Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Looks Good?

Good thing I finished the last two weeks's worth of comics last night... because this week's are already here!

Unknown Soldier #6 -- This book is super harsh.  I dig it a lot, but I am seriously thinking of switching to trades.

The War That Time Forgot #11 -- Oh man, the dinosaur dung is really hitting the fan now!

Guardians Of The Galaxy #12 -- What, already?  Man, the action just keeps on coming.

Nova #23 -- The Corps is back, but is that a good thing?  I am going to go out on a limb and say "no."

War Machine #4 -- Cyborg!  Vs!  Refugees from 28 Days Later!

War of Kings: Darkhawk #2 -- What was the delay?  I really dug the first issue of this and want to see the conclusion.  Of course it leads in to Ascension...

X-Men: Kingbreaker #4 -- Again, what was with the delay?  But this series has been awesome, no doubt.

Futurama Comics #42 -- BASED ON TRUE EVENTS!  (As far as we know.)

The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks #1 -- For those who came late: Moonstone's relaunch of The Phantom with #0 was awesome, so #1 has me hopeful.

So, what looks good to YOU?

What I Read This Week

Ugh, work has been crazy since getting back from Illinois, so sorry that these are a day late, and a few dollars short, as I left the Marvel Apes Speedball Special behind by accident.  Yikes.

Kull #5 --With the snake infestation revealed, Kull must meet with the their ambassador at court, and respond to the arrest of the Pictish leader Ka-Nu!  But who do you trust when seemingly half of your subjects are reptiles in disguise?  Great pre-Hyborean stuff, really showcasing what makes King Kull just as awesome as Conan

Black Lightning: Year One #6 -- The citizens of Southtown are taking it to the streets -- the good kind of taking it to the streets, not the preachy, sing-songy kind.  It's up to Black Lightning stop the evil influence over his hometown!  Van Meter and Hamner deliver the goods in the conclusion to what has been a fun and fast-moving retelling of Jefferson's origin story.

Outsiders #16 -- The team gets a new HQ of sorts -- the orbiting Bat-rocket known as Haven -- and a mission, as they investigate a bizarre earthquake in Germany.  Not all is as it seems, though, with a strange group of shadowy kingmakers plotting and planning from offstage.  The dynamic of this team is showcased here, with Metamorpho pontificating on why each member is present.  Really neat stuff, but I want action; I can't wait to see the fur start flying next issue.

Tiny Titans #14 -- It's Pet Club: Paradise Island!  Too bad the boys are not allowed to step foot on the island and have to stand on the picnic table.  Bonus: See Wonder Girl abuse her Jumprope of Truth to win at Hide and Seek.  Ha ha.

Batman Confidential #27 -- Is The Riddler dressing up in Egyptian vestments now?  It seems that way, with his cell empty at Arkham... but even Riddler can't be two places at once.  Very much the middle act, with the necessary background on King Tut, but it never feels expositionary.  Hopefully Tut will stick around after this story, which has been very cool.

Invincible Iron Man #11 -- Shellhead is still the Most Wanted, and he's gone underground to avoid H.A.M.M.E.R., including changing his apperance and running low tech spy tricks.  A run-in with War Machine leads to a firefight, and an investigation by Maria Hill uncovers strange goings-on at a former Stark facility!  Better than last issue by a good measure, but only above average all around; the fight with War Machine, Hill's discovery, and the cliffhanger are all good signs though.

Guardians Of The Galaxy #11 -- Quasar and Drax the Destroyer... dead?  It sure seems that way, doesn't it?  But Death, Limbo, The Afterlife, Oblivion... all these things are pretty interchangable when you get right down to it.  But a big ebony Dragon Of The Moon, however... Typical Guardians quality, but the focus on two characters I am less interested in (especially Drax, who was cool in Annihilation but lately has seemed really one-note) makes it less interesting than most of the other installments.  Still, very cool all around.

X-Men Manifest Destiny: Nightcrawler -- Nightcrawler heads back to Germany to think about his role as a hero and an X-Man, but this being the Elf, he ends up finding trouble instead!  There's a demon on the loose in Kurt's hometown, and the villagers would just as well see both of them dead if at all possible.  Nightcrawler has always been my favorite X-Man, and so this oversized one-shot was a no-brainer for me.  It really harkens back to Nightcrawler's solo series from the mid-00s, which was one of my favorites back then.  Between this, Kingbreaker, First Class, Cable, and last year's FCBD Special, I am almost tempted to check out the mainline X-books.

The Pick Of The Pile is Kull.  This book is everything I could ever want from a King Kull comic book, except that it is not an ongoing and is going to end next month!  Dark Horse, why do you torture me?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Return!

As you may have surmised from the previous post, I am back from my travels to and from (and to, and from) the Windy City, and am back within the friendly confines of South Carolina.  I should be back on track in a few days.  Enjoy!

What Looks Good?

Back from Chicago, and looking to score some sweet, sweet Four Color swag, yo.

Kull #5 -- Blood-soaked barbarian action as YOU like it!

Black Lightning: Year One #6 -- The surely electrifying (oy) finale!

Outsiders #16 -- A new team with a new mission and a new (which is to say, old) title.  Oh man am I jazzed about this.

Tiny Titans #14 -- Bringing the most funny for your money.

Tor: A Prehistoric Odyssey HC -- If you missed it in singles then you must must MUST buy this hardcover.  You will not be disappointed!

X-Men: Kingbreaker #4 -- Not sure if this comes out this week or next, but even with the ending sorta spoiled by War of Kings #1, I am really eager to see it.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Monday, March 16, 2009

4 Color Cinema: The Ubiquitous Watchmen Review

Dating back to last year at SDCC, there's been one piece of 4 Color Cinema which has been on the lips and on the minds of comic book fans: Watchmen.  The long-sufferubg adaption of the "unfilmable" series was actually, really, and honestly coming soon to a theater near you.  those first images were tantalizing -- could it really be pulled off?  As we got closer and closer to the release date, various streams of opinions began to flow.  Some thought that Zach Snyder's work in adapting 300 would result in an equally amazing piece of work.  Others fretted that changes and omissions would make the comic's story unrecognizable. And still others worried that the public (the "norms," if you will) would simply "not get it" and the property met with derision.

So now the day has come and gone, and the mass populace now (mostly) knows the story of Watchmen.  What is the cumulative result of all the hype and hope, fear and loathing?  In the opinion of this blogger, a pretty darn good movie.  

First off, let's run down the plot.  It's 1985, but not was we know it -- Richard Nixon is still the President, for one thing.  For another, costumed adventurers -- that is, superheroes -- fought crime and defended the public, until being outlawed in the late 70s.  Now, only those who work for the government are allowed to operate -- including the godlike being of living atomic energy Dr. Manhattan, and assassian and all-around tough guy The Comedian.  But when The Comedian is found dead after being thrown through a window of his high rise apartment, the rogue vigilante Rorschach begins an investigation, bringing him in contact with other retired heroes Nite-Owl, Silk Spectre, and Ozymandias.  But the world itself seems to be spinning out of control, with nuclear war with the Soviets seemingly imminent.  What does the murder of a man in a mask mean in that context, and how are these events connected?

As anyone who has read Watchmen knows, that rally just scratched the surface of the pic which Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created.  But the basics are enough to understand that Watchmen was unlike anything else published at the time -- so it is appropriate that Watchmen, as a film, is unlike any other superhero movie which has ever been produced.  Much in the same way that the series serves as a generic deconstruction-cum-satire of superhero comics, the film follows a similar approrach to superhero film.  All of the generic vocabulary which the superhero film has built up (especially in the modern period) gets turned on its ear in Watchmen, all the while striving to deliver, on the surface, an exciting, interesting story of mystery and heroics (so to speak).

The film succeeds on both of these levels, admittedly to varying degrees.  Taken purely as a film about dark heroes in a dark world, Snyder delivers a thoroughly modern (modernist?) adventure, with enough plot twists, fight scenes, and neat-o effects to satisfy today's jaded audiences.  As an allegory, some of it works well, and some of it is probably a little to subtle for it's own good, to the point that I imagine most viewers wouldn't even see it as satirical.  Ozymandias's costume is a good example of such an element, as it clearly pokes fun at the muscled vinyl super-suit we've all become accustomed to, but one can't help but think that casual viewers will simply accept this as par for the course superhero costuming.  Whether this is a pro or a con I leave up to the reader.

The cast does a fine job pretty much across the board.  Malin Akerman is probably a little too young, and Patrick Wilson a little too in shape, but otherwise they each do well in bringing their characters to life.  Jackie Earle Haley does a fantastic turn as Rorschach (helped out immensely) by the excellently rendered mask), making us alternately rally behind him and be repulsed by his insanity.  The same goes for Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan, who's ethereal voice works perfectly with the aloof and distant CG model, giving the character the substance and depth he deserves.  And Wilson brings everything together as both sad-sack Dan Dreiberg and the gadget-laden Nite-Owl, humanizing the preceedings and giving the audience someone they can identify with, if not exactly relate to.

The film does have it's drawbacks.  The hyper-violence and over-the-top sex serve as more of a distraction to the narrative than as part of it.  I think Snyder was attempting to portray the realistic impact of the typically bloodless superhero brawl, but the effect is off-putting, calling attention to it's presence openly.  The sex is handled similarly -- as if Snyder is trying to convince everyone that, yes, see, we really deserve that R.  The musical selections also standout, being composed mostly of period pop and rock hits.  It's a hit or miss tactic -- Dylan's "The Times They Are-A Changin'" and Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower" work beautifully, "99 Luftballoons" is ridiculous (anod not in a good way), and "Hallelujah" is embarassing -- but my bigger complaint is the in the use of the technique in general.  It's a shortcut which I have never been a fan ofm abd nothing on display here changes my opinion.

Still, these are relatively minor complaints, and I suppose they are not unexpected considering the source material.  The quality of the filmmaking cannot be denied, and the story remains as intriguing and engrossing as it did in the comic, and overall it is a superior effort.  It remains downbeat and depressing, as it is supposed to be, but it is still enjoyable viewing.  The film has lots of strong visuals, mostly taken straight from Gibbons' pages, which even a few years ago would have been impossible.  It's not a film I will throw into the DVD player like Iron Man, but I would definitely call it a success.  I can't imagine a better way to film such an "unfilmable" epic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well, I am heading to Chicago this afternoon for business, to return on Friday night... to turn around Monday morning and fly back to Chicago for business again.  Somehow, in some strange parallel Earth, this makes sense.  So expect spotty posting, if any postings at all, for the next few days.  I should have some kind of internet access, but as we all know, that may or may not allow me to post!

Anyways, thanks and see you all again soon!

What Looks Good?

I'm getting ready to go flying a jet airplane to the Windy City, but that doesn't mean I can't pine away for this week's new comics from afar!

Batman Confidential #27 -- King Tut?  King Tut!  WILD!

Essential Power Man and Iron Fist v.2 -- SWEET CHRISTMAS!  Of course, I own nearly all of the comics contained in this collection, but still, this is pretty darn awesome.

Invincible Iron Man #11 -- Tony Stark?  Still the Most Wanted.

Marvel Apes: Speedball Special -- Shock the Monkey!  Okay, yeah, that was bad.

X-Men Manifest Destiny: Nightcrawler -- I haven't been following what is going on with the X-Men save for Havok and Polaris, but I've always liked Nightcrawler.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Monday, March 9, 2009

What I Read This Week

Strange Adventures #1 -- In the wake of the Rann-Thanagar Holy War, the face of the cosmos has be altered: with the population of Throneworld decimated by Lady Styx, and Rann now unihabitable, the two are now united as "New Rann."  But things are still unstable: Hardcore Station is as dangerous as ever, and the ruins of Old Rann hold vast technological wonders which many would kill to get their hands on.  Plus, now it seems that the stars themselves are starting to vanish!  All this and Deacon Dark and Bizarro!  Starlin's next DC cosmic adventure kicks off here, and it is a lot of setup, but the setup is excellent.  Manuel Garcia's pencils in the feature are a nice fit as well.  The backup, focusing on Bizarro, has art done by Starlin, which is a nice touch.  The backup's story, though, has some weird ramifications for Hawkfans, and I really want to see where Starlin is going with this.

War of Kings #1 -- War has begun!  When the expanionist Emperor of the Shi'ar Empire puts his eyes upon the newly crowned Kree King Black Bolt's space, the universe will shake with the fury of their combat.  DnA and Pelletier deliver the goods in this opening salvo of the next Marvel space opera, with a full-on battle between the Imperial Guard and the Kree.  About my only complaint here is that this issue spoils the conclusion of X-Men: Kingbreaker #4, but that is a relatively minor quibble in the scheme of things.  Great stuff from that "other part" of Marvel, which is far superior to the mainline stuff.

House of Mystery #11 -- Welcome to "The Space Between!"  With the mystery of the basement solved, now it is time to look into why the heck Fig's father is at the House, and why he seems to know more than he is telling.  Plus, we get to learn a little bit about those courageous Pathfinders who blazed the trails of magic throughout the known worlds.  Really, I don't know what else I can say about this series at this point -- it's a great book month in and month out.

Black Lightning: Year One #1 -- After throwing The 100 off his scent, Jefferson Pierce has to keep an eye on Garfield High's Regional Track & Field Expo -- no easy task when weird forces are twisted the minds of all in attendance, making them see everyone else as beasts and monsters!  An uptick from the previous installment, as the weirdness is a little more palatable.  This has been a fun series and I am eager to see how it all wraps up in the finale.

The Pick Of the Pile is a close one this week, as I really liked both Strange Adventures and War of Kings.  As I can't decide based on quality, I will do it based on value: for $3.99, Strange Adventures has more pages, including a backup, so that one gets the nod.  Although, I must admit that all four titles were really good this week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And Now, Your Moment Of Cheesecake

She might have sloughed off the mortal coil, but the Aquagirl can still WORK THAT BADONKADONK.


(Confused?  Head over to
yesterday's post over at Being Carter Hall, and things should become more clear.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What Looks Good?

No amount of snow is going to stop the inevitable tide of new comic books that come shipped fresh to your local shop every week!  Esepcially not when 95% of it melts a day after it falls!

Black Lightning: Year One #5 -- Things got a little weird last time, and I don't expect that to change any time soon!

House of Mystery #11 -- We're out of the basement!  But new terrors await in the rest of the house!

Strange Adventures #1 -- Jim Starlin being Jim Starlin!  Adam Strange!  Comet!  Bizarro!  AND THE DEMIURGE, BABY!

War of Kings #1 -- DnA being DnA!  Black Bolt!  Emperor Vulcan!  Blastaar!  AND DARKHAWK, BABY!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What I Read This Week

Justice Society of America #24 -- With Billy Batson kicked off the Rock of Eternity by Black Adam and Isis, he turns to his old friends in the Justice Society to help get back.  But even he cannot predict the way events are going to spiral out of control!  After the insane build-up and payoff of the Gog storyline, this new story (Geoff Johns' last with the Society for the time being) is something of a let-down.  The real star here is Jerry Ordway.  His big shining moment is the extended flashback sequence detailing the murder of Billy's parents by Theo Adam.   But otherwise, this issue is lackluster.

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #4 -- Easy and their compatriots are still pinned down, and even attempts to air-drop supplies in turn out catastrophic.  Help is coming in the form of the Nisei, but will anyone be alive by the time they reach them?  Tucci's war epic continues with the Lost Battalion still surrounded in what seems a hopeless situation.  Good mileage is made this issue with a focus on the Nisei themselves, including the ridiculous predjudices they have to face despite their bravery in putting their lives on the line.  A sequence involving a tank ambush against Easy is among the best I have ever seen.  This is definitely a series which will be read in one sitting once it is complete.

Unknown Soldier #5 -- Dr. Lwanga seems on the road to recovery, leaving the orphans in good hands and reuniting with his wife.  But everything is shattered when the rebels show up in their camp.  This series is a tough nut for me.  I really enjoy it, but it is so harsh and brutal that it is hard for me to read in a monthly format.  I am seriously thinking about moving to reading this in collection.  Of course, a Vertigo title dropping readers is not a good thing.  So I am torn.  

The War That Time Forgot #10 -- Everything is starting to come off the rails, as the warriors have to not only deal with dinosaurs both real and mechanical, but now a swarm of mutated insect-men!  Is there any way to escape this experiment or will mankind's true warlike nature win out?  Developments progress about as you would expect considering the endgame being in sight, but this series has remained a good read for me.

Nova #22 -- The Worldmind is recruiting new Centurians at an alarming pace, which concerns former Nova Richard Rider.  The Worldmind thinks that Richard has started to go crazy from the strain of his duties, and Richard has begun to doubt his sanity as well.  But things are rarely ever that simple for Richard!  Fun "middle chapter" of the new Nova Corps saga, with some nice "I'm not crazy, you're the crazy one!" give and take.  DnA are clearly building to something big, and Di Vito's pencils are a strong match.

War Machine #3 -- Rhodey faces what might be his toughest challenge ever in the form of the war god Ares!  But what does this battle-crazed madman want with War Machine and his quarry?  High octane, over-the-top violent fun, which is this title's fortay.  This actually is the only time I can think of where I have actually enjoyed Ares' presence in a story.

The Pick of the Pile goes to Nova, although I really liked Sgt. Rock this week as well.  War Machine also continues to have a really strong launch, far outclassing it's stable-mate Invincible Iron Man.

So, what did YOU read?

Snow Day!

Not the way I expected to start March, especially in South Carolina!  After the snowstorm yesterday, which pretty much kept me and my wife at home watching Charmed, things are a little hectic today at work.  I should have some content for you later on today, but for now, please accept this lame apology instead!