Comics

Bendis launches Spider-Man with a bang: Miles a fun read in opener

SpiderMan Miles

Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man, featuring Miles Morales, finally hit stores this week. The event was an opportunity to sell readers like yours truly — a guy who never gave Marvel’s Ultimate Comics the time of day — on the character. The good news: It seems like it will be a really fun book. The bad news (at least for die-hard Peter Parker fans): This may be the Spider-Man you want to add to your pull list if you’re short on cash.

Blackheart

Bendis had certain notes that he had to hit in this issue for individuals who know nothing about Miles Morales.

  • Is he believable as a modern teenager? Yes.
  • Is he likable? Yes.
  • Are his interactions with his parents authentic? Yes.
  • Are his interactions with his peers authentic? Yes.
  • Are his interactions with authority figures in his life (e.g., teachers) authentic? Yes.
  • Does he seem like a version of Spider-Man I’d like to read about regularly? Yes.

Miles Morales

Fun fact: When I was a high-school kid I had a habit of not doing my homework. I used to go up into my room and read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and write short stories instead of doing my math homework. I watched movies with my girlfriend. I played basketball with my friends. And then, just like Miles, my mom asked me if I was on drugs.

While it would have been a better story if I was solving crime as Spider-Man, the underlying point is that kids often prioritize their lives differently than their parents would like — no matter how well the parents do their job — and “Are you on drugs?” is on the checklist of questions when they have no idea what’s going on.

These are the little things writers — good writers — need to know in order to convince new readers to plunk down $4.00 each month. Note to certain writers on The Amazing Spider-Man: It is possible to craft an exciting story that also includes character development. It’s a shocker, I know, but it’s true.

Long story short, if you want to see a day in the life of Miles Morales, which just so happens to involve ditching school to take on Blackheart and explaining to his parents why his grades are suffering, Bendis delivers the goods.

Finally, it should be noted that Sara Pichelli’s artwork a pleasing to the eye as well. There really is a depth and breadth to her work that is impressive. Whether Miles is sitting on a bench discussing life with his friend Ganke, trying to placate his angry parents, or taking on a demon who just leveled The Avengers, each situation is exquisitely crafted. One could argue that if all the dialogue were stripped from the book it would still be worth the cover price. If Pichelli has never done work as a Hollywood storyboard artist, then she may want to look into it.

Spider-Man is a worthy read. As long as Bendis does not get weirdly political on a regular basis, there is a high probability that I will continue to purchase the book going forward.

 

Comics, The Kitchen Sink

Dan Slott’s lesson for Peter Parker: Don’t hire women

ASM Scorpio

At some point in time fans of The Amazing Spider-Man have to wonder if writer Dan Slott has a thing against women. Every woman Peter Parker brings into his inner circle at his company seems intent on destroying the operation. A similar conversation can be had on Silk and her embarrassing sex-pheromones, but I digress.

The seventh issue of ASM moves the plot along as it is revealed Mr. Negative wants to take down “China’s favorite son, Shen Quinghao” by having Peter slip him the designer drug Shade. Luckily, the villain’s “corrupting touch” only works once, so he is unaware that when he previously took control of Spider-Man during Dark Reign: Mister Negative Miniseries, he lost his chance to do the same to Peter moving forward.

The real reveal of ASM #7, however, is that once again another woman is actively trying to sabotage Parker Industries.

Let’s look at the history:

  • Anna Maria Marconi went behind Peter’s back with Sanjani on Doc Ock’s nano-technology project.
  • Sanjani tried to strike a deal with The Ghost — a corporate saboteur — to wreck Peter’s top projects “beyond repair.”
  • Lien Tang, who is “very close” with Peter and feeds him dumplings on the roof of Parker Industries, never told him her mother was sick with cancer. Instead of telling him while they were “close” one night, she decides to work with an international terrorist organization. The Zodiac gives her experimental treatments in exchange for sensitive information.

Peter Parker Sajani

The problem with the whole set-up is that Lien has barely made any appearances. Readers were told she and Peter were “close,” but yet none of it was shown in the actual book. No one cared about their relationship — or her character in general — and yet they’re supposed to be floored by her betrayal. The scene falls flat because Dan Slott never put in the work to credibly establish her character. It’s a repeat performance of Sanjani’s fall from grace. She couldn’t “fall” because she never had a pedestal to stand on to begin with.

ASM Normie

Two other scenes worth mentioning are the return of Regent — one of the few low points of Renew Your Vows — and Dan Slott’s continued insertion of the the perfect technology for any jam Peter finds himself in.

Last issue it was Quick-drying web-cement webbing and Acid-webbing. Now it’s “Micro Spider-Tracers.” Before that it was a Spider-plane that shot non-lethal web rounds, a Spider-submarine, and a handy-dandy Spider anti-toxin.

Question: At what point in time will fans be introduced to the Spider-Tank, and when will Peter introduce the Single Cell Spider-tracer?

If these are the ASM stories you’re looking for, then more power to you. However, one still can’t help but wonder: Where is all the feminist rage over the way Dan Slott writes female characters?

ASM mini tracer

Comics

Marvel CEO donates to charity, social justice babies cry over Trump link

G Willow Wilson
Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson believes company CEO Ike Perlmutter’s donation to a veterans charity linked with Donald Trump “raises more questions than answers.” Translation: I won’t put my money where my activist-mouth is because I like getting a paycheck.

If a man wants to know just how sad and bizarre the social justice crowd is, then he only needs to look at the reaction over Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter’s $1 million donation to Donald Trump’s recent fundraiser for veterans. Yes, we’ve now reached a point where charitable donations now cause all sorts of hand-wringing among liberal kids over at Vox, Comic Book Resources, The Mary Sue and a whole host of other websites.

The Hollywood Reporter got the ball rolling Jan. 28:

During the event, Trump made note that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter and his wife, Laura, will donate $1 million to the fundraiser.

“One of the great, great men of our country in terms of business and talent,” Trump said.

A rep for Perlmutter said: “The Perlmutters are thrilled to support their friend Donald Trump in his efforts to help veterans.”

The Perlmutters also donated $2 million to Marco Rubio’s campaign this season.

Writer G. Willow Wilson was publicly lamenting the news by Friday in her Tumblr feed:

Under normal circumstances, a CEO making a generous donation to aid American veterans would be laudable–and probably not newsworthy in and of itself. But given the concerns raised over the questionable way in which The Donald has solicited donations, and the fact that several major veterans groups have rejected his money, a lot of people have been left wondering: was this really a donation to benefit veterans? Or was it a donation to benefit Donald Trump? And if it was the latter, what does that mean for fans of Marvel comics? Did the money come out of Perlmutter’s private fortune, or did some portion of what you spent on your Marvel pull list support a political candidate who wants to deport millions of immigrants, build a wall along the Mexican border and require religious minorities to carry ID badges?

I have no easy answers to these questions. In an ordinary election cycle, I’d say that when the CEO of an entertainment company supports a conservative candidate while also fostering diverse creative talent within his company, it is a sign of a healthy democracy. Being a Republican is not a crime. However, this is not an ordinary election cycle, and Trump is not an ordinary Republican. The irony that Ms Marvel was launched on Perlmutter’s watch–while Donald Trump would like to prevent Muslims from even entering the United States–was not lost on the mainstream media, nor on me.

Rather fortuitously, I’m down in California on Marvel-related business at the moment, so I had the opportunity to talk all of this over in depth with a bunch of people who have been at the company a long time, and whose opinions I value. But after we talked, I found myself with more questions than answers. Can we separate a CEO from the company he runs, or the company from the creators, or the creators from the art? Should we?

Years ago the G. Willow Wilsons of the world were weirdly boycotting chicken sandwiches because the openly-Christian CEO of Chick-Fil-A held a definition of marriage that (gasp!) adhered to his Christian faith.

Today, writers like Ms. Wilson find themselves distraught because a hands-off CEO who lets them randomly turn Iceman gay and Thor into a woman happened to give to a veterans charity linked to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump wants to deport illegal immigrants. Donald Trump wants to easily identify refugees from the Middle East and North Africa because the men have this weird habit where they get together in groups and rape women.

No matter what one thinks of Trump’s delivery of the message, at the end of the day it has nothing to do with charitable donations that go to wounded veterans.

It is rather telling that an activist-writer like Ms. Wilson suddenly has “more questions than answers” when it comes time to putting her money where her mouth is. She won’t bite the hand that feeds because to do so would mean the end of a steady paycheck.

If I found out tomorrow that Mr. Perlmutter gave $1 million to a veterans charity started by Bernie Sanders, then I would not call for the man to be fired. I would think it was weird that he didn’t go through Wounded Warriors or countless other reputable organizations, but I wouldn’t wail and moan about what it means about “the creators or the art.”

Ms. Wilson says “being a Republican is not a crime,” but the reaction by she and her followers makes it clear that being a Republican is certainly a mind crime to social justice stormtroopers. 

A man is being called on to step down from his job because he donated to a veterans charity. This is where we’re at today, and the people who scream the loudest about Donald Trump’s rhetoric do not even have the self-awareness to see that they are his mirror image.

Editor’s Note: Check out Hube’s take over at Colossus of Rhodey.

Hollywood, Motivational, The Kitchen Sink

Chris Pratt 100% right on success: ‘Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes’

 

Chris Pratt Instagram

It’s not often that a Hollywood actor talks about the recipe for professional success — and nails it. Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt took to Instagram on Jan. 27 and did just that.

prattprattpratt It’s 3:20am. I got picked up for work at 6:45am yesterday. I’m not good with math, especially after being up for approximately 61 hours but I think I’ve been up for over 77 hours. I did a table read for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 this morning and then shot all day on Passengers and just now wrapped some 144 hours later. Weirdly both films, which iI’l be shooting back to back, are being shot in Atlanta at Pinewood studios. We have the best crew. Total rock stars busting their asses. And the stuff we’re shooting. My God. I can’t wait for you to see it. I go back in in about 8 hours to do more.

I am doing what I love. It doesn’t feel like work. Even though it is. I’m having fun. I’m overcome with joy and gratitude. I felt like posting this to say to anyone out there chasing your dream… Fifteen years ago I felt the same passion I feel today, but I had very little opportunity. I had to hustle hard and go hungry. I had to eat sardines and figure out how to get gas money. And I never had a plan B. I never stopped believing. Ever. Don’t give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it.

Mr. Pratt is 100% right. To prove it, I will share just one example from my own life that testifies to the authenticity of his claim.

Roughly 15 years ago I not long removed from the U.S. Army and on my way to USC. I used to read The Drudge Report and think how cool it would be to one day write something that garnered one of his top headlines.

This past Tuesday I wrote a piece for work and once again experienced that unique feeling that only happens when a dream others call crazy becomes a reality.
Hillary Drudge Doug

In the 15 years between dreaming about landing a bullseye Drudge hit and actually doing so, there were three roach-filled apartments, stretches were I was literally licking Chipotle burrito bowls clean because I was so low on cash I didn’t want to waste a calorie, and a temporary “mattress” made of my own clothes on a hardwood floor in Washington, D.C.

One section of Mr. Pratt’s message in particular hit home with me: “Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do.”

That comment echoes something I have told my wife for years. I have always said that with enough time and pressure, we all have the ability to bend reality to our will. 

There are many factors that affect how quickly one manifests a particular dream (which I would be happy to discuss in the comments section), but the following is a blueprint that has worked extremely well for me over the years.

  • Faith in God — and prayer.
  • A clear vision for what you seek to attain.
  • Belief in the core of your being that you will achieve your goals.
  • A commitment to honesty, integrity, hard work, and humility.

One simply cannot go wrong if he or she follows those bullet points. It is a breath of fresh air to see a well-known actor who gets it, and for that Mr. Pratt has earned a large amount of good will with this writer.

I look forward to seeing both Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Passengers in theaters.

Culture, Religion

Media’s next goal: Sell public on non-monogamous marriages

It was just this past summer that NY Mag contributor “Michael Sonomore” attempted to make the case for “open marriages.” Tech Insider has now jumped on a new study by Journal of Marriage and Family to basically say, “Hey, did you and your spouse ever think of becoming a swinger? Maybe you should.”

First the goal of popular culture was to divorce the definition of marriage from Christianity. Then the goal was to strip people of the idea that the union between one man and one woman is so integral to building a healthy civil society that it should be cherished with its own institution. Sometimes sociologists describe marriage without ever using the world “love,” and now it’s essentially “marriage means whatever we say it means,” (i.e., it means nothing).

“Marital Monogamy as Ideal and Practice: The Detraditionalization Thesis in Contemporary Marriages” includes the results of surveying 90 Canadians who were questioned on monogamy and marriage. Researchers spoke with 26 heterosexual females, 21 heterosexual males, 21 gay males, and 22 lesbians. Most of the couples were relatively young.

Tech Insider reported Wednesday:

“Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that another big change is happening in how people think about marriage: Some no longer consider monogamy an absolute essential. …

The first questions the couples answered revealed that people are becoming more open to the idea of non-monogamous marriages. Less than half of all the heterosexual female respondents, about one-third of the heterosexual male respondents, and “relatively few” homosexual couples felt that marriage and monogamy were inseparable, the researchers concluded.

Most people interviewed thought that monogamy isn’t something that a marriage necessarily requires. As one participant explained:

‘I’ll say that it’s different for everyone … and you have to find what works for you … [maybe] you’re committed to each other and you’re married but then you guys decide every Friday night we’re going to swinger parties and that’s what we want to do, and that excitement is what brings us together, then awesome. But is it going to be for me? No. Am I going to say, you can’t do it? No.'”

Where is this idea coming from? We know the New York Times has been exploring it since at least 2011:

Although best known for his It Gets Better project, an archive of hopeful videos aimed at troubled gay youth, [Gay-rights activist Dan] Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.

What does it say about a culture when a growing number of couples see nothing wrong with taking other human beings, objectifying them, and then using them as nothing more than masturbatory devices?

Popular culture does not promote loving relationships — it promotes lusting relationships.

The spiritual fulfillment that comes when two adults have a proper understanding of marriage — and then they put in the effort to realize its potential — is unmatched. It takes patience, perseverance, humility, selfless sacrifice and a whole host of other virtues to arrive at the final destination, which is why “pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements” are peddled to the public instead.

Is it easier to act like an animal or act like an angel? The answer is self-evident.

Yes, it may bring “excitement” to act like a beast on occasion, but marriage was never meant to bring two beasts together. Marriage unites human souls, which is why perverting marriage’s proper definition and function is a travesty.

Here is what the modern American male is up against: On every level — physical, mental, and spiritual — there are forces at work to turn him into glorified cattle.

On the physical level he is encouraged to embrace sloth and gluttony; on the mental level he is encouraged to become a servant of the state; and on the spiritual level he is encouraged to become a libidinous pig who drags his wife into the muck.

True happiness can be found, but the path does not begin by taking directions from the purveyors of moral relativism.

Comics

Iron Fist Netflix casting gives ulcers to race-obsessed fans

 

Iron Fist

Marvel and Netflix are finally gearing up to get an Iron Fist series in the works after already having success with Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Iron Fist is different, however, because race-obsessed fans are already having ulcers over whether Danny Rand will be white (as he is in the comics), or Asian (because diversity!)

What makes the Iron Fist debate so great is that it showcases something that has been said on this blog repeatedly: The “social justice” crowd is never happy. Even attempts to appease them can be turned into an excuse to whine about a whole new set of issues.

If Iron Fist is white, then it’s a blow for diversity for diversity’s sake. If Iron Fist is Asian, then Marvel is somehow insulting Asians because he is a martial artist. Dealing with progressive entertainment fans is like willingly entering into a hellish Catch 22 Twilight Zone.

Vox reported (or was that Vox lamented?) Jan. 20:

On paper, Iron Fist’s origin story and the names, places, and symbolism associated with the character make him sound like a prominent Asian-American hero in the Marvel comic universe.

Instead, he’s a blond, green-eyed man named Danny Rand. And now there’s a movement to rewrite his comic book portrayal and make him Asian American when the character lands on Netflix in 2016. …

The fundamental thing to understand about Iron Fist is that he’s a conceptually flawed character; his origin story presents him as both a “white savior” and a “best Asian” figure. He’s a blond boy who travels to a pseudo-Asian land, where he trains as a martial artist and becomes the best fighter among an entire society of Asian people — so good that he takes down the baddest bad guys. There’s no reason why an Asian man or woman from K’un-L’un, someone who’s trained her whole life, couldn’t do what he does. Yet it’s the white Danny Rand who saves the day.

Next we have Albert Ching, managing editor at CBR, who wrote Dec. 9:

“[H]e’s defined by martial arts much more than other superheroes who just happen to use martial arts — and it’s problematic if that’s the first lead white comics character to be readily accepted on screen as played by an Asian-American.

The simple and most reasonable thing to do is to cast the role in a way that honors the source material. If for some reason Marvel cannot find a strong white actor who can actually meet the physical demands of the role, then producers should go with any American male who does. Danny Rand is an American at the end of the day, so good acting and solid martial arts skills should trump source-material race for this character.

Sounds logical, right? Not to the “social justice” crowd. They act as if they are in a constant struggle to understand racial formulas more complex than college-level calculus. Every solution poses another problem. Race is like an irrational number, where the never-ending string of decimals is represented with an infinite number of complaints.

If you want to give yourself ulcers fretting about “white saviors” and “best Asian figures,” then head on over to your favorite progressive website. If you want honest reviews that primarily focus on the craft of storytelling, then bookmark this blog and stop in on a regular basis. Daredevil’s second season, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist (white or Asian casting) will all be reviewed shortly after their release.

 

 

2016 Election, Politics

Bloomberg eyes White House run. Big Gulp 2016: Ready to swill

Soda
Michael Bloomberg is like Soda Popinski. Not only is he obsessed with sugary drinks, but a lot of people want to punch him in the face.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks Americans may finally be ready for President Big-Gulp. The billionaire who tried to ban businesses in NYC from selling sodas, energy drinks, and sweet tea in cups larger than 16-ounces is seriously exploring a 2016 presidential run.

The New York Times reported Saturday:

Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side. …

Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

It is times like these when we must look to the records for a window into Mr. Bloomberg’s soul. An NBC interview with May 2012 should do the trick:

“We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things, we’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup,” (Michael Bloomberg, NBC with Andrea Mitchell, May 31, 2012).

In Mr. Bloomberg’s world, turning mom-and-pop business owners into criminals because they sell 32-ounce drinks to customers who like 32-ounce drinks is no big deal. In Mr. Bloomberg’s world, it is totally reasonable to micro-manage the lives of citizens down to the cup-size they prefer at local eateries.

A man who thinks he should be able to control how much sweet tea you consume in one sitting is a man who thinks he should be able to control every aspect of your life. The tens-of-millions of dollars he has spent on gun-control efforts across the country is further proof of his insatiable desire to “force” you to “understand” that his wants trump your rights.

Personally, I hope Mr. Bloomberg does run for president. He is generally an unlikable politician who will only siphon off support from whatever micro-managing candidate wins the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Big Gulp 2016: Ready to swill. Bloomberg for president.

Make it happen, Michael.