Monthly Archives: March 2012
Avengers vs. X-Men #0
If you’re going into this special issue 0 of Avengers vs. X-Men expecting first punches between characters to be thrown, you’re going to be disappointed. However, this issue still delivers some pretty good character moments, and sets the stage for what looks to be a fairly solid event.
Split between two writers, the issue catches readers up to date with two characters who will presumably play large roles in the upcoming event: Scarlet Witch and Hope. The Scarlet Witch story, penned by Brian Michael Bendis, is the weaker of the two, as it deals with the fallout from her return in The Children’s Crusade, an event that I started reading but dropped due to its insane lateness. After stopping a team of AIM M.O.D.O.K.s, Scarlet Witch is dragged back to the Avengers Mansion by Spider-woman and Ms. Marvel. Believing that everyone will be happy to see her, the two women are sorely mistaken when The Vision lashes out at Scarlet Witch, banishing her from the mansion forever.
The second story, written by Jason Aaron, focuses on Hope on the island Utopia, the safe haven for all mutants in the Marvel universe. Hope has been secretly leaving Utopia every night and enacting some sweet vigilante justice of her own. Cyclops has been on to her, and tonight is the night he confronts her about her actions. After arguing, Hope heads off, leaving Cyclops behind to follow her. After a pretty sweet fight with the Serpent Society (which really shows off Hope’s powers in a cool way), Cyclops and Emma Frost find Hope and bring her back to Utopia.
While both of these stories aren’t entirely compelling (or even necessary), they both helped paint a picture for me of where some of the main players of the upcoming battle between the Avengers and The X-Men before next week’s issue #1. However, despite the stories being a little lackluster, the art by Frank Cho is phenomenal. His characters, with the exception of Cyclops, all look extremely powerful, and the action scenes, while few, are drawn excellently. While people following the worlds of the Avengers and The X-Men may find this issue unnecessary, Avengers vs. X-Men #0 is a solid preview of what’s to come for those walking in off the street to find out what all the fuss is about.
It’s out with the old, in the with new for DC’s new 52 Superman series. As opposed to Grant Morrison’s head trip that is Action Comics, the regular “Superman” series takes place in the current DC continuity, and this issue, the start of new creative team Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen, introduces the Man of Steel to a villain he’s never met before: Wild C.A.T.S.‘s own Helspont!
The issue starts with Superman being attacked by a mysterious, robotic creature, which then leads him to being brought to Helspont’s lair, who intends to turn Superman into one of his minions. Jurgens and Giffen get points for introducing the villain in a pretty cool way, and even though I barely remember WildC.A.T.S., Helspont is a sweet villain who’s motivation is pretty straightforward. I really liked how he broke down the differences between Earth’s heroes and other planets in the galaxy. In fact, it makes me hope that we might see some sort of event where Helspont goes after other DC characters (maybe in a Justice League story-arc?).
Superman #7 is a nice diversion from the Superman in Action Comics that I’m used to, and even if there were some parts that I didn’t particularly care for (Clark basically acting like an idiot at the Daily Bugle), I’ll be back for issue 8. Jurgens and Giffen did a good job of presenting a straight-forward Superman story, and it’s leaps and bounds better than the first issue of this relaunch (no pun intended).
Marvel has had a lot of announcements this weekend from WonderCon. A vast majority of them have been for digital-only material, yet there was one notable print announcement: This July, Frank Castle goes to SPACE.
So Jetpack faithful, who’s going to win? Frank Castle, The Punisher, or Boba Fett, the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy? (NOTE: The Punisher for this round is the same from Garth Ennis’ Punisher: MAX, as he is the most ruthless version of the character I have ever read) Sound off in the Jetpack Comics forums or comment below right NOW!
Supercrooks #1 (of 4)
Comic’s greatest hype man Mark Millar returns this week with his latest creator-owned title, Supercrooks. Along with his Superior artist Lieinil Yu, Supercrooks showcases down and out villains that can’t catch a break, mainly because they keep trying to pull heists in a city that is filled to the brim with superheroes. A cool mix of old school crime thrillers and super powers, Supercrooks has a great underlying theme, even if the story is a little cliched at times.
This opening issue starts with a bank heist orchestrated by Johnny, a villain with “electrical powers” who’s looking for cash for his upcoming wedding. After being trounced by The Gladiator (who delivers some pretty funny lines to the cops afterwards), he’s thrown back in jail for five years, missing his wedding, honeymoon, and his life outside of crime. After being released, Johnny goes to see his ex-fiance, Kasey. Also a super-villain (but with psychic powers), she currently works as a diner waitress, and is none too happy to see Johnny walk aback into her life. Right as she’s about to kick him out though, their old mentor Carmine, a.k.a. The Heat, shows up beaten and bruised.
After using a low level psychic to try and rip off a Vegas casino, Carmine owes the casino owners a lot of money. The kind of money that would force Johnny to rethink his new vow to stay on the straight and narrow. Of course, Johnny knows that if he tries to steal from a bank within the city he’ll be caught immediately. So, desperate for cash to help his mentor (and to make some extra money for himself), how is he going to get what he needs? Go to Spain of course! With no heroes around to stop them, how could his plan go wrong?
Mark Millar’s script is pretty solid, and I was actually pretty surprised by how good the story was in this book. I was under the assumption that I already knew the plot behind this story, but after reading the issue, I was really impressed by it. The characters shown here are really well-defined, and there are a lot of funny asides that Millar throws into the dialogue, like the crack one prison guard makes after hearing why Johnny decided to rob a bank on his wedding day. Leinil Yu’s art is impressive as always, balancing both the borderline over the top superhero antics at the beginning and the quieter moments at the end where Johnny ponders how he’s going to get the cash he needs. All in all, Supercrooks looks to be another mega seller for Millar, and of course, will probably be optioned for a movie (if it hasn’t already).
Kick-Ass 2 #7 (of 7)
Yes, Kick-Ass 2 finally been released. It’s been a long road, but Millar and John Romita Jr.’s sequel is finally over, and it’s been a pretty extreme ride from issue one, with this issue being a non-stop battle royale between Kick-Ass and Red Mist’s teams of heroes and villains.
Let me get this out of the way now: this issue is BRUTAL. Nearly every fight you wanted to see from issue one is here, and they play out in pretty fun and unexpected ways. Kick-Ass and Red Mist’s fight, for example, starts off as you would expect, until it does a completely hilarious turn that I honestly wasn’t expecting, but really enjoyed. It’s last moments are also fairly poignant, and make you flash back to when these two characters first met.
However good these fights were, I felt like there wasn’t quite enough resolution at the end of the issue. A lot happens in the last few pages, and then it ends. Of course we have the Hit Girl spin-off coming next month, which will hopefully fill in some of the questions I have from the book’s ending. Kick-Ass 2 was a little uneven at times, but it was still a worthy companion piece to the original story. I just wonder how the hell they will make this one into a movie.
I’m guilty of this. I bought Avengers Assemble this past Wednesday, like I’m sure a lot of you did. However, as someone who recently dropped and picked Bendis’ Avengers back up again (mainly because Walt Simonson will be doing the art) I have to say, I found it pretty lacking. To me, if you’re going to add another Avengers title to your already full stable of Avengers-related stuff, you need to knock my socks off with the first issue. In my opinion, it actually went against what most Bendis issues do, in the way that many of his issues are very, very slow moving. Instead, I found the issue to be pretty fast moving. However, as quickly paced as the issue was, it felt really disjointed, and a little hard to follow. Not to mention that the dialogue felt really strange to me. Would Hawkeye really ask Black Widow to tell people how good in the sack he is at his funeral?
|“Pay no attention to the fact that half of our comic roster is with other studios…”|
Brian K. Vaughan finally returns to comics with Saga, the latest ongoing from Image Comics. Alongside artist Fiona Staples, Saga is a space epic, and the starts of something phenomenal that will sit comfortably alongside Vaughn’s previous works, Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man.
A mix of Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, and a little bit of Romeo and Juliet, Saga starts with the birth of a girl whose parents are from warring races. Marko, the father, is a member of the horn-sprouting race that belongs on the moon of the planet that wing-wearing Alana lives on. The two have come together against impossible odds, and in the midst of a seemingly never-ending war between their two species that spans an entire galaxy they give birth to a child that is now on everyone’s radar. From the first page, the characters of Alana and Marko are clearly defined, and their dialogue is extremely fun to read.
Vaughan proves that he’s one of the best writers out today with this opening issue. The narrative, told from the point of view of the just born Hazel, is informative but not dragged out, and the simple fact that these two worlds, knowing that blowing up the other would cause themselves to be blown out of orbit, hire out other species and armies to fight for them is a really cool concept, and is used to great advantage by Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples. Speaking of Staples, the character designs here are fantastic. The sheer amount of alien species shown in just this first issue rivals the cantina scene in Star Wars for amount of wow factor, with the strange (the robot race with TV monitors for heads) to the awesome (Crocodile butler!).
There’s a TON of hype surrounding Saga, and I’m very happy to say that it lives up to it. The sheer scope of this issue is insane, and at $2.99 for 40 pages, it’s impossible for it to not to pick up. Saga is sure to go down as another home run for Vaughan. Pick it up now and get on the train before you have to trade wait! Highly, HIGHLY recommended.
Avengers Assemble #1
The Avengers have a movie coming out in a few months, not sure if you’ve heard. To tie in with the sure to be blockbuster, Marvel has released Avengers Assemble, yet ANOTHER Avengers title that can sit alongside Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers Academy, and so on.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, who teams up with his Ultimate Spider-man and Brilliant artist Mark Bagley, the issue is a slow burn set-up that re-introduces The Zodiac into the Marvel universe. Their new power set is very cool, and I really like the designs of the villains. Unfortunately the story is a little lacking. The Avengers give a press conference, Hulk is attacked by the Aquarius member of Zodiac, and Black Widow and Hawkeye stake out a criminal hideout and are attacked by Taurus, who then gets beat on by Thor and Iron Man. That’s pretty much it. The book is quickly paced, but at the same time, it feels a little disjointed. It may be that this team doesn’t really match up with any of the current Avengers rosters, or that it does really feel like a cash grab to get the people who are pumped for the movie. With so many Avengers titles out, unfortunately this one didn’t do enough to convince me to stick around.
SPOILERS (for both the show and comic) AHOY MATEYS
There is no more polarizing show on television right now than The Walking Dead. For proof, simply log onto Twitter at 10:02 p.m. any Sunday night after the latest episode airs. You’ll see everything from “great episode” to “something finally happened” to “when the $%@$ are they going to get off the farm”. While the farm argument is valid, it’s strange to me how we feel towards the show. In fact, nerds’ feelings toward the television adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s ongoing zombie epic is a prime example of a trap that nerds constantly find themselves struggling with: What do we do when something we love is adapted for a new medium, and more importantly, a wider audience? Why is it that some changes we love (The Joker wearing face paint in The Dark Knight) and some we hate (Cloud Galactus in Rise Of the Silver Surfer….okay that one I get)? For better or worse, The Walking Dead is forcing fans of the source material to consider just what it is that they like about this series, and how willing to accept changes to it to have it fit in the television medium.
The sudden passing of Dale came as a shock not only to average viewers of the show, but more so to fans who have read the comic series. We all know that Dale does eventually die in the comic, but it’s not until much, much later in the series, and long after Dale has become a beloved member of Rick’s crew. His relationship with Andrea in the series is one of the best things about it, and seeing her deal with his death was extremely heartbreaking. Perhaps that’s what is such a gut punch for fans of the comic. The show never allowed Dale to grow as a character, and we were always left wondering if the TV versions of Dale and Andrea would follow their comic book originals and hook up.
The Walking Dead now exists in a strange parallel universe of the original series. in a lot of ways, it’s kind of like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Whereas that film showed us how different that universe would be if Kirk’s father died when he was an infant, creating a new timeline, one could argue that The Walking Dead television show shows us how differently events unfold with Shane not dying (just yet), or had the survivors not known about the CDC in Atlanta, or had a character as badass as Daryl Dixon around.
|Star Trek did it first|
The Walking Dead can now be split into two different timelines: one which the comic book follows, and another, different take that the television show follows, in which Shane’s still alive, Sophia and Dale are not, and anyone is up for grabs. In fact, I would say that Dale’s death drives Kirkman’s point even more home about no one being safe, especially those that comic fans know will survive longer than others. There’s a real danger to the character’s fates now, which I find to be interesting. Just because we know Carl is alive in the comics doesn’t necessarily mean we should believe that he is safe. In fact, after his actions in the previous episode, some believe he should be the next to go. I can’t imagine the pressure of having something I created be turned into a hit television show, and trying to create new ways to keep people who already know the story interested.
Dale never really got a fair shake on the show. Sure he was the voice of reason, but a lot of the time that just meant he looked at someone with his eyebrows cocked, almost like an elderly Rock. For my money, Jeffrey DeMunn’s portrayal of Dale was note perfect with the one on the show, and I will definitely miss seeing a character walk off the page and into real life like that. However, there were rumblings that a member of the cast was very displeased with Frank Darabont’s firing last year, and had asked to be killed off on the show. Since Jeffrey DeMunn has appeared in many of Darabont’s films in the past, I think it’s safe to assume that that was the real reason why Dale met his end.
Whatever your thoughts on The Walking Dead this season, just remember that we still have the comic as well. Much like the news of the Watchmen prequels, if you don’t like it, just ignore it. Just like those prequels will not impact the quality of the original work, will the Walking Dead show really taint your view on the comic series? I’m not saying to embrace changes wholeheartedly, but keep in mind that just because something plays out differently than you wanted on the show, that doesn’t mean that it effects the story from the comic book.
John Carter (2012)
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Dominic West, Mark Strong
Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Disney’s John Carter (which should have an “of Mars” after it) is a good film. It’s not as great as it should be, but not nearly as bad as some of the online critics would have you believe. Of course, the behind the scenes aspects of the film of overshadowed the actual plot (it cost Disney $250 million to make), but it’s still a solid effort from Andrew Stanton, his first live-action gig after helming such Pixar classics like Finding Nemo and Wall-E.
An adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp novel A Princess Of Mars, the film tells he story of John Carter (Kitsch, a confederate soldier who is transported to Mars after hiding out in a cave full of gold from some Apaches. While on the red planet, he learns that he can leap incredible distances and lift things he normally couldn’t on Earth, all due to his bone density and the lesser gravitational pull on Mars. He also meets the Tharks, a giant race of four-armed, green aliens with tusks who have a much more savage way of dealing with their peoples and loved ones. Tars Tarkas (voiced and motion captured by Willem Dafoe), their leader (or “Jeddak”) takes Carter in, believing he will help them fight against the “red people”.
|Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris and Kitsch as John Carter|
These “red people” include Dejah Thoris, the princess of the city of Helium. Played by Lynn Collins, Thoris is one of the best things about the movie, and absolutely steals the show from Kitsch and Dominic West, who plays Sab Than, the leader of a rival group of red men of Mars. While the film unfortunately doesn’t focus nearly enough on the relationship between Carter and Thoris, Collins definitely gives it her all, especially in the action scenes, which are the standouts of the film. The arena scene that’s been all over the place is a highlight, but I personally enjoyed Carter’s battle with an entire army of savage Tharks more. Intercut with John Carter’s memories of his slain wife and daughter, the scene was a great mix of emotional drama and action, and seeing Carter hack his way through these strange creatures was really cool.
While the action may be great, unfortunately the movie kind of grinds to a halt whenever we need to get any exposition out. Do we really need to know exactly HOW John Carter got to Mars? I personally don’t think so, especially if that scene could’ve been put to better use showing more of Carter and Thoris’ growing relationship. There’s really only a handful of scenes that make you believe that they are falling in love with one another, and perhaps if there were a few more of them you would buy their marriage at the end of the film a little more.
Another hiccup is the dialogue in the film. There’s simply too much of the “barsoom” (the name of Mars to the people who live there) language in the film, almost to the point where you’re amazed that the actors could say the lines without laughing. Granted, with Tars Tarkas says it you believe, because he’s a giant 9-foot-tall green alien, but whenever Dejah Thoris tries to explain how the “nine rays can be used to save the city of Helium” your eyes do kind of start to glaze over.
|“A” for effort guys|
Even with its flaws though, I still enjoyed John Carter. A fun action flick that unfortunately probably won’t get a sequel, even though it has the potential for a great one, especially now that the introductions are out of the way. Disney’s marketing for this film was pretty much non-existent, which is a shame considering how much time and effort it seemed Andrew Stanton put into trying to make the film work. In many ways, this may be our generation’s Tron, and we might get a sequel 25 years later. After thinking it over, the positives I have with the film outweigh the negatives, so while not a perfect film, John Carter is still a good ride, even if the exposition and plotting makes you shake your head sometimes.
3 “Saks” out of 5
Swamp Thing #7
Scott Snyder’s other amazing DC book keeps on firing with issue seven, which also features the triumphant return of not only artist Yanick Paquette, but also Swamp Thing himself as well. Picking up immediately after the previous issue, we find Alec Holland killed by the Rot’s disfigured minions, except now he is encased in cocoon thanks to the Parliament of the Trees. With enemies all around them, Holland is faced with a choice that will change his life forever: will he embrace the green or abandon it forever?
Snyder’s script is so wonderful in this book that it’s a revelation. Creating something completely new but also keeping the ideas that Alan Moore created before him, Snyder has crafted one of the finest books on the stands. His characterization of Holland is spot on, and even better is his handle on the Parliament of Trees, the all powerful council that looks for avatars to protect “the green”. Snyder does a fantastic job upping the stakes in this issue, especially when it comes to Holland’s relationship with Abigail Arcane, who we have just recently learned is destined to be a part of “the Rot” clan of creatures.
Even more so than Snyder, this issue belongs to Yanick Paquette. He absolutely tears it up in this issue. Everything from the layouts to the depictions of the Rot are absolutely amazing, and horrifying when it comes to his depictions of the Rot. It really is the stuff of nightmares. The final few pages, in which Holland emerges and lays waste to his enemies, is one of the coolest things I’ve seen this year, and definitely should get “Dig” on the “Dig and Dumps of the week” on the Jetpack forums.
Swamp Thing #7 is yet another gold star that should be added to Snyder’s chart at DC comics. The man is a machine, and is quickly proving himself to be one of the top talents working in comics today. Highly recommended.
Winter Soldier #3
Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier hits issue 3, and after reading it, I am officially on board. This issue finds Bucky and Black Widow preparing to break into a Latverian embassy so they can locate Dr. Doom. Why do they need Dr. Doom? Well, because someone has stolen a Doombot and is planning on using it to frame him, that’s why. At this point Brubaker could write Bucky in his sleep, and the same can be said for Butch Guice’s art abilities. But while that may seem like this issue is more of the same old same old, it’s really not, as this issue is full of action and progresses the plot forward. If Brubaker and Guice can keep the action and plot up to this kind of level, they’ll have one of the best Marvel books out there.
|It baffles me that Dover, NH doesn’t have a “birthplace of the TMNT” sign|