Tag Archives: opinion

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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Thai Firefighter Dresses up as Spider-Man to Rescue Autistic Child

Now here is a news story you don’t see every day!  In order to save an austistic child, a thai firefighter dons his Spider-man costume (which he usually uses for school fire drills), and brings the kid a cup of juice.  How amazing is this?  On a slightly mawkish note, this ties in nicely to the moral of the  story in “Nemesis” which I discussed yesterday.  Does anyone remember when cartoons had the moral at the end, I distinctly remember Rocky and Bulwinkle having one, and of course GI Joe had their PSA announcement.  This story really shows what a little bit of ingenuity can do to save the day, and create a real life hero.

(queue moral-of-the-story scene)

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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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The Polar Express

With my new found super-power of mobile blogging, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about something non-comic book related. Actually, I seem to be doing a lot of that this week. The other day I saw the Polar Express, and I’m not sure if I liked it. It wasn’t a bad story, but at the same time it made me a little uncomfortable. The deal with the grammophone kinds creeped me out.
Has anyone else seen The Polar Express? If so, what did you you think?

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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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