New Venom Trailer Review

New Venom Trailer Review

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Source Material, Uncategorized

 

When Sony announced they were going forward with a Venom movie, we had a right to be skeptical. When considering all of Spider-Man’s iconic villains over the years, Venom is easily one of the most memorable and popular adversaries of the ol’ Web Head. Half alien symbiote that was once bonded to Spider-Man and half disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, their combined hatred of Spider-Man created an monstrous vigilante/anti-hero with considerable powers who continues to cross paths with Spider-Man to this day. One of the few Spider-Man foes to successfully carry their own series, Venom continued to make appearances in comics and television alike until his big screen debut in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. Although the movie and actor Topher Grace tried, the performance failed to capture the charm and danger that Venom represents to Spider-Man and future discussions of a Venom solo film were shelved. Discussion of the solo film returned in 2012 as part of the Amazing Spider-Man series to be directed by Chronicle’s Joshua Trank but that idea went nowhere once again. Finally in 2016, discussions of a Venom solo film were finally moving forward with Tom Hardy cast as Eddie Brock and Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer directing a film outside of the current MCU continuity. The first trailer was an teaser that didn’t really show much of Brock’s alter ego and the second trailer is infamously known for creating the debate around the proper pronunciation of symbiotes. Today the 3rd trailer for Venom was released to the public although I remain skeptical, the content inside has definitely peaked my interest for its premiere in October.

One of the films biggest criticisms already has been the removal of Spider-Man from Venom’s origin overall. Tom Hardy shows an Eddie Brock who isn’t afraid of dealing with scandals or blows to his professional reputation while in pursuit of the truth, but Spider-Man was the main reason for Venom’s creation. Once rejected because of its abuse of its host and his powers, the symbiote lay dormant in a local church until it came across a depressed and vengeful Eddie. Eddie Brock lost everything when his lead on a prolific serial killer turned out to be a red herring while Spider-Man caught the real killer. Unable to accept responsibility for his actions, he blamed Spider-Man for ruining his life and desired revenge as he contemplated suicide. His hatred of Spider-Man was so potent that it awakened the symbiote and the kindred spirits created something unlike any foe Spider-Man had ever faced. After battling Spider-Man more than once, Venom eventually agreed to a truce and moved to San Francisco where he appointed himself the city’s lethal protector dispensing his own unique form of justice. Even though the film apparently finds a way to establish Brock and the events that help to create Venom, Spider-Man’s absence is noticeable primarily to comic book fans but does not derail the film and its direction so far.

 

This version of Venom appears to take inspiration from that chapter in the character’s history with the new villain responsible for its creation being the Life Foundation and its leader Carlton Drake played by Riz Ahmed. The trailer’s dialogue appears in line with the Life Foundation in the comics and their motivation to prepare the world for the upcoming Armageddon  but here they believe that the newly discovered symbiotes are not only mankind’s savior but also the next step in human evolution. Stating the film took inspiration from horror directors like David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, there appears to be all manner of gruesome transformations and deaths as the symbiotes are here and ready to play. Brock’s investigation into the Life Foundation and their experiments will put him on the path to becoming Venom and like any new superpowers, there is the learning curve and definition of the character. Exploring abilities of Venom that were established later in the creature’s continuity, we can see Eddie wrestle out loud with the symbiote about what it is and what their partnership will represent. Fans will cheer at Venom’s debate about what of his enemies’ body parts he’ll eat or his monologue full of threats to a robber of a local business because it reinforces that this character is no Captain America or even the Punisher. Fleischer has promised that this film will open the door to a bigger world referencing the Symbiote Home World and the fact that one of the film’s villains will be the symbiote dubbed Riot. In the comics, Riot was one of the five symbiotes extracted from Venom to be soldiers for the Life Foundation and Riot’s special ability was that it could easily transfer from host to host meaning it could be anybody. As seen in the trailer, Riot commits more than a few atrocities and apparently it will bond with Drake leading to a climatic battle near the end of the film. With Michelle Williams playing Eddie’s DA girlfriend Anne Weyving and rumors that Cletus Cassady aka the man who would become Carnage may make an appearance, it would appear other symbiotes and characters could show up in Venom’s future should the film be successful.

In the comics, Venom’s warped perception is that he is the hero while Spider-Man is the villain. In the trailer we can see Eddie accepting that while these powers are dangerous, its not completely awful suggesting he’s beginning to accept his role as judge, jury and executioner. While the absence of Spider-Man begs the question that without him does Venom have a chance of being a good movie, its important to remember that with the right cast, crew, and script any movie has the potential to be great regardless of a character’s previous portrayals. Despite any flaws that people may fuss and nitpick over, this trailer shows us a fuller and more comprehensive trailer of the movie as a whole than the previous trailers. The movie could be great, it could be okay or it could be awful but that’s the gamble you make every time you sit down in that movie theater. After what I’ve seen, I’m willing to give this Venom a chance and maybe you should too.

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Aquaman and Shazam Trailers suggest hope for the DC Cinematic Universe

Aquaman and Shazam Trailers suggest hope for the DC Cinematic Universe

Posted by on Jul 25, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

 

San Diego Comic Con is the place of nerd spoilers and anticipation where news of all kind are announced, spoiled, discussed and released to the general public. Among the many highlights of that weekend, DC Comics released two trailers for the upcoming Aquaman and Shazam! films to great reaction from an audience who was starting to doubt the DC Cinematic Universe’s potential. With the exception of Wonder Woman, a majority of the recent films in the DC genre haven’t been getting the box office totals or critical reaction DC or Warner Brothers was anticipating which is a shame considering the vast universe of rich and fascinating characters within the DC Comics Universe itself. While the superhero film genre appears dominated by rival company Marvel Comics, Aquaman starring Jason Momoa reprising his role of Arthur Curry from Justice League or Shazam! with Zachary Levi starring as Billy Batson’s adult alter-ego suggest that DC Comics might have a few unexpected tricks that may shift momentum and interest back in their favor.

The Shazam! Trailer:

My first thought about this film is that the DC Universe needs this. Many of their films have opted for a gritty and consistently darker themed movie which have had a mixed reactions from fans who feel the unnecessary action scenes, inconsistent scripts and erratic portrayals of favorite characters contradict fans opinions of their beloved characters and give people unfamiliar with the comics poor introductions to the character. Shazam! also tackles magic which is something the modern superhero film genre has struggled to balance in the past. While films like Marvel’s Thor and Doctor Strange have successfully managed to introduce their characters with a good balance of magic, realism and humor there are moments that have fallen flat. The problem with magic is that once you explain a trick, it loses that wonder and appeal so thus when introducing a character who transforms by getting struck by a magic bolt of lightning, you gotta make it fun. When this film was announced, I was excited because Shazam or his previous name “Captain Marvel” was always a character that seemed eternally Silver Age in a modern world considering his back story and interactions with the DC Universe overall. A runaway is chosen by a magic Wizard to be his champion so whenever he says the magic word “ Shazam”, he transforms into an adult guardian gifted with mythological superpowers and the brain of a young adult. He protects his home in the fictional Fawcett City from a mix of mythical and science fiction foes while still dealing with the everyday struggles of life.  Zachary Levi captures that childlike wonder and joy in his expression and his performance alone. Whether he’s testing his superpowers with his foster brother/best friend Freddy Freeman, a disabled young man played by Jack Dylan Grazer who could end up sharing Billy’s greatness, or realizing he has bullet immunity, I found myself laughing more than once during this trailer because it looks exciting and fun. The script is clearly taking some inspiration from the New 52 version of Shazam from the creative team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank as seen by Billy Batson character played by Asher Angel and the appearance of Dr. Sivana played by Mark Strong. Dr. Sivana, one of Shazam’s oldest enemies, backstory has been changed from an older scientist to someone who also encountered the Wizard who gave Billy his powers but was denied the power. Dr. Sivana’s lifelong quest to achieve those powers in an effort to prove himself will bring him into collision with Shazam and possibly lead to the introduction of Black Adam in future movies to be portrayed by Dwayne Johnson. With the right mix of comedy, action, and comic book references this upcoming 2019 film could be the kind of lighthearted film to shine a light in this gloomy DC Universe.

 

Aquaman Trailer:

Having met the man in real life, I have never had an issue with Jason Momoa’s performance as Aquaman and believed him to be one of the stronger characters portrayed in the Justice League. While Shazam! is a balance of comedy and action, Aquaman proves that comic book movies don’t have to be dark but that they can be serious in their direction and portrayal. Balancing solemn themes of war and responsibility with dashes of science fiction and comedy, Aquaman portrays Arthur Curry struggling to prevent a war between the surface people who threaten the ocean and the people of Atlantis who are eager to retaliate by force. Despite popularity in comics and television, some still remember the time when Aquaman and his powers were considered more comical and gimmicky instead of practical to the Justice League’s adventures. Taking inspiration from the New 52 version of the character and the “Throne of Atlantis” story-line, both products of writer Geoff Johns, we see more into Arthur’s backstory as a child of two worlds: a light keeper at Amnesty Bay and the Queen of Atlantis. We see him working together with Mera, a Xebel princess and Arthur’s loyal love interest, played by Amber Heard as he decides to accept his birthright in order to stop his half-brother Orm a.k.a Ocean Master played by Patrick Wilson from motivating the Seven Seas to war. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s portrayal of Black Manta says nothing but his appearance alone is not only accurate to the comics but adds even more anticipation to this impressive and eagerly anticipated cast.  Director James Wan who did excellent work with Star Trek Beyond shows us both the beauty of Atlantis and the brutality of war as Orm and Arthur battle for the right to rule Atlantis as they see fit. While already entrenched in the DC universe, both films seem comfortable with minimal references to the current DC Cinematic Universe and that essential focus may benefit the film in the long run. Instead of a cameo from Batman or Superman, the film could focus on references or Easter eggs relevant to the character and flesh out this particular version of Aquaman, something that should have been done before the Justice League, not after.  Momoa’s Arthur Curry knows when to let his actions speak for him but the script allows for some good one liners to break apart the serious moments instead of letting the high-intense action become clique or repetitive. With love, weird undersea creatures being either enemy or ally, intriguing cameos from veteran actors and the anticipated appearance of the classic orange and green Aquaman armor, this upcoming movie scheduled for December 2018 reminds us that while Aquaman does talk to fish, he is still King of the Ocean.

At this time, whenever we get excited about an upcoming DC movie we have this little voice in the back of our mind reminding us to remain objective and not to get too excited. Many have voiced criticism with the previous direction of the DC Cinematic Universe and I believe that these two forthcoming films show that DC Comics and Warner Brothers are listening and working towards a better universe that reflects the source material but isn’t afraid to take the characters in new and exciting directions. But this shouldn’t be seen as redemption, it’s not their attempt to be better than Marvel and even if it is, in the end these are just two movies that I can’t wait to sit down and enjoy with an audience of my peers. I’m excited and I want to see more and that is exactly what trailers are meant to do.

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Death of Superman Review

Death of Superman Review

Posted by on Jul 21, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

Few stories changed the very fabric of Superman like 1992-1993’s Death of Superman. The invincible and unstoppable Superman met an enemy unlike few he had experienced before in the form of the feral Doomsday. As the creature tore through cities and superheroes alike, Doomsday met his match in Superman as both adversaries fought a battle that culminated in Superman’s beloved Metropolis. In the end, Superman and Doomsday would die at each other’s hand and his death would rock the very foundation of the DC universe and comics in general. Although he would return in Reign of Superman, Superman would never be the same. The story was adapted in an animated film in 2007’s Superman: Doomsday which attempted to combine both Death and Reign of Superman into one cohesive story and was released to mixed results. Recently, DC Animated Films decided to do what they should have in the first place by splitting both stories into two individual films. With writer Peter Tomasi handling the script with an all-star cast of talent, Death of Superman modernizes the dated material within the context of the current New 52 Animated universe and still manages to fill it with wonderful references and moments that capture the meaningfulness of the tragedy it represents.


One of the films strengths is its script. Peter Tomasi balances his sense of humor with his ability to juggle multiple characters with their own individual’s moments while still doing the source material justice. Stripping away elements from the original stories that would have been too confusing or tangential, he makes the focus about Superman and his relationships, specifically his with Lois Lane voiced by real life couple Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn. Although Superman’s identity and the means he takes to conceal it from others has been a constant debate with comic book fans, the movie takes the time to explore Clark’s double life and the vulnerability to his emotions that comes as a result. As Superman, he might as well be a god but as Clark Kent, he experiences life plagued by doubt, fear, frustration, and embarrassment as much as the next person. He can stop Intergang from kidnapping the Mayor but introducing Lois Lane to his parents petrifies the Man of Steel in a way that Lex Luthor would envy. Tomasi takes time to pepper in references not only from the comic but also from Superman’s entire history. Whether it’s a redheaded Lex Luthor or a fish girl that Clark used to date, it shows that not only did Tomasi do his research but he also knows how to mention it without distracting from the overall story. As we get a good idea of Clark and his everyday life, everything changes the second Doomsday drops in from the sky.

Doomsday isn’t like other Superman villains, he isn’t bound by revenge or ego; his goal is not to enslave the planet or challenge Superman to an arm wrestling contest to see who is the strongest. He is simply there to destroy and he does it very well as he tears through people and Justice League alike. The Justice League puts up a good effort, voiced by a group of regulars such as Jason O’Mara, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion and Shemar Moore, but the only one who can stop Doomsday is Superman and the two battle back and forth wearing each other down until their tragic end at each other’s hands in the ruins of Metropolis.


While I did enjoy the movie, I felt that updating the story to fit within the new 52 storyline came off as disjointed instead of natural at times. It’s true that not a lot of the original material would have made sense but I felt that the story might have worked as a collective flashback amongst survivors of Doomsday’s rampage instead of an unfolding narrative. Details like Superman’s new 52 costume seemed strange in the same context of his relationship with Lois Lane since that relationship didn’t exist at that time in Superman’s revised history. The Justice League, which is supposed to represent a group of the world’s mightiest heroes, are just symbols who prove to be nothing without Superman when they get beaten every other week according to Lex Luthor. While the meeting at the Hall of Justice was a good moment to let the characters connect and breathe, some members such as Batman had far bigger roles to play in the conflict while characters like Hawkman were there and then quickly removed from the battlefield.

Then there’s Lex Luthor played by Rainn Wilson whose Lex fails to capture the arrogance and intelligence of Clancy Brown’s portrayal  and at times has more in common with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex from Batman vs. Superman. Until the end of the film, Lex does very little but verbally spar with Superman, outsmart the authorities and figure out a way to use this new monster to his advantage. He makes his move in the battle against Doomsday but to his horror his worst nightmare becomes true with Superman saving his life before sacrificing his own, leaving him the lesser man. The sneering and overbearing Lex was obviously present but Wilson unfortunately didn’t have the kind of gravitas and presence I’ve come to expect from the character. Fortunately these flaws do not overshadow the film or make the film less enjoyable overall.

In the end, the Man of Steel is gone and the world mourns his loss with a big ceremony that shows how those who knew him grieve regarding his absence in their own unique ways. Some cry, some bury themselves in their work to distract from their pain while others are not entirely convinced he’s truly dead. The film sets up the next movie Reign of Superman perfectly by introducing each of the four upcoming Supermen subtly throughout the movie and after his death, the film pulls a Lord of the Rings multiple ending to show that Superman’s legacy will live on. The person I found myself connecting with the most was Bibbo Bibbowski, owner of the Ace o’ Clubs bar and Superman’s #1 fan. Whether he’s getting a picture with the Man of Steel or talking about today’s special with ” Super Sauce”, Bibbo represents all the fans who find inspiration and hope within Superman. When Superman dies, we find Bibbo distraught and wondering how such a thing could happen and that moment is a metaphor for life. Sometimes we invest ourselves in ideas and symbols and put our faith and love towards them so when they fail or die, our faith is shaken because our beliefs are no longer indestructible; they can be beaten or broken and that makes us feel even smaller and more alone than we did originally. Despite the ramifications his death and eventual resurrection had for comics in general, I thought Death of Superman was a faithful adaptation that despite its flaws captured the emotional essence of the story and I look forward to seeing how that story continues/ends in Reign of Superman debuting early 2019.

 

 

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Ant-Man and the Wasp Spoiler Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp Spoiler Review

Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

Ant Man and the Wasp, sequel to 2015’s Ant Man, reminds us that not every comic book movie needs to be about saving the entire world. The world can be interpreted as protecting a community, a city, or even the world represented by an individual’s life and those connected to them. When Ant Man was an Edgar Wright project, the former writer/director envisioned his movie to be a standalone film that wasn’t connected to the mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although some of his vision changed when he left the film, that idea of Ant Man being an outsider to the MCU has seemingly become part of the characters charm. When Scott Lang was recruited to fight alongside Captain America and his forces in Captain America: Civil War, he gave the impression of somebody who never thought they’d get to play in the big leagues but who now was playing short stop. Although he found himself on the losing side of that battle which had consequences that echo throughout this movie, you notice that Scott is still the center focus of the film instead of a project oversaturated with Marvel cameos and Easter eggs. Some of the best Marvel movies or projects such as Iron Man, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Spider-Man: Homecoming or the Netflix and/or Hulu series worked so well because they were character dominant stories that focused on the individual heroes and their conflicts. The cast and crew of this latest Marvel installment avoid the sequel slump that plagued Iron Man and Thor by delivering a unique, hilarious and unconventional comic book movie which serves as a palate cleanser for those still recovering from Avengers: Infinity War.


It’s been two years since the events of Civil War and already we find Scott Lang has been using his time well in an adorable and creative makeshift Ant Man adventure alongside his daughter Cassie. Days away from being released from house arrest and eager to continue his life without the charming but naïve agent Jimmy Woo monitoring his every move, he receives a peculiar vision involving his estranged mentor’s wife Janet who he may have met during his brief time in the Quantum Realm. He makes a call and just like that, he finds himself back with Hope and Hank who ignore his attempts to apologize for they have been busy while on the run. Hank believes they might be able to get to the Quantum Realm to rescue Janet and Hope has been assisting her father while training to be the new Wasp. Evangeline Lily practically glows as the Wasp and her entire performance is amazing combined with Paul Rudd’s comedic charm. Her action scenes flow effortlessly whether she’s battling thugs in a kitchen or zipping in and out of a car to retrieve a shrunken laboratory. Co-Creator Stan Lee commented that he found it difficult at times to write stories involving Ant-Man and the Wasp due to the complications of writing stories where size and perception could change randomly. In this movie, director Peyton Reed uses it to his advantage. Wasp changes her size consistently within minutes while Scott’s technical difficulties make for some of the more hilarious moments in the film especially the scene where they have infiltrate Cassie’s school to retrieve Scott’s original Ant Man suit. Michael Douglas’ gruff demeanor is perfect whether he’s breaking up the romantic tension between Hope and Scott or dropping hilarious commentary on the current events which have become the everyday fabric of his life.I don’t think anybody has handled talking to his estranged wife through another man in such a calm and sentimental demeanor. And of course where Ant-Man be without one of Luis’s long but hilarious recapping of current events? It’s just like T.I said when one of the antagonists tries to interrupt our fast talking narrator “ You put in the money so now you gotta go along for the ride”.

They say a movie’s hero is only as good as its villain but this movie is special for the reason that I believe it doesn’t have a main villain but rather antagonists; characters who’s goals interfere with the plans of our heroes thus bringing them into conflict. Sonny Birch and his associates are just your run of the mill thugs with Birch being a criminal businessman who wants to get ahead of the competition in the black market and isn’t afraid of using “truth serum” or informants to do so . They make for entertaining banter and effective opponents during the wonderfully choreographed car chase near the end of the film. Hannah John-Kamen takes Ava Starr’s Ghost in a completely different direction than the comic’s version of the character.

Instead of being an anti-capitalist saboteur whose obsession and powers isolates them from the world, Hannah’s performance as a tortured child-turned-weapon whose powers are literally killing her makes her sympathetic instead of clique or one-dimensional. Although she is a trained operative of the now-defunct S.H.I.E.L.D, it’s the humanity and anger of Hannah’s performance that makes us sympathize with her and her surrogate father, Bill Foster played by Lawrence Fishburne. Both of them connected in a way to Hank Pym’s work, one by a failed experiment and the other by a failed working relationship, and yet they clearly care for each other. Ava lashed out in pain and frustration because that’s not only all she knows but she is afraid of dying. Bill wants to help her even when her condition pushes the limits of his knowledge and when she considers kidnapping Cassie in order to draw Scott out, he puts his foot down and tells her no, like any concerned father when his child is considering a decision they can’t come back from. Although I would have liked to have seen more regarding Bill and project Goliath, a reference to the superhero identity his comic counterpart carries, I did find it refreshing that both Bill and Ava managed to remain alive at the end of the film. Considering how Marvel movies have a habit of killing their villains at the end, it was nice to see Ant-Man and the Wasp avoid that tradition. If anything the real overarching villain in this and other Marvel movies are modern day government or terrorist organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D and HYDRA who take in individuals like Ava and make them into weapons only to cast them aside once they serve their purpose or abandon them when their group dissolves for whatever reason. Once Ava regains her life with the help of the returned Janet Van Dyne, she’s eager to turn herself in or run but Bill reminds her that for once in her life, she’s not alone and they flee together. Sometimes even villains can get some amalgamation of a happy ending, even just for one day.

In the end, the true unspoken hero of Ant-Man and the Wasp is Cassie Lang. Without her, Scott Lang would have never performed the heist that put him on the path to become the second Ant-Man in both the movies and the comics. She has always been his first priority and Abby Ryder Fortson plays her with just the right balance of innocence and humor she clearly learned from her dad. In this movie, his goal is keeping out of trouble long enough to see her outside of his house and in true Marvel fashion, that puts him at odds with both of his careers.  When his actions seem to have jeopardized Hank and Hope’s plans to save Janet, Cassie sits next to him and tells him that she know he’s Ant Man again but more importantly that she loves him and wants him to do right by his friends, especially his new partner. I found her disappointment about her dad wanting Hope as his partner in the field instead of her  adorable in the way that it reminds me of how she becomes the hero Stature years later in the comics which I would love for them to explore in later films.  Cassie Lang presence reinforces that one of the main themes of Ant-Man and the Wasp is family. We see the lengths that Scott will resort to maintain but also protect his family similar to the journey that Hank Pym and Hope aspire in order to rescue someone they thought they had lost forever or how far Bill Foster was willing to go to save Ava. These are the kind of decisions anybody would do for someone they care about or love regardless of any risks, doubts or dangers. Even at the end before our feel good happy ending is ended with one hell of a cliffhanger, our heroes were journeying back into the Quantum Realm to further help Ava and her condition because that’s what heroes do: they put their entire world on the line to help preserve every single one of ours. Although the traditional mid credits scene tragically answered where both heroes were during the events of Infinity War, I overall enjoyed the film and hope that Marvel will continue to push the envelope with their characters and how their movies can be. Until then, I’ll just keep wondering what other names Scott can come up for his faithful ant soldiers.

Also the Stan Lee cameo was as always awesome: ” Well 60’s were fun but now I’m paying for it”

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The Legacy of Steve Ditko

The Legacy of Steve Ditko

Posted by on Jul 7, 2018 in Opinion, Uncategorized


Yesterday comic book legend Steve Ditko passed away at 90 years old and with his passing, he leaves behind a legacy of impressive and unique characters who pushed the boundaries of comics and comic book storytelling. With an remarkable resume from both mainstream and independent companies alike, Ditko spent much of his later years as “the J.D. Salinger of comics” who rarely made appearances but kept his Manhattan studio where he continued to write and draw up until his death. Many creators have attributed Ditko’s work and style as an inspiration and honestly, the comic book industry would not be where it is today without him.


It was his father who inspired his love of comics and Steve Ditko grew up reading such comics as Prince Valiant, Batman and the Spirit before enlisting in the army where he contributed artwork for a military paper in post-war Germany. After he was discharged, he moved in New York in the 1950s and studied under legendary Batman artist Jerry Robinson in the Cartoonist and Illustrator School (later known as the School of Visual Arts). Robinson would remark being very impressed with Steve’s work ethic and dedication and it was there that editor of Atlas Comics Stan Lee, who was a guest speaker for Robinson’s class, was first introduced to Ditko’s work. Ditko’s early work would be as an inker in Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s studio alongside artist Mort Meskin, the beginning of his longstanding relationship with Charlton Comics, but it was his work at Atlas Comics later known as Marvel Comics that would lead to greatness. His work Journey of Mystery, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish were great but his work in Amazing Adventures marked the first in his collaborations with Stan Lee. These small collaborations would lay down the groundwork for what would be known as the “Marvel Method” of comic book storytelling where Lee would give details of the plot and then Ditko would do the rest.


In the early 1960s, Ditko was approached by Stan Lee about a new kind of superhero he was working on called Spider-Man. Ditko worked on the costume, the motif and small details involving the character who debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 and history was made. Originally stating that he would continue to draw Spider-Man “if nothing better comes along”, Lee and Ditko created many of Spider-Man’s most iconic adversaries including Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Lizard, Electro and the infamous Green Goblin. Ditko eventually would demand plot credit for his work performed under the Marvel method and was granted this, a notable achievement considering the difficulty many early comic book artists had asserting ownership for characters they helped create for major companies years later. During his run on Amazing Spider-Man, his work on Issue #33 contained a single page depicting one of the most iconic images in Spider-Man history

and he would find a near equal amount of success in his next collaboration with Stan Lee, the Sorcerer Supreme known as Doctor Strange in 1963. Ditko’s mystical landscapes and elaborate, psychedelic visuals pushed his work to another level unseen by comics at that time as it was a favorite of college students and emphasized the mood and anxiety of the stories’ characters. Although he would forever be remembered for the work he performed in those four years at Marvel, he left after a rumored dispute between him and Stan Lee and would not return until 1979.


Over the next ten to twenty years, Ditko would work on a great number of characters in multiple companies. At Charlton Comics, he worked on Blue Beetle, the Question and Captain Atom, all three characters he had co-created in the 1960s. He worked for a short time at DC Comics, co-creating the eccentric vigilante The Creeper and the duo Hawk and Dove before leaving to work with Charlton Comics again until 1974.

When he returned to DC in 1975, he created Shade the Changing Man, created the fantasy series titled Stalker, revived the Creeper, worked on the Legion of Superheroes and co-created the Prince Gavyn Starman with Paul Levitz in 1980. After returning to Marvel, he worked on a few titles and created the young hero Speedball but for much of the 1980s and 1990s he would freelance with Marvel and other independent companies producing all matter of series and characters with mixed commercial reactions, one of his most successful series being Mr. A which was heavily inspired by Ayn Rand’s philosophy about Objectivism . One of his last original characters for Marvel would be the loveable Squirrel Girl in 1992 but the kind of work Ditko was producing wasn’t finding the market it once had and he retired in 1998.

In 2008, a New York Times article had this to say about Ditko and his career post retirement “By the ’70s he was regarded as a slightly old-fashioned odd-ball; by the ’80s he was a commercial has-been, picking up wretched work-for-hire gigs. … Ditko hacked out moneymaking work, saving his care for the crabbed Objectivist screeds he published with tiny presses. And boy, could Ditko hack: seeing samples of his Transformers coloring book and his Big Boy comic is like hearing Orson Welles sell frozen peas.”


Despite retiring from mainstream comics, Steve Ditko continued to write and draw with most of his solo work published intermittently by Robin Snyder who had been his editor at Charlton, Archie Comics, and other companies in the 1980s. Collections of his work were occasionally published throughout the early 2000s while he claimed to maintain a tense relationship with Marvel regarding compensation for the characters he created being used in film and television. He continued to work in the Midtown West neighborhood and usually declined to do interviews or make public appearances up until his death this year, claiming “When I do a job, it’s not my personality that I’m offering the readers but my artwork. It’s not what I’m like that counts; it’s what I did and how well it was done. I produce a product, a comic art story. Steve Ditko is the brand name”. Despite the rocky state of his career in his later years, comics and their storytelling could not have accomplished what they have without Steve Ditko’s influence. His early artwork, no matter its date, continues to inspire future creators with its style and creativity and while I respect his desire for privacy and how he viewed his work, I wish fans such as myself could have gotten the opportunity to thank him in person for how much his work meant and inspired others. Thank you, Mr. Ditko and I hope you find the peace that you deserve.

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Crisis of Infinite Weddings: Batman and Catwoman

Crisis of Infinite Weddings: Batman and Catwoman

Posted by on Jul 6, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized


Marriage is no small decision. When writer Tom King had Bruce Wayne unmask and propose to Selina Kyle, it was an unexpected conclusion to an intense and near fatal victory from the vengeful and meticulous Bane. Batman has always been one of DC Comics strongest characters – primarily because he is a walking paradox of tragedy and willpower. By choosing to become Batman, he entered into a  symbolic matrimony that would be for better or for worse until victory or death. So when he proposed to Catwoman many were skeptical. Tom King, alongside many talented artists, put both characters through every kind of gauntlet the DC universe could offer and still they remained together. Because deep down, we believe in Batman and we want to believe he can be happy even if we know he cannot. Before the issue was even in stores, online spoilers confirmed there was no marriage, making this the second comic book wedding this year to end in disappointment and frustration. This recent failure of buildup with an unsatisfying conclusion continues to give the incorrect impression that comic book characters are unable to commit to the expectations of marriage. Yes folks, they can save the world again and again but walking down the altar and saying ” I do”  may be too much for our heroes to handle.

Just like Kitty Pryde and Colossus’ wedding at Marvel, the entire issue is spent building up to the big moment. The main story drawn beautifully by Batman Rebirth collaborator Michael Janin shows Bruce and Selina’s  building up to the ceremony tied together with their individual letters narrating their thoughts and feelings to each other. The issue is scattered with pages from various artists who have contributed to Batman throughout the years but with little to no contribution to the main story, it appears just as a ploy to  justify the issues $4.99 sales price.

It was right around the point where Selina’s friend Holly starts suggesting that maybe Batman can’t be married and be happy that I started to get déjà vu, as if some of the plot points from Kitty and Piotr’s failed marriage had made their way over to Batman. While Tom King’s current narrative in Batman has been strong and full of great character moments, Bruce’s  talk with Alfred being one of the strongest in this issue, I found myself wishing more was shown instead of being told. Instead of Selina telling Bruce that she couldn’t marry him in a letter and why, I would have liked a conversation between the two of them discussing this. Selina has had all sorts of people discuss her relationship with Batman, even a one-on-one with the Joker, but she remained steadfast in her decision until now. She has seen more of Bruce Wayne than most partners ever did but it takes one conversation to unhinge her faith in their love; she believes marrying Bruce will rob Batman of the necessary drive that allows him to help others.  Just like Batman loses his bride, we lose our hope in Batman ever finding a happy ending. There has been 25 issues, tie-ins, press and work invested into this and in the end  they just didn’t go through with it? It is completely frustrating because they had you believing it was gonna happen. You believed the hype so much that you didn’t see the rug pulled under your feet until it was too late. Now you feel foolish for even believing it could happen in the first place. In the end, this event ruined marriage for Batman the way  Death of Superman ruined death for all superheroes.


This disappointment continues a trend in comics over the last few years that comic book characters apparently can’t handle stable relationships. Their lifestyle does not allow for the kind of happiness and stability necessary for a relationship or a family and I think that’s absurd. In certain circumstances, it’s been absolutely entertaining watching Superman juggle a family and its responsibilities or watch Batman trying to be a father and also Batman. It takes them out of their element and adds a certain humor to the high stakes intensity and seriousness that is as much their lives as the capes and tights. Regarding Bruce and Selina, they are still Batman and Catwoman and writer Tom King has shown this continues to be a part of his overall story so this moment will not be overlooked for it simply the end of the current chapter.

Will Bruce and Selina attempt to discuss what happened and where to go from there? Probably but I don’t understand why such moments couldn’t have been explored or explained better and that’s where most of my frustration is focused. By denying us those experiences, the readers are robbed of a better way to understand and identify with the characters. The event had such buildup and momentum behind it and it just fizzled before our eyes. It could have been different and it should have been discovered by fans who waited at their stores until midnight or went the next day to buy the issue instead of spoiled days before by reputable news sources who should know better. Regardless if you were rooting for or against them, no matter how disappointed you are or who you’d like to blame for this turn of events, we don’t have to like it but as always, we move forward and hope for something better tomorrow. In the end we still have Batman and as Kite Man would say, hell yeah.

Here’s remembering the time she almost got ‘im!

 

 

 

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