Four Movies I Dug

2009-02-21
5:28:59 am

It may come as a bit of surprise, but my movie intake has almost trickled to a crawl lately. The movies in this post have been vied over a period of almost months. I’ve been a lot more tired lately and haven’t been staying up as late, but I’m still watching for you, my faithful readers (also because I’m half-addicted to movies, I think). So, here we go:

 

NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (2008)

I didn’t LOVE Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but I liked it about as much as I thought I would. I’m a sucker for told-in-one-night movies like Can’t Hardly Wait and the like. Plus, this one stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings who is crush-worthy in my book (don’t tell Em). The basic story isn’t all that mindblowing, it’s your basic “two people who are dating other people meet each other, fall for each other, have a few difficulties, but SPOILER get together in the end” flick, but what’s fun for me is in the details. Aside from the solid performances and guest spots by the likes of Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Jay Baruchel, I like the New York club setting and the smaller details like Nora’s dad SPOILER owning Electric Ladyland studios. I have no idea if the club/band life the movie puts forward is accurate, but I think the idea of following a mystery band around town to be really cool, though familiar (I can’t quite put my finger on why/where from). I also had music geeksplosions when they went to Electric Ladyland. And, I gotta say, I was surprised that this movie, which is based on a book that I haven’t, but now want to, read not only had a sex scene but also a number of gay characters (oh, and the creepiest stripperish dance scene involving an actual girl that I can remember). I guess teen movies have changed a bit and I think it’s pretty cool.

THE HOUSE BUNNY (2008)

I can’t exactly say The House Bunny surprised me, because, well, I kind of thought I would like it. You’ve got Anna Faris starring in a Fred Wolf (SNL, DIRTY WORK!!!) directed movie that mixes Playboy and sororities on a college campus in which the main point of the flick is to turn nerdy sorority girls (including Kat Dennings, Rumor Willis and Emma Stone) into hot chicks. I’d say that’s a pretty killer combination. And, as far as I’m concerned, it lived up to my expectations. Oh, plus it had Colin Hanks who I haven’t seen in anything but Orange County, but I liked that flick and he’s good in this too. Really, if the above description doesn’t tickle your fancy, you won’t dig this movie. If it does, dive on in and have a good time. I wouldn’t rank it in my top five comedies or anything, but it’s still worth a watch.

ALIEN RAIDERS (2008)

Alien Raiders is one of those movies that makes its way into the Wizard building and somehow found it’s way to my hands, probably because everyone knows I’m the horror guy in the offices. Anyway, I knew nothing about this movie and had absolutely no expectations (in fact, I can’t even remember why I watched this instead of something else like, say, Triloquist, which is in my “to be watched” pile). So, I was pleasantly surprised by this mix of Thing and The Mist (basically, “who’s the alien in a grocery store”). I was surprised with how in to this movie I got (I even put a comic down to watch it). For a much better review than I could give, check out my favorite blog on the web Horror Movie a Day. Also check out the comment section for what will be a now reduntant comment, plus a comment from the screenwriter!

DISTRICT B-13 (2004)

Compared to the rest of these flicks, B-13 here is an oldie, but it’s still a goody. Man, I had a great time watching B-13. It’s directed by the guy who just did Taken which I hear is pretty rad and want to check out. Anyway, the story is set in the near future, something about a ghetto in France where undesirables live. The intricacies of the plot escape me at the moment, but there’s an undercover cop and a crook working together to both get a bomb back and save one of the guys’ sister. The story itself isn’t the cool part though, I was a fan of the action scenes, many of which involved my personal favorite YouTube search of free running (or parkour if you’re nasty, or French). I caught this on Netflix’s amazing instant watch and can’t recommend it more to action fans. Seriously, go check it out NOW.

Okay, hope you enjoyed these brief movie reviews. Look for more trade and movie reviews soon!

Book vs. Movie: The Real Animal House/Animal House

2009-02-18
8:41:32 pm

I must admit, I have not seen Animal House (1978) as many times as I should have. My dad was always a big fan, but I’m guessing he didn’t want me to watch it considering the questionable moral content. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have wanted me to read one of the Animal House writers Chris Miller’s book The Real Animal House (2006).

The story is that Miller wrote a bunch of stories about his fraternity experiences at Dartmouth for National Lampoon (yes, it used to be a magazine). At some point the NL folks wanted to make a movie so Chris, Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney pooled every story they ever experienced or heard about fraternities and created Animal House, one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Well, Miller’s The Real Animal House collects all of his memories and stories. Part autobiography, part oral history, Miller switches from first to third person as he gets to college and becomes Pinto. The shift is a bit distracting, but once you really get into the tales of Adelphian lore, you don’t really notice it anymore.

And let me tell you, there are some gross stories in here. If you thought the movie had some risque moments, you might not want to check the book out, but if that kind of stuff doesn’t bother you, I really recommend this book. Aside from being highly entertaining and funny, it’s really interesting to be transferred to the wild world of fraternity life in the early 60s as rock and roll was really taking root and students were trying everything they could to make the cold New Hampshire winters pass in the at-the-time all male world of Dartmoth. I’m not saying this was necessarily how all college life was in the 60s, but it’s a cool look. Plus, it reminded be a little of my fraternity days back at Ohio Wesleyan. We were never as crazy as either the book or movie fraternities, but there are definitely some characters and moments that echoed my experiences, though, luckily I never got stuck with a flattering nickname (we pretty much called everyone by their last name all the time, with a few exceptions).

Anyway, if you haven’t seen Animal House you really should. It’s the rare movie that doesn’t really have one central character and yet you never really seem to notice. All the actors deliver stellar performances and there’s something new to laugh at every time you check it out. I also recommend viewing the special features, one of which catches up with the characters, the other interviews many of the actors a few years ago about their experience with Animal House, even Kevin Bacon.

I picked the book up at my local Barnes and Noble in hardcover for around 6 or 7 bucks and I highly recommend it if you can find it for that price, otherwise the hardcover is $24.99. I tend not to buy new, full price hardcovers because I’m pretty cheap, but the low price, the subject matter and the super cool cover (Google it, uploading pics is a pain) all encouraged me buying it and I recommend you do too.

Trade Post: Thor & Dark Phoenix Saga

2009-02-13
4:45:30 pm

Today we’ve got a pair of Marvel trade reviews for your reading pleasure:

THOR VOL. 1 (Marvel)

Written J. Michael Straczynski & drawn by Oliver Coipel

On paper, I didn’t think I’d like JMS’s Thor. I’ve never been a big fan of the character and JMS disappointed me with Rising Stars after which I kind of stopped reading his stuff (also because I’m not a big FF or Spidey fan, though his Midnight Nation is rad). Also, I remember reading in Wizard a bunch of years back (I think right before I got my job) that Mark Millar and Steve McNiven were going to work on a Thor book where all these different Asgardian weapons started falling to Earth and new people were picking them up and becoming Don Blake/Thor-like pairings. That sounded pretty rad, but it never happened. Then that Thor clone thing happened in Civil War, so I was pretty much done with the idea of Thor.

Even with all that, I still started reading Thor when it came out and I was shocked to realize that I really liked it. I can’t even really describe why I like it so much. I think it’s the basic simplicity of a character that’s been around for decades. Even though Thor’s trying to find his fellow Asgardians in human form, it doesn’t feel too bogged down in continuity. I also really like how he just decided to set up shop in Oklahoma as a floating castle-city. It’s a really cool visual which is made all the cooler by Coipel’s slick art. I can’t remember if I’ve read any books he’s drawn before, but I’d definitely make a point from here on out.

Unfortunately, I missed one issue in the first six and got off the story, which is a bummer because now I’ll either have to find all the issues in the Wizard library (a veritable wasteland) or just read the trades as they come out which will take a while. Oh well, I’m still down with the book and from what I hear it’s still doing well, so hopefully it’ll be around for a while.

X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA (Marvel)

Written by Chris Claremont, co-plotted and drawn by John Byrne

I’ve talked a lot of X-Men trash over the years. Partly it’s because I’m a dyed in the wool DC fan. Part of it is that I’m not a big Chris Claremont fan because of his run on Gen 13 (I was a HUGE fan of that book back in the day). And partly because I’m kind of sick of people saying how great it is.

But, all that being said, I figured I should at least give it a shot and see how it is so I can make an educated argument as to why I don’t like the book (if in fact I don’t). Well, I was surprised that I didn’t hate the book. I don’t think it’s anywhere near the level of Dark Knight or Watchmen, books that I’ve heard it compared to before, but it’s pretty good for a comic from 1979-1980.

Part of the problem is that I knew exactly what was going to happen and there were very few if any surprises. I guess I can thank my beloved X-Men animated series and reading various reviews and write-ups in Wizard for that. Anyway, sometimes you know how something’s going to end, but the ride is still fun. Unfortunately, I kept getting let down by moments that I’ve heard were supposed to be awesome. The one that really sticks out in my mind is the couple of issues in which Wolverine gets knocked through the floor of the Hellfire Club and then comes back and kicks ass to save his teammates. Sure there are a couple of cool moments, but most of the issue is spent watching a Revolutionary War era Cyclops fighting in mind space or something. The final fight with the Imperial Guard is kind of boring as well. Plus John Byrne’s very pretty art is often covered with dialogue that explains exactly what you’re seeing the characters do on the page.

Like I said the story’s not bad, especially if you haven’t had nearly every beat of the story ruined for you and also if you have a predilection for Silver Age-type stories, but it doesn’t really make me want to read the rest of this era of X-Men, though X-fanatic and Wizard World guru Brett White suggested I read From the Ashes which is on my list. We shall see I guess.

New York Comic Con

2009-02-12
12:08:19 am

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, this past weekend was the enormous New York Comic Con. I’ve actually gone every year and the show gets better and better, though, that’s pretty easy considering how poorly laid out it was the first year.

I mostly walked around and talked to my various ToyFare contacts, but I also got a chance to flip through some boxes of cheap trades ($5, 50% off and best of all, buy 1 get 2 free!!!). So, keep an eye out for a bunch of trade reviews in the coming days and weeks (including a four trade Black Panther retrospective).

Aside from that, I was too much of a wuss to talk to any artists and get sketches in my Green Lantern themed sketchbook (as of now, it’s got one sketch, though it is a pretty cool Koi Pham Guy Gardner). So, if any artists are reading this and want to contribute, let me know 🙂

Last but not least Justin Aclin, the big man at ToyFare, lead a slew of us in a Twisted ToyFare Theatre panel that turned out to be a lot of fun. So, thanks to anyone who came out for that and anyone who wished me a happy birthday on Friday (my 26th).

And, seriously, if you’re an artist and want to draw some rad Green Lanterns, drop me a line!

Halloween Scene: With (Robot) ‘Friends’ Like These…

2009-02-05
3:16:36 pm

You know how sometimes your friend will tell you about a movie that sounds pretty awesome and then, in fact, turns out to BE pretty awesome? Well, I was hoping that would happen after Rickey gave me the following description of Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend (1986) (paraphrased, of course): “So, there’s this kid who built a robot and he likes this girl. A neighbor shoots the robot and the girl’s abusive dad accidentally kills her, so the kid combines them and the robo girl starts killing people.” He then sends me a clip of a girl throwing a basketball at an old woman and her head EXPLODES (it’s on YouTube, just search for Deadly Friend) and I was sold.

Unfortunately, Deadly Friend is a freaking boring movie. If the above premise sounds awesome and you love the YouTube clip, don’t bother with the movie. Just watch the clip over and over and you’ll get more enjoyment out of this flick because, even though the clip promises Machine Girl levels of gore, that one scene is about all you get. There’s also a really weird scene at the very end (I guess this is a SPOILER, but seriously, don’t bother seeing this movie) where the kid is standing over the dead girl and her skin starts tearing away to reveal a sleeker version of the robot underneath her skin. It’s actually a pretty cool looking scene, but it doesn’t make any sense seeing as how he merely put some kind of chip into her chest cavity to bring her back from the dead.

To be completely honest, I don’t remember a lot of the other details about the movie because it was boring, I watched it a few weeks ago and I was probably either dozing off or reading a trade towards the end, but I do remember that the robot looked like a weird combination of Wall-E and Johnny 5 from Short Circuit (a movie I freaking LOVED as a kid). Oh, also, Christy Swanson plays the girl/robot, but even that wasn’t interesting enough to keep me, well, interested.

Speaking of Johnny 5, his human companion, Steph-a-nie (a.k.a. Ally Sheedy) stars in the other robot movie I watched in the past few weeks, Man’s Best Friend (1993). I can’t say that Man’s Best Friend is a movie I’ve been wanting to see for years or anything, though I do remember seeing the box in my local video store. In fact, the only reason I watched it is because it was going to disappear from my Netflix Watch Instantly thing. Plus it boasted Lance Henriksen in a starring role, so I figured, what the heck?

It’s not a great movie, but I’d probably watch it again before I’d watch Deadly Friend. The basic idea is that Sheedy’s a news lady who’s trying to expose animal testing at some kind of facility only to accidentally free a dog named Max that turns out to be an experiment in genetics and robotics. You see, Henriksen and his scientist buddies combined the DNA of animals like monkeys, owls and squirrels (or something) into a dog, but he’s also part robot for some reason (again, I got bored and missed some presumably important plot points).

Anyway, the dog’s dangerous and has some pretty cool kills, especially if you keep telling yourself it’s not a real dog climbing a tree and devouring a clearly real cat (the dog is the obvious fake in this case). The kills are pretty cool, but the whole time I was kind of dumbfounded this this movie got made. I’m not really familiar with either Henriksen or Sheedy’s careers at this point, so this could either have been a movie with pretty big names or a desperate grab for cash from two not-so-hot-anymore stars, but man, what a weird movie.

So, if you’re feeling like watching a robot movie, watch Wall-E or Short Circuit. If you’re looking for a robot movie about killing and you’ve seen the Terminator movies a million times, I guess you could check out Man’s Best Friend. And, if you’re a Craven completist, I still recommend skipping Deadly Friend.

Iron Mongering: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Secret Invasion War Machine

2009-02-03
9:09:57 pm

In my ever-expanding quest to read more Iron Man comics I decided to give a few recent trades a shot, which brought be to Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Invasion: War Machine. I wanted to read all of the post-Civil War Iron Man books, but couldn’t find them in the library, so this will do.

IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Written by Daniel and Charles Knauf, drawn by Roberto de la Torre

As some of you may know, I was involved in the weekly Civil War Room review column on wizarduniverse.com lead by former Wizard staffer Rickey Purdin. I enlisted thinking it would be a seven week commitment (that’s how long it was supposed to take to come out right?). Well, it turned into an over year long commitment in which I read 99% of the Civil War related comics (thank you vacation). Anyway, because of all this, I feel pretty confident in saying that Iron Man was not a well handled character at the time, at least in my opinion.

So, with that in mind, I was pretty apt to skip Iron Man’s post-Civil War comic which saw him in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. an organization most well known for being lead by one of the coolest characters in the known universe, Nick Fury. But, alas, that didn’t keep me away forever.

This trade is a pretty interesting one. The writers Knauf spin an intriguing yarn with plenty of espionage and superheroics all the same. I really like how Tony has built Iron Man-like armor for his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. That’s a cool touch that really makes sense. Also, I like how Dum Dum Dugan doesn’t like Tony’s way of running S.H.I.E.L.D. (like a business instead of a military organization). There’s some pretty cool moments between the two of them as their relationship grows over the issues.

The book, which collects Iron Man #15-18, also features the return of the handless Mandarin who gets the alien power rings surgically inserted into his spine. I really wish I had the next few volumes to read between this and Secret Invasion to see how that played out. Some day I guess…

All in all, good stuff. Maybe not an easy entry point for new readers, but it’s a good read for the initiated and also reprints two older stories, one starring Nick Fury, the other Iron Man. There’s also reprints of some Marvel Spotlight: Civil War stuff and Marvel Handbook stuff, so that’s a good deal.

SECRET INVASION: WAR MACHINE

Written by Chris Gage and drawn by Sean Chen

This book collects the repurposed Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. issues (#33-35) which were dubbed War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D. while Iron Man was stuck in the Savage Land for six months.

I actually really dug this story. It’s one of the cooler Secret Invasion tie-ins, far as I’m concerned. What you get is Jim Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, getting a distress call from Tony telling him that StarkTech had been compromised by the Skrulls, but luckily Rhodey (who’s apparently a cyborg who looks an awful lot like Cyborg now) doesn’t have StarkTech inside him, so he’s cool. Tony also leads him to a satellite that’s shielded from everyone that also transforms into a giant robot that Rhodey can control.

The story also has a pretty good tussle with the Winter Guard, some cool Super Skrulls that actually get identified (why couldn’t they tell us who made up ALL the Skrulls?!) and a character by the name of Suzi Endo who is apparently known, but not by me. I wish this book would have come with some kind of intro or a Handbook entry on some of the characters to let me know what’s up with them, but I got the gist of it. I haven’t read the new War Machine book, but this definitely makes me want to, especially if it has a satellite that transforms into a giant robot!!!

Trade Post: Marvel Mania

2009-02-02
5:46:11 am

Time for some merry musings about a myriad of Marvel’s most moving…comics. Wow, that’s harder than it looks. Stan Lee should write an alliterative dictionary. Anyway, I’ve been catching up on some recent Marvel stuff that I missed out on the first time around, so here goes:

GHOST RIDER: HELL BEND & HEAVEN BOUND (Marvel)

Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Roland Boschi & Tan Eng Huat

I’ve been hearing about how awesome Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider run has been, that it kind of takes a grindhouse approach to a character whose book wasn’t exactly setting the world, ahem, aflame. Maybe it’s because it’s been hyped up so much, but I didn’t find this volume, which collects Ghost Rider #20-25, all that awesome. Sure it was cool seeing Ghost Rider get mixed up with some ghosts on a highway and crazy nurses, but for me it never went beyond being just cool. I also couldn’t help but feel like these were all Hellblazer stories bounced to another universe and used on Ghost Rider. That’s probably not a fair comparison, but I do like the general approach to the character. Hey, I wouldn’t be reading the book otherwise.

Also, I’m generally not a fan of the art, but I think it works in a book like this. It’s kind of like how I wouldn’t normally like some of the artists who do BPRD or Hellboy minis, but in the context of that kind of book the art really works well. It’s pretty much the same thing here. All this being said, I will give the next volume a read, just to see how it goes, hopefully I’ll be surprised.

THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES: AGAINST THE WORLD (Marvel)

Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Koi Pham and others

Man, this is a good book. I loved Planet Hulk as it was happening but wasn’t all that thrilled with World War Hulk (I’m not a fan of Romita Jr.’s). After all that I was kind of mad that Jeph Loeb was writing a Hulk book while Greg Pak, the guy who made Hulk awesome again got relegated to a Hercules book. I later found out that this was how Pak wanted to do things and heard good things about Herc, so I’m giving it a shot and unlike Ghost Rider, I’m 100% sold on Incredible Herc.

The book is great. Hercules is a pretty fascinating character, not just the wine swilling rogue we’ve seen in issues of Avengers past, but a really complicated dude who’s lived an amazingly long life. The writers really dig deep, but don’t pile things on too heavily and bury the fun. And there’s plenty of fun.

Herc’s chum in all this is Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person (first smartest kid) on Earth (I’d like to see the list in ranked order), a character I’ve grown to like in his few appearances leading up to and including WWH. Cho’s obsessed with shutting S.H.I.E.L.D. down because of how they treated Hulk, but Herc doesn’t want to destroy the good with the bad. Meanwhile, Ares is attacking Herc a lot, trying to put his arrogant, famous brother down.

My one complaint about Incredible Herc is that I’m not a big fan of Ares’ characterization. I really really liked Michael Avon Oeming’s Ares miniseries from a few years ago, but I feel like the character he set up there hasn’t really been used as much beyond “big huge bad ass” in later appearances. Here he’s a crazy, jealous dude who just wants to put Herc down. It’s kind of strange and maybe that’s how his character has been developed in books I haven’t read, but it just feels a little off to me and took me a bit out of the story.

I can’t wait to check out the next trade, which, I think, will be Secret Invasion stuff. I read one issue when it came out and really liked it, but it was part 2 or 3 and I missed the rest.

Smokin’ Aces (2006)

2009-01-30
12:27:45 am

I really, REALLY wanted to like Smokin’ Aces when it came out in 2006. A bunch of us from Wizard were so psyched that we went to see it in the theater and man was I disappointed. I wanted so much for it to be this awesome battle of crazy hired killers killing each other at breakneck speeds. But, that’s not exactly what we got.

So, like I said I was disappointed. But sometimes I don’t like something because it doesn’t match up to my expectations, not necessarily because it’s a bad piece of work. For instance I hated Superman Returns when I first watched it. That sure as heck isn’t the Superman I’ve been reading about since I was a kid (the same reason I don’t like the original Superman movies either, but that’s a discussion for another time). But, upon further viewings I like the movie more. I’m not in love with it (Superman has a KID!) and it’s not even close to my top 20 (maybe even 50) comic based movies. I don’t really agree with the director or writers choices, but it’s a well put together movie.

I can’t say that’s the same case with Aces, though. The movie suffers from all kinds of pacing issues and an overwhelming amount of information, characters and business. Plus, you’ve got the bid end twist (which is incredibly telegraphed, too much I’d say) and then the VERY end is just ridiculous (why the heck would they let him in the room?). The alternate “Cowboy Ending” makes a LOT more sense, though it wouldn’t have made up for the whole thing. I feel like there’s a really good story in there somewhere, but frankly, it’s buried under a mountain of other unnecessary bits of business. The last 20-30 minutes have so many head-slapping and scratching moments that it really kills the movie.

There are some fun moments and bits that have more to do with casting and coincidence than the story. The redneck brothers have a pretty cool shoot-out with blades, guns, a rocket launcher (?) and a chainsaw that’s too short, but still great. Basically, it’s what you expect from the whole movie, but it only lasts a few minutes and resolves itself oddly. Aside from that and one other shoot-out, though, the movie lacks action. It doesn’t lack an awesome cast though. Here’s a brief list: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Common, Andy Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Jason “Everything’s Better with Bateman” Bateman and even a small roll for Matthew Fox.

Oh, and those redneck brothers I mentioned? They’re made up of Keamy from Lost, Kirk from the new Trek movie and another guy. Yup that makes THREE Lost cast members in the flick and I still didn’t like it. What are the odds?!

All this being said, I would definitely check out the rumored sequel called Smokin’ Aces: Blowback, though I probably won’t shell out $10 again to see it in the theater. For my money, I’d rather check out a Shoot Em Up sequel, because that movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Trade Post: Brave & The Bold 1 and 2, Silverfish

2009-01-28
5:27:33 pm

Hey gang, still having trouble getting more than one post up per week, but hopefully they’re worth your while when they do pop up. I’ve been reading a lot of trades lately, even started fully going through the Wizard comic library again, so hopefully I’ll get more than the aforementioned one post per week. So, let’s jump in shall we?

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 1: THE LORDS OF LUCK (DC)

Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez

When this book first came out I was pretty excited, but it wasn’t the kind of book I wanted when it actually came out. I was looking for simple one-off stories featuring two great heroes put together in a strange situation drawn by one of the few, great living comic book artist legends who actually keeps upping his artistic quality in my opinion. So, when I found out it was actually an ongoing story I wasn’t really interested. Later on, I heard good things about the book and decided to give it another shot in trade form. Enter the trades.

I really enjoyed this book and am glad I read it in trade form actually because there’s a lot going on and I’m not sure if it came out on time, which would have meant I’d have an even harder time keeping track of everything. Waid really nails all of the characters, which include Batman, Hal Jordan, the current Blue Beetle, Supergirl, Lobo and others. It’s great to see a writer who I loved growing up still having the chops to write intricate, fun stories that both play off of and add to the rich DCU, especially when others don’t seem to be able to keep up as well anymore.

And speaking of keeping up, Perez kicks ass. This guy continues to blow me away with each new issue that comes out. I can’t be certain, but I think I first saw his art in Avengers when he relaunched it post-Heroes Return with Kurt Busiek. And even now I’m enjoying Legion of Three Worlds when it comes out. So, yeah, Perez kills it in the first six issues of B&TB. You get everything from great covers to gorgeous splash pages and even great faces. The man’s a master and he’s the perfect match with Waid for this book.

The story itself follows the heroes trying to get a hold of the Book of Destiny on multiple fronts at various times throughout the DCU. It’s the kind of story I want to read in my Justice League comics, not weird Tangent and Milestone stories forced upon the writer.

Oh also, bonus points for the annotations section in the back in which Waid lets the reader know where/when each of the characters appeared for the first time and a few other little tidbits, like the fact that Perez didn’t actually know how to play blackjack before drawing a scene involving the game. I love extras like this and it seems like a pretty simple and easy addition that only takes up a few extra pages.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 2: THE BOOK OF DESTINY (DC)

Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez and Jerry Ordway

As much as I loved the first volume, I can’t quite say all the same great things about Volume 2, which takes an opportunity to tell great silver age-type stories by having the Challengers of the Unknown reading through the Book of Destiny. I really like these stories, which feature the Silent Night, Hawkman, the new Atom, the original Teen Titans as kids, the Metal Men and others. But they’re not just random stories, they all have to do with the big villain of the story Megistus a new villain who could be pretty cool in the future.

My main problem with this volume is that Waid uses the old “two heroes team up, have different ways of doing things and then learn from each other by the end” storyline a time or two, which, normally wouldn’t be so bad, but in a collection like this it gets a little tired. The other problem is that Perez doesn’t do all six issues. I’ve got no problem with Jerry Ordway and he even does a great job on his issues, but I love me some Perez and it would have been awesome to see him draw the 12 or so character battle against Megistus in the last issue. Also, on the subject of Megistus, I felt like his character wasn’t really explained well.

Also, this collection earns no bonus points for extras because there are absolutely none. I’m guessing it’s because Waid had moved over to Boom by the time the book came out, but an editor could have done the exact same thing. Oh well, I’m still keeping this one in my collection, at least until I have a few beers and clean out my bookshelf again (it cuts down on the sentimentality).

SILVERFISH (Vertigo)

Written and drawn by David Lapham

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think about David Lapham’s Silverfish, mostly because I could not stand his City of Crime story in Detective Comics from a few years back. But, I’ve heard great things about his other work, so I wanted to give something else he wrote a shot and Silverfish is pretty short, so it worked out pretty well.

And, I really liked it. It’s got a thriller/horror vibe to it as some kids in the 80s dig into the main girl’s new step mom’s past and find out she was into some pretty heavy stuff. I don’t want to get into the story too much for fear of spoilers, but Lapham keeps a really good pace up throughout the whole story and I read it in one sitting. I like that.

My one problem with the book is the whole idea of the silverfish. They pop up from time to time, but are never really referred to or mentioned by anyone. I’ve got no problem with certain things not getting explained in stories, but this seems like a pretty big element to not get at least a mention. Oh well, like I said, I dug this book and would actually like to see it made (well) into a movie. I assume one of you is a big Hollywood person and can make that happen (if it’s not already in the works).