Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Every once in a while a book comes along that you can't help but feel like you're reading something special as you turn the pages, The Underwater Welder is one of those. The story centers around Jack, an underwater welder who is addicted to his work, which is putting a significant strain on his relationship with his pregnant wife, Susie. With his son due in only a few weeks, Jack leaves home for a two-week stint on an oil rig off of Nova Scotia. On his first day in the water, while working Jack has an encounter with a strange object. He chases after it, losing contact with the rig. On board, noticing an issue with Jack's oxygen supply, his friend Trapper panics and quickly raises him to the surface. When Jack tries to explain what he had seen, it's written off by everyone as nothing but a side effect of the stress of impending fatherhood combined with exhaustion due to his work habits. He's ordered to take a leave of absence, to take some time to rest and to be with his wife while they prepare for the arrival of their son. Jack can't rest though, he can't shake the feeling that something important is at the bottom of the water. When the strain of the constant fighting between he and Susie becomes too much for him to handle, he decides to dive one more time into the darkness of the ocean, to figure out what exactly it is that's been pulling at him from the bottom.
I left the synopsis purposely vague, as everyone simply needs to experience this book for themselves. At it's heart, The Underwater Welder is a dramatic character study that will speak to anyone who's ever felt the pressure that comes along with impending fatherhood for the first time. It's in that regard that this book really spoke to me, as I can remember all to well being both excited, and scared shitless at the exact same time before my son was born. The constant questioning of not only if you're ready, but if you're even capable of being responsible for the care of a new life is an overwhelming feeling to say the least. I felt like that's why Jack threw himself into his work, and on that note I can certainly relate to him as I can remember spending some long hours at the hospital during that time . Then there was the fighting with Susie, which of course stemmed from Jack's behavior, but also from her own issues with dealing of the stress of pregnancy combined with the feeling that she was in it alone because Jack was gone from home for weeks at a time working. I couldn't help but feel for her, but at the same time think back again to the state of mind I was in during the months before my son was born, and the things I couldn't see then, but should've been doing differently. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Impending parenthood isn't the only theme touched on in The Underwater Welder, but it would ruin a bit of the story to elaborate further, so I won't.
If you're thinking "Damn, this doesn't sound like the kind of book that you would be into, Bonesy. I mean, there's no Batman, and nobody even gets their head ripped off.", well you're right friend. While I like to think I have a pretty broad palette when it comes to reading, I can tell you that if it hadn't been a creator whose work I admire the way I do Jeff Lemire's, I may not have ordered it. Thankfully, I was introduced to Jeff's work a couple years ago when his creator-owned Sweet Tooth began from DC's Vertigo imprint. I was highly impressed with it, and have read everything he's done since. As with Sweet Tooth, Jeff both writes and does the art in The Underwater Welder, both beautifully so. This is easily the best work I've seen from him thus far, I'd even go so far as to call it an achievement. This book is an absolute must-read. It's a shining example of a master storyteller putting his heart and soul into his art. In this medium, they don't get much better. Clear some space on your shelf for your Eisner's, Mr. Lemire.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
If you're visiting here based on that post, then welcome! Look around, enjoy your stay. If you visit here on any sort of a regular basis, then you already know that mediocrity is the rule. That's all well and good for when I'm posting things in my own little world here, but when somebody asks me to contribute to their site, I take it quite seriously, and the butterflies usually follow post-haste. In this particular case, I have to admit, it was worse than usual, not only because I was being handed the keys to a blog that I have a lot of respect and admiration for, but because when I heard about the other people that were being invited to participate, I worried that I would be the weakest link in the chain of awesome that would be Slaterocalypse.
It's for those reasons, and the fact that I truly love the movie, that when I went to do the write-up, I knew I was going to go all out on it, bring my proverbial "A-game" so to speak. It's a beast of a read, and I probably should look into hiring an editor of some kind, but one thing is for sure, you will believe me when I tell you I love True Romance. The post went up this morning over at Back Online, Back On Duty and can be read here for those inclined to do so. Even if you don't read my entry, be sure and check out all the Christian Slater love being thrown around. There are some talented writers with posts on deck, and I personally can't wait to read them all. Also be sure and check out all the kickass graphics not only in my post, but throughout Slaterocalypse, which were done by the supremely awesome Frank Browning. Big thanks to Frank for the True Romance graphics that are prettying up my post.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Comic book movies have a sad history of majorly disappointing third entries, some of which have even ended up being franchise killers. The list is littered with mediocrity, including X3 X-Men United, Blade Trinity, Spider-Man 3, of course Batman Forever, and sadly the list goes on. I had absolutely no worry that The Dark Knight Rises was going to continue in this trend though. I knew it might not be the best of the three, but it certainly wouldn't be bad or even disappointing, and it's not. It's a fantastic third act of one hell of an epic trilogy. If there are truly no more Batman films from these filmmakers, then it's an amazingly satisfying ending.
If you look at the films individually though, in my opinion Rises ends up being the worst of the three, particularly looking at it through the eyes of a comic book fanboy, but calling it the worst in this series is like saying it's the worst out of three different handjobs. I've mostly liked all of the minor tweaks and changes that have come with this version of the Bat universe, as with any conversion from book to film, certain things change, and I'm not one of those people who can't understand this concept. In that regard, I felt like this one was sadly, a bit predictable, including the film's main twist. If you know your Bat villains, nothing should really surprise you. That's what ends up being my main let down here, but it's hard to really describe without spoiling it. Basically up to this point I felt like Nolan was making the Batman movies we comic fans have always wanted, never attempted to use the characters that we've known for years as a way to "surprise" us with a twist that we would see right through, and that isn't the case with Rises. It kind of sucked to be able to call something REALLY early on that ends up being what was supposed to be the big shock of the film.
This one also has the least actual screen time for Batman. It's a Batman movie, but he takes a back seat to Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, Bane, and hell, just about every other character in the flick. Bale only appears in costume three, maybe four times. When he does, it's great, and this may sound like I'm being picky, but damn, it's a Batman movie and I'd like to see Batman in it a good bit. Even the trademark gadgets are almost non-existent. I didn't want him to open up his utility belt and pull out some "Bat Bane-repellant spray" or anything, but come on. Yeah he got the Batwing, although it's only ever referred to as "The Bat", and the Batpod makes a return, but the Tumbler is surprisingly absent, save for some of the desert camo prototypes that the bad guys end up getting their hands on, and there is almost nothing else. Lucius Fox even makes a little joke about Bruce not asking him for anything. I do have to say, the Batwing was freakin awesome though.
If I'm going to be completely honest with myself, I knew going into Rises that there was no way it would be able to top The Dark Knight. This is a Bane flick, and TDK had the Joker, plain and simple. No matter how badass Christopher Nolan was able to make Bane, my own personal preferences would be keeping me from enjoying this more than a Joker/Two-Face movie. I've never liked Bane, not in the comics and certainly not in Batman and Robin, but what the hell, nothing in that movie was likable. In Rises, Nolan managed to do what I would've thought impossible, he not only made Bane a serious villain, a truly scary villain, but he also managed to make me like him, a lot. As a matter of fact, out of the three movies, I'd say Bane ended up only behind Joker and Scarecrow in order of my favorite villains. That's no small feat, and it's a credit to Nolan's vision for Batman. Of course he doesn't get all the credit, and it's certainly worth mentioning that Tom Hardy is not only excellent in the role, but ends up stealing the movie. His delivery of some of the dialog actually gave me chills. He's also put on some serious weight for the part, and is as physically intimidating as we've seen from these movies. Nothing Batman has faced up until this point has actually made you wonder if he would be able to actually win, and that's not the case here. Bane brings the pain in a way that has never been done before in a Batman movie.
The other thing most people seemed to be concerned with when the first images started hitting the web was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Allow me to put those fears to rest, this is as good as Catwoman has ever been done in a movie. Sure, Michelle Pfeiffer nailed the "sexy" part of the character in Batman Returns, but that movie completely ignored the biggest part of the character, the fact that she's a cat burglar. She's not an undead, crazy cat lady. Anne Hathaway is absolutely wonderful, and plays the good vs bad nature of Selina Kyle perfectly. She is in constant conflict with herself, fighting her desire for crime, and her desire for Batman, who always seems to be able to bring out the good in her. It's what makes the character so great, and Rises portrays it exactly the way I think it should be done. I wasn't crazy about the Robin-style mask with flip-up lenses that looked similar to cat ears, but I get why it's there. Had Catwoman not appeared in any sort of a mask in this flick, the internet would've been calling for Nolan's head. Plus, it's a comic book movie, and I'm sure everybody involved wanted to wear a mask. I know I would have.
The rest of the returning cast is as good as they've been in the first two. Thankfully, Christian Bale tones down the "I just gargled broken glass" voice he used for Batman, and I think this is actually hist best Bruce Wayne so far. Gary Oldman just straight up IS Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman is wonderful as Lucius Fox, and Michael Kane is a fine Alfred. The other newcomers vary, I thought Matthew Modine was great as the sniveling police captain who wanted Gordon's job as Commissioner, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a personal favorite of mine, and chews up quite a bit of screen time as a rookie Gotham City cop named Blake. I wasn't impressed by Marion Cotillard as potential new love interest for Bruce Wayne, Miranda Tate. She actually had a pretty big part in the grand scheme of things, and her performance was disappointingly flat for me.
All of my minor nitpicks aside, I still think The Dark Knight Rises is an achievement the likes of which do not come along very often. For all the good that's been done for comic book films over the last decade, Christopher Nolan's work on the Batman franchise has given a credibility to the medium that rivals that of any other film genre. As a matter of fact, I would put Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and yes, even The Dark Knight Rises up against any movie recognized by the Academy as Best Picture in any of their respective release years. The fact that the highest award that The Dark Knight won was a "best supporting actor" nod for Heath Ledger is a fucking travesty. I'm also willing to bet that there are a lot of people out there who would rather watch The Dark Knight than Slumdog Millionaire too, I damn sure would. Peter Jackson did it for fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, and the day is going to come when the nomination committees are going to have to wake up and recognize that comic book movies are well-deserving of more consideration too.
In closing, as I had no intention of going on this long, Rises ended up delivering the goods, living up to most of my expectations, and yes, even surpassing some. As with most things in life, I felt like it could've used a little more Batman, but I left with a newfound love for a character that I previously hated, so I can live with that tradeoff. It's a visually stunning movie, with a well paced plot that takes Batman and comes closer to breaking him both physically and mentally, before his inevitable "RISE" back up. Christopher Nolan makes movies in which everything, from actors performances, to camera work, music, and effects, all blends so well together, that you wonder why more people aren't capable of this quality of work on such a consistent basis. The Dark Knight Rises is not to be missed.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
For more info you can read all about MC Randumb and Jewish Dave below, and don't forget to give them a "like" over at their Facebook page.
MC Randumb & Jewish Dave is what happens when you take its two creator's favorite things: gangsta rap, horror & b-movies, heavy metal imagery, video-games, sex, fast food and dogs, mix them all with hot sauce and turn the volume up to 11.
Originally an offshoot of the popular Las Vegas comedy-rap group, The Polar Bear MCs aka The Killa Korpse Gangstaz, MC Randumb & Jewish Dave managed to outlive the full crew. Even when the 8 member team was still actively performing,the duo was already taking time to record separate songs & perform shows. Jewish Dave (David Rosen) was always the leader of the group, as he not only was a writer & performer, but also the music maker and producer. MC Randumb (Trent Fewkes) was easily the standout performer of the Polar Bear MCs, so it would make sense that the two would work so great together.
Starting in early 2003, just months after Tha Polar Bear MCs first live show, MC Randumb & Jewish Dave became a fixture of the local music scene. Their wild, over the top stage show was loved for its originality that includes plenty of costumes,skits, potential nudity, and huge amounts of obscenity. They played all over the Las Vegas strip, as well as in local bars and on the UNLV campus. Often times instead of booking shows, the two would just show up in class rooms and dormitories to do an impromtu performance that garnered equal parts laughter and looks of confusion. One highlight that Jewish Dave’s mom particularly loved was when they were cut short in their performance at an all-black UNLV talent show because of their bad language and insistence on humping the on-stage trees.
Their first full length album, "Wasted Potential Part 2: Duh Mickztayp" was actually a compilation of their previous EPs and other newly completed songs, released just before Fewkes was set to move to New York for his career. While Rosen continued to work with other groups and artists, he still wanted to do more music with MC Randumb, and so they decided to start work on another album, "Songs In The Key Of Murder," via the Internet. They even managed to shoot a video for "Shut Your Mouth (Or You're Gonna Get Murdered)," the first single off the new album before the song was even recorded(they came up with the song title the day of the shoot during a visit to Las Vegas so they would have a reason to not have to lip synch anything in the video).
"Songs In The Key Of Murder" will be released on Christmas Day, 2011, after a year of recording online. The collection is actually a concept album in which every song is about murder and keeps the horror movie theme running throughout. Songs such as "Murder Motel," "Murder 4 Fun," and the second single, "Musta Been Murda," all have extremely ridiculous, hilarious, murderous lyrics over hardcore beats that would fit right into a gory slasher flick. The duo hopes to create more music videos for the songs on the album, as well as some planned interactive games to go along with the songs' themes. They are also hoping to plan some more shows the next time they're both in the same city(although they also haven't ruled out the possibility of performing over the Internet). For more info, contact David Rosen at 702-219-0610 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
If you're unfamiliar, here's the film's plot synopsis from IMDB:
The story follows medical student, Mary Mason, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted with the surgical world she once admired. The allure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called 'freakish' clientele.
You can keep up yourself by visiting the official blog of the Soska Sisters here, or visit the film's official facebook page here. Side note, if you happen to be at Comi Con, and can swipe me one of those American Mary surgical masks, I'll pay handsomely for it. I'm super excited about this one people, Katharine Isabelle, the Twisted Twins, and body modification...no way this movie is going to be anything short of amazing.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Let's get this one out of the way first. It was good. It was damn good. But it wasn't exactly what I was expecting, which I guess I should be used to from this book by now. I'm only going to say that as I read the issue, I realized one, just how good of a writer Kirkman is, and two, just how involved with these characters I've become. I actually noticed my heart rate increasing as I read it, and I'm not exaggerating. I can't tell you honestly that this has EVER happened to me while reading a comic. It was so good that I was actually angry when I finished it, and not because it was a bad comic, but because I hated the villain so much. That is good goddamn writing right there.
I've talked in length in these Fresh Ink posts about the resurgence of Valiant Comics, spotlighting both X-O Manowar and Harbinger when their first issues shipped. This week , my favorite Valiant property finally got it's relaunch, and I'm happy to say that while I've enjoyed everything so far, it only took Bloodshot one issue make me declare it my favorite. Everything I loved about the original series is back here, only tweaked a little. Bloodshot is still the perfect soldier, the product of military experimentation and cutting edge nano-technology, and he still has no memory of who he was before it. Just as before, the military implants memories as they see fit to set Bloodshot loose on a particular target. For instance, in this issue, he believes he's a retired soldier with a family, who is called upon to go on one last mission to rescue an old friend who has been captured. Duane Swierczynski is handling the writing, and so far it's apparent that he's either a fan of the previous iterations, or just a big fan of the character. Duane is a writer who I've always either liked, or been indifferent to. I've liked his stuff before, other times just thought it was ok, but have never hated anything of his I've read. Same goes for artist Manuel Garcia. While he typically only does the occasional fill-in issue, I can't honestly say I've ever hated his art. In fact, I liked his Aries mini-series from Marvel quite a bit.
For those not familiar with the old Creepy and Eerie magazines, they were basically magazine sized anthology comics in the vein of EC's Tales From the Crypt or The Haunt of Fear. Instead of the Crypte Keeper, we got Uncle Creepy basically. A couple of years ago Dark Horse started a new Creepy series up, only regular comic sized instead of magazine sized. It ships every other month, it's black and white, and it's filled with short horror stories from some of horror comics finest contributors. Today, Dark Horse resurrects Eerie to go along with Creepy. Eerie is to Creepy what The Haunt of Fear was to Tales from the Crypt. Not only horror stories, but horror stories with a sci-fi twist. In the first issue there are four stories, including a David Lapham story about a man who is convinced that his family and everyone else around him are robots who are trying to take over the world, and a Bruce Jones and Richard Corben collaboration about a mad scientist who can't have children, so he decides to make himself one, Frankenstein style. Seriously stoked to see Eerie back. I love anthologies, it's going to be interesting to see how many awesome people Dark Horse can get to contribute.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
For a fan film, this is amazing. I am genuinely impressed. Some of the acting isn't great, the guy who plays Yorick is pretty bad, but overall I've seen way worse from actual movies with budgets and such. The one thing this short did manage to do is make me want to read the story again. I would love to see Y the Last Man turned into a television show. It could be every bit as good as The Walking Dead if it landed in the right hands. Enjoy the video!
Monday, July 9, 2012
Fright Ragsdoes it yet again, available starting this Friday, the 13th of course, these two designs will be available for pre-order for three days ONLY. I'm getting design one myself, wish I could do both, but if I have to choose I gotta go with one. I do like the back on design two, but while nice, I feel like the front is a little plain looking. Anway, make sure and get your pre-order in before midnight Sunday night.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
First up, it's a year one Batman story, which I love. It isn't just about his parents being murdered in an alley way. That's in there, but this is also a story set in his first year as Batman, before all the training, before all the gadgets, before any of the experience. There's a great scene in the first few pages, when Batman pulls out a grappling hook to fire at a guy he's chasing, and it breaks in his had when he fires it, cable shooting out everywhere. He then attempts to jump from a rooftop across an alley to an adjacent rooftop, misses, and falls into a pile of trash. As much as I love the character for the badass he is, it's still fun sometimes to see him screw up. The book is still an origin tale though, although a bit of a modern take on it, showing us the origin of "new 52 Batman". Not a lot has changed necessarily, just little things like the mention of a bluray set, or the internet. Stuff like that. Again, being that it's a year one story, we obviously get looks at the characters much younger than we know them to be now. My favorite was Detective Bullock, who normally appears as a morbidly obese, unshaven, slob of a character, but appears in this book on his first day at the Gotham PD young, clean shaven, and with what had to be about 1% body fat. Fun contrasts like this are what makes these stories so great.
Earth One is written by Geoff Johns, who DC fans will better know by the name "God". He's the man who fixed Flash's convoluted continuity, fixed Hawkman's even MORE convoluted continuity, brought back Hal Jordan as the true Green Lantern of Earth and absolved him of the blasphemy that was Emerald Twilight, then went on to write some of the greatest Green Lantern stories ever written, Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night. His crowning achievement has to be what he's currently working on though, he has managed to do the unthinkable, what no writer has ever been able to do before, he's made Aquaman cool. Seriously, Aquaman is one of my most looked forward to comics every month. Aquaman.
The supremely talented, and personal favorite of mine, Gary Frank wonderfully illustrates the book. While he's primarily a superhero artist, his style is anything but. He uses a very realistic looking style to all of his characters, which I honestly dig the hell out of. For example, he did a run on Action Comics with Geoff Johns, and drew Superman almost exactly as he looked in the Richard Donner films. He even made Clark look like Christopher Reeve. It was the absolute perfect Superman book for me, believable looking characters, instead of everybody running around looking like He-Man action figures wearing spandex. I will buy anything, and I mean anything Gary Frank works on. Books, toys based on his art, statues based on his art, anything. Earth One is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous piece of work.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
In Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, we get to see an origin for the President not all that different than Batman's, only instead of seeing his parents murdered by a robber in an alley, Abe watches as a vampire kill his mother, although at the time he didn't actually know it was a vampire. This sets little Abraham on a quest for vengeance, that almost gets him killed when he confronts his mother's killer some years later unprepared. Luckily he's saved by a mysterious stranger named Henry. Once Abe recovers from the attack, Henry clues him in to the existence of bloodsuckers, and offers to train him to fight them. Once he's confident enough in his abilities, Abe sets out to make a life for himself, as a lawyer by day and hunter of the undead by night. Along the way, he becomes an outspoken activist rallying his fellow countrymen against slavery, stating over and over, and OVER, that until every man is free, we are all slaves. Eventually, he decides that freeing the slaves is more important than killing vampires, and he puts down his ax in favor of pursuing his career in politics. However, he made quite a few enemies amongst the minions of the night, and they aren't the forgiving kind.
Ok, the first half of this movie? I actually enjoyed myself. It was as silly as the name "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" implies it would be. While I consider this to be more of an action flick than horror, it does have plenty of jump scares, and although almost all cgi, there is a good amount of gore. The vampires also appeared to be mostly cgi once the fangs came out, replacing the actual actors. The effects aren't the best I've ever seen, nor were they the worst. It's when he puts down the ax and decides to get into politics that the movie absolutely grinds to a halt. I got so bored at this point, that it was hard for me to even stay awake in the theater. I wanted to see Abe chopping vampires limb from limb with an ax for 90 minutes, not 40 minutes of that followed by a half hour of an incredibly watered down, mostly inaccurate retelling of the history leading up to the Civil War. There was a little bit of fun thrown in here, especially when the head vampire Adam meets with the Confederate army and forms an alliance to eliminate Lincoln and win the war for the South, after which the vamps would be given their own portion of the country to run. Maybe if more had been done in this vein, I would've been more into the second act of the film. Unfortunately, it was mostly boring, and was a chore for me to sit through.
I realize full well that in a movie such as this, of course the audience is expected to suspend belief and just go with it. I'm usually pretty good about doing just that, but some of this movie I just couldn't let go, mostly pertaining to Abraham. I understand the fact that he went through some serious Jedi-like training with Henry. He learned methods on hunting supernatural creatures who live in the dark, and can even turn themselves invisible. Dude learned how to wield the shit out of an ax too. That much I get, but what I don't get is where Abe got his seemingly superhuman abilities from. This is supposed to be a normal guy who hunts vampires, not an ax wielding superhero. Abe is constantly showing feats of superhuman strength and agility, keeping pace with vampires as they move, leap, etc. with the speed expected of supernatural beings such as themselves. The absolute worst was when Abe was caught in a chase with one in the middle of a horse stampede. You really have to see this scene for yourself, I don't want to ruin it, but my God, come on.
Looking at performances, most were bland. Benjamin Walker, as Abe, was pretty generic, even when he was supposed to be giving passionate speeches about freeing slaves. There was a scene at the beginning of the movie, when young Abraham is standing with his father looking down at his mother's tombstone that made me laugh. It was a very "Forrest Gump" moment, which prompted me to say "You died on a Tuesday" out loud in my best Forrest voice. Dominic Cooper, as Abe's teacher in all things vampire ass kickering, Henry, was equally laughable, not only because he clearly was going for dark and mysterious and came across as goofy, but also because he bore a striking resemblance to Adam Jensen, the protagonist from Deus Ex Human Revolution, which I've just recently finished playing, right down to the gravely voice and stupid shades. Every time he was on screen, I had to keep myself from snickering. The only person I actually kinda liked was Abe's friend Joshua Speed, who was played by Jimmi Simpson, who I actually dig in most things he does. Joshua was the only character in the movie that didn't look like a cardboard cut-out moving around while a voice over played.
All in all, I can't say that I'm upset that I went to see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I genuinely enjoyed roughly half of the movie. The parts that I didn't enjoy though, I REALLY didn't enjoy. At some point I do still plan to read the novel it was based on, and after that I may go back and check out the movie again. I won't before then though. That said, it's hard to really give this one a recommendation, especially when there's so much better vampire fiction out there right now. I'd just watch Stake Land again if I were you.