#49 – Two-Face

I believe in Harvey Dent and you should too.

Harvey Dent is a truly phenomenal character because of everything he represents for the Batman mythos. His role as Gotham’s white knight is what most people overlook due to the tragedy of his life after his accident. His transformation into Two-Face has been changed over the years but the two most famous versions of his origin were in Batman : The Animated Series and The Dark Knight, and rightly so. Each version takes a few liberties with the details but the classic story is that Harvey was a district attorney that cleaned up the streets of Gotham from the legal standpoint of the system. Whereas Batman was the one who would bring them to him, Harvey was the one who would put them away. In the Nolan films, Harvey was a man who had basically been destroyed by the corrupt nature of Gotham but it was Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel that gave us my personal favorite version of the story in Batman : The Animated Series Harvey had always had a struggle within himself between Harvey Dent and his split personality alter-ego : Big Bad Harv. It was when an accident scarred half his face and nearly killed him that he couldn’t separate the two personalities anymore and thus Two-Face was born.

Two-Face is on this list for a lot of reasons, he’s a perfect mirror image of the struggle for all of us. His coin being the only thing that truly controls his choices is one of the things that makes him compelling as a character. He always works best as a man who is a tragic character, he’s not someone who’s completely in control of himself and that’s why he works and why he’s on this list.

Comics 101: The Big Two

New to comics? Great! I have way too much information about the subject so I decided to do a series of articles on it. Last time, we discussed how comics are for everyone to enjoy and today we’ll be discussing the differences of the two primary comic companies: DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Most people are either a Marvel or a DC fan. I absolutely love both, they’ve both done amazing things for the industry as a whole and comics would not be where they are without them. Naturally I won’t be able to go over every detail of the two companies but I can at least get the basics down in this one and then build from there in future segments.  One of my first thoughts when starting this series was clearing up the who’s who of comic book characters and what company do they belong to. Why isn’t Batman a part of the Avengers? Why can’t Spider-Man join the Teen Titans? All of these questions and more will be answered soon enough.

In the mid 1930’s, comics weren’t anywhere near as big as they would become in the next five to ten years nor had anyone heard or thought of the concept of the superhero yet. Most of your comics were reprints of the comic strips you would find in the Sunday paper until a few smart businessmen, writers and artists started to publish their own material in the books. Now any comic fan or historian has their own choice of who did this first, was it Martin Goodman? Was it Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson or was it Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster’s Superman that was the first? In all honesty it’s anyone’s guess. That period of time had many other things to worry about such as the end of the great depression or the oncoming war in Europe that no one really focused on comics yet…but they soon would.

In 1937, Detective Comics premiered under National Publications. Now, this is an important title to remember for two reasons:

  1. It’s the comic where Batman got his start, 27 issues later.
  2. It’s the reason that same company would be called “DC”

DC is unquestionably the first of the major comic companies and as such, we’ll be talking about them first.

  • Major Heroes:
  • Wonder Woman
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Batgirl
  • Aquaman
  • Green Lantern
  • The Flash
  • Shazam
  • Green Arrow
  • Black Canary
  • Nightwing
  • The Teen Titans – Team
  • The Justice League – Team
  • Major Villains:
  • Lex  Luthor
  • The Joker
  • Sinestro
  • Black Adam
  • Deathstroke
  • Darkseid
  • Captain Cold
  • Black Manta
  • Ra’s Al Ghul
  • Harley Quinn
  • The Suicide Squad – Team
  • The Injustice League – Team

Throughout it’s extensive history DC has had some major landmark moments such as creating the Superhero genre, introducing some of the 20th century’s most endearing characters, starting the silver age of comics,(Showcase #4) buying up multiple comic companies in the 60’s and 70’s, (Thus, doubling their roster with the likes of Captain Marvel/Shazam, Blue Beetle and The Question) and of course, having the first major superhero film and show.(Batman ’66) It has naturally had to change with the times over the years, as is to be expected but by doing that they also revolutionized the same industry that they helped to create. What I’m primarily referring to is the idea of Multiverse.(I’ll be going more into that in Part 4 or 5 of Comics 101.) The basic premise of the idea is that there are multiple earths/universes happening simultaneously, some with small differences (like Clark Kent not becoming Superman until his mid twenties) and some with massive changes (like Clark Kent becoming Ultraman, an evil superpowered dictator.)  The main reason for this was to explain how there could be so many different versions of the same comic characters, like an older and younger Superman who are in the same universe but one of them is from a different earth…Which leads me to the main thing that separates DC from Marvel: Legacy Characters.

Legacy characters are a very important and key aspect to the infrastructure of DC comics. The main reasons for this is because almost every hero in DC has another hero before or after them. Whether it’s Nightwing, Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl or Aqualad they are the ones who will one day inherit what their mentors left behind. These characters have gone on to become some of DC’s biggest stars, Nightwing alone has gathered a huge following since he switched from Robin in 1984. Some could even say that some of these characters are more popular then their predecessors, prime example for this being Wally West being more popular as the Flash than Barry Allen. (Admittedly that last point could easily be contested but I’m just speaking in generalities based upon my generation’s love of Wally.)

DC Flourished throughout the years creating the first Superhero, the first superhero team,(The Justice Society of America) creating the first team of Teenagers,(The Teen Titans) making Batman the Dark Knight that he was meant to be,(Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams run in the 70’s), creating the first event comic,(Crisis On Infinite Earths) helping to make the 80’s one of the best decades for comics and of course, helping to make the 90’s almost unbearable to read. In 70 plus years, it’s been a great company that for better or for worse can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten or unread by any comic fan.

So why do the multiverse and legacy characters matter to DC but not to Marvel? Well the multiverse does matter to Marvel,(See 2015’s Secret Wars and the preceding Avengers and New Avengers runs by Jonathan Hickman) just not quite as much as it does to DC. As for the legacy characters, the thought process comes from the fact that Stan Lee didn’t really like Sidekicks. In his career, characters like Bucky Barnes and Rick Jones were really the only technical sidekicks he created. He always dealt more with the ideas of teams like X-Men, Fantastic Four and the Avengers.

Speaking of Marvel…let’s head on over to their side

  • Major Heroes:
  • Spider-Man
  • Captain America
  • Black Widow
  • Captain Marvel
  • Iron Man
  • Hulk
  • Wolverine
  • Hawkeye
  • Jessica Jones
  • Ant-Man
  • Black Panther
  • Daredevil
  • Avengers(Team)
  • X-Men(Team)
  • Fantastic Four(Team)
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy(Team)

 

  • Major Villains:
  • Red Skull
  • Loki
  • Venom
  • Green Goblin
  • Magneto
  • Thanos
  • The Mandarin
  • Kingpin
  • Dr. Octopus
  • Ultron
  • Dr. Doom
  • Mephisto
  • The Thunderbolts(Team of reformed villains so technically they’re anti heroes)
  • Masters Of Evil(Team)
  • Brotherhood of Evil Mutants(Team)
  • The Sinister Six(Team)

Marvel began back in the late 30’s as Timely Comics, creating characters like Namor and the first Human Torch and of course, Captain America. The main problem with the heroes of Marvel(and to some extent those of DC as well) was the fact that most of them began because of the second world war. So why have those heroes if there wasn’t a war? These were the questions that the companies would ask during the late 40’s and early 50’s. They took some characters and tried to adapt them into horror comics, which had horrendous consequences when Frederic Wertham tried to ban comics during the 50’s. It got bad enough that Marvel, which was currently called Atlas Comics, was about to go bankrupt and close the doors forever. Stan Lee, who was about to leave the company, was given free reign to write anything he wanted to and so he created a family of superheroes, the first family, the Fantastic Four and then Marvel became a global phenomenon. Character after character and story after story, Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Heck, Mantlo, Layton, Thomas, Aparo and the rest were building the company into something that would shape the the history of comics for the next 50 years.

Marvel has also had many great moments in their history such as bringing back Captain America,(Avengers #4) Creating the first Anti-Hero,(The Punisher) creating stories that feature real life events, (Amazing Spider-Man 98-100 where Peter tackles the growing problem of Drugs) creating the first main Graphic Novel,(The Death of Captain Marvel) utilizing the first cross media publication rights,(Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, ROM, Secret Wars and many others) helping to make the 80’s one of the greatest decades in comics and of course, helping to make the 90’s unbearable to read.

Overall, both of these companies have clearly given much to the lore and history of comics. For many fans, they are the only comics. I’ve loved both of them for very different reasons throughout the entirety of my life and I always will.

Next time on Comics 101 we get to talk about the films, how they got started, why certain characters can’t crossover and how they’ve affected the comic fandom as a whole. Did it help it or hurt it? Check back soon to find out.

#50 – The Court Of Owls

Starting us off is a recent character. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo started their run on the Batman title in 2011 and in their first year on the title they accomplished one of the most difficult feats of creating modern comics : Creating an interesting, lasting, dynamic villain.

The Court Of Owls are a force to be reckoned with. They are run by mysterious men and women wearing Owl masks that could be literally anybody and they command a nearly immortal army of assassins known as Talons. They use fear tactics to tell people what to do within Gotham and if they didn’t comply then they would send a Talon to kill them.

They target young recruits to be Talons, predominantly looking for orphans and runaways in Haly’s Circus. The Talons are trained to be deadly killers with special attributes as well as given a special serum that allows them an incredibly prolonged life.

In their first appearance in Batman, they’re angry that Bruce Wayne wants to build up parts of The Narrows, a run-down area of Gotham, and so they send him a few messages and ultimately send a Talon for him. Naturally, that doesn’t go well but then you begin to see that The Court isn’t like anything else Batman has ever faced. They truly have a grip on Gotham and it’s up to Batman to stop them.

Since then they’ve spread even further throughout DC, even forcing Nightwing to work for them and honestly that’s why they’re on this list : Because they’re so difficult to stop. They’ll never truly leave Gotham and that’s why the Bat family will always have to stop them.

The other reason The Court Of Owls is on my list is because they’re a new foe for Batman that will literally last for years. As a writer I’m already thinking of the Stories I could tell with them as the Villains. They’re terrifying, they make you think and they challenge our hero in a way that no other villain can and that’s what makes them compelling.

Comics 101 : What They Mean to Me

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that they want to get into comics but they have no idea how to or where to start. Well that’s where I come in. I like to consider myself an expert on the subject and would be happy to teach or guide you however I can. The comments section is open for a reason and you can always contact me on Facebook if anyone has any questions for me or my fellow writers. What I plan on doing in this series of article is going through the history, themes, stories and characters of comics. My hope is that instead of seeing 78 years and millions of issues to catch up on, you’ll find that comics are something that changes as much as the times around them. So let’s get down to it.

Comics are for all of us.

A few weeks ago, A friend of mine was asking questions about comics and he asked me a question that I hadn’t truly thought about : Why do you love Comics? It took me a while to answer him and I came up with 2 answers.

  1. I have to say that what I truly enjoy about comics is the idea of a Hero. Someone who is willing to drop everything and use the abilities they have to help others. Sure, there are anti-heroes and villains out there that I enjoy reading but at the heart of it, Heroes are my favorite part of comics.
  2. I love that there are comics for everyone, there’s a connection between everyone who reads that we are akin to the great world travelers but we, instead, have gone to other worlds and seen phenomenal things in our minds eye.

So how can others get in on this?

Well first and foremost, if you’re reading this then you can read comics. Congratulations! From the 3 year old learning words through an issue of Archie’s Digest  to the physicist that can’t wait for the next issue of Avatarex by Grant Morrison, comics are truly a medium that’s open for everyone and let me go ahead and make something abundantly clear to all of our readers : No matter what we say or how much we write against something, never let it affect your thinking about a subject. Seriously, do you like a comic that I hate? That’s awesome, let’s talk about it like good, intelligent people. No hate spewing or arguments that can’t go beyond “Ugh, it’s stupid.” I enjoy friendly debates but I can’t stand it when people don’t know how to defend their points. So knowing that this subject is open to all readers then let’s get started.

In Recent years Comics and their many characters have taken on a new life, primarily on our film and television screens, and it’s a great time to get in on the stories. The question of where to start is a very broad one but when it really comes down to it, it’s up to you: The Reader. Who are your favorite characters? Which ones interest you? Are there certain creators or storylines you’ve heard of? These are the questions that everyone asks sooner or later and I was no different. Growing up in the late 90’s and early 00’s Marvel was at a cinematic Golden Age with The early X-Men and Spider-Man films being received fairly well by critics and fans alike but none of that really mattered to an 8 year old. I loved seeing the different characters interact and I watched shows like Justice League and X-Men : Evolution every chance I could and I craved more of these wild, ambitious stories. So I went to the library and picked out two books that would ultimately change my entire life and really be the first stepping stones to leading us here : Essential X-Men Vol. 2 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin and Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, using these books I learned more about the X-Men and the Marvel universe as a whole. You have to begin with what is familiar to you and to what you enjoy. So when it comes to reading older stories the best thing to do is pick up a few of characters that you love and go from there. Not everything’s gonna be great but you never know until you read it.

So, in closing out this first segment, read what looks good. You just have to start somewhere, I’m gonna give you a few titles that are great for first timers and might give you a good starting point for some great characters. If you don’t like these then try out a few different ones. Like I said, Comics are for everyone.

Recommended Reading

Marvel Comics :

Hawkeye : My Life as A Weapon by Matt Fraction and David Aja.

This is a great opening arc of a fairly short run of comics that focuses on what Clint Barton does when he’s not with the Avengers. He’s still great and although his personal life is very different than it is in the films but it’s still pretty accessible for new readers.

Marvels By Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

This is a great book for literally anyone. The art in it is similar to a still life painting and the characterization is exceptional. Busiek makes you care for Phil Sheldon as you would any of the main Marvel characters and you get to see a different side of the story, The side of the civilians and their reactions to the many different strange and wondrous things that happen in the long history of the Marvel universe.

Marvel Masterworks : Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Here is where you’ll get a great start on Spider-Man and you get to read some stories by “The Man” himself. The first few issues in this Graphic Novel have some great villainous appearances from the likes of Doctor Octopus, The Lizard, Sandman, The Chameleon and many others.

DC Comics :

Superman : Secret Origin by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

I’m a bit biased on this one because this is probably my second or third favorite comic story of all time. It’s a story split up into six different parts each focusing on a different aspect of Superman’s life. Starting with his time as Superboy and leading up to him finally saving Metropolis and changing the town for the better. It’s a good introduction of the characters surrounding Superman like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and villains like Metallo and Parasite. The true power of this story comes from the characterization of Superman and Lex Luthor, Luthor will always be my favorite DC Villain and this story is one of the main reasons for that. He is the antithesis to Superman in every way possible and I think that’s why he works so well, even if he’s written in the light of someone trying to be a better person he still goes about it in a way that is completely different from the way Clark would handle it. This story is just an all around great introduction to every character featured in it.

Batman : Zero Year by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Going from one of my favorites to one of WiseSage’s favorites. Scott Snyder is clearly the greatest writer of modern comics, This will be viewed as blasphemy to many readers and I can understand that you may like other writers better but you can’t deny that Snyder is the King. This story is arguably his best, It’s a newer origin for Batman but it works so well because it doesn’t focus on the boy in the alley, it focuses on the man in the mansion. Instead of rehashing scene after scene of the pearls dropping he gets into the head of a man who has to overcome a terrible tragedy and become the hero that his city needs. I also love that it uses flashbacks to tell the origin instead of telling it chronologically, it works really well and makes it exciting and accessible to read.

New Teen Titans Vol. 1 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez

My generation had Teen Titans on Cartoon Network and now a younger generation has Teen Titans Go! both are great in my opinion for vastly different reasons but that’s an article for another time. The stories in this book are a great start for anyone looking to read some great Teen Titans fun, It starts off by bringing the team together and then it was during a time where each issue had a different villain so you get a good summary of their rogues gallery throughout the series.

Fandom Review – January 2017

So here’s all the stuff that happened in the first month of the new year that you may have missed :

Fandom Correspondents

First and foremost : Thanks once again to everyone for making this a great first year of the Fandom Correspondents, it’s been great writing for you guys and I can’t say how much I have appreciated the support I’ve felt.

Fandom Nights went over incredibly well at CYO Brewing and we’ll definitely be having another event soon enough which I will post about as soon as something is official.

Also wanted to give everybody a heads up that we are now on Instagram : @FandomCorrespondents so go ahead and follow us over there.

Trailers

This month new featured trailers for three major films that are coming out this year : Logan, Power Rangers and Beauty and the Beast. These trailers all showed a good amount of scenes from the films which I wasn’t upset about for Beauty and the Beast due to the film being a remake of a Disney classic, we know what the story is and we know where it’s going so if the trailer shows a bit too much then no harm, no foul.

This was not the case with Power Rangers and Logan.

This is the first time that we’ve seen the Power Rangers on the big screen since 1995 so why did they show us everything in this new trailer? They left nothing for the big screen because as I was watching it I was thinking : “Well there’s the suits, there’s Zordon and there’s Rita Repulsa. Well at least I can wait before seeing the zor-…nope there they are too.” I understand showing a few things to get people excited but this trailer showed us everything, It’s the Batman V. Superman trailer style all over again.

Now Logan is a different breed of trailer, they didn’t show us everything but they did show us the turning point of the film. If you watched the trailers and had been guessing as to if the girl was X-23 or Hope Summers or someone else entirely then I’m sorry that they showed you the answer before they finished asking the question. You literally had two months to wait and you were worried that if you didn’t show X-23 that you were going to lose money? I mean I get that she’s gonna be an awesome tiny wolverine girl but how cool would her introduction have been if we didn’t know it was coming? They did the same thing with Wolverine in X-Men : Apocalypse(which, like every fox superhero movie besides First class, gets worse with each viewing. Don’t believe me? Rewatch any of them and you’ll see that they’re incredibly dated) His cameo was one of maybe 3 redeemable qualities about that movie but it’s effect was lost cause I knew it was coming.

Bottom Line : Power Rangers doesn’t look great but it might be fun to watch, Logan could still be awesome but one major scene has already been spoiled and Beauty and the Beast looks great and showed just enough for a remake.

DC Films

Oh lord, here we go.

It has been a very interesting and telling few weeks for DC Films. First they have officially announced David S. Goyer and Justin Rhodes as the screenwriters for Green Lantern Corps.

It’s being described as Lethal Weapon in Space with Hal Jordan showing John Stewart the ropes. I’m perfectly fine with that due to the fact that that’s exactly what I would’ve done for the next Green Lantern Film if I was writing it. Now, I don’t know Justin Rhodes from anything so I’m giving him a fair chance as a writer but Goyer has proven time and time again that he has no idea what he’s doing with a script. He writes to make money and because of it he can’t tell a compelling story. If you don’t believe in your work then it’s going to show in the finished product. I don’t know what DC is thinking by hiring him again.

Next up is Aquaman. The Aquaman film has added quite a few different people since last I looked. The last time I checked on it was when they revealed the first pic of Amber Heard as Mera. They have since added Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta. I’m very excited about these two because Wilson is basically fan casting and I love Black Manta as a character. I’ve never seen Mateen in anything but I’m sure that he’ll do a good job. I believe that James Wan(Director) can handle this film well if he had a better guiding hand but unfortunately they DC and Warner Bros. still don’t have a solid leading producer or writer.

Which leads me to my final point…

Ben Affleck has officially stepped down as director of The Batman. He will still help produce, co-write and star in the film. What does this mean for the film and the studio? To me, it means that they’re in trouble. It sounds like they have no idea what they’re doing with these films : Flash has already gone through three different directors, each film is considered a financial failure after it’s initial first weekend and now it’s flagship character’s film is getting crazier every day. It would make a lot of sense for Affleck to want to cut and run as quick as he can due to the problems that are rumored and the things that go on behind closed doors at WB. I’m legitimately concerned that we’re going to see Justice League part 1 as the last DC film we’ll see for a while.

Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi has come out and said that this next season will be his last with Steven Moffat leaving as showrunner as well. I haven’t seen much of Capaldi’s run and the episodes that I have seen have shown that he’s a genuinely great actor but he just never came up to par with the previous three Doctors. No word on who will be the 14th doctor but the role of showrunner will go to Chris Chibnall right after he finishes the third season of Broadchurch

X-Men

Well the X-Men have certainly been interesting recently.

  • The X-Men line-up of Comics will be rebooting this March with brand new creative teams and stories. This could be a great thing for them and it’s good to show that Marvel isn’t quite as petty towards Fox as I thought…or maybe they are, eh time will tell.
  • The New Mutants is supposed to start production in May of this year with only rumors flying around about who will play which characters. Supposedly Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy will be playing Wolsbane and Magick which would be pretty cool. I’m interested in seeing how they handle this spinoff.
  • The next X-Men film will most likely be set in the 90’s and be about the Dark Phoenix Saga. These theories come from the working titles of the films such as “Supernova” and “Teen Spirit” The film is expected to start production in May of this year.
  • Legion is the latest comic book show to be released. It will be premiereing tomorrow night on FX and I’m a little hesitant about it but the early reviews are great so I’ll give it a shot. Fox has also ordered for an X-Men pilot episode to be shot later this year from Bryan Singer. I’m not a big fan of Singer as a filmmaker but for some reason the studio loves him and judging from his work on House maybe TV is just where he does best.

The Defenders

The defenders haven’t revealed nearly as much as typical shows and films and I’m 100% ok with that. The few set photos they’ve released have shown us nothing but I’m still giddy at getting to see Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones meet for the first time. We still don’t know what villain Sigourney Weaver is playing and I’m just currently assuming that the name “Alexandra” is a red herring for someone else. I’ll try to keep everyone updated throughout the year as we get to closer to the release of the show.

One thing we did today was this awesome new Iron Fist trailer. I love the effects of the iron fist and I love the connections with Madame Gao and Daredevil. Can’t wait to see this awesome new show.

La La Land

And my final point of this article, I finally have a film worth backing in the best picture category. Although I’ve enjoyed many of the previous Best Picture winners La La Land outshines them all in my opinion. If I wasn’t so much of a comic book nerd over Civil War then this film would’ve been my favorite film of the year. Yup, that means that I just said that La La Land is better than Rogue One.

I’m not going to spoil the film but La La Land truly brings back a flair for old hollywood that no one has come close to touching in the last few years. Gosling and Stone give probably the best performances of their careers and their talents need to be seen to be believed. At only 32 with two Oscar nominated films already under his belt it looks like Damien Chazelle is set up to be the next big director and writer on the scene. Of course, it’s easy to see why once you watch this and Whiplash. Both films are rather simplistic but they’re very character driven and have some truly great scenes in them. I genuinely loved so much about this movie and I fully suggest to everyone who loves film.

 

That does it for this month, check back when you can for more updates on all the stuff we love!