Kurt Christenson ** Timothy Mucci ** Johnny Gatts ** Brian Bannen ** Rick Lacy ** YOU!

Friday, July 30, 2010

At the Mountains of RADness!

Guillermo Del Toro is an auteur who has a distinct vision, a drive and skill to bring that vision to the screen. His work with Hellboy has been very interesting, especially in regard to the second film. His willingness to use practical effects is something that is quickly becoming a rarity in genre films today. Pan's Labyrinth was an amazing visual feast. A dark fairy tale about escapism, and fear. A grim meditation on how we cannot afford to always see things in black and white, and a monster that wears a human face is just as dangerous as one whose sprouts horns.

Del Toro, as many know, was slated to direct The Hobbit, but has left the project recently due to the amount of time pre-production is taking. This could be a blessing for some of us, especially since it looks like the next project Del Toro may take on is his oft rumoured version of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.

This is probably one of the most complex of Lovecraft's short novels. A great deal of the book concerns itself with the minutiae of Arctic exploration-- what drills these scientists are bringing, what modes of transportation they're taking, their myriad specialties and roles within the group--but this is really just part of Lovecraft's cleverness in telling this kind of story. It's all a set-up, a staunchly realistic narrative that serves to lull the reader into the comfortability of the real, because when this story gets unreal, it goes for broke.

If done correctly, and we've seen nothing but good evidence that Del Toro intends to do the original story justice, then this could be one of those tentpole horror movies. We're already used to the set-up, a small group of people secluded in an isolated and desolate locale, are beset upon by some weird horror. Except this time the horror is something that we've never yet seen in film.

If you want spoilers, read the book.

Back in 2006 Del Toro had this to say concerning Mountains: "The studio is very nervous about the cost and it not having a love story or a happy ending, but it's impossible to do either in the Lovecraft universe." According to statements made by Del Toro, the creature design and effects were started in 2008, and that certain creatures would be so large that we would never see them in their entirety on the screen.

In fact, if you look closely in the goblin market scene during Hellboy 2, and you know what you're looking for, you might just see an Elder Thing or two.

It seems like the studios nerves have been cleared up however, because now James Cameron has reportedly stepped in to back the movie, and it's going to be filmed in 3D.

Some may balk at this, but just imagine stunning Arctic vistas in 3D. Imagine feeling the ice-cold wind on your face as you stare out at the night sky, looking up at a strange abandoned city, a weird and alien city. The barking of dogs in the distance. Imaging the claustrophobia of running full speed through a tunnel under the Earth, your companions going mad beside you as a slopping, gibbering horror courses after you.

Imagine seeing THIS thing in 3D, so big you can't even make out its true shape.

MAN, I'm excited to see this movie already!

Thor Trailer Reactions

So, hopefully you've all watched the Thor trailer a few times and digested it a bit before they took it off the web. Let us know what you're reactions were and what you think it's all about. But before that, let's check what the stars of the film had to say after seeing the trailer. Natalie? Chris? Ken?

And here's the little snippet we've got on the Thor video game:

A serious teaser there with no gameplay or anything. Well, io9 shows some of the scenery art from the game and tries to guess what it might be all about.

I don't know about you 'clubbers out there, I was hopeful that this movie would be awesome, but now I am psyched to see this!

As far as superhero movies go, Make Mine Marvel!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

He is the LAW!

Out of all of the nerdbait to come out of SDCC the thing that got me most excited is the official casting of the lead for the new Judge Dredd film.

It looks like Karl Urban has been sentenced to play the grim lawman himself, and by Grud I think he's got what it takes. Here are some choice words from the man who will don the red, blue and gold helmet of Mega-City One's top cop:

"If I was to go see a movie called 'Judge Dredd,' and the actor who played Judge Dredd was to take his helmet off and full-on reveal his face and identity, I would puke in my popcorn."

Okay, Karl, wise words. But maybe you're just playing a PR game. Just the slightest bit of research would tell you that the fans were disappointed in the regrettable first film, and that the main gripe was that Dredd removed his helmet. So, what does Dredd mean to you?

"Dredd is enigmatic, the faceless representative of justice. His prevailing attitudes, his strength of moral character, and the strength of his actions are what speak volumes for that character. If you think about westerns...it's akin to getting to the end of 'The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly' and realizing, 'Wait a minute. I didn’t even know the Eastwood character's name!' It’s cool."

Wow. But...

"I’ve been reading Dredd for over 25 years. When I was 15 years old working in the pizza parlor, the manager I worked for was heavily into it, and he switched me on to it. It was interesting for me that at a time when I was a teenager rebelling against all the things a teenager rebels against and doing all the things that one does, one of my heroes was this authoritarian, staunch, hardass representative of the law. "

Drokk. He gets it! Okay, so we've got a pretty big name star in the lead role who understands the character. Who is writing the script for this thing? I mean, the Post-Apocalyptic world of Judge Dredd is pretty specific. It's not Blade Runner, It's not Mad-Max...well, I guess it could be the illegitimate son of Blade Runner and Mad-Max if they had an orgy with Looney Tunes and an Editorial Cartoon.

It's a parody of America, and American life. Overconsumption, needless paranoia and worry, the desire for safety over personal freedoms, the desire to be told what to do, scripted quite humorously through the lens of the amazing (and British) John Wagner. So who is writing this thing, and what does Wagner have to say? Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle is producing the film, and Alex Garland (28 Days Later) is writing it. 28 Days Later was a pretty interesting bit of film; more about what humans will become in order to survive than the tired 'surviving-the-zombpocolypse' drivel. And as per John Wagner, who has read the script?

"While I can't go into detail about the content I can say that it's high-octane, edge of the seat stuff, and gives a far truer representation of Dredd than the first movie. I hated that plot. It was Dredd pressed through the Hollywood cliché mill, a dynastic power struggle that had little connection with the character we know from the comic."

Heartening words from the Dredd master himself. It's still early yet, and if Hollywood has proved one thing it's that they're infinitely capable of turning something simple, something that works, into illegible crap (I'm looking at you Jonah Hex). So, while we mull over all of this info, let's take a look at some of the design work done for the film. Design work which was done by the incredible hand of 2000AD vet Jock:

Thor Trailer Leaked

iO9 has a leaked Thor trailer, check it out here but be quick, these things don't tend to stick around for long.

Or, watch it below:

I've been very skeptical of the Thor movie, the character has never resonated with me, and I always thought that he was a bit too silly...I mean, a Norse god who speaks in a fake Medieval accent?? My favorite Thor moments have been when he's guest-starring in someone else's comic, because then he's generally silent and imposing.

This trailer though...well, it looks pretty good. The costumes work, the direction looks engaging, the effects look very good; though it was a pretty small aspect ratio, so who knows? When Odin yells angrily at Loki, then casts Thor out, I got chills.

Chills from a trailer. A Thor trailer.

Anyway, here are my predictions, take 'em or leave 'em:
The Asgard scenes will be amazing, but few. The Earth scenes will be cloyingly sappy and slow-moving. The fights will be intense but clumsy. Agent Colson will steal the show.

Check it out for yourself, and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nick Cave penning 'The Crow' reboot: Is this a good idea?

According to the Wrap, the ultimate Bad Seed is working over "Blade" director Stephen Norrington's screenplay, which itself was a new take on the comic book.

the Proposition was stylistically (and generally speaking story-wise) pretty epic, but it was also boring as hell (Sorry, I'm not a western guy for some odd reason). But I love me some Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I used to sit in the dark in my bedroom, fantasizing about my funeral as 'Lay Me Low' played, and I cut school in my senior year to see the first showing of the Crow with my friends, which left us weeping at not only the loss of Brandon Lee but also the epically sad ending song that is Jane Siberry's 'It Can't Rain All The Time'.

Also, Stephen Norrington I feel had a fluke on his hands with the first Blade movie (see League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though can the direction be blamed or was it a horrid script?) so I don't know if even Nick Cave could salvage a Crow reboot. But why the hell not let one of the darkest sonuvabitch's take a stab at writing it. Hell, I say we let him direct it too. And maybe even star in it. I'd see that movie for sure.

AVENGERS: a cartoon history

Okay, so the new Avengers cartoon was released out to the masses today, and after seeing the teaser on the Jeph Loeb video a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to this. Finally, an Avengers cartoon with a slick look, with the main lineup (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Giant-Man, Wasp, Hulk) and one of the main launching projects of the newly Disney acquired Marvel. Then I saw this...

UGH! It looks terrible. The animation is third rate at best, and is barely a step above the previous cartoon attempts the
Ultimate Avengers animated movies, which took the amazing grittiness of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's comic Ultimate Avengers and just made it as blah and generic as possible and produced this spectacular piece of crap.

The sequel with Black Panther was just more of the same, so I won't even bother posting that video here. I mean, what is wrong with Marvel? Can't they take a good long look at DC/Warner Brothers' animation projects (Batman, Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond, Legion of Superheroes, and now their string of animated features) and see that quality animation is always going to win out over rushed, hacked out, sub-par garbage?

When watching the new Avengers cartoon trailer above, I could only really think of the first attempt to put the animated Avengers on the small screen...

Marvel has gotten some animation right but I'll save that for another post, because I have just as much praise to heap upon those works as I have bile and resentment for these.

C'mon Marvel, Disney's got your back, give us the good stuff.


More like *Hack* Snyder

From the Swipe Files over at Bleeding Cool:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of July 21


Brightest Day #6:
A mystery that just keeps adding more mysteries is as satisfying as a slap across a sunburned back. I want to keep reading Brightest Day to wait for the mysteries to be revealed, but if they keep stringing the readers along, this is just another long con. If you've stuck with Brightest Day, I hope you're feeling the frustration. If you've given up, I don't blame you. Johns and Co. need to start answering questions, and relax on building the mysteries for a while.


Amazing Spider-Man #638:
So rumor has it that Spider-Man is going to go back to the way things were before Brand New Day. One cannot ignore the fact that One Moment In Time is OMIT in acronym form. So are they omitting the previous issues' worth of storytelling? Is Marvel bringing Pete and MJ back together? God, I hope not! The thing that's made Spider-Man work this past year is that he's not tied down to any romantic interest. The writer's have been able to focus on the story, and not have to worry about throwing in a line or two about Peter's love who sits on the sidelines and waits for her hub to get home. Amazing Spider-Man: O.M.I.T. is a decent read, but it hearkens back to the less than glorious days of Spidey's past. If this series resets everything, I'd give up buying Amazing Spider-Man for a while. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this plays out.

Ultimate Avengers 2 #5: So there's two Ghost Riders now. And the original Hulk brought his white babes along for the ride. And we've got another lackluster cliffhanger ending. So what else is new? Nothing. This series is like the Godfather Part III of comics. There's a great Simpsons episode where Homer and Mel Gibson remake Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and in the end, they ruin the movie. One of the executives says, "This is worse than Godfather 3" to which Mel replies, "Let's not say things we can't take back." That's how I feel about Ultimate Avengers 2. It's all the same characters as the original Avengers, but it has NONE of the same feel. It's like Mark Millar was running low on cash to fund his ego and his coke habit, and he decided to write Ultimate Avengers 2. Mark Millar gotta eat, yo! I remember my cousin talking about The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, and saying how Frank Miller needed money. I feel like the same thing is going on with Millar right now. He's short on a car payment or something, and this is how he's paying the bills. Truly, this is worse than Godfather Part III.

New Ultimates #3: Here we go! Finally, one of the new Ultimate comics delivers. This time, Loeb tells the story from Valkyrie's point of view, and my God is it incredible. There's an actual narrative thread, a human voice to give life to the series, and an ending that sends chills down your spine. Loeb delivers on an otherwise lackluster series, and I think anyone that's been reading New Ultimates from the beginning will find the heart that Loeb usually puts in his books has returned. Instead of letting the story drive the characters, he lets the characters drive the story. And New Ultimates is the fruit of his labors. And what a sweet fruit it is! If you're not interested in New Ultimates at all, I urge you to pick this up just to see an example of a good comic. It really raises the bar for the rest of the series.


Neonomicon #1
: This is pretty intimidating. I have to put all my Alan Moore love aside to review his latest creation, a story about the return of Cthulhu. So, as a comic not written by Alan Moore, Neonomicon is an interesting piece. It's got elements of mystery, character quirkiness, and an interesting story to keep readers interested. You may think there's a "but" here, yet there isn't. Even if this story weren't written by Alan Moore, I'd still be praising it. One of the reasons is that the characters have deep flaws that will play out in this series (I think) or they wouldn't be given so much attention. I don't know how many issues are in Neonomicon, but I'm hooked after one. There's a lot going on here, but Moore does a nice job of easing you into the world of Cthulhu creator, H.P. Lovecraft. I think as further issues come out, Moore will hold back less and less, and there will be blood. If you like good stories, pick this up. If you worship Alan Moore the way most comic book fans do, pick this up. If you don't, you should be fed to the Old Ones for your insubordination. (And if you don't know who the Old Ones are, you should read more Lovecraft.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ladies & Gentlemen...I Present Your Avengers!

Iron Man (Tony Stark) - Robert Downey Jr., Clark Gregg, Black Widow (Natasha Romanov) - Scarlett Johansson, Thor (Dr. Donald Blake) - Chris Hemsworth, Captain America (Steve Rogers) - Chris Evans, Nick Fury - Sam Jackson, Hawkeye (Clint Barton) - Jeremy Renner, The Hulk (Dr. Bruce Banner) - Mark Ruffalo, Directcor Joss Whedon, and Kevin Feige

Tons more coverage of San Diego Comicon over on our Write Club! Tumblr

Friday, July 23, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of July 8 (Unearthed!)


Hit Monkey #1: 1. This comic has a protagonist who is a monkey. 2. This monkey is an assassin. 3. This monkey assassin is being mentored by the ghost of the assassin from whom he learned his skills. 4. Bullseye appears in this comic. 5. Why are you not out the door on the way to your nearest comic shop to buy this?

X-Men #1: A brand-spanking-new X-Men comic, just for your pleasure. The good? Paco Medina's art and Juan Vlasco's inks. They're crisp, and neat. Paco knows how to draw Logan wearing a cowboy hat and holding a beer bottle. His action shots are violent, but fitting. And he plays with the angles sometimes, a trick that accentuates the oddness of Victor Gischler's vampire story. Gischler introduces what I think is a new concept: vampire suicide bombers. They take off their protective gear in the sunlight, explode, and then infect a bunch of other people. That's pretty innovative, and the victim happens to be Jubilee. So the bad? I seems kind of silly. It's like the house of ideas had run out of them. And while I enjoyed the issue, I just don't enjoy the idea. Vampires? Maybe Stephanie Meyer has just ruined the genre, but mutants fighting vampires? Eh, it's not my cup of tea. But the issue is good in that you don't need to know the four year backstory (that's summarized on the first page) to understand what's going on. So while I'm lukeworm on the story, I'm pleased with the work of the writer. A new reader could easily become a new X-Men fan after reading this issue. I just hope it doesn't turn out to BITE us in the end. (As an addendum, I wanted to, but fought the urge to add a myriad of vampire related jokes. I didn't want this review to SUCK.)


Scarlet #1: So Scarlet is a girl who's had too much, and been pushed just a little too far. So she starts a revolution, on a small level at first, but then it escalates. I think Bendis is really stretching to make this story work. He's trying to make a not so original idea (one that's been used already in such works as Falling Down with Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall) very original. The direct narration hurts the storytelling, for me anyway, because Scarlet isn't a mystery. She tells us everything she's thinking, directly address us with her concerns, then tries to make an excuse for her crusade. The cops are hypocritic drug users, people are complacent fools, and only she can change the world. I like Bendis better when he writes Ultimate Spider-Man. At least Peter Parker is genuine. Scarlet? Not so much.

Casanova #1: An interesting inter-dimensional type story (ala Fringe), but one that's a little too hectic for an introductary issue. The reader can't really get a grasp of the world he/she is in, so when world's change, we feel just as lost as the main character -- which can be a plus, but in this case, where you're trying to embed the reader in your world, if you don't give him/her enough time to plant his/her feet, he/she is lost. Cassanova can work, but Matt Fraction has to dial it down a bit if he wants readers to stay engaged.


The Last Zombie #1 (AP Entertainment -- Keene & Wight): I hate to be super mean, but this is probably one of the least interesting zombie stories I've ever read. When I finished it, I just said, "Meh," and tossed it aside. I can't really tell you anything of substance about the comic. And I think that speaks volumes.


Hit Monkey #1: Daniel Way has taken what at first seemed like a truly silly idea, and made it colorful, not necessarily believeable, but fun to imagine. I want to see the Hit Monkey in a suit, however, and I will be quite disappointed if that doesn't occur. The fact that Marvel is allowing this to creep into their 616 universe tells me that they have a lot of confidence in Daniel Way, and that they recognize Hit Monkey for the commodity it is going to be. I hope two things happen: first, that Hit Monkey has cameo appearances in other comics in the 616 universe, and second, that Marvel doesn't beat this idea into the ground. Hit Monkey is a limited, three-part story. That's long enough to establish a fan base, tell an introductary story, and move on. I'm just hoping they recognize that what makes Hit Monkey interesting is that it hasn't been done before, nor should it be replicated for the next five years. Go buy a copy of Hit Monkey -- take the money you were planning to use on Scarlet and Casanova, and spend it on this instead. It's much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marvel Studios: THOR

By now we've all seen the above image where we get a taste of Kenneth Brannagh's take on the Mighty Thor and Asgard (specifically Odin & Loki), but there have been even more images release showing us just what to expect of what lies beyond the Rainbow Bridge.

Father and son converse in the Halls of Asgard. While the costumes do look a bit too 'superhero movie', I kind of like it. It looks like polished metal (not rubber), with enough of a weird design to it to give the feel of Kirby & Simonson without looking over-the-top.

Okay, so this is the throne room of Odin, and I dunno. It's not bad, it's just a bit...open and golden. Apprently it's on display at San Diego right now. Meh, it's not amazing, but it looks new, something I haven't seen in a fantasy movie before really. Actually, the wide open space of it reminds me of the Asian epic fantasy movies from the past decade.

And is that Loki in his horned helm I see? And on the other side, could that be the Warriors Three? (no doubt the true stars of this film)

But then I saw this pic:

Wow. Okay, that looks pretty cool and this is one ripped actor. And he's lifting Mjolnir. I think I've officially just geeked out for this movie. I have high hopes, but keeping my expectations close to the ches, wait for that first teaser, then trailer, then second trailer with more footage, the TV spot, Superbowl AD, etc. etc.

Until then, Marvel has set up a placeholder page for the movie over at Thor.Marvel.Com.

Here's some articles discussing the movie as well:

USA Today's take on fans approval of big budget films at San Diego making or breaking it.

LA Times' overview of the film and confirmation and discussion of it being shot/shown in 3D

And an Entertainment Tonight behind the scenes look on the set:

Comic Reviews -- Week of July 14


Amazing Spider-Man #637: The Grim Hunt comes to an end! And when Spider-Man dons the black costume in this issue, it's much more believable than when he did it to coincide with the abortion that was Spider-Man 3. If fans have been following the series, this is a cathartic release. Peter gets pretty dark at one point, and you're not sure where he's going to go. Because while the "good guys" don't kill people, you're aware that the writers are trying to do something new with the character, and having him snap and murder his enemies would be one way to do that. Plus, there are status quo changes, so the series isn't just a toss off. What's next? One Moment In Time where fans find out what actually happened to Peter and Mary Jane. So if I were you, I'd pick up this issue of Spider-Man as it may be the last breath of the new direction. Because I wouldn't put it past Quesada to get MJ and Peter back together -- and that was the catalyst for the change in the first place.

Ultimate Spider-Man #12: Bendis wants to fuck up Peter Parker's life, and he's doing a good job of it! This is a frustrating issue to read as we know that the Chameleon is behind this, but we're as helpless as Peter. The thing that makes this issue work is the way in which the Chameleon acts. He does what a lot of people would do if they were given the chance to be in another person's shoes -- anything he wants. He doesn't allow Peter to be bullied, completely destroys his personal life, and it looks like he's going to work on destroying his superhero life. This is easily the best written story of Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2. I am very much looking forward to being frustrated for a few more issues until this arc wraps up.


Superman #701: I said I wouldn't buy a Superman comic again, but as in comics, nothing stays dead, including my love of Superman. The issue isn't good. But it's definitely doing something new, and that's what makes it worth reading.


30 Days of Night & The X-Files #1 (IDW -- Niles & Jones & Mandrake): Steve Niles and Adam Jones so badly want this to feel like an X-Files episode. They throw in little eggs to sway readers, give Mulder his droll delivery and Scully her customary skepticism. But it feels forced. And I know they want it be genuine, but something about this just doesn't click. Mulder and Scully have dealt with vampires before, so that's nothing new, but this issue doesn't feel like 30 Days of Night with The X-Files. It feels like the X-Files. And maybe that's what's wrong with it -- there's no attempt to mix Niles' original idea with Chris Carter's dynamic duo. But this is, after all, a first issue. I will be picking up issue #2, but only out of loyalty.

Sweets: A New Orleans Crime Story (Image -- Chamberlain): Sweets is a pretty sweet crime story. There's enough character development to make the players three dimensional, and the mystery is strong enough to carry the issue. Plus, Kody Chamberlain understands that good crime stories need more than a murder. There has to be multiple parties involved, a ripple that causes a flood, and a seemingly random issue that pays off in the end. Sweets has this and more. I think this is going to be a fun read, a great mystery, and it will give Kody Chamberlain a world of attention. These are all good things.

Bannen's Book of the Week:

Superman #701: I'm not saying this is a good comic. It's not, really. But the reason it's my pick of the week is because Stracyznski has managed to do something original with a character that has grown stale because of the notion that he could have nothing original happen to him. JMS' originality isn't in Superman walking across the country to reconnect with the people. That's actually the dumbest part of the story. What works is Supe's dialog and actions. He does things he never should do because he's Superman. Two examples: 1. he tells a jumper that if she wants to jump, he won't stop her, but he wants her to think about happiness, and blahdy-blah. After she comes down, a police officer asks him, "You wouldn't have let her fall, would you?" and in reply, Superman walks away. 2. He confronts a bunch of steretypical drug pushers and sets their stashes on fire. And then walks away. These are not things Superman does. These are things JMS would do if he were Superman, and that is how he's writing this. Superman isn't speaking his own words; he's speaking JMS'. But that's a good thing because Superman NEEDS to do something different, and maybe the thing that's held Big Blue back for all these years is that he's the world's biggest boy scout, and you can't really make a boy scout dark. He stands for truth and justice, not suicidal aid and drug destruction. I will continue to read this because while JMS' Amazing Spider-Man run was disastrous, he tried something new. Superman needs that kind of gamble. Now we have to wait and see if the results pay off.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of June 30


Green Lantern #55: I don't know why there's such love for Lobo. He's a tertiary character who has a strange cult following, one that's trying desperately to make a movie of his adventures. I liked Lobo better when writers didn't use him as the Logan of DC. So in reading Green Lantern #55, I couldn't help but see Wolverine in Lobo's place. They're basically interchangeable characters. Now, while Lobo at first appears to be a nod to the fans, it looks like Geoff Johns has more planned for him. He has a few clever lines, but exits the story just as quickly for reasons we're given, but not fully given (a common theme in Johns' writing as of late). The reason to pick this comic up is Doug Mahnke's art. I've enjoyed the comic more on a visual level than a story level. Lobo and Sinestro fight, and believe me, friends, when I tell you that it's the highlight of the issue -- and it's only two pages. Plus, Lobo says what I think a lot of DC fans are thinking right now "Ya can't swing a dead cat without hittin' someone wearin' a power ring anymore." My thoughts exactly.

Batman Beyond #1: I loved this comic. There's something for every Batman fan in this issue. Buy it -- I think the series might be a sleeper hit.


Turf #2 (Image -- Ross & Edwards): The premise behind Turf seems like it was dreamed up by a five year old. Vampires, Alien Robots, and snooping reporters. It was taxing just reading three pages of this comic. I like a comic with substance, but excessive narration and dialogue bogs down the flow of the story. It took me three days to get through Turf, and even then I pretty much skimmed the hell out of the last few pages. This is an example of interesting premise, poor execution. After the first issue, I thought I'd give Turf one more chance, so I did. But I won't be buying issue #3.

7 Psychopaths #2 (BOOM! -- Vehlmann & Phillips): See above note about excessive dialogue and narration, and you have 7 Psychopaths. I love the characters, but I can't stand Fabian Vehlmann's need to put as many word bubbles as possible on the page. And they're not quick bubbles either -- they're loaded! The first page has nine panels, and fourteen bubbles. Even the pages with the fewest amount of panels (three) has an excessive amount of bubbles (ten). I'm sure Vhelmann has a lot he wants to say (as the story is pretty in depth), but he needs to cut out the excess and leave only the necessary information. So while I think the series has potential, I need an editor over at BOOM to do more than make a few "recommendations" for improvement. I need you to take a red pen and start slashing. Murder the baby, and I think you'll have a much more interesting story.

Zombies vs. Cheerleaders #1 (Moonstone -- Frank & Glendenning, Hickman and Washington): This was a recommendation from the comic shop guy. It's exactly what it sounds like. Zombies start attacking people at a football game, and the cheerleaders need to save them. This is the part of the review where you hear crickets chirping, and a muffled cough in the background. I can't say I was expecting more, but really I was. With such a silly premise, I expected a lot of clever dialogue and funny situations. But we don't get that. We get a lazy attempt those things, but nothing really of substance. Gimme an N, O, B, U, Y! What does that spell? "No Buy!" Whoo!!

Bannen's Book of the Week:

Batman Beyond #1: While this isn't my first foray into Batman Beyond, it's definitely most most in depth reading. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, Batman Beyond tells the story of Terry McGinnis, a reformed high school student whose father was murdered by a gang of people known as Jokerz. By happenstance, Terry ends up at Wayne Manor, discovers Bruce Wayne was Batman, and convinces him to let Terry take up the mantle of the Bat. Enough backstory -- the thing that makes this work is Terry McGinnis. Terry is the kind of Batman that most people would be: reckless, emotion driven, and careless to a fault. He's athletic, but not trained the same way Bruce is. He relies heavily on the Batman costume, a futuristic and upgraded version of the traditional gray suit. McGinnis is nowhere near as dark as Bruce, and he doesn't do much to help keep the aura of the Batman alive, but his take on the role of hero is the thing that sells the issue. We're also given a few hints as to what will occur in the series. Not wanting to ruin it, I will just tell you that Adam Beechen doesn't reach too far back into Batman's rogues gallery to find his villain. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending -- I had the villain figured out (or so I thought), as I think most Batman fans would as well. But the last page moved the series beyond its animation framework and into the realm of comic books. If the rest of the series is as good as the first issue, I hope DC makes this a continual project. With Adam Beechen at the helm of course.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of June 23


Amazing Spider-Man #635: This issue really ties The Gauntlet together. I can't really say too much without repeating myself: this is fast paced, violent, and horrific. It touches upon everything that's occurred in Spidey's life in the past year and a half, and even though it's only four issues, I have no idea what's going to happen in the next issue. At the end of issue #2 of The Grim Hunt, something happens that will leave you stunned. It left me stunned, anyway. It was something I didn't expect to see, and it shocked me to see it even more in issue #2 of the series. I just hope the explanation is good, and not a cop out.

Ultimate Avengers 2 #4: So Nick Fury is such a great spy that he makes "sex marks" in Monica Chang's address book? And we're told this because . . . well, I don't really know why. Because it's supposed to add character depth? Make a stronger conflict? Plus, we're told that Johnny Blaze is now a man who was murdered by a group of rich bikers who sacrificed him to get rich quick. In Nemesis, Mark Millar is ripping off The Dark Knight. In Ultimate Avengers 2, he's ripping off Jennifer's Body. In the end, it's revealed that one of the bikers is now the Vice-President. The impact of this revelation is lost, though, as the ends of the issues have been underwhelming cliff-hangers. The series so far has been pretty underwhelming also. But with only two issues to go, there's still a long way to fall, and Mark Millar has proven that he's hitting new depths in terms of his mediocrity. So the fun in reading Ultimate Avengers 2 is to see just how bad it gets. And I don't think we've hit rock bottom yet.


Green Arrow #1: I'd seen the damn solicits for this issue at the end of every other DC comic for the past two months so when I finally got my hands on issue one, I didn't know if I should feel relieved that I wouldn't be bombarded with previews, or averse to reading it. I guess part of me wanted to hate Green Arrow #1, but in the end, I found it to be a pretty enjoyable opening. I haven't read much Green Arrow, save for Kevin Smith's resurrection of the character, and Judd Winick's continual series. A lot of the background, however, is filled in by the characters as the dialogue closes the gap between the previous series and this one. So in one page, J.T. Krul gets you caught up. I appreciated that, but also found it to be kind of cheap. I think it's necessary for characters to reveal things through dialogue as this saves some needed space elsewhere, but the exposition isn't necessary. The rest of the story fills the mystery in quite nicely. It ties itself in with Brightest Day, so there's the overall question of the forest growing in the now dead Star City center. As with every other issue tied in to Brightest Day, the series prides itself on creating a strong detective story (complete with the murder of a politician, and the introduction of an army of robots whose sole purpose (it seems) is to hunt down Oliver Queen. I smell echoes of iRobot here, and I'm sure, in time, the army will try to take over the city. Regardless of my seemingly luke warm feelings towards this, I think it's a nice set up. I'm not sure it will continue to work unless Krul and crew get the pacing right. It's hard enough to be interested in a tertiary character like Green Arrow, but it's even harder when the writing is flat. Oh, and kudos to Diogenes Neves whose pencil work is the highlight of this issue.

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #3: Now it's all starting to make sense! Issue three ties the threads from Batman and Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne together nicely. We're starting to see a coherence in the different plots, and where issue #2's art was a sticking point for me, Yanick Paquette more than makes up for it. Bruce is starting to remember, and the incidents from issue #1 come in to play again. I laud the storytelling so much because I feel like other people who would want to create a genuine mystery (which seems to be a common theme here) would do well to study Morrison. He's precise, planned, and rewarding. The last part is particularly important when trying to please your readers. Morrison is rewardings those of us who have stuck with Batman and Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne. Plus, the pacing has really solidified so that the need to know is forefront in this series. And while I dreaded Bruce's return to comics (after the wonderful job that Dick and Damian have been doing), I'm looking forward to how Morrison will work it out. This series has proven that he has a plan in mind, and we should all just sit back and enjoy the ride.


American Vampire #4 (Vertigo -- Snyder, King & Albuquerque): I haven't stopped enjoying this series! We're still getting two very strong stories from both Scott Snyder and Stephen King. But Snyder's story is more about humanity, even in those who would seem to be the most inhuman -- vampires. And where some characters previously introduced seems irrelevant to the story, they're taking more and more of a forefront in the current arc. My only disappointment was in seeing Henry suddenly becoming more like the typical masculine hero and Pearl the typical damsel in distress. I've enjoyed the strong female characters of American Vampire and I just hope they're supplanted by the traditional brawling hero. Stephen King's story is more of a shoot out, horror-fest. But it's damn fun to read and damn fun to look at. King's story is sprialing towards its conclusing (which occurrs next issue), and I'm looking forward to the climax of his story as well as Snyder's. They both seem destined for an explosive ending.

Jurassic Park #1 (IDW -- Schreck & Van Dyke): While this might seem like it's kicking a dead horse, the idea of reading a Jurassic Park comic was too good to pass up. The resulting issue is one that is clever, innovative, and rejuvinating to a series that was driven stale with too much flash over substance. If you're a fan of the movie at all, pick this up.

Bannen's Book of the Week:

Jurassic Park #1 (IDW -- Schreck & Van Dyke): This has to be one of the best approaches to a very well-known story. So how does Bob Schreck bring new life to the series? He is definitely a fan of the material and has studied the films well. I say this because Jurassic Park is one movie I could recite line for line from beginning to end. So, to find easter eggs peppered throughout the issue was really rewarding for a long time fan of the movies and the novels. Schreck tells his story through John Hammond's grand children, Lex and Tim. Lex has become the CEO of an all-natural foods corporation, and Tim has become . . . something else. His role is limited, but there's a darkness to the character, one that borrows off of the horrific experiences he saw as a child. Furthermore, Henry Wu (the fertility doctor) is brought back, and it turns out he's in league with a person who was mentioned by name in the first movie, but never shown. It's clever, and it made me feel even better about the material because we know it's in the hands of true fans. The issue ends with the same predicament as all the other stories: dinosaurs are loose and they're killing people. So while that hasn't changed, the rest of the issue more than makes up for it. Now, it's up to Bob Schreck to show how he's going to do something different. If any producers are looking to make a Jurassic Park IV, I hope they're paying attention to this comic because this would be the best way to do it.