Tag Archives: graphic novel

You caught me…

I recieved an email this morning asking why I haven’t been posting as many reviews lately, and if I am “stalling” for some reason.  Yup, you caught me, I’m stalling.  I had a bout of real world-ness to deal with (applying to graduate school, working 2 jobs at 12 hours a day) and just hadn’t been able to get to my local comic book store.  Mix this with my chronic, compulsive need to know a whole story, and as a result I’ve got a whole big pile of comics sitting around, in a huge mess.  Well, in an attempt to clean up the house, I decided it was finally time to really organize my comic book collection last week.  I took a photo to send to a friend, and it is reproduced here.  From top to bottom, right to left, the following comic piles have been organized in such a way that Howard Hughes looks rather commonplace…

At the top is a mess of comics I determined that I had read, so I bagged and boarded them.  Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars: Legacy, Star Wars: Dark Times, Comic News (yes I save them), random bargain bin comics including a number of Alpha Flight, Thor, Marvel Knights publications, Conan: The Cimmerian, two comics featuring Fin Fang Foom (look for a post on this pile!), Wolverine: Origins, X-Men: Legacy, Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Force, my DC pile, Captain America, War Machine, New Avengers, varios Iron Man comics, Weapon-X: First Class, and Deadpool.  The largest piles by far are Star Wars: Legacy and Knights of the Old Republic.  Right now I am wading my way through these comics, and enjoying every minute of it.

So, yes, I was stalling, and I got caught.  But have no fear, reviews are incoming, probably even one today, so make sure you check back at Your Comic Relief for all your comic related needs!

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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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My Reaction to the Recent Batman Comics

Usually I am partial to writing a full blown review of a comic if I want to share my feelings on it with all of you. The last two issues of Batman (673 and 674) certainly merit being reviewed; Grant Morrison is a phenomenal writer, and Tony Daniel does a fantastic job with the artwork, but to be honest I just didn’t get it. I was able to follow most of it, but I found myself skipping back pages, trying to figure out if there was something I had missed or not picked up on. I will admit however, that I am not the world’s largest wealth of knowledge when it comes to Batman, and that might be part of the issue here, but I have never had such a problem following the story before. This does seem to be what Morrison was going for though, as Batman himself appears to be incredibly confused by what is happening, and he is far more intelligent than I, or so I’ve been told. One thing that I was particularly upset by was that I could not tell at times who the speech bubble was directed at, and sometimes, the narration seemed to be part of the dialog maybe? Did anyone else find this? It may be that I am just missing something obvious.

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Review: Sub-Mariner: The Initiative

Prologue: my apologies for the recent radio silence from Your Comic Relief, I have been wrapped up in things relating to Christmas and New Years, I should be able to update frequently between now and New Years, and daily updates will officially resume on the 2nd of January. Just giving myself some room to breath if necessary during this hectic time of year. Now, on with the review!

 

Lead-up to the Story

This storyline takes place after Civil War has ended, and is a continuation of Wolverine’s Civil War tie in. His tie in was focused around finding Nitro, and the discovery of Atlantian sleeper cells in the United States, which were eventually recalled. Essentially, Namor had placed a number of these cells around the country to monitor the populace and government, and to act if necessary. The other important outcome of the story arc is that Nitro, the one responsible for the attacks in Stamford, Connecticut, is the custody of Atlantis.

 

Plot Synopsis and Evaluation

The story itself is a six part mini, written by Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson. They have done an incredible job with this series, the characters are likeable, the story moves at a good pace without becoming too sporadic, and the ending is great. The full story is far too long and expansive to examine in the scope of this post, there are some main points. After Civil War, Namor was pressured to recall all of the sleeper cells back from the United States, and he did so. Suddenly however, attacks are being preformed by Atlantians on American soil, and SHIELD is brought in to investigate. Naturally, SHIELD believes that Namor had not recalled all of his sleeper cells. Sub-Mariner: The Initiative is the story of Namor’s quest to clear Atlantis’s name, and alone the way he has confrontations with Atlantians (isn’t there always political unrest in Atlantis?), Wolverine and Venom, among a few others. The story hooked me almost instantly, and while it dragged its feet a little during issues 4 and 5, issue #6 has the potential to chance the Marvel universe.

 

Art Critique

The pencils are done by Phil Briones, and while some of the characters are not drawn the way we may be used to them – Tony Stark looks somewhat Asian – everything looks commendable. While it does look commendable, nothing really looks exemplary. Like I said, everyone tends to look slightly more Asian than you would expect, this makes Namor resemble some poor bastard child of Spock and The Mandarin. While I was reading through the series however, I was actually too wrapped up in the story to notice it. Two possible conclusions can be drawn from this; the story is so amazing that anyone could have drawn it and I’d have been ok with it, or, that the art really isn’t poor enough to make an impact on my appreciation of the comic. Both are true, although perhaps I’m just oblivious, but I like to think that’s untrue. Perhaps I am being harsh; the art may feel a little rushed at times, and the characters may not be drawn the way we have come to expect them, but the art is not bad by any means. It’s just different.

 

Is it Worth Buying?

Absolutely. As poorly as many believe Marvel has handled many situations, and I agree with several of these accusations, I have been in love with this series, and I feel it exemplifies everything Marvel is capable of. Also, the end of issue #6 has, as I have said, the potential to chance the Marvel universe just as much as Civil War did, see the following spoilers section for more details.

 

SPOILERS:

At the end of Sub-Mariner: The Initiative, all of Atlantis evacuates using the previously thought mythological secret tunnels, and essentially diffuse into millions of sleeper cells throughout the world. Namor takes the Atlantian army to “[his] only ally in recent days,” in Latveria, Dr. Doom. Also, Namor has a son.

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