Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Astounding Wolf-Man "Director's Cut" #1 - Review

Superhero Meets Supernatural

CEO Gary Hampton is mauled by a bear on a family trip and put into a coma for months. None of his doctors or family members think he'll ever wake up. But Hampton wasn't mauled by a bear, and after he wakes up it's obvious that his attacker was more of the canine variety. When the full moon rises, so does the beast inside of Hampton. After a visit from a mysterious stranger, Hampton is given the chance to learn to control the beast within him and harness his power. If he doesn't, it might come back to bite him.

Written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Jason Howard, The Astounding Wolf-Man is a Skybound title published by Image Comics. The artwork is a very simple and clean look, much like that of the early issues of Kirkman's Invincible, but the pacing of the panels and the storytelling is on par with any more complicated book. I for one don't mind artwork to be simple and clean sometimes. I find that some books, like Spawn for instance, sometimes have too many lines and too much detail to them. The clean look of Hampton and Wolf-Man is a welcome change from the comic book norm of over-drawn characters.

The pacing and writing is good for a first issue, considering that the setup has to be stretched over an entire book. We get some glimpses of Hampton as the Wolf-Man, but nothing in terms of a fight or battle. That isn't a bad thing. In fact, I'd say it's a much better way to introduce a character like this. I'm aware that it's been going on for some years now, but as a new reader I'd say that it was more than enough to get me interested in it. I've been on a Kirkman kick lately, and reading this is a direct result of that. So if you're a fan of Kirkman's Walking Dead, Invincible, or even Super Dinosaur, give this book a try. I am.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Incorruptible #19 - Review

Max is on Damage Control

Coalville is burning, and unless Max Damage can convince former district attorney Whelan to step up and be the man that the city needs in order to bring society back to the violent streets. But gangs of super villains have been pouring into Coalville under the control of Bellamy, who has left Alana Patel in the hands of the homicidal maniacs he has under his belt. However, Bellamy and the other villains have a few tricks up their sleeve. Their mission -- knock Damage out and kill him when he wakes up, the only time his powers are vulnerable.

Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Marcio Takara, issue #19 of Incorruptible was just as good as the ones that have preceded it. Damage is coming to terms with the fact that even though he's completely good, he doesn't know how good people think or act outside of brute force. Watching him try to convince one of his former enemies, whose child he killed once out of revenge, to join him is wonderful drama for the page.

The artwork by Takara is wonderful, and the use of line in varied ways makes you almost think that the panels are actually animated. The pacing matched with the artwork and the writing sets it off, and it's always been that way no matter who Waid has been paired with on the title. It's so strange that Incorruptible feels like a book that's been around forever, but that's just a testament to how good it actually is.

I just can't say enough good things about this book. Ever since I stumbled upon it at Emerald City Comic Con this year I've been enamored with it. If you give it a shot, I'm sure you'll be into it just as much.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uncanny X-Men #538 - Review

Kitty Scratches Back!

Written By: Kieron Gillen
Drawn By: Terry Dodson
Inks By: Rachel Dodson
Publisher: Marvel

In the conclusion to the "Breaking Point" story arc, the former Powerlord known as Kruun from Breakworld has incapacitated the X-Men in their sleep and gutted Colossus in order to enact his revenge for losing to him all those years ago. Kitty Pryde has just regained her tangible form through a strange ritual by Kruun's wife, Haleena, and rushes to save her teammates and friends.

This issue of Uncanny X-Men was a pretty fun read, though it wasn't anything spectacular. The fight between Wolverine and Kruun was a good bit of comic book sport, and I do love Kitty Pryde as a strong female character taking charge in a crisis situation. For those that don't know, Kitty is the X-Men member known as Shadowcat -- a young woman who can move through solid objects. She was recently trapped in her intangible form, unable to make contact with anyone or control her powers. I had always wondered what would happen if an ability like that backfired, and I'm glad that Marvel was willing to let the X-Men take it down that path.

The end of the issue is what I really enjoyed. Cyclops has been trying to turn the X-Men into something more than a punch and run team, and their solution for the refugees from Breakworld shows that new approach. If there's something that comics don't show enough of it's people learning to understand each other rather than pummel each other to death.

In summary, it's a good book to read to get a feel for the tone of the new version of the X-Men that Marvel has been putting out, but I wouldn't say it's for people who are die hard action fans.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Futurama: Neutopia - Review

Where Ya From You Sexy Thang?!

Futurama had a double episode premiere this past week and the first episode of the new season was "Neutopia," in which the crew of the Planet Express ship and a few famous side characters have their genders deleted, switched, and then all mixed up! The episode does alot to explore the concept of gender roles and the hilarious things that each sex thinks of the other one. You haven't lived until you've seen Fry as a stupid man AND as a stupid woman. It just goes to show that there are certain strengths to each sex and certain drawbacks. In the end, our personalities remain constant despite what we have in our downstairs mix-up.

This was a strong opening for a new season and I'm really excited to see more episodes. Futurama is one of my all time favorite cartoon shows or sitcoms for that matter, and I'm glad that it went back on the air last summer. The writing for this episode is what I expect from the creative team behind Fry, Leela, and Bender's antics, and already we've been given some good quotable lines from the first episode. I won't quote any of them here, because they'd be spoilers, but expect to hear them around the nerd cooler sometime soon.

The voice acting was strong as always, and it always amazes me that Billy West does the bulk of the characters. Zapp Branigan makes an appearance, which is always welcomed in an episode.

I'm kind of sad that I don't actually have cable right now, but I was able to buy both of the new episodes off of iTunes for a reasonable price. You get an HD version and an SD version of the show to tote around on your iPad, iPod, or iPhone.

Science fiction and comedy fans rejoice, one of our favorite TV shows is back with a vengeance!

Attack Stack! 6/23/2011 - Reviews

Attack Stack Review for 6/23/2011

It's on like Donkey Kong!

And here come the reviews! This stack is huge because there was a name mixup at my local comic book store and I hadn't been getting my titles. Instead of never getting them, I got a flood of them all at once! Enjoy!

Starborn #7

Written By: Stan Lee & Chris Roberson
Drawn By: Khary Randolph
Published By: BOOM! Studios

Benjamin Warner and his shapeshifting bodyguard Tara are hunkered down in an abandoned building while a squadron of The Pride rain down attacks from them outside. Benjamin has just learned the nature of his father's legacy, and the news sends him into a downward spiral. Meanwhile, on Earth, The Witches of Arbor are looking for non-terrestrial technology that they've pinpointed to a woodland area. But when they find the source of the technology, not everything goes as smoothly as planned.

This has been one of my favorite BOOM! Studios titles, and Roberson's writing paired with Randolph's unique art style and pacing is a to-die-for match up. It's one of the best looking science fiction books out there, and I honestly wish more had this kind of color scheme and attitude to it.

As a single issue, it helps to know the story beforehand. It jumps in the middle of a big reveal and expects the reader to have been following along. Luckily, the inside cover brings anyone who hasn't been reading lately up to speed. I think this is a great way to keep readers who might have missed a few issues (raises hand) in the loop without having to try and hunt down past installments.

Overall I really enjoyed it, and I kept turning the pages until I sadly ran out of story to read. I can't wait to see where this epic is going and what will unfold in its wake.

Soldier Zero #9

Written By: Stan Lee, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning
Drawn By: Javier Pina and Ramon Bachs
Published By: BOOM! Studios

Stewart Trautmann and Kaylee have just escaped the clutches of the US Government and find themselves on the run in Washington State. They do their best to stay under the radar, but Trautmann's abilities as Soldier Zero keep telling him that something sinister is going on. After venturing out on a hunch, the two of them run into more than they bargained for.

This issue of Soldier Zero was kind of a bust. Nothing really happened to write home about and the characters did nothing but just regergatate the same lines over and over again. It seemed like the first five pages were over explanation of what had happened in the issue previous.

The artwork and pacing was pretty standard, and though it didn't razzle dazzle it did tell the story effectively.

The real thing I was excited about at the end was the possible inclusion of some aliens I saw in the latest issue of Starborn. I would love to see these two books do a crossover sometime. That is, if Soldier Zero can get its act together.

Incorruptible #17

Written By: Mark Waid
Drawn By: Marcio Takara
Published By: BOOM! Studios

Max Damage has been trying to make himself a new man after turning over a new leaf. With the Plutonian out of the picture as the world's hero, many are not ready to believe that Damage can step up to the plate or even be trusted. When he and his new partner, Alana Patel, the Plutonian's ex-girlfriend, get chased out of their safe house, the only choice they have is to seek refuge with a popular billionaire. But what is this older playboy hiding? And why are so many villains attracted to his house?

This issue of Incorruptible was fun to read on many levels. First and foremost, Max Damage is one of my favorite characters in comics right now. His story of deciding to become the world's greatest superhero after being it's biggest villain is a choice not easy to make by a character or a creator, but Waid is pulling it off.

I also am loving the addition of all of the strange supervillains that populate the world of Incorruptible and Irredeemable. After having seen it's not so clean cut heroes it's fun to see the even worse villains. One that seems to be a big problem for Max is a girl called Safe Word, who can control what people do with a little catch phrase.

Non-traditional superheroes seems to need its own genre in comic books, and I'd say that this title should be somewhere near the top of the list for prime examples of said genre. Thumbs up all around for this one.

Incorruptible #18

Written By: Mark Waid
Drawn By: Marcio Takara
Published By: BOOM! Studios

After fending off an attack at his new residence, Max Damage is challenged to fine ONE good man in Coalville. That man -- Mike Whelan, former district attorney. In the old days he and Max Damage were big enemies, but now Damage needs him to step up as he did and take control of the crumbling world. If the chaos that the Plutonian started is to be set right, men like Whelan need to take command of the local governments. However, Whelan isn't so quick to help his former adversary, and for good reason . . .

I luckily got both #17 and #18 of Incorruptible on the same day, so I didn't get to skip a beat when it came to connecting the two issues. It's books like these that can inspire people to make their own comics. The artwork in this book, which I honestly forgot to mention with the last issue, is very sleek and cool. The writing by Waid keeps the pace moving perfectly, and at no point was I not wanting more.

The violence was a bit more prevalent in this issue, and it's cool to see the district attorney character that's used in so many crime fighting comic books used in a different light. Whelan will no doubt be a big part of Damage's reform, though I don't have the heart to spoil it for people who haven't read the issue.

This universe that Waid is crafting is only getting better, and I suggest getting on the bandwagon before it gets too far ahead. Luckily, Waid is able to let you know how things have progressed through dialogue without shoving it in a reader's face. Kudos to him for that.

Irredeemable #26

Written By: Mark Waid
Drawn By: Peter Krause
Published By: BOOM! Studios

The Plutonian is fighting his way through the strange asylum he's been locked away in, all the while using his brute force and dastardly cunning to defeat foes and gain allies. Meanwhile, Kaiden is talking to the nearly dead body of Scylla, whom she had immense feelings for. A collar around her neck prevents her from using her powers, but for some strange reason, she's able to summon the nearly dead ghost of Scylla in order to make contact with him. His wishes, however, are not what she expected.

I have to admit that I was a little behind as far as the Irredeemable story line goes, but luckily Waid is able to keep you up to speed without forcing it on you, which he also does well in Incorruptible. Reading this book I can't help but hope that the Plutonian will escape and continue to wreak havoc on the universe. I love the Superman-like character turned bad, and Plutonian is by far my favorite example. Watching him travel through the strange stages of the insane asylum, located in the depths of a star, is both visually and mentally stimulating.

That's also thanks to Peter Krause's artwork, which never fails to impress. His art direction is always solid, and makes me glad that I've added this to my pull list permanently. I really wish he would do more books, but, alas, it is hard to spread artwork around like that.

My big hope with this book is that it gets out into the mainstream a bit more. I'd love for this universe to be expanded upon with many titles written by Waid and even some other writers. If anyone has been thinking about getting into this book, go and get issue #1 or the first trade paper back and you'll be hooked like I am.

The Unwritten #26

Written By: Mike Carey
Drawn By: Peter Gross
Published By: Vertigo

Tom Taylor, Richard Savoy, and Elizabeth Hexam have been captured and put on auction while looking for Tom's father's journal and personal notes about Tom's birth. All of the world's biggest media elites and wealthy individuals with money to burn have showed up in order to try and get a piece of the action. Among the bidders are some people who don't really belong, some stranger than others, and what do memories of a water tank and stories being read to a young Tom have to do with his birth?

The Unwritten is one of my favorite ongoing series right now. It takes the Harry Potter craze and puts it in the hands of a more mature writing team and audience. Carey and Gross have crafted a comic book that works on both the action and literary level, making it a treat for English majors and anyone who loves a good amalgamation of classic literature.

This issue in particular starts to reveal the inner workings of the mystery behind Tom's powers, knowledge, and birth, which is keeping me on the edge of my seat. I don't want this series to end, but I do hope that it does have a definitive ending and that it isn't drawn out.

Speaking of drawing, Gross' artwork is wonderful. The use of line is a mixture between that animated and heavily detailed style that only comic books can pull off. If I had the opportunity I'd work on a book with Gross in a heartbeat. The pacing and visuals are so well done that I was at the end of the issue before I even knew it. Thumbs up all around for this installment and for this series as a whole.

X-Men #13

Written By: Christopher Yost
Drawn By: Paco Medina
Published By: Marvel

The Evolutionaries have returned to find the leader of Mutantkind, and they've found him -- the Magneto of the past! While the X-Men in the present try to fend off the small army that the Evolutionaries brought with them, the other group of Evolutionaries recruiting the young Magneto is planning to try to exterminate the human race. However, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver aren't too keen on the idea of all of humanity dying, and give a tip to the younger Cyclops in order to try and prevent it. The key to the destruction of Mankind and the proliferation of Mutantkind? A single mutant, tucked away in an insane asylum.

There was a great deal of action in this issue of X-Men, but it didn't take away from the overall story. The artwork was really well done, and the pacing of the panels and story was well executed. It's getting a little complicated with the time travel aspect, but being a fan of Doctor Who I'm used to complicated story lines.

I am interested to see how the Magneto of the present will eventually try to deal with his younger self. Since he's become a core part of the X-Men since they built Utopia, the idea of him having to face his old ideals with his new ones is ripe for story, and I can only pray it's a part of the coming arc.

The Evolutionaries themselves are an interesting group of characters. The fact that they were designed to help pick the dominant version of the species gives them that classic science fiction edge of putting logic over emotion as evolved beings. I'm not sure if they've shown up in any comics previous to this (I'm thinking not), but it does serve as a good tool to present the chance for the X-Men to find out what it would be like to be the primary species on Earth.

Overall it was a pretty good issue. I've really loved this new series and I hope that it continues for awhile. Not just because I have a subscription through Marvel.

DMZ #66

Written By: Brian Wood
Drawn By: Riccardo Burchielli
Published By: Vertigo

Zee has been traversing the nearly abandoned and war-torn New York City, thinking about her meeting with Matty Roth and how he changed her life. So much has happened over the years, and Zee can't help but blame her first encounter with Matty for changing her already hectic life. As she walks the empty streets, she sees another person who is injured, calling out for help. She thinks about her duty, the oath she took, and how it'd all be for nothing if she didn't do something.

Though this book is mostly a collection of flashbacks, it's character driven story shows just how much DMZ can do with any story line. I'm really sad that it's eventually going to end, but luckily we'll have a definitive ending for an incredible comic book series.

This issue in and of itself does paint a much broader picture of how Zee thinks and feels about the war and the city. Her relationship with Matty defined the rest of her time in New York City, and she's seen so much violence that it's really affected her character. The artwork, pacing, and writing just makes it all the better.

If you haven't been reading DMZ, now is the time to go snag those back issues or trade paperbacks and get caught up. I can only imagine how powerful the ending is going to be. Or, in classic Brian Wood fashion, maybe a more subtle ending.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Invincible: Season One (Motion Comic) - Review

The Best Motion Comic EVER

High schooler Mark Grayson has plenty to worry about -- girls, friends, his part time job at a burger joint. It only gets more complicated when his superpowers FINALLY start showing up. But how can Mark live in the shadow of his father, Nolan Grayson, the famed superhero Omni-Man, who can fly to Egypt to stop a flood in mid sentence? Grayson, filled with a sense of destiny, decides to make his own path as a warrior of justice. It's not easy being a teenager when you're invincible.

Written and created by Robert Kirkman, drawn by Corey Walker, and published by Image Comics, Invincible is a superhero series about being a superhero. It doesn't follow any set universe like Marvel or DC, and it attempts to make it's own vast array of characters and motives within a very well written world. This series, put together by MTV, was a collection of the first 13 issues of the comic book series turned into 6 episodes of a motion comic. This series is actually the best I've ever seen in terms of motion comics, and has me wishing they'd do more.

Most motion comics try to animate the characters within the panels, often making the mouths and characters move slightly. I've always found this a bit unsettling, and a little distracting from the story. This motion comic adaptation, which is done by Jeff Shuter, is more of a radio play with a comic book backdrop. The panels will still move, but the whole panel is either shaken or animated, not the characters. The text is animated, and isn't really needed, but it's nice to have it there anyway.

I just got back from my local comic book store and the person at the counter says that since the release of the motion comic Invincible has been added to six or seven people's pull lists. It's no surprise that a release like this could spike more people's interest, and I'm excited to try and catch up to those who have been reading for years.

The series as a comic book is wonderful, but the motion comic is worth checking out too. For the price of $7.99 on iTunes you can get 13 issues worth of story. That's only 61 cents per story! Wow, I should work in their marketing team.

Bottom line, this is one of those superhero stories that anyone can get into because you don't have to know a universe's size of knowledge to jump right in.

100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call - Review

Murder Done Justice

What would you do if someone gave you the indisputable proof in a briefcase that it was one person's fault that your life had been ruined? That the person in question did it on purpose and out of malice, and that you could have a chance to serve them justice? How you ask? With a handgun and 100 untraceable bullets, that, while in your possession, but you above the rules of the law. Until those bullets run out, you're free to inflict justice on those who have wronged you, and anyone else deemed worthy of violent justice.

Written by Brian Azzarello, drawn by Eduardo Risso, and published by Vertigo, 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call is the first trade paperback collection of the beloved comic book series. This crime noir book has a strange Twilight Zone atmosphere in the involvement of the stranger known as Agent Graves, who appears to different people each issue in order to give them the 100 bullets they need to have closure. His intentions are vague, but the chance for extremely powerful story telling is vast.

The artwork in this book is nothing short of breathtaking. It can change from simple indoor scenes to large outdoor bleeding panels of color and shadows. The stories are new takes on old classics, and the involvement of the briefcase and bullets makes each story and character incredibly unique.

I bought volumes 1 - 7, all with their own interesting numbered title. I read through it in a single sitting, and anyone who loves old crime noir movies will devour it just the same. I recommend this series without reservation. Azzarello and Risso deliver on all fronts and it shows.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fables: Animal Farm - Review

Revolution Comes Knocking

Snow White and Rose Red are on "The Farm," where all of the non-human Fables go to live that can't blend in around Fabletown in New York City. When they arrive, they find that Weyland Smith, the usual caretaker of The Farm, has vanished. In his place: The 3 Little Pigs. But much like the book Animal Farm by George Orwell, these little piggies have something more devious for sale in their market.

Written by Bill Willingham and published by Vertigo, this collection of Fables is a short arc that brings many of the politics and attitudes of the Fable community into the spotlight. Through the non-human Fables we get a much more dreary look at the situation The Adversary has left them in, and how much of an imprisonment the real world can be when you're not allowed to step outside a fenced in area.

The cast, much like the first volume, is vast and fun. You have Goldilocks, The 3 Bears, Shere Khan, and even the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe. All of which are far from their original cuddly versions. In fact, this might have been the most violent of all the Fables series I've read so far. The violence doesn't take away from the very witty and powerful writing of Willingham, and it only shows how any person, or fictional character for that matter, can be persuaded into revolution if the situation is right.

I arrived late to the game with Fables, but I intend to see it all the way through.

Monday, June 20, 2011

X-Men #12 - Review

Evolution Takes A Dire Turn

The Evolutionaries once appeared before Professor X and the original X-Men years ago when the team consisted of Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Beast, Angel, and Ice-Man, telling them that if there were no official leader of Mutantkind, that no true decision about the fate of humanity could be reached. When they confront the current X-Men on Utopia, Cyclops tries to buy them time to save humanity as the time traveling omniscient beings look for someone else to barter with. After a scuffle, Cyclops loses his window, and they find a person who will speak for Mutantkind -- the Magneto of the past!

Written by Christopher Yost, drawn by Paco Medina and Dalibor Talajic, and published by Marvel, this issue of X-Men was a part 2, which I evidently missed out on part 1. The story was paced well and was more of a science fiction issue than an action issue, dealing with the concept that someone must decide who is more worthy to survive on Earth -- humans or mutants. The artwork is very well done, and has a mix of modern and classic elements to it in terms of line and color. The pacing was well structured, and it kept my attention on every page.

The only drawback that the book might have is that it's all setup, but that's not really a problem if you're following along closely with the X-Men in the Marvel Universe. I'd say it's worth taking a look at, in the sense that Magneto, who has been working as a member of the X-Men, is now going to be working against the past version of himself.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern: Movie - Review

DC's Science Fiction Hard Hitter Gets a Horrible Adaptation

When I had initially seen the first teaser trailer and concept art of the movie version of Green Lantern, I thought that it looked and felt really bad. They tried to swing the fans of comics and science fiction alike when they released a second trailer that tried to play off the space opera tone that the comic book series has. This raised my interest in the film, thinking that they were only marketing the first trailer for the broad audiences. I was wrong.

I don't do this very often, but that's because nothing usually deserves this kind of review -- this movie is God awful. Not only as an adaptation, but as a movie in general. The acting is flat, the direction is sub standard, and the whole movie is anti-climatic and follows very loosely to the source material.

In order to separate the fanboy in me for both mediums, I have two different reviews. The first being strictly as a film, the second as an adaptation of the comic book and characters.

Film Review

The entire movie can't decide whether it's a comedy, an action movie, or a space drama. It tries to rely on Ryan Reynolds just being Ryan Reynolds instead of trying to actually bring any sort of deep character to the main role of Hal Jordan. The jumps from scene to scene are often sharp and without any logical bridge. Some tried to argue that comic books do that, but I know for a fact that even in single panels there is better definition to cause and event.

The acting is something that I can't get over. Reynolds sometimes goes too far, over emoting, but most of the time he's just himself as if he'd walked onto the set of a space movie. The characters are the overly "Mountain Dew" styled aliens and backgrounds, trying to be jagged and over-complicated like the Transformers art direction. This doesn't follow the way that they animate the ring constructs, which often are very cartoon in nature.

There are some parts that look really beautiful, with interesting bright colors and effects. I liked the scene where Jordan creates a pool of water for someone to fall into to prevent them from hitting the ground, and some of the space scenes give a good epic feel to the movie. But uninspired cliches and plot points make the movie feel cut and paste, and it really shows.

Comic Book Adaptation Review

As an adaptation it's just as bad. It takes the basic premise of the origin story and mixes together things that happen so far down the road that it feels like a jumbled mess. Instead of Hal Jordan being the story, the story is the monster Parallax, which is also a complete wrong interpretation of the character. I don't know what it is with comic book movie producers and turning giant creatures into clouds, but it needs to stop. First Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and now in Green Lantern. I don't usually curse in my reviews, but you need to go f*#k yourselves. That's the same sort of thing as if Peter Jackson had done the Lord of the Rings and turned all the Hobbits into lizard creatures instead.

The villains are supposedly all tied together, but the source material has them as completely separate entities. Hector Hammond might have been a better choice to have on his own, corrupted by a piece of alien technology from Abin Sur's ship. The wrong way to do it was tying him to Parallax. Does anyone else wonder how a creature who sucks the life force out of people can give a man telekinesis and super smarts through shocking him with a dead body? That's not just cheesy, that's down right stupid.

The Green Lantern Corps. in the movie apparently only shows up for meetings and doesn't even do it's job. Green Lantern is supposed to be a space opera where a human gets to explore the universe and has thrust upon him the responsibility to help govern the chaos among all of existence's sentient life. Instead, it's a ploy to say "isn't Earth lucky that we have this guy?" Don't get me wrong, Jordan does become a hero on Earth, but it's his adventures in the stars that really define him as a person. He's always been respectful of other cultures and races, something that the other members of the Corps. can't always boast about.

Finally, the ring and suit. Come on. The ring apparently can effortlessly create things. It seems to have nothing to do with being an extension of willpower from the user. The selection of Hal Jordan feels more like a random event than destiny, and his use of the ring is more like a handgun than an actual weapon of will and concentration. It's supposed to be difficult in order to create constructs and maintain them, and it is described as taking years of practice to get at an advanced level. The movie puts him on Oa for maybe five minutes before he gives up and goes home, apparently knowing everything he needs to know.

In conclusion, don't go see this movie. All of my friends and family know that I'm a die hard fan of this character and franchise, but this is the sort of movie that shouldn't have been released. I can only imagine how DC is feeling right now in New York City. Or how Geoff Johns, who has worked so hard to create validity in the mythology of the character, has just been betrayed for all of the hard work he's done.

I don't say this often, but we need a reboot. Please!

I've even decided to pen my own version of a movie and post it for people to read for free as part of my writing portfolio. More information on that as it develops. Unlike the filmmakers, I'm going to actually go read some of the source material again before hand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights - Review

And Then There Was Light

Arisia (Elizabeth Moss) is the newest member of the intergalactic brotherhood of peacekeepers known as The Green Lantern Corps. Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion), her mentor, has to cut her training short when the villainous Krona attacks from the anti-matter universe, threatening to destroy all life in existence. As Arisia prepares for her first large scale battle, Hal tells her the famous stories of Lanterns of old, and how they overcame great odds through will power and facing their fears. But when Krona sets his sights on Oa, the Green Lantern's home world in the center of the universe, Arisia's duty takes her from listener to chronicler of her own legend.

Written by Geoff Johns, Alan Burnett, Peter Tomasi, Eddie Berganza, Todd Casey, Dave Gibbons, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim, this DC Universe released co-directed by Chris Berkeley, Lauren Montgomery, and Jay Oliva is a culmination of six different tales about six different Green Lanterns throughout history. Each story is written by a different pair of writers, and although they have similarities in animation, each has their own unique style and flare when it comes to details, backgrounds, tones, and color palettes. These changes in tones reflect the nature of the characters they're dealing with, and the personalities of the Lanterns in question.

The story of the first rings creation is one of my favorites, which describes how the ability to create hard light constructs through imagination was an effect that not even its creators, the Guardians of the Universe, had predicted. It really gives off a sense that no matter what the odds the right amount of willpower and creativity can defeat the most vile foes. The animation in this story was very colorful, bright, but had very detailed backgrounds against simple characters. It was beautiful to watch.

Another story that stuck out was that of Laira, the Green Lantern who had once been an heir to the empire of The Golden Dragon. Her story revolves around her returning to her home world and having to stop her genocidal family from killing an entire species of people. Her skills as a Green Lantern are only heightened by her training in hand-to-hand combat, which she relies more upon. It really touches on what it means to put yourself above personal squabbles for the betterment of all life in the universe.

My other favorite was the story of Mogo, the "un-social" member of the Green Lantern Corps. The warrior known as Bolphunga The Unrelenting (Rody Piper) has killed all of the great warriors in his galaxy, until he hears of Mogo that is. Not only is Mogo undefeated, he's also a Green Lantern. Bolphunga traces his stories to his last known origin, a deserted forest planet, and dedicates nearly a year searching for him. If you don't know who Mogo is, don't Google his name or look him up, watch this story. Originally created by Alan Moore, he's one of the most beloved Lanterns in the lore.

Even though this film borrows alot of animation style from Green Lantern: First Flight it's in no way a prequel or sequel. It takes place more in the continuity of the comic books or the upcoming film. The best part about it is that Hal Jordan is a minor character, allowing viewers who are going to see the movie the chance to get to know other members of The Green Lantern Corps.

Overall I think it's one of my favorite depictions of the Green Lantern mythos, and I have to admit that I get chills every time a character recites the oath on screen.

Here's hoping the live-action movie does the same thing to me tomorrow night!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DMZ: On the Ground - Vol. One - Review

Wood's Vision of The American Civil War Pt. 2

Brian Wood invites you to take a trip with Matty Roth into the DMZ -- the area of New York City caught between the battle of the United States of America and the Free States of America. On his journey, Matty Roth is abandoned by the Liberty News Corporation and marked for death by anyone holding a weapon. The only thing keeping him alive is his press pass and jacket, which buys him enough time to explain who he is and what he's doing there. His mission changes however, when he realizes how brutal the war actually is, and how both sides seem to be more interested in a win than in what's best for America.

Written by Brian Wood and drawn by Riccardo Burchielli, DMZ is Wood's look at a possible second American Civil War set in the greatest city in the country -- New York City. His interpretation of war and humanity in the urban landscape not only makes readers question America's position on domestic affairs, but on any war that we've engaged in during the past 50 years.

New York City looks more like a third world country than the Big Apple in DMZ, and Roth feels as if he isn't even in his own country anymore. His character development is so well written that you want to continue reading just to see him experience more of the dreary landscape and interesting people. The artwork that accompanies the story is expressive and very detailed. Burchielli really out does himself, even during scenes in which most of the background is untouched white snow.

I've reviewed later issues of DMZ, and I'm really upset that I didn't get into it earlier. These wonderful comics that were being published right under my nose have been overlooked by fans of literature for too long. If you're not reading Wood and Burchielli's work, you're really missing out on something beautiful and important to the comic book medium. It isn't a book that's about things blowing up, it's a book about people trying to pick up the pieces during and after.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dragon Ball Kai: Season 1 - Review

The Classic Gets Revamped!

Ever since it hit big on Cartoon Network's Toonami, Dragon Ball has become just as much of an American classic as it is a Japanese classic. The only problem that some people had is that the TV show Dragon Ball Z, the most popular of the 3 act story (Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT), had too many episodes and felt like it was more fluff than substance. The manga, written and created by Akira Toriyama, was much tighter and leaner, and Funimation felt that the show could be recut and produced to fit that style of storytelling in HD. Thus, Dragon Ball Kai was born.

Kai in this instance means modified. This is exactly what's been done and in the best way possible. In fact, as someone who suffered through the original long run of the show, it feels like a completely different story. The voices have been redubbed and much better dialogue has been written. The show's new pace keeps you on the edge of your seat instead of begging for something exciting to happen, and the clean up of the animation is incredible.

In Season One, the story covers the Saiyan Saga when Raditz, Nappa, and Vegeta attack the Earth. The 13 episode season covers up to the point where Goku and Vegeta start their epic first battle, and considering it took the original show about 23 episodes to get to that point it's a big improvement.

The characters are alot more fleshed out this time around, and Gohan, Goku's son, has a much bigger role to play in terms of his power and abilities. The new voices help in this area, as most of the voice cast and style that was found in the later original run are used right off the bat.

All in all, I think it's an example of how much better you can actually make something by going back and cutting the fat. They did a similar thing with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but it still felt like the original series. Dragon Ball Kai feels like an entirely new take on the animated version of this story, and it's more than welcomed into my mental arsenal of media and literature. If you're an old school Dragon Ball fan, this is the series to make you appreciate it even more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Superman: Earth One - Review

A New Superman For The Ages

If there's one character that is either loved or hated by both those in the comic book community and the world of literature, it's Superman. Even though Clark Kent is comic book lore's first superhero and major character, his powers, ideals, and mission have seemed lost on audiences for a very long time. His ability to beat anyone and always acting as the boy scout has had him eclipsed by darker and more brooding characters like Batman. But J. Michael Straczynski has changed all that with his story, Superman: Earth One.

Earth One refers to the fact that there are 52 different parallel Earths in the DC Universe, in which 52 different versions of all of the heroes and villains live. In this universe, Clark Kent has just gone for a week to search for a job in Metropolis after the death of his father, Jonathan Kent. He has no idea where he got his powers, but is trying to find a job that will allow him to support his mother Martha and use his powers to help people. When the city is attacked by an alien extermination force looking for the Last Son of Krypton, Clark is forced into a role that his adopted Earth parents had mentally prepared him for when he was younger, and hoped he would aspire to be someday.

The wonderful thing about this incarnation of The Man of Tomorrow is that he doesn't set out to stop criminals or save the world. He does encounter a mugger in the beginning of the story, but does nothing to stop the situation except escape. He instead tries to use his advanced intelligence and physical skills to find work that would better mankind indirectly, not wanting to step out into the spotlight. It's this take on the character that really intrigues me. At no point when he found out he had powers was he thinking, "I should be a superhero." Instead Clark thinks practically about how he can be an ordinary person and help humanity the old fashioned way. He is only forced into the role of Superman near the end of the story, and accepts that it's the best way he can contribute to a world that might not be able to deal with threats that loom in the depths of space and human hearts.

The artwork by Shane Davis is very striking, and paints a much more realistic color scheme for the world of Metropolis. It feels like most Superman stories are over-saturated with colorful buildings and characters, and although he still wears his classic colors and battles a villain with a seriously different skin pattern, it still feels more genuine that other incarnations I've seen before. The pacing and tone of the artwork completely compliments the story, and I couldn't picture it being done any other way.

Green Lantern: Secret Origins has become my definitive origin story for Hal Jordan, and I think that Straczynski and Davis have crafted the definitive origin story for Superman for this generation. I would love to see a continuation of this character and his views on the world and being an outsider. This book was an impulse read, but I'm so glad that I picked it up. Anyone who has ever felt like they didn't belong, but still wanted to achieve something out of life should read this book. Superman fans of old and those looking to give the character a new fighting chance, rejoice, this book is for all of you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kevin Smith's Green Hornet: Sins of the Father Vol. 1 - Review

Smith's Hornet Stings True

When Britt Reid hangs up his mantle as The Green Hornet and he decides to focus more on his family and business, Britt Reid Jr. continues his never ending struggle to make life a living hell for his father. With his girlfriend leaving him, his celebutante status making a mockery of his life, and the strong hatred he has for his father, Britt Jr. decides that it might be time to start looking at what it is he has to offer his family, friends, and his city. But tragedy finds him quicker than he can right his wrongs, and a new villain in Century City appears -- The Black Hornet! With Britt's father murdered before his very eyes and with the help of a new female Kato, Britt Reid Jr. has discovered his father's secret and pledged to avenge him.

Based on a screenplay that Kevin Smith wrote for Miramax and that Phil Hester adapted into a comic book series for Dynamite Entertainment, Kevin Smith's Green Hornet is an interesting modern take on the character with new protagonists and a 21st century feel. Leaving the original Hornet and his style of crime fighting in the past makes sense, and the fact that a new Hornet would have to devise a way to operate in our technology heavy world shows through enough that it makes the premise of The Green Hornet existing very real.

I also really like the fact that it's a continuation of how it all started in the first place. For those only familiar with the 2011 film starring Seth Rogan, Britt Reid originally gets the idea when he finds out he's a descendant of The Lone Ranger, who was created by both George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, the same team that created The Green Hornet. I feel like this is an important part of the story and that many modern day interpretations of the Reids brush over or don't include this fact. The tradition is kept up in Smith's version and I'm glad that it made its way back to mainstream audiences.

The artwork by Jonathan Lau is very fluid, and the covers by Alex Ross are mesmerizing. It makes me want a more traditional styled Hornet movie than Gondry's version.

To sum it all up folks, this Hornet stings. It's the book that really surprised me so far this year, and I can't wait to read more of it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men: First Class - Review

Peace Was Never An Option

Based on the short comic book run by the same name, X-Men: First Class follows the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) during their adolescent and young adult years. When the Hellfire Club, led by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), decides to start WW III in order to destroy all normal human life, it's up to Charles and Erik to gather a group of mutants who can stand against him and his lovely but deadly right hand woman, Emma Frost (January Jones). The only question is, who should the mutants really be worried about fighting? The Hellfire Club or their own government?

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, First Class is the first Marvel movie to utilize a period piece setting for its popular characters. The setting, which is when the X-Men were first introduced to the world by Marvel Comics, completely fits the tone of the civil rights movement and what it means to be considered an actual citizen of America. It also covers the broad topic of what it's like to be a young person who is different and going through changes that no one understands, but almost every X-Men story does that nowadays.

The movie overall is well paced, has some awesome and dramatic moments both with Charles and Erik, and lets the world see a more fantastic and less extreme version of the X-Men. The shining part of this film however is the outstanding performances by McAvoy and Fassbender, who I think played their characters even better than Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen did. Not that Stewart and McKellen didn't give great performances, I just think that they had the disadvantage of not being the story's main focus.

That being said, the best parts of this movie are the parts where Charles and Erik argue or collaborate for the greater good of mutant kind. The scenes where Erik goes on a rampage, hunting down the people responsible for his parents death, is the kind of comic book action that makes you want to pump your fist in the air.

The style of the movie feels very much like a mixture of Mad Men and James Bond with the X-men flair thrown into it. The supporting cast wasn't a bad group, but many of the characters felt rushed or lacked depth. It's to be expected with an action movie, especially one that relies on special effects, but the main characters are all well played and make the movie authentic. Kevin Bacon's role as Shaw was actually quite entertaining, and I would love to see him play more roles similar to this one.

The only thing that might put people off is the fact that this movie is set in the film version of the X-Men universe, so the actual source material characters are no where to be found. Instead of having Cyclops, Ice Man, Angel, Beast, and Jean Grey, the X-Men consists of Banshee, Darwin, Havok, Mystique, Beast, Magneto, and Professor X. Considering they wanted to stay true to the audiences of the movies, it wouldn't make sense for them to try and start it all over with the characters being born in a different decade.

Some of the aspects of the film I didn't like were that they called a character by the wrong name, Pixie, who was called Angel in the film, and that the character of Banshee was just so horrible. The scenes where they teach him to fly, which really comes out of nowhere, were goofy and very cheesy. The only other thing that was weird was that many of the villains never spoke. Azazel and Riptide (who they never mention by name once or has a single line of dialogue) are basically just present for special effects and have nothing to contribute to the story.

That being said, it's probably the best X-Men movie I've ever seen. It's a wonderful start to the official summer blockbusters that are going to be filling the theater.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape - Vol. 1 - Review

Jack's Spin-Off is Nimble and Killer!

Jack the Giant Killer AKA Jack-Be-Nimble AKA Jack of Tales has made a name for himself with Nimble Pictures, a movie production company that has a whole stable of films starring everyone’s favorite Fable. But when Fabletown finds out about Jack’s money and dealings, his billions and title are stripped from him and he’s sent on a road trip across the world of the Mundanes (normal people). When he gets abducted by a group of “librarians” who want to put him in a retirement community for Fables, it’s up to Jack to break out the imprisoned storybook characters from the clutches of the evil Mr. Revise.

Written by Bill Willingham and published by Vertigo, Jack of Fables takes one of Fables greatest characters and gives him a very deserved spin-off series. The humor and style of Fables is still present, but Jack of Fables is more of an action story right off the bat. Jack’s violent and hilarious tales always keep the pages turning and the panels popping, and the constant inclusion of storybook characters who might not have appeared in the Fables universe otherwise is a great opportunity to explore more of the world that they live in.

Jack’s character is the over-the-top action hero, but with his own smarmy charm added to it. The great thing about having a main character like Jack is that he could do anything at anytime, based on any reasoning he sees fit. He loves being selfish, but he always has these moments where he genuinely wants to help people. It’s this sort of trait and flaw that makes him such a fun character to follow. His dialogue is snappy, his presence is larger than life, and the fact that he’s hard to kill due to his immortality makes it fun to watch him mess up and bite it, hard.

The series ended recently with issue #50, but I’m very anxious to dive deeper into the Jack of Fables story, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next two volumes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rebooting the DC Universe

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee Breathe New Life Into DC

What you're looking at above is the new Justice League of America, completely redesigned and re-written by DC Comics writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee. After this summer's event called Flashpoint, the two famous creators are going to reboot the DC Universe, starting each character off at issue #1. Lee has completely redesigned each main character that DC has to offer, and the story lines are going to be modified to fit today's audience.

Johns and Lee are two of my favorite comic book creators, but I feel like this is a bit risky. The potential to have this turn out better than any run of these characters is there, because Johns and Lee are known for doing incredible adaptations of comic book characters. What Johns did for Green Lantern and Lee did for Batman could now be spread over the entire DC line of titles.

The drawback that I'm sensing is that we might lose loads of characters and story lines we love to the reboot. I've read that Superman and Wonder Woman will be romantically involved, so where does that leave Lois Lane? What about Tim Drake and Dick Grayson? Are the Robins all going to have never existed? Or, on a much bigger scale, what about the Sintestro Corps War and the other three human Green Lantern members?

This is a very gutsy move on their part, and I'm interested in seeing where they go with it. You can be assured that I'll be reviewing a bunch of these titles as they're released.