Marvel Comics has been dropping bombshells this week, announcing on Tuesday that Thor will become a woman, and revealing Wednesday morning what Ultron will look like in the next Avengers movie, and then announcing later that night that Sam Wilson (The Falcon) will become the new, black Captain America. More announcements are sure to come as we get closer and closer to San Diego Comic Con.
For the most part, reaction to these announcements have been met with everything from a rabid fanboy excitement to indifference to intense anger. Me? I’m in the “meh” camp (save for Ultron. He looks sweet as hell). Wilson as Cap doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, I’m surprised its taken this long.
I do, however, have problems with the changing of Thor. Now, before some of you rabid morons hop on the “SEXIST PIG” train, take a moment to read.
Thor has been everything from a woman (yes, this has already happened), to a horse, to a frog.
The Captain America mantle has fallen to a number of people over the past 60+ years for various reasons. And guess what? It’s never lasted. It never will last. Why? For every “comics aren’t doing anything new” complaint lobbed at “The Big Two”, there are 5-10 people who buy the same thing that comes out week after week, month after month. They’re comfortable in familiarity. That’s just how it works.
Sorry, Sam. You do look awesome in the outfit, though.
Changing a hero’s gender, or killing a character, or any other major story change has, for the most part, never stuck around for too long (see Thunderstrike). There are only 3 characters in comics that, to my knowledge, have died and have stayed dead: Thomas and Martha Wayne and Uncle Ben. Why? Because those deaths matter. Those facts, those events, matter.
Even Barbara Gordon, who was paralyzed after being shot by the Joker in the 1988 Alan Moore/Brian Bolland epic “The Killing Joke”, became un-paralyzed with the launch of the New 52 by DC Comics in 2011. Most of these types of changes aren’t done to further the story, as they are retconned within a year or two. No, these changes are made to get people to go “Why is THAT? I need to get that issue”.
I understand comics are a business and that they need to come up with different ways for people to get on board with the books. There’s a fix for that though: create compelling stories and even more compelling characters. Which, admittedly, is harder than gender-swapping a fictional character. The current run on “Thor” by Jason Aaron has been, from what I’ve read, outstanding. Why make such a drastic change to the character that, in the long run, won’t really challenge the status quo of the male/female superhero ratio? Putting women in men’s roles only gets you so far.
AN UNSTABLE STABLE
Currently, Marvel has a number of books running featuring female leads: “Ms. Marvel”, “Captain Marvel”, “She-Hulk”, “Black Widow”, “X-Men”, “Elektra”, and soon, “Thor”. But how hard is Marvel pushing these books? How aware are people that these books are even on the shelves?
The highest selling female-led book in June 2014 was DC’s “Harley Quinn” at #4, with an estimated 93,000 copies shipped. The next closest? DC’s “Wonder Woman” at #29, with just over 48,000 issues shipped. The next title is “Batgirl”, another DC book, with over 47,000 copies shipped. The first female-led Marvel book, “X-Men”, shows up at #51, with just over 38,000 copies shipped. “Ms. Marvel” shows up at #61 (almost 34,000 copies). “Black Widow” shows up at #87 (25,000). “She Hulk” is at #90 (24,000) and “Captain Marvel” is at #94 (just over 24,000).
What is the point of forcibly establishing new female characters if you can’t even sell the ones you already have? How about sticking an AAA team on one of the aforementioned books? There’s Valkyrie and Lady Sif, two powerful Asgardian females. Give them a book. Strengthen those characters. Give readers a reason to care and buy the book (not saying that sales numbers indicate the quality of a book by any means) without resorting to temporary gimmicks.
This should technically go under #3, but it’s my list, and this is my main point, so shut up.
Some people have been claiming that the Thor change is a win for feminism. I respectfully disagree. What Marvel is doing is taking a well-established male character and bestowing the “title” of Thor to a female. A bestowment that won’t last. If anything, feminists should be outraged that Marvel would think that using a gender swap as a selling point is OK. That they’re seemingly saying “a female character can’t carry a book on her own, so let’s change the gender of an established male character to fill that void”. Is the change to make Male Thor feel some sort of humility? If so, why a woman? Why not someone/something else? There’s a lot of questions that nobody is answering.
Will the gender change of Thor make sense? I’m sure it will, in that charming comic book sort of way. In fact, I bet the entire explanation will be “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”, which is inscribed on the hammer Mjolnir. And that’s it. He-Thor screwed the pooch, and now it’s someone else’s turn. Fair enough.
Should people be as happy about it as they are? Not in the slightest. In fact, it’s not so much “world shattering” as it is “business as usual” for The Big Two. I have all faith in Jason Aaron’s writing ability, but I won’t be buying the series.
"Zombies, Run!" has been such an amazing experience so far. It got my fat butt off of the couch and walking. I’ve walked an average of 4 miles each day for the past two weeks or so. Now, I’m contemplating jogging in the near future.
The story is great, the voice acting is top notch, and I’m getting healthier. I’d say that’s a win-win in everyone’s book.
Thanks to the developers for making such an awesome app!
Hey! saw your comic con post and wanted to give you a few details you may not have known about. With the photo op printing, that company uses a type of printing called dye sublimation, where it prints the four color layers one at a time and takes about 45 seconds-a minute to print. Huge boost in quality, but in time as well. They've got I think about 7-10 of the printers which are over $1000+ each. That's a major part of why it took so long to get your print. Also, I wasn't personally at st
Thanks for the info! I had a feeling it wasn’t just a bunch of Kodak printers in the back. :-p
There were some couches and chairs, but they were a 15-minute walk from the convention floor to the front of the center. And they were full most of the time. Not a major complaint with the show, mind you. I still had a blast.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Wizard World St. Louis 2014
After slowly coming down from the high of Wizard World St. Louis (and my feet and back finally recovering from the massive amounts of walking and book-carrying), I’ve been able to assemble some thoughts and feelings about the show.
First things first: for the most part, Wizard runs an extremely tight ship, and it shows. Everything I experienced was very organized (save for Bruce Campbell being a half hour late for his photo op Saturday, but since he’s Bruce Campbell and I am not, I won’t complain). You could even see Wizard CEO John Macaluso running around the floor, participating and helping with the show if there is a problem. The fact that he is so hands-on with the show is a good indicator of a well-run company.
Secondly, the show was moved from one of the convention halls of America’s Center in downtown St. Louis to the main convention floor/arena. It was a fantastic idea, and really helped with the flow of traffic in and out of the show. It also gave us people on the floor enough space to move around and breathe.
Third, the talent and attractions this year were top notch. William Shatner, Adam West, Nathan Fillion and a good chunk of the Firefly cast, along with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Sara Underwood making an appearance in St. Louis was an amazing experience and made it miles better than the 2013 show.
I want to sidetrack my list here and share one of my favorite stories of the entire show: I was in line for a photo with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan of Dr. Who fame. I’ve recently started watching the show, and am enjoying it immensely. As the weekend of the con drew near, I knew that if I didn’t get a photo with Smith and Gillan I would probably regret it. While in line, I had been talking to a man and his daughter, who must have been in her early teens. While we waited, we discussed Dr. Who and the beginning of my journey with the show. They were great company during the hour-plus wait. As soon as the line started moving, we inched closer and closer to the curtained area where they did the photos. As the girl got ready to enter, a Wizard volunteer pushed a handicapped man along the line and asked us if we cared if he cut in front of us. Of course, we didn’t object.
Now, with the Bruce Campbell photos, he only allowed the person in the photo inside the curtained area, and no one else. For Matt and Karen, they allowed two people to wait inside, along with the person currently taking the photo.
The girl in front of me and I walked in as they wheeled the gentleman, who must have been in his late teens to early 20s, up to where Matt and Karen were standing. “Hey, hold on. Let me help you out of there.” Matt said as he hopped over to help the guy get out of his wheelchair. “Easy does it. There you go! How you doing buddy! What’s your name? So good to see you! Glad you came!” He was so kind and excited to see him. So much so that the guy’s mother broke down and started crying. So Karen came over and hugged her. “It’s ok! Don’t cry!” They took the photo with the guy and then Matt said “Hold on! Hold on! Let’s do another! Bring the whole family in here!” The mother initially objected, but eventually the mother, the father, and the younger sibling were also in the photo, despite Wizard’s two-person limit for photos. I didn’t catch the gender of the younger sibling, as my heart was all a flutter. So when it was my turn I shook his hand and thanked him for being so kind earlier. “Hey, no worries mate. I’m glad you all came to see us!” Despite his surely long day at the show, he was so upbeat and happy. It was refreshing. It’s going to be hard for me to objectively choose a favorite Doctor after seeing these two awesome human beings in action.
Fun story: my wife’s cousin, who is a huge Who fan, offered to pay for a chunk of my photo with Matt and Karen on the condition that I wear a shirt with his face on it. Obviously, I did.
I also, as you might have guessed, got to meet the legendary Bruce Campbell, who shook my hand, asked me my name and said “Ok Ed, whatever you do…act cool”. “Alright, I’ll do my best!”. I’m 99% sure I “hee-yolked” like Goofy when I replied.
My friend Tom and I also did a photo with Emily Kinney and Jon Bernthal of “The Walking Dead” fame. We did a photo with Laurie Holden (Andrea from”The Walking Dead”) the year before, and wanted to continue the tradition this year. The tradition continued in more ways than one: last year, we did our photo with Laurie Holden, but had to come back after our photo because the camera malfunctioned. The same thing happened this year. Will it happen again next year? I hope so. Emily was extremely sweet, and Jon seemed really excited to be at the show. So much so, that I went back to his booth on Sunday and we chatted for a while. He even recorded a voice message for my wife, who is a huge fan of his. (wink wink)
What can I say? He likes to point.
I was also happy that more, better comic talent was on hand this year. Of course, some of my favorites like Neal Adams and Chris Samnee who were at the 2013 show were there, but bringing in great talents like Greg Capullo, David Mack, Salvador Larroca, Matt Kindt and Greg Horn really helped strengthen the comic side of things. I also met some extremely awesome artists and creators. Chris Samnee was charming as always, and David Mack, a favorite artist of mine for a long time, was a delight to talk to and interact with. He was giving out Kabuki prints, and after I asked how his Kickstarter was going, gave me a book on the house.
Also, Greg Capullo, despite his Black Label Society hat and generally tough look, was one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Same goes for the legendary Mike Grell, who was a blast to talk with and even came around for a photo with me at the show.
Greg Capullo. Seriously awesome and humble man.
Mike Grell. Such an amazing artist and person in general.
On the other side of that coin, some of the artists were a bit…rougher to deal with. In 2013, Neal Adams charged five bucks for unlimited autographs. It’s was $20 this year. Per signature. Definitely a bit steeper than I was expecting and had money for. He said it’s to offset the comic grading groups like CGC who charge tons of money to do signature authentication and the people that turn around and sell signed and sketched books, and while I can see wanting to get a piece of that market, when people like Grell, Capullo and others do it for free or next to nothing, it makes it hard to justify dropping a Jackson, let alone two or three. Still, it was great talking with him.
Shaking hands with the legendary Neal Adams.
Sadly, Arthur Suydam was a bit of a jerk this year, putting up a sign stating he was selling his prints for one price, but when you went to purchase them, he was charging another. That and his general attitude at the show was a bit abrasive, like he didn’t want to be there. Maybe he had a bad day or something. Even so, the fact that people enjoy your work and want to talk with you would turn my day around if I was in a bad mood. There’s no excuse to be crass or rude to your fans.
Some of the vendors there who were at the show strictly to sell comics were asking upwards of double and triple what a book was worth. I understand you have to make a profit and you have to pay for your (sometimes) absurd amount of space on the convention floor, but you should do that with volume vs. price-gouging. You want to know why most people get their books online? The answer is vendors charging $250 for a $60-75 book.
Waiting to pick up your celeb photos was grueling. I understand that there are 300+ people picking up their photo taken with Nathan Fillion and that they were printing them on-site, but a 45-minute wait is a bit extreme, especially after waiting in line for over an hour, and walking the convention floor over 12 hours. It was exhausting.
Some of the artists and creators that were scheduled to be there either no-showed or were busy with panels and discussions, with no notice on the website or on the floor until you got to their booth. Unfortunately, one of the people I was excited to talk with again, Cullen Bunn, had to cancel. Thankfully he posted about it on Twitter. Sadly, the website didn’t have any updates once the show started. It’d be nice if they could change that.
Also, padded floors next year. Make it happen, guys. I lost a camera this year due to it giving sweet kisses to the concrete floor. Also, it’d be nice to sit for a while on something. If you can’t get padded floors, maybe a few benches or something here and there.
All in all, I had a fantastic, exhausting time at Wizard World St. Louis this year, and have to give props to Wizard for hosting myself and The Ozark Radio Network once again. Hopefully, we can do it again next year.