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Apr 282015
 

Avengers01

Let’s get real, shall we?

When it comes to stories presented in words and visuals, the visual aspect will always trump the word aspect. That is why movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction and Furious 7 are able to do well at the box office despite not having very good stories. This also applies in comic books, which is – like film – a graphic medium and very much dependent on the visual quality for its appeal and success.

Avengers006

Of course, I am not saying that the writing does not matter in comic books but even the best work of my favourite comic book writer Alan Moore, was enhanced by the sterling work of his collaborators viz. Steve Bissette (Swamp Thing), John Totleben (Swamp Thing, Miracleman), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) etc etc. Which made Moore’s Supreme much less than expectations due to the artwork of Rob Liefeld!

avengers_4

Which is why ultimately I believe that Jack Kirby deserves more credit for the success of the Marvel Universe than Stan Lee. Moreover, Kirby had significant input in many of the classic Marvel Universe issues as plotter! It’s impossible to imagine a single modern-day Marvel film without the contribution of Jack Kirby and yet, only with Avengers: Age of Ultron, was Kirby credited as a co-creator, alongside Stan Lee. This was, of course, due to a recent settlement between Marvel and Kirby’s estate.

Avengers002

However, to the layman movie goer and naive self-professed fan of the Marvel films, Stan Lee will always be thought of as the creator of the Marvel Universe, with each succeeding annoying cameo being shoved down everybody’s throat. But whilst Lee’s hokey self-aggrandisement continues to reveal the huckster that he has always been, the Kirby legacy can be seen by all – unwittingly – in every costume design and most importantly, every powerful fight scene!

Long live the King!

STAN LEE GRAPHIC MEMOIR | Robot 6 @ Comic Book ResourcesRobot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

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Apr 242015
 

Stan Lee is collaborating with writer Peter David and artist Colleen Doran to create his graphic memoir, billed as ” the story of how modern comics came to be.” Revealed last week by Doran, Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir will be published in October as a hardcover graphic novel by Simon & Schuster.

Look at the characters in the background, do you know who co-created them with Stan Lee? Would this graphic memoir make any mention of the manner in which Stan Lee has taken almost all the credit all these years and left nothing for Jack Kirby? I sincerely hope that this memoir will go some way to repairing the damage Lee has done to Kirby’s legacy.

Source: Stan Lee teams with Peter David, Colleen Doran for graphic memoir – Robot 6 @ Comic Book ResourcesRobot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

GEEK OUT! MULTIVERSITY: GUIDEBOOK – THE ULTIMATE DEFENCE OF ENDLESS REBOOTS

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Feb 212015
 

MultiversityGuideBook

When DC first collapsed the multiverse into one universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, I was rather upset to lose the alternative earths that gave DC its unique flavour. Most of all, of course, I hated what it meant for the Legion of Super-heroes. But that’s another story, altogether. Well, a couple of years ago, DC went the opposite direction and brought the multiverse back – 52 universes to be exact (I rather enjoyed the process though – the Flashpoint event). In the Multiversity series, writer Grant Morrison has begun to develop this concept and take it to its logical conclusion, exploring the diverse universes that the New 52 had introduced into the continuity.

Thus far, the most interesting issue was undoubtedly the one with “Pax Americana” (featuring the ex-Charlton characters) drawn by Frank Quitely and coming across like a Watchmen homage of sorts. The latest issue – subtitled as “Guidebook” brings the concept home with Morrison detailing the 52 universes that exist (with a few mysterious exceptions) within the greater DC continuity now. Potentially, this provides creators with lots of room to work with, without having to be limited to the continuity of Earth-0 (see below).

Earth-0

 

After all, there are 51 other universes to be explored! Seems like DC is the place to be to at least see whether they can make this ambitious concept work. Time to investigate them universes more closely!

GEEK OUT! ELRIC FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

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Jan 082015
 

Elric-Ruby-Throne

Written by Julien Blondel. 
Art & Colors by Didier Poli, Robin Recht & Jean Bastide.

“… the story you begin reading here is the saga of the Albino I would have written myself if I had thought of it first.”

In his introduction to this latest graphic novel adaptation of the Elric novels, Michael Moorcock, the original writer himself was obviously impressed enough to pen the above words. It’s easy to be cynical and slightly incredulous initially. Having read the book itself and previous comic book adaptations already, what new perspective could Blondel provide?

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GEEK OUT! ALL-NEW MIRACLEMAN ANNUAL 2014 IS AN UTTER WASTE OF TIME

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Jan 022015
 

MM2014

“The Priest & the Dragon: The October Incident: 1966 ” by Grant Morrison & Joe Quesada. | “The Miracleman Family: Seriously Miraculous” by Peter Milligan & Mike Allred. 

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Alan Moore’s re-invention of the superhero genre with Marvelman/Miracleman was for me, akin to the Sex Pistols/Punk’s impact on rock music. This legacy is self-evident from reading the Marvel reprints of the Miracleman collected editions, which has thankfully brought the iconoclastic material to a new audience. Read some background here.

So what does Marvel do, to cash in? This highly dubious Annual – which features a Grant Morrison Kid Miracleman tale originally rejected by Moore (justifiably as it turns out!) for publication in Warrior magazine back in the day and a pointless Miracleman Family adventure done in retro style.

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GEEK OUT! – O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING? THE DEATH OF WOLVERINE

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Oct 182014
 

Death_of_Wolverine

In bygone days, it was common for superheroes to be placed in life threatening situations with readers being confident that the hero would somehow escape the clutches of death. But that concept was first challenged in X-Men #137 (1980) when Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl/Phoenix) took her own life in order to protect the universe from the Phoenix force that possessed her. In an unforgettable sequence, Jean Grey paid the ultimate price in order to save the universe.

Death Of Pheonix

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CHARLES BURNS: SUGAR SKULL BOOK SIGNING AT FANTAGRAPHICS

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Sep 182014
 

Sugar Skull

If you watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you would have noted the use of the graphic novel Black Hole as a plot point, which is of course such a cool geek thing! Creator/artist Charles Burns will actually be in Seattle this Friday to sign copies of his latest book – Sugar Skull – which is the perfect opportunity for this lapsed comic book (and Black Hole) fan to get re-acquainted with the man’s work and to erm meet the man himself. Stay tuned for the obligatory photographs!

… still there’s more …

GEEK OUT!

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Sep 092014
 

MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN:

WHAT GOES AROUND…

The Generation Gap! The stuff of endless arguments about who’s music was better etc etc etc. What about comic books? I personally believe that after the Marvel Age of the 60s with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, the finest era of comic books is the Eighties, when writer Alan Moore was changing the industry.

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GEEK OUT!

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Sep 092014
 

Superboy_Vol_1_89 Mon-El

MON-EL

He was introduced to comic books in 1961 in Superboy #81 as “Superboy’s Big Brother”! Visually, his costume was the reverse of Superboy and since he possessed the same powers as Superboy, he was thought to be from Krypton as well. Therefore, the name, “Mon-El” – he arrived on Earth on a Monday and El is Superboy’s family name! At the end of the story, Superboy indadvertedly poisons Mon-El with lead but ‘saves’ him by sending him into the Phantom Zone (where Krypton imprisoned their worst criminals) where he remained till freed by the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century.

mon-el

Mon-El would join the LSH and become a key member, marrying Shadow Lass in the process. He was my favourite Legionnaire and he always seemed to me, a better character than Superman. But sadly, due to DC’s decision to start fucking around with their continuity (which is still going on to this day) in the mid-80s with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mon-El’s character (and the LSH overall, to be fair) was altered irreversibly and his origins were ret-conned (damn I hate that word) and he was renamed “Valor” (fucking awful!) and then later “M’onel” (even worse!).

The character has been ret-conned so many times now – he even became a Green Lantern at one point in time (!) – and this is one of the many reasons why I have stopped reading superhero comic books. That said, I will always remember the Mon-El I once loved – and that is something Detective Comics Comics cannot take away!!

 

 

GEEK OUT!

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Sep 062014
 

[Spoilers]

Marvel’s Original Sin mini-series wrapped up with issue #8 and raised even more questions than providing definite answers to the questions raised earlier in the series. But then, that’s typical super-hero comic book fare, isn’t it? At its core was the mystery of the Watcher’s murder, which as it turns out was brought about by Midas and Nick Fury but not in the way first suspected. The hook of the series was the discovery of hidden secrets that once revealed would have a massive impact on the Marvel Universe (where have we heard this spiel before, erm?) and to a certain extent we did. Fury – now an old man, like Captain America – acted like the Men in Black, taking care of external threats to the Earth in clandestine manner and had to take appropriate action to keep the truth from coming out. At the very end, Fury is seemingly dead (or is he?) and Bucky Barnes takes over Fury’s mantle. Presumably, this will allow Fury’s son – an African-American – to be the de facto Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe? Yup, that’s about the sum of those 8 issues. And Deodato’s art design was cool. NEXT!

GEEK OUT!

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Sep 032014
 

Dame

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller. Starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levett, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis and Eva Green.

I loved Sin City. Frank Miller‘s ground-breaking comic book series, that is. Miller stripped down film noir to its bare essentials and presented them in cutting edge fashion, winning several Eisner & Harvey Awards in the 90s as due recognition.

However, when adapted to film, the very noir elements that made the comic book innovative in the 90s look positively banal and farcical now. Granted, this approach seemed fresh (to the average film goer) in 2005 when the first Sin City movie was released but it has certainly worn out its welcome.

The voice-over narration (a staple of film noir, of course) comes off the worst in this sequel when the characters give flowery descriptions of people, objects and events we can see clearly, without the need for embellishment. All irony and contrast is totally lost in this context.

Everybody seems to be over-acting and this becomes unintentionally comical after a while – any scene with Jessica Alba comes across as ridiculous – even while she is cutting up her face! Eva Green titular (emphasis added) characterization is a failure – though she is definitely nude most of the time, her ‘wicked’ demeanor makes her deception of the men around her utterly implausible.

Overall, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a disaster – you might enjoy the movie for its visual style, the unintentional laughs and maybe its star power but that only lasts a very short time before you start hoping for the film to end.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is in the cinemas now with a R21 rating.

GEEK OUT!

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Feb 242014
 

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.

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GEEK OUT!

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Feb 152014
 

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.

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GEEK OUT!

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Jan 022014
 

JUPITER’S LEGACY

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.

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GEEK OUT!

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Jan 012014
 

Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Reminiscing. About superhero comic books from the 1980s. Those were the days! *Sigh*

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GEEK OUT!

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Oct 312013
 

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.

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NEMO: HEART OF ICE [REVIEW]

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Mar 142013
 

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!

Top Shelf | Knockabout

 

 

2012 – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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Dec 292012
 

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.

*whew*

…still there’s more…

 

 

GEEK OUT! THE WOLVERINE [POSTER]

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Dec 142012
 

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.

Official Site

TROY CHIN: BRICKS IN THE WALL [REVIEW]

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Dec 132012
 

BricksInTheWall-SM

 

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.

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LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: NEMO – HEART OF ICE [NEWS]

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Dec 012012
 

NEMO: HEART OF ICE by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill

(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.

Official Site

GEEK OUT! ARROW: FIRST LOOK AT DEATHSTROKE [NEWS]

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Oct 152012
 

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!