Tag Archives: comic book

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I finally got around to seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last night. I’m slacking, I know. It’s the sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel and Zack Snyder returns to direct, while Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and Diane Lane reprise their roles as Superman, Lois Lane, Perry White, and Martha Kent respectively. New to the series is Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. It’s also the feature film debut of Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash but they only appear for a few moments on screen. Even though it’s a sequel to Man of Steel, Superman takes a backseat to Batman in this movie. There are more heroes and villains and bigger action sequences, but the film seems like a step backward. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t exciting. It was pretty disappointing.

The film was too bleak. It’s supposed to be a comic book movie. They were trying to capture the gritty realism of The Dark Knight but the studio doesn’t seem to realize that Superman is not dark and gritty. Wonder Woman is not dark and gritty. Lex Luthor is not dark and gritty. It should have been more campy and upbeat. There were hardly any jokes or humor. It wasn’t fun. Comic book movies should be fun. The action sequences were bigger than the ones in Man of Steel, but the action wasn’t as good. Snyder likes to speed up and slow down the action and that worked really well in Man of Steel because it captured the power of Superman. It made him seem unworldly and godlike. You don’t get that feeling in Dawn of Justice. Superman isn’t as impressive. It feels tired.

It’s not a terrible movie, but it did not live up to the hype. The plot was meh. The characters were meh. The acting was meh. Like Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Lex Luthor is one of the most formidable villains in the DC Universe. Jesse Eisenberg is not formidable in the slightest. It’s like casting a pug to play Cujo. It doesn’t work and it brings down the film’s integrity. DC and Warner Bros. were using this flick as their foundation for their Justice League franchise. There are a lot of cracks. Doesn’t seem like Marvel has much to worry about competition wise.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Deadpool (film)

I finally got around to seeing Deadpool a few days ago. Now I’m part of the Cool Kids Club again. Let’s start with some backstory before we start talking about the movie. Deadpool was originally created as a blatant rip-off of DC’s Deathstroke. Marvel has never tried to hide this fact, they talk about it openly. They have similar names, costumes, and both are mercenaries. They have different powers and skillsets, but the biggest difference between the two of them is that Deadpool knows that he’s a character in a comic book. He breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader. He knows that he’s not real. It’s all very meta.

My biggest fear about the movie is that it wouldn’t be able to capture the tone of the comics. I felt a great sense of relief as soon as the opening credits started to roll. Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were able to bring the Deadpool to life the right way. They made the film as funny, violent, and raunchy as they could. They took a huge gamble by making it Rated R as opposed to PG-13. The gamble paid off. It’s already the highest grossing R-rated film of all time and it’s been out for less than two weeks. What’s more impressive is that it’s also the highest grossing X-Men movie.

The plot of the movie is pretty generic. It’s an origin story about how a regular guy became a superhero and then the bad guy kidnaps his girlfriend and he has to use his powers to get her back. The story structure is a little more advanced. They start in the middle of the action and then they tell the backstory through flashbacks. It’s as much of a comedy as it is a superhero action flick. The humor was witty and fresh and I was laughing hysterically every couple of minutes. There were also a few touching moments that I wasn’t expecting. It made a surreal character seem real, relatable, and likeable.

As strange as it sounds, I think Deadpool is a great date movie. There’s enough violence for the men, there’s enough romance for the ladies, and it’s funny enough to keep everyone entertained. It’s a solid flick all around. That’s hard to do these days. So go and see it if you were on the fence about it. It’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Lex Luthor: Man of Steel

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is a 2005 five-issue comic book written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo. It focuses on Lex Luthor and explores his motivations behind challenging Superman. Lex doesn’t think that he’s evil, he sees himself as the only one capable of protecting humanity from an alien imposter. Every great hero needs a worthy villain and Lex Luthor is as essential to Superman as Clark Kent. This story lets you see the other side of the coin. You get to see how Lex views himself. He thinks he is a savior, a protector, and all of his plots against Superman are for the greater good. All of his misdeeds are somehow justified. Lex Luthor is a complex character. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is a great character study and you should read it if you’re into Superman comics at all.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Deadpool & Cable Ultimate Collection Book 2 (comic)

Deadpool is the Merc with the Mouth. Cable is the time-traveling mutant from the future on a crusade to save the world. And they teamed up for an awesome comic in the mid-2000s. Deadpool & Cable Ultimate Collection Book 2 is a trade paperback and collects issues #19-35 and includes the following storylines: Why, When I Was Your Age; Bosom Buddies; Sticky Situation and Living Legends; Born Again; The Domino Principle; Civil War; and Six Packs and Powder Kegs. They even include the letter pages so it feels more retro and real.

This isn’t a comic for noobs. You have to work your way into this one. The Marvel Universe is already pretty complex, and there are way too many characters and subplots for casual comic book readers to keep up with. But Deadpool is one of the best and most interesting comic book characters and you don’t have to know what is going on to be able to enjoy his antics and one-liners.

I won’t even bother with giving out plot details and story outlines. You’re either going to read this collection, or you aren’t.  It’s a comic book. Crazy shit happens in crazy ways. Everything is surrealistic, unrealistic, over the top, and awesome. What more do you want?

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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DC vs. Marvel (comic)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the greatest, most powerful heroes and villains from the DC and Marvel Universes met? How awesome would that be? Well, it already happened in 1996, so you missed out. But you can relive the past and pick up DC vs. Marvel and see the two worlds collide.

There is actually a pretty coherent storyline. Writers Ron Marz and Peter David are able brings some of the biggest characters from two rival companies together in a comprehensive way. So back in the day, these two brothers/entities were controlling their own separate universes, until they learned of each other’s existence. One brother is the DC Universe, and the other represents the Marvel Universe. They decide to have a battle between their top superheroes to determine which universe will be destroyed.

Each separate universe starts to be aware that something weird is happening when heroes and villains start vanishing in a flash of light, and new, different masks start showing up. A young man named Axel Asher finds himself inexplicably drawn to an alley where a crazy homeless guy is trying desperately to keep an inter-dimensional gateway contained in a cardboard box. Axel is the Access, and he just might be the key to solving the crisis if he ever accepts his destiny.

6 Marvel characters are chosen to fight 6 DC characters in one-on-one battles to determine the mightier universe. There are some really obvious fights between similarly powered characters like Aquaman vs. Namor, Wolverine vs. Lobo, and Flash vs. Quicksilver. There are also weird, random fights like Robin vs. Jubilee and Superboy vs. Spider-man. Elektra fights Catwoman, the Green Lantern and Silver Surfer duke it out in space, Wonder Woman somehow loses to Storm, Batman and Captain America are pretty evenly matched, and Superman barely beats the Hulk into submission.

Instead of one universe getting destroyed, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal are able to temporarily merge the two universes together. This buys them some time, and has the awesome bonus of creating hybrid superheroes like Dark Claw (a mixture of Batman and Wolverine) and Super-Soldier (Superman and Captain America’s lovechild).

Access finally gets his shit together and it able to separate the merged universe back to the two separate ones. He gets a little assistance from Batman and Captain America to end the Space Brothers’ hissy fit. And now the two universes can co-exist and life is good.

Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense about two brother universes using magic humans to end a cosmic dispute, but once you get past that you can appreciate the story. What if the superhero you depended on was powerless to stop the end of the world? What if that superhero vanished and was replaced by a stranger in tights? What if you are a superhero and you can’t simply punch your way to victory?

The art is awesome. The panels spill over into each other, they overlap, it feels very fluid. Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini’s drawings are bold and powerful. And it’s pretty cool to see the Hulk and Superman exchanging blows in the desert.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t slow down the momentum of the story. If you like DC, it’s worth checking out. If you like Marvel, it’s worth checking out. If you like comics, then you should have read this already. You’re slacking.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Marvels

Kurt Busiek’s Marvels is an epic history of key moments in the Marvel Universe. Instead of being shown from the side of metahumans, it is shown from the side of regular people. Marvels is the story of photojournalist Phil Sheldon. He experiences firsthand the awe and fear that superheroes inspire. The Human Torch, Namor, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, a few X-Men and tons of other Marvel characters make appearances.

The story is pretty interesting, but once again the artwork takes center stage. Alex Ross is an amazing artist. Marvels lets him cut loose and depict iconic figures and important moments in the Marvel Universe is stunning, almost photorealistic paintings. Kingdom Come was all aged DC characters, well past their prime. Marvels depicts most of the important Marvel characters in all their glory. The panels seem to come to life.

If superheroes were real, life would be pretty shitty for normal people. And there are a lot more normal people than superheroes. Therefore, the world would be pretty shitty. People would live in a constant state of fear. They would rely on heroes to save them, because that’s what heroes do. But if they don’t get saved, they blame the heroes. If the heroes save the world, the normal people will forget after awhile. Marvels tries to tackle those issues. Phil Sheldon fears the Marvels, grows to accept them, rely on them, and ultimately defend them.

Marvels is a pretty awesome comic. The four issues cram a lot of important Marvel events and characters into a cohesive and interesting story. The artwork transcends the material, and your jaw drops with each turn of the page. It is simply beautiful art. It helps to humanize the heroes, makes them more down-to-earth and approachable, while at the same time idolizing them and putting them on a pedestal. Go read this now. Or at least Google Image Alex Ross paintings and admire those.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Kingdom Come (comic)

Comics should have a good story and good art. Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come has a great story and even greater art. The world is in trouble. Superman has retired, and a bunch of new but dangerous vigilantes rise up to fill the void, so Superman has to get back in the game. He starts recruiting heroes to try to restore balance between metahumans and regular people. Batman thinks Superman’s ideals are outdated, so he creates his own team of heroes, mostly ones without powers. Lex Luthor leads a gang of villains called the Mankind Liberation Front, because you need a league of villains to fight.

Kingdom Come has a lot of similarities to Watchmen. Rorschach even makes a cameo. The glory days for heroes has passed. A lot of heroes have retired, only a few are still active. A growing threat emerges, and heroes are forced to confront it. The heroes have to pick a side, and they don’t always see eye to eye. Right and wrong isn’t always black and white.

The story deals with regular people being threatened by metahumans. The metahumans fight with each other, recklessly destroying things and endangering innocent bystanders. Superman comes out of retirement to remind them that with great power comes great responsibility. I might be paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.

Alex Ross’s drawings are practically photorealistic, making the superheroes look even more super. The artwork is amazing. The DC Universe seems to come to life. Alex Ross is a great artist. The panels looks like photographs, sometimes you think you’re reading a scrapbook with captions and not a comic book. The battle scenes are intense and chaotic. He crams a lot of background details into each panel, look carefully and you can find lots of Easter eggs, like characters from other comics or real people.

There are a bunch of DC characters running around the story. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern… most of the big boys make appearances. Captain Marvel plays a significant role; he is probably the most important character. Captain Marvel a.k.a. Billy Batson is the only one who is both a regular mortal person and a metahuman. He is initially being brainwashed and used by Lex, because he is the only one capable of stopping Superman. He eventually regains control of his mind and saves the world. Sorry, that was kind of a spoiler.

This book is worth buying. Not only does it have a good, satisfying story, but the art takes it to a whole new level. You can read it multiple times, and you should read it multiple times. In fact, you should have already read it. So go do that if you haven’t yet.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II

Alan Moore is the shit. The League or Extraordinary Gentlemen proves that. This is the second installment, and solidifies Alan Moore as a Comic Badass. The first issue in this series brings together a bunch of Victorian Literature characters together, and this second volume reunites them. We already know the characters so we can have fun with them. That’s that Moore does. He jumps right into the story, and it’s a better story than the first one.

The first issue of this series is important, because it introduces the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Now that we know each character and what the represent, the new conflict will either make or break the ensemble, and there is more drama and tension if it does so. There is much more at stake than in the previous story. The plot recreates the War of The Worlds, and so not only must man deal with foes from beyond, but they must deal with themselves internally.

Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man go at it. Much of what occurs between the two is implied, but it is horrific. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but there is man rape in this story. Savage, dirty man rape. And it is justified. Literature doesn’t have to spare feelings; it just needs to reflect the real world. And man rape is a part of the real world.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen celebrates literature. The second volume rejoices in it. You have cameos from John Carpenter and creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Wind in the Willows. The character are much more active and independent from their creative author, Alan Moore gives them much more room to explore their boundaries.

Alan Moore has fun unifying classic literary characters. He pays homage to their origins, but also makes them his own. Mr. Hyde is the best example of this. Everyone who pretends to be cultured knows about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Moore makes Hyde more of a villain and more of a hero than Robert Louis Stevenson ever could have fathomed. He redeemed Mina Murray in a savage and brutal, yet honest way, the only way that he could have.

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is a great comic. There are more than two volumes, but they are all the evidence you need to prove their longevity. They are essential. They are necessary. They  are worth reading, so get on it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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