Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Super Reading: Superman #1 (2018)


Superman #1 (2018)

Script:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Ivan Reis
Inks:  Joe Prado
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Letters:  Josh Reed
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham

Monday, July 16, 2018

Super Reading: Man of Steel #6

Man of Steel 6

Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Artists:  Jason Fabok
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Letters:  Josh Reed
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham
Cover:  Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Super Reading: Supergirl - Being Super (trade, 2018)



Writer:  Mariko Tamaki
Artist:  JoĆ«lle Jones
Inks (Chapter One):  Sandu Florea
Colorist:  Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer:  Saida Temofonte
Editor:  Paul Kaminski

Monday, July 2, 2018

Superman Comics Read: Man of Steel 4 and 5 (2018)



Man of Steel 4 and 5

Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Artists:  Issue 4 - Kevin Maguire, Jason Fabok
              Issue 5 - Adam Hughes, Jason Fabok
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Letters:  Josh Reed
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham
Cover:  Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair

Monday, June 18, 2018

Super-Comics Talk: Man of Steel # 2 and #3 (2018)


Man of Steel 2 and 3

Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Artists:  Issue 2 - Doc Shaner, Steve Rude, Jason Fabok
              Issue 3 - Ryan Sook, Jason Fabok, inks pages 12-12, 15: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Letters:  Josh Reed
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham
Cover:  Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair


Monday, May 21, 2018

Signal Watch Reads: I'll Be Gone In The Dark (2018 - Audiobook)



I'd intended to read Michelle McNamara's true-crime book, I'll Be Gone In The Dark (2018), this year at some point, but was propelled to listen to the audiobook when, in late April, the subject of the book was apprehended in California.

Before the book is run-over, borrowed-from, and absorbed by osmosis as documentaries and news stories rushed into production - and likely a feature film or three - I wanted to hear what McNamara had to say and where she was in her crowd-sourced, DIY investigation into the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who was active in multiple California communities in the late 70's and into the early 80's, before simply vanishing.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Super-Reviews: Superman Special #1


Release:  05/16/2018
Creators:  Various/ Anthology Book

I believe this is our last Super-stop before Man of Steel #1 arrives.  Tomasi and Gleason return to a story from what seemed very early in their run on Superman (issues 8 and 9) where Superman and Jon went to Dinosaur Island and ran into Captain Storm of The Losers.  We get a Superman short-story from Mark Russell and Bryan Hitch, and a possible teaser for future Super-content with a few pages from Ian Flynn as Writer and Kaare Andrews on Art and Colors.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Superman Comics Talk: Action Comics Special #1 / DC Nation #0

Superman variant for DC Nation #0 by JLGL


With DC's Rebirth event now a couple of years in the rear-view mirror and a status quo set-ish for the DCU at this point (at least until the next reboot), the Superman books seem to be on solid ground, even as they head into the next series of changes as Brian Michael Bendis arrives at DC and takes over both Action Comics and Superman.

I've been considering writing more often on Superman comics the past year, but it was impossible to write about them without spending half the post explaining to anyone not reading Superman titles what was going on - continuity wise - in the comics.   Tomasi and Gleason's take on Superman and Dan Jurgens and a rotating group of artists' run on Action Comics worked very well for me, messy continuity and all - but getting past the "now Superman is married to Loid with a 10 year old son" bit - not that hard, but he's from another dimension (no he's not!), he lives on a farm except when he lives in Metropolis...  all that stuff was hard to talk about, and, frankly, when Superman and family didn't just make the jump back to Metropolis and the Daily Planet the way I expected, began to feel a bit like a holding pattern awaiting some coming change.  Still, the tone was right, the adventures depicted hit the right Super-buttons, and I returned to regularly reading comics (because I always start my stack with my Super-books).

Ancillary titles have been shakier, with occasional highlights.  Supergirl isn't exactly critical reading, but found footing in recent issues.  I am so far behind on Superwoman and New Super-Man that I can't comment.  

Bendis's first pages showed up in Action Comics 1000.  While there's a novel hook to get folks interested in the Man of Steel mini in June Action Comics #1001 and Superman #1 arriving in July, if someone was expecting Shakespeare on the page in the few pages penned by Bendis - what we did get was pro-level comics, Bendis' first pages of set set up that actually kinda worked, and a feel for "Superman is back in his regular environs".

Action Comics Special #1

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rocket Raccoon Trade: A Chasing Tale (hardcover collection of "Rocket Racoon" issues 1-6)

With the release of this summer's feature film, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel has done a better job than usual of capitalizing on the potential product tie-in for the movie.  Sure, at the time of the movie's release a few things hit the shelf that were the typical "well, this is perfunctory" new material by C or Z-list talent, but they also got name talent on a few ongoing, sustainable projects.



Of these, the one I had the most natural interest in was the Skottie Young helmed Rocket Raccoon ongoing.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

3 Movie Day: Sorcerer (1977), Spaceballs (1987), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)

With the holiday season on, today was the first day without guests or an event to attend to since before Christmas Eve.  I did have a few buddies over, including PlacesLost and SimonUK, but it was in order to eat some pizza and watch a movie.

Sorcerer (1977)



Simon picked up the BluRay of this one recently, and I'd seen the trailer at the Alamo last winter and had been looking to see it ever since.  The movie may be most infamous for opening against Star Wars in 1977 and, thusly, doing pretty poorly at the box office.  Undeservedly so, as many who have seen the movie were big fans.  But it's also an interesting  juxtaposition as Star Wars would go on to define what Hollywood would spend the next forty years trying to recreate as blockbuster/ tentpole/ extremely profitable popular entertainment, and this was a smaller movie with precious little dialogue about men driving trucks through the jungle.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Official Signal Watch TL; DR "Man of Steel" Discussion

I went to the midnight show of Man of Steel and returned home in the wee hours.  I left kind of a rambling initial reaction here.  I went to work, I came home.  I've seen the movie again (in 3D IMAX with Simon, Angela and Jamie), and I've had time to process the film much, much more.

And, since that first post, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach commentary on the movie.  As this will be one of my final posts going into hiatus, we might as well talk about this movie as the intersection between the two major topics of this blog: film and Superman.



Saturday, June 8, 2013

Signal Watches (and spoils) - Star Trek: Into Darkness (the title that made no sense)

Y'all know I love my Captain Kirk, Uhura and McCoy.  I have and wear a shirt with the image of Leonard Nimoy that reads "Spock is my homeboy".  My clock at work bears the image of the Enterprise.  I was ridiculed in 4th grade Reading class for wanting to be on Enterprise away teams when I grew up.  By the teacher.

I understand that one must reboot and refresh a franchise from time to time.  For goodness sake, I'm a Superman fan.  The trademarked character is more about how he's been interpreted in various incarnations than he is about any particular story.

I just don't think JJ Abrams is much of a writer or director.  And its possible Chris Pine isn't much of an actor.



SPOILERS BELOW

What is true is that by the time Star Trek: Enterprise aired, the Star Trek franchise had become so insular and inward looking that it was basically extended fan service.  I don't even know if the show was good or not, as I found myself just... not caring that it was on as I saw it jumping back through the hoops I'd found all-too-familiar after multi-year runs of ST: TNG, DS9 and Voyager (a show I wanted to like, but found everyone but Janeway kind of perplexingly flat.  At least she got to make command decisions and wrestle with saving her crew).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I finally watch: I, Robot (2004)

As a kid, I read some Isaac Asimov, but not a lot.  Robot Dreams, the Robot Novels (Caves of Steel, etc..).  About eight years ago I read one Foundation novel hopelessly out of synch with what I was supposed to be doing and read Prelude to Foundation, you know, before Foundation, which was apparently not correct as it came out much after the original books - but did include a favorite character of mine (spoiler).

But like things do when you're 13, the robot stories stuck with me.  I believed in the infallibility of the Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.  I barely even remember the stories from I, Robot anymore, but I read it three times before I finished high school.  Still remember knocking a huge chunk of it out while sitting on my folks' front porch one sunny day.

But I knew Will Smith was nowhere to be found in any of the short stories that make up the anthology of I, Robot.



The movie of I, Robot was released in 2004, and marked a very conscious decision for me not to pay to see something that I knew I would find disappointing.  I didn't remember the book well even 9 years ago, but I was pretty sure none of the stories contained within starred The Fresh Prince.


  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
In some ways, the movie is a new story based in the world of Asimov's US Robotics and with robot psychologist Dr. Susan Calvin, a recurring character in the stories of I, Robot, who appears in multiple stories at different points in the character's fictional lifetime.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Supermarathon! Superman: Unbound

I watched the new DC Animation feature release, Superman: Unbound - roughly based on the pretty good Superman comic run by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Superman: Brainiac.



The movie is unbound* by post-Crisis continuity and can do as it likes with the story.  Truthfully, I couldn't really recall the comics too much as the original story folded in on itself into the New Krypton comics that kind of, frankly ruined the good vibe left by Brainiac, which I recall really liking.  Now, that series pulled the various post-Crisis versions of Brainiac into a single version in an elegant and narrative driven manner, merging the ideas into a worthy version of the 1950's version of Brainiac that suddenly became Superman's deadliest enemy.  It was pretty keen.

In fact, one of the few "action" statues I have from DC Direct is the one where Superman is pulling apart Brainiac robots.

Jamie decided this was too action-packed and made me put it in my office
The story brings to the surface Superman's desire to protect Lois and a newly arrived Supergirl, and tries to be a bit grown-up storytelling rather than just focusing on retelling a story from the comics or leaning completely on the intricacies of superheroing.  There's a full cast at the Daily Planet, with Steve Lombard, Cat Grant, Jimmy Olsen, Ron Troupe and Perry, and it makes me long for the days when it seemed like DC was on the cusp of reinstating the human element to Superman comics, pre-JMS catastrophe and Nu-52 relaunch.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Signal Watch Watches: Phil Spector

I think i figured out who Phil Spector was while I was in high school and had subscriptions to Spin and Rolling Stone.  He got name-dropped a lot, but it was in college that I figured out what The Wall of Sound was, and identified it with Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Ronettes, et al.  I'm no music aficionado, but I know what I like, and I was and am a Spector fan.

Recently, HBO aired a film by writer-director David Mamet, a movie based on speculation around the Lana Clarkson murder.



Of one thing I am certain: David Mamet is a much, much smarter person than me, but he can write a script that I can keep up with while still surprising me with what he sees in characters and situations, both micro and macrocosmic.  And whether his script hews to reality or not is irrelevant.  What's on trial here is less about Phil Spector, but 20 years of celebrity cases, of what it means to have reasonable doubt in the make believe world of Los Angeles and show business.  And, of course, the masses who pass judgment knowingly from watching snippets of news or seeing headlines in their RSS readers.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman: The Musical!

Holy cow.

I've known about It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! for around 10-12 years, but I had never seen it in any form.  Originally produced as a campy Broadway spectacular  in 1966 (it debuted the same year as the Adam West TV show), the show ran for about four months before closing.  I think that, these days, the show has mostly been forgotten.

In 1975, because nobody was paying attention, ABC broadcast a version of the musical.  Reportedly the program aired a single time, fairly late at night and in a dead zone where networks were often trying to figure out how to fill the airwaves*.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no legally obtainable copy of the broadcast available.  For Superman fans, the musical is about as close to an intentionally obscure artifact as I can think of to that king of pop cultural ephemera, the Star Wars Holiday Special.  Superman fans have all seen clips or stills, but we haven't seen the actual full program.

Can you read my mind?


This week, I did obtain a copy.  We'll keep it a little shrouded in mystery, but my source knows who he is, and knows how awesome he or she is.  As the existence of this video may not be entirely on the up and up (and so offended am I that I have immediately burned the DVD so that NONE may find yourself tainted by the sheer audacity of it's illegality), I'm keeping the gifter's name out of it.

But, thanks, man.  That was SUPER of you!**

The video itself is a transfer from tape.  Tape from 1975.  So, it's got some rough edges and the sound is occasionally wobbly because: aging analog media.  It's not the drug-fueled nightmare that the Star Wars Holiday Special devolves into within minutes of the opening, and, frankly, the Star Wars Special had about 20 times the budget of this show.  It's also an oddball bit of nerd media, and would fit nicely on your shelf next to the shelved low-budget, very 90's Justice League pilot, the Legends of the Superheroes, the Captain America TV movies, etc... etc...   But the musical is pure hammy schmaltz, but intentionally so, and it's oddly charming, even if it's not much of a musical.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Signal Watches: Punisher - War Zone

So, yeah.

I'm, at best, a casual reader of The Punisher comics from Marvel.  Back in the 80's, when Punisher was sort of relevant in the wake of a few Deathwish movies (clearly the idea behind the character came from Bronson), and Bernhard Goetz had opened fire on a NYC Subway, I recall names like Mike Zeck, Klaus Janson and a young Jim Lee working on Punisher stuff.

I've tried various Punisher comics over the years, but it's a book that, when I'm not reading it, I don't really miss.  Watching someone stone cold execute people because they're "mobsters" or "criminals" - gets kind of stale after a while.  Yes, I started reading Ennis's run, and enjoyed it.  I intended to read it as trades, and just never got around to it.  I am reading Rucka's stuff, and it's good, solid, Rucka - if a bit spot on the nose "oh, of course he has a broken female protagonist" Rucka, but that doesn't mean its not worth checking out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Watch: Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

There isn't much to say about the plotting of this second installment of the direct-to-video adaptation of Dark Knight Returns that a generation of comics fans grew up with via the comics page.  The dialog, often the framing, the depiction of characters...  It's likely the closest adaptation I think you'll ever run into that doesn't fall into whatever trap Peter Jackson fell into with his The Hobbit Part 1 that felt like a checklist of scenes with no real narrative push or (dare I say it) heart in its desire to lovingly recreate each beat and scene.  Nor is it the Zack Snyder slavish recreation that misses everything about why Watchmen worked, and figures that showing the same stuff we saw on the panel is good enough, even if all the directorial decisions - like casting, emotional beats, musical selection and cinematography - were completely misunderstood.



In this second installment, as an audience we've had the opportunity to get used to Peter Weller as Batman (and he's actually pretty great), and we get Michael Emerson as a giddy, cerebral Joker (God bless you, Andrea Romano).  And, somewhat like the 3rd chapter in the Dark Knight trilogy from Nolan, Batman actually takes a back seat to some of what else is happening in the story.  World War III is seething to break out, Superman's relationship with the government is filled in, and against that backdrop, Batman is still running around concerned with cleaning up the streets of Gotham.  You can almost understand how it got ignored for all those years until he retired.

I recently saw a quote from comics creator Faith Erin Hicks noting how dated Dark Knight Returns felt on a re-read.  She's not entirely wrong, but I sort of also sort of rolled my eyes.  It's a work of its time with undercurrents that remain relevant and resonant.

Comics weren't really intended to have a shelf-life when the book hit the direct market, they were commenting on the moment, and Watchmen is no less a piece of the Cold War than DKR.  And we were so ready to forget about the cloud of nuclear annihilation when Gorbachev instituted Glasnost, I'm not surprised that a generation had grown up without the context, and doesn't quite get what it felt like to do duck and cover drills until everyone admits that it's kind of pointless when you're in about 3rd grade.  Nor has the era of street crime that pervaded the big cities been seen in Gen Y's lifetime (although Chicago spent 2012 doing it's damndest to recreate the era that made "Bloods" and "Crips" household names).

Friday, December 28, 2012

Signal Re-Watch: "Sunset Boulevard" and watching "Casino" on basic cable

Sunset Boulevard (1950)



I finally watched Sunset Boulevard about two years ago, and it's already become one of my favorite films.  I received a copy on BluRay for Christmas (thanks, Jason & Amy!), and gave it a whirl.  Frankly, I'm a bit shocked that I didn't do a lengthy write up of the movie during that time a couple years back when I first watched the movie in its entirety then went to the Paramount to see it, but I can't find a record of any formal prior discussion of the movie.

If you're not familiar, Sunset Boulevard opens on a murder in the Hollywood Hills (I guess, I don't know LA geography) and backtracks in pure noir style to how we got to this point.  A struggling screenwriter who tasted success and watched it fade stumbles upon the decaying mansion of a once great silent film star now living as a recluse, planning her return to greatness.  She has money, and plenty of it, and Joe is willing to take the money and deal with the insanity of the mansion and wretched screenplay she wants him to tidy up that will surely mean the return of Norma Desmond to an imagined legions of fans eagerly awaiting her return.

And then things get dark and weird.

The movie spawned a million quotes, and is best remembered for Gloria Swanson's stunning portrayal of Norma Desmond - a character that reflects what had happened to some extent to many stars of the silent era (and continues to happen to talent as they fade from the public eye in favor of the next new thing) - only, you know, amped up a bit.  Add on real-life former silent director Eric von Stroheim as Desmond's aloof butler, and you've got a really interesting dynamic going.

In general, I don't love movies about Hollywood making movies, but sometimes the industry turns the eye back on itself and is willing to admit a few things about itself that make for a great story or provide an opportunity for great performances - even if there's maybe not a sense of a universal human experience or some such idea.  But I do think the ideas about self-delusion, dreams of stardom and relevancy and what it means when it fades, what we're willing to do for a buck, and more... are recognizable if not relatable.

Plus, man, Billy Wilder's dialog.

"...we had faces!"

There are a LOT of extras on the disc.  Probably too many, but you can't say it's not fairly complete when it comes to talking about the film and reminds me of the difference between access to a film via a streaming service and why you might want to own a copy of your favorite movies.

The movie itself is one of those things that will continue to reveal bits of Billy Wilder's brilliance for several more screenings, and my appreciation for how all of the pieces fit together just grows with every viewing.  I appreciate the devotion to Hitchcock (and also received the Hitch BluRay box set for Christmas that I am dying to crack open), but I think film school could do worse than to point that eye at Wilder and his ability to leap from genre to genre and redefine it as it goes.  As they point out in the bonus features, he not only managed genre - he moved outside of genre and created his own kind of film with Sunset Boulevard.

Casino (1995)

Casino is not a short movie, clocking in at about 3 hours, but I've still seen it probably 8 or 9 times.  And, I argue, it's one of the best reasons to reconsider Sharon Stone as something other than the somewhat Norma Desmond-esque figure she's hellbent on becoming.

you kids who work with video will never know the night mare of lighting this for film

The movie rolls out DeNiro as DeNiro, Pesci as Pesci and a whole herd of hoodlum and thug stereotypes from the Eastern US and drops them in Nevada in the wake of the Rat Pack.

Based on something approximating the real-life events of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal leaving Chicago and illegal gambling to establish mob foundations in a town where everything is legal - the movie presents the story using a fictionalized version in Sam "Ace" Rothstein (DeNiro) as a mobbed-up bookie who finds he can make a fortune as a legitimate businessman in the wilds of Vegas.  How much is true, how much is speculation and how much is fabrication - probably best Scorsese himself doesn't know.  Pesci, not so long since he tried mainstream credibility with My Cousin Vinny plays mob thug Nicky Santoro, the muscle Ace needs in the early days, but who becomes a liability the minute respectability becomes a necessity.  Stone plays DeNiro's showgirl wife/ greatest distraction and liability.

Fantastically shot, meticulously detailed, Scorsese captured the last of old Vegas before it was subsumed with Vegas' secondary major industry - construction.  (If you've never been to Vegas, it changes completely about every 8-10 years).

this one time in 1995, Sharon Stone made a movie in which she was terrific

It's an epic film that isn't shy about a sprawling cast and intricate relationships presented in sketchy detail, but Scorsese keeps it easy to follow, using the template started in Goodfellas as a jumping off point.  The story stretches over a decade or more, following the rise and fall of key characters who ignite the Vegas scene and make the world there possible before being subsumed by corruption outside, inside and something resembling the actual forces of the justice via the US Justice Department and a lot of bad karma.

Anyway, on this go-round I was really struck by how well the movie presents all of the characters, their motivations and points of view, and even if we want to root for Ace, he's maybe as bad or worse than Nicky in some ways - at least Nicky is honest about his nature and seems to want for things to work out - he just doesn't have the big picture vision that Ace seems to have in spades.

And, by the way, if you're a James Woods fan, this is one of his smaller, wonkier roles and every time it makes me laugh a little bit.

I did watch the movie on basic cable.  Why?  I don't know.  I have a copy on DVD.  But it was fascinating watching them edit the living heck out of Jos Pesci's dialog while allowing for bats to collide with skulls and running ads for The Untouchables where the ad was entirely the infamous "teamwork" scene.

Oh, American TV standards.  You are so weird.

The movie will also have my undying respect for casting Don Rickles in a straight role in a movie.  I mean, who does that?  Brilliant.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: "Trekkies 2" and "The People vs. George Lucas"

I watched these two docs back-to-back, trying to clear out some of my Netflix queue, but also to try to wrap up the number of docs I'm willing to watch about folks obsessing around a particular bit of geek-culture.  It seems like there's a built in audience around these things, so they get made and we can have movies about ourselves as geeks, and that's okay.  Having a movie that reflects the culture built up around a franchise is relevant if not important in understanding the context of that bit of media and why and how it fits in with the broader culture.

The two movies catch two powerful franchises and their fanbases at about the same period, around 2009ish, as Star Trek was more or less out of production and the audience is - you hate to say it - probably in decline as it aged out and maybe moved on as the content had both diminished over a few less-than-stellar series and hadn't had a great movie in quite a while.  Star Wars was, of course, Star Wars, and the final installment (at time of filming) had left audiences with mixed feelings.