Sage's Stray Thoughts Episode 17: Superhero Bonanza

Last week was the spectre that just wouldn't let me go.  Between graduation and my mom's trip to the hospital (just a gallbladder removal, we're all good) I had about twelve hours sleep across four days.  So I apologize for taking so long to get back to this.   Anyway, let's get started.

The Girl of Steel

I don't know if CBS just really likes Supergirl, or if they just really, REALLY want it to work.  They've put so much effort into this thing--while Titans (which we'll get to later) seems to be dragging its feet, Supergirl went from a rumored idea to an actual pilot to a full series order in what seems like no time.  It feels like the natural addition to the superhero family that Flash didn't quite have time to give us.    And now, here we are looking at a six minute (!) clip of the trailer--basically the pilot, condensed down to its' barest essentials.   It's more than enough to draw an actual feel for the show, so what do I think so far?

Pretty good, actually. The musical choices were pure garbage, but that's not meant for me or the thousands of superhero fans who were probably the first ones to watch it.  It's meant to grab the people who actually watch CBS every night without needing one of their cape people to pop up, so I get it.   It's not perfect, to be sure--Kara's a little too like Felicity, and there are some moments where (especially with the music) things seem downright chick flick-y.  

But don't let that distract you from what this does right: this is a show about a woman who's proud to wear the crest of El.  A woman who's been granted extraordinary abilities, and tries to put them to use for the good of the planet.  It's got a surprisingly hopeful tone, they got the costume down quite well, and Supergirl definitely looks every bit like the powerhouse her cousin is, with her lifting planes in the first freaking episode. 

I'll admit that the show will probably be more interesting whenever she's in costume, but aside from that?  I'm all in.  People are giving this trouble now, but I'm betting once she butts heads with villains from her and Clark's rogues' gallery like Silver Banshee or Metallo, they'll start to agree.  I look forward to the inevitable cross-network crossover between her, Flash, and Arrow if this gets a season 2 (they said they want to keep them separate early on so bet on waiting a while).  

Oh, and as for "James" Olson?   Thank you for not making him lame, basically.   Though I'm a little concerned that James will probably end up being the "mentor" that Clark can't actually be since he's probably not allowed to appear on the show.   Speaking of that, if they can actually get "Superman" to legitimately appear a few times, I'll waive all complaints about the show.   He doesn't need to do anything action-wise--I don't want him to overshadow Kara--I just want to know they're able to properly acknowledge him without basically keeping him off-screen because movies.

The God of Thunder Unveiled

So, the new Thor finally stands revealed and its...(spoiler)...Jane Foster.  Now, Thor actually visited Jane when he created a list of possible candidates capable of holding Mjolnir, but he wrote her off since she seemed to have a fairly advanced cancer.  But now the mystery is over.

Full disclosure: I haven't actually read the issue yet so I have no idea how well or poorly the reveal was done, but I've been reading the new Thor's comic since it started, and I've read Jason Aaron's run since the beginning so I think I can speak with some knowledge here.

I don't have a problem with this identity.  It's properly surprising, but at the same time it doesn't come so far outfield that you roll your eyes that they even tried it.   And, as I read somewhere else--it works because the original Thor was also someone who was fairly sickly and transformed into a god when needed.   All that said?  From here on is the most crucial step.

Much has been made, positively or negatively, about the new Thor.  Most positively is that her book is outselling the old book by a lot.  A lot a lot.   But now that her identity is out in the open, we have a bit of a litmus test coming.   If the comics' audience has changed as much as I keep reading--becoming more diverse and progressive, this reveal won't change a thing.   But if they're the same folks they were five years ago, well...this surprise may yet take a lot of the wind from the sales of this comic.   I hope not though, because I enjoy this book quite a bit when it's on its game.  (Also please don't kill me for that "sails" pun--I couldn't resist.)

Sticky Source Material
 If you didn't know, TNT is trying to get a Titans pilot off the ground.  Announced sometime last year, supposedly they're working on a pilot that would hopefully get off the ground later this summer.    The most interesting thing to me is the news that they're going to try to "stick to the source material", while boasting a line-up of Robin, Barbara Gordon, Hawk and Dove, along with Starfire and Raven.

Okay, look.   Even though it's my personal dream to one day have animated versions of every superhero ever that basically condense the stories of their comic book canon like shonen manga adaptations, I get that it doesn't usually work that way.  Whether things remain true to "source material" or not actually isn't that big a deal.   But the best advice I can offer you is to stop exaggerating what's actually possible.

Teen Titans is a major DC franchise, and it deserves a live-action series just as much as anything else that's been greenlit and put on air in the past three years.  But.   It's a licensing nightmare and we're all aware of that.   Wally West belongs to CW's Flash.  Cyborg is a member of the Justice League.  Roy Harper just left Arrow.   The only way you could remain true to the source material at this point would be to ignore what every other DC series or film is doing, and you aren't going to do that.  So why hamstring yourself?  Own up to the show that you're making, and try to make that work.  The fans will understand.  I mean, if they could understand Smallville....

A Proper Beginning to the End
Quick confession: I didn't like Secret Wars #1.

It was the pay off to seventy-plus issues of Hickman's Avengers run, and something like two years worth of storytelling, but I honestly just thought it was kind of dull and...borderline sloppy.   Too many widescreen splash pages filled with a who's-who of superheroes--they made sense, but it was all very early mega-crossover era, so it was impossible to be impressed.  Worse, characters just seemed to die for no other reason than "it's that sort of issue", appearing briefly for the sole purpose of shuffling off this mortal coil in a violent manner only a page or two later.  The only scene that was any good was the one with the Punisher, which was stupid in the absolute best kind of way.

But this issue sees Hickman back to form, with a proper opening act that's almost biblical in scope and scale, as we are introduced to The Way Things Are on Battleworld.  Guided through this new planet by the police force known as the Thors, we're given a look at the way political power works on this new planet, and finally shown the ruler, religion, and cause of Battleworld's existence as well.

Esad Ribic's art works perfectly to convey the massive, fantasy-like epic Hickman is setting up, and all the concepts he's been assembling to make Battleworld work and give it a distinct Game of Thrones kind of feel made this monster of an issue (something like 40+ pages) excellent.  If this issue is indicative of what's up for the remaining six issues, I'm somewhat disappointed that six is all we get.

And, I think that's it for today.  But these things may very well approach a daily frequency if I can get my timing right. 


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