Sunday, August 23, 2015

Greener Comic Pastures: Recommending Non-Superhero Comics (Starring Women)

If you frequent a  comics website or certain groups like EuroBloggers, then you will, sooner or later, come across articles on how comics lack female representation. They do not. Okay yeah, superhero comics seem to lack them, as do some of the movies, but as we should all know: superhero comics do not equal comics. There are plenty of female lead or female co-starring books out there and I might as well share some of them with you.

Alex + Ada
Have you seen Her or Ex Machina? Then this is not it, it's similar in premise. Guy falls in love with girl robot. I'm only two trades in at the moment but this is an enjoyable book. You can tell that neither the author nor the artist are terribly experienced yet but it's an impressive effort. Within a few issues, the book had set up multiple storylines, with each issue furthering the romance between Alex and Ada, the A.I. freedom movement that Ada and Alex are now part of, and the complex series of hiding Ada's true nature in a world that fears artificial intelligence. While some could probably read something offensive in the fact that Ada was freed or "unlocked" by a guy, it was never done for shady purposes and only because he felt uncomfortable owning what was essential a sexbot. It's only three trades in at the moment so you might as well jump on as the storyline is steaming ahead full.

I recommended this series over a year ago already and I can't stop loving this series. The story is summed up relatively easy: on an uneventful day in a small town somewhere in Wisconsin the dead rise one day. The city is quickly put under quarantine and now sheriff department Deputy Dana Cypress is put in charge by the sheriff as basically the main investigator to what the author himself called a "rural noir". Add in that it's quickly found out that Dana's sister is among the revivers, and who have quickly a lot of stories going on, dealing with government coverups, redneck survivalists, a mysterious burned killer going around, and of course how the city adapts to having their dead risen and maybe not back to the way they were. And how do these weird yellow ghosts play into all of this? Revival is a fantasy detective story where the snowy town is the only bright thing in it.

This had to come at some point but Saga is and remains the best comic published right now, after all, it is the newest book by Brian K. Vaughn, he of Y: The Last Man. The story is, once again, quickly summed up: guy and a girl, Marko and Alana, from opposite faction's of a generation long war fall in love and have a kid. Now hunted by bounty hunters and the government to surpress this message of love a bunch of weirdos have to raise a child in a living ship... okay I know this sounds stupid but it's better than it is, trust me. The cast of characters is all around excellent and well characterised similar to the other two recommendations, the show has a lot of storylines in the air but don't let that deter you, Saga handles all of them flawlessly, while diving into stories of so many characters but never forgetting the actual main character: the baby Hazel herself, who also serves as narrator, so you see how all of these stories tie into that character and how it impacted and shaped her. Is she, as some say and claim, the most important being in the universe? Or just a child who grew up in interesting times? Well, you'll have to find out by reading.

These are just some of the comics out right now that star female characters and it was just there to remind you that, while you may be disappointed by the lack of interesting female characters in superhero comics, there are always other books you can check out and support.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fantastic Four (2015): A Mini Review

I think we will be talking about this film in great lengths yet on the podcast but I think it might be worth to get my take on it out. So here goes:

This is a movie whose greatest fault is not being a Marvel Studios movie, hated years in advance of it’s release for not being a Marvel Studios movie, thus taken away from it’s director’s original Cronenbergian vision and via executive mandate stripped of it’s character development and interesting aspects to be turned into a Marvel non-Studios film. What remains is a proof of concept where there should have been a proper movie. What remains is a serviceable adventure scifi flick that should have been a hard scifi film. It’s not worth praise but it’s not worth the outright bile thrown in it’s direction either.
At worst this is an uninspired scifi movie with good ideas. It's not a travesty, it's not a betrayal: nerds, get over yourselves. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Day Late & A Dollar Short - 5 Reasons Why Big-Budget Movies Underperform

If you've paid attention to the movie industry over the last few years, then you will know that certain movies under perform and flop. Which makes sense after all. Not everyone has the time and the money or wants to put in the effort to watch all movies that come out each year. And as we all know by now by just looking at the upcoming movie schedule, or recent box office numbers, it doesn't always hit deserving films. Edge of Tomorrow, lauded as one of the best Tom Cruise films since the man went gaga? Underperformed. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, directed by one of the best film makers of our generation and one of the best comic adaptations around? Underperformed. The-Movie-That-I-Am-No-Longer-Allowed-To-Name-Or-Argue-For-It's-Greatness-Anymore-Even-Though-It-Was-Genuinely-One-Of-The-Best-Comic-Movies-Ever-And-Butthurt-Fanboys-Need-To-Shut-The-F-Up? Underperformed. You get the idea. By time of writing even the new Terminator did not make as much as people wanted it to make, putting future sequel plans at risk. Now why is this? Well, let's take a look at the list. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Going Smaller Is The Way Forward - Why Most Superhero Movies Are Mediocre At Best

Paraphrasing Dwight D. Eisenhower on the military-industrial complex, every superhero film shot is a rom-com unmade, an indie un-financed, a female-led or original action film hurled in the trash to make way for putting together the $100-million-plus needed to make and the additional $50-million-plus to market a movie whose biggest purpose is reconstituting four-color characters who date back, in many cases, as far as…well, Dwight D. Eisenhower
 - James Rocchi,

The quote you see above is taken from what I have told good ol' Peter earlier today is now my favoritest thing on the internet for the next five minutes. In it author James Rocchi talks about the modern superhero movie in such great lengths and about so many details that I won't take out the time to summarize it, so I highly recommend that you just read it for yourself.

Just ignore the first one okay?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Captain Planet - Mangled Ecology

I'm going to try something different today, I am not going to talk about World War 2, and I am going to talk about what I find to be the major problems in the public perception of environmentalism, ecology and sustainability.

"The power is yours!" - Environmentalism in entertainment

I think, given the pop culture focus of this blog it would be fitting to start off this trip by talking about one of the internet's favorite whipping boys: Captain Planet & the Planeteers!

Captain Planet & the Planeteers gets a bad rep, it is very much a product of it's time and has a lot of things going for it, but make no mistake, it is awful. In a lot of ways it examplifies everything wrong, not only with the way popular culture treats environmentalism, but also with day-to-day environmental discourse.

Oh Internet Outrage, How Do I Loath Thee - On Internet Troubles and Real World Suffering

Oh internet, internet, thy outrages about race and sex, about opression and repression, how do I love thee... okay enough with that pseudo Shakespeare shit, let's just get this over with before the pitch forks come out.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why We Should Shut Up and Be Glad That Firefly Got Cancelled

They aim to misbehave

Originally, I was going to write this article about a week or two ago but then the whole Joss Whedon twitter fiasco happened and I didn't want to seem like I was harping on the guy when he was down. So, onto the topic of today's article then: Firefly. 

For those of you who haven't been around nerddom recently - first of all: well done - Firefly was a 2002/2003 scifi show with western elements, or more commonly called a space western. Kinda like Cowboy Bebop but not as good. Still, it had interesting, fun characters and a cool world to explore and to this day it remains my favorite Joss Whedon show. Now the show has been cancelled for twelve or so years, a movie was made a few years after the fact, that didn't make back it's money but at least gave the fans a satisfying conclusion to the story. Or rather what little story was told in 14 episodes. 

Characters and stuff

Now, even twelve years later, fans still want a continuation of the show, there was talks about crowd funding, and recently we got an official comic book continuation written by the Whedon clan. Okay, all fine and good. But I don't read those. And that's because I think that maybe it was a good thing that Firefly was cancelled. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review (No Spoilers) - So Okay It's Average

Avengers: Age of Photoshop
Okay, here we go again. Old Man Alex telling you why he doesn't like to play ball with all you youngens. 
Kidding. Let me say this up front: this will be a non spoiler review of a decent, somewhat above average movie that I liked. Please stay after and let me explain why a score of 5-6/10 does not actually mean anything. That being said, let's begin. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ms. Marvel: No Normal Vol. 1 TPB Review

First time I'm actually reviewing a trade paperback. Well, there's always something new to do, especially on a blog with arguably no real niche. But hey, what are you gonna do...

For a while there I dreaded reading this book, fearing to, like so often, dislike a popular thing and then going on the internet and telling people that they are completely wrong for liking it. Thankfully, this was not the case here. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Look Back at The Amazing Spider-Man 2 : The Future of Spider-Man on Film

My first movie review on EuroBloggers was the review for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. A film that was, cautiously speaking, polarizing. Some people loved it, others hated it. I, eventually, named it my favorite movie of 2014, a position it might have obtained after months of annoyance towards the people who where bashing a thoroughly entertaining if overfilled movie whose biggest sin was the Sony Pictures Logo instead of a Marvel Studios one. But let's talk about Spider-Man's future film career instead. 
Regardless of the hate and/or love the movie received, important for Sony was only that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would be a huge financial success. That didn't happen. Though the movie made 700 Million US-Dollars worldwide in the box office. Respectable numbers but not if contrasted with the film and marketing budgets. Generously said, ASM2 pulled even in the end. 

Your Argument Is Valid, I Just Don't Care - Thoughts on Taste and Arguments

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
You know at this point, regardless of whether or not I actually liked this movie, my investment in movie tickets and the Blu-ray have really paid of at this point considering all the material I got out of the Amazing Spider-Man 2. All joking aside, this movie must have inspired me in a good dozen videos and articles so far, all of different aspects, be it actors, the MCU, Hollywood box office results, and now taste. But don't worry, I'm gonna crap on your opinion on the new Fantastic Four movie as well so please keep reading.

The Need For Conspiracy Theories

Believe it or not, but sometimes I actually wanna write about something other than comics. I know, scary thought. So let's talk about the internet's favorite past time besides kittens and boobs: conspiracies. 

Conspiracies have always fascinated humans. The thought that someone could have come up with a highly complex plan to create a false flag operation to invade a foreign country for its natural resources. And why yes, I am talking about 9/11. But here's the deal: most of the conspiracy theories that people talk about and believe to be purposefully created are not such events. And the thought that nothing of this event, to stay with the example of 9/11, that at no point the US government was in a position of absolute control, that some demented extremists, who had set their mind to their perverted task, were just able to take two planes and fly them into nerve centers of American life, commerce and defense, that frightens people. Fear. The main reason for the existence of conspiracy theories. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reflections on Gamergate and Moral Grayness

In August 2014 game developer Zoe Quinn and gaming journalist Nathan Grayson had the dubious privilege of being in the epicenter of what would become known as Gamergate. Details mostly come from the old middle school drama bullshit of "he said, she said" from what I can tell, but the gist of it is that Nathan Grayson wrote a blog dragging his ex-girlfriend through the mud for breaking up with him. That's where the harassment part of Gamergate came from. Then other people went "hang on, you were in a relationship with a game developer, whose game you reviewed, and you did not disclose your bias?". That's where the gaming ethics debate part came from. Enter other names like Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian, all terms to be googled at your own discretion, and you got the mess that is Gamergate. What do I think about it? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Dolphin Squad - Heroes of the Sea" Review

Ladies, gentlemen and sexless sea anemonae today I enter dangerous waters. Today I encroach on Brad Dee's bizzaz. I'm going to review "Dolphin Squad - Heroes of the Sea", a graphic novel written and drawn by Danny J. Weston, and published by Deadstar Publishing.
From left: Lazer Eye, Fabian, Vinny
Introducing the Dolphin Squad is daunting to say the least. If you don't know who they are then what are you doing here!? Hand in your nerd card, and go find another social group, you freak. The comic opens with a retelling of the story of how their creator Alan Smithee came up with the idea after having been stranded on an island for 18 months, how grizzly and tragic death thrust his creations into the limelight, the 80's cartoon, iconic storylines like "Seath in the Pod", the live-action movie etc. Like I said recounting this stuff is somewhat unnecessary as most hardcore fans will already be familiar with it, but I suppose it is a nice feature for neophytes.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Banality of the Daleks

On the 9th of April, 1940 Denmark was invaded by Germany. With this occupation the Germans promised to treat Denmark as an independent and "neutral" territory, as long as the Danish Government cooporated.  An extraordinary governmental constellation consistenting of the 4 major parties* governed during the occupation. The prime minister at the time, Thorvald Stauning, a well-known, some would say infamous** figure in Danish politics, urged the Danes to cooperate with the invaders, in any way possible. Needless to say, the public did not take this well, as they feared that the Germans would do to Denmark, what they had done, (and still were doing) to Poland. Resistance movements began to form over the course of the war, and the Danish government passively resisted to the best of it's ability, it helped evacuate 99% of Country's Jewish population, including my grandfather, but couldn't officially back-up any of the resistance movements. Despite this, Denmark became known as "die Sahnefront" (lit. "the cream front") to the German troops, because it was relatively peaceful compared to the other theaters, even when the final days of the war, when the RAF was bombing targets in Danish cities. After the government had finally been dissolved in 1943, some of the remnants began actively working with the resistances. On the 5th of May 1945, the Germans surrendered and Denmark was liberated. The now-unified resistance took control of the country while the government reconstituted itself. There was much rejoicing, businesses closed "due to bliss", people burned their blackout curtains***, it was finally over.

Celebration in Copenhagen, May the 5th, 1945

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Violence and Superheroes

8 hours ago (at time of writing) Alex published a wondefully ”troperiffic” criticsm of the X-Men as an analogy for oppressed and marginalized minorites. I generally agree with him, and it made think of one of my problems with the merry mutants.

Art by John Cassaday

The purpose of the X-Men is to build goodwill and trust between humans and mutants, which due to Marvel's trademark poetic irony would backfire or have little to no impact, but that wouldn't stop them. The X-Men are about idealism, about how you shouldn't give up on doing the right thing even though it seems impossible, even though the world hates and fears you. You could argue that the struggle of the X-Men can never end, because racism** can never be over, Over time, the in- and out-of-universe perception of Homo Superior* changed, some writers embraced the idea of Mutants as an analogy while others didn't.

How the Status Quo Ruined the X-Men - On Racism and Failed Allegories in Superhero Comics

I don't care about the X-Men. This might sound like a strange thing to open an article about the X-Men with but I would actually like to explain why I don't like the X-Men.

 In theory, the X-Men are what I want from comics or even literature in general: a cool concept that can also make you think. The whole thing about the X-Men has always been that they are an allegory about racism and homophobia. Okay fine, that's a really great thing. That's not just a cool concept, that can lead to all thoughts of great story lines. Unfortunately, the execution of that was lackluster at best over the past few decades and is now arguably the main reason why I actually hate the X-Men and refuse to pick up their books. Let me explain. 

Most people would agree that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You introduce your story, build up the characters and the world, then you tell the story and explore your themes, they might need to overcome obstacles in order to succeed, but in the end they triumph (or not, depending on the tone of the piece and the message you wanna sent) and then the story is over. You may begin another one or not, that is all up to you and whether you think that the universe and characters you have created can support a sequel.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy Dead at Age 83 - A Legend Has Passed On

Earlier today, as reported by the BBC and other news outlets, Leonard Nimoy has passed on.

Leonard Nimoy has been a geek icon ever since he first put on the ears of Mr Spock back in the 1966 and has been a pop culture legend ever since. Everyone on Earth knows the Vulcan salute, everyone knows his iconic lines. Now he is no more.

When I first heard the news just half an hour or so ago I was shocked, saddened by the death of one of my favorite actors but also because it finally sank in that all of us, that we grew up with these legends on our TV and Movie screens, are all still mortal and are all fated to leave the boundaries of this world and slip into the great unknown. I am just saddened that such a giant had to leave us way too soon for a man who shaped geekdom like barely anyone else. Maybe it's melodramatic, but I would like to end with the words used in one of Mr Nimoy's movies, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. And while in that movie the Undiscovered Country meant hope for the future, I believe it is okay to use them as they were intended in Hamlet.

The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,

Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy. Goodbye, Spock. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

On Captain America, Nazis, and Hollywood

  • Trivializing of WW2
  • too much GI Joe vs Cobra, rather than making a more serious movie
  • tries too put too much back story in a 2 hour movie that didn't need to be there
  • needed a few more drafts
  • The USO phase could have been streamlined
  • the training could have been streamlined since Erskine wanted Steve anyway
  • feels like a weird hybrid that wants to either be a character piece about an American Icon or a swashbuckling adventure film and it fails at both
  • either make fun of the Nazis or do it seriously, otherwise it belittles the actual suffering of the war
  • really reminds me that WW2 is the American's favorite war: last time they were the good guys and they show it
  • it should have taken a page out of Flags of Our Fathers and instead went with GI Joe
These are the bullet points that I came up with of the top of my head when I started out to write my review of Captain America: The First Avenger. That was at a point in time when I thought people actually cared about non-current reviews. Thing is, I didn't actually want to review the film, because, frankly, by this point everyone and their mom wrote down their opinions on this movie. Most people liked it, others didn't and I belong to the latter category. Even though the film did finally make me 'get' the character of Captain America, I was also reminded that lowbrow action/superhero adventure movies, made to be enjoyed in the cinema with friends and lots of popcorn and soda, do not fit together with movies about World War 2. Because, the way I see it, you can either make fun of the Nazis in a comedic way, then you take a page out of The Producers or use comedy to accentuate the drama, then use the Life is Beautiful approach, or do it in a completely dramatic way, then do it like Schindler's List. Don't just show a concentration camp or the horrors of war and then show Captain America in his silly tights saving the day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Power/Rangers, Tone, and Storytelling

First of all, go watch this short film. It's by the people responsible for Punisher Dirty Laundry and it stars Katee Sackhoff as a Power Ranger. What's not to like? 

Second, let's talk about the reaction from viewers, shall we? Particularly the people on the Escapist aka the site I only go to for new Zero Punctuation otherwise. Read some of these comments, it's okay, I wait. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Walking Dead Season 2 "All That Remains" First Impressions

So I finished Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1 and so far I like it better than last seasons' Episode 4 and 5, but I'm not sure it reached the quality standard of the first three episodes. 

The story is really good, the characters are the usual mix of flawed assholes that are still quite interesting. And Clementine is still Clementine, meaning she is still awesome as hell.

Only problem I see so far is that I haven't really felt as invested as before, nor has the game play wowed me, nor have the jump scares worked. I feel like the game tried to play the same tricks as last time but those could only be played once. Still a really good game though and already better than anything the TV show put out in its second season.

Still, one down, four to go...

Friday, February 20, 2015

On To The Moon, Total Recall, and Reality

I finally took out the time to finish To the Moon, a faux 8bit indie game from a few years ago, in which a team of scientists fulfill dying people's wishes by going into their minds and changing stuff. Sound familiar? Yes, the game does remind you of Total Recall, right?