In which apparently these assholes are real

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These are not the assholes to which I am referring.  I’m a big fan of one of them and I’m sure the other one is a perfectly nice person.

The news hit earlier this week: that Brian Michael Bendis had signed an exclusivity contract with DC Comics.  This news probably means precisely nothing to you unless you’re a fairly hardcore comics person; if you aren’t such a person feel free to skip this post entirely as it will hold little relevance to you.

For me, it was really Goddamned bad news.  Now, to be perfectly clear: I don’t begrudge Bendis a single dime of the no-doubt enormous check DC has written him for this; the man has the unquestioned right to do whatever he wants with his career.  He doesn’t have to ask me shit, and he doesn’t owe me anything.  But as Bendis has become, for me, the definitive Spider-Man writer over the seventeen years he’s been writing the character, and as he invented Miles Morales, who for me is now a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, and as he’s also currently writing both Jessica Jones, which I love, and Iron Man, who is my favorite comic book character of all time… well, the news that he wasn’t going to be writing any of those books anymore is insanely Goddamned depressing.  I’ve been reading Iron Man since I was nine.  He’s had a lot of writers during that time.  Jessica Jones is great but I can live without it.  But the idea that I won’t be able to read any more of Bendis writing Miles is deeply upsetting.

I mean, I’ll get over it.  I’m sure whatever he ends up doing at DC is going to be pretty awesome.  But… shit.


So anyway, I went to the comic shop on Wednesday, as I do.  And I (no doubt as 90% of his customers for the day had done) asked the owner (who, by the way, is the cover artist for Skylights) what he thought of the news, and we got into a brief conversation about it. Now, Casey pulls my books for me every week, and it’s literally his job to know the tastes of the various people who frequent his store, so he knows good and well I’m a fan.  And I’m reasonably sure he is as well.

This dude comes up behind me while we’re talking.  This isn’t unusual, mind you; I’m at the counter, so “behind me” is the place where other people who want comics will naturally end up.  And I hear him mumble under his breath:

“Yeah, maybe Marvel will finally start getting good again.”

I glance at him and don’t respond, opting to continue my conversation with Casey, who gets a very brief pained expression on his face and then also moves on.  I’ve seen this guy in the store plenty of times before, and as much as my physical appearance screams Comic Book Guy to most normals this guy has me beat by at least a few levels.  Anyway, we conclude– I’m not enough of a dick, and Casey is too much of a professional, for either of us to monopolize the counter when there are people waiting.

“See you next week,” I say, as I damn near always do, and I head for the door.  And then this guy starts in on Casey.

“Yeah, he’ll probably end up getting Justice League, and then he’ll make Batman gay, and Superman black, and who knows what else he’s going to ruin…”

…and it hits me.  Bendis is married to a black woman, right?  His kids are biracial.  He was pretty explicit that he created Miles Morales because he thinks (correctly) his kids need superheroes to look up to.  And not for nothing, the person running around in red and gold armor in the Marvel universe right now is a black teenage girl named Riri Williams:

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Holy shit.  This guy is one of those fuckers who thinks Marvel screwed up comic books by getting too much brown in them.  One of those stupid, stupid bastards.  Right here!  Right in front of me!  Trying to argue with me, in fact!  Or at least inflict his stupid opinion on the guy who owns the comic shop, somebody who by definition really can’t argue back, after making at least a halfassed attempt to insert himself into our conversation and being rebuffed.

Most of this is unfolding in my head as I’m walking to my car.  And I resist the urge to go back into the store and start some shit, because part of me thinks that this type of racist asshole needs to be made unwelcome everywhere he goes all the time forever and ever, but the rest of me really doesn’t want to start a row inside this guy’s comic shop.

That said?  Next time I see Casey, I’m asking him for permission.

I see movies

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You like movies, right?  Everybody likes movies.  You may have noticed that they made another movie about that Spider-Man dude recently.

Quick!  Guess if I saw it.

Of course I did.  And I’m pleased to report that I liked it quite a damn lot; I continue to be amazed that Marvel has cranked out something like ten thousand of these movies and I haven’t seen one I disliked yet.  It’s not the best superhero movie of the year– that title belongs to Wonder Woman still, but it’s a solid effort, especially when you consider that there have been like seventeen movies just about Spider-Man in the last fifteen years or so.

Highlights: Tom Holland, Tom Holland, Tom Holland, and Tom Holland.  Also Michael Keaton.  Actually, hell, let’s be honest here: I like the entire damn cast.  There’s just enough Robert Downey Jr– I didn’t want this to have as much Iron Man in it as, say, Civil War did– and he’s got enough screen time that it’s more than a cameo but not a lot more than a cameo, if you know what I mean.  Putting Peter Parker back in high school was the right move, and Tom Holland plays young more than well enough.  Michael Keaton as the Vulture (who, note, is never actually referred to by that name) is the best villain Marvel’s put on-screen since Loki, and I actually really like how low-stakes the film is for most of its runtime; it fits Spider-Man’s role as a street-level hero.  This movie gets the character’s soul completely right, and that’s really important.

One minor gripe: this guy?

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The character’s name is supposedly Ned?  And maybe he’s supposed to be Ned Leeds, although they don’t ever use his last name, and shouldn’t Ned Leeds be a lot older than Peter anyway?  And: nah.  Fuck that.  This isn’t Ned.  This is Ganke, dammit, and I want Miles Morales in a Marvel movie.  Donald Glover plays his uncle Aaron!  He’s out there, dammit!  Quit giving me his friends under weird pseudonyms and his relatives and give me Miles Morales!  

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I also saw this, finally.  You may remember my review of the book of The Girl With All the Gifts: I loved the hell out of it, and it ended up being my second favorite book of 2016.  I actually first heard of the book when I saw the trailer for the movie and it blew me away, and then I waited a year and a goddamn half and the damn movie either never came out in the States at all (I’ve been unable to get a solid answer on this, and believe me, I’ve looked) or got such a limited release that I was never anywhere near a theater that showed it.

Well, good news: Apple to the rescue!  I was able to rent the movie for 24 hours for just 99 cents, and if anything it’s even a bit creepier than the book was– and, remember, I loved the book.  You won’t be able to find this in theaters anywhere, but it’s absolutely worth hunting down if you have any way to stream it.  Read the book, too, while you’re at it.

#Review: WONDER WOMAN

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I meant to get this written a bit earlier, but this ended up being a much busier (or at least much more tiring) week than I’d originally anticipated.  Keep something in mind, though; this is my review after almost a week.  So this is after I’ve had time to think about the movie for a while and let it roll around in my head for a bit.

I’ll be direct: I’ve hated almost every DC movie released since 1989.  Nineteen eighty fucking nine.  The only reason for the “almost”?  I never saw Catwoman— because why the hell would you?– and I did not hate Suicide Squad, mostly because I didn’t care enough about any of the characters in the film to properly hate it and Harley Quinn was fun to watch.  I got home from Batman Returns way back in 1992 and ranted about it at such length and such volume to my parents that my neighbor actually came over and asked me to cut it out.  My parents live in a house.  The last several DC films have been so bad that I refuse to even admit that the characters they are supposedly about are even in the movies.  Man of Steel wasn’t about Superman.  Batman Begins was about some sort of sword-fighting ninja dude who isn’t a detective and doesn’t give a wet shit about human life, and by the time Alien Jesus v. Wing-Rat Psycho came around, he was literally branding criminals so they’d get killed in jail.  Fuck that.

That fuckin’ movie actually had the word Justice in the title.  Was there at any point any concern with justice anywhere in that movie?  Ever?  Nah, of course not.

Wonder Woman is probably the best superhero movie since Superman and Superman 2.

Why “probably”?  Because I’m not capable of watching Iron Man or Avengers with any sort of objectivity.  I need to watch Civil War again; when that came out, I called it the best Marvel movie; I’m not sure it’s held up to me as well as they have.  Wonder Woman is so much better than the rest of DC’s film product in the last thirty years that we shouldn’t even refer to it in the same category any longer.  It’s like saying that out of this giant pile of shit the carefully plastic-wrapped apple on top is the tastiest.  Of course it is; it’s the only fucking apple.

Proposal: that, from now on, the remainder of the DC murderverse films (and those not formally part of the murderverse as well, such as the execrable Superman Returns, which revealed him to be a deadbeat dat) be referred to as murples.  Only Wonder Woman gets to be a movie.

Damn near 500 words in, so I probably ought to get to the “why” part.  It actually isn’t all that complicated, so don’t blink or you’ll miss it:  Wonder Woman is actually a hero in this movie, who does heroic things and whose primary motivation is to save people.  The first time we see Diana in full Wonder Woman getup, she’s charging– against the advice of everyone around her— across No Man’s Land straight into rifles, mortars and machine guns to save a French village full of strangers who she has never met.  It’s an outstanding moment; the best in the film and one of the best superhero reveals I’ve ever seen.

Why is she doing that?  Because they’re there and they need help.

This, you see, is what superheroes do.  And what Wonder Woman gets right that literally no DC movies and not enough of the Marvel films have gotten right is that it remembers that its main character is supposed to be a superhero and so she acts like one.

There’s more, of course, but that’s the core of my love for this film and everything else is really window dressing.  Gal Gadot is phenomenal; I really wasn’t into the idea of her playing this character (I’m still on Team Gina Torres) but turns out I was at least as wrong about that as I was about Tom Holland playing Spider-Man.  The other standout from the movie is Robin Wright as Antiope and, while most of Lucy Davis’ lines were in the trailer, she steals every second that her Etta Candy is on the screen.  Chris Pine is exactly what he needs to be and no more.  And Elena Anaya as Dr. Maru is creepy as fuck in another role that doesn’t get a huge amount of screen time.  The opening bits on Themyscira are fantastic; I want to see more of all of that, Antiope in particular.  I mean, c’mon:

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(I have, in case it’s not clear, no serious complaints about the film.  About the closest I can get is that the CGI could be a bit better in parts.  But whatever.  Graphics barely even register to me anymore.)

A word about setting the film during World War I instead of World War II:  I think it was a brilliant idea.  Why?  Because Wonder Woman fights against the idea of war itself.  Her role is to be as an ambassador for peace before any other moral good.  And, much unlike WWII, World War I is a perfect examplar of the utter pointlessness of war.  It strikes me every time I read a history book about it: World War I was a war fought for nothing.  Literally nothing.  Not one person who died during that war died for anything.  And yet millions of people died horrible deaths and millions more were wounded.  It actually dilutes Wonder Woman’s anti-war message to put her into World War II, because fighting to stop fascism is actually a cause.  So as much as I’d like to see Wonder Woman punching some Nazis, I think it was a solid change to make to the story.

The big question, of course, is whether this means I’m going to have to see Justice League when it comes to theaters.  I’m still leaning toward no, as nothing I’ve seen from the film makes me think that the word justice is going to belong in the team’s name and there’s going to be more Alien Christ in it.  But the fact that Wonder Woman even got me to consider seeing Justice League?

If that’s not a solid reason to see the movie, I don’t know what possibly could be.