Saturday, 25 February 2017

Marvel Coming Back?

I'm a little late to the table with my take on this story but I have been busy writing my book but none the less; here I am. I've written numerous times about my feelings about what has happened to Marvel comics and thought I was done with the subject and superheroes in general. A story popped up in Bleeding Cool News by Rich Johnston, a man I and others find quite loathsome, regarding the direction Marvel would be taking under new lead writer, Marc Guggenheim. He suggested that a lot of the politics that had been shoved into the various comics series would be "tabled for the time being."

I looked at that line and had my hopes raised for a moment as it appeared that finally, someone saw that the company's sales had gone downhill quite badly and that they needed saving. DC obviously saw this and have avoided it after the Rebirth storyline, Marvel managed to get the number one spot in last month's sales but only because it was a new title, previous months had not been so kind to them. Plenty of Marvel's titles have been canceled and will probably be canceled as a result of their poor sales, the most recent one being Patsy Walker Aka Hellcat. Kate Leth, the series writer, tweeted about this with what appeared to be a hint of arrogance, which I would have linked here but she has me blocked and we've never spoken before. She claimed the series would be finishing on "our terms", something I struggled to believe as her series sales numbers had dropped lower than that of Angela Queen of Hel.

In the past, Marvel has dealt with some politics in their stories, such as drugs and 9/11, and do so with some good writing and subtlety, but it got so heavy-handed with all the left-leaning crap that its audience went somewhere else and took their money with them. I was one of those people and although I think this news of a reform is great I still cannot bring myself to buy any of their stuff again. Why? Because I simply do not trust them anymore.

Their story telling became lazy, the artwork too cartoony and they either changed their characters' race or gender to appeal to the PC crowd. However, they didn't realize one important detail: a lot of that crowd may complain for more women characters etc in comics but they certainly do not buy them. This has been reflected in the sales and I am pleased to see someone doing something about it, but for me it is too late. I will not give them my money anymore for fear of being burned again and especially with the recent bizarre news of some Hulk and Wolverine hybrid.... Really?

The thing is that I can look back on this and tell myself that I tried, I tried to get onboard with this when I was buying All-New Wolverine but in the end, I just could not do it. For those who read their comics and enjoy them, I will not knock them as at least someone out there is. For me and a lot of other people out there it seems, Marvel died a quiet death a long time ago and I doubt it is a death that they will come back from.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

So I Listened to... The Ables.

Audiobooks are something I think fondly of these days. I listen to them quite often as once I have finished writing, there are some days I do not feel like going from the screen of my laptop to that of my Kindle; so listening to something from Audible is much more appealing. As I have previously written, my brother enjoys audiobooks and listens to them in bulk due to his job as a truck driver. I hope one day that my own work will be available in audio format so that he and others have the choice of either them or the written book.

One of the first audiobooks I ever listened to was The Ables, written and narrated by Jeremy Scott, one of the men behind the Cinemasins Youtube channel. I think back on this story with great affection as it was a story that picked up its pace gradually as a group of disabled children, who find out that they have super powers and live in a town full of superheroes, are pulled into a threatening situation which could well kill them and everyone they know.

Scott has obviously paid attention to the films he has given sins to over the years of his popular channel and it shows in his story. Tremendous thought has obviously gone into the plot and I was caught off guard several times during the course of the story. I loved it, especially the two huge revelations towards the end. Scott has tweeted that he is writing the sequel and for me, it is a guaranteed sale.

One thing that does let a lot of audiobooks down is the narrator but with this one, it is obviously not an issue. Scott narrates it himself and his performance is brilliant and again, his narration has obviously been perfected thanks to his channel. He does so with a relaxed voice and when the more tense scenes come along, the shift of tone in his voice is gently done and comes across really well.

The audiobook is just shy of ten hours long, a good length in my opinion and certainly worth either the purchase or the token Audible gives out once a month, depending on your membership. If you like a superhero story with plenty of twists, where the characters are under genuine threat and nothing is guaranteed, I advise you to check this one out. One could only hope Marvel could listen to this story and learn something from it, but I guess that would be hoping too much.

So I Watched... John Wick: Chapter Two.

Seeing this film at the cinema with my wife marked a sad historic occasion for me and her, and for the cynics reading this; I do not mean our wedding anniversary. Our visit to the local cinema to see John Wick 2 was the first time we had been there for a year as there had not been anything come out that we had been interested in seeing. It was nice to break that absence and this movie was the perfect choice to do it with.

We had watched the first one at home and really enjoyed it. We said to ourselves we would see the second if and when it came out, I am happy to write that number two is not only better than the first, it achieves this without changing the formula of the original.

Once again, John is trying to live a quiet life but an old debt comes knocking at his door and he is forced back into the dark world of assassins and contracts, but the debt he owes comes with a double cross which, against someone like Wick, is a really bad idea as the main antagonist certainly finds out.

At the time of writing this, Keanu Reeves is in his fifties (52 at the moment) but you would not believe it to look at him. Not only is his acting of the character deceptively gentle, but his fight scenes are a visual wonder. Other stars such as Common, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne, and the brilliant Ian Mcshane are wonderful to watch in this film, it's ending pretty much saying a third will be on the way. I would consider saying this would be Reeves' Taken style trilogy, but that might not be fair as Taken was brilliant, two was pretty good, and three was below average, especially as you could tell in the last one that Liam Neeson really is too old for that shit.

There is not much more I could write here to praise this film except to say that you really need to see it. We appear to be in an age of reboots, remakes, and poor sequels. Thankfully, the John Wick series appears to be avoiding the latter trend and that is a breath of fresh air indeed.