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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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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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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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3Robert Downey Jr. returns to the big screen again as Tony “Iron Man” Stark in Iron Man 3.  It’s the flagship title of Marvel Films “Phase 2”, kicking of another series of movies leading up to Avengers 2.  In the wake of the events of The Avengers, Tony finds himself having a hard time adjusting to his experience fighting of a legion of aliens, lead by an angry Norse God.  Acknowledging his own mortality, and the fact that he’s just “a man in a can” has left him sleepless and reclusive.  Adding to the troubles is the appearance of frightening cultural Hodge-Podge of  a terrorist, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who’s been linked to 9 mysterious explosive attacks on American interests around the world.

Distracted and distant, Tony is once again at risk of losing the one thing he fights so hard to protect, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), when a man from their past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) returns with a business proposal.  Between blowing up all the bad guys, Tony once again has to set himself on a course of learning personal responsibility and what it means to grow up.

My head’s rolling around after this one.  It really is.  By all rights, this movie should be fucking terrible, and I should hate it.  I don’t know how to write this review without spoiler-upon-spoiler, but I’m going to try.  I want to rip it apart and then explain why none of it matters.  I’m bordering on making another Red Pill/Blue Pill set of reviews here.  Instead, I can only say what I feel:  I had a fucking blast watching this movie.  If you can turn off your brain, and just enjoy RDJ being Tony Stark, and like watching big explosions, then this is the show for you.

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Dolph Double Dip

Bubbawheat, over at Flights, Tights and Movie Nights is running a little something called “The Comic Strip Double Dip Blogathon“.  The idea is to get all us writey types to focus our creative energies on one specific topic.  In this case, it’s exploring the performances of actors who have taken on more than one Comic Book inspired movie role.  He put together a big list, making it easy to pick out a topic, and right around the middle of it, staring back at me was the perfect excuse to re-watch two movies I’ve been dying to revisit for years.

DolphLundgren

That’s right…  Dolph Lundgren:  Frank Castle/He-Man.  Dolph plays Frank Castle in 1989’s The Punisher, and he plays He-Man in 1987’s Masters of the Universe.  I’ve got a few thoughts about these movies in general before we delve deep into Dolph dichotomy discussion.

Both of these films are widely viewed as completely awful movies that don’t do any justice to their source material. Oddly, in both cases, I remember thinking that they were, in fact, widely underrated.  On a more personal note, since I’m not a big Rocky fan (I like Rocky III, and acknowledge Rocky is something special), these two roles, for me, are Dolph’s defining roles.  I mean, I can name at least two other non-Expendables titles he’s been in, but these two movies I remember as Dolph Lundgren movies.

So, without further ado… let us determine the answer to the age old question that no one has ever bothered to ask…  “Who does Dolph Lundgren play better, He-man or Frank Castle?”

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