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Punisher War Zone

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.


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Dark Reign

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?


Wednesday by bookshelf
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.


Emma Frost

The Marvel Comics mega-event “Secret Invasion” was very good.  It won’t go down as one of the greatest in my opinion, but it was still very good.  I think it’ll work better as a collected trade because the story seemed less episodic than limited series of the past. 

To those of you who do not know the ending of “Secret Invasion,” do not read any further, but for those who have let’s discuss the aftermath - particularly Emma Frost the White Queen.


Secret Invasion - Skrull Wolverine

(Spoiler alert… wait… how can you spoil something that everyone already knows?)
 
So, Secret Invasion is over. Supposedly.The series is over and Dark Reign begins. But all this assumes that the comic companies believe that all their customers only read comics. See, comic stores are not like coffee shops. We are slaves to UPS and there is not much sense opening up hours before the Diamond shipment arrives. So I wake up in the morning and begin to read a newspaper, such as the New York Times. And lo and behold, on the second page of the Arts and Leisure section is an article on Secret Invasion. (Sarcasm alert) Comic delivery day is the only really day I have lots of work to do and any time-saver is appreciated.
 
Norm Osborn is the hero. Tony Stark is the goat. Janet is comic dead. Shield is kaput. The Avengers are leaderless. Even the Skrulls are up the creek. IN THE NEW YORK TIMES????


Wolverine

I’m a huge Wolverine fan.  He is and always will be my favorite X-Man.  So much so, my son’s middle name is Logan.  (That’s everyone’s cue to yell FANBOY at their computer screens.) 

When I first saw Hugh Jackman on-screen as Wolverine, I said to myself YES!  Jackman’s casting as Wolverine ranks as one of the best in Hollywood in relation to super-hero comic book movies.  Christopher Reeve as Superman is by far the all-time best. 

Jackman was great in all three of the X-Men films (yes, I liked X-3.) and I looked forward to a solo Wolverine movie if they were to do one.  Well, next year I get my wish and Marvel.com has posted some stills from the upcoming movie.

Read More | Marvel.com

Punisher War Zone movie posterI know that in the general scheme of things, getting any kind of decent movie made is something of a miracle, but when you look at the succession of comic-book-related movies we’ve had in the last decade or so, it strikes me as rather ridiculous that this Friday we’re about to get the third Punisher movie made since 1989, and from everything I’ve seen, it looks to be just as painful as the first two.

A slight caveat here, of course, is that I haven’t seen Punisher:War Zone, so it could actually be good… but if it is, the studio and their marketing team sure are doing everything possible to hide that fact, including the horrible and extremely loud heavy metal soundtrack that hits you when you go to the official movie site—click the link at your peril.

Read More | Punisher Movie Site

IronMan

I finally got Iron Man on DVD the other day.  Whenever I get a DVD of a comic book movie I ALWAYS get the double disc set because of the extras.  I saw when I was ordering it online that this DVD had a history of the character in comics.  I love comics and I love history so this was a win-win situation. 

So I sat down one night and began watching the extras first before I even watched the film.  I saw the film in the theater, so I could wait until I saw the extras first.


Captain

Now that we know that the casting of Will Smith as Captain America was just a rumor, we can continue to debate who we would like to see be cast as Captain America.  Personally I would like to go with an unknown.  Prior to the Richard Donner “Superman,” not many people knew of Christopher Reeve.  Instead of going with a big name for the lead, they went with this unknown actor and surrounded him with well known actors like Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, and Glen Ford.  The movie was of course a big success and is now a classic.  In my opinion, it’s the best comic movie of all time.  So I would go with an unknown, but here are some of the names floating around.


JLA and Avengers 

This week Diamond Comics shipped the paperback version of the classic JLA/AVENGERS saga. These came out in comic book form in 2003, but was only compiled in hardcover format for $75. Now we have a softcover at $19.99 and it is time to revisit this story.

I believed at the time that the entire concept was flawed. Kurt Busiek wrote a story in which every Avenger and every Justice Leaguer that ever existed made at least a token appearance. He succeeded in his mind, but not mine. By putting too many characters in a story, you lose the ability to focus deeply on any of them. Recall the series of Marvel/DC Crossover books. These stories usually had one hero and one villain from each universe and you had a real interaction among the heroes and villains. Remember Crossover One with a full Superman/Spider-Man story, Hulk/Superman, etc. You really got into how the characters reacted to each other. In Crossover 2 we had Batman/Punisher, Silver Surfer/Superman and Batman/Captain America. The other two books weren’t as good, but it is always fun to match heroes from different universes. In my opinion, confining the epic to 7 or so stars from each universe would have made things much less cluttered and a better read. Characters kept coming and going so quickly it is difficult to keep track.

The story itself starts as one of the generic contest of champions ideas we have seen a million times before. Mystic artifacts being sought by both sides being manipulated by cosmic beings. Ho-hum.

No real detail in the battles to get an artifact and the 12 items are quickly divided up. They we get a mish-mash of heroes from diferrent universes interacting in a confusing way and then A Crisis on Infinte Earths climax against the super-duper villian with everyone throwing in a few shots. Been to the Source, done that.

It was, I suppose, a noble effort and it is certainly a better buy at $20 rather than $75. But as the pundit said about Dicken’s Great Expectations, I hoped for more.


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