Purging the stereotype of 1990’s comics

I watched this video about Marvel’s pretty dismal reboot of some of their titles back in the 90’s, and on the whole its fine but uses the lazy stereotype of 90’s comics being all bulging Liefeldesque characters and really, not very good.

It seems to be the view of Millennial commentators that the 90’s were crap but the truth is the 90’s were probably the decade where one could still be surprised by what the mainstream would do with even Marvel producing quality work at the end of a decade where the majority of their output was instantly forgettable

Say the 90’s to a certain age and type of fan and they’ll think of Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man or Spawn, Jim Lee’s X Men or Image work, but many will think instantly of this piece by Rob Liefeld .

There’s nothing defensible about that piece. In every way it is awful It represents a small part of 90’s comics. It doesn’t represent say, Preacher, Sandman, The Invisibles, Grendel, Love and Rockets, Sin City, Concrete, Nexus, Yummy Fur, From Hell, Bone and Hate plus many, many other titles showed a real diversity when one walked into a comic shop.Even mainstream superhero titles weren’t all bad with Marvels, Kingdom Come and enjoyable runs on Batman stood out in a decade where you could still get a variety in terms of comics.

But of course there were piles and piles of trash much of which still live in dealers 50p boxes but as a decade, the 90’s were more diverse and adventurous than most of your YouTube generation critics give it credit for. Indeed one could make the argument that it was a golden decade for comics and personally, I like to think it was as the number of great comics that came from that decade after the Cold War and before the War on Terror.

What happens is though, that there’s an assumption for history from people that look only at it from one point of view which is often the view of the lazy consensus. As is often the case the truth is more revealing, not to mention interesting than the commonly accepted view of it.

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Britain is broken and people are too scared to admit it

There’s a point today that for many people summed up just how Britain is now in the world. It was the brief, and angry discussion between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker about how ‘nebulous’ May, and the UK as a whole, have been in regards Brexit. As many people predicted waaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2016 the last few months in the run-up to the UK leaving the EU is utter and total carnage as the very democracy of the UK falls apart.

We have a Westminster government that’s lost the ability to govern. A PM who quite literally changes rules or runs away from things in order to protect her job, and her job is being threatened by a group of Tory MP’s with shadowy backgrounds led by Jacob Rees Mogg who is himself being backed by the far right. As for the far right, they’re empowered like never before but thanks to Brexit and the bullshit about ‘the will of the people’, nobody with any real power is interested in putting them back in their place bar anti-fascist groups.

Meanwhile we have an official UK opposition desperately triangulating in order to scoop up Remain and Leave votes, but Labour is led by a lifelong Leaver so is avoiding any chance of a general election til after the UK leaves the EU so he can avoid shouldering the blame for leaving. Like the Tories, Labour offer unicorns aplenty as do the People’s Vote, who although has a vast number of grassroots supporters has become clearer it’s offering Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar no way out should they again vote to remain and England votes to leave. Wales may switch sides but it’s devolved government is led by a staunch Leaver.

The EU have hit the end of their patience. They don’t want a situation where the UK leaves with no deal but they’ve been spending two years preparing for the situation so it’ll hurt but nowhere near as badly as it’ll hurt people in the UK. The short version as to how badly is basically people will die who don’t need to but because Brexit was never, ever about taking back control of trade (and imagine a UK trying to negotiate trade deals with all of the world in a few short months after this mess) but about English/British nationalism, the hatred of immigrants and British exceptionalism/colonialism that still places Britain at the centre of the universe.

But that went pop today. There is no return to Empire. The EU don’t need us more than we need them. They won’t change their minds. This is it. The UK voted to leave. Deal with it.For many of us that’s exactly what we’ll be doing for possibly the rest of our lives. Even an out of Scottish independence will be preceded by merry hell.

So merry Christmas. We’re fucked.The quicker we all admit it the easier it might be when the shite hits.

How British politics is tonight

Work out for yourselves which character is Brexiter, Remainer, Tory, Labour or whatever but the Tim Roth character bleeding to death on the floor is us poor bastards watching the utter fucking clownshow that is UK politics spew out daily insults to us.

Still, can’t get any worse. Well, til tomorrow at least.

What I thought of Doctor Who series 11

Jodie Whittaker’s first season is over and overall this new direction (which it isn’t, more on that later) is overall pretty good. Stripping away the lairs in often incomprehensible plotlines that would often lead nowhere has freed up the programme to just tell stories again, and for the first three episodes it did that as well as the series has ever done. After that things became patchy.

Rosa is in my mind a fantastic bit of Doctor Who that lives up to the original idea of retelling history for younger viewers, while something like Kerblam! is a reminder of the worst days of the Colin Baker/Sylvester McCoy years. All the other episodes come between them with about half being above average to excellent and the rest ranging from the aforementioned rubbish of Kerblam! to the sheer averageness of It Takes You Away.

Part of the problem is Chris Chibnall. In replacing Stephen Moffat he’s simplified things and taken the show back to it’s roots so that’s why so many of this season’s episodes feel like condensed classic serials; The Doctor and crew land in a strange place/time. Encounter something odd. Investigate it. Find out the problem/culprit/monster. Solve it in a neat bow, and barring a brief coda that’s your episode.  Now that’s great most of the time but all the time? Back to basics doesn’t have to mean making the stories basic, which considering the possibilities of a female Doctor has barely been explored.  In fact there’s little character development going on with the Doctor’s likeable set of companions with one exception. Tosin Cole and Mandip Gil both do good work with what thin gruel they often got, but the massive shock is discovering Bradley Walsh can’t just act, but has become the emotional and moral heart of the programme.

What about The Doctor? Well, Whittaker is excellent often adding things into episodes which do seem scripted as she plays the Doctor not as the broken, lost thing trying to be good that Peter Capaldi did, or the boyish hero of Matt Smith, but more like Peter Davison’s often uncertain Fifth Doctor, but there’s this gap in the centre of her performance created by scripts too scared to deal with the change of gender head on. I hope Whittaker isn’t let down by scripts as Capaldi and Smith were, and I hope after this seasons reboot she’s allowed to tackle something stronger than she’s had to deal with at times this season.

Overall though the series is vastly improved. The new musical score from Segun Aginola is superb as it ditches the pompous orchestral score for something weirder, while the new production values are excellent to see even though they’d ran out of money by the last episode so relied on a quarry in Wales to see them to the end. The basics are there as are the viewers but it needs beefing up and although the attempts to create new villains is only really successful with the Stenza, the New Year’s Day episode promises the return of the Doctor’s oldest villains…

So, as a series it’s back on track. If however we’re only getting this small amount of episodes a year I’l hope next year sees a, increase in overall quality to take Whittaker’s Doctor to a new level because with the right scripts she could very well be one of the best there’s been.

Avengers: Endgame is the blandest title ever!

After months of building up tension and excitement the new Avengers film has a trailer and title, and behold the name is AVENGERS! er, Endgame?!

Really?

Marvel have been good in using the comics for titles, which apparently has been nice for ageing creators who’ve ended up with a nice cheque and indeed, the name Annihilation was being thrown around and it’s a good, final, dramatic name.

But nah, we get Endgame, which sounds so bland it should be the name of a cheap margarine rather than a film which will make billions of squillions because it’s following Infinity War and is the end of the first decade of Marvel’s rise from risk taker (and in 2018 it is forgotten how much 2008’s Iron Man was a massive risk) to being a money-making colossus that’s helped rewrite popular culture across the world.

So we get a name probably dreamed up by marketing men playing things safe, but it is now a thing and we have to live with this thing.

And all this is about a trailer that’s gloriously bleak and downbeat. Enjoy…

How good does the Resident Evil 2 remake look?

Back in the 90’s when I first got a Playstation I’d play Resident Evil 2 til my thumbs bled. The load screen became imprinted upon my eyes.

A remake was announced a while back. Would it even capture anything of what wasn’t just a game, but a crucial part of culture for those of us of a certain age who invested so much of our time into the game.

Well, just look at this!

Roll on January.

The Faiytale of New York outrage sums 2018 up in a sad, pathetic nutshell

In 1987, The Pogues and KIrsty MacColl release the classic Fairytale of New York; a song about Irish immigrants in old New York City. In particular Irish immigrants who had fallen on hard times and become alcoholics and drug addicts. It’s a story and lead singer Shane McGowan and MacColl play characters. This is something that for years has been seen as, well, obvious.

But we now live in 2018. Nuance and understanding has been replaced by an urge to outrage, even censor and I speak of the use of the word ‘faggot’ in the song. It has caused predictable, if depressing internet outrage with the usual cries of the word being changed, or even banning the song.

However context, and knowledge, is everything. If seen through a purely American cultural eye, the word ‘faggot’ means one thing and is a horrible, dreadful word. In the context of the song, it’s an old Irish word for a lazy bastard. If you listen to the actual song you can get that from the context of the song even if you’re utterly unaware of the Irish language. Yet the word is going to be clearly offensive to casual listeners as it does leap out with glorious spite so it’s a good thing that back in the day McGowan and MacColl listened to the same argument and made an edited version.

in a recording for the TV programme ‘Top of the Pops’ in the UK (with Shane McGowan), Kirsty changed the lyrics slightly to ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you’re cheap and your haggard’ – wording which was later used by Maire Brennan in Ronan Keating’s cover version.

That’s right, there’s an approved edited version out there because kids, we had this debate and a compromise was reached. Radio stations and TV programmes had a choice of what version to play prior to the watershed, with both versions being played for years before most of the time the original version of the song was played.  Words have meanings beyond whatever the mainstream context think it does, in America at least, and this isn’t the first time an American company have cried foul over the word after Facebook banned Mr Brain’s faggots, which in context was discussing the pork based dish famous in the north of England.

If I was being a dick, I’d be moaning about how American culture and language overrules all others and how some of those complaining can’t see their cultural imperialism in action. I won’t though.

Unfortunately what we have now are people screaming ‘BAN IT’ and another group arguing for the use of the word regardless of context or to try to actually just use it to offend those screaming ‘BAN IT’ and the snake eats its tail. The fact is the song exists. Words have different meanings depending on the context and what language you’re speaking in, and before jerking one’s knee perhaps search to see if the OUTRAGE you’re feeling now about something from the past, possibly before you were born, has had a debate and even a compromise delivered.

Art of any kind can be appreciated for the time it was made, the intent of the creators and the standards of the day. Sometimes that art will offend today’s sensibilities. Hiding from it doesn’t make it go away and censoring it without the consent of the creators is a dangerous path in whitewashing the past. In this case it’s a situation where the word doesn’t mean what many think but, the creators gave us a compromise. We now live in a world where this sort of thing happens far too often and this isn’t a good thing for society which is becoming insular and censorious.