Posts Tagged ‘Comics’

How Abin Sur *Really* Died…

April 14, 2011

Alright, so we’ve all heard the ridiculous story of Abin Sur crashing on Earth, and eventually dying from the injuries suffered in that crash. And, it looks like they are going to continue this charade in the upcoming Green Lantern movie staring Ryan Reynolds.

The story is bologna.

We here at the Steve Austin Book Club have uncovered the truth, and in our tireless efforts to keep you, our loyal readers, informed, we offer this never-before-seen bit of comic book history that was covered up by the Powers That Be!

Behold, the biggest shock since it was discovered that JFK was actually mauled to death by a tiger:

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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.

Micro-Hero of the Week

October 6, 2009

You know, there’s nothing that quite compares to monkeys and apes.  Folks love ’em.

And, when you put monkeys and apes in comics?  That is, like, twice as awesome.

Put that monkey or ape into a comic AND make him a detective?  My friends, that is pure, straight from the fountain awesome sauce.

This week’s micro-hero is the culmination of the amazing formula – Detective Chimp!

Once merely a highly intelligent chimp, Bobo became a full fledged detective after taking a dip in the Fountain of Youth.  The effects of the Fountain gave him eternal youth, amped up his intelligence, and gave him the ability to speak to any living creature.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud to present, EG’s micro-hero of Detective Chimp!

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Micro-Hero of the Week

September 29, 2009

The Red Hulk – or Rulk!  Who is he?  Does anyone even care anymore?

That’s right, folks – Rulk has been around for over a year now, and they still haven’t told readers who he is.  And, while EG doesn’t personally read the Hulk books, OG has been strung along this whole time!  Sucker!

So, this Rulk guy, whoever he is, is the red version of the Hulk.  He is tactical and conniving, and uses mammoth weapons to kill things like the Wendigo and Abomination.  And, evidently, when he gets angrier, he doesn’t get stronger like the normal Hulk… he gets hotter.

Huh?

Okay, whatever.  Here is EG’s Micro of Rulk.

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EG’s Review: The Shield #1

September 23, 2009

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The Shield #1
Writer – Eric Trautmann
Pencils – Marco Rudy
Inks – Mick Gray
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Colors – Art Lyon
Publisher – DC Comics

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(Heads up – there are a couple of spoilers in this review – nothing that I think will take away from the comic if you read it, but I wanted to warn you, just in case you hate any spoilers at all!)

You may have heard that the Red Circle characters were coming to DC. You may not have had a clue what that meant. Then, you may have heard the Archie super heroes were coming to DC. You may have wondered how Jughead in a cape was going to be folded into the modern DC Universe.

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For me, though, when I saw the characters, I thought, “Hey, those are the Mighty Crusaders coming to the DC Universe!”

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And, that is when I got excited.

See, when I was but a young geek, I had the action figures of the Mighty Crusaders. My family wasn’t exactly rolling in the dough, so when it came to little chunks of overpriced plastic (ie, action figures), I didn’t have all that many. When the Mighty Crusaders came out, though, they were significantly cheaper than other figures.

And thus, I had them.

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In all honesty, I didn’t know much about the characters at the time, and very often used the Shield as Captain America and the Web as Spider-Man (which, admittedly, was a bit of a stretch), but I came to really like the toys, and eventually learned about the actual characters and enjoyed them a lot.

Which is one of the heartbreaking things about revival of these characters at DC.

A little while back, they issued four one-shots of the Shield, the Web, the Hangman, and the Inferno (again, I admit, I was less familiar with the Hangman and the Inferno… because they weren’t members of the Mighty Crusaders), and I bought all four.

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Sucker that I am.

The one-shots were pretty crummy, and connected, which meant that if you didn’t get all four, you were missing out on the story. And, if you did get all four, you just felt ripped off.

When the ongoing Shield book was announced, though, I thought I’d give it a chance. The one-shot, while not great, was probably the best of the four, and I was able to get the first issue at a great discount. (In case you haven’t noticed in my previous postings, I’m cheap.) Even if it was crummy, I could pass it along to someone else (Christmas is coming, and I find comics make great padding in packages being sent out!).

I was glad I had read the one-shot in preparation for this first issue of the ongoing. I’m pretty sure I would’ve gotten the gist regardless, but knowing the Shield was an injured soldier, saved by experimental technology via his suit, helped.

In the story, the Shield is sent to locate some Special Ops Units that have gone missing. Unfortunately, they’ve gone missing in an area that is particularly sensitive about costume-clad heroes coming in – the Bialya/Kahndaq border.

(In case you didn’t know – and, spoilers for 52 here – Black Adam, at the death of his wife, Isis, went nuts and killed everyone in Bialya… which explains the sensitivity in the region)

After speaking with the Mullah of the local village, the Shield is led to the location where the missing men are likely being held… and is attacked!

Not by the insurgents, though. He is being attacked by the missing men!

While trying to keep the men from killing the boy that led him to the location, and keeping the boy from killing the men as well, the scene is interrupted by Magog!

Ooh, exciting… except, not so much. This big reveal of a guest star from the DCU in the next issue was… disappointing.

Up to that point, the comic was really intriguing. First off, it had a great feel. If I had to describe it, it would be a nice blend of Captain America, with a bit of Iron Man thrown in. There was definitely a nice military feel, and the Shield was definitely presented as a soldier, but there was also the science fiction element of the suit thrown in.

Even having the men attack the Shield was a bit unexpected, and let the reader wonder what was really going on. But, then, Magog was shoe-horned into the book. And, personally, not being a fan of that character, I was immediately deflated by his appearance.

More than a personal like/dislike of Magog, though, I found that the introduction of a DC guest star was a little early. This book needs the chance to establish what it is before throwing guest appearances in, especially guest appearances from d-level characters. (I’m just saying – who buys a book by seeing Magog on the cover? “Ooh, look, Magog! Gotta have it!”)

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(Wait… seriously?!?)

The art throughout the story was good, and fitting for the book. Perhaps a little too clean, but that could just be that it had the same feel as the most current run of Captain America, and the art style there is darker, which in turn makes me feel that maybe this should be as well.

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Along with the Shield in this book, though, we are also given the back-up (I don’t care if you call it a co-feature or a second feature, DC, it is still a back-up) of the Inferno.

I won’t go into the story there. I read it, and it was “eh” – plenty forgettable and I don’t think it paired well with the main character in the book. The art was fine, but nothing extraordinary.

So, what is the verdict? Well, sadly, The Shield has three strikes against it. Strike one – the abrupt, unnecessary, and unwanted inclusion of a guest star right at the end. Strike two – the Inferno second feature really brought down the momentum established in the main feature of the book. And, strike three – cover pricing a new, unestablished book at $3.99? Really, DC, what are you thinking? Kill the back-up story and bring this in at $2.99!

Even with the strikes, though, I really enjoyed most of the first issue. For that reason, I’m giving the book two and a half Running Steves.

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When it is collected as a trade, I might pick it up, but it didn’t pull me in enough to buy every month.

EG’s Review: X-Men Noir

September 16, 2009

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X-Men Noir
Writer – Fred Van Lente
Artist – Dennis Calero
Letters – Blambot’s Nate Piekos
Publisher – Marvel Comics

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Summary –

Honestly, this is a tough book to summarize. I mean, I’d love to just start with the concept and say, “What if the X-Men were translated into the world of the crime drama of the 1940’s?” But, the truth is, this is no where near that easy to describe.

Nevertheless, I’ll endeavor to give an idea of what goes on in this book..

A body washes up on Welfare Island, a redheaded woman with an “X” tattoo, covered in slash marks, grouped in threes. The “X” tattoo brands the woman as someone that spent time in a reform school run by former psychologist/current convict Charles Xavier. Xavier is in prison after it is discovered that he was training his pupils, honing their criminal abilities. Even without their mentor, though, the “X-Men,” as they call themselves, are still active in the criminal world.

At the scene of the crime, we are introduced to young detective Peter Magnus, son of the Chief of Detectives, Eric Magnus, whose life is turned upside down when he finds out that his father is under the thumb of the criminal organization known as the Hellfire Club, and that the organization essentially runs the city.

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As the story progresses, we see a lot of characters with familiar names, but wildly different personalities than we are used to in the regular Marvel Universe.

Perhaps the key character to the entire story is Thomas Halloway, a reporter and costumed vigilante who seems to be the only one truly interested in finding out who murdered the woman washed up on the island. (If you are up on your Golden Age Marvel, you’ll recognize this as the original “Angel” – a nice nod, given this is an X-Men book.)

The story essentially splits early on, and we are left with one story loosely following Peter Magnus, and the stronger story following Thomas Halloway. The two do eventually come together, but not in a way that seems particularly necessary.

After the completion of the Magnus storyline, we follow the Thomas Halloway as he eventually discovers the murderer, and discover a couple of surprises along the way.

Along with the sequential art story, we are given a prose science fiction story, a throwback to pulp stories, that also references a lot of stories and characters from the Marvel Universe.

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Review –

I’ll admit, I don’t regularly read any X-titles right now, but I’m familiar with the characters. If you are coming to this title expecting “What if…” versions of the X-Men you are familiar with, you are going to be disappointed. For the most part, only names and the slightest essence of the characters are taken from the known mythology and applied to this new setting.

Which, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. It is not a new idea, and has been used with varying degrees of success in other projects (the “Just Imagine Stan Lee…” and Tangent Universe titles from DC, and the Marvel Mangaverse spring to mind immediately), so the concept is valid. The execution, sadly, is not great.

The characters in this story seem to sit on a fence. Instead of breaking completely with the characters of the regular Marvel Universe, the writer gives the characters moments of connection to those counterparts, but it is often tenuous at best. For example – Quicksilver is fast, so there is a line where Peter is referred to as fast… and that is about it. Given that the story is so completely breaking with the “normal” of the regular Marvel Universe, I can’t help but think that a clean break would have better served the story.

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There are also a lot of characters thrown into this story. We are being introduced into this world and narrowing the focus on fewer characters would have let us get to know those characters a little better, which would have been a major benefit to the story.

I also found the split story was a detrement. When I first started reading, I thought Peter was going to be the central character of the story, but quickly learned that his was essentially a pumped up subplot. Had that aspect been removed from the book entirely, allowing more focus on the single mystery where we followed Thomas Holloway, I think the entire story would have been more engaging, and certainly tighter.

The prose story is kind of a highlight of the series, but seems completely out of context with the story. I kept looking for some parallel (other than “Look, here’s another story where we use names from the X-Men universe”), but if it is there, I failed to grasp it. Still, it is a neat homage to pulp science fiction of yesteryear.

As for the art, while the tone is fitting for the work, the figures are stiff. And, while I don’t mind an artist occasionally cutting and pasting a repeated image, in this book it seems to be done a lot. (I love nine panel grid, I really do, but only when it is handled correctly. Using the same image of a head in all nine panels just looks plain lazy, and makes me want to direct the artist to Wally Wood’s famous 22 Panels That Always Work!)

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And (this may be a first for me), I found the word balloons/lettering distracting. It is hard for me to nail down exactly why I found them so distracting, but I think the lettering is too small for the balloons. It allowed for a lot of white space around the lettering, which, given the color tone of the pages, really stood out.

Overall, I found getting through this series difficult, with just an okay story and lots of shortcomings. As a result, I’m giving this one and a half out of five Running Steves.

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I may have dropped it down to just one, but I got the hardcover from the library, and since I didn’t have to pay to read this series, I’m feeling generous!

Preview Review – Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1

August 1, 2008

‘allo, ‘allo, ‘allo!  And what ‘ave we ‘ere?  Why, boil me beef and call me Nigel, it’s another Preview Review!

For those of you not in the know, this is a 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.

Despite the shortage of unlettered pages being offered for preview (a conspiracy, I maintain, directly against this here blog), I, your humble host have manage to procure some pages from the forthcoming Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1.  Wait… #1?  Hasn’t this series been going on for a while?  I thought it was up to, like, issue 20 or so.  Oh, wait… now I get it.  New writer, and Marvel decided to cash in by slapping a #1 on the cover.  I see right through you, Marvel.  Can’t fool me.

Anyway, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane is the heart-wrenching story of Peter Parker, caught in the grip of drug addiction, desperately trying to —

What?

Not about drugs?  A teenage girl in love?

Huh.  Okay.  I could be wrong.  Or am I?  (Just a note – I probably am.)

As I was saying, today we look at Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, written by Terry Moore, art duties by Craig Rousseau, with a cover by Terry Moore and Adrian Alphona.

Let’s see that cover, shall we?

Oh, wow… its so… symmetrical?  Yep.  Main subject posted front and center, grass on both sides, a tree on each side, background pretty sterile.  Hold on a minute – that lampost is only on one side. 

That’s daring. 

Moving of from the general composition of the image, we can take note that New York is filled with actual ivory towers, broken up by only the occasional line or square.  Most folks that don’t live in New York don’t know that.  I can already tell that this comic will be very informative.

And there stands Mary Jane.  Young, innocent, completely unaware that in the future, she will make a deal with the devil and completely screw up Spider-Man’s continuity.

Let’s open the book.

Splash page!  Alrighty, on this first page, we have… well, it look like M.J. is laying on a big canvas on which someone has pencilled a few faces.  And, it also looks like she’s rubbing out some of the images.

You know, that’s irritating.  I mean, someone sets up a canvas, pencils in some light drawings to get ready to paint, and along comes Lil’ Miss “Spider-Man-Loves-Me-I-Can-Do-Anything-I-Want,” who decides to just lay down on the canvass.

Anyway, what else is going on here?  Well, M.J. has a lot of hair.  Don’t get me wrong – very shiny and well maintained (she probably buys some really expensive conditioner), but she could do with a little trim. 

I just realized – that hair is probably why she is lying down.  The weight of it exhausted her.  Now I feel kinda bad for judging her too quickly.  Sorry, M.J.

Aw, she has a cute little Spider-Man doll.  You know, I can’t decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing that Spidey can give a doll of himself to a girlfriend.  I mean, it is neat that those things exist, but it seems a little creepy, maybe a little controlling, for a guy to give a doll of himself to his girl.  I mean, you don’t think that Mario Lopez gives out those Slater dolls to girlfriends, do you?


Let’s just go to the next page.

Splash page!  This comic is going to be a really quick read if this keeps up.  Twenty-two glorious single image pages!  Thirty seconds of entertainment for only $2.99!  What a deal!

On this page, we get to see that Spidey also has a doll of M.J.  I guess that’s okay, kinda like a reciprocal gift of young love.  You know, like when you see boyfriends and girlfriends wearing identical shirts… which is actually kinda nauseating.  But, they are young and in love and do stupid things like that.

I’m not certain why Spidey is crushing one of his model airplanes, though.  Maybe we’ll find out on the next page.

Hold it right there!  That M.J. doll is emoting in this first panel!  Unless that is one incredibly expensive doll, I’m guessing it isn’t a doll at all.  It is Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a., the Wasp!  And, she appears to be dressed up in some sort of Mary Jane costume!  Oh, no… I don’t like where this is headed.

Panel 2, Spidey looks back at Janet.  Say it ain’t so, Spidey!

Then, in the third panel, their eyes meet.  I can’t believe you would do this to M.J., Spidey.  Have you no shame?  Cheating on her, making the Wasp dress up like her… oh, man… this is wrong AND creepy.

The next panel, Janet moves in for the kiss.  I can’t watch this.  It is just so wrong!

Last panel on the page – a reprieve from the creepy, as someone fires a bazooka at Spidey!  He appears to be the same size as the Wasp… which means it must be her husband, Hank Pym, a.k.a., Ant-Man.  How will the superhero community survive all of this?  Hero against hero?  All for what?  The creepy desires of Peter Parker.  It is just disgusting.  Move on to the next page.

Oh… well, that is a startling change of pace.  We are now in what appears to be a classroom, where M.J. is blissfully unaware of the two-timing activities of her love.  We also learn another previously unknown to most people fact – Mary Jane’s arms.  They are gorilla-long.

Seriously, why is she passing that note to the blonde girl to pass to that sulky kid?  I’m pretty sure if she fully extended that arm, she could open the window.

And why is she passing a note to the sulky kid, anyway?  Oh – maybe it is a friendly note to try to cheer up sulky kid.  It really is a nice gesture on her part.

In the following panel, M.J. looks on happily as the blonde girl gives the note to the sulky kid.  She is likely thinking on the coming appreciative smile from sulky kid.

By the next panel, M.J. has returned to her studies, and… a wadded up tissue floats in the air near her head?  Or is it orbiting her head?  I must admit… I’m a bit confused here.  Maybe the next panel will explain things a bit.

Nope, no help at all.  The wadded up tissue has now crashed into the side of her head, irritating M.J., as well it should.  On a quick sidenote – are those walls behind her made of marble?  What kinda budget do New York schools have?

Next page, please.

Okay, it is 11:12 p.m.  (Thanks for the time update, Craig Rousseau!)  In the next panel, we see a tuckered-out M.J., asleep in her clothes among her school books as the TV plays in the background.

Moving down to the next panel – Aghgh!  A mysterious hand on the window!  M.J. is going to get attacked in her sleep!  Quick, move to the next panel!

Uh oh… aw, man… say it ain’t so, Spidey!  Seriously?  You are a Peeping Tom now?  First, giving a doll of yourself to M.J., then having the Wasp dress up as M.J. for your creepy little encounter, and now this?  Man, I haven’t been this skeeved-out about a superhero stalker since I watched Superman Returns.  Ugh!

In the last two panels, we see Mary Jane, completely oblivious to the invasion of privacy, and then Spidey slips away, fearful of being caught.

Thank goodness that’s over!  The entire creepy context of this issue really threw me off.  As such, I can only give it 138 stars out of 15,933 stars.  I like my Spider-Man less stalker-y and more devoted to M.J.

Here’s to hoping the next Preview Review is less icky!

EG, signing off.

Con-ward Bound!

July 21, 2008

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Well, folks, as mentioned briefly in a previous posting, your delightful hosts will be heading out this week to partake in Geek Mecca, aka, the International Comic Con.

Yes, EG and OG, like hundreds of thousands of other geeks, will put down our D&D sourcebooks and Klingon dictionaries, make our way through the labyrinth of 7 foot stacks of comics and trades, venture forth out of our basements (The Light! The Light! It burns!!!), and travel forth unto San Diego, all for the chance to scowl at Dan Didio and Joe Quesada in person!

Now, depending on our hotel’s wireless capabilities, we will be trying to post a bit each day about our adventures while at the largest gathering of stereotypes in the world. So, be sure to check in, and with any luck, you can revel in all the nerdy goodness vicariously through us!!!

Events and a Free Gift from The Steve Austin Book Club

April 29, 2008

It has begun.

Almost like clockwork, Marvel and DC roll out their annual “events.”  This year, Marvel has Secret Invasion and DC has Final Crisis.

I’m not really going to talk about the events.  Not really.

See, I figure they don’t really need a publicity push from me.  By this point, you are either going to buy them or not.

Me?  I’m buying the main series of each, a total of 16 comics (if you include DC Universe 0 with Final Crisis – which I do), eight from each company.

But, if I wanted, I could go broke buying all of the various tie-ins for the two main events.

As of my most recent count, start to end, Final Crisis, if one were to purchase every one of the tie-in books along with the main series, the total jumps from eight up to a shocking (or, maybe not so much anymore) 26 issues.  And, that does not include what Dan Didio refers to as “Sightings” issues – which are signposts, marking important storybeats and moments throughout the DC Universe.  These will relate to Final Crisis, but not directly tie-in.  Even if all of the books were only $2.99 (which they won’t all be – I’m reasonably sure the main issues are $3.99 each), that is over a $75.00 investment!

But, if you wanna really talk about breaking the bank, then hats off to Marvel.  If you were to gather all of the tie-in issues along with the main series for Secret Invasion (NOT including issues referred to as “Infiltration” issues, which lead into the series), you are gonna pick up a jaw-dropping 58 issues before it is all done.  Again, even if all the issues were only $2.99 each (and, again, they aren’t), you are looking at over $170.00!!!

Yeah, I’m buying the main book, but if the story isn’t complete in those issues, too bad.  I’m not handing any more of my disposable income over for these events.  I just won’t do it.

In that spirit, we here at The Steve Austin Book Club would like to offer this:

 
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(Ah, signature banners.  Gotta love them.  For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are images that appear at the bottom of an individuals postings on various message boards.) 

That signature banner pretty much sums up my feelings about events designed to empty your wallet with superfluous issues light on content and heavy in price.  Feel free to click on it and save the full size version and use it at your leisure on the various message boards you enjoy!

And, just a quick note that the Book of the Month review for April, Cyborg by Martin Caidin, is going to be delayed.  OG and EG sincerely apologize for this delay (and, well, the lack of content in general).  With any luck, we’ll have it up by mid-May, so keep an eye out for it.  In the meantime, we will (hopefully) be putting out some more consistent postings. 

Thank you for your patience!