Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wednesday Review 4/27/2005 - Exiles #63

In the 1980s (the time I was introduced to comics) one of Marvel's most popular titles was "What If?". Generally, this title explored the ramifications on a certain character if things had gone differently - say, Uncle Ben hadn't died (in the case of Spider-Man), or if Captain America had not been revived in modern times?

This title died out, was revived, and has recently returned in a series of one-shots a few months ago. Often, the thrust of most of tales was that no matter how bad things seemed for the heroes in the "regular" continuity, they could have been much worse. Uncle Ben living meant that Spider-Man became a selfish movie star, Captain America not thawing out in modern times meant a racist imposter of Cap became president of the USA, etc.

Now, remember the TV show Sliders? People hopping around from world to world, trying to find the way home to their home reality? OR Quantum Leap, where Dr. Samuel Beckett leaped around history, fixing problems in the timeline?

This comic combines all three concepts, and it's a great ride. If you have tried this comic out, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, this is actually a good issue to start with, as a lot about the mysterious origins of the "Exiles" team is revealed.

Basically, the team (whose line-up changes often - one great thing about this series is that ANYONE can die at any given time. In Spider-Man comics, no matter how much danger he is in, we know Spidey will never die, or if he does, he'll be alive before the end of the story arc. The format of this series allows for actual suspense) - where was I? Oh, yeah - the team. The team is sent to various realities by a being called "the Timebroker" and gives them missions to "repair" broken timelines in various alternate realities. Sometimes the mission are simplistic (a funny recent issue dealt with them buying a danish in order to save the world) to the heroic (defeat a tyrannical ruler) to the seemingly evil (kill all the remaining superheroes on this world).

Lately, the missions from the Timebroker have been more and more bizarre and evil, but on one world the Exiles find a machine that allows them to access the reality that the Timebroker emanates from. They head there, only to find out Hyperion (Marvel's version of Superman - and this version is evil), someone they thought dead, is there and wants to kill them all.

So they spend most of this issue running. At one point, Hyperion does go into "monologing" (as it was called in The Incredibles), but the script here gives him a valid reason for doing so (rather than the "that's what bad guys do" convention of the genre) that adds to his characterization and reveals a lot about the origins of the Exiles team in the first place.

Not that I buy the explanation Hyperion gives - it leaves too many questions unanswered. But this issue ends on a cool cliffhanger that promises more action next issue.

This comic is a great ride. Superheroes, alternate realities, and a real sense of danger - give it a try if you haven't yet. If you have and didn't like it, I pity you. ;-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Wednesday Review 4/20/2005 - Beowulf #1

You can get a preview of this issue here. [Yeah, I know it says #2 on that website, but they're wrong. The preview pages that are up as of 4/30/05 at 9 p.m. are from issue #1.]

This has the appearance of being a great new fantasy series. While a fan of superheroes, my favorite comics have always been the fantasy type (think Conan or Dragonlance comics). Perhaps that is why my favorite superheroes (Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate) tend to be magical in nature.

This new comic shows signs of mixing sword and sorcery fantasy with superheroes. The main character is named Wulf, and we are led to believe that "Wulf" is really "Beowulf" - an immortal who just happens to be in the big city (New York in this case) in our modern times. Currently, superheroes are mysteriously popping up all over the city, and he is seen as some sort of expert on this phenomena.

In this issue, he talks one nascent hero into surrendering after the hero bungles his crime fighting so badly that he endangers civilians. However, some bad guy intervenes and tricks the cops into mowing the hero down. This leave Wulf with the idea something sinister is going on.

There isn't a whole lot of plot in this first issue, but it sets up the world nicely. Wulf gets a bit of WWII backstory, his powers are set up, and a mysterious organization called "The Knights of the Blood" is referenced. The art complements the tale, lending a creepy and world weary effect to Wulf's dealings.

I highly recommend this issue. This sets up the tale well, manages to provide a lot of information about this particular comic universe in a small amount of time, and it sets the stage well, introducing major themes, conspiracies and characters without letting the action suffer.

One odd note: On the solicitation for issue #2 there is this:
In a scene uncomfortably familiar to recent news, Beowulf discovers a facility set up to imprison, control and interrogate these new super people by ANY means necessary.

I just don't get it. The story is entertainingly told and stunningly drawn - it can survive on just those merits. Why do they feel the need to put in minor digs at the Patriot act and the War on Terror? It takes away from the enjoyment of the tale by giving it an unnecessary political subtext.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wednesday Review 4/13/2005

A new feature on this blog, one designed to get me posting more often, but also to disseminate some of my accumulated wisdom. Reviews are not always from a political perspective. Anyway, the point of the Wednesday Review is to pick a comic or two that has come out this week and review it. That's it. New comics come out on Wednesdays, for those who didn't know.

First Review - She-Hulk: Superhuman Law TPB

This is a collection of Dan Slott's excellent series She-Hulk. This particular volume collects issues 7 - 12 of his run. Ever since Bryne's She-Hulk series in the 90s (where she addressed the reader and was very aware that she was in a comic book), the character has operated on a "meta" level where her adventures often comment on/criticize comic books. This series is no different, though here the metacommentary comes from She-Hulk working in a justice system where comic books (which, in this [the Marvel] Universe faithfully record the lives and adventures of the superheroes) can serve as legal documents.

This is quite a funny and endearing title. Dan Slott shows himself to be quite the writer, able to tell a story, weave in continuing subplots and still please the geek fanboys such as myself. The best example of this comes from the last tale collected in this book, "Some Disassembly Required." While the thrust of the tale comes from one of She-Hulk's old foes (Titania) gaining enormous power and thus finally having enough strength to kill She-Hulk.

But a secondary plot occurs when a group of comic fans must search through back issues of comics in order to find a way to save She-Hulk from this powerful enemy. At first, all they want to do is complain about how the continuity in the comics is screwed up (a common complaint of fans on internet message boards). But another character takes them to task and tells them to (instead of complain) assume that there are no continuity conflicts and instead to come up with a reason that explains away the apparent discrepancy. This guy gets a peck on the cheek from Jennifer Walters (the human alter ego of She-Hulk) and she tells him that he's "the kind of fan" she prefers.

However, most of the tale deals with a straight up action scene, with heroes coming out of the woodwork to aid She-Hulk and getting their butts kicked. Dan Slott manages to provide a tale that satisfies on many levels. The casual fan gets an often humorous, but spectacular action tale. The die-hard fan gets that as well, but also gets a gentle lesson on how to be a fan. Dan Slott seems to want to not just pander to his readers, but to improve them as well.

I hope he keeps it up.

Second Review - Man-Thing: Whatever Knows Fear TPB.

This trade paperback collects a three issue mini-series that prequels the upcoming Sci-Fi channel original movie Man-Thing. It also collects the first appearance of the Man-Thing in comics and the comic story that "inspired" the movie. [Note: The Man-Thing in the main tale, however, is NOT the same Man-Thing from the other stories appended to this collection. The Marvel universe Man-Thing is the product of science gone wrong and is loosely connected to the Captain America mythos. The one in the prequel tale seems to be a mystical force of nature.]

The writer of this series also wrote the script for the upcoming movie, so at least we can rest assured that the series will (somewhat) reflect the feel of the movie.

I have to say, I could tell that this was written by a screen writer rather than a comics writer, as much of the script (ably interpreted by Kyle Hotz) calls for "camera angles" not usually found in a comic. Early on, a conversation between two characters that could have been rendered with uninteresting talking heads is made more interesting by constant changes in perspective and the juxtaposition of differing, often jarring images.

This is not to say that this doesn't appear in comics (it does), but that it is rarer than in film, and its constant use reveals a sensibility tuned more to the screen than the comic page. It's actually quite refreshing (despite the art being effectively disquieting).

The tale in this comic, though, proceeds along fairly conventional paths. There are the standard villains: An evil company/big business that does not care about any lives lost, sacred sites ruined - or if the environment gets damaged along the way. Also, we have mule-headed local law enforcement officers who just get in the way. Meanwhile, the native peoples who inhabit the bayou are apparently noble savages who are closer to nature and purer spiritually than us benighted westerners.

All in all, the tale isn't bad and it's told with better than average skill. It held my interest and made it so I might actually check out the TV movie. I just wish the entertainment industry could find better/more original bad guys than the standard liberal boogeymans "big business" and "corrupt law enforcement."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I have no idea what to make of this......

Hey, I have no idea what to make of this, but I'm always on the watch for stuff my readers might be interested in. If I find a copy, I may post a review, but here are the covers and solicitation for a new "conservative" comic book.

This is not a recommendation (yet) - it's just me mentioning a curiosity. (The covers look real - does anyone out there know if this is real?)


Title: Liberality For All
8 issue mini-series
32 page (22 page story)
color (full bleed)
Issue #1 (two covers)
Cover A: Larry Elmore (Everquest, Dungeon & Dragons, Dragonlance)
Cover B: Donny Lin
Pencil & Ink (interior): Donny Lin
Creator, Writer & Lettering: Mike Mackey
Colorist: Nichx & Donny Lin

America's future has become an Orwellian nightmare of ultra-liberalism. Beginning with the Gore Presidency, the government has become increasingly dominated by liberal extremists.

In 2004, Muslim terrorists stopped viewing the weakened American government as a threat; instead they set their sites on their true enemies, vocal American conservatives. On one dark day, in 2006, many conservative voices went forever silent at the hands of terrorist assassins. Those which survived joined forces and formed a powerful covert conservative organization called The Freedom of Information League, aka F.O.I.L.
The efforts of F.O.I.L. threaten both the liberal extremist power structure and the U.N.'s grip on America, the U.N. calls F.O.I.L. the most dangerous group in the world. It seems the once theorized Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has now become a reality.

The F.O.I.L. Organization is forced underground by the Coulter Laws of 2007; these hate speech legislations have made right-wing talk shows, and conservative-slanted media, illegal. Our weakened government has willingly handed the reigns of our once great country to the corrupt United Nations. The Department of Political-Correctness is required to assist U.N. monitors to properly edit all print and broadcast media. Live broadcasts are a thing of the past; all transmissions are monitored by the U.N. and any offensive material is dumped.

Rupert Murdoch's decision to defy the Coulter Laws hate speech legislations, has bankrupted News Corporation. George Soros has bought all of News Corps assets and changed its name to Liberty International Broadcasting. LIB’s networks have flourished and circle the globe with a series of satellites beaming liberal & U.N. propaganda worldwide.

The New York City faction of F.O.I.L. is lead by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, each uniquely endowed with special abilities devised by a bio mechanical engineer affectionately named Oscar. F.O.I.L. is soon to be joined by a young man named Reagan McGee.

Reagan was born on September 11th, 2001. He is the son of a NYC firefighter whose life was spared by attending his son's birth. Reagan has grown to manhood in an ultra-liberal educational system: being told, not asked, what to think. With personal determination, which alienates him from his contemporaries, he has chosen the path less traveled the path to the Right.

Two decades of negotiation with the U.N., and America's administration of 2021 (President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore), has culminated in a truce with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, or so America is told. The honorable ambassador from Afghanistan has come to NYC to address the U.N., his name is Usama Bin Laden. Ambassador Bin Laden has announced that he plans a public apology for the misunderstanding; of the events of 9/11. This apology will occur exactly 20 years to the minute the first plane hit the WTC; this will be on the observation deck at the newly renamed Unity Tower built on the hollowed grounds where the WTC once stood.

Tomorrow is September 11, 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the horror of 9/11, or as it has become more politically correct to say the unfortunate events resulting from the uprising of middle-eastern fundamentalist Islam. Just days before his arrival in NYC, Bin Laden made a brief visit to Iraq, now a nuclear power that is run by the vicious Uda Hussein. In Iraq, Bin Laden received a tactical nuke that is now contained in his private diplomatic briefcase. Bin Laden plans far more than an apology at the Unity tower.

F.O.I.L. has become aware of Bin Laden's plot to destroy NYC and has devised a plan to stop him while simultaneously gaining permanent control of LIB's satellite network. Unfortunately, U.N. Forces have discovered the secret location of the F.O.I.L. Lair. It is a race against the clock to save NYC from a nuclear holocaust and the world from liberal domination. Only with F.O.I.L.'s help, can Liberality For All once again become Liberty For All!

I have no idea if this will be any good, but it can't hurt (I hope) to let the public know.

Enjoy! (or not! It's a free country).

NRO online is the place to be!

Jonah Goldeberg is the geek in residence on the Corner at National Review online. Usually, he is under the heel of a tyrannical K-Lo (K. J. Lopez) who refuses to let him discuss Star Trek, Star Wars and (a personal favorite of mine) Battlestar Galactica.

However, today the rules have been relaxed and the Geeks are emerging from the woodwork.

Click here and here and here and here and here and scroll up and down to see the geek love fest.