2015-02-13-quality-assurance

Quality Assurance

2015-02-13-quality-assurance

NEWS:
My new podcast Potter & Daughter is live now! You can download the first episode here or subscribe via RSS or iTunesFancy Patreon Patrons get each episode a week early!

It’s freaking cold! Use code 10offhoodies to get $10 off any and all hoodies in the HE store! Use it as many times as you like.

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Some of my daughter’s favorite songs are from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer musical episode, “Once More With Feeling.” She listens to them and sings them constantly, but she’s never seen a single episode of Buffy. She likely won’t for many years to come. I’m thinking 11-12 at the earliest before Buffy-level violence and sex and goofy facial prothesis are appropriate. True story, for those of your familiar with the songs: My wife just recently had to explain, “His penis got diseases from the Chumash Tribe!”

I wonder what she’ll think when she finally sees that episode. It’s damn near at the end of the series, so she’ll have 5ish+ seasons to get through before she gets to the familiar thing she remembers from her earlier childhood. I wonder if she’ll still care by then, or if my opinion on pop culture will still hold any sway.

COMMENTERS: Is there anything you loved as a kid, or your kids loved totally out of context that would have been crazy innapropes had you known the context?

I’m sure a ton of pop songs fall into this category. Jokes too. I would repeat pretty much any joke I heard on An Evening At The Improv or SNL when I was like 10 years old. Looking back, I’m sure 98% of them were about sex, drugs, airplane peanuts and the deal with them (What is it? What IS the deal?).

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Comedy And TrageD’oh!

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Do me a favor, if you enjoy this comic, please check out my store, my shirts on Sharksplode, and my wife’s geeky jewelry on Etsy. It would help us out a great deal.

DENVER FANCY BASTARDS:
I will be at Denver Comic Con THIS WEEKEND with Cyanide & Happiness June 13-15, 2014 at booth 734!

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It’s always been hard for me to equate the things I make and the things my friends make with the “REAL” things (books, movie, TV) that I consume. For the longest time I suffered from this ridiculous mental block where I thought characters and stories created by my friends (or by ANY webcomic artist) just weren’t as real as the characters on TV or in movies. Something about the fact that I KNEW these people and KNEW what went into the making of a webcomic removed the mystique and delegitimized their art to me. I also thought I was protected from this delegitimizing effect because I wasn’t TRYING to tell a real story. I was only making observational pop culture jokes, and webcomics were the perfect place to do just that.

In retrospect, I’m not sure how I was so dumb about this whole thing for so long. Perhaps it was fear of failing at telling a decent story with an online comic that got me into thinking it wasn’t a valid medium for that kind of creative endeavor.  Whatever the reason, I was wrong. Dumb and wrong. Just a big ol’ wrong, dumb wrong-guy.

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Agents Of Staying Hopeful In Event of Lackluster Developments

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PORTA JOHN SMITH” SHIRTS ARE UP AT SHARKSPLODE!!!

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The big giant mega blowout HE Store sale is over, and we are putting the final touches on the new HE store which will soon live HERE.

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spoilers to follow!!!
I don’t think I liked the pilot of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
There, I said it. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thing I actually did like about it was Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson (which was sort of a given). But wasn’t the whole show supposed to be a given? Wasn’t this a geek no-brainer? Like, no matter what: Whedon(s) + Coulson + super hero stuff + spy stuff + Marvel universe = A thing that all geeks will love until the coming of Galactus? I don’t know. It just didn’t hit for me in any of the areas I expected it to, or hoped it would.

Characters: Coulson – Great. Just great. I love Clark Gregg as Coulson and I want to see more of him all the time. Also, he’s probably still all or mostly dead.
Ward: Pretty guy. Delivers lines about being a by the book bad ass, but doesn’t seem to believe them. I hope he gets better.
Fitz/Simmons: Whedon demands a Willow. Willow was great and got greater. Topher (Dollhouse) was a better Willow than Willow. Fitz/Simmons are a lesser Topher, further divided by being incased inside of two different people who serve the function of one character. Not sure about these two. I will either love them by mid season or pray for their deaths.
Skye: Whedon has cast another Dushku. This does not bode well.
Dr. Shepard Book: Hey! It’s Shepard Book! As a doctor!

Story: What is even going on here? S.H.I.E.L.D. was this massive organization with a Hellicarrier and tons of foot soldiers and Quinjets and all these resources and now it seems to be a small government agency run out of a small government building and a large airplane that spends most of it’s time on the ground being an office. I don’t remember them establishing that Coulson was putting together a special unit or a tiny team that would carry out certain missions of importance. It seems like he’s just randomly recruiting new people to… keep doing what S.H.I.E.L.D. already does (police the activities of super heroes booth good and evil/protect regular dummies from knowing so much that they can’t get through their regular dummy lives). I needed a mission imperative or an event that creating a new team would be a response to. They hinted that The Battle Of New York (The Avengers) was an escalation point, but I didn’t see it as the impetus for “Getting Super Serious” and gathering new talent. Maybe I missed something.

Things are further complicated/confused by the fact that Skye reveals herself to be the villain/organization/terror threat they are fighting/seeking out in the beginning of the episode, The Rising Tide. Then they sort of ignore this and recruit her for S.H.I.E.L.D. for her l33t hax0ring skillz. This is where my comprehension of the story totally jumps ship. She already KNOWS what S.H.I.E.L.D. is and isn’t her whole purpose to BRING THEM DOWN?! To prevent them from keeping people from knowing the truth about super heroes? Doesn’t she make this abundantly clear? Don’t they catch her in the act of doing this? Coulson doesn’t say, “Work for us or go to that prison hole from Batman 3 for the rest of your life.” He just ignores everything and invites her to sign up for fun times in a flying car.

Then the whole, “They used everything we know from The Avengers and Iron Man 3 (super solider serum, gamma radiation, alient metal, Extremis) mixed together to make a super hero,” plot line just rubbed me the wrong way. Just seemed like a lazy tie in to the movies and an easy way to blow there “How are we going to get more super heroes/villains?” wad for the whole season in the first hour.

Writing: The pilot felt like a script that had too many rewrites and ended up with a lot of incongruous elements. The humorous moments were all Coulson’s and seemed like Whedon did punch up on a script that he didn’t write (though he does have a writing credit).

Acting: Too early to judge. Clark Gregg is great, but you already knew that. Everyone else seems SUPER green. J. August Richards seemed out of his element. Again, like a guy that knew the words he was supposed to say, but didn’t believe them. The more the “Centipede/super serum/Extremis/whatever” takes over, the less believable his performance becomes. Baby Dushku is… baby Dushku. Ward seems like a blank slate. At most I expect he will be inoffensive.

Bottom Line: I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ANY MORE! Maybe I’m too old, or maybe my tastes have changed too much since the last time Whedon had a TV show I really loved. I didn’t care for Iron Man 3, but I loved Iron Man 2 (the one EVERYONE hates), and I wouldn’t loose any sleep if  Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t have a second episode. I found it unfocused and boring. What is wrong with me?

COMMENTERS: What did you think of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D? Mild spoilers are OK.  

PACMAN NECKLACE! WAKA-WAKA-WAKA-WAKA-WAKA…

This is my wife’s birthday week! Celebrate it by buying yourself a present from her Etsy store “Science and Fiction.” Check out her her latest geeky creation, a Pacman inspired necklace!

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Comments (63)

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Kschenke's avatar

Kschenke · 90 weeks ago

I liked the majority of the pilot, but yes it wasn’t necessarily mindblowing. The plot was a little jumbled, but I thought it set up the characters well enough considering we’ve only met two of them before. Plus it’s an action show with three women of various skills in a team of six, so that’s a good thing in my mind. I’ve seen weaker pilots for better shows, so I’m at least up for the next few episodes to see how the momentum builds. Also the “With Great Power” and “Journey into Mystery” references made me happy.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 90 weeks ago

Depends, do you mean “Serenity” or “The Train Job”? I saw “Serenity” first, as Whedon intended, and fell in love immediately. I can’t say how I would have received the show as it aired. I’d say I liked the Dollhouse pilot better than this one.
Good question. Other than Firefly I probably never saw a Whedon show starting with the pilot. Buffy I came in at season 3, and Angel doesnt count because we already knew all the characters.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

Firefly got me with the first episode, but I saw it in college as part of a marathon so it was soon followed by others. Dollhouse felt like excessive scenes of Dushku being sexy but the meat of the episode grabbed me, then I lost interest around episode 5 or so (apparently it got better, but it just felt too muddy). Buffy and Angel were never my thing, I liked some bits but wouldn’t tune in.
Yeah, pilots are nearly always info dumps. Buffy had a few good gags in the first couple of eps, but took half a season to hit it’s stride and didn’t iron out character inconsistencies until s3 (and then started making new ones after that). i thought SHELD ep 2 was an improvement (albeit with the pretty darn unoriginal `team bonds’ plot) so/but i’m willing to wait & see
Gregory Lynn's avatar

Gregory Lynn · 90 weeks ago

I loved it.

Also, Willow is the Willowest Willow, so while Topher is awesome and all, he’s not a better Willow, because Willow.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

What about Fred. She’s a pretty great Willow. Considering she eventually becomes an Old God, she might be the best Willow.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 90 weeks ago

Ugh, I have to agree. The pilot was painful. At one point I turned to my wife, both of us fairly quiet through the first 20 minutes and said “Boy… they’re really trying WAY too hard aren’t they?”

This Sky character… I absolutely cannot get behind. During the interrogation scene Wife says “Oh no… she’s going to be a regular isn’t she?”

If I have to hear one more time “I did XYZ with a laptop” I’m going to scream.

The only characters that don’t seem like cardboard cut outs are Coulson and Mel. The rest? Throwaways at best, annoying as hell at worst.

I would like to second the question “What happened to the organization that has the resources we saw in the Avengers?” I get that you can’t show that on TV, so show me WHY this group is smaller.

Just… Yuck. Here’s hoping it’s all just a bad case of pilotitis.

5 replies · active 90 weeks ago

Dave's avatar

Dave · 90 weeks ago

Elaboration: There was not one moment… NOT ONE… as simple as Jayne kneeling down to look in on poor gut-shot Kaylee. Just a simple moment like that to give a character some personality and depth. Never happened once in SHIELD.
Exactly. The reason they arent in the Helicarrier is because it would cost a hundred million an episode, but have Coulson say “Im creating an special team to blah blah blah and we arent operating out of the Helicarrier because the Avengers are there and they need to think Im dead or this team needs to function as a splinter cell or WHATEVER.” They can still do this, but it needed to be in the pilot. Skye annoys me like Dushku annoys me and that’s because she’s all looks and attitude and no substance.
Oh and regarding Ming-Na, I love her. I really hope they do a lot with her character. She didnt have two lines in the pilot so I actually forgot her when writing my review.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

Are we supposed to know what her character IS from past movies? I get “used to do that crap, doesn’t anymore” but the whole time it felt like there was something I was supposed to know that I’d missed.
Nope – they’ve set her up as someone who’s big in SHIELD but not in the wider universe, just laying the foundations for a big character arc.
Kirby's avatar

Kirby · 90 weeks ago

I really liked it. It didn’t really flow that well together, but it did seem like they were trying to set up lots and lots of plots at once, which led it to be disjointed.

Coulson’s comment about the one agent’s family seems like it’s trying to set him up as some kind of son of a mafia don or something like that.

Who is Skye, really?

Why doesn’t this agent want to do field work?

Hill’s comment about Coulson.

Centipede seems like they’re trying to lay the groundwork for a Mr. Fix/Tinkerer character to serve as an overall villain, with someone trying to learn how Extremis and other things work.

Other than that, I think they’re trying to bring it in as this is the quick in and out team. He did say he was putting together his own team, but I don’t think they really gave a particular reason. Probably kind of a quick and quiet response team.

I think we’ll probably come back to the whole Red Dawn things. In the beginning I think she sees them as this big government conspiracy set to keep people in the dark and maybe starts to see things in a different light as things progress? Maybe it’s a buried lead? I on’t really know.

But I loved it, and I think it might be worth seeing how it progresses.

2 replies · active 89 weeks ago

I agree. Especially if they delve into why Agent Mey was reassigned to a desk
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 89 weeks ago

Yeah, I pretty well freaking loved it too. I thought “This is SO Wheedon.”

“She drew.. I think it’s a poo. With knives sticking out of it.”

Agent Coulson – YES! (set up for more What’s Behind the Curtain He Thinks is Tahiti.)
Cobie Smulders – YES! YES! Love her. Love her. Not wasted on not meeting someone’s mother now.
Ming Na – YES! YES! YES! Wasn’t expecting that one. Set up for her back story.
Fitz & Simmons – YES! YES! AND YES! I just hope they can not talk quite so fast so I can better understand what they’re saying – but YES!

EvilJorge's avatar

EvilJorge · 90 weeks ago

Joel, just accept that you don’t really like anything that doesn’t have an Apple icon on it and move on. It’s fine. We don’t think less of you or anything.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

With regards to television series, that really doesn’t come close to making sense.
thelogos's avatar

thelogos · 90 weeks ago

I didn’t hate it. But, compare it with the first episode of Firefly and how the characters in the latter were fleshed out. It didn’t good job (in fact, I’d say it was crap) of showing why “Rising Tide” was ebil. They made the group out to be like Wikileaks (/political) which is fine by me, screw the patronizing “We to need to keep secrets from you proles” (/political). I give it a “meh and a half”.

3 replies · active 89 weeks ago

Huttj509's avatar

Huttj509 · 90 weeks ago

See, I didn’t get the vibe that Rising Tide was SUPPOSED to be “evil.”

“People need to know what’s going on! I want to know what’s going on! Don’t hide reality from me, I mean us!”

“Hey, come with us, we could use your skills, you get to be on the front lines of what’s going on, cause that’s what you really want, and as a bonus, you get to see some situations where it’s probably better the public DOESN’T know about it, and thus stop spreading secrets willy nilly.”

Yes, SHIELD could probably back off hiding things behind the curtain, but indiscriminate information spewing can do more harm, especially since it gives info not just to the public, but to the actual bad guys.

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

Huttj509's avatar

Huttj509 · 90 weeks ago

To clarify, I don’t think RT’s just Skye. I think she’s a prominent/key piece in their infogathering, but I don’t think she’s supposed to be the entirety.
isn’t `rising tide’ supposed to be a wikileaks/anonymous analogue? They think they’re the good guys themselves, but not everyone (and especially not those in government) agree? Good on em for trying to have some kind of depth to motivations. One thing i love about the MU is the various organisations that variously work with or against each other depending on whatevs.
Candace's avatar

Candace · 90 weeks ago

I was not super-impressed with the S.H.I. E.L.D. pilot, either. I agree that it was derivative and lacked cohesion. Also, I wanted Skye to die so hard within about five minutes after she came on-screen. I’m disappointed she was still alive at the end of the episode and appears to be intended to become a regular character. I’m willing to give it a chance, though, because, Whedon.

I have actually enjoyed all the Iron Man movies, although I did like 3 better than 2.

The pilot got a resounding “eh” from me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the SUPERFANTASTICMEGAAWESOMEBETTERTHANSEXBESTSHOWEVAR! that every blog and magazine was hyping it to be.

I’m still going to give it a chance because even Buffy took a few episodes to get into the groove.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

Season 1 of Buffy is all pretty rough. It’s good that it’s short. Season 2 picks up the pace and quality pretty quick.
the captain's avatar

the captain · 90 weeks ago

How can you ignore Ming-Na Wen? I felt like there was a lot of “meh” in the episode as a whole, but Ming-Na’s bored attitude and hinted-at troubled history (with authority?) is what I want to see more of. Coulson is good at doing more Coulson. I think Skye looks like a combination of Aubrey Plaza and Summer Glau, and gives off a similar air. I hope Book has a lot of tiny cameos and that Ming-Na gets to beat up a lot of people. Actually, I would watch this show just for the latter. I don’t know; there’s something about getting so used to someone’s voice in your childhood that sticks with you.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

I actually did forget about Ming-Na because she had so little to do/say in the first episode. I loved her in SG:U. I really hope they do a lot with her character in this.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

The show got a solid “meh” from me but we’ll see if it finds its groove and if that’s a groove I like. Most of my comments echo stuff above me, but I will say that I liked the “throw every origin story in a blender and see what happens” nature of Scorpion. It feels like what real people would do if they had access to that stuff (which, since it’s the Marvel universe, probably involves throwing a rock and hitting a secret archive).

I didn’t like the “working for some other shadowy organization” thing though, if you have the organization to be a big secret force then just handing everything you’ve got to a doctor to inject into people seems… a bit blase. If one person gets ahold of that stuff I can see them being crazy with it but if it’s doled out it doesn’t work for me. If they make these guys into a black market “we’ll sell anything to anyone who has the money and if they blow their hands off with it it’s not our problem” instead of the currently-implied sinister agenda I’ll like them a lot more.

4 replies · active 90 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

To work on my comment a bit more, Scorpion feels like someone playing with a new toy. Since the doc got it from someone else if it was a “we want you to weaponize this” it feels irresponsible to put all the tech they obtained in one place and not develop them independently.

When I heard about this show I expected a bit of a monster-of-the-week. Investigating a cluster of cases of gamma radiation sickness in one, some Asgardian artifact (not world-ending but “how did it get here and are there more”) turning up in a pawn shop in another episode. Dealing with some new supers who have no idea how it happened (“Have you always been able to teleport?” “I dunno, I never tried before last week.”), that kind of thing. For that kind of approach to things though, Scorpion feels like something to end a season with rather than begin it.

Scorpion? I thought it was called Centipede
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

Blargh, you’re right. I should just start calling it a different bug every time on purpose, I’ll feel less silly when someone points it out.
The Biggest Unanswered Questions from the Agents of SHIELD Pilot
http://io9.com/the-biggest-unanswered-questions-f…

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

Huttj509's avatar

Huttj509 · 90 weeks ago

Why does a superhacker have to steal someone’s driver’s license? She didn’t. She wasn’t expecting to be rebuffed, and when she was, the license was easy.

“Well, I could go hack the DMV to find his address, but that would take 5 minutes, including the walk to the van. Why bother?”

Neil's avatar

Neil · 90 weeks ago

So I take it your forgetting/ignoring Melinda May sums up your opinion of that character.

I’m hoping the problems here are the teething troubles you get in a lot of pilots. As long as it’s better than Enounter At Farpoint there’s always hope.

I pretty much agree with your assessment.

I thought the recycled explodey super powers theme was weak (although I liked the visual of how it was implemented, on his arm). I was really put off by the brainy pair. They just seem super cliched. I didn’t get the plot line with the super hacker woman who lives in a van, either. She’s… against them? But she’s… working for them now? Maybe? Will she betray them? Will she not? Why wouldn’t she? I just… I don’t know?

My husband’s been looking forward to this show for a long time, and set it up to DVR. He came home from work and even though it was late and he was tired (He regularly works 12+ hour shifts and gets up at 5am to get to work on time) he still wanted to watch it instead of saving it for the weekend. He wound up playing Candy Crush and only half paying attention to the show.

A friend of mine pointed out that Whedon pilots are always pretty weak and the shows don’t usually hit their stride for a few episodes which seems incredibly wrong to me. I mean, the pilot is supposed to capture attention. How can you make ti weak? What’s wrong with you as a writer/director/etc if you consistently pump out weak pilots? IDK.

I wasn’t impressed by this show, will check in a few times more, but will probably end up just watching with my husband while actually reading a book or playing computer games.

Which is frustrating. I’m in general a fan of Whedon and am an old school Marvel fan and have liked the recent movies quite a bit. And then this? I wasn’t expecting The Best Show In The History Of Ever, but if the highest note for me is Ron Glass something is wrong. I mean, Ron Glass is great and all, I’m not trying to diss him and his career, but still.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

“He wound up playing Candy Crush and only half paying attention to the show. ”

This is also my wife’s measure of quality.

Did they make the level 7 thing clear? I need to watch it again.
I remember all of that, but “Level 7” just seems like a high level of clearance to me. Not an elite task force.
mist's avatar

mist · 78 weeks ago

I think it “goes to 11”
Tom's avatar

Tom · 90 weeks ago

I’m very surprised by the comments here. My wife and I have been Joss Whedon fans for a long time (since Buffy started, back when we were a lot younger) and were big fans of the Marvel films. We both really liked the pilot and are excited to see where it goes from here. I actually really liked Agent Ward, it made sense to me that Coulson would recuit Skye, and I totally called the method by which Coulson got Skye to trust them enough to at least help them find the “hooded hero.”

In short, we both thought it was solid, and I really don’t understand all of the criticism.

“Mostly I suspect that without someone like Tim Minear, Joss Whedon just doesn’t get much of an edge.”

You might have the answer right there. Very interesting.

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 89 weeks ago

All of the above still holds for me, but today’s episode? THIS is what I wanted. Yay.

2 replies · active 89 weeks ago

Id agree it’s an improvement. Still the writing and characterizations are very flat. Everyone seems to say everything they are thinking.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 89 weeks ago

Yeah. It felt like it was intended to be the premiere episode, they kept restating things from last time.
I literally started jumping up and down in my chair when I saw Shepard Book appear. And Coulson’s first lines had me laughing out loud. I really liked the Pilot, and I can see much greater things happening.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 89 weeks ago

I really enjoyed it. I felt like they had to work hard to establish SHIELD as essentially a global NSA, during a time when the NSA is really looking like the bad guys. Hence the trope reversal with the truth serum. “I know you think we’re the bad guys, and it’s really not unreasonable to think that, so here’s proof that we have nothing to hide about who we are.” I also don’t think they really established Rising Tide as the bad guys, and I don’t think they intended to. Just like SHIELD is “the NSA, if it were run by people you could actually trust”, Rising Tide is “Anonymous, with the hint that it’s being manipulated by people you shouldn’t trust.”
It seems to me that it’s Whedon’s return to a monster-of-the-week ensemble show, and I’m optimistic. Does nobody remember how extremely cheesy season 1 of Buffy was?
Mitt 's avatar

Mitt · 89 weeks ago

Generic Whedon show with predictable Whedon jokes. That schtick was cool and interesting when it was new on Buffy, but that was 20 years ago. Whedon’s act is just stale.
The acting was pretty bad too. That my be because of the bad writing. Ming Na Wen was the only one eve trying.
mist's avatar

mist · 78 weeks ago

Out of the new season I find I’m looking forward to the SHIELD stuff. It’s small enough to be friendly, the Whedon0-esque billion plot subline thing is confusing and will weaken the show, but make for a better story over all. Hoping he keeps away from the Whedon cliches (super girl, super tech expert) and concentrates on the world, the people, the story. I find the tech-twins a bit annoying, and strongly suspect one (or both) of them is going to make the “pull team together” sacrifice to be replaced by a single uber techy. I think they’re supposed to be kind young and hyper but they just come across as immature, and much of their tech stuff can just be “starttrekked” (buzzword and faked props) away. They’re interesting characters but very shallow.

1 reply · active 78 weeks ago

mist's avatar

mist · 78 weeks ago

Just to show I’m not just being a whiny dick – What I’d love to see connected to the SHIELD show is a Fitz&Simmons offical website/webinar connected to the show.

A lot of the geeky tech is cool and the pseudo babble works as a plot device, simply because exposition into what makes things tick would kill the story momentum – yet the geeks would love to poor through the designs and inventions and crazy ideas. Stuff that can be done online without disturbing the online flow of the show.

It could even be used as an open-source skunkworks platform for “Whedon-SHIELD” development. Writers could put up “real world” (ie story) devices and situ-reports, (just the tech side) and say “we need Agents to be able to scan in real time and transmit holographically” F&S & team, lets brainstorm some solutions. Then whatever fits the story best could be used on show…and to get your tech buzz without F&S having to sound hollow with pseudo-babble, they have an following coming up with good sounding ideas.

comic-2013-05-15-secret-agent-man.jpg

Secret Agent Man

comic-2013-05-15-secret-agent-man.jpg

[It’s 4:30am. I’ll color this one when I wake up.]

Coulson Lives! Yay! Except that sort of deflates the emotional impetus for the unification of the team in the 3rd act of The Avengers! Boo! I have complex and conflicting emotions about a thing just like one of Joss Whedon’s characters! Yay! Oh no, I’ve been killed tragically, just like one of… You get the idea.

I am, in a word (SPOILERS: The word in question is “very.”) VERY excited about Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD. The full trailer make it look like a more fun version of Fringe. Not that Fringe wasn’t fun. This just looks MORE fun. Perhaps more light hearted. I really hope it manages to bring back that “comedy in the face of tragedy, but also totally solid action and complex story telling” formula that has been missing from TV for so long. I can’t think of a single show that’s melded those attributes without leaning too heavily on one in spite of the others since Firefly, or before that, Buffy. Wait… I’m sensing a pattern here.

As for J.A.R.’s super secret role, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is “basically Luke Cage” without actually being called “Luke Cage.” Seems like something they might do in order to free up licensing for the character and give them more creative freedom with his powers and backstory.

COMMENTERS: So is it just me or are super heroes still overwhelmingly white? I know there are efforts being made to introduce more variety in the hero landscape (the new half-hispanic, half-black Spider-Man comes to mind), and I know I haven’t been a big comic reader since I was 14 (about 17 years ago), but I still don’t see much diversity among the metahumans. Though it seems DC is more diverse than Marvel. That could also be a total misconception on my part, but it SEEMS that way. You tell me.

Comments (49)

Stranger's avatar

Stranger · 107 weeks ago

You can blame latent racism covered up as “being true to the character” in comic circles for that. If they make a NEW minority character, no one reads it because “theyre just trying to be PC”. If they change identities to a legacy character with a minority, all hell breaks loose. There really is no way to win, comic fans just dont seem to want diversity.

13 replies · active 97 weeks ago

Bruden's avatar

Bruden · 107 weeks ago

I’d disagree with that claim. Comic fans do want diversity. The problem is that most of the attempts at diversity are legitimately retconning a character to be black now, which is retconning that all comic fans absolutely hate, or making a blatant clone of an existing character with a new name and also it’s not a white male because “look at us we’re being diverse shower us with praise and publicity for being PC in comics!” PR stunts still haven’t gone the way of the dodo.If you introduce a new character, who isn’t simply “blackverine” but is actually interesting on their own merits, and rather than scream to the assembled press of the world “look at us we made black spider man, we are so into this cultural diversity thing buy our stuff!” you actually just focus on the merits of the character as a character instead of as a black guy, comic fans will be interested.

So far the comic CREATORS haven’t been very interested in making characters that aren’t a white male without holding a giant press party to celebrate how great they must be for having the courage to introduce Captain Mexican American.

While I agree with your statement, I have to say, I really would like to read an issue or two of Blackverine and Captain Mexican American. I am *really* trying to treat this topic with a serious analytical eye, but those names make me helplessly giggle.
But they change character race/ethnicity all the time. For example, there’s Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Bane, the Mandarin, all the characters in the Last Airbender movie, most of the cast of the Dragonball movie, characters in the Prince of Persia movie, the main character in 30 Days of Night, Katniss Everdeen, a certain character in Star Trek, etc.And that’s not even including the whitewashing of characters in media that are based on real people of other races.

Handigoat's avatar

Handigoat · 106 weeks ago

Scotty is black. Deal with it.
Kryss LaBryn's avatar

Kryss LaBryn · 107 weeks ago

Maybe “comic fans” don’t seem to want diversity because no one who would be interested in that is reading because they aren’t diverse. Kind of a vicious cycle.Perhaps they only hear from a vocal minority of readers and the bulk of them are pretty much fine with the idea, but don’t say anything. Like when people kept bitching because 90’s Justice League was funny, so they made it serious again, and then people bitched about that. I remember their replies in the letters pages: “Seriously?? Where the fuck were you people telling us we were doing it right back when we were ‘doing it right’?” (*paraphrased slightly).

I mean, it’s not like they have handled women particularity well in comics, and we’re about 50% of the population.

I suspect it’s similar to how, as a Heathen, I kind of both look forward to (because I have kids) and (mostly) horribly dread the day Disney discovers Norse mythology…

Based on the treatment of Hercules, I expect a buddy romp between Thor and Loki that teaches the value of brotherhood and family.
bix's avatar

bix · 107 weeks ago

Well the slashfic writers would be happy…
Candace's avatar

Candace · 107 weeks ago

Heh. It looks like they might be about to do that in the next Thor movie.
Ohana means family.
Kirby's avatar

Kirby · 106 weeks ago

In the words of Humon’s Sweden: IT WAS A REALLY PRETTY HORSE OKAY?!
PackRatAttack's avatar

PackRatAttack · 107 weeks ago

Plus if he plays Rage, Whedon can have fun with the whole ‘Big – Really a kid in a hero’s body aspect’
I wonder if white men in tights is a superhero thing because many of the iconic characters were created such a long time ago? I don’t really know as I don’t read that many superhero comics (except Hawkguy, it’s great, bro), but Marvel’s Miles Morales and Miss America Chavez don’t exactly have +40 years of history, do they? (Feel free to inform me of their origins, super fans!)Anyhow, I think the most diverse comic I read is Chew. Then again it’s creator-owned Image insanity about food-related…powers (nothing super about some of them), without a cape in sight.

1  · active 107 weeks ago

Candace's avatar

Candace · 107 weeks ago

I think you’re almost certainly right about the time frame issue. Most of the best-known superheroes were created long enough ago that racism was, unfortunately, still very much openly a part of U.S. society. Let’s face it, segregation existed in the U.S. South until the ’60s, and in the early to mid-’60s, the American music industry still had white artists “covering” R & B tunes by black artists. Anybody remember Pat Boone?Slavery in the U.S. may have been abolished after the Civil War, but racism most definitely was not, and still plagues us to some extent today. I think when it comes to comics, though, the current issue is the difficulties inherent in bucking tradition, and the the challenges of individuals to get new ideas through all the comic book equivalent of evil Fox Executive types.

The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 106 weeks ago

Hee hee…”Andrew Whitebread”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7jtpy0lfBU
Ron's avatar

Ron · 107 weeks ago

I’m a 31 year old white male and I still read comics. I actually read the new spiderman. At first it felt like a PR stunt but they managed to make him interesting enough that I actually enjoy his story now. Having a black Nick Fury in ultimates was really weird at first but now that the movies are out it is what everyone expects. I guess all I’m trying to say is that comic fans hate change at first but, if you stick with it and don’t change it back in 6 months (see every comic book death ever except uncle ben) then the fans will adapt and accept.

1  · active 106 weeks ago

 Stephen's avatar

Stephen · 106 weeks ago

To be fair, there aren’t a ton of characters created since the late ’70s who’ve really stuck around in general. If you sit down and make a list of iconic mainstream super characters, heroes and villains both, most of them are guys who were created back in the ’60s or earlier. They’ve been periodically updated and revised and re-imagined, but Spidey is still fighting Doc Ock, Batman is still fighting Joker, etc. Every now and then you have a new character make an impression, but in general the medium is resistant to change. Not really the medium, but, I dunno. The nature of serialized storytelling? Capitalism? Take your pick.Any new writers trying to create now have to cope with that as much as they do larger social issues like racism and sexism.

DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 107 weeks ago

Not only are most superheroes white, most superheroes are male. There’s a great lack of diversity.I think a lot of it stems from simply the fact that the original comic creators were white males. The early female superheroes were created as eye candy and not as full-fledged heroes themselves. (how many times has Wonder Woman needed to be saved?)

Diversity can’t just be added without being hackneyed. TV has already proven that. White guys can’t believably write black guy parts or latina female parts. Has to be natural.

BTW, watching some Avengers cartoons recently. I SO BADLY want an episode (or comic, whatever) that focuses on the superheroes’ girlfriends, complaining about what a jerk he is for leaving all the time to “save the day”. I so want to see or read that.

1  · active 106 weeks ago

Bryce's avatar

Bryce · 106 weeks ago

I think the problem with white guys writing black guy or latina female parts is that they then define the parts as the race and not the person. If somebody tries to write a “white guy” part it comes off as similarly hackneyed. This is actually pretty difficult to pull off well, because when we assign a race to a character we try to write the character to embody that race, which leads to the stereotypes. Of course the counter problem is that if a character *doesn’t* fit the stereotypes it’s criticized.
Chenrezi's avatar

Chenrezi · 107 weeks ago

The only major black superhero I can think of offhand is Jon Stewart as Green Lantern. He had a pretty good run on Justice League as a main character. I was talking with my roommate the other day about how they missed a big chance when they didn’t make HIM the main character for the Green Lantern movie, but of course Hal Jordan is more “classic”…
Grady's avatar

Grady · 107 weeks ago

Sorry, but Jeffrey Bell, the show’s executive producer, said in an interview that the superhero played by J. August Richards isn’t Luke Cage.
Citizen Alan's avatar

Citizen Alan · 107 weeks ago

I’m really disappointed at the great opportunity they missed with Coulson — they should have had him show up in Thor 2! He died in combat against an Asgardian, so is entitled to join the Einerjar in Valhalla. From there, he could have followed Thor around during the plot of Thor 2 (a reversal of the fish-out-of-water story from the first movie) and then been rewarded with resurrection by Odin at the end.
Allen's avatar

Allen · 107 weeks ago

The boyfriend was black. Northstar isn’t.
lou's avatar

lou · 107 weeks ago

I just watchted the trailer, and the hooded jump-out-of-the-building guy looked definitely Luke Cagey
Nevest's avatar

Nevest · 107 weeks ago

As a comic fan from semi-way back, perhaps you are familiar with the concept of a SHIELD Life Model Decoy (LMD)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Model_Decoy
Super proud of you guys for looking at this thing from every angle and posing to really valid arguments. I guess it boils down to the “superhero” is a throwback from a less evolved, less integrated time, comics fans are resistant to change, positive change on the part of the publishers almost ALWAYS comes across as a PR stunt even when it (rarely) isn’t and changes that aren’t well received lead to slow sales which leads straight back to the status quo. Comics are a weird animal.

1  · active 107 weeks ago

lou's avatar

lou · 106 weeks ago

DC has Batwing (Batman Inc.’s operative in the Congo), Static Shock, Mr. Terrific, Katana, half the cast of the current Teen titans, Batwoman (Jewish Redhead Lesbian and possibly Bruce Wayne’s cousin), Steel, Vibe, Cyborg, quite a few Earth-2 characters, Black Bat a.k.a. Cassandra Cain (Batman Inc.’s operative in Hong Kong), Ra’s al-Ghul and Talia, and I’m sure there’s a bunch of non-white humans in the Legion of Superheroes. So they’re no slouches when it comes to diversity.Also, you left out a bunch of X-Men in your list, and the black Nick Fury in the main Marvel Universe is the long lost son of the original Nick Fury. He made his debut after the Fear Itself event, along with his best friend, Phil Coulson.
Damn, it feels good to be a geek!

Wilson R's avatar

Wilson R · 107 weeks ago

Just some of the minorities from the current DC Heroes – Cyborg, Blue Beetle, Vibe, John Stewart, Bunker (Mexican and Gay), Batwing, Katana, Black Lightning (Although I think officially he’s just Lightning Now), Firestorm, the Engineer.I don’t think you can really say either one of the big companies is really any more or less diverse, both have been making efforts.

But more than just ‘race-washing’ a popular character to add diversity, the true success stories come from taking an established B or C list character and making them relevant and interesting. Spending time and effort on promoting minority characters is the far better path. Both Cyborg and Luke Cage are/have become far more popular and prevalent due to the effort of creators to include them in an organic way.

1  · active 107 weeks ago

Bryce's avatar

Bryce · 106 weeks ago

It’s a long shot, but I’d like to see a stab at making him a new superhero that doesn’t feel like a bargain bin rip-off of some other superhero. Difficult since there’s a bajillion old ones.
Valerie's avatar

Valerie · 106 weeks ago

I’m kind of hoping he’s playing Eli Bradley (Patriot) from the Young Avengers
Noah's avatar

Noah · 106 weeks ago

They’ve said that Richards is playing a wholely original character.
Hahaha! I just watched this video about “black cosplay.” Anyone who just read these comments should watch it. It’s enlightening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBa9AlDJDMY
comic-2013-03-18-the-boy-who-cried-happy-ending.jpg

The Boy Who Cried Happy Ending

comic-2013-03-18-the-boy-who-cried-happy-ending.jpg

Mine and Wil’s T-Shirt site, Sharksplode, is involved in the Reddit T-Shirt Exchange this year, and to get these started we’re launching a brand new shirt.

The Reddit “Reddshirt“… shirt! 

sharksplode-t-shirt-redshirt-reddit-high-new

In the last comic, I invented the concept of coffee waffles or “coffles.” Shut up forever if someone has already come up with that before, because I INVENTED IT. IN INVENTED IT WITH MY BRAIN!

My challenge to you is to come up with a real recipe for coffles and share it with the Fancy Bastards in the comments of this comic or on the FB Facebook group.

COMMENTERS: Have you ever created, or been treated to a dish with an unexpected SECRET INGREDIENT? A reader from Seattle sent me a chocolate bar with cayenne pepper. It seemed super wrong, but it was super duper right.

ANOTHER THING: On Joco Cruise Crazy 3, I led a panel called “The Quitting Panel: Keep Calm And Quit Your Job,” where a group of creatives from the worlds of animation, music, programming, cartooning, and game design told stories and answered audience questions about how they quit their day jobs to pursue their passion for a living.

I created a Youtube playlist of the uploaded videos uploaded by Sea Monkey Angela. The whole thing is an hour long and I think we threw out some good information about the realities of “living the dream.” This is a must watch for anyone interested in The Experiment.