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Comic Books

Guardians of the Galaxy

Viewed: Theater

I’ve been excited and anxious to see this movie since I first saw the trailer. Marvel Studios has been making some fantastic superhero movies — many of these Marvel movies are in my top ten favorites of all time. But, unlike the other Marvel movies, I wasn’t familiar with this title as presented in the trailer.

I remember the Guardians of the Galaxy from the 1990s, but this movie team is completely different. The GotG I know were from the 31st century, and the team roster was completely different.

This is issue #1, (which I own), and the team shows no similarity to the movie characters. But, a couple of the individual movie characters, themselves, I do recognize. Although, again, they seem a bit different. For instance, the Drax the Destroyer I know of is super strong and flies and shoots energy blasts from his hands. Gamora, I know of also, but not so well. The others, Peter Quill, Rocket, and Groot, I’ve never seen in a comic. From what I’ve read recently, *this* GotG team is based on the newer, 2000s, version of the comic group.

But, hey, I didn’t follow the original comics version of GotG much beyond several issues, and I know the Marvel movies are based on their newer stories and reboots of all their characters. So I wasn’t looking for a movie to show the older GotG. In fact, from what I remember of the older GotG, those characters probably wouldn’t make a good movie anyway.

I’ve come to trust Marvel’s ability to produce a good comic book/superhero movie. And with this movie, they have confirmed my trust is well placed. Guardians of the Galaxy is a great movie!

I took both Calfgrit13 and Calfgrit9, and two of their neighborhood friends to see the movie this past weekend, and we all liked it. (I loved it!) It’s well written, well acted, well directed — just a total good flick, all around.

And although I don’t know this particular team from the comics, I did recognize many of the other characters — Thanos, Ronan, The Collector, Nebula, the Nova Corps, and more. I also recognized the overall Marvel Universe — Marvel has done excellently well with staying true to their comic universe as well as keeping it consistent through the various movies they’ve produced.

This movie has great characters, great action, great comedy, and brings them all together very well. I want to see it again, so Wifegrit has already agreed to a date night for us to see it together. (Usually we wouldn’t waste a date night sitting in a theater, both of us looking away at a screen, but I do really like this movie enough to trade in a romantic dinner one time for it.)

Bullgrit

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Batman Comic – The Killing Joke

The Killing JokeI don’t often get to go to the library with the family, because they usually go during a weekday, when I’m at work. But we went all together one evening this week. I helped Calfgrit6 pick out a couple of books on hamsters, (his newest animal interest), and then I looked over the graphic novel section.

As a comic book geek, I’ve heard of Batman: The Killing Joke a few times over the years, (it was published in 1988), but I’ve never read it, personally. I like the stories Alan Moore wrote for Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, (both of which I own), so I figured he’d tell a good Batman story, too. But this story left me all “What the hell?”

It starts out with Batman going to Arkham Asylum to have a heart-to-heart chat with the Joker. And I’m not using “heart-to-heart” as a euphemism for Batman growling and hitting, either. He actually says, “I’ve been thinking lately, about you and me. About what’s going to happen to us, in the end. … I just wanted to know that I’d made a genuine attempt to talk things over and avert that outcome.” Batman is sitting across a table from the Joker, and the only person missing is Dr. Phil.

Well, it turns out that Joker has already escaped and Batman is actually talking to some idiot in makeup, (which Batman only figures out after he accidentally smears the makeup). Yeah, the World’s Greatest Detective is fooled by clown makeup, sitting within three feet of his arch nemesis.

Meanwhile, the Joker murders a man. Then he invades Commissioner Gordon’s home by shooting Barbara Gordon, (the Commish’s young-woman daughter), permanently paralyzing her from the waste down. He then has a thug beat and capture Gordon while he strips Barbara and takes pictures of her broken and bleeding naked body. He takes Gordon to an old carnival and humiliates and tortures him with the naked, bleeding pictures of his daughter.

Now, I understand that the Joker is a mean SOB. He’s a murderous psychopath. Yes. I’m not writing that above paragraph because I’m surprised at what the Joker is capable of, nor to disturb any readers who may not fully comprehend that the Joker is truly evil and not just “funny crazy.” But explaining the above puts Batman’s actions into context.

Batman goes to Barbara Gordon’s hospital bedside and tries to comfort her. He then gets the Joker’s invitation to come to the carnival. So, of course, Batman goes.

Batman goes a short round of fighting with the Joker, but the Joker gets away. Batman frees Commissioner Gordon, and then goes on after the Joker again. When they fight again, I’m rather surprised at how badly Batman fights, or at how well the Joker fights back. The fight ends not with the Joker unconscious, but with the two of them having the Dr. Phil conversation that Batman wanted to have in the asylum.

Batman and Joker LaughingAs I’m reading everything Batman is saying, I swear, I’m stunned. The Joker is standing there, free, listening to Batman plead for them to not hate each other. As it starts to rain, (which I believe is God trying to give Batman cover for the tears probably about to roll down his cheeks), the Joker tells a joke. Joker immediately cackles, and then Batman starts laughing with him, as the police sirens arrive.

Yeah, it was a funny joke. But the man telling it has, in just the past day or so, murdered a man, shot and crippled a defenseless young woman, stripped her naked and took pictures, and captured and tortured an old man. You don’t plead for peace with such a person, and you don’t share laughter with him. You freakin’ beat him to death. With your fists and boots. Okay, sure, Batman doesn’t kill. I always thought that was because he was strong and had principles. But from this story I see it’s actually because he’s a big ol’ wuss who’s afraid to do what frickin’ needs to be done to make his city safe.

Bullgrit

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Old Comic Book Stories

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was reading through some old comic books. In that earlier post, I talked about the vintage advertisements in those old books. Well, now I want to talk about the old stories told in those pages — really hokey stories. I’ve noticed two patterns in the old stories that now just astonish me.

The first story pattern is how coincidental everything is. I know coincidence has always been a part of story telling, especially comic book stories. And it still is a part of story telling, especially comic book stories. I mean, really, it seems that Peter Parker can’t go to the library without some super villain attacking. But I always looked at that as: Peter goes to the library all the time, and nothing ever happens; the comic book story only bothers to show the time something does happen. We comic book readers wouldn’t be interested in reading about the dozen times that week that Pete sat in peace and studied his chemistry. It’s the one time when Green Goblin blasts in, and Pete has to change into Spider-Man, that we buy the comic for.

But some coincidences are just so unbelievably lucky or unlucky that I just have to roll my eyes. For instance, in Iron Man #174, (September 1983), when bad guys are breaking into Tony Stark’s labs, (where he keeps several sets of the Iron Man armor), Tony’s allies fly the suits away via remote control. This is a neat trick and bit of team work. Eleven suits of armor fly up and out over the coast and are ditched into the Atlantic Ocean.

In the next issue of Iron Man, we see that the suits of high-tech armor came to rest on the ocean floor right next to Warlord Krang’s palace. Out of the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Iron Man suits coincidentally fall right in the lap of “a water-breathin’ Hitler,” as Nick Fury describes him in this issue. Really. That’s like a nuclear-powered satellite falling out of orbit and randomly crashing within the walls of a certain compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, (before May 1, 2011).

Iron Man 175

The second story pattern is how quickly comic book stories get resolved. The story about the rush to grab the loose Iron Man armors could easily fill six months worth of comic book issues, what with S.H.I.E.L.D going in, Krang’s troops going for them, and Iron Man himself rushing to beat both of them.

Hell, Nick Fury says the armor fell into international waters, so imagine how many countries, including the U.S., would be mounting recovery, (read: looting), expeditions. It could be a whirlwind (whirlpool) of activity with a dozen opposing groups trying to be the first to find, collect, and get away with the Iron Man armors. That’s a whole friggin’ epic story arc, right there; that plot could be running as main and sub plot for years to follow.

But no. The whole story is started and finished in one issue. Iron Man ends up slagging the whole collection of extra armor suits with a “fusion pod.” What a waste of a really good plot. Did the writers have so many stories in backup that they could so easily solve and throw away such potentially long-lasting plots?

Bullgrit

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Comic Book Ads

I was reading through a few old comic books the other day, just for fun and relaxation at the end of a long hard day. Half the fun of reading old comic books is looking at the old advertisements through the pages. For instance, let me show you some from an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man published at the end of 1979. (I would have been 12 years old.)

This first one is on the inside of the front cover:
BULLGRIT 1979 Comic Book Ad
Oh man, do you remember air rifles? I remember I had a Daisy single cock rifle, and later my little brother got a Crosman pump rifle. One of my good friends back then got a pump air pistol — that thing was awesome. We’d pump that sucker as many times as our muscles could manage, and then we’d shoot a Sears catalog to see how many pages it would penetrate. Does anyone even sell air rifles anymore? I haven’t seen one in a store in ages.

These next two ads jumped out at me at the time I was reading the other night mainly because I had just worked out that evening:
BULLGRIT 1979 Comic Book Ad

BULLGRIT 1979 Comic Book Ad
I love these! The old days when women were too skinny because they didn’t eat right, and men could get an Atlas body in one week! What the hell were people eating bad in the 70s that caused them to be too skinny?

And lastly, t-shirt iron-ons:
BULLGRIT 1979 Comic Book Ad
Cheryl Ladd, Suzanne Somers, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders! Hubba hubba. Oh, and “Kiss Rock Group”. Iron-on transfers for a buck. For comparison, this comic book cost 40 cents.

Bullgrit

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