Monthly Archives: February 2012

Comic Reviews!!: Justice League and The Cape!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Justice League #6

Well here we are, at the end of the first story arc of Justice League. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s flagship title of the New DC universe has been an enjoyable action-heavy romp that doesn’t focus too much on the relationships between our characters, especially when villains’ faces need to be smashed in. Picking up where the previous issue left off, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman are battling Darkseid, hoping to distract him from Batman, who has followed an kidnapped Superman to Apocalypse.  What follows is an extremely entertaining fight that is pretty violent as well.  Johns’ script keeps the action flowing, but does get a little hampered by dialogue from a bystander who goes on to write a novel about the heroes by issue’s end. There are some cheesy lines here, but that’s also a little expected in a comic about the Justice League.  You’re here for the action, and less for groundbreaking comic writing that will change the way you think.

Speaking of action, the fight between Darkseid and the remaining Leaguers is one of the coolest of the year so far, and extremely brutal. Seeing (SPOILER) Aquaman and Wonder Woman BOTH stab Darkseid in the eyes was wicked cool, and definitley showed you that they aren’t messing around here. The entire planet is at stake, and there is no room to be diplomatic now.  As expected, Jim Lee draws the hell out of this issue,  and his two page splash page of a freed Superman attacking Darkseid is one of the top images of the year.  We’re also treated to two teasers at the end of the issue, one for the next storyline (which will take place in modern day) and another that will take place later on, and focus on Pandora, the mysterious woman who appeared in all of the first issues of the DC relaunch.

Justice League #6 is the kind of bombastic action title that you would expect from DC’s main team.  The action is intense and brutal, and looks incredible. Sure there’s some pretty cheesy dialogue, but at the same time, it’s so cool seeing these heroes interact with one another (and having Jim Lee draw them) that you don’t even care. If you haven’t been reading Justice League there’s something clinically wrong with you.

The Cape #4 (of 4)

Speaking of people being clinically wrong themselves, I present to you the final issue of The Cape, in which our “hero” Eric hits another low. He’s already killed his ex-girlfriend and his mother, and now he’s going after his brother Nicky.  Starting with a haunting flashback, Jason Ciaramella paints a truly heartbreaking story of a younger brother who clearly has something wrong with him, yet his older brother still protects him, even now, when there is no turning back. Everything that has been building up since the one-shot last year comes to a head in this issue, where Eric waits for his brother atop the Prudential building in Boston.  What follows is a stunning and tragic end to our story, which will definitely go down as one of he top miniseries of the year.

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Marvel vs. DC: Round Two!

Ladies and gents, the 90’s

Back in 1996, Marvel and DC decided to make as much money as they possibly could by launching DC Versus Marvel (or Marvel Versus DC, depending on the issue). As a ten-year-old kid, it blew my mind, especially the opening issue that featured Spider-man talking with The Joker.  The entire concept was really stupid, with the two universes being described as cosmic deities who decided to have their greatest champions battle one another once they notice each other.  The losing universe would cease to exist, although there was really no reason behind why the two brothers wanted to fight each other so badly. Five of the battles’ contenders were chosen by readers, which contained the obvious (Superman vs. Hulk) to the dumb (Aquaman vs. Sub-mariner), and led to the awesome “Amalgam” universe, which included the Batman/Wolverine mash up Dark Claw. MvD was the ultimate 90’s comic, and IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
I can think of no better way to get new blood into comic book stores than having Marvel and DC throw down again.  DC’s “New 52” has helped some, but many newcomers are starting to get lost in the whole “what’s actually rebooted and what’s held over from the old stuff”, plus seeing five Batman titles doesn’t help ease the confusion. Marvel’s also been trying their hand at accessibility, in their own way of course, which means that we get event after event, “.1” issues, and renumbering whenever they feel like it. Since Marvel can’t stop themselves from having an event every six months, and we all know that DC will lead to an event soon, the two companies need to put aside their differences and give us a new, improved Marvel vs. DC throw down.
Majestic
It’s been sixteen years since the original DC Versus Marvel, and eight years since their last crossover with Avengers/Justice League. As awesome as that event was, it’s time for some updated skirmishes. As I said before, the original MvD is a relic from the 90’s. Superman is rocking his mullet,  Wolverine has bone claws, Hulk is smart, and the Spider-man in the event is Ben Reilly (shudder). Even Superboy has his god-awful leather jacket.  The comic book world has changed so much since it was published that the characters that were popular then are not as popular as they are now. It’s time to kick out the dust and have the top characters on either side of the fence throw down. I’m talking Deadpool vs. Lobo, Nightwing vs. Daredevil, Damian Wayne vs. Kid Omega, Batman vs. Wolverine, Nova vs. Green Lantern, Ghost Rider vs. Etrigan, and of course, Hulk vs. Superman.  Throw in the teams, too! Have Uncanny X-Force take on Suicide Squad. Justice League Dark vs. The Defenders. Even let the Avengers and the Justice League have a rematch. Hell, the two companies could even have fans vote once again, except this time create a Facebook or Twitter event for it.
Name me one person who WOULDN’T want to see this
I’m curious about Avengers vs. X-Men, but to be honest, another Marvel/DC fight would be just what the doctor ordered for the comic book world.  If you told your buddies who go see the superhero films with you about Avengers vs. X-Men they might check it out, but I bet if you told them that Superman and The Hulk were going to fight again they’d be asking for directions to the nearest comic shop. While I understand that competition brings out the best in some situations, if Marvel and DC want to ensure that comic books can continue on, they need to do this event at some point in the near future. Who knows, maybe they already have, and I’ll get my wish of seeing the Amalgam universe’s Dark Claw on the comic rack once more.    

One Day

Comic Reviews: Uncanny X-Force and Batman: The Dark Knight!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Uncanny X-Force #22

Rick Remender’s “Trial of Fantomex” storyline continues in this issue of Uncanny X-Force,  which starts to pick up after the rather lackluster past two issues.  While still a little confusing, Remender gives us some great character moments and reveals that keep the plot moving.

X-Force is still split on Otherworld, with Psylocke attempting to free Fantomex from her brother Captain Britain, and Wolverine, Deadpool, and Nightcrawler (from the Age Of Apocalypse timeline) caught in the middle of a war between the Captain Britain Corps and a demonic army intent on taking over the dimension. Remender really shines here and shows off how well he knows all of these characters. I especially like the dialogue he creates between Wolverine and Deadpool as they make their way towards the demon general’s quarters to assassinate him. Deadpool’s a character that I feel got old in his own series, but Remender has a knack for writing the character in a way where he doesn’t get annoying.  The scenes between Fantomex and Psylocke are quieter (as to be expected), but there’s a great and  unexpected pay-off to their budding romance that I honestly did not see coming. It’s a great look into how Fantomex plays with his teammates, and it adds another layer to the character to keep readers guessing.

However, there are a few things that need be addressed in this issue. For one, the pacing was a little off.  Perhaps it was just me, but we get no transition between Psylocke and Fantomex being in a room talking and them riding a zombiefied dragon thing. One scene they’re sitting down, the next they’re flying above the battle below them. It’s a little jarring, and I had to go back a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  It’s nothing that really takes away from the whole plot, but it does disrupt the flow of a pretty good issue.

Another misstep is still the art. Nothing against Greg Tocchini, but his style is not suited for this series. His figures are messy and change forms too often for a book like this. After the stellar art from the likes of Jerome Opena,  this is a step down. Hopefully the artist that comes on after this arc is more in the style of the series.

Uncanny X-Force #22 continues to flesh out this Otherworld adventure, but I hope the storyline wraps soon so we can get the team back to the Marvel universe proper. Uncanny X-Force is one of Marvel’s best titles out there, and while this issue isn’t as good as the previous storyline, a pretty good issue of UXF is still better than most books out there on the shelf.

Batman: The Dark Knight #6

HOOOOO boy.  

  When the “New 52” started, I had to take stock of the five Batman books that were coming with the relaunch. After trying them all out, some had to go, and Detective Comics and Batman: The Dark Knight were the titles left on the shelf, watching as I took the others home. And after finishing the newest issue of Dark Knight, I’m still confident in my decision.  I’ll be completely honest, I only picked it up because of two things: David Finch drawing Bane, and David Finch’s cover re-enacting Bane’s greatest achievement.

Where to start with this book? It’s clear that even though Paul Jenkins is listed as a writer/plotter, this is still Finch’s ship.  Yes, he’s a talented artist and a big draw for comic fans, but a writer/plotter he ain’t. In fact, Dark Knight #6 is the first comic I have ever seen that has a credit for “dialogue assists”.  Seriously?

The plot breaks down like this: Batman has been on the trail of someone juicing up different villains, amping up their power levels so that they are physical powerhouses capable of killing Batman. After a quick guest appearance from Superman (who flies off to help Flash, who has been poisoned), Batman chases after White Rabbit, a new villain that will most likely be forgotten after this storyline ends. After chasing her and Scarecrow down, guess who shows up? I’ll give you a hint: he’s on the cover and is in the new Batman movie this summer. That’s right, Bane shows up, and while he looks awesome (and very much like his Arkham City incarnation), all he does is beat the crap out of Batman and explain that the new venom drug he’s been suppyling to the villains of Gotham is actually increasing his intellect. The fact that Batman wasn’t able to put this all together until NOW is criminal, and I still have yet to find a decent reason for this series to exist. I’d much rather have Finch DRAW (not plot/write/think about) any of the other Batbooks that are out there. All I have to say about it is this:

It’s dumb as hell, but it sure looks pretty.

Movie Review: Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance

Movie Review:

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (2012)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds
Directed By: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

Let’s get this out of the way: Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance is not going to topple The Dark Knight as the best comic book movie ever made. That being said, it’s leagues better than the Mark Stephen Johnson “directed” turd that came out in 2007. Under the helm of Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Spirit Of Vengeance serves as a reboot of the first film, and has all of the insanity that you would expect from the directors who brought you Crank, Gamer, and Crank: High Voltage. And it also has a heaping amount of Ridiculous Cage.

The film follows the recently relocated Johnny Blaze (the legend himself, Nic Cage), living in a self-imposed exile after his deal with the devil. Blaze is approached by Moreau (Idris Elba), a hard-drinking, gun-toting renegade monk who tells him that he needs to protect a young boy named Danny, who is believed to be the Anti-Christ. As expected, Blaze tells him he can’t because he believes that he cannot control the Rider. But that soon changes once Blaze learns that the devil himself is planning on taking over the young boy so he can further walk the Earth. Teaming with Moreau and the boy’s mother (played by Violante Placido), Blaze heads off to find the boy and a way to undo his curse.

That’s the main gist of the story. Expecting anything deeper than Ghost Rider messing people up and Nicolas Cage overacting as only he can is doing yourself a disservice, and if you go into the film expecting Crank except with Ghost Rider in the place of Jason Statham, you’ll have a good time. Cage is in full on “Nic Cage mode” here, going from hilarity to despair to attempts at intimidation sometimes all within the same scene. There’s one in particular where he is trying to hold back the Ghost Rider while trying to get info from a thug. Watching Cage overact holding back a demonic entity is something that needs to be seen to be believed, and “He’s scratching at the dooorrrrrr” will go down as one of the new great Nic Cage quotes. Cage also did all of the motion capture for Ghost Rider, and his movements are really unsettling and jerky, which is expected from something that is an ancient demonic entity. Apparently Cage painted his face on set while filming these particular scenes, so while Spirit Of Vengeance may not be a great movie, you can’t say that Nic doesn’t give it his all.

This is one of Cage’s “quieter” moments in the film

The same can be said for Neveldine and Taylor. After seeing both Crank films, I had a pretty solid idea of what I was in store for action-wise, but I was really impressed with how the film was shot. Sure, there’s the strange angles and cuts that one expects from their films, but the way they portray Ghost Rider taking out his enemies was very cool, and has a very slasher-movie vibe to it. I especially liked the weird mannerisms that the Rider does, as well as the fact that he can turn basically any vehicle he encounters into a hellfire death machine. As awesome as the action scenes are, the film does stumble in the quieter moments, and drags in the middle a little bit. It also gets a little too talky, with characters like Moreau basically serving as exposition ciphers to give us background info on nearly every character and their relationships to one another. However, every scene that features the Ghost Rider is awesome, and offers some of the best scenes from the movie. Unfortunately a lot of them are in the trailer, but there are still some surprises. Speaking of the Ghost Rider, the effects used to bring him to life blow the first one out of the friggin’ water. His skull is blackened and charred, his movements are extremely creepy but powerful, and he generates so much heat that the leather on his jacket bubbles. And as an added bonus, his fights are more than him falling down, getting up, and whipping a guy!

Compare this…..
… to this. Which do YOU think is cooler?

While Spirit Of Vengeance isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination, I still really enjoyed it. I’ve made my distaste for the first film well known, so perhaps the fact that this film is so completely different from it is what I found enjoyable. Or maybe it’s because I’m aware of Neveldine and Taylor’s previous work, so I knew that this film wasn’t going to be anything near the gold standard of comic book movies. Or it’s my strange fascination with Nicolas Cage. To be honest, it’s probably because they reboot the movie origin so that this time Blaze willingly sells his soul instead of being tricked into it. Whatever the case, I had a blast watching this movie, and while I completely understand why the online critics have been crapping all over it, I still really liked it. It’s not good, but it’s so crazy and over the top that it’s hard not to enjoy it. Much like Punisher: War Zone, it’s an extreme guilty pleasure that plays like a live action Looney Tunes cartoon, and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. When it comes out on blu ray or DVD, couple Spirit Of Vengeance with Punisher: War Zone and you’ll have yourself the makings of an epic movie night.

3 1/5 Ridiculous Cage rants out of 5

Comic Reviews: Road Rage, Peter Panzerfaust, and Batman!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Road Rage #1 (of 4)
Writer(s): Stephen King, Joe Hill, Chris Ryall
Artist: Nelson Daniel
IDW’s latest collaboration with Joe Hill is Road Rage. Along with his father, a little known writer named Stephen King(who also wrote the short story with Hill as well),  and adapted with Chris Ryall, the comic tells the tale of The Tribe, a group of bikers on the road after a meth deal goes bad. Illustrated by Nelson Daniel, the tale is expertly presented and is a great introduction to comics that don’t feature capes and superpowers.

Focusing primarily on Race and Vince, Road Rage follows the two as they leave the scene of a murder committed by one of their members. From the beginning we can tell that Vince is the more level-headed of the two, and after the vicious machete killing he witnessed, Vince is thinking that maybe he should the leave the group behind. However, thinking about leaving is a whole lot easier than doing it, especially when the gang just lost sixty thousand dollars to a meth addict who had them convinced that he could make lab. Now, reeling from the fallout of the murder of the addict’s girlfriend, the relationships between the members of the Tribe are tense to say the least.  As Vince discusses what has happened with Race, Race chucks a bottle at the side of a semi-truck, which then drvies off. But not before Vince notices that the driver was in there the whole time. As the semi fades from view, he wonders what will happen to his group down the road, and tries to shake the feeling that he’ll see that semi truck again….

The characters in Road Rage are fully formed. None of them fall into the “biker stereotype”, and the relationships are fully defined, which is great considering this is the first issue of the miniseries. There’s a good balance between character work and action, especially once the Tribe gets onto the road after taking that fateful pit stop with the semi-truck. Speaking of action, artist Nelson Daniel hits it out of the park with this book. I’ve never seen his work before, but I was floored by what I saw in this issue.  I cannot recommend Road Rage enough, especially if you are a fan of Stephen King and Joe Hill,  Sons Of Anarchy, or just good comics in general. Be sure to pick up the Jetpack exclusive cover, if you can still get it.

COMIC QUICK HITS
 

Peter Panzerfaust #1
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Tyler Jenkins

 Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, the acclaimed writer of  Green Wake and The Intrepids, Peter Panzerfaust is a mix of the classic “Peter Pan” story and World War II.  Told from the perspective of a French orphan, Panzerfaust has a very unique twist that I was pretty pleased with, even if I found the ending of the issue to be a little confusing. The “Peter Pan” connections are very subtle here, which I really liked. Peter is a mysterious American who is searching the French city of Calais for a girl named “Belle” (take a guess who that’s supposed to be). While traversing the Nazi-besieged city, Peter comes across a group of French orphans, who call themselves “The Lost Boys”.  This opening issue is more of a foundation builder, and it seems to have a lot of potential. The ending falls a little flat, but perhaps the second issue will clear that up.

Batman #6
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Just fucking buy it already. 

Avengers Assemble!

The Super bowl is known for the millions of dollars spent on advertising, and this year was no different.  Although there was a very small minority of theatrical trailers for this year’s event, we were blessed with the trailer for one of the year’s most sought after movies: The Avengers.  I’m not going to gush too much about it, nor am I going to bother you all with a scene-by-scene recap. Instead, let’s just bask in the fact that Marvel studios has pulled off the promise of a shared cinematic universe, a feat that I think none of us thought would happen.
Way back in 2008,when Iron Man was released (it seems like so long ago), there were rumblings that the newly created Marvel Studios had a plan for ol’ shellhead, and the crew that he hangs around with at Avengers mansion.  The three major players would get their own films, which would allow viewers to get to know them.  This idea should never have worked. There was simply too much that could’ve gone wrong. But somehow, someway the stars aligned and we are now getting Avengers. Think of how differently this all would’ve gone had Thor or Captain America bombed at the box office? Hell, if BOTH of them had bombed? We may not have even gotten the chance to see this film!
Yeah guys, we’re stunned too
On the topic of these movies bombing, I want to take a quick detour to talk about The Incredible Hulk. Released the same year as Iron Man, the movie was the second part of the “shared universe” leading up to this film, with the scene with Tony Stark appearing at the end filmed fairly quickly to accommodate this plan. Unfortunately no one saw Incredible Hulk, which is a real shame because it’s leaps and bounds better than Ang Lee’s snoozefest. Edward Norton does a fantastic job as Bruce Banner, and seeing Hulk fight an enemy that can actually match him physically was a great thing to see. Maybe it was too soon for this reboot/sequel, or maybe people just don’t like seeing the Hulk in his own films, but I’m still surprised at how many people haven’t seen it, because I’m fairly certain that they would like it if they gave it a shot.
If you look up “underrated” in the dictionary, you’ll see this
Another reason why we should be thankful for The Avengers film is because everyone (with one glaring exception) is a part of this film. Sure Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, RDJ, and Sam L all have this film written into their contracts, but what about the eventual sequel? Has that been squared away yet? There’s no telling what could happen with any of these guy’s careers after Avengers, and some may get tired of playing the roles. Obviously this won’t be for ways down the road, but imagine the scrutiny that will come from fan boys if Marvel has to recast Thor, or god forbid, Tony Stark? I for one do not envy the people who will have to cast the part, or even play the part.
I’ve been happy to see so much positive buzz for The Avengers on the internet, which is astounding since the world wide web has become the breeding ground for trolls in the past year. It’s great to have something that we can all look forward to, and in the unlikely event that it sucks; we should all at least appreciate that Marvel started out the project the correct way. However, it’s going to rule, so we don’t have to worry about Joss Whedon and co. letting us down.

Comic Reviews: Conan The Barbarian and Kirkman’s Thief of Thieves!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Conan The Barbarian #1 

Dark Horse is once again releasing a new series based on Robert E. Howard’s most famous creation, Conan The Barbarian. Keeping in line with their mandate of presenting Conan’s stories in chronological order, the new series, titled Conan The Barbarian (simple enough), now tracks the barbarian’s time as a pirate along the Black Coast of Argo. Adapted from Howard’s original story “The Queen Of The Black Coast”, the story starts off like a typical Conan yarn, albeit with two aces in the hole: writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan.

From the opening panels, I knew that my excitement for this series was going to be met. Wood’s characterization of Conan is fantastic, which is no surprise seeing as how he wrote the phenomenal viking series Northlanders for Vertigo. This is may be a younger Conan, but he has traveled the world enough to be a formidable foe. He’s cocky, brash, but still wise enough to realize when he screws up, which is evident when he first jumps aboard The Argus and tells the crew about the events that led him to climb onto their ship and demand passage. After winning the crewmen over, Conan is allowed to stay onboard with the men, as long as he provides them with protection from the pirates that sail the seas, which includes the legendary Belit, the pirate “Queen of the Black Coast”. Even though Conan knows she’s dangerous, there’s something about her that draws him in.

If Wood’s writing for this issue is the cake, then Becky Cloonan’s amazing panels is the icing on the cake. Her art in this series is gorgeous.  I wasn’t entirely sure how well her style would fit with the world of Conan, but I am more than pleased with what we’ve got. Her style is packed with fluidity, which is exemplified in the action that starts off the issue, and her style more than sets the mood for the story.  The Black Queen is stunning and dark, while Conan is depicted as a small but powerful figure. With this issue, Cloonan proves she’s one of the top artists in the business, and needs to be given any book she wants.

Conan The Barbarian is a great starting point for new readers, and it seems to be a solid continuation of the Dark Horse Conan series that came before it. With this, Wood and Cloonan are starting a 25 issue epic that looks to be an amazing depiction of Robert E. Howard’s world, and by Crom, I am on board.

Thief Of Thieves #1

Robert Kirkman has become such a titan of the industry that he doesn’t need to even script his comic books anymore. In all seriousness, Thief Of Thieves is the newest title under Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image, plotted by Kirkman with a script by Nick Spencer (writer of Morning Glories).  Following the life of Conrad Paulson, a master thief who goes by Redmond, the series takes its time introducing us to the characters and their relationships with our main character. We see a hit go down, some background info on Paulson and his assistant, but in all honesty, I can’t really recommend this guy based on this issue alone. The seeds have been sowed for something great here, but there’s nothing that really jumped out at me in this issue and makes me go “man I gotta read the next one”. If anything, it made me say “this will make an awesome trade”. I really enjoyed Paulson teaching his protege how to successfully steal a car, and the art by Shawn Martinbrough is really well done. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough here for me to keep getting the single issues, although I’ll most likely pick up the trade when it’s released.

Who WIll Watch "Before Watchmen"?

And just like that, DC implodes the Internet. What was long whispered in hushed tones and speculated in comic book stores across the country (not to mention brought up yearly by Bleeding Cool) has become a reality. Whether we want it or not, DC comics is bringing us Before Watchmen, a series of prequel mini-series that will expand on the characters and events established in Watchmen, the much-lauded “greatest comic book of all time”.  This news has cracked the nerd world in half. Alan Moore is pissed (as usual), and now we’re seeing two camps of fans emerging from the bomb that DC has just dropped on us: those who don’t want these books at all, and those that are embracing it and waiting with baited breath. So where do I fall? 


Somewhere in the middle I suppose.

I first read Watchmen as a sophomore in college. Having just seen 300 and being in awe of the visuals, I heard the news of director Zack Snyder circling the story for a film adaptation, something that was never supposed to happen in anyone’s lifetime.  I had always heard the praise surrounding the story, and even knew the twist ending (thanks Wizard), but despite this, I was engrossed in the story. The world that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created was endlessly fascinating. It was dark, gloomy, and intelligent. I also wondered how the hell it would turn into a movie, and for my money, Snyder’s adaptation is the best thing we could have ever gotten. The title sequence is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on film, and the performances by Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan are perfect.  Plus, it got even more people to go out and read the source material.

But I’m not here to talk about the movie. I’m here to talk about Before Watchmen, DC’s worst kept secret for the past few years.  To be completely honest, I’m surprised they didn’t try to get this stuff out when the movie was released a few years ago.  But it’s happening, and you know what? This is our best-case scenario.  For starters, it’s a prequel, so we don’t have to see any continuation from the ending of the original story, nor do we need to worry about a retread or reboot of events that have already occurred once before. The idea of the prequels is a legitimately good idea, especially with something like Watchmen. Tell me those of you that read it weren’t curious as to how some of those characters became the people they were? Yes we get background info on the characters and the world of the original story, and if you are content with that, then you don’t have to read these prequels. They’re here for people who want to know even more about the world that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created. No one is forcing you to read them; though I’m sure DC would like you to so they can get cash money.

Keeping in line with whether you want to read them or not, DC has done a really good job packaging this new expansion of the Watchmen world.  Were you a fan of the Rorschach parts, but tuned out during Ozymandias’ bits? Then just pick up Rorschach. Want to see more of the Minutemen? Darwyn Cooke’s got you covered.  There’s no need to read every single one of the seven mini-series being produced. In many ways, you can pick and choose what you want (or don’t want) to read.  There seems to be no mandate to pick up all of them to get the overall picture of these prologues. In fact, there may not BE an overarching story behind all of these, and that’s okay. That’s probably better in case they end up being crap. You can just throw them away in a long box and forget they ever existed.  I’d rather have individual miniseries for certain characters then one long mega-event that would force me to read characters I don’t care about.

However, I highly doubt that any of these series will be complete crap. Continuing on my “best case scenario” theory, with Before Watchmen, DC is putting their top creators on the individual projects. Hell, the fact that Brian EFFING Azzerello and Lee Bermejo (the team behind Joker, one of my favorite depictions of the clown prince of crime) are undertaking the Rorschach mini series makes that one a must-buy for me.  Every creator involved, from J. Michael Straczynski to Cooke has a deep respect and admiration for the original work, and I’d be hard pressed to think any of them would phone it in. Hell, even Len Wein (the editor of the original story) is involved and writing two of the stories! Add to this some of the top artists in the business, including J. G. Jones, Amanda Connor, Jae Lee, Adam Hughes, and the already mentioned Bermejo and Cooke and I’m starting to think that this may be one of the biggest events of the decade for comics, arguably more than DC’s “New 52”.  These are high demand artists, and the announcement of this project pretty much reveals where they have been for the past year.

Of course, I have to mention the great Alan Moore. Yes, he is arguably the greatest comic book writer of all time. He has done more things for the medium than any other, with the exception of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. But, he’s CRAZY. His response to this news wasn’t all that surprising (we all knew he would be against ANYTHING done to Watchmen), but his claims that he wished people wouldn’t use his characters is pretty ridiculous. He must’ve forgotten the fact that he used Captain Nemo, Mr. Hyde, Mina Harker, and numerous other classic literary figures in his League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. Or that he has written books starring Batman, Superman, and Swamp Thing, all characters that I’m pretty 100% sure that he didn’t create. The characters in Watchmen are all based on characters from Charlton Comics that DC acquired, so technically Mr. Moore, you didn’t create them entirely from scratch. Yes, you created the story, the world, and changed around some of their powers, but to say you created them is incorrect, and calling foul now makes you a hypocrite. You signed the rights to DC. You gave Dave Gibbons your blessing when the movie came out. You have called all modern comics “rubbish”, but have failed to read a SINGLE ONE. With his statements today, Alan Moore has proven that he was the best thing, and the worst thing to happen to comic books.  
 

My reactions to Before Watchmen went from shock, to dismay, to cautious optimism all within the span of the five minutes for me to read the article on Bleeding Cool.  And you know what, I still fit into the “cautiously optimistic” category.  Again, this is our best case scenario: we have a prequel that we can either count or not count as fitting in with the original story, and we have some of the best creators in the business working on them. They are all fans, and I believe that they will do their absolute best to make a worthy companion piece to the original story. They kind of have to, because if not, crazy wizard Alan Moore will curse them for all eternity.

NEW AMAZING SPIDER-MAN TRAILER!

Not going to talk too much about it, other than this is exactly what I was hoping for. Spidey cracking jokes!

Comic Reviews: The Winter Solider and Venom!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Winter Soldier #1 

Winter Soldier is Ed Brubaker’s return to a character that he breathed new life into, literally and figuratively: James “Bucky” Buchanan Barnes. The former(ly dead) sidekick of Captain America returned in the pages of Brubaker’s first run on Captain America, and the impossible was proved possible: Bucky could be brought back, and he could be a bad ass. After a meteoric rise that saw him take over for his mentor as Captain America, Bucky sacrificed himself during Fear Itself. Or did he?

Nope, he didn’t. Bucky faked his death, and is now working in secret, cleaning up the messes he made as the Winter Soldier, a brainwashed Russian operative from the Cold War. Along with Black Widow, the opening issue of the Bucky’s new series finds him investigating a possible Department X facility that houses a stasis tube. A stasis tube that is very much like the ones the Russians used to use on Bucky…

Winter Soldier is exactly like Brubaker’s post- “Death Of Captain America” run on Captain America. If you were a fan of the series during that period, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. There’s a ton of awesome espionage action in this issue, and the information we get regarding the who’s and why’s of Bucky and Widow’s mission is presented in an informative way that also allows the story to breathe.  Brubaker can write Bucky Barnes in his sleep at this point, and Butch Guice’s artwork is perfect for the shadowy nature of this title. Couple this with Bettie Breitweiser’s stunning colors, and you’ve got an absolute blast of a first issue.

Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America was the perfect balance between espionage and superhero action. Now that we’ve got a new volume of Captain America (also written by Brubaker), I think it’s safe to say that this will be the home for fans of black ops missions and shadowy governments. Winter Soldier was everything I was hoping for and more, and a must buy for fans of the character.

Venom #13

 I’ve already gone to great lengths explaining my strange love of the “New” Fantastic Four, consisting of the 90’s dream team of Hulk, Spider-man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Now, nearly twenty years later, we get the “Circle Of Four” mini-event in the pages of Marvel’s Venom, and the introduction of the NEW New Fantastic Four.

Serving as both a jumping on point and continuation of Rick Remender’s Venom series, this issue finds Flash Thompson still in Vegas, grappling with his demons. He’s already drunk, yelling at his girlfriend, and on the run from the government that employed him (and gave him the Venom symbiote), so what could go wrong? How about the Red Hulk jumping through his wall, on assignment to bring him in for going A.W.O.L. Seeing Flash use the symbiote to distract him was awesome, as well as hearing how the symbiote can sober him when he’s drunk too. However, their fight is cut short when the Las Vegas starts turning into a hell on Earth, thanks to the machinations of Blackheart, the son of Mephisto.  The two “heroes” meet X-23 and the girl Ghost Rider (ugh) on the way, and we’re left with a cliffhanger for Marvel’s mini event for the month, which unfortunately involves more dumb .1 issues.

Remender did a phenomenal job of setting the stakes with this issue, giving us legitimate reasons for the characters all being in the same place as Venom is. Hulk’s obviously hunting him down, X-23 is trying to find the persons responsible for stealing a vial of her blood, and the girl Ghost Rider is with Johnny Blaze on the outside of town learning new tricks of the hellfire trade. No one just shows up, and I commend Remender for not falling into the old “let’s fight then team-up” trope that many crossovers do. Plus, he writes a GREAT Johnny Blaze. This is the guy Marvel should’ve given the latest Ghost Rider series to.

 Tony Moore also returns to art duties with this issue, and man, did I miss him. His Red Hulk was towering and intimidating, and seeing his version of hell was very cool. His art style isn’t for everyone, but fans of his (like me) will no doubt be thrilled with his work in this issue. Unfortunately he won’t be handling the art in the upcoming .1, .2., or .3 issues (don’t get me started on those), but he’ll be back for the conclusion of the storyline.

I had pretty low expectations for this story, mainly because of my disdain for girl Ghost Rider and apathy towards X-23. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this issue, even the parts with GGR. This looks to be the start of a really fun story that won’t require too much background knowledge on the other players, and probably won’t have too big of a lasting effect on them either. If you’re looking for something fun this week, you should give Venom #13 a shot.