Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Comic Books’

House Of M” — (2012©) book review
This review is for the soft bound edition of “House Of M” which was originally published in 2005.  The “book” consists of eight issues of X-men and Avengers comics collected in this packaging. The storyline was written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Olivier Coipel.  The story “seems” to happen in an alternate universe and is about the creation of an alternate reality created by one of the X-men / mutants / Avengers – Wanda Maximoff aka: the Scarlet Witch.
I read this book because it came recommended by one of the blogs I follow ( “the !n(tro)verted yogi” located at: https://berniegourley.com/).  It sounded interesting from his review and I thought my son might have a copy so I contacted him (my son) and the rest is history.
Background:  I used to read comics (mostly Marvel comics) when I was young.  I collected both the X-men and the Avengers series (along with many others), so I have some background in the basic teams and characters.  I therefore recognized most of the super-heroes in the book.  Not all, but most.  Additionally, I have watched most of the Marvel movies over the last 10+ years.
Anyway, it appears Marvel has run out of super-villains for their major teams to fight, so they’ve gone off the deep end and created “alternate universes” and alternate timelines so they can rehash old battles or struggle with the philosophical issues of dealing with “alternates”.
In this story Wanda has created an alternate world where all of her friends are supposed to be happy.  There’s a problem though.  She misses a couple of them and they, in turn, “free the minds” of others until there are a sufficient number to go battle her for reality.
The story is okay, if a bit overly dramatic, but the characters are true to my (distant) memories of them.  The art is very good.  It’s more in the “full-figured” “Jack Kirby” muscular style which I prefer to the (I guess) more current anime style.  The paper is super-glossy which allows for much better color than the old paper stock I used to buy as a lad.  The only comment / complaint I have is there is a tendency to go across pages and then down pages without providing dinosaurs (me) with a visual clue of which way I’m supposed to read the panels on the facing pages.  They seem to go sideways (across two pages) then down on one page and the next, all on the same two pages.  This is a fairly minor comment though.
Bottom line:  I liked the story, the drawings and the colorings so I would recommend (moderate to strong) this book to anyone interested in either or both groups.  A couple of final comments:  I just checked the price on the back cover and it is $25!!!  I don’t know how Marvel expects children to buy these as even over eight original issues that’s $3 a pop!  To put this in perspective, I was buying comics at $.10 per issue.  I guess at some point since then a comet hit the earth and all of us dinosaurs moved on to books – I mean went extinct…  And, this collection is one in a series, so once you’re in for a penny, you’re probably in for a pound (of flesh).
Oh, and by the way, the link to Bernie’s specific review of this book is: https://berniegourley.com/2021/02/25/book-review-house-of-m-by-brian-bendis/
If you have a few minutes to visit his site, I recommend it, too.
.
On This Day In:
2020 When?
2019 Two Guides
2018 A Call For You
2017 Because I Read
2016 On What Matters…
2015 Social Security
2014 Bewitching
2013 Visiting Joy
2012 Dedication To Today
2011 Project Second Chance – Adult Literacy
Turning Coal Into Diamonds

Read Full Post »

Today I took my son (James) and his girlfriend (Natasha) to see the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie which was just released yesterday.  Definitely two thumbs up!!
This was a rare (for me) entry into a comic-movie with no back-knowledge of the primary characters despite the fact their initial appearance (in comics) was during my prime comic collecting years (1965 to 1975).  I honestly don’t remember them at all.
So, what’s good?  To start off – it’s funny.  I laughed out loud several times!  And I chuckled or smiled a whole lot more times.  Next, the action.  It’s a fast paced movie and I certainly didn’t feel like it was a two hour movie (at least, until I had to sit through the credits waiting for the final Easter egg).  Third, the story and acting.  Basically, the story is about folks deciding to “BE” heroes.  They make a conscious decision and accept a personal recognition of the probable outcome of being a hero – we all have short life-spans anyway.  The acting is good enough that I was able to set aside the “fantasy” of the movie and identify with the individual Guardians.  That is very difficult in most run of the mill “people” movies, let alone in a “space-adventure” comic book / super-hero movie.  Finally, the special effects and cinematography are very good.  It’s well shot and I never felt like I was too close to the action to see it “all” happening (like in most of the Transformer movies), or too far away so I felt like I couldn’t really make out what was happening (like the final battle of Independence Day or the multi-IronMan suit battle at the end of IronMan III).
Final recommendation – this is a must see movie if you are into ANY of the following genres: Sci-Fi, special effects, comic book adaptations, good versus evil, or just all-out action movies.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!
.
On This Day In:
2013 Little Lives
2012 Evolution
2011 Excellence At Performance = 10,000 Hours
2009 A Brief Poem…
Crater Lake Trip with James

Read Full Post »

And yet another comic book collection from my son, James.  This one is titled: “The Flash: Omnibus“, (2011©).
I have very mixed feelings about this book – and at over 430 pages and hard-bound, this is definitely a book!  I liked the character of the Flash when I was growing up.  Marvel Comics didn’t really have the same  kind of super-powered hero.  They had fast heroes, but nothing like the Flash.  But, in the DC universe, the Flash was still a 2nd / 3rd tier hero to me.  Well behind Batman and Superman (1st tier) and many others (like Green Lantern) (2nd tier).
Anyway, in this story we have the creation arch for the re-boot of the whole of the DC universe.  The Flash breaks the dimensional barrier and splits the universe into 52 different versions.  This means the DC universe has a virtually unlimited number of options in re-writing all of its heroes with new endings to all of the old stories.  While I don’t think this is actually “practical”, it is theoretically possible with an internally consistent universe logic.
Now, why MY mixed feelings?  Mostly because the book is divided up by two artists, one of whom I like (about 1/3rd of the book) and one I don’t really care for (the other 2/3rd).   Had I paid the full, retail price for this book, I would not have been a happy camper.   Between the bad drawing and the jumping around in the story (kind of embedded universes), the story suffers and I was left feeling, who are these people and why should I care about them?  In the end, I didn’t really, which was too bad.
Will I keep reading The Flash?  Yeah, as long as they’re being supplied by my son for free, but I don’t think I’d ever actually pay for them – particularly if the book has the bad artist.
Bottom line: weak recommendation.
.

 

Read Full Post »

Another comic book collection from my son, James.  This is the re-boot of the Justice League of America as the “Justice League International: vol 1“, (2008©).  Does it work?  Yeah.  Is it great?  No, not really.
To start off with, the book is kind of drawn from the early 60’s method.  The book is hard-bound, rather than just thick paper like most of these “modern” collections.  And it’s done on old school paper, not the glossy stuff they put everything one these days.  Overall effect – I liked it!!
Now, meat and potatoes – the art work itself is good – old school, so not the super-heroic, ultra-muscle drawing so common today.  The story is well put together and has a decent flow.  It doesn’t jump all over the place like an Ang Lee movie.  As a first introduction to many of these characters, the book was well done.  Some of the characters are “old”, like Green Lantern, but he’s not the Hal Jordan character I grew up with.  Also, Batman is a very interesting character / leader in this version of the League.  I found that intriguing, because I was always used to Batman being the loner.  Finally, I appreciated how the various heroes have personality quirks which cause them to rub each other the wrong way.  That made for group dynamics I don’t remember ever seeing in DC Comics before.
Bottom line:  recommended reading.
.

 

Read Full Post »

This is another of the comics from my son, James.  In this one, “The Flash: Rebirth“, (2010©), the main character (hero) is The Flash, who’s super-power is speed.  As a youth, I enjoyed The Flash, but he was never one of my favorites.  Basically, I knew him from a few of his own issues and from his participation in the Justice League of America.
With the passage of time, most of these characters have been “reborn” either by retiring or somehow otherwise transitioning (dying) into a new mortal / human who gains the super power.  This is one of those stories.  Basically, the story brings back all of the “Flashes” from 1940-ish onwards and throws them together for this series (book form).  The story line is rather disjointed due to poor character introductions and was difficult for me to follow.  Fortunately, there is a story arch summary at the end of the book which explains what was supposed to be happening in the book.  I think it’s an indictment of the comic when it has to be explained in text form at the end of the book.  Oh, well…
I liked the art work a lot – dramatic (which suits my taste).  The writing, so-so…   Weak recommendation.
.

Read Full Post »

My son, James, collects comic books.  Not comic books like I used to collect – monthly issues for $.10, $.12, $.15 and then a quarter.  He collects the actual books which are consolidated versions of the single monthly issues which I used to buy.  (Back in my day, they didn’t have consolidated versions…)  Anyway, he’s been passing them on to me by the foot-load –  I have about two and a half foot worth stacked in various places around the house.
I’ve started to read them, so I’ve decided to start passing along my comments here.  I’ve read a few of the books but not included them because I generally felt they were too trivial to bother noting, but I’ve changed my mind.  I’m not sure of why.  I’m still considering the reasons in my own head.
Hawkman – Omnibus Volume 1 (2011©)
This book is almost 700 pages long!  Obviously, this is not a “comic” from my day.  It is, in fact, a work of literature.  I’m not sure how many pages a comic book needs to move into the “literature” category, but this one definitely drops into the category with the “whomp” of a decent dictionary.  My background knowledge of the main character is very limited as he (Hawkman) was very much a third (or fourth) tier character back in my day.  He was in the Justice League of America and I remember checking out some individual issues, but he was never someone I followed.
Anyway, the character seems to have been recreated in the “Highlander” mode of living forever – slightly different in that he is reincarnated, not simply immortal, but basically, he and his wife are immortal.  The book covers a couple of their lifetimes and there are promises of lives to come.  All in all, I found it a surprisingly good “book”.  It is definitely something I’d continue to follow when the second omnibus is issued, but it is extremely pricey (by my standards), so unless my son is passing it on to me, I’ll not be spending $50-plus dollars to read further adventures.
For anyone not familiar with the character, Hawkman has wings to help him fly and he is reasonably “super” strong.  The flight and strength come from a harness made of a non-Earthly metal which affects gravity.  Please, no comments about weight vs mass in the area of being super strong – it’s just a comic book…  Bottom line: a surprisingly interesting character and I highly recommend it if you can borrow it or find it second hand.
The Spectre – Infinite Crisis Aftermath (2007©)
This is a much shorter book (142 pages), but it seems about the standard size for these compilations (as opposed to the doorstop of “Hawkman”).  This is another third tier character I barely remember from my youth.  The Spectre is a ghostly character who goes around “harvesting” the souls of folks who have committed major sins (mostly murder).  There seems to be some requirement to be connected to a recently deceased person (this is not fully explained in this volume).  So, Spectre has to first convince the recently dead to merge with him, and then he has to get on with his real business.
The individual stories are all graphically violent (excessive not visual) in nature and this is not a series suitable for pre-teens (probably not teens either).  Also, the artist seems to change from modern detailed drawing to old fashioned smooth drawing, sometime in adjoining frames, which I found visually annoying.  All in all, I might follow the character for one or two more collections, but there would have to be some real story-line development / change as revenge for murder simply doesn’t hold my attention as an over-arch for the story.  The stories are simply too dark for my tastes.  Bottom line: I would consider following this character only if there were some major changes in the story basis.
Green Lantern Legacy: The Last Will & Testament Of Hal Jordan (2002©)
Green Lantern was a character I followed in my youth.  He was no where near as fleshed out as he is now – some 45-50 years later.  He’s gone through multiple personas and I guess that’s a good thing.  It’s certainly better than pretending the character doesn’t age, but history is changing around him.  In this volume, the Green Lantern I knew (Hal Jordan) is dead and is passing on the ring to another person.  I got “it”, but I didn’t.  The artwork is very good and consistent with a nice variation between simple and extremely complex images.  By that I mean, some are of just the character and some are of the millions of things around in a Green Lantern universe.
Bottom line: while this book itself doesn’t sell me on Green Lantern, I would definitely read follow on’s and it seems likely I’d get hooked on the character arch.
Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes – The Early Years (2011©)
This volume is the “origin” story for the Legion Of Super-Heroes.  This was a teen version of the Justice League Of America, but spread out across the planets instead of just being American super-heroes.  As a “Marvel” comics follower (as opposed to a “DC” follower), the Legion always seemed to me to be a reaction to the X-men.  In fact, it’s the other way around, but the X-men (historically) have been better received (more popular) than the Legion.
What did I like – Saturn Girl.  She is the only interesting character in this volume.  None of the characters, except Superboy, seem to have their powers well developed and that may be the main issue for me, but even though Saturn Girl’s only power is her ability to read minds, she still came across as the best character.  “Best” meaning developed and interesting.  I enjoyed seeing a female character not only play a predominant role in the comic, but also assume leadership in the Legion.
What did I dislike – developing powers is hard to understand when one minute you can barely hold your own and the next you’re lifting ships full of civilians and then you’re back to being “weak” again.  Also, the individual powers (and heroes) don’t seem that great either.  At first I wondered why this bothered me and then I realized it’s because they are not unique in their powers on their home world.  They are only heroes because they are on Earth where not everyone has their ability.  In theory, the same argument could be made about Superman/boy, but it is less valid because his planet is destroyed and there are few other Kryptonians (but of course there are more all the time).
Outside of the character development, what was wrong?   My main complaint would be the art work.  In this case there is a full issue of suddenly “stringy” super-heroes, who then flip back to being drawn normally in the next issue (chapter) of the book.  Needless to say, stringy super-heroes are not my cup of tea.  I would still buy the comic if the story line is good, but I would not enjoy the artwork as much.  Finally, there is the issue of intoxicated promiscuity.  Because the book focuses on a young lady, she ultimately ends up intoxicated and waking up in bed with another hero.  Admittedly, I’m old fashioned, but I would ask: does a young female have to be intoxicated to consent to sex and if she does have sex, is it too much to ask for some mention of protection (disease and birth control).  Granted there may not be any such things as sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies in the future, but while the story is centuries in the future, it’s still being read by people today.  Now, having asked my questions, I’ll answer: it’s ridiculous to imply anyone HAS to get intoxicated to desire and/or enjoy sex AND I would have wanted the issue of protection dealt with regardless of whether the interesting character were male or female.  But that’s just me…
Group comics are only interesting if the individual characters are interesting and if there is some issue of group dynamics being dealt with.  In this case, Saturn Girl, Brainiac and Superboy are all interesting characters to me, (with the others being far less interesting so far) so it will come down to their interaction as a group.  Bottom line: I would definitely follow this series for several more volumes to see what happens to the group.
Justice League – Volume 1: Origin (2012)
What does a comic book publisher do when they feel they are running out of story lines after 50+ years of stories?  You create a new universe with mostly the same people!  This allows you to re-boot all of your story lines and re-tell your old stories in different ways or with different endings.  Now, how do you get from here to there?  Well, traditionally to have one of your “super-super” characters (good or bad) do something which alters the the time-space continuum and blah, blah, blah, everything different.  Hence, DC Comics now has the new 52!!  In a way, this is even better than the old way of doing things because DC now has 52 ways of telling and re-telling the same stories with a host of ways to end up with alterations.  This book is the origin for the new Justice League.
Now the JLofA is one of the DC comic series I did follow as a child.  Having said that, I don’t remember any of their specific issues or arch-enemies.  I do remember the individual heroes and I did like them in their individual series too (some of which I bought).  The classic characters are Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.  I’m not sure when the additional character (Cyborg) was added, but he is appearing in this so he’s now an “original” member of the League.
So, where to start – the artwork.  It’s great but a bit dark for my taste.  This seems to be a big carry-over from the famous “Dark Knight” days of Batman and made more famous by all of the movies.  It seems the darker the movie, the more it’s popularity, so the comics have trended the same track.  Does it work?  Well, most of the time, yes.  In this volume, most of the characters don’t know each other, so it’s an introduction for them as much as one to them (for us).  Does this work?  Yes, but it’s not particularly believable.  The problem with this book, like most other “super groups” is finding a villain powerful enough to believe there is a real conflict.  In this case, it’s not difficult to believe the villain is worthy, it’s just difficult to believe some of the “lesser” heroes having any chance of surviving.  When you’re a child, you can put aside this problem, but the older I get the harder it seems to be.  Anyone Superman would have a hard time with would destroy Batman or the Flash; anyone they could handle would be insignificant for Superman.
Anyway, setting aside this issue, what’s good? Batman and Wonder Woman!! Batman has no powers and so must get by on brains and leadership. Wonder Woman is just a bad-ass female warrior! Without going too much farther into the story, that’s it… an average guy and a dynamite female – that’s enough to get me to sign-up for future issues/volumes. Interestingly enough, Batman and the Flash were my two original favorites in the JLofA. Bottom line: I’d buy this series for a while just to see the story lines for these two characters. I’ve never been big on Aquaman and never heard of Cyborg, so I’d have to see how these fleshed out. The Flash could be a big attraction for me if he is developed better. Superman will always be a problem character and I don’t like the psych-case they are trying to make out of Green Lantern, but I’d still give the League a good long follow before deciding against them.
So, that’s about five inches of comic book reading over the last few days. If you used to read comics in your youth, I highly recommend you go back and take a look at both the DC and Marvel universes. If nothing else, you’ll know what the action movies will be like in the next decade…
.

 

Read Full Post »

I took Friday off to get a little maintenance done on the car and to just chill a bit from work.  I also went out and picked up the DVD for “Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows (part 1)“.
Hil and I watched it last night.  Hil hasn’t read the books and hasn’t followed the movie series closely, so she was a bit lost.  I’ve only read the books once and although I’ve seen every movie, I don’t tend to “study” them the way my daughter Sarah does.  Anyway, it was my second viewing.  The first was at the theater the weekend of first release.  I enjoyed it (again) even though I still didn’t feel like the movie made much sense.  I also didn’t like the producers splitting the ending movie up by a whole year (parts 1 and 2).  In my opinion, it’s just to drive up the sales of both tickets and DVDs.  Still, it is what it is…
During the day (yesterday), I watched “The Core“.  This is a SciFi movie which I must have seen 20 or 30 times in the last 10 years.  (Actually, I believe it came out in ’03, so the last 8 years.)  I enjoy it more each time I watch it.  There are just some great “movie moments” in this film (for me).  One of the classics is when the character Hilary Swank plays is waiting outside a hearing room where she believes she is to be court-martialed and she gets called in and has no place to put her gum, so she swallows it.  That was just a great, real-life, happened to me moment (forced to swallow gum, not getting court-martialed).  The movie is about the core of the earth stops spinning and a group of scientists must go to the core and restart the spinning.  The effects are great the first few times you see them, average after about ten and so-so after twenty views.  BUT the acting gets better and better!  There is a lot of subtle character interaction and that’s what makes it so enjoyable for me to re-watch.  This is definitely a movie I’ll have to pick up on DVD (when the price is right).  Highly recommended!!
Yesterday, I also read a graphic novel: “Fallen Son: The Death Of Captain America”, written by Jeph Loeb (2007©).   My son (James) and I were discussing patriotism and he was out a the mall and thought I would like this book, so he bought it for me.  I grew up reading most of the comics Marvel Comic Company produced.  Captain America was one of the many characters I read about, but without super powers, he seemed one of the least interesting to me.  Marvel was always ahead of their time in dealing with societal issues – particularly the angst of being “different” in a society where many people just want to “be normal” and “fit in”.  I never really thought much about how a fictional, comic-book patriot would feel about what was happening in America during the George W. Bush Presidency.  After reading “Fallen Son“, it’s refreshing to see Captain America came out against many of the abuses of personal liberty which came out of that Administration and time period.  It is also interesting to see the company have the character captured and “assassinated” in order to draw attention to the ideals of freedom which Captain America came to represent.
Of course, Cap is a popular character, so after a suitable period of time he gets resurrected (more correctly, he never actually died) by Marvel, but still, it is nice to see some company stood up for fundamental American values.  I wonder if Marvel took any “heat” for their stance and if they would be allowed to do it again (as the comic company is currently owned by Disney Corp).
It seems there is always a conflict between the needs of the many and the needs of the few.  This theme keeps coming up in my lifetime – be it in comics, the Army, StarTrek, current politics, or American history.  I don’t know that there is any resolution to the question.  What is “safety and security”?  Are we safer with nine criminals and one innocent in prison than we are with all ten free?  Historically, this country has – in theory – always sided with it being better to have guilty free.  As a practical matter, I’d wager the reverse is the reality though – particularly if the incarcerated “innocent” is poor or a minority.  (But I digress…)
I am currently reading a short book on the faiths of several of the founding fathers.  It is fascinating.  More later…
.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: