Top Cow comes to XBox

I'm sure this won't be Gears of War or Halo, but it looks pretty cool nonetheless. I've always been a fan of the first person shooter...

I happened to notice this commercial the other day sitting in a restaurant that had some game on the TV - it looked interesting, and I was suprised when I saw what it was - based on the Top Cow comic The Darkness.


Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) mini review

based on a comic

The quintessential crimefighting quartet is back; this time, they're not just trying to stop a supervillain; they're trying to save the world. In this second film, we are introduced to the Silver Surfer (played by Doug Jones - Hellboy, Men in Black II, Monkeybone, Mystery Men, Tank Girl, Batman Returns; voiced by Laurence Fishburne - TMNT). Who is this mysterious visitor? Why is he here? How'd he get so shiny?

The writing was good, the effects were amazing, the action was great - all in the first half of the film. FF2 peaks about halfway through, and at this point it's better than its predecessor. Unfortunately, about the time the Fantastic Four finally begin to uncover the mystery, the film, like the dead worlds that Galactus leaves behind, just seems to go cold. I hadn't seen the original Fantastic Four since it was in theaters, so I rented it the afternoon before I went to see the sequel and was surprised at how much more I liked it.

Ironically, in a film where superpowers are caused by cosmic storms, I think there was a lot that stretched believability. You can only willfully suspend disbelief so far. I don't want to get too spoilerish, so I won't go into detail on everything that bothered me. I'll just use one example - the heavy-handed product placement. "Dear, however will we get out of this predicament?" "Why, my Dodge Fantasticar will save us - and, yeah, it's got a Hemi."

That's really just the tip of the iceberg. There's enough stuff in the second half of the film that seems forced that makes me feel like the writing time was spent on the first half of the screenplay, and the second half was rushed. Which is sad, because several of the writers seem to have comic book experience - Don Payne (My Super Ex-Girlfriend), John Turman (Hulk, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (television series)).

See it if you're a Fantastic Four fan, or you enjoyed the first one (or maybe if you didn't like the first one - it seems like everyone else likes this one better).

Don't see it if you're not really into Fantastic Four or don't care about the cool Surfer special effects - there probably won't be enough in here to keep your attention.


Marvel vs. DC

I realize this has been around a few months, but I recently ran across it on Major Lee Videawesome. Part of the reason this parody of the current Mac/PC commercials is so funny is because it's dead on.

There's one shy of a dozen on this JustSomeRandomGuy's YouTube page. Some of them are funnier than others, but they all have spots where you just have to laugh out loud (well, mainly if you're into comic book films).


Spider-Man 2 (2004) mini review

based on a comic

In this second installment of the Spider-Man series, we are treated to the origin of the legendary Spidey foe, Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina, who has an eclectic resume, including voicing an episode of Justice League). He is a physicist that has created four Artificially Intelligent limbs to help him control an experiment in which he has created fusion. When the experiment goes awry, they take on a life of their own, and rather than Dr. Octavius controlling the limbs, they drive him insane and begin to control him. As he rampages (as super-villains are wont to do) he is dubbed “Dr. Octopus” by the Daily Bugle and a legend is born. Spider-Man once again has to swing into action to save New York.

Doc Ock’s origin was the only part of the film that really bothered me. I can handle just about anything, as long as it comes with a good explanation. I can believe in a kid with spider powers – he got bitten by a spider with enhanced DNA. Doc Ock’s origin was so sketchy, it just left me scratching my head…

Otherwise, Spider-Man 2 is an extremely enjoyable film. It outshines the first, which was a pretty good film on its own. I like how the Spider-Man movies get back to the roots of the character – Peter Parker is a real person with real problems – he’s somebody we can relate to. Of course, Kirsten Dunst makes an excellent Mary Jane Watson, and that doesn’t hurt things at all.

[On a side note, writing credits on this film include Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (creators of Smallville) and Michael Chabon (writer of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). ]

See it if you like action movies or comic book films.

Don't see it if you like neither action movies nor comic book films.


The Notebooks of Dr. Brain (Minister Faust, 2006)

I just finished a fascinating piece of superhero fiction. The Notebooks of Dr. Brain chronicles the therapy sessions of the superhero team, F*O*O*J - The Fantastic Order of Justice. While the book is hilarious, it digs deep into topics that many writers have trouble finessing.

Meet The Flying Squirrel, Omnipotent Man, Iron Lass, X-Man, Brotherfly, and Power Grrrl, as they tackle racism, sexism, relationships, all while Dr. Eva Brain helps them work through their issues with each other, superheroing, and the world around them.

Minister Faust is an amazing wordsmith. The book is written as a pseudo-psychological self-help book by Dr. Brain: Unmasked! When Being a Superhero Can't Save You From Yourself. I feel that calling this book a satire would limit it - it's so much more. Faust's writing is riveting - not so much because you get lost in the story, but because you get lost in the writing itself. He weaves words together in an amazing fashion leaving a completely absorbing tapestry that the viewer must stare at in awe.

I highly recommend this to anyone who's into superheroes, who's dabbled in psychology, or just loves good writing.


Who Watches the Heroes?

Warning: Major Heroes and Watchmen spoilers ahead...

Recently finished a marathon of the last few episodes of Heroes. If you're not watching it, you're really missing something.

But did anyone else notice - especially toward the end - the amazing parallels between Heroes and Watchmen?

The first thing that hit me was the planning of a major disaster for the greater good.

It's a different idea, with a different background, and different plot. But the concept is still the same - plan a huge disaster that will bring everyone together. It's for the greater good - the end justifies the means. In Watchmen, the point is for everyone on earth - all races and nations - to be unified against a common threat. In Heroes, it's more about how tragedy can bring a nation together.

The second thing that struck me - mainly because the disaster planted the original thought in my mind - was the whole generational sub-plot. The fact that a group of heroes had all been through this before, and all or most had ties to this generation. Of course, this didn't use flashbacks - but maybe they're saving that for the second season.

And I can't believe I've missed the last 30 installments of the on-line comic. Guess I'll have to go back and read them all. They're supposed to go all summer. I'm curious if the parallels will feel stronger reading through them.

It all just made me want to go back and read Watchmen again.

Did anyone else see those parallels?


May '07 Previews Pop Culture Crossover

Much later than I planned, but nonetheless, here are some interesting new series, trades, and one-shots in May's Previews.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Omnibus Volume 2 (Dark Horse, TPB)
    Stories taking place during Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of the show.
  • New Battlestar Galactica: Season Zero #1 (Dynamite, 6-issue mini)
    The first mission of the Battlestar - two years before the series started.
  • Who Wants to be a Superhero: Feedback (Dark Horse, One-Shot)
    Based on the winner of Sci Fi's Who Wants to Be A Superhero?, I'm hoping the comic isn't as stupid as the show.
  • 2001 Maniacs Special #1 (one-shot, Avatar)
    Just in time for the 2001 Maniacs sequel (Beverly Hellbillys, due out in October). Also, the original happens to be on Encore this month.
  • Friday the 13th: Pamela's Tale #1 (2-part mini, DC/Wildstorm)
    The tale of Jason's mother.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: About a Boy #1 (one-shot, DC/Wildstorm)
    When Leatherface was but a child.
  • Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm (Hardcover Graphic Novel, DC/Vertigo)
    Percy Carey's autobiographical look at the life of a Hip Hop artist.
  • Marvel Illustrated: The Man in the Iron Mask #1 (mini-series, Marvel)
    Adaptation of the Dumas book (from the series that began with The Three Musketeers).
  • Halo: Uprising #1 (mini-series, Marvel)
    Based on the extremely popular game that is a favorite to mash with comic book movie 300. It seems like everybody knows somebody who made a Halo 300 film.