Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Walking Dead Volume 18: What Comes After (2013)

I've failed to enjoy The Walking Dead for so long, I decided to go back and read my previous reviews to determine when exactly the worm turned. I didn't cover Volume 11: Fear the Hunters in January of 2010, probably because I was bogged down with other things, but I described it as "incredible" while I moaned about the plodding, repetitive Volume 12: Life Among Them. It occurs to me that across three years and seven volumes, the cast is still basically in the same exact place, both in location and emotion. There are a few less people still with us (I predicted the wrong dead old timer of 17: Something To Fear, but the event itself played out as expected with a different neck in the noose,) although everyone is a shadow of their former self anyway, so what does that matter? I think 14: No Way Out was where the troubles really began, since it was built up at a time of maximum cross-media Walking Dead hypeage, but ended up circling right back to where it started from. As the band mourned deaths of folks most cared fuck all about in 15: We Find Ourselves, I found myself talking as much or more about the TV series, as it seemed to take two mediums running stories concurrently to give me enough material to write about for one review. The third season of the show managed to outshine the current books, if not the story's source material. It went out with more of a whimper than a bang, but Season 3's heights were high, and the trailer for Season 4 has me hyped for more Tyrese (who I've missed terribly in the comics) being joined by fellow The Wire alumni D'Angelo Barksdale. Now there's a show I need to get back to and finish.

Where was I? Oh yeah-- I thought all those menacing faceless figures on covers to comics collected in the previous volume, Something To Fear, meant that we'd get some cross-pollination; having Merle and Daryl Dixon turn up in a vicious rival group. The tease didn't amount to much-- a new villain named Negan who's kind of like TV Shane taken to the nth degree. Kirkman's also sworn to never use Daryl in the comics, but we'll see how long that oath lasts when the sales dip. This volume dealt with learning the vulnerabilities in Negan's group, and becoming better acquainted with the nutbar himself. This is done through a difficult to swallow contrivance, at a time when more and more ridiculously fantastic Mad Max elements are being introduced. The book has broken away from any semblance of reality, and gotten campy to the point where its increasingly limited appeal is skewing toward schadenfreude. "All Out War" is supposed to be the next big thing, and it had better be damned good, because otherwise it'll be really hard to rationalize continued purchase of a book doing donuts for half a decade.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #175

All Crime Comics #1
Avengers: The Enemy Within #1
The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1
The Movement #1 (2013, $2.99)
Über #0
X #1 (2013)

It's been a long time, I know. Been very busy for an extended period of time and let the floppies pile up (or let planned reviews pile up on the stuff I did read.) Well, let's suck it up and dive back in, eh?

All Crime Comics #1 (The Art of Fiction, 2012, $3.95)
I bought this for the sweet Bruce Timm cover and the promise of an extended quality story at the price of a standard Marvel comic. It's squarebound with heavy stock (but appropriately flat finished) interior paper. When you lead off a review discussing printing specs, the story probably doesn't get to where you wanted it to. The first third is drawn by Ed Laroche in the style of a modest Vertigo noir release, and the hoodlum's initial scheming plays out similarly. The middle section is a flashback to 1966 drawn by Marc Sandroni in a period style complete with color dots and "yellowed" pages. It ran a bit long and conventional for my taste, really telegraphing the final act return to the present and Laroche, who does not have the storytelling chops to be placed in direct competition with Sandroni. You get more than your money's worth from the package, but at the same time, there's nothing here to inspire a return trip, either.

Avengers: The Enemy Within #1 (Marvel, 2013, $2.99)
I don't read a lot of Marvel comics anymore, so I'm not sure how prevalent self-covering is, but man the practice makes a book look cheap and dull. It's like a Kip's Big Boy giveaway comic from the early '80s. Say, remember what I just said about All Crime Comics? I assume this book was meant to hook myself and Avengers readers into the cult favorite work of Kelly Sue DeConnick on Captain Marvel, but this book grated on my nerves. The plot was extra-super lame and involved supporting characters introduced to poorly for me to be concerned about their fates, not that they're ever seemingly imperiled. I don't recall Spider-Woman being a Spider-Man clone in personality, and all the stabs at humor or girl power are totally flat. About the only thing I halfway appreciated was the art of Scott Hepburn, though again, it's not truly ready for prime time, so I'd be more willing to cheer it on if this were a small press novelty instead of the set-up for a big two event crossover.

The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1 (DC, 2013, $2.99)
Even when I was a child myself, I wasn't really into kinder-centric comics when I could get my hands on teen titles, being a precocious little runt and all. I never warmed to Art Baltazar & Franco's Tiny Titans or Superman Family Adventures as a result of that inclination, so I didn't expect much from those titles' writers on an oddball New 52 title. Color me surpised that their debut issue was actually quite good; meaty in that way rarely seen these days, by guys who've obviously been hungry to cook up heavier stuff for years. At the same time, they're seasoned veterans at setting up characters in the span of a few panels in gag strips, so of course they could render even filthy rich dilettantes as complex, intriguing figures when given twenty pages. Full advantage is taken through dense caption boxes and fat ass word balloons that flow smoothly with relatively natural dialogue. I was familiar with the artist Ig Guara through his flashy Wildstorm-style art on Stormwatch, but here he wisely dials it back with a looser, lighter look entirely appropriate for the subject matter; an impressive display of versatility. With everything going against it, the creative team managed the minor miracle of crafting trade-wait worthy material out of a Bronze Age premise typically mined only for ridicule. The only thing ridiculous here is Amanda Conner's cover, which plays into every negative assumption readers might have coming into this book. It's a misleading misfire, but the only one to be found in this enjoyable debut.

The Movement #1 (DC, 2013, $2.99)
So DC set up this (politically outdated) stunt with the release of two new titles in the same month, one to represent the 99% of average people, and one for the 1% of super-rich who control more than a third of all wealth. This one was by a name writer (Gail Simone) with a commercially known artist (Freddie Williams II) featuring the kewl rebel kids, and the other one was by kiddie book creators whose title was in a cancellation dead pool before the first issue was even solicited. Surprisingly, this one was much less good. The characters are far less sympathetic-- obnoxious caricatures of Anonymous that play as a seriously off-brand X-Men at best but really more like cheesier unhip wannabes of yore like the Wolfpack/Fallen Angels/Psi-Force. Between the rigged rhetoric and the lame chartacter intros lies a threadbare plot and an insubstantial read. Williams' art isn't the annoying cornball chiarascuro of Captain Atom, but he's still drawing grim n' gritty posed action figures instead of human beings. More than anything, this debut reminds me of Grant Morrison's parody of Rob Liefeld Doom Force rather than the many crappy but sincere New Mutants knock-offs, and this is easily the worst thing I've ever read from Simone. The only movement I felt was in my bowels.

Uber #0 (Avatar, 2013, $3.99)
I must confess that I read this a while back, and my memory has already gone a bit hazy. I seem to recall thinking the parts involving war atrocities and regular folks dealing with being caught up in the brutal closing days of World War II was good stuff. The parts where the Nazis develop super-villains and unleash them were maybe not so good, while still not as offensively bad as it would be if this were a Mark Millar joint. At 44 pages of story on hardy, gloss stock, I can't imagine why you wouldn't buy this instead of corporate garbage. Kieron Gillen's script is sound, though I care fuck all about the characters, placing a trade purchase on the bubble. The art by Caanan White and the overall production quality will help, though Avatar's likely inflated price won't, so it's all up to this being released on a non-competitive month, given that it's basically All-Star Squadron for sickos.

X #1 (Dark Horse, 2013, $2.99)
Speaking as a guy who collected the entire Comics Greatest World weekly mini-series two decades ago and still held enough residual fondness for urban political vigilante X to pick up X Omnibus Volume 1 five years back, I can say with some informed opinion that this is easily the worst take on the character I've ever had the misfortune to suffer through. X is a perfect vehicle to indulge in populist bloodlust against the polarizing political corruption and idiotic demagoguery of our times, and one would expect that contemporary leniency would allow the most controversial possibilities with the edgy character yet. Instead, Duane Swierczynski scripts an utterly banal '90s action tale that shifts focus to a pathetically threadbare update of the intrepid girl journalist trope as unpaid, paranoid blogger. Rather than going more extreme and gratuitous on a character built for gore and askew commentary, X is presented as an utterly generic, compromised pseudo-protagonist battling ill-defined naughty people. The art of Eric Nguyen is horrid, recalling greats like Dave Johnson and Kyle Baker along with more arguably valuable types like John Paul Leon and Tommy Lee Edwards without a fraction of their abilities, as though their influence were a looped backing track for some sorry ass flowless crap rap tune. a blogger journalist

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Frank Review of Film/TV/Performance/Arts

[REC] (2007)
[REC] 2 (2009)
28 Days Later... (2002)
28 Weeks Later... (2007)
42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (2005) & Vol.2 (2006)
50/50 (2011)
200 Cigarettes (1999)

A History of Violence
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Across the Universe (2007)
Aeon Flux (2005)
The Amateurs (2007)
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
American History X (1998)
American Reunion (2012)
Amores Perros ("Love's a Bitch," 2000)
The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
Ator: The Fighting Eagle (1982)
Ator l'invincibile (1982)
Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience (2009)
Avengers Assemble (2012)

BaadAssss Cinema (2002)
Le Battement D'ailes du Papillon (2001)
The Beast Within (1982)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (*The Side Effects of Being American)
Blood Mania (1970)
Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)
Blue Manhatten (1969)
Boy Eats Girl (2005)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
The Brother From Another Planet
The Brothers Bloom (2009)
Brüno (2009)
Burn After Reading (2008)

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
The Candy Snatchers (1973)
Captain America: The First Avenger 3D (2011)
Casino Royale (2006)
Che: Part One & Part Two (2008)
Children of the Living Dead (2001)
Choke (2008)
Chronicle (2012)
Coraline (2009)
The Crazies (2010)
Cruel Intentions 3 (2004)

D.C. Cab (1983)
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Dark Corners (2006)
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Dawn of the Dead: European Version (1978)
Day of the Dead: The Need To Feed (2008)
Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005)
Day of the Woman (1978)
Dead and Gone (2008)
Deadgirl (2008)
Death Wish (1974)
The Devil's Hand (1961)
Diarios de Motocicleta (2004)
George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead (2007)
The Dictator (2012)
Die Hard 4.0 (2007)
District 9 (2009)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Dredd 3D (2012)

Emmanuelle (1974)
Evil Dead Trap
Exit to Eden (1994)
Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Farinelli: Il Castrato (1994)
Fatal Beauty (1987)
Fidel (2000)
Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw (2006)
Food, Inc. (2009)
The Fountain (2006)
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Fright Night (2011)
Funny Games (1997)
The Fury

Gakuen Mokushiroku (2010)
The Gathering (2002/2007)
Ghost Rider
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
The Green Hornet (2011)
Green Lantern (2011)

Hacked To Pieces: The Rise and Fall of Slasher Movies
The Hamiltons
Happenstance (Le Battement D'ailes du Papillon, 2001)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: An IMAX 3D Experience (2009)
Henry & June (1990)
Hey, Mom! (1969)
Highschool of the Dead (2010)
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
A History of Violence
The Hole (2001)
Hooker's Revenge (1974)
The Howling (1981)
Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)
The Hunger Games (2012)

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
The Ice Harvest (2005)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Invasion
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2: The IMAX Experience (2010)
Iron Man 3 (2013)

Jisatsu Saakuru (2002)
Juno (2007)

Kuffs (1992)

Låt Den Rätte Komma In (2008)
Léolo (1992)
Let the Right One In (2008)
Little Children
Live and Let Die (1973)
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Looper (2012)
Lord of the Flies (1963 & 1990)

Machete (2010)
Madmen of Mandoras (1963)
Maid in Sweden (1971)
Man of Steel (2013)
Marvel's The Avengers (2012)
Milk (2008)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Network Two-Disc Special Edition (1976)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
Night of the Comet (1984)
The Night We Never Met (1993)
Nightmare in Wax (1969)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

ParaNorman 3D (2012)
Penny Dreadful
Persepolis (2007)
Phantasm (1979)
Phantasm II (1988)
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)
Phantasm: OblIVion
Pineapple Express (2008)
Popcorn (1991)
Prometheus (2012)
Pumpkin (2002)
Punisher: War Zone (2008)

Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quills (2000)

Rambo (2008)
[REC] (2007)
[REC] 2 (2009)
Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D (2010)
Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
Resident Evil: Retribution 3D (2012)
Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)
Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)
Rise: Blood Hunter (2007)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Rocket Science (2007)
Rogue Male (1976)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Rudo y Cursi (2008)
The Ruins (2008)
The Running Man

S. Darko (2009)
The Sand Pebbles (1966)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Seraphim Falls (2007)
Sex Drive (2008)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
The Shining (1980)
The Short Films of David Lynch
Shortbus (2006)
The Singing Detective (2003)
Sinister (2012)
Skyfall (2012)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Snatch (2000)
Son of Greetings (1969)
Southland Tales
St. Ives (1976)
Stand By Me
Stanley (1972)
Star Trek (2009)
Suicide Club (2002)
Super 8 (2011)
Syriana (2005)

Teknolust (2002)
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Terrified! (1963)
Terror in the Aisles (1984)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (2000)
They Call Her One Eye (1974)
They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963)
Thor (2011)
Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974)
Trailer Trash (2007)
Tropic Thunder
True Blood (1989)

V For Vendetta (2005)
V/H/S (2012)
Videodrome (1983)

W. (2008)
Waitress (2007)
Walk The Line (2005)
Watchmen (2009)
White Zombie (1932)
The Wolfman (2010)
The Woman in Black (2012)
The Wrestler (2008)

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Zombi (1978)
Zombieland (2009)

Book vs. Movie/Movie vs. Movie
Abre Los Ojos vs. Vanilla Sky
Lord of the Flies (1954/1963/1990)
Reservoir Dogs vs. The Usual Suspects
Superman II: Richards Donner vs. Lester

Dead Like Me: Life After Death (2009)
Doctor Strange (2007)
The Girl's Guide to Depravity: Season 1 (2012)
Girls: Season One (2012)
His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (2009)
Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns
Masters of Horror: Imprint
Night Court: The Complete First Season (1984)
Night Court: The Complete Second Season (1984-1985)
Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
Superman: Doomsday (2007)
Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (2000)
V, Season 1.1: 'Pilot' and 1.2 'There Is No Normal Anymore'" (2009)
The Venture Bros. - Season One

Music Videos
Retrospective: The Videos of Suzanne Vega (2005)

Juliana Hatfield at The Engine Room (2005)
Kids in the Hall 2008 Tour
Veruca Salt at The Engine Room 10/17/05


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