Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Why Joss Whedon Is The Right Man For The Avengers

April 19, 2015

Please note:

This article was originally published on April 13th 2012, and subsequently unpublished a few months later for reasons I no longer recall.

With our Age of Ultron prediction podcast about to go up, I remembered this article and thought the timing makes sense to re-publish.

No-one will admit it now of course, but prior to launch of the first Avengers movie, it was widely considered that it was going to be a disappointment, both creatively and financially. That of course proved to be nonsense, just as we had promised.

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The Avengers is arguably one of the most ambitious, risky projects Hollywood has attempted for some time. With a rumoured budget of $270 million it is the culmination of years of planning by the still-fledgling Marvel Studios, which has introduced their universe slowly by introducing the characters in five separate films – that were admittedly of varied quality but on the whole hugely successful both critically and commercially.

This gargantuan task has been placed on the shoulders of a man that the vast majority of cinemagoers are never going to have heard of. When someone asked me a couple of years or so ago who would be the perfect person to helm The Avengers my immediate response was “Joss Whedon – but of course that’s ridiculous.”

An announcement made weeks afterwards had me wetting myself solidly for about a week.

A man with a rabid but tiny fanbase, Whedon is often said to be some sort of nerd deity, but in actuality more geeks appear to hate than love him. And like, properly hate, to a scary and quite weird degree. One look at a geek culture site such as AICN in the period between the announcement that he was both writing and directing and the debut of the first trailer, would have revealed an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the announcement.

Even the guy’s fans can’t give him a break, with sentiments like “While I like Whedon, I just don’t think he can pull this off” proving popular.

Doubting Thomas-es all! Or Thomii? Whatever. Before I move on to why he was the right man for the job, I intend to laugh at the most popular reasons people gave for why he was wrong.

“CAPTAIN AMERICA WILL TALK LIKE A TEENAGE GIRL!” This one came up a lot. The intelligent logic at work here states that since he is known first and foremost for creating and writing a teenage girl, therefore teenage girls are all he can write. Right? It’s sound logic I suppose. If you’re a fucking cucumber.

You know who doesn’t sound like a teenage girl? Rupert Giles. Or Spike. Or Mal Reynolds. Or fucking WOLVERINE.

Damn, we could go on all day here but let’s concentrate on Jayne Cobb for a second, probably the most base masculine character I’ve encountered in anything. A man who never stops talking about (or touching) his penis. A man who has to smell everything he encounters. A spitting, whoring, cattle-slapping sumbitch who is about a million times more manly than the kind of idiot that makes unfounded criticisms of people’s work on the internet.

Hell not even Whedon’s women sound like teenage girls, just look at Zoe Washburn, Jenny Calendar or Adelle DeWitt. Sure, quite a lot of his characters DO sound like teenage girls…which ones specifically? Yeah, that’s right, the teenage girls. And OK, Andrew.

“HE CAN’T DIRECT ACTION!” One of the things people have speculated about is what proportion of the film will be story vs. what proportion will be action – and the theory has been that the film will be overly “talky”. For anyone versed with Whedon’s work, this is a moot point, because everything he does is about story – including action. Of course this isn’t unique to him, but it’s something he does better than most.

It’s not story, story, action scene, story, action scene, etc. It’s all the same thing – they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Important story points, character moments and lines of dialogue will occur during an action scene, while everything from the setting to the villain will also be saying something that adds to the overall story.

It’s also a weird criticism for a man who has made a living out of successful [and unsuccessful] action shows. Between Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse, he’s been responsible for some of genre TV’s most memorable fights, his vampire shows doing so on minuscule budgets.

He may not be able to direct an action scene like Michael Bay can (and I’d argue that point anyway) but at least his action scenes can make you feel something. You know when you watch a spectacular action scene in a blockbuster but can’t seem to give a fuck about what is unfolding? I guarantee that will not happen in The Avengers – which, by the way will be the first time Whedon has been directing action scenes with anything resembling a budget. The Avengers will shit on all three Transformers movies in terms of action alone, as every punch will matter.

“HE’S A TV MAN!” I can only assume that anyone who says this is either a) braindead or b) hasn’t watched a television show in a long, long time. Same goes for the idiots that refer to someone as a “TV Actor”.

I would argue that for at least ten years, TV has been BETTER than movies. And Whedon is one of a select group of people responsible for making it so.

Is Bryan Cranston a TV actor? So you mean that a TV Actor is arguably best actor in the world then? It’s a nonsense statement, it doesn’t mean anything.

“ALL OF HIS CHARACTERS WILL SOUND FAGGY!” This is your astute analysis of Whedon’s ouevre is it? I’m not even going to bother attempting to refute something so banal.

“HE DOESN’T HAVE THE EXPERIENCE WITH SOMETHING THIS BIG!” This is a dumb argument. If you can’t give a major film to someone who has never made one, then there will never be new people making major films.

Peter Jackson directed The Frighteners before stepping up to The Lord of the Rings. That’s a pretty big jump. If you can watch someone’s low budget work and see their talent and potential, it’s not really a risk. Jackson’s talent was evident in Bad Taste, Whedon’s was evident in Welcome to the Hellmouth.

“HE ISN’T CINEMATIC!” OK, this one is popular. Except I get the impression that most of the time, they don’t actually know what cinematic means. They seem to be saying (and this isn’t really what cinematic means anyway) that his stories are small, as in – the space they are in physically.

This is the only criticism that carries any weight, because the simple fact of the matter is that we have no idea how cinematic he is yet (however you define it) – he has never been given opportunity to be. While Serenity might have been a Major Motion Picture, it was based on a TV show, meaning that he had established a visual language that he had to stick to unless he was planning on turning it into something else entirely. Serenity certainly had a bit more depth and detail as well as “wider corridoors to allow for better acting” but it was essentially still Firefly at heart.

Going by what some people mean…kind of “big enough in scope to be worth seeing on a cinema screen” – if the Reaver fleet bursting through the ion cloud and the subsequent battle aren’t “cinematic” then I’m not a Thwipping Boy.

First and foremost, Whedon is a storyteller more than a film director. What he won’t do is impede the story in any way by attempting to do anything unnecessary (JJ’s lens flare was “cinematic”, what did that add to Star Trek?). When the occasional opportunity arises during The Avengers, I expect we will see a few cinematic flourishes from Whedon.

But at the end of the day, “cinematic” is a subjective term. Either you interpret something from a camera angle, the mise-en-scène, or the composition of light and shadow of a scene – or you don’t. It’s hugely personal. What it tends to mean when this is someone’s main criticism of his work is that they don’t have anything more concrete.

Indeed a lack of concrete criticism seems to be the order of the day with Whedon-haters. Either they go full-on insane (“He hates lesbians because Tara died!”) or they simply can’t justify what they’re arguing:

“He’s rubbish!”
“Why?”
“He just is! I don’t know why people rate him so highly!”
“Have you watched any of his stuff?”
“Not really, no. I saw a bit of Buffy, I didn’t like it.”
“Neither did I at first, its charms aren’t immediately obvious.”
“Well it’s rubbish!”
“So what is your criticism precisely?”
“He’s rubbish! I don’t get it!”
“How is it his fault that you’re stupid?”

Now that I have attempted (pretty fucking successfully if you ask me) to shoot down the reasons why he isn’t right for this film, let’s take a look at why he is.

TV HAS MADE HIM DISCIPLINED In terms of the budget and the time you have available, making a big budget movie must be a walk in the park compared to making a TV show. Eight days to shoot a 40 minute show that is to air, edited, scored and with effects, only a few weeks later? And repeat that 22 times, with, at one point, three different acclaimed shows running concurrently? That’s crazy.

His years in TV have made Whedon two things – fast and…thrifty.

A year ago at the time of writing, The Avengers hadn’t shot a single frame. It premiered last night. With a film of this scale, with that amount of post-production, that’s pretty impressive.

As for the budget, he’s always been able to make it look like he’s spent more than he has on something. I very much doubt the budget for The Avengers meant he got out of those habits. What it actually means is that he’s likely to have made $270million look like $770million.

ENSEMBLE CASTS ARE HIS THING Buffy and Angel may have been named after their star characters and the plots may have followed their lives, but the episodes themselves gave pretty much equal focus and time to a large group of distinct, believable characters. Firefly was especially successful, with nine clearly defined characters that seemed to allow for endless pleasurable combinations. If the underrated Dollhouse really lacked anything, it was a proper cohesive ensemble.

One of the strongest aspects of having ensemble casts is the ability to create drama by giving characters with equal status conflicting motivations and getting the audience to sympathise heavily with both sides of the divide. Expect this to come into play heavily in The Avengers – these guys are not going to be in any hurry to get on.

HE’S GOT SOMETHING TO PROVE He’d deny that he has anything to prove. Or admit it but make it into a joke. Either way, it’s got to be true. Whedon is the perennial Hollywood underachiever. He’s created one bona-fide cultural icon, but although everyone knows who Buffy The Vampire Slayer is, only about 12 people actually watched it. He’s had show after show cancelled. He’s had scripts directed appallingly. He disappeared from view for what felt like years to work on a Wonder Woman script only to have Joel Silver get cold feet and scrap it. He’s seemed like the kid on the verge of the big time for ever but finally (the kid is 47 now), between The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers and Oscar-bait Much Ado About Nothing it looks like he’s going to tear tinseltown a new arsehole.

NOBODY KNOWS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE BETTER Whedon has always been clear about the things he’s passionate about. He loves Alien. He loves Stephen Sondheim. And he loves the Marvel Universe. He seems to have read more comics than anyone. He named Buffy after Cyclops and her story is essentially that of Spider-Man. His Astonishing X-Men run is arguably the best those characters have ever been written. (OK, so his Runaways arc was merely passable – fair point).

I bet the guy can write Rogers, Stark, Hulk and Thor as well as anyone ever has. These are cultural icons and getting it wrong would be easy. At the end of the day, Marvel Studios is going to have thought long and hard about who to give this gig to. This is make or break for them, and their characters are paramount to their current and future success. They chose Joss Whedon because he more than anyone else will do right by their flagship team.

HE’S MORE THAN THE RIGHT MAN I’ve heard some ridiculous suggestions for who could have done it better. Michael Bay! Or Louis Letterier, apparently [chortle]. People have even suggested Steven Spielberg. I’ve got as much respect for Steve as the next guy, but I cannot imagine a worse concept that “Steven Spielberg’s The Avengers”. At a push John Favreau or JJ Abrams could have put something decent together I suppose, but it still wouldn’t have been right.

My prediction: I think this film will be better received, and make more money, than The Dark Knight Rises. More even than The Dark Knight. You want to laugh? Do it after the summer.

Of course, I’m two weeks from seeing it as I write this and I could completely be wrong about how this will turn out – except I’m not. Joss Whedon isn’t merely capable of pulling this off. In fact now that I think about it, he’s more even than merely the right man for the job. I genuinely believe he’s the only person that could have made this film the triumph it is going to be.

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So there you have it, we were right about pretty much everything. Though having said at the time he was the only man for the job, I now fear for Infinity War. The Russos can direct the hell out of it, but I still wish Whedon was responsible for the script.

Jon

Babylon 5 – Londo “Shadow Hair” Wallpaper

September 2, 2014

Hey there, Jon here.

I was looking at Simon’s awesome graphic that he came up with for our Babylon 5 Season 2 podcast (just scroll down or click here if you have lazy fingers) and I thought, man, I want that as a desktop wallpaper.

So please help yourselves to a hi-res version if you would like one. He’s even done you a couple of options – with and without the B5 logo!

Londo Shadow Hair with Logo

Londo Shadow Hair no Logo

If you’ve got any comments, email thwippingboys@gmail.com

Jon

Jon

Simon’s Marvel Unlimited Read List… In big pic form!

August 29, 2014

As regular listeners of our humble podcast may be aware, Marvel isn’t exactly my home turf. I’ve read a decent amount of Marvel and adore many of the characters that live in the House of Ideas, but I’d be fooling myself to think that I appreciated it as much as I do DC. I recently landed a new job, with this influx of fresh cash, the relaunch of the podcast and me catching the Marvel bug thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy and The Winter Soldier, I decided to invest in the Marvel Unlimited subscription service.

NOTE: For those that do not know, Marvel Unlimited is a subscription service which gives you access to thousands of comics from Marvel’s back catalogue dated anywhere up to 6 months ago. Want to read Frank Miller’s seminal run on Daredevil? Go for it. How about Lee/Kirby’s historic lengthy run on Fantastic Four? It’s there. You can read on your computer or on a tablet/smartphone. There are, sadly, technical glitches galore and for many comics published prior to mid-2000s the guided view is disastrous. It may put you off, but my advice is try! The app is free to download and there are a couple of free issues available on there.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, so I decided to subscribe and began a journey to read all of the Marvel comics I’ve wanted to read for a long time. You can see in the fun (and large if clicked) image what I’ve read, but I have to say, I’ve been blown away by Jim Starlin’s cosmic work running through the 70s and onwards. I’ve stated before that I don’t get on well with comics from the 70s or 80s, but this could not be more different. Starlin’s work felt fun, fresh, interesting, inventive and succeeded in avoiding so many of the pitfalls that make older comics either stale, dated or laughable… Although, I have to say, what the hell is up with Magus’s afro?!

 

starlin-warlock-magus

 

If I were to pick a piece of standout work of what I’ve read it would either be The Life and Death of Captain Marvel, Thanos Quest (beautifully illustrated books) or Jason Aaron’s opening arcs on Thor: God of Thunder, before it was needlessly derailed by an unfortunate The Dark World tie-in arc (no matter what anyone says, it was a tie-in).

So, here’s my image of my read so far, and if there’s anything you think I should be reading, tweet us @thwippingboys or email us thwippingboys@gmail.com!!

fullsize

Simon’s Birthday Swag Bag! (note: does not include bag)

June 19, 2014

So, today was my birthday, I’ve turned the tender age of 27 and thought I’d show off my haul for the day… Now, admittedly, the PS4 and games are more of a present to myself but hey ho, got to treat yourself on your birthday too!

Birthday Swag!

 

 

Game of Thrones on Blu-RayThose of you who have been listening to our Game of Thrones-cast know that I regularly dazzle Jon with my significantly large gaps in knowledge about storylines, characters and places. To be clear, I LOVE Game of Thrones, probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but it was also something I’ve never gone back and re-watched, always waiting until I had the time buy the blu-ray and watch on a player that didn’t sound like a jet engine (like my PS3 does). Well, that day is here with this lovely box set combining Seasons 1-3! In 9 months time when Game of Thrones returns for Season 5 expect me to layeth the proverbial smacketh down on Jon’s Game of Thrones loving candy ass with a knowledge bomb.

Andre the Giant: Life and LegendWithout meaning to, that last line has provided a perfect transition in to my next present, this one from my other half (in the podcasting sense), Jon. As some may know, both Jon and I are huge fans of wrestling, he’s a lapsed fan and I’m very much still in to it, which is why I was very happy to receive this little number through the post! This is “Andre The Giant – Life and Legend” by Box Brown, a graphical biography of the late Andre The Giant, one of the most popular personalities in and out of the squared circle. I’ve never been one to read the more traditional type of “cartoonist” comic strips with it’s limited dialogue, simple art style and focus on character and humour over the more bombastic nature of superhero comics. I have nothing against the genre, it’s just not been something to match my tastes. Having said that, I am looking forward to digging in to this book, the artwork looks to be steeped in personality and with only 2 pages read, the story has already tugged on my heart strings. Not only that, but dis guy appears, BROTHER.

Andre and Hulk

 

Watch Dogs BundleFinally, I’m a bit of a gamer and would probably talk about them more on the podcast if Jon kept up to date with the happenings… The irony being that Jon was a games journalist for what must have been close to a decade but now only dips his fingers every so often. I recently landed a new job and with it being my birthday as well I decided there was no better time to go “next-gen”. I picked up the Watch_Dogs PS4 bundle which also came with The Wolverine and Man of Steel on blu-ray for free, as well as cheapo copies of Killzone: Shadows Fall and FIFA 14. Onwards and upwards, let the games begin!

Birthday Blu-Rays and GamesTa ta for now!

PS – Cake

 Turtle Cake

URGENT: RIP THWIPPING BOYS – THE END OF AN EPIC JOURNEY

June 6, 2012

It is with deep regret that we call an end to this whacked out crazy journey called the Thwipping Boys Podcast. As our regular listeners, and those we talk to on Twitter, are no doubt aware we have had an awful lot of trouble in the past few weeks when it comes to the podcast, and problems have been building for some time now in the increasing lack of time we are able to devote to the podcast, this is especially true for Chris, who puts in more work than any of us by turning our stupid ramblings in to a high quality show week in, week out. To edit one show takes a monumental amount of effort on his part (coupled with reading and recording, one show takes up days of his week) in the face an increasingly busy schedule and it has become unfeasible for us to continue as we are.

We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to us, and we would especially like to thank all those people who have taken the time to get to know us on Twitter and made the experience all the more amazing.

It really is a sad day, for us especially, as we really loved doing the podcast, and we know some of you out there will just be completely lost with out us! (Talking about you Paul :P) but do not fret, we will still be around in some form. The website will stay up, and may even get updated every so often with new articles etc, and we’ll continue to be on Twitter so that we can still be a part of your lives in some way.

We’d like to leave you with a hint at what the future may have held had the Thwipping Boys continued and the three of us wish you all the best of luck.

G’nite!

WWE EXTREME RULES PREDICTIONS

April 29, 2012

In only a few hours time WWE goes EXTREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEME with its EXTREME RULES pay per view, there will be tables, there will be chairs and there will be an amazing Chicago crowd. So what do I think is going to happen? Let’s get down to it and find out.

 

YOUTUBE PRESHOW

UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP

SANTINO MARELLA vs THE MIZ

I’ve been a big fan of Santino for a while now, outside of the ring he is definitely the funniest superstar on the roster, and inside the ring he is incredibly entertaining, what certainly helps with that is that unlike a lot of other comedy characters, the crowd is behind him in a huge huge way, lets not forget his amazing performance in the Elimination Chamber when considering what he could do. The WWE saw to reward that performance by putting the US Title on him, and it isn’t a move I disagree with, however, there is a real lack of legitimacy to the title due to non-title bouts and generally Santino only feuding with people who wouldn’t be seen to be suitable for the belt (I am looking at you Mr. Otunga) and so WWE need to decide if they want to get behind him in a big way, or pass the title on to someone who can make it mean something.

I’m also a big fan of The Miz, his gimmick needs some fine tuning and revamping, but he has the look and the ring style to be amazing, he is a former US and WWE champion and can undoubtedly bring some relevance back to the title. Sadly The Miz has been in no mans land for 11 months now, doing absolutely nothing of note, even to the point where it was a surprise he found himself on the card for WrestleMania. The guy hasn’t even appeared on TV since then, and now finds himself in the Youtube Exclusive Pre-Show match (much easier when they would be called dark matches.)

The Miz HAS to win this title, if he loses to Santino (as much as I love him) it will destroy all the credibility he has, and with an already packed main event roster (on both shows, should he switch to Smackdown) I cant see any way back, which will be an absolute travesty for someone with his potential.

PREDICTION – THE MIZ

DIVAS TITLE MATCH

NIKKI BELLA vs BETH PHOENIX 

Beth Phoenix is the best WWE diva in 10 years and in my opinion, Nikki and Brie Bella are pretty high up there too (I wonder why), but lets face it, for years now, Divas matches have been considered toilet breaks and the only way I can see this being worth a damn is if Kharma returns or the following happens – Nikki defeats Beth due to interference from Brie, Kharma returns on RAW tomorrow night, completely dominates the twins to the point they are written out (and leave, if the rumours are true) the title is vacated leading to a match between Phoenix and Kharma in a months time.

PREDICTION – NIKKI BELLA

 

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH

THE BIG SHOW vs CODY RHODES

I’ll come straight out and say it, as much as I respect the guy for being able to do what he can at the size he is, I am not a fan of The Big Show, I don’t like how he has become such an out and out good guy and it annoys the hell out of me. On the flip side I am a HUGE fan of Cody Rhodes, I honestly believe he and Ziggler are the stars of the shows, and in 5 years time better be on top of the company. When Rhodes lost the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania I think everyone saw that it was his time to move in to main eventing, but things haven’t QUITE gone the way it was expected, yes, it will take some time to establish him as a star, but since WM I don’t think he has won a single match, and was even beaten clean by The Great Khali on this weeks Smackdown, that kind of booking, combined with the already discussed packed main event roster gets me worried for Cody.

So does Cody need the title? Yes, by beating Big Show tonight, clean (well, as clean as a heel can nowadays) it will help to further establish him as someone who can defeat the legends, it will also bring some more legitimacy to the title (since Big Show has barely mentioned it since winning) and a process of pushing Rhodes to the main event while holding the title would be incredibly beneficial, as he would become more and more established, but not be lost in the mix since he is a champion. I’d even like to see Rhodes become a dual Champion along with the World Heavyweight Championship, and in order to advance his heel status, simply discard the Intercontinental title since he has no use for it. The title means nothing around Big Shows waist (or shoulder in his case), as he will compete against main event talent 90% of the time in non-title matches, and the Intercontinental title is quite simply mid-card level.

Will Cody win? It is a toss up, it is generally believed The Big Show is retiring within the next 18 months, and in his 13 year run with WWE he had won every title he was eligible for with the exception of the Intercontinental title, a piece of the puzzle missing to make him a grand slam champion, so was this why they gave it to him? Maybe. Does this mean that now that it has been accomplished, he will drop the title? I hope so. Cody to win, purely because he needs it more.

PREDICTION – CODY RHODES

RANDY ORTON vs KANE

FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE

Lets face facts, both of these guys are two amazing workers, Kane is someone who has been underutilized for 13 years now, and Randy Orton is an intense worker (even if I don’t like his clotheslines) but, this feud has been a piece of crap, no build up, no reason, why should I care? Their WM match was ok, it wasn’t great, just ok, and I was happy Kane got the win that night, but this feud needs to end here and now with this match and it is obvious Orton is going to get the win. This match is going to be absolutely brutal, it needs to be to justify the stipulation, lets just hope that brutality masks the lack of interest in the feud itself.

PREDICTION – RANDY ORTON

WWE CHAMPIONSHIP

CM PUNK vs JERICHO

CHICAGO STREET FIGHT

Chris Jericho has been my favourite star since I saw him at 11 years old on WCW, and to see that he was returning to feud with Punk was EXTREMEly exciting. The two best mic & ring workers in the business facing off against each other, but while their WrestleMania match was all kinds of awesome, the feud has fizzled out due to the boring and tedious nature of this whole “alcoholism” storyline, it isn’t interesting, it isn’t new, and the mic work both Jericho and Punk have been doing for it pretty much sucks. But which way is the match going to go? Jericho has been getting the upper hand since WrestleMania, and if he doesn’t win the WWE title he wouldn’t have accomplished anything since returning and would have lost at 4 straight PPV’s, but on the flip side, Punk is the new generation, he is the reigning WWE champion and I think a lengthy reign (without the name Cena on the belt) is doing the world of good.

There are two extenuating factors though that must be considered, the returning Albert/A-Train/Giant Bernard/Lord Tensai is being pushed in to a feud with Punk, this has already been hinted at by Big Johnny. That knowledge, coinciding with the fact that Jericho is expected to leave the WWE around July to tour with Fozzy means he could win the title, have a decent enough (by todays standards) length reign before going, means that we could see some interference by Tensai tonight, costing Punk the match and the title.

There have also been a number of people stating that Punk will win because it is in home town of Chicago, I wouldn’t be so sure, just because he won his Money in the Bank match last year in his home town, it doesn’t mean he should be undefeated when returning there, a loss in his home town would be far more interesting (and gain a much better crowd reaction) than a win.

PREDICTION – CHRIS JERICHO

WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

SHEAMUS vs DANIEL BRYAN

2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH

How nice it is to see the return of this stipulation, I love the concept for this and it really builds the intensity as the match goes on, and boy does it need it since the shambles of WrestleMania. I predict that Sheamus will gain the first fall in a repeat of the 18 seconds WM match, but that the next two falls will be a longer affair, Daniel Bryan will obviously cause Sheamus to tap out to the YES LOCK for the second fall, leading in to the decider.

Daniel Bryan has been on a hot stream since before WrestleMania and has turned in to the most entertaining man in the company at this point, his wrestling is always top notch, and his mic work is improving in leaps and bounds week in week out, but it is plain as a day to see WWE want Sheamus to be the future of the company, and so due to interference from AJ, Daniel Bryan will succumb once again to The Great White.

PREDICTION – SHEAMUS

BROCK LESNAR vs JOHN CENA

EXTREME RULES MATCH

The big one, the one that will really sell this card as EXTREME, the return of THE NEXT BIG THING. Brocks return came hand in hand with the best edition of Raw in years, and since he has been back I have been loving him, even his overly long promo last week on Raw, which everyone else seems to be moaning about. Now, I was never the biggest fan of Brock in the past, there was nothing wrong with him, I just had other people I cared for more, nor did I really care when he left, a mans got to do what a mans got to do, but I did follow his UFC career and knew what he was capable of, so I was happy to see him return and spice things up a little.

John Cena, conversely, is exactly where he should be, I don’t like him… At all, but I cannot deny he can draw big, big enough that he doesn’t need the title to be the most important man in the company, which is why I’ve been loving the position he has found himself in lately, staying well away from the title scene (and in truth, barely wrestling) and bringing in insane business for the company while letting other people have a bite of the cake.

Like I said, this match is going to be EXTREME, and with the bit of edge the WWE have been adding lately, a bit of blood on this most EXTREME of nights would not shock me in the slightest. In the end, Brock is going to come out on top, a loss straight after his return would absolutely demolish everything WWE have been doing with him and severely affect the impact he is going to have in the coming months.

PREDICTION – BROCK LESNAR

Additional Thoughts – GET DOLPH ZIGGLER ON THE CARD YOU ABSOLUTE FREAKING MANIACS.

Thwipping Boys Vs. Action Comics – Big Fight This Weekend!

April 2, 2012

Thwipping Boys Vs. Action ComicsIf you’ve listened to our show, you’ll know there’s a particular writer we reference all the time.

Not Joss Whedon! The other one.

We all adore Grant Morrison. Jon was addicted to his Marvel UK work in 1986, at the tender age of eight. Many years later, it was Morrison’s JLA that taught him that the DCU was cool. Simon got through a particularly long and nasty hospital stay in his early teens with the help of the same JLA run. Chris joined the party late but has wasted no time, devouring the likes of All-Star Superman, Animal Man, The Filth and the entirety of The Invisibles.

Going into the New 52, it was Action Comics that we were most excited about. So it is with heavy hearts that it has come to this.

We started with all 52 books and we’re now down to 17 – we can be quite punishing! Some of the books we’ve dropped so far (let’s say Nightwing, or The Flash) were certainly not as deserving of that fate  as Action Comics.

But we keep repeating the mantra: “This is Grant Morrison. THIS IS GRANT MORRISON.”

Occasionally, a creator earns the right to some leeway and Morrison has earned that and then some. We’re not completionists and we don’t really care about continuity – we’ve stayed on this so far only out of a genuine belief that it’s going to get much better. Of course it is! IT’S GRANT MORRISON! The guy is the best in the business and arguably the best there has ever been.

But Action Comics is just quite simply not very good*. Repeatedly. After months and months of painfully admitting that to ourselves we have to start wondering where we draw the line.

And that line is issue 8, “the epic 30-page conclusion of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ majestic opening storyline!”.

Look, we aren’t going in to this looking to drop it. We want to stay with it and if Morrison gives us a reason to, we will jump at that chance.

In this fight, we hope we lose, we really do. Prove us wrong, Grant. Kick our asses.

Thwipping Boys Vs. Action Comics

* Our reasons? Episode 26 is as good a place to start as any.

Simon’s Movie Review – Justice League: DOOM

March 10, 2012

Justice League: Doom is the latest release in the DC Animated Universe, and the final curtain for its writer, the late Dwayne McDuffie with a story very loosely based on Mark Waid’s fantastic JLA Tower of Babel storyline. Due to either paranoia or a desire for preparedness (depending on your point of view) Batman has covertly developed contingency plans for incapacitating earths mightiest heroes (not THOSE earths mightiest heroes) should they ever be compromised. As is fully expected, it is only a matter of time before these plans fall in to the hands of the dastardly villains of the piece, in the form of Vandal Savage and his LEGION OF DOOM (oooooouuuugh what a rush!)

The first thing I have to say about this piece is that it was a real joy to get such a stellar voice acting cast for this move, The DCAU titles have been incredibly hit and miss with their casting in the past, and so it was a pleasure to hear all the major players of the Timmverse return including the legendary Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly as Batman and Superman respectively. Filling out the heroes voice cast is everyone’s favourite maverick space cowboy Harrison Fo… No seriously, it’s Nathan Fillion, reprising the role of Hal Jordan that he was born to play, and Bumper Robinson as Cyborg, which unfortunately leads me to my first negative, as I felt Cyborg was horribly miscast here, and couldn’t mesh with the voice. Still, to make up for that, we got Alexis Denisof as Mirror Master!! YAY!

As a big fan of anime since my early childhood, I’ve always been attracted to animation that has a real sense of fluidity and energy coursing through it, and so it is more often than not how I tend to judge Western style animation as well, many animations have fallen at this hurdle, but I am happy to say that Justice League Doom passed with flying colours. The animation is smooth and crisp, the colours are bright and poppy without being distracting, and the action scenes have a real sense of energy and power to them, with one particular standout being an all-out brawl between the Martian Manhunter and his LoD counterpart (because we all need evil counterparts right?) in which they seamlessly mutate in to a variety of weird and wonderful creatures.

So what did I think of the story? This was something that I found very difficult to think about, as there are vast changes to a source material that is one of my favourite JLA stories. Overall I felt that once it entered the crux of the story it was a pretty strong adaptation, the change of the motivation behind the villains was; as expected, a ridiculously elaborate bad guy plan, but it worked within its context. The first of two big disappointments for me here was the opening scene, in which the Justice League do battle with The Royal Flush Gang (a villainous team I have always hated) which seems to serve as nothing more than to introduce a deus ex machina of sorts, as well as a rather trite explanation for why Cyborg deserved to be on the team. The second was that there is no real resolution to Batman’s actions, it could have paved the way for a rather intelligent discussion to cap off the movie, thus giving us older fans a secondary layer to enjoy the movie, but instead it was dispatched with rather quickly.

Overall this movie was a fun and entertaining slice of time, the animation was as good as it was ever going to be, as was the voice acting, but I felt some of the more interesting questions that could have been addressed were not. I was also rather unhappy with the inclusion of Cyborg in the story, he had little purpose, and was more than likely in there for no other reason than for DC to try and convince us that HE IS A JUSTICE LEAGUER DAMMIT, especially when other members of the DCU (I’m looking at you and your giant seahorse Aquaman) have been getting the short straw when it comes to animated adaptations for years.

If you’ve been a fan of DC’s other AU output, I’d recommend checking this out, whether this will win over any fans who have been disappointed with the past quality is another question, but what have you got to lose?

To sign off I must point to the funniest (unintentionally) moment of the movie – The Flash is floating in the sea unconscious when the Batplane flies overhead, and Cyborgs robotic hand on a cable swoops down, plucking The Flash out of the water… It was at this moment I shouted “GO GO GADGET ARM!”

8 out of 10 THWIPS!

Digital Disorientation in Batman #5

January 21, 2012

Batman #5There’s been a lot spoken about the way Batman #5 played with the comics form, but before I really get into this I will state that even if the panel layout had been completely conventional, this was the best single issue of a comic I’ve read in my life. If you’re not reading this amazing Batman run from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, I don’t have any way to express how sorry I feel for you. Sort it out!

As you will know if you follow our podcast, we’re steadfast converts to digital in terms of single issues – which in my particular case is quite fortuitous since there’s no comic shops around here. So I was quite perturbed when I read the following tweet from iFanboy’s Josh Flanagan:

joshtweet

And he’s not the only one who thought so.

This thread on the DC boards says that the digital comic has “Unacceptable Orientation Problems”.

This one seems to indicate ComiXology has actually been refunding people.

And there are many similar sentiments to be found all over the place.

Well I would like to say: Au contraire, Internet! You are wrong on this one.

When I first read that tweet, I messaged Snyder and Capullo saying that I don’t know what all this was about yet but that I hoped they hadn’t forgotten that for many, visiting a comic shop isn’t actually an option. Capullo immediately replied:

capullo

Cut to my experience reading it, and as you turned the tablet around, the swipe controls for Guided View would become confused and you’d find yourself swiping the wrong way a few times, causing immersion, confusion and disorientation at the moments when Bruce was feeling most lost.

I found myself thinking “Woah, hang on. I’m lost. Have I gone back on myself? What’s going on? Where was I? Where am I? I’m going round in circles, damn you, tormentors!” just like Batman was, with Snyder and Capullo playing the part of the Court of Owls themselves.

Indeed, the stuff the guys did with the way it reads digitially is far more impressive than “turning the comic around while you read it” which has been done before and when you think about it, isn’t really that impressive.

I then had a thought. Pity the poor desktop readers! They can’t turn their monitors around. They’d actually have to read it upside down. Suckers! But while recording our podcast the other night, I tried it and realised that not only are comics just as easy to read sideways or upside down as they are right way round, but that this was another spin on providing the disorientation that was different to tablet but still superior to the paper experience.

If anything, this shows the limitations of the paper form, rather than making a case for it. Contrary to what I have read everywhere else, I believe the guys were actually making a stronger case for digital and that tablet specifically was the superior way to read the book. There’s no way that the tablet experience was just an unexpected side-effect of what they did on paper.

Batman crazy!

What’s really clever is that they accommodated every format. Whether you read on paper, tablet, smartphone or desktop, it disorientated in a different way.

If you think the whole thing was a gimmick that you didn’t need, that’s fair enough. But saying the disorientation added a layer to it only, or more effectively on paper is nonsense. The only possible criticism I have is that the rotation lock business should have been explained somehow at the front of the book itself. As an iPad user for 6 months, I didn’t even know I could do that, and if I wasn’t lucky enough to have one of the creators explain this I probably wouldn’t have been able to get the most out of it, or I would have had to come out of the story halfway through to fiddle with the settings.

I would assume Mr. Flanagan hadn’t read the digital version when he tweeted. Indeed, I haven’t read it on paper, but I’d suggest it’s far easier to imagine the paper experience without having done it, than the other way around.

I hope ComiXology doesn’t reorient the panels like some people are asking them to, or at least that users are given the option to do so without the update being forced on us. This might be the most perfect comic of all time just the way it is thanks very much. The idea that ComiXology might be issuing refunds for selling this masterpiece to people makes me sad.

To hear us talk about Batman #5 in more depth, check out Ep. 19 of our podcast.

Want to add to the debate? Email thwippingboys@gmail.com or find us on Twitter at @thwippingboys

JonnyJon

Simon’s Comic Art Colouring – A Time Lapse Video

January 12, 2012

So, as I’ve mentioned a few times before, I love to colour comic art, it’s just a hobby, and so just use photoshop, I am by no means some crazy pro who does it with watercolours or something, but I thought it might be pretty fun to create a time lapse video of my latest colouring, 3 hours of comic colouring condensed in to 6 minutes. So sit back, enjoy, once watched check out the final piece just below! And most importantly of all, let us know what you think on @ThwippingBoys

Pencils – Paulo Siqueira

Music – @Chris_Thwipping