Ladies and gentlemen, I drank a 1/2 gallon of Gatorade yesterday. I am more hydrated than I have been in my entire life and I’m pretty sure my brain is suffering because of it. So small talk be damned, it’s review time.
AVENGERS PRIME #1 (OF 5) HA 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #17 2.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1 HA 3.99
IZOMBIE #2 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX NO WAY BACK HC 19.99
JSA ALL STARS #7 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #39 2.99
SERENITY FLOAT OUT ONE SHOT #1 FRANK STOCKTON CVR 3.5
THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
Stand back, I’m prepared to do criticism!
I wasn’t going to pick this one up at all but got suckered into it by Alan Davis’ pretty pretty drawerings. I don’t have much to say about the writing, because it’s typical Bendis fare; but it’s good Bendis fare, as we get some good cathartic character interaction between Tony and Steve that really needed to happen before the whole Heroic Age could take off. While the book seems to be heralded as the reunited Avengers back together for the first time since the Disassembled disaster, they actually spend most of the book’s length separated, which works in establishing what this series will focus on, as it’s definitely tied heavier to Thor than either of the other big three.
I don’t think that this book is truly in any way essential, other than the character interactions between Steve and Tony which could have easily been done in the opening pages of the mainline Avengers book. This is mostly an exercise in capitalism. It’s a cash grab, honestly. But it’s a well written and superbly drawn cashgrab, which is more than I can say for some other recent attempts.
I will be honest and say that I don’t know too much about Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s backstory. The entirety of my knowlege is made up by what was presented in this introductory issue. I enjoyed what was presented but I don’t have the emotional attachment to these characters the way some people do. I will say that from what I saw on the page, this series could be an interesting one as the dynamic and the setup is different from just about every other Marvel b0ok out there right now. It’s a team book without being a team book. The group of specialists that Hawkeye and Mockingbird run with in this book, including none other than Dominic Fortune, give off a dynamic not unlike Birds of Prey, which doesn’t bode well for the inevitable Green Arrow/Black Canary comparisons that are bound to stick with the book despite being much better written than that book ever could have hoped as well as establishing itself as a lynchpin in the Avengers universe.
Hawkeye, despite the fact that I haven’t had much exposure to him, is central to the Avengers dynamic. He’s as attached to Steve Rogers at this point as the Falcon is, and they play on that well in this issue. I think that this series will serve as a nice companion piece to the new Avengers-centric Marvel Universe. I just hope it doesn’t get hamstrung by the fact that Hawkeye is, let’s be honest, a 2nd tier character and series built around those tend to have fairly limited runs. Like Hawkeye’s own series that lasted about twelve issues before getting shut down so he could die in Avengers Dissassembled.
I stopped following the monthly exploits of Jonah Hex about twelve issues back. I just had to find some room to trim on the pull list and I switched it over to trades. But when this came along I had to pick it up because I’m a sucker for original graphic novels. This one is very well done, and feels like the monthly series but with the dial turned up to eleven. Honestly, this feels like what the movie should be. It’s a taut western tale that adheres to and embraces alot of the western tropes and devices, while seeming decidedly modern in it’s raw narrative structure and effectively blunt depictions of violence in the old west.
I’ll say that if you wanted mass market appeal for the character in the weeks leading up to his theatrical debut, you could have gone with an artist that is more easily palatable to the everyday reader, but Tony DeZuniga’s sketchy style fits the character well. He’s done some amazing work on some of my favorite characters, and while I think his style is a good fit for the narrative, some complaints about his artwork are bound to arise.
What I liked most about this book was really how it appeals to any and all Jonah Hex readers. Newbies get a pseudo-origin story and can jump right into the action with no real trouble at all, while old fans will undoubtedly love it for how well it stays in line with what’s come before. It hits all the notes it needs to and then some.
And that’s it for this week. I’m going to focus my attention on these scrumtious extra crispy strips from KFC that I’ve picked up for lunch. They are just aces, and they won’t immediately put you into a death coma like a DoubleDown will. So, that’s just a check in the plus column.
You know what the best part of yesterday’s “Avengers Day” festivities were? Seriously? When my co-worker brought in cake. Volstagg understands where I’m coming from when I straight up tell you that even the crappiest day could be saved by cake. I mean, obviously when the zombies come and the fecal matter hits the rotating blades, cake isn’t going to make up for that, but I guarantee you that it won’t not help. That’s a promise.
AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #2 2.99
DEADPOOL #23 HA 2.99
EXECUTOR HC (MR) 19.99
GALACTA DAUGHTER OF GALACTUS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #26 HA 2.99
SCALPED TP VOL 06 THE GNAWING (MR) 14.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #3 (OF 4) 2.99
X-FACTOR #205 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #236 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #1 2.99
I’m not gonna lie, dear readers…this week was slim pickin’s after last weeks full frontal assault by the big two. I will however give you what I can, as is my journalistic duty.
AVENGERS # 1
Let me get this out of the way, compared to New Avengers, this is about as Avenger-y an Avenger book can get. Sure, there’s a lot of Bendis’ trademark standing around and talking, but having recently re-read Busiek’s awesome run, there was a fair amount of expositional dialogue slinging in that era too, and I don’t know too many people who badmouth that run. Mostly out of fear that George Perez will come for them in the night and annihilate their souls with the power cosmic that he keeps stored in the lining of his Hawai’ian shirts.
Let’s see, Romita artwork? Check.
Clint Barton as Hawkeye? Check.
Steve Rogers giving an inspiring speech? Check
MOTHERF##KING KANG?!?!? CHECK!!!
Seriously, is there anything I think of as being more of an Avengers staple than Kang? No! Because he’s the most ludicrous Avengers villain of all time. He embodies the over-the-top grandiose nature of the book in ways that Dr. Doom or Ultron simply cannot. I know that’s a matter of opinion, but I would consider it to be fact, because that’s just how big my goddamned ego is. Kang has the sort of absurd over the top nature that could only be found within the pages of a comic book. I mean that with all the love and respect it entails. Comics as a medium have the ability to take the completely batshit insane and make it work the way that if you tried it on television or on film, you would be laughed at like a gimpy orangutan in a sailor outfit. Oh, the laughs you would garner if you tried to throw a time traveling despot into the workings of even the most out-there television show you could find. If Kang showed up in his purple helmet on the island on LOST, people would groan and punch themselves in the groin. Well, I would make a high pitched shrieking sound and bounce around the room like a walaby on angeldust, but that’s because I like things that nobody else likes.
The fact of the matter is that Bendis has gone back and made an Avengers book for the people who spent the last six years complaining that his books didn’t feel like they were Avengers books. Are those people really going to be able to make those claims when Kang shows up sporting a doomsday device that was supposedly built by a future version of Tony Stark and tells them that the future of the world depends on their new team triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds? No, those people will have to eat their words like a slice of spongey Avengers Day cake. How does it taste, people? The answer should be chocolate.
Wanna guess what I love more in comics than Kang? Give up?
Yeah, I went there. You think I stuck around through all of Green Arrow/Black Canary because I enjoyed the story. Nope. It’s because I am bound by honor to purchase any and all comics featuring a character whose costume involves fishnets. My brain is hard wired that way. Is that shallow? Maybe. How many people bought Power Girl just because of the boobage? I bought it because I love the character. The boobs are only a fraction of that element, so I suppose that makes me better than everyone else. That’s me, champion of ethics.
Anyway, this issue begins with Zatanna in full bondage mode, chained to a gigantic St. Andrew’s cross while the Joker is set to ram a gigantic drill through her torso. Fan service? You bet your ass. It’s all a swerve, of course. It’s a Zatanna book, nothing is going to be exactly what it seems like. But do you think anybody who just flipped open the book to see a hot brunette in fishnets and sexy boots bound and gagged in pure fetish fuel fashion is gonna put the book back on the rack after that? No. They’ll buy it. They have to. Unless they’re a female who can’t appreciate how friggin’ hot that opening page is. But take a closer look femi-nazis, that panel is all about the empowerment of the female form, that when we view a woman at her most helpless she’s truly always in control. Satisfied? I hope so, because I don’t really wantto overanalyze the book. It all really boils down to the fishnets. Let’s be honest.
I want to come out and say that as far as comics to film translations go, the franchise that seems to have taken the essense of the stories and chracters and adapted them best for the screen has to be the Iron Man series. Every character retains their core in ways that are lost with films like Batman, Superman, and the X-Men films. I think the most telling moment in Iron Man 2 is when Tony Stark is clutching a bottle of champagne, suited up in the armor and scratching the turntables at his birthday party. The film is very comfortable in portraying the character in moments that otherwise would seem awkward. The films embrace the atmosphere that a billionare in a weaponized suit creates. It’s a level of fantasy fulfillment and straightforward production that seems lost in other films. It doesn’t feel very tongue in cheek, it’s just presented at face value and the audience goes with it, because it seems natural.
Which really needs to be the case in a film like Iron Man. It’s like a ride, and you have to be willing to realize that. Iron Man 2 certainly has some setbacks that are evident in most sequels. I however do not see the problem that certain people do, claiming that the film has too many new characters. All the characters introduced in the film do wonders with the time they are given. Sam Rockwell probably does the most with the limited screen time he’s given, making Justin Hammer his own and providing an excellent foil for Tony Stark and the scenes where the two share the screen are absolutely phenomenal. The chemistry between the two actors is amazing. And I think that’s another crux of what makes the film work the way it does; the chemistry that all these actors bring to their roles is as top tier as you can get. Gwenyth Paltrow, who I normally despise, works well with anyone she’s put up against. The same goes for Downey, or Don Cheadle or even Mickey Rourke, who just seethes a sort of dirty despicability. What I like about this film is that it feels like a Marvel book come to life. We get Nick Fury and the Black Widow sharing scenes with Iron Man and War Machine, all these heroes converging on screen in a way we’ve never seen before. In films like The Dark Knight, we got Batman and multiple villains, creating a miniature scale version of this effect, but that was a microcosm while this feels grander in scope.
While some will argue that War Machine and Black Widow don’t get enough time to be fleshed out completely, and therefore giving the producers no reason to use them in the first place, I think the film does a sufficient job in presenting them in such a way that when the inevitable spin-off films happen, they can hit the ground running in ways they previously could not. The origin story is such a boring aspect to most heroes, and most of the time we’re so familiar with them that we get bored when they play out on the screen, or we get angry if they change something in such a way that it betrays the spirit of the source material. I believe that with Iron Man, Marvel is doing an amazing job of world building. They have more room to maneuver than they ever have previously and it’s sad that DC can’t pull off the same feat. I personally would love to see a post-credits scene in Green Lantern where Hal Jordan is tracking a fast moving bogey only to happen upon a red blur that slows down just enough for us to get a glimpse of The Flash. Or maybe he crashes an F-15 into an invisible jet. Who cares, but let us see a larger world.
Like I said, the film is not perfect, and It probably could have used another big action scene to offset the more character driven dialogue pieces. I don’t need action all the time but the first film felt more balanced in this regard. I will admit however that the final set piece in this film trumps the less than stellar Iron Monger fight in the original, even if it is somewhat derivitive of that particular setup.
So after a casting search that included choices so bizarre that fanboy heads most likely exploded in a most literal fashion (I’m sure someone had a heart attack after that Will Smith rumor, and if not him then I’m sure the idea of Jim from the Office donning the shield caused someone to suffer a stroke) we have our Captain America, and he’s apparently also the former Human Torch.
I support this casting choice 100%. Evans is a fine young actor who I think is charasmatic and commanding enough to pull of Steve Rogers. But this editorial isn’t just me salivating over a decent casting choice for 1000 words or so. No, this editorial is a serious look at casting choices and their effect on the collective psyche of the pre-existing fanbase. I find the ways that the fans react to casting decisions outright hilarious at times. But in this instance we get a rarity. An actor who once appeared in a Marvel film as one character jumping into another franchise playing another character. OH THE CONFUSION!
Except it really doesn’t matter. Honestly, I think most of the general population has forgotten those Fantastic Four movies anyway. It’s only the people who have a regular and steady attachment to comics who would ever really give a damn. Do you think the average joe schmoe is going to give a damn whether the guy playing Green Lantern was also that sword guy from Wolverine Origins? I don’t think so, any more than they cared that Reynolds was in Blade Trinity before he was Deadpool. Remember that abysmal piece of trash? Yeah, you do. Because you’re a comic book fan and you can’t let it go. But the rest of the world has.
The truth of the matter is that for some reason, we as a community (I’m speaking of the comic collecting hordes) have a personal investment in the adaptations of our favorite characters. In our minds, anybody but the choice we have already picked out in our heads prior to the acknowlegement of a movie’s possibility of existence is considered a complete and utter failure before seeing anything in the way of evidence to support our claims. And so we have people saying that Evans will be a horrible Captain America because of the way he portrayed Johnny Storm. I honestly can’t see the connection. That’s like saying he’ll be horrible in the upcoming Losers adaptaion because of the way he was in Not Another Teen Movie. Or that he’ll reek in Scott Pilgrim because of his work in Sunshine. I don’t see the connection.
I remember people who I worked with in the shop talking about Robert Downey Jr.’s casting as Iron Man a few years back. People were saying that it would be a disaster. That he was a trainwreck of an actor who would never be able to pull it together long enough to make a decent Tony Stark. Fortunately, they later ate their words with a side of fries because I don’t think anyone will deny exactly how amazing Downey was in that role. Looking back on it, it seems as if Iron Man was created all those years ago just as an excuse to have Robert Downey Jr. play him on the big screen.
And who is to say that in a few years time we won’t be saying the same thing about Chris Evans. He’s obviously got some measure of talent to be racking up high-profile roles in multiple films even prior to this announcement. People keep mouthing off about how he’s in too many comic book films. With this and Fantastic Four plus Scott Pilgrim and The Losers; that’s like complaining that John Wayne did too many westerns and war films. Are you going to begrudge an actor taking roles that he genuinely thinks he can do service to based solely on the source material. How many damned Victorian era literature based films has Kiera Knightley done? Are we supposed to give her hell for that? No, we aren’t. We’re supposed to give her hell for looking like she hasn’t eaten since the last lunar cycle. (She’s really skinny, people.)
My point with this little rant is this; give the boy a chance. Don’t tear him apart before you see the film. Because if you pre-judge the whole affair before a trailer even airs, you’re gearing yourself up to hate it regardless of the quality that may be there when it’s all said and done. And I honestly think this kid has what it takes to hold his own in a scene with Downey when it comes time to do an Avengers film and that’s more than I can say for John Krasinski. (Sorry Jim.)