Saving The World One Fan At A Time

Reviews

Hulk vs. Thor VS Hulk vs. Wolverine

Back in the day when I first started branching out from reading Spider-Man comics, I was drawn in by a little limited series called the Inifinity Gauntlet.  I was fascinated by everyday heroes fighting against and amongst cosmic beings.  The thought of Captain America making a stand against somebody like Thanos was awesome and awe-inspiring.  Now that you know my cosmic leanings, you may have guessed which of the two “movies” on this disc that I preferred.

While Thor clocks in as the longer movie of the two, it is totally worth it and makes quite the smashing punch.  I’m not well versed in all the relationships in the Thor corner of the Marvel-verse, but I didn’t feel at a loss as it was easy to pick up on what was happening and who was involved with who, etc.  It was amazing to think about how once Bruce Banner was removed from the psyche of Hulk that he might truly have no upper limits to his strength, endurance, and mindlessness for destruction.  If Hulk can (Spoiler Alert!) beat the tar out of Thor and take out pretty much everybody in Asgard, how would the writers resolve this plot!  Very well and by thinking about the Hulk’s Achilles Heel, that’s how.  I am a big fan of cosmic/god-like characters with great action and Hulk vs. Thor delivered.

On the other hand, we have a more down-to-Earth “Hulk” story.  I put Hulk in quotation marks because this story seems to focus more on Wolverine and his encounter with the Weapon X project with the Hulk thrown into the mix to stir up the pot.  Now I love seeing Lady Deathstrike torn apart as much as the next guy, but I can’t be the only one who found the one scene with her and Hulk screaming at each other pretty funny, right?  I appreciated seeing Deadpool getting his ass handed to him…even though he’s funny, it’s good to see him get a good pounding every now and then.

Overall, I like seeing the Hulk in vs. Wolverine, although it definitely felt like he was an ingredient and not the main course as he was in vs. Thor.  I give the Thor segment 4 stars out of 5 and the Wolverine one 3 stars.  May the Hulk continue to smash for many years to come.

Posted by Jonathan - March 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm

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The planet’s not called Hulk, but the movie title is…called Planet Hulk

I grew up loving Spider-Man.  (A weird way to start a review of Planet Hulk, but go with me here).  I started with issue 248 way back in the day and my mom purchased it for me at a local drug store.  She said to go over to the spinny rack and pick one out.  Sweet!  My 8-year old eyes perused the racks and I had narrowed it down to the one with a bad guy looming over Spider-Man and one with a big green monster on the cover.  I chose the webhead because the other one frightened me too much.  Yikes!

I don’t have that same fear of the Hulk now that I did then, however, so I was able to really enjoy Planet Hulk.   And this one was a great movie.  It had an emotional core with the Hulk and Caiera and great fighting scenes in the gladiator-style arena.  You can’t beat the ones in the beginning where the Hulk is just trying to get out and doesn’t play well with others, but when he joins the fight, it’s over pretty quick!  Hulk does indeed smash.

One of the scenes that has stayed with me weeks after I have watched the movie and is the most heart-wrenching is when Caiera attempts to save a little girl from the second invasion of the spore-things.  Truly sad and gives this film weight and makes it not merely a superhero movie, but a film with depth that will have you rooting for the Hulk and enjoying the beauty that is this movie.

Posted by Jonathan - March 18, 2010 at 3:55 pm

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Lego superheroes on Flickr – why didn’t they have these when I was a kid?

I found this via SciFi Wire and they are too cool.  However, I think that the box of random Legos that I have at home are at least 4 generations before the came up with non-square and non-rectangle Legos.  Has Lego technology really changed that much since the 80s when I thought it was too cool that I got a set of Legos that became an airplane when I went through the 30 steps?  Yes, yes they have.  Now you can put together the Batmobile in 15 and have Doc Ock’s arms twist in all directions as he chases after Aunt May.  True love!

Enjoy the link here.

Posted by Jonathan - March 18, 2010 at 8:24 am

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Green Lantern in 3-D…sweet. I’d wear those glasses again.

Saw this on Sci-Fi Wire.  I guess 3-D is the new “talkie?”  It’s going to be cropping up everywhere.  I’m not sure if Green Lantern is popular enough and this extra feature will bring in more people, but it certainly will help the bottom line of this movie and superhero movies in general.  A good thing.

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If you always wanted to see Green Lantern on the big screen in 3-D instead of that boring old 2-D (’cause we all know how yawn-inducing that would be), you’re in luck, and you can thank Avatar for that, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Warner Brothers has decided to add an extra dimension to DC’s superhero, apparently inspired by all the big bucks Fox pulled in with the James Cameron blockbuster. The studio had already announced plans to convert both Clash of the Titans and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One to 3-D releases.

Warners also announced that Zach Snyder’s action fantasy Punch, set to hit theaters on March 25, 2011, will also make the leap from 2-D to 3-D.

Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds, is set to premiere on June 17, 2011.

Posted by Jonathan - March 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

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[Knock, knock, knock] Stan Lee? [Knock, knock, knock] Stan Lee? [Knock, knock, knock] Stan Lee?

I would consider myself a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to The Big Bang Theory. I caught reruns between seasons two and three and was endeared by the characters, enjoyed the sitcom, punchline timing, and was curious how they could get away with physics humor in prime time. But I was most enthralled with the trips to the local comic book store…especially on new comic book day (which we all know is Tuesday). This last episode of TBBT was a love letter to all fans of Marvel comics, of which I most heartily count myself.

No episode of a TV show or movie starring a Marvel character or featuring a comic book plot is complete without the mandatory Stan Lee cameo. Whether it’s Stan Lee pulling a kid to safety in Spider-Man or being a playboy in Iron Man, he pops ala Steven King.

This episode’s A-plot centered on Stan Lee’s visit to the comic book store. I enjoyed their excitement and the scene where they were flipping through their collections to decide what they would have him sign. Leonard had a tough choice between the first appearance of Dr. Doom or Thor (he definitely should have chosen Thor) for Stan Lee to autograph. But a Batman comic?? That would have been awesome.

This series does a good job of not patronizing nerds/geeks, but making comedy where we are in our element and know the references without being too obscure. Raj’s jokes about Marvel characters’ alliteration names is very true. Poor JJJ. I enjoyed every minute they were in the comic book store as it is a place ripe for good-natured humor and one that all us comic book fans know well.

For the denouement, my wife called it. She didn’t even know who Stan Lee was, but knew that Sheldon would have a signed restraining order that he would frame. Brilliant! She definitely deserves a No-Prize.

-Jonathan

Posted by Jonathan - March 2, 2010 at 8:58 pm

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Comics pick of the week: Gutsville #2

One of the many things I love about the world of comic books is its acceptance, both as a publishing industry and a reading audience, of bizarre ideas.  This remark may sound strange in reference to an entertainment medium so completely dominated to a single genre, but even within the superhero genre comic book publishers have shown much more willingness to explore unusual themes and ideas, from Alan Moore’s thought-provoking reworking of Swamp Thing to Walter Simonson’s “Frog of Thunder” story in Thor, which saw Marvel’s God of Thunder transformed into a frog for three issues.

Which brings us to Gutsville, a story with a setting so bizarre you will only find it in a comic book.

Gutsville issue 2 coverThe premise of Gutsville is that in 1850 the SS Daphne, a British ship bound for Australia, is swallowed whole by a giant sea monster.  But instead of being digested, the crew and passengers survive and build a permanent settlement in the beast’s stomach, surviving by fishing for salvage every time the monster swallows.  The story opens 157 years later, with the descendents of the Daphne‘s original survivors led by a religious sect who believe they must purify their spirits before they will be allowed to return to “the dryplaces of the Earth.”  The main character is Albert Oliphant, who has just inherited his recently deceased father’s job of catching the giant mutant rats that prowl the fleshy passageways of Gutsville. The plot thickens when Albert finds that his father has drawn a detailed map of the maze of passageways, which may just show a way out of the beast.

This entirely original set-up is accompanied by some sharp writing and an intricate plot by British novelist Simon Spurrier, and gorgeous, atmospheric painted artwork by Frazer Irving.  It is set to be a six issue limited series, but with a setting this rich and complex that hardly seems like enough issues to do the idea justice.  It seems like there is a lot of Gutsville to explore, so here’s hoping Albert won’t find his way out too soon…

Posted by Jefferson - September 21, 2007 at 2:55 pm

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Comics Pick of the Week: Hellblazer #234

John Constantine began life as a supporting character in Alan Moore’s successful and groundbreaking run on Swamp Thing.  The story goes that Moore created the character at the behest of the book’s artists, who wanted to draw a character that looked like the musician Sting.  Constantine was envisioned as a streetwise master of magic, foregoing the wooden dialogue and cheesy mysticism of Marvel’s Dr. Strange in favor of a much more contemporary, urban sensibility.  The character proved so popular that DC soon spun him off into his own series, Hellblazer, which became one of the founding titles of the progressive Vertigo line (along with Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and Doom Patrol) and is the only one to have enjoyed an uninterrupted publishing run to this day.

Hellblazer 234The series’ longevity is likely a result of the strong personality of its main character and his ability to consistently attract some of the top talent in comics, including writers Jamie Delano, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Eddie Campbell, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis and Brian Azzarello, and artists John Ridgeway, Dave McKean, Sean Phillips and Steve Dillon, among others.  Each creative team has brought their own unique viewpoint to the character, but Constantine has remained consistent in his characterization throughout the 19-year run of the title.

The current issue begins writer Andy Diggle’s second story arc, and it sees a return to the dark urban horror of the Jamie Delano years.  Diggle’s bleak script follows a fairly standard formula for Hellblazer stories, but is no less effective for it:  an already horrific situation is made only slightly worse through demonic interference as a group of teenaged hooligans begin a destructive rampage at the behest of the supernatural entity that is controlling their leader.  Constantine arrives halfway through the story and, sensing that something is amiss, decides to investigate.  Diggle has a good handle on Constantine’s character, which is of course the most important element of any Hellblazer story.  The dark artwork by Leonardo Manco and especially the muted color palette used by colorist Lee Loughridge complement the writing nicely and give the story the atmosphere of urban decay that always sets Hellblazer apart from DC’s other supernatural fantasy titles.

As the first part of a new story this is as good an issue as any for new readers.  For a book with such a long history, Hellblazer has acquired little in the way of continuity baggage and is an easy series to jump into.  And it is always a satisfying read.

Posted by Jefferson - July 25, 2007 at 3:01 pm

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This week’s comics pick: Justice League of America #11

This week’s pick: Justice League of America #11, written by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Gene Ha, lettering by Rob Leigh and color by Art Lyon.

 So far, the current Justice League of America series has been characterized by huge, epic storylines featuring a lot of different characters, so it was nice to see a stand-alone single issue story.  The story is a simple character piece featuring only two characters and one setting across all 22 pages, a welcome change of pace from the previous JLA storylines, which have featured long, convoluted plots and a ridiculous number of guest stars.

The story finds Red Arrow (formerly Arsenal) and Vixen trapped in a collapsed building.  The action and conflict in the story are entirely psychological, as the two characters take turns doubting their abilities in the face of what seems like a hopeless situation.  We get to see a glimpse into the minds and motivations of both characters, but primarily of Red Arrow, Green Arrow’s former sidekick who has no super powers of his own but nevertheless chooses to fight alongside the more powerful members of the League. Over the course of the story we also discover a point of continuity concerning Vixen’s malfunctioning powers (she can channel the abilities of any animal) which will no doubt lead to a future storyline.

The gritty, painted artwork by guest artist Gene Ha goes with the story perfectly, and his use of narrow horizontal panels really serves to convey the claustrophobic atmosphere.

All in all this issue was a sharp contrast to what the Justice League of America has been so far, but with so many large stories about epic events, it is that much more important to have an occasional small story about something as simple as why a man fights day after day to be a hero, and how being a hero is sometimes just the ability to keep fighting even when the situation seems hopeless.

Posted by Jefferson - July 19, 2007 at 9:16 am

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This week’s comics pick: Countdown #42

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a weekly review of my top pick of the week’s new comic releases.  This week’s pick is Countdown #42, written by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever and Tony Bedard, pencils by Carlos Magno, inks by Mark McKenna and Jay Leisten, color by Rod Reis.

Countdown 42 cover artFor those of you who don’t follow DC Comics, Countdown is the follow up to 52, last year’s hugely successful weekly series about a year without Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.  I didn’t read 52 as it was being released, largely because it was introduced as the follow up to Infinite Crisis, an “event” miniseries which I fould so tedious that I stopped reading after a few issues.  But when I heard that Paul Dini, one of the masterminds behind Batman the Animated Series, was the head writer on Countdown, I decided to give it a try.

Countdown is a weekly series with backwards numbering (counting down, get it?), so issue 42 is actually the 10th issue in the 52 issue series.  The series jumps back and forth between multiple plot lines concerning Jimmy Olsen, Donna Troy (formerly Wonder Girl), Jason Todd (formerly Robin, the one that died), Mary Marvel (the sister of Shazam’s Captain Marvel, with similar powers of flight, invulnerability and super strength), Karate Kid from the Legion of Superheroes, the Trickster, and others.  So far there is little linking the various plots together, but the hope is that the gradual unfolding and linking of these seemingly unconnected events will be the point of the series as a whole.

Issue 42 distinguishes itself mainly by introducing what is probably the most unlikely superhero team up ever: Mary Marvel and the Riddler.  In recent issues of Detective Comics the Riddler has supposedly reformed and now uses his considerable criminal experience as a freelance detective and security consultant.  Of course, no one seriously believes that he’s reformed, certainly not Captain Marvel’s sister, but nevertheless the two enter into an useasy alliance to track down Clayface.  Hopefully it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The rest of the issue moves forward plotlines concerning Jimmy Olsen discovering that he might have super powers, Jason Todd and Donna Troy’s search for Ray Palmer, the original Atom, Batman’s macho feud with Karate Kid (the kid beat him in a fight and his ego really can’t take it), the Trickster’s apparent remorse over  his part in the death of Bart Allen (formerly Impulse and until his sudden demise the current Flash), and, most interestingly, former Joker sidekick Harley Quinn’s new job as assistant director of an Amazon-themed women’s shelter.

So far, Countdown has been an intriguing look at the ins and outs of the DC Universe, seen through the eyes of some of its lesser known characters, and the themes of redemption and change are ones not often seen in comics, especially at DC where most of the major characters have remained relatively unchanged for 60 years or more.  It will be interesting to see what permanent effects the events in Countdown end up having on the DC Universe as a whole.

Posted by Jefferson - July 13, 2007 at 9:12 am

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