The New 52 and DC Editorial Culture

The_DC_New_52_Timeline_of_Departures__Firings__and_Bridge-Burnings_—_Gutters_and_PanelsIf you’re a DC Comics fan, you’ll know that the past couple of years for the company have been big ones, with the New 52 launch and evolution the most notable event.

Over at Gutters and Panels, they have a great chronology of the comings and goings at DC and it makes for fascinating reading. Go have a look for yourself here.

[via NonCanonical]

Why Ben Affleck is Good for Batman (and Superman)


Silver Linings Superhero is a regular column from Sean Robinson, which tries to show the more positive aspects of current comic events, and remind you that things aren’t all that bad. If you would like to suggest something for a future column, drop us a line!

I think I am one of the few who actually quite enjoyed Man of Steel. No, it was not a good Superman film, and yes, the film certainly had its problems with script and directing, but I thought it was a stylistic and exciting science-fiction film. So when Batman/Superman (or whatever they decide to call it) was announced, I got interested. Maybe the gang over at Warner Brothers and DC could turn the ship from brooding, post Dark Knight Superman, by contrasting him with the only one who could conceivably be actually darker, Batman himself.

Then Ben Affleck was announced, and I became more excited than I thought I could be. No, he’s not John Hamm or Karl Urban, two of the more inspired choices for the role.

He’s something better:


Let me begin by dealing with the elephant in the room. Affleck’s last superhero film, 2003’s Daredevil, was not good. In fact, it was bad. But that’s just it – it was ten years ago. The films being thrown around for the argument against the man are all from around the same point in time when Affleck was a gossip magazine hot-topic – and he has most definitely moved past that to become a decent actor and one hell of a director. It’d be the same if we judged Joss Whedon on his writing in Alien: Resurrection – it’s just not fair.

Now, I did use the word “decent” when I described Ben Affleck as an actor, because its an apt description of where he stands right now. To echo Matt Damon in regard to the role, it’s not some kind of Oscar-worthy performance – it’s Batman. Affleck has enough range that he can portray the billionaire-playboy Bruce Wayne, and also the dark and broken Batman, and he has done a similar role in Hollywoodland as Superman actor George Reeves. In that film he dances between depression and acting the complete opposite to an audience. Sounds like someone else we know, doesn’t it?

Returning to his directorial abilities, back around this time last year rumors circulated that Affleck was offered the Justice League film to direct – but he would only accept it if he could star in a main role. Fast forward a year, and we now we have Affleck cast as Batman, and no one set for the Justice League director’s chair. Could this mean that he has changed his mind? Is an Affleck directed Justice League around the corner? I sure hope so.

In regards to the Man of Steel universe, and this new darker and edgier version of Superman, we get an older Batman who “bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter”. We are already aware of Batman and his back-story – his last outing only finished last year – so the audiences don’t really need a retread of the story of Bruce Wayne. Does this mean that we see a Batman who has already mostly worked through the problems surrounding his parents’ deaths, and could in fact bring the levity back to what we want to see from Superman? If anyone could pull off a slightly lighter, and older Batman than we are used to, then it would be Affleck.

This could change up the relationship between the two – Batman is there to remind Superman about his humanity – Superman could be molded by Batman to the man he always wanted to be, but never could. It would be a fresh take on the mythos, without pulling too much away from what we already know, and it could act as damage control from the problems people had with Man of Steel’s script, returning us to the Superman we know and love.

I am not saying that Batman/Superman won’t have problems. David S. Goyer is back writing the script, and while he is a great writer,  he never quite grasped the character of Superman in Man of Steel. Snyder is also a point of worry for some people, with his eclectic directing style a polarizing aspect. But in regard to Affleck – give the man a chance. He may just surprise you.

Want to tell Sean he’s right or wrong? Flick him a tweet, or leave a comment! He loves talking about the things he likes.

Film and Comic Comparisons – An Exercise in Futility and Frustration

I-Have-An-Issue-Banner‘I Have An Issue’ is a regular opinion column from Kimberley Griffiths, with no fear or favour shown. If you’d like to suggest something for a future column, drop us a line. Also, check out Kimberley’s blog!

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear if it wasn’t already. I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not exactly a secret – I blather on about the movies all the time, I started MediAvengers, and I participate an awful lot in the fan community on Tumblr. I love the idea of a new, fresh outlook on these incredible stories that have been a part of so many people’s lives. I also – rather stupidly to be honest – follow the MCU fan page on Facebook.

While the page is useful for catching up on things I miss on my Tumblr dash, sometimes it’s really hard to subscribe to the old never read the comments adage. Many are reasonably well thought out and articulate, but there’s also a large quantity of replies like Screw Black Widow n Hawkeye, YO! Black Widow wants the D from Captain A! lol, and How survive that stab from the back by lokie [sic]. Sadly, it’s often difficult to look away from the complete and utter tripe you see posted by the various idiots, misogynists, bigots, and generally misguided individuals.

Comments like the above are easy to pass over without the desire to respond, though. It’s not until you come across thoughts like the below that your brain slowly begins to leak out of your ears…


Here’s the thing.

It’s called the Marvel Multiverse for a reason. We have two main universe continuities in Marvel comics, and don’t have any trouble distinguishing these from one another, so why do so many insist on directly comparing story arcs and plot points when it comes to the MCU? Why do fans get up on their high horses and complain about differences between 616 and the MCU when they aren’t even remotely in the same universe?

There’s always been resistance to the interpretation of these characters, events, and plot lines. I’m not just talking about the current crop of Marvel Studios produced films, but I am going to focus this post on the debate I see raging on various MCU specific forums, websites, and pages. While the lines are certainly being blurred between these universes – an observation I’ve expressed discomfort with in the past – the fact still remains that the comics are the comics, and the movies are the movies.

The distinction we as fans should perhaps be more aware of, is  that what we’ve seen in print is merely a starting off point for what will eventually be presented on screen. The argument that X won’t happen in the films because of Y is old, invalid, and continuing to use it makes a fan appear to lack a fundamental understanding of the Marvel Multiverse.

Apart from the obvious reality that creating shot for panel recreations of comics is unrealistic and possibly unfilmable in most cases, do we really want these stories interpreted in such a way that offers nothing new?

You know what, that’s a stupid question, because yes, that is what some fans want. The same unenlightened readers whose comments are mentioned above. These fans are the ones who get on their high horses and say I’ve been reading the comics since I was a kid and [insert vitriol here], immediately attempting to invalidate anyone else’s argument because they’re the genuine fan. A real fan. A fan who’s been reading the comics since before they could actually read and my opinion is better than yours goddamnit!

But no, the Real Fan’s, opinion isn’t better than anyone else’s. As people who are asserting their knowledge, isn’t it rather ironic that they fail to understand the concept of different planes of existence? An idea that Marvel has reinforced in its readers over decades of printing these stories they claim to know so much better than everyone else.

What all this boils down to, is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not Earth-616 (primary continuity). Nor is it 1610 (Ultimates). The Marvel Cinematic Universe is its own little corner of the Marvel Multiverse – unofficial designation 199999 – and this is an important distinction to be aware of when conversing on pages and sites where the focus is the MCU.

Let’s take a look at comics for a moment. Considering the length of time Marvel has been spinning these tales, you can’t ignore the racism, homophobia, misogyny, generalisations and stereotyping that have been displayed on the pages. This is just the reality of the world we live in, and a part of humanity’s history. These are issues society has learned and still is learning from. It’s important for Marvel to adapt and change to remain contemporary.

Perhaps we need to not think of the movies as an interpretation of the comics, but as a version of events that is relevant to our modern society – the real world. A world where an environment of fear is just as powerful as a physical threat, where characters don’t need prosthetics, as we’re cool with them looking like human beings, not a Rob Liefeld drawing, and social awareness and conscience is at an all time high. Movies are made for the general public, not for a small selection of cranky, territorial fans.

Fans of the films don’t have to be fans of the comics, and vice versa. Just because a person has never read a comic book, doesn’t mean they have less of a right to enjoy and discuss the material that has been presented on screen. I’ve been witness to many interactions where a comics fan has suggested that someone who exclusively enjoys the films has less right to an opinion, but this is like saying you can’t be a real fan of cheese unless you like Stilton as well as cheddar.

Fraction knows what's what.

Fraction knows what’s what.

Marvel is doing a great job of bringing more people into the fan community. The films have been the catalyst for many new people to pick up comics, often for the first time ever. We should be celebrating the newer members of the community, not deriding them. Welcome these people with open arms, shove books at them and tell them to read all the things go forth and experience joy and wonderfulness and oh god this storyline is just the best you need to read it first before anything else oh em gee.

On a more personal note, I really don’t feel the desire to see word for word remakes of material I’ve already read. Nothing is more exciting to me than going along to a movie unspoiled, and thrilled at the idea that what I think is going to happen might not. That I’ll get to see something completely new, or a really clever mash-up of Ultimates and the primary continuity. Hey, we might even see an entirely new character that turns out to be so awesome, that the fans start a campaign that causes Marvel to resurrect him and give him his own TV show called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Criticising films for not adhering to comics canon is an inherently pointless exercise, that wastes the time of everyone involved.  Criticising the films for their own problems, is not. Viewers may disagree with the handling of certain changes because they turn something that was well handled in the comics, into something problematic in the films. They may feel that the interpretation of the basic concept creates needless plotholes, badly handled characters, or marginalise areas that were important to focus on. Comparing in this way is perfectly valid, and it would be silly to say otherwise. but saying The movie sucked because in the comics Y happened, not X is redundant.

Then we have the very extreme end of the spectrum. The fans who take every adaptation’s changes to comics canon as a personal affront. Flying spittle in the face of their years of loyal fan servitude. A rude kick in the balls to someone who thinks their status as a Real Fan gives them some sort of ownership over these characters. Fans who have the gall to presume they speak for everyone. Fans who write comments like this:


I don’t know about you, but these fans certainly don’t speak for me.

These people have no more of a right to these characters than the next person. These characters belong to Marvel, who may do with them what they choose. Self proclaimed Real Fans can bitch and moan and groan until they’re blue in the face, but that’s not going to change the fact that their self-entitled, idiotic remarks are serving to contribute precisely nothing even remotely worthwhile to the discussion.

So what conclusion is there to draw from this? Is this simply just a post where I go on a rant because my views are different to others, or is there a serious underlying issue that I’m getting at?

There is a very real issue that’s the crux of this whole subject: inclusiveness, tolerance, and the importance of stamping out elitism. While a majority of the comments you see that fail to recognise the significance of the difference between Marvel universes are reasonably trivial, the fact remains that many use discussions on the MCU as a place to demonstrate their supposed encyclopaedic knowledge of the comics. If anyone wants to talk about these, and – the vastly varying and continually retconned, I might say – comics canon then might I suggest they go discuss it somewhere relevant.

Fans who wade in to a discussion about the MCU with a purist, elitist attitude are doing nothing but drive new fans away, frustrating people who recognise the difference between universes, and making themselves look like rude, judgemental imbeciles, who just happen to know how to use the Marvel Wiki. Let new fans discover the multiverse in their own way, and let old fans experience a new version of their favourite characters and story arcs.

Being a fan is about enjoying something, criticising it for its flaws, lauding it for its successes, not comparing it to something it’s not trying to be.


Eight reasons Fraction’s Hawkeye is such an important title

hawkeye-1Hawkeye is one of those rare comics that come along, and unexpectedly smash you over the head with a glowing truncheon of excellence. While that may not be the most eloquent of descriptions, it accurately describes how I felt about the first issue of Fraction’s brilliantly down to earth take on an Avenger who has generally been relegated to the second-string.

I was wary of Hawkeye in the lead up to its release, concerned that the popularity the film version of the character has found would taint the authenticity of the story existing in the primary comics continuity. I was particularly apprehensive about Matt Fraction writing another character whom I’ve always had a soft spot for, as I still had a bad taste in my mouth from the second half of his run on Invincible Iron Man.

What I was excited for, however, was the inclusion of David Aja on the creative team, and I did really enjoy the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja combination during Immortal Iron Fist. Aja has been responsible for some of my favourite panels from recent years, and I was excited to see how his simple, yet brilliantly expressive style, could work with a character I’ve come to think of as the most inconsistently drawn in Marvel Comics.

So with trepidation, I read the first issue. And then I read it again. And again. I read it four times in twenty-four hours. I gushed about it on tumblr. I stared at the art for a long time just letting the beauty of every panel sink in. I think I may have actually had tears in my eyes at one point, just because it was as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen in a comic.

But why did I feel this way? What made me actually get emotional over some drawings with some words on them? What makes this book the one on my pull list that I anticipate the most each month?

1. Fraction takes a B-lister, and doesn’t immediately turn him into a hero

Many writers’ first instincts when tackling a character, with such an historically bad ability to carry their own title as Clint Barton, would be to have him doing something epically heroic in the first issue. Taking on Taskmaster, or Zemo, or a Brood Queen,  with a toothpick and some dental floss – something MacGyver-level silly. Maybe even give him some temporary enhancement, to subvert the belief a comic about a dude without any superpowers will be boring, then take it away three issues later – which is something I sort of expected from Fraction, to be honest.

He usurps this by smashing Clint up so badly in the first two pages, that he’s stuck in a hospital for six weeks. When he does get out, he acts like a childish brat, and stops traffic by letting his wheelchair roll into the road. A page later, he’s at a vet clinic, telling them to fix up a dog that looks like it’s on death’s door.

So I guess while we do get a sense of heroism from this version of Clint, he’s still a dick. He’s still just a dude with a bow. He’s still just a guy. He lives in a building owned by the Russian Mob, which he makes a complete hash of buying in a back room casino.  He hangs out with his neighbours and barbecues on the roof, has a fight with the mobsters in the vet’s office, and then gets mistaken for Iron Fist.

Instead of putting Hawkeye on a pedestal, Fraction expertly parodies the popular audience opinion of the character. He gives us a sardonic, three dimensional, morally ambiguous Clint, and isn’t afraid to remind us that he hasn’t always been a good guy. He continually enforces the idea that most people have no idea who the hell he is, and not only is it a brilliant running gag, it also helps to demonstrate how Clint has come in possession of such a low sense of self-worth.

2. Kate Bishop

The most important thing to note about Kate is that she isn’t a former Hawkeye. She is Hawkeye. Just because Clint isn’t running around in the black and yellow Ronin outfit any more (he hasn’t been for a while, to be fair), doesn’t mean she has to give up the mantle. So we have Hawkeye and Hawkguy, and it’s glorious. The rapport between Kate and Clint is excellently conveyed, with Kate being the major thing in Clint’s life that’s keeping him on the straight and narrow, calling him out when he’s wallowing in self-pity, and telling him to stop being a loser when he needs a wake-up call.

The best part about the relationship between Clint and Kate however, is the fact that it’s strictly platonic. Any one-liners alluding to a romantic entanglement are swiftly dealt with, and serve to enforce how comfortable they are with each other as friends. Do I ship them? Uh… yeah. But am I glad Fraction’s said he’s never going to go there? Absolutely.

Kate is the glue that holds this book together. Without her, it would be good, but not great. Hawkeye isn’t just about Clint, it’s about Clint and Kate.

3. The page design

hawkeye-2Page design is sometimes overlooked when talking about comic art, which is a shame, because it’s something I’m particularly excited by. Aja’s brilliance doesn’t just extend to the the pencilling – his layouts are dynamic, interesting, and quirky. It just looks so different to most comics out there; an interesting mix of complex and simple, that is really one of the most visually pleasing reading experiences I’ve ever had. The only issue of any comic I’ve enjoyed looking at as much as this title, would be Secret Avengers #18 – Another Aja book.

The layouts of every issue, including the ones where Javier Pulido, and Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm take over, are a great demonstration of how smaller panels can come together to convey both pace and tone. Even Francesco Francavella’s #10 – while not being the strongest art wise – has some excellent choices in the design department.

4. It’s not afraid to be high-concept

Fraction really pushes the envelope a lot with some of the storylines, and they all pay off big time. The latest issue – #11 – takes a look at the world of Hawkeye through the eyes of Lucky (the Pizza Dog). Not only is there limited discernable dialogue, but the majority of the story is told through simplified diagrams and flow charts. This could have all gone horribly wrong, but it’s the single best issue of a comic book I’ve read since Iron Age. Which is a tough call for me to make, as there have been some wonderful things on offer from many of the Marvel NOW! titles.

Every issue to this point, has taken a risk. The whole idea of trying to give Hawkeye his own title again seemed ludicrous to many – readers and critics alike – but taking the concept of exploring what Clint does when he’s not avenging, pushes Hawkeye out of the superhero genre. It inhabits a strange space where you can’t really pin any genre on it, and that’s partially what makes it so brilliant. Despite the ridiculous situations Clint and Kate find themselves in, they retain one important characteristic – you can relate to them.

hawkeye 35. Nobody lets Clint get away with his bad decisions

Here’s something that you don’t often see happen in any form of media, let alone comics. Everyone calls Clint out for being a dick. Kate,Jessica, Bobbi, Natasha… pretty much every woman in his life isn’t afraid to tell him he’s a self-destructive asshole. And while he tries to defend himself to a point, in the end, he just sits back and takes it.

You’re so wrapped up in hating yourself that any time anybody starts to care about you, or god forbid you start to care about them – you push them away —Jessica Drew, Hawkeye #9

Kate’s there to support him after that zinger, but the fact still remains, that even though everyone loves him and would do anything to help him out, they don’t always like him that much. Even Tony Stark, king of the narcissistic, self-indulgent assholes, tells him he needs to pull his head in.

hawkeye 46. Bro.

Bro. Brobrobrobro.


7. It’s visibly contemporary

We see events from our universe bleed into Earth 616, with #7 dealing with how Clint, Kate, and their friends fare during Hurricane Sandy. It could have come across as preachy, exploitative, or opportunistic. Instead it was an incredibly heartfelt issue, focusing on the concept of family, both those we’re born to, and those we choose.

Add to that, Fraction is intent on pointing out that Clint is ageing. He’s divorced. He’s got aches in places he didn’t know he has. He’s sometimes weirded out by the fact that he hangs out with a woman who is barely twenty. You almost feel like these people could be real, living around the corner from you, and that’s what I love in any story, be it comics, books, television, or film.

8. People are people

What’s Fraction’s biggest strength at the moment? Treating every character, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, age, or abilities, as a goddamn person. No character inclusion feels forced, or accommodated for diversity’s sake. Apart from Clint, Grills, and the Russians, most of the featured characters in Hawkeye are women, but then that’s not something that’s clumsily and deliberately pointed out. It’s just the way it is.

So, while I may sing the praises of Captain Marvel, the reality is that both CM and Hawkeye are far and away my favourite books out there at the moment, holding equal places in my heart thanks mostly to superior storytelling.

Hawkeye is such a breath of fresh air, and even though most of Marvel’s crop of current titles are very good, Hawkeye is a true step forward in the superhero genre. Despite the fact that – as previously mentioned – it doesn’t really fit that label.


Marvel NOW! – Why It’s A Huge Step Forward for Superheroines


‘I Have An Issue’ is a regular opinion column from Kimberley Griffiths, with no fear or favour shown. If you’d like to suggest something for a future column, drop us a line. Also, check out Kimberley’s blog!

You’ve all probably already seen Shawn’s glowing review of X-Men #1, so I’m sure you have an idea of the general consensus around these parts on the new X team. I’m right there with him – I loved everything about the first issue, and I can only hope that high standard is maintained throughout what is hopefully a long run.  While I can’t help but feel disappointed at the cancellation of Red She-Hulk, Marvel really is doing some great stuff for women heroes at the moment.

x-menFirst off, as with most Marvel NOW! titles (I certainly have a few exceptions, and two of them are written by the same writer), the new X-Men treats its characters like just that – characters.  There’s no sense that the team is all women just to tick a box.  Marvel is certainly heading in the right direction if this is their way of respectfully portraying  women in its books, without seeming exploitative or simply attempting to jump on the feminism bandwagon.

Along with Brian Wood’s excellent writing, we also have artist Olivier Coipel at his absolute best.  One of my criticisms of many female characters, has always been many artists’ lack of ability to draw characters that look different, without falling back on obvious cues like hair colour and costume (yes, I’m looking at you, Greg Land).  Every one of Coipel’s characters is well defined, consistent, and beautifully executed, with obvious differences in facial structure, and not just using skin colour to identify diversity.

As with Captain Marvel, X-Men has shown that we don’t need characters driven by romance, abuse, or disturbing past events (remember Women in Refrigerators?) to enjoy reading about them.  We can be aware of these events in characters’ histories without having to be reminded of them continually, and for them to be the primary motivation for their actions.  While there are plenty of shippers out there – hey, I’m one of them – romance is not something we need to keep things interesting in comics.  Do we even really want it at all?  I would much rather see Carol punch a dinosaur in the face, than having [shippy hero of choice]’s tongue down her throat.

FD9In addition to characterisation,the plethora of costume redesigns over the past year or so are a real breath of fresh air.  The movement away from the ‘traditional’ bodysuit and/or thong was badly needed, and while some detractors have called the new tac suit inspired costumes of Psylocke, Jubilee, and Captain Marvel boring, I think they are the exact opposite.  Valkyrie is also getting a makeover in issue #8 of Fearless Defenders, and it’s finally farewell to the ridiculously impractical and dangerous metal boob cups, and hello to a more simple, comfortable looking outfit, that still has nods to Asgardian styling.

Speaking of Asgardians, the Sif led incarnation of Journey into Mystery is going from strength to strength.  A combination of astonishing writing by Katherine Immonen, and the incredible artistic talents of Valerio Schiti on pencils and colourist Jordie Bellaire, is one of the best creative teams out there right now.  While I’m not as much of a fan of the fantasy elements that JiM brings – I’m more into stories rooted in what passes for the real world – I can’t deny that this book is excellent in every way that matters.

While there is still a distinct lack of female led books out there, you can’t deny that Marvel is heading in the right direction.  Less than two years ago, the only superheroine led book was X-23, and when it was cancelled, it left nothing on the roster with a female focus at all.  Now, we have X-Men, Fearless Defenders, Captain Marvel, Journey into Mystery, all with full rosters of women, or with a single focus female lead.  In addition to that, Uncanny X-Force, FF, and even Hawkeye are pushing forward with core heroines.  The only one of these failing in its characterisations is Uncanny X-Force, but it has to be a hard ask coming back from Rick Remender’s run, that was so well enjoyed by many.

Many have criticised Marvel in the past for its treatment of its women characters, but I think it’s safe to say those days are sliding into the rear view mirror.  This year we’ve had so many incredible titles featuring some of the most badass women in comics.

Women who are dangerous, powerful, and menacing, but haven’t lost any of their humanity.  Women who are characters we really want to read about, rather than just tinsel to hang around the male heroes who dominate most titles.  Women who don’t need a male presence in their team to motivate them when they lose their way.

Good on you, Marvel.  Good on you for employing writers who interact with the fans, and talk to us about what we really want in modern comics.  Don’t get me wrong, you still have problematic moments, and there are areas that need work, but over all, I’m impressed with Marvel NOW! and the clear determination to recognise more diversity, not just gender, but also sexuality, gender identity, and race.

Now if you could just give us that Spider-Woman solo, it would be greatly appreciated.

Marvel is Building Bridges I Don’t Need


‘I Have An Issue’ is a regular opinion column from Kimberley Griffiths, with no fear or favour shown. If you’d like to suggest something for a future column, drop us a line. Also, check out Kimberley’s blog!

There’s this strange disconnect between Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios at the moment, and while I’m loathe to be critical of franchises I usually love almost in spite of their foibles, I’m certainly feeling some trepidation.

While Studios seems to be doing its utmost best to define the clear, vast, and very welcome difference that is the gap between 616 and the Cinematic Universe (MCU), some of the current comic writers seem to have missed that memo.

When looking at a film like Iron Man 3, you can see that Marvel Stuidos has placed a clear this is a completely different part of the multiverse stamp all over it.  The changes to The Mandarin, and the Extremis storyline were, in my opinion, inspired.  They bought a cheesy, more than a little bit racist villain into the 21st century and placed him in a context that made sense in the MCU.  Extremis was adapted to fit far better into this less fantastical universe, and even then you only really need to look at Tony himself to recognise that Marvel has the right idea here.

On the other side of the coin, the increasing desire to bring elements of the MCU into the primary continuity is strange at best, and incredibly frustrating and a little creepy at worst.  While I’m certainly no detractor to the occasional snippet of blatant fanservice, I found myself immediately uncomfortable with one book in particular.

SA1Nick Spencer’s Secret Avengers is only four issues in, and within the first half of issue one, the tone is set for the aforementioned MCU capitalisation.  Marvel has attempted to suck in fans of The Avengers movie, particularly those who latched on to one line in particular – You and I remember Budapest very differently – and in doing this have created one of the strangest books I’ve come across in the last few years.

The insinuation that MCU fans will require a clear path to follow as a way to bridge the films and the comics is frankly insulting.  To those of us who are long time Marvel comics fans, the sudden and pointless addition of 1610/MCU ‘Nick Fury’, explained away as being the older model’s son with a nice matching eyepatch, and the clumsy introduction of Phil Coulson as a 616 character, is jarring and uncomfortable.  While I understand the desire to get some of these fans to crossover into comics, the minimally advertised, low key release of SA Vol 2 meant that the concept is largely redundant. And many of those fans who did take notice, have been alienated by the creepy mind-wipe aspect of the storyline. That then begs the question: if you’re cashing in on a line like that, what’s the point of ensuring neither of the characters involved remember ‘Budapest’ at all?

So all in all, Secret Avengers is failing at all its attempted tasks.  It’s not as edgy as it’s trying to be, it’s aiming at a market that it’s not reaching, and what lip service it does pay to those fans, it completely undermines by using illogical plot points and pointless references.  Luke Ross’ art is patchy, and at points it’s obvious he’s tried to give Natasha the same look as Scarlett Johansson, but the inconsistency means this really doesn’t work.  Coulson also, is obviously designed using Clark Gregg as a reference, but then we have Clint who is… something else entirely.

SA is a S.H.I.E.L.D. book, and shouldn’t be trying to masquerade as anything else, particularly with issue #3 having a focus on Daisy Johnson (Quake), who is the new yet still unconfirmed director of the organisation.  A book focussing mostly on Johnson, Hill, and the rest of the SHIELD team would hold my attention far better than SA has managed just four issues in.

IM3P1For those MCU fans wanting a great starting point in comics, Marvel already has the film tie ins.  These have proven to be well put together, standalone stories. With some better marketing, these could really increase readership not just of the MCU titles, but of others featuring fan favourites too.  Fraction’s Hawkeye has proven to be hugely popular with fans of the The Avengers who are new to comics, and thus far has stuck firmly in the existing primary continuity, with a couple of subtle nods to Cinematic Universe  imagery.

With Avenging Spider-Man #20 also featuring the crack team of Widow, Hawkeye, and Coulson, it looks like this is a path Marvel is keen to pursue in multiple titles.  I can only hope that other writers can give it a more refined treatment.  SA #1 hit us over the head with about as much subtlety as Mjolnir travelling at terminal velocity.

Sunday Snippets Issue 2


A regular roundup of interesting bits and pieces from the comic industry worldwide. If you’ve got an event or other piece of news to share, please drop us a lineYou can view previous issues right here.

Digital Spy has a great roundup on superhero movies that never made it to the screen.

Superhero comics aren’t renowned for their ability to stick to one continuity. Here’s a nice summary of the stupidest examples of characters being bought back from the dead.

Some previously unpublished Tarzan stories are set to be published in a graphic novel.

The Huffington Post has an article called ‘The 11 Most Controversial Comic Books‘ and although it has some inaccuracies based on a number of comments on the article,  it’s still worth a look.

Ten Comic Movie Oscars I’d Like To See Awarded

oscarGiven the Academy Awards are on as I write this, I thought I’d engage in a little fantasising of comics-related movies I’d like to see popping up at future Oscars ceremonies. Would love to have your suggestions in comments below as well!

Here we go – my Top Ten Fantasy Oscar Awards:

Best Director: Ridley Scott for Rogue Trooper

Best Actor: Ricky Gervais as Deadpool in Deadpool: The Older Years

Best Actress: Sophie Lowe as Raina in Blankets

Best Supporting Actor: Andre Braugher as Tyrone Johnson in Cloak and Dagger

Best Animated Feature: Maus

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Alan Moore for Sgt Rock

Best Documentary – Feature: John Byrne and Frank Miller: Angry Men in a Hot Tub

Best Cinematography: Munn Powell for Dan Pussey

Best Original Score: Bruno Mars for Dazzler Returns

Best Visual Effects: Spawn

Ok, your turn. Comment on how sane or stupid my suggestions are and/or suggest your own awards!

Seduction of the Innocent: Officially Bullshit

wertham seductionWho’d a thunk? The notorious work from Dr Frederic Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, which made the case for comics being moral-destroying works, has been found to be crap:

A University of Illinois academic, Carol Tilley, has accessed Wertham’s papers, which were made public in 2010 (Wertham died in the early 1980’s). The summary:

Behavioral problems among teenagers and preteens can be blamed on the violence, sex and gore portrayed in the media marketed to them – that was the topic of televised public hearings held by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 to address the scourge of comic books. The hearings, which resulted in the decimation of what was an enormous comic book industry, had been inspired in large part by the book “Seduction of the Innocent,” by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, based on his own case studies.

Wertham’s personal archives, however, show that the doctor revised children’s ages, distorted their quotes, omitted other causal factors and in general “played fast and loose with the data he gathered on comics,” according to an article by Carol Tilley, published in a recent issue of Information and Culture: A Journal of History.

For those who like/love comics, it always reeked of being a witch hunt and Tilley’s work has pretty much confirmed that lock, stock and barrel. Read all the details here.

My Pull List: Sean Robinson

UntitledMy Pull List is a regular look at the comics we regularly read. Each time we’ll get one comics lover to detail the books they can’t do without month to month. If you’d like to be a participant,drop us a line!

So since David posted his pull list already, I thought I should share mine. Now I know that I gush about a few series in particular, so some of these won’t be a surprise, but since I’m sure there’s a bunch of new readers to share with. So without further ado, here are my top 5 from my pull list.

1. Hawkeye: Seriously. How many times do I have to tell you? GO. BUY. HAWKEYE. The story of Hawkguy is great, and I think that every single comic fan should give Matt Fraction’s story a chance.

2. Star Wars by Brian Wood: It’s only been one issue, and I’m completely sold on this title. Brian Wood’s Star Wars takes back to the events after A New Hope. The Clone Wars were only a brief mention, and the Rebels were on a high note following the destruction of the Death Star. It tells all new stories about the classic gang leading up to the events of Empire, positioning Leia in a leading role. It’s pretty thanks to Carlos D’Anda, and has heaps of promise.

3. Saga: Another one I’m keen on gushing about, it was my favourite comic series of last year. It’s really quite something, and after nine issues, only gets better. Love it.

4. Comeback: I’m a huge fan of LooperOh and time travel. So this 5 part film noir mixed with time-travel is a dream. Time travel is merely a plot device, in a good way making way for a crazy story full of twists. It’s 3 issues in so pick it up now to be on the train for it’s end.

5. FF: There’s a reason Matt Fraction’s name is the biggest name in our tags section (other than the fact I’ve reviewed three issues with his name on it). He is that great. So are Mike and Laura Allred who are on art duties. The eclectic cast would probably have been crazy with any other creative team, but it works and it works well.

So those are my top pulls. In a month or so, I’ll check back in to show you what has changed, but in the meantime tell us yours – flick us a message with a little bit of info about yourself (first name and rough location at least), and we’ll profile you in coming weeks.