Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's A Very Merry Franken Christmas!

There's nothing that says Merry Christmas to me more than FrankenCastle dressed as Santa. It's as if he got my letters and came to deliver happiness in person.

I hope you too, dear reader, got everything you wanted from Santa this year, including all that joy and goodwill malarkey.

And for those of you who aren't of the Christian persuasion, I hope you have a fantastic day as well. And that there are plenty of seats left at the local chinese place. :)

Now if you excuse me, I have a few more presents to enjoy.

Picture courtesy of Neill's Blog, home of some of the most fun amazing art anywhere on the interwebs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No Bill Tonight

Sorry kids, with Christmas kicking into high gear I wasn't able to make it to the store today, hence no new comics. It's just as well, I only had one book coming out this week anyway.

Also, I'm going dark for about a week as I travel across the country to spend Christmas with the FutureInLaws. It should be a fun time, but will have limited access to things like scanners, comics, and time to craft my fine blog entries.

However, I'm not just going to leave for the year without giving you something. To help get you in the holiday spirit, here's a little holiday cheer from a galaxy far, far away...

You guys be good while I'm gone, okay? See you in about a week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Trons

So I saw Tron Legacy the other day and I'm not sure what to think. The short version is I liked it enough, but it had plenty of faults. The long version, well, that's why you're reading, right?

To be honest, I'd never watched the original Tron. I remember being in one of my friends' houses growing up, seeing it on TV, and being immediately turned off by it; It looked weird, it was kinda boring, and the effects were funky. Needless to say, I had a very low opinion of this 'classic'.

Even with this Anti-Tron bias, I was really struck by the trailers for the new movie. The combination of the designs, the soundtrack, and the awe-inspiring visuals really did a number to my head. I was (strangely) totally stoked to see this new extravaganza, and more I was ready to watch the original too.

A quick aside: Did you know that the Tron DVD is no longer in print? You'd think a company as well versed in making a profit like Disney would make sure that there was at least a bare bones version of the original floating around somewhere so eager new fans could pick it up. Apparently, that's why I'm not in marketing. Luckily we were able to secure a copy via friends of friends. Anyway...

As it turns out, my five year old self was right, the first Tron is horrible. Don't get me wrong, I went into it with a crazy open mind, ready to be blown away. It's just... boring, weird looking, and confusing. Not confusing in a plot sense, but more in a 'world' sense.

The original Tron straight up baffled me. The main villain was kidnapping programs and making them play games, so they would.... what? Lose? Forget all his machinations? Get reprogrammed? Give him something to watch on lonely Sundays? And what would happen if a user wanted to use a program that was already hijacked? Would it be available? Would it have to be reinstalled?

The only thing I felt good about when the credits rolled on Tron was that the new one would only be a step up from it. But with the 'classic' in my mental rolodex, I was ready for the new one.

I'm really torn on Tron Legacy. It's certainly head and shoulders above it's predecessor, but it was still lacking something that would have made it the true classic it wants to be.

First, the good: Visually, the movie is stunning. Everything from the design to the action scenes are iconic, identifiable, and memorable. It's amazing to just look at and let it wash over you. The best part is they don't ruin it with a bunch of shitty hand-held camera nonsense; it's a very, serene, zen-like visual style.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the absolutely stellar soundtrack from Daft Punk. It's engrossing, driving, and emotional, probably one of the best soundtracks I've heard since... well, for a very LONG time. In fact, I've been jamming out to it all day, it's so good. I fully endorse this soundtrack and strongly suggest you all go out and make it your own. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Lastly, the characters were pretty great. Sure, they didn't do a whole lot, but they were likable and otherwise unintrusive on the greater plot. For the record, I think Garret Hedlund is everything Sam Worthington wishes he could be: Actiony, emotional, and charismatic. I wouldn't mind Hedlund getting a few more choice action roles from Mr. No-Personality, and I don't think I'm alone in that.

And now for the bad: the legacy of Tron. Or rather, the legacy of shaky storytelling.

While I wasn't as baffled by Tron Legacy, I still wasn't able to draw a strong emotional bead on the material. The major plot about saving some new lifeforms was kinda lost on me because it was so buried in technical jargon that I just accepted it and moved on before really processing. Which lead to a conceptual block on my part when it came to the emotional plot of fathers leaving their sons.

The weird part is, all the pieces are there. I could break down some of those scenes, rearrange them, and really make them resonate (I think). In the end it's so close to really hitting the mark, but it just sails right past it.

What I wanted was the same reaction I had when I walked out of KickAss. I wanted to be exhausted and exhilarated, I wanted to be pumped up and drained at the same time. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

As we walked out, discussing the movie, we were all disappointed that we didn't have that reaction. But even in that disappointment, we were hesitant to call it a bad movie. I can talk until I'm blue in the face about what's wrong about that movie, but there's something about it that's wonderful that won't allow me to go so far as to say it's bad.

The FutureWife (You gotta check that twitter feed, I'm telling you things happen over there) thinks it's because of the motorcycles, sweet action, and Olivia Wilde in black leather. I won't go as far to say that's not true, but there's something else in there that makes me want to like it.

So, kudos to Tron Legacy, the finest, and hopefully the last, movie in the Tron series.

Sweet Tron posters from Eric Tan, check out his blog for more awesome stuff!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekend Matinee: A CHRISTMAS STORY

Is it too obvious? Well too bad, you want Christmas it all comes back to this gem eventually.

Anyway, I'm sure if you're anything like me you've heard of and or seen this movie thousands of times over by now. Yes, A Christmas Story, the classic tale of what it's like to be a little boy around the biggest holiday ever (assuming you're of the Christian persuasion).

I'll tell you, I think I've only scene this movie start to finish once or twice, but somehow I still know it like the back of my hand. As a matter of fact, I think it would be against my traditions to watch it start to finish at this point. Drifting in and out of the different scenes, waiting for that one moment that you remember being totally awesome, and then flipping the channel to something else, now that's the true way to enjoy this movie.

So without further ado, here's one of my favorite moments.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Hidden Mystery of Attack of the Clones

Every time I watch Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones, there's one thing that really bothers me. And no, it's not Obi-Wan's shitty reshoot beard (which does bother me, but in a different way).

It's also not the wooden acting and stilted dialogue. For the record, I get that Lucas was going for a more mythic story and therefore wanted to go with a that kind of language. Scenes like the one next to the fireplace might seem strange and amateurish, but if you listen to the words you can see the foreshadowing purpose of it.

Anyway, I've always been bothered by the clones. Or more specifically, the tour of the clone facility.

You see, as Lama Su takes Obi-Wan around on the nickle tour, we get a glimpse of some clones at the cafeteria, enjoying what I can only assume is some kind of seafood.

Then it's revealed that all the clones can be traced back to one source, Jango Fett. This guy:

So here's the thing: Those clones don't look like Jango. I mean, maybe a little, but you know who they really look like? Captain Typho, Senator Amidala's head of security. Check it:

Am I crazy, or is that a clone? It's something that's bothered me since I first saw the movie in 2002. Every time I see that Kamino scene, I can't not see Captain Typho as a clone. But according to the interwebs, I'm the only one who does.

So what do you think: Am I subtly racist when it comes to Maori men apart? Or is there some kind of ripe story here about how Jango stole someone else's genetic material to make clones out of?

I'm dying to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Bill December 15, 2010

A surprisingly big week for me this week, and thankfully one full of good stuff. So what do you think: Should I gush about the great ongoings I'm reading (Avengers Academy and Thunderbolts) or just focus on the miniseries I'm getting (Pet Avengers, Strange Tales II, Chaos War)? Well, there's only one way to find out. Meet me after the graphic.

Sad To See It Go of the Week:

Strange Tales II # 3
Writers: Too Various to Count
Artist: Also too many for my lazy self to credit.

What can I say, I'm a sucker for anthologies. Throw in a bevy of great indie artists and forget about it, I'm in it to win it.

I mean, sure not every story in this issue hit as hard as I wanted it to, and some just plain didn't make any sense, but the ones that did totally made up for it. The sheer genius of Kate Beaton's Rogue story, the visage of James Stokoe's Galactus, and the whimsy of Tony Moore's Thor tale was enough to keep me coming back for years.

Assuming, of course, that Marvel continues publishing this gem. Please, Marvel, keep publishing this book...

I get that this isn't a book that will appeal to everyone, sometimes the art is overly wonky, the stories are a bit too irreverent, and the ideas a little overly heady. However, when the stories work, they're pure gold.

Strange Tales on a whole reminds me of that glorious turn of the century (that's around the year 2000, for the centenarians among us) Marvel where the weird and indie were on the verge of becoming the mainstream. Perhaps it's my fondness for that era that makes me such a big fan, but I can't get enough of it.

If you dig the same stuff, then you should totally check it out in back issues or the inevitable TPB when it comes out next year. And if you don't dig that stuff, maybe you should just give it a chance anyway just to send the message that you enjoy unbridled creativity in your Marvel Comics.

Fantastic stuff!

Positively Disappointing of the Week:

Avengers vs. The Pet Avengers
Writer: Chris Eliopoulos
Artist: Ig Guara

Unfortunately, the same gushing praise cannot be said about Avengers vs The Pet Avengers. It's not that the book is horrible, it's just incredibly underwhelming.

I've made no secret of my love for this series of books. And I really want to like this book too, as I have a great affection for the characters and their interactions (with the exception of Ms. Lion, who really needs to die in a fire). This new series is just incredibly lacking.

You'd think that something as awesome as "The Pet Avengers versus Dragons" would be impossible to screw up, but somehow Chris Eliopoulos finds a way. I feel bad saying it, but the issues come off shallow, superficial, and overly decompressed; in other words, just not good. And it doesn't help matters that it took me all of five minutes to read the full issue. I felt like I was done even before I started reading.

It's not like the first series was Shakespeare, but at least it had some umph to it. Issue to issue, I felt like something happened and that there was a huge story unfolding with big secrets revealed at every turn. With this series, it's like I'm reading what ought to be a two issue arc stretched into four. There are some twists and turns, but I don't feel like anything's happening.

I'll buy the next issue just to finish off the series, but at this rate it'll be the last that I pick up. Here's hoping Eliopolous figures out how to bring the Pet Avengers back to greatness before the next series starts...

And that's all I got for tonight. If you're curious what else I bought, and by extension what I thought of it, make sure you check out my twitter feed @platypusrobot. Or, you know, just leave me a comment and I can tell you right here. I'm easy like that.

See you next time!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exploring the Insa-NINETIES: 8-Ball

Oh, the 90s, what a woefully underrated crazy-ass decade. All anyone thinks of when they think of you is big guns, bigger muscles, and even bigger tits. Thankfully, there are connoisseur of the 90s like myself to set the people straight.

Today, it's my pleasure to introduce you to the sensational character find of 1991: 8-Ball!

For the record 8-Ball is an ex-pool shark / military propulsion system designer, who built himself a pool cue that could magnify any force, donned a silly helmet, and turned to a life of crime. You know, standard stuff. Good for him for living what he loved... I guess.

He even convinced three other dudes to hang out with him wearing somehow more ridiculous costumes.

Ridiculous costume, even more ridiculous henchmen, it's like he's straight out of the sixties. I guess all he needs now is some kind of themed mode of transportation, like a flying cue ball or...

A flying 8-Ball rack, yeah that works.

Naturally, a villain like this must face off against some pretty grounded, street level heroes. Right? A guy like this totally smacks of Nomad or maybe even Thunderstrike. So where'd he first appear:

Sleepwalker. The book about the crazy alien that can only interact with this world when his college-aged slacker of a host is sleeping or otherwise unconscious. Yeah, goes together like chocolate and chicken: It's kinda weird, but if you just go with it I guess it makes sense.

Unfortunately, I don't know much else about the guy. I assume he continues to be a headache for ol'Sleepy, but I can't say for sure. I mean, you can't just get rid of a character made of pure gold like this, can you?

The only thing I do know is it looks like I have some Sleepwalker back-issues to go through.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekend Matinee: RAGEWAR!

I've never been more baffled by a movie.

I mean, I have intellectually, but not conceptually like I was with this... unique feature.

Sprung from the pocketbook of 80s B-Movie Mogul Charles Band, Ragewar: The Challenges of the Excalibrite (AKA Dungeonmaster, if you have Netflix) is one of those fun terrible movies that pushes the boundaries of what can be considered bad without becoming totally unwatchable. Although it does get a bit dicey a few times...

Basically, the story follows a computer programmer with an unnatural connection to his computer (they're somehow linked in a weird quasi-sexual way), who gets sucked into a digital world where he has to overcome a bevy of challenges (put forth by Night Court's Richard Moll) to save his would-be fiance and ultimately escape. What this amounts to is seven (or so, I didn't really keep track) vignettes where the main character is in different 'video game like' settings fighting some random baddie.

Oh, and did I mention that each segment is written and directed by a different person? Yeah, it gets a little silly.

Personally, though, my favorite parts were the framing sequences with Bull. They were all pretty much the same: Nerdy kid shows up at Bull's feet, they trade insults, the fiance whines to be saved, and the Nerdy kid is transported to his next short film.

For your viewing pleasure this fine weekend, I've found my favorite section. It's goofy, highly exploitable, highly quotable, and stars one of the best mid-range hair metal bands from the late 1980s, WASP. Enjoy:

I think I'm going to run this through my magic edit machine to add a different song written by Bull. Something poppy, current, and downright awesome... Party in the USA, maybe... I'll let you know.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Thor Trailer

And unlike the last time this one won't get pulled down in a couple of hours. Check it out:

Pretty awesome, I must say. Of course, I'm still convinced that it'll be something of a box office bomb because Thor is always a hard sell. Don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for it and will be there opening night, but come on, it's Thor.

Next summer's gonna be fun. I can't wait.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Batman Hates America

Or just eagles... I can't really tell.

So, I was wondering, do you think Batman has to be really careful how he's perceived publicly now? I mean, a few years ago when he was just an Gotham City urban legend (that hung out with Superman) it didn't really matter what he did or who he was a dick to. But now with Bruce Wayne publicly behind him financially, do you think he has paparazzi following him around?

Think about it, even in a world where aliens declare war on your planet on what seems to be a weekly basis, the Bruce Wayne/Batman connection has to be big news. And big news means the tabloids are going to be all over that shit, making up any stories they can about the former urban legend.

I can see the newsstand headlines now: "I'm Batman's bastard child", "Batman in love triangle with Wonder Woman and Superman", "Batman and Joker, arch rivals or secret lovers?" or even "Look what the Cat dragged in (with a picture of Catwoman, natch)".

Worse would be the reaction to poor Bruce Wayne. For every terrible made up 'controversy' regarding the Batman, there would be a vicious backlash from the offended always threatening to boycott everything Wayne Enterprises. If I were the PR person, I'd just quit now. There's no amount of money that could make that job worth it, especially if the person mucking with the plans was secretly the guy you were trying to spin the stories for.

Sounds like a job for Sisyphus.

Anyone else hoping for a Bat-Press Secretary One-Shot? Come on, you know it'd be awesome...

Bats America hate courtesy of Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett in The Batman And Robin Adventures #4

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Bill December 8, 2010

I heard rumors this week that there might have been a delay on my books. Lucky for all of us, nothing can stop the awesomeness of my pull list. Well that and it was only four books long. Whatevs, I'll take it. Wanna see what I thought of em? Too bad, we're doing this anyway.

Best Anthology of the Week:

I Am An Avenger # 4
Writers: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Sean McKeever, Colleen Coover, Lucy Knisley
Artists: Sara Pichelli, Mike Mayhew, Colleen Coover, Lucy Knisley

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I want more anthology series like this, it's everything I want from a series like this and more.

The best way to describe my feelings would be to contrast this series with Marvel's more recent attempts. A few years ago they tried to revive Marvel Comics Presents, and it was a complete failure. While they had a few interesting ideas (and only one that I can think of off hand: Hellcat), everything about the book felt off. The art was wonky, the stories were padded, and it just generally felt like something very missable.

After learning their lesson, Marvel seemed to have tried again with the Age of Heroes anthology earlier this year. Faithful readers (all two of you) might remember I had issues with that series. Mainly that I felt cheated after each issue. Most of the stories were just there to set up future books, and the ones I really wanted to read were just a waste of newsprint.

I Am An Avenger solves all those problems. This time around they've opted to tell stories that 'mean something', but aren't essential to your understanding of the general Marvel Universe. It's full of those great little 'filling in the gaps' stories and generic fun, goofy stories that just make you happy to be a comics fan.

It's a fantastically fun series that, unfortunately, comes to an end next month. Hopefully Marvel learns from this book though, and uses it as a model for all their anthologies from here on.

Branching Out Book of the Week:

Lady Mechanika #1
Writer/Artist: Joe Benitez

What? I wanted to add a little spice to my All-Marvel pull list. It's not like I bought this just because it had steampunk chick with big boobs and a gun on the cover. It didn't hurt though...

Anyway, this book follows the adventure of a steampunk cyborg in her steampunk paradise while she's on the trail of steampunk mystery. Did I mention that steampunk is involved? Because it is. Steampunk that is.

Don't get me wrong I dig steampunk as much as the next guy, in moderation. this book, meanwhile, goes a little nuts with the idea and it's kind of a problem. It's so excited about steampunk, it becomes a parody of the the thing it's trying to glorify. It's kind of adorable.

Aside from it's over-exuberance, the book really isn't that bad. The art's gorgeous, the mystery is intriguing enough, and there's a shocking lack of gratuitous 'sexy lady' shots. If not for that overly sexy cover, it'd be a pretty respectable book for Aspen.

I haven't decided yet if I want to stick around for the second issue, but the fact that I'm thinking about it is a good sign. Regardless, it's nice to have something other than only Marvel in my pile of books, makes me feel like a more rounded comic fan.

And that's all she wrote for this week. Here's hoping next week I won't have to worry about my books getting to the store or not.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Manga Robin Makes a Good Point

Purloined from the depths of the interwebs, credit to be given once I figure out where it came from.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Bill December 2, 2010

Stupid Post Office waiting a stupid extra day to deliver my comics. Nothing makes me more sad than a Wednesday without comics. Does waiting a day make reading comics that much more sweet? Or am I just happy to get my fix? Wanna find out?

Best Miniseries of the Week:

Taskmaster #4
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Jefte Palo

This should come as no surprise, seeing as how I've been totally in the tank for this series since issue two. But really, try not to be excited for a book that can introduce not just one, but two amazing character finds, a city full of Hitlers, and more henchmen organizations that you ever knew you wanted. This book has been crazy stellar.

So anyway, last issue we discovered the true origin of the formerly mysterious Taskmaster, and in this one we discover what makes him a tragic Marvel character. I'll admit I wasn't expecting the ending, but I also wasn't surprised by it. Either way it didn't make it any less heartbreaking.

Van Lente and Palo's take on ol' Tasky was phenomenal and I can only hope that we get to see more someday. Do yourself a favor and go buy this puppy when it comes out in trade, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Most Redeemed Book of the Week:

Ant-Man And Wasp #2
Writer/Artist - Tim Seeley

It feels like I was just talking about this one... Oh.. right.

Well, I can happily report that I have no complaints with this issue. Not only is there a lack of questionable references, but there's plenty of awesome Ant-Mn continuity that I thought only guys like me and Robert Kirkman cared about. Oh, and there's pretty cool action and stuff too.

This issue finds out titular heroes traveling through the dreamscape to infiltrate AIM to steal back that which was stolen last issue. You know, just a typical day at the office for the newly appointed Scientist Supreme.

I said this before, but it bears repeating: This is the kind of book that I love. It's a straight up adventure book featuring an Odd Couple team up and a firm basis in continuity. It's not trying to reinvent the wheel, it's just trying to be the best wheel it can be and it totally succeeds.

Here's hoping that they give Tim Seeley a longer series to work his magic on next time.

That's all I got for tonight. If you want to hear more about the other books I got, or just my general rambling, please check out my twitter@platypusrobot. Otherwise you might never know what I thought of the new Heroes for Hire book. You have to ask yourself: Is that a reality really worth living?

Think about it. I know I will.