Friday, January 27, 2012

Nerd Facts #3

There's hidden German in Pokemon names-
To be more specific, there is hidden German in three Pokemon names. The dragon evolution line introduced in Black and White known as Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon have German in their names
ein zwei and drei are the numbers one, two, and three in German. As a German student and a Pokemon fan I was excited to notice thus relationship.

Alan Moore hates all movies based on his work-
"From Hell", "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", "V for Vendetta", and "Watchmen" all are books written by Alan Moore which have been turned into films. Moore is not a big fan of what has been done with his books. Recently, he has been removed from the credits of films based on his work. The main reason behind this seems to be that Moore never intended for his books to become films. Moore wrote books like Watchmen and V for Vendetta to show the possibilities of comics as a medium.

Namor the Sub-Mariner is comic's biggest a**-hole-
If you have heard of Namor, then this probably isn't very useful information, as you already know he is a jerk. He is a prince with winged feet and many powers overlapping with Aquaman. For some reason, since the real beginning of standard Marvel comics, post Fantastic Four, Namor has always been a dick. He is gruff and has stated that he has hit children before. Despite all this, he is still normally classified on the hero side of the spectrum.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Animal Man, Green Lantern, Justice League International, and Green Arrow on Catch up Thursday

Over winter break, my subscriptions kept coming to Hendrix despite my month long absence. This mailroom predicament left me with a back log of comics to read and write about.

Animal Man #5
Animal man is dark, wonderful, and at times, a little gross. Following Animal Man's, Buddy Baker, discovery of his daughter's own animal based power, Baker and his family must flee the rotting corpses known as the Hunters Three. The first arch ends with the promise of a run in with the plant based hero Swamp Thing, and I couldn't be more excited. Both Animal Man and Swamp Thing are lesser known characters with a good amount of depth to them. Instead of fighting super villains, they are pitted against death incarnate in the form of Rot. I hope the creative team keep up the good work, because it is one of the best, and subsequently least cornball, DC titles out there.

Green Lantern #4/#5
Who would have though a series currently focusing on Sinestro instead of Hal Jordan would be pretty good? The answer is anyone who likes originality. Hal Jordan has been the flagship Lantern for much too long, and as someone who enjoys old-school heroes with modern twists, I have been enjoying the current run of Green Lantern. Now, I doubt that Hal Jordan will stay unpowered for long,(recap: Jordan had his ring taken away and the normally evil Sinestro was made a green lantern again) but I enjoy seeing the very serious Sinestro acting like a green lantern. As I have learned from this first arch, Sinestro actually does have some feelings, and is less predictable than one would assume.

This arch is of course the product of Green Lantern's biggest fan Geoff Johns. Johns has greatly increased the Lantern universe in the past few years, and it makes sense he would be the lead off Green Lantern writer in the new52. While Green Lantern may not be the most approachable book to newcomers, it was one of the less rebooted titles with few changes being made, but it is an interesting one to follow.

Justice League International #4/#5
If there was a book I could relate back to the wonderfully tacky super friends show, it would have to be JLI. With a team sporting the characters Booster Gold, Guy Gardener, Godiva, Fire, Ice, Vixen, Rocket Red, August General, and Batman, the book is naturally a little hokey.

Their first assignment is to investigate a missing research team, this plot quickly devolves into an almost armageddon situation as a rogue alien space miner named Peraxxus, sounds like a job for Superman, right? Nope, a group of powerful but unorganized heroes decide to take a crack at the big fella and get lucky.
The funny thing is, despite the cornball feel to this team, the interactions among the members is pretty good. Certain characters have spats with one another, Gardener and Gold have a mini power struggle for who gets to play leader, and most importantly, everyone actually speaks. With big team books like this it is incredibly common for a few members to get most of the attention and the others just pop up when necessary. The writer, Dan Jurgens, does a good job spreading out the focus of the story, something Justice League could learn from. If a fun book populated by 2nd and 3rd tier characters sounds good to you, i would easily suggest JLI.

Green Arrow
Currently, this book sucks. Plain and simple. The art is okay, but the redesign of Green Arrow is mediocre and should be altered as soon as possible. The stories are shallow and overly contrived, and I really don't care about any of the characters at present. However, despite what is currently happening to my favorite hero, I have hope that the new creative team coming in at book #7 will improve the series, I don't see how they could make it worse. This book is not worth the cost, and it is my biggest disappointment of the new52

I will be switching up my schedule a little and will probably not post on thursdays anymore. However, I will start using Mondays as the new home of trade paperbacks and graphic novels.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Justice League, Flash, and Teen Titans on New Comic Wednesday

This was a pretty solid week for my comics. Flash is easily one of my favorite books and Justice League and Teen Titans have been pretty entertaining.

Justice League #5

Darkseid creates havoc, group of independent superheroes fail to unify, nobody takes any major shots at the evil entity, and batman and green lantern are the only people with any important dialogue. I love the idea of the justice League, I love the beginning plot line, I love most of the art, but I can not say I love this book yet. Justice League #5 does less in 40 pages what books like Animal man and the Flash do in 30 pages. There isn't enough action, there isn't enough plot, and coming from a writer like Geoff Johns, I expect a little bit more. Dialogue in many cases, re-hashes scenes from previous panels that requires no recap or added commentary. I understand that Johns likes writing about Green Lantern, he wrote and is still writing some of the best Green Lantern, but he can't neglect the other characters, especially not in these early issue. I think this was mainly a one issue slump, but I expected a bit more characterization in the last few issues of this lead off arch.

Flash #5
Wrapping up the first Flash Arch of the new52, I couldn't be much happier. Flash is a book that balances amazing art with a solid story-line that is both easy to understand and approachable but ends with a nice twist of the supernatural, what else do you want from superheroes? If there is one individual facet of the books that has made me announce out loud, normally to my girlfriend and roommate, my love of this book, it has to be the title pages. Each one has been so original and well drawn and captures the Flash perfectly. The story has progressed well, introducing Barry Allen and keeping the focus on him instead of secondary characters, without ignoring them. My hat is off to Francis Manapul for effectively re-introducing a classic character in to the brand new universe.

Teen Titans #5
Teen Titans have their first major run-in with their super-powered stalker, Superboy. During the scuffle we are essentially treated to a teenage version of the Justice League's current struggle, they don't know how to act like a team and are fighting a foe they an not defeat easily. Red Robin continues to act like the leader he hopes to be but ultimately each character takes their shots at the clone Superboy, he is a clone of superman, instead of collaborating. In the end the story leaves us with some fun fight panels with only minor plot and character development. The only character with some real development is Solstice, who delivers a few repentent lines about some dark past she may have had. I have been enjoying the series, but they can start grasping for more complex story-lines.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday List #2 My Top 6 Heroes

Considering my semester just started, I didn't have tons of time to think about lists, so here are my personal favorites.

6. Dr. Strange
Strange is a pretty recent addition to this list, as I recently started reading the Defenders. Strange, if you don't know him, has mastery over magical and mystic powers and in general pretty awesome. despite being suave and intellectual, Strange has been rocking grey streaks in his hair for 50 years.

5. Nightcrawler
Nightcrawler has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. While I didn't read comics then, I did watch the cartoons he was in and I loved the version of him in the film X2. Sadly, by the time I had started reading comics, his character had died and been replaced with an alternate dimension version who is a little to grumpy for my taste. Either way, between his nifty teleportation and his German background, I have studied German since high school, Nightcrawler will probably always be on my list.

4. Black Canary
As Long as you have never read All-Star Batman and Robin, you should be able to agree with the greatness of Black Canary. Along with her proclivity for fishnets, motorcycles, and being an amazing fighter, she can deliver an earsplitting scream that makes a Banshee jealous. Along with her many physical talents, Black Canary is a founding member of the Birds of Prey which to my knowledge is the only all female superhero team.

3. Hellboy
My interest in Hellboy started with the films. I thought the character was pretty nifty so when I began reading comics, I made sure to pick up some of Mike Mignola's work.  Hellboy, has the fun life of being a demon with a heart and a general interest in stopping other paranormal events. His character is dry but tough, and his stories are filled with excitement and incredible folklore. Out of this list, if there were one character definitely worth reading, it is Hellboy.

2. Fantomex
This is another recent addition to the list, but he has rocketed straight to the top. Fantomex is a great mix of human, mutant, and robot. He is sarcastic, clever, and sometimes an ass hole, but he is still lovable. He is also possibly the only character who has both killed Apocalypse and cloned him back to life. He is enigmatic, strange, and according to the last issue of Uncanny X-Force, an anomaly  that only exists in one universe. That ast fact just makes me love him more, because if there is one thing I can not stand, it is the multiverse in comic books.

1. Green Arrow
He is a master archer, a millionaire, and a far left liberal, why wouldn't I love him. He has no superpowers, has been dead at least twice and has some of the greatest facial hair in comics history. He has married Black Canary, been elected mayor of a major city, and is a regular member of the Justice League. I could keep listing off accomplishments but I would rather just say, Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow is my favorite super hero.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nerd Facts #2

It's Friday again, which means it is time for another round of nerd facts.

1. Professor Xavier once professed a love for Jean Grey, when she was a teenager.
Many strange things have happened in the X-Men series, but it must be agreed upon that a Xavier and Jean Grey romance would be a little gross. However, it happened. It wasn't more than a thought bubble in issue #3 of Uncanny X-Men (1964) but it gave me the chills. Not only was she his student, she was about 16 or 17. The only slight justification for this attraction was the fact that at this time there were only two female mutants running around, and one of them, Scarlet Witch, tended to hang around Magneto.

2. Squirrel Girl is a surprisingly effective superhero
Some of you may have never heard of this bucktoothed heroine, but she is indeed a real character with a pretty impressive track record. A mutant possessing all the powers and abilities of a squirrel, as well as being able to communicate and command squirrels, Squirrel Girl has fought alongside the Great Lakes Avengers and the New Avengers. Despite never having her own comic, Squirrel Girl has gone toe-to-toe with, and defeated, Dr. Doom, Fin Fang Foom, MODOK, Thanos, Deadpool, and Wolverine. That record is impressive for a C-list character.

3. Arm Fall Off Boy. Yes, he existed.*
Originally appearing DC's Secret Origins #46 (1989), Arm Fall Off Boy attempted to join the Legion of Superheroes. Naturally, they rejected him, but his legacy lives on as the boy who could detach his limbs and use them as clubs.

*This fact is brought to you by my lovely girlfriend Erin.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Name of the Game on Graphic Novel Thursday

Today I will be writing about Will Eisner's 2003 Graphic Novel "The Name of the Game".

Having read a good amount of Scott McCloud books ("Understanding Comics", "Zot") I have this second hand knowledge and fascination with Will Eisner. McCloud, and every one else in comics, has a deep fondness for Eisner's innovations, the forefront being the American graphic novel. Until Eisner's "A Contract with God" there were few if any serious pieces of graphic literature. Considering the importance of Eisner in comics history, he also created "The Spirit", I thought it was about time I read some of his work.

"The Name of the Game" follows the history of the Arnheims, a wealthy German-Jewish family who emigrated in the 19th century. The story while often a mix of drama and family tension focuses on the generational divide through three generations of Arnheims. It begins with Isidore Arnheim, an industrial man who inherits his father's corset factory. Isidore is a capable business man who married well and saw importance in social status.

Isisdore leaves the company to his gallivanting son Conrad after forcing him in to a marriage with a financiers daughter. Conrad is a shallow and boorish man who seems to create tragedy all while destroying his families original business. The story continues on to Conrad's daughter's Rosie husband Aron, who despite Rosie's hopes becomes a man similar to Conrad.

The main focus and theme of "The Name of the Game" seems to be the high society desire to impress others and remain at the top socially. This pursuit ultimately leads to the dramatic as every generation instills different pressures on the one below through arranged marriage and inheritance issues. This synthesized drama leads to unhappy marriages, abuse, and in many cases, death. By the end of the story, I was left with a slightly sick feeling about the effects of money and social privilege on people. The industrious generations of Isidore and his father lead to the spoiled and lazy generation that still enjoys the family's success.

I really enjoyed "The Name of the Game". It is a wonderful story of the hidden drama of the American wealthy well illustrated by Eisner. It is an easy suggestion for anyone interested in reading Eisner or a critique on the history of American society.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Uncanny X-Force and Flash in this week's New Comics Wednesday

Okay, only one of the comics I am reviewing today actually came out today. Yet, I missed Flash a few weeks ago so I will add that in today.

Flash #4
Flash has been a pretty solid title since the reboot. Outside of having creative layouts and full page art, Flash has a pretty entertaining story. Between saving airplanes from crashing and learning to think as fast as he runs, Barry Allen investigates the strange reappearance of his old friend, Manny. Manny is not only a specially trained secret operative, there about 20 of him running amok in Central City. Although the first arc hasn't finished yet, the Flash is easily one of my favorite new52 coming up behind Action Comics and Animal Man.

Uncanny X-Force 19-20

I bought the first few issues of Uncanny X-force about a year ago with a vague desire to see Deadpool and Wolverine. I stopped reading for a while, I was dumb. In in a fit of boredom picked it back up today at the shop and I am glad I did. While I love the fun Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Force is a dark team of mutants willing to do what many X-Men shy away from, kill. So far the series has mostly dealt with clones of the evil mutant Apocolypse, but seems to be going in a new direction starting at the end of #19 and through #20. The increased violence is balanced off well with dark sarcasm from Deadpool and Fantomex, while Wolverine and Psylocke seem to have a monopoly on being sad and dramatic. It is a series that is well balanced and I plan on following it for some time.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Uncanny X-Men on Ramblings From The Archives #1

Hey, for today's post I am toning down the already low formality this blog is accustomed to (I picture the blog wearing jorteralls). I think Sunday will be reserved for particularly old or somewhat forgotten comics, movies and shows. Not to say X-Men is in any way forgotten, but how many people read the originals?

 Along with reading and writing for this blog everyday, constantly clicking refresh on the views counter, and searching for the cheapest textbooks, I have been dabbling in the Marvel Online Comic Archive. Sadly, I have only gotten through the first 6 issues of the Uncanny X-Men. Between the odd format of reading them on my laptop, the bulky text bubbles, and my proclivity for forgetfulness, these comics take longer for me to get through. However, I have been enjoying my dip into comics history and I am glad that I have access to this archive.

Described on the cover as being "in the sensational Fantastic Four style!" it is easy to make assumptions about early X-men comics, and they are all true. The villains are hokey, diabolical and awkwardly flamboyant. The heroes explain everything outright. The villains are defeated and the story ends with either some slapstick humor or some simple lesson. To me, this assessment seems unfair. While the early X-Men are cheesy and explain everything, before this there were no X-Men.

Since I have been enjoying X-Men in some way since I was old enough to turn on cartoons by myself, I have always taken them for granted. Hence, I attempt to transport myself back to a 1964 ignorance. I can count the number of X-men on my hands, wolverines are just animals, Jean Grey is Marvel Girl, and Beast has no fur. I take everything as is and play dumb throughout. I think this is the best way to enjoy older comics like this. Why think about big complex crossover events when you can just follow one book and have it all explained plain and simple?

I consider this jump into the early books an important history lesson for a nerd. I can read all the info about the stories online, but why not actually read them? I would easily suggest this practice for anyone who likes comics but isn't sure where to jump in at current continuity.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

5 Groups of People Who Would Probably Hate Superheroes

It's List Saturday! To kick off my weekly countdowns I wrote up this little number, I hope you enjoy.

Not everybody loves superheroes, yet not all of these dissenters are fully portrayed in comics. Here are a few suggestions of possible superhero haters.

5. The Legal System-
Naturally, most superheroes are vigilantes, they take the law into their own hands without much regard for the standard channels of law enforcement. This status would ultimately take a toll on the legal system as many heroes play the role of investigator and enforcer. So, unless the hero is particularly good at collecting evidence legally or can testify in court, many villains probably could find a good enough lawyer who could find a way around the whole situation. Heroes would probably waste plenty of government money on court cases that would ultimately end in an acquittal of the evil villain.

4. Insurance Companies-
If there is one thing comics have taught us, it is that the best battles have a lot of collateral damage. Cars are crushed, buildings are smashed random bystanders are hurt or occasionally killed. However, by the next issue, everything is fine and rebuilt. It leads me to ask the question, who pays for all this? The answer is the insurance companies. Considering most valuable property has some form of insurance, not to mention health and life insurance, one can expect that companies have a lot of claims every time some random wacko with lazer eyes decides to slice a building in half. I am honestly surprised the greatest enemy of the justice league isn't some evil conglomerate of insurance companies trying to stop random destruction.

3. Personal Injury Lawyers-
Once again, heroes end up causing a lot of destruction. Every time Superman chooses to punch evil monster into a building instead of just melting its face with his laser eyes, he risks injuring a good amount of people. Normally, when someone is injured in a freak accident that they did not cause, they have the option to attempt a lawsuit to gain compensation, not the case with heroes. Since heroes are unknown in the real world it is safe to assume suing one would not end well. The villain who incited the destructive response may be tried, but I figure they tend to hide their money as they clearly don't mind breaking laws. On the other side of the coin, heroes also prevent a lot of personal injury which would normally give an attorney a nice paycheck. between these two options it may be safe to assume that there wouldn't be many lawsuits a personal injury lawyer could actually do.

2. Airline Passengers-
Think of a superhero. They can probably fly. Whether by their own power or by some secret super powerful jet, superheroes enjoy flying around to atop evil and save the day. Now, imagine being at an airport the day some evil genius tries to blow up the city you are flying to. That whole place would be on lockdown. Airports shut down every time somebody tries to blow up their underpants, imagine if giant battles were taking place between the forces of good and evil. Considering the regularity of massive attacks on the planet, it would be surprising to fly without being delayed by a battle.

1. Other Nations With Fewer Heroes-
This one seems pretty straight forward. Countries with more power than other countries like to show it off. If every country had a Superman level hero, wars would probably be fought gladiator style, with each countries superheros duking it out for their homeland. This would cause a problem for the nations that inexplicably have no heroes or fewer than average. Unless they had the best of the best they would be SOL in the global hero arms race. This disparity would probably lead to some diabolical plot to destroy the other heroes thus creating a large conflict between nations.

There you have it. Check back tomorrow for a discussion from the archives. I will be writing about the oh so wonderful and cornball world of the original X-men.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Nifty Fact Friday

Nope, I am not getting bored with these themes. Here are some interesting facts you may not have known.

1. Bryan Lee O'Malley got the name for Scott Pilgrim from a song.
Much of the creator's inspiration came from the 1998 song "Scott Pilgrim" by the Canadian indie rock group Plumtree. Despite its lyrical simplicity O'Malley was able an idea from the song that developed into the series.

2.Almost every popular comic book character from the golden and silver age was created by a Jewish person.
Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, The Spirit, The X-men, Spiderman, The Hulk, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, MAD magazine etc. The list goes on for a while. For whatever reason There were many jewish authors and illustrators, many of whom became known as the greats of the industry, like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. This list is pretty extensive -

3.Wonder Woman was created as a feminist role model by the psychologist who helped develop lie detecting equipment. 

Perhaps I was alone in this misconception, but I had always assumed that while Wonder Woman was a pretty good heroine, she was created solely as a way to market comics to girls. However, I was informed otherwise by my older sister and did a little research. I found that Wonder Woman, created by William Moulton Marston, was meant entirely to show the strength and intelligence of a woman, which Marston believed surpassed the intelligence of men. Marston also worked on producing machines to detect lies which is often believed to feed into the creation of the lasso of truth.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Atomic Robo vol #1 Review on Trade Paperback Thursday

I'm going to stick to this different article theme every day, so enjoy the routine. Thursdays will now be home to reviews of trade paperbacks and graphic novels.

My roommate lent me Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne about a month ago for my trip home but until recently I had forgotten about it, despite the fact that it kept me sane during a two hour flight delay. Atomic Robo was created by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener and has run in several limited series published by Red 5 Comics, the most recent was published in may 2011.

Atomic Robo, the character this time, is a fully conscious human like robot created by fiction's favorite nonfiction scientist, Nikola Telsa. The first volume concerns itself with the exposition of Robo's character rather than an origin story. Since Robo was created in the earlier part of the 20th century and many parts of the story take place in a modern setting, the collection likes to jump to different points in Robo's "life" to build his personality. His main adventures deal with a combination of scientific exploits, action sequences, and witty intelligent sarcasm. In this volume alone, Robo fights mad nazi scientists, creates a team of soldier scientists, and travels to Mars at the behest of Carl Sagan. When all that is squeezed into 6 issues, it is no surprise that Atomic Robo was nominated for the best limited series Eisner Award, losing out to the phenomenal Umbrella Academy.

The writing is quick with good comedic pacing. As much of the humor occurs during periods of heavy gunfire, one wouldn't expect the characters to be overly chatty. The transitions of the book are sudden, but flawless. In one panel Robo becomes incapacitated in the Sahara with a close up of his face and the next panel is almost visually identical but instead we are in Death Valley in 1974. Atomic Robo is filled with transitions to different time periods and they never feel out of place. The book really feels like it is coming from Robo, the story follows how his thoughts wander through the century that he has experienced. The writing contributes well to the science fiction genre of being while staying planted in an only slightly altered reality.

The art of the book bears a fun and adventurous yet serious feel. Considering this is a book that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, there are many panels that without words convey the loneliness of Robo. The coloring is well done. It is vibrant, precise and varies well with the story line.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Atomic Robo. It may not qualify as deep graphic literature, but Robo's character and emotions are better developed than many comic characters. Considering they did that without sacrificing humor, this was one of the funniest books I have read, makes Atomic Robo a book worth looking at.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Superboy , The Ray, and Wolverine and the X-men in this week's New Comic Wednesday

I am going to start doing this on Wednesdays as a general update and running review of the series I follow. Here we go.

Superboy #5
For the most part I have been enjoying the superboy series, particularly because it is paired with teen titans. In issue #5 Superboy continues to serve and defy the enigmatic group N.O.W.H.E.R.E. all while showing some moral aloofness. while the mystery of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is interesting, but Superboy's  basic lack of emotion gets a little old. He occasionally shows some kind of caring via rescuing people but otherwise he is sarcastic cold and and a little annoying. If not for it's link with Teen Titans, I would probably have stopped after issue #2 or #3.

The Ray #2 of 6
The new 52 version of the Ray is a pretty cut and dry teenage superhero miniseries. The new incarnation is a teenage lifeguard in San Diego who is struck by a strange light ray and becomes the light powered hero. Like any teenage hero he is learning to deal with his family his girlfriend and everything else while defeating giant monsters in San Diego. In the history of comics, this seems like an overused situation, but at this moment the Ray is the only hero, outside Blue Beetle, in this Peter Parker-esque situation, so I will let it slide. DC has also chosen to make this a limited series, which I think is a good move. These limited series like the Huntress and the Penguin are a good introduction for these characters without adding more continuous series.

Wolverine and the X-men #3 and #4
Of all the comics I am currently reading, Wolverine and the X-men may be my favorite. A continuation off of the schism event, we find Wolverine trying to restart a mutant school in ashes of the Xavier Institute. With the new Hellfire Club trying to obstruct any progress and Quentin Quire trying to overthrow the administration from time to time there is plenty conflict to build from. What I might like the most about the series is that with the frame of the institute, and the diverse cast of students, it really feels like an X-men comic in its original sense. It may be because I loved the X-men Evolution show when I was a kid, but if there isn't an school it isn't X-men.

There is the rundown of my purchases today, check this out again in a week.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

6 Reasons Why I am Worried and excited About The Dark Knight Rises

I was originally going to make this a catchall for superhero movies this year but I watched The Dark Knight Rises trailer again and found I could give it its own list. I then watched the trailer once more and started getting exited, so I have created a brief list of what I like so far, and what I think wont work. Be cautious as there might be spoilers ahead.

I'll start with what I like-

3.  It will be in IMAX:
While I doubt TDKR will be all about the visuals, it is easy to expect some pretty cool and exciting scenes from a Christopher Nolan Batman movie. I will gladly shell out however much it will cost to see super-sized battle between Batman and Bane.

2. More continuity between the series:
After a brief look at the cast list on imdb, I noticed that actor Josh Pence is cast as a young Ra's Al Ghul. This took me by surprise as there was no mention of Ra's in The Dark Knight, so I had assumed Nolan had let that pass. This casting obviously feeds the rumor that Talia Al Ghul, Ra's' daughter, will be appearing in the film as Marion Cotillard. I really hope this is the case as I feel Talia has never really been known outside of the comics. This would also add some obvious continuity to the series which I always felt The Dark Knight lacked.

1. Who is Joseph Gordon Levitt playing?:
I have been searching around about this for a while now and I keep finding more and more rumors. Some are rather mundane while others enjoy making big hidden conspiracies. We know his name is John Blake and he is seen in a police uniform but that seems to be about it. The most mundane I have heard was that JGL was playing a cop who happens to be on the case of investigating Batman. The next step up is that he is a cop working for batman. My favorite conspiracy that I have heard is that JGL appears in a flashback where he is the joker before his life of crime. The person I read this from used this as evidence JOhn BlaKE, take the bold letters and you have JOKE. Wether that means something or not it is pretty nifty.

 On top of all these I offer my own theory, JGL is a cop working for Batman who takes up his mantle after Batman is temporarily taken out by Bane. This would not be too far off from what happened in the "Knightfall" comics which I will expand upon later on. I like the sense of mystery, it will either be really interesting or over hyped, but I will take it either way.

Now the things that keep me up at night-

3. Dark Knight Rises looks a lot like "Knightfall"/ "Legacy":
If you enjoy batman comics, or can read a wikipedia article, you can see that Bane has only been the main villain in a few of arcs, the two I focus on are "Knightfall" and "Legacy". In "Knightfall", Bane seeks to defeat Batman so he releases criminals and attacks Batman when he is tired thus breaking his back. In "Legacy", Bane meets Ra's Al Ghul and quickly becomes his heir, they then have the obligation to go fight Batman (what else would they do?). Put these two arcs together add a little creative license and you have my prediction of the TDKR storyline. We know Ra's Al Ghul is in the film, at least as a flashback, and if the rumors of Talia Al Ghul are true, then it is safe to predict that Talia and Bane, her fathers heir, team up to defeat Batman and destroy Gotham. We know Bane wants Gotham in ashes, at least that is what it sounds like he is saying in the trailer.

Now, the only reason I put this in the bad list is because if this is the gist of the storyline, then I am a little disappointed that it can come unraveled by reading imdb and wikipedia. "Knightfall" is a great arc and seeing a film version would be wonderful. It will probably  be a good story, but I really hope I am wrong with this prediction.

2. Bane:
Bane is a recently new Batman villain. He was only created 20 years ago, which is nothing in Batman years. However, as most of the older villains have been portrayed several times, most of them not very well, it makes sense that Nolan chose Bane, and hopefully Talia, for this film.

My complaint comes from how he is portrayed. I understand that Nolan's Batman is more realistic than previous incarnations, but Bane may be where I draw the line. If you are going to use a hyperintelligent juiced up muscle man with tubes of steroids coming out of him, make him more intimidating. In all the photos and videos I have seen of Bane, he is about the same size as Batman and outside of the mask, he just looks like a random thug. The nice thing about Batman villains is that if they aren't mobsters or normal criminals, they look pretty scary.

1. Anne Hathaway:
I don't think she is a bad actress, but she never really wowed me in anything she has done. Once again it just comes down to my expectations of characters based on comics and what Nolan wants to see in his film. Her long hair and lack of real cowl bug me, not her fault, and in the trailer she seems like angry harbinger rather than a cunning femme fatale thief. overall, her casting seems at best like a neutral plot point and at worst another bad Catwoman portrayal.

That wraps up my main points. I think I'll like the film but I really hope I am wrong about everything I predicted.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reviews from the Kids Section: Bone #1 "Out From Boneville"

Many of the books I have been reading recently have been both phenomenal and slightly sad. In response to this I found myself searching for a quality comic that will cheer me up. I then happened to be walking around the Lakeview neighborhood with my sisters when we came upon Chicago Comics. I had been meaning to come to this shop for some time and I was not disappointed, I'll be writing about it soon. Among their many different volumes I chose to look at the kids section for something to read. I saw "Bone" and after a brief flip-though I decided this was the book to cheer me up. Thankfully it did. The 'Bone" series, which ran from 1991-2004, was written and drawn by Jeff Smith.

Bone is the story of three humanoid creatures called bones, all cousins, who have recently been chased out of Boneville after a recent scandal. Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone find themselves in a desert with a lack of direction. They become separated and Fone Bone winds up in a lush forest valley home to both humans, large furry monsters called rat creatures, and a large red dragon that seems to be protecting Fone Bone. Fone Bone soon meets Thorn, a beautiful girl, and her grandmother Rose. Bone kindles a friendship while looking for his cousins. Fone's cousins are slightly less fortunate in the valley, Phoney begins to plot a scheme to dupe the villagers out of their possessions while being stalked by both the rat creatures and a ghoulish cloaked figure while Smiley becomes indentured to an innkeeper for several mugs of ale. The first book sets a good exposition for the many books that follow while being enjoyable on its own.

Smith's characters, while none so far are particularly three dimensional, play off each others archetypes well. Phoney is a miserly bone and enjoys saying that he was the richest bone in Boneville. He sees everything as something he can either buy or scam from others. Smiley is a fun loving wisecracker who sees his penniless state as freedom from responsibility. Fone Bone is the main protagonist and values kindness and intelligence as he often recites his love for "Moby Dick". The three bones go together well with smiley irritating Phoney and Fone trying to keep everyone together while preventing Phoney's schemes.

The art, as one would expect, is very kid friendly. With thick black outlines and vibrant colors, one is easily reminded of newspaper comics constructed into a long narrative. The tone is toony, bright, and at times intimidating, particularly with the rat creatures who walk the line between scary and humorous. Between his words and his art Jeff Smith created a wonderful children fantasy unlike any I have seen before. Although its status as a kids book, Bone is timeless and enjoyable for everyone. I would easily suggest this series for someone of any age who wish to become interested in comics.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Brief Review of The Adventures of Tintin

I recently saw Jackson and Spielberg's new The Adventures of Tintin with my family and while film is not at all my expertise I figured I might as well write something. Although I still haven't read much Tintin, yet I understand its importance in the world of graphic literature. The film adaptation, while not being completely true to "The Secret of the Unicorn" was very entertaining and had an authentic Tintin feel to it. Tintin, famous reporter that he is, incidentally purchases a model ship that has a secret clue to a hidden treasure in it. take about a 20 minute kidnapping break and Tintin finds himself teamed up with a drunk down on his luck sea-captain named Haddock. The two then team up to unravel the mystery of this treasure. It may have been Haddock's many maritime expletives but something about the tone of the film seemed right. I particularly liked that they did not shy away from Haddock's alcoholism and actually made it a vital part of the film, considering it is a PG film. While the 3d may have been unnecessary, the visuals were phenomenal and there were many times I thought the film was live action.

The action, nearly half the movie, scenes were epic in scale but occasionally felt like they were designed to be some kind of amusement park ride. At one point in the film, a large ship swings across the mast of another ship and all I could think about is that carnival ride of a large boat swinging back and forth. However, I would later think "This is a CGI Tintin movie! I would be mad if it didn't have a boat swinging on another boat." All of this aside the sense of chaos and humor in the action sequences adds to the amazing adventure fantasy that everyone wants from a film like this. If you are looking for a adventure movie that remains clever and endearing, go check out Tintin.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Mystery Society", You Had Me at The Mustache

I picked up "Mystery Society" in early December before coming home for winter break and I am surprised I haven't written about it yet. "Mystery Society" is a collection of the 5 issues currently published(I hope they eventually make more but I have my doubts) written by Steve Niles, of 30 days of night fame, and art by Fiona Staples published by IDW. To put it simply, "Mystery Society" is a fun mix of scifi, mystery, espionage, and the paranormal. To put it a little less simply, this book is a entertaining homage to conspiracy theories, urban legends, amazing facial hair all wrapped up in a cool underused art style.

Just look at that glorious mustache.

From the outset, we are introduced to the recently arrested Nick Mystery on his way to face trial for a plethora of crimes. We are quickly transported via storytelling flashback to a rescue mission from Area 51 and the story of the Mystery Society.  From there we meet the newly rescued members of the society, twin girls with psychic powers. After a daring escape we are introduced to the remaining members: Anastasia, Nick's wife and co founder of the society, Secret Skull, and undead ghoul, and Jules Verne, or  at least a robot with his brain. From their introduction, the team splits up for most of the book; Skull and Verne investigate the missing skull of Edgar Allan Poe, while Nick, Anastasia, and the twins look to clear the Mystery Society's name. What follows is a story with a few unexpected twists that leave the reader satisfied but not necessarily begging for more.

While "Mystery Society" was surely entertaining, it didn't take much thought to delve into the characters. However, it certainly had more depth in its five issues than most comic series. This seems like an appropriate goal for this type of book. No one would want to read about an overly serious conspiracy solving squad, but nobody wants it to be slapstick either. I would almost consider it a slightly brighter and certainly more fun loving take on a Hellboy-esque premise. "Mystery Society is a well balanced book certainly worthy of some more issues, and I hope to see them.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Settlers of Cat-an

My cat Davis is a wicked road builder.

Nerd Coloring is Always Fun

This is what Jane and I did today thanks to Chris Haley's online coloring book.

My Thoughts on "Black Hole"

I picked up “Black Hole” a couple weeks ago and finished it about three days ago. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about it yet, but I will attempt to put some thoughts down that will give some insight to the quality of this book. “Black Hole” was written and Drawn by Charles Burns over a 10 year period in a series of 12 issues. A compilation was published by Pantheon Books in 2005. This is a review of the compilation.

“Black Hole” is set outside Seattle in the mid 70s. The point of view changes regularly between characters but focuses in on Keith and Chris (Chris is a girl). The story follows along as the local teenagers deal with a mutation based disease that affects those adolescents who have sex. Mutations are all individual ranging from the grotesque to unnoticeable. Many of the students who cannot hide their mutation begin to run away from home and camp out together in the woods; ostracized from school they seem to find no other choice. Eventually the feelings of abandonment turn ugly in some as strange things and murders begin to happen in the suburb. This eventually pushes Keith and Chris on their own paths with no clear direction ahead of them.

From the beginning, “Black Hole” is fairly enigmatic as it transitions regularly between present time flashbacks hallucinations and dreams. It was occasionally hard to tell entirely what was happening. This confusion was ultimately beneficial to the story as all the heavily used characters seem to be at a unsure of their future. Keith seems to hate his only two friends, while Chris falls in love with a boy and can’t seem to relate with anyone else. The Mutations are an interesting frame for the story and an overt physical expression of the stigma put on teenage sex. While this is apparent, Burns doesn’t beat you over the head with all his messages as some writers do in graphic novels. Along with his subtlety comes a immense amount of foreshadowing. Many of Burns’ early images that seem out of place become key parts later in the story. I reread the first few chapters before I started noticing them. Burns’ pacing was well done and all the situations had a distinct smack of realism. The characters were well drawn out and seemed real enough to come from Burns’ own high school life.

“Black Hole” goes after the idea of being lonely, and it does it well. The characters are lonely without being melodramatic. They try to find something that will make them happy but having to force happiness doesn’t seem to work out well for them.  The art is vibrant in shape but ultimately muted by the black and white coloring, which adds to this feeling of loneliness.  It was hard to not get sucked in to Burns’ illustrations as I often found myself cringing and occasionally avoiding a panel’s illustration all together.

I would recommend this book. However, I would extend a word of caution in doing so. The content is phenomenal but I wouldn’t take this book lightly. Enjoy.