Friday, August 17, 2012

Rants & Raves

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, and this time it's got a distinctly Marvel flavor:

Rave: Guardians of the Galaxy movie/comic – if you follow my twitter feed or have seen my reviews of this comic you’ll know that I make no secret of my love for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Mavel’s announced a movie, and while they haven’t outright revealed a new Guardians of the Galaxy comic yet, the rumors are certainly strongly leaning in that direction. Since there seem to be a few questions about both of these things, I thought I’d try my hand at both.

First, for those wondering why this makes for an exciting movie idea, and how it is that this won’t wind up as a mess like Green Lantern did (being a similar, sci-fi superhero genre mash-up) – Guardians of the Galaxy is meant to be irreverent. Think similar in many respects to Galaxy Quest, or the interactions between the characters in Firefly. This is a rag-tag group, not the best of the best, but the only ones available to save the universe from threats that could end all life. And I’m not even sure how to answer the folks who insist that somehow the original Guardians (a superhero team from the 31st Century) would make for a more simple origin in this film (as opposed to the modern incarnation of the team, which is what Mavel seems to be going with). There seems to be some folks who feel the modern team (which takes place in the same time-frame as the current Avengers) is complicated – I’d say that the “complicated origin” for these characters is likely what they’re going to use as the plot for this film.

As to the potential comic, it appears likely that Brian Bendis will be the writer of that new series – which has caused much consternation among a certain segment of fans. These same fans don’t like what this writer has done with the Avengers over the past few years, and often praise the work of Abnett and Lanning (the writing team responsible for starting the new Guardians of the Galaxy). I’m going to give my own two cents on both of those things. First, if you’ve enjoyed the recent Avengers movie, then Bendis is the writer for you – his Avengers comic tonally matches the Marvel film series, and it makes perfect sense to have him start to create stories for the Guardians comic in that same style. I also happen to be a fan of Bendis’ Avengers, having never cared for the team prior to his run on the book.

Then there’s the question of Abnett and Lanning. They’ve done some wonderful work for Marvel, especially some of their “cosmic” stories – and their first arc (6-issues) of Guardians of the Galaxy is just fantastic. Unfortunately, I also think they lost it along the way – there were way too many fake-outs and “deaths” that didn’t really stick in a series that only lasted 24 issues – and too many plot lines that weren’t really followed up on and despite claims to the contrary by the authors, there didn’t seem to be much of a plan. So while I appreciate what DnA did by forming this new team of Guardians that I love so much, I look forward to seeing another author’s take on the idea (and my first taste will be when I finally catch up on the TPB of Avengers Assemble, a series with the Guardians as guest stars, written by Bendis).

Rant: Daredevil/Punisher/Fantastic Four film rights – well, I’m somewhat sorry to see that it seems Daredevil will be the character that Marvel/Disney gets the rights back to (from Fox, because they can’t get a new movie together in the time they have left). I mean, I’m glad Marvel/Disney is getting the rights back to any of their characters (like Punisher, which recently happened for them as well) – but these are characters that I just generally don’t care all that much about. I was far more excited by the possibility of Marvel getting back the film rights to the Fantastic Four (or even just the piece parts in Galactus and Silver Surfer).

Part of that is that I just like those characters, part of it is that I think they fit better into the Marvel film universe – so I’d have rather seen that deal happen. At the same time, Marvel’s wise to play its waiting game – again, commentators seem genuinely surprised that Marvel didn’t extend the date or give Fox the co-financing it wanted for the Daredevil film. Why should they? There’s nothing in it for them – by NOT co-financing, they know that one of two things is likely to happen 1) the rights revert because Fox doesn’t have time to make a film or 2) Fox makes a poorly received film and doesn’t bother to spend money on another within the designated amount of time, at which point the rights revert to Marvel. Giving Fox what it wants was the only way for Marvel to lose.

Rant: Defenders – I am disappointed that this new series has already been cancelled (at issue 12). I think the first TPB has only just recently been released, and I haven’t even had the chance to read it yet. Sure it a quirky title featuring an oddball assortment of Marvel characters – but it sounded interesting with a big story to tell. Unfortunately, I also think that Marvel tends to make everything into a new ongoing series, when perhaps they should just focus on making some things into limited series – tell the story you’re looking to tell, and don’t bother your readers with lots of unnecessary cameos by other heroes who aren’t supposed to be a part of the team in question. At least so far Captain Marvel seems to be selling extremely well, as that’s probably the next title I was most excited about.

Rave: Marvel NOW! – it’s like DC’s new 52, only without the whole “scrap everything you ever knew about the characters you love while we start from scratch” thing. I had to laugh when recently one of the guys behind DC mentioned that they are promising better continuity in the future with the new 52 – wasn’t that the whole point of the reset in the first place. Anyway, it seems like Marvel’s doing this the right way – doling out the new #1s over a few months (instead of finding yourself with 52 issue number 7s on the stand a few months from now), and not resetting their continuity – just creating new starting points for new readers. I don’t love every title they’ve announced (I still can’t get too excited about any X-Men titles, though Uncanny Avengers and A+X will be ones I watch out for), but I like the creative teams being shifted onto books I do care about (Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, Fantastic Four) – so all in all, I feel it’s a win-win for my upcoming reading.

Rave: Steam Bandits: Outpost – a new game coming from a company formed by employees laid off from Obsidian, looks to take what’s so addictive about free world building games, and take away the frustration of not being able to play the game because you either need to purchase upgrades with real money or you have to wait until artificial time delay is over to continue playing (unless you want to pay to play it faster). Sure, they’re still planning on pay content – but they’re extras, things you don’t need to play the game, and no artificial delays. At least that’s what the developers claim, and the game is coming out in Oct/Nov timeframe, so we’ll know soon enough if they mean it. It’s got a great looking steampunk vibe, and I’m hopeful that it will replace my son’s addiction to the many “tap” games he currently seems to like to play. More games from this universe, that will all interact together, are planned by the developer, and you can get in on the action by helping to fund their Kickstarter as well.


Maurice Mitchell said...

Jim, thanks for the Guardians of the Galaxy overview. It makes more sense now. A tree? A squirrel? I was wondering how it would work. Now I understand. I'm glad to see all the Marvel characters go to Marvel. Pull them all into one movie universe I say. Of course, if they lost FF as part of it that makes me sad.

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