This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is me highlighting and celebrating Superman: Earth One, a 2012 graphic novel from DC Comics that gave us a unique version of the Man of Steel. Superman has had many iterations over the years. Some are more memorable than others. But Superman: Earth One gave us something special. As a story and a take on this iconic character, it delivered a Superman that has only gotten better with age. And I break down why in this video. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: DC Comics
Superman Earth One Video: The Most Underrated Man Of Steel
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, superhero comics, writing, YouTube
How The New DC Cinematic Universe Can Succeed (Or Fail)
This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a deep dive into the past, future, and potential of the DC Cinematic Universe (a.k.a. the DCEU). Now that it’s all but official that the whole endeavor is getting revamped, I explore what the new DCEU needs to do in order to succeed and the potential pitfalls it might face. I’m genuinely rooting for DC and Warner Brothers to succeed. But they will face major challenges to become a full-fledged cinematic universe.
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men, YouTube
Bracing/Preparing For The End Of Comixology
Just a few years ago, Comixology was the center of the world for comic fans like myself. It was the primary hub through which we accessed the comics we know, love, and consume on a weekly basis. It made Wednesday mornings the best day of our week. Instead of trying to figure out how you’d get to a comic book store, you just rolled out of bed, turned on your computer, and purchased the books you wanted for the week.
I started waking up at 4:30 a.m. every Wednesday morning, just to get a head start on new books. Once Comixology started publishing new comics the same day they came out in stores, the floodgates opened for me. I suddenly had the perfect avenue to enjoy comics as I saw fit. And I genuinely loved it. Comixology had a special place in my heart.
Then, February 2022, that all changed. And years from now when we’re looking back on the history of comics, we might look at this moment as the beginning of the end for Comixology. Because that was the day that once-iconic website that we came to know and trust over the course of a decade disappeared. Instead, it was folded into Amazon’s Kindle store, a hub that was not designed for comics and not at all equipped to provide the same experience.
I remember that moment well. I just kept constantly trying to get back to the old site, only to be redirected to Amazon at every turn. I kept saying “I hate this!” again and again. I reached out to Comixology support, who have always been so responsive. They didn’t respond this time. They made public statements claiming they were committed to improving the interface. Absolutely none of those promises have been kept and it’s been over a fucking year.
Now, the story of how Comixology got folded into Amazon is a long one that I won’t recount. Amazon has actually owned Comixology since 2014. But that really wasn’t an issue because it didn’t change the site, the experience, or the service. If you didn’t see the Amazon logo on the front page, you probably wouldn’t have known that Comixology was an Amazon-owned company.
But for reasons that probably have to do with greed, arrogance, callousness, and cost-cutting, Amazon decided Comixlogy had to be completely integrated with their Kindle store. In addition, over half the staff working at Comixology was fired. And even though Amazon is a trillion-dollar company, the experience still sucks. The web reader still sucks. And I’ve yet to find a single person who prefers to the new site over the old Comixology site.
It’s now at a point where the future of Comixology, as a whole, is very much in doubt. Amazon didn’t care enough to keep the workers who made Comixology great, nor do they seem to care about providing the same experience that past customers grew to love. And once big corporations stop caring, you can assume things will never get better.
It’s at a point now where major publishers are taking notice. For years, Comixology was the perfect middleman for publishing companies. They provided the digital storefront while the publishers provided the comics. They share in some of the profits and everyone is happy, including the customers. Now, that dynamic is all screwed up and unhappy customers are not good for business.
Now, Marvel and DC Comics are investing heavily in their own digital comics services. I’ve sung the praises before of Marvel Unlimited, the Netflix-like service that essentially allows fans to binge Marvel’s vast catalog of comics. DC Comics is developing a similar service called DC Infinite. At the moment, these services don’t offer the newest issues. You usually have to wait 30 days for them to come out on the site.
But with these publishers shutting down applications that once integrated with Comixology, I think the stage is set. Publishers now have an incentive to cut ties with Comixology completely and develop their own apps. That will be quite devastating to the many smaller publishers and indie comics that once relied on Comixology’s brand to get their work out there. But I fear it’s already too late for them.
This likely means that if you’re a Marvel or DC fan, getting your favorite comics every week will eventually require you go through them instead of Comixology. That means learning how to use Marvel Unlimited and DC Infinite fast. It also means looking at your current collection and gauging which comics you’ll be able to keep and which will be at risk. That’s going to be tedious and you may lose some stuff you legitimately paid for. But don’t expect Amazon to care enough to fix it for you.
I’m already preparing. As soon as Marvel Unlimited starts offering some way of getting new comics the date of publication, I’ll have a very good reason to ditch Comixology. I still rely on it for a number of non-Marvel and non-DC titles I follow. But alternatives are already popping up. Hopefully, they get to a point where they offer a better value than Comixology/Amazon.
This transition is going to suck. There’s no way around it.
Chances are it’s also going to mean more money than we’d be spending if Comixology had remained unchanged. There’s no way around that, either.
But that’s the world we live in. It sucks and it will get worse before it even begins to get better. I take no pleasure in saying this, but this is where we are right now.
An AI-Generated Comic Was Denied Copyright Protection (And Why That’s A Big Deal)
Every now and then, a story slips under the radar of a much larger, but closely related story. The larger story makes more headlines and attracts more attention, but the smaller story might end up having a far more lasting impact.
That seems to be happening a lot with news involving artificial intelligence and the various AI tools that have emerged in recent years. I’ve already talked about plenty, giving my opinion on the rise of ChatGPT and showing off some AI-Generated artwork I made. There’s so much going on in this field that it’s hard to keep up with, let alone discuss.
But recently, one of those little stories caught my attention. It involves the same AI-Generated art I mentioned earlier and comic books, something for which I’ve shared my passion for in many forms. And it’s a story that I don’t think is getting enough attention.
It has to do with a comic called Zarya of the Dawn, a comic created by Kris Kashtanova. It’s not published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, or any other mainstream comic publisher. You can actually download it right now for free. But what makes this comic different isn’t the story, writing, or style. It’s how it was made.
This comic was written by a person.
However, all the artwork inside was created with AI-generating art tools, most notably MidJourney.
That, in and of itself, is quite remarkable. The visuals within this book are certainly eye-catching. They might not rank on the same level as a Jim Lee or a Jack Kirby, but it’s a solid visual spectacle that brings to life a story.
For people like me, who cannot draw and don’t have the money to pay artists to depict the stories we want to tell, this is truly remarkable. I would go so far as to say it’s genuinely exciting. It shows just what’s possible with these tools. A writer with no drawing skills was able to produce this comic using only an AI art generating tool with text prompts. And the end result is stunning.
But this is where the story takes a turn. When Kashtanova attempted to copyright this comic, the US Copyright Office issued a surprising decision that might very well set a major precedent moving forward. Because the comic used AI to create the artwork, it could not be granted copyright protection. This was the exact statement, according to Ars Technica:
“We conclude that Ms. Kashtanova is the author of the Work’s text as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the Work’s written and visual elements. That authorship is protected by copyright. However, as discussed below, the images in the Work that were generated by the Midjourney technology are not the product of human authorship.”
That bolded part is my doing because that’s the section with the biggest implication. This is the US Copyright Office stating outright that images and artwork created by AI can’t get copyright protection. That means that every piece of AI art you create for whatever reason can’t be owned by you in any legal sense. Because technically, you didn’t make it. The program made it for you.
Without getting too deep into the legal issues, I don’t think enough people realize the ramifications this might have for the future of the comics industry and for the art industry as a whole. On the comics side, there are actually two sides to consider.
On one, this technology will allow ordinary people with little to no art skills to produce comics with quality artwork. People who never once had the skills or means to make comics could suddenly start producing them on their own without a publisher or a skilled artist.
That means many great comics that wouldn’t have otherwise been made can be made. Great stories that once only existed with words could be brought to life through beautiful renderings.
But on the other side, the absence of copyright protection is an issue. Yes, these comics could bring to life amazing stories. However, the creators won’t be able to monetize their work, nor would they be able to stop others from using it for their own ends.
That means that, in theory, you or I could create a beautiful comic with this technology. It could find a massive audience and become a beloved story with countless fans. Then, a big company like Disney or Warner Brothers could come in, take the story and the depictions, and basically turn it into their own entertainment product. And since they have more resources and better lawyers, the creators likely wouldn’t get a penny of the profits.
This story also doesn’t account for how those same companies might use this technology to further undercut their workers and creators. Comic companies already have a not-so-great reputation for screwing over writers and artists who create iconic characters. Just look at what happened between Jack Kirby and Marvel for a hint of those issues.
If these same companies can use this same AI technology to produce more comics while not having to pay their artists or writers as much, they will do it. They’re a business. They’ll jump at any chance to pay less to get more. It’s cold, callous, and uncreative. But that’s the world we live in.
Add other tools like ChatGPT into the mix and it’s entirely possible that an AI could create an entire comic from scratch. And everything within it, from the art to the story to the characters, could not be copyrighted in any way. At a certain point, the AI might get so good that it would be hard to tell if there was ever a human creator to begin with.
These are all strange scenarios, equal parts exciting and distressing. We’re already seeing so much change as a result of these new tools, but I don’t think we’ve even seen a fraction of what’s possible. As AI technology improves, art generation and storytelling will change a great deal. The comics industry is more vulnerable than most, as Zarya of the Dawn just proved.
It’s hard to know what this will lead to. But whatever happens, it all started with this story and the precent it set.
Filed under AI Art, Artificial Intelligence, ChatGPT, superhero comics, technology, writing
Jack Quick Reacts: Harley Quinn A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special
This video is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. And it’s another entry in my ongoing Jack Quick Reacts series in which I react to Harley Quinn’s “A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special.” Enjoy!
Filed under HBO Max, Jack's World, LGBTQ, romance, superhero comics, superhero movies, YouTube
Thanking Henry Cavill And The Past, Future, And Importance Of Superman
Recently, fans of Superman, superhero movies, and DC Comics got some sad, but unsurprising news. In light of the new regime at Warner Brothers Discovery headed by James Gunn, Henry Cavill will not return to play Superman. This news came less than a month after he made a surprise cameo in a post-credits scene in “Black Adam,” which initially renewed hopes that he would return as part of a new direction for the DCEU.
Now, it seems that same DCEU that initially began with Henry Cavill’s Superman in “Man Of Steel” is officially over.
As someone who saw that movie in theaters the week it came out and was convinced that Cavill was the right man for this icon of icons, I’m quite disappointed, even if I’m not too surprised. I don’t deny that movie had its flaws. I also don’t deny that the DCEU has had many flaws since its inception. It tried very hard to catch up with Marvel Studios. And while it certainly had some hits like “Joker” and “Wonder Woman,” it had far too many misses.
But I’d rather not dwell too much on everything that went wrong with Warner Brothers, DC Comics, and how they went about making these movies. I’m sure there will be plenty more said and revealed in the coming years about how it got to this point. From the origins of “Man Of Steel” to the drama surrounding “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” I suspect we still only know part of that story.
But regardless of what the full story might be, Henry Cavill and his approach to playing Superman was not the issue. He truly embraced the character. He really did seem to appreciate the spirit and importance of Superman and everything he stands for. Now, someone else will be wearing that iconic costume in the next Superman movie. We can only hope that, whoever it ends up being, he appreciates it just as much as Cavill.
That kind of appreciation for a character is not a trivial matter. I know you could say that about a lot of iconic characters that have made it to the silver screen, but Superman is different. Superman is unique with respect to his place in the world of superheroes, pop culture, and our collective imagination. He represents far more than simply being the prototypical hero by which all modern heroes are measured.
That may just sound like the inherent bias of someone who loves comic books and superhero media, but I promise there’s substance to that sentiment. And whenever I hear Henry Cavill talk about Superman, I get the sense he understands that substance more than most.
To appreciate it, you need only take a step back and look at who Superman is and what he represents. It’s not just that he’s perfect manifestation of our modern heroic ideal. Superman is a character who essentially casts a purifying light on a cynical world. For both the audience, as well as the fictional world he inhabits, he is someone whose power is great, but his motivations are simple.
He just wants to help.
He just wants to do the right thing.
There’s nothing complicated, nuanced, or elaborate. There doesn’t have to be with Superman. He is just a big, strong boy scout. He’ll engage in an epic, multiverse-spanning fight Darkseid one day and save a cat from a tree the next. Both are equally important to him. He doesn’t even see it as being a hero. Being good, being kind, and doing the right thing is just part of who he is.
He wasn’t born on our planet, but he embraces Earth as his home.
He’s not human, but he embodies true goodness of humanity to the utmost.
You can call him corny, basic, overpowered, or any number of things that are born of cynical outlooks. But that doesn’t change who Superman is or why he matters so much. Whether he’s played by Henry Cavill or the late Christopher Reeves, his presence offers light in a world that seems so dark. His inherent goodness reminds us that there’s real power in kindness and compassion.
It doesn’t matter how overpowered he is or how much those powers have changed over the decades. You could keep giving him more and more powers. It still wouldn’t matter. Superman would still use them to help people. He would still use them for good. He’s a direct counter to the notion that power will always corrupts or heroes will always become jaded or bitter. Superman will keep doing what he does. He’ll never let the worst of humanity outshine what makes them good.
That, more than anything, is what makes Superman such an important character. He dares us to believe that doing good is more powerful than any feat of strength. The world might have changed a great deal since his creation in 1938, but the importance of doing good hasn’t. Even if Superman is perfectly good, the world around him is not. And his willingness and ability to do so much good with this vast power he possesses offers others perspective, as well as a beacon for hope that we can be better.
You could argue how much or how little “Man Of Steel” embodied that spirit. But you can’t argue that Henry Cavill embraced the hope that this character embodies. I also believe the world will need that hope for whenever the next Superman movie comes out, whoever ends up playing him.
Superman has endeared for as long as he has because what he stands for still matters. The world today has plenty of issues the likes of which Superman’s original creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, never anticipated. We’re a world so divided and torn, struggling to see the forest from the trees at a time when everyone insulates themselves in their own comfortable bubbles. But Superman’s inclination to just help people and do the right thing transcends all of that. The hope he inspires goes beyond arbitrary divisions.
We need that hope now more than ever.
We need a character like Superman to remind us that a man can fly, move worlds, and save the day for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.
Henry Cavill did his part for this character. For that, an entire generation of fans will be forever grateful.
But as sad as it is to see him move on from the role, let’s be ready to embrace a new version of Superman for a world that still needs him. I certainly am and I hope he can continue being that beacon of hope we’ll always need, inspiring us to both do better and be better.
Filed under DC Comics, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies
Justice League Gods and Monster: An Underrated Animated Gem (And Why DC Comics Should Revisit It)
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video revisits DC’s underrated 2015 animated movie, Justice League: Gods and Monsters. It was a bold movie that dared to retell and revamp the stories of its most iconic heroes, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Both the movie and the comic book tie-ins proved unique in so many ways. And while not much else came from this world, I try to make the case that it’s worth revisiting. Enjoy!
Heading To New York Comic Con 2022!
It’s finally here!
I’ve been waiting all year for it and with more anticipation than usual!
The New York Comic Con is finally here!
As I’m writing this, I struggle contain my excitement. It’s a familiar feeling I experience every year I’ve gone, but I’m still not tired of it. This year promises to be extra special.
After two years of being bogged down by the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Comic Con is set to return at full strength. That means no reduced capacity and no limited vendors. That means I’ll have to plan extra carefully in order to attend all the panels and get all the autographs I hope to get. But I’m willing to make that effort.
I even have a new costume this year that I can’t wait to show off. It cost me extra to get it customized, but I already feel it’s worth every penny.
So I hope New York is ready for me! Because I’m so ready for this.
New York Comic Con 2022, here I come!