GRAPHIC NOVEL Round-Up : Bendis’ UNCANNY X-MEN

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ALL NEW X-MEN VOL 2 HERE TO STAY – Collecting issues 6 to 10 of the series this is an interesting and fun premise for a miniseries, namely have the X-men of the past interact with the present. However for a series, it is a gimmick, an in-joke, that runs the risk of staying around too long, and outliving its sell by date. For the moment Marquez and Immonen art keeps it interesting, but already the premise is getting to feel belabored.

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UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 1 REVOLUTION – Collecting issues 1 to 5 of the series the pluses are a strong, witty and fun script by Brian Michael Bendis, and some gorgeous art by Chris Bacchalo. The weaknesses are the layouts can be lost under muddy finishing/coloring, and a tendency, unsatisfying tendency, to end the very slight collections on a cliffhanger. It is a weakness that both volumes share.

Add to that the outrageous price of $24.99 for only 5 issues ($5 an issue!!!), a hundred thirty plus pages of story and the absence of a complete, standalone story becomes even more insulting.

It is a very petty and miserly and obscene ‘bleed your audience’ policy that Marvel has undertaken here, that does not deserve to be rewarded by purchasing these overpriced volumes. That said, I do feel the writing in these volumes is fun and entertaining and action-packed and worthy of a read if not a buy.

Just be aware that the cliffhanger ending, appropriate for a $3 monthly serialized comic, is wholly inappropriate for an overpriced $25 collected edition ; that you should be able to enjoy on its own without waiting months for the next volume.

GRADE : B-. Until the ending I was enjoying both volumes, but without an ending the volumes are very much like a great parallel bar routine where the athlete fails to stick the landing. Pretty, but ultimately disappointing and forgettable.

And add that exorbitant price point of $25 for 5 issues of material (and yes I realize the trade can be had for a little bit cheaper, but that is still overpriced as well) and it becomes a case of look, do not buy.

Borrow or rent these puppies for a quick read, then move onto something else, that you would not have any problems paying retail for; something you would not mind proudly adding to your bookshelf such as BATWOMAN VOL 1 HYDROLOGY. A book that I have also recently read.

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DC publishing (the other big comic book company besides Marvel) has their own problems, however producing satisfying collections is generally not one of them.

DC hardcover collections, offer an issue more and two dollars less retail, and offer a contained story, something that Marvel’s new publishing initiative MARVEL NOW may want to take note of.

Marvel writers generally are currently doing good work (far better than their esteemed competition that with few exceptions is self-destructing due to editorial hubris), so to have that sabotaged by ghetto collections… possibly not the route Marvel wants to go.

To try the books and decide for yourself or to hunt them down for less than retail use the below links and this blog earns a couple pennies. If I’ve helped turn you on to something you would have otherwise missed (BATWOMAN HYDROLOGY is a must have for any art lover’s collection. It is exquisite), then please use the links below. Thanks:

All-New X-Men, Vol. 2: Here to Stay

Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 1: Revolution

Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology (The New 52)

Batwoman: Elegy

GRAPHIC NOVEL Round-Up! Mark Waid’s THE INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK!

GRAPHIC NOVEL Round-Up! Mark Waid’s THE INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK Vol 1 and Vol 2

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THE INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK Vol 1 – Collects issues 1 to 5, written by Mark Waid. The first three issues do a nice job of introducing Waid’s status quo of a Banner utilizing SHIELD to help him achieve the scientific greatness that being the Hulk has denied. The cost? Making the Hulk into an agent of SHIELD. So lots of interesting ideas in the first three issues, unfortunately the last two issues stumble. The art by Leinil Francis Yu is exotic, intriguing, chaotic and all this combines to be sometimes impressive, sometimes muddy and confusing. Grade : The hardcover at a retail of $24.99 for 5 issues, translates to $5 per issue. So grossly overpriced even if the book was great, and great it isn’t. So worth renting or reading it from your local library, but not worth buying. C+.

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THE INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK Vol 2 – Collects issues 6 to 10, and suffers from the opposite issue of Vol 1, here the first three issues, drawn by Walter Simonson I found uninteresting, and the artwork a far cry from Simonson at his best. Completely forgettable. The final 2 part story stars Daredevil and sports far better art by Matteo Scalera and a far more intriguing story. GRADE : C-. Worth reading for the last two issues, if you can borrow it for free, otherwise just pass.

If you disagree with my assessment and want to try or buy it yourself, especially to find options to buy it well below retail go here:

Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 1: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 2: Gods and Monster

Director Spotlight : The Films of Kasi Lemmons

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With the perhaps unnecessarily color titled BLACK NATIVITY headed to theaters this November, I thought now was the perfect time to take a pictorial gander at the films of its director Kasi Lemmons; a director who unfortunately like too many directors, particularly directors of color, does not get a chance to work enough.

Her 1997 debut film EVE’S BAYOU remains a personal and perennial favorite, being equal parts coming of age story and southern gothic tinged horror and magical realism. In the nearly 20 years since that film’s debut she has managed to make 4 feature films and one short, which is good to have at least that much work from a unique and talented director, and is also a tragedy to only have had that much work from a talented and unique director.

I do think the economics of making a theatrically viable film in Hollywood has kept her from truly exploring the promise of her first film; as I would have loved to see a dozen movies from Kasi Lemmon’s in her unique and dangerous southern gothic magic realism vibe. In the directorial genes of Kasi Lemmons, you had the promise of a director with the unique output of a David Fincher or Nicolas Winding Refn.

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However the films we do get from her, even hampered by the constraints of producing more accessible and conventional movies, still are never completely… conventional. There are stylistic choices and decisions that in places, take your breath away. Particularly she has never shied away from strong Black protagonists, and Black male protagonists as heroes, leading men, rather than comedy relief or the sexless partner.

Kasi Lemmon’s cinematic viewpoint of Black Masculinity, even when that masculinity is dangerous or flawed, is never less than riveting and dignified and hopeful, and as such is a viewpoint that is virtually forbidden/extinct in Hollywood films. I doubt BLACK NATIVITY will be likewise blessed, but I will still support the film and go see it, in the hopes a respectable opening gets Lemmons back to making films, that transcend… convention.

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Eve’s Bayou

The Caveman’s Valentine

Talk to Me

Recommended On-Demand/Roku Channel : POPCORNFLIX

The Roku on-demand channel POPCORNFLIX currently offers 29 sci-fi films for your free viewing pleasure. That’s the good news, the bad news is most of those movies aren’t worth watching. Movies like DAY IN THE LIFE OF DOE that are poor and inept, and insults to the term film.

However the channel has two films in its sci-fi rotation that are worth your time. They are:

SHUFFLE – From the description it sounds like a poor man’s GROUND HOG’S DAY, but from the first frame announces itself as something inventive and unique. Recommended.

GHOST FROM THE MACHINE- This undeniably low budget film is surprising in its delicacy, more intimate drama about people living in the aftermath of loss. And what happens when things lost can in some semblance… be found. Recommended.

Now don’t expect Amazon Prime quality, the video quality of films on PopcornFlix is marginal, but still watchable. The plus being that unlike the travesty that is the CRACKLE channel, where the amount and frequency of ads makes watching films an awful experience, you can actually have a complete, relatively uninterrupted viewing experience on POPCORNFLIX

Try it for yourself here!

Today’s recommended FREE Roku Movies: ZOMBIE AHOLE and SCARLET WORM

Courtesy of the MIDNIGHT PULP Roku on demand channel you can view, this week, two pretty out there cult/weird/grindhouse films; namely:

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Stick with both of them, most requiring of that patience is ZOMBIE A-HOLE as it becomes by the end a far better film than the title or opening minutes would lead you believe (Quite a few times I had to almost turn the thing off for fear someone I respected would catch me watching it :), but resist that impulse, get past the first 15 minutes and you’ll find the movie actually has a plot).

And no, I am not a zombie fan, this film works by being very much a tongue in check homage to the grindhouse films of yesteryear. With a reputed budget of only $3000 the sheer amount of creativity in this injoke of a film is awe inspiring. If you’re a fan of homage films such as BLACK DYNAMITE and horror films such as the original EVIL DEAD, give ZOMBIE A-HOLE a watch.

SCARLET WORM- is also a micro-budget film, but doesn’t come across as one. It’s of that ilk of films, born out of the spaghetti western absurdities of the 70s that can best be described as the existential western, think EL TOPO meets DEAD MAN. And the film is very good, and one deserving of repeated viewings.

Sample both movies for free here!

And if as impressed with them as I am, buy them here:

Scarlet Worm, The

Zombie A-Hole

ON-DEMAND Viewing Guide: The best and worst Roku

If you have a Roku Box and are looking to explore the world of ON-DEMAND viewing, the challenge is always to find quality free channels, with good content and no ads or limited and unobtrusive ads.

That is always a fluid hunt, as channel offerings vary from month to month, and in some cases week to week.

So without further ado my list of best and worst of Roku Channels this October.

If you have a Roku I do recommend supplementing free channels with at least one provider such as AMAZON PRIME or NETFLIX just because the Roku Free Channels, by themselves, you will find hard-pressed to fill your TV watching needs. However pair the free channels with AMAZON PRIME or NETFLIX and you can safely kiss your cable bill goodbye.

So what are, the free channels that are worth your time?

Well I’ll start with the disappointing, CRACKLE. When I first started using Roku this channel was great, however in a scant month their ad usage has become so excessive (you get ads before movies, you get ads if you fast forward or rewind, you get ads every 15 minutes, and you are unable to fast forward ads) and so annoying and obtrusive that it is not worth the frustration of dealing with.

So CRACKLE from a channel that was initially one of the best, has become absolutely one of the worst. (Their XBOX ads are so annoying as to be an assault) . Avoid this channel and I recommend everyone unsubscribe from it, and as their numbers drop it should spur the Sony owned CRACKLE to do the right thing and reduce the # of ads, and stop having ads any more often than once every 30 minutes, and remove the automatic ads should you fast-forward or rewind, because that’s just idiotic.

So yeah CRACKLE gets our Worst Channel mention, they should be ashamed of themselves. Okay that negative over now onto the good stuff.

Today’s channel worth your time is:

THRESHOLD+ – Has a good if not great selection of B movies, with a heavy dose of classic Horror and scifi movies. From the alien movies of the 50s to the low budget exploitation films of the 80s. The quality of the video ranges from good to mediocre, since much of this seems to be sourced from public domain or TV prints so no HD quality here. However it makes up for this in the lack of ads. Some notable films available for viewing on this channel are:

BOOGEYMAN (2005) – Not getting the IMDB derision and hate for this film as I find it stylishly and inventively directed, and better acted than most films of the genre. A film of poetical horror, which perhaps is too subtle for the blood and gore crowd. However if you are a fan of atmospheric slow burn films like the recent WOMAN IN BLACK, you may find this film a worthwhile watch.

And thanks to THRESHOLD+ you can view it for free and decide for yourself.

And other notable films available on THRESHOLD+ are:

MESSIAH OF EVIL
I MONSTER
SCARECROWS (1988)
THE BELL OF HELL (1973)
ASYLUM
THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF
SHE
4D MAN
X: THE UNKNOWN

More recommended on-demand channels next installment!

Graphic Novel Round Up: HAWKEYE MY LIFE AS A WEAPON


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HAWKEYE MY LIFE AS A WEAPON – This book does excel on several fronts. Writer Matt Fraction crafting a mainstream super-hero book that is refreshingly free of super-heroics. Rather it is a very ground-level heist, crime flick with a typically poorly used character in Clint Barton’s Hawkeye, finally allowed to shine.

The story is neither deep nor great, while visually reminiscent of such classics as DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN and BATMAN YEAR ONE this book lacks the depth to make it the equal of either of those. However that’s fine, not everything has to be excellent or great, there is a place for very good, and that niche MY LIFE AS A WEAPON fills admirably.

There are missteps to be sure, the collection sports only five issues of the series, with two of those being done by a less accomplished artist than David Aja, and the last story feels like what it is, a weak filler YOUNG AVENGERS story that has no place in this collection. At $17 for the softcover it’s an expensive read that ends on not a completely satisfying note. I personally am glad I rented this rather than buying it. Grade: B-.