Tag Archives: Comic Books

GRAPHIC NOVELS: CLA$$WAR – Series One: Collected Edition – Conspiracies: Superheroes – Part of the Problem and Part of the Solution!

In CLA$$WAR: The Collected Edition Rob Williams’ spins the tale of superhero patsies helping to prop up a corrupt American government [and the powers behind the scenes] – and one hero, American, who dares to let the country know what’s really going on. It’s a remarkably mature work for a first-time writer [Note: CLA$$WAR was produced 2002 – and was written earlier than that: Williams has since written for Marvel, Dark Horse and others]. The hardcover edition being reviewed came out late last year].

classwar

It’s not a happy America. Civilians are fed rah, rah stuff that seems to go against what they’re seeing with their own eyes. Cover-ups abound. American – aided by an elderly black man named Isaac – has already uncovered some of the stuff that’s been swept under the carpet and he’s not ready to stop. So, President Bush [this was written before Dubya had become POTUS] orders his former team members [Code Name: Enola Gay – some of this stuff ain’t hard to figure out] to take him out – even if they have to nuke the country of Genada [the dictatorship being one they helped set up].

Continue reading GRAPHIC NOVELS: CLA$$WAR – Series One: Collected Edition – Conspiracies: Superheroes – Part of the Problem and Part of the Solution!

COMICS: Steve Rogers Returns in Captain America 600

captain-america_600

In one of those rare, leaked free, Pop Culture surprises, Marvel Comics killed off one of it’s icons Captain America a few years ago. Not only that, but it’s amazing the Death of Steve Rogers has stuck this long and many say the book has been better for it. As a matter of fact Bucky Barnes has become a fan favorite. A story that captured international attention, Captain America #25 polarized shocked audiences by starkly depicting the murder the cultural icon.  On that fateful day when shots rang out on the courthouse steps, Cap’s greatest enemy—the Red Skull– achieved his greatest ambition—or so it seemed. Since that time, the Marvel Universe has been in chaos, as as the Red Skull has worked towards his true endgame.  But now there is a ray of hope in the form of Steve Rogers!

CaptainAmerica_Reborn_01_CassadayCover

How can Steve Rogers return from the dead, and will his rebirth be enough to stop the global threat of his sworn enemy? Hitting shelves on July 1st, the special five part series Captain America Reborn finally reveals the true scope of the Red Skull’s nefarious plan, and begins Captain America’s triumphant return. For fans of Captain America and those wanting to own a part of this historic moment in Marvel history, visit your local comic book retailer on July 1, 2009 to purchase Captain America Reborn #1.  To learn more about this landmark event, go to www.marvel.com/reborn! To find a comic book retailer near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ or call 888-COMICBOOK.  And be sure to pick up Captain America #600, on sale this week, as the road to Reborn begins!

MOVIE NEWS: Fan Made Green Lantern Trailer, Rocks!

This is one of the greatest fan trailers ever. I found it at the Ifanboy.com website, someone put a lot of thought and effort into this, Warner Brothers should hire whoever did this to be involved in their rumored Green Lantern movie. You would think Green Lantern would be one of the easiest characters to bring to the big screen. But whoever created this trailer, bravo!

COMIC BOOKS: X-Men: Magneto Testament Hard Cover

X Men Magneto Testament

On May 28, Marvel Comics will release the highly anticipated X-Men: Magneto Testament  hard cover, a collection of the five-issue critically acclaimed limited series from the fan favorite team of New York Times Best-Selling Author Greg Pak (Incredible Hulk, Incredible Hercules) and Carmine Di Giandomenico. This collector’s edition hard cover will be jam-packed with amazingly powerful extras, including a story never before published, and arrives with a suggested retail price of $24.99.

Today, the whole world knows him as Magneto, the most radical champion of mutant rights that mankind has ever seen. But in 1935, he was just another schoolboy — who happened to be Jewish in Nazi Germany. The definitive origin story for one of Marvel’s greatest icons begins with a silver chain and a crush on a girl — then quickly turns into a harrowing struggle for survival against the inexorable machinery of Hitler’s Final Solution.

MOVIE REVIEW: X-Men Origins: Wolverine Messes Up X-Men Continuity & Still Isn’t That Great!

When Bryan Singer’s creative team made changes to the continuity for the first two X-Men films, they made the story stronger. When Brett Ratner’s creative team tried to put things back they were supposed to be, the movie sucked rocks. Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine sits somewhere in the middle.

Logan vs. Sabretooth

As an X-Fan since 1964, and a Wolverine fan since his first appearance in 1974, I have to say it was an interesting experience to see how the David Benioff/Skip Woods script took the elements of Logan’s [Hugh Jackman] origin and the creation of William Stryker’s [Danny Huston]team and folded in an odd, but unfortunately not compelling, retcon of the continuity of major Marvel characters like Scott “Cyclops” Summers [Tom Pocock] and Emma Frost [Tahyna Tozzi] – which, in the case of Summers, also contradicts the previous X-films.

Sure, we learn about Logan’s backstory – at least to the point where he loses his memory [handled here in a ridiculously silly manner] – but there are so many other characters that even his big brother [in more ways than one], Victor [Liev Schreiber], only gets two dimensions to play with: vicious killing machine and “brothers look out for each other. Outside of Logan and Victor, though, when another character does hold our attention it’s because the actor manages to stand out in spite of the script – like Taylor Kitsch, the young Canadian [!] who makes Remy “Gambit” LeBeau very magnetic.

I’m not saying that Hood hasn’t produced an entertaining film. He did. It’s just that X-Men Origins: Wolverine deals with some characters and situations that are compelling in the Marvel Universe, but are, here, nothing more than a series of effects and fight choreography because there are so many characters, there’s no time to really tell the story. It’s like fat-free potato chips: there’s a similarity, taste-wise, to the real thing, but there’s also something missing. Even the segments that deal with Logan’s attempt at the idyllic life with Kayla [Lynn Collins] seem more like a perfunctory interlude to build to another scene of Logan screaming, that their impact is minimal.

In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, what’s missing, unfortunately, is the heart. It’s enjoyable but not essential. Color me disappointed.

Grade: C+

MOVIE REVIEW: The Spirit Made My Toes Curl – But I Kinda Liked It!

In a summer during the early-to-mid sixties, I surreptitiously acquired a copy of a specific issue of Playboy – not for the pictures, though those were nice, but for an essay on The Great Comic Book Heroes, by Jules Feiffer. It was about comic characters from the Golden Age of Comics [approximately 1939-1946 – your mileage may vary]. That led to my acquiring, with a hard-earned seven bucks, for Feiffer’s book of the same title on the subject. Included in the book was an eight-page, full-color Spirit story from the Philadelphia Record Sunday Comics Supplement, dated July 20, 1941. It was about a tale told to a tourist couple by an Egyptian beggar, twice in two days – first as a prophecy, and then as a fait accompli. It was incredible – it had action, wit, humor [even then I knew wit was not the same thing as humor] and amazing art. Well before the Kitchen Sink reprints of the seventies, I was hooked!

The Spirit's Women

In the summer of 1987, the ABC network broadcast the ninety-minute pilot for a projected series based on Will Eisner’s legendary masked hero, The Spirit. It was bright and colorful and really seemed, to me at least, to capture the peculiar mix of whimsy and drama that marked the comic as a unique and brilliant work. Eisner, on the other hand, said it was so bad that “it made my toes curl.”

Today, I saw Frank Miller’s movie adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. As a critic, I realize that its thin story is told choppily [Frank, buddy, have you never heard of dissolves, transitions and such? And, really Frank! Plaster of Paris? What the hell were you thinking???] and the acting varies from poor to really poor. I get that it’s supposed to be a black comedy; I get that it’s Eisner’s characters and situations as filtered Miller’s sensibilities; I even get that The Octopus [Samuel L. Jackson] is supposed to an evil, human version of Wile E. Coyote/Yosemite Sam, while The Spirit is The Roadrunner/Bugs Bunny.

Somehow, though, I don’t think blending Sin City, Tex Avery and Chuck Jones was really the way to go here. The Spirit is not a character for whom bleached out colors [except, of course, for that blood red tie] really work. Neither should the character be set in such a static, blocky manner. The comics were always more fluid than all but the best films – and certainly more so than any of the comics of the period [and most of the best of today, as well]. And juking The Spirit’s origin in such a manner – turning a tough, determined man into a superhero, when he was really [to quote Douglas Adams, “Just this guy, y’know?”]. The spirit of The Spirit has been pretty much bleached out of the movie.

The Spirit is pretty much a disaster no matter how you look at it – and yet, I enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because of the hard edge Dan Lauria gives Commissioner Dolan, or the resignation Sarah Paulson gives Dr. Ellen Dolan, who knows she’ll never have The Spirit’s heart – at least not exclusively. Part of it is the cinematography. Miller may be a long way from being a film director, but he can compose a shot like nobody’s business! Also, the world of Central City may be CG but it has more heft than Sin City. Plus, there are moments when Eisner’s character peeks through the chaos […and this is for Muffin!”].

Even with the movie’s compositional beauty, a couple decent [not brilliant] performances [Sorry Mr. Gabriel Macht. I know The Spirit, and he’s not a monotoned refugee from a Philip Chandler novel] and amazing CG, I can understand how most critics will give The Spirit the equivalent of an ‘F’. I can’t do that. But tempering my love for the character with what little of that remains here – and combining that with an objective overview of everything that’s wrong with it – I can’t give The Spirit a positive grade [as much as it pains me].

Final Grade: D+

Video Game Review: Spiderman Web of Shadows

Spiderman Web of Shadows 

I’ve never been a big fan of Activision’s Spiderman franchise. I always thought they were beautiful looking games but found the open world nature of them to be quite boring and hard to get into. I didn’t have that problem with Spiderman Web of Shadows. The game grabs you from the beginning and manages to keep you interested. The missions are all well defined, clear and I never once thought, “Ok, what am I supposed to be doing.” The trailers for the game are a little misleading, you are lead to believe that the game is about Spiderman trying to save a post Apocalyptic New York city and while this is true, these elements don’t come into the game until the 3rd act. The game starts with you battling an outbreak of humans that have been infected with the Venom virus. You are then transported back to 4 days prior where the story unveils how you got to that point. Mary Jane somehow gets injured as you follow her to the hospital you get sidetracked into stopping a gang war from breaking out in New York City. With the help of Luke Cage you learn new skills as you help him solve the gang problem. Spiderman isn’t a particularly hard game, which was refreshing. I get tired of playing games that are overly long and complicated. I love Spiderman’s pick up and ease of play. But after playing the game for about 10 hours, I really got tired of beating up on useless gang members. One of the early side quests include taking out 200 gang members. At first this was a lot of fun because Spiderman has got the moves. Zipping around on your webs, using your Spidey sense to spot gang members through buildings and then coming in fast and hard to lay the smack down is exhilarating. 

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MOVIE NEWS: Tom Cruise in Talks With Warner Bros to Star in Sleeper

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise

Fresh off of his highly praised and succesful turn as sleazy movie producer Les Grossman in the hit comedy of the summer TROPIC THUNDER, megastar Tom Cruise is now in talks with Warner Brothers Studios to star in their upcoming feature film SLEEPER.

SLEEPER, which is being produced by Warner Bros in conjuction with Stars Road Entertainment and DC Comics, Inc. centers around the adaption to screen of the Sci-fi comic book of the same name in which a covert operative becomes genetic fused with an alien artifact that renders him imprevious to feeling physical pain.

SLEEPER is being adapted to screen by Ed Brubaker who also writes for the comic book and is being produced by Sam Raimi and Josh Donen. No production date has been set for the feature film which will most likely have either a mid to late 2009 or early 2010 premiere.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight: Nolan’s Masterpiece!

By now you will have read reviews that say The Dark Knight is The Godfather of summer movies; The Untouchables with Batman as Elliot Ness and The Joker as Al Capone; The Silence of the Lambs with The Joker out-scaring Hannibal Lecter. You will have also read that Heath Ledger’s final performance equals – or betters – performances like Sir Anthony Hopkins as Lecter and that Mr. Nicholson has left the building, ‘cause, baby, there’s a new Joker in town!

These claims are not hyperbole. The Dark Knight – and Ledger’s performance as The Clown Prince of Crime [or in this case, Chaos] – are really that good.

The main reason that The Dark Knight works is that director/co-writer Christopher Nolan has treated the film not like a superhero movie [which, technically it isn’t, since Bruce Wayne/Batman has no superpowers – only superb training and determination, along with those fabulous toys] but as a crime thriller that poses questions that we all face to some small degree in life: is there such a thing as evil; why are there rules; how far are we – any of us – from turning into savages?

The Dark Knight

There are a good many other questions posed in what should be merely a summer extravaganza, but that is precisely why The Dark Knight is special. Just because a movie blockbuster comes out in the summer months, is there really any good reason why it shouldn’t be intelligent and thought-provoking? Of course not. We’ve already had one intelligent, thoughtful summer blockbuster on PIXAR’s WALL*E, so it’s not like the summer has been totally bereft of quality. By the same token, while WALL*E was simply the best film of the year when it was released [can it only be three weeks ago?], The Dark Knight raises the bar to the next –stratospheric – level.

For the rest of the year, every major release – whether it be the next comic book movie or the next “serious drama” – will have to contend with what is the best film Christopher Nolan has made, thus far.

While we could talk about the crisply choreographed action sequences and stunts [the flipped semi? A practical effect], or the fight sequences where we actually see Batman beat down hordes of the ungodly with surprising ease – and savagery; while we could talk about superb performances [Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman and the rest cast are all in top form] or debate the questions raised by the film for hours, and/or the film’s achievement purely on an entertainment level, what makes it a masterpiece is that it is all of these things and more.

The Dark Knight is worth your ten bucks [twelve-fifty in much of Canada] a dozen times over. It is a film to be experienced rather than merely viewed; a film to be savoured. You can’t say that about many films at any time of the year.

Final Grade: A+

MOVIE REVIEW: Hellboy II: The Golden Army Is Glorious Fun!

Although technically not a superhero movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is one of the most beautifully visual films of this or any other year. It’s also a combination of a lot of genres: comic book movie, action flick, fairytale, horror story, eco-fable, romantic drama, pulpy noir, FX flick. The thing is, because of writer/director Guillermo Del Toro’s love of the characters, and his amazing visual sense, all of these genres fuse into a whole that is ever-so-slightly greater than the sum of its parts.

Hellboy [Ron Perlman] and Liz Sherman [Selma Blair are together in this film – a situation that is more a bit awkward. As Abe Sapien [Doug Jones] puts it, “They have their good days and their bad days… and their really bad days. Complicating matters are Hellboy’s longings to go public – FBI liaison Tom Manning [a woefully underused Jeffrey Tambor] is particularly put out by a photo which the big guy posed for… and autographed!

Into this chipper little situation comes an elvish prince named Nuada [Luke Goss], who wants to raise the legendary Golden Army to destroy mankind as mankind has been replacing nature with shopping malls and parking lots. His twin sister, Nuala [Anna Walton] is dead set against this and flees – encountering Abe in the Troll Market [think a fusion of the Star Wars Cantina and the Floating Market from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere], where he helps save her from a troll. Everything escalates from there.

HB vs. Golden Army

Perhaps The Golden Army’s greatest asset is Del Toro’s amazing visuals. All of the film’s creatures are beautiful [sometimes in very disturbing ways] and the sets are enthralling. The creatures are mostly practical and the prostheses and animatronics are absolutely state of the art. Of course, they wouldn’t mean anything if the story and the characters didn’t support them – but they do.

The film is probably hardest on Abe, who encounters romance for the first time in his life, but the Hellboy/Liz relationship takes some interesting and powerful turns as well. Then there’s the new kid on the block, Johann Strauss [voiced by Seth McFarlane], a Teutonic being of ectoplasm housed in an encounter suit that resembles the old spider-Man villain, Mysterio. Brought in to bring Hellboy to heal, Strauss shows some unique abilities, but can’t contain the curmudgeonly demon.

Del Toro shows that Pan’s Labyrinth was no fluke as he sets up action sequences and emotional situations that are simultaneously larger than life and as real as oxygen. He puts his characters through trials of epic proportion, while keeping their feet firmly on the metaphoric ground. The only real flaw of the film is that it may be too rich, too full. There’s so much going on – on every level – that it’s hard to get it all in one viewing. The cliché, “I laughed. I cried. It became part of me,” may actually apply here – Hellboy II: The Golden Army has an effect that lingers long after you’ve left the theater.

Final Grade: A

PREVIEWS: Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe Screenshots and Trailer Debut

MK Vs. DCU MK Vs. DCU

MK Vs DCU MK Vs. DCU

For the first time ever Scorpion, Sub-Zero and the Mortal Kombat warriors battle with Batman, Superman and other popular DC Universe Super Heroes. Choose your side and challenge your opponents with a new fighting system including Freefall Kombat and Klose Kombat along with dynamic multi-tiered environments. Plus, pick your favorite character from MK or DCU and pursue a fighting adventure in the new single player mode with an intertwined storyline and two unique perspectives.