Monthly Archives: August 2012
Green Lantern Annual #1
Geoff Johns latest phase of Green Lantern comes to a close with this annual issue. Wrapping up the “Revenge Of The Black Hand” story arc, the issue finds Hal Jordan and Sinestro attempting to stop Black Hand, who is attempting to resurrect another undead army. Oh, both Jordan and Sinestro’s rings are powerless as well.
At the same time, the Guardians (the blue smurfs behind the Green Lanterns) are finally putting into action their grand scheme to eradicate the Green Lantern Corps (dubbed by them as “the Second Army”) and begin anew with a corps that will completely be free from “free will”. Apparently after having so many members like Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Guy Gardner the Guardians have finally realized that maybe giving these people the most powerful weapon in the galaxy isn’t the best idea. Through them, we see another addition to the Green Lantern mythos, this time in the form of a vault which contains “the First Lantern”, a being who for some mysterious reason the Guardians decided to imprison. The Guardians plan to use this being to create their new corps, whose first soldier they send to eradicate Hal Jordan and Sinestro.
Geoff Johns is once again delivering the goods, although I’m starting to feel like I may need to get off the GL train. Nothing against the book or the character, but I’m starting to feel like I’m reading it to read it and not really enjoying it. However, that’s neither here no there, as I still feel that this annual does a great job of wrapping up the current storyline and also setting up the “Rise Of The Third Army” plot line that’s starting up next month with the title’s issue “0”. Ethan Van Sciver returns to draw this issue, and as always, he never fails to impress. While I may be taking this opportunity to depart the SS Hal Jordan, I know that when I eventually pick up the collected “Rise Of The Third Army” storyline that it’ll be a good one.
Locke and Key: Grindhouse
Grindhouse is the newest standalone one-shot from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez that takes place within the universe of their fantastic series Locke and Key. If you still haven’t read any L&K, stop what you are doing and run out and get the first collection. You won’t be dissappointed.
Thankfully, even if you haven’t read the Eisner winning series, you can still pick up this oneshot and get a fantastic one and done story. Taking place in the early 1900s’, this tale finds a gang of thieves trying to use the Locke’s Keyhouse to hide out until they can escape by boat from their most recent crime spree. Initially we think that something horrible is likely going to happen to this generation of the Locke family, but luckily for us, the tables are quickly turned on the would-be attackers. It’s very satisfying to see this Locke family use the keys around them as weapons against their attackers. Their mastery of them and what they do is awesome, and we even get to see a new one in use as well. A fantastic issue that should not be missed.
Creative runs end. It’s a matter of fact in the comic book world. Just like it can’t be fall all year round, we can’t have our favorite creators on our favorite books until the end of time. Rob Liefield’s recent departure from the DC offices, coupled with the rumors that Rick Remender may be leaving Uncanny X-Force and that Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis will be leaving Aquaman with issue 16(plus the just announced fact that Ed Brubaker is leaving Winter Soldier with issue 15) have had me thinking about this. Remender has already left one title that I love, Venom, which I honestly don’t believe I would’ve liked as much as I did if there was a different writer penning Flash Thompson in the suit. I’m sure Cullen Bunn will do a great job, but to be honest, Remender put such a unique stamp on the character that it’ll be hard for someone to pick up where he left off.
With Marvel NOW!’s new initiative and the upcoming “0” issues for DC, now is as good a time as any for creators to tie up storylines and try out other ideas with new characters. I certainly understand the desire to shake things up creatively, as I’m sure Geoff Johns, while doing an incredible job on Green Lantern, probably wants to do something new. While he’s staying on with Hal Jordan and Sinestro, I am pretty disappointed that he’s leaving Aquaman so soon. I had hopes that he would build to a grand epic like he did with GL, and he’s done some amazing things to legitimize a character that to many seemed like a joke.
Speaking of DC, I’m not Rob Liefield’s biggest fan by a long shot, but I do think he made some valid points regarding DC’s editorial decisions this past week when he started his twitter rant. You can argue how professional his decision was to take his grievances to social media were, but he’s not the first big industry name to decry DC after leaving. George Perez had some not so great things to say about them a few months ago after leaving Superman, and Gail Simone, who’s still currently writing books for the new 52 line, had expressed some difficulties following her departure from The Fury Of Firestorm.
I suppose what I’m getting at is this: we have no idea what goes on in the day-to-day decisions behind our favorite characters and titles. Sure, we have some, in so much as buying or not buying a title can affect the editorial decisions of the major publishers, but for the large part, we’re just along for the ride. We love these characters, but at the same time, we unfortunately don’t own them, which is apparent to the writers and artists that are leaving the big two in droves in favor of creator owned work. While I’m sad to see Remender leave Venom, his name has now become a “must buy” one when I see it on a book, which in the long run, is much better for him as a writer than Marvel as a company.
The Rocketeer: Cargo Of Doom #1 (0f 4)
When The Rocketeer Adventures was first announced by IDW, I was happy to see one of my favorite characters in all of comics return to the paneled world. However, I secretly wished that Cliff Secord would take flight in an ongoing adventure. While Cargo of Doom isn’t an ongoing, this is hopefully the first step for The Rocketeer to take flight once again monthly.
Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Chris Samnee, Cargo is a phenomenal book that reintroduces us to the world of Cliff Secord. We meet characters we already know like Peevy and Betty, but we also get a new character in the form of Peevy’s niece, Sally. Sally’s got a not-so-secret crush on Cliff, but of course, he’s oblivious to it. After rescuing Sally and Mr. Feeny from a plane crash (which was started by Feeny trying to get a little too “fresh” with Sally), Cliff goes to visit Sally as the Rocketeer to find out what the cause of the crash was. It’s here that he finds out that Sally’s in love with him, and also of Feeny’s actions on the plane. Later on, the scenes shift to some shady characters on a giant cargo ship. The crew there are bringing some sort of creature to Los Angeles for “The Master”, a mysterious figure who looks a lot like Morlun from JMS’ Amazing Spider-Man run. As they dock, one member named Guptmann (who’s had some “brain surgery”) starts freaking out, yelling about Cliff Secord. The issue ends with Cliff and Betty leaving the local diner, and as Cliff brings his lady in for a kiss, we see a strange figure in the shadows.
What makes this issue so great is how accessible it is. Whether he know of The Rocketeer through Dave Stevens’ original comics or the movie, Mark Waid’s script is easy to pick up and go. Waid nails the light-hearted nature of the character, and creates something that would be serve as a worthy sequel to original story. Chris Samnee is the perfect choice to illustrate Cliff Secord and his cast of characters, creating a timeless look that fits right in with the artwork of the 30’s and 40’s. Cargo Of Doom is exactly what I was hoping for when I heard IDW was going to have Waid and Samnee on the book, and I can’t wait for the next issue.
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 (of 4)
Here it is, the final “Before Watchmen” title. And man is it a headtrip. Bouncing through events that happened in the original story, Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan shows us events we’ve already seen, as well as how differently things could’ve played out. Dr. Manhattan’s narrative talks of quantum theories and alternate histories, all the while showing us events in the original story that may have happened due to him changing them. Was he supposed to originally work with Rorschach but changed to ink to show Silk Spectre? Or is J Michael Straczynski just messing with us? Regardless, the issue is very cool, even if you might need to reread some parts of it. Adam Hughes, doing interior pencils for the first time in years, is fantastic, and captures the tone of Dave Gibbons’ original pencils near-perfectly.
A few weeks ago while manning the comic shop , I came across something I never though I would see, a relic from long ago. It was hidden off to the side of the “new Comics!” shelf; on the top rack just beyond the new lead figures of the week. What was this mystical artifact that kidnapped my attention?
An Earthworm Jim action figure.
For those of you who don’t know, Earthworm Jim was the start of two phenomenal video games for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis systems. Essentially a way for Playmates Toys to start their own franchise, the game saw Jim, a lowly Earthworm, gain the use of an intergalactic battle suit. Using said suit, he sets off to save Princess-What’s-Her-Name from the evil Psy-Crow, while traversing strange planets throughout the galaxy. From there, Jim starred in an even better sequel (which is my favorite game of all time), a cartoon series, toys, and even a (short-lived) Marvel comic.
But then Jim hit hard times. Earthworm Jim 3-D tanked, and a failed return to form caused the once-awesome character to lay dormant. His once high-selling figures now relegated to the bargain bin. Long have I hoped for the return of the Earthworm, and with the rerelease of his first adventure on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network last year, I started to get excited. Too excited. Surely this must mean he’s coming back, right?
While that question remains unanswered, I now have yet another piece of evidence that Earthworm Jim is returning. Why would a new action figure be released if there was nothing coming up in the future? There have been whispers on the interwebs about Earthworm Jim 4; however, everyone who previously worked on the series now works at different companies. But while I may not get a new Earthworm Jim game anytime soon, how about a comic? IDW would be perfect to usher in the Earthworm to a new generation, and their push could inspire the creators to really get behind a new installment.
This is all a pipe dream of course. The figure was probably commissioned as a one off, a random property they had left over. Or it was created to torment fans like me. Regardless, seeing that figure brought me back to a simpler time, just like whenever I replay those games.
The Expendables 2 (2012)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Liam Hemsworth
Directed By: Simon West
The sequel to 2010’s The Expendables is bigger, louder, and bloodier than its predecessor. Arguably the best action movie of the year, Stallone’s continuing tale of a mercenary team struggling with the concept of life and death is sure to be an contender for best picture.
The Expendables 2 wears it’s old-school 80’s action tropes like a badge of honor. In many ways, this is the film that the first movie should have been. With a few exceptions (*COUGH* Stephen Segal*COUGH*), nearly every major action star of the 80’s and 90’s makes an appearance, and they all are in on the tone of the movie. The first ten minutes alone are better than the finale of the first film.
Following the events of the first film, Barney Ross’ (Stallone) crew are called into action by the mysterious Mr. Church (Willis), who says they “owe him a favor”. Traveling to a mysterious European country, they encounter Vilain (Van Damme, having a blast playing the bad buy), a mad man with nearly 50 tons of Plutonium. After killing their youngest member (Liam Hemsworth), the Expendables go after Vilain on a quest for vengeance (and to stop Vilain from selling the plutonium). Along the way they get a little help from Trench (Schwarzenegger), Church, and even Chuck f%$*&ng Norris.
As I’ve already mentioned, Expendables 2 isn’t going to win any awards come Oscar season, but it’s a blast to see, especially if you’re a fan of old school action movies. Seeing Stallone, Arnold, Willis, and Norris on the same screen blasting away nameless goons is a lot of fun, and Stallone and Van Damme’s throw down is one of the highlights of the film, even if it is a little too short for my liking. Van Damme is a great bad guy, even if his accent sometimes adds some unintentional hilarity to his lines. Director Simon West (of Con Air fame) ably handles the multitude of characters on the screen, and makes from some truly impressive action set pieces. Summer may be over, but The Expendables 2 sure made it go out with a bang.
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1 (of 4)
Arguably the most anticipated of the Before Watchmen books, Rorschach is well worth the wait. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo give us exactly what we want from a Walter Kovacs solo book. While both beautiful and dirty, the book nails the feel of 70’s New York City, a time and place where a violent vigilante like Rorschach was probably needed.
Without a doubt, Brian Azzarello was the perfect choice to write this book. He absolutely nails the character that was already clearly defined in Alan Moore’s book, and while he doesn’t try to reveal anything we didn’t already know about the character, he does have a very strong grasp on what makes Rorschach tick, and more importantly, why he’s the most beloved of the Watchmen characters. As equally important to this issue (if not more so) is Lee Bermejo’s artwork. My god, the man is insane here, capturing the gritty, noir stylings of the city in a very beautiful way. It’s kind of creepy how gorgeous the art is in this book, especially when you realize some of the terrible things that are being committed in it.
The story follows Rorschach on the case of a drug pusher in New York City, and his first steps towards finding the head of the operation. Combining this with the familiar “Rorschach’s Journal” entries that we all know and love instantly transports the reader back into the world of Watchmen, and the brutal, harsh reality of Walter Kovacs. While there are no ‘big reveals” in this issue, we do get a very tragic look into Kovac’s past, which again makes us sympathetic towards this most likely insane individual. Hands down, this is the best of the Before Watchmen books, and I’m very pleased that it lived up to my expectations. A must buy.
Walking Dead #101
Picking up immediately after the horrifying issue 100, the latest issue of Walking Dead finds Rick and co. dealing with the fallout of their “meeting” with Negan. Right from the get go we get some great character moments from our main cast, specifically regarding the fate of a certain character that happened last issue. The weight of the situation that these characters are in is starting to be felt, and as always, when the hammer starts to drop, the quality of the book goes up. There’s a tenseness in the air that hasn’t been felt for awhile now, and I cannot wait to see where this story goes. Negan’s influences are far and wide, but now it seems that Rick may have the means to stop him. Trade waiters, I envy your patience.
Oh Marvel. If only you had the Eye Of Agamotto, telepathy, or Madame Webb’s ability to see into the future. Then you wouldn’t find yourself in the position you are in right now, struggling to barter and trade your way into getting the movie rights to your characters back.
For those unaware, what I’m referring to is the current movie states of Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. Both are owned by Fox Studios, whom you could make a very strong case for mishandling both properties in the past (I don’t hate Daredevil as much as most, but the less said about the two Fantastic Four movies the better). Both are also “in danger” of having the movie rights return to Marvel and their studio if Fox doesn’t start production on them soon. Early reports stated that Fox was willing to trade Galactus and Silver Surfer (who come as a part of the “Fantastic Four” movie rights) in exchange for keeping Daredevil.
HOWEVER, new reports are saying that Fox would rather keep the two characters and let Daredevil go back to Marvel Studios. While it’s unfortunate to think that we won’t get to see Silver Surfer or Galactus in any of Marvel’s cosmic films, I thinkMatt Murdock would be best suited at Marvel Studios. Besides the fact that Fox has hired Chronicle director Josh Trank to reboot Fantastic Four (which I’m curious to see), it’s fairly obvious that Fox has been taking their sweet time getting a new Daredevil film made. The last film was made back in 2003, and superhero films have changed a LOT in that time.
While a Daredevil film would be awesome, I honestly think the property would be even better if done as a gritty crime drama (possibly on FX). A mix of Law and Order and vigilante justice shows, you could balance the beating up criminals activities of Daredevil with the courtroom drama of Matt Murdock’s life as an attorney. Sure, courtroom dramas are a dime a dozen on network TV, but having one be focused on Daredevil would make this one stand out from the crowd. Hell, just get Brian Michael Bendis and have him adapt his comic storylines. It would make for an awesome drama, and would diversify the products that Marvel Studios turns out.
While it’s going to be a long time (if ever) until we see Spider-man or the X-Men back at Marvel, at least with this news we can have some hope that most of our favorite Marvel heroes will return home to a studio that accepts and understands them. Sure, we’ve had some great non-Marvel Studio movies, but a lot of them range from “meh” to “god-awful”. At least under the same studio house we could get the chance to see the wider Marvel universe that we know and love.
Punk Rock Jesus #2 (of 6)
Alright, I’m calling it: Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus is my favorite comic of 2012. When I received the first issue a week ago as a gift, I had no idea what to expect from it. After reading it, I was blown away by its originality, and now after reading the second issue, I am officially hooked. Following the exploits of a scientist and reality show that has allegedly cloned Jesus, the book deals with some heavy issues revolving around faith, violence, and the media. Writer/creator/artist Sean Murphy has created one of the most unique comics of all time, and something that can truly only work in the comics medium.
Gwen Fairling has given birth to Chris, the “clone of Jesus”, and is now living in seclusion on the “J2” mountain. Hungry for ratings, the masterminds behind the reality show have begun spinning anything than can into “miracles” performed by the infant Chris. Everything from writing “Genesis” with blocks to turning the juice in his bottle into wine. Of course, these are all elaborate tricks to boost ratings and manipulate the world into believing that this child is in fact, the new Jesus Christ on Earth. After finally breaking under the pressure, Gwen convinces Thomas, the badass ex-IRA head of security, to take her off the island and try to find her family. Things go….not great. At all.
As I’ve previously mentioned, Punk Rock Jesus touches on some very heavy issues, and wears it’s mature readers label like a badge of honor. However, nothing is gratuitous. In fact, every violent piece or swear word is done in service to the story, and not as shock value. Sean Murphy is starting something amazing here. Get on board now.
Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe #2 (of 4)
Whoa. If you thought DKTMU‘s first issue was violent, you haven’t seen anything yet. Following on the previous issue’s pretty awesome development of a long dormant, extremely evil persona of Deadpool taking over, the second installment of the Wade Wilson’s carnival of chaos doesn’t let up for a single moment. Everyone from Spider-man, Iron Man, and even the Hulk meet their makers at the hands of the Merc With A Mouth, and you know what? It’s a lot of fun. Writer Cullen Bunn has tapped something in Deadpool that is pretty unsettling, and the mystery surrounding his actions remains intriguing. Dalibor Talajic’s pencils are spot on, and add a nice touch of realism to some of the over-the-top ways that Wade dispatches the Marvel Heroes. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely an entertaining read, especially if you’ve become tired of the typical Deadpool fare that’s out there.
Holy crap, it’s August, which unfortunately means that there’s not a whole lot of time to do nothing left. So, what have you done? Really? You haven’t gone anywhere? Well, lucky for you, you can visit some famous locations through the great American art form: comics! Sure, cities like Gotham and Metropolis may be based on real life places like Chicago and New York City, but real life is a pale imitation for the thrill of possibly being attacked by the Scarecrow while sightseeing at the Gotham Museum. Unfortunately, with these places existing only in our funny books, it’s up to us to find the spots that will shape your remaining summer travels. So, let’s start with our first stop….
Marvel’s New York City
“But wait” you say, “aren’t we looking at fictional places Jon?” Why yes, which is why we’re starting with the New York City of the Marvel universe. Placed around shared “real-world” landmarks like the Statue Of Liberty and the Empire State Building, tourists can check out such landmarks as the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building, Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, and of course, The Daily Bugle headquarters. Interested travelers should check out nearly every Marvel published title, but especially titles like Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-man, and even their local multiplex (as long as The Avengers is still showing).
Lovecraft, Massachusetts is a beautiful town on the coast of Massachusetts. It is home to the Keyhouse, a gorgeous mansion under the management of the Locke family. While locals may tell tales of strange goings on in and around the home (and the ones who inhabit it), one should not let that deter them from seeing this wonderful town, which can be seen in Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodgriguez’ Locke and Key series.
Remember Scott Pilgrim? A world that basically has the same rules as Super Mario Bros., tourists are encouraged to “get the high score” in life, and collect as many coins from their fallen enemies as possible. Many say that they even find love in beautiful Toronto, even if they do have battle their newfound love’s previous flames. Those looking to prepare for their travel up North (and inevitable battles) should look to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World series.
Sure, this city is more famous for it’s vigilante and colorful criminals, but there are a lot of other aspects of the city to enjoy. Actually, there isn’t. Innocent people seem to be chum to the sharks that lurk in the shadows of the back alleys. However, the rent is dirt cheap, so anyone looking for a quick getaway should check out any and all tales featuring the Batman, but my current favorite take is Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “new 52” reboot of Batman.
Home to Starman, Opal City is teeming with classic heroes, and a must stop for fans of the by gone “golden age” of heroes. Those on the lookout may see The Shade, Black Condor, Elongated Man, or even a member of the “Starman family”. Those looking for more should seek out James Robinson and Tony Harris’ Starman omnibuses.
Avengers vs. X-Men #9
The latest issue of Marvel’s summer event definitely takes the cake, kicking all kinds of ass and upping the stakes in the fight between Marvel’s two flagship teams. With their numbers dwindling, the Avengers make a last ditch attempt to save their fellow teammates from the Phoenix Five X-Men’s prison. The fight will not be an easy one, and more than one member will have to nearly put everything on the line to protect his teammates….
Avengers vs. X-Men #9, written by Jason Aaron, is an awesome installment of the storyline, and may be the best yet. The action hits extremely heavy here, and you really get a sense of the desperation that the Avengers are feeling with their backs against the wall. There’s no easy way out of this battle, and when they storm the hell on Earth prison you start to hope they succeed. A lot of this is due to Aaron’s stellar script, which really captures the tense feelings Captain America and co. are feeling. But the real standout of the issue is Spider-man, who bravely decides to go toe to toe with a Phoenix possessed Colossus and Magik. Aaron nails what makes Spidey such a great hero. Even as he faces two beings completely and utterly out of his power class, Spidey still hits them with his trademark banter, taking a punishing beating in the process that allows his teammates to escape.
Adam Kubert’s art, as always, is stellar on this issue. You feel every punch Peter Parker receives, and the quieter moments between characters like Black Panther and Storm are treated with the same care as the action scenes. While Avengers vs. X-Men has been a rather uneven ride, issue 9 will go down as not only one of the best moments of the series, but for Spider-Man as well.
Swamp Thing #12
Alright,I’m just going to say it: I shouldn’t have trade waited on Animal Man. Not just because I keep hearing how amazing it is, but also because I needed to have read Animal Man #12 before picking up the newest issue of Swamp Thing. Both Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire (the writers of both Swamp Thing and AM respectively) trade the storytelling duties here, which is a direct continuation of the previous Buddy Baker story. There’s no recap page at the beginning, which is a shame, as I would probably be correct in stating that not everyone reading Swampy would reading Animal Man (and vice versa).
However, from what I’ve pieced together from the first installment of the story (which I’ll pick up), Swamp Thing and Animal Man have teamed up to stop “the Rot” from taking over the Earth. For those unaware, The Rot is essentially an undead version of the Borg: they live to consume flesh and turn it into undead monstrosities. Of course our avatars of “The Green” and “The Red” (Swamp Thing and Animal Man) are here to prevent The Rot from decimating the Earth, which would be easier said than done had they not been trapped in the “Rotworld”, and returned to Earth one year after the Rot takes over. While I may not be happy with having to go back and get part one of this story, Thi issue was still extremely entertaining and left me definitely wanting more.