Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Weekly Reviews.

There hasn't been much out the last few weeks that I want to review. Well, there's been GLA by Dan Slott, but I'm going to wait until that series is over before reviewing it (same with Spellbinders, Day of Vengeance and a few others).

The "Big Events" like House of M and all the Infinite Crisis lead-ins look interesting, but I have no money to buy them, so I'm waiting for the trade when I can get the whole story for less (hopefully).

Since my budget only allows for a certain number of comics a month, this seems to be a dry spell.

Ah, well - I'm off to an academic conference for the weekend anyway. Maybe when I get back, if I still have any money - and the comic store still has copies in stock -I might review JMS' Dream Police from Icon. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunday review

Well, no comics came out this week that I was willing to buy. My comic budget is limited to a set amount, and I have a pull list for the comics - and there was nothing on it that came out this week.

So, instead I'll briefly review the Man-Thing movie, as the DVD comes out on Tuesday.

This movie had an odd history, originally as a direct to DVD movie, than Marvel toyed with the idea of a theatrical release - finally settling on a Sci-Fi channel premiere.

In an earlier comic review, I reviewed the prequel comic that was written by the script writer. I enjoyed that comic, and I watched the movie only because I enjoyed the comic so much - the writer showed a flair for pacing and dialogue.

The writer, Hans Rodionoff, has hinted at disappointment with this movie, and I can see why. Though there are moments of brilliance (the characters of Mike Ploog and the coroner are memorable), it seems the director (most famous for The Lawnmower Man movie) dumbed the script down, making it more of a B-movie schlock slasher fest.

Here are a few bullet points:

Good things:
1. Many of the characters are memorable. Though its obvious Mike Ploog is going to be killed off before the movie ends, you actually get to know and like the guy before it happens, so that it means more than the typical character death in a horror movie.

2. The "native American wise man" is a bit of an overused stereotype, but is given more depth than usual, and the character gets to be used in a slightly unusual way.

3. The Man-Thing is genuinely creepy.

Bad things:
1. The pacing is off. "Shocks" or events designed to make you jump in fright happen either too early, too late or go on for too long.

2. If you're looking for someone who is lost in the thick and dense swamp, apparently the best way to find him or her is to wander around aimlessly until you just happen to run into that person.

3. The opening sex scene seems tacked on and adds nothing to the movie.

4. The standard "corporate" bad guys who will kill wantonly and despoil the environment just to make a few extra bucks.

The DVD appears to have no extras worth speaking of, so I doubt I will be buying it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Wednesday review on a Friday - June 3rd, 2005

Yeah, yeah. Comics didn't come out until Thursday this week, due to the holiday.

Lots of great stuff. Here's two I particularly enjoyed:

Ballad of Sleeping Beauty TPB

This came out last week, but I didn't buy it until this week. I already have all (but one) of the original issues, but I figured I could spring for this collected version, especially since my local comic shop was having a sale.

There are two types of comic book tales I am a sucker for. One is a good magic based tale - like Dr. Strange or Ghost Rider - and the other is a good western. Alas, both types are rare lately. Dr. Strange and Ghost Rider comics come and go, but seem to lack permanent staying power, whereas Western comics seem to have died out a few decades ago. Marvel tried to revitalize the genre with their brilliant "Blaze of Glory" and "Apache Skies" series, but then ruined any chance of a Western Revival with the campy and poorly written "Rawhide." (This has nothing to do with the main character being gay in the "Rawhide" series - it was just badly written - sexual orientation had nothing to do with it).

Here, I managed to get an excellent blend of both fantasy and western genres. The translation from a generic feudal Europe to an American frontier works very well, as does the "splitting" of the prince. In this version of the tale, the prince figure is split in two - one is the typical western outlaw with a heart of gold and a checkered past, and the other is more of the traditional, if naive, prince. Add in a group of mystic Indians and an evil warlock of a U.S. Marshall, and this epic tale satisfies.

A few loose ends don't quite get resolved, and I got the feeling the writer changed his mind about an important plot point in the second issue, but overall this was a great series, and the artwork is absolutely stunning and beautiful. If you want a break from the comic extremes of traditional super heroics or more modern Goth based "mature" tales, read this fresh spin on a classic tale.

King Arthur vs. Dracula #1

Here we have another non-superhero (unless you count King Arthur as one) tale. Lately the industry seems to be exploding into these underutilized genres, and that's a good thing. I love super hero comics and hope the will always dominate the market to some extent, but these other genres are often worth exploring.

This comic reads like a really good action flick. Yeah, its light on substance, but its such a fun ride you want to see it again and buy the special edition DVD as well.

This comic seems to freely mix versions of both Arthur and Dracula. In this Dracula, you see details borrowed from vampire tales created by Bram Stoker, Francis Ford Coppola, Anne Rice, Joss Whedon (Buffy) and even a few hints at the Marvel comics version. In the Arthur saga, the mixing is even more apparent, with Merlin looking like he came straight from the recent Keira Knightley movie, but Arthur and his nights appearing like they do in the more Christianized versions found in the Renaissance tales.

This first issue is more of a set-up, but it ends with a shocker (let's just say Morgan Le Fay now has a few more powers than she did in more traditional tales). It's a set-up - the equivalent of the first half of a TV pilot, and it’s a doozy.

Read carefully, or you might miss a few small details as well.