Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brad's Week In Dork! (11/18/12-11/24/12)

In just over a week I read 97 issues of Robert Kirkman's Invincible.  I did very little else.  It was a feast.  And one of the best I've ever partaken in.  The first two Ultimate Collection hardcovers are a lot of fun. Marvelesque super hero comics with a little taste of brutality.  But with Volumes 3-7, Invincible becomes something more akin to an epic poem.  Think Beowulf with a few more dudes in spandex...and a lot more Grendels getting torn to shreds.  Absolutely painful melodrama, something I really wish could occur in Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man.  If you've been reading Kirkman's Walking Dead, but skipping Invincible than you're missing out on the better book.  Sorry folks, but that's the truth.

The Black Hole:  This is a boring movie.  Birthed from the same era of live action Disney that brought us the cult of Tron.  But, dang, it's a real snoozefest...with a crazy cast that includes a whole bunch of actors I love: Robert Forster, Ernest Borgnine, Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimeux, and Maximillian Schell.  It's got crazy robot gunslingers, goofy R2-D2 wannabes, and the Heart of Darkness personified in a beautifully 80s swirling Black Hole effect.  None of that matters though, cuz the screenplay is lifeless.  A real missed opportunity.

Tron - Legacy:  I dig the original film (definitely more than Black Hole), but I don't drink from the digital Kool-Aid.  I do, however, love to get drunk of the bio-digital jazz of the sequel.  Not sure when Jeff Bridges' architect transformed into The Dude, but that groovy psychedelic philosophy feels like an appropriate addition to this family friendly cyberpunk.  Garret Hedlund is a serviceable son and Olivia Wilde a fine program, but it's director Joseph Kosinski's fanboy infatuation of the universe that's truly infectious.  Too bad the world didn't seem to respond to this world with the same enthusiasm cuz I would have been perfectly happy with a new trilogy.  If for no other reason than to see Cillian Murphy's villainous offspring go off on the hippy dippy Flynn family.

Invincible Volume 3 Deluxe Hardcover:  Just when Mark's settling into the life of Invincible, his psycho evil father Omni-Man reappears and he's got a whole new world to save.  Can Mark handle the idea that his pa might have had a change of heart?  Well, he doesn't have much time to contemplate as three sentries from the Viltrum Empire arrive to smash some traitor's faces.  And if that super villain asskicking isn't enough, than the dimension hopping Angstrom Levy arrives to torture the Grayson family.  And oh yeah - Science Dog!

Invincible Volume 4 Deluxe Hardcover:  Mark finally goes toe-to-toe with the creator of the Reanimen.  The Sequids puppet master army strikes!  Omni-Man & Allen The Alien discover friendship.  The Viltrums appoint Invincible conqueror of Earth.  A whole lot is going down in the world of the Grayson family, but all this fun & adventure is just going to build to wretched agony.   Volume 4 in the Invincible saga is another brick in the building.  Love it, sure.  But the real good stuff is just around the corner.

Invincible Volume 5 Deluxe Hardcover:  After a savage battle with Doc Seismic, Mark Grayson discovers the dark methods at the disposal of the U.S. Government.  Invincible strikes out against Cecil for employing both the murderous Darkwing and the not-at-all Super Patriotic Reanimen.  Tossing in his yellow duds, striking out on his own, and trying to be a father to the young Oliver - the previous four volumes look pretty tame after the carnage born here.  And it's only going to get worse for poor Mark.  He might finally have relations with Atom Eve, but the little pleasures might not be enough with the return of his arch-nemisis, Angstrom Levy.  War is coming.  And it's gonna be red.

Lincoln:  Here was a shock.  After suffering the weak melodrama of last year's War Horse, I was not expecting much from Steven Spielberg's Abe Lincoln biography.  Especially in a year when ol' Honest Abe slayed vampires amongst the Confederates.  But damn.  This was a great movie.  Why?  It's not a biopic.  Focusing almost exclusively on the month of January 1865, depicting the beastly struggle to pass the 13th Amendment.  This is not a sweeping, directionless biography desperately trying to capture the life of our most iconic President.  And in narrowing the narrative we still get all the epic traits that make Lincoln the symbol we all know and love; it also offers a few extra morsels to ponder.  Lincoln the father.  Lincoln the old man storyteller.  And Daniel Day Lewis is phenomenal.  He steps right off the five dollar bill, gives you that Statue but also the humanity in the voice.  He makes me love this man in a way I've never experienced before.  I want to read Team of Rivals.  I want to read Lincoln's Virtues.  I want to read his speeches.  That's a new desire for me.  Thank you, Steven Spielberg.  And you gotta love the rest of the cast.  Tommy Lee Jones is so wonderfully self-rightous and cantankerous as the morally avenging Thaddeus Stevens.  James Spader is a lovingly delightful rascal as the cunning vote-hunter Bilbo Not Baggins.  And then you've got every other actor under the sun, sporting beards and looking like historical badasses.  Tim Blake Nelson.  Bruce McGill.  John Hawkes.  Jared Harris.  Jackie Earl Haley.  Hal Holbrook.  The list goes on and on.  Lincoln definitely turned out to be one of my personal surprises this Winter season.

Reservoir Dogs:  I've bought every version of this film, from the original VHS release, to the gas can DVD, to the blu ray, and now this completely superfluous but somehow essential Tarantino Box Set version (honestly, I just had to own that Ken Taylor cover art).  But Reservoir Dogs is a monumental film in my geek history.  It represents my second mutation as a film fanatic.  Before Dogs I was Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, and a little Indiana Jones.  But Reservoir Dogs opened up the world of cinema.  It showed me that a conversation about Like A Virgin & the methodology of tipping could be as exciting as an epic gun battle.  And it also pointed me towards other great films.  From Tarantino I discovered the French New Wave, Spaghetti Westerns (the real stuff, not just Leone), and Hong Kong shoot 'em ups.  I'm pretty sure I would have found all this stuff on my own eventually, but Reservoir Dogs sped the process along.  For that I will always be thankful.  And buy every damn edition of this movie I can.

Captain America #1:  This is probably the Marvel Now book I was both anticipating and dreading the most.  Ed Brubaker's run on Cap might have petered out, but at its height (The Death of Captain America) there was no better super hero book on the stand.  Great War & Espionage stories packed with troubled philosophies and deep seeded emotional turmoil.  So yanking the Captain out of our universe for the JRJR blocky Dimension Z?  That just don't jive with me.  Having now just finished this goofy book, I'm just really unsure if this is what I want out of this character. I'm going to give Rick Remender the first arc, but I really don't want to see one of my favorite comic book characters buried in tired Christ Claremont concepts.

Deadpool #2:  There are some serious chuckles here.  A zombie Teddy Roosevelt storms into the Brooklyn Zoo and starts blasting for Trophies.  S.H.I.E.L.D sends in Deadpool to take down the mad Prez and his mighty big stick.  As you know, I've never been a Deadpool fan.  And I don't think I'm going to start.  Posehn & Duggan are writing a very jokey-jokey book and it wins a good batch of chuckles but I'm mostly just left scratching my head.  That being said, Tony Moore's art is kick ass for sure and I'll stick on for the first six issues.

Indestructible Hulk #1:  Thanks to Daredevil and The Rocketeer - Cargo of Doom, Mark Waid is enjoying a new wave of enthusiasm from the comic book community.  The idea of him bringing a whole heap of fun to the jolly green Mister Hyde is quite appealing, but it's too early to tell what this book is going to become.  Bruce Banner pretty much forces the Hulk upon S.H.I.E.L.D and it looks like we're going to get a lot of strange bedfellows kinda drama (comedy?).  Leinel Yu is not my favorite artist on the planet but no body can draw green rage quite like him.  Hulking Out has never looked so good.  But Banner & the other puny humans?  Kinda ugly.

Red Dawn:  Oh man.  This was all kinds of useless bad.  I'm not the uber fan of the original, but I can appreciate its Commie paranoia and machine gun fetishizing as much as the next John Milius fan.  But the remake is an anemic adaptation that completely lacks the balls to be badass.  Filmed well before Thor or The Hunger Games, you can still sense a good amount of charm in both Chris Hemsworth & Josh Hutcherson.  And I've always had a hope for doomed Wonder Woman Adriene Palecki.  But the PG-13 action is just a bunch of play, and nearly all the action is hidden within montage.  A sadsack cash-in.

Invincible Volume 6 Deluxe Hardcover:  This might be one of the most brutal collection of comics ever assembled.  Everything leading up to this volume has been kiddie play.  Invincible's apparent pummeling of Angstrom Levy only created a meaner, tougher, smarter monster.  The super villain reaches across countless dimensions, gather an army of evil Mirror versions of Mark Grayson - and then he unleashes them upon our poor, unsuspecting Earth.  The devastation they cause is world changing.  But the war of the infinite Invisibles is just the beginning.  Before he can even catch a breath, the Viltrum nightmare known as Conquest.

The resulting battle is some of the toughest panels I've ever experienced in a comics.  Not just the beautifully splashy red but the tragic realization that Mark is just not ready to deal with the impending Viltrum takeover.  And neither is the U.S. Government.  It's time to look towards the Cosmos; a little help from troubled Pa Omni-Man & Allen the Alien.  And then there's the Sequid uprising on Earth.  BWA HUH?!?!?  Seriously, just one of these events would be enough story for at least a year at Marvel or DC, but Robert Kirkman is throwing one brutal blow after the other.  He's constantly punishing his characters, but they keep rising to the challenge.

Invincible Volume 7 Deluxe Hardcover:  Ok.  Remember how a few paragraphs ago I said that Volume 6 was some of the most brutal comics in the industry...yeah, that's still true, but Volume 7 is even worse.  Mark & Oliver leave Earth and joins the Coalition of Planets.  The Viltrumite War is here.  You've got Allen the Alien, Omni-Man, Tech-Jacket, Battle Beast.  Some of the toughest dudes in the universe and they're still no match for a handful of Viltrum scum.  And the five issue battle makes the bloody beatdown at the hands of Conquest look like foreplay.  I mean, I think the horror found within Ryan Ottley's art is ten times more horrifying than the goriest panels of The Walking Dead.  Limbs get plucked.  Jaws ripped from their hinges.  Super Hero bodies just absolutely pulverized.  And when the war comes to an end - or stalemate, Invincible has to encounter the devilish Dinosaurus.  Could this scary ass Dr Jekyll/Incredible Hulk creation be an even bigger threat than those Viltrumite doomsayers? The build to issue #100 begins here.

Invincible Tradepaperback Volume 16 - Family Ties:  Mark attempts to talk his way into the heart and brain of Dinosaurus, and an partnership seems to have been reached.  Meanwhile in space, Allen the Alien & Oliver race to deliver the death of all mankind in the form of a Viltrum killing toxin.  Sixteen trade paperbacks into the series, and Mark Grayson finally has to prove his understanding of "Right & Wrong" to his baby brother and the newfound leader of the Coalition of Planets.  Basically, this is the book that shows off why mankind is so dang special.  Of course, there's more cost for Invincible.

Invincible #91-97:  Never been a big fan of powerloss stories, but don't worry, Kirkman knows not to dwell on it too long.  That being said, Bulletproof has to strap on the suit to help Atom Eve with the Invincible, Inc side business.  But Bulletproof might not be the most level headed the very least he doesn't know how to handle his parents.  Most of these issues deal with what went down between Robot & Monster Girl in the Flaxxan dimension.  It's fairly interesting, but it's also not my favorite stuff in this series.  I really just want to get onto the Dinosaurus madness and the upcoming "Death of Everyone" story arc that's climaxing with issue #100.  I'm kinda scared that Kirkman is going to deliver on the story title.  Will Mark Grayson be around for issue 101?  Hope so.


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