Tag: Review

Damages – You Want To End This Once And For All?

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You know I really do and it pains me to say it but I really do just want this all to be over with; whereas the week’s other beginning of an end, Breaking Bad has me ready to hold on for all I have. Damages premiered at the perfect time for me: I was just old enough to be able to appreciate its complex and stylized strain of drama and new enough to be excited by it. In fact I also think that it’s fair to say that it was new enough to be exciting; at the time there weren’t show like Breaking Bad out there, nor was the high-class casting a blasé expectation. I loved that first season and in my memory it is still one of my all time favorites, lately though the show has instead become one of my biggest struggles.
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Dancer #3

The first issue of Nathan Edmonson’s Dancer blew me away by taking the writers technical approach to action, applying it to a gritty genre style story and then twisting at the last minute deep into the realm of science fiction with the revelation of clones. The second continued the streak of surprises by simply explaining these sci-fi elements away as if they were commonplace occurrence; a similarly daring if somewhat less satisfying surprise. This third outing though takes the best parts of both prior issues and stretches them across the breadth of the entire book: it’s essentially a series of Edmonson’s trademark thought-out action sequences, complete with state of the art tech and tactics, strung together with the through-line of taking on oneself and the impossibility inherent in that action. There was so much promise and potential in that pilot issue and here we really start to see Edmonson deliver on it and even with the highest of expectations it is impossible to be disappointed by what we get.
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Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2

Darwyn Cooke set this series of prequels off with a stunning book. While I only ended up liking it second best of the bunch i stand by what I said back in my review; that it was the perfect premiere issue in terms of style, content and quality. Not only was it a very good read but the issue also spent its time introducing to us (again, to most of us) the cast of characters who would go on to headline their own comics in later weeks. So it is that he was somewhat set-up to fail with this first of the second issues; for not only were expectations now high but the tricks tried there would not work a second time.

See A second issue brings with it new challenges: now we need the book to both stand on its own and step-out from the crowd, something easier said than done with what is essentially a ensemble piece. For seventeen pages I would say Cooke fails to meet these objectives, this issue feeling like an extension of the first, like more origin to already established characters and you almost lose interest but then he succeeds with the next few so well that not only do you forget all about Watchmen but you’ll barely remember reality or that you are reading at all.

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Punk Rock Jesus #1

Yeah, you read that title right and yes, it is an entirely literal one; this is a book about Jesus joining a punk rock band. Though before you get your pitchforks and placards out I suggest actually skimming through this introductory issue because the book’s auteur Sean Murphy isn’t making fun with his fiction; he’s not evoking the Lords name for the novelty but the strong meaning. Punk is puerile, it’s disrespectful by nature and this book is neither of those. Jesus is forgiving, he is infinite wisdom incarnate and although the book doesn’t quite reach those heights of omniscience Sean does at least strive for the limit placed on humankind in his approach to the issues of Religion, faith and their place in our modern world. In spirit then this book is actually much closer to Christ than it is that cock-driven rebellion rock.
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Edison Rex #1

Firstly i have to say that this book has a rather amazing name, or rather its protagonist does. Edison Rex is a title that sums up the character quite perfectly: he is one part inventor and one part dark tragedy (or prehistoric destruction, both work) Edison seems a true evil genius. The thing is though, the more time that we spend with him the more that first half of trope seems to fall off; he’s a genius sure, but evil? That is kept nicely ambiguous while it is Edison’s extreme intelligence that sets the story of this book in motion, one that asks and answers a question we all should have pondered by now: If Lex is indeed the smartest man in the world then why is he so often wrong? Superman is not known for his bravery not his book-smarts so why hasn’t Lex ever really been able to best him? But more importantly what would happen if he ever did?

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October Girl #1

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I read this comic while sitting in a cafe awaiting my order and to me that certainly seems the way that one should do it. As a comic October Girl issue one is short, strong and stark; just like a good cup of coffee should be. Similarly it is something of a mature beverage, for adults only but not in the sexy way and you see this straight away. The first page sets a serious tone with its structure; large slabs of text sit on the page next to some small square illustrations, the entire thing devoid of color. From there It tells the story of a disillusioned teen dealing with the drabness of real life; already dying, being slowly murdered by the mundanity of it all. It’s beautifully made but boy is it bleak, but then comes the final page of this first chapter, one that offers the exact opposite of its first: one big panel that all but bursts with color, the comic taking a daring turn into the drama of the imagination.

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Batman: Earth One

“It Could have been different. It Should have been!”

And for twenty five years it was. Ever since Frank Miller’s seminal origin story Batman: Year One was released readers have assumed that they knew the true story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman and for twenty five years no one has dared dispute that fact, but with Batman: Earth One Geoff Johns and Gary Frank do just that. They tell their version of the origin, a version that will sit in my mind as equal to Miller’s; even though this wasn’t entirely their intention. See, the trick of this book is right there in the title, it’s not set in continuity (which would be Earth 616 for those with social lives) which means that for both better and worse this is a drastically different Dark Knight than those you’ve seen elsewhere.

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Before Watchmen: Ozymandias

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Watchmen was a revolutionary text, it brought respect to a medium that was then – and is still – seen as a novelty; you know, for kids. Not only was the content of this book more adult than most others out there it was made for mature reading: it had themes and metaphors and meanings. It was in a word, novelistic. So much so that TIME magazine ranked it amongst the top one hundred novels of all time – the only illustrated work to feature – and the term ‘Graphic Novel’ was spawned. So far the first issues of Before Watchmen have replicated many of the original book’s characters and concepts, some better than others, but Ozymandias is the only one to feels as classy as that now canonical text, it is the first to feel truly ‘novelistic’.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

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If you were to use the words ‘comic’, ‘hero’, ‘dark’, ‘city’ and ‘tragedy’ to describe a character the answer you get would be Batman and for good reason, but I posit the theory that those terms are as apt to Spidey as they are Bruce Wayne and this picture all but proves it. There is a scene part way through in which Spiderman sits perched in shadow atop a New York skyscraper, he looks over the ridged brow of the granite gargoyle before him and out at the midnight lights of the city, his city. His body is still but beneath the suit and skin his heart is surely beating against his chest; a heart now driven by death and despair.

If his suit weren’t quite so gaudy you could have spliced the scene into a Batman movie without anyone noticing the difference. Don’t you ‘darker’ haters despair though, because for every scene like this there is another that wouldn’t have felt out of place in 500 Days of Summer or an animated kids cartoon and although this should make for a tonal disaster of a movie, amazingly this Spiderman pulls the double act off with aplomb: hybridizing the heart, humor and horror that the character has come to be known for over the past fifty years. This Spidey’s not so afraid to take of his mask, to mix work and pleasure and that makes the movie so much more of the latter.

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Ted

“I told you I don’t sound that much like Peter Griffin!” the titular bear declares during one of the films many drunken montages, an obvious nod to the fact that it is the same man dubbing both with his very distinctive tones; Mr. Seth McFarlane. It’s a throwaway line but also i feel, a fitting one and would have been regardless of the specific reference; “I don’t look anything like Brian,” would certainly still have sufficed. The point that McFarlane is trying to make with this moment – albeit the secondary point, the punchline takes priority – is nothing to do with his literal range of voices (a self-admitted weakness) but much more to do with his figurative one. People will come to Ted expecting to see a feature length Family Guy movie but in actual fact it is so much more than that and this is the admirable but ever apparent flaw in the film.

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