Street-Level Heros and Hotties

In comic book parlance, heroes are rated by the power level they have and where they do most of their work. The kind Hollywood often tried and almost always failed to bring to life on the big screen has been what they termed “Street Level” heroes. (Batman has been the exception to the rule.) These are heroes who’s powers are not necessarily that powerful. They aren’t Thor. And often their villains are of the normal human world, the mob, cartels, corrupt government officials, spies, etc.. Despite his long association with the Avengers, Captain America is considered a Street Level hero because own his own, he is not that physically powerful. In his own title, he is usually dealing in “normal” human crime and political intrigue. Think Avengers films vs. Winter Soldier.

Daredevil is the epitome of the Street Level Hero. Beyond his senses, he has no superpowers. He’s not super strong, he doesn’t fly, he can’t heal quickly. The guy really has nothing but his knuckles (and batons) and iron will out there on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. And that is pretty much where he usually stays. He occasionally gets wrapped up in the Hand, etc., but Hells Kitchen is his home and he is going to protect it.

Now we all want to erase the two hours of torture that was the Ben Affleck movie. And the Netflix series does that. It’s fantastic. They got everything dead on, and it works. The plotting is fantastic, the characters and actors perfect. It totally rocks.

Dare Devil

Not in the least helped by the fact that they got a perfect actor for Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Charlie Cox nailed the character. Righteous without being self righteous. Cynical while trying to make the world a better place.

Who is Charlie Cox?

So if you saw Stardust (and everyone should), the fairy tale for grown ups written by Neil Gaiman (fantastic book, fantastic movie, especially due to the casting), you may remember this adorable fellow.

Charlie Cox Stardust1

Who became this handsome young fellow.

Charlie Cox Stardust2

Who now looks like this. Rawr.

CharlieCox

(Have I mentioned I love brown eyes? And beards?)

And is playing this guy:

Charlie-Cox-as-Matt-Murdock

Who this character’s secret identity.

 

MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL

Daredevil

Even if the superhero-angle was not involved…

Charlie_Cox_shirtless_1

I don’t usually go for guys that much younger than I am, but HOT DAYUM! I’d wake up with him every morning. And not get out of bed for three hours at least.

(Though sadly, he too is a victim of entertainment industry’s chest waxing fetish. Poor lad.)

Charlie_Cox_shirtless_8

I just spent the weekend catching up/power watching (it’s a sport, damnit) Jessica Jones (oh so satisfying ending)  and the second season/series of Daredevil. The whole Frank Castle storyline was awesome (Best on-screen Punisher E-VAR! And I appreciated the character rejected the PTSD defense because it was “an insult to those really dealing with it.”). But I just hated Elektra. I did not understand why Matt wasted time when he was desperately needed elsewhere, by the people who were truly his friends, on that spoiled, manipulative, murderous, self-involved bitch. She keeps breaking the biggest ground rule he lives by, and he’s keeps folding. The sex must have out of this world for him to decide their differing moral codes don’t matter.

In the comic book, Elektra’s death is one of the great tragic stories of Marvels history. The TV show? “Oh thank the Gods…wait. NO! Don’t bring her back to life!”

Yes, they uncovered a horrific conspiracy, but we’re supposed feel Matt’s angst being torn between these two utterly unlikable characters (Elektra and Stick) and the two characters we adore (Foggy and Karen) when I just wanted to slap the guy. I even felt bad for Frank Castle/Punisher.

Otherwise, the show is fantastic. Just the scene in the graveyard between the Punisher and Daredevil is perfect. It was the perfect reveal, even for a jaded comic book audience who knew why the Punisher did what he did.

This what Daredevil and Jessica Jones are: They live at the human level.

jessica-jones-netflix-poster

Jessica Jones was, at points, hard to watch. Not because of the physical violence, but the emotional brutality. It should also come with a trigger warning to anyone who has been through an abusive relationship or been raped because Kilgrave is a rapist and psychological abuser. The writers put the classic words of projection, gaslighting, blame the victim, accusation they wanted it, “I wouldn’t have done that if you had behaved,” etc., and then the “pity me, I only do this because horrible things happened to me” flip, of a rapist and abuser into Kilgrave’s mouth and they were delivered with completely frightening verisimilitude by Tennant. I watched Secret Smile a long time ago (utterly, catastrophically, abysmal plotting) and he does do that creepy abusive stalker ex-BF thing well. Kilgrave just gave him a chance to dial it up to 11. He is completely sociopathic/psychopathic. And not in a cute way like Sherlock. In an utterly “People are things to be used, toyed with and disposed of, usually by making them kill themselves in utterly grotesque ways for shits and giggles.”

Jessica Jones Kilgrave

I heard Ten/Doctor Who fans were having kittens.

And yet Tennant makes Kilgrave’s love for Jessica (at least the closest Kilgrave can come to loving someone other than himself) feel “real.”

JessicaJones

And yet, in the almost the same breath he can order the servants he has in thrall to “peel the skin from their faces” if Jessica does not return to him in the two hours promised. (And Tennant makes it work by underplaying moments like that.) He is evil. But his warped care for her, his honest shock and heartbreak of betrayal, it’s “real.” You can’t feel sorry for the guy because he is one of those creatures who needs to be removed from the face of he planet. But it made his character more terrifying because of where those emotional extremes pushed him to. How dangerous Jessica is making him because of his feelings towards her.

JessicaJones2

I liked that Krysten Ritter was utterly fearless about making Jessica unlikeable.

JesicaJones

MARVEL’S JESSICA JONES

You usually never see that in a lead. Even if the character is written as unlikable, the actor tries to find some way to make them appeal to the audience. Ritter’s Jessica did not give a shit, but people who have been through a major, life-altering trauma often are unlikeable. They’re prickly, if not actively shoving people away, untrusting, cynical, emotional mood swings. They are extremely adept at keeping people at a distance. And after time, you actually come to like the brutally brusque, drunk, foul mouthed, shame and remorse-filled, dishonest, skirting the edges of morality (occasionally falling over it), courageous, flawed heroine she is. It’s an excellent portrayal of someone who is still a victim stumbling and trying to find her way to survivor. Ritter is brilliant. She’s not afraid to go there. You get to like and root for the character not just because you sense her underlying goodness that she herself can no longer see because of the shame she carries for what was done to her. She’s a hero in spite of herself, in spite of Kilgrave trying to destroy that in her. (And Ritter played that perfectly!) You want to see her crawl back into the light. You want to see her conquer her mental and physical rape, because that is what he did, for an extended period, by conquering her rapist.

And it was so satisfying when she did. (Yes my dears, spoilers:)

 

And I like that it was not “I’ve killed my rapist and suddenly I’m whole.” That was just her first step. That’s real. There is no magical switch you flip and it all goes away.

The plots was intricate and extremely well done and satisfying, the actors were all brilliant. These are two great shows.

And I’m not just saying that because of this…

Carlie Cox

Really. I’m not.

Truly.

(Adorable and shirtless!)

Advertisements

My Geek Advice for the Day

Now, when I say “dealers” I’m not talking about your local comic book shop (LCBS), I’m talking about the online dealers. LCBS tend to be nicer because you are a face they see every week and what they are charging is right there. So it’s harder for them to be a dick about it. However, if they have tons of those issues, they may not take your collection because their market is limited locally they do not need 27 copies of an issue because they will never sell all 27 of them and they don’t have a ton of storage space for the overflow.

Online dealers, which sell country wide, are another mater entirely. These are people operating out of warehouse, selling to thousands or more comic book collectors country-, or even world-, wide.

Last year I came to the hard decision to sell my comic book collection. I had stopped collecting years prior. Modern comics were expensive at $4 a pop when I stopped collecting, while the value of them had gone down. It used to be a $0.95 cent comic would take you 20 to 30 minutes to read because there was a story there, with text. But now it’s all splash pages, with admittedly gorgeous art, but little story, that you can blow through in ten minutes, max.

I read a report somewhere that said that by cost vs. length of enjoyment,  comic book collecting was one of the most expensive hobbies one can have.

I also did not like the yearly crossovers of the Joe Queseda era which disrupted storylines within individual titles and forced readers to buy copies of titles (at $4 a pop) they would not normally buy in order to keep up with the story. An occasional company-wide crossover is cool, but yearly? It quickly became apparent that Marvel was using it as a marketing tool rather than a way to tell a great story (because some of them were just not that great). Even the writers were getting pissed because the crossover would bring the story they were trying to tell in their own title to a grinding halt while they dealt with this stupid storyline forced on them. I remember Peter David put up enough of a stink they let him brush off one with a single issue and sit out another.

And what was worse was all the stories were heroes fighting heroes. Some of that is cool. It spices thing up a bit. Non-stop it just becomes depressing. That is not what comic books are supposed to be about. That’s not what heroes are supposed to be. When JMS took over Thor, he made that a very distinct point as Thor wandered around the ruins of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

thor3_001

Where were the heroes? Why did they not protect humanity?

Because the editor of Marvel comics had them too busy beating the crap out of each other almost constantly.

So I saved my money and dropped out of the scene. My collection just sat. I realized it was doing nothing proving my “geek cred” and taking up space in my closet. My favorite stories I had in trade paperback (TPB) form for easily accessible reading. I didn’t need the comic books anymore, and I do need the money. So I went through the process of cataloging all my comics in a spreadsheet. (Which was not so bad as I had them well organized with title separators etc.)

Which is good because it was eight long-boxes worth, over 1,000 comics, most Bronze age, 1980’s, but some from the 1970s and a few from the 1960s.

Now, ever since the comic book bubble burst in the 1990s, buying a comic is like buying a car. It immediately starts to lose value when you walk out of the store with it. I knew that. I knew I was not going to get “Blue Book” value for them. I figured with the $800, $700 bucks would be the low ball offers I would get for the entire collection.

I sent dealers my catalog spread sheet, and the only offer I got was $250 for the entire thing.

What.

The.

Fuck.

I looked at what the dealers were charging for these comics and they were trying to pay me pennies for books they would charge $80, a $100 for.

It was complete B.S..

Half, I would understand, but $250 for a thousand comic books, some dating back into the 1970’s and 1960s?

No excuse except pure unadulterated greed. It’s not like they are paying rent for a storefront, they’re keeping these comics in a warehouse.

So I started selling them on my own, individually, undercutting the dealer prices by like half or less.

I made $250 selling just seven comics. Seven. Out of a thousand.

Now, not all of them are worth that much and there has not been a ton of interest in some titles I thought for sure would sell at cheap prices. But still, $250 for offering seven of my comics at half or less than half the prices the online dealer were charging.

So to my geek friends, if you reach the point where you really need the money or that collection has just become the monkey on your back, do not go to a dealer. You will not just get ripped off, you will get an insultingly inconsequential amount of money for your collection that you spent years pouring your heart into.

It’s a slow process. It takes work to photograph, carefully look the comic over to give the customers an accurate idea of the grade of comics they are getting (how worn or not worn it is), research what is being charged by the dealers for that issue to gage your own price, etc. and then sell them on your own.

But it’s worth it. It’s like textbooks: You and the buyer make a much better deal than either of you would going through professionals.

Prepare Yourselves…

…for mas violence, foul language and breaking the 4th wall. Repeatedly.

And chimichangas.

Yes, it’s Marvel’s first R-Rated movie (which really was the only way they could do justice to the character). Since Blade anyway.

First there was the viral trailer to get the fan momentum going for this film that came out last year (which had the best use of “Just Call Me Angel” in an film or TV program, ever). Then the release date announcement.

Then the leaked trailer from ComicCon (which has some additional footage than the official trailer below, but it’s small with really crappy resolution) a few weeks go.

Then the teaser for the official trailer.

And now, for to make Geek-Happy! This, people, is Deadpool.

NSFW, small children, sensitive AI’s and fainting goats.

It’s is so good to be a geek these days.

Nice Touch

New footage in the beginning.

In the comic books for a very long time the only other person who had wielded Thor’s hammer was Cap because he was worthy. Rodgers moving it slightly and Thor’s fading smirk are a nod to that. I wonder if they will take it beyond the nod.

(Later an alien hero named Beta Ray Bill would also be found worthy enough to wield Mjolnir and Odin had a new hammer forged just for him.)

Speaking of Comic Book Magick Users…

Benedict Cumberbatch to Play Doctor Strange.

strange1Benedict-in-Screen-Magazine-04-2013-benedict-cumberbatch-33870098-1280-15491

Niiice.

He was never in the running in my “dream casting,” but he more than capable of taking on both sides of Doctor Strange: The man of science and magick. Strange has one of the more dramatic origin character arcs, going from world famous and coldly egotistical surgeon, to destitute and desperate loser, to humble adherent who learns to truly care for others, to Marvel’s Master of the Mystic Arts, responsible for the safety and magickal/spiritual well-being of the entire universe. In short, it’s the kind of role Cumberbatch can eat up with a ladle.

In the past Strange has too often been treated as an exposition machine by other comic book titles, aloof, all knowing, but sometimes a writer comes in and makes the character fun. A character who can be in the otherworld, but who’s core of humanity ensures he is never of it.

And there is his interest in sports.

Can’t get hockey scores on the Astral Plane.

Is this your phone?

And the fact while he does truly care, one of Strange’s defining characteristics/flaws is confidence that occasionally crosses the line into dangerous arrogance. He has fucked up, and fucked up badly, a few times to the point he has voluntarily relinquished his title for a time. But he does have a wry sense of humor, rather necessary in his line of work, and humanity that will balance nicely with the arrogance to keep the character from falling into a Sherlockian pigeon hole. (Though I can see him using touches of Sherlock’s arrogance for the beginning of Strange’s story.)

I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂

Constantine

Constantine comicconstantine-poster-600x818

I am a Marvelite longstanding, but DC simply does magic better. It’s darker, wilder and the people writing and drawing it know their RL occult stuff, often grounding in history which makes it WAY more creepy than the random demon from another dimension as Marvel does it. Marvel too often treats magick well, like magic: A wave of a wand to fix problem. Magick in the DC’ verse is much less under the control of human magick-users, they are playing with fire in a big way and it is just as likely to bite them in the ass as help.

Constantine is not the Sorcerer Supreme of the DC ‘verse (if anyone, that’s Doctor Fate, and even he is a double-edged sword). He is a wildcard badass who uses more trickery than magick to end evil. Sure he knows magick, but he is not magically powerful (or at least not the most powerful). It’s more that he is dead clever with it which makes him much more dangerous than your average bear.

I can’t find scans of it, but in one story, the mobster-type bad guy has tied Constantine up on the edge of the Thames where the tide will drown him. Constantine gets the guy to name everyone he’s killed.

“Funny thing, names. Names have power…”

And the corpses of all his victims rise up out of the river and kill the guy.

He’s an Alan Moore character. Need I say (no pun intended) more?
Constantine’s stories tend to walk more of the horror side of the fence (and being dark and off on the Vertigo imprint, the writers also have more freedom in their storytelling to sometimes get profound), so I have not read about lot of Hellblazer or his eponymous series. But what I have seen of him in other series and Gaiman’s Books of Magic, he is awesome.

I watched the pilot of the Constantine TV show over the weekend. I thought it was solid. Pilots are never awesome, they are usually too busy establishing everything to tell a first rate story. I thought Ryan did a good job (though Constaintine is supposed to be a Scouser). It looks like they set up a lot of the universe fairly true to form, with some nice fanservice/continuity nods (the helmet of Doctor Fate being the biggie). It’s made clear he does smoke, he just doesn’t do it onscreen. Yes, it’s sanitized, but did we really expect a occult horror story on primetime network TV? It will be interesting to see if they keep his bisexuality from the comic. And I am *really* hoping they bring in Swamp Thing.

There is a lot of potential in the show. I’m waiting to see how it develops over the next few episodes.