Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Old Spice Guy Wants To Play Luke Cage? Fine By Me…

Celebrities (or in this case, pseudo-celebrities) going way out of their way to petition themselves for movie roles isn’t a new thing.

If you remember, Sean Young ran into the offices of Warner Bros. dressed in a homemade Catwoman outfit when she caught word the character was going to be featured in Batman Returns.

Another, similar example of this, was of course Thomas Jane’s ploy in auditioning for the role of Jonah Hex by hiring makeup FX technicians to take headshots of him as Jonah Hex.

Haha, he looks like Christopher Lambert... 20 years ago.

Personally, I’m kind of glad he didn’t get the role, as I’ve always kind of liked Thomas Jane ever since I saw him in Deep Blue Sea.

Shut up.  Deep Blue Sea was awesome.  Renny Harlin can suck a dick though…

Moving on, I remember being somewhat shocked by the debut of Kevin McKidd’s “action reel,” a short video meant to distance the actor from his Grey’s Anatomy and Rome pedigree, and toss his hat into the fold as an action star in training:

The reel may not be the best demo of all time, but just the fact that the man, a Hollywood actor; would go out of his way to put it together on his own time, always impressed me.

Not that Kevin McKidd’s really at all on my radar as a major Hollywood actor…

Anyway, as you may have guessed by the title and subject matter of this article, Isaiah Mustafa AKA The Old Spice Guy From Those Random-Ass Commercials; has gone ahead and made a fake trailer, casting himself as Marvel’s perennial “super strong, super black dude,” Luke Cage:

The trailer is short and sweet, and does well to hide it’s very likely sparse production values with clever lighting and minimalist sets.

As with the case of Kevin McKidd’s fight reel, I can’t help but be impressed by the initiative and drive exhibited by Mustafa by going ahead and making this video.

I can’t speak to the man’s acting ability, as outside of his on-screen charisma in the Old Spice commericials; I’ve yet to see him act, but he has the size and the look to pull it off, and given that he went out of his way to make this video, it’s hard to argue that he probably wants the role more than anyone else at this point.

Truth be told, outside of Thunderbolts and Iron Fist team-ups, I’ve never really paid much mind to Cage.

The character has an intriguing story, and close ties to virtually every major player in the Marvel universe, so it’s inevitable that a movie adaptation is going to be made at some point.

Knowing Hollywood, they’ll probably end up giving the role to Tyrese or some shit…

In any case, they’d be crazy not to at least offer the role to Michael Jai White, given that he has the physicality, acting talent, and is rapidly becoming a known element in Hollywood… Again.

Anybody remember Spawn?... Bueller?

Regardless of what happens in the casting of this film, my only hope is that it’ll turn out better than Elektra

Or Catwoman

Or Fantastic Four

Or Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Aw, who am I kidding, we all know who the reigning champ of suck is...

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Shadowland Review

Maximum Carnage.

That oft derided blood soaked comic book story arc of the early 90’s was what ultimately came to mind as I was reading through Marvel’s Shadowland.

Fortunately, I happen to be of the rare breed that, despite it’s flawed storytelling and absurd length; actually kind of liked Maximum Carnage.

Make no mistake though, Shadowland is by no means a well-liked crossover by most comic fan standards.

At least it's not universally hated like Onslaught... Onslaught sucked balls.

Written by Daredevil author Andy Diggle, and pencilled by former X-23 artist Billy Tan; Shadowland takes us into the dark territory it’s title suggest in the form of casting prolific crime-fighter and man without fear, Daredevil; as it’s central villain.

While this controversial storytelling decision has perturbed many a Daredevil fan since it’s publication, thankfully there is indeed a logical, though somewhat hokey explanation as to why Matt Murdock would suddenly turn heel overnight.

 

I don't know about you, but bad chili always puts me in a foul mood...

Leading up to the events of Shadowland, one of the Daredevil’s arch-nemeses, Bullseye; blew up a city block in Hell’s Kitchen, effectively creating a gigantic smoldering symbol of the hero’s personal failings smack dab in the middle of his backyard.

Having recently been offered the position as head of The Hand, a Japanese cult of ninjas and longtime opponent of Daredevil and Elektra; Daredevil ends up accepting the offer, in hopes of wielding the forces of The Hand to better protect the citizens of New York.

This leads to the purchase of the plot of land that was destroyed by Bullseye, and the erection of a huge Japanese fortress in it’s place; a territory that Daredevil dubs “Shadowland.”

Unfortunately, poor Matt Murdock didn’t count on being possessed by The Beast, a demon under the control of a splinter group within The Hand known as Snakeroot.

Said possession causes Daredevil to lose control of himself and his army, resulting in The Beast using him as a vessel to infect the citizens of New York with feelings of hatred and violence.

While many of the heroes of the Marvel universe tolerate Murdock’s actions, grudgingly; it isn’t until he does the unthinkable, and kills Bullseye; that his close friends begin to suspect that the devil of Hell’s Kitchen might be losing his marbles.

Thus sets the stage for a series of pitched battles between Daredevil and those that care most about him.

I assure it doesn't turn out like this, however it would be kinda' cool if it did...

A “mini-event” staged in the wake of Marvel’s most recent event comic proper, Siege; Shadowland represents the rather rare crossover event wherein the core players consist almost exclusively of  “street level” superheroes.

That is to say, despite a suitably epic storyline involving demonic possession and a mass riot across the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan, the majority of the superheroes involved consist of low-powered, or in many cases; unpowered, individuals such as Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, and The Punisher.

Unlike many event comics, that raise the stakes to cosmic levels and beyond, a strong part of the appeal of Shadowland; at least for me anyway, is the fact that the story remains grounded in Daredevil’s niche in the Marvel universe, that of New York city.

While many of the heroes, such as Cage and Iron Fist; are personal friends of Daredevil, ultimately the one thing tying everyone together in the story is that they all share New York as their field of operations.

Early on in Shadowland we’re shown an overhead splash of the city, with several embedded panels serving to show us many of the New York-based Marvel superheroes as they all glare at Daredevil’s newly erected eyesore of a fortress and ponder on what to do of it.

Pictured: The splash in question.

It’s moments like this that serve to unify the cast of Shadowland in a much more satisfying manner than many other event comics.

With the exception of Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, (and a truly random Wolverine) both of whom have close to nothing to do within the context of the 5 core Shadowland issues, the vast majority of the cast feel appropriately cast.

That being said, what of the actual story?

Well, to be perfectly honest, Shadowland is one of those crossovers that seems to demand an unreasonable level of commitment from it’s readers, such that it feels like many important story beats are found only in tie-in issues.

That being said, questions arise every now and again when one is reading Shadowland, usually pertaining to where certain characters went, or how they knew some of the things they did.

 

...Or in the case of Elektra: "How are you still alive?"

In that sense, the storytelling and plot progression of Shadowland can feel fractured and abbreviated, however in my opinion this does not hurt it’s overall enjoyability.

Put it this way:

Shadowland is not a suspenseful story.

From it’s first pages, the “mystery” of Daredevil’s bloodthirsty nature are laid out for us crystal clear.

While the (surprisingly good) ending serves to shake things up a bit, there’s close to zero character development in Shadowland.

From the moment Bullseye gets shanked, we know exactly who our villains are, making for a story that does most what little “telling” it needs to as fists are flying and blood is spilt.

The real meat of Shadowland is in establishing Daredevil as a character poised to take a fall, and then watching as his closest friends band together to set him straight, not through superpowered might, or even magical exorcism; but through heart… and a shit ton of kung fu.

Martial arts have a way of making any story just that much better.

While it sounds corny, Shadowland is essentially the comic book equivalent of an intervention.

Hal Jordan fell prey to Parallax, Jean Grey turned into Dark Phoenix, every now and again one our most beloved superheroes finds themselves under the control of some malevolent force, ultimately resulting in their friends banding together (unsuccessfully) to stop them, only for them to choose redemption through the only means most superheroes seem to know:

Altruisticly Superpowered Suicide, better known as A.S.S.

Sorry, couldn’t resist…

Despite the frequently used storytelling formula listed above, one should note that I never said that’s how Shadowland ends.

I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I’ll let you read the story yourself to find out just what happens.

*Spoiler Alert!* The Death Star blows up at the end!

Anyway, it’s a safe bet to say that Shadowland represents a story that has been recycled in the world of comics more than a few times already, however the new coat of paint it throws into the mix, in the form of it’s cast and setting, make for a fun experience for those who, like myself; are somewhat invested in things from the get go.

In other words, Shadowland is hardly a jumping on point for those who don’t read any of the characters involved in the core storyline, but for those that frequently read tales from the streets of Marvel New York; it’s hard not to have fun with Shadowland.

...I mentioned there was fighting, right?

Coming into Shadowland, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from artist Billy Tan.

Normally, I am keen on looking up the work of artists for comics I’m about purchase, largely because I put a great deal of stock in an artist’s abilities when it comes to gauging my overall enjoyment of a book.

Most reviews I read of Shadowland prior to purchasing it were mostly negative, however nearly all of them made mention of the art being “typically outstanding” in reference to Tan’s body of work.

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I came into Shadowland wanting to be surprised by something, given that most of the story can be spoiled by reading even the most vague of reviews.

Anyway, I was indeed surprised by Billy Tan’s art in Shadowland, but more importantly; I was impressed.

Impressive... Most impressive...

Like many of my favorite comic artists, Tan excels at drawing his characters with somewhat more realistically proportioned bodies.

Many of his figures appear lithe and flexible, which is a very important factor to consider when dealing with a cast of characters consisting largely of martial artists and acrobats.

Speaking of which, while his face work can seem a little off at times, Tan displays a penchant for illustrating figures in motion.

There are moments in Shadowland, particularly in the battle with Bullseye; where the action of the panels felt more like viewing an animation than reading a comic.

For your viewing pleasure, a full page of awesome.

Needless to say, Billy Tan’s artwork and easily deciphered layouts in Shadowland meet my approval, and quite handily at that.

I won’t be reading X-23 anytime soon, out of my general disdain for the character; but nevertheless, I look forward to more Tan projects in the near future.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say about Shadowland.

As mentioned earlier, it seems like Marvel expects us to read a lot of the tie-ins in order to get the whole story, but I myself can’t justify such an investment.

I will however be picking up the Moon Knight tie-in, as it genuinely looked pretty good to me, and besides; Moon Knight’s my boy.

Other than that though, I’m mostly happy with what I got from Shadowland on it’s own.

Hope this was helpful to some of you, thanks for reading!

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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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