that keeps bothering me is the fact that Zod has like 12, something odd fellow Kryptonians on his spaceship as soldiers. Did he need all of them to stay on board? Why the heck did they not fight versus Superman on Earth? They all needed to be bodyguards? The “advanced race” of the Kryptonians couldn’t invent autopilot but they could make the world-engine, technology that literally could terraform a planet into destruction? I could understand if Faora, Shaq, and Zod were the last remaining Kryptonian rebels with how things took place in Smallville, but not, it wasn’t.

Image taken from IMDB.

LASTLY: THAT ENDING: The ending to Man Of Steel DID NOT HAPPEN. I refuse to believe what I saw after seeing it twice thus far. So instead, I have decided to fix it, and the fate of Zod. Metropolis is devastated. Clark Kent hasn’t ripped apart the ship that Zod took over. The Phantom Zone is still open. Zod takes off his armor, challenges Clark a duel to the death. Zod knows that Kal El has chosen humanity over Krypton, because Krypton had its chance. Their struggle leads them to a building filled with people. Zod uses his heat vision, daring Kal to break his neck and kill him, or watch these people perish in the rubble. But no, Superman, representing a new dawn in human history, rejects the idea of killing. Instead, our Superman uses his brains, and flies up to the Phantom Zone entrance with Zod, and sends Zod there along with himself. The movie ends with Lois and the military desperately searching for a way to free all of the military personnel and Clark Kent out of the Phantom Zone. The last scene of the movie is Clark discovering a long lost pod, with his family’s shield.

Stay tuned for my 4th and concluding part of this review, my predictions for the sequel.

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