A hero falls. This issue will make you sad, it will make you angry, and you need to read it. Second Coming continues as the X-Men successfully get Hope to the Island, but not without tragedy. Must-read.
Batman returns to Detective Comics for the first time in a year. Yes, Dick Grayson's Batman has made cameo appearnces, but by-in-large Batman has been absent from the comic book which spawned him ever since the death of Bruce Wayne. Although I like the character of Batwoman, I was never as pleased as others with her headlining this title nor the stories Greg Rucka decided to tell in those pages. Batman belongs in Detective Comics. Most of "Beneath the Mask" is presented from the now incarcerated Jeremiah Arkham's point of view, which allows for a different perspective as well as some nice moments (including his take on Nightwing). It may not be a great Batman's story, but David Hine's first issue as the series' new writer is definitely worth a look.
Chalk it up to bad timing. Had this "Two Americas" storyline taken place before Steve Rogers returned, or after Siege had finished and Rogers had moved on to his new role this tale of Bucky Cap vs. Crazy 50's Cap might not seem so out-of-place. Taken on it's own, outside the current events in the Marvel Universe, the storyline would be okay (though hardly as good as many of Ed Brubaker's other Cap tales), but it's far from a must-read.
Meh. Technically this isn't a New Avengers story (thanks to the team having to stay frozen in place until the next issue of Siege). What we do get is a Hood storyline that isn't bad, but certainly isn't worth the $4 price-tag for a book that barely even has a glimpse of any actual Avengers.
There's something both joyous and fatalistic about this issue. It shouldn't work, and if we weren't dealing with two characters who both understand and accept fate and destiny more so than the average super-hero it probably wouldn't. For those who haven't picked it up yet, this issue deals with a girls night out with Zatanna, Wonder Woman, and Barbara Gordon (before she became Oracle - and that's what the issue is really all about). Two friends decide to give Batgirl a night out on the town, one night of brightness to keep the darkness at bay in the days to come. The Brave and The Bold can be a very hit-and-miss title, but this issue is definitely worth a look.
Will Eisner's creation The Spirit returns in a new ongoing series by writer Mark Schultz and artist Moritat. The first issue gives us the pulp, the hero, and a femme fatale, but with a little more noir and a little less of the cartoonish nature of Darwyn Cooke's version of the character (which I liked). As first issues go it sets the stage, but little more. Still, fans of the character will want to pick it up.
Nicely done Ms. Troy (c'mon, you've wanted someone to shut-up the Demon for years now, haven't you?). This issue is about team-building more than anything else, as the new League learns to work together. We also get a glimpse of Alan Scott's worsening condition and a mysterious meteor (boasting a surprise inside). Not a great issue, but one that does set up future stories as well as examine the powers of the various team members - including the purpose of Donna Troy's lasso.
Ms. Marvel as Venom...well, there's something you don't see everyday. Not a bad one-shot, and I'm glad to see the possibility of a relationship between Carol Danvers and everyone's favorite web-slinger is very much alive.
So far 2010 is turning out to be a good year for those who like action flicks, especially those based on comic books. First Kick-Ass gave us the bloodiest super-hero movie ever, and now the The Losers show up to give us a classic tale of wronged would-be-do-goers out for revenge.
Based on the Vertigo comic, the film begins with a mission gone wrong. The CIA Special Forces Team known as "The Losers" are betrayed by a their mysterious unseen handler (Jason Patric) and left for dead in the jungles of Bolivia. Months later the team is approached by yet another mysterious figure (are you sensing a pattern here?), a woman (Zoe Saldana) willing to offer them a chance to get their revenge.
The team includes Commander Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the hard-as-nails Roque (Idris Elba), the sharpshooter Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), the pilot Pooch (Columbus Short), and nerdy tech Jensen (Chris Evans - who manages to steal every scene of the movie, except perhpas those in which Zaldana takes off her clothes).
In terms of story The Losers certainly doesn't break the mold of your average action flick (hell, it barely breaks a sweat most of the time). Our villain, Max (Patric), is the super-powerful mysterious voice on the other end of the phone. Completely untouchable, totally evil, more than a little insane. The film needs a true a-hole to pull this off, and Patric is perfect casting (imagine his role from Friends and Neighbors, if he was a homicidal killer).
We've also got predictable twists and "surprising" revealations which attempt to add conflict to the plot but are neither necessary nor appreciated. When the story stays simple, good guys after the bad guy, it works well. When it tries to complicate things, the film, and the audience, suffer.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy the film, I did. Even with these issues there's more than enough fun to be had. Charm, style, humor, and a sexy leading lady can cover up quite a number of issues. Thankfully, the film was cast with just enough star power, all of whom seem to realize what kind of movie they are making, to overcome most of its deficiencies.
And did I mention it's funny? For a film about a group of killers tracking down a guy to get revenge for ruining their lives and killing 25 innocent children, this film is fun. Okay, take a moment to digest that and we'll move on... Ready? One of the best scenes involves Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." It has to be seen to be believed. Chris Evans might not have convinced me he can play Captain America here, but he did prove he's perfect in this comic relief sidekick role.
Even with it's flaws The Losers is a hellova lot of fun. With just the right balance of violence, humor, sex, and cool stunts (one of which is the sickest - and most ridiculous - I've seen so far this year), this is the type of movie you can watch over and over again. It also would work perfect for a double feature with Kick-Ass if you've enough time on your hands. Far better than expected, if the upcoming A-Team movie is half as good as The Losers I'll be pretty happy.
Starhawk, Thanos, the Cosmic Cube, an entire planet on fire, the dissolution of the timestream, and one kick-ass battle. Yeah, I'm happy. There's even a nice moment between Rocket Raccoon and Cosmo. This issue's got it all. Pick it up, already!
Moon Knight and Deadpool? No shortage of crazy (or blood) there. Weird how in the series' second arc writer Greg Hurwitz has found a way to tell a story so Moon Knight still isn't the craziest one in his own book. Fun read, and I'm a bit sorry Deadpool's arc seems to only be two issues as I like the idea of this pair together.
Enter Bullseye. Okay, I could have done with the early story of a naked Bulleye hiding a gun up his ass, but other than that there's much to like here including this first meeting between the Kingpin and the hitman as well as Frank Castle being a dick to one of the only people willing to call him friend. I don't know if this run will be as good as Bullseye's attempt to take down Deadpool (if you missed it get the trade paperback NOW!), but this series hasn't let me down yet.
A deal between devils. Only Loki would sacrifice his homeland and barter a deal between Hela and Mephisto simply for his own self-interest and amusement. This clever tie-in shows selected events from Dark Reign and Siege from Loki's point of view, and gives us some understanding of his actions over the past year. It also reminds us Loki is far more powerful and devious than the fool he's sometimes portrayed as. Worth a look.
Did the Flash just take apart that car in mid-air in a microsecond? Yeah, I think he did. It's good to have you back Barry. Geoff Johns puts together a good first issue to launch Barry Allen's first self-titled series in a quarter of a century. I'm cool with the cover story of Allen spending the past few years in Witness Protection, but I am confused as to what age Iris Allen is in the current comic (isn't she a grandmother?). Oh well. I'm also a little disappointed at the $4 price-tag, but it's a good first issue (better than I expected) and it's definitely worth a look.
As ridiculous a villain as Razor Fist is (and that's pretty damn ridiculous), he proves useful in this one-shot Siege tie-in issue as Bucky Cap works through his feelings over still wearing the red, white, and blue now that Steve Rogers has returned. Not a must-read tie-in, there's nothing of Siege you'll miss by skipping this issue, but it's worth a look.
The first half of this issue worked really well for me. Batgirl saves a subway train full of Gotham citizens from a mad bomber, has a nice (is somewhat schmaltzy) moment with Commissioner Gordon, and then deals with the failure of not being able to save everyone. In the negative column, I'm not so sure I'm ready for a four-part story centering around the Calculator. The d-list Batman villain has been a thorn in Oracle's side since Birds of Prey, but his current reincarnation as the super-hacker super-villain with Apokolips tech just doesn't do anything for me. But I'll admit this comic has surprised me so far, so maybe, just maybe, "Flood" will be better than I expect.
Well, there's something you don't see every day. Did Cameron Hodge just become the Scorpion King? Another good issue of Second Coming finds the X-Men unable to save Hope from the coordinated and well-executed attack from William Stryker's forces as the New Mutants try to prevent Hodge from sending his forces to join the fight. The line the group is willing to cross keeps getting moved as Archangel steps up to save the day, but not exactly in heroic fashion. Worth picking up.
Into every life a little ass kicking must fall. There are those who kick the ass, and others who get theirs kicked. Based on the comic series by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Marvel Comics' latest adaptation takes us into the world of an unremarkable teen with a remarkable idea:
"How come nobody's ever tried to become a super-hero?"
From one idle comment thrown out to his two friends (Clark Duke, Evan Peters) at the local comic shop begins a dream that will quickly turn into a nightmare.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides the world could use a super-hero, and why not him? Ordering a scuba suit and a pair of billy clubs online, our new hero (under the moniker "Kick-Ass") quickly proceeds to get his ass handed to him in all manner of ways. His attempt to stop a pair of thugs from boosting a car doesn't exactly go as planned. The outcome leaves our hero stabbed, beaten, hit by a moving car, and naked in the back of an ambulance. Ouch!
In the same vein as Millar's original comic Kick-Ass shows that there's good reason why no sane person has ever donned tights and fought crime in the real world. Although neither as brutal nor as gory as the original, the film is filled with its fair share of over-the-top violence. If you are looking for a kick-ass action flick you've come to the right place.
In most respects the story is very similar to the comic, but the film does deviate in how it presents and rectifies certain situations. In this version Kick-Ass completes a more typical hero's journey than that of the original story. Does Kick-Ass become a hero in the comic? That's arguable. Does Kick-Ass become a hero in the movie? Undoubtedly.
Screenwriters Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn do their best to include as many of the comic's subplots as they can squeeze into it's two-hour running time. Included are Dave's awkward relationship with his father (Garrett M. Brown), and his even more awkward relationship with his school's resident cute cool girl (Lyndsy Fonseca). As in the comic, our hero's entire friendship with Katie rests on him pretending to be her non-threatening gay friend. However, the film does soften the rumors about why everyone believes Dave's sexual orientation. Here everyone has comes to the conclusion that Dave is gay because was found nude one night (in the comic the constant beatings he takes spread rumors that he's been pimping his ass in Greenwich Village).
For all his good intentions Dave is a poor super-hero. Just as in the comic, Kick-Ass isn't even the coolest hero on screen. That goes to young Mindy Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz ), AKA Hit Girl. Though the film is a little less clear on her age (is she 12 or 16?) this little girl kicks almost as much ass as she did on the printed page (though she doesn't spill as much blood - and sadly her big flamethrower scene is nowhere to be seen).
Along for the ride is Nicolas Cage as Mindy's father and mentor Big Daddy, who almost steals the entire film. There are two scenes involving Big Daddy and Hit Girl that tell you everything you need to know about the level of dysfunction in this family. The first involves a Big Daddy shooting his little girl and the second is an online purchase that isn't the type of thing you're likely to find on Amazon.com. Some of the more gruesome moments might be missing, but "the item" bought online used in the final act is a nice, if somewhat bizarre, addition.
The film does make some important deviations in terms of story, especially in the second act. The Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) storyline is shown from his perspective (those of you who have read the comic will understand what this entails). The film also beefs up the character of crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) into a more fully-realized character.
There are also far less decapitations, no testicles hooked-up to car batteries, and no butcher knife through the skull. Sigh. The film also simplifies the backstory of Big Daddy and Hit Girl which may be easier to explain given the limitations of screentime, but this does leave out one of the comic's big reveals.
I refuse to give everything away, but there is also one very large swerve the movie makes that comic smartly stays away from. The moral of the comic seems to be that being a super-hero is a really, really, really dumb idea which will lose you everything. The film starts with a similar premise but deviates it during its second half when it allows our hero to find much more success than the hero of the comic ever did. In the comic being Kick-Ass doesn't change Dave's life for the better. As for the movie...I'll leave it to you to see for yourself.
The Joneses are not your typical American family. Written and directed by Derrick Borte the film of suburban wealth is a social commentary on consumerism, family, greed, social prestige, and the acquisition of over-priced crap you don't really need.
The film opens with the Jones' move into a plush new neighborhood. The family includes Steve (David Duchovny), his wife Kate (Demi Moore), and two children Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth)The Joneses seem to have it all, except for one thing - they aren't a real family.
Each of the four family members is actually a salesman hired by a private consortium to move into wealthy neighborhoods and attempt to show off various toys, gadgets, car, and even frozen appetizers, in an attempt to subtly entice their new neighbors to spend money on similar items. As sales practices go it's pretty devious, and almost as lucrative.
There's much to enjoy here. All four actors perform well, and the decision to make Steve (a former used car salesman) the new member of the team creates some moments of conflict and craziness. Amber Heard fans should especially enjoy one such scene early in the film.
The film's biggest strength is how it slowly shows these four individuals come together as a family. Not a functional one by any means, but a family that slowly does start to talk and care about each other. Sadly, this thread of the storyline is abandoned just as things begin to get interesting.
The possible love story between Duchovny and Moore could also have been handled with more aplomb. There's no real reason for Steve to be attracted to Kate (other than the fact that she's Demi Moore), and Kate's hot-and-cold reaction to Steve's proposals might work in your typical braindead romcom but here comes off a little forced.
The fact that the family has no cover story for it's wealth, and that the issue only comes up once early on and is quickly brushed aside, is also troubling. Each member of the family becomes the center of their social circle, and yet even the closest "friends" they come into contact with never think to stop and ask the one question which would immediately send the family packing.
In it's final act The Joneses comes perilously close to running off the rails when it's funny anti-capitalism message gets deadly serious and comes off far more hamfisted than necessary. It's really a shame to see a film with such an interesting set-up take such a pedestrian turn. I would have liked The Joneses more if it had stuck to its strengths, but we can't always get what we want (or so the film tells us, or does it?). It's still worth seeing, but The Joneses, like many a salesman, promises more than it can deliver.
Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is a prick. Everything central to the character, and to the movie, is contained in that sentence. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding, The Squid and the Whale), based on a story by Jennifer Jason Leigh (who has a small, and completely forgettable, role in the film), Greenberg is yet another attempt to center a movie around an unlikeable character. Joy.
After being recently released from a mental institution (for an undisclosed mental breakdown which involved the loss of his ability to walk) New Yorker Roger Greengberg travels to Los Angeles to house sit for his brother Phillip (Chris Messina), who has taken his family on six-week vacation to Vietnam.
The fragile Roger is immediately, and awkwardly, attracted to his brother's assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig) who, in some ways, seems even more fragile and damaged than Greenberg himself. You may be able to guess where this is headed.
There are also storylines involving Roger's best friend (Rhys Ifans) who he once screwed out of a music deal more than a decade ago, and his former girlfriend (Leigh) who has long since moved on. There's also a few late scenes involving disruptive influence of Roger's neice (Brie Larson) which are meant to be a catalyst to the film's final act. However, none of these work as well as when the film centers the story around the (somewhat pathetic) relationship of Roger and Florence.
Roger is a selfish self-righteous prick who pushes everyone away. Florence is a needy clinger who will forgive seemingly any transgression. It's a match made in heaven (or possibly purgatory).
I've been far less impressed than others with Baumbach's tales (I hated Margot) and with Greenberg once again I found myself struggling to care for a schmuck of a main character who give me absolutely no reason to do so. Roger isn't a person who you might loathe or even hate, he's just the selfish bastard who you would ignore at a party and never return his calls.
That isn't to say Greenberg is a bad movie, it's not. In fact the movie does have quite a bit to offer, even given the limitations of its story. Stiller proves more than capable of playing both the fragile and asshole sides of this damaged character, and Gerwig is terrific as the needy Florence who can't give up on Greenberg even when she's given every reason to.
Boiled down to its essence the film is basically As Good As It Gets, without the Hollywood trappings or charm. In some ways this a good thing. The natural feel of the characters and their fumbling interactions work to the film's advantage. We also aren't saddled with a roadtrip for a gay neighbor or have to deal with the genius of celebrity author.
Ben Stiller is a nice enough guy, but he simply doesn't have the charisma of Jack Nicholson (who does?). And so Stiller's Greenberg isn't a dick we kind of like, he's just a dick. And he's not even a talented dick.
Much like Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg is the type of film that will wear on you the more you watch. Unlike Margot I think there is something here worth suffering through the experiences of the insufferable lead character. It won't be a fun trip to the movies, but Greenberg will give you plenty to think about and discuss afterwards. There are far worse reasons to see a movie.
Thomas Blake's son has been kidnapped, he may already be dead. Catman refuses the deal he's offered to kill his teammates for a guarantee that his son may be given a short reprieve and immediately goes on the hunt. And he's out for blood. Remember the precipice Blake's been hovering on since this comic began? Yeah, he just jumped. Kidnap, torture, threats, suicide, and sadistic glee. Yeah, this one's got it all. Not sure how the everything with the team will shake out after this one's all over but I'm sure as hell going to stick around to find out.
I'm a Batman fan. I'll freely admit to reading more comics featuring The Dark Knight than any other character. And few heroes have a rogues gallery like that of Batman. So the idea of taking three of those characters (two of which we're successfully teamed-up on Batman: The Animated Series) sounded like an okay idea. The early results, however, have been mixed.
The issues collected here (penned by Paul Dini) aren't bad stories (well, that whole Ivy and Harley poisoning Catwoman isn't exactly a winner), but there's really nothing all that special about them either. Included here are the Joker's former assistant taking his long overdue revenge on Harley, appearances by Hush and the Riddler, and a holiday issue.
The interplay between characters works well, but the overall construction of the stories needs some work. Also, the question of who this threesome is also needs to be answered. Are they heroes, villains, mercaneries (like the Secret Six), or something else completely?
I like these characters, and I like Dini's take on them (for the most part). I just wish I liked the stories he was using them to tell a little better. There's a big whole in Gotham with Bruce Wayne's absence and there's more than enough room for these ladies to carve out a little spot for themselves. Now if they could only decide who they wanted to be when they grow up.
I really do love this comic. Aside from making Tim Drake interesting again, Christopher Yost has managed to use a villain like Ra's al Ghul to his fullest - and he's not even breaking a sweat. Here's a the kind of hold-nothing-back revenge plot a villain with near unlimited resources like Ra's would actually employ.
His attack Drake comes from every side. There are no feints, each is meant to wound and, if possible, kill. Not only has Ra's set targets on all connected to Red Robin (Dick Grayson, Oracle, Batgirl, Alfred, Damian, Julie Madison, Lucius Fox, Jim Gordon, Selina Kyle, Vicki Vale), but there's another plan behind the scenes involving Hush that is hinted at but (thankfully) not revealed.
Really? This is what the daughter of Ra's al Ghul has been reduced to? Remotely manipulating her son's actions through his new bionic spine so she can make him kill Dick Grayson? Oh, and don't forget the hidden tomb, giant stone bat stalactite, the Bruce Wayne red herring, and the legion of demon followers filling the cemetery.
Luke Cage returns to his old neighborhood to settle a score in this first issue of the new three-issue mini-series. Other than a look back at who Luke Cage used to be there's not a lot here ('specially at $4), but you do get this early conversation between Cage and Spidey (one of my favorite New Avengers relationships) and a big throwdown between Cage and Hammerhead. Fans of the character may want to pick this one up, but the rest of us could take it or leave it.
They're BAAAAAACK. Cable and Hope return, and from the looks of it things are going to get bloody. Good first issue to start off the next big X-Men event, though even with the extra pages (and the bonus material thrown in) it still feels short.
The Riddler/Aesop storyline comes to a close with Edward Nigma holding a grudge at being used by those he calls "friends." When you can't trust three beautiful ex-cons clad in spandex, leather, and...vines, who can you trust?
Nothing you'll miss by giving this one a pass, except we do get one step closer to this Bat-villain returning to the other side of the law. I've liked the idea of the Riddler as a shady detective working both sides, but it seems hard to find him a spot in the current line of Bat-books (hmm...maybe a regular back-up story in Detective Comics?).
If the Riddler does return to his old ways we might get to see a little more of him, and I'm all for that.
This panel just cracked me up. The rabbit ronin's travels lead him to a chance meeting with fallen samurai Inuyoshi who will fight anyone (and quite possibly everyone) in his way to fulfill the last orders of his former master and retrieve the Sword of Narukami. A couple of big battles here, plus a twist (you may or may not see coming).
Well...that's over. Although I didn't hate Blackest Night, DC's latest "epic event" became a chore to read. There was simply too much going on here (most of it not that interesting).
I have no doubt we'll be seeing the reverberations from these events across the DCU (likely for years). Hopefully the legacy of Blackest Night will be better than the mini-series itself. Did Blackest Night leave the DCU in a better place than it found it? Time will tell.
Not too many surprises here (other than the return of the Martian Manhunter far earlier than I expected). If you made it this far into the series you'll no doubt see it through, though my final reaction is one of relief. Maybe now DC can get back to telling smaller stories and allow most of the Rainbow Brite Corps to fade into the background.