Spencer: At first glance, there are hardly any similarities between being a writer and being a lawyer, but ultimately, both professions owe a lot to the power of words. Writers use words to bring life to worlds and characters, while lawyers use them to argue and persuade, and sometimes even to tell stories of their own. The case between Jen Walters and Matt Murdock over the fate of Steve Rogers, as presented in Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk 10, is just one of those situations; everything comes down to the two lawyers each telling their own version of the truth and leaving the jury to decide which story they believe. As a look into the criminal justice system, it’s a bit unnerving, but as a showcase of the kind of power storytellers hold, it’s absolutely fascinating. Continue reading
Patrick: Let’s talk about Office Space. It’s a modern comedy classic, and while that Superman-3-inspired conflict is introduced far to late to be in any way meaningful, there are so many great gags and characters that buoy the movie. Plus, it introduced so many phrases into the lexicon — how would we even express ourselves in 2014 without “pieces of flare” or “no talent ass-clown?” But I’ve always had one gripe with Office Space: I always hated that Peter’s attitude change stemmed from something as ridiculous as a hypnotherapy mishap. Rather than giving Peter to agency over his own inciting action, the movie absolves him of any responsibility for what follows. Think about how much more meaningful it would be if Peter decided “fuck it, I don’t care any more” on his own. I find myself wishing the same was true of Superior Iron Man, which throws a bunch of interesting ideas at the wall but refused to let Tony Stark actually be responsible for his own actions. Continue reading
Shane: So, look. I’m not saying that writing is easy. This is a craft. It requires a certain set of skills, a patience, a level of general competency. And as someone who fancies himself a writer, it’s a little painful to see something that reads at such a high level above what I could possibly do. Extrapolating even further past that, She-Hulk is devastating. Excruciating. I want to take sharp objects and whittle away my skin, exposing my tender flesh to the harsh elements so that I may embrace the harsh, tortuous reality of my own limitations.
Did I mention that I rather enjoyed She-Hulk 9 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and the rest? Because it was something special. Continue reading
Stephen Spielberg on Jaws
Drew: I don’t care about authorial intent. It seems totally logical to me — I can’t presume to know what an author’s intent was, so I don’t know why I would bother caring about it — but I often find myself confronted by people who don’t see it that way. The author clearly didn’t intend that, so why am I talking about it? In those instances, I like to point them to the production of Jaws — specifically, the way the malfunctioning Shark puppet affected Spielberg’s choices. His intent was to show the shark a bunch, but circumstances forced him to reserve those shots for key moments, relying more on suspense than jump-out-of-your-seat moments. It makes for a compelling viewing experience, but one that’s virtually unrelated to anyone’s intent. That is, an analysis focusing on the authorial intent of Jaws would dismiss a key element of the final product as if it were a flubbed line, or a member of the crew in frame, some unaccounted-for artifact of the filming process. It would be easy to similarly dismiss a guest artist as a similar artifact of comic books, a decision borne more out of necessity than of creative mojo, but that would ignore the effect those changes have on the reading experience, which — as is the case in She-Hulk 5 — can be quite profound.
Spencer: She-Hulk is a superhero lawyer. What does that mean? Well, she’s a superhero who is also a lawyer, but that’s obvious. Does it mean she takes on cases involving superpowered individuals? No doubt they’re a huge part of her clientele, but I think there’s more to it. Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk 3 finally gives us a chance to see Jennifer Walters, attorney-at-law, in action, and she’s every bit as great at the job as we’ve been told. What stood out to me the most, though — and what truly makes her a “superhero lawyer” in my eyes — is that she tackles the case with the same kind of enthusiasm and dedication that she devotes to fighting crime. Continue reading
Patrick: Drew recently brought a Mutilversity article on comic book criticism to my attention. Interestingly, they posted another article that same day on the diminishing role of artists in comics — effectively arguing that we know series by their writers and not by their artists, and isn’t that fucked up? I think there’s room to argue that serialized storytelling in any format is going to be a writer’s medium (just look at how much more writer-driven TV is than the movies, which are much more director-driven). Regardless, the fact remains that there’s a problem in comics — and comic criticism — with focusing too heavily on the words that are written on the page. At one point in this issue, Jennifer Walters — a Hulk that spends very little of her time smashing — asserts that “90% of lawyering is conversation.” That’s an interesting inversion of the pearl of wisdom Eddie Izzard drops in the bit above, but that also might explain why we don’t have the most exciting piece of fiction in our hands. Continue reading
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.
Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing FF 12, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Shelby: Destiny takes on a whole new meaning in ComicBookLand. To us regular folk, destiny is the idea that the natural order of the universe has predetermined our future. In comic books, it generally means a version of yourself from the future has arrived who knows what happens next because they’ve already lived it. It makes it a lot harder to argue your future is your own when faced with someone who knows what you’re going to do next, and the consequences of those actions. Unless, of course, you’re in Matt Fraction’s FF; no matter how many intellects from the future drop by, you never actually know what will happen next.
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing FF 11, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Patrick: I don’t care how many times we say it around here — it bears repeating: comics are weird. Every time I think I get a handle on the time travel, or space travel, or clones, or moloids or whatever, I discover that the well of weird is deeper than I could ever imagine. Enter: The Impossible Man. Who’s The Impossible Man? Just a shapeshifting alien with nearly unlimited power and a comprehensive knowledge of (and fascination with) Earth popular culture. I did a little rudimentary research, just to familiarize myself with the character, and my favorite piece of trivia about The Impossible Man is that he once talked Galactus out of eating Earth, and then celebrated by going to the Marvel offices and demanding that Stan Lee give him is own solo series. It is in that spirit that FF 11 introduces his son.
“I’ve written myself into my own script.”
“That’s kinda weird, huh?”
“It’s self-indulgent! It’s narcissistic! It’s solipsistic! It’s pathetic! I’m pathetic and I’m fat and pathetic!”
Nick Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation
Patrick: Adaptation is the best narrative I’ve ever encountered that directly confronts the challenges of portraying beauty abstractly. The screenplay works incredibly hard to achieve this, constantly doubling down on both its own cleverness and its disdain for said cleverness. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman does this my making himself a character in his own movie about adapting the book he’s been hired to adapt. If that sentence seemed to loop back on itself — and consequently, not make any sense — that’s because the film really needs to be experienced to be understood. Matt Fraction inserts himself, artist Mike Allred and editor Tom Brevoort into this issue of FF, but the lessons he offers have more to do with history than with expression. Plus, he makes himself say “ginchy,” like he’s Velma from Scooby-Doo, so you know it’s a home run.