Three years in the making, since the box office shattering and acclaimed first AVENGERS film, Joss Whedon’s hungrily awaited follow-up AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON has arrived.

So being a fan of the first film, I was happy to make it down to one of the better and newest theaters to see this film in RealD 3D. I’m not typically an advocate for 3D films, but 3D post processing on the Marvel Studio films has been very good.

So I plunked down the requisite coin and entered the theatrical showing of the AGE OF ULTRON, and quick thoughts? I quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t the masterwork that the first film was, but that was lightning in a bottle and very hard to recapture. This is a solid follow-up, with characters you’ve come to like, played ably by actors that have become household names, and a solid and inventive and witty script that hits all the requisite points.

World ending threats? Check. Cool Villains? Check. Astounding set pieces and fight scenes? Check. Witty repartee and good natured bickering? Check. Budding romance and Scarlett Johanson in skin-tight and fetching uniforms? Check and Check! :) And moments of pathos and heroism? Check. And fun immersive 3D? Check.

All together Joss Whedon weaves together a 2+ hour blockbuster, a spectacle that is worthy of the big-screen, theatrical experience. That said it is not perfect. It lacks the immediate watchability and crowd pleasing nature of the first, oh it has its moments to be sure, but you’re not going to leave this AVENGERS movie immediately ready to see it again like its predecessor.

This film after one viewing you’re more than content to wait for it to hit Blu-Ray before watching it again. And I think on Blu-Ray it is a perfect format for really appreciating the immense work that goes into the battle scenes.

So all in all a worthy film to get you in the theaters. Grade: B+.

Movie News: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is it worth seeing in 3D?

Marvel Studios 10th feature film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, is breaking on American shores this weekend, and the decision people have to make is… ‘is it worth seeing in theaters and more specifically, is it worth seeing in 3D?’

Well, dealing with the broader questions first, whether or not you are a fan of the Marvel Movies, you really have to tip your cap to Kevin Feige and the whole Marvel Studios machine for really doing what seemed if not impossible, highly farfetched; namely creating a critically and commercially successful movie empire based on the shared universe approach of comic books.

It, in many ways, is the return of serial movies, the type popular in the 1930s and 1940s, but done on a massive scale, undreamed of by those low budget quickies of yesteryear.

And Marvel Studios films have managed to be not only popular, but entertaining, sometimes impressively so. I would list their movies from best to worst as:



And now their 10th film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, is poised to carve out their place on the above list. I find myself largely uninterested in the film. Nothing about the premise, the characters, or the one trailer I’ve seen intrigues me at all. Add to that they have an unimpressive ‘Before the Window’ 3D rating from CINEMA BLEND, like all previous Marvel Movies, and it is no incentive to see this in 3D.

But what does stand out in opposition to all that disinterest is the director, James Gunn. James Gunn like many of the directors Marvel picks, lacks any pedigree in the action or blockbuster genre, but like other directors chosen, they have a personality to the films they have directed, and a way with actors and characters, they have glimmerings of potential.

I enjoyed James Gunn’s SLITHER and I do think Marvel Studios helmed by Kevin Feige have been nothing short of phenomenal in picking talent both in front of and behind the camera. For all the heat their choices engender prior to the film, their unconventional choices have proven movie after movie, to be great.

And it is hard to argue with great. I have no interest in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as a concept or as characters, but I am interested in seeing James Gunn do a big, fun, space hopping action picture.

So verdict: I’ll catch GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on a matinee, or 2nd run, without 3D

Hopes this helps anyone on the fence, and feel free to chime in with your opinions. ENJOY!

COMIC OF THE DAY: Al Ewing and Greg Land’s MIGHTY AVENGERS and the Black White Nick Fury?!

Marvel Comics.


You know them? They are owned by Disney, they are brother to Marvel Studios that produces those box office shattering movies that have been all the rage for the last several years.

Well Marvel Comics while not the money maker of the film or video division, is the idea-space for those other mediums, and as such has an importance that belies its modest publishing revenue. As such, they are not going any place.

That said they could be doing better. But at every turn the publishing arm seems to be almost antagonistic to their customer base.

Tactics such as over-saturation of the market and expensive cover price of its titles ($4 is way too much to pay for an ad strewn comic with no additional content) translates into the audience (me) making a conscious choice to avoid all their books at best, and limit my consumption to one or two titles at worst.


THE MIGHTY AVENGERS by Al Ewing and the criminally castigated and underrated Greg Land is my favorite Marvel Comic, and the only one I purchase monthly.

Now don’t get me wrong there are other Marvel books I like, Aaron’s THOR, Remender’s CAPTAIN AMERICA and UNCANNY AVENGERS, the new MOON KNIGHT and IRON FIST has me interested, and if all those titles were $2.99 rather than $3.99 I would pick them all up. But I really do feel if any company can successfully ‘hold the line at $2.99′[an euphemism for not raising prices]… it is Marvel Comics, and their refusal to do so… is a misplaced arrogance, a belief that the entrenched fan-base will buy the books regardless.

It is a price gouging mentality, and I am proof to the contrary.

Rather than them getting $15 a month from me for five $2.99 comics, they get $3.99 for one comic. That greed, that one dollar extra cover price, has cost them $11 from me, $11 that now gladly goes to Image Comics or Dark Horse Comics.

And more than that, I am now trained to wait. I’ll wait till a Marvel series gets collected and is available at my local library and I’ll read it for free. So yeah Marvel Comics, that $3.99 cover price… here is one concrete case where you have actually lost business because of it. So great job there.

And the one Marvel Comic that I do get, is Ewing and Land’s MIGHTY AVENGERS.

Al Ewing creating a frenetic and pulp-inspired book that every month delivers a satisfying story, and one of the only books on the stands that offers multiple characters of color, treated respectfully (rather than as punch-line’s such as other Marvel Books are doing. Example being ‘Nick Fury’ gate. :).

Movies made workable the character of Nick Fury, by using the popularity of actor Samuel Jackson.

Now Marvel Comics wants to integrate that successful character from the movies with the 1960s comicbook version. So the brilliant way Marvel Comics decides to do that is by labeling the Black Nick Fury as the ‘son’ of the White Nick Fury. Wtf? Really? :).

That’s the direction you’re going? Can you say demeaning, bigoted and stupid? Hey Marvel here’s a solution for you… How about they are both just Nick Fury, with no relationship to each. Nick Fury being a title, like ‘Christopher Chance’ that gets passed to whoever is worthy. Took me two seconds to come up with a better way for both Nick Fury’s to coincide without demeaning and denigrating the Samuel Jackson version.

Who would have thought it would be the movie Marvel Universe that would get it right, and the comic-book Marvel Universe that would increasingly be the disappointment.)

Which is why Al Ewing’s MIGHTY AVENGERS is such a treat and a surprise. Despite being hamstrung with having to participate in Marvel’s various events (could not be less interested in Marvel’s Crossovers) Al Ewing manages to use the handicap of the crossover as a springboard to tell his own highly imaginative and absorbing tales of werechickens (don’t laugh, it’s pretty cool)and inter-dimensional evils, while at its heart always being a very generational story. A book that is about… Fathers and Sons.

Add to this Greg Land, who has had to suffer the recriminations of people with not a fiftieth of his talent, self styled art ‘critics'(parrots jumping on a bandwagon) who unable to create art, and ignorant even of the process, yet think themselves schooled to heckle their betters.

If you think Greg Land uses ‘porn stars’ for some of his inspiration, I would say two things to you, 1/ who cares and 2/you probably watch way too much porn. :).

Every artist from Jack Kirby to Gene Colan had a little stock/trace file, for poses or buildings or cars or fashion. You know why? Because it is a bloody job and stock photography and images are tools, and drawing, making your deadlines, is a job. And being able to take those inspirations, regardless of where they come from, and craft a functional and beautiful story out of it, takes immense talent. Greg Land is an immense talent, and his work on MIGHTY AVENGERS is drop dead gorgeous, brimming as it is with 70s Indie Black Empowerment images.


So from writing to art, there is a one-two energy Ewing and Land have going here, that hopefully will continue for sometime. But when and if MIGHTY AVENGERS goes the way of other Marvel Titles, here’s hoping these guys create a similar creator owned title at Image.

I would love to see Al Ewing creating his own pulp-inspired or sci-fi tinged characters, and Greg Land drawing them. For all the good things Image has, a book with a majority of ethnic characters is not one of those things.

Perhaps it is time there was such a book.

So Marvel for all my bashing on them has to be applauded for THE MIGHTY AVENGERS. But if all involved really want the series to grow, 1/add a letters page and back-matter, 2/focus on stand-alone stories primarily, and 3/making it a $2.99 rather than $3.99 book wouldn’t work.

But other than that a fantastic read, month in and month out.

Oh and Al and Greg, two more suggestions, One/change the preamble that starts the book to be something with a little more import and oomph, and two/ Let Luke Cage take back the name Power Man. It’s a good name, and it’s his.

Thanks for reading and if intrigued by the above you can buy back copies of the Mighty Avengers or the Trades here:



Graphic Novel Review : Hickman and Pitarra’s MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2!


“The World has rules, created by those who consider themselves above them. So we became radicals, who accepted neither.” — Jonathan Hickman’s THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2- I find writer Jonathan Hickman’s work very hit and miss. Quite frankly more miss than hit, while always filled with elaborate and imaginative ideas, his work generally lacks an emotional quotient, an emotional core, to make it worth reading.

His writing then becomes simple extrapolations of the head, that lack heart. Cold and off-putting works. I find this of almost all of his mainstream work that I have tried, SECRET AVENGERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, his current AVENGERS work I find unreadable dreck, with nothing to keep anyone emotionally interested or invested.

His Indie work can be likewise a gamble. Volume 1 of his Image series THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS was okay, if unremarkable. However I’m glad to say Volume 2 is much better, as Hickman is finally starting to pull taut the threads of his story.

The art by Nick Pitarra does a lot of the heavy lifting, with fun sight gags and panels that makes this far more entertaining than arguably the words or script alone would convey. I point you to the panel of the oval office orgy (say that three times fast :) )for proof of that.

So lifted up on Pitarra’s visuals Hickman’s MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2 is finally starting to hit its stride. And while Volume 1 is okay to read, it is not necessary, you could just pick up Volume 2, as it brings you up to speed pretty quickly. Grade: B. Worth a Purchase.

The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 2 – Price your copy here



Helmed by relative directorial unknowns, Anthony and Joe Russo, there is a deft, assured hand steering this latest entry in the Marvel Studios movies franchise. CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER from title to end credit exudes an easy confidence in this universe, these characters, this path.

It’s an easy relaxed pace that begins the film, a film that is not afraid to have you wear these characters for a while, rest in their lives. But when the action sequences hit, they are stellar set-pieces of jaw dropping scale. The post-conversion RealD 3D is nothing to write home about, but neither is it a liability.

And the action and character moments are tied together by a strong script, and rich performances by Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and Scarlett Johansson.

However particularly Scarlet Johansson I find stellar in her role as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. She brings a combination of strength and vulnerability to her performance, that can be felt. Here as in the AVENGERS she brings an emotional core, a thread of consequence and fear and reality, that is surely needed in this fantasy of men and supermen. She brings a dramatic level of truth, to the lie, which completes it.

It’s a role that uses her beauty and considerable assets, but it is also a role that lets her give a more impressive performance than any number of dramas.

CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER offers blistering action, enjoyable camaraderie, espionage, larger than life villains and heroes, diabolical world conquering schemes, humor, and even a bit of pathos and sacrifice, in short everything you want your ticket price to buy you. Add to that a brilliant end credit sequence and you have a film that earns its accolades. Grade: B+


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.

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.


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



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-.