There are no questions about zombies, the ending of Man of Steel, or superhero genitalia in this week's mailbag. I should be happy, but instead I'm just suspicious. What are you people planning?! Hrmm. Anyways, you'll have to content yourself with the best Avengers stories, why The Dark Tower can't be animated and a comparison of Goblin Kings. For now…
For-Eva and Eva
Dear Mr. Postman,
In your recent Postal Apocalypse column, you said you'd save for another day explaining why you thought the "whoops we ran out of money" finale of "Evangelion" was the greatest anime series ending ever. Guess what? The day to answer that question has arrived. Why do you call the original "Evangelion" finale the greatest?
That was as quick as I expected. Okay, let me first say that I'm not sure it's the best anime ending ever, but I do think the TV show is the best Evangelion ending by far.
So I enjoy the new Evangelion movies, but I don't think they're even trying to reach the literary and thematic depths of the TV show. They're beautifully animated, and they're fun, and they're so wildly different from the originals as to wow even hardcore Evangelion fans, but there's no longer the exploration of religion (especially Kabbalism and super-early Christianity) or psychology (Shinji being the ego, Rei the id, and Asuka the superego). It doesn't have the depth of the original Evangelion, and it's not really trying to. That's fine, obviously.
My problem with the original 1997 End of Evangelion movie is that it seems to come from a place of anger. Director Hideaki Anno famously made End of Evangelion partially because of Studio Gainax ran out of money for the Evangelion TV show's final two episodes, but also because of the fan outcry over how weird and non-conclusive those two episodes were. And apparently he was bitter about it, which comes through in his work — (spoiler warning for 16-year-old anime movie) everybody dies, the world ends, Shinji is still just as confused and bitter and messed up as he was in the show in not moreso, and Asuka is just as cruel. It's nihilistic and full of despair for humanity, and, to be honest, it kind of bums me out.
Compared that to the final two episodes of the Evangelion TV series, which are popularly held to be going on inside Shinji's head during the Human Instrumentality Project while it's basically collecting the souls of everyone on Earth and forcing them to evolve into a single mass entity. First of all, the TV show leaves the actual end of the world unresolved, and generally I prefer those sorts of open-ended works over those that spell everything out. But what I love is that in order to reach this state of evolution, or whatever is going on outside of his head, Shinji basically needs to accept himself, his flaws, his life, and his friends and family — he needs to go from being the broken, psychologically injured (and often whiny) boy of the first 24 episodes, and examine himself and become whole for the first time ever. He's hardly perfect, but he accepts his problems, and no longer lets them torment. Which he does.
Regardless of whether this means Shinji is now able to join the group-entity of the Human Instrumentality Project, I find this ending to be hopeful, powerful, and a better ending to the TV series, especially after its increasing and relentless darkness. This ending makes Shinji's journey feel worthwhile compared to End of Evangelion, which seems almost like punishment for daring to care about the characters. Maybe it's because the first time I watch the end of the Evangelion TV show, I was in a pretty dark place myself, and I desperately wanted to believe I could also accept my flaws and problems and move past them, and the Eva TV show made me hope that could happen. But no matter what I'll take Shinji's personal psychological salvation over the nihilism and horrors of End of Evangelion any day.
Stage of Ultron
If there's one thing Joss can be expected to do, it's destroy that which you love. With that in mind, what if Coulson ends up being Ultron?
That would be pretty devastating — I loves me some Agent Coulson — but I don't see it happening, and that's thanks to Agents of SHIELD. Clark Gregg is not only the star of the show, he's the primary thing that ties the show into larger Marvel movie-verse, and the show without him would be… problematic to say the least. ABC would never allow this, and for that I thank them.
That said, if somehow Coulson did become Ultron, it would be incredibly effective. The fan-favorite character dies in battle with Loki, is joyously returned as a Life Model Decoy, and then somehow gets corrupted into one of the Avengers' greatest foes? Oof. It makes me sad just hypothesizing about it.
Hey Mr. Postman,
So as I was re-reading The Dark Tower series and just wishing they would get on with a movie or series already, I decided to watch Afro Samurai. I came to a realization, The Dark Tower series is made to be animated. I no longer want a live action version, instead I think a M rated, semi-stylized animated story would serve the materiel so much better, not to mention quite a bit cheaper too. It would be easier to do movies with a mini-series in-between or just a full out TV series on FX or HBO.
On a side note: A semi-stylized animated series following the journey's of The Man With No Name would be pretty bad ass in itself. I'd take either of these, but really I just need to see The Dark Tower series.
That's a great idea. it would also sidestep a lot of the budget issues, even if Ron Howard still wanted to do several Dark Tower movies and a couple of TV shows — but it won't happen. There's just no market for non-comedy animation in America. There's sitcoms like The Simpsons and Family Guy, awesome shows like Archer, and weird stuff like on Adult Swim and ADHD (although even Adult Swim is getting increasingly live-action nowadays). Basically, unless it's funny, it's not getting animated in the U.S..
I don't really know why this — I mean, animation has invariably been considered a medium for children's entertainment here, although somehow we've slowly gotten around to admitting that cartoons can also be humorously entertaining for adults. But action/fantasy/grown-up cartoons just don't work in America. Maybe one day, though, in 10 or 20 years? If it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty sure The Dark Tower movies/shows will languish in development hell at least that long.
Assembling the Avengers
Dear Mr. Postman,
Where, oh where do I start reading Thor and Avengers comics? I've never bought a comic book in my life but, having seen the latest Marvel films, I'd like to get to know the universe a bit better. Any suggestions from you or your readers?
This is a great question, and I was actually wondering this the other day: I love the Avengers, but I don't have many Avengers comics. See, before 2000 or so, the Avengers weren't really Marvel's version of the Justice League, they were just a team — and a team with a very haphazard, constantly changing group of members at that. There are very few times Captain America, Iron Man and Thor were all in the same room together in the Avengers' first 40 years, and the Hulk was seriously only an Avenger for half an issue (#1). When Bendis took over the Avengers in 2004, he turned them into a superstar team (adding Spider-Man and Wolverine, which, honestly, was a great idea) but then new Avengers-branded comics kept coming and now there's like eight of them and they're so tied to every Marvel event it's really hard to just read a single story and know what the hell is going on.
But all is not lost! If you don't mind older comics, The Korvac Saga is an excellent stand-alone Avengers tale. The Kree/Skull War is another Avengers classic, but I'm not sure how it would up as someone's first comic. My favorite Avengers story if all time is Under Siege, in which the Masters of Evil come closer to destroying (and breaking) the Avengers than anyone else ever has, but again, I'm not sure I could recommend it as your first Avengers comic.
There are two suggestions I can whole-heartedly recommend, though: Avengers Forever by Kurt Busiek, which is just a love letter to everything Avengers, and which you can enjoy completely on its own. Even better is Warren Ellis' Endless Wartime, which came out earlier this year — it's fantastic, it stars the Avengers movie team plus Captain Marvel and Wolverine, it's fun, exciting, modern, stand-alone, and is almost certainly the best Avengers comic anybody could tart with. It's fantastic, seriously. And if you like that, pick up Avengers Forever, then Korvac, then Under Siege.
I tell you what, though. The best education in Avengers you could possibly get is by watching the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon, which is currently on Netflix Instant. It contains virtually all the big Avengers stories, includes Cap, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk in pretty much all of them, and updates and streamlines them all perfectly. Honestly, this Avengers cartoon is invariably better than the comics themselves, for these very reasons. Watch EMH and you will know everything you need to know about Marvel's premiere super-team.
As for Thor, I've heard some good stuff about some of the modern comics, but for my money no one is ever going to write better Thor stories that Walt Simonson's '80s run. This is not a bold statement — everyone loves Simonson's ˆ — but I read it for the first time a couple of years ago and it still holds up wonderfully. Plus, it has the added benefit of including the Malekith storyline featured in Thor: The Dark World. You can pick up the Omnibus, but if that's too much money to take a chance on, you can easily find trades or smaller hardcovers.
But these are my suggestions, and surely my post-apocalyptic acolytes have more. What else would you guys recommend to N00b?
Dear Mr Postman,
Who do you think is the better Goblin King?
Jareth of Labyrinth or The great Goblin of The Hobbit?
Also, how do you think they would fare in one another's scenarios? (If The great goblin was stealing a baby and if Jareth had some dwarves at his front door).
I'm afraid this question comes down to which you prefer more, cock:
I have to go with David Bowie here, because 1) he's David Bowie, 2) he's got magic powers, 3) he's got style and charm and 4) he rules over a large kingdom of varied subjects. The Hobbit's Goblin King is just an obese, shirtless dude who sings to himself sometimes, and you can get that on pretty much any episode of Cops.
If they switched, I have to imagine Jareth's intelligence and chutzpah would organize the goblins much more efficiently than their actual king did, and there would be a big pile of dwarf corpses amasses sooner rather than later. And if The Hobbit's Goblin King were whisked away to Labyrinth, something tells me he'd have a hard time convincing Jennifer Connelly to do anything. "Dude, you have balls on your face. Whatever you want me to do, the answer is no."
Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the firstname.lastname@example.org! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!