Weekly Comic Book Review http://weeklycomicbookreview.com Your source for comic book commentary Thu, 19 May 2016 17:00:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.8 Batman #52http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/19/batman-52/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/19/batman-52/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 17:00:47 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48214 Batman #52

How do you end an era?  Quietly, it seems, at least so far as DC Entertainment is concerned.  Not with a whimper or a whine or even a sigh.  The era of the New 52, the age that began so controversially and in some ways successfully with Flashpoint, is drawing to a close with considerably more dignity than foreseen by T.S. Eliot.  Indeed, it may yet end with a bang.  But, for the moment, the DC Universe approaches Rebirth at a steady, even stately, pace devoid of apocalyptic panic.

Interestingly, the Batman books are closing in on this juncture with a notable lack of angst and darkness, at least as compared to the current situation with the Superman and Green Lantern books.  There have been hints that the new world of the DC Universe will see an emphasis on more social heroes enjoying more positive relationships.  If that is true, and I am reserving judgement until solid evidence rolls in, then some kind of transition from the more bitter world of the New 52 is in order.  Batman #52 provides such a changing point, an opportunity to pause and survey what is most important about the character and his world.

This issue tells a one-shot story featuring a vaguely defined villain named Crypsis who has outfitted himself with super-science technology that provides the ability to teleport and phase through walls.  He uses this equipment to steal a journal out of a vault in an obscure Gotham bank.  To cut to the chase, the journal belonged to the young Bruce Wayne, and contained his observations on how to recover from the tragedy that scarred his life.  As Batman pursues the villain, the story is intercut with scenes of Bruce's training.

But it is the young Mr. Wayne's pithy observations that give us an insight into the character of Batman, or at least those aspects of it that might be important going forward.  "Don't let anyone else leave you," is a spear of pathos, while "disappear" and "make them feel what I feel" resonate with determination, anger, and fear.

The post Batman #52 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batman #52

How do you end an era?  Quietly, it seems, at least so far as DC Entertainment is concerned.  Not with a whimper or a whine or even a sigh.  The era of the New 52, the age that began so controversially and in some ways successfully with Flashpoint, is drawing to a close with considerably more dignity than foreseen by T.S. Eliot.  Indeed, it may yet end with a bang.  But, for the moment, the DC Universe approaches Rebirth at a steady, even stately, pace devoid of apocalyptic panic.Interestingly, the Batman books are closing in on this juncture with a notable lack of angst and darkness, at least as compared to the current situation with the Superman and Green Lantern books.  There have been hints that the new world of the DC Universe will see an emphasis on more social heroes enjoying more positive relationships.  If that is true, and I am reserving judgement until solid evidence rolls in, then some kind of transition from the more bitter world of the New 52 is in order.  Batman #52 provides such a changing point, an opportunity to pause and survey what is most important about the character and his world.This issue tells a one-shot story featuring a vaguely defined villain named Crypsis who has outfitted himself with super-science technology that provides the ability to teleport and phase through walls.  He uses this equipment to steal a journal out of a vault in an obscure Gotham bank.  To cut to the chase, the journal belonged to the young Bruce Wayne, and contained his observations on how to recover from the tragedy that scarred his life.  As Batman pursues the villain, the story is intercut with scenes of Bruce's training.But it is the young Mr. Wayne's pithy observations that give us an insight into the character of Batman, or at least those aspects of it that might be important going forward.  "Don't let anyone else leave you," is a spear of pathos, while "disappear" and "make them feel what I feel" resonate with determination, anger, and fear.

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The Ultimates #7http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/19/the-ultimates-7/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/19/the-ultimates-7/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 16:59:08 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48219 The ULtimates #7

The average episode of Seinfeld had two to four intersecting plots running simultaneously. Despite this, the show was famously criticized and celebrated for being a show where “nothing happens.” It was clear, it wasn’t that nothing was happening, it was that none of what was expected was happening. In this respect, The Ultimates is a lot like Seinfeld. It’s the book where a whole lot of “nothing” happens.

This issue is a particularly strong example of that trend. It’s not uncommon for The Ultimates to completely eschew a traditional fight based structure, however, there isn’t even the usual exploration and Super Science, at least not from the team itself. Instead we get something that so often is cause for complaint in comics, an inventory issue.

This issue is very much about taking stock and setting up future plot threads, but it does so in a way that is exhilarating and energetic.

As DC has seemingly striven to focus on smaller crossovers that only affect a few books, Marvel has tackled the challenge of integrating books into event storylines head-on. My standard example of this is Cullen Bunn’s Magneto, but it’s perhaps not surprising that another shining star in this regard was Loki: Agent of Asgard. The Ultimates #7 is clearly from the same mind, as it seamlessly integrates the concerns of “Civil War II” into the larger plot of the series.

And just as important, Ultimates 7 also provides a fantastic jumping on point for new readers and Civil War completionists. In twenty short pages, Ewing and Rocafort not only introduce readers to the cast of characters and their interpersonal dynamics, but present some shockingly complete views of their personalities, at least as they exist for this title.

With the multiversal stakes of this series providing ample reason for dramatic tension, the characters are free to show us their convictions and where they strain under pressure. Make no mistake, we’re seeing some of the dark sides of these characters. Carol’s impressive limits have been crossed and she’s having an existential crisis, Dr. Brashear may not be capable of the responsibilities his power set comes with, T’Challa is appropriately imperious and unilateral for an absolute monarch. While these may be unflattering elements of these characters, Ewing does a great job of showing extreme situations that cause them to act this way. The result is a feeling of connection to the characters that can go forward with readers, regardless of, but clearly with a mind towards, “Civil War II”.

After a month away, it’s interesting to have Kenneth Rocafort back. In many ways Christian Wards brief stay with the Ultimates helps identify what Rocafort brings to the book. After all, there’s no denying that Ward’s wild indie reputation suits the type of book Ewing is writing, at least better than Rocafort’s more action-packed resume. However, with this issue Rocafort is focused on doing what he does best, drawing sleek, organic futurism and making it look sexy.

Rocafort approaches every panel like a print, a moment trapped in time with its own questions and tensions and, most of all, rhythm. At times that can actually leave a page with a feeling of chronological disconnection, but the clarity and strength of the storytelling usually outshines it. Plus when Rocafort actively employs this, as in a number of multi-panel compositions, it can become a significant part of the issue’s artistic appeal. Take a look at the Anti-Man’s therapy session if you want to see what I mean.

The only serious problem with the art is that distance can become dangerous. Ignored detail or detail scaled down too far can leave some panels looking awkward or muddled.

Dan Brown’s colors lean a little more towards the heavy and primary than his usual fare, but, in my opinion, it generally works for the story. Regardless of what palette he uses, the intense attention to color gradients gives a beauty and realism to the book.

The post The Ultimates #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
The ULtimates #7

The average episode of Seinfeld had two to four intersecting plots running simultaneously. Despite this, the show was famously criticized and celebrated for being a show where “nothing happens.” It was clear, it wasn’t that nothing was happening, it was that none of what was expected was happening. In this respect, The Ultimates is a lot like Seinfeld. It’s the book where a whole lot of “nothing” happens.

This issue is a particularly strong example of that trend. It’s not uncommon for The Ultimates to completely eschew a traditional fight based structure, however, there isn’t even the usual exploration and Super Science, at least not from the team itself. Instead we get something that so often is cause for complaint in comics, an inventory issue.

This issue is very much about taking stock and setting up future plot threads, but it does so in a way that is exhilarating and energetic.

As DC has seemingly striven to focus on smaller crossovers that only affect a few books, Marvel has tackled the challenge of integrating books into event storylines head-on. My standard example of this is Cullen Bunn’s Magneto, but it’s perhaps not surprising that another shining star in this regard was Loki: Agent of Asgard. The Ultimates #7 is clearly from the same mind, as it seamlessly integrates the concerns of “Civil War II” into the larger plot of the series.

And just as important, Ultimates 7 also provides a fantastic jumping on point for new readers and Civil War completionists. In twenty short pages, Ewing and Rocafort not only introduce readers to the cast of characters and their interpersonal dynamics, but present some shockingly complete views of their personalities, at least as they exist for this title.

With the multiversal stakes of this series providing ample reason for dramatic tension, the characters are free to show us their convictions and where they strain under pressure. Make no mistake, we’re seeing some of the dark sides of these characters. Carol’s impressive limits have been crossed and she’s having an existential crisis, Dr. Brashear may not be capable of the responsibilities his power set comes with, T’Challa is appropriately imperious and unilateral for an absolute monarch. While these may be unflattering elements of these characters, Ewing does a great job of showing extreme situations that cause them to act this way. The result is a feeling of connection to the characters that can go forward with readers, regardless of, but clearly with a mind towards, “Civil War II”.

After a month away, it’s interesting to have Kenneth Rocafort back. In many ways Christian Wards brief stay with the Ultimates helps identify what Rocafort brings to the book. After all, there’s no denying that Ward’s wild indie reputation suits the type of book Ewing is writing, at least better than Rocafort’s more action-packed resume. However, with this issue Rocafort is focused on doing what he does best, drawing sleek, organic futurism and making it look sexy.

Rocafort approaches every panel like a print, a moment trapped in time with its own questions and tensions and, most of all, rhythm. At times that can actually leave a page with a feeling of chronological disconnection, but the clarity and strength of the storytelling usually outshines it. Plus when Rocafort actively employs this, as in a number of multi-panel compositions, it can become a significant part of the issue’s artistic appeal. Take a look at the Anti-Man’s therapy session if you want to see what I mean.

The only serious problem with the art is that distance can become dangerous. Ignored detail or detail scaled down too far can leave some panels looking awkward or muddled.

Dan Brown’s colors lean a little more towards the heavy and primary than his usual fare, but, in my opinion, it generally works for the story. Regardless of what palette he uses, the intense attention to color gradients gives a beauty and realism to the book.

The post The Ultimates #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
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The Vision #7http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/14/the-vision-7/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/14/the-vision-7/#comments Sat, 14 May 2016 22:18:05 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48209 VISION #7

Lets get it out of the way. Tom King’s The Vision is something special. And The Vision #7 is a special issue of this series.

Pausing to give some context to the tragedy he’s crafting, King gives us a look at the history of Vision and the Scarlet Witch. It could be said that this issue is an examination of love’s place in an artificial life. King effortlessly convinces that V and Wanda are one of comics’ great romances, despite and, in this case, because of the complex web of differing interpretations their relationship has endured. Unified by King’s current take on the character, these differing views become something as complex and hard-fought as a real relationship. Admittedly this does take a different view of the halcyon days that might rightly rankle some fans of the couple, but, in comics, history only lasts so long as it's the strongest idea and one suspects that this conception is and will be viewed as the strongest version in a long time.

A lot of details about the complicated courtship are left out of this issue. Some, like Wonder Man’s jealousy of Vision, are seemingly attempts to make the issue more friendly to readers who haven’t closely followed the last fifty years of Avengers continuity, however, others, like the nature of Wanda’s children, may feel alienating to readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of continuity. It certainly says something that King’s writing is confident enough to pull this off, giving readers a highly focused look at the past, suggesting what memories are and were important to the Vision.

The writing is as layered and literary as ever, using repeated motifs and lines to build a sense of connection to the characters. Wonder Man’s toast stands out as a particularly lovely bit of writing, as does the couple’s saccharine conversation beside a battle, but there’s no denying that the most forceful writing is saved for Wanda Maximoff. As much as this remains Vision’s book, there’s a conscious sense of, if not apologizing for, then balancing Wanda’s mental illness.

Wanda, while decidedly unsteady at times, is seriously humanized by the troubles of dating the Vision. It seems impossible that there wouldn’t be some strife between the two opposites attracted. In many ways it seems that this series is effectively the Vision’s turn to break down. But, despite it all,  it never goes so far that the reader feels like the Vision was beyond the capacity for love or Wanda was foolish for trying. Instead, even the most problematic moments feel real, like that couple you know who could have been brilliant or terrible and, sadly, opted for the later. This is the kind of writing that makes favorite characters for life.

Through it all, King continues his explorations of truth vs. happiness and the way that the pull between the two causes the Vision to manipulate his world and his loved ones. Everyone is a victim here and, with the context this issue allows, it’s clear that this is a much more sweeping drama than it at first seemed.

It’s no enviable thing to follow Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Fill-in artists were a definite problem for Magneto, Walta’s previous series. But despite this, Michael Walsh is an admirable replacement. Much of this can be laid at the feet of Jordie Bellaire, whose distinctive colors give the book a feeling of continuity, but Walsh’s style is decidedly appropriate for this issue.

At its worst, Walsh’s art is intriguing but awkward, slipping ever so slightly into the uncanny valley. One has to expect that this was at least partially intentional, because it fits the themes of the story wonderfully. Walsh’s Vision can be charming and relatable, but he can also be a gaunt, haunting specter. The white Vision design, besides being generally weaker, highlights the weaknesses of Walsh’s art, as do the darker, grimmer moments of the story. There are also some moments when human faces are inelegant, with too big eyes being a frequent symptom, but these moments are more than balanced.

At its best, Walsh’s contribution has remarkable emotive force. The care in the minuscule shading is beautiful and the intensity of light and shadow draw the stakes of the story into clear yet never intrusive focus. Walsh’s renderings of Wanda can be especially gorgeous, giving her a personality and humanity that is essential to this tale.

There’s something potent in the mundanity of the artwork. Little moments of humanity come alive, a smile or a laugh or a look of contentment. And that’s the key to this issue’s visuals. While no one could mistake it for realism, the art supports King’s depiction of a truthful relationship, the good and the bad. The Vision and Wanda’s argument is one of the strongest pages and it proves that Walsh can handle far more than happy moments.

The post The Vision #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
VISION #7

Lets get it out of the way. Tom King’s The Vision is something special. And The Vision #7 is a special issue of this series.

Pausing to give some context to the tragedy he’s crafting, King gives us a look at the history of Vision and the Scarlet Witch. It could be said that this issue is an examination of love’s place in an artificial life. King effortlessly convinces that V and Wanda are one of comics’ great romances, despite and, in this case, because of the complex web of differing interpretations their relationship has endured. Unified by King’s current take on the character, these differing views become something as complex and hard-fought as a real relationship. Admittedly this does take a different view of the halcyon days that might rightly rankle some fans of the couple, but, in comics, history only lasts so long as it's the strongest idea and one suspects that this conception is and will be viewed as the strongest version in a long time.

A lot of details about the complicated courtship are left out of this issue. Some, like Wonder Man’s jealousy of Vision, are seemingly attempts to make the issue more friendly to readers who haven’t closely followed the last fifty years of Avengers continuity, however, others, like the nature of Wanda’s children, may feel alienating to readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of continuity. It certainly says something that King’s writing is confident enough to pull this off, giving readers a highly focused look at the past, suggesting what memories are and were important to the Vision.

The writing is as layered and literary as ever, using repeated motifs and lines to build a sense of connection to the characters. Wonder Man’s toast stands out as a particularly lovely bit of writing, as does the couple’s saccharine conversation beside a battle, but there’s no denying that the most forceful writing is saved for Wanda Maximoff. As much as this remains Vision’s book, there’s a conscious sense of, if not apologizing for, then balancing Wanda’s mental illness.

Wanda, while decidedly unsteady at times, is seriously humanized by the troubles of dating the Vision. It seems impossible that there wouldn’t be some strife between the two opposites attracted. In many ways it seems that this series is effectively the Vision’s turn to break down. But, despite it all,  it never goes so far that the reader feels like the Vision was beyond the capacity for love or Wanda was foolish for trying. Instead, even the most problematic moments feel real, like that couple you know who could have been brilliant or terrible and, sadly, opted for the later. This is the kind of writing that makes favorite characters for life.

Through it all, King continues his explorations of truth vs. happiness and the way that the pull between the two causes the Vision to manipulate his world and his loved ones. Everyone is a victim here and, with the context this issue allows, it’s clear that this is a much more sweeping drama than it at first seemed.

It’s no enviable thing to follow Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Fill-in artists were a definite problem for Magneto, Walta’s previous series. But despite this, Michael Walsh is an admirable replacement. Much of this can be laid at the feet of Jordie Bellaire, whose distinctive colors give the book a feeling of continuity, but Walsh’s style is decidedly appropriate for this issue.

At its worst, Walsh’s art is intriguing but awkward, slipping ever so slightly into the uncanny valley. One has to expect that this was at least partially intentional, because it fits the themes of the story wonderfully. Walsh’s Vision can be charming and relatable, but he can also be a gaunt, haunting specter. The white Vision design, besides being generally weaker, highlights the weaknesses of Walsh’s art, as do the darker, grimmer moments of the story. There are also some moments when human faces are inelegant, with too big eyes being a frequent symptom, but these moments are more than balanced.

At its best, Walsh’s contribution has remarkable emotive force. The care in the minuscule shading is beautiful and the intensity of light and shadow draw the stakes of the story into clear yet never intrusive focus. Walsh’s renderings of Wanda can be especially gorgeous, giving her a personality and humanity that is essential to this tale.

There’s something potent in the mundanity of the artwork. Little moments of humanity come alive, a smile or a laugh or a look of contentment. And that’s the key to this issue’s visuals. While no one could mistake it for realism, the art supports King’s depiction of a truthful relationship, the good and the bad. The Vision and Wanda’s argument is one of the strongest pages and it proves that Walsh can handle far more than happy moments.

The post The Vision #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #3http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/11/mighty-morphin-power-rangers-3/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/11/mighty-morphin-power-rangers-3/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 04:54:43 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48203 Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #3

Man, does Kyle Higgins know how to craft a scene. This is a much quieter issue than last month’s, largely lacking the hectic energy and beautifully integrated fight scenes that defined issue #2. But, nevertheless, there is some serious power in the setting and execution of these scenes.

From the first moments in the Dark Dimension to Tommy’s ominous dreams, to a meeting over diner food, to the very last moments, this issue is chiefly concerned with the force of emotions and the pace and interconnectedness of scenes. In this, it is exceptionally successful. The visuals are different and intriguing and the script is suitably dramatic, building tension throughout each sequence before depositing the reader into the next. It’s Power Rangers by way of HBO.

But while the flavor is delicious, the substance is merely decent. We get some much needed clarification on Rita’s master plan, but it is more than a little expository and doesn’t fully live up to the mystery of it all. Rita’s plot makes a good deal of sense given what we saw in “Green With Evil” and “The Green Candle”, but it seems a little repetitive and not entirely worthy of the odd fixation that Rita had on Tommy, especially as so creepily realized by Higgins and Prasetya.

The lack of action also hurts this issue. There is a brief fight scene, and a visually distinct one at that, but it’s short and it probably would have been shorter if it hadn’t needed to fill that role. In fact, by the issue’s end, it feels a little bit unnecessary, existing largely to ensure that there is some action.

Though the issue doesn’t deliver enough plot progression, it introduces several character ideas that seem poised to bloom in future issues. Goldar’s introduction raises tempting questions about Rita’s empire and what inspires such loyalty. Zach’s development mirrors Tommy’s, as he finally admits his concerns about the new Ranger. Zach was really the only possible choice for this role. While suspicion isn’t a good color on him, it adds to his character and allows the Rangers to have differing views without petty squabbling. But the best moments are saved for Trini.

Trini was always a character who deserved better, given few spotlights with many of them somewhat wasted. Her quieter personality didn’t necessarily fit with the demands of a half-hour action show, but here she finally gets to shine. Free to consider the future and reflect on the past, Trini proves a fantastic support for Tommy, especially with the other Rangers questioning his loyalty.

Artistically, this issue is one of highs and lows. Starting with the later, the anatomy of this issue is frequently flawed. I don’t know Hendry Prasetya’s work beyond this series, but I have to say that I’m surprised at the number of times a face looks squashed or a head doesn’t attach quite right to its body. Luckily its largely a technical problem and won’t necessarily affect the enjoyment of some readers, but those with an eye for art will notice that something is off more often than it should be. Plus Goldar may look great most of the time, but when you appear on one page, one weird panel makes a difference.

Despite these problems, its easy to see why Prasetya is the artist on this series. There are plenty of nice reaction shots and the redesigned Rangers still feel fresh and interesting. More than that, though, as soon as there’s an element of the futuristic or fantastic, Prasetya is off to the races. Evil Space Aliens, morphed Rangers, and especially Zords all look fantastic.

Prasetya’s depiction of the Dragon Zord is practically an application to draw Godzilla comics, bringing the massive mechanical monster to life with the style and polish of Matt Frank while respecting and utilizing the limitations that its robotic state imposes. Prasetya even gives the titanic lizardbot something of a personality.

The Bulk and Skull backup is hard to review because, as it is quickly becoming apparent, there simply isn’t enough there. Fun as this idea is and cute as its execution is, these are clearly two page chunks of a single story rather than a story told in two page installments.

If you’re able to put that aside, the back up is sturdy. No, there aren’t any side-splitting gags or brilliant concepts in play, but it delivers exactly what you’d expect, Bulk and Skull trying to make their own stories and the chaos that results from it.

This installment’s biggest win is introducing Kimberly and Trini into the mix. It's especially nice to see them under Corin Howell’s pen. Trini’s Vietnamese heritage could probably be just a little more evident, but Howell’s cartoonish style benefits from the subtle splash of seriousness that the Rangers bring to her lines. Plus she obviously just gets Skull’s mannerisms.

The post Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #3 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #3

Man, does Kyle Higgins know how to craft a scene. This is a much quieter issue than last month’s, largely lacking the hectic energy and beautifully integrated fight scenes that defined issue #2. But, nevertheless, there is some serious power in the setting and execution of these scenes.

From the first moments in the Dark Dimension to Tommy’s ominous dreams, to a meeting over diner food, to the very last moments, this issue is chiefly concerned with the force of emotions and the pace and interconnectedness of scenes. In this, it is exceptionally successful. The visuals are different and intriguing and the script is suitably dramatic, building tension throughout each sequence before depositing the reader into the next. It’s Power Rangers by way of HBO.

But while the flavor is delicious, the substance is merely decent. We get some much needed clarification on Rita’s master plan, but it is more than a little expository and doesn’t fully live up to the mystery of it all. Rita’s plot makes a good deal of sense given what we saw in “Green With Evil” and “The Green Candle”, but it seems a little repetitive and not entirely worthy of the odd fixation that Rita had on Tommy, especially as so creepily realized by Higgins and Prasetya.

The lack of action also hurts this issue. There is a brief fight scene, and a visually distinct one at that, but it’s short and it probably would have been shorter if it hadn’t needed to fill that role. In fact, by the issue’s end, it feels a little bit unnecessary, existing largely to ensure that there is some action.

Though the issue doesn’t deliver enough plot progression, it introduces several character ideas that seem poised to bloom in future issues. Goldar’s introduction raises tempting questions about Rita’s empire and what inspires such loyalty. Zach’s development mirrors Tommy’s, as he finally admits his concerns about the new Ranger. Zach was really the only possible choice for this role. While suspicion isn’t a good color on him, it adds to his character and allows the Rangers to have differing views without petty squabbling. But the best moments are saved for Trini.

Trini was always a character who deserved better, given few spotlights with many of them somewhat wasted. Her quieter personality didn’t necessarily fit with the demands of a half-hour action show, but here she finally gets to shine. Free to consider the future and reflect on the past, Trini proves a fantastic support for Tommy, especially with the other Rangers questioning his loyalty.

Artistically, this issue is one of highs and lows. Starting with the later, the anatomy of this issue is frequently flawed. I don’t know Hendry Prasetya’s work beyond this series, but I have to say that I’m surprised at the number of times a face looks squashed or a head doesn’t attach quite right to its body. Luckily its largely a technical problem and won’t necessarily affect the enjoyment of some readers, but those with an eye for art will notice that something is off more often than it should be. Plus Goldar may look great most of the time, but when you appear on one page, one weird panel makes a difference.

Despite these problems, its easy to see why Prasetya is the artist on this series. There are plenty of nice reaction shots and the redesigned Rangers still feel fresh and interesting. More than that, though, as soon as there’s an element of the futuristic or fantastic, Prasetya is off to the races. Evil Space Aliens, morphed Rangers, and especially Zords all look fantastic.

Prasetya’s depiction of the Dragon Zord is practically an application to draw Godzilla comics, bringing the massive mechanical monster to life with the style and polish of Matt Frank while respecting and utilizing the limitations that its robotic state imposes. Prasetya even gives the titanic lizardbot something of a personality.

The Bulk and Skull backup is hard to review because, as it is quickly becoming apparent, there simply isn’t enough there. Fun as this idea is and cute as its execution is, these are clearly two page chunks of a single story rather than a story told in two page installments.

If you’re able to put that aside, the back up is sturdy. No, there aren’t any side-splitting gags or brilliant concepts in play, but it delivers exactly what you’d expect, Bulk and Skull trying to make their own stories and the chaos that results from it.

This installment’s biggest win is introducing Kimberly and Trini into the mix. It's especially nice to see them under Corin Howell’s pen. Trini’s Vietnamese heritage could probably be just a little more evident, but Howell’s cartoonish style benefits from the subtle splash of seriousness that the Rangers bring to her lines. Plus she obviously just gets Skull’s mannerisms.

The post Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #3 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
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Captain America: Civil Warhttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/10/captain-america-civil-war/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/10/captain-america-civil-war/#comments Tue, 10 May 2016 07:30:57 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48197 Civil War

2016 has been an amazing year for comic book films and television already! And here we are with another film that shakes things up and makes us wonder what sort of influence it’ll have on the future of the medium... Captain America: Civil War marks the thirteenth Marvel Cinematic Universe film. No matter how you put it, Civil War has a lot to follow.

Many might feel inclined to talk about how bloated a series of films can get by their third installment - the over saturation of characters and subplots ever-thickening, making what may have originated as a straightforward tale into a complex webbing of scenarios and outcomes. Let us not forget the critical and fan response to Sony’s Spider-Man 3, with its dual love interests, split personality protagonist, and simultaneous villain storylines. It becomes tempting to worry if even the most beloved of franchises may lose their edge and slip into the realm of disappointment.

But with the returning duo of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and the Russo brothers, we're given an expertly-woven third tale. Top to bottom, this film is put together by A-listers with a passion for the source material and a dedication to well-expressed and exciting storytelling.

One thing explosion-laden super-powered blockbusters are often criticized for is lacking heart. However, in this film the DNA of this epic story are the human beings at the heart of the conflict: Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Friends despite of their differences and brothers in the cosmic battlefield, we see two main protagonists make every attempt to resolve their differences in viewpoint in any way they can that leaves everyone happy.

In a medium known for lazy arguments and overused cliches wielded to drive reasonable people to fisticuffs, this film hits us again and again with compelling motivations and believable pleas to reach a peaceful compromise. Thirteen films worth of understanding a diverse group of people with their own experiences and flaws make for rounds of heated debates, but also frames them in a way that is respectful of the differing opinions. Even in the most heated moments of combat, the Avengers attempt to disarm one another with zero-hour “do we really have to do this” quips and even half-smiled jokes between blows.

Throughout a barrage of incredibly trying catastrophes and ideological impasses, what struck me was the humanity on display. Vision comforting Wanda Maximoff, reeling after a mission gone wrong. Natasha being there for Steve at Peggy Carter’s funeral, even though they’re on different sides of the film’s integral diplomatic issue. Tony reaching out to a young Peter Parker to give him the boost and fatherly figure he never had. T’Challa overcoming grief and sparing the man responsible for killing his father, then providing medical care for Bucky. And at the end of it all, Steve writing a heartfelt letter to Tony, compassionately explaining that even if their differences were unresolvable, he regretted how he’d carried himself, and that if Tony and the Avengers ever needed it, Steve and his team would be there.

During the midst of the film’s biggest battle, Spider-Man naively references The Empire Strikes Back, and at the time he did so to illustrate his battle plan for taking down Scott Lang, at the moment taking the monumental form as Giant Man, but I think the parallels go deeper: the film spends much of its time focused on dour subject matter, impossible odds and the seeming assurance that, no matter the outcome, someone would lose. We watched our heroes mature before our eyes, but not without taking blows and enduring significant growing pains.

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Civil War

2016 has been an amazing year for comic book films and television already! And here we are with another film that shakes things up and makes us wonder what sort of influence it’ll have on the future of the medium... Captain America: Civil War marks the thirteenth Marvel Cinematic Universe film. No matter how you put it, Civil War has a lot to follow.

Many might feel inclined to talk about how bloated a series of films can get by their third installment - the over saturation of characters and subplots ever-thickening, making what may have originated as a straightforward tale into a complex webbing of scenarios and outcomes. Let us not forget the critical and fan response to Sony’s Spider-Man 3, with its dual love interests, split personality protagonist, and simultaneous villain storylines. It becomes tempting to worry if even the most beloved of franchises may lose their edge and slip into the realm of disappointment.

But with the returning duo of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and the Russo brothers, we're given an expertly-woven third tale. Top to bottom, this film is put together by A-listers with a passion for the source material and a dedication to well-expressed and exciting storytelling.

One thing explosion-laden super-powered blockbusters are often criticized for is lacking heart. However, in this film the DNA of this epic story are the human beings at the heart of the conflict: Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Friends despite of their differences and brothers in the cosmic battlefield, we see two main protagonists make every attempt to resolve their differences in viewpoint in any way they can that leaves everyone happy.

In a medium known for lazy arguments and overused cliches wielded to drive reasonable people to fisticuffs, this film hits us again and again with compelling motivations and believable pleas to reach a peaceful compromise. Thirteen films worth of understanding a diverse group of people with their own experiences and flaws make for rounds of heated debates, but also frames them in a way that is respectful of the differing opinions. Even in the most heated moments of combat, the Avengers attempt to disarm one another with zero-hour “do we really have to do this” quips and even half-smiled jokes between blows.

Throughout a barrage of incredibly trying catastrophes and ideological impasses, what struck me was the humanity on display. Vision comforting Wanda Maximoff, reeling after a mission gone wrong. Natasha being there for Steve at Peggy Carter’s funeral, even though they’re on different sides of the film’s integral diplomatic issue. Tony reaching out to a young Peter Parker to give him the boost and fatherly figure he never had. T’Challa overcoming grief and sparing the man responsible for killing his father, then providing medical care for Bucky. And at the end of it all, Steve writing a heartfelt letter to Tony, compassionately explaining that even if their differences were unresolvable, he regretted how he’d carried himself, and that if Tony and the Avengers ever needed it, Steve and his team would be there.

During the midst of the film’s biggest battle, Spider-Man naively references The Empire Strikes Back, and at the time he did so to illustrate his battle plan for taking down Scott Lang, at the moment taking the monumental form as Giant Man, but I think the parallels go deeper: the film spends much of its time focused on dour subject matter, impossible odds and the seeming assurance that, no matter the outcome, someone would lose. We watched our heroes mature before our eyes, but not without taking blows and enduring significant growing pains.

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Poe Dameron #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/05/poe-dameron-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/05/poe-dameron-2/#comments Thu, 05 May 2016 09:48:24 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48185 Poe Dameron #2

Picking up right where issue one left off (though not without a familiar text crawl for the uninitiated), issue 2 of Poe Dameron introduces us immediately to Agent Terex, a higher-up of the First Order who seems to find his love of the hunt for Resistance fighters only a bit more enrapturing than his love of himself. Painted like a classic British adventure novel villain, Terex is equal parts smooth talker and old-fashioned conquistador. A man who believes his path is just, and is more than happy to spare a few seconds to inspire his troops.

As Terex makes his move on the worshippers of last issue’s Cosmic Egg McGuffin, we’re sent back and forth through time to gain a better understanding of this man and his motives: a once-soldier of the Empire, yearning for the glory days of his fallen former allegiance, against the warnings of his superior Captain Phasma, who is not impressed with Terex's smugness, though also not overly stern in giving him orders. (Phasma also takes this opportunity to make brief mention of a new Republic senator an author’s note implores us to learn about in the tie-in novel, Before The Awakening.)

Through this dialogue and through the actions of Poe’s squadron, still airborne, as well as the actions of Terex’s TIE troopers that control a vital landing platform, we see how the First Order and Resistance define themselves as unique from their respective former lives; Phasma calls the First Order purer, less corrupt than the Empire. While Terex dotes on the slaves he kept, Phasma’s protest appears to indicate a First Order that does not condone slavery.

The Resistance shows surprising discipline, the more we get to understand them. Gone are the days of hot guns and hotter heads, with reckless execution of plans and makeshift success; the squad take their orders not to fire upon First Order troops unless first fired upon very seriously, and when tasked with removing the TIE squadron from the critical point they hold, are first tasked with finding a way to lure the First Order fighters into shooting first. A comical fly-by of an A-Wing near two TIE Pilots is met with uninterested dismissal, indicating that, for how imposing and powerful they are, the First Order troops are also under orders not to fire unless fired upon. An eventual bending of the rules by the most veteran pilot and intentionally inaccurate firing of a few volleys of cannon fire send the black-clad troops scrambling into their fighters, officially beginning the fight for aerial dominance.

What’s more, Poe’s squadron seem hesitant to begin this fight, even if they wanted to, bemoaning the superior speed of TIE fighters, particularly the Special Forces models. Apparently the new X-Wings the Resistance take their most iconic flights and battles in are disadvantaged by comparison, though it’s noted that A-Wings still have the speed to be competitive. In a science fiction universe with an array of vehicles and devices as vast as Star Wars, it’s good to see new works take the same care to lay out some of the basic features, providing additional context for vehicular combat.

On the ground, Terex’s intimidation of the peaceful guardians of the Egg goads Poe out of hiding, and begins a battle of wits between the two: Poe confidently expresses his assurance that his squadron above have made short work of the TIEs that awaited, and suggested Terex surrender. In classic Star Wars “You are DOOMED!” fashion, Terex rebuts Poe’s cockiness by letting it slip that a Maxima-A Class Heavy Cruiser (read: a big scary Star Destroyer variant) lies in orbit, and we see a cloud of additional TIEs swarm from an opening in the cruiser’s lower region, crowding the sky with the familiar black H-shape and green laser fire (and presumably screaming engines) we’ve come to know so well.

Adding to the tension as Terex delivers his verbal “Checkmate,” as it were, is the continual barrage of flamethrower fire onto the cosmic egg. Urgent becomes urgent-er, and we’re given a well-placed “To be continued…”

The post Poe Dameron #2 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Poe Dameron #2

Picking up right where issue one left off (though not without a familiar text crawl for the uninitiated), issue 2 of Poe Dameron introduces us immediately to Agent Terex, a higher-up of the First Order who seems to find his love of the hunt for Resistance fighters only a bit more enrapturing than his love of himself. Painted like a classic British adventure novel villain, Terex is equal parts smooth talker and old-fashioned conquistador. A man who believes his path is just, and is more than happy to spare a few seconds to inspire his troops.

As Terex makes his move on the worshippers of last issue’s Cosmic Egg McGuffin, we’re sent back and forth through time to gain a better understanding of this man and his motives: a once-soldier of the Empire, yearning for the glory days of his fallen former allegiance, against the warnings of his superior Captain Phasma, who is not impressed with Terex's smugness, though also not overly stern in giving him orders. (Phasma also takes this opportunity to make brief mention of a new Republic senator an author’s note implores us to learn about in the tie-in novel, Before The Awakening.)

Through this dialogue and through the actions of Poe’s squadron, still airborne, as well as the actions of Terex’s TIE troopers that control a vital landing platform, we see how the First Order and Resistance define themselves as unique from their respective former lives; Phasma calls the First Order purer, less corrupt than the Empire. While Terex dotes on the slaves he kept, Phasma’s protest appears to indicate a First Order that does not condone slavery.

The Resistance shows surprising discipline, the more we get to understand them. Gone are the days of hot guns and hotter heads, with reckless execution of plans and makeshift success; the squad take their orders not to fire upon First Order troops unless first fired upon very seriously, and when tasked with removing the TIE squadron from the critical point they hold, are first tasked with finding a way to lure the First Order fighters into shooting first. A comical fly-by of an A-Wing near two TIE Pilots is met with uninterested dismissal, indicating that, for how imposing and powerful they are, the First Order troops are also under orders not to fire unless fired upon. An eventual bending of the rules by the most veteran pilot and intentionally inaccurate firing of a few volleys of cannon fire send the black-clad troops scrambling into their fighters, officially beginning the fight for aerial dominance.

What’s more, Poe’s squadron seem hesitant to begin this fight, even if they wanted to, bemoaning the superior speed of TIE fighters, particularly the Special Forces models. Apparently the new X-Wings the Resistance take their most iconic flights and battles in are disadvantaged by comparison, though it’s noted that A-Wings still have the speed to be competitive. In a science fiction universe with an array of vehicles and devices as vast as Star Wars, it’s good to see new works take the same care to lay out some of the basic features, providing additional context for vehicular combat.

On the ground, Terex’s intimidation of the peaceful guardians of the Egg goads Poe out of hiding, and begins a battle of wits between the two: Poe confidently expresses his assurance that his squadron above have made short work of the TIEs that awaited, and suggested Terex surrender. In classic Star Wars “You are DOOMED!” fashion, Terex rebuts Poe’s cockiness by letting it slip that a Maxima-A Class Heavy Cruiser (read: a big scary Star Destroyer variant) lies in orbit, and we see a cloud of additional TIEs swarm from an opening in the cruiser’s lower region, crowding the sky with the familiar black H-shape and green laser fire (and presumably screaming engines) we’ve come to know so well.

Adding to the tension as Terex delivers his verbal “Checkmate,” as it were, is the continual barrage of flamethrower fire onto the cosmic egg. Urgent becomes urgent-er, and we’re given a well-placed “To be continued…”

The post Poe Dameron #2 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
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Steve Orlando on a Punk Rock Laurel and Hardy, the Maiden of Might, and the Unified Manhttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/05/steve-orlando-punk-rock-laurel-hardy-maiden-might-unified-man/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/05/steve-orlando-punk-rock-laurel-hardy-maiden-might-unified-man/#comments Thu, 05 May 2016 09:47:10 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48182 Midnighter

Steve Orlando was one of the breakout creators of 2015. Bursting onto the scene with the unapologetic madness and heart of Midnighter while crafting his ‘queersploitation’ OGN, Virgil, for Image, Orlando found himself a passionate following and a place at the table for DC’s Batman and Robin: Eternal project. Now, with his first ongoing series from DC winding down, he’s found work with Boom! Studios and is set to reintroduce fans to one of DC’s rising stars.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Orlando to talk about creative storytelling, representation, Kryptonian culture, and more.

Noah Sharma: So, I guess to get right to it, what’s it been like writing a hero who has access to Door tech? Has that been difficult or easier, given that kind of space and time are no obstacle?

Steve Orlando: Uh, no. The answer is if it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong, because it’s all about finding creative ways to use it. And so it’s about challenging the artists, between ACO and Hugo, but also even like the folks that use the Doors in Batman and Robin: Eternal. It’s a fun challenge from an artistic standpoint for them to sort of tell the story with layouts and things like that. And then, as you said, it’s kind of an easy fix for a lot of problems. So you gotta make the problems harder and you’ve gotta find creative ways to use them. So, in Midnighter #11, Bendix uses them to basically take everyone else out of the room, all the Spiral Guards, and drop them in front of this active volcano. So they’re using them in kind of this passive way where it’s like trapdoors for people.

Or in Batman and Robin: Eternal, Red Robin has to ascend this huge sort of spire. So he doors into the sky. And then he uses all the momentum to fall into a door in the ground that opens up in the opposite direction and he, like, Looney Toons out of it up into the sky again. So, it’s all about finding new ways to use the things.

It’s funny because it’s such an elegant, sort of simple thing that Warren and Bryan created, but it’s persisted because it opens up so many...avenues-- You thought I was going to say “opens up so many doors”-- to new types of storytelling techniques. I mean, it’s fun and, like I said, if you’re just using to walk across the room or something like that, you’re not really thinking about what the possibilities are.

So, Midnighter is winding down now, sadly. What was the craziest thing or your favorite thing you had him do, or haven’t we seen it yet?

Um, well, you definitely haven’t. There’s some insane stuff in issue #12, without question. But having said that as well, I mean, him killing someone with a T-Bone steak in issue #1 was in the original pitch. It was originally an avocado and not a steak, but, regardless, like, very excited to have that happen.

But also, the final splash of issue #11, like, it was no joke what I said on the panel yesterday. From the beginning I wanted to have the final splash of him showing up at the last minute, and just having the end splash of him being like, “You wanna fight?” It’s so iconic and it’s been something I had to do before I got away from the book, so I’m glad people really enjoyed it. And that’s not like a crazy moment, but it’s one of those things where I was like you can’t not do this with a character who, more than anyone else in the DCU, is about fighting. And it’s so primal and so sort of like schoolyard-ish that, oh man, I could talk about it a long time. I like weird stuff, as you can tell, and focus on weird things, but I was very happy to have that happen.

One thing that I really love about Midnighter, especially as you’ve written him, is he’s got a very particular brand of masculinity. I feel like, especially for queer men  there can be a pressure sometimes to either embrace or flee from masculinity. And Midnighter really doesn’t- He’s strong, like he’s a badass guy, but he doesn’t like have to be brooding and mean about it. Was that something that you consciously were working on or is that just kind of a natural part of writing the character?

Well, I think it is a natural part of the character, but, having said that, it’s important to depict in comics - it’s important to depict in media in general - because, it’s just like you said, no one is just one thing. And being queer doesn’t mean one thing, being a hero doesn’t mean one thing, being masculine, being feminine doesn’t mean one thing. And sometimes you’re one thing and sometimes you’re another. It’s fluid. Most of your social...sort of hats you wear, the ways you express yourself are fluid. So it’s important to me, yeah, to have Midnighter be like, y’know- We’re not doing our job--no one’s doing the job, I think--if the character you’re writing, you’re not trying to make him as human, as relatable, as possible.

And, so, yeah, Midnighter can be at times very “masculine” stereotypically, but, at the same time, there’s this softness to him in different instances. And that’s real life. Like for people who are secure in themselves. And I think that’s the real key. Plenty of people do wear that sort of masculine mask all the time, but I don’t think they’re people that are too unified in their self-concept. They haven’t rectified with themselves. And when you are, I mean, Midnighter knows who he is 100%, which is ironic, of course, because he doesn’t know who he is in the past, but in the present he has no qualms about who he is. And so there’s no issue for him. Like, “Oh, will people think I’m not masculine enough?” He doesn’t give a shit. This is who he is in the moment and I think that’s something we all, y’know, we all want to be able to be and he’s an icon for us. He inspires us to do that.

You’re writing the Bulk & Skull back-ups on Power Rangers. What is it about those characters where you’re like, “That needs to be in a Power Rangers book”?

Uh, because I realized that they’re basically punk rock Laurel & Hardy. Y’know, Kyle’s doing something sort of topical and semi-serious in the main book, so I wanted to give a little bit of an amuse-bouche, with something that is very light.

Like Bulk & Skull is not tackling huge social issues, but it is, in my own way, I think I’m trying to make it a throwback to the characters that inspired it, sort of Vaudeville slapstick type of thing. And when I realized that about them it sort of clicked, why I find them fun. And it lets me get my weird puns and sort of doofy comedy in a way that people maybe don’t expect from me, being the ‘headshot’ guy. So I was excited to get that out there. For that reason.

So the big thing for you now is Supergirl. I understand if you can’t say too much about it yet, but one thing I think a lot of people are gonna be wondering is there’s a lot of different versions of Supergirl. I mean, she was kind of rebooted for the New 52. She had a bunch of different incarnations before that. She’s got a TV show now.

Mmmhmm.

What’s the continuity of this book? Is this kind of a fresh start or is this-

Well, that’s actually something I can answer. I mean Rebirth is not a reboot.

Right.

So this is the Supergirl from the New 52, there’s no question about that. But in the same way, y’know, it’s actually- people said, “Well, you’re moving from Midnighter to Supergirl.” Well it’s actually kind of the same operation, right? ’Cause Midnighter had appeared other places and sort of like people weren’t sure where he connected in that previous book. And we sort of whittled it down to the core of the character to - like I said in the panel yesterday - to remind people who are longterm fans why he’s back and we get why we love him and then show new readers why everyone else loves him as well. And Supergirl’s obviously on a bigger stage, but he operation is the same.

All of the things in the New 52 happened, but it’s about finding a way to sort of create the sort of primal, iconic presentation of the character that will both refresh it for people who are sort of, maybe didn’t know, thought she was adrift for a little while. And then we’ll bring new people in who’ve seen the show and sort of wonder what makes her unique and show them why we think she’s great, why we love her, why so many people love her. So it’s 100% New 52 Supergirl. But it’s about getting back and showing sort of her journey into the character, that sort of totemic character that transcends all of those different iterations, whether it’s the TV show, whether it’s Helen Slater, whether it’s Matrix. It doesn’t even matter because the core of her, that compassion, that optimism, that understanding, unwavering character, that’s what makes her Supergirl. And we’re bringing her there as soon as possible.

Any chance of seeing Silver Banshee in this one?

Anything’s possible. I like Silver Banshee without question. I think one thing that we want to do definitely is, sort of like we did with Midnighter, focus on his initial core to remind people who she is. And then spread out and sort of revitalize his other concepts. So I certainly have some classic Supergirl villains in mind - and she is definitely one of them - that I want to sort of dig into and sort of do like, y’know what Geoff did with Black Hand for example. Y’know, and sort of give them this extra depth and, again, just amplify the things that make them great and unique.

It’s not about changing characters, it’s about infusing them with a little bit of energy that lets people see them, sort of boosting the signal so to speak. So we’re doing that with Cyborg Superman in the first arc, who I actually think- y’know, Zor-El is not the classic Cyborg Superman. Having said that though, I find him to be extremely endearing to me. Because he’s a tragic figure, right? Like, at least my take on Zor-El, he’s like that guy we’ve all met. He’s a bad dad. It’s not that he doesn’t love Kara. Everything he does is to make his daughter’s life better, just like a father should. But the problem is he’s a cybernetic killing machine. So like you have that sort of filter that that gets through, but I think that’s relatable. Everybody has, everybody knows that type of like screw-up parent. Their heart is in the right place. Usually it’s for other reasons in the real world. In the case of Zor-El it’s because Brainiac turned him into this robot slave. But the fact is he’s just trying to do the right thing. It’s just that his mind is so twisted.

So I find that relationship... People, I know, are worried it’s going to be about sort of Kara having daddy issues. There are no daddy issues. It’s about his failings as a father and his ultimately- Because of who she is, I don’t think any arc with Kara can’t be a redemption arc for a villain, in her eyes. Because she cares about them just as much as the people she’s protecting them from.

The term I like for Kara is the last citizen of Krypton. She’s someone who’s been there, who’s seen the difference. Like Clark is someone who doesn’t know Krypton.

I completely agree. Yeah.

What’s different in your mind between Earth and Krypton and how much worldbuilding are you getting to do with that?

Well, I mean, without getting into specifics, a lot of worldbuilding. I mean, you know, one thing that I found very exciting to me, as someone who’s lived in other countries, about Kara in the New 52 is that when she came here she didn’t speak English.

Right.

So I am creating, at least in Supergirl, I’m creating like real grammar rules for Kryptonian so nerds can translate it and read it and try to learn it.

So, the language is different, the culture is different, and we’ll see that sort of play out in the way that she sees different things, whether it’s food, whether it’s family, whether it’s sports.

Y’know, Krypton, for me, I love that sort of Silver Age weirdness and so, I look back and, y’know, we’re leaning into this sort of wild strangeness of comics that I think are wonderful - if you’ve read my other books - and Krypton is a great example of that.

There’s no reason for it to be too similar to Earth. But you’ll see, as we go through the first issue, I love the strange flora and fauna. I love the sort of diversity of cultures, because one thing that always sort of shocked me is that it’s a whole planet, but it always seems like there’s only one type of Kryptonian culture. And, for me, in my world, they can all exist there. Because, y’know, there’s no one Earth culture. And more so, if there is one Kryptonian culture, then that sort of talks about the sacrifices they’ve made to get there as a people. So it is intrinsically different and I think that’s one of the reasons that she is sort of torn between Earth and Krypton now. But the difference is Krypton let Kara go and Earth has welcomed her here.

Last question. Obviously with Midnighter leaving there’s a hole for a lot of people and a lot of people who were feeling very validated by that series. Are you able to say if there’s anything about Supergirl that might soften that blow, particularly for people in the queer community?

Uh, well Supergirl herself has no problem, obviously, with people.I think it is always my goal to have as much inclusivity in a book as possible. And even outside of Supergirl, this is something that’s vital and it’s something I’m always working for. So the answer is, to the best of my own ability, there will always be queer characters in my books. And that’s really the most I can say about that. But I think it’s vitally important, it’s the right thing to do, and I’m going to continue trying to do it.

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Midnighter

Steve Orlando was one of the breakout creators of 2015. Bursting onto the scene with the unapologetic madness and heart of Midnighter while crafting his ‘queersploitation’ OGN, Virgil, for Image, Orlando found himself a passionate following and a place at the table for DC’s Batman and Robin: Eternal project. Now, with his first ongoing series from DC winding down, he’s found work with Boom! Studios and is set to reintroduce fans to one of DC’s rising stars.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Orlando to talk about creative storytelling, representation, Kryptonian culture, and more.

Noah Sharma: So, I guess to get right to it, what’s it been like writing a hero who has access to Door tech? Has that been difficult or easier, given that kind of space and time are no obstacle?

Steve Orlando: Uh, no. The answer is if it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong, because it’s all about finding creative ways to use it. And so it’s about challenging the artists, between ACO and Hugo, but also even like the folks that use the Doors in Batman and Robin: Eternal. It’s a fun challenge from an artistic standpoint for them to sort of tell the story with layouts and things like that. And then, as you said, it’s kind of an easy fix for a lot of problems. So you gotta make the problems harder and you’ve gotta find creative ways to use them. So, in Midnighter #11, Bendix uses them to basically take everyone else out of the room, all the Spiral Guards, and drop them in front of this active volcano. So they’re using them in kind of this passive way where it’s like trapdoors for people.

Or in Batman and Robin: Eternal, Red Robin has to ascend this huge sort of spire. So he doors into the sky. And then he uses all the momentum to fall into a door in the ground that opens up in the opposite direction and he, like, Looney Toons out of it up into the sky again. So, it’s all about finding new ways to use the things.

It’s funny because it’s such an elegant, sort of simple thing that Warren and Bryan created, but it’s persisted because it opens up so many...avenues-- You thought I was going to say “opens up so many doors”-- to new types of storytelling techniques. I mean, it’s fun and, like I said, if you’re just using to walk across the room or something like that, you’re not really thinking about what the possibilities are.

So, Midnighter is winding down now, sadly. What was the craziest thing or your favorite thing you had him do, or haven’t we seen it yet?

Um, well, you definitely haven’t. There’s some insane stuff in issue #12, without question. But having said that as well, I mean, him killing someone with a T-Bone steak in issue #1 was in the original pitch. It was originally an avocado and not a steak, but, regardless, like, very excited to have that happen.

But also, the final splash of issue #11, like, it was no joke what I said on the panel yesterday. From the beginning I wanted to have the final splash of him showing up at the last minute, and just having the end splash of him being like, “You wanna fight?” It’s so iconic and it’s been something I had to do before I got away from the book, so I’m glad people really enjoyed it. And that’s not like a crazy moment, but it’s one of those things where I was like you can’t not do this with a character who, more than anyone else in the DCU, is about fighting. And it’s so primal and so sort of like schoolyard-ish that, oh man, I could talk about it a long time. I like weird stuff, as you can tell, and focus on weird things, but I was very happy to have that happen.

One thing that I really love about Midnighter, especially as you’ve written him, is he’s got a very particular brand of masculinity. I feel like, especially for queer men  there can be a pressure sometimes to either embrace or flee from masculinity. And Midnighter really doesn’t- He’s strong, like he’s a badass guy, but he doesn’t like have to be brooding and mean about it. Was that something that you consciously were working on or is that just kind of a natural part of writing the character?

Well, I think it is a natural part of the character, but, having said that, it’s important to depict in comics - it’s important to depict in media in general - because, it’s just like you said, no one is just one thing. And being queer doesn’t mean one thing, being a hero doesn’t mean one thing, being masculine, being feminine doesn’t mean one thing. And sometimes you’re one thing and sometimes you’re another. It’s fluid. Most of your social...sort of hats you wear, the ways you express yourself are fluid. So it’s important to me, yeah, to have Midnighter be like, y’know- We’re not doing our job--no one’s doing the job, I think--if the character you’re writing, you’re not trying to make him as human, as relatable, as possible.

And, so, yeah, Midnighter can be at times very “masculine” stereotypically, but, at the same time, there’s this softness to him in different instances. And that’s real life. Like for people who are secure in themselves. And I think that’s the real key. Plenty of people do wear that sort of masculine mask all the time, but I don’t think they’re people that are too unified in their self-concept. They haven’t rectified with themselves. And when you are, I mean, Midnighter knows who he is 100%, which is ironic, of course, because he doesn’t know who he is in the past, but in the present he has no qualms about who he is. And so there’s no issue for him. Like, “Oh, will people think I’m not masculine enough?” He doesn’t give a shit. This is who he is in the moment and I think that’s something we all, y’know, we all want to be able to be and he’s an icon for us. He inspires us to do that.

You’re writing the Bulk & Skull back-ups on Power Rangers. What is it about those characters where you’re like, “That needs to be in a Power Rangers book”?

Uh, because I realized that they’re basically punk rock Laurel & Hardy. Y’know, Kyle’s doing something sort of topical and semi-serious in the main book, so I wanted to give a little bit of an amuse-bouche, with something that is very light.

Like Bulk & Skull is not tackling huge social issues, but it is, in my own way, I think I’m trying to make it a throwback to the characters that inspired it, sort of Vaudeville slapstick type of thing. And when I realized that about them it sort of clicked, why I find them fun. And it lets me get my weird puns and sort of doofy comedy in a way that people maybe don’t expect from me, being the ‘headshot’ guy. So I was excited to get that out there. For that reason.

So the big thing for you now is Supergirl. I understand if you can’t say too much about it yet, but one thing I think a lot of people are gonna be wondering is there’s a lot of different versions of Supergirl. I mean, she was kind of rebooted for the New 52. She had a bunch of different incarnations before that. She’s got a TV show now.

Mmmhmm.

What’s the continuity of this book? Is this kind of a fresh start or is this-

Well, that’s actually something I can answer. I mean Rebirth is not a reboot.

Right.

So this is the Supergirl from the New 52, there’s no question about that. But in the same way, y’know, it’s actually- people said, “Well, you’re moving from Midnighter to Supergirl.” Well it’s actually kind of the same operation, right? ’Cause Midnighter had appeared other places and sort of like people weren’t sure where he connected in that previous book. And we sort of whittled it down to the core of the character to - like I said in the panel yesterday - to remind people who are longterm fans why he’s back and we get why we love him and then show new readers why everyone else loves him as well. And Supergirl’s obviously on a bigger stage, but he operation is the same.

All of the things in the New 52 happened, but it’s about finding a way to sort of create the sort of primal, iconic presentation of the character that will both refresh it for people who are sort of, maybe didn’t know, thought she was adrift for a little while. And then we’ll bring new people in who’ve seen the show and sort of wonder what makes her unique and show them why we think she’s great, why we love her, why so many people love her. So it’s 100% New 52 Supergirl. But it’s about getting back and showing sort of her journey into the character, that sort of totemic character that transcends all of those different iterations, whether it’s the TV show, whether it’s Helen Slater, whether it’s Matrix. It doesn’t even matter because the core of her, that compassion, that optimism, that understanding, unwavering character, that’s what makes her Supergirl. And we’re bringing her there as soon as possible.

Any chance of seeing Silver Banshee in this one?

Anything’s possible. I like Silver Banshee without question. I think one thing that we want to do definitely is, sort of like we did with Midnighter, focus on his initial core to remind people who she is. And then spread out and sort of revitalize his other concepts. So I certainly have some classic Supergirl villains in mind - and she is definitely one of them - that I want to sort of dig into and sort of do like, y’know what Geoff did with Black Hand for example. Y’know, and sort of give them this extra depth and, again, just amplify the things that make them great and unique.

It’s not about changing characters, it’s about infusing them with a little bit of energy that lets people see them, sort of boosting the signal so to speak. So we’re doing that with Cyborg Superman in the first arc, who I actually think- y’know, Zor-El is not the classic Cyborg Superman. Having said that though, I find him to be extremely endearing to me. Because he’s a tragic figure, right? Like, at least my take on Zor-El, he’s like that guy we’ve all met. He’s a bad dad. It’s not that he doesn’t love Kara. Everything he does is to make his daughter’s life better, just like a father should. But the problem is he’s a cybernetic killing machine. So like you have that sort of filter that that gets through, but I think that’s relatable. Everybody has, everybody knows that type of like screw-up parent. Their heart is in the right place. Usually it’s for other reasons in the real world. In the case of Zor-El it’s because Brainiac turned him into this robot slave. But the fact is he’s just trying to do the right thing. It’s just that his mind is so twisted.

So I find that relationship... People, I know, are worried it’s going to be about sort of Kara having daddy issues. There are no daddy issues. It’s about his failings as a father and his ultimately- Because of who she is, I don’t think any arc with Kara can’t be a redemption arc for a villain, in her eyes. Because she cares about them just as much as the people she’s protecting them from.

The term I like for Kara is the last citizen of Krypton. She’s someone who’s been there, who’s seen the difference. Like Clark is someone who doesn’t know Krypton.

I completely agree. Yeah.

What’s different in your mind between Earth and Krypton and how much worldbuilding are you getting to do with that?

Well, I mean, without getting into specifics, a lot of worldbuilding. I mean, you know, one thing that I found very exciting to me, as someone who’s lived in other countries, about Kara in the New 52 is that when she came here she didn’t speak English.

Right.

So I am creating, at least in Supergirl, I’m creating like real grammar rules for Kryptonian so nerds can translate it and read it and try to learn it.

So, the language is different, the culture is different, and we’ll see that sort of play out in the way that she sees different things, whether it’s food, whether it’s family, whether it’s sports.

Y’know, Krypton, for me, I love that sort of Silver Age weirdness and so, I look back and, y’know, we’re leaning into this sort of wild strangeness of comics that I think are wonderful - if you’ve read my other books - and Krypton is a great example of that.

There’s no reason for it to be too similar to Earth. But you’ll see, as we go through the first issue, I love the strange flora and fauna. I love the sort of diversity of cultures, because one thing that always sort of shocked me is that it’s a whole planet, but it always seems like there’s only one type of Kryptonian culture. And, for me, in my world, they can all exist there. Because, y’know, there’s no one Earth culture. And more so, if there is one Kryptonian culture, then that sort of talks about the sacrifices they’ve made to get there as a people. So it is intrinsically different and I think that’s one of the reasons that she is sort of torn between Earth and Krypton now. But the difference is Krypton let Kara go and Earth has welcomed her here.

Last question. Obviously with Midnighter leaving there’s a hole for a lot of people and a lot of people who were feeling very validated by that series. Are you able to say if there’s anything about Supergirl that might soften that blow, particularly for people in the queer community?

Uh, well Supergirl herself has no problem, obviously, with people.I think it is always my goal to have as much inclusivity in a book as possible. And even outside of Supergirl, this is something that’s vital and it’s something I’m always working for. So the answer is, to the best of my own ability, there will always be queer characters in my books. And that’s really the most I can say about that. But I think it’s vitally important, it’s the right thing to do, and I’m going to continue trying to do it.

The post Steve Orlando on a Punk Rock Laurel and Hardy, the Maiden of Might, and the Unified Man appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batman #51http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/04/batman-51/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/04/batman-51/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 04:55:46 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48178 Batman #51

For some reason, I wouldn't associate Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo with circles.  The themes and visions in their dark tales of Gotham are too bold and jagged, too harsh in outline and filled with vivid, aggressive, if restrained and seething, energy.  Triangles would seem more to suit them as a geometrical metaphor.  Still, their run on Batman turns out to describe a closed loop of philosophical statements and literary conceits.

Batman #51 is not the final issue before the line-wide Rebirth event at the end of this month.  That will be, appropriately enough, Batman #52.  However, this is the last issue that Snyder and Capullo will share, and thus it will mark the try end of the longest and most successful run of the New 52 era.  Snyder takes the opportunity to reiterate the main tropes of his vision, a view of Batman and Gotham he has been developing since his time on Detective Comics in the pre-Flashpoint period.

First, we see Batman, specifically the Bruce Wayne Batman, as a fundamentally tragic figure, a man whose superhero persona has consumed his life and destroyed every opportunity for happiness and normalcy, and ultimately every opportunity for survival.  Snyder sketches this out in a brief, poignant conversation between Bruce and Alfred, taking the opportunity to explain how the faithful butler has recovered the hand he lost to the Joker's attack in Endgame.

We then proceed on a tour of Gotham on a relatively normal night, normal in that the only crisis is a mysterious blackout.  We visit the restless and hateful inmates of Arkham Asylum, now in new quarters and under new management.  We see that the Court, no make that the Parliament, of Owls is stirring beneath the city, preparing a new mysterious plot.  We visit our old friend the Penguin as he holds a larcenous summit and hatches his schemes. Snyder returns to one of his favorite ideas, that Gotham constantly challenges you.  It is a living rival, at times an evil and malevolent one, always ready to move against any weakness, always ready to strike at any flaw.

Snyder and Capullo undoubtedly created one of the great and memorable Batman runs.  Their books were redolent with a kind of neo-gothic majesty, a sense of power and darkness and doom.  Capullo's pencil's suggested burden and menace while also retaining beauty and motion.  Danny Miki's inks contributed ever-present shadow, while FCO Plascencia's colors had just the right touch of the lurid.  When people think of this era, it is this book that will provide the iconic images.

Still, every story runs its course.  In truth, this issue illustrates the full majesty of this run, while also becoming just a bit tiresome.  We have heard this all before.  We know what Snyder thinks of Gotham.  We know he sees Batman as tragic.  It's time for a renewal, time for, in truth, a rebirth.  Let's see another Gotham and another Batman.

The post Batman #51 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Batman #51

For some reason, I wouldn't associate Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo with circles.  The themes and visions in their dark tales of Gotham are too bold and jagged, too harsh in outline and filled with vivid, aggressive, if restrained and seething, energy.  Triangles would seem more to suit them as a geometrical metaphor.  Still, their run on Batman turns out to describe a closed loop of philosophical statements and literary conceits.Batman #51 is not the final issue before the line-wide Rebirth event at the end of this month.  That will be, appropriately enough, Batman #52.  However, this is the last issue that Snyder and Capullo will share, and thus it will mark the try end of the longest and most successful run of the New 52 era.  Snyder takes the opportunity to reiterate the main tropes of his vision, a view of Batman and Gotham he has been developing since his time on Detective Comics in the pre-Flashpoint period.First, we see Batman, specifically the Bruce Wayne Batman, as a fundamentally tragic figure, a man whose superhero persona has consumed his life and destroyed every opportunity for happiness and normalcy, and ultimately every opportunity for survival.  Snyder sketches this out in a brief, poignant conversation between Bruce and Alfred, taking the opportunity to explain how the faithful butler has recovered the hand he lost to the Joker's attack in Endgame.We then proceed on a tour of Gotham on a relatively normal night, normal in that the only crisis is a mysterious blackout.  We visit the restless and hateful inmates of Arkham Asylum, now in new quarters and under new management.  We see that the Court, no make that the Parliament, of Owls is stirring beneath the city, preparing a new mysterious plot.  We visit our old friend the Penguin as he holds a larcenous summit and hatches his schemes. Snyder returns to one of his favorite ideas, that Gotham constantly challenges you.  It is a living rival, at times an evil and malevolent one, always ready to move against any weakness, always ready to strike at any flaw.Snyder and Capullo undoubtedly created one of the great and memorable Batman runs.  Their books were redolent with a kind of neo-gothic majesty, a sense of power and darkness and doom.  Capullo's pencil's suggested burden and menace while also retaining beauty and motion.  Danny Miki's inks contributed ever-present shadow, while FCO Plascencia's colors had just the right touch of the lurid.  When people think of this era, it is this book that will provide the iconic images.Still, every story runs its course.  In truth, this issue illustrates the full majesty of this run, while also becoming just a bit tiresome.  We have heard this all before.  We know what Snyder thinks of Gotham.  We know he sees Batman as tragic.  It's time for a renewal, time for, in truth, a rebirth.  Let's see another Gotham and another Batman.

The post Batman #51 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/01/dark-knight-iii-master-race-4/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/01/dark-knight-iii-master-race-4/#comments Sun, 01 May 2016 06:36:33 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48166 Dark Knight III The Master Race #4

The stakes continue to rise. Superman desperately tries to win his daughter over from the vile influence of Quar, leader of the remaining murderous citizens of Kandor, continuing the relational strife we've seen between these two so far, Quar goads Lara into attacking her father, accusing him of betraying his people. It’s a familiar story element, this time presented in vital brutality as Lara beats her father into submission in front of an audience of the world, watching in real-time as he’s hurled into buildings and bloodied all the way up the planet until they’re atop the Fortress of Solitude.

Still, Superman refuses to fight his daughter, and is burned into an obsidian-like form by the combined heat vision of every rogue Kryptonian before him, before being crushed by a mass of ice. The floating sheets of hardened seawater give way to this immense physical pressure, sending Superman’s body to the bottom of the Arctic. Knowing how this has played out in previous DC stories, we can likely expect to see him again real soon.

One of the viewers of Kal-El’s tragic end is Bruce Wayne, shedding his crutches as mysterious concoction and a giant syringe carefully placed by Carrie Kelley has the old Bat back on his feet and feeling a bit more like stepping back into the fire, at least by the appearance of his freshly-donned cowl. His army behind him, he presents a gift to his prodigal understudy.

In mere panels, we see the Flash appear in a burst of light, and brutally incapacitated by one of Earth’s mighty attackers. One of Batman’s legion appear from under a manhole next to Barry’s crumpled body, a look of hopelessness in their eyes. Difficult to watch unfold, but man, is it compelling. Perhaps there’s an intended subtext there.

Finally, and most exciting to me, we see Ray Palmer. Not as dead as we were made to think when he was made to shrink eternally and trod upon by Quar, the vicious leader of this siege of the planet. Onward into the void, The Atom descends, and for an eternal moment, he seems to lose himself. We’re left on the note that this scientist has not abandoned hope, and that he may yet manufacture a way out of his infinitesimally small oblivion. It’s a turn of events that feels similar to the climax of the Ant-Man movie, but isn’t too similar such that it feels disinteresting. I certainly hope to see Mr. Palmer back in action.

The post Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Dark Knight III The Master Race #4

The stakes continue to rise. Superman desperately tries to win his daughter over from the vile influence of Quar, leader of the remaining murderous citizens of Kandor, continuing the relational strife we've seen between these two so far, Quar goads Lara into attacking her father, accusing him of betraying his people. It’s a familiar story element, this time presented in vital brutality as Lara beats her father into submission in front of an audience of the world, watching in real-time as he’s hurled into buildings and bloodied all the way up the planet until they’re atop the Fortress of Solitude.

Still, Superman refuses to fight his daughter, and is burned into an obsidian-like form by the combined heat vision of every rogue Kryptonian before him, before being crushed by a mass of ice. The floating sheets of hardened seawater give way to this immense physical pressure, sending Superman’s body to the bottom of the Arctic. Knowing how this has played out in previous DC stories, we can likely expect to see him again real soon.

One of the viewers of Kal-El’s tragic end is Bruce Wayne, shedding his crutches as mysterious concoction and a giant syringe carefully placed by Carrie Kelley has the old Bat back on his feet and feeling a bit more like stepping back into the fire, at least by the appearance of his freshly-donned cowl. His army behind him, he presents a gift to his prodigal understudy.

In mere panels, we see the Flash appear in a burst of light, and brutally incapacitated by one of Earth’s mighty attackers. One of Batman’s legion appear from under a manhole next to Barry’s crumpled body, a look of hopelessness in their eyes. Difficult to watch unfold, but man, is it compelling. Perhaps there’s an intended subtext there.

Finally, and most exciting to me, we see Ray Palmer. Not as dead as we were made to think when he was made to shrink eternally and trod upon by Quar, the vicious leader of this siege of the planet. Onward into the void, The Atom descends, and for an eternal moment, he seems to lose himself. We’re left on the note that this scientist has not abandoned hope, and that he may yet manufacture a way out of his infinitesimally small oblivion. It’s a turn of events that feels similar to the climax of the Ant-Man movie, but isn’t too similar such that it feels disinteresting. I certainly hope to see Mr. Palmer back in action.

The post Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Ratchet & Clankhttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/01/ratchet-clank/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2016/05/01/ratchet-clank/#comments Sun, 01 May 2016 06:34:30 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=48168 Ratchet & Clank

Beginning as one of the most beloved franchises on the PS2, Ratchet & Clank have graced over 10 galactic adventures of heroism, explosions, and innuendo. Maintaining a balance of accessibility to younger audiences with intelligent writing and jokes that might go over your head on your first play through, Insomniac Games have given gaming some of its most iconic characters, and given PlayStation consoles defining experiences for over 10 years.

Inevitable it seemed, then, that the unlikely duo of the last Lombax and an orphan robot would take the leap between the cracks of media and enter the orifice we call film. Working with Sony Pictures, Insomniac worked seemingly at their own pace, taking time to craft an animated experience that lovingly retells the origin of the titular two main characters and their exploits, breathing life into the universe on a level of detail we’ve never seen before.

Among the host of concerns a gaming fan might have when learning a favourite series is getting a movie adaptation is casting choices, and Insomniac knocked that one out of the Qwark (ugh) by keeping James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye as Ratchet and Clank, respectively, while backing them with a surprisingly star-studded cast (Bella Thorne, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, John Goodman, Paul Giamatti) as all-new characters written for the film.

The story we get is something of a reboot of the original game and lore we’ve come to known, but expanded. Captain Quark is the superhero in the public eye we’ve always heard about, and Ratchet is some goofy kid with big ears and a wrench that just wants to meet his hero. It’s a story we’ve surely seen before, but the charming performances and vivid visual language make it an interpretation that’s still plenty of fun to experience.

Crude humour has always been a lynchpin of the series, and as a longtime fan of the games, I was mildly disappointed with the more kid-oriented tone this movie adopts, but the delivery of the jokes reminds me of some of my favourite moments in more recent Disney films, where the kids are clearly the target, but more mature audience members are still going to spend a good chunk of the time laughing anyway. Some of the jokes fall flat, but the fun tone of the movie keeps things moving along even when the humour isn’t at its strongest.

This film is absolutely loaded with fan service, too. From hidden references and easter eggs to the gratuitous use of weapons we’ve been blowing things up with for years, fans of the series will be thrilled to see hours of memories brought to life on the big screen. Even one of the more unorthodox re-treatments of a classic villain comes full circle in a way that was surprising and satisfying to watch.

The post Ratchet & Clank appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Ratchet & Clank

Beginning as one of the most beloved franchises on the PS2, Ratchet & Clank have graced over 10 galactic adventures of heroism, explosions, and innuendo. Maintaining a balance of accessibility to younger audiences with intelligent writing and jokes that might go over your head on your first play through, Insomniac Games have given gaming some of its most iconic characters, and given PlayStation consoles defining experiences for over 10 years.

Inevitable it seemed, then, that the unlikely duo of the last Lombax and an orphan robot would take the leap between the cracks of media and enter the orifice we call film. Working with Sony Pictures, Insomniac worked seemingly at their own pace, taking time to craft an animated experience that lovingly retells the origin of the titular two main characters and their exploits, breathing life into the universe on a level of detail we’ve never seen before.

Among the host of concerns a gaming fan might have when learning a favourite series is getting a movie adaptation is casting choices, and Insomniac knocked that one out of the Qwark (ugh) by keeping James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye as Ratchet and Clank, respectively, while backing them with a surprisingly star-studded cast (Bella Thorne, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, John Goodman, Paul Giamatti) as all-new characters written for the film.

The story we get is something of a reboot of the original game and lore we’ve come to known, but expanded. Captain Quark is the superhero in the public eye we’ve always heard about, and Ratchet is some goofy kid with big ears and a wrench that just wants to meet his hero. It’s a story we’ve surely seen before, but the charming performances and vivid visual language make it an interpretation that’s still plenty of fun to experience.

Crude humour has always been a lynchpin of the series, and as a longtime fan of the games, I was mildly disappointed with the more kid-oriented tone this movie adopts, but the delivery of the jokes reminds me of some of my favourite moments in more recent Disney films, where the kids are clearly the target, but more mature audience members are still going to spend a good chunk of the time laughing anyway. Some of the jokes fall flat, but the fun tone of the movie keeps things moving along even when the humour isn’t at its strongest.

This film is absolutely loaded with fan service, too. From hidden references and easter eggs to the gratuitous use of weapons we’ve been blowing things up with for years, fans of the series will be thrilled to see hours of memories brought to life on the big screen. Even one of the more unorthodox re-treatments of a classic villain comes full circle in a way that was surprising and satisfying to watch.

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