Thursday, January 19, 2017

Superhero Media: Deadpool - Wade Wilson's War

Just when Deadpool started to get big, I started to be asked by people which comics were the best reading for the character. Thing is, I've never really cared for Deadpool, as I came across him through 1990s X-Men comics and he was just some gag character that distracted from the plot. I was raised on Leslie Nielsen and Mel Brooks films, so the fourth-wall brakes weren't new and shocking for me, just pale imitations of what I already knew. I finally began to like the character when I was loaned some Deadpool & Cable comics; Wade was finally balanced against the seriousness of Nate and both were made better for it. To this day I maintain that Deadpool comics are, at best, 60% worth reading; Wade Wilson's War is not in that percentage. It's not that funny, makes little sense and doesn't add to the characters in any significant way. 

The framing is one of those of the "story within a story within a story" type that rarely turns out as clever as the artist is going for, plus an unreliable narrator means that the narrative may or may not have happened. So it's a book where we're not sure who is telling the story and the story may just be all made up anyway; it's not a bad idea, just probably not ideal for established characters in the Marvel Universe. Yes, part of Deadpool's strength as a character stems from his flexibility, but add in Domino, Silver Sable and Bullseye and the whole thing gets shot to pieces rather quickly. Did Sable really need to be part of Weapon X for this? She's a Spider-man ally/antagonist with an already interesting backstory, seems like there could have been several, much better, choices. I don't like it when writers try to give Bullseye a "real name", Logan got ruined that way, let's not let it happen to too many more comic badarses, ok?

Want to read good Deadpool? Get Deadpool & Cable or Marvel NOW! Deadpool, don't go to this, or start mining Essentials for his first few appearances. I rarely say this, but the pop culture exposure for the character has been a boon; Ryan Reynolds has been good for Deadpool and Marvel and I hope the influence continues for a while. After all, even if I'm not that keen on the character, I'd rather good Deadpool to read than a dull mess like Wade Wilson's War. One for the obsessives and no one else, give it a miss. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Minitaures Finished: A Telling Six

You know that you've painted a lot of supers miniatures when you get to Jack Flag and Animal Man. A friend suggested I get all my supers out and take a photo, but I need to find a really big table before I even consider that. 

 Shredder, Jack Flag and Nightcrawler. 

Another Ultron (Ultron Unlimited is just too tempting an idea), Animal Man and Kilowog. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Superhero Media: Kick-Ass 2

I try not to do series out of order, but this one kind of ended up this way. I don't care much for Kick-Ass (the film, I've yet to read the graphic novel), it was sold to me as "the gen-y Watchmen", but I found it to be no better than a gen-y Blade. It was ok, just lacking any of the real substance that it was going for, nothing original was added to the Superhero genre and it couldn't be as postmodern as it needed to be. More on that when I get to it though. Kick-Ass 2 is better than it's predecessor, the story makes more sense, character development is more rational and the villain is... still shit actually, but shit in less annoying ways. The big problem with both films is that Kick-Ass is not the protagonist. Sure, the film is framed around him, but he doesn't undertake the major events of the plot; in the first film, Big Daddy is the hero, he as the motivation, his is the nemesis and he drives the plot. In Kick-Ass 2, it's Hit Girl that is undergoing changes and finding her place in the world; it's not always about fighting either, she has to negotiate the adolescent world that her father never prepared her for. 

If "Hit Girl vs Puberty" doesn't sound all that interesting to you, I don't blame you, I wouldn't have thought that I would enjoy it as much as I did before I saw it. However, it is the moments where Hit Girl is trying to negotiate a situation as mundane as the High School Cafeteria, with no social markers or concepts of how to do so that are not related to violence and combat that the character truly shines. Yes, some of it is played for laughs, but that fits the style of the film; the scene where Hit Girl uses a martial arts routine to audition for gymnastics is inspired and probably one of the greatest moments in the series. Also, the erstwhile mentor figure of the film, Colonel Stars and Stripes, is later revealed to be a former Mob hitter looking for redemption; yet another character more interesting that Kick-Ass. I know Jim Carey distanced himself from the film, but even without him a spin-off Colonel Stars and Stripes origin film would be great to watch.

I know that Kick-Ass has its fans and that I'm in the minority, but I can't say that it's won me over. The possible Kiss-Ass 3 tease at the end of this film promises something that I'm not sure I want, with the focus on Kick-As' continuing journey as a superhero, I'd rather explore the other characters in the setting and build a bigger and more interesting world. I'd rather see the origin story for Big Daddy or Colonel Stars and Stripes, or what Hit Girl ends up doing with her life and the skills she possesses. There is room to move away from the original film and I feel that the opportunity should be explored, rather than just build on Kick-Ass' lack of character. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Miniatures Finished: Odd Team-ups

Steady progress on the big pile of supers to be painted. 

 Weasel, Phyla Vell and a wild Golem bulk out the roster of heroes.

 Slash, The Destroyer Armour and Purple Man make for some dangerous villains. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Superhero Media: Tank Girl

I have rarely heard anything good about this film, it was something of a late night television staple in the late 1990s, the kind of thing you'd watch with your mates with a few drinks back before DVDs had really taken off. When I sat down to watch, I was honestly expecting another trashy and forgettable film that I would regret watching. Now, I have never actually read any Tank Girl comics, so I only had a vague inkling as to what the concept and story were about, so don't expect too much comparison to the original work. Remember my Catwoman review when I discussed the interplay between sexuality as it is perceived by a male audience and third wave feminism? Well, Tank Girl actually manages to achieve what Catwoman fails so miserably at; Tank Girl (the character, not the film) is, from the word go, pure female power fantasy. She is competent, deadly, owns her own sexuality, master of her own destiny and utterly unshakeable, even the the face of a group of armed men threatening to gang-rape her. 

Watching Tank Girl take down an entire megacorp using only her friends, a gaudy tank and her wits is a lot of fun, but it's clearly not intended to be taken seriously. The whole film is an anarchic romp with a "girl power" filter that actually works really well if taken in the spirit in which it is intended. Don't get me wrong, the film has many problems; Lori Petty can be a bit much at the best of times, running roughshod over her lines and chewing the scenery at Orson Welles levels. Malcolm McDowell is good, but never as good as he was in A Clockwork Orange, so par for the course really. Ice T and most of the other Kangaroo mutants are a lot of fun, though their origin is sidelined and the death of their creator dropped in to work as a McGuffin so that they help with the final raid on Water and Power. I really enjoyed the last vestige of government being a utilities department, such a nice spin on the traditional Post-Apoc FBI, CIA or whatever still trying to run things. There is a lot to enjoy here, despite the flaws and I'd have to recommend it for anyone who's yet to see it.

We need more punk rock, feminist superhero movies, especially now. As the world seems intent on descending into a Neo-Conservative quagmire of racism, Queer phobia and state-sanctioned misogyny. Characters like Tank Girl, Ramona Flowers, Captain Marvel and Traci-13 need to come to the fore and kick some arse so that the generation that grows up with this New World Order of intolerance learns that revolt is not only permissible, but required of them. Tank Girl is far from perfect, in fact, it's more than a bit of a mess, but it's the best example of what it is that we currently have. Definitely worthy of a look, or another look if you've seen it before. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Meanwhile, in another universe... again...

Looks like my fellow club member has also done a report on the battle we fought, check it out here: 

Enjoy! And follow Neil's blog, it's pretty great! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Superhero Media: Inspector Gadget (1999)

This is a terrible film. It's a prime example of a cheap Disney cash-in on a property that they've acquired and need to squeeze some quick cash out of. The plot is basic, the acting mostly terrible and the CGI not great, even for the era. It doesn't take a great amount of experience with cinema to recognise that Inspector Gadget is trash, but when I started to research other reviews of the film, yes, I do research for these sometimes, the main complaint I could find was that it took too many liberties with the source material, the original animated series. Now, I remember having an Inspector Gadget toy, so I must have watched the programme, but I could not recall any of it, so I had to go back and watch a couple of episodes to get a feel for it; I picked a couple randomly and gave them a watch. 

The cartoon is garbage. I know it's something of a sacred cow for a certain generation, but if you're the kind of person that complains about Team Rocket "blasting off" in every episode of Pokemon, get over it, because Inspector Gadget is just as repetitive and formulaic. So, we have a garbage, but fondly remembered, kids programme from the 1980s, with a live-action Disney retreading that clearly no one cared about, even slightly. No wonder this is terrible. It's played for cheap laughs, has a cartoonish appearance and is cut poorly. Is there anything good in here, or do we have another Super Buddies on our hands? Well, the costume actually looks pretty good, even the LED ticker display on Gadget's hat, so, visually, at least, a live adaptation is workable. I like the idea of an evil imposter Gadget, even if the execution is terrible here. While watching this, one odd idea kept popping into my head that I just couldn't shake...

I would watch a "dark and gritty" Inspector Gadget live action reboot. Yes, I may rail against the 1990s/2000s trend to "darken" the colourful characters of superhero comics (which DC and WB still seem intent on doing), but this character, I feel, would not merely fail to be terrible with such a treatment, but may even improve slightly. I won't go into too much detail here, stay tuned for my new "The Pitch" entries, but, suffice to say, an incompetent, cyborg detective thrown into a more realistic setting, having to deal with modern crime and criminals, could make an interesting film, unlike this shit.