Category Archive: Reviews

Reviews of all kinds

Feb 06 2015

Age of Ultron – Brian Michael Bendis

I really just assumed I would hate this series, to the point that I wasn’t even sure why I read it, but the truth is I did enjoy this. No, don’t think the book is any good: the plot about the robot, Ultron, destroying the world is meaningless (what? You thought the Marvel Universe would end with this comic?), there isn’t much in terms of character development, and the writing isn’t anything special–but thank goodness the typical Bendis pages of monologues are missing, and yet there was something simply fun about an end of the world story. More to the point, I really believe–and this is something I never seem to say–that the book should be longer. If the book was twice the length, Bendis could have added some stories about how various characters dealt with the end of the world and being hunted by Ultron (because scenes with Ultron are actually very few), which would at least make for interesting story arcs even if they would eventually mean nothing. Maybe hearing about how crappy this series was helped me actually not hate it. PS Bendis, certain characters with healing powers can’t be killed by being stabbed, just for the record.

Feb 05 2015

Hawkeye & Mockingbird / Black Widow: Widowmaker – Jim McCann & Duane Swierczynski

Maybe it is because two writers worked on this that I constantly felt that entire panels where missing making the plot, not confusing, but unsatisfying. Someone is killing off spies so our spies: the deadly former Russian agent, Black Widow; The archer, Hawkeye; and the…er what is her thing?, Mockingbird have to save the day. Not very interesting. 

Feb 04 2015

The Silence of Our Friends – Mark Long & Jim Demonakos

Cej did a review of this comic here, and does a fine job of it, so I don’t want to go over the same points too much. Like Cej, I felt the ending was rushed and Nate Powell’s work is better here then other places I’ve seen.  I will say that I picked up on the blind character earlier even if not right away and didn’t feel that Long (the father character, not the author) struggled so much with telling the truth as much as trying to get someone to listen. In any event, you should read this very fine comic to see if you agree with one, both, or none of our takes on the work as it is an insightful piece of history.  

Feb 03 2015

March: Book One – Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell

The Georgian Democrat recounts his personal involvement with the civil right’s movement in this first of three installments. The story is definitely interesting and inspiring as to how a poor black boy could rise above the injustice around him and help pave the way for greater freedom and inclusion for more Americans. He is truly a great American. I will criticize that I would rather read an account of the movement in general rather than “Bob” Lewis’s bio and, as I seem to always complain about, I found it more of an illustrated account when I would rather see a comic. 

Feb 02 2015

42 – Brian Helgeland

This film tells the story of Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers and how he broke the color barrier. Not a bad film, but oddly didn’t have the emotional impact as such a power story should have. Maybe because I can’t stand sports. Apparently, Robinson was not actually the first black player in major league baseball! Something I learned–from all places–in one of those reading comprehension passages in the GRE! Read about it, without any questions to answer, here.

Feb 01 2015

Black Jesus

Jesus is back–and black–and selling drugs with a group is idiot followers. Seriously? Is this why The Boondocks has become a lame show because you’ve been working on this?

Jan 31 2015

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States – Bill Bryson

By just about any account, American English is a pretty messed up language. The question is how did it get that way, and that’s exactly what Bryson wishes to answer. Dividing up chapters by time periods and themes of industrial/cultural innovations, Bryson explains that the American language was shaped by its environment, interactions with multiple cultures, and technological innovations, all of which are unlike any other place on Earth. Bryson is a fine and humorous writer who weaves a mess into a fine tapestry showing the iterative process between a people and their world. The book is not for the faint of heart as there’s a great deal to absorb both in terms of linguistic information and raw history. This is not to suggest it is a perfect book, there are various turns of phrases which I know are rather commonplace and yet are overlooked, especially in terms of urban argot, Yiddish expressions, and computer terminology (although perhaps that last one should be forgiven considering the 20 years since his book was written (a time when the Internet did not truly exist)). Expressions such as clicker for remote control, boob tube, idiot box, and Smart bombs are all terms that clearly fall under topics he has covered and yet are ignored. Additionally, while his scholarship is impressive, there are occasional lapses such as his refusal to dismiss the Kensington Runestone as anything but a hoax. In any event, the book is pretty amazing, and sheds light onto the American character as few books that I’ve ever read does. The perfect gift for anyone interest in history or language or America or any combination thereof. 

Jan 30 2015

Thoreau at Walden – John Porcellino

Using the words of Henry David Thoreau, Porcellino provides extremely simple (and very elegant and appropriate) art, to tell some of the highlights of Walden Pond. I have to say that I am NOT a fan of Thoreau, but I am a fan of comics and this series by the Center for Cartoon Studies has had some great stuff. I’m not going to claim that this work has sold me on HDT, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as interested in his work as this comic has made me. Much better to use this as an intro to the author than anything my high school did, but then again, my high school English teacher failed every exam I took, possibly because I brought up that Thoreau used to send his laundry home for his mom to clean (something also left out here).

Jan 29 2015

Wyatt Earp

What is it with Kevin Costner and the far too long movies about people in the years following the Civil War? It isn’t a terrible movie about the famous lawman/criminal and his family and friend Doc Holliday, in fact the acting was often very good, which makes sense considering some of the fine actors included. The trouble was that the focus was on Earp and his family connections or the lack of them so there was a lot that needed to be done to build up the various relations. After over three hours the movie kinds of gives up on itself and rushes off with a “17 years later” scene! Really? Maybe this should have been a miniseries and then it wouldn’t have had to rush.

Jan 28 2015

The Annihilation event: Annihilation: Conquest Book One

Picking up slightly before the Nova book ends, the reader is presented with a Dirty Dozen/Suicide Squad set up in order to free the Kree from a mechanical infection. The focus is on the former superhero Star-Lord, present day normal human Peter Quill, who was instrumental in helping to resist Annihilus, but is suffering horrible guilt over his time as a superhero, which his war experience apparently wasn’t enough to errase. His team is made up of some of the dumbest characters you have totally forgotten about if you even ever heard of them and they are made awesome! Unfortunately, there is also a section about Quasar/Captain Marvel and her girlfriend Moondragon and something about going to see Yoda and train to avoid the dark side of the force…ok maybe not exactly, although I was too bored to figure out what was actually happening, and when Quasar is fighting the Amazo rip-off and riding a dragon into battle to find Kree Jesus–whatever. 

Jan 26 2015

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Thanks to Kym for letting me watch this film version of the dark, alternate history of the DC universe inadvertently caused by the speedster superhero, the Flash, when he decided to go back in time and stop his mother’s murder. There is a lot of fun things about the movie (although I can’t say how close it is to the comic) in that there are plenty of cameos and lots of action as the world the Flash creates is absolutely horrible. Yet that’s just it: The world is dark for the sake of being dark, and bloody because none of it matters as we all know it isn’t going to stick. Since none of it will really effect the DC universe it would be nice if the writers focused on making it interesting, so that we can have more of a lingering thought on the events past the kick ass. And on a note abut the art, did most of the men look the same to you?

Jan 25 2015

2 Guns

You may have read my post on the original, comic book version here. Regardless, the general plot is that two guys rob a bank, only to discover that they are both undercover government agents and that the robbery is the least of their problems. If they want to have a chance to get out of their situations alive they have to work together and unravel the conspiratorial web they are stuck in. Not a bad movie with some parts better/worse than the comic.

Jan 24 2015

Jane, the Fox & Me – Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault

In many respects this, originally French, book is a charming tale about a young, lonely girl who is dealing with typical problems of being ostracized at school and thinking she is fat. To escape she reads Jane Eyre and images her life as different. Not to give much away, but things change for the better, and that is where my problem comes from with this children’s story. Helene’s–the young girl–life takes a turn for the better with the introduction of a new friend. While this is fine, the message the book seems to relay is that your life can become better if you have a friend. No doubt this is true, but the end result is that the way to beat depression and loneliness is to be lucky enough to have someone just show up in your life and be your best buddy. There is no impression in the story to suggest that an individual can take control and do an action to make themselves feel better about life. In other words, a person is helpless without the miraculous intervention of someone who is happy-go-lucky. Being that I have three nieces, I am actually quite appalled with the just hang on and hope, passive attitude it suggests. Still, the art is lovely, I’m just somewhat shocked that the disappointing message seems to have gone under the radar. 

Jan 23 2015

The Annihilation event: Nova (vol 1): Annihilation – Conquest

More on the aftermath of the Annihilation Wave (and it will get to the point that we will have more for the after than the during, which is disappointing). The last surviver of the galactic police force tries to deal with picking up the pieces and getting back to policing, but he is one and the backlog of problems that were ignored during wartime are many. Having a bit of a breakdown, Nova goes back to Earth only to learn that petty squabbles are all that occupies people (ie The Civil War). This is a rather good story dealing with PTS and the reality that once you have seen terrible things you have a very difficult time deling with the stupidity that others feel are important. This is also a fun dig at the fact that Marvel does some very stupid things that they pretend are important. Sadly, the second part isn’t very interesting to me as–for all practical purposes–the Borg are taking over the Kree and want Nova too. I couldn’t get into it. PS If a character has a scar–especially if you talk about it in the comic–be sure to draw it

Jan 22 2015

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Although Apocalypse has been out for years and is the sequel to this film, I finally have watched it, not that you need to have seen “part one” to enjoy this movie where Batman, Superman, and a few other heroes team up to rescue a kidnaped victim of the evil Darkseid. I’m obviously leaving out details to lessen the spoiler effects, although I will point out that cartoons produce the hottest women–both in terms of looks and attitude. As a random aside, the film begins with a throw away point of unmanned drones watching the streets of Gotham, something that is very much in our own future/present. For the most part, I felt the art and plot were better in this sequel and the movie was bloodier too (which might turn some people off), but did go on a little longer than it should have.

Jan 21 2015

Justice League: Doom

An immortal and immoral villain plots the destruction of the world, but first things first, he must destroy the Justice League so that these super heroes can’t be in his way. But who is really behind the attack on the League? Not a bad film based on a comic of a similar plot. I don’t have much criticism of the movie, but it does make me sad over the ending of the Justice League cartoon oh so many years ago that was such a triumphant piece of television and has not been matched (or even, it seems, attempted to be matched). 

Jan 20 2015

Justice League: War

If you need more reasons to dislike the New 52 then watch this film. DC comic’s reimagining of themselves is pretty dull. Perhaps I’m tainted by the fact that I HATE the new costumes, and am not sure why Cyborg has been added to be the minority representative. The plot is the straightforward alien invasion, which doesn’t mean much as long as you have strong characters, but there was very little to them, especially if you are new to the players. Everyone seems too much of a jokester made much worse by far too overt flirtation (all between the one female character), couple this with the voice actor for the Batman just not working and the ludicrous idea of making Superman a complete jerk. I will say that they did a fine job with Wonder Woman, making her rather hilarious without any slapstick. Overall a disappointing film that isn’t as funny as it tried to be and too reliant on the Marvel comic’s method of “we’re a team, but we’re not friends.” 

Jan 19 2015

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

On a parallel Earth our greatest heroes are super powered criminals. “Luckily” our villains are their heroes and one has come to us for help. Can our heroes, so pressed in defending our world, take it upon themselves to save another? This was a fun film, with some great combat scenes, although you need to have some background to the DC universe to really get much out of it. While I’ve seen this plot many times before, it did have its own little takes to make it unique; however, I greatly disapprove of some of the moral choices that the Batman makes–sorry, this isn’t Vegas, what happens on a parallel Earth doesn’t stay on a parallel Earth. 

Jan 18 2015

Superman: Unbound

I didn’t originally realize that this film is based on this comic. Not that it matters, the movie has a lot more depth and plot, dealing not just with the rescue of the Krypton city stolen by the evil Brainiac but with Superman’s relationship with his girlfriend and with Supergirl (as well as her own insecurities). It’s not great, but nothing blatantly bad. 

Jan 17 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us (vol 1) – Tom Taylor

Apparently, this is the story that leads up to the game (except that there are characters in the game that are dead in the comic, so go figure). The basic plot is that a super villain event triggers super extreme reactions among the super hero community and chaos ensues. It is a rather typical “dark” storyline wherein the heroes take over in the name of justice–which is just as typically flawed, but that never stops people from writing/reading them. The bottom line is that the story isn’t bad and there are some fun parts (e.g., the interaction between Green Arrow and Harely Quinn), but there is nothing that is new here. 

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