iron man

Iron Man 3 In Review

episode42

Adam and Nick discuss the latest Iron Man movie. Iron Man 3 was a Shane Black movie through and through and it had a lot of charm. This was part super hero part 80s action movie and very fun. We go over what made this movie different than the other Iron Man movies as well as the big twist in the movie. This review has spoilers!

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My Picks of the Week

Marvel Now and The New 52 keep plugging along. Age of Ultron keeps getting better and the tie-ins have been exceptional. Superior Spider-Man’s story escalates and the repercussions of Rot World continue. It’s a Pre-Infinity and Pre-Trinity War landscape. Iron Man is on Friday and Free Comic Book Day is later this week. That’s where we’re at now let’s check out the best of the week (and one that just didn’t work).

The Best

detailX-Men Legacy #10

Marvel Comics

Writer: Simon Spurrier

Artist: Paul Davidson

The first 9 issues of this series were used to establish David Haller’s mindset and where he fits in the Marvel Universe since his father, Charles Xavier, died. The past few issues have gone a long way to establish David’s relationship with the mutant Blindfold. Everything feels like it’s been leading up to this new storyline that begins with this issue. Many who heard that Legion would be the star of his own series were very surprised and confused. With all the mutants out there more popular than him (literally dozens and dozens) how long would a book last about his adventures. It turns out that his outsider designation is exactly what propels this book. David does not see himself as a super hero and find most of them ridiculous. His biggest battles are internal ones and his attitude on his potential is far different that a more stock hero’s. This issue covers a lot of ground and works as a jumping on point for the series. I also feel as the the antagonist of this story might be something that no mutant has ever faced. You can’t call him a villain and it’s VERY easy to see where he is coming from. I think this book is exploring territories none of the X-Men books have since potentially the 90s series X-Man but this book has a much less mainstream feel to it. This feels like a Vertigo style X-Men book and I hope it continues to explore deeper territory.

file_204655_1_AgeOfUltron_7_TeaserAge of Ultron #7

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Martinez

This is what I really like about alternate reality stories. A science fiction trope that ranks high in my favorites is the idea of changing the past and the ripple affect that it has from that point on. These stories from Back to the Future, Star Trek’s Mirror Mirror, and most comparatively The Age of Apocalypse. It all goes back to Ray Bradbury’s 1952 “A Sound of Thunder”. That story gives us the butterfly effect which states that a small change at one place can result in large differences to a later state. This story really is yet another Age of Apocalypse style story where the elimination of one important figure in the past yields a different world all together in the new present. In fact, Bendis’s own House of M deals with very similar ideas. I’m hoping that this is just one stop in this story that has yet to really deal with the titular Ultron. Still, fun deviation that I am sure will be mined at a later date. The art is exceptional in this issue especially with how the art chorus were broken up. Let’s all hope this is going somewhere that matters.

IM2012009_DC11Iron Man #9

Marvel Comics

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

This is the prologue to what is suppose to be the biggest Iron Man story of the year. Since this is a year with an Iron Man movie in theaters, I’ll listen to Marvel hyperbole more than I usually do. I’ve been impressed with every issue of Kieron Gillen’s Marvel Now Iron Man and it feels like most of it has been leading up to this. I think the addition of Dale Eaglesham is a welcome one after the recent arch with Greg Land. This prologue feels like a bridge between Tony’s space adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy and an origin story. I was unsure how there could be a natural bridge until I saw the last panel of this book. Suffice to say, the next issue can’t come fast enough after this cliff hanger. Fans of the movie franchise could very well start here with the comic but you’d be missing out on the equally approachable previous 8 issues. If you haven’t been reading Iron Man, give it a shot again. You’ll find a hybrid science fiction/super hero comic that’s a real page turner.

Animal-Man_20_FullAnimal Man #20

DC Comics

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: John Paul Leon

Ever since Rotworld ended (and you could make a case during Rotworld) Animal Man hasn’t felt like the book I fell in love with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still been one of the better DC books but it’s horror/drama story that it started as was something that gave me so much hope for The New 52. Almost two years later, I’m not that impressed with much of what DC is publishing but Jeff Lemire’s work has continued to be the high water mark (for books not starring Batman). This is all preface to what I’m about to say…Animal Man #20 is one of my favorite issues of 2013. It’s a refreshing reflection on what remains of Buddy Baker’s life. I’m not going to get into much detail on how Lemire tells this story but it’s very inventive and I’m surprised I haven’t read an Animal Man story like this before. What propels this issue to the top of my list for best issues of this year is the art by John Paul Leon. I am sure many who read this will draw comparisons to David Aja’s minimal line masterpieces in Hawkeye and Iron Fist but Leon’s style is also (ironically) cinematic. Like the best comic book artists, he’s really the director (more irony) of this story. Many of the most poignant panels in this issue have no words. They don’t need any. This comic is self contained and very approachable. It also punches you in the gut. Lemire excels at these emotional stories and this has been his best issue in a while. The next issue promises a new start for Buddy Baker. This issue, however, was just what I needed to remind myself why there are stories that can only be told in Animal Man.

The Most Disappointing

Detective-Comics-20Detective Comics #20

DC Comics

Writer: John Layman

Artist: Jason Fabok

Here’s a book that has been derailed a lot recently. This sort of thing happened a lot with pre-New 52 DC books and with Death of The Family, the death of Damian, and the anniversary issue, Detective Comics has struggled to finish this story. It all ends in this issue, though for the antagonist Emperor Penguin. While his rise to power was fun to watch at the beginning, we received a pretty weak payoff in this issue. Yes, it seems that the whole point of this was to create a new colorful character to Batman’s rogues gallery but we still don’t know what makes him interesting. At first it was his philosophy of staying in the shadows and being the power behind the throne that separated him from the other villains of Gotham. That was something different. The problem is that he throws that all away very quickly in this issue leaving you with a rushed and unsatisfying ending. I also felt ripped off of a chance to see Penguin rebuild an empire from nothing. That would have been a story that could have defined him and yet that wrap up happens in just a few panels. I hope Layman gets another chance at telling a memorable Batman story because in the glut of all the other Bat-Books, this is quickly becoming the least important. I will say that the art of Fabok was consistently well done and dynamic in this book, however.

Comic to Big Screen in 2012

year end comic book boxies2012 had some big super hero movies in theaters. It didn’t have the volume of some year’s releases but the ones that did come out all had impact on the landscape of this genre. Each came with it’s fair share of baggage with some good and some bad. 2013 looks to be an even bigger year but potentially less controversial. Let’s get into what I mean now…

The Boxie goes to:

  • The Dark Knight Rises

The other nominees:

  • Amazing Spider-Man
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  • Judge Dredd
  • Marvel’s The Avengers

The Dark Knight Rises

The first thing I thought when I left the theater at 3AM for the first showing was…”Wow, I just saw a real FILM”. Not a super hero movie but a film. Sure, Bruce Wayne dresses up like a bat in a costume and fight people but this felt different. It felt like a allegory with bigger themes going on. Soon after watching the movie, Adam and I recorded a podcast on the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy (one of our first podcasts) that you can check out here.

christopher nolan dc comics

This movie felt epic and not because of special effects. That’s a first for me in the modern age of super hero movies. Sure the inexplicable alien invasion in Avengers looked cool but it had no emotion behind the fight. Instead, watch the Batman and  Bane fight near the end of Dark Knight Rises. Bane’s army and the police square off in what looks like the end of a gladiator or war movie with the two generals cutting through the fight to go one on one with their enemies. The movie was shot beautifully especially in the scenes with the snow showing off Gotham.

batman bruce wayne podcast

The A to B super hero format was abandoned with this movie opting instead for a movie that made you feel the humanity of the hero instead of just his “super humanity”. The movie is no perfect but most of the major problems were due to time management of an already long movie (examples: fixing Bruce’s back, trips between Gotham and the pit, etc.). What made this the best super hero movie of the year was the exploration of the impact on a world to having a Batman in it. Often told from multiple perspectives of those affected the most by his war on crime, this movie was bigger than just Batman. Because of that we got the final installment in a world I’ll miss visiting. I feel bad for the team that has to reboot this franchise once again.

batman nolan review 2012

Marvel’s Avengers

I see Dark Knight Rises as a film with super heroes and Avengers as a super hero film. All the beats of a modern Super Hero film are in the Avengers just…better. It’s got the coolest looking heroes fighting hordes of villains with destruction and special effects with all the trimmings. The characters in this super hero team movie all get their moment to shine as well. The best thing this movie has going for it is that they finally created a shared universe that gels as well as the comic book Marvel Universe. This is no small feat. These characters are stars of their own movies but they came together in a true ensemble picture here.

iron man hulk thor

Aspects of the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were all part of this script that used them all perfectly. Whedon should get a ton of credit for managing a colossal effort. With all the special effects and movie stars in this movie the toughest part was injecting heart. Whedon did that the way he knows best…a death of a loved character. Gregg Clark’s Agent Phil Coulson impact on this movie should not be forgotten. His role in this movie was enough to get him our choice for the hero of the year for 2012.

whedon marvel podcast

When everything is all said and done this movie will hold up for exactly what it is: escapism that puts smile on faces. The Hulk was the character that many said stole the show because of how they kept teasing his appearance before he showed up on screen. His second transformation scene would have been the most memorable scene if the movie if not for his later fight with the movie’s villain, Loki. This is the next level of super hero movie making. This game changer has both Fox Studios and Warner Brothers scratching their heads on how they can duplicate the effect of this movie. That’s pretty impressive.

Amazing Spider-Man

I feel like Adam and I said all we could possibly say about this movie on our podcast episode dedicated to the movie (episode #28 available streaming and on iTunes!). That said, we found the movie more unnecessary than bad. It’s not that it was poorly written or acted in at all (well, Gwen Stacy was WAY too convenient) it just didn’t tell a unique Spider-Man story. If Dark Knight Rises or Avengers were comics, I’d would have found them to be good reads. If the story in Amazing Spider-Man was a comic, I would be pretty bored with it. Sure, it’s an origin story (and one that’s been told in the last 10 years) but it didn’t have enough uniqueness to it to warrant it existing. Except, we know why this movie was made. If Sony didn’t make this movie they would have lost the license so they have to keep making them indefinitely or it reverts back to the now very capable hands of Marvel.

marvel sony movie 2012

I’d like to see something different in the next movie. I think it all comes down to writing. The core group of actors are actually quite good. Andrew Garfield especially did a great job capturing the essence of both Peter and Spider-Man. What needs to happen is to take some chances. Tell a Spider-Man story that’s never been told before and you’ll win me back.

Judge Dredd

The bar couldn’t have been set lower! Comparisons to the Stallone 1995 movie have to be made and are very easy to shrug off. This movie has no insights, depth, compassion, or heart and yet…it’s Dredd. This is one of those movies that’s faithful to it’s source material to a fault! It’s a throwback to the 70s and 80s action movies where you lose track of the body count, can’t identify with the protagonist, and notice that your heart rate climbs as the bullets fly. Karl Urban shows a different side to himself in this pure genre film. With the helmet firmly on at all times, he really becomes Dredd.

comic book reviews podcast

You have to have the right expectations when you see an adapted movie. Mine were of a grim and gritty comic book character who takes no prisoners and is less personable than Batman. I got that in this movie. We were also treated to stylized violence that looked more real than I thought it would for a comic book movie set in the future. Maybe this movie will help take back the line “I am the law!” from the hammed up Stallone and bring it back to its violent cold roots.

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance

This movie makes it into the top 5 because there wasn’t a true 6th super hero movie release in 2012. Was there? I’m not counting Men in Black 3 (even though that was a comic book adaptation at one point). I am sure there were some indie super hero movies that were released (let me know about them in the comments section below) but I didn’t see them. If I did, then whatever they were they would have beaten this movie.

What can I say about this that I liked? Well…let me think about that. Hmmm…I’ve got nothing! It’s not even to bad that it’s good. My expectations were super low but were raised a bit by the inclusion of the directors of the Crank movies. I thought that if this movie managed to not take itself too seriously, it could have been fun. Turns out it didn’t have that right kind of magic that allows bad movies to work. 2013 has more super hero movie releases so I feel like I won’t have to include movies like this in next year’s list. I leave you with a video from Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance.

* If Thomas Jane’s awesome short Punisher Movie, Dirty Laundry counts as a movie than it’s AT LEAST number five on this list.

Agent Phil Coulson

shield marvel avengers comicsRemember what you thought of Agent Coulson in the first Iron Man? We were so overwhelmed with all the cool parts of this movie that this character didn’t pop on his own. That’s not to say he wasn’t memorable, he was just over shadowed by the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D made it’s movie debut. He just represented what S.H.I.E.L.D. agents could be but he didn’t exactly define himself as the character we would come to know until his next appearance. Iron Man 2 better defined Phil and let you see him as capable as well as good humored. His later and more prominent appearance in Thor and a few short films (available on DVDs) made us really fall for this character.

movie shield agentWhat makes Phil the breakout character of 2012 was his appearance in the Avengers movie this year. How does a once nameless agent in a suit have the largest emotional impact in a movie starring Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and The Hulk? The answer is humanity. Phil is just like us. He’s an enthusiastic fanboy with a mancrush on Captain America. That aspect of his humanity gets us to really root for him but it’s his bravery that makes him a hero.

Phil is totally incorruptible making him the only one to stand against Loki. Loki’s plan physiologically takes down every threat he expected had a chance to stop him but he totally underestimated Phil. Coulson almost takes down a god one on one but Loki gets in a killing blow. As he is dieing, he tells Loki that he is fated to fail because he “lacks conviction”. This act of defiance, even at his end, is the most powerful moment in the film. In a movie filled with CGI, explosions, and a seemingly random alien invasion, Phil Coulson was the much needed human element in a movie almost devoid of anything you can emotionally connect with.

shield marvel avengers comicsClark Gregg brings so much to this role. His smile is disarming and he exudes patience and intelligence. He never comes off smug, cynical, or negative. His performance is all heart. Gregg can also pull off the role of an action hero on top of his emotional performance. I believe that a lesser actor would not have secured another appearance of this character after his initial role.

shield agent avengers stan leeA tribute to this character is the response fans have had since his movie death this summer. In a rare move, this movie universe character has come over to the comic book universe in the Battle Scars mini-series. He will premiere as a member of the Secret Avengers Marvel Now relaunch less than a year after his debut. This would be impressive enough but he has a very big role in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon on Disney XD. Proving that this character is more than a plot device, he works in comics, cartoon, and movies surrounded by a three very different casts. That is a really significant test for a character that leaves him with only once place to go…live action TV! The announcement that Clark Gregg will be reprising his role in the upcoming ABC show for S.H.I.E.L.D.

From an unknown agent to the lynchpin to the formation of The Avengers – Here’s to the most human hero in the Marvel Universe: Phil Coulson!

Marvel’s Newest Chapter

avengers arena hickman

Marvel Now keeps rolling out


Marvel Now started in October 2012 and looks to continue creating new titles through at least March 2013. Books are being re-touched, relaunched, and made more approachable.

Not a reboot, but a jumping on point for new and lapsed readers to pick up these books. New number one issues, new costumes, and new status quo these comics should be approachable and get you hooked.

When grading these books, I needed criteria. The best criteria would be Marve’s own, in my opinion. I’m using a 1 to 5 star rating with 5 being the best. Here is what I am looking for:

1. Approachable to a new reader. Could anyone who liked the recent Marvel Movies pick this book up as their first comic and enjoy it?

2. New status quo. Is this new enough to warrant this new labeling and reboot?

3. New cover designs. Covers will be less dogmatic (logos always on the top) and look more like movie posters.

4. New looks. We have been promised new costumes for established characters.

Round 3

Avengers #1

thor captain america

So this book is set up to be BIG. Which it should be. The tone of this book feels like Morrison’s JLA. Hickman is taking his time with this story for that “Epic” feel but it’s not a bunch of loose plot threats like his FF run.

The similarities to Morrison’s JLA run are in the the scale of the threat as well as the make-up of the team. After Morrison’s initial storyline on the book he went about growing the team’s ranks beyond the big seven with some unlikely members in order to take on threats Biblically big! This massive line-up feels like an assembly of the world’s greatest heroes. The lineup is diverse in every sense of the word. Men and women of difference races and creeds, established top-tier characters, B and C Level characters brought up from the “minor leagues”, and all-new characters in legacy roles…this is an impressive team.

Just look at Jerome Opena’s art! This book has the feel of an event story because of just how detailed and kinetic his art is in this series. This is very much a movie style story and the art is a big part of that. The two page spread for the title and credits really drives that movie feeling into my head. The story starts off with a premise similar to the team-building story of Giant Sized X-Men #1 and grows from there because this antagonist is more mysterious and interesting than an angry living island.

This team also seems to have more raw power than any line-up that comes to mind (with possible exception to the Initiative Era Mighty Avengers team with Ares and Sentry). Iron Man and Cap are the creators of this team with Iron Man as the visionary and Cap as the leader and inspiration to the team. That part came through and really worked for me.

This book is what I am looking for in a Marvel Now #1. It was approachable because it didn’t really get too into any of the new characters and instead spent it’s time defining the threat and need for this type of team. This is a book I think someone who saw The Avengers movie would appreciate as well as long-time Marvel fans. No easy task.

Approachable:

This book doesn’t give Captain America and Iron Man’s origin but…does it need to? You don’t need to read any specific storylines to understand this new status-que and that makes this very easy to pick up. You don’t need to know much about these characters (yet) to enjoy this story other than Cap and Iron Man. This feels like it was designed for the movie fan to pick up without being boring.

New Status-Que:

This is the next stage of evolution for the Avengers. Sure, it’s a traditional team building issue but with nontraditional choices for members. The diversity of the line-up again reminds me of how Giant Sized X-Men #1 changed the team forever.

New Cover Designs:

Dustin Weaver’s interlocking covers are a perfect way to define this series. A wide screen shot of this new team emerging from light lets you know that this is a massive team ready to take on anything. If Marvel now covers are trying to look like movie posters, they nailed it.

New Looks:

The last page has some, I suppose. This book takes characters from many other books and puts them together for threats deemed big enough to warrant Avenger involvement. I don’t think a uniform look that changes what they already have going would have made sense.

Avengers Arena #1

battle royale arena

This is probably the most drastic relaunch of any title Marvel now put together. Many of the characters from Avengers Academy appear in this book and it seems like this is the new teen hero book for Marvel. The comic borrow HEAVILY from the Japanese movie “Battle Royale” to the degree that it even pays homage to the films poster art with the cover. Making it more meta, the antagonist even admits to stealing the idea for this new status-que from the movie (in so many words). Let’s get into what this is about…

Heroes pitted against heroes? New characters with mysterious pasts? B Level characters thrust in the spotlight? Yes! This book has the make-up for a memorable series. The idea that classic X-Men villain, Arcade, has somehow REALLY upped his game to this level in order to prove that he’s a significant threat is very appealing to a fan who enjoys those types of stories. The premise is wonderfully simple. Like Battle Royale and The Hunger games, teens are put on an island where they are monitored and must kill all other contestants until there is only one remaining. Friendships are broken, alliances made, and even lovers are torn apart because of the game’s rules.

marvel now comics reviews

I have so many questions that have me eagerly awaiting the next issue. How did Arcade pull this off, obtain a new level of power, and access to these heroes? Have other heroes noticed theses teens are missing? Who are these new characters anyway? All of these and more are why this is possibly the best book for brand new readers to pick up. I haven’t even got into the point of view of the first issue that will have both new readers and (especially) Avengers Academy fans with jaws on the floor. The stakes are big and the story is in a bubble (not to be crossed over with other books) which are two criteria for a breakout hit.

Kev Walker really gets what makes young super heroes look cool for years and he adds a new level of darkness to that aesthetic this time around. It’s clean action-oriented art that also guts you at the right moments. These characters look like traditional Marvel super heroes but the setting is alien and that juxtaposition is great.

So far, this is the ONLY Marvel Now book I would really recommend first time comic readers to pick up. That’s impressive.

Approachable:

Everything you need to know is in this issue but long time fans will appreciate the impact of this book on another level (especially Avengers Academy fans…trust me). What it lacks in an original concept, it makes up for by being very easy to pick up.

New Status Quo:

This is a modern Secret War! Heroes against heroes for the amusement of a evil with god-like powers…it’s all there. These characters have not been through anything like this so this book is very different from others on the market right now. How long this can go for, however, is up for debate.

New Cover Designs: 

This one is tough! Although this is only an homage, it tells you everything you need to know just by the cover! It’s Battle Royale with super heroes. Nailed it. The fact that it is patterned after an actual movie poster makes it easy to live up to the mandate set forth by Marvel to do just that.

New Looks:

Costumes aren’t a big part of this series because of the lack of any real super heroics taking place here. That said, there are some cool new character designs that premiere here.

Money Is The Best Super Power

Everyone knows the best super power is to be rich! These two box office stars can prove it. With all the Stark and Wayne money these two trust fund princes inherited, who do you think is the best super hero?

Comment below with who would win!

Nick and Adam discuss two of the biggest stories in current Marvel. Avengers Disassembled and House of M.

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