Comics

The Extended Iron Man 3 Superbowl Trailer

If you were too busy watching the Baltimore fight its way to victory against San Francisco to go to the facebooks and look up the extended Iron Man 3 trailer, here it is in all it’s sassy glory.  We get some new clips mixed in with things we’ve seen in previous trailers.  Nothing terribly revealing, but as I suspected, the more I see the new suit in action, the more I like it.  And I still think the Mandarin’s rings look like low budget, Cracker Jack toys.  Blech.

The Killing Joke

Even though his methods lie outside the law, Batman’s “no kill” policy makes him an easy ally to Gotham’s police force.  In a city gone mad, he refuses to give in to the chaos.  But when it comes to a psychopath like Joker, is it really ethical for Batman to let him live?

Arkham Asylum must have some revolving door policy that Batman must not know about.  Joker always gets out to kill again.  Batman has to know this.  He’s a fucking detective for shit’s sake!  He’s got to notice that Arkham’s walls don’t hold Joker and Arkham’s rehabilitation program doesn’t fucking work.  It’s clear that Batman doesn’t believe the law can’t do its job.  Otherwise, he’d let the Gotham PD chase the freaks while he sits at home sipping tea.  Why he would trust them to keep Joker in jail is beyond me.  By letting Joker live, Batman is perpetuating a cycle of murder.

Of course from a straight up practical sense, should Batman kill anyone, he ceases to be an asset to the Gotham DP.  They can’t have a killer on their somewhat unorthodox roster of costumed vigilantes.  But being a clever boy, I’m sure Bats could figure out a way to end Joker’s life without doing the deed directly.

It’s possible that Batman thinks he can save the Joker, that somehow the Joker will turn over a new leaf or learn the error of his ways or something.  But if that’s the case, Batman does jack all to see it through.  No hospital visits, no hiring of expert psychologists with that Wayne money, no payment for experimental medication to calm Joker’s madness.  Just some chrome bracelets and a padded cell.

Should Batman end Joker or let him live knowing that he’ll eventually escape to kill again?

The Man of Steely Beard

I suspect that seeing this trailer in the theater would give me all sorts of nerd chills. I definitely like the internal struggle that’s being set up here. It’s chilling when you hear a young a Clark ask if he should have let his classmates die and Jonathan Kent replies, “Maybe.” Pre-Crisis, pre Zero Hour, pre New 52 Pa Kent would have unequivocally have said, “Yes” and maybe have punctuated it with “because ‘Merica!” But this isn’t the bright and shiny super boy scout of our younger years.

While that certainly makes for a more mature Superman film than I would have ever expected, there’s something missing. Superman is essentially goodness incarnate. He saves us from the alien scourges and still has time to get cats out of trees for the kiddies. He is the embodiment of hope and light. We get none of that hope or light from this trailer. It’s actually quite depressing. And it’s not just the subject matter. They’ve sucked out all the color and painted the piece in swaths of dirty grays. I understand that Warner Bros is trying to tie this in with their Dark Knight franchise somehow, but Smallville and Metropolis should not feel like Gotham.

Still, it looks quite good. Hell, I didn’t even mind the really annoying texture of the suit. And it looks worlds better than Returns. Will this be the non-Bat flick that establishes a DC movieverse to compete with Marvel’s movieverse? Or will it be too serious and dark that it will fold in on itself due to the weight of its self importance?

Is This Man of Steel Poster a Metaphor For Expectations?

Here’s the latest post for Man of Steel, the Superman reboot. It probably goes without saying that anyone doing a Superman movie will have tremendous pressure put upon them by Warner Bros, DC Comics, and the fans. I imagine that anyone working on the production would feel terribly confined by all the pressure coming from the various factions that have an interest in the film. Of course, you have to answer to the studio because they’re the ones funding it. But you also don’t want to disappoint the fans because they’re the ones who can make or break the movie at the box office. There are so many forces pushing and pulling at you with such a high profile project that I can easily imagine the production feeling trapped, chained if you will, by all these external factors. Could this feeling have subconsciously factored in the design for this poster?

I guess the bigger question is, does this make you want to see the film? Certainly, seeing Supes in handcuffs is provocative. Who can chain the Man of Steel? Are those handcuffs made of Kryptonite? Is he willingly giving himself up because he did something unforgivable? So many questions. But are they compelling enough to make you want to see the movie?

On the Whole “Nerd Girl” Thing

I’m pretty dismayed that in the new damn millennium, the term “NERD” is gendered. Nerd. Geek. Gamer. Otaku. If you’ve attended a comic con or anime con or gaming con any time in the past ten years, it’s empirically observable that these terms apply to people of all genders. Yet there are those in the new damn millennium who feel that these terms are reserved for men. SMBC Theater has a sketch that accurately portrays this nerd-shaming phenomenon.

Sadly, this satirical sketch isn’t too far from the truth. Two recent incidents in the comics nerdosphere highlight the so-called “Nerd Girl Thing.” Comics web journalist Dirk Manning shared a meme on his facebook page that says “Dear girls who take pictures in slutty clothes & glasses & label the caption ‘nerd lol’ You’re not a nerd; you’re a whore who found glasses.” Dirk clarifies that he didn’t intend to call anyone a whore. He agreed with the sentiment and he objected to women objectifying themselves to pander “to what they see as the lowest common denominator of the social hierarchy (‘nerds’) in desperate bids for attention.” Ugh, it hurts to even copy and paste that.

In a similar vein, comic artist Tony Harris called out cosplayers who dress up for attention from nerds but don’t know a thing about the characters they are portraying. His facebook post is pretty long and pretty angry.

Checking my “Give a Shit” stat.

Oh… I don’t give a shit!

From time immemorial, nerds have been the social outcasts of the playground. Long taunted by jocks, cheerleaders, and even the band kids, nerds have been shunned by almost every strata of the pre-college hierarchy. We know what it feels like to be bullied, to be picked on, to be shamed. And now that nerdom is becoming mainstream and attracting non-outcasts, now we turn around and do the same?

Grow. The fuck. Up.

I don’t understand why you would want to keep awesome things to yourself. Awesome, nerdy things must be shared if we want more awesome nerdy things. We wouldn’t have awesome comic book movies if non-nerds didn’t buy tickets.

To me, beyond comics or toys or Kamen Rider, at its core Nerdom is about acceptance. Accepting who you are and not measuring or judging yourself by other’s so called standards is the very essence of Nerdom. And in turn, accepting others for who they are or choose to be is all a part of that. Why do you give a shit if a girl where’s a costume because she thinks its awesome yet has no idea who the character is? At least she’s comfortable enough with herself to go out in the world dressed in something fucking rad. That’s nerd to me.

To anyone who’s ever been accused of being a poseur by a butthurt nerd, you can hang out with the rest of us. Those dudes think their lawn is shrinking. The rest of us recognize that nerdom grows stronger with more of us so come on in and join the party!

Walking With Master Hare — Behind the Scenes With Shattered

Master Hare

I inherited my love of comics from my dad. He was a huge Marvel fan and when my brother and I found his old collection of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Thor comics, we were hooked. It never really occurred to me as I was growing up, but as I was about college age, I noticed that my favorite comics lacked heroes that looked like me. Though many of my favorite titles were drawn by Asian artists, there were hardly any Asian heroes in the pages. I was pretty disappointed, but the revelation didn’t put me off comics. In fact, I expanded the types of comics I collected because the super hero genre just wasn’t holding up.

I figured that this was going to the be the state of things. Then a few years ago, I heard about an anthology that would feature Asian American super heroes, Secret Identities: The Asian American Super Hero Anthology.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I ordered a copy of Secret Identities and waited with great anticipation. Would this be the Asian American equivalent of the Milestone Universe, a super hero universe featuring Black super heroes created in the early 90s. Would this anthology encourage the big two to feature more Asian American heroes? I conjured all sorts of hopeful maybes.

It arrived at my doorstep and I tore into the packaging like a mad wolverine to get to its contents. I couldn’t wait to read about super heroes that looked like me. But as I turned the pages, I felt my brow furrow. These weren’t hopeful stories of heroes doing super human deeds. These were angry stories that sought to punish the White Man for years of oppression.

To be fair, not every story came from a place of anger. But the overall vibe of the collection was so angry and bitter that I hid the thing in a dark place on my shelf. I couldn’t recommend this to my non-Asian friends for fear that they’d feel like they were being attacked. I mean, I’m a pretty angry and bitter person in general, but even I felt put off by the overall tone.

These weren’t the heroes I was looking for. These weren’t the stories I had been waiting for.

A Second Glance

Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant when the Secret Identities crew contacted me earlier this year to contribute to their second anthology, Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology. I nearly declined, but I felt that maybe I’d have an opportunity to be part of the solution, to tell a story that featured Asian characters that wasn’t bitter or angry. After some soul searching, I agreed.

I was sent a few scripts to consider and already, my fears were put to rest. These were the kind of stories that I had been looking for. The one that spoke to me the most was Howard Wong’s Master Tortoise and Master Hare. As you might guess, it’s a retelling of the classic Tortoise and Hare fable set in ancient China.

One of my biggest concerns was creating a unique look for Master Hare. To me, the definitive long-eared action hero is Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. I was afraid that my love for Stan and Usagi would creep into my Master Hare. I hid all my Usagi books and my Stan Sakai sketchbooks and collected screen shots of Kung Fu villains and photos of hares.

With Master Hare somewhat settled, I went on to design Master Tortoise. Again, I had to push out childhood favorites out of my mind. I drew a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it first hit the airwaves in the late 80’s. Their head shapes, body contours, hands are all second nature to my drawing hand. I can TMNT with the best of them. So I made a concerted effort to lean on my reference photos of actual tortoises. Even so, you can see the TMNT influence in Master Tortoise’s limbs.

I had an absolute blast drawing the story and playing with these characters. I was pretty pleased with the work and couldn’t wait to see how it fit into the rest of the anthology.

Shattered, A Triumph

I was absolutely elated when I read through the preview copy of Shattered that we creators were sent. This anthology is exactly what I had been looking for. Rather than spending time trying to shame the White Man for years of oppression, this collection concentrates on telling good stories that feature Asian leads. This is a comic I would be proud to share with absolutely everyone I know.

It’s a much more subtle statement than the first collection. It’s not trying to shame you for ignoring the plight of Asians in America. It’s telling good stories that are universal in relate-ability and proving that you can do so while featuring minority leads. It’s a powerful statement and one of the reasons I think this is such an important work.

Shattered is on shelves now. If you’re in the DC area and haven’t yet picked up a copy, you can come on down to Busboys and Poets on Monday from 6:30pm to 8:00pm for a signing. I suggest grabbing food at Chinatown Express before to stuff your face full of dumpling and noodle goodness.

And if you’d like to hear from some of the other contributors, here’s a list of us who have blogged about our experiences:

Axe Cop Trick-or-Treats Alone

Next summer, Axe Cop will be headed to the small screen on Fox’s ADHD Animation block. Today, we get a preview of what that might look like. Here’s Axe Cop answering little Timmy’s question about Halloween.

And yes, that’s Nick Fucking Offerman as the voice of Axe Cop. I will now forever see Ron Swanson as Axe Cop’s disguise.

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