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Will the real Captain America please stand up?

30 Jul

Jack Kirby (& heirs) Vs. Marvel Comics

Yes, I am going there. But for all the right reasons. For a little while now, a court case has been under way to get back the rights or at least get royalties from Marvel Comics for the late Jack ‘King’ Kirby and his heirs from the 100s of millions made from creations which without Kirby would not exist, such as Hulk, Fantastic Four, and oh, that money spinner, X-Men. Every comic fan/reader must know about Kirby for it goes without saying, that he is as important to American/Western comics as Leonardo Da Vinci is to modern art and as Anant Pai was to Indian comics.

 As you may or may not be aware of, this past week saw the final verdict given on the decades long struggle between the estate of Jack Kirby and Marvel Comics -which is owned by Disney.  The court ruled ‘legally’ in favor of Marvel Comics. And therefore all rights to Kirby’s work will remain in the hands of Marvel to do as they see fit and as with any powerhouse they have every right to. Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool has been so cool as to place the entire ruling up for all fans and interested parties to read for themselves. So, I am not gonna try and explain the legal fine print here in this column, but do have a read for yourselves. It will give you a good understanding of how far things have come.

Capt. America #1

For years, to all of us who have/had been Marvel Comics fans due to the great ensemble of superhero and mutant books put out by the stable. The company for years helped various artists and writers to break into the medium in the USA. Having grown into a pop culture icon, Stan Lee has taken the characters Jack created in a whole new universe. Just look at the movies, toys and over the top branding of the recent Thor and now Captain America, both were also co-created by Kirby.
Loyalist and those who believe a person should get recognition for his creations and royalties paid, especially in this age of multi-million dollar lawsuits, and brands which could easily buy some countries around the globe, should at least step aside from the legal decision now that its over,  and look to rectify to the Kirby Heirs and to us, as consumers who indirectly allow an injustice to continue by allowing a man like Jack Kirby to continue (even after his passing), to be treated as a Coolie, carrying the bags of Marvel Comics while others reap of his work, slaving for a company, he felt, had for years mistreated him.

‘King’ Kirby

As both a writer and artist, not trying to say I am anything of any import among these giants, when I hear about someone who is unfairly treated by companies, I get angry, for lack of a better description. As part of my Bachelors Degree in Digital Filmmaking we discussed at length over ownership rights and work for hire and creations made and or, written whilst in the employ of a company, as the legals issues seem not to allow for creator rights in certain situations, (make sure you read the fine print). You see the law is always clear cut when it comes to who owns what, when and also how long for. But what it sometimes seems to ignore is the emotions, creative passions and angst which comes with trying to bring about something out of thin air.
In this case Marvel Comics have won, and also we must remember as has Disney. The losers are of course, Jack Kirby, who just doesn’t seem to catch a break and his heirs.

   Now I am not saying that the fault lies with Marvel Comics or the Kirby Heirs here, but its a done deal. A loser and a winner. But, I as a comic fan and creator feel something needs to be done here for Jack. Its time to let the world know that without him American Comics would not be the rich green pasture it is today and that those comic characters would not have the same appeal they did for fans before us and those who will follow.  But it would behove, Stan Lee to at least set the record straight and put the matter to rest as to who did what and when, now that the gavel has fallen. Lets have a clean slate. Jack Kirby will always be King.

(ARU), Aruneshwar has just finished his Bachelors Degree in Digital Media -Digital Film-making.
Having decided to become a teacher so he can see the world, he has just begun a
Diploma in Digital Media -Multimedia. On the creative side Aru,
is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalised Slavery of
Indians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. He is a prolific script writer and writes in all comic
book genres which include several graphic novels for his own company,
Rising Sun Comics.

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

25 Jul
What can be said about the latest addition to the Avengers team and the most recent incarnation of Captain America? How about… AWESOME! 

Don’t worry, we here at Comic Addicts understand your concern. Right about now you’re probably asking yourselves questions like, “How do we know this isn’t a re-hash of everything that’s been done before?” or “Does Chris Evans really make a good Captain America?” or “Did they cop out and make it a superhero love story?” The quick short answers to those questions are, “Trust us it’s not. Yes he really does. And no, they did not.”
Chris Evans as The Cap
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So what makes this Captain America different? Well there are three things done in Captain America: First Avenger that help to make the story more concrete and real. Steve Rogers wasn’t picked for the experiment simply because he was willing and because he was weak. Rogers was chosen for his heart, mind, and the drive to do good. The next element is that after Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) was killed it was Colonel Chester Phillips’ (Tommy Lee Jones) inclination to send Rogers to the lab to be studied so that perhaps the process and formula could be recreated. It wasn’t the same old, “Well we at least got you, so we’ll put you out on the front lines!” No, Rogers had to earn his due. The other element is that Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) isn’t the plucky Robin-esque sidekick this time. He is Rogers’ friend and the same age. They grew up together and in fact Bucky was the one who bailed Rogers out of fights in back-alleys.

Does Chris Evans make a good Captain America? Yes, he does. What makes him different? Evans’ approach to Cap is that he’s still unsure of himself, but very willing to just jump in as well as disobey orders to do what is right. Evans also plays Cap with a level of intelligence. He’s not some spandex clad monkey simply taking orders. Well, not after the USO shows anyway! As for the love story, well it’s very subtle. There are hints and flirts throughout the film, but the story doesn’t revolve around it. So breathe easy knowing that it’s not a smooch-fest in costume.

Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, now was there ever any doubt he couldn’t do it? After parts such as V in V for Vendetta and Agent Smith in The Matrix trilogy he was an excellent choice for the part. Weaving’s Red Skull is brilliant but greedy, with his own vision of the world and the drive to make that vision come true. So in other words, he’s pretty spot on to the comics.
Agent Red Skull
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As for some of the supporting characters, they were cast and played wonderfully as well. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) makes it easy to see that Tony a.k.a. Iron Man didn’t fall far from the tree. The Howling Commandos: Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), Jones (Derek Luke), Morita (Kenneth Choi), Falsworth (JJ Field), and Dernier (Bruno Ricci) were every bit as rambunctious and calculating as they were in the comics. Although you don’t see Nick Fury until the end of the film.There are little things to keep your eye out for throughout the film. For example, at the World’s Fair, you get a brief shot of a man in a glass tube labeled “The Synthetic Man”. It’s the original human torch, though you never get to see him flame up.
There is also a nod to the 1970’s series Captain America starring Reb Brown who was the Captain America that rode the motorcycle and was an artist. There are other such little things tucked away in the film that undoubtedly you’ll all pick up on. Although we’re sure it goes without saying, we’re still going to say it – don’t leave until after the credits.
Avengers Assemble!!!
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Overall a fantastic film that makes Captain America seem much more plausible than past incarnations. Much better than the Roger Corman flick (not that it takes much). Watch it for yourselves and tell us what you think.
The Shield – No, not Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap’s Weapon + Armor
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Taking a Look at the X-Men Movies

7 Jun

With X-Men: First Class having hit theaters this weekend we thought it appropriate to take a closer look at the X-Men movies. The movies have become a continuum all unto themselves. Still we have to ask: where exactly does X-Men: First Class fit into the other movies? Does it follow the timelines and stories set up in the original trilogy? Does it have the core essentials from the comics? That is what we are going to explore.

There are currently five X-men movies out and one that’s a bit stalled. The movies are: X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine Origins, and X-Men: First Class. There is a sequel to Wolverine, but the director has walked off due to a divorce. So far the X-Men movie franchise has made $786,495,030. Granted this doesn’t include the latest installment X-Men: First Class. So far the numbers for X-Men: First Class is $56,000,000. The interesting aspect of the franchise is that the latest installments have been prequels. Wolverine Origins specifically follows Wolverine on his journeys before joining up with the X-Men. First Class is the formation of the X-Men and how Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr formed their friendship before becoming frenemies.

The first two X-Men movies were great in that they had the classic characters that everyone knew as well as showing the hardships of being a mutant in society. There were tweaks such as a younger Rogue and the brother/sister bond she formed with Wolverine. Then they made Toad a much more athletic character because of getting Ray Parks Jr. to play him. Those were all little adjustments that were livable and that worked. Then there were some things that didn’t. One of the biggest faux pas in the first movie was Mystique being able to get into Cerebro. She can change her appearance, but not alter her retinas.

Granted we could spend all day nit picking on every little thing they did wrong, but that’s just being petty. After all the movies did allow us to see these characters brought to life on the big screen. Having said that, lets just focus on the big mistakes that have been made and where the latest installment fits in.

No one makes a movie with a prequel in mind. At the same time though, if a prequel is made they should pay attention to what came before as well as making sure it’s true to the source material. These are the biggest problems with X-Men: First Class between the original trilogy, Wolverine Origins, and the comics themselves. We should caution you that there is the possibility of spoilers. Having said that, let’s take a look at how this X-Men prequel relates, or doesn’t, to the X-Men continuum.

1. In the end of X-Men: First Class Xavier loses the use of his legs

a. In the end of Wolverine Origins Xavier WALKS off of a plane to take the mutants from the evil mutant experimentation island

b. The beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand Xavier WALKS into Jean Grey’s house to recruit her to his school

2. The original First Class in the comics consisted of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman

a. In the movie the First Class was Havok, Beast, Mystique, Banshee, and Magneto

3. Cerebro was built by Hank McCoy

a. In the first X-Men Xavier told Wolverine that he and Magneto had built it

4. Xavier and Magneto go their separate ways at the end of the film

a. Again in the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand a young Xavier and Magneto go into Jean Grey’s house to recruit her for the school

Granted that these are the things that the movie missed. There were some things that X-Men: First Class did very well. For instance:

1. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender not only looked like younger versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, but did a fantastic job conveying the motivation and emotions of the characters as they started on this epic journey.

2. The chemistry between the two was phenomenal.

a. It would have been great if they had built more upon that for the movie, but after all it wasn’t supposed to be a superhero bro-mance.

3. It was nice to see more of Beast

a. It seemed like Kelsey Grammer got a little short changed in X-Men: The Last Stand.

4. It was good to see the fun playful side that McAvoy brought out in Xavier.

a. Being able to see a lighter side to the always serious Professor X.

5. Kevin Bacon makes a great villain

a. To him killing someone is simply on the “to do” list

6. Having the film take place in the 1960’s during the Cold War made for a wonderful set up for the plot as well as the start of the hatred towards mutants in a time when African Americans and women are seeking equal rights.

a. Much like Watchmen the time period really helped to make the film work as well as add a level of social complexity which has always been a signature for the X-Men.

7. Get to see new mutants brought to life on the big screen.

Overall X-Men: First Class is a fun movie looking at the X-Men from a slightly different perspective. If it was a stand alone film it would have been perfect. Unfortunately there was a trilogy that came before it that had established characters and given a rough timeline. Although to be able to see what makes these two mutant advocates and leaders tick makes the movie very worthwhile.

Remember, no movie adaptation is ever going to be 100% accurate and a prequel is always going to do something to mess up the timeline set by the original. Still, go watch it for yourself and let us know what you think.