Friday, November 28, 2014

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Teaser Arrives!




OK I'm going to be honest: This trailer's got my attention. With enough shown without showing everything, here is the first glimpse of our return to the galaxy far far away. Watch it and leave any thoughts below. (And is that Cumberbatch narrating? It sounds an awful lot like him.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

'The Force Awakens' Teaser UPDATE!


Like this weekend? Several are reporting of a Twitter posting by Regal Cinemas announcing the release of the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens for this weekend, attached to every movie playing...in nine theaters (all IMAX and RPX). But now it appears they may have jumped the gun as this pic appears when you hit http://www.regmovies.com/Home/promotions/Star-Wars-Trailer-Debut :


UPDATE: Well it looks like the trailer is arriving after all. JJ Abrams posted the above pic and the official Star Wars website has posted the theaters and details for the teaser here http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-the-force-awakens-tease-theater-list. Until then check out how it all started below with the teaser trailer for the original Star Wars.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #8


Ready for more Barsoomian action? Well then prepare as "Flesh May Wither...And Stone May Crumble!"

When we last left off, John Carter had been reunited with Dejah Thoris and the two had adverted the destruction of the Atmosphere Factory and Barsoom. So what do you do next? Head for Disneyl...go sand skiing! Yep it's a day off as the pair picnic with Tars Tarkas, Kantos Kan and Kantos' lady friend Lyssia. But as usual all is not well. Lyssia is having visions of Kantos' death due to her "soul stone" (isn't that an Infinity Stone that Thanos needs?) while the leader of the evil Council of Five makes it clear that he will not stand for errors. Back in Helium while everyone gets ready for bed, Kantos is attacked by more Council underlings but that isn't the worst of it-an explosion started by the robot arm of Stara Kan (from issue 2) sets off the creation of stone monsters! Stone monsters that shoot laser beams that turn people to stone! Can Carter and Kantos save Helium from this latest threat?

Well let's start with the good stuff first, namely the artwork once again by Gil Kane and Rudy Nebres. With a slow start, the pair manage to bring the characters to life with vivid design work and deft hands. Later when all hell breaks loose, they keep the action tight and flowing without any confusion or mistakes. So the usual thumbs up there.

Now on to the "WTF" stuff? Really rock monsters that shoot lasers from their eyes? The thing is before that the issue is pretty good, giving Kantos Kan the spotlight for once as we see his own life and his devotion to Lyssia, despite her dire warnings of his fate. Marv Wolfman also skillfully works in a flashback tale of Carter's adventures on Jasoom that manages to tip its hat to Edgar Rice Burroughs' other famous creation and provides a nice respite from the action. Then those rock monsters show up and it becomes a looney tune. Granted it provides a touching-and dark-ending but after the telepathic lizard from a few issues back it may be time to set aside the Godzilla escapees. Then again rock creatures that shoot lasers would have been right at home in the Stantonland version of Barsoom that's a surprise he didn't include them.

So if you want to see John Carter fight rock creatures this is the issue you need to read. Otherwise next time get ready as we finally meet The Council of Five!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Comic Review: Wonder Woman #36


No clever opening here, just an Amazon with a big sword (that doesn't sound right does it?)

As this story opens we discover it's hard to be Diana, AKA Wonder Woman, especially when she has to split her time between her own life, being a member of the Justice League and as the acting ruler (or the God of War) of Paradise Island. But when massive rainfall seems to cause a village to just disappear in Thailand, Diana allows the stress to get to her and results in a smackdown with Swamp Thing and a heart to heart with Aquaman. But when she returns back to Paradise she receives a shock that she may never recover from.

OK confession time folks: as a kid I was more a DC kid than a Marvel one. Maybe it was the TV and movie exposure of their characters or just the fact that X-Men was too damn confusing and filled with too many characters to keep track with. But as I got older the DC characters began to lose interest for me and I gravitated more towards Marvel. Then recently I just completely lost interest with DC's "New 52" concept and their idea that all of their heroes needed to be Christopher Nolan-style brooders. So with that out of the way I decided to give DC another chance with this since I always did like WW. So is it worth it?

As mentioned I wasn't following the series so I don't have the loyalty to the previous team of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang as it appears many do so I wasn't trying to make comparisons between their work and new team (and husband and wife) David and Meredith Finch. Based on some of the reviews I have read some are not happy with the direction of both Mr. Finch's artwork and Mrs. Finch's story but looking at it cold it's not bad on either front. The story helps set up the situation that Diana finds herself in, her feeling that she is being spread thin and unable to cope, which results in her actions towards Swamp Thing. There just isn't much going on except setting up the story arc though so it may take some patience before we see how it pays off.

The artwork has also gotten some flack, notably David Finch's drawings of WW, with some criticizing how almost child like she looks in the face. I can see it but again without having Chiang's version as a comparison so far I didn't have a problem with it. She may seem more feminine and you know what, that's fine. She maybe Wonder Woman but she is also a woman, not a steroid pumping behemoth. Finch also handles the brief action well and the work is nice and colorful.

The question is whether or not I will pick up the next issue. I might just to see where this goes and also go back and try the Azzarello-Chiang run to see how it was. At least she doesn't look like a Zack Synder approved Xena clone. Until next time faithful readers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'The Empire Strikes Back' A Modern Trailer


While we wait for that fabled teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a Youtube user named Cameron Arrigoni has posted a new "modern" fan trailer for The Empire Strikes Back that proves you can make a classic look new. Take a peek and leave any thoughts below.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Comic Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #1


A week late but here it is, my thoughts on the first issue of the new adventures of John Carter and company. Warning Spoilers ahead!

As usual Barsoom is facing a threat, in this case an invading alien race called the Kahori. While John Carter and Tars Tarkas are engaged in battle elsewhere, Helium is captured along with Dejah Thoris, who is then forced via a truth serum-infused alien bug to reveal the history of Barsoom to their new enemy. An enemy who has a past with John Carter that he wants to settle...To say more would be to spoil the reveal at the end (even though you get an idea in the first five pages at least where the bad guy comes from) so get ready to be surprised.

With the full support of ERB Inc. this time, Dynamite's new series gets off to a somewhat slow start as writer (and longtime ERB fan) Ron Marz takes the reader through a brief history of the story up to this point (which may bore some but provides a nice introduction to those new to the characters) as well as establishing at least the main villain. Some might take issue with Dejah being held captive again and the fact that Carter's time in this first issue is minimal but Marz deserves credit for jumping in and creating an intriguing setup.

The real star here is the artwork by artist Abhishek Malsuni, an artist I admit not being familiar with but whose work here is great. He captures the weird creatures of Barsoom vividly, captures the action sequences with Carter and Tars with the best artists who have tackled them before and has a nice style that compliments Marz' storytelling. Granted I should mention that, as usual, Dejah sports the usual full balconies but at this point I guess it is to be suspected. I also have to give a shout out to the coloring work by Nanjan Jamberi, which adds a lot and for once makes the red men RED.

With this first issue fans of John Carter of Mars will be pleased the series in stable hands and will enjoy the imagination on display and the tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs' greatest hero. For those who haven't yet delved into the books don't worry as it doesn't get too bogged down in backstory or references to the books to make it confusing. Pick it up now! Until next time Barsoomians, Kaor!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #7


I promise to get my thoughts on the new John Carter, Warlord of Mars up this weekend but for now let's return back to Helium as "Dejah Thoris Lives!"

After surviving the vengeance seeking mob from last issue, John Carter is teetering between life and death with Sola tending to him. Meanwhile Dejah is alive and a prisoner-or rather "a guest"-at the secret headquarters of the Council of Five, a group that consists of members of each race of Barsoom, even black and yellow Barsoomians. She also discovers the truth of the Council's plans from guard Gargan, who has plans of his own for the princess (if you catch my meaning). But hell hath no fury like a princess manhandled and Dejah escapes and commandeers a flier to stop the Council's scheme-the destruction of the Atmosphere Factory and the rise of a smaller, select race to rule Barsoom.

With this issue we welcome back Dejah and Marv Wolfman and company do a good job making her both a proud princess, a brave soul and determined fighter. With enough exposition to help explain the plot without getting bogged down and enough rousing action sequences the issue flies by quickly, even with John Carter lying in bed the entire time. There is some bumps-really Dejah would bath and dress in front of someone who isn't her husband-and some contradictions (she sees black and yellow Barsoomians yet never mentions them to Carter or anyone since in The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars its made clear they are both considered rumors and legends, not real) but besides those little things the issue delivers.

Handling the art duties again is Gil Kane, now joined by Tom Sutton and as I've said before, the artwork is gorgeous, filled with enough action, good character design and distinct designs to make you wish this had been used as an influence on the movie (and shows you can do good Barsoomians without butt ugly tatts and just "look at the colors" distinguishing them).

So there you go folks, another high octane issue. Next time "The Creature That Destroyed Helium!" Can it live up the promise of being "The Greatest John Carter Story of All!" We'll see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Alter Ego' Dives Into ERB Comics


ERB fans will want to get this one. The latest issue of Alter Ego magazine, edited by comics legend Roy Thomas (who is currently writing the online Tarzan comic strip for ERB Inc.) takes a look at the comic book history of Edgar Rice Burroughs' creations, from Tarzan of the Apes to John Carter of Mars. For a little more information check out http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=55&products_id=1164&zenid=4c6pd2imljq04iggqghua13c26.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

'Galactic Adventurer' Preview!


OK if this isn't a special feature I will be really disappointed. With Guardians of the Galaxy coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD December 9, some clips from the bonus features are being released. This one comes courtesy of director James Gunn, who appears as the heroic Galactic Adventurer (8-Bit edition) and discusses the look of the film and his goal to bring a "brighter" look to the space opera genre that hasn't been around a while. So watch the clip and leave any thoughts below.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Comic Review: Legendary Star-Lord #5


Due to not getting to the comic book store in time, my review of John Carter, Warlord of Mars #1 will be delayed until later this week (I guess the fact they sold out proves there is audience for old Carter still). So to take its place here is the latest issue starring that other guy who went from Earth to the stars.

Having survived his mano-a-mano with Thanos last issue, Peter Quill discovers he is now the number one target of a bounty hunter named Mister Knife. Needing to know who this guy he is he heads to the "armpit of the cosmos" for some information from a Kymellian named Lucien (a talking horse basically). From there Lucien relates how Knife's elite hit team-the Slaughter Squad (not to be confused with the Suicide Squad from DC Comics) and their hunt for the Black Vortex. With that captured Quill discovers the next target-him!

Taking a back seat in the action department, writer Sam Humphries does a good job establishing the Slaughter Squad, even if they are the usual ragtag band of mercenaries working for a shadowy overlord with galaxy conquest goals (or at least that's how this usually turns out). Beyond that we get some humor from Quill, a bar that wouldn't feel out of place on Mos Eisley and a nice setup for the future, along with some cameo appearances. Plus it has a talking horse. How can you not love that? (Even if he isn't Mister Ed?)

The artwork duties are handled by Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco and they deliver a nice, vividly designed world filled with offbeat characters. They don't get to show off much since there is no big action setpieces but they deliver enough to catch the eye and keep the reader moving through the issue.

So Star-Lord fans you know what to do and pick this up. For everyone else give a chance and you will find a fun space comic. I'll be back later folks.

Friday, November 7, 2014

'Star Wars: Episode VII' Has A Title!


I know this is several hours late but here it is anyway. Lucasfilm and Disney has announced title for the new Star Wars and as you an tell, The Force Awakens! What that means is anyone's guess-and believe me there has already been enough debate even since it was announced a few hours back, so prepare for a long ride. If you like it, dislike it, etc., leave your thoughts below and get ready for December 18, 2015 when the Force will indeed Awake.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #6


I will try to get a review of the first issue of the new John Carter, Warlord of  Mars up this weekend but for now let's head back to the past, where our hero finds "Hell in Helium!"

Having killed Stara Kan and escaped, John Carter decides to return to Helium to seek help in his search for Dejah Thoris unaware that the whole city has turned against him since they suspect he is involved in the princess' disappearance and the raids he was forced to participate in. Meanwhile Mors Kojak finds Tars Tarkas, who reveals what happened earlier and refuses to believe John is guilty of the acts he is accused of and vows to find Carter and Dejah and "slay the culprit who spread those filthy lies!" But he might be too late as Carter ends up fighting for his life against a bloodthirsty mob to save not only his life but the lives of innocent Heliumites as well.

From the first page to the last, this issue builds up the tension and action until it reaches the finale with Carter for once vulnerable and unable to save the day. The writing by Marv Wolfman skillfully builds Carter's dilemma of not wanting to hurt his adopted people while at the same time having to save themselves from their blood lust that it forces the reader to turn the pages quicker to find out what happens. There is no flab here and even some recaps of the past issues helps bring the reader up to speed and doesn't slow the story flow.

As usual excellent artwork, this time courtesy of Gil Kane and guest inker Rudy Mesina, especially since this issue is some jam packed with action sequences, fights and narrow escapes. So no complaints there.

With some foreshadowing of what is to come and a cliffhanger of an ending this issue is a definite winner and makes the reader ready for the next adventure. Next time "Dejah Thoris Fights Back!" Until then, Kaor!

Monday, November 3, 2014

'John Carter, Warlord of Mars' Returns This Week


With all of the news surrounding ERB Inc. getting back the rights from Disney it probably did slip a few minds that this Wednesday Dynamite and ERB launch the first issue of the new John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Well here's your reminder along with a preview from Comic Book Resources http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=24374 to help build excitement. Most of the preview pages artwork was previewed before but this is the first time with the text, so get ready for John Carter vs. "Invaders of Mars!" and hit the comic stores for it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #5


When we last left off John Carter has just saved his worst enemy from being lizard dinner. So now prepare for "...And One Shall Die!"

We open this time back in Helium as Kantos Kan defends John Carter against the charges of his kidnapping Dejah Thoris and selling her into slavery. He finds assistance from Grogg, a slow-witted but loyal soldier who also believes that Carter is innocent of the crimes he is accused of. The battle is cut short though by Mors Kojak, who decides to build a rescue party to find his daughter and get to the bottom of Carter's activities. Meanwhile Carter is still being forced to participate in more raids until he is barely eaten by a giant spider. When he escapes and returns he discovers that Stara Kan has ordered Dejah to be eliminated, leading to a final showdown between the two that leads to a startling conclusion and potential loss...

With a strong opening setting up Kantos and Grogg to the final panel, Marv Wolfman and company maintain a quick pace and keep the suspense going with nice fluidity while raising the stakes that makes Carter's actions believable and exciting. Throw in the creepy spider sequence and the final page and you got a good story that captures ERB perfectly.

Also helping is the contributions of Gil Kane and Rudy Nebres' artwork that brings the action and characters to colorful life. It shows their excellent skills of handling the action sequences and the quieter, more contemplative moments Carter has while weighing his options and his potential actions and how it could impact his search for the woman he loves.

Next time, "Hell in Helium!" How's that for a tease?