Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday Pickups: The First Two Weeks of December (12/01/10 and 12/08/10)

Still playing catch up here so jumping right back in with December's books:

First up is an impulse pick after flipping through it at the shop, Batman: Orphans #1 of 2. Somewhat uncharacteristic of the dark knight, Batman starts recruiting any army of orphaned and runaway children to help him fight crime on the mean streets of Gotham. Keeping them in an undisclosed location, he is hiding them from even Dick (Nightwing) and Tim (Robin). The question is, Why? Have to admit I really picked this up because I flipped it open and the first page mislead me a bit. It turned out not to be a bad thing however as I really ended up enjoying the comic. Featuring two talents I haven't read much of before, Eddie Berganza (writing) and Carlo Barberi (pencils, did some awesome work on New Mutants Vol.2), who ended up really working well together. Looking forward to the second part soon.

Next up, and also from DC, is Brightest Day #15. Titled "Whatever Happened To The Manhunter From Mars?", this story takes a look at Martian Manhunter's new "life" on the revived mars quite a few years in the future. Another great one off from the Brightest Day crew, this one is also accessible to those not keeping up with the title if read as an Elseworlds One-shot. Probably would have ended up being a pick of the week if it wasn't against some of the stiff competition I'm about to talk about, I really recommend every one check out this issue for its great art and story.

Runner up this week is a "series" that is quickly becoming one of my favorites, Vertigo Resurrected: Winter's Edge One Shot. Another anthology like collection, this time featuring winter/holiday related stories that Vertigo has previously released in 3 issue mini-series, it once again blew me away. Perfect for those readers who have just come to Vertigo in the past few years and missed out on these stories the first time, like me for instance. A great read for a cold winter's night, make sure to pick it up if your shop has any left. Can't even pick a favorite out of this one, pretty much all the stories were top quality and well worth the price of admission.

Last up, and pick of the week by a slim margin over the last two books, is American Vampire #9. Concluding the "Devil in the Sand" arc, all the major players engage in a bloody free-for-all with not everyone living to see the sunrise. I pretty much been gushing about this title since the first issue, but what can I say Scott Snyder (writer) and Rafael Alburquerque (artist) have consistently been bringing their "A" game. Perfectly combing period set comics with the horror and gore of vampire books, this duo have a firm handle on how to keep a reader coming back for more. So if your still one of the few who has yet to check out this awesome book, do yourself a favor and pick up the recently released hardcover collection of the first two arcs.

Small but very quality stack this week, I love it when there isn't one book in the bunch that disappoints. Keeping it going though, here are the books from the 8th:

Starting off with the only Marvel book I picked up this week, we have Widowmaker #1 of 4. Essentially the title that is taking the place of Hawkeye and Mockingbird for a few months, this issue features someone new dawning the Ronin identity and killing international politicians. Not far behind, some of the most notable Marvel spies, Black Widow and Mockingbird (with Hawkeye in tow), are hot on his tail as they have had hits put out on them. All is all, a solid book. It really keeps the same feeling built in the H&M (or HaM if you prefer) and just drops Black Widow into the mix. Love what Jim McCann is doing with these characters and I hope he keeps their reigns for quite a while.

Venturing to a company that rarely graces my pull list (I buy their books in trades), Image brings us 27 #1 0f 4. This issue follows injured rock star Will Garland on his 27th birthday as he meets with an "alternative healer," looking for anyone that can get him back the use of his left hand. Little does he know, he just open a door to a world even weirder than that of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Initially drawn in by the awesome cover pictured above, I ended up digging the book. The story (written by Charles Soule) has got me interested enough to keep picking it up and the while the interior art (done by Renzo Podesta) isn't my favorite it fits well with the dark and mysterious tone of the book. Definitely recommend giving it a shot if your local shop still has it on the shelves.

Continuing with another awesome cover, we have Crossed: Family Values #6. This penultimate issue starts with a bang and pretty much beating you to the ground the whole way through. Adaline and Matt make it back to the rest of their group after their run in with the Crossed members of their family last issue but morale is hits rock bottom. What more can I say about this series that I haven't already? It's still superbly written, still spectacularly drawn, and continues to drags its readers through the mud while kicking them square in the junk (but in the best way possible. ) If you can't handle gore or only slightly do not read this book, but for those brave few that can or embrace it (you sickos know who you are ;)) this is a must read if only to see what new way Lapham and Barreno have come up with to disgust their readers. Also, I really didn't think any one particular Crossed would reach the level of infamy "Horse-cock" achieved, but I have got to say Mommy Pratt has topped him in every way possible.

Heading into the slightly more cheerful world of DCs capes and tights, we have Red Robin #18. Heading to Russia, following a lead about the supervillian communication grid Unternet, Tim meets with heroes and businessmen to gather intel not knowing who is really on his side if any of them are. Another great Red Robin issue from writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Marucs To, yet this book still flies under the radar of most DC fans. Sure it doesn't feature the big names of the other Bat-Family titles but its just as good, if not better. In conclusion, Buy It!

Next up if Justice League: Generation Lost #15. Back in the present, after last issues possible future, we find our favorite outcasts once again seeking refuge in an old J.L.I. base while, unbeknownst to them, a new threat tracks them down. Also, turns out Max Lord isn't the only person the most of the world forgot. Continuing its streak of awesomeness, this issue brings us another solid read. Another title I've praised to death and have run of good things to say about it, easily my favorite Justice League title in quite a while.

Lastly up, and pick of the week, is Booster Gold #39. In this issue that really hit me on personal level, Booster deals with his unresolved feelings over his best friend's (Blue Beetle) death. Not as humor filled as most issues but one that is equally important to the building of the character; Giffen, DeMantteis, Batista, and Perrotta bring us a stand alone issue that tugs on the heart strings and is a shinning example to be shown to anyone who claims superhero comics are "for little kids." Might not be as moving to those that haven't been keeping up with Booster but I still recommend everyone check out this book, if not this issue. Great story, character, and art that has its hooks deeper in me than pretty much any other DC book.

Well, that wraps up another two weeks of comics and brings me closer to getting back on track. Looking to do one more long post containing the last three weeks of December and put me back on track for the new year. Any questions, comments, or suggestions can be left below or sent to

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wednesday Pickups: The Last Two Weeks of November (11/17/10 and 11/24/10)

Gonna try and get caught up on my large back log of unreviewed comics so let's get right to it.

First up is X-Men #5. Xarus' army of vampires, now including Wolverine, descend upon Utopia and look to have the X-Men back into a corner they won't make it out of. Of course old, sly Scott Summers expected as much and reveals his hidden weapons (one very much expected and the other a very clever use of a character) sparking a massive battle that between the two species. Not the greatest X-Men book going but still pretty enjoyable. Victor Gischler's story walks a fine line between predictable and clever, ultimately it just seems to keep enough interest for one to enjoy Paco Medina's art. This issue also features another great cover from Adi Granov, this guy really knows how make vampire covers snatch fresh blood. (see what I did there ;))

Heading over to DC, we have a Green Lantern double feature with the regular title and Green Lantern Corps. In Green Lantern #59 the Indigo tribe returns, finding a human host for their entity while Barry and Hal have a heart to heart over who the latter is keeping company with. Doug Mahnke's art is consistently knocking it out of the park! Emotional scenes, action scenes, large alien entities; this guy can handle it all. Not sure if its just me but Geoff Johns story just isn't as captivating as before and during Blackest Night. Going to keeping picking up the book for a little while hoping it changes for the better but I could easily see this being the result of Johns stretching himself to thin over everything he has his hands on at DC. Green Lantern Corps. #54, on the other hand, is just great overall. This issue features a ring-less battle between Kyle and Sinestro (although I have to call shenanigans on the end of it) and The Weaponer telling his origin to the captive Soranik Natu. Tony Bedard is really keeping the reader invested in these characters each issue while Tyler Kirkham and the art team are illustrating this glowing-spacey book to perfection.

Finishing up DC for the week is Brightest Day #14, one of my favorite of the series so far. This issue is all about the artist formerly known as Deadman as he takes to the mean streets of Gotham in search of the dark knight. Believing he has finally found the person to wield the white ring he is anxious to get rid of it but the ring has other plans. Boston Brand (Deadman) is easily one of the more interesting characters to come into the spotlight in Brightest Day and I really enjoy the creative team (would list them but there is quite a few) taking this whole issue to focus on him.

Jumping back to Marvel, or more specifically their Icon imprint, we have Superior #2. Simon tells Chris all about the space monkey and suddenly becoming Superior, this then leads to the two running through a power checklist for Simon with some interesting results. Still enjoying this original book from Mark Millar and Leinil Yu, I don't know if its quite "The most important comic book since 1938" but it is a fun and emotionally involving read none the less. One thing you have to give the books props for its handling of an impaired character gaining powers, while its been done before this books does it tastefully and with feeling rather than for a gimmick.

Next up is the latest Vertigo resurrection, The Extremist #1 (originally published as The Extremist 4 issue mini series.) The Extremist is one who takes pleasure in all things perverse and abnormal, who only serves others so that its own desires can be met, and most importantly of all The Extremist is not just a single person. Have to admit I didn't know exactly what I was getting into when I picked this up, but I ended up enjoying it. Peter Milligan crafts an interesting tale about the normalities and abnormalities of life while Ted McKeever's loose and rough art style provides the perfect accompanying visuals. Definitely not a book every one could get into but if you enjoy the examination of fetish and fringe life styles, this might be right up you alley.

Lastly, and pick of the week by a mile, is Kill Shakespeare #7. In this issue, the players come to town to provide a little entertainment for those fighting the good fight against Richard. Shakespearean players never appear just to entertain however, as both Juliet and Hamlet reveal to the reader as well as each other their deep motivations. I know I have talked this book up a lot so far, but this issue just makes me want to repeat it all over again. Easily my favorite of the series so far with a great story, art, and cover all working in harmony this issue. If you haven't checked out this book yet, please do immediately! This issue wouldn't be a bad jumping on point and the previous 6 were recently collected if you wish to know the full story.

That is it for the 17ths books so let's jump right into those from the 24th.

Kicking off this week we have Skull Kickers #3. Our two favorite mercenaries try to catch up with chancellor's corpse while Dwarf suffers through an interesting bout of indigestion. A book for those looking for a bit of humor with their sword and sorcery, this issue deliver another helping of all three. The highlight of the issue, though, had to be Edwin Huang's indigestion dreams for Dwarf. Looking forward to even more of this medieval farce coming in 2011.

Heading over to DC for a large portion this week, we have Batman Beyond #6 of 6. Barley surviving their encounter with this new Hush last issue Bruce and Terry have just moments to regroup before he blows up the entire city. Luckily, their not the only ones with a score to settle as Dick Grayson, out of retirement for one time only, and the new Catwoman join up with our favorite future Batmen to help them stop this latest abomination created by Cadmus. Those who have been reading the blog, know I've really been digging this mini and that certainly continued into this final issue. Overall this was a great comeback for Batman Beyond and I am glad it sparked enough interest to warrant an ongoing series starting in January. It effect utilizes the world created by the TV show but isn't afraid to tell new stories, which is always refreshing from a comic based on something else. Needless to say I will definitely be checking out Batman Beyond #1 and you should be to.

Staying in Gotham but traveling back to the present we have Batman and Robin #17. Dick and Damien get dragged into a little murder-mystery party involving one of Bruce's old flames, but is she really dead or is someone just manipulating the dark knight and the boy wonder? Overall the comic was ok, nothing spectacular but bigger fans of this pairing might want to stick around. With a comic stack that I'm constantly adding to or trying new things in I have to trim the fat occasionally, and Batman and Robin have drawn the short straw this time around.

Keeping Robin in the picture, we move out west to Teen Titans #89. The team receives Damien as a new member, although neither side is really to happy with the arrangement, and end up tangling with a powerful telekinetic. Really digging Teen Titans since the creative team change to J.T. Krul (writer) and Nicola Scott (artist), and this issue keeps it going. Bringing the new Robin into the team will help keep things interesting story-wise and Scott's art is working wonders in showing the team as still teenagers. Looking forward to lots more from them and where they are going with this new scientist villain who is giving kids powers.

Finishing out the DC books this week is Justice League: Generation Lost #14. Due to absorbing the massive explosion last issue, Captain Atom is once again throw through the time stream and into the future. This time the world has become a wasteland through bio-warfare as well as battles between meta-humans, OMACs, and humans themselves and Captain Atom must help the Justice League to make one last attempt to bring down the OMACs. Like I've said many times before, still really loving this book and see no signs of that stopping any time soon. Easily the best thing to come out Brightest Day.

First up from Marvel this week is Ultimate Avengers 3 #4. In this issue Blade tells the remaining human Avengers everything he knows about the vampires, while the vampires themselves go through a leadership change. Not the best comic out there but a fun super-hero/vampire story, much in the vain of a movie that is so bad its funny. It was probably intended to be a little more serious than I take it but I am still enjoying it none the less. Even the colorists' (Matt Hollingsworth and Matthew Wilson) work seems to bright to be a serious horror tale and just amps up that hilarity of it all. So give it a go if your into that kind of thing and super heroes, although at this point it might just be smarter to wait till its collected.

The last four books of the week all contain the x-gene, starting with Namor: The First Mutant #4. Finishing out this first arc, Namor engages in a duel to the death with his un-dead grandfather, former ruler of Atlantis and current leader of the Aqeuous, for control of both peoples. Story wise, I enjoyed the issue despite it being predictable to the end it stuck with the depth of character that has been present through out the entire series so far. I do have a complaint with the art however, not that Andres Guinaldo's work is bad or anything but it really takes away from the arc when the first three are done by one guy (the fantastic Ariel Olivetti) and the last one is done by someone with a vastly different style. Think this just may be a fill in to keep the book on schedule but I honestly would have rather waited.

Next up is Uncanny X-Men #530. Starting off a new arc "Quarantine", we find most of the mutants on Utopia fighting off new disease targeting mutants. As a, you guessed it, quarantine goes into effect only a few X-Men are in San Fransisco making them the active team, meanwhile Emma and Kitty are dealing with Shaw. Really digging Greg Land's art and Matt Fraction's story matched up together. The only foreseeable problem I see is having to much going on for one book to handle, but I think Fraction will be able to reign it all in before it gets out of control. As good as this book is though, it takes the bronze in X-men group books this week.

The runner up is New Mutants #19, concluding "Fall of the New Mutants" arc sort of. After being quickly beaten last issue by General Ulysses' mutant soldiers this issue shows most of the group being tortured in one manner or another, with the only light at the end of the tunnel being a few of them escaping. Begining to sound like a broken record but like I said before, I'm still really loving this book. Zeb Wells story is awesome as he skillfully handles all the New Mutants while Leonard Kirk's art is sticking strong with him and being just as much of highlight for the book. I do question the rational in concluding the arc at this point only to end it with "to be continued" but that isn't going to keep me from coming back next month :P.

Last up, and no surprise as pick of the week, is Uncanny X-Force #2. Tracking Apocalypse and his minions to the far side of the moon, our favorite mutants with a license to kill head after him but aren't exactly welcomed with opened arms. After the first issue Remender (the writer) and Opena (the artist) had me hooked and the issue just sinks their claws in deeper. Great art, great story, great action, and great characters (well, except for Deadpool but even he is tolerable under Remender's Pen) this one has it all. I used to say if you were reading one "X" book it should be the only one with out and X (New Mutants), but going to have to change it this title from now on.

That is all for this time, slowly but surely catching up to the current week's comics again. And comments, critiques, or outlandish exclamations can be left below.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coming Soon: Rare Exports (2010)

Once again, thanks to Capone and the awesome people over at Ain't It Cool News, I got to check out another Oscilloscope Labs' film a few days before it hits most theaters and just in time for the holiday season, Rare Exports. A rare export in and of itself, this film from Finland tells the true story of Santa Claus.

Its December and for some strange reason an American excavation crew is digging around in the Korvatunturi mountains of Finland. What they find there, leads to one of the most enjoyable action/holiday comedies I have ever seen. Taking some of the original fables that old Saint Nick was based on, the film brings a "realistic" Santa to the modern world and you can be sure this old guy won't be doing Coke commercials any time soon. In addition to the fantastical and funny story the film features, it also doesn't slack in the technique department.

Boasting some awesome action cinematography and special effect scenes, no technical enthusiast will be leaving with coal in their stockings. The nice list also features some great dialogue which is equal parts hammy and hilarious.

Rare Exports is the perfect holiday film for the entire family* and while it probably won't be taking home any awards or accolades this year, it is one gift you need to share with your friends this holiday season. I personally really like it (giving it 4 out of 5 stars) and it is sure to be a film I'll be digging out at least once a year. To see when it is hitting a theater near you, click here.

*As long as your family is mature enough to see an R-rated comedy and can handle the truth about Santa ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Circle of Trust #4: Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)

For those unfamiliar with this article series, it is where I review the DVDs I get as a member of Oscilloscope Laboratories' "Circle of Trust". For more info on Oscilloscope and the Circle of Trust check out there site located here. Their latest DVD release brings us one of the hottest and most talked about films from the Sundance Film Festival this year, Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Exit Through The Gift Shop took roots from one man's passion to film everything he saw, his discovery of the thrill of street art, and the subsequent journey those two things lead him on. In a quick description the film is a documentary covering the inside story of street art but one quickly realizes there is something more to it. Not content to just follow this man's journey or graffiti art, the film critiques and examines art in general as well as the modern art business that seems to be growing/corrupting world wide. Tackling all these subjects in one film is no easy task but the crew (the film is directed by the elusive street artist Banksy, edited by Chris King and Tom Fulford, and narration by Rhys Ifans) does a spectacular job blending it all together, creating not only a great film but a lasting piece of art about the fading world of it.

The DVD comes with a few extra features but isn't jam packed. Featuring deleted scenes, an early attempt at a graffiti documentary, a short based one particular street art show, and finally a short about the street art of the director Banksy. All of these give you a little more time in the world the documentary creates but aren't essential viewing. The DVD also comes with a few physical bonuses as well. In addition to the great inside art Oscilloscope normally features in a release, this film comes with 2 decals (for when you get that urge to start doing some street art), 2 postcards featuring art shown in the film, and a very special pair of 2-D glasses!

Final grade on the film is 5 out of 5 stars, a must see for fans of any art, and 4 out of 5 for the DVD itself, a really cool design that I think fans of the film will want to add to their collection but a commentary track from Banksy really would have made this a must own. Do not hesitate to check this film out as soon as you get the chance! Exit Through The Gift Shop should be available for purchase from the Oscilloscope site by the time you read this and available for instant streaming through Netflix. Check out the links below if you need any help finding it and leave a comment with your thoughts on the film, if you end up checking it out.

Buy the Exit Through The Gift Shop DVD from Oscilloscope Laboratories

Add Exit Through The Gift Shop to your Netflix Queue

Also if you dig around on Oscilloscope's twitter feed (@OscopeLabs) or find them on facebook, there might be a chance to win this DVD. Not going to make it to easy on you this time though ;)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Lost Art of the Double Feature: Box Elder (2008) & One Too Many Mornings (2010)

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." - C.S. Lewis

Ok, you caught me. I don't really enjoy tea and rarely sit down to read a lengthy book but I do occasionally entertain the idea of doing so. Truth be told I am much more likely to snuggle up with a bottomless Big Gulp of soda and a couple DVDs (or VHSs) but I think the sentiment remains the same. Back in the "good old days" (aka when I didn't have things like job searching to steal my attention) I could watch two or three movies in a row with out a second thought and one of my favorite ways to do this was a Drive In that would play a double bill of modern films that had some sort of linking idea or them. So, in an attempt to partly relive that type of experience but at the same time share some of my favorite films with the small section of the world that wastes their time reading this blog, I chose to embark on this article series.

I decided to start with two recent films that are both hilarious but also creep up on you with how much they can relate to your life, well at least for me anyways. First up is one of my favorite independent films, Box Elder; The definitive college and/or slacker comedy of my generation. Written, staring, and directed by Todd Sklar this film follows a group of college bros coasting through their last few years of school. Dealing with all the goodies and problems available to them at this stage of life (booze, broads, betrayal, and BLTs), the film presents a comedic yet honest look at getting a "higher" education. While the film could rest on these laurels alone, Sklar strives for even more with some great cinematography and sound track selections. Lastly, I would be doing a grace injustice if I didn't mention the performance of Alex Rennie as himself who steals every scene he's in, everyone was great but he was the best. I instantly fell in love with the film when I saw it in college, and when I return to (which I do often) I am reminded of all those great times (even if they were just a few years ago.)

It is customary to take an intermission between the films of a double feature and I utilize that time to hit the bathroom (if necessary) and grab some fuel before round two. As you might have guessed if you lingered over the picture above, or have ever seen Box Elder, I elected to make a sandwich and partner it up with a tall glass of milk (although coke and/or alcohol are suitable substitutes if you're of age and so inclined to do so.) So if you also venture into this little double feature, make sure you have the necessary items on hand. Trust me, if there is one thing your urge you'll have after Box Elder it's for a sandwich or possibly to put a tie on your house hold pet.

The second film is One Too Many Mornings, an independent film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and unfortunately has gotten as much attention as it deserves. Written and directed by Michael Mohan this dramedy examines two estranged high school friends, Peter and Fischer, who are finally being forced to grow up, even if life has to drag them kicking and screaming all the way. Opting for black and white over color film (although, I consider them separate but equal), the film has a natural feel to it (I would say "classic feel" but that is the one phrase everyone uses to describe a modern film shot in black and white) drawing the viewer lackadaisically into it's world before springing life on them and its characters. Again, I feel like I could really relate to this film because its sort of where I'm at now in that post-school world where one is supposed to be an adult but is holding out as long as they can. Not unlike Box Elder, this film also features some great cinematography and music (with the stellar band Capybara providing the sound track) but their similarities don't end there.

There are a ton of reasons why I feel these films make for a great double feature but the main one is the latter seems to pick up right where the former left off. Both are coming-of-age tales in a way, with Box Elder looking at the time when you first find out who you are away from home and One Too Many Mornings looking at how that person grows up to sink or swim. They also relate tonally; Box Elder keeps you laughing the whole way through while giving you a little warning that you have to grow up at some point and One Too Many Mornings continues the laughs but suddenly forces "grown up life" on you, helping you to realize you can stand it. While at first glance you might think it turns the whole experience into some sort of lesson, I can assure you it's a fun one (like those rare days you had class outside.) The films also bear a relation in my mind because I first heard about One Too Many Mornings from Todd Sklar on twitter (love me some tweets.)

Well, that concludes are first foray into double features with hopefully many more to come. I am including some links at the bottom of the post if you want to know more about the films or want to watch (which you really should.) I've got a few other ideas lined up for this feature but would also love suggestions of your favorite double features, to see what I can get from it. As always, I can be reached at (via email) or (twitter)

Box Elder Links:
-Add it to your Netflix Queue (Please do this one, it just got on there and demand for it would help the film and help it become available on here sooner)
-Follow Box Elder or its director Todd Sklar on Twitter
-Check out the official site of the film (Currently the DVD is on sale for $14! So get to gettin' while the gettin' is good.)

One Too Many Mornings Links:
-Add it to your Netflix Queue (Similar situation as Box Elder, come on you know your queue has room for two more films! Just take out Transformers 2 and The Last Air-bender, they both sucked.)
-Follow One Too Many Mornings on Twitter
-Check out the official site of the film (This one is only $9.99 for the DVD and $4.99 for the digital download.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Geek Lantern Corps Status Report

If you're a regular reader you might have noticed I haven't posted in a little while. The primary reason (all though, there are others) is a good friend of mine (and the first honorary Geek Lantern) passed away almost two weeks ago. Although he never did post/comment on here, he told me in person quite a few times how much he enjoyed the blog and looked forward to more on it. This brings me to my main point in posting this, the next few weeks are going to see a multitude of new posts. We have the mandatory Wednesday Pickups (covering the last three weeks of comics), two new features (I've Seen It Both Ways and The Lost Art of the Double Feature), the latest entry into the Circle of Trust, and maybe even some film or graphic novel reviews. In addition to that I've started ranking favorites of this year and most looking forward to things of next year so look for those in January. So keep your rss feeds tuned here, this Geek Lantern isn't out of juice just yet (although I could use a fresh supply of juice boxes if you have them, Hi-C Ecto-Cooler is preferred.)