Sunday, 14 June 2015

Are comic book movies too dependent on Batman/Iron Man?

Ok, so this has been a thought which has knocking about in my head for a few weeks but today, after reading a film magazine my wife bought me, I decided to get write it down and clear it from the mind.

And it's all about comic book movies (surprise, surprise)!!

So, I've started to wonder of late if DC and Marvels movies are too dependent on specific characters; namely Batman for DC and Iron Man for Marvel. This came about after leaks came about a weeks back that Batman would appear in Suicide Squad and, while I'm sure I'm just seeing an issue which doesn't exist, I do find it troubling. Here's why:


I think it's safe to assume by now that Batman is, without a doubt, the most successful comic book character to hit the big screen. The Dark Knight trilogy alone cemented this point on top of Burton's Batman films and, to a lesser extent, Batman Forever (Batman and Robin didn't help make this so) and so I can understand a view point that the Bat equals money.

However, the caped crusader will now be appearing in two films in 2016. The first is the Suicide Squad, about a team of supervillains doing dangerous government missions. I didn't see this coming when DC were setting up their film line up, but so, what I've seen looks promising. However, as I said, it was recently announced that Batman would make a small appearance and rumours have been that it was actually getting bigger and bigger. The question I have is 'why?' It's already bad enough that the Squads line up has four Batman villains (Joker and Killer Croc, both of whom have never been on the squad unless someone knows better, Harley Quinn and Deadshot, who was a Bat villain way back when), though this can be explained and understood. But to have Batman make anything more than a 'brief appearance' just smells of 'let's use Batman as brand recognition because this film on its own won't cut it'. A cynical view but there you go.

Meanwhile, while his appearance makes more sense in Batman vs Superman (I refuse to mention Dawn of Justice, that's a crap subtitle) due to his name being in the title, the trailer seemed to have a greater focus on him as the hero and Supes the villain, despite the fact this film was initially dubbed the Man of Steel sequel. Take a look at the trailer with this in mind and I'm sure people would go "wow, he's right!" (Though in fairness, looking at it again, I realise now that the argument could be inverted). this film is the worlds two biggest superheroes on the same screen, it's the film equivalent of fitting two elephants into a mini, so fact the trailer has been made to look this way just gives the impression that Batman is the draw when, in my mind, this film wouldn't have happened without Batman-less Man of Steel (which I thought was a good, if darkish, film).

Iron Man

Of course, while Marvel isn't exactly whiter than white in comparison considering Captain America 3 has Iron Man in it. Now I get this because in the comics Iron Man and Captain America fought (both figuratively and literally) during the Civil War and so both are needed. The thing is, while neither character was the bad guy during the comics storyline, this is a movie, which needs that yin and yan and because this is a Captain America film and so Cap is the hero, that makes Iron Man the villain, right?

And that's the thing for me here. Since the beginning of their little movie universe, Iron Man has been their number one guy, having three solo films and two Avengers appearances As well as a cameo in the Incredible Hulk. I don't see Marvel bosses condoning their top hero to appearance as a villain/antagonist and if he isn't going to be, then why use the Civil War storyline as the basis of a movie, unless it is simply to get him in the movie because 'he's RDJ as Iron Man, that'll draw the crowds in more than anything'.

Based on what I've already written, Marvel aren't as blatant as DC is when it comes to milking these characters, but they are still as guilty. At the end of the day what gets to me is that both Batman vs Superman and Captain America 3 are direct sequels to Man of Steel and Captain America: The Winter Soldier respectively, two (in my opinion) successful, well grossing films which did not include either Batman OR Iron Man.

I guess my point is, you don't need these characters to make good films Marvel and DC, so don't rely on them as much as you do.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Support Project Autumn, again!!

Approximately a week and a half ago I wrote a post asking the world (well, anyone that reads my stuff anyway) to support Project Autumn (see the post here).

Well, yesterday, I discovered that Adam-James Foulkes, the mastermind behind the project, had decided to call time on the Kickstarter late Friday. The reasons for this have been posted onto the Kickstarter page but Foulkes has emphasised that he doesn't consider it a failure but instead thinks of it as more a change in direction in order to fully bring his dream to life.

This change in direction consists of releasing the story in the form of an ongoing, single issue series, which will presumably see a different world within each installment (kinda like the Sliders TV show), each drawn by those previously announced different artists (that's not like Sliders).

Now, while I'm obviously disheartened that the original idea isn't going to work out, I have to admit that I'm glad to hear that the project will still come about. In fact, I truly believe that the change in release style will be much more beneficial to the story long term for a number of reasons.

First up is the production costs. Because of the size, a graphic novel often needs extra funding to be made. However, with the single issues format, the each issue will be much easier to produce as it'll be one at time. In fact, as the first issue will be very much pre-funded (as A-J told me when I asked), this'll mean the book doesn't need another Kickstarter to come to be, meaning the only thing to rely on fans for is to buy it.

And this is the second advantage. According to the Kickstarter page, issue one will only cost less than the whole book would have. This will mean that readers will be more inclined to buy that first issue and, should they like it, they will be enticed to return for issue two and beyond. I also think that if the first issue is a success, it gives Brambletyne the option to resurrect the GN Kickstarter, only now with a greater interest.

Of course, there are problems with the format, such as giving each issue enough to bring readers back next time as well as correctly utilising the multiple artists which the project originally boasted. Of course, However, from what is said, both on Kickstarter and by A-J himself to me, these are problems he's expecting and completely planned for in the story, which still gives me faith in the idea, enough to at least to want to see that first issue.

So, with that in mind, to the two (or is it three?) of you who read this, please give your support to this new incarnation of Project Autumn, though not because I need a copy on my shelves because I'll already be arranging that.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Review: Red Mask from Mars #1

I have to say, I feel a little guilty when it comes to creator Vince Hunt (@jesterdiablo) and his Red Mask from Mars comic book. I first met Vince and picked up his book at the Bristol Comic Expo in the spring of 2014 and he's a cool guy. Funny on Twitter and always willing to favourite stupid things I say (which, in itself is an achievement).

Therefore, with that in mind, I thought I'd give issue 1 a second read through and actually write down my thoughts on this book. So, now I have read it again and I've got to say, while I recall thinking it was funny the first time round, this time I thought it was much more hilarious.

While the story is a simple affair, main character is a man wearing an alien red mask which gives him superpowers that he uses to kill monsters, it's the writing that I really enjoy here. I remember first time thinking that Red Mask was too Deadpool for my taste but, upon a second read, I've realised that he is more closely and better compared to Hellboy with a hint of Deadpool. Hell, even the supporting cast feels Hellboyesque (and that isn't a problem for me). Of course it isn't Hellboy and the sharp wit and banter between characters is proof of that.

Then of course there's the art, which is what I feel most guilty about. I should have been shouting praise for the art from the roof tops years ago because of the inking, which is as sharp as the words being said. The colours give it some extra pop, but I'd read this book again and again in black and white, the art itself is that much of a draw. Of course, being a picky soul, I will point out that the lettering needs work with a few spelling mistakes scattered about, but hey, nobody's perfect right?

At the end of the day, I should have said what an enjoyable little read this book was years ago, but hopefully I'll be more on the ball if/when there's a second issue. In the meantime, though better late than never, It was a good book Vince, thank you for selling me it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

What happens if (or more likely when) Jessica Jones succeeds?

So, it’s become pretty apparent to me (and pretty much the rest of the world) that the Daredevil Netflix series was unequivocal success. I mean, in the last couple of months Season 2 has been fast tracked for the same time next year with news of Bullseye and Elektra being added and now, this week, Jon Bernthal has been cast to appear as the Punisher.


This is all awesome news because that season was absolutely freaking brilliant!!!


However, what has me concerned was that I read (somewhere) of Kevin Feige (Marvel’s movie big gun) stating that they were hoping to produce two to three of these Netflix series over the next few years. Now next year will see Daredevil’s second season, Luke Cage and Iron Fist with the Defenders and (presumably) Daredevil season 3 in 2017.


Ok, that’s cool, but here’s my question: What happens if Jessica Jones becomes as big a success as Daredevil?


You remember Jessica Jones right? Marvel’s second Netflix show which is due out in a few months? Now, while I was lukewarm about this series, mainly because I didn’t know the character, the quality of Daredevil has me more excited for it and if that’s the same train of thought for every fan who watched Daredevil then Jessica Jones (no longer with the a.k.a) is going to smash everything (maybe including Daredevil).


This is a good thing and yet I worry that when it does succeed what will become of a season 2?


Will it get fast tracked like Daredevil, being slotted for the following year? If so what happens to Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Defenders? Presumably they will be pushed further and further back, though I suspect (or it could be more hope) that won’t happen.


Maybe Marvel will decide to risk adding JJS2 to next year’s already massive roster. Now I have to say that watching four Marvel tv shows would be awesome (despite only a month being spent watching them in total), but I don’t think Marvel would do that as they always seem pretty set on sticking to plans.


So the more probable option (in my head anyway) is that JJ’s second season would be pushed to the end of the current plans, meaning a late 2017 return.


I have to say, that if it’s anything like Daredevil, that would seriously suck!!! I also think it would be a bad move as female superheroes are pretty thin on the ground at present when it comes to headlining their own projects and so holding it back after being successful would feel like a major back step for that.


Of course, this is all just an opinion at present. So maybe I should just not worry for now and look forward to the 13 episode goodness to come that is season 1.

Friday, 5 June 2015

I had an idea!!

Over the last couple of years, I've been blessed with the opportunities to meet and interact with some truly fantastic indie comic creators. As a result of these encounters, I've ended up reading a whole load of different books which I've dug.

Now, one of the benefits of reading these new types of books is that I get to dream up new wacky ideas and stories involving their worlds and characters. In fact, I recently came up with a really fun idea using the characters from seven different books created by many of those folks I've encountered and, after having a Twitter convo with some of them earlier today, I figured I'd write it down here and share it.

So, here's my idea......... get ready..............

I thought that a indie comic superhero team up book should be created (yes, I'd just watched Avengers 2 when I first had this idea) starring the following stars of indie comics I've come across:
Red Mask from Mars from the comic of the same name by Vince Hunt,
Joe Cape from his own comic of the same name by Sam Webster,
Kitty Hawk from the comic book Razorhawk by Ian Matthews and Dani Abram,
and The Midnight Man from the self titled book by Mo Ali and Andy Bloor.

These characters are all cool characters and share either a light tone or a quirky sense of humour. Also, between them they are two government agents who fight monsters, a member of a super-powered AA, and a time travelling Deadpool type so I think, together they have the skill set to fight something really massive.

And by massive I mean an invasion of the Sentient Zombie Space Pigs as created Lizzie and Conor Boyle of disconnected press.

The basic premise would be that when the zombie space pigs outbreak gets out of control, government agents Kitty Hawk and Red Mask are separately despatched to contain the trouble, while Joe Cape is called by large numbers of customers complaining of monsters. Eventually, they all come together along with the Midnight Man, who arrives after finding his way into a future full of zombie space pigs and travels back to stop it. The end of this story then becomes a standard Avengers like battle to save the world.

Finally, this story would include Little Easter eggs like a radio playing music by the Chunks (a funny comic by Matt Garvey and Cris Cianfialla) and a newspaper report about archaeologists finding Victorian aged Vespa parts as referencing A Heart of Time (an adorable story by Sarah Millman).

Obviously, these notes alone don't make a story and while I have some vague ideas to further this along, it still isn't enough. But also, these characters don't belong to me and so, if such a story should ever be made, it should be done by one of those creators.

So, here's my idea to you guys and girls to do with as you wish. What do you think?

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Support Project Autumn!!

So, I’ve already written one post this week and I had intended to write weekly so to pace myself and spread out my thoughts instead of hammering them all out and then going months with nothing to say. However, seeing as this topic is a time sensitive subject I figured to hell with pacing and simply get it out there.

And this time sensitive project is a Kickstarter project called Project Autumn and it needs you support!!!

Now, the story behind Project Autumn (which can probably be better explained on the Kickstarter page directly) is simple. Adam-James Foulkes, a comic book creator and writer of Far from Faith whom I met at True Believers earlier this year, has created this new title following an adventure which spans many different worlds/realities. However, what makes this different from any other comic that has a Kickstarter running is that Project Autumn doesn’t have one artist, but ten!! Each world which the story enters will be drawn by a different artist and their equally different styles.

The artists included are Emma Vieceli, Nich Angell, Lynne Triplett, Nikki Stu, Matt Dyson, Daniela 'iella' Attard, Ade Brown, Phil Buckenham, Davy Shirley and a tenth 'mystery' artist.

Now, to me, this is a fantastic concept which isn’t utilised anywhere near as much as it should be. While most books with differing artists are anthologies, each telling their own stories, single stories with multiple artists are a novelty and, when they do happen, they usually involve artists whose styles are similar otherwise the story is disrupted. Here, there are legitimate grounds to alternate between the drastically different aesthetics.

Also, the talent involved is some of the best in British Indie (in my opinion anyway)!!!

Then, of course, there is the writer, and driving force of this project. Having had an in depth discussion with A-J Foulkes when we met, he came across as someone with enthusiasm for comics which equal to mine, but far greater ambition and talent. He’s a smart guy and while I’ve had similar ideas to this in the past, he struck me as someone who could actually make something like this (and this idea did briefly come up when we spoke) a reality with ease.

And look at that, he did!!!

With just over half a month to go, this book needs help in becoming a reality. I’ve seen good books miss out before and I really hope it doesn’t happen here. So if anyone reads this (I know a couple of people do…for some reason), please click on this link and help put a great idea into my hands and give me some more good stuff to read.