The weird world of romance comics

I got a batch of old DC, Marvel and Charlton romance comics the other day and they’re simply insane in their simplistic old-fashioned sexism, or worse, when the creators were trying to be ‘progressive’ in the 60’s and 70’s.

These titles sold hundreds of thousands of copies every month yet they’re now highly collectable thanks to having some work from fine creators like Wally Wood, Jim Steranko, John Romita and Stan Lee who must have churned out thousands of stories where men were men, women knew their place and love always won. What’s bizarre is that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created the genre in 1947, but don’t expect a billion dollar film franchise for Millie the Model anytime soon.

Think of this; when Jack and Stan were carving themselves what would be the Marvel Universe they’d sell thousands upon thousands of glorious stuff like this.

And it’s the Marvel romance comics of the 60’s and 70’s I’m drawn to like some masochistic butterfly which isn’t to say that DC didn’t knock out a few gems.

But it’s the Marvel stuff created by then middle aged men trying hard to tell stories which teenage girls could lap up that’s the prime choice.

This stuff is generally awful, but there’s an ironic joy in these tales of romance which are often beautifully drawn, but it really is the cries for contemporary relevance that makes these stories so fantastically shite, yet great at the same time.

By the mid-70’s romance comics were dead, more or less. The rise of the superhero meant Marvel and DC concentrated on that genre and the days of both main publishers printing a variety of comics of all genres were on the way out. However these now highly collectable relics contain some work that needs better appreciation from comics historians and the fact that this genre is often disregarded or skimmed over in various histories of comics is a tragedy. Especially as even low grade copies of these comics fetch high prices.

So seek these comics out. If you’re any sort of fan of the medium you may not be exposing yourself to great stories but you’ll find some amazing art, and you can ironically enjoy them to your hearts content…

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So how did the #BoycottCaptainMarvel campaign go?

I mentioned a few weeks ago about the #BoycottCaptainMarvel campaign being run by the same people which brought you the #BoycottBlackPanther campaign last year, as well as the ongoing sad fuckwittery of Comicsgate. The weekend gone was the opening weekend of Captain Marvel, so I’d assume these protesters managed to reach out and convince people not to encourage whatever it is they’re pissed off about.

So I’m sure this weekend was a fucking disaster! Let’s look at what happened,

Captain Marvel opens bigger than every MCU movie except Avengers: Infinity War

Oh, well done Comicsgaters. Another success.

My Captain Marvel

This weekend Marvel’s Captain Marvel film opened. That’s this Captain Marvel.

Not this Captain Marvel appearing in Shazam! (long story, copyright but if you want to dive into the rabbit hole start here) which is the original Captain Marvel.

There’s no sign of new Marvelman/Miracleman comics let alone a film, but I’m sure his day will come.

It thankfully isn’t this Captain Marvel.

The Captain Marvel film isn’t even the first Captain Marvel that Marvel Comics produced.

This Captain Marvel had his own series which struggled hard for 16 issues before enjoying a revamp but even though he had a better costume the series struggled.

It wasn’t til Jim Starlin took over with #25 bringing in a more cosmic flavour, while bringing in characters like Drax and Thanos to tell a story which today would have been a major crossover, with its own series and everything but the 1970’s were cheaper times so readers could pick up issues cheaply as they came out. Well, readers in America that is. Over here many of the issues either weren’t distributed or had suck a low distribution they may as well not come over from the States. So to read this story which dived from one title to another (Captain Marvel to Avengers to Warlock to Marvel Two in One) involved some serious work.

This was my Captain Marvel that I grew up on. There were other Captain Marvel’s (at least two) after this one, not including the one currently packing cinemas but that run by Jim Starlin that ended with Captain Marvel dying not because of Thanos, but because of cancer, is among the best run of SF/superhero comics you’ll ever find.

There’s now pretty cheap trades collecting all these stories so when you’ve enjoyed the Carol Danvers version, go back to the comics for the best run of Captain Marvel done so far. You won’t regret it.

Morons of Fandom: The anti Captain Marvel crowd

Captain Marvel is the next film from Marvel’s sausage factory of film production starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel which is out in a few weeks. It will make Marvel/Disney gazillions and looks to be as much fun as your average Marvel film.

In terms of a character in the comics, Carol Danvers has, well, a complex history which I’ll skim over as it’s’ distracting, often horrible and anyhow, the writer Chris Claremont redeemed her by making her one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe way back in Uncanny X Men #164 and now she’s one of Marvel’s main characters with Thor, Spidey, Iron Man or the Hulk.

But there’s a big film coming out and it FEATURES A WOMAN! So the Comicsgate crowd peels themselves like one vast interconnected slug to try to sabotage the film by throwing up fake negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which they tried with Black Panther last year. As a reminder Black Panther was one of the best films of 2018, made several gazillions and was nominated for actual awards in the Oscars outwith of the usual things like special effects. So that shows you how dim these folk are as the tactic which didn’t work last year, won’t this year, and will probably be done again when a superhero film not starring a white male is released.

Now I won’t link to videos or pages spouting this pish as after all, it’s easily done but there’s only one reason this is being done and that’s good old-fashioned sexism of the kind designed to keep women in their place away from billion dollar film franchises unless they fulfil whatever arbitrary set of rules they pull out their arse. It is intolerable¬† that women have to put up with this shit all the time, and one has to think the men doing this would be be spending a better life¬† if they actually spoke to women instead of hating them.

But that’s too hard it seems.

 

Inside John Byrne’s studio

For those of us of a certain age the name John Byrne is associated with the X Men.

As well as his Superman reboot.

Over the last decade or so Byrne’s been doing bits and bobs away from Marvel or DC, though there is a rumour he’s working on an X Men book again. Byrne has a pretty Marmite reputation with fans but this is someone who helped change modern superhero comics, and really probably deserves more credit than he gets.

The video below is a fascinating tour round his studio and his collection of original art. It should make you supremely jealous. Enjoy.

Avengers: Endgame goes all Scandinavian…

The Superbowl has come and went, and for those of us who give zero fucks about the game get to pick apart the trailers for forthcoming films, which this year includes the latest 30 seconds or so of footage from Avengers: Endgame. The footage is dark, as in BBC 4 Scandi crime drama dark as the films looks as if it’ll deal with the results of Thanos’s snap which wiped out half the life in the universe.

It’s a pity Marvel have toned down the Thanos of Jim Starlin, who did the same thing because he essentially wanted to fuck Death so like any lovestruck bloke, he did something massive to impress her. The film Thanos has a rationale which from a certain point of view makes sense, but just keeps Thanos at the level of being a psychopath as opposed to a psycho-sexual tyrannical lunatic who wants his old purple chap in the actual physical representation of death. I admit that’d be hard to sell toys off the back of such a concept but still…

Anyhow, I’m glad Marvel aren’t going to brush over the effects of the Snap but at the same time I’m sure they won’t spend the entire film dwelling on it as this is the culmination of a decade of world-building while setting up the next decade of Marvel’s film and TV production. We also know from announcements that the dead will return and the trailer for the new Spider-Man film suggests the world isn’t affected with the snap, so clearly there’s a Big Red Button reset coming which is exactly what’s happened in the comics so, so many times.

Still, we only need wait til April.

What I thought of Daredevil season 3

I didn’t mid season 2 of Daredevil. Yes, it did die off after the first half of the season and ended in a terrible final episode designed more to set up The Defenders that provide good storytelling. Also the Marvel series on Netflix are overlong, with some episodes being glacially slow or just there to pad out the season. Daredevil season 3 is as good as the Marvel Netflix universe gets. It never feels padded out, there’s no filler episodes and the story moves to a satisfying ending that essentially would have set up future seasons had Netflix not cancelled the series,With Marvel/Disney being coy as to whether this cast returns.

Season 3 picks up after The Defenders with Matt Murdock (still played wonderfully by Charlie Cox) battered and broken being cared for by Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley reminding us that she’s still a talent) while Foggy and Karen carry out their own fight against the Kingpin (a fantastic Vincent D’Onofrio).¬†

Season 3 also throws in Bullseye, though he’s never referred to as that name, it very definitely is that character and he gets a backstory too where he’s either a broken child or vicious bastard depending on your point of view. And this moral nuance is embedded throughout the season as characters aren’t black and white, but various shades of grey. Even the Kingpin isn’t a total bastard as there’s some humanity there but overall he’s still a monster, as well as Marvel’s best cinematic villain. Forget Thanos or Loki, Wilson Fisk is magnificent with how evil his corrupting influence is being the slow burn of his evil this season as Fisk uses one good man to his own needs.

That good man is Agent Nadeem played by Jay Ali. Nadeem is a good man working in the FBI trying to do what’s right, but desperate for money after paying for his sister-in-law’s cancer treatment so he pushes himself into a position that places him next to the Kingpin and Matt Murdock/Daredevil. This season Daredevil sheds his red costume for the plain black one he started out with, as Matt struggles with himself trying to work out who and what he is.

There’s a lot going on this season, which means there’s no padding, or filler episodes. Indeed one episode which could have been a filler (Karen) gives us essential background on Karen Page plus it allows Deborah Ann Wolf to show us what she can do. Overall all the main players get their moment, the introduction of Bullseye means we’ve got an equal in fighting ability to Matt which also means plenty of scenes where Daredevil takes a beating, in fact there’s a lot of fight scenes where various protagonists take a hellish beating.

Daredevil season 3 is the best thing Marvel’s done for Netflix. It’s an almost perfect crime/superhero drama that uses the potential for these characters while utilising the comics history of them to tell new stories. After the cludgy second seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (not seen the second season of Iron Fist & probably won’t) this shows how things are done just in time for it to get cancelled as Marvel/Disney pull as much of their intellectual property back in-house. Whether Disney/Marvel will have the creative bollocks to do something like this season of Daredevil in-house remains to be seen (and I’m wary they will) but this will stand as testament to what can be done when creators work together to do something good.