Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top ten posts of May, 2016 -- A Month of Marvel and #SadPuppies

May 30
Fisking Hydra Cap
Yes, this one hit the top ten for the month over the course of a single day. Not bad, huh? It helps when people are really pissed off.

Monday, May 9, 2016
#RabidPuppies Bite Back: The SWATting of Moira Greyland
Is anyone really shocked about this one? I mean, these things are considered seriously funny. I have no idea why, but apparently everyone likes them.

So of course, number three is

May 16
#RabidPuppies Bite Back: Tingling Sensation
Yup.

May 15, 2016
The Catholic Geek: God, Robot, the panel 05/15
Well, when I have this many guests and big names, from Vox Day to the Wrights, if I didn't have a good turnout, something would be wrong.

May 3, 2016
On Moira Greyland and the Hugos
Yeah ... Moira Greyland seems to attract people to the blog. Maybe I should have her as a guest on my radio show.

May 1
The Catholic Geek: John C Wright's Iron Chamber of Memory
Again, It's JCW. Of course this will get hits.

May 23
Marvel after Civil War
Not bad, really. It's up for only a week, written three weeks after the film came out. I've seen worse.

May 24
The Dragon Awards Are Coming, everyone look busy
I gave it a Sad Puppies tag on twitter. So, yes, hits. Also, people really want the Dragons to work.

May 27
Destroying our heroes -- William Lehman on Captain America, a Guest Post
Another Johnny come lately that got hits. But then again, Captain America.

May 25
#NeverHydra and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend
Hashtags. They work.

At the end of the day, Marvel and some variation of Puppies worked for hits this month. Who knew? Two Rabid Puppies, a post on the Dragon Award, Moira Greyland JCW and Vox are over half the posts. The rest is literally all Marvel.

Sometimes, it helps to be up to date.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fisking Hydra Cap

Nick Spencer, of #NickSpencerIsHydra, crawled out from the rock under which he resides to defend making Captain America a lifelong Hydra Nazi. This interview happened with The Daily Beast. You can find it if you like, it's not hard, but I refuse to give them the clicks.

I know it's memorial day, so few if anyone will read it. I know it's more of a Veteran's Day post, but right now, Captain America has been killed in the war with Social Justice schmucks.

As far as I'm concerned, it's time for someone to fisk him into next century.

I figured that I'm the only one volunteering for the job. Probably because everyone else is reduced to incoherent rage (or, they had vacation plans for the weekend. I was free).

Anyway, here we go.

The interviewer asked if Nick was "OK," because of the vitriol.
(Laughs.) No, I love this stuff. I feed off it, it’s totally fine. It’s looking like it’s gonna be a no. 1 trending topic here in a second. I’m the most hated man in America today and Donald Trump is running for president!
Trump didn't take an American icon of the last 7 decades and make him a Nazi.

You feed off of being hated. Hmm, so does Donald Trump, it seems. And yet you're trying to belittle Trump? Uh huh. Right.  You know, dude, I enjoy being hated, but usually by people who would already hate me for just being myself. I don't go out of the way to make all new people hate me.

It's the first paragraph of the first answer of the first question, and we've already verified that Spencer here is a glorified internet troll. Wonderful.
I was surprised by the sheer magnitude of the response. I can’t remember the last time something that happened in comics upset quite this many people.
It's called One More Day, you may have heard of it.
When you decide to do something like this, you understand obviously that people aren't gonna throw you a party for it. You understand that this is the kind of story designed to upset people and shock people and worry people. That’s the response you’re supposed to have to something like this, when you’re seeing a bad thing. So, yeah, this is certainly the kind of response I expected, but in terms of the magnitude of it and just how many people are chiming in, that part’s unreal. That surpassed any expectation that I had. 
There's "shock" and "worry," and then there's just plain, "Do you have head trauma?"
I think it just comes down to [the fact that] this character, particularly since the movies, has really exploded in popularity. Obviously he represents a lot to a lot of people. They’re emotionally invested, which is good.

Translation: Yes, this character means so much to so many .... so we went out of our way to screw him up so we can have the biggest click bait ever.
The worst thing that could have happened today is people shrugging, or even being reasonable. That would’ve said that we didn’t stick the landing on it. So this is what we wanted, we just have even more of it than we imagined.
So you enjoy being the most hated man in comics right now?  Tell me how you're any different than an internet troll. Because I'm not seeing it.

Q: What sorts of discussion with Marvel went into this? I read your editor Tom Brevoort said this twist had been in the works ever since Sam Wilson: Captain America #1. 
"Hey, you made Sam Wilson into Captain Liberal, so of course you were planning to make the patriotic Rogers a Hydra Nazi. It makes perfect sense."

Arrrgggghhhhh!!!!!
Yeah, we’ve been holding onto this for about 16 months now, so it’s been well over a year that we’ve been keeping this under wraps. And that was a hugely gratifying thing, especially in the last couple of months as we started work on the issue. There’s an artist drawing it [Jesús Saiz] and a letterer [Joe Caramagna], and you start to worry because obviously the book is getting passed through a lot of hands and there’s something tangible out there that can get leaked. So yeah, I mean all the credit in the world goes to Tom and everyone at Marvel, they really went above and beyond to keep a lid on this. They took a lot of special measures that we’ve never had before—and it worked! We managed to keep this until it started leaking out last night, which was inevitable because that’s when the book started arriving at various places. But yeah, it was a big success. I was really surprised. I thought for sure it would be ruined. 
Oh, it was ruined, all right.

And was there any pushback on this stupidity?
It’s a really funny thing, there was not an enormous amount of debate about the story. We do our creative retreats and this was a major subject at both of the last two. And honestly, that was a little surreal for me as well. Everybody seemed really into the idea and really supportive. I know that I went into the first [retreat] really expecting to have to fight for it and for there to be pushback, and there was very little. We had a luxury though, I could lay out the whole story for them. What everybody got today is obviously just sort of an opening chapter. I was able to kind of explain the whole thing and put it all into context. I’m as excited about this story as anything I’ve ever done in comics. I think we’re onto something here. And certainly in the room it seemed to go over well and that’s always a really encouraging sign.
In short: "No. They ran out of ideas too."

Daily Beast then softballed it with "Where did this new idea come from and why did a change of this magnitude feel necessary for the series?"

New idea. Bah. You could tell that this guy is a newb. Making the good guy into the bad guy is about as new as Oedipus. In fact, it's even less original than that in comics. Don't believe me? Look up DC's Injustice universe, where Superman is a villain.
It almost happened by chance, really. 
"You see, the Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror was on the television, and ...."
Rick Remender was the previous writer on the book and when I took over, he had had some plotlines that were outstanding. 
Would that be the Captain Liberal plots? If you wanted a real author, why didn't you just get Ed Brubaker. You know, the award winning author who was so popular a few years ago?
Tom ran through them with me, and one of them was that Hydra had infiltrated all the various teams and organizations in the Marvel universe and we were gonna be weeding out the various Hydra clans. And, to be honest, at the time, I had just gotten the Captain America assignment and that story really felt like an event. I felt like it was maybe a little too big for me at that point, and that wasn’t something they would want me to do. 
So I started to kind of drill it down a bit and I started wondering, what if there’s just one Hydra plant? What if they think they’re looking for a hundred people and it turns out there’s just one really good one? And if there’s just one really good Hydra plant, who would that be? Within a second, I realized that Steve was by far the person who could do the most damage. He’s the leader of the Avengers, he has a relationship with the U.S. government, and he works closely with SHIELD. Not to mention just his status in the Marvel universe—he’s a symbol, everyone trusts him, everybody looks to him as an authority. 
So, in short, you took the Secret Wars premise of "The shape-shifting aliens Skrulls have infiltrated the planet by impersonating superheroes," and instead of Skrulls, you just replaced it with "Hydra," and boiled it down to one hero.

You are the biggest, most unimaginative hack in the universe, aren't you?
Q: One of the first things most people will probably think is, “But hasn’t he spent the last 75 years fighting Hydra?” How do you reconcile the twist with the character’s history?A: I can’t say a lot on that front, but what I can say is that that is not a huge point of concern in the story. 
Translation: HOW DARE YOU QUESTION ME, PEASANT!



No, really, Captain America punched Hitler in the face, beat up the Red Skull and his minions a hundred times, removed Hydra from SHIELD, and has personally wielded Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and you've just RetConned (or Wreck-Conned) 75 years of comic book history, and THAT'S NOT A HUGE POINT OF THE STORY? IT'S THE ONLY POINT OF THE STORY. It's the ONLY thing that matters.
That question will be answered, at least for the most part, in the next issue. That wasn’t something that we wanted to drag out. We wanted to make that stuff as clear as we could upfront. So now that we’ve gotten the big surprise, we’re going to go back and explain some things to you so that you, as a reader, have a much clearer vantage point. But your vantage point may differ greatly from the characters in the Marvel universe. 
Oh, how nice of you. You're not dragging it out.

The Daily Beast brought up that the creators of Captain America were both Jewish.
Look, everybody who’s working on this story loves Captain America. 
Well, that one's obviously a lie.
I know that it may not seem like it today. 
No! Really? Do tell.
But this book is edited by Tom Brevoort, who has been protecting this character’s legacy for a very long time now. 
That's a lie. He was Executive Editor of Civil War. Considering that train wreck, I submit that the only legacy he wants to protect is his own.
He’s not gonna let me do anything that he thinks is going to endanger that character’s legacy and how the character is perceived. 
A lie so big, it just broke psychic paper, and his nose should be a sequoia.
It’s always difficult when you’re at this point in a story, because you don’t just wanna tell people, “Everything’s gonna work out great!” Because that certainly may not be the case here. But what I think I can say with confidence is that with this story, our intention and our hope is that in its own unique way, it reinforces what everybody already knows about Captain America, which is his power as a symbol and what that means. We are approaching it from a different angle, but I think it illuminates the character in a way that we’ve never seen before. 
You just made the biggest American Patriot ever into a Hydra Nazi. You have just inverted everything that the character stands for. You have betrayed Kirby. You have betrayed the fans. You have betrayed Captain America. I half expect his fist to fly off the page and hit you in the face -- I'd say your balls, but he'd take too long to find them.
It’s always tough. The eternal divide is the reader wants the character to succeed, to be happy, to win.
Obviously, Captain America no longer exists, so we don't actually have that problem.
Our job is often to put the characters through things and that can often be mistaken for a lack of respect or care for the character.
That's not putting the character through something. You've made his entire history as we know it A LIE. Everything he's ever stood for is now a lie. That's not something that just happened to him. That's making his entire existence mean nothing, all so you can pull a stunt. Because that's all this is, a stunt.
It’s just the reality of what draws people into these stories, whether you realize it or not, and this is going to be a major test for a lot of characters in the Marvel universe.
This is going to be a test of your security systems if you keep this up.
Q: The resurgent Hydra that Red Skull is pulling together seems to share a lot of parallels with Trump's “Make America Great Again” campaign. It’s xenophobia and anti-political correctness. What went into forming his recruitment platform?A: What I think I can say about this, is one of the later conceptions of the story was “what if the new Hydra is a blank?” We wanted to kind of get away from the green and yellow costumes and the doomsday machines and things like that and really reconnect with what the organization has at its sort of moral core. 
Yes. You read that right. He just said that Hydra, and the Red Skull, Nazi organizations and personnel from day one, had a moral core.

Did someone not explain that Nazis don't have a moral core? That they make Max Weber look calm? Their entire philosophy of existence is power makes things right. If you don't grasp that concept, you're an idiot.

Even the joker knows better.



If you do grasp that concept, and think that is a moral core, then that just means that you might be a liberal, and you think that the Nazis were the good guys.

As for being anti-PC, you should read Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. He's obviously a Nazi.
We’ve obviously seen a lot of growth in white supremacist organizations and extreme nationalist groups in the U.S., certainly over the last eight years. 
Only if you're an idiot and follow the Southern Poverty Law Center, who classified Focus on the Family as a terrorist group.

Or you, like Janet Napolitano, have classified the Tea party as a terrorist group.

In short, anyone who disagrees with you politically are really Nazis. Thanks for that.
And so I had to do the ugly research of what’s drawing folks into those groups. What’s driving recruitment? 
Nothing. Because it's not happening.

Unless you mean ISIS. In which case, that's Barack Obama.
The Skull speech is a slightly sanitized version of that stuff. It’s been a little interesting hearing people say, “Oh, he’s taking political shots.” We’ve done that kind of thing, where we used a lot of topical language in stories with varying degrees of sincerity. This was a little different. I was looking at something else when I came to this. If people see those things as similar, it’s not my place to say. (Laughs.)
Please, be more insincere, why don't you?
I wanted us to kind of understand where this endless supply of bodies that Hydra always has comes from. And why someone would sign up for the gig. It became pretty clear that that wasn’t going to be a supervillain screaming at the top of his lungs about how he was gonna take over the world and everybody was gonna bow to him. Instead, they would need to see some potential self-interest gain from working in Hydra. It’s probably a pretty good paycheck because it’s a dangerous job. 
We've already covered that. His name is Bob, Agent of Hydra.

Also, if you did five minutes of research, you'd realize that the Red Skull could recruit them all from the Middle East, after the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini became Eichmann's best friend. That's a few hundred million people right there.

Also, cloning. Because comics.
So again, when looking at various hate groups and what drew those people in, these are the kinds of things you see a lot. A lot of times they’re recruiting in areas that are economically depressed, they’re recruiting people who don't have a lot of education or opportunity, who could gain from employment and having future prospects. 
What? You mean that it's not Climate Change? I hear that causes all the problems now.

Also, that must mean that the Red Skull recruits a lot in Detroit.
We [in the U.S.] have a lot of people like that. It’s kind of a miracle that we don't have more of this stuff. So I wanted to bring the camera in close on one of them and give you an idea of who’s filling these rooms of people that SHIELD’s fighting against. I think it makes for a stronger dynamic. It presents SHIELD with some new problems that they’ve never really had to deal with before. 
I'm sorry, did you want to turn a comic book into All Quiet on the Western Front? Because that was crap, even for propaganda.

Q: What should we be reading into Eric Selvig’s expression there at the end? Was he in cahoots with Cap?

You mean this image?



Are you stupid? Or merely brain dead? Does that man look happy to you?
A: I know, he looks a little dark, doesn't he? He looks a little creepy. (Laughs.) That’s a good observation. Good thing to keep in your back pocket for future issues. 
Translation: "I didn't think of that. Thanks for the idea. I know who to ruin next."

Speaking of stupid....
Q:Have you been watching the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaign unfold?A: Yeah. I think the only thing I can say there is it speaks to people’s passion for the character. 
Funny. I thought it spoke to the power of the gay lobby on Twitter.
Which probably isn’t much of an answer, 
Ya think?
but people strongly identify with these characters, they’re strongly invested in these characters’ lives, and I think that this is a reflection of that energy.
Then you made him a Nazi. Now, not even the gay crowd will want him.
What can we expect from the story going forward?
Your usual stupid cliches. Probably the power of love, while we're at it.
I would tell everybody to take the solicits and stuff that are out there with a real grain of salt.
 Dude, we're expecting to wake up the next day and hope this was a nightmare. Also, we're hoping that you're found in a dark alley somewhere.
(Laughs.) We had to embellish somewhat so that nobody would get suspicious.
You made ... CAPTAIN AMERICA .... into ... a ... NAZI. You're embellishing "somewhat"?
What I think I can say to folks that might help them visualize where the story is going is that this is not so much a story about what has come before as it is about what comes next. The story is not Steve’s past, it’s Steve’s future. 
You just made Steve Rogers a Hydra plant since before he was Captain America. That alone has just made everything incoherent. And you think that his past is irrelevant? How many times did your parents have to drop you on your head for you to be just this level of stupid?
So we’ve established that Captain America is Hydra. 
Consider carefully just how stupid that sounds, Nicky.
That is a huge moment in the Marvel universe, regardless of when it came to be or how it came to be.
It came to be because you couldn't think of anything original.
What that means in terms of the doors that are open to Steve, what he can do, and what he chooses to do with that power is what remains to be seen.
Doors that are open? Really? If he's a Hydra agent, he could walk into the White House, shake hands with the President, then rip off his arm and beat him to death with it.
But the thing that I can say is it’s a huge story I really can’t believe that they’re letting me do. 
That's the first honest thing I've heard you say. I can't believe they're letting you do it either.
This is something that is gonna have a profound effect on the Marvel universe. 
Yes. Like tanking books sales.
I’ve seen a lot of people say things like, “Oh, it’ll be wrapped up in the arc,” or “Give it six months.” And I can tell you, that’s not the case. This has real lasting repercussions that are gonna be with us for a while.
You mean until the latest Marvel event that shakes things up? You sure that's not going to bigfoot your stupidity in the next give minutes?  Or did you mean until sales tank so badly, you're thrown out into the street? Did you even consider the impact that having Chris Evans hating the idea?  And did anyone consider that this would be an especially bad idea with the Civil War film coming out the same month? Though I noticed they made sure to release this comic AFTER Civil War released.

I think I've made my point here. This is a stupid, unoriginal, shock-jock stunt that's geared to general sales, and I suspect it's going to have the opposite effect. And I suspect that it will end with Nick Spenser out in the street begging for change.

As I said at the start, Captain America is dead. A victim of political propaganda. But, like with all our real life heroes, he will live once more, and given new life. Only in his case, as he is fictional, it will happen sooner for him than for the rest.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Destroying our heroes -- William Lehman on Captain America, a Guest Post

After my little piece on Steve Rogers going Hydra agent from forever ago, (because you know, that makes such perfect sense), William Lehman wanted to take a crack at it, too.

For those of you who may not recall Mister Lehman, he made a brief appearance in Sad Puppies Bite Back. He's also one of the folks I work with over at Otherwhere Gazette, and he's the author of Harvest of Evil, and the upcoming sequel, Keeping the Faith, which I've had the honor of reading for review (it'll come up after the book hits on Amazon).

The really short version is he's a former navy man (submarines) and has been reading SF since forever. And I'd like to thank him for putting this much thought into a guest post.

Enjoy.

Destroying our heroes

So now, I’m told that Steve Rogers is, and always was, a Nazi. Ya know, in the great circus that is life, such a little thing as this, and compared to a possible war with China, the disaster that this presidential election is, a Submarine nuclear missile capable North Korea, a president that's selling our country down the unsanitary estuary, the trials and tribulations of my own life etc. et al. This is really a little thing, should not bother me, but it does.

I quit reading comic books in fourth grade or so (that would have been in the 1970s) so it's truly only of academic and theoretical interest... But it still pisses me off, and way more than it should.

The thing is this: we (and by we, I mean society and specifically you rat bastard self-designated keepers of society's values, IE the media) have gone about utterly destroying anything like a good role model, first:

By destroying any dead man's legacy, if they were the sorts of role models that existed in the era prior to 1970, which could be found.

Then by making sure that everyone knows the failings and falling short of any living man who might step up to be a hero.

Now because that isn't enough, we're going to destroy any FICTIONAL character that may be considered a role model!

Then we (again that societal we) will sit around and wring our hands at how the criminal element is so strong, the men are brutes, the women are sluts, drug addiction and crime in the streets etc etc etc.

The author of this particular bit of buggery says: “We knew it would be like slapping people in the face," confessed Brevoort. "The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that. You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.” OK so he admits that he’s trying to piss off his audience…

Now I am aware that there is a certain section of the artistic community that feels that if they’re not offending and shocking their audience, they’re not making “art”. As an aside, I note that this same set of Avant Guard morons can’t figure out why they aren’t making any money, and write it off to “the fools just can’t understand my work”. This mind set has however, no place in Comic books for pity’s sake!

I can’t say that I’ll make the coffers of Marvel any smaller by boycotting their work, because as I mentioned, the last time I bought a comic book it was with lawn mowing money. Still, I think this goes to damn far.

Further I see this as part of a grand conspiracy. Now, hold on, before you tell me my tin foil hat is too tight, I’m not saying that the members of this conspiracy ACTIVELY conspired, each and every one of them, to tear apart the values of the nation. It’s not that simple. What I am saying is that the news headquarters for all the major news networks, newspaper conglomerates, publishers, etc (the self-designated arbiters of culture) are clustered in two relatively small areas (I’m talking 40 miles square or so each) and they all know and party with each other. They all go to the same schools, send their children and protégés to the same schools, and have a “group think”.

We saw our first evidence of that group think back in 1968, when someone that I had admired, and as the child that I was then, believed, told me that the Tet offensive was a horrible defeat, and we had lost Vietnam. I was raised thinking that Walter Cronkite was “the most honest man on TV”, so when he says we got our butt kicked in ‘Nam, well of course I and my family believed him. As we know now, that was bullshit. The Tet was a massive disaster militarily for the NVA, and in fact we never again faced them on the field of battle. The Tet should have been their Collodion Fields. It wasn’t, because after we destroyed over half their troops on the field, in exchange for casualties that were damn light in comparison we allowed ourselves to be told we had lost the battle and the war.

It was shortly after that, we started seeing the rise of the “anti-hero” in the media, and on the screen, and we started reading articles about how Audi Murphy was an alcoholic and general dirt-bag, Babe Ruth was an alcoholic womanizing racist, Captain O’Kane and Adm Burke where genocidal, etc…

Oh I’m sure that there’s no one guy sitting back in a room somewhere orchestrating this stuff (though if I had to list a suspect, George Soros leaps immediately to mind) No it’s more of a group think thing, done by conversations at dinner parties, and over drinks. It’s created by contempt for the masses of this country that live in what these folks dismissively call “fly over country”.

It’s an attempt to “fundamentally change” America (now where have I heard that before?) And now that they’ve destroyed all the living and dead heroes that they can, they’re going after those that exist only in our imaginations, because in spite of everything they’ve done to date, there are still those that cling to their values of honesty, loyalty, patriotism, liberty etc… and these things are anathema to the left.

There seems to be this idea that if we can just get the kids early enough, we’ll have achieved our goal of making the nation over in our image. So suddenly we get dark and brooding superman, who wonders if saving the nation and the whole “Truth, Liberty and the American way” thing is right after all. And we get THIS SHIT, a Captain America who’s secretly a Hydra agent. (of course all of his story to date would indicate that he’s the WORST secret agent in history, as he’s foiled more plots by Hydra, and stopped more global domination schemes by them than Michael Moore has eaten cheeseburgers) I say ENOUGH. These clods have not only declared a social-political war for the heart of America, they’ve decided to use my children and grandchildren as pawns in the fight.

Folks it’s time to fight back. Fight with your wallet, fight with your stories and tales of heroism and bravery, and if it comes to it, fight with that fourth box we really don’t want to break open.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#NeverHydra and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend

I was originally going to do a blog post on how SJW leftist dirt bags were trying to suborn and subvert media.

First with Gillian Anderson claiming to be available to be James Bond (Not only is she 20 years too freaking late, but also, you know, a woman).... but you know what? I think Nikki Kenyon covered this.

Then there was the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend, where the LGBTQMOUSE slash fiction community on Twitter banded together to whine that Captain America wasn't gay, and that he and Bucky should have gotten together. Because, apparently, two men can't be best buddies without sex. Because, you know, everything's about sex now.

When it was reported by the NY Daily News, it was reported as "The Fans want this." Which is odd, because I notice they blame a lot of the crap they pull on the "fans" - like the obviously trans Ancient One, which  .... funny, when fans said that Agents of SHIELD sucked, we were told to sit down and shut up. Interviews with Forbes said fans should grow up.

And then, suddenly, what the "fans" want actually matters only when it matches up with a Lib agenda. I'm. So. Shocked.

I even had a conclusion.
Hey, you libtards in the LGBT community. Yeah, you. No, not the ones who want to just go on with their daily lives, the guys in front of you. The ones who scream and whine and carry on about how you want "gay heroes," but won't make your own, but would rather suborn and co-oped preexisting characters with a massive fan base. Yeah, you morons. I've quite had it with you idiots. If you want gay characters, go write some. Hell, make a comic book out of Chuck Tingle's work if you so desire. But put in some of your own effort, and do the work yourself.

But no, those people? The activist ones? They don't want that. They want Captain America suborned. They want someone who is good and pure and just and righteous to be gay so they can tag along to a 75-year history, and be attached to the good qualities around Captain America. They don't want gay characters, they want to co-opt the straight ones.

Normally, I'd say "that's what alternate universes are for," but no. They're apparently not content with that. Screw you people. With a hot poker. Thanks. But no thanks.
Then of course, nope, Marvel Comics had to see that and raise it. How?

BY MAKING STEVE ROGERS A HYDRA NAZI FROM THE BEGINNING.

So ... yeah. That actually happened. And no, that wasn't click bait. They’re making Steve Rogers, Captain America since 1941, into an agent of Hydra, the Nazi organization of the Red Skull. And no, they've explicitly stated that it's Steve Rogers, no tricks, and they're deliberately rewriting it so that he's always been a Nazi.

Yes, this happened.
Of course, I wrote a whole rant on this over at the Catholic Geeks.

I can't even write one lousy post without the real world becoming even dumber overnight. Really, people, what is your problem? Here is a character. Here is the way a character is written. This is the character's history over time. What's the matter with sticking to it.

And I wait one, just one lousy stinking fanboy to bitch that "Oh, they'll retcon it again with comic book logic somewhere down the line, it's not big deal. It's just a gimmick."

NO, FOOL.

It is a slap in the face to fans, and they have deliberately said as much. They know what they're doing. They're being iconoclastic for no good reason other than to be iconoclastic. In the name of being "edgy" and "different," they've gone out of their way to make the hero of the Marvel universe lesser than what he's always been.

Nope, can't have heroes. It might make someone feel like they're underachieving. Can't have anything to aspire to, because then, we might consider there's some room for improvement in ourselves. Heaven forbid that there's someone out there who is imbued with all good qualities ... you know, like the movie suggested. Can't have goodness, it might imply that there's a standard of "good" out there. Can't have that, now can we?

The long and the short of it is that the good liberals at Marvel can't seem to abide innate goodness. They don't want 'role models' - they want people so broken it makes them look good in comparison. And that's what's killing every bit of story telling libtards touch. And I'm sick of it.

Dear Marvel, your comics lost me at One More Day. Wake me when you take Joe Quesada, and most of his minions, and throw them out the front door, or off the roof. Either way, if you pull this crap in your films, you can ensure that you will never get another dollar from me ever again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Dragon Awards Are Coming, everyone look busy

Dragon Con 2016 - Fan Award Voting Sign Up

If you are unaware, the Dragon Awards are coming soon, to a DragonCon near you. Granted, that if you are anywhere near Atlanta.

This "small, regional" convention, to use the SJW term, is host to 60,000 people on an off-year. And yet they have over 100,000 people come to look at their annual parade. But shhhhh, don't tell the local fire marshals. they may suspect that the numbers are low-balled.

Anyway, as you might recall, DragonCon now has their own awards, the Dragon.

As their materials say:

These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are your chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and shows. There is no qualification for voting – no convention fees or other memberships are needed. The only requirement is that you register, confirm your email address for voting purposes, and agree to the rules. This ensures that all votes count equally.
NOMINATING VOTES ARE DUE IN BY JULY 25th.

That's correct. An award you don't have to pay money for. You just go to their website and you vote. That's it. A little time, and you're done. Have a nice day.

Now, while I wasn't really interesting in the Hugo Awards until I discovered I had half a hope in Hell of getting a nomination, this one I will actively market for.  If I had any idea how to market (I have three promotional methods, and they're called Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I could probably do better if I knew how to handle Goodreads, but dang, that UI sucks).

I know I have about 20 fans out there (they voted for me in Sad Puppies 4). I don't know if that's anywhere near enough to compete in the Dragon Awards (Maybe I should just cal them the Dragons. Or something "The Flight.") but I would like to give it the old college try.

Obviously, my only eligible book from last year is Honor At Stake. This is the purchase link if you haven't already grabbed it.

I hope I'm not asking too much. Heck, at most, I'm asking for $2.99 on Kindle, and that's assuming you've been to this blog and not purchased it already.

Technically, I'm not even asking you to buy the book, just vote for it, but I would really rather prefer that you've read the booked, liked the book, and then vote for the book, rather than just cast a vote. I suppose that, yes, if you don't have anything else to vote on, sure, fill in the blank with my book if you like. But I would really rather prefer you have read the book.

Categories Honor at Stake is eligible in.

Best Science Fiction Novel (yes, really. There is science in there. It goes metaphysical, not physical, but it's there.)
Best Fantasy / Paranormal Novel (Obviously. Because Vampires)
Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel (I originally meant it for a YA audience. Shows what I know, eh?)
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel (Maybe .... I do have a paramilitary strike force in the Vatican ninja, and an engagement of forces at the end, but this is a stretch.)
Best Horror Novel -- I've actually gotten one vote in that category already.

You could vote for it in all of them. Heh. (No, I wouldn't suggest it. Not even I did that. Then again, I voted for John C. Wright and John Ringo ... Ringo in at least two categories for the same book)

While you're there, also think about what you'd vote for in
Best Alternate History Novel
Best Apocalyptic Novel (My choice was Ringo's last zombie novel)
Best Comic Book
Best Graphic Novel
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectable Card / Role-Playing Game
Anyway, at the end of the day, it's all up to you. I don't really have anything else here. Enjoy.

DragonCon award sign up link is here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Marvel after Civil War

After Age of Ultron, I did a post on the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where would it go, what would we see? What would the movies consist of?

If Civil War is anything to go by, every film from now on has the potential to be an Avengers movie, so I should probably do another one.

It goes without saying that everything from here on out is going to have spoilers for the franchise to date. If you've seen Civil War, the only spoilers will be speculation that I might get right. Also, perhaps some comic book spoilers.

If you don't want spoilers, STOP NOW.

Now then, where were we....?

After Civil War, I am curious about how much the future films will be Avengers tie-ins.  Especially the Black Panther movie. But we'll get to that.

The Line up

As we've seen in the previous films, the Infinity Gems have been the major MacGuffin devices in the series. The Tesseract / Cosmic Cube was the main plot device in Captain America and The Avengers. The "mind gem" was in Loki's staff in The Avengers, and was responsible for Ultron. The "Aether" of Thor: The Dark World turns into a third. And Guardians of the Galaxy was driven by a fourth (held on the planet of the Nova corps).

For the record, there are two others out there. And there's a reason Why Avengers 3 is Infinity War, part one and two.

Phase 3 will be all about the build up to Avengers: Infinity War.  Why? Because it has to. To this point, the villain, Thanos, has been a background character in only three films: Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Age of Ultron, and that's about it.

Thanos is supposed to be the villain behind everything since Avengers ... okay, not everything, he's not Moriarty, but still, he provided Loki an army, unleashed a crazed Kree on the universe, and .... he showed up for a second after the credits of Age of Ultron. That's it. On screen, we know nothing about his character, his goals, or why he wants the gems.

From now on, Thanos has to appear in several of the upcoming films. Must. Why? Because by the time Inifinity War comes up, we will have been building towards him for a decade. (Iron Man came out in 2008).

The lineup thus far (and it's been changed in last year) is

  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part I (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part II (2019)
  • Inhumans (TBA)

If you're wondering what happened to the Inhumans movie, Agents of SHIELD happened, that's what.

And yes, Spider-Man, even though he's shared by Sony, will be part of the MCU from here on in.

We'll also know that there are two Infinity gems left in play.

Dissassembled

They're all still running.

Civil War split the Avengers team right down the middle. In fact, odds are that Captain America won't be seen again in any film until 2018, because he and his people will be on the run. Bucky's on ice. Hawkeye will probably go back to retirement. Ant-Man is a fugitive on a good day anyway. In short, none of these people will be able to pop their heads up without getting it shot off.

Now imagine what happens when Avengers comes up again. That's a lot for them to overcome, considering the events of Civil War. Because trust me, what I know of Thanos, and the Infinity Gems, they're going to need all hands on deck. And then they'll need even more.

Which leads us to ....

Doctor Strange

With the infinity gems, supposition is that one of them is the "Eye of Agamotto," a talisman that Doctor Strange uses. He'll have #5 of 6.

Gotta catch them all.

Other data is TBD. I suspect there will be little tie-in to the rest of the series, outside of having an infinity gem.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


We're now at the point where Thanos must be explored as a character. Why? Because this is the Marvel Cosmic Universe, where Thanos mainly exists. And if Thanos isn't brought in at this point, well, he's barely been in this franchise.  Despite his appearances, even in Ultron, all he's done has been to back Loki in Avengers and the Kree in Guardians. He's had a handful of lines in the three films we've seen him in. If he's had a full page of dialogue, I'd be surprised. At best, he's a consulting supervillain.

GotG 2 would give him his moment to shine, and show off just how much of a badass he is.... Oh, hell, one of the last lines in the GotG movie was about Thanos. We should at least get a CV on this guy.

Personally, I think at least part of the plot should have Thanos attacking the Nova Corps to get the MacGuffin gem from GotG, if not getting his hands on gem #6.  However, if they're following the original 1991 Infinity Gauntlet storyline, I expect a man named Adam Warlock to appear here. Then they're really going to get strange ... Stranger, anyway.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

... Pass. I have nothing.

Seriously, how is Spider-Man going to have something that impacts the MCU? Beuller? Beuller?

Short version is that this will be a thorough introduction film, without any origin story. Thank God. That's the best part about Civil War -- Spider-Man will have already been invented. I don't have to see yet another Uncle Ben die. And they've done their best to avoid the line "With Great Power comes great responsibility."

We'll have to see what happens.

Ragnarok

Dollars to doughnuts, Thor: Ragnarok will serve the same purpose as Civil War did. It's going to start moving players off of the chess board. It'll at least be something else to overcome for Avengers: Infinity War. Because not only will this have Thor, it will also have Bruce Banner in the cast.

Yes, I know Natalie Portman won't be back for the next film, and honestly, who needs her? When We last saw Thor fly off, he was going to investigate his visions in Age of Ultron, with the potential end of Asgard and the Infinity Gems. Honestly, where would Jane Foster fit in all this?

Where would Bruce Banner fit? Easy. The "Tesseract" (the Cosmic Cube of the comics) emitted gamma radiation (Avengers), so expect the other gems to have something similar.

I suspect that part of Ragnarok will, in some instance, feature Thanos. Let's face it, right now, the Tesseract is being sheltered in Asgard. In fact, last time we saw the Infinity Gauntlet (the user interface for all six Infinity Gems), it was in the vaults of Asgard. Thanos has to get his hands on it somehow.

This means that Ragnarok will either have Thanos attacking Asgard, or will have Thanos in a final, post-credit scene in which he goes through the wreckage of Asgard, coming up with the gauntlet, and probably the Tesseract.

One way or the other, Thanos should end up with the Cosmic Rubix Cube, and we should see Asgard falling apart under the rule of fake-Odin. If GotG 2 just talks about Thanos, this must be the movie that shows off what a threat level he truly is.  If an entire civilization of aliens who are all on the level of Thor are going to get trounced by Thanos, what hope does everyone else in the universe have?

Black Panther

This will be ... interesting, depending on how they want to play it.

Option 1: Civil War 1.5.  Large chunks of Captain America's Avenger team (Secret Avengers, if you will) are hiding out in Wakanda. Since Wakanda is basically an entire country running on Stark-level technology, anyone who wants to get their hands on it will want a piece. This could be Hydra, AIM, or any other sinister organization.

Option 1a: People discover Bucky, on ice, in Wakanda.

Option 2: This has nothing whatsoever to do with Civil War, and will involve T'Challa dealing with people a) stealing Wakandan technology or b) peddling Wakandan tech on the black market. Expect to see Andy Serkis' character from Age of Ultron make an appearance. Probably with a cybernetic hand. After all, Serkis' character was a Mister Klaue (pronounced "Claw"). Insert your own joke here.

(Side note: In Age of Ultron, when Serkis has to deal with a CGI motion-capture character, you have to wonder if he thought So this is what it feels like to be the real character when the other is a green screen effect. He and James Spader must have an some interesting conversations. All I'm saying.)

My money is on some variation on #2. If Serkis isn't in the film at all, I'll be a little disappointed.

Unless...

Option #3 (a joke post): Black Panther moves to Hell's Kitchen to take over for Charlie Cox's Daredevil.

..... BWAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA.  It'll never happen.

(PS: If it does happen, I was only making a joke based off of Black Panther doing the same thing in the comics)

Possibly this might have Infinity Gem #6. Because let's face it, Wakanda has to run on something  as a power source.

Avengers: Infinity War, Part I

If my previous guesses are correct, by the time this film opens, Thanos will have 2 out of the 6 gems.

This should either bring Thanos to Earth, or he should be on his way by then. We know that Earth has the Mind Gem with Vision. If we're right about Doctor Strange, he's also got a gem.  If Thanos wants to collect the whole set, he has to go through the wielder of at least one, if not two gems.

As I said last time, the bulk of this movie will be picking up the pieces of Civil War, bringing everyone back on board, bringing Stephen Strange into the Avengers (whatever may or may not be left of them). Expect the last scene of the movie to have a money shot of every last superhero mentioned above gathered in one space with the obligatory "Let's get to work" or even, maybe,just maybe, "Avengers, ASSEMBLE!" Yes, that would be one crowded room.

If I took Marvel seriously when they insisted that Coulson would be back for Avengers 3, right after "Avengers Assemble," Coulson should appear out of nowhere and answer "Whatever you say Captain."

But I don't have have that much confidence in them.

In short: this one should open with Thor crashing into Earth after Ragnarok (assuming he hasn't been blasted into another plane of existence by then), and playing Paul Revere: Thanos is coming, Thanos is coming!

It's time to mount up.

At the end of the day, part one will be about getting the band back together.  The Russo brothers (in charge of the franchise right now) have already said that more characters will be coming in with this one. That would make a certain level of sense.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Will this feature Ant-Man on the run? No idea. Seriously, no idea. Though Scott Lang has been a fugitive so long, being wanted by the government might not be a deterrent.

But the fact that this sequel takes place in between films makes me think that, no, Thanos will not be on Earth by the end of Infinity War Part I. Otherwise, nothing else would be going on.

Scott Lang will probably be off doing something else of minimal importance in the middle of all of this.

No, Ant-Man doesn't impress me. Civil War was the first time I really liked him.

Though the end of this one will probably be an Avenger knocking on his door saying "Suit up. We have work to do."

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is, essentially, an Inhuman (as seen on Agents of SHIELD) an alien weapons program that tried to turn other races into living weapons of death.  In the AoS franchise, the official Inhumans license is due to the Kree ... in the comic books, the Skrulls created Captain Marvel, but we haven't seen the Skrulls, yet (or we have seen them, as the Chitauri, depending on who you listen to).

This can go a few ways.  The film can start with Carol Danvers being abducted by aliens to be experimented upon, and the powers she's given cause her to break loose and wreak havoc upon her captors as she fights her way back to Earth, thereby causing another uniting factor between Marvel Earth and Marvel Cosmic.

.... or she can be a bit player freed by the Guardians of the Galaxy in their sequel. Which may work. Maybe. 

Otherwise, if the GotG aren't already in Infinity War part 1, I will lay money, right here, right now, that Carol Danvers will be broken out, or given a ride home (in a post-credit scene), by the Guardians. Because this is another way to bring this particular band of misfits to Earth.

Infinity War Part II

Welcome to the End of All Things.  This should be the biggest, baddest, most epic shootout ever.  I'm not sure if it's going to be (1) the Avengers in a beat-the-clock chase to collect all the Infinity Gems before Thanos can get them, or (2) if it's them defending the last gem, or (3) if it's "Thanos has all the gems, and the gauntlet, and we're screwed."

If it's #3, expect casualties. A lot of them. In fact, this might be their excuse to start recasting certain actors (like Robert Downey Jr., who is both awesome, and getting too old for this, and probably reaching 8 Marvel films by this point, if not more).

Originally, I thought that the Infinity War #1 could end with Thanos getting his hands on the final infinity gem. Except here's the problem. I've read the script ... okay, I read the original comic book. Why will this be "bad" if Thanos has all of the gems?  Think about it: Any one of these gems seen thus far can destroy a planet, if not the universe. Now collect all six.  Yeah. It will be bad for our heroes. Unless someone can trick Thanos into being very, very stupid.

In the comic, when Thanos had all six gems, he won. Against everybody. And then he did something truly stupid.

Obviously, the people who have gems will feature heavily in this one.

In Civil War, Vision wanted to master the gem he wears. Expect Vision to master his gem here. Really master it.

Also expect Doctor Strange to feature heavily. He'll be on Thor-level power by then.

Also? Both of those might not be enough.

If they're lucky, this battle will take place in outer space, and not on Earth.

If it takes place on Earth, let's hope it takes place in Nevada, or the Sahara, or some other location that doesn't have a lot of people.

Also, remember all of the street-level fighting that happened in The Avengers? If the Russos really want to play ball with every character ever, then we should have NetFlix meet up with The Avengers. Especially since The Defenders show up the year before -- with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, et al. They should be dealing with the street-level, "Save the civilians" work while the heavy hitters try to stop the threat. However, given how little interaction there has been, I'm not holding my breath.

If done well, this will be epic, with each Infinity War film being 3 hours or so.

If done poorly, expect a train wreck. But after Civil War, my money is on epic.

Inhumans

Who cares? We'll see if it even happens. Agents of SHIELD will have probably killed that franchise possibility, especially since the ratings keep dropping each season.

And let's face it, after the Agents of SHIELD and Infinity War, who will give a damn?

And that's ... all the guesswork I can come up with.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Captain America: Civil War, reviewed

Yes, I'm the last person on the face of the Earth to see the ruddy film, so sue me.

So, the premise of Civil War begins with a mission in Nigeria that goes sideways and wipes out some civilians. The UN sees this as a good excuse to shackle the Avengers to their whims. US Secretary of State General (ret) Thunderbolt Ross is in charge of the arm twisting.

Meanwhile, a little grey man named Zemo is manipulating things from behind the scenes. First, Zemo attacks the UN conference for the Avengers agreement, framing Bucky "Winter Soldier" Barnes for the attack, making the world a suddenly much smaller place for him to hide.

And then, we're off to the races.

Now let's look at this for a moment, shall we?



This isn't even everybody.  There were twelve characters on screen. And, much to my surprise, each and every one of them had a character moment. They had screen time that made their appearance worthwhile. Some of these people were only on screen for about 5-15 minutes (sorry I'm vague about the time, but I didn't look at my watch once during the entire 2:30 running time).

And keep in mind, they introduced two new heroes. We'll get into both of them in a moment, but think about how much work had to be done here. This wasn't a Captain America film, this was an Avenger movie. And the best part is, there was no SHIELD, no Infinity Gems. And the bad guy was more of a MacGuffin than an antagonist.

The Russo brothers proved that they can take over for Joss Whedon's seat as the directors of Phase 3 of the Marvel universe.

About the villain: I am surprised that they changed the character of Zemo from the comics. He was not at all affiliated with Hydra. I was thrown by it. I was also thrown by the fact that, after a bombing, he did very little in this movie. It was all about thinking, and chess, and playing people. And people were played very well. It almost makes me wonder if he planned the opening scene as well, just to set the events in motion. He was a spymaster. Just a grey little man with nothing special except a plan. It was like George Smiley versus the Avengers, and he almost won.

Team Cap
And the bit players. Yeah. They were fun. Hawkeye didn't steal large parts of the show again, but he came close for a few scenes. Vision and the Scarlet Witch had surprisingly good chemistry on screen, even if, well, he's a robot dressed in a sweater (yes, really). Sharon Carter contributed nice little moments, but didn't feel shoe-horned in. I expected her to have a larger part of the film, but maybe later.

Also, notice, this had Ant-Man. I even liked Ant-Man. There was some good bits of business with him which boil down to spoilers. So moving on.

By the way, remember in Winter Soldier when Peggy Carter brought all the feels? She kinda does that again.

Black Panther And .... 

Meet prince T'Challa of Wakanda. He made his introduction into the MCU with this movie, and he was done surprisingly well. When he is brought into the situation, he is driven by vengeance, and he's also obviously royalty. He carries himself like a king, and you will respect him like one, or he will rip your throat out.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the day, he was the sanest one on the battlefield. I look forward to him having his own movie.

Of course, the other one people talk about is ....



Yup. Back to Spider-Man. Sony and Marvel studios came to an accord after they badly mishandled Amazing Spider Man 2.

However, I can say with all honesty, I like this one. Especially scenes where he's bantering with Tony Stark.

Marissa Tomei as Aunt May is probably more realistic (consider the ages for a moment, you'll see what I mean. Aunt May should be 46, watching after a 16 year old. Not much older. Rosemary Harris, while accurate to the comic, was probably older than she should have been).

Also, this exchange.
Parker: You know that really old movie, The Empire Strikes Back?
War Machine: How old is this kid Tony?
Stark: I don't know. I didn't carbon date him!
I'll take it.

At the end of the day, this was a totally character-driven film. There's plot, but this one relies heavily on the characters. It is the end result of multiple movies coming to fruition. And it never slowed down. And I never looked at my watch once.

Best Marvel film to date. Hands down.

And props for making certain that this image was in the film.




SPOILERS

Now, a few things: Last time I had this conversation, after Age of Ultron, I called a few things. Some things weren't that hard to guess. That they brought up Bucky killing Stark's father is not a surprise. I didn't even believe that they made it a "twist" in the film. Was anybody surprised by that?

Blowback happened from the Hulk's rampage in Age of Ultron. Also not surprising.

And of course, the Disassembling of the Avengers. Called it. But then again, not surprising either.

Tell me that last note to Stark wasn't a note from Chris Evans to Marvel fans. "If you need me, call"? Pretty much what Evans said about retiring ... except for Marvel films.

The Catholic Geek: Gaslight & Grimm

The Catholic Geek: Gaslight & Grimm 05/22 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:


The Catholic Geek Radio Show welcomes the authors and editors of Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales, a new collection released by eSpec Books on May 29th, 2016.
Once Upon a Time, ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic...classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma's knee. Oh yes, tales have been told...but never quite like these.
Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam. 
With tales by James Chambers, Christine Norris, Bernie Mojzes, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Jeff Young, Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin, Elaine Corvidae, David Lee Summers, Kelly A. Harmon, Jonah Knight, Diana Bastine, and Jody Lynn Nye. 

Our guests will include Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, Christine Norris, Jody Lynn Nye, and Larry N. Martin.

TWITTER HANDLES
@eSpecBooks @DMcPhail @Jean_Marie_Ward @GailZMartin @davidleesummers @cnorrisauthor

@JodyLynnNye @LNMartinAuthor

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Music Blog: Dreamstate - Evolution

I've pretty much heard this one on a loop lately. It's fun.

It also features the lead singer of Amaranthe.

Enjoy

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spinning Doctor Strange

Once again, they have changed the narrative about Doctor Strange and what they did to the ancient one.

First, it was obviously a transgender pandering moment.

Then, nope. They claimed that "fans want womyn, so we're going to give you womyn!"

Then they said that it was really about not offending China by having a Tibetan bad ass. That didn't even told up to the scrutiny of professional homosexual George Takai, who bitched about the whitewashing of the Ancient One.

And now, NOW, Disney insists that they changed the Ancient one because because you're a racist.

Yup. Really.

As Kevin Feige, master of the MCU just said
“We make all of our decisions on all of our films, and certainly on Doctor Strange, for creative reasons and not political reasons.  That’s just always been the case."
Always been the case? Really Kevin? Really? You just said a few weeks ago that it was about MOAR WOMYN.

And then it came out that it was about not offending China.

Who do you think you're fooling? You've changed positions on this four times in a month. That's more often than a skin walker shape shifts.
"I’ve always believed that it is the films themselves that will cross all borders and really get people to identify with these heroes, and that always comes down to creative and not political reasons." 
"All borders" meaning "China has a billion people and we really want their money."
"The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story."
I'm certain that there were no other factors -- at all -- in this decision.
“We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline."
Um, dude, if you honestly wanted to do that, you'd cut out the origin story entirely. Why? Because the origin story of Doctor Strange is "An ego-maniacal genius at the top of his field finds himself humbled in an incident that requires him to find redemption in being a superhero."  You know, exactly like Tony Stark. If you really wanted to ditch the "old and very typical storyline," maybe you shouldn't be repeating the exactly same motif from film one.

Also, you've had a string of comic books for 50 years. Did you think that anyone who's been reading those comics might actually give a crap about having it look like what they were reading?

What about the young Asian kid who saw the Ancient One and thought "Yeah, I'd want to be a badass when I'm that old"? Nah. He doesn't matter, does he?
“Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man?
Because you didn't make him a woman, you made him look more like a space alien.

Kill it with fire!
“We made changes to some of the other key characters in the comic for similar reasons. Specifically, casting Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo….
Why? Because you didn't want any more Russians to be the bad guys?

Oh, wait, you're not even going to have Mordo as the bad guy in this one, you've got him as the side kick.
“The truth is, the conversation that’s taking place around this is super-important."
Super important? Not super-duper important? How about super-super-duper important?

Does he even hear how stupid he sounds?
"It’s something we are incredibly mindful of. We cast Tilda out of a desire to subvert stereotypes, not feed into them."
Did you ever think that the archetype of the wise old man was a thing because there was something special about wise old men? Or do you not put that much thought into it? Is Jung just too advanced for you?
"I don’t know if you saw [Doctor Strange director] Scott Derrickson’s tweet the other day. He said we’re listening and we’re learning, every day. That really is true. As long as we’re starting on this topic, it means so much to us that people know that. We also know that people expect actions and not words in a Q&A, and I’m hopeful that some of our upcoming announcements are going to show that we’ve been listening.”
They're listening, but they are not going to change jack. Because you're a racist. I mean, obviously, if you actually want the wise old Asian character you may have cared about from the comic to, I don't know, look like a wise old Asian man, well, you want a stereotype, and stereotypes must be subverted. So if you want that evil stereotype, you must be subverted, so you are the problem. You are the racist.

Yes, I'm sure they're listening to you. You're just not saying anything that they want to hear.

As John C. Wright put it.
A young man learns from an old man because generally old men know more about what a young man wants to know than a younger woman. And Tibetans know more about Tibetan mysticism than Scottish Calvinists. Just saying.

I am wondering what exciting possibilities are opened up by having the Ancient One be a Scottish woman. If the only difference between men and women is plumbing, then the only way for having a woman play a man’s role and play it in a mannish fashion to be new and exciting is to have the story line be about plumbing, not about personality.

And now that the decision is done, filming is done, and it is too late to change anything, now you are listening and learning, is that the plan? Now, when it is too late to change your mind, it is super-important for us to have a conversation?

You would have been better off claiming that the Red Chinese bribed you.

Then, at least, the fans would have known you had some principles, that you were willing to whore for money. The capitalist side of my soul would have disapproved, but understood.
I'm with him.

Not to mention that they took out a large chunk from the comic book. The "stereotype" they jettisoned was important no only because of the comic, but because of the character. Think about it for a moment. In J. Michael Straczynski's The Oath, he highlighted that Doctor Strange, surgeon, not only had to stop being an egomaniac, he would also have to kowtow in a strange, alien land, and force his scientific, American Mind to learn the ways of Oriental mysticism. Guess what? We don't have that anymore. Poof. Why? Because the Scottish Calvinist figured it out, obviously our boy Strange will as well. That's one of the reasons I figure it's a darn good reason to either A) jettison the origin story or B) keep her role very, very limited.

A show of hands, please: at the end of the day, how many people would have cared if they had stuck to one story? Or just admitted they were going for deliberate gender bending? Or as JCW put it, just being bribed by the fact of the PRC? Maybe then, they could have had something resembling the courage of their convictions. Stupid convictions, but sticking to your guns has got to be better than sniveling around like a worm, hoping not to be stepped on by the fans.

This has been going on for a month. The trailer dropped on April 14, and this latest spin came out on May 10th. And they've gone through four reasons on this topic. Does anyone want to make a guess on when they're going to settle on one story and stick with it? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Strong Female Character Autopsy: Agent Carter and Supergirl

By now, we all know that Supergirl and Agent Carter have failed at being TV shows. The former has been moved from CBS and a $3 billion budget, and the latter has been outright cancelled.

Both have "Strong Female Characters," but is that actually the reason? Not really. Both failed from a failure to act.

If we're all being honest here, Agent Carter's season 1 should have killed it. At worst, women were ignored in the late 40s, not belittled and treated like crap. Almost everyone in her entire office outright hated her. Seriously, how did any of these guys ever have dates with attitudes like that? Carter, in turn, was so hostile to every single male in the office it was grating (hate the people who hate her? Fine. Hate the people who are NICE to her? WTF lady?). By the end of the first season, it had been toned down. And Season 2 almost turned that off completely, which was nice ... then it went soapy with the villains, and finally just went bizarre with a ten minute musical number in one of the last few episodes ... a musical number that came out of nowhere THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REST OF THE STORY.

Gah!

So, no, while it's better than Agents of Stupid, I will not really miss the show. Then again, who'll miss it? It's already got a petition to make it a NetFlix show with fifty thousand names on it. Yes. Really. Maybe then they'll cut back on the ultra-hard "Men are evil, womyn rules" bit entirely, cut out the soap opera, and just stick with halfway decent writing.

At the end of the day, Agent Carter didn't fail because the character wasn't strong enough, or even too strong.

The writing sucked.

Even the good season, number 2, was padded with irrelevant, unnecessary flashbacks that felt like an Arrow knockoff. I didn't care about the crazy super villain going from her politician husband to her gangster boyfriend. I didn't care about the pseudo-Illuminati (Seriously? Evil Businessmen rule the world? What is this? The 90s? Why not have evil white supremacist militias, too?).

Perhaps the writers felt that the character could carry the program. It might have happened if the show had actually spent more time with her. The show is called Agent Carter, not "Super-powered Criminal Minds."

And then there was Supergirl, brought to you by the same man who did The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.

And it was an utter train wreck, a puff piece of a TV show filled with more cotton candy than a carnival. The characters were very ... chick flick. And no, not a good or witty chick flick (yes, those exist), but bad ones, with all the cliches. You know the ones I'm talking about: eating ice cream with her sister on a couch, talking out her feelings with her friends, and where her true "strength" isn't that she can lift a building, but that's she caring, compassionate and understanding. Are all of these automatically a problem? Not really. The Flash and Arrow also lean heavily on emotional stability, even angst. But the CW programs breaks up these thoughtful moments about our characters' emotional lives with at least four fight scenes an episode, a puzzle to solve, and threats to people we care about.

But for Supergirl, the writers relied on these moments. The better episodes had all of the latter elements. Their episode with a nuclear-powered psychopath hunting Cat Grant, and they had to figure out who the bad guy was, what his motivations were, and how to actually beat him? Those parts were fun, weren't they?

Then there's 15 minutes of Kara whining that Jimmy Olsen called in Superman to save her when it clearly looked like she was getting her ass kicked. Then she had to apologize for whining. Wasn't that fun? No? Yeah, you're not alone. That was so much of the series, it was painful.

What went wrong? Why did a team that puts out a product of quality put out this level of drek?

To start with, Supergirl was originally a project meant for the CW. But CBS wanted it, and obviously wanted it for their targeted audience -- really stupid ten year old girls who didn't know any better, and SJWs who felt like they could pat themselves on the back about such a strooooonnnnggg woman role model. Granted, on Supergirl, there are a lot of moments I can see a good script struggling to get through.

It's one of those moments where I can almost see studio interference doodling on the script pages in crayon. Every time that the show looks like it's going to be awesome, it starts whining.

And Supergirl is budgeted at $3 million an episode? Where'd that money go? Calista Flockhart's salary and hair care? They have THREE major sets -- a bat cave that looks less impressive than Arrow's, an office set, and a spaceship that is only a black room with a CGI table. Are they telling me that it costs $3 million for special effects that aren't much better than the ones Christopher Reeves had? Or was it all because it was shot in LA, and not the cheaper Vancouver of the other Berlanti-verse shows.

I'm figuring the move to the CW could be a vast improvement. Especially if they do something simple and merge the universes. No, I'm not suggestion a four-part crossover even that ends with Supergirl coming to the same universe as the other three shows ... that could be a bit of a Crisis in and of itself. Heh.

Besides, I'm trying to imagine Kara meeting .... anyone on Arrow, really. "Hi, meet Oliver .... no, perhaps Thea .... er, um, Felicity. That's safe. Except Felicity is just like Kara, only without superpowers."

That would be amusing.

At the end of the day, why did these shows fail? You could say that it was political -- you know, writers or studios pushing an agenda. Though I'm not even entirely certain that they know what their agenda was? Was it Grrrl power? In which case, I can recommend a webcomic for you. Was it men are evil? Well, then, it would be strange, since Kara lusted after photographer and part time underwear model Jimmy Olsen, while Agent Carter didn't know what she wanted in her convoluted love life.

So, while it may in part be that CBS wanted a role model for ten year old girls and TrigglyPuff, the simple version is that there wasn't any "there" there. There was no substance, and barely any style. You know you have to worry when one of the most interesting characters on the show was their low-rent Lex Luthor, played by objectivist Maxwell Lord. Hell, I spent the last two episodes screaming at the television for them to stop talking at each other and JUST DO SOMETHING DAMNIT. And while Agent Carter didn't suffer as much from the problem, there was a lot of uneven writing, where they didn't know if they wanted a spy thriller, or if they wanted a soap opera. They tried for both, and got neither. Seriously, when the most interesting character on the show, with the most character development, is Jarvis, not Agent Carter, in the words of Oliver Queen, you have failed this series.

But, again, in the case of Supergirl, I still hold out hope. With the move to Vancouver, expect to see the end of Calista Flockhart, and probably a few of the other actors, who would rather not move to the frozen north. They would rather stay in Hell-A, along with the CBS studio execs who scribbled notes all over the scripts.

And the advantage of being on the CW? Look over the writers of The Flash and Arrow. You might recognize some names. They're comic book writers, like Geoff Johns, or Paul Dini (of the cartoon Batman from the early 90s). And you won't see them on Agent Carter or on Supergirl.

First rule of writing for a comic book show? You might want to know something about comic books.