My choice for best monthly comic book series for 2008 is Captain America. I am not a professional reviewer. I don’t get paid to read every comic book from every company that comes out month-to-month. I collect only a handful titles every month because that’s all I can afford - and all of those titles consist of DC and Marvel comics. So before anyone starts complaining about this book was better, etc, etc, I am only giving you my opinion and I welcome any and all disagreements, but from what I read this year Captain America was by far the best and most consistent month-to-month title published this year.
It’s almost been a year since Mephisto took his magic pencil and erased the Spider-Marriage from the minds of the Marvel Universe. The benefit of the magical reboot was a “Brand New Day” for Peter Parker, where no one remembers he’s Spider-Man, allowing creators to retell stories from the seventies in a modern setting. A crucial element of this reboot was the resurrection of Harry Osborn.
For months we have wondered how Marvel was going to explain Harry’s sudden reappearance and in number 581 we got an explanation that made us wonder why Marvel needed Mephisto in the first place.
I know this has been a complaint from everyone over the past few years, but with the Wolverine trailer hitting the net, I felt it was time to mention it here on Comix 411. There are too many comic books that feature or guest star Wolverine.
Wolverine currently has three on going monthly series: “Wolverine,” “Wolverine: Origins,” and “Wolverine: First Class”. He also appears from time-to-time in the X-men books (Uncanny, Legacy, and Astonishing), X-Force, New Avengers, various mini-series and crossovers. I thought it was ridiculous in the 90s, but it’s actually gotten worse.
May 1st suddenly feels like a long ways off. The X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer has arrived in its official glory after bouncing around the intertubes all weekend YouTube style, and I have to say, it looks pretty good. Check it out below the fold…
It looks like Mary Jane’s dream to light up Broadway is about to come true. Newsarama reports that Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen) has been cast as the titular redhead in the upcoming “Spider-Man: The Musical”.
Yes, Virginia you read that right, a Spider-Man musical is coming with rehearsals set to begin in the summer of 2009.
Not much is known about the musical other than Julie Taymor who did “The Lion King” with music being composed by Bono and the Edge will produce the show. Playbill reports that the musical will revolve around a female character called Arachne who is described as a “beautiful, boastful, young woman turned into a spider for her hubris and lack of respect for the gods” who will try to woo Peter Parker (and give Bond yet another forum to preach). The play will also feature Norman Osborn and J. Jonah Jameson as further thorns in the webhead’s side.
I really don’t know what to make of this. There hasn’t been a superhero musical since “It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s Superman” and if anyone doesn’t remember that play there’s a good reason - the two genres don’t mesh. Is Spidey going to sing zingers to J. Jonah Jameson? Will the final battle with the Green Goblin be a dance off? Most importantly, how are they going to do the web swinging? Questions aside, I think Evan Rachel Wood would make a good Mary Jane. From what I’ve seen of “Across the Universe,” she has an okay voice. She could play Mary Jane in the movies if Kristen Dunst decides not to return. No one has been chosen for Peter at this time. Either way I’ll be in the cheap seats for this.
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Last week Marvel’s event three years in the making ended anti-climatically with a last page that was an advertisement for this week’s one-shot, “Secret Invasion: Dark Reign”.
I have loved the team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev since they began their run on “Daredevil” in 2001. Maleev’s gritty, yet realistic artwork complemented Bendis’ down-to-earth dialogue perfectly for a dirty, street level character like Daredevil. These three ingredients sparked one of the greatest runs in comic book history, so it’s easy to see why Marvel would use this team to launch the new direction of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, the Marvel Universe is not one-size-fits-all, and what works on Daredevil won’t necessarily work for the Avengers.
If you’re a “Punisher” fan, then you’ve already picked this one up, sped through the pages, and like me are already waiting for issue #2. However, if you haven’t picked up a “Punisher” comic before, this arc is already shaping up into something great, and with Garth Ennis and Steven Dillon attached, you really can’t go wrong. Also, don’t judge the character by his recent translations into film; while this comics bears the same name of the recent film about the “Punisher,” it is not based on the film.
My personal experience with “Punisher” comics is that they’re bred of hit and miss. In some versions, he is more hero than villain and in others he’s just a villain. Many have contributed to my wrapping paper collection. The Punisher’s anti-hero status has long been forged in the high mortality rates of his enemies. As with all great anti-heroes, a good Punisher comic always brings a good debate of what separates the heroes from the villains, much like Alan Moore’s main character in “V for Vendetta” or Charles Bronson in “Death Wish”. So if you’ve never picked up a Punisher comic, this would be a great place to start. Enjoy.
Two hours of my life that will never come back.
I suppose I could end my review right there, but I won’t. I didn’t think the Thomas Jane “Punisher” movie was all that bad. My son called it a good old-fashioned guns and explosions movie. The Dolph Lundgren “Punisher” movie was beyond horrible. But, this one, under the Marvel Knights imprint, should have been a half decent action thriller. It wasn’t. The actions scene were okay. Sort of low grade, but based on what they tried to achieve, okay. The acting was wooden, to say the least, and I am sure Ray Stevenson wishes they had renewed “Rome”. I am also glad that Wayne Knight is collecting Sienfeld residuals.
But, God, couldn’t they get a high school graduate to write the script? I know screenwriting is the cheapest part of any movie, but still. I know a few people that would write a screenplay for free just to get the credit. The dialogue is insipid beyond belief. The parts that I think were supposed to draw a laugh didn’t and the serious parts did. Why Marvel is associated with this is a mystery to me. Guys, read the script first.
And so, without further ado, we move into Dark Reign. I would like to start with the cover. Now, I am a guy, which means I love, shall we put it, well drawn women. I mean, at least as much as the next breathing male. But let’s compare Emma Frost and the new, improved Loki. Emma looks, well, great, but Loki, even for an Asgardian seems a litlle…. well… too well built. The old joke used to be that there is only one letter difference between wow and cow and before I get into any more trouble, I will leave it at that.
The art was okay, which is a subject I usually don’t opine on. Sure, I like good art from bad, but I’m more of a plot and story person. But it was alright except for Namor who is drawn to resemble the bum he was when Johnny Storm found him 45 years ago, but with a bad shave. Facially, not good and the hair is too short. Just doesn’t look like Sub-Mariner to me, but with Atlantis destroyed for the 78th or 79th time, I suppose we can give him a pass.
But the story… that I liked. This ill-Illuminati seems to be off to a good start. The members distrust each other even more than the hero’s illuminati. Everyone has his or her own agenda. They all want to kill the boss. Good stuff. And the fact that Norman has someone hiding in the shadows who worries even this group of baddies is cool. But who is it?
Did you ever watch Murder She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury? There are only six people in the story. Jessica Fletcher didn’t do it. The victim didn’t do it. That just leaves 4 suspects and we hope we can figure out the clues before the last scene. In comics, we can have a 500 issue limited series with clues in 499 of them pointing to one guy and in issue 500 the author changes his mind or just misled us and it is someone else. After one issue of “Dare Reign,” I have premliminary thoughts. It has to be someone of immense power to intimidate these guys. Doom mentions a battle shaking this dimension. And as long as we don’t need a rational motive for our mystery man to help Normie, my first guess is Mephisto or someone like him. The Beyonder isn’t a bad guy. Galactus couldn’t care less. An Elder of the Universe? It certainly isn’t Ant-man.
Who do you think?
1. Pickup A Graphic Novel
It can be hard to pick up a comic book for the first time. Many times you’re reading about a character who has a history spanning the last fifty years, which can cause difficulty in understanding the plot line and character’s motivations.
Graphic Novels are usually self-contained, meaning that in order to follow the plot and storyline, there is no prior comic book history knowledge required. All the characters, special powers, jargon, etc is all within the pages you hold in your hands.
If you like superhero stories with an edge, a great starting place is Watchmen. It was recently made into a film, so you can even get a headstart on your friends by reading the book, and surprise them with your clairvoyance.
Maybe you’re not a fan of super-heroes and want something more indie-flavored. Blankets is beautiful book about teen angst and a long distance relationship in the early 90’s grunge era. With quotes from songs by The Cure, it’s a can’t-miss.
And if you’d like something in between with superhero-like characters, an indie-edge, and a beautiful noir storyline; I’d suggest any of Frank Miller’s Sin City books. While you may have seen the movie, which is a spectacular translation of the work to film, the comics will introduce you to the format and structure of graphic novels.
Whenever someone tells me they think that comics are for kids, I usually give them a graphic novel to read. Though comics began with kids in mind, it has since changed drastically to include all age groups. While these are my favorites to give to friends and family, feel free to pick out whatever you find interesting.
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