Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Optimistic About Captain America

I’ve posted a few times regarding my thoughts on the upcoming Captain America movie.

In those posts, I expressed apprehension regarding both the casting of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, as well as Joe Johnston’s role as the director of the film.

Looking back, I also took time to thoroughly dissect (read: shit on) the design of the Captain America costume.

Yeah... Still not a big fan of this design.

In all, based on the content of the teaser trailers, as well as Joe Johnston’s notable, but severely bipolar filmography; I’d be lying if I said I was expecting much from the finished product.

Ever since I caught word of the Captain America movie, the one thing I was hoping for from the movie; was that it wouldn’t shame the character of Captain America.

I happen to like Captain America.

Some people take offense to the boldfaced patriotism inherent to his character, or his cheesy “old-timey” sensibilities; but personally, I kind of like that about Cap.

While I’m far from posting an American flag out on my porch, in a cynical age; I can’t help but admire the straightforward nature of Captain America’s values and symbolism.

Anyway, the real reason I’m making this post; is because, after viewing the newest full-length trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger, I can honestly say my impression of it has improved.

Well okay, that kind of had a hand in raising my spirits too.

While the trailer itself is far from brilliant, there’s an intangible element to it that appealed to me.

Hell, even Chris Evans seemed closer to being Steve Rogers than I felt previously.

In short, the trailer gives the impression that the movie is far more cohesive and well put together than I initially thought.

I know of the dangers of creating expectation from promotional materials, but for whatever reason; this new trailer has drastically changed my expectation from “hopeful” in the sense of hoping it won’t suck balls, to “hopeful” in the sense that I hope it’s as fun as it seems.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me that’s a pretty big leap.

Anyway, take a look for yourself HERE; I think you’ll pleasantly surprised.

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“I Don’t Do Wonder Woman”

I’ve never read a Wonder Woman comic in my life.

I watched the Lynda Carter TV show on Nick at Nite when I was a kid, and I  her recent DC animated movie to be the cream of the animated crop; but for the most part, Wonder Woman is an unknown property to me.

Though she supposedly stands as an integral pillar to the “Trinity” of DC’s superhero pantheon, in all honesty I’ve always kind of viewed her as being a tier below Batman, and even Superman; in terms of prestige.

In my book, the triangle of power between the Big Three is definitely scalene. In Batman's favor mind you...

That’s not to say the character doesn’t have an incredible breadth of history behind it, or that the character seems lacking in terms of ability next to the aforementioned pair of ass-kickers; rather I’m just saying that Batman and Superman are like the good old fashioned American combo of ketchup and mustard, while Wonder Woman is more like hummus or some shit.

Translation:
Batman and Superman are household names, whose most significant exploits are often known to those that have no interest in comic books, whereas Wonder Woman is known; but very likely an enigma to most.

Pictured: A big 'ole plate of Wonder Woman...

*Whew!* That was one helluva’ simile!

I suppose if any value were to be extracted from the above mess of similes and bullshit, I’d say it’d have to be that:

I don’t do Wonder Woman.

I know the extent of her powers.

I have a rough understanding of her origins.

For the life of me though, I don’t know of a single significant event in her entire 70 year history.

Over the past decade or so, I’ve read review after glowing review praising Wonder Woman’s stories, due in no small part to Gail Simone’s impeccable writing talents.

Any author with the chops to write a scenario involving Bane riding a dinosaur gets a nod from me...

Hell, I remember reading a Wonder Woman trade review over at Collected Editions that started things off by saying “BUY THIS COMIC. NOW.”

Based on that statement, as well as numerous other complementary reviews I’ve read; clearly there’s quality entertainment to be found in some of Wonder Woman’s stories

Despite this, as well as my love for Gail Simone’s Secret Six series, I’ve yet to flip open a Wonder Woman trade.

I think part of the problem for me with Wonder Woman, is the inherent “ooginess” that comes from being a young man facing the prospect of reading a comic wherein a scantly clad woman runs around and beats the piss out of people.

...And then there's shit like this.

I’m not a prude.

I have a cock just like every other boy down the block.

It’s just that when it comes to the idea of reading comics like this, no matter how well written or lavishly illustrated; I can’t help but feel just a little bit dirty.

I’d like to read a Wonder Woman trade at some point, as I’ve been largely impressed by Wonder Woman’s guest appearances in some of other DC trades I’ve read; but for now my bookshelf shall remain Wonder-less.

I know it’s silly, but for the most part; this “oogie” issue is the only thing holding me back from giving Wonder Woman a shot.

Well, that and the horrifying prospect of being made to look like a pervert as I purchase a Wonder Woman trade for the inevitably female register clerk at the bookstore.

Anyway, this whole post came about as a result of the recent announcement of the new Wonder Woman TV series.

I definitely won’t be watching the show, but tomorrow I think I’ll give my thoughts on the new Wonder Woman costume.

See yah’ tomorrow!

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Azn Badger’s Top 5 Songs That Keep Him From Stabbing People (Japanese Edition)

In light of my ongoing blood feud with my virus infected laptop, I figured it would be a good idea for me to take the time type up an article (or 2) regarding a therapeutic topic.

In this case, said topic would be songs that keep me from stabbing people AKA songs that, for whatever reason; make me feel happy.

Being as I am indeed an Azn Badger, with relatively Azn interests; much of my song library consists of Azn tunes.

That being said, I foresee this post being part of a series, so I’ve thusly labeled this one the “Japanese Edition” of this particular Top 5 list.

Anyway, the only requirements for entry on this list, are that the track must indeed be a song; meaning it must have lyrics, and in this case, it must also be Japanese.

Expect other versions of this post for the next couple of days.

Apologies in advance to those that truly don’t give a shit about music, much less of the Azn variety…

Anyway, let’s make with the list!:

*PLEASE NOTE, I DID NOT WATCH ANY OF THE VIDEOS BELOW, SO DON’T COMPLAIN TO ME IF THEY’RE OBNOXIOUS, STUPID, ANNOYING, OR ALL OF THE ABOVE.*

5. Sanpo (A Walk) – Azumi Inoue


That’s right folks, #5 on my list of Japanese songs that keep me from stabbing people is the opening song from My Neighbor Totoro.

Honestly though, you can’t mention “happy” without including Totoro, can you?

This song brought me much joy as a child, both in English and Japanese, and it continues to put a smile on my face to this day.

Hell, being as it’s written for kids, it’s one of the few songs on this list that I can actually understand 100% of.

Azumi Inoue has a wonderfully sweet voice that’s perfectly suited for the Blue’s Clues-y, Wiggles-esque, sugar-coated pre-schooler nursery rhyme feel of the song.

The only other song I’ve heard her perform was Chiisa Na Inori (Tiny Prayer) from the Guyver Image Album, (yeah, I actually went and bought it…) and I’ve gotta’ say, the woman’s got some pipes.

Not necessarily of the “strong” or “booming” variety, but I think “sweet” describes her sound pretty well.

4. Yume De Aeta Nara (If We Met In A Dream) – 175R


DISCO POP = FUCK YES.

Yume De Aeta Nara was a song featured in the first film in the Kamen Rider Den-Ou series.

Around the time the movie came out, I was knees deep in my own personal period of “Tokusatsu Revival.”

Just a year or 2 before, I had rediscovered Ultraman and Kamen Rider; and so when the movie came out, I was really fuckin’ excited.

Like, REALLY excited.

Anyway, while Den-Ou was perhaps one of the best Tokusatsu series I can recall, the first movie of course turned out to be kind of “meh,” leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth until fairly recently when the Den-Ou franchise miraculously resurfaced.

That’s a story for another day though…

So anyway, the movie sucked, but the one awesome thing I took away from it, was this song, Yume De Aeta Nara, by 175R.

I’ve never heard any other songs by the group, but honestly I don’t feel I need to, as this one has since provided me with more than enough enjoyment.

Like I said man, disco pop is THE SHIT.

When it comes to making an Azn Badger happy, few things do it better than a disco beat and nostalgic ties to Kamen Rider.

3. Yuke! Tiger Mask! (Go! Tiger Mask!) – Hiroshi Nitta


Tiger Mask is the fuckin’ MAN.

Initially starting as a manga, and then later serving as the inspiration for countless videogame characters, an anime series (or 2), and even a legacy of real-life pro-wrestlers, Tiger Mask is brilliant to the point in which I’m actually jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea.

Really, I ask you, who the fuck wouldn’t enjoy a story about a man in a tiger mask wrestling the shit out of dudes, while protecting the children of the world from an evil Illuminati-esque organization?

Anyway, the song I chose for this list comes from the 1980’s anime series, and as such, it’s sound bears the remnants of the enka style of vocalization that was popular in the post-war period.

By the way, enka is THE SHIT.

That being said, the enka style of the lyrics, combined with the almost spaghetti western-like music, make for a wonderfully cheesy and over-the-top theme song to a cheesy and over-the-top hero.

By the way, I should’ve included this song on my list of ways I keep sane at work; ’cause I have a tendency to sing it when I’m on the shipping line…

I’m not retarded.

I swear.

2. My Lonely Town (Mai Roneri Taun) – B’z


Oh B’z, how the fuck did I live without you?

Seriously, B’z is a Japanese band that’s been around FOREVER, but me being me, I didn’t find out about them until 2004 when their lead guitarist, Tak Matsumoto; composed the soundtrack for the movie Ultraman: The Next.

Come to think of it though, news of stupid-ass movies about dudes in rubber monster suits duking it out seems to be how I get most of my news from Japan, so I guess that makes a fair amount of sense…

Anyway, I was really impressed with the soundtrack for that movie, (another one that I eventually bought) so I looked up the composer, which led me to B’z, which led me to finding a mega-awesome band that I hope will continue being awesome for years to come.

My Lonely Town is an unbelievably awesome song from B’z(‘s?) most recent album, Magic.

When I first put this song on, I was reading the Wolverine comic, Old Man Logan; and I gotta’ tell yah’, it just fit too fuckin’ well.

Seriously, My Lonely Town has a big, loud, Bon Jovi-esque rock sound to it, but at the same time it also has some amazing string work that gives it an epic, again, almost spaghetti Western-like feel.

It was a brilliant case of right song, right book, right time.

1. Let It Go – Yuna Ito


This one is special.

I can’t really put my finger on it why, but for whatever reason; Let It Go has been my favorite song for almost a year now.

I don’t have “favorite” songs.

I have songs I like, but never “favorites.”

This song is one of the few exceptions I can name off the top of my head.

Songs from Transformers: The Movie and the Rocky series don’t count, ’cause those are built in.

Seriously, I didn’t “choose” to love those songs, they chose me.

*Ahem!* Anyway, Let It Go is sung by Yuna Ito.

While it lends no credence as to why I like the song so much, it’s interesting to note that she’s a hapa girl.

That is, she’s half Korean, half Japanese, raised in Honolulu.

Way to represent the local people… By leaving the country and making music in a foreign country.

All kidding aside, while the music is definitely the biggest selling point for me in this song, with it’s beautiful, and surprisingly almost country-esque string work coupled with an unrelentingly upbeat tune, I have to say Ms. Ito’s voice is pretty fuckin’ good.

I’ve never really paid much attention to vocals in songs.

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I was a “hummer” as a kid; and thusly kept music in my head rather than songs.

That is to say, while the other kids annoyed their parents by singing “Under the Sea” at the top of their lungs everyday, I was busy pissing off my folks by incessantly humming music from Snow Bros. and Mega Man 2.

I can’t explain it, but for some reason I have a lot of trouble understanding the lyrics to songs, regardless of language.

Despite this, from what I know of Japanese pop music, Yuna Ito is a rare talent.

Near as I can tell, most Jpop stars are, like our own American ones, studio musicians I.E. pretty people that can do just enough of everything to appeal to the core demographic.

They have flat voices, and more often than not; hide behind backup dancers, high production value music and voice modulation.

Ms. Ito, while most likely guilty of all of the above, actually seems to have a genuinely strong singing voice.

While I’m probably wrong, my first thought process was that it may be a cultural difference.

She may be fluent in Japanese, and indeed have lived there most of her life for all I know, but being raised in Hawaii, as an American; would most likely lend some boldness to her style of singing.

It seemed to be the case for Utada Hikaru, who was from New York; so I don’t exactly feel dumb for making this assumption.

Anyway, if ever the Azn Badger seems primed for a stabbing session, just remember to put on Let It Go, or any of the above mentioned Japanese songs, and chances are you’ll be just fine.

Don’t quote me on that though.

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How The Azn Badger Stays Sane At Work…

The Azn Badger works in a warehouse.

Specifically the Amazon.com warehouse in Bellevue, Washington.

Over the course of 10 hours each day, tedium is the name of the game, and as such; it’s really easy to go a little nuts from time to time.

Trust me, I’ve seen some people lose their shit, as well as their jobs due to lack of motivation and occasional violent bouts of insanity.

That being said, myself and some of the other workers have, over the course of the past several months, come up with a few interesting games and activities to keep our minds sharp and occupied while our bodies toil in the boring and repetitive world of warehouse work.

Here are just a few examples of said activities:

1. Practice a funny voice or accent.

Okay, admittedly this one isn’t really practiced by anyone other than myself, but even so; it’s helped me get through some of the tougher morning scenarios.

I say “morning,” because I’m generally more “loopy” in the early hours, and thusly more apt to talk to myself.

“More” being the operative word in that sentence, being as I tend to talk to myself a lot regardless…

Anyway, over the past few months I’ve been playing around with Scottish and Australian accents.

I honestly can’t really do either of them very well, but after many days of thinking on and dissecting the diction and quirks behind the 2 accents, I can honestly say I feel I “know” them a lot better than I ever thought I would.

For the record, the only 2 phrases I can say with a legit Scottish accent are:

“Made in Scotland by real Scots.”

and

“You should try it!  It’s delicious!”

The reasoning behind those choice of phrases came from the tag line on some Scottish cereal I found in the warehouse.

Don’t ask…

2.  Exchange movie quotes/Arnold Schwarzenneger quotes.

This one takes a buddy, and an intimate knowledge of movies, but trust me; it’s a blast if you find a partner that can keep up.

So far the most quoted films are Jurassic Park, and any Arnold Schwarzenneger movie EVER.

Seeing as most men know at least some of Arnold’s movies, and can at least partially imitate his voice to humorous effect; I’d say the average person is most likely to enjoy that version of the game moreso than the other.

Even so, don’t underestimate the entertainment value that can be extracted from exchanging Robert Muldoon quotes.

“They should all be destroyed!”

Your turn!

3. “The Pop-Culture Icon” Game.

“The Pop-Culture Icon” game is probably the cream of the crop of boredom relieving games at Amazon.

Well, at least for me anyway.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me go over the rules for the most basic version of the game:

You begin with 2 players.

At the outset of the game, the player that suggested the playing of the game cites the name of a popular fictional character.

From that point on, the object of the game is for both players to cite the names of any popular fictional characters and the name of the source material they originate from in a back and forth manner, with the last letter in each character’s name being the letter that must begin the next consecutive character’s name.

In example:

Player 1 begins the game by stating: “Optimus Prime, Transformers.”

Player 2 would then respond by stating: “The Eradicator, Superman comics,” or any other character whose name begins with “E.”

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Should either player have the desire to stump their “opponent” and “win” the game in doing so, strategy can arise in the form of choosing character names with difficult or rare last letters.

Fox, from Starfox, has proven to be quite popular in the warehouse, as “X” is definitely on of the harder letters to work from, and let’s face it; Fox is pretty fuckin’ easy to remember to use.

While those are the rules of the most basic version of the game, several variations of it have popped up in the warehouse; including movie-centric, comic book-centric, and videogame-centric versions.

Also, bear in mind that the rules can be modified in-game at any point in time.

For instance, today myself and the person I was playing “against” (it’s not a game you play to win, only to have fun and keep busy) were forced to consider ruling out the inclusion of Pokemon and Mega Man characters, as we came to realize that, between the 2 of us we probably could’ve gotten stuck just naming characters from those 2 franchises.

A few other rules that I felt should’ve been instigated are as follows:

Character names should always begin with the first name, and should always include the last name (and it’s last letter) if the player knows it.

Characters should only be used once, regardless of how many aliases they have.

Names of races or species, regardless of whether they are fictional or not; should not count.

Duplicate character names can be reused if the player is able to cite the name of alternate source material.

In case you didn’t notice, I really like this game.

Hell, I played the game for close to 7 hours today.

3 hours consecutively, and sporadically over the next 4.

My “opponent” and I were separated for most of the day, but every time we would pass each other in the warehouse, we’d pause a second to keep the game going.

While I don’t usually feel the need to toot my own horn, I feel it should be said that the Azn Badger is pretty fuckin’ savage at this game.

Seriously man, today I was playing “against” the originator of the game, and I had his ass on the ropes so bad, you don’t even know man…

He was so desperate towards the end that he was dropping bullshit like “T-Rex” just to stay afloat.

Not only that, he went so far as to use “Xavier,” as in “Professor Charles Xavier,” for an “X.”

I don’t care how bad you’re hurtin’, don’t you ever forget Professor X’s first name…

Anyway, I had a lot of fun with this game today, here’s hoping somebody reading this goes out and gives it a try!

 

 

 

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Batman’s New Threads

I was clickin’ around on IGN earlier today, when I noticed an article in their comics section entitled, “Batman Has A New Costume.”

Being a Batman enthusiast, I naturally clicked it, half-expecting some sort of shocking redesign along the lines of Batman 500 AKA the Jean-Paul Valley Batman from the Knightfall story arc.

Pictured: The EXACT image that got me into comics in the early 90's.

You see, though I admittedly haven’t followed Grant Morrison’s recent work on the Batman series, least of all the death and return of Bruce Wayne portion of it, with all of the outlandish Batman costume designs being thrown around as of late, I figured we were due for even more craziness.

Goddamnit! I hella' wanna' hate on this image for being dumb, but it's so damn awesome!

Color me surprised when I discovered that not only was the costume redesign a helluva’ lot more tasteful than I was expecting, it was also done by Moon Knight and, *sigh…* Messiah Complex artist David Finch was responsible for it.

As beautiful as his art can be, GODDAMN YOU DAVID FINCH FOR TRICKING ME INTO READING MESSIAH COMPLEX!

That being said, let’s take a look at Mr. Finch’s work:

ART.

I have to say, not just as a David Finch whore, but as a Batman fan in general, I really don’t mind the new costume.

Most of the changes are quite subtle, with some elements, such as the classic; almost Tim Burton Batman-esque yellow chest emblem, actually being recycled elements from previous designs of the Bat-Suit.

Keaton Batman: The Finest Batman the Silver Screen Has Yet to Produce.

In some images I’ve run across, it seems apparent that DC was trying to cash in on the recent mega-success of the Arkham Asylum videogame, as both the beefier arm guards/gauntlets, the bulkier and more heavily ornamented utility belt, and the molded seam-lines of the suit seem very similar to the art style of the game.

No, the Joker is not about to suck Batman's cock. Buncha' dirty sickos...

Which reminds me, I simply have to play Arkham Asylum at some point…

The seam-lines I mentioned above are probably the one aspect of the design that I’m on the fence about.

How appropriate that that just happens to be the single most noticeable change from the current status quo.

To me, the best Bat-Suit designs have always been the ones that take advantage of the 2D, pen and paper medium.

Blue Batman = THE SHIT.

In comics, the artist has the ability to manufacture images of characters without having to take into consideration the physical properties of whatever materials their costumes are made of.

Depending on the artist’s sensibilities, or the mood of the story, Batman’s cape and cowl can be rendered as smooth and voluminous as silk, or as heavy and lustrous as leather.

Kind of like Spawn! You're not allowed to ask "why," you just kind of accept it...

In comics, Batman’s costume usually looks best to me when it’s portrayed as a skin-tight presence surrounding the character.

To me, Batman usually looks best when he isn’t so much wearing a Bat-Suit, as he is embodying it.

Jim Lee’s Batman always struck me as a fantastic, if not ludicrously beefy design.

Jim Lee's Batman is so fucking beastly, it should be spelt "Bat-MAAAANNN."

Aside from the utility belt and heavily detailed boots, every element of Lee’s Bat-Suit strike me as essentially being a part of Bruce Wayne’s anatomy.

At the same time though, I have to say I was very impressed with Lee Bermejo’s rendering of the Bat-Suit in Brian Azzarello’s excellent Joker graphic novel.

Not from Joker, but close enough. Did I mention this art is badass?

Essentially at the other end of the spectrum in terms of costume/character design, Bermejo’s extremely realistic renderings resulted in a Bat-Suit of tangible weight and bulk, so much so that it truly seemed like a suit of armor.

Not only that, but Bermejo’s design of Batman’s cape was truly striking, as it appeared leathery and almost obscenely heavy, such that it assisted in portraying the character as being almost inhumanly powerful and omniscent.

I’m rambling.

To sum up, Finch’s design of the Bat-Suit is honestly only a mild departure from the status quo, but it’s amazing how much an impact a few seam-lines can make.

Personally, I find the new design to be, how shall we say; “acceptable,” I wouldn’t be surprised if those seam-lines get the axe somewhere down the road, as honestly I find them to be somewhat distracting.

Much like pie... If anything can stop me in my tracks, it's the sight and/or smell of a delicious pie...

To me, it’s almost as if Finch is trying to straddle the line behind the Christopher Nolan movie’s Bat-Armor design, and the comic’s traditional Bat-Suit, with the end result being a costume that appears almost flight suit-ish.

So what if Batman has brown-guy hands. I'm lazy, so sue me.

While I find the design to be acceptable, I’ll end by saying this:

I’d take Jim Aparo or Jim Lee’s streamlined Bat-Suit over David Finch’s Bat-Flight-Suit any day.

That being said, here’s one more look at it for the road:

Cool enough, but nowhere Bat-MAAAANN levels of MAN-liness.

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Favorite Cover Artists: Tim Bradstreet

In keeping with the “grim and gritty” theme we established yesterday with my naming of Francesco Mattina as one of my favorite comic book cover artists, today we pay tribute to the prolific and uber-talented Tim Bradstreet.

Though he’s been working in the industry since the early 90’s, I first took notice of Mr. Bradstreet’s work when I first got back into comics in the mid-2000’s.

The comic responsible for getting me back into the mix, was of course Garth Ennis’ work on the Max version of the Punisher.

Despite all the laser sights, my money's on The Punisher in this one...

Bradstreet was responsible for designing the covers for every cover in the Punisher series, up until Ennis left the book, which of course was right around the time I stopped reading it.

Tim Bradstreet’s work is, much like Francesco Mattina’s, of the photorealistic variety.

Personally, I wouldn't trust a gold-toothed Michael Clark Duncan with my baby. Just sayin'...

In fact, though I can’t speak to Mr. Mattina’s artistic process, I know for a fact that Mr. Bradstreet makes extensive use of models and live-photo references of his own design.

Including our boy Thomas Jane!

Through tracing these photos, and then shading, stylizing them, and placing the figures in front of some of the dingiest, grimiest locales known to man,  Bradstreet is able to create some truly provocative imagery.

So... They really picked Keanu Reeves to play this guy?

Bradstreet’s work has a very distinct and consistent style to it that deals with composition in a way that’s much closer to photography than traditional pen and paper artistry.

That’s not to say Tim Bradstreet isn’t a true artistic talent, he is; it’s just that his work seems to stem from someone with more of an eye for photography than anything else.

I like this. No funny caption this time, sorry.

Unlike some of the more graphic design oriented cover artists in the comic industry, Bradstreet’s covers rarely ever contain any sort of dynamic colors or vector art.

More often than not, Bradstreet’s covers consist of little more than a topical image of the principle characters of the book, and amazingly enough, that’s usually enough to impress.

An example of a cover that totally bypasses any background elements in favor of placing all attention of the central figure.

Despite this, from time to time he puts out “louder” and more design heavy covers:

That's pretty fuckin' slick if I do say so myself.

Perhaps the most common, and striking, element of Tim Bradstreet’s covers is his propensity for obscuring his figures in shadow.

It’s a cliched technique, but in the case of most of the books that Bradstreet works on, namely some of the more pulpy books like The Punisher and Hellblazer, it works all too well.

BAD. ASS.

Anyway, that’s enough cock-sucking for one evening.

I’ve got overtime to look forward to tomorrow, so sorry for the decidedly lax post.

See yah’ tomorrow!

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Favorite Cover Artists: Francesco Mattina

Mattina does Batman.

While I can’t say I know a whole lot about Francesco Mattina other than the fact that he’s Italian, I do know this:

He makes some damn spiffy comic book covers.

While it must be said that he isn’t the most flexible of artists, as he’s been utilizing essentially the same style/aesthetic for as long as I’ve known of him, when it comes to what he does, there aren’t many that can challenge him.

Yes, not even the hairy Canadian.

So, I guess you’re probably wondering, what is it that Mr. Mattina does?

Put simply, he does artwork of the “darker” variety.

He does gritty:

DAMN.

He does awesome:

DOUBLE-DAMN!

And more often than not, he does it all while sticking to the dynamic and macho figure renderings and poses that have embodied superhero comics since their inception.

Thank you Google Images for lising Razor Ramon under the search terms "dynamic machismo."

Despite this though, one of the key strengths to his artwork, is his eye for composition.

Much like Marko Djurdjevic, (who will most certainly be making an appearance in this series of posts) Francesco Mattina quite obviously has a background in graphic design, resulting in the vast majority of his covers being eye-catching not just for the gorgeous artwork, but also for the creative and enticing layouts.

Take a look at this for example:

I know, it's Deadpool. Stop sucking his cock, fanboy. He's not THAT cool...

Aside from his compositions, his color work is flat-out amazing.

Most of his work has a sort of metallic looking sheen on it that gives everything a unique and lively look that emphasizes motion and atmosphere.

A little bit TOO Michael Bay Transformers-ish, but still cool nonetheless.

I also appreciate how, much like Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver, Francesco Mattina also favors a slightly more realistic approach to the anatomy of his characters.

Not only that, I also find myself consistently impressed by some of his interpretations of certain character’s costume designs, as his photo-realistic style forces a level of detail that results in many of the costumes being rendered in a more believable, and therefore, practical; fashion.

Azrael, looking absolutely the best he ever has.

On a completely unrelated note, I couldn’t help but notice that his interpretation of Nova’s armor is alarming close to Richard Gyuo’s from Guyver:

Nova...

Gyuo...

Anyway, I first ran across Francesco Mattina when I was first considering getting into the Thunderbolts comic.

Truth be told, Mattina and Marko Djurdjevic’s work on that series was probably the biggest deciding factor in me picking up that book.

I’m oh so happy I did.

Anyway, I’m running out of steam, so I’ll just finish with this awesome, and brand spankin’ new Moon Knight cover:

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Wolverine – Weapon X: Adamantium Men Review

By now, it should be fairly obvious to most that I’m not much of an X-Men fan.

Like any self-respecting 20-something year old, I loved the ‘ole X-Dudes in the early 90’s, but soon after that, things just got too fucking complicated.

As mentioned previously, I genuinely enjoyed reading the X-Family’s fateful confrontation with Magneto in 1993’s Fatal Attractions story arc, but as soon as the writer’s decided to follow it up with the horrendous bucket of moose cum known as Onslaught, I dropped the X-Men like a ugly-ass fat kid on “Drop a Child On It’s Head Day.”

Well, looky here...

In the years since then, I’ve kept my eye on the X-Men, and I’ve yet to find a reason to hop back into the fray.

I’ve been told Grant Morrison’s run on the series was pretty good.

Oh Xorn/Magneto, how you made me laugh with the dumbfuckery of your storyline...

Too bad I don’t care much for Grant Morrison’s writing.

I’ve also been told that Joss Whedon’s fairly self-contained series, The Astonishing X-Men, was also pretty good.

Next on Extra!: Steel Man and Ghost Girl sex tape scandal!

Too bad I truly stopped giving a fuck long before that series came about.

After I shot myself in the foot by foolishly purchasing the festering ass-polyp known as Messiah Complex, I came to the decision that, until a truly great, must-read story arc comes along for the X-Men, or any of their related books (X-Force, X-Factor, etc.) I’m pretty much done with the ‘muties outside of stories written in the early 90’s or earlier.

Congratulations Messiah Complex! You're not only the worst comic I own, (I seriously want to burn it) you were also single-handedly responsible for turning me against the X-Men!

The X-Men: overpopulated with whiny-ass, juvenile characters, and cursed with a nigh impenetrable continuity…

Despite my general contempt for the X-Men, there’s one character in particular among their ranks that has always struck my fancy.

That character would be the nigh indestructible canuckle-head, Wolverine.

C'mon, you knew this was coming...

I admit it, I’m a Wolverine whore.

Wolverine is one of those characters that appeals to pretty much everyone with a penis.

I have no idea what the fuck I'm looking at...

He’s tough, he’s tenacious, he’s the best at what he does, but more importantly, he carries with him the finest and most desirable traits of the spirit of “the loner.”

Honestly, pick any example of a cowboy/Western hero archetype, and your bound to find an homage to it in most any Wolverine comic.

Clint = Wolverine. When he's written well...

The point is, in a team like the X-Men, Wolverine usually serves as a highlight to the experience, but at the same time, he often comes across as being somewhat subdued.

He’s a raging berserker with fucking savage-ass claws!  How can you expect him to live up to his bad-ass potential in a colorful book for tweens!?

The New Mutants: The Stupidest Fucking Shit EVER.

On his own however, Wolverine is a wonderful character to both read and watch.

Provided the writer and artist are up to standard.

Which brings us to writer Jason Aaron, and penciller Ron Garney’s Weapon X – Adamantium Men story arc.

Simply put, this particular writer/artist duo get Wolverine.

While I genuinely enjoyed Mark Millar’s Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan stories, I’ve always found Millar’s writing to be a little bit too hammy and over-the-top, and these 2 arcs were no different.

I’m not going to lie, much of it felt almost like fan-fiction at times.  Really fucking entertaining fan-fiction, but but fan-fiction nonetheless.

Why is he fighting ninjas again? Oh yeah, 'cause you haole kids fuckin' love ninjas...

What can I say, John Romita Jr. and Steve McNiven’s art can do a lot to get me to buy decently written comics.

Steve McNiven = Automatic Buy.

In a similar vein, though I don’t read Marvel’s Ultimates line, I pick up Damon Lindelof’s Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk trade awhile back, and I found it be a so tongue-in-cheek it almost hurt.

Pictured: THE reason myself and many others bought Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk.

While undeniably entertaining, Lindelof’s story arc was impossible to take as anything more than a joke.

Jason Aaron’s Wolverine is just as enjoyable, if not moreso, than either of the authors mentioned above, but the main difference lies in the quality of the writing.

In short, it’s much better.

The first arc of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine that I ever read, was the brief, but wonderfully straightforward chase storyline, Get Mystique.

Seriously, this was fuckin' awesome.

I was so impressed by Aaron’s writing, and Ron Garney’s brutal and just detailed enough art, that when I heard that the 2 had been installed as the lead writer and artist for the fairly new Weapon X book, I had to check it out.

I was not disappointed.

NOT DISAPPOINTED.

Like Get Mystique before it, Adamantium Men is a storyline told in a gritty, Western-inspired, narration heavy, almost Garth Ennis Punisher-esque style.

I know I've used this before, but goddamnit, it sums up the Punisher so fuckin' well...

Aaron’s Wolverine is a character that says little, but whose thoughts truly read like a man that’s literally been in the shit for a hundred years.

While this gritty style and tone might be a bit overbearing to some, I’ve been reading Punisher-speak most of my life, and as such, I just happen to like it.

Anyway, the basic plot of Adamantium Men surrounds a PMC (Private Military Contractor) that has somehow acquired the old research files of the original Weapon X program.

The very same Weapon X program that birthed Wolverine among many other notable Marvel universe heroes and villains.

YES, that includes Deadpool, yah' fuckin bunch ah' hipster doofuses... DEADPOOL IS NOT THE COOLEST CHARACTER EVER. Get over it!

Wolverine is informed by his former Weapon X buddy, Maverick/Agent Zero, of said situation, which of course results in our hero getting pissed off and deciding to put a stop to the PMC’s plans.

Unfortunately, he discovers quite early on, that the PMC was able to crank out about a dozen or so soldiers with physical capabilities on par with his own, right down to the adamantium skeleton and healing factor.

Pictured: Wolverine turning an anti-healing factor "cancer gun" on it's user.

That last sentence right there, was exactly what baited me into loving this book.

Hell, once I got to this page, I wanted to slap myself for having waited as long as I had to pick up this book:

FUCK YEAH!

Watching Wolverine tangle with a whole squad of guys that do what he does, just as well as he does, was truly inspiring.

While the storyline is fairly standard “man on a mission” fare in that you generally know how things are going to end before you even open the book, the real beauty of this storyline is Ron Garney’s artwork during the action sequences (of which there are many), and Jason Aaron’s interpretation of Wolverine’s thought process.

Pictured: An early fight scene.

My only 2 complaints are:

The story ends well enough, but had it’s biggest climax just a little bit too early (the fight shown in the splash page above).

The Adamantium Men of the title aren’t exactly all that well defined.

Sure we’re told that they’re basically Wolverine clones with laser claws, but we never get any details as to why or how they have laser claws and green eyes.

In short, of all the Wolverine’s I’ve read and seen, I think these guys managed to put together the one that feels most right.

Anyway, this ended up turning into more of an advertisement than an actual review, but whatever.

I really liked Adamantium Men, kind of sad that Ron Garney didn’t continue for the second arc, Insane in the Brain, but you can sure as hell bet that book’s next on my reading list.

Also, in doing Wikipedia searches for this article, I learned that Jason Aaron was the author of the most recent Punisher MAX storyline, which means I’ll be back in Punisher Land a lot sooner than I thought!

Take care everyone, happy reading!

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Let’s Look at Comics: Dark Reign – The List: Punisher #1

Hey everybody!  Once again, it’s time to look at comics!  Today we’re going to be looking at the Marvel one-shot, Dark Reign – The ListPunisher #1.


A word to the uninitiated, Dark Reign is not a character or book series in the Marvel universe, but rather a company wide story arc.

Specifically, Dark Reign is the period of time in which Norman Osborn AKA the Green Goblin and former dead guy, has control of U.S. national security, an era that is just now coming to an end with the coming Heroic Age.

How did this happen?  Well, the Skrulls (shapeshifting alien douchebags with wrinkly chins) showed up a few years back, and during an event called Secret Invasion, raped our nation’s defense network.

IT'S A FUCKING DONKEY! I MEAN, SKRULL!!!!!

Said defense systems just happened to be manufactured and regulated by Tony Stark AKA Iron Man, who also happens to be the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following his victory during Civil War, which took place just prior to the Invasion.

Long story short, Norman Osborn lands the killing blow against the Skrull Queen, and is somehow promoted to hero status in the public eye, which he then parlays into usurping Tony Stark’s control of S.H.I.E.L.D.

*Whew!* Now that we’ve gotten all that nonsense out of the way, we can finally get to opening the damn book!

...but not before we get past the Nissan ad.

Right off the bat, our first page is… explanation detailing what happened earlier in the Punisher comics during Dark Reign.

Okay, fine your majesty, I shall summarize:

The Punisher wasn’t too happy about a total nutjob like Norman Osborn taking control of S.H.I.E.L.D., (now changed to the more AMERICAN sounding, H.A.M.M.E.R.) so he did what any concerned citizen would do, and tried to put a couple of bullets in Osborn’s head.

I think it goes without saying that the Punisher missed, no thanks to that golden-haired son-of-a-fuck, The Sentry.

Sentry = This, with a golden costume and oh yeah, RETARDED.

Naturally, Osborn wasn’t too happy about the whole attempted murder thing, and thusly decided to use our tax dollars to send a fleet of space ships and a few hundred soldiers after old man Frank.

I like how this story is a one-shot, usually requiring no prior knowledge of previous storylines to be enjoyed.

One-shot my ass…

Anyway, our story opens with a quote from James Thurber:

Pretty deep for a comic that opens with a Nissan ad.

In case you’re wondering, James Thurber was cartoonist and writer for the New Yorker back in the 20’s.

You can thank Wikipedia for that last bit.

We are then treated to a page of some kid leaving a message on the Punisher’s voicemail while zipping off walls and over peoples’ heads on his hoverboard.

Fortunately he knows better than to take it over water.  Everyone knows you can’t do that; unless you’ve got power.

So sayeth Jason Scott Lee...

Anyway, this kid, named Henry by the way, is apparently trying to get a hold of Frank because he’s been “trolling”  H.A.M.M.E.R.’s networks, and apparently he caught word that Osborn is just about to launch his big push against the Punisher.

I don’t see how posting photos of penises on H.A.M.M.E.R.’s forums would be at all helpful to the Punisher, but oh well, I’m not about to pretend that I give two shits about Henry and what he does with his intersnatch.

Meanwhile, Osborn is floating above New York in his pimp-ass helicarrier, when one of his goons walks over to him to ask for permission to implement operation “Nuke-the-shit-out-of-the Punisher.”

"Sir, may I lick your cock?" "No, you can SUCK my cock."

Our next page opens with the Punisher hanging out in his “Punisher Van,” heating up some cocoa and ignoring Henry’s phone calls like a dude.

This page also serves as our introduction to “Punisher Speak.”

Punisher Speak consists solely of a combination of sentence fragments, gallows humor, and man-isms.

If the text box isn’t black, or the text doesn’t have an ellipses in it, it’s not Punisher Speak.

Interior decorator, he is not.

Despite missing Henry’s call, the “Punisher Van’s” perimeter alarm goes off, tipping our hero off to Osborn’s approach.

Subtle man that he is, Osborn begins his assault by doing this:

The land of the free, and the home of the THWAADOOOOOOMMM!!!!

Despite the fireworks, H.A.M.M.E.R. determines that the Punisher managed to avoid the blast.

Osborns’s first reaction is to sick a shadowy figure named Daken, after the Punisher.

Oh yeah, then he sends EVERY FUCKING MAN HE’S GOT.

... and yet I'm not worried. Maybe it has something to do with their goofy get-ups.

With Osborn’s goons on the way, the Punisher reveals to us just how he managed to survive the explosion that his pimpin’ van could not.

In between a full page ad for Halo: ODST, of course.

...Okay, so his face grew into his crotch, what else is new?

Pym Particles are, in the Marvel universe, a special form of radiation created by Dr. Henry Pym AKA Ant Man/Giant Man/Yellow Jacket/Goliath/The Wasp/Scientist Supreme, that allow one to manipulate the size of objects and living things.

Evidently, the Punisher used them here to shrink himself to an atomic size so as avoid the THWAADOOOOOOMMM!!!!

*Ahem!* SCIENCE.

With this, the Punisher takes off down an alleyway, whereupon he happens upon Henry, still crusin’ around on his hoverboard.

The Punisher greets him as only he can do.

A conversationalist, he is not.

With Henry safely tucked away in a dumpster, the Punisher finds himself set upon by Osborn’s glider troops.

In response, the Punisher, principled man that he is, elects to handle them using non-lethal measures involving, I shit you not:  a bullwhip.

What kind of Indiana Jones bullshit is that!?

He’s got Pym Particles and a fucking “Punisher Van” and he resorts to using a fucking whip?

C’mon now Frank, you can do better than that…

You see, there are two kinds of Punishers in the Marvel universe, the “suit” Punisher, and the “Max” Punisher, from the main Marvel continuity and the Max universe respectively.

The “suit” Punisher is the one with the skin-tight body suit that used all sorts of hokie sci-fi guns designed to make his arsenal seem more “friendly” and more accessible to the kiddies.

The “Max” Punisher walks around in a trench coat and a wife-beater and gets the job done by gutting people and feeding them to animals n’shit.

Just remember, “Max” Punisher’s been to ‘Nam, “suit” Punisher shops at The Sharper Image.

In either case, both drive a fucking awesome van.

Personally, I prefer Max Punisher, but that's just me.

‘Ole Frank manages to evade the glider troops pretty well, walking away with only a single laser wound to his leg, oddly enough, just as he’s reaching for some sort of “Punisher Shield” thingy.

Just a scratch really, no big deal.

Eventually he manages to escape to the sewers, where he proceeds to internally monologue to himself about things… mainly the hole in his leg and how the shit seeping into the wound builds character.

Gallows humor, check. Black text boxes, check. Where's the damn ellipses?

Remember that shadowy guy I mentioned earlier?  Daken?

Well, he decides to use this opportunity to make his big entrance.

Well now, that's just plain impolite, not even saying "hello."

Now you’re probably asking yourself: “Isn’t that Wolverine?”

Well, you’d be close, but you’d also be wrong, dumbass.

Look at the guy’s claws, he’s got two where the ‘Ole Canuckle Head has three.

I know, I'm retarded.

Okay, fine.  Daken does in fact have three claws, the third is housed on the inside of his wrist.

Dork-isms aside, Daken is actually Wolverine’s son from a previous relationship involving a Japanese woman named Itsu.

Long story short, Itsu got killed, Daken had a shitty childhood, and now he hates Wolverine… ’cause I guess he has nothing better to do.

Daken has all of Wolverine’s powers, except his claws are lined with the metal of a cursed sword (don’t ask) called the Muramasa, and he can manipulate his pheromones to the point of granting him limited control over others.

Basically he’s Wolverine, but EEEVVIIIIIILLLLLLL…

Cut to bad-ass fight scene.

"Frank Castle was sadly SHWUNKK'ed today. His last words were "RHGGAA!"

As evil and as vicious as Daken can be however, remember, this is ‘Ole Frank he’s tangling with here.

Surely he’s gonna’ have some sort of crazy bazooka or wicked-ass gadget he can whip out to save the day…

"YEERGGAAHGHH!! I said "No" Frank, not on the first date!"

…but I guess biting works too.

…and shooting.

…yup, shooting still works.

Despite all that GLAZZAT-ing, Daken’s broken-ass healing factor keeps him good and healthy.

In fact the only real damage he seems to have incurred is a side-ache with a little bit of a cough.

Okay, so the whole "swimming in dookie" thing didn't bother you, but the GLAZZAT-ing did? What kind of bullshit is that?

Taking Daken’s fat-kid side-ache as a window of opportunity, Frank hops out of the sewer and up to the surface.

But not without leaving Daken a parting gift, of course.

Uh oh Daken, I think your Tamagotchi's having suicidal thoughts...

Trust me when I tell you, there is an explosion on the next panel.

We then cut back to Frank as he stares down about a hundred or so of Osborn’s glider troops.

Frank’s mind immediately jumps to poop jokes.

A comedian, he is not.

Before the glider troops can have their way with Frank however, Daken suddenly appears behind him.

Daken talks some shit, but before he can get too out of hand, Punisher shuts him up and is all like, “Come’n git’ it son.”

What follows is probably the most violent fight I have ever read in the standard Marvel continuity.

But first…

BUTT.

Yup, they interrupted the most bad-ass fight ever, with butt.

ANYWAY, where were we?

Oh yeah:

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDD

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Unfortunately, that last hit to the throat seems to slow Frank down a little bit, (that other shit though, that wasn’t nothin’) and Daken starts his shit talkin’ again.

Although unlike some shit talkers, Daken seems to be able to back up his bravado pretty well.

Case in point:

"Don't worry kids, I'm sure Uncle Frank has a way outta' this..."

"...Yup kids, all part of the plan..."

"...All part of the, aw hell, he's fuckin'dead kids."

No wait, just one more:

Just breaks your heart, doesn't it?

It’s funny, I don’t even think the Punisher and Daken had met up to this point in the comics.

You see boys and girls, this is what happens when a “new” writer (Rick Remender) takes charge of a character (The Punisher), while at the same time receiving orders from the higher-ups in the company to “push” a brand new character (Daken).

At least, that’s how they do things in pro-wrestling anyway.

Remember that one time when the WWF tried to “push” Kevin Nash AKA Diesel into replacing Shawn Michaels as the top dog in the industry?

Yeah, that didn’t go so hot.

Kevin Nash, you were fun to play as in WCW vs. NWO, but other than that, you can suck a dick.

I’ve never been a reader of “suit” Punisher stories.

I always found the idea of a PG-13 Punisher a little bit strange given the fact that he generally shoots people to shit every chance he gets.

“Max” Punisher however, is something I read religiously until Garth Ennis left the series.

I bought this comic because, well, IGN gave it a high rating.  That, and I genuinely cared to see how they went about killing off the Punisher, even if it was just the “suit” Punisher.

I can’t say I was impressed by the storytelling in this comic, but I will say this, John Romita Jr. knows how to draw violence.

I’ve always felt that Romita Jr.’s finest moments came almost 20 years ago, (his blocky characters seem a little raggedy nowadays, too much so) but the sheer violence and spectacle of this, a one-shot with a relatively small budget and production timetable, is pretty damn impressive by anyone’s standards.

Anyway, it’s been fun, hopefully it was as good for you as it was for me.

With that, I leave you with this preview image for the first cover to Rick Remender’s follow-up story for the Punisher:  FrankenCastle.

Guess it’s true:

In comics, “No one stays dead except Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben.

Oh wait, out of those three, only Uncle Ben has actually stayed dead.

Oh well, comics are convoluted bullshit, but I love ’em anyway.

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