Archive for the Comics Category

Zack Once Again Again: Man of Steel

Posted in Comics, Film on June 22, 2013 by thebigsmoke

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Mostly out of boredom, I posted a fairly long analysis of the Man of Steel trailer back in April.  Looking back, I think my analysis was okay, I didn’t leap to too many conclusions.  The movie was pretty much as expected.

However, there are some talking points, so I’m going to give Man of Steel even more free promotion with a second post.

SPOILERS after the jump.

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Zack Once Again: The Man of Steel Trailer

Posted in Comics, Film on April 28, 2013 by thebigsmoke

To avoid my blog becoming nothing more than a list of records I’ve purchased, I’m going to squeeze in some thoughts on the new Man of Steel trailer.  It’s trailer number three, I think, which means the movie is beginning to run the risk of becoming another Prometheus; where everyone seemed to have seen about a third of the movie before it was even in cinemas.  Anyway, here it is for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

There are a bunch of cool trailers doing the rounds to get audiences excited for this year’s batch of Summer blockbusters.  I can’t say I’m especially excited for Man of Steel, but the trailer is kind of intriguing and raises some interesting questions.

I’m really not a huge fan of Zack Snyder.  He is a go-to director for comic book adaptations and is constantly working on things I should enjoy.  Yet again he’s managed to snag another great comic book project and take the helm.  He’s obviously a gifted director technically and it comes throught that he likes the comic book subject matter, but he just hasn’t been able to win me over.  On the other hand, I love Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, and his involvement in Man of Steel is encouraging.  In the latest trailer, I think you can see the influence of both directors, which is curious.  Snyder is pretty good at handling special effects and I love the look of Krypton and all the associated technology.  Maybe the movie will work if Snyder has focussed on the technical side and allowed himself to be steered by Nolan a little.

After all, the movie has a fantastic cast.  Henry Cavill seems to be a good choice for the lead role.  Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon make for magnificent support.

I am a little upset that they chose to make General Zod the main bad guy over Brainiac.  I fucking love Brainiac.  Michael Shannon is a great character actor, but even he will have a little difficulty following in Terrence Stamp’s footsteps.

Apparently there’s no Kryptonite in the movie, which I’m okay with.  As a plot device it does end up taking over sometimes, as it did in Superman Returns.  Ugh, Superman Returns.

Talking of plot, it looks like they have taken a few tips from the old Incredible Hulk TV show.  I’m not sure how I feel about a tortured Clark Kent bumming about the United States trying to find himself.  Call me old-fashioned, but I like Clark Kent the journalist.  And I mean when he was a proper journalist.  Not a blogger.  Anyone can be a damn blogger.  This post is testament to that sad fact.

And why do all movie superheroes have costumes that look like they have been made from stitched-together basketballs?  I know the Christopher Reeve Superman costume is sort of goofy by today’s standards, but it was more Supermanery somehow.  God, I sound old.

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,013-14 : Marvel’s Man-Thing Omnibus & Michelinie/McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus

Posted in Comics on March 11, 2013 by thebigsmoke

It isn’t too commonly known, but I’m a huge fan of monster comics and swamp monster stuff in particular. I adore the comics from the seventies, especially Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson on Swamp Thing and Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog on Man-Thing.  I already own a few classic issues from these runs, but wow, this omnibus looks incredible.

I also have a real soft spot for Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man work.  I know he’s not quite as fashionable as he once was, but his run takes me back to my teenage years and the excitement I used to feel collecting these comics.  The omnibus of his Amazing Spider-Man work looks incredible.  I can’t decide whether I like the cover with the classic red and blue costume or the symbiote costume variant better.

Note, all of these covers include titles in their final versions, but I thought I’d post the untouched art because it’s so pretty.  There’s actually another Man-Thing cover, but the Olivetti one above is my personal favourite.

Unfortunately, these volumes are pretty pricey.  Fuuuck.

5 comics which should be adapted and 5 comics that shouldn’t

Posted in Comics, Film, Television on January 7, 2013 by thebigsmoke

Arguably we need more comic book adaptations like we need more TV shows about the Kardashians, but I’m going to plough on regardless.

Although comic books have been relentlessly mined for ideas by Hollywood, there are still some books and characters which have yet to be fully exploited.  With this in mind, here are five which I think would lend themselves to great television or movie adaptations and five which wouldn’t.

Comics which should be adapted:

5. Daredevil

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I struggled with number 5 on this list and I know, I know; there was already a Daredevil movie.  However, it was terrible, despite the fact that to me Daredevil seems well-suited for movie adaptation.  Although his powers are fantastical, there has always been a serious quality to the character which could translate well to live action.  Frank Miller’s ‘Man Without Fear’ and ‘Born Again’ story arcs need further attention.

4. Incognito

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This series has a great hook: Zack Overkill is a supervillain in witness protection who finds that his powers are no longer being dampened by the government-issued drugs he’s taking.  After a few good deeds, he finds he has once again brought himself to the attention of the supervillain community against which he testified.  No boring origin story, just a novel idea that draws you in.

3. Iron Fist

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The potential for amazing action and fight choreography makes this one obvious to me.  Plus Iron Fist is just really cool, even if he’s not as well-known as the likes of Iron Man or Captain America.  I put the character a little above other notables like Black Panther and Dr Strange in terms of awesome movie potential.

2. Super Crooks

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Mark Millar’s stuff lends itself well to movie adaptation (Wanted, Kick Ass).  This is partly because he obviously writes with movie adaptation in mind.  If this is unfair then at the very least I think he visualizes his comics as movies as he’s writing, which gives them a unique dynamic quality.  The first volume of Super Crooks was a great self-contained heist story starring a bunch of second tier supervillains.  With the inclusion of this and Incognito, I am maybe a sucker for stories centred on supervillains; but this one is begging for movie treatment.

1. Y: The Last Man

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Ask me to pick my favourite comic book series of all time and Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man is up there.  Literally overnight, every male animal on Earth dies from a mysterious “plague” but for Yorick Brown.  The rest of the series chronicles his heart-rending quest to discover why he was spared and find a way to repopulate the male population.

The success of The Walking Dead TV show there is an appetite for this kind of thing.  Although the two series have several qualities in common, I found Y: The Last Man a better read than TWD, with a more interesting premise.  The series never loses momentum and the ending is completely satisfying.

Comics which shouldn’t be adapted:

5. Nemesis

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Another character-owned series from Mark Millar, and there was talk of Tony Scott filming an adaptation before his suicide in 2011.  My objection to it being adapted: it’s just not all that good.  Leave it alone.

4. Luke Cage

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The original “Hero for Hire” is one of my favourite characters ever, but there was a time to bring Luke Cage to the big screen and that time was called the 1970s.  Seriously, the comic started as a response to the popularity of blaxploitation films (he even operated out of a cinema on 42nd Street) and that’s the kind of Luke Cage movie I want to see.  Modern-day Cage is sort of dull thanks to Brian Michael Bendis’ treatment.

3. Sandman

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I may be slightly prejudiced here, because I’ve never been bowled over by the comics or anything much from Neil Gaiman.  However, Sandman is one of the most popular comic books ever written and has received all kinds of acclaim for its literary pretentions, and I do understand why people heap praise on the comics.  I think the stories work just fine in comics, but try translating it to the screen and you will start to see some cracks.

2. Preacher

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Preacher is on a par with Y: The Last Man in terms of picking my favourite comic book series, but these days I have very little interest in seing a movie or television adaptation.  I read Garth Ennis’ proposed movie script and it was horrible, but even without that wake-up call I struggle to see how the gross out humour and extreme violence which defined the comic could make it to the big screen intact.

1. Justice League

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The Avengers movie showed that superhero team movies can work, but the Avengers are a different kind of team to the Justice League.  What do I mean?  Well, the Justice League has always been a bit of a clusterfuck.  The truth is Superman is vastly powerful and more capable than most if not all of the rest of the team.  Although as iconic and popular, Batman is completely without special abilities and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy seems to show that as a character in movies he is best suited to a more realistic setting.  I cringe when I imagine Christian Bale’s Batman side by side with costumed heroes like Wonder Woman, Superman and Green Lantern.  It works in the comics, but it’s a stretch to make a live action version at all credible.  I know it looks like a cash cow on paper, but don’t bother, Warner Brothers.

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,006-10

Posted in Books, Comics, Film, Music on December 2, 2012 by thebigsmoke

Pretty soon it’s going to be Jesus’ birthday and what better way to celebrate that than asking our friends and loved ones for awesome shit to clutter our lives with.  In no particular order, here are five things on my Christmas list this year.

1. Two-Lane Blacktop, Masters of Cinema limited edition steelbook (Blu-ray)

Although I don’t actually have a blu-ray player except on my laptop, I have a fetish for blu-ray steelbooks.  This one from Eureka is really a beautiful-looking object.  They have used the original movie poster for the cover art and I thnk it looks great.

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The movie, directed by Monte Hellman is a bit of a classic and I haven’t seen it yet myself.  Here’s the trailer:

2. Russ Meyer Collection (boxset and booklet) (DVD)

Er, because I am interested in the impact of Meyer’s fascinating directorial style within the context of modern cinema.  I look forward to exploring its continued relevance.  And not looking at big boobs.  Nope, that’s not it at all.  It’s not the big boob thing.

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3. Parker: The Martini Edition (Hardcover) by Richard Stark and Darwyn Cooke

I love the Parker novels and ever since I started reading them people have been recommending the Darwyn Cooke adaptations.  To be honest, I’m not a huge Darwyn Cooke fan and did not immediately warm to this particular work.  However, this edition is just too beautiful.  It collects The Hunter and The Outfit.

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4. Bernie Rhodenbarr series (Paperback) by Lawrence Block

There are ten books in this series about a professional thief based in New York City.  He’s a bookstore owner by day, a catburglar by night.  I have been meaning to read some of Lawrence Block’s huge bibliography and this seems like a great place to start.

Unfortunately I think most if not all the series is out of print, but I’m determined to read them anyway.  Plus I like the old editions.

5. Ladytron – Seventeen (Vinyl)

There are always plenty of records I want, but right now this is top of the list.  It’s not particular rare or obscure, but I love this track and need it badly.

Here’s the awesome video:

Comic Book Round-Up

Posted in Comics on May 26, 2012 by thebigsmoke

Shit, my WordPress custom CSS subscription has expired. Oh well, black text on white is a bit easier to read, so I’m going to leave it for now.

I have read some intereting comics recently, which made me want to spread the word. Actually, I’ve read tons of comics including all my regulars, but my reading is all over the place and I’ve fallen behind here and there. In fact I have completely lost track on the Green Lantern and Avengers titles, which are my mainstays. Hence, I’m going to ignore them and write about some more interesting stuff.

America’s Got Powers 1 (of 6)
By Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch

Unfortunately, I posted about meeting Jonathan Ross and said I would have to be nice about this title, so now anything positive I say is going to sound phoney and forced. Nevertheless, I shall plough on.

I never bothered with Turf partly because I didn’t find Jonathan Ross all that credible as a comic book writer, partly because it looked somewhat verbose, partly because the premise didn’t appeal. Really, it’s not that I was put off by his writing, because I’ve always been at least curious enough, but I figured it was his first title and I knew he would need to find his feet anyway.

I didn’t pay much attention to the release of America’s Got Powers either, but the Bryan Hitch artwork is a big attraction. I had just had to pick it up after I had an opportunity to flick through its pages. Now I’m really glad that I did as this is a seriously great first issue. It’s helped along by the beautiful art, but there are lots of hooks to the plot and it kept me engaged a hell of a lot more than most of the output from DC and Marvel has managed recently. I will definitely pick up the second issue and unless there’s a serious decline in quality I will be onboard for th rest of the series. I know this recommendation will probably go ignored, but pick it up if you get a chance.

Well played, Mr. Ross.

Secret Service 2 (of 7)
By Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons

I never find myself very disappointed by Millar’s work. Even when it’s not great, like Secret Service, it’s still entertaining.

Millar made a big deal out of working with Gibbon prior to the release of Secret Service, saying he wrote him fan letters when he was a youngster and it was a dream come true to be collaborating with one of his heroes. I can understand that as Gibbons is the guy who drew Watchmen after all. His artwork is still pleasant to look at, but I don’t think it lends itself very well to Millar’s style of writing.

Alan Moore has a dense writing style and broke up Watchmen into very text heavy panels, often with nine panels to a page. Millar on the other hand rarely if ever puts more than five panels on a page. It’s okay, this is the way comic book writing has gone and today’s writers tend to opt for a lighter more reader-friendly style. Millar’s writing typifies this development and I usually like that his comics are fast-paced. However, Gibbons’ strong point is that his art is very clear and he can handle detail. It worked in Watchmen because Moore was asking him to communicate so many little things to the reader per single page. Millar doesn’t ask so much and consequently Gibbons’ art looks blown up and a bit crude. He’s not a dynamic artist like Lenil Yu or Bryan Hitch, artists whose work fits Millar’s writing style much better.

I wouldn’t expect Millar to write like Alan Moore, but he could have played to his hero’s strengths and written something a bit more complex. Secret Service reads like something Garth Ennis might write without putting much effort into it, which is to say it’s fun and full of shock value, but not great.

Super Crooks 2 (of 6)
By Mark Millar and Lenil Yu

This is more like it. Millar doing his high concept thing as he rolls out a super-powered heist story. Two issues in and I am completely hooked on this one.

The first issue introduces failed villain Johnny Bolt, freshly released from prison and looking for a big score. Between the first and second issues he then assembles a string of super-powered criminals in order to carry out a caper, the nature of which is revealed at the end of the second issue. It’s like any good heist story, except instead of looking for a locksmith, Johnny looks for an “intangible” and so on and so forth.

Super Crooks is fresh and the characters are great. Dip, check it out, because this comic was made for you.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 7
By Brian Bendis and Chris Samnee

This title almost deserves its own post given how much there is that could be said. The death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate universe caused a lot of controversy and the letters column of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man continues to provide a platform for a chunk of fans unwilling to accept that he’s been replaced by Miles Morales.

The big attraction of the Ultimate line for me has always been its unpredicatability and seeing what fresh spin the writers and artists will be able to put on established characters. I therefore have no problem with Marvel killing off Peter Parker and replacing him with Miles Morales. In fact, if they had not done so then I would probably still be ignoring Ultimate Spider-Man the way I did previously.

However, having read most of the current line, I’m not all that impressed by the new Spider-Man. To begin with, for all the hype about his ethnicity, if the colourist got confused and coloured him and his family pink I don’t think it would affect the story telling. I mean he might as well be white because his preoccupations are the same as if he were and not once so far has his ethnicity really played a part in the stories or the character’s personal life. So, if you’re going to kill off an established character and add some ethnic diversity to your range of characters, at least go ahead and do it properly. I’m not saying I want to see Morales as some kind of racial stereotype, but it would be nice to see his ethnicity reflected in the story rather than just the colour palette.

In addition, Morales is so damn young. He is more like Spider-Boy than Spider-Man. This is good for younger readers and I loved titles like Impulse and Robin when I was a kid because I could relate to the characters more. However, he’s just a boy, which limits the type of issues the comic can deal with and necessitates that a lot of his behaviour is unrealistically mature.

Ah well, Bendis knows how to churn out readable comics and this is no exception. For that reason alone I will give it a chance and keep reading for a bit longer. Plus I do love the new costume.

Batman 8
By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Just a quick mention for Batman, which is one of the few “New 52” titles I still care about on any level. Scott Snyder’s Batman writing is fantastic and I adore all of the “Night of the Owls” stuff so far.

Now that the dust has settled… The Big Smoke at Kapow! Comic Con again

Posted in Books, Comics, Film, Television, Video Games on May 20, 2012 by thebigsmoke

I wrote quite a bit about the Kapow! convention last year, so I figured I may as well put up a few words about this year’s event.

At first I thought it was less popular than last year, but now I’m not so sure. I think maybe it was just better organised, as they used the multiple layers of the Design Centre a little more effectively. The artists (apart from David Lloyd) were not elbow to elbow with the retailers. The queues were managed well and they had a ticketing system for the panels, so there was no chance of queueing up only to be told you wouldn’t be allowed in. I remember queuing to try and see Thor last year was pretty painful, so I’m glad I was spared a repeat of that experience. I still think the Design Centre only semi-works as a venue, but overall they had made some obvious improvements to the planning.

I got to see Nick Frost and meet Jonathan Ross, which was very cool. Wossy was very friendly and patient with my shitty camera phone, so when I eventually get around to reading some of his comics I won’t be able to be anything but nice. Besides, I witnessed his wrestling prowess and am a bit scared of saying anything which might upset him.

Nick Frost was promoting Snow White and the Huntsman, which frankly looks a bit rubbish. Be honest, when was the last time they did one of these fairly tale adaptations and it seemed anything but lame? It might just about be better than the upcoming Jack the Giant Killer, which I thought was some kind of joke at first. That aside, he was pretty entertaining.

Good times then, capped off with lots of excellent food in great company, some drinking, and watching the drama of the Champion’s League final. I can’t write about Kapow! without mentioning the cosplay, and this year it was just as eye-popping as last. Well done to anyone who dressed up and a personal thank you to female Thor and Loki.

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