Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What I Bought 5/19/2018

They had a Minicon in Columbia over the weekend, so Alex and I swung by on Sunday. I think I did better on finding back issues than I had at a convention in years. Alex went after a bunch of the first Punisher ongoing, some of Engelhart's Silver Surfer, and a Gambit mini-series. Whatever floats your boat.

Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers #1, by Joshua Jabcuga (writer), Tadd Galusha (artist), Ryan Hill (colorist), Tom B. Long (letterer) - I went with the Tim Truman cover, because that man can draw.

Nixon calls in Colonel Parker and tells him the government has a lead on some weird creatures that feast on the blood and innards of people, and the clue was in one of Elvis' shitty movies. Elvis and his bodyguard, Johnny Smack, fight monsters anyway, so they and the rest of the crew assembled will be doing that. We don't actually get to any of it yet. We see the monsters abduct a guy, and bring him to some green creature that begins feeding on him, but that's about it. Most of is spent on Elvis wanting out of this life, all parts of it, because he hates Colonel Parker. But Parker has the soul of Elvis' mama hidden somewhere, so the King is stuck.

The parts I enjoyed best hinted at other adventures or mysteries. The steamboat, the Nocturne, they're using to get around. That bit of blood under Nixon's nose, not to mention the strange room he and Parker initially met in. But the issue itself is all set-up, and I'm left wondering why the hell is Elvis here? Yes, I know he claimed to be a karate master or whatever; and Jenny suggests that he has a charisma that can be almost weaponized, but we don't see anything that shows why he's needed. I'm also not sure it wasn't too early to bring up Sebastian Haff as Elvis' out from this life. But I guess if you want to establish he's fed up even before this mission goes pear-shaped, that's a way to do it. Jabcuga's dialogue for Elvis does match his monologues from Bubba Ho-Tep, at least the movie (I don't know how much they changed from Joe Lansdale's story).

I like Long's lettering, especially for the sound effects. The wavery "Glug Glug" for the homeless man on the first two pages. The font used for the creepy guy that brings Colonel Parker to the White House. All caps, big letters, thicker and darker than everyone else's dialogue. Also Hill's coloring. The meeting on the riverboat, the background is this deep orange because of the setting sun, but the light doesn't seem to penetrate on the decks much. Plus, it's such an unusual color choice it's hard not to read as ominous.

Galusha's good at making Parker look like a disgusting, self-satisfied pig. And he gives Elvis a lot of mannerisms and movements that match how I think people picture him moving. The hand gestures, the hip sways, stuff like that. I don't know if he would do that even when he wasn't performing on stage, but maybe the point is he's always performing.

There are some interesting pieces in issue 1, but it's going to need to come together into something more. next month.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Foreigner

I really wanted to see Jackie Chan going the Liam Neeson route, playing an old guy out to fuck up the people who hurt his family, so here we are.

The people in question are members of the IRA, but possibly as a result of this, the movie spends a lot more time on all the politicking, backstabbing, and maneuvering going on among the guys in Ireland's government who used to be IRA. Including Pierce Brosnan, as a Deputy Minister. He actually ends up as the focus of the film. The British government wants answers, and he needs answers to maintain his cushy job. But he can't be seen as a traitor to the cause. He's cheating on his wife, his wife is cheating on him, Jackie expects the names of the people responsible for the attack, and keeps blowing Brosnan's shit up.

There are long stretches of the movie, where Jackie Chan is barely in the movie at all. He's lurking somewhere in the woods near Brosnan's home, watching and waiting. It's an interesting approach, putting him in the role of this a lurking threat, while we watch Brosnan flail about trying to keep all his plates spinning. A bit like doing a Batman movie primarily from the perspective of some mob boss that knows Batman is going to come crashing down on his head sooner or later.

I'd still have preferred more scenes of Jackie Chan somberly grieving, or beating the crap out of people. Not that there aren't several of those scenes, I just wanted more. They made a big deal about Brosnan's nephew Sean being a former Ranger and tracker, who goes into the woods alone, and that didn't last very long. It makes sense; neither Chan or his character are spring chickens, and even with him keeping the jumping around to a relative minimum, he can't keep that stuff up for too long. And it is very different to watch him fighting and actually trying to end fights fast. Slamming dudes headfirst into trees, flipping people through tables. For a while there, he seemed to be using a surprise knee to the face a lot, to great effect. I really enjoyed those parts of the movie. The rest of it was fine, but not what I was there for.

Monday, May 21, 2018

They Are Reviving All Sorts of Properties These Days

Feels like it's been awhile since I did a prediction post, so let's discuss the mystery villain of the current Squirrel Girl story. The one who decided to crank up the difficulty on the escape room.

Yeah, that guy. So he's tall, skinny, wants to keep his eyes covered, and has a big, droopy, Fu Manchu mustache. He also seems interested in making sure his customers are not just entertained, but entertaining. And he doesn't go lethal unless the participants are suitably powerful. Which rules out Arcade, who was my original pick when this story was solicited*.

So, callin' my shot, here's my pick for our Mystery Foe:

Mojo 2: The Sequel!

Look, I'm not any happier I remembered this guy existed than you are. But I did, for some reason, so here we are. An updated, more telegenic version of Mojo - for the '90s! - who is tall, skinny, has big shoulder pads and a stupid mustache. He wanted Dazzler to help him overthrow Mojo, but he's using so many show biz metaphors that he's probably just as hooked on getting ratings as the original version.

So he uses the people in the escape rooms as a low-budget TV show. Not public access exactly, but maybe like a do-it-yourself show? How to construct mysteries and puzzles. How to conceal evidence, but still leave thematic clues so people will know you committed crimes (very popular in Gotham City). All the drama and bickering is just to add a little spice to it. Like those motorcycle garage shows where they spend 60% of each episode arguing about dumb shit.

I know, it would be a hell of a deep cut on Ryan North's part, and they made a brief mention of Ratatoskr and Melissa, so it certainly seems like it must those two, but I'm betting on the curveball.

* Arcade's Escape Room would probably get lousy reviews. They'd all be from Spider-Man, telling you how awful it was, since everyone else would be too dead to leave a review. "Terrible experience! He brought us there in a garbage truck filled with sleeping gas!" and so on.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Splash Page #19

"Downright Inhospitable", in Spider-Man: Hooky, by Susan K. Putney (writer), Berni Wrightson (artist/color artist), Michelle Wrightson (color artist), and Jim Novak (letterer)

This was originally released in 1986, as one of the original graphic novels Marvel released back then (like The Aladdin Effect). Then they re-released it in 2012. I only picked it up a year or two ago, because Spider-Man against seeming eldritch horrors sounded kind of interesting. And Berni Wrightson is really good at drawing creepy, terrifying monsters. Or dragons.

The story is a young girl who used to deliver Aunt May and Uncle Ben's newspaper is actually the daughter of a powerful wizard of another realm. Back home, there's an unkillable horror after her. If defeated it changes so that attack won't work again. Spider-Man, being Spider-Man, agrees to tag along and try protect Marandi from the creature. Easier said than done.

Friday, May 18, 2018

What I Bought 5/16/2018

I thought I had a decent number of comics I wanted coming out this month, but they must all be waiting until the final week to come out.

Cave Carson has an Interstellar Eye #3, by Jonathan Rivera (writer), Michael Avon Oeming (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer) - I wanted to make a joke about not crossing the streams, but they aren't. More just aiming at the same point. So I got nothin'.

Cave and Professor Bartow enter the Lazer Monk's mind and learn about this Progenitor, and why the Monks and the Nejire are fighting. Because they're being manipulated by the little grey goo things. Zot somehow ate the particles from Star's implosion which are counteracting it somehow. The two factions team up and drive the goo things off-world, and Cave and the others head off into space, possibly in pursuit? Also, someone is vacuuming up the pieces of Star floating in space.

I don't know what's going on with all this. The two stories about the Progenitor, one where he gets people excited about telling stories, and another where he was only after power and ultimately was driven mad by the goo and attacked his followers, for some reason make me think of Stan Lee. Could be about most any leader or "great" man that was kind of terrible.

Maybe they're going to loop back around to this world at some point, but they weren't there long enough for me to care about anyone on either side of the conflict. And why does the grey goo, which feeds off dopamine, need them to fight and kill each other? I'm sure the Monks and Nejire could experience happy feelings in other ways. In fact, by the end of the issue, they seem to have found other ways to be happy. Too bad the goo things are mostly gone.

I enjoyed Chloe nicknaming her gun "Uncle Jack" after Wild Dog, and having his logo painted on the side. Although Oeming forgot to draw the gun in the panel where everyone attacks the goo monster. Maybe he thought the sound effects were going to cover it. The pipe still looks really dumb, although I accept I may not be open-minded enough to accept people looking bad ass with a pipe clenched between their teeth.

Filardi's color work is still lovely. The grey tones for the darker story of the Progenitor, compared to the light greens and yellows of the more pleasant version. A lot of the panels, especially those in the mind, the background's are a variety of strange designs. Reminds me of the Trapper Keepers other kids had back when I was in elementary school.

It's a pretty book, but I feel like I'm buying it just to look at the colors. Not really worth that.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Similars

Set in the 1960s, a group of people are stuck in a bus station during a massive downpour, one that seems to cover the Earth. The people start having seizures, and then undergoing a transformation. Someone within the station is responsible.

It's basically a Twilight Zone episode, or maybe the Outer Limits. Which, by around the hour mark, left me wondering how the hell the movie still had another half-hour to go. Answer(s): padding, and people being stupid. The person responsible sits there at one point and spends a few minutes reading a story to another character that explains what's happening. A few minutes later, a different character explains how what they're experiencing is just like the story. We are forced to sit through both scenes, which is pointless.

The transformation is bizarre enough, and there are enough characters behaving strangely, that there's an effective air of mystery about what's happening. The whole thing is happening against the backdrop of student protests, plus this worldwide storm. One of the people in the station is a med student heading for to join the protests. There's a woman with a sick child, another woman 8 months pregnant, a guy trying desperately to reach the hospital where his wife is giving birth. There's a Native American woman in the station, who speaks in a language none of the other characters understand. Or maybe it has nothing to do with any of them, and we're just seeing a small slice of the larger picture. That part works really well, there just isn't enough here to need as long they gave it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bullet Head

Three criminals - Walker, Stacy, Gage (John Malkovich, Adrien Brody, and Rory Culkin respectively) - hole up in an old storage facility after a heist of a pharmacy goes wrong. While they wait for sundown, when their ride will possibly show up, if the cops aren't around, they find out someone had been using the place for dogfights. And the meanest, toughest dog, objected to being put down and is still roaming the place.

So there's a bit of a horror movie aspect to it. A little bit of the latter half of Jaws, only instead of three guys trapped on a crappy boat, it's three guys trapped in crumbling warehouse. There are plenty of big metal doors to keep between them and the dog, but that's going to make it hard to escape. And once they have to venture into those narrow, mazelike halls, they're in trouble.

The movie also spends a lot of time on flashbacks. The crooks exchange stories from their past; heists gone wrong, heists gone right, bad childhood experiences. Some of them are fairly comical, others are pretty sad. There are also several flashbacks of the dog's life, which show it isn't the villain here. It was a perfectly good, friendly dog some asshole decided to turn into a killing machine to make them money.

So it's an interesting contrast between the two halves, but it works. The flashbacks help build the characters, human and canine, and then you have the occasional tense chase sequence to break things up. So it takes the time to try and get you to care about the characters, so that when they're running for their lives we actually want them to make it.

The dog's owner seems to think what a person (or dog) does is what they are. That's all, no changing it, just a problem to be dealt with. He says a dog that fights is a fighting dog. Which ignores the fact it wasn't a fighting dog until he decided to make it one. All the other characters acknowledge the impact of life experiences on their outlooks. Gage had a shitty childhood, which he tries to escape through self-destructive behavior, which probably only reinforces the grip of his past. Walker believes there's only three ways one gets out of being a thief, and he has a pretty good idea which one is his fate. Stacy's can't seem to decide whether a thief really is all he is or not.

It's mostly not a happy movie. The victories are Pyrrhic, until the last few seconds. The very last scene feels like it was tacked on because some executive decided the movie was too depressing. Maybe that's not how it happened, but it's what it feels like. Still a well-done movie, though.