Monthly Archives: August 2011

Comic Reviews: THE NEW DC!!!!! Justice League #1 AND Flashpoint #5!!!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!!!

Justice League #1

Flashpoint #5(of 5) AND Justice League #1

SPOILERS like you wouldn’t believe
 
Today is the day DC fans have long been waiting (or dreading). This my friends, is the start of the new DC Universe, in which many well-known (and beloved) characters will be rebooted, recharged, or in the case of Batman and Green Lantern, pretty much stay the same. But before we get into speculation, are these two books any GOOD?

Well, yes, in a nutshell. First off, in Flashpoint #5 we finally get to see how everything goes back to square one.  Flash, alongside Thomas Wayne Batman, Cyborg, Emperor Aquaman, and literally every single other character that had a tie-in Flashpoint miniseries in a massive war zone. Flash is attempting to do battle with Professor Zoom, whom he believes is the cause for the Flashpoint universe. Well, the revelation behind this is pretty unexpected, and definitely casts the whole event in whole new light. You see, it’s revealed that the Flashpoint universe is actually The Flash’s fault. I won’t go into details, but this leads to a pretty great sequence in which Barry Allen must confront his mother, the one person that he went to all of this trouble for. The Flash then faces the hardest decision he has had to make, and answers it by attempting to go back in time and prevent his past self from preventing the death of his mother. During this time, he is visited by a mysterious stranger who tells him that there are three timelines which must be merged together in order to prepare for a catastrophic event. As the Flash uses all of his speed force to prevent the Flashpoint universe, he blacks out, and wakes up in the new DC universe.

The scene I’ve just described really puts the entire event in perspective, and (in my eyes) justifies the new DC universe. This is the new status quo folks, and if it is at all like the final moments in Flashpoint, we are in good hands. Geof Johns and Andy Kubert end the event with a very touching moment between Flash and (of all people) Batman, as Bruce Wayne receives a letter from his father (who we know is the Batman of the Flashpoint universe). It’s a great moment for a character that is extremely well known as being dark and brooding, but it’s still in character as even a passing Bat-fan would know that above all, Bruce would do anything to make it that his parents were never killed.

Flashpoint #5 (of 5)

Now we switch gears to the all-new Justice League, again written by Geof Johns, but this time drawn by the unmistakable Jim Lee, whose very name causes spasms of joy from comic book nerds. Championed as the start of the new, “accessible” DCU, does Justice League deliver? Kind of. Instead of being what the solicitations promised (the Justice League basically kicking ass and taking names), the first issue focuses on the formation of the new DCU Justice League. Taking place five years in the past, we see Batman attempting to apprehend a masked assailant, who we learn is an alien. Green Lantern is summoned by his ring to investigate the extraterrestrial that is wreaking havoc on Gotham, and thus, the seeds of the Justice League are sown.

Like I mentioned, this issue focuses primarily as a set-up for the upcoming new DC, and while there is action within its pages, there really isn’t enough to back up the hype around it. However, Johns seems to be having a blast writing this book, and it really shines in the exchanges between Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne. Honestly I found these moments between the two characters to be extremely entertaining, and the are easily the standouts of the issue.

Jim Lee seems to have loosened up on his style since his glory days, but it’s still gorgeous. He’s one of my favorite artists, so I may be a little biased, but anytime I get to see his work in the funny books I am a happy man. Justice League may not be everything that was promised by DC, but it’s still a great read, and a definite buy for anyone interested in the new DC universe.

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Comic Reviews: COWABUNGA!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

That’s right, the Turtles are BACK! IDW has gotten the rights to turtles in a half shell, and one of their first orders of business is relaunching the team with a new #1. Spearheaded by Kevin Eastman, one of the original creators of the Turtles, the issue brings us a new villain, and surprisingly a new origin for the iconic team.

The issue starts with a standoff between Splinter, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and new villain Old Hobb. Hobb is essentially an old alley cat, who has his own gang of miscreants and a grudge with Splinter. The two groups do battle in a very well done fight sequence, and eventually the Turtles succeed. But where is Raphael? The action then moves on to show us a flashback to the Turtles new origin, which is quite the departure from the more well-known one. 

While I’m not the biggest fan of this new origin, the comic is still worth checking out, mainly because there are a lot of clues and hints as to where this will all go. Eastman not only provides the plot but also the pencil breakdowns,  which are then picked up by writer Tom Waltz and penciller Dan Duncan, whose style is both reminiscent of the original Eastman and Laird comics and its own original style. IDW and Kevin Eastman’s reinvention of the Ninja Turtles is a lot of fun, and there are enough in-jokes for fans that will bring a smile to their faces. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an old school blast that fans shouldn’t miss.

Kick-Ass 2 #3

What’s this? Kick-Ass 2 FINALLY has a new issue? Yes that’s right, your eyes are not deceiving you, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s sequel to the original hit has a new issue, even though it’s only been about 6 months since the last one. This issue finds Kick-Ass walking with his new super-hero friends, and the arrival of Red Mist, who is now a villain. This issue was worth the wait, as it starts to get the plot rolling, and features some absolutely brutal violence, courtesy of Mr. Romita Jr. Once again, even though I’m mad at this book for being so late, I can’t stay mad at it when it’s this good. 

Movie Review: Conan The Barbarian!

Movie Review:

Conan The Barbarian (2011)
Starring: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang,  Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman
Directed By: Marcus Nispel

Before I begin this review, I should mention that I’m a big fan of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan the Barbarian stories. I got the Complete Chronicles of Conan collection, which reprints all of the stories by Howard, including the ones that were left unfinished when he decided to take his own life. While I may have only gotten that book two years ago, once I started reading it I couldn’t stop. Sure, many of them start to get a little formulaic, but Howard’s creation is hands down one of my favorite characters in literature.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I am pleased to say that the latest film featuring the Cimmerian, Conan The Barbarian is a solid ride and will please the many fans of Conan.  It’s just not the perfect Conan film.
The movie begins with the birth of Conan, as he is literally ripped from his mother’s womb on the battlefield.  We then see him learn the ways of the sword from his father (played by the always awesome Ron Perlman), and his first taste of defeat as his entire village is laid to waste by Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) an insane warlord on a quest for a mask that will grant him the ability to raise the dead (and more specifically, his wife).  
That blood on his arm? Multiply it by 1,000 and you have this movie
What follows after these events is a grown up Conan absolutely destroying people as he searches for Zym.  It’s in these moments that Jason Momoa shines as the titular barbarian, and proves at least to me that he IS Conan. Yes, I honestly think he does a better job than Arnold did back in the day. A lot of this boils down to the fact that Momoa has had more experience than Arnold did when he played Conan, especially when you consider that his character on Game Of Thrones is basically the same as Conan. While I still have a soft spot for the original Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan, to be completely honest he’s not how Robert E. Howard described the character. To me Momoa is more in line with the original stories, and he shows a lot of different layers to the Cimmerian that many moviegoers haven’t seen before. Fans of the character know that just describing Conan as a barbarian is doing a huge disservice to the character, as he has been shown to be a very brilliant and cunning warrior in Howard’s stories. 
Rachel Nichols as Tamara
The rest of the cast is very solid as well. Stephen Lang plays the evil Khalar Zym and seems to have a blast playing the character. Rose McGowan is hidden under a lot of makeup to play his witch daughter Marique, who has a very, ahem, close relationship with her dad, and Rachel Nichols is Tamara, the “chosen one” who must be sacrificed by Zym so that he may use the mask. Of the characters here, Nichols’ Tamara is my favorite, as she transitions from the “damsel in distress” to “kickass warrior chick” pretty convincingly, and her interplay with Momoa is very fun to watch.
The filmmakers were this close. THIS CLOSE!
All this said Conan isn’t without its imperfections. I really wish the filmmakers had embraced some of the more fantastical aspects of Conan’s world. While there are moments where the movie looks like it was taken from a Frank Frazetta painting, there is a severe lack of Conan fighting monsters. Sure, we get a hell of a lot of limb hacking and blood spilling, but there’s no giant monster killing! We really only get one sequence with a squid-like creature in the dungeon of Zym’s stronghold, and it’s over way too quickly. The final confrontation between Conan and Zym is also over way too soon, which is a shame because the fight they have right before it is awesome.
 And of course, the film is not without its fair share of cheese. But that’s something that we (or at least I) expect from a movie like Conan The Barbarian.  It also bothers me that no one has tried just straight adapting Howard’s stories.  Don’t get me wrong, the movies we have gotten have been great, but the stories pale in comparison to the original stories and Savage Sword Of Conan comics.  Conan The Barbarian is an EXTREMELY bloody and fun movie, and fans of the character will love it. While the plot isn’t perfect, the character work is really well done, the fight scenes are suitably brutal, and Jason Momoa really shines as Conan. I’d love to see a sequel (preferably based on Howard’s story “Red Nails” or even the unfinished “Hand Of Nergal”), but unfortunately it looks like the box office returns on this one have killed any chances of that. Hopefully it will find an audience on DVD.
3 ½ CROMS! Out of 5
NOTE:  I saw the film in 3-D because it was my only option. If you have the ability to do so, see it in 2-D. You won’t be missing much.

 

Comic Reviews: Captain America! Fearsome Four!

Comic Reviews!!!!

Captain America #2

Ed Brubaker and Steve McNiven continue the adventures of Steve Rodgers in the second issue of the new Captain America ongoing. When we last left the star-spangled avenger, he, along with Sharon Carter and Nick Fury, were trying to locate a Hydra base that contained a very dangerous secret from Cap’s WW2 days. Brubaker keeps the action quick and exciting, and McNiven’s art, as always, shines. There were many times during the book that I would stop where I was on the page and just stare at his art. McNiven is truly one of the best artists out there, and this book continues his winning streak.

One of the reasons why Captain America works so well is that it encompasses the same espionage feeling that I got reading Brubaker’s work years ago. While I may have fell off the Captain America bandwagon a few years back, this book is just what I needed to get back into the swing of things. While some may not like that this book doesn’t deal with the current Marvel landscape, I think it’s a very good thing, especially when you consider that this book is designed for people picking up the book walking out of the Cap movie. Brubaker has promised that we will see the fallout of recent events in future issues, so for now let’s bask in the fact that we have yet another great issue of Captain America on the stands, shall we?

Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #3 (of 4)

For those of you who don’t know, I love the New Fantastic Four. Created in the 90’s, the temporary team consisted of Spider-man, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Wolverine, and while they were only fighting together for a few issues, those issues were awesome. So imagine my excitement when I saw this issue on the shelves, with that awesome foursome on the cover! It was more than enough reasons for me to plop my $2.99 down on Fear Itself: Fearsome Four, a Fear Itself tie-in that I have had no involvement with at all. Apparently the Fearsome Four is Howard The Duck, She-Hulk, Frankenstein, and Nighthawk, and they are fighting Man-Thing and Psycho-man. I guess Psycho-man can bring people from other realities into our own, hence why the New FF shows up. What follows is the New FF throwing down the with the Fearsome Four, and it surprisingly takes up the whole issue. While it won’t make me run out and buy the other issues, FI: FF  was a fun read, and makes me wish for a What If? mini-series starring my favorite incarnation of the Fantastic Four.

Comic Reviews: Detective Comics AGAIN!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Detective Comics #881

Yep, I’m here to review Detective Comics yet again. Why? Because it is the BEST BOOK on the shelf right now that no one is apparently reading. Seriously, go out and buy them all NOW.

Scott Snyder, Jock, and Francesco Francavilla present the astounding conclusion to the “Black Mirror” saga, and boy, is it a doozy. In these pages we finally get to see James Gordon, Jr. to be the terrifyingly sadistic individual that he has been teased to be, and Dick Grayson’s hunt to stop him before time runs out for Barbara Gordon. After this issue, James Jr. definitely stands as one of the best new villains in the Bat books, and was the perfect foil for the Dick Grayson Batman. Scott Snyder adds some brilliant touches to past Batman events (such as The Killing Joke), and his portrayal of Gordon Jr. makes the Gordon family all the more tragic.

Both Jock and Francavilla handle the art duties in this book, and while the differences between them do get a little jarring, they both deliver their A game for this finale. I particullarly loved Jock’s full page of Grayson Batman assuring Gordon that they’d catch his son, and the haunting “reveal” of what James Jr. has done to his sister Barbara.

The best thing about this issue is not only does it tie into the beginning of Snyder’s run, but how well Snyder writes James Jr., an individual who figures out Dick’s identity as the new Batman, simply from the fact that he’s known him for so long. That and his reason for returning to Gotham make this book a must read, and goes down as one of the greatest Batman stories of all time. Yes, of all time.

Fear Itself #5 ( of 7)

Hey! Stuff actually happens in this issue of Fear Itself! It’s about time that things started to heat up, and Fraction’s script definitely brings the action, as Thor throws down with The Thing and The Hulk, who have both been possessed by the Serpent’s evil hammers. Stuart Immomen draws these action scenes incredibly well, and it’s no surprise that these scenes are the best of the issue. Captain America’s face off with both Sin and The Serpent doesn’t end too well, but the scenes at the end with Spider-man are so out of character (in my opinion) that I wonder if Fraction even likes the character. This one thing aside, this issue is very good, and the action alone makes up for the slow start of this series.

Comic Reviews: The NEW Spider-man!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Ultimate Fallout #4 (0f 6)

Change is in the air in the Ultimate universe. After breaking the internet in half yesterday, Marvel has released the latest issue of Ultimate Fallout, the miniseries which explores the Ultimate Marvel universe after the death of Peter Parker.  Essentially serving as a set up for the next Ultimate relaunch, the book allows writers Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Spencer, and Jonathan Hickman to present us with a taste of what’s to come, and show off some pretty pictures. But that’s not why this particular issue is of importance. No. This issue introduces the new Spider-man for the Ultimate universe.

And he’s black.

Actually he’s half African American and half Hispanic. Yes, this issue introduces Miles Morales, another individual who somehow has similar abilities to Peter Parker. We get a quick introduction to him, then head over to the other members of the Ultimate universe. Literally we only see him for about six pages of the entire issue. However, those pages are really well done, as Bendis’ signature knack for writing the wall-crawler doesn’t seem to have been affected by the new person swinging around in the Spidey suit.  Sarah Pichelli handles the art for these scenes, and they are extremely well done and settle some of my fears about the new artist for this SECOND relaunch of the Ultimate universe (one of the reasons I gave up on the last volume of Ultimate Spider-man was due to David LaFuente’s art), and I particularly like the bystander’s reactions to Morales’ costume choice.  We also get an idea of some of the villains this new Spidey will face.

Of course I’m not surprised that we only get a few pages of Miles as Spidey, but at the same time, I’m a little annoyed that it’s so quick. To be honest though, I’m now actually going to pick up Ultimate Spider-man when it relaunches next month, which is something I never thought I’d do, as the Ultimate universe is pretty much dead to me by this point. I just stopped caring about it really. The other stories fell flat for me, mainly because I just don’t care about them. But in regards to the new Spidey, Marvel’s (GASP!) doing something different, which is exactly what the Ultimate Universe should do. As a standalone issue it’s a pass, but as a teaser for the new Ultimate Spider-man series, it’s worth checking out, even if it is only about 6 pages.

Severed #1 (of 7)

With Severedwriter Scott Snyder continues his dominance over comic books. Alongside co-writer Scott Tuft and artist Atilla Futaki, this new series from Image weaves a horror tale set in 1916, and follows Jack Garron as he tries to live the hobo life. However, something very dangerous is coming, and there is a great sense of doom coming for this character. We’re teased at this from the very beginning, as we meet Garron when his is an old man, and he’s missing something important that he has as a child.  We’re also introduced to Mister Porter, a character who may go down as the Hannibal Lecter of comics. The script by the two Scotts is solid as expected, but it’s the art by Futaki that really sticks. It’s extremely moody and spooky, but it’s also strangely beautiful. Severed is another home run by Snyder, and a must by if you’re looking to get the crap scared out of you.