Transformers G.I.Joe or what makes a good cross over.

Back in early 2001, two comic companies, Dreamwave Productions and Devils Due Publishing, then under the umbrella of the Image print went to Hasbro to make a deal with the devil. In exchange for the rights to Transformers and G.I.Joe respectively, Pat Lee, co-owner of Dreamwave Productions would gain the unfortunate side effect of poor business decisions while Josh Baylock wouldn’t be able to write a G.I.Joe story that didn’t feel rushed at the end. After some time, both companies decided that cross overs were what everyone wanted and decided to do their own much to the delight of everyone until they read the blasted things.

If anyone ever were to ask me, what makes a good G.I.Joe crossover, I’d say the ability to merge them into a coherent story. The current Street Fighter Vs. G.I.Joe story is an example of a great cross over. It only focuses on a smallish cast, each character is practically named when they are appear and each one is distinct enough that it’s easy to tell them apart. There is no ambiguous endings involved so far and if you’re a fan of either franchise you should check it out.

I bring it because I’ve finished reading Transformers/ G.I.Joe by Dreamwave Productions, and while it’s not terrible it is problematic to say the very least. The idea is great on paper, take both franchises and place them into a World War 2 setting and things will be great, but what we got instead is a confusing mess of a cross over. Cobra has uncovered the Decepticons and are using them as engines of war, taking control of Europe in the process. The joes are assembled and tasked to take out the Cobra stronghold and in a very disastrous first few hours they encounter the Autobots and the tide changes

Jae Lee artwork has always been subjective, and while it works in the Dark Tower comic series, it doesn’t work here, casting a shadow over the characters, making them difficult to tell apart or what is even happening. The Joes have no features that help them stand out, making them all look like the same generic soldiers. The transformers themselves also look like they’re covered in shadow half the time, missing finer details of their own bodies. The plot is okay, but there is just too much going on at any time to be engaged in any conflict. There are two Joe teams, each having members you can’t tell apart, a half dozen Transformers who all look the same and an unclear plot. Cobra Commanders goals remain unclear and so does Destro’s. For all of it’s faults, the Devil’s Due cross over had a clear plot you could understand, and you could tell most of the characters apart.

When you throw in ambiguous endings for most characters, it gets a bit much. While a clear cut ending with a nice bow doesn’t always suit the story, if at the end of he story you still have questions about who is left alive at the end of the book then you may need to re-think your story. It’s not a bad story, but it isn’t a great one either. If any thing it should be read to see what shouldn’t be done in terms of plot, artwork and concept. I didn’t mind it, but then I am a fan of both franchises, but it’s a hard sell to any one who isn’t a fan of either franchise.


Civil War vs Civil War: Comic vs Movie. Spoilers ahoy

So Avengers 2.5, sorry Captain America Civil War came out a few weeks ago and I have to say it’s a pretty damn good movie and a better version of the event then the comic it is based on. Though when you have about 10 years to figure out what works and what doesn’t for the movie, if it doens’t improve on certain things, then you’re not doing your job very well. I’ll be talking about the biggest changes that I saw between the comic and the event.

1: Ironman is reasonable in the movie. One of the biggest changes is that Iron Man in the movie is more level headed, which is perhaps one of most the important changes from the book. Comic book Iron Man is a facist, throwing people who don’t agree with him into a super max prision in another dimension andconscripting dangerous super villains like Venom into hunting down super heroes who refuse to register. It kind of makes him a character that is uneasy to side with. What ever points he makes are null and voided because how he acts.

The Movie version is more level headed and basically spend the entire movie imploring Rogers to sign the accord, even going so far as to back dating the signing to make his actions in the movie legal. He gives Steve, Falcon and the others every chance to surrender and sign, and they only start fighting when they exhaust all other moves.

2: There are no major deaths. One of the draws of comic events is finding out who will die. The comic version of Civil War had Goliath die via a lighting blast from a clone of Thor. The movie though, has no one dying. This to me, at least works better. That’s not to say the fights are any less brutal, there are scenes were various heroes walk around and have welts and bruises on their faces to show the price of a super hero smack down is a shiner. Crossbones does in fact die early on, which is a shame to me as I do like the character, but without the Red Skull, he is sort of a nothing character, and only really works when he is playing as the muscle for a big bad.

3: It’s a treatise about the cost of revenge and consequences of your actions. The comic never really deals with these themes, which isn’t really a complaint, but the movie covers these themes, in a really great way. The idea that super heroes running unchecked is a bad idea, everyone agrees to that, but it’s in the details that stops everyone from agreeing. More importantly, the entire movie is a treatise on how grief can affect people differently. Black Panther and Zemo attempt to kill other people out of revenge because they can not separate their need for justice and their need for revenge. Even Iron Man, who has been trying to over come the trauma losing his parents at such a young age, can not over come the need for clear and rationale thinking in a time of great stress.

The comic version isn’t bad at all. It’s quite good and is perhaps the most reader friendly Mark Miller has been. The movie works, because it was able to take the nature progression of the characters in the cinematic universe and create a great story based off the comic book version of the story. It is, in my opinion the best adaptation we could’ve asked for. Taking what works and what doesn’t work and creating a fantastic movie.

Batman Endgame and why I don’t like it.

Okay I’ll admit this right off the bat. I’m not a huge Scott Snyder fan. I respect him and I do think he is a very talented man and writer but I’m not really a fan of his style of writing. Grand big tales only work if there is a re-cap page to remind people of what’s going on. Writing a 13 issues epic looks good on paper, but you have to understand that it takes takes over a year to write, produce and read and so to be perfectly honest with so much other stuff happening in our lives, without a recap page it’s hard to remember the big points.

End Game, to it’s credit is only 6 issues long much like “Death in the family” also by Scott Snyder. It’s a tight story that, I guess work, except when it’s trying too hard to be edgy and scary. I’d tell you there are spoilers, but considering the low view count of my blog if you haven’t read Batman “End Game” by the time you stumble upon this you’re either not a comic book fan or you’re a person archiving the internet. Anyway the short of it is that the Joker has returned from his exile and enacts a plan to not only kill Batman but destroy all of Gotham. First Joker poisons the Justice Leauge and sends them after Batman who promptly defeats them because he’s the Batman. Then in a brilliant twist he reveals that he has been close to Batman the entire time under a disguise that would make Zartan jealous. So far, so standard Batman. But the problem to me comes from the escalation in this story which proves, to me at least to be a little over the top, as if DC are trying to make the Joker more shocking, more edgy and more dangerous despite the fact that this has been well established over the years..

Death in the Family had the Joker, sans face (comics every one) going after the Batman family after disappearing and was a fairly decent story line. End Game has Joker going after Gotham by releasing a version of the Joker Toxin into the air. There are scenes of babies affected by the Joker toxin, people going mad attacking each other in the streets, all well and good, except that Joker then cuts off Alfred’s right hand, because it’s not a DC comic without some one losing a limb. I get that the entire point of the Joker is he is crazy, but people losing limbs, babies being exposed to viruses is just some one (to me) screaming “Hey look at how edgy we are”. Even worse is the “We only have 24 hours to cure people or they die” line is eye roll worthy to me.

The Joker, like any wrestler only works when you’re not over exposing him. Death in the family was a brutal story to be sure, but worked because the Joker hadn’t shown up before, and disappeared without a trace. He enters, messes things up and leaves in a puff of smoke with the reader wondering if he’ll ever show up again. Scott Snyder has now salted the earth with the Joker, because once you have a character try to destroy Gotham, where do you go from there? Having the Joker try to poison the water supply will just seem lame after he cut off the hand of Alfred. What’s next? He tries to send all of Gotham into space via rockets spread out around the city? To be fair, it is called End Game for a reason, perhaps the last Joker Story, which this should fittingly be because, as I have said where do you take the character from here?

That said, if you’re a fan of Scott Snyder, Batman or the Joker then you wont have any problems with the story. Mr Snyder is a fantastic writer, but it’s the subject matter I take issue with, and the length of his stories. And besides, this is DC comics, we’ll just hang out until the next reboot and this Joker nonsense wouldn’t have happened and we can start all over again.