Monthly Archives: November 2012

Superior (?) Spider-Man

WARNING: Unless you’ve read Amazing Spider-Man #698, go NO FURTHER! SPOILERS AHOY!!!!

Well, that was not what I was expecting. For months, Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has been tweeting about issue 698, even more than issue 700, which we now know will serve as the final issue of Amazing Spider-Man. So now that the dust has settled, and people have snatched up their Spider-Man 2099 #1 issues from the quarter bins hoping to turn them over for a higher profit, how does this revelation sit with a life long Spidey fan like me?

I honestly don’t know. I am both disappointed and intrigued by the idea, but much of that is tempered by the fact that nothing changes for real in the Marvel universe. And before I forget, you can put away those 2099 issues. And Kaine issues. And don’t worry, you won’t have to piece together the Alpha issues from the shredder either. The identity of “Superior” Spider-Man is something that came completely out of left field for me, even though the host of the “Cape Crisis” podcast correctly guessed it. So who is it? Do you want to know? Do you REALLY want to know?

Seriously, turn back now. This is your only warning.

If Amazing Spider-Man #698 is to be believed, Doctor Octopus is the new Spider-Man. Somehow, someway, Ock has swapped bodies with Peter Parker, and is now in control, leaving Peter Parker’s mind in the dying body of Otto Octavius. This reveal comes at the end of the issue, which followed Peter through a normal day. However, something seems off in his characterization. He seems too determined to change his life for the better, too optimistic about the future. And by the end, we know why that is.

Now, there’s a big chance that this could all be a bait and switch, that Peter somehow gets out of this and is still Spider-Man by the time Superior Spider-Man hits the stands in January (or someone else is Spidey by then). But as of right now, this does present an interesting angle on Dr. Octopus. After so many years of humiliating defeat, he (potentially) gets his ultimate revenge. This move places him in the top tier of villains, arguably even above Norman Osborn, who in recent years has become less of a Spidey villain and more of the Lex Luthor of the Marvel Universe.

OckSpidey is an interesting idea, and if it goes through, it would be something different for Marvel. As I’ve stated before in this column, I’m pretty indifferent to changes to Spider-Man at this point. I’ve stuck through worse than this, and I really don’t think it will last longer than 7 issues, 10 maybe. Seeing Doc Ock try and do the “hero” thing does have potential, but will Marvel really completely change their flagship hero?

No way, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is supposed to come out next summer!

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Comic Reviews: Uncanny Avengers, Aquaman, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Uncanny Avengers #2

Well, well, well, welcome back Mr. Tardypants. After nearly a month delay, Uncanny Avengers is back on the stands, and while the full team roster has yet to really come together, there’s plenty in this issue to keep you waiting for issue 3 (whenever it gets released).

Focusing primarily on Rogue and Scarlet Witch’s imprisonment by the Red Skull, writer Rick Remender explains Skull’s resurrection in a pretty quick and interesting way, and I have to admit, as crazy as his plan is, I kind of like it. What he does in possession of Prof. X’s brain is pretty awesome, and is a prime example of something only a comic book could get away with.

Cap and Thor also make an appearance, alongside Havok and Wolverine in the book’s opening segment, which focuses on the clean up of Avalanche’s attack last issue.  Wolverine doesn’t believe that Avalanche attacked under his own accord, and Cap agrees, laying the groundwork for a mystery that will most likely bring the foursome on a path that meets up with Rogue and Scarlet Witch.

This opening segment is the highlight of the issue for me. Remender addresses the current human/mutant relationship, and the conversation between Cap and Wolverine over this is really intriguing (as is Thor’s take on the whole matter). Calling Cap out on having the brother of the mutant who almost killed everyone is a great point brought up by Wolverine (and probably some fans as well), and Cap’s response is pretty solid.  The following scene between Havok and a survivor of the attack was really poignant and well done, thanks to John Cassaday’s art.

Speaking of Cassaday, some of his faces get kinda weird. But despite that, if he keep turning out art like this, I’ll keep buying Uncanny Avengers, even it comes out as a quarterly book. Rogue’s battle with some of Skull’s henchmen was really cool, and I loved Cassaday’s depiction of the powers Rogue absorbs. Speaking of Skull’s henchmen, their designs are great, and I think I may have a new favorite mutant baddie with Myr, the giant snapping turtle (I know I already love his description of PB and J sandwiches). Cassaday’s Red Skull is also a very creepy. The way he has Skull’s eyes sunken into his face is very unsettling, and reminds me a lot of the guy from The Hills Have Eyes.

All in all, Uncanny Avengers‘ second issue was solid, and pretty close to being worth the wait. I’ve heard that Marvel is going to be adding a new artist in for the next story arc to help with the scheduling issues, so while I’ll be happy to get more Remender craziness, I will miss having Cassaday’s stunning pencils blow my eyeballs out of my face. Unfortunately there’s another long wait for issue 3 (which is now rumored for February).

 

Aquaman #14

One of my favorite books on the stands is Aquaman. Yeah, I said it. Geoff Johns has done the impossible with this series, making the once one-note joke of a character a badass, and crafting a pretty interesting mystery in the process. A prologue for next month’sThe Throne Of Atlantis”, this issue reintroduces us to Arthur Curry’s brother, Ocean Master.

Following his battle with Black Manta last issue, Aquaman goes to his brother, hoping to learn who was behind Manta’s search for ancient Atlantean artifacts. While there’s not a whole lot of action in this issue, Johns does create a lot of interesting tension between Arthur and his brother, who remains largely in the shadows as Arthur tries to get answers out of him. There’s almost a Xavier/Magneto dynamic to the two, except they’re talking about being Atlanteans and not mutants. The issue switches over to give us an update on Black Manta, who, like Aquaman, has also been given a couple of badass pills by Mr. Johns. His rejection of Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad invitation is pretty..unique to say the least.

Pete Woods gives Ivan Reis a breather on the art this issue, and to be honest, I don’t think there’s been a better fill-in job this year in comics. If I hadn’t just looked at the cover to make sure Reis didn’t draw this issue, I don’t think I would’ve known. of course Woods’ art isn’t as good as Reis’, it’s still close enough to not make for a jarring difference from the previous issue.

I’ve really been enjoying Aquaman since the new 52 started. It’s been full of adventure, humor, and great characters. It’s a book that I look forward to every month, and now that I’ve seen the cliffhanger ending to this issue, I’m beyond excited for the upcoming Justice League crossover. Yes, he talks to fish, but if you’re still hung up on that, you’re missing out on some of the best superhero comics on the shelf. Period.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 16

The turtles do battle with Slash, and hoo boy, is it a doozy. Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz’ new spin on the Ninja Turtles has been a really consistent read, and while this issue moves the plot forward, it sure as hell doesn’t skimp on the action. Slash has been reimagined from his cartoon and Archie comics roots,  and is huge, powerful, and virtually unstoppable. It takes nearly everything our heroes in a half shell have to take him down, and that’s still not enough.  Andy Kuhn’s art in this segment is stellar, pulling you into the action. You see the desperation on Leonardo’s face as he pleads with Slash, an unrelenting monster, to not make him kill him.

As good as the art is during the action scenes, it’s the aftermath of this battle that really stays with you, even if the ending is kind of a cop out. Despite that, the characterization of the individual Turtles is spot on, and there’s a heartbreaking moment for all you Michelangelo fans out there.  If you’re a fan of the Turtles and still haven’t read any of this relaunch, get on it!

Comic Reviews: Indestructible Hulk, Catwoman, and The Rocketeer!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Indestructible Hulk #1

Marvel’s jade giant gets a brand new #1 thanks to Marvel NOW!, and the result is one of the best books from the relaunch so far.  Penned by Daredevil‘s Mark Waid and drawn by Superior‘s Lienil Yu, Indestructible Hulk finds Bruce Banner on the run yet again, but with a new lease on life. What follows is one of the most fun comics I’ve read this year, and a superb introductory issue to a new era in the Hulk’s story.

The strongest selling point of this issue is Banner’s new outlook on life. Meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill in a dingy diner, he tells her he’s had an “epiphany”. Not wanting to be outdone by the likes of Tony Stark and Reed Richards, Banner makes Hill an offer: give him all of the resources he needs to help the world with his genius, and in return, they can use the Hulk on missions that would be too dangerous for regular agents. It’s a premise that’s so good and so simple that I’m amazed no one has thought of it before Mark Waid. After a “trial run”, Banner is accepted into S.H.I.E.L.D., and the wait for issue two is on.

While Waid’s script and characterizations of Banner and Hill are spectacular, this book wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is without Yu’s pencils. Effectively working with Waid’s script, Yu’s art in the early moments of the issue build up the tension that one would feel sitting across the table from what Hill describes as an “Atomic bomb”.  Once we finally get to see the Hulk in action, it’s an effective release that leaves you in awe, reminding you just how power Hulk is. Yu really shines in these moments, and his two page splash revealing the Hulk with some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents behind him is one of the best pages of the year.

Indestructible Hulk was a sure bet comic coming from Waid. I just didn’t realize how good it was. Fans of Hulk’s appearance in The Avengers should definitely pick this bad boy up. This is how you create comics for people coming out of the multiplexes: place them in easily accessible situations with great writers and artists. While it may be a little early in the game to say it just yet, all signs point to Waid working the same magic he did on Daredevil  here.

Catwoman #14

With any big event that has multiple tie-ins, there’s bound to be some that just suck. Unfortunately, the latest “Death Of The Family” tie-in, Catwoman, fits into this category. I’ve only read the first two issues of this series (aside from last month’s #13), so there’s a lot of background info I’m missing, but man, this was just not good.

The gist of the issue is that The Joker starts tormenting Selina Kyle in order to convince her she’s not “good enough for Batman”. That’s really all you need to know. Mr. J torments Selina in numerous ways, but there’s just something off about the way he’s going about it. From calling Catwoman “Catface” to making her take off her costume and put on a new “skin”, Anne Nocenti’s take on Joker just isn’t for me. There’s also a lot of confusing jumps in time and flashbacks, which made the whole issue a chore to read.

Rafa Sandoval handles the art, and while his characters look good, his take on Joker’s “new look” leaves a lot be desired. Instead of a horrifying piece of rotting flesh attached to his face, Joker instead looks like he took a page from Hush’s fashion book and wrapped his face in bandages. This whole issue felt like something neither the writer or the artist wanted any part in, and completed it because editorial forced them to. As one of the first “DOTF” tie-ins out, it’s a shame that this one was such a bummer.

The Rocketeer: Cargo Of Doom #4 (of 4)

Mark Waid (again!) and Chris Samnee close out their tale of The Rocketeer vs. Dinosaurs in Los Angeles. If that sentence doesn’t make you want to drive to your local LCS and pick it up, then I don’t know what else to tell you. Cargo of Doom has been a fun ride that fit right in with the tone of the original Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer series, and my hope is that this isn’t the last time this creative team gets to take Cliff Secord into the air.

With the dinosaurs on the loose, Cliff takes them all head on, armed only with the special disintegration gun that he stole off a goon last issue. There are plenty of awesome action moments in this issue, even if it seems like Cliff takes out the dinos relatively easily. What matters more here is the (once again) great character work by Waid, who this week solidifies himself as one of the most versatile writers in comics today. Creating a new story for a well-known cult character is a daunting task, yet Waid handled it beautifully.

Speaking of beautifully, just flip through some of Samnee’s art. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Wasn’t it great? His style so expertly fits the tone of what a Rocketeer story should be that I wish he could draw every story from here on out. From whipping through LA fighting dinosaurs to scenes with Cliff and Betty taking a breather and sharing a milkshake at the diner, Samnee really brings it with this series.

While the main conflict was wrapped up a little too neatly, The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom was still a great story for fans of the character, whether you know him from his comics or the Disney film. While this miniseries is over, thankfully IDW has more adventures for Cliff Secord planned in 2013.  I know I, for one, will be there.

When You Wish Upon A Star…

This weekend, something happened that I never, ever thought would: I met Stan Lee.

Well, “met” may be too strong of a word. “Awkwardly attempted to talk to him and stand next to him for a picture” is probably a more apt description of the weekend, but still, it’s Stan Lee, the man who not only shaped a massive part of my childhood, but created Spider-Man,  the inspiration for the man I am today.

Stan was the guest of honor for Super MegaFest, the Framingham, MA convention  that’s most known for bringing hundreds of celebrities (and porn stars) in one place for people to meet (and pay a ton for their autographs). I left my apartment with a buddy of mine at 5:30 in the morning, which let me arrive promptly at 8. Of course, my preplanning was pretty much all for naught, as my friend Chris and I were the 30th and 31st people in line, respectively.
However, that didn’t change my resolve. I was going to meet Stan and thank him, no matter what. Luckily this bull-headedness paid off, and I ended up first in line for the autograph section of the day. Stan was only appearing on Saturday, and his schedule was locked: Autographs at 10, photo op at 12:40, Autographs again at 2, and another photo op at 4. After acquiring my tickets for autographs and the photo op, Chris and I were sent into a small conference room with a giant projector on the end of it, which was convieniently playing the Marvel movies to keep us anxious nerds docile and entertained. Within minutes, the room was packed. People of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life were in that one room, all to see one man.

The wedding of Spidey and MJ, for those not in the know

The fact that I was not only going to the first autograph session, but also going to be the first person to walk through the doors to see him was mind blowing. Here was a man that I’ve literally seen on television or in comics since I was five years old, and now I was going to meet him. With my copy of Amazing Spider-Man annual #26 (the wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson) and Spider-Man #23 (the first comic book I ever got) in hand, I was ready. I had it all planned out: I’d walk right up to him, shake his hand, and say “thank you sir. It’s an honor. You’ll never know how much Spider-Man has meant to me, and still continues to mean to me. Thank you”. He’d probably say “Thanks, True believer!” or even “Excelsior!” and sign my books. Hell, maybe he’d even tell me he preferred Andrew Garfield to Toby Maguire as Spider-Man.

Then, about an hour into Incredible Hulk, the call was made. Stan was ready. The kind people who came into the room after myself graciously allowed me to go in first, which they didn’t have to do since I had royally fucked up the line system that the convention runners had set up (in my defense, they didn’t come up with their system until after Chris and I had entered the waiting room). I walked up to the double doors containing one of my idols. I had the script in my brain, my two comics removed from their bags and boards (a perilous move since my palms were extremely sweaty), and a sense of anxiousness and calmness. The doors opened. And there he was, flanked by two of his assistants.  I’m sure the look on my face was one of either absolute joy or stunned awe, as he looked at me, RIGHT at me, smiled, and said in a voice I’ve heard millions of times growing up as a comic book fan:

“Hey, how ya doin’?”

And everything I’ve learned about responding to a greeting evaporated from my brain. What I meant to say was “hello, it’s an honor to meet you”, but what actually came out was something more along the lines of this:

“aaabughhhhhaaaaaaaahelllo”

He smiled though, and signed the books I handed to his assistant. Apparently the Megafest staff was very cautious of people getting too close to him (either because of his fame or the fact he’s 90), as they not only placed two tables on either side of him, but also one in between you and Stan, pretty much guaranteeing that I wouldn’t be able to try and hug him and find out what he smelled like (stetson, in case you’re wondering).

Spider-Man #23. Imagine 5 year old me’s reaction to that cover.

I did attempt to recover from my fan boy moment as he signed Spider-Man #23.  I awkwardly squeaked out “that’s the first comic book my Mom ever bought me”, to which he replied “that’s wonderful!”. But then at that point, some guy who was third in line butted in and asked him who his favorite character he created was, to which he responded “Spider-Man” (duh).  I was then handed my books back by another assistant and told to keep the line moving.  And that, was that.

Or was it? Remember the 12:40 photo op? I had a ticket for that too, and by some weird nerd luck, I was the third person in line. Chris and I were also somehow admitted into the VIP room, a fact that we were not alerted to until about an hour before the photos. Luckily no one working the show asked to check our passes, or else we would’ve had to wait in the 150+ person line outside the room. This time, I did get the chance to talk to Stan, if only for about 20 seconds. I also got as close to a living legend that I will probably ever be.

The photo op line, in an attempt to keep the massive line somewhat manageable, cycled people through at a rapid succession. Stan ambled in, and shook hands with nearly everyone who was working on the photo op lines, something that struck me as very cool. Here’s a guy who’s been around for decades, is known around the world, yet he stopped to shake the hands of people who are trying to do their jobs in an extremely high stress situation. Stan took a seat on a chair, and you were called up, asked to look at the camera, the picture is taken, then you had to immediately exit. Luckily after my photo with him was taken, I was able to get in a quick “thank you so much sir” before exiting (to which he replied “you’re very welcome”).

And that was it. An 3 hour round trip drive, 2 1/2 hours in line. All for maybe half a minute of dialogue with Stan Lee. And you know what? It was completely worth it.  This was something that I not only never thought I’d be able to do in my lifetime, but also something that will never happen again. I know that Stan was obviously getting paid an obscene amount of money to appear at Megafest (which was apparent from the price of the autographs and photo op), but meeting him, having this story to tell my children about later, is something that will stay with me forever. As corny as it sounds, I literally had a dream come true this past weekend, and all I can say is this:

“EXCELSIOR!”

007, Reporting For Duty

If you haven’t seen Skyfall yet, do so now. Even if you’re not a huge James Bond fan, it’s a fantastic action movie and a stand out for the franchise. Daniel Craig has done the best Bond work since Casino Royale, and Javier Bardem’s baddie isn’t just one of the best Bond villains, but one of the best cinema villains of the decade, period. But I’m not here to gush about Skyfall. I’m here to ask this:

Why isn’t there a James Bond comic book?

Now before anyone says it, yes, there have been Bond comics in the past. Everyone from Marvel to DC to Topps had their go with 007, but his last adventure on the comic shelves was Topps’ adaptation of Goldeneye, of which only one issue saw the light of day. So what’s the hold up? Why is Bond seemingly impossible to translate into the comic medium? Is it that hard to create new stories about the superspy?

Perhaps the problem is that the character is already so well known that there would be a glut of 007 material available to the Bond fans. Bond films are an event for many (even when there isn’t a 4 year wait between them), so maybe the films wouldn’t be as big of an event if fans could get a monthly fix of Bond?

Just not this…okay?

Nah, it’s not that. I think it’s either that Bond producers Barbara Broccolli and Michael G Wilson aren’t willing to give out a Bond comic license, or publishers just aren’t interested in the license, which is a shame. James Bond is a character that, like Batman, Spider-Man, or any superhero, spans generations. I have fond memories of watching the marathons on TBS with my dad on Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breaks, and seeing the new films in theaters. I love all of the actors who’ve played him, although I grew up watching Brosnan, so he’s the one I still think of when I picture him in my head. If done correctly, a James Bond: 007 comic series could be a draw for new readers, much like what The Walking Dead TV show is doing right now.

 

I’ve mentioned them before for previous properties, but once again, I think IDW would be the publisher for the job. They’ve already proven that they can handle properties respectfully, just look at their Star Trek, True Blood, and Ninja Turtles comics. Not to mention the fact that they could then incorporate Bond into crossovers with other characters. Just think of how awesome a James Bond/Danger Girl crossover would be. I know Bond would have fun at least….

Comic Reviews: The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, and Saga!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Amazing Spider-Man #697

Issue 700 is a mere 3 issues away for Amazing Spider-Man, but before he can get “Superior”, Spidey has to deal with a double dose of Hobgoblin in this week’s #697. Concluding “War Of The Goblins”, writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage deliver a very satisfying ending, negating my fears that this would be a rush job ending like the previous “Alpha” storyline.

Peter Parker and his boss, Max Modell, are on the run from Roderick Kingsley and Phil Urich, both men who are also The Hobgoblin, and are also currently fighting over who is the “real” Hobgoblin. As this is going on, Peter and Max finally locate one of Norman Osborne’s Goblin Bunkers, the secrets of which Urich  Hobby is after for the Kingpin. Seeing the inside of Osborne’s hideout was very cool, and a good reminder that even though he’s become a Lex Luthor like threat to the Marvel Universe, he’s still first and foremost a Spider-Man villain. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli does an excellent job filling in the lair with numerous references to Osborne’s past with Spidey, and there’s even a nice surprise cameo as well. Camuncoli’s delivers once again on the art front, however there are some panels where Peter looks oddly shaped, causing me to check the beginning of the book to make sure that Humberto Ramos didn’t fill in on some pages.

Yes, this is another three part event, but as I mentioned earlier, “Goblin War” doesn’t feel like it’s rushed at all. Perhaps this is because Slott had assistance from Gage, but this issue moves along at a great pace and never once feels like something was cut out to make everything fit into three issues.  There’s a slight hint into the upcoming issue 698, but there’s really nothing here that’s essential for people looking for clues for issue 700.

 

Batman #14

Ho. Lee. SHIT.

Pardon my French, but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done it again. At this point it’s moot to call this one of the best comics on the stands, but, this is one of the best comics on the stands.  Of course this will be spoiler free, but Batman and Joker finally meet mano a mano, and man, is it a doozy. We see the ramifications of last issue’s encounter between Alfred and the Joker, and the fallout from that incident ramps up the tension in this book even more. Just when you think the tension can’t get any higher from there, then Snyder drops the biggest bomb in comics since Walking Dead #48. The promos all say that The Joker is playing for keeps this time, and this issue solidifies it. My only complaint is that this book doesn’t come out nearly as much as it should.

 

 

 

 

 

Saga #7

Brain K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga finally returns from its “creative break” to continue the story of Marko and Alana, who we last saw leaving their planet on a wooden spaceship, with Marko’s parents appearing on board.  Vaughn opens the issue with a flashback to Marko’s youth. While this doesn’t move the plot forward right away, it does give us some interesting background into Marko and the culture of his race.

We’re then flashed forward to the present, where Marko and Alana have it out with Marko’s parents, who just murdered their ghostly “babysitter” Izabel. Marko decides to go after her, entering a strange kinda-sorta alternate dimension. His mom follows, leaving Alana and Marko’s father behind. While his father seems innocent and kind at first, by issue’s end you may have some different feelings towards him.

Saga‘s return may not quite have been worth the nearly 2 month wait, but hey, even a “good” issue of Saga is better than most books on the stands.  Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have created such a unique world in only seven issues that I don’t mind when we take our time with the plot. Half the fun of this series is seeing what kind of insane aliens and planets Vaughan and Staples throw at us each month.

What If?: Marvel NOW! Edition

Marvel NOW! is officially kicking into high gear. The relaunch of nearly every title sees the return of such Marvel mainstays as Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and even the Young Avengers. But there are always characters and stories that fall through the cracks, missing their chance at being displayed prominently on your local comic shop’s shelf. So here, I present to you an alternate universe in which Marvel NOW! included these characters and stories. Who knows, maybe Marvel will follow DC’s lead (again) and replace some of their lower selling books with these ones.

Savage Axe of Ares

Ares was one of my favorite characters of the last ten years. Introduced to him in Michael Avon Oeming and Travel Foreman’s stunning Ares miniseries, I quickly searched out everything I could find about the character. Lucky for me, Marvel ushered him onto Iron Man’s post-Civil War Avengers team, as well as Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers.  Then, he was killed in Siege.  But in the Marvel Universe, Gods (and mortals) don’t stay dead. Trapped in the Underworld, Ares grows tired of the peace and tranquility of the underworld. Deciding to return to the world, the Lord Of The Dead tells him that he is free to go, but only if he defeats the army of the dead. Will Ares win his contest for freedom? Or will he fail and become the latest slave of the Lord of the Dead?

 

 

 

 

Taskmaster

Fred Van Lente and Jefte Palo’s Taskmaster miniseries was one of my favorite comics of 2011, and it’s a disgrace to the character that there isn’t a follow-up. Instead of picking up where the mini left off, let’s see a “day in the life of Taskmaster” series, a reverse take on the Hawkeye series that is currently getting raves from everyone and their mothers (rightfully so).  From pulling heists to training henchmen for other villains, a Taskmaster series could offer a very interesting look into the seedier sides of the Marvel Universe.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Rider

Focusing on the main man himself, Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider would ideally place the character back under the pen of Jason Aaron, whose run on the character is one of my favorites.  Back as the spirit of vengeance, Johnny Blaze has a new lease on life. No longer viewing his curse as a weakness, Blaze uses the Ghost Rider to help people throughout the world who are plagued by the supernatural. Everything from werewolves to vampires to the Headless Horseman are hunted by the Rider, who won’t stop until the forces of darkness are destroyed, even himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Astonishing Spider-Man and Deadpool

First, go read Avenging Spider-man issues 12 and 13. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Good. You just read one of the best two-issue stories of the year, and one of the few to make me laugh uncontrollably. With those two issues, it’s a shame that Marvel didn’t give writer Kevin Shinick a Spider-man/Deadpool book, because he clearly has a knack for both characters. The premise? Deadpool decides that he wants to go legit (again), and since Spidey just recently had a sidekick, he decides that the wall crawler is the perfect person to show him the ropes. Of course, Spider-Man wants nothing to do with him, which leads to all kinds of hilarious misadventures. Think a superhero version of What About Bob? And you’ve got the gist.

 

 

 

 

Marvel Team Up

The classic Marvel Team-Up returns but with an interesting twist: Doop! Hot off the 17th issue of Wolverine and The X-Men, MTU will follow Doop’s adventures through the Marvel Universe, documenting everything he sees for the Jean Grey School’s archives. Doop will capture major events old and new on digital video, whether the other Marvel heroes like it or not!

 

 

 

Old Man Logan 2 

Seriously Millar, just write the damn thing already.

Movie Review: Skyfall

Movie Review!

Skyfall (2012)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw

Directed By: Sam Mendes

Bond is back! After what felt like a lifetime ago, Skyfall brings James Bond back to the big screen in a big way, crafting one of the best Bond films in the Brit spy’s history, and easily the best Bond of the Craig era. Yes, even better than Casino Royale.
I’ll try to keep this one SPOILER FREE where I can, or at least give you guys a head’s up before I get too into the nity gritty.

Following a botched mission, James Bond(Daniel Craig) is presumed dead. Of course, when he hears of a terrorist attack on MI6 headquarters, he reappears to help M (Judi Dench) and his fellow agents track down Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), cyberterroist with ties to M’s past. What follows are spectacular action set pieces, awesome nods to the cinematic history of  James Bond, and phenomenal performances throughout the film.

I would be remiss to no highlight Javier Bardem’s turn as Silva. He’s not only the best Bond villain, but one of the best villains in the history of cinema. This performance is so good that it really makes the movie, and he doesn’t even show up for the first hour of the movie! Silva is creepy, frightening, hilarious, intriguing, and intimidating all at once, and Bardem completely gives the role his all. His introduction is one of the film highlights of the year, and will easily be imitated for years to come.

Daniel Craig is no slouch as Bond either. Its great to see him back playing the character, and Craig seems to be having the most fun he’s had as Bond with this film. Between the fight scenes, chase sequences, and dramatic moments, Craig deftly handles everything the movie asks of him, including some great scenes involving Bond’s back story, something that hasn’t really been covered in any previous 007 films.
Skyfall also reintroduces viewers to Q, Bond’s long time gadget guy who was absent from the previous Craig films. Instead of an eldery statesman though, Q is now a young gadget geek played by Ben Whishaw. I didn’t really know what to expect from him, but the scenes he shares with Craig are great, and will remind long time Bond fans of the glory days of Desmond Llewelyn chastising Sean Connery/Roger Moore/ Pierce Brosnan. Other new comers include Naomie Harris as a fellow MI6 agent and Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, a liaison for the Prime Minister brought in to help assist with the terror attacks in London.

Sam Mendes does a fantastic job behind the camera. Directing a Bond film is no easy task, even when you don’t take into account that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the character.  Mendes balances the action and quieter moments deftly, and has in turn crafted one of the best 007 adventures to ever be seen on the screen. There have been many comparisons between this and The Dark Knight, which is apt. However, Skyfall never copies Nolan’s masterpiece, however, it’s very clearly inspired by it. Bond travels to only two locations in the entire film, and much of the rest takes place in London, a welcome change to the established “Bond formula”.  In fact, Skyfall takes much of the tried and true Bond tropes and shakes them up. There are a lot of new changes that occur in this film, but they all end up with a Bond that’s very similar to the one we know and love. Perhaps that’s why this film is so well done: it celebrates the long heritage of this character, yet creates a whole new starting point as well. Welcome back Mr. Bond. Let’s hope your next assignment doesn’t keep you away too long.

Verdict:

Five Vodka Martinis out of Five

Comic Reviews: Deadpool, Swamp Thing, and Shadowman!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Deadpool #1

Deadpool is back, and with a brand new, shiny #1! Now I’ll be honest, I fell off the Deadpool train a few years back, but if the rest of the series keeps up the tone presented in this debut issue, I’ll be sticking around for the time being. Deadpool marks the comic writing debut of comedians Brain Posehn and Gerry Duggan, who thankfully do away with the multiple caption box Deadpool that was prevalent since his Daniel Way relaunch a few years back. With this streamlined approach, the character does lose his schizophrenic zaniness, but it definitely makes the issue an easier read.

Wade Wilson is called into action by S.H.I.E.L.D. to help them take out an interesting problem: someone has been resurrecting our presidents, and their zombiefied remains are causing havoc throughout the country. Not wanting to send out Captain America or another member of the Avengers, Deadpool is recruited under deal of receiving a hefty paycheck. Of course, things don’t go entirely as planned for the Merc with a Mouth when the first place he encounters is home to nearly all of our deceased presidents.

I’ve already mentioned Posehn and Duggan’s surprisingly solid script, but it’s worth noting again. These guys do a very good job setting up the plot and getting potential new (and lapsed) Deadpool readers up to speed.  Not all of their jokes hit the mark, but when they do, they hit hard. The overarching plot of Deadpool wanting to be a legitimate hero is great, and his interactions with a certain Asgardian at the beginning of the book are very funny.

The other selling point for the book is the art by Tony Moore, of Walking Dead and Venom fame. I’m a huge Moore fan, and he delivers some of his best work here. His facial expressions are hilarious, especially on Deadpool. Moore does a phenomenal job showing Wade’s reactions to his surrounding even though his face is covered up.  The splash page of all of the undead presidents towards the end has so many sight gags that it’s hard to take them all in on the first read through, and Moore’s work really shines in these moments.

Deadpool is a fun read that did it’s job: getting me to care about Wade Wilson again, and more importantly, want to pick up his series. Consider me on board for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Swamp Thing #14

“Rotworld: The Green Kingdom” continues in the latest issue of Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette’s Swamp Thing. Picking up where #13 left off (and book ending last week’s Annual), part two of Swamp Thing’s journey through Rotworld reveals more about the location of Abigail Arcane, and sheds a little more light into what has happened to the world while Alec Holland was away. Snyder’s script fills us in on the plot details we need to know, but I felt this issue was a little slower paced than the previous one.

Of course, a slower paced issue isn’t a bad thing when you have artwork by Paquette. At this point there’s no reason to continue to sing the man’s praises, he’s just that good. Everything from his panel layouts to his horrific Rot creations are amazing, and continue to make this series a must-buy, even the slow issues. Despite taking it’s time this month, next issue promises a visit to my favorite fictional city: Gotham City. I can’t wait to see what horrors Snyder and Paquette unearth there.

 

 

 

 

Shadowman #1

Valiant Comics’ latest relaunched title is Shadowman. A cross between The Darkness and The PhantomShadowman is a supernatural protector who hunts demons and spirits in New Orleans. Passed from father to son, the legacy of the Shadowman exists to prevent the supernatural from completely taking over the mortal realm, no matter how grotesque or horrific they are.

Jack Bonniface fits the typical model for a young hero. Living in and out of foster homes since he was a kid, he’s been searching for information on his parents for years. All he has is a mysterious amulet that belongs to his father, which after learning that his parents were possible criminals, he throws out. Unfortunately for him, that amulet was preventing the powers of darkness from locating him, as well as the Shadowman entity. With the amulet gone, he horrors of the world come for Boniface, but not before he is transformed into the Shadowman!

While I’m not familiar with Shadowman, the preview images I saw of Patrick Zircher’s art drew me in, and I have to say: he can make horror look reeeeaallll purty. There’s some extremely disgusting stuff here, like a demon named “Mr. Twist” who has mutilated corpses hanging from his ceiling, or the creepy possessed cops who kidnap our hero. Justin Jordan, currently writing Team 7 and the upcoming The Legend Of Luther Strode, does a lot of creative world building in this issue. The legacy behind the Shadowman is a really interesting idea that I hope he plays around with more. While the book does drag a little in the middle, it at least gives us the main character in his superhero outfit in the first issue, which is more than I can say for a lot of first issues.

If you’re a fan of horror comics, The Darkness, or The Phantom (I mean, who doesn’t love Billy Zane?) then you should definitely pick this up.  Valiant has been pumping out some quality books, and Shadowman keeps that tradition going.

A Long Time Ago….

Guys, it’s happening. More Star Wars films are coming. In a historic move for not only fanboys but also the entertainment world at large, Disney bought Lucasfilm for 4 BILLION dollars. This means that Disney now owns Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, Indiana Jones, and of course, Star Wars. But that’s not the only brain busting news released: in 2015, Episode 7 will be released.

Yes, you read that right, Star Wars. EPISODE. SEVEN.

It still hasn’t sunk in. Second (maybe) to Spider-Man and Batman, Star Wars is a HUGE piece of my life and childhood. I distinctly remember being sick at home when I was six years old, and renting the original on my mom’s recommendation. Darth Vader’s revelation to Luke in Empire Strikes Back is forever burned in my brain, probably more so because the rental store didn’t get their copy of Return Of The Jedi back for weeks, leaving me to agonize over the truth behind Vader’s words., and the fate of Han Solo. On my seventh birthday, I received the trilogy set on VHS, a well-worn set that still sits in my apartment to this day. My mom took me out of school to see Phantom Menace, during which I cried during the opening scrawl simply because of sheer excitement (I probably cried at the end too, but for different reasons). I remember skipping school to see Revenge Of The Sith the year I graduated high school, and the feeling the crazy, “what do I do now” feeling that can only come from the fact that not only was something I love over, but I was also graduating high school(which was also kind of important too, I guess).

What I’m trying to say is this: I love Star Wars. While I may bitch about the prequels and complain every time Lucas makes unnecessary changes to the original trilogy, I love the world he created. It brings me back to a simpler time; much like it does for everyone who remembers the originals and that build up to The Phantom Menace.

Lucas created this world, yes, but his walking away from it is the single best thing he could have done. It simply got too big for him to handle, and I believe that the pressure of delivering on the originals with the prequels proved to be too much, causing him to never want anything to do with the series ever again. Giving up his creative control opens up thousands of new avenues for this series that is too vast for just nine movies.

But where will it go? As part of the deal, Disney bought Lucas’ treatment for episodes 7, 8, and 9, but Lucas is no longer directing or writing anything Star Wars ever. It’s stated that he’ll be “creative consultant”, but even then he’s said he’ll be hands-off on the whole thing. With these treatments bought, there’s plenty of room for talented filmmakers who grew up with the series to have their crack at it (when was the last time you heard of a treatment not being rewritten?). The names that first spring to my mind? J. J. Abrams. Christopher Nolan. Duncan Jones. Neil Blomkamp. Del Toro. Tarantino. Joss f&*$ing WHEDON. All of these guys deserve a crack at this franchise (although I’d bet good money that Nolan would refuse the offer), and would do a phenomenal job playing in the world that Lucas built.

George Lucas has done the best thing he could have ever done with his creation: he walked away, and is letting other people breathe new life into it. Thank you sir. For the memories you’ve given me, the stories you’ve shown me, the times you’ve angered me, and most importantly, the characters you created.

Now let’s give some other people a shot.

May the Force be with you.

Quite possibly my favorite shot from the original trilogy: Vader’s funeral pyre.