Meanwhile…

by

…Back at the Compound.

People sometimes ask me about all the superhero references in my work. It’s a simple answer really. I love comic books. I love superheroes. Always have. Always will.

It goes way back to a childhood that I remember rather distantly now. My memory just isn’t any good now that I’m getting older. What few brain cells left up there don’t seem to function well as a group these days. But I do recall summer days, on vacation, being allowed a few pennies to buy those amazing looking four color masterpeices that so fascinated me. I never hesitated. Went right for the Marvel stuff. Avengers, Iron Man, X-Men, Defenders. A Hulk or Spider-Man or two thrown in. Never gave DC a second glance in those days. I just knew it wasn’t half as interesting as what was going on at Marvel.

It’s the mid-seventies stuff I remember most fondly. The early days of guys like Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The discovery of Frank Miller. I remember reading John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 featuring Miller’s earliest stuff for Marvel. Even at that young age his work already was full of that dramatic style you can’t take your eyes off of. David Micheline, John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton’s Iron Man was fantastic. Claremont and Dave Cockrum, may he rest in peace, were bringing things to a new level in X-Men. Steve Gerber on Defenders was, too. Sal Buscema was there, of course, just drawing the shit out of everything.

Grand days, they were.

A book I always think back on with nostalgia is Avengers #184. Also written by Micheline, it was pencilled by John Byrne and inked my the mysterious D. Hands. Even had a superb George Perez/Terry Austin cover than just shone forth like it was polished.

Must’ve read that one a hundred times. It was a taste of everything I loved about comics; crisp, detailed art, epic action, simmering melodrama and a kick ass ending. An eclectic group of Avengers including Hawkeye, Beast, Ms. Marvel and the Vision go up against The Absorbing Man in a slugfest for the ages. Iron Man has some great moments in the book. The Vision has one brillaint moment that made me instantly fall in love with the character. In the backround, there’s some fascinating scenes of racial tension as The Falcon, being added to the team by the US government to make it more diverse, is troubled. He and Cap show up late on the scene for a truly excellent ending to the tale.

These days, I still read a lot of books but I just follow authors and artists I enjoy. Anything written by Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar will get a look from me. Neil Gaiman when he dabbles. Anything drawn by Alex Ross, Frank Quietly, Bryan Hitch or Tony Harris will get my attention. Juan Jose Ryp is astonishing. I still have a real soft spot for Steve Rude thanks to the incredible work he and Mike Baron did on Nexus. Continue to do, actually. Steve understands the beauty in the superheroic.

You can see a taste of the sort of thing that make the genre great in the new Watchmen trailers. Epic, apocalyptic peril faced by a group of on-the-edge more-than-mortals who are the only thing that stand between humanity and annihilation. Superhero films are finally taking that leap forwards into the realm of the intelligent, mature depiction of their subject matter that comics readers have been enjoying since the Renaissance of the mid-eighties, when DC took back the mantle of greatness it had lost to Marvel, when books like Dark Knight Returns, Swamp Thing and Sandman hit the stands. Alan Moore had a lot to do with that, of course.

In film, stuff like Sin City and Raimi’s Spider-Man films started it off. The Dark Knight put the cap on it. Superhero stories can finally be grown up, filled with adult themes and ideas. Well crafted by some of the finest talents in the industry. Some of whom actually understand that the key to making a superhero film well is to follow the source material as closely as possible. Or, in the case of a character film and not a direct adaptation, follow the idea as closely as possible. There are reasons that some of these characters are icons.

Watchmen will hopefully now be the next logical step forward and it will be huge. It will blow the door open to all sorts of future experiments and the envelope can be pressed even further, hopefully. Everything Mark Millar touches seems to be optioned for film, including Kick-Ass. If someone had the balls to do it right, I’d love to see adaptations of The Authority or Ellis’ Black Summer, both of which owe a lot to Watchmen. Then there’s what Marvel is building, an interconnected film universe with continuity not unlike that which made seventies Marvel comics so intriguing. Imagine if DC, flush with the success of Dark Knight could pull off faithful adaptations of, say, Morrison’s JLA or even Kingdom Come. The world of film will be ablaze with brightly colored demi-gods battling in the skies above the earth and in the dark alleys below and people everywhere will be eating it all up with child-like delight.

I guess now the world is in love with superheroes, too.

Welcome aboard, folks.

What took you so long?

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15 Responses to “Meanwhile…”

  1. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    I’m looking forward to the Watchmen movie. And the Spirit. Not so much with the new Punisher movie.

  2. Ken Socrates Says:

    I would say I’m obsessed with the Watchmen movie right now. You want a nice taste, download all three trailers and the Production Journals in 1080p from the official site, convert them to high quality DVD and watch them on a Blu-Ray player. Wow, wow, double wow. Spirit is a crap shoot, I think. Miller, I’m sure, has the right idea but I’m not sure he’s savvy enough as a filmmaker to pull it off alone. Remember, no Robert Rodriguez on this one.

  3. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    That’s true. Speaking of that specific duo, when the heck are we getting Sin City 2?!

    And I don’t have a Blu-Ray player. *le sigh*

    Apparently the new Punisher movie came out today…

    And did you hear? They’re re-releasing The Dark Knight sometime in January. Hopefully, it will gain enough money to topple Titanic. God, I hate that movie.

    Also, there was talks of a Preacher series made by Mark Steven Johnson and now it ain’t gonna happen and will instead be made as a movie by Sam Mendes. Which dissapoints me a bit, because I would rather see it as a series than have it all smooshed together into a movie. And I like Mark Steven Johnson. I loved Daredevil (specifically the Director’s Cut) and I thought Ghost Rider, while not great, was at least fun.

    Anyway… I’m still waiting on the Booster Gold movie.

    Also, saw Hancock last night. Pretty good flick, though the twist was spoiled on the freakin’ box.

  4. Ken Socrates Says:

    I saw Hancock the other night, too. Was surprised how much I liked it. Really glad they decided to be as irreverent as they did. The “twist” was readily apparent very early on, I thought.

    Favorite line; “I can smell the alcohol on your breath!”

    “That’s because I been drinkin’, bitch!”

    Another sign the superhero genre is ready to are take that next step forward. Bring it on, I say!

  5. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    Yes, Gaylord particularly loved that bit.

    As for the twist, yeah, it was apparent, but still. Hate that it was on the box.

    Also, it was funny seeing Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron married in the movie, because they almost were on Arrested Development. Which is a great show, by the way.

  6. Ken Socrates Says:

    Everyone tells me to watch AD. Perhaps I shall. It’s on G-4 a lot, I see.

    Just spotted this: DK a serious Oscar contender.

    A superhero movie winning best picture would be an amazing thing. Something I never would have imagined happening.

  7. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    And it looks like it really could happen, too. And it totally deserves to win, I think. Specifically Heath Ledger. Any movie that leaves me imitating one of the characters without realizing it has something going for it. (Previous examples of this include Johnny Depp from Fear and Loathing, Christopher Walken and Woody Allen from Pretty Much Anything (Including Annie Hall… heh.), Laurel from Laurel and Hardy, and Ken Socrates from Bad Craziness ’08.)

    Oh, and you can watch all of Arrested Development on Hulu.com, even though I don’t think they have the Extended Pilot. And the regular pilot changes the punchline to one of my favorite jokes. “So this is your new trick?” “It’s not a trick, Michael. It’s an illusion. A trick is something a whore does for money.” He notices a bunch of kids standing behind him. “…Or cocaine!” In the regular pilot, the punchline is “….or Candy!” Which, while still funny, just isn’t as inappropriate and hilarious. So, if you can find the extended pilot somewhere, I’d watch that instead. Also, it is a show that needs to be watched in order, because it builds on itself and constantly makes jokes that refer to previous episodes and such.

    And comic book movies (and plain old comics) rule!

  8. Ken Socrates Says:

    When you talk about Ledgers performance there’s almost nothing left to say. The term I’d use is mesmerizing. After I’d already seen the film four times in it’s entirety, I went through and just watched The Joker scenes just to savor them again. His conversation with the cop in the lock-up. His descriptions of how he got his scars. Good god, the pencil scene. You sit and watch it almost hypnotized by what he did with the role.

    Whatever postumous accolades he garners are all well deserved (screw the notion of a sympathy vote). The reason you’re quoting that stuff is because it’s seared into your memory. The script and performance and direction are just that good and Heath Ledger will now live on, embedded in that mythology forever.

  9. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    You know, at one time, I liked Jack Nicholson as the Joker. But now Jack Nicholson looks like Cesar Romero, compared to Heath Ledger. I even feel slightly uncomfortable referring to him as Heath Ledger. Because that wasn’t Heath Ledger. That was The Joker.

  10. Ken Socrates Says:

    I feel very uncomfortable when you and Gaylord wear your “short shorts” to the Annual KSWNO Celebrity Charity Baseball Game every year.

  11. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    You know how hard it is to fit two people into one pair of those? It ain’t easy. And now you’re telling us that the effort isn’t worth it? Well, screw you, Ken Socrates. Screw you a lot.

  12. Ken Socrates Says:

    I’m just saying the people watching the three-legged race got a lot more than they bargained for. I’m pretty sure those mouth-breathing idiots from that TV family with the 17 kids will never attend the event again because it may have forced them to engage in at least a small amount of sex education with that horde of buttpickers and boogereaters they’ve been crapping out. So maybe it’s a good thing.

    Those Amish chicks sure seemed to enjoy it.

  13. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    I went undercover as one of the Duggar kids one time. I fit in well with their idiotic J-naming scheme. I was planning on writing a tell-all news article for your site. I never did get around to writing it, though. I just can’t get myself to recall those horrific memories. It was a freak show, let me tell ya. Creepy wholesomeness oozed from the walls. And I’ve never seen so much prozac and viagra in one place. Then, of course, there was the chanting… “Thrift store, thrift store, thrift store…” Makes your flesh crawl. And their god was, like, everywhere. You just couldn’t get away from him and his “ideas.” But they did have a Galaga machine in the house. That was pretty awesome. I got the high score. My initials? “ASS”

  14. Ken Socrates Says:

    This begs a full KSNWO expose. Should I give you two the assignment or do I need to handle it? I can promise above the fold exposure and a resonable amount of legal help when those rutting bastards show their true colors and get all sue happy.

  15. Joe Hawaii & Gaylord "Ra" Fondue Says:

    As soon as Ra shakes the hangover, we’ll be right on it.

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