Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Ghost Rider 2 Trailer Looks… Meh.

I’ve never really considered myself a fan of Ghost Rider.

His design has an undeniable “cool factor” to it, what with the flaming skull and tricked out hellcycle n’shit; but for the most part the actual character of Ghost Rider has never really done it for me.

I grew up occasionally reading Ghost Rider comics, however given my status as a 90’s kid, the stories I ended up getting were of the Daniel Ketch version of the character, not the Johnny Blaze original.

For what it’s worth, I’ve always preferred the Ketch hellcycle to the more Harley Davidson-esque original, however at the same time; most of the Ghost Rider comics I read in my youth failed to leave an impression on me.

Well, except for his pimp-ass fiery Akira-bike.

Maybe it’s just because I read all the wrong books, but in my eyes; Ghost Rider is one of those great ideas, and great designs that rarely gets used properly.

In that sense, it should come as no surprise that the Nic Cage Ghost Rider movie from a few years back stunk something horrible.

The movie was dull and boring, and while the effects work had a surprising amount of love put into it, the physical performances of the title character and his demonic opposition were stiff to the point of being embarrassing.

Maybe it’s just me, but in my mind I don’t picture Ghost Rider moving like Frankenstein after a few dozen choco-laxatives.

"Hold up guys. I have to poop... NOW."

To be fair, I’m guessing the technology used to create the “flaming head” effect was kind of iffy at the time, forcing the actors to restrict their actions to broader and more deliberate movements; but even so, it was more than a little distracting, at least to me.

Batman not being able to turn his head for 18 years is forgivable.

Ghost Rider walking with a rod up his ass and having CGI’ed abs is a whole ‘nother story.

Even Cameron Poe wasn't this cut...

Despite horrid reviews, color me surprised when it was announced awhile back that Marvel would be producing a Ghost Rider sequel titled Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance.

Check out the trailer here:

I really don’t care enough to look up a synopsis for the film, if it exists; but based entirely on the trailer above, the sequel honestly looks like it could surpass the original.

Not that that should be looked upon as any sort of achievement.

Truth be told, I kind of like the new design aesthetic for the Ghost Rider character.

The melting leather jacket, and charred skull add some much needed texture to what was originally kind of a sterile design.

Still not great... But hey, at least this time he can bend his fucking knees.

On top of that, the stunt work looks a little bit more imaginative, largely because; unlike the first film, there actually appear to be stunts at some point in the movie!

I can’t say I’m enthused at the idea of another Ghost Rider movie, however the best compliment I feel I can muster for this trailer is that fact that it doesn’t seem terrible to me.

I’d prefer to see Marvel dump their money into something else, like, I don’t know, A FUCKING MOON KNIGHT MOVIE; but oh well, that’s why they’re the high powered execs/producers and I’m just an unemployed blogger.

Good DVD sales revenue I.E. The Punisher and Ghost Rider, SHOULD NOT drive a studio’s decision making.

The desire to create good product SHOULD.

*AHEM!* Getting back to the subject at hand, in all honesty, the Ghost Rider 2 looks kind of “meh” at this point.

It obviously doesn’t have the funding that Marvel’s A-list character films have been getting as of late, and it has the stigma of being a sequel to a shitty going against it.

To say such a film looks “meh” as opposed to “crappy,” is actually kind of nice when you think about it.

Anyway, fingers crossed for Nic Cage having at least one epic freak-out in this movie, no CG abs, and please God; tell me the fire pissing sequence doesn’t make the final cut of the film.

It was funny when the dog pissed fire to resurrect Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street IV.

It was cool when Gabriel Byrne pissed oil in End of Days.

Ghost Rider peeing flames… Well, not only is it out of character, it’s just plain stupid.

 

Pictured: The most expensive flaming piss sequence in all of film history.

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Marvel’s Movies Are About To Get Weird…

So, at this point pretty much everyone’s excited about The Avengers movie, right?

Well, good, ’cause once that’s come and gone, (roughly by the year 2014) there’s a good chance we’re all gonna’ be in for a shit ton of weird, and potentially awful Marvel films for the forseeable future.

After the dust has settled on all of Marvel’s A-list adaptations, the Spider-Mans and the Avengers related stuff; it’s inevitable that Marvel is going to be forced to branch out, and whore out some of their more obscure characters to the movie industry.

Maybe that means we'll finally see a Sleepwalker movie! Sarcasm: It's For Dinner.

Then again, DC and Warner Bros. Animation have been so weary of producing anything outside of Batman and Superman related projects, that it’s starting to seem kind of pathetic.

Now, it’s hard to deny that superhero movies are, at their core; inherently strange and mildly inaccessible to non-comic fan audiences, but there’s just some characters that work better than others.

For instance, something along the lines of Iron Man is far more likely to succeed, both critically and financially; than something totally fucked up and off-the-wall like….. Oh, I don’t know, MAN-THING.

He's kind of like Swamp Thing. Only y'know, more man and less swamp.

Thus is the reason we will likely end up with an Iron Man trilogy, a Thor trilogy, a Captain America trilogy; and only 1 shitty Elektra film.

While announcements for movies like sequels to the abysmal Ghost Rider, as well as reboots, and sequels to said yet-to-be-released reboots of Spider-Man are somewhat alarming/confusing, the really weird shit comes in the form of the recently announced Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Dr. Strange has never really been my cup of tea when it comes to comic characters, and as such I don’t know much about him or his history; but I can you this:

Dr. Stephen Strange is deus ex machina on 2 fucking legs.

In the world of Marvel comics, “magic” is one of those ongoing plot contrivances that just never really got hammered out to the point of being what one would call “fair.”

Magic does shit in Marvel, and really that’s about the extent of the restraints that have been placed on it’s capability.

Dr. Strange’s magic is like Kenshiro’s Hokuto Shinken, only without the head explosions.

In other words, much in the way Ken can cure cancer and explode body parts using the power of martial arts, Dr. Strange can do ANY FUCKING THING HE NEEDS TO so long as the plot demands he do so.

Special thanks to whoever saved me the time of making this for myself.

This works in the comics, because let’s face it, Dr. Strange is a comic book hero, and his stories are naturally kind of cheesy/stupid, but mostly acceptable given the standards of the medium.

Movies deserving of the same combination of adjectives, even when based on comics, are often easily dismissed by critics and audiences alike.

Best of luck to the screenwriter who has the honor of inevitably toning down Dr. Strange’s power set in favor of injecting drama into the story, only to end up creating a boring film that ends up being hated by all 5 of the the Doc’s hardcore fans for that very reason.

Moving on, as awesome as The Guardians of the Galaxy comic has been over the past 5 years or so, the idea of even trying to do the series justice on film, particularly in regards to it’s earliest storylines; just seems ludicrous.

I double-fucking-dare you to name even one of these guys.

The cosmic universe of Marvel has always been great, but rarely, if ever; accessible to any degree.

Hell, I’ve been reading Marvel comics my whole life and even I have to rely on the index and character biographies in between issues of Annihilation and War of Kings to keep me up to speed.

In short, Guardians of the Galaxy, a story about a ragtag group of warriors from nearly extinct alien races teaming up to save the universe from the monster-of-the-week just doesn’t strike me as something everyone’s gonna’ bite for.

Knowing Hollywood and their fascination with impossibly bankable, wisecracking animal mascots, the whole movie was probably green-lit solely on the marketability of Rocket Raccoon.

Haha! It's funny 'cause he's cute and little but talks like a bad-ass! Sarcasm: It's For Dessert.

I mean yeah, the story has color going for it in the sense that it offers filmmakers the chance to throw lots of flashy effects and unique characters at the audience, but reeling it all in and trying to find a way to do so in a fashion that could be interesting, let alone comprehensible to typical audiences, seems like a near insurmountable task.

Then again, I suppose there’s a reason some screenwriters and filmmakers get paid the big bucks to prove dumb ass bloggers like me wrong from year to year.

Make no mistake, I’m happy to see any comic book movies, good or bad; make it to the theaters, I’m merely venting my skepticism now, so I can eat my own words and blog about how awesome these movies look whenever the first trailers come out.

That being said, I’d just like to say that if Marvel is willing to take the massive risk of making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, then why the fuck don’t they buckle down and make a Moon Knight one!?

I ask you: Who in their right mind WOULDN'T want to see THIS on the big screen!?

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Shadowland Review

Maximum Carnage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictured: The splash in question.

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

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

That being said, what of the actual story?

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

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

 

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

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

Put it this way:

Shadowland is not a suspenseful story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, couldn’t resist…

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

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

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

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

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

...I mentioned there was fighting, right?

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

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

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

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

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

Impressive... Most impressive...

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

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

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

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

For your viewing pleasure, a full page of awesome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Moon Knight’s Shot At The Big Time

Awhile back, I wrote a loving tribute to the delightfully insane D-list Marvel comics hero, Moon Knight.

As a minor member of Marvel’s “street level” crimefighting fraternity, Moon Knight spent most of his career viewed as a Batman rip-off with tonal discrepancies in his various incarnations, as well as some palpable identity issues.

It probably doesn’t help that the character of Moon Knight has often been written as possessing multiple personality disorder.

The point is, Moon Knight has never really been a major player in the Marvel universe.

 

Not like Puck. Puck's a fuckin' baller...

As a New York based crimefighter, he shares turf with Spider-Man, Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and a host of other, more powerful and better known characters.

Sadly, team-ups involving Moon Knight having his book “invaded” by the aforementioned A-listers, have been kind of the norm in the world of Moon Knight, a plot device that, in my opinion; basically means that Marvel has never had enough confidence in the character to allow him to succeed on his own.

That being said, Moon Knight has not been without his moments, particularly within the past decade.

I know I used it before, but this was just so fuckin' awesome...

About 5-6 years ago, author Charlie Huston and artist David Finch managed to breath new life into the Moon Knight character by boosting the R-rated content of his story arcs, and playing on the character’s innumerable inner conflicts by having him struggle with his subconscious in a fashion aping the brilliance of John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.

It represented a major high-point for the character, (or low, if you’re going by the actual content of the storyline) and one that would serve as my formal jumping on point to the Moon Knight bandwagon.

Following Huston’s departure though, Moon Knight would once again fade into relative obscurity, sitting out of most of the major event comics for several years to come; and playing host to storylines that were good, but nowhere near the level of quality that Huston established with his first few stories.

Once the Moon Knight series of the early 2000’s came to a close though, with the “death” of one of Moon Knight’s multiple personalities; things picked up again for another high.

 

Towards the close of the Dark Reign era of Marvel comics, Moon Knight was thrown back onto the shelves with a brand new, more PG-13 image, and a new series entitled Vengeance of the Moon Knight.

 

Motorcycles make anyone look cool...

Said “Vengeance” referred to Moon Knight supposedly seeking to avenge his previous “death” as ordered by Norman Osborn.

Being as Norman Osborn was and always will be a top-tier supervillain, with God knows how many nemeses; the chances of Moon Knight successfully taking him out were approximately 3,720 to 1, however that didn’t stop me from reading the story and loving it.

Featuring a host of some of the better villains in Moon Knight’s rogues gallery, including a newly resurrected Bushman AKA Moonies’ arch nemesis; the story was exceptionally well written by Gregg Hurwitz, as well as brilliantly illustrated by the uber talented Jerome Opena.

 

Not the most relevant of pics, but hey; I don't need a reason to showcase an instance of scarecrow punching.

As seems to be the norm for the ‘ole white knight though, the second arc in the series could barely hold a candle to the first.

Hurwitz remained on board as writer, but Opena jumped ship; and with good reason.

The initial outburst of energy brought on by the new direction of the series faded away, replaced by tedium and, you guessed it; guest appearances from characters like Deadpool.

 

That's right, get your own comic! No wait, he's already got like 6...

While I like Deadpool as much as the next 20-something year old comic fan, (provided he’s got a good writer backing him) his appearance in other character’s books is often a good indication of them having lost their way.

While that series petered out and was cancelled, most likely for the best; Marvel would end up giving Moonie another chance in the form of a spot on the newly formed Secret Avengers team as headed by Steve Rogers AKA Captain America.

From what I’ve heard, that series has been going strong since it’s inception last year, however both Moon Knight and Nova (another hero that doesn’t get enough spotlight) have reportedly served as little more than window dressing.

While Moon Knight has served time on Avengers teams before, this marks the first official team-up I can recall the character engaging in within my lifetime.

It’s bold moves like this that remind me Marvel has yet to lose faith in their crazy white knight.

Given that Mike Deodato is illustrating Secret Avengers, you can bet I’ll be picking it up as soon as it comes out in trade form.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Moon Knight also played minor role in the street level superhero crossover, Shadowland; however I’ve heard nothing but bad about that series, so I’m just going to plead ignorance and gloss over that particularly nasty bit of history…

 

Aw... Sleepy kitty!

Now that the history lesson’s over, we can finally get to the new business of Moon Knight.

Just a few days ago, it was announced that famed comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, as well as the terrific penciller Alex Maleev; would be taking the reigns on a new Moon Knight series beginning this May.

While his writing style can often be immature, and his stories don’t always come together all that cleanly, few can argue that Bendis is one of the best dialogue writers in the business, with an ability to capture character’s voices that is nigh unmatched.

Maleev is not slouch either, with a sharp, moody, and wholly dynamic art style, as well as a host of credits on various Avengers comics and an extended run on Bendis’ critically acclaimed Daredevil series.

 

Yeah, I'd say Mr. Maleev knows what he's doing...

From what I’ve read, the premise that the team is working from, is one that once again plays off of Moon Knight’s multiple personality disorder.

Taking into account Moon Knight’s current status as a Secret Avengers member, Bendis plans on having the character’s personality issues manifest in the form of taking on the behavior and personalities of his teammates.

In essence, the idea is that Moon Knight’s inherent insanity and unpredictably will be turned up to 11 in this series, with him assuming the characteristics of heroes like Wolverine, Spider-Man, and presumably Captain America based on the promotional image at the beginning of this article.

While this sounds a little tongue-in-cheek for my tastes, I can’t deny that the idea of a man running around thinking he’s indestructible, or thinking that he comes from the mythical kingdom of Asgard; will probably make for a fun read.

Assigning Bendis to write a Moon Knight series will grant the character unparalleled exposure and presence among casual comic book fans, a luxury that few D-list heroes ever get to experience, regardless of the breadth of publishing history they may possess.

Given the character’s questionable track record thus far, I don’t doubt that the series could indeed flop; however with such big names attached, I’m nothing if not hopeful for it’s success.

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Tooting My Own Horn…

*In lieu of my family’s traditional New Year’s dinner of pork and sauerkraut (Apparently it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch thingDon’t ask…) being pushed back to this evening, I’ve decided to forego a legit posting tonight in favor of a neat little “year in review” that WordPress made for me.  Enjoy, I know I sure did!*

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 64,000 times in 2010. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would have performed about 3 times.

In 2010, there were 250 new posts, not bad for the first year!

The busiest day of the year was October 29th with 3,439 views. The most popular post that day was Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were reddit.com, facebook.com, kotaku.com, kungfucinema.com, and minecraftforum.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for donnie yen, cecilia cissy wang, broly, moon knight, and guyver.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post) October 2010
2 comments

2

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VI – Old Man Yen May 2010

3

Movie Review: Undisputed 3: Redemption June 2010
3 comments

4

Vejita Has a Brother!!? September 2010
2 comments

5

Moon Knight, Thank You For Being So Freakin’ Crazy. May 2010

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Batman’s New Threads

I was clickin’ around on IGN earlier today, when I noticed an article in their comics section entitled, “Batman Has A New Costume.”

Being a Batman enthusiast, I naturally clicked it, half-expecting some sort of shocking redesign along the lines of Batman 500 AKA the Jean-Paul Valley Batman from the Knightfall story arc.

Pictured: The EXACT image that got me into comics in the early 90's.

You see, though I admittedly haven’t followed Grant Morrison’s recent work on the Batman series, least of all the death and return of Bruce Wayne portion of it, with all of the outlandish Batman costume designs being thrown around as of late, I figured we were due for even more craziness.

Goddamnit! I hella' wanna' hate on this image for being dumb, but it's so damn awesome!

Color me surprised when I discovered that not only was the costume redesign a helluva’ lot more tasteful than I was expecting, it was also done by Moon Knight and, *sigh…* Messiah Complex artist David Finch was responsible for it.

As beautiful as his art can be, GODDAMN YOU DAVID FINCH FOR TRICKING ME INTO READING MESSIAH COMPLEX!

That being said, let’s take a look at Mr. Finch’s work:

ART.

I have to say, not just as a David Finch whore, but as a Batman fan in general, I really don’t mind the new costume.

Most of the changes are quite subtle, with some elements, such as the classic; almost Tim Burton Batman-esque yellow chest emblem, actually being recycled elements from previous designs of the Bat-Suit.

Keaton Batman: The Finest Batman the Silver Screen Has Yet to Produce.

In some images I’ve run across, it seems apparent that DC was trying to cash in on the recent mega-success of the Arkham Asylum videogame, as both the beefier arm guards/gauntlets, the bulkier and more heavily ornamented utility belt, and the molded seam-lines of the suit seem very similar to the art style of the game.

No, the Joker is not about to suck Batman's cock. Buncha' dirty sickos...

Which reminds me, I simply have to play Arkham Asylum at some point…

The seam-lines I mentioned above are probably the one aspect of the design that I’m on the fence about.

How appropriate that that just happens to be the single most noticeable change from the current status quo.

To me, the best Bat-Suit designs have always been the ones that take advantage of the 2D, pen and paper medium.

Blue Batman = THE SHIT.

In comics, the artist has the ability to manufacture images of characters without having to take into consideration the physical properties of whatever materials their costumes are made of.

Depending on the artist’s sensibilities, or the mood of the story, Batman’s cape and cowl can be rendered as smooth and voluminous as silk, or as heavy and lustrous as leather.

Kind of like Spawn! You're not allowed to ask "why," you just kind of accept it...

In comics, Batman’s costume usually looks best to me when it’s portrayed as a skin-tight presence surrounding the character.

To me, Batman usually looks best when he isn’t so much wearing a Bat-Suit, as he is embodying it.

Jim Lee’s Batman always struck me as a fantastic, if not ludicrously beefy design.

Jim Lee's Batman is so fucking beastly, it should be spelt "Bat-MAAAANNN."

Aside from the utility belt and heavily detailed boots, every element of Lee’s Bat-Suit strike me as essentially being a part of Bruce Wayne’s anatomy.

At the same time though, I have to say I was very impressed with Lee Bermejo’s rendering of the Bat-Suit in Brian Azzarello’s excellent Joker graphic novel.

Not from Joker, but close enough. Did I mention this art is badass?

Essentially at the other end of the spectrum in terms of costume/character design, Bermejo’s extremely realistic renderings resulted in a Bat-Suit of tangible weight and bulk, so much so that it truly seemed like a suit of armor.

Not only that, but Bermejo’s design of Batman’s cape was truly striking, as it appeared leathery and almost obscenely heavy, such that it assisted in portraying the character as being almost inhumanly powerful and omniscent.

I’m rambling.

To sum up, Finch’s design of the Bat-Suit is honestly only a mild departure from the status quo, but it’s amazing how much an impact a few seam-lines can make.

Personally, I find the new design to be, how shall we say; “acceptable,” I wouldn’t be surprised if those seam-lines get the axe somewhere down the road, as honestly I find them to be somewhat distracting.

Much like pie... If anything can stop me in my tracks, it's the sight and/or smell of a delicious pie...

To me, it’s almost as if Finch is trying to straddle the line behind the Christopher Nolan movie’s Bat-Armor design, and the comic’s traditional Bat-Suit, with the end result being a costume that appears almost flight suit-ish.

So what if Batman has brown-guy hands. I'm lazy, so sue me.

While I find the design to be acceptable, I’ll end by saying this:

I’d take Jim Aparo or Jim Lee’s streamlined Bat-Suit over David Finch’s Bat-Flight-Suit any day.

That being said, here’s one more look at it for the road:

Cool enough, but nowhere Bat-MAAAANN levels of MAN-liness.

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Favorite Cover Artists: Francesco Mattina

Mattina does Batman.

While I can’t say I know a whole lot about Francesco Mattina other than the fact that he’s Italian, I do know this:

He makes some damn spiffy comic book covers.

While it must be said that he isn’t the most flexible of artists, as he’s been utilizing essentially the same style/aesthetic for as long as I’ve known of him, when it comes to what he does, there aren’t many that can challenge him.

Yes, not even the hairy Canadian.

So, I guess you’re probably wondering, what is it that Mr. Mattina does?

Put simply, he does artwork of the “darker” variety.

He does gritty:

DAMN.

He does awesome:

DOUBLE-DAMN!

And more often than not, he does it all while sticking to the dynamic and macho figure renderings and poses that have embodied superhero comics since their inception.

Thank you Google Images for lising Razor Ramon under the search terms "dynamic machismo."

Despite this though, one of the key strengths to his artwork, is his eye for composition.

Much like Marko Djurdjevic, (who will most certainly be making an appearance in this series of posts) Francesco Mattina quite obviously has a background in graphic design, resulting in the vast majority of his covers being eye-catching not just for the gorgeous artwork, but also for the creative and enticing layouts.

Take a look at this for example:

I know, it's Deadpool. Stop sucking his cock, fanboy. He's not THAT cool...

Aside from his compositions, his color work is flat-out amazing.

Most of his work has a sort of metallic looking sheen on it that gives everything a unique and lively look that emphasizes motion and atmosphere.

A little bit TOO Michael Bay Transformers-ish, but still cool nonetheless.

I also appreciate how, much like Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver, Francesco Mattina also favors a slightly more realistic approach to the anatomy of his characters.

Not only that, I also find myself consistently impressed by some of his interpretations of certain character’s costume designs, as his photo-realistic style forces a level of detail that results in many of the costumes being rendered in a more believable, and therefore, practical; fashion.

Azrael, looking absolutely the best he ever has.

On a completely unrelated note, I couldn’t help but notice that his interpretation of Nova’s armor is alarming close to Richard Gyuo’s from Guyver:

Nova...

Gyuo...

Anyway, I first ran across Francesco Mattina when I was first considering getting into the Thunderbolts comic.

Truth be told, Mattina and Marko Djurdjevic’s work on that series was probably the biggest deciding factor in me picking up that book.

I’m oh so happy I did.

Anyway, I’m running out of steam, so I’ll just finish with this awesome, and brand spankin’ new Moon Knight cover:

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Crossovers and Event Comics, Goddamnit…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good God what a juvenile pile of suck...

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

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

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

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

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

As a kid, I really liked Fatal Attractions.

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

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

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

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

WORST. COMIC. EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

...Unlike this kid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A truly great fucking cover.

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

It was self-contained.

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

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

The original Ocean's 11 of comic books.

I own maybe 3 event comics including the Infinity Gauntlet.

The other 2 are Civil War and World War Hulk.

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

Now imagine a whole book of THIS.

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

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

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

Did I mention Steve McNiven was a good artist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did I do this?

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

WORST COMIC EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR MK. 2

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

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

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

A WHOLE FUCKING ROW OF PAPER THIN PURPLE BOOK SPINES.

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

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

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

...Sure, why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Moon Knight, Thank You For Being So Freakin’ Crazy.

Marvel Comic’s Moon Knight is fucking badass.

Until recently, Moon Knight was always just a niche hero to me, a cheesy Batman clone with a cool costume and D-List villains to go with his D-List superpowers.

Moon Knight's gadgets range from a spermicidal bodysuit, to a portable stripper pole.

By the way, his “powers” consist of augmented strength in synch with the phase of the moon.

Oh yeah, and his “powers” don’t work anymore.

And his fighting technique is described as “hurting peoples fists with his face.”

Kind of like these guys.

So why is it that I like Moon Knight anyway?

About a month ago, I read my first Moon Knight story, and I’m kicking myself for having waited so long to do so.

It wasn’t until November 2009, when I saw Jerome Opena’s incredible interior artwork in the current “Vengeance of the Moon Knight” series, that I made the conscious decision to find a nice jumping off point to start reading Moon Knight.

Yeah, it's cheesy, but goddamn I love it!

Hell, I figured that, if the art was that good, Moon Knight had to be doing something right over the years.

My first Moon Knight story came in the form of the Charlie Huston’s 2006 relaunch of the series, “The Bottom.”

“The Bottom” was a violent and gritty character study of Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight.

Marc Spector: The Avenging Hobo.

Let it be known, that when it comes to “violent” and “gritty,” David Finch’s artwork is a perfect match.

Oh yeah, make sure to add “stylish” to that pile of adjectives too, ’cause yeah, Mr. Finch does stylish, and he does it well.

Even when he’s drawing stuff for that pile of ass-fuckery, X-Men: Messiah Complex.

Pictured: Messiah Complex.

Seriously, fuck Messiah Complex.

Fuck it with fire.

And rhinoceros cock.

And a dental dam.

Hmm, sexual....

ANYWAY, “The Bottom” begins with Spector crippled and dispirited due to horrible injuries inflicted on him by his lifelong nemesis, The Bushman.

You see!? THIS is what happens when you give cocaine to Joe Pesci!

The Bushman and Spector were originally partners in crime in a mercenary unit during the Gulf War, (in the original, 1970’s version, they were in Southeast Asia) however due to moral differences, they’ve been at each others throats ever since.

In any case, Bushman throws Moon Knight off a roof, shattering his legs in the process.

No way in hell this guy didn't get paid to take this photo. Douche-Rocket...

Despite this, Moon Knight manages to stay in the fight long enough to, literally, cut Bushman’s face off.

"I want to cut his faaaaaace... Off."

Did I mention that Moon Knight was badass?

It was moments like this that cemented my love and appreciation for Moon Knight.

That and the fact that Moon Knight is perhaps the only “superhero” I’ve ever read, that was completely bat-shit crazy.

I mean, check out his bio:

He’s a former mercenary that hated his father, got shot to shit in the Middle East during the 90’s, then found himself brought back from the dead to serve as the earthly avatar for Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon and, apparently, vengeance.

At least that’s what he thinks anyway.

As Moon Knight, Spector is unforgivingly brutal and over-the-top in how he handles criminals.

Trust me, that red shit ain't strawberry jam...

Early on in The Bottom, Spector makes a side-comment regarding his status as a street-level crime fighter, something along the lines of:

“Someone has to do this, someone has to do the fun stuff.”

That sums up Moon Knight pretty well.

He’s the living embodiment of vengeance.

He regards the very concept of it as spiritual, holy.

To him, busting heads and cutting bitches, no matter how inconsequential or petty, is like going to evening mass.

Mr. Ike Turner here knows what I'm talkin' 'bout.

I gotta’ say, it feels sick of me to think it, but I love reading Moon Knight, because deep down I know his moral compass, his concept of justice, are both totally fucking wrong.

Try saying that about your average superhero.

"Superman, you're WRONG! You're... Oh, I can't stay mad at you Christopher Reeve. You handsome devil, you."

In “The Bottom,” Huston cleverly makes use of the fallen (and still faceless) corpse of The Bushman to serve as a representation of Khonshu’s influence on his thinking.

Think it as an homage to the “Jack” character in An American Werewolf in London.

Oh Jack, you were alive what, 10 minutes of the movie?

Spector’s interactions with Khonshu serve as a highlight to the story on many levels.

From them, we learn that Spector is conflicted with his identity as Khonshu’s servant, as well as the fact that Khonshu may or may not be a manifestation of Spector’s own mind.

From what I’ve read, Marc Spector was originally written as having multiple personalities, and in many ways, I feel that Charlie Huston managed to do more by simply alluding to this, than in actually implementing it as a plot point.

In The Bottom, we learn that Spector’s support system, his Alfred Pennyworth and Barbara Gordon, have left him due to his “retirement” and general lack of self-worth.

And if THIS is the only way you know these characters, you can go right ahead and continue to suck cock.

If you don’t know who either of those two characters are, get the fuck off my blog.

Seriously folks, it’s fucking Batman.

If you don’t know FUCKING BATMAN, then congratulations, your life has been a big waste.

Anyway, back to Moon Knight…. Yah, bunch of retards.

For the most part, I was very impressed by Charlie Huston’s handling of the ancillary characters in Moon Knight’s universe.

From his use of them, I felt I got to know them, and their respective histories with Marc Spector, without them ever having to come into play in the main storyline.

By stories’ end of course, Marc Spector again assumes the mantle of the Moon Knight, leading to a confrontation with a stunningly original villain, The Profile, who has the ability to literally “read” people with pinpoint accuracy.

Now THAT, is one sketchy motherfucker. Seriously, he looks like a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and Donnie Brasco. Oh wait, that's Johnny Depp.

Oh yeah, and the always enjoyable Taskmaster also makes an appearance as during the climax of the story in a rare, action-heavy role.

Goddamn, Taskmaster is pimp...

Despite the bombast of the Moon Knight’s return to ass-kicking form, the ending ultimately turns out bittersweet for our hero, as he finds himself still under Khonshu’s thumb, friendless and without even himself to trust.

Unlike THIS GUY. THIS GUY knows EXACTLY what he's doing...

“The Bottom” was a riveting experience that goes all too well with my collection of MAX Punisher and Thunderbolts books.

Violent, and full of questionable morals and stellar artwork to boot, Moon Knight is fucking awesome.

These days I’m reading “Midnight Sun,” the second volume in the 2006 Moon Knight series.

And so far, I’m still loving it.

Charlie Huston drops off as writer after this volume, as does artist David Finch, so I’m not sure the series will retain it’s quality after this point, but even so, I’ll be happy with just the two books regardless.

My “Moon Knight Plan” after reading “The Bottom” was always to read Huston’s work, and then move on to the first arc of the brand new “Vengeance of the Moon Knight,” then maybe give the new Secret Avengers a try.

After all, “Vengeance” apparently deals with the resurrection of The Bushman via the combined efforts of The Profile and The Hood, so I guess by the time I start reading that, I’ll be all caught up anyway.

Yup, it's true, nobody stays dead in comics.

Anyway, enough gushing and comic bullshit, have a good night everyone.

Hopefully we’ll hit 500 hits tomorrow, that’d be a milestone worth celebrating, right?

With that, I leave you with this awesome (and officially published!) Moon Knight cover in which our heroes battles a pair of Luchadores.

In a word: AWESOME.

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