Thursday, March 19, 2009

Issue #48: Comic Books For the Week Of Wednesday, March 11, 2009 & I Watched Watchmen!

Action Comics #875 (DC)
Top 10: Season 2 (America's Best Comics / DC)

I was unable to get to my comic book store, Acme Comics & Collectibles ( ) because I was covering for a co-worker on vacation. I will have to wait until payday to have another opportunity.

For this issue I will fill this space with y review of the film Wathcmen.

I saw it on Saturday, March 7, 2009, on opening weekend. Unfortunately my local theater did not have a midnight showing on midnight Thursday. I attended the first Saturday show at 11:30 a. m.

The opening credits were a clever way to work in the 1940's heroes into the film. Overall, I found this movie an excellent and faithful adaption of the comic book mini-series. The movie did not flinch from the violence suggested in the comic book. The violence and the sex scene in the Owlship made this a hard R-rated super hero movie, the most adult super hero movie I've seen. The film fleshed out the characters and contained as much of the basic plot as could be squeezed into the time frame. The change in the major climax from the comic book to the movie worked for me. It seemed to tie the climax closer into the main characters.

Having read the collected edition of this mini-series over the years, after seeing the movie, I was impressed for the first time how limited film can be in telling a story. Wathcmen the comic book was able to tell the story with a depth that can be difficult to bring to a movie adaption. This is why it has taken so long to bring a movie adaption to the big screen. Alan Moore, the writer himself, has said that he took the storytelling techniques exclusive to comics to tell his story, techniques that do not easily translate to film. The only downer about the viewing experience was that I was so familiar with the story, the thrill of seeing the story unfold before my eyes for the first time was lost. It wsa replaced for the most part by the joy of seeing panels and pages from the mini-series brought to the screen in minute detail. The devotion to the Watchmen story was apparent. Even though the costumes were changed, some drastically from their comic book originals, each super hero character was instantly recognizable in the photos released months before the film's release. The two characters whose costumes changed the least were Rorschach and the Comedian, the story's two most dark and grim characters.

When I can fit it into my budget I will buy the DVD The Black Freighter / Under The Hood, and when the deluxe, director's cut of Watchmen is released on DVD, that is the edition I will wait for. The movie is not the mini-series, but it is great enough to warrant multiple viewings. I can't wait until I can sit in my recliner with a big bowl of popcorn to watch Watchmen in the comfort of home.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Issue #47: Comic Book(s) For the Week Of Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Superman: World Of New Krypton #1 (of 12) (New Krypton #16) (DC) * * * * *

This was a light week (my budget thanks me) but at least the only title I subscribe to was one I have been looking forward to. Plus, it featured my favorite character, Superman.

Starting with this issue S:WONK will be the only comic book featuring Superman as the lead character for a year. Nightwing and Flamebird will be featured in Action Comics, and Mon-El and the Guardian will take over Superman. This first issue of this mini-series picks up after the end of Superman #685, when superman decided to temporarily leave Earth because he doesn't trust Zod and Allura, and feels the people of New Krypton could use his guidance. We begin to learn about daily life on Krypton, at least in this continuity. Krypton is not the utopia Superman has always idealized his homeworld in his mind. It's not perfect. He learns a little about the various guilds It's clever how writers James Robinson and Greg Rucka and artist Pete Woods have included the Kryptonian dress from various continuities into this modern version of Krypton and its only surviving city Kandor. I enjoy Pete Wood's art. It was great to see that, even though Superman is still learning about his native people, he has a few things to show them about having super powers. This first issue is setting up a very interesting mini-series. You just know Superman is going to clash with Allura and Zod, we just don't know when or how.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Issue #46: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion #4 (of 6) (DC)
Terry Moore's Echo #10 (Abstract Studios)
Fantastic Four #564 (Marvel)
Superman #685 (DC)
Umbrella Academy: Dallas #4 (of 6) (Dark Horse)
Back Issue Bin Special: Swamp Thing #10, June 1974 (DC)

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion #4 (of 6) (DC) * * * *
Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are still trapped in the Forest de Champ, and the Nesei Company of Japanese soldiers struggle in their attempt to free the Lost Batallion. Amid the chaos and carnage of war are some of the quiet scenes of war, with German and American troops plaing Lili Marlene on harmonica, as well as depictions of soldiers looking out for each other. The story, with intermittent illustrations by Correspondent Killroy of Up Front magazine (an homage to Bill Mauldin and his book Up Front) continues to be a great story. I can't wait until the conclusion to see how Easy Company and the Nesei Company of Japanese-American soldiers fare in this battle. I'm no WWII history expert, but this story feels like Billy Tucci did a lot of research to authenticate his story.

Terry Moore's Echo #10 (Abstract Studios) * * * * *
Ivy has some questions for HeNRI, and Julie and Dillon are still on the run. Ivy has shown herself to be a thorough and fast searcher when trying to find someone who doesn't want to be found. It's a quick read, most of the issue being several conversations that happen within minutes of each other, and the ending is the biggest cliffhanger of the series so far. Being a "quick read" in this case is not a bad thing. The plot advancement and character development kept me interested, and made me want to read this issue again just to savor the details of the story a little more.

Fantastic Four #564 (Marvel) * * * *
First of all, there's the Bryan Hitch cover, an homage to the famous Norman Rockwell thanksgiving painting, with the family around the dinner table anticipating the delicioius turkey they are about to partake. Inside is an unusual Christmas story, in more ways than one. It's unusual to have a Christmas issue of a title appear two months after the holidays are over, but it doesn't take away from the story. It's interesting to find out what the children of Reed Richards get for Christmas. You can bet it's nothing you can find at Wal-Mart. The issue begins with a flashback of the area of Scotland the FF are visiting in the story. How it connects to the FF will be determined in upcoming issues, beginning with the next one, if the last page has anything to do with it. Some shadowy figures are interested in one member of the FF family. what they have to do with the incident in the beginning flashback is a mystery. This particular story, beyond the setup of the coming threat, is a quiet story mostly, introducing us to a member of the Richards extended family. The character moments are as interesting to me as any fight scenes, in this or any titile. Maybe it's a sign I'm getting older. Well, next month I'll be a month older and waiting to pay for the next issue of FF at my local comic book store, Acme Comics .

Superman #685 (DC) * * * * *
Superman never gets physically tired, but we find out what makes him weary. While the scene depicted in this Alex Ross cover, which is always a great reason to buy a comic book, the consequences of Pa Kent's death figure in this issue, after the development of New Krypton. Plus. I like that Alex Ross shows himself a fan of old-school Superman, as Pa Kent is portrayed in a more tradiotional fashion than in recent storylines. First of all, Mon-El is now free of the now destroyed Phanotm Zone, but not of the lead poisoning that sent him into the zone for survival to begin with. There is an interesting panel that ties into the still ongoing, and late, Final Crisis: Legion Of 3 Worlds. There is an unmentioned, but visual hint that Superman's thoughts are on what happened to Chris Kent, who was sucked back into the Phantom Zone at the end of the General Zod story. The Guardian makes a cameo. The emphasis of this issue is the choice Superman feels he has to make. The split panel conversation he has with the two most important people in his life is very well done, and is a nice storytelling technique. The last two pages are especially heart rending. this issue sets up upcoming storylines and mini-series involving Superman. The art by Javier Pina is excellent.Some panels remind me of Curt Swan's Superman, which is always a great thing.

Umbrella Academy: Dallas #4 (of 6) (Dark Horse) * * * * *
This issue fleshes out why this mini-series is subtitled Dallas. This story is just as great, if not better, than the original min-series, and that was a hard act to follow. Gerard Way has written another excellent story, even more bizarre, and bloody, than the first Umbrella Academy story. A minor character who appeared early in this story has a more prominent role in this issue. what his connection to the Umbrella Academy is yet to be determined, and it is going to be fun finding out. The story of Number 5 is further developed as well. While Umbrella Academy will never be appropriate for younger readers, it is an interesting, bizarre story that takes twists and turns with every issue, if you can tolerate the blood and gore. Seance, Kraken and Spaceboy are also on the trail, and the cliffhanger on the last page is as big as it can get. And the cover with Rumor is about as original an idea as I've seen. It reminds me of some of the Julius Schwartz cover ideas for DC in the 1960's, like the Flash issue where he says"Stop. Buy this issue because my life depends on it."

Back Issue Bin Special: Swamp Thing #10 (DC), June 1974 (DC) * * * * *
Acme Comics ( ) had a $1.00 back issue table set up outside the store this Wednesday. I thumbed through it just to see what was there, not expecting to find anything I would want. In one of the boxes was this issue of Swamp Thing. As much as I like the character I have not read many issues of. I had this issue, which was the only one of his original run I ever owned. And I have only read very few issues of Alan Moore's run on the title. The only other Swamp Thing story I have is a team-up, of sorts, with him and Superman, which was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987). Swamp Thing #10 was part of the original run by co-creators Len Wein and Berni Wrightson. Still printed on newsprint and the limited printing process used by comic books of the era, this isue was one example of what could be produced in comics even with the production limits. This story was the return of Swamp Thing's archenemy Arcane and his Un-Men, who have reappeared recently, sans their master. We get a brief recap, for those who came in late, like me. The issue also involves the story of a slave plantation that used to exist on the site the Swamp Thing finds himself. The story of the long gone slave plantation does figure into the conclusion, but you'll have to read the issue to find out. It was great to own this issue again. I've read this issue several times since I bought this copy. I could find no information on any trade paperback or hardcover reprints of this original run, so if you want to read this issue you'll have to go on line or find it in back issue bins like I did.

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