Shazam! Shazam! Shazam!…movie

It’s been a long time coming, but they’re finally going through with the Captain Marvel…I mean…Shazam, movie. I don’t remember the last time I was so excited about a DC movie.

There’ve been rumors running around for a long time about a Captain Marvel (it’s hard for me to call him Shazam. It doesn’t feel right) movie. I’ve been let down before, but when Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), confirmed that he was going to play Black Adam, I knew that my prayers to the Geek Gods had been answered. Those virgin sacrifices upon an altar made of comic books and old issues of Dungeon Magazine worked.

I’m not going to talk about the history of Captain Marvel or anything like that (this link is a great start). I’m going to talk about why I love The Big Red Cheese.

An interesting redesign

Me and Captain Marvel (Not Shazam, godammit!)

One of my oldest memories is waking up early to watch the Shazam! tv show. I didn’t really understand it, but i remember having to watch it every week. I don’t think I was even three years old.

Growing up, my great-uncle Irving used to bring me comic books. Huge packages of random comic books. Mostly he’d bring me Marvel, but sometimes DC. This exposed me to a wide rang of heroes, but I never got one of that weird guy with the white cape and lightning bolt. I used to buy comics at the local Lamstons (a NYC chain similar to Woolworth’s) and they had a small variety of books. I mostly picked up Spidey and Captain America. It wasn’t until I discovered real comic books shops where I saw The Power of Shazam!

Captain Marvel and Superman

Captain Marvel stories are like Superman stories, but goofy and fun. They’re not afraid to be for kids. It’s pure childhood wish fulfillment: an orphan child that becomes a superhero through his own heroism, and then spreads his power to others. He builds a family that he never had. I didn’t realize it until I started writing this article, but I did the same thing with Song of Simon. In Watchmage, you could analyze Nathaniel as the wizard Shazam that gives power to others (Hendricks). It’s proof that the experiences of your past (even things you barely remember) color your writing.

My favorite Captain Marvel appearances come much later, as a member of the JSA and Marvel universe in general. He’s the moral compass that keeps other heroes from sinking too far. He believes in redemption and fair play. He’s as powerful as Superman. I think that he’s more powerful, with the combined might of several gods and the wisdom of Solomon, but they usually have the two fight to a draw (don’t even get me started on the DC Injustice bullshit). The JLA Unlimited episode “Clash” is a good example of the differences between the two (including Marvel wanting to stop fighting around all the bystanders, and Supes not caring.

I especially his interplay with some of the younger women in the JSA, like Stargirl. It shows his duality, a teenage boy in a grown man’s body. At one point the JSA had an intervention to ward off his interest in her. He chose to leave Stargirl and the JSA rather than reveal his secret, as the wisdom of Solomon advised against it. Sometimes wisdom hurts.

I haven’t read any of the new Captain Marvel, but from what I’ve heard, I don’t know if I like it. They made him less of the moral hero and a little bit shady. That takes away from what appeals to me about him. He stands out because he’s unadulterated goodness. He’s the hero that others should aspire to be like, even Superman.

You know why I like Captain Marvel? This:

We’re done here *drops mic*

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

The Mask: Comics and Secret Identities Part 2

Welcome back. This is a continuation of a previous post. I suggest that you read the first part before this one, just so you know where I’m going with it.

Superman and Clark Kent as an Anomaly

Superman poses an interesting contrast to the traditional mask in that he doesn’t wear one. It’s a constant joke among fans that no one recognizes him. I mean, how can anyone be that stupid? I’ll explain below, but first I want to talk about what makes Superman unique.

Both Clark Kent and Superman can be called his “true persona.” He was raised Clark, and until his powers manifested, he was an ordinary boy and unaware of his lineage. This parallels the classic stories of Hercules, Moses, Harry Potter, Jesus, etc. But when he comes into his power, Superman leaves Clark Kent behind. He still carries much of his personality and morality, but they are not the same. He smashed that shell like the many buildings he’ll smash in the future. When you can look at the Earth from a dozen miles up, you never look at it the same way again.

I want to find who said this, but the writer is wearing a mask.

But Supes wants to be Clark Kent again. He doesn’t have to lead a human life, but he chooses to. The “new” Clark Kent is Supes fantasy of what his life would’ve been like if he was a human, not a Kryptonian. In the movie Kill Bill, Bill claims that Clark is an example of how Supes see humans: weak, bumbling, and awkward. I say that it’s a mask, but the one Supes wears to experience some of his old life. Through his upbringing, he is neither human or Kryptonian, but a little of both.

I wish they focused more on this in the recent movie, or at least the next one.

As for nobody recognizing him, it’s because people don’t see the man, they see the mask (or uniform). Last year, Jimmy Fallon did a bit where he had Mets pitcher Matt Harvey ask people questions about what they thought of Matt Harvey. No one recognized him out of his uniform, and hilarity (sorta) ensued.

People didn’t recognize Harvey–even though he was the hottest thing in New York–because he was out of uniform. It makes perfect sense to me that they wouldn’t associate Clark with a red and blue blur (Smallville reference).

Masks and Identity in The Watchmage of Old New York

watchmage small

In my serial (and forthcoming novels) The Watchmage of Old New York, masks and disguises play an important part of the setting. The Dwellers–mythical creatures drawn into our world through people’s dreams and beliefs–all wear magical disguises in order to survive in the city. They know the cruelty of humans, and they understand the danger if they were discovered.

When I devised that, I drew on a few scenes from Maus, where the jewish mice wear (polish) pig masks to move around the ghetto. Maus always had a strong effect on me. Most of my family immigrated before the Holocuast, but still.

If you haven’t read Maus, start.

I know that in real history, some Jews were able to hide their ethnicity, and even do it in America. Here, Jewishness (and all ethnicities) is in danger of being assimilated by the larger culture. They’re–if you will–being thrown into the melting pot. It’s tragic to immigrate and save your life, only to lose your identity.

The Watchmage has to hide his identity as well. At the time the serial begins, he’s already 150 years old, and has lived several lives. Each time he has to build a new identity, but he doesn’t have the luxury of leaving and starting again elsewhere. He will spend all of eternity taking new identities, living many lives that are never his.

Everybody Wears a Mask: It’s Called The Internet

I’m not the first person to point this out, but we all wear masks. You are not the same person at work as you are at the bar. You’re not the same around children as you are around the elderly. That’s normal. A person is not a piece of paper. A person is a gem with a thousand facets, and each facet shines with its own light. People are way too quick to judge another as “fake” when they see a facet they’ve never seen before.

If we were to approach the world as a simple paper, it would surely tear us apart. The masks that we wear protect us from the world. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the world is not a pleasant place.

I’m wearing a mask right now. So are you. You’re reading this through an interface, where you can use any avatar you want and reply as any persona you want to be. Hell, you can be Batman for all I know. We live in a world of masks now: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, they’re all masks that let you deal with the world around you.

Don’t be sad. Don’t be ashamed. When Spiderman or Batman dons the mask, they become something greater than what they were. There’s no reason why you can’t too.

Excelsior.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist).

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and What DC Doesn’t Understand

Comic-Con season is the geekiest time of the year. Every day there’s a new thing to go nuts over. This time it’s Wonder Woman’s costume in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (the worst name ever).

I like it, and Gal Gadot looks great in it (what doesn’t she look great in?). I picture Wonder Woman as more muscular, but it’s not my movie, I’m not the casting director. Gadot brings star power, if a lack of acting chops (the awful Fast and the Furious Series doesn’t count) and star power brings in the Muggles who wouldn’t normally see a comic book movie. Gal Gadot is a model, not an actress, and that concerns me with how they’re going to write and direct Wonder Woman.

Dark WW is dark

Dark WW is dark

Notice that her costume has muted colors, similar to Superman and Batman in the previous movies. Does this mean that Batman v. Superman is going to be as dark and morally ambiguous as its predecessors? Probably, and that’s the problem. It’s like Snyder played DC: Injustice and suddenly thinks he understands what’s going on.

DC keeps going for these dark movies, and that’s not true to the characters. Yes, it worked for Batman (to an extent), but that’s because Batman is meant to be dark. Most comic heroes aren’t. Superman is not dark. He’s the paragon of all that’s good in the world (next to Captain Marvel). On an aside, I always thought it poetic that an alien is the best example for humanity.

This is not 300, and this is not Watchmen. Snyder does not understand the characters that he is trying to portray.

The Trollvengers

I love Wonder Woman. Not in a pervy fanboy kind of way, but as a character. She is one of the most complex characters in fiction, a blend of divine warrior, compassionate human, uncomfortable diplomat, and lonely, stoic outsider. She is impossible to portray correctly as a supporting character in this movie. I doubt that anyone could even get her right in her own movie, which is a shame, because someone should try.

I suggest that Snyder look to the old Justice League cartoon from the early 2000s. They had a firm grasp on the characters, mostly because it was actual comic book writers doing it. Dark movies do not equate to good movies. You only have to look at what Marvel is doing right to see what DC is doing wrong.

Like my blog? Check out my debut novel Song of Simon, from Damnation Books, or check out my free, completed webserial, The Watchmage of Old New York. Or just come back here again. I’m pretty damn awesome.