Super Comic Draft Part 2

Why don’t we pick up right where we left off, amidst a game of timing and comicbook know-how, of skill and strategy, round six of our Super Comic Draft! Catch up on the first five rounds if you need to. Read on to learn which characters your Ink contributors value most, and ultimately, who will have the finer team.

Here we go.

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Super Comic Draft, Part 1

It’s the return of Dan to Ink’s My Thing, and what else would we be doing than diving into comics? It’s summer; Fantasy Football drafts are right around the corner, and Pokemon Go has just about taken over the world, but we decided to have some fun of our own.

We hope you’ll enjoy the first five rounds of our Super Comic Draft, a game that is one part sports management, and one part comicbook storytelling. It started as something fun between friends, but the results were so entertaining, we thought we’d post them for all to see. Some choices may surprise you…

Here’s the deal:

An unknown crossover villain threatens both the DC and Marvel comic universes. It is up to Dan and myself to draft heroes, villains, and other characters from across comics, to see who stands the best chance of defeating the new threat, and saving the multiverse. We know nothing about his or her powers or potential weaknesses, so it will be up to our characters to work together, spoil these plans of domination, and solve a crossover crisis.

Think you can handle that?

Okay, here are our rules.

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Fantastic Four Foundation, Review



Continuing my FF reading campaign, I’ve reached the conclusion of Volume Six – Fantastic Four Foundation, and with it the end of Jonathan Hickman’s run on the fabled series.

This graphic novel was more of a story collection than a collected storyline, with nothing tying the editions together. I enjoyed nearly all of them.

As a conclusion to a major writer’s tenure, it was curious, as it did not give us a great story or sense of finality like in Volume Five. Instead, it served to tie up loose ends.


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IDK, Independence Day 2 Review

I see it in the science fiction forums, and the Facebook groups, the ones that say, “Don’t listen to the critics! See this movie!” They really defy reality sometimes, huh? Because I’m here, your resident critic, and I’ll do nothing short of plead with you.

I won’t tell you not to see this movie, or any movie; I would never deny a person their curiosity, or the right to scratch their own itch. But in this Independence Day 2 review, I hope to get something very simple across. It’s like a lot of sequels. So my warning looks more like: don’t see this movie expecting something good. Don’t expect it to live up to your memories of the first film from 1996.

You will get the inkling of a decent concept, a few gags, and perhaps a bit of nostalgia. But the movie at large is replete with self-centered characters, silly parts, and plot holes. It reeks of a lazy storytelling hand, and a team that didn’t take the movie seriously to begin with.

Ready to celebrate your critical independence with me? It was 20 years in the making.

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An Earth Day Spent with Godzilla

In between reading, in between celebrities and heroes dying, and before diving into a review for my writing group, I thought about that holiday that gets no respect whatsoever. I thought I’d offer a proper tribute to Earth Day, which snuck up on all of us yesterday, April 22.

If you’re a Godzilla, or cult movie fan, then you may already know where this is going. If you aren’t much for the King of the Monsters, then this won’t take up too much of your time.

In 1971, Toho released Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Considering that Godzilla himself may be interpreted as a metaphor for nuclear weapons (or as I tend to think, as the muddy consequences of using them) then this movie, which was presented as Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster to Americans in 1972, could do the same for the dangers of pollution. And it had a groovy soundtrack.

Before you ask, this was the film where Godzilla flew by tucking his tail in and breathing fire like rocket exhaust. Also, I had this T-shirt.

Now, please, on this Earth Day, save the Earth with me! It’s what Godzilla would do.

American version, “Save the Earth”.

And the original Japanese, “Return the Sun”.

Happy listening, happy nostalgia, and take a moment to thank the YouTuber who uploaded this time capsule!

All my love,

Batman v Superman Backlash, Fan Edition

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has come out, and to no one’s real surprise, a lot of people dislike it.

Some would say they hate it.

Others would even say they are boycotting it.

But what is behind Batman v Superman backlash? Is it the reaction of fans who got another lazy blockbuster when they would rather have had a film with some feeling and character continuity? Is there more to it for these fans, myself included, who respect comic book history? Who do we ask? Where do we begin?

We can begin with a story. Once upon a time, my friend Dan and I went to see a movie.

(Well, I saw the movie. Dan is another matter.)

My own issues with this film are not unique, but I think I can sum them up in a blurb: plot all over the place, awkward dream sequences, why is Doomsday in this movie?

However, to get a better sense of a purist’s distaste for Batman v Superman, I had a conversation with a longtime reader of Superman and Batman comics. I talked to Dan. I told him that I was seeing the movie, to which he replied, On Easter Sunday, dude?!

Well, we kept talking, and he even said I could blog about it. So, read on. You may find his opinions illuminating.

Dan, the obvious question. Do you plan to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Maybe at some point. Certainly not in the theater.

Sounds like a full-on boycott.

Well, that’s my intention. It won’t mean much to the overall success of the movie, but I’ll be happy knowing it won’t be making any money off of me.

I know I’ve felt the same way about movies, so I can understand. And I know you’re fond of both characters, but out of curiosity, would you say you’re a bigger fan of Superman, or of Batman? Does it even matter?

Probably more of a Superman fan these days. As a kid, Batman was one of my favorites. I didn’t compare him to Superman, but I loved Batman. It wasn’t because he’s human, but because he has these crazy cool villains. And he had a sidekick which I identified with as a younger brother to a kid who loved Batman, too. In my mind, I could be the Robin to my brother’s Batman.

But somewhere along the way, I started investing more time into Superman. I loved reading about this guy who came to this planet as an orphan. He was raised to put others before himself, can fight the most powerful creatures on the planet, but still takes the time to help a little girl find her mom when she’s lost in the mall. He tells a girl who’s contemplating suicide, ‘Hey, you’re stronger than you know. It’s not as bad as it seems, and I’m here for you.’ Both these types of things happen in the comics, which makes me love him more.

To me, Batman is the hero who shows kids that he’s stronger than the growing pains, and whatever life throws at us. Superman is the guy I look to when I want to find hope in myself, or in others, or when someone I don’t know well asks for a favor.

Do you think the producers of this movie understand the Superman you’ve just described? We have, by all accounts, been seeing a dark Superman.

They don’t understand Superman, that much is true. They barely seem to understand Batman as I know him. They’ve just turned him into an asshole who is no longer worried about killing because ‘if it happened in other movies—why not ours?’


Dan with Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of the animated Batman

People wanted to see Superman hit things, not necessarily a dark and whiny character. But Snyder and Goyer don’t see a difference with that.

You may not have seen the film, but you have been told about it by a number of people, and I’ve seen you share nearly every review or article about Batman v Superman. So, what’s wrong with it?

What’s wrong with it? Besides the fundamental misunderstanding of the characters whose names are in the title, there are problems with plot, not being able to control or maintain enough storylines for the movie to work, and everything seems to suffer because of it.

They didn’t just fly too close to the sun. They flew into it. What’s left is the ash of a movie that could have been good if they decided to focus on what matters.

Let’s pretend for a minute that DC and Warner Bros. care what you and I think. As a comic book fan who wants to see a good comic book movie, what could have made this film better?

I mean, any number of things. Editing, character development, a sensible plot, a taste of things to come, and maybe a lesson to be learned by the characters in it? But that’s not what we got. Yet, people will go anyway because it’s the first time the trinity of DC is in a movie. Or, because it’s got Batman fighting Superman, like casual fans have been wanting since the comic Dark Knight Returns came out in the 80s.

Maybe give Superman and Batman a real resolution to their fight, not ‘Hey, both our mom’s names are Martha. Let’s forget the fact that I think you’re an overpowered God who should be killed, or that you think I’m a deranged vigilante whose brutal methods make me just as bad as the people I’ve sworn to fight.’ Maybe make Lois less of a damsel in distress. Maybe give Lex a decent motive for why he’s pissed at Superman.

But Zack Snyder can’t tell a story to save his life. He can make things look beautiful and spectacular, but that’s not enough to make a story good. It’s enough to get someone interested, but not enough to enjoy the movie. And I know because I’ve seen Sucker Punch. The movie looked great, but made no sense at all.

Do you agree with sites, such as The Comics Beat, which have said that Batman V. Superman sacrificed storytelling just to set up a Justice League franchise? iO9 has also detailed how much of the movie was set-up.

I think it did take time away from plot and character development to introduce characters, and set up the League. The problem with that was it came off as forced, and seemed more like a pathetic attempt than an organic sequence in the movie.

You said that they barely understood Batman earlier. Can I ask, did Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan understand him?

Hollywood seems to lose more and more of its understanding of who Batman is, and how he does things. Nolan and Burton made fine Batman films, but there were flaws to the character. Burton’s Batman saw him attaching dynamite to a thug, and tossing him into the sewer to kill him, where Nolan’s Batman took eight years off after the death of Rachel. These things would never happen, and I say this as a fan of both the Burton and Nolan films.

Will we–can we–ever see an ideal movie for either Batman or Superman? Have we seen one already?

You can take liberties with these characters. Lord knows you can’t make them 100% like the comics they come from, but even then there are some things that are vital to what makes these characters who they are.

Richard Donner Superman movies were my ideal Superman movies. They made the character believable. He didn’t live in our world, but we wanted to live in his. Superman hadn’t been brought down to our level as humans like Zack Snyder has done, but he had helped elevate us to his level like he’s supposed to.

As for Batman, the Adam West movie was an ideal version of him in that time period, although I’ve never seen a perfect live action version of the character. The closest we’ve been is probably The Dark Knight.

But there are several animated movies that have shown the Superman I know and love, and the same goes for Batman. Superman vs the Elite, and All Star Superman. Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman Year One. I hold out hope that we’ll get another chance to see a live action movie where the caped crusader meets the blue boy scout, and become the best of friends they’re known to be in the comics. Yeah, they can fight, but let it be more believable as to why and how it ends. Let the movie have no clear winner.

Scott Snyder wrote in a more recent issue of his acclaimed Batman run, ‘Who wins in a fight between Batman and Superman? The answer? No one does.’


Dan with Batman writer Scott Snyder and brother Jim

Dan would like to thank his brothers Jim and Stephen, and his friend Ryu, for giving him detailed descriptions of the film. Ink’s My Thing would like to thank Dan for his time. We know readers who will appreciate his honesty.

If you’re a reader dropping by with an opinion, we hope you won’t keep it to yourself.

Star Wars Rebels: The Rant

I didn’t want to come here. You made me come here.

I speak of the YouTube comments that ruined my day, and have forced me to put all else aside.

Do you watch Star Wars Rebels? You know, that Disney project they probably churned out as an afterthought on coffee breaks during the editing of Inside Out. That show with the kind-of-weird animation, and too few flips during the lightsaber duels. The show that foolishly places storytelling and character development before fight scene choreography. How dare they anyway? How dare they spit on the memory of Clone Wars, or screw up dueling forms from 1 through 5, and how dare their lightsabers be so skinny?

Well, haters, we all can’t have a huge lightsaber.

I grant the following.

• The animation found in Star Wars Rebels would seem rougher than what Clone Wars had to offer.
• The fight scenes in the present cartoon are not mind-blowing in terms of their scale or fire power.
• I’m a Clone Wars fan. Although, I find myself watching it more now than I did when it was on the air. Mostly, I’ve done this because it has been held up as the example new Star Wars creators must live up to.

Yet, less is more.

Not everything we see can—or should—be epic. Not every battle must contain ten combatants wielding double-bladed lightsabers, performing the moves of a figure skater. Every episode need not be a Kung-Fu movie. Not every character you run across should be overpowered, or have an arsenal of force abilities, befitting only a boss from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

In fact, the very reason Kanan of the rebels is a good character is because he is an average Jedi, even below average. A person can relate to him, which is kind of important as far as telling a story goes.

There is a reason that, while Clone Wars has been called a very good cartoon, Rebels has been called the spiritual successor to the original Star Wars trilogy. It was The Force Awakens before The Force Awakens hit the box office, and it is a shame that it is not often recognized for this achievement. Does everything come down to action sequences, or visual perfection?

• To those who attack the use of Ahsoka, Anakin’s apprentice on Clone Wars, merely because she is not a Disney creation—would you rather Disney pretend she never existed?
• Ask yourself if Luke Skywalker really cared what form of lightsaber combat he was using as he dared to fight Vader for the first time. Do you think he paused on his way to Bespin to count his midi-chlorians first—you know, to make sure they were all there? Ask yourself if any of this was going through the heads of original fans.
• Have you ever felt the way you felt when Kanan first drew his lightsaber in the premier, though all Jedi were presumed dead? Do you ever recall a scene, even from Clone Wars, that was anything like it? Because these are the things that matter.

If you disparage Rebels because you dislike Disney, or feel gross because an ‘evil empire’ has taken control of your beloved saga, I hear you. What you feel toward Disney now is the way many other fans felt during the releases of episodes I-III, that something near and dear to you has been corrupted.

You may be proven right one day, and Star Wars may be stripped of its soul, downgraded to a cute theme park ride or something. But that day is not today. Hate to break it to anyone out there, but storytelling must be judged on its merits, not on what is attached to the project. And in case you’ve missed it, at this moment, Star Wars stories are thriving.


Interview with Planet Fulcrum’s Paul Dellow

Welcome to the human race.

This is a journey into the world of a unique online game, whose creator is gearing up for launch. As you’ll soon learn, Planet Fulcrum goes beyond turn-based combat and stats, and into the realm of pop culture and personality. Read on, and if you like what Paul Dellow has to say about his project, then donate to the Kickstarter campaign, up and running right now: Back Planet Fulcrum.

I’d love to learn a little about the developers, and your dream to create Planet Fulcrum. How many of you dreamers are there? When would you say this all started?

My role in Planet Fulcrum is founder, game designer, graphic designer and illustrator, and I have the support of two others when they can. Martin Carroll is the copywriter, and responsible for fleshing out the comic book storyline and prequel comic. Chris Pengelly is another designer who helped me produce the 2000 + items for the character creator system.

My background is in graphic design, and around 2008, after spending many a year advising others on how to go about building a brand, I wanted something for myself, but more of a pet project than a stake in the world. By chance I met an old friend who had told me he was selling comics on eBay but had to give up, as it was taking too much time with not much return. I said I’d be interested in taking on his stock and building my own online comic shop. Just to a. brush up on my coding, and b. reignite my childhood love for science fiction, comics, and cartoons. He gladly offered me over 1000 comic books to do with as I pleased. Awesome!

So in my spare time I built a shop, catalogued the comics, and uploaded all the information into the database. Ready to rock.

I called the store Planet Fulcrum – Center of the Comic Book Universe – and that got me thinking. Looking at my hoard of comics, and the varied genres from superheroes to zombies, G.I. Joes to Wizards and Warriors, I thought, what if Planet Fulcrum was more? A place where all these genres could meet and do battle, kind of a pop culture mashup in one game?

So I decided to sketch, draw, and write all my thoughts into an a5 note pad, positioning everything from gameplay to in-game eco-system and story outline.

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