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marvel

Movies

Movie review: Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

My household finally saw Age of Ultron last night, along with our pal Jenny. Which means I can finally start paying attention to my various feeds again, since several of the sites I follow have been all AGE OF ULTRON AGE OF ULTRON AGE OF ULTRON. Several of the other people I follow, too.

Picoreview: I enjoyed it, although it didn’t hit me with quite the same hammerstrike of Awesome that was the first Avengers movie, or the sleekly plotted tightness of Winter Soldier. There were bits of it I have issues with, and in places it felt rushed and crowded. Overall, I’m thinking B+ territory.

The spoilers cannot lift the hammer and are therefore clearly not Worthy!

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Comics

Comic review: Thor #1, by Marvel

This is the year I’ve been steadily increasing my digital comics reading–and now I’ve got yet another subscription to add to my growing list of female-led titles I’m following from Marvel. Namely, the first of the new Thor series, introducing a female Thor.

Goddess of Thunder

Goddess of Thunder

I don’t have much familiarity yet with the Asgardian mythos as depicted by Marvel, at least in the comics–I haven’t been following the current Avengers line, or the Thor titles that’ve led up to this. My experience so far was with a couple of complimentary digital issues that came with the Blu-ray of the second Thor movie. So I was coming into this issue pretty much cold.

To my amusement, my immediate reaction as soon as I started reading was to observe how much Thor, at least as drawn by this artist, looked suspiciously like Chris Hemsworth. For the record, I am on board with that. Because yum. And in general, I liked the art, though the font the letterer uses for the Asgardians’ speech is a trifle hard to read. I get why they’re doing it–it’s a visual cue to signify how their speech is more formal and archaic than that of us modern folk of Midgard, I expect. But it’s still a bit of a hitch to me as I try to read the dialogue.

As a more or less new reader to Marvel’s Asgardian mythos, with enough familiarity from the movies to recognize the characters, I felt like I didn’t need any prior backstory to know what was going on. The story sets it up for us pretty clearly: the Avengers were in a great battle upon the moon, and Nick Fury whispered something to Thor that threw him into a morass of despair. Ever since, Thor’s been on the moon, desperately trying to lift Mjollnir again, and unable to do so. We are not told what this whisper was, and there’s great consternation on the part of Odin and Freyja as they try to rouse the despondent Thor.

We’re also told that Odin has returned from being away, and that Freyja has been ruling Asgard in his absence as the All-Mother. Odin accuses Freyja of coddling Thor, only to discover that he can’t lift the hammer either, and in his anger he snarks at Freyja about remembering her place now that he’s back to rule again. Odin, Odin, Odin. How long have you been married to your queen? Haven’t you figured out yet that pissing her off is unwise?

Meanwhile, OH HEY LOOK FROST GIANTS FROM UNDER THE SEA. And Dark Elf Malekith makes an appearance, and I have to say, I rather liked him. (But then, I’m rather partial to snarky Dark Elves, as anyone who’s read Faerie Blood could figure out.) It’s this that finally rouses Thor from his despair, and even if he doesn’t have the hammer, he puts up a valiant battle against Malekith. Which does not go well.

I’m a little bummed that we don’t see the new female Thor until the end of the story–but it was rather nifty nonetheless to see the mysterious figure picking up the hammer, and to see the inscription on it shifting pronouns from ‘he’ to ‘she’. I’m given to understand that there will be several suspects for who the new Thor actually is. And so far, I’m definitely on board for finding out.

Bring it on, new Goddess of Thunder! Let there be lightning!

The Internet

Amazon vs. Disney: FIGHT!

Amazon is already not looking good on the Internet this weekend, thanks to trying to corral KDP authors into their slapfight with Hachette. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

Dara discovered that Amazon is apparently ALSO in a dispute with Disney right now. So if you were looking to preorder copies of Muppets Most Wanted or Maleficent or Captain America: The Winter Soldier on disc from Amazon and found that you can’t, this would be why.

And I gotta say–seriously? I mean, picking a fight with a book publisher is one thing, but going up against the Mouse? And by extension, all the Disney and Marvel fans who want to order their movies? Captain America’s fandom, who have Winter Soldier about to drop on Blu-ray and DVD and who have the money to slurp up hundreds of thousands of copies? You want to piss all these customers off, Amazon?

Amazon even pulled this stunt with Warner earlier this year, too, according to the link above. And when you take all these examples together, and add in Amazon’s dispute with Macmillan a few years back as well, they start making quite the trend. If they keep it up, it’ll become a trend of making themselves unreliable to their customers.

‘Cause see my previous commentary on the Hachette post I put up yesterday. At the end of the day, if a customer comes to Amazon looking for Winter Soldier and sees that they can’t get it, if they REALLY want the movie right then, they’re going to go elsewhere to buy it. Target. Or Best Buy. Or Walmart. Or hell, even the video section of the nearest grocery store.

At the end of the day, all the customer knows is that they want to buy a thing. And if Amazon can’t provide that thing on a reliable, regular basis, eventually they’re going to start taking their business elsewhere.

Best comment I’ve seen on this was in the thread on userinfojames_nicoll‘s post about it, to wit:

Reports from Amazon distribution warehouses show massive Rodent Infestation chewing through stock.

Because YEAH. Pass the popcorn.

ETA: The NY Times has picked up the story!

Whedonesque has also noticed, which brought to my attention that yes, this impacts orders for the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., too.

Which of course leads to the obligatory second best comment I have now spotted, this time on Facebook: “Hail Hydra!”

ETA #2: The Mary Sue has the story now. And another NY Times article goes into both of the Amazon news items from over the weekend here.

Comics

Comic review: Storm #1, by Marvel

I’ve mentioned before I was eager to pick up the debut issue of Marvel’s new storyline for Storm. That issue has just dropped, and I gotta say, I was quite delighted by it. I’ve already been happy to be reading the lines for Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Ms. Marvel, but this? This made me happy in ways the others haven’t yet, just because I know Storm.

Storm Preview

Storm Preview

She’s the first superheroine who ever caught my eye and made me interested in comics, way back in my middle school days when I hung out with young nerd boys who were reading X-Men releases. I remember liking Storm in no small part because she was a girl on a team that was predominantly male. But I also thought she was beautiful, and graceful, and oh my goddess, her hair. I remember reading her origin story, and can still recall the panels of a young Ororo, skyborn over her African village, her face radiant with joy as she called down the rains onto the drought-stricken land.

I fell out of reading the X-Men not long after the Dark Phoenix saga, so I haven’t been paying attention to them outside a movie context in ages. But reading Storm #1? It felt like coming home.

The story: very basic and straightforward, with an A-plot pertaining to Storm lending aid to an African village, and having the maturity now to better know how to handle saving them without threatening other locations beyond them. The village is delighted to accept her help, and there’s a shot of her getting her picture taken with a young girl, and both of them have joyous expressions that were just beautiful to behold. Naturally there are complications–because the village in question is located in a country with an anti-mutant regime, and the local soldiers are very direct in telling her she’s not wanted or welcome.

The B-plot, also straightforward. Storm’s now headmistress of the Jean Gray School for Higher Learning–what I used to know as the Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. And there’s a student with plant powers (“ooh, a plantshaper!” says the Elfquest fan in my brain), codename Flourish, only she’s been saddled with the nickname Creep by her classmates. She’s getting bullied. And she lashes out at Storm in ways that make Ororo have to confront her own choices.

Art-wise, gosh, this was lovely. Especially all the panels with Ororo in the air, and the last page in particular is glorious. You should look at this issue on the strength of the art alone.

Here are some other reviews you can sample, including several with lovely preview glimpses of the art. And I very much like Adventures in Poor Taste’s caption of “Umm… sir? Let’s not be a douche to the woman who stopped a hundred foot tall wave, alright?” Because yeah.

Comics

I for one welcome our new Goddess of Thunder

Marvel apparently is continuing its campaign to get more of my money, with the news that not only are they shifting the right to wield Mjöllnir–and to use the name of Thor–over to a woman, they’re also actively courting the female demographic.

THANK YOU, MARVEL. Why yes, I WILL have some.

See, this is exactly the kind of thing that will in fact get me to buy comics. I’m already reading the Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Ms. Marvel titles, and I’ve just recently added the standalone Storm title to my subscriptions. I’ll be looking at this new Thor when it shows up, too.

Mind you, I refuse to give up appreciating the beauty that is Chris Hemsworth as Thor in the MCU, because yum. The Mary Sue was also responsible for pretty much crystallizing my reaction to his portrayal, which was: “I want to live in his hair!”

If I Weren't Agnostic, This Would Totally Convert Me

If I Weren’t Agnostic, This Would Totally Convert Me

That said, my universe is large and can contain multitudes. Specifically, it can happily accommodate different-gendered versions of the same character. Which it has, in fact, done before. Case in point, my and Dara’s TV Girlfriend!

https://twitter.com/josswhedon/status/489115238269476864

Well said, Mr. Whedon. WELL SAID.

ETA: Dorkly chimes in on the matter over here! Thanks, Dorkly. Now I’m totally going to be imagining Chris Hemsworth roaring “THIS IS SHIT OF THE HORSE!” for the rest of the day.

ETA #2: And in the alternate universe where the MCU has in fact cast Thor as a woman, I submit for consideration that Samantha Wright is the clear and logical choice.

Comics

And now for this morning’s round of PUNCHINGS

Let me tell you a thing about having an iPad, Internets: it means I’ve become way more of a comics reader than I used to be, back in the day when the only comic I had any real interest in was Elfquest.

Dark Horse has contributed a lot to that–not only because they’ve picked up Elfquest for its resurrection, but also because they’ve produced excellent material for the extensions of the storylines for both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. I’ve even dabbled some in the comics adaptations of the new Trek universe, wherein they’re telling stories more along the lines of what I am NOT getting out of the new movies: i.e., some goddamn Star Trek, with obligatory strange new worlds and exploration and such. In the last few years I’ve enjoyed a MacGyver miniseries from Image Comics, the three-part Anne Steelyard story, and the graphic novel for the Thrilling Adventure Hour.

But it’s been because of the Mary Sue and their coverage of certain Marvel storylines, combined with my growing general affection for the Marvel movie universe, that I’ve committed to following some actual superhero comics for the first time in my life. These are the current storylines for Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and the new young Ms. Marvel, that last in no small part because I really like that Marvel’s trying to branch out with some religious and ethnic diversity in their superhero lineup.

See, ’cause here’s the thing–I’ve been all too aware and very sad about how a lot of the comics industry these days is infected with rampaging sexism. But dammit, I like superheroes. I have ever since I discovered the X-Men when I was in middle school. I loved Christopher Reeve as Superman way back in the day, and Michael Keaton in the first of his Batman movies. I adored the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. And I am full of nothing but love for the extended DC Animated universe, that connected all the episodes of the Batman, Superman, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. That was some damn fine storytelling, and to this day, Mark Hamill’s brilliant voice work for the Joker makes his version of the character my all-time favorite.

And it’s very worth mentioning that in the Murkworks, we very, VERY much like She-Hulk. In fact, Dara played her in an RPG we did in Kentucky, back when we were still having our Saturday gaming nights.

So when I see news like this about how one of the people involved with the still-unnamed sequel* to Man of Steel (the one in which Wonder Woman is finally going to have her first big-screen appearance EVER) says some hugely insulting things about She-Hulk and about geeks in general, I feel my blood pressure spiking. Because this? This gives us a two-fer, a slam not only to a beloved character, but also to comics geeks of both genders all over the country.

And make no mistake, the questions he was asked shouldn’t get a pass, either. “Slut-Hulk”? SERIOUSLY?

And I can’t even muster rage about it, because it’s so goddamn exhausting to see this attitude again and again and again.

But for the record, let’s lay it out:

One, women can like superheroes too. Seriously. We CAN. We DO. And it’s hugely, hugely offensive to dismiss the women in your character lineup as “porn stars”, i.e., only there for the gratification of the men, because HELLO, we’re buying these comics too.

Two, enough already with the tiresome stereotype of geeks and nerds as losers who can’t get dates, who live in their parents’ basements, etc., etc., we’ve heard it all before. And y’know what? If your reaction to our interests is to point and laugh at us as socially inept and unfuckable, you know who we definitely won’t be going out with? YOU.

If you need me, Internets, I’ll be over here, consoling myself with the coming of Agent Carter–and with comics that aren’t belittling my gender. Or belittling me for picking them up in the first place.

* Editing to add: ah, apparently the film actually does have a title now: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I am still not filled with confidence here. Not much room for it with all the PUNCHINGS.

Movies

Movie review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Gracious, that was highly satisfying!

I’ve heard rumors that in Germany the trailers for this movie have been playing it up as a Black Widow movie that just happens to also include Captain America. I’m really rather okay with that, because goddamn, Black Widow laid down her awesome all over this plot. Which is not to say that the Cap and Nick Fury weren’t also awesome–because they were.

And I gotta admit, although I bailed on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after episode 6, I’m intrigued enough by what this movie did to the overall universe that I’m thinking I’ll have to get caught up on the story. Five or six different people have already told me that GOD YES YOU NEED TO GET CAUGHT UP. So I’ll see what I can do about that.

Spoilers behind the fold!

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