Saturday, July 31, 2010

Comic Book Review: Superman #701


Book Information
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Penciled by Eddy Barrows
Inked by J.P. Mayer
Colors by Rod Reis
Letters by John J. Hill
Cover by John Cassaday & David Baron

Superman was created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Let us trail back in time a bit, ok? How many times have we actually seen Supes fly down and walk among mere mortals? Sure, he’s had brief moments where he has found himself in the middle of a human huddle, but never (at least in my life time) have I seen Superman actually take the time to descend from his heavenly plain and use his two feet. I don’t know about everyone else, but this feels like Supes has finally made a decision based more on what HE needs rather than what the people need.

As reporters huddle around him and throw out question after question, Superman responds with no more than one word answers, not giving them the satisfaction of some out-of-this-world response to explain his actions. He’s decided to do something different which he feels doesn’t need an explanation. Who cares right? The world cares more about Michelle Obama’s love for dogs than they do about poverty in 3rd world countries. Now we have the world more concerned about Superman taking a casual walk than the recent catastrophic events of New Krypton blowing up. It’s a common occurrence within American society and Superman is unintentionally showing the people that it shouldn’t matter if he decides to be normal or not.

Of course, Superman doesn’t allow the people to forget that he still maintains his super powered abilities by fixing car, lifting a Fox News-like reporter into the air, and burning some drug dealer’s stash with his heat vision, but the difference is he’s not intervening like he used too; he only told the old man that something was wrong with his heart, he only told the over confident car enthusiast that the fuel line was busted, but it was up to them to actually fix their problem. Now Supes did actually clean up the restaurant owners store room, and he did actually stop the hoodlums from dealing in that particular community, but this type of intervention is on a much, MUCH smaller scale than normal. Even with the young woman on the verge of jumping off a tall building, Superman only chats with her; he doesn’t force her down or try to stop her from actually jumping, he just listened to her and let her decision to jump or not be her own without any interference on his part. This new approach to Superman much resembles Gail Simone’s treatment of Wonder Woman, showing Superman’s more human and compassionate side.

There was, at times, some confusion on my part as to whether or not Supe’s walk on the sentimental side is more for his own edification, or the people’s. Maybe it’s both, I don’t know, but there is a mystery ahead as to whether or not this is the start of a new way of life for the Man of Steel.

I did become puzzled by the fact that Lois is just letting her husband pursue his own little walk-a-thon without even consulting her. Yes, Lois realizes that being married to a superhero comes with a certain amount of unpredictability and the willingness to let him do what is needed in the name of justice, but good grief, he just got back! I would think Lois would want him to stick around for more than one day right? If I were Lois, I’d have totally pulled out a can of whoop ass and tell it to Superman straight! This is not so much of a down side to this issue, just something that makes me tilt my head in wonder.

As for the art, Eddy Barrows is nothing less than a perfect artist. His use of light and dark has always been a pleasant highlight for me to enjoy. And with the help of Rod Reis on colors and J.P. Mayer giving the perfect amount of inking to the entire look of this issue, this is a great comic to stare at.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
The question to ask now is, where is Straczynski going with this? This was a wonderful change in the typical Superman storytelling crusade, but I can honestly say that getting a year long diet of this sentimental walk across the country, with all the cliché one liners and inspirational jargon that could potentially permeate throughout this whole run, really won’t sit well with me. I really enjoyed this issue make no mistake, I think it’s one of the better issues of the month, but hopefully something different occurs that gives this run meaning that’s fresh and inspiring.

Ratings
Writing: 9.5
Themes: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 9.83 out of 10

Friday, July 30, 2010

Funny Superhero Strip

Comic reviews coming soon, in the meantime, check this out...Click ro enlarge

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comic Book Review: Green Hornet #6


Book Information
Written by Kevin Smith
Breakdowns by Phil Hester
Pencils by Jonathan Lau
Colors by Ivan Nunes
Letters by Troy Peteri
Cover by Alex Ross

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
What I really need to do is lend these first six issues of Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet to my mom and ask if it compares to the Green Hornet of her childhood. The Green Hornet was one of the many super heroes of my mother’s childhood that I seem to recall her enjoying more than the others. I want to know her opinion because it would blow my mind to hear that Smith’s new interpretation of the classic hero is not as good as the one she grew up with. Smith is blowing this title out of the water; sure it’s predictable, but boy is it fun!

Much like anyone who discovers something fantastic about themselves, our hero decides to embrace this “calling” and run with it. But much like a child who’s just found the keys to the candy store, Britt Reid also goes a little haywire in trying to create his own image of his father’s legacy. As he goes through costume after costume in a series of hilarious criminal interventions, one of which almost fails, Reid decides the best course of action is to keep it old school and sport the green jacket, black Dockers, and detective’s hat. It was a fun way to induct Young Mr. Reid into the Green Hornet persona, but it also allows readers to understand that Kevin Smith isn’t trying to change anything; he’s merely giving it a new character twist while staying true to the hero fans know and love.

Jonathan Lau, again, presents panel after panel perfection with vivid and lively art that emotes both character and livelihood. The wide range of emotions he is able to put into his characters faces is a skill I wish I could master to the level of Mr. Lau. And of course, this is all only enhanced by the great Ivan Nunes who has an uncanny ability to recall the classic “speed lines” style and enhance it to meet a more mature and diverse artistic audience.

And finally, let’s give a warm round of applause to the legendary Alex Ross who never ceases to amaze me in the amount of detail he puts into every piece of art work he does. The cover is not only one of the most artistic of the year so far, it’s clever as well. Keeping the hero in context of his character, Ross allows Mr. Reid the liberty of tipping his hat to us in this seductively sexy scene. While I’m not sure how it connects to the story within, it is definitely a site to see.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
“Hey mom! Check this out? Does it compare?”

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 10 out of 10

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comic Book Review: Brightest Day #6


Book Information
Written by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi
Art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleeson, Scott Clark, Joe Prado
Colored by Peter Steigerwald, John Starr
Inked By Vicente Cifuentes, David Beaty, Mark Irwin, Christian Alamy
Lettered by Rob Clark Jr.
Cover by David Finch, Scott Williams, Steigerwald

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
We all know Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi are incredible writers, both collaborating their efforts on the two Green Lantern titles to make sure the Blackest Night event made sense. They’ve done such a great job you’d think that putting the two together on one title would be a match made in Heaven. But as Brightest Day has reached its sixth issue, three months in, I’m beginning to wonder if this writing team-up was a good idea to begin with.

The problem with Brightest Day first starts with its compact nature. Every two weeks we get no less than four storylines in each issue, all of which further the mystery in little increments. This issue is no exception. Hawk and Dove are still at the graveyard with Deadman, Firestorm is still trying to cope with everything post Blackest Night and deal with a pissed off boyfriend, Martian Manhunter discovers he can’t touch plant life without it withering up and dying, and Aquaman listens to Mera explain why she was supposed to kill him. The mysteries each character is dealing with have been the same with each issue and become quite cumbersome. I’m wondering if, like Blackest Night, having the main title along with BD tie-ins would have been a better route to go; with its compact nature, Brightest Day is becoming a lot more boring then exciting.

#6 isn’t without its good points though. Ronnie Raymond seems to be having issues with alcohol, which I don’t blame him. If I could remember being a risen corpse and killing the girlfriend of the person who shares the Firestorm Matrix with me, I’d probably take up some type of vice to keep from going insane too. But most intriguing is the phantom voice that seems to be lurking within the minds of Both Ronnie and Jason; it focuses in on Ronnie, scolding him for past actions and the content of his character, but Jason is very much aware of this voice as well. This is probably one of the more interesting things that have popped out in Brightest Day.

DC had enlisted a tag team of artists whose styles are quite similar, which keep the flow of the book surprisingly fluid and easy to look at. The two page flashback spread of Mera and Aquaman’s past together was incredibly beautiful. But I don’t think anything will beat the awesomely creepy cover by Finch, Williams, and Steigerwald.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
Overall, this issue is quite bad with a few high points here and there. This story really needs to start making some sense or I’m going to blow up!

Ratings
Writing: 3
Themes: 4
Art: 8
Overall: 5 out of 10

Monday, July 26, 2010

Comic Book Review: Welcome To Tranquility #1

Book Information
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Horacio Domingues
Colored by Jonny Rench
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Cover by Neil Googe & Rench

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Years ago, Gail Simone took charge of “Welcome to Tranquility” and gave it a personality that had not been achieved by any comic of the time. Today, very few titles have come close to meeting that standard set by Simone. Now Wildstorm Comics has brought the popular title back with Simone helming the literary wheel for fans to enjoy once again.

Tranquility seems to have grown into a much larger society for retired heroes with many life changing events occur all at the same time. Mayor is being let out of prison, his wife Suzy anxiously awaits his return, fellow comrades are trying to figure out the reason for the Mayor’s framing, and someone goes out of their way bring Mayor closer to some answers.

This first issue in WTT is just like I remember it; funny, witty, and very different from every other comic book. Its strange sense of humor along with the twisted world created by Simone is a fantastic display of creativity and intelligence. The human side of the story, one of Simone’s more compelling literary attributes, is one of reconciliation and reunion. This issue gets us off to a great start in introducing new characters, bringing back old ones, and building up this mystery surrounding Mayor and the rest of this retired clan of superheroes.

Horacio Domingues brought an interesting artistic flavor to the pages of WTT #1. I can’t say I’m a fan, but I also won’t say I hate it either. His unique brand of art does actually compliment this weird world, which in case makes his art more appealing than should be. It just goes to show you, as long as it fits in the story, the art can be mediocre, yet still be compelling. I think the main problem lies with the inking job; if it wasn’t so heavy and overbearing, I think it could have worked quite well.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
A very great start to a revived popular title. I’ve never been a huge fan of the type of comics Wildstorm publishes, but Welcome to Tranquility defies everything that comics have been made out to be. As long as Simone stays on this book, I’ll stick to reading it.

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 10
Art: 8
Overall: 9.33 out of 10

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Comic Book Review: Time Masters: Vanishing Point #1

Book Information

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Cover by Jurgens & Rapmund

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
I was skeptical about picking this issue up for a number of reasons, and all I think most would agree with.

First, it’s called “Time Masters: Vanishing Point.” I know comics have the reputation of being slightly corny, but in this modern comic writing society, the corniness is a lesser aspect and doesn’t overshadow the literary quality comics have achieved. Stop giving me Sci-Fi Channel quality titles and give me one that will make me ecstatic!

Secondly, it ties into the whole return of Bruce Wayne saga. I don’t know about you, but I’m really getting annoyed with how much DC is tying almost all of their titles into Bruce Wayne’s return from time.

Thirdly, and this is only speculation, it seemed that this title would have a lot of trouble standing on its own. When titles such as Adventure Comics, Secret Six, The Web, etc come out with that older “classic comic” feel to them and can make a name for themselves without relying on other stories within the DCU to get started, it feels fresh and new. This issue is simply going off of things which we already know and is more of an excuse to put Batman into another title.

The only new thing we learn in this issue is that Booster Gold holds some importance to the future of DC. Having him and his entire team from the future back in comics was fun to say the least, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Jurgens under used these characters in what could have been a very interesting reunion.

I understand why Superman and Green Lantern are apart of the Batman search and rescue team, but this feels more of a cheap shot than anything else. As much as I hate Booster, he actually does provide some insightful advice as to respecting the time stream and not changing anything as it could affect the future. It’s obvious that both Supes and GL don’t fully understand the implications of NOT helping those in need while in the past. Booster and Rip Hunter do however. I would think this title would have been better served if Superman and Green Lantern weren’t included and been kept secluded to Rip Hunter, Booster, Supernova, and Goldstar who all have experience dealing with time. This would have given Time Masters a better edge and shown that DC doesn’t need to rely on their big name heroes to boost sales.

Rip Hunter has a lot potential and could very well succeed in his own title. If this title does anything, I hope it gives Rip a chance to star in adventure comics and possibly take it over. But the surprisingly below average storyline (very uncharacteristic of Mr. Jurgens) doesn’t provide Rip with a real opportunity to display his potential.

Now, onto the dialogue. Goldstar; she is a hottie and friggin amazing. But Jurgens really killed it for me with the exceptionally contrived bit of verbiage…

Goldstar: SUPERNOVA?
Supernova: Looks like I got here just in time. I used the Phantom Zone projector built into this suit to transport the grenade where it could do no harm.
Goldstar: Thank God you came when you did.Shoot me now!

All that was missing from this scene was Superman saving a cat caught in a tree. This kind of dialogue permeated within every page of this book and made me want to puke. Please, no more Dan Jurgens, NO MORE!

All this aside, I must say the art does give me that much needed quality boost that the story is severely lacking. It reminded me of my middle and high schools days when Jurgens was in charge of the art. He was what kept me sane during the dreaded “trial of Superman” arc that almost made me drop Superman altogether. The art isn’t spectacular, but it is very appealing to look at.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
So; bad writing, bad character involvement, bad thematic tie-in…Good art. I feel bad because I love Jurgens, but this issue left me little hope that the rest of this arc will serve any more purpose than the World of New Krypton series did.

Ratings
Writing: 4
Themes: 3
Art: 8
Overall: 5 out of 10

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday With Karen Alloy #1

A Moment With Youtube Sensation, Karen Alloy
So I know what a lot of you are going to say..."Jimmy, you only like this girl because she has big boobs and a pretty face."

And respond most respectfully to all of you that you are all DEAD WRONG.  Yea, she has big boobs and a pretty face, but I also think her videos are hilarious and actually hit at a lot of truths within society today.  She is a cultural studies major's best friend. 

I think all of you should watch this video and tell me if you haven't done this at least five times in your life.  I know I have.  People don't like to be wrong, and we do all we can to make sure we are RIGHT!

The Human Centipede Movie Trailor

OH MY GOSH!  This is going to be so bad!  So bad that...well...I might actually have to see it!  WOW!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman & Robin #13


Book Information
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frazier Irving
Lettered by Patrick Brosseau
Cover by Frank Quietly, Frazier Irving

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Dick Grayson has stood to the test, proving that he has the capabilities of filling in for Mr. Wayne as Batman. However, with the return of Professor Pyg and Simon Hurt, Grayson now must now face the ultimate challenge which will solidify his Caped Crusader status into the history books of the DC Universe. With all that has transpired since the R.I.P days, Morrison is now beginning to tie up those loose ends and bring the whole mystery to a progressive conclusion. But with all the angst and drama filling this issue, I can’t help but feel completely and utterly bored.

First off let me say that Morrison does deliver an incredibly creepy plot base, making us wonder if the Joker has actually become crazier than he already is and giving Simon Hurt’s return a seedy entrance. This issue is so compact with dark material that you’d think I’d have an orgasm since that’s what appeals to me the most, but I was unable to get into the story because of how boring it is. The script seems to drag on and on with only a climactic beginning, a stunning conclusion, and a brutal Joker beating in the middle. I’m fully aware that I’m on the “hate Grant Morrison” band wagon, but I don’t think Morrison’s writing is what caused the epic failure in this book; rather it was Frazier Irving’s art.

Irving received both praise and scrutiny for his work on The Return of Bruce Wayne, and I for one saw how his style worked for that particular issue, but I also remember starting that getting a steady diet of his work would wear on me. The painted look to Irving’s art is too wooden and displaced from reality to be appealing over a period of months. But even this one issue was a little too much for me to handle; with its dark composition and out of place characterizations, it just didn’t compliment the literary aspect that Grant Morrison gave it. Its way too heavy in the shading and the white-on-black contrast, especially with the Joker, was too distracting and strange.

With all of this negativity I’m throwing out there, I do have to give props to both Morrison and Irving for that compelling Robin and Joker scene. Robin, calling upon all his hatred for the Joker and what he has done to both Wayne and Grayson, he lashes out with a crowbar to the head of our Clown prince of crime on the verge of killing him. It wasn’t that Robin was attacking the Joker in the way he did that made this scene so compelling; it was the moment right before the strike where Joker seemed almost insightful and sorrowful of what he has done in the past. I was unable to tell if this was a ploy, or if the Joker actually did feel terrible for his past actions. I might categorize this as one of the more emotionally driven scenes within the history of comics.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
Being very dialogue heavy and overdone artistic scenes, this book was not very satisfying, which is sad! Morrison, I feel, actually delivered a decent story that I could have really gotten into. However, if the art doesn’t work, then the story could loose its meaning.

Ratings
Writing: 8
Themes: 10
Art: 1
Overall: 6.33 out of 10

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Movie Review: Inception


Credits Release Date: July 16, 2010 (conventional and IMAX theaters)
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenwriter: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action throughout)
Official Website: Inceptionmovie.com

The Plot of Your Dreams
Using a similar concept as the Matrix trilogy, Director Christopher Nolan brings us a film of terrifying possibilities, dealing in concepts that make us ask the question, “what if we aren’t in control of our lives?” Starring Leonardo DeCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page, Inception is a story as disturbing as the title makes it out to be.

Dreams are the true definition of solitude and one of the last remaining aspects of life that belong only to you and are shaped by you alone. Sometimes dreams are good, sometimes they’re bad, but without a doubt they belong to no one else but you. Nolan now has created a world where not even the dream world is beyond trespass and corruption. This made up world is full of criminals called Extractors, agents who attempt to break into people’s dreams to steal valuable information. The ability to steal ideas from ones mind is the common practice among extractors, but the art of changing someone’s mind, called inception, has never been successful…or has it?

Dom Cobb, (DiCaprio) along with his team of highly trained extractors embarked on a mission to put a new idea into the mind of a young businessman, Mr. Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to help advance the productivity of Mr. Sainto’s (Ken Watanabe) business empire. However, along with Fischer’s mind initiating defense mechanisms as a way of fending off possible dream extractors, Cobb is haunted by the memory of his deceased wife who continually walks into any dream he enters with deadly purposes. With his team ignorant of this fact, Cobb tries to finish the assignment while keeping his friends alive to return to the real world.

My Sleep-Deprived Opinion
The most difficult thing to do with this film is explain it. The story is so complex and jam-packed that the only way to truly understand what it’s about is to watch it. This is not a film for someone who wants to sit back and turn the analytical part of their brain off, this is a story filled with thought provoking ideas and a hard to grasp story concept. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and preparation went into this movie as Nolan began working on it as a teenager only for it to now become a reality. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think it’s told bold to state that this film could very well be the next Oscar winner for best motion picture.

After having a few days to think about the film and what it was trying to do, I’ve decided the most satisfying aspect of Inception was its film noir characteristics. Right off the bat we can tell this story has a very dark undertone with a classy, early 20th century appeal. The whole idea of entering into ones dreams is terrifying enough in and of itself, but with Cobb’s lingering memory of his wife constantly attacking him at every opportunity, we find that the inner darkness of Cobb is what drives this film into its very essence.

One thing Nolan is a master at is making the standard, formulaic composition of a film look new and fresh. The explanations of the dream state of mind is never given to us in conventional ways, but rather displayed to us in a series of visual concoctions that both shock and awe. Nolan doesn’t try to treat his audience as intellectually inept, but he does keep us guessing as to when we are seeing the dream world and the real world. One thing to keep in mind though, as you may or may not fully understand each of the moment to moment parts of the film, the intuitive part of your brain should be able to grasp and understand what is going on within the story. This film allows the audience to do what most other films won’t allow you to do…Think! You can’t just walk into this movie and expect it’s meaning to be handed to you like most films do; you actually have to take time and think about what it’s trying to say and do.

While the story does focus in on the dream state of mind, Nolan takes advantage of modern technological advancements and play out the dream world on screen, which also blends into the basic theme of the story. As Leo constantly explains throughout the film, the dream world always seems real in the moment, it’s only when you wake up when you realize it wasn’t real. Nolan doesn’t try to make the dream world so intangible (like a lot of stories do) that the realistic aspect goes away, but there is that tiny bit of curiosity and wonder, begging each one of us to ask ourselves if we actually know which world we are looking at.

Utilizing the relationships Nolan has built with actors he’s worked with, he brings in three caped crusader friendly actors with whom all helped make the Batman franchise so successful; Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, and Ken Watanabe who all dominated the screen in Inception with their tremendous performances. But Inception isn’t lacking in experienced superhero actors from other comic book films such as Ellen Page, who starred as the girl who could walk through walls in X-Men 3. I was initially weirded out by this casting choice of Nolan’s, but she grew on me as the film progressed and ultimately, with her believable performance, I accepted her as an integral part of the cast. Now while Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hasn’t appeared in any comic book films, there are rumors that he could be the next villain in the third Batman installment as the Riddler. His performance might have been the most impressive of them all; his mature and adult demeanor over-shadowed his boyish face and gave the story that much needed balance within the cast.

The complexity of the story, while still not impossible to understand, can be very hard to comprehend and follow during its two hour duration. You may even leave the theater a little unsure of yourself, which is partially the point. Questions should be floating around in your head about the different stances the film takes as well as the inner workings of the story’s details. Dreams haunt us and linger in our memories, and sometimes we hold onto a dream so much that we lock it away and never let it go, only to cause ourselves more personal grief and pain. How far can we go until that memory gets the better of us and takes over completely? Was Don Cobb finally able to let go, or is he still there in a dream?

I can’t imagine the difficulty in creating the special effects for this film. Nolan, who tries very hard to use more physical effects than digital CGI effects in all of his films, went all out with Inception; Yes, Gordon-Levitt actually is floating around and fighting agents in the air and yes the train actually does run through the middle of a downtown city street. Most everything (Keyword, MOST) that went on in this film did not happen in front of a green screen, but right out in the open for all to see. All of the stunts were done right in front of the camera and not within the confines of computer generated illusions. This is special effects work at its finest. James Cameron should take lessons from Nolan.

And the Conclusion I Woke Up Too…
Nolan stated that his intention with this film was too put the audience “into the experience, what I like to call a 'tumbling forward' quality, where you're being pulled along into the action." As far as I’m concerned, he did just that. This movie went above and beyond in how detailed, realistic, believable, and well written film was. He took an idea from his childhood and gave it to the rest of the world to behold. This film was an absolute joy to experience with its original concept, incredibly well-written and researched script, and thought provoking ideas. In my opinion, this film was perfect.

Rating: 11 out of 10 stars
(Yes, I did that on purpose. Best film of 2010 thus far!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comic Book Review: Supergirl #53


Book Information
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle
Inked by Jon Sibal
Colored by Nei Ruffino
Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Igle & David Baron

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
You know, just a few days ago I had a few friends make fun of me because I read Supergirl. They had even more trouble coping with the fact that it’s one of the titles I anticipate the most month by month, which caused them to throw out a few more attempts at belittling my masculinity because I read what they consider a “Girl’s” comic. (Of course they were later that evening getting with a band of friends to see Eclipse, but whose judging right?) I don’t know what it is, but something about having a Super “girl” out there fighting bad guys and super powered crazies where she’s constantly putting herself on the line just doesn’t seem to measure up to a “man” doing the equivalent. Oh well, Sterling Gates definitely shows that Supergirl is Woman enough for me.

Kara (or Linda I should say) is going through another phase in her life (darn teenagers) where she again questions the identity bestowed upon her vs. her actual heritage. With both of her parents dead and her entire planet destroyed, she wonders if now is the time to start anew; throwing her past behind her and taking her place as a female living on Earth like everyone else; NOT as a Super human alien fighting for truth, justice and the American way. She’s ready to be normal, but Lana wonders if Kara (damnit all…LINDA!) throwing away her cape, and red “S,” shield is the best course of action.

Gates poses a great question, what if someone does have great power but chooses not to use it? Could Uncle Ben have been wrong when stating that great responsibility comes along with having incredible power? Kara has decided to stop being a superhero, is she wrong for doing so? Lana sure does a great job at throwing a guilt trip on the female formerly known as Supergirl. But this is a dilemma we face everyday isn’t it? “You should be a basketball player” or “You should pursue a career in dentistry” or many other phrases that people constantly throw at someone whose dreams and ambitions do not cooperate with what the rest of the world thinks that that person should do with the rest of their lives.

The cover (as amazing as it is) doesn’t speak to the characterization within the pages of issue #53; we see Supergirl aggressively jolting towards us, flaunting the red “S” for all to see, but within is a conflicted Supergirl who has decided throw away her childhood and become someone different. This arc will most definitely be about choosing between what you want and what the people need. And we will most assuredly see if Supergirl decides to remain as Linda Lang or continue on as the “Girl of Steel.”

Jamal Igle is growing on me! I was really amazed at how vibrant and lively his art was in this issue. Bizarro Girl popping out at us was incredible and scary! Igle is really giving us some freaky stuff here with Bizarro Girl and the twisty, turny experiments Dr. Light was putting on Superwoman. Nicely done Igle, you deserve a medal!

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
I’ll keep my comments about this Bizarro Girl to myself until I see where Gates is taking this. I have my doubts about it, but Gates rocks, so I’ll wait.

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 10 out of 10

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Love Ripping On Twilight!!!

This is kind of true huh?

Comic Book Review: Power Girl #13


Book Information
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Sami Basari
Colored by Sunny Gho
Lettered by John J. Hill
Cover by Sami Basari

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
So far, so good. Judd Winick is a highly competent writer who’s very good at telling a story. However, I wonder how many times a superhero’s origin story can be regurgitated until it becomes meaningless? Granted, Power Girl hasn’t truly been taken advantage of (storywise) until recently; we can thank Palmiotti, Gray and Conner for that. I do like this start Winick has given PeeGee, but it doesn’t have the same ring that the first twelve issues had.

Winick is attempting to remind readers of who Power Girl is and what she stands for; all of the flashbacks that occur with Max Lord, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the OMAC project show that Our lovely Kara will be going through an awakening. I feel Winick is attempting not so much of a recreating, but a recalibration of Power Girl, and it starts with a pair of earrings. It does give her some purpose and reasoning for wearing jewelry on the job now doesn’t it? (Just a side note: There’s no way Nicco wasn’t ready splurge right then and there once PeeGee put those rubies on her earlobes. I wonder how big his bulge was after he left that office.)

Now, as much as I appreciate what Winick is doing, I would much rather see this new approach to Power Girl to be a little less nostalgic. Flashbacks occur way too often within the DCU and unnecessarily so most of the time. As most of you know, I like that, but you can only take it so far, especially if it’s the umpteenth you’ve heard that story! I can hardly count on both hands how many times we’ve seen Wonder Woman twist Maxi’s head a full 180. However, it was nice to see what was going on with Maxwell Lord from a different perspective when he fell into that vat of ice. The question is, what does he want everyone to forget, his evil period or his life in general? And why does this seem to initiate some type of memory switch to flip on in Power Girl’s head?

What I do appreciate the most with Winick’s literary style is keeping the humor around. PeeGee is at her best when letting out her inner child. When she realizes Nicco has a gift for her, she becomes completely giddy and full of life. That’s the Power Girl we love and I hope Winick keeps it around. In addition, I’m glad to see that ever Power Girl knows that Booster Gold is a knuckle headed nincompoop who acts out of the glorification of being him rather than genuinely wanting to help people. I’m sure I’m stretching the truth about Booster, but I like that Power Girl gets truly ticked off at him because, well, that’s how I feel about him.

Sami Basri is very good, I won’t deny that, but his art is definitely something I’ll need to get used too, and I think I will too! The colors and definitive lines are gorgeous, but the inking is where I’m left a little disappointed. Within the confines of the bodies, the outlining is truly remarkable. But when having to trace on the outer structure of the characters, the outlining becomes a little overdone; it’s almost as if I was reading a Japanese Manga book, something that has never really appealed to me. But that cover is a sight for sore eyes. Despite Power Girl’s miniaturized cape flapping in the wind, everything about that cover screams perfection.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
A nice start to a new period in the life of PeeGee. I would have tweaked a few things if it were me working on the book, but I’m sure every fanboy says that, right?

Ratings
Writing: 9
Themes: 9
Art: 9
Overall: 9 out of 10

Monday, July 19, 2010

Comic Book Review: Green Lantern #55


Book Information
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke
Inked by Christian Alamy
Colored by Randy Mayor
Lettered by Nick J. Napolitano
Cover by Doug Mahnke

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Ok, I’ll admit it; Green Lantern #55 was good, even if Lobo was a major character in it. Geoff Johns was able to make it all work like clock work, especially in how he used this diversion as way of pushing into Brightest Day. Because that’s all this issue is, a diversion from the real plot. And sometimes that’s exactly what the doctor ordered. Sometimes a distraction to hold the readers attention in the wrong place is the right thing to do.

Let’s be honest, Lobo sucks as a character, at least in the way he’s been portrayed in the past. He has a lot of potential, but DC crafted him in a way that was appealing only during his debut months, now he’s just annoying. Johns however did create a clever set of dialogue that toggled back and forth from character to character very well. The one thing I have to say about Lobo that is great (and it’s the only great thing mind you) is his unintimidating persona. But even here, confronted by yellow, green, red, and violet sources of power Lobo is thrown a little off his game. And he nailed it on the head with his comment, “Feetal’s Gizz! Ya can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone wearin’ a power ring anymore!” But with his continual push through the power of the rings, he basically showed Jordan and company that he doesn’t care. (I can only imagine what immediate thoughts popped into fellow male’s heads were when they read those two words, Feetal’s Gizz.)

I was almost ready to give up on this issue of Green Lantern until the end came along. I guess Atrocitus has a little more up his sleeve than anticipated; hiring Lobo of all people to put on a show is quite the plot thickener as he and Hal have personal vendettas against each other and would be happy to see the other die a painful death.

What can I say about Doug Mahnke that hasn’t already been said by…well…everyone? While there are times when I find his work a little childish, most of the times it’s so complex and detailed that I can’t help but be in a state of awe. He’ll never be an Ed Benes or Frank Quietly, but he’s definitely one of the best.

Now, let’s dive into the origin story of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern feline whose cult following seems to be growing ever so quickly. It’s a little corny but fun to read as it gives us a back story on the cat and allows us to sympathize with Dex-Starr and not think of him as simply a crazy kitty. It was equally interesting to learn that this is no alien cat; he grew up and was nurtured here on Earth. Very creative on the part of Geoff Johns.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
So it was a pleasant surprised to have Lobo actually ADD to the storyline rather than bring it down. I never understood why writers use Lobo since he is such a terrible character. I guess it takes the right type of writer to correctly use a villain such as Lobo in a story.

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 9
Art: 9
Overall: 9.33 out of 10

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me


Film Credits
Release Date: July 9, 2010
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
Screenwriter: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Starring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Miranda Cosgrove, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, Jemaine Clement, Julie Andrews
Genre: Animation, Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG (for rude humor and mild action)
Official Website: Despicable.me

The Dastardly Evil Plot
Imagine if you will, a beautiful neighborhood filled with colorful homes and joyful families where people live their daily lives in that typical happy Hollywood family style. Now imagine that in the middle of all this perfection is a dark, cobwebbed house with a dark cloud hanging over it and a dead lawn. This is the home of Gru, (Steve Carell) a lanky, large headed and long-nosed villain who has plans to become the greatest villain of all time by stealing the Moon. (Yes, I said the moon, crazy huh?) With the help of his minions, Gru develops a plan that will allow him to accomplish this plot which will finally boost him up on a pedestal of sheer villainy that no evil-doer will ever be able to master for years to come.
But wait, what’s this? A new villain by the name of Vector has stolen an Egyptian Pyramid and now claims the he will steal the moon and take Gru’s triumph as greatest villain of all time. Through a series of trials and tribulations, Gru attempts to put a stop to this new-comer as his whiney, teenager-ish ways. But our devilish fiend runs into three little Orphaned girls that may just increased the size of Gru’s heart and change him forever. (Oh, crap, did I just give away the entire film? Sorry!)

My Diabolically Sinister Opinion
There seems to be a huge gap between a Pixar animated film and everyone else. Every animation studio tries so hard to meet the animation and story-telling quality of Pixar but never quite gets there. Despicable Me runs into this same little problem where it doesn’t quite meet the standards that animated feature films have been trying to achieve ever since Pixar took over the world as the animation masters. While some aspects of Despicable Me are very amusing and fun to watch, my overall reaction to the film was that it tried a little too hard.

The Good
The premise of the film’s story is great; two villains go at it tooth and nail and try to become a greatest villain of all time, but are hindered by their immature and childish ways. It almost has a hint of the old Merry Melodies “Roadrunner and Coyote” cartoons, where Gru’s constant attempts at breaking an entering are foiled by Vector’s ridiculously hilarious booby traps.

Both Vector and Gru seemed compelled to be villains due to their parents. Gru’s mother always seemed to be disappointed in his ambitions which he constantly seem to dwell on, where as Vector was too oblivious too notice his father’s disapproval. It’s obvious that of the two, Gru was the more intelligent villain, but Gru’s weakness was his mother and it got in the way of everything he did. Behind that dark and gothic exterior was a tormented little boy whose developing years was met by a disapproving and unimpressed mother, (played by the famous Julie Andrews) and Gru’s way of coping with this was his villainous demeanor.

Screenwriters Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio gave the script an added bonus with the three orphan girls, Margo, Edith, and Agnes who eventually tug at the Gru’s heart strings. This orphan trio provides a witty addition to the film giving us the intelligent and more academic child, the pain in the butt child, and the “cute-as-can-be” child, all of which have lovable and despicable characteristics. But this girly trifecta teaches Gru that the desire to be famous should never overshadow the desire to love, which was something he lacked as a boy.

The plot progression was good, but the film’s highlights were the fantastic performance by Steve Carell whose talents as a voice actor are becoming more and more well known. But I was completely shocked by the fact that Russell Brand (forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bedtime Stories) voiced the slow moving assistant of Gru. I think I’ve become a fan of Brand’s potential as an actor with this film! And of course, the lone actor Pierre Coffin’s performance all the minions was absolutely brilliant.

The Bad
I understand that this is a kid’s movie and a lot of what we may like in the more adult films will not be within a family animated film such as this, but I did wonder if the movie could have given us a little less depth and a little more of the old cartoon humor.

The film’s overdose in clever one-liners and emotional draining scenes left me a little worn out. Even with my appeal to the heart tugging relationship Gru had with his mother, the bulk of the film felt a little overdone in the emotional department.

The trailers (or trailer, singular) that I had seen had led me to believe this film was going to be a truly despicable film, meaning the majority of laughter would come from Gru’s antics and “despicable” behavior. But Gru came off as more of a pathetic villain whose cleverness came out only in the first five to ten minutes. I understand the need for sentimentality and having some type of moral compass to direct the film for children, but I truly was hoping for a story that was based around Gru’s constant despicable errands that displayed within its trailer. Instead, we are presented with a sappy, moralistic sentimentality driven story that drags the film way down. I’m sure parents and kids will love it for that very reason, but not I. I guess that will teach me to have pre-conceived notions about a film’s story huh?

For reasons that I cannot explain, I felt the entire film lingered on and on with nothing to grab onto. The story had all of its formulaic components, the bad guy, the good guy, the twist, the humor, etc etc, but it didn’t seem to work as well as it could have. This probably has to do with Director’s Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin not taken full advantage of the story they were given. I wanted Gru to be much more sinister and intelligent than he was, but the writers and directors (or maybe Universal Studios decided to be dumb and make this very bad decision that pinned the movie makers in a corner) decided to go a different route that did not suit the film’s premise.

My Despicable Conclusion
With the mixture of overdone emotion and cleverness, the film came off as a failed attempt at bringing in all ages; there seemed to be a very unbalanced level of humor and emotion that did not work for me. And with this film’s rating of PG for rude humor and mild action, I was hoping for something a little more mature and fun in it’s overall content and story.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Comic Book Review: Action Comics #890

Book Information Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Pete Woods
Colored by Brad Anderson
Lettered by Rob Leigh
Cover by Finch & Steigerwald

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Is anyone else cheering for the fact that Lex Luthor is in the spotlight? I honestly wasn’t sure how DC was going to top their Nightwing and Flamebird extravaganza, but I think they nailed it on the head! With great titles such as the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six, villain headlined comics are something I wish for more of. Action Comics has now tumbled to the dark side giving Luthor the center stage. Wielding a power ring has made Luthor more power hungry than ever been before as he begins his quest to locate and harness the energy which powered the black rings. But Luthor hits a little snag when a strange band of hit men come after Luthor with a bag tricks and a slimy surprise inside.

Obsession has always been a defining feature of Lex Luthor. But more importantly, his obsession with Superman is what drives his lust for power; his desire to fly above the heads of mere humans and take over as an all powerful entity with which everyone would fear and obey has never left his thoughts since first setting foot into the DCU. Action Comics #890 reminds us of that obsession and adds the fact that he has already experienced what it’s like to be a superman. This odd combination of admiration and hatefulness that Luthor has towards Superman is such an interesting study brought to life by the incredible Paul Cornell. Luthor is so proud of himself that his pride cannot be tarnished by the common and “despicable” working man who takes it upon him or herself to put Luthor in his place. His urge to be so much like Superman does not allow him to accept the fact that he is mortal and can bleed. Cornell can write for Action Comics all he wants in my humble opinion!

I enjoyed the conversation Luthor has with cyborg Lois Lane (that I didn’t realized existed until now!) and how she was the only one who can successfully counter any idea that Luthor brought to the table. I guess it takes a robotic sex slave (which I’m sure she is) to keep Luthor humble as possible. (Which isn’t necessarily very humble right?)

Pete Woods is up and down for me; he’s a talented artist, but if he doesn’t get the right colorist, the effect doesn’t come off right. Strong pencils don’t necessarily equal great art. However, with that being said, that last page of Mister Mind ripping through the pilot’s skin was nothing short of awesome!

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
This is so much fun to read and nice to look at, nothing could have pleased me more this month than having Action Comics turn into a villain book, even if it is probably temporary. This means Superman will not inhabit this title for sometime as the headliner, which is great! Keep Superman in his own book and leave Action Comics for the other “super” characters!

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 10
Art: 9
Overall: 9.33 out of 10

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Comic Book Review: Superman #700

Book Information Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI, JAMES ROBINSON & DAN JURGENS
Art by EDDY BARROWS, BERNARD CHANG, DAN JURGENS & J.P. MAYER
Cover by GARY FRANK

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Just like Batman, #700 has finally come within the Man of Steel’s clutches. It’s hard to believe that the corny, all American “good ‘ol boy” has been able to last this long. Don’t get me wrong, I love Supes, but there are times where I wonder how the heck a character as cheesy and goody two-shoish as he was able to last in our modern society this long. Just goes to show you how much people, deep down inside, truly want someone like Superman to exist.

#700 brings us three entertaining stories all written (and drawn) by numerous people. The opener brings us the Parasite running after Lois Lane (our proverbial damsel in distress if you will) because she stuck in her nose where she shouldn’t have. I’m not even sure what the heck Parasite and Prankster were trying to do, but it didn’t truly matter did it? All that mattered was giving Lois and Clark that one true intimate moment they have been lacking for over a year. At first I thought Robinson was going to really kill it for me, but instead made this entire section worth every penny in the $4.99 price mark. I think if Lois and Clark ever leave each other, it will truly be the end of comics as we know it. Out of all the comic book couples, Lois and Clark are the icons; the only true lasting phenomenon that has rooted itself within the DC Universe that will never be pulled up. Robinson wrote the greatest reunion of these two that will never be mastered by any other writer. Not even the great Geoff Johns or Gail Simone could have done better.

Bernard Chang in addition made this section that much better. Chang has excelled so much within this last year, but this issue marks a gold medal achievement for him. His attention to detail and clean artistic approach cannot be described as anything but perfect.

With a few turns of the pages, we come to the second feature by Dan Jurgens entitled, “Geometry,” Purposefully written in the classic story telling style, Jurgens brings us a tale where Robin goes out on his own despite Batman’s (Bruce Wayne) orders to stay home. Grayson gets in trouble and it’s up to Superman to save the Boy Wonder. It’s a pleasantly funny story with very corny ending that gives me an idea of what it must have been like reading comics when my parents were kids. I was worried at first that Batman and Robin were taking over this part of the book, but luckily Jurgens made everything come together quite nicely. And the art really gave the story that much more of an edge.

The final section of this book gives the new Superman writer a chance to show us what’s in store for the Man of Steel. With his recent return, people are flowering Superman with praise and bombarding him with questions about what life was like away from Earth. Being as humble as he could, Superman still meets a hateful and unloving slap to the face by an innocent civilian who blames her husband’s death on Superman’s absence. While the crowd is bewildered and offended at this lady’s actions, Superman takes her words and actions to heart and begins walking away, dwelling on the whole situation.

Even though I find this transition into Superman #701 a little too “Forrest Gumpish,” the message behind this transition is very powerful. After all Superman has gone through this past year, the one thing that pulls at his heart strings the most is the fact that he was unable to save a man who died of a tumor. This woman who so suddenly confronted him made a foot print in his heart that may never disappear. I appreciated this approach by Mr. Straczynski even though it’s only going to lead to a long, drawn out “coming-of-age” walk across America, but I think I can bear through it. I can at least give it a chance right? Especially with Eddy Barrows helming the art!

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
In the same degree of Wonder Woman #700, Supes #700 brings an incredible amount of profound storylines to boost him into a new era of Superman stories. All we can do now is hope that Michael S. can do what James Robinson was unable to do.

Ratings
Writing: 9
Themes: 9
Art: 10
Overall: 9.33 out of 10

Friday, July 16, 2010

Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #40

Book Information
Written by Bill Willingham
Penciled by Jesus Merino
Colored by Allen Passalaqua
Inked by Jesse Delperdang & Merino
Lettered by Rob Leigh
Cover by Merino & Passalaqua

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Huh, I had kind of forgotten about the whole “Alan Scott turning evil” bit. Which is why I think JSA #40 had to wrap up like it did…or at least that’s what Bill Willingham thought he had to do. I’ve enjoyed Fatherland so much that I was certain the ending was going to be fantastic! But instead, it turned out to be something that seemed rather forced. I don’t know if Willingham’s hands were tied by the higher forces within DC Comics, or if he really wanted the conclusion of this arc to be this way. Whatever the case may be, #40, while still being a decent issue, is not a worthy addition to such a great story.

Willingham decides to enter into the inner monologue of Obsidian and turn the bulk to the issue into a narrative epilogue where he describes how the time paradox was resolved and things brought back to normal, this takes a mere four pages to accomplish. Then we go into a few moments where Obsidian faces his inner demons with Power Girl and confronts Mr. Terrific about how he knew what the 4th Reich was actually up too. A few fighting sequences here and there, but overall, very unsatisfying. I typically don’t mind it when comics use a superhero’s thoughts as a way of telling a story, but for what this story arc had become, this ending just didn’t suit it.

This is not too say that #40 wasn’t fun to read as nearly half of the book kept my attention engaged and ready. The very hilarious lie that Obsidian makes about being cured of his homosexuality could not have been timed better. And I did appreciate that Willingham did show the JSA beating the Reich and didn’t just cop out with Obsidian’s opening line “And that’s how we beat them.” But I think this issue would have been much better if, say, the team hatched Obsidian moments before the Reich’s engine had been turned on. But hey, that’s just me.

Artistically, Merino stays very consistent with what he’s been producing in this arc. His and Delperdang’s work on the cover is arguable the most impressive aspect of the whole book, even though I’m not sure I understand why the team is suddenly popping out of the Obsidian egg. But overall, the art is very good.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
Disappointing ending to an incredible story arc, but not entirely bad in and of itself. I guess that’s what happens when to try to write stories involving time travel…you can never quite wrap things up efficiently. Oh well, Thanks Willingham for writing such a cool story!

Ratings
Writing: 7.5
Themes: 6
Art: 9
Overall: 7.5 out of 10

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Comic Book Review: Gotham City Sirens #13

Book Information
Written by Tony Bedard
Penciled by Peter Nguyen & Andres Guinaldo
Colored by Tony Avina
Inked by Jack Purcell & Raul Fernandez
Lettered by Steve Wands
Cover by Guillem March

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
The strange and horrific two part horror story of Catwoman’s possessed sister is over, but Tony Bedard has left room for second coming. Last month gave us the introduction of Maggie Kyle who somehow came under the control of an angelic demon whose purpose is to exorcise Selina Kyle and remove the cat demon within her. #13 brings us the battle where Maggie goes up against her own sister and we learn how Maggie came to her insane religious state of mind.

For the most part, I enjoyed this issue, just like I enjoy most of Tony Bedard’s work. He seems to do well when hired for guest writing spots as well as writing exceptionally creepy tales. The back story of Maggie and how she became this insane, Nun-on-steroids was put together quite well and helped to explain this rather sudden change in Selina’s sister. However, I’m not entirely sure it makes sense in the end. One can assume that watching your husband be murdered in the most gruesome way could make you go completely insane, which is what I thought had happened and that Maggie was merely talking to herself and not some fallen angel. But the ending leads us to believe that Maggie was, in fact, possessed by some higher power compelling her to kill her sister. I would very much hope that Paul Dini follows up on this so we may discover the identity of this phantom demon. (Phantom demon…hmmm. Seems like an oxymoron.)

I was disappointed to not have Poison Ivy in the mix, but that isn’t the point of the story, Ivy’s just my favorite Siren is all. (Sniff sniff) But it was a lot of fun to see Harley smashing things with her hammer again! I feel like it’s been ages since she’s gone on a gavel swinging rampage.

With minor little distractions aside, what truly bugged me in this issue was the art. Last month was so amazing I had chills running up my spine. But when you have two separate pencilers and two separate inkers, you’re going to run into problems. Guillem March set such a high standard that it’s sometimes difficult to read this title without him heading the pencil work, but when you make both Harley and Catwoman looks as if they’ve come straight out of an anime cartoon, looking as if they are twelve year old girls stuck in women’s bodies, I can’t help but chuckle. Now I won’t deny that Maggie looked even creepier than in last month’s issue, so points awarded Nguyen and Guinaldo, or whoever took charge of the scary side, but the maturity in the artwork was almost non-existent. Towards the end of the book the artwork got better, but overall it is very unsatisfactory.

But the cover, drawn by the great Guillem March, is fantastically horrifying. I love how the symbology (Shout out to Boondocks Saints, woo hoo!!) of the entire scene represents the crazy state that Maggie is in; this conflict of sadness and obligation of killing Selina permeates all throughout Maggie’s face and extends into the desolate mountainous area behind her.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
Fun story with minimal confusing parts. Overall a very fun read and interesting story arc. I hope Tony Bedard is able to get his hands on more consistent work soon. But DC, please, find some better artists in the future.

Ratings
Writing: 8.5
Themes: 9
Art: 3
Overall: 6.83 out of 10

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Comic Book Review: Power Girl #12

My apologies for this exceedingly late review.  I have been in the process of moving as well as being at a week long competition.  I would have just skipped this review, but seeing as how I love Power Girl, Amanda Conner, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, I just had to review this issue. 

Book Information
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray
Penciled by Amanda Conner
Colored by Paul Mounts
Lettered by John J. Hill
Cover by Amanda Conner

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
As most reviews throughout the World Wide Web have stated, the bitter-sweetness of this 12th installment of Power Girl is so over powering that I wasn’t sure if I could read the entire issue without thinking, “damn, will Power Girl ever be the same?” The literary duos of Palmiotti and Gray, along with the artistic talents of Amanda Conner have been the driving force behind this title. I don’t think a comic book has ever been so blessed to have such a perfectly suited creative team at its helm. There wasn’t anything profound about this issue; it was nothing but pure fun and relaxation.

#12 is one big wrap-up, bringing back some characters to give Power Girl that final frustration of reliving everything she’s gone through within this last year; there’s the meeting a Terra’s parents and being introduced to a new food group, Fisher comes back to say thanks to Power Girl to help fulfill his young, hormonal state of mind, and Vartox is sent home packing. (And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve seen Power Girl that pissed off since issue #1, WOW!) And amongst all reunions, fond farewells, and the naming of her odorous feline, I couldn’t help but think that this run with the Gray, Palmiotti, and Conner team up went by WAY TOO FAST! But all good things must come to an end huh?

Let’s move on from the sad state of things and talk about the issue as a piece of literature shall we? I don’t know who takes the lead in dialogue, whether it be Palmiotti or Gray or both, but whoever it is, that person rocks! It’s some of the more intelligent and clever set of dialogue that I’ve seen, but this issue really goes above and beyond. The banter between Vartox and PeeGee is very humorous, as is the awkward conversation between her and Fisher. But more than ever, Power Girl’s ability to befriend so many strangers is quite impressive. She is as much of a genuine and loving super heroine that Wonder Woman is…PeeGee is just a tad bit more feisty is all. Even her pet cat (officially named Stinky) she seems to love and hate at the same time, but still gives everything she can to it.

Artistically, I think you all know what I’m going to say, this issue is flawless. Amanda Conner didn’t hold anything back for this last issue, especially when it came to showing off jus how much of a sex icon Power Girl is. It’s even funnier because Power Girl tries with all her might not to portray that image, yet events keep coming up that force her breasts to the center stage. But other than making PeeGee a sex goddess (much more so than Vartox I might add) Conner’s ability in giving every character wonderfully emotional expressions and her use of definitive lines is what I adore the most. Yes the coloring is great, Paul Mounts knows what he is doing, and the layout is amazing, but Amanda Conner just knows how to draw!

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
And there we have it! The founding Power Girl creative team is done. Next issue, DC brings to you Judd Winick on writing, and Sami Basri on art. I like Judd, but boy is it going to be hard to transition.

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 10 out of 10
With 1 incentive point

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Comic Book Review: The Flash #3

Book Information
Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by Francis Manapul
Colored by Brian Buccellato
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Manapul & Buccellato

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Isn’t it nice when you buy a comic, sit down, open it up, and you’ve read over ten pages without running into a single advertisement? I haven’t gone back to look but I believe it’s over ten pages before the first advertisement punches me in the face! It’s one of the more satisfying revelations that I can have in my comic reading experiences.

Aside from that very joyous aspect of Flash #3, the bulk of this issue continues the mystery of Flash outrunning the futuristic time cops who have an apparent legal right to arrest someone for committing a murder that has not happened yet. #3 also begins the connection between Digger Harkness and the Brightest Day/Blackest Night fiasco. Reestablishing a hero is not an easy thing to do, which is why Geoff Johns is such a gold mine for DC Comics; he has the ability at making a hero’s purpose meaningful and mysterious.

Flash #3 doesn’t really give us anything new to further the story along. There is a brief mentioning that if the time cops take Iris, the whole ordeal would be finished. But it’s merely icing on this mysterious cake that doesn’t extend further than what you see on paper. You could almost say #3 is a complete rehashing of last month’s “Flash” installment; time cops come for Barry, he and Iris meet for coffee, Barry gets into a verbal tussle with his coworker, it all has a familiar taste to it. This issue’s main concern was bringing in Captain Boomerang and showing off his new supernatural ability which is a result of what happened during Blackest Night. It’s quite interesting to think about, out of all the villains to choose from, Captain Boomerang is the one at focus here. It’s not a bad thing by any means, just interesting.

The story and themes themselves, like I stated above, doesn’t do much as far as pushing forward with this story arc. However, Johns seems to be more concerned with establishing Barry Allen since he’s been gone for so long. Barry still has a knack for using his connection to the Speed Force very intelligently and doesn’t just “run away” from his enemies. However, I do hope next month we get a better picture about why the Renegades are after Flash. Who does Flash kill? I have my suspicions, but I’ll leave that to myself for right now. I just hope Iris is kept safe!

I’m becoming a big fan of artists whose artistic style doesn’t resemble the typical style you find in comics these days. You got Jim Lee, Ed Benes, Tony Daniel, Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke, etc., and they’re all GREAT, but their styles are quite similar. When you compare them to Amanda Conner, Frank Quietly, and Francis Manapul, the styles are just so different that, from an artist’s perspective, it quite artistically rejuvenating. Manapul definitely has a style that I constantly go back to after reading an issue merely to gaze upon his work. The best way to describe it is rough and smooth, all at the same time. But credit is also due to his colorist, Buccellato, whose painted look brings out the artistry even more.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
Nothing profound or enduring, it’s just a lot of fun and engaging to read. I wonder when we’ll find out who Flash is supposedly going to murder.

Ratings
Writing: 9
Themes: 8
Art: 10
Overall: 9 out of 10

Monday, July 12, 2010

Comic Book Review: Wonder Woman #600

Book Information
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI, GEOFF JOHNS, GAIL SIMONE & others
Art By GEORGE PÉREZ, PHIL JIMENEZ, JOE MADUREIRA & others
Cover by GEORGE PEREZ

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
So having a subscription to a title has one very positive aspect…it’s a hell of a lot cheaper! And even though price differentiation will always be a deciding factor for me, having a subscription truly can hurt you as a comic book enthusiast. First off, you can get way out of the loop since subscriptions come to you two weeks AFTER they are released in the comic book stores. So I run into problems because my reviews on the two week old titles are pretty much, to quote my fashion crazed middle school girls, “So two weeks ago.” However, I do have an opportunity to lay my opinions down since the whole “new costume” and “lost heritage” debates are still in full force amongst internet fanboys and fangirls. But one question I do believe Wonder Woman fans are forgetting to ask themselves is this, “What is issue #600 trying to do?”

Firstly, let’s take a look at the shout outs and how this Wonder Woman installment brings us through an artistic and literary history lesson that reminds us of why Wonder Woman is the greatest female icon in comics. The team-up of Writer Gail Simone and George Perez was a stroke of genius! Perez has that wonderful silver age touch that makes me feel like I was reading the dusty old comics my mom kept around from her childhood. (Nostalgia at its best I tell you!) But to add that personal human side to this beginning story that Gail Simone always brings to everything she writes was nothing more than perfection. I already knew this issue was going to be ranked up there as one of the best for the month.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we are given that comedic and light hearted appeal that Amanda Conner brought to the pages of Power Girl for a whole year. I was absolutely thrilled to see her both writing and drawing five pages of #600. I wanted it to continue since Amanda Conner’s art is one of my favorites. But she had already moved on from Power Girl, and I was able to put myself at peace with that, so I had tell myself to be joyful that I got one last glimpse of Conner’s work with my two favorite DC women.

The third part of this story wasn’t as great as the previous ones, but still fun to read. The art was very complex as was the story, but it felt comedic, which in turn felt a little out of place with the context of the story. Leave that to Amanda Conner please, it’s what she’s good at. But other than that, I still got a major kick out of it.

Now what I’m sure all of you are wondering about the most are my thoughts on the new approach to Wonder Woman; she has a new costume, new demeanor, and no memory of her past. And to be honest, after finishing this section of the book, I wasn’t completely sure I liked the idea either. But then again, I have to refer to that question I posed above, what is #600 trying to do? When they changed Superman’s look to a more electrifying stature a few years ago, fans had an uproar; hate mail was sent in and the online discussion forums were completely filled with rambles of dislike and disapproval. That was a time I will never forget. But what was DC trying to do? It’s like Coca-cola. They create a new taste in their soda, everyone hates it, then as time rolls by, they bring back Coca-Cola classic, and made a crap ton of money by doing so. The same applied with Superman; make him less desirable, and fans will crave for what once was to come back. And when Supes returned in his red, blue and yellow spandex, he was even more popular than before.

What the difference here is, Wonder Woman is being given a costume change that resembles that of when she lost her Wonder Woman status back almost a decade ago and the costume most are familiar with. When she lost her status as Wonder Woman, she had lost part of her identity and was fighting through that. In this issue, she is still Wonder Woman, but has forgotten where she came from. The new costume concoction represents two different realities, one of recognizability, and one of loss. Geoff Johns is attempting something new to help boost Wonder Woman into a new era, (which he seems to excel at) one where we can still hold on to what made her great but still get that fresh new start.

That entire last section was very well written and I’m in full support of what this could mean for the Amazon Princess. Geoff Johns is no dumby, let him work his magic and see where it ends up. I suspect after about twelve issues, things might go back to the way we are used too, but don’t think for a second that Wonder Woman is not in for some major future changes. This introduction to the new Wonder Woman era gives us a hint that things could go back to they way they used to be, but as the phantom narrator says, “Diana is far too undervalued by this world. This must change.” Is it possible that DC is trying to give Wonder Woman that respect she is so deserving of? What lies ahead for Wonder Woman in this new interpretive approach? I can’t wait to find out!

In addition, I number of great pin-ups are dispersed throughout this issue, all of which are great. My favorite? The two paged spread by Phil Jimenez. Just go buy this issue, you’ll all love it.

My Profoundly Climactic Conclusion
What can I say? This issue was filled with greatness. I’m usually not a fan of artist toggling, but this worked perfectly since no one story was connected to the other. It is one big homage to a great heroine who’s been an inspiration to human kind for generations. Let’s hope the new era can continue that greatness. I am going to put this down in my “most treasured comics of my life time” bin, which means I’ll need to but a second one.

Ratings
Writing: 10
Themes: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 10 out of 10
With 2 incentive points.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Movie Information
Release Date: June 18, 2010 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Disney•Pixar
Director: Lee Unkrich
Screenwriter: Michael Arndt
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, R. Lee Ermey, Jodi Benson, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Schaal, Blake Clark
Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family
MPAA Rating: G
Official Website: Disney.com/ToyStory

My Wonderfully Majestic Opinion
Pixar is without a doubt one of the most influential animation studios in America that is quickly shooting upwards as being the greatest provider of animated family films of all time. It has produced some of the most loved full length animated films to date such as Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Up! But as we all know, the foundational rock that Pixar sits upon are the lovable tales within the Toy Story franchise; with easily relatable characters such as the rip roaring cowboy Woody, the fearless Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, The cowardly dinosaur Rex, the cynically hilarious spud Mr. Potato Head, and many others, this entire set was destined to be logged into the animation history books as one of the best. But what has changed since Pixar’s first full length animated feature film which debuted almost 15 years ago? Certainly with the premise that comes along with Toy Story, Pixar can only take it so far, right? The first film dove into the friendship of Woody and Buzz, and the second film gave us an enormous history lesson about Woody’s popular years, where else could a third film go?

As John Lasseter said when describing the world of toys, "when you're broken, you can be fixed; when you're lost, you can be found; when you're stolen you can be recovered. But there's no way to fix being outgrown by the child." Just like Up!, Toy Story 3 dives into more mature and thought provoking ideas that challenge our pre-conceived notions of holding on to something that means the world to us. It is the ultimate coming-of-age story where both sides must make selfless decisions in order to move on towards a brighter future.

The story begins showing Andy all grown up and neglecting his toys due to the changes that have occurred in his life outside of the home. As the toys continually produce failing results in bringing the 17 year old Andy back to them, they finally decide to look towards spending the rest of their lives as relics, unwanted by their owner. Through a series of mistakes, the toys end up in a day care center called “Sunny Side” where they befriend a very old toy by the name of Latso. (Short for Lots-o-Huggin Bear.) Much to the dismay of Woody who wishes for nothing more to get back to Andy’s house, the newly inducted toys decide they want to stay and forever be there for children and never be disregarded again. They soon discover that Sunny Side isn’t as bright and chipper as it’s made out to be, and that Latso has more up his pink, cottony sleeve than originally believed. It is, of course, up to the fearless Woody to save his friends and return to Andy before he leaves for college.

Sequels are a risky business. I wonder how many sequels have fallen flat on their face in comparison to those that have made it big. The result would probably not surprise you. This is the one of many true marks of a great film making company, to be able to produce sequels that are just as good or better than its predecessor is an achievement not too many film studios can revel in. Amongst the extreme thrills and jeopardizing moments that run amuck in this film, we are also given some of the most heart clenching moments I’ve seen in any of Pixar’s movies. While it may not equal the utter depressive state that Up! showed us, I do believe that this third installment of Toy Story to be the saddest one yet. Happiness will always come along with any Toy Story movie, but with number three, the happiness comes with a bitter-sweet sensation.

Pixar is the master at making inanimate objects seem real to us and allowing us to relate to the toys just as much as with a real person. The greatest challenge these toys could ever deal with is the fact that kids grow up, and how they deal with that and the others changes that surround them are at the heart of this film. This even transcends into Andy’s life, dealing with going to college, leaving home, deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, and deciding what to give up is all very overwhelming. As the film illustrates with Latso, some people have a lot of difficulty dealing with those changes and take their aggression out on the world because of it. Toy Story 3 asks us a very important question…How do we handle change and the fact that we must sometimes give up the things that we love? In that final scene where Andy gives his toys up to Bonnie, (whose cuteness is almost to the level of Boo from Monster Inc.) inside I felt completely torn up and stressed out over how hard this must have been for poor Andy! My lovely wife told me afterwards that she cried just as much during this scene as she did during that opening sequence in Up! But this needed to happen. Andy was finally able to move on as were the toys. Both sides were able to say goodbye to each other and give each other up. The story with Andy is over, and I couldn’t have asked for a more heart felt fond farewell than the one Pixar presented us.

But even with this wonderfully caring and heart warming story, there did trail along with it some rather annoying aspects that I wish had been scraped in the pre-production process. Even with being a very nostalgic person, I find that too much nostalgia can become long and drawn out. However, what I felt to be a little too cumbersome in this film was the humor. I understand the humor in having Ken model his clothing for Barbie, but I personally felt it to be out of place and unnecessary. Likewise, the Spanish mode of Buzz Lightyear might be the worst comedic decision that Pixar has ever come up with. I suspect this might have been an inside joke within the Toy Story 3 creative team that eventually became a reality. All in all, these two small annoyances truly can’t overshadow the shear genius of Mr. Potato Head’s incredibly hilarious ability to possess different types of foods!

The casting was great, as expected. Blake Clarke was the perfect choice as the replacement to the famous Jim Varney for the voice of Slinky Dog—I could only slightly tell the difference. But I’m fully convinced that Michael Keaton might be one of the greatest voice actors in history with his absolutely incredible performance as Ken. But the biggest surprise I had was when I discovered that Timothy Dalton voiced the very minor character, Mr. Prickle Pants!

My Awe-Struck Conclusion
I certainly hope that this third Toy Story film is the last. I’ve certainly enjoyed the ride very much being within the first generation of children that got to experience Toy Story when it first came to theaters. But the tale is done and no more are needed. I hope we can leave Andy just as he left his Toys. We all love him, but it is time to let go.

Rating 10 out of 10 Stars