Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Comic Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #4


A few weeks late but better late than never.

As part four of "Invaders of Mars" opens we find ourselves in Manassas, Virginia 1861 and see the back story of one Captain Joshua Clark-here a violent but determined Union solider-and his first encounter with Captain Jack Carter of Virginia. Barely surviving that meeting, Clark vowed to seek revenge against Carter and when abducted by the Kahori, he finally tracked him down to Barsoom. Oh and Dejah Thoris is about to be executed for failing to help Clark track down her husband! But never doubt John Carter, who puts his leaping and sword abilities to good use and finally discovers who is behind the invasion of his adopted home.

Pretty much this issue is all back story, finally providing glimpses of Clark's character and his background with Carter. It's an interesting turn, showing Clark as a vicious, almost bloodthirsty soldier and Carter as that gentleman we all knew from the books. Beyond that Ron Marz spends the rest of the issue just moving pieces around until the final face to face.

Helping keep interest is the excellent art by Abhishek Malsuni. From the opening-which is the most realistic (so to speak) to the arid lands of Barsoom to his fetching princess design, Malsuni keeps the reader's attention even when the story does slow down. I hope he remains on the title for the duration as his work is becoming the best thing about the new series.

So Barsoomians if you haven't picked this up yet do so. Just be prepared for setup not payoff. Until next time faithful readers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

'The Force Awakens' Trailer 2 Set for May 1


OK mark your calendars! Collider is reporting that the next trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters May 1 in front of Avengers: Age of Ultron. That's probably not much of a surprise considering Disney now owns both properties but at least it's some confirmation. However we might get to see it earlier since the trailer will be shown at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim which starts April 16 and Lucasfilm and Disney might want to get it online before poor copies flood Youtube. For more check out http://collider.com/star-wars-force-awakens-new-trailer-avengers-2/.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Doctor Who' It was 10 Years Ago Today


That the Time Lord returned to our universe so in honor of the anniversary here's a cool fan video tribute to Doctors 9-12. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #17


I know. I have no excuses for falling behind here except work, weather and computer issues. While at some point I will review the last few issues of the new series, here's the latest from the classic John Carter, Warlord of Mars series that asks the question "What Price Victory?"

Surviving their crash from the last issue, John Carter finds himself under siege from mysterious white men...with wings! When one carries off Dejah Thoris, Carter fights harder but eventually is knocked unconscious. When he wakes he discovers he is a honored guest in the city of Karanthor, inhabited by Orovars, the fabled ancient race of Barsoom. But when attends dinner with the jedwar of the army Gar Karus, Carter also finds himself at a slave auction...with Dejah the prime prize!

Digging into the past of the Orovars and Barsoomian history, Chris Claremont presents an intriguing idea, especially considering Burroughs' own exploration of the fabled races of Mars in several of the novels. Where I do have problems is the idea of them suddenly being basically Hawkmen from Flash Gordon. Not that flying humans is a bad concept, it just seems a little off here. Still the issue is a fast paced read, with Carter for once being helpless and not knowing what to do, even though he does seem to yell a lot here.

Ernie Colon handles art duties and he does a good job with the characters, especially since once you move past the opening there isn't much action. Again though the Hawkmen still look too Alex Raymond-like but they stand out well. All in all pretty good, just not a home run.

So there you go folks. Next time "Tars Tarkas Fights Alone!" Finally the Thark gets his moment in the comic book spotlight.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

'Star Wars: Rogue One' Set for 2016


I'll just cut to the news here. With The Force Awakens approaching, news has finally been revealed on Disney's upcoming Star Wars films, in this case courtesy of Disney President Bob Iger. The first piece is that director Rian Johnson is now confirmed to be directing Episode VIII and that the film is set to hit theaters May 26, 2017, a good forty years and a day after the release of the original film. The second-and for the moment bigger-news was the announcement of the title for the first spin-off film, Rogue One, as well as confirming that recent Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) has joined director Gareth Edwards for the film. The plot? Well if that title is an indication it might involve the formation of the X-Wing Rogue Squadron, whose past was explored in the now discarded "Expanded Universe." Or it could be still tied up the rumor of a group of bounty hunters who steal the plans for the first Death Star. We'll find out on December 16, 2016 and for more check out http://www.starwars.com/news/rogue-one-is-the-first-star-wars-stand-alone-film-rian-johnson-to-write-and-direct-star-wars-episode-viii

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #16


Still no new John Carter review (a combination of work, bad weather and moving) so let's head back to the previous series as this one delivers a shock..."JOHN CATER IS DEAD!"

On the second anniversary of their wedding, Carter and Dejah Thoris are celebrating when Carter collapses, the victim of a deadly d'ath spider poison. His killer, a female slave named Daria, reveals she is working for the Guild of Assassins and with her mission complete attempts to escape only to jump to her death when caught. With her husband dead, Dejah vows vengeance and departs to track down the Guild and infilitrate their ranks. But thanks to that Jassomian metabolism Carter lives and leaves to save his wife. But when he does catch up with her a downdraft forces their craft down and the two pass out unaware of approaching figures...

As mentioned last time, a new team takes over with this issue and they start off with a bang. Taking over writing duties is Chris Claremont (a few years from his legendary run on Uncanny X-Men) and he shows a knack for capturing Burroughs' style, from the opening to Carter's first person narration, he manages to setup a fast paced tale while keeping things clear and fresh.

Art duties are being handled here by Ernie Colon and his work is good, especially in the opening sequence and chase of Carter's killer. Later pages show some offbeat touches (like why does Carter leave Helium in nothing but purple undies?) but he manages to capture some impressive visuals and offers up some nice imagery.

So with chapter one of "The Master Assassin of Mars" underway we have a gripping opener and some interesting twists ahead. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Peek at Bif Bang Pow's 'Flash Gordon'


I am still catching up with news I missed and well here some more: At the recent Toy Fair manufacturer Bif Bang Pow announced a new 3 3/4 inch action figure line based on the camptastic 1980 epic and here's a preview. So far it looks like Flash, Ming, Barin, Vultan and Princess Aura will be getting the plastic treatment. I just like the cool Kenner Star Wars inspired packaging. For more of the company's upcoming offerings (including lines based on The Twilight Zone and The Big Bang Theory) check out http://sciencefiction.com/2015/02/17/toy-fair-2015-bif-bang-pow-goes-retro/

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

'Mr. Holmes' Teaser Trailers


Are you ready for an older Sherlock? Following recent takes like Sherlock, Elementary and the Robert Downey Jr. films, director Bill Condon has made his take an interesting look at a retired Holmes on his last case. And hey it's Sir Ian McKellen as the great detective so what more do you want? Take a peek at the two teasers below and leave any comments afterwards.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #15


Sorry again for the lack of updates and reviews. I'll try to have reviews of the new John Carter, Warlord of Mars soon but for now we get a two for the price of one retro review as we dive into "The History Holocaust!" and "Tales of Barsoom!"

The first story finds disgruntled scientist Tallus deciding that Barsoom would be better off without John Carter. Inviting Carter to a demonstration of his latest invention, he traps Carter inside a huge computer that projects false lives into Carter's mind, making him believe he is both Theodoric, the man who fell before Attila the Hun, and Antigonous, the one-eyed adviser to Alexander the Great. Knowing his real life alter egos were doomed to die, Carter must struggle to remember who he is or suffer the same fate!

In the second story, Carter relates the history of Barsoom that he learned from Black Pirate Xodar, going from the Big Bang to the Tree of Life and the eventual evolution of every species on Mars.

Wrapping up his run on the series, Marv Wolfman crafts a pretty efficient tale in "History Holocaust" with some tried and true conventions (mad scientists, action and a beautiful woman) that while fun won't be remembered as one of the highlights of the entire series. Still there is some interesting ideas (including the idea of a machine broadcasting fake lives into a living person's brain, owing to Phillip K. Dick) and a rousing ending where Carter does his best Hulk impression. "Tales of Barsoom" meanwhile is a nice addition that provides history for those unfamiliar with the books and it's a shame that Marvel did not carry this over into the future issues.

Picking up art duties for this issue are Walt Simonson (the legendary artist best known for his great run on The Mighty Thor) and series regular Rudy Nebres. Both work well together crafting some nice visuals and character designs that carry the story along. "Tales of Barsoom" boasts layouts by Ross Andru and it does clash with the first story but is still nicely done, helped by eye catching color.

With that we bid farewell to the original team and wait to see what the new one does on Barsoom. Until then folks, Kaor!