Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On Zack Snyder’s Superman

I’ve always felt that Superman was one of the more difficult superheroes to make good stories for.

I like the old-timey nature of the character, and I appreciate the values he represents, but for the most part; Kal-El of Krypton is just too damn powerful for his own good.

Seriously man, you could probably count all of Superman’s known weaknesses/vulnerabilities on 1 hand,

Taking that into account, it’s hard to deny the difficulty writers face when trying to create drama for the man of steel.

Inevitably, most Superman stories end up being centered around a villain scheming to do destroy the Earth/Metropolis/Jimmy the Cub Reporter; thereby testing the heroes’ mettle in an indirect fashion.

Oh Silver Age comics, how I love thee.

While said storytelling device is indeed effective for the most part, honestly; it gets kind of old after awhile.

Watching Superman race to save Lois, or pick up a mountain to save a busload of school kids is fun, but prefer my superheroes’ biggest threats to be of the more direct sort.

In short, I prefer it when my heroes are in just as much peril as the people they are trying to save.

I suppose it should be no surprise that, of all the Superman trades I own; The Death of Superman is easily my favorite.

FUCK YES.

Which brings me to Zack Snyder’s upcoming film, The Man of Steel.

Very little has been publicized in regards to the film’s plot or cast, other than the fact that it’s a *gasp* REBOOT, but given that Snyder is the director; I think we all know what to expect.

Over-the-top imagery and color correction, an overbearing soundtrack, absurd levels of graphic violence, and more than a handful of gratuitous slow-motion fight sequences.

Bingo.

While all of the above do in fact add up to a pretty extravagant audio/visual experience, the sad fact of the matter is that Zach Snyder’s shtick just doesn’t do it for me.

The man definitely has an eye for angles and gorgeous visuals, but of the films of his that I’ve seen, I felt the pacing was meandering at best, and there was a distinct lack of “heart” to the presentation of the story.

That being said, while I have an idea of what to expect from a Zack Snyder Superman, in truth it’s very hard for me to comprehend why he was selected to do it.

Superman fuckin’ is heart.

That's right Mati, show 'em what heart's all about!

Richard Donner’s first 2 Superman films with Christopher Reeve did an incredible job in capturing this aspect of the character, that to this day many people, myself included; still think of Reeve as the finest representation of Superman in any medium.

That's a pretty goofy smirk, but even so; he's still Superman in my book.

In that sense, the new Superman, Henry Cavill; as well as Snyder himself have their work cut out for them.

Hmm, I seem to have gone off on a tangent.

The reason I started this post tonight came as a result of reading that Michael Shannon will be playing General Zod in The Man of Steel.

While I have no doubt that Shannon will do well in the role, as I was very impressed with his performance in Revolutionary Road; it bothers me to know that General Zod is being re-used for the film.

It’s as if the producers/writers are afraid to stray away from the success of Richard Donner’s films.

Superman has a pretty solid gallery of rogues to pick from, and truth be told; aside from Terrence Stamp’s brilliant portrayal of the character in Superman II, General Zod has never really been one of my favorites.

*Sigh* I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that.

Knowing Zack Snyder, and his penchant for going over-the-top with things; I’m guessing there’s going to be several villains in the film, if not an entire army or some shit.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t picture a Zack Snyder film without a SLOW-MOTION 100-on-1 fight sequence.

In that sense, I’d bet that the movie will reference the recent Last Son and New Krypton storylines; thereby giving Mr. Snyder an excuse to have hundreds of Kryptonians flying around chucking cars at each other.

Pictured: Promotional art for Zack Snyder's Superman.

While that could be fun I guess, honestly I’d at least prefer to see a different villain take center stage.

How about fuckin’ Brainiac?

He’s pretty much at the top tier of Superman’s list of baddies and his back story has been ret-conned to have ties to Kal-El’s origins, what more could you want!?

 

Holy shit, he looks like fuckin' Kojak...

Better yet, since Christopher Nolan’s been kind enough to put Bane in his upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, why not throw everyone a bone and put Doomsday in the new Superman movie?

Sure, he’s not interesting enough to carry a whole movie, but goddamnit; Superman’s at his best when he’s punching things, and Doomsday’s one of the only baddies he’s got that he can really slug it out with.

While I’m the topic of punching things, why not give us some Metallo action!?

 

Who the fuck wouldn't want THIS in their movie!?

Oh yeah, ’cause Metallo’s boring and nobody likes him…

But c’mon man, he looked like James Coburn in the cartoon, surely that has to count for something:

 

"You know what time it is? Time me for to kick your ass..."

I apologize, I’m rambling.

My point is:

Superman Returns made the mistake of playing it way too safe, and in the process brought nothing new to the table; least of all villains or characters.

While Zack Snyder’s excessive style can be obnoxious at times, he has an opportunity to really try something different with his take on Superman; and I’d hate to see that hindered by a story that recycles villains used in films made almost 40 years ago.

That being said, here’s hoping that for fuckin’ once we get to see a Superman movie with some different villains; hopefully not including Nuclear Man.

Wow, you mean there actually exists a photo of Nuclear Man where he isn't screaming or shooting lightning bolts!?

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I Just Bought My First Rare Comic

Pictured: Hopefully this won't be me in the near future...

I don’t consider myself a “collector” of comic books.

None of the comics I own are of any value, nor do I operate from the belief that any of them will accrue any value at any future date.

Comic’s worth are typically derived from their rarity, their condition, and ultimately how limited their production run was, all factors that the current age of mass produced collected editions has done well to eliminate.

Regarding my own comic buying habits, I’m a trade-only buyer of comics; meaning I don’t purchase loose comics off the newstands.

That right there is often viewed as borderline blasphemous behavior on the part of anyone that could consider themselves a comic collector.

Thank you Collected Editions for standing up for us trade-only guys…  Oh yeah, and for publishing my guest review awhile back.

When you factor in my trade-only habits with the fact that I buy comics solely for the purpose of reading and enjoying them, you have the makings of a man that is more of a casual comic enthusiast/reader than anything else.

That being said, today I received a package in the mail that represents my first purchase of what some would consider a fairly rare or valuable comic.

The comic in question, is the trade paperback collection of the 1996 Batman crossover, Batman: Legacy.

Mmmm, rare....

The story itself is not regarded as being within the top 25 of Batman’s best, however in my case; it was the premise moreso than the quality of the writing or art that drew me to Legacy.

Supposedly acting as a follow-up to the 1993 Knightfall storyarc, an epic and sprawling story that served as one of the most important of my youth.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the early 90’s were a tumultuous and ugly period in comic history; one punctuated by the creation of outlandish and violent characters, as well as the implementation of more than a few shocking publicity stunts on the part of Marvel and DC in an attempt to sustain their dwindling sales numbers.

Needless to say, “shock” was the order of the day for 90’s comic books.

I grew up watching Doomsday kill Superman.

EPIC.

I grew up watching Bane break Batman’s back.

EVEN MORE EPIC.

I grew up watching Carnage cut a swath through the Marvel universe with reckless abandon.

Fun, but nowhere near epic...

These sort of “MTV Generation” characters, and their respective homicidal antics; served as my introduction into the world of comics, and as such; I bear a great deal of nostalgia for them.

As much as comic fans tend to deride some of these characters, I for one will never get tired of them.

Except maybe Carnage, he’s kinda’ overstayed his welcome…

*Sigh* Sadly, no one stays dead in comic books...

That being said, the major factor that drew me to Batman: Legacy, despite it’s fairly substantial (for me anyway) price tag; was the fact that it features the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane.

The 2 have encountered one another several times since Bane’s first appearance in Knightfall, though Legacy represents the only time they actually battle one another.

Ever since I heard of Batman: Legacy several years ago, I told myself:

“That’s something I have to see.”

Like I said, the story of Legacy isn’t supposed to be anything to write home about, but the prospect of a rematch between one of my favorite DC villains and my favorite DC hero was something I just couldn’t shy away from seeing.

Not from Legacy, but a fun image nonetheless.

In the comics, it was always speculated that Batman was physically on par with Bane, with the notable exception being a disparity in their physical strength levels when Bane was on Venom.

At the time Legacy takes place, Bane has long since renounced the use of Venom, which; combined with the fact that Batman is likely in much better physical condition than he was during Knightfall, (he was severely fatigued when he first fought Bane) adds up to a contest of equals that, in my mind; has all the makings of a terrific read.

Haha, listen to me ramble on about a comic book match up like it’s some sort of real-life boxing match or some shit…

Anyway, I’ve been waiting to buy a copy of Legacy for years now, with the price being the sole prohibitive factor in me doing so up until now.

I’ve seen Legacy listed for anywhere from $80-180.

I’m sorry, but as much as I love comics, I simply can’t justify that sort of expenditure for a book.

Then again, I am known to be Azn, and therefore CHEAP:

Too expensive. I'll wait till it's on sale... And a pretty lady is selling it...

Luckily, I happened upon a listing last week for $45, which while much more expensive than any of the other comics on my shelf, even the heft hardcover ones; was a price I was more than willing to pay for something I’d waited so long to get my hands on.

Hah, I hope this isn’t becoming a trend, otherwise I might just find myself happy and surrounded by comic books.

Oh yeah, and POOR.

Anyway, as of writing this, I have yet to so much as crack this bad boy open.

Hopefully Batman: Legacy proves to be worth all of it’s $45 price tag!

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“The One Where Goose Dies…”

Ever notice how sometimes we think we know something when all we’re really working from is just one fraction of the whole picture?

Though I think it’s kind of funny now, I realize that most of my knowledge of movies as a kid was derived from this kind of thinking.

In my youth, I didn’t actually watch all that many movies.

Yesterday I posted a list of my 5 favorite film villains from my childhood, and I couldn’t help but notice that nearly every movie on that list (except The Blob. FUCK The Blob…) was a movie I watched “almost every day.”

 

EVERY FUCKING DAY.

You see, I watched movies all the time, however the variety of films I would watch was extremely limited.

My parents and my brother however, watched all sorts of stuff, mostly R and PG-13 movies that I would have to leave the room for.

 

That didn't stop me from walking in on this one at Auntie's house though...

Despite my not having actually seen any of these movies in my youth, I would often overhear, or be told factoids about them by my parents or my older brother.

This lead to me developing a habit of becoming content with what little I knew, and often writing off the film as unnecessary viewing because of it.

It’s a strange way of thinking that seems to fall in line with that whole “astronauts and astronomers” speech that Sam Neill gave in Jurassic Park III.

In case you forgot, (don’t be ashamed, Jurassic Park III sucked balls) basically it goes like this:

Whatever man, you know you'd go gay for him.

 

“I believe that in this world there are 2 kinds of boys: ones that want to be astronauts, and ones that want to be astronomers.” ~ Dr. Alan Grant

The analogy is that some people thrive on hands-on experience in their passions, while others tend to explore them at arms reach.

In case you are already lost, what I’m trying to say is that; as a child, I feel I developed some tendencies akin to that of an “astronomer.”

In many ways I feel I am still marching down that path.

Anyway, that’s enough of that sappy introspective bullshit, the real reason I’m typing this article is because I found myself laughing over some of the ways I would pretend to “know” movies as a kid.

In general, the way I would “know” movies as a kid was by discovering one key moment in the drama of the film.

This lead to me knowing Top Gun for years exclusively by it’s soundtrack, (which my mother listened to, WAY too often) and that it was “the one where Goose dies.”

 

"So, I forget, what the fuck am I supposed to do now that I'm inside him?"

I didn’t know who Goose was.

I didn’t even know how or why he died.

Hell, at some point I even recall pondering whether he was even human, what with his name being Goose an’ all.

GOOSE.

Other examples of my “extensive film knowledge” as a kid included Rocky IV, which was “the one where Apollo dies,” either that, or “the one with the big Russian guy.”

Apologies for whatever spoilers I may have divulged just now, but come on man, if you don’t know Rocky IV and Top Gun, you sir, deserve to be hit with a tack hammer.

In the brain.

Not in the face, the brain.

In the case of Rocky IV, I had actually seen the first 2 films in the series, and had somewhat of a connection to the character.

Know what’s hella’ funny though?

You know what my brother told me when I asked how Apollo died?

He told me: “What do you think?  Some guy walked up to him and punched him in the head.”

Samuel Peter doing his best Rocky IV Apollo Creed impression.

While that’s actually completely true, Apollo did get punched to death, I just love how straight and to the point my brother was with me.

Bear in mind, we were both very young at the time.

Now that I think about it, that’s actually the exact same description he gave me as to how Superman died when Doomsday killed him the comics.

And wouldn’t you know it, my brother wasn’t lying.

Pictured: The Punch.

The list of movies I used to “know without knowing” (kind of like “fighting without fighting,” but, y’know, lame) goes on and on.

I know some of them are exceedingly vague, but see if you can recognize any of them:

1.  “The one where the bunny throws up and the hippo shoots everyone.”

2.  “The one where the alien jumps out of the guy’s chest.”

3.  “The one where the alien’s chest opens up and he pulls out a ray gun and kills everyone.”

4.  “The one where Godzilla bleeds (for the first time).”

5.  “The one where the guy gets his head stepped on.”

6.  “The one where Batman says, “Eat floor.””

7.  “The one with the black rock.”

And the trick question for the evening:

8.  “The one with the train that goes too fast.”

I’ll post the answers for those care to read them sometime tomorrow.

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Crossovers and Event Comics, Goddamnit…

I am not an event book reader when it comes to comic books.

In most cases, I find them to be sloppily organized, and sometimes harmful to the storylines of the characters involved.

More often than not, I find that crossovers and event comics typically have valuable ideas and story beats to bring to the table, however in most cases the events that take place between these major moments amount to little more than fluff or padding.

All of this, combined with the fact that I don’t consider myself a fan of “team” books, is what keeps me from reading event books.

I find them to be nothing more than bloated, ponderous, fanboy conceived drivel that are more enjoyable to read in bullet-point summary.

Or in the case of Onslaught, better when avoided entirely.

That being said, what experience do I have personally with event comics?

Well, the first crossover I ever read was X-Men: Fatal Attractions.

Okay, Magneto looks fucking retarded on this cover, but I swear it's a good book.

This was a typical 90’s X-family story, wherein the Acolytes are running around being dicks, Magneto has somehow come back from the dead following Fabian Cortez’s betrayal, and now the whole planet is in danger.

Pictured: The Kevin Costner of the X-Men universe.

The story is told from the viewpoint of nearly all of the major X-family factions including the X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force,  and even the England based Excalibur.

Sorry though, no New Mutants, although I don’t know who in their right mind would miss them.

Good God what a juvenile pile of suck...

The whole thing comes to a climax when a small strike force of X-Men attempt to destroy Magneto, resulting in him using his magnetic powers to tear the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and clear through his skin.

One of my first "Holy fucking shit" moments in comics.

It was perhaps the most dramatic moment in the entire storyline, however it was by no means the only important event to occur throughout.

Colossus’ defection to the Acolytes while mourning the loss of his younger sister Illyana was quite memorable, as was Cable’s hopeless one-on-one struggle against Magneto.

This just seems to be the trend whenever Magneto is forced to take the gloves off...

As a kid, I really liked Fatal Attractions.

The X-Men cartoon and Capcom’s various Marvel arcade games of the time had thrust the X-Men into the forefront of my childhood consciousness, and even if I didn’t “get” all the subtleties of the story, I was just happy to be reading about the X-Men.

Nowadays, as an older, wiser Azn Badger, I bow my head in shame at any thought of the X-Men comics, however I still find myself nostalgically flipping through my collected edition of Fatal Attractions from time to time.

The only other crossovers I own, are the excellent Death and Return of Superman, and the mediocre Batman: War Games.

Oh yeah, and that piece of monkey-crap, X-Men: Messiah Complex.

WORST. COMIC. EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

In general, crossovers always have the potential to be pretty good, but when it comes to combining the writing and art of so many different writers and pencillers, it takes a special kind of chemistry to make it all sync together just right.

Of the 4 crossovers I own, only Fatal Attraction manages to remain fairly consistent in voice and presentation.

Well, except for maybe the guys that drew the Excalibur portion, they sucked something fierce.

Seriously, what the fuck is up with Colossus in this cover?

When everyone comes together just right, and are able to trick you into thinking you’re reading a single cohesive story, written by one person; then you have a crossover that just might be something special.

It doesn’t happen often, but we comic fans are always hopeful.

...Unlike this kid.

Event comics are something that I stayed away from until fairly recently.

My one big gripe with event comics has always been the over-abundance of spin-offs and tie-ins that invariably coincide with their release.

An example of a GOOD spin-off, which was in turn "spun off" from a spin-off.

You know those little captions that pop up in the corner of some panels saying cryptic little nothings like:
“For more info, read Avengers West Coast #47!”

That’s the kind of bullshit that kept me away from event books for most of my life.

My first event book, was a classic of the industry, namely Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet.

A truly great fucking cover.

It was tightly paced, only had 2 illustrators, who thankfully had similar styles; and perhap most important of all:

It was self-contained.

True, there were a handful of supplemental storylines that tied-into the main storyline, but despite this, the entire collected edition, from start to finish, could be read and understood by just about anyone.

I really liked the Infinity Gauntlet, but from most reviews I’ve read, there aren’t that many company event comics that can measure up to it, outside of maybe the grandaddy of all event comics, Secret Wars.

The original Ocean's 11 of comic books.

I own maybe 3 event comics including the Infinity Gauntlet.

The other 2 are Civil War and World War Hulk.

I bought Civil War because of Steve McNiven’s art more than anything else, and World War Hulk was a necessary purchase after I read the story directly preceding it, the truly magnificent Planet Hulk.

Now imagine a whole book of THIS.

While World War Hulk was kind of a let down given that I am not really a “modern” John Romita Jr. fan, (I liked his 90’s style better than his Moai Statue looking people nowadays) and the conclusion of the story reeked of deus ex machina, Civil War was a pleasant surprise.

If anything swayed me a little bit on the possibility of good “modern” event comics, Civil War was it.

While the story is a little bit claustrophobic at times, and the conclusion seems to come rather suddenly, the collected edition of Civil War was largely coherent, and more importantly, enjoyable to read.

Did I mention Steve McNiven was a good artist?

While Mark Millar is hardly on my “good list,” his writing for Civil War was remarkably restrained, and fit the voices of the characters quite well for the most part.

Like I mentioned earlier though, it helps when you have Steven McNiven, one of the best artists in the medium; doing the interiors.

ONCE AGAIN, I'd just like to say that Steven McNiven is a pretty decent artist.

Civil War had a shit-ton of tie-ins, some of which I’ve been told were essential to the experience, particularly the Amazing Spider-Man issues, however I read none of them and still enjoyed myself.

The reason I chose today to gripe about event comics and crossovers, was because of a dilemma I encountered at Olympic Cards and Comics yesterday.

And this would be Azn Badger doing his civic duty by plugging a local business.

I was in the market for a trade paperback, (I don’t buy weekly’s and monthlies anymore) and I had found myself stupefied by a simple, 3-way decision.

I was holding Thunderbolts vol. 3, Moon Knight vol. 3, and Wolverine: Weapon X vol. 1, and even though I wanted the Thunderbolts, I ended up walking away with Moon Knight.

Why did I do this?

Because Thunderbolts vol. 3 just happened to be a tie-in to the 2008 event comic, Secret Invasion.

WORST COMIC EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR MK. 2

In terms of event comics, Secret Invasion is widely regarded as the definition of “let-down.”

It was hyped for no less than 5 years, and while the changes to the Marvel universe that it brought to the table were indeed significant, the actual panel-to-panel experience amounted to nothing more than “meh.”

On top of that, if you go to your local comic shop, and you look for Secret Invasion of the trade shelf, do you know what you see?

A WHOLE FUCKING ROW OF PAPER THIN PURPLE BOOK SPINES.

Marvel really shat on it’s readers with it’s release of Secret Invasion and it’s ungodly number of tie-in books.

Seriously, by my count there are 26 books under the Secret Invasion label, with 4 of them being of the core storyline, and about 5-6 of them being essential to the experience according to most recommendations.

At $30 for the core book, and like $15 a pop for any of the tie-ins, that’s not asking a lot, that’s just straight punk-garbage-faggotry, man.

...Sure, why not?

Secret Invasion pisses me off because I don’t want to read it on account of it’s shittiness, and yet I feel a strong desire to give in and read it on account of it having stake in just about every storyline since it’s publication.

Either way, I still hate reading really good trades from characters I like and seeing those little fucking yellow captions pop up with their “See Secret Invasion #5!” bullshit.

Fortunately, I always have this as an excuse for not buying over-priced bullshit.

2 years have past, I know what happens during Secret Invasion, and yet I don’t.

Though I loved Thunderbolts 1-2, the interference of Secret Invasion, a bloated book I honestly don’t want to read, is what kept me from pursuing the rest of the series for the time being.

Well, that and the fact that Warren Ellis bowed out of the series as writer after volume 2.

Warren Ellis: Creator of such wonders as the "Bowel Disruptor Gun."

The whole point of this rant is that, I love comic books, but I’m pretty sure I’m always going to be one of those guys that just reads his comics.

I took a gamble with Civil War, and it worked out, but I also took a gamble with Messiah Complex, and now I feel like hitting someone every time I think about it.

Unfortunately, no one was around at the time of writing this...

Event comics are hard for me, because I tend to read comics from the DC/Marvel universes, but I generally stick to the characters that typically aren’t involved in the big events.

Moon Knight was featured in about 1 page of The Infinity Gauntlet.

I guess you could say The Punisher lent a hand in Civil War, and by that I mean he killed a pair of D-list supervillains that nobody cared about.

Just for fun, here's the two of them hangin' out together.

Batman is the FUCKING MAN, but if you thought Marvel’s event comic continuity was impenetrable, then apparently you haven’t looked at DC’s “Crisis” storylines and their multiverse bullshit.

That's nice an' all, but could someone tell me what the heck is going on?

I like my comics, but every now and again, I feel compelled to take a gamble and try and read one of their comics.

When I think about it though, near as I can tell I’m about 1:1 with my “good” and “bad” event book purchases, so I guess the odds of me being pleasantly surprised are actually pretty good.

Here’s hoping to future gambles and pleasant surprises then, I guess.

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