Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Day of DH 2014 - Notes from the Gutter

Well it's April 8th here on this fine planet of ours, and that means that it's the Day of Digital Humanities (or "DH" for short). I'm going to keep this short: you can follow my research progress on the other blog I'm running today, "Notes from the Gutter", as I use the Comic Book Markup Language, written by Indiana University's John Walsh, to encode a page of Nelvana Comics. I hope you'll take a minute to check out the work I'm doing, it's pretty cool stuff.


Cover for Adrian Dingle's Nelvana of the Northern Lights

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The Game is Changing

Those of you who read my last blog post may have caught this update from me just after I got myself caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

UPDATE: Marvel wins
I was over the moon when Agents actively tied its events into the opening events of the Winter Soldier movie, but those of you who have seen the film know that it's a gamechanger for S.H.I.E.L.D.. And it should be, as the first fully S.H.I.E.L.D.-focused movie in the Marvel repertoire. I suppose it could be argued that The Avengers fits that criteria, but that film had a very different agenda. Joss Whedon's writing for The Avengers was an exercise in team-building, creating meeting point for an ensemble of headlining characters that had to feature them all equally. And it was beautiful. But The Winter Soldier is a movie very much about one guy dealing with a new life, a new worldview, loyalties, secrets, and red tape; it's a conspiracy movie, not a slugfest. The writers get that, and they nailed it. Not to mention that Kevin Feige straight-up told us it was going to be a "political thriller".

According to the clip below, we only have to wait til Tuesday to see the blowback from the film hit Coulson's team of operatives. I'll be waiting with bated breath.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - First Impressions

Let me say before anything else, I'm not going to drop spoilers in this review, but if you haven't yet read Ed Brubaker's The Winter Soldier story arc in his Captain America run, find yourself a copy, and read it. It is is easily among the best (if not the best) Cap stories I've ever read. A brilliant piece of fiction.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I had the luxury of being able to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier on its release day yesterday, something I don't often get to do. The theatre here was doing a 3:45 matinee, so I left my last English class of the year at 2, took a bus to the brewpub next to the theatre and had a pint, and then caught the show. I have a thing for going to see movies, especially superhero movies, alone, and the only thing better than a quiet pub is a quiet theatre.

There were six other people in the theatre.

It was glorious.

This movie is special for one very particular reason: it is based directly on a story arc written by Brubaker. That gives it a distinct advantage in my eyes. Those of you reading Ed's current spy title Velvet know the special way he has with crime and espionage fiction. Any of his work on Criminal, Gotham Central, or Fatale will further attest to that. He brought that very particular flavour to his writing on Captain America, and it fit the character like a glove. I remember reading, back down the line when this movie was still an announcement without a trailer, that writers were aiming for that flavour in this film, more spy flick than superhero action romp. Don't get me wrong, there was action, and there was romping. But it's not the high-flying gods vs. aliens slugfest we saw in The Avengers. In gamer's terms, it's a very different power level. Its a story about loyalties, information, ideologies, and pieces a global chessboard, and in this way it stays true to the spirit of Brubaker's Cap. 

The action was great, the acting was solid, and the characters were surprising well-developed. Maybe I'll get some flack on that point, but I'm going to stick with it. we saw Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow come out of her shell a little bit in The Avengers, and we see a little more of it here. The introduction of Sam Wilson aka The Falcon is smooth and (dare I say?) reverent. George St. Pierre (yes, GSP himself) kills it as Batroc. And when you put Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson in a room together...you know what, just watch the movie. It kicks ass.
Captain America #9, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
P.S.I'm a couple episodes behind on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I'm looking forward to seeing how they deal with the repercussions of the Winter Soldier events in the show. As you all know, if there's one thing I love about Marvel right now, it's their cohesive universe. So yeah, we'll see. I'm off to re-read Winter Soldier. Cheers!

UPDATE: Marvel wins