Posts Tagged ‘Book’

Wonder Woman: The New Duds Revisited

April 1, 2011

EG: Alright, folks, it isn’t that often we revisit a topic, but that is EXACTLY what we are doing today. What earthshaking developments have taken place that drive us to do so?

Wonder Woman.

That’s right, folks. Our pleas, in part have been heard. In the most recent images released from the upcoming TV tragedy of epic proportions, Wonder Woman, the costume has been changed.

I’ll say it again, slowly: The. Costume. Has. Been. Changed.

Thanks to the very comments and concerns expressed right here on this blog, the Steve Austin Book Club has convinced the Dark Forces working on this series to (at least partially) fix the costume.

OG: Huzzah!!! Er, well, that is, Partial Huzzah!!!

EG: I’m sure that some of the other bloggers out there that made some comments had a slight impact on the decision as well, but I’m hereby claiming credit for this advancement in the voice of fandom for this blog. We, OG and EG got this done for you, our people.

You are welcome.

OG: Yes, that’s right! Big shot Hollywood muckety-muck David E. Kelly and those ninnies at NBC have buckled under the mounting pressure from our rarely updated and virtually unknown blog! OUR INFLUENCE CANNOT BE DENIED ANY LONGER!!!

EG: So, let’s take a look at the updated costume!

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EG: There she is, determinedly running! First off, let me say, I know it isn’t perfect. The top is still shiny. I still wish they’d gone with a more dull, leather-like top. But, look at the improvements – the pants are darker, and no longer made of vinyl. And the boots! We got the red boots! And not the hooker-heels that the blue boots were! That right there was such a vast improvement I can almost forgive the shortcomings.

OG: Indeed, on the whole, it is a significant improvement. The only reason I wish they had held their ground on the original costume is that we could have seen shots of her running awkwardly in vinyl pants and trying to jump up on cars in stilettos. Certainly the comedy of that would have been delightful!

EG: But, I did mention shortcomings. With the replacement of just the pants material/tone, the costume now seems a bit less cohesive. As much as I didn’t like the shiny elements of the original picture released, the costume had a flow to it. Yes, a cheap Halloween-esque plastic-y flow, but a flow nonetheless. That said, I still think this is better.

OG: ‘Tis a very good point EG. It does look very much disjointed. But, with such a short span of time between the initial release of the original costume image and these new images, I think the changes they made were the only ones they could do on the quick.

On a side-note, as much as I celebrate our victory in getting them to make changes, it is clear evidence that they don’t have a firm creative vision for this show nor the confidence to stick to their guns that such a vision would give them. And, with it being NBC, it feels like Heroes all over again – Changing and modifying their show based on the whims of fandom ultimately results in an even worse product. Does that make any sense?

EG: I get what you are saying, but I think you have to consider that this is *just* a costume modification, and not necessarily an indication of any lack of vision. Frankly, I’m more inclined to believe that they released the images just early enough so that they could make modifications based on fan reaction. If you think of that as an affirmative decision, it becomes less wishy-washy and more tactical.

And, if you are paranoid like me and follow that line of thinking to a darker conclusion, maybe those initial image drops were released *just* to get the fans to react in the way they did, that these changes were always going to come down the line, but now the studio can claim they actually listened to fans…

What? Too much?

OG: Anyway, putting that aside. What else?

EG: Nitpicking, I really do wish they’d gone with the silver on the boots instead of the gold. But, that is such a minor concern, it doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Along that same line, the stars on the pants would stand out more in silver as well.

OG: Hmm, I can see what you’re saying and certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. But, the gold does fall in line with the iconography of the character, making a revised look to the character still fall within the bounds of what we expect from a Wonder Woman costume.

EG: But, let’s take note of the other aspect of this show we are seeing in these images – Wonder Woman is running. That implies that there is actually going to be action in the TV show! As an occasional viewer of Smallville, I’m used to a superhero show that barely has any action most of the time, and this show, we are already seeing action! I’ll admit, I feared, given David Kelly’s record of doing mostly courtroom dramas, that we’d never get around to any superheroic action scenes, so I’m suddenly filled with cautious optimism for this show.

OG: Well, we probably shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. This is the Pilot after all which is generally a more action-y affair in this type of show anyway. I don’t recall the Smallville Pilot (I believe the only episode I ever watched) but I gotta think that had some promising action in it as well. Also, running? Really? I mean, isn’t this situation tailor-made for Wonder Woman to show off her lasso skills? Ah, looks like I found another nit to pick. Please, carry on.

EG: Hey, how about a clip from the filming of the show?

OG: Let’s do it!

EG: Yowch! Busted knees are never fun!

OG: I have to say, she looks 1000 times less silly in action then I thought she would. Apparently, this ain’t just gonna be Ally McBeal with tights. That said, the shiny top does look significantly goofier in action than the pants. Despite that, it’s pretty encouraging overall.

EG: It does bolster my pie-eyed optimism. I know it isn’t much, but I did expected so little.

OG: Me too. But, I have to say, though we have no context for this clip, I do get worried in any superhero project where the hero/heroine is chasing some random thug. I like my superheroes to fight dudes that are equal to or even superior to them in ability. Of course, he mounted that last car with a lot more skill then she did (she looked pretty winded, right?), so I should probably reserve judgment there.

EG: Before we finish, let’s take a look at two more images. First, this:

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EG: Now, that’s not even right. I know that Adrianne Palicki is more attractive than this bizarre shot lets on. I’m just saying – not an attractive angle.

OG: I’m going to venture to say that Ms. Palicki has probably already lodged a complaint about this angle. Yikes.

EG: And, finally, this image:

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EG: I don’t know if this photo was darkened on purpose, or if it was just the particular lighting, but, wow, this image shows the potential for awesome this costume has. The colors in this one are dead on what they should be for the live action, the shine is more easily overlooked, and the flow of the costume is much better. If this is how the costume comes across on-screen, I’ll be thrilled!

OG: And, that’s not counting the wonders (I think this leaves me with 4 or 5 more crappy puns for the year based on the strict new crappy pun policy we put into effect recently) they can do to the color and look in post production enhancement work. So, I’m thinking this aspect of the show will be the least of our worries.

EG: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m starting to actually look forward to this series. I know the potential for it stinking is huge, but, seriously, the makers listened to geekdom about the costume. They WANT this show to be successful, they WANT to please the fans. How often does that happen, people? I mean, seriously? For that reason, I’m going to watch this show. That’s right – I’m declaring right now that I’m going to watch this show, good or bad!

OG: I’m with you. But, I must reiterate my concerns about how wishy-washy they’ve proved themselves to be already. But, you are right. A certain amount of respect for the fans opinions is healthy and can lead to a better show. No doubt. I just hope that outside of the costume they have a fresh and interesting take on the world of the character and give us something worth tuning into each week. So, I’m going to go ahead and join you in some good old-fashioned “cautious optimism.”

EG: For the changes to this costume, I’m driving my rating four and a half Running Steves. If the red bodice were changed to a duller leather look, I’d make it five in a heartbeat.

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OG: I’ll bump from 3 ½ to four. They can certainly still change the top after the pilot is done and I’ll gladly revise upwards should that happen.

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EG: Alright, Mr. Kelly and NBC… you’ve got us… can you hold on to us?

Wonder Woman: The New Duds

March 20, 2011

EG: Welcome, all, to the All-New “We’re gonna reboot this blog again” Extravaganza here at the Steve Austin Book Club. No lousy excuses here – we (OG and EG, your unreliable hosts here at the SABC) are bad people.

Not serial killer bad or kick-your-puppy bad, but easily-distracted-from-this-blog-and-not-post-anything-new-for-more-than-a-full-calendar-year bad.

Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

OG: I actually think our lack of posting is quite beautiful. Think about it – despite our numerous bionic upgrades, we are still deeply human. Just because our blogging abilities are cybernetically enhanced doesn’t mean that we aren’t also imbued with the inherent flaws of Original Sin. Also, we plainly suck.

EG: Anyway, what could POSSIBLY cause us to jump back into this? What event of geekdom would push us over the edge from our regular thoughts of “we really should bring the SABC back” to actually putting butts-to-chair and doing it?

This:

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EG: It’s… it’s so… shiny. Uh… yeah.

OG: When my browser first loaded the image I actually heard the squeaking of vinyl before I saw the costume.

EG: In case you didn’t know, David Kelly is making a new Wonder Woman TV show for NBC, and the info that has been leaked about the show, up to this point, has been… underwhelming.

OG: Yes, in defiance of everything that Marvel Studios is doing to create a seamless film universe populated by their great panoply of characters shown in contemporary and dynamic ways, Warner Brothers (not counting the Batman films) is doing it’s level best to meet the demands of the late 90’s with the filmed versions of the heroes of DC!

EG: Now we get this costume. Don’t get me wrong, as a red-blooded American male, there is an… appreciation for this costume, but…

OG: Yes, EG. The gal is truly fetching and she has “wonder”ful attributes that make her a real stand-out in the role! (I hate myself for typing that) And, to really make a statement of who this character is, I see that David E. Kelly made the effort to order a Wonder Woman costume from Target’s expansive collection.

EG: You know, it does look a lot like one of those “Deluxe Sexy Superhero Costumes” that come out for women to slut around in every Halloween.

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EG: The bad thing is… the one for Wonder Woman is actually less over-the-top than the new TV show costume.

OG: But, what they both have in common is their complete look of having been bought at a store. But, I’m being too negative here. I mean, I do want to say that I think there are things they’ve done right here. Kind of.

EG: I think I understand what is happening here. This entire thing is the nefarious plot of Jim Lee to get the public to accept, nay, CELEBRATE his redesign of the Wonder Woman costume.

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And, you know what, OG? It is working. I almost wish they had gone with this costume for this TV show.

OG: I agree completely. I actually liked his design of the character and feels like it is almost tailor made for live-action. And so, I do applaud the inclusion of some of the elements. From what I understand of the plot for the new series, it is going to be more of a street-level superhero story and to that end, they started in the right direction but apparently felt the need to split the difference by bringing in more of the shiny, dare I say cheesy parts of the iconography.

EG: OG, I know you don’t watch Smallville…
OG: It is one of the few things in life that give me true pride.
EG: …and, really, I only catch about two full episodes a season, but they actually put Lois Lane (Erica Durance) in a Wonder Woman-esque costume that I really liked:

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Now, I don’t mean to be snide (actually, yeah, I do), but when Smallville, the show that put Green Arrow in a hoodie –

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And Superman in black trench coat –

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Manages to come up with a better costume, you know you are in trouble.

OG: Not bad at all! I like the more leather look. Reminds me very much of what Marvel Studios is doing so amazingly right (at least from what I’ve seen) with the Captain America costume. I mean, in some ways Wonder Woman has a lot in common visually with Captain America. They have really in your face, bombastic, brightly colored, symbolically rich costumes that are hard to translate to film. Perhaps this is a good time for you to reach in to EG’s Treasure Trove of Superhero Costume Photo Reference and show us what Captain America looks like when done oh so very wrong…

EG: I only live to serve:
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EG: In an effort to be positive, though, let me say that the DESIGN of the costume is actually pretty good. I like that they went with pants… sorta… well, fully-covered legs, anyway. I like that they went with the recognizable and classic bustier. And, while I like the shade of red used in the costume, the blue could stand a little muting, perhaps some darkening… but it is hard to tell from the glare! I think, if they could have de-shine-ified them (yeah, I made that word up), I’d appreciate the entire costume a lot more. The costume really isn’t *that* horrible.

Except the boots. The blue boots do not work. Hey, OG, wanna see this costume become about 90% better?

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EG: There. How’s that?

OG: If you were to tie me up in your lasso of truth (please don’t) I would be forced to say that this is amazing! You almost completely fixed it. Mute the colors on the costume and then make it the more leather look we discussed earlier and you’ve got yourself a PERFECT Wonder Woman costume for the screen, which makes me a little hopeful. I mean, lit and photographed correctly, many of the more obnoxious aspects of the costume (brightness & shininess primarily) might be mitigated. Assuming they do that, the only other pitfall they’d need to avoid would be getting someone like the creator of Ally McBeal to run the show. Now that would be a travesty!

EG: Well, we can only hope! Actually… I have to admit, after looking at the costume for a while, and changing the boots, I could really see something like this working.   I’d really like the colors toned down to the tones in the Smallville version.  Let me take a try at that:

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I still hate the shiny, latex-look, but the whole thing is growing on me.

Or, maybe it is just the fact that I’ve been looking at the image of a beautiful woman dressed up in a shiny latex Wonder Woman costume long enough that I don’t really care anymore.

OG: Well, while my first reaction was 100% negative I have to say you’ve kind of won me over here. I’m not hating it. In fact, I’ll go ahead and give this costume 3 fully loaded Running Steve’s.

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And, just to go on the record, I’ll go ahead and give the show itself a presumptive ZERO Running Steves. Really predicting “Birds of Prey” levels of craptitude here man.

EG: I’ll second the three Running Steve’s, and I’m gonna say that people will be wishing Birds of Prey was still around to cleanse their palate from this doomed version of Wonder Woman.

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NBC, feel free to surprise us and produce an amazing show… but don’t expect us to be holding our breath.

EG’s Review: World War Z

October 23, 2009

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Alright, peoples, you’ve waited long enough to hear about this one! The Steve Austin Book Club is back, and more extreme than ever! Or, perhaps that is Xtreme! Mayhaps we should rename ourselves The Xteve AuXtin BooX Club, as an indicator of our new hip and happenin’ ways!

Or, not.

Anyway, this is the review of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. This review is apt to spoil the book, so if you haven’t read it and want to, you may want to skip this. There will be SPOILERS-A-PLENTY! If you have read the book, feel free to leave a comment!

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Now with the preliminaries out of the way, sit back and enjoy!

World War Z is a collection of the post-Zombie War rememberances of indidual survivors throughout the world. It is ten years after the official end of the war… a time to look back. The book is presented in a series of personal stories/interviews with individuals discussing their roles and reactions as the world was plunged into a panic and near extinction of the human race. Using these personal stories, the audience follows as the events of the Zombie War are revealed in pieces, from its start within the borders of China, to the various steps taken by governments throughout the world in attempts to protect their borders, through battlefields where traditional tactics are found lacking, to the eventual steps toward survival, which rely on plans for each nation to virtually abandon most of their citizens. The stories come from average individuals, politicians, military personnel, corporate leaders, slackers, etc., etc., etc.

And… that’s about the sum of it.

Let me start this by saying that the concept of this book is genius. I loved the premise and the style used. As an avid fan of the History Channel, I could really see this story being told through the account of eye witnesses just as much of their programming does. If there is any downside to that, it is that I think that this is one of those few occassions where the upcoming film based on this book may surpass the book in effectiveness. Why? Because the biggest complaint I have about the book seems to be a near universal complaint about it – while we are told that the stories come from various individuals, the vast majority of the stories are very much in the same voice, seemingly from the same individual. That is why I think the movie has the advantage. The various actors will lend their own spin to each vignette, allowing the audience to see a greater variance than what was afforded in the book.

I did appreciate the fact that the author knew his audience. Very little time was spent dwelling on what zombies are and trying to explain them away. Instead, he worked from a standpoint of “the people that pick this book up know what these creatures are.” It was nice to not have the lodestone of origin dragging the book down.

Now, the downside. Without an establishing of the specifics of the zombie of this book, we don’t have a firm enough idea of what these zombies are really like. And, it seems that the author forgets as well. There are times when we are told that zombies eventually decompose, and yet we are confronted with zombies in several instances that seem to have survived locked up in abandoned homes for years, no worse for wear. We are told that frozen weather will freeze zombies, yet they can walk unencumbered along the ocean floor, which rests at right about 32 degrees. (Fun science fact: the ocean, being salty, doesn’t freeze until the water hits about 28.5 degrees. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.)

There also seems to be a real lack of knowledge about military weaponry. The idea that modern weapons would be less than effective against the undead is really hard to believe. The shrapnel described in the book always somehow managed to avoid hitting the zombies in the head. There is a reason that the militaries of the world issue metal helmets to their soldiers.

I can go along, to some extent, with the laughable actions of government during a situation like this, but the overall political commentary in the book is hack-kneed and blunt to the point of near rhetoric. Everything is too surface, no depth.

I was also unimpressed with the two types of people that we were presented with in the book: the noble hero and the scummy opportunist. There didn’t seem to be any other degrees of personality. I understand that a tragedy can be a polarizing event, but there are more shades to people than this, and not having those shades made almost all the characters boring and relatively two-dimensional.

Which, now that I think about it and re-read my last complaint, is the problem I have with the book as a whole. For all the supposed individuals “interviewed” in the book, there just isn’t enough to any of them. The characters are flat, which is really what makes them all sound the same. Perhaps if the author had focused on fewer stories, we could have had a more in depth character study of each. People aren’t simply noble or evil… they are far more complicated than that.

The book wasn’t terrible, but I expected and wanted so much more from it. As I mentioned, I’m really hoping that the actors in the planned film are able to bring that little extra to this project that is sorely missing in the book. For the potential of this book and the concept, I’m giving it two and a half Running Steves.

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And, here’s to hoping that the film gets moving from development limbo and into actual production!

Secondhand Selections: Sphere by Michael Crichton

October 2, 2009

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Greetings, faithful readers, and welcome to another new feature here at The Steve Austin Book Club – Secondhand Selections!

What is Secondhand Selections? Recently, EG was in a thrift store (We’ve established he is cheap, right?), and came upon a shelf of books. As he started looking through the books, he noticed that there were several science fiction and fantasy books among the myriad of diet books, self-improvement books, and thirty-year-old textbooks.

Considering that the average paperback now rings in at $7.99 and up, the chance to pick up a couple of books for a dollar or less appealed to him!

And, thus was the seed of this feature planted!

The rules are simple – the books reviewed in this feature have to be purchased either at a resale shop (thrift store, Goodwill, whatever). It is a chance to prove that there is cheap, literary treasure out there to be had! Or, on the other hand, there is a chance that reading some of these books might also explain how they ended up abandoned to a resale shop.

Now, let’s get to it, with the very book that EG picked up on that day when the concept of this feature was born: Michael Chrichton’s Sphere!

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This review was written with as few spoilers as I could manage and still give you, the reader, an idea of what the book was about. I’m pretty sure that you’ll be reasonably safe reading this review, but if you don’t want to know anything about the book, STOP NOW!!!

Overview:

In the middle of the South Pacific, a spacecraft is located near the bottom of the ocean floor, and, based on the surrounding environment, it has been there for at least 300 years. The ramifications of the find spur the U.S. Navy to proceed with a top secret plan written during the Carter Administration, titled “Recommendations for the Human Contact Team to Interact with Unknown Life Forms (ULF).” The author of that plan, psychologist Norman Johnson, is called in, along with mathematician Harry Adams, biochemist Beth Halpern, and astrophysicist Ted Fielding, as the civilian team to assist Captain Harold Barnes as they investigate the finding.

The team sets up shop one in an artificial underwater habitat, and soon begins exploring the mysterious ship that yields yields more questions than answers – such as, why are all the signs on the ship in English?

In the exploration of the ship, the team locates a large, perfectly polished silver sphere about 30 feet in diameter, and completely alien.

Approaching storms require the team to return to the surface, but, before they leave one of the team members does the unexpected… and enters the alien sphere.

Unable to evacuate, the team is stuck as the storms come and they are cut off from the surface world until the weather clears. Eventually, the team member that entered the sphere comes out of it.

And, that is when things start to get really interesting, as an unknown entity begins to contact them.

Review:

I have to admit something – I saw the movie Sphere in the theater in 1998. And, I have not thought of it since then, other than to think, “Well, that was a waste of money.”

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In that case, why did I pick up this book? We all know that, generally speaking, books tend to be far superior to the films made of them. I’m not knocking film, it is just really difficult to transform a tapestry woven over 300 pages or so into a 90-minute film. As a result, a lot is lost… or changed.

Sometimes, the film can be pretty good as well, and then you seek out the book, which is what I did with a little art film titled Jurassic Park.

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I liked the movie, and a lot of people told me I should read the book, because it was even better.

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So I did. I read the book, and it was great. It was also different from the movie.

When I came across Sphere at the thrift shop, my immediate thought was, “blech!” Then, I realized two things: My feelings were based entirely on the film, and Sphere was written by Michael Crichton, who also happened to write Jurassic Park. Based on that, I decided to give the book a chance.

The book is, overall, a page turner. Crichton knew how to connect with the reader, as proven in his other books, and it is no different here. It also picks up speed as it goes along, until the reader is nearly racing toward the end. (That’s something I really like to feel in books.)

Despite some pretty “out there” concepts of science (and, by “out there” I mean both complicated and suspect), the book was accessible throughout, due in a great part to choosing as the main character Norman Johnson, a non-scientist that asks the questions that the reader has almost as quickly as the reader comes up with them.

Sadly, the other characters in the book tend to be one of two options – two-dimensional or non-existant. The other members of the team recieve the two-dimensional fill out in characterization, while other characters seem to simply be until they are no more. I can’t say for sure if this was by design, so that the reader latches onto Norman even more, but it does tend to make some of the dramatic moments of the book less impactful, because we don’t have an attachment to other characters.

The action sequences are well-built throughout the book, and do have that sense of urgency needed to drive the reader forward. Thankfully, it is written so that the reader doesn’t get too hung up along the way with techno-babble. I’ve read some books that get focus on that so much that you feel like you are reading a technical manual!

There are, though, some massive lapses in common sense that pop up throughout the book. As an example, when the characters worry about running out of air in the habitat waiting for the storms to abate, I immediately found myself asking why they wouldn’t go over to the spacecraft, which had already been shown to be able to support them.

Another problem is that there are some unexplained jumps in logic that are made. Toward the end of the book, there is a character that, despite having been unconscious for more than 12 hours, seems to be completely up to speed on what is going on upon waking, leaving the reader going, “huh?”

I think the biggest disappointment with the book is the ending, which is a little too simple, almost trite, in how it ties up all the loose ends. In that regard, the reader is left unsatisfied.

I don’t mean to be hard on the book. It isn’t bad, it really isn’t, and it is very exciting at times. And, trust me, it is sooooo much better than the movie. It just wasn’t as good as I wish it had been.

For that reason, I’m giving the book a solid two and a half Running Steves.

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And, maybe, since I haven’t seen the movie in eleven years, maybe I’ll watch that again and let you know how I feel about it in more detail sometime!

Preview Review – Cable #16

September 25, 2009

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That’s right kiddies! It is BACK!

Welcome to the Preview Review, wherein I find the unlettered preview pages offered online for a 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.

And, what do I have in store for today? Why, nothing less than the majestic wonder that is Cable #16!

(Ooh… ahh…)

Yes, my friends, gather ’round, and let’s take a look at this masterpiece provided to us by writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Paul Gulacy. First up, the cover by Dave Wilkins!

Cable #16

Let’s see… looks like we have a little kid, most likely a girl is my guess… mostly because she seems to have that look of the “big eyed girls” that was prominent in outsider art of the 1960’s.

That’s right, scoffers! I have an art degree and I’m not afraid to use it! Sure, I could have gone for the lazy reference to anime/manga for the size of the eyes, but no! I went all historical! Ha!

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the cover. Anyway, the little girl is standing there, wearing a pair of boots that, based on the size, must come from Guy Gardner’s closet of the late 80’s/early 90’s!

Really? I’m the only one that gets the reference? Fine, here, take a look:

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See?

Anyway, the little girl appears to be standing in front of Cable, drawn from Picasso’s Blue Period.

Ka-Zow! I did it again! Another zinger courtesy of my art degree! Ha ha ha! It makes it all worth it – the years of study, the student loans I’m still paying back, the virtual uselessness of the degree in an actual workforce…

(On a blog, no one can see you cry…)

Alright, so, the kid is in front of Cable (I know its Cable, because, a.) the massive gun, b.) the large number of pouches, and c.) I lived through the 1990’s.). Cable is… I’m going to say that Cable is encased in a giant block of ice.

And, given how he’s standing, the cold front must have moved in fast. Maybe one of those “superstorms” we saw Jake Gyllenhaal running from in The Day After Tomorrow. Which means that Cable, despite being a superhero, can’t outrun Jake Gyllenhaal.

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(Wow… he’s got some crazy eyes, huh?)

I’m not sure what purpose that knowledge will ever serve, but now you know, and knowing is half the battle. GI JOE!

Given the cover, I can only assume that this comic deals with the kid trying to free Cable from the block of ice… a plot that makes me flashback to the film atrocity known as Batman and Robin, and thus makes going any farther a less than inviting thought.

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And, yet, I must! On to the first page!

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First panel! Ah… well. Hmm. It seems that the guy with the metal arm… Colossus? No, he has black hair. Oh, wait, white hair! That must be Cable! I see pouches and a gun!

Okay, so Cable is… assaulting a little person in the ruins of a building? That doesn’t seem right. What happened to the little girl from the cover?

What? No, that can’t be the little girl from the cover. That is *clearly* a woman’s head on that wee body, not a little girl. Although, she does appear to be wearing the same outfit at the girl from the cover.

So… confused… already… move… to… next… panel…

Alright, see, I told you! That is NOT a little girl. Maybe it is the little girl’s mother, and they have matching outfits. Oh, and she is ticked because Cable is getting fresh.

But, man, take a look at that head of hair on Cable. That is some nice, thick, well-maintained hair. Even in the midst of a building in ruins and fighting with a little person, Cable remembers the importance of looking good for the odd camera angle.

Next Panel!

Look! Cable and the little person are posing for a boxing match promotional poster! And starting to glow blue? Hmm…

After the poster shoot, it looks like the little person has fought off the advances of Cable with a mighty kick that looks to have crushed his sternum. And, again with the blue glow… why does that look so familiar?

Last panel of the page an — wait a second! I understand it now! I know where I’ve seen that blue glow! Quantum Leap! The little person appears to be leaping! Leaping from life to life! Striving to put right what once went wrong! And hoping each time that the next leap… will be the leap home!

Wow, I didn’t know that this was happening in Cable comics! I LOVED the tv show Quantum Leap! If I had known that it was picked up in the Cable comic, I’d have been there from the start!

Woo hoo! I’m suddenly much more interested in this comic! I wonder where the little person will leap next? Maybe into a police officer in the early 80’s, or a high school freshman of the 1970’s, or maybe a grandmother in the 1990’s…

Let’s turn the page and find out!
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Ha ha! Too bad, Cable! The little person Leaper is getting away! No more of a chance for you to try to work your charms on her!

And the next four progressive panels, we see the continued leap. Strange, I never really noticed Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap having such a look of distress on his face when leaping. Still, by that third panel, I can almost hear the Quantum Leap theme song, “Do do, doodoo, do do, doodoo…”

And the leap seems to be almost over, wonder where we will end up! Next!

Hey… wait a second. Why are we back with Cable?!? We were going to leap, following the adventures of the little person bouncing around in time! She got to leap away, and we get stuck with what? A Cable comic? C’mon… how is THAT fair?

Those last two panels on this page are fitting. Yeah, Cable, we are with you. We thought we were going to get a great Quantum Leap story, too… but now… just the sad, pathetic knowledge that the leaping little person is gone, and we are stuck here… alone… with you.

Turn the page. It has to get better, right?

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Huzzah wha-? Did I miss where the ground went out from beneath Cable? No, I didn’t. Okay, then we are climbing to… the next panel…

Ah, here we go. Cable was climbing to get to the rooftop of some building… because as a moody character, he’s required to look over the vast decay of the environment and brood? Sure, why not?

You know… that’s a lot of debris on that rooftop. Its like someone actually had to carry it up to the rooftop. I don’t know why they would do that, but that’s what it looks like. And, right there, in the center… is that a tire rim? Why in the world would someone carry a rim up there?

On to the next pan – Augh! Oh, wow… I was not expecting a close-up of Cable’s giant, sweating dinosaur head. Gee willickers, a little warning next time. Let’s just move on… that milky-white eye is creeping me out.

Now it appears as if there is a dust storm on the rooftop. And the silhouette of two large bones. Maybe there is more in the last panel…

Hmm… seems the bones weren’t bones, but hydraulics. Wait, I get it! Rims, hydraulics… this rooftop was the domain of nomadic Lowriders!

You know, coincidentally, all my friends love a lowrider.  They really, really do.

Okay, let’s turn the page.

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Alright, now, here we have Cable saluting in front of a wall of junk. He probably thinks it is fitting, since a lot of that junk looks like it could have once been some of the massive guns he carries. Ooh, and his hand is glowing! Maybe he’ll finally get to leap and find that little person!

Oh, and look! A little inset of sand castles. Lovely. Not really sure why it is there, but lovely nonetheless.

Just under that, Cable poses, showing off his gun, pouches, and firm buttocks. His hand is still starting the Quantum Leap. Must be a delayed reaction.

Sliding over to the next panel, another close-up of Cable and his milky-white eye. Sheesh, that’s creepy. But, it seems he’s finally noticed the leap is starting! Almost time to travel through time!

At the bottom of the page, we have… Cable rending his clothes? Huh? Hold on, I know what is going on. The blue glow of the leap is spreading, and Cable thinks he has to strip naked to travel in time like in those Terminator films. Someone should explain to him that Leaping doesn’t really work like that.

Alright, how about that last page? I can’t wait to see Cable assume the identity of a diner waitress at a truckstop in 1978!

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Oh, guess I was wrong. Seems that Cable leapt into a black guy in… well, it looks about the same sort of place that Cable was already in. Oh, and what irony! This guy also has a metal arm, but it is on the opposite side that Cable’s normally is.

And, a little inset of debris. Wonder why they focused on tha —

Holy smokes, Cable’s using the debris to tear into that metal arm! Cable! Stop! I know, this wasn’t the most excited leap in time, but trying to force another leap just isn’t the answer!

In the next inset panel, Cable, frustrated, seems to be ripping the metal arm off. That seems extreme.

And, finally, we are presented Cable, in profile, grimly accepting that leaping can’t be forced. There are things that have to be put right before you can leap… a lesson we all learned in the Quantum Leap episode entitled “Double Identity.”

And, if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.

(To the other three people on the planet that get that reference, thank you.)

Well, that was quite a little adventure. Sadly, there was NOTHING in this about Cable being encased in ice, which was disappointing. Plus, there at the end, they completely messed up the Quantum Leap stuff, because in that show, Sam only *appeared* to be the person he leapt into. He was actually still himself. So, Cable tearing into that arm with the debris? Yeah, that would have been him tearing into his actual flesh arm. And, that is kinda sick. I can only give this 218 stars out of 18,716 stars. I really think I’d have gone higher if we’d followed the leap of the little person that was escaping Cable.

That’ll do it for now. See you all at the next Preview Review.

*EG, enveloped by a blue light, leaps away!*

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.

 

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.