The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How To Talk To a Magneto Revisionist (If You Must).

Oh, I'm stepping in it now.

Myth: Magneto has seen the worst that humanity is capable of. He lost his family in the Holocaust and is trying to prevent just such a thing from happening again.

Fact: This is true, I don't disagree with it. But his methodology is monstrous. He is willing to do just that, but by any means necessary. Well, I have to ask: where is the line? He thinks this can be best accomplished by conquering humanity. As a Jew myself, I understand and appreciate the concept of "never again." But that also includes not doing it to others.

Myth: While Magneto is willing to push the genocide button as a last resort, he doesn't particularly want to.

Fact: Again, all true. But the fact that he is still willing to do it is what makes him a villain. If he really doesn't want to play that card then DON'T BE WILLING TO PLAY THAT CARD! There are plenty of other ways to get your point across. Hell there are plenty of violent ways to get your point across while being a violent revolutionary or terrorist. The IRA (as bad as they are) doesn't want to kill everyone in England, and hasn't tried. They just want the English out of Ireland.

Myth: In Magneto's ideal world, humans were still allowed to live in freedom alongside a mutant majority.

Fact: That was the House of M. But even then, while they still had "rights" in name, they were still treated as second class citizens. In the world of the House of Magnus, being a normal human was like being a black person in the deep south.

Myth: Magneto has had normal humans for friends and lovers. He still loves and cherishes his wife, Magda.

Fact: So some of Magneto's best friends are humans?

Myth: The worst atrocities Magneto ever committed were by an impostor.

Fact: Oh boy, here we go. At the time of Grant Morrison's run, that was Magneto. Marvel Editorial had no problem with it. And keep in mind, this was after Magneto's mutant nation of Genosha was destroyed and many millions of mutants lost their lives. I can easily buy that Magneto snapped, went nuts, and said "this is it, never again! If the humans want this war, I will bring it back to them!" and then proceeded to destroy New York and murder thousands of regular humans in retaliation. In the process, he became the exact thing he hated.

Sigh, the sad fact is this. There are only two directions you can go with Magneto. You can have him truly reform, or you can have him fall into darkness. When you write a character who walks that line, you can't keep that up perpetually. Something's gotta give at some point. Marvel reformed Magneto in the 80's and then brought him back to where they thought he was most marketable. The same thing happened after Grant Morrison left the book. This wasn't retconned because Marvel thought Magneto was out of character, this was retconned because they didn't want to lose their biggest franchise (at least at the time)'s most popular villain. And since the death Morrison gave him was pretty irreversible as far as comic book deaths go, it was an easy out.

And to close this all out...

Fact: Magneto is one of the all time great villains in comics. Yes, we do understand him. Yes we do feel for him. That's the way it should be with great villains. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse to white wash them. The lesson is that under the right or wrong circumstances, anyone can go this way. That there is no excuse to become a monster. That you can't make things worse and hope to make things better.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Absolutely Livid

Yes, I know that this controversy is well over a year old. But I was talking to an acquaintance of mine about the political rhetoric in this country, and then that led to discussing the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and Sarah Palin's map with all the cross hairs on it and her slogan "Don't retreat, reload." Let me preface this right now, I don't blame Sarah Palin for what happened, for the actions of a crazy person. I think the guy was just a lunatic with a gun who got in and did something really tragic. But what Sarah Palin did after that, when she released her "don't blame me" video was truly disgusting.

I know this blog doesn't normally talk about politics. I consider myself to be a progressive libertarian, I am voting for Gary Johnson this November. So don't call this a pro-Obama post. It is not. This is Greg's Blog of Clue-By-Fours, and as I can deliver a clue-by-four to a movie decades old, I can smack this subject with one too, if I want. Don't like it, go elsewhere. Besides, Sarah Palin has transformed herself into an object of pop culture entertainment, she is fair game.

If Sarah Palin truly wanted to appear presidential, she would have admitted that maybe the rhetoric had gotten too heated and agreed that maybe it was time to dial it back a bit. She did no such thing, rather she used the phrase "blood libel" when defending herself. Do you know what "blood libel" means? It was a common phrase throughout European history. Usually started locally, rumors would fly that Jews were cooking Christians in pots as part of their secret religious rituals. Thousands of Jews were butchered or burnt at the stake because of this. But, I digress, this is not what has me livid this time. What pissed me off the most is how she took this tragedy and made it all about her. She whined and whined and whined about it. Yeah, that's presidential behavior.

I guarantee you that if David Letterman, as a joke, put her daughter, Bristol's, face behind cross hairs up on a website with a big scope that said GO GET HER, Goddess Sarah here would be on every network, on every talk show whining about it. She'd be whining about how the media persecutes her. How the media is out to get her. Never mind that she is the biggest media whore of the last century! When they don't cover her, she throws a tantrum. And there are people who want her to be president. She takes no responsibility for her actions. The fucker.

Cross hairs. Fucking cross hairs. I wouldn't do that to my worst enemy. Who does that? What else could that possibly mean? You want that person taken out!

Everyone is entitled to a voice. I don't mind that she has one. I don't mind that she's on Fox News, and as I've said, I don't blame her for what happened. But the fact that this knuckle dragging troglodyte has such a huge following disturbs me to no end. There are Republicans I admire, like Senator John McCain, just to name an example. So don't paint me as anti-Republican because I'm not. I'm anti-politician in general, mostly. I give Obama just as much crap as I gave Bush. She has that voice, and she uses it to whine. That's all she does. Whine! Whine! Whine! Wah! Wah! Wah!

But, and this is an open message to Sarah in the tiny chance you or any of your people ever stumble upon my microscopic corner of the web:

"Listen, you fucking scabby piece of moronic, moose jizz, nobody is out to get you! If anything, you're the one out to get people! So go die in a fire, you fucking cunt!!!"
And people want her to be president. I'd vote for every one I ever encountered on the internet and gave shit to before I'd ever vote for her. I'd vote for Michael Bay and Jeph Loeb before I ever voted for her.

Again, I apologize for this post. But after that discussion with an individual who will remain anonymous, I was absolutely livid and had to blast this somewhere.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Demona: My Theory

Demona as Lady Macbeth by D.Taina.

Warning, this post is one of total fanboy self-indulgence.

So, anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of the character of Demona from "Gargoyles." I will say with a straight face that she is one of the greatest characters in the realm of fiction, and probably the greatest villain ever put to animation. I have given this character a lot of thought over the years, and have been refining my thoughts and predictions on where Greg Weisman plans to take her should he get another chance.

Here's what we know about her role in the proposed spin-off, "Gargoyles 2198."
DEMONA - For over a thousand years, Demona has plotted against humanity, blaming them for crimes against the gargoyle race. Now that a greater threat, the Space-Spawn, has reared it's many ugly heads, Demona has reluctantly joined Samson's resistance cell. But no one, including Demona herself, is fully confident that she'll continue to fight on the side of the angels. This may be her last chance at redemption... or her final opportunity to annihilate the human race. Still, Samson felt it necessary to actively recruit her. It's hard to pass up the help of a warrior who's survived a millennium's worth of battles, a sorceress who knows how to combine ancient magic with modern technology. And then there's that bit about her turning into a human during the day. The only question is how she will use her talents. For now, she's siding with the resistance. But can that last?
You can read the rest of it here.

Okay, D.Taina's artwork, based on Greg Weisman's Weird Macbeth idea (an idea I am longing to see animated) had me dig through the archives to find this little gem.

Anonymous writes...
Hi there. You recently said that Demona is in for a "true epiphany" eventually. What exactly does this mean? Will she realize her errors or go mad?
Greg responds...
Maybe a little of both.
In William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," after Lady Macbeth pushes her husband to murder Duncan in his sleep and take the throne, guilt begins to gnaw at her to the point that she goes mad. She sleepwalks, she is constantly washing blood off her hands that only she can see. Greg Weisman, and the show itself, often equated Demona to Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth, whom the real historical Lady Macbeth (Gruoch) was nothing like. Greg also said that Demona was destined for two more great loves. Let's combine this info, Greg's apparent love of symmetry in his storytelling with the 2198 blurb.

My thoughts have always been that the Space-Spawn would make Demona an offer, she would betray the Resistance, and this would lead to something far worse than the massacres of her clans. And in this moment, she would have her epiphany and finally do the right thing. Once the action calms down, I could easily see her retreating into guilt as all her sins have hit her and she faces what she's done. Demona has always had a guilt complex as big as Peter Parker's, but instead of internalizing it, like he does, she spreads it to everybody else. A fate very similar to Lady Macbeth's.

My theorized relationship between her and Macbeth* would come after (or during the latter part of) this, of course. But I suspect a ton of guilt, pain and a lot of mental and emotional healing will come with the package. This is two centuries away. Goliath is dead, Xanatos is dead, Angela is dead, etc. She has a lot to be guilty about as it is now, and I'm sure since she is her own worst enemy, until the moment comes she'll keep adding to it. Greg always said he believed in redemption, and as far as we know, she's destined for it. But it won't come easy. Nor should it come easy.

I still maintain hope that through new comics, or god willing a 90's nostalgia wave, we get "Gargoyles: 2198" and I finally see the end of my favorite character's story.

* Greg said that on his entire timeline, there is only one other human/gargoyle relationship besides Goliath and Elisa, but he won't reveal it. Well, now you know who I think it is. Oh, and this.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How To Talk To a Griffith Revisionist (If You Must).

Myth: Griffith is heroic. The god of the "Berserk" Universe is made up of the desires and will of humanity, so everything Griffith does is divine, well, and good.

Fact: Ahem....


Thanks to Algernon for this one.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three of My Favorite Things

Because I am a gigantic nerd about all three things. The world needs more Shakespeare, I think.

And for those wondering where the monologues are from:

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" - Glory Grant
From Macbeth, Act IV, scene 1. Spoken by the Second Witch when Macbeth approaches.

"Presume not that I am the thing I was, for I have turned away my former self" - Harry Osborn
Henry IV, part 2. Act V, scene 5. Spoken by Henry V (formerly Prince Henry, a.k.a. Prince Harry, or Hal) to Falstaff. And the actual quote from the play is:

"Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turned away my former self;
So I will those that kept me company."

"Reputation, Reputation, Reputation. Oh I have lost my reputation, I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial" - Kenny Kong
From Othello, Act 2, scene 3. Spoken by Cassio to Iago.

"Why shoes thou sugar on that bottled spider, who's deadly web ensareth thee about, fool, fool the day will come to curse this venomous bunch bagged toad" - Sha Shan
From Richard III, Act 1, scene 3. Spoken by Queen Margaret to Queen Elizabeth. The actual quote from the play is:

"Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my
Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
Fool, fool! thou whet'st a knife to kill thyself.
The day will come that thou shalt wish for me
To help thee curse this poisonous bunch-back'd toad."

"A villian, villian, smiley cursed villian, at one might smile and smile and be a villian. GO VILLIAN" - Sally
From Hamlet, Act I, scene V. Spoken by Hamlet. The actual lines from the play are:

"O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
My tables! Meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark."

"Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt doth the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt my love" - Mary Jane
From Hamlet, Act II, scene 2. Spoken by Polonius, reading a love letter from Hamlet to Polonius' daughter, Ophelia, to Claudius and Gertrude, King and Queen of Denmark.

"Oh it is excellent to have a giant's strength but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant" - Liz Allan
From Measure for Measure, Act II, scene 2. Spoken by Isabella to Angelo.

"I will be brief, your noble son is mad, mad, call I it. for to define true madness what is to be nothing else but mad" - Flash Thompson
From Hamlet, Act II, scene 2. Spoken by Polonius to Claudius and Gertrude, King and Queen of Denmark.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Ballad of Mike Murdock

When Daredevil became his own fake twin brother.

And so, it begins...

They can't seriously be buying this!

Oh. My. God.

.... maybe this is Mary Jane Watson's secret twin.

Dude. Why?

This is too hilarious for words.

And I spoke way too soon.

Deeper, and deeper, and deeper...

I am convinced this is something George Costanza would have dreamed up.

And yet it's working!!!

Oh god, no.

Obviously there's a lot you would never expect from him, Karen.

You're gonna owe Bullseye a huge favor after Kevin Smith is done writing you.

I, uh.... I've got nothing.

So, let me get this straight. Daredevil pretends to be an inept blind lawyer, who then pretends to be his own twin brother who is pretending to be Daredevil and then dresses up as Thor. Okay.


Dude, stop. Please.

Finally! Maybe "Mike" will be out of our misery!

No, no, no, no, no...

You're not making blonds look good, Karen!!!


Wait?! What?!

So, Daredevil knew what she would say and how to respond hours in advance? And how did his phone answer when it was off the hook?!

Did I mention how much I adore those shades?


All's well that ends well!

And he never dreamed you would one day sell him out for a hit.

And so ends the Ballad of Mike Murdock. To put this into perspective, Daredevil kept this charade going for seventeen issues. This was back in the days before decompresssion.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

REPOST: The Ethics of a Basterd...

So, I've seen "Inglourious Basterds," I love "Inglourious Basterds" and I do what some other fans do, I lurk and read the opinions of others, the thoughts of others, and in this case, I was floored by some of what I was reading. I know that Quentin Tarantino is not for everybody. So, I expected the usual complaints I've read from those who aren't fans of his work. But, I found something else entirely.

People are misinterpreting this movie by saying the Basterds were “savage” and “sadistic” and “as bad as Nazis.”There wasn’t a hidden anti-Semitic message in the movie, Tarantino just wanted to make us think by providing three dimensional characters. But in spite of that, the bad guys were still bad and the good guys were still good.

Was scalping Nazis bad? No, they were already dead. Many bodies became much more mutilated during wars; getting burned, blown up, etc.

Was carving Swastikas into Nazi’s heads bad? No, it was an obvious reply to Nazis who had Star of David tattooed on Jews.

Were they as bad as Nazis? Not by a long shot, the Nazis tortured and killed defenseless civilians for the dumbest reason. The Basterds were there to kill killers.

Yes, I realize some Nazis were drafted and didn’t want to be there but if they had any backbone they would have turned traitor like Hugo Stiglitz. We were not meant admire the “brave” Nazi that got his skull smashed in with a bat. Tarantino was throwing our concept of courage and loyalty into question. That guy was brave and loyal, but who was he loyal to? People should stop holding bravery in such high regards and pay more attention to how good of a person you are. Private Zoller wasn’t such a good person either. He wasn’t “in love” with Shosanna, he just wanted to get in her pants. If found out the truth about her being Jewish he would have ratted her out in a heartbeat.

Hugo Stiglitz was the only good Nazi in this movie. He may be a fictional character but his story was not unique: There were quite a few cases of German soldiers turning traitor when they realized how sick Nazism was. In my opinion Stiglitz was the most heroic character in the movie; I hate it when people say he was a psychopath.

Brad Pitt’s character wasn’t a psycho either; Aldo was justified to his hatred for Nazis. The rope scar on his neck tells us a lot about his past. He has a southern accent and the rural south in the 1940’s was not a pleasant place for Jews or black people. Aldo's rope-scar couldn’t have been from a legal execution because he wouldn’t have survived. It must have been from an attempted lynching by crazed rednecks. He has dealt with anti-Semites before and has a good reason to hate them.

I find my biggest problem with the movie is that I wish it was real. I wish we had plugged Hitler and Goebbels while they sat there masturbating their egos instead of letting them commit suicide.

This movie was about justice. I, for one, cannot muster sympathy for people who commit genocide against another race of people for no other reason than that you feel you are superior. The only German in this movie I felt even a moment's sympathy for was Wilhelm, and even that was mainly for his son.

Even Zoller was about as unsympathetic as it gets. He stalks a woman, brags about his sniping skills and the fact that they made a movie out of it, has her abducted so they can have lunch together, and then forces his way into her projection room so that he can rape her. Anybody who suggests that he was really a nice guy obviously didn't get the point. He could be charming, but he wasn't in the war because he was drafted and didn't want to be there. He was in the war because he was a Nazi.

Now, in real life, if I watched someone get beat in the head with a baseball bat I'd probably throw up. I certainly wouldn't have it in me to do it myself. But there was something very cathartic about watching it happen to a man who willingly sided with a genocidal, racist monster like Hitler.

There are modern-day "peace-mongers" who seem to think that peace at any cost is justifiable. They are wrong. There are evil men who do not wish peace with you. They wish to either rule you utterly or destroy you. Hitler was one of those men. Any who would side with him willingly deserve what they get.

It is beyond backward to look at a film that depicts the oppressed rising up and beating the shit out of their oppressors and declare that they must be "evil" or "as bad as the Nazis." Were they killing and scalping Nazis because they thought themselves superior? No, they were killing and scalping Nazis because the Nazis had done that and worse to them.