Posts Tagged ‘marvel’

A warning that this review will contain spoilers to both this and to Batman vs Superman!

So…Justice League! A film many have waited so many years do. A film with such a legacy in terms of the comics and characters that many wondered if it could ever get made. Well it did get made and it split critics in two. One side said it was terrible, while the other actually quite liked it. Where do I sit? Well read on to find out.

Following on shortly after the climax of BVS (batman vs superman) Justice League starts with Bruce Wayne tracking down the people he saw in the ‘secret’ computer file in the hopes of recruiting them to his super team. For those who havnt seen BvS he is looking for Arthur Curry aka. Aquaman, Barry Allen aka. Flash and Victor Stone aka. Cyborg. He kinda already has Diana on his team and superman,well we all know what happened to superman… He died.

If the death of superman wasn’t enough, the big threat Bruce was warned of in BvS is on his way to destroy everything in the villain called Steppenwolf (not to be confused with the rock band of the same name). Everyone must unite to defeat this threat and save the Earth.

Before the film was made many people, myself included, thought the main villain was going to be Darkseid (a god of extreme power) instead of his uncle Steppenwolf, but I guess this way if they made a sequel Darksid would have reason to hate the League. Although an odd choice it does work and he is a cool bad guy that has enough power for the League to have issues. He has the problem a lot of villains have in superhero films in that we are meant to understand everything about him and his power in the space of one film. Most of this is summed up in a single montage sequence that explains the last time all races came together to stop him. It’s done in an ok fashion but I would say it was hsdled as well as it could be been.

The same issue flows through to some of our hero’s. If the viewer had never heard of Cyborg, you get very little backstory to him or really his motivations. He is used more here as a plot device not a strong superhero. To a lesser extent we get the same with Aquaman and Flash. Flash in the film is reduced to an immature joke making fool (Thank you Mr Whedon) while Aquaman is essentially a heavy metal surfer. The latter works pretty well, the former does not.

The big problem is the terrible comedic relief courtesy of the once great director Joss Whedon. He feels the need to lighten the brilliant dark tone of BvS with some awful direction and writing (to be fair it’s what he was hired for but he could be done a better job) He also felt these to put in pointless yet film damaging scenes such as the awful phone footage of superman at the start which plays no purpose other then showing the audience superman was a good guy (as next time we see him he’s trying to kill stuff.) If only the studios would have gone with Snyder’s original much darker vision. We could have had something truly special. But instead we have half a dark DC movie and half a Joss Whedon mess. For those who believe it the other way round fair enough, but I genuinely believe whedon last great thing was Serenity (which was a massive step up from Firefly). It’s just sad. I guess if it was an entirely Joss Whedon film we would at least have a consistent film. As it stands it’s a mess. Albeit a mess I for the most part did enjoy.

The film also feels far too short to everything that’s crammed in. I would have preferred a 3 hour long film that fully fledged everything out. The pacing again comes from the 2 different directors and it’s easy to see who filmed what. Any piece that flows with a piece of music seamlessly is the work of Snyder. Any piece that’s layered heavily with Danny Elfman’s (albeit great) score is Whedon. It doesn’t really gel at any point and it really hurts the film because if it.

Acting-wise everyone does their part pretty well. You can see some are hindered by script issues but they try their best. Lots have faulted Affleck’s performance but I quite like his take on an older more tired batman. It’s definitely a step up from the 2nd two Christian Bale performances. I love Jason Momoa’s heavy metal inspired, surfer dude Aquaman. Gone are the days if the Aquaman who merely talks to fish like a Dr Dolittle of the sea.

As a film it is really fun and does move from set piece to set piece at a rapid rate. It’s a shame it’s not more like BvS as that truly nailed being a mature grown up comic book movie, whereas this is more akin to the lighter fluff marvel pumps out regularly each year. There is a rather silly bit (sillier then the rest) featuring a robot spider vehicle. That part wasn’t so good. For the most part the other set pieces are pretty great if a little staged at times. When the league are all battling together it gives hints of a much grander and better film.

One day We may see the ‘proper’ cut of the film Zack Snyder set out to make. Until then we have to make do with the flawed yet highly enjoyable mess. It may not be the film fans wanted but it’s the film we got.

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This is a review that I should have written a long time ago as this is the book that got me back into reading ‘Marvel’ after many years reading Image, Top Cow and 2000ad publications.  Maybe it was the idea of a strong female character that has flaws and a dark side that appealed to me much. The character of X-23 was slightly reminiscent of the lead females in the Top Cow publications Witchblade and Aphrodite IX which I had been reading at the time. Whatever it was that drew me to the story, I am so happy I gave it a read as none of the magic has diminished over the years.
The story tells the beginnings of the character X-23 and shows how she was raised to be a killing machine, a monster for the government. It’s a far darker story then I was previously used to from Marvel as it touches on some important mental issues while focusing on the darker more sinister side of human nature. The story’s portrayal of some of these issues is far more realistic then the usual superhero fluff, with some of them making the reader truly think and question what’s happening. It’s quite a bleak story with very little in the way of brightness at the end of the 6 issue tunnel. If anything, it gets progressively darker as it progresses to its unforgettably powerful climax.  Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost have created a stunningly well written story that packs so much into the six issues that it’s very hard to fault.  The pacing of the story is carried across with an almost film-like quality to its flow. It balances the deep character driven story with some truly stunning action set pieces in an astonishingly well written way.
The characters are as equally well crafted, each with a purpose driving them forward in the story. This allows for some true emotion to run through the pages that never feels forced or out of place. I’d argue that our lead character of the story isn’t as one would expect X-23. Instead it’s more about Dr Sarah Kinney and her observations and feelings towards her daughter. The story is told from her point of view, from the point of view of a mother watching her daughter being crafted into a monster. The narration feels much like it is directed at X-23 with Kinney explaining the reasons for what’s been done to her and how truly sorry she is.  Seeing the story through Kinney’s eyes adds so much emotion and power to what’s going on, it’s hard not to get caught up into her pain and suffering.
X-23/Laura Kinney is such a brilliant character. This being her first solo series it was made to turn her into a strong relatable individual and in that it succeeds. Prior to this she made her first appearance in the ‘X-men Evolutions’ animated series, with her first comic debut in issue 3 of the series ‘NYX’. She made such an impression in these two small appearances that it was only natural for Marvel to try her out in her own series.  One of the things I truly love about her is how she’s been crafted from a mental stand point. She murders people because she’s told to but she at heart knows it wrong. Since she was born, she has been manipulated into this monstrosity and there is little she can do to escape it. It’s a side of human psychology that isn’t often touched on in this amount of detail in mainstream comics. The people in the labs see her as this monster they can use when at heart she is a troubled teenage girl struggling with real issues and some quite deep depression. She feels so fleshed out and three-dimensional that she could easily be based on a real person.
Before reading this, I had never read a comic where I had felt that almost all of the characters could be real people. If you got away with the claws, X-23 could easily be a person that would perfectly integrate into today’s society and youth culture.
The amount of emotion shown in each comic panel is amazing especially when the emotion is shown through X-23’s eyes. In reality people say that the eyes are the window to the soul and to a certain extent I’d agree. The eyes of a person can tell you so much about how they are really feeling and what they are thinking. This comic achieves this level of power through Billy Tan’s remarkable illustrations. Never have I seen so much power in the eyes of a comic character. This is what helps elevate the character above the usual two-dimensional entities comics are usually filled with.  The art is impeccable with very little that can be faulted. Everything from the page layouts to the character designs is near perfect.
If I had one minor niggle it would be that I’ve never been keen on X-23’s feet claws. I’ve always found them a bit out of place and silly looking. This is just my own personal opinion and I feel like they work to an extent. It’s by no means a major negative to anything to do with the story; I would have just preferred the character to just have the elegant twin claws on each hand.
After rereading this six issue series I am reminded of why it re-kickstarted my true love for Marvel comics. It’s a phenomenal masterpiece of storytelling and is as close to perfection as you can get in both story and art.  For me this is the comic that all others aspire to be like. I would even go as far to say that this is my favourite comic title of all time. It is no surprise that I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good story and an amazingly good time. Check it out, You won’t regret it.

Do you remember the time when comics came out and were simply there to be bought and read? I do and it doesn’t feel that long ago (but that could be because when I was young I didn’t see the over the top lengths some people would go to get a single issue). Either way I kind of miss those days.
For me a comic is meant to be read. That’s the purpose of one being written and released , is it not? Well these days it seems the line between those buying to read and those buying for profit is very much leaning towards the latter. Now, I can’t say I don’t collect older titles and variant covers (I’ll get onto these soon) but most of the ones I buy, I buy because they either remind me of my youth or they fall into criteria’s that I collect.  I rarely buy comics to turn around for profit. If I do sell issues that is either because I no longer enjoy them or I desperately need money. But even then I would prefer to sell a comic for a low price to someone I know would get enjoyment out of it rather than someone who would just flip it again higher.
You could argue what is the ultimate point of collecting in the first place? That is a question that has always been in the forefront of my mind. I see people spending thousands on a single comic which is merely a few bits of stapled paper with artwork and story on. Doesn’t it seem silly? How many people actually read through their whole collections when they have hundreds of issues? And if you do have something worth thousands, would you risk reading it and decreasing its value?
The whole world of comic collecting has gone crazy and with the influx of comic book films it’s only gotten worse.  When these comics originally came out they were to read and for people to enjoy. It was a new means for telling a story and to get across new kinds of stories. But something changed and its become a large money sucking business with comics once costing mere cents and pence selling for hundreds, thousands and sometimes even millions .
WHY?
It is kind of disgusting in a way as the artists and the writers who actually did all the work, will never see any of the further proceeds of these comics. And at these prices do the comics themselves not lose all meaning? It just becomes a show of who has money and who can show off the most. I like buying old comics as I like the cover artwork for a lot of them (especially the old ‘Tales From The Crypt’ comics form the 50’s) The ones I that managed to get hold of, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed in a way that I never feel with comics these days. What would be the point of buying them and never reading them and just having them sit in a storage box? There is none.
This is why I see little point in the whole CGC grading of comics. I have personally had some things graded and I have no idea why. People seem to think ‘if they are in a sealed box then they must be better’, but in my view they really aren’t. it all comes back to the reason that a comic is made. You can’t read something that is sealed away can you? The other thing worth noting is the fact that the comic can still degrade while in the case so it kind of nullifies any point of having it done if preservation is all you care about. I personally try and buy comics ungraded, as this way I can flip through them and enjoy the time and effort that has been put into creating it.
This leads me onto the whole ‘variant cover’ scene. It just seems to be a thing created for collectors who want to collect them as collectors’ items. It’s kind of odd when you think about it as most of these issues are sold as such and most will be put into collections, but what is the point other than garnering to the completest in all of us? The internal comic is the exact same so why do these different covers vary in price so much? I like some of these covers as I dislike the normal one, but the same is true the other way round sometimes. By advertising the comics as variants it also encourages some people to buy all of ones they see to sell on for profit which again to me is no different from scalpers selling over-priced concert tickets. This leads to the people actually wanting to read them not being able to at a reasonable price.
Variants serve no real purpose. They really don’t unless you look at it from the perspective as the ones making them. It does allow more work for artists but I guess it all comes down to the fact that companies know they can sell them. Just look at Star Wars. The new comic had around 100 different variant covers when it was released. Is this not a little extreme?  Spider-Gwen is also gaining new covers each day it seems and all of them are rocketing up in price even before the comic is released. It’s worrying that this is the state of things now.
I did go through a phase where I wanted to collect for the possibility of issues being worth more in the future but then I realised how silly that was. And how against the fundamentals of why a comic is made it was.  I have got some comics that I am guilty of not reading due to me being worried about devaluing them and it does anger me, but at the same time I plan on having them frames up on a wall as I love the covers. I want to enjoy them as artwork (not quite how originally planned but at least I am still having the enjoyment of seeing them).
It’s a very awkward environment to be in as you see things that you really want but when you actually break it down and thin why, most of the time it can’t be justified.  I recently was in a comic forum where someone was selling 4 comics for £100 and someone said this was a good price. To me a good price would be the cover price to someone who would actually sit, read and enjoy the comics for what they are. This is when I start truly questioning what the point is… Especially when it hard to stroll into a comic shop to look at new releases when all of an issue has been bought to be scalped.  The most recent example of this is ‘Silk #1’ which sold out in many places almost instantly and then weirdly hundreds of issues appear on the internet at three times the price. For those who actually want to read the comic that just seems unfair.
It’s something that will hopefully change in the coming years. I hope that prices come crashing down and people realise the mistakes they’ve made spending for profiteering sake.  I will say again that I am not innocent to all this as I have bought comics to sell on in the past, but looking back I am disgusted partially in myself. You have to think hard about where you lie in the matter and if you know you can make a quick buck. Like everything, the industry and its followers are trying to make as much money as they can, not caring how much damage they do in the process.
I guess the basic point to my entire rant, is that I feel that many people have forgotten why comics are made and that is to be read and enjoyed.  Am I never going to sell on for profit again? I can’t promise I won’t when I know I could get more, but I know that if it’s to someone that I know will read it I would more than likely give it to them or let them have it for the price of postage.
My advice;
BUY, READ, PASS ON (for whatever you paid, or as a gift or simply for the price of postage), REPEAT!

madrox-david-e1430104854661.jpgFor those who have never heard of Jaime Madrox (much like myself before reading this) he is the Multiple man. A mutant capable of creating an almost limitless number of copies of duplicates of himself. Sounds like an awesome power doesn’t it? Well it comes with a catch. He can’t control it. It simply happens when his body receives some kind of reasonable impact. It can be as simple as hitting a wall or being punched.  It also doesn’t help that each of these duplicates contain different segments of Jamie’s personality, which generally leads to chaos and arguments ensuing as he fights with himself (literally) to get jobs done.
After the semi- disbandment of X-Factor (the sister group to ‘the X-Men’), around the time of the events of ‘House of M’, Jamie Madrox decides  to start up a private detective business in the aptly named ‘Mutant Town’ (a place of refuge for some of the few remaining mutants after Scarlett Witch’s wish). He along with his former X-Factor teammates ‘Wolfsbane’ and ‘Strong Guy’  take on all manner of cases, nothing’s too big and nothings too small, as long as it pays the bills.
This is where the 5 issue mini-series begins. The story requires no real previous understanding of who the characters are and works as a great starting point into this more gritty side of marvel.  The story feels fresh and even if some parts are quite predictable, is consistently readable and different enough from the usual ‘superhero’ fare that it stands out magnificently.
The story is narrated by Jaimie and feels just how it aims to, like an old noir thriller from the 1950’s. yes it’s set in a modern environment but it harks back and pays homage to the genre brilliantly. It has the same story beats, the same thought-provoking narration, the same downtrodden detective and even has a femme fatale.  What more could you ask for.
All of the characters are brilliantly fleshed out and feel as three-dimensional as two dimensional characters can.  All have their weaknesses and it is these that build them. The largest of these is Jamie’s fear of what life is all about as he no longer knows where he belongs.  He has the ability to go down as many routes as he likes simultaneously (which he regularly does) and has the ability to know anything his duplicates learn.   It’s a fascinating character study and brings up some interesting questions about life.
The art throughout the 5 issues is fantastic although I can see why it may not be to everyone’s tastes. It is a rough and gritty style that for me echoes the tone of the amazing story written by the fantastic Peter David.
I cannot praise this mini-series enough. It’s both a brilliant starting point to the world of X-Factor, while also being a clever standalone story that feels constantly fresh and interesting. So if you feel like trying something a little different than the usual superhero fluff of recent years, give this a go and I hope you’ll find a deep, character driven detective story which stands above the crowd with some amazing writing and some fantastic art.
-It is included in the ‘X-Factor complete collection: volume 1’ as well as the first 12 issues of X-Factor investigations-

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Daredevil is one of those heroes that pretty much passed me by as I was growing up. He didn’t have the immediate draw of heroes like Spiderman and Wolverine – not much seemed to happen, and the stories didn’t feature as much in the way of sheer spectacle as the other comics around. I didn’t exactly avoid reading his comics, I just didn’t go out of my way to read them – I guess the appeal of a blind superhero whose main power is to see was just kinda lost on me.
Then, in 2003, the Daredevil movie was released, and I started to think he might not be quite as boring as I first thought. After watching and enjoying the film, I decided to pick up the book Daredevil: Guardian Devil, by Kevin Smith. The story felt familiar, but much darker than the likes of Spiderman and X-Men. I absolutely loved it.
The years passed, and I decided it was time to revisit the character and see what was happening. By that point Brian Michael Bendis had already started his classic Daredevil run, and it was fantastic. Everything worked, from the characters, to the art, to the story. The series that brought Marvel comics into the real world, and still one of the most realistic of their franchises, for me it was almost faultless, and called to mind the darker human conflicts that echo throughout comics like Batman.  It also helped that some of the art was by David Mack, one of the finest artists in comics, whose work is so beautifully haunting it lingers in the mind.
I was sad to see the end of Bendis’ run, even though Daredevil was being left in the capable hands of Ed Brubaker and later, Mark Waid. Although still consistently good, nothing ever quite matched the perfection that Bendis brought to the title, and I hoped he would come back. These hopes were answered in 2012.
Daredevil: End of Days is an eight part mini-series written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack. With art by Daredevil veteran Klaus Jansen, and ink by Bill Sienkiewicz, it’s the perfect combination of everything that’s made Daredevil great over the years.
So, let’s get the major spoiler-filled elephant out of the room right now. On page four of issue one, Daredevil is killed. Yep that’s right. Set in the near future, this book focuses on reporter Ben Ulrich’s (one of Daredevil’s true friends) investigation and report on who Daredevil was and why he was killed. It sets up the story fantastically well, and is incredibly brutal. In Ulrich, Bendis and Mack have created the perfect guide to lead us on a fascinating journey into the dark, gritty world these characters inhabit, and into the soul of ‘the man without fear’
Throughout the story we see cameos from countless other Marvel heroes, who all seem far more grounded then in their own books. The characterisation throughout is stunning, and ranks up there with the best of the best in fiction. This is especially evident in the fact that we find out far more about the depths of Daredevil’s character and mind then we’ve ever previously seen, despite the fact that he isn’t really in this book much in person. In a way, you could even compare the series to the phenomenal cinematic masterpiece that is Orsen Welles’ Citizen Kane, with both featuring a mystery set up by the dying protagonist, which leads the other characters on their journey through the world.
Such an amazing story deserves great art to back it up, and here you can’t fault it.  Each panel could be a painting in a gallery. It feels so fresh in its haunting beauty, yet so familiar. That said, the art may be an acquired taste, being much grittier in palette and a lot more scratchy in pen style than the everyday bright, bold Marvel art comic fans may be used to.
As you can probably tell, Daredevil: End of Days is my favourite Marvel comic, and I expect it will be for some time. It has a gripping story, great characters and faultless art, and it’s a 100% must-read for any fan of Daredevil. I’d even go as far to say it’s a must-read for anyone who likes a thinking-man’s story that isn’t all about action and massive set-pieces. For me, it’s the perfect end to the best interpretation of Daredevil there has ever been.