Monday, August 30, 2010

Ben Grimm isn't sold on this hero thing...

...and he does make a mean pizza pie.

From my favorite Fantastic Four run ever (/sarcasm) by Terrible Tom DeFalco and Palatable Paul Ryan. Maybe they're the ones that should have opened a pizza place...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekend Matinee: VIVA KNIEVEL!

If you've always wanted to see Evel Knievel kill Leslie Neilson, then brother, this is the movie for you.

Quite honestly I'm shocked that this flick isn't more talked about in the circles of bad film snobs. It's got everything: Motorcycles, heavy-handed social commentary, crazy stunts, drugs, AMERICA! What more could you want?

Viva Knievel follows the dramatic adventures of Evel Knievel as he takes his show on the road to Mexico where, between jumps, he stops a drug cartel. From the first scene where Evel heals an orphan just by being in the same room as him, till the final frame of Evel jumping over a fire pit in his suped up motorbike, this movie had me hooked with it's sincere ridiculousness.

I cannot recommend this one enough. If I were you (and I was just a few weeks ago), I'd add it to the queue ASAP, grab some friends and some booze and have a ball with this one. Bonus points if you do a double feature with Stunt Rock.

It was rough picking one clip to show you this week, with options running from the aforementioned Orphan scene, to the a fantastic anti-drug speech from the man himself. But, I thought, that would be spoiling the pleasure of seeing those scenes in context, so instead I opted for something simple: The Viva Knievel Theme.

Good luck getting that one outta your head...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Read Comics In Public Day!

Just a reminder, if your going out today don't forget to bring a comic because it's Read Comics In Public Day.

I know it's easy to feel self conscious exposing yourself like that, but it'll be good for you. Just be confident in yourself and everyone will be jealous they didn't bring a comic too. And be friendly while you're at it, you never know, you could convert someone.

Me? I'm thinking of going to a coffee shop with my copy of Action Philosophers, or maybe to the park so I can reread Scott Pilgrim. All I know is that whatever I read, I want it to be something that I can actively and effectively discuss and recommend if a passerby is curious.

What're you going to read in public today?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Fantastic Three

Apparently Marvel's first family is having something of an anti-membership drive.

According to an interview with Jonathan Hickman earlier in the week, it's his big storyline he's been working towards since he took over the book last year. It's gonna be huge! Drastic! And totally unlike anything the Fantastic Four have ever dealt with!

Assuming you discount the Tom DeFalco run of the mid 90s.

It's okay, everyone wants to forget that run too.

Part of me feels bad for DeFalco. Here's a guy that idolized Stan Lee and Marvel growing up, who fell in love with the witty, innovative stories of the early 60s so hard that the only thing he wanted to do when he got older was write his own. He's like a proto-Robert Kirkman, but without the manifestos.

I can only imagine how exciting it was for DeFalco to start writing the book that started it all. He was going to bring it back to it's roots; make it a book about mystery, intrigue, and exploration. A book that hits the ground running and never stops to take a breath, just like Stan's old stories.

Herein lies the problem.

You see, while Stan wrote his stories at a breakneck pace, he also gave them plenty of time to be people; the kind that his readers, like DeFalco, could identify with. The stories about Attilan, Atlantis, or Annihilus, were just the frosting on a delicious cake of characterization. Defalco didn't quite get that, and instead gave us a big ol'plate of frosting without all that characterization to gum up the works.

To make matters worse, he took over during the gimmick-iest part of the 90s. In short order he made Johnny an arsonist, Sue an exhibitionist, Ben even more hideously disfigured, and Reed a fashion victim (Science vest, to the rescue!).

DeFalco then spiced things up more by: making Johnny's wife Alicia Masters secretly a Skrull; having the ill-fated Dr. Doom heir, Kristoff, on the team's support staff; and introducing the see-X-Men-we-can-do-confusing-too older version of Franklin Richards. It was a rough time to be a fan of The Four.

But the biggest, most daring, drastic thing Defalco did during his six year tenure on the title was kill Reed Richards.

And then kept him dead for the next three years.

It was the ballsiest, most original thing that DeFalco did on the title, even if he didn't take the time to let the characters mourn. It's too bad to, because this could have been one of those classic moments in Fantastic Four history and the set up for a groundbreaking, innovate run that would have made Stan jealous. Instead, Defalco blew right through it, lessening it's impact in both the reader's minds and the history books.

Well except for crazy fans like myself.

So, am I upset that Hickman is doing a similar story? Not at all, I think Hickman will do a bang up job, just like he's been doing for the past year (or so I hear). I think it's a much better creative environment to pull something like this off, and will reverberate through the current Marvel U the way that Reed's death should have in the 90s.

I'm just hoping this time around, the surviving members don't have to be such fashion faux pas.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Bill August 25, 2010

This week was supposed to be a big week for me: Avengers, Spider-Girl (I know), Deadpool Team Up, Secret Warriors, and Prince of Power. Lots of promising books, lots of fodder to write about, I was really excited.

And then stupid Diamond had to go have a stupid accident and be unable to deliver half the books.


Lucky for you though, I still got enough to review. You ready for the big show? Let's do it!

Best of the Week:
Deadpool Team Up #890
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Micah Gunnell

I'm as surprised at this as you are.

I'll be straight up with you guys, Deadpool Team Up is a terrible book; one that I'm always suckered into buying. There's always some awesome guest star that I just can't pass up, but then am utterly disappointed by the results. Issues with FrankenCastle, Hercules, The Ghost Riders, and US Ace all seemed like they'd be awesome, but were just terrible in execution. So, it was against my better judgement that I bought this issue guest starring my favorite non-fleshy one, Machine Man.

I've never been happier at my lack of willpower.

This is what I wanted all those previous issues to be: Funny, action packed, and, most importantly, coherent. You see, most of these issues rely on the initial premise to get them by (Oh look, Deadpool is a trucker with US Ace. Funny, right? Good, because that's the only joke we have for 22 pages) and never really bother to tell a fulfilling story with that premise (Like that horrible FrankenCastle issue. I still don't know what happened). I don't know if it was just the writer (as it changes every issue), or the editorial staff getting more comfortable with the book, or if it was just a fluke, but I wish every issue could be like this.

As for the story itself, it follows Deadpool ('natch) as he's hounded by Machine Man over debts due to the Delmar Insurance Company. Deadpool catches a break when a job pops up for Delmar that will cover the cost of his debts, and hilarity ensues. It's great stuff, assuming of course that you like the Nextwave interpretation of Machine Man. For you classic Machine Man fans (all three of you. HA!) you should probably just go ahead and give this one a pass.

Defacto Worst of the Week:
Avengers #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Romita Jr

I'm gonna get a rep as a major Bendis hater if I'm not careful.

It's not that issue is bad perse, it's just not as fast as I want it to be. Similar to last month's issue, the overall story just inches forward while the majority of the issue focuses on big cool, but ultimately unsatisfying, action shots. It symptomatic of a typical mid-storyarc Bendis issue, where things just kinda percolate while he pads it out for six issues.

Like I said, this issue isn't that bad. While half the team hides from new and crazier things popping out of the time portal, the rest finally run into the supposed villains of the arc. They don't do much, other than call into question who the real villain of the story is, but hey at least something happened this issue. And really, that's the problem, nothing really happens this issue... again.

If this issue and the previous one were combined, I think it would have been great. As it is, well, I won't say I'm not going to pick up the rest of the arc, but I'm certainly not going to feel bad about not picking up the following arc.

What's that? The next arc is about the Infinity Gauntlet? Fuck. I guess I'm on through that arc too, but I'm really done after that!

Alright, that's all I got. If you want to hear me bemoan about not being able to gripe about Spider-Girl (I was so ready to bitch about it!), or hear my opinion on the latest Secret Warriors (in which the title characters haven't appeared in about six months), let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I'll be plotting ways of getting my books in case a Diamond "accident" happens again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend Matinee: FARSAN

Never heard of this movie? I wouldn't be surprised, I haven't either.

This is what I know: it's a Swedish. It seems like it could be a comedy, but it could just be the scene, and it may or may not deal with a man finding his masculinity. I could look it up on the IMDB, but I'm far too lazy for that.

Instead, let's just take this scene as presented: As the best way to make a salad ever.

Now, I believe I have a romantic dinner to make for the GirlFriend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where's The Love for the Scarlet Spider?

Does it strike anyone else as odd that there isn't a Scarlet Spider running around in the Marvel U? And no, I don't mean the Iron Spider, MVP clone that popped up in Avengers: Initiative. I'm talking about this guy:

I know there are many who disagree with what I'm about to say (I'm looking at you Wizard, circa 1998), but: I really dug this costume when I was a kid.

The deep reds, the slanty spider, the exposed webshooters, the belt!; It was awesome! I've always said that my younger self had no account for taste, but this is one of those times that I don't disagree. I've always really liked the design; an under-appreciated classic from Tom Lyle.

So what's with the lack of love?

It seems like most big costume changes eventually spin off into their own character. Spider-Man has a whole litany of spinoff characters just based on his laundry: Venom, Spider-Girl (May Parker, she wears Ben's suit), Ricochet, Dusk, Prodigy, Hornet (WOO SLINGERS!), and the aforementioned Scarlet Spider (Iron Spider suit).

It's a phenomenon that's not just tied to Spider-Man. Check out: Captain America (Nomad, USAgent, Super-Solider [10 bucks says Bucky takes it over this time next year]), Superman (Steel, The Eradicator, Superboy, The cyborg Superman [technically they were people pretending to be him, but whatever it still works]], or to a lesser extent Iron Man (War Machine) and Wolverine (Daken).

Crazy, right? So what's the problem with the Scarlet Spider?

You think it might be the history, but that doesn't make sense. A few years ago Marvel was a little shy to mention all the clone stuff, but the recent Brand New Day stuff has brought Kaine (Peter's deformed clone) back into the fold and at least name checked Ben.

You'd think Marvel is trying to distance themselves from knockoff characters. But then you realize that recently War Machine got a huge push, and currently Thunderstrike is poised to make a comeback. Not to mention Daken and X-23 riding the Wolverine wave. Or hell, all the Dark Reign nonsense when all the villains were dressed as the heroes, giving us two versions of each character.

Maybe they just don't want to acknowledge Tom Lyle?

In the decade (PLUS!) since the scarlet threads were retired, they've only showed up once... In Spider-Girl. Good for Tom DeFalco.

In all seriousness, the ties to The Scarlet Spider was what got me to pick up Spider-Girl in the first place. And then when they flirted with the idea of having someone else pick up the mantle, I was super excited. When it just ended up being a tease, I was kinda done with the whole thing.

What makes this so weird to me is that it's not as if Marvel shies away from the scarlet one when it comes to outside media. Toys, statues, appearances in video games, Ol' Scar-Spi shows up all over the place. Except in the comics.

So I'm putting this out in the universe: I want the Scarlet Spider (or at least the costume) return to the pages of Marvel Comics. It'll take some doing, and maybe some letter writing, but it can be done.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Bill August 18, 2010

I feel like I've been on a good run with books lately. I haven't read a truly disappointing book, let alone a bad one, in quite a while now. How will this week pan out? Let's find out:

Best of the Week:
Avengers Academy # 3
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone

I think I said it before, but I'll say it again: Avengers Academy is everything I wanted Avengers Initiative to be. Finally, I feel like I'm reading about n00bs training to be superheroes, not army grunts, which was the biggest problem with The Initiative. Add to that the compelling characters and the fantastic hook and you have a book I can't wait to read every month.

This issue followed the kids on a crossover with The Thunderbolts. In an effort to keep these kids on the up and up, they go on a field trip to the newly renovated Raft. But of course, some of the kids just want to go so they can exact revenge on certain prisoner. I'll let you guess which one. HINT: his name rhymes with Corman Blosborne.

Of course, the writing is only reinforced by the fantastic work that Mike McKone is doing. He keeps improving with each issue (not like he needs to improve, but you know) and I can't wait until the kids are faced with a big wide screen threat so he can really cut loose.

Disappointing of the Week:
The Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet
Writers: Brian Clevinger and Lee Black
Artist: Brian Churilla

So, this one might not be totally fair, as I am a pretty huge fan of the original Infinity Gauntlet. Regardless, I was pretty excited about this all ages approach, especially because it's written by Atomic Robo's Brian Clevinger. I was expecting something fast, funny, and action packed, but was instead present with... well something that wasn't that.

What makes the original so great is it's sense of scope; it's epicness. From that first issue, Thanos is presented as a Bad mother fucker that you don't even want to get close to messing with. The only way to take him down is via the help of the heaviest of heavy hitters (at least from the ones that were still alive), and even then it was a crap shoot.

With this 'remake' (for lack of a better term), we're not given enough time with Thanos to establish his immense threat level. Instead we see the story through the eyes of Spider-Man as he hams it up with the other heroes, never really giving into the gravitas of the situation.

I get that it's supposed to be for a younger audience, but this just felt... under-ambitious. I didn't want an exact retread, but I was expecting something with just a bit more going on "under the hood" if you will.

That said, there were some nice moments in the book where you could see Clevinger's humor break through, and there are some great cameos (like Sleepwalker! What!?!) spread throughout, especially at the end.

I dunno what to think about this book. I'll have to see what the kids are saying before I pick up the next issue, I think.

There you go. If you want to ask me what I thought of the Thunderbolts side of the crossover (LOVE THAT BOOK!), or how I enjoyed the third part of the Daken/Frankencastle crossover (I don't want it to end!), lemme know in the comments. Other wise, I'll see you kids next time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Review

First things first: Whoever said Scott Pilgrim is Twilight for boys should be shot. Or at least severely beaten. Twilight is a Mary-Sue story about a chick choosing between a dude with weird eyes and an ugly pig-faced one. Scott Pilgrim, meanwhile, is about a dude dealing with his new girlfriend's baggage. No teams, no overwrought drama, just a good old fashioned love story with tons of video game references.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me tell you Scott Pilgrim is one of the finest movies of the summer. It's fun, inventive, true to the source material but unafraid to adapt where it needs to; it's a masterpiece looking for an audience.

I'll be the first to admit that it's a hard sell, and the first twenty minutes don't make it any easier. With the plethora of split screens, on screen graphics, and just general goofiness, the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is unlike any big summer blockbuster before it. However, if you give yourself over to that world and the internal (and sound!) logic of the film, you'll be rewarded with a fantastic story inhabited by amazing characters.

Speaking of, I gotta say I wasn't so hot on the casting choices going into SP, but was blown away coming out. Michael Cera somehow plays a different shade of his typical Michael Cera that's not tired or overplayed and is perfect for Scott. He's loveable, pathetic, dimwitted, but with a good heart exactly what Scott Pilgrim should be. For her part, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic as Ramona Flowers, but really that's no big surprise. She's more bitchy than she has been in her past roles, but she does it really well, never taking it too far so we don't see what makes her so attractive in the first place. Rounding out the good guys, Allison Pill, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, and Mark Webber seem like they just leaped off the page (although, Mark Webber's Stills seems a bit more indecisive than his literal counterpart).

On the other side, the exes are perfectly cast and performed. My personal favorite was Chris Evans, but I might be a bit biased. Each one of them, and their respective battles were all inventive (especially Scott and Ramona vs. Roxy richter [Mae Whitman]) different and pitch perfect.

When it comes down to it, no one could have done Scott Pilgrim as well as Edgar Wright did. The man deserves a medal for taking a risk on this story and just going full boor with the style of the film. The onscreen graphics, the visual sound effects, the way the scenes blend together, are masterful. I'm glad he takes his time to make his movies great, but dammit, I want more and I want them now.

So hey, if you get a chance this week or this coming weekend, go see Scott Pilgrim, I promise that if you like video games, comics, or just fun allegories about relationships, you'll enjoy this one. While you're at it, tell all your friends to go too. It's not often that a movie with this much originality gets made by a studio and if it were to completely fail (like it did this first weekend) than we might not get any more like it.

Unless you'd rather the cineplex be filled with Twilight knockoffs...

Weekend Matinee: TORQUE

My Scott Pilgrim review is forthcoming, until then enjoy this scene from the under-rated and under-remembered Torque.

I know what you're thinking: Torque is a piece of shit, how could it be under-rated? Now I'm not going to pretend that Torque is some kind of classic, or redefines what makes a good racing action drama, because it isn't. However, the movie doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't. You want fun, crazy motorcycle chases and big dumb action? Then check this one out.

The epitome of what makes this movie so memorable for me is the clip I chose for this weekend. During the big third act extravaganza, while our hero is racing down the streets of LA in a suped up super-duper speedy bike, the love interest has her own showdown with the evil lady of the flick. And so, of course, they duel the only way they know how: With their motorcycles. Literally.

I dare you to not find that clip somehow enjoyable. You see, and that's how the rest of the movie is: ridiculous, but entertaining. You should totally check it out when you get a chance... after you check Scott Pilgrim, of course.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Before you go watch Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World...

Make sure you check out this awesomely sweet animated short of how Scott and Kim met (ripped from the pages of Vol2). It's all kinds of great and gets me even more pumped for tonight. Check it out:


Hopefully all of you are doing what I'm doing tonight and seeing this movie over The "most likely not as good as it should be" Expendables. Skinny jeans and hipster haircuts over aging leathery muscles and past their prime action stars, FOREVA!

Or at least at first. I mean, I'm a man, I totally want to see The Expendables.

I'll be back this weekend with a review that I promise won't include the phrase: Twilight for boys. It makes me want to punch things.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bill August 11, 2010

Due to circumstances beyond my control, this was a very small week for me. Now worries though, I've come prepared with a review I've been meaning to write for weeks. You ready? Well so am I, let's do it!

The Best Book You're Not Reading:

Thor: The Mighty Avenger
Writer: Roger Landgridge
Artist: Chris Samnee

Right off the bat, lemme tell you that I am in no way a Thor fan. From the weird dialogue to the crazy fantasy elements, Thor has always been a hard sell for me. That said, Thor: The Mighty Avenger is amazingly awesome.

I think what makes this version of Thor so great is how grounded it is. Not in the so-grounded-it's-normal-and-boring Straczynski way, but in the perfect-fish-out-of-water kind of way.

I think what makes the book work so well for me is Jane Foster. The defacto love interest, Jane is really the main character of the book. We follow her as she works in the Norse history wing of her museum when she meets Thor and then later when she runs in to him at the bar. Even then, it's mostly about Jane deciding to help Thor and, later, help integrate him into the modern world. It's really wonderful and is how Thor ought to be.

That's not so say the book is all lady parts and feelings, there's plenty of action between the covers. Each issue has at least one awesome brawl, especially the latest issue which is, like, all fight. It's the right balance between fights that matter, emotions, and great humor that make the book just sing.

Pulling the book together is the fantastic work from Chris Samnee. Half indie flair, half classic super-heroics, his art gives the book a personality all it's own. As good a job as Landgridge does grounding the book, it's Samnee that really makes it work. His people look like real people, not supermodels, including his superheroes. Thor might be bigger than most, but he doesn't have the muscles on muscles that a Rob Liefeld would put on him. It's a great look that really helps differentiate the book from all others on the shelves.

If you like your big superheroics grounded, but not boring, with a dash of humor than Thor: The Mighty Avenger is for you. As I see it, it's the perfect book to get someone hooked on the character before his big movie comes out in May.

All right then. Hopefully next week I'll have more books to review, but if not I'm sure I'll figure out something to talk about. I always seem to...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Ash Met Doom

Don't be like Ash.

Just remember this little PSA the next time you meet the tin-plated monarch of a small European country. It just might save your life.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Quite possibly the coolest thing to ever hit the internet, Blackstar Warrior is the story of Lando Calrissian that we've all wanted to see.

Part blacksplotation, part Star Wars, all awesome. I can't get over how great it is. I'm gonna stop there and just post it for you:

The Moral: Dreams can come true... eventually on the internet.

Props to my buddy Benj for the tip.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Galactus Sized Birthday

Today's my birthday, and while I should be taking the time to drink and be merry, I couldn't not post this absolutely beautiful rendition of my very favorite devourer of worlds by James Stokoe. I consider it a present from the internet to me and I couldn't be happier. Now if only there was a print available for me to buy...

So, so awesome. Check out a larger version of this via Robot6. Now it's off to tacos. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bill August 4, 2010

It's as if Marvel knew it was my birthday week and pulled out all the stops. Action! Excitement! Explosions! What're we doing messing around, let's get to it!

Best of the Week:
Hawkeye and Mockingbird # 3
Writer: JIm McCann
Artist: David Lopez

I wish every book on my pull list was like Hawk and Mock. The issues are dense with plot, characterization, and action, making me feel like I got a lot of bang for my three bucks.

McCann is just cruising with this title, giving us the ongoing that Hawkeye has deserved since, well, ever. Poor guy (Hawkeye, that is) has had so many minis and terrible short-lived ongoing series, I was beginning to think he was a cursed character that just couldn't carry a book. Thankfully for all of us, Hawk and Mock gives us the perfect example of what a Hawkeye book should be, high-flying action-adventure with a liberal helping of quips to make it great.

For the record, I don't mean to short-change Mockingbird. She's totally great and I'm really learning to enjoy the fact that she's back, but I haven't had the character investment with her that I have with Hawkeye. Maybe if she didn't fake die for the majority of my comic reading life, I would feel different.

Anyway, this ish picks up with our titular couple bringing the fight to the major antagonists. Between the genuine unpredictability of what Mockingbird will do (or won't do) during the fight; the budding love triangle (as I see it) between Mock, Hawk, and Dominic Fortune; and the great villainous trap, this book is just awesome.

I'm gushing, I know, but it's my Birthday and I can do what I want. Also I don't want it to get cancelled like all the other books I like (*SIGH* Frankencastle...), so I need you to go out and check it out. I promise if you like superheroing in your superhero books, you'll like it.

One minor quibble, that I gotta say, I was kinda disappointed that the Death T.H.R.O.W.S turned out to be robots and not an updated version of my favorite juggling themed villain team. TENPIN FOREVA!

Disappointment of the Week:
Secret Warriors # 18
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Alessandro Vitti

It's not that Secret Warriors is a bad book, it's just not quite what I want it to be. Hickman's doing a great job telling us the story of Nick Fury in the midst of personal (and private) war with Hydra. The way Hickman's brought the various leaders of Hydra together and presented a solidified front of sorts for them is awesome and I'm genuinely intrigued by where it's going.

Here comes the but...

I know it's kind of old hat to harp on this book for not focusing on the title characters, but it's true. So far it's been two or three issues and I haven't seen them at all. Last I remember, they were all taking different routes to get to the same place for this assault on Hydra. However, they seem to have gotten lost on the way from the airport because they haven't shown up at all during the battle.

I guess I wouldn't mind so much if the book was called 'Nick Fury', but it's not. Those poor kids have been getting the short end of the character stick for the run of the series, it's just really sad that they don't even show up anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I'm riding this series out until the end, I'm just... sad? Perplexed? Something. The point is, regardless of the disconnect between the title and the substance, I'll be sticking with the book until it's over.

Alright then, that's all I got. I could gush about Young Allies if you'd like, or my budding love of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, but only if you ask me nicely in the comments. In the meantime, I'm off to celebrate my birthday the way God intended: With beer and tacos.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Issue Spectacular - Thunderstrike

If you haven't heard, you're second favorite Thor stand in (Sorry Red Norville, maybe next year) is headed back to the (proverbial) newsstand. That's right, news broke this week that Thunderstrike is coming back from the dead later this year to wow you just like he did in the early 90s.

What? You don't remember being wowed by him in the early 90s? Sounds like it's time for a First Issue Spectacular. Don't try to hide it, I know you're excited.

Let's leap into the world of knock-off Asgardian action as only Tom Defalco and Ron Frenz can deliver.

The issue begins with activities you would automatically associate with Thor or his knockoffs: Carjacking.

Here we find some street-level goons jackin' some old lady when Not-So-Thor arrives on the scene to bust some heads and take some names. After a short scuffle, and lots of destruction, Not-So-Thor is victorious and reveals just how not Thor he is:

No wonder he was booted out of Asgard, it's all insurance rates and liability with him. I'm sure They couldn't boot him down the rainbow bridge fast enough after he tried to talk to Vostagg about the dangers of over eating. Sheesh, man, live a little.

Back to the story, Not-So-Thor flies off late for a date, and musing that he needs to come up with a better name for himself. I guess he doesn't like Not-So-Thor. We get a brief recap here of his history so far: How he was Thor until the real thing came back, who in exchange for the hammer gave Not-So-Thor a mace called Thunderstrike.

Now, I know that's supposed to be an uplifting message on that mace, but I can't help to read it as a guilt trip. "The world still needs heroes, Thunderstrike," now get out of bed and go get me some coffee or something. It makes me laugh, I've been saying it all week.

Anyway, from here the real 90s-ness of the book starts to take over. First we follow our hero's ex-wife and her husband as he gets carjacked which leads to the introduction of the dreadlocked and metal-masked villain, Carjack (Convenient!). Next, vowing revenge for what Carjack has perpetrated, we meet the anti-est of anti-heroes, BLOODAXE!

Seriously if I wanted to show someone an example of 90s craziness (that wasn't Image) I would probably show them these two. As much as I give those early Image creations shit for being uber-90s, they're avante garde brilliance compared to this. And yes I say that as a kid who thought BLOODAXE looked super awesome when I was twelve.

So BLOODAXE goes to fight Carjack, Not-So-Thor goes to stop them and gets his ass whooped. It's kind of embarassing for everyone involved, but mostly for Not-So-Thor because he was beaten so thoroughly. It's so bad that right away he decides he needs to change his look to distance himself from that fight.

Empowered by this change of wardrobe, Not-So-Thor takes on BLOODAXE again, this time vowing not to go like a bitch. Good thing too, otherwise he would have had to get another new costume and that gets really expensive.

This time, eschewing the traditional choreographed Thor plan of attack, Not-So-Thor opts for a more... elegant solution.

Sure enough it works. After successfully flailing his mace around, he hooks BLOODAXE's axe and then drops a building on the man. Precision might not be his strong point, but what are you gonna do.

Finally, here at the end of the book, with BLOODAXE out of commission, Carjack.. umm... out of sight, Not-So-Thor finally comes up with a name of his own.

Elegant as always. Can't wait to have you back, er Thunderstrike, I'm sure the world has missed you.

Or at least they would, if they remember who you were.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Batman: Under The Red Hood is Fantastic

I guess I gave away most of the review in the title, I need to stop doing that. Regardless, it's true, Batman: Under the Red Hood (BUTRH, from now on) is the best example of Batman in the post-Bruce Timm era.

The story is downright fantastic. It starts with a bang, Robin being beaten by the Joker, and doesn't relent until the final frame. It's intense, mature, exciting, and very personal. And even with the weight of the back story, the plot never gets bogged down with it, instead just rolling with what you need to know and leaving the rest as background noise. It's superbly done.

Working with the story are the fantastic voice performances from all the major players. I'm one who has trouble when I see an animated Batman that's not voiced by Kevin Conroy. His deep baritone will forever be the voice of Batman for me, and everyone else is just a wannabe. That is, until I heard Bruce Greenwood.

Greenwood adds a bit more of a fatherly edge to the mean old man, allowing us to see the kind man underneath the bat-motifs. Although, I gotta say I'm a little biased when it comes to Greenwood, as he tends to be the best parts of a lot of movies, especially when he's playing the father/mentor type. He excells in the role, and if it wasn't for his age, I would totally want him to play Bats on the big screen as well.

The other big casting change was with The Joker. With Mark Hamill officially retiring from the character, I was worried that we would be forced to listen to hammy, second rate Jokers for a few years until we landed on a great replacement. Fortunately for us, John Dimaggio was tapped for the role and is utterly fantastic. He's less manic than Hamill was, but makes up for it by being much more sinister. His Joker is a joy to watch, and you never quite know which way he's going to go in any given scene. Seriously they need to keep Dimaggio around for a long time.

Rounding out the cast is NPH as Nightwing, who has a very put on heroic voice, which works but is a little forced; and Jensen Ackles as The Red Hood, who is pretty good if not hindered by having a lack of mouth animation on the character. It's not his fault really, it just looks weird and feels like voice over, rather than the character's voice, if you follow that reasoning.

In the end, you should totally go out and rent and/or buy this movie, as it'll go down in history as a classic along with Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Kudos to DC for really knocking it out of the park with this one, it almost makes me excited for they're next one. Almost.

Now, if only Marvel Animation could figure out their shit and produce this good. Sigh.