Monthly Archives: February 2013

Comic Reviews: Guardians Of The Galaxy, Aquaman, and The Rocketeer!

COMIC BOOK REVIEWS!!!!

tumblr_mdjuweL8Fb1rrz073o1_500Guardians Of The Galaxy # 0.1

A prologue to the Guardians Of The Galaxy  series starting next month, this “o.1” issue sheds some background on Star-Lord, the leader of the Guardians. I had never known the character’s history up until this point, but it’s presented in  a great way here and issue leads into the upcoming series perfectly. Brian Michael Bendis and artist Steve McNiven’s upcoming series was already high up on my radar, but after reading this issue, I’m eagerly anticipating the official start of this series.

Presenting us with the origin of Peter Quill, the half-human, half-alien who will eventually become Star-Lord, the issue isn’t quite the action packed thrill ride that people will probably be expecting. However, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t an excellent book. On the contrary. This look into the character crafts a very interesting and tragic spin on Quill, and presents us with an intriguing mystery that will carry over into the series.  It seems like the character’s origin has been rebooted a little bit here (probably to tie in with the upcoming movie), but there’s a lot to enjoy.

Bendis displays his usual knack for dialogue with this issue, and his take on the relationship between Quill’s mother and father is very cool. In fact, I have to admit that I was surprised that this issue opened with these two characters. In many of the previews I read, it came of like it was the actual Peter Quill in the beginning, and not his father. In regards to Quill, Bendis does a fantastic job presenting us with who he is and what type of person he will eventually become, a feat that’s even more impressive when you realize that Quill is only ten years old in this book. There’s a great sense of the “hero’s journey” in this issue,  but at no time does it feel like we’ve seen this story before. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Star Wars, where we have a young hero being thrust into a larger conflict.

Steve McNiven, what can I say about your art that people don’t already know? Even though there’s not a lot of action for you to show off your skills with here, your work is still tops. The brief panels we get of Peter Quill’s mother and father enjoying their time together on Earth are phenomenal, and truly showcase just how good your  facial expressions and figure work can be. These dialogue free moments convey more than anything Bendis could’ve typed, and really make you connect with these two characters on an emotional level.  Of course, the final splash page drawn by McNiven teasing where our series will go (and who will be joining the Guardians) only makes the wait for next month that much harder.

Whether you read the previous run of Guardians Of The Galaxy or want to see what’s coming to theaters next summer, Guardians of the Galaxy #o.1 is a worthy purchase. Brian Michael Bendis has worked wonders for the X-Men universe recently, and all signs point to him doing the same with the Guardians. Grab this now, so you can say you knew about them  before everyone sees the movie.

 

Aquaman #17Aquaman_17_Full-665x1024

“Throne Of Atlantis” is over, and now Arthur Curry must take his rightful place as the King Of Atlantis, even if his people don’t want him. After the action heavy crossover with Justice League,  this issue serves as a breather to set up the new status quo for Aquaman, and it’s looking like we’re in for some pretty cool stuff in the near future.

While not in the issue, the relationship between Arthur and his brother Orm is the catalyst for everything that happens, so if you were thinking this would be a good jumping on point, it’s not. However, for those of you following the series since the beginning, you get even more of Aquaman being the badass we all knew he could be. Writer Geoff Johns continues his winning streak with the character, and the conflicts between himself and his people are already starting to show, even when they team up to stop some  whale hunters.

Paul Pelletier handles the art duties now that the great Ivan Reis has departed for Justice League, and thankfully his art is similar enough to Reis’ that it’s not too jarring of a change.  He draws Curry with a regal-ness that’s required for him not to be laughed at, and really sells home what could’ve been a goofy moment if handled otherwise (and should really be made into a poster). At this point I’d hope that comic readers have seen that Aquaman is one of DC’s best titles, and that there IS a lot of potential for this character, much of which is being realized now.

 

imagesThe Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1 (of 4)

Oh Rocketeer, it’s so good to have you back. IDW brings us the latest in their line of limited series starring Cliff Secord, The Rocketeer, and just like last year’s story by Mark Waid, this one holds up the legacy to the character beautifully. Probably more so than any other Rocketeer story that IDW has released, Hollywood Horror has a definite “all ages” vibe, and is the perfect book to give to a younger comic book fan who’s just seen the movie (it’s out on blu ray, and it holds up amazingly well).

Writers Roger Langridge and artist J Bone are weaving an interesting mystery around a missing scientist, and it pulls in the various members of Secord’s life.  Nearly every character is affected by this mystery in some way, and it’s really interesting to see how they all will fit into this story. If there’s any negative about the issue, it’s that Langridge’s narration can be a little too “old timey” at points, but at the same time, The Rocketeer takes place in Hollywood in the 30’s, so it does fit. For fans of Cliff Secord who want to insure that The Rocketeer stays around for another generation, pick up two issues and give one to a son/daughter or niece/nephew. They’ll be glad you did.

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Underrated Comic Book Movies

daredevilThe newest episode of the Laser Time podcast network’s “Cape Crisis” comic book podcast just made me feel really old. Their topic of discussion was the 2003 Ben Affleck starring Daredevil, which as of this past Valentine’s Day is a decade old. Instantly I started to reflect on where I was when that film came out. To give you an idea, I was currently in Driver’s Ed when I saw the film with my dad and brother. In fact, if memory serves, I probably drove them all to the movie so I could get the driving practice in. Not only did this make me feel incredibly old, but it also made me realize that after thinking about it, Daredevil isn’t really all that bad. Sure, there are some ridiculously cartoony moments (like the playground sparring match between Matt Murdock and Elektra), but I really like Michael Clark Duncan’s Kingpin and Colin Farrell’s Bullseye. Hell, to be completely honest, I don’t mind Affleck as Daredevil either.

 

Perhaps it’s because there’s been a huge amount of comic book movies since ol’ hornhead hit the silver screen that my feelings towards the film have changed. Daredevil was one of the first comic book movies, right on the heels of Singer’s first X-Men film and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. While it can be argued that it was the first one to fail with fans, I think it should also be noted that it’s not as bad as it’s perceived to be, especially when you compare it to the cinematic outings that came after it, like Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and *shudder* Jonah Hex. Yeah, it’s not great, and the soundtrack is pretty god awful, but there’s a lot of cool moments in the film, and for the first time it made me understand Daredevil’s powers.  Plus, I thought a lot of the fight scenes were well done and pretty, the exception being the aforemented goofy playground fight with matt Murdock and Elektra.

Mark Stephen Johnson’s film (which was his first and best film) easily sits with other underrated comic book movies like Constantine, The Rocketeer, and Spawn. Sure, a lot of these take liberties with the source material (Constantine especially), but these films really don’t deserve the hate that they get.  Setting up Elektra for her own (terrible) movie was probably it’s biggest offense, as it cuts out a really interesting subplot where Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson have to defend a man whom Murdock knows is guilty. Thankfully, this sequence was re-inserted into the director’s cut DVD, which is required viewing for haters of the film. If you watch that and can’t at least see that it’s an improvement over the theatrical cut, then the movie’s not for you.

Marvel recently got the film rights to Daredevil back from Fox, and it’s my hope that they can spin him into his own successful franchise, or even take him to the TV screen. If Arrow can be a monster hit, then there’s no reason why Daredevil can’t be. Half the shows on television are already law dramas, why not make one stand out and have the lawyer also fight crime? If not then, you could have Matt Murdock show up on S.H.I.E.L.D. as a character’s lawyer, or even in one of the cinematic outings. How awesome would it be to have Banner hulk out and be put on trial, and Murdock walks in as his defense lawyer? While I admit I’m new to the Daredevil bandwagon (I only just read the Bendis and Brubaker runs this year), he’s a character that deserves a bigger spotlight, and sure, a better movie. But give the old one a spin, and compare it to some of the terrible movies I mentioned earlier. Maybe you’ll see that you were a little too hard on it when you first saw it.

 

Comic Reviews: Nova, Justice League Of America, and Happy!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Nova_1_CoverNova #1

Nova returns to the spaceways thanks to Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, with a premiere issue that may surprise you. Turning back the clock to show us Sam Alexander before he appeared in last summer’s Avengers vs. X-Men, there’s not a whole lot of action coming Sam’s way in this issue. Instead, we get an insight into his everyday life: attending high school and staying late to perform his dad’s custodial duties so he doesn’t get fired. This is intercut with stories from his father, who was a member of the Nova corps. I was really surprised by this approach to the character, but I have to admit, I found it to be really charming.

Jeph Loeb, the writer behind classics like Batman: The Long Halloween and Spider-Man: Blue (as  well as some stinkers-Ultimatum, Wolverine: Evolution, and almost every other Marvel work he’s done) has really outdone himself with this issue, returning to the wonderful, emotionally charged stories that he used to be known for. Focusing on the relationship between Sam and his father leads to many interesting moments. Loeb has a great handle on Sam’s teenage view of the world, from his frustrations at school to his life at home. However, I would have liked to have the Nova segments expanded on, or some sort of tie to the Avengers vs. X-Men  crossover that introduced the Sam Alexander Nova. The story drops us into the action, with very little  exposition into what the Nova Corps are and the different delineations amongst them, so when Nova and his fellow corps members start talking about “gold heads” , it becomes really distracting for new readers.

Ed McGuinness will always be a favorite of mine, and this latest collaboration with Loeb only strengthens this. The two page splash of Nova and his teammates (and two other characters that I won’t spoil here) blasting away their enemies is incredible, and seeing his take on some of the more otherworldly Novas was really cool. McGuinness even does a great job in the Earth-bound moments of the book, something that can sometimes be a weakness for a man known for crazy in your face action.

Nova‘s first issue is surprisingly heartfelt and emotional, something that people might not be expecting when they pick up the book. While it may have been a little slow in parts, there’s a cool cliffhanger at the end, and it’s good to see Jeph Loeb writing a good comic again. While it’s only in it’s first issue, if Loeb can keep this up, we may have something closer to his great DC work than say, Hulk.

Justice League Of America #1JLA_1

Not content with having a Justice League that polices the world, America wants to have their own. Under the watchful eye of DC superstars Geoff Johns and David Finch, the United States government wants to have their own team of super humans to assist and, if necessary, defeat the Justice League. Spearheaded by Amanda Waller, this opening issue acts like more of a set up issue than the first issue of Justice League that launched the “new 52” back in 2011. We get quick snippets of each character as Waller goes over the roster with Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s ex who was last seen in the second Justice League story arc. While it’s certainly a cool concept, the members of the team leave much to be desired.  Johns goes to great lengths to introduce all of the these members, but there’s no really convincing argument  why they deserve to be on the team. Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and the new Green Lantern Simon Baz are all understandably good candidates, but characters like Vibe, Katana, and Catwoman just make this team seem like a weird grab bag. There’s a good aside about Waller’s “Suicide Squad” team, and in a way this book feels like a superior version of that series, albeit with the name “Justice League” on the cover instead.

RANT ALERT: David Finch….what happened buddy? There’s tons of awesome panels in here, but your page revealing Catwoman looks AWFUL. I understand that you’ve got a deadline, but man, she looks less like Catwoman and more like “Dingowoman”. Thankfully this is the only really glaring problem with Finch’s art here. By and large the rest of the character designs and action scenes look great under his pencils. But man, that Catwoman needs to be fixed by issue 2.

With a team like this, I have to say I needed more convincing for why they would be on a team designed to match up with the “regular” Justice League.  It’s a shame, because I really like he premise behind this book, and I’m intrigued by what’s coming up, but I just don’t like this line-up. I’m sure there are some people who’ll eat this up, but for me, I gotta say pass.

imagesHappy! #4 (of 4)

Oh hey Happy!  long time no see! Good to see you! What’s that? You gotta go? Oh okay then……

So yes, after a little bit of a delay, Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s gleefully violent Happy!  is done, and yes, it does feel like it was over a little too soon. Morrison brings Nick Sax’s tale to a close with copious amounts of blood, bullets, and cussin’, and while I was fulfilled with how everything pans out, I also wanted more. Sax’s interactions with Happy, the tiny blue horse imaginary friend of the girl he’s trying to rescue, continue to be the best thing about this miniseries, and Darick Robertson’s pencils are gruesomely awesome. The pacing of the story felt a little rushed at times, which may have been due to the delay in issues, but I”m surprised that this was only pitched as a four issue miniseries. If you missed out on this in floppy form, do yourself a favor and snag the trade next month. It’s well worth it.

Hunting Cryptids with Hoax Hunters co-creator Michael Morcei!

imagesA few weeks ago, Jetpack Comics hosted the creators of the Image comic Hoax Hunters, Michael Morcei and Steve Seeley. The book focuses on a group of Cyrptid hunters who host a reality show called Hoax Hunters. The catch is that even though the show they host is trying to disprove the existence of Bigfoot, The Jersy Devil, and others, they actually cover up their existence so humans don’t know what’s out there.  After the signing, I asked Michael Morcei if he’d be willing to answer some questions, and, well, what you see here is the result!

First, how did Hoax Hunters come to be?

 

We lost a bet.

That’s a joke. I think.

Anyway, Tim offered us a backup story in Hack/Slash. Steve and I tossed around a few ideas before we finally decided on Hoax Hunters, which was really kind of an amalgamation of many of the ideas. The lynchpin, the thing that really sold us on the idea, was the reality TV show angle. The idea to make it a TV show seemed like a perfect way to combine the best of both of our interests and keep it open for limitless possibilities. They weren’t just monster hunters, they weren’t a superhero team; they could go anywhere and face any foe, from urban legends to cryptids to UFOs.

 

So far, you’ve covered a lot of well-known cryptids, from Sasquatch-esque monsters to the Jersey Devil. How do you narrow down which ones you want to focus on? Do you and Steve find a creature that interests you then base a story around them, or vice versa?

That’s a good question. I think where we’re going with the story and what monster we utilize work in concert with one another, or at least that’s our ambition. The legend of the Haunchyville gnomes, the subject of this current arc, was something Steve and I never heard of. When we did, we knew we had to use it. And, luckily, it worked perfectly with what we’re ultimately trying to achieve in this story. It wasn’t easy making those pieces fit, but we got there, and I’m glad we did because it’s a strong final product. But, the forthcoming arc features Moth Man, and we’re building part of the story specifically around him. If you’re familiar with Moth Man, you know his history, that he’s a harbinger of forthcoming disaster. We knew that was an essential component to have as we wrap up the first season of Hoax Hunters (and I discuss this season format below).

What’s it like working for Image Comics? How much control do you have over your creation? 

Working at Image is a dream come true. They have an amazing, talented staff, and Eric Stephenson is guy who is out there fighting for every Image title, fighting for the survival of the industry, fighting for comics in general. We get complete creative control which enable to make our own successes and failures—the result has been a whole lot of learning, but in a satisfying way. Image lets creators be themselves, artistically, and that’s a hard commodity to come across in any entertainment industry.

 

What creators influenced you in the past?  Are there any characters or stories that have stuck with you?

There are so many, but off the top of my head: Brian K. Vaughn, Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, Mark Waid, Alex Toth…I can go on.
My influences…man, I’m all over the place. I range from Kurt Vonnegut to Kirby’s Fourth World to Breaking Bad to Raymond Chandler to the Fantastic Four. I’m a sponge for reading and absorbing, and there’s so much out there that I truly adore.

You’ve just been called by one of the big two publishers. They tell you can write any character. Who do you pick and why?

Great question! There are so many I’d love to write. Fantastic Four is my favorite, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near that book. Hickman set the bar so damn high—he basically told the FF story, the epic, amazing FF story that I’d pined for year after year. How do you follow that?

Given the choice, and complete freedom, I’d go with Mister Miracle. I think there are so many amazing stories waiting to be told with that character, in that universe. The whole idea of being an escape artists, someone bred for destruction who relies on deception and constantly putting his life at risk. There’s so much you can do there. And that’ the great challenge, for me: Taking a underutilized character and making him or her essential. Like Brubaker and Fraction’s Iron Fist, or Fraction’s Hawkeye. Just strip them down to their essentials and put them in a contemporary context. What a blast that would be.

 

 What can we expect with future issues of Hoax Hunters?

A steady decline in quality, mainly. Then you’ll ultimately read about Steve and I turning to a life of petty crime.

Kidding (I hope). Right now, I’m putting all my focus into gearing up for writing the final arc of the first season. Since it’s a comic that incorporates a TV show, we found it convenient to compartmentalize things in seasons. It’s also a nice way for us to kind of reset things with the second season. Not a reboot or anything, but a way to start fresh by taking what’s happened and putting it on a new trajectory. Same as any TV show does. The new season of Homeland took what happened in the first put placed things in a new context. I like that as a storytelling tool.

So expect an epic final arc, starting in issue 10 and ending in issue 13. Questions will be answered and the overall mystery will become a little more clear. But, where we leave the characters will be in a place where they realize they’re in way over their heads—stay tuned to find out why.

 

 The first Hoax Hunters volume is available now at your local shop, or online. New issues hit every month.

Comic Reviews: Batman, and Uncanny X-Men!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

bm_cv17_02Batman #17

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo wrap up the “Death Of The Family” story arc with Batman #17, an issue that is sure to be the topic of discussion for many who’ve bought the numerous tie-ins surrounding the return of The Joker. Don’t worry, this will be free of spoilers, but I will tell you this: expect the unexpected. I’ll admit that I was not prepared for what Snyder and Capullo present to us, but  when looking at the larger theme behind this event, I really like the conclusion, and what does transpire is a huge, game-changing event.

Presenting an even narrower focus on the Joker and Batman’s relationship, this one brings everything full circle. There’s plenty of satisfying moments here, including one of the best battles between Batman and Mr. J that I’ve seen in a long time. Scott Snyder once again displays his amazing talent for giving us numerous humanizing moments, while also not shying away from how chilling the Joker can really be. In fact, numerous times  I was surprised by what was shown in the comic, and I had to check the cover to see if there were any warnings about the gruesome imagery displayed inside.

But what beautiful gruesome imagery it is! I know I’ve proclaimed how amazing Greg Capullo is before, and I may have even said that the last issue was his best work yet, but I take it back. THIS is his best issue yet. The Joker in his hands is even more horrifying than before, as Capullo shows us the decay on his “face”, and the difficulty that Joker has keeping it on. There were moments where it felt like grime in Joker’s hideout was going to leak off the page and onto my fingers.

Once again, Batman proves to not only be the best the of DC’s titles, but of the big two publishers as well. It’s been so consistently good that I had a hard time writing a review for it this time around. What could I have said that I hadn’t already? After covering every issue of this storyline in these reviews, I’ve decided that it’s time to give this title a rest. Batman is an amazing comic, and if you don’t know it by now, then you haven’t read my reviews of the books or aren’t into it. And that’s okay. But seriously, it’s awesome, and the conclusion here not only wraps up Joker’s attack on Batman, but it opens many new potential stories that I hope Snyder and Capullo will deliver.

Uncanny X-Men #1images

Cyclops’ team of X-Men get the spotlight in the first #1 issue of Uncanny X-Men since 1963 2011.  Framed around a mysterious person meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill regarding Cyclops, the Brian Michael Bendis scripted issue is an easily accessible first issue that thankfully doesn’t require you to have read All-New X-Men  or any other “X” title previous (with the exception of Avengers vs. X-Men of course).

I was skeptical of Bendis heading into the X-Men universe at first. After a long stint on Avengers, I wasn’t entirely sure how well he’d do with Marvel’s merry mutants. well, consider my doubts officially destroyed, because Bendis absolutely kills it in this issue. From the excellent dialogue between Hill and the mysterious traitor, to Cyclops’ team battling a new batch of sentinels, there’s no shortage of excellent moments here. Bendis’ depiction of Scott Summers, the self-proclaimed “face of the new mutant revolution” is incredibly compelling, painting the picture of a man who is trying to be the savior of his people while also hiding the devastating secret that he’s not as in control of his power as he lets on. And I love Bendis’ Magneto, who has some of the best lines of the book.

Chris Bachalo handles the art duties here, and anyone who’s seen his work before on titles like Wolverine & The X-Men knows that his art can sometimes become too exaggerated. There’s definitely some of that here, like when Cyclops and his team arrive to a new mutant, but by and large it suits the story well. I actually think his figure work looks better when we see characters out of costume, but there were moments that looked really cool, like Cyclops taking out the army of sentinels.

While yes, there’s yet ANOTHER $4 comic being released every two weeks by Marvel, this shouldn’t deter you from the book. Bendis’ cliffhanger ending is excellent, and has me very intrigued by what’s to come in this series. Perhaps it’s time for me to start figuring out which titles to drop so I can add this……..

 

What’s In The Box?

jokertray1WARNING: Potential spoilers for “Death Of the Family”! DO NOT READ if you haven’t read Batman #16!


Joker’s got something up his sleeve. Or more accurately, under his serving tray. Teased at the endings of the most recent issues of Batman, Batman & Robin, and Batgirl, all we know about Mr. J’s prepared dish is that it’s bloody, and causes a visceral reaction from Riddler, Penguin, and Two-Face. So, to quote Brad Pitt in Se7en, “What’s in the box?”

Many people coming into Jetpack and online alike seem to have come to the logical conclusion that it’s Alfred, or some piece of him. It’s already been established that Joker has not only attacked the faithful Wayne butler, but also has him held captive (and presumably blinded). While this is a fair assumption, if there’s one thing that can poke a hole in that theory, it’s this: The Joker is extremely unpredictable, and Alfred’s head (or other appendage) being the big surprise at the end of this plan would be exactly what would be expected of him. That, and the fact that Two-Face, Penguin, and Riddler don’t know who Alfred is and why he’s so important to the bat-family. Sure, one could argue that the act of brutality on Joker’s part would be enough to justify their reactions, but it read to me like they actually knew who (or what) was under the tray.

Keeping with the Alfred theory, killing Pennyworth wouldn’t really justify Joker’s plan to destroy the “family”. Alfred is, arguably, the heartbeat of Bruce Wayne’s life, and is a major player in every member of Batman’s allies. Killing him would only unify the “bat-family” in their grief, and compel them to team together to take on Joker. Killing Alfred wouldn’t destroy the relationship between Batman and his protégés, it would make it stronger.

So, if it’s not Pennyworth, who is it? I’m starting to lean more with Rich’s theory that it’s Commissioner Gordon. As much as it pains me to say it, Gordon is well known enough to illicit the reaction from Penguin and co., and would deal a pretty big blow to the Bat-family, especially Batgirl. But again, one can argue that Gordon’s death would also inspire the family to work together and defeat the Joker, and not cause an irreparable rift between them.  So, while it could be Gordon, it may not either.

For my money, I’m placing my bets on the character that I had an inkling wouldn’t be around after this storyline from the start: Tim Drake, Red Robin. Yes, he’s got a huge fan following, but think about it. Red Robin is the only member of the Batman family that doesn’t have his own monthly title. Nightwing has one, Batgirl has one, and Damien arguably has two (Batman & Robin and Batman, Inc.). Even Jason Todd has his own book. That leaves Tim Drake, who stars alongside other sidekicks in Teen Titans, a book that could conceivably continue on without Red Robin (and may give that series the shot in the arm it desperately needs). Tim being the reveal would not only be unexpected, but could also cause Batman to push his friends away again (much like what happened the last time a Robin died).

Of course, this could end up being me being proved wrong again, which I hope is the case. One of the Scott Snyder’s strengths as a writer is his ability to completely surprise me with his superhero writing, and his confidence in trying out new ideas (and DC’s seeming willingness to let him mess around with their top character). Regardless of who ends up under Joker’s tray, we can all agree that will cap off one of the best Batman stories in a very long time.


2831939-joker_death_of_family_tray_super

Comic Reviews: The End of “Rotworld”, and Green Arrow!

Comic Reviews!!!!

imagesAnimal Man # 17 and Swamp Thing #17

This is it. The end of Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire’s epic, “Rotworld”. After unspooling in the past months in the pages of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., the fight to save the planet from The Rot and rescue Swampy’s love Abigail and Buddy Baker’s daughter Maxine ends here. Taking place across both issue 17’s of Animal Man  and Swamp Thing, writers Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder give us a finale that is extremely unexpected, and may not entirely sit well with some.

the attack on Anton Arcane’s stronghold starts off in Animal Man, as Buddy Baker and his rag tag crew fight off hordes of Rot infected heroes. This battle is an absolute blast, with a lot of unexpected deaths and surprises. Seeing a rot-infected Flash lay waste to all in his path was very cool, and Frankenstein’s battle with Wonder Woman was another fun surprise. At the same time, Swamp Thing and his band of merry men arrive on the opposite side of the tower, and it isn’t until well into the battle that the two heroes meet up with one another, something that hasn’t happened since the beginning of “Rotworld” , way back in issue #11 of both series. While it is fun seeing these two characters finally meet up, I did think the chance meeting of the two of them being in the same place at the same time was a tad bit too coincidental. Regardless, these are still two hugely entertaining issues. There’s an extremely awesome moment in Animal Man revolving around Frankenstein, but I’ll leave that for you to discover in the pages.

While Animal Man focuses on the battle, Swamp Thing focuses on the final push to save the world from the Rot. Picking up immediately after Animal Man‘s jaw dropping finale, Baker and Swamp Thing must both push through horrific tragedy to help our world. Of the two, I really really felt for Baker more. That’s not to say that Swamp Thing’s loss is less of one than Baker’s, but for some reason I really feel for a guy who was fighting for his family than just his girlfriend. However, the two successfully complete their plan, even if Arcane gets away in the end. I’m still not completely sold on the ending here, as it feels like this isn’t the “real” ending (and according to the solicits for issue 18 of both series, I think I’m right).

Timothy Green II and Steve Pugh handle the art duties on Animal Man, while Swamp Thing newcomer Andrew Belanger handles the art duties in Green Jeans’ book. All three are excellent. Pugh and Green really sell home the horrific creatures that the heroes o the DC universe have turned into thanks to the Rot, and once again insure that they’ll haunt my dreams. Belanger’s pencil work is a little more cartoony than I’m used to on Swamp Thing, but I really enjoyed his work here. Here’s hoping he gets some more Swampy work in the future.

So “The Rot” is over, and while it didn’t end quite the way I thought it would, I still had a blast reading it. Easily two of DC’s best books, Animal Man and Swamp Thing really shined during this crossover. In fact, I hope the big two follow Snyder and Lemire’s model for upcoming events. Lord knows it’s easier (and cheaper) to follow 2-3 books in a crossover than 15. So long “Rotworld”, I’ll miss you.

 

Green Arrow #17images (1)

Now this is what I’m talking about. Oliver Queen has long been a character that I’ve wanted to get into, but aside from Kevin Smith’s run on the character, I just couldn’t.  With the New 52 initiative, I tried once again to give the Emerald Archer a shot, and what I found was one of the worst books in the DC staple. As an unapologetic fan of Arrow, CW’s salmon-ladder sponsored super-soap, my interest in the  Green Arrow comic was rekindled. Lucky for me, Animal Man scribe Jeff Lemire has started writing the book with I, Vampire artist Andrea Sorrentino with this very issue. It’s like DC planned this or something.

I should mention right away that Lemire doesn’t try to fit the new 52 Oliver Queen into the same mold as the one appearing shirtless on TV every week. Instead, he goes down the well-tread ground of “destroying the hero in order to build him back up”, something which seems to happen to Daredevil every week.  However, here it works fairly well, even if it doesn’t affect me nearly as much as if I read Green Arrow since issue 1.  Lemire gives us a quick look into who Oliver Queen is, what his faults are as a hero, and then kicks the action into high gear, all the while introducing us to a new foe who has some mysterious ties to Oliver’s past.

Andrea Sorrentino, already a favorite of mine from I, Vampire, kills it in this book. His art has a ton of atmosphere and moodiness to it, and while I didn’t think it would fit with a character like Green Arrow, I’m gladly eating my words now. Holy crap is this good. Fans of  Arrow, snag this bad boy up if you can. Fans of Oliver Queen who dropped the book after his “New 52” debut? Breathe easy, as all signs point the Star City protector being in good hands. This is sure to be the start of something really cool, and I’m very intrigued to see where this goes. The only thing it’s missing?

Salmon ladder workouts.

How Many Villains Is Too Many?

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So Paul Giamatti is playing The Rhino in Amazing Spider-Man 2.  That’s fine by me, as they’re probably going to have him play the ultimate version of the character. I don’t care that Rhino is in it. I care about the amount of villains that are going to be in the movie. At this count, we’ve now got 2 villains in the upcoming Marc Webb helmed sequel, and going by the rule of past Spider-Man films, we’re dangerously close to Spidey 3 territory. Now I don’t want to dredge up bad thoughts of sequels past, but we all remember where we were when we saw that movie, and the fallout that occurred after it. But it leads me to wonder: why has the addition of villains become the norm for superhero films?

Going as far back as Superman 2, it seems like nearly every superhero franchise sees their dastardly leads grow exponentionally with each film. Let’s take a look at the original series of Batman films. Starting with 89’s Keaton original, we had The Joker. The follow-up, Batman Returns, featured Catwoman and the Penguin, and the third film had The Riddler and Two-Face (three if you count director Joel Schumacher). This all lead up to the granddaddy of all terrible superhero films: Batman & Robin, a film that was already overstuffed without having 3 villains: Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and Bane (four villains if you, again, count Schumacher).  Like Spider-Man 3, we all know how the finished product ended up, and we can point to a multitude of reasons why the film ended up being the steaming pile that it was.

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Adding villains to the stack of your sequel is a recipe for disaster. The more characters you add to your plate, the more you have to set up. In a 2 hour or so movie, that makes it even harder to set up your villain, have them meet your hero, and then set up the conflict. With more than one villain, your storytelling just gets compacted upon itself.  Some directors were able to accomplish the more than one villain movie than others. Take Christopher Nolan, for example. Yes, it can be argued that Two-Face was under-used in The Dark Knight, but that film never had him and the Joker meet up and decide to work together to kill Batman.

Yes, more villains equals more action figures and t-shirts for studios to sell, but it really bothers me that more and more super herofilms keep adding villains to their films. I think we can all agree that we’d like for studios and directors to focus on the story first, but I we can also agree that that’s not the studios first priority. They want to maximize their profits as quickly as they can, and that means throwing as many characters into a movie as possible.

Now obviously it’s too soon to start waving the “it’s gonna suck” flag at Amazing Spider-Man 2, but as a fan of the reboot (and one of the only ones apparently), I’m really protective of every piece of news I hear about the new film. While the first movie had it’s fair share of problems, I truly believe that Andrew Garfield’s next go in the costume could be, well, amazing, provided that Sony doesn’t eff it up. And give their track record, when I start to hear about more villains and characters being added to the mix, I tend to get leery. I was burned once already with Spider-Man 3. I hope Sony remembers that and has learned from their past mistakes.