Issue Forty-Six: A Note from the Editors

Hello, Wanderers!

We hope you’ve been well since we published our last issue, and that you haven’t been affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability that was recently discovered. The letters page will be here in a few days, as we want to double-check that we’re not exposing our accounts to danger before we get into them. Sorry for the delay!

In the reviews section this issue, we’ve got Monster Squad (this issue’s GUST), Dead Poets Society, and You’re Beautiful.

Meanwhile, on the more editorial side of things, we’re taking a look at one of our writers’ personal experience of the Pokemon franchise, we have a think about whether audiences are credited with enough intelligence, and we ponder the possibility that fandom can help you connect with your loved ones.

The Ragamuffin Speaks is here as usual, this time talking about the future of digital comics, so don’t miss that!

Our next issue will be out on the 26th of April, so check back then. In the meantime, we’ll be around on our various social media accounts, namely our FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr pages. Don’t be strangers!

Fandom Wanderers

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Credit for Intelligence

It is sometimes the case, when dealing with media that is aimed at a younger audience, that you may find that the creative team behind the media feel as though they do not need to try as hard with what it is they are creating. In many cases, this may lead to a lack-lustre plot, with twists anyone could see coming five miles off, or writing that feels as though it is somehow trying to insult the intelligence of the people it was created for. As you may have already gathered from our regular GUST feature, we here at FW do not believe in this type of thing. We have a very strong belief that whatever your intended audience is, the one thing that you must always do is give them reasonable credit for intelligence.

How does this tie into fandom, I hear you ask? Well, I guess technically it doesn’t. Except when it does. It just felt like it was something that had to be stated – for the however many time we’ve said it. There isn’t really one thing in particular that has brought on this comment, but rather two things, both of which are finales to shows that I had been watching that I felt cheated the audience. In a rather major way in one case, but I will do my best not to name names, but if you’ve been on any site where fans gather in their masses, you may have guessed at least one of them.

While there was rage – oh, was there rage – I felt that it gave way to more of a wondering of why it seems to be that there is this need, almost, to do something like that. To give your audience material that not only fails to live up to the expectations that the rest of your work has created, but also seems to serve as an example of, in short, really shoddy writing. It is especially confusing if, up until that moment in question, the writing had been really quite good on average. Seasonal decline is one thing, turning round and just betraying everything you spent seasons setting up for the sake of a cop-out ending is quite another.

This doesn’t mean I’m expecting every piece of media I look into to be a work of art, something that should be marvelled at and admired by all, but I don’t want to feel as though the people behind it just… couldn’t be bothered at the last, and threw something together to just get it out of the way and done with. As people who have done that for school work will tell you; it is a very rare happening that it works out as something brilliant. And when I say rare, I mean something other than have scraped an alright pass/just a pass. I mean… to have managed to come away with the best mark that you have ever received or ever will without having put a single bit of work into is rare.

But then we have the issue of the sense of entitlement. Is – for lack of a better term – demanding that creators put more effort into all aspects of their work being too much of a child demanding the thing that they want, even after their parents or guardians have said no? It’s a fine line in a grey area, but it is one that can possibly be said to be a little clearer on one side rather than another.

While, yes, technically it is a bit entitled of us as fans, it is also a great showing of faith in the creators of our media. We believe so much that they can do so better than what they are providing, that we become very impassioned when they do not do so. We want to see them giving 110% all the time, because it feels like that is the effort we put into the media as fans.

It isn’t an unreasonable thing, wanting creators to respect their audiences and treat them with a modicum of intelligence. There is the flip-side, of course, of audiences not judging too quickly, and giving the creators time to show us what it is they have managed to plan out, but the difference there is that fans will react instinctively; creators have had time to make their media, and work out any problems that they can see, making it the best they can be

So yes, you are well within your rights to expect something good

… Just don’t be overly spoiled in that very irritating manner about it.

Z McAspurren

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Carpe Diem: Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society poster

Wanderers, we return with a review of a classic film: Dead Poets Society. Made in 1989, directed by Peter Weir, and starring Robin Williams in an early role, the film epitomises and caricatures the upper-class end of the 1950′s American education system.

The film focusses on a group of students: Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen), Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman), Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero), and Gerard Pitts (Leon Pownall) – senior students of the Welton Academy, an elite prep school, whose ethos is defined by the headmaster Gale Nolan as “tradition, honour, discipline and excellence”.

The teaching methods of their new English teacher, John Keating (Williams), are unorthodox by Welton standards, including whistling the 1812 Overture and taking them out of the classroom to focus on the idea of carpe diem. He tells the students that they may call him “O Captain! My Captain!,” in reference to a Walt Whitman poem, if they feel daring. In another class, Keating has Neil read the introduction to their poetry textbook, prescribing a mathematical formula to rate the quality of poetry which Keating finds ridiculous, and he instructs his pupils to rip the introduction out of their books, to the amazement of one of his colleagues. Later he has the students stand on his desk in order to look at the world in a different way. The boys discover that Keating was a former student at Welton and decide to secretly revive the school literary club, the Dead Poets Society, to which Keating had belonged, meeting in a cave off the school grounds.

The revival of the Dead Poets Society, along with other events occurring in Keating’s lessons, leads to adventures and discipline, culminating in the death of one of the students and the termination of Keating’s contract.

The critical reaction to this film was favourable; The Washington Post called it “solid, smart entertainment”, and praised Robin Williams for giving a “nicely restrained acting performance” Vincent Canby of The New York Times also praised Williams’ “exceptionally fine performance”, while noting that “Dead Poets Society… is far less about Keating than about a handful of impressionable boys”.

Film critic Roger Ebert’s review was mixed, two out of four stars. He criticized Williams for spoiling an otherwise creditable dramatic performance by occasionally veering into his onstage comedian’s persona, and lamented that for a movie set in the 1950s there was no mention of the Beat Generation writers. Additionally, Ebert described the movie as an often poorly constructed “collection of pious platitudes [...] The movie pays lip service to qualities and values that, on the evidence of the screenplay itself, it is cheerfully willing to abandon.”

There are some films that, if you watch them for the first time at the right age, have the capacity to inspire and embolden you: Dead Poets Society is one such film. It is not a film that it is cool to admit loving. It is uncynical, idealistic and hopeful – not qualities one necessarily associates with film snobs, but what it lacks in critical kudos it has recouped in audience appreciation. It has been voted the greatest school film and it is often cited by viewers as one of the most inspirational films of all time.

I would give this film 4.5/5 as although it is hard to beat, some of the themes, particularly towards the end, are unsettling.

Hannah Carter (is going to have a bit of a cry now)

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2 B A Master: A Pokemon Journey

Today – as in the day this is being written, not the day you’re reading it – for the first time in a really long time, I’ve made it to the Elite Four in Pokémon, specifically Pokémon X. Exp Share was really one of the best things that happened with the new generation, and if people want to moan and say it makes it too easy, I will be prepared to glare at them so very hard. Seriously; the amount of times I’ve grinded for hours with no real progress for my team… That’s not the point of this article, which I’m not entirely surely has a point as such. All I’m really aiming to do here is get across how much I like Pokémon, and how glad I am I was able to get a copy of the newest generation. So… let’s start at the beginning.

My first Pokémon game was Yellow. Yeah, the one that was more based on the anime. Well, there are reasons behind it, which basically boil down to not being able to find Red or Blue anywhere when I realised that I wanted to try this game everyone else was raving about, and by that time pre-orders were out for Yellow and… you get the idea. For a younger Z, the experience of going out, asking, and receiving a game that was meant solely for herself was actually a pretty awesome thing I was not the gamer of the family, and at most I would play the Sonic or Mario games. But finding that one game, the one that really opened up the idea of video gaming as a past time to me? It was a memorable moment. Even to the point where I got truly upset when the store I would get my games from went into liquidation, but the economy is not strong and businesses go bust all the time. Moving on.

It’s a simple story, but there are a lot of people out there with the same tale. Oh sure, little details will change; but for a lot of us the Pokémon games were the first that we played. And even if it’s not, there are a lot of people who have played the games, and they will hold their starter generation close to their heart; though I’d personally rather not hear arguments trying to place one generation above another, thanks very much. Now, personally, I started to get back into the franchise round about … HeartGold or Black. I have both, but can’t quite remember which one I purchased first. Honestly? I was amazed by the changes in graphics, and just how lovely the designs were. And shush, lovely is so a phrase that can be used here.

Then along came X. Oh dear Wanderer, the joy that X has brought me.

Visually, of course, it’s the best game so far. How can it not be? For the first time, we’re seeing everything in three dimensions, and the actual Pokémon themselves look brilliant in this sprites. And then the part of the game that actually lets you interact with your Pokémon, and develop a connection with them. For years, the games have been saying how you as a trainer have such a deep bond with your team, and for the first time, you’re actually able to go off and create this bond. It’s a beautiful thing. (Also; in terms of starters, Fennekin is the most adorable this time round, and its evolutions are actually awesome as well. Fire starters are so cool.)

I know, of course I know, that there are games out there that are technically considered ‘better’ games, but I’m not someone who games professionally. I mean, even with a really simple game, I like to take my time, and draw out the playing process as long as I can fully enjoy it. But for me, and I can only assume that there’s many others with the same sentiments, Pokémon is that game that I will never tire of. I can only wait with excitement to see what changes and improvements the next generation will bring, and what bad guys my team and I will have to face off against in our journey to become the best that we can be.

It’s going to be awesome.

Oh, and before anyone asks; Yellow is my favourite for nostalgia reasons, and I think Black/White have the best plot.

Z McAspurren (“I wanna be the very best…”)

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You Sure Know a Lot About Monsters

Wanderers, I’m very picky when it comes to what type of horror I will partake in. I don’t really know if there is a reason behind this, other than I find horror to be a very wide genre, and that my tastes for what I want to watch or read change depending on the mood I’m in. Which, yeah, fair enough, is probably the same for many of our dear readers. One type of horror I always like though is the classic Universal Monsters. Ah, those films are just glorious films to be watching, and are some of the best horror I’ve ever seen. But that’s a personal opinion, and not what we’re looking at today. Nope, today we are looking at a movie that pays a loving homage to Universal Monsters, and takes a fond jab at other cliches within the horror genre. And, at a PG-13 rating, it’s technically a family film. We’re looking at the 1987 cult classic, The Monster Squad.

Monster Squad poster

Okay, so how to describe this film in a short summary? It’s about this group of kids who are huge monster fans, who end up having to battle against the monsters they idolise in order to save the world. It’s a bit simplistic, but I think that will do quite nicely. Directed by Fred Dekker, the movie is a cult classic, and having viewed it, I can say it’s for good reason. The Monster Squad clearly loves its source genre, and loves to point out the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculous in such a fond manner that you can’t help grinning along.

Now, like most movies that focus on a group of kids having adventures (shush, I’m generalising with broad strokes) the majority of the actual Squad itself is made up of young teenage boys. One of which is actually genuinely one of the coolest kids ever portrayed in film. My point is this; Dekker and writer Shane Black – yes, him who directed Iron Man 3 – made a point of making the dialogue feel realistic to the ages of the characters in the movie. This means that, yes, there are some uses of language that would make most of us cringe a little. However, Dekker has responded to this at a Q&A and did explain his aim of making it feel real in that sense.

Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the characters are all likeable people. They have their flaws, and their strengths, and are genre savvy enough to be able to know when what they are doing is a bad idea… but unfortunately, there isn’t anyone else around who believes them. Well, there’s Scary German Guy, but he’s old and … well, a scary German guy. (It makes sense in context. Sort of.) He’s also a really cool person, and spoilers if I go any further. Which happens with a lot of the good stuff of this movie, sadly. I want to tell you more, but it will spoil some of the little twists and turns, and even some camera work and scene set ups.

So, that leads me to wonder; what can I say about Monster Squad? Well, that it’s a really awesome movie with really cool visuals and some of the best monster designs in years. It’s also funny, and has a lot of heart, a lot of which is just due to the fact of how clearly the creators love the classic horror monsters. They are a legitimate and worrying threat in this movie, which is nice considering the rise of other horror individuals who have perhaps overshadowed the classics a little.

When you watch the movie, it becomes clear as to why it is so fondly remembered by many and, despite not actually having seen the movie until recently, I think I can safely join the list of fans. If you’re looking for horror that’s funny and self-aware, I’d definitely recommend this The Monster Squad.

Z McAspurren (knows there’s only one way to kill a werewolf)

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Fandom As a Way of Connecting with Those You’re Close To

Wanderers, it’s been a while, but I’m so glad to be back. In my time away, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what fandom actually means to me, and the impact it has on my day-to-day life. For me, as for many, fandom has been a way of connecting with new people, but lately it’s been a way to connect more deeply with people I’m already close to.

I can hear the Editor shouting at me to crack on with the article, so I’ll cut to the chase. What on earth do I mean by ‘connecting with those you’re closest to’? I’m going to have to use a personal example. A friend of mine – someone I’ve worked with for a few years – knows I’m a big Supernatural fan. He’s not all that fussed, but he’s a big fan of a similar show, Grimm. He recommended I watch it, and in doing so, and in sharing that experience with him, I have become much closer to him. The act of sharing something we feel passionate about has always been a way humans use to form close emotional bonds to others, and fandom – so far as my experience allows me to generalise – is an extension of that.

Here we have talked many times about the ways in which fandom brings people together regardless of differences and distance, but personally I had never considered the effects of fandom closer to home, despite that being where the majority of us experience it on a day-to-day basis. So why does the sharing of passion and enthusiasm bring us closer to people? I can’t help but feel, Wanderers, that the things we are passionate about reveals some of the most hidden truths about us, and sharing those with someone – someone who already knows us, but is maybe missing a part of the puzzle of what makes us who we are – helps them to know us on a deeper level, to form a stronger bond with them. In a similar way, being introduced to a new show or fandom by someone you already know brings with it a certain level of security; you trust that they know you enough to be aware of any potential triggers or uncomfortable topics, and that they will direct you towards positive media which will enhance your experience rather than have a detrimental effect.

In allowing someone to introduce us to something new, in sharing that with them, and being a part of their experience as well as them being a part of theirs, you add a whole new level into your relationship with that person. It allows you to recognise certain similarities between your two disparate existences and forge strong links between your existence and theirs (I can almost hear the Editor rolling her eyes).

I would always recommend sharing something you’re passionate about with someone you already know. I would always recommend not only sharing the fandom experience with them, but the experience of viewing or participating in the media – it brings a different aspect into your relationship, not just with them, but with the media you’re reflecting on. Being able to share fandom with someone you can cry and laugh with, cling onto when something makes you jump, roll your eyes at when you encounter overworked clichés is something entirely different to doing those things online, and the physicality makes the viewing experience even more vivid.

So, Wanderers. Next time you come across something you think someone might like, take the plunge and ask them to hang out and watch it with you. You never know, you might find a whole new side to them.

Hannah Carter (really must say thank you…)

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The Ragamuffin Speaks: Digital Comics Float Up the Amazon

The big news in the world of comics this week is the acquisition of digital comic distributor ComiXology by the online book (and everything else) seller Amazon. In the early days of digital comics…well, some would argue that we’re still in the early days of digital comics, so…in the earlier days of digital comics the general consensus of opinion was that digital comics needed a “go-to” site that was synonymous in the minds of the buying public with digital comics, much as digital music has iTunes and online book selling has Amazon. There were many candidates touted as being just that, most notably Longbox. I’m betting that most of you don’t even remember Longbox, its clunky interface ultimately disappointing everyone on arrival and seeing it instantly sink without trace. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came ComiXology, and it managed to quickly cement itself as THE digital platform for comic books.

How did it do it? A mix of ease of use, intelligent pricing and canny deals with the biggest players in the industry. However, now that Comixology has been bought by Amazon the questions remains – what happens next? The general opinion I’ve seen expressed in all of the online commentary I’ve read on the deal so far seems to be – let’s wait and see, eh? Which is…well…unusually reserved for the comics industry, which tends to prefer apocalyptic predictions of doom and gloom.

I have, however, seen subtle murmurings that this might herald the end of the local comic shop as we know it. To be honest, there hasn’t been a development in the comics industry in the last decade that hasn’t been accompanied by subtle murmurings that it heralds the end of the local comic shop as we know it. The retail industry as a whole has suffered hugely, not only due to the prolonged recession but also due to the shift to online shopping. Many within the comics industry have tried to fend this off with what has generally amounted to little more than guilt trips. Pleas to support your local comic shop are common, despite the fact that this often leads to paying higher prices for your monthly books, missing issues that your retailer has forgotten to pull for you and that the general experience of entering a comic shop for people who aren’t straight, white males is often an unpleasant one. I’m going to be blunt here, calls to support your local comic shop tend to fall flat when it comes to UK comic creators. When you’ve released a fairly high profile graphic novel that’s been eagerly anticipated by many readers only to see a grand total of four orders placed by UK comic shops through Diamond, you start thinking, “Why should I support local comic shops when they don’t support me?”

Look, I understand that small comic shops have to be very careful when it comes to ordering indie books. I understand why they mostly stick to ordering books from the Big Two that they know they can sell. That’s just basic economics. But when high profile central London comic shops who undoubtedly get many tourists visiting their shop in search of genuine British comics don’t even have a single shelf in their store dedicated to UK independent comics then it starts to feel that the retail section of the UK industry just isn’t interested in seeing the creative side thrive.

Let’s contrast that with the support I receive from the digital side of the market. Comixology awarded my graphic novel, Hypergirl, the Comixology Comixologists’ Choice Award for best debut series and promoted it on their podcast. Their support people have contacted me on twitter to ensure that my creator page was accurate and up to date. My books have featured in their New Releases emails alongside books from Marvel and DC as they’ve treated indie books…including UK indie books…equally to books from the Big Two. Elsewhere in the digital comics world, Drive Thru Comics have repeatedly featured my work as their Pick of the Week and they went out of their way to find me and talk to me when I was exhibiting at C2E2 in Chicago to tell me how much they enjoyed my work.

To put it simply, the retail print side of the industry acts like I don’t exist, the digital side has done nothing but give me support and encouragement.

And, you know what? I don’t even read digital comics! I read all of my comics in print…but…I do order them online through the excellent Disposable Heroes. Because online shopping is the future of our industry, be it in print or digital. I don’t have to leave my house, I don’t have to engage anyone in awkward conversation, my comics just arrive at my front door every week (and sometimes they give me free comics too, thanks for the Moon Knight #1 guys!).

I don’t believe for a second that the future of comics is digital only. There’ll always be a demand for print comics in one form or another. All that is changing is the method by which we buy them…because the method by which we buy everything is changing. I tried to buy a DVD in central London the other day, I had to walk around for the best part of an hour before I found the one shop in central London that sells new DVDs. I could have bought the same DVD in seconds online. I had to buy car insurance the other day, everything was done online, my certificate of insurance was a digital document that I could print off at home. No need to call someone, no need for sending documents through the post.

So what does Amazon’s acquisition of ComiXology mean? It probably means direct ComiXology integration into the Kindle (well, the Kindle Fire at least), it probably means that when you search for pretty much any graphic novel or trade paperback on Amazon in the future you’ll have the option to buy the same material digitally and download it straight to your iPhone, tablet or Kindle. This can only be a good thing, from a creator’s point of view…if it is quicker and easier for people to obtain our books, even if they’re out of print or hard to get hold of in print, that can only work in our favour. For the UK indie scene in particular, for those of us who already have a decent presence on ComiXology, our work is about to get a whole lot more accessible.

Amazon wouldn’t have bought ComiXology if they didn’t believe that they could not only make money out of it, but also significantly grow the digital comics market. While the digital era hasn’t quite levelled the playing field between the indies and the Big Two as it initially promised it might, at least we are there, unlike in the print retail side of the industry, where our books are simply nowhere to be seen.

So, I’m quietly optimistic about this development. Or, in other words…I, for one, welcome our new Amazonian overlords.

Ian D Sharman

Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Fandom Wanderers.

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You Are Beautiful

As you might have picked up from suffering through the various different articles that I have been kindly allowed to contribute to Fandom Wanderers, I have a wide, and varying range of tastes. Now, some of these tastes are much easier to entertain than others, simply due to the availability of media at the time I feel like entertaining them at whatever period of time. As such, I’ve become very fond of when there are official uploads to sites like Youtube of different television shows, as it makes it very easy to experience new media, and gain a wider knowledge of just what is out there to be viewed. (And yes, before you ask, I am against region locking; I feel that, beyond other issues, it is just very frustrating.)

Now, the item in question today is actually a Korean language drama, that was made available to Youtube when it was uploaded by the network that aired it, to one of their channels. People made use of the ability to add captions to a video, and thus I was able to watch the entire show with English subtitles and bring you this review. The show? The 2009 drama You’re Beautiful.

So a basic plot summary? The Sound of Music meets Twelfth Night by way of an idol boy band. Yeah, as you might have guessed, this show is in part a comedy. We follow young hopeful nun to be Go Mi-nyeo, as she has to take her twin brother’s place, and cover for the fact he is away recovering from surgery, as he is due to start a new job as the fourth member of the extremely popular band, A*N. JELL. Go Mi-neyo finds life in the band … odd, to say the least. Lead singer Tae-kyung does not initally get on with her, and seeks to get her removed from the band when he discovers her true identity. However, through complicated matters, this does not happen, and the two grow closer together. Yes, it’s a romance as well. They really do pack a lot in these dramas.

So, apart from the basic cultural differences which tend to mean things being portrayed in a way that seems rather odd to me as a Western viewer, what did I think of the series overall? The word interesting comes to mind. In places, it seems rather like a parody of the idol singer life; something which research tells me really isn’t all that glamorous and can be rather gruelling for those in it. Of course, Korean pop music has become more popular world-wide, particularly after the immensely popular Gangam Style, so it is fun to see something that is – again, from research – making fun of the genre in a very fond manner.

Speaking of which, there are various musical performances in the series; and from my very limited knowledge of Korean pop music, I find the songs performed to be really quite enjoyable. Tae-kyung has the character trait of being a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to his music, being truly dedicated despite being in an area in which it’s usually left up to other people and not the performers themselves.

This does make one question how he has written so many love based songs, since personally the character is very stand offish and has not previously been in a relationship, but we can also assume that he knows what sells with his fans, and is happy to provide it if it means he can continue to make music. In a weird way, his dedication to music reminds me a little of the Phantom of the Opera. Just… with pop, and none of the insane murdering and stalking of a young dancer.

Hm, I’m trying to think what else I can say about this series. Go Mi-nyeo is actually very adorable naïve, in a way that makes complete and utter sense for her character, and the other characters in the show all provide entertainment and the ability to like them – which is a very big plus in my opinion.

Personally, I think I would need to advise that if you really want an opinion on this, it would probably be best to watch an episode or two of the series, and draw your own conclusions. I enjoyed it, but I will say it’s likely not to be to everyone’s tastes. But if you want a light little series, that has a lot of fun? Yeah, this would be a good one to check out.

Z McAspurren (needs her Crunchyroll account to let her have access to more dramas)

You’re Beautiful is available to watch here.

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Issue Forty-Five: A Note from the Editors

Hello, Wanderers!

Alas, there’s no letters page this issue, as you’ve all no doubt been very busy and our inbox has been sadly empty. However, if you want to fix that for next issue, you can find all the details you need to get in touch on our Contact Us page. In the meantime, we’re giving you an extra editorial to make up for it, and we promise the title isn’t supposed to make you feel bad – it’s all about shipping.

Right, onto business – we had a request a couple of weeks back (from Firefly on Facebook) for a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which we were only too happy to provide. We’ve gone the whole hog and got into the superhero spirit with reviews of The Avengers and Justice Leaguewhich happens to be our GUST for this issue.

On the more editorial side, we’ve got the usual suspects: our ‘Branding in Fandom‘ series continues with a look at two giants of the animated children’s film, we think about whether fandom’s as new a craze as it seems, and we’ve got some FW Tips on starting out as a collector.

Our regular column, ‘The Ragamuffin Speaks‘, is rather reflective this issue, and well worth a read, so don’t miss out.

We’re taking a brief hiatus next issue, due to some other projects the team need to work on, but we’ll still be around on our FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr pages, so don’t be strangers! Our next issue will be with you on the 12th of April, so make sure you’re back here to catch that. We’ll see you then!

Fandom Wanderers

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Heroes of the World: Justice League

Marvel Comics have managed to set up their own Cinematic Universe since the first Iron Man movie. In this issue, we’ve even looked at the triumphant result of what is called ‘Phase One’ of this universe – The Avengers. Logically, there must be those of you who are wondering what has happened to DC Comics in all this. Well, they’re getting there, very slowly, but they did already have a shared universe for their creations. It was known as the DC Animated Universe, or the Timm-verse, after Bruce Timm who was largely in charge for these creations. Primarily aimed at children, these cartoons managed to bring the full scope of what we knew from the comics, and relate it to their audience without ever speaking down to them. Now, since we’ve looked at The Avengers, let’s look at DC’s counterpart for them: Justice League

Justice League title card

Justice League, retitled Justice League Unlimited in its last three seasons, originally took seven heroes, and looked at how they worked together against various different evil doers. These original seven were: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and the Martian Manhunter. Once the first two seasons had past, they expanded, bringing in just about every character they could from DC Comics – though sadly, you won’t find much appearance from any of the supporting Batman cast or enemies, due to the ‘Bat embargo’ that was happening at the same time. This was due to the development of a new Batman cartoon, and Google is your friend here people, I’ll probably mess up the finer details. I shall say that the rare occasions the Joker showed up? They were superb.

From a design point of view, the look of the show is very… clean. All solid lines, bright colours, and clear character designs that make it a visual pleasure. It’s also meant that the look of the show has aged quite well, with not really much dating it. Since this was something that was made as consistent as possible across the entire DCAU due to the same creative team behind the majority of shows, it does make it a great thing to watch. Yes, the art did evolve, but it remained recognisable, and you never tuned in to find the characters had undergone a complete revamp, leaving you slightly confused as to why. (I’m looking at you, B:TAS).

Again, this series was primarily intended for a younger audience, but that didn’t mean that they would talk down, or simplify their plots or characters. While, yes, some aspects may have been edited to fit better within the context of the show and the time it would be airing at, the episodes which are adaptations of comic story lines held up very well in comparison to their origins. They complimented the source material, not insulted it. Actually, fun fact, the episode ‘The Man Who Has Everything’ was adapted from an Alan Moore story. Moore is famous for disliking the majority of adaptations of his work, and keeping his name from being associated with them. In the case of this episode? He happily lets his name be associated. Yeah, the DCAU managed what various films haven’t been able to do. Says a lot, doesn’t it?

It’s clear that the creative team, and voice acting crew, and well pretty much everyone who worked on the cartoon, had only the greatest respect for what they were putting out. They worked hard on every episode, and you can see over the course of the whole show, the writing improving, the stakes being higher, and the team constantly ever pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable for a ‘kids cartoon.’ If the DCAU proved anything to a mainstream audience, it was that cartoons need not be ‘just for kids’.

So yes, this is one of those that I would say if you get the chance to check it out, grab it with both hands. It is well worth just taking some time to yourself, and sitting and watching a few episodes. You will be entertained. Promise. … Unless you’re primarily a Marvel fan, in which case… check out X-Men, that’s fun too!

Z McAspurren (…Justice League need a cool little catch phrase.) 

Posted in GUST, Issue Forty-Five, Reviews, TV | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment