Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Demon Knights #22

So, after putting this post off in favour of trying to convince the world (and hopefully succeeding, eventually) to check out Think Tank (see here if interested), I did consider just not writing something about Demon Knights #22. However, given that I don't have many issues left of DC medievel Justice League, and as I write more about this book than any other (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I figured I should take advantage of saying what I think about the series while I still can.
Demon Knights #22 by
Robert Venditti and
Chad Harkin

And so, the story picks up where the previous issue ended, with the Demon Knights now in possession of the Holy Grail, while Vandal Savage is left behind, captured by the giants whom the Grail was in possession of. Of course, Savage being Savage, he's more than happy to betray for his own ends and so happily offers the Giants the knowledge as to where his teammates will go. Therefore, while returning to Al Jabr's city for rest and resupply, the remaining Knights find themselves face to face with an army of giants (with a captured Savage in tow) in a battle for the Grail, which has already shown what it can do on the Horsewoman.

Al Jabr should really take
better care of the Grail.
I'm gonna be so sad to see this series go, as Demon Knights has such a fun read with a dry sense of humour and this issue is no exception. Robert Venditti has picked up the voices of these characters without skipping a beat and i think has displayed them more than capably since taking over the series. As for the art, while I was a bit taken back in the last issue by Hardin's art as it wasn't Chang and I suck at dealing with change, however, I'm used to it now and I really love this style. Chad Hardin has placed artwork that is very off kilter to what is about at the moment, with the whole issue resembling the a dream sequence almost, especially with a kind of hue to the panels. It's truly beautiful work and makes me sad there isn't much of it in this book left to appreciate.

Unfortunately, this book is a slight let down in comparison to much of Venditti's run, though I think that may be because of its status as the penultimate issue. Given that only the final installment remains, I can forgive that here there is an awful lot of exposition as, no doubt, the creative team are trying to get their ducks in a row in order to finish with a big action piece. Also, I just realised that Etrigan, arguably the main character of the book, does not appear at all, but again this might be just saving him for the whole of the next issue (in which case, bye bye Jason Blood)

Overall, this book, even though it's a low point for the series, was still very enjoyable (especially the panels where they are attacked by common thieves, like common thieves could take them out) and, despite the final panel which I truly disliked (in a similar vein to the whole Batgirl thing at the start of New 52), I really can't wait to see how this series wraps up and (if possible) where these characters end up.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

people should be buying Think Tank

I''ll be honest, when I woke up this morning this post was not what I was planning to write about. I'd intended to write about Demon Knights #23 (seeing as I'd read it practically minutes before leaving for work), but it seems life doesn't quite go as planned (though at nearing 30, I should know that by now).

The reason why I changed my topic started like this; as I got to work I quickly checked my emails before starting the day, where I found an update email from twitter about those I follow (God bless my twitter feed). I normally just skim through it but today I spotted a tweet by Rashan Ekedal which spoke of Think Tank and included this link, which has Matt Hawkins (Think Tank's writer) asking people to buy his book.

Now, there could be any number of reasons why this was written (ok, not really but you never know), but, to me, what this letter says is that Think Tank is in a bit of trouble. The thing I don't get though is why? I've been reading Think Tank since it began last year and overall, despite the odd niggle I've loved it. It's a fantastic book, I mean it's probably the second book I talk most about (ironically after Demon Knights) as I've mentioned it (to put it mildly) here, here, here and here (somewhere).

So, what is Think Tank? Well, in a nutshell, it tells the story of David Loren a genius working for the U.S. military in a think tank (hence the title) to build them weapons of the future. However, Loren has gotten tired of what he does and wants out, despite not being allowed to leave and so, using his intellect and the gadgets he creates, begins planning a way to escape from his high-tech office/prison.

Now this might sound far-fetched (and it's a comic, of course it is), but it is also fun. What I like about this title is that there is nothing else like it. This isn't a standard military book, but about a single man within and this isn't a book about James Bond, this is a book about Q, if Q were an cocky, arrogant ass. What is essentially here though is that Hawkins and Ekedal have put together a story of just an average guy (who, granted isn't quite so average) trying to escape a job he hates and live his life. I mean, who can't relate to that? Granted I don't have armed soldiers chasing me down were I to quit, but that's the basic premise under the outlandishness.

What's more is that this book is so filled with depth in all its forms. The secondary characters are so well rounded, all with their own agendas. From Mirra and Manish, to Sejic and Clarkson every one of these characters are just as intriguing as the lead for their own reasons (and the fact I remember all these characters off the top of my head is another testament to this book). Then there is the final pages of each issue, the science class pages. This book could just have gadgets made up on the fly and I woudln't care, but Matt Hawkins takes his time to explain every little technological detail to show how believable this book could be. This pages are wonderfully insightful and shows me a technical side of myself I didn't realise I had.

Then, of course, there is the art. I love a lot of artwork, but Rashan Ekedal's work is just real special. His soft pencils and the black and white colour scheme are just so beautiful that you you can't help but fall in love with each panel. What's more is his consistency!! In eight issues I don't think I've seen one off panel (or if there was it was so minor I never noticed), which just goes to show how good this guy is and how much he loves the material.

Of course, this book isn't perfect, as the change from a four issue mini to an ongoing felt a little bumpy, but in the grand scheme what book is? This book is an incredibly engrossing read and more people deserve to see it. I know I write this for myself, but if what I write here were to make one difference in the world, then I hope keeping this book going would be it. It's a book in a class all of its own and a successful one at that. Everyone should either hunt down the first eight issues or the two trades that contain them in readiness for issue 9, because when you read a comic book, don't you wanna read one that you not only enjoy but makes you smarter? For me, this one does both and I hope it continues for a good long time.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

thinks Daredevil #28 is further proof this series is the best.

It's been one of those weeks just gone. Nothing but sun and heat (I'm already wishing winter would return) has kind of eaten up both my time and energy. Both of these things have, sadly, taken me away from the majority of my comics. With only four books picked up this week (normal numbers have resumed after the ten book pickup last time), it should have been easy to get through them all, but instead I was only able to make time for one of them. How glad I am then that I went for the one series that is, by far, the best I pick up and how glad I am that Daredevil #28 didn't let me down (like I had any doubt) and further proves that this is the best series on the shelves.

Issue 28 kinda started off a whole new arc after the last issues conclusion to the whole Ikari/Mastermind arc that had been going since number 1. With Foggy Nelson is still recovering from the Cancer he'd been diagnosed with recently, the man without fear was shown to be juggling his everyday costumed heroics with running their firm single-handed and being moral support for the ill Foggy. However, all this juggling seems trivial when his newest client turns out to be the bully from his childhood who gave him the name "Daredevil", who claims has been set up because he was once part of supervillain group the Sons of the Serpent (the who???), thus starting off this new story with a metaphorical bang ( and a literal one at the end in fact).

In truth, the story is simple set up for the overall arc, but it isn't the story that's the draw here; it's the contributions of the creative team. I could talk great things about Mark Waid all day (I only don't because I get half hour lunches when I write this), but it feels like in this book he excels himself. Waid writes his characters so well, that I can't help but fall in love with them, even the former childhood nemesis of Matt Murdock who comes across as a character you want to hate, is also fleshed out in a way that I could only feel sympathy for him. Then, there's the script in general, which once again see Waid recap another part Daredevil's origin which not only contributes to the current story, but also helps keep the exposition in this issue interesting and further fleshes out the already meaty characters in such a seamless fashion.

And then there's the art. Wow the art!! The artwork throughout this run has been just terrific, with Chris Samnee more than stepping up to the plate. However, this wasn't Chris Samnee the time round, it was Javier Rodriguez who drew this issue, which stunning for how consistent I find his stuff in comparison to another artists work. This entire issue looks identical to every issue prior and, I think that's the best compliment you can give an artist. I think it takes real skill to capture another artists style perfectly, especially one which is so beautifully retro in the first place.

Now, I'll confess that this issue is a little quieter than many of the recent ones, but that isn't a negative as I think this 'quiet' issue is still vastly superior to the top issues of any top series on the shelves at present. It's a great starting point within a mesmerizing book for a story that I just can't wait to read. Thankfully, the next instalment will be out later in the month. Score!! If said it once and I'll say it again; Everybody should be reading this book!!!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Is the Justice League too powerful (for film)??

So, last week I wrote a post about how (well, I think anyway) the recently released Man of Steel movie was a mistake to release first if DC/Warner are intending it to be a stepping stone towards a Justice League movie, in a similar way Iron Man was the first step towards the Avengers (if you haven't read it, well just click here). Well, I noticed that that post interested a fair few people (either that or just one guy lots of times) and, while I still think it's valid, I talked to a few of my friends in the CBNAH group on facebook afterwards and it was here that I was given a different notion that also made me think about writing this follow-up.

* There may be small spoilers regarding Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 below, just to be of warning.

The notion I was given was; what if Man of Steel was set in a time after all the other heroes were introduced? Kinda like the Incredible Hulk is how I understand that. In the Avengers lead up (for those not yet aware of either the films, or the common knowledge that I like to hear my own voice), while Iron Man was the first film released, the Incredible Hulk was the second, released just a couple of months later. However, towards the end of Iron Man 2 we discover that, chronalogically , The Incredible Hulk is the fourth (or fifth, depending on where you think the Cap movie goes), following Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor. So basically this is the same idea that could be applied to Man of Steel; instead of beginning the crossover, it's (storyline wise) merely a step along the path.

However, this is where my new question comes into play. Are the Justice League too powerful (individually speaking) for a shared film universe? Ok, so lets assume that MoS (that's what I'm calling Man of Steel from here on, because I'm sick of writing it) isn't the first, but is like the last, set after Origin films for GL, Aquaman, Flash, Wonder Woman and the Batman Trilogy (assuming that's canon at the moment). If it is the case that before Superman announced himself there were other superheroes who could fly, run fast and use rings to make giant weapons, then surely they would have been mentioned or seen in MoS.

I might be knit-picking this, but I'm a fan of continuity. I mean, when the Kryptonian invade, why does the military not make a mention to the Amazonian chick who deflects bullets, the fish man or the .... well, the Flash (I guess I can't think of another name for him)? Are they all (though this might be legit for GL) offworld? It doesn't make sense to me how DC/Warner could ignore the white elephant in the room (or, in this case, the brightly dressed superhero in the world) whichever direction they plotted these movies, MoS first or last (or in the middle, of course).

This brings me to the heart of my pondering; are the JL too powerful to exist together on film? I think yes, simply because as cool as it would be to see these titans of the comics world come together on film, they are all individually too powerful to simply disappear when they are not wanted. This is even more the case when you think that GL and Supes's rogues galleries are almost all alien villains, are you saying the other characters would realistically sit back upon another alien invasion just because it is a 'solo film'?

I mean with the Avengers it was a different story (somewhat). Neither Cap nor Iron Man were particularly powerful, at least not without chemical or technological aid (I can foresee manhood related jokes going with that line) and while Hulk is the most powerful there is (or so the character constantly claims in the comics) he is a tad unpredictable and not exactly reliable for full-time heroics like the others. Therefore, while they were pretty bad-ass as a team, none of these characters are inherently 'mighty' enough to just appear in one of the others solo films to clean up their messes (although, it seems they might be on hand to provide counselling sessions in post credit scenes). In fairness, there is one Avenger who could possibly manage this role of being too powerful and that is Thor, although he is indeed on a mission in space (someone actually used that clichĂ©?) in the sense that he's an alien.

So, I've probably waffled on a bit about this, but my general point is that the characters of the Justice League are, in my opinion, too powerful (for film) and that if DC/Warner are gonna go abouts setting up a Justice League movie in the same vein as the Avengers, they should expect large pay checks to the actors playing those characters for all the cameos they'll do in each others films. Of course, I know not to underestimate large hollywood studios eager to make a lot of money on previously successful formulas, so I'm sure someone will make it work.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Got through Sheltered #1 and its world hasn't ended...yet.

Ok, so back to what I do best (or worst, depending on you're point of view I guess); reading comics. After a two week hiatus, I popped in and picked up a big-ass haul of nine books (that's big for me) before being recommended Sheltered #1 by the guy behind the counter (who, admittedly, hasn't always recommended the best books), the new (self certified) pre-apocalyptic tale by Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas. Because it was recommended (and because my friend Tim wants to know what it's like) I figured I'd read Sheltered's premier issue first.
Sheltered #1 by Brisson and Christmas
(that's Johnnie, not Father)

There are some spoilers. I don't normally mention it, but I gave some away in a previous post, so, this time, you have been warned.

The premise behind this is a bit of a twist compared to the standard fare of apocalyptic books on the shelves (which, to be fair, is a few. Question, is this genre the only thing Image releases?), with the book being set just before the generic, vaguely named world-ending event (although that could just be smoke, right?). Set in an unnamed part of the American wilderness (well, we can assume this), the book follows a survivalist camp as they prepare for the overthrowing of the government and living 'off the grid'. However, the twist comes as the survivalists kids decide to stage a coup and take over from their parents in a scene that makes me think of The Lord of the Flies.

I gotta admit, when I saw this book released in previews, the idea behind it certainly had me interested, with the only reason it didn't hit my pull list being that I'm having to save cash for a wedding. So, being recommended it in the shop did not meet a great deal of resistance and, in some ways, this decision has been rewarded. Sheltered is a very interesting premise (as previously mentioned) and the story is written incredibly well, culminating in a fantastic cliffhanger that makes me totally want the next issue. However, for the most part, I really struggled to stay invested in this issue, with questionable editing in places, a rather hit and miss collection of artwork (although, knowing me, I probably don't know how to properly appreciate the work) and no real sign of a main character to invest in.

I'm trying to be a little more ruthless with the books I collect after the Action Comics debacle (I shouldn't have waited until issue 21 before cancelling that series) and so I don't want to spend money on anything but what is the best in my eyes. With Sheltered, I'm inclined to say "thanks but no thanks", but I think the overall story has potential to be something that can deliver a really different take on the 'end of the world' genre. In the end, I'm undecided about this, though it might be back for an issue 2, but only if one of my other issue ones (Lazarus and Batman/Superman) turn out to be even more disappointing.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

"DC/Warner made a mistake leading their Justice League with Man of Steel"

Wow. I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd written in here. To be fair, it was kind of what I wanted; to take some time away from writing and focus on important things (not that comic books aren't important) like my FiancĂ©, my home and life in general (as well State of Decay on the Xbox 360, which is bloody awesome and has resulted in me now needing to be treated for video game addiction). Of course, one of the things I have managed to do now I've better time-managed my life was go and see Man of Steel, which I struggled to see upon it's release. Thankfull I managed to get down to the big screen to view it (after arranging a day off work, just so I could) and, I gotta admit, it's good. True there are problems here and there (I counted that a lot of people knew Superman was Clark Kent throughout the film) but overall it was good.

However, since watching it I've pondered about the film, the story and what comes next and it was at that moment that something occured to me; if DC are gonna go Avengers and make a Justice League movie, then surely having Superman/Man of Steel come out first was a big mistake?!

Now, before I go on I'll bring in some context (because I like to, despite anyone who cares probably knowing this already). Way back when (like early 2000's) comic book starting becoming movies, but they were all seperate from each other. Spider-man wouldn't meet Wolverine, Superman wouldn't meet Batman and so on until, one day, Marvel became their own studio and got ambitious. After making Iron Man they said "here's an idea, lets take four big characters, give them each a film and then put them together for the Avengers". At that point they got some strange looks and replies like "it'll never happen", "it's too ambitious", and the general consensus that it would fail. But then, low and behold, it made a fortune.

So now, DC looked at this and said "we want some of that action". The only problem was that after Superman and Batman, their character's films tanked (hello Green Lantern) and, also, their current Batman franchise was very self-contained. Nonetheless, they decided to press ahead and brought out Man of Steel as it's first step towards a Justice League movie.

Now, this makes perfect sense for DC to let Supes first out of the block; he is a cultural icon and brand the world over (I heard Zack Snyder say in an interview the Superman symbol was second only to the christian cross in being recognized), which will get in the non-comic loving fans, and, also, he is the only DC character (besides Batman) who is popular enough to successfully carry his own film.

However, the problem with starting with Man of Steel is the character of Superman himself. I mean, It's Friggin Superman!!!! This is the strongest, fastest (well, almost), most god-like character within DC's stable and now he has been introduced to a world which will not be self-contained to him alone. In my opinion this can mean only one thing; Henry Cavill's going to get a lot of gigs cameoing as the big blue boy scout for many years to come. I mean, you just know that whatever big bad happens in the world, with the focus being on whatever character, Superman exists, so it can only be expected for him to show up to lend a hand/save the day. Green Lantern has to save the world from Parrallax (again)? Well, fear not as the Man of Tomorrow can lend a hand. Aquaman needs to protect the land-lovers from the pyschotic Black Manta? Doing worry, Big Blue has his back. Things like that. In fact, the only ones who could be safe from such influence is Batman and the Flash (simply because street crime might not be so high on Supes' list of priorities).

Of course, this is just conjecture at present. I mean, DC/Warner probably have a dozen of the best screenwriters in Hollywood writing the other tie-in films and giving valid reasons as to why Superman isn't available to stop the big bads (ten to one that it'll almost always be a "mission in deep space" ala Supergirl), but I'd put good money that any self-respecting fan who is following the build-up the same way they did the Avengers will watch these films as they come along and say "Hey, so why isn't Superman showing up to help in all this?"