Monthly Archives: March 2011
Welp, my car is on the fritz. Anyone got a new power steering pump?
Kick-Ass 2 #2
There’s a running theme going on in my comic reviews: epically late books. Our most current tardy book is Kick-Ass 2, a book who’s last issue came out in November. Fortunately there is enough between the pages of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s sequel that the wait is worth it. But only a little.
The issue follows Dave’s adventures with his new “justice league” team. This team is made up of quite a cast of characters, from a kid who goes to Dave’s school to former mafia hitmen. The cast of characters that Millar has created are pretty interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the next issue, whenever that comes out. Dave’s exploits as Kick-ass are also starting to take their toll, as falling asleep during dinner doesn’t necessarily make his dad think that he is up all night studying. We also get an all too brief appearance from Hit Girl, whose interactions with a fellow student were a highlight of the issue.
This issue also finally features some long-awaited action, as Kick-Ass and his new buddies take down a gang towards the end of the issue. John Romita Jr.’s depiction of this action is fantastic, and if you look at his work in Avengers it looks like a completely different artist. While his panels here aren’t up to his usual stuff, they’re miles ahead of his rushed work in Marvel’s flagship title. The second issue of Kick-Ass 2 is a good one, here’s hoping we don’t have to wait 6 months for the next one.
The Amazing Spider-man: You’re Hired! (One-shot)
As a life-long fan of Spider-man, I have read some serious crap. However, none of it compares to the You’re Hired! one-shot, in which the wall crawler meets with Micheal Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City. The issue starts with Peter and Aunt May discussing Peter’s recent firing from J. Jonah Jameson’s mayoral staff, which happened nearly last summer. While the two are awaiting their stop on the subway, guess who stops by? Mayor Bloomberg!
What follows is dialogue that I swear was ripped from a video shown by my high school guidance counselor. “It just seems overwhelming. Job boards, resumes , interviews, cover letters, job training, e-mail etiquette…it feels like a lot“, says Peter, forgetting that he’s not only a superhero, but also a brilliant scientist. Apparently writer Warren Simmons decided that being by being a superhero Peter forgot all of his civics classes from high school. I can understand the need to get your message out in a PR comic like this, but my god, Peter sounds like a complete buffoon, especially when he tries to cover up the fact that he just fought Vulture as Spider-man. At least the art by Todd Nauck is good.
I’m well aware that this was a comic intended to inform New Yorkers of the options available to them if they’re looking for a job, but my god. What infuriates me about this comic is that people will read it, and this is what they think a comic book still is. For all the strides that Marvel, DC, and other companies have been making to showcase the legitimatacy of comics as a storytelling medium, this comic shows NONE of them. As an added insult, we’re treated to two back up stories from previous Spider-man comics for a whopping $4. Avoid this at all cost.
Sucker Punch (2011)
Starring: Emily Browning, Jenna Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Scott Glenn
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Sucker Punch would have been an amazing video game. The action sequences are some of the best I have ever seen on the big screen, and I’m sure we’ll see many imitators for the next few years. However, everything else about the movie is kind of….well, not a mess, but not as coherent as one would hope.
Zack Snyder’s most recent film follows a girl known as Babydoll (Emily Browning), who is sent to an insane asylum for young girls after a horrific tragedy in her family. While in this institution, she fantasizes that the world she is in is actually a burlesque club inhabited by her fellow “patients”. She devises a plan to escape the club (which is actually the asylum) by obtaining four items : a map, fire, a knife, a key, and a mysterious fifth object. The way the girls can get these items is by Babydoll dancing for the “target” male who is in possession of one of these items. When Babydoll starts to sway, the scene shifts again, this time into one of the many fantastic action sequences in which the girls need to get the item.
While these action scenes are probably a little TOO literal, they are amazing. Snyder definitely pulled out all the stops for these scenes, and they do make the movie something to check out. But I was too interested in these worlds that he created for the fight scenes. By the time Babydoll, Sweat Pea, Rocket, Amber, and Blondie had fought off that dragon, I didn’t want to be transported back to the burlesque house, I wanted to see more of that fight! Or more of the awesome steampunk zombie World War One soldiers. In fact, I think if Snyder had tried to make a narrative out of those scenes we would have possibly had a stronger movie, or one that at least flows a little better.
All of the girls involved are very good, but for some reason Rocket, played by Jenna Malone, and Blondie, aka Vanessa Hudgens, were the standouts for me. Malone really did the best out of the girls acting wise in my opinion, and Hudgens’ action scene against those awesome WWI zombie things was my favorite part of the flick. Jon Hamm shows up as well, but unfortunately his scene is all too brief.
I’ve read a lot of reports online that Snyder had to make a lot of cuts to the movie before this was released, including cutting the much reported about musical numbers. But to be completely honest, maybe the movie would have flowed better with those scenes intact. While I was watching Sucker Punch, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Warner Bros. had their hands all over it, and that Snyder relented to letting them water down his film for fear of losing Superman: The Man Of Steel. I believe we’ll probably get a director’s cut of the movie down the road that will prove (or disprove) some of these theories, but Sucker Punch was a lot of flash but not a lot of substance. The shifting of realities is pretty awkward, and I can’t imagine that there aren’t some scenes somewhere that help flesh this idea out. While I commend Snyder for creating something original, unfortunately it doesn’t work quite as well as he wants. The action scenes are top notch, and at the very least I now know that Superman will at least hit something in his next movie, even if it is in slow motion.
3 Giant Stone Samurais Carrying Gattling Guns out of 5
Spring is almost here, and my itchy eyes and runny nose can attest to it.
F. F. #1
Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting’s Fantastic Four continues on, albeit with a new #1 and title. Now under the name F.F. (Future Foundation for those of you who haven’t been following the comic), Marvel’s first family is back, with new costumes, new missions, and a new member: the one and only Amazing Spider-man!
Yes, Peter Parker is on too many teams now. Between splitting his time in his solo book, and being on TWO Avengers teams (the original and “New”), it is kind of a stretch to think that he could find time to pencil in some adventures with the F.F. However, Jonathan Hickman has such a good handle on the character that I can’t really complain, and the opening moments of the issue should make most haters shut up and enjoy the book for what it is: a blast of an opening issue. Within the first few pages we are caught up to date on what has previously happened in the lives of the Fantastic Four, as well as the reasoning behind the new costumes. “The world seems more…black and white these days” Sue puts it, and when you look at what these characters have gone through, it makes complete sense. Soon after Spidey puts on the new duds, the new team heads off to their first mission, where the evil organization A.I.M. has freed classic villain The Wizard. Also, Reed Richards’ father Nathaniel makes them all dinner, and a certain enemy arrives at the end of the issue to potentially join the group.
To say that I liked this issue is an understatement. Regardless of your thoughts of a new #1 or Spider-man joining the team, you will not get a better start to a new story arc this year. The recap for new readers is still entertaining for people who knew the story prior to this, and Hickman’s script is so full of character and intelligence that I honestly think he may be one of the best writers in the industry today. Steve Epting’s pencils are detailed without going overboard, and his quiet moments, like the giant “family” dinner that the team takes part in, are just as good as when he shows A.I.M. agents blowing up a door, or the Thing beating the crap out of enemies. F.F. is the start of something new and exciting, and is an absolute must-buy.
Uncanny X-Force continues Rick Remender’s dominance over Marvel. The latest chapter in the “Deathlok Nation” storyline kicks up the action even more from last issue, as Fantomex’s fellow teammates assist him in protecting “the world” from a new breed of Deathloks who have been fused with familiar heroes.
When we last left Fantomex, the new Deathloks had arrived at his home, killed his mother, and stolen “the world”, a microscopic alternate dimension that, in the wrong hands, could destroy our world. At the end of the issue, Fantomex met up with our version of Deathlok, who is trying to help Fantomex. Esad Ribic’s art jumps off the page, and the flow between his panels works almost like a blockbuster action movie.
Rick Remender’s script not only contains some amazing action sequences, but also a great moment between Psylocke and her brother, Captain Britain. Psylocke is still coming to grips with Fantomex’s decision to kill the child version of Apocalypse, and her brother’s reaction is phenomenal, as is the scene directly after that. We also learn the origin of these particular Deathloks from (yet another) possible future, and my hope is that we may see this story fleshed out in a possible miniseries or future storyline. With this issue, Remender and Ribic continue the stellar run that is Uncanny X-Force, simply one of the best books from Marvel.
Fear Itself Prologue: Book Of The Skull
Ah and so begins Fear Itself, the latest Marvel crossover. It has been almost two years since the events of Siege, so it looks like we’re overdue for another company-wide crossover event. While this prologue issue isn’t essential for what is to come in next month’s miniseries that is sure to “change the face of the Marvel universe FOREVER” (again).
This issue finds the Red Skull’s daughter Sin and Baron Zemo attempting to locate a mysterious book that once belong to Cap’s enemy. Bound in blue skin, the book is the key to something that Sin believes will “reshape the world” and allow her to become more powerful than her father ever was. After obtaining the book, we then flashback to World War 2, where Captain America, Bucky, and Namor investigate a strange ritual sacrifice committed by the Skull. However, instead of humans, it is Atlanteans that are slaughtered for a mysterious reason. This sends Namor into a rage, especially when he is told by an enemy soldier that they were killed because they were more “delicious” than regular humans.
The trio track Red Skull to Antarctica, where he has used the spells contained in his book (and the previous sacrifice) to recieve his “gift from the gods”. However, what comes with that gift is non other than a frost giant from Asgard. After a great fight between the monster and the army, Bucky eventually subdues the creature while Skull escapes. The three heroes leave, unaware of the new mystical hammer that was left behind (and no, it’s not Mjolnir). Skull’s men couldn’t move it, so they start to build a fortress around it. This mystical artifact remains there, and now Sin is going to find it.
Ed Brubaker’s script leaves just enough hints to leave you curious about the upcoming Fear Itself, but he also delivers a pretty satisfactory one issue story that has some old-school World War 2 fun. I’m a sucker for Nazi occult stories, so this issue was right up my alley, and it’s actually piqued my interest in the upcoming event. Scot Eaton’s pencils were good as well, although sometimes Sin looked like she was wearing a really crappy mask, and not the burn marks that made her look like her father. Book Of The Skull should definitely be picked up by those interested in the upcoming event, as well as fans of Cap and Bucky in World War 2.
The Guild: Tink
Felicia Day has returned to comics with the latest The Guild one-shot, this time focused on Tink, the kind of bitchy mysterious member of the Knights Of Good. The issue finds the different KoG members wondering where their archer is, and they all quickly realize that they know nothing about her. What follows is each member giving their own story of what Tink told them during a time that they had teamed up with her, and the stories presented here are hilarious. Each story features the work of a different artist (Kristian Donaldson, Jeremy Bastian, Wellinton Alves, Time Seely, and Adam Warren), and the styles definitely fit the themes in each different “origin tale”. The ending of the story is extremely satisfying, especially when Tink is confronted by her Guildmates. I cannot wait for the next installment. Ms. Day, please keep writing comics, and make The Guild an ongoing!
After last month’s Amazing Spider-man .1 issue, I was more than ready to watch Flash Thompson throw down as the new Venom. The issue filled in readers on what the new status quo for everyone’s favorite tongue wagging symbiote, and the hows and whys as to Flash Thompson. Ever since losing his legs in the Iraq war, Peter Parker’s former tormentor has been put through the paces emotionally, and the fact that the now government controlled symbiote gives him back the use of his legs definitely makes the reader feel for the character.
Rick Remender, the writer behind the phenomenal Uncanny X-Force, is scripting the book, and he really brings an action-packed issue to the table. The inclusion of a very badass Jack O’Lantern was not only surprising, but very cool as well. Remender definitely gave this jokey character a makeover in the B.A. department, and seeing him and Venom duke it out in the issue was one of the highlights (especially how Venom eventually defeats him).
Tony Moore, who worked with Remender in the past on Franken-Castle and drew the first Walking Dead arc, handles the pencils here, and his work is phenomenal. It has a very Todd McFarlane vibe that I feel works perfectly with the tone of the book. One panel in particular shows a very cool way of the symbiote being used in a firefight, which may be one of my favorite ones of the year.
Venom is a great first issue for not only new readers, but fans of the character as well. While the change may not last or appeal to all, you can’t fault for Marvel at least doing something different with the character. This is an action-packed first issue, and I can’t wait for the next!
Batman, Inc. #3
Oh hey, Batman, Inc. long time no see. Just when you started getting going, you got hit with a delay, and to be honest, I kind of forgot that you were even around. This issue finds Bruce traveling to Argentina to enlist El Gaucho into his global Bat-force, and while it’s a good issue, I’m starting to worry that Grant Morrison is going to start to get nonsensical again.
Batman and El Gaucho are trying to find three kidnapped blind children who are being held by a villainess named The Scorpion. Unfortunately the plot gets a little confusing as the issue bounces between the past and future, and also to some hidden force attacking a team of British Superheroes. I think. Of course whoever it is that they locked up and has “no chance of coming back” probably will in a future story in the series. There’s also a scene between El Gaucho and Batman that becomes very confusing as it’s not clear if Gaucho knows that Bruce Wayne is the actual Batman that is recruiting people. Yanick Paquette’s art is just as good as ever, and I’m hoping that his issue was just a fluke. After a stellar opening, I’d hate to see the new “flagship” Batman title fall victim to the delays that plagued Return Of Bruce Wayne.
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Some sort of illness is befalling me. Maybe comics can cure me.
Annihilators #1 (of 4)
Following the completion of The Thanos Imperative, Marvel fans were wondering how they would get their cosmic fix. Ladies and gents, I present to you Annihilators, the newest cosmic book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Annihilators sees the formation of a new cosmic team formed from the wishes of the now deceased Star-Lord, and if the line-up doesn’t make you think “Cosmic Avengers”, then you must be crazy. The Silver Surfer, Ronan, Gladiator, Quasar, and my personal favorite, Beta Ray Bill, meet the newest Space Knight in this issue, and travel to her home planet to prevent the evil Dr. Dredd from ripping another seam in the galaxy. The art by Tan Eng Huat is a little wonky at times (his Ray Bill looked a little strange at some angles), but he pulls off the huge cosmic starscapes perfectly.
But wait, there’s MORE! Not only does this issue contain the beginnings of Annihilators, but you also get the complete first issue of the long awaited Rocket Raccoon and Groot miniseries. The first installment finds Rocket working in the mail room of an intergalactic office building following the events of Thanos Imperative. After being attacked by a clown made of sentient wood that was sent to him in the mail, Rocket is not only fired, but travels to Planet X to find his former teammate, who is also made of sentient wood. The art by Timothy Green II is fantastic, and suits the tone of the book perfectly. Annihilators is the best deal of the year, as the $4.99 price is pretty good for two stories (let’s face it, Marvel would’ve charged you $3.99 for both of them individually), and both stories are pretty accessible for new readers. Pick up Annihilators right. NOW!
Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1 (of 3)
I have a confession to make: While I was excited for Annihilators this week, there was a comic I was looking forward even more. That comic? Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth. For those who don’t know, which is probably all of you, Axe Cop is the webcomic written by SIX YEAR OLD Malachai Nicolle and drawn by his thirty year old brother Ethan. Axe Cop is like streamlining the imagination of a child. When you start reading it, the comic instantly transports you a simple time when you were easily entertained by dinosaurs, cops, guns, and dinosaurs with chain guns for arms.
The opening issue finds Axe Cop and his sidekick, Soldier Dinosaur, eating at a diner when they notice the appearance of a “Bad Guy Planet”. This planet is growing, and growing fast, so Axe Cop and his partner decides to blow it up. However, they are stopped by “real cops” who don’t think that Axe Cop is a cop. After fighting off the real co-you know what, I’m not doing this any justice. Click on the link above that I posted, and see if this is for you. I know it’s for me, as I love absurd humor, and reading it brings out my inner five year old. Axe Cop something wicked special and unique, and welcome breath of fresh air for this comic fan.