Tag Archives: review

Daredevil by Mark Waid Volume 5 is his best yet

Daredevil by Mark Waid Volume 5

While I still love Frank Miller’s runs of Daredevil best, this latest hardcover of Mark Waid’s is the best he’s done. Volume 5 collects Daredevil Volume 3 issues 22 through 27. I didn’t really like the start of Mark Waid’s Daredevil with the Omega Drive. It felt a little too mainstream Marvel, like I was reading the Avengers without most of the Avengers. It got better, but this volume just blew the previous out of the water.

Some things were interesting but minor. It was cool to see Stilt-Man again in a funny way, and there was a little fight with Spider-Man. But there were a few things happening that were absolutely great. First, Ikari is a great villain. I know we don’t know much about his personal motivation. No, he’s not a well-rounded character yet. However, I hope we see more of him in the future. We also got to see Stick in some flashbacks. I kind of thought Waid was going to downplay Stick, but apparently I was wrong.

Daredevil begins to piece together who’s after him and who has been sending people to harm him. It was exactly who I expected, but it doesn’t mean it was any less cool, especially how Foggy figured out who it is before Matt. Speaking of Foggy, it’s great to find their relationship getting repaired. The roles flip back and forth, and we see that maybe they perform the same function for each other. They need each other. While Daredevil might be called the Man Without Fear, we see him incredibly scared in this volume, and Foggy is the one who has to keep him grounded, despite imposing health problems.

While I prefer hardcovers over single issues, it’s going to be extremely hard to stay away from Daredevil until the next volume is released!

The Sentry: Reborn

The Sentry: Reborn

After enjoying the idea of the Sentry, I went back and read his original series and The Sentry: Reborn miniseries. The original The Sentry miniseries has an interesting background story. In the Marvel Universe, the Sentry is supposedly one of the first superheroes, but for some reason, no one remembers him. Over the course of the miniseries, it’s revealed why no one remembers. It also explores his nemesis, the Void, a being of pure evil. What’s especially interesting is that Marvel plays up the idea by acting like they found old sketches and notes about him from 60’s.

The Sentry: Reborn adds a lot more twists to his story. It examines the relationship between Robert Reynolds, his alias as The Sentry, and The Void. Reynolds’ therapist is also a major character as they deal with Reynolds’ schizophrenia. It’s very fascinating. The Sentry is very similar to Superman in that they’re both incredibly powerful “classic” heroes. They’re both forces of pure good. However, out of his costume, Reynolds is highly unstable, suffering from schizophrenia, depression, delusions, agoraphobia, and substance abuse. It’s definitely a different direction than Superman!

I do have to say that the art style in The Sentry: Reborn was rather disappointing. The proportions consistently looked off to me, and faces looked especially bad. John Romita Jr. is a pretty famous comic artist, so I don’t know if he used a different style for this or if I just don’t like his style. Regardless of art problems, I still thought it was a great book!

Dr. Horrible And Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

I absolutely love Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but the graphic novel Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories has been sitting in my room unread for some time now. It consists of Captain Hammer: Be Like Me!Moist: Humidity RisingPenny: Keep Your Head UpThe Evil League of Evil, and the Dr. Horrible one-shot. Sadly, the graphic novel was hit or miss.

Captain Hammer: Be Like Me! was amusing and was basically Captain Hammer telling kids to be like him and look out for potential super-villains, such as a kids who are interested in science. While not seeming to develop plot, it was a fun little story.

Moist: Humidity Rising tells the backstory to Moist, Dr. Horrible’s henchman. Yes, I guess it was plot development, but it wasn’t very interesting.

Penny: Keep Your Head Up shows that Penny has difficulties dating. It was fairly uneventful.

The Evil League of Evil was a bit more interesting. When the heroes are away, the League decides to attack the city. Two small-time heroes get involved, trying to stop them.

Finally, the Dr. Horrible one-shot deals with Dr. Horrible’s origin. This was the most interesting comic in the paperback. In addition to showing what motivates Dr. Horrible, it also ties back into Captain Hammer: Be Like Me!

While it was fun enough to read, the graphic novel sadly didn’t live up to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I suspect that will stay alone in its greatness. I realize Whedon has talked about a sequel, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Pushing Daisies

For some reason, I stopped watching Pushing Daisies once I reached the last episode. I wanted to put it off until later, always opting for something else to save Pushing Daisies for a better time. I finally sat down to watch it earlier this week. I’m glad to have finished it, but I am sad that it’s over.

I was under the impression that it was cancelled suddenly and that there was no ending, but that wasn’t the case. Yes, it was rushed, but it definitely ended. However, they could easily bring it back (and I’d love it). Unfortunately, the plots that were concluded were wrapped up way too fast. The final episode led toward the conclusion of one plot and then, at the last minute, decided to wrap up other plots as well. Odd.

Regardless, if you haven’t watched Pushing Daisies, I’d highly recommend it. And if you have the magical ability to bring back cancelled TV shows, please work your magic on it!

Dared to read Daredevil Yellow

Daredevil Yellow

Daredevil Yellow is Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s retelling of Daredevil’s origins. In an effort to deal with the loss of Karen Page, Matt writes a letter to her as a way of dealing with his feelings. Through these letters, we see his past.

It was an entertaining story as a Daredevil fan, but I’m not sure it would work as a good introduction to the hero for people who weren’t familiar with him already. Then again, maybe an origin story isn’t always written for newcomers. Can’t a fan enjoy a retelling of an origin?

The story centers on Karen Page. In addition, it covers the death of Matt’s father, Battling Jack Murdock, fairly well and gives a new (to me at least) reason for his costume being yellow; he made it out of his father’s robe. Loeb also gives motivation for Matt changing his costume to red based on feedback from Karen. That’s not exactly how I remember it from issue seven in which he mentions in passing redesigning his costume to make it “more comfortable” and “more distinctive.” User Aristocles on Answerbag wrote that the artist, Wally Wood, didn’t want the Man Without Fear to wear yellow because it’s the color of fear. Is it true? I don’t know, and I’m not researching. It sounds plausible though.

The art style in Daredevil Yellow is a bit odd. It’s a bit deformed or grotesque. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it’s just skewed. Usually this just seems like a stylistic choice, and it looks good on some characters. Matt looked good usually, for example. However, Karen looks like some sort of demon at times! I didn’t care for her look in most panels.

Daredevil Yellow was entertaining but not superb. It worked at retelling parts of Matt’s origins but only parts. If you’re new to Daredevil, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Invisible Man

It took me over a month to read H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, mostly thanks to Scalzi’s The Human Division. I was familiar with the basic idea – a man becomes invisible and becomes a murderer. Through watching the story of Griffin, the Invisible Man, unfold and hearing him recount his earlier actions, the reader gets to see how he was driven to madness. However, it still seemed to happen too rapidly.

I would have liked to understand it a bit better. As terrible as it sounds, I wanted to feel like I could understand how one would end up doing the things he did. While I learned why he felt that way, I didn’t truly get to experience it. It also makes me wonder whether Griffin was unstable before his adventure even began or whether the disconnect between an invisible man and the rest of humanity naturally would create these feelings and tendencies in the invisible man. I suspect, due to Griffin’s early actions before becoming invisible himself, that he had inherent issues, but it’s interesting to ponder.

The Colonial Union and the Conclave discover a possible mutual enemy in A Problem of Proportion

Scalzi’s eleventh episode of The Human Division has the Conclave and Colonial Union meet in an officially unofficial backchannel discussion. Unfortunately, they’re both attacked. It seems likely that whoever set the attack wanted each side to think it was the other. While they investigate who was behind the attack, they come across some interesting finds aboard the enemy ship.

Any episode that features the Conclave is interesting because it’s a different side than that which we normally see. Not only do we get the Conclave in this episode, but we get Conclave interaction with the humans, which is always interesting. While we still don’t know who’s behind the attacks or their motivation, we’re getting closer. Now that the Conclave and Colonial Union each realize that someone is attacking both of them, I expect the tensions to rise. Of course, the fact that there are only two more episodes left in The Human Division make that even more evident! I suspect we’ll get very close if not find out directly who it is and their motivation in the next episode. If only Tuesday could come faster.

Scalzi shows us Phoenix in This Must Be the Place

In This Must Be the Place, episode ten of Scalzi’s The Human Division, we get our first look at the human capital of Phoenix. In the Old Man’s War universe, humans are the only species that have used a planet other than their homeworld as their capital. We’ve known about Phoenix since the original novel, Old Man’s War, but This Must Be the Place is the first time we’ve seen it.

Hart Schmidt travels home on leave to Phoenix to spend a holiday with his family. We meet his politically powerful father and rich family, and through them, we see Phoenix politics. I love that we get to see so many new aspects of the universe Scalzi has created in The Human Division. The episodic nature of novel allows Scalzi to jump to different areas and show us different perspectives. We’ve been back on Earth, seen Phoenix, and listened to debates within the Conclave. These three episodes have been my favorite of the novel so far. I don’t know where Scalzi will take me next, but I’m looking forward to it.

The Human Division #9: The Observers

In Scalzi’s ninth episode of The Human Division, The Observers, some Earthling observers come aboard a Colonial Union ship and watch Abumwe handle negotiations with an alien race. Unfortunately, one of the Earthlings dies and it appears to be a murder. If they can’t figure out what happened, it could be bad for the Colonial Union.

We’re nearing the end of The Human Division with only four more episodes, and we still don’t know who’s causing all the trouble. However, there’s definitely an overarching plot, and we see it here again. This episode continues the juxtaposition of Earth and the Colonial Union, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the Old Man’s War universe. In addition, we see the continued escalation of the unknown threat. Of course, we still have a number of questions. Who would want to kill one of the Earthlings? Who posed as Earthlings and wanted to blow up the ship previously? Who killed the radio host on Earth? Who tried to set up the CDF to look like the aggressors in the first episode? I’m hoping for some basic answers to these soon so that we have a few episodes full of action. We’ll see what we get tomorrow.

Crossed by Ally Condie

Following the dysopian future shown in Matched, Crossed explores the fringes of that society. More importantly, it shows what’s outside of that. While it was exciting, a story becomes less dystopian once it’s outside of the society proper.

When I discussed Matched, I compared it to other novels in the same genre. The series especially reminded me of The Hunger Games. Fortunately, things deviated. First, there was the secret. I won’t give it away, but it raises the tensions a bit. Second, the ending of Crossed definitely paves the way for Reached, the final book, to be quite exciting (and different)!

I’m starting Reached tonight.

Scalzi’s The Back Channel reveals the Conclave

With the sixth episode of the Human Division, Scalzi finally gave me what I really wanted. He showed me the Conclave.

While the Back Channel shows humans as well, it really showcases alien members of the Conclave and the Conclave itself as a political unit. More than anything in the Old Man’s War universe, that’s what I wanted to see next, so I was thrilled to find myself before a large political body of the Conclave.

The Back Channel raises some tension in the story while reaffirming that while the Conclave might be at odds with the Colonial Union, they’re not villains (at least not to the readers). Without giving anything away, we also see that we still have a missing puzzle piece.

The Amazing Spider-Man

While the Amazing Spider-Man was quite entertaining, I also found it strangely flawed. Before I even gave it a chance, I have to admit that I was annoyed that it was being rebooted so quickly. It seemed really soon to show Spider-Man’s back story as well. Most people are already very familiar with Spider-Man, so did we really need to learn how he got his powers? However, showing it helps reinforce the idea that this is a reboot. I suppose in this respect there was just no winning.

I liked the actors in the Sam Raimi trilogy, especially Tobey Maguire, and I didn’t care for Andrew Garfield’s look at first. Having now seen the movie, his appearance does seem to match the character as he’s written, but he’s not written as I know him. Peter Parker is supposed to be a smart, nerdy kid. He’s an outsider because of that. In the Amazing Spider-Man, Parker is still an outsider, but I don’t really see him acting like a nerdy loser. He seems smart, sure, but he also has the self-centered attitude stereotypical to teenagers. For example, after a teacher tells him not to use his skateboard in the hall, he waits until out of his sight, drops the board, and continues skating. Perhaps things have changed since I was in school already, but weren’t the skaters the cool kids? Peter Parker is definitely a different Peter in this film, but it still works for him. The intelligence is still there, but the nerdiness isn’t as highlighted. As he’s younger in this film as well, it seems only fitting that he’s filled with angst. He’s a rebellious teenager at this point, and it shows.

The Lizard was an interesting and memorable villain but not quite as memorable as some from the Raimi trilogy. I didn’t find Sandman or Venom very interesting in Spider-Man 3 (despite really liking Venom), but I still found the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus more interesting than the Lizard.

On a less important note, there’s a scene in which Spider-Man jumps off a balcony without his backpack and later has it. I caught it immediately and have to wonder how no one attached to the film caught it in time to fix it. The security at Oscorp is ridiculous. How they don’t manage to notice Parker going where he shouldn’t seems like flawed writing to me. At first I wanted to say that it also seems unbelievable that Parker would touch the things he did, but I might be projecting values of the Raimi Parker on the new Parker.

The film is darker than I’d like Spider-Man to be, but there’s still humor. I particularly liked Spider-Man’s use of his cell phone. In once scene, he plays a game on his phone while waiting. In another, he sits atop a building in costume talking to his aunt about picking up groceries for her. As minor as it is to the story, it sets the mood quite well and is my favorite scene of the movie.

To reiterate, things definitely weren’t all bad. I really enjoyed the film, and there were some excellent parts. Gwen Stacy wasn’t very important in Raimi’s films, and I didn’t really care about her. She’s portrayed and written well in the Amazing Spider-Man. She’s cute and a good love interest for Parker. It was a little odd that she dressed so provocatively at work, but she’s a teenager, so I suppose that’s realistic. It’s also odd that a high school teenager has time to intern at a large corporation, but I’ll accept that. Her father, Captain Stacy, was also an important role in the film. I enjoyed Parker’s interactions with him.

I came into my viewing biased against it, so I was looking for problems. The Amazing Spider-Man was actually a fun superhero movie and has a lot of things going for it. Parker is a little less nerdy and a bit more angsty and angry. This is different, sure, but it works. Emma Stone’s portrayal of Gwen Stacy was great, and I’m happy to see her heavily featured. I’m looking forward to the sequel!

 

Tales From the Clarke, the fifth episode of The Human Division gives a fresh look at a known character

Tales From the Clarke continues Scalzi wonderful episodic The Human Division. This time we see a familiar face from the first episode, Captain Coloma. Scalzi chooses a great protagonist by following a character with whom we’re already familiar but who was not a major character.

She’s tasked with showing off an old ship to delegates from Earth. The Colonial Union wants to rebuild Earth’s trust, so this is a critical mission. However, everything isn’t as it seems. By the end we see some resolution but with more tantalizing questions to propel us into the remaining episodes of The Human Division.

Episode 4 of Scalzi’s The Human Division gives us a glimpse of Earth

A Voice in the Wilderness is another side-story to the overall arc of The Human Division (and a great one at that). For the first time, Scalzi shows us what everyday life is like on Earth. Episode 4 follows a political commentator on Earth and shows us some of the conversations surrounding Earth’s relationships with the Colonial Union and the Conclave. It’s extremely fascinating and something we haven’t seen in the Old Man’s War universe previously.

This episode provides great content for the current state of humanity in the universe. As might be expected by an episode still early in the total work, however, it also leaves us with questions. I’m anxious to find the answers to those questions in future episodes. A Voice in the Wilderness is easily worth the $0.99, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the episodic format of The Human Division!

Reposted from my Goodreads.

We Only Need the Heads gets Scalzi’s The Human Division back on track

Just a few minutes into We Only Need the Heads, John Scalzi’s third episode of The Human Division, and I not only knew it was entertaining, but I also immediately realized the context of the second episode, Walk the Plank. Walk the Plank wasn’t quite as strong as a stand alone episode, but We Only Need the Heads quickly relates back to both of the first episodes.

As one CDF officer is loaned for a CDF mission to remove an unauthorized colony, a Colonial Union ambassador is tasked with completing the final negotiations with an alien race. Of course, these two separate goals are intertwined in ways that neither know at first.

We Only Need the Heads is very engaging, and Scalzi expertly jumps between action with the CDF and dialogue with the ambassadors. I believe we also see some hints of where the story is going in The Human Division, but it might be too early for me to know.

Walk the Plank continues Scalzi’s The Human Division

Walk the Plank is the second episode in John Scalzi’s The Human Division. It’s very different than The B-Team, the first episode, which I presume Scalzi did on purpose to set expectations. Walk the Plank is written as a transcript rather than in a traditional form. In addition, it’s much shorter, and the story doesn’t seem as satisfying.

While the first episode was a great story by itself, Walk the Plank is self-contained but but only decent. If it didn’t exist as part of a larger series, it would be rather boring. On the other hand, it’s more than enough for a chapter in an average novel.

As part of a larger whole, it seems to help set up things to come. There are some troubling problems that will likely reappear in later episodes. To be clear, I wouldn’t complain at all if it was simply a chapter in a novel, which is what it is in a way. However, if the The Human Division was compared to a TV series with The B-Team being the double-length pilot, Walk the Plank would would be one of the more out-of-place episodes with its weird format and subpar plot.

It was entertaining and served the greater story but just didn’t stand alone as amazingly well as The B-Team. Of course, Scalzi’s set such a high bar far himself that it’s to be expected that some episodes would miss by a little. I’d guess that Scalzi knew this to be one of the weaker episodes that’s more of a side story providing additional information, and that’s why it was placed second. Now we know that some episodes will be very different, and this helps give us an idea of what to expect. I can’t wait until next week for the next episode!

DEAD[ish] is dumb but good for a chuckle, 2/5

DEAD[ish], by Naomi Kramer, is a very odd book. It’s a bit dumb but good for a chuckle. I like the basic idea of a spirit screwing with the person responsible for her death. The idea of a vengeful spirit isn’t new, but Linda screws with Mike in a manner more like college pranks than revenge upon a killer.

That said, when things were finally revealed, it didn’t make a ton of sense to me. I comprehended the plot, but I didn’t see enough motivation for why things turned out the way they did. Questions are answered by the end, but the motivation for those events aren’t fully given. I don’t want to say more for fear of spoiling the short story. It’s a fun idea, and for a free ebook, it’s an enjoyable read.

John Dies at the End the movie: Great casting but rushed plot, 7/10

Having read the novel, I had some prior expectations about the movie. I tried to judge the movie solely on itself, but it’s hard to shake what I knew.

Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye late at night, but when you turn to look, nothing’s there? What if something really was there, and you gained the ability to see those beings? That’s what John Dies at the End is about – being able to see those creepy things in the night!

John Dies at the End is told mostly as a story as the main character, Dave, recounts his adventures to a journalist. Those scenes were fantastic. While the setting of the odd Chinese restaurant was a part of this, the character of Arnie was more responsible. Paul Giamatti plays Arnie Blondestone, and he’s absolutely perfect for the role. He seems so unimposing and a bit bland while at the same time just a tad odd, which is perfect for the character.

On the subject of casting and acting, all the characters were cast well. Chase Williamson is great as Dave, Rob Mayes plays a good, aloof John (although he looks tougher than I expected), and Clancy Brown is great as Dr. Albert Marconi.

Many things have changed from the book, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The story has been greatly condensed with some subplots ignored, some characters removed (or merged), and, unfortunately, some important details missing. While the initial setup and development is great in the first half of the movie even with the condensation, the latter half of the film suffers. There doesn’t seem to be enough justification for the characters’ actions. Things happen very suddenly at the end, and while some of the changes from the book are fun, it still feels incomplete.

Despite a rushed plot, John Dies at the End was still a terrific movie for people who like slightly cheesy sci-fi or horror films. While I complained about the rushed plot, it’s probably not as noticeable to someone who hadn’t read the book. John Dies at the End is probably best enjoyed late at night when you’re liable to see things in the shadows!