Sunday, March 30, 2014

Comic Review: Silver Surfer #1


As usual I can't think of a snappy opening. So let's just see how this new series begins.

Showing that there is no place like home, Dawn Greenwood is living her life in peaceful Anchor Bay, working at her father's bed and breakfast while her sister is out seeing the world. Meanwhile across the universe Norrin Raad, aka the Silver Surfer finds himself being summoned by the Incredulous Zed, who asks the Surfer to protect the Impericon, "the single greatest destination in the galaxy!" However there is a catch: there is a "Never Queen" after the energy source that makes the Impericon possible. And to convince the Surfer to stay and fight they will hold someone hostage as a bargaining chip. But something happens and well the quiet life of Dawn looks to be heading into the crazy life of the Surfer.

I'll admit that my knowledge of the Silver Surfer isn't up to date. I remember reading the original comics and finding them, while unique, not my cup of tea compared to most of the Marvel universe. But seeing the cover for this issue I decided to give it a try and came away enjoying this offbeat take on the character. Cross cutting between the happy in her world Dawn and the Surfer's own lonely existence in the cosmos, writer Dan Slott brings something usually not associated with the Silver Surfer-a welcome sense of humor. Slott has admitted to being influenced by Doctor Who and you can tell as the characters take themselves seriously. There is a nice wit to the story, helping to set up this take with some cool characters and a nice sense of momentum and it will be interesting to see where the Surfer and Dawn take their adventures.

Handling the art is Mike Allred and for those familiar with his work you know what to expect-a cartoony, brightly colored world. Some might be thrown by this approach but I liked the offbeat designs-especially Zed and the world of the Impericon-and the cool designs and offbeat imagination at work. It may not be Jack Kirby but Allred brings a style matching the story and that is always a plus.

I can see that some old school Silver Surfer fans may not like this more lighter approach to the character and I can respect that. With that said, I can't help but give a big thumbs up so far. If the rest of the series lives up to this fun first issue, we might have something special and a fun twist on a classic character. I'll see you guys later.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #37


OK, we've hit the end of the road as the Princess of Helium faces her final issue...

Still oblivious to her niece Tala's real plans, Dejah attempts to track down her brother Kajak before he can wreck more havoc. When she tracks him down to a dead city, brother and sister have their final showdown with some surprise deceptions, betrayals and a vision from Dejah's future coming to her rescue.

Coming to a close after 37 issues, writer Robert Place Napton and artist Debora Carita send off the series with a rather intriguing issue that touches in loyalty, trust and family that I admit I was surprised by. Looking back I've been mixed on this series with its often bizarre twists and plots but this issue allows Dejah and company a nice send off.

Running twice the length of the regular issues also helps add more depth to the storytelling as we get some touching scenes between Tardors Mors and his family, some nice callbacks to previous Dynamite Warlord of Mars series and a rousing final confrontation that shows what matters to Dejah-her friends and family or her quest for vengeance. All of it handled well by Napton, who keeps the story moving.

The artwork by Carita is also the best I feel she has done on the series. From the characters to the backgrounds, the issue has a nice balance of warmth and color that helps keep the reader glued to the pages. Yes I know some wanted more clothes on Dejah and wished that there wasn't the revolving door of artists but for this one Carita hits out of the park.

Maybe I'm just sad to see this series go as I feel that we'll be soon without any more new adventures with Dejah, John Carter and company once Dynamite publishes the "100th" issue and the Dejah of Mars miniseries. So even with the occasional misstep here and there everyone involved at least should be given credit for expanding Edgar Rice Burroughs' universe and characters without completely dismissing or tossing out his legacy. Until next time Barsoom fans, Kaor!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

'Jupiter Ascending' New Trailer


If Mila Kunis, massive spectacle and Channing Tatum with Vulcan ears doesn't do it, nothing will. Beyond that here's the second trailer for the new sci-fi epic from the Wachowskis and it actually looks really cool and a nice breath of fresh air in a summer to be dominated by superhero sequels and more Michael Bay nonsense. Take a look and leave any thoughts below.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Cup Tops


Yep for those who want a (Rocket) Raccoon with your drink, here you go. From the current CinemaCon in Las Vegas comes this peek of future merchandise for the Marvel Sci-Fi epic, showing off Rocket and a masked Star-Lord. For a look at the cup and some other movie stuff check out http://collider.com/guardians-of-the-galaxy-minifigure-images/ for more images.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Retro Comics: Tarzan in "The Land That Time Forgot"


I promised another "Retro Comics" look and here you go.

In this tale Tarzan has agreed to help a young man named Van Clennard in his search for the mysterious Lya Billings, who has disappeared while off sailing. The two find themselves following her trail to the mythical land of Caspak, the land of dinosaurs, cavemen and even more mysteries. Once there they get split up with Tarzan finding Lya and rescuing her-and getting captured along with her-by Gash-Hak, a caveman upset because he is not evolving and wants the secret that he figures Lya and Tarzan have. And that's just the first story!

The second one, "The Pool of Time," has Tarzan again having to save the day when Lya gets carried off by the Weiroos, a race of bird-like men who can't reproduce female children and have to abduct women from neighboring islands to reproduce. Tarzan has to brave the rough seas and monsters to save Lya from that "fate worse than death" as well as another island hottie, See-Na.

As mentioned in the forward, both stories were written and drawn by Russ Manning for publication in Europe and never saw American release until the mid 1990s when Dark Horse published them in this graphic novel. Manning was one of the best comics artists to tackle Tarzan and here does a good job with the artwork, capturing Tarzan as Burroughs described him along with creating some vivid life on Caspak. If you've seen his previous comic strip and book work you know how good Manning is and it comes across here beautifully.

The stories on the other hand do follow a formula though that to some might become tiring. Abducted women, cavemen, primitive beasts, all has been done in previous Tarzan tales by Burroughs and others and honestly Manning doesn't add much there in the writing to distinguish it from the past. Still they move quite fast and if you accept what they are you'll probably have a good time with them.

So to sum up I'll give this one a ***1/2 out of 4 for the artwork alone. If you haven't got a copy find one for that alone. Another retro comic review down. I'll be back later folks.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Assemble Sneak Peek


I'll admit it. This maybe is the movie I'm getting the most excited about this year. With that said here's the brief behind the scenes video from this past week's Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe special with some behind the scenes shots and interviews. Sit back and enjoy!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

'Star Wars: Episode VII' Begins Filming in May


So we finally have some info! In this case at the annual Disney Shareholder's Meeting, Disney President Robert Iger announced that filming for the JJ Abrams directed sequel will begin this May. In addition Iger also revealed some plot info about the film: Episode VII will be picking up 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi and feature " some very familiar faces along with a trio of new young leads" Iger said. For more news hit http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/star-wars-episode-vii-begin-689384 and let us know what you think.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Retro Comics: Tarzan #211


With no new Barsoom comics this week, I'll be posting some "retro" comic reviews in their place. First up Tarzan in the "Land of the Giants!"

Deciding he needs to cool off after laying around in a tree, Tarzan takes a swim. But a combination of gimlas and rapids leads him down into a mysterious valley inhabited by natives under the apparent rule of the diminutive Martius Kalban. Kalban is trying to find the secret of the tribe's great strength and size. Before too long Tarzan discovers the secret, as does Kalban, who then grows into a mindless giant and demands Tarzan dead. Well the ape man isn't going for that idea and ends up fighting for his life, along with Kalban's pretty assistant Olga.

While there will be debates among ERB fans which artist captures Tarzan best, this issue shows why Joe Kubert is considered among the best. From his defined character designs to the bold action sequences to the nice linear line and artwork, Kubert brings a good visual edge to this tale which helps overcome a somewhat predictable plot of obsessive hunter, tribe with a hidden secret and Tarzan fighting for his life.

That said for a stand alone issue it moves like a firecracker and doesn't waste time on needless subplots or exposition. Kubert manages to keep the reader moving at a good clip, never slowing down or letting the story wander off. The stand alone feel also means it doesn't waste time setting up events to be paid off later, making this a quick story with no dangling cliffhangers. I like it!

For fans of Tarzan you probably already have this somewhere in your comic collections and if you haven't seek it out along with the rest of Kubert's Tarzan work. I'll be back later with another Tarzan tale from another brilliant artist.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: The Wizard of Oz-A Pictorial History


With the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest films ever made, here's a look...at a book celebrating the 50th. (I know that's 25 years late but...)

Released in 1989, this book was originally conceived by authors John Fricke, Jay Scarfone and William Stillman as a "pictorial history" of the film, showing off several previously unseen photos, artwork and memorabilia but digging into MGM's archives the trio decided to delve into the film's production history, which has already been covered in previous books (most notably Aljean Harmetz's The Making of The Wizard of Oz). Today most of the film's stories-both real and exaggerated-have been covered in other books, documentaries and specials so looking at this book now there isn't much in the way of surprises or big revelations.

What there is though is a true love for the film and it shows through the story, one of major production hiccups, a reluctant studio, gossip and predictions that the film would fail. You have to wonder if the movie was being made today, the likes of Nikki Finke and her ilk would had already pegged it a turkey. All of that is covered, along with the excitement that the film stirred in its makers and the viewers back in 1939 (the book actually takes the down the current myth of the film being rejected by everyone then and instead shows a film widely embraced and that its financial fate had more to do with other circumstances rather than flat out rejection).

But what makes the book nifty is that "pictorial" slant. Starting with original cover art for L. Frank Baum's original novels along with concept ideas, test photos of the cast-including original Tin Man Buddy Ebsen-behind the scene shots and promo stills and posters, many I admit I have never seen. The book also does a nice job dividing up the history of the project, from Baum to its status as a television perennial-in entertaining and easy fashion.

At this point there has been several more Oz behind the scene books written, but this one is a definite good one if you can find it. For fans of the movie it's a no brainer. Rating: **** out of 4.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'An Adventure in Space and Time" Set for Blu-Ray


One of the best films I saw last year will finally be hitting Blu-Ray! BBC Home Video has set May 27 for a three-disc combo set of An Adventure in Space and Time, the film which chronicled the origins of Doctor Who. In addition to the standard Blu-Ray and DVD disc, it will also contain the first serial from the series, An Unearthly Child and the original unaired pilot. For more info head to http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/BBC/Disc_Announcements/doctor-who-an-adventure-in-space-and-time-bluray-dated/14065

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Comic Review: Starlight #1


This week's other comic review offers up an unique spin on the classic space hero, courtesy of Mark Millar and Goran Parlov.

Duke McQueen is facing the future alone. His beloved wife Joanne has just passed on and his sons are too busy living their lives to make much room for dad. Duke also has another thing weighing on him-his past as the swashbuckling liberator of the universe, saving planets and toppling bad guys but now is nothing more than a joke to a disbelieving public. But one rainy night something arrives that will pull Duke back into his past life...

I'll be honest here that I was a little surprised to here about this series. While I enjoyed Mark Millar's run on Marvel's Ultimates line I never really got into the rest of his work (I guess a foul mouth 12 year old running around in tights didn't have much appeal to me) but when I heard about this series I thought I would give it a try. And to my surprise I enjoyed it. Opening with a more human tale of loss and growing old, Millar does a crackerjack job setting up Duke's despair and his feeling that his life has nothing else while cutting back and forth to his previous glories saving the galaxy from dictators. For fans of the classic pulp sci-fi heroes (John Carter of Mars, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers especially) it's an interesting take on the formula and the question of what happens once you saved the universe? I'm intrigued to see where Millar takes it.

Helping out immensely is the artwork by Parlov, who does a good job capturing the mundane life of modern times with the sci-fi elements. The art is particularly character driven, showing off more than the backgrounds and design but I have a feeling the cool stuff will be shown later on. This is the setup and wisely Parlov lets the characters dominate rather. Also props for Duke's costume-an obvious homage to Buster Crabbe's old outfits from his classic serials.

While some might need to adjust their expectations, I'm given Starlight a big thumbs up. So far I'm hooked and that's all you can ask for a first issue. Until next time folks.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #34


This weekend's comic reviews bring two stories of Earthmen on strange worlds. Here's the original fighting for his loved ones and his own life.

With their son captured, John Carter and Dejah Thoris luckily find refuge with the First Born, where they discover the truth about the fake Tardors Mors: he's actually the Orovar Xerius who used a seed from the Tree of Life to gain psychic powers to mutate into anyone on Barsoom. With some help from Xodar Carter learns how to destroy him but first must get back in Helium and the Spire from which Xerius emerged. And as we know John Carter doesn't back down.

With enough twists and turns, offbeat ideas and a unique approach to the story you got to give this issue credit, it's an engrossing affair. While short on action, writer Arvid Nelson manages to ratchet up the tension and build the drama through dialogue and character that it makes this reader inpatient to see how it ends. While it does play with ERB's established lore more than usual it's still manages to capture some of the master's magic and offers up enough unique action to make the reader turn the page.

For the artwork Rafael Lanhaellas takes over and there is some changes-suddenly Dejah is more dressed (if still skimpily attired) while some panels strike me as odd (Xodar in some looks like a scheming villain, not a friend) but on the whole he manages to at least keep the art work nice and well designed, especially a plus considering how this issue is more about talking and less about sword fighting or the usual derring do.

As we head towards the end this issue does a commendable job setting up the finale and giving John Carter of Mars fans a good fun adventure. Enjoy and I'll be back tomorrow with that other tale of strangers on distant worlds.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Samuel L. Jackson Talks 'Tarzan'


Well briefly anyway to the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2575232/BAZ-BAMIGBOYE-Him-Tarzan-Jane-U-S-ambassador.html. In the article Jackson confirms plans to film in England this summer as well as some info on his character but contrary to previous reports he isn't playing a mercenary in the film but "United States Ambassador to the Congo." For more info and some brief news on The Avengers: Age of Ultron hit the link above.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

'John Carter' Hits Spike TV


For those who somehow have missed it (or didn't want to pay to watch it), John Carter will make its commercial television premiere tonight on Spike TV at 10 P.M. For a run down on the schedule hit http://www.spike.com/tv-schedule and enjoy...the day long Star Wars trilogy marathon beforehand. (How's that for your space saga combo?)