Thursday, July 29, 2004

Astonishing X-Men #3/Planetary #20

writer: Joss Whedon
artist: John Cassaday
published by Marvel Comics

Planetary #20
writer: Warren Ellis
artist: John Cassaday
published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

John Cassaday is a terrific artist. Problem is, the man has never been able to meet a deadline. Which is why the book that put him on the map, Planetary, has only seen 20 issues in about 33 years. Sure, it hasn't been quite that long, but it's beginning to feel like it has.
Not that each issue isn't worth the wait. Warren Ellis has a unique take on the superhero genre, full of secrets and lies and cabals. The world of Planetary is a skewed version of the genre, where many of the heroes of the Marvel or DC universes turned out...different. It's long been known that The Four, the villains of the piece, are an ersatz Fantastic Four. This ish we finally get to see their version of The Thing, Jacob Greene. The Four have sent their engine of destruction to an alien space station, but Elijah Snow has a plan in place to dispose of the monster once and for all.
Strangely, in three months, we've had 3 issues of Astonishing X-Men. Cassady's art is the perfect cinematic counterpart to the writing by TV's Joss Whedon. Whedon's finally hitting his stride, as the story threads he set up in issue 1 begin to knit together. The snappy dialogue he's been known for in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly finally gels correctly too. I'd been considering dropping this book but now and convinced I'm in it for the entire 12 month run Whedon's on for. If they keep Cassady on time, we comic readers are in for a treat.
This time out, Beast has acquired a sample of the mutant cure that Benetech is advertising. Since his secondary mutation has made him more felinoid, Beast's been wanting to return to a more human state. Old story, been done before. Except now, his fellow X-Men see the cure as a threat. Rightfully so, as the possibility that the cure could be forced on them, given the current political climate in the Marvel universe. Woverine and Beast throw down over the vial, and the alien from the first issue reveals himself to be the source of Benetech's technology. Then, Beast finds out whose genes they've used to make this cure...and I'm getting the feeling all hell's gonna break loose soon.
This book went from an "I think I might drop it" to "I'm in this for the long haul" in 22 pages.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Friday, July 16, 2004

Resident Evil -- Commentary Review

So Adam has convinced me to do a tag-team review of Jackass.  As usual I'll be doing the commentary reviews which means watching the film not once but TWICE.  Surely, there must be a room in hell where this is already happening to people.  I can hear the screams.
I've been prepping all week.  I've purchased extra beer, I've stopped sleeping...I haven't actually gone out and purchased the DVD yet, but little steps, little steps.  I've thought perhaps I should urinate on myself to get into the spirit of things.
Finally, in preparation I thought I'd do one more real commentary review.  The much anticipated Resident Evil 2 is coming out soon (anticipated by me, I am a major fan of the girls with guns kicking ass genre which is not to be confused with girl in sexy costume shaking ass and somehow people get hurt genre.  Catwoman falls into genre two while Alien falls into genre one, and don't you forget it). 
In honor of Resident Evil 2, and lovers of racoons everywhere, I give you the commentary review for Resident Evil.  It's a shorty because there's only so much you can say about 6 minutes of Milla Jovovich talking about show breast on camera. 
Resident Evil
This is a group commentary featuring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Anderson, and the producer.  Some interesting location details were given, there was a significant amount of gossip about the co-stars, and general details about the filming.  These people were having a great time together and were not self-conscious at all which gave the commentary the feel of a group of friends sitting down to drinks.  I particularly enjoyed Michelle Rodriguez’ take on her character.  These are people that if I were drinking heavily I’d love to party with, BUT the overall shallowness of their conversation reflects in words what you see on the screen.   Oh yes, and Milla Jovovich, showed her breast (only one and she says it's the right breast), and comments at length on how this demonstrates her commitment to the film. 
As an aside, the women in the film both hit stuntmen during fight scenes.  They felt that this showed their commitment, and that if they weren't really going for it the audience could tell.  Ladies, hitting stuntman (unless they're paying you to on some sort of hourly arrangement) is not cool and simply shows your inexperience.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye TPB

(reprinting issues #1-6)
writer: Robert Kirkman
artist: Tony Moore
published by Image Comics

I'd heard good things about The Walking Dead. Eventually, you hear enough good things about something, get off your ass and see for yourself. Two weeks ago, I bought my first issue of the series. I'd hoped to get the trade, but they were out at the local shop. So, I started off the series with issue #7. It knocked me on my ass.
This trade (which I might mention is an ultra-cheap $10) reprints the first six issues of the series.
When first you meet the series' protagonist, Rick, he's getting shot during a gun battle with a criminal. He wakes up in a hospital, after he's been in a coma for a month. Turns out...the world has gone to shit. Most of the population is dead. And a good portion of the dead...are on their feet looking for food (read: the living).
Rick returns to his house and finds his family gone, but no bodies. After finding a living neighbor, Rick finds out that the population was evacuated to the cities to protect them better and sets out to the nearest major city, Atlanta, to see if he can find them.
In the forward to the book, Kirkman says that the series is Rick's journey, so I'm guessing he's safe. The rest of the characters...well, I'm wary of getting attached to them. It's a zombie story, and zombie stories need human victims. Kirkman also says that he's in this for the long haul, so I'm looking forward to years worth of harrowing tales of Rick's travels. Have I mentioned that the trade is super cheap? You've got no excuse! Buy it now!!!

Another Nail #1-2 (of 3)

writer: Alan Davis
art: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
published by DC Comics

While Marvel is, for the most part, doing everything in their power to lose me as a reader, DC seems to be doing everything right. I'd bet if I picked up more of their books, I'd be reading more and more of them.
As it is, there's no way I'd miss a book by Alan Davis. He's one of my favorite comics artists. And, after his previous DC-spanning miniseries, The Nail...he's one of my favorite writers, too. The first Nail miniseries posed the question, "What if the Kents hadn't found Kal-El/Clark?"
Well, a year after the events of the original series, Another Nail picks up the story. Superman's been working overtime fighting for truth, justice and the American way since his unveiling. Darkseid discovers something on Earth and the discovery drives him to unleash a Doomsday weapon that destroys his planet Apokalips. The Green Lantern Corps investigates a mysterious drain on the great lantern that charges all of their power rings. On Earth, Superman fights Despero and Evil Star and experiences a momentary loss of power.
The second issue features more buildup towards the third issue's conclusion. Davis keeps the frenetic pacing up, and more pieces fall into place. Something's going on with time and dimensions, reaching a crisis level. He juggles impossible amounts of characters and story details with deft ease and makes everything look spectacular while he's doing it. If you don't pick up the individual issues, I'm positive a trade paperback will be in the works.

Identity Crisis #1(of 7)

writer: Brad Meltzer
artist: Rags Morales
published by DC Comics

Yeah, I know the book's been out for damn near a month. Yeah, I know everyone and their mother's reviewed it. But...DAMN.
I've never read any of Meltzer's thrillers in mere text form, but I might consider it after just this first issue. I can already tell that this miniseries is going to have an impact on me as a reader.
The story starts off with old school JLAer Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, on a stakeout. He's one of the few superheroes who's abandoned a secret identity and operates in public. Elongated Man's an affable guy with a wife who loves him and a love for mysteries.
His wife is actually planning a surprise party for his birthday and usually sets up a mystery for him to solve.
The story cuts periodically to many of the major players in the DC Comics stable as they receive news that instantly makes them rush off from their normal activities. Something terrible has happened. From the cover, you know someone's gonna die. That big coffin under all of the somber looking superheroes is kind of a giveaway.
The story is big and epic (just about everything with the JLA in it is big and epic), but it's also one of the most personal stories I've read in comics. You mourn with these titans as one of their own is laid to rest. But...there's a secret some of them are keeping from the rest. Hawkman, Green Arrow, Zatanna, Black Canary and Atom know who committed the murder, and from the last two pages of the book...the perpetrator's gonna regret it...
Great stuff. The writing is taut and fast-paced. I don't know that Brad Meltzer has done comics work before, but he shows great knowledge and love for the characters of the DCU. I'd be interested in seeing where this story goes, because so far it's a doozy. Add to that the solid pencils of Rags Morales, and you have a great book on your hands. Great, great stuff.

CLA$$WAR #4 (of 6)

writer: Rob Williams
artist: Travel Foreman
published by Com.X

Marvel Comics must have something against CLA$$WAR. Travel Foreman just took over the art duties on this LONG overdue book and Marvel hired him for something or other, just like the previous artist, Trevor Hairsine (who's been at Marvel almost a year, so you know it's been a long time).
Sad. CLA$$WAR is everything that Frank Miller's DK2 promised to be. What happens when the superheroes fight back against the system? What happens when they've had enough of the corruption and back-room dealings? This is a strong, mean anti-establishment book, and likely will not appeal to the GOP at all. If you have any doubts about how the government handles things, If you're a conspiracy nut, or if you're just generally paranoid...this is a comic made for you.
A brief recap: The American was the shining star in the US's super-soldier program. With powers not unlike Superman, he could kick the asses of any of the US' enemies. Problem is, thanks to Isaac, a rogue intelligence agent, American knows just how deep the rabbit hole goes, and how full of shit it really is. So, he's run off to the banana republic of Glenada (I do love comics geography) and he's kicking the living crap out of the US occupation force.
While American and Isaac are planning their next move and uploading incriminating video to the internet, his fellow superpowered operatives are tearing ass through the countryside, looking to rip him a new one. Meanwhile, the ex-Nazi scientist who created all these metahuman monsters transforms one last soldier with his process. Things look bad, and will likely get worse.
With only two issues left in the series, I'm guessing there will be major bloodshed in the coming pages (yes, I know #5 is out, but I haven't found it yet). The revelation of the human cost of these champions of America is horrific enough, but when the new superguy...well, loses a bit of his don't know whether to laugh your head off or hworf (I chose laughter. It's the best medicine, after all).
I hope Foreman got #6 done. Because if finding a new artist takes as long this time, I don't see the book being finished before the next millenium.

Ex Machina #1

writer: Brian K. Vaughn
artist: Tony Harris
published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

Brian K. Vaughn is a great writer. Considering he's already writing two of my favorite books on the stands right now, Runaways and Y, the Last Man, you'd think his bag of tricks would be emptying.
No such chance. This tale of the world's first superhero is one of the most original, smart and just goddamn well-written books I've read this year. Mitchell Hundred was a civil engineer who accidentally gained the ability to speak to all complex machinery. Initially, he used his abilities to become a superhero, the stuff he read about in comics as a kid.
Then, reality set in. The authorites weren't really happy with him playing vigilante. So, still wanting to make a difference in the world, he ran for mayor on New York City. And won.
The story is told in flashback. We're given advance notice that things end badly. How badly, I don't care to guess. Especially after the final page shocker that shows you how different things really are in this world Vaughn's created. It's a cheap shot, but it's damn effective. This one's going on my list of things to pick up monthly, and I don't think I'll be disappointed at all.