Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Everything Wrong With 'John Carter'

The major question is why it took so long? Youtube user "Cinema Sins" has finally gotten around to listing the "sins" of Andrew Stanton's John Carter and now you can count them down, from overusing jumps to misusing Bryan Cranston. Take a peek and leave any comments below.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

'The Martian Legion' Preview

OK fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs here's one for your bookshelf. A new book called The Martian Legion: In Quest of Xonthron is now available to order from Russ Cochran Publishing. The book brings together John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, Carson of Venus and some non-ERB characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage for an epic tale. The only word is that the book looks to be pricey so you may want to get pricing before ordering or wait and see if a less expensive version becomes available. For more info-including a sample chapter and a look at the interior artwork check out http://www.themartianlegion.com/.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Comic Review: Star Wars (Marvel) #1

Talk about starting over. So how is Marvel's return of the Jedi? Let's find out.

Picking up shortly after the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebels decide to take a risk and land a small group at the Empire's Weapons Factory Alpha. With Han Solo posing as an emissary of Jabba the Hutt's, he manages to sneak in with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and R2-D2 to the facility and begin setting the station to blow up when the Empire's own representative arrives-Darth Vader! Throw in the discovery of slaves on in the factory, a failed attempt on Vader's life and their only hope being C-3P0 in the Millennium Falcon and you can say it...I got a bad feeling about this...

Since this is the restart of the whole "expanded universe" pretty much put everything aside and enjoy the ride since the issue is a strong and fun throwback to the classic trilogy. Capturing the feel of those films without bogging down in minutiae, writer Jason Aaron captures the personalities of the characters and delivers a slam-bang opening to the series that fans will enjoy. I don't want to spoil all the surprises but there is enough there to entice fans while being easy to follow for newcomers.

Helping to tell the story is the excellent artwork by John Cassaday, who manages to recreate the characters and make them familiar to fans. The backgrounds are nice and solid, the action well-rendered and there is enough style to spare. In short a great, colorful effort that brings back everything except John Williams' score.

With the renewed interest in the franchise it's a good thing Marvel got this right. But to have it be more than just another media tie-in is a bonus I wasn't expecting. If you can put your feelings aside about the past, then the Force is really strong with this one. Have fun and I'll see you guys and girls later.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Comic Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #3

Oh rats! Or ulsios! In any case get ready for them in chapter 3 of "Invaders of Mars."

Still a prisoner, Dejah Thoris learns the truth of why her people has been betrayed by Vush Tanzar (the normal "I don't feel appreciated" reason) but he surprisingly agrees to help her escape through a series of caverns underneath Helium. While that is going on John Carter and his team are flying towards Helium when things go wrong and they lose control of their craft. With help now delayed and Dejah facing death either by ulsio or the mysterious Joshua Clark, things do look grim for our heroes.

After two strong issues, this one feels like padding. We get background info on Tanzar, some nasty rodents and a recapture so there is little weight except to setup the next issue. That's not necessarily a criticism of Ron Marz's writing but this one definitely has that middle act feel of just setting things up, not forward momentum that some readers will cry out for.

Thankfully the art by Abhishek Malsuni helps make the issue a must buy. From the rather nasty looking ulsios to a fetching Dejah,he keeps the look sharp and attractive without making overwhelm the story.

There isn't much else left to say about it. Not a bad issue but nothing truly Barsoom shattering either. Until next time folks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Avatar 2' Pushed to 2017

Well it looks like that return to trip to Pandora will be a little longer, While in New Zealand to help promote the local film industry, James Cameron revealed that the first of his planned three sequels is being pushed back a year, due to the complexity of the project. "We're writing three simultaneously. And we've done that so that everything tracks throughout the three films. We're not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that, And parallel with that, we're doing all the design. So we've designed all the creatures and the environments." The question is will there still be an audience a good 8 years after the first one or will Cameron once again disprove the naysayers? Check out http://news.yahoo.com/james-cameron-says-avatar-sequel-delayed-until-2017-094103534.html for more information.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #13

I promise a review of the new John Carter, Warlord of Mars as soon as I can get it. But for now let us witness the "March of the Dead!"

When we last left off, John Carter was being held down by living skeletons and his friend Tars Tarkas-under a spell-was ready to cut off his head! Luckily for Carter that low Martian gravity comes in handy and he avoids death and renders Tars unconscious after much struggle. Finding Sola, the pair return to Helium with Tars to try and find a cure for their fallen Thark while Carter ponders returning back to the City of Skulls. He doesn't have much time as a massive army of skeletons prepare to march under the command of one Zhuvan D'Ark. Eventually Carter and D'Ark meet, we get the backstory-a man who had made a "bond with the Dark Gods" and now seeks revenge against the living and Helium. With Carter helpless can he stop this latest threat, especially as "tonight is the night Helium dies!"

With massive fights, walking skeletons, evil wizards and a hypnotized Thark, this issue packs in a lot that it almost drowns in it. Thankfully Marv Wolfman and company keep things moving, even providing a brief respite from the action. I guess where I find fault is as mentioned in my review of issue 12 is that the story just seems out of place for John Carter of Mars. With mentions of "dark gods," an evil sorcerer and walking dead I keep expecting Conan or even Solomon Kane to walk in. Some of that probably is because Burroughs never went for full-out fantasy or sorcery in the Barsoom books so its presence here is a little out of character. Still for what it is it's an entertaining read.

Carmine Infantino is still handling art duties and again delivers a nice work, especially considering the amount of action, armies and characters that he has to balance. Some of it becomes a blur but otherwise he maintains a good steady look, helped by inker Rudy Nebres and colorist Michele Wolfman (also give credit to letterer John Constanza as well).

Can Carter defeat this new threat and stop Helium from falling? We'll find out next time, so untilt hen Kaor!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

'Jungle Tales of Tarzan' Pre-Order for June 16

After hearing about this for a while, it's now available for pre-order on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Edgar-Burroughs-Jungle-Tales-Tarzan/dp/1616557443/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420905505&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+horse%2C+jungle+tales+or+tarzan. There will also be a more deluxe harcover edition hitting at the same time so you can choose which version to get. For more information and some previews of the book check out Sequential Pulp's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sequential-Pulp-Comics/188071621240849.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Channing Tatum "Really Wanted 'John Carter'"

Here's something to consider: In a brief interview with the Belfast Telegraph promoting his new movie Foxcatcher, Channing Tatum was asked about roles that got away and while admitting he doesn't dwell on it did mention one specific role. " I really, really wanted John Carter. It's one of those that got away." He doesn't go into much detail beyond that but it does raise the question if John Carter would have been more successful financially if Tatum had played Carter? We know from past articles that such big names and familiar faces like Hugh Jackman, Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Transformers co-star Josh Duhamel had tried out for the role before Andrew Stanton went with Taylor Kitsch. So the question then is this: Do you think having cast Tatum would have made the film a bigger hit? Leave any thoughts below and hit http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/news/channing-movie-set-is-like-school-30894430.html for the rest of the interview.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Comic Review: Legendary Star-Lord #6

Well this issue answers the eternal question: what can go wrong on a date when you've angered the leader of a group called the Slaughter Squad?

Heading out to the space opera with long-distance (you know hologram) girlfriend Kitty Pryde, Peter Quill suddenly finds there is more than just crowded restaurants to deal with as the Squad pursues him, ultimately leading to his capture and the revelation of the mysterious Mr. Knife. But hell hath no fury like a X-Man scorned, so Kitty heads off to rescue her man. Oh and a familiar Avenger cameos...

Filled with enough humor to make Christopher Nolan fans blanch, Sam Humphries has a ball with this issue, from Quill's unease to dating (plus his powdered blue prom tux) to the constant arrival of the Squad causing one problem after another, I don't want to say too much to maintain the fun and surprise but it provides the "comic" and that is always welcome in the too serious realm of comic books today.

Paco Medina's pencils help provide that, capturing the humor and adventure with skill and a tongue in cheek style that accommodates Humphries' story. Again can't think of much to say except a big thumbs up.

Fans of the series will enjoy the romp while those who demand serious brooding dramatics might want to steer clear. Until next time guys and girls.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: King Leopold's Ghost

With recent speculation that the new Tarzan film concerns the real life events of the Congo Free State (and if you have not read the article https://booksnfilm.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/what-are-christoph-waltz-and-samuel-l-jackson-doing-in-david-yates-new-tarzan-film click now) I thought I would read Adam Hochschild's book about the tyranny and bravery that resulted from one man's greed. It is a powerful tale, well worth reading.

Centering around the mad rush to Africa that occurred in the late 19th century, Hochschild's main focus is on the rule of Belgian's Leopold II, a man more concerned with making money than life and sees the Congo as his claim to immorality since it would be his own colony. Once established it turns into a nightmare for villagers who find themselves at the mercy of Leopold's own version of enforcement-the Force Publique-and greed as a move into collecting rubber leads to slavery and death. While a few are brave enough to stand up against Leopold it takes a determined journalist name E.D. Morel and the consul to Britain Roger Casement to reveal the horror that Leopold and his reign caused.

Well researched and written, King Leopold's Ghost is a gripping account that benefits from the various viewpoints shown, via surviving letters, reports and newspaper stories that paints a vivid portrait of one man's greed and a group that was willing to stand up against him. It does take time to establish the events as Hochschild sets up the participants-including such luminaries like Henry Morgan Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame), Joseph Conrad (whose own experiences would lead him to pen Heart of Darkness) and Mark Twain (who penned his own pamphlet King Leopold's Soliloquy)-along with portraits of Casement and Morel as brave-if not perfect-men. Leopold meanwhile comes across as a man more concerned with lavish projects and keeping his young lover happy as well as someone who sees the Congo as his property and its inhabitants as just servants who must be taught who they serve, even if they lose their hands or their lives.

There are some flaws with the book. As Hochschild admits up front, most of the story is derived from the perspectives of outsiders, not the actual villagers whose lives were destroyed, so we do lose that first person account. Also some of the novel's detours venture into tabloid situations (like Leopold's dysfunctional family life and Casement's homosexuality) that do distract a a little. But those are minor complaints.

When all is said though King Leopold's Ghost is a book worth reading and thinking about, especially in these times we live in. Rating: **** out of 4.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #12

It's John Carter vs. Army of Darkness! Where's Bruce Campbell when you need him? All kidding aside get ready as our hero faces his latest threat in the "City of Skulls!"

With Tars Tarkas returning back to Thark to rule, daughter Sola has decided to remain in Helium but accompanies Dejah Thoris to a diplomatic meeting to see her father. When the pair separates Sola is distracted by music and disappears. When Dejah returns and discovers Sola has not, she persuades John Carter to go to Thark and investigate. With Tars the two find Sola's trail and a new shocker-a mountain carved out of a giant skull even frightens the brave Thark. Inside though is even something worse, living skeletons who capture Carter, leaving him to face something even more evil...

Kicking off the second story arc of the series, "City of Skulls" almost plays like a rejected script from Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series in that I can see Conan finding a mountain city made out of skulls but not Carter. Also the scenes of Carter attempting to fight walking skeletons brings to mind Ray Harryhausen, not to mention Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness more than the space fantasy world of John Carter of Mars. Still Marv Wolfman weaves a good start, with a mystery (the disappearance of Sola) and several vivid setpieces that offer up the reader a good time.

Taking over the artwork is Carmine Infantino, who brings a nice balance between the older designs and offering up his own take on the characters and locations. His design of the Skull mountain is vivid (and makes me wonder if the makers of Masters of the Universe didn't remember it when designing Castle Greyskull). The characters also stick out well, event though some might find they clash when compared to the earlier issues. Still he draws a mean Thark and a sexy Dejah so no problems there.

So we get more of a sword and sorcery tale here that if anything provides an interesting tale for readers. Next time get ready for "March of the Dead!" (and no it's not a missing George Romero movie). Until then stay safe guys.

Dejah Thoris Sideshow Statue Revealed

Some Barsoom news from San Diego Comic-Con for you guys. Sideshow Collectibles has released first images of a Dejah Thoris statue for fan...