Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wolverine Reactions Trickle In

I'm seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine tonight, so I'll post my thoughts tomorrow. I'd largely been avoiding watching clips or reading too much about the film in buildup to its release.

But I have read a few reviews as they've come out: Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have little love for Logan's solo outing. David Poland at The Hot Blog says it's not great, but not bad either. And L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan, whose review last week of The Soloist I couldn't have disagreed with more, likes the film.

I also think it's interesting that there is no ad for the movie's opening in today's Calendar section of the L.A. Times. Perhaps Fox feels the shrinking number of newspaper readers are not the target audience for this movie, which will surely score a nice large take at the box office.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reading a Big Stack of Comics, Part 1

OK, so the past few days I polished off a couple of books I was reading (The Martian Chronicles, by the great Ray Bradbury, and Genesis: Chapter & Verse, by the whole band) and immediately tackled a large stack of unread comics that had been growing next to my desk for several months now. I'm really only about half way through, and some of these are far from fresh, but here's a quick comment on each one:

Unknown Soldier #1 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99): Great art and an interesting set up. May have to check this one out, as it would be great to find a new Vertigo series to get behind.

DMZ #35 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99): I'm way behind on this series, but this was a good issue and I'd very much like to read the conclusion when it's collected.

Action Comics #849 (DC, $2.99): Superman fights a guy who thinks he gets his powers from prayers. Good idea, not really developed enough to recommend. #850 (DC, $3.99): A fun anniversary-style issue with some very nice art from Renato Guedes. #852-853 (DC, $2.99): A two-issue Countdown tie-in centered on Jimmy Olsen that was quite unremarkable.

Hellblazer #250 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99): A Christmas issue with a bunch of pretty good short stories by some very talented creators. Well worth hanging on to and re-reading in December. (Plus, I can't believe this series has hit 250 issues! I remember when #1 hit the stands ...)

The Punisher #64 (Marvel/Max, $2.99): The middle of a storyline, but the way the Punisher was written and the reveal at the end made this work.

Invincible Iron Man #3-5 (Marvel, $2.99 each): These are damn good -- far and away one of the most entertaining Iron Man comics I've read and absolutely perfect for someone who liked the movie. Now, I gotta find out how this one ended ...

Young X-Men #5 (Marvel, $2.99): This was a mess. I don't know these characters well not having read more than a few issues of the previous series, New X-Men, but someone dies in this issue, while the former New Mutants are there in body if not spirit. #6 (Marvel, $2.99) was much better but still not doing enough for me to care.

Ambush Bug: Year None #1 (DC, $2.99): This book was hilarious, which is exactly what I want from a story by Keith Giffen and script by Robert Loren Fleming. There's lots of great in-jokes and some good chuckles as AB investigates the death of Jonni DC. More comics should be fun and funny like this.

DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1 (DC, $3.99): I don't really know what was happening in this comic, but with art by Adam Kubert and his dad, Joe Kubert, it at least looked nice.

Elephantmen: War Toys #3 and Elephantmen #14 (Active Images/Image, $2.99 each) are both very welcome reads because they're, thankfully, not like anything else a major publisher is putting out right now. Plus, it's always pretty and Rich stuffs it chock full of actually interesting bonus goodies.

Wormwood: The Last Enemy (Avatar, $7.99): This is the first I've read of this series from Garth Ennis about a guy who'se the Antichrist. This is one of those books where I think the pitch was surely better than the execution, which suffers from laziness in the writing and stiff artwork.

Resistance #1 (Wildstorm, $3.99): This is based on a video game and most of the two tales in this issue are just kind of setting up the universe. With not much actually happening, I have no idea how anyone who doesn't play the game will be interested in the slightest.

Uncle Slam Fights Back #1 (Oni Press, $4.99): So get this: It's about a patriotic superhero who's gone completely looney and can't handle regular life too well even with a talking dog wearing a fire helmet helping him out. It's hard for something trying to be funny in this way (i.e., poking fun at radical "patriots") to compete when the real world is already full of such folks literally self-destructing before our very eyes.

Legion of Super-Heroes #37-43 (DC, $2.99 each): I picked these up because Jim Shooter is capable of writing some really nice comics (see my love for Harbinger and early Valiant stuff). Plus, I'd never read his work on Legion or much of any Legion stuff at all and thought this might be the time to try it out. Turns out it was, because these books are really terrific. Shooter gives us a straightforward story that has action, character, humor while making a ton of sense and completely avoiding continuity issues or getting mixed up in a crossover of some kind. And artist Francis Manapul renders this all with a very appealing sense of style. I thoroughly enjoyed these comics and now will have to go score copies of #44-50 and hope that the truncated end of the series doesn't mess things up too badly.

Strongman (Slave Labor, $9.95): This is a short graphic novel about a Mexican wrestler and one-time masked crime fighter who gets back into the game and redeems himself. I personally don't get the Luchador wrestling thing (most of what I know I learned from early Love & Rockets), but this was entertaining in a disposalbe entertainment sort of way.

Funny Misshapen Body (Touchstone, $16): I almost gave up on this graphic novel memoir from Jeffrey Brown about 30 pages in, and I'm glad I stuck with it because it ended up being quite good. This despite the limitations of the genre — almost every cartoonist memoir involves issues with sex, health and/or money problems and the struggle to find themselves as an artist who draws comics. But Brown's sketchy and simple art is likable and his personality — less obsessive and morose than most indy cartoonists — pulled me in for an enjoyable stay.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Notes on The Spirit and Watchmen movies

Yes, I suck as a blogger ... I can't promise daily updates, but I am redoubling my efforts to get more stuff on this blog.

In the meantime, it seems I'm not the only one who saw something interesting in The Spirit: critic, blogger and film journo David Poland finally caught the film on Blu-ray and was pleasantly surprised by it.

Meanwhile, you can catch this piece I wrote about the VFX on the film over at Animation

And in case you missed it, I had three Watchmen-related articles in Variety a bit back: a look at the VFX work on the film, a chart-like look at the makers of the film, and an interview with Zack Snyder. I'll try to post some of the excerpts from that interview, which was quite interesting, when I have a chance.