Thursday, March 15, 2007

Civl War Fallout: The Initiative Week 3, "Sorry About That Cap."

Well if it’s Thursday, it's time for our weekly Marvel Civil War recap. Compared to Captain America’s death, it was a pretty slow week. That being said, I will briefly go through each book listing them in what is my right opinion of Crappiest to Best.

Ghost Rider #9 hit the shelves this week with the “Casualties of War” banner. This issue goes a long way to fulfill Joe Quesada’s words, “Death should mean something…” by bringing back Jack O’ Lantern. He has been dead what, three months? Of course it’s not really him but Satan possessing his body (hate it when that happens). If you don’t read Ghost Rider usually, don’t waste your time.

Moon Knight #8 also is listed as a “Casualties” title. This is due to the random appearance of Captain America. Apparently before he died, Cap wanted to take some time off from running from the law to hunt down Marc Spector. Cap just wanted to tell him that he didn’t like his methods and to stay out of the Civil War. Then he leaves without even a goodbye. If you don’t read it, don’t buy it.

Thunderbolts #112 is a pretty good read. Warren Ellis is the savior of this book. He has taken an otherwise ridiculous premise and made it enjoyable. Let me first say that I am sick of Norman Osborn. Why is this guy not rotting away in some prison? He does not deserve a second chance—let alone a hundredth. His psychosis is getting a little old as well. Oh no, he is talking to himself, I wonder what’s going to happen?

Am I the only one that doesn’t buy it? Would America really embrace these killers? The Thunderbolts started with a group of villains pretending to be good guys. Now it’s a bunch of bad guys being forced to take care of the government’s dirty work. For some reason we are supposed to believe that people love them. They have action figures for God’s sake. Kids love Venom and Penance and hate Captain America? I don’t think so.

Marvel likes to brag that they are a mirror of the “real world” with super powered individuals in it. Well in the “real world” we reject Supreme Court nominees and Presidential candidates if they inhaled 30 years ago. We crucify them if they were ever divorced or got a hard on. But we are to believe that Tony freaking Stark could become the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. He has so many skeletons in his closet (and in the ground), it is unbelievable.

New Avengers #28 clears up the confusion several of us had last week. Spider-Woman goes back to rogue Avengers to tell them Cap isn’t dead. He is in The Raft. With the help of Dr. Strange they go to free their leader. Once there, Wolverine gives him a sniff and immediately knows that the body isn’t Cap’s. Yep, Ms Marvel lied. Iron Man pops out of hiding with a few hundred buddies to arrest them. I have really enjoyed the New Avengers from the beginning. However, I really don’t like Leinil Yu’s artwork. It just doesn’t work for this title.

Punisher #5 also came out this week, but for some reason it did not have a “Civil War” banner. It clearly is related to the story—a lot more than Ghost Rider. I wonder if Marvel is trying to throw us off. Castle sees Captain America get killed on the jumbo-tron in Times Square. I’m telling you, he is going to be the next Captain America. Previous issues showed us the Punisher’s love and respect for Cap. We know he does have Cap’s cowl. I’m just saying.

Check out the interesting cover from an old What If:

Marvel Spotlight: Civil War Aftermath is something you should pick up this week. I usually pass on most spotlight books. However, this one provides a great recap of the events of Civil War. This is especially great if you haven’t been going to the clinic to sell your plasma so you could afford to buy every book with the “Civil War” logo. Check it out.

Civil War: The Confession is probably the best book of the week. Buy it quick because it is pretty hard to find. It was never solicited in Previews and a lot of stores did not know about it. It gives us a pretty sobering picture of Tony Stark pouring his heart out to the corpse of Steve Rogers. However, I do think it is a little to quick for Stark’s change of heart. It is almost as quick (and convenient) as Cap’s change at the end of Civil War. Still a good read.

With all the Captain America talk last week, I didn’t get to talk about the other “Civil War” titles. I want to comment on two of them.

First, Fantastic Four #543 was a piece of crap. There is no other way to put it. Yeah, I understand that it is the 45th Anniversary of the FF. But, we are supposed to believe that Doom actually sat down for a television interview! Oh, and the fugitive Luke Cage was interviewed as well. Give me a break. I also think it is a little to quick for Sue to run back to Reed.

Lastly, let’s talk about The Mighty Avengers #1. The majority of the emails I received about this book were complaining about the same thing…you guessed it, the thought bubbles. Wow, I guess you guys hated them. I really wanted to defend Bendis. I really like his stuff. He is a great writer and will do great on this book, but the bubbles have to go. I am also having a hard time with looking at these guys as heroes. I don’t think they are. As good intentioned as they may be, they need to be held accountable for their actions.

What do you think?


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Friday, March 09, 2007

30 Second Movie Review: Frank Miller's 300

I have not been a big fan of comic book movies. Other than Spider-Man and Batman, there hasn’t been too much to brag about. Even the X-Men movies—which I enjoyed—left a lot to be desired. Frank Miller’s 300, on the other hand, is every thing it should be.

Live action and CGI have finally reached perfection. Panel by panel, blood splat by blood splat, this movie creates a perfect mirror of Miller’s graphic novel. It is all that Sin City was not. The cinematography and special effects are eyegasmicly beautiful. Yes, I am saying decapitations and gallons of blood are beautiful.

Here are a couple negative reviews that describe everything I love about the movie:

is just a silly, yet melodramatic, cliched, comic-book version of Gladiator with Frank Miller art direction.” Neil Springer, JAM! Movies

300, even with its impressive vistas of computer-generated soldiers, is just a throwaway epic. Stephanie Zacharek, Salon Arts & Entertainment

Excuse me, but that’s the point. This is not a historically accurate geopolitical epic. It is a just a good old fashioned get your money's worth of a roller coaster. Perhaps a mention in the opening credits of its graphic novel origins would have helped. At least the Marvel Movies start with the Marvel logo and flashing comic pages.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times understands perfectly what 300 is trying to accomplish and reviewed it accordingly:

“If you thought "Gladiator" was a bit too stingy with the bloodshed, if you felt "Sin City" could have been more stylized, if you hate it when the masses refer to graphic novels as "comic books," this is your day.”

So if you love Frank Miller stuff, see this movie. If you love a good ass-kicking movie, see this movie. If you want that, "I need to run up the steps of Philadelphia's Museum of Art because I just saw Rocky II feeling," see this movie.

One word of warning, you might not want to take your girlfriends and wives with you. It is definitely not a “date movie.” You will have to watch 3 or 4 Sandra Bullock movies to make up for it. And who wants to do that?



Thursday, March 08, 2007

Civl War: The Fallout, "The Death of Captain America?"

Tuesday I made the mistake of reading Civil War: The Initiative #1 before I read Captain America #25. On the synopsis page it mentioned the assassination of Captain America. What? Did I misread Civil War #7? A few pages later Ms. Marvel tells Spider-Woman that Cap wasn’t dead. He was hidden on The Raft where people were trying to save his life. Okay, no big deal.

Then I read Captain America #25. What another great read from Ed Brubaker. His Cap run has been one of the best ever. If you haven’t been reading it, you should check it out. I was a little upset that I already read The Initiative. There was no sting. I already knew that he wasn’t dead.

Side Note: Marvel, please return to the practice of putting little blurbs in comics that warn us, “Don’t read this until you read that?”

So when the phone calls and emails started Wednesday morning, I would laugh and respond, “Am I the only one who read The Initiative?” Cap clearly isn’t dead.

I didn’t realize he actually was dead (for now at least) until the news coverage started. At first I thought it was a blown out of proportion press release. Then I watched the Joe Quesada interviews on CNN and ABC.

CLICK HERE to watch the CNN story.

CLICK HERE to watch the ABC story.

I gotta say, I really like what Quesada has done at Marvel. He gets a lot of crap, but he has been a great catalyst for the mainstreaming and maturing of the comic genre. I agree with what he said in the CNN interview. Death does have some meaning in the Marvel Universe now.

As usual, the bitching has begun. Fanboys everywhere are screaming, “This is just a publicity stunt.” Of course it is! All good storylines are. Who would read comics or watch TV shows or movies without them? I know no one stay’s dead in comics—nor should they. Not only have most of our heroes been around longer than us, they will still be fighting long after we are gone. To keep this stuff fresh, things like “dying” have to happen.

So do yourself a favor and quit whining. Yeah right, you’re going to quit reading comics. You’ve said it before. Why don’t you let yourself enjoy it? Have some fun. When they do bring Cap back, you can bitch again, buy it again, and love it again. Just like you did with the return of Hal Jordan and Colossus.

So enough of the kisses and hugs...

WHY THE HELL DID THIS NOT HAPPEN IN CIVIL WAR #7! The whole comic world went crazy with the boring anticlimactic ending of Civil War. If you’re going to kill Captain Freaking America, make it the ending of the biggest story in recent history. That would have been awesome.

I feel better now that I got that out of my system.

So tell me your thoughts. What do you think is going to happen? What do you think should happen?

I have a strong feeling that The Punisher will be Captain America for awhile. If you remember, in Civil War #7 he picked up Cap’s cowl. If done right, this could be cool. I’m sure Bucky (I mean, The Winter Soldier) will chase him around fighting for Cap’s mantle. It would have the whole Azrael is Batman vibe.

Check back every week to get my right opinion on the ongoing saga. I promise to wait until Thursday morning. This will give you a chance to read the comics first. It should be a lot of fun.


Hey, one more thing. I am going to a screening of Frank Miller’s 300 tonight night. Check here Friday and I will let you know if it is worth your eight bucks.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Frank Miller's 300 Movie, "These Ain't Your Daddy's Comics Anymore!"

With the release of Frank Miller's 300 movie, comes the usual complaints...

"Comic books are too violent."
"Comics are supposed to be like Archie."
"Comics aren't for kids anymore." had this recent article, "Comics woo adults (and kiss off kids)." It points out that recent comic books have been successful due to their being more "edgier." However, the comic industry may be alienating the younger generation and therefore the future of comics.

I couldn't disagree more.

I have been selling comics for 16 years, and have tried dozens of ways to get kids to start reading comics. I invested money in comics geared toward kids, and nobody bought them. I tried to offer older back issues to parents and children. They didn't want them. I even wasted time at conventions arguing with comic creators about whether Batman and Superman should use the word damn. None of it worked.

No matter what we do, the majority of kids are just not interested in comics. Yeah, with five or ten bucks allowance you can buy 3 or 4 comics. However, the same amount of money will rent a video game for a week. It will also buy about 10 songs for their iPod. There is no way comics can compete (especially with the ever increasing paper costs).

So can we really blame the publishers for targeting the older readers who happen to have more disposable income? Of course not. On top of that, compared to movies and TV, comics really aren't that bad. For the most part, they would be rated PG13 or TV14. Still parents and the media complain.

The biggest obstacle to the public acceptance of comics is the public perception of comics. The same parent who won't let their child read Batman because he is now the "Dark Knight," will sit with their kid on Monday night and watch 24. Come on, Jack Bauer might as well be Batman. He is only missing the cape and cowl. And Batman doesn't make a practice of torturing people!

The other half of the civilian world (by civilian I mean non-comic fans) think comic books are only for kids. This is fed by things like the 1970s Batman television show and cheesy movies made by Joel Schumacher. However, these same people set their TiVos to record Lost and Heroes.

In my right opinion, the comic industry needs to embrace their maturity, not apologize for it. We need to advertise the fact that comics have great stories and deal with adult themes. Let’s tell the world know that most of their favorite TV shows are created and written by comic book writers and fans.

Somehow the video game industry has been able to reprogram the public. It is now understood that it is mainly adults who play video games. The vast majority of Xbox players are in their 20’s and 30’s. Does this cause anyone to question the future of gaming? No, it sells more games. We need to do the same thing for comics.

What do you think?


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