Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Usagi Yojimbo

I just finished Usagi Yojimbo #'s 104-105, and damn were these two of the creepier issues I've read. I mean, it was practically reminiscent of many mid-season Buffy episodes, wherein the horror was built up, and left you dangling for a week feeling a little sick and creeped out. That is what these two comics do to you; leave you feeling a little cold and nervous for the heroes.

Stan Sakai never disappoints either, so I'm really excited to see where this is going to go. It's going to be one hell of a ride.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Comics Should be Good

The brainchild of Brian Cronin; Comics Should Be Good, which is a great comics blog that will routinely check five to ten times a week for updates. With interesting and original features, as well as a devoted following, it really is the comics blog to watch out there. It's so good, that it's practically disheartening to blog about comics on the same internet.

Be sure to check them out. Tell 'em I sent you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

30 Days of Night: The Movie

So I went to see the movie "30 Days of Night", and just got home not too long ago. While it's still fresh in my mind, I wanted to jot down a few thoughts while they were still fresh in my mind. As I've just talked about the comic, it's a good time for a follow up.

First off, the movie wasn't bad. It was nice and creepy, and stark and a little shocking when it needed to be. It managed to really show a nice sense of isolation that exists in Barrow Alaska, and it was a good adaptation of the comic.

What the film added to the story was what I hoped it would, with taking the isolation and the violence of the siege of the town. It also added in some wonderfully creepy sound effects, and as much of the film's violence happened just off camera, it really added to the tale. I liked Josh Hartnett in the lead, and I thought that he was a good choice for his role, and the rest of the cast was fine too.

My criticisms are not overwhelming, but notable none the less. For a vampire movie about a month without the sun, there should have been a lot more darkness shown on screen. I get moonlight, but blackness is unsettling and underused. The vampires, for no explained reason, spoke in a "vampire language" that was unexplained and silly sounding. It was too bad, as they looked scary, and looked evil, but they sounded like drunk klingons.

Lastly, I didn't like the removal of one of the characters from the comic, a very important vampire that was the source of a great twist in the comic. He was written out, and I felt his lost in the end result.

That's all I've got tonight. Go see it, I dug it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

30 Days of Night: The Comic

My friend Pat managed to obtain a double pass to the screening of the movie for tonight, to which he cordially invited me along for. I am stoked for the movie, and I hope to have a few new additions to my Top 10: Superhero movie moments. In preparation, I reread the original comic by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith last night.

For those of you that have never seen any of it, IDW has a few preview pages of the original comic up on their site, which sets up the story and really gives you a feel of what's in store for you.

Set in Barrow, Alaska, "30 Days of Night" is basically a simple idea. In a small and isolated town where the sun sets and doesn't rise until a month later, a group of vampires show up in order to wreak havoc and give in to their baser animal instincts. Violence ensues.

First released in 2002 (and almost immediately optioned in Hollywood), it is a pretty slick idea for a horror comic from writer Steve Niles. Vampires, violence, endless night. But what really set it apart was the unbelievably moody, dark and original artwork by Templesmith (or Templesmiths, if he is to be believed). The art was unlike anything else on the comic shop walls at the time, and elevated the book to high levels. Its cult hit status isn't that of "Sin City", but it does have a following and it was an unexpected sleeper hit for IDW.

The art is exceedingly dark. You have to strain to draw out the details from it, and the work it causes you to place as it surrenders it's disturbing imagery almost like a whispered secret. It hearkens back to classic horror experiences like Alien, where the tension is ratcheted up until it bursts.

If you haven't read it yet, and you like comics, vampires or dark artwork, you should pick it up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together

Bryan Lee O'Malley has finished the 4th edition of his Scott Pilgrim books, and just put up some preview pages for the newest book.

I've spoken about "Scott Pilgrim" before, as it is one of my favorite reads, to say nothing of my patriotism being added to my enthusiasm. O'Malley is a fellow Canuck, true, but his books are just awesomely fun reads.

Also, in the news section of his site, I found this little tidbit:

The Scott Pilgrim series has been optioned by Universal Pictures, which means they have the "option" of making a movie based on the concept. Edgar Wright wants to direct the film. He and Michael Bacall are writing it. No "stars" are "attached" and it isn't "green-lit", but we'll let you know if any of that changes."

Really, the more Scott Pilgrim, the better.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Was the Hulk Gay?

How odd is my life that this came up in conversation amongst my friends last night?

Taken from the Wiki article:

"...according to Stan Lee, Universal changed the name because the name "Bruce Banner" sounds like a "gay character" name, and "David Banner" sounded better for the character. (However, "Bruce" was used as his middle name, as that was the case in the comics, except in the comics his first name is "Robert," not "David.")"

My pal Keith was nonplussed at my recounting this fact, saying "He's a big, muscled guy who rips out of his clothing and runs around in his underwear." which of course leads me to believe Keith has never really known any gay people, or if he has, has known very scary and odd gay people.

In any case, I think that Bruce is a perfectly honest name, with no sexuality implied either way. I also think the 70's were an odd time.

Doctor Strange DVD

I've spoken about the direct to DVD movies that Marvel and DC are putting out, and I've just recently sat down and watched the Doctor Strange movie. It was a toss up when I was at the shop between this film and the recently released Superman/Doomsday, but I've heard some less than glorious reviews from the internets about the Death of Superman, and as I quite enjoyed the Invincible Iron Man, I figured that I would give Marvel the benefit of the doubt and go with Doc Strange.

I wasn't disappointed. I thought that Stephen Strange went through a thorough yet believable transformation in personality, from self-obsessed neuro-surgeon to heroic Sorcerer Supreme, and that it seemed organic to the character as to why he was behaving a certain way at any point throughout the film. Make no mistake, this is an origin story, and it does take some liberties with the myth of Doctor Strange, but I feel that they are all for the best, serving to update and flesh out the character, setting it up to be a series I hope to see more of.

The villains are interesting and are classic foes of Strange; The Dread Dormammu and the evil Baron Mordo, and both offer good foils to the protagonist. Mordo was nicely updated to fit in with the retelling of the origin, and I liked his harder edge warrior mage image.

The animation is nice, if not as daring as the Iron Man art, and continues to reinforce the "look" that Marvel is creating with it's animated DVDs. The voice acting is alright, neither hindering nor adding anything special to the experience of the movie. My one complaint with the DVD is that the special features are a little light. There is an "Origin of Doctor Strange" featurette with interviews of comic creators Stan Lee, Steve Englheart, J.M. DeMatteis along with some of the production crew of the DVD, but I didn't get much out of it, as it was often more about the movie than the character's history. The comic creators they did have weren't given enough screen time, and it would have been nice to hear from an artist of two, perhaps Gene Colan, Steve Leialoha, Paul Smith, or even if it would never happen, Steve Ditko.

All in all, I would recommend this DVD, as the movie is fun and does take you on a journey, and there's enough there on screen to give it a re-watch value. Marvel has a trailer up on their site if you're still unsure and want to take a look.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Showcase: The War that Time Forgot

I've only just picked up the "Showcase: The War that Time Forgot" after having polished off "Showcase: The Haunted Tank", and already I'm loving it.

The basic gist of "The War" is that during the second World War, odd seismic activity is detected on an island of some tactical importance in the Pacific. Two previous recon teams have been sent to investigate, but haven't been heard from since. This time, they drop paratroopers and armoured weaponry to get some answers to the questions "What is causing the earthquakes?" and "What happened to our other men?".

The answer is solid gold:


No, really, the Army fights Dinosaurs on a Pacific island in the middle of WWII.

I swear, this book is so good. The Army, stranded on an island, vs dinosaurs. To say nothing of the fine art by Ross Andru (of Spider-man fame), the writing of Robert Kanigher is as inspired as it is insane. The troopers take on a T-Rex with a tank, shoot down a Pteranadon with an anti-aircraft flak cannon, and use plastic explosives to free their sub from a sea-creature. And that's just in the first two issues. It's wacky and more, and it's written as if it were a completely serious war story.

More to come on this, I'm sure. I'll offer up some of the choice dialog later on.