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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thoughts on the Black Panther Trailer-I'M NOT IMPRESSED



I caught the Black Panther trailer at the library on Monday.


 And I’m still NOT impressed.


From what was presented in the Black Panther trailer it’s looking like a major disappointment. Flat visuals, uninspired acting and a predictable storyline I’ve seen a Kajillion times. There wasn’t a single thing presented in that two minutes that would persuade me to pay for a movie ticket to see this movie.


Black Panther’s story looks to be by the numbers. Sellout Killmonger is trying to challenge Real Brotha T’Challa, for the throne of Wakanda so he and The Evil White Man Klaw can plunder the nation’s resources and get all the Vibranium out of the great mound to sell to White folks.


Meh. But what can I expect from the company that produces Minstrel shows like Scandal and The Mayor?


If Marvel Studios wants my $15 they’re gonna have to give me a better story than a re-hash of a 1970s Blaxploitaition movie with some warmed over special effects from nine-year old Marvel Studios movies like Iron Man and Captain America: Civil War.


I’m starting to see why Ava DuVernay walked away from this movie. Clearly Disney didn’t want to put any real effort in their story or present something unique. From the flat uninspired visuals and one-dimensional acting. From what I’ve seen onscreen the Director of Fruitvale Station is WAY out of his depth. Again, I see more frames of him telling instead of showing, and his characters don’t become people with any sort of depth, dimension, personality or “voice”. There’s nothing special about them. Nothing to make me like anyone. Nothing to make me CARE about anything in this movie.


Yeah, Black Panther features Black characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But that’s all they are. Black.


I’m sorry that’s not good enough for me. If Blade could give viewers a strong Black hero and a compelling story in visually strong film in 1997, then why can’t Black Panther give us MORE in 2017?


As a Black fantasy and sci-fi fan, I want MORE from a superhero movie featuring an African American character than them just being Black. I want a rich story filled with depth and substance. Multidimensional characters. Original special effects. A fresh take on a Black superhero that makes everyone take a look at Black culture and see something special. That’s something I don’t see on the screen of Black Panther.


I know it’s possible to give Black audiences MORE. Because I do it with every book that I publish. When I write I dig deeper looking for that richer story, something that puts a fresh take on Black culture and the Black fantasy genre.  When I write a story I want it to be special. Something unique. Something that opens up a readers’ imagination and see the Black world from a different perspective. Something that makes them think.


I believe if I made a Temptation of John Haynes movie I know it’d BLOW THE DOORS off what was presented onscreen calling itself a Black Panther Movie.


 If that’s the Black Panther trailer I know the film will be par for the course for the growing list of mediocre projects at Marvel Studios. Ever since Luke Cage got shot with a Judas bullet Marvel Studios has been losing its way creatively. If Kevin Feige doesn’t get it together I’m having a feeling that Avengers: Infinity War is gonna be the LAST Marvel Studios movie we see. Period.


Many people in the Black community want Black Panther to be an epic. However, there’s nothing to make me believe this movie will be epic. To say it was made by a Black director and a Black screenwriter is a disappointment. There was little imagination in that trailer, and very little creativity. Nothing to POP and make you think this film is distinct. Black Panther looks like looks like something cut and pasted from a dozen Marvel Studios films with a bunch of stock Blaxploitation characters with the names of Marvel characters cut and pasted onto them. From the Uncle Tom Killmonger, to the Evil White Man Klaw, to Black Momma, Black Panther is paint by the numbers. Black audiences deserve better than this.


I was on the fence about buying a ticket for Black Panther. But from what I saw onscreen it’s looking more and more like a PASS. Yeah, I want to support a Black Superhero movie. But I want a GREAT Black superhero movie. One people will be talking about for generations.

 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Temptation of John Haynes Audio Excerpt

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts on the Arrow Season 6 Premiere





I’ve sworn off most CW Comic book Shows because they suck donkey balls. However, after that KICKASS Season finale of Arrow last year, I said I’d check out the season premiere when it came on in the fall. And it does not disappoint. With the way things are going I have to wonder if Arrow is finally starting to hit its stride.


The premiere opens strong with The Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow taking down a group of mercenaries who have aimed a missile at Star City. The team makes light work of the mercs But Ollie gets hemmed up before the boss launches the missile. However, Mr. Terrific takes out the guidance system with a T-Sphere. To my surprise Mr. Terrific actually presented as competent for once instead of a being a bumbling stumbling idiot. I guess Greg Berlanti finally started listening to fans, or he started reading some of the blogs I wrote roasting the misinterpretation of this great character.


Also I’m not a fan of Wild Dog’s new outfit. Yeah, it’s all tactical and shit, but it’s not what Max Alan Collins and Terry Beatty envisioned him as. Wild Dog’s costume didn’t need no fixing!


There’s a brief flashback sequence where we find out what happened on the island in the aftermath of the big explosion. With the story detailing Ollie’s past over it looks like the flashback sequences are gonna be the aftermath of Chase blowing up the island. Great, because there’s a wealth of story material there and I’m eager to see how it relates to what goes on this season.


After the takedown of the bad guys, the action shifts to the Star City P.D. where Dinah is interrogating one of the masterminds of the missile plot. She asks where Larry is. After she goes to get a soda for the criminal he’s left with an Asian cop because...Diversity. The Asian cop sits there as the guy takes out one of his teeth, puts it in the soda and it blows up the interrogation room. Mercs come in, kill cops and blow up the stationhouse and we find out the mastermind really is….Black Siren. Interesting choice for this year’s villain.


And while all this is happening Larry Lance is at a bar pondering whether or not he should have a drink or three. Because in a flashback sequence he shot at Laurel from Earth 2 and that made him think of killing his own daughter. After Dinah and Larry talk, it’s speculated that Larry is Black Siren’s target because he tried to kill her. 

The Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow go to take her down on a stretch of highway. In the second bout with The Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow and the mercs and Black Siren, we learn John Diggle is having some problem with shooting people. I find it interesting how Berlanti expresses his racism in passive aggressive ways this year instead of overtly. First the Asian cop gets blown up, then Wild Dog gets injured due to Diggle hesitating in a combat situation due to what seems to be PTSD. So in order to give us a competent Mr. Terrific we have to have Wild Dog injured and Spartan presented as a Scared Brotha.


 Damn. Just Damn.


But I guess you can’t have two competent Black guys in one TV show, because that’d make some of the racist White male fanboys feel inadequate about seeing two strong, intelligent masculine Black men onscreen in their superhero show.


As the episode goes on, we get some more subplots setup. Slade going on the quest to find his son. What happened to Thea (She in a Coma) and Ollie’s baby mama (She Dead). And the strained relationship between Oliver and his son. While Oliver goes to make a speech at the graduation of a Police academy class, Diggle is at the Arrowcave and The Outsiders-I mean Team Arrow are with him looking to protect Larry Lance who they believe is the target of Black Siren. However in a plot twist, they attack the Arrowcave. Scared Brotha Diggle tries to hold his own but his issues with whatever trauma he experienced on the island keep him from shooting anyone.


That’s the only thing about this premiere that makes no sense to me. After spending years fighting in military combat and at Ollie’s side all of a sudden Diggle is now terrified to use his gun. I’m sure they’ll explain it later in the season, but it just looks like Berlanti is just finding a way to passive aggressively emasculate Diggle and present him as a scared brotha because he can’t give us a bumbling stumbling Mr. Terrific. Seriously, I wish dude would get over whatever issues he has with Black men. Because it’s sucking the life out of all his shows.


With Diggle jammed up, Green Arrow comes in and saves the day. After setting off some charges, Black Siren and her mercs clear out of the cave. At the end of the episode we find out the only thing taken was an unprogrammed T-Sphere and it’s revealed on the news that Oliver Queen is The Green Arrow on Channel 52 news.


BOMBSHELL. Guess I gotta tune in for next week’s episode. 


Overall it was a very rock solid season premiere for Arrow season 6. The writing was TIGHT in this one, and it setup several very interesting storylines for the year. This Season Premiere felt more like a comic book come to life than any season of Arrow ever produced.


While I’m done with CW’s Supergirl, The Flash Legends of Tomorrow and Riverdale, I’ll stick around for a few more episodes of Arrow. Season 6 is starting strong and it looks like the writers have finally figured out how to make a DC Comic come to life onscreen. If they can payoff all the storylines they set up in the season premiere we may be in for the best season of Arrow EVER.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thoughts on New York Comic Con 2017


Yeah, this blog is a week late. But I needed a minute to digest all the sights I saw at New York ComicCon last Thursday. And I saw a LOT at this year’s show. It was so much I had to keep from having sensory overload.


I had a GREAT time at New York Comic Con. I Saw Austin St. John of the Power Rangers, Wrestlers Ted Dibiase, and Ron Simmons, and a bunch of cool Goth stuff like a Tea & Absinthe booth and people selling Steampunk top hats, goggles and Corsets.


And I saw kids. Lots and lots of kids. Kids having a good time. Kids having FUN. The place was Jam packed. On a Thursday. The slowest day of a con. And it was Jam packed with CHILDREN.


Moreover I saw lots and lots of families. Families who were having a good time. Families who were sharing their childhood hobbies and their favorite characters with their kids. The whole Javits Center smelled like popcorn and smiles. However, in August the comic book industry reported the lowest sales in its history.


Clearly there’s a disconnect between the comic publishers and the audience they sell to. And from what I’ve seen for YEARS and many indie creators see at cons, the audience is there to revive the industry and get it out of the 25-year slump it’s currently in.


But most Comic publishers still have their heads up their collective rear ends.


Here’s my question to Dan Didio and Axel Alonso and all the publishers in the comic book industry: If there are so many families and children going to events like New York comicon and Spending billions of dollars watching superhero movies, WHY THE HECK AREN’T YOU PRODUCING CONTENT FOR THEM?


From what I saw at the New York Comic Con there’s a HUGE audience ready willing and able to buy comics out there. An entire new generation of potential fans waiting to get into Marvel and DC Comics and the indies. Money in the bank.


But no one will produce content for them.


WTF?

The big problem with the comic book industry is that they’re still stuck in the past. DC is stuck in a two going 3-year storyline to fix 11 years of problems Dan Didio Created. And Axel Alonso is trying to sell comics to SJWs who are too busy downloading free eBooks on Kindle and Smashwords.

Meanwhile the rest of us who love comics have been waiting patiently for content that’s appealing to families and children. Content that’s PG-13. Content that’s easy to access and fun to read.  Content that’s FUN.


It’s clear that the audience is there, but the content isn’t. And most publishers are so hellbent on publishing what they want they can’t see the audience waiting to spend money with them.


Clearly the audience is there for comic books. And most parents want the iconic versions of characters they remember to share with their kids. But most publishers want to ram their New N’ Improved versions down people’s throats even though no one recognizes them and most people reject them.


And that’s where the short circuit is between comic publishers and the audience.  Someone has to reconnect the audience to the product. But it ain’t gonna be Dan Dido or Axel Alonso. Events like Rebirth and Legacy aren’t going to bridge the gap between the next generation of readers and publishers because they feature more of the same dysfunctional storytelling readers are tired of.

Comic publishing is a business. A business that sells product by word-of mouth. It’s hard to get word of mouth going when people just can’t recognize the product. People want the heroes they grew up with Superman with Red Trunks, a Spider-Man who’s Peter Parker and parents and kids feel comfortable about reading.

From what I saw at Comic Con I know that there are millions of kids and adults on the sideline waiting to get into the hobby or get back into the hobby. And all they’re waiting for is someone to break out of the endless cycle of yearlong events, reboots and relaunches and just give readers great comics. The audience I saw at New York Comic Con showed me that money is waiting to be made selling comics and all the industry needs is one person to have the courage to go out and make it. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Shawn Reviews Dynamite’s Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #1




 When I first saw the promos for Dynamite’s Hack Slash vs. Vampirella in August I was intrigued. With two of my favorite indie comic characters featured in a story together at one of my favorite publishers I had to take a look. And after reading the first issue I’m counting down the days until the next one. This comic was so much fun it reminded me of why I got into comics back in High school back in the 1980’s.


In the first issue we’re introduced to Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad in a way that makes the characters accessible to new readers. Cassie and Vlad are on vacation from hunting slashers in Vegas and they run into a grisly murder scene where a man has had his heart cut out of his chest. When she hears it’s the second murder in as many days Cassie is intrigued, However Vlad insists they’re on vacation. They head to the sleazy dive motel to settle in. After bantering about the one eyed bandit with Cassie, Vlad falls asleep. And a curious Cassie goes to the hotel where the murder happened to investigate.


After doing some canvassing in the casino, Cassie heads up to the hotel room where the murder occurred to look for clues into the murders where she finds…Vampirella. The splash page introducing her had great art, unfortunately the dowdy outfit Vampirella was wearing just wasn’t anything a woman would wear. No woman wears jeans tucked into tall boots in the Vegas heat.


Note to Dynamite’s editorial department: When you’re introducing your heroes in the first issue of a story you want them presented in a way that leaves a strong first impression on readers and lets them be recognized from the first panel. You did a great job introducing Cassie and Vlad in their civilian/iconic looks, and you should have done the same with your franchise heroine Vampirella. Usually before I write an Isis or an E’steem story and I want to do a chapter with them in a civilian look, I check out a Boden, Victoria’s Secret or a J. Crew catalog to see how women are dressing. That T-shirt, jeans, and tall boots look was a fashion DON’T.


Cassie and Vampirella have a confrontation and Vlad steps in. We get a great showcase of Vlad’s stealth skills and Vampirella’s powers before she leaves and hotel security shows up. After Cassie and Vlad give the guards a fist full of Ambien, The mystery of the Blood Red Queen of Hearts deepens and by the last page Cassie and Vlad confront the Blood Red Queen who leaves them a nice friendly demon to fight. And Shawn is eager to see how slasher hunters beat a demon in 30 days!


Yeah, this first issue was mostly setup. But the plotting, pacing, and artwork are extremely well done in this comic. The first issue of Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella does a great job of introducing the main characters, what they want to do and gives us a reason to care about buying the next issue in 20 pages. This first issue had me wanting more, and that’s what a good comic should do, have you anticipating buying the next.


I loved the first issue of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. However, I wish the story didn’t play it so safe. While the story is fun, it’s a little by the numbers. I’d like to have seen Shawn Aldridge put a little panache on his storytelling so we can see a little of his personality on the page. Usually when I’m writing an Isis or an E’steem story I try to put some of my fingerprint on a story with the premise or the storytelling approach to make the story fresh and compelling for readers and to let the reader know they’re reading a Shawn James story.


But I can understand why Dynamite was conservative with its story model for this miniseries. You don’t want to alienate the fans of two popular comic book franchises by giving them something that has heroes acting out of character. And Shawn Aldridge does a solid job of keeping all these franchise characters consistent in their personality, characterizations and “voices” in Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. I believe with another round of edits to fix a few minor issues this good comic could have been GREAT. 



Usually crossover comics suck. But Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella starts out strong without any of the continuity baggage that usually bogs down franchise crossovers and makes them a chore to read. The first issue of Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella is an easy entry point for both new readers and longtime fans and is a boatload of fun to read. I highly recommend you pick up the first issue. This miniseries looks like it’s going to be a winner!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Before Therre Was SJW Marvel…There Was SJW DC





Many Comic fans complain about SJW Marvel and how their changing their primary white characters with minorities has destroyed the Marvel Comics brand and led to the decline of the entire comic book industry. However, before Marvel went the SJW route in 2015, DC Comics went the SJW route in the mid 2000s And they had the same disastrous results a decade before Marvel decided to go down this road to Hell.


Back in the Mid 2000s DC decided to diversify its universe with minority characters. And as part of its diversity campaign replace some of its secondary characters with new heroes of color including:


A Black Firestorm,


A Hispanic Blue Beetle,


A lesbian Batwoman,


A Hispanic Lesbian Female Question,


And an Asian Atom.


And  along with these diversity replacements, Superman decided to renounce his American Citizenship. Before going to go find himself by walking across America a year or two later.

Good Gravy. When there’s no truth, justice and the American Way in a Superman Comic you know DC has lost its way as a publishing company.


Many of these ethnic heroes stepped into the heroes’ boots after the death of the original character. Jason Rusch stepped into Firestorm’s boots after Identity Crisis. Jamie Reyes stepped into Blue beetle’s goggles after he was killed by Max Lord in the countdown to Infinite  Crisis. Renee Montoya became The Question after the Question died of Cancer in Infinite Crisis or Blackest Night (I Think).


Ryan Choi was the only hero to not replace Ray Palmer due to a set of tragic circumstances.  But he’d meet a tragic fate later on.


Most of the “diversity” heroes were met with a lot of anger by DC Comic fans. They hated seeing their favorite characters killed off and replaced with affirmative action replacements. Out of all the “diversity” heroes only Ryan Choi’s Atom was met with a positive response. Most people loved Ryan Choi in the role of The Atom, but the editors at DC didn’t like the fact that he was so popular.


So they killed him. Damn. Just Damn.


Ryan Choi’s murder showed me how racist the so-called diversity campaign at DC truly was. Sure we could have characters of color. But they couldn’t get more popular than the White heroes they were replacing.


Moreover, the whole diversity campaign also appeared to be racist because like Marvel, DC had a catalog of GREAT Minority characters. Bumblebee, Connor Hawke’s Green Arrow, Black Lightning, Bronze Tiger, Cyborg, Vixen, Both John Henry Irons and Natasha Irons Steel and the entire catalog of Milestone characters like Hardware, Icon and Static were waiting to get a push at DC. Not to mention Michael Holt’s Mr. Terrific who EARNED the mantel from Terry Sloane in the pages of JSA.


But they made new minority versions of White characters Because…Diversity. Then they kill off the only one who got over with readers.


Comic publishers are their own worst enemy.


In the aftermath of DC’s diversity campaign they wound up splitting their audience and alienating fans. Just like what’s happening at Marvel right now.  The only difference is that DC wasn’t STUPID enough to replace the main versions of their most popular characters in their flagship titles with token characters.


Over the last few years Marvel’s editors has been copying DC’s failed business approaches. Only they haven’t seen what the end result of what happened at DC under Dan Didio’s failed leadership. Along with the diversity heroes, DC also decided to tinker with its continuity. First with Identity Crisis. Then Infinite Crisis. Then Final Crisis. The Blackest Night. Then Brightest Day. Then Flashpoint. Then New 52. Then Convergence and finally Rebirth. And with each meandering year-long storyline and continuity reboot they lost more and more fans and more and more sales and pissed off more long-time readers. Since 2011, DC has lost serious market share in not only the comic book market, but also in merchandising as fans and casuals have abandoned the DC Comics brand.


Marvel followed suit over the last few years with reboots to its own universe. First Marvel NOW. Then Secret Wars. Then All-New-All-Different Marvel. Then Marvel NOW! A direct rip-off of all the same failed approaches at DC Comics.


Marvel continuing to do what didn’t work for DC in 2011 has nearly collapsed the comic book industry in 2017.


Damn. Just Damn. If that ain’t the definition of insanity I don’t know what is. The inmates are clearly running the asylum at BOTH Marvel and DC. And no one at Warner Brothers or Disney has the balls to clean the crazy out of both publishing houses.


The sad part about the editors who created the diversity heroes of SJW Marvel is that they never studied what happened to DC’s business from 2002-2016. What hasn’t worked for DC since 2002 hasn’t worked for Marvel since 2015. So why would anyone with any common sense want to follow in their failed footsteps?


That’s the question I’d like Axel Alonso and Tom Bevroot. Because the definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result. How is following a business model that failed for DC going to succeed at Marvel?


For years Marvel and DC have played a game of follow the leader copying each other’s characters, story models and business approaches. And sadly Marvel followed right down Dan Didio’s dysfunctional road and took Marvel Comics and the entire comic book industry down a road where they have one foot in the grave and one foot on a banana peel. Before there was an SJW Marvel DC was pushing dysfunctional diversity in between the pages of its comics.