Thursday, November 07, 2013

Why Agents of SHIELD Isn't Working

We'll get back to our positivity-fest shortly, but I wanted to talk a little bit about Agents of SHIELD, and why it's not working. I know it has fans out there, but its viewership has steadily dropped since its admittedly wildly successful debut episode. I, personally, had expected to like the show a lot more than I have. However, it's not really working for me nearly as well as a TV show about SHIELD should be, and that is, I think, the whole reason it's not working: it's not a show about SHIELD, it's mostly just a generic genre show.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

What DC Does Right

About a week back, I talked about what Marvel does right, and now it's time to talk about the other of the Big Two. DC gets a lot of flak, some of it deserved, some of it not so much. Viewed over the length of their publishing history, I think it would be difficult to argue that they haven't had an enormous net positive impact on comic books, and that continues to be the case today. Beyond that, they continue to make smart business decisions, and to do so in a generally pretty agile manner. So what does DC do right?

Monday, November 04, 2013

New Domain

Hey folks! While the site is still on, I've gone ahead and snagged, so you should be able to go to instead of having to type out the longer address. The old address will still work, but it'll redirect you to the new domain. One unfortunate side effect of this is that the older comments have been lost, but everything else seems to be in working order. I'll be getting back to posting with "What DC Does Right" later this week, but for now, welcome!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Marvel Does Right

I spend a lot of time talking about what's gone wrong in the industry because, well, that's what I do in my day job. Analysis, whether it's system analysis or business analysis, most often looks at what's wrong in a system in order to address its problems. However, it's also worth looking at what's right in a system, both to prevent trampling that good while fixing the bad and, to be quite honest, to blatantly copy what works in other systems. So for the next few articles, I'm going to focus on the positive, and talk about what some of the major and minor players in the industry do right. Some of this will be about the artistic side and some of it will be about business, and we all know that those are often at cross purposes with each other. However, just like it's important to recognize the context of bad systems, it's important to look at the context of why good decisions are made. Today, we'll start with Marvel Comics.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Anti-Discrimination Message Of The X-Men Comics Doesn't Work In The X-Men Movies

Pretty much everyone knows that the main theme of the X-Men comics is that prejudice is wrong. Mutants in the comics have been a stand-in for everything from the civil rights movement of the 60s on up to the struggle for gay rights today. It's a metaphor that works very well, as it allows the issue to be discussed in a way that the largely male, white, straight readership of comics can understand: preaching to smart, largely unathletic kids that can empathize with "these people are hounded because of their unappreciated special talents" is pretty low hanging fruit, after all. The stories have run the gamut from the heartbreaking to the ham-handed, but at their core, they've always been about accepting those who are different.

It's a shame the movies dropped the ball so badly.

Friday, October 04, 2013

I'll See You at NY Comic Con!

Super excited about this one, folks. I'm headed to NYCC for the first time, and I'm hoping to be able to blog about it while I'm there, time permitting. I'll be wandering the floor all weekend, and I'd love to meet any of the folks reading the Hoedown that might be attending as well. If you'll be there, give me a shout in the comments.
I'm sure we'll bump into each other.
P.S.: I haven't forgotten about that villain post I promised, but it's morphing into something else; hopefully it'll make it up next week.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Someone Explain DC's Business Model To Me

Before we begin, I'm not talking about their writing or their art or their editorial choices. While I may not agree with all of those when talking about individual books or even across their entire line, I at least see why they think their choices make sense. I may not like what happened with the Batwoman team, but I understand why DC did what they did there, for example. What I don't get is how they run the publishing end of their business. I'm not saying there isn't a method to their madness, but I'd really appreciate it if someone could tell me what it is.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Go Fund City of Titans

I was a huge fan of City of Heroes. There were problems with it, as there are with all games, but it was pretty much my comfort food MMO. It was the game I'd always go back to when I wanted to take a break from more "serious" fare, kick back, and set a purse snatcher on fire. I was even one of the moderators on the COH Livejournal community, back when Livejournal was still a thing people regularly went to. Then NCSoft cancelled City of Heroes after an eight year run, despite the fact that it was still turning a profit.

Hey, it happens, right? MMOs get shut down, companies want more profit, servers get turned off. It's unfortunate, but what are you going to do. Well, some members of the larger City of Heroes community decided to make their own game. They started their Kickstarter drive this morning, and they're already at $67,000 of their $320,000 goal. Go on over, take a look, and throw some cash at them if this kind of thing interests you.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Avengers: Endless Wartime Review

When I heard Marvel was restarting its Original Graphic Novel line, I was actually really excited. The original Marvel Graphic Novel line had some of the best stories of the Bronze Age, including: The Death of Captain Marvel; X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills; and The New Mutants. For the first book in the new OGN line, they announced they'd have Warren Ellis on the writing duties, which is a pretty good choice, given that his Extremis storyline had just provided the framework for the third Iron Man movie. And, hey, the first book is an Avengers book; I'm kind of Avengers SuperFan #1, so if anyone should be on board, it's me.

In reality, eh. Not so much. The word that keeps coming to mind is "awkward." Some spoilers below the cut.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten Million Readers Redux: A Postscript

Before we get started, I really wanted to thank everyone who chimed in on the series of posts I did a couple of weeks ago about the comics industry. I thought there were so many good points brought up from both sides of the argument that I needed to address them. However, I promise this will be the last "serious" post for a bit. If you want to skip this, I will totally understand; there'll be a post on my favorite villains hopefully a little later this week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How To Get Ten Million New Comics Readers In Ten Years

Over the past few days, I've talked about the problems that have both created and been created by the niche that the American comic book industry has worked itself into over the last twenty years. From expensive comics to an aging reader demographic to the inability to get the word out about non-superhero comics, there are broad, interrelated problems that all come back to the niche that comics have been forced into due to its overreliance on the direct market distribution system over the past 20+ years. That's going to have to change if we want comic books to survive and thrive. Today, I'll be presenting a roadmap for a distribution system that could help bring in millions of new readers, while still protecting and even helping the local comic book shops that have served the industry and its fans so well over the years.

Artist's rendition of my chances for getting paid
Before I begin, some disclosure: I am a project manager at a company that has developed an analysis tool for e-reader software called Hero Analytics. However, our software is not necessary for this roadmap to work; it would merely enhance an idea that can be successfully implemented with what the publishers already have available to them. While we could potentially be asked to work on a project like the one I'm about to describe, it's kind of a longshot. I just want to be upfront that, while the idea I'm presenting is something intended to help a hobby I love, there is a chance I could see some money out of it. I believe transparency is important.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Not All Superheroes, So Why Do Most People Think That?

This is post is the third in a four part series discussing how to get the medium of comic books out of the niche that they're stuck in. Previously I took a look at how the niche is both the cause and the result of the high price of comics as well as the aging comic reader demographic. Tomorrow, I'll be detailing a potential solution for getting comics out into the mainstream.

For today, however, I'd like to discuss the perceived lack of diversity in comics. Now, I'm not talking about racial or gender diversity; those are worth exploring, and I have talked about them in the past on this blog. What I'm talking about is this: if you ask the average non-comic book reader to name a comic book, 95 out of 100 of them will pick a superhero title, and the last five will probably say "The Walking Dead" or, rarely, "Sandman." That's kind of a big problem.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Comic Books Aren't Just For Kids Anymore! That's Not Entirely a Good Thing.

This post is part of a larger series I'm writing this week talking about how the niche that the comic book industry has worked itself into is both the cause and the result of several other closely linked problems.  If we want to see comics standing toe to toe with larger entertainment fields like TV, movies, videogames, novels, and music, we're going to have to face some unpleasant truths, and the companies are going to have to change how they do business. However, I fully believe this is something that can be done, and in a way that could see a population of millions of comic book readers by the end of the decade, if we get started soon.

On Friday, I'll be presenting a possible solution, one which I think the major companies could implement relatively rapidly and inexpensively. However, I wanted to talk about some of the major problems first. Tuesday's post laid out the first problem: comics are expensive because they are niche, and comics are niche because they are expensive. For today's post, I'd like you to indulge me for a moment and cast your mind back to the 80s. I apologize to those of you old enough to remember them firsthand, as I know what I ask is painful. It will be worth it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Getting Comics Out of Their Niche

Comics are a niche entertainment choice.  I don't know how anyone can reasonably argue with this statement. I'm not saying that there aren't choices that are more niche, but for the amount of impact comic books have had on pop culture as a whole, the number of people who actually read comics is tiny. A book at one of the major publishers is usually considered successful enough to stay in circulation if it can maintain ~20,000 readers; it's a wild success if it can sustain 150,000 readers for more than a few months. There are only a few hundred thousand regular comic book readers in North America. If we include digital and trade readers, we could generously say that there may be as many as one million semi-regular readers. For comparison, there were 20,000,000 opera tickets sold in 2007 in the United States.

Let that sink in for just a moment: unless the average opera-goer went to 20 performances a year, that means comic books are more of a niche entertainment choice than opera.

How did the industry get to this point? How can we fix it? I think I have the answer to that last bit, but understanding the road that's taken us here is vital if the solution is to make any sense. Let's start by saying, first, that the niche the industry is stuck in is both the source of its problems and the result of them. Over the next few days, I'll be examining three of the main problems with the industry, and all of them share a similar pattern: the problem exists because of the niche nature of comic books, and the niche nature of comic books causes the problem. On Friday, I'll be presenting a model that can be technically implemented with perhaps six months' to a year's worth of work, but which could see the addition of millions of new and returning readers by the end of the decade.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: Mighty Avengers #1

Hey folks!  I've spent the last couple of weeks either traveling or preparing to travel, and it's good to be back. I was out in New York for the first time, which was a lot of fun, and I got to swing by Midtown Comics. Their Times Square shop is great, and I recommend it if you ever get a chance to visit. I got a big stack of trades there that I'm slowly making my way through. And on the flight home, the TSA was kind enough to put "Notice of Baggage Inspection" flyers in all of them when they rifled through my checked luggage, so I have plenty of bookmarks, too! On a less Orwellian note, I also picked up a copy of Mighty Avengers #1, and the series seems to be off to a pretty good start. There will be a few very minor spoilers in here, but most of them are about things that have already been unveiled in the previews for the book.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Triumph Division, National Superheroes, and Cultural Identity

A few years back, in Invincible Iron Man #2, Matt Fraction introduced a superteam called Triumph Division, based out of the Phillipines.  Because they were a plot device masquerading as a team, they were blown up within something like three pages.  This didn't go over so well with folks, given that they were the first and only Filipino team from either major publisher, but their legacy counterparts showed up later and still occasionally appear in a Marvel book here and there.  That "disposable team of heroes" plot device isn't the thing I wanted to talk about today, though. It was the reaction to the characters themselves; namely the complaints that the characters weren't Filipino enough.
Not pictured: Pacman

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Personal Request

Hey, folks.  This isn't going to be a particularly interesting post for most of y'all, so I apologize in advance.  

I need a favor.

If any of you know someone who works at Marvel, or if you know someone who knows someone, I'd really appreciate it if you could help me get in contact with them.  While this is business-related, it's not about me pitching a book to them, or trying to get in as a writer/artist/editor/etc.  It's far more on the dull, dry, business end of things, but I think it could be something that ends up being very profitable for Marvel and ends up helping the industry as a whole.  I can't go into a lot more detail than that, I'm afraid.  Anyways, if y'all can help out, I'd appreciate it.  Thanks.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When Heroes Were Heroes Again... For A While

There was a great post by John Seavey over at Mighty God King on Monday about Marvel's 'Onslaught' event and how it was, in a lot of ways, the beginning of the end for the extreeeme era of comics. In it, Seavey mentions the great Marvel comics that came after Onslaught and Heroes Reborn, and it got me to thinking, once again, about how close we were to having comics that were really about heroes again. It's a shame it didn't take.

Friday, August 16, 2013

How To Make A Black Panther Movie

Black Panther is one of those characters that should be a slam dunk for a movie.  To borrow from MovieBob, BP is most easily described as "You ever seen Coming to America?  Black Panther is that guy, if he was also Batman."  It's a great, easy to understand concept that lends itself to a ton of different stories.  Unfortunately, it's also a concept that's incredibly easy to screw up and piss off one or more large groups of potential viewers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lazy Link Monday

I won't make a habit of this, but I was putting something together for today's post, and then I stumbled across Chris Sims' Superman / Batman pitch, and I can't really imagine I'll come up with anything better today.  Go have a good laugh, and I'll have something a little meatier for you on Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Story In The New 52 and Marvel NOW!

As part of a project I'm working on, I've been reading through all of the trade paperbacks for Marvel NOW! and DC's New 52 that I can get my hands on.  I haven't made more than a dent in the overall stack, which is enough to fill a single shelf.  However, I am done with all of the number 1 collections for Marvel and most of them for DC, and I've found an interesting difference in the stories that each company has chosen to tell: Marvel is mostly telling different stories with familiar characters, and DC is telling familiar stories with new characters.

Monday, August 05, 2013

How Deep Are The Marvel and DC Movie Benches?

Welcome back to the laziest comics blog on the internet, Comic Book Hoedown!

Unveiled at the San Diego Comic Con, Superman / Batman is supposed to be the next movie from DC, with the idea that they will eventually make Flash, Wonder Woman, and Justice League movies.  They've announced that Superman / Batman will be at least a little bit of a versus movie, which leaves me kind of cold. I'm sure teenaged me would slap adult me for saying that, but, hey, tastes change. However, all of the coverage and speculation about which movies are going to come from the two big comics companies got me to thinking: how many properties do they actually have that can be made into successful movies?

Monday, July 29, 2013

See You Next Week

Between work and taking care of The Child, who has now learned how to crawl somewhat and is getting into general mischief, I am swamped.  I'll be taking the week off to regroup, and I'll see you next week with... something.  You'll just have to see then.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Science! Week, Problematic Powers Edition: Super Intelligence

As I mentioned in my previous Problematic Powers post, this series is about the difficulties involved in writing for characters with various powers; it's not a "clever" attempt to point out the infeasability of a given power, because pretty much all of them are ridiculous. However, super intelligence is one of those ones that almost seems like it could exist in the real world.  We all know that guy who is far smarter than any of his peers, and we've all heard of kids graduating college at 16 with a doctorate in Things You'll Never Understand.  That's part of what makes a superhumanly intelligent character so hard to write.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Science! Week: Go Read Indestructible Hulk

This is the size of the of grin I get about this book
I have never been a big fan of the Hulk as a character, or of his alter ego, Bruce Banner. It's one of those cases where I got the concept of the character, but the themes most folks tried to explore with it always left me cold.  Maybe it's because Hulk was one of the last holdovers from the "monster" books that Marvel was putting out previous to their superhero resurgence, or because Bruce Banner always seemed like a hopeless sadsack, but the character just never resonated with me. I liked the occasional walks off the beaten path, like the Hulk-as-Conan riff in Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, but the character didn't really work for me most of the time.  That's all changed with the new series, Indestructible Hulk. Minor spoilers for the first story arc follow.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Science! Week: There's No Superscience In Marvel Movies (And That's A Good Thing)

Okay, so maybe "no" superscience is overselling it a bit.  You do have the engineering feats of the Stark family, and the biochemistry of Bruce Banner and Dr. Erskine.  There's even the dimensional science from Thor, based on Asgardian tech and investigated by Dr. Selvig.  But there isn't a Reed Richards- or Hank Pym-style polymath to be found anywhere.  And that's a good thing.

There are some minor spoilers for Iron Man 3 and what's been revealed about the second Avengers movie below.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Go Read Superior Foes of Spider-Man

Our protagonists, in all their glory
Seriously, it's great.  The first issue came out a couple of weeks back, and it's one of the funniest comics I've read in some time.  It focuses on a group of Spider-Man enemies called the Sinister Six (even though there's currently only five of them) and their day-to-day trials and tribulations, many of which are caused by each other.  If this sounds familiar, it's because it's basically Hawkeye, but re-tooled for supervillains.  And that's fine, because it works, really, really well.  Minor spoilers below.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Problematic Powers: Super Speed

Before I start, the Problematic Powers posts are not going to be "lol superhero physics don't work in the real world you guys." Thanks professor, I don't think we could have figured that out by the fact that there's, you know, no one in the world with superpowers. No, these powers are problematic in terms of story. The very thing that helps to make the character interesting and entertaining for the reader (besides all that "personality" and "drama" stuff) also makes them difficult to write. Near the top of the list, probably duking it out with telepathy, is super speed.

Monday, July 15, 2013

New Project

I'm working on a new, top secret project that I hope to announce in a month or so.  Unfortunately, because the planning went long last night, I didn't get a chance to write anything for the blog.  I'll try to avoid that in the future, but I'd rather just come clean this time instead of slapping something together.  See you on Wednesday, when we'll be discussing the Flash and why speedsters are so hard to write.

Friday, July 12, 2013

All The Golden Age Comics You Can Stand

While I was looking for some things for a work project, I stumbled across Comic Book Plus, a huge, legal archive of golden age comics. They've got tons of stuff in there, including early Captain Marvel family stuff, Black Terror, The Fighting Yank, a bunch of western, romance, and sci-fi comics and a whole lot more. A word of warning: they're golden age comics, and that means there's a whole lot of stuff that is racist and sexist in there, so be aware that you are almost certainly going to stumble across some pretty vile things in there once in a while.  And they're golden age, so the art and writing is often... not so great.  But there are worse ways to spend a bit of your weekend than looking at some sterling examples of the history of the medium.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Great Comics You May Have Missed: Taskmaster: Unthinkable

A lot of people's favorite villains are the heavy hitters. Dr. Doom. Darkseid. Magneto. But I've always had a fondness for the working class villains, the ones that just want to rob a jewelry store, get out without hurting anyone they don't have to, then go blow their paycheck upgrading their gear or gambling or paying their child support. There's a lot of guys like this, from the Flash's Rogues to Batroc the Leaper, but one of my consistent favorites is Taskmaster, and they finally gave him a miniseries a few years back. And it's great.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Cutting Back A Bit

Work has gone crazy, and I'm going to be cutting back for the next couple of weeks.  Expect stuff generally Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next few weeks.  Monday's post next week should be about whether comic book movies actually influence sales of comic books.  See you then.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Awesome Losers: Aquaman and Hank Pym

Before anyone loses their mind in the comments section, let's be clear here:  I like both of these characters a whole lot.  But they are kind of problematic, often in some very similar ways.  They're both awesome characters, and they each had something happen to them in the 70s or early 80s that made them losers, whether that's in the eyes of comics readers, the general public, their own universe, or some combination.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Bad Art Theater: Injustice #17

Michael Richards IS Stanley Spudowski IN Batman Attacks a Telephone Pole

They couldn't even bother to have the 'U' in 'THUD'

Monday, July 01, 2013

Hoedown Breakdown: Diversity in Marvel and DC Titles

An interesting question came up on /r/comicbooks last night:  does Marvel or DC have greater diversity in its books?  I decided to do a quantitative and qualitative analysis of each company's projected superhero output for July 2013, and while I can't say I was terribly surprised overall, there were some interesting bits of data. The TL;DR for those of you that just want the good stuff is that, percentage-wise, Marvel blows DC away on race, DC wins on GLBT representation, and Marvel barely noses out DC on gender.  However, the qualitative analysis mostly goes Marvel's way.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Making Sense of Injustice

The video game and the comic book series, not the philosophical topic.  I could try the other one, but we'd be here for a while.  Spoilers below the cut.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Off-Topic: Introductions

Since I'm hoping to be blogging (and that is a weird verb) again regularly, I might as well introduce myself. Also, I'm slammed at work, and I couldn't come up with anything fun and/or thoughtful today, so I'll fall back on one of many crutches for lazy writers:  the origin story!

I'm a 38 (almost 39) year old software developer, living in a suburb of Dallas, TX with my wife and our five-month-old daughter.  I was born in Texas and have lived here most of my life, and I've been enjoying sci fi and fantasy, playing videogames, reading comics, and playing role-playing games for as long as I can clearly remember.  I've always loved the heroic ideal, and the way that superheroes personified that.  That's not to say I don't like other types of comics, because I do.  Some of my favorites have been titles like Preacher, Sandman, Fables, and Walking Dead.

But my first love in the medium is superheroes, especially those that hold themselves to a higher ideal.  While my list of favorites shifts pretty regularly, Captain America and Superman are always near the top.  I've drifted from the medium at times, notably during the dark days of the mid-90s when neither of the Big Two seemed to be able to put out a decent book, but I have a pretty good knowledge of the medium and its stories and characters, along with its real-world history and business practices, even from those dark days. I'm most familiar with books from the late 70s through today, but I'm at least somewhat knowledgeable about comics stretching  as far back as the original Superman and Batman stories, and of pulp heroes that came before them.

As for this blog in general, I plan to keep trying to make the stuff I've made for this first week: a little humor and hopefully some thought provoking criticism or analysis.  If you have any particular requests, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hoedown Breakdown: Ghost

Just so we're clear here, I'm talking about the Iron Man villain, not the Patrick Swayze movie.

Ghost started out as a pretty typical Iron Man villain.  He's an industrial saboteur that made his own powered armor which gives him the ability to make himself and other objects intangible, as well as gain access to and control computer systems near him. He also usually has weapons that fire concussive blasts or electricity, but he's primarily a stealth character and avoids using them as much as possible.  As was typical in the era he was created, his origins were glossed over in favor of a simple "this is a bad guy doing bad things" story, but the thing is that, other than fighting Iron Man, he's basically a vigilante, except that he doesn't fight guys with superpowers.  He fights corporations.

Now, admittedly, he often does it for money, but that seems as much of a bonus as anything.  After all, the Punisher regularly steals from the criminals he kills, but he's not out there shooting drug dealers for the money; it just happens to be how he pays for his expenses.  Ghost (we never learn his real name) has an axe to grind with modern corporate greed and, in particular, the military industrial complex.  He's like that crazy conspiracy theorist who thinks that GE is building spy satellites to control you through the fillings in your teeth.  Given the world he lives in, however, that's not actually crazy.

In the Marvel universe, you've got the military industrial complex building giant robots to kill their own citizens for being genetically different, experimenting on people to try to make super soldiers, and actively engaging in corporate espionage to steal technologies from one company to give them to other, less scrupulous ones.  The Red Skull managed to get himself into a position of power in the United States government using the ridiculously obvious name Dell Rusk.  Shapeshifting aliens have stolen and replaced major players in every field from government to corporate to superpowered heroes and villains.  Tony Stark built a satellite that literally made everyone on Earth forget he was Iron Man.  Ghost isn't crazy for believing that the powerful people, and in particular the corporations, are out to get him and the rest of humanity; he's arguably one of the few sane people in the Marvel universe when it comes to his beliefs.

Ghost is a really interesting and fairly underused character.  He's usually cast as a villain, although he's also been used as an anti-hero in Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers, but none of that really seems correct.  If you really take a step back and look at his actions, he's often more of a hero than the heroes he fights.  In a lot of ways, he's like a superpowered version of Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Burn Those Bridges, Kyle Baker!

I was done talking about Man of Steel, I swear.  But then something came to my attention this morning, and I had to make a post.  Kyle Baker is a fantastic artist and writer with a great, cartoony style who has previously done some great work for DC on their Plastic Man comics as well as other properties.  He also just posted a Flash game called Mass Murderer of Steel to his site.  It's not a very good game, but that's not really the point, is it?  Hats off, Mr. Baker.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Great Comics You May Have Missed: The Order

Marvel's Civil War event and its aftermath was problematic on a number of levels.  I'll probably get into all of that in a future post, but for now I'd like to focus on one of the really great things to come out of it:  The Order.  At the end of Civil War, every state had its own government sponsored super team, and California's was the Order.  What made them different from the typical teams was that each team member had powers that were given to them through a process that was designed in such a way that the folks running the program could flip a switch and take their powers away again.

The members of the Order normally had their powers for a year, and then they had to give them up.  If they were caught using their powers improperly, or doing things that could cause a loss of control (drinking to excess, drug use, etc.), they would have their powers stripped and a new person would replace them on the team with a new set of powers.  The core cast was a mixture of people from all walks of life, each with their own reason to want to be on the team.

Everyone on the team was a volunteer, which made it a really interesting idea from the start.  In comics, people that gained their powers voluntarily are very rare, primarily for story reasons, and those who do are usually cast as villains.  Civil War, in the beginning, was supposed to be about the conflict between personal freedom and civil duty, and The Order did a far better job of examining the issue than the main story ever did.  More importantly, it's a great, entertaining book, full of action, humor, and great dialog.  It unfortunately only lasted 10 issues, as Marvel told Matt Fraction he could either continue writing The Order or take over on Iron Man, and he understandably chose the latter, but the characters from the core team still show up from time to time elsewhere.  It's probably in my top ten of new books from the last decade, and it's cheap on Comixology right now.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Doctor Strange Movie Villains... Are Not Really Surprising

According to Latino Review, the Doctor Strange villains are probably going to be Dormammu and Baron Mordo... which is no surprise to anyone that knows the character, at all.  It's like saying, "Hey, Doctor Doom is going to be in a Fantastic Four movie!"  They are literally the only Dr. Strange villains that most most people who read comics but aren't Doctor Strange fans can name.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man of Steel: Great superhero movie, bad Superman movie

So, it's been a while.  I'm probably going to post here some more in the near future, but as to why I've started again, Man of Steel made me rage so hard that I ended up writing a dozen bloody paragraphs on reddit about it.  So I'm going to throw it over here for posterity; if anyone actually reads it, awesome.

Away we go.  Tons of spoilers in here, folks.