Monday, June 18, 2012
Brad's Week In Dork! (6/10/12-6/16/12)
Comcs! Comics! Comics! That's what took over my Week In Dork this time out. Only watched four films this week and not a single episode of Star Trek or Batman - The Animated Series. Saw Prometheus again. Sigh. And Ghost Rider 2. Double sigh. Sherlock Holmes 2? Freaking love that movie!
But most of the week was spent building up for The Wife's very first graphic novel book club AKA The Ultimate Justice League of Extraordinary Book Club. And in getting her hooked on comics I found myself craving more and more of the stapled darlings. She's been cranking through Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man run and as I saw her catching up to where I dropped off nearly a year ago, I decided that I had to jump back on board to stay ahead of her ravenous reading. And I'm so glad that I did. Sam Raimi's dreadful Spider-Man 3 nearly killed my Spidey enthusiasm, but once I dove into the deep end of Bendis' teen melodrama I was hooked on Peter Parker once again. And where the series is now? Oh my lord, it is so dang crazy good.
However, my pick of the week has to go to Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips' Fatale series. Those five issues killed everything else I consumed this week. If you're not reading this book than you are missing out on one of the finest bits of horror entertainment I've ever experienced. Hyperbole? Maybe. But it's seriously awesome.
And one last thing. After a month's break, I'm finally back to writing my Weekly Western Reviews for cineAWESOME! I returned with the nearly unheard of Alien Thunder and I'll be back next week with the Sergio Corbucci revenger, Navajo Joe. I know no one is reading these things but I love writing into the Western fanboy void that is the Internet.
ROAD TRIP OF THE WEEK!
Greg Proops At The DC Improv: Well this was a shock. My wife had been going on and on about how damn funny Greg Proops' The Smartest Man In The World podcast was, but all I could think of were those Comedy Central reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway and I just refused to believe her. But then she dragged me to the DC Improv on Sunday evening, and dammit! This was the funniest two hours of stand up comedy I've ever experienced. Proops was brutally hilarious, attacking every type of idiot that dared to stand in his way. America is an awful place. The rest of the world is an awful place. How can we stand it? Well, at least Proops is here to tell us how stupid we all are. He's definitely a long way away from goof improvisational prop comedy. And I loved the DC Improv basement. I've decided that munching down on burritos and drinking beer is the only way to watch Stand Up.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Alien Thunder: "Don't Let Him Eat Your Heart." Donald Sutherland is a Canadian Mountie out for revenge against the Cree husband who killed his partner. It's a lot of moaning rage from Sutherland and too much time is spent arguing with diabolical government officials, but the film picks up once the cat & mouse revenge chase takes over and Sutherland is given plenty of room for his soup-straining mustache to scream. It's never going to be remembered as a Great Western, but it's a fun enough oddity for film collectors. For further musings check out my review over at cineAWESOME!
Ghost Rider - Spirit of Vengeance: Hey. This is waaaaaaay better than the original Ghost Rider film, but it fails to live up to the promise of Neveldine & Taylor. For a Marvel Knights film directed by the boys behind Cranks 1 & 2 and starring the great acting mad man Nicolas Cage, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance falls short of the crazy you obviously desire. Yes, every moment the demon biker is on screen is all kinds of gonzo mondo weirdo action and some of the road warrior choreography is absolutely stunning. Nic Cage's snakey skull head movements are fantastic and the rage of the fallen angel is stunning. But when the beast is under control and Nic Cage has to suffer the lackluster plot of the anti-christ son...it's rather dull. Basically, you can't help but anticipate the crazy of the Crank films and if Marvel had the gonads to embrace the hard Crank R than maybe there would have been another violent masterpiece. But as is, this is just a little fun and a little weird. But not mad genius.
Prometheus: Gave the film a second chance in IMAX 3D. The film still looks amazing, and Ridley Scott definitely knows how to work the three dimensions. But the script problems are still there. The characters are two dimensional and never divert from their path of cliches. The third act deteriorates into yet another stalk & slash alien picture. And the film starts and concludes with the same unanswered questions. Why are we here blah blah blah. Still, the movie looks fantastic. And Michael Fassbender's David is wonderful. If only the film took his POV instead of following Noomi Rapace's boring faithful scientist.
Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows: Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes is crazier and more coked out than in the original and I love him for it. His nearly homo erotic relationship with Jude Law is a pure delight and if you're one of those folks that just can't get behind their joy than I've got nothing for you--just continue on with Cumberbatch. Guy Ritchie puts together some rather amazing set pieces with a train assault that truly cracks on and a forest bombardment that completely makes use of that digital slow mo absurdist action. And Jared Harris, what a fantastic Moriarty! The man has a wonderfully creepy stalker vibe mixed with brilliant amounts of snobbish villainy. If you didn't buy in to the first film than the second will probably feel like a bloated beast, but if you enjoyed the original as much as I did than this is more of the same....thankfully.
COMICS OF THE WEEK!
Red Lanterns Volume 1: I really wanted to love this book. The Red Lanterns are a fascinating creation and a great counter for the Green Lantern Corps. But there have been books revolving around villains before (Doom 2099! Venom!) and what usually happens is a whole heap of understanding motivation is forced upon their malicious actions and with understanding comes a softening of their iconography. And it's no different for Red Lanterns. Ed Benes' art is phenomenal and I could stare at his blood spewing creations all day long, but Peter Milligan's script goes too far in excavating these monsters backstories and pitting Atrocitus against Bleez. And the first human Red Lantern? Snooze. His story is shoehorned into the plot and I don't care what's going on with his granddad or his punch up with Guy Gardner. Stick to the beasts, and keep them beasts. More Atrocitus & more of his hateful pet cat Dex-Starr. But I seriously doubt this book is going to be around for much longer anyway.
Kick-Ass 2: A wonderfully mean spirited sequel to an already horrendously dark book, Kick-Ass 2 picks up after the Hit Girl mini series with Mindy shedding the Katanas and trying to be a real girl. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass has joined up with another collection of super hero losers called Justice Forever and they're having a blast batting the kneecaps of small time crooks...until the Red Mist returns from over seas with the massive KGB bodyguard Mother Russia. Much, much, much gore ensues and staring at the horrors concocted by artist John Romita Jr is a real delight even when Mark Millar's story fails to excite. Seriously, this might be my favorite JRJR art; there is some seriously sick glee in his depiction of decapitations and severed limbs. Not for everybody and I'm not even sure I really liked it, but Kick-Ass 2 sticks to its hateful engine.
The Infinity Gauntlet: The absolute height of Marvel insanity, The Infinity Gauntlet sees the mad Titan Thanos attempt to woo the heart of Death personified by blinking out half the populous of the Universe with a snap of his Infinity Gem incrusted glove - eat your heart out Michael Jackson. When Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, Nicky Fury, Namor, Thor, Iron Man, Nova, Firelord, Quasar, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Doom, Drax The Destroyer, Cloak, Scarlet Witch, The Vision, Galactus, The Celestials, She Hulk, and Dr. Strange all fail to stop the cosmic devastation it's up to The Silver Surfer and the golden quaffed Adam Warlock to pry the purple giant from his magical gauntlet. A person unfamiliar with the sometimes bonkers storytelling of comics would probably loose their mind in some terrifying Lovecraftian manner attempting to read Jim Starlin's bugnuts 90s epic, but for the well-initiated The Infinity Gauntlet is a wonderfully whacky saga of spandex and stardust. My only wish was that the Omnipotent Nebula had left the power thirsting treachery to her grandfather Thanos, as the last issue seems to steal some of the Titan's thunder.
Fatale Volume 1 - Death Chases Me: Frankly, there is not another book on the market more exciting or beautiful than Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips' Lovecraftian Noir. What starts off as Detective Pulp quickly descends into the bowls of demonic sacrifice and faustian blood bargains. The story follows three broken men in two different points in time as they fall under the spell of the mystically mysterious Josephine and suffer the violent consequences. Gun Shots and Twisty Stone Knife Stabbings! The art is stunning and the horror startling; some of the best genre fiction happening in any medium right now.
Batman Issues 8-10 - Night of the Owls: Picking up seconds after the Court of Owls conclusion, Wayne Manor is under siege. Dozens of undead Talon assassins break their way into the Bat Cave forcing Wayne & Alfred into the armory. Sucks for the Talons. Dropping the temperature to below freezing and donning another trademarked fire suit, Batman takes the war to the Court of Owls. But will these high society villains fall as easily as their soldiers. Issue 10 of the series offers a startling revelation I would have thought only Grant Morrison would have had to stones to deliver. But Scott Snyder aims for the fanboy's gut and reintroduces a character from the deepest, darkest dungeons of Bat continuity. After a little soul searching, I'm totally cool with the decision. Can't wait for issue 11.
Winter Soldier #6: Sleeper Number Three, Bucky's former Cold War Student, is on the loose! And I'm starting to not really care what happens to the Winter Soldier. I find that realization to be damn depressing. Ed Brubaker's Captain America used to be one of my favorite comics and I'm loving, loving, loving his Fatale but his recent Marvel stories seem to be lacking passion...or at least I'm lacking passion for poor Bucky Barnes. This does seem like the proper jumping off point for this series instead of all that Dr. Doom third person monologuing nonsense from the last arc, and I do appreciate the reappearance of Michael Lark's art but I'm fading fast from this series. Will I pick up the next issue? I don't know. Probably. Maybe I'll connect again, but right now I'm just not feeling it. Of course, this might all read fantastically in trade.
Secret #2: I'm betting this will read great in trade, but I barely remember what happened in the last issue. I will say that I found the story of the two brothers here to be a little more intriguing than that corporate interrogation business from the premiere issue, but I really haven't hit that WOW moment yet for me to start praising Jonathan Hickman's new series. We will see. Art looks good though.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 1 - The World According To Peter Parker: Writer Brian Michael Bendis relaunches Ultimate Spider-Man with the mangafied art of David Lafuente...yeah, not crazy about these designs but Bendis hasn't lost his understanding of Peter Parker. Set six months after Magneto spun the world on its axis and nearly destroyed the world let alone New York City, Peter Parker is still suffering a whole heap of teenage melodrama. Mary Jane has dumped him (again). He's in lip lock with Gwen Stacy. Kitty Pryde is loosing her mind with new found rage. The Spider Woman clone is still swinging around the city. Aunt May has taken in stray cats Ice Man & The Human Torch! And oh yeah, the Kingpin has been rubbed out by the gaseously mysterious Mysterio! The first volume in the new series is just a lot of teen angst but that's exactly what fans of this series are looking for.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 2 - Chameleons: Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends are still trying to get along under Aunt May's roof, but it gets kinda tough when the Human Torch starts making out with Petey's clone. Gross. And hilarious. Plus, Rick Jones nearly blows up Queens when his Watcher gifted powers make him go all glowy. The real threat of the book though comes from The Chameleon, who not only takes over Peter Parker's girlfriend complicated life but also the man behind the Daily Bugle...J.Jonah Jameson. Dun Dun Dunnnnn. The second volume in the new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man has a lot more power to its emotion than I was expecting and you can really sense the doom and devastation on the horizon.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 3 - Death of Spider-Man Prelude: The events of The Chameleon's attack have pushed Gwen Stacy outta Peter's arms but never fear! Mary Jane is waiting in the wings. Geez. All this Gwen/Mary Jane/Gwen/Mary Jane girlfriend swapping should probably get a little tiresome but I'm a sucker for all this ridiculous love triangle stuff. And let's not forget about poor Kitty Pryde...she is heading down a dark Brotherhood of Evil Mutants kinda path. But the prelude to The Death of Spider-Man centers mostly on SHIELD attempting to finally train Spidey, but night classes with Iron Man & Captain America are put on hold when Mysterio focuses his attack on the well-latexed feline burglar, The Black Cat. And what does this all have to do with Egyptian mysticism and the deceased Kingpin of crime? I gotta say I'm surprised by what a threat old fish bowl has become, not the joke he once was in the Hollywood story arc from years back.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 4 - The Death of Spider-Man: Damn. This got to me. I've been holding off reading this book for a long, long, long time and part of me thought this whole Death of Spider-Man thing was kinda lame and you know these things never last and blah blah blah. But Bendis and Bagley (so glad to have him back on the book even if it was for a short run) turned the knife and I found myself kinda rocked by this event book. Even though the return of The Sinister Six is pretty lame (STAY DEAD OSBORNE!) and this arc feels completely separate from all the Amazing Spider Friends shenanigans in the previous volumes, The Death of Spider-Man was powerful. And it was a fine send off for Peter Parker. The kid done good.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man - Fallout: Well, this is just what the title suggests. The characters of the Ultiamte universe attempt to come to grips with The Death of Spider-Man. The best bits center around Aunty May and Gwen Stacy and most of their dialog got my all weepy. Mary Jane is obviously super pissed and ready to take down Nick Fury via the power of the press. And Kitty Pryde is even more pissed dragging Ice Man & The Human Torch into the tunnels of New York City. There's a bunch of other stuff in regards to mutants and evil Reed Richards but all I care about are the Spidey family members. And yes, Fallout introduces the world to the new web head. Can he possibly live up to the reputation of Peter Parker?
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 1: Peter Parker is dead. But that doesn't mean there wasn't another genetically altered spider crawling around New York City. Uh, what? Other than that bit of convenient plot device, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is still loads of wholesome fun. And I absolutely adore how Peter Parker's demise is for Miles Morales what Uncle Ben's death was for Peter--the eye opener, "with great power comes great responsibility." And the relationship between Miles, his father, and his evil Uncle Aaron aka The Prowler is intriguing. But where's the teenage romance? We've got the geeky goofball friend in Ganke but will there be a Mary Jane for Miles? Could it be the clone lady Peter? Don't think it really matters. What I'm really curious about is how this Spider-Man will react to Peter Parker's cast of characters.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 2: Life gets a little more complicated for the New Spider-Man. His uncle, The Prowler has garnered the attention of Mexican crime lord The Scorpion and he's quickly running out of simpleton baddies like The Ringer and Omega Red to practice on. It's about to get real. And word of a new Spider-Man is spreading across the ocean, Aunt May & Gwen Stacy need to emotionally prepare themselves and I'm incredibly excited to see these two worlds collide. But maybe the most interesting aspect of Ultimate Spider-Man these days is that we readers have no idea how these stories are going to play out. No more character and plot remakes--this is completely new territory. Fabulous. Still, one question? SHIELD was in the process of training Peter Parker, why are they not bothering to continue that chore with Miles? Don't make the same mistake twice Fury.
THE ULTIMATE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BOOK CLUB:
Astonishing X-Men Volume 1 - Gifted & Dangerous: Well, our first book club meeting was a rip-raoring success. I am quite shocked (and pleased) that all six members of the UJLEBC seemed to have really enjoyed the first volume of Joss Whedon & John Cassady's X-Book and they all appeared to be interested in continuing on with the story (I know that The Wife & Co-Dork Matt have already devoured parts 3 & 4). But even more shocking was the level of discussion brought forth from the "Gifted" storyline. Once you start talking Mutant Cure and the power of metaphor vs. reality...things got a little heated at a few points. Nothing bad or rage inducing, but it was thrilling to hear folks argue back and forth over whether it was right for Beast to even contemplate curing his mutation. The X Books have always been a stand in for civil rights issues and when you start having folks talk about curing race or homosexuality - damn, be careful with your words. But can mutants be a compatible metaphor for race and sexuality? Beast is devolving, becoming more brute than man? Curing his mutation is not like curing homosexuality...or is it? Yeah, it was a great night for discussion and engorging on cheap Francis Ford Coppola wine. And it all stemmed from a Marvel Comic! Awesome. But will our next pick, Batman - The Long Halloween be as engaging? Very curious.