• Movies

    Picoreview: Age of Ultron

    Picoreview: Age of Ultron: We saw it twice in a row.

    We were going to ANYWAY, I mean that was our plan, we had tickets for the 10:15am 3D IMAX showing, which was as early as we could see it without going to last night’s midnight showing, and then tickets for a 3:30pm 2D showing, so basically we had time enough to go get lunch and come back to the theatre. And that’s what we were going to do ANYWAY.

    But we were also glad we did. :)

    First and most importantly, you actually *don’t* need to stay past the first teaser, because there is in fact not a second one, even though they said there wasn’t. :)

    Without going into spoiler territory, Paul Bettany is perfect as The Vision. I liked Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver quite a lot, which I had not expected to. Hawkeye had a much more substantial role in this one without anybody else feeling like they’d been shirked. Nearly everybody got some funny bits. Ultron himself was just terrific.

    I have some complaints, mind. Although I think Black Widow had very close to the leading amount of screentime, as she did in Avengers: Assemble, and despite the Scarlet Witch’s presence, it felt pretty heavily of Boys’ Club to me. There was a thread that although I liked everyone’s reaction to it, I didn’t like in and of itself. Also, there was not nearly enough half-naked Chris Hemsworth. (What? I think that’s a valid complaint! (In fact, so does Joss Whedon, apparently, as he says an awful lot of shirtless Hemsworth got left on the cutting room floor and will be in the DVD extras. :)))

    Overall, though, I thought it was pretty damn solid. It was never going to reach the astonishing joie de vivre of Avengers: Assemble, in part because–like the first X-Men movie–it wasn’t so much a matter of whether Avengers: Assemble was good as the flat-out amazing fact that it didn’t suck. If A:A was a 5, I’d give Age of Ultron a 4; if A:A was a 4, AoU is a 3.5.

  • Austen Chronicles,  Comics,  X-Men

    Downton X-Men

    Not that I need anything else to do in my Copious Free Time, but last night I wasn’t even thinking about my Downton Abbey/X-Men mashup (did I mention that? the other day I had an X-Men/Downton Abbey dream and thought, damn, that could work. WWI-era superheroes, that is, more than actually fitting Downton Abbey to the X-Men (which could also work but I don’t see getting to do that any time soon :)) and I realised I could use that world to do Evil Hat Fred’s “World War G” idea, which was a thought he once had where instead of WW2 we had a World War Gamma wherein superheroes were largely created/powered by gamma rays, a la the Incredible Hulk, as the next stage in the Downton X-Men world.

    I wish–on another comics note–that I could think of something to doodle for some kind of little web comic. I can think of a dozen ideas for a real artist, but just for me? Pssht. Nothing. Absolutely no clue.

    In things I *can* think to write, I have hit 75K on MAGIC & MANNERS, and I get to spend the weekend writing, so it’s 90K or bust by Monday.

    ytd wordcount: 26,100

  • Elfquest: Skywise & Cutter

    Elfquest: Final Quest, issue 4


    I’ll be giving the Final Quest one more issue, because it’s ElfQuest and I’ve loved it since childhood, and because there’s an *extremely* faint chance that the character they apparently killed at the end of this issue is actually dead. If they have actually killed the character off, the story becomes *much* more interesting to me…but I’m so very, very dubious that they’re really dead.

    This issue featured 20 pages of story, which is enough for one solid story thread, but not the two and a half they’re jamming into these issues. Somehow they managed to find 2 pages for letters and 6 pages for ‘preview material’ of the forthcoming Original Quest collection, so from my perspective: 20 pages of not very good story in exchange for a handful of letters and some pages I memorized as a teen instead of, say, 24 or 26 pages of more elegantly told story and a letters page. I would really, truly rather have two separate stories happening in two separate comics and only get 3 of each a year than have this half-assed crushed storytelling trying to fit 40 characters and several story arcs into 20 pages.

    Also, irrelevant to the actual storyline, I find the bits of gauzy Preserver-silks that Palace denizens are wearing to be…really cold-looking. It seems to me that at some point in the history of ElfQuest somebody commented that the Palace wasn’t especially warm (not that it was exactly *cold*, either, but that it wasn’t *warm*) and so watching Timmain walk around naked and Moonshade and Sun, uh, stream, in see-through bits just makes me think, every time I see them, “Aren’t they cold all the time?” (I mean, okay, Timmain probably not, because Timmain, but still.)

    Sigh. Anyway. One more issue, in which, if they have any sense, they will not resolve the issue of whether the character is dead or not, which may cause me to hang on for another issue or two, because it also appears they might be getting the whole gang back together next issue which may help with the fractured storytelling. Maybe. Still too many characters for not enough pages and too much story I don’t care very much about. :p

  • Comics

    A plea to Marvel

    Those of you who pay attention to this sort of thing will know that this fall, Thor’s hammer Mjolner will be taken up by a woman, who will also take on the name of Thor. Moreover, Steve Rogers is putting down the shield and Sam Wilson, recently introduced to the world at large as Falcon in the 2nd Captain America movie, will be taking it up. Wilson is a black man, not the first to carry the Captain America moniker, but I believe he’s the first person at all to do so as someone Steve chose as his own successor.

    Thor’s name is apparently being treated as a title, which I’m pretty cool with. I’m a little confused as to what we’ll be calling Thor himself, since his *name* is Thor and he’s presumably still a god, it’s just that he and Mjolner are on the outs again and it’s apparently decided he’s not worthy, but nevermind that. Marvel’s making statements left and right that the woman taking up Mjolner *is* Thor, and that’s cool and interesting and I, who have never liked comic-book-Thor, might just read that.

    Cappy’s name has been passed around several times, and as a newly-fledged (er, no pun intended) Falcon fan, I’m freaking thrilled that Sam Wilson will be the man behind the mask. I am not, apparently, violently attached to the skin color or gender of my superheroes; I *like* the idea of them being flexible.

    The only problem is that very little lasts, in superhero comics. Nobody really thinks that OriginalThor will be on the outs with Mjolner forever; everybody knows Steve will carry the shield again.

    But what if that didn’t happen? What if they held the line? What if, yeah, maybe Thor does take up Mjolner again, or Steve the shield–but it’s only momentary, filling in for an emergency? What if they were *allowed* to do that, and what if we, as readers–particularly as women or people of color–were given those characters straight-up and for the long haul?

    *That* would shake things up. *That* is what I’d really love to see. I’d love to have my cynicism proven wrong and for the status quo to change.

    But the thing is, status quo is subjective. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got divorced after 20 (real life) years of marriage, because Marvel editors wanted to return Spider-Man to the status quo–nevermind that for an entire generation of readers, Peter and MJ being married *was* the status quo.

    The problem was that it wasn’t the status quo for the editors and writers. They had grown up with an unmarried Peter and so that was how it Should Be.

    But, y’know, I grew up with an unmarried Peter (and aside from the middling detail that I wanted to marry him myself in my childhood years) and I was terribly disappointed and shocked that they divorced. So I’m hoping–I’m even asking–that Marvel lets these changes stay in place long enough to become the norm.

    And then I ask that they have the courage to recognize that for a generation, and for a gender, and for a race, that the status quo is important, and that when they change again–because they will–that they should continue to look forward with those changes, and not back.

  • Gemma Fade

    oh, how exciting!

    So I sent the edited script to Leah yesterday to have a look over, and she said “Good job, if you can find an artist who can handle the period artwork you’ll be golden” so I sent her the character sketches and she was like OH YOU’LL BE FIIIIIIIIINE, which was wonderful.

    I also sent the script to Val, who said, within minutes, “Okay, I read the script. You’ve got me. I loved it. Still lots to explain, but I want to know what happens next!” So that’s terrific and he’s already working on page layouts. *hops delightedly*!

    Oh, and he said “so how come only 8 pages?”, the answer to which is I just cannot bear to ask an artist to do 22 pages at once for absolutely no guarantee of payment. In a really ideal world what we’ll do here is post the 8 page story and a paypal button, and maybe make at least a little bit of money to spread around to the team, thereby justifying doing another 8 page story, and then a third, for a 24 page story that will have both 8-page mini-arcs and an overall 24 page arc.

    From there, I don’t know. Patreon? Kickstarter? Comixology, Image, Dynamite–somebody or something, but that’s down the road a ways. Right now–well, right now I’ve got to get those Chance pages in place for Jason to recolor. :)

    Anyway, I’m pretty happy and excited right now, as I haven’t done anything like this in years and it’s great fun to be involved in this kind of collaborative process. Yay!

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