Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

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One of the darkest chapters in Batman lore has received its very own adaptation from DC’s famed and often celebrated animation line. But does The Killing Joke live up to previous classic Bat-animations like Mask of the Phantasm, and the more recent Dark Knight Returns?

Seeing how this is a classic Batman-Joker story, with classic Batman and Joker voice actors, what could possibly go wrong? Right? That’s how I went into this one anyway. Unfortunately, my high expectations left me rather disappointed. I guess I’ll just get right to it. The screenwriters for this movie completely broke Alan Moore’s story. I understand that it’s a short story, and that it would have to be fluffed out to make a feature film, but if you’re going to make the commitment to film it, the least you could do is not screw it up. In Moore’s story, Barbara Gordon may have just been a side character to move the plot forward, but they’ve somehow managed to make that worse. The first thirty minutes of this movie is a kind of prologue to the actual story of The Killing Joke, and to be honest, it’s one that doesn’t work well at all. It feels like something completely separate, mostly because it is. That half hour could have been completely removed and the movie would have been much better for it.

Now for the good parts. As always, when you have such professionals as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker), a large part of the story and quality of the film is going to hinge on their performances. Both do an excellent job here. Hamill’s Joker is as chilling as ever and Conroy’s Batman is perhaps his most stoic performance of the character. Sometimes Conroy even came off a bit too stoic for me with a few line deliveries that were kind of flat for my liking. Those minor few instances aside, the voice actors are what kept this from being a total travesty.

Overall, I was really disappointed with this one. The source material and the voice cast set my expectations pretty high, but the way the screenwriters totally butchered the story left a very sour taste in my mouth. I know Alan Moore is typically not a fan of his work being adapted, so much so that he refuses to have his name credited on the movie adaptations, this one was no exception, and honestly, I can’t say that I blame him.

The Verdict for Batman: The Killing Joke:
2 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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It’s here, it’s here! Marvel’s big Summer event series has arrived. Time to find out if it lives up to the hype.

After the Avengers are able to preemptively stop a massive attack from happening due to some information from the Inhumans, Iron Man hosts a party in Stark Tower and invites all of the heroes who helped save the day. The heroes learn just how the Inhumans learned about the attack and the revelation immediately causes some skepticism and dissension among the costumed adventurers. The conflict is presented immediately, the battle lines are drawn, and the casualties begin to mount a lot quicker than you might expect.

As previously mentioned, writer Brian Michael Bendis wastes no time in getting right into the the conflict for this series, and honestly, I’m okay with that. We don’t really need grand introductions to these characters’ mentalities and reasons for why they feel their way is best. If you step back and look at each side, you ultimately have to admit that both make valid arguments. I also have to give proper kudos to Bendis for coming up with a genuine, morally thought-provoking conflict for the heroes to fight over. That couldn’t have been easy following the landmark Civil War series from the last decade. What I was very surprised by were how quickly the casualties arrive. I would not have expected that kind of action for at least another issue or two.

David Marquez’s artwork is very clean. There isn’t a lot of huge action in this issue, but the little bit that we do get is well drawn. However, I think Marquez’s true talent is in the up close and personal scenes, of which we do get quite a few here. He has a real talent for wringing emotion and drama out of character faces. For an issue where the last few pages are both emotional and dramatic, that talent came in quite handy.

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty critical of Bendis’ ability to write a solid event book in the past, but this one seems to be off to a pretty good start. Which is equally impressive considering the long shadow of the previous Civil War event series and this Summer’s blockbuster MCU movie as well. The interesting premise combined with Marquez’s solid artwork should hopefully make for a series that can live up to it’s name. I look forward to reading the next few issues.

The Verdict for Civil War II #1:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Following the events of issue #5, a new story arc begins here, and finally gives some meaning to the series title, Tokyo Ghost. Led Dent returns to Los Angeles, this time on the same side as his old foe, Davey Trauma. However, Led remains haunted by a ghost from his recent past.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Rick Remender and Sean Murphy treated the first story arc of this series as more of a prologue than anything else. Now we’re really getting into the meat of the story, and let me say, the creators’ collective foot is firmly pressed on the accelerator. We’re barely given any time to breathe as they dive right into this next arc, and after the peace and serenity that we experienced with the main characters in Japan, returning to the dystopic future L.A. is like a kick straight to the gut. We’re also privy to the plan that Trauma and his boss, Flak, have for Tokyo, and it isn’t pretty.

This is definitely a worthy next step in what is probably my second favorite non-superhero comic being published right now. The characters are interesting, the settings are interesting, and the story that’s unfolding is easily one of the best I’ve read in a long time. This issue definitely provides a good jumping on point if you don’t want to go back and read 1-5, but why wouldn’t you want to? I will say, this is definitely for mature readers though, so keep that in mind if you plan to pick it up. Honestly, some of the violence and other less wholesome imagery isn’t necessarily for me, but it fits within the confines of the story, so it all balances out.

The Verdict for Tokyo Ghost #6:
5 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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A new horror series from Dark Horse based on the mansion home of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester (inventor of the Winchester repeating rifle),  House of Penance sets out to explore the popular lore that Sarah felt haunted by the spirits of those killed by her husband’s invention. This supposed haunting led her to the belief that constant building and adding to her mansion would keep the spirits away, so she hired dozens of workers to conduct unending construction at all hours of the day and night.

Writer Peter J. Tomasi crafts a genuinely eerie tale here. Sarah’s apprehension and dread at just about everything is practically palpable. She’s totally paranoid about every little thing, and when she finds something that’s not exactly the way she wants it, or when work stops for just a moment, she begins to panic. Tomasi writes the wandering, rambling, paranoid thoughts in a manner that seems completely believable. Near the end of the first issue, he also introduces a new character into the mix that could have an interesting impact on the story moving forward. The pace of this first issue is a little slow, but I’m willing to stick with it because the story definitely held my attention.

While Tomasi’s writing is great, Ian Bertram’s artwork is spectacular. Each panel resembles a wood engraving, giving the book an aesthetic fitting of the time period in which it takes place. The intricate cross-hatching visible in each page was no doubt incredibly labor intensive, making this issue all the more impressive. To add to this, the characters are drawn in a very unique and highly stylized manner. This level of detail makes the book an absolutely unnerving joy to look at that fits perfectly with Tomasi’s story. It’s almost like reading an old children’s book that took a horrible turn down a dark path in the woods. It left me with a sense of macabre wonder and a desire to find out what happens next.

A creepy story mixed with even creepier artwork, House of Penance #1 is easily one of the most unique and interesting stories that I’ve read this year, and I will certainly be picking up the next few issues to find out where it goes from here. If you’re into old-fashioned gothic horror tales, do yourself a favor and snatch this one off the shelf. You won’t be disappointed.

The Verdict for House of Penance #1:
5 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.