For all Marvel’s recent success at the box office with its Cinematic Universe, its small-screen efforts have thus far been a mixed bag. Most people will agree that its first series, Agents of SHIELD (I refuse to put the periods in there), got a lot better once it caught up with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but there’s no doubt that it struggled at first to define itself, lacking both the personality and—more forgivably given its budget—the grandeur of the Marvel films. Their second series, Agent Carter, has improved by leaps and bounds over SHIELD’s debut even as SHIELD itself in its second season has begun to bring much more life and excitement to its proceedings with an expanded and more-colorful cast freed to the bureaucratic doldrums of the series’ beginning. Later this year, Marvel’s television roster will have doubled with the arrival on Netflix of both Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones, with three more series to follow further down the line—and all within the same contiguous universe as the films.
For Star Wars fans, Marvel is the ultimate guinea pig for the Age of Disney. What success Marvel has had at the box office Lucasfilm now seeks to reproduce with both a sequel trilogy and no doubt several standalone films, and with more options for small-screen, lower-budget productions than ever before, it stands to reason that they’re watching Marvel’s television operations with great interest. Here are some things I think they should keep in mind. » Read more..
Recently one of my authors, Carrie Vaughn announced the end of her main series. I call her ‘one of my authors’ because for the past 6 years I could always count on her to have a new book (or two) out each year. For someone who reads as much as I do this is important. Star Wars was winding down and not producing as much in the past and I have to have a book on me all the time. She’s an author that I’ve met and hung out with on several occasions over the years that I adore because she’s so personable and always forthcoming with the fans. For years she has said, “If you ever see the title Kitty Saves the World, that is the last book for my main character. So as an avid reader I’m sure you can all imagine my dismay at seeing her Facebook post a few weeks ago with the image of a new book with that title. One goes through various stages of grief all in an instant when one finds out a favorite series is ending. However, upon further reflection I heartily applaud Vaughn’s decision.
Carrie Vaughn is making a choice to end the story arc for her main character, a werewolf named Kitty. The supernatural world she created, though, is so much bigger than just the one character. So perhaps we will see books featuring other characters. She has already experimented with this and stated there is a big possibility for such books. She is doing what other authors who get bogged down with a certain set of characters should do. She is doing what Star Wars needs to do with this reboot. Another example of an author who knew when to walk away is Charlaine Harris whose books were the inspiration for True Blood. While I sometimes regret not being able to go to the bookstore and pick up the new Sookie Stackhouse book, part of me appreciates knowing there was an end for those characters. One could also look to J.K. Rowling who stopped at seven books for Harry Potter when she easily could’ve started next generation books with new bad wizards for the characters to fight (to be fair she still might do this.) I like having an end to a series. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until Vaughn’s recent announcement. » Read more..
Announced at the recent New York Comic Con, Secret Wars will be Marvel’s big 2015-16 event. Marvel have followed that up in over the last fortnight with a barrage of teasers for even more events for summer 2015. What does it all mean? For right now, two things are obvious: If you are on the inside of Marvel’s continuity and have been following it for a while, this will look like the most ambitious undertaking ever. If you are on the outside, having kicked the habit and stayed off the books in the main, it will look entirely incomprehensible!
So, what’s the problem with it? The problem with Secret Wars 2015 is it will be a line-wide event, now with an array of satellites, which appear to be specific to each group of titles, but also eras too. The problem is nothing gets to avoid it! The Ultimate books? It is going to cover those too! If you buy into the idea for the event, it sounds great, it sounds like something you want to read. If you do not buy into it? Too bad, you’re going to have to if you keep reading the books up to a certain point in 2015. That’s the problem. This is practically polarizing consumer interest into two directions – towards or away from Marvel’s entire line for a year or longer. (Plus, once you are out of touch with Marvel superheroes for that kind of duration, you may not hop back on-board.) » Read more..
As I’ve mentioned, well, repeatedly at this point, I’m unusual among my generation (and certainly among people with Star Wars websites) in that I didn’t really grow up with Star Wars. My first exposure to the original trilogy was the release of the Special Editions, at which point I was already almost 15. I have no memories of the films correlating with my early development, my understanding of narrative, or my appreciation of science fiction and/or fantasy. In fact, I’m still not really into sci-fi and fantasy to the extent that many SW fans are.
No, growing up, my thing was superheroes. My earliest genre memories are of the original Ninja Turtles cartoon in the eighties, which led to Spider-Man and X-Men in the nineties, which led to buying actual comics around 1995, which I’ve been collecting pretty much ever since.
But despite my natural affinity for Marvel properties, the genre throughline from childhood all the way to my college years was the DC Animated Universe. I was ten when the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series debuted in 1992, and I still remember it vividly all these years later—because that episode, spearheaded by visionaries Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, ended up ushering in an expansive new DC continuity that lasted more than a decade in animated form, and technically continues in comics form to this day. From Batman to Superman to Batman Beyond to Justice League (with the occasional Static Shock and Zeta Project thrown in for good measure), Dini, Timm, and others built a shared universe rivaling its comic-book predecessor (and in my opinion, often surpassing it in quality), developing disparate elements—and, crucially, voice actors—from series to series and era to era in a way that imbued each new story with a weight that’s rarely seen in children’s television. The DCAU taught me what expansive, long-form storytelling could do, and I owe my appreciation of continuity in Star Wars to that example. Here are some of its other lessons. » Read more..
When I’m not thinking about Yuuzhan Vong, Sith Lords, or Force philosophy, I’m probably thinking about blood elves. In other words, World of Warcraft. The Warcraft franchise spans three real-time-strategy games, one MMO that is still the definition of the genre, and quite a few spin-off novels and comics. The Warcraftverse is starting to enter the cultural lexicon more and more, and for a game celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, it still has quite the audience.
Warcraft has plenty of things to offer other media, especially since as a franchise it’s rife with pop culture references. It’s an expansive world whose unexplored corners, plot holes, and possibilities for expansion echo those of Star Wars. As something of the definition of its genre and a mishmash of references and ideas, it has much of the worldbuilding feel of Star Wars. There has been much discussion over the last few years about whether Warcraft is a dying franchise, but it certainly doesn’t feel dead to those of us who lose $15 a month and much of our free time to it. No other MMO has been able to knock it off its pedestal, despite quite a bit of effort (even from SWTOR). It’s successfully navigated many years and quite a few different markets, and has much to offer to other massive media franchises. » Read more..