As a huge, huge, massively huge fan of all the Marvel Studios films, I was understandably looking forward to Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. The first two Ant-Man films were a blast, Scott Lang was fantastic in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame, and Paul Rudd can literally do no wrong in my eyes.
It was finally released on home video, so I paid my $20 and tonight was the night...
The movie was good. I was entertained. But it was a huge step down from the previous two movies in every way but one.
First of all... the fun was gone. There were humorous bits, but everything was far more serious than what I was expecting, and not in a good way. I think that Marvel put the setup for their upcoming Avengers: The Kang Dynasty movie ahead of letting Ant-Man be Ant-Man. And I don't understand why. The only thing I can guess is that this was the only way Marvel would agree to make the movie, and they ultimately didn't care about making sure the tone of the film was Ant-Man driven. And that's a shame, because yeah... the movies aren't making a billion dollars at the box-office... but they do make money, so why not let them be who they are?
Second of all, the Quantum Realm is 97% of the film, and Ant-Man (as created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe) works better in the Real World. The wacky, weird, bizarre, large stakes stuff can work when the character is surrounded by heroes able to make it work, but alone? Not so much.
I love Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer but they kinda took over the movie. I like the idea of Stature (Cassie Lang) joining the MCU, but she kinda took over the movie too. There just wasn't enough Ant-Man and The Wasp Ant-Man and The Wasp, and that was a bummer for me.
And now to that one thing that was better than the previous two... the villain.
Jonathan Majors is so incredibly talented. Easily the best thing to come out of the film. His every scene is tangibly menacing... while still still being fairly subdued. That's not easy to achieve. This has me really, really excited for the direction that Phase 5 is taking since he's the new Thanos...
BUT THEN Major's domestic abuse charges happened. The woman who filed them has recanted... and his lawyer says there is video evidence to clear him... but his talent agency dropped him and he's been evicted from upcoming movies, which leads me to believe that there's something to the charges after all. I guess we'll find out after his trial. Depending on what happens there, Disney may drop him from all the upcoming movies he was set to appear in, at which point I guess he would be recast. Which would be a darn shame for Kang... but it's not like you can't not cancel the actor if there's evidence he's an abuser.
Ultimately, I'm not sure what this movie was supposed to achieve. I guess it was to introduce Kang, but Loki already did that. And the Kang that was introduced here didn't really tell you anything about Kang except he's a power-mad villain whose a very serious threat. And there are a lot of him coming down the pipe. But that could have been done in ten minutes in a more appropriate film. Devoting an entire Ant-Man movie to it was just way off base and a major misstep.
So... it is what it is.
But it could have been so much more.
NEWSFLASH: Major Layoffs Reported At Amazon And ComiXology.
I am a big comic book fan. I used to be a huge comic book fan. So much a fan that I have a small storage room devoted to housing my massive collection of books. Then the digital age was upon us... I was running out of room to store my comics... and so I made the painful transition from physical printed comics to the digital version that lives on the internet and takes no space at all.
It was a tough transition to make. There's something about the feel... the smell... the experience of reading a real comic book as opposed to staring at a computer or your iPad.
That being said, ComiXology made the experience as good as it could be. I mostly read my comics on a computer with a large screen so I could experience them as full page spreads as the artist (and God) intended. On an iPad I usually use "GuideView" which presents the comics panel-by-panel. Once I got my 12.9-inch iPad Pro it was a little easier to read full pages, but I often decided not to.
Then Amazon bought ComiXology.
And things were fine at first. You still went to ComiXology, you just signed in with your credentials from Amazon. Everything was fine.
Until it wasn't.
Amazon eventually folded ComiXology into their Kindle app, and it was fucking awful. Horrendous experience from start to finish. Even finding your comics was a shitty experience. I fucking hated it so much that I pretty much stopped buying digital comics. Now I only bother when something I want to read is on sale. Instead I wait for the trade paperback to be released and wither buy a physical copy or check it out from the library.
Amazon fucking destroyed ComiXology.
And though improvements have been made, it still sucks compared to the ComiXology experience that I bought into.
Now, to the surprise of absolutely nobody who has had to suffer through reading comics on Kindle, profits are down so Amazon is laying off a chunk of their "ComiXology" team (though why they call it that when they murdered ComiXology in favor of Kindle I have no idea).
I feel bad for the ComiXology team members losing their job because Amazon management fucked over their product so bad that nobody wants to use it. That's not fair. But that's Amazon for you. Jeff Bezos probably wants another super-yacht, so he's getting rid of a bunch of people so he doesn't have to dip into his $120 billion (or whatever).
And isn't that the way it always goes? People with insane wealth that they could never spend in dozens of lifetimes making life utterly miserable for people scratching out a living? Just look at Twitter.
The trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever landed on Monday. I am still processing.
Because while I am excited to visit that world again (especially to see Okoye and M'Baku)... there is something a whole lot bigger that has me very excited for the movie.
And it's Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner.
It's one thing to see movie stills where he's standing there looking cool as all getout... it's quite another to see him in action, winged feet and all. I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THIS...
Namor (AKA "The Sub-Mariner") has a long and complex history in the Marvel comic books (created in 1939!). His pink skin is inherited from his father (the Atlanteans are normally blue) but he's unique in one other very important way... he's a mutant. To be more precise... he's Marvel's first mutant. His ability to fly comes from neither his human or Atlantean side, and so this skill (along with his winged feet) are a mutation (which is kinda a huge deal in Marvel's comics, and soon to be a big deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe)...
In the comics Namor bounces back and forth between being villain and hero (which I think has been explained by some kind of oxygen imbalance due to his Atlantean/human physiology). And it sure looks like that's the path he will be taking in Wakanda Forever as well. It is heavily implied that Namor is going to kill Ramonda (Black Panther's mom, amazingly portrayed by Angela Bassett), and this is what drives Shuri to become the new Black Panther (as seen at the end of the trailer).
Though, to be honest, I really hope that Shuri isn't the new Black Panther... I hope that honor goes to girlfriend (and perhaps widow) Nakia. Her fighting skills make her a far more suitable choice, and I think that Lupita Nyong'o would absolutely kill it in the role.
But anyway... Namor. I want to see him everywhere. I want him to guest-appear in other movies. I want him in his own movies. I want him in a Disney+ series. Just one more piece of my childhood slamming home, and I want to have a steady stream of appearances.
Because I'm greedy like that.
Sandman (on Netflix) is a fantastic adaptation of one of my favorite comic book series. And something I never thought I'd see happen despite numerous attempts to turn it into movies.
The 10-episode series is loyal to the source material... almost to a fault. There are segments which blew by in the comic at a brisk pace which have been dragged out to tedium to fill a one-hour runtime, and it hurt the series a bit. As an example, I wish I could have watched the fifth episode in 3X speed instead of the Netflix max of 1.5X because it was so slow and so tedious... attempting to fill 50 minutes with material that would have been a stretch at 20.
Much ado has been made about the "gender-swapping" and "race-swapping" of various characters. This is a bunch of rubbish, because these are not real-life people being portrayed, but fictional characters. "Death" being Black doesn't change a thing, and the actor they got to play her is fantastic, which is all that really matters...
Probably the biggest "controversy" (if you can call it that) was casting Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer. Now, in the comic book, it was never a secret that Neil Gaiman based his Lucifer on David Bowie at his most androgynous. So casting a woman... especially one as incredibly talented and nuanced as Gwendoline Christie... is not a stretch at all. I mean just look at this...
The casting of this series is impeccable... with one minor exception. I thought Patton Oswalt was distracting as Matthew (much as I love him in other stuff). But otherwise even small roles were cast with such care, and it enriched the series in every way.
So... yeah... worth the wait.
If you're a fan of the comic, you've likely already watched it. If not? Worth a look for sure.
The heat is on and my air conditioning is struggling to keep up... and so am I! But never fear... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• SPACE LEGO! LEGO is re-releasing a couple of their most popular sets from days past, but updating them with modern pieces so that they appeal to modern LEGO consumers. The one I am sorely tempted to get is the "Galaxy Explorer"... one of my favorite sets of all time...
It looks so good. Similar to what made the old set so great... but with some very cool changes. But, alas, that's a wad of cash I don't have burning a hole in my pocket!
• Day-Old Goodness! Why is it that baked spaghetti always tastes better the next day? Yesterday I made garlic bread from scratch and put together a nice baked spaghetti to go with it. The stuff was amazing. But today's lunch? Even better!
I cook spaghetti as usual... but make my own sauce so I can use tomato paste instead of thinner tomato purée. Mix it together with the noodles and cheese. Put into an oven-proof container with lid (I use a large skillet), then bake at 325º for a half-hour. That way you get a lovely dry "sauce" that's really concentrated and sticking to the noodles instead of making a wet, sloppy mess everywhere. I top with toasted almond slices, parmesan, diced chives and Italian parsley. Food of the gods!
• A Legend Passes. I forgot to mention last Bullet Sunday how sad I was to learn that legendary comic book artist Tim Sale passed away. The guy was only 66, so this is a tough loss to take. Tim Sale was highly gifted, and worked on some characters and titles that cemented his upper-echelon status with fans. Rest in peace, sir.
• ALEXA, STOP!!! Alexa used to be so good. But then Amazon Alexa added a bunch of shitty bloat that nobody gives a crap about to fuck over the service. She regularly gets simple requests wrong now EVEN WHEN SHE UNDERSTANDS WHAT YOU SAID, whereas Google Assistant ACTUALLY WORKS. Embarrassing as fuck for Amazon to just toss it all away like this. Also? Alexa acknowledged the command in my bedroom (where I’m at)... but then played the song in the bathroom down the hall? WTF?!?
At first I thought... "Well, maybe Amazon Music doesn't have the song?" But nope. There it is...
I never had problems like this even two years ago. Now it's almost every day.
• Mr. Bats! I've shared this video before. But this morning I ran across it again and was compelled to share it again because it's one of the most adorable things I've ever seen...
That bat really likes bananas! I've always loved bats, and it's just crazy to me that there are people who don't... especially considering how incredible they are for the environment and controlling pests!
• How Stupid Are We?! Apparently very stupid. We keep ignoring the serious problems facing us. And it's not like there aren't actual solutions out there, it's just that we're not looking into them. Take our disappearing water supply, for example...
God forbid we don't stop building golf courses out in the middle of a dessert and adopt water-saving solutions instead of creating more water-consuming problems.
Enjoy your Summertime Sunday heat without me! I'm stying indoors.
It was announced that George Pérez, one of my favorite comic book writers and artists of all time, has died at 67 years old. The guy had been battling for a while now, so it shouldn't have been unexpected... but it still felt that way. Before I started seeing his work in comics, I didn't really think about the art on the books I read. Some of it was better than others, but I just didn't take much note of it. What I most definitely did take note of was when George started penciling The Avengers at Marvel. His hyper-detailed pages were imaginative, brilliant, and thrilling to look at. I was in love with his work from the moment I first saw it.
Then he was on The New Teen Titans and suddenly the entirety of comic book fandom was taking note. Then he ended up on Justice League and it was comic book heaven for me.
Then came Crisis on Infinite Earths, after which he rebooted Wonder Woman, which I remember thinking was a total waste of his talents at the time. Then the book was actually released, of course I bought it because I bought everything George did, and it ended up being my favorite thing that he ever worked on...
Rest in Peace, sir. You and your work will be very much missed.
To all of George’s fans and friends,
Constance here, with the update no one wants to read. George passed away yesterday, peacefully at home with his wife of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved.
We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives. To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it.
He loved all of you. He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many.
Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator. His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was. George’s true legacy is his kindness. It’s the love he had for bringing others joy - and I hope you all carry that with you always.
Today is Free Comic Book Day. A day George absolutely loved and a fitting day to remember his contributions to comics and to our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy your day today with him in mind. He would have loved that.
Please keep his wife Carol in your thoughts and again, I thank you for respecting her privacy. I remain available through the contact on the page.
George's memorial service will take place at MEGACON Orlando at 6pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It will be open to all. Details to follow.
We will miss him always.
My comic book news day started with good news... Shang-Chi 2 is a go with Marvel Studios. But then I read the gut-wrenching news that brilliant comic book artist George Pérez has inoperable pancreatic cancer with months to live and there was no amount of good news that could compensate.
So many comic books I bought simply because George Pérez was drawing them. I bought every magazine I could find where he discussed his art and career. Every book, every special, every interview, every everything. His revival of Wonder Woman remains my favorite version of the character. His interpretation of The Scarlet Witch remains one of the best super-hero costumes ever created (and the sexiest). And nobody draws a team book like George. Absolutely nobody. There are many comic book artists whom I enjoy... but there's only one George Pérez. And while I am sad to hear of his latest setback, I temper my sadness with the knowledge that his work will live on. He has left us a legacy so amazing that it cannot help but endure.
In other comic book news, The AV Club ranked all the Marvel TV shows. It's kind of hard to take any list seriously that doesn't have The Inhumans in dead-last place... but a lot of their reasoning is sound (except with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which I can never understand how people actually enjoyed). Just for kicks, here's my ranking...
Still trying to wrap my head around The AV Club thinking that Helstrom was somehow worse than The Inhumans.
Last night when I turned on the television so I had background noise running while I work, a movie recommendation popped up. X-Men: Dark Phoenix. I was floored. Why in the hell would they be recommending the worst super-hero comic book movie ever made? And then I was like... wait... second worst. Because first on that list is Wonder Woman '84, and no other movie will likely dethrone it from the top spot.
At least I sure as hell hope not.
It got me to thinking about all the horrible super-hero comic book films that got made, so I thought I'd run through those I remembered.
Yikes. More than I thought I'd remember. It's almost as though I should rewatch all the Marvel Studios movies for the hundredth time so I can have good super-hero comic book movies back in my head.
The news of the day? Taika Waititi is adapting The Incal by Jodorowsky and Mœbius.
This is interesting from any number of viewpoints, not the least of which is that Waititi is one of my favorite directors going. Between What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the guy seems incapable of making a bad film. But holy crap... he's already attached to Akira, Flash Gordon, and a few television series... how does he have the time for all this?
But still, The Incal is a fantastic work, and seeing it adapted into a movie or series seems like a no-brainer...
Kinda timely that this was announced on the heels of the success that Denis Villeneuve's Dune movie is experiencing.
Back before the David Lynch Dune in 1984, Alejandro Jodorowsky was working on a movie of his own based on the novel. His efforts were famously made into a documentary called Jodorowsky's Dune that had some truly amazing ideas that were equal parts interesting and bizarre. The documentary is worth a look, if you have a chance to see it.
Anyway... after his Dune movie fell apart, Jodorowsky took his concepts and reworked them into a series of comics called The Incal (Mœbius having been one of his collaborators for the visuals on Dune). I could explain it, but this really good YouTuber did that for me last year...
And for more, here's Jodorowsky and Taika himself...
Probably won't see anything come of this until 2025, but thems the breaks.
When I first started reading comics in the late 1970's it was nothing serious. Just some old issues that ended up and my grandparents' house (probably from my grandfather's barber shop). It wasn't until 1979 that I actually started buying them and collecting them. In the beginning, it was mostly DC Comics... Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. I did pick up an occasional issues of Spider-Man though. Which is how I became familiar with Marvel's What If...? series. The issue that got me? What If... Spider-Man Had Rescued Gwen Stacy? (as opposed to what actually happened in the comics... Spider-Man's girlfriend dying)...
Hosted by Uatu the Watcher, What If...? speculates on how the entire Marvel Universe might be be changed if one thing were to happen differently. What if Loki had found the hammer of Thor? and What if Dr. Strange had not become Master of the Mystic Arts? and What if Doctor Doom had become a hero? and so-on.
The quality of the stories varied wildly, so I was only a sporadic reader... usually only picking up issues when they were about a character I liked.
Fast-forward to today, and What If...? has come to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the form of an animated feature on Disney+. It feels authentic, because so many of the characters are voiced by the original live-action actors. In the first episode, What If... Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?, Peggy Carter becomes Captain Carter because she chooses to stay in the room where Steve Rogers was being infused with the super-soldier serum instead of leaving. This one event cascades until we don't end up with Captain America... but Captain Carter instead...
Captain Carter is voiced by the original actor Hailey Atwell. Along for the ride is other original actors Stanley Tucci (Dr. Erskine), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), Neal McDonough (Dum Dum Dugan), Toby Jones (Zola), and Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes). Which is incredible, when you think about it. But then there's Steve Rogers, who is not Chris Evans, but instead some other guy. Not so incredible. Having Ross Marquand as The Red Skull is half-way cool, because he did play Red Skull in Avengers: Endgame... but it was Hugo Weaving who originated the character in Captain America.
In any event, the voice cast is exceptional, as you'd expect.
The animation is beautiful. It's quality stuff that looks gorgeous in every scene. Alas, they're using some kind of "flow-motion" to "tween" the frames (in order to make things appear smoother) which causes some weird voice-sync issues when viewed in close-up, but is otherwise fantastic. Money was spent...
It's positively thrilling to see Chadwick Boseman's voice coming out of T'Challa (one last time, alas) and Chris Hemsworth's voice coming out of Thor. And more than a little of a let-down when character voices are recast. I understand scheduling conflicts and such... but come on. They can literally set up a recording booth anywhere so an actor can take an hour out of their day to do lines. So why wouldn't they get all the originals? Unless people like Chris Evans didn't want to do it, which is even more inexplicable. I mean, Steve Rogers wasn't a huge part of this first episode. He probably could have knocked his lines out in 20 minutes and donated the money to charity. But... it is what it is, I guess.
Judging by this first episode, I'm going to enjoy the heck out of this series. Just like the comics, it's fun to see "what might have been" had one little thing happened differently.
Next episode is What If... T'Challa Had Become Star-Lord? And who wouldn't want to see that?