Friday, May 2, 2014

INTERVIEWS, INTERVIEWS AND MORE INTERVIEWS

I can go for months without being asked for an interview then, suddenly, it seems as if everyone in the world—the comic book world, anyway—wants to talk to me.  So here, for your listening and dancing pleasure, are three interviews about my work on Justice League Dark:  one with Newsarama, one with Comicosity and one with Comic Vine.  Then, if you're not totally sick of me, you can click on over to this interview where I discuss my old friend Spider-Man with the Oakland Press.

That last Q & A mentions the fact that I'll be at the Motor City Comic Con from May 16th through the 18th.  If you live in the Detroit area, please come by, say hello and bring some books for me to sign.  At the end of the month—the weekend of May 30th through June 1st—I'll be in the steamy South for Wizard World Atlanta.  I'll be signing and doing three, possibly four, panels, as well.  These are the first two cons of 2014 for me and I'm looking forward to them.  (I really need to get out of the house!)

See some of you there, I hope.

82 comments:

  1. I was wondering if you knew Al Feldstein at Mad.

    I grew up with Mad when it was a big deal. By the standards of those times, it really did prick the bubble of everything from mundane to pompous (I haven't seen it for years, but old Mad would have had a field day with today's PC BS.) For those who don't know, today's Daily Show is a media descendant.

    While the battle is now ancient history, I have to say that when I eventually found reprint material from Kurtzman's days, I thought it was better. The satire was more than pointed; it had almost a subversive feel to it.

    Portzebie, forever. Rick

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    1. I had a pretty manic MAD phase when I was a kid, Rick. And I remember my excitement when I discovered the early comic book version in a series of paperbacks. The material was so different from the MAD I knew. It was almost disturbing...in a wonderful way.

      I never met Al Feldstein, but his influence on all our psyches was pretty profound, wasn't it? Feldstein's place in popular culture is certainly secure.

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  2. As a Michigan resident myself I was very excited to see that you were going to be at the Motor City Comic Con. I haven't been to that convention in about 20 years, but with both you and Kevin Maguire in attendance I have to go to this one. I'll see you there!

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    1. I didn't realize Kevin was going to be there, Drew. That's great!

      And be sure to come by and say hello. See you soon!

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  3. How much will you be charging for autographs? Thanks!

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    1. I don't charge for autographs; so, as long as you don't bring me every single comic I've ever written, I'm happy to sign what you've got.

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    2. Every comic you've ever written...ha! You're a bit too prolific for that.

      On a different note, JMD, have you seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet? I personally think it's the best of the Marvel Studios films yet.

      And I was thrilled to see Mark Gruenwald given credit for his Captain America work. I knew people would clearly see the Brubaker influence, but I wasn't sure how many would know just what a big debt the film's concept--and pretty much everything that's been done with Cap in the past decade--owes to Gruenwald's "The Captain" storyline. Probably not a big deal to most, but Gruenwald's Cap run basically followed me from childhood into high school, so seeing his name up there was really cool. He was very much ahead of the curve, as was that writer who almost assassinated Cap, and then faded into obscurity forever. Or wrote thousands more comics and won awards. I forget which.

      --David

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    3. Yes, I saw WINTER SOLDIER and thought it was very well done; but, for me, the first Cap movie is the gold standard. I loved it.

      How wonderful to see Mark Gruenwald—someone who wasn't just my editor, but also my friend—recognized in the film. But how much better it would be if he was here to see it.

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  4. So you did an interview with the Oakland Press and you didn't mention what you were most looking forward to at Motor City... meeting me. That seems too logical, what't the game Dematteis.

    Though the interview brings up an interesting point, how much do you get to see of a region. Its sad really, you are only there for the weekend, and most of that time is spent in a convention center. All the really interesting and culural and unique things are unseen. I suppose theoretically you could still experience the cuisine... maybe.

    I like to think as you land at Detroit Metro that you'll whisper under your breath, "this ones for you Dwayne."

    DAVID + Dematteis:
    I saw the Winter soldier as well, two weeks after it came out. I liked it a lot, but felt that the action slowed things down. It could have been a great political thriller, but the whole superhero=action movie thing got in the way. Honestly, seeing Grunewald and Englehart listed was better than either of the after credit images. I also felt the theme with HYDRA was a good one and could have gone on deeper and longer without getting boring.

    Jack

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    1. Actually, Jack, most of the interview was about you, but they cut all that out. Okay, that's not true, but we did cover a lot of other stuff (including Captain America), but it was cut down to, basically, an interview about the Spider-Man movie. And speaking of Cap...

      You should watch AGENTS OF SHIELD (if you don't already), because they're deep in the Hydra plot line from WINTER SOLDIER. AoS is a show that has improved dramatically the past few months. I've gone from occasional viewer to big fan.

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  5. Jack, I could not disagree more about the action slowing things down. There wasn't a wasted moment or character to be found in the entire film as far as I'm concerned, and the action scenes were the best I've seen in recent memory. Take that, Bond and Bourne (whom I also love, by the way).

    Agreed about AGENTS OF SHIELD, JMD. Things have gotten crazy good since spinning out of the events of WINTER SOLDIER.

    --David

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    1. Don't be too hard on me, Jack, I just love a good action sequence! :)

      If nothing else today, perhaps the three of us can agree that Raimi's SPIDER-MAN 2 is the gold standard when it comes to Peter Parker in film. Probably not the best comic book film, but certainly the one that I react to the strongest on an emotional level. Such a wonderful retelling of Lee/Romita's "Spider-Man No More."

      It seems like the Webb films are trying to make Peter a bit more conscious of himself as a role model, throwing in lots of scenes with him interacting with kids.

      I get why people like that approach--and it's certainly a valid one-- but to my mind, Raimi got it right. This gets into the duality angle you love so much, JMD, and I think that's why Peter clicks so well with audiences. He is paradoxically self-absorbed and self-sacrificing. No other character has quite hit the same note so perfectly. I believe that most of us will come through for our fellow man when it really counts, but of course we'll inwardly bitch and moan along the way. And that's okay, because we can't control how we feel, but we can make choices about what we do with our emotions. And we can, like Peter Parker, find a balance. You can't always get what you want, as the song says, but you can get what you need. That's the message I take away from Peter's story, and why I think the marriage was such an important addition to the mythos.

      I watched Raimi's DARKMAN a few weeks ago, and it provided an interesting bridge between his B grade horror flicks and the Spider-Man franchise. I'm glad he made it for two reasons: it's a good film, and he got to practice things which he got much better at by the time SPIDER-MAN rolled around.

      And no Spider-Man feels quite complete without a Bruce Campbell cameo! Campbell has jokingly suggested that he was playing the Chameleon and Raimi had plans for him to give Spider-Man a beatdown in a future film. That would have been something to see!

      --David

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    2. I don't know if I've ever heard anyone talk about the duality of self-absorption and self-sacrifice in Peter, but it's a pretty brilliant point, David.

      I wholeheartedly agree about the second Raimi Spider-Man film. I caught the tail end of it on TV the other night and it really holds up. BIG emotions and a very genuine portrayal of the Spidey we all know and love.

      I haven't seen the new one yet, but I'm sure I'll get around to it in the next few weeks (and, yes, I heard what they did to Doctor Kafka).

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    3. Scorpion, Rhino, Doc Ock...Kafka is just in keeping with the Spider-Man tradition of added appendages. :)

      --David

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    4. First off, I loved Cap 2. I think it was the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Especially the scene with the Winter Soldier in the Kitchen.was amazing.

      What the movie reminded me of was the Paralax View. A taught political Thriller, that they just don't make anymore. It seemed that breed died out around 2000. The story also reminded me of Englehart's run were Cap is framed for Murder. It coming so close just highlighted to me what it could have been. Is that fair? No, probably not. But still, what a better way to promote comics then say, "hey we're bringing back the subtlety." Most of the big action moments were great, but they could also have been done on a smaller scale. Especially considering it was supposed to be clandestine and the Winter Soldier was supposed to a does-he-exist type thing. The problem was of slowing down was more that once you get into that mindset its hard to shake it. Really,. it was more about disrupting the tension that was built. Yes that is the point of tension, to release it, but the massive level seemed off to me.

      As for Spidey, that is interesting idea. I always wondered if Peter's faults were subconscious actions. Peter both wanting to push people away so Uncle Ben doesn't repeat itself, but also because he doesn't feel he deserves happily ever after.

      Also, if it has some points about the simple life. Peter lives a fairly simple life. Even married to MJ, she lost her career's highlights pretty early in the marriage, and there apartment after that was somewhat humble, and there lie kind of ordinary (considering). Like in loosing Uncle Ben he gained perspective in what was important.

      The question is whether or not it really is Gilt that pushes him, personally I don't buy it.

      Jack

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    5. I think guilt plays a huge part in it, Jack. Guilt over Uncle Ben's death, more subtle (and totally misplaced) guilt over his parents' deaths (which explored in "The Child Within"); but that's only part of who Peter is. The bottom line for me has always been that Peter is a good and decent man. He's flawed, as we all are, he makes mistakes, as we all do, but he keeps trying to do the right thing. He may give up, he may complain, he may occasionally run away, but he always comes back and always does the right thing. And that, to me, is the essence of his character. One could argue that it's also the essence of what being human, in the very best sense, is/

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    6. I was more trying to make the point that it wasn't guilt. At some point that would fade. What''s more by being Spider-man puts his loved ones ion Danger. If anything guilt would have made him quit after Gwen Stacy died. There is a far more direct link to blame. If Peter hadn't even been Spider-man Uncle Ben may have still died. Gwen would still be alive if Peter had never been Spider-man. If he had never fought the Green Goblin.

      For that matter Aunt May fluctuated because he was Spider-man, His widow had a tougher run because he chose this life. Where is the guilt for creating a widow.

      I think Uncle Ben was just a teaching moment for Peter. He saw the importance of what one person can do. What's more it isn't even about responsibility, its about living up to your potential. Peter could have done a lot of things to appease that guilt, he chose to do what only he could do. Sure guilt helped cement it in. I just think it goes far beyond that.

      Peter also learned the value of sacrifice, in an odd way. In Amazing Fantasy 15 Peter seems to want to spend more time with th student body (or at least a few of the more curvy ones) However, once he is a superhero he seems to almost revel in his station as a loner. Actively mocking and shunning Flash and Liz. Even during the Romita college years when he is most social, he seems to be alone a lot.

      For that point I would argue Spider-man persona acts as a special reality for Spider-man. The joking nature of the character is like what most people would keep in there head. Hell, it probably isn't that different from what he would have thought about Flash Thompson. In turn making it reality, and more like MJ, except in the inverse. Mary Jane was shown to thorough on the party-girl facade to cope with the rough parts of her life.. essentially hiding herself. Peter's fun loving side is the real him that he just couldn't access.

      What's more it is a testament to the complexity of the common man. Guilt, responsibility, being a good man, and even potential are all valid, and probably all completely wrong as well.

      don't skimp on the comments Dematrteis

      Jack, awaaaaaaaaaaay...

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    7. I think the essence of what you're saying is there in the final paragraph, Jack: "a testament to the complexity of the common man...all valid and probably completely wrong, as well."

      Peter, as I've often said. is one of the most (probably THE most) psychologically real characters in super hero comics. He's a mirror of all of us, both in his flaws and in his incredible potential to rise above them.

      That complexity allows for a variety of interpretations, You make so many wonderful points here, shine such an interesting light on Peter's psyche. I could argue some of the points, but, really, it's all true because, we, as human beings, contain contradictions. And Peter, being a reflection of us, contains all those contradictions as well. That's what makes him so interesting.

      The idea that Peter has, in some ways, caused more harm by being Spider-Man than he ever could have as plain old Peter is a very powerful one. It also speaks to the aspect of super hero comics that we all have to ignore in order to enjoy these stories: If these characters existed in real life, we'd all be Jonah Jameson screaming "Menace! Menace!" Because these "heroes" would be leaving trails of death and destruction wherever they went. Yes, if there had been no Spider-Man, Gwen WOULD be alive today. And that's a chilling thought.

      Thanks for you (as usual) wonderful insights. Not many people could get me thinking about Spider-Man in new ways.

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    8. Uh...that should have been "thanks for YOUR wonderful insights." It's early...I'm still sleepy!

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    9. Jack,

      I understand what you're saying about WINTER SOLDIER. In essence, I think it's the kind of criticism that any genre mash-up is subject to, because one genre inevitably wins out on some level (though fans aren't always agreed as to which that is).

      It's like eating a Dorito Taco and you kinda like it but it really just makes you hungrier for Doritos or tacos and not their unholy bastard child. But me personally, I love Dorito Tacos, and I'm a big fan of the way the conspiracy thriller and superhero elements mixed in WINTER SOLDIER.

      Excellent points about Peter Parker. I don't think his guilt defines him, it's more the catalyst for his inherent decency. He's not the kind of guy who's going to go out looking for battles to fight, and he'd be perfectly happy to just enjoy his life. But when a problem shows up and makes itself very obvious, he'll come through every time, even when it costs him dearly.

      And you're very right about the way Gwen's death balances things out. If guilt were the ONLY factor, then her death would have cancelled Uncle Ben's out, and he'd just do nothing. Really brilliant point.

      --David

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    10. JMD:

      I disagree about Peter causing more harm than good as Spidey, and heroes being destructive in general. The choices Norman Osborn makes are his and his alone, and it doesn't really fall on Peter. In fact, one could just as easily argue that Peter could have ended things in the first place by simply killing Norman, but he made the more responsible (and dangerous) choice.

      Action has consequences, but so does inaction, and in my opinion Peter wouldn't necessarily make the world a better place by doing nothing while Doc Ock holds New York City hostage with a nuclear reactor.

      It's an interesting question, and one I think you explored brilliantly in SAVIOR 28, but I ultimately fall on the side that heroes do more good than harm. I see them as metaphors for the kind of decisions that police officers and firefighters are often forced to make. A police car chase could lead to more lives lost, and then again, if it's a dangerous armed fugitive the consequences of not pursuing could be even more deadly. Needless to say, it's not a call I'd like to ever make!

      If Peter had never been Spider-Man, Gwen might still be alive, or it could have just bumped her death up on the timeline because of a villain Peter never stopped. But where Gwen is concerned, the only thing I can really fault Peter with is that she never knew WHY she died, and couldn't make a personal choice about whether being with Peter was worth the risk.

      That said, Peter made the call to the best of his abilities at the time, and felt that Gwen knowing would make her more vulnerable than not. It's certainly not something that Peter did with ill intent.

      I don't have a universal philosophy when it comes to violence, except to say there's a time to fight and a time not to, but sometimes it seems like only God knows the difference. Interestingly, it's not so much Peter suiting up that sends Harry Osborn into a downward spiral, but simply not being there for him as a friend when he needs him the most. There's that great Conway scene where Harry is hooked on drugs and Peter is so understandably blinded by his anger over Gwen's death that he's an absolute monster to Harry (for all of thirty seconds, but still).

      The genius of the Harry Osborn Saga is that Peter finally realizes that he needs to appeal to Harry as a friend and not fight him. But that same strategy wouldn't work with Norman or Doc Ock, because they don't have the same inherent decency as Harry.

      So ultimately, I look at the situation on a case by case basis, but feel that superheroes save more lives than they lose. The supervillains as presented in the Marvel and DC Universe can't be handled by the police, so if it wasn't for guys like Spidey and DD, they'd be carving New York up into territories and igniting supervillain gang warfare that would kill half the city. At least that's how I look at it!

      But regardless of our differences on this point, let me just say that I deeply appreciate how thoughtful your approach to the problem of violence is. And I love that you give all your characters clear and understandable motivations. SAVIOR 28 is brilliant because it doesn't put forward the idea that James is flawless--he is, in fact, an insufferable egotist--or that the forces that oppose him are mustache twirling villains. You can understand where everyone is coming from, and that's the best way to start a real dialogue in my opinion. I take a lot of inspiration from that in the way I approach my own writing.

      --David

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    11. All great points, David. For me, in the end, as much as I love these characters and these stories (I couldn't have written them for so long if I didn't love them), I've always been uncomfortable with the violence and the underlying message that a punch in the face solves problems. As we know from the real world, violence leads to more violence. And the message we send, by creating stories that, over and over, end in an orgy of explosions, is a dangerous one.

      It works in the comics, I think, because the form is one step removed from reality. When these things get translated to the movie screen, where the violence is continuous and in our faces, it really disturbs me.

      And the same time, I think these kinds of larger than life adventure stories are wonderful. They can be filled with fun and philosophy and so much more. I just—and I've said this many times—think we need lots of alternative ways to tell stories. We've been using the same template for centuries now: good vs. evil. In the end, every time we cheer the death of a bad guy, I think we lose a little piece of ourselves.

      I wonder if my discomfort with the form, side by side with my passionate love of it, is what gives my stories their uniqueness?

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    12. I absolutely think that tension is a big part of why your stories are so unique.

      Metaphorically speaking, it's like you are your own Lee/Kirby or Lennon/McCartney!

      --David

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    13. More like Abbott and Costello! : )

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    14. Ha! Either way, it's pretty cool.

      --David

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    15. Going to gloss over the Peter reveling in being a loner thing? Kay. I thought that it was interesting, but whatever.

      Seriously though, thanks for the Kind words David.

      As for what real life Super-folk would do, well... that is interesting in its own right. No one has a problem when a common man stops a mugging on the subway, so if people had the ability to level buildings, it might not be seen a s as menacing if a superpowered civilian stepped up to do an escalated version of that. Of course this is only conjecture.

      As fo violence, I think a no-name writer from the Silver age namede Stan Lee put it best, "I hate action as much as anyone, but I think that there is a difference between violence and action."

      Jack

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    16. True, Jack. But. often, what's acceptable action on the comic book page becomes violence in real life...and on the movie screen, as well. I think there's something in the comic book form that ameliorates the violence and makes it more acceptable.

      That said, I think the movies could probably make it more acceptable, as well; but these days they seem to revel in destruction, on a massive scale, each one trying to top what's come before.

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    17. MNOre to the point I was thinking, was if you look at say... Silver Age Marvel there is not that much violence. Sure there is some. The violence is more often focused on the hero by the villain. Often times the hero will opt for a more creative way to stop[ the villain, like say Spider-man blinding Doc Ock. Sure there was hitting afterward, but it wasn't full on wailing on someone. Daredevil originally just pushed over stilt man, and merely stood in the was of Namor's rampage So up until the 80s the violence seems to be a smaller part of the action. It was still there, but not as heavy handed and was more often shown as a resort to be waited for.

      That being said, I am never too sure what to make on violence in media and its influence. There is a cathartic nature to such things. If we are being perfectly honest Batman and Wolverine are popular characters because they don't put up with other people's shit, and since most people do they can act as a conduit for there own feeling of impotency in just how you have top play the game of life. In reality, those same people would not be to fond of dealing with those same types of people.

      If a musician writes a song about suicide of substance abuse and a fan kills themselves of becomes an addict is it the musician's influence? No, more likely they were drawn to the performer because they could feel a kinship with someone who had similar feelings.

      The question of desensitizing though is another point entirely. There has been a good portion of that in our society as of late, but is violence in media the cause or a symptom? In the end it probably has a hand, but the isolating effects of technology distancing us from each other as well as the over saturation of information to our brains is a very likely a much bigger part of it.

      Now, I suggest moving to a simpler topic, whethrt or not Peter Revels in being a loner post Spider-man or not. But, its your site so whatever.

      Jack

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    18. Great points, Jack. And I agree about 60's Marvel. Those stories never seemed wildly violent. And, if you look through them, you'll see Stan doing things to tone the carnage down (like noting that, while Thor and the Wrecker are tearing buildings apart, that the buildings are condemned and unoccupied!). I know as a reader, I was always more interested in what the characters were feeling and saying than who was dropping a building on whose head. At best, the action was symbolic of the inner conflicts of the characters.

      I also felt that, the farther we got from "street level" violence, the easier it was to take. Gods and cosmic beings tearing up the universe was always easier for me to take than Daredevil beating on a "street punk." That said, I'm sure if I went back to a Lee-Romita Spider-Man story, it wouldn't bother me at all.

      And I agree that these stories (and, by "these stories," I don't just mean super-heroes, I mean action movies in general) can be cathartic. The problem today is that there's SO MUCH of it: in movies, on TV, in comics and video games. Its unrelenting in our mass media and more graphic than ever. After a certain point, it becomes (to me, anyway) both numbing and a little disgusting. Taken in smaller doses, I have no problem with it.

      I wrote a post, a few years back, about the needs for new kinds of stories.
      That doesn't mean the classic action-adventure story needs to eradicated, just that we need to tell tales about the human condition in other ways as well. Even in comics and film, "fantasy" doesn't have to translate into violence. "Super hero" doesn't have to translate into a third act, forty minute re-creation of 9/11 with guys in capes.

      As for you final question re: Peter. Yes, I think, on one level, he absolutely revels in it; but, on another, he's desperate for friendship as Peter and broader acceptance as Spider-Man. Contradiction? Yes. And that's what makes Peter, and all of us, human.

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    19. My philosophy on excessive violence is wildly inconsistent, and is probably best summed up by the infamous court decision on obscenity: I'll know it when I see it.

      I like Jack Kirby's take, which I'll paraphrase. Jack said violence for the sake of violence is stupid, so he always treated violence as choreography. The results of that approach speak for themselves: not only is the violence in a Kirby comic more explosive and engaging, it's also more meaningful.

      I think the idea that superhero films are largely "a third act, forty minute re-creation of 9/11 with guys in capes" is a valid critcism. Our technical ability to make 'destruction porn' kind of gelled with the timing of 9/11, unfortunately, and it's like we're trying to purge it from our consciousness by constantly reliving it with better results. You'll also notice that most villains have become stand-ins for Bin Laden: whether it's THE DARK KNIGHT's Joker or INTO DARKNESS' Khan, you can't 'beat' villains because it's always part of their plan. And that's had results of varying quality. (For my own part, the best take on this kind of villain was SKYFALL.)

      The upshot of all this is that we have, on some level, lost our ability to tell a story with more intimate stakes. By and large, Hollywood is telling us that a story doesn't matter if millions of lives aren't hanging in the balance. I love stories with large stakes, but I also like it when, say, John McClane is trying to save his estranged wife from terrorists. I mean, seriously, DIE HARD is the greatest movie about marital counseling ever.

      These trends inevitably emerge in every form of media. Stan Lee's heroes were accidents of fate, but there came a point when Marvel decided that conspiratorial forces have a hand in every hero and villain's formation. This began as early as the 1990s when Norman Osborn returned, but it naturally gelled with 9/11 and the idea that it's always about goverments and terrorists and corporations fighting to create their next big weapon.

      Fate was once the cornerstone of the Marvel Universe, but now it's Oscorp, where villainy, big business and conspiratorial forces merge to form the perfect storm.

      On the comics side of things, the worst development in the history of comics was Jason Todd's death, because it was a sign that comics had abandoned the joy and innocence of youth. From that point on, heroes were no longer surrogate fathers but generals leading child soldiers into war. (And yet I think UNDER THE RED HOOD is really well done both in comics and the animated film.)

      It will be interesting to see what the future holds, and whether current trends will be reversed when we feel like we've purged 9/11 from our collective consciousness. And only time will tell whether we're truly using film to move on or getting stuck in an infinite loop.

      --David

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    20. Impressive insights, as always, David (this particular comment would make a wonderful blog entry of its own), especially this one: "Our technical ability to make 'destruction porn' kind of gelled with the timing of 9/11, unfortunately, and it's like we're trying to purge it from our consciousness by constantly reliving it with better results." There's a lot of truth there, I think.

      I also like Kirby's comment about the treating his fight scenes as choreography. There are certain Hong Kong martial arts films where the "violence" is truly balletic and you watch it in awe, not because it's a great fight scene, but because it's stunning, magical choreography.

      No easy answers to this question, for sure; but I do think our media has gone overboard on what you rightly call "destruction porn." And I think it's unhealthy.

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    21. Good point about martial arts choreography...I bet you could (or already do) appreciate Jackie Chan's work, which is basically Bruce Lee meets Buster Keaton. His 90s cartoon was light-hearted, mystical and just good-natured fun. If you've ever got twenty minutes to spare, catch an episode of JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES on instant Netflix. It's exactly the kind of larger than life adventures you're talking about.

      Interestingly, SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE had a higher body count than most of the post 9/11 films, seeing as how Lex took out the West Coast. But instead of seeing Californians dying by the hundreds, Donner focused on the more intimate reactions of the people closest to Clark Kent. And--perhaps this is the most important point--Superman reversed the damage and NOBODY died. What a thought!

      --David

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    22. Great point about the SUPERMAN move: compare the sensibilities of that film and the recent one and it says everything there is to say about how action-adventure films have changed over the decades.

      We're big Jackie Chan fans around here and your description of "Bruce Lee meets Buster Keaton" is exactly right.

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    23. Even look at the first Spider-man movie and X-Men movie. Both were made before 9/11 and had much less structural damage then even their sequels.

      As for Jason Todd and the general concept, I always thought that the turning of Batman into someone who saw hid sidekicks as employees opposed to a surrogate family or at least as lost souls in need of help, was a huge misstep. In DC doing this, it makes Captain America even more of the man out of time, seeing as how when he found out Bucky was the Winter Soldier in his comic he was full of hope that his friend was still alive, and continuously wanted him to be okay.

      Earlier I talked about Thrillers, which are by no means devoid of violence, after all fear of death is what makes action and thriller movies exciting. But they did it on a smaller scale.

      In many ways this actually makes it more terrifying. It is someone gunning for you that you have trouble seeing him coming.

      In the end though, violence in films is like news. People like to complain about place like Fox News and MSNBC being skewed, but if that being a bad thing was really popular consensus, they wouldn't exist. it is a business. Movies are violent, no matter the psychological origin, because that's what makes money. People want it.

      Jack

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    24. True, Jack. True! As for your other point, about thrillers, I agree: I, for one, am a huge fan of spooky, moody stuff like (no surprise) THE TWILIGHT ZONE or films like THE SIXTH SENSE. Lots of dread and chills and suspense...but no gore. On the other hand, I'm not a fan, at all, of in-your-face-horror.

      And even horror has come a long way, hasn't it? Look at the original FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA films...and they feel more like TWILIGHT ZONES than any current horror movie you could think of.

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    25. Wait, which part is true... I was kind of all over the place there.

      Now David, your turn to chime in on Peter's views via being a loner.

      I think it is possibly, though admittedly unintentionally, a view of man kinds struggle to find a balance between individualism and community. Just you know... the basic feeling of the writers, not planned.

      Jack

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    26. The part about the people getting what they want.

      "Individualism and community"? There's a struggle that's as old as man. Another excellent point.

      David...?

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    27. While we're waiting I'll add a few points to Spider-man the universe and everything...

      1. Good and evil, to the points above, are opposing forces in other than just the obvious. Evil, in fiction and in real life, is more proactive. Good on the other hand is dependent on strife. Good unlike evil cannot exist in a vacuum. So Peter's acts, while bringing problems to those closest to him are in the larger view more beneficial for society.

      2. I assume that you have not left for Michigan yet. Just remember as the Plane lands at Detroit Metro Airport to hold your hand in a fist and quietly say, "this one's for you Dwayne (McDuffie)" (you aren't going to do that are you.

      3. Once your here, remember we have our fair share of local foods. The black cherries are great, but I believe out of season. There is also Superman ice cream, a wide variety of Faygo sodas (by the way if you want to fit in say pop not soda), Coney Dogs (Michigan has the strictest meat producing laws in the country, hot dog joke don't make sense here), Oberon beer, great pastys, and a whole host of others.

      Are you excited yet?!

      Its odd though, I don't think you'll ever actually be in Detroit, what with the con being in Detroit Novi and the airport being in Romulus. So unless you make an actual attempt to go to the city it is less of visiting Detroit than than the area around Detroit.

      Also, here is an odd story, years ago, during the Amazon posts, you put up a link to an an interview you did were people emailed questions. One was actually from Novi, where the show is. Cosmic, huh? I remember it because the guy interviewing you pronounced it No-VEE, not Nov-I. That has been bugging me for years.

      See you this weekend,
      Jack

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    28. Looking forward to the convention, Jack, and very much looking forward to meeting you face to face. My food choices are a little limited as I'm one of those folks with food allergies and sensitivities. But I'm sure I'll find some good stuff!

      See you soon!

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    29. I'm not going to force you to do anything. I don't know how much of those have what allergens. If any of it sounds appetizing you can always just ask. If not, whatever.

      The important thing is the "this ones for you Dwayne. " thing.It will make whoever sits next to you on the plane feel really weird and wonder what kind of weirdo business brings you to Detroit.

      Jack

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    30. Don't worry, I didn't think you were trying to force me to eat anything!
      : )

      The Dwayne suggestion is very sweet, Jack. Thanks.

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  6. Took me a second to get that subtle and very funny joke, David!

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  7. I read the article you retweeted about the real Dr. Kafka, which was a lot of fun. Interesting and cool story there. It makes me a little sad that she got gender-swapped and villainized in ASM2 and brutally murdered in the Marvel Universe. There ought to be more characters like Dr. Kafka who approach villainy from a completely different angle. I loved what she was able to accomplish with Vermin, and I hate that comics have an inevitable tendency for villains to never be cured and supporting characters get punished for their altruism. I do get why it happens, because as a reader I want guys like Doc Ock to stay...well, Doc Ock, and be a cold and (mostly) evil son of a gun. But then there's characters like Vermin and the Lizard, who are more interesting because they're essentially decent (if tortured) people trying to conquer their inner demons, and they should have at least some measure of success.

    Also, I'll admit I thought "don't worry be happy" originated with Bobby McFerrin!

    --David

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    1. No, "Don't worry, be happy" comes from Avatar Meher Baba. The original quote is (essentially): "Do your best then don't worry, be happy and I will help you."

      Re: Doctor Kakfa. Nothing to add because I totally agree with every world!

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    2. Doctor KAKFA? Who's that? : )

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  8. Jack, I agree that audiences tend to get what they want, but with the caveat that buying a ticket or a Blu-Ray doesn't give you a line item veto. So it might be that audiences are responding to something different than, as one author has put it, 'things crashing into things.'.

    I notice these divisions in my own household. At best, my wife is typically bored by the third act free for alls, and at worst, she finds them troubling. She pretty much tunes out when it's not characters interacting on a personal level. My son and I, on the other hand, really enjoy the fight scenes, as long as they're anchored in an emotional reality we can buy into. (We're both agreed that MAN OF STEEL, divorced from any sense of hope or joy, fell horribly flat.)

    JMD retweeted a very well written article a while back where an author criticized the 'sameness' of 'things crashing into things' in the Marvel films. I'll admit there are times when the formua works beautifully and I can't knock it, CAP 2 being the best example of a nearly flawless execution that had me genuinely engaged. But it's a point well taken. There is a certain expectation now about how these films must end, and maybe we've reached a point where we're not even sure why it has to be that way.

    One of the best examples I can think of is THE WOLVERINE. It was, up until the third act, a very fresh take on Logan's continuing adventures, one that was more influenced by spaghetti Westerns and samurai films than superheroes. But then the third act is hijacked by a slick, artifical fight scene with a man in a robot suit, because someone must have naturally assumed that you simply can't end a superhero film otherwise. It was weird to say the least, like having Megatron show up at the end of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.

    If Dr. Strange and Man-Thing end with a third act involving 'things crashing into things,' we'll know the trend has gone too far!

    Totally agreed about Spider-Man as it regards invidualism vs. community. Everyone on earth has to struggle with when it's okay to carve out time for ourselves amidst the demands of family, friends, and work, and Peter Parker deals with that concept in its purest form.

    --David

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    1. I just read an early review of the new X-MEN movie, David, and they went out of their way to praise it because the third act avoids the usual apocalyptic mayhem. Not that there's no big action, just that there's no orgy of "things crashing into things."

      Very much looking forward to this movie.

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    2. Sounds great, JMD! I'm already pumped for DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and this makes me even more excited to see it.

      --David

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  9. And without getting into any spoilers, I thought AGENTS OF SHIELD closed out its first season on a really strong note, giving closure where it was needed and teasing bigger things to come. I'm very excited to see where they go with this next season.

    --David

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    1. It was a fun conclusion...and certainly set things up for the fall return.

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  10. Alright Dematteis, we are on the eve of Motor City, and to be fair you are probably on a plane right now (Hopefully not forgetting the Dwayne thing as you land) and I'm not sure that you'll even see it before I see you, but in case you do, what's the magic number of books to be signed. UI know it isn't a fixed amount, but pallpark it if you can as to what is right for one signing session?

    Thanks for your time/help.


    Jack

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    1. It depends on the traffic, Jack. If there aren't a lot of people in line, I'll be happy to sit and sign and sign. If there are a lot of other people, I'd sign five or ten. But you can come back a bunch of times till I've signed everything. I expect multiple visits!

      And I'm already here.

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    2. Well, you aren't on a plane... weird. We might actually be in the same state right now,. Weird..er.

      Any way I was figuring on coming back, I was just wondering what one visit would be. And you answered it. Thanks.


      See you (actually see you) sometime in the next few daaaaaaays....

      Jack

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    3. Be sure to wear a flower in her lapel.

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  11. Dematteis-

    Its the last day of the show. If you haven't yet and get a chance check out Rebecca Goldberg's booth. She is a local artist who makes makes jewelry and small sculptures by wire wrapping. It really is very impressive the amount of skill she has. it is worth seeing just to appreciate the craftsmanship.

    No pressure, just a suggestion of the kind of interesting things that you can really only see if you look out of the mainstream.

    Jack

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  12. Oh yeah.. and I hope you have been enjoying yourself.

    Jack

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    1. The real question, Jack, is: Whee are YOU? Or have I already met you in disguise?

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  13. So, the motor City Comic Con has again come to a close. And the most important thing is now you can finally say that we have met face to face.

    I would like to thank you for bringing that cold snap with you into our May. That was sort of annoying, though it could have been Shatner, I am half sure that he may be the Devil. He wasn't a jerk or anything to me, inf act we have never met, But it does seem to fit.

    Did you enjoy yourself?
    Did you have a chance to do some Detroit things in your spare time like eat a coney Doy, drink a Faygo, listen to punk or techno music (yes, we invented both), or weld on an assembly line?
    Did you do the Dwayne thing?
    Did you get a chance to check out Ms. Goldberg's work?
    Was meeting me everything you hoped?

    Jack.

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    1. I am HUGELY disappointed that you didn't introduce yourself, Jack. I was looking forward to putting a face to the name and having some time to chat.
      So, no, meeting you wasn't everything I'd hoped.

      I saw Shatner's panel and he was his usual self: incredibly smart, funny, deep, silly and thoroughly entertaining. May we all have such energy when we're 83.

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    2. If you don't know which was me how do you know if it was or wasn't everything you hoped for? And trust me, you don't need my face associated with anything. It makes children cry, women scream, and men look away in disgust.

      I do feel like I made an impression though. I feel like I was at least one of the top 5 most memorable signings you did. So guess once, and If you get it wrong I'll give you a hint that will absolutely give it away. Trust me I have no doubt it will give me away.

      At least now I know were you disappeared to... a Shatner panel.

      what about the rest? Did you enjoy yourself? Did you honor McDuffie as you landed? Did you get e chance to check out Ms. Goldberg's work?

      Jack

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    3. No, didn't see Ms. Goldberg's work. Didn't really see much beyond the hotel and my table at the con. (Well, I saw a lot of Kevin Maguire, since he was sitting right next to me. And of course I saw a lot of my wife, who took the trip with me!)

      I didn't do your "official" Dwayne remembrance, but I did think of him. (At least I think I did: I'm pretty fried from the weekend, so my brain cells aren't all firing.)

      I have to guess? Okay: Were you the tall guy who interviewed me, writing scribbles in his little pad?

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    4. A. that's a shame. She is very talented, and I have never seen her style before. I do understand though. You were working.

      B. That's nice.

      C. Don't... don't call my notes scribbles. How many times are you going to insult my handwriting? And I can't believe you didn't take my ball. Now a Canadian has it.

      You seem to be dodging the most important question, did you enjoy yourself in my neck of the woods. I would understand if not. It was Novi.

      I learned why you shouldn't meet your heroes. You'll see them eat a salad. It was very disillusioning.

      Jack


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    5. So, now was it everything you hoped for?


      Jack

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    6. Well, at least the mystery is solved and I FINALL have a face to go with the name. It was a pleasure talking to you and I'm sorry you didn't come back for more chat. You're not getting away next time!

      What I enjoyed most about the con was how heartfelt, sincere and appreciative most of the people were who came up to my table. What did I enjoy least? The horrendous lighting in the convention center!

      My wife took a ton of pictures, so I may just create a post around them. Sadly, no pictures of you. But NEXT time—!

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    7. I actually had to come back on Saturday, my editor said I needed more pictures, I was going to say hello, and have some more comic signed, but first you were eating lunch and then you disappeared. I suppose the mystery has been solved as to were you went. Then after a while I just wanted to be anywhere but in a convention center. The point is that Shatner owes me a signed Life and Times of Savior 28 #1, Amazing Spider-man 400, and Spider-man: The Lost years #1. Oh, and he'll pay up.

      Was I the first person to get something signed?

      And you're wrong, what you enjoyed most was me, and thinking about that writing sample. And apparently not taking my ball.

      Jack

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    8. Not taking the ball was absolutely the highlight! : )

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    9. well, I'm glad it thrilled you so, but that was Friday... that's two days of downhill to deal with.

      Also, did Shatner mention Denny Crane?

      And, now that you have been writing Justice League Dark for a while, what are your views on John Constantine? I remember you said that some times you really grow to like characters as you right them, and this isn't a typical Dematteis character, so what is the verdict?

      Jack

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    10. There was a BOSTON LEGAL question, and he did say the words "Denny Crane," but not in Denny Crane style. (And his panel was Saturday, not Friday.)

      Constantine is a fascinating character and I like him quite a bit. To me, he's someone who, at his core, would love to be decent, would love to do the right thing, would love, perhaps, to be a hero; but life has so damaged and twisted him that he can't really admit that, even to himself. In many ways, he reminds me of the young John Lennon: a hard, acid-tongued British tough guy, whose spiked outer shell hides a very vulnerable core.

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    11. Your not too far off with John. He's complex. I would recommend reading Hellblazer, I really like Milligan's run... which happened to be the last one. The book was always a writers book too. I don't even mean for research, just because of how interesting of a character he is. I think of a guy who wants good to triumph, he doesn't want innocent people hurt, he is just incredibly self-serving and a huge prick (an really that is the only word) which the good stuff will take a back seat to. A line Ostrander wrote to describe Jim Corrigan sums it up, "he wasn't an easy man, and maybe not even a nice one, but he was a good man." Although you would have to swap outmaybe for "DEFINITELY not."

      And I know Shatner's panel was Saturday, I figured that was were to disappeared to when you said that you went to it. However the highlight of not taking the bouncy ball was late on Friday.

      Jack

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    12. Ah, sorry, I misunderstood. Yes: Bouncy Ball = Convention Highlight. If only you could have presented Shatner with a Bouncy Ball, then I would have fainted with joy. : )

      Your summation (with a little help from John Ostrander) of John Constantine's character sounds right on the money to me.

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    13. Your Constantine outlook seems good too (which is probably more important seeing as how you are writing him) though Lennon seems odd. Don't get me wrong, I understand the point and more or less agree, but the image is weird. It is hard to picture John earnestly saying "give peace a chance."

      And once again thanks for the sample. I thanked you Conway and Waid at the time, but still I want to say it again. I know that was probably mot the most usual thing to happen at a show. So again thank you (and Conway and WAid) for indulging me. Though when you and Waid dated it, you both put on the wrong date.

      Jack

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    14. That's because we're freelancers and we dwell in a world where one day often runs into another and we have NO IDEA what the date is! Or maybe we're just not that bright. : )

      And you're very welcome, Jack.

      Happy we finally got to meet...albeit in a somewhat confusing fashion!

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    15. You know I'm a freelancer too.

      Jack

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    16. So between us we're probably not sure what PLANET this is.

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    17. Of course we do... It's Zenn-La right?

      Jack

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    18. No that was destroyed

      Jack

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  14. Oh, and its only a disguise if I try to hide myself. Not mentioning something is nothing more than that.

    Come on Shatner is charismatic, successful, and charming, everything you would expect the Devil to be. We're all just in one long Twilight Zone episode.


    Jack

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    1. That I agree with: life IS one long TZ episode.

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    2. I can see where the confusion comes in. When you're a freelancer, you might finish a script in January, it hits stands in June, and it's cover dated October!

      --David

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    3. Not to mention the fact that we work at home, sometimes at odd hours, often writing through the weekend and taking days off during the week, and it gets VERY hard to remember what day it is!

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