October Horrorshow: Constantine, Rhymes with Tangerine

Back in 1993, DC Comics, under the direction of editor Karen Berger, took six of its mature readers titles and placed them under a new imprint — Vertigo. The Sandman, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol (after a legendary run by writer Grant Morrison), Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man, and Hellblazer (featuring John Constantine, rhymes with clementine) were titles that had grown beyond the core superhero titles of DC’s lineup. Berger had been responsible for much of this, bringing aboard creative talent which would have been wasted penning yet another year-long superhero crossover designed to simplify DC’s bloated continuity, or spending day after day drawing just the right amount of ripples in Superman’s abs. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Constantine, Rhymes with Tangerine”

The Empty Balcony: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the GalaxyI think I may have seen too many movies. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain why I did not like Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios’ 2014 money machine. It hit all the right notes when it comes to action, pacing, and story. It kept things simple, avoiding all pretension, and at no point did it strive to be something greater than it was. But...

I think the movie showed a profound disrespect for its audience. Big action movies aren’t just simple anymore. Rather, they have been simplified, stripped of any sort of nuance or individuality in the pursuit of massive box office receipts. There is nothing inherently wrong in trying to maximize profit. But what it does mean is that, in seeing a movie like this, no viewer can expect anything beyond superficial uniqueness. There are new stories out there. But new stories require an entrepreneurial spirit that Hollywood is currently anathema to. It’s hard to explain how much the studio system has changed in a generation, so I’ll just give this example: Taxi Driver was a Hollywood studio film. That’s right. Taxi Driver. A film featuring a violent psychopath, who develops a crush on an underage hooker, as a protagonist. These days, the talents of that film’s young director, Martin Scorcese, would be steered into projects that are designed from the very beginning to be sanitized versions of past successes. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Guardians of the Galaxy”