Friday, October 30, 2015

Quick Review of Black Magick

Black Magick #1
Written By Greg Rucka
Art By Nicola Scott
Released By Image Comics

Greg Rucka has been one of my favorite writers since I first read his Whiteout series so I have at least checked out most of the books he has worked on since.  So when I saw a preview for Black Magick in the back of Lazarus last month I added it to my pull list the next time I was in my LCS.  Plus how could I pass up a Rucka book with art by Nicola Scott???

Rowan Black is deep in the Wiccan beliefs, but she is also an officer in the Portsmouth Police Department.  And it is quickly made clear that these two factors in her life are constantly at odds with each other.  As evidenced by the opening of the book which features a group of women wearing nothing but cloaks who are in the middle of a ritual when a cell phone interrupts them.  A call that pulls Black away from the ritual to a hostage situation at a local burger joint where the hostage taker is demanding to talk with Black specifically.  After a little interaction over the phone the man agrees to let the hostages go if Black will agree to turn herself over in exchange.  A deal that Rowan knows must be made.  So she hands herself over and gets the innocent people freed but is shocked that the man knows a lot about her including her true name which in witchcraft is a powerful weapon.  It is also quickly made clear that the man has been hired by someone else and that he is being forced to kill Black by the mysterious higher power.

Rucka grips the reader quickly with the dark world he is creating and the characters that are inhabiting it.  He builds tension slowly and expertly all the way up to the shocking final moment where Rucka hints at what is to come for Rowan Black and her two lives.

The art of Nicola Scott is amazing.  In fact I would even go so far as say that Black Magick is the best Nicola Scott art I have ever seen.  Her line work shows a great patience and attention to every detail in a panel.  And it was a great decision to have the art start almost black and white and slowly bring in little tints of color up until the final moments of the hostage situation where there is a sudden burst of color that makes the moment way more intense.

Rating:  5 out of 5

I am going to stay on this book for it’s run.  It has a compelling mystery building in the background and a great concept that has a lot of room to be explored.

Thanks for reading my review.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for other books to read.  Please leave them in the comments section.  And as always.  Keep Reading Comics Fans!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Favorite Horror Movies

My Favorite Horror Movies

Most of the articles on Once Upon A Longbox have been devoted to my love of comics, but I am also a very devoted fan of horror movies (good and bad alike).  So since we are in October I wanted to compile a list of my favorite horror movies.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

I was only three years old when this horror classic was released so I didn’t see it on it’s initial release.  However when I was in my teens and began experimenting with the horror genre for the first time A Nightmare On Elm Street was instantly the first in the genre to truly make me uncomfortable and hook me on the adrenaline rush that came along with the fear.  That is why it will always be my favorite.  A Nightmare On Elm Street combines psychologically and physically scary themes that make for the perfect storm of horror.  Even the outfit that Kreuger wears in the film is designed to make you uncomfortable due to his sweater putting red and dark green together which is proven to be hard for the eye to process making it uncomfortable to look at.   While the franchise went on to become a parody of itself I did enjoy 3, 4, and New Nightmare but none ever fully captured the perfection that was the original.  And before anybody wants to ask I was not happy with the 2010 remake.  Although I did think that Jackie Earle Haley did a pretty good job at making the character of Freddy Kreuger his own.

The Exorcist (1973)

I didn’t see this film until I was already in my 20’s and that still didn’t stop it from being one of the few horror movies I love that I have only watched once because it freaked me out so badly.  The story of a young girl named Regan who finds an imaginary friend named Captain Howdy and soon starts to show signs that her friend may not be so imaginary.  Before long Regan starts to act differently and show signs of a possible demonic possession.  

I think the reason this one hit me so deeply is the depiction of how a young girl becoming something so evil and corrupted by the force.  The corruption of the Innocence angle always seems to hit the hardest to me.  Not to mention the fact that it is supposedly based on a true story.  William Friedkin also used subliminal imagery to enhance the horror of the film.  Often cutting single frame images of a creepy face into random scenes as well as superimposing the face and other iconography into the shadows of multiple scenes.

Alien (1979)

Another horror classic that to this day still keeps me on edge even though I have watched it several times.  The claustrophobic atmosphere of being trapped in a fairly small space with an alien creature that is virtually unseen except for quick glimpses.  Riddley Scott does resort to a couple of jump scares but they are usually to make the viewer ease up just before the true scare by making you believe that the jump scare was all that a scene was building to.  It is almost the perfect horror movie that is usually considered to be Sci-Fi.  And the sequence when Dallas is trying to flush the xenomorph out of the ventilation systems is the perfect proof of how you can build suspense with the simplest of sounds.  

Poltergeist (1982)

This one has stuck with me for years because when I was 3 or 4 my uncle rented it for my cousins and sisters but didn’t think it was necessary to have me leave the room before they watched it.  A decision that my mother has yet to let him live down because I was completely out of my mind I was so scared.  I only remember the man peeling his own face off in the bathroom after his steak walked across the kitchen counter and burst with maggots.  I feel that most of the special effects don’t hold up the best but the movie itself still plays pretty well.  And the slow build from playful wonder to complete disaster makes for a unique feel to the entire film.  And it is that sense of wonder that slowly turns to pure terror that was missing in the 2015 remake.  And it should be noted that the clown scene in the original is still one of the creepiest moments in horror movie history to me.  

 Let The Right One In (2008)/ Let Me In (2010)

I have compiled these to together because they are pretty much the same movie and even though Let Me In was a remake of Let the Right One In which was a swedish horror movie it is just as good.  The core story follows a young boy who is constantly bullied at school and is pretty much ignored by his parents at home who meets a strange girl about his age that has just moved into the apartment next to him.  At first she seems just a little sheltered.  But as he continues to interact with her you start to realize that she isn’t human and that the man she lives with is not her father but her caretaker who kills and drains the blood of his victims so that she doesn’t have to kill herself.  

As the movie develops it really has a deep story about the coming of age at the the heart as well as a touching almost love story between the two characters.  And both know how to build tension as well as horror when the scene calls for it.

Honorable Mentions

Evil Dead

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies had a unique voice.  Between the first film which was a horror classic and the sequel which did a good job of taking the horror roots of the original and adding in a slapstick flavor to make it an even more unique film in the horror landscape.  I will also say that I really liked the remake for it’s twist on the original film’s story.

Cabin In The Woods

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddards satire on the horror genre worked on many levels.  It had it’s scary moments while at the same time making fun of all of the major horror movie cliches.  And it was a real treat to get the whole story of the people in the control booth who are in charge of making sure the event goes down without any problems added a whole new level to this unique take on the horror movie.

Thanks for reading my article.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for more articles please leave them in the comments section.  And as always….Keep watching Horror Fans!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Random Reviews For 10/14/2015

Random Reviews For 10/14/2015

New Avengers #1
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Gerardo Sandoval

I have had problems reading Avengers comics for a while now.  Either due to a big event derailing it or because the writer was going a little too high concept so the book wasn’t paying off by the issue.  But when I saw the team of characters that are in the New Avengers I figured I might give this one a chance.

New Avengers brings together several characters that I really like.  In this volume the New Avengers are made up of Hulkling, Wiccan, Squirrel Girl, Songbird, White Tiger, Power Man, Sunspot and Hawkeye.  But it is unclear if Sunspot is just the financial leader or if he will be part of the mission team at some point.  But in this issuer he is merely a face for the company that runs the team A.I.M. (Avengers Idea Mechanics) from their island base.  However the island is also home to many scientists that are working on ways to improve the world through science.  

I was first introduced to the writing of Al Ewing when he worked on Mighty Avengers and Loki: Agent of Asgard.  With his Mighty Avengers run I only read a couple of issues before I dropped it because of how tied up in the Infinity event and the bad art of Greg Land.  With Loki I have read all of the issues and really enjoyed it.  In New Avengers Al Ewing is in top form.  He clearly likes working with the characters he is writing and knows how to make the large group of misfits on the team work together in their own unique ways.  Ewing manages to find a good balance of drama and humor that makes me want to get the next issue when it comes out.

Sandoval’s art bothered me at first but as the issue went on I found it growing on me.  It is very anime inspired and uses heavy lines for shading.  At about the halfway point I really started to feel that his art was perfect for the tone of the book.  The characters are all slightly re-imagined but at the same time they are easily recognizable.  But best of all is Sandoval’s ability to make the story flow without needing the words on the page.

4 Out Of 5

I Hate Fairyland #1
Written and Drawn By Skottie Young

After all of the variants for Marvel that Young has done it is easy to be burned out on Skottie Young’s art.  But I choose to remember his amazing work on the Oz series.  So when I first saw the solicitations for I Hate Fairyland I was pretty sure that I was going to be grabbing at least the first issue.  

I Hate Fairyland is the story of a little girl named Gertrude who wishes to be swept away to a fairy tale land.  But she should have listened to the old saying “Be careful what you wish for”.  Because Gertrude gets her wish and finds herself in a land of many strange fantasy creatures called Fairyland, and she immediately wants to go back home.  Queen Cloudia welcomes her and tells her there is a key that will get her back home and the quest to find it will only take a couple of moments.  So with a map and her new sidekick Larry, Gertrude sets off to find the key that will get her back home.  A quest that is still going twenty-seven years later.  So Gertrude still looks like a little girl, but inside she has aged every moment that she has been in Fairyland.  A fact that makes her very bitter and resentful.  

The writing and the art of Skottie Young works really well.  However it is a little weird to see Skottie Young’s cutesy art when Gertrude is blowing the face off of the moon with canon or disemboweling and eating a group of mushroom men.  A fact that makes it more fun when she really starts to raise hell against the world she is trapped in.

3 Out Of 5

Both books were pretty good but I think I will only continue to read New Avengers going forward.  I can see I Hate Fairyland getting old once the shock value wears off.  But I hope that there are people who keep reading and enjoying it.  But with New Avengers I will read it until it gets cancelled or gets derailed by an inevitable crossover event.

Thanks for reading my review.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for other books to read.  Please leave them in the comments section.  And as always.  Keep Reading Comics Fans!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Quick Review of Doctor Strange #1

Doctor Strange #1
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Chris Bachalo

I have always been a fan of the weirder characters when it comes to comics.  I have also been a big fan of Jason Aaron since Scalped and Chris Bachalo since his run on Shade the Changing Man.  So when I heard that Aaron and Bachalo were the creative team for a new ongoing Doctor Strange series I quickly added it to my box at my comic shop.

Jason Aaron knew what he needed to do with Doctor Strange from the beginning.  Aaron starts by giving a quick origin for Strange complete with a collage with panels from older issues of Doctor Strange.  Then it quickly jumps headfirst into where Jason Aaron is going to take the character going forward.  Strange begins deep in battle with an army of demons that have taken up residence in the soul of a young boy.  A battle that leads Stephen to notice that there is something bigger going on due to the amount of mystic creatures from deep within the mystic realms straying towards the human realm.  Jason Aaron nails the voice to Stephen Strange, bringing together his arrogance with his subtle insecurities to do with his bad hands.  The balance that Aaron finds in his storytelling in this issue is perfect and makes it easy for a reader, old or new, to keep up.

The art of Chris Bachalo fits this book perfectly.  Bachalo has a strong line work and a slight whimsical edge that has become associated with Bachalo’s name.  Especially since his run on Wolverine and the X-Men.  As the story is building Bachalo uses his fun art style to make the book light on the surface with an edge of darkness building in the background.  

   4 Out Of 5
It was a strong first issue with some real potential to be a great series.  My only fear is that it won’t get a very long fun like most of the previous books that Doctor Strange has had in the past.  However there is a movie in the works so that may give it a little more of a chance to go for awhile.

Thanks for reading my review.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for other books to read.  Please leave them in the comments section.  And as always.  Keep Reading Comics Fans!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Best Weapons In Comics

Best Weapons In Comics
I am of the opinion that a hero shouldn’t use a weapon to fight crime. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pretty good weapons that characters choose to use for good or evil. So I have compiled a list of some of my favorite weapons in comics.


Of all of Batman’s gadgets the Batarangs are probably his most notable of all.  No matter what incarnation it may be they are always recognizable and they always seem to be his most useful too.  Knocking out an enemy, taking out a light or even the delivery system for a tracking device, the batarang does it all which earns it a guaranteed spot on this list.


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Thor fan, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to them that Mjolnir is on this list for me.  It gives its wielder the powers of the god of thunder and the pseudo-immortality that comes with them.  But the ultimate edge Mjolnir gives is the fact that only the worthy can lift the hammer therefore it can not be used against them.

Nightwing’s Eskrima clubs-

As the first major protege of Batman Dick Grayson took on the title of a kryptonian legend named Nightwing and went out on his own as a vigilante.  When he did he began using two clubs called eskrimas as his main weapon.  And Nightwing is very well trained in using them.  Eventually the clubs were upgraded with electrical tips that could be activated and deactivated at will.  

Captain America’s Shield-

Is there a person in comic fandom who wouldn’t want this iconic item?  Because of Cap’s Super Soldier enhanced abilities he has the ability to throw the shield with such accuracy that it can be bounced off multiple objects before it comes back to him.  Except in the MCU where it appears that Steve Rogers with the help of someone has equipped himself with some kind of high power magnetic bracelet that helps bring it back to him.

The Arrows of Both Green Arrow and Hawkeye-

When I think of the arrows for Green Arrow the first thing that comes to mind is usually his trick arrows like the boxing glove arrow.  Probably because that is the Green Arrow I grew up with.  However when I got the chance to read the better arcs I found that I preferred his Longbow Hunters persona better.  Just a man and his bow thwarting crimes.  As for Hawkeye I haven’t read enough of him to really know whether he has used a lot of trick arrows or not but it was only fair to include him when talking of arrows being used to fight crime.

Thanks for reading my article.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for more articles please leave them in the comments section.  And as always…. Keep Reading Comics Fans!!!