Nov 032013
 

Free BirdsDespite being based on a book by homophobic writer Orson Scott Card (the same Card of the “Adventures of Superman” controversy earlier this year), the public either didn’t know or care, as “Ender’s Game” topped the box office this weekend with $28 million.

Meanwhile, “Free Birds,” the new movie about time-traveling turkeys who go back to the first Thanksgiving to prevent turkeys from ever being on the menu, debuted in fourth place with $16 million, behind “Bad Grandpa” and Morgan Freeman’s “Last Vegas” in #2 and #3 respectively. While the studio seems to be relying on the lead-up to Thanksgiving for success with “Birds,” I wonder if “Thor 2″ next weekend” will lessen its chances. Reviews for the film by critics are lackluster; “Birds” has a 21% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while some on Twitter have labeled it as a knock-off of “Chicken Run.” While it cost only $55 million to make, I’d imagine most of its success will come from domestic box office, as Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated outside of North America. I’m not sure how much the rest of the world will care about a movie about turkeys altering a holiday nobody but us celebrates. To get around this, Cartoon Brew reports that the foreign release of “Free Birds” will rename the holiday to “The Big Feast”…despite the heavily/clearly Thanksgiving-centric theme. Uh-huh.

“Gravity” fell to fifth place with $13 million, while “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2″ is in eighth place with $4.2 million.

A full list of rankings is available at Box Office Mojo.

Internationally, “Thor: The Dark World” (aka “Thor 2″) is raking it in overseas, as it’s opened ahead of the US. So far, it’s made $109.4 million since opening Wednesday. I fully expect it to decimate “Ender’s Game” (and possibly “Free Birds,” among other box office fare) when it opens this Friday, making “Ender’s” hopes lie with foreign box office take (since otherwise it’s a flop, having cost $110 million to make).

Mar 052013
 

Adventures of Superman (digital)The Orson Scott Card-writing-a-Superman-story saga’s apparently finally ended on an unexpected note. Card’s artist, Chris Spouse, has quit the story, not wanting to be involved in the controversy surrounding the whole thing. DC, in turn, has pulled the Card story, and says it’ll appear at an unspecified later date (while they “look…for a replacement artist”). The new, Card-free issue #1 will be written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Chris Samnee (who drew the Superman art in this post).

Of course, I view all of this as good news (though hope Spouse finds other work at DC), and now will consider buying the first few issues of “Adventures of Superman.” The only concern I have is that DC didn’t learn anything from all of this (per the “looking for a replacement artist” remark and some of their other actions of late), and really does try to shove this story into some future publication (like an Annual) after the ruckus has died down.

 

Feb 132013
 

Superman versus Muhammad AliYou might recall the controversy over Orson Scott Card writing for a few issues of a new digital-only Superman comic. Since the news was released, there’s been various calls for boycotting, etc., with the news making it even into non-comics media (NPR, LGBT magazine “The Advocate”). Today, DC Comics finally responded to “The Advocate” (and Fox News):

When The Advocate reached out to DC for an official comment, a company spokesman said, “As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”

Rather poor public relations to me—most conglomerates would’ve tried to throw out a line about how they’re “sensitive to the needs of our fans/LGBT readers/etc.,” or cite their gay and lesbian characters such as Batwoman (who headlines her own comic/has won GLAAD awards). But instead, they basically dodged the issue and wrote it off as just Card’s “personal views.”

While that may be the case (and DC can hire whoever they want), it doesn’t make for a good public image to sign a highly outspoken homophobe (who’s doing way more than just voicing his opinion) onto your second-highest-profile character (after cash-cow Batman), especially one who has a new movie coming out this summer. Never mind the general public’s view of superhero comics these days is likely either as: the modern equivalent of buggy whips; something that’s only aimed at “geeks”; or just as the source material for the “real” versions of superheroes, the movies/TV shows/video games. Throw in the equally “stellar” sales figures (100,000 copies is a “top-seller” out of 300 million Americans?!), and one would figure DC Comics would want to at least try to project a more welcoming image, among other much-needed changes to their (in my opinion) broken business model. But I guess not…

As for whether it’ll sell, I’m sure the issue will do well (“well” in the above-mentioned “100,000 copies = a hit” sense) despite the controversy: people curious about seeing what the fuss is about; the usual sales boost of a #1 issue; and fans in various comics forums who’ve made clear they either don’t care or side with Card’s views.

I also note that the PR statement refers to themselves as “content creators” and not just “comic writers/artists/etc.” I suppose it supports my theory that Time-Warner (and apparently now DC themselves) just see their assets as an “IP farm” for more lucrative movies, etc. instead of primarily as comic characters.

Feb 072013
 

retro_superman_1970sToday, DC Comics announced that it’ll be producing a new digital-only Superman anthology comic titled “Adventures of Superman.” The name, of course, is the same as the one used for the live-action 1950s TV show, plus the post-Crisis renaming of the original Superman title for some number of years. Since it’s a non-canonical anthology title, not only does Superman regain his proper costume (red shorts and all), but the stories don’t have to tie into the “New 52.” Good news for those of us who dislike the latest reboot-du-jour. There’s also a large roster of names who’ll be writing stories for this title.

Unfortunately, the initial stories will be written by sci-fi writer and outspoken anti-gay rights activist Orson Scott Card. And when I say “anti-gay rights activist,” I don’t mean just a mere “I don’t like the idea of gay marriage” level either—on top of various public remarks against gay rights, Card’s on the board for the National Organization for Marriage, an organization campaigning against same-sex marriage.

It seems rather sad that DC’s decided to lead off their new Superman series with Card. It also seems to work against DC wanting to update their books’ image to reflect today’s world, especially when their own series “Batwoman” features an openly gay lead character and won some GLAAD awards. There’s also DC’s existing issues since the “New 52″ reboot with minorities as it is, per their treatment of female characters plus how quick they were to cancel their few books starring Black characters not related to Batman.

The website Bleeding Cool weighed in on this mostly in Card’s defense, despite some specious logic. One Million Moms, you’ll recall, is the same group that wanted to get the adult Kevin Keller’s wedding issue off Toys R Us’ shelves, lest children see that gays aren’t Satan’s second cousins, I suppose. Also contrary to the blog post, Card doesn’t merely “believe something very different to what I do”… he’s on the board of a group actively working to discriminate against a sizable portion of the population. I’m sure various comic writers whose work I read don’t have views that match mine, but I doubt any of them are front and center in working on promoting discrimination like Card does…

Depending on the writer, I might buy the new “Adventures of Superman” series (since it’s not tied to the New 52). However, I definitely won’t be buying the initial Card-written storyline.

On a final note, while one can write a character who doesn’t share one’s point of view (I doubt the “Simpsons” writers would agree much with Homer’s boorish beliefs), I’d assume the Man of Steel would be in favor of same-sex marriage/not discriminating against gays, per Superman’s welcoming and non-discriminatory personality. There’s also that one of his own supporting cast members is openly gay—Metropolis cop Maggie Sawyer.