Friday, October 31, 2014

Comic Book Fan Casting: Hexed








I t’s been awhile since I have done a comic book fan casting.  But I finally feel like I may have another good one put together.  This series just recently started an ongoing run through Boom Studios, But I first encountered it through a four issue mini back in 2010.    

Hexed

The Story:
Luci Jennifer Ignacio Das Neves or Lucifer, as she prefers to be called, is a thief who specializes in rare artifacts.  By rare artifacts I mean that they are supernatural in origin.  Some are extremely dangerous, but Lucifer has ties to the supernatural that gives her an advantage in her line of work.  
Luci works for an art dealer named Val who has a hidden collection of the rare supernatural items.  But Val also runs a supernatural artifact recovery service, which is where Lucifer comes into the mix.  

I would use the original mini, “Blood, Theft, Sex, Magic” as the first story to get this started.  If it were to be made into a TV series it would work well as a Pilot episode.  Or it would make a great movie if it goes the movie route.  


The Director:
Guillermo Del Toro would be great for this. It has a great mix of humor, action and creepy supernatural imagery.  And that is all of the ingredients that make up a great Del Toro product.  Hellboy and Blade 2 really prove this fact.

The Cast:

Lucifer-
The main character to the series Lucifer is in her late teens maybe early twenties.  And she needs to be played by a strong up and coming actress to me.   I think the perfect cast for her would be Chloe Grace Moretz.  She proved she can handle the action with her parts in the Kick Ass movies, but she has shown a great acting range throughout her career.  From sharing the screen with Alec Baldwin as his arch nemesis on 30 Rock, or playing the young vampire bonding with the loner kid next door in Let Me In.  Moretz has the potential to be a huge star in the future.  And this could give her another nudge in the right direction.

Val-
The keeper of lots of dangerous supernatural objects and Lucifer’s boss, Val is tougher than she looks.  She always has a plan when the going gets tough.  Val appears to be in her forties or fifties, though it is never said.  Val needs to look normal but command a lot of respect with just her presence and a few words.  This part has Elizabeth Mitchell written all over it.  She has the presence and the toughness to give Val a good showing on screen.  She’s showed the strength she possesses in Lost where she played one of the best characters on the island, Juliet.  She kept the audience guessing the entire time on which side of the fence she would end up on.  It is that subtlety in her acting that would give Val the perfect edge to make her a character the viewer could root for.


The Harlot-
The supernatural “benefactor” of Lucifer, the Harlot is a twisted looking woman that loves to make deals with people.  The problem is her deals very rarely benefit the person she is making the deal with.  She is talented at twisting words to make things work to her advantage.  And she has marked Lucifer as her successor, which is what gives Lucifer her attachment to the supernatural world.  I could easily see the Harlot being a CGI or a live action character.  Either way I would like to see Helena Bonham Carter play her.  If she were done the live action route, Carter could be digitally enhanced like in Alice In Wonderland to look more like the twisted and gnarled form of the Harlot.  But if they make her full on CGI Carter’s voice coming out of the creepy looking woman would match almost perfectly.



There are more characters I could cast, but those are the only three constant characters from the series.  Everyone else comes and goes throughout the arcs so it would depend on which arc the movie or series were to focus on.

As always thanks for reading.  We have plans on some pretty fun posts coming in the future so keep your eyes peeled.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments section.  Until next time.  Keep reading fellow comic fans.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Men of Wrath #1

 





I was looking around at my local comic shop when an issue caught my eye.  The cover looked really interesting, but it was the creators names that sold me.  Jason Aaron and Ron Garney.  How did I not know this book exists.  So on to the review…

 Men Of Wrath #1
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Ron Garney
Released by Icon Press

Men of Wrath deals with the idea that one event can affect the family for generations to come.  It all started when Isom Rath, protecting his family and land from an irrational man trying to take what Rath never took.  Some sheep wandered onto Rath’s land, followed a couple of days later by a farmer claiming that Rath stole his sheep.  In the resulting confrontation Rath killed the man.  This one event would change the paths of all of the men of the rath family for generations to come.  

The story then jumps forward to the great grandson of Isom, Ira Rath.  Ira Rath is a heartless hitman for anyone with enough money.  Ira is introduced to the reader as he is killing a couple, and even more disturbing, their baby.  After disposing of the bodies in a swamp Ira pays a visit to the doctor where he is informed that he is dying of lung cancer, even though he hasn’t smoked a day in his life.  And Ira apparently believes that he is dying because of the sins of himself and his family before him.  And before the end of the issue it is made clear that the Rath “curse” has continued on past Ira.

Jason Aaron is dead on with his writing like always.  This series has all of the earmarks of what makes the best Aaron books stand out. Aaron writes Ira so it clear that he is a horrible person, but you can’t help but hope that he can find some atonement before he dies.  Even though he is completely unapologetic about what he does.  Then you read the essay in the back and you find out that this book is loosely based on his family history and it drives home how great this book can be.

Ron Garney is on the top of his game here.  Garney doesn’t do regular work anymore, and that makes it that much sweeter when when he does pop up to do a run on a book.  He makes all of the characters come to life, flaws and all.  There is a gritty edge to his art that I haven’t seen from Garney before.  But this gritty turn works wonders for this book.  

Rating: 5 out of 5

This series came out of nowhere.  I had heard nothing about it till I saw it on the shelf.  But I am glad that I stumbled onto this series.  All of the individual components add up to make a beautiful piece of work.  I really look forward to reading more of this as it comes out.  

Thanks again for reading my reviews.  I hope it helps you to find a series that you will enjoy.  As always if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comment section.  And keep on reading fellows comics fans.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review of Superior Foes of Spider-man #1-16





For this review I am covering a whole series.  This has been month in and month out one of my favorite series since the beginning.  My fellow contributor to Once Upon A Longbox Tony suggested I check it out after reading the first issue when it came out.  Admittedly I picked up the first with a lot of hesitation because I was never a huge fan of Spider-Man.  I don’t think he is a horrible character, but he is just not my kind of character.  So here we go this weeks review is for…...

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1-16
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Steve Lieber
Released by Marvel Comics

This series has been a breathe of fresh air to the landscape of comics.  Sadly though with issue sixteen it all comes to an end..  Superior Foes of Spider-man is a humorous romp through the Marvel Universe through the eyes of the new Sinister Six (but there are only five of them???).  Lead by Boomerang the team consisting of Shocker, Overdrive, Beetle, and Speed Demon are on a mission to prove they are a force to be feared in the criminal underworld.  

Superior Foes of Spider-Man was launched at the same time as Superior Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man Team-up.  Though Foes is the only book to not actually feature Spider-Man anywhere in it.  Instead it follows the new Sinister Six which is made up of four of his lesser known villains and a new version of one of Iron Man’s villains.  As the series goes along more and more villains start to make appearances, like Tombstone(who has a connection to a member of the team) and The Owl.  It all starts with Boomerang pitching a simple snatch and grab to the rest of the team that would make the teams careers.  Just break into the Owl’s mansion and steal the head of Silvio Silvermaine.  An urban legend in the underground that is believed to be the key to running all of the organized crime in the city.  But that lie is only the beginning of what becomes one of the most hilarious comic book adventures in recent years.   There are twists and turns, and multiple double crosses throughout the book.  And all of it leads up to the final stand in which the Sinister Six looks to negotiate their way into ruling the crime families.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that the ending is perfect for the story told in the whole series leading up to it.  

Superior Foes was a nearly flawless series.  Only slipping for two issues in the middle where Spencer and Lieber were away from the book and the story dealt with characters away from the core group.       

Spencer has very clear voices to the five members of the Sinister Six from the first page of this series.  And what is even more amazing is that not once in the series did those voices falter or did the characters act out of character.  Spencer helps make Superior Foes fit comfortably into the same corner of the Marvel Universe as Hawkeye.  But the way Spencer makes this team of wanna be super villains jump off the page makes it better than Hawkeye in my opinion.

Steve Lieber has an art style that really lends itself to this particular story.  He makes all of the great little sight gags work perfectly, even though it defies all preconceived notions to the contrary. Some of the best being to do with what the members are doing while Boomerang is laying out his plans for the job they are looking to pull and Whenever Mach VI appears it is almost guaranteed that there will be some kind of quiet joke about his costume making common situations very awkward .   The best panel in this book has to be the panel of Silvermaines head painted to look like Paul Stanley from Kiss, cussing out the team for trying to use him to gain power.  Than there is the ongoing gag of Mach VI and his inability to get through the most basic of entry ways in his costume.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

I am both happy and upset that this series is over.  Happy because I didn’t want to see it get to the point that it was long passed it’s welcome, but sad because even though I stumbled into this series I will miss having the further adventures of the new Sinister Six to look forward to.

As always thanks for reading my review.  This was a particular treat to me.  I really hope this helps to introduce this series to new readers.  Thanks again and keep on reading fellow comic fans.

Review: Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire


Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire
Writer:  Ed Brubaker
Artist:  Billy Tan and Clayton Henry
Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Why did I decide on this title for my next review?  This arc (albeit in that last couple of issues) was the arc that marked my return to reading comics on a regular basis.  I used to read them a lot in the mid to late 90s, but by the time the 2000s rolled around, I bowed out.  There were many reasons why I left: event fatigue, general poor quality to books (this was, after all the era of the artist, nobody cared about how good the writing was in a book, as long as it had huge splash pages, etc.), and Marvel still had the spectre of bankruptcy hanging over them.  There didn’t seem to be a lot of compelling reasons to stick around.

Fast forward to early 2007 and I decided to dip my feet in the waters again and tried an issue of Uncanny X-men.  It was interesting, but I was ultimately lost because, as I said before, I came in at the tail end of the arc and the story was born out of a retcon (more on this later), I was totally lost.  But needless to say, it didn’t discourage me from getting back into reading comics and here I am now.  On with the review, shall we?

Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar collects UXM 475-486 which ran from September 2006 to July 2007.  And the story couldn’t be told without a little retcon shenanigans, which I absolutely loathe!  If a story can’t be told with the pieces already available, then organically create the pieces you need through storytelling.  If you have to resort to “you know the classic story, but do you know the WHOLE story?” BS, then you’re being lazy.  So let’s lay out how this turd got laid.  When Uncanny came back from its long hiatus, it was launched with a classic tale by Chris Claremont.  The X-men were lured to the living island, Krakoa, because of a perceived mutant signature.  When they arrived, they were quickly subdued and captured by the island.  Xavier needs a rescue team and creates a new team that has older members and a more international flair to it.  But what you did know was there was another team before this that attempted a rescue (and sent bullshit meters off everywhere)!  This team was trained by long-time Xavier colleague, Moira MacTaggart and basically splattered on the windshield that was Krakoa.  Only two members of the team survived, Darwin and Vulcan.  Darwin, using his mutant ability to evolve to survive any situation, absorbs himself into Vulcan’s body and Vulcan burrows deep into the Krakoa to save the two of them.  When the second team (no, sorry, now the third team) ultimately won by launching Krakoa into space, Darwin and Vulcan went with it.

The X-men were dealing with the grief of the loss of this team, none more so than the Summers boys because, wouldn’t you know it, Vulcan was their little brother.  That’s right, folks, TWO retcons for the price of one!  As if this steaming pile of a premise couldn’t get any worse with stupid retcons, they ruin Xavier’s reputation as a paragon of responsible use of mutant abilities by having him wipe out all the X-men’s memories of Vulcan and his team--ya know, to spare them the pain (and to give us dim-witted readers an explanation as to why we didn’t know about them either).

Excuse me, I had a little bile up come there, let’s continue….

So, the events of M-day had many effects over the Marvel Universe and its ripples were felt on this mess too.  The sudden surge of power released into the universe by the depowering of all those mutants woke Vulcan from his slumber within the space drifting Krakoa.  And as an added side-effect, memories returned to him--memories of his birth.  His mother was pregnant with him on that fateful day that Christopher and Katherine Summers pushed Alex and Scott from their burning airplane with a parachute because they weren’t going to make it.  As we all know, they didn’t perish with their plane, they were abducted at the last second by Emperor D’Ken of the Shi’ar to serve as slaves.  Christopher (who later becomes known as the Starjammers pirate, Corsair) won’t let them be taken as slaves without a fight.  He’s quickly defeated and Katherine killed.  But D’Ken learns that she was with child, so they have the fetus cut from the womb and placed into a rapid development incubator.  This child will be used as a slave.  So as he awakens, Vulcan has revenge to enact on two fronts:  with Xavier for making the world forget he existed and with D’Ken for murdering his mother and making him a slave.

This arc picks up right after his revenge is complete against Xavier.  The team, so disgusted with his complete disregard with their minds, no longer welcomes him at the Xavier Institute.  And in the ensuing fight, Banshee is killed.  Darwin separates from Vulcan, just before he flees earth and heads for Shi’ar Space to deal with D’Ken.

As you can already gather, I feel this arc was awful.  It misses on almost every level.  I’m a huge fan of Ed Brubaker and was stunned to find this was so poorly written and the execution was such a fumbling mess.  I almost wonder if this was a case of editorial handcuffing him with some particular mandates and he had to work with whatever set of rules they gave him.

The art was disgusting, for the most part.  Billy Tan doesn’t show a lot of range on this one.  Everyone’s face has that same, stupid Rob Liefeld I-have-to-take-a-shit face.  And his layouts show absolutely no storytelling acumen.  You ever want to tell if you’re seeing good storytelling from the artist?  Look through the entire issue without reading any of the dialog.  You should be able to roughly guess what’s being said and what is happening from panel to panel.  You can’t do that here.  There’s no flow to his panels. I mean, at all!  

About the only bright spot on this otherwise horrid tale, is the fill-in artist from three of the issues, Clayton Henry.  I have no idea why he wasn’t tasked with telling the whole story.  His lines are clean and his cartooning was fantastic.  You could always quickly tell what a character’s emotional state was with a quick glance.

The verdict:  Pass on this.  Stories born from retcons are the laziest kinds of stories.  In twelve issues and a couple of other minis that followed, Vulcan never becomes a compelling character.  He’s boring, generic, and really has no gravitas.

The score:  2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top Seven Non-Superhero Series to Reintroduce a Reader to Comics

 




I know this has been done before by many people, but doing this list is a good way to show what kinds of books I prefer.  Let’s you, our readers get to know me.  Now these picks will be in no particular order, and I will be focusing on non superhero books.

The selections on our lists are more geared towards readers who have either read comics a long time ago or have only ever read superhero books and feel they are just for kids but want to broaden their horizons.

#7-


Y The Last Man
Written By Brian K. Vaughn
Art By Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka and Paul Chadwick
Published By Vertigo
Released 2002-2008

After a plague wipes out all mammal life on earth with a Y chromosome.  Yorrick Brown and his monkey Ampersand are the only male mammals left on Earth.  Yorrick finally leaves his apartment with Ampersand to reunite with his mom and sister who aren’t aware that Yorrick survived the plague.  Before trying to make it to Australia to find his girlfriend to marry her.  

Y the Last Man really explores the breakdown in all aspects of the world in the wake of a major disaster.   As well as facing the immortal question of “What would it be like to be the last man alive in a world full of women”.  In the beginning it makes for a humorous story.  Yorrick struggles through the world trying to keep his identity a secret (usually poorly) and find a way of getting to the people he cares about.  But eventually it makes a shift into a deep story about what the world becomes.  

On his journey Yorrick is joined by the mysterious Agent 355, a special agent who makes it her mission to protect Yorrick.  It is clear from the beginning  that 355 isn’t telling the whole story of what she knows.  And he is being chased by his own sister who is a part of a faction who wants to make sure that the “Age of Woman” never ends called the Amazons.  And a group of Israeli soldiers led by a tough as nails soldier codenamed Alter.

This series is one of two series that I feel are the best of the best when it comes to the comic medium.  Vaughn and company take the reader for  one hell of a trip in this book, and by the end Y the Last Man is an emotional roller coaster that all readers needs to take at sometime in their life.     


#6-


Scott Pilgrim
Written and Drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Published By Oni Press
Released 2004-2010

Scott Pilgrim is a twenty-something slacker with no real goals in life. And is dating a sixteen year old girl named Knives.  Then he meets Ramona Flowers when she skates through his dreams one night.  This one small event leads to Scott developing a serious fascination with her.  When he finally lands a date with Ramona she informs Scott that before she can officially date him he must defeat her seven evil exes.  What follows is a fun ride with callbacks to eighties video games and lots of other pop culture references.

This series takes place over 6 trades each focusing on a single evil ex.  The battles with her exes escalates with every battle.  And each of the fights puts him closer to discovering the secret of the League of Evil Ex’s.  As well as putting him at odds with his own angry ex, her disgruntled father, and multiple people in the same social circles who are not huge fans of Scott.  

The series is all done in black and white, very stylized art.  Which really helps accent the fun nature of the story.  Sometimes the art can be a little inconsistent, but it really gives the series an extra level of fun.


#5-



Scalped
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by R.M. Guera
Published by Vertigo
Ran from 2007-2012 (60-issues)

This is the story of Dashiell Badhorse, who returns to the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation after fifteen years of being away.  But the reservation Dash returns to isn’t the same as the one he left.   The new tribal President Lincoln Red Crow is putting in a Casino on the “Rez”, but there are lots of people who are opposed to it.  And even some people who are looking to take down Red Crow themselves.  

This series is a great showcase of the character studies you can do with the comic book medium.  The series deals with politics, Alcohol and drug use, poverty, and organized crime.  The story is told through the eyes of Dashiell for the most part, and through his eyes you learn of his past with many of the inhabitants of Prairie Rose and those that threaten it.

I chose this series for the gritty beauty that inhabits every corner of the world it shows.  Even though the characters are very flawed you can’t help but root for them to come out on top.  It blurs the line between good and bad to the point that everybody exists in a grey area.  Aaron writes amazingly human characters who are beautifully flawed and relatable.  And Guera has an art style that compliments the dark nature of the story it is bringing to life.  Just give it the first arc to hook you, and you won’t be disappointed.


#4-


Strangers In Paradise
Written and Drawn by Terry Moore
Published by Abstract Studios
Ran from 1993-2007 (107-issues)

The story of how two girls lives spiral around each others and the effects they have on each other.  Strangers in Paradise is quite simply one of the best written series I have read.  There is no real big action scenes or super villains looking to take over Metropolis in this book.  

It centers on Katchoo and Francine, two friends that meet in high school and can never really be too far from each other from then on.  It is so human and beautiful.  There is more to the story as it progresses, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t already checked it out.  But it is a great ride to take.  There are a few small slow points throughout, but in the end even those serve their purpose.

This series also really plays with the medium.  Every once in a while there is an issue that treats the reader to the exploits of one the many side characters, Freddie Femur.  These side stories are often done like old Sunday morning comic strips.  Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts for example.

I chose this series for the feeling of realism it gives the reader.  All of the characters feel like real people you may walk by on the street or hold the door for.


#3-



The Pro
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Amanda Conner
Published by Image
Released in 2002

Now this is a big technicality since it does involve some superhero characters, but the superhero aspects are really very secondary to the story to me.  This has to be one of the most fun comics to read.  

The story is pretty simple.  a low class prostitute who is down on her luck is given powers by an alien being who makes a bet with the computer A.I. on his ship that anyone can be heroic if they have powers.  Let’s just say when she discovers she has powers she doesn’t use them with the most noble of intentions.  Her new found abilities lead her to be noticed by the League of Honor, which is a take on the Justice League.  I will leave the story there, because words don’t do justice to what happens next.

Garth Ennis does a really good job of making the story fun and questionable as he always does.  And he clearly has no love when it comes to his take on the JLA.  But what really shines in this book is Amanda Conner’s art.  Her style brings the unusual world of the Pro to life such a vibrant flare.

This book made my list because it was one of the comics that got my wife to start giving more comics a chance.  Before she read The Pro she only gave a few books a chance, and even the ones that she did try she wasn’t really impressed with.


#2-



Fables
Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Multiple Artists Throughout the Series
Published by Vertigo
Released from 2002-Present

I have read most of this series, but after a while the story had gone as far as it should’ve and it started to feel like it’s natural ending point had past.  That said for the first twelve or thirteen trades this series is flawless.

The story is really good premise.  All of the classic characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes are driven from their homelands by an evil army lead by “The Adversary”.  So they take up residence in the “Mundy” World.  They set up their own community and government in a section of New York City.  The first arc of the story focuses on a murder in the fairytale community.  And while it doesn’t highlight what the rest of the series is about, it really serves to introduce the reader to what these versions of the classic characters are really like.   

Bill Willingham makes these classic characters his own throughout the run on this series.  And every artist that gets a chance on this book makes the characters recognizable, but also gives them their own unique twists.

I chose Fables because it’s easy for most casual fans to read because all of the characters are from stories you can hear from disney movies and fairy tales all through their childhood.  Yet it also delivers new takes on the characters to keep it interesting.




#1-



Revival
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Mike Norton
Published by Image
Released from 2012-Present

I have read this series from the beginning and I am always excited to read a new issue when it comes out.  It uses strong characters and paranoia to develop a great story.  

The focus of Revival is about a small town in Wisconson where a bunch of people came back from the dead in a completely unexplained event.  The series starts months after “Revival Day” and Dana Cypress is responsible for figuring out the mystery of why.  The CDC loans an agent to the town to help with the quarantine zone.  A big part of this series is the focus on the fact that nobody knows who’s a reviver, because they look like regular humans.  The revivers look normal, however most of them are mentally unstable due to the revival process and their inability to stay dead.

This is the first book I have read that is written by Seeley, and he delivered with great characters and a very realistic world (minus the dead coming back that is).  Norton has the knack to make the characters distinct despite their amount of winter clothes they all wear.  And the emotions the characters display are amazing.

Although this is a newer book, it made my list because of how perfectly it executes on the premise.  You get a good amount of tender moments between the inhabitants of the town and moments that will leave you tense and wanting more.


Well that is my list.  There are other great series that I have really enjoyed like Preacher, but I left them off the list for good reasons.  I really enjoyed making this list for you guys.  I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below.  Thanks for reading this post.  And keep on reading comic fans.