Monthly Archives: November 2011

Comic Reviews: Nathan Drake Gets A Comic!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Uncharted #1 (of 6)

Video game comics suck. It’s a proven fact in the comic book industry. Thankfully, we finally have an exception to the rule: DC Comic’s premiere issue of Uncharted, based on the video game of the same name. Featuring an original story that takes place between the first and second games, the first issue finds Nathan Drake and his pal Sully hashing out their latest treasure hunt. This time, they’re going for the Amber Room, a mysterious room that was stolen from the Russians by the Nazis. Thanks to a journal he finds from the gunfight in the opening of the issue, Drake learns that the Russians got the room back, and hired Richard Evelyn Bird (the first man to fly to the North Pole) to hide it again. Apparently Byrd was a believer in the “Hollow Earth Theory”, in which there is a whole other civilization underground (oh, we also see how Nathan meets a certain ally for the first time as well). Cue the “Uncharted” theme, and…..GO!

What makes this issue so awesome is that writer Joshua Willaimson is an obvious fan of the characters. The book feels like a lost adventure that could’ve been one of the games (Uncharted 1.5?). The dialogue that he writes reads like it would be coming from Nathan Drake’s mouth, and the macguffin that Drake and Sully are after is something that is generally intriguing. The only thing that would’ve made this book feel even more like the games is if the theme song started up when you opened the book up, or if you had to press triangle to turn the page rapidly after a two page ad.

Artist Sergio Sandoval does an impeccable job on art duties, simultaneously making the characters recognizable but his own. His facial work is incredible for the many expressions that the characters make, and his action scenes are very fluid.  I cannot recommend Uncharted enough. If you are a fan of the games you NEED to pick this up. With this issue, Nathan Drake has found the true lost treasure: a good comic book based on a video game.

Daredevil #6

Apparently I’m the only person who works at Jetpack Comics that enjoys Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil. After years of being Marvel’s whipping boy, I actually enjoy seeing Matt Murdock happy. Seriously, if he was a real person he would’ve stuck his head in an oven a loooooong time ago.
Anyways, this issue finds ol’ hornhead going round two with The Bruiser, a C-list Marvel villain who can change his center of gravity. The fight between the two is really cool, and artist Marcos Martin (who is sadly leaving after this issue) draws it wonderfully. His representation of Daredevil’s powers is the coolest I have ever seen, and I am a huge fan of his artwork. I honestly believe that Daredevil is one of the best books Marvel is publishing right now. Daredevil is dead. Long live Daredevil!

CANCELLED!

What do these three have in common? THEY’RE ALL CANCELED!
With the many recent press releases last week, no one would blame you for assuming that Marvel is cleaning house with a vast majority of their titles.  However, I don’t think anyone assumed that there would be SO MANY titles being canned. Daken: Dark Wolverine, X-23, Alpha Flight, Black Panther and of course Ghost Rider (which I’m going to take complete credit for) are all getting axe, along with a whole slew of other titles, some of which, like Victor Von Doom, weren’t even published before they got the axe.
While I commend Marvel for making these difficult decisions, I wonder what else goes into their thinking behind these cancellations. A book like Black Panther may not sell extremely well, but I’m sure there are fans of the character who loved that series. Same with Ghost Rider, a series I was picking up until recently, and was planning on starting up again as soon as Johnny Blaze was given the spirit of vengeance again (you all know it was going to happen, he has another movie coming out soon). 
Not even Wolverine with boobs could  escape cancellation  
These cancellations are long past due for some titles, but some (Von Doom for example) were never even given a chance to sell before they were cancelled. It’s very disappointing, as I was really looking forward to Nick Spencer’s take on the man who would become Dr. Doom. Unfortunately it looks like I was the only one. It’s also disheartening to hear of some of these cancellations so soon after the announcement of yet another Avengers title, to be released in time for the movie this upcoming May. Look, I completely understand why there are so many Avengers titles financially (they make casssshhhhh), but is there really a need for THREE different series, especially when some characters (Spider-man and Wolverine) appear in two different teams? (Remember when Marvel started publishing SEVEN Deadpool books?)  I would much prefer Marvel publishing the regular Avengers and New Avengers together and charging me six bucks a month instead of filling up the shelves with more and more books featuring “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”.

The same can be said for other titles too. Of the 52 new DC books, we have five Batman titles, two Superman books, and four Green Lantern books. Sure, there are reasons for all of them, but seriously, how can one justify the existence of Batman: The Dark Knight or Green Lantern: New Guardians? If anything, it works against DC’s “new reader friendly” stance, as many first time customers will get confused when they see multiple Batman books staring them in the face. We comic fans may know the difference between Detective Comics and Batman, but the average guy coming in off the street  
                                     probably doesn’t. 

Cancellations are the norm for the comic book business. Some books that deserve cancellation get it, and sometimes the ones we want to stick around, don’t. But it’s kind of sad when a book is canned before it’s even given a shot at the comic store. Hopefully Marvel will try and make better decisions when it comes to what kind of books get the axe, and which ones will stick around.
 
 Roided up Ventriloquist, actual panel from Batman: The Dark Knight

Movie Review: The Muppets!!!

Movie Review:

The Muppets (2011)
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Walter
Directed By: James Bobin

The Muppets was one of the films I was most looking forward to this year, and it does not disappoint. This is a love letter to Muppets fans, by Muppets fans, and it is a nostalgia filled blast from the past. The film centers around Gary (Jason Segel, who also wrote the film), and his brother Walter, a muppet. The two are die-hard Muppet fans, and when Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) head off to Los Angeles for their ten-year anniversary, Walter tags along to see the sites. When they visit the famed Muppet Studio, they learn that a shady oil tycoon named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), is planning on the buying the studio and tearing it down. Heartbroken, the trio determine to find the Muppets, convince them to reunite, and save the studio.

What works best about the film is the fact that you can really see the amount of love and affection that Segel and director James Bobin have for the Muppets of old. There are some great fourth-wall breaking jokes that had me cracking up, and many of the adults in the audience at my theater enjoyed them as well. There was also a good balance of young kid humor (fart jokes) to keep the younger viewers entertained. I really loved seeing what the Muppets had been up to since they all moved on from showbiz, with Miss Piggy’s being my personal favorite.

Speaking of Miss Piggy, the cameo in her scene was one of the best of the movie, which is saying something in a film that is nearly jam packed with them. In fact, the lead singer from my favorite band also makes an appearance. I’ll save the surprise, but I will say it’s very appropriate and hilarious in the context of the film. 

The only downside to the film is Chris Cooper’s musical number (yes you read that right), which comes out of nowhere and honestly wasn’t that funny. However, it’s over fairly quickly and the rest of the musical numbers are fantastic. The new songs for the film are catchy and fit right in with the Muppet songs you already know and love.  In fact, one of them made me tear up a little bit. Strange that felt puppets can get to me emotionally, but most films with human actors barely register a whimper.

The Muppets is a must-see for fans of the characters. Nearly every Muppet is shown in the film (and my favorite, Beaker, gets some pretty great moments), and there are so many great moments that make you genuinely feel good that it’s impossible not to recommend this movie to everyone. Watching The Muppets was like running into a good friend that you haven’t seen in years. In many ways, it reminds you of what made you fall in love with The Muppets in the first place, and recaptures that feeling you had when you first say them, whether is was on the original show, Sesame Street, or one of their older films. I cannot recommend The Muppets more. Go see it. Twice. And bring your son, daughter, niece, nephew, younger brother or sister, or kids you babysit so they can see what makes these guys so great.

Four 1/2 Beakers out of Five

Comic Reviews: Fantastic Four #600!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Fantastic Four #600

Counting the series FF, Marvel’s first family hits the 600th issue mark with this issue.  We’re also celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the team as well, and man, is this a doozy.  Simultaneously finishing his previous story and starting his next one, Jonathan Hickman’s story hits many of the threads he has left throughout his run on FF, and of course includes the surprising (or not) return of a classic ally.

The issue begins with the Future Foundation, Avengers, X-Men, and nearly every other major Marvel hero defending New York from the Kree invasion that we were teased with in FF #11.  The action scenes here are really cool, even if Steve Epting’s depictions of some characters is a little wonky. His Red Hulk appeared to me to have an extremely tiny head. However, the issue has so many cool action moments that it’s hard not to enjoy it, and there’s a great fight between Spider-man and some of the annihulus creatures towards the end that reveals our big “surprise” at the end.

But this is just the first story. There are four more contained in this massive anniversary issue. The second story sheds some insight into what has been going on in the Negative Zone in the past year, and this was absolutely my favorite story of the issue. The art by Carmine Di Giandomenico is fantastic, and really makes me wish that he will get a regular ongoing at some point in the near future (Doctor Strange maybe?).  The other stories focus on Black Bolt and that Inhumans, Franklin Richards, and of course, Galactus, and it’s really fun to see Hickman’s take on characters that don’t always get a chance to have the spotlight. It proves how great of a handle he has on the Fantastic Four world, and how successfully he is with these side characters.

This anniversary issue costs $8, which is a lot for a comic. However, it’s worth the cash. There are no reprints of older stories or useless cover galleries to be found within this book. All 100 pages are written by Hickman. This is what anniversary issues should be like.

Invincible #85

Robert Kirkman’s other book takes a breather from it’s title character’s life this issue. It also features the return of original Invincible artist Corey Walker. This issue focuses on Mark’s father Omni-man, his wife, and younger brother Oliver on a distant alien planet as they try to deal with the ramifications of the Viltrumite War. The remaining Viltrumites struck a deal with Omni-Man and Invincible to be allowed to remain on Earth, and Allen the Alien (a member of the Coalition of Planets) rightfully thinks this is a bad idea.  Omni-Man believes that being with humans will help rehabilitate the Viltrumite’s tendencies for extreme violence.  While this may seem like a filler issue, Kirkman’s strong writing makes this issue better than most of the action-packed issues. Walker’s busy alien city scapes are really awesome, as is his facial work, which many times had me laughing out loud. Invincible #85 is a prime example of why this is one of the best superhero books around.

Trade Waiting: Avengers Academy Vol. 1 and 2

Trade Waiting: Avengers Academy Vol. 1 and 2
In this latest installment of trade waiting, we’ll be looking at a series that I have heard amazing things about, but had yet to read: Avengers Academy. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by Mike McKone, the series introduces us to a whole new set of characters, all from the “Dark Reign” era of Marvel, as they are ushered into the “Heroic Age” under the tutelage of Dr. Hank Pym, Tigra, Quicksilver, Justice, and Speedball.  Living in the Infinite Avengers Mansion, the team is trained to hone their powers to become the next wave of heroes, when in actuality Pym and Co. are worried that the team may become the next wave of villains. You see, all of the characters in the book have one thing in common: Norman Osborn horrifically tortured them all in order for their powers to manifest and grow.
All of the characters in Avengers Academy are fantastic, and with the exception of one of them, aren’t “younger versions” of a popular characters, which is extremely refreshing, and a testament to Christos Gage’s originality.  The team is naturally diverse, and every member is given his or her moment to shine.  Their origin stories are unique and many times, tragic. The back-stories for Hazmat and Striker are two phenomenal examples, and there are many layers to these characters because of them. It would be impossible to not see the similarities between them and Marvel’s merry mutants. There’s not a bad member of the team, though my personal favorites are Veil, Mettle, and Finesse, the alleged daughter of Taskmaster. 
Christos Gage’s script is able to remind you of the classic Claremont era Uncanny X-Men, but also be something completely original as well. His handle on Marvel history is stunning. Many past Avengers foes, like Korvac, make appearances, but are still presented in a way that is approachable for new readers.  There’s also a great balance of quiet character moments and action, as the team tries to learn how to act in battle, many times out of their leagues and in way over their heads.  This is also another plus for the book, as the characters make mistakes and learn from them, much like actual, real-life teenagers do.  The art by Mike McKone is stunning. His figure work on the characters is fantastic, and he really does a great job of giving each character their own unique way of moving and posturing. He’s no slouch in the action sequences either. Finesse’s sparring match with Taskmaster in the second volume is one of the coolest fight scenes I’ve seen this year, expertly paced and planned so as though you almost get dizzy trying to keep up with these two world class fighters.
The first volume of the arc is a great introduction to the characters and set-up of the book, but the title really picks up steam in the second volume, which includes the previously mentioned Finesse/Taskmaster fight, Korvac’s attack, and even a school dance with guest stars the Young Allies. In fact, that one issue was probably my favorite of the whole collection. It’s the prime example of what the book is about, and how much fun it is.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gage at Free Comic Book Day last year, and up until that point, I had only read his great Spider-man & The X-Men and Spider-man & The Fantastic Four miniseries, but I hope to see him again next year so I can talk about this wonderful book with him. We’ve got both collections at Jetpack, (and if you look reeaaallllll hard you may find volume one on the sale hard covers table) and the series just started a brand new story line with issue 21 that’s perfect for new readers. I know this is one series that I will definitely be sticking with, and is; in all honesty, one of the best books Marvel has produced in th

Comic Reviews: Captain America and Batman!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Captain America #4

The long-delayed fourth issue of Ed Brubaker and Steve McNiven’s Captain America has finally seen shelves, and it was worth the wait for McNiven’s art alone.

Picking up where the last issue left off, Cap is stuck in the strange dream world created by his former WW2 squad mate. This us quite a departure from the Ed Brubaker Cap tails of old, but it’s also a very welcome change of pace for the character. Not to mention it allows Steve McNiven to draw the craziest things he can.  A sequence towards the beginning of the issue has Steve walking through a street with a reporter. As he walks he notices a strange crack in a wall, when he walks towards it, pieces of his suit start emerging on his skin, until he has his full Captain America outfit on. This scene was expertly done, and reminded me a lot of Inception, one of my all time favorite movies. The final installment of this storyline is in the next issue, and I cannot wait to see what other crazy concepts Brubaker and McNiven can come up with.

Batman #3

What else is there to say about Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman that I haven’t already? This is, simply put, one of the best Batman stories of all time, and will quite possibly end up being a career-defining run for both Snyder and Capullo.  We get more glimpses into the mysterious “Court Of Owls”, and my god, are they creepy. Capullo’s style on this book is definitely unique, and I personally love it. This is the best of the new DC books. 

Event Fatigue: Fear Itself and Spider-Island

Comic book events are big business. They’re a way for publishers to feature all of their major characters, while also guaranteeing a sure seller, as fans will HAVE to pick up the book in order to know what is happening in their favorite titles.  It’s no surprise that Marvel comics, who has just wrapped up two major event storylines, has been majorly guilty of this, and in this first installment of “Event Fatigue” we’re going to judge both “Spider-Island” and Fear Itself.
The Marvel heroes mimic their fans as the latest issue comes out!
Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first. Fear Itself was, by nearly all accounts, an extreme failure of an event. When the hype began, we were promised something that would not only cause the civilians of the Marvel universe to be frightened, but the heroes as well.  Well, this was never really touched on at all in the story. In fact, Fear Itself fell into a lot of the usual tropes of the event miniseries: a new, “all-powerful” big bad shows up, defeats the heroes (possibly killing one), then the heroes return with new powers and defeat the enemy (with probably another hero sacrifice).  FI followed this blueprint exactly, and all of the emotional moments fell extremely flat.
This awesome image? Never mentioned.

It’s really unfortunate for Fear Itself ‘s writer Matt Fraction, because up until this point he was pretty much unstoppable as the writer behind the phenomenal Invincible Iron Man.  I tend to think that a lot of the series’ faults is because of Marvel editorial forcing Fraction to include certain things, even at the cost of rushing the story. This theory also explains the additional .1, .2, and .3 issues that add some much needed character development to the story (and allow Marvel to pimp the series out one more time).  At least Stuart Immonen’s art was consistent throughout.
On the flip side of the Marvel events is “Spider-Island”, the Spider-man centric summer event. Taking place in the confines of Amazing Spider-man, Venom, and a few other tie-ins, this event saw the entirety of New York City gain spider-powers, leaving your friendly neighborhood Spidey to solve the mystery before they escape the city. It sounds completely dumb, and I’ll admit to groaning out loud when I first heard of the idea for the event, but I have to say, as a life-long Spidey fan I really ended up enjoying the storyline much more than I thought I would. Sure, I wasn’t a fan of some of the events that transpired (the ending seemed little rushed, and I’m not too keen on the return of the Scarlet Spider), but when compared to some of the other Marvel events that were happening at the same time, “Spider-Island” was surprisingly good, even if I’m not entirely sure how The Jackal came back to life.
A big plus for “Spider-island” was its accessibility. For the first time in a while I was able to read an event without any of the major tie-ins and still understand what was going on.  In fact, the only tie-ins I read were in Venom, which was a book I was already reading prior to the event. Dan Slott was able to take an idea that sounded like it was from a Marvel Adventures kid’s comic and make it pretty awesome, and artist Humberto Ramos ended up doing some the best work of his career. There are multiple covers of his from the run that I would love to have as posters, especially the cover to the final installment of the story. “Spider-Island” was able to not only tell an entertaining Spider-man story, but it also moved the character forward and offer some new developments in his life.  I think a lot of people looked at the series and dismissed it, but I have to say, if you are looking for a fun story, you won’t regret picking it up. 
So, after looking at these two events, what’s the VERDICT:
Fear Itself: C
“Spider-Island”: B+

Comic Reviews: The Avenging Spider-man!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

The Avenging Spider-man #1

It probably goes without saying that I’ve really been looking forward to Avenging Spider-man, the new ongoing starring the webbed wall-crawler. The first ongoing since “One More Day” made it so there would be only Amazing Spider-man, Avenging can also be considered as a relaunch of the classic Marvel Team-up series that also starred Spider-man. Oh, it’s also drawn by Joe Madureira, one of my absolute favorite artists of all time. It’s also written by Zeb Wells, one of the key writers of the “Brand New Day” era of Spidey, who has a knack for Spider-man sense of humor.

The issue starts off with a bang, as Spider-man and his fellow Avengers (both “new” and “classic”) are battling some giant AIM robots. After the battle, Spidey and Red Hulk head back to New York City, which is conveniently being attacked by the Mole Man’s moloids. What follows is a balls to the wall action packed comic, with Spidey and Rulk teaming up to try and put a stop to the invasion, which is happening during the famous NYC Marathon.

Zeb Wells’ script is fantastic, and keeps the action fast and furious. If Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-man is the character-driven book, then Wells’ Avenging is the action movie book. Focusing more on Spider-man in costume, this book features all of the adventure and suspense that longtime readers love about the character, and also allows him to team up with characters he may not get to meet every now and then. Joe Madureira’s art is back to its stellar self (after the setback that was Ultimates 3), and as long as he can keep up with the schedule of a monthly book, then we’re going to have a book that could quickly become a blockbuster. It goes without saying, but I cannot wait for the next issue.

Demon Knights #3
One of the “edge” titles of the new DC relaunch is Demon Knights, a very surprising and entertaining book from writer Paul Cornell and artist Diogenes Neves. Set in the medieval DC universe, Cornell’s adventures of Etrigan the Demon and his rag tag group of magicians and knights is one hell of a book, and is well worth your $3. Many of these characters are completely new to me, but I have had no problem diving right in. Cornell is able to give each character their own distinct voice, and Neves is an artist to keep your eye on in the coming months. There are a lot of offerings with the new DCU, and I hope that this book isn’t overlooked because of it.

Comic Reviews: Uncanny X-Men #1 and Blair Butler’s Heart!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Uncanny X-Men #1

Like Wolverine and The X-Men last week, this week sees the launch of another new number one X-book. This time it’s the relaunch of one of the few Marvel titles that has never been renumbered: Uncanny X-Men. Like Wolvie’s book, Uncanny stems from the recent events in Schism, except this time it focuses on the mutants who sided with Cyclops and are living on the island Utopia, off the coast of San Francisco.

The issue opens with Cyclops addressing Magneto, Storm, Namor, Colossus, and other members of his team, explaining his reasons for having them there. Essentially Cykes wants his X-Men team to act as a kind of West Coast Avengers, while also protecting their human race. Writer Keiron Gillen does an excellent job with Scott Summers’ dialogue here, as he expresses the need to protect the children at Wolverine’s school, despite the fact that the two of them came to blows during Schism. Later on, the team faces off against Mr. Sinister, one of my favorite Marvel villains, whom has taken an interest in a strange celestial creature off the coast of San Francisco.

The script by Gillen is very solid, but it’s Carlos Pacheco’s artwork that is the stand out here. My god, it’s pretty. Pacheco’s stellar line work and figures creates some amazing looking panels, even if the “Juggacolossus” still looks completely ridiculous. Like Wolvie’s team book last week, I went into this one cold (other than the fact that I knew Cyclops and Wolverine hate each other more now), and while it wasn’t as new-reader friendly as I wanted, it’s still a solid first issue, with plenty of action. I’ve always been more of a Wolverine guy, but I am intrigued about where this storyline goes.

Heart  #1 (of 4)

Written by G4’s comic reviewer Blair Butler, Heart is unlike many of the comics I typically read. Focusing not on capes but on MMA fighting, Butler’s comic tells the typical underdog tale of a young fighter getting into the ring. Kevin Mellon’s art is very suitable to the script, and I gotta say, I was really getting into the story. I know nothing about MMA fighting, but this book was still very accessible, and something you should definitely check out if you’re looking for something different for your pull list.