podcast

Interview with Justin Peterson

of Very Near Mint

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We had the pleasure of talking to artist/writer of the indie comic, Very Near Mint - Justin Peterson. In anticipation of the release of the third volume of Very Near Mint, we talk to Justin about his process, Kickstarter, his fascinating day job, and more. This interview was really one of our favorite episodes. Justin has a really distinct view on the comic book industry and what it takes to succeed. You’re going to like this one!

More on This Interview & the Art of Justin Peterson

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Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

My Man of Steel Review…of Sorts

(SPOILERS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!)

It’s taken me a long time to write something outside of discussions about Man of Steel. I was conflicted in the theater and I am now. When I first saw it I had a person to the left of me (I’ll leave out names to protect them) who hated it and a person to my right who loved it. They both displayed their feelings for it as they were watching the movie a the midnight release of the movie. It was as close to having an angel and a devil on your shoulders as a person can have and yet…which was which?

Today is the day I knew I needed to commit my thoughts down to be cataloged by Google and indexed for all to find. One reason is that we recorded our Man of Steel Podcast today. I’ll post a link here once we get it up. I was pretty prepared for it because I’ve had so many discussions online as well as read articles, watched videos, and listened to other podcasts on the topic. A month later and the only thing we can all agree on is that it’s one of the most divisive movies in a long time. Most either love it or hate it and for all kinds of different reasons. What can be said is that it was wildly financially successful. So much so that today’s San Diego Comic-Con announcement (second reason for writing this now) that a Superman/Batman: World’s Finest Movie is on everyone’s lips.

I’ve decided so much has been said about this movie in-depth that I am going to just focus on a few items I liked and a few items I didn’t like. Let’s get started:

Liked

Trailer

This is my favorite trailer of all-time. It has so much emotion and is amazingly concise. The Man of Steel trailer brought an honest tear to my eye when I first saw it. I must have watched it ten times in a row when it came out and once every day after. I still think it’s pretty much perfect. Have you seen the original Superman and/or the 1989 Batman trailer? I was trying to get a feel for other super hero movie trailers and Man of Steel is about 1000 times better. Here’s what I mean:

 

Jor-El

Jor-El was awesome. The first words I said leaving the movie theater were: “I want to see a Jor-El on Krypton movie next!”. The whole world of Krypton was really well fleshed out. I felt like I understood his point of view and really connected with him as a heroic character. He was not just a man of science but a man of action and conviction. Similar to the opening sequence in the 2009 Star Trek movie (of which this movie also borrowed a lot of visual devices from), you see a hero father give everything he can to ensure his son has the opportunity to survive and you also emotionally connect with this father. It’s one of the best opening sequences in a super her movie and, like Star Trek, sets up the villain of the piece.

Lois Lane

I don’t think Lois has ever been fully realized in almost any medium. A lot of people have feelings on who she really is but every medium has just as much contradictory behaviors. She is an independent reporter in the comics and YET spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get Superman to marry her. The fact that she is constantly in need of Superman to save her from peril also doesn’t bode well for her independence. This movie did, however, do away with one of the problems that has nagged her fans from the beginning – not being able to tell that the two men she is with the most are the same person because of a pair of glasses.

Lois not knowing Clark was Superman made her an idiot to anyone watching or reading her exploits. Superman/Clark use to wink at us, the views, in the Adventures of Superman TV show to underline just how dumb she truly was. The Lois Lane of Man of Steel is a true investigative journalist. She did the work and figured out his identity before she met either Superman or Clark officially. She was capable enough to work with Jor-El to help save the Superman reversing years of her only being the damsel in distress (even though he saves her a few times in this movie too). Amy Adam’s Lois Lane is capable, smart, and someone I want to see more of in future movies. Her importance can no longer be relegated to par of a fake love triangle so there’s a much better chance for her to make a big impact on the story in another way.

Hans Zimmer

I was ALMOST looking forward to the Man of Steel score as much as I was the movie! Hans Zimmer scores are some of my favorite pieces to listen to. Like I mentioned, the trailer blew me away but a lot of that was the theme. Who in their right mind tries to follow John Williams’s Superman theme? Almost not Hans. He didn’t want to do it until Christopher Nolan prompted him to on behalf of Zack Snyder. Zack and Hans had a discussion about themes and the broad strokes of the movie and that sold him on giving it a try. The one note that Snyder gave Zimmer was “It would be cool if the theme was humble”. That’s not really a thing in composition and yet…you can hear it in the finished piece. He did it. It’s really an exceptional score that I’d argue has more heart than the actual film!

Visuals

I’ve never seen two super powered beings fight each other in a movie that looked more spectacular. The best fight between two beings of this power level in my head has been the Superman/Captain Marvel fight in Justice League Unlimited…and that as animated. This was the promise of comics realized in three dimensions. It was a spectacle that then became…something else. Still, for a while, I was enthralled.

Zod

I think this movie gave us a Zod with a real clear motivation beyond conquest for conquest’s sake. He reminded me of the Eradicator when he first appeared in Superman comics. He was built to preserve and defend the Kryptonian way of life even to the degree that he was compelled to try and take over Krypton in order to save it. Zod did things he didn’t want to because he felt he had to. He even showed moments of compassion. I was impressed with this version of the character up until the final third of the movie. I understand why he became a mad dog but…it made him less interesting.

The first Two Thirds of the Movie

Well, most of it any way. The flashbacks worked for me as a story telling device. Lois as our window into his world really worked for me too. Her looking into his past was a conduit for exposition that explained why he was doing what he was doing when we find him. Clark was very brooding but it made sense. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life and Jonathan Kent didn’t give him the tools he needed to decide. It was the story of a man who wanted to do good but was ruled by fear because it’s what he was taught. What came next never really paid off where this was all going.

Didn’t Like

Hope

tumblr_monfc8npX11qb5hhzo1_500Clark/Kal/Superman doesn’t deliver on the promise that Jor-El made. This promise, to me and lot of other fans is the very point of Superman. Here’s what Jor-El says:

 You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.

What does he do in this movie to deliver on any of that? The people of Earth no he’s an alien, he has immense power, and that he is willing to kill (more on that later). He never connects with the citizens of Earth while in costume other than Jenny noticing him and saying “He saved us.”…which didn’t feel very organic. He never moves his fight to a cornfield in Kansas (as Mark Waid suggested in his review) nor does he worry about debris in his LONG disastrous battle in Metropolis. He comes into town and people run in doors. His powers are his muscles and not his heart.

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He wears the Kryptonian symbol of hope but it doesn’t seem like hope is his mission. I’ve put this out there before and many people tell me this will come to fruition in the the next movie (how a Superman/Batman movie will have a focus on hope, I have no idea) but that doesn’t change the fact that in THIS movie, he offer nothing to aspire towards. He is a brute who fights another brute. Sure, this brute is fighting for us but why? What are his ideals? What can he teach us that will help us catch up to him so we can join him in the sun?

Disaster Porn

No review of Man of Steel would be complete without the use of the phrase “disaster porn”, right? I made mention that the Superman/Zod fight was the best super powered fight I have ever seen on the big screen but…did it go too far? Was there a diminished return? I think so. I was really into it for a while and then there was a point in all the devastation that I thought…doesn’t he care about the people? Why aren’t they showing him saving anyone?

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The World Machine was created by the writers in order to have a good enough excuse for Superman to be as far as way as possible to maximum amount of destruction can befall Metropolis. Combine that with Zod becoming a mad dog that wants to be put down and you have the recipe for a fight that went on so long it made me go from enjoying it to wanting it to end. It didn’t sit well with me and a lot of other movie goers.

Jonathan Kent

If I had to describe Jonathan Kent in one word it would be “Fear”. His fears were really the main lesson that molded Clark’s life. He lives his entire life going from place to place never really growing or making something of himself because his father told him humanity would reject him.

Clark Kent: My father believed that if the world found out who I really was, they’d reject me… out of fear. He was convinced that the world wasn’t ready. What do you think?

Then there’s the often quoted “maybe” from Pa Kent:

Jonathan Kent: You have to keep this side of yourself a secret.

Clark Kent at 13: What was I supposed to do? Let them die?[brief pause]

Jonathan Kent: Maybe…

Was he just working this out and saying something he didn’t really mean? Maybe. But, you don’t get it a counter point to this at any other time. He doesn’t really leave Clark with any lessons other than people will fear him and the conflicting story that he was sent there for a reason. It’s too bad he couldn’t take a stab at why he might have been there (to help people?). Instead, the heavy lifting is done by a hologram of his birth  father. Some feel his death was a poignant lesson. I found it close to suicide. I hope that dog was worth it.

Humorless

On the whole, this movie is almost without any semblance of humor. It’s not a comedy; I get that. It does contribute to the “darkness” of this movie (the other ingredients are the lack of inspiration given by Superman, destruction of metropolis, and the no way out execution at the end). Marvel Studios execs have said that they want to create a world where you wish you could be a citizen of. DC has not followed this path. Their modern films are dark places of fear, isolation, and mistrust. This Superman is very much of that world. It almost feels weird when he smiles. The lack of humor in the character combined with his aimlessness at the beginning, plus his fear of people knowing who he is created a very sad person in Superman.

Bechdel Test

The movie fails it. Not something I recognized when I first watched it but true none the less. Don’t know what that means? Google it!

The Jesus Analogy

I’ve never been much for Superman as a Jesus analog (always seen him as more of a Moses and you know his creators did too!). That said, it’s not a new idea. It’s just that the subtlety was completely removed this time around. When he talks to the priest (which felt OK and made sense) the image of Jesus RIGHT OVER HIS HEAD was so in your face I thought it was an IHOP or Sears sign. That is NOTHING compared to Jor-El (the father) telling Kal (the son sent to Earth) “You Can Save Everyone” right before he falls to Earth in a crucifixion pose. My eyes rolled so slow they almost came out! That’s all fine (sort of) IF you pay it off. What’s the payoff of this Jesus-like character? He has no choice but to snap his enemies neck. It just doesn’t work as an analogy. Like a lot of things in this movie, they threw a lot of ingredients into the mixture but forgot to see how it turned out.

Overall

I liked a number of things in this movie but the feeling I had coming out of the theater wasn’t excitement, hope, or inspiration. Maybe that was never the point of this movie but those feelings were the point of the source material. It was an amazing spectacle but it never gave me joy (except the Jor-El on Krypton scenes). I just don’t think it delivered on the promise that brighter days are ahead because we have Superman to show us the way.

Well, maybe things will be different in Superman/Batman: World’s Finest. Maybe adding Batman will make the movie less dark and offer more hope!

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I’ve been collecting memes and links about this movie since I saw it so I can articulate better how I feel. Here’s a collection:

Links:

Images:

sstandsforhope

I made this one :)

2uh9wxy

This is a good point. I think Batman letting Ra’s die is in some ways worse because he had other options plus…he actually knew him!

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As humorless as Superman is and as masterfully light as Tony Stark is, it would be great to see these two together.

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Every other Lois is dim compared to Man of Steel’s Lois

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Batman lets Ra’s die at the end of Batman Begins. If he had snapped his neck, though, it would have gained a different reaction.

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I’m in the critics corner on both.

Comic Panels

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This never sat well with me when it came out. Superman wrestled with this for a long time after too. At least he didn’t do this during his first few hours as Superman.

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Where was THIS Jonathan Kent?

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Well the kids got what they wanted with Man of Steel

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He’s super because he finds a 3rd way.

 

Iron Man 3 In Review

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Adam and Nick discuss the latest Iron Man movie. Iron Man 3 was a Shane Black movie through and through and it had a lot of charm. This was part super hero part 80s action movie and very fun. We go over what made this movie different than the other Iron Man movies as well as the big twist in the movie. This review has spoilers!

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Injustice: Gods Among Us & More

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Adam talks about his experience with the game Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game features an original DC super hero story centering around the Justice League and is a classic multiple Earths story. After that they talk about where the New 52 is and what is working and what isn’t. In addition, they talk about some of their favorite books like Hawkeye, Batman, and Age of Ultron. Check it out!

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What Makes A Great Superman Movie?

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Adam and Nick welcome Mikey back to the show to talk about the REAL Superman trilogy: Superman, Superman II, and Superman Returns….and maybe just a little bit of Superman III and IV. Just the tiniest bit.

The Superman movies directed by Richard Donnor (Superman I and the edited “Richard Donnor Cut” of Superman II) and the 2006 movie: Superman Returns (directed by Bryan Singer and inspired by Donnor’s vision). Superman I is the benchmark that all Super Hero movies have been tested against since it’s 1978 release.

This episode is SUPER! Why is the first Superman from 1978 still considered one of the best super hero movies of all-time? Why aren’t movies like this being written today? Why didn’t Superman Returns launch the Superman franchise again in 2006?

These questions will be answered by three big Superman movie fans.

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Marvel Then & Now

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We discuss the 2006 Interview DVD “Marvel Then & Now” by The Hero Initiative.
We talk about the beginning of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee, and some classic Marvel stories. In addition, Adam and Nick talk about their personal Stan Lee and Kevin Smith stories. The episode rounds out with a few reviews of recent comics we think you should be checking out.

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Series 33 Episode 6 / Season 7 Episode 6

Every Dr Who episode has a lot to live up to. There aren’t many other TV series whose fan base can match the time-(wink)-tested level of fervor that Whovians are capable of. But a season premiere (okay, HALF season premiere) that is the first regular episode appearance (kinda) of a new regular companion? That carries some extra expectations. Did “The Bells of St John” live up to ‘em? Maybe not, but who cares?

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I enjoyed this episode. It felt like a throwback to the one-off adventures from the David Tennant/Russel T Davies era like “Fear Her” or “The Idiot’s Lantern.”  It also made me think of other new companion debuts, like Donna Noble’s “Partners in Crime” or Martha Jones’s “Smith & Jones.” Dr Who stories can be divided into 2 categories: stand-alone adventures like these, and episodes that are part of the larger mythos and involve a lot of continuity. If you feel like “The Bells of St John” didn’t have enough of the numerous plot threads that we had to juggle through most of the Amy & Rory Pond era, I say that we were due for some relief. This episode cleaned the palate. Besides, before long we’ll be hip deep in Moffat-style brain twisters as the Doctor begins to unravel Clara’s origins.

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Matt Smith was in reliable form – we got to see him be clever and a bit fierce, which he is so good at, even tho’ the fierce bit was courtesy of his doppleganger.  The appearance of someone that was a hold-over from the Christmas Special (other than Clara) was a neat surprise and something the show doesn’t often do, so I thought that was refreshing and I look forward to seeing more of him, it? As to the quantum-charged-chronological-matrix-paradox in the room, the question of whether or not Jenna Louise Coleman works as the Doctor’s companion? The question of whether or not she’ll stand up to the long list of beloved companions in the show’s history? Well, there are a lot of traits to tick off on the Good Companion checklist, and she meets a lot of them. She’s not annoying (I’m gonna allow for a little extra coyness in the getting-to-know-you episode). She’s not useless or TOO smart. It’s tricky, cause making her too much like Amy would be a mistake, but too far from the Amy mold might wreck Matt Smith’s performance. A good job was done, walking a tightrope between those two missteps. In a few years, we might look back and say that Clara was to Amy as Martha or Donna was to Rose. But what I expect is that the Mystery of Clara will lessen that comparison and much of how we feel about Clara will lie in her secret.

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What was your favorite moment, if you had one? Mine was the ceremony that was given to the new bow tie. That was wonderful. The fact that the Doctor didn’t have to share that moment with anyone else on screen was a smart move. It was just for him and us. Although, I wanted some reasoning given onscreen as to why the change in wardrobe. I was hoping it would be used to inform us a little more about his attitude since the Ponds’ departure. Least favorite mo’? Asking Clara to repeat, “Doctor who?” A little too cutesy and too beat into the ground. We’ve seen that word-play before and it worked then, but it already feels dated, as if it’s from another era in the Doctor’s life.  But these minor nit-picks are the most I could find to complain about while I’m already chomping at the bit for another new episode this week and Whovians don’t always get to say that!

R.I.P. Damian Wayne

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One of the greatest new characters of the past 10 years of comics, Damian Wayne has been killed in Batman Inc. #8. This death was at the end of a 6 year run by the character’s creator, Grant Morrison. Because of this and how it was handled, this death did not feel like a stunt. It felt organic and had a real emotional impact. This podcast was about who Damian is and where he stands against the other Robins in history.

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Check out the best Damian Panels in Nick’s latest Tumblr – www.SonOfTheBat.com

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