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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shawn Reviews The Wonder Woman Movie




I’m not a big fan of the Snyderverse or anything DC these days. But since one of my viewers wanted me to take a look at the film I caught it at the Magic Johnson before it left the theater there. After watching Wonder Woman I can honestly say the film had the potential to be a classic piece of superhero cinema like 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1989’s Batman. While Patty Jenkins vision of Wonder Woman is the best cinematic adaptation of the character and one of the best DC Superhero films to date it never actualizes its potential to become the great film it should have been.


What prevents Wonder Woman from becoming a great film are two things. The first is the foundation established by Zack Snyder’s dreadful Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The dreary dark story model from those two horrible films really prevented this film from being the best it could be. From the opening scene of the Wayne Enterprises truck, this film got an anchor tied around its ankle and sank due to being chained to the Snyderverse. I believe if Patty Jenkins didn’t have to deal with Zack Snyder’s baggage she could have made a classic on the level of Richard Donner and Tim Burton.


The second thing that impedes Wonder Woman’s potential is the absolutely dreadful script. The screenplay for Wonder Woman it just never comes together as a complete story. While it has its moments like the scenes on Paradise Island and the battle in No Man’s Land, the story the story has no heart, no soul and no spark to make things come to life. Everything feels so DEAD onscreen.


Yeah, there’s a superhero named Wonder Woman onscreen and she’s got on a costume similar to the iconic DC Superheroine. But you never get a reason to CARE about her due to the flat uninspired way the story is written. As I watched the Wonder Woman movie all the problems that Wonder Woman has struggled with as a comic book character were presented to me onscreen. Onscreen I saw a one-dimensional character with no personality and no “voice” of her own. Yeah she had the strength to lift a tank or demolish a bell tower, but she didn’t have the substance to make you relate to her or identify with her. It’s sad that many of the supporting characters like the Algerian and the Scotsman had more personality and “voice” than Wonder Woman and had more depth than she had.


And that lack of depth was due to the other big problem with super heroines surface, the lack of a character transformation arc. We’re told Diana is special. We see her get special training. But we never see what she learns from the experience. In most scenes Diana shows up and is a badass, and that’s the biggest problem with Wonder Woman. She never really learns anything or grows from the experience in a way that changes her. That’s because Steve Trevor or someone else does almost everything for her and explains everything to her. And that’s what prevents the story from really connecting with the viewer the way that Captain America: The First Avenger did.

The third big problem has to do with superheroines again, and that’s the bad guy. In Wonder Woman we get Ares established as a bad guy, but just like most stories featuring female heroines, there’s no reason to care because the writers are too afraid to form a relationship between the heroine and the bad guy. Ares is just in the background while his lieutenants the general and Dr Poison do all the dirty work. And Diana’s motivation to stop him has no personal or emotional impact. Diana is told her mission is to kill Ares, but that’s not enough story wise. Due to the lack of chemistry and tension in Diana and Ares relationship it really prevents the film from being as strong as it could be.

The visual effects in this movie really don’t add to the experience. Again, the stink of Zack Snyder impedes this film’s ability to actualize its potential. Snyder’s signature slow-mo-then fast fight scenes really suck the energy out of many action sequences in Wonder Woman. I believe if you played those scenes straight they would have had more emotional impact. But the hand of Zack Snyder chokes the life out of this film.  

While I was indifferent to this adaptation of Wonder Woman there were some things I did like seeing. And it’s those little touches that made me smile. Things like seeing the Silver Age Wonder Girl symbol cut into Hippoltya’s top and slight nods to Artemis and Nubia in the Amazon warriors were great. The first 30 minutes of the movie on Paradise Island were top notch. It was as close to a DC Comic as you could get visually. 

It’s just once the film leaves England it falls completely apart. That’s when it stops being a Wonder Woman movie and starts turning into Zack Snyder’s version of Xena: Warrior Princess. And the last 15 minutes of the film…


Damn. Just Damn. That was the shit icing on top of a turd cupcake.


Patty Jenkins does an amazing job with Wonder Woman’s visuals.  Her camerawork is top notch here. And her directing is what elevates the weak screenplay, uninspired special effects and average acting to a level of passable. She’s the one to watch. While this film is her breakthrough, I think her next film will be the one to watch. She’s got the  craft and the skill, all she needs is the right story to take her career to the next level.


Still not a fan of this Wonder Woman film, but it’s worth a watch if you get the chance. If you catch it on a Matinee or on DVD, it won’t be a waste of your time. It’s entertaining. But nowhere near the classic it should have been.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Anything You Say Online Can And Will Be Used against You By Employers

About a week ago when I wrote my blog discussing how ex-offenders were getting considered for employment by companies I got a comment from someone who said they were an employer who suggested I delete everything on my blog and my YouTube channel if I hope to get considered for employment. According to them a potential employer can Google someone and if they find something they don’t like, they won’t consider you for a job.


So according to them anything you say online can and will be used against you in an employment search. And according to them, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been having such a hard time finding a job these last eight years.


When I heard this, I thought about something Christ said after the Pharisees and the Saducees confronted Him with the adulteress.


He who is without sin cast the first stone.


And I say this to employers: Judge and ye shall not be judged. I’m sure if I Googled any of these HR people out here, I’d find a skeleton bone or two in their closets that could cost them their jobs.


Listening to this so-called employer proves my point that narrative seems to be more important to bosses than skills these days. Gang tattoos on someone’s neck, women doing twerk videos and posting topless photos on an Instagram or a Facebook account are fine, but an opinion on a blog or a YouTube video? That’s something that can lead to a manager at a company rejecting a perfectly qualified guy like myself for a job.


 Don’t you just love double standards? And the hypocrisy behind them? It just shows us how full of shit people actually are.


I find it interesting how this so-called employer feels my strong and critical opinions on a blog or a YouTube video disqualify me for employment but people with felony convictions, wearing neck tattoos, posting twerk videos, topless photos on Instagram, posting weed smoking pictures on Facebook and racist rants on a blog, all that’s perfectly fine. The opinions I present on a blog or in a YouTube video would reflect negatively on a company’s image, but hiring someone with a gang tat or a person who promotes drug use at a company that does drug tests, that’s okay. That promotes diversity and tolerance.


Just like Jesus said, straining at a gnat, but swallowing a camel.


 Supporting the difference of opinion would be the true test of tolerance for an employer. And it would show how a diversity of ideas would be considered in a workplace.  Unfortunately, too many employers these days are so thin-skinned that anything someone says offends them. They ask people to have sterling character, but don’t show that through their hiring practices.


This whole quest some employers have to look for a “perfect” person for their jobs is completely insane. According to Christ we were all born in sin and we’re all sinners. So there’s no chance of finding some perfect person out there. Everyone has screwed up at least once in their lives. And it’s wrong to hold that against them. If God can forgive someone, and they can overlook their own past mistakes why can’t that same employer take a chance on a guy like me?


I’ve worked around ex-offenders, former homeless people, and addicts in recovery. And I never once judged them about their pasts or their presents. As long as they did their work I was cool with them. When I go to work, I’m about my job. And as long as the quality of my work is good, an employer shouldn’t have a problem with me. The way I see it, if an employer can accept the guy with the neck tats, the receptionist who made a twerk video she posted on YouTube, or the Administrative assistant who posted topless pictures from her vacation on Instagram and Facebook, then they should have no problem working with the Black man who wrote hundreds of blogs related to or made a series of YouTube Videos where he expressed his opinion on subject matter.


I’m not deleting my blogs. Nor am I deleting my YouTube Channel. The way I figure it what I published is going to be someplace in cyberspace. Many of my so-called offensive blogs like Why Real Men avoid Single Mothers and What Women don’t know about being the Side Piece have been shared all over the world hyperlinked and reposted on numerous websites across the globe. And many of my YouTube videos have been shared and reposted on other sites. So there’s no escaping what I’ve written and recorded. So if someone is going to hire me, they’re going to hire me based on the quality of my work, not the opinions I express.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

How Wesley Snipes Saved the Superhero Movie Genre

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thoughts on the Black Panther Teaser Trailer



I got a moment to get a look at the Black Panther Teaser trailer.


I wasn’t impressed.


Yeah, it’s a movie with a Black Superhero in the lead. But it just didn’t grab me. Everything onscreen was dull. Predictable. By the numbers.


Unlike Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Rangnorok, there wasn’t anything exciting presented in the trailer to draw me into the story. It didn’t stimulate my senses. It didn’t make me CARE.


The visuals on this movie are FLAT. Most of the action shots in Black Panther feel re-hashed and uninspired. In fact most of them have been done in other movies with a far more exciting story. The machine gun shots in the dark before the hero attacks? Done better in Iron Man. The heroes getting out of the way of the flipping SUV?  Done better in Captain America: Civil War.


And this film features another big problem. The villain is…Ulysees Klaw. AKA The Evil White man.


Meh.


Yeah, Marvel Studios made a Black Panther Movie. But it doesn’t look like an exciting one.


Some people may get excited about a seeing A Black superhero in their own solo movie. But looking at the movie Black Panther is featured in the teasr I don’t see much to get excited about. The story in the teaser looks FLAT. The camera work looks uninspired. And the action onscreen has a been there, done that feel.


Blade this ain’t. Heck, this ain’t even Meteor Man.


And it still looks like Marvel Studios STILL screenwriters can’t write a villain for shit. The Evil White Man may be an exciting bad guy for the Hoteps and the Pro-Blacks, but I’m gonna need to see a LOT more to give me a reason to buy a ticket for a Black Panther movie.


At this point I want MORE when it comes to superhero movies. I want richer stories. Multidimensional characters. And a bad guy I can LOVE TO HATE. I want more than just a black superhero movie, I want a GREAT Black Superhero movie. Judging from what I saw the Trailer Black Panther wasn’t a GREAT Black superhero movie. Blade did everything that this movie looks like it’s trying to do a lot better 20 years ago.


All I see in the Black Panther teaser is a paternalistic White Supremacist view of Africa, not a fresh take on African-American fantasy. The bad guys are evil White men out to plunder the resources of a mysterious African kingdom. And Wakanda’s great hero, The Black Panther is going to stop them.


And Wakanda doesn’t look like an amazing place, it just looks like a White person’s view of Africa. Even thought the film is directed by a Black man, the pictures that are presented of Wakanda feel like we’re seeing the world of Wakanda through the eyes of what a White person sees, not how we’d see ourselves.


It’s not creative. It’s not original. It just feels….Meh.


Yeah, we finally have a Black Panther movie. But sadly from the teaser it doesn’t look like anything special. It just feels like a generic superhero movie with Black people in it, not a cinematic masterpiece with an amazing story that gives us a unique picture of Africa. It’s hardly the event some Black people like Hoteps and Pro-Blacks are getting all emotional about. After seeing three Black superheroes in Captain America: Civil War I expected something BIG with Black Panther’s teaser. But what I saw on the screen was nothing to get excited about. Will I spend money to go see Black Panther? I’m still on the fence.  




Monday, June 12, 2017

American Companies Need to Hire Ex-Offenders- WTF?





According to one report I listened to on the radio the economy is doing so well that companies are actually considering hiring ex offenders.  Some employers are saying that they’re actually looking to overlook some people’s prison records because they desperately need workers.


Seriously, WTF?


Now I have nothing against ex-offenders finding work, in fact I worked with a job readiness program that helped ex-offenders get job ready and find employment.  But I’ve been looking for work since October of 2008 and have had no luck.


I’m a guy with no record, a college degree and years of experience as a publisher and a writer. I have an A+ Certification and years of experience fixing computers. But I haven’t been able to get most of these companies to even give me a phone call let alone an interview.


And now the media is telling me that companies need to hire ex-offenders FIRST.


Someone in Human Resources at most of these American companies needs to get their head examined.


In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many people like myself were still searching for that job to get back on our feet. And after almost nine years I’m still looking for that job that will help me get that break. These days when I apply for jobs companies just send me e-mails telling me I’m not right for them.


But an ex-offender is perfectly fine.


Seriously WTF?


In a series of YouTube Videos I did I had to ask if it was skills or narrative that employers were looking for. And after listening to that radio report it’s clear to me that it’s all about narrative these days when you go out to apply for work. Tell an employer the story they want to hear and they’ll hire you. Skills don’t seem to matter to them.


And the story employers want to hear now is that a person is an ex-offender. Or a Single mother trying to take care of their kids. Or a baby daddy trying to make his child support payments. Or a big mouth with a bad attitude. I thought companies were supposed to go out looking for our best and brightest to work for them, but it seems you have to tell HR people sad stories that present you as a victim to get hired these days at most companies.


Damn. Just Damn.


I’ve had my fair share of hard times since October of 2008 and even before then. But when I go to interview with employers I don’t want to be anyone’s charity case. I don’t want to get a job based on someone’s pity, I want to earn it based on my skills and what I have to offer. I’m looking to be an asset at a company not a liability.



The way I see it if American companies are so desperate for people then why aren’t they looking for many of us 20 million unemployed people who have been out of work since 2008? Or why aren’t they looking for many of the recent college graduates who finish degrees but haven’t been able to find full-time work. If employers really wanted to make America great again they’d be looking to hire that glut of our best and brightest and giving them full-time work, not trying to scrape the bottom of the barrel first.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Taking A Closer Look at DC’s Defunct Minx Line



I’m always interested in new ways to get comics in the hands of readers. And when I read about DC’s defunct Minx imprint, it seemed like a great way to do it. Original Graphic novels in a manga-sized format would provide readers with comics that featured easy entry points and introduced them to new characters and new worlds.
Unfortunately, what prevented the Minx line from being a success was the inability of DC and Random House execute on the concept.


The editors at DC think that the Minx line failed due to Random House’s distribution of the titles. According to them Random House just put books in the YA section instead of the Manga section of bookstores and that’s’ why the Minx titles didn’t sell. No, what prevented them from selling was a paternalistic view towards girls and absolutely terrible writing.


I find it sad that every time a comic publisher thinks they have to appeal to girls they always think they have to dumb things down. And DC’s Minx line was no different than the asinine comics I read in my 1970s Superhero Women paperback like Claws of the Cat. There was no likeable heroine to root for in Minx books. There was no story to make us CARE in Minx books or anything FUN about them. It just looked like Minx’s editors just thought they’d create comic books around what they thought girls would like and they’d just buy it because they’re just comics for girls.


No. Just NO.


It always annoys me that whenever there are comic lines meant to target female readers that there’s no care taken as it relates to the writing. When it comes to stories featuring heroines in comics, there’s no character transformation arc for the heroines to go through, no conflicts, hardships, or struggles for them to face. Most of the stories just feature them showing up stuff happening, and…the end.


I’m sorry but that’s not a story. In a story the reader needs a reason to keep them reading. And when it came to the Minx line, I didn’t see anything to compel me to keep reading the first Minx book I bought, Clubbing. Someone should have told the people at Minx, Everyone’s comic is their first. So you need to make the best impression with the first issue. Because when it comes to comics, if the first issue is bad, the reader isn’t coming back for the second issue.


So I could see why a lot of readers dropped the Minx line after the initial launch. Because the writing was THAT BAD.


Moreover as I read the Minx mission, I could see the flaws in their business plan. While they planned to launch their line to compete with Japanese Manga it’s clear to me that DC’s editors just didn’t understand how Manga worked. Manga in Japan is made for both boys and girls and it’s made for readers of all ages. So the plan to just target girls literally cut their audience down by 2/3 before the first title was published.


Worse, seasoned Manga readers could tell when they were being pandered to. Many of the seasoned Manga readers could take one look at the titles of DC’s Minx line and felt they just didn’t meet their “smell” test. So they had no incentive to buy into the line.


Looking at the model for the Minx titles, I still think it’s a good model for publishing comics. But a smart publisher would have to understand the story model for writing a graphic novel them before they launched a single title. Readers aren’t going to buy a comic featuring reject YA stories, jumbled plots and poorly developed characters just because they’re told it’s for a specific audience. No, good Manga like One Piece and Naruto is popular with all ages and genders because there is care taken to craft well developed characters, tight plots, and compelling storylines. The big problem with the Minx line wasn’t the format of the comics or the distribution; it was the fact that editorial just didn’t have a vision for the brand or any idea how to create content that would sell with Manga fans or casual customers. Minx books were flashy on the outside, but had no substance in between their pages.


I believe Manga-sized graphic novels that told a story in one single volume could sell very well with readers. And I’ve pondered using that platform when I turn the Isis series into graphic novels. I know that there could be a big audience for Manga-sized comics in America, but all it takes for a publisher to understand how to execute stories in the format. A comic sells its next issue with the first one in a reader’s hands so the story has to leave a great impression on readers from the first issue in their hands. If the editors of the Minx line had understood that tenet, the line would probably still be publishing today. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Critical success of the Wonder Woman Movie...WHY HERA WHY?





DC’s new Wonder Woman Movie is getting great reviews.


Damn. Just Damn.


Why am I not happy about DC Wonder Woman movie getting great reviews? Because that means NOTHING is going to change regarding Warner Brothers decade and a half mishandling of the DC Comics film properties and the DC Comics brand.


The success of Wonder Woman has saved the jobs of Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder. Meaning that we DC Comic fans are going to be stuck with this jumbled dysfunctional Snyderverse for another decade or so.


Damn. Just Damn.


Wonder Woman’s critical success means we’re stuck with Man of Stool Henry Cavill, Batfleck and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman for another ten or so years. Not to mention the terrible dark angry story model that doesn’t capture the spirit and heart of DC’s Characters.


All the success of the Wonder Woman movie does is enable the dysfunction of Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder. It keeps Warner’s executives like CEO Kevin Tisjura in a state of denial regarding DC’s dysfunctional cinematic universe and the complete mismanagement DC Comics brand. Instead of being forced to come to a point where they’re forced to admit there’s a problem, they’ve been told everything they’re doing is okay by film critics.


Seriously, seeing all the drama regarding DC’s film properties is like watching a drug addict or an alcoholic struggle with their addiction. The addict is suffering from their addiction, but thanks to enablers such as movie critics continuing to praise them for their fucked up movies and comic fans continuing to spend their money on their fucked up products they have no incentive to get their shit together.


And thanks to Wonder Woman’s success, DC’s films, comics and licensed properties are going to remain in the same FUBAR state they’ve been in since 2011.


In order for Warner Brothers to get its shit together regarding DC they need to hit rock bottom. They have to hit a point where they admit to themselves what they’re doing is not working. At that point they’ll start listening to their customers instead of trying to force the same failed dark story model and repackaged New 52 concepts that didn’t catch on in 2011 down people’s throats. Unfortunately, thanks to the critical success of the Wonder Woman movie, the change that is desperately needed regarding DC’s Superhero films and DC’s entertainment properties won’t happen for another decade or so.

Shit.

Yeah, Nolan and Snyder have a critical success with Wonder Woman. But I wonder what change could have come if Warner Brothers had shook up things regarding its DC Comics division and DC Comics properties. Could we have gotten character designs true to the source material like Marvel Studios Iron Man, Thor and Captain America? Could we have moved past the obsolete dark story model into something more in line with the spirit of the DC Universe like Batman the Animated Series or Justice League Unlimited? Could we have actually gotten films that were FUN to watch? Could we have actually started a horse race between Warner and Marvel Studios? Could DC Comics have gone back to being a family friendly comic publisher?



Sadly that’s a series of questions that won’t be answered for a couple of years. As long as critics keep praising movies like Wonder Woman and comic fans keep accepting slop from DC and Warner Brothers, the executives will keep serving it up to them instead of making efforts to make the changes to make the DC Comics brand competitive in the 21st Century.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Legend of Mad Matilda Concept Cover



Over the Memorial Day Weekend I had a chance to draw up a concept for a cover for the last book in the Spinsterella Trilogy The Legend of Mad Matilda. With all the Black and white, it kind of has a Tim Burton feel to it. I think that’s a plus with the book being a Goth YA novel.


The story behind the concept is supposed to be Mad Matilda holding up the arrest placard at Central Booking before she’s photographed, but I can’t draw hands for shit. There’s supposed to be a nervous look on her tired face. With her about to be locked up, she’s scared of what’s coming in the future.


Since this is Mattie in her 1990’s Goth prime, I decided to change some things from her sophisticated Black Widow look in Spellbound and my previous concept art featuring the initial sketches of Mad Matilda, the Industrial Rave Queen. I drew inspiration for Matilda’s outfit from watching several Goths on YouTube. Her pigtails are inspired by Goth YouTuber Rose Nocturnalia, and her T-shirt is inspired by ones I saw YouTubers Ligeia Resurrected and It’s Black Friday wearing in some of their videos. I would have went with a basic T-Shirt, but I when saw many Goth YouTubers wearing modded out T-shirts I decided to go in a different direction.


To keep the image from being a straight block of black, I decided to do what I’ve seen many Goths do and use texture and shades to make the Blacks stand out. I used colored pencils to add texture to the leather on her collar, cuffs and belt, and ink pens to give her hair some depth. Then I brought out the black marker to give her clothes a cotton feel. And for a pop of color to draw readers to her face, I decided her barrettes and pendant would have a pop of red.


I’ve made a lot of progress on The Legend of Mad Matilda, and the book has come a long way since I started writing the first draft of it in February. At this stage I’ve done the page layouts and I’m in the middle of editing the second draft. Like Spellbound, it’s reading like a movie, and I’m doing my best to keep this last book consistent with events in Spellbound and Spinsterella.


I’d love to get Legend of Mad Matilda to readers with this concept as the cover designed by a professional artist. But with me still out of work, the only way that’s going to happen is with donations from readers. So if you’ve enjoyed the first two parts of The Spinsterella Trilogy, and you want to see this AWESOME cover concept on the third done by a professional artist, donate to my Paypal or to my Patreon!


Friday, May 26, 2017

SJS DIRECT SUMMER EBOOK FREEBIE FOR JUNE





Get Isis: The Beauty Myth for FREE on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312311

Get The Thetas for FREE on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/434485



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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thoughts on The Black Lightning Trailer




I caught the CW’s Black Lightning Trailer at the library last week. And because I was so busy with making videos and editing Legend of Mad Matilda I didn’t have time to write a review. At first I was excited. But now that I’ve had time to think about things it looks like a….Meh show.


Yeah, it’s Black Lightning. And he’s a Black guy with electric superpowers. But there’s not much electricity sparking this show. 


Greg Berlanti and Mara Brock Akil’s Black Lightning seems to be a fusion of The original Tony Isabella concept from the 70’s and the 1990’s comic series. In the trailer it looks like Jefferson Pierce was Black Lightning up until 2005 when the nights of fighting to make a difference in the streets was getting to him. So he decided to hang up the suit and become the principal of his local high school and raise his family.


Twelve years later the gang The 100 are back stronger than ever. And they’re terrorizing the Black community. And now that Jefferson Pierce’s kids are coming of age and being threatened by the 100, A Hero must rise again. Or One man must come back to make a difference at 50.

Meh.  

When you look at the trailer it looks like something big is going to happen when Jefferson Pierce is putting his suit back together and getting ready to take on the bad guys and clean up his community. Then if you’re an old head like me you realize you saw this show on Netflix. And it was a lot better when it was called Luke Cage.


And even better when it was called M.A.N.T.I.S.


Yeah, it’s Black Lightning and he has is own TV show. But it’s DRY. Predictable. By the NUMBERS. With an off-the-shelf premise and off the shelf villains. Why is it every time we get a Black superhero they’re always taking on street hoods? I’d like to think there’d be some variety in the rogues gallery.


Over here at SJS DIRECT Isis lives in Harlem and she has yet to take on a street hood. She’s taken on a resurrected Nubian Queen, a Greek goddess, a psychotic cosmetics mogul, She-demons, a campus stalker, a Cybergoddess, Vampires and Dracula himself. And When I get the money she’ll be taking on Pro-Black Hotep priestess and trying to escape from Transylvania If I can imagine up different threats and mix up the rogues gallery of my heroes to make it fresh for my readers, I’d like to think that DC Comics, Greg Berlanti and Mara Brock Akil could mix it up and make Black Lightning interesting for the new viewer.  


But I’m not expecting the first season of Black Lightning to be on the level of Supergirl Season 1, Flash Season 1 or Arrow Season 1. Unfortunately, from the looks of things we’re gonna get M.A.N.T.I.S season 1 in 2017 complete with the same special effects from 1994.


Yeah, there are some things I liked about Black Lightning’s trailer, like seeing him be a father and a family man. But with characters on Arrow and The Flash and Supergirl taking on heavyweight threats like Grodd, King Shark, I’d like to think Black Lightning could do better than take on a street gang in his first season. Part of a superhero show is giving the hero a credible threat, and I’m just not seeing a serious threat to Black Lightning from The 100 like I did with The Master from Buffy Season 1 or Callisto in Xena Season 2.



I’m still on the fence about Black Lightning. And I’m holding out hope it’ll be good. But with the mediocre trailer, weak badguys and the fact that a Mara Brock Akil and Greg Berlanti’s track record on Black male characters I’m just not seeing much to get excited about. Throw in the fact that Black Lightning won’t be interacting with Arrow, The Flash or Supergirl in the Berlantiverse in Season 1 and there’s no reason for me to buy into this series I’ll tune in for the first episode. But I’m still not sold on an entire season.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ta-Neshi Coates Needs a Crew To Teach Him Superhero Comics



Ta-Neshi Coates career as a comic book writer has been a disaster. His Black Panther is considered the worst run in the character’s history. And his latest opus: Black Panther & The Crew was cancelled after the second issue due to poor sales.


All anyone has to do is look at Ta-Neshi Coates premise for Black Panther & The Crew why it’s a poor seller and how out of his depth he is as a comic book writer. While he can write a bestselling nonfiction book like Between the World and Me, he doesn’t know what makes for a compelling comic book story.


In Coates’ Black Panther & The Crew Harlem is patrolled by robot cops. And a robot cop kills a Black Civil Rights Leader. And in the aftermath, Black Panther, assembles a crew of Black heroes including, Storm, Misty Knight and Luke Cage and Iron Fist to find out who killed him before the city explodes in a riot.


That entire premise is fucked up. And anyone who understands comic and fantasy writing like myself can tell you where Coates went wrong. You’re gonna tell me In the Marvel Universe, a place filled with superheroes the City of New York is gonna use robot cops to patrol only a Black neighborhood. And when a robot cop kills a Black activist, Black Panther has to assemble a crew of super powered Black people and a “down” White boy to solve the case.


Even if we suspend our disbelief, the entire foundation of his premise is just ABSURD.


Coates says he’s trying to make a commentary about Police brutality and the Black Lives Matter Movement in the story of Black Panther: The Crew. Unfortunately, the premise he proposes to tell that story defies logic even in the Marvel Universe.


The robot cop concept just doesn’t fit organically in the New York City of the Marvel Universe, where police unions would definitely protest about robots taking their jobs. And the mystery behind who killed the activist doesn’t seem like the kind of threat Black Panther would have to assemble The Crew to get involved in. All those incredibly powerful characters getting involved to solve a mystery Misty Knight, Cage, and Iron fist could probably solve on their own? It’s a jumbled mess of a story that makes no sense.


When I read that synopsis it’s clear to me that Coates just doesn’t understand basic fiction elements like establishing a main character, what they want, and why readers should care. Nor does he understand how to develop a villain into a credible threat the reader can believe is dangerous. Generic robot cops seem like a way to not establish a villain and to create a stand in for the White cops he wants the Black heroes to beat on.


And the superheroes he puts in the story don’t fit into the story organically either. They’re just shoehorned in just because they’re Black. Why would the King of Wakanda CARE about a Black activist being killed in Harlem? Hasn’t he got his own problems to deal with Wakanda being in ruins due to Coates’ critically panned run? If anything that shows me how little Coates understands his own continuity.


And Coates shows me how little he understands his characters. Black Panther is a master strategist. He wouldn’t overpower a team like this. Instead he’d choose individuals who would be able to help him handle the threat effectively. I’m still scratching my head to how Storm fits into this Crew or how she’d be able to help deal with this threat. If anything, this seems like a threat Cage, Iron fist and Misty Knight could handle by themselves, and the Black Panther name is just tacked on the title as a cash grab. 


When I look at Coates’ Black Panther & The Crew it’s SJW/diversity writing at its worst. There’s no care to the story or care for the execution of the concept.  It’s all about ramming the ideology of Black Lives Matter down people’s throats.


Now I wrote a story similar to the one Coates uses in Black Panther: The Crew with Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess. And it featured the Black heroes of the SJS DIRECT Universe taking on an atheist Black scientist who used nanites to turn herself into a Cybergoddess who sought to murder Isis in the hopes of taking humanity in the next step of human evolution. And in that story I followed up on plot points established in Isis: The Beauty Myth, took Isis’ feud with Raheema Sanders to the next level, made a commentary on Darwinism vs. Creationism, connected the worlds of Isis and John Haynes, and gave readers an exciting action packed adventure in one 80 page story. So I know the premise Coates was trying to use works.


Unfortunately Coates just didn’t know how to execute the concept. Comics are about characters having fantastic adventures in amazing stories, not pushing political agendas.


Coates tries too hard to push his political activism in his comic book stories and it prevents readers from escaping. Comics and sci-fi are supposed to make a commentary in between the lines of the story, not put it in people’s faces. This is why his comics fail to resonate with readers.


It’s clear to me that Coates is just the wrong man to be writing comics at Marvel. While his background and his resume are impressive, he just doesn’t understand the medium of comic books. He needs a crew to teach him the medium of comic books, the story model, and how it works. Comics are supposed to be an escape from people’s everyday lives, not a platform for pushing the political narrative of Black Lives Matter. People buy comics to read about heroes kicking ass, not be presented with an editorial from the op-ed pages.



Friday, May 19, 2017

CW’s Black Lightning Won’t Be a Part of the Berlantiverse-WTF?




I’ll admit that I wasn’t too enthusiastic of the CW’s Black Lightning from day one. With Greg Berlanti and Mara Brock Akil in charge of the show I walked in expecting a disaster. However, in spite of a Black feminist and a White male in charge of producing a show about a Black male character I had one reason for watching the show: To see the expansion of the DC Universe on Television. However, now that I know that Black Lightning won’t be a part of the Berlantiverse, I now have a reason to make that clean break from Berlanti’s DC TV shows after this season is over.


The whole idea of Black Lightning not being a part of the Berlantiverse is troubling especially when you consider his relationships to several characters in the DC Universe. Black Lightning had a significant role in Superman’s extended universe. Living in Metropolis, He’s worked with and fought against Superman. So having him as part of the same shared universe to interact with Supergirl Superman, and James Olsen, the Guardian of the Friendzone would be an opportunity to expand and diversify Supergirl’s world. And With the show being a midseason replacement, it’d be easy to build into a ratings bonanza for the first episode by segueing into his show with an initial episode establishing him in a Supergirl episode with Tyler Hochelin’s Superman guest starring. 


Plus with the show being set in Metropolis, Tyler Hochelin could feature in a couple of episodes as the Man of Steel to show how significant Metropolis truly is to the Berlantiverse.


It’d also be an opportunity to expand Arrow’s world as well. Black Lightning was a core member of the Outsiders, and so it’d be a no-brainer to have Black Lightning teaming up with Arrow for a crossover. Season 5 gave us Green Arrow and the Outsiders, so why not have one of the founding members on the show as a part of the team?


But Black Lightning won’t be a part of the Berlantiverse. So we won’t be getting those stories. Because Black Lightning won’t be interacting with any of DC’s other characters onscreen.

Damn. Just Damn.

Berlanti had the opportunity of a lifetime to redeem himself in the eyes of many Black comic fans like myself. But He, Mara Brock Akil and Warner Brothers drop the football One Mo’ Gen.
Damn. Just Damn.


You’d think after emasculating James Olsen in Season 2 of Supergirl and turning DC’s resident badass Mr. Terrific into a bumbling stumbling idiot that Berlanti would be focused on making Black Lightning a shining light that presents a positive portrayal of a Black male superhero onscreen that would prove capable of standing with the rest of DC’s top heroes like Arrow, Flash, Superman, Supergirl and the Legends of Tomorrow. But with him in his own world we won’t see him being a hero in the DC universe on TV the same way we saw Falcon, War Machine and Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War.


Seeing those three heroes onscreen in Captain America: Civil War still ranks up there as one of the greatest moments in cinematic history for a Black comic fan like myself. Three Black superheroes in a movie. And all three presented in a way that makes them the equal of any of the major white characters. It’s a shame we won’t get that moment in the Berlantiverse.


Shit.


With Black Lightning not being a part of the Berlantiverse, many comic fans like myself have no incentive to buy into the show and start watching it. And now fans like myself who were apprehensive about the show are thinking about finding something else to do when it comes on.  


At this point I’m expecting Black Lightning to be a trainwreck. No connection to the Berlantiverse, No interaction with other DC Comics characters. Plus with a Black feminist and a White man writing and producing a TV show about a Black man I’m expecting nothing less than a disaster on the level of WB’s Birds of Prey. When Black Lightning comes on the CW I’ll tune in for the first episode. But that’s just to see how bad this show will be.


Just when you thought DC couldn’t find a way to create a fail greater than epic, they find new ways to make their properties suck that much harder.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bringing Balance Back to Batman




Over the last 30 years Batman has stopped being Batman.


How did he stop being Batman? Over the last 30 years comic book writers, editors, artists and fans haven’t applied any objectivity to their craft when the approached or wrote stories for the character. So instead of the character being his own person with his own life, and his own “voice” he’s become a cipher for whatever writers and artists want him to be.

Back in the 1970s when Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams were hired to redefine Batman after the Campy Dick Sprang era and the 1966 Television series, there was a serious effort made to bring Batman back to his roots in the Batman comics. And during that time Batman was presented a balanced person with room in his life as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman. During this time Bruce Wayne was considered just as important to a Batman comic as The Dark Knight. And Bruce had time to do things like enjoy his own life. He was driven to fight for justice and protect Gotham City, but he also had time to have a little fun too.


And yes, even Batman cracked a smile or laughed from time to time.


During the O’Neill/Adams Era up until about Knightfall writers understood that Batman was called the Dark Knight. And that there was a place for chivalry, honor and a code of conduct in Batman comics. These were the values that Thomas Wayne instilled in his son and what was core to Who Batman was as a hero.


And those core values that Thomas Wayne instilled in his son was the line between Batman and his rogues. Batman knew where the line between driven and obsession was and stayed right behind it.


Unfortunately over the last 30 years the line between Batman and his rogues has blurred. And the reason why it’s blurred is because many Batman writers and Batman fans have become just as obsessed as Batman’s rogues. We have a lot of Dark in the pages of Batman comics and Batman media. But none of the chivalry and honor of the Knights of medieval lore who were one of his inspirations.  


And thanks to their obsession we don’t see any balance or objectivity to Batman, his rogues or Gotham City.  For them everything is about Batman, not Bruce Wayne, or his life. In their eyes Batman is the real person and Bruce Wayne is the fa├žade. If Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman all the time that’s when Bruce has crossed the line between driven and obsessed.


I remember a Superman animated episode where Clark said if he were Superman all the time it’d make him go crazy. I’d like to think the same would happen to Bruce. Every human being needs downtime away from the job, even Bruce Wayne.


And sadly he can’t have that because these days Batman isn’t his own character. He’s a cipher for whatever fantasies writers have for him. A Gary Stu who knows any and everything, he’s capable of using Green Lantern Rings, understanding Apokoliptan, Kryptonian and Thanagarian tech and is capable of taking on or cosmic level villains like Darkseid all by himself.


Seriously who needs the Justice League anymore when Batman can do everything? And who needs the Justice League When Batman has designed an armor capable of beating his friends?


The way I see it there really needs to be balance brought back to the Batman character. Yes, he cares about Gotham City. Yes, he seeks out justice for those who can’t get it in the dark and the shadows. But there needs to be room for the chivalry, and honor that establishes Batman’s code of conduct. That’s what makes Bruce a Hero, and that’s something that’s been sorely missing from Bat books over the last 30 years.


And it needs to be established that Bruce isn’t perfect. He isn’t always right. And it’s Okay if he needs to ask for help. Batman may be one of the world’s greatest detectives, but he shouldn’t be on the level of Mr. Terrific, the world’s third smartest man, Pieter Cross, one of the world’s foremost experts in medicine or capable of understanding alien tech from Krypton, Thanagar, Atlantis, or New Genesis. What makes the other characters in the DC Universe special if Batman knows just as much as they do? 

 A writer needs to work towards drawing the line in the sand that separates Bruce’s character from his bad guys.  And they need to work towards establishing limits for Batman’s abilities in team settings. The other characters in the DC Universe need an opportunity to show what makes them special when they stand at Batman’s side on a team like the Justice League or in a major earth shattering event.


Moreover, a writer needs to re-establish Bruce as a character in the Bat-Books. As I see it, it’s Bruce who controls Batman, not Batman controlling Bruce. Batman is Bruce’s creation and he needs to be shown being in charge of things. Bruce decides when Batman goes into action, not Batman.


And Bruce decides when it’s time for downtime. While Batman took an oath to protect Gotham, he understands he needs to have a balanced life in order to do his job at Wayne Enterprises and patrolling Gotham City effectively. There has to be more to his life than putting on a Batsuit and sitting in the Batcave. As I always saw it Being Batman was only something he did for a couple of hours a couple of nights a week from about 11PM -3 or 4AM regularly when it warranted or when there was a Justice League mission he needed to be on.


But because many comic fans and comic writers don’t understand balance in life they think he’s Batman all the time. And because they don’t understand balance we have Gotham patrolled by about eight or nine people yet the streets are less safer than they were in the 70s when Batman & Robin patrolled Gotham with the occasional assist from Batgril. I find it crazy that Batman who now has a literal army of crimefighters working with him in Gotham including Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Huntress, Spoiler, Azrael, Batwoman, Batwing, Red Hood Red Robin and Catwoman but he has a harder time fighting crime today than he did when it was just him, Robin and Batgirl in the 1970s. With all those people working with him along with Jim Gordon and the Gotham P.D. Gotham should be the safest city in the DC Universe.


That clearly shows how me how out of balance Batman’s world has become. And why it’s so important to bring Balance Back to Batman’s world. Yes, Batman’s world is filled with criminals with psychotic obsessions. But Batman himself is a balanced and sane individual who cares enough about people to go out of his way to protect them from the same types of criminals who murdered his parents. And while he’s driven to fight for justice, he knows where the line is and his limits. Yes, he’s dressed like a Bat when he fights crime. But he’s still a man. I’d like to see Batman go back to being a character with his own personality and his own voice and tell his own stories, not be a cipher for the fantasies of comic fans who want to live vicariously through his cowl.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Comic Book Event Fatigue -Are Events Obsolete?

Been Busy editing Legend of Mad Matilda so I have to post a video for a blog again :( Some of you have already seen this one, but I hope to have a new blog up soon.



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