Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I SHOULD HAVE written Ted Kord: Rebirth

Obviously, this post is my version of mightygodking’s classic series of posts called “Why I should write the Legion”. Except, instead of a series, this is a single post and I’m not campaigning for DC to let me have at one of their biggest, most troublesome titles.

I went on a bit of a mini-rant in the comments of a recent post explaining my thoughts, attitude, and subsequent behaviour where Ted Kord (a.k.a. not the original Blue Beetle, but the one before the current guy) is concerned. After thorough introspection, I realised that I was hard on good ol’ Ted, because I didn’t think he reached his heroic potential (in part as a result of the Blue & Gold days).

My assessment of Blue Beetle’s potential has always reminded me of a coaching model called the inner game, which posits everyone has two selves. Self 1 is constantly giving Self 2 self-instructions while the person trying to perform at his/her best. This never has the intended effect. In fact, the self-instruction often becomes Interference. It stands to reason that if you reduce the interference, you’ll be more likely to reach your potential.

Potential - Interference = Performance


Po – i = Pe

It may not come as a surprise to any reader of this blog, but the “i” in Ted’s equation IMHO was Booster Gold. As previously stated, generally interference is comprised of self-talk, but one could argue that the thousands of hours that Ted spent with Booster affected his self-talk in such a way that Booster (or rather the Blue & Gold pranks, schemes, etcetera) got into his head.

Also notice that I said reduce the interference and not eliminate the interference completely. Hey, that would turn Ted into Batman and no-one wants that :)

For more on The Inner Game, click here.

Confession time: I came up with this nearly a decade ago while Ted Kord was still alive and only added the word Rebirth and Reason # 2 for obvious reasons. My plan was to kill off Ted - for his own good. Okay, that “for his own good” bit makes me sound like a crazy super-villain…And, yes, yes, I know it’s seriously bad form to even plan to kill off a hero (in his prime?)

Okay, so now that I’ve explained why I felt the need to rework Ted Kord by killing and reviving him, let’s get back to the MGK-style answers to the title of this post. In other words, what were my plans are for Mister Kord (or the reasons for anyone to read the comic)?

Reason # 1: Ted wouldn’t have been reborn as Blue Beetle.

Reason # 2: I wouldn’t have killed off the new Blue Beetle.

Reason # 3: There would have been a joyful reunion and goodbye between Ted and Booster Gold. Think Frodo and Sam at the end of ‘The lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.’ A lot of joy, but also tears.

Reason # 4: Ted would have moved to Fawcett City to work in one of its many museums as an exhibition technician, but would have engaged in hero stuff all over.

Reason # 5: Ted would have had rather unfriendly encounters with Shazam and Doctor Fate.

Reason # 6: Ted would have defeated a Green Lantern...Say what? Oh, I forgot to mention that Ted would have had superpowers.

How would all of the above have come to pass?

Well, I have to admit that elements of my story and character redesign resemble the revised Dan Garrett (Charlton Comics) mystical version of Blue Beetle as well as the current Jaime Reyes (Grant Morrison-reworked) alien-tech version of Blue Beetle. The resemblance to the former is weird, because I only learnt more about Dan Garret version (beyond his name) in the last year or so. The resemblance to the latter is weird, because my tastes in character design usually differ from Morrison’s by about 35 – 40%.

However, I realise that just the name Blue Beetle evokes pretty specific imagery even within the minds of those unfamiliar with the hero. It’s that kind of name.

Don’t know whether this is in my blogger profile, but I have a rather strong interest in Mythology. Through the years, I’ve heard and read about myths concerning kings and heroes and gods travelling to the afterlife or spirit realm. One of the most surprisingly common elements is the whole “only those who are chosen or worthy may enter” part. Sometimes all that is necessary is a series of passwords or proving your identity.

The latter may not be as stringent as it sounds and sometimes it involves mere visual confirmation of special markings (the equivalent of a two-point fingerprint match where you would expect a ten-point match to be required). “Yeah, I guess this is you.” Remember, in many myths, heroes are often depicted as entering their “hall of heroes” in their battle garb.

This is where Ted’s rebirth comes in: The beetle markings on his costume cause the gatekeeper to mistake Ted for a long-awaited scarab warrior whose life-blood, like the Blue Nile, was prophesied never to run dry. Thus, when Ted enters this specific afterlife and is mistaken for the scarab warrior, they lower him into the water of life.

Side note of Nile trivia: If you travel upstream on the Nile River, it has two “feeder / source rivers” called the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The Nile represents the ebb and flow of life in Egyptian mythology.

As a result he would have gained life (materializing on earth) and mystical powers:
• superhuman agility;
• the ability to manifest energy long blades from the side of his forearms; and
• the ability to transform into a “swarm” of scarabs that can drain the energy of anything they touch. (Reason # 6 doesn’t seem that impossible now, does it?)

Blue Beetle is (or rather would have been) dead – the Ted Kord incarnation, anyway. Blue Scarab would have lived! Reason # 1 makes sense now. Blue Scarab is more apt name and just sounds more menacing.

Also, because there’s also a White Nile, there would also have to be a White Scarab (That’s what Reason # 5 would have been about – Shazam and Doctor Fate would’ve tried to warn Ted about White Scarab, a dangerous and evil dude. They would’ve told him that Reason # 4 wasn’t just a whim on his part and that there was a more prophetic reason his decision.)

However, this is where we would have seen that Ted is a different man from the pre-death self when he responds by questioning where all those dire, prophetic, I-see-it-coming warnings were when he died.

General Question: Shouldn’t there be a little more diverse reactions of the recently returned heroes to being alive? I mean, not everyone is going to carry on as if nothing happened.

Monday, October 26, 2009

JLA: The Movie - How it should happen (Part Two)

As mentioned in Part One, Justice League America tops my comic-that-should-be-made-into-a-movie list. Lissbirds rightly pointed out that the securing the talent (cast, etc.) is the difficult part and going animated way seems to be the only the movie is ever going to be made. In fact, the last cancelled attempt at putting together a live action JLA movie I heard about seemed to have a mid-budget feel about it and had a largely unknown cast. DC obviously doesn’t know how hot this property is.

In terms of casting, I’d like to see Christian Bale as Batman and Tom Welling (from Smallville) as Superman. I did not at all like Brandon Routh’s portrayal of Superman in Superman Return (a movie I disliked a lot). Tom gives Superman more personality.

Martian Manhunter could be... David Boreanaz (from Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bones)? Somehow, he’ll make all the make-up / green screen acting work.

That reminds me...I made a rather HUGE omission in my previous JLA the movie post:  the man / director /comic-&-movie-god who’ll pull all the threads together...drumroll please...Joss Whedon!

But wait, didn’t Whedon say that DC heroes are too god-like to make good comic-to-film-translations?

Okay, yes, he did.   That was before he saw my idea for the movie...hehe

But, that’s the great thing about the JLA: they’re a group of god-like figures whose individual sets of ethics differ and can be played against one another. You’ll have a hard time making a case for any one of them being heroically and/or morally superior to the rest.

Also, as already established, the JLA would be facing be the new gods of Apokalips. Who better to make the JLA seem less god-like than people who are?

Mister Whedon, are you ready to sign up? Yes? Well, bring along Nathan Fillion (from Firefly) to play Hal Jordan, will you?

That dude will make Hal bearable to audiences who don’t know Hal Jordan and won’t understand how well-intentioned behaviour only resembles douchery. He's also not scared to bear all for the camera ad let's face it, wearing Hal's costume is the next thing.

I'm sure this "audition pic" will carry SallyP  of Green Lantern Butts' approval and vote...

Okay, I’ll settle for the studio choice, Ryan Renolds, too.

I still don't know who will play Wonder Woman...decisions, decisions...

Then, it’s all set, Mister Whedon. We’ll see you on set, Mister Whedon. Thank you for being you, Mister Whedon. I’ll be quiet now, Mister Whedon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Real Horror crawls all over your skin and buzzes in your brain...

The good folks at Rymfire Ebooks have set up this menacing advanced order page for "Vermin: An eBook Anthology" that promises to deliver true Horror of the crawling and buzzing variety.

If that is your idea of scary good reading, go order now!

JLA: The Movie - How it should happen

In an upcoming post, I’ll be discussing (read: making a fanboy case for) which superhero comics I believe deserve to be made into movies or television shows.

Of course, one of those is JLA.

This JLA will be a big-budget movie will only have the BIG SEVEN as its stars. By BIG SEVEN, I mean Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Guy Gardner – hell no!), Flash, Martian Manhunter, and as the seventh member your choice of Hawkman or Aquaman or Green Arrow or Hawkgirl (as a modern addition). Okay, I have somewhat of a crush on Hawkgirl – she’s spunky and her abs are sooo toned. Perhaps, a fully powered Black Canary as the seventh member would make sense from a power variety perspective. Maybe, a BIG SIX plus a few supporting heroes plus a few easter egg cameos. We’ll let the studio decide.

And, oh, they’ll be facing Darkseid and the might of Apokalips.

During my movie-imagining session, I began to think about the actual mechanics of such a motion picture and then it came to me: Guest directors!

Michael Bay – for the slow motion “Off-to-save-the-world” walks - as seen in Armageddon - that the JLA have to do before they open a can of hurt on the evil gods. Also, Mister Bay will handle all the big explosions and the fire pit scenes. They have actually attempted this to great effect in silhouette-form in the opening sequence of the Justice League animated series (the one before Justice League Unlimited).

Zack Snyder – for all the slow motion fight scenes the leaguers will have while Flash moves at normal speed. For the clumsy slow motion bondage scene between Batman and WW, where Bats has trouble unhooking his utility belt...Before he can succeed, Martian Manhunter ghosts in to call them to the watchtower monitor room...Okay, so I’m not serous about this one :)

Christopher Nolan – for all Batman’s SERIOUS conversations with his colleagues.

JJ Abrams – for all the multiple-hero scrambling combat scenes where three of them are fighting para-demons, while two are trying to save some hunger dogs from feeding the fire pits (implies collaboration with Michael Bay), while Darkseid unleashes some other threat against them...chaos. Mister Abrahams is also great choice, because about 20% of the movie will be shot in the “shaky-cam” style ala Cloverfield. Why? Well, these will be the parts that will be seen the eyes of Blue Devil, who will be in the middle of a try-out for JLA membership as well as simultaneously trying to get superhero footage for a reality-based movie. Of course, the JLA want to reject them, but then a crisis occurs...

M. Night Shyamalan – for the introduction of the eighth and newest JLA member and the subsequent revelation that he was planted as a traitor within the league by non other than Desaad!

James Cameron – for the climactic battle and finale. Darkseid gets blown into a fire pit...Batman uses a boom tube to deliver something especially nasty to the Apokalips champions...

Frank Miller – for the part where Batman plants a Kryptonite-induced smackdown on the Darkseid-controlled Superman (ala the Superman and Justice League series of a few years back). This is also the best way to show how bad-ass the JLA is – pit them against their most powerful member.

Notable cameos: Mister Miracle, Captain Atom (I ‘m totally straight when I say that I miss his shiny butt), Orion

Think: Legends meets JLI (the whole Apokalips saga) meets JLA (during the wonder woman leadership age – just so we get the Blue Devil motivation right) meets the current JLA era meets The Dark Knight Returns (for How to fight BAD superman tips).

Trust me. It'll work. We just have to keep Bay and Cameron's visions from clashing ... and Nolan's inner editor from killing Snyder's inner fanboy... and Miller's lawyers from slapping a restraining order on Snyder.

It. Will. Work.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Other Superdickery

Disclaimer: This post has absolutely positively nothing to do with  (a site that is well known for its analysis of comic book covers and its contention that Superman is a dick on occasion).

No, this post is focused on the dickery that certain comic fanboys have perpetrated. I’ve reread some examples of this phenomenon recorded on the blogosphere and this is by far the biggest example of such dickery this year (thus far).

The above link makes the following type of reaction to interacting with comic fanboys at comic book conventions and signings all the more understandable (and visually apt). Okay, so she isn’t a comic artist, but I bet every comic book pro (writer or artist) feels like this on the inside when some creep pulls a stunt like this.

It occurs to me that Comic book pros are easier targets than say movie directors or actors, because of their convention appearances and lack of bodyguards to beat up jackasses.

Btw, I like Rob Liefeld. Sure, his art isn’t always consistent, but what he did for X-force has yet to be matched.

Rob co-created Cable. Pretty poppular character.

Rob created Deapool. This is one of the most popular characters of recent decades and Mister Liefeld deserves a lot of credit for that.

Which two characters have starred in a title (as DEMANDED by fans)?

Rob is a great creator. A much better creator than Artist. His work on the Youngblood books is way cooler than I could ever imagine the Titans (the original, intended home of his later reworked Youngblood ideas) being. Much better than the “Junior Justice League Sidekick” feel that The Teen Titans suffered from for years.

Furthermore, Die Hard is, and always will be, a cooler hero than Captain America. One (Die Hard) gave up his humanity for the greater good, the other (Cap) was a scrawny dude who became the world's most glorified and saluted steriod-user. Huh?

Rant over. Mesage to be taken away from rant: Don't engage in the other superdickery.

So ends the sermon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clichés and Superhero comics: From Nature to Cap

I’ve watched a lot of nature documentaries (Natural Geographic and the like) over the years. Every now and then I’ll watch one about sharks. In about 99% of these documentaries, the narrator will say something to the effect of:

“Often depicted as mindless killing machines, sharks are misunderstood beasts....In fact, you are more likely to be killed [insert activity or type of death]. Only X number of deaths [where X >1] per year are attributed to shark attacks.”

To which I usually say, “No, there’s really no misunderstanding about sharks. If they attack you, you’re likely to die or suffer serious injury. X number is still a number. Sharks aren’t 100% harmless. On the other hand, in a documentary about lions or crocodiles, it is always made absolutely clear that no matter how few (lion or crocodile) attacks there may be, that it is best to stay away from these killing machines.”

Okay, I’ve rambled on a bit. The point is that the typical narration excerpt above has become a cliché in Shark documentaries.

Clichés. They’re out there. Even in superheroes comic books.

No, I’m not talking about origin tropes in superhero (subgenre) comic books. A trope is different from a cliché.

I’m referring to clichés that show up in hero characterization. One of the biggest of writer-sins (and it IS a writer-sin) is have the hero be your Mary Sue (the character that never does anything wrong AND/OR never loses a fight AND/OR gets spoken about in glowing terms whenever said character isn’t around, etcetera).

“But he is the HERO”, you say?

Sure. He/She is the hero, but even in single hero comic books, there are often other heroes in the supporting cast who should be allowed to shine from time to time. For example, look at Nightwing in the Bat-books...Okay, maybe Nightwing is perhaps a better Anti-Mary-Sue (See this post) - some fans have posited that Nightwing is there to make Batman/Bruce Wayne look good in his heroic exploits.

Another writer-sin is how other people (and even fellow heroes) react to certain heroes. See every comic in which a young hero meets the Avengers. Even if young hero has a lot of experience and has been around for ages, some writers will make this hero fall over themselves in fanboy-like worship and say things "OMG, I've just met the Avengers and Cap just called me 'son'...The...A...vengers!"

To which I say, "Wake up, kid. Cap calls everyone son. It's his thing. Hey, it's not like you met the JLA."

Yeah...The JLA (big seven) might make me act like that, but not The Avengers. Sorry, Marvel.

That's just me.

I'm SURE that you can think of many other clichés in Superhero comics and particular writer-hero-combos that tend to transgress every now and then.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Speculative short stories that Superhero Comic book readers will enjoy

One of my passions - other than comics - is reading Speculative (refering to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Supernatural Horror) short stories. I often muse at how few peeps enjoy both comics and short fiction. Okay, one has artwork and thought bubbles, but some of the same thrills can be found in both forms.

Here's a link to a short story. If you liked Doom Patrol, John Constantine (from Swamp Thing fame or that good movie starring that king of acting Keanu Reeves), or Angel/Buffy comic books...Read it. My good deed for the week.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Too much or not enough is the question

This is a link to a post from two years or so back. It’s controversial, so it’s from livejournal :)

See, this supports my views about livejournal from my previous social media post.

As someone working on (nay slogging away at) a graphic novel script (more on this in the months to come), my position is this:

Art (visual) direction is fine as long as you check said art direction for impossibilities. Perhaps, this is just my background as a wannabe Science Fiction short story writer and reader: Everyone (including me) is always checking whether you violated the rules you created yourself.

I try to go for full visual direction ONLY for panels that are dramatic. It’s analogous to my rule for writing short story openings (hooks): Start with the most evocative image.

Still, I'll try to moderate my own Kubrick-ness (named after that  infamous and equally pedantic tinkerer of directors Stanley Kubrick who gained a rep for... um... pedantically tinkering at the most UNIMPORTANT details of cinematic filming). This is hard, because most wannabe (comic book) writers come to writing via watching movies.

I'll try to find the balance.