Special thanks go to "earthmanprime" for the idea for this list.
As we approach the two year anniversary of DC Comics' New 52 reboot, it's time to take a moment and reflect back at some of things that DC screwed up from the get-go; namely, their costume redesigns for most of their top tier heroes. Jim Lee was given the task of redesigning most of the major iconic DC heroes, and although I maintain that Jim Lee is a great artist, his design aesthetic seems to be permanently stuck in the '90s. While a select few DC characters got to keep their iconic looks in this new rebooted universe (Catwoman, Aquaman, and Stargirl for some reason were spared) The following characters were not so lucky...
It has been almost a week now since the incident, code-named "Hashtag Batfleck" unfolded, and while the damages are still being assessed, and many speculators (self-included) are predicting worse things in the future, one fact remains:
It wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Oh, don't get me wrong - I dislike Affleck's acting and have little hope it will get better. I don't buy comparisons with Michael Keaton and Heath Ledger, as both of them, while unorthodox choices, had proven their chops with movies like Clean and Sober and Brokeback Mountain. And I could think of many people who could do a better job. But with that said, I also have a memory. A memory that extends back to some prior attempts at bringing page to screen that brought only folly and scorn upon all involved. The fact that Ben Affleck even remotely looks like Bruce Wayne puts him way ahead of some others who got the big chance. Does this mean I like Ben any better? Nahhh. But it gives him something to be better than, and I hope he does.
For the purposes of this list, we are focusing on the actor - Halle Berry may or may not have made a decent Catwoman, but we'll never know, since the movie she was in was such a radical reimagining that she had no chance to get it right. Nor will we say Sam J. Jones was a bad Flash Gordon - he may not have done the comic character, but for the movie he's in he fits perfectly. These are the ones who arguably could have done it right in their respective projects, but went oh so wrong.
Heroes are only as good their villains and, to whit, fighting games are only ever as memorable as their final bosses. It ain't enough to just have some 'final challenger' at the top of a championship ladder; you need a boss who twists the player's stomach around in bitter, seething frustration! Either he has maddeningly cheap attacks, or he cheats at his own damn game, or he's got a scummy backstory that frames the gameplay as a true good/evil struggle, or there's just something about him that's begging for red-knuckled comeuppance. The more you hate a boss, the more cathartic your eventual (right?) victory against him will be, no?
Let's face facts, though: bosses just aren't as threatening in our post-arcade gaming era. The danger of getting pantsed by one of these rat bastards just doesn't breath down your neck as hotly when you aren't worrying about how many quarters are left in your pocket. Also, nobody makes psycho killers quite like the Japanese do, so if you notice that these bosses all debuted in a very specific time and place in gaming, well... that ain't an accident.
Well, the usual Summer drought that tends to hit the gaming community around this time of year ended last week, and it did so by basically whipping out a fire hose and drenching us in a barrage of Saints Row IV, Disney Infinity, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, amongst other games. And while we'll also get to some of that down the road, this moment belongs to Saints Row IV, the rightful king of this current crop of gaming, accepting the position with grace, dignity, and the ability to dress up in an Elvis outfit and make an alien's head inflate and explode in a comical fashion.
(NOTE: Some NSFW stuff may be included after the jump.)
In July 2010, YouTube increased the time limit for videos posted by the common folk from the long-standing 10 minutes to a whopping 15. By that December, they announced that they were removing the time limits altogether, without announcing what the upper cap might be. My personal favorite of the ultra-long videos is the 24 hours of the Enterprise-D's ambient engine hum. It doesn't work any longer - at least, YouTube breaks into tears every time I try to play it. But I'm glad that, for a while, it was a thing that worked.
And, for as much as YouTube was making a big deal about how bitchen their ContentID system was and how it would keep copyright safe 'n secure, there are vast amounts of highly copyrighted material still up - including my favorite genre, the documentary. And they're mostly full-length and in good high quality, too, so you don't have to contend with huge pixels or loading a new video every 10 minutes.More >>
And just like that, Ben "I was the bomb in Phantoms" Affleck is the new Dark Knight. Gone is the brooding playboy with the voice that sounds like he gargled with hydrochloric acid, replaced with the actor who has no fear. Worse yet, this opens the doors to new masturbatory fantasies for Kevin Smith, who just hours ago announced on Twitter that he had indeed seen Affleck naked.
While this decision is surely going to be the lead news story on nerd and mundane news sites alike today, with legions of fanboys already drinking their Hater-aid and gathering their pitchforks and torches, I am here to bring you good news. While Affleck might be the next Batman, this paves the way for him to not interfere with so many other characters whose tights he sure as hell doesn't belong in. So no matter what you think of Gigli donning the cape and cowl, take comfort in knowing that the following are superheroes that he will not likely be ruining...
For the most part, superheroes in American comics are ageless and timeless; outside of Elseworlds tales and "imaginary" stories, the heroes in comics never age much, or have too much of their world around them change significantly. On occasion, though, the status quo will change in comics, giving writers (and fans) a new paradigm to play in. Sometimes it works, and the new status quo is around for the long haul, or at the very least, a very long time. Other times it doesn't work, but the editors try to force it down our collective throats anyway. Here are the five worst, and five best, major status quo changes in superhero comics.
The Five Worst Status Quo Changes
5. Mutant Decimation as a Result of House of M
House of M, Marvel's mega crossover event for 2005 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Oliver Coipel, was in and of itself a decent mini-series. The basic premise of House of M was that the Avengers and the X-Men, fearing how powerful the Scarlet Witch's reality altering powers had become since the events of Avengers Disassembled, get together and "do something about it." What they basically decided to do, or at least seriously considered "for the sake of the world", is kill the Scarlet Witch before she can alter reality again. The Scarlet Witch's brother Quicksilver warns her of their plan, and before the heroes can lift a finger, she alters reality to fit her needs and give all the heroes their heart's desires. By the end of the series, the heroes see through the new altered reality, and in a final act of spite against her father Magneto, Wanda Maximoff utters the words "No More Mutants" -and 99.9 % of the world's mutant population loses their powers in one grand gesture
The idea for this change, as per Marvel EIC Joe Quesada, as that there were simply too many mutants running around the Marvel Universe, and way too many mutant titles, and their status as a hated minority didn't make sense anymore if there were just so darn many mutants. Never mind that actual numbers don't always factor into prejudice (women make up more than 50% of the population of Saudi Arabia too; doesn't stop the the men from being prejudiced against them) by reducing the mutant population to just 198 people, well... that's not a race anymore, that's just a really good turnout for a party.
Add to that the fact that the 198 mutants were essentially all the mutants we already knew about, so the same amount of mutant super heroes and villains were running around the Marvel Universe as before. All Joey Q took away was the idea of the mutants we didn't see, the ones who weren't heroes or bad guys, the "little guy" everyday Joe mutant who the X-Men were defending. The main metaphor of what the X-Men was all about was suddenly neutered, and it would be another seven years (at the end of Avengers Vs. X-Men) before the whole endangered species part of mutantcy was finally over, and new mutants started popping up again. And it's no coincidence that the X-Men titles have been better than they've been in years with the central metaphor restored once again.
If I had known what would come after, I never would have made fun of Anne Rice.
Yes, her vampires seemed a little fey and their clothes a tad frilly, but deep down, they walked the walk (in darkness, natch). Rice herself looked the part of a dark fortune teller in her gothic New Orleans chic, and when it came time to make a movie based on her characters, she pushed hard for Rutger Hauer to play Lestat, which was pretty badass of her, even though she didn't succeed and eventually had to publicly apologize to Tom Cruise. It didn't hurt that badly, though, since Cruise proved willing enough to go dark.
I feel bad for the generation after, whose vampire zeitgeist was defined by the confused dreams of a mixed-up Mormon put down on paper without much thought to rhyme or reason, and embodied stiffly onscreen by Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. Twilight was a property we pretty quickly learned to leave to the self-professed Twi-hards and pretend to ignore as much as possible - but once it ended, things got confusing. The Hunger Games was pitched to the pop-culture world as the next Twilight, but it turned out to be reasonably coherent and entertaining. Which brings us to the next would-be contender: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. After sitting through two different convention panels on this film, I was unable to quite get a handle on it, save that author Cassandra Clare came off like a giggly fangirl both times.
So I subjected myself to the movie, just to see. If it turned out well, I could lead you to it; if not, I'd suffer for your sins. As it turns out, this is a step above Stephenie Meyer...but there's still a ways to go if it's going to get really good in any way other than by comparison. Here's how it is still like her creation - and how it represents progress on the tween-lit movie front.
1. Broody Girl With a Nickname Meets Team Love Triangle...
In place of Isabella "Bella" Swan, we have Clarissa "Clary" Fray (Lily Collins), whose last name could theoretically allow for all sorts of unfortunate dirty jokes about jumping into the Fray. Unlike Bella, she's proactive; like Bella, her affections are torn between a brooding, vaguely supernatural emo-guy (Jamie Campbell Bower's English-accented "Shadowhunter" Jace) and her semi-platonic, regular guy best friend (Robert Sheehan's Simon), who eventually proves to have great abs under that shirt, and a supernatural secret that's being saved for a sequel.
Since I'm basing this list entirely on the movie and not the books, we won't go into how this whole thing may or may not play out long-term. But it's unlike the Jacob and Edward situation in one key respect...
We all love good movies, but sometimes you just want to grab a few buddies, have some beers and watch an absolutely irredeemable piece of crap. It's fun to trade jokes about a production that went wrong on every conceivable level.
Fans of train wrecks will be familiar with movies like The Room and Birdemic, but may not know that the medium of animation has its fair share of hilarious disasters, too. So the next time you're looking for a dud to mock, why not check out one of the following animated spectacles?
7. Silver Circle
The year is 2019. The United States dollar has lost its place as the world's reserve currency. The Fed intervenes, seizing control of America's economy. Their intervention is disastrous, and America falls into shambles. One spunky group of rebels decides to fight back against their oppressive government the only way they know how: by minting their own silver coins to compete against the greenback. Star Wars, this ain't.
Silver Circle is more of a 90 minute rant about the evils of the government from a teenaged Ron Paul supporter than it is a movie, which would be boring if not for the hilarious animation. You have to admire the creators' dedication to their criticism of "worthless paper money," as they apparently paid their animators in gum and handshakes.
Political junkies will have loads of fun ripping apart the film's misplaced political paranoia and basic misunderstanding of economics, but even if you support the film's message or just don't care about politics you'll still crack up at the campy dialogue and animation that looks like a video game gone horribly wrong.
The characters speak in strawman arguments and Internet debate talking points instead of real human words - in the trailer, the evil government (redundancy!) agent gives a speech about how freedom isn't important, while our hip, sexy heroine never misses an opportunity to ramble on about how awesome silver is.
Combine that with facial expressions that make the characters look more like emotionally stunted robots than people and every conversation in the film is comedic gold. Er, silver.More >>
Becoming a published manga artist or anime director is, in the Otaku circles, akin to royalty. And if you're lucky, you can parlay your Otaku cred to big-time fame and success. Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2), for example, still remains one of the richest and most successful manga authors - nay, comic book artists - in the world. But, as with all things, there's a catch.
Perhaps you're familiar with the stereotype of the Japanese Work Ethic? You know, the one where individuals are expected to work over 12-hour days, sleep at their office, and slavishly devote themselves to workaholism?
That's all just a misbegotten stereotype, of course, but there is a certain problem in the manga and anime industry, especially if you're lucky enough to work for one of the major weekly manga magazines like Shonen Jump. In those instances, you (and however many assistants you can afford) are tasked with creating up to 20 pages each and every week that need to be fully written, drawn, inked and edited. And that's once a week, every week, full stop, no breaks, no holidays, nothin'.
Suffice to say that the pressure is on, and sometimes, people... crack. In fact, in the Shonen Jump "making-of-manga manga" Bakuman, there's an entire storyline that tackles what happens when deadlines mount and the artists simply overwork themselves. Here are ten manga and anime artists who nearly worked themselves into an early grave!
Of course, a good way to alleviate some of the stress that comes from working on several high-profile, serialized manga titles is to share the load a little bit, and that's always been a part of the once highly-secretive female comic artist collective known as CLAMP, creators of such finely stylized pop-culture weirdness as X, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Chobits..
CLAMP started out in the '80s as a fan-based independent "doujinshi" group (self-published comics, in other words) that contained a whopping 11 members; since 1993, the CLAMP brand has dropped down to four. No worries, though, because at least four members is better than just one, right?
Sure! Until 2011, when one of their members is experiencing sharp and immense pain in her lower back. Turns out, she has a rather severe lumbar compression fracture,, all thanks to the many hours hunched over a chair, straining her lower back, drawing like a madwoman.
CLAMP then issued a statement that they were letting the poor girl go for a half a year in order to recuperate, and the remaining members were going to be taking things a little bit easier, which meant some delays, and a few less pages per chapter, so that the other CLAMP artists also didn't end up working so hard and long that their bones cracked apart.