Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Star Wars Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth

by Karen Miller

Book Review by Dan Tres OMi

George Lucas and his gang are really stretching the Clone War era of Star Wars. While the Clone War actually raged for a little over 3 years before Revenge of the Sith (ROTS) there are quite a few stories that need to be told about other Jedi Knights and Clone units throughout the galaxy outside of the Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. However we are told that if the folks at Lucas Arts steer away from this story, no one would buy any books. I guess.

Miller's previously published Clone Wars: Wild Space left much to be desired. It helped explain why Kenobi and Senator Bail Organa seemed close in ROTS but that's about it. While the Clone War Gambit story arc will cover two books, the first installment starts off very slow.

At this point, the war is at a stalemate (more on that later) since the Separatists have figured out a way to disrupt short wave communications between Republic war ships. This has forced the Republic to just hold the ground in several sectors throughout the galaxy and refrain from any offensives. In the meantime, Senator Organa learns that something fishy is happening on the planet Kothlis, one of the many planets that fell during a major Separatist push but the Republic could not assist.

Kenobi and Skywalker are picked to infiltrate Kothlis as citizens and find out why the Separatists are doing on that planet. Of course, Kenobi and Skywalker are way out of their element acting as spies. While the writers could have used several other Jedi to embark on this mission (Quilan Vos would have been ideal) I can understand why Kenobi and Skywalker were chosen. In this instance, Skywalker who is used to swashbuckling his way through any problems, is forced to restrain himself.

While Kenobi has no problems keeping his emotions out of his decision making as a Jedi, Skywalker has always pushed his boundaries. It always made their relationship interesting. In this mission, Kenobi has no qualms leaving innocents to their doom. Skywalker, who was once a slave, refuses to do the same. Both Kenobi and Skywalker get into some major ethical arguments. When Bant'ena Fhernan, a scientist held captive by the vicious General Lok Durd, is forced to help the Separatist design a lethal bioweapon. Although she is forced by the threat of the assassination of her friends and family, Fhernan does not seem to have a dilemma. Kenobi sees her as complicit in the creation of this bioweapon while Skywalker sees her as an innocent victim.

Not only do the ethical debates help the story, this arc also helps to explain why Skywalker had no problems killing Jedi in ROTS. He saw the Jedi as betrayers to the people of the Republic and did not see them as family at all. It makes sense since several members of the Jedi Council did not see him as the Chosen One and treated him as a pariah. When it came to helping wealthy and corrupt politicians, the Jedi seem to eager to help but when it comes to helping the downtrodden, the Jedi always seem to choose the side against those less fortunate.

Overall, the average fan can overlook this story arc. Most fans have a gist of why Anakin turned to the dark side and his feelings towards the Jedi. The storyline is uninteresting so far. General Grievious has yet to make an actual appearance. General Durd is a minor and a character who won't be missed at all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iron Man 2

Review by Dan Tres OMi

As a true comic book head, I have realized that there are NO movies that were produced in Hollywood for the silver screen that can truly satisfy that part of me. While I don't expect Hollywood to get it right in that manner, I do expect a decent movie since comic books is basically about fantasy. Of course there is more to comic culture than meets the eye but let's be real, super heroes and heroines duking it out in tights is fantasy. The only dope movie franchise that is based on comic books is the Dark Knight movies but that franchise deviates from almost all of the Batman story arcs and rewrites over the last six decades (I have yet to watch Kick A$$ so bear with me).

For some reason, Marvel Comics seems to come up short when it comes to their staple super heroes. Both the Spider Man and Fantastic Four movies lack so much in depth, continuity, and writing. The first two Blade installments were probably Marvel's best efforts (even Stan Lee admits in his autobiography that the Blade movies saved Marvel Comics from going belly up) However, the Iron Man franchise has impressed me. While I still find that Robert Downey is not convincing as Tony Stark, I can't front on his acting chops. When you need it, Downey does come through in a clinch.

What plagues the Marvel comic movies is that the writers seem to throw in several subplots and story arcs in each movie. In the X Men franchise this seems to really tear up the movie. It forces the writing to be fuddled and disrupts the continuity. The only exception is the Fantastic Four movies where the plot is kept simple yet somehow it just doesn't work. In Iron Man 2, there are several subplots (ie. S.H.I.E.L.D., Pepper Potts romance, War Machine/Dusty Rhodes, the Black Widow, the Avengers Initiative). Of course, the movie house is doing this to ramp up interest and buzz for the future movies based on Thor, Captain America, and finally the Avengers. It must be noted that for Iron Man, it seems like the writers are borrowing from several story arcs such as Orson Scott Card's rework of Tony Stark/Ironman, Mark Millar's the Ultimates, and the Tony Stark/S.H.I.E.L.D. pre Civil war story line. Although scary, Marvel pulls it off.

The best part about the movie is the team up between Iron Man and War Machine. I don't think the director Jon Favreau could have pulled it off with Terence Howard. I gripped my seat expecting Rhodes/War Machine to talk jive as he peeled off on the battle droids but he didn't. I was so happy. Don Cheadle came off as a respectable equal and not a side kick to Iron Man.
I also noted that Iron Man 2 does not relying heavily on CG as the original did. Most of the fight scenes are done in the evening so the audience does not get lost in high speed robotic antics.

One underlying theme I dug was the idea that one man can only have access to a powerful weapons system and how many people, organizations, and governments are trying to acquire access by any means necessary to that power weapons system. In the comic books as well as the first Iron Man movie, the writers deal with that idea of deterrence. I doubt that the writers were trying to pull a political angle when it comes to nuclear proliferation but it's important to ask who watches the watchers. Stark, an ego maniac as hard as they come, feels that he is stable enough and has the sound judgement to control this dangerous piece of technology. Most people agree with him until someone happens to invent the same platform. Now the genie is out of the bottle. While the similiarities between the Armor War (as it is dubbed in Marvel comics) and the arms race are there, Stark quite easily settles this dispute with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a free comic of our choice to any reader who can tell me who starred as Nick Fury in Marvel's hapless attempt at making a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie -- the memories drive one to drink! Can I get a mindwipe PLEASE!).

My only gripe is that although Mark Millar rewrote Nick Fury to look like Samuel Jackson in the Ultimates (Millar also wrote Halle Berry into Marked) but Jackson just doesn't pull it off. I expected him to say "fothermucker" sometime in there. He didn't come off as by the book, super duper top secret Fury. He came off as a big guy with new toys. Sorry Jackson, you have to go back to the lab on this one. Maybe Millar is reaching when it comes to his fantasies?

Overall, the movie is one of the best and only second to the Dark Knight franchise. Marvel hits it out of the field with this one. It has lived up to the hype (geez, that was alot of hype). I enjoyed the quips made by Stark and Fury when it came to the other heroes who will be on the Avengers roster. I also dug how they played Stan Lee (Stark believes he is Larry King!). The scene with Stark at the Senate hearing is worth the price of admission (wait until you see who the Stark haters are). I must urge the reader to stay until after the credits. It's well worth the wait.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Deadpool Corps #1-2

Written by Victor Gischler
Penciled by Rob Liefeld
Inks by Adelso Corona
Review by sean IS…

Honestly, when I first saw the Deadpool Corp advertisements, I was kinda skeptical even though I am a fan of the solo book. It’s like I saw the concept as a gimmick of sorts. However, I took the gamble and my expectations were surpassed. Anyone who is familiar with Deadpool (exclude the Wolverine: Origins movie debacle) knows that he is a complex, insane, and highly efficient killer who has a penchant for untimely yet rib-hurting humor that surpasses Spiderman. Now take the character that you know, add a band of four alternate universe counterparts, and watch the sparks fly. Each Corps member shares the spotlight with the comedic banter, which is very prevalent within the pages.

Here’s the story run-down in DP’s words, “A giant cloud of mind-eating evil is wreaking havoc on the universe, so I’ve gathered a bunch of Deadpools from alternate realities to kick some cosmic a**.” So far the Corps, contrary to what would be expected, has avoided any major fisticuffs but has found hilariously creative ways to make their first “villain”, a cosmic being known as The Champion, look like an utter buffoon more that once. Did I expect more fighting? Yes. However, when I saw how the group averted physical combat, I was dying laughing. What makes it’s even funnier is the effective use of non-verbal communication drawn exquisitely by the great Rob Liefeld.

Two issues in, we see a motorcycle jacking, alien pick-up lines, cosmic hangovers, and jokes every second. At this pace, I expect the series to continuously appeal to Deadpool followers; however, I am not sure what other audiences will think about the overall quirkiness. If you are looking for an ultra-serious read…this series may not be for you. I do recommend that you give it a shot though.

Issue #1 includes a detailed guide on the background of each individual Deadpool, which is a great resource for any reader. Undoubtedly, many people will need an explanation for the “flying head Deadpool”. Yeah, dude is literally a zombie head with a propeller on it, haha. Check out Deadpool Corps soon and prepare for a laugh fest.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Daken Akihiro - Dark Wolverine #75-77

(okay, I take back what I said)

When I learned that Wolverine/Logan had a son named Daken, I was perplexed. Not to say that Logan can't get his swerve on. At the end of the day, he is human and has desires like the rest of us. To be honest, Logan is over 100 years old. So I am sure Daken Akihiro won't be the last offspring to pop up.

Like his father, Daken has a healing factor. It's a power that I am really kind of sick of. So there was one strike against Daken. It also made me wonder that if he had a healing factor like his father, then he isn't a mutant since there is no genetic variation. Take it step further with Daken's bone claws. I figured he was just another carbon copy (like Dead Pool -whom is really a mixture of Wolverine and Spiderman if you think about it). However, Daken also uses his pheromones to manipulate people's emotions.

Daken, unlike his father, uses deception to control people and pit them against each other. At times, Daken is willing to be defeated to achieve his aims. In the Dark Wolverine series, we see Daken manipulating the Fantastic Four against Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers. This story sold me on Daken Akihiro.

I still have my issues with bone claws and the fact that he rocks a tattoo (how does a guy with healing factor keep a tattoo?). Like any comic book hero (with the exception of Dead Pool, Moon Knight, and 85% of the DC Universe) in the hands of a decent writer, some great stories can be produced.