Hate Speech? Anger Speech? Or just plain “I didn’t know that!” Speech?

tumblr_mpx0501anl1rhbebyo4_250Recently, at New York Comic Con, prolific author Peter David was asked a question about Romani representation in comics. As he explains on his own blog, the question triggered in him a memory of seeing a deformed child while visiting Romania, and being told that that child was deliberately deformed by the parents. By Peter’s own admission, the painful memory caused him to lose his temper with the questioner. He has apologized, and that apology I know was sincere, because I know Peter.

I’ve known Peter David for almost 30 years. We’re not best friends. We don’t call each other every week, or even make a point of having dinner when we’re at the same con. But we’ve done countless panels together, I’ve acted in plays he’s written, our families hang out together, and, more, we’re part of a very old network of Star Trek fans and creators whose number is shrinking. That’s a kind of family tie for a lot of us. Peter is a talented author, an opinionated curmudgeon, and an obviously loving and committed father and grandfather. The idea of a child being hurt clearly has a powerful impact on him.

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Exactly How Does Deadpool Change the Game?

This movie was billed as “a game-changer” by its star, Ryan Reynolds. The game is changing, he advances, because the recent spate of super-hero movies have been “serious and… gritty and dark,” and Deadpool is not.


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No Claws, No Bamfs, No Shatterstar – Marvel Masterworks X-Men Volume 4

This volume includes issues 32 – 42 of the original run of X-Men, published between July, 1967 and March, 1968. This span marks a transition from the X-Men as they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby—Students in matching yellow and black (or was it blue? It’s hard to tell in comics of that era) uniforms—to the four-color team made famous on down the line by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer.

X-Men 32 Cover showing original costumes

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Arachne Looms – The Essential Spider-Woman Volume One

Marvel_Spotlight_Vol_1_32I’d read about half of these adventures before. I still vividly recall the announcement on the Marvel Comic’s monthly “Bullpen Bulletins” page: Marvel was creating two new super-heroines to star in their own series. Now I love super-heroines, and did, perversely, when I was in elementary school and wasn’t supposed to. You know those boys who didn’t buy female action figures? Yeah, I wasn’t one of them.

The new characters weren’t exactly original. Ms. Marvel (who premiered in her own title cover-dated January, 1977) was a hot-pants-wearing version of Captain Marvel, with an oh-so-Seventies scarf. And Spider-Woman? She wasn’t pictured in the announcement (Ms. Marvel’s cover was), but she sounded like another knockoff. Still, I’ve never said a word against Supergirl, Batgirl, Mary Marvel or Hawkwoman, so… I of course picked up both premiere issues. Spider-Woman appeared a month after Ms. Marvel in Marvel Spotlight #32. That’s where this collection picks up. Continue reading

Age of Ultron – Vision Quest

vision_AOUSo my favorite Marvel film has been taking a pounding this week, from the usual nay-sayers who wanted it to be Batman, or who wanted it to be just the first one again (suggestion – watch the first one again!) I’ve heard Ultron called a generic villain, and read that Evan Peters was a better Quicksilver in Days of Future Past.

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Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk, Broken Windows and Broken Spines

tumblr_nm34rat0Gg1s99hguo1_1280Like everyone in Maryland, I’ve been watching the coverage of the Baltimore riots.

Like everyone who grew up on Marvel Comics, and a lot of people who didn’t, I’ve been watching and enjoying the hell out of the Netflix original series Daredevil.

Last night, while gathered with friends to watch Marvel’s Agents of Shield, we naturally discussed both topics. And the thought crystallized in my head that the two topics actually fit together very well.

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15 of Marvel’s Greatest Comics… Steve’s Perspective

So last week I took some well-deserved shots at Marvel’s self-serving list of their 75 greatest comics, comic storylines, and graphic novels, published in their 75th Anniversary Magazine. Supposedly, the list was voted on by fans. If that’s true, I’m very disappointed in what’s left of Marvel’s fans. Anyway, as promised, here’s my picks for 15 of Marvel’s greatest.

A few of these are just personal favorites. But largely, I feel they represent the building blocks of the Marvel Universe, the foundation of all that came later. The modern creators who dub themselves “architects” (when perhaps they should merely be called “remodelers”) stand on the shoulders of giants. Without these stories below, and many others like them, all the shocking character death, all the sudden moral reversals and changing of heroes to despicable villains, all the experimental water color art and all the boring nine-panel grids of the same two characters in the same positions with the same expressions, could never have seen the light of day. For their highly referential presence would refer back to nothing.

There is no order of importance here. They’re just chronological.

300px-X-Men_Vol_1_12X-Men 12-13 (7/65,9/65) “Who Can Stop the Juggernaut?” Okay, actually its first part was titled simply, “The Origin of Professor X.” Either way, it’s the scariest comic I’ve ever read. Cain Marko is not seen in his mutated form until the last few panels. Instead, like the Alien in Alien, he slowly stalks the mutants throughout the issue while Professor X explains his history and tells the teen heroes just how truly f____d they are. I kid you not, I had nightmares in fourth grade. Continue reading

The 75 Greatest Marvel Comics of All Time… “All Time” being relative…

300px-Marvel_75th_Anniversary_Magazine_Vol_1_1_TextlessRecently I happened to come across the Marvel 75th Anniversary Magazine. Reminiscent of “house” fanzines like FOOM or The Amazing World of DC Comics (but slicker and lacking their folksy charm), this all-color celebration of the company’s 75th birthday includes an interview with Marvel founder Stan Lee, a history of how a little company called Timely Comics ultimately became Disney’s Marvel Entertainment, and–disappointingly–a feature titled “The 75 Greatest Marvel Comics of All Time.” This includes cover shots representing, as promised, 75 individual issues, graphic novels or storylines from Marvel’s history. There’s an emblem on it, “Chosen by YOU!” Apparently, Marvel.com allowed its readers to vote.

Apparently, nearly all of Marvel.com’s readers began their comics-reading careers after 1990. The breakdown of time comics selected, by decade, goes like this:

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Review – Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Two in One Volume One

2in1-05Marvel Two-In-One. The title kinda says it all, doesn’t it? You buy this book, you’re getting two for the price of one. In this case, two super-heroes. On a smaller scale, it’s the logic that, in the 1940s, led National Comics and All-American Comics to create the Justice Society, or, later, DC Comics to create the Justice League. It’s like this: Some kid has only one dime, and doesn’t know if he wants to read The Flash or Green Lantern. Hey, kid, suppose you could get both for one thin dime? And a bunch of other characters besides? Wow! It’s like getting free super-heroes!

And of course, what you don’t say to the kid is that you hope he’ll get hooked on the “free” super-heroes, and, instead of one thin dime a week, start spending five or six dimes a week, so he can keep up with all those new characters he’s been introduced to. It’s the same principle by which drug dealers give away free crack. (I infer. Do drug-dealers give away free crack? I’ve never met a drug dealer. That I know of.)

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