Tag Archives: Justice League

Shame Day: Sequels For Sequels’ Sake

It should be no mystery to us that a lot of movies aren’t made to be good. As a broad generalization, many of the films put out are intended to simply make money. To really hammer this point home I like to point towards Cars 2.

Cars 2 was a Pixar milestone, and the first of their films to beat its predecessor, Cars, in a particular category. It was the movie that garnered a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, an abysmal score significantly lower than the first movie’s 74%.

As someone who’s seen every film the studio has ever done, I was disgusted by the fact that they would create a sequel to what was ultimately my least favourite of the bunch, but then I understood-

This really says it all. I’m not really going to explain this any further.

Money money money. $10 billion dollars of Cars toys, bed sheets, clothing, toothbrushes, the list goes on. So clearly sometimes ratings can be down, if profits are up. But what about when this isn’t the case? Continue reading

Advertisements

Fame Day: Dwayne McDuffie

This post is one that I write with both deep respect for its subject, as well as a great sense of loss. His impact on the world of comics is greater than many realize, and it was a truly tragic event when he passed away on February 21st of last year due to complications from emergency heart surgery.

While I didn’t know it at the time, McDuffie had a huge influence on my becoming a fan of comic books. Growing up in the Philippines, my dad got his hands on a bunch of trade paperbacks, one of which was Static [now Static Shock]. The series was one of many that was published my Milestone Media, a comic company co-founded by McDuffie and three others. Their aim was to “express a multicultural sensibility” that he felt was missing from the industry, and they succeeded.

The titular Static was the electric alter-ego of African American teen Virgil Ovid Hawkins, and continues to be one of my favourite comic characters ever. One of the many created by McDuffie for Milestone, he embodied the awkwardness of adolescence and the effects of vigilantism on one’s personal life. His world was realistic and gritty without succumbing to the darkness that other such worlds do. Static was well-written, action-packed, and, most importantly, relatable.

After Milestone had stopped publishing new companies, McDuffie went on to enter the world of television. He was hired as a staff writer for the Justice League animated series, and was promoted to both story editor and producer as the show became Justice League Unlimited. Of the show’s 91 total episodes McDuffie wrote, produced, or story-edited 69. McDuffie also did extensive work on continuing the Ben 10 series, wrote for the Teen Titans show, and scripted a number of DC’s direct-to-DVD animated films.

Dwayne McDuffie also had an extensive career working for both DC and Marvel, and earned three Eisner Awards. In addition he was awarded many others, including Comic Con International’s Inkpot Award. Above all, he was able to affect the entire industry for the better. It’s just a tragedy that he left us as soon as he did.

Aaron Diaz: Has a Lot of Opinions About DC

If you peruse the website ComicsAlliance daily, like I do, then you’ve stumbled upon the increasingly controversial work of webcomic artist Aaron Diaz.

Starting in early October, with his post on tumblr Rebooting the Justice League!, Diaz has gone from being the creator of webcomic Dresden Codak to becoming the supposed saviour of the comic book industry. Featuring his own personal take on DC’s super hero team, he redesigned everything from costumes to origins.

This spawned a few other posts, such as Rebooting DC’s Villains!, in which he recreates the Legion of Doom as the “Secret Society,” and Rebooting Batman!, where the Caped Crusader is recreated to fit his new alternative DC canon [his earlier incarnation of the Dark Knight can be seen here]. Beginning with his take on the Justice League, each post has been featured on Comics Alliance, much to the delight/irritation of its readers.

Diaz states clearly that his reboots were spawned by DC’s own “New 52” [which I discussed, in part, here]. Their new designs for Starfire and Harley Quinn, in particular, were targeted in their elevation of sex appeal over utility. Diaz gets downright aggressive in his post DC Comics Reboots Dresden Codak!, where he imagines what it would be like if the company redesigned his own webcomic.

As you can see above, the female characters are overly curvaceous and barely dressed, while the men are very obviously the same male body type with different costumes and hair colour. While a point is being made satirically, he single-handedly slams the work of an entire publishing company instead of the individual artists or writers responsible for the designs he dislikes.

As one would expect, the comments on his tumblr consist almost entirely of praise for his work. One particular question asks “Can you just, like, take over DC and make this happen for reals? These redesigns actually look like superheroes I WANT to read about.” On his Justice League reboot Stephanie Charette admits that “I have never before commented on anyone’s Tumblr, but I must. This is what the comic’s industry needs to do. THIS. THIS. THIS.”

Leaving his tumblr for more balanced opinions, the comments on his features on ComicsAlliance provide a happy medium between blind adoration and outright disdain. Paying no heed to the ones about the rate he updates his comic [which is neither here nor there], there are comments which were written calmly and logically.

On one of ComicsAlliance’s latest features, Aaron Diaz’s ‘Tales of the Uncomfortable’ Takes a Halloween Look at Harley Quinn, a commenter states that “The message of DC has been beaten like a dead horse (particularly on this site) and I really don’t know what else to say anymore.” Thankfully someone else does, and they bring up a post on the tumblr of webcomic artist Amanda Lafrenais. The commenter even pulls a direct quote:

And I REALLY enjoyed, save for minor nitpicks, Aaron Diaz’s redesigns, criticisms and praise of costumes. However his newest post on the subject about cleavage and crimefighting kind of made me wanna talk about it. A friend pointed out that, yes baring your breasts is very impractical in fighting. But so are capes. And spandex. And having no padding or armor.

In her post Lafrenais goes on to push the idea that costumes aren’t really intended to be realistic [their utility further broken down by Edna Mode]. While she admires what Diaz has done, she implores artists not to “take the fun away,” and that there is a point where “practicality ends and fantasy begins.” Even though her post doesn’t address part of what Diaz is railing against, the overt sexualization of women, she does attempt to soften the extreme logic from which many of his designs were birthed.

On a personal note, I liked many of his redesigns, particularly his take on Batman and Robin. Conversely, I strongly disliked  some of his ideas, primarily taking Gorilla Grodd and making him more “Planet of the Apes” than “Mighty Joe Young.” The man has some great ideas [their originality contested by many commenters on ComicsAlliance], and he aims for a creative revitalization of the industry, which I can agree with.

My issue would be with the apparent bitterness his work gives off. His reboots were all well and good, but his portrayal of DC rebooting his own characters was unnecessary and extreme. I can understand in part why he’s doing what he’s doing, but he could cut down on the vitriol.

Lastly, I was very confused with a particular question I read on his tumblr. When a reader asked if he would be willing to redesign the entire DC universe, similar to what Marvel did with Brian Michael Bendis and their Ultimate line, Diaz responded with “I’d do it, and only if they paid me five times whatever Marvel pays Bendis.” I’m unsure as to whether he meant it sardonically, or if he actually believes he deserves five times the money Bendis does. Either way, I found it difficult to take.

Tune in next Thursday, when I write on Christopher Bird, aka “Mightygodking” [or “MGK” for short]. His titular blog is one of my all-time favourites, and his opinions on comics [and one character in particular] are deserving of some exploration. Particularly when viewed opposite of those of Aaron Diaz.

[follow-up post can be read here]

The Batgirl of San Diego: Diversity in the DC Universe

Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to interview “The Batgirl of San Diego,” a woman who was at this year’s SDCC [San Diego Comic-Con] dressed as Stephanie Brown’s alter-ego. While she was there she appeared at every DC panel and asked questions which were met with responses ranging from indifference to open hostility. Gotham’s Batgirl may have rid the city streets of crime, but San Diego’s fights to ask why there aren’t more women in comics.

She responded with more thoroughness and thoughtfulness than even I expected, so I asked as many questions as I could before our time was up.

Evan: You made quite a scene at this year’s Comic-Con. Could you explain to us in a few short sentences what exactly went down?

SDB [San Diego Batgirl]: I don’t know that I would say that I ‘made a scene.’ I attended several of the DC Comics panels and asked questions about what I saw as a lack of female presence, both in comic books and on the panels. The audience, while receptive initially, eventually seemed to grow angry that I was asking these questions.  The main questions were simple: “Where are the women?” in response to the fact that there was not a single solo title cover featuring a woman in the entire Justice League line-up (though I believe Wonder Woman is supposed to be included), “Are you committed to hiring more women?” in response to the fact that the panels I attended were entirely male with only two exceptions, and one addressed to the room asking whether people there would buy and read a comic written about a strong, intelligent female protagonist.

Evan: Do you believe that DC has a large number of strong female characters?

SDB: The female characters DC has are definitely strong.  But let me give you some statistics presented by another women at one of the panels. She went through and counted, and out of 98 prominent figures on the covers, 27 were women.  Out of 28 single character titles, six were women.  As you can see, about a quarter of the DC universe lead characters are female – which means that the other 75% are male.  On the other hand, there are many existing female characters that aren’t being used or are being underused.  If DC were to bring these existing characters more prominently into the spotlight, it would be easy to make this ratio a little less extreme. Continue reading