R.I.P. Michael Turner

June 30, 2008

I was saddened to hear the news that Michael Turner passed away over the weekend. (The comic book artist not the former San Diego Chargers running back)

The talented comic artist was only 37 years of age but had been fighting cancer for several years. A lot of recent issues of his Aspen book Soulfire were shipping late or not at all lately because of his illness.

For those of you not familiar with the man’s work (and if you read comics consistently then you don’t fall in this category) he was a magnificent artist whose work graced everything from X-Men to Supergirl. (see pic at right)

 I was always a big fan of Turner’s work because he’s one of these guys whose work you can instantly recognize by simply looking at it. His style, while not as flashy like say Jim Lee’s, was distinct, clean and visually appealing. His take on Superman, Batman, Supergirl and others were especially distinctive and I cannot imagine recent comics featuring these iconic heroes without him.

May he rest in peace and he will be missed.


Retro review: Mark Millar’s “Wanted”

June 27, 2008

With the new action flick starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman “Wanted” opening today, I thought it would be good to take another look at Mark Millar’s mini siries. Most people won’t be aware that the movie is based on a 2004 six issue limited series published by Top Cow  and written by Millar which at the time I thought was an excellent, albeit very violent read.

Here’s the premise as described at the conclusion of the 2006 collected trade:

The bad guys won. Led by Professor Solomon Seltzer, ALL the supervillains finally teamed up and destroyed all the superheroes in a cataclysmic battle back in 1986.

But it wasn’t enough just to kill them- they had to destroy them MORE completely. Reality was folded and unfolded by the Fraternity’s cognoscenti, seven-dimensional imps, and alien super-computers. All vestiges that the heroes had ever existed were destroyed. We were left with a world where humanity, at best, has vague, Alzheimer’s-esque memories of superheroes. That, and the comic book.s But who reads comic books anymore?

Now that’s a great premise! Millar just takes off from this and creates some of the most memorable characters I have read in a comic series with the most inventive and repulsive of which being shit-head, the collected feces of the 666 most evil beings ever to walk the earth taking on sentience. Shit-head was a little bit of Hitler, a touch of Ed Gein, half a pound of Jeffrey Dahmer.

In fact, out of the entire dossier of Wanted’s intriguing cast, Hollywood only retains cubicle-dwelling Wesley Gibson and his mentor in crime: The Fox (Presumably played by Jolie in the film version.)  In the story, Gibson’s life changes dramatically when he discovers he is the son of “The Killer,” the most ruthless of an undeground fraternity of supervillains who have secretly been running the world since 1986.

The superhero and supervillian elements of Millar’s source material have been completely diluted by Hollywood and now it’s just a movie about a guy who joins a secret fraternity of killers heavily influenced by the Matrix and similar action films. I’m only mildly intrigued by the movie version. Millar says it’s closer to the vision he wanted to write all along but I suspect that’s just a lot of lip service. Do yourself a favor, if you like gritty graphic novels and dig apocalyptic stories subverting traditional superhero fare, while concurrently paying homage to the conventions of the medium, you can hardly do better than Millar and JG Jones’ “Wanted.”  


Stan Lee in the house

June 25, 2008

I’m back home in the SGV thank God! I went out of town house sitting for a friend for a week and yesterday I got really home sick and was dying to get back. Even though I was only gone a week, it seemed like a long visit. We had a horrible heat spell over the weekend so I spent a lot of time either at a movie theater, outdoors or indoors in the AC.

In the interim, I went to Frank and Son’s in industry where the legendary Stan Lee made a rare Southern California appearance. The organizers of the signing didn’t do a very good job and there was hardly any ventilation at the hottest time of the day. I remember parking the car and having to walk a block or two in the heat and heading straight for the place where they were selling refreshing drinks. As for the signing itself, Stan was an hour late and because of the unbearable heat signed from 12-1 even though he was scheduled to be there much longer.  There were still hundreds waiting in line who had to get a refund for the $30 fee they were charged at the event. Still, most people seemed understanding when told the legendary writer and former President of Marvel comics had just come from a photo shoot and he is 85 years old, so  no one complained too much about his early exit.

Next I will post for you a few reviews from the books I have been reading this week and some other suprises like the latest issue of Marvel 1985 and the new Buffy which I truly enjoyed. Try to stay cool!


Congratulations to the Boston Celtics: Champions of the world

June 18, 2008

With a crushing, decisive, convincing  131-92 win over the Lakers, the Celtics win their 17th NBA title and their first since 1986. Oh how sweet it is. I don’t remember the ’87 series as much but I can recall the 1988 finals when the Lakers pushed the Pistons to 7 games. It was painful. The Pistons could have won game six but didn’t.

The Lakers could not push this series to a 7th game though I give Kobe credit for being Kobe, he was impressive in the last game but this series and this championship belonged to Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics.

Here are some myths which were shattered during the course of the series and which Lakers fans believed prior to the series:

Myth: The Lakers Bench is superior to Boston’s and will make the difference.

Fact: Not sure if these fans and so called experts were watching the key contributions made by Boston’s bench during the playoffs but if you take last night’s close out game alone, “Big Baby” Davis played almost eight minutes and contributed to the Celtic’s run in the 2nd quarter. Sam Cassell had 8 pioints in the 98-88 game 1 win and many rebounds. Leon Powe scored 21 in Boston’s game 2 win and James Posey scored 18 and Eddie House 11 when Boston won in LA 97-91 to go up 3-1 in the series. In fact, the Celtic’s bench outplayed Pau Gossol and the rest of the Laker’s vaunted bench players the entire championship series.

Myth: Kobe will take the Celtic’s defense apart, he has more championship experience than Boston’s big 3 and will be the difference in the series.

Fact: While a bonafide superstar, I still contend that Kobe did not deserve the NBA MVP, mostly because Garnett’s performance turing a last place team to first was more impressive. No matter, Kobe still had his moments but he wasn’t even on the floor in the final quarter of the last game when his team was getting blown out 89-60. While most people are comparing Kobe to Michael Jordan, the single best basketball player my eyes have ever witnessed, one must consider MJ never missed a shot when the game was on the line. I saw Kobe miss a couple of baskets that could have iced a Lakers’ victory on a few occasions this series.

Myth: The coaching edge goes to the Lakers with Phil Jackson having won 9 titles and Doc Rivers having none.

Fact: The coaching experience didn’t help the Lakers. Jackson could not find an answer to Boston’s swarming defense and his whining and crying over fouls in game 2 didn’t help matters. In the end, he could not prevent an onslaught that sent his team packing into summer vacation mode. Jackson also lost convincingly in 2004 when the Pistons took a Lakers team apart which some considered formidable, they still had Shaq and many other great players. Maybe the Zen master has lost his winning ways.

I could go on, but you get the idea, the Lakers fans were wrong. They were cocky at the start but were subdued and humbled by the Celtics who deserve to be called champions once again.

 


Summer is here

June 16, 2008

I was going to write a review of the new Hulk movie, but since I haven’t seen it yet, I give you this piece of artwork “Super Heroes at the Movies” it’s a little dated, Wizard comissioned it from artist Greg Horne in 2003 so it has that year’s version of the Hulk and no Iron Man yet. If you look carefully, you can see Howard the Duck is being crushed behind the Hulk. Ha ha very funny. I also love that Superman is eating Milk Dudes (to avoid unathorized product placement perhaps?) and Batman is on the phone. This piece of artwork was brought to my attention in the excellent 200th anniversary issue of Wizard.

With the hot weather we got this weekend it finally hit me. Summer is here. I can be officially miserable. I am sorry but I hate summer. It is my least favorite season of the year which is ironic since I was born in August. It’s seriously way too hot in the SGV, about 10 degrees hotter than L.A. proper.

I was bummed out because I found out that a lot of people are taking off part of the summer. I went to a luncheon for work on friday and found out my supervisor is taking off to Tahoe and to hawaii. My best friend from HS is going to Florida and Puerto Rico. My friend who graduated from UCLA, her parents are taking her to Puerto Rico for a few weeks. My other friend usually goes to Mexico and my sister’s best friend is going out of town as well. What is it about summer that drives people out? They all suddenly become explorers and adventurers. Is it the low airfaire prices?

My brother showed up unexpectly at our door yesterday which was a good thing since we were celebrating father’s day. He was on his way back from a trip to Minesotta. He went with his friend for a job and drove through Iowa and Wyoming and he hit a deer on his way back with the truck because deer crossings are very common in those montainous areas.

I have until the end of this month to decide if I am going to San Diego for comic con. I can easily make the arrangements but have not heard back from my friend Adam and I really don’t want to go by myself.

 


Quick hits for this week

June 12, 2008

I don’t have time to write full reviews since I am getting ready to go with Wendy to a media Arts banquet at Citrus College, but I can give some synopses of some of the best books I’ve read so far this week and last.

 X-Force Special

This isn’t the first time Marvel has used this monicker for an x-team but this latest incarnation is surely the bloodiest. In the wake of M-Day and Messiah Complex, Cyclops has put together a special ops team of the X-Men which is willing to get their hands dirty with missions the X-Men were too idealistic to tackle. This is a new era and Professor X’s dream of mutants coexisting with humans may be too unrealistic. Sometimes what  you need is a team of hardened operatives to do what the X-Men were too nice to do in the past. At least that’s the premise of this new book and this one shot highlights Wolverine, who’s never been one to shy away from killing in the name of what must be done. With a solid script by Charlie Huston and top notch artwork by relatively unkonw Jefte Palo, (can’t go wrong with Logan fighting gangs of killers ala Claremont and Miller) this is a must book for any hardcore X-men fan.

Angel Revelations #1

I think this is going to be a limited series rather than an ongoing but this is another comic based on the X-Men mythos which is truly excellent. This one focuses on the character of Warren Worthington III (Archangel) and his early life with a different interpretation on one of the original X-Men. Roberto Aguirre Sacasa delivers an intriguing plot which is augmented by the spectacular and uniquely stilized artwork of Adam Pollina. The artwork alone would make it worth the money but throw in this interesting and unique take on a familiar character and Marvel scores another winner with one of its most recognizable and venerable franchises.

Batman #677

Well, we have to give DC some love as well and this maybe their best comic on the stands. Grant Morrison continues to hit the ball out of the park with his take on the company’s second most iconic character.

Though I am now convinced that the R.I.P. storyline will not end with the Bat’s death, I do think that it will still be something shocking and will alter the status quo, at least for the time being and just in time for the movie. However, more than a marketing campaign, Morrison’s run on the title has been nothing short of spectacular and he delivers more suspense, intrigue and conflict to Gotham city in 22 pages everymonth than any Batman writer has done in years. It’s a must read for any comic book aficionado!

 

 

 


NBA Finals update: Lakers down 0-2 face nearly impossible task

June 9, 2008

Delusional Lakers fans still laboring under the false premise that their team is destined to win another NBA championship this year were encouraged by their team’s late 4th quarter heroics in game 2, and by the fact that they are heading back home for 3 games, into thinking they still have a shot in this series.

 

Perhaps they need to be infused with a shot of reality. It wasn’t a furious Lakers rally that almost brought them back last night, it was sloppy, lackadaisical defensive play in the final quarter from a team that was playing to close out the game and which manhandled them through the first 3 quarters of play.

 

“Oh but we were so close,” some of them were heard saying yesterday. But you know what close gets you, not even a cigar, and certainly not a championship.

 

These are the same fans who prior to the start of the series would have you believe that their bench was better than Boston’s and that it would be the factor in dominating the series. Apparently they were too busy watching their Lakers pound on inferior teams like the Utah Jazz to watch the C’s bench make key contributions in the Eastern Conference playoff games.

 

They are paying attention now. Leon Powe came off the Boston bench and in 15 minutes posted a flurry of offensive fireworks including a couple of thunderous dunks. Who the hell is Leon Powe? Exactly! The Lakers are being beaten not only by the big 3 but by the likes of guys like Rajon, Powe, Perkins and PJ Bryant.

 

So now L.A. finds itself in an 0-2 hole, not very encouraging given the fact that only 3 teams in the history of the NBA have come back from such a deficit to win the Finals. Considering none have fallen 0-3 and have come back to win, you realize that a win in game 3 is imperative for the Western conference champs to stay alive.

 

Just like the same fans who were talking trash and saying Boston didn’t have a bench, much less a chance against the Lakers’ powerful offense could not convince me of their claims, I also refuse to believe that the Lakers can put together 3 wins at home when they haven’t even managed one in four tries (two in the regular season and two in the finals.)

 

Oh they came so close last night. But close only gets you thinking about next year.