Monday, October 25, 2004

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Incredible 2-Headed Marathon review!

So, last year I did a minute by minute account of my time at the Nightmare at Studio 35.
No such luck this year, kiddies. I'm tired, I'm cranky and I ain't that ambitious.
Besides, with TWO compteting horror marathons this year (on the same night!), CBus seems to be the hub of marathon geekdom in America, at least for today.
This year, after some backstabbing by the new owners of Studio 35, marathon organizer Joe Neff joined forces with Bruce Bartoo, the brain behind the annual Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon and the two threw together a mini-marathon on short notice that simply kicked ass. With the help of Jeff Frank from the Drexel Theaters, they were able to secure four Ohio premieres and a couple unusual picks that brought the marathon faithful to the upstart event instead of the competing event with Tom Savini across town.
The crowd lined up in the rain two hours before the doors opened. Why? Because suffering is part of a marathon. In fact, it's pretty much ALL of a marathon.
My buddy Scott and I were secure underneath a bigass umbrella behind some people we nicknamed The Druids because of the form of their raincoats. Being chatty fanboys, we talked them up and spewed propaganda at Geoff Glass, the marathon videographer.
When they finally opened the doors (ten minutes after the marathon was due to begin -- delays are a marathon staple), most of the people were more moist than Sara Jessica Parker in a Prada boutique. Didn't dampen anyone's spirits, though. I grabbed a marathon t-shirt and a commemorative poster (both glow in the dark!...sweeeeeeeeeet) and found what I thought was a good seat.
Heh. My choice was semi-faulty. Or at least, the chair was. My seat was only bolted down on one side, and swung from side to side like Chubby Checker was teachin' me the Twist. It dawned on me pretty quickly that it was gonna be a long, strange trip through cinematic hell.
When the movies finally rolled an hour late, Saw began whupping the shit out of the unsuspecting audience. I'd seen a screening of it before, so I knew what to expect. But most of the folk were entranced by its intricate set-up and mean philosophy. James Wan has created something semi-unique out of familiar elements, taking the serial murderer genre, disassembling it and rearranging it so that the killer forces his victims to off themselves. The deathtraps are creative, but if you pay attention, the movie offers zero surprises for you.
Cary Elwes veers between smart, lean acting and being more wooden than Herr Hasselhoff. Co-story writer/screenwriter Leigh Whannell is adequate as Adam, the other guy chained up in the shithole room. Danny Glover sleepwalks through his role as a cop who has more issues than answers. All of these guys could be the killer. And all of them are keeping secrets that could come back to bite them in the ass.
There's a sort of morality to the actions of the Jigsaw Killer. He doesn't actually kill anyone, for instance. And, the ultimate aim of his plots it to force people to appreciate life again. He's kind of like an evil social worker. Check it out when it opens wide this weekend.
After that, we changed things up and watched Gozu, one of the more recent efforts from mad genius Takashi Miike. Two yakuza, one an older senior brother and the other his friend/driver. Minami (the driver) is told by their boss to take Ozaki (big brother) to a dump where he'll be retired. Ozaki conveniently disappears. Minami then has to interact with a town full of characters that David Lynch would consider fucked up in an effort to find his missing buddy and get him to the dump. Being Miike, things get weird. It's not nearly as violent as Full Metal Yakuza or Ichi the Killer, relying instead on general oddity and insanity to plunge Minami into his strange new world.
Any more than that, and I'll be spoiling all the fun. Let's just say Gozu ain't for everyone. But if you're open to it, it's hella fun.
After that, a quick break and Brad Anderson's The Machinist rolls. I've been looking forward to this for over a year because of two things: 1) Brad Anderson (I loved Happy Accidents and Session 9) and 2) Christian Bale, who is continuing to prove himself one of the most interesting actors in showbiz each and every day.
Bale's insanely extreme weightloss will get loads of ink for the movie. But it's really nothing you haven't seen before. The mystery and psychological elements are old hat. It's just in the hands of an expert craftsman like Anderson, which makes it definitely worth a looksee.
A performance by all-girl noise band 16 Bitch Pile-Up woke the crowd back up afterwards. They had a loop of moments from movie trailers behind them, accompanying their sonic chaos with stobing shots of killers, victims and ominous skies.
We got another peek at Kevin S O'Brien's legendary "Bread" cycle with a quick screening of his animated short Sandwich. Since Kevin was sitting in front of me, I got to harangue him about the 3 minutes of credits on a 2 minute short. It may be outright theft of Bambi Meets Godzilla, but it still makes me giggle. I'm so damn easy.
Allegedly, we watched Argento's Deep Red afterward, though the print was so washed out it may as well have been called SHALLOW PINK.
Then, because animal mutilation is so much fun in the early morning, we were subjected to Cannibal Holocaust, the notorious 1980 cinematic atroucity with stock footage of real executions and some hacking up of innocent wild things in the name of shock value. The doofy soundtrack begins driving the audience mad and people begin spontaneously calling out "BoooooooOOOOOoooop"s at all sorts of inopportune moments.
Return of the Living Dead at 10 am after being up all night...
Hmmm. One word.
The final film of the ordeal was Julian Richards' The Last Horror Movie. I honestly have no idea who Kevin Howarth is, but he plays a damn fine psychopath. His Max is an amoral bastard, a serial killer who's making a documentary about his crimes. Sure it's a gimmick movie, but it's fairly well-done low-budget goodness.
After the credits rolled...the survivors shambled out. Sure, fourteen hours is ten hours less than last year's marathon at the other theater...but it's long enough. Particularly when you're operating on next to no sleep. Grabbed one-sheets for The Machinist and Hellboy on my exit, and made my way back to my tiny apartment to's been a long damn day and a half, dammit.
I'm going to sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fables #30

writer: Bill Willingham
artist: Mark Buckingham
published by Vertigo Comics

A new day dawns in Fabletown. Election Day. The birth of Snow White and Bigby Wolf's children (yes, they have a litter).
Meanwhile, the rest of the Fables try to find normalcy after the march of the wooden soldiers. The neighborhood is still rebuilding and people are still recovering from their wounds.
The slice of life aspect of the book is one of the reasons it's still the best read on the market. The Fables call us mundane folk "Mundys", but they've succumbed to it just as much as we. They might be ageless and magical, but they're living in our world.
There are other things afoot, of course. King Cole, the mayor of Fabletown, isn't dealing well with the election. Prince Charming is finding that he'll never be able to deliver on his campaign promises. A reporter is digging into the secrets of Fabletown. And, the wicked witch is interrogating the traitorous Red Riding Hood.
The dense nature of the stories reminds me a lot of the best reasons why Vertigo exists. I enjoy picking up Fables on a monthly basis and discovering the new wrinkles on old characters, the new places Willingham is taking them. I'm captivated by the story and want more...each and every month.
While I'm on the subject of things I'm used to...even though they occasionally have a guest artist or two on board...I really like Mark Buckingham's art on the book. His renditions of Snow and Bigby are the ones by which all others are judged. Simple, classy and effective. (It doesn't hurt that he has a talented artist like Steve Leialoha inking his work.)
Fables is still my Can't Miss Book every month.

Ultimate X-Men #52

writer: Brian K Vaughn
artist: Andy Kubert
published by Marvel Ultimate

The Ultimate line has taken great liberties with a great many of the key events in Marvel continuity, but Fenris was never one of them.
The Strucker twins came along at the end of Chris Claremont's great run on Uncanny X-Men (back when it was still the only X-book). I don't know if they even deserve a footnote, other than they're the children of Baron Strucker from Captain America's rich gallery of cookie-cutter villains.
In the "Cry Wolf" storyline, they twins are heads of a multinational corporation who "help" mutants by exploiting their talents. They've kidnapped Rogue with the intention of using her as a corporate spy, using her ability to steal memories to their advantage. The lady begs to differ. Big mistake, yadda yadda...
Honestly, this is damn near the weakest stuff I've read from Brian Vaughn, except when he lets bits of the characters seep through...say for instance, the scenes back at the mansion. That's up to his usual standard. I guess it's just the Strucker twins that are a matching pair of bigass clown shoes.

Bullseye: Greatest Hits #1-2

writer: Daniel Way
artist: Steve Dillon
published by Marvel Knights

I have no idea who Daniel Way is.
No clue whatsoever.
I bought this book solely on the art of Steve Dillon. I don't do that much. I pride myself on the fact that I'm a comic READER. I follow writers, not artists.
Well, thanks to Mr. Dillon...I've found a diamond in the rough. Like Garth Ennis, Dillon's collaborator on Preacher, Way's got a wicked sense of humor. Way's deadpan delivery mirror's Ennis so well, it seems logical to have Dillon doing the art.
For the first time, we find out that Daredevil's nemesis Bullseye is a rogue agent of the US government. Stands to reason, of course. An assassin that talented would have to work for the government in some capacity, if not originally.
The story if framed around an interrogation of Bullseye by two NSA operatives who are looking for nuclear weapons that Bullseye stole. Instead of sweating him, one of the agents has an unusual take. Let Bullseye talk about himself...his past...where he came from.
Of course, like so many psychopaths, he comes from broken drank and killed his mom...big brother burned their apartment building down to kill dad. Leonard/Bullseye does the foster home thing, becomes a baseball player and finds out the game bores to spice things up, he kills a batter with a fastball. Naturally, the government takes an interest in this highly skilled sociopath.
I don't know how many issues this limited series will cover. But..damn it all...this is good stuff. Now I have to add Daniel Way to my list of writers to watch.

Challengers of the Unknown #5 (of 6)

writer: Howard Chaykin
artist: Howard Chaykin
published by DC Comics

Howard Chaykin hates the government. He hates Republicans, but something makes me think he's not that thrilled with the Democrats either.
Damned if this isn't the most anti-establishment comic book of the last few years. A damning indictment of the media, the military industrial complex, the culture of fear, the current regime, etc..., the rethinking of Challengers of the Unknown is a gigantic bitchsmack to everything that is The Establishment, and there's still an issue left.
Chaykin's been on a tear lately, and I'm all for giving the man all the toys he needs to play. Because we get gems like ths.
Not many writer/artists are a total package like Chaykin. In fact, I can only think of two that can hope to equal his quality as both a writer and an artist -- Frank Miller and Alan Davis. Being in company like that, methinks, must be nice.

Identity Crisis #5 (of 7)

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

I'm spoiled.
I've been reading too damn many good books lately. Maybe it's just me. Maybe we're in the middle of a new damn Golden Age. I'm still not sure about the decision on the part of DC to grit up their shiny universe...but this series is really driving the concept home.
There is a sequence at the end of the book that is quite simply heartbreaking. And Meltzer holds the moment for 14 pages. I just went back and counted. Half the damn book, and I thought it was maybe 4 or 5 pages.
Let me go over a few points.
Green Arrow fucking rocks.
Rags Morales' art has never been this breathtakingly, jaw-droppingly, earnestly wonderful.
Brad Meltzer's writing NAILS Batman. In two words, no less. "Not again..."
Powerful. And tragic.

Ex Machina #4

writer: Brian K Vaughn
artist: Tony Harris
published by WildStorm Signature Series

I've lavished a lot of praise on Brian K Vaughn. I've been all over his dick since his first Marvel Max miniseries, The Hood, which I really, really, really wanted to hate (and couldn't). Then came Y, the Last Man and Runaways which are two of my favorite reads in recent memory (only Fables is better at DC, and maybe Astonishing X-Men at Marvel).
I have one word to say about the latest issue of Ex Machina, his meditation on superhero politics. Just one word to say about the story and the Bigass Twist (which is semi-telegraphed). Just one word to describe Tony Harris' beautiful art. One word to sum it all up...


JSA #66

writer: Geoff Johns
artist: Don Kramer
published by DC Comics

Geoff Johns writes great super hero books.
He doesn't do anything revolutionary with the genre. He doesn't tinker with the workings.
He just makes beautiful clockwork stores that work with Swiss precision. He knows the minute details of continuity and weaves it seamlessly into his stories. And dammit, I feel bad knowing I don't have the complete run of JSA books.
This month, all three personages to wear the mantle of Hourman have an interesting conundrum before them. Rex Tyler, the original Hourman, died fighting Extant (originally Hawk from Hawk and Dove, but believe me, it's not worth going into) in the Zero Hour event a couple years back.
His son Rick, the current Hourman, would give his life to save his father's. He figures out a way to travel to the exact moment in the timestream where Hourman must die to save the universe, and figures any Hourman will do.
The android Hourman of the 30th Century transports the JSA and Rex Tyler to this vanishing point in time as well. He'd originally appeared just before Rex died and transported him to an area outside of time, where Rex could interact with the world for one more hour to say goodbye to his son.
This time (major spoiler here) the android takes Rick's idea to heart. Any Hourman WILL do. Including a mechanical one. Oddly, considering that it had been previously hinted at that the android Hourman was created by Rex Tyler, it stands to reason that he'd have to return from the dead. Now things come full circle,
The end of the book cuts back to Khandaq or whatever they're calling the fake DCU Iraq, where Black Adam has taken over and Atom Smasher's helping out. A mysterious time traveller appears (he popped up and grabbed Jakeem Thunder at the beginning of the book) and recruits Atom Smasher to go off and fight Degaton (who I honestly really don't know -- I've never been as big a DC reader as I am today)...and away we go again. Nothing but great, straight-forward sooperheroing.

Doctor Spectrum #2

writer: Sara "Samm" Barnes
artist: Travel Foreman
published by Marvel Max

Back in the 80s, everyone made a big deal about DC's two great deconstructionist comics that tore the genre a new asshole: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.
It wasn't until later that people realized that Marvel had quietly published a classic themselves in Squadron Supreme, a cautionary fable about how absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Now, with this book and Supreme Power, Marvel is attempting to revisit the parallel universe of the Squadron (a group of DC Universe analogs who band together to control a world they see as random and violent -- and end up becoming worse than the problem). What they've accomplished so far is nothing short of brilliance. I won't even attempt to discuss Straczynski's work on the parent title, as I'm a few issues behind, but love what I've read so far...just love it to death.
Despite what appears to be a slow start, Doctor Spectrum looks pretty damn good in its own right. As a meditation on DC's Silver Age Green Lantern character (Hal Jordan, soon to reappear in the DCU any day now), the series takes Doctor Spectrum's role in the military industrial complex to more logical conclusions, where he's more of a government puppet than a test pilot who maintains a secret identity in spite of wearing a mask that hides almost as much as Clark Kent's glasses.
The dark tone afforded by the Max line is letting the writers of this and Supreme Power explore a lot of possibilites that most superhero books can't due to their all-ages tone. And it works, dammit. I'm hooked, I'm a hopeless addict, and I'm on this train till the terminus.

Man Thing #3 (of 3)

writer:Hans Rodionoff
artist: Kyle Hotz
published by Marvel Knights

One word...
The trip towards that last bit at the end of this three issue limited series was eerily compelling and shows some promise for the film to be (Rodionoff wrote the screenplay, but Brett "I'm a talentless hack and I want to eat your babies" Leonard directed it), but dammit...I paid for a goddamn story. And a big ol' To Be Continued does not fucking constitute a story.
Fuck Marvel.
Fuck them up their stupid asses.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Return of Adam Strange #1 (of 8)

writer: Andy Diggle
artist: Pascal Ferry
published by DC Comics

I'd be arsed to name something Andy Diggle has written, but I'm sure I have before. His name is too damn unique not to remember. Diggle. He's one letter way from Diggler. You can tell where my mind is...
Anyhow, DC's decided to reboot Adam Strange. Who the fuck is Adam Strange? Well, he was DC's answer to John Carter of Mars and Flash Gordon...A normal, average Earth archaeologist who was accidentally transported to the alien world of Rann by the Zeta Beam and became that alien world's hero. With a funky retro sci-fi outfit, a ray gun and a jet pack, Strange defended his world from peril, wooed a princess, settled down and had a kid. The one problem was, the Zeta Beam transport was temporary, and Strange kept returning to Earth.
Gee-whiz retro adventures seem to be maybe coming back into vogue, what with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the upcoming A Princess of Mars. There's even rumors that they're bringing back 'ol Flash Gordon himself.
This series doesn't so much seep itself in the traditions of the serial/pulp sci fi heroism schtick as it lets the real world seep into Strange' least so far. Strange's apartment building has been destroyed, and he's been taken into custody by the police. Our hero's hit rock bottom. He believes that Rann's been destroyed and his wife and child are gone. The Zeta Beam to take him back never arrived...and when Superman checked where the planet was supposed to be, he'd found one of Rann's suns had gone nova.
The police are having none of this, of course. How could this average Joe know the JLA? High adventure on alien planets? Pshaw... Strange escapes from custody and runs smack dab into an incoming Zeta Beam...which was dropping off, not picking up. A bigass ugly alien called a Zeta Hunter wants to know where Rann went to. Adam has no idea, but the hunter's having none of it and before you can say golly gee willickers, they're having a jetpack fight over Gotham City.
This ish is all setup, and now apparently, Adam Strange has to avoid the cops, fight aliens AND find his adopted homeworld again. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.
Before I get to praising Pascal Ferry's art, let me mention the colorist's name. Dave McCraig. He splashes the page with pastels and cartoony brilliance and it just accentuates Ferry's clean, mangaesque art. Great stuff. I know I've seen HIS work before, too...and I can't remember where (the senility is really kicking in, I guess). I hope to see more of it in the future.
Fun fun fun. Looking forward to the journey.

Challengers of the Unknown #4 (of 6)

writer: Howard Chaykin
artist: Howard Chaykin
published by DC Comics

Howard Chaykin is exactly what Frank Miller should have become. A smart, incisive writer who's just as comfy penning mainstream books as he is edgy creator owned faire. Like Miller, Chaykin has a flair for filling the page with text and images designed to bombard you with the world he's created. Like Miller, Chaykin works in other media (as a TV writer, he's worked on The Flash, Viper, Earth: Final Conflict and Mutant X. Chaykin's dipped into the well of noir (his amazing collaboration on The Shadow with Bill Sienkiewicz orThe Black Kiss), history (American Century) and has created dystopian masterpieces like American Flagg and (hopefully) the alternate universe revamp of Challengers of the Unknown.
Where did Miller go wrong? I think he just started believing the hype. He started doing comics for something other than the love of the medium, though he has his pet projects that prove he's not a lost cause (Sin City, 300, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Roboy. But, like Ricky Ricardo would say...Frankie, you got some 'splainin' to do about that DK2 crap! (end rant)
I've never read the original comics, so I honestly don't give a rat's patootie about how it's changed or how he's raped the keister of DC's superscience investigative team. I just care that Chaykin tells a good yarn.
And dammit, he does. Finally things are starting to come into place. We learn that our intrepid heroes are actually highly trained sleeper agents and assassins who were programmed to return periodically to their organization for additional programming/brainwashing. They worked for the Hegemony, a supersecret cabal that controls things (Sorry kids, it ain't the Jews. It's WASP moneymen who control things in Chaykin's world...and ours. [pbbbbbt!]).
Things are coming to a head and with two issues to go in the series, we know it's gonna get worse. Much worse. The body count's piling up and the Challengers find out things about themselves that they never even dreamed. Most importantly, though. They find out they are simply mortal...and their enemies play for keeps.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Flash #214

writer: Geoff Johns
artist: Howard Porter
published by DC Comics

The Flash rules. Nuff said.
Seriously, Geoff Johns has been kicking all kinds of ass on this book for a couple years, and it doesn't seem like it's ever gonna end. The shockwaves from Identity Crisis are starting to reverberate through the the DCU, and the Flash isn't immune to it.
The dirty little secrets of Barry Allen come rearing up by the end of the book. Of course we have to wait until next month before we find EXACTLY what Wally West's predecessor has to admit...but so far, things to not look good for the heroes. All the dirty laundry...all the mistakes and judgement errors...all of it is coming home to roost.
Wally West; ex-Kid Flash, ex-sidekick, ex-member of the Teen Titans, current Flash and member of the JLA; is struggling on the precipice of utter disillusionment. He's long idolized his predecessor. Barry Allen was too good for words. Now we're finding the former Fastest Man Alive had feet of clay. Oddly enough, the Flash's arch-enemies, the Rogues, are keeping a low profile. They know the massive manhunt organized in Identity Crisis will sweep them up if they're not careful. Once again, it's not just the smart depiction of the's the brilliant depiction of Flash's enemies that gives the story its great color.
What's coming? No clue. But, I'm there, as long as Johns keeps up the amazing quality he's shown thus far.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Walking Dead #11

writer: Robert Kirkman
artist: Charlie Adlard
published by Image Comics

I don't really think it's safe to say I'm a horror comic reader. I've adored a few...Tomb of Dracula (the original...I'm not postive I'm in love with the new one), Morbius, The Living Vampire (the 90s reboot sucked) and Crimson would be three noteable exceptions.
However, I have big love for The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman's book is one of the best reads in comics today. It's smart, well-paced and (like Romero's zombie movies) pertinent. The eleventh issue follows the survivors as they settle in at a farm with a distubing secret: They've kept the zombies of all of their neighbors in the barn.
Bad idea, huh? Well, not everyone's seen a zombie movie. With no news and no information, how would people know that the zombies couldn't be revived? Sure, it's kind of silly to assume that someone who's missing half their face is gonna be OK...but think if it was someone you were fond of...a neighbor, a friend, a family member? Not knowing the rules of the genre, would you have it in them to put a bullet in their brain?
Of course, it's a zombie comic, so it's a given that this is a VERY BAD IDEA.
Something tells me that a member of Rick's family is gonna get zombified. And Rick's gonna be forced to wrestle with that question on his own. In any case, another strong issue from the best damn horror comic on the market today. The second volume trade paperback is out soon, so get off your ass and pick it up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Marvel Knights 2099 one shots

(Black Panther 2099 #1, Daredevil 2099 #1, Inhumans 2099 #1, Mutant 2099 #1, Punisher 2099 #1)
writer: Robert Kirkman
artists: Kyle Holtz, Karl Moline/Mike Perkins, Cliff Rathburn, Khary Randolph, Pop Mhan
published by Marvel Knights

Robert Kirkman is proving himself to be a great new storyteller.
First I'd heard of him, he was doing Invincible over at Image (I need to get the trades for that series). Then, I finally caught up with him by reading The Walking Dead, perhaps the best horror comic on the market today (and I've got another ish on my stack of books to read).
Now, he's all over Marvel. Writing Captain America, a couple of the solo X-books, etc. When I heard about these books, I thought they were just relaunching the failed 2099 universe that Marvel created in the mid-90s...which were, well, bad. Then, I heard Kirkman was doing them. They went from "Funk Dat" to "Gimme Dat" in about 3.2 seconds.
They're all self-contained stories and they all showcase Kirkman's magnificent storytelling ability. He's beginning to remind me a bit of Richard Matheson in the way he sets readers up for the punch at the end. Almost all of these titles have a bit of a twist to 'em, except for Mutant 2099, which oddly is the one hopeful book of the bunch. They all tell fantastic stories quickly and economically, and you never quite know where you're going. If they do yet another reboot of the Twilight Zone for TV...they need to get Kirkman on it. He's perfect for the job.

Wolverine #20

writer: Mark Millar
artist: John Romita, Jr.
published by Marvel Knights

There's a fantastic Akira Kurosawa film (in fact, my favorite Kurosawa film) called High and Low. It's about a kidnapping plot in Japan where the kidnappers mistakenly kidnap the child of a rich man's driver instead of the rich man's child. It's a great police procedural with some of the most stunning cinematography of an auteur's career.
Mark Millar borrows a bit from High and Low at the beginning of this ish. Just a bit. A chaffeur's son is kidnapped and the rich man refuses to pay the ransom for his employee. The first two pages play out like cinematic storyboards for a remake. Good stuff.
Then Wolverine shows up. And things kick into high gear. Turns out, this ain't Kurosawa no more. This is a knock down, drag-out, ass-kickin' zombie ninja story. We're treated to some wonderfully horrific gore that would be such a no-no if the ninjas weren't already dead and spewing green blood instead of the traditional red (Millar's apparently up on his ancient Sam Raimi as well). That continues for another eight pages and then Millar switches gears again. The fact that none of this feels remotely wrong is testimony to Millar's storytelling skill.
Now it's a story about Wolverine's old partner in crime, Kitty Pryde, looking for her now-missing bud. We're sorta back into Kurosawa territory as the parents of the missing kid mourn their apparently dead son. Two pages and on we go to the next genre.
SHIELD is investigating a series of cult-like slayings, the latest of which has happened in Minneapolis. Nick Fury and Elektra suspect it has something to do with the Hand (the wonderful undead ninja clan from Frank Miller's Daredevil who've since bedevilled the X-Men and particularly Wolvie himself. There's hints of a plot by Hydra and the Hand to take out 16 key figures in the superhuman community...and Wolverine tops the list.
They find Logan in South America (beat to hell, missing an eye and burnt to a crisp...that mutant healing factor is damn handy occasionally) and Elektra arrives on the SHIELD ship they're treating him on (yeah, a SHIP...not a helicarrier or some levitating fortress...someone must be cutting SHIELD's budget). Wolvie wakes up, starts killing people and all fucking hell breaks loose.
The fact that we're treated to all of this in a mere 24 pages is a treat. It goes against the supposed nu-Marvel idea of nothing happening for six or seven issues. Since this is part one of a story arc, you'd think Millar'd be able to pace things leisurely. Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. Get your runnin' shoes on and try to keep up. He writes a damn fine Logan. He writes a damn fine Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. And he writes a damn great Elektra. Why this boy isn't allowed to play with the toys more often, I got no idea.
Add to that the fanfuckingtastic art by Romita (with inks by Klaus Janson, who's a damn good artist himself) and I've already signed up for the entire six issue run. The final shot of Wolverine is damn near pinup worthy. I may yet go back to the comic shop and pick up another copy so I can rip that last page out.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Astonishing X-Men #5

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

Joss Whedon is a great fucking writer.
Yeah yeah yeah. I dropped foul language. But, I feel strongly about this. I've been a fan of Whedon's writing since the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched Angel and Firefly and watched him develop as a writer and creator. His previous comics work on Fray, a tale of a future slayer in the Buffy mythos, was outstanding as well.
But...DAMN. The characterization in this series takes 40 years of continuity in its arms and also forges boldly ahead. I was a huge fan of Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, but Whedon's reasons for dismantling so much of that feels so right.
On top of that...Colossus back among the living? And done WELL. Damn. I really can't say enough good things about the joy I have with this book at this point. Hell, I haven't even made mention of Cassaday's gorgeous artwork. This is really the book that DEMANDS I get to the comic shop each month.

The Tomb of Dracula #1

writers: Robert Rodi and Bruce Jones (story), Robert Rodi (script)
artist: Jamie Tolagson
published by Marvel Comics

I'm still, to this day, a huge fan of the original Tomb of Dracula series from the 70s. In fact, I'm rereading the 2nd Essential collection of that again...but don't have volume one in my library (sigh).
This book ain't it.
As first issues go, it's not bad. But, it follows the continuity of the Blade movies instead of the original comics. Blade is the main character, half-vampire like in the movie. There's a member of the Drake family, though not Frank Drake...not that she's EVER been mentioned before...and there's a Van Helsing, though not Rachel Van Helsing (who's dead in continuity anyway)...but this Van Helsing's NEVER been mentioned before (and I'm pretty sure it had been alluded to that Rachel was the last remaining Van Helsing...but what do I know?). Don't get me started on the hair metal band reject Dracula on the last page...
So, basically, I'm bitching because the continuity is utterly wrong. Well, aside from that, it's not a bad read. The team is assembled quickly and the objective is clear. How far they can milk this...well, I'm guessing this is a limited series...

Black Widow #1

writer: Richard K Morgan
artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
published by Marvel Knights

Bill Sienkiewicz is my favorite comic book artist. Bar none.
He makes comics look like ART.
He's an original, and his runs on New Mutants and The Shadow are amongst my favorite bits of comic art.
I could wax poetic about how much he rules. I'm not gonna. Instead, I'll just say that, first impression...this is one of the smarter espionage stories I've read in comics. I haven't read any of Vertigo's spy titles, so I can't judge against those. But...Black Widow has one thing those books don't have. Bill Sienkiewicz.
Great, great stuff.

Identity Crisis #4

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

So, the entire idea of the Identity Crisis series is that the DC Universe is undergoing a sea change. No longer will everyone be guaranteed a happy ending. There will be suffering. Bad things will happen to good people.
I can sort of accept that. Sort of.
I can see the publishers wanting to make things more realistic in the DCU. However, they still have 20+ fictional cities in the US where the majority of their stories take place. DC's America really bears no resemblence to the real world anyway. Why not indulge?
Nothing against Identity Crisis as a story. Meltzer's writing keeps things cruising. The mystery is compelling...there's a killer stalking the family's of the DCU's heroes who seems to be using methods taken from the Suicide Squad.
Half the heroes in DC's books are directly investigating the crimes. Atom saves his ex-wife with a smart use of his powers. Green Arrow and Wonder Woman visit a villain whose MO matches one of the attacks. And Batman lurks in his cave, going over the evidence...
Who's the killer? Well, they haven't tipped that card yet.
Tell you what, though...I'm on the edge of my seat. Lovin' it.