New Comics Wednesday 5/28/14

Happy New Comics Wednesday! Here are the comics that I’ll be getting from this week, a couple recommendations, and some quick thoughts about X-Men: Days of Future Past!

New Comics this week

  • ALL-NEW INVADERS #5: My last issue.
  • AQUAMAN #31
  • AVENGERS #30
  • BATMAN #31
  • CHEW / REVIVAL #1: The solicitation copy reads “TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE REALLY WEIRD TOGETHER!”. Umm, yeah. I read the first two Chew trades and didn’t care enough to continue, but Revival is one of my favorite titles, so I must get this just to see the weirdness.
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #5: My last issue. I’m starting to wonder about the writer, or more precisely, my interest in the writer’s works.
  • MARVEL BOY TP: Another entry in the Grant Morrison LBR library.
  • MIRACLEMAN PREM HC BOOK 01: DREAM OF FLYING: I’ve always wanted the Miracleman series in trade, and now I can start getting them.
  • NIGHTWING #30: The final issue, but Dick will be back in Grayson. Go listen to Comic Geek Speak episode 1812 for a talk with Grayson co-writer Tom King.
  • STAR TREK #33

Go here for a complete list of comics releasing this week.

Also Released This Week

  • C.O.W.L. #1: I really wanted to get this, but decided to wait for the trade. The premise of a superhero union intrigues me.
  • TREES #1: A new Warren Ellis (art by Jason Howard) sci-fi series that I expect will read better in trade (and save me a few bucks in the short term).

Movie Musings

X-Men: Days of Future Past

How refreshing to be able to enjoy a superhero movie after the distaste that was Amazing Spider-Man 2. Add to that the fact that DoFP tied together all of the previous X-Men movies and it made sense! I loved the time travel aspect of the movie (except for the scenes jumping back to the future every so often just to show the Sentinals killing off the remaining X-Men (poor Colossus)–it got a bit tedious. I loved how a bunch of the actors from the previous movies had appearances (however brief). I loved 70s Logan. I really liked Blink’s (I think that was her name) mutant ability. However, Quicksilver stole the show, especially in the kitchen scene.

All in all, this is the best superhero film of the year, so far. Remember to stay for the post-credit scene to get superexcited about what seems to be coming next!

New Comics Wednesday 5/21/14

Happy New Comics Wednesday! Here are the comics that I’ll be getting from this week, plus some thoughts about Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Amazing Spider-Man 2!

New Comics this week

  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2: I have to say, I miss Superior Spider-Man. I wonder how long I’ll stick with Amazing.
  • AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #3: I can’t wait to read this. After #2, I am fully invested in this series.
  • BATMAN AND FRANKENSTEIN #31: Given Batman’s last encounter with Frankenstein, Bruce better watch his back.
  • BATWOMAN #31: My last issue. JH Williams was the magic behind this character for me.
  • BTVS SEASON 10 #3
  • BUNKER #4
  • EAST OF WEST #12
  • FOREVER EVIL #7: Does anyone care anymore? Dear DC, this is not how you release issues for a major company event. What the hell happened here?
  • IMMORTAL IRON FIST COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 02: I can’t wait to read this!
  • ROCKET GIRL #5: My last issue.
  • SAGA #19: It’s back! I wonder how the new direction will affect the overall story.Will Saga jump the space shark?! ;)
  • VELVET #5: This is going to the top of my read pile.

Go here for a complete list of comics releasing this week.

Movie Musings

I wanted to talk on the podcast with Greg, my Comics in Other Media special correspondent, about Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Amazing Spider-Man 2, but he’s moving from California soon, so it’ll be a while. But the podcast’s loss is your, the blog reader’s, gain (or so I hope).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I will put out this up front: Captain America is not one of my favorite characters. He’s not even in the top 20. So, I wasn’t really excited to watch this sequel. I did enjoy the first Captain America movie, but mostly because it was a period piece. Putting Cap in modern times, for me, just becomes old man out of time jokes. But. While there was some of that, there was a lot to really like about this film. Primarily there was Sam Wilson. The way he was introduced was funny and didn’t feel too forced. The callback later in the film to the opening scene (“on your left”) was wonderful. I also enjoyed the fight scene between Cap and Batroc, but I wish we could have heard him speak more and with more of an accent. :) Finally, I really enjoyed the buddy cop vibe that we got between Cap and Black Widow.

As to the political intrigue of the movie, I thought it was overplayed and not at all deep, but I was very surprised to see–SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET!!!–Hydra take down SHIELD, opening up the third Cap (and second Avengers) film to potentially (and hopefully) move outside the SHIELD umbrella. Not to mention what that does and will do to Agents of SHIELD on ABC. Notice that I haven’t said much about the titular character, the Winter Soldier? That’s because there’s not much to him in the story other than fight scenes and a half-assed is Bucky still in there after all? (Hint: yes.) Finally, was I the only person yelling at the screen (in my head of course) for Natasha to remove the booby-trapped (no pun intended) broach that Redford’s character gave her–it was such an obvious thing that it seems really unlikely that super-spy Black Widow wouldn’t have seen it coming (and she didn’t!).

Overall, while I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would, I don’t think it was better than any other Marvel film produced so far, which seems to be the consensus, and, in fact, it was slightly below average in comparison to how much I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

After the lackluster first film, I was not all that interested in seeing this movie, but the trailer that I saw while attending the Emerald City Comicon (played every five minutes between panels) changed my mind. Alas, if only the movie delivered on the hype. Yes, the special effects and action sequences were very well done–in fact, I almost felt like what Peter must feel like swinging through New York. But some of the dialogue and the overall plot was mediocre, at and worst, was like a bad sitcom. Why was Peter obviously ok being with Gwen at the graduation, yet not much later, he breaks up with her because he’s haunted by his promise to Captain Stacy? It was just a forced plot point that ultimately didn’t matter–take that out and the emotional drive of the film still has a tremendous impact. Why did Harry’s affliction seem to affect him so much more quickly (and conveniently so) than it did his father? Why can’t Spider-Man movies do the Goblin right? We’re 0 for 2 now! Finally, I know it’s a Sony movie so product placement is just a part of the game, but with everyone using a Sony Vaio in the movie, it made me think I was watching a commercial–it was just too much.

However, I did like that the costume was the traditional. I also liked the revelation that Peter’s dad is directly responsible for Peter being affected by the spider bite as he was. Oh, and Gwen Stacy. Or more accurately, Emma Stone’s performance. She was the real heavyweight of this film, and with–SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN THE MOVIE!!!–her death near the end, I have even less a reason to watch #3. As to Gwen’s death, I knew this was coming, but I had hoped it would happen in the third film, just so I could have more Emma as Gwen. When it did happen, I got upset, and not just because of that sickening dull sound of her body hitting the floor, but because I’ve always been team Gwen. One of my first comic books that I bought was a reprint of the issue in which she dies by Spider-Man’s hand. It’s such a beautifully tragic story. Come to think of it, the other comic that I bought that very same day featured Captain America and Electro, so wow for convergence!

As I tweeted after the movie, I sure hope that Marvel Studios can get the rights back from Sony in the next 10 years to do Spider-Man right. That will be one time where I will gladly accept a film reboot.

Podcast Episode 26: Avengers Movie Talk

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to do this particular episode, here finally is the LBR podcast discussion, with a special guest, about The Avengers movie. We still encountered technical issues, however (26 is 13 twice, so double the bad luck?!), so apologies ahead of time for that.

Thanks for listening!

Direct Download (1:37:28)

New Comics Wednesday (11/16/11) & Batman: Year One

It’s Wednesday, so you know what that means! Hmm, it appears to be an all DC week for me. What are you getting in your pull list for this week? After the list, have a read about the Batman: Year One DVD.

  • Batman #3
  • Birds of Prey #3
  • Blue Beetle #3
  • (Catwoman #3: If it’s on the shelf when I go to my local shop in a month, I’ll pick this up.)
  • DCU Presents #3
  • Justice League #3: My pick of the week!
  • LSH #3
  • Nightwing #3
  • Red Hood & the Outlaws #3: My last issue.
  • Supergirl #3
  • Wonder Woman #3

Batman: Year One was directed by Sam Lui & Lauren Montgomery, casting direction done by the ever-present and talented Andrea Romano, and voices by Bryan Cranston (Gordon), Ben McKenzie (Batman), and Eliza Dushku (Selina Kyle), plus some other fine folks.

The “Year One” story in Batman #404-407 (1986-1987) was written by Frank Miller, with art by David Mazzucchelli and colors by Richmond Lewis. This has long been one of my very favorite Batman stories and my only favorite Jim Gordon story since this tale is as much or more so about Gordon than it is about Bruce Wayne’s discovery of himself as Batman. Coming off the success of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Miller crafted a very toned down, but still kick-ass in a different way story. Mazzucchelli’s art was perfect for this story: it was simple, noirish, and distinctive from what was coming out in those days, at least in mainstream superhero comics. But props goes to Lewis’s colors. He used a muted, but very effective palette that depicted the situations and emotional states of the characters very well. If you haven’t read this, go get the trade (which reminds me: the trade I have erroneously states that the material was originally published in Batman: Year One 1-4. Who the hell wrote that copy?).

This movie, clocking in at a lean 64 minutes, is a very faithful adaptation of the source material. This is a double-edged sword to me. On one hand, I understand wanting to be faithful to the source, but on the other hand, being too faithful is boring to us (long-time) comic readers. Yes, it looks cool seeing your favorite storylines all animated and alive with the voices, but when the movie doesn’t bring something fresh, why bother? The style of the animation is also very Mazzucchelli-like, though, less with the line/shadow work than is in the source material, thus making the movie look a bit cleaner.

So, with that I turn to the voices. Bryan Cranston does a good job as Gordon. This movie, though titled Batman, is really about Gordon. Romano’s choice for Batman, however, was a bit surprising. McKenzie does a well enough job, but he’s so quiet and understated, which in one way fits the narrative, but it’s not very Batman, which is probably unfair of me. Dushku does a fine enough job as Selina in the main movie and in the Catwoman short. I also loved Alex Rocco as Falcone, though the guy’s voice is starting to show his age (which not a comment on his performance, just that it’s noticeable to me).

All in all, not bad, but not great. Just thinking back on the DC animated movies, this one ranks near the bottom in some aspects (length, voices), but higher in others (visuals, story). It’s certainly better than Wonder Woman or Green Lantern: First Flight, but not as good as Batman: Under the Red Hood or even Superman: Doomsday. :) Still, if you’re interested in how the movie adapts the great Miller/Mazzucchelli story or have never read that story and want to watch a Gordon/Batman origin story, check this out.

New Comics Wednesday (8/3/11) & a Review of Captain America

Here we are, the final month of the DCU as we know it. The end of everything that is DC in my Pull List. I can’t wait to see how things sit two to three months from now. In the meantime, this is what’s waiting for me this week.

  • Adventure Comics #529
  • Batman: Gates of Gotham #4
  • Flashpoint #4
  • Flashpoint: Batman #3
  • Flashpoint: Secret Seven #3
  • Flashpoint: World of FP #3
  • Mystic #1–I may regret buying this after the so-so performance of Ruse & Sigil, but here’s to hoping.
  • Secret Six #36–Le big SIGH. So sad to discover how much you like something and then find out it will end soon. Here’s to hoping that this title comes back in 2012 with Gail Simone writing it.
  • SHIELD #2
  • Superman #714

This last weekend I saw Captain America: The First Avenger. I enjoyed it. It had the right balance of being grounded (with WW II as the setting) and superheroics, though I thought the action sequences got somewhat repetitive. Chris Evans did a really good job of portraying Cap. In fact, I liked his performance so much, Marvel should use it as a blueprint on how to portray the character in the comics. One problem I have with many superhero films is that the bad guy almost always seems to outshine the hero, and that’s just wrong. Yes, we need a good villain to showcase the hero, but usually I come away with the impression that the hero was not much more than a supporting character in the film (pretty much any Batman film and especially Batman: The Dark Knight). However, the script and direction did a good job in balancing the good and bad, and Hugo Weaving did a very fine turn as Red Skull. Also good was Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips, Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine (he did what was probably the best acting in the film overall), and Haley Atwell as the love interest, Peggy Carter (she’s a little dreamy…).

As I said, the action sequences got repetitive–there was a lot of Cap shoving people with his shield and throwing the shield (I know, it’s Cap, but c’mon). Plus, how many times do I have to sit through the time is passing/plot is moving forward via action shots montage? That’s not really a knock on this film, but I’ve seen so many action films that employ that trope that I’m just tired of it. Another thing I’m tired of? Stan Lee being in the Marvel films. Go away already! Want to know one of the best things about X-Men: First Class? No Stan Lee cameo. ‘Nuff said.

There were nice bits for the fans: the Cosmic Cube, Bucky Barnes (with a nice twist on the his and Steve Rogers’s relationship that works great), seeing the original Human Torch in his glass display (no flames though), Dum Dum Dugan, and Howard Stark showing us where Tony gets his charm from and the beginnings of the tech we all recognize in the Marvel U (at least, in the movie version of it). Finally, and I can’t believe I’m complimenting this aspect, I liked that we are shown people getting shot and stabbed and evaporated–killed–since it IS a war film, after all.

What got me real excited while watching this film was the small preview we got at the end of The Avengers. It looks to be the superhero film of the year, and I think will be out the next Batman film in the box office.