Archive for May, 2008

Rollerball (1975) vs. Rollerball (2002)

May 30, 2008

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By and large, I’m not a fan of remakes.  I know the goal is to try to capture lightning twice, to get an easy “win.”  All too often, a studio finds a perfectly good (often great) film, and proceeds to “update” it, making something that is, at best, pale imitation of the original, and, at worst, a two hour display of modern movie makers urinating on history.


Sure, there is the odd occasion when a remake is actually good, and the extremely rare case where it is as good as the original, and the almost non-existant instance in which the update is better than the original, but, by and large, remakes are bad.


I have long said, though, that if Hollywood wanted to really impress me, they shouldn’t try to remake great films, but, rather, lousy films.


That’s right – don’t give me a remake of Planet of the Apes; give me a remake of Batman and Robin, a film so bad that it made me want to gouge my own eyes out while sitting in the theater.


Anyway, time marches on, and, as is apt to happen, Hollywood is running out of “great” films to pillage, leaving lesser offerings.


Enter Rollerball.


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Rollerball was a film released in 1975 starring James Caan and John Houseman. 

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Set in the year 2018, the world is ruled by several Corporations that control everything.


Rollerball is the sport of the future, a game designed by the Executives of the Corporations, to show that the effort of the single individual is pointless.  It is played on a circular track, with ten players on each team – seven skaters and three motorcyclists. 


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As the teams move around, a steel ball about the size of a softball is shot out, roulette style, around the top of the track. 


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The teams try to take possession of the ball and deposit it into a goal.  Just that simple.


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Oh, and it is pretty much a no-holds-barred free-for-all in stopping the opposing team from scoring.


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The Executives face a problem, though.  In a sport in which no individual is supposed to rise above the others, one has – Jonathan E.


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Jonathan E., played by James Caan, is the premiere Rollerball player in the world, a ten-year veteran of the sport.

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The Executives decide that it is time for Jonathan E. to retire, and inform him.  Though resistance to the will of the Executives is unheard of, Jonathan finds that he cannot bring himself to retire.

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What follows after that is a steady stream of pressure on Jonathan to obey the will of the Executives, while Jonathan comes to a place wanting more from himself than the futuristic gladiator that he has become.


The movie culminates in a final Rollerball match in which – well, I don’t want to spoil the whole thing.  Suffice it to say, the theme of the individual achievement versus sublimation to the rulers of society comes to a head.


Sound good?  Yeah, well, don’t get too excited.


Now, don’t get me wrong – the movie isn’t horrible.  It is too long and hasn’t aged as well as some other films, but Rollerball’s biggest crime is that it is pretty much just slightly better than mediocre. 


What manages to keep this movie above that line is the acting.  James Caan is good, though he seems to be trying to out melancholy Hamlet at times, and John Houseman, as the Energy Corporation Chairman, is very good.


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(As he almost always is, even when he was on Silver Spoons.)


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The theme of the film is a bit heavy handed, but handled well enough to inspire further thought on the matter even after the film is finished.


One thing is for certain:  Despite my idea of remaking bad films, I don’t think that anyone was really crying out for an update of the film, and yet…


Enter Rollerball, 2002.


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Gone is that pesky futuristic world!  This film takes place in the here and now!  It is loud and in your face!  And it is eXtreme!  Yeah!


*sigh*


Okay, in this version, Rollerball is the big sport of the former Soviet republics.  It is essentially the same kinda sport, but now played on a figure eight track, and the point of the game is not to send a message to the people, but, rather, to get ratings. 

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And to display singer Pink on large screens around the arena.


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The star player of the sport is Jonathan Cross, played by Chris Klein. 


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In this version, there are no Executives, but the sport is run by a crooked promoter played by Jean Reno.


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Evil looking, ain’t he? Oh, yeah, and LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos were in the movie, too.


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So, Jonathan Cross discovers that players are being set-up to die to bring in ratings, and decides that is wrong!


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He and LL Cool J attempt to escape across a border, which is about 20 minutes of your life you’ll never get back filmed entirely in glorious, grainy night vision.


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Yeah.


Eventually Jonathan Cross is captured and forced to play.  Of course, he is now the next target to encourage increased ratings.

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At this point, a film that was barely making any sense degrades into Jonathan Cross somehow starting a social revolution.


The end.


And, what did the re-makers manage to do with this film?


They took the heavy handed, yet still thought provoking theme of the original film of the individual achievement versus sublimation to the rulers of society and replaced it with an even heavier handed theme of greedily capitalizing on society’s bloodlust, a theme that requires no thought.


They replaced good actors (James Caan, John Houseman) with actors whose abilities remind one of cardboard.  Seriously, Chris Klein couldn’t inspire me to blow my nose, let alone revolt against the powers that be.


And, speaking of, the images of Chris Klein so far have been awfully fierce looking.  I mean, come on!  The Chris Klein we have come to know is that dopey looking Keanu Reeves kid.  Remember?


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Where is that guy?  Oh, wait.  Found him!


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Yep.  That’s the dopey guy we know.


Now, back to Rollerball.


Thankfully, the 2002 version is much shorter than the original.  Unfortunately, it feels twice as long when you are watching.


So, while the original film isn’t the greatest, it is a masterpiece compared to the updated version.


On a closing note, the basis of these films was a short story called Roller Ball Murder.  Aside from the ridiculous name of the sport (yeah, “Roller Ball Murder” is the name), it is actually quite good – a first person narrative from the viewpoint of Jonathan E., very much the story of a weary, futuristic gladiator.  If you have about a half hour, you can listen to the whole thing, courtesy of radio show from the ’70’s, MindWebs, the episodes of which have been archived in MP3 form on the internet!

Preview Review – She-Hulk #31

May 22, 2008

Greetings Earthlings!  It is time once again for another Preview Review, wherein I find the unlettered preview pages offered online for an upcoming comic (that I really have no intention of buying), and write a review of the issue based entirely on my perceptions of what is going on.
Today, we look at She-Hulk #31, from Peter David (writer) and Vincenzo Cucca and Barbara Ciardo (artists), with a cover by Mike Deodato.
So, how about that Deodato cover?
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Background?  Who needs a background?!?  Give me a big blank space any day!  Why, all that extra “art” would only serve to detract from the focal point of this cover, which is She-Hulk swinging from that “L” above a group of her adoring fans.
(Maybe you didn’t know, but in the Marvel Universe, Shulkie is, like, more popular than the Beatles.  Its true!)
Oh, and look!  Her fans all have green skin, pointy ears, and chin lines!  Gotta be Skrulls.  I can only take that to mean that this is yet another comic trapped in the vortex of Marvel’s massively oppressive event, Secret Invasion.
You know, it makes sense that Shulkie would have a lot of Skrull guys as fans.  I mean, think about it.  You are a young Skrull guy, and while there may be a lot of attractive Skrull gals out there, they all have the same problem:  chin lines that give off an awfully “goatee”-esque vibe.  Not exactly the most appealing feature.
Enter Shulkie, with that green skin and smooth chin.  Yeah, boy!  Sure, her ears aren’t pointy, but no one is perfect.
Hey!  I just realized who her fans are impersonating!  That’s Jaime Madrox (Multiple Man), from X-Factor!  (Ha!  See, I don’t ALWAYS have to be told who characters are!)  On a side note, X-Factor is the only X-Book I read… and if this means that this event is going to mess that up, I’ll not be pleased.  Anyway, moving on.

Ooh, this preview, along with the cover and interior pages, also included a pin-up!  Shall we take a look?
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By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!  Shulkie’s all manga-ized!  Oh, great.  That probably means that She-Hulk’s new costume will be that of an Asian schoolgirl, she’ll pick up some tiny, overly cute mythical creature as a companion, and before long, she’ll be piloting some giant robot into battle.  Oh, and readers will be forced to read her book from right to left instead of left to right.
What is going on in that picture anyway?  Shulkie is just standing there, all posed, while cars seem to be flying apart behind her.  (Alas, I am vexed.  Should I lower myself to enter here the obvious flatulation joke?  Or should I rise above?)
I suppose Shulkie made a “run for the border” for lunch!
(Come on!  You knew it was coming.)
Alright, let’s check out the first interior page:
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Well, it looks like Shulkie is running toward some arthritic woman.  There’s a lesson for you kids – don’t crack your knuckles, or your hands will end up like that.
Bypassing another obvious gastrointestinal joke, did Shulkie recently get some sort of uncontrollable speed powers?  Look at that path of destruction in her wake!
Next page, please:
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Okay, so the arthritic woman can fly.  She easily dodges the brute force, run-straight-at-her attack from Shulkie.  She-Hulk looks up at her, mouth open.  Arthritic Flying Girl crosses her arms all smug like, as if to say, “What, are you going to ‘scream’ me down?!?”
Suddenly, Arthritic Flying Girl is hit by… wait… is that She-Hulk’s spit?  Open mouth, blast of liquid flying through the air… ew.  Well, I suppose if its in your arsenal you can use it.
Still… ew.
Let’s move onto the next page and hope for less saliva.
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Okay, so Arthritic Flying Girl realizes that she can… you know… “fly”… and gets out of the path of the flying drool.  And then we find out – oh, it wasn’t spit!  Shulkie just destroyed a fire hydrant.  Now, that makes me feel better.  In fact, it relieves me so much I won’t mention A.) the lack of background in this panel, and B.) the bizarre placement of the fire hydrant to Shulkie’s crotch.
Arthritic Flying Girl is ticked at Shulkie.  She’s got on her mean face and everything.  She flings herself at She-Hulk!  And, finally, what we all wait for in any manga/anime project – speedlines!
Wow, those little arthritic fists must be powerful.  I woulda thunk She-Hulk could take a punch from a girl that looks to be a third of her size.
On to the next page!
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Ah, there we go.  Using the forward momentum of Arthritic Flying Girl and… the top panel line from the panel below as a fulcrum, She-Hulk flings her assailant into a car.
Poised to finish off Arthritic Flying Girl, Shulkie is distracted by an eclipse of the sun, which she stupidly turns around to look at.  Didn’t anyone ever tell her that she would burn her retinas out doing that?
Let’s see if she learned that lesson on the next page:
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Oh, luckily, Strong Guy showed up to stop her from looking into the eclipse.  (Yeah, that’s right – Strong Guy.  That’s his super-hero name.  It was the early 1990’s, okay?  Creativity was reduced to slapping pouches onto costumes, issuing heroes leather jackets, and giving them all mullets and a five-o’clock shadow.  So Guido… *sigh* yes, again, that is his real name… ended up with the moniker Strong Guy.  I suppose it could’ve been worse.  They could have gone with “White Ponytail And Creepy Goggle Guy.”)
It does seem that Strong Guy was a little overzealous in averting Shulkie’s eyes from the blinding powers of the eclipse.  He did so with enough gusto to not only crack the pavement, but to also create his own speedlines.
I wonder if She-Hulk will understand he was just too enthusiastic.  Let’s take a look at the last page to find out:
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Oh… well, she appears to be okay with it, just laying there in the rubble, smiling.
In the next panel, Strong Guy doesn’t look too happy.  Oh, maybe Shulkie didn’t say thank you.  That’s probably it.  I mean, he did save her vision… seems that would warrant a little grati–!!!
Great Shades of America’s Funniest Home Videos!!!  Holy cow… I guess She-Hulk didn’t take kindly to the excessive helpfulness of Strong Guy.  Man… he is NOT going to be walking away from that anytime soon.  A guy doesn’t recover from a shot like that very quickly.  What with the pain, the nausea, the headache, the seeing-stars, and the crying… I figure Strong Guy is down for a good hour, and walking delicately home after that.
What have we learned today?  She-Hulk may be fast enough that the vacuum that trails behind her is devastating, causing millions of dollars worth of damage, but she doesn’t have any sort of super-spit abilities… that we know of.  Also, it is good to be helpful, but being too helpful can result in having ice your crotch for a while.
I give this comic 116,204 stars out of 197,385.  I liked the art despite the fact that the artists felt the need to include those pesky “backgrounds” in so many of the panels.
EG Out!

Review: All-New Iron Manual #1

May 15, 2008

They got me.

I hate when that happens.

See, I don’t tend buy comic book one-shots.  Most of the time, they are overpriced and all too often, the “extra pages” included are nothing more than reprints of stories I’ve probably already read.

I’m also wary of projects that come out just to tie-in with movies.

And yet…

*Sigh*

I order my comics through an online service.  It is a great convenience, having discounted comics delivered right to my door (the nearest comic book shop to my house is a 20 minute drive away).  The one disadvantage is pre-ordering and not having the chance to really look at what I’m buying ahead of time.  I am forced to depend on the blurbs put out by the various companies about their projects.

Overall, it isn’t that big a deal.  I know what artists and writers I like, and my track record is pretty good for avoiding pitfalls.

Not so today.  Today, I recieved my shipment of comics, and, sitting atop the pile, is the physical representation of my own stupidity:  All-New Iron Manual #1.

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Yep.  A one-shot designed just to take advantage of the Iron Man film recently released.

So, why didn’t the red flags go up on this project for me?  Actually, they did, but I chose to ignore them.  And, why did I buy a book so glaringly not for me? 

Here is the description of the book that I ordered:

These are the chronicles of Tony Stark: the playboy, the genius inventor, the philanthropist, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the futurist, the hero. This Handbook is the definitive resource to the world of Iron Man, featuring Tony’s closest allies (Happy and Pepper Hogan, War Machine, the Order) and deadliest foes (Justin Hammer, Mandarin, Obadiah Stane)! Includes a complete gallery of the Iron Man armors, plus all-new schematics of key armors and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier!

I read through that description and was unimpressed… until that last sentence.  That last, horribly deceptive sentence.

One of my favorite things about Iron Man is the fact that his armor changes.  Unlike other comic book heroes, who seem to stay with relatively unchanging costumes for most of their existence, Iron Man’s look has updated every few years since inception.

Imagine my thrill about the chance to have a complete gallery of those armors!

So, despite my reservations, despite all the warning signs, and despite the $4.99 cover price, I bought the All-New Iron Manual #1.

I will never learn.

With undisguised excitement, I picked up the comic from my recent shipment, determined to take a look at it immediately.  The cover?  Fantastic.  It brought hope to me for what would be contained within.

I began to flip through the pages.  It was, essentially, what was promised – basically, a lot of entries about characters, pulled from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.  I continued flipping, knowing I would eventually be greeted by an amazing gallery of the various armors used over the years.

Then, I got to the actual Iron Man entry, and beheld the gallery.

And regret set in.

In my dreams, I hoped for a sequence of splash pages, each type of armor brilliantly displayed in detail, one per page.  In more realistic fashion, I thought that maybe I’d get two sets of armor per page, maybe not as detailed or dynamic, but still a nice display.  Bare minimum, I was expecting the gallery pages to be quartered, displaying four armors per page.

Any of those would have been preferable to what I got.

Bordering the Iron Man entry, like guards for the gutter, were a series of armor images, measuring about 1 inch wide by 2 1/2 inches tall.  There are eight per page (one row of four on the top, one row of four on the bottom), with an equal amount of space devoted the text of the detailed history of Iron Man throughout the “gallery.”

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Thirty-nine types of armor, displayed across the top and bottom of five pages.

Yep, Marvel, you got me.  I was expecting an incredible display of the various armors, and you give me thumbnails.

Ha ha.

Jokes on me.

Listen folks, if you are wanting a detailed look at Iron Man and his supporting cast/enemies, this book does deliver that.  If you, like me, were hoping for more in the way of art, save your five bucks and go visit The Iron Man Armory, which has better images of most of the armors anyway.

 

Big Mac & Me

May 15, 2008

“Don’t worry Mac, this delicious, refreshing Coca-Cola is just the thing to revive your dying, alien parents!”

1988’s classic “Mac & Me” is famous for two things…

 

1)  Being a rip-off of “E.T.” (which was originally entitled “E.T. and Me”)

 

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2)  PRODUCT PLACEMENT!!

 

Well, three if you’re like me and you count it as one film in director Stewart Raffill’s 80’s trifecta of masterpieces.  (“Ice Pirates” and “Mannequin: On the Move” round out that brilliant trinity, by the way)

 

Anyway, the product placement, which is quite obvious in an prolonged sequence in a Sears as well as Mac the alien’s exclusive diet of Skittles and Coca-Cola, reaches it’s apex in an extended, out-of-left-field dance sequence/musical number at a McDonald’s starring Ronald McDonald and culminating with Mac (incognito as a large teddy bear) dancing on the counter and running out the door to flee evil government operatives. 

 

But, this isn’t just the height of product placement for this film in particular.  No, no, no.  This, dear ones, is pretty much the height of product placement for all of filmmaking history.  In fact, it gets to such a surreal and mind-shattering level that having watched the below sequence now as an adult I am more convinced than ever that this is really the work of some subversive filmmakers embittered by studio interference and sinister marketing executives that decided to turn the lemons of product placement into the lemonade of pop art. 

 

How else can this be explained?  What dark, shameful, behind-the-scenes story must be behind the creation of this sequence?  What horrors must have gone down on the set of “Mac and Me” the fateful day that this was shot? 

 

I can hardly imagine it.  But, enough of my rambling.  You watch this right now and imagine for yourself what circumstances led to this, one of humanities darkest days…

Captains, Captains Everywhere…

May 9, 2008

 

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SPOILER WARNING!!!

HEREIN, THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES AND/OR INFORMATION THAT MAY SPOIL THE FOLLOWING COMICS:  CAPTAIN AMERICA 25, CAPTAIN AMERICA 34 THROUGH 40 (WELL, ACTUALLY, JUST THE COVER FOR 40), SECRET INVASION 1, AND  AVENGERS/INVADERS 1 (AGAIN, JUST THE COVER).  SO, IF YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW, STOP AND TURN BACK.

LAST CHANCE.

DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

As most of us are aware, Steve Rogers, Captain America, was killed in March of 2007.

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And, shockingly, he stayed that way.

Months passed and there was no Captain America.  Oh, there were teases thrown out about the “new” Captain America.  Anyone remember these travesties?

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But nothing real.  In fact, much to the credit of writer Ed Brubaker, there appeared on the newstands and in the comic shops eight issues of the Captain America comic in which there was NO Captain America.

Don’t get me wrong – it was a feat.  But, as OG could testify to, I was getting antsy during that time.

See, I’m a big Captain America fan.  Loves me some Cap, you know?  Well, as good as the comics were, I was growing really tired of buying a Captain America comic and not getting to see the adventures of the Star-Spangled Avenger.

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I even contemplated dropping the title and picking it back up when a Captain America finally appeared again.

Through this time, OG held my hand (figuratively), assuring me that Cap would return.

Finally, after 10 months, word came down:  Captain America would appear again in issue 34.

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Sure, it wasn’t MY Cap, but at least it was Captain America.  Shiny, but still, there was much rejoicing for me.

Then it started.

About the same time, it was also announced that Captain America would be returning.

What?  Didn’t I already say that?

Yeah, exactly.

This next Captain America WAS my Cap… sorta.  Marvel announced the Avengers/Invaders 12 issue series, in which the original Invaders were going to be transported through time to the present day Marvel Universe.  Among those Invaders was, of course, Steve Rogers, before he was frozen and thawed out in modern times, before he was time tested, before he was an experienced leader.

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Interesting.  I was fascinated at the concept, and began looking forward to the series.  I don’t know if the new Cap and the time-transported Cap will meet in the series, but I think it would be pretty neat.

So, there I was, happily reading the monthly Captain America book and looking forward to the Avengers/Invaders series… and it happened again.

In Captain America 36, I was shocked (as, I would guess, most people were), when, at the end of the issue, a body is found in a stasis chamber of some sort… and it is the body of Steve Rogers.

And, just for fun, take a look at the cover of 40:

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Uh, yeah.  I KNOW!

Sure, I can make a bunch of guesses as to who or what this might be… but that’s for another discussion.

Just when I thought I couldn’t be further surprised, though, I read Secret Invasion 1, and near the end of the issue, we are treated to a ship openning up and seeing a familiar face:

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So, if you are keeping count, in the main Marvel Universe at the present time, there is not one, two, or even three people claiming the mantle Captain America, but FOUR.  Quite a cumulation of Caps, wouldn’t you say?

And that’s not even counting these alternate reality folks running around:

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I gotta say, this whole thing is starting to seem very familiar to me.  Death of an icon, huge amount of media attention, four coming on the scene with claims to the name… hmm… what does that remind me of…?

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Oh, well, I’m sure it’ll come to me eventually.

If this does go the way of that event from the Distinguished Competition, then I’m all for it.  It means I’ll get my Captain America back.  And, hey, He’s already got a black version of his suit that he can reappear in!

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Review: Dave Sims’ Glamourpuss

May 5, 2008

Okay, true confession time:  I’ve never read Cerebus.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been a mainstream comic guy.  Still am.  Now, though, I’m more open to independent projects.

Still, though, Cerebus is something that I’d like to get around to reading at some point.

My friend OG mentioned that he also missed out on Cerebus, but that he was jumping on board with the new Dave Sim project, Glamourpuss.
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I have another confession to make:  The more I heard about Glamourpuss, the less I wanted to pick it up.

The bits and pieces I heard about it were not exciting me.  The idea of a satirical book made up of drawings based on the models of women’s fashion magazines?  Wow.  So not my cup of tea.

Honestly, it felt more and more as if this was turning into some sort of self-indulgent vanity project, that Sim was taking advantage of his Cerebus fans to purposefully put out a book, completely without a market, just because he could.

Yet, my curiousity about the project could not be denied.  If there was to be a disaster, I intended to be there to gawk at it.

This past week, I recieved my comics in the mail (thank you discount online ordering services!!!), and among the stack of spandex covered superheroes was Glamourpuss.
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In a time when my curiosity often makes me regret plopping down my hard-earned cash on new comic projects, Glamourpuss turned out to be a real surprise.

It was good.

It was more than good.  It was fantastic.

What I had feared would be a mediocre satire turned out to be more of a personal examination of the photo-realistic line art of such artists as Al Williamson, Stan Drake, Neal Adams, and Alex Raymond.

And, yet, it wasn’t merely a clinical and dry examination of the art styles or the men.  It felt very much like having a conversation with a knowledgeable fan, who as he talked, took out a piece of paper to demonstrate what he was talking about.

Throughout the book, Sims demonstrates the styles used, not by merely photocopying the images and pasting them in (because the copies have been reproduced so many times that the details are all but lost), but by actually tracing and redrawing them, diversifying the line weight in his best guess of what the original was.

And, as he does so, the project takes on a very personal feel of an artist trying to grasp the techniques of a style that is all too seldom seen.  Glamourpuss is a journal recounting this voyage.
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Oh, there are aspects of the satire within the book.  And, while it is competent enough, it is more of a window dressing to the book.

Here I am, I’ve come this far, and I haven’t really talked about the art itself!  If you are only concerned about the art in your comics, don’t worry.  You will not be disappointed in this book.  It is really, truly beautiful stuff.  By examining the art under the guiding explanations of Sims, you will take even more from it.

Is this a self-indulgent vanity project?  Yeah, it really is.  It certainly isn’t a “traditional” type of comic book.  And, if Dave Sims was not Dave Sims, there is little chance anyone would have ever heard of this book.  That said, even though it is a self-indulgent vanity project, it is a really, really good self-indulgent vanity project.

If you haven’t checked it out, you should.

Preview Review – Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1

May 1, 2008

Uh oh!  Looks like it is that time again – another Preview Review, wherein I find the unlettered preview pages offered online for an upcoming comic (that I really have no intention of buying), and write a review of the issue based entirely on my perceptions of what is going on.

Today, we look at Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1, from Paul Cornell (writer) and Leonard Kirk (artist), with a cover by Brian Hitch.

Wow!  Without further ado, let’s take a look at that Brian Hitch cover!

 
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Uh… yeah.  That’s Captain Britain.  Yep.  There he is.  You know, I’m not looking to be spoiled by the covers on my comics, but I would like to see something pertaining to the story contained in the book.  Maybe I’m jumping the gun a little here, but unless the story involves Captain Britain rescuing someone from a random graphics department or Brian Hitch’s sketchbook, I’m guessing the images don’t have a lot to do with the story.  Oh, wait – I do see a guy with lines on his chin.  Ah, that must be the clue to tell us that the issue will have something to do with Skrulls, shapeshifting aliens from space!  Well, that image along with a year of promotion from Marvel basically telling us that Skrulls are everywhere.  Okay, let’s move inside the book.

 
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Ah, right there!  See?  I told ya!  Skrulls.  Clearly, Captain Britain is being attacked by two Skrulls here.  One, obviously more accomplished at his shapeshifting abilities, is combining the forms of Ghost Rider, Iceman, and… uh… Hawkman.  Wait – Hawkman is from DC, not Marvel.  There you have it, True Believers.  The Skrull problem is so bad that it is even infecting and drawing from the Distinguished Competition.  The second Skrull, being less experienced, is making an attempt to look like Morbius the Living Vampire.  Poor kid.  Someone really should take him to the side and tell him that the green skin and pointy ears really work against the disguise.  But, he is trying, so we should give him credit for that.  Maybe this whole issue is about Skrulls in training, hmm?  Next page!

 
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So, Captain Britain pulls the ultimate version of every big brother’s favorite game, “Why are you hitting yourself?”  The Skrull, using his own Iceman powers freezes his Ghost Rider head.  With speed-lines… for some reason.  You know, I would think that the Skrull could adapt to that, but maybe this guy is not as good as I first thought, because in the very next panel, Captain Britain shatters his skull into a few thousand pieces.

The second Skrull, now ticked that his teacher is headless, attacks C.B. (because typing Captain Britain over and over is getting tedious) with renewed vigor!  Along with his Morbius attempts, he is also now… furry… and his arms are on fire.  Again, give him credit for trying.  Still hasn’t got that whole “head” thing down, though.  Hard to fool anyone when your head is still pretty much Skrull, you know?  I mean, say you saw what you thought were your parents, and they looked dead on like your parents in every way, but their heads were all green with pointy ears.  Do you really think you’d be fooled into believing those are your parents?  But, that’s why we have these training missions, I suppose.

Anyway, fuzzy-flaming-arm-Morbius Skrull holds hands with C.B. and then… flies away.  And, it looks as if C.B. is just as confused as I am.  Good.  I hate to be alone in these things.

With the Skrull leaving, C.B. decides to call it a day, flying off until his services are required again, when those in need cry out in desperation.

Gee, I hope all those injured people down below don’t succumb to a horrible death, engulfed by the surrounding flames and all.  Too bad there wasn’t someone around that could maybe get them to safety, perhaps a superhero with the gift of flight… and general awareness of his surroundings.  Oh well.

Hey, in that last panel, is that woman realizing she could have had a V8?

Next page!

 
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Aw, great, now I gotta turn my computer monitor on its side.  Okay.  Just a minute.  Alright, there we go.  Uh oh… here we have some real trouble.  Skrull on Skrull in-fighting.  With oodles of speed-lines!  Looks like another teacher/student thing.  The student, completely looking like a Skrull, obviously did something to deserve getting stabbed by the teacher Skrull, who has mixed the forms of Marvel’s Black Knight, and Arthur Fonzarelli, aka, Fonzie.  Oh, no – wait, I got it wrong.  This wasn’t a fight at all.  Black Knight-Fonzie Skrull must have told the other Skrull to shapeshift into a scabbard for his sword!  The student Skrull evidently couldn’t do it in time, but by the time Black Knight-Fonzie Skrull realized it, he was already slamming his sword into the supposed-to-be-a-scabbard Skrull.  What a shame.  Looks like there is no way supposed-to-be-a-scabbard Skrull will recieve Black Knight-Fonzie’s top grade – an “Aaaayyyy!”

I… I’m sorry.  I apologize, okay?  Even I can’t believe I typed that.  Quickly, on to the next page before my shame crushes my spirit completely.

 
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Hey, its Firestar!  I used to love watching Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends!  Wait… that’s not Firestar?  Well, who is it then?  Doesn’t really matter, I guess.  Anyway, Not-Firestar appears to be running really fast (thanks to the visual cue of, yes, speed-lines) while talking on a cell phone.  If she was paying attention to what is going on, she would notice that a couple of Skrulls-in-training are blasting… architecture.  Whatever.

Ooh, and its time, once again, for everyone’s favorite game of “Guess which heroes the Skrulls are imitating!”  Okay, that first one, all silver-y… I’m going out on a limb and say Silver Surfer.  Ooh, and he’s got winged ankles!  That’s Namor!  Obviously, there must be someone else, too… but I don’t know who.  Is it a cosmic character?  I’m not really familiar with cosmic characters.  Well, yeah, I mean, Silver Surfer, but EVERYONE knows Silver Surfer.  Jumping over to the other Skrull… now, THAT is a combo.  Thor, big-gold-suited Iron Man, and the Wasp.  Let me just say, though, someone really needs to sit the Skrulls down and explain that if the chin lines don’t give them away, the “mixing-up-of-heroes-body-parts” will.

Anyway, Not-Firestar leaps up to the Namor-Surfer Skrull.  I can only assume that one of the landmarks that the Skrulls destroyed must have been a cell phone tower.  She’s probably really upset about the dropped call.  Well, I can understand, I mean that is really irritat–

Great Shades of Elvis!  Not-Firestar is a vampire!!!  Wow, Namor-Surfer Skrull is even more shocked than I am!

Ooh, a silhouette!  Isn’t it amazing how a nice silhouette can tone down the violence of Vampire-Not-Firestar ripping 3/4 of Namor-Surfer Skrull’s neck out to acceptable levels for the general reading audience?  Hold on… 3/4 of the Skrulls neck is gone?  Vampire-Not-Firestar’s mouth is NOT that big.  Wait!  I get it!  It was the sharpness of Vamprie-Not-Firestar’s hair as she flung her head back that nearly decapitated the Skrull.  Wow… that must be some amazing shampoo that she uses.

Uh oh… look at Vampire-Not-Firestar’s eyes.  As an avid watcher of vampire films, I know what is coming next.  Quick, Iron-Wasp-Thor Skrull, run!  Her bloodlust has been awakened!  Don’t just stand there in shock!  Run!

Oh no.  Too late!  Here she comes, really fast… which I know, thanks to the inclusion of speed-lines!  Quick, next page!

 
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Huh?  Oh… well, I guess we’re back to C.B. and the Morbius Skrull.  Morbius Skrull begins by waving his stinky, fuzzy feet in C.B.’s face.  With speed-lines.  He follows with a punch.  And speeed-lines.  Nice combo.

Oh no!  Vampire-Not-Firestar is back!  With speed-lines!  Is there no end to her desire for liquid life?!?

Oh… and they are joined by three other… beings.  Okay, that top guy… Skrull?  Maybe.  Channeling… Man-Bat and Clayface?  I don’t know.  The other Skrull is doing a bad impression of Hyperion.  The other guy?  Uh… Keanu Reeves maybe?  Man, it is getting too crowded in this story.  Maybe it would seem less crowded if there were fewer speed-lines.  Let’s move on to the last page.
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Okay, we’ve got Keanu Reeves blasting the Skrull in the neck, surrounded by speed-lines, while Vampire-Not-Firestar dodges the blast by running in the same direction as those speed-lines.  (Don’t ask why the speed-lines are in front of her, merely accept them.)

Then Man-Bat-Clay Face Skrull (floating among speed-lines) is watching C.B. punch Hyperion Skrull.  Maybe he is wondering (like me) what happened to Morbius Skrull, who C.B. was fighting on the previous page.

Oh, and then C.B. claps his hands in front of Hyperion Skrull’s face (of course, creating speed-lines)… for… some… reason…

And the whole thing is resolved as C.B. punches the head off of Hyperion Skrull, scattering speed-lines across the page.

The next page probably shows Vampire-Not-Firestar feeding on the carcasses of the fallen Skrulls, as Keanu Reeves and Captain Britain react in horror.  And, yeah, Keanu Reeves says, “Whoa.”  And there are some speed-lines.

Hmm, this was an interesting read.  A lot of vampire stuff (Morbius Skrull, Vampire-Not-Firestar), which appeals to me, so that’s good.  I would have liked to have seen more of Black Knight-Fonzie Skrull.  Ooh, and if they could have crammed in some more speed-lines, that would have been nice.

Sadly, I can only give this issue 433 stars out of a possible 2572 stars.  Why?  I simply could not read the story fast enough to appreciate the speed-lines. 

See ya next time!