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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Hour Movie Review: Kick Ass


Reporting live from the Lovin' Cup Cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the Thursday night happy hour is all you can drink Miller High Life, well liquor, and wine from 6-9. There's also killer $2 sliders and tacos.

Beer #1.

I just got back from Union Square, where I watched Kick-Ass, the newest entry in the comicbook superhero action genre. Unlike most other superhero movies, this isn't a DC or Marvel creation (per se), it's the creation of the mad Scot, Mark Millar, who's been on a streak with controversial mainstream (Ultimates, Fantastic Four) and independent (Chosen, Wanted) comic book works, and the Marvel progeny John Romita Jr., who's made his name on Spider-Man & Daredevil, but has drawn it all.



Millar and Romita Jr. released the comic series through Marvel's creator owned imprint, Icon. I heard it was originally pitched as a movie, but when they couldn't get any bites, they went and did it as a comic, which of course got Hollywood interested (surprisingly seeing as Wanted, Millar's Top Cow series, was a bomb at the box office).

Matthew Vaughn (L4yer Cake) directed it, and it was a fairly independent production, all things considered. Which makes sense when you witness the carnage that they pull off in the movie, and the indie comic cred (non-partisan to DC or Marvel), with Dark Horse posters in the local diner/comic store (why don't these exist? Who wants to open one with me?)

I'll save the spoilers for later, but right now i'd just like to say how well crafted a film it is. It has moments where it "jumps the shark" or gets a bit heavy handed with the "comic book movie" tropes, like the narration text boxes that read MEANWHILE, or the motion comic origin of Nic Cage's 'Big Daddy' character. The former happens only once or twice, while the latter was just so cool I didn't mind it. Very awesome seeing a 3D rendering of JR Jr.'s artwork.

Beer #2

Big Lebowski starts up on the wall, projected while Motown and Soul pipes in from everywhere. I've ordered sliders, one chicken & one burger, just to start. I actually really love this place, nice dark atmosphere, great music, always a classic film playing (last week was The Graduate which was appropriate for my viewing on (500) Days of Summer the other day.

But back to Kick-Ass. I've never actually read the comic, and rather than read it before the movie to be that much cooler, if only in my own mind, I decided i'd go in blind & dumb, and judge it on its own merits as a film. It's so rare that I get to do that with mass media comicbook projects, so I cherish every opportunity.

I have it ready to read and will follow this up with a review of that in a few days. But for now, the movie was a lot to digest. It defied conventional formula, although it did have its standard action movie and superhero moments. But I found myself unsure of the direction and plot of the movie, which is also a rarity after seeing almost every worthy (and many unworthy) action movie, foreign or domestic.

Speaking of foreign movies, normally I am drawn to Asian cinema as they have this quality, this boldness and visceral feel to them that make me, force me really, to acknowledge the screen violence that most American movies have left me numb to. There's a rawness and imaginative aspect to their films that really sparks my creativity and inspires me.

Sliders. 2. Beef & Chicken.

I try a bite of the chicken one. So good. It's small but so tasty. A slice of avacado on top, with a piece of cheese. I'm not quite good enough to place what kind. And some sort of sauce that just adds that touch to it. Nom. And the size makes you really stop and enjoy each bite, rather than slave over massive mastication. I stretch that one into four bites and each one is equally satisfying.

A bite of the half a slice of pickle cleanses the palate, reading me for the burger. I save that one for second because it's just that kick-ass, for lack of a better term. A sip of beer and I'm ready to nom. A perfect piece of bacon juts out on either side, the meat just charred enough, a tad dry, and flavored with epic awesomeness.

A girl with awesome hair and glasses (prescription or not? I vote not, though she has a Alternative Nation Kennedy vibe as I wear my oversived ratty sweater I somehow picked up in my youth in the 90's) sits down at the bar a few stools away. I glance up at the dude, and somehow know everything will be okay. We all abide.

I finish the beer and hope that the swank bartender that thinks he's working at a hotel bar serving drinks up to a hipster Humphrey Bogart notices and gives me another. A nod, a point, a mumbled phrase, the transaction is complete. I have more beer.

Beer #3.

Two girls sit down on the other side of me, two stools over, and order their drinks. I polish off the slider, enjoying every moment as it passes over my teeth and brushes up against my tongue. Wait a second, John's texted me. Allow me to respond.

John: What are you doing?

Kurt: At Loving Cup in Bk. Drinking & eating in Wburg. Prob going to a beer garden on LES at 9.

I'll be meeting Lia & Mike who I work with at Lorilei's down on Staton? Or is it Rivington? I know the area, a German bar with massive beers that list percentages next to the absurd names. There's an awkward exchange with Retro Bartender and 90's MTV Kennedy; she ordered sliders and tacos came instead. I almost take the tacos. Instead I make a lowkey gesture and wait til later to order them.

Back to Kick-Ass, part two. It was violent. People got cut. Lots of knife action, a ton of blatant headshots, and brutal beatings. Every action scene drew you in and satified you, whether you were watching Kick-Ass take a hit, and another, and another, and get back up to crack someone else with one of his batons, or you were watching Hit Girl flip through the air, gunning down thugs.

I forgot what beer I'm on, not that it matters. Did I get a new one? Ahh, whatevs. Did I mention that I love that Kick-Ass costume? I totally do. It's ugly and awesome all at the same time. Part Olympic event apparel and part retro Kirby-esque design. Green with track suit lined yellow.

John: I'm at a bar in soho drinking frustrations away. I can always meet up with you-let me know.

Kurt: Dude, totally. Best drink I've had in over a year right now. If you want to meet me in the LES, I'm just meeting two co-workers for some beers.

That's a lot of backstory into my life right there, but suffice to say it involves my horrific living situation and Lady Gaga's DJ. At least James Brown's 'Make it Funky' has come on. James Brown has always made me feel better ever since I saw the Blues Brothers as a child.

Maude Lebowski is lowered from her harness where she flies through the apartment throwing paint at a canvass. Fucking Julianne Moore rules. Go through her IMDB and watch it all. It's all quality. The fact that she's chill and cool, so I hear, and can play a total goofball with a Boston accent as on 30 Rock, well, that's the icing.

But I digress. Nicolas Cage. He ruins everything you like about him with a certain role (Ghost Rider) and then can just kill it with another that makes you love him (Adaptation, Raising Arizona). His turn as Big Daddy makes you kind of love him again. Bad moustached daddy to young Hit Girl, he puts on a Ward Cleaver "aww shucks" sensibility when acting with his daughter, channels Adam West when in costume, and then delivers in dramatic turn in the inbetween spots.

Beer #4?

I ordered tacos. One chicken, one beef. John texted back. Gotta look up the address before I send it to him, so let's finish up this review shall we?

McLovin nails the rich kid, stuffed up nose, wannabe whiny boy without every becoming a caricature. In fact, none of these characters (except the love interest who thinks Kick-Ass' secret identity is gay), ever fall into over-the-top, cartoonish misrepresentations of actual people, but you're still aware this is a world seperate from our own.

Real world violence rules apply, but it also slips into stylized killing strokes without missing a beat. And it all satisfies. A good action scene should snag your attention, give you chills, and the make you go 'Oooooh' or 'Ackk!"

Tacos.

They appear small but that is so utterly deceptive. They are damn filling. One bite of the chicken taco, some sort of sauce drizzled over it, and I remember why I enjoy eating sometimes. Every bite is damn good. A tad spicy, a little bland, the soft taco shells are perfect. A bit of fresh salsa on top, all green and chopped up.

All the performances in Kick-Ass were great, but whatever his name is who plays the lead was outstanding. His voice cracks in just the right way, he can shift from total dork (convincingly, and I'm a harsh judge as I grew up with true dorks, dweebs & weirdos) to heroic with just a costume change. The real world, pop culture mentions are great. A Myspace page to advertise his heroic services? Of course.

Beef taco time. It's gotten a tad cold as I typed away, front windows still open as the sun goes down. I hope you appreciate this, damn you. I definitely need to finish this taco and then break the seal. If this is beer four then my $12 has already paid for my buzz. Next up is whiskey.

The girls have cleared the bar, everyone's met friends her and engage in conversation where I hear "Do you like Animal Collective?" Yeah, about three years ago, which was still way too late. Missed em when they palyed South Street Seaport for free too dammit. But yeah, they're alright considering no one asked me.

Shit, bathroom break.

Whiskey #1 when I get back. Now the drunks gets going. But yeah, Kick-Ass was pretty...kick ass? It had violence, drama, wish fulfillment, was really well directed, never got too gimmicky. It had its own universe which begs to be explored further. Red Mist was originally set up as the villain of the sequel so I recently read. Could be good.

Watching McLovin and the other dude battle it out like two comic geeks would actually fight (I should know, I did it with Tim often when we were teenagers) as the young girl from (500) Days of Summer did some of the most impressive fighting moves I've seen in an American film ever.

And that's the controversy right? Extreme violence committed by an 11 year old. Is it right? Should Nic Cage be okay with shooting a child? Is it okay that the final battle is a brutal bruhaha between a badass Mark Strong bald mafioso and the "cute-as-a-button" girl that I don't know her name? It did feel a little odd, but it played into that wish fulfillment badass killer instinct. Girls are always going to be portrayed as more Kick Ass. (See Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

I prob need a smoke, as I have 25 mins left of this happy hour. I guess I can hold out long enough to finish this review. It was fucking awesome. It was a pretty decent movie, it had satisfyingly violent scenes, played up the comicbook vibe and never got too predictable.

It was a good movie, a badass violent action movie, and oh yeah, it was a pretty honest superhero movie. It really makes me curious what the comic is like. I read a Body Bags One-Shot by Jason Pearson today and it totally prepared me for what I was going to see tonight.

Cartoonish violence that still held an impact as shit hit the fan and got ridiculous, it still held a human aspect to it that never let it get to the realm of unreasonable, even as Kick-Ass flies in with a gatling gun jetpack (I told you there'd be spoilers...)

Whiskey #2.

I'm just about done here. I ate my food. I killed time/my bitter loneliness, by writing this review. The movie was good. The fact that it wasn't a mainstream superhero book is impressive. Millar's second Hollywood movie with a director that is pretty rad (see Nightwatch & Daywatch for the director of Millar's other concept WANTED) is significantly better than his first, even though it explores the same themes (total loser becomes badass).

What other comic book writer can say that he's got two of the most inventive action movies put out by Hollywood in the past decade, aka ever, to his credit? He sat down and wrote those scenes, that an artist drew, then they sold it to a producer, who hired a director, then casted it and shot the damn thing, and both are (fairly) close to the originals.

At least I assume so as I prepare to read Kick-Ass: the comic. Well, that's enough from me. 13 mins left to happy hour, go see Kick-Ass if you even remotely like superheroes or action movies, as it's one of the best that have ever been put out.

Thank that insane Scotsman and the NY ginzo creative team.

K

PS- This night ended with me waking up somewhere in Brooklyn, nearing Coney Island, and I lost my glasses. And cried.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Comic Reviews: Week of April 21

DC:

Batman: Streets of Gotham #11: First off, Streets of Gotham has had an almost flawless run of great covers. Dustin Nguyen deserves a lot of praise for his work on the series, both inside and out. I'm not quite sure when it happened, but Streets of Gotham has really become the Damian show, and I couldn't be happier. Paul Dini might not be the best Batman writer of all time, but he deserves credit for being one of the most consistent. Plus, Dini has picked up the most interesting aspects of Damian and used those to his advantage. I struggle to review an end-of-arc issue without giving too much away, but there are some truly awesome moments in this comic, Damian's blood-bandanna chief among them. This Robin is one cruel, violent little s.o.b., and his willingness to push the limits has become a major part of what makes him such an intriguing character. The Return of Bruce Wayne aside, it looks like Damian's future might be more interesting than even his father's.




Brave and the Bold #33: It had to happen sometime. There had to be a point when Straczynski's run on Brave and the Bold faltered a bit, and unfortunately it was the Wonder Woman/Batwoman/Zatanna issue. I say "unfortunately" because the ladies of the superhero world are too often given the weakest stories, and it's no different this time. I'm going to go ahead and spoil the issue, so if you don't want to know the plot then stop reading now: In the story (titled "Ladies' Night"...ugh), Zatanna and Wonder Woman take Batwoman (Barbara Gordon) out for a night of dancing, all the while knowing that the next day she's going to be paralyzed by the Joker. Now, there's a few things I have to take issue with here. First of all, wouldn't a superhero like Batwoman want to spend her last night with functioning legs, oh I don't know, kicking ass? Not dancing? Oh wait, women live to dance, never mind. Then there's the diner scene, which I won't even go into here. Despite these (and other) problems,
exploration into Barbara Gordon is long overdue, as her character has become rather one-note, usually along the lines of "handicapped techie." Sure, as Oracle she is important, but most of the time it's in a fairly bland, "I'm reading information from a database" way. So while this issue isn't as graceful as past issues of Straczynski's Brave and the Bold, it's still better than a lot of shit on the shelves. Also, Cliff Chiang's art is fantastic as always, and his reveal of the Joker is actually a pretty powerful, even if you see it coming. So it's not all bad here, but yeesh. To this point, I was pretty sure JMS could do no wrong on Brave and the Bold. After issue #33, my confidence is definitely shaken.


MARVEL:

Hercules: Fall of An Avenger #2: This must be the year where I actually start caring about younger characters, because Amadeus Cho, like Damian, is quickly becoming one of my favorites. How did this happen? I used to hate the teen heroes. My guess is it has something to do with new characters finally getting the shot they deserve; it also doesn't hurt that they are in the hands of such capable writers as Morrison, Dini, and in Amadeus Cho's case, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente. One of Pak's strengths (with an assist from Van Lente this time around) is that even though Incredible Hercules is always full of humor, he never dumbs it down for his audience. One page you get a great, absurd sound effect like "BLAAASFEME," followed a few pages later by a very subtle in-joke for mythology nerds. It's for reasons like these that his run on Incredible Hercules has turned so many heads. On the art front, Ariel Olivetti's art is perfect for a story like this, but I don't see it working beyond this Fall of an Avenger. His style is very much that of a painter, which works for a quick story full of Gods n' Goddesses, but I think the appeal would waver in an ongoing title. The back-up Agents of Atlas story is a real tear-jerker this time around, showing that not all of Hercules' many investments dealt solely in broads and booze. For a title-bridging two-issue series, Fall of an Avenger is surprisingly good. Not as great as past issues of Incredible Hercules, but still good enough.



Ultimate Comics Avengers #6: I'm really of two minds when it comes to Mark Millar-scripted comics. Part of me wants to hate everything he's done in the past six or so years, as it doesn't seem like he's really tried anything new in a long time. The other part of me says I should just sit back and enjoy the over-the-top action and ignore the poor writing. One thing I know for sure is that I hate the Cosmic Cube, and I really hate that it's was one of the main plot devices of this first arc. Cosmic Cube stories are always stupid. It's a fact. They spent too much time building up the Cube to be an unstoppable device...and yet the villain never uses it properly (i.e., they never just wish away all the heroes and become king of the universe or whatever). It's hard for me to look beyond the stupidity of the Cosmic Cube story, especially since it's been noted elsewhere that this is basically a re-hash of an old Authority story, also written by Millar. Carlos Pacheco's art is as bold as ever, providing the story with a sense of action that is severely lacking in the script department. Let's hope that introducing the Punisher to the Ultimate Avengers gives this series the shot in the arm that it desperately needs.



Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #9: Though Bendis' writing on other titles (cough New Avengers cough) is downright bland as of late, his work on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man continues to be nothing less than spectacular. It's become pretty clear that this is a book he cares about, while the main Marvel Universe just doesn't seem to drive the man anymore, and probably hasn't since his Daredevil days. And though I had some reservations about artist David Lafuente in the past, he's quickly becoming as essential to Ultimate Comics Spider-Man as Mark Bagley was for the first 111 issues of the original series. This is another great issue jam-packed with all the things you love about Spider-Man: fast-pased action, teenage drama, and a few tender moments thrown in for good measure. Plus, Peter gets a haircut, Johnny storm makes out with the Spider-Girl clone, and Peter freaks out. Good times had by all (except Peter I guess), although judging the way this one ends, it looks like the next issue isn't going to be all sunshine and spider-webs.






GATTS BOOK OF THE WEEK:


AMERICAN VAMPIRE #2 (Scott Snyder, Stephen King, Rafeal Albuquerque - VERTIGO): Well, it looks like me and the Bannen are on the same page here. This comic rules. There wasn't much this week that blew me away; nothing that is, except for Rafeal Alburquerque's art in American Vampire #2. While it's obviously Alburquerque in both Scott Snyder and Stephen King's respective stories, he manages to completely change the tone of his work, and the overall comic, between the two. It's a rare skill, and it shows that Vertigo was willing to try something a little different with American Vampire. Most publishers would've just gotten two artists to do the book. So though Vampires are as inescapable in fiction today as Zombies, when done right, they're still worth reading about. The best horror stories usually do have some sense of social commentary, and American Vampire is no different. Both writers choose to draw parallels between the familiarly fanged undead and the all-too-human capitalist bloodsuckers of industry, entertainment, and land. This comic moralizes from a pool of blood, like an all-vampire episode of Tales from The Crypt.

Comic Reviews: Week of April 21

DC:

Green Lantern #53: Now that Blackest Night has ended, I was worried how Green Lantern would follow up. But as usual, there's more mystery introduced here. I feel like I'm watching an episode of Lost with how the mythos is presented, because I know that Johns will eventually reveal his plan, but I'm glad to see that the series keeps the same spark it had pre-Blackest Night. The Carol Ferris/Hal Jordan Top Gun moment was a bit silly, but that's really my only complaint about the issue. Larfleeze, the orange lantern who acted like the comic relief in Blackest Night, returns, but Johns has stripped away his silliness and made him a very dangerous character. Plus, we get a pretty horrific revelation at the end of the issue, and we're treated with three separate story lines spanning three separate books. But Geoff Johns and Co. have shown that they can work well with each other across different titles so I'm not worried. Some of the best editorial work I've seen in the past five years has been in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. A while ago, around issue #15, Johns said he had planned up to issue #50, so knowing that, we can assume he's planned GL up to issue #80 and beyond. Personally, I'm going to see these separate thread through in their respective titles, and if you're a fan, I urge you to do the same.

VERTIGO:

Joe The Barbarian #4: This series is more and more starting to mirror Stephen King's The Talisman. The flashes between worlds happen quicker than before, and the mysterious masked monks are revealed in this issue. And while there's quite a bit of dialogue, Morrison seems to have the perfect mix of action and explanation because not once did I find myself disinterested. There's quite a bit of levity in this issue as well, and Morrison interjects humor quietly, but at the right moments so that the tension of the scene is not broken, but altered for a moment. What is most fascinating about Joe The Barbarian is that even though the mythical world is gorgeous and mysterious, I'm just as intrigued by the real world that Joe keeps returning to. It's nothing more than a house, but now that I'm invested in the story, I'm trying to see how things in the mythical world fit into the real world. I'm worried that Joe the Barbarian will have a dark ending because I've bought in to the characters so much that I feel the threat of harm coming to them and it unnerves me. Morrison has done more in four issues than most comic writers do in twenty. I feel a kinship to Joe, an almost fraternal protection of him. And I'm worried that Grant Morrison is about to break everyone's hearts.


American Vampire #2: This was another fun read by Scott Snyder and Stephen King. I'm enjoying the split level storytelling because it makes the cliff hangers that much more impressive. Scott Snyder has 17 pages to work in, and he skillfully crafts a gripping story that reveals some, but still introduces new mysteries. Snyder is adept at spinning a tale that keeps you fascinated, and while the number of word bubbles initially worried me, I couldn't help but be fascinated by the dialogue. There's a lot going on here, and the story that's emerging is proving to be much deeper than I originally understood. Pearl's "reveal" is saved for a full page and trust me when I say that it's innovative and horrific. There's also an interesting take on the "mirror" aspect of vampires, and what it tells us as readers is that Snyder and King are truly re-inventing vampires for a new generation. As usual, Stephen King's story is clever and expansive with its major reveal saved for the final pages. I wonder if King even has to try anymore. The man just knows the how of a story, and he weaves his tale effortlessly. I guess what I'm most jealous about is that he probably has the whole thing already planned in his head and we just have to sit and wait as he unveils it, as slowly, painfully, and intriguingly as possible.


MARVEL:

Amazing Spider-Man #628: I knew Mark Waid had a plan, and my waiting paid off in this issue. While we still haven't seen a full on battle between Captain Universe and the Juggernaut, there's still a lot more action in this issue than the previous one. Spidey gets tossed around quite a bit and NO time is spent on any subplots from previous issues. This is all big guns. We get a bit of Captain Universe's thoughts as he communicates with the Enigma Force and I hope that the "fractures" in the ground are a set up for a much greater conflict, and not something that is going to be easily fixed in the following issue; because if these are the types of cracks I think they are, Spider-Man is headed towards a No Man's Land story. Lee Weeks draws some pretty powerful (and painful) panels in this issue, and it sets up the conclusion nicely. From the solicits I've been reading, "The Gauntlet" is coming to an end, and it looks like it's going to tie all the pieces together. Look for the series to move into its next phase in the following months.




MISC:

DV8 #1 (Wood & Isaacs -- Wildstorm): DV8 is based on an earlier work by Warren Ellis. This is evident as Gem Antonelli, our heroine, reveals the history of her characters. Her team mates are dark, flawed, and egocentric individuals who do less to help the human race than to please their own private yearnings. Since Wood has Ellis' work to pull from, there should be no shortage of ideas. I like what I see so far. The story asks a lot of readers as some of them, this reviewer included, may have never read Ellis' earlier DV8 series. After one issue, however, I think I may have to go back and pick up the trade because the depth of the story is only scratched, and all the pieces seem to be in place for a quick paced action-fest. If you like any of Brian Wood's other work, you'll be pleased with DV8. It's bold in that it's standing on the shoulders of giants, but Wood shows after one issue that he's adept at paying homage, as well as putting his own spin on material for which he has an obvious amount of respect.





Crossed #1 (Lapham & Barreno -- Avatar): This is another take on a previous series, the original Crossed written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Knowing nothing of the original, I took a chance on this because the cover scared the hell out of me. The first eight pages tell us everything we need to know about the main character, Adeline, and her sick and demented family. This hangs very close to the zombie genre, both in how the monsters reveal themselves and in how the truly dark characters are the non-infected ones, but after one issue, I'm hooked. The infected are marked by splotches of blood that appear across their faces, not by white eyes, receding gum lines, or pale skin. They are seemingly human, save for the depraved things they do. But after reading about Adeline's father, you'll think the infected are more humane than him. If you are a zombie fan, I urge you to pick up Crossed. If you're not, I urge to pick up Crossed for its storytelling. I was pleasantly surprised, and think you will be too.










BANNEN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK:


American Vampire #2: Two stories for the price of one? Two great writers working in tandem to reinvent a vampire genre that has become something of a joke (thank you, Twilight)? This is a must read. Rafael Albuquerque's drawings are only the icing on the cake and Dave McCaig's colors make this one of the most visually captivating comics I've read. I'm loving every moment of American Vampire, and I see this as the beginning of a new way of writing -- these authors have taken an iconic story and altered it so that it seems completely new. I can see other writers doing something similar, following in the footsteps of Scott Snyder and Stephen King, and using what others have presented before, but changing it so that it's new and interesting. Vampires should be scary and violent, not loving and romantic. Snyder and King have gone back to basics with this series, and American Vampire is thriving because of it. I can't wait for the next issue to come out. I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twitter Saves Comics

Last week there was a Twitter conference called the 140 Characters Conference, discussing its importance and role in various aspects of media.

'The 140 Characters Conference: New York City (#140conf) took place April 20-21, 2010 at the 92nd Street Y. This event was the largest worldwide gathering of people interested in the effects of the real-time Internet on both business and “we” the people.'



For those of us who were unable to attend, fear not, for Write Club is here to deliver the video of the panel.

Participants:
Jeff Newelt (@JahFurry) - Editor, The Pekar Project; Comics Editor, HEEB, SMITH, & ROYAL FLUSH Mags
Jonathan Maberry (@JonathanMaberry) - Author, Marvel Comics Writer
Micah Baldwin (@micah) - CEO and Chief Community Caretaker, Graphic.ly
Ryan Penagos (@Agent_M) - Editor of Marvel.com. Writer
Tom Brevoort (@TomBrevoort) - Executive Editor/VP, Marvel Comics

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sub*Text Saturdays

This week's goods...

Rings by Stu Horvath























***

Space Monkey from Leo Burnett on Vimeo.



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You should be aware of Audie Murphy.

***


The Amazing Joy Buzzards are a rock and roll adventure band that rivals such legends as the Beatles and Rolling Stones. It's an everyday adventure for them when fighting giant robots, evil witch-doctors, and exploring the supernatural, all with the help of their mystical Mexican wrestler friend El Campeon.

I picked this up from a poor Pratt student sitting on the sidewalk selling manga. This is a series I always wanted to read, and when I flipped it open to a page of the bassist slicing vampire robots while leaping from his race car, I was sold. It's fun, it's got action, it feel fresh for an old scenario (investigative band), and lots of humor that's actually really funny. Like laugh out loud. The artwork by Dan Hipp is phenomenal and the lettering and layouts are very interactive and what could be too messy or chaotic turns into a really fun and unique comic reading experience. Supposedly vol. 2 will be coming out this year, but it has been heavily delayed. In the meantime, read Mr. Hipp's GYAKUSHU! online for free.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Comic Reviews: Week of April 14th

DC/VERTIGO:

Batman #698: I find it hard to fairly review issues that come at the beginning of a new arc, especially when it comes to Tony Daniel's Batman, so this time I'll mainly just play the summary game. There's a copycat killer loose in Gotham, and the Riddler is enlisted to help Batman figure out who it is. If there's one thing that Daniel is very good at as a writer, it's creating a case. He leans heavily on Batman's rogues gallery and the detective aspect of the character, neither of which are necessarily bad things. My main issue with Batman right now is that the title seems to be simply coasting through stories, leaving Batman and Robin to carry the burden of the long-term Batman continuity. Guillem March's art is good enough, despite a few flat characters (Commissioner Gordon basically has one expression: "mustache and glasses"). So, this was an alright read overall, but like all of Daniel's Batman comics, it's hard to judge one part without being able to see the whole.


The Flash #1: Nothing against the guy, but I'm not really a Flash fan, so I picked this one up purely to see if Geoff Johns can get me as interested in the Flash as he did with Green Latern. Judging soley on this first issue, it's going to be a harder sell. This was a good, if completely basic superhero comic. I feel during the "Brightest Day"-era, Aquaman and the Flash are going to be the bigger characters when it comes to the next "event." Why do I feel this way? Probably because there's an ad at the end for an upcoming DC event called "Flashpoint." Look, I like events (to a degree), but lately I've felt like the big two are just trying to hook readers by convincing us that we MUST READ every story, no matter how important it really is. They're like crack dealers. First they give me a bit of crack that is just ok, but make sure to tell me that if I want the really good stuff, I should keep buying this mediocre stuff for another year or so. So Flash #1 is like ok-crack. Sorry for the drug-analogy (comics are for kids!). Despite my reservations, Frances Manapul's penciling is really amazing, perfect for a quintessential superhero book such as this. I didn’t hate this issue, but let's say that I have yet to be convinced that I should keep up with The Flash


Daytripper #5: This was an especially beautiful, and especially heartbreaking, issue of Daytripper, as we're given a glimpse of Brás precocious adolescence. Again, the focus is on an important series of events in Bras' life, this time focusing on his first realization of the world's great expanses beyond his childhood experiences. Though their story is firmly set in their home country of Brazil, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá use Daytripper to tell a much more a universal story, one that we can all relate to in some way. There's something breathtaking about the way that they achieve this, using the story of one man's life to extrapolate a greater narrative on the human experience. This is one of those series that people will end up writing papers on. Once Daytripper is over, I feel that this series be looked as not only a career high for the twin creators, but as a creative high for the comic book medium as a whole.








IMAGE

Chew #10: So we come to the end of Chew's second story arc, "International Flavor," wherein we learn that vampires are not vampires and that Mason Savoy is not as far off as Chu thinks. I've found that second story arcs for ongoing series are usually best used to do two things. First, expand the overall story; second, introduce characters/plot devices that will become extremely important as the story continues. In these regards (and many others), "International Flavor" is a rousing success, proving that Chew remains worthy of the hype. Image looks like they've got the next great comedic epic on their hands. John Layman and Rob Guillory are one of those enviable comic book teams that just get it. Layman's jokes wouldn't work without Guillory's art, and Guillory's art wouldn't be as enjoyable without Layman's jokes. Bottom line, Chew is one of few books coming out that makes me downright giddy to get to the store.







MARVEL

Daredevil #506: This issue deserves to be bought if only for Paolo Manuel Riverera's absolutely gorgeous cover. It blew away every other cover on the rack. Moving to what's inside, though support for Andy Diggle's work on DD has seen it's fair share of detractors, I think he's fairing pretty well. This is no small accomplishment, considering that he's been given the unenviable task of following both Bendis and Brubaker. For nearly a decade, Daredevil has been, and for the most part remains, the best monthly superhero title around. So though there's some naysayers out there, I think that Diggle is on the right track. It's a testament to the story's strength that even though the last issue came out back in February. Watching Daredevil play ninja-politics as the Gaijun of the hand is turning out to be quite compelling, and I think that Bakuto is the best addition to the Daredevil cast in a very long time. It was time for some fresh villains, and Bakuto, though he might not be a straight-up villain is a fantastically unhinged character. Just when you think Matt Murdock couldn't be in any deeper, he finds away to keep on digging; and after last week's announcement of the upcoming "Shadlowland" spin-off, it looks like things are only going to get more complicated. If this story goes in the direction that I dearly hope it will, Daredevil may actually be the badguy of Shadowland. And really, isn't a renegade Daredevil what we've all been waiting for?



Deadpool Team-Up #894: This isn't a title that I usually pick up, but given that it's written by Ivan Brandon, and it features the my new favorite Frankenstein, I had to grab it. Am I glad that I did? Sort of. Although not as funny as Chew (what can be?), Deadpool Team-Up was pretty damn amusing, and provided a nice respite from the rest of the week's books. Sandford Greene's highly animated style is a perfect fit for this story, except that the strangely gore-free fight between Deadpool and the Punisher was a bit of a let-down. Light on substance, heavy on random asides, I think Deadpool Team-Up might have to be added to my pull list.












PunisherMAX #6: Do I really have to review this one? I love Jason Aaron, so it hurts me to say that I'm seriously doubting his work on PunisherMAX. Maybe my hopes were just too high for this series, but given his absolutely brilliant work with Scalped, how could I not be excited? Unfortunately, PunisherMAX has been pretty spotty so far, jumping from the obnoxiously pithy introduction to Bullseye to the overly grim Frank Castle moments. Actually, the scene between Frank Castle and an old comerade is really great, but thanks to what came before, it feels oddly out of place. The comic deserves credit for seamlessly moving from the last arc to this one, and the final sequence here is enough to get me to come back for the next issue, but even still...yikes. For an issue I thought would've been a sure highlight for the week, PunisherMAX #6 is an unsatisfying, uneven issue with more than its fair share of problems.








The Savage Axe of Ares #1: Marvel's recent run of black-and-white, 48-page "Super Issues" have been pretty amazing so far, and The Savage Axe of Ares is the best yet. One thing is for sure: the tag-line doesn't lie. Savage Axe of Ares is indeed full of "skull-spliting metal mayhem." It's also a hell of a lot better than I thought it would be. The stories weave together almost seamlessly create an overlying picture of not just Ares, but also of War in general. If only for the first story, you should pick this one up. Written by Gregg Hurwitz and drawn by C.P. Smith, "Red Mercury" follows two Russian army defectors as they attempt to cash in on the fall of the Soviet Union. Not only is this a timely story about the theft and resale of nuclear weapons, it's also bloody as hell; at one point, Ares guides our protagonists by using the disembodied arms of fallen soldiers. Savage Axe indeed. Without having Ares speak a single word, Gregg Hurwitz has written the best Ares story I've ever read.








MISC.

We Will Bury You #2 (IDW, Brea Grant, Zane Austin Grant, Kyle Strahm): After a lackluster first issue, I was willing to give We Will Bury You a second issue chance, but I think that's it. This book has a lot of problems, but chief among them is the fact that it fails to tell a really original zombie story. It's not horrible, but now that zombies have overrun popular culture, there is a need for a new standard of excellence for the re-animated dead; putting it in a different time period isn't enough anymore. This is but one of the main problems plaguing We Will Bury You. Another major issue is that comics are best when they don't bludgeon you in the face with a message 3/4ths of the way through the story, which this issue does. The characters at one point actually say something along the lines of “the moderns of the marvel world won’t save us.” And if the book is supposed to be about sexual politics, it's also falling pretty flat there. The politics here seem to be, "Mirah is a bitch." All of this is a real shame, because while I think We Will Bury You is a pretty weak in the story department, I absolutely love the art. Kyle Strahm draws such a strange, exaggerated version of the world that it’s hard not to be enchanted by his grotesque portrait of man. Unfortunately, any sense of terrified awe is immediately undone by this stereotypically one-note zombie story.


Hellcyon #1 (Dark Horse, Lucas Marangon): Though this book relies a little too heavily on it’s influences (chiefly Robotech and Akira), it’s actually worth checking out. Hellcyon tells the story of the rebel planet Helcyon seeking to establish itself a soverign planet from Earth. Again, it’s hard to review based on a first issue, but I have to say that Hellcyon at least LOOKS great. Now it's just up to the story to catch up with the art. However, Marangon has enough ideas building here that I think Anime fans owe it to themselves to at least page through Hellcyon. This has the potential to be something huge; at the very least, it’s a satisfying tribute to the world of SciFi Anime, which feels fitting for a week that saw the passing of the great Carl Macek.










GATTS BOOK OF THE WEEK

Green Hornet Year One #2 (Dynamite, Matt Wagner, Aaron Campbell): Now this is one hell of a comic. There’s so much good going on with Green Hornet Year One #2 that it’s hard to find a place to start. With this title, Wagner has already created a satisfying and fully realized origin story for both Green Hornet and Kato. The keyword there is story; not event. This is a huge difference. These are heroes who are the result of a combination of experiences, not just one traumatic event. Many retellings of origin stories seem to miss this point. The scope and influence of WWII on pulp heroes and pulp comics is given its due here as well, creating a much deeper and more rewarding read. It's fast becoming clear that this isn’t just a comic about the Green Hornet, but rather a story of how pulp heroes came to be. Pulp stories and the fictional pulp heroes they feature are direct products of that time. Artist Aaron Campbell has outdone himself yet again, firmly placing the Green Hornet in a very recognizable world without too rigidly confining the story by the rules of reality. In the end, what I loved best about this issue is that I could’ve picked it up having read virtually nothing else about the Green Hornet, EVER, and not only understood the story, but also enjoyed it. If only all comics were this good.

Wednesday's What Up With Comics

Here at Indie Club, we like to keep track of the happenings all across fandom, so to that end here are some things that are popping on the internets...

ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO LINK.

New Comic Day TUESDAY?!?! My world is rocked.
iFanboy The Beat Comics Alliance

Parents Are Up In Arms Again:
'Bone' Isn't An All-Ages Book?
Boobs in a 1987 Spectre comic? Inappropriate!

I'd Still Go See A Spider-Man Theatrical Performance...
Alan Cumming Drops Out of Broadway Spider-Man

DC's Preventative Measure Against Image 2.0
Artists Become Writers at DC Comics

I Like To Think My Comic Writers ARE Pop Stars
Pop Stars Writing Comics

Here's A Perfect Example...The COMICS DESTROYER himself...
Paul Pope Q&A @ AICN

Oh Snap...Ebert Hates On Qbert.
Video Games Will Never Be Art by Roger Ebert

We Really Should Be Doing More To Support the CBLDF
New Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Website

Above swiped from the forerunner of Comic News The Beat.

Some Of The Best Fake Viral Comic Covers
Great Comics The Never Happened

Fan Passion Can Lead To A Dream Come True
Serenity Fan-fiction Webcomic Gets Published, w/Exclusive Strip

Above from my new favorite comics site COMICS ALLIANCE

Never Read The Series, Not A Big Rucka Fan, But JH's Art...*shivers*
Batwoman Ongoing Series - Rucka steps down, JH steps up

Comics Alliance Interview with J.H. Williams About Writing Batwoman

Read It Online Or If You're A Disciple Go Purchase This...
Warren Ellis' Print Edition of his Bleeding Cool Column 'DO ANYTHING' ships today

TOR Seems Pretty Interesting, This Bears Further Investigation.
Tor.com Kicks Off Ongoing Webcomic: Dan Goldman's 'RED LIGHT PROPERTIES'

And as always check out DC's blog THE SOURCE, Marvel's NEWS, the badass BLEEDING COOL, and for all your C2E2 information (there's a LOT) check COMICBOOKRESOURCES & NEWSARAMA.

Oh, and for lots of Comic Creator Twitter Highlights and tons of comic movie news, check out MTV's SPLASH PAGE.

***

NEW VIDEOS GOING VIRAL

Tim Gunn Crits Superhero Costumes


Batman: Under the Red Hood trailer
<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&from=sp&fg=shareEmbed&vid=c9358acd-5576-4f1f-9034-f061a3294951" target="_new" title="Exclusive: 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' trailer">Video: Exclusive: 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' trailer</a>

Marvel vs Capcom 3 trailer


***

COMIC CALENDAR

Midtown Comics Grand Central store is hosting a signing on April 22nd from 4-6PM featuring Brian Wood, Rebekah Isaacs, and special guest Becky Cloonan. And over at their Times Square store there's a Gilbert Hernandez signing on April 24th from 2-4PM.

Over in Brooklyn, Desert Island will host Bjorn Copeland, from Black Dice, for an Artist Music Journal release party and signing on Wednesday April 28th from 7-9PM.

In just a week and a half it'll be FREE COMIC BOOK DAY once again. We'll try and keep track of the events at various comic stores in the NYC/Brooklyn area.



Fresh from his Facebook status, Matt Loux will be signing at Rocketship Comics where you can get a FCBD version of Salt Water Taffy, which will make you want to buy the first three volumes of the book published by Oni Press from him as well.

Over at Bergen Street Comics from 5-7PM they have some activities for kids planned to celebrate First Second's new Young Reader titles.

There's also Forbidden Planet, St. Marks Comics in Brooklyn & East Village (who's site seems woefully out of date), and Cosmic Comics.

Seems my favorite NYC comic store Jim Hanley's Universe is having a comedy night the night of May 1st, which is pretty cool, with "some huge signings and events for Free Comic Book Day set to announce in the coming days". They're also running a buy-one-get-one-half-off trade paperback sale this weekend.

If there's anything we should know about, an event, news, a new artist, comic, band, book, game, movie, etc. hit us up and let us know, or feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section below.

K

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Discovering the Voice by Jayme Roxann Wright

When I first decided that I wanted to write a comic book, I was in my early 20’s. I had been collecting several titles at that point- ARIA by Holguin, More than Mortals, XFACTOR, and ANIMAL MYSTIC, anything by Joseph Linsner, LADY DEATH, and SANDMAN. I was tossing around an idea that I am still playing cat and mouse with to this day. This particular story is my baby, so giving it to just any artist scares the bejeesus out of me because I am very particular about how I want my visions to look. When I finally started finding artists, I had to make sure that their artistic style that fit the stories, and that was hard because art created the tone of each book. I feel that the biggest impact of the comic format is that the art drives the emotion and description that would have been written had the story been prose. Most of my stories are darker in origin, so Manga or cartoonish artists won’t fit the visuals. I developed a list of who I wanted to give life to my stories and looked for similar styles.

I was really lucky when Jason Craig approached me to help with his story which was at that time being pitched as a series to STARZ. I had about three weeks to write a TV pilot and Character Bible/Series Outline. It was quite an experience. When it was passed over at STARZ! , we decided that it would work as a new comic series and began to rework it. Writing someone else’s baby is a great experience because you have to literally write what they envision. It is a great lesson in interpreting what people want. It has been a great process, the late night arguing and the endless battles over tiny details, all the while creating a great story that started as a simple one to creating a universe. The creative process is exciting and bleeding some of my blood into it to make it my own is a great reward.

Men develop a comradery quickly with other men; however, a relationship in a professional realm between men and women can be tenuous. I find that there has to be a great degree of respect for each other, which isn’t necessarily needed in male working partnerships. Jason has always treated me with respect and understanding. We are both single parents and both raised in the south despite my Los Angeles location. There comes a deep understanding of how we were raised, and it helps us navigate the waters similarly. Good people attract good people.

The more I develop the voice that I want to have in comics the more I find that wading through the muck and the wide eyed excitement of the comic book business is necessary. It is also why I understand – writers keep to themselves.

Monday, April 19, 2010

MoCCA Monday: The 3 Coolest Things I Found at the MoCCA Fest

By Jonathan Gelatt

There's no denying that smaller conventions are uniformly better than the media hoopla that is the modern MegaCon. Don't get me wrong; MegaCons great for what they are, exclusive toys and celebs and all, but when it comes to discovering new artists, new comics, and new creators, the small expo is top tits. Such was the case with the MoCCA Fest. As somebody who reads a LOT of mainstream comics, New York's annual MoCCA Art Festival was a breath of fresh air, reminding me that for every played-out superhero book there are at least fifty imaginative creators kicking ass up and down the indie circuit. So to pick up where our fearless leader left off, here are (in no particular order) the three coolest discoveries I made at the MoCCA Art Fest 2010.

1.
Neil Jam

Neil Jam (aka Neil Fitzpatrick) is firstly known for his online comic of the same name, but if you catch him at a convention you have to check out his extensive collection of fictional character portraits. Superheroes, Muppets, movie titans, video game characters--Fitzpatrick draws them all. Not only are these portraits great for a diverse selection of fans, but Fitzpatrick is one nice guy, a real solid dude. It was a tough choice for me, but I ended up grabbing a picture of Ghost Rider for myself and an excellent rendition of Batman-Mario for a friend. Just so you know what I'm talking about, here's a picture of the Neil Jam MoCCA table.


2. The Schizophrenic by Joshua Frankel and Toby Cypress

I picked this book up on the recommendation of my brother, and holy crap, this comic rules. Published by the new Zip Comics, The Schizophrenic is a short, surrealistic one-shot about a mentally disabled everyman/superhero in a future full of crappy fast-food corporations and shotgun-toting roommates. In other words, this was the best 3 bucks I spent all day. If there were a God, he would surely make this a monthly series. The story is a fun take on the superhero and modern morality, with a healthy handful of pills thrown in for good measure. Plus, Toby Cypress’s art is so f*cking great it that I can't even describe it without swearing.

I honestly don’t know what I like more: the pencils or the coloring. If you have a chance to grab this book, don’t hesitate. The Schizophrenic is like reading a Golden Age comic written by Frank Zappa. You know you want it; now go get it.

3. Jesse DeStasio

Last but certainly not least, Jesse DeStasio's custom toys were probably my favorite find of the fest. Though he's also a comic book creator, I was too busy freaking out over his custom toys to check out the books. My bad, I know, but DeStasio's hand-painted collector's items are so cool that I owe it to them to bust out my old Ewok village, just so they have a proper home. Tin Cop and King Rex (the two figures I purchased) look like they come from the greatest science fiction epic that never was. I highly recommend you head over to his website and check out the full catalog. I can hear my wallet crying out in fear, but I don't care. Fiscal responsibility be damned, I'm buying more. If you're into cool plastic creations, it doesn't get much better than Jesse DeStasio.

Late Breaking Addition: Jesse DeStasio’s toys are customs of Glyos series toys created by Matt at http://www.onelldesign.com and Jesse at http://www.callgrim.com. If you like Jesse's work you will probably also like the toys they were before they were customized. Either way, I can understand your love for Jesse's customs, as a fan myself and a huge Glyos addict, Jesse was one of the main reasons I went to MOCCA.

-- Addition provided by eatyourchildren at eatyourchildren.net