Comic Book Commentary

The Walking Dead: Show VS Comic

The Walking Dead: Show VS Comic

by J.D. Cook

I have been meaning to write an article about the Walking Dead in some form or another for ages now. I just never seemed to find the time but thankfully this week I was in need of a subject for my newest Comic Book Commentary and just finished Compendium Two of the Walking Dead at work today.

Full disclosure, I did not know the Walking Dead existed before it became a T.V. show. I may have seen some issues in various Comic Book Stores throughout my life but if I did, I never really noticed. Thankfully the show brought awareness of the brand to a huge group of people who would never have gotten to read one of the most gripping and realistic zombie’s epics penned, drawn or adapted to television. Unfortunately that’s about as much praise as the show is going to get here.

The first season of the Walking Dead was an almost direct adaptation of the comic book for the first few episodes. It diverted things to the Center for Disease Control near the end of the season but it actually only helped to enhance the story. Then came season two…and the farm…so much of that damn farm. This is where things started to go off the rails with the show. Even though the show has some brilliant episodes they seem to be coming less and less. We’re getting the same ‘zombie almost gets the protagonist but they aren’t really in any danger‘ set up every week. The comic has it’s faults but they seem to be far fewer then the show. The narrative in the comics is tight, compelling, character driven and always interesting. Why the disconnect between the comics and the show?

The comics have had Robert Kirkman as the sole writer for their entire 11 year run. Take a moment to let that sink in. That is an entire series of stories plotted out by one man over a decade. There are no other writers contaminating the product with the comic, so to say. Kirkman can have an idea while writing the comic and play it out perfectly with no one else taking his characters in other directions. Yes I’m sure the show has meetings to plan their seasons and I know Kirkman has a lot to do with them but you can tell that there are multiple writers for the show because certain episodes are so much better than other ones. There are some episodes that just meander pointlessly and do nothing! The comic has moments that are quieter than others but the narrative is never bottled for a huge chunk of time. The comic feels like it is always moving forward.

As I’ve sat there watching the show the last few weeks I’ve found myself wondering a few things. First, why don’t people just declare open season on zombies and start hunting them. Second why aren’t their more settlements in the story? The truly interesting moments of the whole saga do not pit human against zombie; they pit human against human. Then I read Compendium Two this week and what do you think I discovered? Kirkman already developed my ideas better than I had even imagined them in the comic. I don’t want to spoil anything for future readers or even watchers of the show but things just keep getting better for the series.

Hopefully the show will eventually figure out how to match the pace of the comics but that seems more unlikely with every new season. Another big advantage the comic has on the show is that the characters are much more interesting. Andrea, for instance, is probably my favorite character in the comics up to this point. In the show she was one of my least favorite. I know the show likes to change things to keep people guessing but it needs to do it in a way that still keeps the characters interesting. Again I think it really just comes back to the fact that during production of the show there are hundreds of people involved who all slightly change minor things that add up to major departures.  These departures hold the show back from being able to match the comic book.

If you agree or disagree with my opinion I’m really just happy to have some geeky shows on T.V. these days. I’m counting down the days until Game of Thrones returns!

Comic Commentary

Past Comic Book Commentaries

The First Issue of Magneto is Magnetic

The History of the Guardians of the Galaxy

Mass Effect Comics: A Rundown

Astonishing X-Men Got it Right

The Dark Knight Falls to Batman Begins

The Top 4 Comic Stores in Eastern Pa

 

 

Other Articles From Around the Web

The History of the Guardians of the Galaxy

The History of the Guardians of the Galaxy

by J.D. Cook

James Gunn Favorited our article, so you know it’s good!

Long ago back when I was still in college a good friend of mine told me that Marvel might be planning to move ahead with A Guardian’s of the Galaxy film. My reply, “Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy?” Actually I probably nodded my head and acted excited because I didn’t want to lose Geek Cred but my point is these characters are fairly obscure even by my own Geek standards. So with that in mind I’ve decided to dedicate this Comic Book Commentary to discussing the history of the team spanning back to their original incarnation.

The team began in 1969 in what was primarily a re-print issue. After this they never really became huge. They appeared mostly as guest stars in other comic books until their first solo series that ran for 62 issues in the 1990s. The original team is made up of fairly obscure characters, Martinex, Captain Charlie-27, Starhawk and Nikki are some of the least known. There are two other members of the original team. Yondu, who is actually going to appear in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film played by Michael Rooker, and Major Vance Astro who would be the first of the original Guardians of the Galaxy to meet their modern counterparts.

 In 2008 the Guardians of the Galaxy were brought back to comics by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. The team was essentially built on the backs of two fantastic story events centered in Marvel Comic’s Cosmic section. They were two massive cosmic wars the first of which centered on Annihilus, the ruler of the Negative Zone invading our universe. After this Ultron united with the techno-organic species called the Phalanx in a bid to rule the universe after it was weakened by Annihilus’s invasion. During these wars a few heroes stood out and decided to unify in a new iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy…well old considering the original Guardians of the Galaxy were from the 31st century. Star-Lord, Rocker Racoon, Gamora, Mantis and Drax were all lesser known characters who had existed in the Marvel Universe since the 1970s. Adam Warlock and Groot stretched back even further in Marvel history to 1967 and 1960 respectively. Phyla-Vell was the newest Marvel character created in 2003. This 2008 lineup will be the biggest influence on the upcoming film and it’s 25 issue run is critically lauded as a high water mark of comics writing.

The same friend of mine who told me about the potential film let me read a few of the issues and I have to confirm that it is some really fantastic stuff. All of the cosmic stuff done by Marvel in the years leading up and through the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy had this really fantastic sense of scale to it. The reader always knew that the Universe itself was on the line and it made everything seem more intense plus it made the jokes seem funnier as they contrasted with the insane situations the characters were in. The humor is definitely a big component of the team and the upcoming movie seems to have that in it but I’m hoping for a bit of that grand scale as well. Only viewing the movie will tell me if James Gunn completely nailed the characters but judging from the trailer embedded below it’s definitely on the right track. Oh and hey if the movie does well perhaps Ultron will be popping up in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 since there is a precedent for it happening in the comics already and he is set to star in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Comic Commentary

Past Comic Book Commentaries

Mass Effect Comics: A Rundown

Astonishing X-Men Got it Right

The Dark Knight Falls to Batman Begins

The Top 4 Comic Stores in Eastern Pa

Avengers: Age of Ultron Preview

Happy ‘Comic Book’ Holidays

Eon Viant

 

Legends of Batman Collectors Editions

Legends of Batman Collectors Editions

J.D. Cook

Ok so for the second week in a row I won’t be directly discussing the comic book industry. I’d like to but I’ve been so busy and sick I haven’t had time to get new comics in a few weeks. Rest assured I will be catching up when I visit family who live near Brave New World Comics in Philadelphia. That said I’ve decided to do another review to fill out this week’s Comic Book Commentary and what’s a better subject than the Batman: Arkham Origins Collectors Edition material?

I was a huge fan of both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City so I managed to convince myself to purchase the Collector’s Edition of Origins. I usually don’t spring for such things but I can tell you from the experience it was extremely worth it. The Joker stature is amazing and lights up Arkham Origins Collectors Edition with LCD screens. Not to mention the secret hidden inside it which I found almost as soon as I opened it. I guess that means I’m not a bad detective myself! Eat your heart out Batman! Every piece of the collection is well put together. My favorites were Black Mask’s dossier on the Assassins and the Art Book. I love things that tie the fictional universe into ours and nothing does that better than the two pieces of evidence. Really everything was awesome and I have no complaints. I even have my new Batman figure watching over the Joker statue ready to take him out. The real icing on the cake is a documentary called Necessary Evil focusing on the villains of the D.C.Universe. It’s awesome so far and Christopher Lee does the narration for it!

Oh yeah and there was also the game itself with all of this! Well I pretty much loved everything about it. There was a lot that could have went wrong when a new studio took over the Arkham Franchise but Warner Brothers Montreal did a good job. The plot was especially well done and probably my favorite part of the game. There is an obvious twist that happens very early that completely throws you off because you expect it to be at the climax of the game. Troy Baker fills in so well for Mark Hamill as the Joker that you could swear he was actually speaking in certain spots. The game play feels about the same as Arkham City which is great and the addition of the electric gauntlets makes free flow fighting much easier to handle.

The writers said they were inspired by a few different sources for the game’s story, the two biggest being Batman: Year One and the ongoing comic series Legends of the Dark Knight. Sadly Legends of the Dark Knight was recently canceled in print form after something like twenty years. I was interested from playing the game so I went and picked up a couple of issues. I just happened to grab one all about Cyrus Pinkney, who plays into the plot of Arkham Origins. The other story arc involved some circus freaks and Two-Face. It was odd but that is what was cool about Legends of the Dark Knight. It told standalone stories about Batman that didn’t have to be tied to D.C.’s continuity. I hope I can one day publish a Batman story in the online only form of Legends of the Dark Knight. Now I’ve officially tied comic books into this comic book commentary!

I will be doing a more in depth review of just the game itself soon but for now I will leave you with those few words. Always leave them hanging? That’s what the Joker always says…but his definition of hanging is a little more twisted than mine.

Past Comic Book Commentaries
Laying the Hammer Down on ‘Thor’s Day’
Boycott X-Men: Days of Future Past
Uncanny Venom, Hilarious Captain America
Batman Still the Crown Jewel of the New 52
The Superior Spider-Man
The 1st Comic Book Commentary

Laying the Hammer Down on ‘Thor’s Day’

Laying the Hammer Down on ‘Thor’s Day’

by J.D. Cook

I was not really hyped up for Thor: The Dark World. I mean I certainly wasn’t going to miss it but much like the first Thor I didn’t quite know what to expect. The previews were pretty lite on the details side. They essentially just told us Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) would team up. I certainly wasn’t expecting the emotional depth of feeling that occurred early in the film or the amazing cameo midway through and I certainly did not see the ending coming. If you haven’t seen the film yet and do not want the plot spoiled I will simply say it was well worth the price of admission and extremely funny.

Still here? Ok let’s jump into the minute details other sites won’t touch! The first Thor is probably my favorite Marvel movie behind the Avengers which is, of course, in some other league of films. I mean I love Iron Man and have always been a bigger fan of his going back to reading Warren Ellis’s run on Extremis but something about the first Thor just worked so brilliantly. I think it was the heart that Kenneth Branagh injected into what could have easily devolved into a special effects extravaganza. Instead it stayed grounded. When Odin (Anthony Hopkins) takes away Thor’s power and casts him out you really feel for both of them. When Loki discovers his origins you can’t help but understand his anger and when he finally fades into a black hole you completely understand Thor’s feeling of loss. Thor: The Dark World didn’t quite live up to the first’s level.

The dialogue just didn’t sound as great as the firsts or the Avengers. Except for the moment Loki transformed into Captain America of course. That was amazing! The action seemed a bit wonky at times and hard to follow. I mean I couldn’t quite tell what happened in the climactic moment where Thor defeats Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Did he simply stab him? Did he hammer him? Did he stab and then hammer him? Well all of those sounded bad but if you saw the movie you get what I’m saying. That scene would have been a great moment for some slow motion to fully feel the impact of Thor’s final blow. That said I definitely felt the emotion in the film when Thor and Loki’s mother died. That Asgardian funeral was fantastic but it sadly tied the Asgardians of the Marvel Cinematic Universe down to mortality. I would have loved some kind of circular cycle like in the comics and Norse mythology. Ok the ending. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t see it coming.  I loved everything about it and I really can’t wait to find out if Odin has been killed or imprisoned by Loki.

That leads me into the theories section. Did Loki order Lady Sif and Volstagg to deliver the Infinity Gem to the Collector or did they do it to hide it? If they did it to hide it shouldn’t they be running to tell Thor what Loki’s done? Hopefully their motivation is touched upon in the Beta Ray Bill Guardians of the Galaxy, or Thor 3. Speaking of, why did they put the scene where Thor returns to Earth after the credits? I mean people are going to need to know that so they understand that A. he is not in Asgard totally ignorant to the fact that Loki is ruling it and B. know why he is on Earth during the Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Collector scene was the true after credits scene for the film anyway. I Didn’t understand why they put them in the order they did. Ok I know I picked at the film a bit but I really did enjoy just about everything about it. The plot was perfect in my book, even if it didn’t fully delve into the nine realms as much as I wanted. It established a credible threat that only Thor had the means to take on and made Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) a really appealing and interesting female lead for the second time. Oh and let’s not forget the naked antics of Stellen Skarsgard! Lastly both Hemsworth and Hiddleston were amazing. Their chemistry is great and I can’t wait for it to come to a head in the next film. Then we get the Ballad of Beta Ray Bill in Thor 4 right?

Past Comic Book Commentaries
Boycott X-Men: Days of Future Past
Uncanny Venom, Hilarious Captain America
Batman Still the Crown Jewel of the New 52
The Superior Spider-Man
The 1st Comic Book Commentary
Defending Remender and Attacking Racism

Boycott X-Men: Days of Future Past

Boycott X-Men: Days of Future Past

by J.D. Cook

When news broke that Bryan Singer was returning to the super hero franchise that started it all for Marvel I was ecstatic. When news then followed that it would be adapting one of the most beloved stories of the X-Men’s storied history I was even more excited! That said there was a little part of me that remembered the horrors of X-Men 3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine oh and X-Men: First Class which had great moments spread amongst terribly stupid moments. That said the news just got better as I saw what Sentinels would look like in the film, AWESOME. Also Bolivar Trask is being played by Peter Dinklage which makes a lot of sense in a ton of ways. Unfortunately the good news didn’t last. It seemed like right after the awesome film, The Wolverine, the bad news started to roll in.

In the comics version of Days of Future Past Kitty Pryde sends her consciousness back in time via the help of psychic Rachael Summers. It makes sense in a few ways. Pryde’s power is phasing through objects combined with the power of a psychic who’s to say she couldn’t phase through time. In the film version Wolverine’s consciousness will be sent back in time…now that points to just about everything wrong with the X-Men film franchise. X2 was not a bad film but it marginalized the X-Men to supporting characters in Wolverine’s movie. X-Men 3: The Last Stand and every movie since with the exception of First Class has done the exact same thing. Secondly Singer stated that his new film would be tied to the continuity of the horrid X-Men 3: The Last Stand thus keeping Cyclops and Jean Grey dead. Despite the fact that Xavier is alive and well as Patrick Stewart after he was demolecularized by the Dark Phoenix which is explained by him transferring his consciousness into a new body which I guess somehow completely resembles…his old body? Yeahhh

Now overlooking the fact that Cyclops is arguably the most important X-Man since their debut in comic books and completely…I’ll say it…fucked up in the movies there is more bad news. The one highlight of First Class for me was seeing Magneto in an almost perfect costume near the end Magnetoof the film (pictured to the right). One of the first pictures released for this new film…Magneto in a completely different and stupid looking costume (pictured above). He basically looks like he is wearing a purple jump suit with battle armor and a helmet that looks more like Singer era than First Class. In the dark future where Sentinels rule the world the X-Men’s costumes? Black armor? Yeahhh Singer really doesn’t get that the X-Men’s colors are primarily BLUE and YELLOW! It’s frustrating being a fan of the X-Men. I keep rooting for good news on the movie front but it just seems to get worse. The new preview is just the icing on this terrible cake. It was horribly paced and if you weren’t a big fan of these characters or comics you’d probably have little to no clue as to what was going on. Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s trailer on the other hand…was amazing.

So with that in mind and too many painful hurts in my X-Men movie past I’m deciding right now to BOYCOTT Days of Future Past because the producers, writers and basically everyone over at 20th Century Fox do not have the slightest clue on how to develop or portray these characters. They should do the right thing and just turn them over to Marvel so we can get the X-Men film we deserve as fans. Not saying fans have more rights than creators…but wait we sort of do when we are dealing with comic characters or I should say creators have a responsibility to understand the characters they are working with. I mean how can so many generations of comic creators add to a huge mythology of X-Men stories without ruining them while these films can’t even adapt those stories correctly?

Ok rant over! See ya next Thors Day!

Past Comic Book Commentaries
Uncanny Venom, Hilarious Captain America
Batman Still the Crown Jewel of the New 52
The Superior Spider-Man
The 1st Comic Book Commentary
Defending Remender and Attacking Racism

Uncanny Venom, Hilarious Captain America

Uncanny Venom, Hilarious Captain America

by J.D. Cook

Holy Cow Captain America Rocks!

Think I’m talking about the recently released trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier?! Well you are only partially right! I’m also talking about a fantastic issue of the Uncanny Avengers that I picked up last night. In it Captain America is basically comic relief but holy cow did it work for the typically no nonsense stalwart defender of freedom! In it he is deafened by none other than a reanimated Banshee, formerly of the X-Men. So as you can imagine he can’t understand the pitch of his voice and yells a lot of things he means to say quietly. The best moment comes when he means to whisper to Havok that the Wasp has a crush on him but instead yells, “I think she likes you”, embarrassing everyone in ear shot. Not only that but the issue really seemed to flow and usher the plot forward after a couple of slower paced issues. I mean Uncanny Avengers is too good to be only a monthly title! I need more!!!

I was initially dismayed that Casaday left the book so quick but I think his covers are so awesome I’ve now come to peace with it. Not to mention that Daniel Acuna is doing a rock steady job from issue to issue. Unfortunately the sudden arrival of ‘the Sentry of Death’ may herald an end to one member of the team. There are a lot of different plots running in the book right now but it’s awesome to see them finally coming together as the Uncanny Avengers move closer to reuniting and confronting the Apocalypse Twins and hopefully Kang as well. Lastly I like how much Wolverine is getting broken down in the issues because he was a character that really stagnated in recent years. I mean he basically traded places with Cyclops which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Remender writes him as a man with a haunted past that has finally caught up to him giving him some much needed emotional motivation. Kudos!

Ok enough about that fantastic book and onto a more somber note. Venom: Volume 2 has ended at issue 42. I already mourned it with a 7 Part Countdown about the top story arcs; Although now I feel like I need to revise it and add the latest one in there somewhere. Cullen Bunn knocks Venom Issue 42Flash Thompson’s last solo issue out of the park bringing him full circle by pairing him with a young side kick named Mania, who he accidentally created recently. One of the biggest issues Flash has always had was coping with his alcoholic abusive father’s influence in his life. He dreaded turning into the man. Only by gaining a surrogate daughter is Flash finally able to come to peace with the fact that he is not and never will be his father. He is altogether a better man. Unfortunately I fear his end may be nigh as Dan Slott isn’t known for giving characters happy endings and Flash finds his way over into the Superior Spider-Man next month. Dun Dun Dun!!! Mania herself is set up nicely for a future story arc. She has the brand of the Devil on her soul making her one of a few people eligible to become Mephisto’s heir. She’s got to figure out how to resolve that somewhere so I’m thinking Flash should drop Mania off with his gal pal Valkyrie before taking a trip back to NY to catch up with some old friends. Who better to help her confront the devil then the Fearless Defenders after all…oh wait just heard that was cancelled too…and no a monumental NOOOOOOOOOO before continuing in solemn dismay of the world.

Ok last paragraph! Thanks for reading this far! The new Captain America trailer was EPIC! It gave me everything I could possibly want. Yes the plot seems a bit obvious. “Cap naively fights for Shield until his eyes are open to their horrible methods causing him to go rogue with Falcon and possibly Black Widow“. That said I just can’t wait to enjoy what will probably be one of the best movie rides of 2014. My only real hope is that by the end of the movie Captain America is back in the stars and stripes outfit. I mean they showed him in it during the trailer but those could be flashbacks. Then again those soldiers he fought seemed to have pretty modern guns. Oh man, Winter Soldier looks perfect and I can’t say enough about Robert Redford! I mean I was named after a character he played! (Jeremiah Johnson  from..Jeremiah Johnson if you are interested in knowing.

Ok that’s my 3rd Comic Book Commentary! Check back next ‘Thor’s Day!’

Past Comic Book Commentaries
Batman Still the Crown Jewel of the New 52
The Superior Spider-Man
The 1st Comic Book Commentary
Defending Remender and Attacking Racism

Batman Still the Crown Jewel of the New 52

Batman Still the Crown Jewel of the New 52

by J.D. Cook

Since no comics I really read came out this week I thought I’d return to last week’s awesome titles for this week’s Comic Book Commentary!

When DC started the New 52 I have to be honest I was a fan. I thought the positives far outweighed the negatives and I still like a lot of what I’ve seen. Unfortunately Villain’s Month was the first glaring negative that stood out to me. Essentially because DC started an entirely new DC Villainscontinuity they needed to introduce all of their villains for the first time. So they came up with this villains month idea, where for a whole month DC published their villain’s origin stories in all of their regular books. They even did a cool 3D cover for some of them although not all of them due to some mix up with demand. Anyway the problem here is that while I love villain origins I’d much rather simply pick up another issues of the one book I love in the New 52; Scott Snyder’s Batman. I also don’t have the money to spring for all of my favorite villain’s comics. I mean I barely have enough to follow the small amount of titles I am now. The worst part was that Snyder’s Batman had an issue release in early August so it felt like a million years between issues and what did I do with all that time I wasn’t reading Batman? Well I went over to Marvel and caught up on Infinity, which is just as good as the hype suggests. So the next time DC decides to do a month long event they should really re-consider for the sake of their wallet.

That said the wait on Scott Snyder’s Batman was COMPLETELY WORTH IT! I mean WOW I don’t know if I’ve read a single issue as good as Batman # 24! Capullo’s recreation of Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics is spot on and the way the early costume looks retro Batmanand cutting edge at the same time is really cool. Yes the Red Hood Batman story has been done before but I don’t know if I’ve ever read it with such heart. The idea that the Red Hood Gang can literally be anyone is wild and the moment Batman fails to save Red Hood #1 is completely gripping. Not only that but I love the fact that Snyder never confirmed that Red Hood #1 became the Joker but also left the clues big enough that you could easily connect the dots if you wanted to. The mystery of the Joker is one of the most important aspects of the character and Snyder is wise to keep it there. Oh an on the emotional side of things I really connected with the dynamic Bruce and his Uncle had. I wouldn’t even say his Uncle was ever really a bad guy just rather misguided and that’s what made his end so perfect in the story. Lastly I love that Snyder’s Bruce Wayne isn’t just a brooding Batman all the time. He actually accomplishes things as Bruce! Snyder really gets the character. They should let him write Batman in Batman vs Superman! Eh? Eh? Also I felt like Rafael Albuquerque drew Bruce Wayne to actually look like Scott Snyder a bit. Maybe I was seeing things but it really looked like him to me.

Alright on the other side of the aisle I picked up three Marvel books; Infinity # 4, Captain America # 12 and Thor #14. I liked some of the seeds being planted in Captain America but the last two issues feel a bit slim on plot because they are so focused on Rogers’ mental state. It’s not a bad thing to focus in on that but I wouldn’t mind a bit more indicators on where the plot is going. That said who doesn’t like surprises!? Over in Thor Jason Aaron is writing one of the coolest books on the market. His approach is almost completely lifted from good old fantasy fiction and I love how vibrant the art is throughout. The current arc is basically re-introducing Malekith to Marvel audiences and that is smart of Marvel but sometimes it feels too much, like I’m getting hit on the head with a character. Thankfully Aaron knows just how to balance Marvel’s corporate demands with an awesome plot and it all works flawlessly. Finally Infinity #3 had one of the best single word endings ever “NOOOO” and the follow up battle between Black Bolt and Thanos rocked but the issues seemed to take the petal off the gas just a tiny bit even though so much happened. I guess that just means Infinity has been so great that a good issue feels like a letdown. It was pretty amusing that Hickman borrowed Loki’s Avengers quote on ‘is this not simpler’ in reference to bowing. Of course Thor had other ideas about that. Can’t wait to read the next issue!

Until Next ‘Thor’s Day!’

Past Comic Book Commentaries
The Superior Spider-Man
The 1st Comic Book Commentary
Defending Remender and Attacking Racism