Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--You Heard It Here First Because I'm the One Who Said It
Column by Steve Bennett
Published: 08/08/2012, Last Updated: 08/13/2012 04:26am
Even though I'm a huge fan of the comic strip by Ham Fisher I could never have predicted Joe Palooka would ever be revived as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--The Unexpected Return of Joe Palooka"). In much the same way I never would could have imagined it would become an IDW comic (see "IDW Announces 'Joe Palooka'"); congratulations and good luck to all involved. But you know what this means, I'd very like to see Volume One of the Joe Palooka Library solicited in time for Christmas.
There I was, sitting quietly at home, minding my own business, when a commercial using footage from the Disney film John Carter came on. I thought it might be for the DVD release but no, it turned out to be a Public Service Announcement, part of a campaign from the Library of Congress and the Advertising Council to quote from the read.gov web page, "encourage children and adults to become engaged in reading and all forms of literacy." The spot ends with a voice-over encouraging viewers to go to read.gov where Edgar Rice Burroughs first Mars book, A Princess of Mars, could be read online for free.
For at least a couple of years they've been showing on TV the same spot for GameFly, the online video game subscription service. You know the one with the "Stop getting ripped off" tag-line where a group of kids and their grandmother try to sell a video game back to the store where they bought it and get offered... $9. They recoil in shock and horror, Grandma exclaims "That's a lot of baloney!" and, depending on the length of the commercials running time, the clerks react with either indifference or utter contempt.
I must have seen it hundreds of times and yet for whatever reason this time I suddenly found myself in the middle of a full blown retail flashback and heard myself telling the screen, "It's a little something we call 'capitalism,' Grandma." It's been a while since I've been on the other side of the counter so I actually had to sit down and do the math but... video games retail at $49.99 (if not more), so if your store actually sells used video games you'll want to sell them at roughly half full SRP which means $20 and since there's never any guarantee we'll ever be able to move the trade-in that $9 suddenly doesn't seem so out of line, does it?
It's hard to argue with the GameFly business model (i.e. renting video games makes a whole lot more sense economically than buying them) and I don't plan to, but making the retailer the fall guy is neither fair nor accurate. Or as the sage Ice-T (you know, the guy from Law & Order: SVU) once put it, don't hate the player, hate the game.
For a while now (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--The Old 52") I've wondered about Captain America's shield. Specifically why no one has ever bothered to come up with a reason, good, bad or indifferent, why a 20th century super soldier would carry armor not regularly used by Western forces for several hundred years. I assumed Captain America: The First Avenger would at least raise the issue, but no such luck. Then finally the obvious occurred to me; maybe he’s a soldier without a gun because he’s meant to protect--us. I have no way of knowing whether this was what Joe Simon or Jack Kirby had in mind when they created the character, but it makes sense.
I went out of my way to praise Bryan Fuller's upcoming Munsters remake Mockingbird Lane (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--This Is How You Do It") as "the right way to do a reboot." Well, I don't want to judge the project sight unseen but I may have to modify that opinion as a detail concerning the series came out during Comic-Con. That being The Munsters eat people. Maybe this is yet another example of me being out of touch but this sure seems like a misguided attempt at seeming 'edgy.' If this was going out via cable, pay or basic, transgressive content like this might get you eyeballs, but it's going to be on NBC, during prime-time... and it's hard imagining a large swath of middle America embracing what sounds like The People Under The Stairs: The Series.*
* Which is a reference that might work better if more people knew Wes Craven's 1991 movie The People Under The Stairs. It's a surprisingly effective urban horror movie that uses economic disparity as well as the issues of race and class in ways lots of serious movies still shy away from. Plus it's about people who live under stairs that, um, eat people.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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