Three Joker’s Thoughts

The Criminal. The Comedian. The Clown.

Bruce. Barbara. Jason.

Three Joker’s meet three heroes.

Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok present us with The Three Jokers nearly 5 years after the concept was first introduced during the Darkseid War storyline in the Justice League book. Teases of it showed up here and there in the Batman books for DC Comics. By moving it to the Black Label line it is not shackled by that continuity of the regular comic books.

If you ask anyone I am not the biggest fan of the Joker. This is a character that is often overexposed to levels usually limited to Batman and Wolverine in today’s comics. Because of that sometimes alternate takes on him do not seem to fit together and want nice neat puzzle. By creating the concept of the Three Jokers, Johns nicely wrote a way out of this particular conundrum.

The art is wonderful. Jason Fabok’s work has been missing for far too long. He had really come into his own during the Darkseid War storyline. Which unfortunately seems like the last time we saw Fabok’s work. Besides depicting the current day story He also depicts scenes from the past most notably some of the more chilling scenes from The Killing Joke and Death in the Family.

This is one of Johns strengths-pulling from DC Comics history as a foundation for new stories. This is not simply a story of Batman versus the Joker. I would say in this first installment it is much more about Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon. Red Hood and Batgirl.

Of all the members of the Bat family they have suffered far worse than anyone else. And the Joker’s desire to make them suffer has little to do with either Jason or Barbara, it is all about hurting the Bat.

The best and probably most disturbing moment of this issue came when the Joker was reliving his beating to death of Jason Todd. Not only did Jason, just a kid then, beg for his life He also said he would do anything if the Joker would spare him.

He said he would be HIS Robin…

And in a way he has. Taking the moniker Red Hood(one of the Joker’s earliest aliases), at times becoming a criminal and then a merciless vigilante breaking Batman’s one rule. You could say that Jason’s change it since coming back from the dead may hurt Bruce even worse than his death.

This is just a first issue. There will be much more to unpack and I’m sure many more twists and turns before we come close to the finish. But it was a very good start.

And one that may even soften my personal stance on the Joker.

That in itself is a huge accomplishment.

Coming Home

Life is a journey

Journeys end. Time comes for a man to find his way back home.

Before I sweep the cobwebs away and dust off my trusty typewriter (laptop) I have a story to tell.

I started The Pulp Chronicles in the summer of 2013. I had been doing some freelance sportswriting and I wanted a venue for some of my other writing endevours.

And write I did. I am still proud of the work I produced under this banner. But it was not easy writing here, doing my sportswriting, not to mention my day job that paid the bills. Something had to give, something needed to change.

So in 2015 I had a bright idea. I would create one site to put all my creative pursuits under. No longer would I have to run multiple sites, just distill it down to one with separate sections. OneTrueGeek.com was born. I could see it: Sports Geek, Comic Geek, Writing Geek, etc…

It simply never became what I envisioned. Life got in the way, writing did not come. One True Geek slowly withered away.

Last year some friends and I started a comic news and opinion site ComicBook-Underground.com (come take a look). I was writing again. I was not on my own anymore. A team of writers and editors talking about the things we love.

Still I found myself longing for more. Sometimes you need a place all your own. A place that feels like home.

So I returned to a place I loved. After I unpack a bit I hope to get right back to work. Talking about movies, writing and yes comics. And not just other people’s stories. I have my own to tell. It may take a while. I feel like I am chipping away at a grand canvas but I am sure that it shall be worthwhile.

And the journey begins…again.

Black Panther: We Are All The Same Tribe

black_panther_2018_4k-3840x2400(Originally published on ComicBook-Underground.com)

A movie is not always just about one thing. There are layers.
On the surface the Black Panther is an excellent superhero film. Well-acted and direct, with some stunning special effects. They brought the fictional nation of Wakanda to life before our eyes.
Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan were perfect as two sides of the same coin. The Black Panther and Killmonger. It was a nice illustration of the sins of the father coming home. But that is not the whole story.
Director Ryan Coogler manages to weave multiple themes into one beautiful tapestry. There are minor missteps. Slight things that as a comic fan stood out to me but the average viewer might not even notice.
They explore some big ideas. And not just the low hanging fruit.
Yes, they explore the treatment of different ethnicities by those that wield power across the planet. Jordan’s character references the plight of slaves taken from Africa during the era of Colonization wanting to die a free man rather than live in a cage.
Beyond that they ask the question: Should those of us that have the means help the rest of the world? Is there a responsibility to care for our neighbors?
Can a world leader simply close their borders and ask everyone else on the planet to fend for themselves?
Yes, there is that temptation. The argument that it is not our problem, that we need to take care of our own house first.
This is a very ‘American’ question. It has come up time and time again and they do a nice job of framing their argument about it.
Ultimately we are all brothers across the world no matter how often we try to blow each other up. Taking care of each other is the only way we can take care of this Earth. Putting aside our own arrogance and selfishness to reach out with basic human compassion can save the world.
We are all the same tribe. We are brothers. We are sisters. We are family.
Time to act like it.

Origin of Powers

 

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There is a thrill that runs through you as Superman soars into the sky, much the same as we watch Thor call down lightning from the skies. We love the incredible powers gifted to these heroes(and villains). Beyond what they can do with these gifts there is a deeper question.

Where do these powers come from?

The creators imagine worlds greater than ours. Worlds where greater than human beings can fly, burst into flames, even call the powers of nature their own. With the great powers also comes the origin story. For me that is an important piece of the character. Where the powers come from can help determine the stories you tell.

There was a time when it seemed like every new character was a mutant. It was so simple to just say “oh he’s a mutant” and that explained away everything. During other eras it was the fortunate accident or alien heritage. For me that is lazy storytelling. I imagine a world where there are a myriad ways that characters might develop their powers.

Here are just a few examples:

Alien-Alien/Human Hybrid:

Superman is the first character that comes to mind. Born on another planet gave him his power once he reached ours. Nice and neat. They are an alien eliminates so very many questions. Of course it opens doors into what that alien civilization may be like or what other alien life forms they encountered.

Cultural Hero:

Some cultures have heroes whose powers are handed down from generation to generation. While the person behind the mask may change the name and powers stay the same.

Fortunate Accident:

I say fortunate because lets face it most of the accidents that create superpowers would actually turn out pretty bad for the victim in the real world. In the comics world it does give us characters like Spider Man and the Incredible Hulk. Some things are just better.

Government/Military Experimentation:

Two words. Captain America. One more. Deathstroke. It is not much of a stretch to imagine this worlds military organizations experimenting on its own soldiers(not to mention enemy combatants). The added bonus is you have characters already trained for battle.

Magic:

Sometimes it is a magic user, other times magical power is bestowed on a chosen one. From John Constantine to DC’s Captain Marvel to Doctor’s Fate & Strange right on to Zantana magic spells abound.

Mutation:

The X-Men do not have a monopoly on mutation. While most are familiar with mutants through Marvels various X-books there are other examples. Not quite born with powers, more born with the potential. With mutants it usually takes place around puberty. The Inhumans for example go through a right of passage which exposes them to the Terrigan Mists which activate an individuals powers.

Otherworldly Artifacts:

From the Quantum Bands to the Blue Beetle Scarab to one of the many-colored power rings objects often transfer their power to the wielder. Whether they are alien, ancient or magic based simple objects often hide great power.

Technology:

Sometimes it takes a super-genius. Tony Stark built his Iron Man-armour to fight his battles. He is not alone. Whether it is an incredible suit or a ship or even simple gadgets characters have used science for decades to help in the fight against crime. Or even just to commit crimes. Depends on where your morality lies.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. How these powers came about is just the start. That is when you start asking questions.

There should always be questions.

 

 

Blowing Up The Marvel Universe-part three

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What started as a two-part column has morphed into three. Sometimes good ideas cannot be contained. So here we have the final entry in my recreation of the Marvel Universe, hope you enjoy.

For the second part look here.

When we last left our intrepid heroes (I just always wanted to write that)…

As the RISE event continues it is clear the world needs its heroes. A great danger has risen in the Savage Land while the worlds premier superteams still stand down. The fifth week re-introduces some old favorites:

Daredevil

While other heroes deal otherworldly threats, someone must protect the common man. Daredevil is just that someone.

Nightcrawler

Kurt Wagner has lost his friends, he even lost his life. He never gave up hope.

X-Force

Cannonball and Dani Moonstar bring together X-Force once more in search of their one-time mentor Cable.

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket (do not call him a Raccoon) is one of a kind, and he plans on staying that way. While not saving the other Guardians Rocket will take any job if the price is right..

The entire rebuilding of the Marvel line has been building to this point. One of the things I wanted to do with this reboot was pare down the seemingly thousands of X-books and Avenger related titles. I wanted to break things down to their barest essentials.

As the world of men faces a dire threat the worlds greatest heroes return from their self-imposed exile. Week six commences:

The Uncanny X-Men

Scott Summers returns from space to lead the team he was born to lead. Who will make up this new team of X-Men?

Ryder and Vaughn

Quasar was the Protector of the Universe, but he couldn’t save his best friend. Now he crosses galaxies to bring Nova back.

The Avengers

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes return with Hawkeye at the helm. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Thor stand at his side as they forge a new team of Avengers.

Finding their way past the guilt of past failings the heroes of the Marvel Universe return to where they belong. Between the people they have pledged to protect and that which threatens them.

When it comes to a choice of them or no one, these heroes will always make the right choice. They will RISE.

It was a fun ride, but difficult. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

 

Blowing Up the Marvel Universe-part one

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Marvel Comics has their usual big events coming up. Avengers/X-Men Axis, Time Runs Out follow quickly after Original Sin. There are rumblings. There are suggestions. The popular thought is that Marvel Comics is thinking of doing a company wide reboot. After all DC Comics managed to do a mostly successful one with their New 52. So Marvel taking a shot at one would not be a surprise.

So how should we proceed…

Don’t call it a Reboot…

This should simply be a reset. We are not rebuilding the wheel here, we do not need to build the universe over from scratch. Keep all of the previous continuity. That was the mistake DC made. Fans wondered what counted and what did not. Problems can be fixed through the stories without saying that this or that never happened. They do it all the time in the comic book world so why not here and now.

So start with a tragedy, not something born of some super-villain. Something born of everyday life-natural disaster, political conflict, terrorism, pick one. The heroes failed. They had one job, protect the everyman and woman out there from harm. They did not. They failed and they only have themselves to blame. Everything falls apart. No more X-men, no Avengers. The world turns.

After the fall, heroes must RISE.

Start with an eight issue bi-weekly event series titled RISE. It would tell the story of the heroes coming back from the brink to once again do the jobs they were meant for.

During the first week of the event series I would start releasing new series slowly. A few at a time, until you have the starting line of books released. Here we go…

Tales to Astonish

an anthology series telling stories from across the entirety of the Marvel Universe. With the ongoing feature-Old Man Fury.

The first issue would feature a story about Old Man Fury(the original Nick Fury) and Samuel L. Fury battling the supernatural force of nature Fury in an epic tale that has to be called “A Boatload of Fury’s”

Illuminati

They broke it, now is time for them to fix it. The Illuminati were the shadows manipulating things behind the scenes. They thought they knew best. They were wrong. Now they are back to make up for past mistakes. Only thing is…what is the Red Skull doing with them?

The Amazing Spider Man

Peter Parker is the most pure, most human of the heroes. How does he balance being a hero with dealing with how they all have failed?

Thor-God of Thunder

Even Gods can fall. For all his power some things are beyond even Thor’s reach.

FireArm

Alec Swan was once an elite special agent, now an P.I. He lost friends when the heroes failed. Even now he continues to be drawn into the heroes world, whether he likes it or not.

Deadpool

Wade Wilson is the Merc with the Mouth. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. He may be crazy but we still love him.

Guardians of the Galaxy

They may protect the galaxy but Earth is still Peter Quill’s home. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and even Rocket Raccoon definitely have an interest in the little blue planet.

Now we are rolling downhill. Just getting started. So how exactly do you rebuild and entire comic universe? Check out part two to find out…

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy-buncha losers…

guardians

A talking raccoon and a tree walk into a bar…

I was sold on this movie from the get go. Not from the first scenes, not even from the first trailers they released. But from the very first I heard that the movie was being made. They had me from the word go.

When it was announced the Guardians of the Galaxy would star a walking tree of few words and a sarcastic raccoon many were beyond skeptical. Me, I thought it was brilliant. Yes I already had some familiarity with the characters, even without that I loved it.

It is fun. That is all. Fun. Too often movies miss out on that element of film-making, the joy.

What brought me in was not that we had another superhero movie, it was that it was a space hero movie. From Star Wars to Star Trek and beyond I love sci-fi and space movies. I cut my teeth on Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers on TV in the early eighties. More recently I found unending joy in Firefly and Farscape (one of the best sci-fi series ever), even if both series ended before their time.

There are no true superhero movies. You just have movies staring superheroes. It is that simple. Whether it is a cop movie or fantasy or action-adventure story, simply add a superhero and you have your superhero movie.

What made this awesome was taking superheroes and putting them in space. All the questions about realism go out the window, because you are already taking a leap of faith setting it in a far corner of the galaxy.

Guardians did a wonderful job of introducing unknown characters(to most of the audience) in short order. Even better it let you care about them. Yes it was heavy on the laughs, even in the face of danger. That is ok too. It is human, even if the characters are not.

Even after we get used to the jokes they managed to turn it around and shine a light on what loss these characters have suffered. Star Lord was taken from his home as a child, Gamora tortured and turned into a weapon by her adoptive father, Drax’s family was slaughtered, Rocket did not ask to be made and remade and experimented on. Groot is the purest of these characters. The best friend of Rocket he only speaks two sentences in the whole movie: “I am Groot” over and over again, and towards the end of the movie “We are Groot”. Groot had found his family. In the end they discover that they are each others family.

We all have been losers at one point or another. As Rocket said, “We all have dead people”. They come together because they are losers, people who have lost.

We could all learn something from these losers.

 

Lex Luthor leads to Doom.

injustice league

Some ideas seem like no-brainers to me. After the events of Forever Evil, it only made sense that Lex Luthor would see himself as a hero. After all with the Justice League out of commission it was Lex, along with other villains, who saved the world from the invasion of the Crime Syndicate. The very basic question is what is next for one Lex Luthor?

Why the Justice League of course. Seeing himself as the worlds greatest hero of course he would feel he deserved a place among the greatest hero team around. The ideas is ripe with possibilities.

How long can Lex play the hero?

How will Batman, Superman and the other heroes react to his prescence?

Is this all part of some long game, some new nefarious plot to unleash his villainy on the world?

The key to however this story plays out is Lex himself. He is one of the most brilliant men in the entire DC universe, even smarter than Batman or Mr. Terrific. The problem is he knows it. His overwhelming ego is often his own downfall. Lex finds it hard to believe that anyone could possibly be his peer, his equal.

In my eyes that is the source of his disdain for Superman. Lex believes that he should have been the hero, everyone should have been looking up to him. Instead they applaud this alien with fantastic powers. How much of his desire to be a member of the Justice League comes from a desire to show that he is better than Superman? How better to prove that than to take his place?

Lex is his own worst enemy, always has been. In time his true nature always reveals itself. It will not be good enough to be a hero among the Justice League, in time he will need them to do things his way. After all his way is surely the best way. That is when things begin to unravel.

That is when things should get good.

In Forever Evil he created his own team to fight the Crime Syndicate. I would expect him to do the same as things with the Justice League deteriorate. Lex would of course want to surround himself with those he feels most comfortable. He understand villains motivations, I believe the heroes motivations are slightly foreign to him.

In the past we have seen Luthor lead the Secret Society of Super-Villains, the Injustice League and other villain teams with the names often used interchangeably. In my world I would see this teams as there own unique entities. The Secret Society and the Injustice League should have there own defined rosters. With the Secret Society composed of villains more on the edges of the world, while the Injustice League would be decidedly more mainstream.

For my purposes Lex would create the most important villain organization. The Legion of Doom. Pulling from the old Super Friends show. Give them that Darth Vader-like skull base and a small roster of powerful villains. I easily see Lex surrounding himself with Grodd, Black Manta, Felix Faust, Cheetah, the Riddler (the Joker would be to hard to control)and his own creation Bizarro to round out the group. More brains than power but plenty of power.

Hero groups do need great villain groups and the Legion of Doom does fit the bill nicely. It also returns Lex Luthor to where he belongs: at the top of the villain hierarchy.

The One True…Guy.

Everyone has a favorite. Whether it is a sports team or a band or even a favorite Green Lantern.

There are so many to choose from. Many would pick Hal Jordan, who has been the main Green Lantern in my lifetime. Others love John Stewart or Kyle Rayner. There are those among us that simple love the bad guy, Sinestro is their flag bearer. For me there is only one choice. I simply have to go with the one true Lantern, Guy Gardner.guyI know he can be insufferable and arrogant but that is why we love him. He is also loyal, brave and would rather die than fail. His arrogance often seems to cover insecurity. He knows he is a hero, but unfortunately he has often been passed over for others. When Abin Sur crashed to earth Guy was the first choice but Hal Jordan was simply closer and time was an issue. Later on Guy suffered an accident and John Stewart got the call. Others might use this as a reason to prove themselves. Not Guy, he is so convinced that he is the superior hero it often brings him into conflict with other heroes.

Like Batman.

Like Superman.

He goes after the big dogs.

But he has persevered. He has served proudly as a key member of the Green Lantern Corps. He has led the Red Lantern Corps. When he was stripped of his Green Lantern ring he crossed galaxies to claim Sinestro’s yellow power ring. He will go to any lengths to be a hero. Ted Kord (you know Blue Beetle) even built him a suit to continue his heroic career.

He was meant to be a hero, powers or not.

Today he is the leader of the Red Lanterns with a showdown with their former leader Atrocitus on the horizon. It has been suggested that only one will survive. That would be a shame. These characters are too wonderful to just cast away.

If I was writing it I would give the Red Lanterns back to Atrocitus. Yes I would have Guy fall short in this battle. If only because I believe he has a wonderful future beyond the shiny trinkets of the various Lantern groups.

As I have said before Guy is a true hero. One who does not need a power ring to define him. And I believe these rings of the emotional spectrum have defined him for far to long.

I have always loved the good old-fashioned space hero. Your Buck Rogers, your Flash Gordon. Here is where Guy’s destiny surely lies. Let him acquire a fast space ship. Give him a new costume (I’m thinking dark green and red with yellow lines to remind him of where he has been) and a jet pack. Let him be the one true space hero that the DC Universe needs. Enough of leaving the spaceways to the various lantern groups.

The One True Guy has arrived…

Enter Grayson

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Everything changes. That is the reality of life. Nothing is as we remember it. Life evolves and so do we.

Coming into the Forever Evil event we knew things would never be the same for Dick Grayson, for Nightwing. Most of the other major DC heroes, the Justice League’s, were missing, defeated, possibly dead. The villains had won, not the villains we knew but different more sadistic ones from another world. Worse still they had captured and unmasked Nightwing, the highest profile hero left standing. His secret identity was revealed to the world. The world knew that Grayson was Nightwing. Where does he go from here?

We learned where he will go this week. DC comics announced the new Grayson series written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, featuring art by Mikel Janin. The series begins in July. Honestly I felt a little column-blocked by the announcement (I started this column Monday morning). The series promises to show the former-Nightwing delving into the spy world. All the while allowing the world and his friends to believe he is dead.

Some have been critical of the direction of his new series, I simply ask why? It makes sense. Dick no longer has an identity to hide behind, his outing puts his closest friends and colleagues at risk. Before the new series was announced I had thought out a few ideas for how DC should proceed with the character. At no time did I think to kill him off. That made no sense, it would be a waste of a great character. I thought he should go into the espionage world, perhaps even leading a Team 7-style team for a time. Becoming a super-spy works.

What else would he do, just go back to being Nightwing? Another hero identity? No. For the time being there should be no Nightwing. Not Mr. Grayson and definitely not someone else taking his place. Nightwing is Dick Grayson accept no substitutes.

This avenue opens up worlds to explore, it gives writers opportunity to grow the universe. Best of all it puts Dick Grayson in situations that are far outside his comfort zone. Dick is a good man, he has always been. In a world where he has to lie to survive, even lie to his closest friends, how will he survive? How long before Dick reaches out to Barbara and reveals his secret?

Even better than the struggles Grayson would face ethically in this new world are the opportunities to bring characters into the New52 through this series. We have seen Argus, S.H.A.D.E. and the Suicide Squad, what other spy agencies abound. We have seen Amanda Waller, Slade Wilson, Steve Trevor even Cole Cash, could this series bring us Rick Flag or even better introduce us to King Faraday. Faraday could slide into this series as Grayson’s untrustworthy mentor. Dick is so used to implicitly trusting Bruce, how will he relate to someone who he cannot possibly trust. Another character who could be brought in is Travis Morgan, perhaps showing the mission that eventually reveals the world of Skataris and the origin of the man known as Warlord.

So many possibilities, so many adventures. It is time for Dick Grayson to step out of the shadow of Batman. Time for him to kick in that door and Enter Grayson.