Friday, April 29, 2011

Donald Trump: Comic Book Villain?

I was contemplating writing a serious piece about Donald Trump and his award-winning people skills over on my other blog, Cancerous Zeitgeist, when somebody said he reminds them of a comic book villain. 

That somebody was right.

Which one, though?  He's got Dr. Doom's ego.  Red Skull's features.  Granny Goodness' hair. (Well, not really, but when is the last time you thought of her?)  But he doesn't fit those molds.  If anything, he comes across as someone you would see going after Richie Rich's money, not because he needed it, but because he wanted to crush Rich. 

When Trump isn't busy doing fake firings on his "reality" show or making birthers feel less insane, he's a capitalist through and through.  He is, for all intents and purposes, the Ugly American.

He marries young, "beautiful" (by average standards) foreign women, he takes credit for work he doesn't do, he tries to dictate to other countries how they should run their affairs, he is afraid of black people, he loves money, and is totally blind to his own faults.  Ugly American cares not for what other people think or feel.  All that matters is the numbers in his bank account, his name, and the ruby red lips wrapped around his ... well, you know.  He produces Mini Me versions of his badness to continue Ugly American's reign once he is defeated by the ultimate hero -- Death.  (I always prayed/hope/fantasized about Ugly American's demise coming at the end of a partially chewed hot dog lodged in his throat.  Eyes bulging, he reaches for his Blackberry, but has no idea how to use it because his minions do all his dialing for him.)

By all definitions, Ugly American makes the Kingpin look rational.  Seriously.

I may still do my other piece on Ugly American because I realize a comic book blog has a very limited readership.  When it comes down to it, though, Ugly American (Trump, for those not keeping track) is a comic book character of the worst, must stereotypical sort.  He's missing that handlebar moustache to twirl, but the hair on his head more than makes up for it. 

How long until we see the Marvel crossover event?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Speculating Hordes

If you've been into comics for a while, you've dealt with speculators.  Speculators are those people who may or may not be collectors (the ones who are collectors make out better in the long run) who buy comic books with the sole goal of making money off them.  You typically see the ones who don't collect coming in to comic book stores after an article on a major comic event (the death of Robin, for instance) appears in the newspaper or on CNN.  The speculators who collect comics know this is rarely where the long term money lies, and buy those highlighted issues for very short term gains.  There's not a lot of difference between the two, but there is enough for me to say that education of the field you are speculating in makes a world of difference.

I've witnessed speculators going nuts on three separate occasions.  The death of Robin, the death of Superman, and the first issue of Spider-Man by that baseball collecting moron.  I was in Pennsylvania for the first two, and New Jersey for the final one.  In every cases people acted the same -- horde mentality, greed and a robust knowledge that the books they held in their hands was going to make them rich.  Anyone who has paid attention to the price of those comic books knows that never happened.

The death of Robin got a lot of coverage.  The idea, for those who don't know, was a bad one.  Comic readers could call a special phone number and vote whether or not they wanted to see Robin die.  It was a gimmick, and it took the storyline out of the hands of the writers for the most part, but it gained a lot of media attention.  Most of this attention was incorrect, and because of that people thought the original Robin was the one who was passing away.  As I heard one speculator say, "Burt Ward must be really unhappy about this."  The speculators I saw hording these issues (one guy buying the last five on the shelf) were all doing it to "hold onto" and sell twenty years down the line so they could retire.  Well, Robin came back, and none of those guys retired off those issues.

The death of Superman was equally insane.  Honestly, it was even worse than the death of Robin.  Only speculators who had no knowledge of comic books thought he was going to stay dead, but far too many people picked up multiple issues.  The news covered it.  Your grandmother knew about it.  It was huge.  It was also a publicity stunt, and DC published tons of issues, speculating on the speculators.  It paid off for DC and left speculators with a comic that is, at best, a footnote.

Spider-Man didn't get as much coverage, but collectors knew it was coming.  While in a shop in New Jersey, I witnessed the crowds eagerly anticipating the opening of the boxes.  (I believe it was 1,000,000 Comics, but I can't be sure.)  The store owner asked my friend and I if we wanted to join the masses to ensure we got ours, which were be limited to three per customer.  We declined.

The box was cut open and people immediately began clamoring for it.  The price being paid per issue out of the box?  $20.  Unheard of at the time for a new book.  This was not even for the variant covers.  $20 for a standard issue.  Unbelievable.  That said, some people made some very good money off the variants in the short and long term, and that shows the difference between speculators who know the industry and those who don't.  Those who understand it know what will make them money and when to sell, those who don't are living off dreams.  There's nothing wrong with that, really, unless you are playing a sucker, and that's what I witnessed far too many times.

Do I speculate?  Rarely, but I do engage in that on occasion.  For the most part I buy what I enjoy reading and hope that someday it will be worth money.  So far so good, but then again I wasn't buying forty copies of the death of Robin.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: If you click on one of my affiliate links (or any link), I could earn a small commission.  It should be noted that this will be the final column, too, as covered by CNN's own Clark Howard.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Mighty Bored

"I don't like him.  He has hair like a girl."  That's my daughter's take on Thor.  I don't like him, either, but for totally different reasons.  The chief reason being, The Mighty Thor always bored me.  The character works fine as part of an assembly of heroes, but solo?  I'd much rather dig into my Alf back issues.

Marvel tried.  Much like it tried with the Silver Surfer, another character who annoys me.  Marvel tried to make Thor seem god-like and otherworldly through the use to stilted dialogue (verily).  The powers that be gave him a striking costume and good origin.  His supporting characters were interesting.  His lot in life led to stories that could almost write themselves.  At the end of the day, however, he was still Thor, and he still bored me. 

Superman.  A character who, if taken at face value, is pretty damn tough to beat.  Because of that, writers were constantly having to come up with ways to beat him that didn't seem contrived.  They didn't often succeed.  Thor faces the same problem.  While not nearly as undefeatable as Superman, he's still a freakin' god.  Sometimes his rogues gallery represents that (Loki, for instance).  Other times ... not so much (Cobra and Mister Hyde come to mind -- Daredevil villains).  That actually wouldn't be the downfall it is if Thor were just more interesting.  Even the Ultimate Avengers version leaves much to be desired.

The upcoming movie, which looks about as exciting as the comics, will not be causing me to give the character another shot.  I actually have no plans of seeing the film, though I'm sure if Loki somehow tricked me into it I would not be disappointed because I would have such low expectations going in.  This, it should be said, is not the fault of the character, but with the writers who have tried to breathe life into him.

I haven't read every writers' run on Goldilocks, but I have kept my eye on the reviews.  There have been writers who have been giving good critiques (J. Michael whatshisface is one), but not even the reviews of the series they did have sparked my interest.  The stories sound stale and almost as if they try to hard.  Honestly, this really is a character who should be able to stand on his own.  I don't understand what the problem is with him where writers seem cursed to make him as pedestrian as possible.

I know fans of the Thunder God will be upset at me, but it's not my fault.  I'm actually saying he has the potential to be a good character.  No writer has made him that appealing yet, though.  Maybe some day, but I'm not holding my breath.  Instead, I'll be thankful my daughter has no desire to see the film.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: If thoust clicketh on a linketh, I may maketh some cash.  Verily!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Planet of the Apes Fans Rejoice!

Boom! Studios has published a five page preview of its new Planet of the Apes series due out 4/27/11.  As if the comic book wasn't enough, Exhumed Films is running a marathon showing of the five Planet of the Apes films 7/31/11.

I'm not the biggest Apes fan.  The "re-imaging" was not a highlight of cinema, and I'm not sure I understand the sudden resurgence in the franchise, but I will admit that the concept always seemed right for a comic book.  DC knew apes sold comics, which is why there is a period of time where almost every DC comic had an ape on the cover.  Boom! Studios, which houses a lot of licensed products, is onto something here, as is Exhumed (which makes me regret leaving the East Coast). 

If you're an Apes fan I'd love to know what you think about all this, and I want to hear why it appeals to you.  If you don't read comics, will you be reading this series?  I have no affiliation with it, but I think any book that can bring more readers to the fold is a good thing.