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26. Mysterio Visits the Stately Beat Manor Staff Comics Pull for 7/29/15

Team Beat, a group of the world’s most elite comic book reading/writing forces assembled in the Stately Beat Staff Manor to deliver The Beat — the world’s premiere comic book website. Recently, Marvel and DC characters from decades past have found themselves wandering through the manner including Bessie the Hellcow, Ruby Tuesday, Vibe, Prez and […]

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27. Entertainment Round-Up: Hamill to reportedly voice The Joker again, Jackman teases one last Wolverine film, Okamoto’s role in Batman v Superman revealed, Marvel courting McAdams

Your Tuesday collection of Entertainment headlines

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28. Amazon’s best selling graphic novel for today is…Fart Wars

As you may know, I keep a little feed of Amazon's best selling graphic novels in my desktop, just to see what's charting. It's usually the same seven or eight books—Klling Joke, Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Saga, Fun Home, Persepolis and so on. But this week, along with a strong week for anything by Scott Snyder about Batman, there is a new #1 book, and it comes with a whiff of the new: Fart Wars by J.B. O'Neil. O'Neil who has self published this and several other volumes in The Disgusting Adventures of Milo Snotrocket series, has found a formula so profound it's truly astonishing no one came up with it before: mix one part Star Wars parody, one part Wimpy Kid simple drawing, and 20 parts fart humor and you have something that is smelling, er, selling briskly in the Kindle format.

1 Comments on Amazon’s best selling graphic novel for today is…Fart Wars, last added: 7/27/2015
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29. You Need To Watch: Caldecott-Newbery-Wilder Awards Speeches

I’ve attended the annual conference of the American Library Association every year since 2010, when the conference was in Washington, DC. For whatever reason (probably because it required an expensive banquet ticket), I never attended the Caldecott-Newbery-Wilder Medals banquet, even when the winner was a graphic novel. This year changed that. I was staying at the AYH hostel […]

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30. SDCC ’15: Asaf Hankua & Boaz Lavie Talk Masculinity, Fatherhood, and Endless War in ‘The Divine’

The Divine is a new graphic novel published by First Second created by illustrators Asaf Hanuka (The Realist), Tomer Hanuka (Placebo Man), and writer Boaz Lavie. Asaf and Boaz reside in Tel Aviv, Israel while Tomer lives in New York City. On a hectic Thursday afternoon, I was fortunate to talk to Boaz and Asaf about their new book - unfortunately Tomer was unavailable.

1 Comments on SDCC ’15: Asaf Hankua & Boaz Lavie Talk Masculinity, Fatherhood, and Endless War in ‘The Divine’, last added: 7/28/2015
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31. Z2 Comics launches Modern Prometheus production company

Z2 Comics is on a roll, having announced a new line of graphics novels, a line of periodical comics and now a productions company, Modern Prometheus, which got inked in THR.

1 Comments on Z2 Comics launches Modern Prometheus production company, last added: 7/27/2015
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32. SDCC ’15: Listen to our interviews with the stars of DC and Marvel Television (and Hannibal)

For those of you who don’t know, my fellow Entertainment Editor, Hannah Lodge and I, along with Beat Contributors Harper Harris and Cal Cleary, host a mostly-weekly podcast together for our site, GeekRex (where we also write-up comic and movie reviews, along with the rare television and game piece). For the latest episode, Heidi has been […]

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33. (Preview) Boruto: Naruto the Movie Manga are you a True Fan?

With the incredibly popular manga and anime Naruto coming to an end, (true) fans are being treated to a brand new one-shot featuring Boruto, the son of the titular character in the last series in manga form. With Naruto fulfilling his dreams and becoming the seventh Hokage (the strongest ninja in the Hidden Leaf village,) the […]

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34. Harvey Pekar Park: the complete banners

Specifically Derf Backderf’s Facebook photos which show the event held on Saturday and the transformation of a dilapidated Cleveland park into a new, vibrant space, all honoring one of Cleveland’s not memorable citizens. The park has a plaque (above) but also six banners drawn by Joseph Remnant and designed by Pekar’s widow, Joyce Brabner, that tell […]

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35. EXCLUSIVE Preview: DC’s Gotham by Midnight Annual #1

This Wednesday, July 29th, DC’s Gotham by Midnight Annual #1 will hit store shelves.  This title, written by Ray Fawkes with art by Christian Duce Fernandez, promises to take readers on “a tale of love and vengeance in this centuries-old mystery” featuring the Gentleman Ghost.   The Comics Beat has an exclusive preview.    

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36. You Gotta Hand It To Kevin Feige For This Sneaky Homage!

Last April, Cinema Blend reported that Marvel’s Phase Two movies all share a common trope: So is this a spoiler for Ant-Man… not really. I’m obsessed with Star Wars. Who’s not? I’m 40 years old. I’m in the movie business. I went to USC. So I’m obsessed with Star Wars – and it didn’t start […]

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37. Building a Comics Oasis: How to Stage a Comic-Conglomeration in Vegas

As Comic-Con International approached, the comics media wonders: “Might CCI move from San Diego?” This year it became a more intriguing discussion for Bar-Con, as CCI’s contract with the convention center expired next year, in 2016. My prognostication was: CCI has a great relationship with the City of San Diego. They got a 63% discount […]

8 Comments on Building a Comics Oasis: How to Stage a Comic-Conglomeration in Vegas, last added: 7/28/2015
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38. Harvery Pekar Park dedicated today with fest, installation in Cleveland

Cleveland is getting a park dedicated to its comics laureate, Harvey Pekar, whose long running American Splendor comic captured the quotidian lives of Clevelanders. The celebration will run all afternoon with music and a screening of the film American Splendor (for my money the best comic book movie of all.) The afternoon will see a […]

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39. Convention Center Scorecard: Kansas City, Los Angeles, Boston

It’s not just San Diego which is having problems funding convention center growth. Many other cities, citing city pride and tourism dollars, are trying to attract a finite (if not shrinking) market of trade show business. If tourism boards are smart, they will start to mentor local promoters to stage annual consumer shows, which will […]

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40. Nice Art: Archie #2 Preview: A Burger for Little Jughead

The first issue of Archie rang triumphant in the comic book space with the creative team of Fiona Staples and Mark Waid delivering something akin to an earnest take on a beloved American icon. Archie Andrews is everything but traditional himself nowadays that he’s clean cut and and an earnest comic book lead. There’s no grit on […]

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41. One Book, One Harper Embraces Graphic Novels for College Community Read!

Harper College, located in northwest Chicagoland, is a community college serving 40,000 students. Since the 2011-2012 school year, Harper College has a selected a title as part of their “One Book, One Harper” community read. (A community read is where a local library sponsors a community-wide book club featuring one title which is read and discussed locally. […]

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42. SDCC ’15: We talk cape snaps, controversy and cons with the Batgirl of Burnside team

At SDCC '15 I talked with the Burnside Batgirl crew about their creative origins, how the look that launched a thousand cosplays came to be, how to handle creative criticism, and their earliest con experiences.

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43. Shocker: Paul Rudd admits actual ants died during ‘Ant Man’ filming

Howard Stern fans got a candid interview with Paul Rudd the star of the well received and latest semi-successful Marvel film, “Ant-Man.” The interview took place on Monday after Stern admitted that he tried to buy the film rights because he believed in the character well before anyone else did, and Rudd discussed how he […]

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44. More details on Doctor Who Comics Day: new website and variant covers

We’re less than a month away from the second annual Doctor Who Comics Day on August 15th, and if our SDCC exclusive details on Paul Cornell‘s four Doctor series (not to mention the book’s first six pages) aren’t enough to get you vworping with excitement, check out the recent updates to the tumblr Titan has set up for the occasion. There you’ll find a trailer for the five-part crossover arc (which kicks-off in connection with the Doctor Who Comics Day celebration) featuring Doctor’s Ten through Twelve, their companions, and The War Doctor.

The four Doctor series is illustrated by Neil Edwards (Assassin’s Creed) and officially debuts on August 12th, but you’ll only get the chance to meet Doctor Who comic creators and artists if you drop by a participating store the following Saturday for Doctor Who Comics Day. The tumblr has a list of of the talent you can catch at in-store signings, as well as a peak at the local cosplayers scheduled to appear. Not enough? Most stores will also feature Doctor Who themed giveaways, contests and games.

My favorite two variants so far:

Bohemian Rhapsody inspired Forbidden Planet exclusive cover from Joshua Cassara And Luis Guerrero:

queendoctors

*and*

This lovely nod to the season five episode “Vincent and the Doctor” from David Carr for Twilight Comics:

doctorpainting

 

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45. In Defense of the Little Guy: Three Big Reasons Why You Should Go See Ant-Man

Last weekend, the Paul Rudd led Ant-Man flick took home $58 million, shy of parent company Disney’s estimates of $60-65 million.  This was enough to give it the number one slot that weekend,, but it also gives the insect-inspired hero film the dubious honor of having the second worst opening of any of the MCU movies, beating out only 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which actually had a higher per-screen average than Ant-Man on its opening weekend.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) ..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

Audiences aren’t very interested, and frankly, that’s quite understandable.  The film has been riddled with production issues, the most prominent of which has been the departure of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Cornetto Triology director Edgar Wright.  Known for his outstandingly witty scriptwriting ability and technically dynamic approach to directing, many including myself were excited to see Wright take on a Marvel property and make it his own.  Many turned against Ant-Man when he left the project and never gave it another chance.  I was also one of those people.  Going into opening weekend, I was still bemoaning the loss of the visionary auteur, but I went to see Ant-Man anyways.

To my surprise, Ant-Man didn’t suck.  More than that, the movie was really, really good.  Most importantly, the picture is emblematic of what Marvel films should be in several important ways.   Thus, I’m here to ask you to give this movie a second chance like I did.  I want you to fall in love with Ant-Man too.

[There are no Ant-Man spoilers below, but I do go into a bit of detail on the humor and some of the general story beats. I actually do spoil Marvel movies that came before Ant-Man.]


 

Ant-Man is an awesome genre-bender

Most Marvel movies are relatively simple beat-em-ups.  They’re action movies with a few nice character moments and several large, sprawling set pieces that are inevitably torn apart by a big battle.  However, the Marvel movies that stand out to me are the ones that play with genre.  Captain America: the Winter Soldier is, in my opinion, the best movie to have come out of the MCU.  It’s not just an action movie.  It’s Marvel’s take on a superpowered political thriller.  In a similar vein, Ant-Man isn’t just an action movie about a man who can shrink and control insects with his mind.  Ant-Man is a superpowered heist film in the vein of The Usual Suspects and The Town.

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The entire movie hinges around several “jobs” that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Luis (Michael Peña), and the rest of their gang work to pull off.  They’ve got the lookout, the brain (Lang), and even the muscle (Peña, in a hilarious running gag, knocks out anyone he punches with one swing).  The big climax centers around breaking into a highly secure vault and stealing the Yellowjacket suit, which works similarly to the Ant-Man suit, before Hank Pym’s protegee Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) can sell it to the highest bidding military organization.  The very fact that Ant-Man‘s goal isn’t just “beat up the bad guy” allows the film to do some really cool utilitarian things with Ant-Man’s powers, including short out a security system using a species of ant that conducts electricity.  You wouldn’t see that in a more straightforward film like The Avengers, where Loki’s solution to a locked door is to have a possessed Hawkeye rip out the eye of a man whose credentials are in the door’s security system.  The latter is brutal.  The former is interesting, fun, and innovative.

“Fun” and “innovative” are probably the two best words one could use to describe Ant-Man.  It’s a curious beast of a picture, stuffed between two huge Avengers movies in Age of Ultron and Civil War.  No matter what director Peyton Reed did, the film was going to feel small in comparison.  So, the Ant-Man team took the high road and embraced that smallness.  The big climactic set piece takes place in a bedroom instead of a city and yet was way more interesting and entertaining than Age of Ultron‘s final battle (Thomas the Tank Engine is a running joke, people. Please).

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The most memorable character was Peña’s powerless con Luis, whose fast-talking personality, enduring positive attitude, and strangely well-cultured background had the theater audience around me in stitches throughout the entire movie.  He stole the show, and he did it without any fancy CGI.  Ant-Man is a film where Marvel let normal people have their day in the sun.

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Now, knocks where knocks are due: Evangeline Lilly’s role as Hope Van Dyne never feels as fully realized in the film as it should have been.  According to some, her role was expanded from Wright’s original script, but her role basically amounts to her and the audience not understanding why she isn’t the character entrusted with Hank Pym’s incredible shrinking suit.  She’s better than Lang at literally everything. She’s a better fighter, an equally skilled thinker, has spent more time with the technology, and doesn’t need to be trained– which you’d think would be a big plus considering they only have a few days to steal Cross’ suit.  But nope, Pym insists on training Lang anyways, and even after you finally find out why Pym won’t let his daughter take the Ant-Man role for herself, it doesn’t really seem fair to her.

LillyBar640

Luckily, however, it seems like Marvel is setting Van Dyne up for a much bigger role in the MCU, so not all is lost on that front.  Plus, I don’t think the bad here outweighs the overwhelming good. Ant-Man is not the socially progressive Marvel movie people are clamoring for.  It is, however, a movie with a lot of heart, an interesting perspective that breathes new life into an old genre, and a prime argument against Marvel’s notion that more explosions = more fun.

Edgar Wright’s departure did NOT hurt the film

Before we go on, let’s just address the elephant in the room.  I love Edgar Wright.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of my favorite films and the editing in all the Cornetto Trilogy films is so inspiring that I want to be a director whenever I watch any of them.  To be clear, I majored in English and minored in Computer Science. I don’t know the first thing about directing or being anywhere near a film set.  I basically cried when I heard Wright would be making a Marvel movie and I did cry when I found out he was off of Ant-Man.

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Yet, even though Wright didn’t end up directing the formicidaphilic caper, I could feel his sticky hands all over Ant-Man.  There’s a musical gag during a fight sequence based around a Cure song. That’s Wright.  Thomas the Tank Engine is a running gag. Definitely Wright.  Peña does a bang up job relating two job tip conversations to the audience where countless different people, men and women of various shapes and sizes, all speak with his voice. That’s actually not even Wright, but the editing and comedic styles feel like his.

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Adam McKay and Paul Rudd did a great job rewriting the film while sticking to Wright and co-writer Joe Cornish’s original vision for the script, and Reed did a great job realizing that vision as director on Wright’s behalf.  Will this movie always live in the shadow of what could have been?  For better or worse, yes.  Did Marvel play bad politics with Wright?  Perhaps.  That said though, even if Wright was ultimately shorted, the Ant-Man film we got stands quite tall in spite of its production woes.  It’s a great film on its own merit, and its success could mean more like it IF we support it as an audience.  Which leads me to my final point:

Ant-Man is the kind of Marvel movie you should want to see MORE of

The Marvel train is unstoppable.  Even if Ant-Man doesn’t do well, Marvel movies are slated up until I hit my first midlife crisis in the late 2020s.  If we as viewers can’t stop this train, we should at least be able to steer it.  I don’t know about you, but I am really sick and tired of:

Drone Armies

drones2

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

drones

The Avengers

 

Space Holes

spacehole

The Avengers

Marvel's Thor: The Dark World" Ph: Film Frame © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Thor: the Dark World

 

Big faceless ship fights where things explode

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy Nova Corp Starblaster ships and Ronan's Dark Aster ship Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

blowup

Captain America: the Winter Soldier

 

Now, I like Marvel movies for what they are.   They’re fun pieces of action-filled entertainment that do a particularly outstanding job of developing characters that are interesting and rich despite their absurd and campy origins.  However, ever since The Avengers, Marvel has been in a size competition with itself, its directors competing to see who can make the largest-scale fight sequence or blow up the most vehicles in a half-hour span.  It’s gotten so bad that the studio collectively seems to have forgotten that the point of a movie climax is to bring the development of all characters, protagonists and antagonists, to a head, not just fuck up the world around the protagonist(s) and see how they respond.

Marvel has always had a villain problem.  No one except Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has ever felt fully realized as a character outside of their relationship to a protagonist.  However, villains like Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane in Iron Man and Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull in Captain America: the First Avenger were still interesting because they had character arcs of a sort that were satisfactorily resolved by their climatic third-act battle.

Ironman

While it’s rare (and stunning) to have a film where the audience actively wants the villain to win, movies are much more affecting when you can stake a claim with both the “good side” and “bad side.” The Avengers took the third act away from its villain, Loki, and even away from  Thanos the master puppeteer, leaving our protagonists to band together against a faceless horde that we could stake no emotional claim to.  We would have felt bad seeing Loki or Thanos win in The Avengers. We would have felt cheated if the Chitauri beat the Avengers.  The same goes for Ultron’s faceless robot army in Age of Ultron, the Dark Elves in Thor: the Dark World, and inversely, the faceless N.O.V.A. Corps soldiers who died staving off Ronan the Accuser’s invasion in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Yeah, more soldiers make for bigger fights, but who cares about the size of the battle when you know who’s going to win based off plot mechanics? Who cares about the big final fight when your protagonists aren’t even actually facing the antagonists you’ve been building up for the past two hours?

Sticking your primary antagonist in an airplane FLYING AWAY from the climactic battle is a dick move, Marvel. Also the "Hulk makes the villain a ragdoll" gag is played out.

Letting your primary antagonist fly away from the climactic battle without resistance is a dick move, Marvel. Also: the “Hulk makes the villain a ragdoll” gag is played out.

Now, I’m not saying Ant-Man solves Marvel’s villain problem.  Despite Corey Stoll’s great acting, Darren Cross comes off about as two dimensional as Stane in Iron Man.  Their backstories and motivations are even somewhat similar.  That said, I like that Marvel didn’t feel the need to cover Lang and Stoll’s final battle with pointless window dressing.  The big climax was a twenty minute fight between just the two of them, and that was perfect.  It brought both their character arcs to a suitable finish and created a legitimate sense of tension throughout.  As I’ve said time and time again, the fight was also very cleverly concepted, more or less set entirely in a briefcase, a backyard, and a bedroom.  Ant-Man was a slimmer Marvel movie and it was better for it.

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I’ve heard people say that Ant-Man feels like an early phase one MCU movie, and I think that’s true.  Those older Marvel films weren’t as big as their Phase Two brethren, and instead lived and died by the merits of their stories.  I’d like to see Marvel return to that method of thinking, and I think an Ant-Man success would prove to them that I’m not alone in this.

Go see Ant-Man.  It’s hilarious, well acted, and generally clever.  Most importantly, a vote for Ant-Man is a vote for a slimmer, better Marvel movie where story comes first.

8 Comments on In Defense of the Little Guy: Three Big Reasons Why You Should Go See Ant-Man, last added: 7/27/2015
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46. A sneak preview of Supergirl wows 400 Moms and their daughters

Supergirl colors

In a pretty nice piece of marketing, CBS is aiming squarely at the young women demographic for the upcoming Supergirl, and to highlight that they invited 400 mother and daughters to view a sneak preview of the first episode.

In doing so, they also got a nice surprise, which you’ll see in the short video below…

Given the tendency of superheroics in mass media to aim for the testosterone, it’s nice to see a network to cater to a wholly different demographic for this series. It should give us a whole new reason to root for its success. Everybody needs heroes to look to up to after all.

Supergirl premieres Monday, October 26th (8:30-9:30 PM, ET/PT) on CBS.

7 Comments on A sneak preview of Supergirl wows 400 Moms and their daughters, last added: 7/25/2015
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47. Lewis, Aydin, and Powell’s March featured on CBS This Morning

Maybe the biggest highlight of a fairly eventful San Diego Comic Con was the moment when Congressman John Lewis cosplayed as himself, donning the trench coat and backpack he wore to march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, 50 years ago. He led a touching children’s march through the halls of […]

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48. On the Scene: SPACE 2015 brought good times, good comics

Special correspondent Christian Hoffer went to the SPACE indie comics expo in Columbus and got a lot of comics and met a lot of people. Here's his report.

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49. Salt Lake Comic Con claims trademark win; SDCC: “Not so fast.”

The ongoing legal battle over the trademark of the term "comic-con" between The San Diego Comic-Con (or to give it it's official name: Comic-Con International: San Diego) and the Salt Lake Comic Con flared up a bit yesterday when the SLC group claimed a win by being granted a trademark:

5 Comments on Salt Lake Comic Con claims trademark win; SDCC: “Not so fast.”, last added: 7/24/2015
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50. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 7/24/15: Michael Carbonaro comes to ConTV

This is a random week’s worth. Gotta remember that daily thing. § Who Won Comic-Con? Christian Hoffer thinks he has the answer. § WizardWorld’s on demand streaming service ConTV has been running for a while and they just announced a new show starring Michael Carbonaro, a colorful figure well known in the NYC comics community as […]

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