Panther: First Look (No Spoilers)

By Priest January 30th, 2018, under Comics, Movies

Well, my date and I got stuck in LA traffic and almost missed it. But that story is for another time.

For African American audiences, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther will be a transformative experience. We have simply never seen anything at all like this: a huge blockbuster featuring a mostly-black cast with effects rivaling Avatar and where every dime of that budget is up there on the screen along with a powerful story that transcends the usual hype to actually achieve the impossible– entertain audiences of all ages.

Yes, in the name of God, bring the kids. I saw no moments in Black Panther that embarrassed me either as a grandpa or a minister. A little rough language here and there, but an efficient, crisp plot that just dances along a disciplined two-hour running length and a cast overflowing with brightly realized individual characters. You don’t sit there struggling to remember who is who, and there is no generic Central Casting dialogue to be found, here. The movie neither insults our intelligence by over-explaining or dumbing-down, nor does it lord it over us with technobabble. It is exhilarating fun. It feels like a block party and, hey, you’re invited. Parts of it are almost as much fun as Thor: Ragnarok, and, special bonus, this film has an actual plot.

There are at least four audiences for this film: Black Panther comic book fans, general comic book fans, African American general audiences and general audiences. This film offers high octane entertainment to all of these groups, but it will be the African American general audiences–who neither know nor care who I am–who will struggle the hardest to make it through the first act of this film without tearing up. The film’s glorious fairy tale of a highly advanced African civilization is enough to drop even the most cynical among us to our knees. A love letter to African Americans, the first half hour of this film had me wiping away tears at the sheer beauty of a people–my people–brought to glorious and amazing life in ways I never could on a static comic book page. Here, Black Panther finally had a soundtrack, and it is the soundtrack of my ancestors, my homeland. It was emotionally overwhelming and something I’d not quite prepared myself for. Read the rest of this entry »

Deathstroke vs. Batman

By Priest January 29th, 2018, under Comics

This miniseries has been in the works for nearly two years, having gone through several conceptual and format changes and originally presumed to coincide with the announced Batfleck film (now “The Batman” and directed by Matt Reeves). I doubt the DCEU film will echo much of our Deathstroke vs. Batman (though that would be fun!) but we’re spinning out of the momentum created by our Defiance arc into this, the ultimate custody battle between these mirror-image characters. As I see them: Batman is someone Deathstroke almost admires, if only Deathstroke weren’t so screwed up, Batman is someone he himself might have become. Deathstroke, meanwhile, is someone Batman is still capable of becoming if he compromises his self-discipline. This character study is an interesting challenge for me as a writer, and I am delighted to be reunited with artist Carlo Pagulayan– one of the most underrated and brilliant draftsmen working today–who launched the Rebirth Deathstroke two years ago.

Justice Lost

By Priest January 29th, 2018, under Comics

Sorry to be gone so long, I’m spinning a lot of plates these days. I am hearing very kind (maybe too-kind) things about “The People vs. Justice League” (which is actually the first half of a 10-issue run titled “Justice Lost”), which kind of surprises me a little in that I just assumed most fans would either not notice I was over there on JL or would hang me in effigy (as some are doing for my upcoming Deathstroke vs. Batman, a book that’s not even out yet and I am apparently being blamed for ruining Damian Wayne and Talia al Ghul).

The premise of my JL run is fairly simple: what if these people were real. What if there really were, in our real world, in our cynical, zero-sum, statically polarized Fox News vs. MSNBC world, a group of demi gods who has a clubhouse in orbit above us. How would the world respond to a real Justice League? My run wakes the world from it’s Silver Age (and even Grant Morrison-era) coma when what the team perceived as a relatively low-priority mission goes terribly wrong (issue #34). The starts the dominoes falling for the full ten issues, increasing the atmospheric pressure on this group of allies-if-not-quite-friends and forcing their philosophical differences to the surface. The point of the arc is to examine the question of what justice actually means in today’s deeply conflicted and unequal society, and how do the Justice League– a quaint Silver Age concept of people in gaudy costumes seated around a conference table– fit?

Relatively new guy Pete Woods is just a joy, an amazing gift to me for this run. Pete’s ultra-clean style clears away the noodly over-rendering as his amazing gift for storytelling adds depth to these scripts that is not actually on the page. It’s Pete using his head– and an amazing eye– to take these typed words to a new level. He is also a monster colorist whose approach to color adds our dramatic soundtrack to this work, giving it even more life and breadth. I’m just awed and so very grateful Pete took this on.

Unfortunately, Pete’s only got two hands, and we were unable to land an artistic partner who could co-create with us, which has resulted in several issues being drawn by several different artists. All of these folks are swinging for the fences and doing their best work, but the incongruity of art from issue to issue is not the best situation we could have hoped for. I am nonetheless grateful for just how hard each of them worked on getting things right, while the overall continuity of artistic vision couldn’t help but be compromised because everybody is drawing at the same time.

“Justice Lost” beats the drum toward the weekly event called “No Justice” and a completely new vision for JL on the way this summer.

January 2018 comics thread

By Dave Van Domelen January 18th, 2018, under Comics

Priest’s still pretty busy (JL is twice monthly!), so he might not answer any questions here for a while, but in the meantime talk amongst yourselves.

Priest Week – December 6!

By Dave Van Domelen December 3rd, 2017, under Comics

The final issue of Inhumans: Once and Future Kings (#5), the first Priest-written issue of Justice League (#34), and a neither first nor last issue of Deathstroke (#26) all hit stores this week!