Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Committed To Reading The Annihilation Saga

I’m starting to realize that I am somewhat of a completist when it comes to comic books.

I routinely show up late to the party when it comes to the newest and most popular story arcs, largely because I get hung up trying to play catch up.

In most cases, it’s simply not enough for me to hit up Wikipedia to find out what I missed.

When I “get into” a character or storyline, I prefer to start from the “beginning,” which is typically represented by the work of a signature author or storyline; and work my way through the trades until I get up to date.

Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in me purchasing and reading some pretty bad books every now and again.

It’s just the nature of the superhero comics industry, with writers and illustrators jumping from project to project all the time; it’s only natural that various books have dips in quality every now and again.

Some examples of purchases I kind of regret, are Secret Invasion, and every single Punisher MAX trade following the departure of Garth Ennis.

Pictured: One of many reasons Garth Ennis owns The Punisher.

It’s funny, I actually remember saying, on this very blog; stating that I would probably never pick up a copy of Secret Invasion.

I heard it wasn’t very good, and was hoping to avoid it, but eventually I got so immersed in the Marvel Universe as a whole, (I don’t know about you, but Dark Reign really “did it” for me) that I reached a point in which most of the characters I was reading had a big fat hole in their continuity left by me not having read Secret Invasion or any of it’s copious tie-ins.

Secret Invasion was indeed kind of a crappy, (not Messiah Complex crappy, mind you) but for whatever reason, it’s comforting to me to have those plot holes filled.

The Punisher stuff kind of speaks for itself.

Garth Ennis was the best thing that ever happened to the character, so his departure from the series pretty much resulted in the bar being set far too high for anyone to possibly measure up to.

UN. TOUCHABLE.

‘Nuff said.

Anyway, as you might have guess from the title of this post, I’ve recently committed myself to reading all of the Annihilation Saga trades, up through the recent Thanos Imperative.

For your information, that’s about 5 years worth of storylines, told across 5 major arcs, as well as possibly a tie-in book or 2; most of which were written by the dynamic duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

That’s a lot of fuckin’ comics.

Curiously enough, my association with this sprawling story came in the form of jumping right smack in the middle of it a few years ago.

The first book in the series I read was War of Kings, which turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable read despite my general unfamiliarity with most of the characters.

Over the course of the story, I developed a newfound respect for Black Bolt, as well as an unexpected degree of interest in the cosmic Marvel Universe.

Admittedly, Black Bolt was also kind of badass in World War Hulk...

Though I went on to pick up the War of Kings: Warriors trade that collected a number of tie-in issues associated with the core story, for whatever reason I never went any further than that until just last week.

Last week I finished reading the first book of Annihilation, the initial story arc of the Annihilation saga; and boy was I impressed.

As with War of Kings, I found myself becoming attached to characters that were largely on the periphery of the core Marvel canon, but not only that, I found myself being sucked into the story itself; regardless of it’s place in Marvel lore.

In short, the first book; while little more than build up to the meat of the story, was a damn good read.

That being said, while I know I’ve got my work cut out for me, I’m actually looking forward to cutting a swathe through Annihilation and seeing how everything pans out.

Typically, when I’m faced with diving into a story this big, I tend to feel pensive about the emotional and monetary investment it represents, but in this case; I’m actually kind of jazzed.

Now, all I have to do is find a comic shop that actually carries a copy of Annihilation: Book Two, and then I can actually get started…

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

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

Thoughts On The DC Universe Reboot

For those that care to know, DC Comics has recently gone on record stating plans for a massive reboot of all their major titles and characters this fall.

To non-comic fans, this means you can expect to see (or in the case of those that truly don’t give a fuck, not see) a bunch of comics and trades bearing the increasingly common designation of “Issue #1” in the coming months.

The reasoning behind this rather ballsy maneuver by one of comics’ biggest publishing houses, has largely been attributed as an effort to contemporize the characters and origins of the DC universe.

While part of me feels that this could in fact pay-off, and might even prove beneficial to the legacies of some of the more obscure characters of DC (Hawkman, Deadman, Red Tornado, etc.) by giving them extra face time and a new coat of paint; the comic-whore in me can’t help but feel a little thrown by the idea of a universe-wide reboot.

Pictured: When Superman met the 90's... Things could've gone better.

It’s not the fact that I’m a continuity whore or anything either.

I grew in an era when most people considered themselves either “DC Kids” or “Marvel Kids,” and with the exception of Batman and Superman; (mostly Batman…) I was very much a “Marvel Kid.”

What can I say, Marvel's always been good at aiming low...

In the past decade or so, my undying allegiance to The House of Ideas (AKA Marvel, dumbass…) has loosened up, or rather; my appreciation for DC has grown, but even so, I’ve never really found a good way to get my feet wet when it comes to the labyrinthian mess that is DC universe continuity.

I think it’s the Multiverse aspect of DC that has always scared me off when it comes to DC crossovers.

Though I have to admit, this is pretty fuckin' awesome.

Sure, you could argue that Marvel has a Multiverse as well, (one that I don’t really pay attention to aside from the MAX imprint) but the difference between the 2 is that DC merges their universes from time to time, while Marvel usually keeps theirs separate.

Keeping track of hundreds of characters in a single universe is one thing, but when you put together a host of stories I.E. the Crisis series; that draw into focus numerous iterations of said characters across multiple universes, I’m sorry, my feeble mind just can’t handle it.

For this reason, along with the occasional poor review or 2, I haven’t read any of the Crisis stories, nor do I think I’ll ever care enough to do so.

Case in point: Superboy Prime.

The point I’ve been trying to make with all of this bullshit, is the fact that when it comes to DC; I don’t really have that much of an investment in the history of it’s characters… Aside from Batman, Superman, and maybe Green Lantern.

Call me crazy, but I kind of liked it when Hal Jordan went nuts and killed off the Corps.

Could've done without the creepy pedo-face though...

Anyway, the first thing that came to mind when I heard DC was going to be dumping a fatty diarrhea of reboot juice into their books, was Marvel’s Ultimate series.

I haven’t read any of the Ultimate line, largely because, unlike in the case of DC, I’m very comfortable with Marvel’s continuity, past and present.

From what I’ve read, the basic mission statement for the Ultimate line was along the lines of:

“Purge all the non-essential/less popular characters, make the characters more contemporary, make use of big-name writers and artists, make it accessible for non-comic readers/people that like the Marvel movies.”

To reiterate: Marvel, not afraid to whore themselves out to the kids.

That’s basically what I’m thinking DC is trying to do with their reboot.

The really goofy thing about this whole reboot thing, is the timing of it.

Superman: Secret Origin wrapped not that long ago, the ink on Superman: Earth One (not be confused with “Earth-1“) has yet to dry, and Batman: Earth One is likely to follow in the coming months.

Even Wonder Woman was recently revamped from the ground up.

Oh God! It's the 90's all over again!!!

When I think about it, it seems like DC’s been teasing a reboot for awhile now, but it’s only just now they’ve built up the courage to go ahead and do it to their entire line, and not just their A-list characters.

Deep down, I know that DC has some serious housekeeping to do with their characters and storylines, as would any other book line published over 70+ years; but starting from scratch is not something I like to consider.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m fine with comics simply ignoring or retconning the less important or relevant moments in their continuity.

As a fairly seasoned comic fan, I don’t think a reboot is all that necessary; but if it breathes new life in the industry, and grabs new fans that otherwise wouldn’t have given a shit, then more power to ’em.

In any case, here’s hoping DC’s gamble pays off.

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

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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Wolverine – Weapon X: Adamantium Men Review

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

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

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

Well, looky here...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I admit it, I’m a Wolverine whore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Mutants: The Stupidest Fucking Shit EVER.

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

Provided the writer and artist are up to standard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve McNiven = Automatic Buy.

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

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

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

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

In short, it’s much better.

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

Seriously, this was fuckin' awesome.

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

I was not disappointed.

NOT DISAPPOINTED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FUCK YEAH!

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

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

Pictured: An early fight scene.

My only 2 complaints are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care everyone, happy reading!

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MASSIVE Summary of Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend, Part I

Alright everyone, here it is, the article that set me 2 or 3 days behind schedule with my writing.

Yesterday I posted pretty much the closest equivalent to a review of Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend, that I possibly could.

The movie is pure eye-candy, and was definitely made for fanboys and kids.

Being as I consider myself pretty much both of those things in regards to Ultraman, I don’t feel qualified to write a full-on review for this movie.

Nah, that’s bullshit.

Truth of the matter is, I’ve never encountered a film so entirely devoid of structure and plot, while at the same time so visually exciting; and to be perfectly honest, I simply don’t know how I feel about the experience.

That, and this took a crazy long time to write, and frankly I don’t feel like putting any more time into Ultraman stuff right now.

Oh well, get settled in, ’cause what follows is a MASSIVE scene-by-scene summary, almost like a slideshow (if I could use plug-ins with my blog, I would hella’ make one).

*Ahem!* Spoilers Ahead.

Man, it's like their language was created specifically for making awesome title screens...

The story of Ultra Galaxy Legend is very straightforward, and is pretty much explained to us over the course of one exposition heavy scene.

Unfortunately this scene doesn’t come until a half an hour into the film, so bear with me until then.

The movie begins with an homage to the original Ultraman TV series, by dropping us into a fight between Ultraman Moebius and Bemura, the first “monster of the week” featured in the very first Ultraman episode EVER.

"From off the top rope!"

After a somewhat awkward battle, wherein the choreography is much faster and less pose oriented than in perhaps any other Ultra movie, we’re treated to a montage sequence explaining the who’s who and what’s what of the Ultra and Ultra Galaxy universe.

A scene from the opening titles of CSI: M-78 Nebula.

The whole montage bears a striking resemblance to the one featured in Godzilla: Final Wars, complete with similar synth-heavy background music and flashy posing by all of the featured characters.

Now THAT'S a posse.

In fact, the whole movie bears a certain resemblance to Final Wars, but that’s a discussion for another time.

In between beats we are treated to a few brief scenes of life in the M-78 Nebula, in the Ultra homeworld of the Land of Light.

The Land of Light

These scenes do a wonderful job of showcasing just how far the visual effects have come for the Ultra series, as well as do a fair amount to flesh out the previously only barely seen M-78 Nebula.

Watching Ultraman Taro oversee the training of a bunch young Ultramen brought a smile to my face, as well as a few bad memories of the Star Wars prequels‘ jedi academy scenes.

I wish my teachers wore fucking capes...

Moving on, our story begins with Alien Zarab, a shape-shifter that famously terrorized the original Ultraman way back in 1966, showing up at the Ultraman equivalent of the Phantom Zone, with gadget called the Giga Battle Nizer in tote.

After storming the Ultra prison, Zarab frees an evil Ultraman named Belial, (you can tell he’s evil ’cause he’s black and red and has claws) apparently with the intent of joining forces with said evil Ultraman.

Um, not sure if I would trust that guy...

Yeah, Zarab gets to speak maybe 3 sentences before Belial shoves the Giga Battle Nizer up his ass and out his mouth.

Before Belial can leave the prison however, Taro and a bunch of no-name Ultra’s show up with the intent of putting the bunneh’ back in the box.

"Why couldn't you put the bunneh' back in the box?"

Of course, with Cameron Poe nowhere in sight, Taro and his troops get smacked around something awful.

I swear, Taro’s Ultra goombas get flipped and thrown into pretty much every wall and all-around hard surface available during this fight.

Yup, whole lotta' this...

Like watching a WWF tables match where everybody’s a Dudley Boy… and the ring is made of tables.

With this, Taro gets desperate, chugs a 5 Hour Energy, and spears Belial right off the fucking cube, down through the atmosphere, and down onto the Ultra homeworld’s surface.

Then things really get cool.

Okay, maybe not THAT cool, but still pretty cool nontheless.

Belial takes on virtually every Ultra character from the M-78 Nebula, all at once.

The choreography is hard-hitting and well shot, with very energetic camerawork that is creative, but never dizzying or confusing.

Most impressive however, is the fact that fanservice is kept to a minimum during this scene.

Well, kind of anyway.

Belial tangles with Ultraseven 21 and Ultraman Neos. Oh yeah, and some no-name Ultra Grunts too.

Despite nearly every Ultra taking part in the fight, only a scant few actually pull out any of their trademark moves, and for the most part, everyone is portrayed as nothing more than chaff getting in Belial’s way.

Color me surprised when I saw Ultraman Powered and Great kicking around in there.

Yup that's Great about to get kicked there on the left, and that's Powered on the right doing more than he ever did with an entire season of his own show.

Would’ve thought Tsuburaya would prefer to forget about those two…

Anyway, somewhere amid all the chaos, Ultraman Moebius gets tossed up into the stratosphere.

With most of the lesser Ultras cast aside, the original Ultraman, Zoffy, and Seven show up in their pimp capes and get a few nice moments to shine, as they should.

Pimp to a degree only the truly PIMP can acheive.

Ace, Jack and 80 do too, but 80’s appeal consists of being able to put both the balls and the cock in his mouth at the same time, so needless to say, I really didn’t care.

Plus, none of them had pimp capes.

After flattening all the Ultras, Belial makes a move to steal the Ultra Spark, which is apparently the source of all Ultra power.

"OH, MY BELOVED ICE CREAM BAR...."

Before he can get to it though, Ultra Father shows up and is all like:

"Git' yo' fingahs' out my cookie jar, son!"

Belial ain’t havin’ none ah’ that, so they throw.

Father lands a few nice knife-edge chops, but eventually Belial gets pissed and starts no-selling his bumps.

Belial manages to get the upper hand, and after SHOOTING TARO IN THE FACE, and bitch-slapping Ultra Mother, saunters over to the Ultra Spark and straight up jacks it.

Now, apparently the Ultra Spark really is the source of all Ultra power, ’cause once it’s gone, the whole damn planet starts to freeze over. Like, real fast.

It's like "The Day After Tomorrow", but with Ultraman!

With the Ultra planet freezing fast, Taro takes drastic measures and sets himself ON FIRE (don’t worry, he does that sometimes) so he can preserve the last vestiges of the remaining Ultra Spark power.

With that, Ultraman and Ultraseven manage to shield themselves from the wave of ice, while everyone else, Father and Mother included, gets frozen solid.

Yeah, the two most popular characters in franchise history manage to avoid getting frozen. Didn’t see that coming.

We are now 20 minutes into the film.

Check back tomorrow as we move into the 2nd act!

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, fine your majesty, I shall summarize:

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

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

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

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

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

One-shot my ass…

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

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

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

You can thank Wikipedia for that last bit.

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

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

So sayeth Jason Scott Lee...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interior decorator, he is not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Ahem!* SCIENCE.

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

The Punisher greets him as only he can do.

A conversationalist, he is not.

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

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

What kind of Indiana Jones bullshit is that!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

In either case, both drive a fucking awesome van.

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

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

Just a scratch really, no big deal.

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

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

Remember that shadowy guy I mentioned earlier?  Daken?

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

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

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

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

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

I know, I'm retarded.

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

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

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

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

Basically he’s Wolverine, but EEEVVIIIIIILLLLLLL…

Cut to bad-ass fight scene.

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

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

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

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

…but I guess biting works too.

…and shooting.

…yup, shooting still works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank’s mind immediately jumps to poop jokes.

A comedian, he is not.

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

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

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

But first…

BUTT.

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

ANYWAY, where were we?

Oh yeah:

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDD

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

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

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

Case in point:

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

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

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

No wait, just one more:

Just breaks your heart, doesn't it?

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

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

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

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

Yeah, that didn’t go so hot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess it’s true:

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

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

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

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Long time no see Ultraman

I miss Ultraman.

Ultraman has been absent from the airwaves since 2007, replaced by the Pokémon-esque, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle… and the follow-up series, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey.

While Galaxy is a decent enough show, with a fun concept and plenty of kaiju battles, the acting and production values feel decidedly below average for an Ultra series. This, coupled with a distinct lack of Ultraman blowing the shit out of monsters has led me to give up on Galaxy for the most part.

Let me put things into perspective for you:

I grew up watching Ultraman.

Not only that, the first show I ever watched was the outsourced, Australian iteration, Ultraman Towards the Future, which is universally regarded as one of the worst Ultra series of all time, second only to the American Ultraman Powered.

Despite this, as a child I loved it! I remember waking up at obscene hours of the morning to to catch one of the 13 episodes every weekend, (kind of like how we all used to watch the same 2 or 3 Ren & Stimpy episodes every weekend) and loving every minute of it. To this day, I still have some of the action figures, the playset, and even the terrible Super NES game.

Whatever, this stuff was the shit when I was 5.

As a child Ultraman died to me the day he started airing at 5 AM on TNT.

I remember getting psyched after seeing a commercial for Ultraseven, where a giant ape man shot blue lasers out of his eyes, and Ultraseven struck a pose and yelled: “YAH! YAH! YAH! YAHHH!!!!”

With Ultraman Towards the Future still fresh in my mind, I tried to wake up to see Ultraseven at 5 in the fucking morning.

No simple task for a 6 year old with no alarm clock.

Naturally, I never got to see Ultraseven.

For about a month straight, I remember getting out of bed, running out into the living room and flipping on the TV, only to find that Ultraseven was not on.

A few times I remember seeing some scary shit on in that time slot, I remember some movie about creepy old Native American ladies with bleeding eyes scared me back to sleep one time.

Knowing me, I probably just mixed up the time slot for the show, but unfortunately I never got to see that awesome commercial again, so I never found out.

Haha! Yeah, that's the one!

Following this, I abandoned my love for Ultraman for a very long time.

I remember Ultraman Tiga aired on Fox Kids when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, I was 12, and was thusly too “cool” for Ultraman. Guess I was too busy failing at swearing (“Shit balls! Damn, fuck-sauce!”) and being fat to care about Ultraman.

Then a funny thing happened.

Flash forward to 2005: I’m in college. I’m bored. I’m finally getting old enough to the point where looking back on life holds meaning. I’m finally old enough to admit that I miss Ultraman.

So what do I do?

I learn about this new fangled invention called “torrenting” and type in “Ultraman” as my first query.

Much like my experiences in the 90’s with the Heisei Godzilla series, I was very much surprised to find that Ultraman had carried on just fine without me.

Ultraman Max served as my ambassador back into the world of Ultraman. Max was good fun. Every episode was colorfully executed with obvious enthusiasm. The cast was smaller than most Ultra shows, but in many ways I feel that was its strength. Every character was well defined and seemed to serve some purpose, even that haole guy, Sean.

One of these things is different...

I loved how schizophrenic the show could be at times.

Directors and storylines rarely lasted more than 1 or 2 episodes, resulting in a show that changed identities and mood from week to week, and quite successfully at that.

I remember being genuinely impressed by both of Takashi Miike’s episodes: “Miracle of the Third Planet” and “Who am I?”, the former being one of the most dramatic episodes in the series, and the latter being the funniest.

Most impressive to me is the fact that I don’t even like Takashi Miike, I’ve always thought of him as being seriously overrated.

I never finished Max, but it remains one of the my favorite series.

Unlike this 'merch hawking whore...

After I was done with Max, I took a step back and decided to watch the much heralded Ultraman Nexus from the previous year.

Nexus was a revelation. It did all the things Ultra series don’t do.

It worked from a single continuous storyline.

It was consistently serious in tone.

It had monsters that took entire story arcs to defeat.

It had a budget and was spectacular from beginning to end.

Nexus represented a great experiment in trying to tweak the format of the Ultraman series. From what I’ve heard, it’s deviation from the status quo caused it to lose a lot of fans, but for an older, wiser Azn Badger, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Good God, someone get that child away from there!

Around this time I started following the Ultra movie series with the release of Ultraman: The Next.

It was pretty good, with exceptional effects work, great suit designs, and a killer soundtrack by the lead guitarist of B’Z, Tak Matsumoto.

There was some hokiness to it in the form of lame homages to the Top Gun anthem on the soundtrack, and an oddly placed freeze frame moment, (“MAKI!!!!!!) but for the most part it was a good time.

Oh yeah, and it tied into Nexus, so yeah, brownie points there.

Skip to 5:08 for “MAKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Ultraman Moebius (yes I know the Japanese phonetics have it as “Mebius“, but fuck that noise) represented another falling out between Ultraman and I.

I don’t know if it’s because I got too old, or was fatigued from all of the Sentai and Kamen Rider I was watching at the time, (Den-Ou! WOOT!) but something just didn’t click for me.

I remember liking the feel of the show, and how it paid homage to the Ultra shows of old through its use of sound effects and intentional use of outdated special effects (even more low tech than usual), but as a whole, the show just kind of felt, well, lame.

The characters were varied and well-defined, but for the most part it just felt like a bunch of airhead pop-stars with an absurd amount of inane high school drama and baggage that somehow tied into finding the methodology necessary to defeat the monster of the week.

Yes, I am aware that I just summarized pretty much every Sentai or Ultraman show ever, but what I mean to say, is that this felt particularly pronounced in the 14 or 15 episodes of Moebius I managed to watch.

You see what you missed out on? Moebius punching Birdon in his chin balls, that's what!

I think part of why I didn’t really care much for Moebius, is that the action felt kind of tame in comparison to Max, Nexus, or even Gaia.

The camera work was typical of an Ultra series, with lots of on-rails camera movement, and lots of zooms to highlight the action, but for the most part the choreography felt less complex and somewhat slow.

Nexus contained some really visceral and intense fight sequences throughout, largely highlighted by the Ultra on Ultra fights with Dark Mephisto and to a lesser extent, Dark Faust.

Max on the other hand, featured choreography with a lot of character to it.  The fighting was conducted at essentially the same pace as in Nexus, but given the quirkiness of the storylines, and the overall light tone of the series, much of the choreography allowed the suit actors to do a lot of pantomime that really added to the fun.

Whoever the suit actor for Max was, I’d like to shake their hand.

Although I would be even more honored to shake this man's hand. No, the guy on the right, dumbass.

Despite my general dissatisfaction with the series, Moebius proved popular enough with the kiddies to have a few movie tie-ins, the first of which being Ultraman Moebius & The Ultra Brothers.

I felt it was actually very good, good enough for me to own without feeling shame.

The second one however, Superior Ultra 8 Brothers, was not so hot. Aside from some splashy effects work, I felt like the story was a little bit too fantastical and far fetched, even for little kids.

Oh yeah, and as good as the effects could be at times, the fight between Moebius and King Gesura was embarrassingly hideous to look at. *Shudder* Gives me the willies just thinking about it…

In short, Ultraman Moebius was alright, probably worth watching for most fans, but not really my favorite. Which leads us to a series that I did finish, but really wish I hadn’t…

Ultraseven X was the last “proper” Ultra series, and in my opinion, it’s spectacularly epic shittiness was most likely the reason we haven’t seen an Ultra series since 2007.

It was a miniseries, it tried to be “edgy” and “different”, and for the most part it sucked a big, fat, Blackanese cock.

When I first saw the production stills for the show, I was mightily impressed by the suit design for the title character… and little else. The characters were bland and needlessly quirky, (tough girl with chocolate addiction, huh?) and the theme song was truly terrible ENGLISH J-Rock song that was as forgettable as it was skippable.

From the first trailer it was clear that the show was attempting to create a mood of sorts, unfortunately the costumes, props, and sets were a far cry from the standard set by GARO (FUCK YEAH!) the year before, and thusly, it came across as a pale imitation.

In case you couldn’t tell, Ultraseven X was a fucking disaster.

For an example of pretty much everything shitty about Ultraseven X, click below:

The action was sparse and uninspired and story was convoluted and full of holes despite the condensed length of the series.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack, often times a highlight of any tokusatsu or Ultraman experience, was composed of minimalist, electronic turd-fuckery.

To be fair, Ultraseven X could’ve been alright had it been shot as an Ultra Q series and omitted any traces of Ultraseven or kaiju battles in general, but as it so happened I was left with a seriously sour taste in my mouth after watching it and desperately needed something to cleanse my palette.

Unfortunately, it’s been 3 years and my palette has yet to be cleansed.

Until now.

Now THAT'S a poster!

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE or….. MMBUGLTHM… for short.

Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE came out on DVD today and I am ready to be wowed. Reviews are positive, tickets sales were exceptional, Ultraman Belial looks like Carnage from Spider-Man, and the trailer looks FUCKING SWEET.


Yeah, don’t forget to change your undies cowboy.

I’m sure it’s not the best movie ever.

I’m sure it’s going to drag at points and have a shitty script.

Despite all this, I am excited for to see this movie because deep down, I want to like it.

I don’t want to be a cynical adult that shamefully picks apart the things he loves, I want an excuse to get back into Ultraman and be that kid waking up at 5 AM all over again.

It’s a wonderful feeling, having something to look forward to.

Outside of a brand new Ultra show featuring one of the original Ultras, (an idea I think would be a lot of fun) I can’t think anything that would make me happier than a rip-roaring, epic Ultra movie.

Here’s to fandom. I’ll let you know how the movie was in a few weeks.

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