Updates, Hobos, Supergods and Deadmans.

Quick update just to keep track of where the hell I’ve been the past week or so.

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Aside from trying to feel something other than apathy over another celebrity death, and feeling oddly upset about the shooting incident in Norway, I’ve been numbing my real world senses by following the SDCC ’11 coverage and of course enjoying (?) those teaser trailers for Batman and Spider-man, and finally I caught ‘Hobo With A Shotgun’, which is still doing the rounds at a small number of cinemas.

I reviewed the film for Starburst Magazine, so check that out if you are still curious about this messy little gem.

http://bit.ly/r1O1qm

— Please note that the opening paragraph did fall at the mercy of a sub-edit, and the slightly rambling nature of the bit was not entirely my doing. I’m not bitching about it, but I think it will always grind the nerves a little —

My ongoing Cinematic Pile of Shame was reduced by one, after seeing ‘Goodbye Lenin’, another in a terribly long list of films I was just always too damned lazy to watch. Culture, yay!

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Reading wise, I’m still not done with last weeks comics due to lack of time, with Issue #2 of ‘Deadman and the Flying Graysons’ and ‘Daredevil’ #1 still sitting on my to do list. I think I may have saved the best for last with Daredevil though.

I also got a copy if Grant Morrision’s exploration of the Cape comics relationship to human society throughout the years, ‘Supergods’. So far it’s been a decent read, a combination of the obvious and the headspinningly obscure.

That guy knows comics, of course, but his additional insights in to the strange world of magic, myth and his much documented personal… ummm… Interests, add something fairly fresh to this look at the social importance of those oddly dressed icons and why we are more like them than you might think.

I’ll be posting a review of ‘Supergods’ whenever I can get time to read the rest of the thing.

The Dark Knight Rises teaser trailer

Predictably, I was pretty psyched to see the teaser for Christopher Nolan’s final entry in his Batman story before seeing ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ this week.

Now, Warners have released the trailer for all to see across the web, and for those that saw the bootlegged version last week, you might actually be able to discern some detail this time!

I won’t break anything down like most sites have, as it really speaks for itself and hardly warrants analysis. Then again, I’ve never known outlets have such a feindish desire for even the tiniest detail about a movie so far from release before, so you can’t blame them for trying to get some extra mileage from this official release.

Some have commented on thee rushed feel to the teaser. That I can agree with, but it still lets us know enough about whats going on to make it a worthwhile watch.

I only have until July 20th 2012 to worry about the fate of Jim Gordon and the rest of Gotham City.

“You deserved better, kid”. The throwaway death of Bucky Barnes

Characters die in comic book events. Its a rule, and it will never change.

How else can creators show the gravity of a situation without a token death to make everybody realise that the monster of the month is actual serious business?

One thing I appreciate in any form of fiction, is not treating death lightly. Sure people die, but hopefully we would get a decent explanation for such an occurrence. In comics, that usually means that for a couple of issues other characters can look sad and upset and vow to change things for the better in light of the sacrifice their friend made.

In other words, despite the temporary nature of death in comics, it HAS to mean something for how little time the character actually stays dead. Lets take a look.

When Peter Parker died last month in Ultimate Spider-man, his family were crushed, but Parker learned exactly what it was to be a hero.


When the Human Torch sacrificed himself, it was a heroic end for sure.

Other characters in the world cared (and had great covers to boot)

When Bruce Wayne took one in the face it didn’t make any sense at first, but it meant a whole load of awesome would happen in the years to follow.

You get the point by now.

In Fear Itself, Marvel Comics event series for 2011 lots of… stuff… was going on.

People got awesome magical hammers from Serpent who (shock) wants to kill everything, Odin was angry at Thor and the Asgardians left Earth for some-such reason. Then, Sin killed Bucky Barnes in two hits. Literally two hits.

We don’t really see what happened, but when the smoke clears, he is missing his cybernetic arm and has a massive hole in his chest. Then he dies (off page, confirmed in the recap page of issue 4).

This, surely should have been one of those huge death things like the ones pictures just a little way up the page. Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, greatest ally of the original Captain America Steve Rogers, who himself came back unexpectedly as the awesome bad-ass Winter Soldier guy that we came to care about over, what, only six years of brilliant storytelling? Yeah, he deserves a decent send-off even if his actual demise was a pathetic confrontation that lasted two pages.

No. Actually he doesn’t. The most we get from any character, comes from the eternally warm and emotionally connected Nick Fury.

“You deserved better, kid.”

Then, minutes later Steve has his old uniform on and joins Iron Man and Thor in going to fight things.

See ya, Bucky! Was great while it lasted son.

The issue at hand isn’t the nature of event comics, or even how we treat death in the medium, but more the fact that one writer can undo the work of another with just a couple of misplaced pages.

Ed Brubaker made Captain America a book that could be appreciated by everyone, not just the die-hard comic book nerds or the even more die-hard super patriots of the USA.

He was a man adjusting to the world with its new views on right and wrong, good and evil, fighting not for any country or allegiance, but because it was the right thing to do. His supporting cast were fleshed out, and the long dead Bucky was reintroduced as a complicated and affecting character who also had to bear the brunt of being a man-out-of-time with no real place to belong. We really grew to accept that not only was Bucky alive again, but that he was a meaningful presence in the world.

I preferred this version to the Fear Itself one.

Then at the pen of Matt Fraction, he becomes nothing more than a plot point. I cant help feeling that had this occurred in the actual Captain America series, this would have been a death actually worth happening.

There are other reasons of course. Steve Rogers needed to become Captain America again, especially with a new #1 issue being released to coincide with the Captain America movie that’s just around the corner. This I’m sure we all understand. But as a rule, try not to throw characters into the grinder just to advance a plot, especially if they aren’t your characters to deal with anyway.

Still. Its not quite as bad as this questionable moment in the career of Jeff Loeb. Don’t even get me started on the deep seated issues behind this beauty.

Seriously, this happened.

Get this right Google…

I love the idea of social networks, but I hate the ubiquity of Facebook. I find it to be something of a cultural cesspool. It really is filled with some scuzzy characters. Plus, making a marketing profile from a persons entire life is a little creepy.

A New Hope? Probably not...

Google however, I trust. For a company that has the Entire Information of The World backed up in a shady secret server bunker, plus access to millions of folks mobile phones everyday, I find them oddly trustworthy. We call it Skynet as a term of endearment, right?

[– Note — This has sent me spiralling over how much we buy… OK, I buy from Amazon. I have no idea who this company is or how it operates, and as somebody who at least pretends to care about who I contribute funds to I should probably look into it. I hope they are all ethical. Ignorance is bliss.]

So when Google finally announces its beta phase for a new Social Networking platform, I get all excited, wrangle an invite from a kindly Twitter person, and set up my profile.

I’m keeping my expectations low. I’m not really sure whats going on with Diaspora, but they talked a good game. Momentum is everything though, and I feel they may have missed their shot after a run of negative press stories relating to Zuckerberg’s Evil Empire attracted attention to their start-up.

He seemed like such a nice boy, too.

Why am I holding out for a knight in shining armour in the world of social media? It’s simple.

Facebook has tentacles that reach far and wide throughout the internet. Every web presence has a page, and uses the good old Like button to help generate more hits. In its simplest terms, it’s a good thing: It can represent the democratic process of the web, in which the readers and user bases elevate what they consider to be important to the top, to share it with their friends in a personal manner much like the recommendation of a good book or show. We can pass on the information we choose, to who we want to share with, minus the gatekeeping antics of large corporations.

Twitter is a great tool for sharing, in fact it’s probably my favourite thing ever since I first used the internet. I don’t have to worry about what Twitter does to my information as I can give it as little or as much as I like. The problem I have with Facebook is that it has become what feels like the only real portal on the web. Is Facebook a place to go on the web, or is the web now just a plugin for Facebook?

I also worry about the people who I interact with on Facebook – I might have the most paranoid attitude to security and keeping important data to myself, but less… sensible folk who feel the internet is still just a shiny bundle of love made up of cables and angel hair might unwittingly transmit all kinds of things about the people around them. The platforms popularity, plus its naive and yes “noobish” user base makes it a real turn off.

I want a de-centralized social networking and information sharing facility that lets me take control of what I do online, and not have to worry about irksome nobodies from my school days showing up asking to be friends, and acting like I slapped their first-born when I decline. Something that’s for me, and the type of people I want to associate with.

Y’know. How the internet used to be.

I doubt Google+ will be what I’m looking for. After all, it too is a giant company, one that isn’t too friendly with some of its business practices. There has also been talk of Google+ featuring a similar rule to Facebook regarding ownership of images and material uploaded to the service (as in, you don’t own it anymore).

So, unless Diaspora or some similar plucky upstart actually manages to get out of the gate, all I can say is c’mon Skynet. Get this one right.