Green Lantern vs. X-Men First Class

I’ve finally caught up watching both Green Lantern and X-Men First Class movies. Both have been doing very well at the box office, but both have been reviewed very differently via their critics. GL is sitting at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, while XMFC is sitting at a comfortable 87%. Given that both movies came out weeks between one another, I figured it would be a good idea to ask myself, and you, “Which one is better?”

My Initial Take

I’m a huge X-fan, so it surprised a lot of people I knew who found out that I did not see it on opening night. Why? From the first announcements of the cast, I knew this was not going to be a normal X-Men movie. I mean, Azazel as an adult with Mystique as a child and friends to Xavier? Alex Summers with no Cyclops? Riptide? Really? What happened to Darwin? It was a confusing mess from the get-go in my already established X-Continuity mind. As the movie came closer, I figured the movie would end up being an action flick with the X-Men names attached to it.

With Green Lantern, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I love corny movies, so a 27% was not going to sway my opinion on the movie. Most people seemed to dislike it because the plot was too simple. Well I loved the 80’s Transformers movie – and I argue that it’s way better than Bay’s recent romp of films. But looking at it, it’s a terrible movie done right. That was my expectation for Green Lantern after hearing the reviews from it come in.

Brace yourself for very minor spoilers ahead.

Green Lantern

GL stayed pretty close to the source material. Hal Jordan was a pilot whose father died when he was a boy. He’s arrogant and Abin Sur gives the ring to Hal. I don’t really have to go into full-detail about the movie, but in a nutshell, GL was superiorly closer to the source material than any X-Men movie thus far.

But I digress: Which movie is better?

Better at what though?

For me, Green Lantern nailed the origin story. Although there was not a lot of time spent on Oa (and I wish there was), viewers could get the gist of the story without having read a comic before. In fact, you could probably pick up a GL comic now (for the most part) and really get a good grasp on what is being told solely because the movie was that easy-going to its viewers.

The movie did fall flat on a lot of dialogue though. In a nutshell, it was Hal Jordan saying, “I’m not afraid. I won’t be afraid. I’m no longer afraid.” In fact, that was pretty much the bulk of the movie. It moved at a slow pace but ultimately came out triumphant in capturing what Green Lantern is. To top it all off, the effects were fantastic.

I loved the final battle scene with Parallax and really enjoyed the time spent on Oa. The scenes where Hal trained with Kilowog and Sinestro were spectacular. Actually, every scene with Sinestro was well done. My only beef was how Ryan Reynolds looked in the costume. It never really did look right – but it’s minuscule when you look at the grand scheme of effects used in the film.

Despite its PG-rated goodness, the film gave us a true portrayal of Hal Jordan. It just did it in a very basic, arguably too simplistic, of ways.

First Class received a PG-13 rating, and justifiably so. The violence is a lot more real, the language gets foul, and Emma Frost hardly wears any clothing. What it also gains is a more mature story. And no, I do not suggest PG-13 movies are better than PG ones. This is just my lazy segue into X-Men First Class.

Taking viewers to the 1960’s, we get a young Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr (or Max Eisenhardt, for you hardcore fans), Mystique, Havok, Banshee, Darwin, Angel, and various others mutants compiled into an intriguing and unique story about the Cuban Missile Crisis and who was really behind it all. And you know what? It works.

X-Men First Class

For a movie not about anything ever seen before in the X-Men comics, XMFC takes the characters we know and puts them into something entirely different. XMFC takes the undertone of prejudice for mutants and throws them directly into the time where the Western World was on the brink of war. With two major conflicting ideas, the movie forces us to ask about compassion and to justify violence. Indeed, both Xavier and Magneto are the catalysts to both ideals, but the viewer is indirectly asked to make the choice themselves. Green Lantern has none of these deep undertones to it. Any that are suggested in GL are blatantly told to you, (“Don’t be afraid” “Have courage”) while little is left to the imagination of what the movie is really about.

Does that make XMFC a better movie than GL? Of course not.

Another way to look at this is from what I mentioned before with GL. If you saw GL, you can pick up a comic and understand the character or what has happened in the comics rather easily. X-Men is a whole new ball game. There is no way one could read an X-Men comic after seeing the movie and try to compare the two. The only thing XMFC shared with the X-Men comic stories were the character names and some of their powers. Sebastian Shaw had a energy feeding ball of energy, while Darwin *spoiler* could not even keep himself alive for more than ten minutes of the movie. If you’ve read about Darwin, you know that killing him is practically impossible.

Final Thoughts

When comparing both GL and XMFC, GL succeeds tremendously to sticking with the source material, while XMFC did anything but. Quite literally, XMFC could have been any movie with any characters from any series of anything. However “X-Men” was tagged on to it, and thusly, it must be an X-Men movie, despite not being anything to do with X-Men, right? I don’t know.

I mean, with DC’s reboot around the corner, and X-Men already having multiple universes with Ultimate X-Men or Age of Apocalypse, should it matter if XMFC followed the story or not?

Is X-Men First Class a better movie than Green Lantern because it had a better story? Or is Green Lantern a better movie because it followed the source material?

What do you think?

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Keep on Space Truckin’!

Porno, Crooks, and Comic Books

I’ve been aware of Marvel artist, Greg Land, for quite a few years. He has a very particular style of drawing – especially when it comes to facial expressions and body positions. He is currently working on X-Men-related stories, but has worked on Ultimate Fantastic Four and the Ultimate Power mini-series. Land also has a long history working with DC books, such as Nightwing and Birds of Prey. He also had a long run with the CrossGen’s series, Sojourn. Needless to say, Land has a great amount of experience with his short-time being in the comic drawing business.

PornFace

However, it does not take a rocket scientist to see Land’s work as questionable.

But let’s backtrack slightly for a little bit of comic book art history and law suits.

You may notice the likeliness of other celebrities in things, such as Arnold Swarchenegger in the newest rendition of Terminator: Salvation, or Carrie Fisher as a pez dispenser as Princess Leia. Needless to say, the celebrities do not have a problem with this because the movie studios and a few others own the rights to the likeliness of their characters. The celebrities “look” in those movies, for those specific franchises, are owned. It’s like Warner Brothers owning the rights to Batman movies. Fox cannot make a movie with even a hint of Batman in it because Warner Brothers own Batman and most things related to him. It sounds pretty standard and easy-peasy.

When looking at comics, it has been well-documented that artists have used other photographs, as well as celebrities, commercials, movies, and so on, as photo references. It has been done for decades in comic books. One book in particular dealt with a lawsuit, being Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #15, where the likeliness of Christian musician, Amy Grant was used on the cover. The lawsuit ended with “a US District Court seal[ing] an out-of-court settlement between Grant and Marvel in early 1991, with a consent decree that Marvel did not admit to any liability or wrongdoing.”

The question is, how far can this go? Enter: Greg Land.

I’ll start right off-the-bat, stating that I am not accusing Greg Land of anything. I am just simply providing material which has been found via the internet. What I would like to bring forward, is the accusatory remarks placed on Land about his work. He has been accused by folks on the internet for copying other artists’ work, as well as his own. He is also known for presumably taking a lot of images from pornography, which even you may believe with the images provided, such as the many orgasm-esque shots women give (ie. the one above). Why he would trace his own work, I can assume is for one of two things: First is with the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” argument, while the second is that he is lazy. You can read about the controversies with Land’s work here and here.

UncannyFiveThirty

From a MyCup o’ Joe interview with Joe Quesada, he discusses Land’s work: “What’s happened with Greg is that it’s become a witch hunt and way too many people are having way too good a time hurting a tremendous artist’s reputation when he isn’t doing anything that is any different than any of us. Every line he draws now comes under scrutiny and in so many cases, people are ‘seeing’ things where are none.” Quesada also goes on to state: “I could go on and on about how many times Greg has bailed us out from some very bad deadline crunches.”

Comic critic Brian Cronin from Comic Book Resources, states about Land’s work on Uncanny X-Men #510: “People speak often about the ethical issues of someone copying a drawing directly from an image, and those concerns are likely fair enough, but when I think of Greg Land, my problems are not so much ethical ones, but the fact that his process results in terrible art and particularly terrible storytelling. When you only have a certain amount of poses to work with, you just can’t tell the story the correct way. And when the characters all look more or less the same (as they’re all based on the same small set of models/”actresses”), it just makes the book that much more incoherent.”

Needless to say, we have two well-established comic book people arguing two different points. One says what he does is okay, while the other suggests that he is blatantly copying other images and recycling older sketches.

I will leave you with these images pulled from many of his comics. I do not know all of the “authors” that made some of the GIF or JPEG images, but thank you. I did however, use some of the photos (most notably, the X-Men #500 ones) from an awesome blog named JimSmash. His blog is hilarious and well thought-out, so go there now! (Or after you finish reading this one). He also gave me great permission to use his photos. So thank you, Jim! He also referenced me to the 4th Letter.net blog, where they came up with an animated GIF image of the Uncanny X-Men #500 cover you’ll see below. As for the rest of the pictures, I found them through various Google searches leading to message boards. There are more photos like these too – I just have not uploaded them all.

Also look at ComicVine here, for more examples.

As for Land, you can assume what you will. Is it coincidence, actual recycling, or are people looking too far into his art?

If you do believe he is recycling or copying – is he being lazy, or is it because the drawing works so well on many different levels? If you don’t, then why not?

View the pictures here and sound off below. If you’d like, you can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

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Uncanny X-Men #500 Variant Cover

UncannyA

UncannyB

UncannyC

UncannyD

UncannyE

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Is Sandra Bullock Psylocke?

Psylocke

Photo Tracing and Recycling?

One

Two

Sports

MaybeTheSame

The many faces of The Thing

What pose is this, anyway?

Tracing

An “Oh” Face and Some Recycling.

OhFace

Is Jessica Alba a Trace or from Photo Reference?

FirstAlba

Black Canary?

Other Celebrity Coincidences
On the left, think of a young Neal McDonough, while Ben Afleck on the right. Beneath them, it is suggested that it is Topher Grace.

PerhapsMcDonoughandAfleck

PerhapsTopherGrace

Are You an Oakland Raider’s Fan?
From Uncanny X-Men #509.

Raiders

Enjoy Starbucks

Starbucks

Possibly a Pornography Image?

Shameless

Hugh Jackman is Still Wolverine

Wolverine

Updated, Sept 2020

The internet is making the rounds over a new accusation against Land. Artist Tristan Jones has found he has been “Landed” regarding Land’s new cover for an Alien Omnibus coming out. . .

Let’s see Jones’ case:

Hmm. We’ll see where this goes.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Body Image in Comics

As I’m sure you have read, I did a blog post a few weeks back about women in comics. Actually, it was entitled “Women in Comics.” Go figure.

This time, I wanted to sort of tackle that subject again. I was completely unaware how much attention it would take on as that blog remains my highest-viewed blog at this time.

What I want to discuss in this blog is what the title suggests: Body Images in Comics.

But why?

I have read comics my entire life. I watched television shows based on comics. I have seen movies based on comics. Through them, I have seen heroes use their strength to help the defenseless. I’ve seen the weak preyed upon and defeated by good. By all means, comics are reflections of good versus evil. They are a comment on our society and its laws. They comment on what happens in the world. They stand out to say something which others can not. In a way, comics are parallel to our real world and a way to open discussion for real world events.

Some basic examples is the Marvel Civil War story arc, Spider-Man’s “great power comes great responsibility,” Batman’s struggle of a dual identity, X-Men’s fight against racism, the Avengers constant struggle for good, etc. There’s thousands of ideals people can pull out from comics.

But there is one idea that is arguably neglected. Comics show off wrong body images for their readers. And I do not mean, “the Hulk is an impossible body image to replicate.” Keep on reading.

UXM532

People can read comics and take away great values from them. Yet when it comes down to basic hypocrisy, comics take the cake. (And me too, unfortunately for reading and supporting them.)

If arguably, comics are to reflect how we are as a society, then we all must be ashamed of ourselves for what people are in comics are: the impossible. I’m also not talking about super powers and crazy nonsensical time-traveling plot points.

Disasters of examples

As I have mentioned (and probably could go on about it for decades, I’m sure), is the impracticality of Emma Frost. As you may already know, I am a huge fan of the X-Men and X-related comics. I read everything available from them. In one of the most recent X-Comics (X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1), Emma Frost is in a beauty salon getting herself all prettied-up when Mandrill shows up and tries to seduce women to go out with him.

Emma steps in and states that women are not to be seen just for sex and gives Mandrill a run for his money. The whole irony is that Frost is at a salon – starting off in the story naked – no doubt. Obviously there is a huge contrast to Frost’s hypocrisy in the story, but it is not focused on.

Taking a look at Emma Frost above in the cover of Uncanny X-Men #532 (to be released in a few months). Now, I’ll take a look into Emma Frost inside The Marvel Comics Encyclopedia (2006, pg. 104). Emma’s height is 5’10”, and her weight at 125 lbs. To quote Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar, “Yeah. In your bra.” Admittedly, those “facts” from the book are ludicrous.

Cable Deadpool

Let’s take a look at Cable now. He’s probably a fan-favourite for most X-fans – heck – most comic fans love Cable. He’s just so awesome. Look at him! I mean, he’s not going to take crap from anyone! He’ll kick anyones butt! Alas, he’s also an impossible person. With all that gear on him, plus his physique, he has no problem running or walking, nor do I ever recall him getting exhausted from running with that gear on in the comics. Deadpool on the other hand has more definition to his body than a dictionary – where his body may be proportionate to his size, his muscles are only too-extreme for his physique and only weighing 210 lbs at a height of 6’2″ (2006, pg. 76).

I’m sure no one is going to turn to their significant other and say, “Look more like Emma Frost,” or “Beef up like Cable,” but these people are meant to be icons in a world where their stories are a vehicle for commentaries on the world. These characters are meant to be voices to the masses – whether it be to tell the story or to represent a message or value. Yet they are dwindled down to eye-candy or impracticality – arguably taking away any message the comics have. (And case-in-point with X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1).

But EVERYONE? Really?

Some comic characters are just fine with who they are. I mean, take a look at Dardevil below. He is in great shape for what he does, and it is not really exaggerated unless the artist wants to explode him with huge muscles. But traditionally, below is how everyone pictures Daredevil. Then there is Forge. He has never been considered a physically strong man and works primarily within sciences. As such, he has never been overly muscled for a male character.

ForgeDD

We can physically see a difference between the realistic views and the ridiculous ones. What I am trying to get at is that we as a society can recognize sex in ads and condemn them for being too racy. We like comics to be our voice over many issues, yet a lot of us sit back and get bombarded by hyper-sexualized characters within comic books and still may argue that it is fine.

It’s in real-life

For another case-in-point, let’s take another look at that cover with Emma Frost on it, followed by this ad from Jean Paul Gaultier apparently selling perfume. Is there really much difference between the two?

jpad      Frost

It is pretty crazy. Yet we’ll be the first to condemn that ad before we even think twice about the comic book, for the most part. And that’s just the comic cover.

But women aren’t the only gender sexualized in comics. (Given there’s only one other gender, I’ll leave it to you to guess who else is sexualized.)

ckad       Cap

And Captain America’s is someone to look up to. He is a hero by definition. Looking at the Calvin Klein ad, a “MAN” is defined as a parallel to how the model looks in the ad. The image is uncanny to Captain America, or even Superman.

Even as the years have progressed, what a “man” should look like has became more and more over-the-top. Let’s take a look at Michael Keaton in Batman from Tim Burton’s 1989 movie and compare it to Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan’s 2008 epic. (You can click the pictures for a closer look on both.)

keaton      Bale

Note how Keaton on the left is less-defined than Bale on the right. The muscle mass between the two costumes are both ridiculous, yet the Bale costume becomes more-than-necessary.

Nipples

And sure, perhaps you do not recognize the subtle differences between the characters. Perhaps you do not care whether or not you can see George Clooney’s Batman nipples. Maybe you even think that I am over-exaggerating this too much.

All I see is a problem though. People love being superheroes or villains. People look up to Spider-Man and Wonder Woman as icons who will save the day. And yes, readers of comics look at stories not solely for their comments on real-world events, but also for the entertainment. I’m sure the characters are drawn the way they are because it also sells. Sex sells, so comics can too.

But do they have to?

Unfortunate conclusions

Golgotha

I mean, we can have great stories without hyper-sexualized characters. I doubt X-Men would have a lesser fan-base if Emma Frost wore a parka for the entire run. Oh wait, she tried in X-Men #166 from 2005, and it totally defeats what I just suggested. She’s saying, “Chilly, isn’t it?” (It took me a long time to remember which issue this was in).

Do we need comics to be like this? No. Do we want comics like this? Some of us do, probably, yes.

But ultimately what do these characters serve the way they are? A hypocrisy in our thinking? Is it sexual deviancy? Is it a degradation of our society? Does it objectify people? Does sexuality make the characters more prominent? Does it matter what the superheroes are wearing?

Maybe all of the above or none of the above.

The fact is that it is still there. Where the world in comics is a parallel to our own real world, perhaps their physical perfection is simply a mimicry of our fallacies as a society.

Maybe their falseness is a contrast to our reality?

I also know I’m not alone in these feelings. Two blogs I read regularly will often times bring up the idiocy of comics when it comes to the portrayal of body image.

Check out 1979 Semi-Finalist and ComicBookGrrl on their takes on how comics are depicting of people.

Also, don’t forget to sound-off below.

Until then, have some more food for thought and keep an eye on your kids for them, okee dokes?

‘Nuff said.