Tag Archives: Comics

There are no strings……on me

The title of this blog is there for no other reason than that one line in the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer still has me excited. Although this entry into the blogsphere will no doubt have some Marvel information in it. As I write that, it sort of gives away my way of writing blogs. I come in to them with no clear idea of what I’m going to write. Some of them are outlined before I sit down while most of the are just whatever tangent my mind decides to take me on….

I purchased a new book last week, well there were a few books, but the one that I’ve started reading is called “The Girl With All The Gifts” by M.R Carey. I recommend it to anyone reading this and while it’s hard to actually say what it’s about without giving away spoilers, I will say that it has me hooked with the twist near the start.

I also reread “The Dark Knight Returns” comic by Frank Miller a few days ago. While most people know it as the best Batman comic that there is, I often fear that it hinges on becoming idolised too much. However every single time that I read it, I realise that it really is the best one and the only one (in my opinion) that comes close is ‘The Killing Joke’ One Shot by Alan Moore.

DC are trying hard to make an impact on the live action scene. ‘The Flash’ is fantastic, I’ve been watching it for the past few weeks and it’s so different from ‘Arrow’ but it still has the same gravitas. ‘Arrow’ has really hit the ground running in season 3. The end of episode one really set the course for this season and episode two was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. ‘Gotham’ needs some work in my opinion. I like it but it just doesn’t yet seem to be consistent from week to week with its quality. The portrayal of James Gordon is fine but it feels like it could have a bit more to it. The James Gordon that I’ve always been familiar with was a layered individual but this version just doesn’t seem to have anything other than what you see on the outside.

Of course there is also DC’s line up of movies to come. ‘Dawn of Justice’ is still a year and a half away from release, something which still baffles me. I really thought that DC would want to capitalise on the boom in comic book movies sooner rather than later. It looks to me like Dawn of Justice will be in preproduction for almost two years which I just don’t understand.

Marvel however are still knocking it out of the park with movies. Yesterday saw the press event and the announcement of ‘Phase Three’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The line up is a fantastic one and is as follows;

2015:
May 1: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
July 17: Ant-Man

2016:
May 6: Captain America 3: Civil War
November 4: Doctor Strange

2017:
May 5: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
July 28: Thor: Ragnarok
November 3: Black Panther

2018:
May 4: The Avengers: Infinity War, Part One
July 6: Captain Marvel
November 2: Inhumans

2019:
May 3: The Avengers: Infinity War, Part Two

I’m not going to lie, I lost my shit when the ‘InHumans’ announcement came. I was sat in front of my computer, watching the live newsfeed on Marvels website and when that announcement came I jumped with a cheer.

Chadwick Boseman being announced as the Black Panther is also a very interesting choice. I look forward to seeing him in the role.

Something else that caught my eye this week was Ewan McGregor and his comments about Star Wars fans…

“The people I meet are the f**kers who want me to sign Star Wars photos so they can sell them on the Internet or the people at premieres who are crushing children against barriers to get me to sign their f**king picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“They’re not fans—they’re parasitical lowlifes and f**king w*nkers

I’m not entirely sure if I see his point or not, of course I’ve never been a celebrity so I can’t see things from their point of view. I do however agree that there are some fans, no matter what they’re a fan of, who take things too far and have no respect for anything or anyone.

One final thing, which I shall leave here for you to watch is the exclusive scene released last night for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, it is attached to the start of the trailer in this clip and it just feels so big and epic.

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The Age of Ultron Trailer

The trailer for ‘Avengers 2′ leaked online this week and it features footage of James Spader as Ultron. Forgetting everything else that the trailer shows, James Spader is enough to get you excited for next year. Marvel being the good sports that they are, reacted humorously to the leak and the proceeded to release the official version a week earlier than planned.

The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron starts as Tony Stark’s attempt to kickstart a dormant peacekeeping program of his opens results in the emergence of Ultron. An artificial intelligence who has terrible plans for humanity. While many fans of the comics were miffed as to why Ultron is a result of Stark instead of Hank Pym, the new trailer makes it appear as if everything is going to be OK.

If you haven’t yet seen the trailer then I won’t spoil it for you. It’s better just to watch it and feel the electrons pulse through your body as the excitement kicks in. I always say to people that I don’t get that excited for the movies because I’m more of a comic book guy but this trailer really has me excited. With over 5 million views in less than 12 hours, I’m guessing a hell of a lot of people feel the same.

One Less Gruff Billy Goat

The idea of fairy tales is one full of intrigue and mystique, almost all of us will have read a fairy tale at some point in our lives and without question every one of us knows of a fairy tale character. With the smallest amount of legerdemain the entire premise of a story can change, heroes can be either unlikely children or charming princes, villains can be witches or trolls. The possibilities within fairy tales are endless and the message is always one of hope.

The very first fairy tale that I can remember from my childhood was ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’. The premise is that three goats, discovering that where they live no longer has any grass for them to eat, set out to find new pastures so that they can become fat. However, their journey must take them across the river, where dwells a troll under a bridge. The first goat passes over the bridge but gets stopped by the troll who threatens to “gobble him up” (gobble him up is one of those lines that makes me laugh for no apparent reason) however the goat persuades the troll to wait for the second goat because he’s bigger and more of a meal so the troll lets him pass. The second goat comes along and the same thing happens as before and so then the third goat enters. I’ll stop it there, because I think that most people know how ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ ends, if you don’t then go and Google it.

Of course all fairy tales end with the standard “happily ever after” although recently I read “Arabian Nights” which is a collection of Asian fairy tales and they end with “they all lived happily until there came to them the One Who Destroys All Happiness” which I found odd yet poetic. ‘The One Who Destroys All Happiness’ meaning Death, the Grim Reaper as he’s also known. I was slightly taken aback at first, here were some fairy tales full of hope and suddenly they were cementing the fact that nobody lives “happily ever after” because death catches up to everyone.

The very first fairy tales are attributed to Aesop who lived in Ancient Greece around 620–564 BCE (slightly before our time I imagine). The power of fairy tales is so strong and so resilient that over two thousand years later some of Aesop’s’ tales are still being told to this day. I’m sure you will have heard of at least one of them, the main one that I can think of right now is ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. That story became so popular that two hundred years after it was written it became one of Zeno’s paradoxes (Google them, extremely interesting and thought provoking, the Arrow paradox is my personal favourite)

The Brothers Grimm famously wrote some of the most celebrated fairy tales in our history. Two German brothers, who were academics and even lexicographers, crafted some of the worlds greatest imaginary and magical characters. Although The Brothers Grimm did centralise their fairy tales on more darker hues they still resonated through the years with so many different people, even psychologist who felt the need to analyse them.

The fairy tale is an escape from reality, like most forms of entertainment. I do believe however that fairy tales give more power to the reader and open the imagination slightly more than any other form of literature and I’m saying that as an avid science-fiction fanatic. Whether it’s something written by Alexander Afanasyev or Hans Christian Andersen, fairy tales have the power to take you to a place where good almost always wins. The fairy tale is a door to the unknown world of endless possibilities where life feels good, Walt Disney realised that and that’s why he cashed in on so many popular fairy tales.

Nowadays people don’t write fairy tales, it’s somewhat a thing of the past which saddens me. My Dad used to make up fairy tales for me each night and they always made me so happy. They were tales of a young boy called Billy who lived in a house with a green roof. Billy went swimming with sharks and had magic powers, he loved ice cream and was my hero. My Dad doesn’t remember how any of those stories went and I was too young to retain the proper memories of them which is a crying shame because I would love to remember them in full.

The power of fairy tales will live on because they should live on. Albert Einstein once famously said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Can anyone really disprove that? Fairy tales are more than just true and not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Every fairy tale has meaning and every single one is based on the same idea, the idea that peace and happiness can exist no matter what stands in your way.

“In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.”Charles Dickens

Back to business…

For just over a month this blog has sat in silence, not a peep, not a hint of anything new. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that in my mind I am either in one of two moods. The first one is where I have too much to say and so could write for days on end, compiling novels from my thoughts. The seconds is where I have nothing that I deem interesting to say, no matter how hard I try to string words together they just aren’t interesting enough to write. For the first two weeks of this blog being quiet, I was in the latter mood. I could not think of anything worth writing, and as much as that is one of my two moods, it’s a very rare occurrence. I never find myself struggling to write or indeed come up with ideas for something to write. I have however returned to write down the inner workings of my mind, for you to read, whether you find it enjoyable or not is a different matter.

With Doctor Who off of our television screens, I often find myself at a loss of what to watch. I have my usual light viewing shows such as Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (which is a new addition) and The Walking Dead. I do find myself lacking that “addictive” viewing that I get during the series’ of Doctor Who, that is until January comes around and the road to Wrestlemania begins. I suppose that my childhood obsession with wrestling will always be with me, I figured that if I reached 25 and was still interested in it then it would be a lifelong thing. I’m well past 25 now and it still excites me, especially between January and April when Wrestlemania rolls around.

Last night I watched “Insane Fight Club” which followed the Glasgow wrestling promotion “Insane Championship Wrestling”. I’ve not been to an ICW show in just over a year and it pains me that I haven’t been but something always comes up and I can’t make it. However last nights show proved what I’ve been saying for years ICW are on their way to the top.

I read yesterday that Kevin Smith is to return to writing comics, this time for a Batman meets Green Hornet 12 issue run. For me, two of my favourite comic book story arcs have been written by Kevin Smith – the Daredevil arc “Guardian Devil” and the Batman limited arc “Cacophony” so hearing that he’s returning to write another arc is exciting.

Speaking of Kevin Smith, today the Jay and Silent Bob UK Tour was announced. I have to say that I’m extremely disappointed that Scotland isn’t on the tour. It’s something that happens regularly with touring acts, they announce a UK tour but leave Scotland out. It gets frustrating after a while and eventually it will get to the point where I stop caring.

This years seems to be passing by far too fast, something that isn’t new. Every year passes fast but as year arrives they seem to disappear quicker than the one previous. It reached a point the other day where I started looking back at previous years and thinking to myself “that was 16 years ago” or “that was 20 years ago, it only feels like 2 years”. It’s scary how quickly time passes, soon it will be gone and I’ll be a decrepit old man roaming around the streets talking to myself about the days when Ipods and Ipads were popular.

On a final note, as most people will know I’m not the mst patient when it comes to waiting for American shows to air over here (I can’t even wait 19 hours for the Walking Dead) so it should come as no surprise that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is always on my Wednesday morning “to do” list. This weeks S.H.I.E.L.D was an excellent episode. I love anything with Asgardians, the trouble these days is that with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I was worrying that Thor would be the only one to get any sort of exposure and so it was great to see Lady Sif and Lorelei this week. Lorelei has always fascinated me as a character and seeing her brought to life was brilliant.

How memories work…

Memories are peculiar things. Similar to paintings, they become cracked and distorted over time. The older the memory becomes the less clear it appears.

The thought occurred to me when I was recently speaking to an old school friend about something that happened when we were around the age of 13. As we progressed further into the conversation we both realised that our recollections of that particular event were slightly different. While both of us were certain that our own memory was the most factual series of events, we decided to ask someone else who was with us at the time. Strangely, when we got the third person to recount their memories they also had a different perception. This struck me as odd. All three of us had a very lucid memory of the exact same event and yet each memory was divergent.

Have you ever watched an old family video and thought “I don’t remember that”
I have, and I always seem to think it every time I watch one. Slowly but surely I have probably unknowingly rewritten the events from those videos in my mind and that’s why they always seem different when I view the recorded version.

I wonder how many of our most important memories have become distorted over time. The memories that we cling on to and the ones that make us smile.

I quite clearly remember the moment that my daughter was born or at least I think I do. Upon trying to envision the entire thing, I can’t. I can tell you that I was in the room, her mother was in the room (obviously, that would be some strange birth if she wasn’t) and that there were some other people. I can’t tell you who the other people were, I can’t tell you how many of them there were. I can’t remember anything that really happened in that room besides 3 small specific moments, which I now wonder if they happened exactly the way I remember them.

There are two quotations about memories which I think sums it up pretty well. The first is;

“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.”

A quote by a man named Thomas Fuller.
I truly believe that is an accurate description. Memories are just leftovers, they’re never the full picture. If I had a 12 inch pizza in front of me and it was untouched then no matter what way I looked at it, it would always be the same pizza, the same shape. If I cut that pizza up and eat 3/4 of it, what’s left of it can move around the plate, it can be moved into different positions and and even different shapes. The original shape in its entirety is now gone and I’m left with what’s left behind. I still know that it’s the pizza that was there at the beginning but it doesn’t resemble what was there to start with.

The other quotation is;

“Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events.”

I feel that this one is fairly self explanatory. As a result of most of memory being distorted our mind automatically tries to fill in the blank spaces and ultimately we believe it to be true. If there is one thing that the human mind is programmed to believe then it is itself.

I am no expert on the human mind, as a matter of fact I know nothing about what sits inside the human skull or any other skull for that matter. A small part of me wishes that I did because the human mind fascinates me. The way we perceive things and the way we use logic is truly remarkable.

I’m sure that there are a lot of studies on memories and how they work and why they change. I should probably have researched them and made this blog more educational but the truth is I don’t want to know. I’ve studied many things over the years, I’ve been educated in a variety of wonders and I enjoy it, I enjoy learning new things. When it comes to my mind, as much as it fascinates me,I prefer the wonder and mystique of why it does what it does.

The human mind created Doctor Who, Comics and beer…..I don’t need to know how it works as long as it keeps doing what it’s doing.

Grab a damn dictionary.

So we have now reached 2014 and 2013 is now over. I have to say that I’m rather indifferent to the whole “year change”

At the end of every year I witness people proclaiming that “next year will be better” and “next year will be different” and while that may be true for many, I don’t buy into it. The only thing I look forward to each year is new Doctor Who, Falling Skies and Comics.

This year I did make one resolution, a first for me in a good number of years. I gave up making resolutions years ago because I always break them within a matter of days. I used to make all the usual ones i.e “I’ll stop smoking” or “I’ll go to the gym more” and that kind of nonsense. This year I decided it was time to make a resolution again, more so for the people around me. I have a reputation of being slightly grumpy at times, and I’m not afraid to tell people when they annoy me. So this year I thought I would make the resolution to refrain from being as grumpy and more so I would refrain from telling people just how much they irritate me.

I am proud to say that two days in to the year 2014 my resolution attempt has so far lasted……..not very long at all. In fact, it lasted all of thirty minutes from the time I woke up yesterday morning.

Why?

Illiteracy, that’s why. Now don’t get me wrong I in no way proclaim to be the most grammatically correct or literate person in the world. There have been a few aberrations on my behalf over the years when I have written something.

What I do proclaim is that I have a basic grasp of the English language. Something which I was under the illusion that most people had a grasp on.

I’m pretty certain that most of you will have come across some of the illiterate people in your lifetime. It seems that now, with the rise of social media and texting, they are increasing in numbers.

At some point in your casual exploration I have little doubt that you will come across the people who do not understand the difference between the word “of” and the word “have” this in particular is a pet hate.

For example what should be a simple sentence such as:
“We should have taken the motorway”

suddenly becomes:
“We should of taken the motorway”

Now, can anyone explain to me exactly how that second sentence makes sense?

There are numerous other examples. Recently I have noticed a substantial rise in the amount of people who seem unable to spell the words “sense” or “angel” instead these words become “sence” and “angle”

Now I don’t know about you, but if I had an angle atop my Christmas tree, I don’t think it would have the same feel to it as an angel.

To sum up what I’m getting at……..I suck at New Years resolutions.

A touch of the Man Flu

Today I appear to have been afflicted by that terrorising illness known only as man flu. As I type I can feel it attacking my nervous system and creating weakness in every part of my body. It’s at times like these when I wish I had some form of super power to protect me from illness. Nobody likes being ill but I absolutely hate it. If I get ill in the middle of the year I can normally cope, I just battle through it and get on with what I’m doing, hell this year I battled through it and went to a festival. When I get ill between October and February my body just shuts down, it’s a horrible feeling and I get annoyed at the slightest of things. 

On a plus side, being ill today allowed me to catch up on the New 52 Justice League. I had previously only reached issue 6 but I’m now all caught up and as much as I’m looking forward to the next issue I’m not impatient about it. Again that’s probably just my lack of enthusiasm for anything from DC or that involves Superman. The JLA comics have had some pretty good stories in them so far and the art work is just striking, I’ve actually found myself just staring at some pages and admiring the pencil work on a number of pages. If I’m totally honest though I was much more into the “Shazam” stories that were added at the end of each issue. I always did like DC’s Captain Marvel so it was good to have that thrown in and have it as an origin story, although I don’t like this total change to the name Shazam. Granted it’s what he was known as before but up until 2012 he was always officially Captain Marvel. 

One reason I do like the Justice League is for Green Lantern, and I don’t know why. I wouldn’t exactly call him a favourite of mine but I hold a soft spot for him. Green Lantern was my first ever introduction to comic books when I was a toddler so I always look at him as my gateway. All-American Comics #16 is my dream comic to own but truthfully I will probably never have the cash to buy a copy unless somewhere down the line I either win the lottery or write a best selling novel, both of which are as likely as Spider-man showing up in the Justice League Watchtower with cakes and Ribena.

Of course the other thing that could get me enough money to own a copy of All-American Comics #16 would be to write a best selling Comic, but alas my drawing skills are non-existent. So for now it looks like I shall have to be resigned to lying on the couch with the man flu, a bottle of Irn-Bru and Bill Bailey DVDs.

 

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Superior Spider-man

When The Amazing Spider-man run ended at issue 700 I was a bit weary about where it would go next. Peter Parker was dead, Octavius had his mind in Spideys body and for all intents and purposes that could have been the end of the Spider-man comics. Spider-man defeated by Doc Oc in his last battle and then it ends.

Now however we have the Superior Spider-man series which pretty much picks up from where “Amazing” left off. I’ve been following this new run all year and I have to say that I absolutely love it. In my opinion it is by far the best storyline that Spider-man has had in quite sometime. We have Doc Oc running around trying to be a superior Spider-man and whilst he’s saving people and putting the villains out of business he’s doing it in the most polar opposite way to what Parker would have done.

So far we’ve had Spider-man kill Menace, create his own army, build robo-spiders, sever all ties with MJ, create some form of alliance with Jameson and we’ve even witnessed the mind of Doc Oc battle the conciousness of Peter Parker. All in all it’s making for some great reading. On top of that, the art work is phenomenal as it always is.

My only question is how long can this arc last? I’m thoroughly enjoying it and each issue is better than the last and occasionally we get a fantastic cliffhanger which makes me so impatient for the next issue that I attempt to draw my own. Although I have to admit my attempt at drawing Spider-man swinging through the streets looks more like a hot-dog lying on a bed of spaghetti.

There’s only so long you can keep Peter Parker dead without losing an army of fans. For me I don’t see it ever getting old, I am completely loving this new set up. It takes Spider-man to a whole new darker level but at the same time it keeps many of the fundamentals of the character. Gone however are the comedic one liners, which is mentioned a few times in the series. We also have the face off between Spider-man and the Avengers when they figure out that something isn’t right. That alone is an issue worth buying, not for the Avengers but for the writing of it. It’s all very anti-climatic but in a good way as it opens even more doors to the series.

All in all I’m very impressed so far with what we have, Superior Spider-man is a new spin and one that was needed. Lets hope that the quality keeps up because I’m completely immersed in it. I wonder if we’ll see a new form of Venom in this run…………

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