Art Must Cross Borders That Politicians Close

Hey there. If this is the first column of mine you’ve read, welcome. If you were one of the people who followed the Bearsleuth team last summer, welcome back. Glad to be doing this again.

It’s awards season in Hollywood once again and the shortlists for the Oscars have been released. Originally, this article was supposed to be mainly about that, but recent events have pushed these things very far into the back of my mind.

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What’s really pressing on my mind right now is that director Asghar Farhadi, whose film The Salesman has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film category, will not be attending the event. This is because Mr. Farhadi is Iranian, one of the nationalities that, at time of writing, have been barred from entering the USA by the Trump administration under seemingly any circumstance. It has been suggested (though far from confirmed) that special dispensation could have been made for Mr. Farhadi. Whether those rumours are founded, he has declined to attend anyway as he feels allowances being made for him as an individual are hardly the point in the face of a much greater, nonsensical injustice.

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To be clear, my anger and shock extend farther than the treatment of Mr. Farhadi personally, as it would seem does his own. I have chosen to focus on him because: A) he provides a link between the currently dominant news-cycle and the world that I am used to commenting on in these articles; B) I need to tether myself to something specific right now so this article doesn’t just devolve into incoherent screaming; and C) banning an artist from entering your country when he has neither done nor been accused of doing anything wrong is one step away from banning the art itself.

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Hollywood is a realm of incredible privilege. You won’t hear me denying that; and yes, the preening stars of the red carpet may be not-unfairly seen as flawed idols in a fight against the injustices committed by the faeces-hurling gibbon and his oversized suit. They seem to be so shielded from injustice themselves, after all. However, they are not immune from attacks by those in power and we should all have reason to fear it. The people making acceptance speeches on podia across America this month all know how to make their voices heard in the back. The squatting, alt-right bloggers in the White House know this and recognise it as a threat. That is why ‘Hollywood Liberals’, along with the rest of the media, have become a prime target for their propaganda.

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I can’t help but see the treatment of Mr. Farhadi as a dark tiding of things to come in regards to the effect of politics on the arts. It’s true enough that not being able to attend an advertising convention for very rich people is far from the worst individual injustice inflicted by that sagging ape’s Executive Orders. I’m sure this won’t be the only time he will be mentioned here, as he continues to act like the bull to the US Constitution’s china shop. Nevertheless, it matters, and it matters that we fight it.

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I hope that on Oscar night, every acceptance speech mentions Asghar Farhadi by name and the Dorito-hued Duterte not once. I also implore everyone reading this to get out and see The Salesman if they can; not because it’s good but because it will be an act of objective good to make Asghar Farhadi a household name in America without him ever having to set foot there. Solidarity matters; and resistance to the, hopefully short, reign of the clammy stench of white-nationalism currently impregnating the White House can take many forms.

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When politics seek to regress and when politicians seek to isolate us from each other, art can always seek to render their barriers meaningless. Through it, those who believe in reaching across cultural divides will continue to do so, regardless of the physical barriers put in our way by those undeserving in authority. If their ego requires them to wall themselves off from a world that is bigger than them, a world full of knowledge and experience that they cannot or do not care to know, then on their own heads be it. They will be left behind to wallow in the stagnation they cultivate for themselves. They can tell us what to do, but not what to think, and art will help us keep thinking.

But hey, that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?

Let me know in the comment section down below, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Beartrails/ or on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BearTrails

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bearsleuthWritten by: David Sayers

Edited by: Ivy Miller

The BearSleuth Week Geek Out – LaMarr And Snyder And Bears…Oh My!

This week I am determined to get this feature up at a reasonable time! Last week was just a trial run but this is absolute prime time professionalism in article form. Unfortunately, to my knowledge their is very little to talk about in the world of television so I’m going to jump across and examine what’s going on over at YouTube. Apart from that all I have to say is that it’s been a damn good week and I hope all you back-to-schoolers are settling in well.

The Week In Comics


 

This week is looking pretty strong in the world of comics, the shelves are pretty densely packed and their is certainly a lot of talent to be found. An underground hit of the week has to be Scarlet Witch #10 which is pretty much a perfect self contained story for the character looking at her role in the magical community. Over with the Team Aqua that is DC we have some awesome titles including All-Star Batman #2 and Suicide Squad #2 showcasing talent from two of the greatest creators in the comic book industry, Snyder and Lee.

Marvel’s Team Magma are looking sound all round with some brilliant tie-in titles but my pick of the week has to go to Amazing Spider-Man Civil War II #4, which has to be one of the most complex titles I have ever written. The finale of the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in is probably going to place the series as the strongest of the Civil War II tie-ins to date as it fully succeeds in an examination of the main themes of the event. If you are only going to pick up one tie-in make it this one…then maybe squeeze your budget for the X-Men tie-in as well!

The Week In Film


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Well this week I actually went to see a film which I can talk about, Don’t Breathe. This film was pretty much schlock of the highest order with a particular scene added in just for shock value and so the film can be ‘the film that went there’. I actually think this is a horror targeted at a more female audience as the shock scene is harder to relate to from a male perspective, which probably goes a long way to spoiling it. The male characters are embarrassingly weak but the female lead, played by Jane Levy, seems to have a good amount of depth to her. The villain is essentially, old and evil Daredevil and I find that the film makes a lot more sense in that light.

Like I said up top, there’s not really much in the way of TV news from me at the moment, just finished Stranger Things which gave me a new appreciation for child actors and small-town sci-fi. Heading over to YouTube, Fatman On Batman just interviewed Phil LaMarr and you have to see it if you are in anyway a geek. My YouTube tastes are fairly vanilla but I recommend Yahtzee19,  KaptainKristian and Vuepoint’s Jack’s World if you are looking for something new.

The Week In Gaming


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Pre are in the ten week countdown for Pokemon!!! Like any good fan I’m attempting a run through of HeartGold, Pearl, Black, White 2, X and finally Omega Ruby before grabbing a copy of Sun. I’m going to be grabbing a bunch of grass starters in the way, the unloved Ringos of Pokemon starters, and basically getting myself back in that ten-year-old mind-set. Apart from that I’m continuing a play through of Dark Souls with Ollie from LoneWolfGaming and playing Until Dawn with Will, the BearSleuth camera man.

In Other News…


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The world is teetering on the brink of disaster from a take over of regional pronunciation starting with a plague of government sponsored academies and there will be more news coming on the new BearSleuth writer later this week. That’s about it for this week folks but be sure to come back next week for more sleuthing!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for a brand new article!!!

BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Fifty

For the first time in recent memory the shelves in my local comic book store looked a little bare. With the exception of a handful of tie-ins, there is now Civil War II has ground to a halt, leaves us to wait another week for a main book. On top of that this week there are no DC Rebirth titles, well to be honest there’s a Suicide Squad mini-series but nothing of any substance. So this week we are looking at the fringes and a few highlights I’ve been wanting to cover for awhile which, for one reason or another, haven’t really shown up on my list. Trust your humble Sleuth, I’ll see you right!

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics apps [Accessed:02/09/2016]

Civil War II: Choosing Sides Issue Five By A Whole Phalanx Of Artists


 

I love Justin Trudeau! I might not know that much about Canadian politics, and the little I do know has come from a close friend and John Oliver, but it is great to see the Canadian Prime Minister turning up in the pages of a Marvel comic. I can’t say there is much more in this book to write home about but Trudeau’s presence is pretty cool. His section is written by Chip Zdarsky who delivers his usual mixture of tongue-in cheek humour and heart. The book is fairly mediocre from there on out making it hard to recommend but as a piece of political-comic book history it’s a highlight of the year.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Issue Eleven By Brian Michael Bendis And Valerio Schiti


 

The Guardians have just come off a monster arc, a planetary-wide cataclysmic arc that is 100% worth your time and attention. This issue is more of the calm before the storm. A brief reprieve setting up the major players in the next epic arc. There’s a lot of interesting character interactions as well as plenty of nods and winks towards the fans. It’s an issue that build heart and character. There really isn’t much to say past that, Schiti’s art is fairly tight and the set up for the big Civil War II tie-in is nice but if you want a big action set piece this is not the one for you. If you like the Guardians grab this book.

Han Solo Issue Three By Marjorie Liu And Mark Brooks


 

When you think of Han Solo you think of the rogue with the heart of gold and this story is entirely based around this concept. Marjorie Liu has created the perfect boys own adventure storyline in space and it is no small wonder that I am completely wrapped up in it. Han gets the cool lines and the brilliant stunts while the pulse racing action hammers on in a plot that will satisfy any Star Wars fan. The art by Mark Brooks is nice and has a lot of subtle detail for an eagle eyes reader. This is a big winner all round for me and is fully worthy of your time.

Ms. Marvel Issue Ten By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa And Alphona


 

Most of the time the high school drama of super heroics wears thin with me. I don’t like the whinny emo stuff as I’ve been there and I know how much it makes you want to gouge out your own eyes years later. However, in Ms. Marvel G. Willow Wilson has worked hard to make the high school drama mean something, for it to deeply effect the heroine and her heroics. This book is a big Civil War II tie-in and I feel that it will be known as one of the hidden gems of the event for years to come. I like this book and if you are willing to try something different this is a great choice.

Rocket Raccoon And Groot Issue Eight By Nick Kocher And Michael Walsh


 

Well Skottie Young has left the building…whether he will come back or simply leave us hanging while he pens ‘I hate Fairyland’ is unknown as of writing this but I dare say he will emerge with another great idea soon. What isn’t unknown is that Nick Kocher was the only man who could have stepped into Young’s clownish shoes. His take on the title partnership is fantastic, funny and fierce. The story is a loose Civil War II tie-in with more of the group hijinks bubbling up to the surface. If you like the Guardians and you fancy a laugh this is the place to be.

Spider-Man Issue Seven By Brian Michael Bendis And Nico Leon


 

Can something finally happen in these issues? I love Bendis’ slow approach to character development with a lot of brilliantly handled teenage drama but I’m really getting sick of Spider-Man struggling to be Spider-Man. I feel like this story is just ticking over until Bendis can move off his other nineteen projects and give it full focus. I know that next issue or the one after my thoughts will be completely different again but for now I’m a little bored of Spider-Man. If you are a fan of Bendis or Miles or Spider-Man then stay tuned but this might be one you can miss.

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Tokyo Ghost Issue Ten By Rick Remender And Sean Murphy


 

Tokyo Ghost is over. Perhaps one of the greatest comics of the last year and it is finished, with chances if a sequel looking middling at best. So how did it all pan out? Perfectly. I know I’m speaking with a bit of fan boy biased here but, I cannot find a flaw in this finale. It’s a brilliant end to a brilliant book and I want every one of you reading this to go pick up the first trade paperback. This is the quiet riot we need in this digitally swamped age and it’s truly beautiful. If that doesn’t sell you on it I’m not sure what will.

Uncanny Avengers Issue Thirteen By Gerry Duggan And Ryan Stegman


 

Another issue of set up as we ease into a Civil War II tie-in. I don’t have much to say about this issue as it simply runs through a few team members and show us their roles in the coming war. It’s fun and if you wanted a little more depth after the main Civil War II books then I can highly recommend it but past that this is in one ear and out the other. This is the worst sort of book to review as its so on the fence, there is nothing offensively bad or angelically good to talk about so I will leave the recommendation to you. Sleuth. Out.

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free a Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back later today for a new OpinionatedDavid article!!!

Comic History 101: Siege

In 2009 the Marvel Universe was a terrifying place. Secret War had dissolved trust between the heroes and Shield in 2005. The Avengers had been broken and then reforged into a more dysfunctional team across Avengers Disassembled and New Avengers. House of M hit in late 2005 and the universe lost almost all of the mutants. Then Civil War came and turned the heroes against each other, only to be followed by World War Hulk and Secret Invasion which left the entire Marvel Universe in tatters with most heroes underground and Norman Osborn at the helm. Under Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada everything had changed and now it was time to put it back, or at least a push in the right direction so that Joe could hang the keys of the universe over. Quesada went to Brian Michael Bendis one last time and asked the writer to pull out all the stops, to make this the comic book equivalent of 4 of July fireworks. With this brief Bendis went insane and created one of the greatest events in the history of Marvel Comics.

The Grand Finale


In Civil War we had witnesses a war between heroes, in Secret Invasion it was a war between heroes and aliens, same again with Planet Hulk except the aliens had Hulk so there was only one natural step left. In Siege Norman Osborn declared war on Asgard, which due to a variety of interesting circumstances was flying over Oklahoma, he would break Thor and any other god that stood in his way and his Dark Avengers would make short work of any hero who choose to help defend the gods. In the early phases of the battle Osborn struck quickly with the Sentry, who turned out to be an incredibly powerful being called the Void, and took down Thor on national television. However, instead of breaking down any resistance to Osborn this galvanised his opponents, bringing together the Avengers, Secret Warriors, Young Avengers and several other smaller factions into a tight fighting unit under the guidance of not one but two Captain Americas. The third act played out about how you would expect, with a huge battle raging across the halls of Asgard and the heroes eventually emerging victorious.

The Dawning Of A New Age


When it comes to reception, Siege got very mixed reviews when it hit shelves. While a lot of people really liked the actual event it represented the undoing of a lot of great events and history in the Marvel Universe, the final scenes showed the super human registration act being thrown out which undid most of Civil War. I feel that the aftermath was a necessity but I do also agreed that it could have been handled better, however, the way the event plays out is fantastic. The book still sold extremely well and most review sites pitch it at the 4/5 mark and while this event is rarely talked about as the best it still holds up for me and I think you could make a case for it being as good as World War Hulk or Secret Invasion. This was the end of an era but it was also the birth of the ‘Heroic Age’ which would take Marvel to new heights! Join me next time on Comic History 101 when I will be looking at the other side of the aisle with Flashpoint and the Rebirth of the DC Universe.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!

BearSleuth Reviews: Suicide Squad *Spoiler Warning*

By BearSleuth

It’s time for me to set the record straight. After my attack on the current sweeping nature of the critical industry it’s time for me to give my verdict on Suicide Squad. However, before I tell you my thoughts I have to say this is a hard film to review as it takes a very different approach to the action/ super hero genre therefore the only real way to tell if you like it is by going to see it. With that in mind, Suicide Squad is essentially four great films blended together into one okay film. The film attempts to cover the classic ‘Mad Love’ story arc from Batman, an origin film for Deadshot, half a Justice League Dark film with Katana and Enchantress as well as a Suicide Squad origin story. I think the best way to approach a review of the film is to look at each of these aspects and judge how the film approaches each.

Continue reading

Covert Coot: What is The Dark Tower?

You may or may not know, but Sony Pictures are finally bringing an adaptation of The Dark Tower to our screens with a scheduled release of February 2017. Those familiar with the series will know that the project has been bounced around studios for well over a decade, with the only reliable information that Ron Howard was set to direct. With the film slowly coming together and the promotional campaign kicking off – I guess you can say that for long term fans, it’s been a long time coming.

Entertainment Weekly's Comic Con cover.

Entertainment Weekly’s Comic Con cover.

With the announcement of The Dark Tower movie and the casting of two terrific actors in the lead roles – Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey – the series has renewed interest with existing fans rereading the books and analysing every little update on the film, but also introducing new fans to one of the most popular series in fiction.

What is The Dark Tower?

I suppose this is the big question for newcomers to the series and I will do my best to sell the series to you spoiler free.

The Dark Tower is an epic fantasy/scifi/horror series written by Stephen King. The series consists of eight books and over 4000 pages of material, furthermore The Dark Tower has a number of ties to other works by King (I’ll expand on this in next week’s post). The story features Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger who is on a quest of epic proportions to reach the Dark Tower – the quest, as well as other elements of the series were heavily influenced by Lord of the Rings and spaghetti westerns such as, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

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Roland isn’t alone on the quest as he is joined by Jake Chambers, Eddie Dean, Susannah Dean and Oy.

Illustration by Michael Whelan

Illustration by Michael Whelan

Their journey takes through different worlds, but primarily takes place throughout All-World which is comprised of In-World, Mid-World and End-World. Naturally our little band of heroes come across some resistance and come face to face with mutants, vampires, werewolves and of course The Man In Black & The Crimson King – both of whom appear or are referred to in a number of King’s novels.

Illustration by Michael Whelan

Illustration by Michael Whelan

Along the way we learn more about the characters, the world and of course the Dark Tower itself, which is the glue that holds the universe together. With connections to a lot of King’s other work, the idea that the fate of the ‘Stephen King Multiverse’ rests upon the Dark Tower adds to the urgency and importance of the overall quest.

Now, I said I was going to keep this as spoiler free as possible and hopefully I’ve managed that, but I also wanted to expand on some of these points and write about the added experience of reading the comic books in The Dark Tower universe, as well as the other novels by Stephen King that add to the series. After all, I mentioned the antagonists of The Man In Black & The Crimson King appearing in other novels, but there are other characters that do so too and all in very important ways.

So come back next week for a Beginners Guide to The Dark Tower.

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OpinionatedDavid: You Don’t Care What I Think About Ghostbusters.

So, I finally got round to seeing Ghostbusters, the comedy remake made infamous by the gender flipping of its main cast. Is it as bad as I feared? Is it as good as I hoped? Will your pick for the movies this week be influenced whatsoever by my answer? Well if it would be, then tough, because I’m not telling you.

I don’t feel able to give you my honest opinion of the end product of this debacle. I don’t feel secure in doing so. Why? Well it’s partly because this is one angry mob I really don’t want to have crawling all over my Twitter feed, but also because the environment this project has existed in all the way up to its release has been so toxic (That word is fast becoming overused but by God does it apply here) that I can’t trust any objectivity I had to begin with hasn’t been tainted by all the rage and counter-rage. Did the parts I liked only score highly with me because my expectations have been set so low? Did the parts that disappointed me fall short only because this film is supposed to now ‘decide’ a battle in war it doesn’t actually seem to have much stake in?

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The question of objectivity in artistic critique is a tricky and hotly debated one in its own right, and I’m more or less in the camp of believing true objectivity in such a subjective space is impossible, and one does not need to be one hundred per cent ‘objective’ in order to be ‘honest’ and ‘fair’. With that in mind, when I’m telling you that I don’t feel comfortable giving my honest opinion about a piece of art because I believe my ability to give it a fair hearing was handicapped before I even took my seat, then you know that something has gone very badly wrong. However long it might take before the dust settles enough for critics to honestly take this movie apart and see if it measures up (months, years, if ever at all), I can tell you that right now the question isn’t really about whether or not the film is good, or how it compares to the original. No, right now the question is about which side the film is on; who it proves ‘right’; who’s bile and whinging it does or doesn’t ‘justify’. People want to know who it will anger, and whether or not their ire should be celebrated.

That’s not a debate I wish to partake in, other than to tell everyone involved to go to upstairs, because it is clearly past your bedtime.

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I’m not going to go into any detail about the shroud of abuse, posturing, and general off-colour behaviour that has hung over this remake since it was first announced. I don’t want to give any of it more attention, reviewing it all would make me too depressed, and cataloguing it would take more space than I can afford anyway. Needless to say if you haven’t been following it, you probably enjoy a far more serene existence than I do, and should keep it that way. To the rest of you, I say…

What the hell is wrong with you people?! Have you listened to yourselves?!

First of all, no. Ghostbusters has not ‘ruined your childhood’. No piece of art is capable of doing that unless you let it; and if you do all you’re saying to the world is that you’ve had an incredibly privileged upbringing and possess a laughably fragile ego. Second, even if this film was some ungodly molestation of your cherished memories, that reached through time and retroactively removed the original film from existence; or if you blame this film for the knowledge that the original cast is never coming back for Ghostbusters 3 (assuming Ghostbusters 2, the death of Harold Ramis and the general passage of time hadn’t already sent that message loud and clear) then guess what? The people who made it still wouldn’t deserve even half of this vile exhibition you’ve displayed. You never owned this brand, the people who made this film despite your protestations don’t care what you think, so pipe down and deal with it you big bunch of babies!

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As for the other side… stop holding this film up as ‘revolutionary’. It really isn’t, and you look silly doing it. This remake is essentially a Hollywood-budgeted fan film, made by some pretty talented people who are (mostly) already respected in the comedic establishment, who are having a pretty good time playing with all their toys, and who never asked to be made into a political football for people with far too much time on their hands. Whatever else new-Ghostbusters may or may not be, it doesn’t have some fist-pumping declaration to make about toppling the patriarchy. You think we need more and better representation? So do I. You want examples to hold up to the next generation that women can do anything they set their minds to? Great! However, in a world where women lead the IMF, the governments of the UK, Germany, and I hope to God soon the USA, you can do better in that regard than Melissa McCarthy.

I am under no obligation to be impartial. I don’t ‘attack both sides’ on principle because I’m terrified of being accused of the dreaded bias, as some are. I am biased, and proudly so. It should be obvious from my tone which side I think has the right of it in the larger ‘Culture War’ (Christ people, how self-important can we get?). That said, I’m nobody’s soldier, and where I think both sides do truly deserve a good dressing down is picking this battlefield in the first place. It’s a movie – one that isn’t taking itself half as seriously as it seems like everyone around it is. Get. Over. Yourselves.

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Of course, artistic media can (and absolutely should) inform political discussion, and visa-versa. It doesn’t really have a choice. Every creator, and everything they create, exists in our society as part of the zeitgeist, a miasma of cultural influence which incubates all of our ideas, whether we are aware of it or not. Art imitates life, and life takes notes from art. So, pretty much the fastest way to turn me off a discussion concerning a piece of art is to express a desire to keep ‘politics’ out of it. ‘Politics’ is just another way of saying ‘ideas’, and the idea of talking about anything while deliberately avoiding any consideration for the ideas behind it seems bizarre to me.

That last paragraph sounds like a complete contradiction, doesn’t it? Well, maybe it is, but if the mud-slinging surrounding this particular film has convinced me of anything, it’s that there is a limit. When you project a very specific argument onto a subject that has little or nothing to do with it, then that’s not an honest discussion of the piece of art itself. That’s you trying to turn the art into a weapon for your own purposes, and in the process you prevent other people from judging it fairly. That’s how we got here. I don’t feel like I can say I (hypothetically) dislike this movie without being patted on the back by people who disgust me, who would make me want to scrub my skin raw if they touched me. Nor would I feel confident hypothetically saying I enjoyed it without feeling like I’m being roped into further battles to gain the ‘high-ground’ of cultural influence. One way or another, I’d really just like to be able to express an opinion about something inconsequential, and then get on with the rest of my day.

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If I can’t do that, then can everyone else at least have the decency to not pretend they give a damn what I think unless it gives them ammunition?

…That was this week’s OpinionatedDavid article!!! Check back at 6pm for a new VuePoint article!!!

 

Comic History 101: Gotham Central

There are a lot of sad stories in every medium and genre. Opportunities where true greatness could have come through but was unrecognised. Critics or general audiences take a book or film or piece of art and shoot it down because it is too experimental or doesn’t fit with the mainstream of the time. Gotham Central is one of these stories as it is a series that both saw wide acclaim in its critical reception and a devastating lack of sales. This is a series which had real potential but unfortunately didn’t quite make the break and for that it is simply fascinating to talk about.

Working day and night


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In March 2001 Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker worked together on a Batman crossover entitled ‘Officer Down’ in which Commissioner Gordon was shot by an unknown assailant. The crossover was fairly successful and the two writers found that they enjoyed working alongside one and other. This led them to bounce around a few ideas and eventually pitch a series looking at the cops of Gotham. Gotham Central. The interesting aspect of the piece came from Rucka and Brubaker’s decision to split the writing and the characters so that Rucka would be writing the day shift and Brubaker would be writing for the night shift. This gave the two GCPD crews very different feels and created a series that could run two stories simultaneously.

Eisners and failure


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The series began to gain some critical acclaim as it worked with very human problems and gave a different view point on the world of Gotham. This led to an Eisner nominations for the series in 2003 for best new series, best writer (for both Rucka and Brubaker) and best penciller/inker. With these nominations also came the new that the series was beginning to fail. It was consistently struggling to place in the top 100 each month and seemed to be losing it following. While Brubaker is quoted as saying this never presented a danger of cancellation for the series, it was plain to see that the higher ups at DC did not consider the series to be beneficial to their bottom line and so they began to divert resources away from the project. Lark and Brubaker began to drift on to other projects and eventually Rucka decided to cancel the series after Infinite Crisis.

Lesson’s to be learned


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When looking into why the series struggled I’m honestly a little perplexed, most reviews seem to be pretty positive and even the slightly more negative ones have specific problems with certain characters instead of the overarching narrative. This book was one of the strongest DC were putting to the shelves at the time and my only thought is that there was either a deficiency in the marketing campaign. There can be an issue with more experimental titles finding their place in the industry but with the rise of companies such as Image I think this series would have be seen as a worthy competitor to the growing independent scene if it had hit shelves today. This is just a case of the right book at the wrong time and I am glad that I am able to share with you this hidden gem of a book. Next week I will be looking at Secret Invasion and how Marvel looked at post-9/11 fears.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth spoiler free comic book bundle!!!

BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Forty Four

It’s weeks like these that I live for as a comic book fan. I walked into my local comic book store today to be faced with a barrage of amazing titles backed up by the tightest of creative teams. DC are leading with their best foot forward this week with a triple hit of Batman, Justice League and Superman that will leave any reader breathless. To top that we’ve got a new Deadpool series and the beginning of a new Star Wars arc that will knock you off your feet. And while you’re on the ground there’s a left hook from Snotgirl and I Hate Fairyland to knock your socks off once and for all. Needless to say, I have survived this assault, wrestled my socks back on, and I’m ready to give you the official BearSleuth play by play.

 

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics App [Accessed: 22/07/2016]

 

Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Rebirth One-Shot By Julie Benson, Shawna Benson And Claire Rose


 

We’re starting with the weakest of the bunch this week but please don’t take that as a put down for Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey. This year has seen a Ghostbuster’s reboot that handled female characters with a greater care that the rest of the film industry and I feel there is a parallel to be drawn between that film and this book. The mainstream of the comic book industry has had a love-hate relationship with female characters and this book goes a long way to break away from the classic problems. Ever since Gail Simone’s work on Batgirl, and arguably before, the character has stood as a feminist icon in the industry and this book continues that tradition while also working not to sound preachy in its approach. The Benson’s merit the highest praise for making another great female-lead piece and, with Claire Rose’s artwork, this book deserves your attention and support.

 

Batman Issue Three By Tom King And David Finch


 

Sometimes I claim that a certain book would be the pick of the week if only it had fallen in another week because there is another book that has just blown it out the water, but even that doesn’t justify my situation this week. This week might contain two of my favourite comic books of the year and it is only because the other one might start a whole new trend in the industry that Batman Issue Three is not my pick of the week. This book does everything perfectly, the writing is so perfect that I cannot find a sing word that seems out of place or unnecessary, there is an elegance to King’s writing which I can only describe as otherworldly. The structure of the piece stands alone as a piece of art examining the soul of Batman whilst also falling neatly into the ongoing narrative of the book. I have a feeling this is a piece we will be studying for years as a paragon of writing and design in the medium. The artwork is solid here as well as it is simple, allowing the writing to hold the reader’s attention. This is a book and a series you need to follow. A modern classic.

 

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money Issue One By Cullen Bunn And Iban Coello


 

A Deadpool book that doesn’t just rely on one liners and instead turns change with heart and integrity while still perpetuating a sense of levity. Madness. Deadpool & The Mercs For Money continues Cullen Bunn’s trend for playing the character of Wade Wilson as a tragic anti-hero, a trend that has evolved over the years with the character. We see in this issue how Deadpool deals with his reputation in the wider hero community whilst also witnessing the further establishment of the Mercs For Money as individuals. There is also a reintroduction of a fan favourite character that I’m sure will be a pleasant treat for both comic readers and movie goers. This is a solid book and if you are a Deadpool fan then you need to pick it up.

 

I Hate Fairyland Issue Seven By Skottie Young


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I’ll be honest, I always had a good feeling about this series but I never quite expected it to be so strong and to grow such a wide fanbase. I Hate Fairyland is one of the first Image comics (after Walking Dead and Sex Criminals) that I have found non-comic book readers talking about. This is something I love to see and I really think it’s a great sign for the industry as it shows that not only the super hero books are finding their place in the mainstream. This book deserves major attention as well as it is unlike anything else on the shelves and a thoroughly original concept, with only gentle nods of the head to works such as Discworld. Skottie Young knows how to rock out in the art department and he makes sure to splash as much colour and life into every panel as possible. This is another series you should check out, even if you hate comic books this could be the one to turn your head.

 

Justice League Issue One By Bryan Hitch And Tony S. Daniel


 

The big buzzword everyone liked to use when talking about Geoff John’s Justice League series was ‘epic’ but I have a feeling that we are going to have to start toping that with a phase such as ‘divine opera’ when talking about Hitch’s run. The second panel in this book is a double page spread that just tells you everything you need to know about Hitch’s vision for the Justice League and how they should appear going forward. Hitch gets the idea of micro-macro writing that has always been at the heart of the series as we open on one of the most terrifying world catastrophes imaginable while we also see various personal dramas begin to show between the team mates. It’s this level of writing talent, coupled with pencil work by industry mainstay Tony S. Daniel that leaves us with a worthy successor to the work of Johns, Lee and Fabok. This is the start of something big, get in on the ground floor.

 

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Snotgirl Issue One By Bryan Lee O’Malley And Leslie Hung


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If you had asked me twenty four hours ago what my favourite book of the year is I would not have been able to give you an answer and I would probably have defaulted to Tom King’s Batman or Vision series. Now I can definitively say I know the answer. Snotgirl is the newest creation from Bryan Lee O’Malley, creator of Scott Pilgrim, and I think it might be his magnum opus. The concept is an original dramatic satire on modern life with the sort of out of the box approach that both O’Malley and Image have become famous for. There is a perfect sense of character from start to finish and the personality of even bit players seems to shine through. It’s interesting to see O’Malley moving to the writer’s seat while letting Leslie Hung take over on the artwork front but I think it’s fair to say that O’Malley, while having a style that complements his own writing, has never been the strongest in the art department. Hung works perfectly with O’Malley’s script creating a piece that doesn’t deserve to be in your collection but instead simply needs to be there.

 

Star Wars Issue Twenty One By Jason Aaron And Jorge Molina


 

The Darth Vader comic series is about to finish and I think it’s fair to say it has had a great run, that means it’s time for Marvel to attempt to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time with another Star Wars villain. If you missed the subtle hint on the cover of this issue, this issue appears to be a disguised-pilot for a Stormtrooper mini-series. As you would expect, this immediately triggered my critical defences like a fresh piece of meat being thrown into the lions pit but I have to say I like what we’ve been presented with here. The Stormtrooper squad look interesting and are each compelling enough character’s that they can pull off the anti-hero approach easily. Aaron has put in the work here and I have to say that it pays off in story that will delight Star Wars fans.

 

Superman Issue Three By Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason And Jorge Jimenez


 

I left this one to last. Honestly, I tried everything to escape reviewing this book, after loving the first two issues I really wanted to love this one two but I had been put off by the ending of the second issue and I didn’t want this issue to shatter my hope for a strong Superman series. I am happy to say that nothing of the sort happened when I read Superman Issue Three. This is a great piece and with the fantastic writing talent of Tomasi and Gleason behind it the book continues to deliver a plot that manages to drill to the core of what superman should represent. The art by Jimenez is sublime and there really is little else I can say about it. If you want a good Superman story you finally have one!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back today at 6pm for a new Adaptive Panels!!!

BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Comic Con Is Upon Us!

Every hobby community has it’s sacred holiday day. If you try to ask my football mad Dad to do anything while the world up is on then you are going to be lucky to get anything more than a vague grunt from him. I tried to get into contact with our very own gaming gremlin, VuePoint, while E3 was on and I didn’t get a single reply until the presentations were over. Now it’s my turn. I’m your friendly neighbourhood comic book guy and tomorrow marks the start of San Diego Comic Con. For the best part of a week the San Diego Convention Centre will become a temple for geekdom and at the heart of it will be every major comic book publisher from the titans of Marvel and DC all the way through to the rising success stories of the indie landscape. Whether it’s talking about new storylines, fielding questions from the wider community, looking at artist portfolios or teasing future events, the comic publishers will be acting as the high priests at the comic con temple and I can wait to see what gifts they conjure from the ether. On top of the comic book stuff there will hundreds of movie, video game, war game and reading events, promotions and announcements. Every year the convention gets a little bigger and this year is already set to top it’s predecessors.

How Can You Get A Piece Of The Action?


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If you are going to comic con I’m pretty sure you know by now and, unless a love one is about to surprise you with tickets, you might have to consider another to get involved with the event. If you have ever tried to follow E3 or EuroGamer then you should have a pretty good idea how this works. You can watch everything going down at comic con (except for close-doors reveals) on a stream, I personally recommend IGN as they tend to have strong coverage across the entire event but both Marvel Comics and the Hollywood Reporter have their own streams which are worth checking out. Obviously, as many of our readers are British, remember to check the stream’s schedule and then factor in any relevant time differences as not to miss anything. If you come across a point in the schedule that your stream isn’t covering then hop onto one of the others. This will get you closer to San Diego Comic Con however you can go one step further.

The Real Action.


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Jump back forty six years to the very first San Diego comic con, there were barely any attendees and it was essentially a few round table discussions with some of the industry big wigs and the fans. In fact, there was so little interest and funding that the industry had to put on a convention three months before ‘the big one’ just to fund the handful of guests they had. I tried to scour the internet for an image from these first conventions but they just didn’t even have the profile for a photographer, the earliest image I could find is the one above from the 1972 convention. Then things began to change slowly and with each year the panels and the guests profile began to get bigger and bigger. This year’s convention is only a worldwide phenomenon because of the tireless support of fans just like you and me. When enough people put their will behind something it can become bigger than any of them imagined, that’s the idea behind all these super heroes we love and that’s the idea behind comic con. Batman is just Bruce Wayne in a fancy suit right? Fuck no. He is a piece of our modern mythology, he is the modern Zeus or Thor. Our will lends him power. So if the fans before us could turn a few fans sitting around a table with a writer into one of the biggest events in the world why can’t we do it again?

Local Action


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About a decade ago (depending on who you ask), London played host to its first film and comic book convention, now it’s the third biggest comic book convention in the world. A few years ago, Manchester played host to its first comic book convention, which has almost doubled in size and success with every year to the point that it is now pretty much taking over the city in two weeks. Two years ago my home town of Wigan played host to its first comic convention and in only two years it’s seen a huge increase in prestige. These conventions are happening all the time and they are spreading like wildfire, so go out and get involved with the closest on to you, volunteer, exhibit or just simply attend. If there isn’t a comic book convention near you go and start one! Who knows forty six years from now you might be introducing the next Iron Man to your main stage or watching as the world is rocked by holographic technology that lets you become Batman. Anything is possible with enough will. If you think nerds don’t get that then just look at Green Lantern, we created a freaking hero dedicated to the concept…