Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The First Eleven Power Rangers, Ranked (In an Order that Will Make You Fight Me)

Growing up in the 90s, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers impacted me in a huge way. Before MMPR, my life goals were limited to being a Wild West gunslinger, a Ninja Turtle, or a real dinosaur. But the Power Rangers changed all that. They were like all of those, but combined. Forget six-shooters – they had laser guns. They did so many jump kicks, but didn’t have to live in a sewer. And why be a dinosaur when you could drive a ROBOT version of one? That’s like being a T-Rex, while still having thumbs to play Nintendo and long enough arms to high five!
Unfortunately, the show I remember MMPR being is not the show it actually is. I’ve been slowly making my way through Power Rangers from the beginning, and it has not aged well (not that I expected much from a baby show for babies). That said, I still have some fondness for it, and in honor of the new (technical) first issue of Boom’s new Power Rangers comic, I’ve decided to rank, from best to worst, the first eleven teens to wield the power of the Morphin’ Grid (TM).
You are going to disagree with it.
1) Adam Park (Second Mighty Morphin’ Black Ranger, Green Zeo & Turbo Ranger)
Look, we both know this isn’t who you wanted in the top place. Go ahead and scroll down until you find him, then come back. I’ll wait.
Back? Good. We’ll argue later.
Adam replaced Zack during season 2 when the original Red, Black, and Yellow Ranger actors left the show unceremoniously. Admittedly, his first several adventures as a Ranger involved line delivery that sounded like he would burst into tears at any given moment, but he quickly grew to become the only replacement Ranger to develop a real personality. It also didn’t hurt that Adam’s actor, Johnny Yong Bosch, was a brilliant martial artist, and his tenure in Zeo involved some of the most entertaining choreographed fights. Also, tons of backflips.
Adam was so great a Ranger, my best friend once explained in uncomfortable detail how he would kiss Adam on the mouth within a month of proposing to his girlfriend.
2) Billy Cranston (Mighty Morphin’ Blue Ranger)
Billy is one of the longest-running Rangers, although technically he left the team during Zeo to work in the Command Center with Alpha and Zordon. But, honestly, a guy as smart as team genius Billy was wasting brain power on karate chops before. Dude built the team’s teleportation/communicator watches, a flying car, and maybe even the giant robots of later seasons (it’s never directly stated, but seems to be implied). Unfortunately, Billy suddenly aged super fast and then had to go live on a water planet for reasons and fell in love with a fish lady (I would say it was a whole thing, but it all happens in like two episodes. Show wasweird, you guys.)
3) Trini Kwan (Mighty Morphin’ Yellow Ranger)
In all honesty, Trini is one of the more forgettable Rangers. With Kim filling the “Girl” slot on the team, Trini just kind of was.
That said, in episode two she tore off the monster’s head and chucked it into a pit to Hell. And one time she ran nonstop for an entire episode and then danced on top of the head of a giant turtle. Also, her uncle was a karate scientist.
10/10 Would be baffled again.
4) Zack Taylor (Mighty Morphin’ Black Ranger)
Zack was kind of the fun jokester of the team (in as much as the show allowed characters to have personality). The original second-in-command of the team, he was also one of the more effective and interesting fighters of the original group, utilizing a weird dance-style he created called Hip Hop Kido. He was also Jason’s best friend until he got snubbed once a certain emerald-hued teen showed up in Angel Grove.
In all fairness, though, it was pretty much deserved after he pouted on a mountain because not enough people wished him a happy birthday.
5) Kimberly Ann Hart (Mighty Morphin’ Pink Ranger)
Like I said above, for a long time Kim was just filling the role of “Girl” on the team. She said a lot of “Oh my gods” and “as ifs” and whatever old white guys thought teens said in the 90s. She spent at least a third of her Ranger tenure chewing gum. Her first reaction when flying a GIANT ROBOT PTERODACTYL (into a tree – not kidding) was “nice stereo”.WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, KIMBERLY? DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. JUST LATCH ONTO MEGAZORD’S CHEST AND SIT THE HELL STILL.
6) Jason Lee Scott (Mighty Morphin’ Red Ranger, Gold Zeo Ranger)
Jason falls into the rut of being the leader, which the writers apparently decided was probably the most character development and personality a bunch of babies could handle in 20 minutes every weekday. This becomes even weirder when actor Austin St. Bernard (probably his name) left the show, and suddenly the leader of the team was conveniently either busy or not facing the camera until his helmet was on. He also was a bit of a jerk, as he was total BFFs with Zack until the next cool guy walked into school and Zack was left behind. Karma bit him in the ass, though, when he was demoted from team lead in season 3 when a bunch of babies decided they all liked the new cool guy better than him, too.
7) Katherine Hillard (Second Mighty Morphin’ Pink Ranger, Pink Zeo Ranger)
Kat was brainwashed by Rita to spy on the Rangers for her, even though Rita had a telescope that could see into the Rangers’ houses from the moon? She also turned into a kitty? And a monster kitty? But then she got better? And she’s still somehow not the most problematic Ranger.
8) Aisha Campbell (Second Mighty Morphin’ Yellow Ranger)
She fit in Trini’s suit.
9) Rocky DeSantos (Second Mighty Morphin’ Red Ranger, Blue Zeo Ranger)
Rocky was brought in to replace Jason, but wasn’t trusted to be the actual leader of the team because he is dumb as a rock. When the team gained the Zeo powers, he was even demoted to Blue. He jump kicked himself into a boo-boo, and Zordon just said, "f*** it. Give his powers to that baby with a stupid mushroom haircut." He just...I don't...ZZZZZzzzzzz...
10) Tanya Sloan (Yellow Zeo Ranger)
Look, Tanya threw this list off by being only from Zeo and jumping my count from an nice even 10 to 11. But that’s just Tanya in a nutshell – she’s a problem. Someone explain her to me. She’s maybe from the p...ast...? I mean, she joins the team after all the Rangers were turned to kids and travel back in time to retrieve the Zeo crystals (It was a whole thing again. Kat met herself as an old lady. It would make less sense the more I try to explain). She lived in Africa in the undisclosed past, if I understand the events correctly (and I refuse to admit defeat to a show made for kids who can’t color in the lines). Her parents are Indiana Jones adventurers? She’s maybe dating Adam? I just...someone help me understand her.
11) Tommy Oliver (Green and White Mighty Morphin’ Ranger, Red Zeo Ranger)
Okay, we both know you furiously scrolled down here to figure out why everyone’s favorite Ranger is at the bottom at some asshole’s rankings. It’s cool. We’ll get this over with, you can calm down, have a soda, then scroll up and read about how my friend wants to tongue kiss Adam.
Look, Tommy is the worst Ranger. You don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to say it, because I don’t want my nice new apartment egged. But this is Real Talk here. Tommy sucks. Like a lot.
Tommy is completely inept. He is constantly going to karate class or some bullshit the exact second a monster attacks. He drops, loses, or DELIBERATELY REMOVES his communicator so regularly you’d think he’s still a sleeper for Rita. Season two involves him clutching his chest during battle all the time because his power is in constant flux. Is it Thursday? Because he’s goddamn evil again. Greatest Ranger my ass. Is he a great fighter? Sure, but he screams “HUT-SEEYAH!!” so much the Putties would rather just lay down and die. His brilliant tactical plans involve pretending to be a watermelon so a monster will eat him and sending his clone back in time to maybe bang his grandma (barely a joke).
Also, dude is skeevy as hell. I don’t want JDF breaking my teeth or anything, but he could not act. Every line that is supposed to be emotional comes out with the flatness of a serial killer. His relationship with Kimberly feels one-ended, like a stalker with her name highlighted on the “PEOPLE TO MURDER” list on his fridge.
Plus his hair is long and greasy and gross and I don’t like it. I do not like it shave and a haircut one bit.
Honorable Mentions:
Farkas Bulkmeier and Eugene Skullovitch (Bulk and Skull)
You guys are the Rangers of my heart. Never give up on your crazy, pratfall-prone dreams.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gay marriage, X-Men, and Nazis

Hi, Humanity. I'm livid.

I've been very busy lately trying to get Ragged Rider stuff done, so I haven't been very consistent with my posts here.

But right now, Humanity, I'm very angry and I need to type out my frustrations. No sketches, no jokes, just real talk. I apologized if this becomes rambling. Let's start this off bluntly:

What is wrong with you? Why are you full of such hateful, spiteful people?

Some of you may have heard recently that homosexual X-Men C-lister Northstar is getting married in Astonishing X-Men #51 next month. It was apparently mentioned briefly on The View. This week's issue 50 featured the proposal between Jean-Paul (Northstar) and his boyfriend Kyle. I didn't think much of it, as I'm not much of an X-Men fan and I know little to nothing about Northstar beyond his name, his powers, and his sexual orientation. But I'm happy for the step Marvel Comics is making, regardless of how small it is or the fact that they're telling anyone who will listen in obvious hopes that the controversy will work in its favor the same way it did for J.C. Penny and Archie. There's a good chance I'll even pick up issue 51 (despite having no investment in the series, stories, or characters) just to show my support of the decision and "put my money where my mouth is".

Because I support gay rights. And I'm offended that that's something I have to declare. I shouldn't be a minority here. I'm not gay myself -- this isn't even my cause. But I am very passionate about it. I have gay friends. I have gay family. And even if I didn't, I would like to think I would still feel the way I do. Because I am a f***ing human being, and despite much evidence to the contrary, I want to believe we're better than this.

But I'm getting into rage out of context.

I went to pick up my comics on Wednesday with my friend Joe. The small shop I go to hadn't finished organizing all the new comics of the week, so we went back and chatted with our comic guy (who I won't name) as he unloaded the boxes. He produced some small cardboard promo cards about the X-Wedding and handed one to Joe and said, "Here, you may want this." He then told us, eyes rolling, how Northstar proposed to his boyfriend this week in the pages of Astonishing and flipped through the book to the splash page of the event. He pointed to it and said, mockingly, "See, he even gets down on one knee and asks him, 'oh, please marry me'." And I thought, Well, yeah. That's typically what you do when you propose. I mean, I'd hope one day he finds someone and does the same thing. What is there to mock here?

Then he glanced back at the panel for a second, shuddered, made a face, and grunted, "Yech!" As he set the magazine back down he lamented, "What is the world coming to? Putting this kind of garbage in comic books..."

And I just stared at him. I felt like I should have said something, but what really could I have said? Any response I could make wouldn't have changed his mind and would have been antagonistic enough to cause an argument. If I started a fight every time I disagreed with something he said (and I've never met a person who's been more wrong in their opinion of comics) I'd never be allowed back in the store. And I like the guy and, on most occasions when he's not blatantly misunderstanding everything that makes a comic "good", I consider the guy a friend. I just changed the topic to the Battleship movie, paid for my comics, and left.

Even in the car, Joe "I'm not homophobic, but here's why I'm homophobic" S***** [Joe said I could use his last name only if I don't make him "sound like a homophobe"] -- who has been quoted as telling me, "I don't care if they make a character gay, just don't make it one I read!" and "They can't make Spider-Man gay because instead of punching people he'll just talk about being gay all the time!" (although he claims those are out of context) -- turned to me and said, "So how about when [Comic Guy] just shuddered at the thought of gay marriage."

And [Comic Guy] isn't the only one. One Million Moms, the mathmatically-impaired religious group behind the failed boycotting of gay marriage of Archie's Kevin Keller, have raised their complaint against Northstar's wedding. I couldn't read past that article's title before lasers started shooting out of my eyes.

In comics it's apparently okay for Wolverine to murder Northstar, but when he comes back to life (because Mutant Heaven has a revolving door in place of pearly gates), letting him marry is going too far.

This isn't just about comics and fictional couples, though. Just a few weeks ago I was a "participant" in the most awkward one-man "conversation" about homosexuality ever.

I was out to dinner with some people and my girlfriend (out of respect of related parties, other names won't be used). I was teasing Jeena about a conversation we had earlier and the topic of gay marriage was briefly mentioned. Another member of the party across the table overheard us and dove headfirst into a speech about how gays shouldn't be able to marry because it's immoral, a gateway to worse crimes, and all of time and space will crumble and fold into itself if the lips of two dudes touch.

He claimed that he didn't hate homosexuals, but then he used the following arguments against homosexuality. Now, I'm paraphrasing here, but all of these were points I swear he brought up:

  • They don't really want marriage.
  • Give them civil unions and such (y'know, things that are kinda like marriage but really aren't at all) and see how they like that.
  • If we let gays marry, what's to stop some guy from Alabama moving here and marrying his 30 wives?
  • If we let gays marry, what's to stop some guy from marrying his dog? (Probably the dog's inability to hold a pen and sign a marriage license. Also, canines looks stupid in dresses.)
  • People have sex with pets in other countries. Most of the vet visits in [I forget where he said, but I think it was Switzerland] are for sexual abuse to animals.
  • Gay relationships are always more violent and abusive than straight relationships.
  • Gay couples often don't stay together long and most of their marriages end in divorce.
  • (Addressing me...) Now, you're a good-looking young man. You'd probably have, on average, sex with maybe three partners in a month/week (I forget which he said. Month seems more reasonable, but I remember it as week). On average. But for a gay man, it would be in the hundreds. Most of them at the same time.
  • Gay people are crawling with STDs.
  • Seriously, they're like oozing them.
  • The Nazis were secretly a gay organization.
  • I'm serious. It's an established fact. (Because at this point I had broken my stone-faced facade while letting him "get it all out" and smirked)
  • Hitler was gay.
  • Now, I'm not saying the gays are Nazis, but the gays are Nazis.

At this point I politely excused myself to use the restroom and text everybody I knew about how I was having the most uncomfortable conversation of my life. While I was gone, he told Jeena -- who had been seconds away from banging her head against the table until she forgot Math -- that he thought he upset me. When I came back, he apologized to me profusely and then attempted to make up for everything by trying even harder to convince me that my opinions were wrong.

After we were all finished eating and got up to leave I thought it may all finally be over, but nope. Because I forgot we shared a car ride with him, so we spent another ten minutes or so on the topic. And by "we" I mean "he", as I just stared out the window wishing that really was a hippo riding an incoming atom bomb and not just a cloud that looked like one.

I didn't argue back, because I realized there was no point. I wasn't going to win the fight. I wasn't going to change his mind. I would have just sounded to him as he did to me. And beyond that, I don't need to be making more enemies, especially with the people in Jeena's life.

It's their right to have their own opinions, just as it's my right to get on the internet and complain about it. I wish I could have argued back, but here I am typing this instead, accomplishing nothing outside of relieving some stress. It's times like these that I wish I drank.

How's that for an anti-ending?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Comic Reviews - May 2, 2012

4 out of 5
Floating Capes
Action Comics #9 - (4/5)
Writer - Grant Morrison
Art - Gene Ha

After the sporadic and condensed confusion that was the Brainiac arc, it's nice to read a solidly enjoyable, yet still Morrisonian, Superman story. This story, dealing with alternate universes and focusing on the black President Superman that appeared in Morrison's Final Crisis, was a lot of fun. There's a lot of not-so-subtle commentary on the current idea of a superhero that echoes back to his work on Animal Man that I really enjoyed. One of my biggest complaints with the first arc of the new Action Comics was that it felt less like a new retelling of the origin and more like a "what if" tale. There were too many "clever nods" and story alterations that only had an impact if you already knew the original references (such as the build-up to Brainiac) - which defeated the purpose of a new origin for a new audience. It felt less like a a welcome to join in and more like a Where's Waldo for what's different now. Ironically, this story of an alternate-Earth Superman felt more like a true Superman comic than the last arc (perhaps because it presents the idea of alternate worlds within a few pages). There are a few questions I had with the alternate universe that I have with all alternate universes because I think too hard about everything, but none of them are problems. Ha's artwork is solid, although the way he draws this Superman's cape is awkward, and it's presented better in the backup by Cully Hamner. The rest of the backup is forgettable, and I'm still pissed that these are sucking an extra dollar out of my wallet. Overall though, a fun issue that finally has me looking forward to next month.

5 out of 5
Air Combo Finishes
Animal Man #9 - (5/5)
Writer - Jeff Lemire
Art - Steve Pugh

I still love this book so hard and I remain baffled by those who rate Swamp Thing higher each month. The amount of world-building here by Lemire is commendable, as is his clever little nod to Morrison's run at the beginning. Steve Pugh is doing a fine job filling Travel Foreman's shoes, though it's nice to see Foreman handling covers still. The story really gets moving this issue and dives into territory I wasn't expecting, as well as feeding into DC's recent crossover addiction next month beyond Swamp Thing. Also, Zombie Buddy Baker punches a bird and bites its head off. It's pretty much the greatest thing ever.

4 out of 5
Secret Message Bras
Daredevil #12 - (4/5)
Writer- Mark Waid
Art - Chris Samnee

This issue was a fun distraction from the ongoing Omega Drive story, while still tying in. I'm not super familiar with Daredevil beyond this series, so it was nice to see some backstory into his friendship with Foggy, as well as accelerating his relationship with a new love interest. Samnee does a great job taking over the pencils, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't still miss Paolo Rivera. His panel construction and page layouts are superior, but that isn't to say Samnee doesn't deliver a solid book. Especially since, action-wise, the story is fairly tame, being mostly dialogue-driven. Overall, a fun issue and I look forward to the next.

3 out of 5
Hats So Tall They Leave
The Panel
Dial H #1 - (3/5)
Writer- China Miéville
Art - Mateus Santolouco

My familiarity with Dial H doesn't extend beyond a basic knowledge of the core concept. Dialing 4376 (H-E-R-O) on a special phonebooth will grant you unique powers for a limited time. It sounds goofy enough to be a lot of fun. And while it was a little different than I expected, I enjoyed this first issue. The tried-and-true "reluctant hero" trope works well here and makes for an interesting tale. The two Phone-a-Heroes we see this issue are both unique, but the first, Boy Chimney, is the more memorable. It's unfortunate that, the way I understand it, we won't ever see him again. The art is competent, but a little too rough for my tastes. At times it became a little too difficult to see what was happening. Also , kudos for the hidden Pandora like in the original 52 #1s. While I wasn't as blown away as I'd hoped, I enjoyed what I read enough to most likely grab #2 in a month.

3 out of 5
Panels Read in the
Wrong Order
Swamp Thing #9 - (3/5)
Writer - Scott Snyder
Art - Yanick Paquette & Marco Rudy

I am apparently the only comic-reader on the planet that doesn't love Swamp Thing. I don't dislike it either, but I just can't see what everyone else does. The story is paced very strangely and I'm not entirely sure what's happening at times. I don't understand what's going on with Abby or why. The art, though, is my major turn-off. It's too dark, with domination of black that, while I understand it works thematically with the Rot, is distracting. Worse, though, are the page layouts and panel borders. The pages try to integrate the borders into the artwork by using blood or branches to separate panels, but it becomes cluttered and disorienting. Some pages make it difficult to figure out panel order and the awkwardly-defined borders make facing pages look like a splash when they aren't and vice-versa. The book has become frustrating for me to read. I certainly don't hate it, but I don't much care for the story or where it's going. Combined with the difficult art, I may be done with the series once it completes its crossover with Animal Man.

4 out of 5
Roadtrip Songs I've
Never Heard Before
Sweet Tooth #33 - (4/5)
Writer - Jeff Lemire
Art - Jeff Lemire

While still forwarding the story a bit, this issue was more of an epilogue to the previous arc. I really like Lemire's use of the landscape format for this issue, especially for the prose storybook feel. The prose worked well, and was used to great effect to cover a lot of ground and time in less pages. Coming up with "storybook names" for his various characters, it was easy to tell Lemire was having fun, too. As an epilogue chapter, there's not much to say story-wise, but it feels like the story is heading towards a conclusion soon. I remember reading once that Lemire said he had planned up to 40 issues, and I don't know if that still holds true, but it certainly feels like its driving towards the end.

5 out of 5
Black Sheep Relatives
Ultimate Spider-Man #10 - (5/5)
Writer - Brian Michael Bendis
Art - David Marquez

I really love this series and its unique Spider-Man. Miles feels really unique compared to Peter and makes for a more interesting read (although he shares Pete's habit of letting everyone learn his secret identity all willy-nilly). Most interesting of this new Spider-Man is his relationship with his criminal Uncle Aaron, who wants to teach the opposite lesson about power and responsibility as Peter's Uncle Ben. Bendis shines with character development and dialogue, and I was really enjoying the moral discussion between Miles and his uncle. The final two pages, with their dramatic close-ups, really help to increase the tension of the moment. The "TO. BE. CONTINUED." still hits well, but its effect is diminished the second time around. Still, I cannot wait until #11.

I'm going to go see Avengers and the extra post-credits scene
we get in America. In your FACE, Europeans! USA! USA!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Comic Reviews - March 14, 2012

I became too busy last week and never posted reviews. Maybe I'll review those today. If you reach the end of this post and I haven't reviewed last week's crap, then it's not going to happen and everyone can just deal.

2/5 Butchered English
Ninja Attacks
Avengers #24 - (2/5)
Writer - Brian Michael Bendis
Art - Daniel Acuña

Thank God this Osborn crap is almost over. It sells itself like it's supposed to carry some weight, but it has no real noticeable impact or consequence, outside of ruining the character of Norman Osborn for use in another story. As I said before, he can't be the Green Goblin and he can't pull this crap again. He's just a watered-down Lex Luthor with cornrows. And his new power set is too one-note and over the top. If at all, it works for one big "shock", but that's it. When he turns into a purple Hulk, I yelled at the page. Also, how about he commands a bunch of ninjas to "ATAKKU". It's so goofy and out of character that it killed any chance of this book redeeming itself. With my store pull finally ended and the book now looking to tie-in to the equally pointless AvsX, I think I'm done.

3/5 Hilarious Murder
Sound Effects
Batman & Robin #7 - (3/5)
Writer - Peter Tomasi
Artist - Patrick Gleason

The Nobody story finally wraps up, and while it wasn't horrible, it certainly wasn't anything special. All the "twists" felt forced and the backstory was unnecessarily slowing everything down. And it really bothered me that the character of Damian seems to be progressing backwards from where Morrison had taken him while he was on the book. His actions at the end weren't even a surprise since they've been very clearly telecasted for a while, plus Nobody wasn't really the kind of character that could stick around, with everything he knows. The art was kind of disappointing, as well. A lot of heavy shadows and blacks and some awkward character proportions. The cover especially falls short. Still, the heart in the book, while not reaching where it should, is something I enjoy enough to see it develop. It seems the next issue looks to be an epilogue of sorts, so I may pick it up if the week is slow.

3/5 Noks
Green Lantern #7 - (3/5)
Writer - Geoff Johns
Artist - Doug Mahnke

I was very ready to drop Green Lantern, and was only stuck grabbing this issue because of the way pulls are set up in my shop. The idea of Sinestro as a Lantern, and even the whole reluctant "buddy cop" thing with Hal, originally excited me, but it ultimately wasn't going anywhere. Unfortunately, this issue starts off a story promising to reveal answers about the Indigo Lanterns, and the whole Lantern Mythos was something that genuinely interested me enough to read the series way back when. While the title still has its problems and this issue in no way really shines, the world-building continues to pull me in for at least another issue.

5/5 Chewed Umbilical
Saga #1 - (5/5)
Writer - Brian K. Vaughan
Artist - Fiona Staples

God damn it. Just...f***in'...god damn it.
I didn't want to love this book. I didn't want to hate it or even dislike it, but I just didn't want to love it. I almost didn't even pick it up, but at 40 pages for $3, I couldn't pass it up. I was hoping I would just like it enough to grab it in trades or read it off of Seth or something, but it's too good. The story was fun and fresh. The artwork is really nice and has a lot of personality. The universe-building is fun and engaging. Every single thing in the book clicks. And for such a large first issue, no pages feel wasted. It's the first new series in a long while that made me wish it was next month already. I want it on my shelf in a nice collection of hardcovers, but I also want to read each chapter every month. The last series that I felt this strongly about off of one issue was The Unwritten, and that's become one of my favorite series of all time. It looks like it has new competition.

3/5 Split Head Soups
The Secret History of D.B. Cooper #1 - (3/5)
Writer / Artist - Brian Churilla

I heard about this new series online and the premise sounded fun enough to give the first issue a look. However, the $4 price tag almost turned me away, and, honestly, I wish it had done a better job. The issue is by no means bad. There are a lot of fun ideas and the artwork's real slick, but there was nothing to really grab me. It's the kind of thing that I'd tune in for the next issue if I could borrow it off a friend, or maybe buy the trade if I find it for cheap, but $4 is a lot to ask when the best I can really say about it is, "So...that was that."

5/5 Melting Words
The Unwritten #35 - (5/5)
Writer - Mike Carey
Art - Peter Gross

I've made it no secret that I absolutely adore The Unwritten with every fiber of my being. This month it came with some tough competition in the form of Saga, and while I think Saga ultimately came out on top, Unwritten didn't disappoint. Like Saga, we got a larger-than-usual issue, but this one came with a $5 price tag. With the conclusion to the "War of the Words" storyline, though, I certainly got my money's worth. Carey has been slowly beginning to show his hand, and this issue contains several good reveals, a strong conclusion to the arc, as well as a shocking twist for the next. The only complaint I have is that I have to wait 2 issues to see where it goes, as the next issue will be another .5 stand-alone (although that's never going to be a bad thing).

Alright, that's it. Also, hey, check out my daily sketches on Tumblr.

I'm not doing last week's because I'm lazy

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reviews and other things

I was going to write a post earlier this week, but nothing was really hitting right. Plus, Tuesday was my birthday, so I decided that not writing would be my gift to myself. Well, that and the Xbox Kinect I bought, but that's another story.

Also, I went through some of my old art stuff and came across some old sketchbooks that, aside from a few pages here and there, are virtually blank. One of them had like 10 or so pages with sketches that didn't start until like 5 pages in, which I thought was weird.

Anyway, I decided to start doing a doodle a day. I've been posting them both on Twitter and on Tumblr, if you're interested.

Here's today's:

Now...Onward to Reviews for February 29, 2012!

2/5 Luthers with
Ginger Cornrows
Avengers #23 - 2/5
Writer - Brian Michael Bendis
Artist - Daniel Acuña

Man, I just can not get into this whole Osborn thing. There are some interesting ideas and it's certainly not the worst story ever, but there's still a lot of stupid going on. It also doesn't help that everything since Dark Reign has damaged Norman Osborn (as a character) forever, in the sense that, without some serious retconning, he can never go back to the character he used to be. He can't go back to being the Green Goblin, and, if he did, One More Day removed any impact or motivation the character had. He's now basically the watered-down Lex Luther of the Marvel universe.
 Also, if two books come out in the same week that take place in a certain chronological order, let the reader know. You have that recap page - use it. Put a blurb on there that says, "This issue takes place before/after 'Other Series' #whatever." While it doesn't ruin anything, Avengers sets up some events that happen in New Avengers this week, and I unwittingly read them in the wrong order.

3/5 People hate Osborn
more than Spider-Man,
New Avengers #22 - 3/5
Writer - Brian Michael Bendis
Artists - Michael Deodato & Will Conrad

More Osborn shenanigans, but this is ultimately a more enjoyable book. Despite all written in the same snarky one-liner voice of Spider-Man, this team is more fun to read than the "core" Avengers team, and I'm more invested in their story. The story still tends to me a little too strawman-y, and I still can't figure out why Luke Cage has a stronger vendetta against Osborn than Spider-Man, much like how Hawkeye wanted Osborn more than Pete in Dark Reign. The murder of your girlfriend isn't something you eventually "mellow out" about. Still, the book is fun and the artwork by Deodato is nice, with the exception of his obviously-Tommy-Lee-Jones Osborn. The last page cliffhanger was also an interest surprise that I'm interested to learn more about.

1/5 Terrible jokes about
the Flash being fast
Justice League #6 - 1/5
Writer - Geoff Johns
Artist - Jim Lee

This continues to be such an incredibly stupid book. I really wish I had the willpower to drop a series mid-story-arc, because the completionist in me just needed to waste money. The story makes little sense and exists just so that Jim Lee can draw big action, and the pacing is absolutely terrible. The dialogue is atrocious as well. How about this line is spoken: "You're the world's greatest super-humans!" It was followed by, "What's your hurry, Flash?" Someone actually f***ing wrote those. Also, apparently Batman's bat-symbol disappears if he takes his cape and cowl off (what?) and Darkseid still looks like someone dropped him. There's also a back-up that features Pandora that guest-stars the Phantom Stranger, so this gets a pity-point just for him.
God, what a f***ing stupid book.

4.5/5.5 Giant Story-Fish
The Unwritten #34.5 - 4.5/5.5
Writer - Mike Carey
Co-creator - Peter Gross
Artist - Gary Erskine

The .5 issues of The Unwritten have actually been some of my favorites of the series. They're all self-contained one-and-done tales that give us some backstory on a particular secondary character from the series proper, and they've all been really fun. This one focuses on Tom's father Wilson and how he first encounters the power of storytelling. It's a well-written and interesting story, but I have to admit that it didn't hit me as well as the previous .5 issues. It felt more low-key and didn't really reveal any new information outside of some specific event details. Overall a good issue, but not as stunning as the others. But I'll hardly complain about getting two Unwrittens a month.

Well, that's all I've got. See you next week.

And watch Awake tonight on NBC!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Comic Reviews - February 22, 2012

Later than I wanted, but like you give a sh**.

3/5 Quick Batman Refs
All-Star Western #6 - (3/5)
Writers - Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist -  Moritat (& Phil Winslade - back-up)

I don't actually buy All-Star, but instead pick it up for my brother while he's at school and read it off of him. Jonah Hex is always fun, and I'm a huge fan of Westerns, so there's a lot I want to like in the book, but the last two issues have dragged a bit. The over-arching mystery is a little underwhelming and the emergence of a giant bat at the end of last issue was pushing the supernatural a little too much for me.  Luckily, it looks like the next arc, introducing Nighthawk and Cinnamon is looking to be a lot of fun. The appeal of Hex in Old Gotham has also begun to wane as well, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see Hex take on the Court of Owls soon. Were it not Kyle's purchase, I don't think I'd pick up the book myself - mostly due to the $4 price tag. As a $3 book most of my complaints are minor, but that extra dollar is to justify hit-or-miss back-ups. The last one, featuring El Diablo, I thought was a lot of fun, but this issue concludes the story of the Barbary Ghost, and it doesn't fare as well. Overall, it's a fun book and I'm certainly getting what I want out of it, but were Kyle to drop it, I'm not so sure I'd pick it up myself.

4/5 Road-Ragin' Vamps
American Vampire #24 - (4/5)
Writer - Scott Snyder
Artist - Rafael Albuquerque

American Vampire is a book I pick up issue-by-issue, telling myself I can quit it whenever I want, but each chapter brings me back for the next. This most recent arc, "Death Race", has probably been my favorite. And seeing as the original arc featured vampire cowboys, that's saying something. The arc's main character, Travis, is fun and engaging, with a backstory that, while a bit cliché, is interesting. Rafael Albuquerque really shines here. While certain details like faces aren't always his best, the man really gets to strut his stuff drawing action. With both a car chase and a car explosion, Albuquerque doesn't disappoint. Also great? Not as anectdote-heavy as every other thing Snyder has written.

3/5 Bad Food Puns ->
Chew #24 - (3/5)
Writer - John Layman
Artist - Rob Guillory

Chew is a book I continue to pick up more out of habit than dedication. It's not that it's a bad book, but it's been going on a bit too long and has begun to lose its luster. I'm not really sure where it's going anymore and it seems to be rehashing a lot of the same jokes, and those jokes have become increasingly juvenile. It's a book I kind of just want to end so I can be done with it, but only halfway through, I'm barely at the main course. I wish I hadn't managed to grab a first issue so I'd be stuck grabbing the much cheaper trades instead, where I think it would hit much better. Even Guillory's art, which was always the highlight of the book, has begun to bore me. He still throws in some funny background gags, but it's all beginning to feel stale. It also doesn't help that this arc has been really unfocused and kind of all over the place. This entire issue was a sidetrack from the Chu's plot, which is even more obnoxious knowing that the conclusion was put off a month for it.

3/5 Buzzes Killed With
No Mignola Interiors
Dark Horse Presents #9 - (3/5)
Writers - Various
Artists - Various

The most recent two issues of DHP haven't hit as well as the rest of the series. Part of it may be the absence of "Finder" and "Resident Alien", my favorite recurring stories in the anthology. In their place, many of the new stories have been pretty weak, averaging out to mediocre to bad. While this month's installment features less "bad" stories than last month, it hits worst due to a lack of a real gem like #8's "Beasts of Burden" short. The "Lobster Johnson" story is probably the best, but it's really only a decent Mike Mignola short, and is hurt by Mignola not doing the interior art, but teasing me with a nice cover. I was looking forward to Paul Pope's short "1969", but it was probably my least favorite, being mostly uninteresting and having often illegible lettering. Richard Corben adapted Poe's "The City in the Sea", which was good, but nothing special. "Concrete Park" continues to be absolutely terrible and impossible to follow. "The Once and Future Tarzan" became more interesting by the end of the second chapter, but that's more due to premise than the actual story. "Skulltar" actually surprised me by getting a few laughs. I still don't think the premise can last, but it managed to win me over for at least another chapter. "Alabaster: Wolves" was decent, but was basically an eight-page preview of an upcoming miniseries, and it didn't do anything special enough to motivate me to buy that book. Everything else was about average or forgettable. There wasn't even any of Neil Adam's "Blood" to make fun of. Hopefully next month is better.

3/5 Wishes that I Could
Rock Those Sunglasses
The Flash #6 - (3/5)
Writers - Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Artist - Francis Manapul

Despite that 3 rating up there, I actally enjoyed The Flash this month. Thing is, Manapul set the bar pretty high for himself with his first arc (hell, his first issue), and I was a bit underwhelmed this time, both in story and art. Aside from the title pages, there aren't really any fun layouts this time around. Everything is played pretty standard and safe. The story itself is also nothing new and is played pretty the point that I'm ninety-percent sure I know how it's going to end. I also don't really see the reasoning, from a story perspective, behind Cold's new powers. We don't get any explanation, and Flash even acknowledges it, so it's not just an arbitrary DCnU change - which I would be fine with. I'm not fanboy-pissed that they changed Captain Cold - I have no investment in the character. But the book's self-aware noting of this change makes me question its point. Overall, though, the book continues to be fun and I look forward to the next issue.

3/5 Disappearing Boobs
Justice League Dark #6 - (3/5)
Writer - Peter Milligan
Artist - Mikel Janin

JLD is probably my guilty pleasure book. It's not really bad or anything, but I don't love it and I could name several reasons I should drop it. However, it has its moments and it's a book I really want to like. It's got Constantine, Deadman, and Zatanna! How can I not read that? This issue gives us more or less an epilogue to the first arc after last issue's lackluster "we hate each other so bye" conclusion. It gives a reason for the "team" to get back together and I really do enjoy seeing everyone butting heads with Constantine. It still drives me crazy, though, that everyone can see and hear Deadman. It would be ignorable if there weren't already two books in the DCnU that contradict this: Hawk and Dove and the Deadman arc in DCU Presents. The book doesn't try to explain why everyone can see him, it just flat-out ignores it. Plus, I really like the idea that Deadman has to forcibly take over someone's body to have a conversation with the living. Janin's art works well for the book, though some of the pages get a little too dark (hur hur hur). Also, why was Zatanna's cleavage erased on the cover? It's not that I really need to see her chest or anything (the cheesecake-heavy artwork in her last ongoing became uncomfortable despite being a fun series), but it looks so goofy. I mean, if you don't want to show her cleavage, why dress her like that? You drew a damn zipper. Pull it up a couple inches or something.

4/5 Unique Identities
Disappearing While You
Wear Some Other Dude's
Fake Face
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #7 - (4/5)
Writer - Brian Michael Bendis
Artist - Chris Samnee

Before we start, I just want to say: I hate masturbation jokes like the one that begins the issue. I don't find them funny and think they're overused. Especially with how young Miles is. Anyway...
I love Miles Morales. He's right up there with Damien Wayne as one of the greatest characters created in my lifetime. I love reading his story and find him a fun fresh take on the Spider-Man mythos. Despite having already gone through it with Peter at the beginning of the series, I still found watching Miles learn his new powers to be enjoyable and intriguing. That said, this issue is hurt a bit by the usual Bendis decompression, where he takes a lot of pages to cover a small amount of time. Though this is great for development, it does make me notice the $4 price tag when the book ends just as things get interesting. I also notice that, while in the mask, Miles feels a little too much like Peter. There are bits where his uniqueness shines through, but it worried me that there were many times he was indistinguishable from Peter. I hope to see more from Spider-Miles outside of familiar one-liners. His internal monologue was certainly helping, so I may just be nitpicking. Samnee's artwork is fun, but a little shadow-heavy, and unfortunately still can't hold a candle to Sara Pichelli's amazing work. Overall, though, still one of the best books I'm picking up.

Alright, that's all I've got this week.

Go away now.

Seriously, go away.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (or "What Was That and Why Hasn't It Happened to Me Sooner?")

I saw Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance last night. What did I think of it?

Sorry, Rob. It's all yours after this.

It's utterly ridiculous in all the right ways, featuring Nicolas Cage's most insane and fun role yet, as well as more angry driving than Drive Angry.

And that featured a car with the license plate "DRVAGRY"

Now, the story in Spirit of Vengeance is nothing to write home about. Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a stunt biker who sold his soul to the devil to save his father and now becomes a demon known as "The Ghost Rider" in the presence of evil. Idris Elba offers to lift Blaze's curse if he rescues a MacGuffin (the MacGuffin this evening will be played by some kid who is most likely the Antichrist [uh...spoilers?])

That's really it in a nutshell. And if that doesn't sound interesting, you wouldn't be wrong. The plot is ultimately forgettable and unimportant. What makes the movie so fun is its style and tone.

And Nicolas Cage. It's like 80% Nicolas Cage.

For immediate watchability, just add Cage!

Here, let me explain:

I don't think a single word Cage said was pre-written. The directors just gave him the summary of the film's "plot" they were planning on slapping on the back of the DVD, took off his muzzle, and let him loose on set. And it. Is. Brilliant.

Cage's Johnny Blaze is a crazed, sociopathic cartoon character. He rambles on, yells at inappropriate times, and his eyes pop out of his head. When he's on screen, it often feels less like a Ghost Rider movie and more of a Nic Cage reality show. I swear to God his first transformation of the movie, which has him hissing and screaming while knocking over shelves, was just old footage of him hearing the reactions to the first Ghost Rider movie.


And at one point, while grilling someone for information by threatening to chew all the scenery until they all fall into a nonexistent void, he says a line that could not have possibly been anything but spur-of-the-moment loony talk. The entire theater lost it and it is, without a doubt, the most hilarious Nic Cage quote of all time.


I don't even want to spoil it, but it's then followed by a solid minute of Nic Cage just laughing and wiggling his head around on a motorcycle.

Even the moments when Cage acts normal are entertaining. He says each line in that monotone "I'm here, where's my goddamn paycheck" voice of his, and every sentence ends with his strange upwards inflection where he holds the last syllable a second too long.

To reinforce my theory that nobody bothered to give Cage a script, there's even a scene towards the end with Cage and his female protagonist, played by Violante Placido, that has this really odd one-sided sexual tension. It feels like Cage realized the movie was ending soon and he hadn't gotten the chance to bump uglies with the "love interest", so he figured now must be the time. Placido looks baffled as to why this scene isn't in her script and Cage looks upset that neither one of them is naked yet.

Now, if you're thinking, "Sure, Cage can be entertaining, but isn't half this movie replacing him with a CGI skullhead?", don't worry.

That brings me to my next point:

I don't remember the first Ghost Rider too well. I do remember, though, that the Rider was actually pretty boring. He didn't say much, if anything, and he just kind of stood around and pointed.

This has nothing to do with piddly. I just realized I hadn't drawn anything.

In the sequel, Cage actually plays the Ghost Rider -- or his body, at least, as his face is replaced with the CGI fire skull. This could have been a problem, as half the fun of Nic Cage is the faces he makes, but Cage makes up for it by really animating the Rider. He plays him much like a horror monster, giving him a creepy insect-like gait. He tilts his head at odd angles and never really walks in a straight line. In short, it's really a lot of fun to watch.

Even the Ghost Rider's "signature move", the Penance Stare, makes an appearance. It gets no real explanation, outside of a few vague lines from Cage, so rather than being the Rider forcing his victims to live through all their sins, it just looks like he's forcing them into a horrible up-close staring contest. And then you remember that the actors are just seeing Nic Cage disregarding their personal boundaries instead of a CGI skull, and it takes on a whole new form of hilarity.

You. Sins. Tell 'em to me.

The Rider speaks, too. Not a lot, I suppose, and it's mostly just whispering the names of his victims, but he does get a few lines in and at least one corny deadpan action-movie pun you can't help but smile at.

But not all the enjoyment comes from Cage alone...

The movie is a lot of fun because, like Drive Angry, it knows what it is and it knows its audience. It doesn't talk down to you, but it also doesn't try to please grandma because she walked in on accident. The script (you know, the one everyone but Cage got) is silly and some dialogue is terrible, but they make up for it by amping the action up to 11.

Things explode. People burst into flames. Ghost Rider is even given a new ability to transform any vehicle he rides into a flaming monstrosity. Aside from one exception (which I'll get to in a minute), there's never really a dull moment and not a single f*** was given.

It works fairly well as a comedy, too. Outside of Cage freakouts, most of the laughs are intentional, with some really funny jokes. Remember in the trailer when Ghost Rider is peeing fire?

I don't get it. Explain your hilarious joke to me, trailer.

I saw that, chuckled for a second, and thought, "That's going to be really stupid if I see it again."

But when it happened in the movie, it was actually pretty funny, mostly because it cuts back to Cage imitating it on the back of a truck. It even comes back again later.

The camera work is excellent, too. There are a lot of quick cuts like that that are intentionally edited for comedic timing, and chase since are shot at dynamic angles. There are even some stylistic choices that work well, such as the villains powers being used in a black void. Even the recap of the basic origin at the movie's start (and another at an odd spot in the middle) is shown in a really well-executed animated sequence.

Also, his bike sounds like a Transformer. It's used well to create tension before the Rider's arrival, but...Bayformers, man. Take that as you will.

There is a point towards the movie's climax where it really slows down. Bad. The action grinds to a halt and it gets really boring. It's a good twenty minutes or so of just wondering when the hell he's going to turn back into the Ghost Rider.

There's no camel. At one point Cage explains that anything the Rider, uh, rides transforms, too. This leads little MacGuffin to ask what if he gets on a tractor, or takes a taxi, or rides a camel.

We never find out.

I expected a scene after the credits, a daydream (that's what the peeing thing was), or something. Hell, even if they just teased it by having him look at a camel and smirk, I'd be content. But no. The perfect set-up and no pay-off. And I wasn't the only one in the theater who stuck around to see.

Lastly, the 3D is more or less pointless (we didn't have a choice), but I did get to make my favorite horribly stupid joke that no one else finds funny because I do it at every 3D movie.

"It's like it's being approved for all audiences right at me! No, you shut up!"

Overall, though, there really is a lot to like in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Save your questions until after I give a sh*t.

  • Drive Angry did not apparently have the maximum possible amount of angry driving.
  • No one gave Nicolas Cage a script, but instead let him believe he really was the Spirit of Vengeance and followed him around for a week.
  • Don't have children, because there's always that off-chance they'll be a MacGuffin.
  • I piss off everyone in the audience at 3D movies. Because I'm scum.
  • Apparently, the image of a skeletal camel is absolutely horrifying, because I can see no reason why you would not put that in your movie.
Seriously, though - go see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, even if you hated the first. Hell, especially, if you hated the first.

Still not convinced? Here's some science:

See y'all next week.

Now sit there and think about what you've done.