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Casual Saturdays: Why You Should Read the Ender’s Game Comic Book October 4, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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First off, the details: Ender’s Game is one of the most beloved science-fiction novels of our time. Written by Orson Scott Card and first published as a novel in 1985, Ender’s Game tells the story of a future in which we have been attacked by an alien race known as the Formics (often called “Buggers” for their insect-like appearance). While we defeated the first wave of their ships, the leaders of Earth knew that they would return in decades with a full attack force. So, they have begun to take the brightest children on Earth, and train them in a Battle School. Ender is one of these children, and perhaps the brightest of them all, but can he find a way to stop the Buggers, when no one else has? Ender’s Game: Battle School will be a comic book mini-series from Marvel Comics. Issue #1 goes on sale on Wednesday October 8th. Sellouts may occur, so you may want to pick up your copy soon. To find a comic book store need you, call 1-888-COMICBOOK

For those who’ve read the novel, but don’t normally read comics: If you’ve read the novel, I’m assuming you’ve liked it. (And if you didn’t, there’s something wrong with you.) Surely you’ve heard that an Ender’s Game movie is in the works, but currently, not too much is occurring, because filmmakers are having a hard time transitioning it from book to movie. Since comics are essentially half-way in between books and movies, a successful comic book could show Hollywood that Ender’s Game can indeed be translated to the visual medium. So, if nothing else, reading the comic may be supporting the development of the movie.

Of course, that is not the only nor the best reason to read the comic book. The primary reason, is simply that it will be an adaptation of one of sci-fi’s best novels. If you would go to see the Ender’s Game movie, why wouldn’t you read the comic book? Like a movie, the comic will help bring the novel to life by adding visuals and “sound effects.” Of course, you may also be persuaded to read it from the praise that Orson Scott Card (who is not writing the comic) has given it here.

For those who read comics, but haven’t read the novel: first off, shame on you! You consider yourself a sci-fi fan, and you haven’t read Ender’s Game? Well, here’s your chance to find out why this book is so highly regarded. If you’re like me when it comes to comics, and usually enjoy traditional superhero tales best, you’ll be glad to learn that there is much to appreciate in the story of Ender’s Game. No, there aren’t any characters in capes and tights running around trying to stop a super-villain from destroying the city, but many similar elements can be found.

Ender is an outcast amongst his peers, and doesn’t really want to participate in “saving the world,” he just wants to grow up like a normal kid. He lives in a future where the Earth was devastated by Formic attacks, and all the world has been united in preparing to defeat the Formics when they return. In Battle School, he overcomes great odds to quickly rise as one of the best students. And for those who enjoy a little “secret identity” intrigue, there is the Earth-side story (assuming they keep this plot thread in the comic) of “Locke and Demosthenes” and how they use their “abilities” to help change the world.

For those who’ve read the novel and read comics: If you aren’t already planning on reading this, you need to take a moment right now and ask yourself why.

-LOTRKing

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Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand… September 27, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff.
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Wow, three months goes by fast! Let’s once again take a look at where things stand in the Marvel Universe.

Secret Invasion – It’s rapidly approaching its end, and six issues, three big Skrull reveals, and countless tie-ins later, it is a great story, while at the same time being a little unsatisfying. For the most part, I have enjoyed the goings-on in the main series, but many of the tie-ins have been disappointing. While this has almost as many tie-ins as Civil War did, Civil War was much better at being able to carry the story of each particular character or group of characters coping with the SHRA. In this case, most tie-ins simply feature a character or group of characters participating in an issues-long brawl with the Skrulls. As epic as this story has been, I will be happy when it is over.

Fantastic Four – I’ve loved Millar’s take on the FF, even if it is a little slow at times, but it seems that many do not share my enthusiasm. Sure, his take on the individual members may not be completely orthodox, but this departure from the norm has been what has made most of it fun. So while I’ll enjoy his sixteen issue run, I wouldn’t want him to take the helm for the next several years. (And I do hope they find someone great to do so, FF really does need a shot in the arm that will carry it forward.) In the meantime, regardless whether or not you are a fan of Millar’s handling of the team, you should definitely check out the Fantastic Four: True Story mini-series that is going on. The story might be slightly absurd, but I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve reviewed the first two issues of it at WCBR here and here, and I’ll soon post the link here to my review of the third.

Silver Surfer – We haven’t seen hide nor hair (that is, if he had hair) of him since Nova 15, and as far as I know, it looks to stay that way. I really wish Marvel would do another mini. 😦 (Or, heck, even an ongoing!) But, with the “War of Kings” that’s supposed to tear through Marvel’s cosmic line next year, maybe they’ll find a place to tell a story about good old Norrin. Until then, I plan to write a review of one of my favorite Surfer tales, Silver Surfer: Requiem for WCBR sometime this week, and I’ll post a link here when it is available.

Amazing Spider-Man – It sure has come a long way from the atrocious One More Day fiasco. New Ways to Die has been every bit the fantastic story we were promised it would be and while I’m still upset with the dissolution of the marriage, I won’t lie that I’m looking forward to what the “Braintrust” will bring us next. Especially the courtroom story hinted at in the “Extra!” one shot a while back. Also, the first issue of ASM Family was decent, and I was disappointed at first when it sounded as though they wouldn’t be including further “Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man” stories, but the solicits for future issues makes it appear they will. Expect reactions to issue two in two weeks.

New Avengers – This title is severely lacking from its title characters, namely the Avengers. I’ve not hidden my dislike for the fact that Bendis is using these two books he’s in charge of to write Secret Invasion back-up tales (some of which haven’t even been that important) despite the fact that they rarely involve the Avengers. I really wish he’d done a Secret Invasion: Origins mini-series for these stories, or something of the like, and just given us more Avengers adventures. Though I won’t lie, rumors running around of the possible upcoming fourth Avengers ongoing (Dark Avengers) has me excited.

Mighty Avengers – See above.

Avengers: The Initiative – Where its two “Avengers brethren” have suffered from “Secret Invasion overdose,” Avengers: The Initiative has flourished. Dan Slott and Christos Gage continue to put out spectacular, character driven stories proving that you can pull characters from the “nobody’s ever heard of these random Marvel superheroes” list, and still have one of the best comic books on the market. Yes, I still miss Cloud 9, my favorite character to come out of this series, but team Slott and Gage haven’t steered us wrong yet, and I’m sure we’ll see her before too long.

Captain America – With Ed Brubaker’s long awaited conclusion to the “Death of the Dream” “mega-arc” that came out this week, Brubaker proves that he can leave you satisfied and begging for more at the same time. With almost complete resolution on the good guy side of the equation, and almost none on the bad guy side, Brubaker has made me a permanent fan of Captain America. Don’t expect to see this series leaving my must-read list anytime soon.

Thor – This, in my opinion, is still probably the best comic book series on the market. J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel continue to give us this slow-churning epic infused with humor and suspense. What is Loki’s true plan? What does it have to do with Dr. Doom? How does she intend to gain the allegiance of Balder, one of Thor’s longest friends? How will her actions affect Midgard? When JMS’ run on Thor is finally over (which I hope never happens), this will likely be one of my favorite graphic format stories told. (This honor currently belongs to Bone by Jeff Smith, and yes, I have read Watchmen, I still think Bone is better.)

Invincible Iron Man – One year ago, I never would have guessed that I’d be reading an Iron Man series. I loathed him for his actions during Civil War and, along with many fans and much of the actual Marvel Universe, blamed him for Captain America’s death. My appreciation for him, unknowingly, actually began when I started reading Avengers: The Initiative. As I began to see more and more the benefits of the SHRA, I began to understand Tony’s actions. I didn’t necessarily like him, but I no longer hated him. Then, of course, the Iron Man movie came out. I was completely blown away. I needed more Tony Stark, and I needed it IMMEDIATELY. Luckily, Marvel was wise enough to start a new Invincible Iron Man ongoing series just days after the release of the movie. And, luckier still, the series has maintained much of the flavor of the movie. IIM has become one of my favorite monthly reads, and one that I recommend to everyone I talk to who loved the movie (especially non-comic book readers, what better way to introduce them to the medium?)

Uncanny X-Men – With the authors of the already legendary Captain America series and the breakaway Invincible Iron Man ongoing at the helm of the world’s best selling super-team, this should have been an easy success. Unfortunately, something has gone wrong. Ever since Messiah Complex, Uncanny has taken a turn for the mediocre. Luckily, it had the beautiful artwork of Mike Choi to make us survive through the awful hippie story. Now we’re just getting an ever-increasing focus on the ever-increasingly annoying character Pixie, as rendered by the horrible artist Greg Land. I don’t know what needs to happen to fix this title, but Brubaker and Fraction but figure it out fast. (And firing Greg Land from the comic book medium would be a good start, especially when he pulls off crap like this.)

Astonishing X-Men – Who’d’ve guessed that this series would still be plagued with delays after the departure of Whedon and Cassaday? I dunno, but with the upcoming Ender’s Game comic book adaptation (discussed below), I’ve decided to drop this in favor of that. Don’t get me wrong, the story seems interesting enough, and the artwork is wonderful, but I feel this isn’t really an essential part of my reading list. I will, however, still review issues of this from time to time on WCBR.

Ender’s Game – Finally. One of my all-time-favorite novels is getting the comic book treatment. I’ve never looked forward to the release of a comic book as much as I am Ender’s Game #1 on October 8th. If you’ve never read the book, first off, shame on you! But secondly, you definitely better read the comic, because it’s gonna be epic! In fact, next week, Casual Saturdays will be all about why you should read it, so if you aren’t planning to, you better check back then!

So what do you guys think of the Marvel Universe as it is now? Share your thoughts if you feel like it.

-LOTRKing

Review of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (3.5 stars) September 4, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

My original intent was to rent this, and summarily bash it here for its horrible cheesiness which, I thought, the trailers made apparent. Well someone needs to fire their marketing department, because this was much better than it looked to be. Given, it still stars a bunch of young teen superhero children of the original Avengers, but the movie creators were actually able to pull this storyline off fairly well.

In the future, Ultron has killed off all the original Avengers, except for Iron Man, Hulk (though he isn’t discovered until late in the movie), and Thor (who left Earth behind). Before their deaths, the Avengers sent their young children with Iron Man, to be kept hidden away from Ultron. Tony, now the unsuspecting surrogate father must raise these kids. Surprisingly, he does a pretty good job. Twelve years later, these children have mastered their abilities, and after a quick chain of events, are found by Ultron. The rest of the movie is a series of attacks and escapes filled in with story and character development, and along the way we see a few “familiar” faces (though now much aged). There may not have been too much in the way of “Easter Eggs,” but those familiar with Marvel history will probably be able to guess a few plot points faster than the less familiar.

Now, addressing the complaint that this isn’t based off of any comic: personally, that doesn’t bother me at all. True, there are still plenty of classic Marvel sagas that need to be adapted to movie form, but seeing a completely new tale feels somewhat fresh, especially when it’s with new characters. Despite being kids, the stars give us plenty of great characterizations, and humor. The “child element” of this movie didn’t annoy me in the slightest. However, faithful Marvelites may be bothered by one thing: in the movie, it has been changed that Tony Stark was the creator of Ultron. Yes, this is a major change, but since he is still a character in this film, and plays a significant role, it allows us to see how he suffers the consequences, and makes for a much better story (in this particular instance) than if the creator had remained Hank Pym. So I was slightly annoyed at first, but I soon came to realize it was for the best.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but let me confirm now, the cheesiness was kept to a surprising minimum for being marketed as a kid’s movie, in fact this probably had the least cheesiness of any of Marvel’s Animated Features so far (though Dr. Strange remains my favorite to date). While this was intended to bring more kids into the genre, adults who enjoy superhero tales, and don’t mind animated movies should enjoy this. If you’ve seen any of Marvel’s previous animated movies, you should definitely look into this. There’s really not too much to complain about here. Yes, there were one or two lines that could have been omitted, and an occasional instance where the animation was awkward. But overall, this was surprisingly enjoyable.

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Letter to Marvel Concerning Amazing Spider-Man Family 1 August 16, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff.
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The following was an email I sent to Marvel earlier this week about Amazing Spider-Man Family #1. Since it is sort of a review, I thought I’d put it up here.

Dear Spidey Office:

I just finished reading Amazing Spider-Man Family #1, and it was definitely worth the $5 cover price.

“48 Hours” surprised me as easily the best tale in the issue. I have read many stories attempting to chronicle the early start of Spider-Man, and this was probably the best one yet (except for Stan and Steve’s original, of course!)

The story concerning Spider-Monkey, on the other hand, was just plain ridiculous. I felt embarrassed just to have read it when I finished, luckily it was very short. I wasn’t intending to buy Marvel Apes, but now I know I’m not even going to go near it.

Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man was the only reason I picked up this issue, and I will admit that I was very pleased. The story had all the elements I wanted it to, and was still an entertaining Spider-Man tale. Indeed, I was planning on reading this ongoing series entirely for this feature, imagine my disdain when I read your closing page and found this was only a one-time deal! I don’t want to read Spider-Girl, because it doesn’t star Peter Parker. Is it too much to ask for a regular story starring Peter as Spider-Man, with Mary Jane as his wife? Please, PLEASE, make this feature a regular ASAP. I may or may not continue reading this series, but if you bring Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man back, I’ll read every issue!

“Birthday Girl” was fairly entertaining and provided a nice look at a supporting character (this time, Aunt May) and I wouldn’t mind more stories like this.

Finally, the Venom reprint was exactly what a reprint should be. I’ve found that reprints often only have a little to do with the story they are associated with. But the origin of Venom looks to be very relevant in the upcoming New Ways to Die! Keep up the good work! (Though I’d really appreciate if you’d reprint issues that aren’t from Amazing Spider-Man, since I’ve read every issue – yes, all of them – but I’ve read next to nothing of Spectacular or Web of).

I realize this is a long letter to be marked “Okay to Print,” so if you do print it, feel free to cut out portions that you think are unnecessary (just leave in my request for more Mr. and Mrs.!) One final note, I notice on your closing page you said, “Seeya in November!” but the next issue of Family comes out in October. Surely you meant you’d see us in November, when some great issues of regular Amazing Spider-Man come out, right? (Do I get a No-Prize now? 😉 )

-M. Staples aka LOTRKing
P.S. If you print this, it would be insanely awesome if you include the address for my comic book review blog: http://LOTRKing.wordpress.com

Batmania: Batman Meets Marvel and Other Silliness July 19, 2008

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Yesterday’s release of The Dark Knight has inspired me to present the following material.

First off, a absolutely hilarious video examining all the hype surrounding the release of Dark Knight:

Second, a short story I posted a few months ago (the original post can be found here) starring Batman … in the Marvel Universe! And yes, it is humorous also (at least it made me laugh, but I’m easily amused, and my humor seems to impress me the most. Arrogant? Or Narcisisstic? You decide.)
Anywhooz, for those too lazy to click on the above link, here is the post in its entirety:

So the other day, I was bored, and I had some time on my hands. These two are never a good combination. I ended up writing a script whose main purpose was to make fun of Batman. Eventually it evolved to make fun of everyone featured. So, like any good blogger, I decided to post it here. To those who get angered easily, please keep in mind that I stereotyped EVERY character involved, in fact I stereotyped them on purpose. So yes, I realize these are not very good representations of the characters, so please don’t get mad at me if your favorite character was not represented well. That said, let’s have some fun, and dig into this thing.

RANDOM PERSON 1: Look!
RP2: In the sky!
RP3: What the heck is it?
BATMAN: Why it’s the Bat Signal, of course!
RP1: The what?
BATMAN: The Bat Signal! It signals that Batman is needed to help fight crime!
RP2: Who the heck is Batman?
BATMAN: Why I am, of course!
RP3: Are you registered with the SHRA?
BATMAN: Holiday Hooby-Whatey?
*enter IRON MAN*
IRON MAN: Costumed vigilante! You are commanded to cease what you are doing and present proof of Initiative Membership!
*BATMAN reaches to Bat Belt*
BATMAN: All I have is this. *hands card to IRON MAN*
IRON MAN: What is this? This isn’t an Initiative license!
BATMAN: Why it’s the Bat Card of course!
IRON MAN: This isn’t Government Issue, where did you get it?
BATMAN: From my Bat Belt of course! The source of any item I ever need!
IRON MAN: I’m sorry, this won’t do, I’ll have to escort you to the 42 Negative Zone Prison!
*enter SPIDER-MAN*
SPIDER-MAN: Black Panther! Your skin! You’ve pulled a Michael Jackson! (At least you still have your nose!)
IRON MAN: This isn’t Black Panther, you idiot, it’s …. erm… Catman!
BATMAN: Batman!
IRON MAN: Whatever. Nonetheless, unless you sign the SHRA and submit to training, I will have no choice but to incarcerate you. Spidey, that goes for you to!
SPIDER-MAN: Not unless I take him with me to the secret hideout of the New Avengers!
IRON MAN: Dude, I read New Avengers Annual 2, you don’t have a secret hideout. It was destroyed when the Hood’s gang attacked, and Dr. Strange, your most powerful member, has quit, so unless you have an invisible army with you, I’m taking you both in.
SPIDER-MAN: Ha! You’ll never be able to take me and him at the same time! I’ll get away, and you’ll never find me, because you don’t know my secret identity anymore! So nyahh!
IRON MAN: Of course I do you’re ….. wait a minute, who are you? I know we used to be friends, but I suddenly can’t remember your name! It’s like someone retconned everything that has happened to you over the last several years!
SPIDER-MAN: Yup, it got retconned along with my marriage, my best friend’s death, and my sense of responsibility. Now I’m a jobless loser, who’s never been married, and still lives at home, while whining about how poor I am, and borrowing money from my dead best friend who isn’t dead any more!
BATMAN: I hate to interrupt, but that story sucks way too much to be believed. Are you sure you just didn’t have my pal Superman just use one of his infinite amount of powers, and erase his memory?
SPIDER-MAN: Of course not! The writers of my story are convinced that it was one of the best stories ever written!
BATMAN: *to himself* They must have somehow stolen some Bat Weed from my Bat Belt, to delude themselves like that!
IRON MAN: What was that?
BATMAN: Nothing.
IRON MAN: Whatever. Now I am taking you both in, you have two choices, you can come quietly or–
*DR STRANGE materializes out of nowhere*
DR STRANGE: Not so fast!
BATMAN: Who are you?
DR STRANGE: By the Vishanti! You know not who I am? I am Dr. Strange!
BATMAN: What a Strange name! *everyone groans at the horrible joke* And what can you do?
DR STRANGE: Magic!
BATMAN: Oh! A magician, eh? I once played one of those. Except it wasn’t really me, rather the same actor who played me in a movie (did I mention I have 5 movies? How many do you losers have?) and was also in a movie called–
DR STRANGE: No, real magic.
BATMAN: There’s no such thing, it’s just your lame excuse for not wanting to explain how you –
DR STRANGE: By the Sons of Satannish, you shall become a goat! *BATMAN turns into a goat, then turns back* Not so lame now, am I?
BATMAN: *who still has a goatee* Ha! At least everything I can do is of my own creation!
IRON MAN: *silently* Computer, record the following discussion for records of SHRA identification. *out loud* And what can you do?
BATMAN: Why, I have no powers, but I can still kick your butts any day, with all of the handy dandy utilities on my Bat Belt!
IRON MAN: Ha, all I would need to do is fry you with my –
BATMAN: Before you could even finish, I would disable your armor with my Bat EMP Emitter.
IRON MAN: Ha! I can detect EMPs before they happen, and shut down my systems before they happen!
BATMAN: Then I would simply use it in conjunction with my Bat Block Iron Man’s EMP Detector Machine, also conveniently found on my Bat Belt! And I could take out your buddies here with my Bat Webbing Dissolver, and my Bat Magic Blocker! Then, if I got hungry, I could have some Bat Spam!
RANDOM BRITISH WOMAN: I DON’T LIKE SPAM!!!
IRON MAN: How could you possibly have those items, especially since you didn’t believe in magic up until a few minutes ago?
BATMAN: My Bat Belt is equipped with everything I could possibly need (all of which I invented) and it is still extraordinarily light!
SPIDER-MAN: That’s impossible! And you think my story sounded stupid? At least I didn’t have Deluded Creators!
IRON MAN: I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to take you both in and get some help, and – wait a minute, Dr. Strange, what exactly are you doing here? I thought you took vacation time at a very inopportune moment in order meditate, and do other boring things, to fix you’re magic skills!
DR STRANGE: You’re right! I don’t know what I’m doing here. It must have just been one of those moments where I appear out of nowhere to fix a situation that I wasn’t even involved with in the first place! You’re on your own Spider-Man; I’ve got boring magic fixing stuff to do. *DR STRANGE vanishes into the air*
IRON MAN: Good, now that he’s gone, I’m calling in the reinforcements. Sentry! Your presence is required immediately!
*The SENTRY flies in*
SENTRY: Hi guys! I’m CRAZY!
BATMAN: That’sssss ……. nice.
SENTRY: How can I help you Iron Man? (I’m CRAZY!)
IRON MAN: Well, I need to arrest these two, but I can’t detain both at the same time, so I need you to –
SENTRY: No need to say more! (I’m CRAZY!) I’ll just fly this guy into the Sun, and you’ll have Spidey all to yourself! (I’m CRAZY!)
*SENTRY grabs BATMAN and flies off into space*
IRON MAN: No wait! *but it is too late* Alas poor Batman, we barely knew him! Batman has passed on! He is no more! He has ceased to be! He’s expired and gone to meet his maker! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If he wasn’t thrown into the Sun, he’d be pushing up daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He’s sleeping with the fishes and has gone to Davy Jones’ locker! He’s kicked the bucket, he’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleeding choir invisible! This is an ex-Batman!
*SENTRY comes zooming back into the atmosphere*
SENTRY: Well, that was easy! (I’m CRAZY!)
BATMAN: I’m not dead yet, I’m getting better!
IRON MAN: AAAAAAAAIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE! How are you still here?
BATMAN: Simple, once I heard he was going to fly me into the Sun, I simply pushed the Bat Cloning Button on my Bat Belt. He only flew my Bat Clone into the Sun.
SPIDER-MAN: I once had a clone, and then he thought he was me and I was him, and everybody hated it, and it has never been referred to since.
*awkward silence*
BATMAN: OK then.
SENTRY: I’m CRAZY!
IRON MAN: Batman, you could become a nuisance here really quick!
SPIDER-MAN: I’ve got an idea how to get rid of him! Oi! Mephisto!
*MEPHISTO appears*
MEPHISTO: Yes?
SPIDER-MAN: I’m ready to make another deal; you wanna retcon this Batman guy out of existence for me?
MEPHISTO: Of course, but the price will be that all that has happened in the last few minutes will also be retconned away too.
IRON MAN: You mean anyone who read this will have wasted their precious time by reading something that never happened?
MEPHISTO: That is correct.
SENTRY: I’m CRAZY!
SPIDER-MAN: I can live with that! Do it!
MEPHISTO: OK, but before I do, I want to tell you something that will make a small part of your souls suffer, even if you won’t remember. I’m going to tell you something very important, that you will now never know because I will erase having told you. Iron Man: YOU are the Skrull!
IRON MAN: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….. (SENTRY: I’m CRAZY!) …..OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…… *all fades into darkness*
MEPHISTO: *laughs evilly* HA HA HA HA HA! I love doing that. *MEPHISTO pulls off his face, which is revealed to only be a mask, JOE QUESADA is revealed to be underneath*
JOE QUESADA: Ah, nothing like the smell of a good retconning in the morning!

END.

😉

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand June 28, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff.
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Well, the year’s (almost) half over, and seeing as how it’s been a few months since I did one of these posts, I thought I’d take the time to assess my current views on the Marvel Universe. Sometime this week (assuming I have time) I’m going to send an email to Marvel letting them know what I think, it will essentially say the same, or similar things in this post. (I will also ask for subscriptions to be available for Avengers: The Initiative!)

Secret Invasion: Three issues in, and we’ve had three big reveals: Spider-Woman, Yellowjacket, and Jarvis are all Skrulls! Bendis has been handling the story extremely well, and I can’t wait to see where he goes with it. Surprising to myself, I’ve also actually enjoyed Yu’s art in SI (though it still needs improvement). Who else might be a Skrull? Luke Cage, but I’m guessing he doesn’t know it, and will be heart broken when he finds out.

Fantastic Four: Millar/Hitch’s first arc was more than satisfying, and judging by the first issue of their second arc, it looks to be ten times more awesome! I love that Millar makes this series about the characters, not their adventures. And I love the way the Hitch draws Sue! What is there not to be happy about? 😉 Fantastic Four is one of favorite monthlies, and one of my three “must reads.” (In other words, if you’re not reading it, pick it up immediately!)

Silver Surfer/Nova: I’m reading the current arc of Nova, simply because is features ol’ Norrin Radd, and boy is it spectacular. (Reviews can be found here and here, the second review isn’t mine though.) I’m hoping what with the success of SS: Requiem and SS: In Thy Name, that if these three issues of Nova see a spike in readers, Marvel may consider giving Norrin his own ongoing again (finally!), or at least another mini-series (which could then lead to an ongoing). What with both Annihilation events, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy reinvigorating Marvel’s cosmic line, what better way to add to this corner of the MU by launching an ongoing for Marvel’s most famous Sentinel of the Spaceways?

Amazing Spider-Man: This is the most disappointing series that I am currently reading. Occasionally we get a glimpse of an issue that is wonderful, but it seems that the next is always a let down. Also, any regular readers know that I am very opposed to the dissolution of the marriage, and I still think that it can be reinstated, and we could still have spectacular Spidey stories. If Marvel has a greatest flaw right now, this is it. (Though I won’t lie, the upcoming “New Ways to Die” arc looks awesome.)

Mighty Avengers and New Avengers: This should be two groups, but seeing as how these two are simply telling back stories of Secret Invasion right now, these series serve the same purpose. While I enjoy the stories that have been presented thus far, I really wish Bendis would have made them a separate mini-series, like Secret Invasion: Origins, or something. One, that would let casual readers know that these stories are essential to Secret Invasion, and not “just another tie-in.” I mean, the Skrull queen posing as Spider-Woman was revealed in an issue of New Avengers, for goodness sake! These things are really too important to leave out of Secret Invasion. Likewise, I really want a good Avengers story fix. Mighty Avengers only gave us two quick arcs to meet the team, before diving straight into SI, and as enjoyable as SI is, I really want these series to get back to more adventures of their perspective teams ASAP.

Avengers: The Initiative: I think yesterday’s review of issue 14 sums up my feelings on this series. This is another one of my three must reads. Pick it up as soon as you get the chance (and ask Marvel to offer subscriptions to it!)

Captain America: Brubaker continues to weave a web of genius plot lines. With last month’s reveal of who the “Bad Cap” is and next month looking to have the “New Cap” vs. “Bad Cap” fight, along with the promise of a conclusion in September, this series continues to be an extremely entertaining read, and I can’t wait to see what Brubaker does with James after the conclusion of this monumental story line.

Thor: First, I have to admit to slight disappointment, as this series seems to have slipped onto a bimonthly schedule. Still, it is worth the wait. Thor is mythic stories infused with humor, and packed with a surprising amount of characterizations as only J. Michael Straczynski can do. Thor might just be Marvel’s best ongoing, and therefore is the final one of my three must reads. If you aren’t reading this, you are missing out, big time.

Invincible Iron Man: Two issues in, and I’m loving it! Matt Fraction is doing a brilliant job introducing new Iron Man fans to his current status quo, and keeping it plenty entertaining for regular comic book readers. My hope is that Fraction can reinvigorate this character like Brubaker with Cap or JMS with Thor, and if the first two issues are any indication, he just may succeed. If you loved the movie, you should probably be reading this.

Uncanny X-Men: Messiah Complex: Awesome. Divided We Stand: Mehh. Manifest Destiny: ??? While this last storyarc has been a bit underwhelming (note to future comic book writers: don’t use hippies), the dream team of Brubaker, Fraction, and Cary, along with the monumental issue 500 leaves me with high hopes for what is coming next.

Well, those are my current opinions, we’ll check back with another “Where Things Stand” in a few months! See you on Monday with a Flashback!

-LOTRKing

Review of The Incredible Hulk (4 stars) June 13, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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3 comments

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Note: this contains some spoilers, but I am not giving a full summary. If you want full spoilers of this movie, please go here. For those wanting my original “spoiler-less” review, please go here.

While Incredible Hulk is obviously not as good as Iron Man, it still provides an entertaining movie experience for both the comic fan and casual movie-goer. The movie quickly cuts to the chase as we see Hulk’s fairly well known origin story as a series of flashbacks during the main titles (with a few Easter eggs scattered around). The story here moves into three acts, each culminating in a Hulk attack.

The first act features Banner in Brazil as he works to find a cure, consulting with a mysterious “Mr. Blue” via the internet, and supporting himself by working at a local soda bottling factory. In an accident, Bruce’s blood drips into a soda bottle later to be shipped to the USA and drunk by an unsuspecting civilian (Stan Lee no less!) After Stan gets “Gamma poisoning,” General Ross is able to locate Bruce and sends in a strike team, including soldier Emil Blonsky, to capture him. Along the way, we also get Bruce’s humorous blunder as he tries to say his tagline in Portuguese: “Don’t make me hungry, you won’t like it when I’m hungry!” (The same could be said about me! 😉 ) Here we get two very action packed scenes in a row as the soldiers chase Bruce over the rooftops of Brazil (I thought it was pretty darn suspenseful), and when the game of cat and mouse finally ends, Bruce is provoked into transforming. This first appearance of the Hulk (outside the opening credits) was very well done in that we mostly get teasings. You’d see the shadow of Hulk here and perhaps just his arm there. We don’t finally see the full Hulk until right before he escapes. Only seeing bits helped to emphasize the fear that the soldiers were experiencing by keeping us in the dark as much as they were.

In the second act, Bruce is able to make it back to the Americas and eventually reunites with Betty. While the lines shared between these two are few, the acting and body language make it obvious to the audience the pain that these two are experiencing. Craig Armstrong’s wonderful score also adds immensely to these scenes. Later, Bruce obtains the information he needs to send to “Mr. Blue,” to help find a cure, but before he gets the chance to send it, the second “Hulk out” of the movie begins as the U.S. Army attacks him on Culver Campus. This time we see Hulk full on, and there is smashing aplenty. Audience members who love to see things blow up and get destroyed will be more than appeased by this scene. Hulk also fights with Blonsky, who has been given a variant of the super-soldier formula, and unfortunately for Blonsky, “Hulk smash” every bone in his body. While this scene was visually stunning, my first major complaint of the movie comes from the “sonic cannons” used against Hulk. I realize that comic book movies use futuristic technology, it is part of the genre, but did they have to use something so cheesy looking? Sonic cannons certainly sound like a cool idea (no pun intended), but I really think they needed to redesign the look. Oh well, at least I got the pleasure of seeing Hulk smash those as well. Hulk escapes once more, this time with Betty, and we get some more trade offs between character development scenes and humorous scenes before finally moving to the third act.

Needless to say, the climax of the movie is the big showdown between Hulk and the Abomination (but not before introducing the Leader, hinting at sequel!). This scene is full to the brimming of super-powered violence as these two creatures of rage duke it out. My two favorite parts include the Hulk’s use of a police car as boxing gloves, and finally the inevitable line of “HULK SMASH!” After Hulk defeats the Abomination and goes on the run once more, we get the final scene with Ross in a bar only to be visited by Tony Stark! Tony has come to talk to Ross about Hulk because, as he says, “we’re putting a team together.” Some may complain that between these two scenes there is very little closure, but this is of course because they want to leave it wide open for a sequel.

While this movie holds a lot nods to comic book fans (and abounds in Easter eggs), it should still an enjoyable experience for action movie lovers. I realize this movie may not be everyone’s cup of tea (unlike Iron Man, which everyone I’ve talked to seemed to love), but if you normally enjoy comic book movies and/or you actually want to see the Hulk’s character done right (unlike 2003’s version), then I highly recommend this movie.

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Superhero Films Ranked May 24, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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1 comment so far

Following yesterday’s trend of announcements, here is a new one for today: since next week will see the season finale of LOST, and therefore my weekly LOST comment column, I’m starting another new weekly column to replace it (in addition to the Flashback column already mentioned). It will take place on Saturdays starting this week and is entitled “Casual Saturdays.” Here I will make use of the “and Other Random Stuff” title of my blog to take off my comics reviewers gloves for a while and talk about, well, other random stuff. So yes, this blog may actually end up sounding like a blog! 😉

Today’s topic doesn’t stray too far from the world of comics, as it is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. You’ll recall that in my review of Iron Man I mentioned that it just may be the best superhero film I’ve yet seen, though I’d have to see it a few more times before I decided for sure. Well, now that I’ve seen it six times (long story short: I work at a movie theatre and get free movies if I accompany the guest, and I have several friends/relatives that wanted to see it) I think I can safely say that it is indeed my favorite superhero film yet, and just to give you a since of who it ranks with, I’ve decided to list my ten top favorite superhero films:

1. Iron Man
2. X2: X-Men United
3. Spider-Man 2
4. Spider-Man
5. Batman Begins
6. X-Men
7. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (it counts!)
8. X-Men 3: The Last Stand
9. Hellboy
10. Doctor Strange (yes, the animated one!)
With honorable mentions Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Daredevil and the absolute worst being Elektra and Hulk.

Of course, with three awesome superhero films yet to come out this summer, as well as Marvel’s astounding recent announcement, this list will likely look radically different in a few years. And if you want to spark an interesting discussion, leave a comment on what your top ten hero flicks are.

Next week: something having nothing to do with comics! I promise!

-LOTRKing

Review of Ayre Force – Graphic Novel (4 stars) – And Other Matters May 23, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Comic Book Stuff.
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2 comments

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Cool story: so a few weeks ago I was contacted by an agent of Bodog, an international media company, and asked to write an advance review for their upcoming (and first so far) graphic novel, Ayre Force. After checking out what the book was about, I agreed. I was soon sent the free copy and took a few days to read and review it. When I asked why my site was chosen as one of the reviewers, I was told that I was found through Google’s blog search, which rewards blogs that are both frequently updated and frequently read, which means I owe a portion of that to you guys! So thanks for reading! 😉 As for the actual review, I asked if I would be allowed to post it instead on WCBR, since it gets more reads, and would therefore likely be more beneficial to the publisher. Nonetheless, since you guys are in part what got me this opportunity, I want to make sure you know about it, so a link to this review is here. (You were supposed to click that. No really read it, then come back, that’s why tabbed browsing was invented. No seriously, this will still be here, go read the review first.) Back now? Good. Now that you’ve already been given the purchase link once, I’ll bombard you with it again: http://ayreforce.bodoglife.com

So why do I want to buy it? No, its not because I got a free book and now feel obligated to promote it. As I mentioned in the review, it really was a great read with tons of action. No, the reason I want you to buy it is for another reason mentioned in the review: all proceeds go to fighting animal cruelty, mostly bear bile farming. So, for $20, not only do you get an action-packed novel, you also get to participate in the same deeds that the book’s heroes are (though in a less cool way).

And now for the “and other matters” portion. Announcement: starting Monday (and following on Mondays thereafter) there’ll be a new column entitled “Flashback.” The inspiration for “Flashback” came from two sources: one, from Comics Daily’s Dusting Off weekly column, and two from my recent purchase of some of GitCorp’s Complete Collection DVD-ROMs but not having time to read them. So what will Flashback be? Once a week, I will use a random number generator to select a random back issue of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, or Uncanny X-Men, which I will then read and review. With the exception of ASM, I will never have read these issues before, so much of the review will be me trying to make sense of the issue, and trying to place it in Marvel history. I will not be giving these issues stars for two reasons, one trying to review a potentially decades old comic by modern standards just isn’t fair, and two, because I will not have read the preceding story, it will be hard to judge its place, especially if I get confused. So check back on Monday for confusion, babbling, and old-schoolness!

-LOTRKing

Concerning Invincible Iron Man and Daredevil….. May 14, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff.
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3 comments

I, like everyone else who loved May 2nd’s Iron Man movie, have been swept up in Iron Man-ia. I’ve always been interested in his character, but now I want more. Because of this, I, once again like many others, am going to be picking up the new Invincible Iron Man series, written for this very purpose: to draw in the movie lovers. However, I really can’t afford a new ongoing right now, so picking it up will be at the expense of another series: namely Daredevil. Why? Well, while I may think Brubaker’s ending to the last arc may have been beautifully tragic and Daredevil is certainly an interesting character, I’m just not sure if I am interested enough in Daredevil to stick with him through the long run, especially since I’ve never been a huge fan of noir stories (a storyline here or there may be interesting, but I’m not sure I could read noir every month and maintain interest). On a business note, if anyone is interested in my small Daredevil collection (99-106 + 2007 Annual) it is on sale here on eBay. 😉

So why don’t I drop something that I don’t really enjoy, say Amazing Spider-Man? Well, I think the reasons detailed here give a pretty good summing up why I picked ASM back up to begin with, but as I also mentioned there, I am a “completist”, and since I have GitCorps’ “Complete Collection DVD-Rom”s of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, and Uncanny X-Men, those are four titles that are never in danger of being dropped. Anything else I read, however, may be dropped at any time. Heck, I was originally going to drop Captain America after the “Death of Captain America” arc, which should be ending in the next few issues, but since I just ordered the Captain America by Brubaker Omnibus, I’m going to go ahead and stick around at least as long as Brubaker is in charge. On the other hand, I really don’t think I’m going to be picking anything else up in the coming months, and if I do it will be at the expense of something else. The only exception would be for a Silver Surfer ongoing, I’d make room for it somehow. This also goes for any new mini-series, I’m going to wait until TPB, with the exception of The Twelve and Secret Invasion, which I have already started. And speaking of TPBs, I’m going to pick up the World War Hulk TPB tomorrow, so you can expect a review at WCBR in a few days.

And speaking of WCBR ( 😉 ), I just thought I would explain something about my reviews there, as you may see reviews of issues in a mini, or occasionally reviews from a series I don’t read, that are written by me over there. This is because, through WCBR I am able to download advance digital copies of comics (this is legal, they have a deal with Marvel) in order to review them in advance. (Don’t worry, I delete them when I’m done. 😉 ) So through this, I’ll probably still read Daredevil and you may want to check over there for DD reviews. So why don’t I use this method to read Invincible Iron Man? Well, for reasons detailed above, IIM seems like a more interesting ongoing to invest money in than DD.

Now that I’ve ranted and babbled, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled program with a review of Secret Invasion #2 tomorrow…..

-LOTRKing