Saturday, June 28, 2008

Michael Turner

Comic artist Michael Turner has passed, at age 37 after a long battle with cancer.

Thirty-Seven is just terrifyingly young. My condolences to his family and loved ones.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kick-Ass #3

I've spoken about Kick-Ass before, but I didn't really like the first issue. I stuck it out, if only because I really dig the John Romita jr. art, and issue three finally paid off a little. The first two books really beat up the protagonist, so it was nice to get past that and see him shine a little, as I find it's hard to read a book where the one character you like gets knocked around all the time without ever winning.

The book still needs some meat, however. with essentially only one character, the plot thus far has been about him fighting, and that's just about beginning to wear thin. Issue #3 is a step in the right direction, but the art will only be able to be a draw for so long.

The Incredible Hulk

I went to see The Incredible Hulk last night, just on a whim and not really with much anticipation. I liked the last one well enough, but it never really grabbed me, and the Hulk can be really hit-or-miss as far as storytelling engines go.

First off, the opening credits cut right to the chase, and as the music is still playing, you get that Bruce Banner is the Hulk, and he's on the run. This really lets the story get going right away, and even if you missed the Ang Lee/Eric Bana movie from 2003, you still get it. It was a smart move, and really kept the audience into the film.

The next thing that worked well was something that I was really worried about, and that was the casting of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. I thought he'd either be too deep or play it too pathetic, but he really seemed to play Banner the way that I read the character as being in my favorite comics. Nervous, but responsible, and just driven enough to keep going. He was a great Banner, and he gets my kudos for it.

The Incredible Hulk also picks up where Iron Man left off, and really sets itself in the Marvel Universe. As the Army gets ready to chase Hulk around, weapons and schematics are labeled with "Stark Industries" and documents and references are made to SHEILD. The last scene of the movie, which I won't spoil, also made sure to make the fanboy in me salivate.

The movie also borrowed plots from the comic books, taking elements from both
Bruce Jones' run (Banner the fugitive) as well as from The Ultimates (Banner working on the Super-Soldier serum) and this really made the world more cohesive without pulling non-readers out of the story.

All in all, the movie was a success for me. The cast was as good as they had to be, the action was clear, Hulk smashed the Army and the Abomination, and the movie left the door open to introduce Doc Samson, The Leader, or tie into other things without weakening itself as a stand-alone. If you liked Iron Man, you'll like Hulk too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Avengers/Invaders is a 12-issue crossover that's oddly being joint-published by Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment. I say oddly because every character in the book is a Marvel character, and a far as I can tell, the only reason Dynamite is involved at all is because the idea was pitched by Alex Ross, who has been over at Dynamite working on his “Project: Superpowers” book.

Avengers/Invaders, though only two issues in, has come out to be pretty cool thus far. Set in a post “Civil War” Marvel Universe, the Mighty Avengers (made up of Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Wasp, Wonder Man, The Sentry and Ares) are living their lives as usual when a portal opens up in the middle of Manhatttan and the World War II heroes, the Invaders, tumble out, disoriented and lost. Captain America and Bucky, the original Human Torch and his sidekick Toro and a younger, brasher Namor he Sub-mariner believe this to be a Nazi trick and take on (and take down) the Mighty Avengers, who are just as confused as well as being shocked to see their fallen comrade Cap alive and kicking.

Two big twists at the end of issue two really sold me on the series. The first is the New Avengers being informed by Spider-Man that the Invaders are in town, and they then decide that they will rescue and recruit their former leader. I like the idea of a three-way super-brawl. The second was the terribly hard-core portrayal of Bucky Barnes in escaping the custody of his prison cell onboard the SHEILD heli-carrier. He actually cuts open his arm and removes sticks of plastique he had stored there in order to blow his door open. Bucky shows some of the grit that writer Ed Brubaker would highlight in making him into the “Winter Soldier” over in the pages of Captain America a few years ago.

All in all, the book is good, and still a little under the radar. I recommend it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Invincible vol.9

I just picked up the latest trade paperback of Robert Kirkman's Invincible, featuring art by Ryan Ottley. Volume 9, titled "Out of This World", allows the readers to take a nice break from the high drama of the last volumes, and finally shows a few things going right for the hero and his friends and family.

The last volume was full of action and melodrama, with Mark's fellow superheroes getting murdered and maimed by the villainous Lizard League, with Mark haaving to break up with his girlfriend, and generally just everything in his life going wrong.

This book however lightens the tone by showing both the reader and Mark that everything isn't as bad as it seems and that there's always tomorrow. In fact, he creepiest part of the whole book is when Mark walks in on his roommate wearing his super-suit, sans-pants.

Plus, there's a visit from my favorite character, Allen the alien, and when ever she shows up it brings a smiile to my face.

As usual, the trade also has some sketches and developmental art in the back, with commentary from the writer and artist. A particularly painful piece where Ottley's two-year old son snuck into his studio and went to work on a nearly finished page of art with a chunky red marker. Funny, but painful to see.

All in all, it was a good read, and a nice break from the previous volumes' pain and loss.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1

I just managed to read Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 last night, and I found myself a little perplexed by the book.

Obviously meant to cap off the 24-issue, 4 year run by Joss Whedon and John Cassady on Astonishing X-Men, it works to wrap up the stories he's been writing and as he gets ready to hand the reigns over to another creative team, make sure there isn't too much left dangling.

But four years is a long time, and Whedon makes some creative decisions that don't lend themselves to periodical issues. I could have done with a little exposition and flashback work, which is avoided in favour of some fan service by the writer as he tries to include as many heroes in the Marvel Universe as he can. Granted, he does write a decent Spidey, but for a book with a big #1 on the cover, it really should have taken a little time to remind the readers who the characters were, specifically in the residents of Breakworld, Ord included, and Agent Brand, as well as the newest X-Man, Armour. This will matter less, of course, when the book is republished in the trade, but the fact is I didn't buy the trade, I bought the issue, and I felt a little let down about it.

The best part of the book was the ending, and Kitty really should have gotten some more of the spotlight during the run in order to drive home the poignancy of her sacrifice. It does have a stronger impact when you look at how Astonishing begins, with Kitty's return to the mansion and her memories of growing up there, but that was four years ago for the readers, and should have been brought back into our minds.

John Cassady was his usual brilliant self, and I feel the really added to the book, trying hard to add emotional resonance to a single issue whose script was lacking, and did so, especially with the great moment of redemption for Ord. It's a shame he wasn't given the chance to recap his own work.

All in all, once collected, I'm sure this chapter will fit right in as a nice ending, but as a single issue, it was less than grand. As well, if you have a favorite heroine, and she's cute and spunky, you'd do well to keep Joss Whedon away from her.