Month: September 2013

Why I could never write comic books…

My cousin Aaron is an amazing comic book illustrator. This morning, I woke up and was excited because, a while back, he announced that he’s doing a three issue run of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, and part 1 dropped today. Batman’s my favorite DC character, so to have my cousin doing it was pretty awesome to find out. You can check it out here.

I blame Aaron for getting into comics in the first place. I remember having him sign an issue of Spider-Man as a kid, a memory that clearly impacted my favorite comic book character for the rest of my life (Spider-Man). And to a certain extent, I’m envious of his job. He’ll be the first to tell you, working in comics isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, but being a nerd, it has to be a pretty cool feeling to be able to determine the stories of characters you grew up reading, to play in the proverbial sandbox.

Which is why, ultimately, I would be terrible at it.

Disregarding my utter lack of artistic ability, I don’t think I could even be trusted with the storyline. I’m too much of a geek, and to an extent I would be too tempted to try and live out every geek fantasy I’d ever had in one story. A creative meeting with an editor would likely go something like this:

Editor: So, what’s your idea for doing Batman?

Me: so it’s the middle of the night, and Batman catches joker trying to steal jewels from a museum…

Editor: okay…

Me: …but it turns out its not actually Joker, it’s Superman in a Joker costume!

Editor: why is Superman in a Joker costume?

Me: because Joker borrowed a kryptonian mind control device from Lex Luthor and is using Supes as his puppet!

Editor: wait, what?

Me: I know! Mind blown, right? So then, Green Lantern shows up to help Bats, when…

Editor: Hang on, when did Green Lantern become involved?

Me: He was searching for Superman when he went missing. Focus.

Editor: Uhhh….

Me: So then this epic battle ensues between Bats/Lantern and Supes/Joker, when out of nowhere Captain America shows up…

Editor: You know the JLA/Avengers crossover was a one time deal, right?

Me: Psssh. Details. Anyway, Cap shows up with the X-Men, but the fight is interfered with by Sentinels sent back from the future with Nimrod, and…

You see, my fanboy mentality would overtake me. I’d be like myself at age 10, playing with action figures. I wouldn’t even care that my story having Wolverine square off against Batman made no logical sense whatsoever. There would probably be a whole lot of heroes and villains beating each other up, and very little character development. I think with Aaron’s vetran experience in the comic book industry, he possesses a modicum of control that I, quite honestly, wouldn’t.

Would I love to tell a great story using established characters? Sure. I’d love to write a Star Wars novel someday, as random as that may seem (Humor writing to Science Fiction seems like a bit of a jump, but if Grisham can go from legal thrillers to Skipping Christmas, I have SOME hope) But comic book heroes are likely not be the best characters for me to play with. I’m too big of a nerd.

Injustice and Man of Steel–A joint review ridden with spoilers…

Allow me to start of by saying, if you haven’t seen Man of Steel or played Injustice: Gods Among Us, and want to be surprised by story elements, stop reading. Right now. I’m going to talk about the plots of both of them in some detail and if putting the word “spoiler” in the post title and starting off with an entire paragraph telling you not to read on because of the spoilers doesn’t deter you, it’s your own fault.

My return to a week of no writing whatsoever after the end of the school term was riddled with playing the game “Injustice: Gods Among Us”, an Xbox game I checked out from the library. For you kids who don’t realize the kind of age I came from, when I was a kid, libraries were a place where you checked out books and the occasional movie, if we wanted to play a video game without buying it, we had to go to these things called Blockbuster Video. It was like a Red Box, but there were actually people working there. Truly, these are crazy times.

In any case, the plot of the game revolves around the classic DC Comics premise of multiple universes–that is, many different versions of essentially the same universe, however with different variations of historic events. To bring a long story short, in one of these universes, Superman is lured into a trap set by the Joker in which he uses a combination of Scarecrow’s fear toxin and kryptonite to make Superman hallucinate, inadvertently killing Lois Lane and his unborn son. Oh, and Joker tied a nuclear bomb detonator to Lois’ heartbeat, so when she died, Metropolis was obliterated. 

As a result, Superman goes mad with grief, kills the Joker, and then through the course of events, sets up a one world order, effectively declaring an end to all wars on the planet “or else”, ruling with an iron fist. For the sake of keeping track of the storyline, we’ll call this “Earth one”.

Meanwhile, in what we’ll call “Earth two”, Batman & Co. manage to stop the Joker, however Joker and a cadre of the Justice League (Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow) are pulled via a time-space portal into Earth one by Batman one (okay, admittedly, this plot might get a little hard to follow, so I’m apologizing in advance–I’ll try not to fry anyone’s brain with this.) Eventually Cyborg in earth two gets pulled into Earth one trying to pull back the other Earth two heroes. In essence, they’re trying to end Superman’s repressive regime, and finally manage to do so by pulling Earth two Superman into the fray to defeat.. well.. himself. (Who better than to stop a grief-stricken Kryptonian than a non-grief stricken version of himself?)

Now, the storyline intrigued me in this game–essentially, we find out what happens when Superman’s just fed up, when darkness consumes him and he’s essentially unchallenged because… well… he’s freakin’ Superman. The killing of the Joker changed him, at this point in the story he’s gone from goody-two shoes, never kills anyone to “Let’s get rid of the animals.” I think it’s possible that, yes, Superman could eventually be pushed that far, in which case it would be a scary situation.

This, however, brings me to Man of Steel. More importantly, the end of Man of Steel.

If you disregarded my warning because you weren’t interested in Injustice, but are planning on seeing Man of Steel, this is your last call to get off the spoiler train before it reaches its final destination.

Okay, so at the end, he kills General Zod. We can endlessly debate over weather or not it was the right course of action, and while I don’t have any problem with him killing Zod in principle, the thing that I would’ve liked to see was more character development. I think in Batman Begins, when Batman says to Ra’s al Ghul “I’m not going to kill you. But I don’t have to save you, either.” it’s a moment that we expect. Batman’s a masked vigilante, but while we won’t murder someone, he also doesn’t have a problem letting them die. With Superman, all I can hear echoing is Uncle Ben in Spider-Man “With great power comes great responsibility,” and of all superheroes, let’s face it–as long as there aren’t any glowing green rocks around, Superman is about as powerful as they come. I would’ve liked to see him struggle with that power a bit, with the knowledge that he really has no equal amongst humans, then be put in a position where he has to kill to save humanity, and he shows great remorse for having killed. The way it went off was basically this:

Zod: I’m gonna kill all humanity, yo.

Supes: Nu-uh. *snaps his neck* *Zod dies* *Lois runs in and hugs him, then everyone’s back to work despite Metropolis having been basically leveled in the climactic, war-of-the-worlds type battle that had just taken place*

It was anti-climactic. I didn’t feel any real emotion, like Superman had been conflicted about having to take a life to save many more. It didn’t fit with the persona I’ve always associated with Superman.

What do you think? Am I crazy to think that in Man of Steel he should have shown a little remorse?