Monthly Archives: August 2013
Last month saw the release of the much-hyped The Wolverine, the latest in 20th Century Fox’s ongoing attempts to create an X-Men movie franchise. There’ve been lots of ups and downs in the last, what, thirteen years (?) as far as that’s concerned. The first X-Men movie was a great movie that did a lot to help establish Marvel characters within Hollywood, but the subsequent productions, despite their varying success levels, haven’t exactly been on par. The X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie was a ridiculous attempt at a prequel to the trilogy and though I kind of do love the film because of all the action-goodness in it, it was low on plot and low on character development. The most recent movie, X-Men: First Class, a reboot of the entire franchise, went back into the Cold War era to kickstart the global mutant-hate and was an attempt to tell a prequel with a much different tone and one that would establish the divisions between Professor X and Magneto. Of course, it doesn’t help that First Class officially retconned the Origins movie and that together, all three movies are a continuity mess, when taken together.
And into this mix is The Wolverine, which is seemingly set after the events of X-Men 3 and will ultimately tie into next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, which will continue on with the X-Men team established by Professor X in First Class and is also a sequel to X-Men 3 at the same time. Which just makes things really confusing.
Either way, this review isn’t really a review of the usual type. I’m taking a look at the new movie and comparing it against its direct source material, Wolverine Volume 1 by Chris Claremont, which is where the story for the movie has been adapted from. In a nutshell, I think the movie is a fairly good adaptation and it is not a straight lifting of plot points or character development, but is something different. All things considered, I think this is one of the best such adaptations I’ve seen.
Note: spoilers for the final act of the movie and the comic will be discussed towards the end of the review.
Scott Snyder, following on from his epic crossover “Death of the Family” and the 2-part cool-off arc with the Clayface, launched Batman into “Zero Year“. The new arc, which crossovers with several other titles such as The Flash, Nightwing, Batgirl, Action Comics and others is about fleshing out how Bruce Wayne became Batman. In a way, its the comics equivalent of Batman Begins, the first in Christopher Nolan’s highly lauded Batman movie trilogy. We get to see the origins of one of DC’s most popular and oldest characters, in a vision of the character and his allies and the city of Gotham that Scott Snyder has built up through successful issue after successful issue in the New 52 relaunch of the DC Universe. It is certainly an exciting time to start reading some Batman comics, make no mistake.
The first in the new arc, #21 (review), launched the entire story in a most spectacular way, and introduced to us Bruce’s uncle Phil Kane and the latter’s business advisor, Edward Nygma (better known as the Riddler, another classic Batman villain). Without all the usual trappings, Batman was very unlike Batman because he wasn’t Batman yet. He was just a rich kid who grew up with an internal need for vengeance following the murder of his parents, and who has traveled (relatively incognito) all over the world to bring his body to the peak of physical martial perfection.
For someone who has already delivered three powerful arcs in the series already, Snyder’s “Zero Year” promises to raise the game once again. Issues #22 and #23 are certainly among the best that Snyder has written to date on the title.
So, I just finished reading the new issue of Batgirl by Gail Simone. For the fourth time. I’ve never done that before, ever. There hasn’t been a comic yet that has gotten to me like this one has. Through all the ups and down this title has seen since launch, I’ve stuck with it. Well, technically, I only started reading sometime in August last year, or thereabouts, so I haven’t been reading long, but I’ve stuck with each issue. Gail Simone is one of my favourite writers in the industry right now and a big reason for that is this book.
As someone who was never interested in the character before, much like with Aquaman, Gail got me invested in the character. She got me to vividly experience all the ups and down that Barbara Gordon, formerly Oracle and wheelchair-bound, experienced in the New 52. And with this issue, she’s hit everything home in the worst way possible. And I mean that in a good way.
Note: spoilers for the previous story arcs now follow, so best be aware of that.
A few days ago I was talking with fellow TFF reviewer about how DC could, and should, revamp its “Young Justice” comics. To clarify, I realise that there was an animated show of the same name and that there were accompanying digital comics as well. However, I use that term as a catch-all to describe all the second generation superheroes in the DC universe for the purposes of this discussion. This includes heroes like Superboy, Supergirl, Batgirl, Red Hood, Nightwing, Teen Titans and so on.
We did some preliminary discussions around the idea and it gave me the idea for this post, since our discussion was held on a forum where the comics discussions are extremely limited. And I wanted to explore the idea in greater depth and provide a much more visible platform for it as well.
More than Iron Man 3 or Star Trek: Into Darkness, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was high on my list of summer movies to watch this year. As much as I was looking forward to the Superman reboot Man of Steel. The trailers promised something totally incredible that was also a lot of fun to watch because of the movies roots in the genre it was set in.
Large monsters à la kaiju? Check.
Large controlled robots à la mecha anime? Check.
Big bad-ass action scenes? Check.
Pseudo science with goofy scientists? Check.
End of the world? Check.
So in all of this, the promise is great. In a way, this isn’t something that we haven’t seen before. But still, it is something that that is completely different. Why, you ask. Well, hit the break to find out!
I’ve mentioned before that one of the main attractions I have for Gail Simone’s The Movement is that it is well-off the oft-trodden path that superhero comics generally take. They are loud and grand and often quite fantastical. In an almost complete about-face, Gail’s new series for DC is something much more personal, much more relevant. This is a series that deals with vigilantism and corruption with a superhero flavour. It posits a situation where the people rise up en masse to protest against those in power, those are abusing and corrupting the system for their own gains, and showing them where the true power is.
The first issue of the series was a great opener. The second and third issues set a high bar. And now, the fourth issue has raised the stakes once again. The Movement is a series that seems to be getting better with each issue.
An episode of Superman: The Animated Series, in which Superman and Flash have a race around the world to determine who is the fastest among them, was where I first met the character, having had no prior knowledge of him. Then I met him in the Justice League: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited shows and I pretty much fell in love with the character. Wally West made for an excellent foil for pretty much everyone else on the team and his dynamic with the others was one of the best things that the shows did. Much as John Stewart is THE Green Lantern for me, so is Wally West THE Flash for me.
This is why I was rather saddened that there was no Wally West in the New 52 reboot of DC Comics. I was further saddened to hear that Wally West was being considered a “toxic” character at DC editorial. C’est la vie. Still, I was willing to give the “new” Flash a chance and I picked up Francis Manapul’s first three issues of the new series last year. However, they didn’t work for me since I just wasn’t able to get into the story and the character. And I gave up on the book after that, preferring to read about Barry as things happened in Geoff Johns’ Justice League.
But then fellow TFF reviewer Bane of Kings started to praise The Flash, especially the recent issues, and I thought, might as well try it. Seeing that a relatively stand-alone annual issue was coming up, I included it in my “Top DC Comics For July” post, expecting some great things out of it, since it had a different writer than Manapul.
And you know what, I loved this issue!
Two weeks ago I did the first of these kind of posts, which can be found here. There were some really fun-looking books on that list that I would love to read (all of them) this year, but given how these kind of things work out for me, especially of late, that is probably not going to happen any time soon. My only consolation is that these covers are so bloody damn good!
Hope you liked the previous post and that you’ll like this one as well.
Back in May I announced that my short story Dharmasankat: Crisis of Faith had been accepted for inclusion in Tim Marquitz and Tyson J. Mauermann’s urban fantasy anthology Manifesto: UF. You can read that post here. Since then, I’ve been keenly anticipating the release of the anthology and seeing my name in print for the first time. I won’t lie, I’m superterriblyamazingly excited for this. After several false starts and abandoned projects things are beginning to work out and it looks like I do have the start of something great here.
Just a couple days ago, I looked at the final edited version of the short story. There actually weren’t any serious edits there other the American English-ization of a few terms here and there, and that too because I tend to write in British English, owing to my aspirations to one day write for Black Library’s Warhammer Fantasy and/or Warhammer 40,000 settings.
Having that be the most serious editing required makes me really glad. Glad that I didn’t screw up anything with my debut effort. The anticipation of release is eating at me right now, as is the fact that Dharmayoddha: Warrior of Faith is still on submission and I haven’t heard anything about it yet. Either way, I’m really looking forward to the release of the anthology.
In the meantime, since it was finalised, here’s the Table of Contents for the anthology. As I mentioned in the other post, some of these authors are friends I’ve made in the last few months ever since I started reviewing and to be able to share the same writing space as them is thrilling. Too, fellow reviewer Nickolas Sharps is making his own debut here as well and both of us are right smack in the middle of the TOC.
Rev – Kirk Dougal
I’m an Animal. You’re an Animal, Too – Zachary Jernigan
Los Lagos Heat – Karina Fabian
Savage Rise – Adam Millard
Front Lines, Big City – Timothy Baker
Break Free – Ryan Lawler
Naked the Night Sings – Teresa Frohock
Double Date – Andrew Moczulski
That Old Tree – R.L. Treadway
Dharmasankat – Abhinav Jain
Nephilim – TSP Sweeney
Toejam & Shrapnel – Nickolas Sharps
Green Grow the Rashes – William Meikle
Under the Dragon Moon – Jonathan Pine
Gold Dust Woman – Kenny Soward
Wizard’s Run – Joshua S. Hill
Chains of Gray – Betsy Dornbusch
Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic LA – Jake Elliot
Queen’s Blood – Lincoln Crisler
Beneath a Scalding Moon – Jeff Salyards
Separation Anxiety – J.M. Martin
Blessing and Damnation – Wilson Geiger
Jesse Shimmer Goes to Hell – Lucy A. Snyder
The anthology will be released in less than a month’s time, on 1st September, through Angelic Knight Press. I don’t have any of the usual bells-and-whistles links for you yet (Amazon, publisher product page, etc), but I do have the Goodreads page. I’ll get the other links as soon as I can. In the meantime, if you could head over to Goodreads and add the book to your reading shelves, that’d be great.
Thanks to everybody who’s helped so far. Much appreciated!