Comic Review: Rocky and Bullwinkle vol. 2 by Al Kilgore, et al
Review by Prof. Jenn
Maybe the first volume was fresh and new to me and now the novelty has worn off? Maybe the stories collected in the first volume were actually better overall than the second? Maybe it’s a matter of quantity getting in the way of quality as far as an enjoyment palette? In any case, volume 2 of the Rocky and Bullwinkle comics didn’t delight as much as the first collection. Again, I can’t blame it on the makers, I’m thinking it’s a matter of overdose.
Don’t get me wrong: I love these guys, and I love the authentic style of both the writing and the art. It’s like watching a bunch of episodes. Maybe that’s it–maybe seeing this many episodes in a row is too much.
Bottom line: This collection is honestly just great. If you have kids who are getting into the franchise, if you’re a fan (or especially collector) yourself, this is a great collection to have. Either collection is a good collection for a coffee table or a bookshelf anyway, if I’m perfectly honest.
“Aw, shoot. I got my hat and forgot my gat…” (image via )
Being fanatic about real-life gangsters is a touchy subject. Following the lives of say, Al Capone, Griselda Blanco or Carlo Gambino is an interesting read, for sure. Until your stomach starts to twist a bit. Luckily, there’s been a whole host of fictional mobsters to captivate our imaginations and deep-seated need to be bad to the bone. These are personal favorites and there’s a noticeable lack of anyone named Corleone or Soprano listed on here (though, to be fair, I considered Tom Hagan and Sylvio Dante)…
(Image via Wikipedia)
Mega-sized supervillain Wilson Fisk, otherwise known as the Kingpin, is a badass among badasses within the Marvel universe. Stan Lee’s creation came to life in 1967 and has since gone up against Spiderman, Daredevil and the Punisher, among others. The Kingpin doesn’t possess superhuman powers. It’s simply his brute strength and tactical mind that contribute to his masterful Machiavellian scheming. Even as an enemy to the reigning Maggia and terrorist group HYDRA, the crushing fists of the Kingpin are nothing to scoff at. His ‘look’ has been reappropriated by Hollywood at large: we now expect all gangsters to be fat, bald and toting a cigar.
(Image via MovieCrazed)
Martin Scorsese clearly loves gangster culture more than I ever will. He’s crafted a life out of shining light on the decadent underworld of every era. In Mean Streets, a fresh-faced Robert Deniro plays Johnny Boy, a reckless, goofy hothead with a rather visceral swagger for a small-time thug. He practically charms his way off the screen as the strutting, obnoxious sidekick to Harvey Keitel’s straight man. At the risk of sounding superficial, my favorite thing about the character is the way he looks. Between the jaunty hats, plaid suit coats, scruffy locks and one of the biggest guilty grins to grace the silver screen, I’d be in love…if I didn’t want to punch him in the face.
(Image via EmpireOnline)
Motor-mouthed, limping Kevin Spacey wins for simply being renowned as a semi-fictional gangster, inside a work of fiction. In 1997’s The Usual Suspects, tales swirl about international heavy, Keyser Soze, throughout the course of the unfolding plot. It’s hard for me to think back to fifteen years ago, when I didn’t know the ending to this movie, but I’m pretty sure it caught me off guard. Surprise plot twists aside, Keyser Soze is the kind of omnipotent, grudge-holding villain that makes for cinema gold. He shows true gangsters are all about the long game. Though, if he weren’t simply a small-time crook, this paragraph would definitely be about Benicio del Toro’s character instead.
Jabba the Hutt
(Image via Wikipedia)
Jabba the Hutt is totally gangster. Star Wars’ space-slug hoodlum is ‘our kind of scum’. Plus, his hard-partying palace is my kind of joint. I read somewhere that it took six separate operators to portray the worm-like warlord at any given time. Rumored to have been based on Orson Welles in his obese later years, this intergalactic thug is surrounded by packs of interesting groupies, followers and slaves. Salacious Crumb is no Paulie Walnuts, but hey, you take ‘em where you can.
(Image via HowsYourRobot)
The soft-spoken Los Pollos Hermanos kingpin put a new spin on gangster gravitas. Gustavo Fring ran a tight ship. Very few actors can walk the line between polite and threatening – Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito drew that line and silently tap-danced on it. His calm demeanor was enchanting and his cool, aloof manner most unnerving. Though he dies at the hands of protagonist Walter White, his character was the true professional of the whole bunch, displaying zero ego and maintaining perfect posture.
Lydia Mondy is a freelance writer with absolutely zero ‘gangster’ qualities. Unless you count her penchant for pinstripes and bourbon. You can find her blogging about everything from her Jem obsession to the big business behind all things ‘geeky
Beware: There be spoilers ahead.
I am a big fan of Loki, and not just the superb version in Marvel’s cinematic universe, but also the original. The one in the Poetic Edda, who is the Norse God of Fire and Mischief. Who is known as Loki Silvertongue and The Trickster. So I decided to pick up Marvel’s newest Loki story, Loki: Agent of Asgard. I went in, having read a preview of the series, with some pretty high expectations. I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
The issue begins with Loki stabbing Thor in the back as he says, “Trust me,” to the reader. It’s such a classic Loki/Thor moment that the reader assumes Loki has a nefarious purpose. It turns out he had a purpose but it wasn’t really nefarious, just self-serving. As a somewhat newly-minted teenager, Loki is attempting to purge all the evil he committed and replace it with acts of good. Of course being Loki, he goes about it in his own special way. Including singing a Loki-ed version of The Wizard and I from Wicked, that I think shows some real promise, running up the side of Avengers tower in stolen Seven League boots and a coat made from shadow thread, and hacking the internet to delete all traces of his old self.
But the moment that really stood out for me was when the reader realizes something is wrong with Thor. He can apparently sniff Loki out and, after Loki causes a Hulk-Sized(literally)distraction to reach the Avengers database, Thor attempts to attack his brother with Mjolnir but he can’t lift it. She has deemed him unworthy because he meant kill Loki. This scene brings us back around to the beginning where Loki stabs Thor in the back. Turns out Thor had been possessed by a dark force and the sword Loki stabbed him with caused him to see the truth of his possession and force the darkness out.
We are treated to a glimpse of the All-Mother, three goddess, who make up a powerful triumvirate and are the ones who sent Loki on the mission to help Thor. The last frame features the All-Mother releasing the darkness from it’s magical prison, and from the smoke comes the Loki of old with his green spandex and gold horns and evil grin. And he wishes to talk about the future.
This comic made me laugh out loud, it made me cringe and it made me sing. All in all it was a great first issue and it gives me hope that Loki can become a mainstream COMIC character again, and not just be known for being played by the delicious Tom Hiddleston.
They always told me never judge a book by its cover. As usual I didn’t listen, because this new issue of The Superior Spider-Man’s cover was comic book love at first sight. Anytime Marvel and it’s creative powers find a way to bring Spider-Man 2099 into a story line I’m in. On this cover, he sits perched high an above a futuristic city with the modern Superior Spider-Man below, crouching upside down and imbued in shadows. A showdown between the Otto Octavius Spider-Man and the cult classic Spider-Man 2099 is just what we need in these strange times of our former friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Part one’s story does the cover justice.
The book opens with us in Nueva York, 2099. Spider-Man is taking on a tear in the timestream, allowing us a reason for how these two Spider-Man’s will meet. Dan Slott tips the hat to former Marvel storylines that have occurred during our “Heroic Age” in which our “incursions into the fabric of space-time” have broken all of time. It’s up to the future Spider-Man to stop an event from happening in 2013 that will end in the eradication of his own existence. The stakes are set.
The rest of the book brings us up to speed on both politics of Peter’s boss Max Modell and how this may plants seeds for the problems in 2099’s world as well. There are also more glimpses of the plans of the Green Goblin and his team in The Goblin Underworld.
We get a fun character scene where Otto revels in his newly donned abilities from the body of Peter Parker by showboating in a friendly charity softball game amongst athletically challenged co-workers. He may not be a super villain anymore, but he’s still a jerk.
I can’t say enough about how awesome Ryan Stegman’s art continues to be. The splash page of Spider-Man 2099’s entrance shows right away how badass he’ll look in this storyline.
Slott continues to wind us through this controversial time of Spidey’s continuity. Again, it’s hard to know how long Octavius will be Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but until it comes to a head, it’s sure to remain interesting. After all, we are set up for a battle between Otto’s Spider-Man and the future’s Spider-Man…
8 out of 10
Time for my weekly cross-post with Nerdbastards.com! Today I have to start this article on a somewhat depressing note (at least for me). Today, via MTV Geek, I found out that Justi Bieber’s comic has sold out and the graphic novel will be coming out in March. Now, I am aware of the fact that these Fame comic books have been wildly successful and this alone might not have depressed me if I hadn’t seen the news release on CBR this morning informing me that the top-selling comic book title from November failed sell at least 100,000 copies. Should I be happy that at least comic books are selling? Even if they are about Justin Bieber and not Batman? I just don’t know.
In happier news, CBR gave us an exclusive first interview with Robert Kirkman about his newly announced upcoming series with Jason Howard entitled, Super Dinosaur. The first issue is due out in April 2011 in addition to an origin story on Free Comic Book day in May 2011. Super Dinosaur will be an all-ages title that tells the story of a young boy, Derek Dynamo, and his best friend, “a genetically altered Tyrannosaurus Rex that comes from a hidden world called Inner-Earth that exists beneath our planet’s surface.” Kirkman has given us a lot of reasons to expect great things from him, particularly since he is the man that gave us both The Walking Dead & Invincible. I am not a dinosaur fangirl personally but I have tons of friends who are and I do think this story sounds awesome. Additionally, as I’ve made clear in comic reviews I have written for Geeky Pleasures, I am always excited for more comics that appeal to younger children (Justin Bieber book aside).
Back to depressing news, Diamond Distributors announced today that they will be closing their Los Angeles Warehouse in March. They are consolidating a lot of their branches into the massive Olive Branch center in Mississippi and, a tiny bit of good news, they will be taking some of the Los Angeles employees with them (and hopefully helping others move to the location in Mississippi). It really sucks that this announcement has to come at the end of the year and our thoughts and well wishes are definitely being sent to all of the employees that will be affected by this closure/move.
Let us end this news segment on a cool/happy note! Bleeding Cool announced today that Valerie D’Orazio will be writing the MTV Geek Blog. D’Orazio made a huge splash in the comic book back in 2006 when she published her memoir, “Goodbye to Comics,” about her experience with sexism in the DC comic book publishing world. Unfortunately the blog post is nowhere to be found online right now (it’s possible I’m just slowly losing it but if you have a link, please share) but I did find a nice homage to D’Orazio’s post (from 2007) at Women Read Comics. This news though makes me super excited for MTV Geek and for D’Orazio. This might not seem like the most exciting comic book news to most but, speaking as a female comic book fanatic, I think we need more women like Valerie D’Orazio talking about their experiences with sexism in all male-dominated fields. It is why I am so excited by the shear number of geek and nerdy girl blogs out there that embrace and celebrate female unity in nerddom/geekdom. Women do love gaming and comics as much as men and we deserve to be treated with the same level of respect in these fields as men. The only way to make that happen is for both women and men to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and move towards making a more unified geek world where it’s about what you love, not what gender/sex/race/whathaveyou you are.
Okay, stepping off soapbox……now
Your weekly comic update is coming to you a day late due to the holidays. Not only does Comixology not ship out their books until tomorrow, but my own schedule is a little crazy this week in terms of catching up from vacation so, unfortunately, you’re getting this late. Additionally, this was a light week for me, so this post will probably be a bit shorter than usual. I know, I’m full of let-downs today. I promise more excitement next week!
First off, however, comic book news! It was announced earlier this week that Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons (a personal idol of mine) will be teaming up for a new series in 2011. Millar wouldn’t share any information about the new title, however, saying that it would all be revealed at his recently announced UK Comic Con, Kapow!, in April 2011.
Another exciting little news bit was the release of the second My Chemical Romance video featuring Grant Morrison as a comic book-esque villain named Korse. I am not a huge MCR fan but I am a big fan of Grant Morrison’s work so these videos have been fun for me. Regardless of whether or not I like the music, I generally like endeavors that attempt to do something different with the music video format.
Finally, Dark Horse released images of the Ryan Sook cover for BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods #1, which included teasers of a new member for the team. The issue is due to come out in January 2011, but CBR is set to have an interview with writer John Arcudi which will hopefully shed some light on this new character.
Now for the weekly releases!
Nerds in Babeland have recently teamed up with nerdbastards in our quest to promote comic book/graphic novel reading of all ways/shapes/forms/whathaveyou. I’ll be writing a weekly list of the top monthlies/graphic novels of the week every Wednesday and then sharing a small portion of that here (with a link, of course, to lead you back THERE). Special thanks to Curate.Us for the ability to show a lil image of the page on this site that will ultimately lead you to THAT site (complicated terminology here).
This week brought some big news from both Marvel & DC. First off, DC announced that JMS (J. Michael Straczynski) will be ending his run on “Superman” and “Wonder Woman” halfway through his current arcs on both series. This brought a lot of complaints from fans, in particular a lot of comments on JMS’s apparent stand on graphic novels versus monthlies. CBR posted an interview with Straczynski shortly after the announcement where he tries to explain where he is coming from. What upsets me personally about this whole thing is that this was suppose to be the “reboot” of sorts for Wonder Woman, a DC character that seems to keep getting the short end of the stick. You can find an excellent write-up about her situation (and a possible) solution at DC Women Kicking Ass here.
On the other side of the aisle (so to speak) we have the announcement from Marvel that there would be no more “Thor: The Mighty Avenger.” Kind of depressing given there is that major hopeful-blockbuster movie coming out soon that I imagine could have helped the comic series but, whatever. Not a whole lot has been said yet but Joe Quesada did tweet (yes, I’m quoting a tweet): “Sorry about the TMA cancellation folks. For the record, I don’t make those decisions. That said, it’s a great and maybe back again someday.” Well then. It was a great book and will be severely missed after issue #8 is released in January. (Check out the rest by clicking below)
I’m going to preface this with an acknowledgment that these issues are old-ish. Unfortunately, as much as I love comics, I can’t afford individual issues of all the books I enjoy. Therefore I wait until they come out in graphic novel form and, unless it is a must-have like Gotham Central, I typically wait until they come out in paperback. Nothing at all against the books, just a necessity given my economic status :).
So, the plan for these reviews (on Nerds in Babeland), is that I intend to go to Meltdown Comics weekly and get suggestions from the awesome people that work there as to what I should be reading/reviewing. I have loved comics since middle school but I took a break in the middle (around high school/early undergrad) and therefore missed a lot and have been trying to catch up since. Chris (from the Meltcast podcast) has agreed to give me suggestions, because they are awesome like that. They did not ask me to do this promotion at all, just throwing it out there because I love love love comics and graphic novels and I think more people should support comic book shops. This happens to be the one I go to the most but there are other awesome ones in LA. Also, if you have suggestions for books I should read, PLEASE mention them in the comments section! So, yea. Onto the review…
That being said, my first graphic novel review for Nerds in Babeland had to be an X-title. They might not be the same quality as books written by Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, etc, but they were my first comic series. I have a loyalty to the X-Men and, as a result of my childhood, I always viewed myself as a “Marvel Girl.” Of course, things have since changed and there are quite a few DC/Vertigo books that are the top of my list in terms of favorite books. Still, my first review had to be an X-book.
Tons of great writers have done X-titles lately, including Ed Brubaker, Joss Whedon, and even Grant Morrison not that long ago. I had never read anything by Matt Fraction and I feel as though the Whedon/Morrison books have been reviewed plenty so I chose to go with Lovelorn upon recommendation from Chris (collecting Uncanny X-Men #504-507). Before anyone decides to pick up this book, I think it would definitely benefit you to read the Uncanny X-Men Manifest Destiny graphic novel to understand what has happened before the events in this book.
My own brief attempt at summarizing: Basically, during the events of the last major crossover, “House of M,” the Scarlett Witch caused about 3/4 of the mutant population in the world to lose their powers, thus making mutants an endangered species. For awhile no new mutants were being born, until the events of “The Messiah Complex” (which is the series that Brubaker and Mike Carey wrote). A new mutant was born but with that came the destruction/death of an entire town in Alaska thus, once again, making mutants hated (shock!). Shortly thereafter, the X-Mansion was destroyed…again. Instead of re-building it…again…Cyclops decides to move the X-Men elsewhere and they ultimately end up in San Francisco where the mayor welcomes them with open arms.
Yes, slightly complicated to follow but that’s basically what you need to know. Oh, and Kitty Pryde died during Joss Whedon’s run of Astonishing X-Men because, well, that’s just what Joss Whedon does. So, Lovelorn picks up after the X-Men have been living in San Francisco for a bit. Hate crimes have become prevalent across the US, even in San Francisco, thus further emphasizing the obvious metaphor for gay rights. Lovelorn basically focuses on two characters: Emma Frost/White Queen (who, if you didn’t know, is now a good guy and dating Cyclops) and Colossus. Both of them are dealing with serious love issues. Colossus is devastated with the loss of Kitty and Emma is trying to reconcile her past as a villainous with her present life with Cyclops.
I won’t get too much into plot, not because it will really spoil stuff but mostly b/c this is a super short book. However, while there are flaws with the story lines, I do really enjoy the new metaphor/direction that Marvel is taking the X-Men. Not that Civil Rights racial issues have been completely solved, but it is time for the X-Men to symbolize another social outcast group and I think this direction will be interesting to follow. As for Fraction’s writing, I really enjoy his sense of humor. There are some excellent one-liners throughout the book. My main problem is that, with the great one-liners, there are also some unnecessarily over dramatic moments. Moments where the characters state something that just seems unnecessary and kind of overdoing it. I did enjoy his tactic of inter-cutting scenes involving Colossus’ revenge storyline with a similar battle-focused storyline involving the Beast & Angel, but at times it made it a little difficult to follow what was going on in either story. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his writing enough that I would definitely want to read more of his stuff.
As for the art, I am a fan of Terry Dodson. I love the way he draws the characters’ features in a way that is both simple and yet has enough detail to depict exactly how that character is feeling. Plus, even though he may emphasize boobs a bit too much on the ladies, I think his women are gorgeous. One of my favorite recent covers for the Uncanny X-Men is the cover with all the female X-Women (shown to the side). It might not be from this specific collection of comics but I had to share it. Love that Phoenix is in a frame behind them all.
So, yea, if you aren’t an X-Men fan then I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book (go pick up the Dark Phoenix Saga in TPB…seriously, it’s amazing). However, if you are a former X-Men fan and feel like just picking up a simple, small book to check out, I recommend either this book or the Manifest Destiny graphic novel before this book. They’re both relatively inexpensive (Lovelorn was only $16) and both have excellent art/writing.