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Comic Con and What We Can Expect From the Comics World

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Marvel Comics opted out of this year's Comic Con, leaving an odd vacuum that DC Comics was strategically placed to fill. During the onslaught of superhero films that have reigned on Hollywood audiences in recent years, Marvel properties largely were the overwhelming benefactor. We've seen Marvel properties – Captain America, The Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man – pumped out regularly with film series lasting with half a dozen or more installments.

DC Comics has had trouble, however. Batman is the only character it really pursued and, after reaching its height with The Dark Knight, the series was prematurely cut short when one of the main actors in the series, Heath Ledger, died tragically from complications relating to opiate use. It seemed clear in The Dark Knight Rises that Joker had been intended to play a large role and Bane, a character who was only a side villain in the Batman world, took on an awkward primordial role in that film.

The Superman films likewise had trouble and took on a full on reboot after Superman Returns, X-Men director Bryan Singer's largely unsuccessful try at Superman. Man of Steel met a lot of acclaim and is fairly popular with fans but it was another reboot – it told the Krypton origin story and didn't delve deep in to the character we all are familiar with.

Henry Cavill was a hit in the role of Superman and is continuing on for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, alongside Ben Affleck, who is taking on the Batman role from Christian Bale, and Gal Gadot, who is playing Wonder Woman. I've heard both good and bad about this film but, whatever people think of Affleck (his role is the most frequent complaint), the trailer shows an effort to portray these characters well. Gadot's Wonder Woman looks excellent and channels the woman warrior essence of the character.

Alongside Superman vs. Batman is another DC enterprise, Suicide Squad stems from a 1990s comic book by the same title. One of many antihero series to come from that era, Suicide Squad follows a team of villains who, in exchange for commuted sentences, take on dangerous missions for the government – missions that the government would not like to be openly connected with and would easily be able to blame on a group of rogue vigilantes and villains like the Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad features two characters that are critical to the Batman mythos and their presence in the film illustrates a possible interconnectedness and continuity for the DC Universe like exists in Marvel Studios films – Harley Quinn and The Joker. We only see glimpses of the Joker in the trailer for

Suicide Squad but he looks convincing. Jared Leto, cast as classic villain, looks to be putting his all in to it. Complete with tattoos, face paint and green hair, it's a different sort of Joker than we saw in the Dark Knight, possibly half way between the rogue madman of Heath Ledger and the comical criminal of Jack Nicholson. The Joker is a role that takes a lot out of actors – even Mark Hamill, in his animated series role, seemed to put a little too much in to the role. I actually smiled a bit as I heard Leto say “I'm not gonna kill you. I'm just gonna hurt you really, really bad.” That sadistic smile and that voice assured me that Leto was taking this role seriously.

Harley Quinn is a character originally created for Batman: The Animated Series. In the animated series, she played a girlfriend and accomplice to the Joker's mad schemes. In the comic books, her origins were explored further and she was revealed as an accomplished clinical psychiatrist who fell in love with the Joker while treating him at Arkham Asylum, an infamous asylum in DC Comics where most of Batman's villains end up.

The casting for Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad is exemplary – Australian actress Margot Robbie has the look down pat and seems to be very much engaged in the role. Part of the excitement around her role is that it would be bold for a comic book enterprise – Scarlett Johansen's Black Widow so far is the furthest we have seen of a forceful and independent female protagonist. We certainly haven't seen a good female anti-hero yet. If this can be done correctly, DC Comics and director David Ayer will have accomplished a lot.

Comic book enterprises aren't going away anytime soon and we have many reasons to be excited about what's to come from adaptations both of DC and Marvel properties, as well as properties from other studios. Let's hope they all live up to the hype.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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