Each week, Matt Wilson, co-host of the War Rocket Ajax podcast and author of the Supervillain Field Manual, examines a major comic news item and reviews four of the week's comic book releases.
One of the questions that's been swirling around my circle of comics pals on Twitter is whether comics news sites are too focused on movie stuff.
It's a casting rumor here or a possible director there; it's tons of conjecture about what a little comment might mean here (turns out Katee Sackhoff wasn't in talks to play Captain Marvel after all) or something a writer says on Reddit suddenly being God's precious truth (Max Landis can pitch "Wonder Woman" to Warner Bros. all he wants, but that doesn't mean it'll happen).
That last example particularly set critics off this week. Over at Badass Digest, writer Devin Feraci had an especially biting critique of bloggers who picked up Landis' Reddit comment that he was considering pitching a "Wonder Woman" movie and reported that as news that he was in the running to make a film. He's right; a guy intending to maybe do a thing is, when you get right down to it, in no measurable way news.
And yet it gets reported. And people read it. They share it. It drives clicks. The members of the Internet comics community can't get enough of these movie tidbits. I can tell you right now: Sites wouldn't deign to cover this stuff if it wasn't attracting eyeballs.
So why are we so interested? Well, in this particular case, there's a contingent (and I'm a part of it) that would really, really like to see a "Wonder Woman" movie get made, even if it's a bad one (and personal opinion dictates here that Landis' would be a pretty bad one). It'd mean something about the viability of female leads in superhero movies that no other franchise, not even Captain Marvel could do. So here, a big part of it is people just wanting it so bad.
Another, I think, is that movies are something that a broader community shares. Only certain readers with certain preferences are going to care much about the newest "Infinity" tidbit or what's being teased for next month's "Chew." And those are some of the most popular comics being published. A much, much larger audience has an interest in who's possibly getting cast in "Guardians of the Galaxy."
Still, we probably have gone overboard with this stuff. I'd have never thought there could be as many words written about James Spader being Ultron as there have been, but here we are. I'm sure, soon enough, we'll be finding out what Ben Affleck's eating for lunch and determining what that means for his portrayal of Batman.
And that's fine. Be interested. These superhero movies are something we share, and they won't last forever. (That may be another reason why we're so hungry for news about them; we're afraid they're going to end.) But it's good to know where to draw the line. Some things are friviolous but true; others are pure invention.
And now for the comics of the week!
(Marvel Comics, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee)
I'm didn't know we needed a Marvel version of the Trayvon Martin case and I'm still not sure we do -- at the very least it seems to be a little too soon -- but Waid and Samnee handle what they set up here with a degree of grace I certainly have to commend. What seems for a few pages to be something uncomfortably political instead turns out to be a gripping setup for a supervillain plot, and characters who had lots of potential to be problematic reveal themselves as very human and relatable. I'm not wholly sold on this premise for an issue, but the handling of it, as well as the early scenes with Foggy, is sound as always.
"Justice League" #23.3/"Dial E" #1
(DC Comics, by China Mieville and 20 artists)
I never could get into "Dial H," even though I really wanted to. I chalk it up to the art; Mieville's scripts were often paired with grimy visuals I just couldn't get past. This unofficial last issue of the series (even though it's nominally a Justice League issue) doesn't have that problem, though. Every page is a delight in one way or another as the two main characters use a dial to turn into dozens of different villains. They all offer something funny or beautiful or intriguing to look at (I'm particularly fond of Jeff Lemire's self-parody page). It's a great sendoff.
"Bloodshot & HARD Corps" #14
(Valiant Comics, by Joshua Dysart, Christos Gage and Emanuela Lupacchino)
This feels very much like the first issue of a whole new series. The tone has changed dramatically from that of the first "Bloodshot" arcs, and on the one hand, that's great. The story keeps moving and we meet a lot of new characters. On the other, I can't help but be a tad disappointed that we won't be getting more of the really effective atmosphere the title had before. I can't be too upset, though. Dysart and Gage set up a lot of intriguing stuff about the new HARD Corps here and Lupacchino's art has a dynamism that's hard to resist.
"Dream Thief" #5
(Dark Horse Comics, by Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood)
When I saw that this was the last issue of the series, my immediate reaction was to ask, "What? That's it?" "Dream Thief" is a premise that could easily sustain an ongoing series, or at least a whole bunch of minis, so I hope it continues in some form. As for this issue, it feels like a rush to an ending. Moments that could have benefitted from a little more time and space to really hit sort of fly by instead. Smallwood's creative page layouts still sing, and Nitz wraps everything up in a fairly satisfying, yet open-ended way. The story just could have used a bit more room to breathe.