Tag: Disney

Brainiac On Banjo #058: The Writer That Devoured Cleveland!

“Kick ’em when they’re up / Kick ’em when they’re down / Kick ’em when they’re stiff / Kick ’em all around.”

-Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, Dirty Laundry

Popular culture is a living thing. It grows like amoebas on Viagra, constantly mutating into new life forms. This gives us an endless supply of new things and new people who create new things. Some of those folks last, others wish they didn’t take out that seven figure mortgage.

Brian Bendis was one of those new forces. He’s defied the odds — to say the least — by being on the comic writer’s A-list for, well, damn, over two decades. That’s quite a feat; but the fact that a dozen newer writers subsequently have joined that same A-list without pushing him off is nothing short of remarkable. He started out with the “independents,” went to Marvel, earned his way into getting screen credit for about a million movies and television shows while creating all sorts of cool characters, and then left the House of Mouse for Kryptonian pastures.

Anybody who can jilt Mickey like that deserves a guest shot on South Park.

I thought he had a slow start on the Man of Steel, but instead of annoying me (which is very easy to do), I was fascinated. He was taking risks and stepping on Superman’s cape — declining to adapt to overworked standards while working with the flow to scrape the barnacles off Superman. Watching that has been an interesting experience. Last week it all come together for this jaded reader.

Action Comics #1016 (whole number, 1016) is all about Superman’s losing his battle with a fairly new villain, the Red Cloud – not to be confused with either of the Red Tornadoes. The Daily Planet’s reporter / gossip columnist Trish Q is on the story, canvassing the neighborhood and interviewing those who saw the conflict. This is and of itself is pretty cool – as far as I can tell, the Daily Planet invented newsroom cutbacks 60 years ago by limiting Perry White’s on-panel staff to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, maybe Jimmy Olsen (who may or may not be the staff photographer who may or may not write stuff), and occasionally Steve Lombard and Cat Grant. Of course, lately Lois has been hiding in a very expensive Chicago hotel, doubtlessly searching for the world’s best Italian beef sammich like the rest of us. Trish is a very interesting character, and I hope she sticks around.

About two-thirds of the story is told through the comments made by Trish’s interview subjects. There’s nothing new about this storytelling technique, and it makes good use of Bendis’s gift for expository dialogue. But it is out-of-the-ordinary to tell the story of Superman’s defeat in battle in such a manner; writers usually focus on the flow of action with dramatic close-ups of the hero’s face being beaten to a pulp. In his “telling-through-interview” style, Brian is showing us the faith the citizenry has in the Man of Steel while avoiding the limp, overworked cliché of the masses turning on their champion for failing to defeat every evil that is foisted upon them.

In other words, this is a story about faith. It’s somewhat subtle, but faith is a subtle thing.

Bendis introduces his creation Naomi to the Justice League, creating another opportunity for him to play a bit with the world’s most psychotic costumed family jewel, the ubiquitous Batman. In the real world, such as it is, Bruce Wayne would be shackled to a wall in Arkham Asylum. In Bendis’s world, Batman is fleshed out a bit around the edges, giving purpose (legitimate or not) to his massive assholery. I’d read the story for this alone.

Much praise has been heaped on Brian Bendis over the past decades, and that, of course, makes him target for terminally obese trolls who dirty their own laundry. That’s how fame works. But if you think this guy didn’t earn his chops or that he’s past his prime, check out Action Comics #1016.

Special thanks to M.G. Krebs for the title to this week’s masterpiece. Brian Michael Bendis, like Jerry Siegel before him, is from Cleveland. To the best of my knowledge, neither are monsters… in the classical sense.

Brainiac On Banjo #050: Comics and the Cost of Doing Business

Brainiac On Banjo #050: Comics and the Cost of Doing Business

The price of a comic book jumped 267% during the 1970s, from 15 cents to 40. The pace slowed down by half between 2009 and 2018, from $2.99 to $3.99. It’s that last number I am going to discuss, and I’ll start with Stan Lee.

(For the record, price points differ between publishers and, sometimes, titles so the above reflects the “typical” Marvel/DC title. Your statistical analysis may vary.)

Back in the 1970s, Stan was making a signing appearance at my buddy Larry Charet’s iconic comic book store on Devon Avenue in Chicago. It was cool, as seeing Stan at a store back then was rare – so rare that it was long before people started charging for autographs and selfies. One fan asked the question “Why are comic books so expensive all of a sudden?” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #050: Comics and the Cost of Doing Business”

Brainiac On Banjo #040: Stream On, Big Media, Stream On…

Brainiac On Banjo #040: Stream On, Big Media, Stream On…

Frequent readers of Brainiac On Banjo (seriously; there must be something better for you to do) have been absorbing my incessant prattle about streaming media for a while now. Yeah, I think it’s important. Streaming is bringing about the biggest sea-change to the entertainment world since we dropped the atom bomb.

“Really?” you might ask. “Bigger than television? Bigger than VCRs/DVRs? Even bigger than microwave popcorn? Why?” Well, that’s a fair question, and thank you for asking.

It took television a while to become big. In constant dollars, tiny TV sets cost a lot of money, the image was low-resolution and often full of “ghost” images, and the youngest person in the room had to stand by the set holding the antenna in the proper position in order to watch anything. The sundry video recorders, mechanical and virtual, freed the viewer from a strict allegiance to the clock, and microwave popcorn saved Indiana from certain economic doom.

Steaming has taken time-control one step further: content creators no longer have to fight for a Donald Trump-sized handful of open slots on the broadcast networks. Cable television no longer is a monopoly unless it is your only source of wi-fi. It’s launched an employment boon for actors, producers, writers and other such entertainment reprobates. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #040: Stream On, Big Media, Stream On…”

James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 3 By Disney [Deadline]

James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 3 By Disney [Deadline]

Director James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy 3’ By Disney

Source: James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 3 By Disney | Deadline

 

Deadline is reporting that Gunn is back at the helm of GotG3! We here at PCS are stoked! Looks like Gunn will direct Suicide Squad 2 then get to work on the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Gunn was fired by Disney after old tweets that he’d already apologized for were dug up by alt-right “journalists” looking to weaponized Gunn’s words against him. Gunn quickly issued a renewed apology. The cast wrote an open letter of support and David Bautista went as far as to say he wouldn’t do the movie without Gunn.

Brainiac On Banjo #029: Comic Books? Still?

Brainiac On Banjo #029: Comic Books? Still?

Captain Marvel, the movie, sold nearly one-half billion dollars’ worth of tickets in its first few days worldwide – maybe a week in a few countries – so I’d like to take this opportunity to shout “Screw you, incels!” but that’s not my point this week.

My point is that with billions of dollars being spent making comic book based movies each year and with more comic book based teevee shows than you can count on all available appendages, if you want to enjoy the comic book experience you no longer need to buy a single comic book. Even if you’re selective about the movies and shows you see, even if you have a job, a relationship, kids, take time out to eat and go to the bathroom you do not have time to experience everything you’d like. As you might be aware, comic book publishing is a capitalist enterprise and without enough profitability the money people will start thinking “buggywhips.”

But you might say, without comic books there would be no fodder for comic book-based movies and teevee. If you do, I would say “Yeah? Prove it!” Very, very few such media shows were borne of recent comic book debut, and the rights to most of the established comic book properties – except GrimJack (hi, Ken!) – are well-secured. Disney and AT&T spent about a zillion dollars buying Marvel and DC Comics outright, and they didn’t do a reverse mortgage deal based upon publishing projections. There hasn’t been a real relationship between comic book sales and their media spin-offs for over a half-century.

So why pulp trees and waste oil to print, distribute and digitize comic books? Where’s the money? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #029: Comic Books? Still?”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #027: Three Wishes for Aladdin…

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #027: Three Wishes for Aladdin…

Image result for aladdinBy now we’ve all seen the “Extended first look” leaked out for Disney’s latest rehashed classic churned-and-burned into a CGI monstrosity, Aladdin. And far be it from me to bury the lead:

It looked almost palatable until Will Smith’s Genie farted out of the lamp.

The movie has a lot going for it on paper. Director Guy Ritchie — notable to nerds first for his Tarantino-by-way-of-the-UK Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch, and later for his turn on Downey-led Sherlock Holmes movies that weren’t half bad. The principle cast, Smith aside, is far less white than one might have feared in the day and age of actually casting things to be true to the source. Heck, even the teeny-tiny-tid-bits of scenery we’ve seen has been lavishly lit and detailed to-the-nines. And while I personally had not seen the The Jungle Book or Beauty and the Beast remakes… my wife and oldest kid have, and they said they were good. Maybe not “great” how my generation once recalled the original animated features mind you, but I’d wholly accept “good” for Aladdin, in part merely to match it’s CGI-siblings in the Hall of Unjustifiable Cash Grabs.

But then… hoo boy. The Genie.

Cooler heads in my social media feeds gently cooed to give it a chance, and denote we’ve not really even seen how things will look. The only taste of Big Willie was a mere 5 seconds of awkward half-introduction. And certainly we can’t extrapolate the quality of the final film from such a hot-take.

But, yes, we can.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #027: Three Wishes for Aladdin…”

Working Title #006: The Uncivil War

Working Title #006: The Uncivil War

“Fuck civility!”

Chuck Wendig, an author of (among other things) Star Wars novels and comics, was working on a Darth Vader miniseries for Marvel when his editor informed him he was fired. Wendig said it was “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring… It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”

It should be noted this is Wendig’s characterization. Marvel has not commented beyond confirming Wendig had been removed.

On October 6, Wendig tweeted: “There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do…Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil. . . Note: this isn’t the same as calling for violence. But it is suggesting that you should not be shamed for using vigorous, vulgar language. Or for standing up in disobedience. Or for demanding acknowledgement and action in whatever way you must. . . Fuck Trump. But he’s just the ugly fake-gold mask they’ve put on this thing. Fuck all the GOP, fuck that blubbering, bristling frat boy judge, fuck McConnell, Ryan, Grassley, Collins, every last one of them. Fuck them for how they’ve shamed victims and helped dismantle democracy. . . They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back. “

Basically, as some put it: ”Fuck civility.”  Continue reading “Working Title #006: The Uncivil War”

Working Title #001: Outrage for Outrageousness Sake

Working Title #001: Outrage for Outrageousness Sake

Intro: I’m the new kid around here and, at my age, it’s nice to a new kid anywhere. I’ve been a writer, primarily in comics, for some 30 odd years, some years odder than others. I used to do a weekly column elsewhere and the good people here at Pop Culture Squad has invited me to their sandbox to play in. I tend to go where my interests lead me so you may never know where I’ll head. If it’s any consolation, I don’t always know either. Let’s see where I went today.  Continue reading “Working Title #001: Outrage for Outrageousness Sake”

Brainiac On Banjo #007: Disney Bites Mickey’s Nose

Brainiac On Banjo #007: Disney Bites Mickey’s Nose

When I was a kid, about every couple of days my mother said to me “bite your nose to spite your face.” I’m sure she had her reasons. What happened at Disney reminded me of this phrase, as last month the Mouse House fired director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

In case you just got back from somewhere off-planet, Gunn was offed because he published a bunch of bad taste jokes on Twitter back in 2008 – that’s ten years ago, for those who lack sufficient digits. Of course, bad taste is in the mouth of the beholder, but even Gunn had second thoughts and he apologized for his sophistry quite some time ago. But those prone to outrage often find their vexation quickly calcified, and so they created a big stink. And by “some people,” I’m referring to the gaggle of giggling digerati reactionaries, including god’s gift to right-wing nutjobs, the Breithbart News Network. Evidently, they are offended that Gunn’s political values differ from theirs. Whatever.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #007: Disney Bites Mickey’s Nose”