Comics Review – Thanksgiving ’15

Its been awhile since i’ve reviewed a comic, but it’s also been awhile since i purchased a comic and it did something more than sit in my bookbag until it transitioned to sitting near my toilet on my “Books to read if my cellphone ever dies” stack. The comics i’ve mostly been reading have been what i buy at Koch Comics down in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Come with me sometime, buy a whole lot of dope old shit, and leave satisfied. Unlike some of the comics i read today.

I will be reviewing Iron Man #1 relaunch (???), Secret Wars – Planet Hulk #5, Secret Wars #6 and Kaijumax. Of these three comics, only one of them actually served more turkey than stuffing.

Iron Man #1 – Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez

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Honestly purchased this comic cause it comes with a removable cover that is a cool print. I am not so much a fan of Iron Man as i am a fan of Iron Man Costumes. Anytime they release a new series, i buy the new issue to check out the new design. So mad props because i dig the new streamlined costume which is a big departure from previous designs. It is smooth, but with sharp angles. Compare to the Bleeding Edge Iron Man, which was just like poured baby oil on Tony Stark’s smooth balls. Not a fan.

I’ve also never been a fan of Bendis’ writing. Not on anything, but he’s hard to avoid in the Marvel Universe, even though his writing style is really only suited to stories taking place in a very limited quasi-whedon-esque section of Queens, somehow he ends up on across the Marvel Universe, resulting in a universe that sounds like a small section of Queens. When it comes to dialogue, its something that he can handle with ease, but if you want anything, like say a character who’s primary appeal his cutting edge science fiction and big robot action, you will have to be satisfied with about three pages of that. For a relaunch, its a failure. There’s maybe one line about this new armor and why it (and this series) is different than any previous take. It somehow (remains unexplained) able to replicate the capabilities of any other previous iron man armor ever made. How this machine is now any different than magic actually serves to weaken the introduction of the new armor, as science fiction works best with how a writer introduces rules to his world and then works within them to provide unexpected stories.

There’s something happening with Madame Masque, and you can’t bring yourself to care about it, because Bendis treats a relaunch like an extended teaser trailer. There would be more character development if it had some Nolan BRRAAAAAHM noises over a feverish montage.

The bulk of the issue takes place on a date where a woman calls Tony Stark a ‘horn dog’, and he acts surprised. The sheer lack of self awareness that Tony Stark would have to have to be surprised at this, reminded me that Bendis is best when writing teenagers, not grown ass men who live in an age of social media and celebrity gossip. Overall, the writing fell flat, although the art was clean and served to tell the story well – there wasn’t much in this relaunch, and I have no confidence that Bendis could bring any new or interesting ideas about robotics or cybernetics into this series.

Secret Wars #6  & Secret Wars – Planet Hulk #5, – Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic, Sam Humphries & Marc Laming

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Secret Wars should be right up my alley. As a kid, i read more “What If?” comics than the actual canon. I love seeing new takes on familiar characters, and for the most part, it is fun to see the different varieties and costumes of a character side by side. Nostalgia is effective, and this parallel universes allows one to indulge in nostalgia while also satisfying that fan-fiction impulse to remix.

But its hard to derive anything more than that from these series, as besides an almost impenetrable plot, none of these characters seem to matter at all. They are the literal left overs of destroyed universes, and you can’t make a meal out of scraps. Like, i guess you could, but Marvel is building their house of ideas into an actual house (BattleWorld is where all these characters from all of the marvel multiverse are …battling live), but you need more than just “Look at this Evil Hulk, its actually Evil Steve Rogers, WHOA!” as the emotional climax of your issue. In Secret Wars #6, most of the drama is derived from the fact that Evil Dr. Doom is leader of the Fantastic Four, and Good Guy Reed Richards seems to have an evil-lish Reed Richards partner. I shouldn’t have to read that trope three times in two issues.

I’d say Planet Hulk’s was a brisker read, but compared to its name-sake, The Original Planet Hulk was much more compelling and engaging, with actual Hulk still feeling hulkish in a world where he can be hurt. In this world, Steve Rogers can easily kill a Hulk in one axe swipe. Secret Wars #6 is such a drag. That shit feels like you woke up in the middle of a lecture and your professor is just staring at you mad offended that you don’t get what their talking about. I’m sorry, all three of these Marvel comics are obstensibly action/adventure stories, but there is way too little of any action, and these writers are not bringing any kind of real ideas to justify having these great artist draw a lot of biceps not lifting shit. Imagine if that next Ip Man movie with Mike Tyson has them just having a nice conversation, how disappointing would that be. These comics are trading on the excitement of a PLANET of HULKS, a WAR that is SECRET, and a MAN of IRON. We get a convo with Hulks, a convo that is secret, a convo about making iron man suits. Stop talking, start showing. None of these I would say are poorly written, but it often feels like they forget what they are writing.

These were three issues, one at the beginning of a new story, one in the middle, and one the final issue – none of them felt like anything more than just a few ideas tied together that amounted to “So, this happened.”

Esad Ribic paints some beautiful scenes, and his landscapes and otherwordly locations make me wish the script could keep up. There are some interesting ideas, like a school of leviathans in a massive ocean, or a lonely island fortress housing a holographic head of Dr.Strange, and the art makes it worthwhile to visit them. But that’s all you do, I wish the story did more than jump from cool little idea to another. I can’t say much about Planet Hulk’s artist, because on page one there’s a glaring anatomy error where the left arm of Bucky has a hand that is facing the wrong way. Worse – Captain America is holding hands with this hand. The rest of the art was fine, but i couldn’t see how that got past an editor.

Kaijumax by Zander Cannon

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Some people told me about this comic, and for awhile, I avoided it. I draw a comic called GAMMA, and its a parody of many elements from the tokusatsu genre, so I try to keep away from things I feel like could influence what I wanna make. I gotta go back and get the earlier issues. I had no idea this was such a funny book. Great idea of putting giant monsters on a giant island prison, and playing it like an actual prison drama. Its pretty twisted and silly and all the parts work together. The art is loose and very cartoony, and it rings really true for a fan of Kaiju monster movies. This was my favorite read of the comics I recently purchased, and I can’t wait to read more. Also, I wish i had this idea, which is the biggest compliment you can give someone.

Now i’ll just steal this idea, even bigger compliment right?

That’s my review for Thanksgiving. Hope you liked it.

 

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Godzilla – King of the Trailers

Imagine you went to watch the Avengers, and instead of seeing the Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man kick ass, you were stuck on the helicarrier watching news-footage over an unknown Shield Agent’s shoulder. This is Godzilla – King of the Trailers.

I love Trailers, so much so that I get quite upset when I’m going to a movie with someone, and we get there late and they say “Don’t worry, we’re just missing the trailers,” like it’s NO BIG DEAL. If I’m really excited to see a movie, I’ll watch the trailers over and over again. In fact, there are some trailers, that I believe stand the test of time, and are works of art on their own. Trailers are these little tiny stories, but they must leave you wanting more. Sometimes a trailer over-delivers, makes a promise that is impossible to keep.

There was Star Trek – Into Darkness:

The promise – We’ve seen cocky Kirk, we’ve even seen victorious Kirk, but everyone thought he didn’t truly earn the captain’s chair. This movie was gonna change all that. You need more than guts and smarts (Bones and Spock), you need heart, and Kirk is the heart of Star Trek. So let’s break Star Trek’s heart with the most famous villain, Kirk’s nemesis – Khan. Brilliant! I want to see that movie! I want to see these characters mature into the best and brightest of our future. We want to believe that only this crew will go, where no person has gone before.

The truth – That whole bit about Kirk deserving the captain’s chair? Resolved in the first 15 min. Spend the rest of the movie fighting Robocop in a big black ship. Khan isn’t so evil, but becomes evil for the last 15 min. to provide a disgusting smorgasbord of nostalgia overload. Everything is reversed though (which supports my theory that this is the mirror-verse)

There was Man of Steel:

The promise – Superman, re-imagined, but still the shining ray of light that elevates us all. Not just through raw power, but through faith in a higher power. We all face difficult moral decisions in our lives, but Superman is the one who will always make the right decision.

The truth – Massacre in Metropolis. Tonight at 11pm on Weekly World News.

And the up and coming, X-Men – Days of Future Past :

The promise – Please forget all the shitty movies we’ve made in this franchise, we’re really trying this time. Professor Xavier pleads, “Logan, I was a very different man. Lead me. Guide me. Be patient with me.” as if he’s speaking to all the betrayed fans of these shitty movies.

My prediction – “I DON’T WANT YOUR SUFFERING! I DON’T WANT YOUR FUTURE!” Yup. The X-Men franchise might as well be talking about itself. Ain’t nobody should believe that there’s more than 20 minutes of anything good in any of those movies, but you’ll always come back for Patrick Stewart, if he says “Please”

Yeah, Nice Try Jean Luc.

But the one Trailer, that rules above them all, that has had myself and others more riled up than a dog with a biscuit on his nose, was the trailer for GODZILLA.

The Promise – The slow build. The ever-present dread. The fear of the unknown. The reveal of a God. A Perfect Trailer. This is a movie that won’t focus on the puny humans, but instead, the audience will be witness to their inevitable extinction. Cloverfield, a film by JJ Abrams, which came out a few years after 9/11, was successful in transmitting the experience of sheer terror of a massive catastrophe. Using the visuals of panicked civilians, covered in dust, with an all too ever-present shaky cam, the audience was always at ground-zero. Where the movie fails, is the monster itself.

Bro, do you even lift?

Cloverfield, the monster, is one of the most pathetic creature-designs in monster-movie history. It’s the reveal in Scooby-Doo, where you discover the scary robot-mummy-ape is actually just a guy named Steve. Steve, the accountant who’s gotten himself into some gambling debts. Cloverfield is revealed to be indestructable. Why? I dunno. It’s a fucking fish, that is pale white and has no visible armor. But Godzilla. My god. Look at this dude –

And here comes the Spoiler Alert. But i’m gonna spoil the spoiler alert, because the truth about Godzilla 2014, is everything you’ve seen in the trailers…that’s it. You want an epic clash of the mega-titans? Good luck, you’ll be forced to watch it on small tv screens, where other characters interact in the foreground, or even worst, you watch a little boy, watch the big fight, and you just hear the news anchor talk about what you should be seeing.

Show, don’t tell, is the MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR A MONSTER MOVIE. You won’t see any monsters through all the god damn smoke, flairs, smog, fog, trees, caves, worried-expressions, and Ken Watanabe-ing. Remember this multi-legged dead beast thing?

Warning – This is not in the Movie

What you get, are two nearly identical monsters, with nearly identical fighting styles, who conveniently make all the lights go out when they are around. Each time, a cool boss battle is about to occur, you cut to some humans feeling sad about some other humans. Godzilla 2014 is a feature-length movie trailer. There is not one major fight scene that you actually see the beginning, middle and end. You see a bite here, a growl there, but it’s like watching a boxing match with a girlfriend who keeps insisting “Lets just check out what’s happening on Gilmore Girls for a second!” and then you miss the knockout punch. The next day, you feign excitement when everyone is like ‘MY GOD, HE BROKE HIM IN HALF” And you are stuck trying to find clips of it on youtube. But it’s not the same, it’ll never be the same. I’m sure people will say they LOVED IT. I’m sure it’ll be the same people that inserted those miraculous non-existent evacuation scenes into Man of Steel. There are big monsters in Godzilla, there is big destruction in Godzilla, but there is not much Godzilla in Godzilla. I hope you like hearing about a flying bat named Muto a lot. That’s what you’re gonna watch.

Or not watch. Remember how everyone hated how dark Pacific Rim was?

Final Verdict – Godzilla was filmed in a dark room, from across the street, watching a married couple having a drunk fist fight. And the director has ADD.