Category Archives: Review

CA Reviews: Batman – Return of the Caped Crusaders

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Batman – Return of the Caped Crusaders is the first DCAU film I’ve even remotely had a desire to watch in the past year or two. After the godawful Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, Killing Joke CCCCC-combo I was not looking forward to wasting another 90 minutes on DC’s weird fetish with making Batman as lame as possible on film (BvS: DoJ deserves a lot of credit for my hate here as well, but I digress). Regardless, the central conceit – that they were making this as a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the 60’s television show was enough to pull me back in. The good news is that it wasn’t a wasted trip, because this is the first Batman film in a long time that didn’t leave me feeling like I don’t even enjoy the character anymore. “Return of the Caped Crusaders” isn’t perfect, mind you, but it was good enough to warrant its existence, which is increasingly rare for me to admit in today’s Batverse.

Full disclosure: I’ve always loved the 60’s television show. Growing up in the 80’s the reruns were on television frequently so I watched pretty much the entire run as a child. As I matured and really started understanding Batman as the character portrayed in the comics of the 80’s and 90’s, I realized the 60’s show was completely ridiculous. Yet that didn’t make me dislike it one iota, it just was… I had read Gold and Silver-age Batman comics and enjoyed them. The campy, ridiculous Surrealism of it all was great fun and I never once stopped to think “Why isn’t he brooding more?”….

My chief complaint with Batman and the subculture of fans which are so heavily invested in it, is the way in which said fans obstinately proclaim Batman to be one singular thing. In most cases, it can be described as “dark”. Yes – the idea that a grown man dressed in a Bat costume punching evil clowns must be taken deadly serious. How absurd and boring. Blah. Now Batman in films, games and comics is some sort of hulking, armor-clad Militarized idiot who never deduces anything beyond the obvious and solves every problem with punching and guns.

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Yes – I know it was a goddamned dream sequence

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love “dark” Batman – IF it is told well… because here’s the thing: I just like well told stories.

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CA Reviews: Nova Phase

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Nova Phase would have instantly reminded me of an 8-bit homage to Cowboy Bebop even if it hadn’t listed Bebop in the acknowledgement section which opens the book.

That’s a compliment. Do I have any more compliments in me for this book? Let’s find out – jump in with me, will you?

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Polaris

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It is always a pleasure when unique indie projects like Polaris end up gracing my inbox. Being one of the unwashed masses (a film student/filmmaker) it goes without saying that I am a bit of a film nerd – so, when I receive a comic that lovingly mocks Tarkovsky’s Solaris (which is a film I love, btw)  in the spirited, jocular voice of Woody Allen (who is a genius man-child which I love, btw) then it’s pretty much my sacred duty to help bring attention to the project.

Click through to read my thoughts on this unique creator-owned work!

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CA Reviews: Batman Incorporated Vol.2 #8

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Rest in peace this time? Not Rot in purgatory? Let’s hope.

It’s been spoiled to high heaven already – but this is it, Morrison destroys his creation.

Click through to join in on the memorial –

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Batman is stupid…

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at least according to Scott Snyder…

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Spoilers ahead as we take a look at the epic finale of “The Death of the Family” arc with Batman #17!

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CA Reviews: Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 # 4

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My unbridled love for Grant Morrison’s Batman is very well documented by now, so if you don’t want to hear this giddy cheerleader shout out a long-winded rally for the team, then please, go read some other comic blog… all you’re going to get from here on out is an extended fangasm… because really, this issue deserves it.

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Planet Gigantic #0

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David Halvorson, the one-man-band behind the inspiring symphony that is Armstrong, alerted me to a new project he is working on, this time collaborating with a writer; one Eric Grissom.

Said collaboration has yielded Planet Gigantic. Planet Gigantic is the story of two test tube superheroes, created to be the most powerful… sample collectors in the universe.

Sample Collectors? Yes, it seems the mundane day to day of scientific research is where our heroes have grown up and learned to hone their powers. The mundane is of course, never truly mundane when you have a good writer relaying it to you, and to that end I can say that Grissom seems to be a damn good writer. The dialog in this issue is natural and pertinent – often times writers pile a lot of superfluous dialog into their books because they think it equates to character/story development, when really all it does is come off as a time-suck and, more often than not, does a disservice to the story by derailing the pacing and obscuring the plotting. Grissom though, seems adept at this writing thing, as there are no throwaways here; everything seems germane and advances character and/or plot. We seem to be in good hands.

In this inaugural #0 sneak peek issue we’re thrown right into the fray as our young heroes are introduced to us and quickly set against some insidious odds. It’s clear, concise and paced well. For instance, we’re treated to a very snappy set piece involving giant space-spiders and it all works very well, ramping up the world building, conveying character and advancing the plot all at once – it’s fun, it’s engrossing and it’s all done in a few simple, clean pages. Again, most independent writers I read would have buried the delivery of this moment in tedious exposition to legitimize why these kids are in space, why there are giants spiders and why they’re being attacked… however, Grissom smartly eschews all of that nonsense and places faith in the sophistication of the readers to orient themselves in the fiction. Thank fuck too – I really wish more writers out there held similar standards.

As on Armstrong, Halvorson’s art is just immensely enjoyable to look at – it’s a bit Darwyn Cooke, a bit Bill Watterson, but still wholly his own; Halvorson’s art is crisp, colorful, full of verve and motion is conveyed quite well. There is weight and dimension and everything just rings true. The spell is in firmly place and you’re never once brought out of the world because of some skewed look to something or someone. It’s all very cohesive and enjoyable. Halvorson’s work is already incredibly inventive and retains an inherently effortless charisma to it, so the idea of having those traits let loose and writ large across the expansive backdrop of a sci-fi space opera is quite exciting.

Overall, this is a great preview – it reveals just enough of all the ingredients a good book contains, so that you come away certain that there is a solid series waiting to be unleashed on the world here.

I can’t wait and I’ll definitely follow these guys into issue #1 and beyond. Immensely enjoyable, lighthearted, yet mature and intelligence – the world needs more creator-owned comics like this. Bravo, gentlemen – now give us the series!

Download Issue #0 FOR FREE

CA Reviews: Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #3

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Holy disappearing Bat-book! There are SPOILERS after the jump! Since most of you definitely haven’t read this issue yet, I’ll  say it again, just to make it perfectly clear:

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

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Batman #11

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Notice I’m not calling this a review? That’s because I just cannot find the energy to write a full-on, proper review. I’ve also been trying really hard to not write any negative articles for the site – but after reading the issue a few times and then seeing CBR’s absurdly vague 4 1/2 star corporate ball-licking “review” that didn’t even attempt to mention the story telling, I just couldn’t help it. I felt compelled to rant a bit.

So, please, allow me to level with you right off the bat so that you may either stop reading and/or start writing your hate mail: I think Scott Snyder has successfully completed the worst “big event” Batman story that I have ever read.

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CA Reviews: Ugli Studios Presents #1

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Ugli Studios Presents is creator-owned fantasy/horror/sci-fi anthology book. Its inaugural issue contains two different shorts, each co-written by Jason Lenox and David Paul and drawn by Mr. Lenox. For a point of reference think; The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, etc. – these are short, succinct stories that present a self-contained tale with some sort of unexpected plot twist or surprise ending. I must confess; I’ve seen every single episode of the original Twilight Zone series and I’ve even read a lot of the original scripts – so to say I enjoy this mode of storytelling would be a bit of an understatement. Unfortunately, as a reviewer this also means I have a high bar set for people to be able to compete with the likes of Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, etc. That all being the case – I’m here to support and drum up interest for independent comic creators – so I’ll be tempering my sky-high expectations as much as possible while still being a discerning commentator ;)

Onward to the meat:

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CA Reviews: Johnny Space Commander

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What do we have here? Well, we have an independently released creator-owned comic series: Johnny Space Commander, by Sean Parnell.

Mr. Parnell was kind enough to send me issues #1-4 for review purposes, so being the stand-up guy I am, I decided to do just that; read Mr. Parnell’s work and then give you delicate readers of discerning taste, my opinions on said books.

Continue on, you brave explorers of uncharted independent comic lands

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Some Quick Thoughts On Batman Inc. Vol. 2 #1

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This isn’t a proper review, rather just a quick sketch of what I thought of my most anticipated book of 2012.

I plan on doing full annotations on the whole run, so that will come soon, but for now this is all I have time for before I leave town for a week and wander around the wilderness without computers or cell phones.

Spoilers ahead!

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CA Reviews: Avengers XXX A Porn Parody

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Wow.

I came into (heh) “Avengers XXX A Porn Parody” expecting to find the ridiculous level of storytelling shoe-horned between scenes of hardcore porn that I had last witnessed in Axel Braun’s masterful, Spider-Man XXX, and what I got was… really just the hardcore porn part. As bad as the “story” was in Spider-Man XXX, at least it still kind of had a three act structure; it kind of had a plot. Yet in a bold step towards deconstructionism (?), Avengers XXX eschews the notion of plot almost entirely. The film starts out acting as if there is going to be a plot, yet what we’re ultimately left with is a confused mess of incoherent elements contradicting one another and only providing a half-assed two act structure. The film slowly peters out after the opening scenes and it seems as if the writer/director forgot he was supposed to be delivering some geeky adult fun. People randomly namedrop other Marvel characters and deliver their semi-geeky lines like pron robots in a hasty attempt to get to the sex. There’s barely any dialog referencing the comics and they don’t even provide the actors with any ridiculous puns that would be chuckle inducing to comic nerds.

Sure, it is a porno, so why in the hell am I critiquing the story so much? Well, I figure if you’re going to go this far – that is, if you’re going to get some pretty cool costumes and fill your movie with “obscure” heroes that only comic fans will recognize, then you should at least attempt to put them in a fun, tongue in cheek world where you can deliver on the promise of a ‘parody’. The only laughs came from seeing how awfully the actors delivered their lines, and from thinking about how Axel Braun probably takes himself way too seriously and considers himself as some sort of auteur… the Christopher Nolan of the porn world

Anyway – let’s get to it huh? I know you just want a blow by blow account of the action relayed to you in X-rated screen caps, so let’s do it!

NSFW madness after the jump!

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CA Reviews: Secret – One: Teeth With Which To Eat

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Secret was just what I needed.

I’ve grown oh-so-tired during these past few months with cape books and I’ve been desperately trying to expand my comic genre horizons. As a life-long DC fan the majority of the New 52 leaves me bored, dismayed and actually, more than a bit annoyed. I left Marvel in the 90’s and I’ve never really gone back (Waid’s current Daredevil is fucking great though!) it seems things have become very complicated in the interim; there are a ridiculous amount of Marvel titles out every month and it discombobulates me completely while standing in my LCS, so I’ve never been presented with a good segue back into the universe. However, Image has been my saving grace as of late. They’ve been consistent in putting out unique and well crafted books that have short and snappy runs or are limited series in one way or another.

So, about Secret? Riiiight, well…

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CA Reviews: Batman #5

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Batman #5 – Writer: Scott Snyder – Artist: Greg Capullo

I think I’ve gone mad.

Everyone else I’ve heard speaking of this issue has lobbied some extreme, hysterical hyperbole at it such as “The greatest script of Snyder’s career” or that it is one of the best Batman issues ever written. What? Maybe I read a different book, or maybe I’m just not as blown away by the rather gimmicky page flipping component of the book as others are, because, from what I read – I was thoroughly nonplussed.

SPOILERS Ahead! Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

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CA Reviews: Batman Inc. Leviathan Strikes!

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MANY SPOILERS AHEAD! TURN BACK NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK!

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Tales of Armstrong

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– Armstrong is a webcomic created, written, drawn and colored by David Halvorson –

Armstrong has really blown me away.

First of all, It is beautiful; it contains great line work and a broad palette of vibrant colors – you get the sense that Mr. Halvorson spends an inordinate amount of time lovingly crafting the panels in this comic.

Right, did I mention that this Mr. Halvorson does everything himself? Writing, drawing, coloring, all of it; a true auteur it seems. That may seem like a slightly hyperbolic compliment, and perhaps it might be if Mr. Halvorson weren’t so damned talented. It isn’t just that he’s “doing it all”, but that he’s doing it all so well.

Halvorson knows how to compose a scene; he’s adept at conveying movement, weight and subtle facial intricacies that really help add personality to the characters. He utilizes negative space well with stylistic flourish and manages to do so without it coming off as superfluous; it actually manages to help tell the story.

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CA Reviews: Batman #3

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Batman #3 - Writer: Scott Snyder - Artist: Greg Capullo

Now that we’re really starting to get settled into these initial “New 52” arcs I’m beginning to enjoy myself much more. The pressure seems to be off; the creative teams are no longer here to awkwardly re-introduce these characters to pre-existing and new fans with sky-high expectations anymore and as such, the books are feeling (at least to me) like they’re settling into their respective grooves. I’ve grown to enjoy some of the books I initially disliked because of a lackluster number one. Of course, Batman was not one of those books… its’ first issue was one of the handful of really great New 52 titles and happily, it has only improved since.

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CA Reviews: Batman: Year One (2011)

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Batman : Year One (2011) –

(Originally published on Oct 11th, 2011)

     

It is finally here, the holy grail of Batman stories relayed through DC’s, admittedly, pretty damn good animation wing. Woe is them, because adapting one of the most highly revered Batman stories of all time has to be a nerve-wracking experience. Taking something that so many know so well and trying to adapt it into a different medium is always tricky, but when you pile ravenous fanboys on top of that it tends to be a lose-lose situation. With that in mind, full disclosure:

I am one of those fanboys.

    

The Year One story is the first comic arc I ever read that shook me out of my world of comic book banality and made me feel something that great art makes you feel; inspired, excited, alive, amazed, etc. It is the first comic book I read that re-defined what a comic book could be for me. I’m not saying it was the first genuine work of art in the medium – far from it – it was simply the story that made me a comic book nerd for life. Suffice it to say, I hold the work dear and while I’ve been eagerly anticipating this animated adaptation, I’ve also been preparing myself for what I assumed was an inevitable disappointment. Well…

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CA Reviews: “Our Love Is Real”

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(again, ignore my crap iPhone photography – a signed copy!)

Our Love is Real (One Shot) –

Writer: Sam Humphries

Artist: Steven Sanders

What.

The.

Fuck.

Did I just read?

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CA Reviews: “Heart” #1

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(please excuse my bad iPhone photography, I was just stoked to score a signed copy)

Heart #1 –

Writer: Blair Butler

Artist: Kevin Mellon

This book has a few things going for it that you may think would guarantee it a good review from me: it takes place in Kansas City (my home town, born and raised) and it is written and drawn by two KC natives…

However, this book also has a rather large hurdle to overcome with me as well: my almost negative interest in MMA fighting (that’s a whole other story). As you can see, the scales begin to balance out.

This is all a game though, semantic, mental masturbation – because once I read the book I realized that none of the above  criteria mattered in the slightest, because thankfully, I possess enough integrity (read, I’m an great guy/asshole) to either praise or rip it apart based on its own merits as a piece of work created within the context of the comics medium.

To wit:

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Review Roundup July – September 2011

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Here are past reviews originally posted on the old site – all migrated here to this one convenient post.

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Died Again (The smart AND pretty girl you should be talking to at this lame internet party)

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Died Again” was just brought to my attention earlier today and I’ve already read the first twenty comics and decided to write up a quick recommendation… this means I’m pretty damned impressed.

Died Again is lovingly made by the creative duo of artist Chris Bourassa, and writer Matt Newman. Keep in mind, this is definitely a narrative webcomic, so please, do not repeat my mistake of reading comic #20 first and wondering what the hell just happened. You have to start from the beginning to get up to speed with the story so that by the time you naturally make it back to #20 you get the joke(s).

The set-up is simple yet pretty damned brilliant- the characters and story exist inside of an online RPG, self-aware and meta-contextualizing their game world and the outside player’s roles. We follow a self-proclaimed “Death Knight” on his personal journey through what amounts to his own Inferno, suffering through what is a seemingly endless string of humiliations and beatings while being degraded by rules, players, level bosses and other ‘virtual’ characters (not to mention all the bird shit that seems to land on him “accidentally”).

We’re treated to some really great writing through all of this which manages to come off as sophisticated even through its’ juvenile toilet humor. Seriously; this is a world where you may very well get squidlubed for the tentamolester to, well… you get the idea. However, don’t think that is some sort of critique, because believe me, the real trick to all of this is the surprisingly wry tongue-in-cheek gravitas that the dialog is imbued with. I’m actually convinced the writing is even more clever than I’m giving it credit for; being an MMO novice I’m sure I’m probably missing plenty of subtle (and not-so-subtle) jokes, suffice it to say there are certainly layers I’m blind to. In any event, for a simple web comic, the writing is much more intelligent than it deserves to be.

The art tying this all together is fantastic as well, Bourassa’s inks are succinct and gorgeous: sharply kinetic and stylized in an utterly unique way. Characters are oddly proportioned and designed, and the aesthetic works very well in the skewed world we find ourselves in. The story is affording Mr. Bourassa plenty of opportunities to stretch out and add in a lot of surreal, Lovecraftian flourishes (MOAR Tentamolester!).

All in all I can’t recommend this comic enough; smart, funny, subversive and beautiful to look at.

GO READ THIS SHIT NOW!

Before I go, allow me to posit the one lingering question I have: When is the world going to grow too big to be contained to a webcomic alone? How long until we see a full, Died Again mini or one shot graphic novel? Plush toys?

CA Reviews: Spider-Man XXX A Porn Parody

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Written and Directed by Axel Braun

Very NSFW and Spoiler-ridden review after the break:

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