Sorry to use a picture from The Big Bang Theory — especially since I don't know if this comic book store-running character is actually awful or not — but since he appears to be staring at his customer's breasts, it seemed a decent bet that it would be appropriately representative for our first letter. Now on with the mail!
I've been a fan of the X-Men since the early 90s, when I watched the (awesome 90stastic) cartoon. I've enjoyed (most of) the live action films, especially the most recent, X-Men: DoFP. I've never been able to keep up with the comics, but I'd like to read about the important story lines, character origins, X-Men history, etc. The problem is that there's a ton out there and I haven't a clue where to start. Do you have any recommendations? Perhaps there are some compiled anthology-type materials?
I've asked at a comic book store once and the guy just rolled his eyes at me and said they weren't girly comics, so I shouldn't bother...
Well, screw him. I want to get into this, but I just don't know the best starting points.
Okay. I really want to help. But first there's something I've gotta do.
Dear Mr. Comic Store Employee Who Told Lori To Stick To Girly Comics, and Every Comic Store Employee Who Has Ever Done or Said Something Similar: Eat shit.
Seriously, go to the bathroom, take a dump, don't flush, go grab a spoon and fork, and just eat that shit up. The fact that it's 2014 and you have the fucking gall to assume a woman who enters your comic store does not want or somehow cannot handle a superhero comic is both insane and fucking horrible.
Is this the most awful act of misogyny in the world? Unfortunately, as recent events have shown, it obviously isn't. But it's so needless, so petty, so clearly, transparently incorrect nowadays that it drives me insane that this is still happening, or that it ever happened. And I don't mean just morally wrong, I mean factually wrong. Unless this idiot has somehow ignored all the women who have entered his store, and never been to a con, and never been online, there is copious proof that women like all the same nerdy stuff men like. ALL OF IT.
And I get extra offended any time a nerd pulls this shit. I remember being a nerd in the '80s and '90s, being ostracized by my peers, and the fact that any nerd would willingly choose to do the same thing to anyone, let alone another nerd or potential nerd, appalls me. We should know better. We do know better. Second of all, I remember a severe dearth of nerdy girls growing up, and I would have done horrible, horrible things to live in the gender-even nerd renaissance we live in now.
He is a Neanderthal. A nerdy Neanderthal. A NERDANDERTHAL. Fuck him.
Oh, right. The best X-Men comics. Okay, trying to somehow catch up and get the full summary of the X-Men's long history is pretty much impossible, because it's like a soap opera — crazy things happen pretty much constantly, and that's not even getting into all the spin-offs, and it's been 50 years of this madness. So the best thing to do is just accept that the X-Men have an ever-changing roster of relationships, and read the best X-Men stories you can.
I'll tell you first to start with Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. Not just because it's Joss Whedon, and thus a lot of fun — although it is — but because it tells its own stand-alone story very well. If you're a big fan of the '90s cartoon, look for the Jim Lee/Chris Claremont stories — they don't have any specific names, but you can find collections of them easily enough.
You really can't go wrong with any of the big '80s X-Men stories from Chris Claremont — The Dark Phoenix Saga, The Hellfire Club, Days of Future Past, and God Loves, Man Kills — there's a reason Claremont is considered the best. Going back earlier, rather than read the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics, I'd suggest trying the X-Men: First Class or X-Men: Season One comics, because they're usually more accessible for modern readers. But if you want to go back to the beginning, I certainly won't stop you.
And last but certainly not least, I enjoyed the hell out of Jason Aaron's recentWolverine and the X-Men. It's a weird line-up, Wolverine is somehow in charge of a school, there are a ton of new young mutant students — but it's a blast to read.
I'm sure plenty of people will have suggestions for you in the comments. Enjoy. And buy those books on Amazon.
Green With Envy
Let's assume that there's a parallel universe out there, one where DC/Warner decided it was time to set up a cinematic universe of their characters.
It's 2008, the year Green Lantern, their chosen bet to start this endeavour, opens at the box office.
What would this movie be like and how it would set a Justice League movie in 2011?
Well, it wouldn't. I'm sorry to play a party pooper, but WB/DC would never, ever have started a Justice League cycle without Batman and Superman first, and besides, Green Lantern actually came out in 2011, in-between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and Chris Nolan's serious/grim/realistic/gritty Batman was off-limits from other superheroes. And before that, I'm sure Superman Returns was potentially going to be a beginning to a DC Cinematic Universe, but then Bryan Singer made it a crazy love letter to the first two '70s Superman movies and it bombed.
Basically, you can't build a cinematic universe with bombs, and the only successful DC movie of the '00s — Batman Begins — was more or less based on being a world without all the other superheroes in it. WB/DC has been fucked from the very beginning. Even if 2011's Green Lantern had become a hit, that wouldn't mean Batman wasn't still off limits. Maybe in Green Lantern 2, they'd introduce The Flash or some other second-tier DC heroes, but they'd still have to wait for Nolan's Bat-trilogy to be over and for Superman to reboot before they could make Justice League.
What I'm saying is even if Green Lantern had been a success, the new Batman and Man of Steel and Justice League movies would still come out at the exact same times they are now. Maybe there'd have been a Green Lantern 2 by now, and maybe a Flash spin-off this year or next. But the Justice wouldn't Dawn until 2015 no matter what.
Dear Post-Apocalyptic Postman,
I don't know how else to say this, so I'm just going to say it: Why didn't Michael Bay work on a toy-related movie franchise more suited to his proclivities (idolization of the U.S. military) like G.I. Joe, and would satisfy his lust for explosions? Did he just think Transformers was more of a "blank state" to work from, or what? I can't really think of an answer, and I was hoping you can.
Transformers was the crown jewel in Hasbro's group of intellectual properties. A toyline that could not only easily be translated into a summer blockbuster, but a toyline that had literally been on toy shelves since its 1982 debut; G.I. Joe has been around a lot longer, sure, but it's also come and gone several times over the years. Transformers was #1, It also probably helped that Transformers was more scifi action than military action, and thus somewhat more suited for a summer blockbuster.
So Transformers was the property that Hasbro brought to Hollywood first, and of course nothing is certain in Hollywood. There's no telling if a G.I. Joe would ever be made, and the best bet to make it happen would be to make Transformers the biggest blockbuster possible anyways. So if you get Michael Bay interested in Transformers — who, despite being an awful filmmaker, routinely makes movies that earn zillions of dollars — you say "You're hired." You don't say, "Enh, we have a project you might enjoy more later, even though there's no telling if you'll be busy working on something else." You go for the opportunity in front of you, because there's no telling what happens next.
Now, you'd think Bay would jump at the chance to jump off Transformers and direct G.I. Joe, right? Wrong. Michael Bay doesn't have any affection for G.I. Joe. He also doesn't have any affection for Transformers, or any of the source material for his movies. Sure, G.I. Joe is better suited to Bay's love of the military, senseless explosions, and hot girls in skin-tight pants, but Bay doesn't care because he'll just cram what he wants to actually film into the Transformers movies. He wins because he shoots what he wants to shoot, Hasbro wins because the movie makes a zillion dollars, and Transformers fans lose because this will not change until Bay decide he no longer wants to make zillions of dollars. Look, if somehow someone had offered him the ThunderCats movie and he took it, you know it would somehow include the military, senseless explosions, and hot girls in skin-tight pants, right?
The Yawn of Justice
My question is actually about the newly titled "Batman v Superman:Dawn of Justice." To me, the title sounds like a crappy videogame and I cringe every time I read it in my mind. But why? Marvel loves using subtitles, too, but for some reason, all of their movie subtitles sound cool. "The Dark World," "The Winter Soldier," even "The Age of Ultron." They sound like comic books, sure (because, well, two of them were named from the comics), but even with that comic book feel, they just sound...cool.
"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" sounds clunky, like they couldn't think of a title and just decided to slap some subtitle on the name they were already thinking about. Do you agree? Or might there be a different reason why this title just doesn't work, while Marvel's do? Thank you for your service!
Good question! And there is an answer. First of all, the "V" doesn't help. Virtually no one uses "V" to mean "versus" anymore except in lawsuits; and no film titles have ever used "v" instead of "vs." — including legal movies like Roe Vs. Wade. The "v" isn't technically incorrect, it's just totally unusual, and thus sounds super fucking weird every time it's read or said. So that doesn't help.
As for the subtitle: The Marvel movie subtitles are about something, they mean something, even if people don't always know what that is.. "The First Avenger" is clearly a specific entity and that pulls you in, because you're curious what an avenger is. (It also helps that the Marvel movies had already laid some groundwork by mentioning "The Avenger Initiative" a few times)."The Winter Soldier" is clearly a Captain America foe, so people know hey, Cap's going to be fighting a dude named The Winter Soldier. What's his story? "The Age of Ultron": Who or what is Ultron, and is he going to be so powerful that it's really going to be his age?" These titles literally say something about their movies.
Contrasted to these, "Dawn of Justice" is meaningless. "Dawn" is a very nebulous word that's overused in movies already, and "justice" is an idea more than a thing. Most of all, the "Dawn of Justice" is dumb, because Justice has existed before this stupid movie, and even in terms of the DC Cinematic Universe, Superman was already getting justice in Man of Steel, and the whole thing is just… nonsense.
"But it clearly refers to the Justice League!" you say. That's true; it refers to it. But it doesn't say it, and what it says is dumb and generic. Imagine this title:
"Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of the Justice League." A little wordy, but infinitely better, right? Because it's actually telling us something, and it's something we're actually interested in. It means something. Somebody at WB/DC should write me goddamned check.
Hi Mr. Postman,
I know you are a deliveryman, and not a lawyer. And I also assume Lawyers when you come from probably use sniper rifles rather than courtrooms for civil matters. But you seem to be on your game about the whole Marvel trademark deal.
I read on io9 today about Hugh Jackman wanting Wolverine to be part of the Avengers movies and how this will not happen. Got me thinking, can Marvel create a character that every single person knows is basically wolverine, but they call him like beast man and give him 4 finger claws and whatever and be from space instead of being a mutant?
If DC and Marvel can just copy each other with characters like Green Arrow and Hawkeye or (fill in the blank on just about every character) could a company do it to itself? If you don't reply I'll check with the FTD guy I know from another dimension.
They could, but to what benefit? Let's call this new four-clawed-space-man Ferret. He's really good at what he does, and what he does is socially frowned upon. Who cares? Comic fans doesn't want a knock-off Wolverine, and the general X-Men movie-loving masses don't want a knock-off Wolverine. And if the Ferret had to act with a legally safe amount of variance from Wolverine, what could he possibly add to Avengers? Best to just leave it be and hope Fox Studios gets hit by a meteor.
Dear Postman, I hope this letter finds you alive and well.
I know there is speculation that Mysterio will be a villain in the next Spider-Man movie, but I doubt that, and here is why. Quentin Beck, the man who becomes Mysterio, is a skilled special effects artist who works on movies, so I could easily see him in the modern day as somebody whose work is become less and less relevant, as CGI overtakes the practical effects that Beck was known for in his prime. Bitter about being phased out, he turns to a life of crime, using his skills not only for revenge but also to prove that he can still make people believe in something that isn't real. The biggest irony is that, wouldn't the target of his rage be, of course, the very Hollywood studios that make movies like The Amazing Spider-Man? This sort of makes him the perfect Spider-man movie villain but, also the one least likely to feature. What do you think?
Actually, when Mysterio was introduced in 1964, he became a super-villain because he thought the special effects industry was being phased out. He didn't have CG to worry about, but it's the exact same deal otherwise. He simply decided to use his SFX talents to become a super-villain, with his first job impersonating Spider-Man robbing a bank, thus framing him.
So while you could decide to have Mysterio wage a war against Hollywood studios, you could also have him develop SFX with which he knows he can emulate Spider-Man, head to New York City, and pull the bank heist, presuming he'll never be caught. Spidey finds and catches him, and an archenemy is made. This makes far more sense than, say, Peter Parker refuses to give his dying friend Spider-Man's blood because of a completely theoretical side effect that, again, perhaps his friend's giant goddamned building full of scientists could possibly identify and counter-act. Just one man's opinion.
Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the email@example.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!