Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My top 10 of 2011

Now I know we are nearly into Feb but I thought I would share my 10 events, films, comics or just geek out moments of 2011.
I was going to put in some of the disappointments but decided against it, as I want to concentrate on the positives in 2011.
It is a purely personal choice and as they say in X-Factor in no particular order here is my top 10:

The Green Lantern Film: Now I know it had its detractors and some of the pacing of the film wasn't right, but as a film that had to introduce Green Lantern to the world for the first time, it was a good start. I went to see it with Helen (better half) who is not the biggest super hero fan in the world, her verdict '' It was a good film'' trust me that's high praise indeed.

DC New 52: What ever way you look at the new 52 it was a brave move by DC, and one that could have blown up in their faces. Thankfully it didn't and as the last 5 months have shown it has been a fantastic success, breathing new life into characters who had become a bit stale and bogged down in their ongoing history. If I have on slight dig its that it wasn't a full reboot, Batman and the Lantern universe have stayed largely untouched. While other heroes received radical changes, however the story's are brilliant so its only a slight dig.

X-Men First Class: So much could have gone wrong with this film reboot, it didn't and we all got an X-men film that is worthy of the comics its based on.

DC Retroactive: Some good some not so good but all were worth the money, if you haven't read any seek them out.

Thor: I went to this film fearing the worst and came out of the cinema in geek heaven, if you didn't secretly cheer as Thor swings his hammer around then you cannot call yourself a geek, hang your head in shame.

Captain America: Another comic film hit for Marvel take note DC your lagging behind, having seen the 1990 Cap film anything would have been an improvement. Fortunately this was more than an improvement and it washed away those nightmares of the 90's film.

My Blog was Born: I know its a bit self gratifying to put this in but it was a big deal for me, and I am enjoying every moment of it. Thanks will always go to those who inspired and advised me on how to start it up, along with thanks and apretiation to anyone who reads the ramblings of shall we say a mature comic reader & Si-Fi nut.

Meeting Gail Simone: If I was to place one thing at number 1 then this would be it, I met Gail at the Thought Bubble comic con in Leeds. Not only did she sign my comics and have time to chat, she was also kind enough to have a photo taken with me. Its said that you should never meet your heroes as you may be disappointed, well I did and I wasn't.

Scott Snyder: Sometimes a writer just gets a character and their run on that book becomes legendary, Scott Snyder gets Batman and the world he inhabits which made his run on Detective Comics simply brilliant. He is currently transferring that same brilliance to the main Batman book, and lets not forget both Bruce Wayne &  Dick Grayson were both Batman on his watch. Add to that Gates of Gotham which layed the foundations currently been played out within the Batman title, American Vampire and Swamp Thing and you have a set of very impressive books.

Batman Year One Animated Film: This was as close to a living breathing comic book I have ever seen, each panel of Frank Millers classic Batman story was brought to life (well animated life)
Of all the animated films DC have brought out, for me this one stands head and shoulders above all of them.

Well that's it my top 10 of 2011 a good year for comics and Si-Fi, I'm hoping 2012 will be better.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Demon Knights #5

Now I’m a big fan of superhero comics but I also have other comic book tastes, that fall outside the spandex world of the superhero. One such book that falls into that bracket is Demon Knights, set in the very early years of the DCU (think Arthurian) the story centres around a bunch of misfits who have come together in the wrong place at the right time. The small village of little Spring stands in the way of The Horde army led by the Questing Queen and her consort Mordru, acting as unofficial protectors of the village are Jason Blood / Etrigan, The Horse Woman, Exoristos, Xanadu, Al-Jabr a Saraacen, Vandal Savage who used to command The Horde and The Sinning Knight Sir Yestin.

This issue starts with the village under siege as The Horde prepare to attack, as they make their way to the village of Alba Sarum further up the pass from Little Spring. The Horse Woman has just put an arrow through Exoristos as punishment for getting a young girl killed, she sent her on a mission outside the village instead of going herself (I would have thought a strong talking too would have been a better option)

Meanwhile Al-Jabr is attacking Jason Blood because his alter ego Etrican has killed the local priest, Xanadu has aged due to using most of her power defending the village and no one trusts Vandal Savage.
So it is little wonder that the villages are not too happy with their protectors, and are belaming them for bringing The Horde down upon them.

As if this band of misfits arnt disjointed enough Ouesting Queen and Mordrue's spirts enter the village via the help of a magical glass sphere to try and destabilise the group even more, the sphere keeps them invisible unless they want to be seen and can even change their apearance (oh these magic people have such wonderful toys) although I did wonder if you could look like anyone then why not go in as villages.

Each of the group is offered a bribe personal to them so that they will leave the village, and as you would expect all decline. The most interesting bribe was made by Mordrue to Exoristos, who was offered a return back to the home she had been bannished from Paradise Island?
Now is she an Amazon, maybe a ancestor of Wonder Woman?

It is durring these seanes that you get to learn a littel bit more about each character, as you are cleverly drip feed a littel bit more information about each one of them.
Vandal Savage however doesn’t need any encouragement to leave as he is seen leaving the camp under cover of darkness, apparently killing a young boy in the process to avoid not been caught. I say apparently as all may not be as it seems, and for me the loss of Savage from this group would be a major blow for the book.
Savage reunites with the Horde and quickly takes charge of them, but not before he steals a kiss from the Queen (all without the aid of Linx, real men’s men in those day)
The final pages of the book see the queen order the attack on the village starting with the Wallbreaker, think upset dinosaur and you would be in the right ball park.

The artwork in this book is absolutely stunning and all involved deserve a mention, Diogenes Neves penciller, Oclair Albert & Neves inkers and Marcelo Maiolo colorist.
Add to that Paul Cornells excellent writing, and you have the reason why this is one of the first books I read when I pick my comics up.

If your not familiar with the characters dont let that put you off, as I wasn't too familiar with any of them and found this an advantage as I didn’t come into the book with preconceived ideas. 
However, I was aware that Etrigan talked in rhyme something I had found annoying, on the odd occasions he had appeared in books I was reading. The lack of rhyming by Etrigan in this book is a plus point, as it has helped develop the character and he doesn’t seem as cartoony as he was before.
(Also the rhyming must have been a devil to write – sorry couldn’t resist)

 Of the other characters they all seem to be getting equal page time and character development which is not easy on a team book, especially one that has as much going on in it as this one does, all of which is a credit to the writing of Mr Cornell.

I had noted that sales figures were not too good on this book, and feared it may have been one of those cut when the announcements were made. I was however delighted that it wasn’t and long may it stay that way.

If you haven’t read this book please go out and give it a go, when I last looked in my local comic shop all issues were still available.
I give it my highest recommendation, its different but different is good.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

News & Sci-Fi Rumours

2012 will see the release of Batman: Earth One like Superman Earth One it will be in the form of a graphic novel and will retell the Batman story in a modern contemporary setting ( a bit like the New 52 then)
The book is collaboration between DC’s man of the moment Geoff Johns and acclaimed artist Gary Frank, John’s the driving force behind the Green Lantern universe and the current Aquaman comic was one of the main players in the resent re-boot of the DC Universe. He is currently writing Justice League, Green Lantern and Aquaman, no information yet if he will be moving off any of these books while he writes Batman.

IN May DC Comics will add 6 new books to their new 52 universe, they will also be dropping 6 books to keep the universe at 52 books (as long as you don't count the mini's) The six books that have been dropped are:  BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C. and STATIC SHOCK, all of which end at issue 8 in April.
Below is the list of comics as shown on the DC blog site The Source:
  • BATMAN INCORPORATED – Writer: Grant Morrison. Artist: Chris Burnham. The acclaimed ongoing writer of ACTION COMICS, Grant Morrison, presents a fresh take on BATMAN INCORPORATED, in which the Batman brand is franchised globally in preparation for a major international threat.
  • EARTH 2Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.
  • WORLDS’ FINESTWriter: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.
  • DIAL HWriter: China MiĆ©ville. Artist: Mateus Santoluoco. The first ongoing series from acclaimed novelist China MiĆ©ville, this is a bold new take on a cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero.
  • G.I. COMBATWriter: J.T. Krul. Artist: Ariel Olivetti. Featuring the return of a classic DC Comics series, THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT, along with rotating back-up stories and creative teams – including THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Dan Panosian; and THE HAUNTED TANK, with writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins.
  • THE RAVAGERSWriter: Howard Mackie. Artist: Ian Churchill. Spinning off from TEEN TITANS and SUPERBOY, this series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against the organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.
Of the new books Earth 2 and Worlds Finest have me most excited but I question the need for another Batman book to finish off the Batman Incorporated story. As I don't get any of the books that have been canceled then I cannot comment on them, only to say that none of them are a shock.

SFX Magazine reports that CW has a live Green Arrow TV show is in development.
Justin Hartley played Green Arrow in the recently finished CW show Smallville, no word as of yet as to if he will be playing the role in any new TV show.

Again from SFX ( I have a subscription) NBC are developing a new series based on Dracula, this will be a contemporary take on the Dracula story TV talk for there are going to massive changes to the story. It is described as Dangerous Liaisons meets The Tudors, again TV talk for lots of bare flesh I will keep my eye out for this one.

The live-action Star Wars TV show has the working title of Star Wars: Underworld. Despite having a title there is no news of production dates, although reports say that the scripts have been written. It is rumored that the story will take place in the relatively unknown 20 year period when Luke Skywalker was growing up, which would mean between Attack of the Clones & New Hope. It is not yet known if any of the characters from the films will be featured on the show (if ever made) durring that 20 year time period.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Aquaman 4 - The rebirth of a hero

The first story arc of Geoff John's Aquaman has wrapped up in issues 4, and what a fantastic arc it has been for this much maligned DC hero.

Aquaman & Mera have reached the volcanic trench in search of the people who have been taken by the creatures who live there, what they find is an old Atlantian underwater craft from a time before Atlantis sank.
Now I may be wrong and my wife will often tell me that I am even when I'm right, but I think this craft is a set-up for future story's to come.

Once our hero and heroine enter the trench battle ensues as they confront the king and queen of the deep water creatures, as we discover it is the queen who is feeding on the missing people so that she can continue giving birth. Think Alien underwater and you wont be far off target.
Well as you would expect after battling overwhelming odds Aquaman & Mera save the day, and get the lost people of Beachrock back to dry land safe and sound. They also ensure that the trench creatures are not a threat any more, but as you know in comics never say never. If I have one gripe about the book is that after a 3 issue build-up, the trench creatures are dispatched rather quickly, but it is only a small gripe.

This book is a fun read and the beauty of it is that it doesn't take its self too seriously, but crucially it never comes over as slap stick either. The panel where the young boy tells Aquaman that he is his favourite superhero is a joy to see, this is followed by one of the police saying ''I still don't like him'', brilliant writing by Mr John's.
The artwork by Ivan Reis is simply stunning and the inks and colour work only enhance the book, the underwater panels are fantastically put together with 2 double page spreads that are simply breath taking.

Geoff Johns love for Aquaman shines throughout this book, but it is his writing of Mera as well as Aquaman that for me make this book outstanding. She is as important to Aquaman as Robin is to Batman, and long may she continue to be written this way as I could not imagine the book without her in it.

The final pages where we see Arthur and Mera relaxing in their lighthouse home at Amnety Bay, are the perfect ending to the book as we see Arthur given a pet. Now I know you are all thinking dolphin but your wrong, its a dog a dog that has no name. The policeman who delivers him to Arthur suggests they call him Aqua-dog, again the comic is not taking its self to seriously. I for one would be happy if he was called Aqua-dog, but that's probably because I'm missing Krypto the super dog.

The final page saying coming up this year ''Who sank Atlantis'' looks to be a promise of grater things to come, and I for one cannot wait to see what Mr Johns has in store for the Atlantian couple. 

If you haven't picked up this book yet then your missing the re-birth of a classic DC character, Aquaman Rebirth now that has a familiar ring to it. Enough of my rambling and do your self a favour go pick this book up, I give it the highest of recommendations.