Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Editorials' Category

Versus

Posted by Don MacPherson on 15th May 2016

I managed to get out and see Captain America: Civil War in its second weekend of release, and as expected, it was quite entertaining. However, my Facebook feed was filled through the previous week with raves from the many comic-book enthusiasts and pros I follow on social media. Along with it was a fair bit of some familiar criticisms (even up to vitriol) — not for Civil War, but for Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The new Marvel movie isn’t nearly as polarizing as the DC/Warner Bros. foray into the super-hero genre earlier this year. I don’t understand why so many had such harsh words for the film (especially those who hadn’t seen it), but the comparisons between the DC flick and the Marvel movie were unavoidable.

Allow me to offer mine, sans spoilers (to the best of my ability). Read the rest of this entry »

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[Insert BvS Clickbait Headline Here]

Posted by Don MacPherson on 3rd April 2016

I didn’t see Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice until about six days after its initial release, so I wasn’t planning on writing a review of the flick. And I still don’t (though I fall squarely in the camp of those who loved it). There was a particularly flawed aspect of the movie that kept nagging at me, as it represents a professional itch that just wouldn’t go away. So I’ve decided to scratch it with a little rant.

While I feel BvS succeeds overall as an action movie, a character-driven drama and an effort to build a larger super-hero movie continuity, it fails in lesser aspects. Chief among them, how it handles the practice of journalism. I’m a newspaper reporter, so clunky depictions of my profession always irk me. And boy, did director Zack Snyder and screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio bungle the day-to-day operations of The Daily Planet at just about every opportunity (though there are few of them). Read the rest of this entry »

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Suicidal Ideations

Posted by Don MacPherson on 12th December 2015

We’re in a Golden Age of other-media adaptations of comics properties, with success after success leading movie producers to tap not only the A-list household names in comics fiction, but the B and C-lists as well. I had a great time when I went to Ant-Man this summer, each episode of The Flash is a viewing experience I relish and Jessica Jones has earned what seems like universal kudos. To think there are more live-action options available than animated ones is amazing.

Of all the upcoming TV and movie releases, one that has perhaps piqued my interest the most is director David Ayer’s vision of Suicide Squad. I was a huge fan of the John Ostrander-penned/Luke McDonnell-illustrated comic series of the 1980s (which was the second incarnation of the Suicide Squad, as it started out as a military/adventure property in the Silver Age). I own a couple of pages of McDonnell’s original art from Suicide Squad, and I’ve always checked out subsequent takes on the concept (though none of them boasted the same hook and skilled storytelling as Ostrander’s run). Read the rest of this entry »

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The Importance of Jessica Jones

Posted by Don MacPherson on 26th November 2015

It’s been 14 years since the first issue of Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos was released in comics shops. I was taken with the book immediately, which came as no surprise, as I was hungry for anything Bendis penned at the time (and I continue to follow some of his mainstream Marvel work today). When an adaptation of that series was announced as one of the TV series to be developed by Marvel and Netflix, I was pumped and eager to see what would arise.

Jessica Jones, the said streaming TV show, was released a week ago, and like so many others, comics lovers and non-readers alike, I binge-watched my way through it fairly quickly. What I found was something that, in terms of plot, was quite different from the Bendis/Gaydos source material, but thematically and tonally, it was consistent and just as compelling. The story is different, but the subject matter is the same.

Something else has changed, though, and that’s cultural context in which I experienced this adaptation of Alias. Read the rest of this entry »

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Scheduling Conflicts

Posted by Don MacPherson on 6th June 2015

In recent years, schedules have emerged as vitally important cogs in my everyday life, personal and professional. Routine is key in childrearing, so we have a schedule to which my wife and I adhere pretty closely every day, every week. My boss laments the monthly scheduling of staff in the newsroom, but without that complicated labor, some of the myriad of tasks and assignments that need to be done daily would no doubt slip through the cracks. I have to keep an eye on the schedule to ensure my usual duties haven’t been trumped by a fill-in shift of some kind, covering for one editor or another.

In publishing, keeping to the schedule keeps the business going. Deadlines exist for a reason. There are penalties for missing press times at the printers. If one thing goes amiss, the whole endeavor can fall flat. But when it comes to scheduling, the release of the first volley in DC Comics’ latest rebranding and relaunch demonstrates the publisher has completely missed the point of the benefits of good timing and the pitfalls of bad timing. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Tale of Two Daredevils

Posted by Don MacPherson on 17th January 2015

For about four years now, writer Mark Waid and his artistic collaborators (mainly the amazing Chris Samnee, as of late) have been crafting what is almost universally hailed as Marvel Entertainment’s best (or one of its best) ongoing super-hero titles, Daredevil. Waid’s novel take on the title character’s sensory powers, his exploration of some more obscure Silver Age characters, the incorporation of the title character into the larger, more wondrous elements of the Marvel Universe and the various artists’ brighter approach to the character to match the fun tone in the writing have all combined to achieve something new and interesting that’s spiced with a love of the old. It’s a wonderful read, and I just finished reading the latest issue — another entertaining and surprising bit of fantastic fiction.

And it just might be the wrong Daredevil comic for Marvel to publish at the moment. (But not really. Stick with me.) Read the rest of this entry »

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When You Get Your Name In Lights

Posted by Don MacPherson on 24th August 2014

When it comes to other-media adaptations of comic-book properties, I think it’s safe to say we’re something of a Golden Age of quality entertainment, unrivalled and unseen since the days of the many movie serials of the 1940s. Technology has caught up with the imaginations of the men and women who crafted super-hero adventures for years, and movie producers have realized that not only is there a thirst for good super-hero adaptations, but they’re looking at comics for projects other than that genre for which the medium is best known (at least in Western markets).

The biggest movie blockbuster of the summer is the supremely entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy. The most watched show on television is The Walking Dead. Marvel owns super-hero genre adaptations on the big screen, while this fall, DC Entertainment is poised to reign supreme with a full slate of shows — Arrow, The Flash, Constantine and Gotham — on various networks. Fans who grew up with comics in the 20th century could never have imagined such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to seeing beloved characters brought to life.

But speaking of embarrassment and riches, this seemingly unyielding trend of comics adaptations has stoked the flames of controversy, at least among followers of the comic-book industry: respect (or a lack thereof) for the people who actually crafted the characters and concepts that Hollywood is using to harvest big bucks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whatever Happened to “Whatever Happened To…?”

Posted by Don MacPherson on 2nd August 2013

When I scanned this week’s list of new releases in comics shops, an item I hadn’t expected caught my eye. Among DC’s offerings this week was Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents Superman Team-Ups Volume 2, a softcover, black-and-white reprint of a lengthy run of stories from DC Comics Presents from the Bronze Age of comics. As regular readers of Eye on Comics know, I’m a huge fan of the classic DC and Marvel team-up titles from that era, and while I own quite a few of those comics, I planned on adding Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2 to my library.

I was pleased to find a copy of the book for sale at my local comic-book shop, as I hadn’t pre-ordered it. But when I picked it up off the shelf and thumbed through the pages, there was something I didn’t find: the entirety of the contents of each issue included in the book.

Beginning in #25, DC Comics Presents featured regular backup stories entitled “Whatever Happened To…?”, explaining what became of Golden Age and Silver Age characters that hadn’t been seen for years. Now, this development started with the first volume of this particular edition of Showcase Presents, as it included #s 25 and 26, but I didn’t clue into the omission until this second volume hit stands this week. Read the rest of this entry »

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Take This Job and Shove It

Posted by Don MacPherson on 22nd October 2012

One of the industry’s big super-hero comics publishers made another successful foray into mainstream-media public relations, with DC announcing Clark Kent is quitting his job as a news reporter at The Daily Planet in a soon-to-be-published Superman comic book. My immediate reaction to the news was simple: “So what?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Love, Exciting and News…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 22nd August 2012

Since I’m working night shifts this week, I’m sitting at home today, waiting for a particular sound: the sound of the Internet breaking in half (again). In another well-executed public-relations move through the mainstream media (Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly), DC has announced its central New 52 line of comics will feature a landmark relationship: Superman and Wonder Woman are going to be a couple.

Purists are going to lose their heads, arguing Superman is meant to be with Lois Lane. The argument ignores the fact the two characters spent years apart over the course of their histories in various media; I’m specifically reminded of the time in the 1980s in Superman and Action Comics when Clark Kent and Lana Lang were together as adults during Clark’s stint as a TV anchor.

Still, anything that purports to go against the status quo (or “tradition,” as it’s usually presented) always seems to elicit strong reactions among comics fans, especially when availing themselves of the immediacy of online communication. I doubt this time will be any exception. If Marvel hadn’t debuted a multi-racial Spider-Man last year and DC hadn’t reinterpreted one of its Green Lantern characters as gay this year, the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship would’ve had the potential to stand out as the a perfect example of how comics fans can overreact to something that “happens” to fictional characters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Joe Kubert, 1926-2012

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th August 2012

Joe KubertI remember the first time I encountered Joe Kubert’s artwork. It was in DC Special Series #19, a “Secret Origins of the Super-Heroes” themed digest featuring one new story (a retelling of Wonder Woman’s origin) and a bunch of reprint stories. Among them was a reprint of The Brave and the Bold #43, featuring a Hawkman story by Gardner Fox and Kubert. I would’ve been eight years old when the 1979 digest was published. I hardly possessed the most refined eye or appreciation of comics storytelling at that early juncture in my almost-lifelong love of the medium, but I was immediately struck by Kubert’s distinct style, especially in the context of so many other super-hero stories by a diverse array of artists. For an eight-year-old kid to recognize the uniqueness of a super-hero artist’s work is a testament to the powerful visual “voice” Kubert had. Read the rest of this entry »

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Posted by Don MacPherson on 5th August 2012

DC softball team logoI’ve been reading DC Comics titles since the late 1970s, before I even reached double digits in terms of age. As such, I’ve read, from time to time, of the exploits of the comics publisher’s softball team over the decades. Back in the day, its accomplishments and defeats were chronicled occasionally in the pages of its various comics in supplementary/advertorial material. In recent years, the folks responsible for Blog@Newsarama have kept the industry apprised of the team’s games.

On Facebook the other day, I stumbled across a link to a blog, the DC Bullets blog, which offers more detailed accounts of the team’s efforts and no doubt the fun its members have on the field. Honestly, I don’t have much of an interest in rec-league softball in New York (or anywhere else, for that matter), but what caught my eye wasn’t the link to the game report, but the team logo (seen at the right). Read the rest of this entry »

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Will the Real Batwoman Please Stand Up?

Posted by Don MacPherson on 24th June 2012

In September, DC is trying to recapture some of the sales and marketing success it had with the launch of its New 52 initiative a year before with a slate of zero issues for all of its core, New 52 titles (which is a slightly different lineup than it was a year ago). A zero-issue month is far from a new phenomenon for DC. It had one in 1994, coinciding with its Zero Hour crossover event. Zero issues have become, perhaps unfortunately, a much more common gimmick in the world of mainstream comics, especially in the super-hero genre. Still, there are times when I see the use of the odd numbering shtick. Read the rest of this entry »

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Put Up Your Dukes

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th February 2012

My appreciation for some super-hero publishers’ event books is no secret. There was a time when my reviews were known as “Critiques on Infinite Earths,” a nod to DC’s landmark 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first big crossover event book. Unfortunately, over the years, the crossover has, for the most part, devolved into a sales gimmick super-hero publishers — mainly Marvel and DC, though smaller publishers have taken their own stabs at the subgenre — trot out to inflate sales on waning titles and boost its bottom line. As a result, it’s become something of a dirty word among discerning comics readers and fans of good super-hero storytelling.

Still, occasionally, some interesting work can be found in such event titles. Marvel’s Civil War started off strong with its exploration of the conflict between personal liberties and security. Secret Invasion followed up on such themes by tapping into Western paranoia over terrorism and growing multicultural diversity. While many of Marvel’s more recent event titles have fizzled in the end, at least they started out being about something.

And so, that brings us to Avengers Versus X-Men. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wound Up

Posted by Don MacPherson on 1st February 2012

I’m not looking forward to the various Before Watchmen comics DC will publish later this year. I do plan to read many of those comics, though. It’s not out of interest in the characters or out of curiosity to see into what DC is building the brand. It’s because in general, I enjoy comics by the likes of Brian Azzarello, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, J. Michael Straczynski and other creators involved in the project.

As anyone familiar with Watchmen and its history of publishing politics in the many years since its initial release in the mid 1980s knows, opinion about using the characters and concepts writer Alan Moore crafted so long ago is polarized. Read the rest of this entry »

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