Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Marshal Law": The Non-Movie!

A couple of months ago, I posted something about how the non-smash success of the "Watchmen" movie might be a bit of a blessing since if it had been a huge it, the studios would have rushed to produce more "grim and gritty" R-rated superhero stuff and we would have had the sins of the 90s comic books repeated on the big screen.

Some people were aghast that I'd make such a comment, saying that it's like I'm throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

But if you listened to the Word Balloon interview with Kevin O'Neill from a few weeks back (which I just got around to listening to today), you'll hear a little story about how a "Marshal Law" movie WAS in the works as the build-up to "Watchmen" started to increase, but after "Watchmen" came out and kind of fizzled, the "Marshal Law" project was abandoned. The director who was attached to the movie -- the one who met with Kev O'Neill to discuss the project: McG.

So maybe I was throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but when the baby is McG's "Marshal Law," I'll throw that baby right out into the back yard. And then I'll kick it.

Man, I love "Marshal Law" by Pat Mills and Kev O'Neill, though. I'll have to find my copies of that first Epic series and do a reread for "When Words Collide" this summer. That series was genius.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: Ghost Rider #35

I review the heck out of "Ghost Rider" #35 over at CBR. You should probably read the comic, read my review, then come back here and say, "you were right about everything! How can you be so right?"

So the ongoing "Ghost Rider" series ends, an uglified Sailor Moon is injected into the Marvel universe, and we have to wait a few months for the continued adventure of Johnny Blaze and company.

Such is the hardscrabble life of a Spirit of Vengeance.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Review: X-Force #15

Yes, the Mutant Messiah is still cause for a whole lot of fervor. Everyone's out to kill her or save her, because the fate of the world depends on it. It's a tired concept that doesn't seem able to evolve into anything new, and "X-Force" #15 just gives us more of it.

Clayton Crain's doing some pretty nice work on this issue, though, taking his style into more of an expressionistic realm, giving a deranged look to the proceedings.

Yet, it's just a whole lot of fuss over the Mutant Messiah and do we really want to see more of that, with Cable, Deadpool, and Stryfe thrown into the X-Force mix? I don't think I do.

Check out my CBR review of the issue for more details: X-Force #15

What do you think about this Kyle/Yost/Crain confection?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When Words Collide: Best and Worst of Morrison

Do I dare to make a Top Five Worst Grant Morrison Comics list? Indeed I do!

Will I relent to the unyielding attacks by the pro-"DC 1,000,000" readers? Never!

Do I also provide a Ten Best list? Of course.

I don't hate any of these Morrison comics, but something has to be the worst, and it's these five.

Check out the lists in this week's "When Words Collide," see me superficially try to explain my position in 2,000 words, and then come back here to tell me your Top 10/Bottom 5 of Grant Morrison. I dare you!

UPDATE: Bill Reed fires a counter-attack at CSBG!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: Impaler #3

Here's a comic I didn't know anything about when I got the .pdf from Top Cow to review, but I was so impressed with "Impaler" #3 that I asked if I could take a look at the first two issues, and then ordered the collected edition of Volume 1 from Amazon.

So, yeah, it's a very good comic.

I'm mostly impressed with artist Matt Timson who uses a mixed-media style to make this comic look unlike anything else from the Top Cow line. Timson's a damned good artist, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him working on higher profile projects before long. "Impaler" is pretty cool, though, and as long as he's working on it, I'll be interested in reading the series.

Check out my CBR review and see what Vlad is up to these days: Impaler #3

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guess Who's Sliding to Mondays?

Now that Rich Johnston's FINAL "Lying in the Gutters" column has come out, I can finally talk about a secret plan that's been brewing over at CBR:

Yup, my "When Words Collide" column will move to the Monday slot beginning next week!

Obviously, I'm not any kind of replacement for Rich, and "WWC" will continue to feature the same kind of insightful/random/witty/serious/arch/dorky commentary that you're used to seeing from me, but it will be cool to be the Monday CBR guy from now on.

And, no, I'm certainly not the "next big thing" Jonah mentions in Rich's column -- I do know what that is, and it will definitely be a popular addition to the CBR site, but I'm sworn to secrecy -- but that particular new addition will not be popping up on Mondays. Mondays are all mine!

Aw yeah, Mondays!

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for topics/questions that you'd like me to tackle in "WWC," let me know. This week's final Wednesday column is based on the reader-requested "Worst Morrison Comics Ever" topic.

Dungeons and Dragons: It Begins

So if you're a follower of mine on Twitter or a Facebook pal, you know that I received the 4th Edition D&D rules boxed set for my birthday and I've launched an ultra-nerdy, ultra-awesome family D&D night which may or may not expand to more hardcore gaming in the future (maybe at the local comic shop -- James, what do you say? -- or maybe an after-school club I'd run). I've owned a lot of D&D books in my day (mostly 1st Edition), and played a fair amount, but not in a long while.

So here's my question to you genius gaming readers of mine: What's the best pre-packaged 4th Edition adventure module (or modules) for beginning gamers? I could use some help on this one.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: Batman Mad Love and Other Stories

I thought Paul Dini did a decent job on his "Detective Comics" run -- I enjoyed it for what it was, though it suffered in scale compared to Morrison's "Batman" -- but he was definitely responsible for some of the best Batman stories of the 1990s in "Batman: The Animated Series" and the various comic book spin-offs of that project.

This hardcover collection brings all (as far as I know) the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm Batman comics together for a meal-sized romp through Gotham's wacky underworld. And I review the heck out of it.

See what I have to say over at CBR: Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories

And here's a question (or three) for you: Were there any Batman stories set in the regular DCU that were worth reading in the 1990s? Which ones? Why?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Nana in my Pants"

You haven't seen the newest episode of "Advanced Common Sense"? "How old ARE you people?"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Brubaker and Hitch and "Reborn"

1) It seems too early to bring Steve Rogers back -- somewhere, sometime, I predicted that he wouldn't be back until summer 2010 at the earliest -- but that thinking is based on how good Brubaker has been at selling Bucky-Cap. But now that "Captain America" #50 has come out, Brubaker has written as many Bucky-Cap issues as he has Steve Rogers issues.

2) Brubaker's leaving "Daredevil," and he won't stay on "Captain America" forever, so I'd rather see him bring back Steve Rogers and complete his epic Steve Rogers/Bucky storyline than have someone else come in and finish it their own way.

3) "Reborn" may not bring Steve Rogers back from the dead anyway. It might be a fake-out like that Captain Marvel/Brainwashed Skrull thing. Oh, that turned out to be a terrible waste of time, didn't it?

4) I've become less and less interested in Bryan Hitch over the years. I think he peaked during his short tenure on "JLA," but this series has Butch Guice on inks, so I wonder how that will change the look of the comic. Still, Hitch has shifted from Widescreen artist, to Wide-Angle-Lens with photorealistic Closeup artist, and I prefer the former.

5) If Steve Rogers does come back, perhaps he and the Bucky-Cap, and the crazed 1950s Cap can all team up when Bendis takes over the series and changes it to "The Captain American Super-Squad."

6) Or maybe Geoff Johns, post-Blackest Night, will take over the series and explore the metaphysical meaning of the "Cap Force."

7) How exactly would Steve Rogers come back, do you think? Cosmic Cube?

8) I'm more annoyed at the change in numbering on the "Captain America" series than I am about anything this "Reborn" series could possibly be about.

9) I trust Brubaker to do this right, whatever it is.

10) I trust the internet to overreact, whatever it is.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Review: Killapalooza #1

When Adam Beechen moved from television writer to Johnny DC writer, I said, "great." Then when he moved from Johnny DC writer to "Teen Titans" scribe, I rooted for him. I thought he would be a great addition to the "Countdown" crew.

As it turned out, "Countdown" was a disaster that dragged nearly everyone involved into the DC gutters. (Sean McKeever and Tony Bedard certainly didn't make it out unscathed, either.) And Beechen's "Teen Titans" was widely considered the weakest run on this incarnation of the series.

But I was glad to hear about Beechen bouncing back with a new series from Wildstorm, drawn by the quite-good Trevor Hairsine. Hairsine's work on Paul Cornell's "Wisdom" series was fantastic, at least until he dropped out of the project (or was pushed out), and I looked forward to seeing what he could do on something with the unlikely name of "Killapalooza."

Unfortunately, the first issue is not very good. Not very good at all. Read my review, and find out why: Killapalooza #1

"Oww, my eye," indeed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Five Reasons Why "Batman: Battle for the Cowl" is Terrible

I know many of you gave up after the first issue, and even more of you passed entirely on Tony Daniel's "Battle for the Cowl," but I stuck it out until the end because that's what I do.

And like everything I do, I do it for you.

So now that I've read all three issues, plus too many tie-ins to bother counting, I can safely say that "Battle for the Cowl" has been a terrible mini-event, not worth the paper it's printed on. Here are just five reasons why, and they're all based on just issue #3:

1) The whole thing about Black Mask unleashing all the villains on Gotham? Ultimately pointless. Though emphasized in the first issue, by issue #3 it's barely an afterthought. More anti-climactic than "Salvation Run"!

2) The Jason Todd/Dick Grayson confrontation becomes Oprah-style pop-psychology and punching.

3) Any time a character faced upwards, Tony Daniel draws their necks and chins as a black slab, as if the neck-to-chin line is as flat as an iron. It's a little thing, but it's the type of approach you see in a lot of amateurish superhero art, and Daniel can do better.

4) SPOILERS! Jason Todd falls to his "death." Again with the falling to the death? See the ending of 99% of superhero movies ever for the same ending.

5) SPOILERS AGAIN! In-story reason for Dick Grayson adopting the Batman identity? None! Not really. He just does because he kind of realizes that he should. In-story reason for Damian adopting the new Robin costume (which will be spotlighted in the Morrison/Quitely "Batman and Robin" comic)? None. At all. So a series seemingly designed to fill in the the gaps between the last Morrison run and the new one just ends up as a bunch of irrelevant fight scenes, an attempt to show how far Jason Todd has fallen (and, by the way, Jason Todd wears the domino mask under the Batman cowl!), and the thinnest of justifications for the new status quo.

When the new "Batman and Robin" series begins with the line, "After the death of Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson has adopted the role of his mentor. Joined by young Damian Wayne, they are...Batman and Robin," well, then "Batman: Battle for the Cowl" will be immediately rendered irrelevant.

Raise your hands if you were going to say, "I told you so."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Words Collide: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Readers whine about and/or praise Geoff Johns and his use of Superboy Prime as a metafictional fanboy, one who complains that the DC heroes aren't how they used to be, and then cries about how everything's not the way he remembers it.

But the truth is that Superman's rogues gallery overlaps with comic book fandom in more than just that one case. Some may argue -- some like me -- that Superman's villains are all various types of comic book fans, and his heroic act is in fighting against the very readers who sustain him.

It's all part of my Grand Nemesis Theory in this week's "When Words Collide." Read it and tell me how crazy I am.

Review: Uncanny X-Men #510

What movie is this from? It looks familiar, but I can't quite place it. Anyway, it's been filtered through the pencil magic of Greg Land for this week's "Uncanny X-Men" #510 which is a pretty kickass issue about the Red Queen's assault on the X-HQ.

Flipping back and forth between this week's "Uncanny" and the Jim Lee stuff reprinted in "X-Men Forever Alpha" shows the shocking difference between the more open, airy visuals of today vs. the overly packed panels of the early 1990s. Man is that Jim Lee X-Men stuff hideous! Say what you will about Greg Land -- and I'll be the first to admit that he's just doing collage at this point -- but it's a hell of a lot easier on the eyes than a billion random shading lines and those pouches and rippling muscles.

Plus, this comic has the Matt Fraction advantage. Read my review: Uncanny X-Men #510

And, just for kicks, here's a sample of that atrocious Jim Lee stuff that turned me off his work back then and is supposed to make us interested in picking up this new Claremont-penned series:

No thanks. (And is that really even Jim Lee? It looks like it was drawn by assistants.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review: Agents of Atlas #5

A gorilla with a gun vs. Wolverine. That's all you really need to make a comic worth buying, right? Especially when it's as well-drawn as "Agents of Atlas" #5.

Ever since the original Jeff Parker/Leonard Kirk miniseries, I've wanted to like "Agents of Atlas" more than I actually have, and I'm not sure that's changed now that the ongoing series is out. (Though as much as I like Kirk's artwork, the stuff Pagulayan's doing here is even better.)

So what do I think about issue #5, scheduled to hit comic shops tomorrow? Read my review and find out: AGENTS OF ATLAS #5 CBR REVIEW

Columns and Reviews Ahoy

Though I was away from blogging for a bit during the last week or two (except for my fake Abrams/drilling piece and my Jason Aaron totally-improbable assumption), I was certainly not absent from the comic book internet landscape. I produced no less than seventeen (!) columns and reviews while ignoring my blog-o-responsibilities, and in case you missed any of them, I've included them here for your edutainment. Don't let me hear you say that I ever let you down by not linking to my own work!

Recent "When Words Collide" Columns:
Me vs. Superman vs. Jim Lee
Me vs. a Five-Year-Old vs. Free Comic Book Day
Tucker Stone vs. Me vs. Moebius's Blueberry

Recent Reviews:
Immortal Iron Fist #25
Captain America Theater of War: A Brother in Arms #1
War Machine #5
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4
The Muppet Show #2
Destroyer #2
Exiles #2
The Mighty #4
Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #1
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1
Super Zombies #3
I Kill Giants
Dark Reign: Hawkeye #2
Secret Warriors #4

Now, back to your regularly-scheduled daily Geniusboy Firemelon updates.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jason Aaron on Noh-Varr?

I listened to the Word Balloon interview with Jason Aaron a week or so ago, but my hiatus from posting prevented me from talking about a little nugget of information Aaron dropped on the show.

He briefly mentioned how Morrison's "Doom Patrol" was one of his favorites as a younger reader, and that he will have the chance to work on a couple of Morrison's Marvel characters in a project later this year.

How many Marvel characters does Morrison have? The Skrull Kill Krew is already in their own series, and while I suppose Aaron could be working on an Angel and Beak limited series, I can't help but hope that Aaron will get a chance to tackle "Marvel Boy" himself, Noh-Varr (and company).

What say you?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Abrams Brings Penchant for "Bit" Parts to Screens Big and Small

By Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- J.J. Abrams long dreamed of bringing "Star Trek" to the big screen, but his first love has always been something more simple: drilling.

"I hadn't even heard of 'Star Trek' until my college roommate greeting me with his fingers split apart and a 'live long and prosper' on the first day of my Freshman year," says Abrams from his elegant grotto in the Hollywood Hills. "That was my first exposure to 'Star Trek," really, and then I was made more aware of it when I woke up one night to find that same roommate seated next to my bed, staring at me while I was asleep and wearing pointed clip-on ears." "He taught me about Vulcan traditions," says Abrams, "and I was hooked."

But Abrams admits that his passion for "Star Trek" is a distant second to his passion for the science and pleasure of deep core drilling. "My father produced a made-for-tv movie starring Michael Biehn in the late Seventies. It was called 'Steeletown,' and it was mostly about welding, but as I watched the dailies as an innocent lad of 13, I was fascinated by the drilling that went on between the welding scenes." "From that day on," reveals Abrams, "I knew that I would do my best to bring drilling to the public. The bigger the drill, the better."

Abrams first gained critical attention for his screenplay for the Michael Bay epic "Armageddon," which was Abrams's first foray into the sci-fi/drilling hybrid. "I knew that I could build a movie around drilling," says Abrams, "and I figured what better way to show the different facets of the drilling community than to have the drilling take place in outer space?" Audiences loved it, and the film has become a classic, even gaining prominence as part of the presigious "Criterion Collection" of dvds.

After a few non-drilling diversions like "Felicity" and the misguided "Alias," Abrams returned to his roots with the initial pitch for "Lost." Although he's given up day-to-day production of the critically-acclaimed fantasy/sci-fi show, Abrams admits that when he turned the reigns over to Damon Lindelof, he gave very specific instructions. "I told him, 'I don't know what I was thinking with the smoke monster or the polar bear, but just make sure that you tie in all together with drilling somehow. I love drilling,'" says Abrams.

Fans who watched this season's finale know just how far Lindelof took his mentor's advice.

And fans of the new "Star Trek" film, the most eagerly-anticipated film of this season, know that drilling is more than just a sideline interest for Abrams. "I wanted to show the power and glory of drilling," reveals Abrams, "and how it could be used for evil as well as good." The Romulan Nero, a space-driller with a thirst for vengeance, is, in many ways, Abrams's most perfect creation. "Nero embodies everything that drilling means to me," says Abrams, "and I wanted to teach people not to take drilling lightly. Look what it did to the planet Vulcan! That's the kind of drilling audiences will remember for generations. That's my dream, at least."

With "Star Trek" behind him, Abrams doesn't know if he has anything more to say about the emotional impact of drilling. "I don't want to say, 'never,' you know?" says Abrams. "I've always wanted to do a deep space drilling movie with Mickey Rourke, and if he's interested then I think we might have a sure winner on our hands. Who wouldn't pay to see Rourke commanding a gigantic outer-space drill some two hundred miles long? That sounds like a surefire hit to me."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Another Brief Hiatus

Personal issues have kept me from posting, and I won't be back on the "daily update" bandwagon for another week or so. I will be fulfilling my CBR responsibilities for now and posting on Twitter here and there.

There's really nothing all that exciting in comics these days anyway, is there?

(Note: I do plan on catching up with my "Legion of 3 Worlds" annotations sometime this month, and I've been reading a lot of comics each week, even if I haven't been writing much about them. So stay tuned for plenty of Geniusboy Firemelon thoughts on comics in coming weeks.)