Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 2/16/11

[Announcer's Voice]Coming in at nine books, zero trades, this stack packs quite a wallop with its floppy stock and chiseled right angles. Hailing from the slightly slushy streets of Chicago's south suburbs, this cartel of comics contains books new and old, bright and dark, DC and other, THE COMICS OF FEBRRUUUUUUARY SIXTEENTH, TWENTY ELEVENNNNN![/Announcer's Voice]

We start things off this week with Green Lantern Corps #57, the conclusion of The Weaponer storyline. The small group of Green Lanterns stand with The Weaponer and Thunders of Quard against Sinestro and his corps, but will it be enough or will the truce be broken and ignite another War? Guest staring Firestorm (on loan from Brightest Day) we get an answer, and all too quickly. With the slow build the arc has been utilizing, this final issue seems out of place wrapping everything up too nicely and not really justifying one character's major choice. Tyler Kirkham's pencils, brilliantly assisted by BATT's ink and Nei Ruffino's colors, looked spectacular but Tony Bedard's story seems like it was rush to conclusion (possibly for the crossover starting next month, War of the Green Lanterns.) While I've really been digging the title lately I think this upcoming crossover gives me a nice opportunity take a break from the book, along with our next book.

Moving over to GLC's slightly older brother we have Green Lantern #62. Concluding The New Guardians arc, this issue finds Hal and his colorful buddies going toe to toe with Krona, the former guardian who accidentally created the anti-matter universe and is now after the Entities. Contrary to most of this arc, I really enjoyed this final issue. As usual, Doug Mahnke's art looks great and Geoff Johns writing showed some of the chops I first started liking him for, including an unexpected result for the battle and a tough choice for Hal Jordan. That said, the good here just doesn't out weight the "meh" I've been getting from the book lately. Going to take a break from this as well, both to check out some other stuff on the stands and to see if I really miss it that much.

Next up is one book that won't be leaving for the foreseeable future, Booster Gold #41 (now you can laugh at that bad future pun.) Rip decides it's time Booster pays his debt for stealing all the future tech that allowed him to be come a super hero but the Nazi he recently displaced from the forties has other plans. Really been enjoying this book and as previously mentioned, that shows no signs of stopping. Giffen, DeMatteis, Batista, and Perrotta make for wonderful writing and artistic duos that seem to bring new things to the table all the time. This issue illustrates exactly how far this character has come, as Booster treats the villain as a pest in the same manner major villains used to do to him. Maybe becoming a bit to big for his britches though, the ending comes as a bit of surprise to us and him, but trusting this creative team I known it has a purpose.

Rounding out the DC books this week is Brightest Day #20, the conclusion of Aquawar. Arthur and Jackson stand as the land's last defense from Black Manta, Siren, and her invading army of banished Atlantians; but they might not prove to be enough with out a helping hand from some friends. Art, as usual from Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, is great with the highlight being a two-page splash of Aquaman leading the local sea life on the charge. The story on the other hand, from Johns and Tomasi, might be showing the first signs of falling apart. Very similar to the end of Hawkman and Hawkgirl's story, Aquaman comes to a flat stopping point and seems to hint that every other character's will follow suit. It remains to be seen but if this is the case, the series end probably won't be up my alley.

Heading over to IDW, we have The Suicide Forest #3 of 4. Our two protagonists finally meet, and in the title location no less, as Ryoko and the other park rangers comes across Alan with forest spirits not far behind. Really enjoyed the pacing of this issue as it begins the final act of this supernatural horror comic in a rough and deadly fashion. Gabriel Hernandez art works perfectly with the setting, causing the reader to lose himself in the woods along with the characters and feel the cold darkness in the final panels. Can't wait to see how it all turns out next month, as in true to the medium we are left with quite the cliffhanger.

Moving along, to my favorite title from Archia, we have Cyclops #4 of 8. Pistoia and his soldiers are sent to the latest United Nations involved war theater. While on the surface Pistoia appears to be darker and less caring his internal conflict has reached a boiling point. This fantastic series keeps going with another great entry. While its been present all along, the most prominent feature of this issue is the strong use of panel structure. For the sex scene, it heightens the thrill while letting us in on a secret; when the men make a discovery in the forest, it simultaneously horrifies and provides the laugh track of the viewers at home; when Pistoia goes searching for answers; it illuminates the past with the flashlight beam while leaving the now in the dark. Definitely looking forward to the second half of the mini-series and where it goes.

Uptight #2, published by Fantagraphics and created by Jordan Crane, shows up with another set of short stories accompanied by a slick cover. In "Take Me Home" a young man is plagued by the memories of one fateful night, while "Before They Got Better" introduces us to a grandfather who's slowly losing his patience with family squabbles. Lastly, we get another installment of "Keeping Two" where the guy's imagination runs even wilder about the whereabouts of his girlfriend. Found myself enjoying this issue more than the first one. While the art retains the simple black and white style, especially the great use of shadow in "Take Me Home", I found the stories here more interesting and direct. Will make sure to grab #3 for next week.

Getting into Marvel's wares, we have Hawkeye: Blindspot #1 of 4. Since his trip to Russia, Hawkeye's aim has been a bit off, due to a nasty blow to the back of the head. Now the big brains have figured out his vision is deteriorating due to an inoperable pressure build up and if things weren't bad enough, villains from his past return looking for blood. Enjoying this story and re-telling of Clint's past so far. I think it definitley shows more focus than Widowmaker with just Jim McCann handling the writing, with the only questionable aspect being who he sets up as the major antagonist (however, I might be the only one that thinks that due to my lack of knowledge of the character.) The art holds its own as well, drawn by Paco Diaz and colored by Tomeu Morey, with little touches such as the faded newspaper look of the past or the enhanced vision goggles bright colors endearing it even more to me. If we can't have Hawkeye and Mockingbird back as a book, Blindspot is a pretty good replacement.

Pick of the week also comes from Marvel, Uncanny X-Force #5. Kicking off a new arc, Deathlok Nation, we get a bit more insight into the enigma that is Fantomex while the rest of team struggles over how their first mission ended. One of the best things about Rememder's writing on this book is he let's me enjoy every character, not just the ones I normally do. While I've never been a big fan of Deadpool, Rememder's Deadpool is a likable character and even more so for a great moment he has in this issue. That would be enough to keep me on the book but Esad Ribic's art rocks it just as much. From action packed battle scenes to the memorabilia filled Cavern-X (like a loving homage to the batcave), he keeps the viewer engaged and conveys just as much of the story as his writing partner. If every X-Book was as solid as this, Namor, and New Mutants I could easily see myself going back to the days of getting every one of them.

That's it for this week but if you like what you read make sure to stop by again, same time and place. As usual comments, critiques, and suggestions can be left below or sent to Now, I'm off to get started on reading next week's books. Psychic prediction- Crossed: Psychopath #1 nabs the top spot. ;)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Geek Lantern's Favorite Films of 2010

This is one post I have been promising for quite a while. Being the cinephile that I am, I really enjoy making a list of my favorite movies from the previous year. Not only does it help one's self to evaluate their "film year" but it's also a helpful tool in sharing the awesome films you enjoy with others. In recent years, I've tried to get it done by the end of the year to liken myself to every critic out there who release a top ten list; This year, however, I decided to give my self an extra month (which turned into a month and 3/4ths) to catch some films on DVD that never made a theater appearance around me (or I didn't know about it when they did.) As it turns out, this was extremely helpful as a few of the films on here were viewed in that time but I still managed to miss a few (I'm looking at you Somewhere and Blue Valentine.) So here are my favorite films that were released in 2010 starting with five honorable mentions (in alphabetical order) followed by the top ten. Also, for your added benefit I am linking all the movie titles to their IMDB page so you can check into them further if your interested.

The American

Despite being hated by many of my fellow Americans, I really enjoyed this Spy/Drama directed by Anton Corbijn. Abandoning many of the typical thriller elements associated with a "spy" film, we instead are treated to a dramatic tale of an aging agent who no longer has his heart in this line of work. That isn't to say the film contains no action scenes, as the ones it does have pretty thrilling, but they are built on a quite tension and not grandeur or explosions. Also worth mentioning is George Clooney's performance which is quite a bit more reserved than his usual fair perfectly fitting the role of the title character. Give this one a chance if your a fan of spy films, just don't go in expecting the James Bond or Jason Bourne.

One Too Many Mornings is a film I blogged about once before (you can find that here) and just barely made the front end time restrictions of this list premiering at last year's Sundance Film Festival. It has best been described as "a coming of age comedy about two guys who are way too old to be coming of age" and despite being a really well made dramedy, it has flow under the radar for most due to the lack of wide release in theaters. I think one of my favorite elements of the film (and possible selling point) is the way it blends its comedy naturally into the heart of its story, rather than injecting it with pop-culture references for cheap laughs like many modern comedies. Hopefully this quiet little indie film will make its way into the hands of all those slackers out there that will enjoy it just as much as I do.

The first of three Oscilloscope Laboratories distributed films to make this list, Rare Exports is a Finnish gem that examines the "true" origins of Santa Claus. Filled with laughs and fun for most of the family (might want to keep the younger ones away) this is my favorite holiday film to come out in quite a while. Since its a little late to check it out for Christmas 2010 make sure you pick up a copy before December 25th this year, it's not out on DVD yet but should be in the next few months.

This is one that just barely made the list due to me delaying, as I watched it just last week. Restrepo is a war-documentary that follows one platoon's year-long tour in Afghanistan's deadliest valley. The thing that sets it apart from so many other war films or docs from the past few years is the directors' (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger) not pushing any agenda and the candor with which the soldiers speak to the camera. No matter your political alignment or thoughts on the war, this is one film you should see if only to get some small idea of what our nation's front line troops go through.

Another documentary that I really enjoyed, somewhat for its impartiality in a hot button geek issue but also for its high entertainment value; The People vs. George Lucas examines the relationship between the famed Star Wars creator and his fans in a post-prequels world. Consisting of interviews, fan footage from across the world, and maybe even a scene or two from Lucas' films this doc covers all its bases and will keep you laughing all the way through. The documentary will mostly be enjoyed by Star Wars fans world-wide, when it goes into wider release and maybe DVD this year, but non-star wars fans (do those exists?) might find it interesting to see the effect one man has had on generations now and how quick the winds of favor can change.

Have to admit, I passed on this one in theaters assuming it wouldn't be as good as most reviews were saying. I did, however, throw it in the netflix queue and was proved wrong when it eventually made its way to me. Toy Story 3 hits some emotional scenes out of the park while still managing to be a fun, family-friendly film. I'm not sure, since it's been a while since I watched the first one or The Incredibles, but this may be my favorite Pixar film. So if you made the same assumption I did originally, make sure to rectify that soon.

Almost every year I see one film that stands apart from other theater viewing experiences, Buried is that film this year. Telling the tale of a kidnapped and (suprise!) buried U.S. contractor in Iraq, played by Ryan Reynolds, this entire movie takes place in a coffin! While it may initially seem like a gimmick; Reynolds performance, great cinematography, and well done confined lighting keep your eyes glued to the screen for its entire 95 minute running time. You would be hard pressed to find Buried still in a theater but it came out on DVD about a month ago, so make sure to check it out next time your in the mood for a solid thriller.

In the vein of The Great Dictator, (writer/director) Chris Morris' Four Lions takes the most prominent world threat and mocks it hilariously. Not only does this film have the stones to broach a topic most filmmakers or studios wouldn't touch (a slap-stick comedy about suicide bombers) but it's also one of the funniest comedies I've seen in quite a while. You need to watch and laugh at this film, or the terrorists have already won!

Exit Through The Gift Shop is a rare film that has so much to say, while at the same time you're still not entirely sure what it is. Examining the world of graffiti art and parlaying that into a critique of the business side of art, the film presents its self as a documentary but with the message its saying one wonders if mockumentary might fit it better in the end. Hopefully we never get a straight answer from those involved, which is entirely possible, leaving the viewer to make their own judgment. The only bad thing about the film, it's pretty much cause internet fiends everywhere to credit all street art to the film's mysterious director Banksy.

Monsters would have probably been lower on this list if I had only seen it once but with each viewing I find some new shot or part of a scene that amazes me. Writer, director, and visual effects artist of the film Gareth Edwards presents the viewer with a fully realized world of alien monsters living at our border. Drawing many comparisons to District 9, from critics and fans alike, I feel that Monsters handles every thing from it's drama and effects to not force feeding the audience it's message a lot better (Note: I didn't like District 9 that much.) So if you are in the mood for a relationship drama with spectacular effects, make sure to check this film out. Afterward, be sure to give the bonus features on the Blu-ray or DVD a look, I was blown away by them.

5) Enter The Void

The first time I heard of this film was catching a glimpse of it's bright neon poster and from there, the rabbit hole just gets deeper. Director Gaspar Noe presents the viewer with a movie not quite like anything they've seen before with some very creative and purposeful cinematography. I'm hesitant to tell anyone too much about this film because going into it cold was such an awesome experience for me, but essentially it's the longest drug trip/spiritual experience you will ever see on film. I'm looking forward to checking out the longer, director's cut when I get a chance but for those of you ready to dive in now it's currently streaming on Netflix Instant.

A strikingly dark look at a quest for perfection; Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan not only mesmerizes through it well choreographed dancing and stylish scenery (as pictured above) but through it's protagonist's (Nina Sayers played by Natalie Portman) journey into stress-induced madness. While the film is definitely Oscar-bait, it strikes me as more original than most in that category and certainly a film I could find myself watching again and again. Definitely check this one out if you enjoyed Aronofsky's The Wrestler or Powel and Pressburger's The Red Shoes, a film it draws a lot of inspiration from.

3) Inception

The only surprise about this one being on my list is that it's not number one. Being a huge fan of Nolan and a lot of the cast, the bar was set pretty high for this one and it definitely went over it. From one fantastical dream world to the next, the film kept me engaged all the way through. Don't plan on going to in-depth here but if you want to read more of what I thought of it you can check out the my review here. I don't know many who haven't seen this yet but if you are one of those few you should correct that soon.

A love letter to nerd culture, director Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World may have underperformed at the box office but it has certainly turned into a classic/must own for lovers of comics and video games everywhere. Even if your not a fan of such things (in which case you're crazy), it stands as a well made comedy with sweet visual effects. I'm a fan of Wright's other work (Spaced, Shawn of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz) but this is by far my favorite, as it puts a big smile on my face every time I watch it.

1) Howl

Number one comes as a real surprise this year as it wasn't even on my radar until a few weeks before I saw it. While I have already gone in depth about my love for this film twice before on here (Review & Circle of Trust piece), I really can't say enough about in hopes that more people will check it out. Not only does this film spectacularly adapt Allen Ginsberg's famous poem Howl into animated sequences, it adds in a bio-pic flavor looking at his life and the obscenity trial that helped propel the poem into the masses. All of this comes together in a spectacular blend of documentary, animation, poetry, and wonderful acting from James Franco. I know I've said you should see all these films, but this is the one of the least seen that more really need to check out.

Ok, well that is it for my favorite films of 2010. Let me know your thoughts on the list or your own favorite below and thanks for reading this but now get off your butt and go watch one of these movies.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 2/9/11

It's new comic book day again but can one truly appreciate new comics if they don't learn from the old ones? No, so as an invaluable service to you the reader here are last week's comics and what I thought of them.

First up this week is Widowmaker #4 of 4. This sordid-spy tale comes to a conclusion as Black Widow faces her ex-husband while Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Fortune are left to deal with an active volcano and an army of nationalist ninjas. Did not care to much for this issue as both writing and art felt very bland which I mainly attribute to this creative team handling issues 2 and 4 while a different one handled 1 and 3. I am holding out some hope for the next Hawkeye mini (entitled Blind Spot) since I think it will have a steady creative team or at least only Jim McCann writing it. If you were going to pick this up in trade, I have to recommend passing on it as the book just never blends into one solid story.

Next up from Marvel is Ultimate Captain America #2. Steve wakes up after having his butt handed to him by Frank Simpson (aka Vietnam Era Captain America) last issue and doesn't exactly play by the rules when he's told to stay on the bench and let the black ops team handle Simpson. I really like how Jason Aaron handles Ult. Cap, writing him as more of an arrogant jerk than his regular universe counter part, giving him a unique flavor. Ron Garney's art goes well with it, presenting some strongly defined close ups but leaving it a little rougher for the action sequences. Looking forward to the rest of this mini and the different kind of Cap story it's telling.

Staying in the Ultimate Marvel U, we have Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1 (its also under the Ultimate Death of Spider-Man event banner but since nothing in the book seems to be related to him I'll just leave that be.) The New Ultimates (with two new additions to the main team) stop a train supposedly carrying stolen super soldier information but what they find is something a bit darker. I've never been a huge fan of Lenil Yu's art but once again it manages to work on these ultimate characters, the grittiness of it complimenting the style of the world. Mark Millar's overall story has been building nicely since the first volume of Ultimate Avengers but to someone just picking up this issue it probably seems like an excuse for a hero vs hero fight. Definitely going to pick up the next issue but if I continue to just find it ok, I might try to drop the title before getting sucked into this arc.

Heading over to DC, we have Justice League: Generation Lost #19. Max continues to torture and experiment on Jaime (the Blue Beetle) while the rest of our band of outsiders finally tracks down his location. Another fantastic issue from writer Judd Winick, the way he is handling these character keeps me chomping at the bit for more every time. Not to be outdone though, Fernando Dagnino's art (and Dustin Nguyen's stylish cover) provide the book with some compelling and action packed visuals. Going to be interesting to see where the books moves from the ending of this issue.

Rounding out DC comics is Red Robin #20. Crossing over with Teen Titans, Tim fails to stop Catman from recovering Unternet access and has to call in the reinforcements when he discovers a world-wide network of Calculator androids. I enjoyed Marcus To's pencils, as always, with Guy Major's colors filling them out nicely. The story here, written by Fabian Nicieza, seems like it could really be handled in one title and doesn't need the crossover gimmick, but we will have to wait and see how it wraps up in J.T. Krul's Teen Titans.

Getting into the non-capes and tights books, we have Uptight #1 from Fantagraphics Books. Written and drawn by Jordan Crane, this anthology title features two stories (Below the Shade of Night and Keeping Two) dealing with the loss of loved ones. Overall, I enjoyed Crane's illustrated shorts. While I wasn't too crazy about the art the stories were interesting enough to keep me going and I really like the cover design. I think my local shop had the next few of Uptight so you might see those make an appearance here soon.

From Image we have Hack/Slash jumping from mini-series to full blown on-going with Hack/Slash #1. Cassie and Vlad have been tracking slashers without rest leading them to Louisiana and a meeting with an old friend while Cat Curio's investigation leads her to Emience, Indiana and the man who put her into a coma. Great start for the series, even for readers like myself who aren't caught up on all the prior Hack/Slash mini-series. As usual with a Hack/Slash book, we are treated to some great cheesecake art (this time done by Daniel Leister) and Tim Seeley's deadly yet funny universe. Hoping this series has a long run.

Moving over to Image's Shadowline department, we have Twenty-seven #3. Will Garland further explores what the magical box in his chest can do and meets up with a famous rocker to learn more about the 27 club. Still enjoying the story in this book (written by Charles Soule) and its take on the whole "9" thing but I can't say the same for the art of Renzo Podesta. Its alright but sometimes it's loose backgrounds and emotionless faces just distract me from really getting into the book. I know their is more comics to be set in this universe after the mini but I don't think I will be sticking around for them if their drawn by Podesta.

Taking to the high seas, we have The Unwritten #22. Tommy continues his search for Moby Dick but finds a different "monster" while Lizzie and Savoy begin playing parts in someone else's plans. Initially I thought there was a large gap missing between this and last issue until I realized I missed #21 (whoops). Still consistently great, like The Unwritten always has been, Mike Carey and Peter Gross world of "real" and powerful literature is among the top books on the stand. If you still haven't checked it out, you really should.

Pick of the week should be no surprise, Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon's Casanova: Gula #2. Zephy begins taking down her assigned targets very sexily, while the Casanova's crew continue their search for him. I've written a lot about this series in previous post so I won't rehash it all but I love pretty much everything about this book. The sci-fi/spy world, the oddball references, the multiple WTF moments, and the art done by Fabio Moon (or Gabriel Ba from the first volume) are all fantastic. Hopefully with the rising popularity of all three, this book will get into the hands of more fans soon enough.

That is it for this week. You know the usual routine; comments, criticisms, or suggestions can all be left below or set to Now if you'll excuse, I am off to search for the illusive The Unwritten #21.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Circle of Trust #6: William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (2010)

It is time, once again, to check out the latest wares being peddled by the fine folks at Oscilloscope Laboratories. If you've somehow managed to not yet find out who they are and the awesome films they distribute I recommend the immediate correction of that by clicking the above link. This time I'm taking a look at the directorial debut of Yony Leyser, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within.

This documentary examines the life of one of the more controversial and revolutionary American novelists of the 20th century, William Burroughs. Billed as the godfather of such things at beatniks and punk rock, Burroughs is an interesting man to examine as his influence has spread in to so much of today's culture even though you might not recognize it right away. Leyser's doc presents a balanced portrait of the man though, as the personal and drug-related demons he struggled with all his life are talked about just as much as his literary and artistic accomplishments or vast influence.

In addition to balancing Burroughs life, Leyser provides a well-rounded film containing interviews, home video footage, and wire frame puppets scenes. It doesn't stray to far from typical, bio-documentary tropes but is still makes for an enjoyable film none the less. In typical Oscope fashion, the DVD comes packed with bonus features that will immerse you even further into the world of Burroughs. A Q&A with the director, a 50th anniversary celebration of Naked Lunch (Burroughs most famous book), extended home movies, and more shots of his physical art are just a few of the bonuses to check out.

Wrapping up, I personally give the film 3 out of 5 for being interesting and worthwhile but not particularly captivating; I am sure those more familiar with Burroughs work would probably enjoy it more than I did. The DVD however gets 4 out of 5, not only for its myriad of bonuses but for some pretty slick box art including two essays and the impressive cover pictured above. If your interested, below are a few helpful links to check out the film for yourself.

-Visit the film's official site, which has a list of upcoming screenings (both domestic and internationally)

-Follow the director and his film on Twitter

-Purchase it from Oscilloscope Laboratories

-Add it to your Netflix Queue

-Enter to win a copy of the DVD from

-Enter to win a copy of the DVD from The A.V. Club

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 2/2/11

Not a huge amount of books this week but still some worth writing home about or at least writing from home about:

First up is IDW's hundred penny press edition (yes, that means it cost $1) of Zombie vs. Robots. It's brainless automaton vs. brainless automaton in a battle royale for... well, it's something to do when they're not killing humans. Created by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood, this excerpt from the collected edition gives us the humorous beginning of this non-traditional feud. I love giving something new a try for one buck, especially something as good as this. Wood's art awesomely depicts these strange beings with a unique sense of grit that brings them to un-life and off the page. Looking forward to checking out the TPB of it when I get the chance.

Next book comes from Archaia, Cyclops #3 of 8. Doug Pistoia has become a household name through out the entire world as the nightly broadcasts of his military exploits sky rocket in ratings but has our hero lost sight of why he signed up in the first place? Another solid issue from Matz and Luc Jacamon as we get deeper into this world of ratings "super" soldiers and U.N. military contracts. Seriously, give this series a shot if you haven't already. You may just be surprised at how much you enjoy its full art and engaging narrative.

The last non-superhero book of the week comes from Avatar Press, the finale to Crossed: Family Values. Things seem to have quieted down a bit for Addy and her group of survivors but David Lapham and Javier Barreno send us out on a bag as there is one, last family reunion between the children and their Crossed mother. I've said it when reviewing every issue, but I love this mini-series! Always manages to give you something your not expecting, ups the ante on traditional zombie apocalypse tale, and gets back to their core of critiquing humanity at its best and worst. It's also by far the most adult rated title on the stand, so if you can't handle gore or sexual acts steer clear. If you can, make sure to grab this up when it gets collected.

Heading over to DC, we have Batman Beyond #2. In classic Bruce fashion, he convinces Terry to take down the Justice League before they can even argue against his plan of action while this new Matter Master holds his family and other Gotham residents hostage. Even though the superheroes fighting each other has become cliche in comics its always fun to see a Batman take down all those heroes who are supposedly more powerful than him, which Adam Beechen (writer) and Ryan Benjamin (penciler) handle expertly. This series perfectly captures the fun but still dramatic take on Batman the show gave us years ago.

Round out DC's books is Brightest Day #19. Aquawar begins, as Aquaman and lad head to the Bermuda triangle to stop the Atlantian separatists of Xebel from invading land and sea while Boston Brand gets closer to figuring out why he and the others were resurrected. Have to give a hand to the Brightest Day crew for another good issue that answers a few questions but still leaves us wanting more. Should be interesting to see how this all wraps up with only a little over a handful of issues remaining.

Getting into the Marvel books we'll start with the bad, Ultimate New Ultimates #5. Thor is on a rampage after coming back from the dead only to have his beloved Valkyrie die at the same moment. Does anyone on earth posses the power to stop a god on a rampage? This story has shown fleeting glances of potential but ultimately amounts to nothing. Frank Cho's art has made it endurable, as his art is always nice to look at (especially the ladies), but if it went on much longer I don't think even that would have kept me on it. Looking forward to all of these characters being back under Mark Millar's narrative hands as Avengers vs. New Ultimates starts up next week.

Polar opposite to New Ultimates, and pick of the week, is Ultimate Thor #4 of 4. This issue rounds out Thor's origins covering from the final battle of Asgard up till him joining the the Ultimates. Not only does Carlos Pacheco's art depict the the Norse god of thunder in all his earthly glory, Jonathan Hickman's story fits perfectly with how the character seemingly started as pretender but ended up being immortal. While I'm a not real big Thor fan, I real dug this mini-series and feel it was a great telling/re-telling of his origins (telling in the sense that it's the ultimate version, re-telling in that it still bears the markings of the original Thor.) If your a fan of the character of are looking for a nice sci-fi/fantasy tale make sure to grab this when it gets collected.

That is it for this week, looks like we have another heavy stack on the way next week though so that will have to make up for it. Usual routine: comments, critiques, questions, or suggestions can be left below or emailed to me Now I'm off to get some sleep while Visions and Scarlet Witches dance in my head.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 1/26/11

Another large stack of comics this week, so let's dive right into them:

Kicking things off (sorry I couldn't resist the easy set up) is Skull Kickers #5, the conclusion to its first arc One Thousand Opas and a Dead Body. Baldy and Shorty do battle with the demonic horde, which turns into battle with a giant ugly demon! Spectacular letters by Marshall Dillion and great pencils by Edwin Huang lead this title but Jim Zub's story isn't to shabby either. Keeping with the humorous and outrageous tone it's set so far, the book finishes it first arc in good fashion and even plants a seed or two for the future. Really looking forward to next issue, a collection of short stories about our two favorite warriors but put in the hands of other creators besides Zub and Huang.

Heading over to DC, we have Justice League: Generation Lost #18. Max Lord continues his experiments on the Blue Beetle while his new mind control minion, Power Girl, takes the rest of the league down a peg or two, seeing them Superman and crew turned evil. Another fantastic issue from writer Judd Winick, this time with pencils by Aaron Lopresti, that leaves us craving the next issue. Really enjoying how Winick opens each issue with a scene from the past that informs readers where these heroes are coming from but also relates to what their about to face. Still keeping my fingers crossed that this book turns into a regular monthly title after Brightest Day concludes.

Finishing the DC titles for the week is Teen Titans #91. Most of the titans face off against the genetically altered teens who took their school hostage while Ravager and Robin are left to deal with the remain student body that have been turned into mindless thugs. Solid issue by J.T. Krul (writer) and Nicola Scott (penciler) that wraps up their beginning story-line on the book nicely. Nothing too flashy or epic but good character development and interaction, something I have always enjoying Teen Titans books. Next up is a cross over with Red Robin which, being a huge fan of that book, I am really looking forward to.

Concluding the non-Marvel books is Vertigo's American Vampire #11. The two part The Way Out finishes up here as Pearl and Henry battle some bootlegging blood suckers while Hattie tracks them down for a not so friendly reunion. Not my favorite issue of the book but still a good one none the less. Mateus Santoluco's art keeps it visually interesting but isn't quite as dynamic as series regular Rafael Albuquerque. Scott Snyder's tale continues to be the best regular does of vampire around.

First up from a large selection Marvel books this week is Ultimate Avengers 3 #6. The finale of Blade Versus The Avengers is here, as the two stand together against an overwhelming force of vampires. While I voiced my doubts about this volume of the series, this issue brought it all together for me. The book straddles the line between over the top hilarity and groan-worthy cliches until this final issue where it sets its self firmly on the side of the former. I could sell this issue to you in one sentence, SPOILERS: Someone get stabbed with a plane! So if you skipped out on this series, make sure to correct that when it gets collected in TPB form.

Continuing with the avengers, but moving over the regular marvel universe, we have Secret Avengers #9. Steve Rodgers and crew cook up a plan to get Sharon Carter back from the Shadow Council but will they be able to do so without losing another member? The art by Mike Deodato and Will Conrad compliments Brubaker's shadow ops story well, filling tons of panel space with shadows but still conveying action convincingly. Not sure how the arc is going to wrap up next issue, but I am definitely looking forward to it.

Special addition this week, is the book most comic fans are talking about, Fantastic Four #587. Spread out and all in dangerous situations, one of the fantastic four members meets their end in the conclusion of the Three arc. Not going to say which member it is (in case you have somehow managed to avoid spoilers from major media services and the online comic-fan community) but I will say I enjoyed the issue. Been meaning to check out Jonathan Hickman's FF since it started but kept pushing it off and then never grabbed the trades. Definitely going to rectify that soon though, after seeing the quality of his writing on this book matched with Steve Epting's great art.

This brings us the the huge amount of mutant books this week (yeah, I might be a mutantholic), and we'll start them off with Age of X: Alpha one-shot. Written by Mike Carey (and with art from and army of talent) this book drops us in the world of Age of X and hits the ground running. Instead of taking the usual approach and showing how the world got this way, this first entry just gives us the back story of a few of the main mutants and promises to reveal over time why this world is different from the one we know. Digging the story so far and looking forward to more when it takes over some of the regular X titles in February.

Next up is Namor: The First Mutant #6 with a fantastic cover from Phil Noto. Starting a new arc titled Namor Goes to Hell well... Namor goes to hell or at least his own version of it while his allies work on trying to bring him back but end up getting a visit from one of Namor's oldest friends. Surprise surprise, another spectacular issue from Stuart Moore (writer) and Ariel Olivetti (artist.) These two just manage to get everything about the character and his surroundings/supporting cast right. It might be a little early to call it, but I think there run is my favorite out of any Namor title.

Getting into the team books we have X-Men #7. In their new initiative to make every one love mutants, Cyclops sends a team to New York to deal with a problem some might classify as street level. After the first arc, Curse of the Mutants, being barely satisfying and this new one, To Serve and Protect, not seeming to interesting I think I'm going to take a break from this book. While I love the Terry & Rachel Dodson covers, I never really liked Chris Bachalo's art (interior artist) and Victor Gischler's writing isn't helping either.

Rounding out the regular X-men books is Uncanny X-Men #532. Emma, Kitty, and Fantomex continue to deal with Sebastian Shaw; Angel's group tackles the Collective Man and Sublime's Designer X-Men; and everyone back on Utopia continues to suffer from the mutant flu. Featuring splendid art (both inside and out) by Greg Land, this issue brings the title back a little bit from the past few crowded and convoluted issues. While Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen (the writers) still have a lot going on here, its improved a lot in presentation and pacing making for a more enjoyable read.

The penultimate book this week, missing the top spot just barely, is New Mutants #21, the conclusion to Rise of the New Mutants. General Ulysses has released the Elder Gods spelling doom for both Limbo and our world but Magick hasn't performed her last trick yet and may still have a shot at stopping them. This issue brings a fitting end to they story the Zeb Wells has been telling since the book started and manages to send us out on a bang but also with a few new story-lines hanging to be pulled on later. Not sure if Wells and partner in crime, artist Leonard Kirk will be returning to the book after Age of X but I certainly hope so as they have proved they can make it one of the best titles Marvel has to offer every month.

Pick of the week should come as no surprise since its been here a couple times already, Uncanny X-Force #4. The Apocalypse Solution concludes as Archangel and crew decide the final fate of Kidpocalypse. Another frakking awesome X-conclusion and another awesome issue from Rick Remender and Jerome Opena, this issue brings a perfect ending to this new groups first adventure with many more to come. I seriously can't recommend this book enough, both for its great story and art, and if you missed out on the single issues make sure to grab it when its collected in TPB.

And thus brings us to another thrilling conclusion of Masterpiece Myster... I mean Wednesday Pickups. Any comments, critiques, suggestions, or questions can be left below or sent to . I know it's a little late this week but that was actually a test. Everyone should have been so busy checking out Multiplex (see the article below this one) that they shouldn't have had time to read this till now. Most of you passed, barely.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Awesome Web Comics: Multiplex

While I love the idea of web comics, I rarely get into them. Thinking about the whys of that it usually comes down to a) being intimidated by a large back catalog b) not keeping track of one updating and c) I will always prefer reading something off a page rather than a screen. I bring all this up because one web comic, that I recently was turned on to by the good folks running the C2E2 twitter account, has made me love it despite facing all these obstacles and it's name is Multiplex.

Multiplex, written and illustrated by Gordon McAplin, follows the hilarious and dramatic lives of a movie theater's staff as they tackle everything from the summer blockbuster hordes to filling their down time with movie gags and "worthwhile" discussions. Catering to fans of film humor, office romances, and slacker bliss this strip has something for everyone and has a ton of enjoyment for fans of all of above (like myself.)

After diving into it last weekend, I am now up into the the 200s of the series 500+ strips. As soon I finished the collected edition (available from their online store here containing the first 100+ strips), I ran right to my computer and kept on going. The art, the characters, and the humor just won't let me go. Since your going to be trapped inside anyways via the coming snowpocalypse, I urge you to do yourself a favor and check out this phenomenal web comic via the links below. I am almost positive you won't regret it, and if you do well this blog and that web comic are free so you got what you paid for ;)

Link to Multiplex

Follow Multiplex and Gordon McAlpin on Twitter