Books for Soldiers

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March 31, 2005

review: "Countdown to Infinite Crisis"

countdown.jpgThis is it. For those of us who read (and read, and read) comics in the '80s, this is the book you've wanted. If you remember what it was like to finish a book and sit and stare at the wall thinking about how great it was, if you thought "Oh, my God..." and couldn't put into any other words how exciting it was, and if had that pang of disappointment that it was over, that you could only read it for the first time once, then this book is for you. This promises to be a leaping off point for the DC universe that promises to really, really shake things up.

Not much left to say. Go buy it now. Buy two (they are just $1).

(Can't recommend highly enough.)

(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 9:48 PM

March 30, 2005

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1

lex.jpgLex Luthor: Man of Steel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo looks to humanize one of DC's biggest baddies. Azzarello is proving to be quite the writer for Superman--his work on the Superman book has been tremendous. He's more intent on what's inside than what's outside, sometimes creating almost static looking moments as Superman has interior turmoil. That same inward looking eye is at work here, but looking inside Lex.

We're given Luthor's "heroic" ideal: protecting humanity from an 'unwanted, untrustworthy, alien' presence. Sadly, this fits remarkably well into our current political world-view (who can you trust--you, no one else). While looking out for the little guy he knows--we don't see who might be ground under his boot--the guy he's helping is so indebted that he can't afford to ever leave Luthor. It's true for the office worker. It's true for the weapons designer. It's like getting a job sweeping floors for $1,000,000. The work may suck, but what else are you gonna do and make that money.

Driving Luthor's schemes against Superman is his perception of the Man of Steel as an inhuman behemoth, something to be feared. Lee Bermejo's work illustrates this perfectly. Superman doesn't seem to be wearing his tights as much as he looks constructed out of them. There's no man behind the "S", only the "S" itself, and it's not an "S", it's an alien symbol being misinterpreted by humanity. Of that Luthor is certain.

Issue #1 was top notch. I'm sure there's more (and who am I rooting for again!?) to come.

(Highly recommended)

(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 10:11 PM

March 18, 2005

Joss Whedon, meet Linda Carter

wonwom.jpgAccording to this, Joss Whedon's signed to write and direct a Wonder Woman movie. I imagine it will be great--essentially he did a "wonder woman" story for seven years with Buffy.

Posted by sferrell at 2:14 PM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2005

Pipslab Graffiti

pipslab.JPGThis is cool. Graffiti artists playing with light in three dimensions. Pretty amazing.

Posted by sferrell at 2:26 PM

Batman: New Times

BatmanPoster6.jpgAn all star (*cough*) cast provides voices for Batman: New Times, a Lego style CGI adventure.

Posted by sferrell at 2:21 PM

March 13, 2005

review: "Action Comics #825"

action.jpgWriter J.D. Finn and artist Ivan Reis have created one of the best Superman stories I've read recently. This is a definite keeper. Superman faced with the choice: your loved ones or countless innocents. Add to that the evolution of Doomsday and Gog's shifting personality due to countless years to debate his choices and you've got high action and deep concepts.

Reis' artwork too is memorable. This is a classic hero story and his work is up to the task (in a way that Green Lantern's current mini- isn't, from my perspective). There are some great images, including a future battle shot involving Doomsday that has "poster" written all over it.

Great stuff.


(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 7:15 PM

March 12, 2005

review: "Atomika #1"

atomika01.gifThis is the first Speakeasy Comics book I've read (they are publisher for Mercury Comics, who created this Atomika book). I am very impressed. This has been described "an alternate past -- where the Revolution has become the State -- Liberty has been destroyed and the gods now walk the Earth", but I think they are selling themselves short by saying it's an "alternate past". It seems like this is about power and corruption (which we see every day). It's about how goals get lost and the machine--no matter how noble the intentions originally were--builds up steam and crushes those it meant to free. I see the dynamics of this story all too much in our current world politics, both at home and abroad. In short, even if this story is supposed to take place in the past, it is very timely right now.

Having made my little political soapbox statement, I loved this book. Writer Andrew Dabb has created a mythology that's compelling and disturbing. Sal Abbinanti images are equal parts dream and nightmare; powerful and evocative. The images, story and storytelling set it apart from alot of what comic book readers might expect (it's a bit more fablist than others), but it still has the feel of a mainstream book. Its more metaphorical than, say Superman, but that doesn't make it bad. The artwork is stylized as well, but it fits the story and is emotionally evocative. This book has left me wanting more.

I also look forward to seeing more Speakeasy books. From the looks of this one they know what they are doing.

(Highly recommended)

(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 4:07 PM

an alternate take on "A Scanner Darkly"

SD_Bug0262.jpgHead over to (no relation) and check out their trailer for a proposed animated version of A Scanner Darkly. The image to the left is Jerry Fabin's new "older brother", the giant aphid which is going to live up to his parents dreams. Nice tone, good animation, and very well executed. Makes me think this is what David Lynch would have done with the story. These guys should do a short based on one of Dick's other stories.

Posted by sferrell at 4:01 PM

review: trailer for "A Scanner Darkly"

scanner.jpgThis is it. I'm a huge Phillip K. Dick fan, and I've been patiently waiting for this one to come out. A Scanner Darkly is one of Dick's best, one of my favorites, and now, from what I've seen in this trailer, it's the best adaptation of any of his stories. Linklater seems to have gotten everything right. The casting, whether you're a Keanu Reeves fan or not, looks great, and playing with a blend of live action with an anime look is brilliant. I was anxious to see it before. Now I'm beside myself.

Posted by sferrell at 11:36 AM

March 11, 2005

This Force has been rated PG-13.

A hint at the tone of the next STAR WARS movie. Thankfully, it's headed in the direction it should have. Bravo to Lucas for getting it right. Now, let's hope that the dialogue doesn't clunk against the floor the way it did in Episode II. - Final 'Star Wars' said to be very dark - Mar 11, 2005

Posted by sferrell at 11:09 AM

March 9, 2005

Now you can't have any dessert.

I love this story. Harvard, MIT and other schools gave blanket rejections to anyone who used a simple "backdoor" to take a sneak peak at their admission/rejection status, and now those rejected are crying foul. The sense of entitlement is astounding. That these students (or potential students) can split hairs to say that what they did is not "unethical" shows why companies like ENRON do the things they do.

Imagine you go to someone's house and you are told by the owner, "Tomorrow someone will come out here and get you, and you can then come in and have some cake." After the owner goes back inside and locks the door someone else walks up the block and points out that the upstairs window has been left open. "You could go in and have some cake now," this person says. Do you really need to be told that sneaking in the window is wrong? And, if you do it anyway, do you cry "no fair" when you get caught.


Posted by sferrell at 2:57 PM

Atomic Clock

Check out the OFFICIAL U.S. Time. This is the government clock, people, we're not kidding around here.

(Please note, my favorite part of the clock is the description next to the map explaining what the "light" and "dark" areas of the map represent.)

Posted by sferrell at 11:57 AM | Comments (2)

March 8, 2005

review: "Batman 636-7"

batman.jpgAfter all the "Gang War" nonsense has finally died down we're left with the real purpose of all the cross-over-palooza: a pared down Batman universe with less "official" sanction of the Bat-crew. Barbara Gordon is no longer the eye-in-the-sky, all seeing, intrigue and tension killing voice in Batman's ear. The police no longer view Batman as an ally. The public doesn't know what to make of him. His sidekicks are spread out thinly over the city and outlying communities (Robin and Batgirl are now Bludhaven residents).

It seems that the reality of having a team that is so entrenched in the city and it's workings finally hit the editors at DC. With Batman as basically an arm of the police, with highly sophisticated intelligence and real-time monitoring of everything in the city (via "Oracle"), it created a Bat-world of gadgetry, but no real drama or tension. Batman didn't have to get out of dilemmas--he never got into them.

So, in the two most recent issues we have Gotham's new crime lord, Black Mask, establishing his reign, and we have Batman at odds with pretty much everyone around him. Seems like old times. The story so far has been best when dealing with Black Mask, who talks like he's halfway to being the Joker with funny asides as he threatens those around him, and Mr. Freeze. The Batman story so far is action based, which is fine, with touches of Nightwing admiring him, which is also fine; however, in order to hold our interest the story better have something at stake for Bats (enter Red Hood). It will be interesting to see how this leaner, meaner Batman pans out. I'm hopeful.


(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 10:03 AM

March 6, 2005

review: "Astonishing X-Men #8"

astonishingxmen.jpgJoss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men is so refreshing that I almost don't know what to say other than "superb." Here's why you read comic books. This is especially remarkable in a market where X-books are so overproduced that the entire franchise is beginning to feel like a parody of itself. How many more books can Wolverine be in before Marvel has to reveal that he's actually 7 or 8 clones? This book is the exception: if you can only read on X-book it better be this one.

Whedon's story so far has been straightforward. There has only been one complete arc, basically reintroducing us to the team lead by Scott Summers. At this point Scott is fully involved with Emma Frost, Wolverine still doesn't like him, Beast is unhappily turning more inhuman, and so on and so on... But Whedon's also bringing back some of the most loved X-characters: Kitty and Colossus. This old meets new and the tension it creates drama inside the team as they try to care for students and present a better face of mutants to humanity.

Issue 8 introduces a second, more devious story arc that promises to be exciting and horrible--horrible in a good way. It is Whedon's ability to mesh fast, humerous dialogue with fast, nail-biting action that set him apart in the Buffy shows, and it works for him here too. I have no doubts that when it's called for he'll off a hero, bring a villian back from the dead, or make people switch sides so fast that the reader will have to put the book down for a moment.

Add to this the beautiful artwork of John Cassaday and you've got one of the best books out there. Whedon knows why people read the X-men, and he's happy to give it to them.

(Very highly recommended.)

(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 10:04 PM

March 5, 2005

review: "Seven Soldiers #0"

sevensoldiers0.jpgWhat I found most amazing about Seven Soldiers of Victory #0 (by Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams) is how quickly I connected to it. I never really felt like I was starting something new, but instead felt like I was coming back to familiar territory. Morrison has managed to create an artificial nostalgia, a sense that we're getting caught up on something we loved as kids, in what is a brand new story--it's an impressive achievement.

Perhaps it's helped by the use of The Vigilante as one of the "Seven". This gun toting cowboy was one of the characters from years back which DC acquired from its acquisition of another comic company. He's actually made a brief appearance in a recent episode of "Justice League Unlimited." As the leader of this group, an old and somewhat tired looking man, he gives an air of history to the group.

The nostalgia is also brought on by references in the story to the popularity and fandom that surrounds "heros". These B-level crime-fighters aren't driven by a thirst for justice, or a sense of responsibility that comes with great power; these guys are driven by boredom, or desire for fame, or hero worship, or obligation. They live in a world were heros go to conventions to tell stories to fan-boys, where fan-boys save their pennies to get magic rings, where a dominatrix costume becomes a super-hero costume simply because you're calling it that (the artwork aids this idea tremendously; everything has a worn, real-world quality). These people are more like us than Batman or Superman.

In short, this story isn't taking place in a glossy DC world. I hate to say that they've "Marvelized" it, but the thing I kept thinking when I was reading it was how much it reminded me of Bendis' work in The Sentry and that's definitely not a bad thing. This first issue (#0) is a prequel to what's to come: seven four-issue mini-series which will have inter-connections which create a larger arc if the all 28 are read, but each of which are self contained. After seeing this first step I have no doubt that some of these minis will lead to regular series. Regular series' that are grittier than we normally see from DC, darker, more real... and oddly, nostalgic.

(Highly recommended)

(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 10:03 AM

March 4, 2005

review: "JLA Classified #4"

JL4.jpgI think that like some things from an earlier decade, a little nostalgia is great, but a little goes a long way. This throwback to the "mad-cap '80s" Justice League, while it hits all the marks and sings all the favorites, simply wore thin on me from the first few pages.

The JL was great because it broke away from a traditional super-hero vibe in an era when most of the superhero books were getting old, getting revamped, and the industry was entering a boom period just before toppling under its own weight. It was topical, and contemporary. The '80s were all about corporate movement, new world orders, and the end of communism. Now, the story doesn't seem to even try to fit into the contemporary setting. In a War on Terror world this sort of levity seems childish. Maybe its that they aren't trying to take shots at any targets, simply be silly. The JL used to throw characters against each other who you thought might actually start problems (Batman drove the book, and when he left it lost it's edge). This Batman-less reincarnation just doesn't do it for me.

Especially confusing, and horribly misguided, is the fact that it doesn't include the post-Identity Crisis-world DC seems to be trying to use in its books. Not that it shouldn't be funny, or that it should be dark, but Sue Dibney--The Elongated Man's wife--died in Identity Crisis. But here she is, yucking it up. When does this take place? Not sure. But it certainly doesn't fit the rest of the DC Universe right now.

(Not recommended.)

(review by Sean Ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 2:13 PM

March 3, 2005

Why is Teddy following me, Mommy?

Let the robot carnage begin!! Now that we can rely on our toys to take care of our children, it will allow us adults to play with more of our toys... which will be watching us! FANTASTIC!

Posted by sferrell at 10:07 AM

March 2, 2005

"House of Wax"

HOW.jpgOne of these actors needed less work than the others looking like a stiff, wax-like figure. Can you guess who? Clue: Her name rhymes with Haris Pilton. Seriously, watch the trailer and see if you can get past either of the two words that Paris says without laughing. Does she know she's acting?

And what about Elisha Cuthbert... sigh... some girls are born to play the "girl who is forever running from mad killers." Good thing she's not getting typecast.

HOWA.jpg(Side note: I realize that the days of wondering if Hollywood planned on remaking everything are long, long gone. Asking the question has become as cliched as making the remakes. But when did taking a good, classic, creep-fest starring Vincent Price and turning it into another Texas Chainsaw rip-off become acceptable? At this rate we'll soon have "Gone with the Wind" featuring the trailer ending with Scarlet hiding from Rhett in a barn loft while she tries, unsuccessfully, to stifle her heavy, panicky breathing.)

Posted by sferrell at 10:21 PM