Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Novels Get Graphic: The Alcoholic

Wandering around Borders Sunday night, I had a 40% of coupon burning a hole in my pocket, this little graphic novel caught me eye on the shelf. Picking it up for a close look and flipping through it pretty much decided my purchase right then and seeing it was written by Jonathan Ames cemented the sale. While I've never gotten around to reading any of his books, I hear good things though, I loved the few episodes of Bored to Death I have seen (a series he created for HBO) so I thought I would give his graphic novel a chance and man am I glad I did.

The Alcoholic tells the story of Jonathan A., our "fictional" protagonist and title character. A writer who has had quite a few experiences in his life, not unlike the writer of this work from what I've read, and regales us with the exploits, emotions, and experiments that have led him to where he is today. Sharing every dirty joke and heart-breaking moment, "Jonathan A." puts it all out on the table for the reader to see and relate to.

I, like most readers I'm sure, saw a lot of my own life in Jonathan's. The scripted phone calls of youth with a best friend, never knowing the right thing to say over the phone to the girl in the white dress, and the fear/dreams of what I would be like as a teacher are just a few of the examples I am willing to admit to knowing a little something about but it certainly doesn't end there. Most "somewhat autobiographical" comics speak of the qualities we want to see in ourselves through others, while this one makes you see those in addition to throwing in those ones you would like to deny.

Johnathan Ames and Dean Haspiel (the artist) really knocked it out of the park with this one. Bleeding heart and humor from every page, this dynamic duo provides us with a graphic novel that shies away from nothing and experiences everything. Whether its the awkward sexual experiences of puberty, the crazy drug trips of college and beyond, the heartbreak of relationships ending, or the cruel timing life has sometimes; the words and panels bring us into a world bearing a striking resemblance to own, although this one is a lot more honest about what its like. So if your like myself and love a good tale about about a drunken writer, do yourself a favor and check this one out. A solid 4 out of 5 in my book, well really blog but you get the idea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wednesday Pickups 7/21/10

In an attempt to get back to a steady routine, going to knockout last week's books today and get this week's up on Thursday but I am sure something will throw a wrench in that plan somewhere. Without further ado, a much leaner stack than the last few weeks both in number and quality.

First up we have another one of DC's "After Watchmen... What's Next?" $1 reprints, Transmetropolitan #1. Decided to pick it up so I didn't only read superhero books this week and it is certainly pretty far from those. Brought to us by Warren Ellis (writer) and Darick Robertson (artist) Transmetropolitan focuses on a writer pulled back into the fray of the city and its politics from his secluded cabin he had grown quite a custom to. Not a bad book over all, art is good while the writing is a bit different from most of the Ellis' stuff I've read but maintains his intellect. The reason I don't think I will be picking up any more of it (at least not for a while) is its immense level of political and social criticism, which seems to almost suffocate any other aspect in it. I could definitely see myself picking it up at some point and enjoying the hell out of it but right now its just not what I am looking for in a comic.

Over in the Ultimate Marvel U, we have a double feature of Ultimate New Ultimates #3 and Ultimate Avengers 2 #5, and lets add ultimate to this sentence one more time just so I can assure myself the Guinness World Record. UNU has me torn. On one side I liked a somethings about it (the art, Valkyrie's back story, Hawkeye used the bow again) but on the other hand there was a lot I didn't like (a weird series of panels featuring preggo Hela, the generic regrouping after getting demolished last issue and elements like that, pretty much any conversation involving Danvers, etc). Feels like its getting harder and harder to justify this one to myself every month, probably going to make a decision after the next issue. UA2 is a bit better. Still interested in this Ghost Rider story but it definitely could have been a smaller arc because ts moving at a snail's pace! The characters are the big pull for me on this one, they just clash so well with each other you want to be around to see it. Only real complaint about the book (besides the stretching of the arc) is the look of Ghost Rider's last target. If you take a look inside the book you'll figure it out but lets just say demon variation is a good thing.

Shifting over to the 616 we have New Mutants #15, the first issue after second coming. Kicking of the arc "Fall of the New Mutants" we find the team going on a little vacation to rest and regroup after everything they went through. We find out they are not the only ones to recently return from limbo and that yet another person may have a bone to pick with Magick. Loved Leonard Kirk's art, that man can draw one hell of an mutated soldier, but a few of the main cast looked a bit wrinkled. Story is solid as well giving us a taste of where Warlock and Magick's minds are but I could use a bit more insight into the effects of Second Coming on Doug. Beers are downed and there may or may not be a drunken make out followed by the soldier's strike. I think this story could be a jumping on point for those who have been staying away from our favorite second class mutants*. (*Lame joke about them being Professor X's second class but depending on how you define each group that passed through Xavier's doors they could be anywhere from second to fourth.)

Jumping across town to the Distinguished Competition the Brightest Day banner strikes gain with a double feature. First up is Brightest Day proper #6. In this issue good ole detective JJ goes searching for "the other martian", our favorite odd couple pop some bubble gum while suffering a hangover, Deadman discovers something tasty to live for, and Mera spills her guts about her people and their hatred for the Atlanteans. I know I have been down on this book for being slow but I think it is coming into its stride. Sure we still aren't getting every character in every issue but you don't miss them to much and some of these developments are really getting interesting. Art is still awesome, this week showcasing a nice panel of "the other martian" feasting and a splash page of Arthur and Mera's life together. Looking forward to the next issue and hopefully them getting to Osiris at some point. Next is JSA #41, part 2 of the JSA/JLA crossover. Mark Bagley's art is good, has a sort of classic JLA feel in my opinion. Robinson's story on the other hand brings to mind the image of a bar bathroom on a weekend night. With the big casts of both books its hard to really get much enjoyment out of the few panels most of them get and the one word balloon they get to put their view in perspective, except for Wildcat who got a good couple pages at the beginning. Going to flip through the next chapter at the shop but I am betting I will take a pass.

Finally we finish off with two DC books utlizing characters from THE FUTURE!!! First is Time Masters: Vanishing Point #1 of 6. Good art and while I am a big fan of Booster Gold and Rip, I am going to wait for the rest of this in trade paperback if I ever get it. Rip is the only character that seems interestingly written in the book, even Booster who Dan Jurgens (the writer) has experience with seems one dimensional. Add that to it being $3.99 an issue and it has been put on the back burner. Lastly is Batman Beyond #2 of 6, my pick of the week. Kept the awesomeness of last issue moving at full steam with the addition of a new Catwoman and explanation of how Hush "died". Art is keeping it up as well, with the flashback fight between Bruce and Hush and the future day Catwoman and Terry's ariel show hold your gaze steadily. Like I mentioned before I am probably a little biased because I love the characters and era but this mini-series is all kind of sweetness.

That is all for this week, not as great as the last few but still some gems in there. Usual routine, leave any comments or suggestions below. What book do I need to check out that hasn't made an appearance yet? Hoping to get some game and tpb reviews up soon, so be on the look out for those.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wednesday Pickups 7/14/10

Huge week based on more than a few impulse buys and recommendations. So large in fact I couldn't fit is all on the table in one photo, so lets get right into it:

First up we have the first three issues of Kill Shakespeare. Now a normal person would probably try the first issue (or just one issue) to see if they like the book before picking them all up but the collector inside took control when I saw it was the last issue of numbers one and two on the stands. Enjoying this book from cover to cover, starting with the title (ala Kill Bill). Although I am not the most familiar with the bard's tales, only read Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and The Sonnets, the story stands on its own while still paying homage to his great plays and stories. After the murder of his Father and his own bloody soaked deed sweet prince Hamlet, our protagonist, is banished to England but his after mysterious visions and a pirate attack ends up on the shores of the land belonging to King Richard the III (a real historical character who I always thought got the shaft in Shakespeare's play after reading The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, but that is a tale for another time.) Richard explains to Hamlet the prophecies of his land that claim The Shadow King (Hamlet) is going to save them from the tyranny of William Shakespeare, and lures him to his cause of assassination with promises of resurrecting Hamlet's father. Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col (the writers) breath new life and alternate stories into these age old characters which any reader can enjoy and coupled with Andy Belanger's art make for one fine comic series, definitely a new addition to the monthly pull list.

Moving on to another impulse buy we have the $1 reprint of Jonah Hex #1. This was my first taste of the character and while it was good and ok, nothing really makes me want to pick up the book regularly. The art showcases the old west quite nicely and the story was decent. Reminiscent of and "Old West" Punisher, Johan sticks to his guns and makes those committing monstrosities pay the ultimate price. While I see the appeal to most the book just isn't for me. If that sounds like something you might be interested in though you should not hesitate to shell out one buck for this book.

Next up is the latest book from the Icon imprint of Marvel, Scarlet #1. In this new book Bendis and Maleev introduce us to innocent runaway turned armed savior Scarlet. While I initially passed on picking up the book, I am glad I went back and checked it out. With a breath of fresh air, the story is told by our protagonist narrating and breaking the fourth wall all while questioning her own very sanity. Drawn a bit grittier than my usual picks, it fits the story well and I for one can't wait to pick up the issue (the bi-monthly schedule is going to be annoying though.) Also if you read reviews comparing it to Kick-Ass, I have to almost entirely disagree. Despite liking both I was not reminded of Kick-Ass at all while reading this.

Going for dark and gritty to bright and yellow we have Comic Book Guy The Comic Book #1. While its been years since I have really enjoyed anything Simpsons I decided to give this one a shot and was pleasantly surprised. This one had me cracking up at every turn of the page and the alternate covers (all recreations of famous comic death covers) featured inside instead of shipping with 4 different ones was a great move. Filled with mockery nerd humor in vintage Comic Book Guy fashion this one is sure to entertain those who remember those great Simpsons episodes of yesteryear (and who knows maybe some descent ones from recent history if you've seen any.)

My largest pick up of the week was the awesome one-shot/prelude The Man With The Getaway Face. Another one I hadn't planned on getting till I saw that over sized bad boy sitting on the shelf and for only two bucks. This adaptation of Richard Stark's Parker novel of the same name is amazingly well handled by Darwyn Cooke, who did both the illustrations and the adapting of the story. Covering one heist this comic is perfect for those looking to get into Parker's world or just enjoy a single comic. I think Cooke and IDW's ploy of putting this out as a slick one shot is going to get me to check out the previous graphic novel or the one soon to be released.

Going straight from this week's tallest book to the smallest we have The Stuff of Legend Vol. 2 The Jungle, Part 1. I was originally going to wait for this to be collected but couldn't resist the temptation to check back in with our favorite toys on a mission. This title follows a group of toys set to the task of tracking down their master in the dark, closet world of the sinister Boogeyman. After narrowing escaping the town of Hopscotch our favorite play things are going to have to pass through the Boogeyman's army as well as the creatures that inhabit this jungle. Can't say enough good things about this book. The first collected edition I have of volume one was a book I could not put down and could not stop talking about when asked what I was reading. If you get the chance definitely pick up the first TPB of this book, you will not be disappointed.

Over at Marvel we have an X-Men quadruple feature! Kicking things of with Second Coming Revelations: Hellbound #3 of 3, we find Sam's strike force failing at their mission but providing a nice little bonus tale to Second Coming none the less. Not necessary reading for the even but it does provide a little more story/set up for the ongoing Magick/Pixie soul-feud. Besides the spectacularly drawn limbo the highlight of this issue are some killer burns from Cannonball towards Gambit. Concluding this epic X-Event, next is X-Men: Second Coming #2 (Chapter 14.) A fitting end to great crossover, split into four chapters to allow all the creators working on the event to each get their own little wrap up. I had planned on leaving a lot X-books behind after this event but think I will be at least checking out how all our merry mutants begin their next chapters. Almost as a second conclusion The Heroic Age: Uncanny X-Men One-shot offers us a bit more perspective in to Cyclops, Beast, and Hope through their conversations with Steve Rodgers, Molly Hayes, and Reed Richards respectively. All three make for interesting tales but I really enjoyed the dialogue between two of Marvel's greatest leaders. Last of the X-titles but certainly not least we have X-Force: Sex and Violence #1 of 3. Showcasing some spectacularly bloody art work from Gabriele Dell'Otto, we find Domino in a bad situation facing off against the assassin's guild. Making her way back to the safe house to get healed by Elixer and interrogated by Wolverine, she begrudgingly picks up the former to help her out and more than mentions the recent sexual tension between the two. Can't wait for the next issue as I am slowly falling in love with everything modern X-force.

Hopping over to sexy and violent I checked out the second issue of Hack/Slash: My First Maniac. Just as gorgeous as the first issue in this issue Cassie makes some new friends and edges closer to meeting Farmer Fig and his gore tactics of dealing with promiscuous teens. I know I said it when I pick up the first issue of this but I really need to check out some of the TPBs of the ongoing series.

From lady slayers to lady spies we move over to Frenemy of The State #2. Still digging this book although this issue did seem to drag a little. Humor was a little more on the stale side as well, hopping next issue picks both up a bit.

Jumping into my DCU books for the week we have Justice League Generation Lost #5 and Booster Gold #34. Not to much action over in JLGL but this issue really solidifies the guys and girls as a team, as they start getting all up in each others' business. The art is still awesome and the beginning and ending scenes of Booster's past were a great story addition. This book is quickly rising up the ranks as one of my favorites out of DC. In Booster's solo book he continues his quest to get evidence of Maxwell Lord from the past but get sidetracked and roped into and adventure with Ted Kord (the former Blue Beetle.) Wasn't exactly thrilled with Chris Batista's art on this one but the story and humor are still keeping me around. Well that and you have got to love a villain named Hieronymous, The Under-Achiever!

Saving the best for last (although a lot of books were really amazing this week) we have the monthly Vertigo double feature of The Unwrittern and Daytripper. In The Unwritten #15 Count Ambrosio makes his play for Tommy, Lizzie gets back to her roots, and the question some of the questions surrounding Wilson Taylor are answered. This book is still running strong and shows no signs of slowing down and the latest opening passage from the "Taylor novels", this latest being from the new fake one, has got to be my favorite. Pick of the week should come as no surprise to anyone I have talked comics with in the last few months, Daytripper #8 is just as (if not more) amazing than its previous issues. Bras' career as an author is going well and in this issue he is no where to be seen due to work related travel. Despite being absent except for emails, phone calls, and old fashion letters his presence and effect on Ana and little Miguel's lives are tremendously felt. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (the Brazilian creator duo responsible for this master piece, who also happen to be brothers) consistently put out a book with more soul than 90% of the stuff on the market! Anxiously awaiting the final two issues of this limited series knowing full well I am that I am going hate this ride ending.

That is it for last week, but you know the deal. Leave and comments, suggestions, lewd remarks below and I will be happy to comment back. This week's stack is significantly shorter so look for that in next few days so I can back to a regular posting routine.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In Theaters: Inception

(Disclaimer: I pretty much love everything I have seen directed by Christopher Nolan or starring Joesph Gordon-Levitt so when they got together I was destined to love it. For the reader's sake I will try to keep my man-love in check for these two artists.)

"With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there's nothing in it
And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind?" - The Pixies

Let me begin by saying I have been looking forward to this film since the credits rolled the first time I saw The Dark Knight, which with a little quick math comes out to be a day short of two years, and it did not disappoint. Christopher Nolan bring us yet another fully realized (or not quite fully realized depending on your point of view) vision that lures us into the enchanting land of dreams and movie magic.

The premise, a mind thief named Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) goes into people's dreams and steals their ideas or secrets to be sold to the highest bidder. A skill that proves to be an immensely popular in the corporate world and nets very good returns until he is caught by a mark and persuaded into a job that could bring him the thing he wants most in the real world. While that may sound a little vague it is intentional in that I am trying to avoid spoiling anything. I found the narrative to be captivating as it kept me glued to the screen just as much as the moving pictures. The one thing I could have used more of was supporting character back story, but with the moving clocking in at about two and half hours that might have been pushing it. (Although I think there is a prequel online comic somewhere that might deal more with their stories.)

Getting to the characters, acting was great across the board. DiCaprio and Joesph Gordon-Levitt deliver the excellent performance I have to come to expect of them while Tom Hardy, Ellen Paige, and Marion Cotillard (rounding out the major players) also contribute fine performances to the film. The stars that truly shined in this one though, were probably behind the camera.

Cinematography, Editing, Special Effects, and Sound are all great! The perfect blend of all four comes in the hallway/van scene (you'll know which one I'm referring to while your watching but it is also pictured in the poster at the top of this review) which I could watch all day. More variation in shot type would have been welcome to see the world from every angle but the amount and types of camera movement more than made up for it.

Overall, I have to give this one a 5 out 5 for how much I enjoyed it as an intelligent summer blockbuster. Easily the best of the year so far but we will see if it holds up to the November Oscar-bait, maybe Nolan will get some Academy recognition. So go see it and let me know your thoughts and opinions below.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thursady Pickups 7/8/10

Delayed this week due to comics coming out Thursday but hoping to get back on track next week. Another large haul so lets jump right in.

Starting with DC we have Brightest Day: The Atom Special One-Shot. Overall it was a descent comic. The art was well drawn, particularly shining through well framed panels, and the story was useful retelling of the Atom's origins, something I never knew. My one complaint with the comic is that it is a lead in prologue a second feature soon starting in Adventure Comics. Its bad enough when one-shots are lead in for mini-series but making one for a second feature seems even worse to me. While I have become a fan of the Atom since Identity Crisis, I don't think I will be picking up another book every month just to read a second feature story starring him.

Continuing with Brightest Day, we have issue #5 of the main book. The art is awesome! The Aquaman and Hawkman portions (with the respective significant others) are worth the price of admission themselves. On the story side it finally seemed to pick up a little this issue. While only focusing on three of the plot lines they all seemed to pick up my interest in one way or another especially the reveal at the end of the issue. Looks like I will be sticking around for at least a little while longer.

Up next we have JSA All-Stars #8, a book I have really been on the edge of dropping. Think this issue finally turned it around for me in that Freddie Williams III art fells right drawing these characters now, much like it did when I enjoyed his work on Robin. The new arc kicking off has got me interested as well. Add all that in with a lot of my favorite JSAers being in the regular cast and I think I will continue picking up for quite a while. The second feature still isn't doing to much for me but you win some, you lose some.

Over in Gotham City we have Batman And Robin #13 and Red Robin #14. Dick and Damien are starting a new chapter with artist Frazer Irving. I for one am really torn over his art work, there are some panels that I find stunning but others I cringe at. For now the gorgeous outweighs the grotesque (accompanied by Quietly's cover and Morrison's Script) so I will be staying on. Got to love Robin taking a crowbar to the Joker, nice little parallel to A Death In The Family. Over in Red Robin Tim is advancing on his hit list, apprehending a few more super criminals but the list has more than just villains on it. The evolution of Tim Drake/Wayne (both from former writer Christopher Yost and the current one Fabian Nicieza) keeps me coming back for more every month along with Marcus To's pencils which really fit the book. I know most people are passing on this for the higher profile bat-family titles but in my opinion this gives all of them a run for their money.

Moving over to marvel we Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1 of 9. In one word, Awesome! Haven't read too much of the Younger Avengers since the series was cancelled but this reminds me of everything I loved about that book. Teen hero angst, great art (such as the opening page team shot), and characters I can relate to more than Cap, Thor, or Iron Man. Really looking forward to where this book is going and seeing how the Scarlet Witch issue resolves.

On the west coast our merry mutants are nearing the end of one chapter and beginning another. X-Men #1 starts off with a most interesting bang! The art is solid, story of Vampires vs. Mutants is a nice draw, and who knows this book might finally make my least favorite X-men of all time (Jubilee) interesting. If you have are a fan of where the Marvel-U has been going with mutants you probably already picked this up, but if not I recommend giving it a try. X-Force #28 (Second Coming Chapter #13) brings us one step closer to end of this epic crossover concluding next week. Can't say enough about this event, I LOVE IT! Any X-fan who passed really needs to pick up the trades when they start coming out and even if you not an X-fan give it a try, you might just end up liking it. In this issue another hero falls and Bastion engages our battle weary mutants one last time. Also, I might have mentioned it before but Mike Choi's art has such a slick, cinematic feel that compliments the X-Force chapters immensely.

Moving on to the non-super hero stories we have two books from last week that a few of my favorite comic podcasters could not gush about enough. First up is The Royal Historian of Oz #1. Thanks to boys over at The Pull List Podcast I picked up this gem and loved it. Our protagonist (Frank) is the son of a man obsessed with Oz lore, L. Frank Baum, and becoming the next "Royal Historian of Oz" (the appointed person who to write stories in Baum's world). Frank's dad stumbles on to some slippers that lets him actually visit Oz and things look to be spiralling out of control from there. I highly recommend checking out this first issue and if you need even more incentive it retails for the low price of $1!

Next, coming with high praise from the guys over at Burnt Wieners (in addition to praise from The Pull List guys) is Unknown Soldier #21. While I have never read an issue of Unknown Soldier I had to pick up this more stand alone tale after I heard it is told from the perspective of a single AK-47. A great read and while the art didn't strike me as anything to spectacular it fit well with the story. Probably won't be checking out the rest of the book to soon as it is getting cancelled but I am dumbfounded on why if most issues are this good. A must read out for any mature comic fan!

Lastly is my pick of the week, Casanova: Luxuria #1. Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon created a terrific over the top spy story here that I was hooked on from the first few pages. I believe this is a reprint of the first issue of the series but I am still looking into as I heard nothing about it before picking it off the shelf. Features all the super spy staples in spades (beautiful women, gadgets galore, and a staring contest with with a trio of mutated monks) in glorious art work. Even had a bonus interview with Matt Fraction on some of his inspirations for the book. Definitely either going to pick up this series in reprints or track down the trade.

That is it for this week. I did pick up Hawkeye and Mockingbird #2 but my issue was missing several pages so I am leaving it off for now. Feel free to leave and comments, thoughts, or suggestions below. Also, the podcasts I mentioned are link at the top of the page so be sure to check out those guys, listening to them is a lot more interesting than reading my reviews. See you in a few days with this weeks books since I am posting this so late.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When Novels Get Graphic: 45

(This is going to be my first graphic novel/trade paper back review for the blog, hopefully of many. The title links to the amazon listing of the book so you know exactly what I am talking about but I really recommend checking your local shop first if you intend to purchase it.)

The meat and potatoes of the comic book world is super heroes stories and while I certainly love that genre, more so than I should sometimes, it just isn't for everyone. Some people will scoff the idea of taking any story involving super heroes seriously. My recommendation: take those people (and yourself if you haven't already) and make them read 45, a graphic novel that captures the human side of super heroes better than almost anything out there.

45 tells the tale of journalist James Stanley dealing with the idea of becoming a father, and possibly becoming the father of a Super-S (those with super powers.) To explore the world of Super-S's that he might soon be forced into, James goes on a global journey to interview with forty-five Super-S or Super-S related people. The interviews he conducts are then what we, as the reader, read in the book matched up with an illustration of the interviewee. Through his voyage we meet some of his world's greatest heroes, Super-S children with great futures ahead, those that have hung up the tights, and even a villain or two. More importantly, however, we meet forty-five people whose life we experience in the length of two pages (the illustration and the interview.)

Addiction, sexuality, strained family relationships, commercialism, obsessions, egos, mortality, government control, and war torn countries are just a sampling of the issues these people are facing and where the reader can find a bit of themselves. Better still, all of this is prominent with out being just dramatic but featuring action (Super-S's do like to duke it out), humor (a 18 year old Super-S who faces the tremendous problem of picking his Alter ego name), and thrills (two child births.) While the stories told are awesome, I was almost more excited about the slick style of the book when I first heard about it and it did not disappoint.

Written and created by Andi Ewington, the entire graphic novel is written as one-page interviews coupled up with an illustration by some of the comic industries' greatest talent. The art on these one page illustrations is amazing, perfectly matching their stories and sometimes being a story unto themselves. All of this while still slipping in the overall narrative of James Stanley dealing with the idea of being the father of a Super-S is pretty amazing. Ewington has created a world that I hope is returned to in one way or another, possibly more interviews or maybe even a mini-series or two.

Totting a $17.99 the book is an amazing deal clocking in at around 130 pages with tons of sketch art, bonus interviews, and even a glossary of terms from the 45 world (my favorite is a Vader which is a superhero turned villain.) If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking it up and easily give it a 5 out of 5.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wednesday Pickups 6/30/10

A bit of a delay in getting to this weeks reviews up due to a shifted work schedule, picking up a few more books than I expected, and the time suck Blur has become on my life. So with out further ado, the awesome camera-phone photography you read these posts for:

First up is the latest $1 preview comic from Radical, After Dark. A dark futuristic world is the setting for this book (think Bladerunner with a dash of The Fifth Element) where two uneasy allies are partnered up to track down a mythical "Angel". I will probably be passing on this one when it comes out regularly though, while the art was cool, especially the clash of darkness and light, the story just wasn't doing it for me. Although I do love these $1 previews from Radical so I hope they keep making them.

Next is Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #2 out from Avatar. A bit of a let down from the first issue but it is hard to compare them with the lengthy gap in between. Art is still great with some breathtaking electrical pirate ship panels from Raulo Caceres. The story on the other hand seems to drag in this issue. While we get a little more background on Captain Swing and what he is doing ultimately nothing else really happens. Since the miniseries is already half way through I am going to keep picking it up in issue form but, I am betting it reads better in one sitting. So if your on the fence about this one, I would recommend waiting for the trade.

Jumping over to Dark Horse we have Star Wars: Dark Times #17, the final issue of the Blue Harvest arc and apparently for the year. I have been really enjoying Mick Harrison (the writer) and Douglas Wheatley's (the artist) work on this book. This issue is on par with rest of the series, the only think I didn't like about it being it was essentially turned into a season finale type thing with Dass Jennir's final fate still to be revealed and the book not continuing till next year. Hopefully the wait will be worth it but, I am a sucker for a Jedi tale in a republic-less universe.

In the Marvel U we have two books that are part of The Heroic Age, Secret Avengers #2 and Hawkeye and Mockingbird #1. Despite not being really interested in any of the new Avenger lineups Secret Avengers is really pulling me in. All of the team (except for Valkyrie, don't know anything about her) are bring something to Brubaker's story. The art is not to shabby either although I have to ask why everyone else wears air tight space suits and Beast's extremities are exposed? ;) Probably going to be picking this one up for the foreseeable future. Hawkeye and Mockingbird is a book I didn't plan on picking up but am ultimately glad I did. Seeing Hawkeye back in the purple and blue was making it rain was a treat and beautifully done by David Lopez. I am looking forward to see what this book does with the characters, granted I don't know all the ins and outs of their relationship but the the backup feature telling summarizing their adventures was pretty good.

Starting off a DC quintuple feature we have Teen Titans #84. Overall I am losing interest in this book. While the art is still pretty descent, the under water panels being especially well done, the writing and characters are just not keeping me interested. I am not dropping it immediately but all of this on top of the $3.99 price and a back up story I really don't care about, Teen Titans is getting closer to the chopping block.

On the opposite end of the spectrum Justice Society of America is going to keep me coming back for more. Issue #40 is the conclusion of Fatherland and while it ended in true alternate history fixing fashion the ride was enjoyable and it should play interestingly into the upcoming JSA/JLA Crossover. The major change in Obsidian personality somewhat seemed odd to me but I am going to see where it goes before writing it off entirely.

Speaking of the JLA/JSA crossover, I picked up the first issue (Justice League of America #46, a Brightest Day tie in) which seems odd when read immediately after JSA #40. Obsidian and Green Lantern are MIA while this Star-heart that has crashed to earth is messing with all magical and elemental begins causing them to act irrationally. This is the first time I am seeing the new team in action since all the younger heroes took over the show and while I do like the line up (big fan of Supergirl and Jade especially) it just doesn't seem like the JLA with none of the big heroes on it (Grayson-Batman doesn't count.) Mark Bagley's pencils handle the action, characters, and green constructs quite well. Hopefully the crossover features some moments making me see the kids as the JLA.

The other Brightest Day tie in of the week is Green Lantern #55. Hal and the other Lantern heads are forced up against Lobo ensuing in an issue long battle that is a joy to look at. Not a big fan of Lobo but I really dig the story aspect of him coming after Atrocitus, not to mention it enable us to witness a battle between Lobo's dog and the red lantern cat Dex-starr (who's origin is revealed in short back up tale.) All in all a good book that is giving me more interest into this New Guardians Arc.

Lastly, pick of the week goes to Batman Beyond #1 of 6. Loved everything about this book! (Note: I was a big fan of the cartoon so I maybe somewhat biased.) Finally more of Terry, Old Bruce, and Neo-Gotham which has been in short supply since the television series ended. Adam Beechen writing gives the book a very familiar feel from the show while Ryan Benjamin's pencils give neo-gotham and the boys a fresh look. Add in a cameo from The Mad Hatter and a surprising choice for who seems to be the main villain of the mini and I am sold on all of them. Hopefully the mini will be enough to get a series going.

That is it for this week. Feel free to leave any comments, critiques, or suggestions below. No other pickups this week but I did finish 45 so be on the lookout for my review of that.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In Theaters: The Last Airbender

(Spoiler Warning: This review may contain minor spoilers so be warned just in case you still want to go see it after reading it.)

"I close with the hope that the title proves prophetic." - Roger Ebert (Probably a little weak on my part to quote a reviewer's review of this film in my review but it was to good to pass up.)

M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender opened up this weekend and I made the unfortunate mistake of going to see it. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the popular anime from which the film was adapted. A good friend of mine is a huge fan of the anime (supposedly there is a debate on whether its an anime or a cartoon but I digress) it is based on and has tried to get me to watch it numerous times. Since it recently was added to the Netfilx Instant I have started watching it and while it is geared towards a younger audience it is still enjoyable. Unfortunately for those fans who want to see more anime made into live action films the same can not be said for the film. While I had read some of the reviews that bashed the film, I kept assuring myself it couldn't be that bad and the images of the original trailer were only contributed to that thought.

Spoiler: None of this trailer is in the actual film. (So just watch this and save yourself ten bucks.)

To start off with the majority of the acting and casting is terrible (with the partial exception of Dev Patel and Shaun Toub as Prince Zuko and Uncle Iroh respectively.) Its hard to believe the director who got such a great performance out of Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense could do nothing for the main child performances in this film, whether it be helping the actors with their craft or getting them replaced. One of the three main characters has a blank stare on his face for a good eighty to ninety percent of his screen time, pulling quite a similar stare from anyone watching the film. Moving on to the hot issue of the race of characters, which is another disaster all in its own. In the anime all characters were of Asian culture influences and looked the part, while the film starkly divides races making the Indians=Bad Guy, Caucasian=Main Character Good Guy, and Asian and African=Everyone Else. Don't really want to go into the whole topic here but if you would like to know more about this blog is an interesting read.

But this is a summer blockbuster right? So cast and acting doesn't really matter as long as it has awesome effects and cinematography, right? Well in that case it is still 0-2, the effects of this film are just as bad. While having the four main elements at his disposal (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) Shyamalan and his effects team manage to show us no new or memorable uses of them instead electing for 32 part step sequences that enable the characters to move a pebble or puddle ten feet. Granted the effects the anime could be considered hard to translate into live action but this film almost looks like they took screen grabs into the generic Paint program. Staying on the course of train wreck in progress, the cinematography was horrendous. I didn't realize it was possible to mess up a shot reverse shot dialogue (Character A talking to off screen Character then cut to Character B talking to off screen Character A) but one of the few parts of actual story falls victim to it in this film. Add to it the useless panning shots and oddly framed characters shots and you have yourself a how not to shoot movies video.

Rounding out the film we have story, editing, and script or terrible, more terrible, and most terrible. Condesing the narrative of the anime down to a managable film prooves to difficult for Shyamlan (yeah, he wrote it as well as directed and produced) turning into a cutting frezey leaving only the barest of plot lines. The editing and continuity leaves the film with no coherrent pacing causing the viewer to wonder if days, months, or years passed in between scenes. Lastly the dialouge is stripped of any emotion down to the one word responses, cliche sayings, and empty expository monolouges.

Working on a five star system (excluding zero) I have to give it one out of five although that almost seems too generous. If you haven't seen the anime go watch that instead and if you have skip the film since it will just dissappoint you. Leave your thoughts below in the comments, I am off to get the taste of this film out of my mind.