Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brad's Two Weeks In Dork! (7/8/12-7/21/12)

Oh vacation...I am sad to see you go.

That being said, obviously, it's been a pretty damn great couple of Weeks in Dork for me. With my second trip to the  Comic Con behind me, I am declaring that I will try to make it to each and every Comic Con for the rest of my life.  For four days in July, the San Diego Comic Con is a place of pure pop culture bliss and for someone like me (and thankfully my wife) there is no happier place on Earth.  Genuine Dork Heaven.  Me & Comic Con must never be apart.


The Green Hornet:  While packing for San Diego I was trying to find the perfect movie to send us on our way to Comic Con.  For some reason, Michel Gondry's slacker hero saga seemed like the perfect fit.  Of course, I can't really say I gave this viewing of the film my full attention, but dangit, I really do love Seth Rogen's dumbass dolt interpretation of the classic pulp hero.  This may not be the film purists wanted, and I could see why it could bring the fanboy rage, but once you accept it as an action comedy, The Green Hornet is plenty fun. Christoph Waltz is goofy scary as Bloodnofsky and his introductory double barreled confrontation with James Franco cracks me up every time. But, again, it's Rogen that steals my heart here. He's such an awful human being, and poor Jay Chou and Cameron Diaz just has to put up with his grotesque do-gooder charm.

Comic Con Epiosde IV - A Fan's Hope:  As I wrote in Part I of my Comic Con Report, seeing this actually at Comic Con with a crowd of Ballroom 20 enthusiasts is a much different experience than watching it home, alone On Demand.  I still question whether this film would have any sort of impact on a non-Comic Con attendee, but as one of the initiated I can safely say that I adore the exploration of Geek Love being done in Morgan Spurlock's documentary.  True, the Boyfirend/Girlfriend characters are kinda annoying and The Collector's story (I actually saw him outside the Convention Center on Thursday night) does not hold much narrative weight.  But the Skip Harvey story pulls the heart strings, as does the triumph of Holly Conrad.  I'm not a huge Morgan Spurlock fan, I enjoyed Super Size Me enough I guess but I do cherish moments of this film.  Something I'll probably return to ever couple of years, especially if...gulp, I can't make a particular year.

Batman Begins:  Christopher Nolan & David Goyer cobble together various bits of comic book history to present the first ever (anywhere) origin of The Dark Knight. Batman Begins sharpens the theme of fear beyond its choice in villain, pinpointing Bruce Wayne's childhood nightmares as a contributing factor in his parent's death and The Batman's ability to refocus that energy as a weapon against the enemies of Gotham. And, finally, Michael Caine's Alfred is used as the father figure and not just a vigilante enabler. There are definitely some wonky bits of exposition and the fight sequences are a little too jump cutty close-up for my tastes, but Batman Begins remains my favorite cinematic interpretation of the Caped Crusader.

The Dark Knight:  "He's Not The Hero We Need." The story of Bruce Wayne takes a bit of a back seat to the tragedy of Harvey Dent, but The Dark Knight manages to up the villain ante in a successfully terrifying manner with the introduction of Heath Ledger's horrifying, serial killing anarchist. But, again, the real star of this film is Aaron Eckhart's White Knight and the potential curse brought upon Gotham by the very presence of The Batman. The Mob War story introduced in Begins is perfected by Eric Roberts's smarmy night club don, but the stretching of narrative definitely pulls back from the tale of The Bat. And the Marvel Crowd sensibilities of the ferry sequence still rub me the wrong way.

The Dark Knight Rises:  Eight years have passed since the fall of Harvey Dent. Gotham appears to be enjoying a period of unprecedented peace. There is no need for Batman, or for Bruce Wayne. Enter Tom Hardy's Wrath of Khan...Bane. The Dark Knight Rises offers few narrative surprises, but nearly four years of anticipation and a lustful consumption of Batman comics have given me (and I'm betting plenty of other Bat-Nerds) plenty of time to write and rewrite the script in their brains. Give it a few months (or maybe years) and we'll see The Dark Knight Rises as a perfectly satisfying conclusion to Christopher Nolan's epic Batman saga. Not to mention, Nolan has finally given us a couple of humdinger, knock-down drag-out cage matches between Bats and Bane--steadying the camera and delivering a proper super hero battle. And yes, I could listen to Hardy's Bane voice all day long, I love that robot rasp. Sure, I'd love to go into further spoiler territory and discuss some issues with the climax, but that's for a later date.


Batman - Earth One:  DC's Earth One books are pretty much another incarnation of Marvel's Ultimate Universe, taking classic characters like Superman & Batman and re-imagining them for the modern era. The pessimist fanboy inside me wants to respond with a big yawn. But Geoff Johns & Gary Frank have a lot of fun with Bruce Wayne and the cesspool that is Gotham City, placing Oswald Cobblepot at the center of the Wayne Murder Mystery and elevating Alfred Pennyworth into a serious Royal Marine badass. Sure, some of the changes are a little wincing. Svelte Hollywood Harvey Bullock just doesn't work for me, and Bruce is a little too much of a blusterous ass. But Gary Frank's art is stunning. I want him on a regular Bat book pronto; his cowl close ups are seriously menacing in a Sergio Leone Once Upon A Time In The West sorta way. A fun read, but ultimately disposable since I don't see them continuing any further with this Earth One incarnation. But come on DC, prove me wrong. Go for broke.

Batman - The Long Halloween:  The book I often cite to those sorry folks unfamiliar with the world of The Dark Knight, The Long Halloween offers a wonderful tour through Batman's rogues gallery while positing an engaging murder mystery pulsating through the heart of Gotham City's crime world. A serial killer targets the family of mafioso Carmine Falcone, striking only on Holidays and igniting the fervor in Gotham's shining knights: Captain Gordon, DA Harvey Dent, and The Batman. Fans of the Christopher Nolan's films will find the origins of the Falcone/Maroni war, the "I Believe In Harvey Dent" tragedy, as well as the general relationship between our trilogy of do-gooders. Writer Jeph Loeb has never been better (despite numerous rehashes) and Tim Sale's cartoon caricature art style offers several beautiful stings of iconic imagery. An Absolute Must for Fans of The Bat.

Batman # 11:  The Court of Owls storyline appears to be over...for now anyway.  And as much as I enjoyed this tour through the hidden history of Gotham City I gotta admit that I'm a little disappointed by the conclusion.  Curious to read it in trade for sure, but my first impression is that this Massive Conspiracy is wrapped up a little too neatly, especially after the crazy shocking revelation of last month's issue.  Still, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are offering up some really great Bat narratives and I'm excited to see what comes next...even if it's another Joker story.

Spider-Men # 3:  Mysterio Attacks!  And kicks the Spider-Men's asses.  Love it.  And Peter Parker seems to be loosing his mind in the Ultimate Universe and I really cannot wait till the next issue.  Seriously, it's time for some really crazy crossover melodrama and I find this aspect of the Spider-Men event more satisfying than all the craziest incarnations of the Sinister Six.

BPRD - The Devil's Engine:  The concluding issue in The Devil's Engine reveals the filler nature of this Hell on Earth story.  I guess it's good to build the characters of Fenix and Agent Devon but I was left craving a little more story from this arc.  But it looks like we're gonna get it with The Return of the Master storyarc on the horizon and I'm excited to see the monstrous science of Zinco revving up the crazy.  Still, I'm more than ready to get back to our regular cast of characters.

Baltimore - Dr. Leskovar's Remedy # 1 & 2:  Another short story while we bide our time for the next big vampire hunter saga.  Lord Baltimore arrives in Croatia bringing gnarly Lovecraftian crab monsters that somehow manage not to be as terrifying as the vampire hybrids hidden in seaport town below.  It's a fun story and Ben Stenbeck continues to rock the horror landscape.  Just keep 'em coming.

Before Watchmen - Minutemen # 2:  I'm still waiting to be wowed by the story.  I don't see that happening.  But I will keep on going with this title thanks to Darwyn Cooke's art.  He's a perfect artistic fit for this story even if his scripting can't seem to drum up my interest.  I just keep coming back to the idea that there was already plenty of backstory in Alan Moore's original book and all this prequel stuff seems completely redundant.


San Diego International Comic Con:  What?  You thought I was done droning on about my Comic Con experience?  You were sadly mistaken.  Actually, I just wanted to share a few more photos taken inside the Convention Center.  Nothing major, just some GI Joe Retaliation love, some Hobbit Legos, and a crazy collection of Boba Fetts.


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