Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Uncanny X-Men #500 Review

Writer: Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction
Art: Greg Land

What the hell? This is your big 500th anniversary special, with 2 of the best writers in the business? I didn't like this at all. First of all, the art was just terrible. 2nd of all, this issue just felt like a standard Uncanny issue, which is not a good thing. I thought that bringing Fraction aboard and a fresh new restart with #500 would revamp this fledgling series, but no. What we got was run of the mill stuff with poor character work. Quite frankly, the whole San Fransisco thing is just not working for me. I found the writing lackluster, and the direction even poorer. We got Magneto, which was cool, but he felt like a passe villain, and not the Magneto that we are accustomed to and expect. He is just a sad little man with no powers. I think we are done with the X-Men. With Whedon off of Astonishing, there is just no appeal in the X titles that matter. You have to go to X-Factor and X-Men Legacy for your X experience. Ok enough of this. Bottom line- this issue was just not a good read, but the worse part is the expectations coming into this landmark, and the failure to deliver a satisfying read.

A very low
FORGET IT

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

I am not going to review this film. It would be another review praising it unconditionally since I am a biased fan of the movie. There is no benefit in that but I will discuss the movie and some of the questions it raises in an intelligent manner instead of just rambling on about how good the movie is. I'm going to start with the ending of the movie since it seems the most logical place. I saw the movie twice, once as a pure biased fan and again as a consumer with less bias. The second time ending was better for me. I was disappointed as to Two-Face's transformation as it wasn't climatic/intentional but kind of an accident. As I thought about this interpretation I began to enjoy it more and the part about him going crazy made more sense within the context of the movie. Having it be an accident as it was made more sense because he would completely abandon all his morals because he has nowhere to direct his rage. If he had someone to directly blame for the accident the scene at the end of the movie would never happen so within that context his scarring made more sense. That might have been my biggest complaint about the movie is the role of Two-Face, to me Eckhart had moments of brilliance and got the job done but compared to Ledger was disappointing. The ending also had an awesome voice over by Gordon where he does Batman justice and basically explains why we all love the character. He does good for the sake of good and not glory. He is really a hero. It sort of ends on that hopeful message that no matter how many Jokers there are there is a Batman who does good and endures the evil. The boat scene where neither boat blows up each other was a great sign that no matter what the Joker does that people will still have a capacity or some good. That was the ending I thought about and why I was confused when people said this movie might be "too dark" because it had a pretty optimistic ending that good endures that is until I read a statement by Padfoot1492: "I mean, whether you like it or nor, people are, in fact, inherently evil. You don't need to be taught to do evil, but you do need to be taught to do good. That and the condition of the world should show you the true nature of humans."

After reading that, the dark part of the movie really starts to come alive for me. Just reflecting back you are never taught evil, you act and if you happen to act badly people tell you your actions are bad, tell you why, and you learn about the right way. Growing up your parents teach you about bad [evil is too strong a word] as you do things that are unwittingly bad that you don't think about. After understanding that you get a larger sense of what the Joker represents and what Two-Face stands for. The Joker is the most natural character and his monolog about doing becomes more important. If people all just did then there would be more evil which makes his anarchy that more dangerous. Two-Face meanwhile becomes more tragic as that is the real Harvey Dent, that is him embracing his human nature and the ugly side that we are all that close to. Then there is Batman. Whether you consider this a flaw or not he wasn't really the main character in his own film. It felt as if this movie had no true lead. Batman and the Joker are opposite so if I consider the Joker to be purest character then easily Batman is the most "tainted" character. Writers sometimes build up Batman so much that it becomes hard to believe is a human. He is disciplined beyond belief and has an amazing will and resiliency that Hal Jordan can only dream of [let's face it; if Bruce Wayne didn't use fear as a weapon he would the greatest Green Lantern ever]. He has humanizing qualities but beyond that no man can actually become Batman and in many ways is as unattainable as Superman. This brings up the question where does he stand? If the Joker is the human condition in its purest form, Harvey Dent being the man who once was good but was hiding his real self [hence Two-Face], then Batman has to be the personification of good, he has to be symbol. “As a man I'm flesh and blood I can be ignored I can be destroyed but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.” [Batman Begins] All of a sudden Batman Begins becomes relevant again. Remembering that quote I know exactly where Batman stands. As a human Bruce has the same capacity of evil as anyone else in the film, but as Batman [a symbol] he doesn’t have that. That is what Batman stands for right there and that is why he is a symbol. I hadn’t realized a lot of that the first time I saw the movie and am amazed that one quote was able to send me off on that little tangent. Adding to the complexity of the movie is also the political allegory that occurs as a result of the Joker. This is slightly easier to grasp than the whole nature of humans theme. Some might argue that Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are the two most American heroes since they are capitalist [Superman illegal alien, also Steve Rodgers is clearly the most American superhero but I could see Stark and Bruce at 2] and that the Joker in this movie is a terrorist [that is a tough one to refute].

If this movie is also thematic [I’m not sure if this is a theme or allegory] about the current political climate then Batman is America, the Joker is a terrorist, then Harvey Dent is what we should do. I am not going to get political here, this is what I speculate the movie is saying. There are some indicators of political commentary in this film. The most glaring example is Harvey Dent’s speech about turning in Batman to the Joker which is a message straight out of South Park. If you remember the Cartoon Wars you remember a random being talking about how easy it was to support an ideal but when it comes time to defend it that we back down. Dent was disappointed in Batman for giving into the terrorist and would not allow that happen. He had a really good point about when the time comes for Batman to answer; it should be to the law and not to the Joker. The Bat-sonar technology that basically let Batman spy on anyone is wire-tapping and other surveillance techniques that are questionable. Morgan Freeman represents everyone that is scared about what a big violation of rights this is and Batman is the realist who wants to stop the Joker and is willing to cross that line to catch him. I think the message there is in times of absolute crisis [DC’s next big event, look for it] we should be able to suspend some rights in order to protect people from a threat similar to the notion that Harvey brought up about the Romans and their suspending of the law in times of trouble earlier in the movie. That being said, there is the assumption that when that time is over then things should be restored [i.e. the machine self destructing], sometimes though people don’t want to give up that power which again goes back to the Caesar side story at the beginning of the movie. Thematically I believe the message to be that the government has pulled a Caesar with wiretapping, and pertaining to the narrative we gain a little respect for Batman because he is able to destroy the project and be a true hero and return the power that sonar gives him. The way I see it, I think the point was that the state should never have the power to do that but instead we give it to a private body that would have nothing to gain by having all that power, similar to the Federal Reserve with it being independently owned.

This movie has a lot going on for it and it is more than a superhero movie. The great blogger over at http://www.collectededitions.blogspot.com made a great point about this movie “a horror movie masquerading as a superhero movie, and not a superhero movie itself.” I wouldn’t say a horror movie after seeing it but it is more than that. To that point there is some validity in this being a concern for pursuit. That is why a lot of critics say it transcends being a superhero movie and is a crime drama and such. I recall reading something that said Iron Man was the best comic book movie ever made and the Dark Knight is simply a better film than Iron Man. I don’t agree with that but do see where they are coming from. In closing, the Dark Knight was a great [the best ever] film. I won’t say best superhero [he is a superhero] movie because that is injustice to typecast it like that. It is a great [again best ever] movie that I thoroughly enjoyed and will enjoy again, in IMAX. I’m hoping to hear your reactions to the movie and hopefully we can start discussing it and share what you got out of the movie. Leave your comments and we can get the ball rolling.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Countdown to DK

Killing Joke, nuff said

Monday, July 14, 2008

Countdown to DK

So in honor of the greatest movie ever made being released in four days, I took it upon myself to read a great Joker story every day this week and then rant about why it is a Joker story. So to kick it off we go with what was Brubaker's last story before he went to write the epic Captain America stories. I am talking about the Man Who Laughs [not sure if I should capitalize the who which is going to bug me the rest of this post]. This is a modern retelling of the first time the Joker tried to terrorize Gotham. The art is really nice and the only problem I have with it is how the noses seem to be incredibly big, other than that the art is fantastic. I won't even analyze the writing since it is written by Brubaker so the talent is there. I enjoyed this story; there is a certain air of mystery surrounding the Joker as you never really know what he is planning [the assumption there is that you didn't read the original story since it was written way back when]. It is a fun mystery with plenty twists and turns. Brubaker writes a mean Joker and it is only fitting that we start the countdown with Joker's first attempt at shenanigans. Written by Ed Brubaker and art by Doug Mahnke this is one Joker story you should read up on before you go into the Dark Knight. Stayed tuned tomorrow for the next pick.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Secret Invasion #4 Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Leinil Francis Yu

After an extended argument with the One and Only, I am still not going to change my mind about the Secret Invasion. I am personally not offended by this popcorn comic book event, and I really did not have high hopes for this event. And with that, I am pretty ok with how its going. Theres an invasion, Skrulls take out the Avengers, smaller resistance groups trying to fight it, and the planning and the "secret" part of the invasion is taken care of in miniseries. And also, its not just taking place in just New York, but all over the world. And that is taken care of in other mini series (Captain Britain). I thought this issue moved the plot along to some extent. They move along the Stark plotline in Savage Land. He was crippled, but now Black Widow and Wolverine are trying to help out Stark. It is done in a way where there is obvious mistrust in the air. The battle in New York wages on, as Fury makes some tough decisions. We see the Hood. And the last page probably saved the issue in my opinion. Having Thor and Cap show up really helps the "big event" feel of this. Why should we take this Invasion seriously if Thor or Cap, Marvel's big guns, don't show up. Having them here will, in my opinion, pick things up in later issues. It is hard for me to just judge this event alone without considering the tie ins. So with all that included, I am just fine with how this is going. The art was really inconsistent, especially in the fight scenes in New York. Tough to follow.

GET IT

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Final Crisis: Requiem Review

"Caretakers of Mars"
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

Final Crisis Requiem was a very interesting tie-in. It really expands on the events of what happened in the first issue of Final Crisis and is really beautifully written and truly moving. I enjoy it when I get to see characters narrate their own death because it adds a greater sense of closure to John’s life. I enjoyed the approach DC used within this tie-in in that the tie-in actually expanded the story of John and wasn't just a way to cash in on John's death. I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed how Requiem expanded the story from Final Crisis. It really works in tandem with what Morrison started. The one fault in this issue is that some of the flashback scenes seem to drag a bit. It is very hard to review this issue because I will just end up pointing out the fact that I liked pretty much everything and then I would throw in one minor critic to keep myself honest. Rather than do that I'll be as concise as possible and a bit redundant as well. This comic will probably win best of the week, it was very well written, the art is fantastic, and Requiem really does give Manhunter the best sendoff. The best moment was John rallying and making the villains think that they are being killed by their enemies [or getting felt up by Batman in Talia's case], the worst moment was the "My favorite Martian" joke by Green Arrow which wasn't that bad but just cheesy. This was a great comic that really expanded the first issue of Final Crisis and was a worthy tie-in. Hopefully DC does the right thing and let John stay dead for a bit longer as to not negate this issue within a year or so which would really be a crime.

Art: PHENOM
Overall: OWN IT

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Booster Gold #1000000 Review

"Holding Back the Years"
Written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz
Art by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

Seems like just yesterday we were at issue 9 but here we are now. It seems like such a shame that this title is probably going to get canceled with the departure of Katz and Johns but at least this title will make one awesome trade. It seems a shame that they leave this title after they introduced an awesome new direction to this title. At this point it is clear that Batman knows all, even though Gog is going around healing people and making miracles occur [hint hint towards the next review in this triple header] Batman is somehow aware of what occurs in alternate timeline and again thanks to Morrison he probably knows thanks to some monster Meth, the kind that bull rhinos use when they want to get up there which is very classy. It makes sense after everything Booster went through that he is sick and tired of being a great hero and not getting any R-E-S-P-E-C-T [find out what it means to me] but luckily Batman is there to give him the right peep talk to keep him in the game. This makes sense on so many levels because Batman is in the same situation as Booster where you do the greatest heroic deeds yet at the end of the day no one really knows you exist and no one knows whether you are legit or not. Batman is the ideal choice to talk Booster through this. The dialog was really nice. The ending was pretty balling as well, it is nice that the superhero gets a break every now and then instead of going through the Daredevil route which is one continuous put down [seriously that guy is f-ed in the a for life]. I am not sure how to feel on Rip being Booster's son, serious curveball there. It was a good idea to save the reveal until Booster matured enough to the point where you could see it but if they had pulled this stunt a bit earlier it would have been a total miss [wonder who the mom is though]. The epilogue is always nice and I would be more excited about it but knowing that Johns and Katz won't be there to see this title through. Lastly the chalkboard makes an appearance, that thing is a great little preview of things to come. I really like that chalkboard and think it should get its own book, seriously high brow stuff here people. While I really did like this issue it certainly did lack a certain sense of being a definitive Booster Gold story. The way I saw it these first two arcs while enjoyable seem to be a stepping stone to that great story which is on its way but sadly we won't get that great story and instead settle here. It isn't bad but this is a fun comic and a good story don't get me wrong, it just isn't anything spectacular but is fundamentally solid and enjoyable all the way around.

Art: BALLIN
Overall: GET IT

Detective Comics #846 Review

"First Families of Gotham"
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs

Paul Dini's Detective Comics has been one of my favorite titles. The thing I enjoy most is that it isn't written for trade and employs a series of standalone stories with reoccurring themes. With a majority of writers writing their stories for trades the monthly reader suffers a bit and the stories aren't as enjoyable the second time in a trade form. Dini now chooses to tell a six issue story arch featuring the return of Hush and admittedly I found this debut issue to be underwhelming. Dini reworks some of the Hush back-story some of which adds a bit to the original written by Loeb way back when. Pertaining to the plot I think Hush is trying to somehow heal his mom which is why he has a hospital full of disfigured people. I liked the idea that he wore the bandages because he saw his mom like that was cool because the bandages never made much sense when a ski mask seemed to be just as acceptable and also more stylish [having justification for it is nice]. The biggest positive about this issue is the Batman and Catwoman dynamic. It is nice to see her back into the mythos because she seems to have just been completely absent for so long. Dini does manage to craft a good mystery since he himself is an active cryptologist [you learned something today] and I am curious to see what striking at the heart of Batman means. It sounds like it will be really intense. Another thought that came to me was of Hush popping up in R.I.P. to help out Bruce but I doubt that. I really like the art style that they use because it evokes a feel of the old black and white detective movies they used to do back in the day. It fits here. So to wrap this up, the story seems to be written for trade which is probably why this issue felt lackluster, nothing of note really happened but the interactions between Catwoman and Batman were nice. This issue got me intrigued, not enthralled or excited, but I am somewhat committed to following this storyline.

Art: BALLIN
Overall: SKIM IT

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Early Dark Knight Reviews

Via Rottentomatoes.com

Dark, grim, haunting and inventive, Dark Knight is nothing short of brilliant, representing Chris Nolan's most accomplished and mature work to date and the best and scariest comic-hero adaptation you're likely to see this summer, perhaps the whole year. -EmanuelLevy.Com

Warner Bros. Pictures' THE DARK KNIGHT is not only the best film I have seen this year, but quite possibly the best superhero movie ever made. - Bloody Disgusting

The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination. - Rolling Stone

Martin Scorsese's The Departed. Michael Mann's Heat. Brian de Palma's The Untouchables. And now, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight can join the ranks as one of the best crime dramas in modern movie history. - Horror.com

I can't fucking wait - Sports God

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Astonishing X-Men #25

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Simone Bianchi

Not too much to say here. I wasn't disappointed really, just kind of sad that Whedon's run is over. Warren Ellis had a really tough job to follow up on that, and I thought he put in a good effort. It just didn't really click, like what we were used to. Ellis did provide some good lines and some laughs (Frost calling Wolverine a ferrett that itches its privates), but there was just nothing that happened in this issue. They basically sat around and talked about stuff, and Beast got into some crazy theories about genes that always throws me off. I still feel that the characters are established enough, that you feel a certain chemistry, despite the dialogue not being up to par as Whedon. There was just not enough here to really rave about. It was solid, and its still one of the better X titles around, but I am waiting for something substantial to happen. By the way, Armor is a total scrub. The best part about here is that part where Wolverine said, thats like me being called Claws. She is no Kitty Pride though. This gets a very low

GET IT
...........................................................................................................................................................
TAKE MO

Basically what he said except I hated the dialogue [more] and thought it came across as forced. He was trying to create that Whedon chemistry with the banter and all but it didn't work, it just seemed frivolous.

SKIM IT

Batman #678 Review

"Zur En Arrh"
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea

It seems at this point Morrison is about to stat the rebuilding of Batman and I'm ready for it. There really is a sense of climax approaching and the month long wait seems just cruel. This issue was awesome. For one thing, I want a mini-series of homeless Bruce Wayne running around with Honor Jackson; I found the scene with them booking it with the shopping cart absolutely comical. I have to admit I was confused with some of things in this issue. The begining scene I thought was Jason Todd reading the black casebook because when you see Tim later in the issue it looks remarkably different from the opening. The red motorcycle could be a misdirection on Morrison's part [he is tricky like that]. Another thing that bugged me was the way Hurt [if it was him] was talking when he was about to administer the drugs to Bruce. I honestly thought that it was Thomas Wayne. This issue gives you a lot to chew on and I appreciate how Morrison treats the reader like that. My understanding of this story was that Bruce's mind wasn't ready to accept losing and constructed Honor Jackson as a way to guide him back to where it all began [your inner wise black man is a truly wondrous phenomenon]. I would not put it past Bruce to have planned for something like that. I'm still wondering about the radio and its' significance of it. The best part of this issue was the Dick Grayson development. Putting him on the shelf storyline wise was smart but also in Arkham!!? That was a twist. Morrison puts a lot of events in this issue and there is still the muderous clown elephant in the room, the Joker. The Joker vs this crazy Batman could be one legendary showdown. There is also the question of Jet, I don't like her character or anything, but she disappeared completely so she is probably relevant in some way. The art is great on phenom level depending on wheter or not that was Jason at the start of the issue so I'm not pulling the trigger on this rating. This issue is an honest to god turning point in this story and I'm having a lot of fun reading this. Bottom line:

OWN IT