About Me

My photo
Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The New 52 Part 6: The Edge


            Well, it took a little longer than expected but I have finally returned to the New 52 and today we’re going to be taking a look at The Edge.  Now, with the exception of The Dark, this is the area of The New 52 that probably has the least know characters and two things come of this as a result.  The first is that it produces some of the best of the New 52 and it produces some of the worst, (or at least the most boring), as most people probably have never heard of many of these characters.  In the hands of a good writer, this can allow them to develop said characters and stories in ways that you would never think.  In the hands of a bad writer…well, we’ll get to that in a minute.  This particular post will contain reviews of Stormwatch, Voodoo, Grifter, Deathstroke, Suicide Squad, O.M.A.C., Blackhawks, Men of War, and All Star Westerns.  We have quite a few lines with mixed success so let’s dig into it.  This is The Illusive One’s Review of The New 52 Part 6: The Edge.



Stormwatch

            I have to admit, by the time I got around to this line I was really tiered of comic lines that involved teams of superheroes protecting the Earth from big threats.  While this one doesn’t quite revive my interest in these kinds of stories it one proved to be the best.  It follows a secret organization, (I am really getting sick of these!), known as Stormwatch as they guard Earth from intergalactic threats; first against a creature who inhabits the moon and then against a species of extra-dimensional invaders that try to harvest the gravity of the Earth. 
And, unlike a lot of the other lines that involve alien invaders, this one was actually interesting.  The whole idea behind having these kinds of invaders is just ingenious as they don’t follow the same rules our galaxy does and it takes some great thinking to save the day in these situations.  As with most of the other comics, the art work and action sequences are great, (although I’ve come to expect that at this point).  And supporting these concepts and artwork is a good cast of characters, with unique powers that keep the team in balance.  Some are almost as strong as Superman and others have the abilities to manipulate the very fabrics of the universe and it’s really cool to see the way these characters interact off one another.
The only real downsides to this is that the characters, while good, aren’t anything special and I can’t help but ask how many more world-wide crisis, superhero teams and secret societies can exist in this universe and on this world?  But despite this, this may actually be the best line involving a secret team of superheroes defending the world and I say give it a read before you check out anything Justice League in the title.

Verdict
Read



Voodoo

          Oh boy.  This one is a little strange to talk about.  It follows an alien and agent of the Daemonites as she tries to gain information on humans and eventually has to run from them when she is discovered which leads to more incidents and more characters to come into the fray. 
Now before I get into what makes this story so…wired to talk about let me go over what is good about it.  For starters, there are actually some good concepts within it regarding the aliens and the art work is pretty good.  Some of the characters are half way decent, and once it gets to issue 6 it really isn’t halfway bad.  I also like the way there really aren’t any rules to who lives and who dies in this series.  People just do, often allowing you just enough time to get attached to them and offing them just as fast.  It’s the kind of things that in my opinion literature in general doesn’t do often enough.
But then we get into the first four issues and that’s where things…shall we say…makes you feel dirty reading it.  The series starts out with an alien who poses as a stripper to learn things about the men of Earth.  I am not joking about that.  It doesn’t even sound real!  It sounds like some creepy fanboy’s fanfiction or some late night skin flick on Cinemax and for the first few issues it really looks like it was going to go in that direction.  I mean half the time I was expecting the alien chick to start screwing the government agents that were perusing her.  It’s something that is really wired and keeps me from taking the series seriously. 
All I can say about this series is that it does have potential and could get better in the future.  But the first few issues really do taint the whole thing.  If you can look past that, it does get better in the later issues but keep your flamethrowers ready all the same.

Verdict
Browse
(But Keep Your Flamethrowers Ready)



Grifter

            Of all the lines in this section, this is probably the one that I have the least number of feelings on.  It follows conman and former special ops operative, Cole Cash as he battles a race of aliens known as the Daemonites and somehow gets turned into the most wanted man in the country.  All I really have to say about this one is that Cole is a surprisingly compelling protagonist, the action sequences were good, but there was some questionable artwork and a few very contrived plot points.  Mainly, there are a lot of people who just seem to show up out of nowhere with storylines that don’t seem to go anywhere.  It’s not bad I guess but it just didn’t really leave much of an impression on me and I suggest you get your own opinion on it because I just don’t have one.


Verdict
Browse







Deathstroke

            Holy hell!  This one kicks ass!  The storyline, (but who honestly cares?) follows Deathstroke as he takes on various jobs, tries to improve his dwindling reputation, and seeks out someone who may have captured his son and faked his death.
            In a nutshell, this is a line of comics that you can’t help but love.  The best comparison I can make is to the God of War games as this line is very similar to those games in a lot of ways.  The characters are, in all honesty, underdeveloped but you just can’t help but like them.  The fights are ridiculously over the top yet they are just so enjoyable in how insane they are, full of all kinds of gore and insane explosions.  Like Kratos, Deathstroke is a colossal prick but is just so enjoyable in how much the writers revel in it and is an all-around badass character.  The main storyline is also halfway decent as it does explore themes regarding revenge and parenthood and does a decent job at it.
            The only real downside to it is that it’s one of those series that isn’t technically “good” as the story and characters are underdeveloped.  But everything is so enjoyably over the top and awesome that you just can’t help but be enjoyed.

Verdict
Read



Suicide Squad

            This storyline revolves around a team of supervillains known as Task Force X as they take on various high risk missions for a black ops organization of the government run by Amanda Waller.  And good God is this one awesome!  I mean this one just kicks ass in every possible way!  For starters, the characters are incredibly compelling and entertaining, particularly Dead Shot and Harley Quinn.  Unlike some of the other badass characters of the D.C. Reboot, Dead Shot actually seems like a real person.  He’s badass and ruthless when he needs to be but shows that he has a softer side on rare occasions and that he has limits on how much he can take, (there is one incident that seems to have shaken him to his core and I’m curious to see how that will play out).  Then we have Harley Quinn, and holy hell is this one good!  This version is crap yourself scary/insane and damn near does for the character what Heath Ledger and Chris Nolan did for The Joker in The Dark Knight.  I also like the way they re-cannon her origin story as the way they put it together makes a bit more sense than it did in the animated series.  For spoiler reasons I really can’t say any more but trust me when I say, it’s great and from a writing standpoint I really like what they’ve done with the character. 
            The rest of the characters are ok.  Characters like El Diablo, King Shark and Black Spider are good, but like the characters of the original Knights of the Old Republic, only a few really stick out and the rest just kind of fall in.  Some people may not like the fact that these characters aren’t A listers but I think that works to the series advantage, as the threat of death is present where it’s just absent with a lot of the other titles.
            The storylines and how the characters react to them are just as good.  The missions they go through range from taking out a stadium full of cyborg zombies, (which works a lot better than you would think), to taking on a terrorist cell to fighting one of their own and all keep you on the edge of your seat in suspense of what will happen next.  This is also probably the only comic that seems to acknowledge the fact that these people do have physical and mental limits and many characters do die in horrific ways or get physically maimed which adds a layer of tension to the series, (the threat of death always does that).  And the action and art are really good to and unlike all the other series, this is a secret government agency that I can believe exists.
            The only real negative things that I have to say about it are that Harley Quinn’s outfit is….shall we say a little fanboy pleasing and would make the ones in the Arkham games blush.  I also don’t care for the way they more or less established the Killing Joke story as Joker’s cannon story.  Alan Moore was smart enough to leave it ambiguous but everyone just seems to think it’s simpler just to say it happened. 
            All around, however this was an awesome line and is probably my favorite of the New 52.  Its characters are great.  The storylines are great.  The action and art is great and it’s just an all-around great series.  Give it a read.  You will not be disappointed.

Verdict
Browse



O.M.A.C.

            And now we get into the first line of this section that got the ax, O.M.A.C.  So did it deserve this fate?  Did it deserve to be cut off before it got the chance to develop into a full fledge series?  YES!!  I mean, good God!  Can you get any more confused or unfocused then this line?  I mean this is a series that was full of issues that clearly needed more rewrites. 
            Ok let me start at the beginning.  The series follows Kevin Kho as he is turned into a cybernetic creature known as O.M.A.C. under the command of a satellite known as Brother Eye.  But the whole series is just lame.  For starters none of the characters are compelling in anyway as you never get attached to any of them.  Kevin is not a compelling protagonist in any way and by the time the series ends, we know next to nothing about him other then he has some OCD problems.  He just comes off as a character that is along for the ride and doesn’t really have any substance to him.  The same can be said for all of the other characters.  The supporting ones just don’t work and have no depth to them whatsoever.  They try to throw in some in the last issue but it was just too late by then and was a clear attempt to try to get a reader to care about this character for some future plan.
            The “villains” make no sense.  I get the impression that we’re supposed to hate Brother Eye for controlling Kevin’s life but this is rendered moot I don’t give a crap about Kevin or his life.  And other than that, Brother Eye doesn’t really do anything villainous and quite frankly gives me the impression he’s one of the good guys but just has draconian ways of doing things.  The same can be said about his principle enemy, Checkmate.  They don’t really seem bad just a little power hungry.    And as you can probably guess, the plot isn’t that good either.  It’s just O.M.A.C. taking on whatever Checkmate throws at him and whatever monster Brother Eye sends him to kill.  It’s just nonexistent.
The only real good things I have to say about this line are that some of the fights are pretty good and Issue 7 was hilarious, particularly Superman beating the crap out of O.M.A.C.  But other than that this series just sucked.  While not quite as engagingly dull as Red Lanterns, as pointless as Mr. Terrific, or as underwhelming as The Savage Hawkman, this was still an all-around lame line.  Thankfully it was canceled and hopefully we’ll get something new and better to take its place.

Verdict
Burn



Blackhawks

            This is another series that doesn’t leave much of an impression.  It follows a U.N. funded military group as they battle various technological terrorist threats.  And that’s about it.  And again nothing leaves much of an impression.  Not the story, not the characters, not the art or the action.  It just feels very hollow.  But with that said, it really isn’t anything horrible.  It’s just bland and there are a lot of other comics in the New 52 that are worse.  I say take a look and get your own opinion but keep your flame throwers ready in case you decide you hate it.  I just don’t really have anything to say about it and I’m not surprised it got the ax.









Verdict
Browse
(But Keep Your Flamethrowers Ready)








Men of War

            And now we have Men of War, the last in this section to get the ax, and I have to say of all the lines that I’ve reviewed so far this one was the least deserving of it.  The story follows Sgt. Rock on various black ops missions and then switches to an anthology series in the last two issues with one following a British solider then another that follows Frankenstein fighting Axis threats in WWII.
            So why did this one not deserve the ax?  Well for starters, Sgt. Rock was a really compelling protagonist and if this series is worth checking out if for no other reason than to see his story unfold.  The other two storylines in Issues 7 and 8 were excellent.  Seeing this new guy hunt down this terrorist leader was extremely satisfying and interesting.  In Issue 8 it’s awesome to see Frankenstein fighting Nazis and it’s interesting to see how his relationship with a robot named J.A.K.E. formed.  For more info on that, you’ll have to read it.
            But I have to admit, the problems with this series are kind of big.  For starters, the main narrative was pretty incoherent.  The storylines in the first 6 Issues didn’t really make any sense as we had no idea what the objectives were or even who the characters were fighting.  Like the main storyline, we know next to nothing about the supporting characters and it leaves the reader uninvested in them.  The action has a similar problem as it seems like entire panels of what was happening were left out.  The art direction was also kind of crappy as the coloring and looks of the characters seemed to change from panel to panel.
            All around I can see why this one was canceled but of the comics I read thus far it was least deserving and there were other lines that continued that deserved it far more.  Some of it I liked and some of it I didn’t and it’s one line that I suggest you get your own opinion on.

Verdict
Browse



All Star Western

            And now for our final comic of the day, All Star Western, and thankfully I get to end this post on a positive note because this is a really great line.  It follows Jonah Hex and his adventures in post-Civil War Gotham and is divided into three major parts.  The first deals with his battles against a cult that wants to turn Gotham into the Vatican for crime, (that explains a lot).  The second deals with an organization that uses poor children for slave labor for an underground project and the last deals with Jonah fighting an anarchist group known as August 7as they try to destroy factories and ships full of immigrants.
            So what makes this line work?  Well for starters, Jonah Hex is a hell of a protagonist.  He’s badass, he’s ruthless, and he doesn’t care what other people think about him and doesn’t want or asks for help but still hints at much more complex character underneath his scarred fa├žade with his own sense of moralities and justice.  The other major character is Amadeus Arkham who is a great contrast to Hex; a man constantly looking for psychological reasons behind men’s actions, particularly criminals.  It’s very odd paring but the way the two work off each other is just perfect and have a great dysfunctional relationship. 
The tasks the two undertake are also really good as well.  The first and best revolves around the pre-mentioned cult and the less that is said about that the better.  The other storylines are also pretty good if not as good and there are hints that this may lead to Jonah to battle the Court of Owls, (I believe issue 9 revolves around such a battle but I have yet to read it), and I honestly hope that happens.  But the less said about the plot the better because like any mystery the best part of it is in the suspense of what you don’t know.
            The only real downside to this series is that the general art direction is kind of crappy and I can’t help but think that some of the storylines end a little too soon.  But all around this was a great line.  It had great mysteries, great character interaction and as long as you can at least tolerate westerns you’ll like this one as well and is one that I highly recommend that you give a look.

Verdict
Read



            And that’s it for my look at the Edge and I have to say this one was quite hit or miss.  Stormwatch was a great team story, Deathstroke was insanely awesome, Suicide Squad was incredible, and All Star Westerns was fantastic.  But we also got forgettable stinkers or series on the bubble like Voodoo, Grifter, O.M.A.C. and Blackhawks and these, in all honesty I would recommend you skip.  The only one that I would consider a “True Browse” is Men of War as it’s a series that has noticeable pluses and minuses. Take my opinion for what it’s worth and check out those I recommend and burn those I said to burn.  Next time I’ll be concluding my look at The New 52 with the Young Justice section and let’s hope that there are some that prove to be as good as the ones I’ve read here.




















Monday, May 14, 2012

Conan the Barbarian


            Well, you may all hate me for this but I again find myself distracted from the New 52 mainly because of today’s date.  What’s so important about May 14th you may ask?  Well, technically nothing, but it also happens to be the 30th year anniversary of the release of the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian.  As you may or may not know, the film was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger early roles and based on the stories by Robert E. Howard.  And seeing how today is the 30 year anniversary of the film’s release, I decided to take a look back at it and see how well it holds up today.
            As I’m sure you all know, the story revolves around Conan as he adventures across Hyboria and seeks revenge against the cult who massacred his family, led by Thulsa Doom, played by James Earl Jones.  But enough about that.  What makes this film work or what breaks it?
            Well for starters we have an incredibly likeable cast of heroes and an incredibly hate able cast of villains.  Schwarzenegger isn’t the best actor in action genera by any means but he and the writers still manages to make this character incredibly likeable and by the time the film ends, you really care about him and his quest for revenge.  The same can be said for the characters of Valeria and Subotai.  Again, they aren’t particularly well acted but by the time the final act comes around you really care about them and what happens to them.  We also have Mako who serves as the film’s narrator and plays the Wizard, (who they never actually name for some reason) and he is fantastic as both.  His voice is extremely commanding and powerful as the narrator and like the rest of the heroes, he is extremely likeable.  From a story telling standpoint, this film doesn’t have much to offer, but I really do like the way it examines the theme of revenge and how an obsession with it will ultimately give you nothing.
Like any Arnold film, the action is great, (despite some shoddy gore effects), particularly the climactic fight with Thulsa Doom’s private army.  Again, this is amplified by the fact that we actually care about the characters and makes the battle all the more tense.  The cinematography, lighting, and general directorial style all hold up and it’s clear that the people involved were giving it their all.  What left the biggest impression for me personally was the score.  I mean, good God!  Whoever wrote this and put it together deserved an Oscar because it sounds fantastic and complements everything onscreen perfectly.
However, there are some major problems with this film and they do drag it down.  For starters is the plot as it’s pretty weak and it seemed like the writers weren’t sure if they wanted it to be a revenge story or an adventure story.  As a result you get a narrative that just isn’t very strong story and just seemed like a bunch of random events.  Not to mention there are a lot of wired plot holes in the first quarter of the film.  Like, what was up with wheel and how was Conan able to fight so well despite only pushing wheel all life with no combat training?  The special effects and sound editing do not hold up well at all, and you’ll be hard pressed not to notice how fake a lot of the stuff is.  While the dialog was good and the characters were likeable, the acting was really bad for the most part and a lot of what they said just didn’t seem natural when the actors said it.  Even the best actors in the film, (James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow), gave very lazy performances and don’t help the film at all.  Thrusa Doom was also a pretty underwhelming villain and it’s pretty obvious that he had no purpose in this film other than to be a villain for Conan to kill as he didn’t appear to have any major goals.
All around, these faults do drag this film down in a big way.  The narrative is sloppy, the special effects are terribly outdated, and the acting is dreadful.  But despite all of this, it is an incredibly enjoyable film.  The action is great, the characters are incredibly likeable and the score is incredible and knows how to move the film at a good pace.  I think that like a lot of other Arnold films it goes under the guilty pleasure category.  Like the stories it technically isn’t what you would call “good” but it is more than worth ones time and I recommend that you see it at least once in your life.


All Around
6.75/10

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The New 52 Part 5: The Dark


            Well, after a two month hiatus, it’s finally time for me to be a complete nerd once again and finish up the first run of the New 52 and this time we’ll be looking at The Dark.  Now, I’m going to apologize in advance if this article seems a little lax, as their really weren’t too many lines in this section that I loved or hated and as a result, I don’t really have too much to say about them.  Not to mention I read a good chunk of these back in February before I got distracted by Mass Effect and had a good chunk of it written out then.  Unfortunately due to technical problems I lost that entire document and had to start from scratch and I was too lazy to reread all the first five issues of these comic.  I’ll also be including my thoughts on Issues 6-8 as they’ve all come out and it is necessary for my reviews to be valid.   So here it is at last.  The Illusive One’s Review of The New 52 Part 5: The Dark.



Justice League: Dark

            First on our list for the day is Justice League: Dark, and I have to say, this one really impressed me and is, in my opinion, the best line with Justice League in the title.  In the first five issues the plot involves various magic using heroes, anti-heroes and possible villains as they try to stop an insane witch from destroying the world in an uncontrolled fury.  In Issues 6-8 it crosses over with I, Vampire in which they help the vampire hunters of that series stop an ancient evil from taking over the world. 
            So, what works with this particular line?  Well, for starters, the art direction is good and the story moves at a decent pace.  The plot involving magic is fascinating and keeps the reader wondering what will come out next.  The story involving the witch/enchantress was good and kept the reader involved and the second part featured really great action and fantastic crossovers as the editing worked perfectly with I, Vampire.  The characters were also really enjoyable.  Whereas in JL:I they seemed a little to on the light side, and the ones in Justice League were unlikable douche bags, they had just the right amount here.  They weren’t anti heroic enough to where they came off as emo but still not light enough to where I thought they didn’t seem like people.  And that’s what works about them.  They do seem like they are actual people with real problems.
            However, there are some things that will probably keep some people away.  For as fascinating as the magic concepts are, it can get really confusing and at times a little overly complex, and at times you aren’t sure what the hell is actually going on and this does drag the story down.  While the characters are good, they’re another group of C listers and people may not be as interested in them.
All around the problem mentioned above do drag this line down and keeps it out of my Read section as I can easily see why someone wouldn’t like it because of those things.  But even with that in mind, it is the best story with Justice League in the title.  If you can get past the fact that these characters aren’t A Listers, or some of the confusing aspects of the story, then I recommend you give this one a look.

Verdict
Browse



Swamp Thing

            Holy Hell!  This one is good and easily one of the best of the New 52.  Now, to be honest, I went into this line not really knowing what to expect.  I was vaguely familiar with the character and knew that Alan Moore was involved with the early stages of the series, (although contrary to popular belief, he did not co-create it), but other than that, I didn’t know much.  But for a newcomer like me, this line was perfect.  It follows Dr. Alec Holland after he has become human again, (they never exactly explain how), as he is once again call upon to become Swamp Thing to battle and evil force known as The Rot. 
            As I mentioned before this line is great but there were three major things that sold me on it.  First was the mythology and the forces of The Green, The Red and The Rot and how they were all in constant battle with one another.  It was something that kept me engrossed the whole time and was nothing short of incredible.  The second was the protagonist, as he was incredibly compelling and you sympathize with him as well as his not wanting to turn into one of those creatures again.  The third was the villains and just how demented and evil they were.  The art work is also really good, with the gore and Rot creatures particularly grotesque and works with the comic perfectly.
            The only real issue some people may have with this comic line is that it takes a while to get started.  But other than that, it had great characters, great villains, a great plot, great art work, and great concept to tie it all together.  Easily on of the best of the New 52 and one that I highly recommend that you read.

Verdict
Read


Animal Man

            Next on our list is Animal Man, or as I like to call it, Swamp Thing’s Less Talented Brother because that’s the biggest problem with this line in a nutshell.  It basically has the same concepts and villains as Swamp Thing, only not done as well.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  As you probably already know this series revolves around Buddy Baker, also known as the Animal Man as he to battles the Rot for the Red, (a faction of nature mentioned in Swamp Thing), while also trying to deal with the effects his battles are having on his family.
            As I mentioned before, it ultimately comes off as Swamp Thing’s less talented brother, with inferior artwork and concepts that aren’t explained nearly as well or draw you in as much and because of this, you’re better off reading Swap Thing as it’s the superior story.  However, that doesn’t mean that this line isn’t good.  Buddy Baker is a compelling protagonist and it’s refreshing to see a hero who actually has a family and a life and real day to day problems.  The concepts, especially concerning the Red, are good, (but I’ll have to stay vague for spoiler purposes) and do keep the reader engaged.  There are also a lot of creature designs that are very Lovecraftian and I just love it.  And like Swamp Thing, a lot of the Rot creatures are grotesque and I just love the way they consume their victims.

            Again, it’s a good story but I would recommend Swamp Thing before I would go to this one.  On its own, it’s decent, but compared to the former, it’s just ok.

Verdict
Browse



Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

            This series is a little odd to talk about because it has a very bizarre concept.  It follows, (and I am not kidding about this), the Frankenstein Monster as he battles various monsters and organizations for a shady government organization, (how many does that make now?) known as S.H.A.D.E.  The first four issues follows the monster and his team of mutated humanoid creatures as they battle extra-terrestrial creatures who want to consume the Earth, (how many aliens does that make who want to destroy and/or take over the world?).  Issue 5 follows a brief battle with OMAC, Issue 6 and 7, another mutant from Frankenstein’s past and an attempted elimination of S.H.A.D.E., and Issue 8 following the hunting of a creature unexpectedly close to Frankenstein.
            They made great use of the alien creatures in the first four issues and the various ways that they had to kill them.  The art direction is good as is the action and the characters are interesting.  The concept of S.H.A.D.E. is also a decent one but I’m starting to question just how many shady government organizations they can have in this universe, (by my count it’s around five or six).  I also like the way the stories are a bit more episodic and don’t really follow any apparent long term story as it allows the character to fight new creatures and the readers to see new things and I feel that that’s a strength in its own right.
            However the characters ultimately leave something to be wanted and aren’t nearly as fleshed out as they should be and we don’t really connect with any of them.  While I do like the kid of episodic thing they have it results in storylines that leave something to be wanted.  Their doesn’t seem to be any rules regarding the creatures, in terms of what they can survive as we see them go through all kinds of hell and get through it relatively easily and without much harm and this is something that I find really distracting.
            While this one does have some good ideas going for it, I really wouldn’t call it great.  I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is but everything about it just leaves something to be wanted.  But still, it’s a decent enough read and I’d recommend getting your own opinion on it.

Verdict
Browse



I, Vampire

            I, Vampire is a line that I find a little difficult to talk about because I don’t feel much towards this line, (love or hate), and what I do feel towards it is mixed.  The storyline follows vampire Andrew Bennett as he tries to keep his former lover, Mary Seward from wiping out humanity with her army of vampires.  And that’s really all it is in terms of plot.
            So what works about it?  Well, it has great action and the crossovers with Justice League: Dark was well done.   I liked the way they actually made vampires bad guys and had less in common with the vampires of modern pop culture.   The problem that I have with it is that it doesn’t really do anything new.  I just feel like I’ve heard this story before in a dozen different places and I just can’t bring myself to support it because of that.  However, the crossovers with Justice League: Dark in Issues 6-8 make it worth wile and the payoff is pretty damn good and you should read it if only for that reason or if you want to see more traditional vampires and Batman fighting off an army of them in Gotham City.  But other than that, it’s just ok.

Verdict
Browse



Resurrection Man

            I have to admit that when I first heard about the idea of Resurrection Man, I honestly thought it was one of the dumbest things that I had ever heard.  A guy who can’t die?  Well, you could say the same thing about any of the D.C. heroes.  They die all the damn time yet somehow keep coming back.  But then I actually read the comic and holy hot damn was it good.  It follows Mitch Shelly, The Resurrection Man who has no memory of whom he is and has the unusual ability to resurrect after death with superhuman abilities that change after each death while the forces of heaven, hell, mysterious corporations and government agencies hunt him for their own reasons.
            What makes the story in this line work is the great mystery involving the protagonist, who has no memory of who he is which makes him incredibly compelling.  You want to know who he is and find out how and why he has his powers.  The actual story arcs work very well, sometimes taking an anthology route and others that involving people who claim to know him and angels and demons who want to claim his soul.  It’s also incredibly fascinating to see how he uses all these powers and what he’ll have after he dies again.  Finally, the art direction is great as are the action panels.
            The only things that may keep some people away is the fact that the character is a D list one and their area few questionable design decisions, (wired fan boy pleasing stuff with hints of lesbianism).  Other than that, however this is a great line and, in my opinion, one of the best of the New 52.  If you can get past the fact that this guy is a D lister I highly recommend that you give it a read as it’s worth both your time and money. 

Verdict
Read



Demon Knights

            Finally, we have Demon Knights, a line that takes place thousands of years before events of most of the current comics in the Dark Ages.  The storyline follows Jason Blood and his demon counterpart, Etrigan and various other immoral characters included Madame Xanadu, the female Shining Knight, (although the character doesn’t acknowledge being a female so I don’t know what’s up with him/her), and Vandal Savage before he became a big super villain of the D.C. Universe and a few other characters as they try to defend a village from a massive army that is attempting to invade a nearby kingdom.
            Now you would think that given my love for series like First Law or the Shannara series that this one would be right up my alley.  Well….Ok let’s just start with the good.  For starters, the art direction is fantastic with everything looking amazing.  The action is also great, especially when the full blow battle starts in the later issues.  The characters are all likeable and fascinating in different ways, and I think it’s really cool to see some of Vandal Savage’s pre-super villain exploits.  However, it takes a while for things to get started and I found some of the concepts involving Camelot and Merlin to be more than a little confusing and felt that it could have used better explanation and the actual story doesn’t really impress me.  It’s just ok.
            All around if you want to see a fantasy comic line, then you could do a lot worse.  However, I think that if you want a good fantasy story, you better off looking for novels by Joe Abercrombie or George R.R. Martin.  But as it stands, this one is just ok and is one that I recommend that you get your own opinion on.

Verdict
Browse




            And that’s it for my look at The Dark.  It took me over two months but I finally finished them all.  But out of all of them, this one was the least interesting.  I mean, Swamp Thing and Resurrection Man were both great and I really enjoyed Justice League: Dark, but those aside none of these lines really made that big of an impression.  Not that any of them were horrible, but most of them were just ok and I suggest that you get your own opinions on them.  Next time I’ll be reviewing The Edge and from what I’ve read of them so far, they’re frikkin awesome so I’ll probably have a lot more to say in that article.  So until next time, this is The Illusive One signing off.




Friday, May 4, 2012

The Avengers


            Well, it’s finally upon us.  After four years, two great films, two crappy ones and an ok sequel, and a bullshit release overseas before it came to America, the release day of The Avengers is upon us.  So what’s the plot?  Well, Loki, our respective villain from Thor, has come to Earth seeking the Tesseract Cube, intending to open a portal to a distant world which will allow a massive alien army invade and overrun the Earth.  To prevent this from happening, Nick Fury, (Samuel L. Jackson), brings together Iron Man/Tony Stark, (Robert Downy Jr.), Captain America/Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans), the Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner, (Mark Ruffalo), Thor, (Chris Hemsworth), and SHIELD agents Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye, (Jeremy Renner) to form The Avengers to prevent this from happening. 
            Now before I go into what makes this film good and bad, I need to get two things out of the way.  One: It’s not as good as or better than The Dark Knight.  The writing, acting, characterization and themes just aren’t as good.  But I wasn’t expecting it to be and that’s not something you should go into this film thinking.  However, I can honestly say that this is easily the best of the Avenger films, and a contender for Marvel’s best comic book film.
            Now, starting with what they got right, they knocked it out of the park!  Mainly, the characters.  Robert Downy Jr. gave what was easily his best performance as Iron Man.  He’s still funny but his stupid antics are gone and what we get instead is a very serious, dramatic performance that’s still able to put in a few laughs every now and then but never to the point of where it dilutes the performance.  We also finally get to see the arc reactor power something besides the Iron Man suite which was incredibly refreshing, (I was having my doubts that we ever would). 
I may have had my doubts about Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger, but here he gives it his all and turns in a very good performance.  While I’m still not convinced that he is Captain America, he played his part incredibly well.  They also address the relationship issue between Thor and Loki and you do feel how badly Thor wants Loki to abandon his evil ways and be his brother again and you wish he would to. 
We also get to see a lot more of Nick Fury and the various S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and they all come out as three dimensional characters.  We see a much more sinister side of the organization and Nick Fury proves to be the kind of overseer of the Avengers that I knew he was going to be.  We also get to see a lot more of Black Widow and learn a bit more about her past which was a good thing in my opinion.  Hawkeye was sadly underused here but whenever he was on screen he was awesome.  Agent Colson also had a much larger role here and we see a side of the character we never did before.   
            They guy who stole the whole show, however, was Bruce Banner/The Hulk.  I mean, good God!  It took them three movies and three different actors, writers and directors but they finally got him right.  Mark Ruffalo was perfect as Banner and you really got the sense that he was constantly trying to keep this monster in check and it’s obvious that many of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are scared shitless of him.  They also got the look of the Hulk right.  While it was still obvious to me that it was CGI, it was good CGI and there was never a moment where I didn’t think that this thing was real.  The design of it was excellent as well as it actually looked like a giant green version of the actor; something that previous Marvel films failed to do.
            Another thing that really exceeded my expectations was the character interaction.  Now, in all honesty, I went into this film thinking that they were going bicker constantly and act the way The Justice League did in the D.C. Reboot; where they all tried to constantly prove who’s got the biggest junk.  This didn’t happen and thank God for that.  They all acted like adults and any bickering or arguments they had was believable, given their different personalities and situations.  The best interactions easily came from Stark, Banner, and Rodgers who all worked off each other perfectly and I just loved how quickly Banner and Stark became friends.  It was easily the biggest surprise of the film and I am so glad it turned out so well.  Ultimately, they’re all characters that we care about and I am so glad that Joss Whedon did such a great job in writing and directing these people.
            On the technical side of things, the film was also pretty good.  The visual effects were fantastic and I believed almost everything that I saw on screen.  While I think the action scenes could have used some better editing and should have been a bit longer they deliver the good and were a lot of fun to watch, particularity the climax and Thor’s fight with the Hulk.  And like all the other Avenger films, it had a great sense of humor, particularly involving the Hulk in the film’s final act.  Just be ready to bust a gut when you see these parts.
            But this film does have some problems, and I’d be lying if I said that they didn’t distract me.  For starters the first act of the film felt rushed and the main storyline didn’t really amount to much more then Loki and his benefactors are invading the Earth with an army of aliens and it’s up to a dysfunctional team of superheroes to stop them and like the last five has a lot of SSBS in it.  Loki may have been more menacing here but I honestly felt his motivations were better in Thor.  In this film, however, he crosses into one dimensional villain territory which was disappointing.  Chris Hemsworth may have improved as Thor but he still isn’t what I would call “good” in the role.  The explanation on how he got back to Earth was completely half-assed and didn’t amount to much more than “It’s magic bitch.  We don’t have to explain it.”  I also can’t help but wonder where the hell Rhodey was.  I mean, there is an alien invasion going on and Tony doesn’t think to include his best friend in on the matter?  And when it finally started hitting the fan, why didn’t he show up?
            There were also a few action scenes in the first act of the film, mainly the fight between Iron Man and Thor that felt completely useless and could have been cut out of the film all together.  About a third of the sound effects seemed off to me.  For some reason, a lot of gunshots didn’t actually sound like gunshots and explosions didn’t sound like explosions.  It was just odd.  Finally, like all the other Avenger movies, there is a post credit sequel bait scene which is continuing the franchise machine.  I really hate it when movies do that.

            All around, this film was exactly what I was hoping for and more then met my expectations.  Was the main plot flawed?  Yes.  But was it good?  No, it was fantastic.  The special effects were great, the action scenes were thrilling, it had a great sense of humor and the acting and character interaction was fantastic and this is the kind of summer blockbuster that deserves to succeed.  If you like superhero movies, particularly the Avenger films, go see this one.  You will not be disappointed.

All Around
8.75/10

Comic Book Movie Rating
Great