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

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“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 ๐Ÿ™‚ )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


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Movie Review : CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER in 3D

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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+

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: 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-.

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SUMMER 2012 Movie Guide! With AVENGERS behind us are there any other films worth seeing in IMAX?

SUMMER 2012 Movie Guide!

With the AVENGERS film behind us, are there any other films worth seeing in IMAX?

That’s the question. It’s a bit of a trick question, in that if there was no uptick in price for seeing it in IMAX I would say go for it. Unfortunately there is a bump in the price, and even for the AVENGERS, which was fake converted to IMAX (post-processed, like every other film coming out for the rest of the year) the quality difference on an AMC “baby IMAX/fake IMAX” isn’t all that great.

Infact, I quite preferred the 2D version of AVENGERS.

It’s a preference thing to a point, but to another point it is about pushing back a little against the studios that want to foist these post-processed IMAX and IMAX 3D films on us, rather than actually filming in these formats, and then charge us like we are at a real 5-story, wraparound screen, 70mm, Science Center IMAX theater. That’s the problem I have with these AMC midget Imax theaters, they over-charge for a compromised viewing experience.

I have no problem with the gimmick of 3D, if priced the same as the 2D experience; the way it traditionally was done. But to pay more?

So, to the point, even the AVENGERS wasn’t worth paying more to see in IMAX 3D. But are any films this summer, worth seeing in IMAX or IMAX 3D?

None of the films… not PROMETHEUS, not EXPENDABLES II, not DARK KNIGHT RISES, not SPIDER-MAN could be bothered to shoot the film in IMAX (tiny portions of DKR maybe), much less IMAX 3D. So why the heck would you bother to pay IMAX or IMAX 3D prices, for the cinematic equivalent of a poor redressing of a set?

So for me, no I will not be seeing any other film this summer in IMAX or IMAX 3D.

[And as an aside, definitely call or web-browse ahead when going to the movies, because this is how they get you: they put 2D showings at inconvenient times so you get stuck with an IMAX or 3D showing. So as idiotic as it sounds you need to pretty much do homework to make sure you’re getting a 2D and not a 3D showing. I hate homework! ๐Ÿ™‚ ]

Quite frankly there aren’t many films I’m that bothered about seeing in the theaters this summer, even in 2D. Like I heard one person say, “I like going to movies, I hate the people in the movie theater”.

I mean, do I have a sign-on me that says sit beside me? I either have to tell some old bat and her kid to not sit beside me and talk (I would be more forgiving if people in a theater with lots of seats, didn’t choose to sit right next to me with their foolishness), or I have to tell young punks to keep it down, or I have to tell the valley girls to stop texting and kicking the chairs… and on top of all that drama you want to charge me more for effed up, fake a** 3D?!!!

Heck No!!! Mother HT’s son ain’t having it!!! The studios should be paying me for the aggravation.

ohmmmmmm…..

ohmmmmmm…..

Okay, back in my happy place. Steering this boat back on track…

My take on the remaining summer movies: SPIDER MAN I currently have no interest in. DARK KNIGHT RISES, as I’ve previously stated I’m lukewarm on at best.

Only PROMETHEUS, EXPENDABLES II, TOTAL RECALL, and surprisingly enough ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER (I’m a fan of the Director, I enjoyed his WANTED, A case of a director’s vision trumping the writer’s source material— which I disliked) really have me excited to see them in the theater.

Some honorable mentions that look interesting/fun and I might see in the theater are CHERNOBYL DIARIES, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, THE BOURNE LEGACY, PREMIUM RUSH (the trailer for this looks GREAT, but I’m not sold on the director yet), and POSSESSION (also a phenomenal trailer).

If a movie is not on this list it could be an oversight, but more than likely it isn’t. It’s my way of saying that movie isn’t for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Why don’t I tell you how I really feel? ๐Ÿ™‚

No, but seriously, if you think I missed a summer flick that you think is going to be great, feel free to send me a comment. I’m always happy to discover another promising flick!

Why do you care if Avengers, or Dark Knight Rises, or Prometheus in Imax 3D makes a boat-load of Money?

As I’m wont to do, I tend to keep abreast of the entertainment news, specifically film. One thing I’ve been hearing quite a lot in the wake of the Avengers film is talk of it making over a billion dollars. And I listen to the fervor and sense of ownership all these writers and pod-casters are going on with about this financial mark. And I have to ask ‘Why’?

I mean I enjoy the Avengers movie, as much as anyone, arguably more than most people will in 6 months. By that I mean it’s an interesting hive mind approach that occurs in popular films as well as other things, where people’s steadfast belief in whether a movie is good and bad fluctuates with the slightest derision or the popular opinion of the day.

AVENGERS was and is a great movie full stop. Pacing wise, action, wise, story wise. But now barely two weeks into its release you hear a few people say, “oh well the first half was slow”, and people I heard broadcast not even a week ago how great the film was, begin to backpedal and parrot “Oh well the beginning was a little slow”. We live in a monopolized society where the individual is so scared to have an unpopular opinion, to the point that a lot of their opinions generally are not worth the breath they take to say it, or the paper they take to write it.

They have the spineless nature of slugs.

Same change of opinion (but to both a lesser and greater degree) happened to the Bryan Singer film SUPERMAN RETURNS. First week, people came out raving and loving that film. The Airplane scene, the bullet to the eye. It was a solid very good movie. But less than a week later, people began picking up the mantra of ‘why’s the kid there’ and ‘lex again’ and ‘Lois’. And you could see the ship of public opinion so to speak, turn. And people who initially were overjoyed about the film, started backpedaling, “Well, yeah I didn’t really say it was good.”. Until now a few years later people routinely call that movie awful and one of the worst.

It’s something I’ve noticed, Something that is not just American, because I’ve listened to enough British pod-casters do the same thing. So many are seemingly so afraid to hold an opinion derided or frowned upon or be seen cherishing something not embraced by their ‘friends’ or even their ‘enemies’.

It’s a lack of conviction, to anything you believe. Obvious symptoms of a propagandized population, so used to embracing any lie, that will keep it from having to alone, look at uncomfortable truths.

So yeah, when I say I enjoy the AVENGERS more than most people will in 6 months, that’s not me having you on, it’s just a fact. I’m not swayed by the mob.

I thought SUPERMAN RETURNS was a fun, solid B movie when I first saw it, and I still think so. I think AVENGERS is a brilliant, surprisingly so, Grade A movie today, and will think the same thing 5 years from today, when most of you have been pushed far afield of any opinion you may have had on the film.

I mean there’s nothing wrong with changing your opinion, if it’s your change, your growth, your adaptation. But that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is a propagandized population taught by the media to have no constants, no ideals, no values, that will not be torn down; have learned to make their opinions on shifting sands, always ready to be remade at the slightest rise of the tide.

Superman Returns [Blu-ray] 2008 Remastered Version

Which brings us back to the original concern. Why are you celebrating or in any manner cheering the AVENGERS making over a Billion dollars?

Beyond just financial interest, I could care less if the movie breaks even, does 400 million, or does a billion. Honestly I don’t really have a stake in it if it loses money.

Of course liking the film, it’s nice if it doesn’t bomb, for the simple fact it would be nice to see more films by a competent director like Joss Whedon.

But it’s not a passion, I don’t have a dog in this fight. If I’m the studio, or someone with a percentage share in the film, hell yeah I’m celebrating every dime it makes. Or in the days when people from your neighborhood actually owned movie theaters and that blockbuster money actually cycled locally, rather than just getting funneled out of the community to make fat cats fatter, I might be happy.

But none of that is the case. I don’t personally know a single person who is in any way going to profit, by making a monopolized studio and theatrical system a billion dollars richer. All this did is take a billion dollars from a lot of little pockets, and put it into a very few big pockets.

Now I’m not making a deal on that. I went to see the movie like everyone else, but you can be damn sure I’m not celebrating this state of affairs either.

AVENGERS makes a billion dollars, okay. I accept it as a fact. But honestly, until such time as those funds and profits get distributed to real theaters and real people (a billion dollars, hell you can afford to hire real projectionists, pay the ushers, and ticket takers a real wage, get real popcorn and healthy drinks, etc, etc…but you’ll drop dead waiting for that money to trickle down. In fact all the studios can talk about is reducing costs at the local level and maximizing profits by digitizing everything), I have no interest in celebrating billionaires becoming bigger billionaires.

Beyond a movie breaking even to keep a good director or actor I like viable, that’s where my interest in what a film makes or does not make… ends. Some people were complaining because TRANSFORMERS:DARK OF THE MOON was a box office success. Who cares? I personally don’t get the Michael Bay hate, but as we’ve established I don’t follow the crowd.

Michael Bay is a talented director who puts bodies in seats. Some films of his I like, some I don’t. I loved his first film BAD BOYS, and loved his last film DARK OF THE MOON (which the end of the AVENGERS was more than a little like) and in-between like any other director he has been hit and miss. But even the movies I don’t like I don’t wish them ill at the box-office. What sense does that make?

If you don’t like a movie, does that mean everyone has to wish it ill and hate it as well? Does that mean you have to begrudge it its success?

I personally hated Nolan’s first Batman movie, and thought his DARK KNIGHT while better, was still flawed and over-hyped. So not really a Nolan fan, but I don’t begrudge his films their success. As stated, what Billionaires do or don’t make.. not concerned.

When some of that tremendous profit begins cycling back into the communities, well then that will be something to feel pride and ownership of.