Monthly Archives: February 2013

Skyfall: A Review

Skyfall. Scene Porn. That’s what I think of when I think about this movie after watching it. I mean damn! Shanghai, Istanbul, London, Scotland, Macau, and Silva’s Island. Wow. All of those scenes are amazing. Especially freaking Shanghai. The cityscape is amazing. And the fight in the building. Wow. And the casino scene in Macau? Absolutely jaw dropping. If nothing else, the cinematography of this film is just amazing.

But what about the plot? Don’t watch Skyfall paired with From Russia with Love. Seriously, don’t do it! I mean it! 

Anyway. . .

In Skyfall, M herself comes under attack from a vengeful agent, Raoul Silva/ Tiago Rodrigez. With a parliamentary inquiry looking into her handling of the secret service, M must rely on a presumed deceased Bond to put an end to Silva’s rampage. But it ends in tragedy. 

Why? Because Silva wins. Yeah, he dies first, but he achieves his objective. And there is no other way they could play it. What better way to give Judi Dench’s M a fantastic sendoff? 

In a way, Skyfall is a rather confusing film. The past is depicted as being in conflict with the future. And while the film clearly, with a heavy hand, supports the past, the future is depicted as being unavoidable. The old order passes in this film, even as Bond makes a case for the continuance of his world. 

But, to further complicate the theme, Skyfall features a return to classic Bond. M is a man, Moneypenny is finally introduced, and so is Q. However, as the original dynamic is restored,  it is highly modified. The new M is given far more of a backstory than any previous M, including Dench’s own. Moneypenny is a former field agent turned personal assistant. And Q is reimagined as a computer genius. Very interesting. 

I really like the film. But I agree that the final third of the film is drags compared to the first two-thirds. And the “epilogue” is disappointing. 

I look forward to what the next Bond film is, but I do not want a return to the cheesy Bond of Moore’s run. 

Skyfall is a fun movie. And one of the better Bonds, in my opinion. Just don’t watch it paired with From Russia with Love or, honestly, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I mean it!

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Valentine’s Day Special: On Gay Relationships in Comics and Television

Oh, Valentine’s Day. A day of love. Or at least spending a ridiculous amount of money on boyfriends, girlfriends, friends in general, family, classmates, etc. Personally, I hate that Valentine’s Day has become so damn commercialized. Like most other holidays. But this is not a ranting post opposing the commercialization of our holidays. Rather, I want to write about the depiction of gay relationships in comics and television. With maybe some ranting thrown in.

I’ve written about gay romantic relationships in fiction before. But I want to do a little more. I want to interrogate this issue. I want to figure out what my own stance is. And I want to do something about it. 

Taking Characters Out of the Dating Pool

The great thing about DC’s New 52 is the continuing commitment to include increased levels of character diversity. Among their number are the reimagined Green Lantern of Earth 2 (Alan Scott) and new creation Miguel Jose Barragan (Bunker) of Teen Titans. I’ve gone on record repeatedly extolling my love of James D. Robinson’s work on Earth 2 and of his treatment of Alan Scott in particular. I’m not as up to date on Teen Titans, but I have seen Bunker’s coming out scene to Wonder Girl. And it was awesomely funny, in my opinion. But, I do have some issues with them, too.

Alan Scott’s boyfriend, Sam, is killed in his first appearance. This, unfortunately, classic superhero origin archetype pushes Green Lantern to become a superhero. Like Batman honoring his parents and Spider-Man honoring Uncle Ben, Green Lantern honors his love for Sam through his heroism. This is an awesome development (and similar to Mikaal Tomas’s Starman during Robinson’s run on Justice League). But this does prevent any hints of romance coming Green Lantern’s way for a good while yet. The man needs to properly mourn the loss of the love of his life, after all! Unless he, too, pulls a Mikaal Tomas at some point. . . 

Bunker is in a similar situation to Green Lantern. At least I think he is. I don’t know for sure, though, if this has been mentioned in canon yet. There has been numerous reports that Bunker has a boyfriend. He’s just in a coma. How convenient. Personally, I think a better approach would either be that Miguel is, honestly, far too busy trying to survive to spend any time dating. Or, he could just be, you know, single. Anyway, Bunker hasn’t really been explored in depth as of yet. He hasn’t gotten an arc of his own. So we’re in the waiting game with him for now. 

The Curse of the One True Paring

Wiccan and Hulkling, Apollo and Midnighter, and Kurt and Blaine are all core (or at least major) pairings in their respective series. Each relationship has, for good or ill, captured the imagination and devotion of the fandom. So, what’s my beef with these couples?

Let’s take a quick break from comic books and deal with Klaine first. If you’ve read my previous posts on Glee, you will know that I have major issues with how Kurt’s storyline has gone. For the purposes of this post, I’ll limit my ranting to one thing: until recently, Kurt has never, really, had a counter suitor competing with Blaine for Kurt’s heart. It was (and is) Blaine or nothing (though originally Sam). And for me, I’ve always had issues with this relationship. I don’t really see it as healthy. And I suspect there is a large amount of settling going on here. 

Now, I think part of the problem lies with the writers. They’ve done a terrible job with Kurt, in my opinion, and they’ve done an even worse job with Blaine. But the lion’s share of the blame goes to an unwillingness to introduce more LGBT characters to complement, contrast, and support the major preexisting LGBT characters on the show. 

Why is Blaine the only out guy that Kurt meets before his senior year? And if the original plan with Sam came to fruition, would Blaine have been only a one off? Ugh. Lima, Ohio isn’t in the middle of nowhere. It is a large town within a few hours drive of three large cities: Toledo, Dayton, and Columbus (the largest city in the state and home to OSU). And there are no other out youth in the region? What about Dalton? Wouldn’t it have a (hypothetical) GSA? Why does Kurt never (to my knowledge) express a desire to seek out people who get him in ways that no one else ever could?

Now, back to comics. The argument can be made that Wiccan and Hulkling have been romantically involved before the first series even begins. And, under the argument that Wiccan has gradually become the main protagonist of the entire Young Avengers saga, their romance is the central romance of the series. I love that. But I’m torn, too. I love the fact that Billy and Teddy have such a strong, central relationship. But I have problems with them, too. 

In my review of Young Avengers #1 (Gillen and McKelvie), I mention that I love the fact that Billy and Teddy are passionate. Remember, that is only their second on panel kiss. But I must ask a follow up question: In the same issue, Kate Bishop wakes up after sleeping with Noh-Varr. So, will future issues depict Billy and Teddy in a similar fashion? I hope so. 

As far as their relationship itself? I like it. I like that they are “sickening” in a romantic and sappy way. But, they could use some drama. Eventually. 

Moving on to Apollo and Midnighter, I love how Paul Cornell handled the hesitant flirting the two engage in before they fully join the team. And I love how Apollo rages against being in the “superhero closet” as it reminds him oh so painfully of being in the closet when he was younger. 

I dropped the series with issue 10, so I don’t know exactly what has gone on since. And it does look as if the current Stormwatch team is imploding for a second reboot. Or something. Not really looking forward to it. 

The Problem Explained

So, why doesn’t Kurt have another romantic option during his rather torturous courtship with Blaine? Simple, there is a pressure to keep the numbers of LGBT characters low so that the property doesn’t become “too gay” and lose “mainstream” audience (or readers). If Kurt were to join Dalton’s (hypothetical) GSA, started his own at McKinley, or got involved in some form of LGBT youth group in Columbus, Glee becomes too openly political and activist. But if only a few recurring characters are added (Blaine, Sebastian, Dave, and Adam) with a few more one offs (Jeremiah, Chandler, etc.) then Glee doesn’t have to deal with “too much gay.” 

A similar occurrence exists in the DC Universe. I don’t know if this is apocryphal or not, but I remember reading that an editor on Teen Titans didn’t want Bunker to be “too gay.” Whatever that means. Of course, given the nature of superhero comics, dropping in on the local Gotham City LGBT community center might be a bit of a problem if one has to save the world on a regular basis. But it would be a nice character moment.

What has gone unstated is that while it is okay to depict a (limited) number of LGBT characters, it is not okay to explore those characters in a more aggressively sexual way. Just look at Kurt and Blaine with their anemic first time and lackluster passion. And how long did it take for Wiccan and Hulkling to finally kiss (on panel)? We can, I think, do better.

Doing Something About It

Ranting and bitching solves nothing. Except maybe bullying the creators of Glee (if a large enough number of fans are involved). But, honestly, that doesn’t satisfy me. I want to do something. 

I want to create and write the LGBT characters that I want to read and watch. But I also want to make the work (in whatever form it is) as appealing to everyone as I can. The question, I guess, is if I can have my cake and eat it, too. Can I have a large audience/ readership and not sacrifice my vision for the work, especially when it comes to matters of diversity? I think so. 

Two Comic Book Reviews: Wonder Woman Vol. 1 and Saga Vol. 1

I’ve been procrastinating about doing my review of Saga. I read it last week, but I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Should I begin with the story of how I acquired the volume? Or should I just jump into the review? 

And how should I explain my lateness with my Wonder Woman review? Well, it took the library a long time to get the book. Curse their preference for trade paperback! Oh well, I’ve read it. So now, I’ll review both. 

Saga Vol. 1

Where do I begin with Saga vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples? Is it one of the best new comic book series from Image? Is it one of the best new comic book series of 2012? Yes and yes. 

Saga is simply freaking awesome. The story is at turns both epic and incredibly personal. The sweep of an intergalactic war as seen through the eyes of a Romeo and Juliet couple struggling to protect their hybrid daughter. Just amazing. 

The writing is incredible. The juggling of the various story lines is almost pitch perfect. And the pacing is just rip roaring. 

Are there problems? Yes. While the series is wildly imaginative, there is a been there done that vibe as well. Especially with the usage of the bounty hunter characters the Stalk and the Will. I found the Will’s storyline to be a little cliche (which is actually brought up in chapter nine). And I have issues believing that Landfall and Wreath could force other worlds to participate in a proxy war. But those are minor concerns and quibbles. And I’m not the type of science fiction fan who goes crazy at the first sign of issues with world building. 

The art is, honestly, phenomenal. There is a playfulness that corresponds well to the highly imaginative universe envisioned. 

So, if you haven’t checked out Saga, do so. I doubt you will be disappointed.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood

Wonder Woman is, perhaps, the most important female super hero in comic books. But writing her is famously difficult. Except for rare instances, there has never really been a definitive statement on Wonder Woman’s personality. 

Well, I would argue that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s New 52 run on Wonder Woman is that definitive run. 

Why?

Greek mythology. Simple as that. 

Wonder Woman is inspired by the mythology of ancient Greece. And, honestly, that rich tradition and story potential has been neglected by too many writers on Wonder Woman.

Well, no more. The gods of Olympus are running amok. Zeus is gone, Hera is raging at Zola and Hippolyta, Strife is. . . causing strife, Poseidon is a hoot, and Hades an imp. Just awesome. And the point is that none of them are exactly “super villains.” Not Ares, Wonder Woman’s former arch enemy, who has become apathetic to the throne of Olympus. Not even Hera, the arc’s main antagonist. Yes, she is vengeful over Zeus’s dalliances, but that doesn’t make her evil. Just a goddess who can’t help herself. 

The plot is simple (and classic Wonder Woman). Hera is targeting Zeus’s latest conquest (Zola), and Hermes and Wonder Woman struggle to defend the young woman. But in that simple mission, many complications arise. The truth of Diana’s parentage is revealed, the ripples of the contest for the throne of heaven, and Hades’s anger at being used. 

The art is interesting. I rather like it. And the coloring is quite good. But when it comes to long shots, the characters tend to be a little too simplistic. But still, the art is good. 

I’ve said several times that I’m enjoying the current Wonder Woman run. I really should have this series in my pull list. Now, I just need to get volume 2.

 

The Superbowl (and Things)

My last post was almost a week ago. I just haven’t found anything really interesting to post about. And I think I needed a bit of a break. Then I remembered what happens tomorrow. The Superbowl.

How  long has it been since I last wrote a sports related post? Too long, probably. Hell, I think I’ve only ever blogged about sports no more than five times (my former co-writer covered that). 

Anyway, I wanted to discuss the big game. I’m actually looking forward to this one, compared to last year’s. 

But, who am I rooting for? I like both teams on the field. So my choice will have to be off field. 

Normally, I’d go by city. So under that rubric, I’ve got San Francisco (as I’m less familiar with Baltimore- I did live in S.F. a few years back). 

But, I’m also upset with the 49ers for a number of issues. So that would argue the Ravens. 

Maybe I’ll support both teams. That way, my team “wins” regardless?

Now, enough football. What do I have planned for this coming week?

I want to do a review of Saga. Though I may have to reread the first volume. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it is as good as Earth 2

I also want to explore my issues with musicals. I’ve tried watching a few that I’ve TiVOed. And I must say I still can’t stand them for long. 

What else? Oh, yeah, I wanted to rant (some more) on PBS. And rant (again some more) about the lack of interesting television programs (in my opinion). 

Finally, I want to throw out some free ideas. These are ideas that I’m never going to act on, but someone might want to. 

Until my next post. . .