Sunday, September 2, 2012

The DC New 52 one year later

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How this blog will live on


As I have migrated to I have not been making any updates here. I have decided I will start posting links to the new updates here to help promote the new site. So here are the links to the posts I have made that were not posted here. Warning. The latest is a doozy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

We've moved


Starting today all updates can be found at

Please join us as we continue are online exploration of geek culture there.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Justice League Movie: Potential treat, or impending train wreak.

This week DC entertainment announced that they have hired Will Beall to write a script for a Justice League movie. There are also rumblings of trying to get a new Wonder Woman movie going again, as well as Lobo and Suicide Squad movies. This really isn’t surprising. I imagine that with the Avengers currently sitting as the third highest grossing movie of all time that there is a lot of pressure to get the DC properties steaming along.

I can only imagine what DC entertainment president Diane Nelson has to deal with right now. The success of not just the Avengers, but the entire Marvel Cinema Universe highlights how much the DC properties not about Batman have struggled. The DC characters are very powerful and prominent intellectual properties, yet they have not be able to gain any traction.
I think the problem isn’t a hard one to figure out. It’s DC entertainment’s parent company, Warner Brothers.
Last August I looked at the Green Lantern movie in comparison to Captain America. Captain America was a movie that reveled in its comic book roots and yet remembered that it had to be an enthralling action movie for the general audience. Rather than dumb down the character for mass consumption Marvel made sure to build up Steve Rogers so that the movie going public would love him as much as the longtime fans.
Green Lantern by comparison was a stock summer block buster that had a generic action movie plot and Ryan Reynolds playing a character much like he has in most movies he has been in. In other words Warner Brothers was playing it safe. I have a feeling that the production of the movie was very influenced by focus groups.
The end result was a hit of Marvel and an underperformer for DC.
The point I am getting at is that Warner Brothers isn’t playing to the strengths of the DC properties. Marvel has made six movies that know full well they are action hero fantasies and instead of trying to bring their heroes into the real world they are trying to create a believable version of their superhero universe. Disney bought Marvel part way through this and made the wise decision to leave them alone as the plan is working.
Warner Brothers on the other hand does not seem to trust that the audience will embrace a theatric version of the DC universe. The words that keep getting thrown around are “Dark”, “Gritty”, and “Mature”. That works great for Batman as Christopher Nolan has shown, but not so much for Superman, or Wonder Woman.
If you don’t believe me on that point I suggest track down a copy of the recent Wonder Woman pilot. Instead of the strong but compassionate hero she was created to be, Wonder Woman was portrayed as a grim badass who would torture a bed ridden mook for information and straight up kill a security guard who got in her way. Basically she was unsympathetic and the show was terrible.
Not to say that this approach won’t work for all heroes, for example Green Arrow. There is a new Green Arrow series coming this fall that looks pretty good. It is going the darker route, but Green Arrow being a non-powered hero like Batman can make that work. But even this one seems to be victim to focus group shenanigans. The show and the hero in it are just being called Arrow. Apparently due to the failure of Green Lantern the word green is now taboo in a superhero name.
I have an idea that I would like to suggest to Warner Brothers. Bring on Bruce Timm for your film efforts. Timm was the driving force behind the DC animated universe that gave us Batman the animated series, Superman the animated series and Justice League unlimited. These were great and comic and non-comic fans alike loved them. Let Bruce write up some script treatments and whatever you do WB, do not let a focus group anywhere near them.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Seattle: The Birth of the Geek Capital of the World

My claim that Seattle is the Geek Capital of the World grows stronger all the time.

We currently have the King Tut Exhibit at the Science Center.

Our Science Fiction Museum is about to open an Icons of Science Fiction Exhibit.

And we have a growing battle between a Real Life Superhero and a Real Life Supervillian.

And I will be writing about all of those in the future.

But today rather than the future, I would like to talk about the past. Because if you want to know why Seattle is so prone to generate geek culture you have only to look to its History.
It is a history of conflict, con-artistry, sex, booze, political intrigue, violence, legal maneuvering, and a suspicious fire. I am at a lost as to why so far I can only find two cases where Hollywood has used that history in screenplays.
There is no way I am going to cover all of Seattle’s great history in this post. But I will highly recommend three books if you are so inclined. The first is Sons of the Profits by Bill Speidel. If you want to really understand Seattle’s history for just how entertaining it is, this is the book for you. Its tone is light, and points out how the fate of the region turned on a dime….or a nickel, or however much they could make.
Speidel also wrote Doc Maynard: the man who invented Seattle which covers the history of one of the key city founders. Finally Skid Row by Murray Morgan, and yes, that term was coined in Seattle.

So what are the points of interest that make Seattle history great?

You have the feud between Arthur Denny and his party, and David “Doc” Maynard. Denny and party were Republican Methodist and teetotaler. Maynard was a Democrat and he was definitely not a teetotaler. Each settled in different parts of the area, but close enough that it was clear that Seattle would be made up of both their land.
And how did this play out. Well look at a map of downtown Seattle today.

See how parts of it seem to come together haphazardly. This is the legacy of two men building up their territory with no regard to the other, and some more than healthy stubbornness.

Maynard was not well liked by the other members of the Seattle establishment for things like being a Democrat, His friendship with Chief Sealth (also known as Chief Seattle whom the city was named for) and the fact that he made several business deals designed to boost the city rather than line his pocket. Seriously there is a movie in there.
Denny and friends also objected to a theory of Maynard’s about what was needed to help a frontier town grow. Maynard had a hand in the development of Cleveland OH. One of the lessons he learned there was one way to help an area grow was to promote prostitution. To this end he encouraged one John Pinnell to set up shop. He also worked with Mary Ann Conklin AKA Mother Damnable in setting up her brothel. Just to be clear neither Pinnell nor Conklin set up the infamous Seattle Seamstresses union. That was Madam Lou Graham who was after Maynard’s time. Graham however did use her profits from the “Seamstresses” to help finance much of Seattle’s turn of the Century development.
A counter point to all this fun and games was Asa Mercer. Mercer understood the basics of Maynard’s theory, that in a frontier town the men get lonely and female companionship helps them and in turn helps the area. Mercer had a different idea how to go about it. Between 1864 and 1866 Mercer made two trips to the east coast to recruit women to come back to Seattle to find husbands. He managed to bring 46 women to the area. If your family has roots in the Pacific Northwest going back several generations, you have over 70% odds of being descended from the Mercer girls. A 60’s TV Show Here comes the Brides was based on this story.

Oh and there was that fire.

On June 6th 1889 a fire broke out that would claim 32 city blocks. Despite the damage only one death was reported, a boy James Goin, and there is some dispute if he actually died in the fire.
No one is sure what caused the fire, the story of it starting in a paint shop were just rumors at the time. But what is sure is that it was the best thing that happened to downtown Seattle.
You see downtown Seattle was basically built at sea level. This was great for the lumber mill, but not so great for the businesses, as every high tide the toilets would flood, amongst other problems. When the city was rebuilt after the fire it was built up higher avoiding the flooding. There was also a economic boost from the jobs the reconstruction created. While there is no evidence that the fire was set deliberately, that fact that it was more blessing than curse does lead to some speculation
This also led to a Seattle having an interesting tourist attraction. The series of Underground passages and basements have come to be known as the Seattle Underground. Just think about an area like this, and then consider what must have gone on during prohibition. And do not ask my sister and I what we may or may not have done during our misspent youth. If you visit the area you can take a tour of the safer parts of this. The Seattle Underground was used as a major plot point in the TV movie The Night Strangler staring Darrin McGavin, which was a sequel to the Night Stalker.
And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Look at this and tell me that there is not a movie or HBO series just begging to be made.
For me this weird clash of uptight moralism, hedonism, profiteer and roguish behavior set the stage for the geek friendly city that I call home. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Avengers: The movie I have waited for my whole life

Sometimes when writing an article things just don’t come out the way you want.

I’ve tried three times to write about the Avengers movie. In the end what stymied me was that with it’s phenomenal success. Everyone has written about it, about the effect it will have on future Marvel movies, future comic book based movies and the careers of the creative people involved.

If you are reading this blog I am going to assume you have seen the Avengers, are going to see the Avengers, or ended up here by mistake.
So this is not going to be a review of the Avengers.
This is going to be a personal examination of how I felt watching the Avengers.
As I am sure I have stated before I grew up reading comics. As far back as I can remember my dad would read me comic books at bed time. He used comics to teach me to read. So I have been literally reading comic books all my life.
And I never thought I would get to see a movie like the Avengers.
As I was growing up, any translation of comic book heroes to live action were lack luster at best. The 70’s and 80’s had several Marvel heroes on TV, Spider-man, Hulk, Captain America and Doctor Strange. Of all of them Spider-man was the closest to making the character I grew up with.
Really the first two Superman movies were the gold standard for years.
And getting multiple heroes together in one movie, forget it.
There was one attempt in the in 1979. It was Legends of the Superheroes. It started Adam West as Batman. I think right there you can guess how bad it was.
In 1997 there was an attempt to make a Justice League TV show. It was an adaptation of the Giffen and DeMatteis run, which was already humorous. They cast David Ogden Stiers as the Martian Manhunter. Here is the result.

So I pretty much gave up on a cool team up happening.

Then Marvel decided to start making movies.

The moment Nick Fury showed up post credits in Iron Man a sense of excitement started. Could they really pull it off?
And as we have seen, the answer is yes.
As Nash Bozard of Radio Dead Air (an online show you should be watching) put it, it was the best possible Avengers movie that could be made.  
Watching it I realized that I had been waiting my whole life for this movie. It was true to the characters, it had action, it had story, and it had heart.

The bar has been raised and I for one cannot wait to see where we go from here.
Oh, and this is for you Nash