Check out Monday's links after the cut.
When it comes to the holiday gift-giving season, comic book readers are notoriously difficult to shop for. I mean, most of us are down at the shop buying our favorite stuff every single week, so when the time comes for people who like us to get us something we want, well, a lot of times we already have it. That’s why we’re stepping in with a public service, bringing you comics-related items sure to make the season brighter, whether you’re browsing for a gift or just looking for something to drop hints about so that you don’t get stuck with a random assortment of back issues again.
On the off chance that you're buying a gift for someone who likes Spider-Man and rolicking, non-theatrical musicals, don't bother with that whole Broadway fiasco. Instead, grab the original Spider-Man musical from 1975, in which Doctor Octopus sings a song about finally defeating the Silver Surfer.
Stan Lee Media (which, despite its name, no longer has any association with Stan Lee) will simply not go away.
In September, a federal judge threw out the organization's lawsuit against Disney and Marvel in which it claimed ownership of many of Marvel's characters, including Spider-Man, Thor, the Hulk and the X-Men, and even barred it from re-litigating its case. And yet, Stan Lee Media has filed papers once again, this time in a Philadelphia federal court, claiming ownership of the characters.
Q: You mentioned "The Problem" in last week's column. So, what is "The Problem?" --@green2814
A: Last week, I dug in a little into the idea that even though they share prominent creators and have influenced each other back and forth over the course of the last 50 years, the DC and Marvel Universes have some fundamental differences in the way they're structured. One of the things I really wanted to get across in that column was that neither one is really fundamentally better than the other, they're just incompatible in a lot of ways, and I touched on how that results in something I call The Problem. Since that's still pretty fresh in everybody's mind, and since you were nice enough to set the ball right on the tee and hand me the bat, I might as well elaborate on that now. It's actually pretty simple.
To put it bluntly, The Problem is that DC wants to be Marvel, and they have for the past 50 years.
While top talent -- as in, Moebius, Bruce Timm, Stan Sakai, just to name a few -- have elevated Mattel's Masters of the Universe toy, cartoon and movie franchise to something special, so far the closest thing a comic book creator had come to getting their own MOTU figure was sometime He-Man scribe Geoff Johns' childhood creation Sir Laser Lot being produced. But, thanks to the magic of... being Stan Lee? Stan Lee, who has co-created scores of iconic Marvel super heroes in addition to curiosities like Stripperella -- but has never had anything to do with MOTU -- has received a new alter ego in the realm of Eternia by the name of Standor.
As the famed co-creator of much of the Marvel Comics universe and cameo king of its current crop of films, Stan Lee enjoys a certain amount of leeway (*ba-dump!) when it comes to opining about pop culture. Take this week's installment of the serialized "Stan's Rants" video series. Lee somewhat dramatically explains that Thor's method of flight makes more sense to him than Superman's. While Superman's solar-powered Kryptonian cells enable him to navigate any axis without an explanation besides "He can," Thor has to chuck his mystical uru mallet Mjolnir in the direction he wishes to travel and catch a ride by holding onto its attached thong. As Wired's Angry Nerd points out, however, Thor's way is still a violation of the laws of physics fit for the gods.
Hot off the heels of the release of the video game LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the toy brand and the comics publisher are teaming up once again for a five-episode Web series that will be available on the Disney YouTube channel as well as Disney's Roku and XBox-connected TV apps.
Maximum Overload, which finds Loki amassing an army to take on all of Marvel's heroes, went online today with all five episodes. It's loaded with cameos (look out for J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson and Stan Lee in episode 2). You can hit the jump to watch all five shorts in full right now.
It's no surprise that LEGO and developer TT Games are playing up the characters and settings from The Avengers in the official launch trailer for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, which is available in stores today. Nick Fury, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, the Hulk, Loki and the Helicarrier are all front-and-center. Oh, and Galactus.
Fangasm is a SyFy reality show which employs the standard “bunch of strangers forced to live in a house for a few weeks” format. It’s produced by 495 Productions, the creators of MTV's exploitation hit Jersey Shore, but instead of “guidos” Fangasm is about “geeks” -- which is to say in the simplest way possible, passionate individuals drawn to a deeper understanding of creative works like comic books, video games, science fiction, fantasy and related genre entertainment. The six-part series has been hyped by the network and its associated principals as this really real... thing about geeks and our culture.
In reality (no pun intended), what we casually refer to as "geek culture" has in the last 10+ years ascended from a derided subculture to a massive consumer class actively serviced by virtually every commercial sector in America, a fact that's put an existential challenge to the nature of "geekdom," particularly its claim to underdog status. That Fangasm exists at all speaks to this notion of cultural currency, but unfortunately it's the literal currency that is the most basic and base element of the entire Fangasm enterprise, which we discover is even faker than the kinds of series -- to use the reality show parlance -- it throws under the bus.
However, it is through Fangasm's breathtakingly brazen expression of unreality and exploitation that we ultimately see the truth of how geek culture is understood by those to whom geeks pledge their once hard-earned allegiance, and perhaps by a generation of geeks themselves.
Spider-Man fans know Flash Thompson as Peter Parker's high-school nemesis and Spider-Man's biggest fan, later turned war hero, later turned Venom.
But did you know that the star quarterback had a reputation as a lothario a full eight months before he appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15? On his Tumblr, comics writer Tom Peyer posted a panel from January 1962's Teen-age Romance #85 that mentions Thompson.