Archive for X-Men

My Tribute to Jack Kirby, King of Comics

Posted in Comics, Jack Kirby with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

So this week I was assigned Kirby’s Dream Land 3 for review on EveryGame. Problem was, Scott had already written a stellar creepy gangster story about Kirby for Kirby Superstar, which was gonna be my angle (not so much the street-level storytelling, more the Kirby-as-creepy-Dream-Eater-type vibe). So what did I do? I decided to write about comics legend Jack Kirby instead. Not once do I reference the videogame, aside from a name drop and the obligatory screenshot, like this one:

Those of you unfamiliar with the name Jack Kirby will no doubt be familiar with his work. If you’re a fan of the Manhunter, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Magneto, the Inhumans, Black Panther, the New Gods, Mister Miracle, Darkseid, Kamandi, The Demon, and the Eternals – you have Jack Kirby to thank, because he created all of them.

Despite the flippancy of the subject change, I hope you find it a fitting tribute to the King of Comics. Inspired by Mark Evanier’s touching eulogy, I wrote it from the perspective of an old friend:

Let me tell ya ’bout a kid called Kirby. Wasn’t the name his mother gave him, but that’s what he settled on, so that’s what we called him, got it? Weren’t too long before we’d have another name for him: The King. “The King of Comics” we called him. Let me tell you ’bout ol’ King Kirby.

Indeed, having been energised by so many of his characters and stories, he really does feel like an old friend to me. I must confess to shedding the occasional tear whenever I read a first-hand account of a chance meeting with the guy, or even reading a comic book dedicated to him that I know he would have smiled at.

So, Jack Kirby – King of Comics – this is for you. I hope you like it.

We’ve really gotta stop calling these things reviews.

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What do Mickey Mouse and Wolverine have in common? Ownership, apparently…

Posted in Comics, Marvel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st August, 2009 by Adam Redsell

Yes, your heard that right.  Disney is now the proud owner of Marvel Comics.

The Walt Disney Company announced yesterday that Marvel shareholders would receive $30 per share in cash plus 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share owned in a transaction totaling approximately $4 billion.

What does this mean for you, dear Comics Reader?  Well, not a whole lot up front actually.  Disney seems intent on honouring all existing agreements, and allowing Marvel to retain its corporate identity; similar in fashion to the Time-Warner/DC Comics dynamic.  So we should see Marvel retain a large degree of editorial control.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t have plans.  After all, why else would Disney buy Marvel if not for the characters?  Disney President Robert A. Iger, had this to say:

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories”

Marvel Chief Executive Ike Perlmutter read between the lines as well:

“Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses.”

Can anyone say “crossover”?  We may not see Donald Duck meet Deadpool anytime soon, but it sounds like both companies are eager for the chance to play with each other’s toys.

Entertainment media outlets have been spitballing the possibilities, from Lost and Pirates of the Carribean comics to animated superhero features.  More ridiculous propositions include a Kingdom Hearts comic and a Spider-Man/Mickey team-up.  Either way, we should see distribution channels open up for the comics giant, and hopefully for the industry at large.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2 (of 6)

Posted in Comics, DC, Final Crisis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
She aint much to look at, but shes got it where it counts.

She ain't much to look at, but she's got it where it counts.

Author: Joe Casey
Artists: Andre Coelho & Eduardo Pansica
Inkers: Andre Coelho & Sandro Ribeiro
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover Artist: Stanley “Art Germ” Lau
Editors: Ian Sattler, Rex Ogle & Will Moss

I have to admit, after such a stellar debut, I’m more than a little disappointed with the second issue of Dance.  This is largely due to the artwork, which not only suffers from the absence of previous artist ChrisCross, but also from the inconsistency that comes with having two artists on board (Coelho and Pansica).  This is unfortunate, because it lets down what is otherwise a well-written comic by Joe Casey.

The plot’s pretty interesting, and reminiscent of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, perhaps to a fault.  Those who have read it will likely recognise one of the major plot points, perhaps with fondness.  The whole satellite headquarters thing didn’t work out so well for the Super Young Team, so they’ve been transferred to a suite in Las Vulgar (which is apparently Vegas in DC-Land).  Their ‘handlers’ try to get a reality TV show off the ground, accompanied by a bit of product placement and a hot-tub, in hopes that Shiny Happy Aquazon might get her Shiny Happy Gear-off.  Aquazon agrees to the product placement – much to the surprise of her teammates – but not the gear-off (much to the disappointment of lovesick Atomic Lantern Boy), and things get stranger from there with a product-launch-gone-wrong.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team get bored and go looking for a fight.  This results in a pretty interesting tea conversation with a supervillain.  It’s good to see that the flavour of their first outing hasn’t been lost altogether.

Cut to Tokyo, where a burnt out and bottle-broken Rising Sun decries Japan’s disrespect for its heroic traditions.  Tokyo has been quarantined, closed to everyone – especially superheroes – and no-one seems to want to say why.  All we know is exactly this: Japan has been in a very bad way since the Final Crisis; the powers-that-be don’t want anyone to know about it; and the Super Young Team is being groomed as a Grade-A distraction from it.  Never has Rising Sun been such an interesting character – not during the first Crisis, not ever – as he has been in this Drunken Also-ran incarnation.  He’s the Voice in the Desert, crying out for Japan to reclaim its honour, and I for one can’t wait to see what lies ahead for this super-prophet.

Superbat’s ‘tweeting’ reveals the conflict they all feel: they want to be heroes, but they want to be teenagers too.  Fame and fortune is nice, but it’s ultimately empty thrills for these eager youngsters (“but we saved the Multiverse!”, they exclaim).  The slick PR people do their darned best to distract them, but their restlessness is almost tangible.  The Super Young Team’s True Enemy brings all new meaning to “friends close, enemies closer”, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

As you can see, there’s a lot of story packed into these 22 pages (and a lot of pointed observations on commercialism, truth decay, and Reality TV); more, I dare say than most of the stuff on comic book shelves.  It’s certainly worth continuing with this one; it’s just such a pity about the art!  If either one of these artists penciled the full story, it would have been better for it.  And with colours as brilliant as the day-glo-rific Dance #1, anything less was doomed to be a disappointment.  Bring back the art team from the first issue, DC, and this could be the best book on the shelves.

Wolverine TPB

Posted in Comics, Marvel, Wolverine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Four parts brilliant to two parts...not-so-brilliant.

Four parts brilliant to two parts...not-so-brilliant.

Author: Chris Claremont
Artist: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colorist: Glynis Wein & Lynn Varley
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Artist: Frank Miller

Uncanny X-Men 172-173

Artist: Paul Smith
Inker: Bob Wiacek

Much like the recent Wolverine film, I recommend the first two-thirds of this trade paperback for the ideal Wolverine experience.  That is to say that I recommend reading the Wolverine mini-series penned and penciled by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and not so much the issues of The Uncanny X-Men that succeed it.  While the additional issues may add to the perceived value of this collection, the drastic shift in tone, plot and pacing diminish the impact of the core 4-part story.  This shift can be attributed to two factors: the absence of Frank Miller, and the presence of the X-Men.

I can only conclude Frank Miller’s heavy involvement in the scripting of Wolverine, as the disparity in Claremont’s writing is striking.  Wolvie’s visceral tale of revenge and honour is not an easy act to follow, but the appearance of the X-Men is crude and garish by comparison.  The super-team feel like a cameo in their own book; an unwanted intrusion into Logan’s story.  I would recommend tracking down the mini-series alone if the price is right.  If this trade paperback is all you can find, then I implore you to stay your curiosity and stop reading when Miller stops drawing.  Not because Miller’s art is that much greater (though it is) – I honestly believe the issues that follow spoil the overall story.  I don’t know if that speaks to Logan’s character as the quintessential lone wolf, but I’ve still seen him operate effectively in well-written X-teams, and unfortunately this is not one of them.  Perhaps Claremont’s ongoing X-Men work was running on a tighter schedule and he was simply phoning it in.  Perhaps sales were flagging in the main book, and Wolverine’s re-introduction really was forced into the story, rather than the other way around.

Rogue’s character is particularly grating, both in dialogue and concept.  Case in point: Rogue casually mentions (in her irritating Southern accent) that she is half-alien, hence her immunity to poisons, and so of course she is the best candidate to help Logan on his mission!  Logan accepts her explanation as a matter of course, and is all of a sudden willing to put all his misgivings about her aside and take her on board(!).  Claremont infers that Wolvie employs good ol’ logical reasoning to arrive at this decision (“Hmmm…half-alien, immune to poisons…I guess you have a point”)!  On the back of a classic Japanese revenge tale, you can probably appreciate that I found this *a little* hard to swallow.  Also present is a pointless cameo of The Phoenix, Scott Summers’ new girlfriend who COINCIDENTALLY LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE JEAN GREY AND COINCIDENTALLY SURVIVED THE VERY SAME PLANE CRASH THAT JEAN GREY DIED IN – but it’s not Jean Grey; it couldn’t possibly be Jean Grey! X-fans curious as to the hallowed origins of Storm’s mohawk will also be pleased to know that its contrivance is explained herein!  See what I mean?  Well, I suppose you won’t until I elaborate on the mini-series itself.

Wolverine is the story of Logan’s battle for the heart of his ex-lover, Mariko.  Three obstacles lie in his path:

  1. Mariko’s father is Shingen Yashida, crimelord extraordinnaire.  His return to Japan necessitates:
  2. Her political marriage to an abusive Yakuza.
    And;
  3. Mariko is Japanese, Wolverine is a Gaijin (basically the n-word for white people, meaning ‘outsider’ or ‘foreigner’).

This means Wolvie has to try extra-hard to prove his worth.  That Lord Shingen is trying to kill him with his elite ninja force doesn’t help any.  To further complicate matters, maverick assassin Yukio also falls for Logan, despite being contracted to kill him.  Yukio proves to be an interesting character, surprisingly free-spirited for someone in the business of taking lives.  Unfortunately, this eccentricity is overplayed in Uncanny X-Men.  (To spare you the torture, Yukio has the dubious honour of inspiring Storm’s mohawk.)

Our (anti-?)hero’s position as an Westerner coming to grips with the Japanese ideology is well-placed from a writing perspective.  It would have been foolishness for Chris Claremont to claim mastery over a foreign culture.  As Claremont’s understanding increases, so too does Logan begin to embrace Japanese concepts of honour and duty.  Having read the very Japanese Ronin and Sin City, I can’t help but wonder whether this could have benefited from even more involvement from Frank Miller.  His artwork is cleaner and more academic than the style he’s become renowned for, but remains distinct and dynamic, especially during action scenes.

Without a doubt, Wolverine’s solo debut is a defining moment for the character.  Even his famous line “I’m the best at what I do” is coined here, but never overused; and the phrase feels fresher for knowing.  This is recommended reading for any comic reader.  Ignore the extras and you’ll be just fine.

A Word of Warning to All Deadpool Fans:

Posted in Comics, Deadpool, film, Marvel, Wolverine, X-Men with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 4th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

Do NOT see Wolverine. It will piss you right off.

To everyone else: the first two-thirds, then walk away. No malice, no hard feelings, just try to stem your curiousity for thirty seconds and walk calmly out of the cinema. There, that wasn’t so hard, now, was it? And congratulations – you’ve just rewarded yourself with the perfect Wolverine experience.

Protip: if Wolverine is on 'The Island', you've gone too far.

Protip: if Wolverine is on 'The Island', you've gone too far.

You won’t be scarred for life if you don’t (though you may be disappointed), but Deadpool fans WILL.

Fortunately for me, I don’t count myself among their ranks, but I do know that Deadpool is known as the ‘Merc with a Mouth.’ With Stan Lee and Richard Donner executive producing, someone on the set must have known that this would be tantamount to a big, sick joke.

Deadpool: breaking the fourth wall since 1997.

Deadpool: breaking the fourth wall since 1997.

I’m really not exaggerating, but to tell you why would be to spoil the ending which I’m imploring you not to see!

It doesn’t make one iota of sense to me. They hired Ryan Reynolds for the part – lithe, muscular physique, and a smart mouth; a perfect choice – and for the first half of the movie, he nailed the part perfectly. The only thing missing was the mask, and my guess was that Ryan Reynolds wanted to show off his beautiful face.

Tell me you can't imagine Ryan Reynolds saying that.

Tell me you can't imagine Ryan Reynolds saying that.

You know what? If you can forgive the masklessness, Deadpool fans, just do the same: go and see the first two thirds of the film and you’ll have an enjoyable Wolverine experience with a splash of Deadpool.

(I know it’s in the trailer, but it’s worth going just to see the helicopter bit.)

Marvel may not be on their A-game, but Wolvie’s still the best at what he does (and what he does best is take down helicopters).