Monthly Archives: January 2012
|The first time I ever saw Ghost Rider…and Spider-man|
|IMO, the Ghost Rider: Mythos one shot is the best origin|
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglass, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Haywire kicks a lot of ass. In a nutshell, it’s a typical espionage/revenge flick, but under the watchful eye of director Steven Soderbergh it’s elevated beyond the typical action movie fare, with help from the stellar cast as well. Right from the get go, Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), an agent for a private company under contract with the government, goes toe to toe with her fellow agent Aaron (Channing Tatum), and the sheer brutality of the fight hits you like a sack of bricks. Coffee is thrown in Kane’s face, Aaron gets a plate thrown at him, and in the end, Kane emerges the victor, but not without some wounds of her own.
Telling the story of Mallory Kane’s deception and revenge on the people who double crossed her, the film is a brutal action fest from start to finish, and I have to say one thing about it: I am in awe and afraid of Gina Carano, the former ultimate fighter who is the star of the film. Carano is obviously a natural when it comes to throwing down with other people, and I was honestly pretty impressed with her acting ability. Sure it wasn’t fantastic, but for Haywire being her first film, she’s not terrible at all. Plus it doesn’t hurt that she’s rounded out by a cast that includes Ewan McGregor as her boss Kenneth, Michael Douglass as a government higher-up, and the always awesome Michael Fassbender as a fellow agent named Paul (who also has a run-in with Carano).
Soderbergh lays out the plot of the film in a way that keeps us guessing, finding out the details of who is behind Kane’s betrayal at the same time she does. It can be confusing as you watch the film, but by the end the entire plan is laid out for you, and is pretty easy to piece together. Soderbergh shows that he’s no slouch in the filming of action scenes either. As someone who’s seen his Ocean’s trilogy, I had some background in how he might present the scenes, but I was really impressed with how well he presented the fight scenes. The wide angles during the rooftop chase scene midway through the film was exceptional, showing Carano close to the camera and her pursuers off in the corner of the scene, showing us how close they are to catching her. It’s the shots like these that keep Haywire in a separate league from other action films, and the presentation here is key to why the film works so well.
If you aren’t the type who can stomach brutal fights, then you should probably skip Haywire. Anyone else is in for one of the best action movies of the year so far, setting the bar pretty high for the other upcoming action flicks being released this year. I hope this film leads to Gina Carano getting more roles as well. I heard rumblings that she mentioned she would love to play Wonder Woman, and after seeing this, Warner Bros. needs to be calling her. In fact, any studio looking to cast a female action lead should call her. God help them if they don’t.
THREE black coffees to the face out of FOUR
Secret Avengers #21.1
Yes, Marvel is STILL doing their .1 issues. However, this second .1 issue for Secret Avengers welcomes new writer Rick Remender, the best writer Marvel has going right now. Featuring art by Patrick Zircher, this issue serves as a prologue of sorts to Remender’s upcoming run, with Captain America passing the torch(or Martrix for Transformers fans) of leadership to Hawkeye while on a mission in Bagalia, a fictional country run by some of Marvel’s most notorious baddies.
The whole premise behind this issue rules. In fact, I really hope that Remender continues to show us more of this country that is teeming with enemies at every corner. Right from the beginning of the issue we can see how dangerous this mission is for the two of our heroes. However, Steve Rodgers paints this as a trial mission of sorts to see how Hawkeye acts under the extreme missions that his Secret Avengers team engages in. Seeing Rodgers egg Clint Barton on after he walks into a trap (that Rodgers already knew about) was a great character moment, especially since Remender writes most of the issue from Cap’s perspective. His reaction to Hawkeye getting mad and running off was great, and seeing Cap face off with Vengeance (!!!!!) made me smile from ear to ear.
The art by Patrick Zircher is awesome as well. The main capital city of Bagalia is presented in such a dark and grimy way that you almost want to wash your hands after reading the book. This is a seedy, seedy place, and obviously not one that welcomes costumed superheroes. Zircher’s character work is great as well, and thankfully Marvel hasn’t mandated that Hawkeye look identical to his big screen portrayer just yet.
Secret Avengers #21.1 may be another .1 issue, but it’s not one that should be missed. With its spot on characterization, great visuals, and awesome location, this is a book that will please not only fans of the Secret Avengers, Captain America, and Hawkeye, but those who like espionage in their superheriocs as well. I can’t wait to see what else Remender has up his sleeve with this series.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6
We’re now entering into the second story-arc of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I am officially on board. Kevin Eastman’s reboot of the Turtles origin is a really cool and original mix of science and spirituality, with ties to feudal Japan and forms of martial arts from other countries. Seeds for a big confrontation are brewing here, and we’re also seeing the start of April and Casey Jones’ famous relationship. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a great mix of new ideas mixed in with established Turtles characters and mythos, and a must buy for fans of the Turtles in a half shell.
And with that, Mark Millar and Leinil Yu’s Superior miniseries ends. It’s been a long road to get to this issue, but after this insane finale, it was definitely worth it.
For those that need a refresher, Superior followed Simon Pooni, a young boy with cerebral palsy, and his love of Superior, a Superman-esque hero. After being visited by a strange monkey in a spacesuit, he is given the chance to become his favorite hero. Obviously he takes the offer, and does what one would expect with the powers given to him: he tries to stop every world problem that comes his way. However, there’s a catch when the space monkey returns, and tells Simon that he can continue to be Superior, but only if he offers his soul in return. Simon tells him no, and of course, the Space Monkey (who we can now assume is a demon) goes to one of the neighborhood bullies and turns him into Abraxas, the mortal enemy of Superior. That’s where this issue picks up, and boy, is it a doozy. Millar and Yu really pull out all of the stops, as Abraxas starts decimating the city, essentially forcing Simon into becoming Superior once more in order to save everyone. To him, selling his soul is nothing if it means he can save hundreds of lives.
Once you start looking at the pages drawn here, you completely understand why there was such a long wait for this issue. The sheer amount of carnage that is brought down on the city during the battle between Superior, Abraxas, and Ormon, the aforementioned Space Monkey Demon. People are dissolved into skeletons, crushed by buses, and Abraxas is even used as a missle at one point in the story. This was the finale I was hoping for, and I especially love the way Millar writes himself out of the little “soul selling” event too.
For some reason, there has been a lot of backlash towards Millar lately. I honestly don’t get it, as I think he’s one of the best creators (and hypemen) in the industry. He’s certainly got the tenacity to get his books made into movies, and if the rumors of Superior getting one come true, I will be there opening night. As long as Jon Hamm plays him that is.
Holy fuck. I usually try not to swear when I write these reviews, but that’s the only way I can describe how awesome the latest issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman is. Just when I thought they couldn’t do any better, along comes this insane mindfuck of an issue, which finds Batman searching the Court Of Owls’ labyrinth deep within Gotham City. Oh, he’s also been down there for about 8 weeks.
This issue does expand the storyline a little bit, but it’s more of an example of how the Court Of Owls operates, and my god, it is chilling. Instead of just outright killing you, they make you slowly mad, and kill you only at your lowest point. Snyder and Capullo do an absolutely chilling job of portraying this, as Bruce Wayne slowly makes his way through the maze, even though he knows he’s being played with. Snyder’s depiction of Bruce is once again spot on. His refusal to believe that the Court Of Owls knows more about Gotham than he does is proving to be his downfall, and the amazing thing about this issue is the way that we feel Bruce’s disorientation and frustration. This is in large part due to the amazing layouts by Capullo, who starts the book off like your average funny book, but slowly has the panels turn, until you don’t know what to expect, much like Bruce.
If you aren’t reading Batman by now, there is something clinically wrong with you. This is one of the best Batman stories of all time, and The Court Of Owls is an awesome new addition to the Batman mythos. This is the absolute BEST issue of the series so far, and should not be missed. Pick up the first four if you didn’t, and then pick this beast of an issue up.
Like most of you, I picked up a lot of graphic novels and hardcovers last month during Jetpack’s insane Christmas sales. They are now overtaking my bedroom in stacks, and I’ve just realized that I have no shelf space for any of them. Of the plethora of collections, I was able to snag the entire run of Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen’s Batman: Streets Of Gotham series in hardcover. I’m a huge fan of writer Paul Dini, mainly because of his and Bruce Timm’s involvement with the immortal Batman: The Animated Series. My love for that series guarantees that I will give anything Dini writes a shot. For my money, he’s one of the best writers of the denizens of Gotham City.
Despite this, Streets Of Gotham was a series that I never picked up. Released following the events of the “Battle For The Cowl” storyline, it was unfortunately placed in a pile of books that included Red Robin and Gotham City Sirens, marked with a big fat “unessential” sign above them. Well, I’ve the heard that buzz around SOG and Red Robin was pretty solid (I haven’t given Sirens a chance yet, but my love of Harley Quinn means I’ll check it out eventually), and after hearing that Dini was doing awesome things with Hush in SOG, I made it a point to pick up the hard covers.
The crux of the series picks up after two events: the “Battle for the Cowl” and the “Heart Of Hush” storyline. The former is obvious mainly because the Dark Knight in this series is Dick Grayson and Robin is Damien, while the latter is the starting point for the main storyline of the entire series: Thomas Elliot, aka Hush, has performed plastic surgery on himself to become the exact double of Bruce Wayne. Knowing that Wayne has gone missing and is presumed dead, Elliot decides to get revenge on him the only way he can: by spending all of his money. However, after he’s caught in South America by Catwoman (who’s pissed that Hush removed her heart in “Heart of Hush”) and Dick and Damien, Elliot is then kept under control by Bruce’s allies and used to make the Gotham public think that Wayne is still alive.
You might be thinking, “that’s a cool idea, but how does it stretch out to 3 hard covers?” Well, therein lies the one catch with Streets Of Gotham: it’s pretty uneven. Whenever the story focuses on Hush and his plans to ruin the Wayne Foundation, it’s fantastic. But, when the story veers off and features new villains, it becomes boring pretty quick. Much of this is in the second collection, Leviathan. The first, Hush Money, focuses primarily on Hush and features the return of notable villains like Firefly and Mr. Zasz. In fact, this series featured many of the things I wanted to see in Batman after Grayson become the Bat: him facing off with well-known bat-villains. Aside from the Judd Winick storyline with Two-Face, Dick Grayson primarily fought new villains. I understand the “new Batman needs new villains” angle, but there are so many great Bat-villains that I really wanted to see Grayson face off with some of them.
As I said before, the second volume, Leviathan, is an unfortunate misfire. Dini doesn’t write many of the storylines in that volume, but he did supply the story for them. Leviathan takes some strange detours, including the introduction of a new vigilante named Abuse, who has a kind of cool Luke Cage vibe to him. The storyline behind Mr. Zasz abducting homeless children for fights to the death is pretty cool too, but isn’t given enough time to breathe as one would hope for.
The third volume, The House Of Hush, starts off with a whimper, but quickly gains steam once the Hush-centric final story begins. The whimper takes the form of a two-parter that features The Carpenter, a really, really stupid character that creates hideouts for different villains in Gotham. I’m sure she could be interesting, but this story doesn’t do her any favors. However, that’s quickly over, and we get even more awesome back-story on Thomas Elliot and his families connection to the Waynes. House Of Hush shows us how Thomas Wayne met Martha, and the turn of events that cause the Elliot family to fall apart as the Wayne family is just beginning. The tale is juxtaposed against Elliot teaming with a paroled elderly gangster who is looking to kill Bruce Wayne as revenge against his parents sending him to prison. Elliot, who is originally kidnapped by the gangster because of his “resemblance” to Wayne, quickly joins forces once he learns that Wayne has returned as Batman.
The return of Bruce Wayne is handled pretty differently in Streets of Gotham than in other books. And by differently, I mean that Bruce just shows up. The only reaction we get is from Catwoman, and while it’s a good one, I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Bruce and Dick in this title. Despite this, Streets Of Gotham is worth your time and money, especially if you are a fan of Hush, arguably the best new Batman villain of the past decade.
Scarlet Spider #1 (Marvel)
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Ryan Stegman
The Scarlet Spider has never been a character I’ve particullarly liked. This may come as a surprise to you readers, as my love of Spider-man knows no bounds, but even as an eight-year old novice comic reader the dreaded “Clone Saga” rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was because I was being lead to believe that my beloved Peter Parker was the wrong character. Maybe it was the clone’s hoodie. Or maybe I was already averse to the chrome covers and 90’s hype machine (it was probably the hoodie though). Regardless of my personal feelings towards the Scarlet Spider and the Clone Saga, Marvel has decided that the 90’s are back, and with it, the return of Spidey’s sidekick. “But Ben Reilly is long dead isn’t he?” you say. Well you’re right. This time, it’s Kaine behind the mask, the other Parker clone who used to have a bit of a skin problem. As well as a “murdering people in cold blood” problem.
This opening issue finds Kaine arriving in Houston, Texas. His first order of business is stopping a dockside underworld deal. At first we believe he ‘s in it out of the goodness of his heart, until he steals their cash afterwards of course. Afterwards, he finds a cargo container filled with dead bodies, and after attempting to get the police involved, he spends the rest of the issue debating about whether or not he should get involved further with the case. Since the events of “Spider-Island”, Kaine has been cured of his scarring, and even has some new power to boot (including organic webbing). He keeps saying (numerous times) that he’s “not Parker”, yet we all know that he’s going to be a new vigilante by the end of the this storyarc.
I guess that’s what fills me with indifference towards the book. It spends literally almost the entire thing filling us in on what Kaine’s been through, who he is, and why he’s not the same as Peter Parker, even though we all know that he’s going to go on a path of redemption. While I understand this may be necessary for new readers, but I’d imagine that a majority of the people picking this up are coming from Amazing Spider-man, in which Kaine has played a pretty major role. Also, this issue never shows Kaine rocking that sweet costume he’s wearing on the cover. At all. In fact, he spends a majority of his fights out of costume, something that makes me wonder why writer Christopher Yost didn’t have ANY bystanders comment on the fact that some shirtless dude just swung down from a web. Seriously? NO ONE is going to bring that up? I know it’s the Marvel universe, but still.
Despite the script, the art by Ryan Stegman is fantastic. His panel layouts from the opening of the issue are awesome, in which we follow some spiders as they move across the page, guiding our reading. His two page spread describing Kaine’s origin is awesome as well, and the opening fight reminded me a lot of the first time we see Batman in Batman Begins. Stegman’s definitely going to be one to keep a lookout on in the years to come.
Scarlet Spider didn’t do enough for me this time around, but I’ll be keeping my eyes on it for the foreseeable future. Hopefully the pace picks up a little bit next issue, as the idea of Spider-man without the sense of responsibility is a great one. However, fans of the 90s could do worse than picking this guy up. I just think I’ll let this one swing by for the time being (zing!).
Green Lantern #5 (DC)
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Now this is what I’m talking about! Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke crank the action up to 11 with the newest issue of Green Lantern. Hal Jordan and Sinestro make their escape from Korugar, and holy crap, the action is fast and relentless. Mahnke’s art is incredible here. His page where Sinestro uses his power battery to…well I won’t spoil it, but it’s gloriously gory and awesome. There’s a great twist involving the Sinestro Corps as well, and shows just how awesomely cold and calculating Sinestro can be. Sinestro’s long road to (possible) redemption is something that Johns has long been hinting at, and it seems now that we may be watching him start that journey (on his own terms, of course). Highly recommended.
|Yes. This WILL rule.|
|Look, and weep at its glory…..|
In all seriousness though, 2012 is going to be the year of the nerd, which actually kind of convinces me that the world may end in 2012. After a year that sees Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth share the screen, as WELL as having BOTH Spider-man and Batman in cinemas in the same month, does the world really need to keep going? I personally side with Rich and hope that by this time next year we’ll be in a Mad Max-like existence, fighting each other for food and gasoline. I’ll be the guy with the shotgun and the bitchin’ lego sets.
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)
Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison
Directed By: Troy Nixey
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark is the latest film presented by the great Guillermo Del Toro. Unfortunately he is not the man behind the camera for this film (that won’t happen until Pacific Rim, which is currently filming). Despite this fact, the film still has the feeling of a Del Toro picture, even if it does fall into some horror movie cliches along on the way.
The film begins with Sally (Bailee Madison) arriving at an airport, where she meets her dad Alex (Guy Pearce), and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). Unknown to her, Sally’s mom has sent her to live with her dad, who is currently remodeling the run down Blackwood Manor in Rhode Island. The house is creeptastic, but it doesn’t prevent Alex from believing that he can resell the property for his client. Sally is depressed, unhappy, and not very welcoming towards her dad’s new ladyfriend, and one day while walking around the property she discovers a basement. Of course the family investigates it, and guess what? Sally accidentally unleashes a horde of tiny, nocturnal, demonic imp like creatures called “tooth fairies”. The creatures feed off human bones and teeth (specifically children’s), and according to some folklore, they leave behind pieces of silver. The creatures then begin tormenting poor Sally, making her father and Kim believe that she has gone nuts.
Yes, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark has many of the old horror movie stand by cliches. Characters go into dark rooms by themselves, the protraganist is regarded as acting strange, and many times you wonder why Alex and Kim wouldn’t just pack up their shit and get out of the house. Despite all of this, the movie is still a very solid rental, and the ending is pretty unexpected. I also love the look of the creatures. They have a very cool style that’s unique, and they were portrayed as not only nasty creatures, but extremely intelligent as well. Some of the ways that they took out our human cast was fantastic, and very creepy.
Don’t Be Afraid Of the Dark isn’t going to go down as this generation’s The Exorcist or Poltergiest, but it’s still a pretty solid (PG-13) horror film. Troy Nixey’s camera work has just the right amount of creep factor, especially when poor Sally is taking a bath when the creatures decide to strike. It’s also apparent that Del Toro’s fingerprints are all over this film (all one has to do is look at the design of Blackwood and the creatures). Unfortunately, by the end of the film, I was wishing that Del Toro had a “Film By” credit before his name instead of “Executive Producer”.
Verdict: 2 1/2 Human Teeth out of four
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips latest collaboration is Fatale, another crime noir, except this time with a very strange H.P. Lovecraft-type twist. Much like Criminal and Incognito, the story has some average joe type beat cops, gangsters and lowlifes, and of course, a femme fatale.
The femme fatale in question is Josephine, who may or may not be immortal (hint: she probably/most definitely is). She meets a man named Nicky Lash at his godfathers funeral, and sets in motion the story of the series, set in 1956. Reporter Hank Raines, lash’s deceased godfather from the present day prologue, is meeting with Josephine in a bar to discuss a story he’s investigating involving crooked cops. At the same time, there have been a string of murders, all with strange, occult-like set ups. Bodies hang upside down, heads are removed from bodies, and guts strewn about the floors. Sean Phillips’ depictions of these grotesque acts is pretty stomach churning, but at the same time are so well drawn that you can’t look away from them.
Just as beautiful (but not in any way as grotesque) is Phillips’ rendition of Josephine. She has that striking beauty found in those “old Hollywood” movies, and in some panels bares a striking resemblance to Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer. Brubaker does a fantastic job with giving us just enough information about Josephine to keep us interested, but no so much that we don’t feel the need to keep reading. There is one full page splash involving Josephine, Nazis, and a tentacle-head demon thing that asks so many questions that it’s impossible to not want to know what happens next.
Fatale is a fantastic debut issue, and looks to be the start of another amazing series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Anyone looking for something new to test out, or is like me and trade waited on Incognito after you heard about the hype, then you need to give this guy a shot. Just don’t be surprised if you feel a little creeped out by it after reading.
Action Comics #5
The latest issue of Action Comics is a tricky one. It doesn’t address any of the cliffhangers from the previous issue, and also presents yet another take on the Man Of Steel’s origin. The issue also falls into Morrison’s current habit of having you fill in the gaps between panels. However, I still enjoyed the issue. I can’t explain it. Maybe I’m starting to understand Morrison’s new found love of making you work for the story? Or was it just that the art by Andy Kubert was so good? (It is by the way).
Like most nerds (and even non-nerds) I can recite the origin of Superman by heart, and yet while Morrison keeps it largely the same, there are enough tweaks to make it interesting. I really enjoyed the openings and endings to this issue, even if I have no idea who the other people standing with Superman are supposed to be. I think maybe they’re the Legion Of Superheroes? Maybe?
Regardless, Action Comics continues to be a solid book, and one of the standouts of the new 52. It’s well worth your time, and is leaps and bounds over Superman.