Patrick's Hat Trick: DC Universe 0, Other Books 2

by Patrick

Hey everyone. It's New comics day!
And today we have the big DC UNIVERSE 0- the launchpad for more than one DC event. Is it worth the 50 cents? Plus: GREEN LANTERN 30 (the 2nd chapter of Secret Origin) and ACTION COMICS 864 (the epilogue to Superman and the Legion Of Super-Heroes.) (and I guess I should give you a spoiler warning for DC Universe 0, but that news is all over the internet already, so just make with the click and read it)

GREEN LANTERN #30: I'm starting to see a pattern in Green Lantern, and it's not one I'm really that excited about. The book took two years setting up the Sinestro Corps War. And while that story was great, the book for the two years leading up to it were just average. I even dropped it once, but then they started hinting that big things were going to happen and I stayed on. It's been about six months since the Corps War ended, and the book is once again in a stage where it seems to just be setting things up for the next big storyline. And while it is a lot of fun to watch someone knock down a big train of dominios then it is to watch someone set them up. And all Green Lantern is right now is set up. GRADE: C

ACTION COMICS 864: As I mentioned in the introduction, this week we get an epilogue to the six-part SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION story. But it's also a prolog to the upcoming LEGION OF THREE WORLDS. It's got some nice moments with Superman and Lighting Lad, as well as Superman and Batman. The reveal of a long time Legion foe operating behind the scenes. Heck, it even ties into Countdown and manages not to suck. Action Comics is currently one of my favorite books, and I'm really excitted for James Robinson to take over Superman. GRADE: B+ (No Gary Frank art, and the fill in artist, while okay, is no Gary Frank)

DC UNIVERSE 0: for 50 cents, you get a nice little preview of what's going to happen in quite a few book in the DC Universe. Hey- maybe that's where they got the name from! There are some interesting ideas, but if you are looking for a full formed beginning, middle and end. Stick your 50 cents back in your pocket and go buy a... what else can you buy for 50 cents today? Interesting ideas. Some good art by people with names like GEORGE PEREZ, CARLOS PACHECO, and JG JONES to name a few. It's not the book that DC hyped it up to be, but it sure doesn't suck either. GRADE: B-

Okay, if you missed it before the jump: I'm going to talk about the big "suprise" that is on every comic sites front page. SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!I really think DC messed up by putting out press releases and saying that Barry Allen was back. Because the way it's presented in the book, it could be Barry Allen, but it could have also been Impulse, Max Mercury, or any of the other half dozen speedsters that have gone off to that great big speed-force in the sky. And Final Crisis #1 doesn't come out for a month. The fan sites would be speculating if it was him or not. Rich Johnson would be making up stories about if it was him or not. And I think the uncertainty could have been fun. But we know who it is. And it better be one hell of a story if they are going to undo one of the best deaths of all time.

Or is it undone. I'm going to speculate that this is not the perminate return of Barry Allen. He told Wally he would see him three times a few years ago. He's only come back twice. And those issues were written by Geoff Johns, who co-wrote this. Anyways, that's just my guess. I've been wrong before. I'll be wrong again.
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The Defense Never Rests: The Best Comic Book Casting

by Jon Quixote

Welcome to The Defense Never Rests, where I speak the truth and you agree with me. Those of you who know me also know there are two things that I love: boozing and lists. So in honor of the preternatural and dangerous casting of recovering addict Robert Downey, Jr. as flamboyant addict Tony Stark, we’re going to be looking at the top 10 best-cast comic book roles. The list was generated via a scientific method based largely around what I think, and is therefore extremely relevant.

Let’s get started.

10 - Patrick Stewart, Professor X
We open with the easy one. In the 10 years or so prior to the release of X-Men, and especially in the 6 years following the death of Telly Savalas, if you asked any reasonably nerdy fellow who should play Professor X in a hypothetical X-Men movie, to a man they would have said Patrick Stewart (Wolverine casting, however, remained sharply divided into Robert De Niro and Mel Gibson factions). The bald, inactive, authoritative commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise was the obvious choice for the bald,inactive, authoritative commander of everybody's favorite gang of angsty mutants.

9 – Michael Keaton, Bruce Wayne/Batman
The emails from this pick will probably tell me how many people read this blog. I’d better remember to clean out my inbox. Affection has waned for the Burton Batman movies in the wake of the Nolan Era (and deservedly so), but, ironically, time has been kind to the choice that seemed to be the lone criticism amidst waves of hype 20 years ago. Keaton’s Wayne is a broken man-child, Batman is his mask, and the former-Beetlejuice delivers a nuanced performance that integrates the two personalities as the movie progresses. Batman has been subjected to a vast number of interpretations in comics and film, and while Keaton’s Batman is not my ideal Batman, it’s an interesting and intelligent take on the Dark Knight.

#8 – Brandon Lee, Eric Draven/The Crow
Would we look back so fondly upon Lee’s performance as the rock ’n' roll avenger from beyond the grave if he hadn’t given his life in the service of eerie symmetry? Would the affection endure if we were currently watching Lee star in direct-to-video calibre versions of The Crow vs. Predator? (Actually, that sounds pretty awesome). Lee was an action star whose few movies prior to The Crow were marked by acrobatic fight scenes, a modicum of charisma, and terrible, terrible acting. But the acting got better and the charisma got ratcheted up for Lee’s swan song, leaving us wondering what would have happened if he’d had the opportunity to capitalize on a well-deserved success.

#7 – Raul Julia, Gomez Addams
Another out-of-left field casting choice, and another attempt to turn my list into the march of the dead. Julia’s career playing Shakespeare, Suave Drug Lords, and Sodomites were apparently excellent practice for playing the creepy, kooky, and lusty Addams patriarch. He was so good that he not only defined Addams for a new generation, but he even superimposed himself over John Astin in the minds of many members of the previous one. Cara mia!

#6 – Jane Fonda, Barbarella
You know you’ve made an impression on a young fella when you make him want to touch himself while watching On Golden Pond. And you did just that, Ms. Fonda. It all goes back to this sexy space romp (or was it a spacey sex romp?) and one of the greatest bombshells of all time. Heck, recent revelations that director Roger Vadim had you playing sex games and participating in threesomes during your Barbarella period even resulted in me renting Monster-In-Law one sad, lonely night.

P.S. – If Rose McGowan winds up playing this role in the rumoured remake, I swear to Christ I will punch Robert Rodriguez in the ballsack.

#5 – Jim Carrey, Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask
Ah, 1994. Mr. Carrey started it as the “white guy” on In Living Color. He ended it as the biggest movie star in the world. Meanwhile, I was watching Barbarella on loop in my parents’ basement. Who really had the better year? But while Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber seemed to be the movies that really caught the public's eye, it was Carrey’s role as a repressed bank teller who winds up possessed by the spirit of Loki that showed he was more than just a rubber face, giving him a chance to flash some dramatic chops that would letter be given center stage in Oscar-worthy dramedies such as The Truman Show and…

… well, The Truman Show was awesome.

#4 – The Cast of Sin City
I was initially just going to put Marv up here (editor’s note – don’t talk about editing in your articles, Jon), but then I remembered how Jessica Alba gave me shortness of breath as Nancy, the hottest stripper to never take her clothes off. And that led me to remembering Bruce Willis’s gritty, Eastwoodian honest cop. And then there’s also Greasy Benecio Del Toro, and Clive Owen announcing himself as a true superstar, and creepy Elijah Wood and those freakin’ bug-eye glasses. And let’s not forget Carla Guigino’s Guiginos!! Oh the Guiginos!

Hmm… maybe I shouldn’t have written this article while my girlfriend was out of town for the week.

#3 – Kevin Conroy, Bruce Wayne/Batman
I stuck to movies for this article, freeing me from having to work the Bill Bixbys and Lynda Carters of the world into my list. Luckily, Mask of the Phantasm got a theatrical release, so I get to gush over Conroy. But in a world where we’ve seen a zillion different Batmans, this is pretty much the definitive one.

#2 – Hugh Jackman, Wolverine
It was going to be Dougray Scott, y’know. Dougray Scott. He was in Ever After. And he was too busy filming the overlong Mission: Impossible 2 to take this role. And so, the even lesser known Hugh Jackman was tapped to play a short, furry Canadian who, let’s be honest, was never gonna be short and furry in a movie. But Jackman made even the most cynical and whiny comic book fan forget that –charming and feral and cool, I think geekdom can say, with certainty and unanimity, that Jackman made an awesome Wolverine.

And now he’s a superstar, he’s getting tens of millions of dollars for an upcoming Wolverine solo-flick, he’s got a lucrative production deal with Fox, and he just filmed a sex thriller with Michelle Williams.

Dougray Scott? He was second-billed on the recent Hitman movie.

#1 Christopher Reeve, Clark Kent/Superman
I rewatched Superman just the other day and realized how irritable and impatient I was, waiting for Jeff East to get the hell out of there so that Reeve could take over. He’s been called a Curt Swan drawing come to life, and he made us believe a man could fly, but most importantly, Reeve just seemed to get Superman in a way that so few people really seem to do – the nobility, the responsibility, and the inherent sadness that drives the character. Reeve got a lot of deserved praise for his comic portrayal of Clark Kent, and I liked that there was no duality to the character in those scenes. There was just acting – Reeve playing a god playing a man. I recall reading an essay that commented on how Kent looked huge – a big clumsy man who barely fit into the world – while Superman actually looked smaller and sleeker than his alter ego. The observation is spot on, and just one of many nuances Reeve brought to the role. It’s a benchmark performance, and the complexity and emotion in Reeve’s Superman set the stage for every great to decent superhero performance to come.

And with that, we’re left with the question as to where Robert Downey, Jr.’s alcoholic playboy superhero will fit into the definitive list? Considering the fact that this dedicated Method actor has spent the last 20 years researching the role with unmitigated fervour, I have very high hopes. We’ll find out if they’re met on May 2nd, when we all flock to theatres near us to see Iron Man.

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General Reviews 4/23: Snowbound Spiders and Groovy X-men

by The General

Hey folks! It's me again! The General (aka Spongeboy, aka Tyler)! I realized, after posting my last entry, that I never really introduced myself. Nor did I take the time to mention what "General Reviews" was going to be all about. Well, basically, it's my weekly comic review column. I'm a Marvel fan, and (more specifically) I'm an X-Fan. So, each week, I'll be reviewing the comics I picked up on my weekly run to the comic store. If you are an X-Fan, or even just a Marvel fan, this will (hopefully) be the column for you. If you like DC... well, that's Patrick's turf. Anyhow, I'm nearly a week late posting this, so let's get started...

...I just have to say, there's nothing better than curling up at the end of the day with a pile of comics. Well, obviously there are some things that are better. But, when you've got three comics that are as good as these three are; I'm definitely not complaining. Here's the rundown.

X-Force #3 (Kyle, Yost and Crain) - I always feel like I should start my reviews of this title by saying something like "despite myself, I'm actually enjoying this title." But, maybe I should just get over myself and admit that I'm enjoying this title for what it is: A violent tour of the darker corners of the X-universe. But, it's also one that knows what it's doing enough to seed its stories with character moments to keep things from getting too dour. Sure, the title is populated with emotionless killing machines, but it's really the story of Proudstar and Wolfsbane's decent into that world, and their humanity is enough to give the story some emotional core.

On the art side, Crain's art is still too muddy and painterly for my tastes, but he does manage some good cinematic panels. And, truthfully, the art is a good match for the stories tone. Meanwhile, in terms of writing, Kyle and Yost continue to plumb the depths of the X-Universe rogues gallery effectively; and the final reveal of this issue has me looking forward to the second half of this arc. A brooding B.

Uncanny X-Men #497 (Brubaker and Choi) - I've been complaining for the past couple month that this title seems a little like it's treading water until issue #500. But, with this issue, I feel like it's finally clicking for me and I'm eager to see where it's going. What is interesting though, is I still feel like Brubaker is managing to use the same smoke and mirrors as I mentioned he uses so effectively in Captain America last week. Really, when you step back and look at it, not a whole lot happens in this issue, but it's fill with such great character moments and beats that you don't feel like it's padded or "decompressed."

Reading this issue, I feel like I'm actually reading and issue of X-Men circa the early 200's. Brubaker manages to capture the same sense of friendship and banter that I felt Claremont had mastered right around that time period. The flirtatious relationship between Scott and Emma in this issue is fun to read, a is nicely balanced with a well-structured fight scene with Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine. As far as Choi's art goes, I tend to run a bit hot and cold with it, but this issue gets a thumbs up. He's an able storyteller, the coloring isn't overly rendered and there are a few dynamic frames I really responded to. A Brubaker-style B. (Oh, and check out my theory at the end of the entry.)

Amazing Spider-Man #557 (Wells and Bachelo) - There's something to be said for a three-part storyline. It definitely doesn't overstay it's welcome like a six-parter, and I think the short structure allows for a certain economy of storytelling. That said, it also feels like a lot has happened in these last three issue. But, again, maybe that's because they are introducing a new villain at the same time as I was getting up to speed on Spidey's new status quo and supporting case. Regardless, I enjoyed each issue of this arc, but am glad to see it end before my interest waned. Will I pick up the new arc? Well, that depends on the next creative team.

I do want to make mention of how I appreciated the main fight scene between Spider-Man and the Mayan god. I thought the way that the illustration broke the fourth wall in order to show the god "bending space and time" was entertaining. And, I don't think I've seen that particular visual trick used like that in a main stream comic before. I'm not sure if that was in Well's script or was Bachelo's improvisation; but someone deserves a thumbs up for that. (I'm sure that those of you who read the comic know what I'm talking about.) Overall, this arc was a bold and blizzardy B+. Good game.

Spoiler Theory! So, I have a theory about what's going on in Uncanny X-Men. But, I thought I'd just throw it out down here, so that people who don't want their plots spoiled can just skip it. So, if that's you, look away. Anyhow.... Does anyone think that the mystery woman in Uncanny X-Men is the Scarlet Witch? What if the guy is Mastermind? I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but I was thinking that maybe Brubaker is moving the pieces into play so that he can undo M-Day on issue #500 of Uncanny. Just speculation, but it would surely make issue #500an event.

What do you think?

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Readers of the Last Arc: Action Comics

by Patrick

Hello and welcome to another of our irregular features at The Bad Genious, Readers of the Last Arc. Rather than look at just the newest issue of a series, we'll be taking a look at the most recent storyline, or, the last arc. And while I may be posting the first installment of this series, the credit for the awesome name must go to The General. Long may he command his collection of X-Men books!

There are those collectors out there that we may refer to as "whores." The X-Men whores; compelled to pick up everything "X" book regardless of whether or not it is any good. Dan has already admitted to being a Warren Ellis whore, buying everything Mr. Ellis puts his name on. But myself, for a good portion of my adult life, my weakness has been for anything with a logo spelling out Legion of Super-Heroes. I don't know what it was exactly that drew me into to DC's super-team of the 30th century, but they were the center of my fanboy obsessions from high school through my 20's .

But the last decade and a half has not been kind to the Legion. First they introduced the LEGIONNAIRES. Then the earth was destroyed. And then a couple of years later, the Legion was wiped out as the future was destroyed in ZERO HOUR and then 35 plus years of continuity started over from scratch. Half the team ended up stuck in the present day DCU for a couple of years, and then eventually, the Future was rebooted. AGAIN. I've still picked up the Legion book, but it's more out of my fanboy completest compulsion than out of any great love for what has been going on in the book for the past decade. (With small exceptions here and there.)

Then last year, a small ray of hope appeared. None other than Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer brought back the original Legion. Not the clones (yeah- Spider-Man was not the only one to have a clone saga in the '90s. Again- don't ask). Not the reboots. But the "real" Legion that first appeared with Superboy in the 1950's. And while it's fun to see those old characters again, the book suffered because the story was silly and kind of sucks. In the course of the story, they dropped hints that it wasn't safe for Superman to go the future to help the Legion, the Legion was on a desperate mission for some magical so and so, and that they left three people in the past to be in other books for no reason other than to annoy me. (I really want to like Starman being in the JSA, but, I am not. But that's a subject perhaps for another time.)

Given the last outing that the Legion had with Johns at the helm, I was a was a little scared when I heard that there was an upcoming arc in Action Comics titled "Superman and the Legion of Superheroes". But Johns and new Action artist (and one of my old favorites) Gary Frank, started out strong with a "giant-sized" issue, and it got into things pretty quickly. The Legion is in trouble in the future, so the smartest man of the 31st century, Brainiac 5, sends for Superman. Superman arrives in a future where his name and legend have been perverted to promote bigotry and hatred by a group of Legion rejects operating under the name of "The Justice League." And, Earth's sun has been turned red, so Superman has no powers to help turn things around.

There are a lot of great little touches to the characters that I really enjoyed. Ever since the Legion was rebooted, Brainiac 5 has been portrayed as a bit of an asshole. The arrogant smart guy. But in this story, we see the old Brainiac 5. Not a jerk, but more like the smart guys on the Big Bang Theory. So smart he can see the big picture in ways no one else could, and build almost anything you want, but misses out on all the little personal things around him. Or Polar Boy, the hero with freezing powers, who when rejected for Legion membership, formed the Legion of Substitute Heroes. His own group to be accepted in.

And then, there was also this moment:Anytime you can throw in a reference to Jim Croce and You Don't Mess Around With Jim, you are doing alright in my book.

I really don't want to spoil too much of this arc for you all, because if you didn't read it, the collected edition is coming. The big themes of the arc have to do with that universal feeling of not belonging and the deep rooted desire we all have to find a place to fit in. From Clark Kent not fitting in at the Daily Planet, to flashback of a teenage Clark wishing he had friends he could share with, to the villains feeling rejected by the Legion, and wanting revenge for feeling outcast, the theme runs strong in this book.

Add that with the strong art, action, and a great storyline from Frank and Johns, and you get a book that this reader gives an A- to for it's last arc. If you were a fan of the old legion, forget the trainwreck JLA/JSA crossover that brought them back. THIS is the story you have been waiting 15 years for. Now bring on THE LEGION OF THREE WORLDS mini!

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From Top to Bottom: The Armors of Iron Man

by Matt

Welcome to the 1st weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

To celebrate the new Iron Man movie coming out this Friday, I will be giving my opinions on what makes Iron Man cool. Forget about the man inside the suit; I will be listing my favorite suits and the suits that were just fugly. Does your favorite armor make one of the lists?

Let me preface this by saying that I was never a huge Iron Man fan. I mainly followed him when he was in the Avengers title, and I only have a few issues from any his solo series and one or two trades. Iron Man's time in the Avengers and the armors he wore heavily influenced this list. And now, my Top 3!

My Top 3 Iron Man Armors:

3) Heroes Return Armor
After Teen Tony and Heroes Reborn armors, it was great to see Iron Man return to an armor that was sleek and new but still retained the nostalgic feel and look of the older and more classic armors. And I really like how the boots, gloves and helmet have the glowing stripes. If only this one had hip power pads, this one would be rated higher.

2) The Silver Centurion!
Blame this on my youth. I started collecting Marvel comics when most of the major characters were in a different costumes. The Hulk was gray, Captain America was the Captain, Spider-Man was in black, Thor had his armor and Mr. Stark was in the red and silver armor. I rank it #2 because it was so different than any of the other armors and because of the fond memories of this being the first Iron Man I was introduced to in Secret Wars II #5. Yes, I read Secret Wars II.

1) The Original Shell-Head!
You remember way back when it was a major event when a character got a new costume? Now it seems like every creator that gets on a new book must make a costume change. This became THE Iron Man armor and was the armor for most of the original series with small variations. The classic hip power pads, the cool matching boots and gloves, this was Iron Man.

Not all Iron Man Armors were great. Here are the 3 Worst Iron Man Armors to grace comics.

3) Operation Galactic Storm Iron Man
Lucky for all of us, this armor only lasted during the Shi'ar/Kree War. It was too alien and cold. It didn't have the familiar slit for the mouth and the helmet looked like Twiki, that dorky robot from Buck Rogers.

2)Teen Tony/The Crossing Iron Man Armor
The armor looked like it was designed by a kid. The blocky boots and matching gloves were horrid. It didn't help that these had to be the worst Iron Man/Avengers stories in history. So glad that this was swept under the rug when Heroes Return came about. At least it had the cool hip pads but this suit didn't show any creativity at all.

1) Heroes Reborn Iron Man
Tony looked like a weight lifter in this armor. The mouth looked like it was open and saying "Duh" all the time. And what was up with those two exhausts on his back? Ugh, just a horrible armor all around. I would take ANY other armor over that one!

What are your favorites?

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BG Roundtable: Love and Hate

by Liana

Here at the Bad Genious, we've got a serious case of Iron Man Fever. We're all tingly with anticipation for the May 2 premiere of what's looking to be a spectacular film. This got us thinking about past comic book movies and which of those thrilled us and which left us weeping into our pillows at night. And so, feeling inspired, your Friendly Neighborhood Editor set the task: Talk about a comic book movie you love OR one you hate. Pick one or the other (because it can get really long otherwise) and make it super lovey dovey or totally scathing. Oh, and let's try to keep it relatively short. A few sentences is all we need from each BGer.

What movies did everyone pick? Would any of them follow directions this time? Let's find out....

The General - When I first saw the trailer for the original X-Men movie in the theaters, I nearly cried. Literally. My friends, who knew my love of X-Men comics, turned to me and started asking: "Whoa! What did you think of that?!" But I couldn't respond to them. I was too choked up, too happy because I was finally seeing my favorite characters on the big screen. And done well!

In hindsight, X-Men isn't the best comic movie ever made. Heck, it's not even the best X-Men film. But, that was still my favorite comic movie moment.

Comic book movie you loved....comic book movie MOMENT you loved....practically the same thing, right?

Chris - Unlike a lot of people, I enjoyed Daredevil. I think there was a lot of passion for the character put into it. Ben Affleck was very good as Matt Murdoch and Jon Favreau nailed Foggy Nelson. Casting Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin was brilliant, if unexpected. The problem with the film is that there's too much going on. You've got Kingpin, Elektra, and Bullseye all fighting for screen time, when any one of the three would have been sufficient for one movie. I think the filmmakers were too ambitious with what they were trying to do and none of the stories had room to breathe. Still, there is a good film in there if you're willing to look past the shortcomings.

Oh dear, this is going to be long Roundtable. Well, may as well get Quixote's thesis over with now.

Jon Quixote - The Iron Giant is smart, funny, and it makes me cry like Chad Lowe every time I watch it. Yeah, it's not technically a comic book movie, but on the other hand it's kinda the best Superman movie to date - the Big S isn't technically a character, but his silver-age lessons about self-determination and sacrifice are at the heart of a movie that has a lot of it.

What? That's it?! Hey, maybe this isn't going to be so bad ater all....

Betsy - You know what a Hulk movie needs to make it work?

Ang Lee’s 2002 Hulk is an attempt to show the Hulk as a creature more complex than just a raging id, yelling “HULK SMASH!”

The movie spends a lot of time introducing us to Bruce Banner, the man behind the Hulk, his motivations, his…

Sorry, I fell asleep.

Hulk takes entirely too long to get us to any kind of payoff. This movie is so determined to rise above its comic book origins that it abandons them completely, leaving the audience with nothing to get excited about.

It is my hope that this summer’s The Incredible Hulk finds what was missing in Hulk. I’ll give you a hint as to what it is: it’s green.

Brandon - Frame for frame, From Hell is probably the worst comic-to-film translation thus far. It's as if they gave the nickel version of a plot to someone who hasn't mastered English yet, let alone any other language known to man. This was a comic book deserving of attention more akin to a Coen Brothers film than a teenage slasher flick. It is debatable whether the butchering of this classic comic with the film is just as egregious as the events that inspired it. A failure of a film.

Matt - 300 is my favorite Frank Miller work and one of my top ten graphic novels of all time. But 300 is not my favorite comic book movie. Yet, I do believe that it is the best comic book adaptation. Why? Everything that was in the comic series was presented larger-than-life on the movie screen and it was a joy to see Miller and Varley's fantastic artwork come to life. I think it is the best because of the faithful translation from book to screen. Snyder (the director) shot the movie panel-by-panel from the comic series. While there were some minor changes to the story, (Queen Gorgo asking for support for the army) these small changes did not affect my enjoyment of the film. I am not going to debate if 300 is a good movie or a stinker or discuss the merits of the movie itself. If you liked the book, you should like the movie.

Hey, this going pretty well!

Jon Quixote - The Rocketeer is an underrated adventure.

Waitaminute....Didn't we already hear from you?

Jon Quixote - The Rocketeer is an underrated adventure.


Jon Quixote - The Rocketeer is an underrated adventure. In fact, it’s one of the best comic book movies ever made. Basically, it's Green Lantern translated as Indiana Jones meets Iron Man. If you don't speak nerd, I'll translate (although what are you doing reading this blog?): A WWII-era stunt pilot finds an experimental jetpack and uses to become a super-hero. He saves troubled aircraft. He fights Nazis. His sidekicks are Jennifer Connelly's boobs. And Howard Hughes (as played by John Locke) makes a cameo. Doesn't that sound like fun? It is. A lot.

At least it wasn't 500 words.

Dan - X2 is the perfect comic book movie. We've moved past needing to introduce the main characters and the film opens with a spectacular Nightcrawler scene. The villain is a truly evil, hateful, anti-mutant bastard just like the best X-Men stories, with our heroes fighting those who "fear and hate them." Also, there’s the great, sad, Empire Strikes Back-style ending. It’s a rare case of the sequel improving on everything from the original and, in fact, becoming the best comics-to-film translation yet.

Bill - One might be able to give Superman IV a pass due to the major budget cut (reduced over 50% of original to a paltry $16M) were it not for the transgressions against the iconic characters.

The most serious offenses include making Clark ridiculous and incompetent rather than klutzy and reserved, and Superman's direct and forcible interference in world affairs. The story focused on its agenda for disarmament at the expense of the characters.

A close second to the total disregard of icon is Jon Cryer's inclusion. Well, not Cryer per se, but the character. "I'm breakdancing!" really is not a line to ever be uttered in an action, superhero film.

And rounding the top three reasons Quest for Peace is a tragedy and abomination: the anything-but-special effects. Wait, no, it would need to be the lapse in story elements (they cut 45 minutes of footage -- thankfully, yet at the cost of making sense). Wait, no, it would be the stealing of scenes from prior films and just jamming those in. No, wait, it's "Nuclear Man". No…wait, the real point is there's so much wrong in this film that it's unforgivable and unwatchable.


Your FNE is breakdancing right now.


Oh yeah!

Coolgirlsar - When I first saw Transformers I was maybe a little biased against it because, for the past never ending months, I had been enduring repeated viewings of the original cartoon movie and tv series, not just because of my four year old son, but also my 30-something husband! I think I was Transformer-ed out. Turns out I wasn't! Sure it’s never going to be the most thought-provoking, edge-of-your-seat film, but it's going to be fun and kids are going to love it. The CGI is amazing, the Tranformers look fantastic and their transformations are expertly captured. Before seeing the film I'd read how much it had cost per second to film each Transformer, so I wasn't expecting to see a lot of them on the big screen. But this isn't the case and you feel as though you get to see plenty of them and not just one character but a variety. Sure Megatron could have had more screen presence, but I have a feeling they were holding out on that for a sequel. By far my favourite Transformer was Bumblebee. He had been altered from his original humble old yellow Beetle to a Camaro, but I think he looked cool and in the context of the film it made sense. The scene of Bumblebee getting caught had me with a frog in my throat much like in the Spiderman 3 movie when Sandman pummeled Spidey. By far the Transformers steal the show, but the acting from Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox isn’t awful. All in all I loved this film. It’s good plain fun.

Doug - American Splendor isn't just a comic book movie; it's a movie about comic books and the slightly insane people who make them.More importantly (to me), it's a real and honest love story, a movie that makes me say "Hey, if Harvey Pekar can find love, then there's somebody out there for everyone.” The heartwarming icing on the cake is the way Harvey and his wife took in that little girl and raised her as their own daughter.

Cindy - I’ve always been a sucker for the loveable tough guy. And few comic book characters are tougher than Hellboy. A clear case of nurture over nature, he’s a demon reared to do good instead of evil. The trouble with a lot of comic book-based movies is that they sexy up the characters to make them more palatable to general non-fanpeople audiences. The 2004 Hellboy doesn’t alter the giant red monster much at all. He’s faithfully depicted, nasty horn stubs and all. He’s shown eating piles of food and smoking cigars. Icky, right? But at the same time, his very gentle and convincing yearning for Liz Sherman actually makes him a little sexy. Hellboy is the perfect balance of action film and romantic comedy, and for those of us who care, the movie is a fairly faithful rendering of the actual comic character.

Mr. Jackazz - What could have been? That's the question I ask myself every time I see Superman Returns. The film had all the necessary ingredients to make it great, but couldn't pull them all together and wound up being easily forgettable.

Poor casting (Kate Bosworth), over-the-top "cartoonish" villains and a story that was just too long and boring hurt any potential this film had. I blame this all on the ego of Bryan Singer.

You could just tell the guy had final cut with Superman Returns and he was going to take full advantage of it. There is way too much fat in Superman Returns and it seemed like no one was wiling to trim it. What made the X-Men films so great was that while the films were different from the comics, Singer still remained faithful to the ideas and themes of the comics as well as the personalities of the characters.

With Superman Returns, Singer decided to use Richard Donner's movie as influence and not the comic. Donner's film was great and all, but I was hoping for a more serious version with a Lex Luthor that actually seemed like a threat and not a two-bit criminal. Luthor and his gang come off more like comedy relief than serious threat and that's where the biggest problem of this movie lies. (Well, that and the horrible Kate Bosworth casting decision. I blame that on you, Kevin Spacey, since it seems that Ms. Bosworth conveniently shows up in all your recent films.) By having a villain who isn't really threatening, you remove a lot of the tension and conflict in the film. We all know that Superman is eventually going to win, but if I believed the villain actually had at least a shot at winning, I would be more interested. This Lex Luthor just didn’t cut it.

The worst part of it all is that Singer teases you in the beginning of the film with an action scene that captures everything that makes Superman so cool. You see the potential is there, only to be totally let down with the rest of the film. I would rather have the film suck from beginning-to-end than have that enticing nugget thrown in my face, just to have it followed up with ideas like Superman having a baby and Lex Luthor as a two-bit gigolo.

Superman Returns is the perfect example of what an uncontrolled ego can do to a film and a reminder to all filmmakers interested in making a comic adaptation what to stay away from.

How many words was that?

Vocal Minority - I've got a nice long document on my computer detailing the problems about this film. It's over a thousand words long. This film is that wrong. But we're supposed to be succinct here, so allow me to surmise:

John Constantine is a cynical, world-weary, morally questionable Brit. In this film, John Constantine is an American.

John Constantine doesn't like guns; he solves his problems with trickery and lies. In this film, John Constantine kicks ass with a crossbow.

John Constantine's world is one where the lines between Heaven and Hell are blurred, and morality is a complex and debatable thing. Here, John Constantine kicks ass for the lord.

John Constantine is a complex, contradictory character. In this film, John Constantine is played by Keanu Reeves.

This film isn't a Constantine flick. This film is some rubbish about fighting demons. It has nothing in it that makes the name attached to it worth having. It's one-dimensional, obvious pap, where it could have and should have been dark, shocking and compelling. Note to Hollywood: when your source material is awesome, you should try not messing it about.

Thanks, VM, for sparing us those thousand words this time. Your FNE promises to to let you post your rant in its entirety another day.

And there you have it, folks. Everything that matters to a great comic book movie and everything that can ruin it. Let's all hope that Iron Man lives up to its potential and that next week's BG Roundtable is full of joyous reviews.

Until next time, this is your Friendly Neighborhood Editor hoping filmmakers remember that Iron Man HATES magic.

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Shot Through the Heart, and Ennis is to Blame

by Brandon
The end really is nigh; Garth Ennis will be leaving the Punisher Max title soon marking the end of the golden age for this character. What are all of us happy Punisher fans to do?

Over the last eight years, a quiet revolution of sorts has been happening at Marvel. To be honest, it probably hasn't been all that quiet. Ask any Joe Blow in the comic shop and they will know that Garth Ennis has been manning the helm for the skull-chested one for a while now. However, it wasn't a flashy run that featured crossovers and boring character reveals. During this time, fans have been treated to a rare array of comic book benchmarks. Ennis oversaw the reviving of a character from the brink 1990's Marvel-style extinction, returning the principles of the character to the heart of the title, the skewering of the superhero genre, and finally, and most importantly, the boiling down of the character to his essentials by removing him from the unrealistic trappings of the Marvel Universe.

In essence, Garth Ennis has defined the Punisher. Now, over the next fifteen months, we fans will find out what happens to the character in the post-Ennis era. With the announcement last weekend that not one, but three writers would be taking the helm, fans got a small glimpse of what is to come in the land of the bloody skull. Three writers, three five-issue arcs. Let's take a short gander at this trio of stories and what fans should expect.

Greg Hurtwitz - Girls in White Dresses

A small Mexican village has several of its young female residents disappearing. In desperation, they send a messenger from the village to find the Punisher to help them out.

This sounds promising. The writer himself describes the story as a good mix of Seven Samurai and traditional Punisher bloodiness. Maybe this will be better than the recent Hate Monger arc with the Punisher going south. Under Ennis, Punisher was always great when he left his NYC element. Let's see if Hurwitz can continue the trend.

Duane Swierczynski - Six Hours to Kill

Injected with a slow acting poison, Punisher only has six hours to hunt.

Poison? Could be interesting, but it brings back terrible nightmares of the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie. Remember the female Yakuza boss who gave her rivals poison? It was voice activated poison. Well, I suppose it was voice activated poison because the guys did not die until the Yakuza chief pointed it out. But still, this could be cool if it doesn't turn into some type of strange beat-the-clock fiasco. Swierczynski has already made a great mark on the character with the excellent Fore of Nature one-shot.

Victor Gischler - Welcome to the Bayou

Punisher stops at the edge of the Bayou and finds something quite disturbing.

Described by the writer as being a mix of Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this story could either turn into a farce or it could be really good. I immediately get all sorts of stereotyped imagery popping into my brain. Now, Ennis was guilty of this in spades, but he pulled it off wonderfully. This arc promises debauchery, violence, and a surprise or two. Could be a strong arc.

Beyond these three writers, nothing was revealed for the Punisher's future. Punisher fans are left to ask: What's next? We have been a spoiled bunch the last few years, enjoying one of those rare comic book moments. A consistent creator has steered the ship for several years, shaping the vision of a company-owned character. Now, the new three writers show a return to modern Marvel style creator change patterns. Will one of these three writers become the regular scribe? Or are they waiting for a better creator to become freed up from an exclusive contract? It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out.

For now, though, the future looks as bright as it can for a character known for his dark side.
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