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Thread: Comics

  1. #41
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    Vertigo is coming back apparently...ugh can they go back to having Constantine go back to his regular # then?

  2. #42
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    Been quiet in here for a while, so I guess no one will mind if I hijack this a bit....

    Basically, I know next to nothing about comics, graphic novels, all that stuff, but I've got a professional interest in trying to understand it all a bit more, and how it fits into wider American culture. So if anyone is into this stuff and is willing to talk my through it at a massively introductory level, I'd appreciate the crash course. And when I say introductory, i mean as basic as you can get. I know a little bit, like I can name a few heroes and few of the more prominent villains and the like, but anything that requires any kind of specialist knowledge is beyond me. And I want to understand this stuff a bit more and to get why it's had the enduring place that it has in American, and more recently global culture.

  3. #43
    I've been a comic nerd since I was a kid. I still read them today, and have quite a collection of comic art on my walls at home. It's pretty hard to explain the fascination honestly, but I've always been a fan of the larger than life heroes that fight villains, in all simplicity. There are two major publishers of course, Marvel and DC. Marvel is your Avengers, Spider-Man, Captain America and DC is your Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman. I'm not a fan of one over the other as I read some of both. My favorite hero of all time is Green Lantern, who uses willpower through a Power Ring to generate constructs and police the universe. There are hundreds of them actually, a whole Corps. He's a DC guy.

    However my favorite character of all time is Jean Grey, or Marvel Girl, or Phoenix, or Dark Phoenix depending when you're reading. She's a mutant, an X-Man but got corrupted by an ancient power greater than she could control. It's a fascinating tale from one of my favorite stretches of comics of all time, X-Men 129-137. I think comics appeal to people, as well as the adjoining movies, because they're an escape to something that is somewhat unfathomable. To comics nerds, they're something we never thought would hit the big screen.

    It's just fun.

  4. #44
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    I get the escapism/fun part of it - I'm interested in the sort of things that the stories tap into. Things like the use of willpower by the Green Lantern. I mean, I knew about the ring, but I didn't know that was how it works and that's quite interesting to me. It's that kind of stuff I'd like to know more about - how individual characters work, what the key points of their history are, do they change over time in relation to production stuff, how they factor into things like different series of the same character and ideas like 'multiverse'.

    Basically, once you go beyond the names Marvel and D.C. and just listing a bunch of characters, then unless it's widely known in pop culture (Kryptonite levels of obviousness) I want to understand it all better. I think it'll make me better at my day job if I have a sense of where this all fits in with the other stuff I have to know about.

    I'm also interested in the idea of them being something you'd never think would hit the big screen. It's difficult for me to think of it in those terms because there were Superman and Batman movies before I was born, and the Michael Keaton Batman stuff came along by the time I was old enough to really get into watching movies. But I think I get where you're coming from - when you've got this strong connection to them you don't necessarily expect there to be enough mainstream appeal to for them to get the kind of validation that they have.

  5. #45
    OK, so let's delve deeper into the "Lantern" family. There are actually 7 different types of lanterns, based on the colors of the rainbow, and in their use, the emotional spectrum. Here's how it breaks down.

    Green- Willpower
    Yellow- Fear
    Red- Rage
    Blue- Hope
    Orange- Greed
    Violet- Love
    Indigo- Compassion

    There is also the White Lantern, who has the power to channel ALL of the emotional spectrum, and a Black Lantern who brings death.

    In their mythos, you have to be chosen worthy by the rings to wield the ring of a particular color, in essence being chosen based on your emotional output. The characters certainly do change over time for sure, and some of them tackle pretty heavy issues. The two newest Green Lanterns of the Earth Sector have some serious baggage. Jessica Cruz was a villain but overcame her evil side and was deemed worthy of wielding a Green Power Ring, however she's got a severe case of anxiety disorder and depression, never really thinking herself good enough. Simon Baz is of Arab descent and of course the character's skin color has played into many a storyline to date, especially in today's culture.

    Comics can be pretty deep if they choose to be, and never really shy away from social issues.

  6. #46
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    That's exactly the sort of thing I'm after, thanks Rob.

    Really interesting the way that they've mapped this onto the ROY G BIV scheme. So how do the different lanterns operate together? Do they work in some sort of hierarchy, or oppositions, or are they a bit more free than that? Is the Green Lantern the best because they are the star, thus presuambly emphasising willpower over the others, or is that a false conclusion to draw?

    I was familiar with the idea that comics could deal with social stuff just from my limited exposure to X-Men. Seems like that is always about something with real world parallels.

    Yeah, it might take me a little while to process stuff and think of an intelligent reply, but y'know, the more info you can give me like this, I'd be grateful.

  7. #47
    So the Red, Yellow and Orange lanterns have traditionally be bad. Rage/Fear/Greed, you get the idea. Interestingly there is only ONE Orange Lantern, because he's too greedy to share the power. Recently though the Green and Yellow Lanterns have started working together for good, in order to fight the next big bad that is coming their way. Green Lanterns are by default the MAIN Lanterns, the police force of the universe so to speak. Their power can be amplified however if near a Blue Lantern, as Hope and Willpower together are super strong. The Indigo Lanterns tend to keep to themselves, as they are compassionate, but at the same time stay solitary. Generally the bad powers work well together and the good work well together, each adding something a little extra to the other's power.

    Here's a pic of the Lanterns and some of the characters in them


  8. #48
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    It sounds like it's trying to do a similar job to a lot of 19th century books - there definitely sounds like there is a clear moral behind the whole hope/willpower combination. I notice, too, that this is very much a golden age creation and is DC, so is there much of a connection in tone (or even in the world) with DC heroes like Superman or Batman?

    Really great stuff, Rob. If you're willing, keep it coming.

  9. #49
    Always willing, love talking comics.

    Green Lantern has been around quite a long time. He was one of the original Justice League and is probably considered one of the top 5 DC heroes.

    So let's move onto another storyline. Recently, in Marvel comics, one of the most controversial storylines has been the revelation that Captain America, the pinnacle of American pride and the country's symbol of heroism, is actually an Agent of HYDRA, a villain organization firmly rooted in Nazi Germany. It caused quite the stir when Cap KILLED a fellow hero (C-List hero tho) then said "Hail Hydra" following it. It was so controversial that fans were clamoring for Marvel to issue an apology as there was such anger that they'd tie him into a former Nazi led organization. Well, as the story has played out, we found out that Cap has actually had his entire memory altered by Red Skull, his greatest villain, with the aid of something called the Cosmic Cube, a tool that can alter reality. The problem is, only the Skull know it, so to everyone else, Cap is a double agent, and is in the process of working towards a HYDRA takeover. The storyline played out for some time, and while I'm slightly behind in my reading it was a MAJOR event that crossed over into many comics, with other heroes actually SIDING with Cap.

    Again, dealing with some major issues.

  10. #50
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    That one was such a big deal even I heard of it. I doubtless didn't get all of the nuances of it but it is easy to see why it'd be provocative and timely. Is that story still running? I could actually be tempted to pick something up to take a look at that for myself.

  11. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    That one was such a big deal even I heard of it. I doubtless didn't get all of the nuances of it but it is easy to see why it'd be provocative and timely. Is that story still running? I could actually be tempted to pick something up to take a look at that for myself.
    I'm a little behind in my reading but I THINK it's wrapped up now.

    What else do you want to know about? I can do this all day.

  12. #52
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    I mean really its your choice, because I don't know enough to know what I'll find interesting, if that makes sense.

    One thing I'm curious about is that I know that comic book characters often have different iterations - Amazing Spiderman, Sensational Spiderman, that sort of thing. I know that sometimes the different iterations can have very different versions. I mean, I know enough about Batman to know that the Ivy Pepper I've just encountered on Gotham is going to be Poison Ivy, but that she's still going to be massively different to the Pamela Isley I'm familiar with.

    But you guys are also lumped in with us sci-fi nerds, where I know canon is everything, sometimes even to our own detriment. So I am interested in knowing more about how all that kind of stuff works.

    But y'know, you've had all hits so far, so feel free to just take this to places you think I'll find interesting.

  13. #53
    OK, cool. First let me tackle the issue of canon. Personally, I think it's kind of cool the way the movies and TV shows offer new twists on the original canon. Some of the different takes on the villains is quite cool. For example, in the Arrow TV show, Count Vertigo is basically a drug dealer, peddling a drug called Vertigo which causes the strange effects to its users, changing reality, etc. In the comics, he's actually developed those powers that do the same thing. The show made him a more street-level villain, all the while playing to the same effects. The film vs. print canon can be quite different and I think that's OK.

    When you talk about different "versions" of characters it can get quite complex. Both Marvel and DC have their own versions of multiverses; basically different versions of universes which can be traversed by various means. Recently, Marvel had a storyline where all the various earths were converging upon each other one by one, destroying each one until only one remained, and various versions of characters from other Earth's ended up on ours. DC has had similar storylines with Crisis on Infinite Earths, etc. It allows them to expand and condense their characters basically at will.

    In terms of Spider-Man, who you brought up, Marvel currently has two "Spider-Men", Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Miles is a black kid from an alternate Earth who took over when that Earth's Peter Parker died. There's also a Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Spider-Gwen (an alternate Earth's Gwen Stacy who inherited spider powers), Silk, and various others floating around. They recently had a storyline where hunters were traveling the various Earths (before they went kablooey) and taking out all the "spider family." Spider-Man's lineage, which at first seemed quite individual, is actually tied to something called the Great Web, which ties all spider characters together. Now, with all things settled down, Miles still exists in tandem with Peter, who is actually now the head of a multi-national tech company called Parker Industries. Miles handles the local crime while Peter's Spider-Man has gone global.

  14. #54
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    Yeah, I had heard about the new Spiderman. And I remember that there was a bit of a backlash against it in the States too. This is the kind of thing I mean - people seem quite happy to go with the free-floating approach to stories but every so often you'll get people dig their heels in and say 'no, that isn't spiderman' or whatever. It's a bit strange to me - though I can see the appeal for writers of being able to essentially retool characters whenever you want. And I guess it also stops you having to come up with new characters all the time.

  15. #55
    Right, and here's the thing, right now Marvel and DC are kind of having to go back to what worked in the past because people didn't embrace (for the most part) the new.

    DC did something called The New 52, where they basically took all the characters back like 10 years and essentially retold their stories differently. In some cases, like Batman it worked OK, but in others it was a complete disaster. Superman became an obnoxious prick for one. Now, they've reset everything once again, which they tend to do every few years, with DC Rebirth, where Batman has realized that someone messed with time and cost all the heroes 10 years. That someone apparently is Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. That's another big thing they're doing as well. DC is bringing the Watchmen story into regular DC canon. That's something that's been met with much skepticism from fans because Watchmen is such a revered standalone story.

    On the Marvel side, they recently went younger and more ethnic with their heroes, and it has worked in some cases like Miles Morales, who eventually became quite popular as Spider-Man. Another hit has been the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, Marvel's first hero of Middle Eastern heritage. But in other cases it's been a bit of a disaster. The Hulk is essentially dead (I think) as Bruce Banner was killed during Civil War II, but Amadeus Cho, an Asian-American genius developed a way to transform himself into a Hulk at will. I don't dig that at all. Also, Tony Stark has apparently ceased to exist (somewhat) after Civil War II and a young African American girl named Riri basically created her own Iron Man armor and is now taken the reigns of the character. Add to that Thor now being a woman, and Marvel has now gone all PC. They seem to be re-setting too after the whole "Captain America goes crazy" storyline so who knows who or what will continue on after it all shakes out.

    I guess ultimately, for the most part, comic fans are pretty die-hard. They like the old canon and it's very difficult to change it. It can work, but it's tough

  16. #56
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    Having a Hulk that turns at will seems like a bad idea. Kind of intrigued by a female Thor though.

    Based on the last post, I think the next thing I want to ask about is Watchmen, because that's outside my knowledge base. I know there's a film but I never saw it.

  17. #57
    So Watchmen is pretty deep stuff actually. It's written by Alan Moore and is actually on a list as one of the top 100 NOVELS of all time. So basically, it's quality stuff, very highly thought of.

    It originally existed outside of the standard DC Universe, in its own little bubble. It's about a group of (anti)heroes called the Watchmen, and the story starts with the investigation into the murder of one of them, The Comedian. The story has a lot of layers, but really comes down to the tag-line "Who watches the Watchmen?" or who controls what heroes do. It's a very adult story, with themes of drug use, sexual assault, mental disease (one of the Watchmen, Rorshach is basically a psychopath), etc. These are powerful beings who can basically do anything they want, and in one instance one of them believes that.

    Recently as I mentioned, DC wants to bring the Watchmen into the DC Universe, a move that's been met with some trepidation. Alan Moore, the original writer wants nothing to do with DC anymore, as he felt his story should be left alone. The movie version is good, but it's unlike any other super-hero movie out there. It's not super action-packed, but a character study into the minds of heroes.

    It's great stuff.

  18. #58
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    Absolutely love Watchmen the graphic novel. The film was a mixed bag but the source material stands up to the test of time. Big fan of Alan Moore in general, especially From Hell and LXG, both of which got very shitty film adaptations that did them no justice. Also a fan of V For Vendetta, though it's one of the few cases where I actually prefer the film by a slim margin.

  19. #59
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    So I've found that they have some stuff at my local library. I've no idea why I didn't realise that they would have, probably my own biases. But yeah, thinking of checking some stuff out and having a look for myself. I notice they stock things called DC Chronicles with classic bits from some of the big names, which might be a good place to start.

    Interesting stuff on watchmen, thanks.

    What was useful about the Green Lantern stuff above was that it was good detail about someone big enough that I'd heard of them, but not so big that I was already familiar with some of the story. Like, everyone knows a bit about Batman, Superman, Spiderman, even X-Men, but Green Lantern is a name that I know but was no more than that. Anything you can hit me with at a similar kind of level?

  20. #60
    So Netflix has made Daredevil pretty popular again. How's that sound?

  21. #61
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    Yeah, that's the kind of thing. Have heard of it but no clue what it all means.

  22. #62
    OK, so let's talk Daredevil. This is a Marvel character and has gotten a lot of buzz coming from the Netflix show.

    Daredevil, real name Matt Murdock. He was blinded as a child after pushing someone out of the way of an oncoming truck carrying hazardous materials, which ended up on him. Because of that he lost his sight, but his other senses became heightened and he also gained something akin to a "radar sense" where he could basically see without seeing. His hearing is super strong as well, able to pick up conversations from some distance away. In real life, he's a lawyer and a strict Catholic, something that has been a large factor in his story for years. His father was a boxer, and was killed when he wouldn't throw a fight. So in your typical revenge story, Matt became Daredevil to seek vengeance. Outside of his heightened radar sense, he really doesn't have any super powers. Eventually he learned martial arts from a guy named Stick, a blind fighter.

    Daredevil is basically a street level hero, fighting out of Hell's Kitchen. His main enemies are The Hand, a secret group of Ninjas who operate all over the world; Kingpin, one of the top mob bosses in Marvel; and Bullseye, a hitman who never misses. Some would also say that one of his biggest enemies is himself, as he constantly struggles with his own demons, fighting the right thing to do vs. the Catholic thing to do. He spends a lot of time in confession, atoning for sins he thinks he's committed.

    His love life has had its up and downs for sure. One of his girlfriends, Karen Page, eventually got into drugs and porn and sold Daredevil's secret identity to the Kingpin for drug money. Another of his girlfriend was a Hand assassin named Elektra. She's died, a couple of times in fact, and their relationship is always clouded by her dark side as a trained killer. It's kind of like the Batman/Catwoman romance but somewhat darker in its tone.

    Over the years Daredevil's secret identity has been revealed to the world, and it caused Matt to be unable to practice law, but recently he was able to "make people forget" who he was with the help of the Purple Children, offspring of the Purple Man, another one of his villains who has the ability to control people's will and do whatever he tells them to. Over the years he's had children who he's used to make himself stronger, but the kids revolted against him and using the machine he created to control the will of everyone in the world, they repaid Daredevil by using it one time only before destroying it. They used it to make people forget Matt Murdock was Daredevil and to only remember if he wanted them to.

    So Matt's identity is safe again, but his life is no less complex.

  23. #63
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    Rob teaching Pete everything about comics has become one of my favorite things on this site.

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