Thursday, August 23, 2012

Comics Roundup for 8/22/12

Wolverine Annual #1 - This is the third part of a story that went through the annuals for The Fantastic Four and Daredevil.  I picked them all up because they were written and drawn by Alan Davis, and they all feature his creation, The Clan Destine.  I finally got a chance to read the other two along with this one, and I found myself enjoying them.  The main reason is that I liked those characters, and it was good to not only see them back, but to have these stories deal with some unanswered question about them.  I suppose that if I had never read those comics though, I would be pretty disappointed and confused by these issues, as it's really a continuation of The Clan Destine's adventures than the adventures of the FF, Daredevil, and Wolverine.  In fact, I think that I'll be organizing these issues with that now-defunct series.

The Rocketeer:  Cargo of Doom #1 (of 4) - I passed on the last anthology series, but I picked this one up because it tells one continuous story, and it's written by one of my favorite writers:  Mark Waid.  He's a good fit for the character, and this issue was a lot of fun. I like the art by Chris Samnee as well, although it's pretty hard to step into the shoes of Dave Stevens.

Batwoman #12 - I picked this up because JH Williams III returned to the artistic duties.  Even though I'm a bit behind on the story, I enjoyed this - mainly for the art.  It's also cool to see Wonder Woman, and I'm looking forward to this particular team-up.  Insert gratuitous lesbian joke that's insensitive and in poor taste here.

Green Lantern #12 - Fun stuff, as always.  I'm hoping that this upcoming crossover won't strain my wallet too much.

The Amazing Spider-Man #692 - In this 50th Anniversary issue, Spidey gets a sidekick.  While I like the concept, I wonder just how long this sort of a thing can last.  Anyway, the backup stories were pretty fun as well, and my only complaint is that I have to wait one more issue for the return of Roderick Kingsley, a.k.a. The Hobgoblin.  My first regular issue of Amazing featured him as the villain, so I'm kinda partial to him.

Supercrooks #4 - This was a satisfying, but not spectacular, ending to a really fun series.  Leinil Yu does a pretty awesome job as usual.  I wonder if there's going to be a part two to this?  Seems like there's room for one.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Marvel Non-Relaunch

I was going to make this part of my previous post, where I reflected on DC's New 52 relaunch, but I figured it deserved its own entry.  Turns out Marvel has finally announced its answer to the New 52, and it's a non-reboot but an opportunity to launch a bunch of new titles.  Unlike DC, which canceled everything and started everything over again all at once, this is a more gradual relaunching of titles.  Also, much like DC's relaunch, this comes right after a major crossover story, the events of which carry right over into the new titles.

Maybe I'm falling into Marvel's master plan, but I'm thinking that I want to pick up the first issue of pretty much all of these titles.  I'm not sure how long I'll stick with them, but here's what I'm thinking about the characters and the new creative teams so far:

Uncanny Avengers - I haven't read much of Rick Remender's stuff, so I don't have much of an opinion of his work.  However, with John Cassady on art, that's enough for me to check it out.  I also like the concept.  For years now, the Marvel Universe has been feeling much more connected, and as a fan, I like that.  Unfortunately, the X-Men still seemed to inhabit their own little world, and I wasn't really getting any of those titles even though I'm a longtime fan of a lot of those characters.  By actively including some X-Men into the Avengers, we should really get something interesting here.  Hopefully Remender is up to the task of maximizing this potential.

All-New X-Men - Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen have produced some of my favorite comics over the past few years.  That's enough reason for me to pick this up.

Avengers and New Avengers - I'm most skeptical about this one, as I just haven't been able to get into anything that Jonathan Hickman has written.  I know that he has his fans, but I'm willing to give him a chance.

Iron Man - Kieron Gillen has written some really good stuff, and now that they're giving him a major character for him to do his thing with, I'm hoping that we'll see something great from this series.  I don't have a whole lot of Iron Man represented in my collection, but here's hoping that this will change that.

Thor: God of Thunder - Jason Aaron has written some pretty entertaining stuff over the past couple of years, and I like the epic-scale he's using to approach this very epic character.  Should be interesting.

Deadpool - Okay, I've never been that big of a fan of this character, so I guess this is one that I'll skip.

Fantastic Four and FF - I've never been a huge Matt Fraction fan, but I think that I'll at least give Fantastic Four a try, as I've liked what I've heard about what he's planning for this title.

Captain America - Cap is one of my favorite characters, and I pretty much get the first issue whenever there's a new creative team.  It's hard to keep that in mind, as I've stuck with Ed Brubaker's entire run.  Still, even though I'm not that familiar with Remender's stuff, this will be no different.  Just like a lot of the other titles, I've liked what I've had to hear about his plans for the title.  The best bit of news is that he's going to leave the WWII stuff alone, as it's been done to death.  Instead, we'll be looking at other aspects of Steve Rogers' past, including his time during the Depression.  Sounds like it's got some potential.

Indestructible Hulk - Mark Waid and Leinil Yu?  'Nuff said.  I'm all over this one, and it's the one that I'm looking forward to the most.  Let's hope that it's not the one that disappoints me the most, as was Superman and the DC relaunch.

DC New 52 - one year later

Over a year ago, I wrote my thoughts on the DC Comics then-upcoming relaunch.  In that blog, I said that I'd be reading Justice League, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Batwoman, Green Lantern, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman:  The Dark Knight, Batwoman, and Action Comics.  I wound up getting a few others including I, Vampire; Demon Knights, Batgirl, Detective Comics, and Superman.  Some I've stuck with; some I've dropped.  Here are some general thoughts:

Biggest disappointment:  Superman and Action Comics - I dropped Superman several months before dropping Action.  This is mainly because I had a hard time getting into it from the start.  This isn't so surprising in retrospect, now that we all know that writer George Perez was having such a frustrating time on the book.

Even worse was how I lost interest in Action, as it was the one that I was looking forward to more than any other from the relaunch.  Grant Morrison has written some of my favorite comics, and I really liked the approach that he was taking to the character by bringing him back to his Depression-era basics.  Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough being done with that, and the fact that the series couldn't get Rags Morales to draw a full issue beyond the first issue was annoying as well.  Plus, the title started rehashing stuff from Superman's origin that had just been rehashed shortly before the relaunch.  Too bad.  I was really thinking that this would create a significant Superman section in my collection.  Oh well.

Not bad, but not good enough to keep me interested:  The Flash; Batwoman; Batman:  The Dark Knight; Batwoman; I, Vampire; Detective Comics, and Demon Knights - Probably the toughest one to drop was The Flash, as I absolutely loved the art.  However, when I tried re-reading the issues that I had, I just didn't feel very engaged.  I might actually start getting Batwoman again now that JH Williams III is back on art duties, as I feel that the series is nearly pointless without him.  I dropped I, Vampire because it started to cross into other titles, and I just wasn't engaged enough in it to pick up more titles.

Good stuff, but that's what I expected:  Green Lantern, Justice League, Batman and Robin, Aquaman, and Batman - I suppose the only one that surprised me a bit was Batman and Robin, as it was even better than I expected it to be.  Green Lantern is pretty much a continuation of what was already one of my favorite comics, and Scott Snyder had already won me over with his arc on Detective Comics before the relaunch.  I don't absolutely love Aquaman or Justice League, but they're both solid enough to keep me reading.

Pleasant surprise:  Batgirl - I was surprised that I didn't originally have this on my list of titles to pick up.  Go figure that, as it has been one of my favorite books of the week nearly every time it comes out.

Major surprise:  Wonder Woman - I had written that I'd pick up the first issue mainly out of curiosity.  I wasn't expecting this to become one of my favorite titles.  There was a slight hiccup for a couple of issues, but overall I've always found this series to be pretty engaging as every issue seems to keep raising the stakes.  Plus, I love the new take on Greek Mythology which is completely refreshing yet makes complete sense for anybody who's familiar with it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Comics Roundup for 8/15/12

Avengers Versus X-Men #10 - While I like this series overall, I do think that they're stretching the story out a bit longer than is probably necessary.  With that said, this issue was pretty enjoyable, and it's getting clearer and clearer that this isn't even about what the title implies.  When Jean Grey came into contact with the Phoenix, that was bad news.  Seems like the Phoenix is a bad thing in general.

The Avengers #29 - This didn't do enough to fill in the gaps unlike some other issues.  I guess this is why I like Avengers Assemble so much right now, as it's not being forced into following along with a crossover just for the sake of it.

Wonder Woman #12 - Not a great issue, but it's another solid installment in one of my favorite series.  And the New Gods get mixed into things in the next story arc?  Holy crap, but that might make things pretty damned interesting.

Daredevil #17 - Mike Allred guest-pencils this issue, and I really wish that he'd stay on for the duration.  His style is pretty much a perfect fit for this series.  Anyway, this issue makes you realize just how important the friendship of Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson is to this series.  Good stuff, like usual.

Fantastic Four Annual #33 - I haven't read this one yet, as I'm going to wait for the Wolverine annual to come out, which finishes this three part story by Alan Davis, featuring his Clan Destine creations.  It's Alan Davis, so at worst I'll at least like the art.

The Amazing Spider-Man #691 - The Lizard is a pretty one-note villain - or is he?  We certainly get a side of him that we've never seen before with this story.  Maybe Doc Connors isn't completely blameless for the atrocities committed by his alter-ego - and perhaps he realizes it.  Oh, and as for the ending SPOILER ALERT - Holy crap!  Roderick Kingsley is alive!  Like some doofus, I actually thought that maybe it was possible that Dan Slott was going to have him so unceremoniously slain by a new Hobgoblin.  Well, turns out it was his twin brother, Daniel Kingsley, in that Hobgoblin outfit.  (And as longtime readers know, there is precedence for this.)  I was so thrown off by it, and Kingsley's beard, that I had a lapse in reading comprehension for a moment there and somehow thought that this was some third Kingsley brother who was actually the Hobgoblin all along.  A quick re-read fixed that though.  Good stuff - can't wait to see it all pan out.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Comics Roundup for 8/8/12

Daredevil Annual #1 - I bought this because Alan Davis did it, but I didn't read it yet because apparently it's the second part of a story that begins in the Fantastic Four's annual, and I neglected to pick that one up.  Apparently it can stand on its own, but considering that Alan Davis is doing all three parts (Wolverine's Annual being the third part) then I'll get all of them.

Avengers Assemble #6 - I guess this is the kind of thing we'd be seeing in the regular Avengers book if they didn't have to deal with all those crossover stories.  Anyway, this series started a bit slow, but it's a lot of fun now, and it's nice to see the expanded assemblage of Avengers represented in this issue.

Batgirl #12 - Another solid installment, this time with a team-up with Batwoman.  I'd like to see these two team up some more, as they really have their own things going on despite their Bat connection.

Spider-Men #4 - Last issue was action-packed and didn't feel very consequential.  This one was a lot of dialogue, but it was a hell of a lot more interesting as the "real" Peter Parker interacts with the May, Gwen, and Mary Jane of the Ultimate Universe.

The New Avengers #29 - Speaking of dialogue-filled issues, that's all we get from this one as well, but it's still an entertaining story, as we get a return of the Illuminati, only this time with Captain America calling the meeting.

Batman and Robin #12 - Good stuff again in this one, and it was nice to see Nightwing not play into Damien/Robin's little game of "I can defeat all the other Robins" and just declare himself the loser.  I hope that the character stuff that went on in this story arc continues along into the next one.

Batman #12 - This felt like a fill-in issue even though Scott Snyder was still writing it.  Nothing too special in this one, as it deals with people who are unknown to Batman but whose lives are affected by him.  Anyway, looking forward to the return of Greg Capullo on art.

Captain America #16 - Not much to say here, only that this was a pretty fun installment.  I hear that Rick Remender is going to be taking over this title after Brubaker leaves.  I don't know much of his work, but I'm hoping that he'll do a good job.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Batman movies: The Dark Knight Rises

Considering that I've written my thoughts on all the Batman movies (links below) I figured I should write my thoughts on the latest one. There will be SPOILERS, so if you haven't seen it and don't want to know anything, you should probably just skip this one entirely.

I saw it for my second time last night, and overall I have to say that I really liked it quite a bit.  It's probably the weakest of the three Nolan films, but it's not a drop off in quality along the lines of Spider-Man 3 or something like that.  It has a few problems here and there - mostly plot-wise - but overall I think it's a successful film.  Personally, I think that the plot problems come into play because the story runs the risk of being overly ambitious.  After all, it combines elements from several important Batman stories:  Knightfall, No Man's Land, and The Dark Knight Returns among a few others.  Also, it introduces several new characters (last chance to warn you about SPOILERS) including Talia al Ghul, Bane, Robin, and Catwoman.  Plus, you've got all the other supporting characters still playing a vital role in the story including:  Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox, and Alfred Pennyworth.

Let me say a few things about the new characters and what I thought about them:

Bane - We've seen Bane before in the crapfest known as Batman and Robin.  That version had two things going for him that was closer to the comics than Tom Hardy's version:  the way he looked and the fact that he derived his strength from a compound called Venom.  So what though?  This Bane ACTED more like the Bane from the comics.  He wasn't just super-strong, he was super-smart as well.  His ambition was greater than just trying to steal some money and/or defeat Batman.  Also, he was menacing, and the voice that Tom Hardy used was perfect.  And while he didn't have the whole Venom thing going on (which in the comics, he eventually ditched anyway) he did have a weakness that was part of his outfit, although less ridiculously obvious than the actual Bane's.  Plus, what comic book fan didn't love it when he "broke the bat"?

Catwoman - Yeah, they never call her that, but we all know who she is.  I'm glad that they didn't bother with an origin, as it wasn't needed.  It's such an iconic character, and while I don't think that Anne Hathaway changed the way we saw the character in the same way that Heath Ledger did with The Joker, she did an admirable job, and she was believable in the role.

Talia al Ghul - Curse me for a moron for not seeing this surprise reveal.  Bad enough that I fell for the al Ghul reveal in Batman Begins, I had to miss something as obvious as this?  Oh well, I guess it's a testament to the script, which had me thinking that this character was going to play a completely different sort of a role. Was she like she is in the comics?  Considering that she gets it on with Batman, I'd say yes.

Robin - This was hardly a surprise, and I don't know why they didn't bother calling him Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Tim Drake as he was obviously a mix of all three Robins.  It was pretty clear from his first conversation with Bruce that he was going to fulfill the sidekick role.  I don't have a problem with them doing it the way they did, as the idea of a teen sidekick really doesn't work in the world that they created for these movies.  Plus, I wonder what's next for him?  I'd honestly rather see Joseph Gordon Levitt in a Nightwing movie than have him play Batman in a new series of films.

I think that where the film really succeeded was once again in its emotional impact.  It was tough watching Batman getting his ass handed to him, and it was inspiring to see him "rise".  While this one probably had as little screentime for the character as possible, it was obvious that the story was still revolving around him.

As for what's next?  I'd like to see them let it rest for a while and then instead of trying to build on what Nolan did, just take it all in a completely different direction.  There are a lot of great stories that would make for a great movie, including "Heart of Hush" and "The Court of Owls".  Plus, as I've said before, I'd like to see the character have a return to his sci-fi/fantasy elements so long as it's done correctly.

And as for my other Batman film thoughts:

Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight & part 2

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The glory of rocks

My son's second birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and while we plan on having a much smaller party this year, we are asking that people don't bring him any presents.  Instead, we ask that they either contribute to his college fund or donate some money to a worthwhile cause.  We did the same thing last year as well, and guess what?  He still has more toys than we know what to do with.  In fact, we're going to have to clear some of them out before his birthday comes, or we're going to be drowning in this stuff.

Honestly, I haven't really bought him that many toys myself.  I got him a few toy cars a while back because he started to take some interest in real ones.  It was a set of four, and I left two at Grandma and Grandpa's (he spends a fair amount of time there) and kept the other two at home.  I also bought him a toy guitar because he absolutely loves music and guitars.  He already has a few, but the difference with this one is that it had actual strings on it and resembled a real one a bit more.  I think that I've already written about his love of rock music though.

Some other cool toys came from my mother, who lives in Germany.  They're all stuff you can't get here, or at least, I don't ever see them.  They're wood animals, and they seem to be hand-made rather than pressed out in some factory somewhere.  One of them is a little chicken with wheels and a string so he can pull it along behind him.  Those are pretty cool, and they're the kind of toys that date back to a time before advertising and fast food tie-ins.

While on our trip to Washington, D.C., I wanted to bring back a little something for my son, as I remember my parents always bringing back something special for me whenever they went on a trip.  I had this idea in my head that I'd find the perfect thing in Amish country.  I thought I'd find the Amish equivalent of the toy shop in Minden, Germany where my mom got his chicken.  Well, that idea was a bust.  There were some hand-made toys, but they were either ridiculously expensive (not even sure if it was meant to even be a toy at those prices) or something that I didn't see him getting too excited about - like a little Amish boy doll.  (He has stuffed animals, but he's only interested in them when he goes to bed.)

I was at a loss.  My next hope was the gift shops at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.  I started to get a bit pessimistic though, as the more interesting things were the kinds of things that you can get pretty much anywhere - you know, like plastic dinosaurs.  (He once had a lot of fun with some of those while we were at a friend's house.)  Finally though, I found exactly what I was looking for - rocks!

Here's the thing - my son loves rocks.  Whenever I take him out on a walk, he likes to either get out of the stroller and collect a few, or he has me stop and pick up a few for him.  He'll constantly say "A rock!  A rock!" the whole time, and he takes immense pride in holding them.  It's funny to watch him try and hold on to as many as he possibly can while walking, as he frequently drops a few along the way, and then he has to turn around and get them again.  I'm not sure what it is.  Perhaps he's a future geologist.  (And luckily, he hasn't taken to throwing them.)

The thing is, I don't mind spending money, but I hate wasting money.  I really wanted to get him something, but I didn't want to just get him something for the sake of getting something.  With these rocks, with all their different colors, shapes, and textures, I figured he'd get a real kick out of it.

So, what's the verdict?  I brought them out for him when he was upset that Mommy had to go to work.  He instantly changed his whole demeanor, and as I took each rock out of the bag, he'd say, "Thank you!"  He also would frequently come up and hug me.  After that, he insisted on taking them all in the stroller while we went on our walk.

All that for nine bucks worth of rocks.  I would have spent a hundred dollars for that reaction though.

Comics Roundup for 8/1/12

Avengers Versus X-Men #9 - Now this is a bit more like it.  We get a bit more forward momentum here, and the last few issues start to make a bit more sense.  To call this Avengers versus X-Men is far too simple of a title.  Even from the beginning, you had Wolverine and The Beast on the side of The Avengers.  Now?  The X-Men are leaving in droves, as Cyclops is completely drunk with power, which is what one expects when a person is united with the Phoenix force.  Plus, we got to see Spider-Man take center stage in this issue.

Wolverine and the X-Men #14 - I wish that I had read this one before AvX #9, as it sets up what's going on with Colossus and makes the events in that book make even more sense.  I like the art from Jorge Molina as well, even if it borders on being a ripoff of Olivier Copiel.

Hit-Girl #2 - Another fun issue here.  Honestly though, I find the bit where she's trying to fit in at school to be even more entertaining than all the action/adventure stuff.

Hawkeye #1 - I picked this one up on a whim.  It's a pretty nice done-in-one story, and while the character definitely feels like Hawkeye, you get him in a situation that's pretty far removed from his life in The Avengers.  I'll pick up the next issue at least.

Daredevil #16 - And yet another good read.  I've mentioned before how I like that DD is becoming an active participant in the rest of the Marvel Universe, and that all continues with this issue.  Plus, Matt Murdock's life is falling apart once again, so it still feels like a DD comic.

Avenging Spider-Man #10 - Oh, Avenging Spider-Man, I wish I could quit you.  Original writer, Zeb Wells, is coming back for next issue, so that should be good as well.  This was a satisfying conclusion to the Captain Marvel/Spidey team-up from last issue.

Peter Parker:  Spider-Man #156.1 - This is one of those special 50th Anniversary issues that came out, and I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to bother with any of the others.  I was a bit excited because Roger Stern is the writer, but the story wasn't interesting enough to keep me engaged.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


In some respects, I hate being yet one more voice weighing in on this whole Chick-Fil-A brouhaha.  Honestly, I've never had their food, mainly because I live in California.  While on the East Coast last week, my wife and I saw a few while driving to Monticello and again to Lancaster.  We might have given it a try, since we've heard about it from some of its fans, but in light of where their profits go, we opted not to do so.

I don't know if there's really anything that can be said that hasn't already been said, but the deafening stupidity in favor of today's "Appreciation Day" has made me want to clear a few things up.  First of all, let me make it clear that I completely accept and appreciate the CEO's freedom to say whatever the hell he wants to say.  I also don't think that any government official has any right to take away his right to run his business based on what he says and who he supports - although it seems like complaints about that sort of thing are a bit of a tempest in a teapot.

What I want to address is the completely asinine blathering that I'm hearing.  In general, the statements are as follows:

"Why are Christians the only ones who aren't allowed to say how they feel?"

You can say whatever you want.  He said what he wanted, didn't he?  Is he in jail?  Your freedom of speech doesn't mean that you get to just say whatever the hell you want and I have to listen to it like what you're saying isn't stupid.  Plus, I have the freedom to choose where I want to take my business, and I also have the freedom to let everybody know why I'm making the choices that I'm making.

I also would like to point out a couple of things:  1.  Not all Christians agree with this bigot.  2.  Last I checked, I can't walk a few blocks without seeing a church of some sort.  Christianity is hardly some covert, underground movement.

"The people coming out to the Appreciation Day are supporting freedom."

No.  No.  No.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  They are supporting the bigoted and hateful comments of a narrow-minded douchebag who justifies his bigotry with his religion.  Do you know who else does that?  Fred Phelps, who likes to boycott funerals of soldiers.  Is this guy as bad as Phelps?  I don't know.  Why don't you ask some poor gay kid who had to go to a program that tried to make him straight?  (Chick-Fil-A supports "ex-gay" organizations.)

"Why are we bigots just for standing up for traditional marriage?"

Because if you took the time to actually learn what traditional marriage is, you'd know that you don't support that either.  Also, when you tell one group of people that they shouldn't be allowed to do the same thing as another group of people, then YOU ARE A BIGOT.

Man, it's like asking, "Why am I called a racist just because I think that blacks should have separate drinking fountains?  I'm not saying that I hate them or that they're worse than me.  I just don't think they should be able to use my drinking fountain."

"Everybody's a sinner.  Hate the sin, love the sinner."

I've already covered this.

I don't know.  Maybe it's because I've been reading this crap all day.  Maybe it's because I quickly drank two beers with dinner.  Maybe it's because some peoples' heads are so far up their asses that I think that writing this will magically make them yank them out.  The stupidity - it's deafening.