Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

It’s funny, when it comes to movies, I’m actually not that hard to impress.

While I consider myself well-versed in the world of film, at the end of the day all it really takes to peak my interest, is:

A): A decent cast.

B): A decent concept.

and C): The promise of people punching one another at some point in the movie.

In some cases that last one, if represented well enough, is the only excuse I need to see a movie, regardless of how dumb or crappy it is.

I rented the shit-fest that was Unknown purely in the hopes of seeing a handful of Liam Neeson related beat downs.

I saw Fast Five solely for the purpose of seeing Vin Diesel and The Rock (not Dwayne) bro-out and put each other through particle board walls.

Pictured: Either The Rock is about to get suplexed, or Vin Diesel's in the process of getting Speared. I honestly can't tell...

And when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises, as utterly incalculable as the build-up has, and will continue to be for the next 6 months or so, at the end of the day I will see it because it, unlike any other movie in film history; will deliver the long anticipated spectacle of Batman and Bane duking it out on the big screen.

That these 2 titans of comics are to be portrayed by capable actors such as Christian Bale and Tom Hardy respectively, is merely the icing on the cake.

I find this funny. Does that make me less of a man?

Christopher Nolan’s track record when it comes to cinematography and fight choreography suggests that the ensuing bout will be clumsy and edited through a meat grinder, but even so, I’ve been waiting to see this fight brought to life on the silver screen since I was 6 years old; and crappy or not, I will not be denied.

That being said, Batman and Bane grudge match aside, what did I think of the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises?

Well, to answer your question, I felt it was quite good by most standards, but much too enigmatic and fractured in it’s presentation to pack the same visceral punch that the later trailers for The Dark Knight did.

Here’s a refresher in case you need it:

I’d prefer not to compare the 2, as it’s obvious the people cutting the trailers for these movies came at it from very different tonal and thematic standpoints; but I feel it needs to be said that, to me, The Dark Knight really did have some of the best trailers of all time.

Everything, from the shot selection, to the music cues, to the overall pacing of the trailers for The Dark Knight was absolutely spot on.

What’s more, thanks to the dialogue-heavy nature of the trailers, as well as his untimely death, an absurd amount of buzz was generated for Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, (*Sigh* “Why So Serious?”) not to mention the overall plot of the film was made crystal clear.

Though it sounds silly in this cynical age of ours, in many ways I feel the catchphrases and buzzwords of The Dark Knight actually served to make it’s advertising campaign both effective and memorable on the whole.

The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has a lot of neat shots in it, promising quite a few interesting set piece moments, however, perhaps due to the lack of dialogue, many of these shots are difficult to interpret from a purely visual standpoint.

Early on we see the reflection of a man with a cane approaching a shiny dinner platter while Alfred drones on about the Wayne dynasty:

Pictured: I have no fucking clue. Maybe a Ra's Al Ghul flashback?

At some point we see someone stumble onto the set of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet:

Pictures: Ballrooms + Flower Petals = Hamelt. It's science.

Later, we see a bearded Bruce Wayne wandering around what appears to be the prison equivalent to Discovery Zone:

I know it's probably supposed to be a prison, but honestly, I kind of wanna' play on it...

There’s that French lady from Inception n’shit.

A FOOTBALL FIELD was just DESTROYED! WHY ARE YOU SMILING!?

There’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Pictured: Joseph Gordon "Still Not Sure Where To Put The Hyphen" Levitt.

There’s A SHIT TON of rappeling.

The Dark Knight Rises: A Story of Men On Ropes.

And then we have Anne Hathaway as a mean lady that may or may not be Catwoman.

Seriously, if you take into account the fact that maybe, just maybe, the people viewing this trailer haven’t been blogging about every step of the script writing process, or staring at leaked production photos for the past several months, (oddly enough, not me!) then this trailer basically offers no hint as to her role being that of Selina Kyle.

Oh wait excuse me, she’s wearing a mask at a masquerade ball that, if you look really hard, has cat ears:

Direct quote: "WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

Sarcasm deployed, mystery solved.

Much like Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face, unless you’ve been following the production or are familiar with the Batman universe, chances are you’d never know Anne Hathaway was supposed to be Catwoman in this trailer.

Indeed, I’m curious to know what this trailer meant to people who aren’t familiar with Batman outside of the movies.

In many ways, when I watch this trailer, I feel my perception is skewed by the fact that I already have an attachment to and understanding of many of the characters based on their comic book equivalent.

When I think “Bane,” I already have an image in mind of what I expect from him.

When I hear Tom Hardy speaking through his mask I say to myself:

"I can see how people could find that hard to understand, but goddamnit that sounds like Bane!"

When I see scenes from the trailer like the prison break, I think to myself:

"Nice. That looks straight out of Knightfall!"

To the average Batman virgin however, I’d imagine imagery such as this would be provocative, but purely in a “oh, so that’s gonna’ happen at some point” kind of way.

Hell, I’m willing to bet the average Bat Virgin doesn’t have the slightest clue as to who or what Bane even is.

What I think I’m trying to say, is that the style of editing and presentation of this trailer is enticing, as anything with a budget and pretty pictures can manage to be, but at the same time I feel frustrated by the numerous vagaries it throws in my lap.

As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the J.J. Abrams-style marketing.

It’s not that I prefer my trailers to spell their plots and structure out to me, I simply value coherence and context over sound cues and pretty pictures.

Much like all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises appears to be an audio-visual powerhouse, though in some ways it appears a little less so at this point.

The set pieces looks suitably big, but the color palette appears more gray-ish and natural than The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and curiously enough, despite it being an almost comical trademark of his, there’s not a single (gorgeous) overhead shot of a cityscape.

Instead he decided to pull a 180 and do an INVERTED overhead shot for the poster!

That last part troubles me, as I’m a big fan of Nolan’s wide open establishing shots, particularly in outdoor scenes, and though it may just be the editor’s doing; there are none to be found in this trailer.

Perhaps the strangest thing though, at least to me, is the fact that they re-used the mood building drone AKA The Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight in this trailer.

I always thought of that particular piece of music as “belonging” to The Joker, which made it somewhat puzzling to hear played over a trailer for a film that, almost certainly; won’t feature him.

Despite everything I’ve said about this trailer, both good and bad, at the end of the day it’s a very good piece of advertising for a sequel that, unfortunately, benefitted from some of the best advertising and pre-release buzz in recent memory.

Not only that, it’s only the first trailer, for a huge movie that isn’t dropping until late in the summer.

As good as the advertising for The Dark Knight was from the get go, the 2nd trailers for it, Iron Man, and Inception were all MONUMENTALLY better than the first, which leads me to believe the same will likely be the case with The Dark Knight Rises.

In addition to this, one also has to consider the fact that virtually all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters up to this point, while heavily advertised, also did well to avoid showing a great deal of the major story beats and action set pieces.

I mean hell, neither the teaser nor the trailer saw any mention of Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, nor any of stuff from the prologue sequence that made the rounds through theaters last week.

I don’t know about you, but up until it’s release I really thought the “truck flip” from The Dark Knight trailer was going to be the climax of the movie.

Instead, the entire skyscraper based finale of the movie ended up playing that role, while never once being hinted at in the trailers.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that though I may seem overly critical, in truth I’m just a fanboy hoping for the best.

In the meantime though, as weird as it seems, I think I actually liked the almost universally panned teaser for The Dark Knight Rises somewhat better than the trailer.

True, most of the footage was borrowed from Batman Begins.

True, Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue was hard to understand.

True, virtually nothing Commissioner Gordon had to say was even worth hearing in the first place.

BUT, at the very end of the teaser, there is a single, barely 2 second shot that made it all worth it:

Pictured: All I needed to see.

Batman in the rain, taking a deep breath, while Bane slowly approaches from the foreground.

The whole thing was crap up until then, but that last shot instantly sold me.

The trailer, while bigger and much more coherent, didn’t have this shot or even a suitable equivalent.

True, it featured a few shots of Batman and Bane throwing down in the snow, however I felt the subtlety and dramatic implication of the teaser shot did more to appease the fanboy in me than the entirety of the full trailer.

That’s just me though.

Do I ever need a reason to post this? Didn't think so...

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The Amazing Spider-Man Just Went From “Meh” To “Bleh.”

Pictured: The kind of shit I'd probably do if I had a Spider-Man costume.

*SPOILER ALERT!* If you prefer not to have the appearance of The Lizard from The Amazing-Spider-Man spoiled for you, stop reading NOW! *SPOILER ALERT!*

As goofy as the photos above may be, sadly, they aren’t responsible for my rapidly darkening mood in regards to the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie.

It’s funny actually, despite being a reboot of a major Marvel franchise, amid all the buzz surrounding The Avengers, Man of Steel, and The Dark Knight Rises, the production of The Amazing Spider-Man has been somewhat of an enigma as of late.

Unlike fuckin’ Turn Off the Dark

*Shiver* Spider-Man villains putting on a fashion show… The stuff of nightmares I tells yah’.

Truth be told, aside from the infamous “Mirrors Edge trailer,” and a quick article I did a few months back regarding the new costume design, The Amazing Spider-Man has been almost entirely off my radar.

Sure, I grit my teeth a little over the prospect of rebooting a barely 10 year old film series, however outside of that, I really could care less.

I lied. Officially, I care less about Ghost Rider. Don't tell anyone I said that though.

That being said, the one thing that could’ve got me excited about this movie, has just been ruined by a leaked image of a goddamn Pez dispenser.

Allow me to explain.

In my youth, animals were one of my greatest passions, in particular lizards and other reptiles.

At one point the Komodo Dragon was my favorite animal, prompting me to do a number of school projects based around them.

I used to flip through my (vast) collection of Zoobooks just about every fucking day, in particular the reptile and special edition dinosaur issues.

Godzilla was, and still is, one of my biggest heroes.

And when it came to comic book characters, in particular Spider-Man villains, you can sure as hell bet The Lizard was my favorite.

BAAAAADDDD-ASSSSSSSSSSS.

In truth, he was kind of a lame character, particularly in regards to his power set, but even so, I’ve always liked him regardless.

That being said, seeing Dylan Baker cast as Dr. Curt Connors (The Lizard, dumbass) in Spider-Man 2 and 3 was cute in the sense that it paid homage to the greater Marvel universe, (something that has since become widespread) however I’m not gonna’ lie, it sucked some serious balls being teased with the prospect of a Lizard story arc over 2 movies only to end up with the lame-ass, cluttered finale of Spider-Man 3.

Imagine my surprise when it was announced that The Lizard was going to be a/the(?) villain in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Being a Lizard fan, my initial reaction was that of:

“Fuck yeah!”

Despite boasting some decent acting credentials, I still think it’s funny that Welshman Rhys Ifans AKA the Welsh guy from Little Nicky and the Welsh kicker from The Replacements, is going to be playing Curt Connors.

By the way, did I mention he was Welsh?

Seriously though, I really don’t have much of a frame of reference as to whether he’d make a good Lizard, but oddly enough, it’s not him that has me less than thrilled about The Amazing Spider-Man.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned Pez dispenser:

Pictured: An unfortunate shaved monkey dipped in green paint.

While it may not be an official rendering of the character’s design for the upcoming film, or even a reflection of what the character’s final appearance, given the possibility that his transformation in the film may in fact be done progressively instead of all at once; the fact of the matter is:

This looks like fuckin’ garbage.

Seriously man, aside from the green skin, the features of the character don’t even look reptilian to me.

Last time I checked, reptiles, lizards in particular, are noted for their rigid facial structure and beady eyes.

This fuckin’ lizard has his eyes on the front of his face, and doesn’t even have so much as a goddamn snout.

I know they were probably trying to humanize him for dramatic purposes, or more likely, made him more human shaped to make animating his lip movements somewhat easier, but even so; this ain’t the fuckin’ Lizard.

Jesus fuck man, even if you were to put all of my “science-y” gripes aside, at the end of the day this design looks just plain fuckin’ boring.

Probably the worst part though, is the fact that this thing bears an uncanny resemblance to the Goombas from the Super Mario movie:

Cosmic...

And we all know how well that little venture worked out, right?

To whoever designed this Austrian dispenser of confectionery FAIL, congratulations, you have succeeded in making a superhuman lizard-man look boring.

My guess is they recruited the guy that did the Time Ninja cover to do the concept art for The Lizard:

Just in case you forgot...

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Small Victory On Black Friday

Pictured: A big pile of crap, for half the price!

Today marked only the second occasion in which I decided to set forth into the wild and brave the insanity that is Black Friday.

Oddly enough, both times my intention in doing so was not to capitalize on the various sales events, but rather to simply take in the spectacle of watching others step over each other in hopes of acquiring a precious Tickle Me Elmo-like gift, or in the case of this year, an incredibly cheap 40″ TV.

It’s funny, whenever I think of Black Friday and other Christmas/holiday related shopping insanity, there’s one image that comes to my mind.

Said image was from one of my brother’s old Mad magazines, and to date, it serves as the definitive vision of Christmas carnage in my mind:

Pictured: "The Last Parking Space At The Mall."

It might be kind of hard to tell, as the image is kind of small, but basically “The Last Parking Space At The Mall” is a brilliantly rendered Norman Rockwell-esque painting depicting a man shooting another man in a snowy parking lot while his wife attempts to pull him back into the car.

Mad Magazine is usually good for a snicker or 2, but this painting was easily one of the most brilliant fuckin’ comedic images I can recall from my youth.

Sadly though, I didn’t see holiday mayhem of any kind this time around.

I did however get to laugh at the people standing in line surrounding the Best Buy.

Seriously man, I spent close to 3 hours in the general area, and I never once saw that line shrink an inch.

Needless to say, I never even got to set foot in Best Buy this morning.

Oh well, thanks to holiday “tent culture,” virtually all of the really good deals in there are literally impossible to acquire without spending the night outside the building.

Or at least without bringing one of these...

Which brings me to the deals that I actually did get a chance to capitalize on.

I initially set out to “do” Black Friday with a friend of mine around midnight.

Said friend ultimately ended up walking away with 2 boxes of half price golf balls, while I bought absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, there were some other sales going on in the U-district at a reasonable hour that I ended up checking out after catching a few much needed hours of sleep.

First, I went to Zanadu comics, where a 50% off everything sale was going on from 8AM to 12PM.

In case you couldn’t tell from the image above, I ended up getting a softcover copy of the absolutely massive X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia, as well as the first volume of Ed Brubaker’s The Immortal Iron Fist.

Truth be told, I’m not exactly salivating over the prospect of reading either of these books, however Utopia will serve to complete my Dark Avengers trade collection, and Iron Fist is a book that, given my status as a rabid kung fu movie fan, should’ve been in my collection years ago.

All together now: "WAATAAAAAHHHH!!!!"

I’m a little wary of Utopia, as X-Men books haven’t been kind to me in the past, I don’t know, 15 goddamn years; but I’m hoping the Dark Avengers stuff will help to round things out a little.

Yes. I am in fact still made about this.

As for Iron Fist, I’ve read nothing but good about it, and I’ve been putting off reading it for a really long time; so I’m pretty sure it’s gonna’ be awesome.

Anyway, 2 good to great books for 50% off = Definitely worth it in my book.

Next I went to Pink Gorilla to check out their highly variable collection of used/retro videogames.

While I haven’t found anything too special there in a few years now, I was surprised to find a perfectly good copy of Super Castlevania IV.

Outside of that though, I didn’t find anything else exciting, or failing that; worth the asking price.

Despite this, I was surprised to be given a randomized coupon at the register, with the one I drew being a buy1 get 1 free!

Upon scanning the wall, I decided to pick up Donkey Kong Country 3, a game that, while inferior to the sequel (which I already own) is somewhat rare, and often prohibitively overpriced.

Lucky me, I got it for free.

Oh yeah, and I got a free poster too.

Anyway, while I’d like to say I made it through the day without spending a decent amount of money, I’m proud to say that I at least managed to save more than I spent this Black Friday.

How did you do?

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“I Don’t Like The Bad Guys Because They’re Bad.”

Of course they picked the ASIAN kid to pose with the robot....

A funny thing happened the other night.

I was helping out on a shoot for Hapstance Films while I was in Portland, and throughout most of the evening I found myself watching X-Men 2 with a little boy that was also involved in the production.

All night long he excitedly ran up to me to show me his robot collection, as well as to exhibit his best Spider-Man and Wolverine impressions.

Me being me, I took a moment to show him how to properly do the web shooting pose with his fingers.

Yup, this.

While I certainly didn’t mean to, I’m pretty sure I inadvertently fucked up his understanding of the Marvel universe.

From what I could tell, everything he knew of the X-Men and Marvel’s other characters was taken from the movies.

I’d imagine this is quite typical among the youth of today, as the comic industry has been dragging it’s shattered bones along from quarter to quarter, while Marvel Entertainment *cough!* DISNEY *cough!* has been whore-ing their products through Hollywood for over decade now.

Forgive me, I love comic book movies as much as the next man, I just can’t help but feel a little tired of saying to myself “It was good, but the comics were better,” every single goddamn time a new one comes out.

Back to the topic at hand.

Perhaps out of boredom, or simply because he kept asking me, quite excitedly, to tell him about every character that appeared in the X-Men films, during the movie I started feeding him factoids about the X-Men ripped straight from the comics.

I told him that Nightcrawler was Mystique’s son.

I told him that “Fire Guy” was named Pyro.

I told him that “Girl Wolverine” was called Lady Deathstrike.

I told him that Wolverine’s real name was James Howlett or Logan, depending on who you ask.

I told him that Cyclops was a lot cooler than he thought, not just because he was badass, but because he wore glasses like me.

At some point though, I stopped playing Yoda/Comic Book Guy and asked the kid if he liked any villains, in the Marvel universe or otherwise.

I was curious because I happened to notice earlier in the evening that whenever he played with robots, the “good” one would always win the fight.

To my surprise, the kid responded by saying:

“No, I don’t like the bad guys.”

So I asked:

“Why not?”

To which he responded quite plainly:

“Because they’re bad!”

I know it shouldn’t have, but this surprised me.

As I type this article, I hold in my hand a recently purchased collected edition of the early 90’s miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector.

Pictured: The cover of the one issue my cousin let me read back in the day. Been wanting to finish the series ever since.

While Lethal Protector is kind a bad example, given that I was much older than the kid in question upon it’s original publication, this does not change the fact that, even in my extreme youth, I always had an appreciation for some of the “bad guys.”

Soundwave was one of my favorite Transformers.

Gigan was one of my favorite Godzilla characters.

It might have been a sign of the times, but in my mind, villains and anti-heroes were very much “in” back in the late-80’s and early-90’s.

While I’m some would disagree, I’ve always thought of the villains as traditionally the more flamboyant and “cooler” characters when compared to their heroic counterparts.

Something about the villain’s ability to bend the rules, especially in regards to superhero stories, just seems to lend them a flexibility of character that makes them feel more three dimensional.

I don’t know if it’s a generational difference or what, but I found it interesting that this kid had his good guys and bad guys so cleanly divided.

I mean think about that, if you were able to look upon things in such black and white terms, things like war movies and professional wrestling would be infinitely more entertaining!

Being able to point at something and know, in your heart, that it’s “bad,” that it’s the enemy; is a luxury of fiction (or in this case, childhood) that I think a lot of people wish would cross over into reality.

When a threat is universal and tangible, it becomes far easier to deal with than the shades of gray bullshit of real life.

Anyway, I don’t really know where I’m going with this, as I’ve got some pretty bad writer’s block and a headache to boot, but I really this interesting.

Sorry for rambling.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Worst Comics I Own: Aliens – Earth War


Why I Bought It:

I’m a lifelong fan of the Alien universe and mythos.

For better or worse, I’ve found reasons to enjoy all of the Alien films, with the exception of the Aliens vs. Predator ones.

Those are just straight up hot garbage.

I like to think of the Alien extended universe as one of the more successful in pop culture history, as it’s produced some damn good videogames, as well as a handful of rather impressive comic books.

That being said, while I only owned 1 Alien collected edition prior to picking up Earth War, (later reprinted as “Female War”) that of course being Labyrinth AKA the best damn Alien comic I’ve ever read; I could recall reading numerous reviews of it.

Find it. Read it. Then Read It Again. You Won't Be Disappointed.

For the most part, Earth War was regarded as a below average contribution to the series.

Despite willfully avoiding it for most of my life, as fate would have it I stumbled across a copy of Earth War, along with 2 other vastly superior Alien comics, Rogue and Hive; during a trip I took down to Tucson, Arizona.

As it turned out, the comic shop had a special deal for old trades where if you bought 3 from the “crap pile,” the total cost would come to $10 flat.

Seeing that a good opportunity to pick up a handful of souvenirs for my trip, as well a solid deal to boot, I bought all 3, hoping that Earth War wasn’t nearly as crappy as I had heard.

To this day, I still wish I had grabbed that Mark Texeira Sabretooth comic instead…

Why It Sucks:

Earth War is an absolute mess.

Quite literally, from the art, to the layouts, to the soulless dialogue, everything about Earth War just oozes disorganization and messiness.

The funny part is, the actual art for the book, drawn by Sam Kieth of The Maxx fame; is quite stunning at times in a late 80’s-early 90’s sort of way.

Employing a rough and heavily detailed style, the book has a “texture” to it like what I’d imagine a Heavy Metal comic put through an “R. Crumb filter” would look like.

The R. Crumb references end there however, as the women in Earth War are rendered with ethereal beauty and perpetual soft-focus effects, the men are hairy and burly lumberjacks, and the Aliens are impressively designed, yet far less horrifying and more streamlined than that of the designs seen in the films.

Less insect-like and bony, more meaty and "friendly."

One odd note I feel I have to make mention of regarding the art is that, stepping in line with the Heavy Metal vibe I mentioned earlier; the gadgets and weaponry in Earth War have a decided low-tech look to them.

As well as it was all drawn, I found this to be particularly jarring given the more sleek and organized designs found in the films up that point (Earth War made between Aliens and Alien 3).

That being said,, while the art can be quite good at times, especially in close-ups, most of the renderings are extraordinarily inconsistent from panel to panel, suggesting a rushed or awkward production timetable.

More so than the art though, perhaps the biggest strike against Earth War comes from it’s infuriating layouts.

Layouts are, in my opinion, the one reason why it takes a special kind of talent to craft a really good comic.

You can suck the gas pipe at drawing.

You can be the shittiest writer on the whole goddamn block.

But if you have that special talent for putting panels in sequence to tell a story, cleanly and efficiently, then you sir; are 2 steps ahead of the curve when it comes to making comics.

Unfortunately, the guy that made this JLA comic was definitely lacking that special something.

That being said, Earth War makes use of some of the most frustrating layouts I’ve ever seen in a mainstream published comic.

Nearly every panel, at least when there are panels, is a close-up, and virtually all of the backgrounds are either implied through color splotches, or ignored altogether.

The combination of these 2 design flaws results in the book suffering from a lack of a distinct “path” for your eyes to follow, with many of the panels doing little to lend the book any sort of consistent spacial awareness from panel to panel.

That is to say:

Earth War is a book makes you work your ass off to read it, and if you couldn’t tell from the title of this post; it’s hardly worth the effort.

Which brings us to the actual story of this fucking book.

Penned by Mark Verheiden, who also wrote other Dark Horse comics, and subsequent movie adaptations such as Timecop and The Mask; Earth War actually has a fairly intriguing premise.

Pretty impressive for a guy that penned a scene involving Van Damme fighting some dudes in his boxer shorts in Timecop:

At this point in the Alien comic universe, the Alien’s have essentially conquered Earth, resulting in mankind evacuating the planet to regroup and/or find a way to cleanse the planet of the Xenomorphs.

The interesting part in all this, is the fact that, unlike reprinted versions of Earth War and other early Alien comics, the version I picked up retained the use of the characters of Hicks, Newt, and Ripley.

Apparently there was some sort of legal dispute regarding the use of the 20th Century Fox characters, resulting in the comic characters being renamed and redrawn for future printings.

With Earth War and it’s predecessors essentially serving as a direct follow-up to Aliens, one would think the story would be quite good, however this is hardly the case.

The story is told largely through the inner monologue of Newt and Ripley, both of whom are apparently at odds with one another due to Newt’s abandonment issues following her experiences on LV-426.

Personally, I maintain that no amount of writing wizardry could ever hope to make Newt a worthwhile character following her downright painful portrayal in Aliens, and if anything; Earth War proved me right in this regard.

Shoulda' left that bitch in the sewer... Jus' sayin'...

All through the book she is whiny, and largely irredeemable, making her segments some of the more annoying portions of the story.

Oddly enough though, it’s Ripley that serves as the both the protagonist and one of the more frustrating characters in the book.

Ripley was intriguing in the movies because she was tough, decisive, and relatable, but in the comic she is portrayed as being emotionally distant to the point of being robotic.

While one could argue that having an alien species utterly ruin your life likely could result in a person shutting down and devoting themselves entirely to destroying said species, personally I prefer Ripley as the more complete human being that was portrayed in the movies.

Most of the story surrounds Ripley and a squad of marines, who I might add are virtual carbon copies of some of the more developed characters from Aliens, working to capture a unique breed of Alien that could turn the tide of the war.

That “unique breed” of Alien serves as perhaps the one really big contribution that Earth War made to the Alien mythos.

Said species was the Queen Mother alien sub-species.

Not as impressive as you were expecting, right?

Essentially serving as a governor to the standard Queen’s mayor, the Queen Mother was clearly intended to serve as a plot convenience in terms of allowing the human’s to handle a planet-wide crisis of alien infestation.

Personally, I think the idea of the Queen Mother makes a fair amount of sense in terms of overall practicality, though I don’t see it as being an entirely necessary element to the Alien mythos.

Even in the comics, the Aliens have always been compared to ants or wasps, and as such, it makes sense for each hive to be at odds with one another, with each being governed by a singular Queen.

All the addition of a Queen Mother really does is makes it possible for the Aliens to be further demonized through giving them the ability to function as a unified and sentient species.

My personal fascination with the Alien stems largely from it’s status as a destructive, but otherwise animalistic creature, hence my great love for the Labyrinth story arc.

In my eyes, the inception of the Queen Mother stands as both a lame plot convenience for an equally lame story, but also as an annoying and unwarranted part of the canon that makes the Aliens seem like they’re “Out To Get Us” when it’s much more interesting to view them as destructive and industrious that can’t coexist with humanity largely due to the parallels they share in their tendency to effect their environment in profound and irreversible ways.

Obviously, I’ve had a minute or 2 to think about this.

That being said, Earth War sucks balls because it took advantage of, and did harm to the canon of the films and comics, but more importantly because it gave me a headache on my vacation with it’s shitty-ass layouts.

Is It Still Worth Reading Anyway?:

Unless you’re a supercalifragilistic fan of the Alien comic series, then there really is absolutely no reason to pick up a copy of Earth War.

Like I said, the thing is a chore to read, and it doesn’t really add to the series so much as mire and drag it down with extraneous elements.

You could do a lot worse of course, but with so many other quality pieces of Alien fiction floating around out there, I really don’t see why you’d waste your time with Earth War.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, Worst Comics I Own, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Concealable Weapons You’re Not Cool Enough To Carry: Codpiece Revolver

What Is It?:

A 12-shot revolver stored in and fired from a leather codpiece.

Who’s Used It:

Tom Savini.

Why Am I Not Cool Enough To Carry It?:

Because you’re name isn’t fucking Sex Machine, that’s why.

From Dusk Till Dawn was a film with many awesome and memorable elements to it, however I think it’s hard to deny that the master of gore himself, Tom Savini’s character of Sex Machine was one of the better parts of it.

That’s saying a lot when you’re talking about a movie that features Salma Hayek in a bikini, Fred Williamson, buckets of gore, and, well Salma Hayek in fucking a bikini.

Pictured: Adolesence.

Like many weapons featured in these articles, the codpiece revolver is far from the more practical weapons one could employ for self-defense purposes, however it’s this element of it’s design that makes it much too cool to be put in the hands of mere mortals.

Think about it:

In order to aim the codpiece revolver, you’d have to walk around all bowlegged n’shit, pointing your cock at things that you’d like to see stop living.

Not only that, while Sex Machine never showed it, on account of being A FUCKING MAN, in firing the codpiece revolver, I’d assume the recoil would do a number on your frank and beans.

I don’t know about you, but if ever I were to wish death upon someone, I don’t think I’d wanna’ rupture my sac in doing so.

I’ll leave that to the Sex Machine’s of the world, thank you very much.

I’m getting ahead of myself though.

You see, the real problem in carrying, let alone handling a codpiece revolver, is the simple fact that, as I indicated in the first sentence of this segment of the article; YOU AREN’T FUCKING SEX MACHINE.

Nor is The Punisher for that matter...

Did you see how he operated the cock revolver in the clip at the top of the post?

He gave Greg Nicotero a dirty look, and then bam!

It opened.

Another dirty look, and the thing snapped shut.

No springs, no pneumatics, just a dirty fucking bastard shootin’ people dirty-ass looks.

By my logic, this can only mean that:

A): The cock revolver responds to psychic triggers.

or B): The sausage cannon fights on behalf of the forces of MANLINESS, thereby lending it’s service only to those cool enough to bear badass names such as “Sex Machine.”

In other words:

Even if you were somehow, against every rule in the natural order of coolness, able to get away with walking the streets wearing a gaudy leather cock basket; you’d have no way of operating the weapon due to your lack of legitimate badass-ness.

I suppose you could install a trigger in your rotating penis blaster and operate it manually, but really isn’t the point of having a dick pistol the fact that you can blast one out hands free with it?

Putting aside the fact that you, being possessed of insufficient coolness, would have no way of being able to physically operate a cock cannon in the first place, the fact of the matter is; you’d look like an idiot even if you could.

You see, chief among the requirements for being capable of carrying a codpiece revolver, is the fact that one has to be able to pull off the codpiece “look.”

Pictured: Sting, being a smug-ass bastard and rocking the codpiece look for the sake being a smug-ass bastard.

I don’t know about you, but metal studded crotch pockets aren’t something I could see myself wearing without looking like some dipshit that got way too into The Matrix or The Crow back in the day.

Perhaps more so than a salmon colored polo shirt with the collar popped, I’d like to think of a leather codpiece as being one of the harder “looks” in male fashion to pull off.

Well, outside side of a bondage/gay club anyway.

That being said, I’m sorry friends, but we can’t all be as cool as Sex Machine.

Now enjoy this clip of the aforementioned machine of sex getting his head blown off in Maniac:

Filed under: Comics, Concealable Weapons You're Not Cool Enough To Carry, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Concealable Weapons You’re Not Cool Enough To Carry: Noisy Cricket

What Is It?: 

A tiny energy gun who’s diminutive size belies it’s surprisingly destructive power and recoil.

Who’s Used It?:

Will Smith.

Why Am I Not Cool Enough To Carry It?:

Because even The Fresh Prince himself couldn’t, in his own words; make the Noisy Cricket look good.

Not only that, but you’d have to be built like a brick-shit house just to handle it.

A handgun is, by nature; a weapon intended to be held and operated without a brace or shouldering mechanism.

Despite being roughly the size of a Derringer, the Noisy Cricket kicks like a steroid cow that’s seen one too many Van-Damme movies.

... That is, if a steroid cow is even CAPABLE of lifting it's legs to throw a kick.

That is to say, despite the benefit of packing extraordinarily potent explosive force; firing the Noisy Cricket has the nasty effect of flinging it’s user off their feet and about half a city block through the air.

Clearly, not a product of efficient Japanese engineering…

Again, this unfortunate element of the Noisy Cricket’s design likely could be remedied by putting it in the hands of a very fit 500 lbs. man, something that I’m willing to bet describes not a single person reading this blog; or by possessing a center of gravity roughly that of Danny Devito’s… or Puck’s.

Hey, we went over this before: Puck's a pimp. Lay-off the Puck-Meister.

The point is, while I know we all wish we could go around toting palm-sized, energy grenade handguns; the fact of the matter is, it’s just not worth it.

Think about it:

Assuming you’d be willing to pull a Noisy Cricket on someone on the street, let alone fire it; chances are you’d break your neck in the resulting recoil induced fall, or at the very least reflexively shit yourself due to the shock of it all.

Oh yeah, and considering the fact that Agent J succeeded in hitting exactly nothing during the few instances he used the Noisy Cricket, chances are you’d also probably miss your intended target… Who if you were at all justified in needing a handgun to deal with, would likely capitalize on your recoil induced period of incapacity to mug/murder/de-pants you.

Pictured: The most likely outcome of any attempted usage of a Noisy Cricket.

The funny part about the Noisy Cricket, is the fact that it’s actually not all that cool of the weapon in the first place; and yet you’re still not cool enough to wield it.

It looks like a cheap fuckin’ Zippo lighter.

It “chirps” while it’s held at ready, making it entirely impractical in situations calling for stealth or ambush tactics.

And judging by the grave tone in which Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K spoke when handing it over to Will Smith, chances are it’s not exactly looked upon as a weapon of class or distinction amongst Men In Black agents.

While the prospect of owning or handling any sort of alien firearm sounds pretty fuckin’ cool on paper, the amount of MANLY coolness one must possess in order to successfully compensate for the aura of lameness inherent to carrying a Noisy Cricket, would likely have to exceed that of Sean Connery, Toshiro Mifune, and Hulk Hogan combined.

In essence, you’re not cool enough to carry a Noisy Cricket for the same reason grown men aren’t allowed to drape themselves entirely in velvet.

Because goddamnit:  No one’s that pimp.

Filed under: Comics, Concealable Weapons You're Not Cool Enough To Carry, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Avengers Trailer Looks Like They Need To Fix It In Post.

It’s funny, as the release date for The Avengers slowly draws nearer, I’m starting to realize more and more the fact that there’s very little chance of it being shitty.

I have a great deal of love for Marvel comics, so just getting a chance to see the characters of that universe being brought to life in 200 million dollar budgeted films is enough to make me happy.

It doesn’t matter so much if the acting is great, or the plot deeply layered, as long I get to see the spirit and energy of the characters brought to life, there’s very little chance I’ll walk away from an Avengers movie wanting my money back.

Then again, I would’ve said the same about Transformers, that is, until Michael Bay dumped ass all over my childhood and raped my wallet…

TWICE.

"I swear I will not kill anyone... But I WILL shit on all of your childhood heroes."

That being said, while it’s a bit difficult to determine exactly what the plot of the movie is based on the trailer, (as should be the case, given that it’s only the first theatrical trailer) in many ways I applaud the marketing folks over at Marvel/Disney for cramming in screen time for virtually all of the heavy hitters that have been confirmed to be appearing in the film.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki appears to be the central villain of the film, though based on the uncertain events at the conclusion of Captain America, in my mind it’s entirely possible that Red Skull could have a hand in things as well.

My bet is, he does.

Given the Hulk’s unstable nature, as well as the plot of the first Avengers comic, I’m guessing he’s going to end up being manipulated by Loki at some point; resulting in a heel/face turn at some point in the film.

I don't think I'm alone in saying I'd like to see a bit of THIS somewhere in there though.

Speaking of the Hulk, his reveal at the end of the trailer was well utilized, as he’s the one confirmed Avenger we really haven’t seen up to this point.

Despite no shortage of explosions and FX shots though, I can’t help but feel that this first trailer was cut from footage of a yet unfinished product.

At least I hope that’s the case.

There are numerous shots that feel very “static,” lacking in energy and purpose to a degree that they feel almost amateurish.

Seriously man, count how many shots there are of single characters, standing in boring and vacant locations.

"DURRR!!! I'M THE BLACK WIDOW AND I JUST FARTED A BUS EXPLOSION! DURRR!!!"

Chances are you’ll run out of fingers and toes on that one.

At the same time, many of the FX shots, particularly some of the exploding cars, look to me as if they are meant to be templates for CGI compositing.

It’s rare to see explosions in Hollywood films these days where the detonation source and materials seem plainly visible, and as such; I wouldn’t be surprised if the aforementioned exploding car shots are awaiting some sort of energy beam effects to cover all that up.

It’s funny, as I write this nitpicky article, I can’t help but be reminded of the early trailers for Iron Man.

I remember seeing the early TV spots for Iron Man, and being largely unimpressed.

I don’t know if you recall, but the pacing of these commercials was very weak, and some of the effects shots were not quite finished, resulting in advertisements that didn’t at all reflect the awesomeness of the final product.

Compare this early TV spot:

To the later released full trailer here:

Not only is the composition better, the special effects, particularly in the “tank shot” sequence, are rendered with more detail and smoother animation.

When you’re dealing with effects heavy films like this, it’s entirely possible that the computer effects crew will end up working on the project up until the release date.

While I could be wrong, I’m really hoping this is the case with The Avengers, as while it looks totally acceptable at this point, it doesn’t look at all exceptional.

What else can I say about this?:

Captain America’s costume looks a little bit too stretchy and “pajama-y” for me to give it a thumbs up.

Am I wrong in thinking it looks kind of like the live-action Kick-Ass costume?

Hank Pym should get a nod or a cameo, as I’d love to see The Vision or Ultron show up in a movie someday.

Kudos to the marketing department for excluding any and all shots of the Avengers working together or “assembling,” as that’s one of those oh-so-important fanboy moments that’s probably best left for the theaters.

Here’s hoping Agent Coulson gets an action beat somewhere in there, ’cause he’s been consistently fun over the years.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the always solid Jeremy Renner won’t suck as Hawkeye… ‘Cause let’s face it: he’s Hawkeye.

"Who? Me?"

For once I’m actually hoping Joss Whedon decides to “George Lucas” his movie with distracting lights and colors in every shot.

Seriously man, this is the fuckin’ Avengers movie.

It’s only gonna’ premiere once, and you’ve been hyping it for like 4-5 years now.

Go balls out, or don’t waste my motherfuckin’ time.

No Avengers film, or any film for that matter, should have boring-ass shots of The Black Widow standing ever so casually in front of pitiful exploding buses, or for that matter; Nick Fury firing rocket launchers while standing in front of my dad’s garage.

BOH-RRRRRIIIIING.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say on this one, hopefully it turns out fun for everyone, ’cause at this point if any one film this coming year could hope make good on that promise, it’d have to be The Avengers.

If it does in fact start to suck when I’m in the theater though, I know exactly the phrase that’s going to come to mind:

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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…

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, Worst Comics I Own, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finally Reached The Thanos Imperative


You see that picture of the amazingly badass, The Right Stuff-esque lineup of cosmic Marvel heroes?

That picture, or rather, splash page; was all it took for me to tell myself:

“I don’t know what it’s about, or even if it’s gonna’ be any good, but I need to read The Thanos Imperative.”

That was roughly one year ago.

Since then, I’ve spent a great deal of time (and money) playing catch-up, reading the vast majority of the story arcs and trades that preceded The Thanos Imperative.

I started with the 2006 incarnation of Marvel’s Annihilation event, wherein the bug-minded Annihilus of the Negative Zone waged war on the cosmic Marvel universe due to his belief that the Positive Universe was encroaching on his territory.

Yeah, Gabrielle Del Otto's kind of a good artist...

Having entered into Annihilation pretty much a virgin of the cosmic sector of the Marvel Universe, I was thoroughly impressed by the accessibility and cohesiveness of the arc.

Any apprehension I may have felt in pursuing the expensive cause of catching up to The Thanos Imperative were instantly dispelled by the sheer quality and entertainment value of Annihilation.

In short, I was hooked.

That being said, just days after working my way through the massive 3 book epic of Annihilation, I started reading the equally entertaining, though not quite as self-contained follow-up series, Annihilation: Conquest.

Conquest instilled in me a great love for Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as put a smile on my face with it’s use of Ultron, one of my favorite Marvel villains, as the main antagonist.

Easily the best visualization of Ultron I've ever seen.

After reading Conquest, I don’t see myself going very long without picking up and reading the Guardians of the Galaxy trades at some point.

Oddly enough, while Conquest brought an end to the Annihilation Saga proper, it’s spiritual successor, the Inhuman and Shi’ar conflict dubbed the War of Kings; was a trade I actually read several years ago on a whim.

Despite having read it before, I decided it read through it again, as well as a few of it’s supplementary trades just to refresh my memory.

Honestly, it may have just been because of my increased familiarity with the characters and landscape, but I think War of Kings was actually better the second time around.

Pictured: The splash page that single-handedly made a Black Bolt fan out of me.

Finally, in my last step before reading The Thanos Imperative, I decided to pick up a copy of Realm of Kings, the massive bridge that wrapped up the events of War of Kings, and bridged the gap between it and The Thanos Imperative.

Truth be told, of all the various books I read this past year, Realm of Kings was the only one that I recall getting some bad press.

Reviewers accused it of being padded and extraneous, but I for one found it to be very much worthwhile.

The art was above average to great throughout, and both the Inhuman and Shi’ar story arcs concerned characters and events that I was honestly happy to learn more about.

The one ratty part of the trade, and likely the reason it reviewed poorly, was the Son of the Hulk story arc.

I don't know what his deal is, but he looks like Kratos mixed with that kid from The Last Airbender.

I consider myself extremely well-versed in the lore of the Marvel Universe, but for the life of me I had no fucking clue what was going on over the course of these 5 issues.

I’ve read Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, and I know a great deal about Hulk’s son Skaar, but I’ve never fucking heard of Hiro-Kala or the fucking Micronauts.

Despite this, I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept (and look) of the Cancerverse explored throughout Realm of Kings.

I’m giddy as a schoolgirl to see how the Cancerverse figures into The Thanos Imperative.

That's the Cancerverse rendition of the Hulk. Yeah, I'm serious.

In all, the stuff about Hiro-Kala and his bullshit was a terrible way to end an otherwise wondrous reading experience, but oh well.

That being said, as of yesterday, I now have my copy of The Thanos Imperative, and am positively shivering with excitement over cracking it open and finally reading what I worked all year to catch up to.

Here’s hoping it’s half as good as I’ve built it up to be!

Filed under: Comics, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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