Friday, May 31, 2013

Carson of Venus Strip Blasts Off!


OK here's a little late news. The official Edgar Rice Burroughs web site has announced a new Sunday online comic strip starring every one's favorite Wrongway space traveler. According to the site "With Martin Powell as our Writer and Tom Floyd and Diana Leto as our Artists, CARSON OF VENUS will begin with the story of Carson Napier’s “The Greatest Wrong Turn in History” and take off from there. Be prepared for an exciting journey." For more information hit both http://www.edgarriceburroughs.com/?p=693 and Mr. Powell's own blog at http://martinpowell221bcom.blogspot.com/. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #25


Wait! Two new Warlord of Mars issues in a month? OK I’m jesting but still this is a welcome surprise.

With his destruction of the Guardian of the North, John Carter has saved the Heliumite fleet but has to still save his beloved Dejah Thoris. Meanwhile Okarian Jeddak Salensus Oll discovers Hell hath no fury like a bunch of women with sharp pointy things. However that evil Thurid kidnaps Dejah and Phaidor and attempts to escape. While Helium and Okar battles on, John makes one more effort to save both women, an attempt that could be his last…

Brining a close to their adaptation of The Warlord of Mars, Arvid Nelson wraps things up by sticking closely to novel’s final act-with the Heliumite battles to Carter and Dejah’s reunion-pretty effectively. Unlike his take on Lord of the Jungle, this one remains close to the novel, even though there is some changes to the material, notably in Oll’s fate but otherwise it delivers a rousing finale.

Continuing the revolving door of artists, this time we get work done by Everton Sousa and it maintains the usual standard of nice bright colors, well-drawn characters and exceptional action sequences. The usual complaints are there-the backgrounds are bland and don’t pop at all and the change in designs in clothing-but Sousa does a good job with this issue.

Wrapping up, this issue brings the saga of John Carter and Dejah Thoris to a good end, maintaining the proper respect for Edgar Rice Burroughs and helping to make it accessible to new readers. All without shape shifting, moving cities and silly medallions. We’ll have to see how the next story line works but for now this issue is a winner and a worthy addition.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

John Carter Fan Poster Breakdown


I'll kick off the week with some video fun. Here is a time lapse video by artist "Flew Designs" showing the process of creating a cool looking fan poster. I wished he had done a Dejah Thoris one but for now this is a cool look at art in motion so enjoy.


Friday, May 24, 2013

"Doctor of Steel" Fan Trailer


OK no comic book review this week but a nice video surprise. In this case a cool trailer pairing Hans Zimmer's music from Man of Steel with footage of that other alien visitor from a distant planet whose here to save us. Hope you guys enjoy it!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Return of the Jedi-A Look Back


Time to get sentimental.

This Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Return of the Jedi, the final chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy. For fans it's a time to celebrate. For me it's time to admit I'm old.

See Return of the Jedi was the first film I ever saw in a movie theater-outside of a rerelease of Disney's The Jungle Book a week earlier-and it was to my young eyes the greatest time of my life. I knew who the characters were due to the Kenner action figures and the Marvel comic books but this was different. It was a MOVIE on a big screen! I guess that first time always sticks with you.

To the point that I don't harp on the film as badly as most do. In the 30 years since it has become fashionable to dismiss Jedi as a weak film, a disappointment after the first two films. I admit I can see why. After all Star Wars was a cool film and The Empire Strikes Back shook up viewers with its dark tone and that shocker of a finale. No film could have lived up to that and Jedi was the one that took the fall.

Yes it's easy to bag on the Ewoks, to complain about the story (another Death Star) and how some of the big plot revelations seemed-pardon the pun-forced (Princess Leia is Luke's sister. OK...). But what seems to be lost in this is how much Jedi gets right. The opening sequence with Jabba the Hutt was a feast of monsters, action and coolness, from Luke walking in to the Palace alone to Jabba himself to yes Leia in that bikini. The speeder bike chase was one of the coolest action scenes I've still ever scene (and what kid didn't love the toy that exploded when you pushed a button?). The final confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader also had an emotional undertone that you don't see in movies, an honesty that gets lost in the chaos and noise. Tell me do you think there will be as gripping a scene as Luke's near plunge to the Dark Side or Vader telling him he wants to see him with his own eyes in Fast and Furious 6? Or even Iron Man 3? Not to say it doesn't get noisy with that great big battle at the end, a big space battle that even now films can't match, but it doesn't sacrifice character or story for silly action set pieces (that would come somewhat later).

If it sounds like I am gushing, well I am. For all its faults-and there are quite a few-Return of the Jedi does what any movie or book is supposed to do: Wrap you up in the story and the characters and make you forget your troubles and have a good time. So put aside the Ewok prejudice and just enjoy it. OK?



Monday, May 20, 2013

Comic Review: Tarzan/John Carter #1



With Dynamite’s Lords of Mars coming soon, I noticed I never got around to reviewing the last time Captain John Carter and Lord Greystoke met in comic book form. So here it is for you faithful readers, one issue at a time.

Picking up in December 1945, Tarzan is returning back to his beloved Africa when he is ambushed by the sons of the German officers he had killed a long time back in Tarzan the Untamed. When a bolt of lightening causes one of his would be assassins’ gun to explode Tarzan finds himself suddenly floating away from his body and heading upwards-to Mars! Once there-and in full leopard skin loincloth and knife on his hip-he remembers the tale of another Earthman who had come to the Red Planet and begins to explore it. It isn’t too long before he finds life or in this case a huge ship commanded by Purid Mos, Master Assassin of Zodanga. But before he can be taken aboard, a banth appears and Tarzan goes mano-a-mano with it. Impressed by his physical strength, Purid thinks she has found the perfect warrior to fight her hated enemy: John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom. After bringing Tarzan on board she tries some seduction, which Tarzan rebuffs. As usual he seems to forget Hell hath no fury like a woman with sharp pointy things…
A little history for those who forgot-or tried to. After the cancellation of Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle comics in 1979, not much was done in the comics world with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations until the mid-90s when Dark Horse acquired the rights. They immediately sent Tarzan back to Pellucidar, to far off Amtor and teamed him up with DC’s top guns Superman and Batman. He also finally rubbed shoulders with Captain Carter (officially if you don’t count Tarzan on Mars) with this four issue series.
That said I had sort of written this series off, but rereading this first issue its pretty fun if uneven. Writers Bruce Jones and Simon Revelstroke have some fun bringing up past events and letting Tarzan do what he does best as the series unfolds. The opening is pretty good with the revenge seeking sons and Tarzan’s arrival on Barsoom, delivering a nice rousing action sequence with Tarzan’s fight with the Banth. There are a few nit picks. First seriously guys? Purid Mos? That’s not the most attractive name for a hot Barsoomian. But the biggest problem is the lack of John Carter! If a series promises the Warlord of Mars than he should be present, even briefly. His absence will disappoint readers and I hope Arvid Nelson does a better job balancing both lead characters in his series.

Handling the art work is Bret Blevins and while it may not top the list of the best Tarzan or John Carter of Mars comic book art its pretty nice and colorful. The design of Purid’s airship is nice and striking-a lot better than some of the Dynamite artwork or Andrew Stanton’s dull airship designs-and he manages to keep the characters looking full. If anything it does appear that Blevins was using Alex Raymond and his classic Flash Gordon as an inspiration and while it doesn’t approach Raymond it’s still a good job.

So I’ll try to have reviews of the remaining three issues in the future. I wish Dark Horse had published a trade paperback collection and maybe they will now. Be back soon!

Man of Steel Behind the Scenes

 
With the movie mere weeks away, a new featurette has shown up with some new footage. So take a peek and enjoy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dynamite Launches "Lords of Mars"

 
Well that end of the last Lord of the Jungle was a clue. Dynamite has announced that Arvid Nelson and Roberto Castro will be doing a six issue miniseries where John Carter and Tarzan meets. Comic Vine posted up this description and some comments from Nelson:

In LORDS OF MARS #1, the legendary Tarzan has claimed his title as Lord of Greystoke, but his very life is threatened when a hunting excursion with his fellow "gentlemen" goes disastrously wrong. Meanwhile, on Mars, John Carter is forced to respond to a veiled threat from his defeated enemies. Mars and Earth might be separated by millions of miles, but a sinister force is at work on both planets, setting the two iconic adventurers on a deadly collision course.

"The two greatest heroes of pulp fiction coming together... what could be better than that?" says Arvil Nelson, writer of the six-part miniseries. "And it blows the lid off the possibilities for storytelling. Earth, Mars, lost civilizations, hidden worlds, interplanetary adventures. But above all, we want LORDS OF MARS to be fun. I can't wait to unleash it on the world."

 The series is set to begin this August. To see more cover art and some pages from the first issue hit http://www.comicvine.com/articles/exclusive-john-carter-tarzan-team-up-in-lords-of-m/1100-146568/

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comic Review: Lord of the Jungle #15


This week's comic book review sees Tarzan fighting for his life against "A Shadow in the Golden City!"

Following rescuing Jane Porter and capturing Rockoff, Tarzan is ready to leave Opar when La asks him for help involving a creature that has been haunting Opar for years. Tired of putting his life on the line Tarzan says no and heads off only to change his mind when he receives word that several Oparians-including one who helped him-has been killed. With vengeance on his mind, Tarzan heads off to find the creature, only to discover something that has never been seen before...a creature whose origin began elsewhere.

Like the recent issue of Dejah Thoris, trying to review this one without giving away much is hard since the big two plot points are spoilers. Let's just say here that Arvid Nelson has made some story telling decisions that will rub fans the wrong way and a big reveal that seems to be promising a future storyline-or crossover-with another series. The story moves fast and the stand alone nature is nice (especially since I'm beginning to wonder if this is the last issue since Dynamite has not posted any new cover art for future issues in a long time) so if this is the finale it's anti climatic. If it is the opening of a new story arc then it's intriguing if it stays on course.

This issue brings in a new artist, Wagner Reis, who brings a nice and more grittier style to the series. Tarzan looks harsh and grimmer than through most of this series and the "shadow" is given a good monstrous appearance. Again backgrounds are not that distinct but otherwise it is pretty striking and brings a gritty edge to the series.

If this is the last issue then I guess enjoy it. It is not perfect-and one major change I hated-but otherwise until we get another new Tarzan comic book this is it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: Man of Steel-The Early Years


With only a month to go until Superman Returns (no not that ONE!) here's a look at a tale of the beginning of the story.

In this case if you know anything about the history of Superman you know the origin by now: Baby Kal-El is rocketed away from the dying planet of Krypton (which in this case is being destroyed due to dwindling resources and drilling into the planet's core to help); his rescue and upbringing by the Kents and his discovering his abilities. Mostly it's just learning not to use them due to his parents' fears of being taken away and dealing with a school bully named Whitney.

Written for the junior set by Frank Whitman, The Early Years is pretty much just a retelling of a timeless story with some added elements to spruce it up for those coming to Superman without much knowledge. So in that respect it works pretty well for the younger readers (especially with its big print and short page length). Those looking for upcoming plot points for the movie well you might be disappointed. Most of what's here has been revealed in the trailers and TV spots, outside of a cameo appearance by a familiar comic character and the wrap around, which shows a modern day Superman saving Metropolis.

Still I knew what not to expect much so I enjoyed it for its fast-paced qualities and how it doesn't go off to far from the mythos (unless you are one of those getting upset about the absent of the red underpants). I did enjoy the presentation of the Kents as normal people dealing with a child they love but want to protect, which in this day and age is something is needed.

So if you're looking for any spoilers or big rousing action set pieces, you'll have to wait. Otherwise for those who want a sneak peek it's a fun and quick read. Rating: *** out of 4.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tarzan 3D Teaser Trailer 2


OK a little Saturday surprise. Constantin Films has released the second German teaser for their upcoming motion capture Tarzan flick and you can take a peek below. Yes there is apes, Jane, helicopters (wait WHAT!) and Tarzan in action so watch it and let us know what you think about it.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #25


OK this issue really goes around the bend.

In this case we meet Kara, a young Ptarthan woman incarcerated in a Barsoomian mental hospital. Her problem? She believes she is the Heliumite Princess Dejah Thoris! As her and her doctor unravel her mind, Kara begins to suspect something isn't right.

The problem reviewing this issue is that most of it would fall in the category of spoilers. So I'll just say this: WTF! OK I've gotten used to the witch possessions, genetic vampires from Saturn, Machine Men, spoiled princesses from Yorn and other wackiness but this issue takes the cake. While I'm guessing this will payoff later, I suspect some will just wonder at one point this series went off the rails.

Not that this is a bad thing. Granted most of the plot seems to be a standard horror film (in particular the Halle Berry flick Gothika kept popping to mind) and writer Robert Napton does a decent job balancing "Kara" and her memories but it just pulls the rug out in the end and then tries to top that with a surprise revelation. As I said, it's not a bad thing, but after the ending I wonder what will happen next?

For the art, Debora Carita handles duties here. Her work is fine but this cutting back and forth between her work and Carlos Rafael is getting a little jarring here since they do have differing styles in their character designs and backgrounds. Otherwise it is good.

To wrap up, just approach with caution since I have a feeling that some will be annoyed and others intrigued by the turn of events. I know I'm heading towards more annoyed but that's probably just me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #24


It's been over three months so that means a new Warlord of Mars issue!

Having been captured, John Carter and Thuvan Dihn (still referred to as "Ptarth") are now prisoners of the really tall Jeddak of Okar, Salensus Oll. If that isn't bad enough, Carter's beloved Dejah Thoris has caught Oll's eye and he decides to make her his latest wife, along with Thuvia. Oh and the Heliumite Army is flying in, unaware of the Okarians' secret weapon, the electromagnetic Guardian of the North. Can Carter break free and destroy the Guardian and rescue Dejah from that "fate worse than death?" Not if an expert swordsman has anything to say about it...

As we head to the finale of this story, this issue really takes some liberty with Edgar Rice Burroughs' original tale. Maybe not as bad as say the second story arc in Dynamite's Lord of the Jungle series but there is some major changes and some surprises along the way. So to give you an idea here's some spoilerific things to look for (but read the issue first please!)

--John Carter goes all Hulk on some prison bars. CARTER SMASH!

--Salesnsus Oll was the biggest one in his class. Really, was he 10 feet tall in the book? I guess I need to reread The Warlord of Mars to jog my memory.

--Leonardo Olivera's Dejah would cause men to drool at the mouth. She might be the sexiest  version to date in the entire series.

--Oll grows tired of Matai Shang and pops a ray in his brain pan. I guess Andrew Stanton was right-immortal doesn't mean bullet proof.

--At one point Carter gets rescued and one of his rescuers calls it "a boring conversation." Han Solo hits Barsoom?!!

--The final sword fight between Carter and Solon gets short shrift here. Believe me a whole issue could have been made of this.

Otherwise Arvid Nelson and company do deliver some big Barsoomain thrills, without cannibals and makes me want to see read that finale. I just hope it won't be another three months.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013


Another one of the greats is gone. Ray Harryhausen, the legendary stop-motion effects wizard behind such classics like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts has died at the age of 92. A full obituary is online at http://variety.com/2013/digital/news/special-fx-pioneer-ray-harryhausen-dies-at-92-1200470873/ Our thoughts go out to his family and friends and all those who were inspired by his genius.

Friday, May 3, 2013

John Carter of Mars: Kerry Conran's Version


I know I'm being really lazy. With no new comic book reviews this week and and not much news Barsoom wise I guess chalk it up to that.

I had posted about Kerry Conran's attempt to make John Carter of Mars before but I don't believe I had ever posted the actual video demo reel on here. So for those who missed it before, want to see it again and for those who either a) lament that we never got it or b) thank the Gods of Barsoom for Andrew Stanton (shudder!!) here's the complete reel. Hope you enjoy it and I promise more reviews and opinions next week.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Making of Return of the Jedi Cover Art


As we head towards "May the 4th Be With You" (a celebration day for all things Star Wars), Entertainment Weekly has revealed the cover art for JW Rinzler's upcoming book chronicling the making of the third epic as well as some unseen behind the scene images. Hit
http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20647938_20695713,00.html#21316026 for those and prepare for the Force (and Iron Man) this weekend.