No words, a picture paints a thousand words…
JACK KIRBY (2001: A Space Odyssey)
A book about superheroes from one of the most iconoclastic of comic book writers, Grant Morrison. To sum it up, Morrison provides an analysis of over 70 years of the superhero mythos whilst at the same time dovetailing the subject matter into some kind of meta-autobiography.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR
I suppose I am a bit late to DC’s New 52 concept which rebooted the company’s entire superhero line but the very idea repulsed me back then, so you will forgive me if I decided not to indulge when it all went down in 2011. The direct-to-video animated movie, Justice League: War, represents the first movie adaptation of the New 52 series (in particular, Justice League) and thus, I thought it would be an appropriate time to give my 2cts worth on this latest reboot.
Most PoP visitors will be aware of my ambivalence towards contemporary superhero comics. But every now and then, a series will appear that promises an intriguing take on the much maligned ‘genre’. Writer Mark Millar is a fairly big shot in the world of superhero comics and the Scot is best known for his work in The Authority and The Ultimates (not to mention Kick-Ass). Artist Frank Quitely has made his name working mainly with Grant Morrison on well-received titles like The New X-Men, All-Star Superman and We3. Last time these well-regarded creators worked together was on the aforementioned The Authority but this time, this creator-owned property gives them both a chance to let loose on the superhero mythos to fairly good effect.
Reminiscing. About superhero comic books from the 1980s. Those were the days! *Sigh*
THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Directed by Alan Taylor)
Funny how Thor (the mightiest Avenger) is probably the weakest and least interesting character amongst the stars of the Marvel Studio flicks. The first movie spent time introducing Thor and like most origin stories, the interest was kept at a respectfully high level most of the time with the key being the character development of Thor himself.
This is where the sequel falls flat. Once you understand that Thor is arrogant, brash and headstrong (and loves Jane Foster), there is nowhere else to go unless you spice things up and the writers of Thor: The Dark World fail to do that completely. Thor is utterly boring (despite Chris Hemsworth’s best efforts) and predictable – lacking any edge whatsoever. Thor’s flaws and weaknesses (evident in the first movie) are glossed over and somehow he becomes the least interesting character in his own movie.
Fans of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will be excited to find out that creators Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill have delivered a spin-off story not long after the end of the Century trilogy. Published jointly by Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics, this is how the publishers have summarized the plot for your easy consumption –
It’s 1925, fifteen long years since Janni Dakkar first tried to escape the legacy of her dying science-pirate father, only to accept her destiny as the new Nemo, captain of the legendary Nautilus. Now, tired of her unending spree of plunder and destruction, Janni launches a grand expedition to surpass her father’s greatest failure: the exploration of Antarctica. Hot on her frozen trail are a trio of genius inventors, hired by an influential publishing tycoon to retrieve the plundered valuables of an African queen. It’s a deadly race to the bottom of the world — an uncharted land of wonder and horror where time is broken and the mountains bring madness. Jules Verne meets H.P. Lovecraft in the unforgettable final showdown, lost in the living, beating and appallingly inhuman HEART OF ICE.
As usual, Moore strings together characters from various fictional universes (in the public domain, of course) to weave his own distintive story. This time around, we find ourselves in the pulp fiction world of the 1920s, when science-adventurers captured the imagination of its reader. Moore uses his 56-page allotment economically, setting up the conflict quickly and resolving the same with a deft touch. It’s basically one big chase scene across the frozen wastes of the South Pole before both pursued and pursuers get their minds blown by the horrors torn from the pages of Lovecraft’s In The Mountains of Madness.
These frightful conjurings are brought to life by O’Neil’s wide-eyed angular illustrations. The grizzled features of Janni’s henchmen contrasted greatly with the relative youth of the young Captain. And once the crew slips into Lovecraftian territory, O’Neil is adept at delivering horrific representations of these classic monsters as well.
Good pulp-ish fun all round in the grand LOEG tradition. Not to be missed!
Point of order. Despite the title above, this is not a year-end ‘best-of’ review of 2012. Why? It’s simply too much effort and after years and years of putting these features together, it all becomes pretty tedious and pointless. Fast. As you can guess from the featured photo above, pop culture is getting increasingly ridiculous with each passing year, so here’s my attention deficient summary of the year that we say farewell to in a matter of days…
Lunarin – The Midas Session, Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, Laneway Festival (Laura Marling, Feist and Girls), Jeff Litman – Outside, Cheating Sons – Time Trails (Live at Esplanade Recital Studio), Lambchop – Mr M, Sweet Diss and the Comebacks – Emerald City Love Song, Brad Brooks – Harmony of Passing Light, Friendly Fires (live at Avalon), The Observatory – Catacombs, Shelves – s/t, OMD (Live at Esplanade Theatre), Orbital – Wonky, James Morrison (interview), Bitch Magnet reissues, Music Matters, ShiGGa Shay – They Call Me ShiGGa, Rick Murname – Wednesday Child, Pugwash – The Olympus Sound, Keane – Strangeland, Marvel’s The Avengers, Fringe Seasons 4 & 5, Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here (DVD), The Newsroom Season 1, Hot Chip (live at Avalon), Empra – s/t, Amazing Spider-Man, SING A NEW SONG, Prometheus, Breaking Bad Season 5 (Part I), Indus Gendi – I’ll Be Good If You Say Yes EP, Stone Roses (Live at Indoor Stadium), The Dark Knight Rises, Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game, Peter Lacey – Worlds End Amateur Melodramatic Society Ball, Metric – Synthetica, Baybeats Festival, The Beach Boys (live at Indoor Stadium), Cosmo Jarvis – Think Bigger, Peter Doggett – The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s, Metric (Live at the Esplanade Concert Hall), The Pretenders (Live at F1), Joe Bonamassa (Live at Esplanade Concert Hall), alt-J (∆) – An Awesome Wave, Regina Spektor – What We Saw From the Cheap Seats!, The Whigs – Enjoy the Company, Nelson Bragg – We Get What We Want, Ingrid Michaelson (Live at the Esplanade Concert Hall), Alan Moore/Kevin O’Neill – League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009, The Sam Willows – s/t EP, Kate Miller-Heidke – Nightflight, Looper, Mumford & Sons – Babel, Simon Townshend – Looking Out, Looking In, Chromatics – Kill For Love, Thunder Band Slam, The Bootleg Beatles (Live at Marina Bay Sands), Jersey Boys Musical, Christmas in Singapore, Fred Perry 60th Anniversary Party, Classic Albums: Peter Gabriel – So (DVD), Sarah Cheng De-Winne – Brand New, Troy Chin’s Bricks in the Wall, Tay Kexin – Get Set Go EP, Uncanny Avengers, Regina Spektor (Live at Esplanade Theatre), Another Sunday Afternoon – The Bookmark, The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness reissue.
…still there’s more…
As regular PoP readers will be aware, I was less than impressed with the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine – it was simply a bad movie and totally wasted the opportunity to develop one of the most interesting Marvel characters. But of course, due to the movie’s immense success, a sequel was always going to be on the cards. According to reports, the James Mangold-helmed The Wolverine is based on the classic Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which is set in Japan. Looking at the new poster (above), it’s clear that a strong Milleresque vibe has been assimilated to appease and excite comic book fans. To be honest, I have low expectations (I still believe that Hugh Jackman is totally wrong for Wolverine but that’s another story) but it’s wait and see for the time being…
The Wolverine will be released on 24th July 2013.
DIY comic book creator Troy Chin is back with a collection of tales that he hopes will “strip away the glamor of the (music) business and expose the sad, pitiful realm where delusions , ego and greed form a potent recipe for disaster.” These humorous short stories serve both as cautionary tales and historical dissertation on the music industry from the viewpoint of insider (Troy actually worked in the music industry in the 00s), fan and critic.
(Top Shelf Press Release)
– A 56-page full-color hardcover graphic novel
– ISBN 978-1-60309-274-6, $14.95 (US)
– Co-Published by Top Shelf & Knockabout
In the grim cold of February surfaces a thrilling new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book: Nemo: Heart of Ice, a full-color 56-page adventure in the classic pulp tradition by the inestimable Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.
It’s 1925, fifteen long years since Janni Dakkar first tried to escape the legacy of her dying science-pirate father, only to accept her destiny as the new Nemo, captain of the legendary Nautilus. Now, tired of her unending spree of plunder and destruction, Janni launches a grand expedition to surpass her father’s greatest failure: the exploration of Antarctica. Hot on her frozen trail are a trio of genius inventors, hired by an influential publishing tycoon to retrieve the plundered valuables of an African queen. It’s a deadly race to the bottom of the world — an uncharted land of wonder and horror where time is broken and the mountains bring madness. Jules Verne meets H.P. Lovecraft in the unforgettable final showdown, lost in the living, beating and appallingly inhuman Heart of Ice.
Wednesday 7 November, 7:00 PM at SMU Festival Pavilion, Campus Green
FREE ENTRY and FREE GIVEWAY
Epigram Books launches its line of Singapore comix on 17th November, with a panel discussion consisting of local creators.
I was rather intrigued by the pilot of the Arrow TV series, based on DC Comic’s Green Arrow. It appears that the producers are intent on making the series as grim, gritty and realistic as possible whilst being true to the DC Universe in which Oliver Queen/Green Arrow inhabits. IGN revealed this exclusive first look at one of DC’s favorite villains- Deathstroke – and it’s encouraging to see the character’s mask accurately depicted as well. Very promising!
According to Indiewire.com, David Fincher has turned to crowdfunding to finance the adaptation of Eric Powell’s comic series, The Goon! You can find the campaign over at Kickstarter. Closer analysis will indicate that $400,000 is needed to put together a full-length story reel based on Powell’s script. But what’s in it for donors? Well, amongst other things, blog access, t-shirts, limited edition posters and original artwork AND a day at Blur Studio where’ll donors will get an all-access tour and meet the filmmakers… along with a special screening of the finished story reel! Of course, depending on how much you DO give…
Check out the campaign video below.
“2009″ is the closing chapter in the Century storyline as Mina Harker, Orlando and Allan Quartermain face off with Haddo’s Anti-Christ. That sums it up really and plot-wise “2009″ is probably the most straightforward of the trilogy of stories that make up Century. At the end of the previous chapter, “1969″ Harker had disappeared and Orlando and Quartermain had lost the will to keep the League alive and in “2009″, we basically find out what happened to the characters. There is a reunion of sorts as the League confront the Anti-Christ before there’s the deux ex machina to end them all!
It’s been four years since I’ve been to the Singapore Toys Games Comics Convention (STGCC) – although back then there were no ‘games’ in the equation – and I must say that I was impressed with the size and scope of the event. It was very crowded over the two days and the public interest overall was high. However, the main focus was on toys with Hot Toys having the biggest booth (see above) and that left me a little cold, to be honest.
Two entire days of Toys, Games and Comics goodness at STGCC 2012! Here’s what we are recommending you should check out.
This one’s for us geeks! STGCC (Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention) is back!!
More information at the Official Site.
Power of Pop will be covering both days of the convention so stay tuned!
Strictly speaking, this is not a review of Sonny Liew‘s Malinky Robot: Collected Stories & Other Bits, which I already assessed here. This time around, I am sharing with you the newly minted Limited Edition Box Set which includes the book as well as a variety of goodies.
Alright, let me get this out of the way first. This graphic novel actually consists of two distinct stories related tenuously to writer/artist Eddie Campbell’s over-arching theme of MONEY (i.e. The Lovely Horrible Stuff in question). Now, the second story concerns the island of YAP and the significance of its currency Rai to its populace. To be honest, it reads like a research paper and unless you are really interested in the subject matter, is going to bore the pants off you.
Thankfully, the first story concerning Campbell’s financial troubles with his father-in-law is probably worth the price of admission on its own. The first story recalls Campbell’s autobiographical style (remember Alec from the 80s?) and simply put, it’s an account of Campbell’s bitter experience with money and how it affects his personal life.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a GEEK OUT! but watching the new AMC reality series Comic Book Men has inspired a return of sorts to all things geek at Power of Pop. What’s Comic Book Men about? According to AMC, it’s an unscripted one hour series, which dives deep into fanboy culture by following the antics in and around master fanboy Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The series also features features Secret Stash employees Walt, manager and de-facto leader; Mike, a comic book virtuoso; Ming, the store’s technical expert and go-to whipping boy; and Bryan, who doesn’t actually work at the Stash, yet can always be found perched on a stool behind the front counter.
Having worked at a comic book store in the mid-80s (and enjoying every minute) this is like a geek fantasy/reality show and will definitely appeal to all the hardcore geeks out there. So far four episodes have aired and the latest one where Ming pitches his idea of a Zombie-themed store promotion to Walt is probably the one I’ve enjoyed the most. The show intercuts scenes from the store and the round table discussions, which includes Smith as well. Along the way, customers will be featured either buying or selling comics or toys to/from the store. An interesting segment found Walt actually paying top dollar for rare John Buscema Silver Surfer original artwork.
It’s a lot of fun with loads of laughter and even if you’re not a comic book fan, you will appreciate the banter amongst the various characters and of course, Smith is always good for a laugh or three! Only two more episodes before the first season wraps up – hopefully there will be more to come… Check out the trailer below.
I featured local cartoonist Troy Chin and his autobio comic, The Resident Tourist, in January 2010 promising at the end to find out more about Troy and his work. Naturally, nothing has happened in that regard until recently when I finally met Troy at Mulan Gallery and truth be told we hit it off immediately!
When we saw each other again at the Loti Gone Case in Wonderland panel discussion, Troy passed me everything that he has published so far – 5 volumes of The Resident Tourist and 3 volumes of Loti. Later on Troy sent me an email saying “In case you somehow feel obligated, you really don’t have to review any of my stuff. I just want you to read them so you know all the shit that I stand for.”
So here I am NOT reviewing The Resident Tourist (Parts 1 to 5)! Seriously. After all, The Resident Tourist is such an important Singaporean work that a mere review would seem disrespectful. In many ways, The Resident Tourist is an academic dissection into Singaporean attitudes, mores and culture hidden within the Trojan (sorry, could not resist) Horse of Troy’s ostensible autobio.
Hot issues such as the meaning of art, money, love and identity within the Singaporean experience are explored in such a creative manner that Singapore readers will probably not even be aware that their very existence is being questioned and challenged. Troy brilliantly utilizes his major relationships with Mint, Kampong Boy and the encounters with friends, acquaintances and enemies in Singapore and in New York to subtlety hammer home Troy’s worldview.
I don’t really want to act as a spoiler or to offer my own critique of Troy’s unique life perspective but suffice to say that if you’re visiting Power of Pop on a regular basis, it behooves you to check out The Resident Tourist (especially if you’re Singaporean). I guarantee that it will at least offer you food for thought as you struggle to make sense of your own Singapore experience.
For me personally, I am thankful to have met Troy and perhaps gotten to know him a little via The Resident Tourist but ultimately wanting to know much more… I am sure you will feel the same way.
The first thing you notice about Book 2 of Gone Case is that the HDB flat has been upgraded with a fresh coat of paint! Talk about progress. Also you will also note that the roof top access is open – a key plot point in the book. And that’s really what Gone Case is about – an attention to detail. This comes across vividly both in Chua’s story and Koh’s art.
Chua never misses a beat. Whether it is with the cleaner squeezing a dirty cloth in front of Yong, or Yong’s mother’s observation that “All the shops look the same” at the new mall or her questioning Yong about growing up to become a popiah seller, Chua sprinkles numerous little barbs about Singapore living, hidden in the plain sight of the narrative.
Koh’s artwork is clean and uncluttered yet ornate in that European-by-way-of-Darrow style that he so revels in. He captures locations and facial expressions equally well and there’s no mistaking Koh’s vision of Singapore (and its inhabitants) for some other Asian city.
Gone Case Book 2 is the concluding portion of this adaptation of Chua’s novel of the same name and by the time we arrive at the perplexing denouement, we are hungry for more stories about Yong and his delights and dilemmas. Enough connection has been made between characters and audience to suggest that a continuation of Yong’s story in the future could surely be a welcome development.
But till then, enjoy both books of Gone Case as a slice of life narrative on par with Eric Khoo’s 12 Storeys. Essential reading.