Devil

July 30, 2012

This reads very much like one of those “movie pitches in comics form” that you hear so much about.  Considering that it’s credited to “Torajiro Kishi and Dynamo Pictures,” it feels more apt than usual in this case.  The high concept is spelled out on the cover as “A vampire virus rages through Japan!” and turns a certain percentage of its victims into crazed bloodsuckers with special powers that need to be put down.  Takimoto is one such cop who tackles it with a world-weary professionalism and cynicism, so naturally he finds himself matched up with Migiwa who has had no experience in the field and sees the infectees as victims of a virus who are still entitled to human rights.  Any pretense of moral ambiguity is quickly tossed out the window as Migiwa finds out in short order that the only good bloodsucker is a dead bloodsucker.  Particularly the one named Nishioka -- a former lab tech who was turned by Mariko, the purest specimen produced by the strain and one who sees herself as the next stage of evolution for life on this planet.

Kishi’s best-known work prior to this was the two-volume lesbian hentai manga “Maka-Maka.”  Here, he displays a real talent for creating dynamic action scenes, delivering a fast-paced narrative, and keeping the implausibilities to a relative minimum.  This is all good because there’s not a hint of originality to his narrative.  It’s yet another example of style-over-substance and while this collection makes me think that it could certainly work as a movie, whether or not it would be any good would depend on who they got to direct it as opposed to honoring the “vision” of the source material.  Said “vision” is a slick, well-made, predictable and soulless piece of action entertainment that would likely result in the kind of live-action Japanese movie that I’d check out at a convention if I had nothing better to do.

Image Previews Picks: October 2012

July 29, 2012

“Cyber Force” is back!  For free even!  That’s what Image is leading off with this month with what is a genuinely novel approach to distributing the series with the help of Kickstarter.  If the campaign on the crowdfunding site reaches its goal, then you’ll be able to pick up the first five issues at your comics store FREE of charge.  They haven’t reached their goal yet, but the push has crossed the halfway mark with 20 days left so I’m pretty sure that they’ll make it.  Now, this is where I usually say something about how I hope that this works out for them, but even though “Cyber Force” was Marc Silvestri’s initial contribution to Image, I’ve never heard of it actually being any good.  I realize that it’s mean to say that they’re giving it away because people couldn’t be bothered to pay for it, yet I have no reason to expect that this will be any better than it was when the title was launched over twenty years ago.  Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and it’ll take the momentum the company has gathered this year to a whole new level -- except I can’t bring myself to say that out loud without starting to laugh.

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Marvel Previews Picks: October 2012

July 27, 2012

Instead of doing a line-wide relaunch and rebooting the continuity for (nearly) all of its titles as DC did last year, Marvel is going with a different approach.  The “Marvel NOW!” initiative has them doing a rolling relaunch where a new #1 issue for a major title and from an A-list creative team (though that’s a relatively subjective topic these days) debuts every week for the next few months.  It would appear that Marvel wants to keep the relaunch momentum going for as long as they possibly can, and on one level I have to admire their chutzpah for doing so after some of these titles were only relaunched a year or two ago.  (Relaunches for the other “Avengers” titles and “Uncanny X-Men” haven’t been announced, but rumor has it that they’re in the offing.)  I’m sure this “never ending relaunch” will be big for a while, but it appears that we’ve well and truly reached the point where a title can’t sustain itself without some kind of relaunch at some point.  Or, unless it happens to be really good -- like Mark Waid’s “Daredevil.”  Man that first volume was worth the wait!

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Comic Picks #112: Batman — Earth One

July 25, 2012

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank deliver a pretty decent start to what is effectively "Ultimate Batman."  John and I also tackle "The Dark Knight Rises" and whether or not it was a fitting end to the saga.

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Dark Horse Previews Picks: October 2012

July 25, 2012

Previously, “Ultimate Spider-Man,” “Y:  The Last Man” and “The Walking Dead” were part of the exclusive “milestone issue that is just a part of the current arc” club.  Now you can add “B.P.R.D.” to it because even though the series has been released as a “series of mini-series” since its inception, the third issue of the current run “Return of the Master” represents its 100th issue.  Kudos to them because it’s a great series that has earned its longevity.  That said, it’s not the only title in the franchise that’s being released this month...

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DC Previews Picks: October 2012

July 24, 2012

Yeah, I got nothing to contribute to this month’s picks.  There’s some good stuff, though it’s business as usual for the most part.  Commentary begins after the break.

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Batman: Arkham City/Assassin’s Creed: The Fall

July 22, 2012

It’s a well-known fact that most videogame adaptations, or tie-in comics are not worth the paper that they’re printed on.  Either they’re hamstrung by the lack of input from the people who are making the game, or they wind up being created by whoever the company producing them could get ahold of on a moment’s notice.  A lot of them may sell really well, but there haven’t been any truly memorable works that I would recommend to people outside the fanbase of the games they’re based on.  These two titles don’t break that trend, but they represent a quality of work uncommon to their origin and actual input from the people responsible for the games.

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Blackgas

July 21, 2012

Warren Ellis does zombies! ...and the results play out like a prototype for “Crossed.”  Does Garth Ennis have to pay him royalties, or buy him pints whenever they go out drinking?  Who knows.  Anyway, I bring up the “Crossed” comparison because  the “zombies” here aren’t really the living dead, but people who have had their “civilizing” mental functions stripped away after a mountain cracks open and releases the titular substance.  The end result has lovers and students Tyler and Soo fighting through an island filled with people who want to rape them, kill them and eat them -- not necessarily in that order.  For the first half of the book, it plays out like a tightly constructed B-movie that benefits greatly from the claustrophobic nature of its small-town island setting.  Ellis’ snappy dialogue and propulsive pace make the events play out like a nightmare thrill ride, and even though there’s an awkwardness to some of his characters, Max Fiumara’s art conveys the franticness of the situation well.

Then we get to the second half of the book and things promptly fall right apart.  Where the story was once a small-scale story of survival, things blow up into a national disaster and Ellis simply doesn’t have the time or inclination to adapt to this new setup.  You get the feeling that he went, “Now where can I go from here?  Oh, I know!  I’ll blow up the scale of it all!  Just have Soo do this here, and... bollocks.  That was a mistake.”  There’s a real feeling in the final chapter, that he just threw up his hands and bashed something out as best he could since the audience isn’t really left with a reason to care about what happens next.  “Blackgas” is half of a decent comic and one ultimately best suited to the bargain bin I found it in.  Another title best suited for Ellis completists.

Uncanny X-Force vol. 3: The Dark Angel Saga Book I

July 20, 2012

Why did I wait until Comic-Con to pick this up?  In spite of all the acclaim this storyline has received Amazon has yet to offer up the softcover edition for less than the hardcover.  I don’t know why that is, but I wasn’t going to go for it until that happened.  Then I spotted it (along with several other copies) while rifling through a bargain bin and here we are with the first half of a story that takes part of its name from one of the definitive “X-Men” storylines.  The hook here is that since the death of Apocalypse, Angel’s “Archangel” persona has slowly started to dominate his mind in spite of Psylocke’s best efforts.  The Shadow King’s tampering doesn’t help things either here.  Faced with the possibility of having to do in one of their own, the team turns to a specialist in all things Apocalypse, Hank “Dark Beast” McCoy, who kindly informs them that they need a “life seed” which can only be found at this time in his home dimension, “The Age of Apocalypse.”

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The Comic-Con Report (part four)

July 19, 2012

Even after a year that has included the wildly successful launches of “Fatale,” “Saga,” “Thief of Thieves” and what will likely wind up being the sales event of the decade with “The Walking Dead” #100, Image showed no signs of resting on their laurels at their panel on Saturday afternoon.  Yes, I know it sounds like I’m writing copy for an entertainment site, but the enthusiasm in the panel was infectious with all of the new titles they were announcing.  There was “Sex” and “The Bounce” from writer Joe Casey, a steampunk reinvention of “Oliver Twist” from Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson, a female-led western in Kelly DeConnick and Emma Rios’ “Pretty Deadly,” and an alien invasion tale from James Robinson and J. Bone in “The Savior.”  There was also “Satellite Sam,” a seedy murder mystery centered around a children’s TV show host in the 50’s from Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction, and “Lazarus” from Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, which was given the high-concept description of “‘The Godfather’ meets ‘Children of Men.’”  I know I’m gushing here, but all of the creators gave good pitches for their projects, related lots of fun anecdotes, and we got to see Ed Brubaker get called “The worst Vanna White ever.”  What’s not to love?

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