Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Punisher War Zone (Review)

Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

Punisher: War Zone is a "Man's Film"!! All action....blood, guts, guns, bashing heads, and blowing up things! Plot? Not so much....Romance? ....What? This is PUNISHER!!! Frank Castle was a undercover agent who's family is murdered before his eyes by the mob.....Frank Castle becomes The Punisher! Woe to those in his path.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hulk No More (Review)

Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

This third volume of the Hulk, written by Jeff Loeb & artwork by Ed McGuinness, has all the elements of a great story. In the first arc of the volume, The Grandmaster comes to Hulk and offers a way to bring back his dead love, Jarella. He has to put together a team to battle unknown foes. Hulk chooses Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, & Namor....a.k.a. The Defenders. Then The Collector enters the fray with his team led by Red Hulk, The Offenders.

They battle it out, and in the end Jarella is still is The Grandmaster.

The second story arc guest-stars Spiderman, She-Hulk, Leonard Samson, and Ben Urich (Daily Bugle reporter).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

JLA: When Worlds Collide (Review)

Citizen's Grade: O.K.

This is the JLA tale introducing the Milestone Characters to the DC Universe. Written by Dwayne McDuffie (Milestone Editor-in-Chief) and art done by Ed Benes, Rags Morales and others.

Icon and the Shadow Cabinet break into the JLA headquarters to steal the essence of Dr. Light (the female version). A fight ensues between the JLA & Shadow Cabinet, then Hawkman shows up....a fight ensues between Hawkman, JLA & Shadow Cabinet against their own Shadows as Shadow Thief reveals himself. The Shadow Cabinet then escape, Dr. Light's powers are returned to her......and the JLA realizes they've been "had".

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Green Lantern First Flight (Review)

Citizen’s Grade: O.K.

Green Lantern: First Flight is the DVD version of the DC Universe character. It follows the origin story of Hal Jordan… alien ship crashes to earth, the Green Lantern ring finds the closest human with “the ability to overcome great fear”, which is Jordan. It then follows his training as a Green Lantern and shows Jordan’s shoot-from-the-hip “John Wayne” persona.

Larry Gonick's Cartoon History series (Review)

Citizen’s Grade: Awesome.

I found it nearly impossible to review just one of Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the …… without connecting it to the rest. So I’m putting together the entire series into one review….

It starts in The Cartoon History of the Universe vol. 1 at the dawn of time, it continues through the dinosaurs to the dawn of man, then to the beginning of recorded history. The beginnings aside (mostly speculation based on science and discoveries, evolution….which by the way makes it very difficult to recommend this to Christian friends), once you get into recorded history this becomes the best historical book for adults or kids ever created.

Top 5 Monthly Comics to collect in 2010

I collect about 12 different monthlies in Graphic Novel form, but I’ve narrowed them down to my essential 5 for 2010:

1. Green Lantern. You cannot go wrong collecting this series! Geoff Johns continues to impress more and more taking Green Lantern into uncharted territory and writing stories on par with anything in the market today! The Blackest Night event will blanket the DC Universe into 2010, and Green Lantern will be at the forefront of DC’s heroes.

2. Batman. With the announcement that Bruce Wayne will be returning in 2010, the Batman series led by Grant Morrison should impress as never before! Always a winner and worth spending the money on, DC’s flagship character will carry the DC franchise in 2010.

3. Elephantmen. If your local comic book shop doesn’t carry this title, you should be begging and pleading with them to start! Richard Starking’s story and characters seem to get better with every issue, and the artwork is always phenomenal! A real up-&-comer getting a lot of attention on the comic websites.

4. Daredevil. The man without fear is riding high, and new writer Andy Diggle should keep him that way in 2010. The story is usually for mature audiences and often reads as a detective/crime novel with pictures. Following in the footsteps of Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, & Ed Brubaker isn’t easy…..but I believe it will bring out Diggle’s best work to date!

5. The Brave and The Bold. With J. Michael Straczynski taking over as writer, I fully expect this to be one of my favorites for 2010! Sales numbers are in the toilet…..but if you love a good story, or just love JMS than you’ll love this title. I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if they cancel this title and then restart it from #1 with JMS as regular writer.

Special Mentions go to Superman and Green Arrow & Black Canary. Both titles are on the brink of disaster, but with good writers on board and “mega-events” coming up in 2010 for both titles, they should be worth reading. Also….Hulk. Despite some fan criticism, the Fall of The Hulks event in 2010 should make this title worth spending the money for.

Top 5 Graphic Novels

This list was extremely difficult to come up with. I wish I could just do a top 100 list….but that would be a lot of typing, and probably get a little boring. I made the list by deciding which five graphic novels I would grab & say belonged to someone else if the IRS took everything I owned.

1. Green Lantern: Rebirth. Written by Geoff Johns, artwork by Ethan Van Sciver. This collection re-introduces Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. I would have bought this on John’s name alone, but also just for the artwork by Van Sciver! A must-read if you’re new to comics or the Green Lantern character.

2. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Written by Jeff Loeb, artwork by Ed McGuinness. The saying goes, “The book is always better than the movie”, and if you liked the DVD S/B: Public Enemies, than you’ll love the book! Loeb tells the story from both Superman’s & Batman’s perspective, and McGuinness’s artwork is top notch! A great read if you don’t collect Supes or Bats monthlies but want to know more about the characters.

3. Planet Hulk. Written by Greg Pak, artwork by various. Soon to be released on DVD, Planet Hulk is a great, original story about the Hulk! Marooned on a distant planet, forced to be a gladiator, the great rebel leader the Green Scar shows the Hulk; not as a mindless monster, but as a calculating and fearless rebel leader. Pak solidified my respect with this collected volume.

4. Identity Crisis. Written by Brad Meltzer, artwork by Rags Morales. This event has me wishing that Meltzer and Morales did more work together! A very mature story involving the violation of one of the Justice League’s wives, a rush to judgement, the death that ensues, and the crumbling of trust and respect among the heroes involved. I actually cried when Batman & Robin are rushing to try and save Robin’s father. This volume brought me back into collecting comics!

5. Superman: Red Son. Written by Mark Millar, artwork by various. Millar tells a wonderfully original story of Superman’s life. Crash landing in the Ukraine instead of Kansas, raised with the ideals of a communist utopia rather than the American Way, protector of the Proletariat! The artwork is fantastic and the Hammer & Sickle replacing the “S” on his chest makes you want to join the communist party.

Special Mentions go to Green Arrow: Quiver (Kevin Smith/Phil Hester), Superman/Batman: Supergirl (Loeb/Michael Turner), & Hip Flask: Unnatural Selection (Richard Starkings & Casey/Ladronn).

Superman: Red Son (Review)

Citizen's Grade: Awesome.

What if Superman had crashed landed on Earth 12 hours later? In the Ukraine rather than Kansas? Believed in the Communist Ideals rather than the American Way? That is Superman: Red Son!

Top 5 Comic Book Writers

I thought I would post my Top 5 Comic Book writers. I will be polite and NOT post my top 5 worst writers. They are ranked according to how quickly I’ll pull out my wallet whenever I see their name on a comic book title.

1. Geoff Johns. I absolutely love his style of writing, and his willingness to delve into the minds of Rogues/Villains. He made me love the Flash’s Rogues almost as much as I love the Flash! Same with Sinestro. He seems to be able to weave great short stories into huge “never-saw-it-coming” events that leave my mouth gaping open saying “Whoa!” His list includes: Green Lantern, Flash, JSA, Hawkman, Superman, and the new Flash series “Rebirth” and upcoming new monthly.

2. Jeph Loeb. I love his ability to tell a story from multiple angles. This was never better done than during his Superman/Batman run. He wrote the first 4 volumes of that monthly series, and I still collect them although he no longer writes them… that’s a good writer! the Batman trilogy series he wrote was also fantastic. He is currently writing Hulk for Marvel Comics, which has had a lot of bad reviews on the forums….but I like it, and collect the volumes. His list includes: Batman: Haunted Knight, BM: Long Halloween, BM: Dark Victory, Superman/Batman (vol. 1-4), Batman: Hush, & Hulk (Vol. 1 thru present).

3. Grant Morrison. He is different. He has the ability to use little known heroes/villains in new and unique ways that make you love them. A prime example was Aquaman during his JLA run. They started a Aquaman monthly based on the popularity Morrison gave him, then cancelled the monthly when Morrison stopped writing JLA. He didn’t even write the monthly series!! Now that is POWER!! He also is not scared to take characters into new directions. Prime example: Batman. Killed in R.I.P./Final Crisis shocked the comic world! Now, Bruce Wayne Returns will turn the comic world upside down again! His list includes: JLA, All-Star Superman, Final Crisis, Batman, and is currently writing Batman & Robin.

4. J. Michael Straczynski. Creator of Babylon 5 (tv series), screen writer of Changling (starring Angelina Jolie) & Ninja Assassin… also writes Comics! The only Amazing Spiderman I’ve ever collected is what he wrote. The only Thor I’ve ever collected is what he wrote. I am no longer collecting either since he left……enough said. Although I didn’t really get into his independent stuff, he is a great writer who likes to weave long stories over years. However, he has proved recently he is just as adapted to doing “one & dones” as he is telling mega-plots. His list includes: Amazing Spiderman (vol. 1-10, The Other, Civil War, Back in Black, & One More Day), Thor (vol. 1-3), and is currently writing The Brave & The Bold for DC Comics.

5. Richard Starkings. Creator and Writer of the Elephantmen series from Image Comics. As much as I’d love to see him write characters in the big 2, I love that he puts all his best work into probably the best comic series going right now…. Elephantmen! I actually bought Strange Embrace (which I didn’t like & He didn’t write) based solely on his recommendation. I do not hold it against him either…. that is how much I love his work. He also seems to pull the best artists out of thin air to draw his Elephantmen…..making me wonder why DC or Marvel didn’t find them? In a couple years may be at the top of this list. His list includes: Elephantmen (vol. 1-3), Hip Flask (vol. 1 & 2), Elephantmen: War Toys, & E: Damaged Goods.

Special mentions go to Larry Gonick (creator/writer/artist of the Cartoon History of the Universe vol. 1-3, C.H. of The Modern World vol. 1-2, and C.H. of the United States), Kevin Smith (wrote Daredevil, Green Arrow, & Batman: Cacophony), & Mark Millar (Superman: Red Son, & Ultimates).