Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Worst Comics I Own: Nemesis


Why I Bought It:

The irresistible writer/penciler duo of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

Mark Millar is far from my favorite writer, but he was on one helluva’ hot streak around the time Nemesis started printing, making it a must-buy book for me despite middling to fair reviews.

Why would I feel this way about a book written by a writer I’d describe as “far from my favorite?”

Well, shut up for a second and I’ll tell you.

The rule of thumb when it comes to Millar’s work, at least for me; is that many of his stories are only as good as his artists.

In this sense, when I heard Steve McNiven, one of my favorite artists in the industry, was going to be re-teaming with Millar for Nemesis, not just as the penciler, but as co-creator; I couldn’t help but be excited.

McNiven is a terrific artist, but he isn’t exactly the most prolific, making any work he does all the more special.

When the pairing of these 2 men results in the brilliance of Civil War, and Old Man Logan, one can’t help but have high hopes for their creator owned project involving a white clad “Evil Batman.”

Sadly, the resulting product was far from equal to the sum of it’s parts…

Why It Sucks:

To clarify, Nemesis is actually pretty far from “suck-y.”

In fact, it’s actually quite good at times, however only at the rate of about once or twice per issue.

Mark Millar’s strength’s as a writer stem from his tendency to test the creative limits of his artists in rendering Michael Bay-like set piece sequences and fanboy moments.

In case you forgot, he put VENOM on a T-REX.

His writing resonates most with an audience that isn’t afraid to tap their inner teenage self, and as such, his stuff can be a lot of fun if you’re willing to turn your brain off, laugh at poop jokes, and admire the pretty pictures for a few hundred pages.

That being said, Nemesis actually delivers in virtually every area you’d expect it to, however it does so clumsily and with less energy than one would hope.

The story makes itself out to be much more complicated than it actually is, and the characters are mostly bland, or in the case of the title character; impetuous and largely unlikable.

What’s more, backstory and history is largely ignored throughout, leaving most the characters feeling one-dimensional, and much of the plot feeling very much like like the writer is flipping you the bird and saying “Don’t worry, it’ll be explained in the inevitable sequel.”

Given that it’s a creator owned comic, consisting of entirely unique and unknown characters, I was totally prepared for generic characterization and poor plotting.

Like I said, Millar’s not my favorite writer, and as such, I was wholly expecting to have some problems with Nemesis on that end of things.

What really bugged me about Nemesis, was the fact that the art didn’t live up to my expectations.

Let’s get one thing straight:

By normal standards, Nemesis is one gorgeous fucking comic.

You could do a lot worse...

The problem is, when you’re dealing with Steve McNiven, normal expectations get tossed out the window.

I don’t know if he was working from a strict time table, or if the inker Dave McCaig fucked things up; but Nemesis just doesn’t seem to have the same love put into it that Civil War and Old Man Logan did.

It’s still great by most standards, but when you compare his pencils for Nemesis to his past works, they just don’t hold up.

Is It Still Worth Reading Anyway?:

Nemesis stands as a predictable progression of Mark Millar’s fascination with the concept of a realm of superheroes being dominated by it’s villains, (I.E. Wanted, Old Man Logan) and while it might not be the best permutation of it, it’s still fun in a brainless popcorn movie sort of way.

Like a big dumb summer blockbuster, many of the action sequences in Nemesis arrive without cause or meaning, robbing them of dramatic weight, however due to Steve McNiven’s stellar (but not exceptional by his standards) artwork; simply bearing witness to them can be thrilling in it’s own right.

While I didn’t care much for the characters or story, particularly the antagonist and title character, I can honestly say the brutal jailbreak fight sequence pitting Nemesis against 97 riot cops stands as one of the finest melees ever drawn in Western comics.

FUCK YES!

For this, and other such instances of over-the-top bloodletting, I’d say Nemesis is worth a read for anyone interested in that sort of thing (I.E. Me).

Just don’t expect to be sitting on the edge of your seat during the panels in between all the big action moments…

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Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Rumor Mill

 

Jim Lee Batman FTW.

I happened upon an article on IGN earlier today that ruminated on some possible plot details of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman three-quel, The Dark Knight Rises.

Said article made mention of Talia al Ghul and the League of Shadows (“Assassins” in the comics) likely having a role in the central plot of the film, which most likely points to Tom Hardy’s previously announced role as Bane taking a hit in screen time and dramatic relevance.

"Bane takes backseat to NO ONE!!!"

My personal objections to this potential snubbing of Bane aside, I honestly feel that Talia could be an interesting element to the overarching story of the Nolan-verse of Batman lore.

With Catwoman already announced for the cast of the film, we now have 2 very potent femme fatales of Batman’s rogues present in 1 film.

Combine that with a Bruce Wayne who’s very likely still shaky around the lady-folk due to his previous love getting, y’know; blown the fuck up in the previous movie, and you have the makings of a very intricate and deceptive love triangle.

Eew! Batman has cooties!

In addition to this, Talia serves as an effective anchor to Batman Begins in the form of her familial relation to the primary villain of that film, Ra’s al Ghul; making for an epic plot thread that, if executed properly; will lend a sense cohesiveness to the whole trilogy.

While nothing is certain, least of all the plot elements mentioned above; the thought of Bane being cast as anything less than a primary villain feels like kind of a letdown.

When Bane was initially announced as a villain for The Dark Knight Rises, I was hoping against hope that he was going to be the villain, that is; the main foil for Batman regardless of whatever notables of his rogues gallery ended up being cast in the film.

Upon reading that Talia was a possible element of the film though, it makes it hard to picture Bane as little more than the muscle, or worse yet; a pawn to the machinations of the League of Shadows.

Despite my personal disappointment in said news, (anything short of a live-action Knightfall will probably fall short in my eyes…) it’s interesting to note that this particular plot rumor actually follows the Batman comics pretty closely.

Not long ago, I was fortunate to acquire a copy of the somewhat rare Batman story arc entitled Legacy.

I PAID!

In Legacy, the Bat-Family (including Catwoman) is charged with preventing Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter Talia, Bane, and the entire League of Shadows from unleashing a catastrophic plague on humankind.

While the story is indeed “comic booky” to the point of being unfeasible for live-action adaptation, the one element of the story that drew to pick it up, was that Legacy was known to contain the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane post-Knightfall.

While I honestly can say, grudgingly; that the rematch was not at all worth the considerable price of admission, it was fascinating to see Bane incorporated into a Ra’s Al Ghul story nonetheless.

In Legacy, Bane’s role was that of a stand-in for Bruce Wayne as Ra’s Al Ghul’s potential heir.

A key storyline that has often been used in interactions between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul has always been that of Ra’s wishing to marry Talia off to Bruce and have him take control of the League of Shadows.

Hell, at one point Batman actually went through with all of the above; only to turn his back on Ra’s and Talia after a moral disagreement.

"Moral Disagreement" of course being code for "Naked Swordfight."

The point is, Bane is and always has been somewhat of a cracked mirror image of Batman, such that their origins and motivations are nearly opposite, but their abilities and steadfast natures are nearly identical.

Going with this line of thinking, the writers cleverly wrote Bane into Legacy as Ra’s new heir, as well as future husband to Talia.

If Christopher Nolan and his crew were to associate Bane with the League of Shadows in a fairly logical (by comic book standards) manner, such as the one listed above; I see no reason why it wouldn’t work out.

My hope remains that Tom Hardy is given free reign to take center stage as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises, but with Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, the yet to be cast role of Talia, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s yet to be announced (or confirmed) role in the film also floating around somewhere in the script; it seems unrealistic to think that anyone will be claiming this film as their own.

Much like every Christopher Nolan film of the post-Batman Begins era, I’d expect The Dark Knight Rises to be very much an ensemble affair, making it unrealistic to expect a singular, commanding performance from anyone in the cast ala Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s Joker(s).

Bane’s a heavy for sure, but his charisma and personality can’t hold a candle to the endless possibilities that a character like The Joker presents to actors.

That being said, I’m a Batman nut, and a Bane fanatic; so The Dark Knight Rises is basically the biggest comic book movie ever for me.

Gonna’ be hard to wait for this one…

 

 

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Let’s Play Contra III: The Alien Wars, Part IV

Well folks it finally happened.

Up until today, I had a perfect game goin’ on Contra III, only to have it all come crashing down at the end of stage 4.

Oh well, I didn’t expect to be able to pull off a perfect run on this game, but even so; it kind of sucks having your humiliation recorded on video for all to see.

I will promise this though:

I will complete this Let’s Play without continuing.

Anyway, enjoy the balls-out, over-the-top awesomeness that is stage 4!:

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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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I Have Too Many Gundams…

Today, I began the arduous task of cleaning up my room.

Well, maybe not the whole room, but the closet anyway.

Over the past several years, it has become evident that I simply have too much stuff.

There is a running joke in my family, about how my dad is a pack rat.

It’s gotten to be such a prevalent aspect of our family dynamic, that at one point, my mom and brother pasted a newspaper comic on our garage that pretty much sums up what’ll happen when my dad stops coming down for breakfast:

Bubble: Someday son, this "All" will be yours...

Thankfully, my brother has used his experience of growing up surrounded by this behavior as a means by which to avoid copying it all costs.

I, however, was neither as fortunate, nor as intelligent to take such preventative measures.

Turns out, I am indeed my father’s son.

In cleaning out my closet, I stumbled across a great deal of crap, as well as a few hidden treasures, many of which were originally my brother’s.

An example of the latter being Battle Damage T-800 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

"I need yo' clothes, yo' boots, and yo' motah' cycle."

I also found a shit ton of Marvel/Spider-Man action figures.

The Spider-Man cartoon on Fox Kids was kind of a big deal to me way back when.

Anybody Remember Eek! The Cat?

That show was THE SHIT.

From left to right: Jack Nicholson Joker from Batman 1989, Battle Damage Sabretooth, and Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad AKA Gridman.

Among the crap, we’re a pile of Crash Bandicoot action figures.

Honestly, I don’t know why I had these, or ever wanted them for that matter.

Yeah, I was so proud of these, that I took 'em to the Goodwill before I could take pictures of them!

I never played the original Crash Bandicoot, but 2 and Warped were awesome, so I guess that could’ve baited me into wanting the toys, but still, what the fuck was I thinking?

My guess is, it was that goddamn Crash Dance:

I was also fortunate to find my GIGANTIC collection of Megaman X3 gashapon, which has surprisingly managed to remain intact after all these years.

Allow me to be serious for a minute.

From age 9 to 11, I was a sick kid.

I had some sort of inner ear/stomach illness that caused a serious imbalance in my equilibrium, basically making me feel like I was on a boat all the time.

I swear, anybody makes an Andy Samberg joke and ‘imma tear their fuckin’ head off, and shit down their stump.

During this time I would throw up several times a day and generally feel like shit.

I did okay in school, but I was absent a lot.

Because of this, I spent a lot of time at Virginia Mason hospital in downtown Seattle, which was consequently, pretty close to the International District.

Every now and again, my mom would treat me to a gashapon as sort of a “get well” gift.

Even after I got over my illness, I went out of my way to spend my own money on those same gashapon for several years.

The Collection

After negotiating my way around boxes of Star Wars cards and high school logbooks, as well as the occasional rubber band gun, I finally managed to clear a space for my massive tower of plastic bullshit:

Behold, Gundam Tower!

Had I any friends to handle the camera for me, I would’ve stood in the photo to give a sense of scale, but just so you know, that’s about chest high on me.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that Gundam Tower has a sequel?

Well, it does.

Low angle money shot, always good for enhancing the package.

That one is what I call Mini Gundam Tower.

The Gundam Towers have horizontal cousins thought, about 3-4 of them I think.

Fuckin' Gundam Seed... Didn't even like the fuckin' show.

Note the massive number of Gundam Wing models... I wonder, did Azn Badger have Cartoon Network in the 90's?

Okay, maybe that’s more like 5-6, but whatever.

Anyway, this has been a truly pointless post, I’m sorry if I wasted any of your time.

I know I wasted mine this time around.

With that, I leave you with this image of Ultraman Towards the Future kickin’ it with a sumotori:

Damn, they should get these guys on HBO. Be a helluva' fight...

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