Saturday, May 03, 2008

Eye Of The Tiger - Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi sings Eye of the Tiger in the most ridiculously ludicrous scene of Persepolis.

Oh, yeah, and here's the proper trailer:

with a LYSAD rating of 10/10: a must see movie, and the pinnacle of stylish animation.

Read more!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Marvel Capsule Reviews Week 15 2008

Keeping it sleek and fast, almost done catching up!


(Zeb Wells / Chris Bachalo)

Spidey gets snowed in, JJJ takes a walk, a seriously bad-ass God makes his debut, the debut of the Winter-Warm Spider-Man suit (with extra Newspaper stuffing) and a devilishly good twist! Plus, it's Chris Bachalo, drawing Spidey, in an oversnowed NYC! Love!



(Mark Millar / Bryan Hitch)

'World's Greatest' part 3 (of 4). Wow, things sure escalated fast. After two issues of Bob Bablaw, Millar hits the 'action' switch, as the CAP robot (meant here as some form of snarky/catchy teaser misdirect on the cover) goes renegade in Alaska. By the time the FF show up it has already taken apart all of Earth's heroes, and make short work of the FF, who -like rank amateurs- dive in one at a time to get their asses handed to them. Not impressed. As much as I want to like this, the title is losing credibility by the page, as the awkward plot pacing destroys any momentum the story might have had. Certainly not the World's Greatest, simply average, and for once the massive sales drop from the debut seems to agree.



(Paul Benjamin / Steve Scott)

Hulk battle Juggernaut in a cave. Hulk win, cave fall.

Um, ok , that's it. This issue was too predictable even for Marvel Adventures and lacked any real fun dialogue, original action and slapstick moments to make up for that.

Hulk bored now.


NOVA #12

(Dan Abnett & Richard Lanning / Paul Pelletier)

WARLOCK's back! Why didn't anyone tell me this? Why wasn't there a press release?

And by Warlock, I don't mean Adam Warlock (who's also back in Annihilation, but did get a press release), but this fella:

the lovable Technarchy kid from the New Mutants who fell victim to the bloody late 80s, and was resurrected (several times) during the bland and stale late 90s, only to later vanish into obscurity. It's great to see him back, and as his original lovable self! Paul Pelletier handles Warlock's design jaw-droppingly well, giving real dimension to what a lot of artists in the past have wussed out and drawn as a flat crazy-ink doodle. Sienkiewicz should be proud ;)



(Joe Casey / Jim Muniz)

Iron-Man's been a creep for the past two years (earning a truckload of Best Villain awards) but this seals it. He sends an untrained and unprepared team of strangers into battle, where they unexpectedly get attacked by a giant fire-breathing monster which tears up Las Vegas. His response? Disband the team and openly chastise and mock them. Huh? With this, the first team is out (poor Colossus, always getting the boot), and Nighthawk with Shulkie team-up to continue the Serpent Society sub-plots into exposition hell, but end up fighting each other over some uncalled for exchanges. Mr Casey, you're overplaying your hand.



(Jason Aaron / Ron Garney)

'Get Mystique' part 3.

Still the best damn Wolverine story in decades! (and probably the best cover of the year so far!). Last issue Logan got bitch-slapped by a nun, this time around he joins the 'terorists' as a suicide bomber, blows up a car with him inside, and ends up getting stabbed with a chair. Love hurts, bub. Each issue Jason Aaron ups his game by a notch, providing both an exciting cat&mouse chase plot, clever dialogue, twists, new bizarre deaths for Logan and exciting ways to reaffirm how cool and cruel both Logan and Mystique are. As for Ron Garney, I can't believe he had this potential unrealised all these years. Run. Read.


Read more!

DC Capsule Reviews Week 15 2008

Short one this week, with only 3 DC titles for review. And they're all three beyond abysmal at 3/10! My wallet thanks you, mr DiDio. Getting right into it


(Paul Dini & Sean McKeever/ Freddie Williams III)

Ugh. Freddie Williams. Sorry, but: no, no, no. And we had such a good few week art-wise with Kollins and freakin' Starlin! No...

After 49 issues the Challengers face Darksei-- no, no they don't. Superman and his Best Pal Jimmy Olse face Darkseid while the regular cast gets thrown about by Black Mary Marvel, now Darkseid's servant. It's all dull until Mary picks up Kyle Rayner's unconscious body and hits Donna with it... repeatedly. Oh, and Jimmy turns into Giant Lizard Jimmy.



(Judd Winnick / Mike Norton & Wayne Faucher)

Help! Help! I'm drowning in slapstick!

Winnick tries to be funny - but, well... he's not.

So, the little gray aliens chasing our couple last issue are revealed to be... americans wearing rubber zip-on masks. The fact the Green Arrow never noticed is apparently comedy gold and milked for 4-5 solid pages. The attackers are then stripped, tied to a chair and interrogated in an.. unusual manner:

Yeah, my sentiments exactly...

So, to get things straight. They tied these guys up and then went out to hire an overweight clown stripper, an elderly playboy bunny and a sheep (along with S&M gear for the latter). This could have worked if this was a parody/satire/meta title like X-Statix or Nextwave or even Giffen's Justice League; But it's not; and it doesn't.

The rest of the issue sees the Arrow family chasing a lead to London, with loads of brit jokes, more Ollie in a fat suit and beard and a confusing fight; confusing, mainly because B;lack Canary and Speedy are both in civies (jeans, hoodie and jacket), they're both using swords, and the only way to tell the blondes apart is Speedy's ponytail.

Mike Norton fills in for Cliff Chiang this month, though the inker makes sure to cover the artistic differences by inking in the same thick brush line style.



(Judd Winnick / Ian Churchill)

'The Fickle Hand' part 2. (No, you haven't missed #0, the first part was a few months back in the Titans East one-shot, although noone mentions it here)

So, Titans #1...also known as the book that stunk so bad it made Countdown look good!

Yes, more Winnick bashing. Grab a chair. The original Titans are featured in a series of solo segments, as each of them is introduced in their respective environments, drop some expository personal narrations, and are each attacked by a different serious huge interesting monster/villain. Meet-narrate-threat-NEXT-meet-narrate-threat-NEXT-meet--- you get the drift. Then they all meet up and discuss how they should join against Trigon.


No, there's no more missing pages. Winnick just skipped all those messy battles, since all the readers really wanted was the exposition leading to the battles and the epilogue. Who needs those boring 'Act Two's, eh? Ironically enough, when the reader does need a bit of exposition on who Trigon is and why he warrants a double-page spread reveal... mum's the word. Oh, dear.

DC's essential mistake in the Titans line is that they're repeating past mistakes, by reverting to the pre-Geoff Johns status quo of the titles. Remember? Back when they used to suck and noone cared? We had Titans for the original group and later additions, and Young Justice for the teen sidekicks. Johns wisely merged the two books together, making them a cohesive family and having a Teen Titans team full of heavy hitters and brand names. 50 issues later, and Teen Titans is only Robin & Wonder Girl with some unknowns, and all the original Titans are forming yet another super-team with no specific reason for existing. Boo.


Read more!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Real Men Don't Cry

Source: Erik Larsen / Fantastic Comics #24 (Image Comics)
Read more!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ghost Rider #21-23


Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Ronald Boschi

Marvel Comics

'Hell-Bent & Heaven-Bound' part 1-3. One basic background fact about your humble reviewer: I don't know bikes. I don't like bikes. I can't ride bikes. Heck, I can't even ride a bicycle.

Yet here I am, reading Ghost Rider, all because Jason Aaron has signed up as the new regular writer.

More background facts:

My first J.A. title was 'the Other Side' from Vertigo; I was impressed with his writing in his next project 'Scalped', most probably Vertigo best current ongoing series (after Y's ending); I fell in love with him when he started writing the best 'Wolverine' stories in decades; and now that he's made me read Ghost Rider -and worse, made me enjoy love Ghost Rider- now I want the man's babies! ;)

So, Ghost Rider. Mortal possessed by a devil, flaming head, leathers, chains, flaming Harley from Hell. Yawn. But-wait! The Devil didn't make him? There's a renegade archangel who plans to overthrow God? Ghost Rider is key? And he must now find a way to break into Heaven and talk to God about all this?

There's more? He's found a way in, but he has to escape from a team of Super-Nurses with Machine Guns? Run through a highway paved over the bodies of 77 cannibals and haunted by their ghosts? Machine Gun Nurses? Ghost Cannibals?

This is Ghost Rider (finally) as the vehicle for the biggest baddest and most violent Grindhouse Action Movie of the Year.

Go. Buy.


Read more!

Marvel Capsule Reviews Week 14 2008


(Zeb Wells / Chris Bachalo)

I'm digging Brand New Day! (I'll keep writing this every week to let it sink in). I'm looking past the chain of events that got us here, and enjoying what is clearly a return to greatness. This is the Spidey I remember loving to read each week growing up (we had weekly pocket-size Spidey reprints in pink and black ink). A vast supporting cast, fresh new villains each month, tragedy and woes mixed with joy and bad one-liners, amazing writers, spectacular artists, self-contained stories and arcs, fun fights, interesting challenges. Did we really need MJ out of the way to tell these great stories? Emphatically no. Did we need a deal with the devil, and Harry back from the dead? Hell no. But we're looking past that, looking past, looking past... damn! Thought that was working.

The start of a three-part story of Spidey fighting ancient ice spirits in a snowed-down NY, with a helpful guest-appearance by Wolverine and Doc Strange, all drawn by Chris -drool- Bachalo who seems to be on a coherent phase of his career, giving us a Spidey that's both reminiscent and yet so much cooler than the famous McFarlane rendition. Excelsior!



(Duane Swierczynski / Ariel Olivetti)

'War Baby' part 2.
Cable's ran to the future (2043AD to be exact) to protect the new Mutant baby girl, and the mutants' only hope for survival. Bishop is in hot pursuit, sporting a cybernetic arm, a time-hopping doo-hickey and a personality purge. I was never a big fan of Bishop, and only an occasional reader of Cable (the Robinson-Casey run and Lobdell/Ha's telling of his origins are fantastic); the two characters represent to me the part of the 90s X-Men lore that should remain dead and buried: time-travelling mutants who have been kept around long after the end of the storylines they came back to avert, and kept them relative. Writers and editors have tried to pigeonhole them in all sorts of scenarios since then, but whether it's alternate realities, war-torn countries, small island dictatorships, they never quite fit. This time they're both shoehorned into a future we still know next to nothing about, and spend their time punching and firing at each other with their huge arms and huger guns. Ariel Olivetti has been allowed to return to his painted art style from a few years back; Cable look amazingly realistic, but bishop and any other costumed X-Men feel out of place in such a detailed setting. And boy, do I wish that baby would stop changing sizes between panels!



(Mark Millar / John Romita Jr)

Kick-Ass? Oh boy, it sure does! Just when I was beginning to lose my faith in Millar, he pulls me back in. This is the story of a real life kid who decides to emulate his comicbook super-heroes, put on a costume and take to their streets to fight crime. Dumb, right? At the ending of last issue he (supposedly) learned a hard lesson, barely surviving his first mission and ending spending a whole year in hospital, surgeries and physiotherapy. Millar is taking the story throuh some unexpected turns, and I couldn't decide to pity the boy, cheer for him or slap him into his senses (well, scratch tat, it hardly worked the first time around). A big part of the success of the book is John Romita pulling no punches (heh) in portraying the awful, big, bloody violence in the book; not Frank Miller over-the-top action movie violence, no: real this-could-happen-to-you violence that sends shivers down your spine as you turn the page. Bravo!



(Chris Kipiniak / David Nakayama)

SWARM! They're a flock of beez.

SWARM! They look like a man!

SWARM! They wear a purple cape.

SWARM! They talk with a lizzzzzzp!

SWARM! They're horny for a Queen Bee!

SWARM! They're feeding her teenagerzzz!

But what of Spider-Man? He's bullied by the aforementioned teenagers, melting in the heat-wave and those bullies just stole his last clean uniform. Excellent little Swarm adventure, I've been itching to see my favourite Amazing Friends villain in Brand New Day, but MA is here to sate my honey-craze for now :) (Oh and check out that Skottie Young cover! Guy's a genius!)



(Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa / Alina Urusov)

Wiccan & Speed are the Scarlet Witch's kids, mysteriously returned to life as feisty teenagers. In this short feature tale, they're going on a road trip to find their missing mum. The journey takes them to the ruins of Genosha, the magical Wundagore and the New Jersey old home of Wanda & Vision where they stumble into my favourite forgotten West Coast Avengers (I was a major fanboy growing up) villain: Master Pandemonium! Ah, the memories! This is an amusing done-in-one that follows the same directive as the previous issues, and tells a fun story that leaves the characters completely unchanged - since Heinberg has dibs on their stories when he does return with vol. 2 of the regular series. Major points to Sacasa for the 'aw, cute' honest portrayal of Hulkling and Wiccan's relationship, it's always a treat to see the prominent Marvel gay super-couple on the page.



(Mark Guggenheim / Yanick Paquette)

Here we go AGAIN! Another new generation of new mutants, another new writer, another tedious chain of sequences with Cyclops/Dani/Prof X recruiting them one by one, and of course, another first battle against Donald Pierce. Do the X-Men hire him out for training every time a new team is formed?


It's the History Lesson bell! Gather round. When New Mutants v. 2-3 was launched by Weir/DeFillippo a few years back, it was a train-wreck. A hand-picked few mutants who didn't hold any interest and were sleepwalking through romantic subplots and outside attacks and dragged back by the constant presence of the original New Mutants in the cast as their tutors... It was eventually relaunched into New X-Men: Academy X (mainly to cash in on the backwash of Morrison's recently completed run) but that solved none of the problems, just increased the cast with young mutants who looked hopeful but weren't realising any of their potential, trapped in a loop of childish ghost stories, alternate realities and visiting relatives. Time for another change: X-Men Evolution's Craig Kyle and Chris Yost took over and immediately made their mark by killing off the majority of the school's students and placing the rest in the cross-lines of Stryker's Purifiers; suddenly there was action, the boring main cast was weeded out, the remaining kids were developing as characters and maturing into X-Men; after two years there was a captivating group of students who had captured the hearts of the new generation of fans--

--and then Marvel cancels the book and relaunches with a new cast and creative team. Mark Guggenheim is a cringe-worthy writer at best from what little of his work I've read so far (including his abysmal Wolverine saga), but he seems a favourite of the current editorial administration. The team he has hand-picked is... uninteresting. Whedon's Blindfold and surprise fan-fave Rockslide are the returning members, Wolfcub (a previous student popularised by Chuck Austen of all people, in a storyline mysteriously referenced heavily this issue, with the only purpose to confuse new readers) and... some new characters we don't learn much about. I just don't care at this point, and I desperately want my New X-Men cast back. Please?



(Jason Aaron / Ronald Boschi)

'Hell-Bent & Heaven-Bound' part 1-3.

One basic background fact about your humble reviewer: I don't know bikes. I don't like bikes. I can't ride bikes. Heck, I can't even ride a bicycle.

Yet here I am, reading Ghost Rider, all because Jason Aaron has signed up as the new regular writer.




(Brian K. Vaughan / Eduardo Risso)

Remember the amazing cliffhanger last issue? A tale from Logan's past as a soldier in the WWII, fighting and falling in love... in Hiroshima.

Vaughan always has an amazing way with cliffhangers; this issue he takes the event that the reader now clearly expects to see and spins it into a startling moment of cruelty and realisation. I wasn't too impressed with the first issue, as I felt it was padded out to push the reveal into the cliffhanger; this story makes up for it a thousandfold, words and art merging into the poetic telling of a love affair and a gruesome apocalyptic battle. Risso is an overlooked talent, and his art takes on a different dimension here; Risso's inks are most often coloured with moody flats, but now Dean White uses a watercolour effect and a yellow pallette to transport the reader to mid-War Japan.

Marvel has also released a B&W version of the book, but I wouldn't recommend it, other than for simple curiosity, as the colours are crucial to the book and the art here.



(Chris Claremont / Tom Grummett)

I'll just let Claremont himself -through his darling Psylocke- sum up my feelings on the New Exiles:
Their new mission ends with more tedious battles, reveals, silly coincidences and 'oh look who that is in this reality' moments that make little sense and serve no purpose. Why can't Claremont take a look back at his huge volume of work, or even the more recent X-Treme X-Men issues that did work (I personally enjoyed most of #20-35 and Mekanix), compare it with what he's currently putting out and get a wake-up call!


Read more!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

DC Capsule Reviews Week 14 2008

Got a tad carried away this week, so two of the capsule reviews will actually be appearing as full reviews here and on the Nexus. Links within!

Still catching up, two weeks to go, and these are DC Comics for the first week of March 2008


(Paul Dini & Sean McKeever / Jamal Igle)

I was so happy to finally see some progress in the character arcs during the past month, after spending a whole month stuck in the same lame status quo. Boy, did I rush my turn to speak.

This issue, everyone gets back to Earth-1, Jason Todd ditches the Red Robin identity (after what, an issue and a half? What's the point of teasing about it in posters since before the story started?), Mary Marvel becomes evil again (after a whole big fuss of the Gods re-granting her powers. Again, that lasted an issue and a half), Harley and Holly return to normal lives (after 5 panels of having powers). I could stomach most of that, but Mary Marvel's turning into an amoral power-bitch without an external evil spirit manipulating just spits in the face of the character and her history, especially since there's hardly any actual character growth to support the new switch. Jamal Igle does a remarkable job on the pencils, but I just feel sad that Sean McKeever's name is attached to this drivel.



(Geoff Johns / Gary Frank / Jon Sibal)

Superman & The Legion of Super-heroes Finale. Aw, look at those Legion kids, all grown up! Geoff Johns checks back on the original Legion of Super-Heroes, years after the first reboot of the series. Johns has crafted an impressive tale, taking into account every facet of the original Legion: the heroes, the villains, the rejects and the substitutes. I'm not familiar with any of the characters showing up here, but it didn't encumber my enjoyment of the story, as I could feel -even without knowing- the rich history that he was drawing from. Johns is riding an amazing creative high, giving the most classic Action Comics run of recent decades; each storyline is carefully chosen to explore a different facet of Super-man, take him to a whole different world, and always be something that feels... important.

The story of course flows into Final Crisis in the form of an upcoming 'Legion of Three Worlds' promoted as a crossover between the three different Legions (after the franchise's two complete reboots), but described by the writer as simply 'Superman & the (original) Legion of Super-Heroes vs Superboy Prime (w00t) & the Legion of Super-Villains', with probably a few other Legion variations thrown in for marketing. I'm still confused why DC would keep the ongoing Legion title (which was rebooted on the strength of Waid's vision for the title) alive after Waid left, with Jim Shooter on board as the writer (Shooter being the writer who popularised the original Legion), while at the same time only featuring the original Legion in the company's major titles (JLA, Action Comics, Countdown and soon Final Crisis). Why keep the new Legion title around, if you're only going to be acknowledging the original everywhere else. -sigh-



(Paul Dini / Dustin Nguyen)

Batman and fresh love interest Zatanna (really?) face off against Scarface (the gun-totting gangster dummy) and the new and improved (well improved curves) Ventriloquist. Bruce Wayne & Zatanna=euch, not buying it, as the two have nothing connecting them other than being Dini's faves. Bring Selina in, man! Dini's puppy love for Zatanna poses other problems in his storytelling as well; Zatanna is not meant to be a permanent fixture of Gotham City, as she's a gazillion power levels above Batman's Rogues gallery (consisting mainly of psychotic humans with fancy get-ups and guns); her showdown with the Ventriloquist just looks pathetic and insulting to the reader's intelligence. Why not spin her off into her own ongoing? The only thing making this a worthwhile story is the new Ventriloquist, a blonde bombshell from Bruce's past who could prove a more memorable figure to fill the V role.



(Pete Milligan / Pete Woods)

The Bogeyman part 1. DC is making amends for condemning the launch of Infinity Inc with the choice of untested rookie Max Fiumara on art, paired with an even more incompatible colorist. DCU readers might be open to a Vertigo-esque (ugh, I already hate that term as I type it) take on their superheroes, but it needs to come in an attractive package for it to work. Think X-Force/X-Statix. Think All-Star Superman.




(Peter J. Tomasi / Rags Morales)

'Freefall' part 4. An uneven finale to what started as a promising storyline. Nightwing and Robin have been investigating a string of zombie super-villains running amok, the trail leading them to Talia and the League of Assassins. This issue is a basic James Bond routine: planes turning into subs, scuba-diving to the island, surveillance, infiltration through secret lake entrances, big angel cloning labs, maniacal doctors, death traps (with Robin tied up on an honest-to-God conveyor belt of broken Angels being dropped off into Hell) and rocket escapes. It has an element of insane fun to it, but it's anti-climactic (if this is indeed the last part of the storyline) as the generic old doctor villain is still unnamed and the trail leading to Talia left dangling. Nightwing and Robin work great as a tag team, I hope the kid sticks around.



(Allen Warner / JJ Kirby & Oliver Nome)

I honestly tried to care about this title, but I can't find any solid footing, despite some interesting characters. The plot follows Love Rocket (superhero / radio DJ) urging blaxploitation superman Black Halo out of retirement to investigate the disappearance of the world's superheroes, their first stop being the dubious/murderous/vacuous corporate super-hero The Invincible Sword. As much as the Sword makes fun reading in a Guy Gardner sort of way, the first two issues haven't done enough to keep me interest; I doubt I'll be reading the next issue.



(Marv Wolfman / Damion Scott)

If I can manage to overlook the ill-suited graffiti art, Wolfman actually has a decent story to tell here; Raven is taking advantage of her rebirth to try living as a normal teenager for the first time, go to high school and make friends. Her social awkwardness and complete disconnection from any form of pop culture make for some amusing gags, although the fun gets too cheesy when it's time for her cheerleader try-outs and her first game of bowling. Leave the poor 'emo' (as per the first issue's cover blurb, not my fault) girl alone! What keeps me coming back is the inclusion of the Psycho Pirate mask in the equation, now linked to a mass broadcasting device and used by a team of scientists not shy on experimenting on a school of teenagers.



(Kelley Puckett / Drew Johnson)

'Way of the World' part 1. Finally a Supergirl story I can cheer for! Puckett wisely ditches the conventional super-fight routines and goes for a story that touches at the very heart of Supergirl: a 16-year old idealistic teenage superhero. Supergirl has just promised a dying 5-year old kid that she will cure cancer for him, and no matter what Superman or Wonder Woman or any grown up have to say about the matter she won't keep trying.




(Rick Remender / Pat Olliffe)

'Inside Out' part 2. Last issue, the Atom went exploring inside his own blood sample, recovering a monster which he then enlarged to study. Dumb! Now the giant monster is running rampant in the city, killing his best friend, his potential hot girlfriend of a new neighbour and more! Dumb! Still, he makes a conscious decision to NOT call in the cavalry/JLA but try to tackle this problem alone. DUMB! As for the issue itself, it offers nothing more than mindless shoot-outs against a giant man-eating germ; it's quirky but not quirky enough to drag out through an entire issue. Better to skip straight to the next chapter.



(Chuck Dixon / Julian Lopez)

This has fast grown into one of my fave super-team books. Batman's hand-picked team of covert operatives, sort of his take on Oracle's Birds of Prey. Dixon surprises pleasantly with a comeback noone saw coming, and surprisingly noone at DC thought to promote:

the Dibnys have joined the Outsiders! Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny and his wife Sue have been long-time fan-favourites, from the stint in Giffen's Justice League, and turned into martyrs when Sue was unceremoniously raped and murdered in Identity Crisis and Ralph died trying to resurrect her and save the world from the devil in 52. The end of 52 teased their reunion as a pair of Ghost Detectives, and this looks like the title where we'll be seeing the next chapter of their story.


Read more!