Mike: Wait a minute… China is like really far away or something, isn’t it?
The Amazing Spider-Man is not a perfect movie by any means and there was one scene in particular that had me cringing (you’ll know it when you see it), but it gets more right than it gets wrong. The actions scenes are well done, the new costume is less awful than I thought, and the movie is more about Peter Parker than it is about Spider-Man. Which is exactly how it should be.
Andrew Garfield has a different take on Pete than we’ve seen in a movie thus far, but it works here. He’s not the biggest loser in the world, he’s just a little awkward. Spider-Man mouths off like Spider-Man is prone to do, but there’s no real differentiation between his Spider-Man persona and his Peter persona so he mouths off as Pete too. That was jarring at first, but in the end that was a minor complaint. His dialogue is closer to smart ass Spidey than Raimi ever pulled off, so kudos on that. Emma Stone is fantastic. Her Gwen Stacy steals almost every scene she’s in. You get why Peter is love struck immediately because you’re right there with him. I’ll stop gushing before I start sounding like Jim Carrey, but she really is great. Aunt May and Uncle Ben feel like fully realized characters as opposed to two dimensional caricatures of nice old people. In fact, all of the characters feel more fully realized this time out. Even Flash comes off as a real person, not just The Bully. The best casting choice by far is Denis Leary as Captain Stacy.
“We need someone to be a gruff father figure who does nothing but give Peter shit.”
“So we need a Denis Leary type?”
“What’s Denis Leary doing?”
Fish in a fucking barrel.
Even Rhys Ifans does fairly well with the limited role of Doc Conners. Yeah, the main villain feels pretty limited in both scope and screen time. I think a lot of people are going to complain about the Lizard and he’s certainly not a great villain. But he does the two things this movie needed from its villain, be physically threatening to Peter and don’t take up too much screen time.
I do think that his limited presence was intentional as they decided to tell a much bigger, longer origin story. Peter doesn’t get into the Spider-Man costume for a long time and Conners doesn’t play much of a role in the first act of the movie. His story is very simple and quick. He wants his arm back, he goes too far to get it back, and he lets his compulsion consume him. Superhero movies tend to be ABOUT the villain with the hero just reacting to their antics. That’s not always a problem. The Dark Knight is the second best superhero movie ever and it only works because Ledger’s Joker is so damn interesting and he gets enough screen time to capture the audience. All three of the previous Spider-Man movies fell into the villain-as-headliner trap with varying degrees of success. Peter was intentionally played as the boring, generic do-gooder hero while the first two movies gave great actors a chance to ham it up as Spidey’s most menacing villains. Hell, Alfred Molina was so good that it completely masked the rest of the second movie’s incredible mediocrity in every other facet. Then the third movie lacked that talent level in its villains and it turned into a steaming pile. The dancing didn’t help. Neither did recycling the Mary Jane gets kidnapped plot for the third movie in a row, but mostly it was that there wasn’t an actor on set capable of distracting us from Tobey McGuire and Kirstin Dunst’s wooden acting and lack of chemistry. This movie goes the other way and relies heavily on Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone to carry the movie and they do it well.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want Disney to get their hands on Spider-Man. I think that Marvel Studios would do the best Spider-Man movie possible. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a mostly solid flick. Thumbs up.
Side note, anyone bitching about this being “Spider-Man meets Twilight” needs to pick up a Spider-Man comic because his stories have always been soap opera marketed for teens and wrapped in spandex. Also, as a nation we need to stop singling out Twilight like it’s the only piece of crap that does good business and won’t go away. There’s a glut on the market of unstoppable crap. Transformers 4 is coming, for fuck’s sake. How is it that terribly written, poorly acted, teen angst vampire crap our go to bad movie series when three hours of obnoxious, headache inducing, Micheal Bay directed scraps of metal flying at each other won’t stop coming out every two years like clockwork?
Well DC has decided to make a Watchmen Prequel. Needless to say this has gotten people riled up. Many believed that Watchmen is a work of art and should never be touched. A few years ago I maybe would have agreed with the same amount of anger as others but now, not so much.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Watchmen is an amazing and perfect story and should not be expanded on. Not because I hold the story as a sacred text, but because there’s really no reason to. Everything that needed to be told about the universe of Watchmen, has been told and with an astonishing level of detail. The world of Watchmen is pretty much complete and while it would be fun and interesting to see the adventures of mask vigilantes before the final ending, it just doesn’t seem worth bringing back the Watchmen universe to tell it. So why bother?
The main reason appears to be DC wanting to make more money from the characters. Honestly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Really, I’m surprise how long they lasted. Though there another reason, it’s a dream project for writers and artists. Just think about how many creators out there would love a chance to write and draw these interesting and iconic characters. To be able to participate with a title that has inspired so much, not just in this industry but many other creative industries, is an honor. Personally, I would love nothing better than to work on a Batman title, to be apart of that grand legacy, to add what I can to something I loved growing up. Although the larger question is, would it be worth it? Can it be nearly as anything great as it’s predecessor? And that’s the key concern people should have.
Now of course there is the matter of what does Alan Moore think and unsurprising he’s not happy. Alan Moore has never been one to like what comic companies do with his work. He hates movie adaptions and unwanted sequels to his work. His main complaint is usually the companies should try to be original and create something new rather than rely on something he made 25 years ago. That I agree with, our culture has gotten too comfortable with sequels, prequels, reboots, revamps, etc. that we rarely see something new and original. But I also think it’s hypocritical of Moore to think DC is still dependent on his ideas when really he made his career of of using other people’s ideas. Marvelman, Swamp Thing, hell even Watchmen all used characters he didn’t create. In case you don’t know Watchmen was originally titled “Who Killed the Peacemaker” Rorschach, The Comedian, Dr Manhattan, Silk Specter, Nite Owl, and Ozymandias were based off of: The Question, Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Nightshade, Blue Beetle, and Thunderbolt respectively. All of whom were created in the sixties and own by DC. So it seemed Moore’s not the only one dependent on other people’s ideas from more than 20 years ago. He is also quoted saying, “As far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to Moby-Dick.’” Which is true, but that didn’t stop him from using Ishmael from Moby-Dick or Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll, Hawley Griffin, Professor Moriarty, and countless other characters from famous literature in his comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Now I feel weird criticizing Alan Moore because the guy is a genius who could crap better stories than I can ever dream to write. I’m in no way implying he was wrong to use those characters or that he’s incapable of creating his own. I just think it’s hypocritical to criticize someone else for doing the same thing with his work that he’s done with others. He’s also entitled to his opinion which I half agree with, I don’t think these prequels should be made. Though I’m not going to get angry over something completely out of my control. If you think it’s wrong for DC to make these prequels then just don’t buy them. I certainly won’t be reading them unless I hear good things. Really, you don’t even have to acknowledge their existence, so it doesn’t matter; because we already have a masterpiece and even if there’s a million sequel it doesn’t change what we have.
But at the very least, I pray the prequel’s success can green light this project: Saturday Morning Watchmen.
Ok, I’ve fallen way behind. And now you know what Mike has known for some time, I’m fucking terrible at meeting self-imposed deadlines. Since I’m so far back most of these are gonna be fairly short. So, here are my week 3 reviews. Just in time for week 4′s releases.
Week 2 Holdovers
Batwoman #1 is getting hype I’m not quite sure it deserves. It’s not a bad book, but the new villain is kind of lame, Kate’s pale skin has been cranked up to a ridiculous degree that makes her look sickly, and the addition of a sidekick is questionable at best. It’s not that I disliked the book, it was a solid read and I’ll pick up the next one, but there is definitely room for improvement. I think everyone’s just happy Batwoman is back.
3/5 Female Powders
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 was a trip. That’s the best way I can think to describe a book that turns into a remake of Monster Squad about halfway through. It was certainly an interesting read, but there isn’t a whole lot of characterization to be found. Then again, Monster Squad. Who needs characterization?
3/5 Ray Palmer Appearances
Demon Knights #1 was a decidedly different take on some of DC’s immortal characters. There was a whole lot of backstory to set up and I don’t think they’ve quite established any of the characters yet, but what we have seen of the likes of Madame Xanadu have been… interesting. As a fan of her Vertigo series I’m not quite sold on this version whose first words in the series were “Sod this.” and who seems to have simultaneous romantic relationships with Jason Blood and Etrigan. Worth a second look though.
3.25/5 Dragon Soldiers
Week 3 Proper
Supergirl #1 continues the alarming trend of me liking the books from Superman’s corner of the universe better than any other new release for the third week in a row. Guys, I don’t really like Superman. I’m kind of infamous for it. With the exception of a few high profile stories the big blue boy scout bores the hell out of me, always has. But here I am enjoying the hell out of every book starring a character with an S on their chest. If this reboot accomplishes nothing else at least the Super series have been a success so far. As for Supergirl herself the story is pretty straight forward. A young girl lost on alien world scared and alone is attacked by government goons and discovers her superpowers. Then she’s met by someone else wearing her family’s crest. But when the execution is this good it doesn’t matter that you know Supes is going to show up at the end. The art is fantastic, Kara’s inner monologue is compelling, and her fear and confusion are palpable on the page. Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Mahmud Asrar deliver a fantastic read that continues to pull me down the Super-rabbit hole.
4.5/5 Super Series
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 is written by Scott Lobdell. Last week I was downright effusive with my praise of Lobdell’s work on the first issue of Superboy, which makes the following sentence all the more disappointing for me to write. Fuck you, Scott Lobdell. You were given a chance to recreate Starfire for the DCnU and the best you could come up with was amnesiac sex doll? Fuck you. I get real tired of defending comics from claims of sexism. I’ve said thing like, “Sure, some comics are sexist, but so are some TV shows and movies. You can’t paint the whole medium as having a problem because of a few bad books.” Well now I have to eat those words. This is a problem for the whole medium. This was DC’s chance to reinvent one of their highest profile female characters (thanks to the very popular Teen Titans TV show) for a whole new audience and instead of making her interesting or compelling they turned her into a vacuous sex kitten for the two male stars of the series to high five over having nailed. Fuck you, Scott Lobdell. Fuck you, Dan DiDio. Fuck you, everyone at DC who saw this and let it go to print.
0/5 Embarrassing Purchases
Blue Beetle #1 was the star of our last page on this here comic, but said page contained no review because I hadn’t read the book yet. I was just glad it was back. Still am. I missed the Blue Beetle, not Jaime himself as he’s appeared elsewhere pretty consistantly since his book’s cancellation, but his supporting cast. Paco, Brenda, Milagro, Berto, and most especially Bianca Reyes. They were my favorite supporting cast outside of Spider-Man and I missed them terribly. None of them gets a chance to really shine in this first issue which is pretty focused on establishing The Reach’s intergalactic threat and La Dama’s criminal enterprise in addition to giving Jaime the Beetle, but I’m sure they’ll get the spotlight at some point in the future. I’m also sure somewhere on the internet someone is complaining about all the Spanish in this book. Get over it. Blue Beetle #1 was a great jumping on point for new readers and a welcome return for old fans.
4/5 Brenda’s Backs!
I was really looking forward to Wonder Woman #1 and it didn’t disappoint. Diana is tasked with protecting a woman whose carrying one of Zeus’ bastards. Oh, that Zeus. Always sticking his penis where it doesn’t belong. Anyway Hera’s on the warpath trying to snuff the unborn demigod before it can fulfill a prophecy that says it will kill one of the Olympians and take their place. So the godly intrigue gets cranked all the way up in the first issue. Unfortunately, so much time is spent on this that we don’t actually spend a lot of time with Diana. I am excited about the next issue though, so it was a minor quibble.
4/5 Dead Deities
Nightwing #1 brings Dick back to his old name and a familiar, if somewhat altered, costume. Dick is as confidant as he’s ever been coming off a successful stint as the Goddamned Batman. Writer Kyle Higgins doesn’t waste much time in bringing him back down to Earth. Someone shows up to kill Grayson, not Nightwing, and ends up killing two cops while Dick ducks around a corner to change into his uniform. Yikes. That’s some bad heroing there boy blunder. The baddy claims Grayson is a killer. This is a recurring theme this week, stay tuned for Batman for more details. Pretty good issue all in all and again DC has me coming back for more next month. This fucking reboot is killing my wallet.
3.5/5 Broken Ribs
Batman #1 is written by American Vampire’s Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo. How do you start a run on Batman? Having him take on every hood, thug, and nutjob in Arkham Asylum while delivering an inner monologue about the state of Gotham is a nice start. Having him team up with the Joker is a nice twist. Having a killer’s DNA match Dick Grayson at the end of the issue is a better twist. Snyder writes Bats, Alfred, Gordon, and all three Robins very well, but it’s the way he handled Harvey Bullock that really impressed me. His take on the state of Gotham is a perfect antithesis to Bruce’s. After all it may be a nU DC, but Gotham is still Gotham. Capullo is a perfect fit for this comic. Loved this issue.
4.25/5 Cigar Fires
Birds of Prey #1 by Duane “My Last Name Is Ridiculous To Try To Spell” Swierczynski and Jesus “My Name Is Much Easier To Spell” Saiz is a good book with an interesting take on the the titular Birds. Apparently Black Canary has been accused of murder and she’s on the run, but not particularly concerned with proving her innocence. Instead she’s out helping the helpless with the help of one Ev Crawford and, notably, not with the help of Babs who seems to be at odds with Dinah’s new direction. Not for long since we know she’ll eventually show up in this book much to Gail Simone’s apparent dismay. It’s not quite what I thought it would be, but it’s a good read. Frickin’ DC’s got me again.
3.5/5 Exploding Authors
Finally, Catwoman #1 starts off with a tasteful shot of Catwoman’s cans and it doesn’t really get much better from there. I’m not up in arms about this one like I was with Red Hood. Catwoman is a femme fatale. That’s one of the basic aspects of her character, so I’m hardly surprised that they played up the sex. I’m less than thrilled with it being the main focus of the book, but… whatever. Not for me I guess.
1/5 Spandex Sex Scenes
This week, encouraged by the high average quality from the first two weeks of the DCnU I decided to pick up more books this week than before. The results were predictably mixed.
Legion Lost #1 is my first foray into Legion of Super-Heroes comics. This being a linewide reboot and all I figured this would be the perfect place to jump on. That was less than accurate. I have no idea who these people/monsters are and Fabian Nicieza isn’t slowing down long enough to fill me in. He does tell us why they’re here though. The Legion is chasing someone named Alastor who has a beef with humans despite looking an awful lot like one about half of the time. I don’t know if he’s an established villain, I don’t know what his beef with humanity is exactly (something about a little sister), and I don’t know what pathogen he released into present day Earth’s atmosphere. Nicieza is throwing things at the reader fast and furious and hoping to keep you interested enough to stick around for answers, which is actually fairly typical for him. I usually enjoy his stuff, with the seriously underrated odd couple book Cable & Deadpool ranking among my favorite runs ever and his recent work on Red Robin being very good. Pete Woods turns in some very solid pencils. I wasn’t blown away, but the ending caught me off guard and has me waiting for the next issue. Pretty much exactly what you want from an introductory issue.
3.5/5 Burst Bubbles
Next up, Suicide Squad #1 brings back one of my favorite team concepts and attempts to fill the void left by Secret Six as the ‘villain book’. Considering how good that book generally was that’s quite the task. I enjoyed this first issue a whole lot. We jump into the minds of Harley Quinn, El Diablo, and Deadshot of the titular Suicide Squad as they are tortured for information on their benefactor, but none of them crack. King Shark doesn’t crack either, but he doesn’t seem to have much of a mind to jump into in the DCnU. Someone does crack though and only then do they reveal the twist that most readers must have seen coming a mile away. They telegraphed that one a bit and I was severely disappointed until the last page delivered something I wasn’t expecting. Two things actually, but I’m not a huge fan of Amanda Waller’s new look. Speaking of new looks, I was one of the people who thought Harley’s was a bit much, but it turns out that wasn’t the most drastic change made to her. She seems much more deranged in the DCnU. This chick is exactly who you’d expect to fall for the Joker. On the other hand Floyd Lawton is the same old bastard we know and love, just minus one mustache. I miss the mustache, but I suppose I can live without it. Adam Glass gets the right tone and he’s moving the team in the right (completely wrong) direction. Federico Dallocchio and Ransom Getty also have the tone down right. In fact, I’m sure some will complain that this is the same as every other iteration of the Squad. New members, same old story and so forth. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and the Squad isn’t broken.
4.25/5 MEATS! MEATS! MEATS!
Superboy #1 is my favorite book of the week, continuing a good trend for Superman’s corner of the Universe. But, to be fair, I am a sucker for a good Tyke Bomb storyline. The Superboy is a weapon created by mixing the DNA of Superman and a certain “deeply pathological, megalomaniacal narcissist”. The majority of the issue explores the mysterious organization N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (love the ridiculous acronym) in their attempts to gain control of the Superboy. Including a VR simulation of a life in small town Kansas that guest stars a Teen Titan from the DColdU. In fact, she’s just about the last Teen Titan I expected to see in this book, but she plays a prominent role both inside and outside the VR program. I hope she sticks around because she’s awfully entertaining here. Superboy himself is pretty much a blank slate at this point and this book seems like it will be about him trying to figure out exactly who he is. The book ends with a tie in to Scott Lobdell’s other book, the aforementioned Teen Titans #1. As bad as that cover looks I’m going to be picking it up to see what’s happening to our Superboy here and Tim Drake. Lobdell does a good job of establishing characters, but some of the pseudoscience relating to his spread consciousness doesn’t really work. Then again, this is a comic book. When does the science ever work? R.B. Silva brings a real energy to every page and the squatty science goon was a nice touch that made me chuckle.
4.25/5 Ravaging Ravagers
Batman and Robin #1 was a really solid book with a few interesting choices made by Peter Tomasi. Having Batman’s continuity stay so much more intact than the other characters around DCnU presents the problem of having to manufacture a split from the previous continuity that few other writers of the new 52 have to face. Tomasi gives Bats a sort of self-induced milestone in this one that does the trick. Basically, he decides to honor his parents in a less morbid way than he had been since their death. Psychologically healthy and dramatically compelling, well played Mr. Tomasi. As for the rest of this issue Damian is, nearly impossibly, more obnoxious than ever before in this issue. He spends a full third of the book ragging on Bats for being sad about his parent’s death. Yeesh. But Damian being obnoxious doesn’t mean Damian is being poorly written, kind of the opposite. It’s interesting that Damian is so much closer to Dick than Bruce at this point. He has to start over fresh as Robin if he’s going to have Bruce accept him as a partner. I could see why he’d be pissy about earning his stripes a second time. There’s a mystery bad guy who bookends this issue by offing people peripherally related to Bats. No idea why, but the last line of the book provides a clue.
3.75/5 Snide Sidekicks
Ok, so I said I’d also review Batwoman #1, Frankenstein # 1, and Demon Knights #1 too and I will review them. But not right now. I’m tired from work and going to bed early. More nU Reviews tomorrow. Promise.
Rather than clog the commentary posts on the comics I thought it would be best to just give these reviews their own blog series unimaginatively titled nU Reviews. So let’s get started.
Batgirl #1 finds Babs back on her feet with no explanation yet provided as to how, but oddly enough the main focus of the issue is our new/old Batgirl dealing with the psychological and physical aftereffects of The Killing Joke anyway. Almost taunting the expectant reader by mentioning that something happened, but not explaining what that something was. Whatever the case The Killing Joke is, as promised, very much still in continuity. Gail Simone is clearly having fun with this assignment. She has always loved Barbara and that comes through in the writing. This book was a lot of fun, right up till the end when it switched gears and became very serious, very quickly. The art by Ardian Syaf is great. And the story is engaging, but it’s not a perfect book. While I’m less annoyed with the lack of answers than I would have suspected I still wish they’d addressed how she’s up and about right out of the gate. And her new roommate is less entertaining than Simone seems to think she is. That said, it’s a very solid first comic.
Detective Comics #1 is an interesting book, but it already seems to be a very ambitious undertaking. Right out of the gate Batman is chasing the Joker, but he makes some comments in his inner monologue about the Joker’s criminal past that makes me wonder how this book and the above Batgirl will work in the same continuity. I’m giving DC the benefit of the doubt on this one for the time being. Anyway, Bats and Joker do a modified version of their usual dance with Joker fairing a lot better than he usually does in a physical confrontation with the Goddamned Batman. And that’s all I’m going to say. I’m trying not to spoil anything here, because the ending legitimately surprised me. Can’t wait to see where this is going.
4.25/5 Naked Clowns
Action Comics #1 is the book of the week. To say that I was less than enthused about this particular corner of the reboot in the months leading up to this launch would be a sizable understatement, but 1 issue in and I am already sold. I LOVE Superman’s new direction. This different take on Superman, which is actually a return to his 1930′s origins, as a social crusader every bit as concerned with stopping corrupt businessmen and other societal cancers as he is with punching superbaddies is unlike just about anything else on the stands. And nU Supes is young and brash, making enemies everywhere he turns by doing the right thing the wrong way. The new take on Clark Kent is… interesting. At the very least I finally believe that people wouldn’t instantly recognize Clark and Superman as the same person (it might take them a whole 10 seconds now). Clark doesn’t get as much fleshing out as his caped alter-ego in this issue, so no judgments on that front just yet. Luthor makes his appearance and he is never more entertaining than he is when Morrison writes him. The dialogue about alien fauna destroying local wildlife is both highly entertaining and a good establishing character moment. By the end of the issue he proves that he may be more dangerous in the DCnU than ever before. Lois and Jimmy get the short end of the stick in this issue with less ‘screen time’ than Clark and Lex or even General Lane. But I’m sure they’ll get their turn in the future. Rags Morales turns in some excellent work on art and Morrison is Morrison. All in all, one of the best first issues I can remember reading.
4.75/5 Big Ass Bullets
Green Arrow #1 is the first real dud I’ve picked up in the DCnU. Ollie lost his beard, he’s back to running a major corporation, he’s operating internationally, he has a new costume (Smallville inspired I believe), and he’s hired himself a support team. These are all changes that could, and probably should, work. But they just don’t. It starts with the basics: dialogue, story, and art. Ollie delivers some really bad attempts at tough guy talk during his big fight. And later he gives a speech about why he fights the good fight that seems to be checking off every item on a superhero cliche list as quickly as they possibly can. His new bad guys are lame, which he comments on. So maybe intentional? They’re also intensely uninteresting. Probably not intentional. His new supporting cast sucks. Honestly, they felt more like a parody than a real supporting cast. I actually hope that Krul phoned this one in, I’d hate to think he really tried and it still came out this bad. And I’m just not a fan of Dan Jurgens’ art. Not really a whole lot to add to that. Finishing this comic with the others staring at me from my pile felt like a chore. How long until we can reboot this particular reboot?
1/5 Poor Ollies