Archive for the 'Nerd Takes' Category

05
Aug
14

Ladies and Gents: Your New Disney Princess

I had another post I was working on, but this came into my Facebook feed so it gets precedence because, well:

 

Can’t wait to see her in the Disney Parade of Princesses or whatever they call that gridlock several times a day on Main Street.

 

Back with more substantive things later.

17
Jul
14

Female Thunder Gods, Black Avengers and Other Things That Seem to Scare Comic Fans

We’re about to get super-comic-book-geeky here so, you may want to grab onto something and hold on.

I’m not 100 percent certain, but the world might be ending.

image via BleedingCool.com

First, Marvel Comics announced that Thor, god of Thunder, will be a woman.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough for one week, they announced that Captain America will now be…..black. Yes, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon aka just about the coolest part of Captain America: Winter Soldier will be taking up the mantle after Steve Rogers somehow got really old and is more concerned with his Depends than what the Red Skull is doing.

OH DEAR GOD PLEASE STAY OFF THE INTERNET AS IT EXPLODES.

Listen, I’m no fan of change for the sake of change or PR stunts. I’m not bothering to buy the “How Wolverine Dies Until The Next Movie” series going on right now. And honestly, they can talk about how neither of these things are stunts, but we all know things will go back to normal when the new Thor, Captain America or Avengers movies come out. Just like Wolverine will come back from the dead the moment Wolverine 3: Even More Wolveriney or X-Men: Seriously It’s Only About Logan comes out down the road.

But I don’t get the knee jerk and, frankly, ridiculous reaction to either of the above changes.

Let’s assume for a moment they are both well written. I know, that can be dicey in comics, but indulge me. Isn’t story the ultimate determination as to whether something is worthwhile?

We all knew Cap was coming back when he was shot and killed in the comics because it was before the first movie. But writer Ed Brubaker did such an extraordinary job making Bucky (Cap’s former partner) transition into Captain America that when Bucky left the role (died, sort of) it was actually a bummer.

When it was announced that Barbara Gordon was returning to her role as Batgirl, we weren’t sold. She had been defined by the events of The Killing Joke and been in a wheelchair for so long it was who she was to fans. In fact, in many ways her struggle to overcome her disability and the wheelchair were an excellent thing for kids to see.

But Gail Simone came along and absolutely nailed Babs in her return to crime-fighting and (more importantly) walking that we forgot about our misgivings.

What is it about change in comics which makes us upset?

In the recent instances, it’s hard not to see the push-back in purely racial and gender terms and it seems as if a lot of the issues people have with it is that they immediately assume it’s the “PC-police” forcing a change.

I actually understand that thought as once upon a time, I thought it too. When Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) was brutally killed and replaced by Jaime Reyes, I wondered if it was driven solely by political correctness. I wondered the same thing when The Question died of cancer and was replaced by Renee Montoya.

image via Wikipedia

I’m not proud of my gut reaction, but I want to be honest about it to make a point.

Something about it seemed unfair. I can’t tell you what it was, only that it happened. In so far as The Question, that was likely in part to my love for what we did when I worked on the Justice League animated series. Seeing him replaced bugged me and that might be why.

But I ask myself why I disliked the idea of Beetle or Question or even Firestorm (who died in the dumbest way possible) being replaced and I don’t have a rational answer. I didn’t love any of the characters save Question (and again, for personal reasons) and none of them were comics or characters who drew big numbers on the sales racks.

And I have no rational reason because, if I’m honest about that time in my life, the reason wasn’t rational. I think I was upset on some level because I was watching three traditionally white, male characters get the brush off in favor of a different gender or color.

Again, I’m not proud of that, but I think looking back on it that it’s true.

And I can’t help but wonder if that’s true of many people reacting to Falcon-Cap and Fem-Thor.

image via ABCnews.com

Certainly if you read the comments (never do that) it’s there in subtext if nothing else.

Why is that?

I mean, not to get even more geeky here but Norse gods have always been mutable (hell, gods in general – Zeus anyone?) so Thor being a woman isn’t insane from the mythology. And honestly, if Captain America is the representation of the US as it stands, it makes sense to me that he isn’t a blond-haired, blue eyed white dude.

And who better than Wilson, his long-time partner (now that Bucky/Winter Soldier isn’t a choice)?

I have no explanation as to why changing a race or gender riles comic fans up. It doesn’t do that to me anymore (especially once I read the rebooted characters). I’m not sure why it ever did.

But I think it’s time to get over it. I think it’s time for readers – particularly white, male readers who have been the bulk of readership for a long time and get pandered too far more than we should – to let go of it.

If the story is good, the story is good. What does it matter if  Thor a woman? Or Ms. Marvel is a Muslim or Superman of Earth-2 is black?

The stories are either good or they aren’t.

And speaking of stories, let’s applaud comics for trying anything new. After all, there’s no new story to tell, just different ways to tell them. How can you make the same superhero nonsense fresh? Shake things up.

Too often that mean rebooting the universe *coughcoughDCcoughcough* and changing little or reverting things to status quo regardless of past stories *coughcoughMarvelcoughcough*.

image via Marvel Comics

So Thor is a woman? He’s also been an alien and a frog,  used to turn into a crippled mortal with a cane and at one point was a construction worker.  Cap’s been replaced at least three times I can think of in his own comic, and according to Marvel mythology, was several different people in the 50s and 60s.

Who cares if we change up who is holding Mjolnir or the shield? This could be a good jumping off point for stories as it was for Batgirl, Bucky-Cap and Ultimate Spiderman (currently Miles Morales).

That’s what will matter .

The stories are either good or they aren’t.

Hopefully these stories will open up opportunities for creators to put together more original female and minority characters like the aforementioned Ms. Marvel (on of my favorite books right now).

Meanwhile, maybe this is a chance for some new takes on old stories.

And if you don’t like it, oh well. As you can say about the weather in some states: wait five minutes and it’ll change.

Meanwhile enjoy the ride and stop bitching for once. We have two new heroes to follow. Let’s see where they take us.

14
Apr
14

One Week Late Movie Reviews: Captain America—Winter Soldier

Welcome to another edition of One Week Late Movie Reviews at DMR.

As always we’re here for those of you who don’t get out to see movies during the opening few weeks. Because once you’re a dad (or mom), how the heck do you have time?

Captain America: Winter Soldier is the type of movie you might see with your kids, depending on age and how they handle violence.

And there is plenty of violence, as is the case with most superhero movies. There’s some blood and some gunshots and whereas it is fine for my 12 and 8 year olds, it might not be for yours. As I always say—don’t assume because there are superheroes that the movie is appropriate for every kid.

Before we get into this—you’ve almost all seen Marvel movies at this point. Why are you leaving the theater before the credits end?

Don’t do that.

Stuff always happens during and after the credits. The same is true for this offering.

And of course, the requisite warning.

seriously kids don't open that door if you don't want them

seriously kids don’t open that door if you don’t want them

First of all, if you’ve read the comic version of the Winter Soldier story, you should be very happy. The team behind this movie captured the feel of Ed Brubaker’s tale perfectly, even if the content had to be shifted here and there.

Cap aka Steve Rogers aka Popsicle Man has always been a tough character. For much of my comic-reading life (and it’s vast) he hasn’t really grabbed my attention. Most of it has been the way he’s written—people tend to not know what to do with him. There have been very good storylines in the past, but he seemed most interesting pummeling Nazis.

Enter writer Ed Brubaker in 2005. Perhaps somewhat influenced by The Ultimates in 2002, Brubaker took Cap in a slightly more serious direction. While supervillians were still in evidence, everything was muted, more serious from a tone standpoint.

image via Forbes

Working with SHIELD, Cap was one part spy, one part living legend and superhero. While he would still do big superhero things, he also worked “behind the scenes” fighting threats who were bent on controlling the world through more subtle means as much as through the normal tropes of comics—you know, big, bad killer robots and evil satellites.

But here was a Cap who made sense to me—not just some guy who was wearing a flag but a guy desperate to keep his country safe while wearing it.

And always, always wondering where the line was. Cap also had a sort of weight to him often frequent in other characterizations. What does it mean to be Captain America in today’s world? What does it mean to be a guy who essentially took a six decade nap? How does that weigh on you? Where do you fit.

Like the Cap in comics, Chris Evans Cap in the movies is a guy trying to figure out all of the above.

Thrust into a world of spies and ulterior motives, grays instead of black and white (where WWII he lived in the first movie), Cap finds himself increasingly uncomfortable with the world we—and now he—lives in.

After having it out with SHIELD boss Nick Fury over a side mission and pondering whether he should call it quits (including a very sad scene with one of the few remaining links from his past), all Hell breaks lose. Fury shows up at his apartment, battered and bruised, tells him not to trust anyone and then is shot—seemingly to die, though let’s be honest, we all know that old SHIELD directors don’t die, they burn their eye-patch and fade away.

image via WednesdaysHeroes.com

What follows is an interesting thriller-style take on superhero shenanigans. HYDRA has subverted SHIELD (acronyms are fun!) for their own nefarious purposes, Cap and Black Widow are on the run (with Cap’s new BFF The Falcon who is AWESOME) and just when you think it can’t get more tangled, we find out that the Winter Soldier—a deadly assassin working for HYDRA—is actually Bucky Barnes, Cap’s lifelong friend who appeared to have died in WWII.

He survived, HYDRA brainwashed him and replaced his wounded left arm with a cybernetic attachment and have used him to cause chaos since.

In the end the good guys win—kind of. Because this is a Marvel movie and a “spy” movie, nobody totally wins.

Least of all Cap, who must confront his brainwashed friend in order to save the day. And even in this, the movie (like the comic) makes the situation anything but straightforward. Cap owes Bucky a ton and loves him like a brother—in the end when his friend might die, Cap saves him even though he knows the guy isn’t really the same person he knew. Even when Buck-Bot is pounding on him, Cap will not fight his friend.

image via ComicVine.com

There has been some interesting compare and contrast between this moment and the one at the end of last summer’s Man of Steel which I won’t rehash, though I agree with much of it, including this piece at ScreenCrush.com. While Cap works with people who will kill (and has done so himself), he is, at heart, someone who feels that there has to be an alternative.

The movie also has some fantastic subtext. The idea of a Government/Big Brother/SHIELD profiling people. The grey landscape of politics. Even the difficulty of our soldiers returning from combat and the problems they face fitting in.

There’s a lot going on here for the price of your ticket.

Whether you like watching guys in tights punch each other or are a fan of thrillers, this is a movie which delivers, but doesn’t settle for the basics. It’s a flick which is worth watching, and probably more than once.

image via DailyNews.com

Marvel is churning out movies I never expected to see in my life. If they can get a few strong female characters in solo flicks, they’ll have absolutely buried the vast majority of DC/Warner Bros superhero offerings.

Also, this film was given super-high marks by both Alpha Tween and The Professor who both loved it.

12
Dec
13

Keep Calm and Nerd On

keep calm and geek onThe way I got here was so circuitous (as it is with most ‘places’ I arrive at) I won’t confuse you with it, but I found myself back reading a Tumblr post I had come across months ago by artist Joel Watson of the webcomic Hijinks Ensue.

The story Watson shares is a sweet one, about an interaction between a father and a son at this year’s San Diego Comicon.

It’s about acceptance and taking a few moments to enjoy time with the people you care about.

It struck home with me for a couple of reasons but the biggest one was the part about acceptance.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed nerd, geek or whatever the whole “acceptance” thing is important. I certainly have felt alone or different most of my life.  I’m willing to bet most of us have whether we admit it or not.

It took a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin—and I readily admit there are days I still don’t. Which is amazing because the more I work in media and the more people I meet, the more I find they hold very similar interests to my own.

So the post hits home because one of the things I really want to do with the boys is to empower them to love what they love and not worry about what others think of it.

Not long ago Alpha Tween (who recently I considered re-naming Sullen Tween because hormones) relayed a story to me about something that happened at school.

image via 4kids Entertainment

Despite being 12, Alpha is still a fan of Pokemon. I’ve never totally understood the fascination (though I am a fan of Psiduck) but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

And he definitely has friends who still enjoy looking at and playing with the cards and video games.

He was with his friends at lunch and two of his friends were doing something with Pokemon cards. Alpha was watching, not playing but hanging out when he ended up in a conversation with two 6th graders.

The younger kids asked him if his friends were really playing Pokemon. Alpha responded, yes they were.

They then asked him if he liked Pokemon too. Alpha said he did.

The two kids then proceeded to make fun of all three kids, laughing as they walked away.

I asked him how he felt about it and he shrugged.

“What do I care what they think? I like what I like.”

I’d like to think he learned this from my wife and I. That when his younger brother was running around in pretty princess dresses and we didn’t bat an eye, he learned it’s OK to be different.

That no matter what others think, who you are is fine.

That’s going to be a fight, especially for the tween/teen years which are all about standing out by fitting in. But we’re well on our way.

I think, ultimately, this is why geek culture has become such a “thing” over the last decade. It’s about acceptance. It’s filled with people who “didn’t fit in” to what the norm was, who learned to embrace differences in others because they had their own rejected and in some cases belittled.

Sure, there is infighting because every group on earth has jackholes in it (I believe that’s a law) but by and large it’s an accepting bunch.

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked—even the people who try hard to make you think they don’t. On some level, they absolutely do.

Hopefully my wife and I can put together a pair of kids who will help them feel that way and who will always feel that way themselves.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

14
Aug
13

Orange May be the New Black but Larry is Just an Old Jackass

“Waahhhh my fiance is in prison it’s so tough on meeeeeeeee… can you hand me another scotch and the TV remote?” image via listal.com

So I finally finished the first season of Orange is the New Black, one of Netflix’s batch of original series (all of which have been interesting and well executed efforts).

For those who don’t know, Orange is the New Black is the story of Piper Chapman, a woman serving a prison term for carrying drug money for her former girlfriend, Alex, when she was younger. Life had moved on for Piper, known among the prisoners as Chapman, but her past eventually caught up with her.

I know it’s been pretty hit or miss for people so far but overall I liked it quite a bit.

What I haven’t enjoyed has been the character of Larry, Chapman’s fiance.

Oh, by the way:

seriously kids don't open that door if you don't want them

seriously kids don’t open that door if you don’t want them

I suppose in order to contrast the insanity and abnormality of prison, the creators of Orange is the New Black decided they needed to balance it out with the normal world outside the barbed wired fences and prison walls.

Hence Larry, the fiance.

Any scene with Larry’s character is one, long, whine-filled segment of annoying filler.

Mind you, it’s not the fault of Jason Biggs, the actor. I don’t mind him, though he plays virtually the same character in everything I’ve ever seen him in.

No, the problem is that the writers have done a bad job of making him sympathetic. It’s really hard to feel anything but loathing for a guy complaining that he’s oh so lonely because he wife is in prison when he complains to his yuppie friends in his comfy pub while his wife is having her sleeping cube tossed by douche-bag the guard.

It’s like “hey I’m sure it’s really rough for you having to masturbate instead of having sex with your girlfriend but you know she’s in prison right?”

Followed by “feel free to finish sipping your Blue Moon beer and watching the end of the Yankee game before you answer, I’m sure your fiance will wait while she gets searched for contraband.”

The problem is that we only see Larry – or Chapman’s mom, her brother, her fiend Polly, Larry’s parents – occasionally and briefly. It’s not his show. It’s Chapman’s and as she’s in prison, well, that’s where the show is.

Unfortunately, since we’re supposed to see some of the life she is missing, we get stuck with Larry. Just not enough to show him in a sympathetic light.  In fact, just about every person in Chapman’s pre-prison life is a complete ass.

Even when Larry finally gets his “big break” as a writer, he (and it) comes off as self-serving. Larry writes an article about the effect of her incarceration on them as a couple, but while Chapman seems fine with it he clearly goes into details she’s not OK with. He then follows it up with an appearance on radio where he tells even more stories out of turn, which makes her life a nightmare.

At that point he’s found out that Chapman is sleeping with Alex Vause – the woman who got her into this mess in the first place. Instead of calling Piper on it or talking to her, he dodges her calls (a pretty petty thing to do to an inmate) and then heads onto the radio to blab about things he shouldn’t.

Even he says it’s childish and vindictive.

There’s an interesting angle here – that we often spend parts of our relationships pissed off at how our partner’s issues impact us, not them – but if that is subtext here, it’s so deep that we can’t see it.

So for Season 2 of this show, I truly hope that if Larry returns (and one assumes he will) they find a way to make him an actual character and not just a whiny douche.

Either that or have Pennsatucky survive and shank him in the Visitor’s Room.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

01
Aug
13

Shhhhhh She’s Watching Doctor Who……

image via the Coventry Telegraph

So as we speak The Wife—my wonderful, charming wife—is watching the first season of the reboot of Doctor Who.

I think she’s four or so episodes in.

I’m afraid to go watch with her and disturb the vibe. I think she’s enjoying it.

It’ll get to the Daleks at some point and she’ll skip the episode because the voices hurt her ears, but the boys in the house are hopeful the watching continues.

I’m pretty sure if she gets through Eccleston and into Tennant we’ll have her!

And then she will never escape!

She’s a geek girl, mind you so Doctor Who was an inevitability but she fought it because—well it can be awfully goofy. And the Dalek voices are grating.

But she got talked into the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Shaun of the Dead and Torchwood, loves both the book and television versions of Game of Thrones, reads Harry Dresden books and bought me all three movie posters of the Lord of the Rings flicks—then  framed them. She’s a huge Firefly fan.

So as The Agent said to Neo in The Matrix:

It was only a matter of time before the Big Blue Box sucked her in.

ps – THE NEW DOCTOR IS BEING ANNOUNCED SUNDAY! ALL HAIL THE BBC!

pps- I hope they go in a whole new direction – a female or non-white Doctor. Would be fun.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

26
Jul
13

My New Life’s Ambition Involves Zombies

I have a lot of ambition.

Some of it has been realized—attending and covering the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and covering the NFL Draft live at Radio City Music Hall. I’ve done both for about five years now.

Some of it has not—I want to cover the Super Bowl, I want to publish a book and I want to sky dive.

I’ll get to them at some point of course.

I have a new ambition now, one which may not be easy, but I’m putting it out into the universe anyway.

My newest ambition is to to get on The Talking Dead.

image via AMC

For those of you unfamiliar, The Talking Dead is a talk show, hosted by Chris Hardwick of Nerdist fame, which airs right after each episode of The Walking Dead, the awesome zombie television show on AMC.

You might also recognize his voice from Back to the Barnyard.

Basically, the show gathers Hardwick and three other people (sometimes cast members, sometimes celebrity fans) who then talk about the show in general as well as the episode we just saw.

Man, I so need to be on this show.

I would be an awesome guest. I know the show and comic backwards and forwards. I’m funny (RIGHT?) and well spoken.

I’m even semi-famous thanks to the videos I do at Bleacher Report.

I’ve got it all!

Hey, I even have a post planned for sometime in the next few weeks (one of the Pops in Pop Culture pieces) about Rick Grimes as a dad.

Honestly, there’s no harder job than parenting during the apocalypse. You can’t even fob them off on the public school system to get a break from the little monsters.

Yeah, I’ve got takes for days about this show.

So there it is. I’m not sure how to make it happen yet, but it will happen.

Then I just have to get the kids on The Walking Dead itself as zombies and all will be well.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?




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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages