Month: December 2013

186 Reasons Chris Claremont is Awesome #6: A Crisis in Confidence

Trying to follow in the footsteps of a talented predecessor is never easy.  Following two talented predecessors?  That can be nerve-racking for someone not completely sure of their place in the role.  Just ask Nightcrawler who became leader of the X-Men when Storm left to find herself just after the loss of his powers.

When Storm took over the team from Cyclops after the Dark Phoenix Saga, she immediately took to it with confidence.  True, she was dealing with a heavy internal conflict due to her changing mentality amongst the X-Men, but when it came to her command decisions and keeping the respect of her team, Storm commanded authority and showed little if any weakness.  Even when Cyclops returned, Storm did not take his unsure status with his role on the team lightly, which ultimately led her to push him out of his leadership role and ultimately away from the team (which we will cover next time).

But when the role came onto Nightcrawler, he was unsure of his command decisions, constantly double guessed himself and repeatedly compared his actions to his predecessors, asking himself what they would do in his place.

But it’s not like Nightcrawler was a BAD leader – he just had the role with a lot of factors going against him.  For starters, Professor X had regained the use of his legs and was insistent on having an active role on the team.  The other X-Men, mainly Storm and Wolverine, were against the idea thinking of Xavier wanting to play the typical superhero instead of keeping his regular support role, having been forced into it for so long.  Xavier didn’t take the backup spot too well and still saw himself as a leader, giving the X-Men conflicting authority figures – should Nightcrawler and Xavier give opposite orders, which should the team follow?  The similar situation had arisen between Storm and Cyclops, but Nightcrawler lacked Storm’s confidence to assert his authority as she had, and even Cyclops had over Xavier in the past.

Second, Nightcrawler’s tenure came in perhaps the lowest PR point of the X-Men had found themselves in, and perhaps the worst they would have until Onslaught killed the Marvel U’s non-mutant heroes.  Already at odds with the government for harboring the former terrorist Rogue and further sullied by the government’s hiring of the former Brotherhood members as Freedom Force, the X-Men were officially branded outlaws when they seemingly attacked a government base without provocation.

In reality, the move had been done as a rescue mission to save their former teammate Banshee who had been kidnapped by the Hellion Thunderbird (the future Warpath) in an effort to avenge the death of his brother.  The X-Men had gone in to save him quietly, but the meddling of Hellions Empath and Roulette alerted the authorities and made the X-Men seem like terrorists.  The X-Men made it out with Banshee alive, but their reputation had been ruined.  Nightcrawler blamed the botched mission on his leadership, and gladly returned the role to Storm upon her return.

But removing the burden of leadership did not free Nightcrawler of his feelings of worthlessness, and when the Beyonder summoned the X-Men to him during Secret Wars II, Nightcrawler was left behind.  Now downright sullen, he tried to find comfort in his girlfriend Amanda Sefton, but ultimately lashed out at her and ended their relationship for some time.  He had a brief return to form when he managed to save a socialite and Eastern European heiress from Arcade and Murderworld, but the newfound happiness was not to last as he was critically injured in the X-Men’s fight against Nimrod, costing him his ability to teleport without the greatest of strain.

He only made it back to the team for two more issues before he went down during the Mutant Massacre and would not return to the team for over a decade.

The entire process was a huge change for Nightcrawler, and defined his role in the swift change in the team leading from the departure of Professor X to the darkening of days leading to the Massacre and beyond.  But bouncing back from it led to the resurgence of his swashbuckling bravado sense and to his spot on the far happier Excalibur, a place that he was meant to be in during that period.

It was an excellent character journey, and it’s one more reason Chris Claremont is awesome.

Someone needs to turn up the Spider Sense

The daily Spider-Man newspaper comic by Stan Lee and brother Larry Lieber is usually an unintentionally hilarious series of blatant ineptitude.

Take, for instance, the crucial case that sets off Peter’s Spider Sense.

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If his Sense goes off just before a slight collision with a co-worker at the Bugle, then surely it must be in constant overtime when he’s in battle as Spider-Man, right?  Right.

Well…not so much.

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Even the X-Men’s old nemesis The Brick can get past Spider-Man’s fabled Spider-Sense for a good ol’-fashioned conk to the noggin.

The odd case of Howard Cantour.com

Shia LaBeouf is not exactly a popular figure in our nerdy little corner of fandom.  Perhaps its his roles on less-popular versions of popular franchises (Indiana Jones, Transformers), but when his name pops up, fans often react with more ire and less support.  Maybe it’s justified, maybe it’s not.

But with the news coming out about LaBeouf this week, it’s hard to show any love for the guy.

On Monday, LaBeouf released online Howard Cantour.com, an 11-minute short film he wrote and directed, starring Jim Gaffigan.  He had debuted it last year at the Cannes Film Festival and apparently gotten praise for it.

Within hours of the film’s online release, fans and critics began throwing up warning flags.  The plot and script seemed familiar to the 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano by Dan Clowes (creator of Ghost World).  And not in the way that Fighting Patriot seems familiar to Captain America in the homage sense.  Except for some small changes, LaBeouf had basically made a film adaptation of Clowes’s work, complete with DIRECT usages of dialogue from the script (including the opening monologue).

“A critic is a warrior, and each of us on the battlefield have the means to glorify or demolish (whether a film, a career, or an entire philosophy) by influencing perception in ways that if heartfelt and truthful, can have far-reaching repercussions.”

The problem is that LaBeouf did not seek permission from Clowes to use his work in film, nor did he provide any credit or compensation for the work.  In fact Clowes first heard of the film on Monday when various sources began asking him about it upon the online release.

“The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf,” Clowes told BuzzFeed. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.”

When the criticism started flying, LaBeouf began owning up to the matter via Twitter, first saying it was an honor to be copying, then saying he got overexcited about the whole process and got carried away, and ultimately settling on “I f*cked up”.  If you want a little more humor on the matter, the first tweet he sent seemed to be a copy of someone else’s words from a Yahoo! Answers page, but that’s beyond the point.

As far as blunders go, this is a pretty major one.  Not only did LaBeouf make the film without the knowledge or permission of the source’s creator, but he passed it off as his own work for over a year and took credit for it during that time.  It speaks volumes of LaBeouf’s character and ego that he would voluntarily release the film to the online public and not expect something like this to come back at him.

You cannot simply take someone’s work and make an adaptation of it without asking them.  The most basic sense of copyright allows a creator to get compensation when his work is used by another.  That also gives the creator the right to give (and withhold) permission to even have his work used for something.  Perhaps LaBeouf thought that Clowes would be impressed by the adaptation.  Perhaps he thought no one would notice.

But going forward, anything that he tries to make will undoubtedly be run over with a fine-toothed comb looking for any and every possible signs of plagiarism by fans who really have nothing better to do with their time.

But that’s LaBeouf’s personal problem and he’s earned that.  The bigger matter here is that it got this far with it before someone called him on it.  I really cannot think of another example this blatant.  Clowes is reportedly looking at his legal options, and you can bet that before this is over, he will get not only credit for his work, but also compensation for the matter.

And Shia LaBeouf will become even more disliked in the comic community.

Rob Liefeld likes X-Force script; movie probably terrible

There’s nothing comic jerks like me enjoy quite like teasing Rob Liefeld whenever he does something.  This time, he tweeted his liking of the apparent script for an X-Force film.

“Every film needs a proper script b4 they can cast&shoot. 1st mission accomplished for X-Force-When the casting begins we can scream together”

“X-Force cast/film will please/appeal to fans of all eras. Wadlow carefully, cleverly navigates the legacy.”

Now keep in mind this is Rob Liefeld we’re talking about, whose comic story tastes have not exactly been good.  Ever.  So here’s hoping that his excitement means that we finally get the long-awaited roles of Thumbelina, Forearm, Feral and Gideon will finally go beyond fantasy casting.  I would watch the hell out of a film based on Liefeld’s X-Force – and I don’t watch many movies.

Lady Sif helps the kids

There are few things that celebrities do that are more awesome than taking time from their busy schedules to make the lives of sick children a little better.  In fact, if there is something more awesome, I’m at a loss for what it is.

Take Jaimie Alexander, for instance, who donned her Lady Sif garb from the Thor movies and visited a Los Angeles children’s hospital.

If that doesn’t make her awesome, I don’t know what does.

Marvel.com has the story.