Dec 18 2014

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant – Tony Cliff

Very cute idea about a super-cool heroine adventurer who meets up with a rather low-key Janissary (yes, that should hint at the time period) and together they get into all kinds of trouble. The art and coloring were quite nice, but I have to wonder if I’m missing something or many somethings. The intro pages about Delilah made her a really awesome female character and I would like to read those stories, but I’m pretty sure they don’t exists. Part of the trouble with this book is I feel lost in the pacing. Scenes are drawn out, too quick, or reliant on backstory that we don’t have, and the shift in POV throws me (is this Selim, the Turk’s, story? I don’t know.). Chalk this up to a noble effort that failed due to story structure. Honestly, I keep seeing these stories with all the needed elements that just aren’t being put together properly. 

Dec 17 2014

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb – Nathan Fetter-Vorm

If I was a high school who had to write a report on the creation of the atomic bomb, the people involved, the events surrounded it, and the repercussions,  I would be very happy to have this book at the quick. It does a good job presenting the information in relatively basic terms in fair and broad strokes. I did feel that this isn’t so much a comic as, exactly as advertised, a summary backed by illustrations, but I would rather have a comic. 

Dec 16 2014

Battling Boy – Paul Pope

It seems I’m never super-thrilled with Pope’s work and the same holds true for this attempt to start a series about a kid who is sent as part of a coming of age ceremony to fight evil on a plant similar to, but not quite, our own. The art is interesting although Pope’s style isn’t for everyone and sometimes just leaves me cold–although lots of colorful monsters and battles is a pretty good selling point. The trouble is that the comic is reliant on tropes and does very little to breath life or originality into the characters/situations (and don’t tell me that having t-shirts that give magical powers based on the animal pictured on the shirt is innovative because that’s Ben 10 without the watch!). If you put another issue in front of me I’d read it, but as for now I can’t explain the motivations behind most of the characters. 

Dec 15 2014

The Patriot

Mel Gibson failed to show how Jews started this war, despite his drunken claims, “this war” being the revolution of American colonies against the British. Horribly acted and written by those who took no more than a high school US history class. It’s a long movie too. Can’t someone make a not completely terrible movie about the creation of the greatest nation on the planet? It seems that it wouldn’t be too hard and that the American institution of Hollywood might actually wish to.

Dec 14 2014

Endless Wartime – Warren Ellis

WHY?! do I keep thinking that I might like an Ellis comic since I haven’t in forever. One of the great heroes of the super hero comic writing world produces a very boring tale of the Avengers, the super hero team, as they go to fight some leftover monsters of WWII that have been weaponized for the modern world. Seriously, it takes forever to do a poor job of introducing the characters, the plot is nothing particularly interesting, and the action is lame at best. Another disappointment not worth writing more about. 

Dec 13 2014

Trotsky: A Graphic Biography – Rick Geary

Geary presents a graphic biography on one of the founders of the Soviet Union. From his origins as a Jewish, farmer’s son, Lev Davidovich Bronstein, to the amazing propagandist and organizer for the first communist state, Leon Trotsky, Geary does a nice job presenting how he developed and changed, becoming one of the key people that shaped the 20th century. I have to admit, I’m not positive why Geary picked Trotsky to write about; while the work was interesting and well done, I’m not sure I really care that much and find that I enjoy learning about murders–which has been another creative focus of Geary’s work–much more. 

Dec 12 2014

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller – Joseph Lambert

Am I the only person on the planet who never saw The Miracle Worker (I don’t even know if that’s the actual name)? I really was impressed with the story that doesn’t simply focus on the amazing person of the young Keller, but the likewise impressive teacher, Sullivan, who had quite the hard life. Nicely drawn and colored, Lambert does some interesting work with visuals to attempt to represent how the blind and deaf Keller may have mentally pieced together her world (and yes, I know any attempt to use visuals to show how a blind person might “see” the world seems very off) thanks to her partially blind–and very angry–teacher. A well told, amazing tale that doesn’t hold back on controversy. 

Dec 11 2014

Simon’s Cat: In his very own book & Simon’s Cat vs. the World – Simon Tofield

Ok, so these are books about a cat that gets into trouble, drives its owner crazy, and  likes to eat–very original. Apparently this is really a series of YouTube videos, which makes a lot more sense since the art is very cute, but as for a still cartoon (especially single paneled), there isn’t anything here. 

Dec 10 2014

Dawn of the Bunny Suicides – Andrew Riley

I was introduced to this series some years ago and then, like now, I find the simple cartoons about bunnies that kill themselves in various ways cute (yes, that does sound strange), especially the ones that involve pop culture references. However, I never find them funny enough to actually do more than smirk. 

Dec 09 2014

War of Kings: Road to War of Kings

Leave it to Marvel comics to turn a confused mess like the fall out from the Skrull invasion, the Shi’ar coup, and a lot of random long lost relatives coming into existence and turn it into an even bigger mess. The Inhumans leave Earth (again) and join the Kree Empire while the Shi’ar are controled by an insane former X-Man and all the various empires are set to destroy each other. Forget it. 

Dec 08 2014

Shaolin Soccer

Down and out Kung-Fu masters decide to get their lives back together and teach the world about martial arts through the international medium of soccer. Yeah, I know, but it actually has some absolutely hilarious parts. Admittedly it drags at times, yet it is still worth watching, especially if you can still see it here.

Dec 07 2014


What a great idea to give a bio of the amazing Jewish kid who became the greatest magician ever and a debunker of frauds who prey on those who long to contact the dead, etc. (too bad we still have such frauds today). What a horrible idea to have Adrien Brody give monotone voice overs and give away so many of the secrets on how Houdini did his magic.

Dec 06 2014

Muppets: The Four Seasons

Roger Langridge clearly loves the old Muppet Show and he gets the characters and the humor down near perfectly. While not as good as his first go around with this gang, The Four Seasons was fun and entertaining (if a bit brief). It follows the Muppets as they pass through a year of loves, laughs, and longings in the inimitable fuzzy puppet fashion. Fluffy and fun if ultimately somewhat forgettable.

Dec 05 2014

The Adventures of Tintin & Tintin: Inside Herge’s Cartoon Archives

This is the movie version of the Tintin adventure The Secret of the Unicorn, which was the first, and perhaps my favorite, Tintin adventure comic. Tintin written by the racists Herge, is about a journalist in about the 1930s of the same name (and by journalist I apparently mean someone who never writes anything down), with his super clever dog, who is friends with twin dimwitted detectives and goes (or maybe gets sucked into) adventures, solving various mysteries. In this one he teams up with a drunken sea captain to hunt down lost treasure and right ancient wrongs. I found the stories likable as a kid although I haven’t read any for a long time, and actually thought the film was pretty good and pretty accurate to the comic, up until about 45 minutes in when the fun, silly aspects turned to pointlessly ridiculous. I also feel the comic illustration is superior to the strange CGI animation being done here–presumable many agree as I’ve heard of no other films attempting this style, or more to the point, any additional Tintin movies under production. Oh, well, there are always the comics. 

I’m adding  a quick review of an equally quick film about the history of Tintin and Herge as I think it is important to know “little” things such as a Chinese man named Chang, who would show up in one of his comics, was the person who really taught Herge how to draw (and via him, half of Europe’s comic artists) and to take the Tintin comics into a more developed story line. This really was very enlightening for only 25 minutes! 

Dec 04 2014

Captain Philips

I knew all about this story from a TV documentary about it, so I was in a position to poke holes in the whole thing, such as non-existant relations that developed over the course of the movie between characters, but you have to understand that it is a film and certain plot developments are considered needed. In sum, the story is about a captain (named Philips if you can believe it) that has his cargo vessel hijacked by Somali pirates. It’s interesting to see how hostage situations can deteriorate when a group of poorly trained individuals with guns and drugs are met with a situation beyond their control. I would like to know more about the details on how various parties implement tactics based on training and situations, and the movie does give some of this, but not enough to make me understand the hows and whys. Probably too long of a film, although very interesting at points, and took longer than portrayed on film, which I think undermined the story and why I suggest you look at the documentary (perhaps instead of?). It really annoyed me that the subtitles were so small. As an aside, it is interesting that the US will spend millions on an operation to rescue one man–and I am not saying they shouldn’t!–but the idea of spending a faction of that price to save the lives of poor America is considered insane.

Dec 03 2014

Daredevil (vol. 1) – Mark Waid

The blind vigilante with heightened senses is back and trying to put his life back together after being outed as a superhero. Waid does some nice twists for the character having him take on villains that make perfect sense for him to fight even if I’ve never seen it before (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it). I can’t say the writing is great, but considering the nonsense that authors have been forcing on DD for so many years now, it is great to see him doing some actual, generic, crime fighting. 

Dec 02 2014

The Punisher (vol 4): Up Is Down And Black Is White – Garth Ennis

Homicidal maniac mobster Nicky Cavella decided he’s going to be the one to kill the homicidal maniac vigilante The Punisher by first pissing him off by pissing on the corpses of his family. Naturally, The Punisher doesn’t take kindly to this and the body count piles up. In the middle of all this comes some faces from the past to help ol’ Pun out. The problem with this story is that it tries to make a statement about our pasts catching up with us and how things rarely turn out as we expect, but this message is largely told to us point blank. I feel for a theme to be successful it needs to come across naturally and not through exposition. 

Dec 01 2014

Hawkeye (vol 1-2): My Life as a Weapon & Little Hits – Matt Fraction

Last summer I read some other Hawkeye comics and wasn’t thrilled with them. They focused on the Avenger aspect of this crime fighting master of the bow and arrow. These collections deal with Hawkeye more as just a guy who happens to also be an Avenger–and a non-super-powered one at that. With very stylized art from David Aja and some clever, funny (the “hey, bro!” gang rocks), and interesting work from Fraction, I have to say this was the better of the directions to take a Hawkeye comic in. Mostly low key stuff, but a great deal of fun. I do have to report that the last issue just fell apart as no one seems to care about a dead character and Fraction got too clever with his artistic expression, so I had difficulty grasping motivation for the direction the story went in. (Yes, I know that is vague, but it is to avoid spoilers and because I didn’t fully grasp what was happening (see earlier sentence.)) 

Nov 28 2014

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.: With Iron Hands – Stuart Moore

I felt like a read this before, but who knows. The book is about the genius scientist with the super armor, now in charge of the most powerful spy agency in the world (because, apparently, the GOP has convinced the comic world that eccentric billionaires are perfect to run non-profit government agencies). Iron Man must stop a few terrorist attacks and do some soul searching. I just couldn’t get into it, I guess I felt there was nothing really new here in terms of plot or character, or at least not new enough to make me care. 

Nov 27 2014

The Lovely Horrible Stuff – Eddie Campbell

Yes, he’s talking about money. The artist/writer discusses problems he has with fiscal issues, understanding then, talking about them, dealing with them, making more/less of them, etc. and how money tends to mess up a person’s (with the key example being himself) life and the lives of those around you. It is, at times, a very interesting tale, mixing what I assume is autobiographical information with historical accounts–mainly the Yap stones (you probably heard about the giant stone disks that were used by a community in the South Pacific as a form of currency). The trouble is that too often I find myself asking what the heck is going on (made worse by his very stylized narrative and lettering, and far too much time on the Yap stones–it’s not the focus of the story!) rather than relating to what should be a very easy subject to relate to: money troubles. 

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