Fanboy News Network Episode 54

“Too much time on his hands”

Daniel returns from his epic road trip, so he and Jeff get back into the swing of things.

The question of weapons at conventions brought on by the incident at Phoenix comicon.

The lawsuit over the use of the name comic-con.

Jeff gives his impression of the films Wonder Woman, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

The boys talk about the trailers for Black Panther, Jamanji, Thor: Ragnarok, and the Defenders.

Jeff talks about shows he caught up on recently, Riverdale, Lucifer and American Gods. Daniel sings the praises of Wynonna Earp.

How Diamond Distributing is slowing choking the comics industry.

The difference between how Marvel and DC think they are innovating comics, and how they are both failing at leveraging the success of the movies to drive book sales.

Jeff talks about PodCon, a podcasting convention in Seattle in December.

The unique position Welcome to Night Vale holds amongst narrative podcasts.

What the boys are currently reading.

Fanboy News Network Episode 48

“Send in the Clowns”

A quick discussion of scary clowns because why not.

Jeff talks about going to see Puddles Pity Party on Halloween.

Daniel tells about performing in the rock opera “Rite of Jupiter”

Another look at large convention growth patterns.

Daniel talks about his mother’s plan to attend Emerald City Comicon with him next year.

Why Daniel will not go see Doctor Strange but is looking forward to Moana.

Just talks about going to go see Mad Max: Fury Road Black and Chrome edition.

Jeff talks about seeing Lights Out.

Daniel talks about his love of the movie Hero starring Jet Li.

The release of the new Wonder Woman trailer.

Traditional vs Non-traditional media.

The strength of representation in geek media.

A quick state of comic book tv shows.

Why Jeff is glad he never got into Walking Dead.

on to Books where Jeff read Imprudence and Daniel talks about the Everything Box.

Fanboy News Network Episode 1

Fanboy logoThe First Episode of The Fanboy News Network Podcast

Trigger Warning: This episode will discuss a sexual assault at the end.

This episode Jeff goes over recent news in geek culture.

The Casting of Wonder Woman in the Superman/Batman movie.

Subscribers not getting issue #27 of DC Comics.

DC’s success with the TB series Arrow.

The events surrounding the alleged sexual assault at Aki Con in Seattle.

Saving Lois Lane

Lois Lane.

Everyone recognizes that name.  She is not just a geek icon, she is a cultural icon. You go up to any random person on the street and they recognize her name. Everyone knows she is the plucky reporter that is also Superman’s love interest.  Everyone knows that she and Clark Kent belong together.

Yes in the early days of comics she was often there so that Superman had someone to rescue, but as the medium evolved so did she. In modern lore she is a strong independent woman who is able to meet Clark as an equal and partner. She is also strong enough to give him support when the going got tough, and act as his anchor to humanity.

Well at least she was. All of the above was true until last year when DC Comics relaunched their universe with the New 52.

Now Lois Lane is barely in the books anymore, and her relationship with Clark is not a partnership of any kind. In fact she is not even a reporter anymore, she has been bumped up to a TV Producer at a news network.  And her journalistic ethics, which have always been a core of the character, have been eroded.

As for the romantic front, early issues in the reboot showed that Clark had feelings for her, but that not only did she not return those feelings, she was not aware of them. Also she has a boyfriend. He has only appeared in about five panels but he exists.

As one of the most recognizable characters in comics, and the most recognizable character in the Superman franchise outside of Clark himself it seems odd that she has not appeared on a single comic book cover since the relaunch.

So what is going on? Why is one of the core characters of one of the world’s most famous franchises being pushed aside and minimalized?

A lot of speculation about that has been going on, but the consensus comes down to this; DC wants to push Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple.

I know I went over this back in August when I was going over the news of the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing and how it felt forced. What I have learned since is that this was apparently part of the plan from early on and to help facilitate this, the feeling was that Lois needed to be diminished so that she would not appear to be in the way of this relationship.

DC also seems to be getting desperate in their attempts to promote the Superman/ Wonder Woman coupling. In the last few weeks it has been the focus of many polls and features on the DC comics’ blog and Facebook page. It is beginning to have the feel of “You will like this if we have to ram it down your throat.”

This part is just speculation. It is hard to say how long the Superman/Wonder woman relationship was being planned. It still feels like an executive mandate, and in the last few months DC has been known to change plans suddenly requiring rushed updates of issues.

But the diminishing of Lois does appear to be a thing either way.

But how sure are we of this. DC has said nothing explicit on any of this. This is where a bit of good old fashion fanboy detective work comes in.

First we have to look at the comments from the creative staff. The ones that I think back up the point the hardest to this are comments that have been made by Superman group editor Matt Idelson.

Back at San Diego Comic Con in 2011, when the relaunch details were being announced, Idelson referred to Lois as Superman’s “trophy wife” when explaining that the marriage between that two was no longer part of continuity.

Last August he made an even more definite statement on his opinion of Clark and Lois as a couple.

“Clark and Lois are not inevitable, and in fact it isn’t going to happen, at least while I’m on watch duty!”

He later had to walk those comments back; I’m sure due to fan backlash.

“Clark most definitely has feelings for Lois, but he not only sees her as unattainable but also unavailable. I’d much rather see the readers pining for them to couple up, with growing intensity, until we have no choice but make that magic moment happen. And in truth, I engaged in some ill-advised hyperbole there when I said they wouldn’t get together on my watch. I miss them as a couple, I really do, but I also know that good drama comes from complicating the path that leads to the happily forever after ending. My hope is that ultimately, we’ll all look back twenty years from now and see that without Lois in his life, that human representation is something he had to grow towards, and that the absence of Lois in his romantic life held him back.”

Idelson while the highest ranking member of the creative staff to comment, was hardly the only one.

Artist Rags Morales stated that Superman sucked since he got married and he considered it jumping the shark. He also said that Lois worked better as a Damsel in Distress and a pain in the ass.

Publisher Jim Lee had compared the phasing out of Lois as no different than changing the size of Superman’s cape.

Writer Andy Diggle has stated on twitter that he feels Wonder Woman and Superman make a better couple than Lois and Clark.

Also if you look at any promotional material and you will not find any mention of Lois.

And just for comparison let’s take a quick look at another long time supporting character, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy is still fairly active in the books; in fact right now he and Clark are roommates. I won’t go into details why, but it does allow for some fun keeping the identity secret scenes. So Jimmy is in the books about as much as he used to be.

So it seems clear that reducing her role was always the plan. They couldn’t just make her go away like Wally West or Stephanie Brown, so they did the next best thing and made her a side character.

This brings up an interesting issue for next year. The new Superman movie Man of Steel is coming out. Lois Lane will be featured in it, played by Amy Adams. I assume she will be in her traditional role in this movie. For a company so interested in synergy between its divisions I am curious how Warner Bros will address this and in turn how the comics will deal with it.

In the meantime as a fan I am not pleased with these developments. Lois was a great character because she could be strong and brave in a superhero world even though she did not have superpowers. I feel her downsizing is taking away another role model character and not helping in the perceived boys club mentality of the industry overall. As a fan I want to do what I can to let DC know we do not want to lose her or see her as just a shadow of her former self.

So here is what I purpose. I would like to see a hashtag start making the rounds on twitter and tumblr; #savelois. If it can start trending maybe it will get enough attention that DC will know she has fans that are not happy with her current treatment.

So let’s see what we can do.

Another Wonder Woman Pilot

Here we go again with another Wonder Woman pilot.

CW, being a subsidiary of Warner Bros. has a long track record of bringing DC comics’ properties to the TV, or at least trying to. Obviously they had the 10 year run of Smallville and the 13 episode long Birds of Prey series. They produced a pilot for an Aquaman series. There were proposals for a show about teen titian member Raven and about the Grayson family before Dick became Robin that never got past the proposal stage. And of course you have the current series Arrow.

I’ll be honest, I am really apprehensive about the announced Wonder Woman pilot. It shares several traits from the other shows and pitches mentioned above that I think are not workable. On the other hand I had doubts about Arrow too and I have ended up liking that series.

Basically CW has some habits when it comes to DC shows that I am convinced are just there to annoy long time comic fans.

The first is that they seem to think that the best way to go is with a series that functions as a prequel to the comics, with Arrow and Birds of Prey being the exceptions. This started with the original pitch they made over a decade ago, a series that was going to be titled Bruce Wayne, detailing Bruce’s life between his return to Gotham City at 18 and becoming Batman. The reason the series did not get past script stage was that the WB movie division also wanted to explore Bruce’s development into Batman, which ultimately resulted in Batman Begins. On that point let’s go ahead and say that this turned out for the best.

So when Bruce Wayne was shut down they turned around and created Smallville. And as I have said before, at first this was not bad, but it went on too long and stretched the premise beyond the breaking point.

The Aquaman pilot used the exact same idea, only with Arthur Curry. I remember liking it when I first saw it, but in retrospect I think it would have ended up a weak premise for the same reasons that Smallville did not work long term.

The Graysons was just baffling as a pitch. Following Robin’s family and their adventures prior to their murder and Dick’s being taken in by Bruce. This would basically be a series where we know that it will end with the murder of the main characters. Also if we go with the general idea that Dick becomes Robin around 13 than the age you have him at the beginning of the series would set the lifespan of the show. All this of course assumes you intend to remain faithful to the comics, which Smallville showed was not necessarily going to happen.

We now add Wonder Woman to that list, as the pitch is literally the same as Smallville, but with Diana coming to America and I guess learning what it means to be a hero.

Another issue with DC shows on the CW is the names. I think the only show that got to keep its title from the comic was Birds of Prey. Besides Smallville and Bruce Wayne, You had the Aquaman show being called Mercy Reef, Green Arrow became Arrow, and now Wonder Woman’s show will be called Amazon. I assume this is a marketing issue with the film division in case they want to develop a movie using the characters, but it does seem like they are running from the franchises they want to develop.

So here is my main issue with the new stab at a Wonder Woman series. They are using a format that fans are going to be apprehensive about. The whole “Diana before she was Wonder Woman” is at best only sustainable short term. If they are going that route I hope they do not take the “no flight, no tights” mandate that ultimately hamstrung Smallville.

I think if they are going to do this they make it the arc for the first season, with the finale having her become Wonder Woman. From second season on have it be like Arrow, the beginnings of her career.

Do I see that happening? No I do not. I’m afraid they will get locked down into the prequel mode like Smallville and the problems that it brings.

On the other hand if they manage to stay true to the characters roots and persona maybe it will be worthwhile, or at least wipe out the bad taste left by the last Wonder Woman Pilot.

Two things I want to address real quick before I wrap up.

First, the whole Iris thing, where a casting sheet was released stating that the character’s name is Iris along with other back story alterations. This is a not uncommon practice when casting for a very well-known character. It is done in hopes of getting an audition that is not just an attempt to fill the preconceived notions about the character. Rest assured her name will be Diana in the series as has been confirmed by Geoff Johns.

The other is the Justice League movie. Obviously it is being developed and there is a general assumption that Wonder Woman will be in it. How will that work? Good question, and there are a lot of ways to do it. One is they just assume that audiences can deal with two different version of the character at once like when Superman Returns came out during Smallville’s run. Another is that they do not include Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie. This all of course assumes that Amazon makes it past pilot stage.

So there we have it. Let’s hope that DC can give their most iconic female character the adaptation she deserves.

DC Comics: More reasons for concern.

Dear DC Comics,

Why is it that when I am planning a nice well thought out article that you must have a week with news I cannot just ignore?

Take for example this week. First there is news that Superman and Wonder Woman are going to be an official couple. That alone would require at least a mention.

But no, you have to follow it up with the news that Rob Liefeld has suddenly left your employ, and in a manner so close to the recent issue with George Perez that I cannot look away.

So here we go again.

First I want to take a look at the Liefeld situation. Rob Liefeld has become something of a joke amongst fans. His art style is off putting to most due to his odd ideas on how human anatomy works and his complete inability to draw feet. His writing style is also often under assault due to a lack of concern to character motivation or internal story continuity.

With that said Rob still gets a lot of work in the industry. From all reports this comes in part from being one of the honestly nicest people in the business. Although the back and forth happening on twitter this week may disprove that last one.

So I’m sure a lot of people were surprised when he announced his leaving DC comics despite being the writer on Hawkman, Grifter, and Deathstroke. His reasoning mirrors the reasons that George Perez gave back in June as to why he left Superman. Rob sites editorial incision, drastic last minute changes, and what he describes as “editor pissing contests” as his reasons for leaving.

This makes Rob the second high profile talent to leave the company for these reasons.

And while it may not seem like much of a segue this leads us to the pairing of Wonder Woman and Superman.

Let’s face it, this just reeks of being an executive “suggestion”

To be honest this is hardly the first time that the idea of a Superman/Wonder Woman pairing has been floated. I can name three different out of continuity stories DC Comics published that explored this idea. Kingdom Come, Justice League: Act of God, and Superman: Distant Fires.  Of course only the first of those was any good.

In continuity the idea was toyed with a couple of times. When John Byrne was writing Superman and George Perez was writing Wonder Woman during the early days of the post Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot you had the Man of Steel attempting to get a date with the Amazon Princess. She was not very receptive to the idea. They ended up on one date and by the end it was clear to Clark that she just wasn’t that in to him.

A couple of decades passed and thanks to actual character development Clark Kent actually had a relationship with Lois Lane that progressed to marriage. However poor Diana discovered that maybe she was a bit more interested then she first let on. Clark being the very role model of good behavior didn’t even consider cheating on Lois, not that Diana was suggesting that, more bemoaning the lost opportunity. Somewhere in there was also the idea that she might be attracted to Bruce Wayne as well. It got a little odd at times.

The point is that at no time was there ever any serious consideration that Superman and Wonder Woman would get together in the main continuity.

Then we had the reboot last year. Due to that, now you have a Lois and Clark that not only are not married, but have never dated and Lois is living with some other guy.  In fact in seems that the reboot was very anti-marriage as they did nearly the same thing to the Flash, even though his marriage was more or less the canon.

Oh and Steve Trevor is in love with Wonder Woman, but it is an unrequited love.

So this leaves the door open to a Clark/Diana hookup.

My problem is that it just doesn’t feel like a natural outgrowth of the storytelling that has been going on. In fact I would go so far as to say it is pure fan service designed to grab headlines.

In the Superman books Clark is clearly in love with Lois, but she is trying to set him up with her sister Lucy. This pairing seems to at least be a possibility, if for rom-com level antics if nothing else.

I’ve dropped the Wonder Woman main title, but when I was reading it there were no romantic plots of any kind being explored.

In the book they both appear in, Justice League, there is a romantic subplot, but it is the one I mentioned earlier involving Diana and Steve Trevor.

So I strongly suspect that this was a mandate from on high to capitalize on the publicity potential with no sight on the actual storytelling.

This is my biggest complaint about the current direction of DC comics. It feels like the bean counters are running the ship and making some really bad story telling decisions based on market analysis.

Time will tell.

Next week it will be one year since the reboot. I’ll be looking at how I feel about the individual titles. See you then.

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.

Emerald City Comicon Day One

Quick overview of Day one of Emerald City Comicon.
First up, the panels.
I attended the Women of Webseries panel. It was definitely what the title suggested, local women working on producing, writing, directing, and staring in webseries. I got some good ideas for the projects I want to work on and a lot of inspiration.
DC All Access panel was next. You would think that a panel at a comic convention that is the news panel for one of the big two it would be kick ass. No such luck. The pros on the panel did some quick shilling of their upcoming projects. When it got to question and answer time that was a lot of deflection. One question asked about the status of Wally West and Donna Troy in the new 52 DCU, the answer was to make a joke and then ask the audience if they would like to win a prize for answering a trivia question.
The next panel was about the history of Wonder Woman for an academic and psychological perspective. The speaker was a tenured professor at Oregon State University for teaches minors program on comic book studies. He was awesome. And as much as I have researched at lot of the same history he covered I still learned some new stuff.
I wanted to get into a panel featuring noted voice actors but it was too full a room.
Next is the dealer floor.
This year has a good mix of comic shops, convention dealers, comic companies, artists and everything else you would expect. Due to the show still growing, this year the gaming based dealers were moved to a new area. It’s a bit of a walk to get there, but it is nice to see the growth.
My wife is a vendor this year and that fact lead to my most awesome moment of the day. She makes gaming dice shaped soap. I took a set to Randy Milholland, the creator of Something Positive. When I gave them to him his face lit up, and he had to show his booth mate Danielle Corsetto, creator of Girls with Slingshots. Mission accomplished and he gave me a sketch and print in return.
Cosplay
So I have decided to keep score of the characters people cosplay as this year. Basically if I see at least two people as a character I start keeping track. I will declare a daily winner and an overall convention winner. Here are today’s scores.
·         Doctor Who: 8 Today’s winner
·         Captain America: 6
·         Harley Quinn: 5
·         Batman: 4
·         Poison Ivy: 4
·         The TARDIS: 4
·         Robin: 3
·         Black Canary: 3
·         Superman: 3
·         Batgirl: 3
·         Green Lantern: 2
·         Catwoman: 2
·         Supergirl: 2
·         Spider Man:2
·         Doctor Horrible:2
·         Captain Hammer: 2
·         Death from Sandman: 2
·         Dalek: 2
·         Red Power Ranger: 2
·         Riddler: 2
·         Green Hornet: 2
See you tomorrow for the next update.

Wondering about Wonder Woman

It’s month three of the DC relaunch and sadly one of the books I have been getting is on the chopping block. That book is Wonder Woman.
The buzz right now is about the fact that in the new timeline it has been revealed that Zeus is her father. That has nothing to do with my problem with the title.
My issue is that they have made her uncaring.
Her attitude to the woman she is trying to save in the storyline is borderline abusive. She seems to be more bloodthirsty and does not appear to get along with the other Amazons. It’s like they gave her the personality of the Huntress
Batman is being portrayed as being more compassionate right now.
I think this is the latest expression of a problem Wonder Woman has had since the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot in the mid-eighties. Every writer who comes on to the character sits down to figure out who she is and what her place in the DCU is. That would be fine, except they then make that exploration the whole point of the series.
And is that really necessary?
In 1941 William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman. He saw a comic book market saturated with male characters and wanted to create the ideal female hero, one that would overcome her foes not only with her fighting prowess and powers, but also her heart. She was a heroine who could be a role model for young women.
Yes he did include Greek mythology in the origin, and yes do to his unconventional life style there was some unique philosophy and a lot of bondage. But in the end it was about a strong, caring female hero.
Is that so hard now?
Let’s stop trying to figure out her symbolic place in the DCU. Let’s stop exploring her mythological roots. Let’s tone down the examination of the Amazon culture.
Just get back to the strong, caring heroine who goes out and fights the bad guys. Get back to the role model.
I’ll give the book another issue or two, but I’m not hopeful. But maybe someday a writer will be inspired to go back to Wonder Woman’s true roots.

DC Comics Relaunch: Fairwell to the old DCU

With last week’s release of Flashpoint we have seen the end of the old DC universe. I can’t really comment on the New DC Universe yet as the only book out is Justice League. So let’s look at how the DCU of old ended.
Remember that we only heard about this change back in June. At that time the DCU was chugging along and none of us knew the end was nigh. What I wonder about is how many creators had advanced knowledge.
Zantanna was a title that was still relatively new with issue #16 being the final issue. During its run there was the set-up of a new mystic villain Brother Night and a new love interest Dale Colton. At around issue 12 the series was I would say midway through the Brother Night arc. I assume the plan was to go on with this story for a while.
Then we get the relaunch. Rather than accelerate the arc, the writers ignored it, Brother Night and Dale. The last issues of Zatanna were all stand-alone stories. To be fair they were good stories, but they did nothing to resolve the hanging plot threads of the series.
Zatanna will still be in the new DCU. She is a member of Justice League Dark. Maybe these threads will be picked up there, but I personally doubt it.
Wonder Woman was different in that the story already was dealing with an altered timeline. In this case the final issue resolved the storyline restoring Wonder Woman to her proper self. In a nod to the coming change Wonder Woman herself said she felt another change was coming. At least in this case there were no major plot threads left hanging.
This leaves the final story of the old DCU, Flashpoint.
Here is a case where I wanted to like this story, but in the end it just left me a bit cold.
Had this been just a simple Flash story line I would have been fine with it. But it isn’t, it is the catalyst for the new DCU.
When DC did its first major reboot in 1985 with Crisis on Infinite Earths it was a story on a grand scale. It incorporated the majority of the characters in the universe, was played on a cosmic scale and took place over the course of a year. Basically DC earned the reboot.
With Flashpoint it was in the end a Flash story dealing with time travel. While it could be argued that it dealt with major characters of the DCU, they were in unrecognizable forms, with half the heroes being turned into villains.  None of the mini-series that went along with Flashpoint have any apparent impact on what is to come and were really nothing more than a sales ploy. Some of them were good stories, but they do not add to the relaunch in any way that I can see.
The whole thing leaves me with the feeling that this is reboot feels soft and that at any moment the powers that be at DC (Dido, Lee and Johns) can say “Ok, done with that, fix the timeline and return the DC Universe to normal.”
So in the end the DCU went out not with a bang, but a whimper.