Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Deadpool #8

It’s so refreshing to see Deadpool with his own series again.  I have to admit, for all my love of Thor and the Cap being such amazing heroes, Marvel has some damn great anti-heroes, most certainly including Deadpool, who always sets off with the intention of selling to the highest bidder, and more often than not, tends to come home with no cash at all because much to his dismay, he did something stupid… like the ‘right thing.’

Lead up to the Story

Deadpool has been engaging in shenanigans as usual, been jumped by random b and c list villains, most recently Tiger Shark, out smarted friend and foe alike, and served up enemies to zombies.  Through all of this, he’s found out that both his friend Bob and Tiger Shark were hired to take him out.  The hit was put out by none other than Norman Osborn, or Oscorp.  Basically, if you weren’t paying attention, Norman Osborn is the new Tony Stark and runs the new SHIELD (called HAMMER).  He tricked the world into thinking he was a savior by killing the Scrull queen, using information that Deadpool got for Nick Fury.  All in all, Deadpool is pissed, and this is part 1 of what we can hope is a good old showdown at noon.

Plot Synopsis

Daniel Way has Deadpool begins his assault on Stark Tower.. Osborn Tower?  I don’t know.  He’s assaulting it anyway (this review is starting to sound more and more like a Deadpool comic).  As I said above, this is the first part of the story arc, called Magnum Opus, and is part 1 of 4.  It starts with just a little back story, and goes straight into action really.  Deadpool initially runs into some robotic traps, steals the Iron Man chest piece, throws some bad hair jokes Osborn’s direction, and begins his ascent.  We are then plunged into a classic Deadpool hallucination.  This one is a Jack and the Beanstalk parody, and although it is only a few pages in length, it falls sort of flat.  Not that it is bad, it just seems to be an unnessessary stopping point in the story, a storyline bottle neck of sorts.  As unfortunately for us that it does, things start going worse for Deadpool when he gets into a fight with his inner monologue, or readers.  I can never tell if the white boxes are supposed to be readers, a voice in his head, and if the yellow boxes are him thinking.  No matter what the case, they’re ignoring him, because when he reaches the top, it’s not Osborn who’s waiting for him, it’s the Thunderbolts.

Art Critique

The art is pretty well done, Paco Medina has the Deadpool look down to a T.  Explosions, guns, action scenes, he can do them with great skill.  Basically, everything that you are most likely to encounter in a standard issue of Deadpool.  Sometimes faces are an issue, and can come out disproportional (for example, see the recap page), but this is the exception rather than the rule.  The hallucination, which I mentioned was not my favourite part of the story, really gives Medina a chance to shine, and he takes it.  Everything is much more comic than usual, and I mean that in two ways.  First, it’s absolutely ridiculous, which is awesome, the adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk is right on target.  Secondly, if you look behind the action, you’ll see that the background is actually made up of dots, as the old comics and newspapers were.  The only major criticism that I have is that when Deadpool takes the Iron Man chest piece, it’s not immediately apparent.  I had to look back and check a few times, and maybe this was intentional, but there could have been a larger colour and size difference.  That said however, the third page or so, the full page spread with Deadpool decked out to assault Stark/Osborn tower is pretty fantastic, it’s always great to see how each artist will render Deadpool fully equipped for action.

Is it Worth Buying?

I would say absolutely, this looks to be a good story arc.  We know that Daniel Way can write a good story, and he’s set it up perfectly for a high action comic in the next issue, with a great cliffhanger.  Even to non-deadpool fans, I would recommend picking up the next few issues of Deadpool.  The story is great, the art is great.  Daniel Way has come into his own with his ability to deliver one-liners befitting Deadpool, with just enough humor, and a few thrown in there that probably only make sense to Deadpool himself.  I will be looking forward to the next issue, to see how the merc with a mouth settles the score not only with the Thunderbolts, but also with the voices in his head.

EDIT: Magnum Opus is Deadpool 8-9 and Thunderbolts 130-131.

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Reasons to Dislike the Watchmen

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I noticed the first time I saw watchmen (the second time I went during work/school hours, and it was empty, something Scott Kurtz might have preferred), quite a few people got up and left.  I’ve been mulling over in my mind not just the obvious “I didn’t like the attempted rape scene,” because any two-bit pundit can do that, but delving deeper into the reasons why some were so appalled by the film that they chose to leave.  So dedicated am I to providing absolute top quality blogging that I have done the unfathomable, I have come up with reasons to dislike the watchmen…

All verbosity and showmanship aside, the question of why people were so affronted or bored by The Watchmen that they decided that they would burn the $10.75 they spent, rather than sit through the rest of the movie is a topic worth addressing.  I mean, c’mon, less people walked out of Batman and Robin than the Watchmen from what I saw!  The first, and most obvious reason that people may have been offended is simply that we as a population are pretty desensitized to seeing breasts, or even full frontal nudity on women.  This movie had penises, and lots of them at that however, none were real though, I don’t think so anyway, most looked CGI or prosthetic.  Pretty immediately you are exposed to Dr. Manhattan, who lives and works in the nude, and let’s be honest, nude men are not all that photogenic.

Moving swiftly and gracefully away from male nudity (or at least, I am, you may linger if you so choose), we move onto the fact that the Watchmen deals with a whole host of generally uncomfortable, or generally avoided topics, such as child murder, more realistic violence, and rape.  Herein lies the true core of why many viewers were shocked by the Watchmen.  The movie-going population has become used to the idea of a superhero movie, we are getting inundated with them recently, and most are fun action movies with some corny one-liners that are really typical of 80’s-90’s authors.  This was an Alan Moore comic turned movie, and a faithful one at that, not V for Vendetta.  This was written as a progressive “in your face” novel.  We are used to bones breaking in movies, but they’re always in a jacket, or the skin doesn’t break.  I’ve got news for you, that’s not how it works.  I have heard many complaints about the scene between the Comedian and Jupiter, about how it was too much, or not appropriate for the movies.  My response to this has been to remind them that this is a rated R movie, and for good reason.  If you’re going to see a movie, and you’re unsure about it, the best course of action is to look a little bit into the subject material first.  A few chapters into Watchmen, and you’ll soon find that it’s not your average superhero flick.

Another general quality of the modern super hero movie is that feeling inside you that in the end, the good guy won.  Today’s culture does not seem to appreciate the old style of film noir.  And the Watchmen goes even one step further beyond that, the Watchmen is ambiguous, it’s not even a cliffhanger.  Nobody has any idea if Rorschach’s journal does get published, or if anyone believes a word of it, it IS Rorschach after all.  Even beyond this notion lies the uncertainty about if the ‘villain’ was evil or not, or even if Rorschach was ‘good.’  Make no mistake, this is intentional, beyond the plot, subplot, and everything else, it is by firm believe that Alam Moore wrote the Watchmen to make his readers question what they saw, to make them think and reach beyond their comfort zone, something we should all try to do from time to time.  In this he was successful.

There is a line in the book, as well as the film, in which a news reporter states that “God exists, and he is American,” he then goes on to say that if this makes you a little uncomfortable, then you should not worry “it only means that you are still sane.”  The same can be applied to the Watchmen.  If the scenes of graphic violence, attempted rape, and child murder made you even slightly uncomfortable, you should know that it’s ok, it means you are still rational.

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Watching the Watchmen

Let me start by saying that the Watchmen was absolutely fantastic, not as amazing or indepth as the novel, but it’s pretty damn close.  I have spoken to many people who saw it and had not read the novel, and I received two distinct points of view.  Either they liked it because of the action, or did not like it due to its graphic nature.  This is something that will be interesting to talk about in the near future, comic book movies have become so closely associated with X-Men and Spider-man that people figured that Watchmen would be another feel good movie.  Sorry guys.  Before I talk about what others did not like about it though, let me tell you about why I felt it was the best movie I have seen in a long long time.

First off, the casting was phenomenal.  I think that directors of comic based movies have learned that comic enthusiasts appreciate more than others that the actors physically resemble their heroes.  This translates into acquiring sometimes less famous actors to play the parts of lead roles.  Just look at Jackie Earle Haley, he did nothing between 1993 and 2006, unless you count working as a security guard, limo driver, or pizza delivery guy.  But he was the best goddamn Rorschach anyone could have hoped for!  Another fine example outside of watchmen, was Patrick Stewart as Professor X, I can not think of anyone more ideal for that role.  Do you have any other examples of good or bad casting for comic book movies?  Leave a comment and let me know, or shoot me a message on Twitter.

On the subject of Jackie Earle Haley, his fit for the role goes beyond merely looking like Rorschach.  That guy can act.  He wasn’t hiding behind the mask at all.  I’ve never had to beg for death, and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t either, but man could he do it, and it was probably one of the most powerful scenes in the movie.  However, another reason he was good for the part was his martial arts experience.  This segues nicely into the fight choreography, which was also amazing.  As someone who has a fair amount of experience (in fighting, not choreography), the fight scenes were pretty outstanding.  If you couldn’t tell, I have almost nothing but praise for Watchmen.

Any ciritism I do have is minor, such as, the director couldn’t seem to decide if Rorschach called his mask his face or his mask.  He refers to it twice, and one he calls it his face, the other his mask.  I am someone who appreciates above all other things, faithfulness to source material.  I prefer the first Lord of the Rings movie to the other two because it is most faithful to the books.  All in all, I would recommend Watchmen to any comic book fan, it is two hours and fourty three minutes of awesome.

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Review: Gears of War #1

Lead up to the Story
This comic is based on the video game for the Xbox 360, is written by Hoshua Ortega, illustrated by Liam Sharp, and published by Wildstorm comics.  It is set two months after the end of the first Gears of War game in which a “lightmass” bomb was detonated at a location called Timgad, supposedly destroying the bulk of the locust (bad guys) army.  The main character is Marcus Fenix, who is supported always by Dom Santiago both have a returning role from the game.  The other characters shown so far are exclusive to the comic book.  Usually I do a plot synopsis section, but this issue can be summed up by saying that they start out looking for guys, find one, and then start their trip home.  Then they get shot at.  Seriously, that’s it.  There’s really not much to it.

Art Critique
Personally, as someone who has eagerly anticipated both games, and played them both to completion, I am willing to say that Sharp has managed to almost capture the dark and gloomy aspect of the game.  The opening is very cool, very modern, with only a red and black pallet, and does seem to encompass the feel of the game.  However, as it continues on through, parts of it just don’t feel right.  Any panel that has a strong close up view looks great, but anything from far away looks like it was rushed, or done poorly.  It’s like some kind of reverse-Monet.  Personally I found it lacking

Is it Worth Buying?
For anyone who is new here, I use this section to discuss things that don’t fit in other parts of the review.  Also, I refuse to give a rating out of ten.  It is my firm belief that comics, like any other art or literary form, can not simply be judged as a 6, or an 8, and to do so does them injustice which cheapens them as a medium.  That said, I did not like this comic.  For the reasons mentioned above; seemingly ‘off’ artwork, and a lackluster story, but also because every other page seemed to be an ad.  While I understand that comics make most of their money from ad space, it really seemed like every right hand side page was an ad.  There were 22 pages of comic, and 17 pages of ads.  Seventeen!  That’s just way too much.  So, no.  I would not recommend this, but if you are a huge gears of war fan, you might appreciate it.

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Review: Green Lantern: Rebirth

Before beginning, I would like to offer up thanks to Crackerbob, Chris, and kcgadiyar who came to my aid in my hour of need.  This was written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, and inked by Prentis Rollins.  I picked up the Green Lantern: Rebirth trade today at the advisement of the above mentioned commenters, and I think I liked it.  I say I think because I had no idea what was going on for the first few pages…. issues… ok, I was clueless for the entire first half but I think I worked it out in the end.  There’s a guy with a ring, except there are lots of guys that could have a ring if the guy dies (there used to be lots of them), but if the guy isn’t really dead or his body might be in the sun but then again it’s in a coffin in the Justice League maybe-secret (I’m not sure but it’s pretty big so maybe not) hideout.  So if there are guys cause the first guy died but then he comes back they can still hangout with their rings…. and stuff.

In all seriousness, I liked it.  Even though I was totally clueless for the first half, it was good.  The story was good once it got rolling, Green Arrow was cool, Batman was kinda a dick.  The idea of the Green Lantern, and the Corps has always interested me, the whole space odessy thing, with all the different lanterns.  It has a Star Wars-esque sort of feel for me, and I really love Star Wars.  I think the main problem for me following the book was they they often refer to each other by their real names, which I am not familiar with yet, but also because there were multiple parallel story lines going on which were all connected, but not in the ways I understood.  Once I went back and re-read them after finishing the book, it was much more lucid.

The Art was very top notch.  Everything was so detailed and sharp.  As I read a comic I often like to stop and appreciate the work the artist has put into each panel; notice which non-dialogue characters they chose to show in the background, and from what angle they visualized the situation.  Van Sciver absolutely delivered in giving me something to look at and be entertained by.  He managed to strike that difficult to obtain balance between having a busy background that distracts from the action/plot, and having a boring background, which really makes a comic seem bland and something you just want to speed through.

I can see that Green Lantern will definately be something I will be picking up in the future.

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YCR Presents: Thanksgiving Day Top 6 Marvel Titles to be Thankful For

Welcome one and all!  Welcome to the latest issue of Your Comic Relief presents.  This time?  Your top 6 comics to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!  Please take the time to comment and leave me some feedback!  It is much appreciated.

6. Incredible Hercules

A title that I am quite partial to, as I am a huge fan of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology, Incredible Hercules took over from the Incredible Hulk after World War Hulk ended.  This issue has been faily reliable in terms of quality.  Hercules, accompanied by Amadeus Cho, has set off destroying just about anything in their path, and while much of this has been Cho’s conniving, it has also been Herc’s unpredictability that serves as the catalyst for their antics.  In fact, watching their interactions is one of the many joys this title offers.

5. Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men had some problems with messiah Complex, it really was just OK.  Not as awesome as it should have been or really as we were promised it would be.  However, the last 6-8 issues of Uncanny have been absolutely fantastic.  Another product of Brubaker’s undeniable, and often simply unbelievable contributions to Marvel.  Now co-authored by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker as of issue 502  My favourite part of the last 3 or so issues have been the (re)introductions of each of the characters in each issue, which the authors have taken as an opportunity to make some much appreciated jokes.  Of the jokes, I think the best one has to be calling Wolverine “ubiquitous,” meaning everywhere at once.  I have to assume this is a reference to Wolverine appearing in so many Marvel publications, I remember over the summer there was a week where he was in every single release, and I’m sure that can’t be the only time – just the time I noticed.  Another aspect of this that I have greatly appreciated is the expansion of Pixie as a character; previously a side character in the x-men B-team, but she is now turning into an actual relatable character.  This, mixed with the recent storyline, allows Uncanny X-Men to make the cut into the Your Comic Relief Thanksgiving Top 6.

4. Cable & Deadpool and Deadpool

I have included both titles in this, because in my mind, the star of C&D really was Deadpool, with Cable serving to create meaningful plot devices and serve as a rational figure by which we could appreciate how utterly absurd Deadpool is.  The last several issues of Cable & Deadpool, the “X and Deadpool” run, while we were supposed to believe Cable was dead.  Did anyone raelly think that?  The new Deadpool series features Deadpool still actively ambiguous about his allegiances, and whether this is a function of his dubious (at best) mental compas, or his ever blossoming psychosis, I don’t think even Marvel Knows.

3.  Wolverine Origins

Written by Daniel Way, and illustrated by Steve Dillon, Wolverine Origins has delivered unique story arcs to us all year.  With guest appearances from Deadpool, Captain America, and most recently Daken (Wolverine’s Son).  Probably one of the best arcs of the year in my opinion was the confrontation between Wolverine and Deadpool.  A matchup that people had been waiting for for years; while they did meet up in Cable & Deadpool, it was overhyped and anticlimactic at best.  This time, it went on for several issues, and really delivered.  This title has had the ability to run the gamut of emotional possibilities, from the more serious aspect of the Cap’s storyline to the sheer ridiculousness of Deadpool.  It didn’t stop there however, the story right now of Wolverine and Daken is a reminder to the seriousness of Wolverine’s past, the decisions he has had to make, and stands in stark juxtaposition to the humor of seeing the Wolverine-Deadpool confrontation through the warped mind and eyes of Deadpool.

2. Iron Man

This title has had its ups and downs as of late.  Back when it was Iron Man: Director of Shield, which was before 2008 if I’m not mistaken but bear with me, it was very hit or miss.  There was some subplot of “Iron Man might be Crazy!!!”  Very hit or miss unfortunately.  However, with the most recent story arc of nuclear threat (which as an aside, reminds me of the Ultimate Iron Man II series of 4), Tony Stark has had the opportunity to return to his self-sacrificing…. self.  If you get right down to it, I firmly believe that this is why the Director of Shield thing didn’t work out so well.  he had too much responsibility that he couldn’t afford to do something that everyone else saw as incredibly stupid.  More often than not, his decisions have been incredibly reckless, but he saw that it had to be done, and he was the only one who could do it, such as defusing a nuclear weapon about to go off.  As with Uncanny X-Men, the most recent story arc really makes this much more of a contender than it previously would have been, not to say that before this arc has been bad mind you!  Also, Warmachine is totally badass, and anyone who disagrees has to answer to giant space robot.  They should pay me to love Ironman and the Number One pick this much, am I right?  Now for the number one reason to thank marvel this Thanksgiving!

1. Captain America

Captain America has been Ed Brubaker’s work this year, and damn does he do good work.  In my opinion, this has been THE title to read this year.  Every issue has just been stellar.  I’m not even sure to begin, and am a little ashamed that this paragraph is so much shorter than the others, but honestly, it’s just all good.  It is always the first comic I read whenever I get it home, bar none.  Bucky is shaping up to be a fantastic new Cap, ant the interplay between Faustis and the Red Skull has been fantastic, with plots within plots.  Agent 13 and Falcon have been well developed, but really, the best part has been how in each issue a little more of the Skull’s plot has been revealed to us.

Well, that’s that.  Those of you that know me may have noticed something.  Where’s Thor? Thor this year has been rather lackluster this year, and much to my chagrin (I’m trying to use that word more often, as I always have to look it up).  And this makes Thor sad:

While there have been some cool Thor tie ins, the Secret Invasion was entertaining if nothing else, the bit that happened about Egypt was pretty cool too, and was a cool insight into how the Marvel universe allows for seperate sets of deities, especially if you read the Incredible Hercules as well, issues like 114-117 or something like that.  But I decided to limit myself to regular titles, and not consider limited series such as Logan by Marvel Knights (which is beyond fantastic by the way), or the numerous Thor extra releases recently.  Once again, let me know what you think of my list, and, if any comic bloggers who are big DC fans would like to do a DC version, I would be honored to publish it, and of course link to it.  Just in the spirit of fairness, I would like to have a DC version, but in the spirit of honesty I don’t know much about DC.  That’s it for YCR Presents, have a happy thanksgiving!

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Review: On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness

Yes, I know I’ve been away again, but graduation/real life will do that I guess, those seeking an explanation may skip to the bottom, but I want to talk about the new game from Penny-Arcade.  On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness, or RSPD as it is often abbreviated, came on the market last week, for a pricey 1,600 Microsoft points (roughly ~20 American dollars for anyone keeping score).  A high pricetag for an xbox live arcade game, however alternatively it can be bought for $20 USD for personal computers, either mac or PC.  The game, which marks the first videogame review on this dedicated comic blog, which runs somewhere between 5 and 10 hours on the first complete playthrough is pretty spectacular.  It is fairly obvious that Jerry and Mike, the creators of Penny-Arcade had a decisive role in the creation on this game, and that they were not willing to settle for anything less than perfection when it came to faithfully recreating the atmosphere portrayed by the webcomic.  This is something that their readers take very seriously, and their work shows through with great clarity.  The best way I could describe the game is, you know that feeling when you’ve been away for a week or two, and get like 6 comics to read at once?  Well, its like that but multiplied by a year or so.  This is a whole lot of PA condensed into one place, and to me, that’s just what I was looking for.  The game chronicles the story of your character, gabe, and tycho as they chase the giant robot with a great desire for fruit.  During the course of your adventure, you will battle fruit loving robots, mimes, hobos, living garbage, clowns, babershop quartets, and even possibly a dark god.  If this does not grab you, I’m not sure what will.  The battle system is a little tricky to work out at first, and the blocking can be troublesome, but once you get the the timing down properly, the game gets much easier.

Overall I would absolutely recommend this game to any fan of Penny-Arcade, as well as to any fan of RPG video games.  The art is what one might expect from a webcomic gone animated, and is very similar to what LFGcomic did, as well as Ctrl-Alt-Del in their animated endeavors.  As good as the art is, the dialog is where the fun is at.  I would probably play this game even if the rest of it were terrible, just to see what they say next.  It’s that good, but not with too much over the top language of the blog posts that accompany each comic posting, and in the case that there is, it is either not important, not all that verbose, or Gabe translates for the player in his own indignant way.  I am eagerly awaiting the next episode of RSPD, and although I feel that it was worth the price, I hope it may be a little cheaper, it probably won’t be.  Gabe/Tycho explained their pricing, and it makes perfect sense.  Achievements on the 360 are well assigned, and are not overly taxing without being incredibly simple.  I am generally adverse to providing an out of ten rating in my reviews, but there is such a convention for it in the video game industry that I will; I give Penny-Arcade’s On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness a 8.5 out of 10.

Ok, as promised, here’s my excuse: I’ve been busy.  I spent the last 4 weeks of college working on paper after paper, not having time to read comics, and now having graduated, I’m stuck job hunting, working, and running errands for my family while I try and save enough money to move out.  This is coupled with studying for the GRE’s so that I can go to gradschool to get my Ph.D, because a base level degree in science won’t get me where I want to go.  I will do my best to return to a normal posting schedule, and am still working through reading well over 200 comics to be caught up in what’s going on.  Also, must to my chagrin, I have been failing to read other blogs because I don’t want to expose myself to unnecessary spoilers.  This said, I know I missed Ebay week, and it is still on, just postponed to start next Monday (for real this time I promise).  Mike, if you could email me your article at yourcomicreliefblog@gmail.com along with any preamble you would like me to attach that would be awesome.  Anyone else looking to contribute should contact me there or via comment.

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