The online narrative around Batman V Superman is that it is the worst thing ever committed to film and that by watching it you are a terrible person. Like the worst. Especially if you found yourself enjoying it. If that happened then you need to revaluate your whole life and consider changing your name to something like Hitler. The film is just that bad you guys! In reality though it seems there is a disconnect between critical and fan reaction that I have not seen before.
The short-ish version is:
If you enjoyed Man of Steel, Batman V Superman is a good followup. It continues to expand the somewhat darker take on the DC characters that DC Cinematic Universe is building in a fun and very different way to the Marvel Studios movies and their slate of characters. Like Man of Steel it has a slower pace than other superhero movies and a lot of it is dedicated to building up the big conflict at the end of the movie. Ben Affleck makes a great Batman, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is different in a good way (for me at least) and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman steals the show in the brief appearances she makes in the movie. The film also does a good job of building out the DC Cinematic Universe in a couple of cool ways. It is far from perfect and it has its flaws like Man of Steel had but it is still a good and entertaining movie.
Personally I really enjoyed it and would say it is on par with the majority of Marvel’s movies. For me it is a case of the critics and reviews being overly harsh with a lot of them boiling down to “This isn’t the same as a Marvel movie so I don’t like it!”, “This is not how I personally perceive these long established characters to be or behave, therefore this film is a crime against nature!” or “I hate Zack Snyder and everything he stands for so I hate this movie by default!” There is also the typical regurgitation without thought of certain lines of thinking that seems to plague all discussion on the internet these days. So much so that you could make a bingo card and have some fun reading through the comments and reviews for Batman V Superman. (FYI: “Zack Snyder loves Ayn Rand!” is the free space.)
If you are interested in the characters or the concept of the film, go watch it and crucially, form your own opinions on it because it has been given a bad rap by many.
The long version is a bit more complicated…
It may have taken me over two years but I finished the main story of Pokémon X! I still don’t quite understand why it has taken me so long to achieve this. Whenever I play, I go really deep into the game’s systems and become obsessed with min/maxing stats and seeing/doing everything. So you would think that would keep me glued to the game non-stop. Instead it has been periods of manic playing with intervals lasting many months between the peak times.
After it became apparent that DC’s Convergence is one of the most phoned in “events” in comic book history I became a bit apprehensive for the start of Secret Wars. Thankfully I should learn not to doubt the talent of Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic and Co. who have blown me away with the opening issue of Secret Wars.
Secret Wars is something builds on what has been happening with Marvel’s line of characters over the past few years. It is also an event that respects its readers and their knowledge of the Marvel Universe’s history. It is not just an excuse to throw character at each other to try and make drama. There is depth and complexity to the big explosions and endless fighting.
But first, a warning before we go any further: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Age of Ultron, man what a film! I went in with a slight apprehension after the mixed reviews started coming out but thankfully Marvel, Joss Whedon and Co. have done it again!
I would go as far as to say it is actually the most comic book like film Marvel Studios had come out with to date. Rather than trying to re-hash the first film Joss Whedon instead has opted to borrow the current Marvel Comics structure of having all the characters doing their own thing in their solo series (i.e. the other Phase 2 movies) then having a big event that brings everyone together for big action, grand ideas and shake ups of status quo. Age of Ultron is that event and it rocks!
This week saw the release of Grayson #1. The new big thing for Batman’s former sidekick, the first Robin turned Nightwing, Dick Grayson. Trading in the super heroics for a globetrotting and mind bending super spy lifestyle. Grayson is one of those rare New 52 books that attempts to deliver on the promise of the New 52. Taking a familiar character and putting a new spin on them, taking both them and the reader out of their comfort zone and trying something new.
First thing, let’s get you up to speed before we explore the life of Dick Grayson, Super Spy:
- Forever Evil happened and it was a great and underrated event comic. (Seriously go read it, it is a lot of fun!)
- Nightwing was captured by the Crime Syndicate and they did this on international television,
- Dick then spent the rest of Forever Evil hanging on the edge of life or death. This caused everyone to speculate that Dan Didio would finally get his wish and we would see the death of Nightwing.
- Nightwing died, for five very, very tense minutes.
- Lex Luthor then saved the world.
- Batman recovered Dick and decided to make his “death” public knowledge.
- Bruce Wayne had a new mission for Dick Grayson one that would benefit from the world and his closest friends thinking he was dead.
- The mission is to infiltrate Spiral, the super secretive spy organisation created by Grant Morrison during his run on Batman and Batman Inc.
- The reason, they know Batman’s identity and could know the identities of other heroes.
- Queue opening credits!
This week sees a new era dawn for the New 52 Superman book. Not only has Geoff Johns returned to writing a character that he has given us some of his best work but this time he is also joined by superstar artist (and my personal favourite comic book artist) John Romita Jr.
Superman #32 hits the ground running and delivers to the reader a fun and action packed Superman comic. Which is great because since the New 52 started Superman has been a very mixed bag of a book. Constantly brought down by crossovers and ill thought out stories. So it is great to see the character back on form doing what he does best, saving the day.
Attack on Titan: Volume 1 (Hajime Isayama)
Manga on the whole is something that I sadly fell out of love with several years ago. I used to be obsessed with the latest ongoing series coming out of Japan. I was even for a time more into manga than traditional American superhero comics. (Shocking I know!) I was well versed on all things Bleach, Naruto, Lupin III, Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, Love Hina, Ghost in the Shell etc. etc. then one day out of the blue it all just became boring. Naruto got too long in the tooth with its endless padding and Bleach while truly entertaining, just got lost on me. Western comic books were starting their big resurgence that would lead into their current dominance of pop culture and box-office receipts while all the manga I read just seemed like variants on the same few story ideas. (Never ending fight stories, harem love stories, not so mysterious mystery stories, etc. along with yet another re-treading of Evangelion because Gainax love profits!) It was like the floor came out from under it all for me. I still loved the classic manga/anime series and films, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Robotech/Macross and Ghost in the Shell have such a huge impact on how I see the world and come up with my own stories that I will love them forever. But everything else just felt…stale. Like it was trying to re-hash the glory days and never quite managing it. So I stepped away for a short break with the full intention of jumping back in within a year “full a piss an’ vinegar” and a rediscovered love of the art form.
That was five years ago.
Since then I havve hardly touched a manga volume or anime DVD outside of my collection of older things. Sure I dabbled here and there and re-read Akira for the millionth time every year or so but on the whole I was happy to just leave the new stuff to the legions of anime/manga fans both in Japan and the west. Leave them to their feverish love of various characters and franchises. Their shipping and in-jokes. Their other-ness as a collective.
I was done. I was out and nothing could bring me back in.
Then a few months ago I heard a low quiet rumble, almost a whisper. The kind I had not seen or felt in a long while. The kind that signalled something good was being published in Japan. The kind of rumble that causes western focused comic book websites to acknowledge its existence which is a big deal. (Trust me, it’s a big deal when it happens!) The whisper said, “check out Attack on Titan, it’s really cooooooool…..” to which I shrugged and said, “meh” before carrying on with my life. Then this month in my first Loot Crate (go check them out they are really cool) box I received a copy of the first volume of the Attack on Titan manga. So I figured what the heck and decided to give it a go.
Attack on Titan has everything I love about manga in it and more. So while I may be pretty much four years late to party from when the series originally began publication in Japan, the wait has been worth it. I am now “full a piss an’ vinegar” and have rediscovered love of the art form of Japanese Manga. (I’m still on the fence about the anime side of things but give me time!)
So yeah, here is my review of it.
Justice League: A New Beginning (Keith Giffen & J.M. Dematteis and Kevin Maguire)
I have a lot of love for the characters of the Justice League International despite never really having read the series that made them famous. I came to Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Mr Miracle et al well after JLI ran its course and by way of books like Infinite Crisis and 52 along with cartoons like Justice League Unlimited. I have never touched any of the older JLI stuff while absolutely adoring the modern takes on the team and characters in books such as Justice League: Generation Lost and the New 52 Justice League International. I planned to change that and where else can you start apart from the beginning?
Justice League: A New Beginning is the starting point of tonal shift for the Justice League and the humble (read: hilarious) beginnings of the JLI.
As an actual graphic novel, (As in it is a comic released as a complete whole in one volume rather than a collected trade of single issues but called a graphic novel instead of a comic book trade by people too scared to call things comic books out of fear of being labelled immature by people with pointy fingers.), The Fifth Beatle takes the reader on a journey through the life of the man behind the Beatles, Brian Epstein and how he took a group of lads from Liverpool and helped make them music gods. (They were more popular than Jesus don’t ya know) It is a comic book so fancy it even got its own trailer to help drum up interest in the book.
It is also a comic that takes liberties with the truth to tell a better story for the right reasons and also, fittingly in the same way that Epstein himself mythologised the Beatles. By changing names, faces, events and adding an element of the other, the book stands out as a tour de force of filmic comic book story telling. It is a tightly packed story that hits all the right beats (heh) while painting a picture of a man that so few know about. It is one of the best non-Superhero comics that I have had the pleasure of reading and I cannot wait to see how this graphic novel will be adapted into film. (Yes they are making a movie of it too!)
When the first issue of the Marvel Chess Collection dropped through my letter box, I was not expecting much. A simple figure and a few incentives to keep buying the collection to complete the set. We have all seen such things in the past and they tend to sit in a weird middle market of being for both kids and adults. While this collection does sit in that weird middle market it does so with glee. Playing up the Marvel angle to its strengths and providing you with a fairly solid product. With a decent amount of detail in the provided figure and a hope to improved things as the collection goes on, this first issue shows promise.
Out of the gate this first issue has the tough task of getting people not only to give it a go by buying it for the cheaper than usual price. Then it has to sell the buyer on a long term investment in the collection to either partial or full completion. It does the job admirably with a few glaring inconsistencies.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty!