Of Capes and Books

Last weekend we headed up to Chicago for our end-of-summer family field trip.  This Windy City trip was a little different from those in recent years in that it did not involve a sporting event, comedy clubs, bar-crawls, or stuff like that.  On the agenda:  Chicago Comic-Con and the Field Museum.

to THE Batmobile!

The Chicago Comic-Con, aka, Wizard World Chicago, has been a Beemsville favorite for years now.  It’s always fun to look around at the memorabilia, talk to comics creators, see the folks dressed up as their favorite characters, and generally revel in the geek culture.  In the past, objectives have involved networking, learning about making comics, or listening to favorite writers and directors speak about their craft.  This year, we focused squarely on the kids.

With our two and nephew in tow, the kids decked out in costumes, we patrolled the convention floor, taking it all in, posing for photos, and looking for the best deals on books.  I quickly realized that the prices on trade paperbacks and graphic novels meant a transition to shopping mode (50% off and higher on trades and hardbacks), and having come to the con with a goal of getting a bunch of comics reading material for my girl and the nephew, I was on the hunt.

Somewhat unfortunately, as anyone familiar with comics these days can attest, most of the reading material is geared at teens and above.  You don’t really want your 7-9 year old reading most of the superhero titles these days (an ongoing an much discussed problem in the comics industry).  But there are some titles for the little guys, and we found a new Super Friends book, Tiny Titans, and some Star Wars Clone Wars stuff.  Also picked up some copies of the acclaimed Bone books (which my girl has already finished), Owly for my youngest, a big beautiful hardcover Marvel Superheroes reference book for the nephew, the Mice Templar trade, a Power Pack hardback, and a handful of trades for myself. Continue reading

Superhero Summer Under Way

With the release of X-Men: First Class this weekend, the superhero summer is certainly upon us.  This isn’t the first such summer.  Comic book properties have more than a decade of box office success to draw on now, and while some may lament the dearth of truly original storytelling this trend has helped facilitate, the comics fans among us have generally cheered the results.  You will see a certain segment of the geek world cheering the box office returns, living vicariously through the profit margins.  At Beemsville, we’ve long been more interested in the narrative and whether the character or comic book ensemble gets a fair creative shot on the silver screen.

This is a weird summer; however, with no truly A-list-to-the-general-public characters (no Batman, Superman, Spidey), but plenty of beloved comic book heroes with long histories and strong followings.  It’s worth noting that most of these movies don’t feature a lot of A-list stars, but rather good known quantities in the lead roles.

Marvel’s Thor has lead the way in admirable fashion (full review here).  The early reviews of the X-Men prequel have been positive, and though it will mess with the purists’ heads on facets of the X-mythos, we’re glad to see the mutants looking strong.  Later this month is DC’s only offering, with Ryan Reynolds’ portraying Green Lantern.  Hopefully this film is good, because GL has always been a personal fave with a lot of cinematic potential.  In July we get another of the Avengers prequels from Marvel with, Captain America.  Not sure what to think about this one, and I’m worried about the film spending too much time in the World War II setting rather than the more interesting aspect of Cap – how he deals with the present once revived from suspended animation. Continue reading

The State of Superheroics

As the kids and I enjoy the hi-jinks of Super Hero Squad on Cartoon Network, over in comic book land, the storylines of the Big Two have grown increasingly troubling.  Check this summary from SF Signal:

If we are to adhere to DC comics continuity, the version of the Man of Steel lifting that car on the cover of Action Comics #1 was recently turned into a soulless super zombie that slaughtered much of the population of Smallville. He is one of many dead heroes reanimated for DC’s latest mega-event Blackest Night, a story hinging on the fairly idiotic concept that every color of the spectrum mystically corresponds to an emotion, and these are the primal forces of the universe. The Green Lantern Corps now operates alongside the Red LanternsIndigo Lanterns, and so on, and all of them have to deal with super-zombies. It’s like gore-riddled Power Rangers fanfic written by folks who watch too much Japanese horror*.

Corpses rise to take steaming dumps on the work of the many talented creators who have shaped these characters over the decades. Established canons are discarded, the legacy of Jack Kirby is trampled under the feet of the rotting undead. Continue reading