Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Secret Wars is Going to Have a Comic Named Like An Awful Event But Unrelated To It...Huh?

Secret Wars and the New Battleworld-Lands.
If you follow comics much you undoubtedly know that the upcoming "Secret Wars" event will result in a lot of comics getting temporarily or permanently cancelled by Marvel and replaced by various comics set in the "Battleworld" of the event. Some of the comics have been new versions of or extensions of current Marvel titles (Captain Marvel becomes Carol Corps) and some popular older events and comic-runs are being revisited (Old Man Logan, for one example). Now, so far most of the stuff that has been announced looks back to beloved series or times, but now I'm starting to worry Marvel might be getting confusing with their announcement today of yet another series that will have its own little chunk of land in the "Battleworld."

Siege...But Not?
Back when Marvel wrapped-up "Secret Invasion" they made things a bit interesting by having Norman Osborn come out of the Skrull invasion looking like a hero. This led to his gaining power during a, "Dark Reign," of sorts until he eventually lost everything during a terrible event-comic called "Siege" that was little more than an excuse to kick Norman out and get rid of the mostly-reviled "Sentry" character. Today Marvel announced they are going to be doing a "Secret Wars" comic titled "Siege," so immediately I thought it would reference that awful comic. Well, in an even weirder twist, it isn't. That's right, a comic titled, "Siege" that Marvel announced today with a similar logo to it--even with the blue-shading--isn't actually at all involved with that earlier event. Instead, the comic is serving as a, "Spiritual sequel," to writer Kieron Gillen's awesome-but-mostly-ignored "S.W.O.R.D." mini-series.

It has protagonist Abigail Brand of that comic (and now this) working with a varied cast of characters on the Battleworld to prevent the entire Southern Pole of the aforementioned Battleworld from destroying the Shield (not S.H.I.E.L.D. as this is apparently a different, living entity), which she is in charge of. Apparently if this Shield is destroyed some hideous beings can ruin the rest of the Battleworld, so it falls on Brand and her, "Eclectic cast," including but not limited to, "Miss America Chavez from Young Avengers, Leah of Hel from Journey Into Mystery, Illyanna Rasputin from All-New x-Men, a medieval version of Kate "Hawkeye" Bishop, a number of UNITs from S.W.O.R.D and an army of clones from Mr. Sinister called the Endless Summers," to keep everyone safe.
That's some crazy-good artwork.
This all sounds delightfully insane and involves a variety of characters Gillen has worked on before or will do justice to. Also, there will be some stellar art with one of the illustrators being the superb James Stokoe. Therefore, it all sounds great except for the name. I mean, why use the word, "Siege," if this comic appears to have nothing to do with it as it once existed? I mean, clearly a siege of sorts is going on, but unless the Sentry from that event makes a surprise appearance at the end of the first issue, or Osborn gets involved somehow I don't see what this has to do with that event whatsoever. Really, that makes using the title and the odd blue-shading not at all useful. I mean, didn't most people hate "Siege" with a passion and viewed it more as the means-to-an-end for finishing "Dark Reign" than anything else?

I just don't understand Marvel's thinking behind getting such a stellar writer (my favorite of 2014) and artist, then attaching them to a cool-sounding project but giving it that name. I just hope when the comic comes out it maybe makes some sense to remind us of a seemingly completely different comic.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rant-Reviews--Let's Use our Imagination!

Get Ready to Play Pretend!
Today I'm going to review some comics that kinda share a theme, with that theme being our imaginations and how we use them. What's that, you're confused? Well, read the article and then everything should make more sense. Maybe.


Neverboy #1
This was an interesting first issue. Basically, there is an imaginary friend who has found a way to just barely exist in the real world by taking advantage of the concept of fantasy, and using some very real medication. The comic at first is confusing with his family discussing how they feel people don't notice them ever, but things slowly come into place as some mysterious men take Neverboy's family back to the realm of imagination and try to arrest him for breaking, "The rules," whatever they may be. It's a solid introduction to the character and has me wondering just what kind of rules he has gone-up against, along with what kind of organization the people pursuing him are a part of.  I'll definitely want to check out the next issue to see if we get some answers, or at least more intriguing questions.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Supreme: Blue Rose #7
I previously expressed some annoyance at "Supreme Blue Rose" and how I was worried that unless the seventh issue finally got around to spilling the beans and explaining everything that I would be upset with the series. Well, in a remarkable turn of events this issue actually does put all the puzzle pieces into place and gets a bit meta too, with writer Warren Ellis kind of making me think of Grant Morrison and his tendency to treat continuity as its own storytelling device (shown in-depth in my next review). You see, this issue the characters all realize the world is being weird because it is a tad broken after a revision. As Ethan Crane/Supreme puts it, "Every now and then," the world changes and revises itself into something new. The same people are there, but oftentimes different. Now, the book doesn't outright say how these revisions are done by the hand of an invisible God, i.e. the writer, but an allusion is clearly made to the characters acknowledging they are simple ideas forever being revised and rewritten as desired.

This is actually a pretty clever way to try and explain all the various versions of "Supreme" we have seen over the decades (be they Alan Moore, Erik Larsen, or *shudder* Rob Liefeld), and be able to claim they are all true and in a continuity-of-sorts, just revisions of themselves with all versions being, "Real," in a way. I tip my hat to Ellis for actually giving me a satisfying conclusion to a story I feared would end-up as an utter mess, and I tip my hat once again to artist Tula Lotay for giving us just incredibly gorgeous imagery. Now that I know this all makes sense in the end I actually feel a bit of an urge to re-read the series so that I can both more thoroughly enjoy the story, and so my eyes can again immerse themselves in the beauty that is Tula Lotay's art.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1
If my previous review of "Supreme: Blue Rose" is for a comic that gently bumps up against the 4th wall, then this is a book that doesn't just tap the wall, it shatters it into a million pieces and goes full-on metafiction with a vengeance. A comic that knows its a comic, with the super-hero being you, the reader, this is a mind-melting piece of reading, demanding at times you turn the page or don't turn the page, whilst the characters describe how they are pieces of ink on paper staring at you. It is all very surreal and in some ways a culmination of what Grant Morrison started with his run on "Animal Man" in the 1980's where the character eventually broke out of the comic to confront Morrison himself.

With just the final book-end issue of "The Multiversity" remaining we can only wonder if some answers will be gleamed about what became of each world, if we, the hero of this comic--managed to win, and if Morrison is going to turn in a solid ending to what is arguably his magnum-opus of almost every idea he's ever expressed...or if this is going to end up coming off like a messy vanity project. All I know is that as someone who enjoyed the post-modernism of Morrison's, "The Filth," I ate-up this issue and would consider it a favorite along with the "Pax Americana" entry in the series.

Another individual who has worked with Morrison a bit--Doug Mahnke--provides the art and in yet another example of being self-aware the comic points out how his style is one that is both friendly to those who enjoy the crisp art-style of the Golden Age, but want some of that Modern edge in it too. Considering the madness in this issue that Mahnke has to illustrate he does an expert job, with it really feeling like the characters on the paper are yelling or grinning at us in the moments the comic directly addresses us, the reader. Another all-around stellar issue in the loosely-linked "The Multiversity" series that has me even more excited for the final issue.
5 out of 5 stars.

Exhausted From Dreaming
Having read my reviews, I think you now understand that all these comics deal with our imaginations and sense of wonderment in some way. Whether being about imaginary friends or a piece of entertainment that acknowledges its own existence as fiction, clearly the human mind can concoct some crazy things.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Review of "Teen Titans: Earth One"

I Gave It a Chance...
I've read some of the "Earth One" books before and found them mostly unremarkable. However, Jeff Lemire tends to be a really strong writer and Terry and Rachel Dodson are a stellar artist-team, so when I was able to acquire this book for a good discount at a store, I figured I might as well give it a shot.

...and I'm Pretty Glad I Did!
I recently finished reading "Teen Titans: Earth One" and my first thought upon closing the book was how I felt intrigued in the story, but not fully sated in my curiousity. Now, that is both a positive and negative thing to think. It is positive because it means I enjoyed what I did get to read, but is problematic in that as the first volume in the story it should maybe feel somewhat satisfying in its conclusion--especially considering it may be some time before we get a new entry in the series (these "Earth One" books seem to be suffering from years between entries--we don't even have the 2nd volume of the Batman book anywhere in sight and it took a bit to get the 2nd for Superman).

Perhaps one problem is that because we are dealing with a team, everyone needs some time, "In the spotlight," of the book before coming together as a group, and that results in a big chunk of the book simply being setup and the preamble to our "Teen Titans" actually engaging in any action. It's a good thing that Lemire expertly writes the quiet difficult of being a teenager, from the awkwardness of puberty to feeling disconnected from one's parents, as if that didn't feel interesting half the book would have been an utter slog to get through.
The overall plot is a bit straightforward--a bunch of teenagers in a quiet Northwest-USA town start developing strange powers accompanied by experiencing mental-images of a strange female figure who we eventually learn (spoiler alert from here on out) is Starfire. These teenagers apparently were adopted youth who had grafts put on them that led to the development of their emerging powers--with "their" parents simply being employees of the shady organization that has been raising them. Well, almost all of them outside of Raven, a Native American whose spiritual abilities has resulted in her receiving messages from Starfire too, and being able to assist the Titans via a form of telepathy.

There are allusions to other Titan's stories that exist, such as the appearance of Deathstroke, but this is clearly in its own world (or are the "Earth One" comics all in the same Universe? Have we figured that out for sure yet?) that requires little-to-no knowledge of who the Titans are to enjoy the comic.

As for the artwork that accompanies the story, Terry and Rachel Dodson supply some stellar pencils and inks, giving everything an energetic and edgy style that fits well with tone of coming-of-age yet still having youthfulness. Cyborg's metallic attributes are drawn in a way that make it look effortlessly liquid-yet-slightly-solid and whenever Beast Boy (not actually ever called that in the comic, but yeah) leaps into action the smooth line-style makes him truly look in motion.
So yes, it is a great-looking comic and written well, but it still is annoying how so much time is spent introducing the characters, building a plot of how they want to fight against an evil corporation, and introducing a new destination for them to go to at the end of the book...and then it suddenly ending. I'm all for a good cliff-hanger, but come on, you leave us dangling like that knowing full well it might be a year or two before the next volume in this story comes out? At least show us the evil CEO we hear mention of, or explain what exactly Starfire kept saying she needed help for--throw us a bone!

Complaints aside about feeling a bit let-down by the ending I quite enjoyed "Teen Titans: Earth One" and would recommend it to anyone looking for a continuity-free way to get to know these characters better--just don't expect another entry in their adventures anytime too soon, if the track-record of other "Earth One" books is any indicator.
4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Batgirl", and Those Who Use Controversy For Their Own Gain

A Week Without Internet and This Happens...
I was away on a fun trip (I enjoyed a cruise with my lady). I had a post go-up while I was gone reviewing some comics and figured nothing too interesting would occur during the time I was on a boat traveling to Mexico. I mean, we had no big-name conventions, solicits for the batch of comics we get in two months were out, and yeah, what was there to expect? Apparently, a whole lot of emotion over this variant cover for "Batgirl":
While I was gone people talked about how they wanted the cover to not be released, or did want it to be released. DC decided to pull it from being an official offering at the request of the artist--Rafael Albuquerque who felt all the hubbub detracted from what he was doing--namely, making a comic-cover that alluded to the famous "The Killing Joke" story. I think Bleeding Cool summed up pretty well why the cover is inappropriate for "Batgirl" currently, in that the comic has a much more bright and peppy tone, but I understand how people could be disturbed by the cover and its implications of calling-back to a story that featured the Joker paralyzing, degrading, and possibly sexually assaulting Barbra Gordon.

As I said, I can see how the cover upsets some, and at the end of the day it is completely up to the original artist and DC what they feel to do with a cover that isn't even the main one for the comic, but a variant few would even have seen. What bothers me is that what started out as an argument over whether a not a cover should be printed has grown into something being treated as the potential end of the world.

Taking Advantage of an Opportunity
"Prolonged, public, and heated," indeed.
This is a comic-book cover. It is not a case of censorship, "Social Justice Warriors" ruining men's rights, or feminism run amok as some are claiming. This is not some big conspiracy to ruin comic-books (a la how #Gamergate claimed it really was all about, "Ethics in Journalism") and I find myself annoyed by how people who could care less about our medium suddenly are galvanized to support one side or the other of this controversy for little more than their own gain. All the conservative websites talking about this don't care more about comics or video-games than they did yesterday, they just see a way to possibly gain some more support, money, or both and have hopped on the bandwagon of the latest controversy that is now more of a "controversy" with those big quotation marks there for a reason. Liberal folk benefit too because it lets them claim how the other side is being insensitive, should realize the cover concerns people (AKA people they want supporting them) and etc.

I personally don't care if this cover comes out or not because 99% of the time I avoid variant covers like the plague. Everyone thinking they can use this as a way to drum-up attention annoys me though, as if the slightest bit of argument has to grow into an epic political fight with anyone who thinks they can get more clicks or dollars getting involved. Should you not care about something, don't use a controversy for your own gain. If you are a conservative or liberal who truly loves comics and has an opinion on this, that's great--but please for the love of God don't give Adam Baldwin something else to ramble on about.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rant-Reviews--Two New Image Books, Howard the Duck, and a Weird Issue of Batman

A Strange Assortment
For this smattering of Rant-Reviews I thought I would share my thoughts on two new Image books that came out this week, the newest launch of a Howard the Duck comic, and the 39th issue of Batman, with the series having gotten really strange lately.

The Reviews
The Surface #1
I am a fan of Ales Kot, so almost anything he writes is bound to be something I like. The Surface is his newest release with stellar and surreal art by Langdon Foss, and it reads like how people in the past might have predicted our comics in the future would read. It randomly bounces around between our main story and faux-articles about technology or interviews with some mysterious artist. It focuses on a world where we are so obsessed with our computers we let them share all our lives, and in the process lose any privacy (sound at all familiar to today), and some young hackers desire to fix this by finding a mysterious space called, "The Surface," which may or may  not prove all of our existence is a hologram

The comic clearly draws influences from Warren Ellis' famous "Transmetropolitian" comic with its satire of our society, and proudly wears such an influence on its sleeve, with one newsfeed we see flutter by in the comic mentioning a, "Spider Jerusalem" as a graffiti tag. The comic is also pretty humorous and a bit sad in the manner "Transmet" was but is clearly its own strange beast too. Foss' artwork has a realism to it that makes its ability to also look exaggerated and cartoonish even more impressive.  I'm not quite certain where Kot is going with this title, but I bet it will be pretty weird. In case you weren't sure, that is a good thing.
4 out of 5 stars.

Southern Cross #1
I like Becky Cloonan, and her writing for this comic set in the future (also like fellow image comic, "The Surface", go figure) carries a relaxed and down-to-earth tone with our main character, something that serves as a good counter to the fantastic space-elements as Alex Braith goes to the moon of Titan to recover her sister's body from a sleazy corporation that mines the planet--and one which Braith suspects might have had a hand in her sister's death. We don't actually learn this issue what happened to Braith's sister, but I am sure as the story continues more will be revealed. A solid start for the series, even if that weird last-page reveal is more confusing than anything else.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Howard the Duck #1
I have seen it discussed how doing a "Howard the Duck" comic without the late Steve Gerber feels wrong, for a variety of reasons ranging to how he and Marvel quarreled about the character to how no one else seemed to write the character as well as Gerber did. I will agree there is some discomfort to such a comic appearing, but after the surprise cameo by Howard in last year's, "Guardians of the Galaxy," (Um, spoiler-alert for the one person who still hasn't seen it)" and the roaring response that got should we really be surprised if Marvel/Disney sees a chance to make money they take such a chance and run as fast to the bank with it as they can?

That said, it really helps that Chip Zdarsky (normally known for his art on "Sex Criminals") turns in some superb writing, giving us a comic full of gags and self-aware humor--even acknowledging Howard's at-times painful past with cinema (George Lucas, anyone?). Between making fun of everything from Spider-Man's obsession with Uncle Ben dying to She-Hulk pointing out Howard has an office straight out of the 1960's, Zdarsky writes a truly laugh-out-loud title. Joe Quinones supplies art that matches the tone perfectly, with a bright and poppy appearance hearkening back to Howard's old days while simultaneously fitting-in with today's era. It may feel sacrilegious to have Howard without Gerber, but even if we can't have that ever again at least this is a superb first issue.
5 out of 5 stars.

Batman #39
"Batman" has been quite strange as of late. Snyder wrapped up "Zero Year" to take us to events set after "Batman: Eternal" with the Joker causing utter mayhem. Joker has always had a variety of origins,  and the previous issue added another wrinkle claiming that some strange chemical has kept him alive for centuries, always being a troublemaker--as I said, kinda weird. Whether the story is true or pure nonsense may not really matter--as even the back-up story makes clear with the argument that the Joker is everything to everyone who needs some sort of boogeyman. That said, I've always been quite partial to the Alan Moore argument made in "The Killing Joke" that the Joker was simply a normal man who had a terrible day, with just the right elements leading him to crack. Whatever the case, writer Scott Snyder has made it clear that the Joker is done playing around, knows exactly who Batman really is in his public life, and wants to utterly destroy city.

The thing that makes this all a bit more interesting than any other time Joker had almost destroyed Gotham is the element of how the Court of Owls (characters Snyder introduced in this title's debut arc) may tie in with their chemicals that keep people alive, along with the interesting addition at the climax of this issue where Batman enlists the help of some of his other foes who despise him but also realize that if Joker obliterates Gotham they are out of luck too. Capullo also continues to supply art at an amazing level that makes you wonder where he was all these years before doing "Batman"--and the answer is that he was trapped in the hell of doing "Spawn" comics, a fate that can befall many a good artist, with even the phenomenal Ashley Wood once stuck illustrating a "Spawn" mini-series that was decent, but still "Spawn".

Snyder and Capullo have consistently made "Batman" a comic that is fascinating; whether is it good, bad, weird, or whatever else they choose it manages to consistently surprise me, something that I enjoy having occur.
4 out of 5 stars. 

Some good comics have been coming out lately, and whether on their debut issue or further along I found each of these at least pretty entertaining. That's always a good thing, you know?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I Really Enjoyed That New Daredevil Netflix Trailer, Except For One Thing....

As the title of this post says, I really enjoyed watching the new trailer for the upcoming Netflix series, "Daredevil". It has a nice gritty appearance but a bit of self-aware humor at the same time. Should you not have seen it yet, here it is:
Yeah, that looks like it should be some good fun, and I'm excited, except for one thing:  Did the Kingpin really start to give a, "We are not so different, you and I."-style speech to Daredevil? I mean, if I had a dollar for every time some villain has made a statement of that sort to a protagonist in our world's history I would quite possibly be a millionaire.

I just find that trope of the baddie pontificating about how he and the good-guy are actually a lot alike to be incredibly played out, and I hope that when I see the actual scene in context it will feel more appropriate, or maybe even be used in a way that makes fun of that overused storytelling-device. We shall see, but for now it kind of irks me to witness that in an otherwise solid glimpse of what this series should be like.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rant-Reviews: Graphic Sex and Extreme Violence AKA Stereotypical "Comics Aren't Just For Kids Anymore" Headline

Can we make a law banning sound effects in headlines?
Every year, multiple times throughout the year we get newspapers, magazines, websites, etc. doing stories about how, "Comic-books aren't just for kids anymore!" Those headlines also will sometimes put a sound-effect that hasn't appeared within a comic for decades in the title too, a, "Zap, Pow!" or such. It is annoying as comic books have never just been for kids, whether in the era of underground titles when the Comic Code was in full effect, or up to today where comics will often deal with adult themes, such as relationships, jobs, and of course graphic sex and super-bloody violence. These titles help to illustrate how comics, sigh, "Aren't just for kids nowadays!"

Grown-Up Matters
Zero #14
This was of course one of my favorite comics of 2014, and it continues to impress. This issue, much like the previous one, is mostly just a long and bloody fight scene. I think the writer, Ales Kot, isn't trying to be grotesque just for the sake of bloodshed, however, but is instead  trying to make a point--after all, our protagonist Edward Zero remarks how neither men, "Are alive," basically pointing out they have lived in nothing but pointless violence all their lives. Also, this issue brings us to the point where it becomes more evident how the horrible fungus-virus we've seen glimpses of escapes into the world, so that's neat too.
4 out of 5 stars.

The Black Hood #1
As many have been eager to point out, this is a very mature-readers type comic coming from the same people who put out the all-ages Archie books (so yeah, lots of swearing). The thing is, it feels like a natural growth for a brand that has over the past years become more relevant in terms of politics and social issues along with the general tone of story-telling ("Afterlife with Archie" is clearly not for the kids). That's why I'm not too shocked that the company behind Archie feels comfortable getting a solid crime-writer such as Duane Swierzynski and a good artist in the form of Michael Gaydos to bring us a gritty super-hero comic.

In terms of if this is actually a good book, it may be too soon to say. This issue really just establishes our main character, his conflicts, and what results in him becoming a new Black Hood, with the issue literally ending right as he finally steps into action for the first time with his new plan. Given a few more issues it will become more apparent if this comic is a keeper or something to pass on. For now though, its a solid first issue.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Southern Bastards #7
Here is a comic that is surely, "adult," but not simply because of its language and violence, as opposed to the complex and mature themes it tackles. From a mixture of pride and pain the South has in its history, to complexities of race (and class) relations, "Southern Bastards," has a title you may giggle at, but contains some quite grown-up attributes. This arc continues showing us just how Coach Boss came to be the powerful man he is (turns out things weren't always that great for him), as always builds tension for when the daughter of Earl Tubbs (killed by the Coach in issue #4) has her inevitable confrontation with our villain--who may be a bad guy but as these latest issues have shown faced his share of problems that resulted in him turning into the kind of person he is now. The great writing of Jason Aaron and moody artwork of Jason Latour result in this just being a fantastic title.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sex #20
My weirdest comic of 2014 continues to both fascinate and frustrate. I really enjoyed this issue as it has a focus on the character I find most fascinating--our former-hero Simon Cooke--and his awkward date with Annabelle, a former foe from his days as the Armored Saint when she was a cat burglar (you probably see some hero-analogues already). I honestly did expect that the comic would go this far without either putting Simon back in costume or giving us a clear view of what the Armored Saint at least looked like, and that is actually kind of cool. Writer Joe Casey has been slowly building up the tensions in this series between all the mobsters and villains, while also putting pressure on Cooke and his former assistants/sidekicks, kind of like--to use a sex metaphor--leading us up to what I hope will be an orgasmic release when Cooke does in fact become the Armored Saint again, or even more interestingly decides to not put the costume on, but attempt to solve all the city's troubles some other way.

As I said, it is all fascinating, but the frustrating part is probably how with such a large cast the pace can feel a bit uneven, with some characters finding their stories advancing dramatically at points and then feeling ignored for months. This is the kind of comic that I almost think might read better when eventually collected in a massive trade that could allow someone to read it all in one sitting of pure mind-bending madness and pleasure. For now though, this is a really amazing comic that keeps me continually eager for the next issue.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Now I Feel Old
As these titles help show through their use of violence, sex, and actual "mature" matters, comics are for grown-ups too, with it actually being the case that the comic-book industry is hoping to draw more kids in as currently readers tend to be older. That fact is lost on much of the "regular" media however, so I shall simply end this article as they do, with something pithy like, "As you've seen, all kinds of ages can enjoy the funny-books coming out now!"

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rant-Reviews: Horror is Hard

Terror is Subjective
Just like the title says, horror is a hard thing to do well. Whether that means creating a story that is sufficiently, "Scary," exciting, or capable of making the viewer/reader think, horror just is tricky business. It doesn't help that a sense of terror is subjective to each person, with something that scares me possibly not making you fearful in the least. These comics below illustrate how sometimes attempts at horror can make for great results, and other times...well, as I said, it's a hard thing to do well.

Shivering in Your Seat Versus Laughing in the Lounger
Dark Gods #4
I'd been reading this Avatar Press title, hoping it would an enjoyable take on deities in the modern age (perhaps a bit like "God is Dead") but after a decent first issue have found myself incredibly bored by this title. The idea that our modern technology could help open a portal to evil Gods is clever, but I've see that sort of concept before. This issue we have more revealed about just what kind of evil a corporation has been up to, but really this is just a comic full of dull conversation and some decent artwork. I love a lot of Avatar publications, but I'm afraid I shall be quitting this one.
1 out of 5 stars.

Crossed +100 #2
Ah, now this is more like it. Written by the incredibly-famous Alan Moore, this comic takes place a hundred years since the initial, "Crossed," outbreak and while taking being in the same sort of continuity as the other many titles, really stands alone. This is a comic that at first blush sounds more science-fiction than anything else, and it is indeed sci-fi, but don't get it twisted--some horrifying things occur.  Gabriel Andrade supplies some miraculous art to accompany a story full of beautifully eerie abandoned buildings and the occasional burst of violence too, but possibly the most fascinating aspect of this book is actually how Alan Moore takes the English language and changes it. The meanings of words have shifted since the world ended, and while people still speak a language we find familiar, much has altered (it is kind of hilarious to see how our overuse today of the word, "Fuck," could result in the word basically just being a normal inoffensive verb/noun/whatever in the future).

Alan Moore is a fascinating man who sometimes runs of the risk of letting his own mystique and occasional press-statements on the comic-book industry get more attention than his capabilities as a writer. Titles such as these illustrate that even if Moore never makes another "Watchmen" or "The Killing Joke" he still is undoubtedly one of the most creative voices to formerly and currently pen comic-book yarns.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Nameless #1
I love so much of Grant Morrison's work, and some of my favorite titles by him are books which I at first had some trouble understanding but knew if I stuck with them would reward my patience (and they often did).  This though, this I just don't get. There seems to be something with aliens, dreams, rich men on the other side of the moon, and all kinds of random nonsense. I didn't find this especially horror-styled, or anything other than a confusing mess, frankly. The one saving grace is Chris Burnham with his flat-out gorgeous art that looks somewhere between being a mixture of Frank Quitely's style and the doodles in gritty 1980's 'zines. Besides the skill of Burnham though, this is just one big disappointment. At least some other stuff Morrison is putting out continues to impress ("Annihilator" is cool for sure).
2 out of 5 stars.

Wytches #4
Yes, sometimes certain plot elements will seem hokey, the whole, "Everything you know about [Insert Blank] is wrong!" trope has been played out, and perhaps writer Scott Snyder took his time getting to the point of explaining just how the Wytches work, but I don't mind any of that because this book is just so damn terrifying. Whether exploring everyday fears such as failing as a parent, or delving into the gruesome way the Wytches like to eat those whom are, "Pledged," to them, this comic continues to be a read that both fascinates me and makes me wriggle with discomfort--but in a good way.

The way Jock illustrates the comic creates an atmosphere that is foreboding and unpleasant, capable of taking things we normally associate with joy (such as a carnival) and making them another image to shiver at the thought of. Through Jock's masterful artwork and Snyder digging deep into the kinds of things we hide under the covers from, a true piece of horror perfection is presented to us in this issue, and with the next marking the end of the first arc I can only hope things turn out okay for all the characters--although I kind of doubt they will. This is just a really, really, scary comic. That's probably why I like it so much.
5 out of 5 stars.

Fearful, or Just Fun?
As is evident from my reviews, we all have our own interpretations of horror--writers and artists included. That said, when it comes to horror something doesn't just have to be about monsters or witches (although it can be), but can cover all the kinds of fears we may face--be they as simple as surviving another day of high school, or as outlandish as living through the end of the world. At the end of the day, it is about what scares you, and how eager you are to be impacted by it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

That Latest "Age of Ultron" Trailer Was Okay, I Guess (I'm Still Excited for the Movie, Though)

Yesterday the 3rd big official trailer for "Age of Ultron" was released upon the internet. It was supposed to hit the interwebs today, but clever marketing fan demand resulted in it coming out yesterday. I've watched it, and strangely enough compared to the earlier trailers found myself underwhelmed. Check it out and then see if you agree with me:

I'm still very excited for this movie, but compared to that amazing first trailer this was just a let-down. We had more slow-motion action-shots, hints of characters fighting each other, Ultron talking about how he is going to destroy everything, and really nothing especially new or cool until those last few seconds where a glimpse of The Vision is had. This trailer kind of just looks like a standard action movie that happens to have Marvel characters in it--although I am almost positive this won't be that as Joss Whedon and everyone else gave us an amazing first flick, so my hopes are high for this one.

Perhaps I am just at the point that my excitement for the movie is at its maximum level and little else can be done to get me any more pumped, resulting in efforts such as this being met with me feeling unimpressed. I'm not sure why this trailer had me feeling a bit apathetic, but I know I'm still quite eager to see this on the silver-screen soon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Links for Early March!

Needing More Links?
Hey, it's been a month since we last had some quality links. How about some new ones, with a slight focus on video-games?

Here They Are!
Spider-Gwen as a character is a hit with comic-fans, and the comic is thankfully good too!

I don't really have much interest in "50 Shades of Grey", but as this hilarious fake movie-trailer points out it shares a lot of similarities with Batman if you think about it (Eccentric billionaire is into heavy-duty bondage).

While we are on the subject of super-hero movies, isn't it interesting how the "elite" aspects of Hollywood enjoy insulting them at events such as the Oscars, yet hero-flicks are some of the biggest commercial (and often critical) successes?
It appears "No Man's Sky" is going to have great music if nothing else.

Meanwhile, "The Order: 1886" is at least pretty, if nothing else. I thought it was okay as a game, but impressive as a technology show-piece

We all have taken history, learned history, and lived it, but sometimes there are lesser-known tales or interpretations that are worth checking out. This fascinating list has some.
A comic-book company actually putting out fewer comics during an event? Madness!

I like the idea of more diversity in video-games, and when someone wants to complain about how it isn't historically accurate to have diversity, I'll ask how accurate it is to have all this white-folk playing Middle-Eastern people.

Speaking of messages in video-games, can the act of violence in a game be in itself a message without any explicit moral message?
My lady and I enjoy shopping at Target, and I feel horrible for the employees at locations who will be losing their job.

Picture being out in the Ocean and finding an old sunken ship. Wouldn't that be cool? I think it would, and if I get the chance to ask Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen about the one he found then I can know for sure if it is as awesome as I imagine.

Many movies have "twist" endings, almost to the point where not having a twist is shocking. What separates the amazing twists from a miserable one? Film School Rejects has some thoughts.
Finally, I just am not excited by the idea of wearing a big headset to enjoy virtual reality. Perhaps if I try it my mind will be changed, but hearing about Valve getting into the game of VR-headsets makes me more perturbed than pumped.