Come to East Kilbride Comic Con tomorrow and buy comics…

Tomorrow is the East Kilbride Comic Con held at East Kilbride central library. It is the night before a show and I am shockingly still bagging and pricing.

So come along tomorrow and make it all worthwhile for me, and oh, as it’s Free Comic Book Day, everyone buying something gets a free comic from a mystery box while stocks last…

 

Don’t get your knickers in a twist about a female Thor

The news that has been positively rocking the world of mainstream American comics the news of a new female Thor, which was shortly followed by the news Marvel would make The Falcon the new Captain America, meaning there is a black Captain America. This was treated in much of the media outside the comics press as something new and progressive (a word which is beginning to lose it’s meaning) which means Marvel get some brownie points with the increasing female readership and they can parade around Comic Con in San Diego this weekend looking better than the frankly pathetic DC Comics who seem not to care about equality.

Only problem is it’s not really equality, nor is this an original or new idea to change the sex, race, or character of a major hero at Marvel and DC. Thankfully some people have sussed out it’s a publicity stunt, and not an especially good one, plus when Marvel last made Captain America black it was the subject of one of the best, but sadly overlooked, superhero comics of the 21st Century, Truth: Red, White and Black, written by Robert Morales and drawn by the great Kyle Baker. That’s a comic worth looking at as it deals head on with race rather than this fuzzy fudging of race that seems to be going on here.

Race/sex changing is always a sales gimmick. It’s designed now as well to give the idea of equality but in fact serves to hide the fact that Marvel and DC don’t serve equality well in their books, or indeed, in their staff.

There’s also the fact that creators are reluctant to give away ideas without retaining rights, so those smart enough hold onto those ideas for when they get a deal at a company like Image, and seeing as Marvel and DC aren’t going to start fighting for creators rights overnight, expect things to remain pretty much the same with the odd bit of window dressing like a black Cap, or a female Thor. There’s too much money riding on these characters with film, TV and merchandising deals bringing vast amounts of money into the coffers of Marvel/Disney and DC/Warners. The subject of equal rights will be discussed but until the audience reflects society as a whole then things won’t especially change and these stunts will continue.

Also there’s something else and this might be hard for some older and newer superhero comics fans to swallow. The fans themselves need to change. They need to exert their power upon companies rather than just be consumers because that’s exactly what they want. There is absolutely no point complaining about say, a female Thor being a sop to the cause of equality and going out and buying it s it gives you no leverage at all. That’s one of the big problems with the explosion in what’s called ‘geek culture’ in that it’s essentially capitalist based, so there needs to be a greater understanding of the politics in action here, and that involves fans, new and old, to expand their reading material. Some comics fans would do well from reading a few newspapers, not to mention understanding the history of their own medium, and how vast events like San Diego have to clean the homeless off their streets so fans can have a event without having to see the victims of the sort of aggressive capitalism that we have today.

I’m not suggesting the world becomes an egalitarian socialist utopia tomorrow, though that would be very nice, but that fans realise when companies are playing them for wankers. So don’t get your knickers in a twist about a new Thor because things will be back to normal soon enough and Marvel will have gained some ‘credibility’ with enough fans that they can carry on doing what they’re doing. These companies treat you as consumers so use that as leverage to get change. Don’t just sit back, moan and then carry on buying the comics, toys and seeing the films because then it really doesn’t matter about how loudly you protest and change will never happen. Don’t give these companies your money if they do something you dislike. It really is that amazingly simple and if enough people do the same, they will act.

My top 20 Comic Book films-16-The Avengers

I did my top 20 horror and SF films last year, and found doing the lists to be more fun than expected, so in a massive bit of logic here’s my top 20 films adapted or inspired from comics. I need to point out I mean comics, not ‘superhero comics’ which is a lazy, and incorrect way to describe a wonderfully varied medium and it’d also cut out some bloody good films!

Previously, in this list at #20, X Men19The Crow18Heavy Metal and 17, Spider Man.

At 16, it’s the film version of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s The Avengers, or Avengers Assemble as it’s known here in the UK in order so people don’t confuse it with Steed and Mrs Peel….

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The Avengers is Marvel’s big finish for their Phase One series of films that started four years earlier with Iron Man, and after a series of films of varying quality ended up in this big, ridiculous mess of a film that’s utterly and totally nonsense but ends up being huge fun even if the plot is dreadful and at times the entire thing nearly falls apart.

What holds it together is the ensemble cast headed up by Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson, and a fantastic turn by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk.  Of course the rest of the cast do their jobs well, especially Chris Evans as Captain America (who really could be a pointless character if played for laughs) and Tom Hiddleston as the panto dame which is what the cinematic Loki has become very, very quickly.

Forget about the patchy opening. The long, dreary section in the middle made up of people talking that annoyingly too aware Joss Whedon tends to do far too much for my liking, but Whedon is clever in that he realises the entire idea is pantomime, and anyhow, all people have paid for is a MASSIVE FIGHT SCENE, which is ultimately what Act Three is. One. Giant. Fight. Scene.

If I was 12 or 13, The Avengers would be the best film I’d ever seen in my life. It’s a big porridge of superhero action, with a few good performances thrown in and it’s fun. However looking at some of the deleted scenes it seems it could have been ‘darker’ (which in superhero comics terms means ‘adult’ but it isn’t)  but instead Whedon keeps the tone right and ignoring the rubbish pacing, the paper thin characters, the truly rubbish baddies you have a pretty good superhero film, though because it’s part of Marvel’s ongoing cinematic universe, it also feels like another stepping block to the next film. That’s a weakness of many of the Marvel films, but taking all this aside The Avengers is fun. It’s not art. It’s not the best film ever made. It’s not even the best Marvel based film made. It is however a good waste of time.

It also has Scarlett Johansson’s arse. I’ll be returning to that later on in this series.

Next time, it gets dangerous and sexy….