Currently Reading: S.H.I.E.L.D.: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OMNIBUS

 

S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus

 

S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus (Marvel): Marvel is proud to present — in a single complete volume — one of comics’ most-innovative series! With international threats on the rise, Tony Stark and a council of global powers tapped Nick Fury to protect the US from Hydra, A.I.M., Baron Strucker, and the Yellow Claw. The greatest team in comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, dove into the world of covert ops, mixing Cold War drama with the mighty Marvel manner. They set the tone, but when Steranko took over, he rewrote the entire rulebook. Steranko turned S.H.I.E.L.D. into one of the most visually innovative comic series ever published and every early story is presented in oversized glory. You’ve been granted Priority A-1 access, so reserve your copy today! Collecting the Nick Fury stories from Strange Tales (1951) #135-168, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1968) #1-15, Fantastic Four (1961) #21, Tales of Suspense (1959) #78, Avengers (1963) #72, Marvel Spotlight (1971) #31 (which reveals an important Nick Fury secret!), and material from Not Brand Echh (1967) #3, 8, and 11. Features work by Lee, Kirby, Steranko, Roy Thomas, Denny O’Neil, Archie Goodwin, Jim Starlin, Howard Chaykin, John Severin, Herb Trimpe, Don Heck, Barry Windsor-Smith, Sal Buscema, Joe Sinnott, and more. 960-page oversize color hardcover. – Released in September 2015, in two versions, one with an Alex Ross cover and one with a Steranko cover.  I like Alex Ross, but his cover for this book is underwhelming, clearly the Steranko cover is the one to get.

And you’ll pay for it, as quantities on the Steranko version are climbing in price. But well worth the seeking out.

 

S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus

 

 

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INSANE (2010) – Amazon Prime Streaming VOD Movie Review

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INSANE- A 2010 film by directors Anders Jacobsson & Tomas Sandquist, INSANE makes the most of its single location setting, wringing for the most part passioned performances from its nubile young actresses and quirky actors and marrying that to some effective and creepy camera work and one of the more demented boogie men since Hitchcock’s Norman Bates.

However I have no interest in seeing women butchered, I’m not a slasher fan, I’m a mystery/thriller fan… so around the 2nd butchered girl, I’m losing interest in this film. I want to fast forward to the comeuppance of the villain. But thankfully the pattern breaks slightly with the third girl which keeps me watching to the end.

Unfortunately it is a distasteful ending, to a distasteful movie. The movie is better directed and performed than most slashers, unfortunately it succumbs to the slasher rule of super-powered killer, and moronic brain dead victims. This movie goes so far as to try to make the bad guy ‘relate-able’ by given him the worn back-story, ‘I was traumatized as a child’. As if that is ever an excuse for being a detestable adult yourself.

I despise these movies where the slasher is made the hero, some franchise character; which is why I was never a fan of the Halloween or Friday the 13th Films, The first Halloween is great, but they should have stopped there.

Another failing of INSANE is its over reliance on gore. I think the filmmaker is very effective at creating a creepy atmosphere, and effective stalk and chase scenes, but I feel this all goes out the window when he needs to play to the bloodhounds by giving us ever more egregious examples of the destroyed human form.

As someone who thinks the human form is beautiful and a work of art and a fragile achievement, I don’t relate to seeing people destroyed or dead rather than alive. That’s not the draw of a roller coaster, mangled bodies and twisted piles of steel after a crash; the draw of a roller-coaster is the chase, and the momentum, and the perilous high of the unknown and slightly out of control. And that’s the same draw of a good thriller/horror movie.

People remember the shower scene in PSYCHO because it’s a beautifully photographed, masterfully directed moment of madness, redeemed from mundaneness by surreal, stylistic direction. We watch films to see the work of filmmakers, and throwing blood and guts at the screen does not a filmmaker make.

There is nothing in INSANE, while definitely inspired by PSYCHO, that will be remembered as vividly or hauntingly as PSYCHO.

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However INSANE has moments of style and perspective that try to elevate it from the usual brain-dead slasher flick but these moments get aborted with the distasteful gore scenes. And the ending is more of this copycat ode to murderers as supermen killers that get away with it.

That concept, ‘villains winning’, never appealed to me. Never will. I know life is filled with examples of villains winning, however art should be better than that. I was raised to believe in Justice, and at the very least Crime and Punishment.

I was raised to believe in Heroes, people who are there to rescue maidens from dragons, which why for me Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER is a far superior movie to Demme’s SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and why I have nothing but distaste for the HANNIBAL tv show.

I think the things we glorify as a society are the things we become. I’ve always believed in glorifying heroes, however in our DEXTER, SHIELD, HANNIBAL, BATES MOTEL, VIKINGS generation we get the opposite of that. And don’t get me started on VIKINGS(they went around murdering, torturing, raping, and stealing, largely from unarmed villages and settlements, yet now we have a show that darts completely around this to portray Vikings as sensitive, women’s lib supporting, misunderstood mariners. Mendacity. The effing Vikings made the Nazis look benign, yet we have a TV show glorifying and whitewashing them).

INSANE is part of that cinema geared to the morality of monsters, and that is its greatest weakness. INSANE has moments of true creativity, but by the end it is in strict formula territory.

By the end of INSANE I wasn’t better for watching it, and if the thing you spend over an hour of your life watching doesn’t in someway elate or enrich you, than what the hell is the point.

Summation [and possible spoilers]: A good cast and some effective camera work, let down by a derivative script and moronic ending. Less concern with making a super powered franchise character and more concern with making a good film would have served this movie well. Yeah when we get the upper-hand over a murdering maniac is the time to worry about our relationship. Really? It is brain dead lapses like this that ultimately makes this a waste rather than a winner. Grade: D.

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Where are they Now: As of this writing the directors have not done another movie. Of the cast, David Lenneman (Fred in the Swedish series REAL HUMANS), Alida Morberg, and Lars Bethke have had sporadic bit parts since, with most of the cast doing nothing since.

Best and Worst Police Procedural’s on Amazon Prime! Under Construction

THE SHIELD- Shawn Ryan’s THE SHIELD is a show glorifying a racist bunch of dirty cops, and the un-redeeming stereotypes they beat on. It’s a dire, depressing, largely detestable show, that is not dissimilar to a slog through the sewers.

I watched a couple episodes in season #1 and then an episode in season #7, and there is absolutely no growth in the show, what a waste. Three episodes more than enough of this show. A classic example of Black faces, White messages. It’s a modern day minstrel show.

How it made it seven seasons, says something about the acceptance of great doses of bigotry. Not my thing. Pass on this and see either HOMICIDE or NYPD BLUE Season 1 instead.

NYPD BLUE- I’ve never been a fan of police procedurals, but the first season of NYPD BLUE was something else, a game changer in terms of dramatic intensity for television, and a clinic in style and the acting prowess of David Caruso. He was effectively the show. Which left later seasons… uninteresting. Get season 1, forget the rest.

JUSTIFIED- I found this modern cowboy drama incredibly uninteresting in the first season with largely unlikeable characters. Pass on this and see LONGMIRE or DEADWOOD instead.

LIFE- Both seasons are fantastic. Transcends a simple police procedural, by its protagonists quirky pursuit of Zen and Justice.

COPPER- Police work late 19th century style. Not really interested.

LUTHER- First few episodes are magnificent, though it loses its way toward the end, but still season 1 is a recommended view. Season 2 however is utter garbage.

HOMICIDE- Clearly the best police procedural ever, and largely because it is not about the procedure. A rich, ethnically strong cast of powerhouse actors, especially Andre Braugher in a star making performance, creates that rarest of television shows… a smart one. Highest recommendation.

Breaking NEWS!

SAMSUNG vs ANDROID?!!

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The new Avengers Shield TV show trailer?!

Spammer Scammer goes to jail

Yet more proof that American Law Enforcement is acting like they need to be locked up! Who watches the watchmen?

Current Comic Book Reads Fall 2010: Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D 1-3

SHIELD 1-3 by Jonathan Hickman published by Marvel Comics. Jonathan Hickman, of NIGHTLY NEWS fame, has an interesting premise in this book about the secret history of SHIELD. Unfortunately the book’s promise, three issues in, is hampered by art that is a bit too reminiscient of 90s image art (if the cover art was indicative of the interior art, that would help a lot), and also by a central character who has yet to emotionally connect with the reader in any way. The praise for this book was heavy, but it hasn’t quite earned it yet. Plus the white ancient Egyptians/Nubians… uh yeah… that never works for me.

In many ways it seems a weak precursor to the far better illustrated and, to this point, more engaging EARTH X in terms of seeking to create a conspiratorial, larger historical tapestry for the Marvel Universe.

But it is only 3 issues in. And Hickman is an interesting and innovative writer, so I’m willing to give this a couple more issues, before jumping ship. One of the reasons I picked this up in issues rather than waiting for the trade, was that I thought the issues would have detailed backmatter/letters pages, and unfortunately that, so far, is not the case.

So if that trend continues there is no incentive for me to pick up the individual issues. And if Hickman doesn’t begin to invest his story with some type of emotional resonance, ie characters we care about (the one failing I do notice about Hickman’s work… it’s cold), there won’t be any incentive to pick up the trades either.

Grade:C.

The return of UNDER THE RADAR Vol2 Iss 1! Pt 1 of 2! Previews Preorders for Comic Books Shipping in December!

UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.

It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.

But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts, those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for are a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.

So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for. Okay without further ado, this is a list of a/titles you can purchase now, at the time of this writing Oct 2010, and b/titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for December 2010 arrival.

Okay Section 1. Comics I recommend purchasing for Oct 2010:[See tomorrow’s post for this info]
(The links will take you to My comic Shop.com where you can view and if you choose, purchase the titles in question. All purchases done through the links help this blog with a few pennies to continue. So get great books, and support this blog in one fell swoop.)


    Section 2: Comics to pre-order (by November 1st) for December 2010 arrival:

    Marvel

No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.

All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.

There are two types of companies these days, in my opinion. Companies that value you as a monthly reader (and provide the extras and the pricing to show that support) and that type of company you should support the individual issues with your dollars, and on the other side of the coin there are those companies that pretty much insult their monthly reader-base, and that’s a company you should really relegate to picking up at the library, or borrowing from a friend, or browsing the trade at a bookstore.

Marvel is the latter type of company.

So generally if there is a storyline you’re hearing decent things about, avoid the overpriced, and featureless single issues and wait for the trade, or pick up the books in the quarter bin, but don’t pay $4 for what I see as Marvel’s pretty evident air of disrespect to their potential readership. So all that said are of the 100s of products Marvel is releasing for December arrival, what are the ones that meet my criteria of giving you back-matter (letters pages, columns, articles, etc) and sufficient bang for your buck? Well I’m glad you asked 🙂 They are:

$2.99 SHIELD #5

Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN Penciled by DUSTIN WEAVER Cover by GERALD PAREL Historical Variant by DUSTIN WEAVER “The Forgotten Machines of XXXXXX XXXXX” The story that has taken the comic book world by storm marches on with an issue so secretive that we can’t even reveal the full title! WHO IS THE NIGHT MACHINE?! Find your answer here from Jonathan Hickman (FANTASTIC FOUR) and Dustin Weaver (X-MEN). Every issue has sold out and gone into multiple printings. IT’S GOOD! WE PROMISE! Don’t miss the sleeper hit of 2010! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this so far self-contained series by Jonathan Hickman of NIGHTLY NEWS fame. It also offers that backmatter I was alluding to, and the price point as $2.99 is right.

You can find issues 1-4 of SHIELD here:

$81.25 (save $43.75) THOR BY WALTER SIMONSON OMNIBUS HC
Written by WALTER SIMONSON Penciled by WALTER SIMONSON with SAL BUSCEMA Covers by WALTER SIMONSON Considered by many to be the greatest run on Thor ever, Walt Simonson’s classic tales of the God of Thunder are collected here–completely remastered from the original artwork and newly colored by Steve Oliff! And there are too many timeless tales to count: The Casket of Ancient Winters! The death of Odin! The origins of Asgard! The sacrifice of the Executioner! Thor as a frog! The Mutant Massacre! The curse of Hela! The debut of Thor’s body armor! Guest-starring Beta Ray Bill, Nick Fury and the Avengers! Featuring the threats of Fafnir the dragon, Loki, Lorelei, Malekith the Dark Elf, Surtur, Hela, the Titanium Man, Kurse, Zaniac, the Marauders, the Absorbing Man, Fin Fang Foom, the Destroyer and the Midgard Serpent! Collecting THOR #337-355, #357-369 & #371-382 and BALDER THE BRAVE #1-4. 1192 PGS./Rated A …$125.00

This is really, really expensive. But you are getting around 50 issues worth of comics, and Simonson’s run, unlike many of the omnibuses, is really deserving of such a format. And were you to buy the original issues, you might be able to come in a little cheaper (plus you would get the letters-pages, which I don’t think the omnibus will include, if you can’t tell I’m a huge fan of conversational type extras), but the hassle of doing that compared to just having one large book with everything in it to put on your shelf… it’s an individual call. For me, I know these issues, and with the pre-order discount, I’m in.

$2.99 THUNDERBOLTS #151

Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND Come sit by the fire and prepare to be frightened…we’re going to tell you a “Ghost Story! The Thunderbolts own psychologist, Moonstone, peels back the layers and delves into the mind and past of the brilliant and mysterious paranoid known only to the world as Ghost! How did his war on the corporate system begin and what made him leave his humanity behind? Even his hardened criminal teammates will be forced to admit that some things are better left unknown. Learn more than you ever wanted to about Iron Man’s fearsome foe in the latest issue of the series that has IGN.com raving: “I can’t recommend this book enough–you need to be reading THUNDERBOLTS.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (changed from $3.99)

I’ve never bought an issue of THUNDERBOLTS. But I’m aware of them. The fact that they dropped the price on this series, and it sounds like a done in one story, and Jeff Parker is writing, has me intrigued enough to plunk down my money. But it better have some extras/letterspage if they want to keep my money coming.

uhh– yeah that’s all for Marvel. There glut of product actually works against them. If there was one X-men book, or one spiderman book, or even one Thor book, I would be interested in reading it, but I’m not going to try and sort through 20 different takes on one character to find the ‘great’ one, the pure singular vision. So because of Editorial’s diarrea of production 🙂 I buy none of those books.

Well to end on a positive, come back tomorrow as I get into the really good stuff with Image, Boom, Dark Horse, Radical, DC and other great companies.

The Crucifixion of Tim Story and The Fantastic Four

Today, five years after its cinema release, I finally got around to watching 2005’s FANTASTIC FOUR directed by Tim Story.

I have had the DVD for some time now, I got it as a gift, but based on a/ The across the board scathing reviews the movie had garnered and b/ the underwhelming sense that the cast and previews filled me with… I had no interest or intention of viewing this film/DVD.

I immediately put it online to resell. Fast-Forward a couple years, and the DVD hasn’t sold and is still taken up valuable space in my abode. I’m looking around for a DVD to make me feel halfway clean again after sitting through a particularly dire film, 1978’s extremely odd, THE MAFU CAGE (avoid).

So I unwrap the DVD of the FANTASTIC FOUR (still in its original plastic) pop in in, and prepare for some campiness just to wash away the MAFU CAGE.

Instead of a diversion, I find, much to my surprise quite an entertaining movie, with some indeed fantastic set pieces.

I found the film exciting, fun, action packed, well performed and well directed. None of which the vicious reviews would lead you to believe.

And yes the film does make changes to the source material, but that is a film’s right and to a great extent its duty. You want the comic, go read the comic (I’m a huge fan of the original Lee-Kirby run, as well as some of the books from the 70s, and definitely Bryne’s stories of the 80s), this is a movie and the adaptation is ultimately its own beast and must answer to different criteria and different expectations.

And that’s something this film does, and does well. Prior to seeing this film, I personally wouldn’t have cast Tim Story as Director, for the simple fact that it is directors more than anything else that defines a film for me, and while succesfull in BARBERSHOP, there is nothing in that pedigree that screams he could handle a huge budget Action/FX flick.

The same reservations extended to the cast for me. Particularly Jessica Alba, struck me initially as miscast for the pivotal role of Sue Storm.

And having seen the film I can now say both reservations were unwarranted. Jessica Alba isn’t the Sue Storm of the comics, just as the film’s Doom isn’t the Doom of the comics, etc. And you know what… that’s perfectly fine. Because the characters they do craft work very nicely in the confines of a summer movie Blockbuster. Jessica is hot and young, and she fills out a skin tight suit very well, and she’s equally adept at filling theater seats with the requisite warm blooded young guys. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And beyond that I thought she gave a good performance. True to this movie’s version of Sue Storm.

And the changes work for the story they want to tell. I really enjoyed the movie, it had some real wit to it, courtesy of Chris Evans in many scenes, and the story progresses briskly, and the action rousing and larger than life.

It was a fun, fun movie. Tim Story rising to the challenge (and make no mistakes that’s what it was… a challenge). Producers looking at his abiliy to quintuple BARBERSHOPS’s budget of $12000000, give him a budget nearly ten times of that for this movie, expecting lightning to strike again.

The problem with that is… its unlikely. It is the Peter Principle in effect. A director who is brilliant at bringing in a movie at one budget and one genre, taken out of his comfort zone and asked to repeat his success.

It’s quite frankly from the get-go a recipe for lack of consumer confidence. It is also a recipe for failure.

But to Tim Story’s and the casts credit, they pull it off, manage to make money with the film, and tell a tale that I found quite entertaining.

The 2007 FF followup, again subject to scathing reviews, and while that makes less money still manages to break even via domestic sales alone.

And getting back to the 2005 FF, the cast is great, particularly Chris Evans.

Unfortunately for Tim Story I think the damage is done. Per the Peter Principle he was advanced to his level of (assumed)incompetance, so now his star is in definite decline.

Which is a shame because I think with FF he showed he was a filmmaker of some versatility and would have liked to see a third film with this cast. He would have been better off bulding his reputation gradually rather than following the dollar into potentially a career ending couple of films.

You see that particular dynamic more and more, of the disposable director. Producers instead of getting an established director for these films, hire these video directors and untried directors, that they can get cheap, and if necessary use as a scapegoat should the pic not make the return expected.

Tim Story has become the focus point for I think undeserved negative reaction, to a film that end of the day I found far more enjoyable than such ‘celebrated’ flicks as SIN CITY or BATMAN BEGINS.

Final Grade on FF: C+/B-. It’s a good natured movie, with real heart. Performed and crafted by people with love, passion, and a little bit of fun. And I’ll take a movie like that over the cynical, brutal, pessimistic fare, that too many people equate with quality.

Heart, baby. The whole world is crying out for movies with a little bit of heart and a lot of fun, and this movie has both in spades. And that counts for a lot with me. And the DVD offeres a great commentary with the cast. It’s one thing to have not seen the movie, but to have seen the movie and not been able to enjoy it and have fun with it, as it is, for what it is, says sad things about the viewer I think, rather than the viewed.

Recommended Flick!