Saturday, December 26, 2015
As we head towards 2016 and The Legend of Tarzan some cool fan posters courtesy of artist Gerardo Moreno has been posted. This one showed up on Twitter while he has another one posted on his website http://www.gerardo-moreno.com/ so head over there and check it out.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
I'll try to avoid spoilers for those who haven't seen it but prepare yourself as the Force is strong with this one.
As the opening crawl informs us, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has vanished, allowing the dark First Order to rise. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has been tasked by Luke's sister Leia (Carrie Fisher) to try to find the missing Jedi, a trail that leads to the planet Jakku. Before too long the First Order and Darth Vader obsessive Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) show up and Poe has to hide his info inside droid BB-8. Eventually the small droid finds a sympathetic human named Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a stormtrooper with a conscience, Finn (John Boyega) to help complete his mission.Some old friends, new enemies and a planet size destroyer also enter the picture as Rey and Finn discover that the old legends are true and the Force has awoken.
While that sounds complicated trust me, The Force Awakens isn't. In fact one of the joys of the film is how director/co-writer JJ Abrams and company make a film that doesn't get too bogged down in plot or exposition-no long winded scenes about trade routes here folks. The film instead tries to recreate the charms of the original trilogy and for the most part succeeds while setting up the future of the franchise. Now it's not perfect but for the 2 hour run time it didn't matter, this was Star Wars again.
What helped was the performances. Both Ridley and Boyega were excellent, bringing feeling and in Boyega's case a welcome sense of humor to his character. Driver also sold his character well, showing a man torn between the light and the dark and not in control of his anger. But the biggest surprise is Harrison Ford, back as Han Solo and selling it. This wasn't the grumpy Ford of recent movies but Han Solo, complete with his trademark wit and bravado. His interactions with Chewbacca (a returning Peter Mayhew) and Leia also brought a smile to the my face and he jolts the movie to life.
The problems I did have it with were minor-some intrusive CGI, maybe too much humor (even though compared to the painful humor of the prequels here it was more hit than miss) and one or two missed opportunities. I can also understand that some feel it's a rehash of A New Hope but otherwise Abrams delivers a successful film that does stand on its own.
I might do a more spoiler filled remake soon as I don't want to spoil anyone's fun as well as see it again since it might change my mind. But for now The Force Awakens is the Star Wars film you are looking for. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Rating: **** of 4.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Following the release of the first two pics from the film, Warner Bros. has now released the first teaser poster showing us Alexander Skarsgard and his a hairy co-star baring his or her fangs. UPDATE: And here it is! While some of the CGI might need tweaking so far so good. The film looks stunning, the action sequences look good and there looks to be an attempt to combine Tarzan with Heart of Darkness so take a peek and let us know what you think below:
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Finally we get our first look! Courtesy of USA Today, we have two photos showing stars Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie as Tarzan and Jane, the revelation of the film's new title,and comments from Skarsgard and director David Yates about the new movie, the approach to the characters and the casting process. Could a new trailer also be coming this week, possibly in front of In the Heart of the Sea or even The Force Awakens? Head over to http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2015/12/08/legend-of-tarzan-movie-sneak-peek-exclusive/76932268/ for the full story and leave your thoughts below.
Monday, December 7, 2015
The Dark Knight Returns! OK I ran out of clever openings!
The basics here: It's years since Gotham City last saw Batman and now he's returned and not only fighting crime but the law as well. Meanwhile Wonder Woman is dealing with motherhood and a crazed minotaur, her daughter Lara visits her frozen father and finds Kandor and there is a shocking reveal at the end.
If this sounds really vague, well this issue is too.
Probably like many my coming of age as far as comic books go, came with The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller's masterpiece that revamped Batman and left the camp behind. It was as they said a life changing read and still holds up decades later. Less good was the years later follow-up The Dark Knight Strikes Again, a Phantom Menace-sized disappointment that made many lose faith. So does Dark Knight III: The Master Race return us back the glory of the original or is it another slap in the face? So far so good is what I'll say here as Miller and co-writer Brian Azzarello spend this first book setting up the world, if not much of the plot. There's some interesting turns and character reveals, as well as a timely story arc concerning police brutality, so go in with your expectations in check and you might find much here to enjoy.
Helping out is the artwork, a combo of Klaus Janson and Andy Kubert that while it doesn't capture Miller's work from the first one comes close. It has a nice stylized look to it that brings in such varied locales as an urban city, an ice fortress and a jungle while not losing the characters or the action. As anyone who has read this know I'm not an art critic but I know what I like and I like the work here.
The major question is can Miller and company deliver. If you come to this first issue expecting greatness you will probably leave disappointed but if you just take it for what it is then this is a good and addictive opening and hopefully a fitting close to this saga. Until next time faithful readers...
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Sorry for the lateness of this review but better late than never as we find "What Lies Beneath."
Now on foot after their flyer gave out, John Carter and Dejah Thoris are going through the desert when they find an oasis. But as Carter says if it looks too good to be true and before they know it they're about to become lunch for a a large tentacled beast that resembles a cross between something out of Lovecraft and the Sarlaac Pit. Fortunately our heroes escape. Unfortunately they find something worse-sleeping Plant Men, ready to hatch and feed.
A pretty simple issue, "What Lies Beneath" is nothing more than monster action, utilizing one of the creepiest creatures from the novels in take off on such films like Alien and The Descent. Honestly that's a good thing as we get a change up from Carter and Dejah having to rescue people from the latest _____ in the blank threat and are instead fighting for themselves. The interaction between the two is handled well (even if Ron Marz and Ian Edginton do resort to the horrid banter from the movie at one point) but all in all a vast improvement over the last issue.
Helping is Ariel Medel's artwork, especially in capturing the desolate look of the desert, the rather creepy Plant Men and our heroes. There is some oddities-like the aforementioned Sarlaac-Cthulu monster-but all in all it complements the story and helps carry it through.
If you're looking for a solid "people in a cave getting attacked by monsters" this tale is right up your alley. Fans of John and Dejah will also enjoy the tension so pick it up if you haven't. Next time more comic reviews and surprises. Until then be safe.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
I'll just cut to the chase: Dynamite has released the covers and a brief plot description for issue 1 of their new Dejah Thoris series http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513024475801011. The story here finds Dejah assuming the throne when her father goes missing and discovers shocking secrets. The series launches in February so head over to the link above for those other covers and stay tuned.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
While I don't have much faith in Batman V. Superman being any good, Warner Bros. is moving forward with production on Wonder Woman with Gal Gadot as Diana and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor and the first photos have emerged via the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3338482/PICTURE-EXCLUSIVE-Gal-Gadot-Chris-Pine-spotted-filming-Wonder-Woman-alongside-150-extras-Essex.html. What's interesting is that the photos confirm that the film will be a period piece set during World War I instead of II (probably to avoid comparisons with Captain America: The First Avenger) so we'll see. Given that I loved WW as a kid I hope at least this one will work so head over and check out the photos and stay tuned.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
With only a month to go here's the final issue leading up to The Force Awakens.
Three months have passed since the Battle of Endor and what was supposed to be a new beginning for the galaxy has become bogged down in continuing hostilities with the remnants of the Empire. Longing for home and her family, Lt. Shara Bey takes one final mission-escort Luke Skywalker to the Imperial Base on Vetine to recover an artifact the Emperor took long ago. The question is will either of them survive?
Let's cut to the chase-this is an excellent issue and wrap-up to this series. Focusing on the internal struggle that Shara faces of either going home or staying with the Rebel Alliance. Greg Rucka raises the feelings most people have faced of either staying or leaving, letting go as Obi-Wan once advised Luke. He also sets up some potential future plot twists, makes some clever references to other new "canon" tales (especially his own Han Solo novel Smuggler's Run) and delivers a rousing finale. It also presents us with an insight into Luke that we haven't seen yet, one that could play out in a month.
Helping out is Marco Checchetto's masterful artwork that brings to life the characters and action. Looking at the art you are in the universe of Star Wars, and it's enthralling to look at. In fact you could take away the words and still follow the story.
There you go folks. If you haven't picked up this series or you were waiting for the trade collection than I urge you to pick it up. Not just to get clues to new movie for a rousing, emotional story that brings the best of Star Wars to life. A final rating for the entire series: **** out of 4. Until next time folks.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Sorry for the lateness but we finally wrap up Marvel's take on Barsoom with one of the most offbeat-and goofiest-tales in the series. Get ready for "Amazons of Mars!"
While helping a mining operation in the Korz Plateau, John Carter barely escapes a gas explosion and helps rescue the miners. With the mine now closed due to safety issues, Carter heads to Helium to report but gets waylaid rescuing a beautiful woman named Klyss and agrees to return her home. Home happens to be a city of women-the Amazons of the title-and before you can say "Kaor!" Carter is bewitched by their charms-and their magic lipstick and perfume-and becomes horny. Of course he eventually discovers he's to be the main sacrifice to their Fire Goddess. And Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas show up to save the day. There's also rhythmic dancing, chains, much writhing...either it's time to get sacrificed or Carter's cosplaying Fifty Shades of Grey. Can Carter be saved from death by fire? Will Dejah find matching boots? And will Tars survive vampire Man-Bats?
Man this issue was goofy. From the bizarro plot twists to the artwork everything that could go wrong in a comic book does in "Amazons of Mars." Part of the problem is that it reads like a rejected Conan the Barbarian story rewritten to fit John Carter, Warlord of Mars and then turned to 11 on the silly scale. In case you're wondering here's a list of the charms that make this issue so bad it's fun:
--The artwork, in particular John Carter's head. It seems to shrink from panel to panel yet his body remains the same shape.
--The panel where Carter attempts to push a boulder with his head.
--Klyss' face mask. She basically escaped from another Marvel comic book.
--The magic lipstick and perfume. If only they had magic medallions! Also wouldn't that perfume affect them and make them horny?
--This classic bit of overripe dialogue: "Kiss me my Jasoomian Chieftain! Love me as you have loved no other woman since the dawn of time."
--Carter's description of "sensual delights" sadly not seen due to Comic Code regulations.
--The cameo appearance of DC's Man-Bat and his relatives.
--Carter chained up. What else is new? On the other hand it gives Klyss chances to feel him up.
--Tars' Roman helmet. They come in Thark size?
--Dejah's goofy Amazon outfit. Mismatched boots and all.
--The fire goddess or the Dark Phoenix the Early Version.
And that's just the tip. So if you enjoy flat-out wackiness, female demons, giant bat-men, and Amazons on Mars then pick this up. It's a laugh riot from start to finish and a finale to this run of our favorite Warlord of Mars. Next time we'll return to the present with less Amazons (sorry folks).
Friday, November 6, 2015
While we might not be getting another trailer in the US, it looks like the Japanese did and here it is. Again it plays up Daisy Ridley's Rey as the lead, give us more Kylo Ren, our first glimpse-in trailer form-of C-3P0 and more Leia and Chewie. Just take a peek and leave any thoughts below.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
We hit a whole year for the new series as John and Dejah find that sometimes "Lost Empires" should remain lost.
Following last issue's cliffhanger, the two find themselves facing the Last Orovar and his robotic minions known as Mentors. Thankfully Dejah spares them thanks to her diplomatic qualities, leading the Orovar, known as Aron to reveal what happened and to introduce the Orovars' ultimate solution to survival-a terrestrial transformer. But, as usual, it's causing problems and it's up to our heroes to save the day.
That honestly is about all that happens in this issue. There is a big fight, John and Dejah do their impersonations of 1980s movie heroes and blast everything with rifles(?!?!?), Aron reveals that the Orovars chose Jasoom as their new home, something Carter admits didn't happen-even though Aron resembles some of the Nordic races of Earth (great what next-shape shifting super beings? Oh wait...) In short a mess of an issue with some interesting concepts but enough that just grates that you can't help but roll your eyes.
Ariel Medel's art also seems to ping pong back and forth this issue as well. Some of it-especially the Mentors and Aron-are handled well but others are not. Maybe it's just selected panels that rubbed me weird (like the one where Aron inspects Carter. Honestly his facial expressions look like he escaped from Archie Comics). Still it's nice to look at and does help.
It might have been my mood when I read this or the fact that it brings up ideas that don't mesh with the world established by Edgar Rice Burroughs but this issue just falls flat. Hopefully the next issue will return to form. Until then, Kaor!
Monday, October 26, 2015
More space action! More Guardians! More...Ben Grimm?
After a brief text prologue that informs us that "the entire galaxy is a mess" we learn things have changed for the Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter Quill has now taken over from his father as ruler of Spartax and finds himself dealing with unwanted attentions and taxation of trade route debates. The team now has new members Ben Grimm and Kitty Pryde (taking Quill's position as Star-Lord) and after barely surviving a fight with the Chitauri come into possession of a mysterious artifact who needs experts. A trip to Spartax seems the best solution but as the usual shock ending reveals the Guardians are in their usual trouble.
With Marvel now relaunching their entire Universe with new number ones, I took a chance on this and Invincible Iron Man and so far they have been fun but this one has the edge. Credit goes to Brian Michael Bendis, who brought together the last version of the Guardians and now is handling the new team. Thankfully he retains the humor and fun while crafting a thrilling sci-fi tale. The addition of the Thing and Kitty is also excellent, even if it is still Rocket who steals the show.
Complementing the story is the artwork by Valerio Schiti. Schiti captures the flavor and characters well, setting them up with a sure hand. Plus the opening spread showing the Guardians is a jam packed joy to look at. Schiti also accentuates the humor of this issue. Just check out Quill's attempt to avoid an amorous alien and try not to laugh at the facial expressions.
If you love humor, science fiction and action than this might be what you're looking for. Enjoy and have fun with the new Guardians of the Galaxy! Until next time folks.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
With issue 12 of John Carter, Warlord of Mars hitting next week, Bleeding Cool has posted a look at the first few pages, both in early black and white and the finished color version. It's an interesting look at the evolution of a comic and I think fans will enjoy it so head over to http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/10/24/a-look-inside-john-carter-warlord-of-mars-12/ and check it out. UPDATE: Comic Book Resources has posted a look at the completed pages so head over to http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-previews/john-carter-warlord-of-mars-12-dynamite-entertainment-2015 to check them out.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Still catching up so here's my take on the third issue of Star Wars: Shattered Empire.
This issue has our heroes off on two missions. The first finds Sergeant Kes Dameron helping lead an assault on an Imperial Security site with Han Solo and Chewbacca that leads to the discovery of the Emperor's last order, Operation Cinder. Meanwhile Kes's wife Shara Bey and Princess Leia find themselves trapped on Naboo as the Empire launches the order. It's up to them, along with Queen Sosha, to fight off the Imperial ships before the planet itself is destroyed.
Like the first two issues, Greg Rucka and company are knocking these out of the park, presenting a story that is pure Star Wars. The team is presenting a good balancing act, setting up things for The Force Awakens while harkening back to the original trilogy and even beyond. There is enough action and moments that stick out. Among them: the opening battle; Chewie knocking skulls; Leia's reaction to the Naboo hangar and the discovery of her burgeoning Force powers; the air battle and much more that I don't want to spoil it.
Helping is the tremendous artwork by Marco Checchetto and Angel Unzueta that catches the reader's eye and manages to accommodate the story being told. The battles look great, the characters are vivid and real and the color and light is handled brilliantly. I know that sounds like gushing but with work this good you have to.
I'll get a review of this week's final issue up soon. For now go out and get this series if you haven't. Next time another Marvel space comic review. Until then folks have fun.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
It's here and December 18 can't get here fast enough. What I love about it is that it gives us enough of a glimpse without telling us anything about the movie yet isn't confusing if that makes sense, Plus seeing Han and Leia return, the creepy bit where Kylo Ren is communing with the helmet and the scope of it...just watch and leave any comments below.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Sorry it's taken this long to comment but I needed to put my thoughts together and take a step back to think about this.
For those just tuning in, last week the Hollywood Reporter posted a story that said in effect that David Yates' upcoming Tarzan was turning into a disaster, with a budget near $180 million, poor to middling test audience results, questions about star Alexander Skarsgard's appeal and the fact that Yates is now busy shooting the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, leaving Tarzan in limbo as the director is reportedly only looking at the film on weekends. All of this and the fact that distributor Warner Bros. is coming off a string of flops (including Jupiter Ascending and Pan) and the head of the studio is more invested in making sure that Batman V. Superman and their planned DC Universe film franchise goes off without a hitch, leaving other projects in the dust.
For fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs this was deja vu all over again. Just replace Tarzan with John Carter, Warners for Disney, Skarsgard for Taylor Kitsch and that 180 mil for 250 (even though latter it was discovered it was 306) and it's the same story. Heck even the same Reporter writer, Kim Masters, wrote both pieces (does Masters have some sort of dislike for Burroughs and feels the need to write pieces basically trashing movies based on ERB's work?). Even both studios' obsession with their comic book properties at the expense of everything else is present.
But the question is this: How much of this is true and if it is is there a way to change gears and fix this before Tarzan becomes another John Carter? Well let's look at some of the bits from this article and see:
--The Budget. Before this article came out the budget for the film wasn't reported but some sites reported at best a $90-120 million budget, pretty conservative for a blockbuster these days. There is no reason given for the increase outside of vague references to costly visual effects so for all we know the budget is still around the $90-120 million range or if it has gone up it could be due to other factors. Is this cause for alarm? Well it can be since it would mean that Tarzan at best would have to clear $360-400 million at the box office and that's not counting how much more it would need to make to clear the marketing and distribution costs.
--Poor test screenings. Again we don't know how the test screenings really went or for that matter who made up the audience for these films. In fact just because a film receives a negative test screening doesn't mean the film is a complete loss. In fact some films have the reverse, receiving glowing marks at test screenings and then flop when they come out (as some might remember John Carter's test scores were reportedly pretty high and the film still failed). If Yates and Warners are looking at the results they may be trying to fix the film and make it right. In some cases these fixes can save a movie and produce a hit. So let's put that the side for now.
--Skarsgard's box office appeal. This is a major hurdle that even before the film started production some-including ERB fans-were questioning. True neither Skarsgard nor co-star Margot Robbie have opened a film on their own but what's notably absent in the Masters article is any mention that Tarzan boasts Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz, both talented actors and whose presence would help generate interest from movie goers. Also let's compare Tarzan's lead pair to John Carter: Skarsgard has film credibility thanks to well received indie films like Melancholia and The Diary of a Teenage Girl as well as pop culture status thanks to his role on True Blood, a show that put him on talk shows, magazine covers and fan conventions such as Comic-Con. Robbie meanwhile has had leading roles opposite leading men like Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Will Smith (Focus) that has raised awareness, not to mention that after Tarzan she will be playing Harley Quinn in DC's Suicide Squad, so neither of them are complete unknowns. Compare that to Kitsch, who at best was coming off a highly acclaimed but low watched TV series and Lynn Collins, who prior to Carter at best was appearing in supporting roles in little seen indie films and TV guest spots.
--The director issue. OK this is a big one. If Yates is tied up with Fantastic Beasts and Tarzan needs major work that leaves the latter in a state of limbo since Warners has made it clear that FB has to go now and is one of their sacred tent pole films, leaving word that the studio may even delay Tarzan to allow more time for Yates to work on it. On the surface it sounds like issues with the studio, not the director and Yates has proven his worth with the box office and critical success of the last four Harry Potter films. The article also mentions that directors have in the past started new projects while finishing up previous ones, the most notable being Steven Spielberg starting Schindler's List while in the post-production phase on Jurassic Park. If Yates could balance both then this becomes a non-issue. If anything at least it isn't Andrew "They Fear Me" Stanton and his Pixar Method Madness causing issues for the film and the budget.
--The DC Factor. Or maybe it's the fact that the last reason isn't as worrying as this one. The Reporter article makes it clear that Warner Bros chief Kevin Tsujihara is more invested in making sure Ben Affleck battling Henry Cavill is THE blockbuster of 2016 and everything else doesn't matter. Of course this is a big deal for Warner Bros. They own DC and have for decades struggled-outside of Batman-to bring those characters to the big screen and they are determined to make it work, even if the last DC film (Man of Steel) failed to live up to their own predictions and split audiences. It's the proverbial "putting all your eggs in one basket" approach that studio chiefs seem to have and are blind to the fact that other films need as much attention (or in this case that trusting your most valued properties to Zack Snyder doesn't help). It would be a shame if Tarzan had to be sacrificed just to make way for Aquaman the Motion Picture. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
So what can be done to fix this? Warner Bros needs to start promotion soon, they need to stand by this film and not just dump it. They also need to realize that forcing their directors to start films when their previous ones need work isn't a good idea and that not everyone is excited for Batfleck and gloomy superheroes. Maybe the failure of Pan will wake them up and Tarzan will be ready and set to go and surprise everyone by being both a good film and a box office hit. There is always hope and despite what the naysayers, secret sources and Kim Masters thinks sometimes that helps. If you have any thoughts leave them below.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Sometime this weekend I'll share my thoughts on the whole Tarzan story that broke earlier this week. But for now here's a late review.
With the galaxy still recovering from the death of the Emperor and the destruction of the Death Star both the Empire and the Alliance are at a crossroads. However a surviving message from Palpatine might change everything as he orders Operation: Cinder, an order that convinces some Imperials that he is still alive. Meanwhile pilot Shara Bey is still in the fight when she receives her new assignment: fly Princess Leia to Naboo so she can start negotiations with the ruling queen and have another ally to the New Republic. Both arrive and before they get to comfortable discover what Operation Cinder is all about.
Like the first issue Greg Rucka knocks this one out of the park. From the opening with the message of the Emperor (delivered by a rather creepy messenger) to Shara dealing with separation from her husband and child (and yes spoiler fans it confirms a big connection to The Force Awakens) i is an excellent read that I don't want to spoil too much. Just pick it up.
Helping tell the tale is the art credited here to the team of Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso. They capture the battle sequence near the beginning-complete with AT-ATs, A-Wings and other ships-with flair, recapturing the action from the movies while at the same time making sure the characters don't get lost in the shuffle. I can't think of any higher praise except it just made me want to turn the pages faster.
Maybe it's just wanting to see where the story goes but so far this has been the best of Marvel's new Star Wars comics to date. With issue 3 out this week and 4 next week I'll do my best to have reviews up for them soon. Until next time guys.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Well if you're wondering why we haven't seen anything yet from David Yates' Tarzan, the Hollywood Reporter may have the answer. In a new article titled "Warner Bros. Faces 'Tarzan' Trouble as Director Is Double-Booked" reported problems have emerged, including a studio nervous by both reported test screenings of Tarzan, a reported $180 million budget for the film and the recent failure of Warner's bid budget fantasy Pan. The biggest problem though is that Yates is now busy shooting the studio's Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to work on Tarzan and the passing of producer Jerry Weintraub has left the production without a supporter.
It sounds like the main takeaway is that Warner Bros. is too busy putting their money and support behind their DC Cinematic Universe, the Potter franchise and little else. If Tarzan is having problems behind the scenes they may still result in an excellent or successful motion picture or at worst another John Carter sized bomb. For more check out http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/warner-bros-faces-tarzan-trouble-831921 and leave any thoughts below.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
While the wait for the sequels, James Cameron and Dark Horse Comics has announced that a new comic book series will explore Pandora, with Cameron himself promising that the storylines will explore "the past, present and future world" of Avatar. For more check out http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dark-horse-comics-continue-james-831036 and you can also watch Cameron's short video from New York Comic-Con announcing the series below.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
While there is still no official date, BBC and Masterpiece PBS has released a new trailer for the upcoming Victorian-Era set special and it looks great. Especially seeing Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman spar as Holmes and Watson and the classic era approach. So put your damn hats on and enjoy!
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
It looks like the Incomparable Princess of Helium will be getting her own comic book series again. At the New York Comic-Con Dynamite Entertainment announced a new Dejah Thoris series that will fall under the "narrative direction" of Red Sonja and Swords of Sorrow writer Gail Simone. The new series according to the plot description will find Dejah suffering"a fall from grace for the Martian princess, as she embarks on a self-imposed exile, assuming a new identity and enlisting as a rookie soldier on the farthest, deadliest borders of her Barsoomian civilization." The series will be written by writer Frank J. Barbiere (Avengers World and Solar: Man of the Atom) and is set to debut in February 2016. For more information check out http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/nycc-simone-scott-revamp-red-sonja-vampirella-dejah-thoris-for-dynamite
Monday, October 5, 2015
With The Martian landing at the box office this weekend, two things happened: A science fiction movie topped the box office and people went to a movie with the word (or at least a variation of it) Mars in the title. So much for what Disney and Andrew Stanton knew. In honor of that the Las Vegas Review-Journal has posted a look at how the movies has portrayed Mars, from Thomas Edison's A Trip to Mars to The War of the Worlds to past attempts to bring John Carter of Mars to life. Even how Indiana Jones would have met "Saucer Men from Mars!" For more hit http://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/movies/interesting-facts-about-the-red-planets-depictions-the-silver-screen
Sunday, October 4, 2015
We continue the "king-size" adventures of John Carter as he confronts "The Headmen of Mars!"
While testing a new flagship of Tardors Mors, Carter, Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas find themselves caught in a huge storm that knocks the ship's captain overboard. Using an equilibrimotor Carter rescues the captain but gets knocked out and disappears into the storm. Luckily for him the motor remains on and he floats to ground safely. Unfortunately for him he lands in Bantoom, home of the Kaldanes and their leader Taak, who has teamed with mad scientist Ras Thavas to launch a sneak attack on the cities of Barsoom. With help from an outcast Kaldane and a great white ape who has also gone under Thavas' knife, Carter attempts to foil their plans.
I remember this issue being a mess before and I'll admit it isn't, But it is a hodgepodge of ideas and characters lifted from latter novels like The Chessmen of Mars and The Master Mind of Mars that contradicts those stories (like Carter's discovery of Bantoom when Edgar Rice Burroughs makes it clear that Tara is the first Red person to find it) but there is still a rousing tale with enough ghoulish imagery to make it readable. An interesting note is that this annual is written by Bill Mantlo, the co-creator of Rocket Raccoon and he does a good job keeping the pace going.
The Ernie Chan artwork is also good but filled with odd choices. Ras Thavas for example is depicted basically as a Kaldane instead of the withered old man Burroughs describes but beyond that the characters are handled well and the action scenes drawn with a clear focused hand.
I guess memories can play tricks since "The Headmen of Mars" is a much better issue that I remember that fans will enjoy as long as they accept some of the ideas presented. Next time we wrap up (I promise!) the 1970s John Carter, Warlord of Mars saga with "Amazons on Mars!"
Saturday, October 3, 2015
A find at a local used book store and voila, a retro review as Tarzan heads to the Opera, New York and the zoo.
Collecting six issues from Dark Horse's 1990s Tarzan series, the first two issues titled "Le Monstre" finds Tarzan and old pal Paul D'Arnot in Paris where Paul plans to lay out his heart to his new love, Christine Daae. Unfortunately a masked man with his own fondness for Christine intervenes, abducts her and leads Tarzan into the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House. The next story arc, "The Modern Prometheus" has Tarzan in New York running into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and inventor Nikola Tesla. But when a mysterious stranger steals a book from Tesla's vault it leads to Thomas Edison and an attempt to follow in the footsteps of a former scientist's experiments with life and death. The final story, "Tooth and Nail" still finds Tarzan in New York where he's asked to help the police track down a brutal killer. Eventually with help from fellow Mangani Ko Ved track down a monster known simply as Hyde.
As you can tell these stories, all written by Lovern Kindzierski, follow the same pattern: Tarzan, a few deaths and classic monsters, in this case the Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein's Monster and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What's sort of interesting is how this literary mashup was published years before The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would take a similar idea. However the execution here is somewhat scattershot, with the Phantom story being the weakest, the middle being pretty good and the last one OK. Nothing groundbreaking but entertaining enough.
The artwork is also just OK. Split between artists Stan Manukian and Vince Roucher, the work varies too much to stand out or compete with classic Tarzan artists like Foster, Hogarth, Manning or the great work by Thomas Yeates on Dark Horse's The Return of Tarzan series. Some of it is stunning and some it just doesn't click so art fans may want to approach with low expectations.
Looking back at this collection it's an interesting idea and might be worth exploring again at some point (especially since Tarzan Meets Dracula could be fun) but here it's just a reminder of the comic books of the 1990s. Next time another retro comic look so stay tuned.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Yesterday NASA confirmed that indeed water does flow on Mars. From their official report:
"Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times."
So now we know. All I could think of though was this:
So both the MRO and the Doctor was right! Just as long as the side effects aren't as brutal.
For a little more real info and video check out http://mars.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1858.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
After last issue's Tars Tarkas adventure, we return to John Carter and Dejah Thoris as they discover "Lost Empires!"
Still on their quest to find a potential way to save Barsoom, John and Dejah are knocked off course by a violent storm. When the two do find ground they discover a surprise-a lost city that has mooring posts, indicating one thing-a Citadel of the Orovars! But as usual they are not alone as a band of red Martians headed up by a former guard of Dejah's father, Pallias. With his cohorts and Carter and Dejah captive they dig into an ancient chamber only to find living sentries and awaken a new threat...
The first of another two-part story, "Lost Empires" gets off on a clever start, bringing in the Orovars and Barsoom's past before devolving into a standard "angry former fill in the blank from Helium seeks revenge against John Carter and/or Dejah Thoris" plotline. Maybe it was just meeting Pallias and his gang with no prior knowledge of them or the fact that this has been done quite a bit already in this series. Or maybe it's time to bring in some of the other characters from the novels to provide a more involving story than one-dimensional bad guys. Still the Orovar history is fascinating and if nothing else the final page is a real cliffhanger.
Ariel Medel's art helps keep it moving, with enough action sequence to show off Medel's style. No complaints there folks.
Hopefully the next part will pick up the pace and raise the stakes. Until next time folks.
Friday, September 18, 2015
I said we would be returning to Marvel's Barsoom and here we are. The first of three "King-Size" annuals tells us the tale of "When Walk the Ancient Dead!"
Needing some alone time John Carter takes flight and finds the empty cities and desolate desert of Barsoom, giving him a chance to reflect. But when he comes upon a lone man fighting off Warhoons he jumps in. After defeating the green men he discovers that he has rescued a white man, Pan Dan Chee and that the empty city of Horz is inhabited. Oh and he has to die to preserve their secret. And that there is a mad embalmer below the tunnels of Horz and the preserved bodies of past rulers, who are not dead but rise. Luckily for Carter they don't eat human flesh but they want his blood for being a wizard who they believe has deceived them long enough...
If this sounds familiar its because it's (as the credits state) "loosely" based on the opening story from Llana of Gathol with some modifications, primarily no jetan game between Carter and Pan Dan Chee and no appearance by Llana. That said Marv Wolfman stays pretty close to the original, somber tale with some modifications to make it fit into then current timeline Marvel had set for John Carter. There is still enough action and surprises to make it a worthwhile read even if you are familiar with the original tale.
Helping out is the artwork by Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan that captures the faded glory of Horz while managing to bring giant ulsios, beuatiful princesses and rousing action to life. Granted Pan Dan Chee looks like he escaped from Marvel's Savage Land (seriously he looks like Ka-Zar's cousin) and the green men aren't as menacing as they could be but that's small change for a great looking tale.
One down and two to go. Until then take care and Kaor!
Thursday, September 17, 2015
No clever opening, just some thoughts on the first in the new "canon" to pick up where Return of the Jedi left off.
Picking up months after the Battle of Endor and the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader, the surviving factions of the Empire are trying to maintain their grip while the Rebel Alliance morphs into a "New Republic" While on a reconniassnce mission Wedge Antilles discovers several Imperial Star Destroyers parked above the planet Akiva but is captured before he can warn his allies. The imperials are meeting to decide their next move for survival, with various squabbles and debates either to give in, fight or just hide and wait. Of course their presence brings attention and eventually it's up to a ragtag group of characters-former Rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her rebellious son Temmin and his loyal battle droid Mister Bones, bounty hunter Jas Emari and former Imperial Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus-to try to stop them and prevent further bloodshed. Meanwhile the rest of the galaxy is coming to grips with life post Palpatine.
Advertised as the centerpiece of the whole "Journey to The Force Awakens" Aftermath is getting knocked for a variety of reasons-the complete discarding of the previous "Expanded Universe" series of books, the lack of familiar characters, writer Chuck Wendig's style, etc. Having finished it I found Aftermath an intriguing if somewhat frustrating but ultimately worthwhile book that if it fails to live up the hype (or past glories like Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy) is not the complete abomination that some Star Wars fans are making it out to be.
To get the bad-or dark-side of the book does suffer from some worn out cliches, most notably in Norra and Temmin's relationship and characterization. The former is a pilot suffering from PTSD while her son is really just a whiny brat who brings to mind (shudders...) prequel era Anakin Skywalker. It's not that I had a problem with Mister Bones or Temmin's development but his constant whining ultimately worn thin. The other major flaw of the book is the "interludes" which are uneven since they mostly center on characters we don't know or see much of. It's an interesting concept and some of them are interesting but only one starring everyone's favorite scruffy looking Nerf Herder and his old pal Chewie capture the flavor of Star Wars and sets up possibly where they were in that 30 years after Jedi.
But for all of that Wendig does deliver some good characters that might play out in future novels. In particular Sinjir, a former Imperial who decides that the Empire it self was flawed and possibly needed to be destroyed and Admiral Rae Sloane (a character introduced back in the novel A New Dawn), a loyal Imperial who sees that her attempts to form a solid leadership will fail and is setup in the final pages as a potential big player in the new universe. Wendig also delivers some rousing sequences such as a drop into Akiva by New Republic soldiers and the standard big space fight finale well.
I think what fans need to do is just put aside the Expanded Universe and try to give this book a shot. If you don't like it then fine but in the end Aftermath is not a total abomination either. It's a good-not great but good-novel that I enjoyed. Rating: *** out of 4.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
With the "Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens" now underway here's one of our first glimpses of what happened after the Battle of Endor. Spoilers and Ewoks ahead!
Writer Greg Rucka opens this issue right as the battle is still on going, introducing us to A-Wing pilot Shara and her husband Kes Dameron (SPOILER 1!) as the two attempt to survive the battle. Afterwards its time to celebrate and romance as the two get some time together. But that's short lived as intel reveals that some Imperial troops are holding out on the other side of the Forest Moon. With Shara akd Kes accompanying Han Solo, Chewbacca and some of the Ewoks to the final stronghold they discover that's it not over yet...
Kicking off this limited series, Rucka and artist Marco Checchetto manage to knock it out of the park, setting up some new characters, showing us some familiar friends and providing the links between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens without it being too distracting. There's some great interplay between the characters, including Lando doing his ladies' man routine on Shara and the troops having as much trouble understadning Ewoks as Han does along with the standard action and narrow escapes.
The latter is handled greatly in Checchetto's artwork. His first splash pages are great, showing the intercutting between the air and ground battles and Luke Skywalker's fight with Darth Vader, while the latter quieter pages are also gorgeous to look at. The final actions sequence that wraps up this issue is also a stunner so if nothing else get this for the art and stay for an excellent story.
It's hard to say how this will play out and if the quality can stay the same but so far Star Wars: Shattered Empire is off to a great, exciting start. Next time a review of another "Journey" tale.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Tarzan returns in a new adventure! Beyond that I can't think of a snappy opening so let's just see what happens.
With World War II raging, Flying Officer John Clayton, known to you and me as Tarzan of the Apes, receives his first mission: Fly into uncharted African territory and find a missing intelligence officer code named Ilex. Going alone, Flying Officer Clayton finds the downed plane and the bodies of the other crew, as well as loyal Tantor he nicknames Torn Ear (after he gets one nearly torn off by a gimli). Before too long Clayton finds himself shedding civilization (and his uniform!) when he discovers he's back in Pal-ul-don. Only this time he finds Turtle Men, a new friend in a Waz-ho-hon warrior named Mu-bu-tan and a race of deadly spider pygmies. It isn't too long though before Tarzan has to put his wits, strength and will against these creatures to rescue Ilex and complete his mission.
If you want a brief synopsis of Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don it's "Tarzan Vs. Spider-Pygmies." That's pretty much all that happens for a good 2/3rds of the novel and frankly it gets a little winded after a while. Author Will Murray (who has also penned a couple of Doc Savage novels for the same publisher, Altus Press) starts off the novel with a good premise, working in Tarzan's wartime service that Edgar Rice Burroughs established in Tarzan and the 'Foreign Legion' and returning us back to familiar territory. Or at least somewhat familiar territory since Murray does not bring back any of the characters or races we read about in Tarzan the Terrible, opting for those spider pygmies and the Turtle Men. My major problem I guess is the lack of an antagonist for Tarzan. Most of the best stories have Lord Greystoke against a formidable adversary or villainous conspirators. While I can understand the desire to just pit Tarzan against a primitive group it might have worked more if there was an actual leader. Instead we get a bizarre homage to Aliens at the end and I'll leave it at that.
That's not to say that the book is a total wash. In fact it's an entertaining read that just could have used some pruning in the mid section. The opening as I mentioned is an unique setup for a Tarzan tale, with Tarzan going from civilized to savage over the slow period, which is a good transition. Tarzan's relationships with Torn Ear and Mu-bu-tan are also well developed, providing some needed character and humor. The action sequences are also top notch, with a level of suspense that kept me flipping the pages to find out what happened next. And while the spider pygmies get thin, they are creepy creatures in the beginning and their origin is straight out of a good horror tale.
Ultimately though the book is a good novel that just needed some editing to make it great. Tarzan fans will enjoy it for the references to previous tales and the return of the Lord of the Jungle but non Tarzan fans might want a little more from it. Rating: *** out of 4.
Sunday, September 6, 2015
It looks like we might finally be returning to Amtor. A while back (actually a long time back) it was announced that a new entry in Carson of Venus series was being written by Neal Romanek called Skies of Venus. The book seemed to disappear but in a short blurb on ERBZine, Romanek has confirmed that "Dark Horse has bought the rights to "Skies Of Venus", a new installment in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Venus-Amtor pulp sci-fi series I wrote in partnership with the ERB estate." No word of when it will be released but I will update as soon as I find out. For more check out http://www.erbzine.com/mag49/4974.html
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
With Force Friday coming up, a cool trailer for filmmaker Eric Demusey's Star Wars: The New Republic Anthology fan film has appeared. The trailer offers up Boba Fett escaping the Sarlaac Pit and beginning his new adventures. For a little more info on the project itself check out http://www.starwars7news.com/2015/09/teaser-for-upcoming-boba-fett-fan-film.html and watch the trailer below.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Another "Retro" review, this time a look at Caprona in glorious...black and white?
Again a little history. Published in 1975 under the banner Marvel Movie Premiere, this first (and as far I can tell last) issue was released as a tie-in to the movie adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel that, despite its low budget, remains one of the-if not THE-most faithful adaptation of ERB's work to date.
And writer Marv Wolfman (who prior to this wrote the John Carter, Warlord of Mars strips for DC and later worked on Marvel's Carter series) sticks close to the script for the film, including the opening and finale that was unique to the film while at the same time capturing the essence of the original novel that the final film had. It notably streamlines the narrative, removes some of the dated elements (the Germans here are more two dimensional than the ones Burroughs presented) and keeps the tension and wonder. If anything the comic book improves since the creatures presented are not hindered by low-fi FX.
Those creatures are presented, along with everything else in the aforementioned B&W by artist Sonny Trinidad and the work is quite impressive. The lack of color doesn't deprive the story of action and his creatures are well-executed. I also have to give credit for the character designs, which if anything is closer to Burroughs than the final movie (Bowen Tyler appears as the young man Burroughs described, not Doug McClure).
In addition to the comic, the magazine also includes two other features. The first is a lengthy text piece by fantasy writer Lin Carter titled "Lost Races, Forgotten Cities" that looks at the "Lost World" genre of literature and film, from King Solomon's Mines to The Lost World to Burroughs' own entries and beyond. There is also a photo gallery from the film.
With the film currently available on Blu-Ray it might be time if you don't own this to track it down, especially considering the lack of Caspak comic books. One more comic book review will pop up so stay tuned faithful readers.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
I promised more "retro comics" reviews, so prepare for "The Life and Legend of Lord Greystoke!"
A little history first. Following the cancellation of Marvel's Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle series, the character disappeared from comic books until Marvel brought out an adaption that while the print date says 1983 was probably meant to tie in with the theatrical release of Greystoke the following year. This version first appeared as a two-part limited series and then was reprinted as one of Marvel's "Super Special" titles in a magazine format.
With that out of the way, if you've read Tarzan of the Apes then there is no need for a plot recap, as writers Sharman DiVono and Mark Evanier does a good job adapting the first part of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel. From the mutiny on the Fuwalda to the horrible demises of John and Alice Clayton to the love of Kala and Tarzan's growth into the leader of the Mangani, it's all there in one of the more faithful adaptations of the novel in any media. Some might grumble about needing to streamline but for others they will love that nothing has been left out or changed for unnecessary reasons.
Helping is the artwork by Dan Spiegle that captures the characters and the jungle setting vividly, helped by excellent coloring and shading work. From the opening with the Claytons to the Mangani they are handled wonderfully and brought to life with care. There are several artists associated with Tarzan in comics and while this might top their best work it comes close.
Tarzan fans probably already have this somewhere in their collections but if you don't try to track down a copy (I found mine for two bucks). While it might have been nice if Marvel had completed the story and adapted the entire novel it's still a good attempt at the classic. Next time another Marvel/ERB special gets reviewed.
Friday, August 28, 2015
After some adventures with John Carter and Dejah Thoris it's now Tars Tarkas and Woola's turn for their own adventure.
Worried about their friends' long absence, Tars and Woola head out to find them, heading into desolate wastes of Barsoom. It isn't too long before they find trouble, namely a pack of hungry banths and a "guardian of the Barsoomian desert" who decides it's time to pass judgment on our heroes. But as we've learned never underestimate a Thark or a Calot devoted to his friend.
With a fun setup of Sola telling the tale as a campfire story to a group of Thark children and some nice twists here and there this is a winning issue courtesy of Ron Marz and Ian Edginton. The biggest plus is how faithful the pair stick to the characters of Tars Tarkas and Woola, a brave noble Thark and a devoted beast, not the wimpy movie version Tars and cutesy puppy Woola. Granted some might have trouble with the "guardian" (it reminds me of those "demons" Tars ran into the later run of the Marvel series) but it's a fun story that's only downside is that it makes you want more. Maybe it's time for a Tars Tarkas solo series?
Helping is the artwork by Ariel Medel, who captures the Tharks and the landscapes vividly. In fact Medel's Tharks are among the best I've seen in the current run of comics, keeping a ferocious appearance without going all "Hulk" like. He also draws some means banths. The backgrounds do fade a little bit but there is a nice balance to the whole piece that makes it a page turner. Fans of John Ford might also get a good chuckle in spread.
Tars Tarkas and Woola fans should pick this up quickly as they will find much here to enjoy. Next time more retro comic reviews, some thoughts on current books I'm reading and more. Until then keep your head and one hand and you too can conquer!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
While fans count down the days until "Force Friday" a cool fan video presents the middle act of the original trilogy in the style of the second teaser for The Force Awakens. Not only is it a cool video but it shows what JJ Abrams and company has to live up to. Take a peek and leave any thoughts below.
Monday, August 24, 2015
With a new issue coming out this week, ComicMix's Ed Catto talked to Ron Marz about the ongoing series, the influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation on modern properties and creating a formidable antagonist for John Carter. Head over to http://www.comicmix.com/2015/08/24/ed-catto-man-from-marz-still-kicking-at-103/ for more.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
We reach the end of Marvel's original run on Barsoom as John Carter and company face "The Weapon-Makers of Mars!"
On an atmosphere mapping mission with Kantos Kan and scientist Sasoom Thil, Carter and a squadron of Helium warriors head toward the ancient city of Aaanthor. Once there though they discover many strange sights, like giant bugs, frozen white apes and a disappearing horde of Green Men. Deciding to camp for the night, Kantos sneaks back in to investigate and when he disappears John leads a rescue mission and discovers the truth about the city, a truth that might hold the key to Barsoom's past and future.
Written by Marvel writer Peter Gillis, "The Weapon-Makers of Mars!" is an intriguing finale for the series that works in the best of Edgar Rice Burroughs-unexplored cities with hidden secrets, references to such races like the Therns and rousing action. Gillis also weaves a suspenseful tale filled with quite a few twists and turns. I won't spoil many here except to say for fans this is a rousing tale.
Handling art duties for the final time is Richard Villamonte with help from Larry Hama and both deliver an excellent, pleasing look for the characters and the backgrounds. In fact this might be the most colorful and vivid the series has looked since the early issues. Plus how can go you go wrong with a giant Green Man?
With this issue our look back at the 1970s John Carter, Warlord of Mars comes to a close...or does it? Stay tuned.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Ahead of this week's D23 Expo, Entertainment Weekly has revealed their Fall Movie Cover with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and new images and reveals from the movie. For those who want more information check out http://www.ew.com/article/2015/08/12/this-weeks-cover-star-wars-force-awakens-exclusive-ew for some info on the new characters and what drew JJ Abrams to the new film as well as many more pics. Check out some below and leave any thoughts on how they look.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
We reach the final stretch as John Carter must endure the "Marathon of Death!"
Having failed in his pursuit of master assassin Tal Mordin, Carter is found by Tars Tarkas and continues the pursuit, Having damaged the assassin's ship with a radium shell, Carter and Tars end up in the city of Maharn, where Tars barely escaped following his duel a few issues earlier. Finding the assassin John escapes death...as does Mordin since it's just a stand-in who meets a grisly end. Speaking of grisly, on their way back to Helium they discover the remains of a flier's crew and worse, a cloak that bares the scent of Dejah Thoris. Evidence points to Warhoons, so Carter must again put everything at stake to save his true love...and the secret she is carrying.
Except for a touching ending this issue is sort of anti-climactic. I can understand the need to save villains and allow Mordin to escape but there is just something more satisfying about seeing the bad guy get his just desserts, especially in the world of Barsoom. That said the return to the haunted city was interesting-if still too much Conan the Barbarian-and the final battle with the Warhoons rousing.
Helping is again strong artwork, this time from the team of Vosburg and M. Hands. Both handle the characters well and the action set-pieces have flair and style to them. Granted Tars Tarkas seems to change shape throughout-from lithe to Hulk-ish-but still a good job all around.
One more issue to go in the main series. Return next time for "The Weapon Makers of Mars!"
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