Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday Comics, June 10th, 2009

It was a slow week, I only picked up 10 comics today, and yet I still managed to drop well over $150 at the comic store. How, you say? Read on!
My pull list is as follows:
Uncanny X-Men #511
Fantastic Four #567
X-Factor #44
X-Men Forever #1
Batman #687
Action Comics #878
The Flash Rebirth #3
Green Lantern Corps #37
JSA Vs. Kobra #1
Fables #85

This is most certainly a light week for me, which, at times, I look at as a blessing. With the sheer volume of titles coming out each and every week it can become very exhausting on one's wallet to be constantly dropping large amounts of coin on endless books. My Marvel titles were particularly sparse, though the X-Men were repping particularly strongly so let's talk about them for a little bit.

I've really enjoyed the direction that Uncanny has taken lately, I think the writing has just continued to improve with each issue. Uncanny #511 featured the return of one of my favorite characters to the regular X-Men universe (she had been shuffled off very quickly to the more peripheral X-titles not too long after her resurrection, where she has remained for the last several years) but now Psylocke is back! And let me tell you, she is as sultry as ever. There really isn't much else I want to say about Uncanny because now it's going to be gearing up for its crossover with Dark Avengers (which starts at the end of this month) and that's just going to be all kinds of awesome.

For Marvel what I really wanted to look at this week was X-Men Forever #1, Chris Claremont's triumphant return to the X-Men universe!
...Oh, wait, but didn't he return like 10 years ago to write Uncanny and X-Men? And then didn't he do like two volumes of Excalibur? And wasn't he on Exiles? And didn't he do that X-Men the End trilogy? And X-Treme X-Men? Umm.... so really this guy hasn't stayed away from the X-Men Universe at all. So why is there so much hype surrounding this title? Well back in 1991 Marvel decided that, with the growing popularity of the Uncanny X-Men, another X-Men title was needed, thus (adjectiveless) X-Men was created featuring art by the famed Jim Lee. Claremont left the title (and Marvel) by the third issue after a series of clashes with then Editor in Chief, Bob Harass, and the title was taken over by John Byrne for a short while until a regular writer could be found. X-Men Forever is Claremont's X-Men #4, or what he would have done had he stayed on the title for the long-haul. While the title's inaugural issue captures the feel of 90's X-Men, I know what's coming; I've seen the covers for the upcoming issues and I've read the solicits and it looks like it's going to be pretty painful. I don't think it would be fair for me to completely brush this title off after just one issue, but I'm not going to hold my breath. What it looks like to me is that Claremont is trying to take the X-Men in such a drastically different direction than what was actually done with them. Unfortunately the perception of this is that rather than it coming off as being a refreshing and edgy interpretation of classic characters and storylines, it seems like it's an opportunity for Claremont to say, this is how things should have been done had they been done right. It just doesn't sit well with me. I suppose time will tell.

In the DC universe we have some heavy hitters coming out this week in the form of Batman #687 featuring the new creative team of Judd Winick and Ed Benes. This title made me nervous, in fact, most of the current Batman titles are making me nervous; I'm still not sure how I feel about the Dick Grayson Batman, but I'm cautiously optimistic. Winick in particular worried me because the last few things I've read by him, well, they've been pretty lackluster. In terms of Winick's Batman? If this issue is any indication of the type of writing Winick will be bringing to the table, then sign me up. This issue had so much heart; there were several moments where I actually got choked up. This issue probably should have come out before Morrison's Batman and Robin because it deals with Dick's reluctance to take on Bruce's cape and cowl. There are several incredibly moving moments, one between Dick and Alfred, as well as another between Superman and Alfred. Alfred really stole the show for me, something this character has never done for me before. If Winick keeps this up I think this title will end up reclaiming its place as the fan favorite Batman title, as well it should be.

Finally for DC I want to talk about Flash Rebirth by Geoff Johns. This is a really tricky title and, unlike Green Lantern Rebirth, is NOT new-reader friendly. While Green Lantern Rebirth re-established Hal Jordan as a Green Lantern in a way that allowed new readers who were unfamiliar with the character to jump on-board, Barry Allen's reintroduction to the DC Universe in Flash Rebirth has been very hardcore-fan specific. I think at the end of the day the Flash legacy has become so bogged down in continuity that the character can be a turn-off to new readers. With Green Lantern it really comes down to the fact that he's a space cop with a ring that can create anything its wearer can imagine. The Flash, on the other hand, is someone with the capability to tap into the speedforce, granting the user superspeed. The Flash isn't the only individual throughout comic history who has been able to access this speedforce, but most of the other users are, at best, 3rd tier characters (can you tell me who Max Mercury and Johnny Quick are? I didn't think so). Explaining the science of the speedforce is complicated enough, but that's exactly what Johns is attempting to do in Flash Rebirth. I've been reading comics for quite a few years so I've been able to keep up, but the great thing about the idea of these "rebirth" titles is that they're reintroducing long dead characters to a whole new generation; this just isn't the way to do that. I have a good friend who I've been introducing to comics and he's fallen in love with Green Lantern; he was also interested in Flash Rebirth and picked up the first two issues and found it really difficult to understand. I am a huge fan of the Flash, but he is by no means someone with whom I have any degree of expertise (unlike the Avengers or the X-Men, which are universes in which I'm particularly well-versed) but it seems to me that this title is far more complex than it needs to be. While this is a great title if you are a DC fan, the disappointing thing for me lies in the fact that this title only serves to reaffirm the love that longtime fans already have for Barry Allen rather than to spark new interest in newer fans who've never encountered the character or had a chance to develop that love.

You may be wondering how I managed to spend so much money considering I only bought 10 comics this week. Well, thanks to DC Direct here's why:

If that isn't the fevered dreams of a nerd, I don't know what is :o)
Happy reading!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Review

On my weekly friend comic-run (I go at least twice a week to the comic store. Once on Wednesday by myself to pick up my monthly titles, and on Sunday with my friends) I generally pick up trades that spark my interest and this past week it was the paperback for David Petersen's Mouse Guard Fall 1152. Now the premise behind this book is simple enough, yet it's so incredibly charming. But let's make this simple, we'll start with:

What was Good.

The concept. What a fun idea. Admittedly it isn't that unique (for those of us who grew up loving the Secret of Nimh) but the execution is wonderful. In Mouse Guard we are ushered into a world within a world. Mice are so small that they've developed their own culture right under us. Their cities are built underneath fallen trees or within rock quarries; they cannot live in the open for fear of becoming easy prey for owls, foxes, snakes and other natural predators. The Mouse Guard serve, not only as protectors of these cities from these outside threats, but also as the brave soldiers who take on the task of traveling between cities as scouts, messengers and trailblazers. Plus these mice wield swords, and who isn't slightly curious to see the little buggers doing that?

The artwork and atmosphere. Petersen has such a crisp artistic style that, though he's working within a very fantastical realm, is anchored quite firmly in reality. These mice, aside from the cloaks they wear, look like real mice. The only drawback to this is the fact that, aside from the difference in fur color between each mouse, it's virtually impossible to tell them apart. Looking at the above image of the cover we see, from left to right, Lieam, Kenzie, and Saxon and you can see there is little to physically distinguish them. The atmosphere is dark, as one might expect in a world inhabited by mice, but it also reflects the year the story is set in. This was the year of Henry II of England and Louis VII of France, long before their more famous successors, Henry VIII and the Sun King Louis XIV. This is a world deeply set in what we anachronistically refer to as the "middle ages" or the medieval period; it is a culture that is in a constant struggle to exist.

The plot. Without offering too many spoilers, a small band of guardsman, while on a routine mission to find a mission grain merchant, uncover a plot to overthrow the Mouse Guard. Along the way they encounter a lost hero of wars past, as well as lose a valuable ally and stalwart friend. At the heart it is a story of betrayal and redemption. Of bravery and sacrifice. It is the makings of an epic on the smallest of scales.

What I felt could use improvement.

The dialogue. Or, to be fair, the lack thereof. I love comics, don't get me wrong. The blending of words and images is probably the best concept invented, but for me I place the words on a slightly higher plain than I do the images. I read Mouse Guard in about 15 minutes, and it's 200 pages. There just wasn't enough dialogue for me. Petersen certainly tends to rely more primarily on images to convey his story, but I feel that more dialogue would have given a far more distinct voice to each of the main characters, who at times came off as cliche. Lieam as the impetuous youth, Kenzie as the cautious and experienced guardsman, and Saxon as, well, another impetuous individual. It wasn't until close to the end where I felt Lieam's distinct personality started to surface. The sequel to this, Mouse Guard Winter 1152, which takes place shortly after the events in this book will be wrapping by the end of this summer, and once the trade comes out I'll offer another review, and hopefully in Winter 1152 the characters will be a little more fleshed out.

All in all I highly recommend this book. My friends were very surprised by my choice to pick this book up since I generally stay within my comfort zone of tights and capes, but there's a certain charm to the book that will make most willing readers instantly fall in love.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday Comics: June 3rd, 2009

I bid you welcome my weary comic pilgrim to this humble nerd abode for another edition of Wednesday comics. Not any overly heavy week in terms of volume, but certainly the quality was high. In no particular order, here's my pull list this week:
Ultimate Spider-Man #133
Dark Avengers #5
Mighty Avengers #25
War of Kings #4
New Avengers: The Reunion #4
Ultimatum #4
Black Panther #5
New Mutants #2
Agents of Atlas #6
Captain Britain and MI13 Annual
Batman and Robin #1
Secret Six #10
Superman: World of New Krypton #4
The Authority #11

There were several titles I was looking forward to reading with great anticipation this week, as well as one title I nervously awaited the debut of, not because it was something I was optimistically looking forward to, but because I had a great degree of apprehension and numerous reservations about the potential for nearly unfathomable suckage. That's right, the "esteemed" writer Grant Morrison decided to unleash even more of his nigh incomprehensible gobbledy-gook on a poor and unsuspecting mass of innocent comic book aficionados who yearn for nothing more than a great Batman yarn. My problem with Morrison is this; it's one thing to have great ideas, but if you aren't capable of putting those ideas down on paper so that they're comprehensible to an audience that exists outside of your own head (that's right Mr. Morrison, you didn't invent the universe so it would be fair for you to assume that most of us do not think the same way you do), then you just aren't a very good writer. What James Joyce is to the world of literature, Grant Morrison is to comic books. Someone who is, without question, a genius, but exists so far inside of his own head that he has no idea how to translate his thoughts and feelings into something that the mass audience can relate to. And after all, that's what this is about. You're not writing for yourself Mr. Morrison, you're writing for each of the goobers (myself included) who are willing to shell out $3.99 every months only to watch you internalize the characters we each deeply love so much so that they become barely recognizable. I can't even count how many times I've read something written by Grant Morrison and after putting the book down feel like I've just failed a test (Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis, Superman Beyond, almost every one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory projects. I mean what in the holiest of fucks was that?). I'm a fairly well-read individual; I read untranslated middle-English poetry, I enjoy the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Byron, Eliot, Yeats, and Stern, and if I'm finding an issue of Batman more difficult to grasp than Eliot's The Wasteland, there's something wrong (can someone PLEASE explain to me what the hell the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was about? I actually feel parts of my soul melt off and turn into ketchup when I say that). Comics CAN be intelligent; comics CAN make relevant social, political and moral commentary; they don't have to be completely incomprehensible to do-so. Now I'm proud to say that, joining the ranks of Morrison's run on the Justice League in the late 90's, as well as his run on New X-Men (though that did have many of it's own problems) Batman and Robin seems like it could be on the right track. Issue #1 hits the ground running, but half way through we do get a sense of how the new Batman and the new Robin work together. This is very much a role reversal, we have a dark and brooding Robin and a lighter, more openly compassionate Batman. It's a unique dichotomy that I think needed a good shake-up. Morrison has said that this title will feature villains who are new to Gotham City, so don't expect this dynamic duo to go foiling the criminal deeds of the Penguin or the Riddler. We are briefly introduced to a criminal element new to Gotham in the Circus of Strange. Though just a glimpse, my worry with these characters is that they're another horrifying nightmare pulled from the depths of Grant Morrison's twisted psyche and reflect a deeply intrinsic examination on the nature of control and blah blah blah.... oh I'm sorry, did you zone out there for a little bit? I'm all for comics with consequences, and deeply seated turmoil, but sometimes it's refreshing to have Batman=good, Joker=bad. We'll see. I give this a tentative 3 out of 5.

The only other DC title I want to touch on this week is Secret Six #10. If you aren't reading this title right now, throw yourself on your sword because, frankly, your life isn't worth living. This book is Gail Simone at her finest. With a cast of unlikeable, wickedly-funny, morally ambiguous mercenaries for hire, this book is DC's brightest diamond in the rough (and with the books DC has been putting out lately, that's a lot of rough). What you can expect from this title is to fall in love with the most unlovable characters, laugh at the most horrific things and know you're probably going to hell, and to top it off, you'll get to experience a writer who understands that all you need is a story with real people, flaws and all, in unreal situations, and a little heart (it's there, trust me). If this very brief of introductions to the Secret Six intrigues you, I suggest you start by looking at their first appearance in Villains United #1, as well as their 6-issue miniseries that preceded their current ongoing title. You won't regret it, and if you do, chances are you can still throw yourself on your sword.

Let's hop across the pond and see what's shakin' in Norman Osborn's world. That's right, the Dark Reign is showing no signs of stopping over at Marvel, which was exemplified by the fact that half of the Marvel titles I purchased this week possessed the Dark Reign banner across the top of the front cover. Being that the Avengers hold the title of my top favorite team, you might expect that I would want to talk about the 3 Avengers titles that came out this week, but such is not the case. If you want to hear me gush about the Avengers, I will do so for you at any time you desire. No, this week I'd like to turn my gaze to the Ultimate Universe. My God what a horse's ass that turned out to be. It was almost 10 years ago when some genius at Marvel asked the question, "how can we introduce new readers to our beloved characters without them getting frustrated by the 40+ years of history that most of these characters come packaged with"? Well, why not make a new universe? Refresh these characters with modern origins, make them younger and more hip. That way it'll be easy for new readers to jump on board! Genius!
10 years later.....
Well, shit. Now all of these characters that we created 10 years ago with no convoluted continuity and tumultuous backgrounds now have convoluted continuity and tumultuous backgrounds. Enter Jeph Loeb. The man has quite an impressive track record: Batman Hush, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Superman Batman. All great DC titles. His Marvel work, however, with the exception of Daredevil Yellow, which was pretty good (not great) hasn't been his best, which leads me to conclude that he's a double agent. He's "working" for Marvel, but really is sabotaging them under DC's watchful eye. How else can you explain his drastic dip in quality? And his work in the Ultimate Universe is the worst. The mentality behind is it, let's just kill a bunch of big characters, shock some readers, and then start over with whatever we have left. A plan with the elegance of a linebacker in heels. Now, I'm not suggesting that the Ultimate Universe was without it's flaws, but the concept just can't work over an extended period of time; you can't create something that is constantly being updated with new entries into it's continuity and not expect it to develop it's own complexity. And senselessly killing off characters is not the way to press the reset button. If anything it makes things worse because you'll turn away longtime fans who've come to love the differences in the Ultimate Universe, and you'll alienate potential new fans who come to the Ultimate Universe looking for a stepping-stone into the regular Marvel U because, at the end of the day, though the Ultimate line was always it's own thing, it still managed to capture the spirit of the regular Marvel U. New readers making the leap from the Ultimate to the regular universe might be shocked by how drastically disparate these two entities have become and in all honesty, the Ultimate line no longer reflects the love for it's characters and for it's stories that the regular Marvel U has always embraced. The callous disregard for these character's existence tells us that the Ultimate universe is not where ideas go to thrive, but rather to die. The one ever-present exception to this rule is Ultimate Spider-Man, a book that captured the heart of Peter Parker and his supporting cast like no other book I've experienced. And with Ultimatum comes an end to this particular era. The final issue of Ultimate Spider-Man was released this week, and it contained no words; the story was conveyed through images alone. In this landmark issue we witness, silently, as Peter's closest friends and loving family come to terms with the knowledge that he is likely dead. I find this particular review difficult to write because I've truly come to love this title; it spoke to me on many personal levels and to see it become a casualty to an editorial decision to wipe the slate clean is a stain I hope never washes off of the hands of the powers that be.

Well that's a wrap for this edition of Wednesday comics! Be sure to check back later in the week for a special review on David Peterson's Mouse Guard Fall 1152, a fantastic tale of anthropomorphic mice engaging in sword fights and general medieval badassery! Who can resist such disease-ridden swashbucklers?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Comics, May 27th, 2009

Hands down the BEST day of the week! In a world constantly plagued by government agencies announcing the latest thing that's out to kill us, celebrities and the moral vacuum they tend to inhabit, and the general day-to-daydouchery that many of us manage to encounter around each and every corner, Wednesdays are the day of the week where my world stops and asks the question, hey, Captain America, how are things in your neighbourhood? Or perhaps, Doctor Doom, I hear you have a new world-conquering scheme you've been cooking up, how about giving us a little taste? So kiddies, let's have some fun. My pull list this week is as follows and in no particular order:
New Avengers #53
X-Force #15
Elektra: Dark Reign #3
Ms. Marvel #39
Guardians of the Galaxy #14
The Incredible Hercules #129
X-Men Legacy #224
The Hood: Dark Reign #1
Avengers the Initiative #24
Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #6
The Immortal Iron Fist #26
Avengers Invaders #11
Green Lantern #41
Justice Society of America #27
Superman #688
Justice League of America #33
Wonder Woman #32
Dark Horse
Star Wars Legacy #36

Now some of you might be saying, clearly this fellow doesn't have a whole lot of financial responsibility if he's able to buy all of those comics in just one week, and.... well, that would be a pretty fair statement. I mean certainly it takes a pretty high level of commitment to read so many things but these have been my reading habits since I was 12 and I can't imagine them changing anytime soon. Now, the point of my weekly Wednesday comics posts isn't so much to review any particular issues, though I will make comments in regards to many of them throughout, but rather I wish to explore what these comics means to me on a far deeper level than simply saying, the Hulk punches Wolverine in the face therefore this comic rocks; if that's all you're taking away from your comic book experiences, then all the power to you but chances are you have the intellectual capacity of an orangutan.

You may have noticed that I listed my marvel titles first, and not only that, but they are in far more of an abundance than my DC list. The fact of the matter is, DC has recently scorned me, and like a scorned lover after the dissolution of a tawdry affair, I hold a grudge. Truthfully I just find Marvel to be much more interesting; they have taken a lot more chances in the last few years, (House of M, World War Hulk, Civil War, Secret Invasion, and currently, Dark Reign) and though not all of them were stories of success, they slept in the bed they made. DC on the other hand, well, they just don't take chances, (Infinite Crisis, Countdown, and Final Crisis) they promise big changes, and yet the status quo hardly seems compromised. Earth was transformed into Apokolips, and yet where is the aftermath for that in any of DC's titles?? And the ballsy move that DC recently made a la Batman R.I.P. well, that storyline was a complete waste of time, and they didn't even kill him at the end. In fact he "died" in issue 6 of Final Crisis (because apparently now Darkseid's omega beams no longer actually kill people, they just leave behind a smoking corpse while at the same time transporting the target into Earth's past. No, they didn't use a condom when they mind-fucked any of us and we should probably all get ourselves checked).

Even if you aren't the biggest Marvel fan, and for a while I really wasn't I was far more entrenched on the DC side of the equation, you've got to give it up to them for sticking to their guns. After poorly conceived stories like House of M (I mean, the X-Men universe STILL feels the ramifications of that storyline TODAY. And that's like 5 years later, which is essentially a lifetime in the comic industry). And once again, via New Avengers, Marvel is shaking up the status quo. AGAIN! And this time their sights are on the universe of magic and one institution of the Marvel universe that hasn't seen a significant change in years; the sorcerer supreme. That's right, there's a new magical mamajama in town, and it'll knock your pants off. And simply because I think it's fucking rad, I'm gonna say who it is. If you don't want to know then do not read the next sentence. The new sorcerer supreme is Brother Voodoo. Look me in the eye and tell me that isn't awesome. I'm not going to say anything else about this simply because it was revealed on the last page, and who knows, it could be a trick, but I like the concept if it's for real. Time will tell. Elektra Dark Reign deserves honorable mention; it has been great so far, in fact, all the Dark Reign stuff is really really good. Now is a great time to be a Marvel fan.

On the flip side the book I was really excited to read in the DC universe was Green Lantern. That is the exception to the rule in the DCU simply because it's written by DC's best writer, Geoff Johns. Green Lantern is certainly the place to be, especially this summer when Blackest Night kicks off, and so far the two Lantern titles have been amping the whole war of lights up big time. In Green Lantern we're currently being introduced to Agent Orange, guardian of the orange light. The light of avarice and greed. So far I've found the Orange lanterns to be the least interesting of the new lantern corps introduced thus far, and I have a feeling that Agent Orange won't play an overly significant role in the upcoming war, which is fine by me. I was also looking forward to reading the newest issue of Justice Society because Bill Willingham, writer of my FAVORITE indy book, Fables, is taking over creative duties, and was dismayed to find a fill-in storyline by Jerry Ordway, which was fine enough, but when you're jonesing for a steak and instead you get Chinese food, an hour later you realize you're hungry again.

Finally, I was very excited to see that the new wave of Marvel minimates shipped this week and I managed to pick up the Bucky Captain America and Red Skull two-pack, though the classic Iron Man with AIM Agent was arguing a strong case. I may have to pick that one up on my Sunday comic run.

By the way, for those of you who may be wondering, yes I've already finished reading this weeks released, I finished like 5 hours ago. I don't mess around.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

God, We Have Good Times.

This is the first post in an ongoing series of posts all sharing the name God, We Have Good Times. Whenever I get together with my group of friends (and you could set a watch to this) Ryan says, "God, we have good times". And we do. In fact, some of the best times of my life. I've never laughed so hard, debated so much, and felt so accepted in my life. Many would probably look at us as a group of misfits, and in some ways we are. I look back at my childhood and, in particular, middle school was difficult; being a boy who had no interest in sports and would rather spend his recess reading made me a target for all of the jock-wannabes and so-called "popular" kids. I'm 24 now and people ask me, why do you still read comic books? Why do you still collect action figures? Even my parents don't fully understand that, for me, comics are about so much more than just a desperate attempt to cling to an element of my childhood. It's because, for all intents and purposes, through all of those times I was bullied and picked on, comics were a realm I could escape to, where it was cool to be different, and, as lame as this may sound, The X-Men and the Fantastic Four and all of those characters were my friends. I read comics to this day not because I desperately seek to remain as childlike as possible, but because comics were what got me through some incredibly difficult times in my life and they mean so much to me that I can't even contemplate letting them go.

Now back to the topic at hand, when I get together with my friends, there's a kinship there, a mutual understanding and, I think particularly between Stacy and I, a shared past. Like me, there is nothing more holy to Stacy than comic books, and like me, he grew up being ostracized for it, and yet looking at him now, he's one of the most entertaining, creative, intelligent and hilarious people I know. He is a testament to the fact that, no matter how difficult your childhood can feel like, it's possible to grow beyond it. The tragedy of so many people's lives is their inability to let go of the past; most of them don't even realize the only one it hurts in the long run is themselves (though speaking from direct and recent experience, some people who choose not to let go of their past can be incredibly harmful to those who are simply trying to love and support them). Sufficient to say, much like I see the rest of my group of friends, I consider Stacy to be family.

So my parents have been out of town for about a week now in Hawaii, and I have the house to myself. Now, my house is very breakable, and my parents are very insular people, so I generally don't have company over too often, so when they're on vacation of course I'm going to jump at the opportunity to host as many nerd gatherings as I possibly can. Last night there was no agenda, which there usually isn't, so we spent the evening playing gamecube (with Mario tennis and Hunter: The Reckoning being the favorites of the evening), this was naturally peppered (heavily) with conversation of all things nerd, and the big topic of the evening seemed to be Wolverine Origins. Oh yes. Because I haven't said enough about that movie yet. I feel very validated in saying that, for the most part, my previously mentioned criticisms were shared by the majority of the group present, with Greg being the only naysayer (his argument that it was ultimately a good action flick; not something I'd necessarily disagree with, but it certainly wasn't a great action flick). The conversation also invariably came to Frank Miller. Now everyone in the world has that one person that, if they were presented with the opportunity, would fill-up one of those easy-shatter glass bottles full of piss and throw it at someone, well, my person is Frank Miller. I think before I did it I would eat just a whole bunch of asparagus (and I don't even like that shit) so my pee smelled really rancid, and then I would heat it up in the microwave so it was nice and warm, and then I'd just launch the bitch at Frank Miller's head and hope for the best. Extreme? I disagree. I'm not going to enter into a Frank Miller-related rant at the moment because there's plenty more blog for that, let's just leave it at I hate the man. Now the night's starting to get a little late and people are starting to get punchy and we're flipping the channel between the tail-ends of Star Trek: Insurrection and Resident Evil 3 and we're talking shop, and somehow Stacy drops the "Cock to balls.... err... I mean Kirk to Bones" joke and he lights up like a Christmas tree. It was possibly one of the best laughs I've ever seen the man have, and I choose to chalk it up to the fact that he was pretty exhausted. We start to call it a night, but before everyone leaves we have an enlightening conversation about sleepless Edmonton trips, the ambiguous sexuality of one of our mutual acqaintances, and another round of laughter inspired by a mis-communique between a dick and a nutsack. I bid everyone adieu looking in anticipation to tomorrow's festivities; it's opening night for the new Star Trek flick and we're all planning on lining up and getting our geek on. God, we have good times.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Let me preface this review by saying I'm a HUGE X-Men fan, and like most X-Men fans, that means I love the comics from the 70's-80's, and the first two X-Men movies. The last few years of X-Men comics have done a lot to redeem the franchise since the incredibly drastic dip in quality that the X-Men took from the mid 90's until around the mid 2000's; ever since Ed Brubaker wrote the epic Messiah Complex crossover which essentially revitalized the stagnant X-Men franchise as well as Whedon's incredible characterization and humor in Astonishing, the X-Men were finally good again. Cue X-Men 3. Oh Brett Ratner, were you aware that by utilizing the concept of the X-Men properly, one would be capable of making relevant social commentary while at the same time entertaining the eye and dazzling the mind? Instead, X-Men 3 was a cornucopia of crap served within a miasma of obliviousness to the source material and disregard to the lore established within the preceding films. As a fan you feel completely disenfranchised; it's not that we need it to be the same as the comics, in fact, that would never work on film, but when the source material is completely ignored, it signifies a deep disrespect for the genre and for the fans (both the comic fans and for the average movie lover who doesn't necessarily read the comics, but appreciates the movie). When you take a concept like the X-Men, a franchise that has been used to explore sensitive topics such as bigotry, racism and genocide, and reduce it to a bunch of guys with flashy powers beating each other up, you end up disappointing an audience who's come to expect so much more but received so much less.

So on to Wolverine. Like most comic fans, I can't stand Wolverine. He's in EVERYTHING. Like, literally. He has something like 3 solo titles, he regularly appears in New Avengers, Astonishing X-Men and X-Force, and pops up very frequently in Uncanny X-Men. So sufficient to say, you get a little too much exposure to him. I was apprehensive about this movie, X-Men 3 really let me down, but my excitement was piqued at last year's San Diego Comic Con, the Mecha of the comic world (where trendwhores from all across the world flock to once a year in order to act like they're legitimate comic fans and not bandwagon hoppers) when Hugh Jackman himself made an unannounced appearance and came with raw footage in hand. From what I heard during the panel, the crowd's reaction was intensely positive and I was sufficiently stoked. Cue anticipation and an 8-month wait, and suddenly there I was standing in-line for a midnight screening for Wolverine with some of my best friends, who I shall now take the time to introduce since we will be encountering them very frequently throughout our travels. The brothers Dooks, Ryan and Stacy, two of my closest buds who I share a love for comics, Star Wars, Transformers and much, much more with (Stacy being the other out of the group who truly gives me a run for my money when it comes to comic knowledge, and Ryan, a veritable Star Wars guru). The lovely Yrol, a movie fanatic with a deeply ingrained love for all things Star Wars, and one of the more enthusiastic and compassionate women I've ever encountered. Cam, the one other person in the group who loves the X-Men as much as I do, Kris, our wayward friend from Banff who is an unparalleled costumer, and Kayla, new to our group but a Star Wars fan through and through who also seems to love Harry Potter for some misguided reason (I kid! Sorta.) And, I'm not gonna lie, it was hard staying stoked because, honestly, Yrol and I were the only ones who were really excited to see the movie. Everyone else was just sorta meh. So finally the doors open and we race in (naturally we were the first in line, because that's how we roll) and we were able to secure our favorite seats, second row from the top and center. I was equally as stoked for the coming attractions because I had heard that the new Transformers trailer, as well as the new Terminator trailer were attached, so imagine my disappointment when neither was shown. I would soon discover that this would not be the first time I was let down that evening.

Before I go any further, I'm going to try to do this without mentioning too many spoilers, but if you haven't seen it yet then it might be a good idea to stop reading here. Just sayin'. So it gets about half an hour in, and I'm hooked. The childhood scene at the beginning was great, and the scenes that flashed during the credits of Wolverine and Sabretooth during the American Civil War, and the First and Second World Wars were fantastic (and man, was I crossing my fingers for a Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos nod, which sadly didn't come, but would have made my head explode), and their subsequent recruitment into Weapon X by Stryker had me hooked. Even the maskless Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, was forgivable because he was just so badass (he cuts a bullet in half with a sword! Look me in the face and tell me that isn't awesome!). So Wolverine becomes disenfranchised with the whole bloodthirsty killer thing and quits the team, moves back to Canada, and shacks up with the super hotty, Silverfox. And let me tell you, their chemistry was not only believable, but incredibly touching. And up until this point I was impressed, they'd managed to take a character that I wasn't particularly fond of, and made me care about him. And that's when the ass fell out of the whole thing. Without going into gritty detail, Wolverine quickly fell into the exact same trap that X-Men 3 fell into; pointlessly throwing in X-Men characters that added no value to the story, and a vacant and almost directionless ending that fell very short of expectation. The final fight scene was so anti-climactic, that it took me right back to Iron Man, which was an amazing movie, with a really bad final fight between Iron Man and Iron Monger. I mean, with Wolverine, the whole movie was about his relationship with Sabretooth; wouldn't it have made more sense to have the giant slobber-knocker be between Wolverine and Sabretooth, not Wolverine and (quite possibly) the worst thing that came out of that entire movie? I mean, the "Deadpool" of mutant powers, really? These are the ideas that Hollywood finds valuable?

Now look, I'm trying so hard not to be one of those Internet fanboys who hates everything, because I really don't. It actually hurts me so much more because the first half of the movie had so much depth, so much integrity, and so much promise, and to see it take such a heartrending turn for the worse was difficult to swallow. I hope and pray that the average moviegoer who pays his $12 ticket price finds value in the movie, but for me, knowing and loving the X-Men franchise as much as I do, I just can't bring myself to like it. If you're a fan of the X-Men, then I recommend going and seeing it and forming your own opinion of the prequel, and if you just want to go see a really great action flick, I suggest waiting until May 21st for Terminator Salvation, which will surely knock your socks off! :o)

Get to know me, start to love me. Let's face it, we know where this is going.

So this is my first blog entry. Ever. Honestly, what have I signed myself up for? What kind of long-term commitment have I agreed to? Will this be where I dedicate the few free hours I have each week? I mean, let's face it, we're all busy people and yet for some reason, there are those of us (humans, that is) who find a deeply intrinsic gratification in being able to share their feelings, thoughts and opinions with the world. But who honestly cares? Moment of truth: I'm 24, and before you all remind me that "I'm still young" and that I "still have my whole life ahead of me" let me share something with you. Most of my closest friends are between 9-13 years older than me, and I love each and every one of them to death, but they never fail in their efforts to remind me that I'm still "just a baby". I've buried friends and loved ones; I've had my heart broken into so many pieces that there were days I thought I would never be okay again, so I'm 24 but that doesn't make me naive, nor does it mitigate my life experiences. And as I've grown older I've started to wonder how much of myself will be left behind when my time is up. I've never been one for keeping a diary or a journal, and I often forget my camera, so documenting my time with pictures usually isn't an option. So Blogger, that's where you come in, and my mission statement reads as follows: this is what it's like to be a 24-year-old male who has no idea what he wants to do with his life and absolutely no plan for getting there.
This blog is about my love for comic books, my passion for collecting nerd paraphernalia, and my personal experiences with being a nerd, but it will also explore my personal life, my job, my education, my friends and family, and my love life, and my goal is to be as subjective as possible. I won't try to cast myself as a hero if I most certainly play the villain in a particular event, because at the end of the day I'm human, and I make mistakes. But most importantly, this is for me. I'm not writing this blog for anyone else but myself. If you chose to take this journey into my very mundane life with me, know that I appreciate the company, but that I do not require it. I will continue to post on here as long as I find personal value in doing so. That said, here I go into the great unknown...