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Posts tagged “X-Men

Lego Deadpool and friends

 

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Free Comic Book Day 2019

events57038280_10156959660912278_5719002890270408704_n59554254_10218704700919822_5730319347411320832_nDepending on where you live, what shops you have nearby, everyone does something diffrent for Free Comic Book Day. Some shops just hand you a few extra books with your purchase. Others, like the late and lamented York comics, leverage it as a charity event – giving away the gold books but throwing in extra silver books for a canned food donation. And here in Cleveland, at Carol and Johns, they throw a party.

The party is actually on Friday night, the day before FCBD, leading up to the midnight 58679409_10156989385787278_4059958543967584256_nrelease of the books. The shop is open late with sales and deals. At 10:00pm the annex opens with a pop up bar serving complementary soda and comic themed beer. People who tip get an extra free comic. Down on the other side of the strip, another room opens, housing a comic themed (this year the theme was X-Men) art show (it’s also where you go to get your free comics at midnight), where artists in attendance do free sketches and sell their wares. In recent years, other businesses in the same strip complex have gotten in on the act, with the local toy collectors club setting up in the Working Class Brewery, and the ice cream shop offering up an Infinity Gauntlet themed dish.

The lineup starts well before ten though. When I arrived around five, the line had already started. As the night went on, Two podcasts set up shop along the line. An artist set up his easel at the corner. People mingled and played board games in line. Costumes 59592378_2460804583963950_6017528075397365760_nbegan to pop up and take photos. A large Millennium Falcon interior was available for pictures, as well as the wanted poster from the X-Men story “Days of Future Past”. Stormtroopers and Jedi marched in the streets. It’s the party we wait all year for.

There’s always prep for FCBD. I decided this was the year I finally execute the idea I’d been playing with for a couple years. I wanted to do Freddy Kruger as a Yellow Lantern (Sinestro Corps). I’d worn out my old Freddy makeup a few years ago, but that’s fine. The point is to do a makeup (Build it from scratch) that takes several hours while I wait in line, and Sinestro Corps is cool because there are 59921110_2460827867294955_701903995261681664_nglowing lights on the costume – and this is DEFINITELY the event you want to have a glowing costume at. The night atmosphere really brings it out. In anticipation, I had fashioned a new glove with clear yellow blades that lit up, and pulled out the old Sinestro suit from the closet. In addition, my buddy Ryan had put a call out, informing me that he had taken a bungee cord to the eye and was stuck wearing an eyepatch for the next week or so which pretty much ruined his costume plans. “Can you help me pull together a Nick Fury?”.  I pulled my leather trench coat, my Winter Soldier Cap shirt and stuck a shield sticker over the buckle of my utility belt, then told Ryan to wear navy pants and we’d dress him on site.

I’d packed the Batmobile accessories as well. It wasn’t a sure thing – the day had been rainy but I figured that if the rain let up and I could find a visible parking space near the line that It would be fun to build up the Batmobile. When I arrived I scored a spot just 59690961_2460804923963916_4232194497838055424_none store away from the end of the line, by the grocery store. It was good enough and I built up the car, then set up my nest in line. After I’d been working on makeup for an hour and a half I’d only gotten the basic structure of the chin done. It was around this time that the car in the space directly in front of my nest  in line pulled out. I grabbed my friend Marcus and begged him to hold the parking spot for thirty seconds. I sprinted over to my car, yellow latex chin dangling from my face as he stood in the empty space, arms spread. The Batmobile raced over and took up a place right up front, directly across from my nest.  Four hours into the night I’d gotten my Freddy makeup mostly done while  chatting with friends from Pop and Panels and the Scoobies. One of the guys from The Panel Scanners Podcast had been eyeing my progress from a distance and now came up to me and asked if I could head over to thier booth so they could interview me. I promised I’d walk down as soon as I suited up and started grabbing costume pieces from my car to pull over my latex and greaspaint stained clothes. I hit the button on my belt to make sure the lights worked.

They didn’t. Crap.

I turned over the battery pack to make sure the AAs were in tight and spotted the problem. The wire that feeds into the socket connector  where the battery pack connects in had pulled out. I whipped out my swiss army knife (I always keep it in my car) and my 59953823_2460810177296724_7143054771056803840_nbuddy Rocky held the belt still, looking on in disbelief as I rewired the belt, bypassing the juncture and splicing the wires directly into the battery pack, then insulating the wires with duck tape.

As we were watching my belt finally light up, Mayday swung by and asked if I had any tape. His belt was giving him problems too. We emptied the roll of duck tape and got him fixed up. I could see it was a bad night for belts when Vito stopped me later on to ask if I could help him fix his Batman belt…..

Inside the shop, Winston discovered he had a suspicious visitor. The cat eyed the strange dog in the spider-man costume warily. FCBD is always a little rough on the comic shop’s 59445931_10157000005387278_1553795622958530560_nfeline mascot. The crowds inside were packed shoulder to shoulder, debating the virtues of the Wolverine Canadian Ale vs the Cyclops Weak Summer Pilsner. I was certain that Endgame was all anyone would be talking about. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t. The conversations around me were constantly “What do you think of the new Child’s Play movie coming out?” or speculation on the new Sonic the Hedghog film.

Back at the nest, Jen and her kids descended on us and my friend Vanessa pulled up a chair after her place in line had gotten ursurped by a bunch of guys noisily playing marvel monopoly practically on top of her seat (We’re happy to take in refugees). Rocky and Mayday grabbed thier hammer and lightsaber respectively asking if the trolls needed eviction. She shook her head laughing.

Every single year I’m amazed at how fast six or seven hours in line pass. But then, it’s not really a queue – it really wouldn’t be worth this kind of wait, just for ten free comics (eleven if you could the graphic novel they throw in for the first 200). No, this is a party that lasts all night. I’d be back in the morning for another run through. The day event is a little more subdued and I usually hit Comics are Go as well, but the evening party is the one we always spend the most time at. It’s one of the benefits of having one of the best comic shops in the country local, and no one else does FCBD like this.

 

 

 


Logan

Movie bannerUnpopular opinion; I didn’t enjoy Logan all that 161429461_62f2ffmuch.  It’s absolutely not the best of the X-Men films.  Now mind you, it’s not that this is a bad film per se, what I found myself not liking, was what happened to these characters then I have known and loved for decades.  But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning.
Logan is the story of Wolverine in his later years as he tries to get the first new mutant born in 20 years across the border and to safety.  Spoilers from here on out.
First and foremost, Logan is not designed to be a blockbuster.  It’s not designed to be a summer tent pole  movie – in fact it’s not really even designed to be a superhero movie.  This is an old grind house film.  There is a heavy Tarantino influence on it, cowboy pants and generic south-western settings, gritty violence along with a loner in a bullet ridden car – indeed all its missing is a scene in A darkened coffee house/family restaurant.  Something 70s style, with rocks on the wall and waitresses in uniform (I waited all two hours for that and was shocked it didn’t happen). Logan is an old man logan-trailer-700x300now…although Hugh Jackman still manages to be the most stunningly beautiful “old” man I can imagine.  Professor Xavier is still alive as well, but suffering from a brain disease – it’s never quite spelled-out if it’s Alzheimer’s or a variation of that, but he is certainly deteriorating.  It’s a sad state to see Professor X in, and it feeds into the core of my old issues with the character. I need to like Professor X. I need to look up to him.  One of my main problems with the X-Men first class films is that James McAvoy is Professor X is terribly unpleasant, and unfortunately, Patrick Stewart professorxseems to be channeling a lot of that here.  It’s more forgivable though, because it seems to be a result of his deterioration.  The old optimistic, wise Professor X still manages to emerge from time to time and I’m reminded just how perfect Stewart has always been in this role.

Indeed, the fact that this was an X-Men movie with Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman starring once again, was what got me up to the theatre.  It was not Wolverine that got me to this movie – I’ve never been a fan of the character. It was not the comic book hype – at this point there are so many comic book films out I can actually afford to be selective, and thumbnail_25475it certainly was not the R rating.
I appreciate the fact that they were able to do whatever they wanted with the higher rating, but just because you can do a thing does not follow that you necessarily must.  The hyper violence that we are treated to is necessary, and actually has been missing a lot of times.  We get a glimpse more of it in the R rated cut of The Wolverine (the previous film), but in Logan they really cut loose, showing exactly the kind of damage Wolverines claws and rage can inflict.  I think it also allows them to get away with far more using the young child Laura, or as you’re more familiar in the comics – X-23.  The scenes of her violence and devastation are very likely too disturbing to have ever managed a PG-13 rating.  The soulless killing and lack of ukq4oslwnhj85aqbfucuconscience that we see in her, may well have pushed this closer to an NC-17. Quite frankly, this is why Wolverine needed an R rating.  Not just so that they would have an excuse to use the word “fuck” repeatedly.
This is one of those things that bugs me, that most of the uses of the word are unnecessary and when you pull out the F bomb too often, it loses its power.  Every instance where it is preceded by the word “the” would’ve been better substituted with “hell”. It fits the speech pattern we’ve seen in the character previously.  Professor X should never be using that word, it makes him look less intelligent (This is not an argument about whether intelligent people use adult language. It’s a statement about appearance – and film is ALL about appearance) .  However the temptation, now that they have license to do so, appears to be just too strong and it’s a disappointment to me (particularly since its only the heroes that ever use the word! deadpool-appearanceDid anyone else catch that?) It fits in Deadpool, which was always conceived as a blue comedy. For my money however, it detracts in Logan.
We knew that this was the final outing for both Jackman and Stewart, and about halfway through I started to get that vibe – the one that tells you somebody, if not everybody, is about to die.  It makes sense, as a way to punctuate both of their tenures in these films, but in both cases the deaths felt anticlimactic.  In Professor X’s case, it’s downright ignoble.  His death in X-Men three was far more satisfying (and is there some unwritten rule that the third film in an X-franchise HAS to be depressing?), but at least here.  He was able to have that one perfect day before the end.  Wolverine’s demise is marginally better, it’s certainly more heroic. Nevertheless, for some reason it just doesn’t feel as spectacular and over the top as I would’ve liked.  I understand it though, and it was a good decision to end the film this way.  The last scene where we closed tight on his grave marker is brilliant, and it reminds us that we are still in the X-Men universe.41a6d3ec563f014eb3eec98ff2a8f206

This film is a hard call for me, because while I enjoy the violence that we’ve finally gotten (and truthfully waited for so long), we also have to deal with the more depressing scenes of the film they go along with that.  I don’t like the implication that the X-Men were wiped out by Professor X, that everyone is dead under such terrible circumstances. I don’t like the lonely end Xavier comes to – he deserves better than that. They all do. The film certainly has resolution, but it’s not the sort of resolution that leaves you feeling like everything is going to be okay, that all these characters are going to be safe and sound. It’s dirty, messy. It doesn’t feel like it belongs in a superhero movie.

But then again, like I said at the beginning, this – is not a superhero film.


Rogue

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When I wrote on that Gambit piece that I should think about tdoing Rogue, I meant it. I was actually done with this catagory of post for the year, all scheduled and written up, but couldn’t get that one out of my head so here’s one more.

It’s got to be the 90’s costume, though there was a brief period in the 2000’s where they had just restored the costumes after the Morrison run, slightly updated and with higher detail – more buckles and quilting. I like that and try to incorporate it in here, along with losing the head band. That’s rough because it drastically changes her hair style, but for the better I think. I don’t like it just straight, but too curly looks dated, we’re somewhere in the middle of that.

The other thing about Rogue is she kind of…busty. More so than any of the X-Men, she’s always been drawn top heavy, and we’ve represented that here as well.

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(Re)visiting X-Men

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dc expirimentalI think we’ve pretty well established that I am a DC person. I have always been a DC partisan. I think a lot of it has to do with when I really came in to comics – those years in the late 80s especially for a fascinating time for DC where they were dabbling in deconstruction long before it was fashionable. There were new prestige 12990856_1162340130477075_5221927102289294111_nprojects coming out it seemed, every month (books like the ones pictured above)– and I would gaze at them longingly in the ads that sat in the back of my Star Trek and Superman books. These were very hit or miss, but they were daring. Vertigo came around and changed everything, sorting all of that sort of thing into one place, and in some ways it feels like it tamed those tendencies. It’s certainly redirected them.

Still, even within the mainstream titles things felt different – like they were growing up. I saw themes and elements in Superman that I didn’t remember being there in the silver age, Batman was more violent, the JLI bickered and were dysfunctional – it all felt like DC was really trying to focus on writing and storytelling in an era that, as we rode into the 90s, seemed increasingly focused on art over a story – with superstars like McFarlane and Liefield creating a house style at Marvel that would eventually migrate over to Image… But never seemed to affect DC.

13015142_1162340050477083_3546158498580389158_nThe point being – I never read X-Men. Even when I was a young kid, picking up Spiderman and Superman comics, I always avoided X-Men. Something about the pointyness of their costumes always bothered me – it’s a crazy aesthetic peeve, but it’s pervasive in the 80s X books. The shoulders of Colossus costume, Nightcrawlers too– Jean Grey’s mask and wolverines whole outfit… So many points you could cut yourself just by looking at them! There was a exception, I do remember finding a copy of the Asgard wars and really enjoying it… But it was an anomaly. I was still by and large, reading DC comics even 12974426_1162340137143741_6960391579557794471_nwhen this volume fell in my lap. It had the advantage of featuring the New Mutants, which was an idea I really loved. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Marvel and X-Men, I was aware of the distinction between the main team, and the team of students – in fact it would be the gateway for me to enter that universe later on.

Asgard Wars also had the great advantage of introducing me to some of my favorite characters in the X-Men universe – in particular, Kitty’s dragon named Lockheed. Even without knowing much more about him then that particular story, I would be doodling and cartooning him for the next 10 years… Going so far as to have one of my birthday cakes done in the shape of his 13015262_1162340033810418_871404150190795508_ncharacter. Is it wrong that I was far more amused and intrigued by Lockheed then I was by Kitty? It kind of shows my complete disconnect from X-Men as I was growing up.

The other character that I fell in love with in Asgard Wars was Warlock. He is written and drawn in such a fascinating way throughout this entire story – quirky and funny and unpredictable. I would go on to collect tons of New Mutants later on in my life, always looking to recreate some of that same feeling of fun and whimsy that I got when I first read this book. They never quite found his voice again though. I was always disappointed that no one else quite captured how much fun this character could be and I have never loved him as much as I do in this book.

Me feeling dissapointed that Warlock isn't nearly as interesting in any of these as he was in Asgard Wars

Me feeling dissapointed that Warlock isn’t nearly as interesting in any of these as he was in Asgard Wars

Still, other than this I was not reading X-Men. I had a friend back in high school, whose name was Tim – he didn’t read any other comics but X-Men… And he had 13007092_1162340037143751_5833520867548055388_nbeen reading them for probably 10 years or more. He spoke fondly of it and had a real commitment to the series that I just didn’t understand.

It was about this time, the very early 90s, that I finally found myself dabbling. The Jim Lee run had exploded, and the cartoon was right around the corner, paving the way for what is arguably the most recognizable version of these characters since the brown suit Wolverine Claremont Era.

It started, as I mentioned with New Mutants, although at that point they were no longer the New Mutants – so rather it began with X-Force. It wasn’t the first issue, I believe we were somewhere around issue 19… A good jumping on point, as the team 13006501_1162347637142991_1283473157847782540_nchanges its roster a bit, changes its costumes, and attempts to go on without its leader. It was a good time for X-force, Fabian Nicieza was in full effect on the book and the next six months would be a fun story arc that gave you a real sense of continuity and a feel for the direction the book would be taking. The growth of the characters also was appealing to me. They had grown from High School kids into College age people. Sam had really grown into himself, and I was really having fun reading characters like Boomer and Rictor.

In the meantime, the X-Men cartoon was taking the community by storm, making the X-Men more popular than ever – and it was enough to suck me in, and was a very simple sidestep from X Force.

The thing is, the X-Men of this era were very superhero oriented – accessible but 12963590_1162340127143742_1670353489101401937_ncomparatively vapid. Classic villains would show up, but for no other reason than it was time for them to appear in the book. There were spurious tires to classic characters and storylines – even then I was aware of Clarmont epic run – who wasn’t? But this had really mutated into standard superhero soap opera fare. And that’s okay, but it still lacked that special spark that made my friend Tim such a devotees of this series. That’s not to say that there aren’t great points here – this is the series that took me from a mere interest in Rogue to absolutely loving her, it’s the series that brought us Gambit. And then there’s the white issue – this particular story tears me up every single time. Also coming out around this era was thier attempt to launch a new book to fill the New Mutant’s shaped hole that X-Force’s graduation to College age left in the mutant line of comics. The result was Generation X – a book that I absolutely adored. To this day I feel it got Back-Xsabotaged by the hiatus caused when Age of Apocalypse started…but I digress…you can read all about that in a short article over here – https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/in-defense-of-generation-x/

In recent days I’ve noticed a lot of the wonderful Essential volumes dropping in price – I frequently see them for five dollars, although Carol and Johns recently had a sale with them priced as low as three. I’ve been picking these up at conventions a lot, most recently at Great Lakes Comic Con and decided to take some time and really try to explore this classic Era.

What is fascinating is to encounter some of these storylines for the first time – Silver Samurai and the Brood and the Hellfire club, they all fit better in this period… They are introduced organically rather 13001060_1162340040477084_7714194724708277842_nthan the way they feel shoehorned in later on in the series. A lot of those stories I remember from the cartoon, I’m finally experiencing the source material – indeed, I’m coming in right around the time when my favorite little guy Lockheed was introduced! There is a strong continuity here, one of the things that appealed to me so very much about the Superman comics during the Byrne and Ordway Era. It seems like it would be hard to just drop in to this series though, and it’s one of the reasons I think I’ve always found it so inaccessible – it takes a commitment to read the stuff.

There is a better understanding of these characters to be had though, with a lot that I expected as well as some character development perhaps I hadn’t expected. Cyclops, who I generally find insufferable, is far more 12961466_1162340123810409_5544198016137198592_ninteresting in these stories – there is more to him than the stuffed shirt we get so used to in the 90s Era. It’s interesting to see characters like Yukio The Ronin show up here. I know her from the early Phalanx prologue with Storm, it was an issue I originally bored because I thought I saw Jubilee on the cover. You can hardly blame me for making this mistake can you? I mean take a look below at the image of the way Yukio is drawn in this issue compare it to how she is drawn in essentials number four. I’ll chop them up and put them side-by side.

I swear she has de-aged… Honestly, I like the way Paul Smith draws her better – there is more character on her face, she’s not as pretty, but still has that impish Full-of-life attitude and it’s far more evident in her face and body language. I’m looking at that later issue now, and she still looks like Jubilee to me.

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As I read on, it occurs to me to wonder if the success of X-Men during this period is about Claremont or about how well they fit into the 80s. Kitty is a quintessential 80s girl. I’m not even sure what it is about her, she’s not a stereotype but everything about her screams 1980s – her posture, the body of her hair (no Aqua net, not high owolverinejackmannew3-thumb-504x800r teased or anything like that, just the body and shape), The way she carries herself, her drive and her attitude – the same is very true of Jubilee, who is a quintessential 90s slacker girl. The problem with these characters however is that they root themselves or the stories and the team in that particular time frame. Still, they work so well in that time frame. More then any other era, Wolverine’s cowboy hat looks right at home here, cyclops is large glasses work better here, The technology juxtaposes better against the warm wood furnishings of the 80s mansion and it feels more fantastic… a period before high-technology became commonplace in our lives.

These days it seems like X-Men bounces between trying to be relevant, and trying to be familiar to those who have only seen the films. There are still fun periods, in particular I was enjoying the run about eight years ago where things have kind of reverted to a simpler adventure format – coming out of the Grant Morrison run. It was fun, and simpler and we were seeing the best elements of the best costumes rolled into modern interpretations.

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Today, it seems we have gone in the other direction – that continuity that I spoke 13010797_1162357293808692_3447845574088106483_nof earlier? Today it’s wound so tightly across the titles in the series, that much like the avengers books, it becomes insular and difficult to drop in and out of. Over the years, we’ve picked up so many different characters along the way that it feels like they need to shoehorn them all into the series at some point or another as well focusing on a cohesive team that works well together and has chemistry. It’s hard for me to get into the X-Men comics of today.

Perhaps that’s why I’m looking to the past.


In Defense of Generation X

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Poor Generation X. This title was doomed from the word go. It’s a shame too, because Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo created a great title, a true successor to the New Mutants, a modern version of that premise with interesting interpersonal relationships and fun characters propelled into the spotlight in the wake of the crossover event “the Phalanx covenant” in all the X-Books.  They got four issues in….

Then the Age of Apocalypse happened.

The series was put on hiatus for half a year while that event played itself out and by the time the series came back it had to rebuild practically from scratch, and discovered a good chunk of their audience had drifted away.

I always kind of looked at it as a four issue mini series, but in recent years I’ve been picking up later issues where I can. You can see a lot of lost momentum and like I said, it’s a shame.

Pick up the first four issues if you see them, or grab the trade paperback Generation X Classic: Vol. #1 and see if you don’t feel that same sense of wonder and potential I did when I was following this back in ’94

Back-X


In Defense of X- Force

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imagesCA9PYZBQX-Force doesn’t always get the respect it deserves for two reasons.

One : Rob Liefield. The man is hated beyond reason. I understand he rubs some folks the wrong way and that he’s not the greatest artist ever, but his astetic practaclly defined the 90’s and that can’t be denied. If it’s not your preferred look (and it’s not mine) then that’s fine but the hatred for Liefield seems to border on the irrational at times.

Two : It’s a mutation (see what I did there?) of the New Mutants, and was that really necessary? It actually goes back to Liefield and who did he think he was trying to relaunch the books so it was just his???

imagesCA0NU0NVCan I tell you why I have a soft spot for X-Force? It’s the book  that got me into X-Men.

I’ve always been team DC, but in the 90’s I wasn’t reading ANY X titles. I hated the 80’s costumes…to pointy. Seriously. On day I was browsing and I came across X-Force #19, and I was hooked. It drew me into the greater world of the X-Men in the 90’s and this is a good thing.

I’d point out, this wasn’t Liefield’s X-Force. Sure it was his lineup, but he’d since left for Image. This was Fabian Nicieza’s run. IN fact, for a while there he seemed to have a finger in everything X related, and this is the incarnation of X-Force I love.

Attempts to redo them or reteam them just never worked for me, though I kind of like the covert ops team with Wolverine…mostly because it was something totally new. Still, I love going back to those Nicieza days and reading that era of X-Force. Look! War machine’s in this issue!

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Superheroes vs the Cleveland Pops

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Summer is almost over and this weekend here in my hometown of Elyria there was a free concert by Cleveland Pops.

And a bunch of Superheroes.

The city coordinated the Orchestra’s visit with a local volunteer group called Superheroes to Kids in Ohio who work with kids in hospitals and terminally ill patients. They introduced sets and worked the crowd as the orchestra played selections from superhero films such as Avengers, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man. There was even a Frozen set.

This was a good time, in the middle of the city, surrounded by superheros, with the orchestral score playing in the background and fireworks in the sky. It’s also EXACTLY the sort of thing Elyria needs more of.

Happy Labor Day.

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By the way, even though it’s Labor Day there IS still a new Violent Blue up today!


In Defense of X-Men Origins : Wolverine

defense

1This is actually a hard Colum to write. The rules are it has to be about a property (mostly movies, but comics and music are fair game too) that everyone in general hates and that conventional wisdom tells us is bad, but that I like. And I mean LIKE. Not just a “meh…that’s not really THAT bad a movie….”

Here’s how I can  tell that Wolverine isn’t a bad movie. I like it – and I don’t like ANY of the X-Men movies. The second one is  the only one I might ever bother to rewatch besides this one (and the way Wolverine cuts through those soldiers in the mansion really bothers me). I actually change the channel if any of these movies come on broadcast TV.

I read the comics, but let’s face it, the cinematic X universe bears little more than a passing resemblance to the comics. That’s actually a good thing too, because I can’t stand Wolverine in the comics. Hugh Jackman however, actually makes me care about the character. he makes me like him. The first three X-Movies are really just all about Wolvie, so why not finally admit it and put his name on the shingle?

The action is good here. It’s a lot of CG, 3but we’ve come to expect that from X-Movies. Wolverine broods a bit, but I think it actually fits the character. I’m hearing a lot of complaing on that same subject for the Days of Future Past film as well, but if you genuinely know the character, you’ll realize he’s more than a hack ’em up brute. It’s a role Jackman plays extraordinarily well.

The lack of continuity with Sabertooth has bugged some people. I get that. I really wish it were Tyler Man again, or that this guy had played him in the first film. It would have helped my suspension of disbelief. However, Sabertooth isn’t just a brute either. In the mid 90’s there was some real development of the character, imprisoned in the mansion and while they were attempting to rehabilitate him, he was 2playing mind games with the crew. There’s aspecial hatred between him and Gambit. It’s a shame that actually never played itself out on screen here. It’s a missed opprutunity, but then again, perhaps one that would have made the plot look too crowded to casual fans.

Gambit by the way, it perfectly realized here. I’m a fan of the character and loved the portrayal in this film. My only complaint is that he’s underused. That’s been the excuse for three previous films as to why they never brought him in by the way – they felt they wouldn’t have a big enough role for him. After waiting so long though, it was good to finally see Remy LeBeau realized on screen.

6Which brings me to the big sticking point for a lot of people.

Deadpool.

For all you haters out there….I’ll give you this one. What they did with deadpol was a real waste. It smacks of studio interference by a group of people who just don’t understand the character. A shame too, because before his transformation into the bizarre weapon X without a mouth. Ryan Reynolds actually does a nice job as Wade Wilson. If anything, it’s a bit underplayed.

Here’s why it didn’t ruin the movie for me. I barely knew ANYTHING abut Deadpool when this came out. He’d shown up in X-Force as a fairly generic Vanilla character and I was completely unfamiliar with the more loony 4characterization he’d grown into (and thanks to Jesse Vining who re-introduced me to the character when I was getting back into Heroclix). I imagine a great deal of the general public was the same way….it was just another bad guy to them. Still, to a fan, I can see how this could poison the film for you. I have similar feelings about Alien 3 (but more on that next month). The fact that we still haven’t gotten a proper Deadpool feature (especially with that script that’s been floating around) makes it even more of a slap in the face.  In this case, I’m genuinely asking you to set aside that and pretend he’s just a random bad guy. This really is a fun film, and there are too few X-films with this kind of rewatchability to just throw this one aside.


Days of Future Past

Movie banner

1Finally got around to seeing Days of Future Past.

Here’s the thing, I’m not into the X-Men movies. I liked the X-Men in the early 90’s when it was over the top superhero action. I’ve never been a fan of Wolverine. At that point, there really isn’t a whole lot in these films for me. Worse yet, they just get more and more depressing every time. One was okay, but frustrating because of how much it deviated from any know continuity. Two was actually okay. Fun. The bit about Wolverine killing soldiers bothered me a little but otherwise okay. X3 was just depressing and grim. I gave up after that. I saw Wolverine Origins, but not in the theatre, and I thought it was okay…but mediocre. I didn’t even bother with the Wolverine or First class.

First class bothers me actually because I really don’t like this version of Xavier and I don’t want a version of Professor X that is unlikable.

Really, the X films are all about Professor X and Wolverine. More importantly, they are all about Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman. The return of Steward and Ian Mackellan on screen with Jackman is a welcome return to form.

It’s interesting, even though I haven’t seen First Class, I can feel it being integrated here, like two different franchises coming together. A real Avengers vibe. The story deviates miles from the comics, but by now we’ve pretty much accepted that the movies are their own continuity and like I said, these films are about Wolverine and Professor X.

We’re pretty much into full costume mode these days (as opposed to the original film when the fashion was still to try as hard as possible to deny you were in a superhero film), so I don’t understand why they don’t just use comic accurate suits, but the look is very cool. Some of the dopey elements like the fans in the sentinels ake sense when you see them on screen.

There’s not much to complain about here. I still don’t like MacAvoy’s Xavier, but I think I actually may enjoy Michael Fastbender’s Magneto more than Ian Mackellans. It’s enough to get me to pull The Wolverine out to watch it and maybe even anticipate the next film a bit! No small feat. It’s still in theatres, so catch it on the big screen while you still can.

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Deadpool

gamer

thI finally got around to playing the Deadpool video game while I was on vacation.  Gameplay is reasonably straight forward, though there are a few places you have to backtrack to achieve game effects. Still, that’s all standard. That could be any other review.

What Deadpool stands on is the tory and the character. This is the merc ith a mouth and boy, do they go out of thier way to live up to that reputation. I’ve never played a game where there was this much talking in game. As he slices and dices he taunts and talks and jokes. Spider-Man game developers could really learn from this mechanic.  A lot of the material is repeated, but that’s to be expected. Heck, I tell the same jokes to diffrent audiences on a regular basis.

th3There’s a heavy X-Men influence here as well. Much more than I expected to see. Sinister is the villian and I was a little surprised about that. He dosen’t strike me as a typical Deadpool baddie.  Cable and Domino show up enough to make me feel like I was reading old Liefield X-Force off-issues.  Wolverine makes an appearance and it’s JUST enough. People have a tendancy to overuse him and he could have easily taken over a good level or so but no, in fact Rogue has more screen time than Wolvie.

I love the Rogue level.  It’s easily the best one in the game and she comes off remarkably well in the game. We even get to play her for a minuet after Deadpool lends her his healing factor….and mask. Deadpool spends most of the level searching for her so he can make her fall in love with him. Maybe that’s why I really dig this part -I’ve had a thing for Rogue since I read Asgard Wars (and  then there was that year I dated a girl who absolutely wanted to BE Rogue). I can relate with Deadpool’s low motives.

th2Nolan North captures Deadpol perfectly by the way, whenever I read the comics from here on out, it’s his voice I will hear. He’s as definitve as Kevin Conroy is to Batman. Daniel Wray has written a brilliant script.  This FEELS like Deadpool. Even the potty humor (which I usualy don’t go for) works in this context.  I’m not one of those people who thinks video games are the next evolution  of entertainment…that thinks they are the natural progression from film, but I will say this: This game is far more satisfying than any Deadpool movie I could imagine (and I say that having read the excellent screenplay  by Reese and Wernick).  THere’s an inheriant goofieness, and breaking the fourth wall fits better here. One of my favortie moments is when Deadpool has to get across a huge chasm and he does it by jumping on old dialogue boxes.

Overall, a great game with a fun attitude and atmosphere that sets it above a normal hack and slash. It’s a shooter where the witting matters, and I love it.

 

 


Top Five Marvel movie heros

Time for a top five list I think. The glut of comic book movies hasn’t slowed down yet, though the tone is changing (https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/the-future-of-comic-book-movies/) and I decided to think about who my favorite movie heros were. Not from DC, that’s way to narrow a playing field, even if you include the vertigo stuff. Marvel however, has been pushing out every possible character into this new movie universe of thiers, along with the unprecedented move of making it a definitively shared universe (as opposed to a suggested shared universe suchas the hints we get that movies like Soldier and Prometheus are in the same universe as Blade Runner or the tease in Predator 2 about being in the same universe with Aliens) with the Avengers.

Spider-Man2002PosterI was surprised to find a lot of these favorites would be mirrored by my favorite Marvel characters in general and quality of the films has little to do with it…..

Spider-Man

Specifically the Rami version. There were some problems here, I never liked the idea that every villain had to be related to Spidey somehow and I wasn’t always fond of Tobeys Peter Parker – on the other hand it was a perfect 60’s-70-‘s Peter (i preferred the 80’s – 90’s versions) but he made a perfect Spidey and the suit was the best we’ve seen. Andrew Garfield makes a better Peter, but that’s about all he’s got going for him.

2_midiThe Punisher

No real specific one. People like to drag Dolph Lundgren through the mud about this role and blame him largely for the failure of his Punisher film. I find that completely unfair, and pretty inaccurate. He dis a good job on the character in my opinion, probably a better job that  Ray Stevenson even. Really, I actually like all the actors to play this character equally, though if I had to pick one, it would be Thomas Jane simply because he had a better story to be in…..but that’s another whole blog post.

the avengers movie poster ironman tony stark robert downey jr marvel comics new official 2012Iron Man

This character is one I really enjoy DESPITE the movies. I’m not a fan of these films because there’s so little we see of Iron Man in the suit. I’ve complained endlessly about this elsewhere so i don’t need to rehash it here. On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr. inhabits the role. He’s perfect in it and actually, I think Avengers was this Iron Man’s finest hour. The character looks great on screen, and they consistently get him right. I just wish his solo movies were better.

Daredevil

215px-Daredevil_posterI think i’m one of the only people who actually like this movie. I really do, it’s on par with Tim Burton’s Batman to me. It has a similar feel, definitely a first movie, an introduction without getting mired down in an origin story. There’s a fascinating arch wit the character and they keep the tone dark and dirty as the best Daredevil comics are. Sure you can pan it because it’s an Affleck movie, but really, we don’t see much of him in it. He’s always hidden behind glasses or a mask. He dosen’t ACT like Ben Affleck either, no (well, few) T-Shirts and his attitude is kept in check – it’s actually a performance for a change and not him just playing well, Ben Affleck.

Wolverine

wolverinejackmannew3-thumb-504x800Obvious right? Not so much. If you know me, you know I don’t actually like Wolverine. His appeal baffles me. The key here is Hugh Jackman. Jackman has mad this character accessible to me somehow. He turned him into someone I’m actually interested in and that’s no mean trick, especially considering I didn’t enjoy most of the X-Men movies, in fact I never even bothered with First Class. I still have no love for him in the comics, and really didn’t want to put him on this list. Surely someone like Cap or Nick Fury was more deserving right? But when I come down to it, I found I really do like Jackmans Wolverine more than most other Marvel movie heroes.

Time to get back to work on Violent Blue. You know, I suspect that the characters in the strip would have very different lists  than I do too…..something to think about.


The future of Comic Book movies

So blockbuster season is firmly in  the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.

Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.

Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down  the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.

But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.

That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison. 

And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue

Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?