Review Grab Bag (10-4-15)

Review Grab Bag 11-4-15

It’s the 11th Edition of the Review Grab Bag, everyone!  Yay!  For something I’ve been doing for a little over 4 years, that’s really not a lot of Grab Bags.  Sure, once or twice there was basically a whole year or more in there where I didn’t post anything… but we don’t like to talk about that.

*Shifts eyes shiftily*

Anyway…  Today, in the Review Grab Bag we’ll find 2 movies, a Graphic Novel and a puzzle that’s from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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Charles Soule, Ray Fawkes & Various Artists’ “Wolverines”

4305599-wolvs2015001_dc11-0[1]So, in late 2014, Wolverine died.  If you were following comics, you probably noticed.  If you weren’t following comics, you probably didn’t.  It was a surprisingly good mini-series, in my opinion. I didn’t read any of the pre-amble, but I enjoyed the series enough to sign-up for some of the aftermath.

The post-Logan series that interested me the most going in was the weekly-released Wolverines from writers Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes.  I’m not very familiar with Fawkes, but I discovered Soule on his 2013/14 She-Hulk run, then followed up on him with Letter 44, Strongman, Death of Wolverine and Inhuman.  I enjoyed them all at least as much–or more–than I had anticipated, so I was cautiously optimistic about this title.

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Review Grab Bag (1-5-15)

Grab Bag 1 5 15

Happy New Year, folks.  It’s 2015 and after an 18 month hiatus, the Review Grab Bag is back.   If you don’t remember, or didn’t realize in the first place, the RGB is where I throw up a paragraph or two about stuff that I have something to say about, but not much of a something.  This time around we take a look at 3 Sci-Fi movies that have very little in common, and an Atari 2600 cult classic.

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Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque’s “Letter 44” (Vol. 1)

Letter 44Nothing goes as expected on the inaugural morning of the 44th President of the United States, Stephen Blades’, first term. He expected difficulties… partisan politics, economic recovery, two wars overseas, and the need to manage transparency and accountability against safety and secrecy. But nothing would have prepared him for the truth of the situation.

He enters the oval office and is greeted with a letter marked 44. Inside it, outgoing President Carroll admits that the economic instability, fear and war mongering of the last near decade have served one purpose… to hide an Alien construction being built in an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter from the public, and prepare secret advances in military technology in case their reason for being there isn’t friendly.

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Matt Kindt & Marco Rudy’s “Marvel Knights Spider-Man: 99 Problems”

mksm2013001_dc11_a-610x938I remember back in ‘aught four picking up a new series called Marvel Knights:  Spider-man.  I’d read a couple issues of other characters under the banner, but mostly I picked it up because I enjoyed Spider-man, and I was still a good two months away from spending every penny I earned on a new computer, high-speed internet, and a little MMORPG called City of Heroes.

Anyway, the title ended up being pretty solid.  Late last year, I was excited enough to see the return of the banner (and the actual Peter Parker) that I picked up the first issue of this new limited run.

The story can be summed up very easily.  An exhausted and drugged Spider-man is forced to fight his way through a gauntlet of foes.  That’s it.  It doesn’t get any simpler, folks.  And yet, simple ideas often allow for particularly exciting execution.

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Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin’s “Deadpool Kills Deadpool”

Deadpool Kills DeadpoolBefore this, I’d never read a Deadpool book.  I’ve seen excerpts of stuff online, so I knew a fair bit about him.  I know he knows he’s a fictional character.  I know he’s hamburger faced.  I know he likes killing.  I know he’s Canadian.  I know he’s annoying, and I know he won’t die.  From what I’ve seen, that seems to sum him up entirely.  To the best of my knowledge, Deadpool stories can be serious, but for the most part, they’re bloodbath soaked foolishness.

I’ve wanted to read a Deadpool title for a while now, because many of the excerpts I’ve seen actually had me laughing out loud.  I also remember about 10 years ago, when he got a relaunched monthly title that seemed like it might be something I’d be interested in.  I passed it up, though, because I could barely afford the Masters of the Universe titles and mass quantities of Heroclix I was picking up weekly.

I saw this title hit the shelves a few months back, and thought “Meh, seems like a good enough point to jump in”.  The title, Deadpool Kills Deadpool, sounds like it would be the bloodbath soaked foolishness variety of story, which suits me just fine, if that’s what I’m expecting.

I’ve been staring at this introduction for a while now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to figure out a way to talk about something that precisely meets my expectations, when my expectations start with “Meh.”

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Neil Gaiman & John Romita, Jr.’s “Eternals”

47694[1]This is a solid enough soft reboot of a series I knew nothing about. The Eternals are a race of immortal beings created to guard and protect the Earth from whatever various threats, from both without and within.  These beings were mistaken for gods by primitive mankind throughout the history of civilization, and were the foundation for many of our myths.  They once raged a war against a race of beings known as “The Deviants”.  Some time after that… something mysterious happened, and now only one of the Eternals, Ike Harris, remembers anything about their near-million-year history.

I now know that The Eternals was a new series created for Marvel by Jack Kirby in his Craziness-In-Space 70s phase.  It ran for about 20 issues, and is reasonably well regarded.  Certainly, it looked pretty.  The characters were folded into the Marvel Universe, and some were used from time-to-time over the next 30 or so years.  Looking for something exciting to work on after the success of 1602, Marvel and Gaiman hooked up once again, and re-introduced the Eternals.

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Man of Steel (2013)

Man of SteelThis review will contain minor spoilers, and hint towards larger ones that any critical thinker could probably deduce.  Consider yourself warned.

 Man of Steel is the story of an alien, raised on Earth, to be the best person he can be.  But when his own kind come looking for him, he’s got to finally put his trust in the hands of weaker–almost to the point of uselessness–former enemies.  Willing to sacrifice everything he believes in for the people of Earth, this alien must triumph over evil.  But at what cost?

In short, Man of Steel is the best episode of Dragonball Z I’ve ever seen.

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Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga (Vol. 1)

Saga Vol 1Published by Image Comics, Saga is a monthly comic book from writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Dr. Strange:  The Oath) and illustrator Fiona Staples.  It tells the story of the early years of our young narrator, Hazel.  Hazel’s mother is a former guard at a military prison.  Her father was once a prisoner.  Their two races have been at the forefront of a Galactic War that has raged on for longer than anyone can remember.  Regardless, the two fell in love, escaped, married one another, and had a child.  Now they’ve been discovered and are trying to escape the planet, Cleave.

This review is of the first volume trade paperback collection of issues 1-6.  I could make it really short.

Go.  Hunt.  Buy Saga. Continue reading

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s “Dr. Strange: The Oath”

Dr Strange The OathSo in addition to it being Star Wars Day, May the 4th was also Free Comic Book Day, a day designed to get folks out to their Local Comic Book Store (LCBS for the nerdier among us) and get free stuff.  The major publishers put out a few reprints, and the odd original work.  The LCBSes usually run all sorts of sales to catch the wallets of the patrons like bottom trawlers.  Every year I swear I’m not going in, because I hate crowds, and I always buy something I probably don’t need.  Every year I end up there anyway.

Finding this series was one of those fated moments.  I was only in the LCBS because my brother wanted to see what sales they had on their used video games.  After torturing him and his wallet by drawing his attention to two normally overpriced ATLUS titles, I headed over to the longboxes to avoid making a $40+ purchase myself.

Now, Dr. Strange is a character I’ve always been interested in, but never enough to seek out a title where he’s the head-liner.  I hadn’t even heard of this series before I saw it in the longbox that day.  What caught my eye under his name, though, was the name of one of my favourite writers working in comics today, Brian K. Vaughan.  I haven’t read his entire body of work yet, but I haven’t come across a title written by him that I haven’t enjoyed.  At $1 an issue, the trawlers had caught my wallet once again.

Writer Brian K. Vaughan and penciller Marcos Martin’s Dr. Strange:  The Oath is a 5 issue limited series from 2006, featuring Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme as he attempts to find a mystical cure for his cancer-ridden Apprentice/Butler/Manservant, Wong.  Along the way, they meet the Night Nurse, a young doctor who has made a name for herself by running an exclusive after hours clinic to patch up costumed vigilantes.  The trio track down a mysterious thief who has stolen Wong’s one chance for survival.

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