Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THE EVENT!!!!!!!!

The Event

The Event
The Event
The Event
The Event
The Event
The Event

The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event


The Event The Event The Event

The Event The Event The Event

The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event, The Event,

The Event!!!!!!

Tiring, reading to over and over and over again - huh? Well, that's pretty much what it felt like when the advertising campaign for this series hit. They kept saying the word over and over again - as if it were going to gain more and more meaning every time the word was said. Yet no commercial or ad would give us any clue as what, exactly, the "Event" is!

This series is basically trying to be the next "Lost". What does Lost cater in? Mystery! So of course The Event is catering in nothing but mystery. I watched the first episode to at least find out what all the hype was about. Then, just like their ad campaign - the episode gave us nothing. Someone tries to crash a plane at the President, the plane vanishes - THAT'S IT! The President is supposedly going to release some mysterious group of people from prison. Who are they? What are they? Absolutely no answers. For a premiere depending on "Hooking us" to the plot - they could not have given us any less plot if they tried!

Morbid curiosity pushed me to watch the second episode. At the very least, the second episode did give us a few answers. At least now we know who and what these mysterious people are. They are aliens - apparently with only 1% of difference from us; so they are very similar to humans. The government has been keeping them prisoner because they will not explain where they came from. Apparently there are more of them out there, secretly among us. OK! So, that's at least the beginning of a plot! Why was it so important to premiere this series last week instead premiering it this week as a two-part episode? At least then we would have had some freaking answers!

Anyway - the main hero of the show, Sean Walker is the innocent man caught up in the conspiracy. His girlfriend is missing, all records of her existence are being erased, and he's on the run. What does he have to do with "The Event"? Hell if I know!

The second episode had two conflicting results with me. On the one hand there is an intense sense of urgency which is very fun. Sean trying to keep away from the cops is very entertaining. The political high-stakes action with the President is also very compelling. But they keep interrupting the flow of the story with CONSTANT flashbacks! This is the second result of watching this show - continued frustration!!! You get into the story, start to like it - but then BAM - here's another flash back 5 years ago, 10 years ago, over 60 years ago! Some of it's relevant, like the guy in charge of rooting out the aliens is in fact an alien himself, but other stuff is a complete waste of time, like Sean and his girlfriend meeting for the first time. I can only hope these flash backs stop - because momentum is the key word of this series. If it doesn't get to the damn point, and fast, it's just going to loose momentum and die.

This is definitely not Lost. Lost, while it had mysteries - you never where left without the main point of the show: a group of survivors on an island. Character drama became the core of the series - with the on-going mystery of the island being the vehicle for learning about these characters.

I don't care about the characters on "The Event". I haven't gained any kind of emotional attachment to them, and while it can be said they are attempting to build a foundation for that in these first two episodes -- it fails miserably from the get go, simply because, coming to this show from the start, there has been one and only question on everyone's mind. What, THE HELL is the Event? Anything less than answering that is an automatic disappointment.

Honestly, I'd like to walk away here telling you that I will never watch the series again. Yet, the series did it's job in one way. It's gotten me hooked. But not a good "hook", like a great plot-line, or engaging characters to watch each week. No, no. The "hook" this show is offering is like Crack - and I'm addicted. I'm left still wanting to know what "The Event" is. So, how's that for a recommendation?

"It's like Crack!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black Panther, the Man Without Fear (of repeating this gimmick again)

Daredevil is being replaced by the Black Panther. After the events of Shadowland (where DD has been corrupted while being Leader of the Ninja Cult "The Hand"), it looks like Daredevil will take a short leave while the Black Panther takes over protecting Hell's Kitchen in his place.

This seems really, really stupid. Not that I don't like the Black Panther - but he seems like such an odd choice to be running around Hell's Kitchen. He's a King, for crying out loud - what kind of plot device is causing him to loose favor in his own country and force him to hang out in Hell's Kitchen? I know his sister has recently taken over the mantle of the the Black Panther - but does that mean he can't stick around there? And what about his wife - Storm? They both have separate super-hero jobs, but if he was in trouble, wouldn't she be by his side?

The way I see it, Marvel is just trying to repeat the success they had when Hercules took over the Incredible Hulk's book. There was a decent amount of build-up to the change-over -- but, the most important factor in why that stunt was successful was because the book was written darn well. "Best Book at Marvel"-level well. So this street-level Black Panther better have that same level of writing if it wants to succeed.

Yet what irritates me most about this change is that a Street-Level Black Panther has been done before! Anyone remember this guy, Kasper Cole?

Years ago the Black Panther title was written by the supremely (I wish he'd come back to comics) talented Christopher Priest. He was under appreciated as a writer at Marvel (and even by some fans) who kept pegging him as black writer - and was thus marginalized by being given mostly black characters to write.

When the book was in trouble after 49 issues, it was on the verge of cancelation. So Priest came back with a new Black Panther who would tackle the Streets - and who would hopefully be more relatable to fans. The Peter Parker-esq Kasper Cole was a police offer trying to support his family - and ran into the Black Panther costume. He used it to clean up the streets - and was eventually recruited by the real Black Panther to be his protege. He was given the same powers as the Black Panther. This Street-Level black Panther was actually very cool - and I would have liked to have seen more of him. The character change didn't prove successful, though - as the title was canceled. But Priest came back with his new team book "The Crew"

The Crew was an awesome series, ala the "Three Kings" movie - where you have these separate individuals, with their own goals, coming together. It starred Kasper Cole, now donning a White Tiger costume, the free-lance agent Junta, Jim Rhodes (War Machine), and Josiah X, the son of the Black Captain America.

White Tiger, Kasper Cole


War Machine

Josiah X

The series only lasted 7 issues, but they where darn good seven-issues. I wish the series had lasted longer, but there was little interest in what many fans called "The Urban Avengers". I wish more people had been able to look past their pre-conceived ideas and try out the series.

Anyway, after that - and the cancelation of Priest's "Captain America and the Falcon" title - he was due to write a Falcon solo-series, but he couldn't stand, as he put it "being sent back to the hood". He deserved more respect as a writer -- instead of pigeon-holing him as a black writer who could only write black characters. I haven't seen him in comics since then, and even his website and blog have gone into disarray. I sure wish he would come back, though. Maybe write his own stuff at another publisher.

Anyway (I trailed off point, there) it seems like Marvel wants to make the Black Panther a street-level drama again. Sure wish they had such an attitude back when Priest was writing. And as for taking over Daredevil's old stomping grounds? It better be well written -- fans are already pretty upset with Daredevil being shoved aside.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's NOT Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I had a tremendously hard time getting to see the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas Special, seeing as it wasn't being offered by Netflix (still isn't). Luckily their competitor Blockbuster was. I only managed to skate by not having to pay another rental-service fee because of their free trail period.

The Christmas Special was just simply spectacular. It had everything you'd want from a horribly dysfunctional Christmas special. It was simply a master piece. But they didn't want to show it on air - so they could make a quick buck. Honestly, if this makes the show more profitable and allows them to continue to be on the air longer - that's fine. But having the DVD unavailable on Netflix (this kind of special release being one of the main reason I even HAVE netflix) - it just irritated me to no end.

Still, I did get to see the Special - and I was especially keen on owning it. So I decided to wait until the Season 5 DVD came out - which, logically, should have the Christmas Special, right??

WRONG! They did not include the Christmas Special, and I am sorely disappointed. I decided just not the buy the season at all. It was a good season - maybe I'll come back to it later when I have more money -- but not having the Christmas Special made this a pass for me. And, seriously - why exclude the Special? The company isn't getting more money from the Christmas DVD anymore - those copies already went out. Now they should logically be cashing in a second time - buy charging an extra $5 on the Season 5 Box Set to include the special. It would have made the DVD a quick sell for me. Instead - I'll look it up later. (Or, you know, loose interest as Season 6 airs and time passes on.)

I just don't get these companies. They have a perfectly prime opportunity to make money - AND please fans, and instead they ignore it. You might reply by saying they did this to make you want to buy the solo Christmas DVD in the first place, instead of being cheap and renting it like I did. But that only makes sense if they plan on having another "Only On DVD Special". As it stands, I hope that's not the case. (I'm not made out of money, and neither is everyone else)

Well, anyway, I did my rant. I doubt my little blog makes much of an impression - but I do wish I could see a few more people upset about this like I am. I looked at a lot of reviews for the season 5 dvd, and couldn't find a single one at least lamenting the exclusion of the Holiday Special.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Uncanny X-Force

Sometimes I'm very late to get into things. I had been turned off by Matt Fraction's run on Uncanny X-Men, and as a result I ended up ignoring the majority of X-Books in total. I tried getting back into the X-Men during Nation X, right after their cross-over with Dark Avengers, but it failed to keep me very long. Though, while I was trying to get into the X-Men again, I decided to give X-Force a go. I was just shocked by the quality and boldness of the title. What I once considered an excuse for Wolverine to have another title to star in - turned out to be the best X-Title out there. So I jumped onboard and was floored by both the art and storytelling. Then it quickly ended, with the writers announcing they where leaving, and this great new title for me was suddenly gone. A new reboot for X-Force was quickly announced - but I dismissed it almost immediately. Uncanny X-Men wasn't working for me, and I needed to drop some titles from by pull list at the time - so this new X-Force wasn't going to have a chance with me.

Then, curious thing happened, there was a week last month where only two issues, for me, where coming out. The newly rebooted Wolverine was out that week, so I decided to give it a try. Despite his over-use, Wolverine is still a great character - and I was very pleased with the depth of storytelling the issue was entailing. I've actually been able to add some books to my list - so Wolverine got added. Then I kept thinking and seeing more about this new "Uncanny X-Force". They say the focus of the title is going to be a mission to finally kill Apocalypse. I absolutely love Apocalypse as a villain - and with Cable's recent death, it seemed like a prime opportunity for someone else to take up the cause of ridding the Marvel U of the worst and most powerful mutant. The writer, Rick Remender, is unknown to me, so he's a bit of a gamble - but I've been liking his choice of characters on the team, especially a Grant Morrison-Era favorite: Fantomex. And, you know, honestly - I also decided to try Uncanny X-Force because I missed out being on the ground floor of the last X-Force title. So I'd like to be here for the ground floor of this new X-Force series.

Marvel has still failed to keep me on the X-Men band-wagon, but these ancillary titles, like X-Factor, Wolverine, and Uncanny X-Force are a good first step.

Here's an interview with Rick Remender: Uncanny X-Force Interview

I hope it's good. Marvel seems to be promoting it with an Uncanny X-Force day, and a motion trailer. Not the best Wolverine voice, but it does the job:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol 4

I grew up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was a great show back when I was a kid. I might not look back at the cartoonish 80s cartoon with as much love as I use to have for it - but now being an adult I found that the Turtles had matured along with me. FoxKids put out an updated series which drew more from the original source material - creating a truly wonderful series drawing on the classic stories Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman created together.

Unknown to me, though, the Ninja Turtles comic series was actually still continuing -- as Peter Laird created Volume 4 of TMNT. When I finally read this series, I was amazed. It was this perfect blend of indy-style comics with recognizable characters. The lives of the Turtles where put in a new unique situation - where aliens (the Utroms) came to Earth to forge a relationship with humans. The Turtles sort of get caught in the middle of this, but ended up benefiting from the situation - as for the first time ever, they are able to walk about in broad daylight, with everyone assuming they are simply aliens, like many other visiting aliens to Earth.

What was most unique about Laird's continuation of the Turtles was that he essentially broke the family apart. No longer teenagers, the four Turtles broke off to do their own things. This was primarily because Splinter passed away from a heart attack. So the four Turtles begin their own separate adventures. Raphael got mutated into a giant monster Turtle. Donatello became involved with the Utroms, even discovering some lost Utroms in the jungles. Don also got shrunken down to miniature size. Michelangelo ended up in space along with a group of Triceratons. And Leonardo discovered a portal to an alternate dimension where people from all over the multi-verse came to battle each other in a tournament.

The Turtles where not the only ones having their own story-lines, as April O'Neil probably had the most controversial storyline of them all. Back when the original Turtle comics where being made there was a Donatello One-Shot where he met Jack Kirby, renting a room in April's place. He possessed a magical crystal that allowed his drawings to come alive. Don and Kirby got sucked into the world of Kirby's drawings and had an adventure. It was one of those defining and classic stories from the Laird/Eastman era. Now Laird was picking up on that storyline, as April accidently discovers that she was created by that magical crystal. Being one of one the more normalizing parts of the Turtles lives, this change in April's origins proved controversial and unpopular. Though, I have to say, I thought it was at least interesting. And April wasn't short of more mundane issues - like being married to Casey Jones and trying to help raise Casey's daughter Shadow.

This fourth volume of the Ninja Turtles was accompanied by a revival of "Tales of the TMNT". It featured different writers and artists, creating an anthology series of stories. Several plot-lines from the main book where bounced off and continued here. The issues I most enjoyed where the ones drawn my the main series artist Jim Lawson. I simply adore his art style - and since the main title was bi-monthly, and sometimes late, I suppose this allowed Lawson to do some more issues in "Tales of the TMNT" They where usually one-off stories - but there where also several instances of Lawson drawing a 4-issue mini series featuring a single Turtle. Leonardo, being temporarily blinded, went on a journey on the mind - going back to ancient Japan. Raphael, along with Casey's daughter Shadow, went on an adventure into a magical world of vampires, werewolves and demons. It was all strange, exotic, fun - and not you're typical Turtle stories.

All of the diverse plot-lines of the regular series, sadly, where never resolved. Peter Laird decided to try selling the Turtle comic as a digital-download. The issues where free - but I honestly was not a fan on trying to read my favorite comic on the computer. I tried a out a few issues, but ultimately stopped reading. And it was such a shame - as the series delivered on so many unique aspects. The art by Jim Lawson was to die for. It was unlike any Turtle series you've read - as it remained tightly woven to the original comics continuity - and was very introspective. I only wish I had jumped onto the title sooner - because, before I knew it, the series was gone. When Laird sold the TMNT rights to Nickelodeon he decided to end Volume 4 all together. So all those diverse plot-lines the four brothers where on? Unresolved. He has the option of still doing the series, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Tales of the TMNT continued on for a little while longer, but eventually ended as well. I hope, someday, Laird might consider coming back, if not to just complete the story he began (and at least return Raph and Don back to normal) - but, on the plus side, this new direction of the Turtles can remain alive and active in my mind. It was simply a wonderful and thoughtful book, and it reminded me, after all the TV Series, Movies, Action Figures and Lunch Boxes -- the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were still, at it's core, an Indy book.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kamen Rider OOO

Kamen Rider OOO

A new Kamen Rider series has begun, titled 'Kamen Rider OOO". (That's just the letter "O" three times, not zeroes) The new gimmick of this series seems to have to do with token-like items. OOO's bike even comes from a "Rider Vendor" - where you place a token in a vending machine, and the machine transforms into a motor cycle. Beyond that I don't know much else about the series - except that it looks very cool. (I have to wait until the series is subtitled) Here's a description of the beginning of the series from Wikipedia:

"Eiji Hino is a man who has no dreams, no job, and no family. When animal-like monsters called Greeed awaken after their 800 year slumber to attack humans and feed off of their desire, a bird-type Greeed called Anku gives Eiji a belt and three Medals to fight the Greeed so he can become the predestined Multi King. This allows Eiji to become Kamen Rider OOO. The mysterious Kougami Foundation approaches him and begins assisting him in his fight against the Greeed, but their true motives are not clear. When Eiji fights for the first time, he starts to realize what it means "to be alive"."

Here are some images of the series and a video of the opening which you can find below:

This image has been labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

This image has been labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

Korea is known for a lot of things. It's a country literally divided between it's self, with North and South being so different. Korea is also known as a rapid adaptor of new technology. They are known for being rabid fans of Starcraft, which is a national sport. Korea, however, is not known for Westerns. Until now!

This movie takes you on a wild and crazy ride. Set in Manchuria during the 1930s, there is a treasure map that everyone is seeking out. Korean revolutionaries, the Japanese Army, and any number of gangs of thieves and killers all want this map. The main protagonists of the film are the main focus. Park Chang-yi (the Bad) is hired to steal the map from dignitaries on a train. At the same time Yoon Tae-goo (the Weird) robs the same train, unexpectedly obtaining the map. Park Do-won (the Good) is a bounty hunter after Chang-yi and ends up caught in the chase for the map and the life of his bounty.

The whole movie is a wild set piece worthy of any American Western, with locations like a Ghost Market (where thieves sell and trade) allowing for some spectacular shoot outs. This might not be the American Wild West, but the desert quality and feeling to the entire area is very evocative of the Western-Genre sensibilities. The action, I might also add, looks like it's primarily physical and grounded. There might be a whole lot of dramatic dead-on gun shots, but there's no fantastical action or CGI effects. These are physical stunts and explosive effects - and it looks truly beautiful looking.

The movie ends with a fantastic race to the finish line, to find the fabled buried treasure. Seeing the insane amount of horses and jeeps all racing towards and single goal (while trying to blow each other away) was a fantastic climax to the action in the movie thus far.

The end of the line for the three main characters concludes with a three-way duel. Supposedly different endings, of who survived, where distributed to different markets.

This is simply a fantastic movie - and I urge anyone to rent or buy it. Warning, though - it's only in subtitles. Though it's an easy pace to read, get all the information you need, and still enjoy the action.

Here is the trailer for the film