I have been frequently awed by Ta-Nehisi Coates's thoughtful observations on politics and race in America. But I'll be honest: I was somewhat disappointed by his first run of Black Panther comics. It felt, to me, more like a Coates essay accompanied by some action sequences. The ideas were there, and the art by Brian Stelfreeze was spectacular, but it just didn't grip me as a dramatic narrative. (His Captain America, illustrated by Leinil Francis Yu and others, has left me similarly cold.)
Fortunately, Coates is a certified MacArthur genius, and a deft enough writer that he learned on the job with an impressive swiftness. I read the first eighteen issues of Coates and Daniel Acuña's epic Black Panther space opera The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda in just two days, and am eager to devour the rest once it's available (I read most of my comics on Marvel Unlimited).
So to tide myself over, I decided to check out Coates's brief run on Black Panther and the Crew with illustrator Butch Guice. A nod to or revival of Christopher Priest's similarly Panther-inspired 2003 series, The Crew, the comic brings T'Challa to Harlem, in a loose team-up with some other Harlem-affiliated superheroes, including Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Storm from the X-Men. It's an intergenerational story about Black liberation and revolution, that begins with the death of an elderly Black activist in police custody during a series of ongoing protests against racist police brutality. The conspiracy at the heart of the murder mystery organically weaves in gentrification, astroturfed agitators undermining protests, and algorithmic policing that's never as unbiased as it claims. Read the rest
I've been writing overly-melodramatic rock n' roll bangers about comic books with long-ass titles for at least 15 years now. I had thought that I had achieved the pinnacle of this with my band's upcoming record. Tentatively titled, "A Collection of Songs About Comics Books and Mid-30s Malaise," it will include a dark synth-pop tune about Cyclops called "Every Girl Is An Apple," as well as a Cars-esque jam about Hawkeye called "My Life as a Weapon." This all of course follows up on our first not-so-big hit, "Face It, Tiger (You Just Hit The Jackpot)."
Unfortunately, my friend John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats may have beat me to the punch with (deep breath) "The Proliferation of Marvel Universe Timelines Has Made It Impossible For Me to Use Search Engines to Determine Which Issue From the 70s Had Loki Predicting the Immanence of Ragnarok In Its Final Panel But It Certainly Wasn’t #272, or, New Mountain Goats Tape Song."
That's it. That's the song title. It almost takes as long to say as the song itself takes to play.
I'm not sure which shames me more: that John has defeated me on long titles and obscurity, or that I actually don't know which Thor comic he's referencing here.
Either way, the song is a delight, and the Mountain Goats will be releasing a new lo-fi cassette tape from quarantine this Friday, the kind of hissy 4-track recordings upon which the band built its cult following in the 90s and early 00s before expanding their lineup and recording quality. Read the rest
Marvel found a lot of success with their street-level Netflix series, focusing on those less-super superheroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Across town, Batman has always been one of the most beloved DC heroes, more because of his lack of powers than despite them.
Now, Comixology's original digital-only publishing line is offering their own twist on the gritty powerless superhero genre with The Black Ghost. Written by comics and crime writer (and Archie Comics co-president) Alex Segura and comic writer/artist Monica Gallagher with art by Marco Finnegan and George Kambadais, the comic follows a bitter alcoholic beat reporter named Lara Dominguez, whose obsession with a local vigilante called the Black Ghost gets her wrapped up in multilevel crime syndicate that has its eyes as much on real estate and media as it does in petty crimes. It feels like both an origin story, and a chapter in a larger story that's been going on for years — just like a good superhero comic should.
The story takes place in a city called Creighton. And while we don't know where exactly that is (the protagonist's former life in Miami has followed her to this new dying city), the grey skies and crumbling buildings could be almost any fading former factory hub along the East Coast. As I read, I kept thinking of it as the Bridgeport version of Gotham City or Metropolis — generic, but accessible, and fleshed out just enough to make it feel lived-in and real.
From the first issue, it's clear that The Black Ghost is going to shamelessly lean into the tropes of the genre — but with just enough inversions of expectations. Read the rest
Superman's cape, as worn by Christopher Reeve in Superman (1978), sold at auction yesterday for $193,750. From Julien's Auctions:
Includes a copy of Superman #331, which advertises on a banner above the front cover logo “YOU COULD BE A WINNER IN THE SECOND SUPERMAN MOVIE CONTEST!” Within the comic book is a full-page advertisement for the contest that lists “FIRST PRIZE” as “THE ACTUAL CAPE WORN BY CHRISTOPHER REEVE IN THE FILMING OF SUPERMAN THE MOVIE!..."
Accompanied by nine pages of supporting documents of authenticity, including a letter to the winning recipient of the cape, signed by DC Comics President Sol Harrison and dated February 27, 1978, and a letter from DC Comics’ Steven Korte to Sotheby’s, New York, dated October 21, 1997.
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It's not the The New Adventures of Wonder Woman that I grew up with but it does have that Stranger Things/mallwave appeal, and a New Order song. It also has Steve Trevor who most certainly died in the first film but no matter.
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Disney CEO Bob Iger made $65.6M last year, 1,424 times that of the median Disney employee (a situation that Walt Disney's grand niece called "insane") -- and last weekend, Disney's movie Avengers: Endgame broke all opening records, bringing in $1.2B.
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I enjoyed the first two movies from the current round of X-Men flicks. Mutants causing the Cuban Missile Crisis? Love it. Wolverine traveling back to the 1970s to try and stop a future holocaust AND contend with a waterbed? Totally enjoyable--although I far preferred Chris Claremont and John Byrne's Days of Future Past over what the film had to offer.
X-Men: Apocalypse? Eh, not so much. The pacing was weird as hell and I can't help but feel that Oscar Issac was wasted under way too much makeup.
I'm hoping that the latest installment in the series will be a return to form. For better or worse, this'll be the last X-Men movie we'll be able to lay our eyeballs on before Marvel Studios has a chance to bring their spin to the franchise. Who's in? Read the rest
An Iron Man suit from the original 2008 film is missing. Apparently the $325,000 suit disappeared from a Los Angeles warehouse in recent months. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Employees at the warehouse 'just happened to check' Tuesday and noticed the costume was gone."
As of press time, Stane has not responded to requests for comment.
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Lexi Alexander is the German-Palestinian world kickboxing champ who moved to the US when Chuck Norris helped her get a Green Card; after helping the US Army develop its unarmed combat training program and working as a stuntwoman, she became a virtuoso action-film director, starting with indie movies and working her way up to directing Punisher: War Zone, making her the first -- and, as of now, only -- woman to direct a Marvel adaptation. Read the rest
The iconic bat-signal will shine on the tower of Los Angeles City Hall tonight in memory of Adam West, the (best) Batman actor who died on Saturday. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetii and L.A. Police Department Chief Charlie Beck will flip the switch at 9pm at City Hall. From the Hollywood Reporter:
For fans who can't make it to the ceremony, West's family is encouraging people to donate to the Adam West Memorial Fund for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donations can also be made to Camp Rainbow Gold, an Idaho-based charity for children battling cancer.
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Wonder Woman hits theaters June 2. Looks like a rather intense three hours, yet I still wish it was Lynda Carter, in her satin tights, fighting for our rights, and the old Red, White and Blue.
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Hey Crackpot, here's a message from Batman! Read the rest
Last night, Lan Diep held Captain America's shield during his swearing in as a San Jose, California city councilman. From NBC Bay Area:
Diep, a Republican legal aid attorney, received cheers after he said "I do solemnly swear" when the clerk asked if he would defend his oath of office. His final vote of his first meeting? Joining the council in unanimously banning the communist Vietnamese flag from flying in San Jose.
In an interview after the meeting, the proud comic book geek and Houston-born son of Vietnamese refugees said that Captain America stands for the "kinds of things I strive for: equal justice, fair play and democracy."
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When ex-CIA agent Tom King teamed up with a group of extremely talented writers to reboot Marvel's "Vision" in 2015, he had a lot of material to work with -- the character had begun as a kind of super-android in the 1940s and had been reincarnated many times, through many twists and turns: what King & Co did with Vision both incorporated and transcended all that backstory, in an astounding tale that Ta-Nehisi Coates called "the best comic going right now." With the whole run collected in two volumes
, there's never been a better time to see just how far comic storytelling can go.
Mary (AKA @sapphicgeek) works in an Indiana comic shop, and Saturday, she met a customer, a distraught teen girl, looking for Supergirl. Read the rest
On Friday, the Ohio State Marching Band performed this fantastic halftime show right at the intersection of two powerful geek subcultures: comic fans and band geeks.
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