Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Disney Sequel Mania

Walt Disney was supposedly opposed to making sequels to his animated movies, other than his original plans for Fantasia, that is. And none were made during his lifetime.

But starting with The Rescuers Down Under in 1990, and really picking up steam with the direct-to-video Return of Jafar in 1994, Disney has turned incredibly sequel-friendly. Sometimes it seems that they are leaving no property untouched in their search for fodder to exploit for a DTV release.

How many films in their catalog has Disney used to spawn spin-offs in the last decade and a half? What follows is a list of Disney's full-length animated features (not including CGI movies or films done by the TV animation department), with reference to their respective spin-offs.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - Sequel planned but scrapped.
2. Pinocchio
3. Fantasia - Theatrical sequel
4. Dumbo - Sequel begun but scrapped. See Dumbo DVD for preview.
5. Bambi - Upcoming sequel
6. Saludos Amigos
7. The Three Caballeros
8. Make Mine Music
9. Fun and Fancy Free
10. Melody Time
11. The Adventures of Ichabod Crane
12. Cinderella - DTV Sequel
13. Alice in Wonderland
14. Peter Pan - Theatrical Sequel
15. Lady and the Tramp - DTV Sequel
16. Sleeping Beauty
17. 101 Dalmatians - DTV Sequel & TV series
18. The Sword in the Stone
19. The Jungle Book - Theatrical Sequel & TV series
20. The Aristocats - Upcoming Sequel
21. Robin Hood
22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - A veritable empire of spin-offs, though this was also preceded by the famous Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day cartoon.
23. The Rescuers - Theatrical Sequel
24. The Fox and the Hound - Upcoming Sequel
25. The Black Cauldron
26. The Great Mouse Detective
27. Oliver & Company
28. The Little Mermaid - DTV Sequel & TV series
29. The Rescuers Down Under - This *is* a sequel.
30. Beauty and the Beast - Two DTV Sequels
31. Aladdin - Two DTV Sequels & TV series
32. The Lion King - Two DTV Sequels & TV series
33. Pocahontas - DTV Sequel
34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame - DTV Sequel
35. Hercules - TV series & kinda-sorta DTV release
36. Mulan - DTV Sequel
37. Tarzan - Two DTV Sequels & TV series
38. Fantasia 2000 - This *is* a sequel.
39. The Emperor's New Groove - Upcoming Sequel & Possible TV series
40. Atlantis: The Lost Empire - DTV Sequel (actually remnants of scrapped TV series)
41. Lilo & Stitch - Two DTV Sequels & TV series
42. Treasure Planet
43. Brother Bear - Upcoming Sequel
44. Home on the Range

By my count, that's 28 sequels (29 with Dumbo II) and 9 TV series.

It's a pity that one of the movies that I'd like to see a sequel to, and which I think could support a good TV series, hasn't been touched at all. I'm speaking of The Great Mouse Detective. It's one of my favorite Disney films, and though it's sorely underappreciated, its characters are ready-made for re-use. After all, if Sherlock could support multiple stories, Basil could easily do the same.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Black Panther: Cap vs. T'Chaka

One of the hot-button topics of Hudlin's series has been the Captain America/Black Panther fight that was related in #1. It's a very well-drawn two-page spread by JRJR, but it has caused a lot of consernation among fans.

Way back during the "DC vs. Marvel" crossover, fans were asked who should win in a fight between Cap and Batman. That was when I was first exposed to the (apparently commonplace) Marvel belief that Cap is nigh-unbeatable. 'Captain America being bested by Batman? That's absurd!' I suspect it's that approach to Cap that accounts for some objections to that two-page spread. I'm primarily a DC boy myself, and I have no particular love of Captain America (I stand among the few who preferred Liefeld's eagle on the cowl to the 'A'), so I really don't care about how he performs.

But it's that final image that irks me:

That shot of T'Chaka carrying away Steve on his shoulder. It doesn't irk me because of what it says about Cap's fighting skills. After all, it's been pointed out that this is a fairly young Steve going up against an experienced fighter. Rather, it irks me because of what it says about T'Chaka and Cap as people.

The Cap/T'Chaka fight was first shown a few years ago in Black Panther #30, one of the best issues of the last BP series. The issue starts mid-fight, as the two duke it out. Cap tells his men that he suspects this fight is "an informal greeting. If they wanted to kill us, we'd be dead already." The two approach a momentary draw, with each man holding the other in a precarious position, and Cap offers to settle their dispute in a less violent manner. T'Chaka then calls off all his men (who had Cap's forces greatly outnumbered), and proceeds to talk with Cap. In their conversation, T'Chaka proves both his intellect (by speaking several languages) and his capacity as a national leader (by showing how well informed he is about WWII). He negotiates with Cap over what Steve wants from Wakanda, and finally offers him the chance to come, alone, to the capital city.

When there, T'Chaka, sitting on his throne, asks Cap to again prove why he, an outsider, should be trusted. And Cap's response not only earns T'Chaka's trust, but his friendship as well. The scene actually ends with T'Chaka laughing and declaring just that.

Later in the issue, we see Cap telling T'Challa about his friendship with his father, and how he hopes he has the same relationship with the son.

There's so much about this portrayal that I liked. It shows a Captain America who is willing to settle his battles with diplomacy rather than violence. It shows a T'Chaka who is highly intelligent and informed, wary of the outside world, but willing to trust one man on his own terms. It shows Cap being simple and honest, and it shows T'Chaka being open and regal. Cap puts his faith and trust in T'Chaka by going alone to the city (while leaving his men behind), and T'Chaka puts his trust in Cap by offering him vibranium. Simply put, it shows them both to be good men, and it ends with a newfound friendship.

I get none of that in this new version. Instead of negotiation and invitation, we get T'Chaka toting off Cap on his shoulder like a game animal. Cap ends up looking like a fool, and T'Chaka like a jerk. Neither comes off looking as intelligent as before, and it ends with very little promise of friendship.

In short, it took the first meeting of Captain America and the Black Panther, stripped it of virtually everything I liked about their meeting, and added nothing in return. It was the new relationship, not the physical fight, that made the original story so good and memorable. But Hudlin took a several-page encounter, most of which was the two characters dealing with each other diplomatically and intelligently, and summed it up as "T'Chaka fought Cap and whupped him." I can't speak for everyone, but that's why I didn't the scene.

Friday, July 01, 2005

My Year in Comics (Thus Far)

It's July 1st, which is the perfect time to do my mid-year analysis of my comic buying habits. Starting in 2004, I've kept an Excel file of all my comic purchases. Last year I spent a total of $697 over the whole year on comics. At this point in 2004, I'd spent a little over $300.

This year, my comics budget has increased. Between January and June, I dropped $452.70 on comics, an average of $17.40 a week. The cover price of these books totalled $890, so on average, I'm getting a pretty good deal.

These purchases (exluding FCBD books) included 185 issues, 19 trade paperbacks, and five hardcovers. $196 of my total, or 43%, was spent on collected editions.

Purchases of new comics at my local store totalled $187, or about $7.20 a week. The most I spent on any single visit to the shop was $23 (which included a Fables tpb). I've spent $75 on eBay, my next biggest source.

On the back issue front, I've completed my long-lacking runs of Blaze of Glory, Code of Honor, Orion, Static, and Young Justice, as well as the Ty Templeton runs on Batman: Gotham Adventures and the last Batman Adventures series.

Best deal so far: the first three Cerebus phonebooks for $13.50 (though the binding on the first is poor).