So I don’t hate the Hunger Games story line. The concept, while not particularly original or new, is still a fun and action packed franchise both on screen and in the books. With the Hunger Games: The Mocking Jay Part 1 having been released just this past weekend, there’s a buzz about it with people who both loved and hated it. I haven’t been able to see it yet, but I’m sure I will within the not too distant future. But, in all honesty, while I can appreciate why so many go crazy over it and still enjoy the experience, the Hunger Games franchise isn’t one I really care that much about.

Just this morning I ran across a youtube channel, GakAttack, and found an amazing fan film that combined many famous weapons from all different sorts of stories; The Avengers arsenal, Light Saber wielding competitors, with a few anime and video game weaponry sneaking in there as well. (Can you spot the Super Smash Brothers shout out?) After seeing this video, I can say without a doubt that I would get WAY MORE excited about the Hunger Games if it was done as a mega awesome fan fiction instead.

That’s all, just wanted to have a little fun. Enjoy!

JL8 #69

JL8 #69

So I’ve known about JL8 for sometime now, but I never actually read the weekly comic strip. I decided I needed to hop on the bandwagon and see what every other fellow geek is going crazy over. Turns out, Yale Stewart’s weekly comic strip is even BETTER than I anticipated. He takes DC’s top heroes and tells tales of their 8 year old selves – but decked out in the popular costumes we all known and love. He keeps up to date with the latest trends of DC Comics as well as taking the problems of the common kindergartener and merges the two together.

I just finished reading strips #69 – 74, and I had the biggest nerdgasm of my life! It began with an assumption that I was sure was incorrect when I read strip #70. I thought the book store owner looked familiar, but it HAD to be a coincidence…right?

JL8 #70

JL8 #70

But as I got closer to the big reveal by strip #74, I began to wonder if this book store owner truly was who I thought he was – with his talk about the love of stories, how fantastically nice he was and patiently conversational, The revelation of who baby Superman and Batman were speaking to blew my mind. Now I’m, without a doubt, hooked!

By all means, continue reading below. And be sure to stop by the JL8 Tumblr and read more of the joyous FREE comic strip that Yale Stewart updates every week.

JL8 #71

JL8 #71

JL8 #72

JL8 #72

JL8 #73

JL8 #73

JL8 #74

JL8 #74

 

The best part about social networking sites are the random gems you run into that you never would have thought existed in the first. Sometimes those gems make you laugh REALLY hard, but sometimes they make you stop in shock and awe. I’m sure Mr. Wonder got paid a good chunk of change for this, but man, this seems a bit TOO heavy handed. Oh well, I guess this came out when video games were struggling with their popularity.

stevie wonder atari ad

A quote from Kevin Smith, retooled into a comic strip that’s 100% true! Zen Pencils creates truly inspiring cartoon strips that are amazing and have more positive and moralistic storytelling then most 600 pages novels do. This latest strip shows how encouraging young artists is the best thing you can do. Sure, you need to make sure they understand reality, but you should never put up walls for a child’s ability to create! Thank you Zen Pencils!

2014-10-24-kevinsmith

Superhero movies have been the hot thing ever since I was in middle school and X-Men came out. They’re my guilty pleasure that I don’t feel that guilty about enjoying really. People love them. I love them! And I have a sneaking suspicion they will always be loved as long as comics continue to be written. However, as much as we love them, we shouldn’t deny that superhero movies – specifically the ones spotlighting the DC and Marvel heroes – have a formulaic persona. Using the cliche phrase “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” hits it right on the head with accuracy. The only difference between superhero films now versus 20 years ago is the better writing – how writers can take the same old campy troupes and wrap better dialog and plot progressions around them.

Let’s take this a step further though and think about what the superhero genre actually teaches, to tries to teach. Much of what you see in superhero films tend to take relatable concepts and turn them in end-of-the-world ordeals that sound good because people love angst. Why are Iron Man and Hulk fighting each other in the recently released Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer? I’m sure we’ll figure that out in more detail once the movie comes out – but really, we can figure this out just by seeing the trailer can’t we? Hulk and Iron Man duking it out. That’s EPIC! That’s more than epic, that’s a “versus” fight all us fanboys want to see! I’m sure there will be reasons for the fight – not just between the playboy and the green meanie, but also with the God of thunder and other characters on the Avenger’s team. They did this in the previous film. Did they not learn their lesson and find out that working as a team is better than not? Of course they did. But this is the superhero genre. This is the traditional way superhero stories figure things out. Don’t talk about your issues. Just punch, or shoot, or throw the guy to the other side of the planet. THAT’S how you solve problems right?

I absolutely LOVE the Dark Knight, the older Superman films, Man of Steel, Punisher, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Captain America, the list goes on. But as far as using Superhero films and comics to teach real concerns, I would argue no. Physically fighting to defend yourself is, unfortunately, a reality that we can’t deny has to happen from time to time, but it isn’t something we do everyday of our lives. Physical altercations, however, are the ONLY thing Superheroes do. It’s one of the reasons we love superhero films – it’s action packed! But this isn’t reality, and the film makers don’t want to attempt at approaching REAL concerns spread throughout the world. No one wants to see Superman or Wolverine being civil with their enemies. We want heat vision blazing and claws a-slashing!

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is important to recognize it as a troupe naturally associated of the genre. While the real world says “talk out your issues,” the superhero movies say “HULK SMASH!” It’s a Hell of a lot of fun, but no one should be blinded by the notion that anything “wholesome” truly exists within superhero storylines.

The Avengers is a great flick. But it boils down to a story about an army of evil outsiders invading the world and only a handful of righteous asskickers being capable of stopping them. As escapism, it works. As character studies and thrilling adventure, it works. As a format designed to showcase a bunch of cool superheroes with amazing powers in cool fights, it works.

As a great way of dealing with real world problems, well, that’s a bit of a stretch.

Someone hates Batman. Big news right? It happens all the time – when a fictional goes viral, and seems to flood our social media networks with news and gossip, people begin to hate on that character. Here’s John Green, from the Vlogbrothers youtube page, opinion of the Dark Knight…

Not that John wants or needs my validation, but it’s perfectly fine if John wants to hate Batman. More power to him if he wants to send that hate out virally in a youtube video. He’s popular enough that anything he puts out there people will watch and enjoy. (he makes good videos.)

It’s hard for me to know how savvy John is when it comes to comics. Did he grow up reading them or watching the cartoons? Did he follow the comics religiously, or was it more casual? Or is he simply someone who knows only wants been portrayed in the films? Either way, there’s a very obvious hole (or many holes) in his argument about why he hates Batman, and all of it seems to be stemming from what’s been portrayed in popular media.

There does exist, within the Wayne Foundation, a side that’s heavily devoted to ensuring Gotham has what it needs to survive. This is a very prominent thing that’s explain within the comic world. Wayne Enterprises gives money, and lots of it, to certain causes – ones that maintain structures and roadways as well as bettering the longevity and health of the Earth. It’s also one of the main sources of financing the reconstruction of property damages due to Batman’s altercations with bad guys within Gotham’s borders. Wayne Enterprises also donates thousands of dollars towards charities that are trying to wipe out poverty, find cures for terrible diseases, and keep the Earth growing and green.

Now he’s not wrong that Bruce Wayne uses a significant portion of his company’s money towards funding his Bat-stuff, but it’s one of the reasons Batman’s adventures are so much fun. His assertion that we celebrate vigilantism is also a legitimate argument that I won’t refute in the least. We’ve done this for years. A male who saves lives under a mask and cape – it’s a common theme that’s been in the repertoire of American storytelling for a long time. Batman’s simply keeping with that tradition.

Of course, none of this really matters. It’s fun to debate comic-related stuff and I applaud John Green’s efforts in keeping the popularity of Batman alive and kicking!

marvel-dc-marvel-vs-dc

There’s always a huge debate amongst comic book fans about who’s better – Marvel Comics or DC Comics. Of course I’m biased being a DC reader, and my Marvel fandom only stems as far as watching the movies and some cartoon shows. This debate amongst fans tends to be elitist and baseless since, if you get down to it, most arguments center around things that each publishing company has despite what the nerd rage claims. The major differences between the two exist in on a thematic scale – DC delving into more mythologically based arcs, and Marvel sticking to the more scientific – which, in-and-of themselves, doesn’t make one better than the other.

Recently one of my favorite authors, A Lee Martinez, gave his opinion on some the current and past trends between the two power house comic book companies, and gave his two cents on what makes them significantly different.

DC has struggled for decades with something akin to an inferiority complex. Ever since Marvel rose to the top of the heap via the gimmick of being more mature and darker, DC has always been readily dismissed as the less sophisticated of the two.

It’s nonsense, but it is perceived as truth by the general public, the comic reading public, and sadly, even DC management itself. A lot of this is simply preconceived notions, insurmountable in their own way. Trying to convince someone to change their mind on an accepted “truth” is all but impossible.

(As a “fluffy, comedic writer”, I’ve experienced this prefabricated opinion often enough to know.)

So DC has gone darker and more gruesome than pretty much anything in Marvel. Seriously, there must be more mutilations, torture scenes, and general unpleasantness in DC than the average person would ever know. It’s something of a running gag in DC that arms get severed and a grimacing “Aquaman is grimdark!” aura is everpresent.

It doesn’t stop in comics. While Marvel has created a universe of varied characters and motion pictures, DC has elected to make everyone Batman. I suppose I can’t blame them. Most people hated Green Lantern (I liked it, but I’m the odd man out), and Nolan’s “realistic” Batman films (chortle, chortle) are considered awesome. (The Dark Knight is my contender for most overrated movie ever. Not just superhero, either.) Man of Steel received very mixed reactions, but in the end, sad Superman got people into the theaters.

But there’s even more at work here. Both Marvel and DC are obsessed with their glory days. The difference is that DC is stuck there. I’m not against a dark Batman vs. Superman movie. I’m against one based on a thirty year old story that was a bit ridiculous when it first came out and hasn’t aged particularly well.

The problem will always be that no matter how gruesome or dark DC tries to be, it’ll always be perceived as inferior. Marvel could release a Rocket Raccoon / Howard the Duck movie and probably get away with it. DC could drown the Justice League in blood and tragedy, and everyone would still be making jokes about how lame Aquaman is and debating on whether Wonder Woman should wear pants.

In any case, I think the heart of the problem is found in the management. Marvel has its problems, but it is free to experiment, to explore, and to take chances. It’s built up a ton of goodwill and shown non-superhero fans how wide-ranging the superhero genre can be. DC will always be perceived as runner up.

DC can’t be itself, and it can’t be Marvel. And there’s really nothing they can do about it.

So, a very interesting point of view, for sure. One I tend to agree with. What about you, faithful comic book readers? What do you think of Martinez’s thoughts on the subject?