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Showing posts from 2013

There Is So Much More... PRODIGAL

There is little point complaining about the hard work of academia. The truth is most people have a harder time at their jobs.  Teaching and researching does not scream "high stress" for most people. Indeed, this fact explains some of the marginalization associated with modern academia. A liberal art education, which presume a well rounded education intended to make you aware of wide range of subjects, doesn't have the vocational credibility associated with science, technology, engineering, and math oriented studies.  The trick for those us in the far less sexy humanities and social science fields is to show our worth.  No easy task when our subjects can run the gambit from Classics to comics books.  The trick, in my mind, is to be inclusive in your work. Show people why you think about your subject and why it matters.  The "So What?" question that distinguishes a flight of fancy from a cogent cultural analysis  is often missed in debate about the value of educ…

Doctor Who: The Coming of The War Doctor

The drum beat to the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who grows ever louder. Still this particular short film addresses a question I've had about Doctor Who for a long time.  As I consider the impact of superhero in a global context, Doctor Who strikes me as singular example of an organic creation of a  superhero archtype in different cultural context.  Doctor Who, based on the definition of the superhero defined by Peter Coogan in his book, Superhero: The Secret Origins of A Genre, is a superhero. As Coogan explains, the superhero acts as an orienting figure that resolves conflicts and contradictions. Furthermore,  Coogan argues mission, powers, identity, and costume are the elements that distinguish the superhero from other kinds of heroes. A careful examination of the Doctor demonstrates that the character has all of these elements.  The Doctor's adventures since 1963 have offered a global audience a vision of superhero cast within the cultural landscape of the Unit…

Thor: A Better World

Thor: The Dark World is a better film than 2011's Thor. Many people were not excited by Thor, but Thor: TDW would not have been possible without the solid foundation created Kenneth Branagh's vision in the first film. 

In many ways, the source of Thor: TDW's superiority rests on the extension to the first film.  Characters are more engaging, Asgard and the nine realms given a bigger scope, and key elements of the Marvel Comics print universe Asgard are presented and embellished for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

This was a great movie going experience. I don't want to spoil anything, but there is a tremendous Captain America: Winter Soldier  clip before and an amazing post credit sequence. In many ways, Thor: TDW adds to our understanding of Marvel Studio Phase 2 events and sets up an awesome Thor 3!

Thor: Treasures of Asgard at Disneyland Park

PBS's Superheroes Documentary

Producers and interviewees discuss "Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle" during the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2013.

A Sign of the Times: Brave New Souls

Brandon Easton's new documentary on African-American creators in science fiction and fantasy touches on a pivotal question about contemporary society. What are the implication of African Americans creating stories rooted in the traditions of speculative fiction?  Does this hold the promise of shattering the perspectives that limit expectations for black people in the United States?  Can these stories move popular culture beyond a moment that replicates narratives that do not allow people of color to cast themselves in a new light?  Answering these questions will have a powerful impact on the United States in the new century.

"You need to project massive energy through the suit."

Great tidbits Christian Bale auditions for Batman Begins in Val Kilmer's batsuitfrom the new Nolan Batman trilogy DVD/Bluray collection coming out.  Nolan's take on Batman realized the character's iconography could drive the story.  Nolan's Batman films became a commentary on the character's relationship to popular culture.  These behind the scene elements will be great for those of us thinking about how the filmmakers chose to adopt and detach elements of Batman's long history for these films.

Who is Melinda May?

I'm a fan of Joss Whedon.  Why deny it?  Everything about Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reminds me of Whedon's best work. Buffy (and Angel) were all about the ensemble.  Get the right people together and magic happens.  Whedon and his collaborators have a knack for finding the right people. This is core of his success.  The real focus of his project is not the adventure so much as the falling in love with the characters.  Once he has you in love with the characters, you come back week after week to see how the heroes will change. I'm looking forward to it.


Carbonerdious, a new documentary about the intersection of culture and identity is an exciting development. To me this resonate with my exploration of the kaleidoscopic nature of culture linked to comics.  Looking forward to seeing this completed.

Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men: Superheroes and the American Experience

The book inspired by American Graphic Media: The History of Superhero Comics in the United States is being put to use in that class. Feeling good about seeing the benefits of our scholarship helping students in the classroom.

Global Comic Culture - in Letchworth Garden City (UK)

Doctor Who: Walking in Eternity

I'm presenting at Doctor Who: Walking in Eternity, the 50th Anniversary conference exploring the impact of this iconic science fiction franchise.  I'm drawn to Doctor Who as an extension of my research into superheroes. As you probably know, the superhero is a uniquely U.S. contribution to the comic medium. Created in 1938, comics as a medium were well established around the world, but the superhero genre was something new.  Created at a time of U.S. global ascendency, the genre evolved and expanded rapidly.  

As John Shelton Lawrence and Robert Jewett argue in The Myth of the American Superhero the American mono myth derives from “tales of redemption” that secularise Judaeo-Christian dramas of community redemption that have arisen in the United States. For U.S. audiences, Doctor Who could be understood as a hero whose adventures and outlook corresponded to the struggle of communal redemption associated with the superhero tradition, but related to the British worldview.  Of co…

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - New Management Trailer

What makes the Arkham franchise so successful?  The answer is easy, the producers concentrate on what is the most iconic about Batman and return to it over and over again.  I risk repeating myself, but this is a point worth noting.  This semester I'm doing the first run of a new course inspired by my constant musing about the intersection between the real and imagine city in comics.  My Comic Book City course leans heavily on first identifying the major theoretical arguments linked to urban development in the United States. Then we chart how those ideas are integrated into the comic medium. The creators working on Batman need not understand the theory, they nonetheless must engage with them.  Moreover, those that successful do so, essential tap a node societal investment, they will draw attention and generate engagement.

RIP Michael Ansara

Star Trek: Pawn Against Pawn
Michael Ansara passed away. You probably don't know his name, but you know his face and voice. It would be hard to imagine Sci-Fi television without his contribution. He was a memorable as Kang on Star Trek (TOS, Deep Space Nine and Voyager), but appeared in Time Tunnel, Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. In recent year, Ansara provided the voice of Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series. 

Mark Waid, "Reinventing Comics And Graphic Novels For Digital"

Mark Waid has gotten a bit of criticism and praise for his advocacy for digital comics.  My mantra, as always, is that comics are the kaleidoscopic point.  A space where broader sociocultural trends come together. On the page the process is layered and intriguing.  The system around comic book publication also offer similar insights. Comic book are artifacts of modern urban industrial experience.  Thus, the turn toward digital in comics is merely a microcosm of the broader transformation from an urban industrial to suburban service economy. This presentation lays out Waid's argument for why digital comics make sense.  Moreover, he gives us some insights into the monetary impact of his efforts.  There is no question there will continue to be a turn toward digital publication. The question is who will benefit from that transformation.

Justice League The Flashpoint Paradox CYBORG Official Clip

Cyborg has been one highlight of the recent changes at DC Comics. Starting with Flashpoint and continuing into the New 52, Cyborg has been placed at the center of the action.  It good to see this reflected in DC's animated films.  DC has been criticized for its lack of diversity in the New 52. I am disappointed with the failure of the Static and Mr. Terrific comics. Moreover, the Milestone Media characters remain sitting on a shelf somewhere (sigh). 

Can Cyborg turn it around?

#FUTURES: Tomorrow Idris Elba will be the Last Man Standing

There is some bad buzz around Pacific Rimon the web. I suspect the possibility of a giant robot movie being awesome is too much for some people.  The internet is full of dark corners, but until we see the movie we won't know the box office.  What we can tell right now is that Idris Elba is doing his part to make the movie a success. A standout performer, Elba has made a name for himself in countless productions.  He achieve wide recognition for his turn on the big screen in films such as Thorand on the small screen in the BBC's Luther.

Of course, the open question about actors of color in any film is whether not they will help or hurt the box office.  Will Smith recent disappointment with After Earth opens the door for this conversation. His lack of success sparks the question who will be the next "bankable" star of color.

There can be only one!

See what I did there:-) 

These sentiments reflect a Hollywood centric approach that ignores Nollywood and Bollywood. Indee…

Happening Now -- The Order: 1886 - Announce Trailer for PS4-- An Artifact of the Cross Narrative Urban Bleed

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2013 is the showcase event for the videogame industry.  I situate videogame within the sphere of the comic narrative, indeed I have long defined comic broadly, writing  and thinking about comics and related media as a way to acknowledge the cultural fusion inherent to our contemporary experience.  
Since 2011, I have used two phrases to try to identify and clarify the process linked to comics.  My assertion is that comic books are an urban topic, thus I see comics narratives as spaces where actual events and imagine circumstances linked to urban life come together in a fictive, yet evolving narrative.  This cross narrative urban bleed draws from multiple socioeconomic and culture sources to create a kaleidoscopic point -- a space to process and reprocess societal ideas about urban life. Intrinsic to kaleidoscopic point is the assumption of the malleability in the modern urban experience. This idea of constant change is both comforting--we will have …

The World of Batman

Batman is an enduring franchise.  The iconic nature of character intersects with problem associated with urban life and culture.  The success of the Christopher Nolan's trilogy has been matched by Batman: Arkham Cityvideo game developed by Rocksteady Studios

Since 2008, the Arkham games have given players the chance to live the gritty Batman existence. The Rocksteady franchise has stylized versions of iconic characters, but the game play is engrossing.  

The success of the Arkham City series standout in a game landscape full of failed tie-in games and lackluster original content.  The key to Rocksteady's success is that the developers recognizes the core ideas behind the source material and caters to a highly specialize customer's expectation. The Arkham City series routinely calls into questions perceptions linked identity, gender, and community. As has been noted in The Video Game Theory Reader (2003), the relationship between the gamer and the game reinforces certain so…

The New Star Trek and the Question Science Fiction versus Fantasy

Star Trek Into Darkness seems well on its way to box office success. I'm not surprise. Since J.J. Abrams took over the franchise reigns, he and his collaborators (Damon LindelofRoberto Orci and Alex Klurtzman) have deftly managed to stop the franchise's decline.

Of course, as is the way of modern media, a comic book series continuing the movie universe continuity has been a big success.   Like many film and tv series, Star Trek has used an ongoing comic to "continue the story" for diehard fans.  Arguably more engaging than other efforts, the producers of the film are using the comic book series to retell classic stories.  Indeed, any fan of the comic series already read "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the Gary Mitchell centric storyline that was focus of speculation as the inspiration for Star Trek Into Darkness.  The producers are using the comic book to keep interest high among diehard fans, rewarding them with insight to the new trek universe.  At th…

The Wolverine: A New Trailer

The new trailer for The Wolverine emphasizes the hard hitting action and iconic warrior themes that have defined Logan in comics for decades.

Big Hero 6 is coming!!

Marvel's Big Hero 6 will be a CGI animated film produced by Disney. A great choice to make an animated film, Big Hero 6 has element that will appeal to U.S. superhero and anime fans.

Afrofuturistic Freedom Dreams

Iron Man 3: The Official Game Trailer

The games have gotten better for each Iron Man movie. If this trailer is any indication, this might be the best one yet.

Iron Man 3 - The Clips Just Keep on Coming

Marvel Cinematic Universe - Phase 2 starts now!

A Marvel Studios Phase 2 video is on the web.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Twoby 2013venjix

Considering the positive buzz around Iron Man 3 this makes perfect sense. This video gives insights into the thinking behind Marvel's Phase Two plan.  With Daredevil rights under Marvel control, could we see a Phase Three with street level heroes like Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist? I think a Phase 3 could weave together an approach focus on a black diaspora experience that links the Black Panther movie in development to a narrative that give Luke Cage a chance to deal with problems linking the African-American experience to African concerns. This is one of the themes that emerged in Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, although forgotten today.  I should get a consultant fee! 

Iron Man & Technology

One element of Iron Man's appeal in print is the armor's continual evolution.  You could look upon it as "boys with their toys," but it runs deeper.

Superior technology combined with solid values have always been a part of the American framing of defense. Iron Man's Cold War roots have allowed the character to easily play into this narrative.  With the current focus on anti-terrorism, technology has gotten both praised and scorn in the public discourse.  Our reliance on surveillance satellite and code breaking so well suited for nation states missed the threat of asymmetric warfare posed by terrorist groups.  After a decade of conflict however, the appreciation of technology has returned.  The debate about military drones is the public face of this new engagement, but the impact is widespread.  Iron Man 3 bring these ideas into the film narrative. Like the United States, Tony Stark's victory will likely hinge on superior tech, reinforcing the belief of techn…

Rescue Is Coming?

The idea of a Rescue movie would be an interesting to get Paltrow fans into the theater, but in terms of the wider cinematic universe, it is not that great of an idea.  A better idea would be a Rescue television series.

Smart Marketing

The sequel to 300 is not hotly anticipated. Given this fact, releasing a picture of Eva Green makes perfect sense. The first film was a visual triumph, but far from a complex cinematic feat.  Judging from the cast, this film could be a major improvement. 

Man of Steel

Nothing new in this TV spot for Man of Steel.  On the other hand, nothing horrible about this movie has made it way around the web, so nothing new is good.

Iron Man 3: Something From the Cast

The contours for the Iron Man 3 story seem to be coming together through the various press narratives. I think the emphasis on a sequel to the Avengers make perfect sense. Moreover the emphasis on character evolution and relationship growth is always good in the third film of a franchise. If you know Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, you know Robert Downey Jr. and  Shane Black can work great together.   Iron Man 3 looks better and better, which in turns means all the other Phase 2 Marvel Studio films are getting a boost.

Iron Man 3: Holiday Greeting

Another great clip from Iron Man 3.  Tony Stark easily channels a techno-gunslinger vibe in this film. In many ways, the contours of the story we have seen harken back to a core element of Iron Man's appeal. He is a lone hero (similar to a gunslinger) on a redemptive journey. He is making up for past wrongs by protecting a community he once threaten. Given Stark's role as a weapons designer, we can expand that framing to cover the entire world.  After seeing Tony Stark at the center of all things Marvel Cinematic Universe, IM3 signals a return to hero gunslinger mode so familiar to the U.S. audiences.

Could international audiences see shadows of the United States' post-1945 journey in Tony Stark? 


Great to see MADHOUSE back in the Iron Man animation game!  Marvel continues to position its most popular characters in spaces where diehards and casual fans can be entertained.  MADHOUSE provides the kind of anime style that will appeals to fans of Giant Robot and similar Asian inspired pop culture in the United States.  The roots of that devotion run deep.  Regardless, this kind of synergy can only help Iron Man 3.

Shape of the World

Marvel Comics has released details of a new storyline featuring Thanos. This is not a surprise. It will coincide with Marvel Studio activities featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy.

What does surprise me is that the new release got coverage in USA Today.  Coverage from "mainstream" media of a new mini-series announcement  is an indication of the synergy linked to superhero comics. We assume that independent comics, always a space for creativity are more cool. DC and Marvel Comics, firmly controlled by corporate media giants are, in the best case scenario, fodder for next blockbuster. 

Still, the relative success of Marvel versus DC over the last few years has more to do with the legacy of independent comics than corporatism.  As far as I can tell, Marvel hasn't hired a writer who was not already established in the independent comic world in more than a decade.  Names like Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, and Jason Aaron published indy comics before setting one foot …

A Different Iron Man 3?

Marvel studios confirms a different version of ‘Iron Man 3′ will open in China - The Global Dispatch

Iron Man 3 will have a slightly different edit for the Chinese market.  This is not a surprise. Given the restrictions on foreign films in the Chinese market, Marvel Studio's decision to team with DMG entertainment for financing was sure to open the door to more than location shoots and Chinese cameo roles. Some people might grumble, but it is important to note that American entertainment companies have followed similar rules in other countries for decades.  Of greater interest to me is that this change will remind some people of influence or censorship debate linked to U.S. corporation trying to operate in China.  Privacy concerns have dogged Google and twitter for years.  The debate is clearly more serious when human rights for dissents provide the backdrop. Yet, in some ways, the power of escapist entertainment as a space for negotiating perspective might provide interest moment…

Scoop on Iron Man 3

Those media insiders over at Digital Spy have published major spoilers from the 20 minute extended preview of Iron Man 3! 

I'm not saying I called it based on the TV spots, but I was pretty close. I think we can see how the Extremis storyline will factor into IM3. 

Iron Man 3 sounds better and better with every snippet.

Iron Man 3 TV spots

Is there anything new in these ads? These spots are basically based on what we have already seen. Questions abound driven by plot speculation across the web.  Case in point,  is Tony using Extremis to move the armor in spot 2?

I can't be sure and anyone who read the comic book knows the Extremis transformation merged part of the armor with Tony's body. Are we seeing this in the tv spots? This seems to be a modular assembly and not a biomechanical interaction. The armor "working at the speed of thought" aspect so crucial to the Extremis story could be on display or it could be something else.  

This reflects a bigger ideological question. Will the audience want to see Tony Stark become part machine? The danger posed by science changing our bodies is a major theme in science fiction today. Will this anxiety inform Iron Man 3 or will The Mandarin as Bin Laden be enough?

If the goal was to make me (and you) curious, Marvel Studios is doing exactly what it needs to do…

Eisenhower's Farewell Address and the Problem of Defense

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appeared on television to deliver his farewell address. Broadcasted from the Oval Office of the White House, Eisenhower framed his closing remarks as “a message of leave taking and farewell” to his countrymen. Far from a nostalgic reminisce of national service, Eisenhower provided a cautionary narrative about the dangers of military buildup in the United States.  Eisenhower's remarks frame a debate about U.S. defense policy since 1945. Namely, he spoke openly of the need to find balance between forces that desired to spend, at all costs, to secure the United States from attack and those forces that advocated for negotiation and disarmament. These ideas inform the meta-textual narrative found in the pages of Iron Man. Debuting two years after Eisenhower's address, Iron Man can be seen as continuation of the pro-American and anti-communist dialogue found throughout Marvel's Silver Age revival. Yet, the narrative also …

One Narrative Universe

Marvel continues to infuse the "feel" of comic books into products across platforms.  This tactic avoids alienating long time fans, but opens the door to a new audience excited by film and television adaptations.  While DC Comic struggles with finding the right tone for many of its Golden Age characters, Marvel's Silver Age origins allow better flexibility for adaption.  As creators adapt the stories for new platform, much of the youthful anxiety and societal uncertainty inherent to Marvel's 1960s stories can be transferred to contemporary debates.

Something to consider as DC and Marvel bring major movie releases to theaters this summer. 

Iron Man 3 and Media Narrative

The media narrative around Iron Man 3 is growing. The details around the plot can be pieced together from multiple source on the web. What is the takeaway? By in large, the reaction to the film seems universally good. The feeling that this will be a character driven movie is coming through. At the end of the day, this is perhaps the most important element I have garnered from the coverage. One of the looming questions for Marvel Studios is can they continue to produce films that will engage the audience. To accomplish that, they need to continue to evolve the narrative linking the Marvel Cinematic Universe together and do that while adding depth and texture to the stories that allows everyone to find something they can enjoy. From all account they accomplishing that goal. Can the comic books that inspired the films accomplish the same thing?