From today's newspaper funnies (remember those?):
From today's newspaper funnies (remember those?):
If you're read my tribute to Captain America at The Good Men Project, you know how inspired I am by him--and if you know me personally, it won't surprise you that I was fighting back tears through the entire movie. That was my Captain America up on that screen; the movie was pitch-perfect in capturing all of his virtues: honor, courage, humility, and heroism. If you've seen the preview footage of the basic training grenade scene, that's just the tip of the iceberg--get ready for much more.
Now I'll get into some details, so mild spoilers after the jump...
The last two of three pieces I wrote on Captain America this week are up today: I discuss why I find Cap personally inspiring at The Good Men Project, and ask if his ethics are too antiquated for the modern day at Psychology Today.
And don't forgot yesterday's op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune (reprinted in this morning's Washington Times), as well as my chapter on Cap and modesty in the free (FREE!) Wiley ebook, Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture.
This morning, to commemorate the inital showing of Captain America: The First Avenger at San Deigo Comic-Con, the San Diego Union-Tribune graciously printed an op-ed I wrote titled "Captain America reminds nation of shared values," in which I argue that Cap can help Americans see the values and virtues that they hold in common--our core principles--rather than the policy differences that separate us.
[UPDATE: The Washington Times also printed the op-ed on Friday.]
While you're at it, check out this commentary on my op-ed from The Displaced Plainsman, as well as my chapter on Captain America and modesty in the free e-book Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture. (And, of course, the lovely George Perez portrait of Cap to the right!)
I hope to have two more Captain America pieces online tomorrow--stay tuned!
While this week is mostly about getting ready for the release of Captain America: The First Avenger on Friday, today is all about Daredevil #1 by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Marco Martin, and their amazing friends.
I'm actually surprised how much I loved this book. Like many people, I'm a big fan of the Miller, Bendis, and Brubaker runs on Daredevil, which often matched Matt's personality to Hell's Kitchen itself, doing as much to define grim and gritty, noirish comics as the last 35 years of Batman have. (To be fair, the humor in Miller's Daredevil is too often forgotten.) It was taken too far during Shadowland, which by implication had to be the last straw, a "Born Again" on steroids; I don't know how Matt could have gotten any darker than he did during that period.
Starting today, we truly have a Matt Murdock turning a corner in his life, deciding that he's through with despair. The last page of Daredevil #1 makes this explicit; I don't want to spoil it, so please read it for yourself. All throughout the book we see a confident, charming, and even slightly cocky and lightly sarcastic Matt--and even when he seems to go far with this, he has a reason (such as during the wedding scene familiar from the previews). I don't laugh outloud at comics very often (with the exception of Gail Simone's Secret Six, of course), and I can't remember the last time I laughed while reading a Daredevil comic, but I was chuckling and grinning the entire time I was reading Daredevil #1, which felt fantastic.
It's also that most elusive of comic books, the Holy Grail of the current market: a great jumping-on point for new readers. It doesn't erase complicated continuity or "modernize" any aspects of the characters or visuals; it simply is an approachable and enjoyable story in which all crucial background for the characters and story is sprinkled throughout (plus a one-page origin recap written by Fred Van Lente to start things off). Even Matt's repeated denials of being Daredevil to people who know better are supplemented with just enough detail from Bendis' run to explain the humor.
And while the art on Daredevil has tended toward the realistic and gritty as well, especially with the amazing work of Alex Maleev and David Lark during the Bendis and Brubaker runs, Rivera and Martin could not be more different. Reminding me of Dave Gibbons in its simplicity and clarity, but with innovative layouts all their own, these two incredible artists make Matt and his perception of the world around him jump of the page. And while it's obvious to focus on the way Rivera depicts Matt's radar sense or the way Martin highlights the sounds and smells of New York City that capture Matt's attention, they also do a wonderful job on the rest of the book. Along with colorists Javier Rodriguez and Muntsa Vicente, they give the cast, surroundings, and situations a refreshing burst of life, color, and--dare I say it--joy.
Just as Matt starts to rediscover joy, so do the readers of Daredevil. Waid, Rivera, and Martin are off to a fantastic start--if any of DC's New 52 relaunches are carried off half this well, I'll be very happy indeed.
From DC's The Source we get press-friendly news about Superman's new status come September, including his very own "One More Day"-style marriage annulment (starring Barry Allen in the role of Mephisto, I'm sure), news that his alien nature will be emphasized over the quest for humanity (at least in Action Comics, which tells stories of his early days as Superman), and this wonderful nugget:
Timeless and modern, classic and contemporary, but younger, brasher and more brooding, this is Superman. The New Man of Tomorrow.
I wonder how "brash and brooding" (never mind "more" brooding--he wasn't brooding in the first place!) is going to sit alongside "noble and heroic." Oh wait--I think I know. (And remember, Supergirl will reportedly be much worse.) Tomorrow ain't looking so bright, my friends... but we do have collars and knee pads, "these are a few of my favorite things." (Ha!)
Ironic that we have to turn to Marvel, the home of brash and brooding, to find a prominent example of "old-fashioned" nobility among superheroes: Steve Rogers, once again Captain America. (If you have not checked out Brubaker and McNiven's new Captain America #1, out last Wednesday, be sure you do.) Even though I'm a lifelong DC fan at heart, I'm starting to say "Make Mine Marvel" a lot more often these days...
By the way, be sure to check out my chapter on Captain America and modesty in the new free Kindle book, Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture, just released by Wiley (see more here). Also in it: a new chapter on mercy and punishment in Asgard, my original chapter on whether Batman should kill the Joker, and much more...
And did I mention this is my 100th post at the new Comics Professor site? Please, no gifts--no, really--but spread the word far and wide...
Wiley just released their free Kindle book, Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture, featuring one chapter from each of the superhero-themed books in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, including the forthcoming titles on Superman and the Avengers, as well as two new and exclusive chapters, written by yours truly, on Captain America and Thor.
Here are the contents:
PART ONE: Superheroes Exclusives
1: Lord Odin Have Mercy: Justice and Punishment in Asgard—Mark D. White
2: Captain America and the Virtue of Modesty—Mark D. White
PART TWO: DC Superheroes
3: Is Superman an American Icon?—Andrew Terjesen (from Superman and Philosophy—edited by Mark D. White)
4: The Blackest Night for Aristotle’s Account of Emotions—Jason Southworth (from Green Lantern and Philosophy— edited by Jane Dryden and Mark D. White)
5: Why Doesn’t Batman Kill the Joker? —Mark D. White (from Batman and Philosophy, edited by Mark D. White and Robert Arp)
6: Can We Steer This Rudderless World? Kant, Rorschach, Retributivism, and Honor—Jacob M. Held (from Watchmen and Philosophy, edited by Mark D. White)
PART THREE: Marvel Superheroes
7: Forgivers Assemble! —Daniel P. Malloy (from Avengers and Philosophy, edited by Mark D. White)
8: Does Peter Parker Have a Good Life? —Neil Mussett (from Spider-Man and Philosophy, edited by Jonathan J. Sanford)
9: The Stark Madness of Technology—George A. Dunn (from Iron Man and Philosophy, edited by Mark D. White)
10: Amnesia, Personal Identity, and the Many Lives of Wolverine—Jason Southworth (from X-Men and Philosophy, edited by Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski)
This is great: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal takes an extremely practical approach to the life of Superman, part of it resembling Mahesh Ananth and Ben Dixon's chapter titled "Should Bruce Wayne Have Become Batman?" from Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul (questioning whether superheroics are the morally best use of Bruce Wayne's wealth and time).
Thanks to Newsarama for bringing us news of the new Huntress mini-series starting in October:
DC has also exclusively revealed the Levitz-written, Marcus To and John Dell-drawn The Huntress five-issue series that also debuts in Month 2 of the DCnU...
Paul Levitz has something of a history with the character, as he's credited with Joe Staton and Bob Layton for co-creating (in 1977) the Helena Wayne version of the Gotham City-based vigilante (daughter of the pre-Crisis Earth Two Batman and Catwoman). That version was killed during 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, her existence erased from the new post-Crisis unified timeline, and she was replaced with the similarly-looking Helena Bertinelli version, now the daughter of a Gotham crime boss.
This 2011 revamp Huntress apparently has Italian roots, as DC reports she heads "home" to Italy to embark on a life-defining mission in this series, suggesting the DCnU version of the Huntress will likely remain Helena Bertinelli. It appears she will also continue to have ties with the Birds of Prey in the upcoming months.
A great character with tremendous potential--hopefully they don't erase or "revamp" much of her rich backstory, especially her recent Year One mini.
I came across this terrific blog post by Carol Borden at The Cultural Gutter, comparing Catman (from Gail Simone's tragically cancelled Secret Six series) to Batman, as well as to Dexter from the Showtime series. Not having watched Dexter (but intrigued after reading her post), I was more interested in what she had to say about Catman and Batman. Here's just a sampling:
Thomas Blake plays with the idea of being Batman. ... Blake seems to believe being a hero requires physical skill and being a good person, and he is a good person. ... Like Dexter, Blake recognizes a code’s importance. Heroes have codes. But where Dexter—like Batman—actually has one, Blake is enamored again by the idea rather than the content. He believes in loyalty to the Six, until he betrays them in favor of his own needs.
She explains how Catman is disappointed when he realizes Batman is truly just a man, because he needs him to be more, perhaps to justify why Catman isn't the hero he really wants to be.
He believes it is easy for heroes like Batman to do the right thing, making Bake’s intentions—his desire to do good, his belief that he is a good person despite being a victim of circumstance—paramount to him. If things had been different, Catman would be like Batman, too, because Blake believes he really wants to be.
Except when he doesn’t.
A fascinating read, and definitely a blog to watch!