The Truth Beneath The Waves

With a starring role in Brightest Day, Aquaman is coming back to the DCU in a big, big way.  Often overlooked as a gimmicky or D-list hero (at best!), we here at the L.E.M.U.R. Comics Blog would like to take the opportunity to correct those misconceptions.  This week we are proud to present: Aquaman Facts.

THIS IS NOT JUST A GRATUITOUS PICTURE OF AQUAMAN'S HOT WIFE!

  • Section 1, Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution states, “No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.  Or Aquaman.”

  • Aquaman invented the giant seahorse by punching a seal and a horse into one new animal.

  • Aquaman holds the world speed record for text messaging underwater.

  • When Batman is at a loss, he asks himself, “What would Aquaman do?”

  • Aquaman raced Superman and the Flash and won.

  • In honor of his international reputation for sexual prowess, the Italian term for orgasm is il dulche Aquamano.

  • Aquaman once bowled a 310.

  • There is a hidden Aquaman drawn into each of Jack Kirby’s Marvel books

  • Aquaman has all of the feet Rob Liefeld never drew.

  • Aquaman doesn’t get dirty. Dirt gets Aquamany.

  • It’s not that Aquaman can’t exist more than an hour without water, it’s that water can’t exist more than an hour without Aquaman.

  • Wolverine is the Aquaman of the Marvel Universe.

  • Aquaman failed once. Just to prove that he could do anything.

  • The first man on the moon was Aquaman.  And he swam there.

Game Tape

This week was the biggest week I’ve had in a while, and there were things to actually write about too. Let’s see if I remember how it’s done shall we?

No sense in not starting with the 900 lbs. gorilla in the room. DC got it right. Action Comics #900 was  worth reading. The black sphere saga ends and Luthor gets everything he ever wanted. Of course you have to be careful what you wish for. With the main story, Cornell shows that he really understands what makes both Luthor and Superman tick. In addition, we’ve got a strong start to the upcoming Doomsday cross-over. The back-up stories were pretty well crafted, but mostly forgettable. I can only assume the Donner piece didn’t get an artist because it would ahve upped the page count. A shame, because it could have benefited from being fully fleshed out. One other thing that this anniversary issue should have included is a recognition of other characters that have debuted or been featured regularly in Action Comics. Where’s the Blackhawk story? Congo Bill? Zatara? Wild Dog? Sure it’s primarily Superman’s book, but with an anniversary this big, there needed to be recognition of the history. At least he’s not going to start walking across the country.

Onward and upward then. FF #2 continues to be Hickman being Hickman. Dialogue and character are strong and clever. The situation continues to be dire and interesting too. Specifically, we learn in this issue what sort of deal Valeria made with Dr. Doom back in the pages of Fantastic Four. This issue also highlights one of Hickman’s greatest strengths. The ability to tell a whole story in a single issue while dropping crumbs to be picked up later. Seriously, there’s no reason not to be reading this title.

Age of X ended this week also. On the whole the story wasn’t bad. The world created there was sufficiently different and interesting, and the mystery created by jumping in medias res was well sustained. If anything, it ended a little too quickly and neatly. Still, it did manage to be a decent alternate universe story. It’s also interesting to see that there are small repercussions to be felt in the aftermath. So not everything is returning to status quo. Checking out the trade or finding the issues on the cheap wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I did pick up the second issue of the Godzilla book. I really liked the first issue. This one felt a little too disjointed. I’m curious to see where this book is going. In spite of the death and destruction, I’m inclined to root for Godzilla, but I’m not sure why yet.

The three Avengers books we solid too. The two .1’s proved to be genuine in their desire to serve as starting points. In Avengers, we’re teased with a Spaceknight. We also see a MODOK with spider legs. To my mind, this is not an improvement on the floating chair design. Secret Avengers is a nice done-in-one that introduces readers to all of the main characters while giving Nick Spencer a chance to find his footing on the title. Not bad.

That’s a wrap for this week. Good solid reads all around with only minor missteps.

Magneto…SECRETS

They got Gandalf to play me?!? Seriously?

secret…

Animal Magnetism also falls under my domain. True!

secret…

While diametrically opposite philosophically, Charles and I agree on the question of boxers vs. briefs.

secret…

One advantage of living on an asteroid orbiting the planet: I'm not breathing the same air as Hank Pym.

secret…

Actually, I'm 3 semester hours from being a master of magnetism.

This Week’s Comics

Wow!  There’s a ton of stuff worth checking out this week.  Here’s what I’m looking at.

  • ACTION COMICS #900 – The return of Superman!
  • ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN WOLVERINE ANOTHER FINE MESS #1 – As long as Jason Aaron is working on this, I’m onboard. I’ve also had really good luck picking this title up for a buck.
  • AVENGERS #12.1
  • BATMAN INCORPORATED #5 – More Morrison!
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #876
  • FF #2 – I miss some Hickman FF…
  • GODZILLA KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #2 – The first issue was so good I think I’m onboard.  But now I’m curious what Matt thought about it.
  • GREEN LANTERN EMERALD WARRIORS #9
  • INFESTATION CVO 100 PG SPECTACULAR – Zombies are pretty played out right now, but I’m curious enough to see how IDW strings a non-crossover crossover across it’s disparate lines that I’m likely to check this out.
  • MIGHTY THOR #1
  • SECRET AVENGERS #12
  • SECRET AVENGERS #12.1 – Should the .1 issue really be coming out on the same day as a regular issue?
  • SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK BY JOHN BYRNE TP VOL 01 – I won’t be picking this one up, but Byrne’s She-Hulk is hilarious, well-written and drawn, and set the groundwork for the character that marvel uses to this day. It’s well worth checking out if you like humor with your superheroics, though it’s probably cheaper to pick up the individual issues if you’re so inclined.

That’s it for this week.  I’ve updated my running pull list with this week’s comics and some discount books I’ve picked up.  What are YOU looking at?

Dy-no-mite!

I love old sci-fi movies.  Matt and I both do.  The cheesier, the better, as exemplified by my Ed Wood DVD collection.  I’ve never tried to quantify why, but there’s something about the sincerity despite limited resources (and occasionally talent) that draws me to them. Strange effects, bizarre costumes, incomprehensible movie logic, irrelevant stock footage…Individually they might make a project weaker but in the right combination what would be  otherwise constitute weakness contributes to a strange irresistible charm.

One of my favorite films of the last few years is The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, not a B-grade sci-fi movie in itself, but rather a loving homage to the 50’s sci-fi flick.  At the very start, the first thing you notice is that the dialog is slightly off.  And repetitive.  And then it slowly dawns on you that you’re in for something special.  The Lost Skeleton is not a parody of the 50’s sci-fi film, it highlights the subtle things that make the genre so special and charming.

Creating such a clever movie takes a love of the genre and a keen eye for detail.  It’s not as easy as picking up a camera and cracking a bunch of jokes because if it were, 2009’s Alien Trespass — a similar attempt — would have been successful.  No, there is a craft involved more subtle than pointing a finger and saying “isn’t this ridiculous?”

I digress about The Lost Skeleton to make this point: when I call Black Dynamite the “Lost Skeleton of Cadavra of blaxploitation flicks” it is the highest compliment I can possibly give.

Shot on Super 16 film, with a score created using period instruments and recording equipment, everything about Black Dynamite screams authenticity.  The opening scene, a meeting between drug kingpins, is dark and grainy, and utilizes a common split screen technique.  If there’s a blaxploitation cliche that didn’t make it into the film, I don’t know what it is, and if you’re a fan of the genre you’ll recognize exactly how much care went into replicating the style and peculiarities without stooping to condescension or derision.  There’s car chases (and crashes), boom mikes, actors replaced mid-scene, and even a musical number that gives the Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra time to shine.  I won’t rehash the plot because if you’ve read this far you’ve seen enough of these movies to know it already, but much like The Lost Skeleton it is a loving pastiche of the films that came before it.

On a recent Nerdist podcast, it became especially clear exactly how much effort and thought went into recreating this world.  The actors truly studied their source material.  It’s not just the dialogue that gets copied, it’s also the acting style and delivery. In particular Byron Minns as Bullhorn mimics Rudy Ray Moore to an uncanny degree.  (Seriously Byron, the world needs you in a Dolemite movie.  We can make it happen!)

Last weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend a screening of the film here in Denver.  Also there for a Q&A afterward were Adrian Younge and Loren Oden of the Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra.  If that’s not enough for you, (and it should be, the score is an integral part of what makes the film work), Younge was the movie’s editor and Oden played Leon St. James  (of the Anaconda Malt Liquor ad). They provided some exceptional insight into what it takes to put together such a spot-on homage.  The key?  If it isn’t obvious, it’s study.  Know your sources inside and out, and then don’t go to copy it, but build something new and try to make it better.  (See also: Jeff Parker, Jason Aaron)

Younge and Oden were both amazingly gracious in talking with us afterward, everything from how hard it is to rewatch your film over and over again (not as much as you’d think) to the musical score’s influences (Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Italian cinema).  One of the most interesting things I learned from them is that Black Dynamite was originally supposed to be an action film with comedy, but as Younge was cutting the movie he discovered that it was a comedy with action, which changed up how the pacing had to work.  This was very telling because Black Dynamite: Escape From Slave Island hit comic shops this week.  I have my copy ordered and will hopefully be picking it up today (expect that review next week!), but based on the 12-page preview I picked up, the comic will follow in those original roots: action-based, with elements of comedy.  And I can’t wait, because BD is obviously a labor of love for everyone involved.

The preview looks solid: funny, and with an art style reminiscent of 70’s Marvel books.  As the Black Dynamite media empire expands into comics, cartoons, and I’m sure a sequel, I hope the creators embrace each medium.  For example, have the comic reference the cliches and stereotypes of black comic book characters, rather than continuing on exclusively with movie references.

If you’re interested in catching a Black Dynamite screening in your town, hit up the Black Dynamite page on Facebook, where announcements are regularly released.  And if you happen to live in the Denver area, Paul Matthews of ASR Innertainment will be putting on a blaxploitation film series, so stay tuned.

And now I hope my comic shop is finally open.  Because I have to know what happens on Slave Island.