Monthly Archives: April 2013

The End Of Iron Man?

iron-man-3While doing press for Iron Man 3, Gwyneth Paltrow let slip that she believes the latest solo adventure of Tony Stark will be his last. Now, this should be taken with a MASSIVE grain of salt, as it can’t be completely true.

Or can it?

With the success of The Avengers, could it be possible that movie fans will tire of seeing the individual members on their own and only want to see them with their team members? It’s possible, but by doing this we’d miss out on a lot of character work that the solo films have room for. I highly doubt that Avengers 2 would have enough time to catch us up on Thor and his Asgardian brothers, Tony Stark and Pepper Pots, and Captain America and his confrontation with the Winter Solidier (not to mention introducing new teammates). It’s not feasible that Disney and Marvel Studios would allow a sure fire hit like the Iron Man franchise end.

But what if it did? What if the next time we see Tony won’t be until the next Avengers film? From the financial standpoint of locking in Robert Downey, Jr. I wouldn’t be surprised if Iron Man 3 is the last solo Iron Man film. RDJ’s contract is up with this movie, and I’d be stunned if he doesn’t hold out for more cash to keep appearing as Tony, even though he keeps saying how much fun he has playing the character.

Downey wouldn’t be the only one whose contract may be up either. Keep in mind that Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner are all under contract for a set amount of films, and many of them (Johansson and Renner excluded) are key members of the super team, and finding actors to fill their shoes may be more difficult than shelling out the cash to keep them on board.

So if Paltrow is right, let’s hope Tony goes out with a bang. There’s a ton of Marvel characters that deserve their spot in the limelight, and sequelizing every character means that there’s one more Marvel hero who has to wait until they see their name on the marquee. Maybe letting Tony rest and only seeing him in the Avengers for a little while wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

 

Comic Reviews: Jupiter’s Legacy and Avengers!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

imagesJupiter’s Legacy #1

Mark Millar and Frank Quitely bring us the first part of the “Greatest Superhero Epic of All Time” this week, and I have to say, that statement does ring true so far. Of course, this is only the first issue, but there’s enough teased here to definitely ensure my return to this world, and the issue gives us a first-hand example of why Mark Millar and Frank Quitely are some of the best in the business.

Focusing on the Utopian and his fellow heroes’ children, Jupiter’s Legacy yet again has the “heroes in the real world” premise, but the twist is that they are in our current world of 2013. These children let their aging parents handle the superheroing, while they do more important things like make endorsement deals and hang out at clubs. Not understanding the importance of helping others, we get some really great characterizations of not only the children of the heroes, but of the Utopian and his brother as well. After taking out a villain, the heroes can’t believe that their children couldn’t be bothered to help out, and it’s interesting to see how some of them either understand their children’s stance on sitting out or can’t understand why they aren’t more like they are.

Mark Millar has crafted some very interesting characters and plot here, and gives us just enough of an origin of the Utopian that we’re curious to see how it plays out in future issues. So far all we know is that it has to do with a mysterious island. This Fantastic Four meets Lost premise is very cool, and tying it into the Great Depression is an inspired choice. Millar’s depiction of the general indifference the children have towards superheroes and helping humanity is really spot on for how a lot of high school and early college age kids behave, and I’m really interested in seeing how the simmering tensions between Utopian and his brother (Utopian thinks they should stay out of politics, while his brother thinks they should take over) will play out in upcoming issues.

As for the art, Frank Quitely, as always, hits it out of the park. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen his work (probably since Batman & Robin)  and his art is stunning here. The character designs are powerful and striking, and he’s absolutely at the top of his game in this issue. Jupiter’s Legacy will go down as one of his crowning achievements in the world of comic book art.

Fans of both Millar and Quitely will find plenty to love here, and those of us who read books from the “big two” will also find a lot to like as well. There’s a lot teased in this issue that will hopefully lead to an amazing comic, so get in on Jupiter’s Legacy now before the eventual movie adaptation comes.

 

Avengers #102945415-avengers_10_cover

It seems like I’m in the minority, but I’ve really enjoyed Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers, and this issue is no exception. The Avengers are called in to examine what happened to Omega Flight, the Canadian super team that went missing after the events of Ex Nihlo’s attack on Earth in the opening issues of the series. This one and done issue has a great central mystery that is actually resolved at the end of the issue, but it also leads to some interesting developments for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Hickman gives us a smaller roster than usual, but this allows him to have some great moments amongst the team members. Long time allies Captain American and The Falcon have such a great interplay in this issue that I really hope Hickman gets the chance to team those two up again. Mike Deodato handles the art duties, and his art fits into the art style we’ve come to known in the past on this series. This issue of Avengers can be picked up on it’s own, but fans who’ve been following the series from the first issue will probably get more out of it.

 

2013 Summer Movie Preview!

Summer is just around that corner, and with that comes one of the best times of the year. No, not going to the beach: summer movies! Specifically summer movies based on comic books, the greatest thing on God’s green Earth. This year sees the return of Tony Stark (without his Avengers buddies), Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, and of course, ol’ Canucklehead, Wolverine. It’s not all sequels though, as we’ll also be seeing Pacific Rim from director Guillermo Del Toro, and R.I.P.D. with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. In fact, just looking at the number of releases this year is daunting. With this many movies to choose from, how can one pick? Well, I’m here to help. So without further ado I present to you the films I’m most looking forward to this summer!

 

imagesIron Man 3 (May 3)

Fresh of his stint in The Avengers, Tony Stark returns to the skies, except this time against the Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley), who looks to be a formidable enemy and a nice change of pace from the previous techno-villains (even if he doesn’t have his power rings).  This is the official start of “Phase two” of the Marvel cinematic universe, and I can’t wait to see how the events in Avengers will shape the next films to come. While I did find it strange that Stark refuses to call in his teammates to help him against Mandarin, the recent TV spots have played up Tony’s desire for revenge against his new enemy, and it is keeping in line with his characterization.  After the less than great Iron Man 2, it looks like Marvel has learned a few things when it comes to Tony’s solo adventures, and I can’t think of a better way to start the summer.

 

 

 

Pacific Rim (July 12)MV5BMTkzMDg2MTU5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODA2NDAxOA@@._V1_SX214_

Giant monsters vs. giant robots. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. What else do you need to know?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

images (1)Elysium (August 9)

Director Neil Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9, Elysium is another futuristic sci-fi tale, except with an “occupy Wall Street” bent. With the upper class living in a ring around the planet, the rest of the world is stuck living on Earth. When Matt Damon is sent on a mission that requires him to go to the titular ring, he embarks on a mission that could reshape the divide on Earth. I’m a huge fan of District 9, and have been waiting to hear about Blomkamp’s follow up since the film was nominated for an Oscar. All signs point to this movie being another hit for a director who could become one of the next big things.

 

 

 

 

The Wolverine (July 26)images

Finally adapting everyone’s favorite Wolverine story (well, everyone except Ralph), the follow up to 2009’s abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine will hopefully redeem the character after his CGI cash grab. Taking place after X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan travels to Japan, where he meets a man he once saved back in World War 2. Hugh Jackman is back as Logan, and somehow he looks even more insanely ripped than before. The trailer already looks a hundred times better than Wolverine’s last solo movie, and the prospect of him taking on an army of ninjas guarantees that the theater will be getting my money.

 

 

 

 

 

images (1)Kick-Ass 2 (August 16)

Dave Lizewski is back in the green jumpsuit and ready to take a bite out of crime. Since the events of the last movie, Kick-Ass has sparked a superhero movement, inspiring dozens of ordinary citizens to dress up and fight crime. As one group, lead by Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes, attempts to convince Kick-Ass and Hit Girl to join them, Red Mist is secretly plotting his revenge for his father’s death in the last movie. I was skeptical of the sequel to the first film, especially when original director Matthew Vaughn left, but after seeing the trailer I’m definitely seeing it. The film looks to have kept the same tone as the original, and Jim Carrey looks hilarious. Hopefully we get enough interest for the third entry, which hits comic stores this May.

 

 

 

 

 

This Is The End (June 12)images (2)

I’m calling it right now: This is The End will be the funniest movie this summer. Centering around the likes of Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Danny McBride, who are all playing versions of themselves, this film looks to see what happens if Hollywood was the center of the Apocalypse.  The first trailer is hilarious, and early buzz on the film is extremely positive. Hopefully we’re not let down by it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

images (3)Man Of Steel (June 14)

This right here, is my must see of the summer. There’s a lot riding on Man Of Steel, although I’m sure the cast and crew wasn’t aware that their film’s success would ultimately decide the fate of the cinematic DC universe while they were filming it. While I’ve never been able to follow Superman in the monthly comics for longer than 4 issues, I’ve always liked the character and his origin story. Everything new piece of footage I see has been better than the last, and despite all the “Deadliest Catch” jokes, I found the original teaser released last year to be extremely moving  (especially the Russell Crowe voice over). With a phenomenal cast that includes Michael Shannon as General Zod, Henry Cavill as Superman, and Kevin Costner and Diane Liane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, Man of Steel has a lot going for it, and I for one am excited for a Superman movie (which surprises me, to be honest).

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)star-trek-into-darkness-teaser-poster1-610x9031

There’s a ton of secrecy behind Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to the phenomenal 2009 reboot of Star Trek. J.J. Abrams is back in the director’s chair, and perhaps for the last time (he’s taking over a little-known franchise called Star Wars). So far all we know is that Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the Enterprise crew are going up against John Harrison, played by the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch.  Even with three trailers, no one knows who Benny Batch is actually playing, and numerous sites are still believing that he’ll end up being Kahn. Abrams’ isn’t telling anyone, so we’ll have to wait until May 17 to find out!

Comic Reviews: Daredevil and Masters Of The Universe!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

imagesDaredevil #25

Matt Murdock finally confronts the man behind the new radar powered criminals in this month’s Daredevil #25, which is another dynamite issue from writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee. Face to face with new villain Ikari, Matt Murdock engages in one of the most vicious fights he’s had in the series, and barely walks away from it in one piece. Wrapping up the mystery of the rash of criminals that have the same abilities as Daredevil, this issue is one of the best of Waid and Samnee’s run, and solidifies why  Daredevil is one of my top comics currently published.

Mark Waid can seriously do no wrong. Between this and Indestructible Hulk, I wonder if the man made a pact with the devil to be able to hit it out of the park month in and month out. He paints a Matt Murdock who is both confident in his abilities, but also quick to anger, like when he first encounters Ikari, who is wearing one of Murdock’s father’s old boxing robes. The action comes fast and heavy, and the way Waid describes both participants’ injuries makes you wonder how either one can possibly still be awake, let alone able to put up a fight.  The shocking development that occurs just when you think Daredevil has the upper hand took me completely by surprise, and it’s safe to say that Daredevil certainly has his work cut out for him if he’s going to take on Ikari and his employer.

Chris Samnee, fresh off his Eisner nomination (for this series no less), is amazing this issue. Those who think that his cartoony style can’t depict a violent fight scene need to check this issue out, as there were moments in DD and Ikari’s fight that had me wincing. Samnee perfectly captures the desperation on Murdock’s face towards the end of the issue, and leaves the hero broken, battered, and bruised.

Daredevil #25 is a fantastic issue, and perfectly highlights why this book is so beloved. We all know that the best Daredevil stories have taken Murdock rock bottom and had him fight his way back, and Waid and Samnee look to be bringing us another DD tale to stand alongside those.

 

He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe #1HE-MAN_MOTU_Cv1-asmxfrt72r

Following the surprisingly awesome six issue limited series, DC now brings us a Masters of the Universe ongoing. Taking place exactly where the conclusion of the mini left us, Eternia is enjoying a moment of rare peace. The city is free from Skeletor’s reality altering spell and looking to commemorate the lives that they lost, namely the Sorceress. However, that peace is soon shattered when Despera, the evil lord Hordak’s right-hand woman, arrives with her army to enslave the kingdom. He-Man charges into action with Teela, and after a quick battle with Despera, her helmet is removed, revealing a very surprising person underneath.

I really wanted to love this first issue, but after reading it I just feel okay about it. I loved the miniseries that came before it, but something just feels “off” about this opening issue. It’s a shame, cause I really enjoyed the banter that writer Keith Giffen inserted into Prince Adam and Teela’s relationship, and artist Pop Mhan’s look for Hordak is awesome, but I felt the reveal at the end of the issue fell flat with me, and I don’t feel very inclined to pick up the next issue. Perhaps the problem lies with the fact that many famous MOTU villains are nowhere to be found (I do love me some Skeletor), or that not a whole lot really happens in this issue. I’ll definitely pick up the second issue, but I hope it does more to convince me to add this to my pull than this issue did.

Adamantium Bullets and You

MV5BMTI2MTgyNjExM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU4MjkyMg@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_With the trailer for the The Wolverine being released recently, my excitement slowly builds for the film. Now, I don’t hide my disdain for X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the slightest. I think it’s a cash grab film of the highest order, something churned out by Fox to make money during the writer’s strike. Even Hugh Jackman agrees with me. But now, in light of the release of the sequel’s trailer, I’m going to do something I never thought I could: I’m going to find some positive things about X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Now, the plot is a complete mess, so that’s out. But there are some good performances in it, namely from Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber, who’s extremely underrated as Victor Creed/Sabretooth, a character who doesn’t even go by his mutant name in this film if memory serves.  When you look at these two, it’s clear that they were giving their all, and it makes me even more angry that the movie wasn’t better to accommodate these performances. Schrieber looks like he’s having a lot of fun in the role, and I hope he gets another shot at playing Creed in the near future (maybe even as a cameo this summer). As for Jackman, what else is there to say about him that can’t already be said? At this point, he can play the part in his sleep, and he clearly did his best with what he was given (not to mention getting into insane shape to play the character), but unfortunately, even great performances couldn’t save this movie.

The use of Deadpool in the movie is a well-worn topic that doesn’t even need to be brought up again, other than to say this: Ryan Reynolds was perfect in the first ten minutes, then disappeared into some Mortal Kombat  Baraka reject. So instead let’s talk about how the most interesting part of Origins lasted a whopping 7 minutes: Wolverine and the mutant task force known as “Team X”. Just imagine an entire movie (or a half hour) of “Team X” ransacking places and running black ops missions for Stryker. Not only would it have guaranteed more action, but it would’ve   sold Wolverine’s motivations for leaving the team a lot better than a quick montage and showing us one mission.

The same can be said for the moment Logan gets his adamantium. In the comics, it’s always been implied that Logan was abducted for the experiment, whereas in the movie he signs up for it. Regardless of the fact that we’d already seen glimpses of this in X-Men 2, it kind of rings false that Logan would sign up for the procedure. Yes, it’s still tragic that he finds out he’s duped into the whole thing by the end of the movie (oh, spoilers I guess), but I prefer the comic method, as it sells home the fear that humans have against mutants, and their views of them as different from the rest of them.

I won’t even mention the adamantium bullet that causes his amnesia, mainly because I will go into a berserker rage myself and chuck this keyboard across the room.

There were a lot of things that factored into X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s suckitude. It was in production during the writer’s strike, there was an unproven indie director at the helm, it was leaked a month before release, and was made to make money so Fox could keep their franchise train rolling. But I have faith that the crew behind The Wolverine learned their lesson, and the few glimpses we’ve been shown in the trailer already look better than what was in Origins. And maybe I have been too hard on Origins in recent years.
Nope, just remembered the adamantium bullet.  Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

 

With the trailer for the The Wolverine being released recently, my excitement slowly builds for the film. Now, I don’t hide my disdain for X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the slightest. I think it’s a cash grab film of the highest order, something churned out by Fox to make money during the writer’s strike. Even Hugh Jackman agrees with me. But now, in light of the release of the sequel’s trailer, I’m going to do something I never thought I could: I’m going to find some positive things about X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Now, the plot is a complete mess, so that’s out. But there are some good performances in it, namely from Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber, who’s extremely underrated as Victor Creed/Sabretooth, a character who doesn’t even go by his mutant name in this film if memory serves.  When you look at these two, it’s clear that they were giving their all, and it makes me even more angry that the movie wasn’t better to accommodate these performances. Schrieber looks like he’s having a lot of fun in the role, and I hope he gets another shot at playing Creed in the near future (maybe even as a cameo this summer). As for Jackman, what else is there to say about him that can’t already be said? At this point, he can play the part in his sleep, and he clearly did his best with what he was given (not to mention getting into insane shape to play the character), but unfortunately, even great performances couldn’t save this movie.

The use of Deadpool in the movie is a well-worn topic that doesn’t even need to be brought up again, other than to say this: Ryan Reynolds was perfect in the first ten minutes, then disappeared into some Mortal Kombat  Baraka reject. So instead let’s talk about how the most interesting part of Origins lasted a whopping 7 minutes: Wolverine and the mutant task force known as “Team X”. Just imagine an entire movie (or a half hour) of “Team X” ransacking places and running black ops missions for Stryker. Not only would it have guaranteed more action, but it would’ve   sold Wolverine’s motivations for leaving the team a lot better than a quick montage and showing us one mission.

The same can be said for the moment Logan gets his adamantium. In the comics, it’s always been implied that Logan was abducted for the experiment, whereas in the movie he signs up for it. Regardless of the fact that we’d already seen glimpses of this in X-Men 2, it kind of rings false that Logan would sign up for the procedure. Yes, it’s still tragic that he finds out he’s duped into the whole thing by the end of the movie (oh, spoilers I guess), but I prefer the comic method, as it sells home the fear that humans have against mutants, and their views of them as different from the rest of them.

I won’t even mention the adamantium bullet that causes his amnesia, mainly because I will go into a berserker rage myself and chuck this keyboard across the room.

There were a lot of things that factored into X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s suckitude. It was in production during the writer’s strike, there was an unproven indie director at the helm, it was leaked a month before release, and was made to make money so Fox could keep their franchise train rolling. But I have faith that the crew behind The Wolverine learned their lesson, and the few glimpses we’ve been shown in the trailer already look better than what was in Origins. And maybe I have been too hard on Origins in recent years.

Nope, just remembered the adamantium bullet.  Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

 

Comic Reviews: Batgirl and Secret Service!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

BG_Cv19-r2dqvtxr3vBatgirl #19

Gail Simone returns to Batgirl this month, and just in time, as Babara Gordon finally has her showdown with her homicidal younger brother, James Jr. Resolving a plot line that has been going on since before the New 52 relaunch, issue 19 puts a thrilling cap on this storyline while also teasing some interesting things to come. The issue doesn’t exactly play out like the gatefold cover suggests, but I was very surprised by some of the events that happen in the book .

While Ray Fawkes did a fine job filling in on the previous two issues, it’s clear that Simone’s voice was definitely needed for this issue. No writer has gotten into the head of Barbara Gordon like Simone has, and I sincerely hope she stays on the book for a very long time. Babs is both strong but also vulnerable, a fact highlighted here in her confrontation with her brother. There’s also some great interaction between Barbara and her roommate, which breaks some new ground in the comics industry.

Daniel Sampere is our artist this month, and while I do miss the work of Ardian Syaf, Sampere does an excellent job. His art matches up with Simone’s characterization, and he draws a very creepy James, Jr., a character that is interesting because he doesn’t have superpowers. There were times where I mistook Barbara for her mother though, but this is something that has become routine for many artists on the book.

Batgirl #19 marks the end (for now) of the James, Jr. story, and I’ll really miss the character.The fact that he’s the black sheep of the Gordon family is enough of a hook to make him intriguing, and he’s actually become one of my favorite new additions to the Bat rogues gallery. The cliffhanger at the end of the this issue is excellent, and looks to provide us with a very interesting new status quo for the foreseeable future. Batgirl is still a criminally underrated book in the DC stable, and more people need to check it out.

 

Secret Service #6 (of 6)images

Oh hey Secret Service, almost forgot about you! In what’s quickly becoming the unfortunate norm with the Millarworld books, the final issue of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ Secret Service has finally hit shelves, months after it was supposed to. However, to make it up to us we get a double sized finale that satisfyingly ends the story of Gary, the newest James Bond-esque member of the British Secret Service.

Millar’s clearly having a ball this issue playing with the common Bond tropes, from the villain hideout being a hollowed out Mt. Everest to the laser pen knife, and because of this, the book breezes by at a fast pace. Usually I might be upset with a book moving this quickly, but I found it to be so much fun that I didn’t mind at all. Dave Gibbons’ art is phenomenal, and he’s one of the few artists from the 80s’ who’s art hasn’t taken a complete nosedive when he entered the “modern” age of comics. Secret Service may have taken it’s sweet time getting here, but at least the wait was well worth it. Now I just have to sit and wait for the sequel.

Or the movie.

TV Review: The Walking Dead Season 3!

The-Walking-Dead-Season-3-1SPOILER CITY

An almost inverse of last season, the third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead started off extremely strong, but ended on an anticlimactic note. Sure, this season has been the best yet, but at the same time, there were many frustrating moments and missed opportunities for characters (I’m looking at you Andrea).

 

Let’s get the good out of the way first. The introduction of The Governor to people’s TV screens was the boost in the arm this show needed, and David Morrissey’s performance really covered a lot of ground. While his look was a departure from the comics, seeing The Governor go from a slightly unhinged leader to full-blown maniac was a lot of fun, and I honestly think Morrissey could be up for an Emmy when award shows come around.

 

Another possible contender is Andrew Lincoln as well. Rick’s grief over Laurie’s death was absolutely heartbreaking, and Lincoln’s anguished cries at that episode’s end was haunting. It’s hard not to think about this season without picturing that moment.

 

Now the flip side: Andrea. Lorie Holden, you did your best, and it’s fitting that her character’s final words before killing herself were “I tried”.  Well, unfortunately your character will forever live in the shadow of the comic book Andrea, who is not only still alive, but a bad ass as well. Andrea is really the only weak link in this season when it comes to characters, with the exception of Hershel’s daughter Beth, who’s big character defining moment this season was singing some Tom Waits.

 

But enough of that, let’s get to the storyline! I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that the first half of this season was better than the second.  From the premiere episode to the mid-season break, there wasn’t a dull moment, which put too much on the second half of the season, which teased the Governor’s revenge on Rick and his crew for too long, and didn’t give us a satisfying pay off for their inevitable confrontation. The Governor’s status after the finale is interesting, and I’m sure we’ll see him in season 4, but to not have your season end with a bang like season two (or even the mid season finale) after hyping it up rings like false advertising.
The second half of season 3 had the fantastic episode “Clear”, which featured the return of Morgan, but the odd placing of that episode really hurt it. An episode earlier we had Rick declaring war on the Governor and his army at Woodbury, then he goes back to his hometown? Perhaps producers need to look at their pacing, and scale back on the number of episodes. At this point Walking Dead essentially prints money for AMC, but a ten episode season like Game Of Thrones would be a lot more manageable than sixteen, and cut out a lot of unnecessary filler material.

 

While season 3 ending fairly weakly, The Walking Dead is still a lot better than most TV shows, and as long as it takes (acceptable) changes from the source material, I’ll still be watching. Sure, we can all complain that our favorite character was misused, or that the Governor in the comic was a thousand times more brutal than David Morrissey’s portrayal, but if things played out exactly as they did in the book, we comic fans would have no reason to watch it. I for one am still intrigued by what the next season will bring, and with Andrea out of the way, I’ll probably enjoy it a lot more than previous ones.

 

Comic Reviews: Detective Comics #19 and Deadpool #7!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

comics-detective-comics-19-artworkDetective Comics #19

In a different world, this would be Detective Comics # 900. However, since the DC universe relaunched only a year and a half ago, they won’t renumber, even for something as monumental as a 900th issue. So instead, we have this special 80-page anniversary issue, with a main story  cleverly titled “The 900”. While this may continue some plot threads from John Layman and Jason Fabok’s “Emperor Penguin” story, the focus is primarily on the New 52 appearance of Kirk and Francine Langstrom, and whenever the Langstroms are present, Bat-fans know to expect an appearance from Man-Bat at some point.

Layman’s main story is a fun done-in-one involving the citizens of “The 900”, a residential area in Gotham. After a mysterious air-borne virus starts turning citizens into bat creatures, Batman flies in to investigate. Like with his previous issues of Detective, Layman’s voice with Batman is phenomenal, and there’s even a great touch on the status of Batman and his allies post “Death Of The Family” (which may be the only reference we’ll get from those events for some time).  After subduing some transformed citizens and determining the cause of the virus to be Talia, Batman runs across Batwoman, who’s in the process of escorting the Langstroms through the city so that Kirk can administer the cure. After explaining that his serum had been stolen from him by some mysterious thief, Kirk then injects himself with a special version of the serum that acts as an airborne antidote. However, the catch is that it turns him into a monstrous creature with no hope of being turned back into a human.

Detective Comics definitely caught me by surprise, mainly because up until this point I had assumed that Man-Bat was already established as a Batman villain. However, I was very pleased with the direction Layman took with him for this new origin, and I especially enjoyed the fact that many of the mysteries presented in the main story are revealed in the back-ups, which, with the exception of the Bane story by James Tynion IV, are all written by Layman. While they focused on smaller characters from Layman’s run, they fit nicely into the book’s main story. I also really appreciated the fact that Layman tied this book into the other goings on in Batman’s life. There’s a sense of connectedness with the other Batman titles that’s not really present in any of the other Bat-family books (or even other DC titles for that matter).

Jason Fabok handles the art on the main story of the book, and as usual, the man is a machine. Superior to even the mighty David Finch, his art is incredibly detailed and marvelous to behold. It’s almost superhuman that he’s able to turn this book in on time, but I’m glad he can, as he’s quickly becoming not only one of my favorite Batman artists, but artist in general. The back ups are drawn by Andy Clarke, Mikel Jamin, and others, and there’s a ton of excellent pin up work by other artists, including an excellent piece by Alex Maleev.

Detective Comics #19 may not say “900” on it, but damn, it sure feels like a massive 900th issue. Some may balk at the $8 price tag, but once you see that there isn’t a single reprint or cover gallery (looking at you, Marvel) you’ll immediately understand that you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. While I’m still not interested in Emperor Penguin character or story, this issue definitely ensures that I’ll be keeping an eye on Detective Comics under Layman and Fabok’s watch.

 

Deadpool #7portrait_fantastic

Now that the zombie presidents are dealt with, what’s Deadpool going to do now? Why go back in time of course! Lovingly poking fun at Marvel universe of the early 80’s, Deadpool #7 pairs the Merc With A Mouth with the “Demon In A Bottle” era Tony Stark, and his sole purpose is to carry out the devil’s work. Well not a devil, but a lesser demon looking to collect enough souls to gain power in Hell. To do this, he appears to Deadpool and tasks him with a very important mission: get Iron Man drunk.

Writers Gary Duggan and Brian Posehn throw a lot of laughs at the beginning of this issue, but unfortunately by the end they start to lose steam. The opening pages at the Daily Bugle with Peter Parker trying to pitch a news story are the highlights, as well as Flash Thompson parking in a handicap space. Guest artist Scott Koblish really nails the look of early 80’s Marvel, and makes you feel as if you found this comic in the quarter bin of your local shop. In fact, if the paper quality was the same as those old books, it would be easy to mistake this book for one found at a yard sale.

As great as the opening is, it ends up hurting the rest of the issue as the two comedy writers try to wrap up the story. The issue starts to sum up events rapid fire while also getting in the gags, and the end result makes the entire story suffer. This is a shame, because I was really looking forward to this issue from the interviews I read with Posehn and Duggan. I hope this is just a fluke issue, as Deadpool has been a really fun book that hasn’t taken itself too seriously. Perhaps next issue they’ll get back on track, but as it stands right now, this one was a real disappointment.

Drawing It Out

odyssey-bruce-face

There’s nothing like a change in artists that can ruin a good title. Whenever an artist leaves a book, or needs a fill-in, the damage can be irreplaceable. But what about when an legendary artist returns to comics, and their current stuff isn’t up to what they used to bring to the table? All one needs to do to find the answer to this question is look at the new comic release rack.

In recent years there’s been a major influx in the amount of legendary artists returning to the big two companies. Major names like Art Adams, Alan Davis, Walt Simonson, Neal Adams and more have come back to comics in a big way, but the sad fact is that much of the work these guys are putting out currently pales in comparison to their stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, in many ways it tarnishes their legacy, causing many fans to wonder what the big deal was about them in the first place.

Let’s take Neal Adams, for example. Back in the 70’s he was THE Batman artist. Teamed with his Green Lantern/Green Arrow writer Denny O’Neill, he has produced some of the most widely known Batman issues of all time. His work is legendary and has influenced artists for decades to come. After many years, he decided to take a break.

Then Batman: Odyssey happened.

The Neal Adams written and drawn series was, quite simply, a complete mess, to the point where there was barely any continuity between panels, let alone issues. Before you shout out “but his real talent is being able to draw” take a look at some of the pages from Odyssey and compare them to his work in the 70’s. If anything, it’s gotten worse. I’ve not seen a single person buy the series (except for the 1st issue), so there’s only one way DC is still published it: because he’s Neal Adams, and no one tells him “no” anymore (this probably also explains his atrocious The First X-Men, with mullet Magneto on the first issue cover).

Unfortunately, this trend isn’t ending soon. Just looking at Walt Simonson’s covers were enough for me to drop Indestructible Hulk, which was heartbreaking because I’ve loved that book since it’s relaunch, but I just can’t look at Simonson’s art for three months. I was burned before on Avengers, and I don’t want it to tarnish my images of his legendary run on Thor. Same goes for John Romita, Jr. on Captain America, who is a shell of the artist he once was. Where is the same guy who drew that incredible fight between Wolverine and Silver Samurai in Uncanny X-Men? I’d even settle for the JRJR of the Peter Parker, Spider-Man days of my youth, or even from the JMS run. .

It’s always hard when a legend returns to the comics field, just ask Chris Claremont, who’s return to the X-Men world fizzled out twice in the 2000’s (remember X-Men Forever?). Of late, the only artist who really maintained the same level of quality from his glory days is Alan Davis, who’s currently drawing Wolverine with writer Paul Cornell. But he’s an exception to the rule. Perhaps it’s the fact that art has changed since they were drawing superheroes, or they’re just not able to produce art like they used to, but it’s clear that these legendary artists need to think long and hard before deciding to return to the comic book world.