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R.I.P. The LEFT Show and Hold 322*

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Bob's Bloviating, Hey Fanboy!, JC's Jocularity, Movies!, The World's Greatest Comic Book Podcast™ Hold 322!, This Week | 2 comments

Quick news update about The LEFT Show and Hold 322. Over at the Defenestrate Media Studios, where we record our weekly programs, our production computer, responsible for pretty much 90% of everything we produce, died. Died Hard. With a Vengeance. I spent all day yesterday trying to fix it with spare parts on hand, but, sadly, I called TOD last night around 11pm.

* I’ll try to piece something together this week, but, truth be told, I’m not optimistic at this time. It’s a money thing, really. Please feel free to share your remembrances and condolences on this thread, and I’ll get us back in the saddle ASAP. In the meantime, feel free to stop by GeekBox computers and buy us a new box from them, if you feel like it, which is what I should have done in the first place. OR feel free to click the box right there on the top right, and, maybe I can buy a few new parts to fix this poor box back to life.

Thanks folks!

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Yes, superhero movies are both welcome and needed, Mr. Queenan…

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in JC's Jocularity | 0 comments

In an article appearing in the UK’s The Guardian yesterday, Joe Queenan gave a snarkly analysis of the recent run of superhero movies. Whereas he was spot on with some of his criticisms, I have the following to say to him:

1. Michael Keaton leaving Batman wasn’t what killed the franchise back in the 90s. It was Joel Shumacher. Keaton didn’t look at the scripts and say, “these aren’t getting any better” based on some high sense of intellectual superiority. He looked at what Shumacher was proposing, saw that Tim Burton had lost enough interest in the studio system that he stepped into a producing role, and realized that Shumacher was going to fuck it up. Which he did.

2. The romance between Tobey Maguire and snaggle-tooth Dunst “felt quite believable”? It was the upside down kiss that did it for you, wasn’t it?

3. Watchmen was inept? Avengers was “an aimless hodgepodge?”

OK, I get it that this isn’t your cup of tea (see what I did there?), but what I really want to say is this… in the beginning, we had comic books. These books made us dream of a world much more magical than the world we lived in. Superman was mighty and undefeatable, but that required the writers to invent villains who could actually challenge him. As children, our critical thinking skills were first tested with the argument: Who could beat up Superman? We were forced to research and analyse characters and situations, all in fun, to come up with our response. We also had the magic of movies, but to make a man fly on film was not an easy feat to accomplish. We didn’t want to see the wires, or see his abdomen compressed by the blue-screen bench he had to lay on to pretend to fly, but that was all we had, and we let it go.

Campiness took over the genre with Batman on television, and although Christopher Reeves’ Superman tried to take itself more seriously, there was an expectation of some humor and over-the-top situations in the films. Still, it was all we had, so we made the best of it. But we still waited for our heroes. We finally started to see that with the Maguire’s Spider-Man, and although it wasn’t perfect, it was a step in the right direction. Downey’s Iron Man sealed the deal for us and we finally saw a superhero movie that both a. captured the spirit of the comics and b. featured realistic effects.

So now that we’re where we finally want to be with technology and story, can you let us have it for a while? 75 years is a long wait, dude.

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What If…?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in JC's Jocularity | 1 comment

WhatIf1For those who listened to our very special Hold 75, issue #75, I talked about how much I missed the once great Marvel Comic: What If…?

What If…? started it’s publishing history waaaaay back in 1977, featuring the story: “What If Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?”. This brilliant one-and-done issue took us to a world where Spider-Man got his wish from Amazing Spider-Man #1 and was allowed to join the Fantastic Four. How did this change FF history? You can now read this and few other startling issues, including the book that became cannon: “What if the Invaders had stayed together after World War II?”

What If…? continued until October 1984. The book, being mostly an impulse purchase for comic book readers and with the rise of the comic book store and “pull lists”, had dropped in sales, hence it’s cancellation.

b3_100279_0_WhatifIronManhadbeenatraitorNaturally there was some backlash from Marvellites, and Marvel decided to try and bring back the semi-popular mag. They published a one-off special: “What if Iron Man had been a traitor?”, which was an interesting story along the lines of the Manchurian Candidate (I have the issue). This was popular enough that Marvel Comics decided to bring back the book for a second volume that ran from July 1989 to November 1998. This series was, in my opinion, not as strongly written or drawn as the original, and a lot of experimentation was tried that didn’t always work, including dropping the overall “What If…?” question from the title (e.g., “What if Captain America hadn’t disappeared after World War II?” and adopted What If…? as a brand and lazily just put the name of the featured character on the cover.

Whatif105However, I do have to throw them one bone… an idea from long-time Marvel writer/editor, Tom DeFalco, was not only great, but had serious legs. His idea was, “What if the Marvel characters had aged with the decades since they were first published?” and introduced Peter Parker’s teenaged daughter, May (May-Day) Parker, who took on his Spider-Hero mantle as Spider-Girl. This proved such a popular concept, that DeFalco was able to write more stories about the other kids of the Marvel heroes, and started the MC2 line of comics.

After 1998, What If…? took a longer hiatus, and has since come back primarily in one-shots, each taking it’s own volume. Most of these have followed major events, like Annihilation, Civil War, and Planet Hulk. Though volume 4, which was likely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s 1602 and DC’s Elseworlds, featured an entire volume of Marvel heroes thrown into different historical events.

Marvel has continued to publish What Ifs for each of its events, and has even announced volume 10: What If…?: Avengers Vs X-Men, for which my fellow podcasters have finished the question: “What If Avengers Vs X-Men WAS GOOD?” So yeah, it’s still being published, but it feels like the hey-day is long since over, and perhaps the series truly should have ended in 1984… though MC2 might not have happened, which is another comic book line I miss… but then that’s another story…

Excelsior!

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