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Hey there! Since I don’t update my blog anymore, you may like to find me on Instagram! I’m kris.bather and also fictionalsquid where I post my thoughts on general pop culture goodness including comics, films, novels and action figures.

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Thoughts On Justice League

JL Film PosterIt’s been years since I’ve written a review of anything, but after seeing Justice League on opening day, I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my mind.

First up, I’m a big Justice League fan. I’ve always been a DC Comics diehard and have been devouring comics since before puberty, so I have thirty years of minutiae stored up in my brain to “impress” my friends and answer the occasional quiz question. When DC rebooted their entire line with the New 52 initiative, I pretty quickly stopped feasting on superhero comics, but I do enjoy the occasional nibble.

In short, I was disappointed with the JL film. Yes, there were some good things about it, and there was some serious behind the scenes issues that led the film to not being all it should’ve been, but with that in mind, here are a few bullet points.

I like Ben Affleck. He’s a great actor and director, and is actually a pretty good choice to play an older Batman. However, just because he has pointy ears and a gruff voice doesn’t make him the Dark Knight. When asked what his superpowers are, Batman answers, “I’m rich.” That’s not something Batman would say. That’s a Tony Stark line. It doesn’t belong here. With the Flash and Cyborg, the film has enough humour. Don’t drag Batman in to it too. Let him be Batman. Not everyone needs to be witty.

The first scene is all about how Superman inspires people, and how his death at the hands of Doomsday at Batman v Superman has united the world in a sense of loss. In the two Superman films we’ve seen starring Henry Cavill prior to this, there’s nothing inspiring about him. He doesn’t inspire. He terrifies! He’s not warm, and smiling. Thor has taken the role that Superman should have. If you ask anyone (kids or adults), who’d they’d love to hang out with, I’d imagine most would easily choose the happy god of thunder over the glowering, morose Man of Steel. This is a Superman who allowed his earthly Dad to die, caused massive property damage and killed Zod infront of a traumatised family, when he had so many other options available. (Fly him up to space! spin him round so he loses consciousness! even break his limbs! anything but neck snapping!). The Superman who has existed for almost a century in pop culture, and who will outlast all film makers, is someone who cherishes life and only takes it as an absolute last resort. The last time Superman was properly portrayed was in the 1980s with the maginificent Christopher Reeve. Who else could say, “I like pink very much Lois,” with a straight face, let alone with gravitas and sincerity? The world would not mourn the death of this version of Superman. They barely knew him, let alone embraced him.

There was a cleaner who showed up briefly at STAR Labs. They could’ve made him Rudy Jones, who becomes the Parasite, and as Kevin Smith pointed out – even the thief at the start of the film could’ve been a DC character, rather than a generic bad guy. Again, the terrorists who Wonder Woman stops could’ve been anyone from DC’s rich history, like Cheetah, or the Royal Flush Gang, or even someone linked to Steppenwolf, to give the villain  much needed dramatic weight. Speaking of which…

Steppenwolf had no visible motivation. A scene where he’s speaking to a hidden Darkseid would’ve helped tremendously. Perhaps he could be sent off to earth amidst cheering crowds from Apokolips, or he’s failed to conquer other planets before and this is his last attempt before Darkseid executes him in dishonour, and he thinks earth will be an uneasy target. As it is, Steppenwolf just shows up to cause havoc and..be bad.

There was no need for the jokes at Aquaman and the approach they took to make him the tough guy was desperate. I can imagine the writers thinking, “Quick! Let’s make fun of Aquaman before the audience does, and then we’ll show how grumpy and angry he really is. That’ll shut them up!” Aquaman is a great character, as Peter David has shown with his tremendous run on the comics. When your film stars apologizing for a great character, it’s not off to a good start. The acting here is great though, and Jason Momoa, like his castmates does a great job with these versions of the characters.

The Russian family at the final battle was odd. Perhaps it was meant to be a microcosm of the potentail destruction the rest of the world would face, like the family at the end of Batman v Superman was.

Okay, now the good points….

It was pretty awesome to see Superman unleashed and take on the whole League single-handedly. Oh yeah.

The humour generally works, with the scene with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s lasso a nice touch.

The Mother Box battle/Amazonian escape was thrilling.

Both end credits scenes are great, and even the actual credits thanked comics creators such as Jack Kirby, and I noticed Detective Crispus Allen, who eventually becomes The Spectre, listed as a character. Nice.

DC’s animated films have a much better track record of their live action output, barring the last two (The Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn) and I’m excited to see the two Death and Return of Superman animated films that kick off next year.

Geoff Johns is a legend and super talented writer, so his continued involvement in any live action DC films is a huge step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic about what DC has planned next, and the Wonder Woman film showed that they can get it right. Come on DC. You can do it!

Overrun

Writer Andi Ewington (the excellent 45 OGN from publisher Com.x a few years ago) has been busy lately, creating new series such as Six, and Sunflower. He’s also added the high concept series Overrun, to his impressive resume (along with writer Matt Woodley),all 4 issues of which are available now on various digital platforms such as iBooks and Kindle.

It’s a gorgeous looking book with a wonderful premise, described below.

The city is at a breaking point. Living space is running out. Those in power are forced to execute a desperate measure – introduce a poison to wipe out a huge part of the population.

This is no ordinary city, however. Overrun takes the reader into the heart of their own computer. Citizens are files. There are .xls business people, sexy spams and hip musician .mp4s. The space which is running out is memory – the poison a computer virus.

Political intrigue and epic action scenes take place inside this lovingly crafted world as we follow a group of friends, forgotten computer game heroes, as they fight their way through the virus infection which is transforming their fellow citizens into memory sucking zombies.

Popular web site Bleeding Cool describes it as, “Tron meets Dawn of the Dead,” which is as tantalising as it sounds. Beyond those striking covers, the interior art is supplied by Paul Green, known for his work on Flash Gordon from Ardden Entertainment. Green, with great effects and lettering by Troy Peteri and Joshua Cozine, makes the pages pop, as you can see from a few random pages below.

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For more info, check out the Overrun site.

 

 

Snowpiercer 3 Out In Feb

I love discovering a unique sci-fi gem, and have recommended last year’s film Snowpiercer to many people. Starring Chris Evans (Captain America) and John Hurt, and the ever enchanting Tilda Swinton it’s a dark, surprising and thoughtful movie, with lots of action and drama sprinkled throughout the high concept. Directed by Korean Bong Joon-ho (The Host-the Korean monster film, not the American alien invasion one), it’s definitely worth a watch. Now the comic that inspired it has a third entry, and is set to be released in February 2016.

Titan Comics To Publish Third Instalment in the New York Times Best-Selling Snowpiercer Series

 

THE RUNAWAY HIT IS BACK!

THE ALL-NEW INSTALMENT OF THE ACTION-PACKED SERIES THAT INSPIRED THE HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER

Titan Comics is thrilled to announce the publication of Snowpiercer 3: Terminus, the gripping third installment in the New York Times best-selling Snowpiercer series from award-winning writer Olivier Bocquet and the artist Jean-Marc Rochette.

Fans eager to immerse themselves further in the critically acclaimed series after the release of the movie adaptation of Snowpiercer 1: The Escape, starring Captain America’s Chris Evans, will embrace a return to the frozen, dystopian Earth.

The Icebreaker has finally stopped its endless loop around the world. The last known survivors of the human race are driven by the need to know; Could it be that they aren’t really alone in the world? Is there finally hope?

Snowpiercer 3: Terminus will be on sale in stores from February 17.

To keep up-to-date with news on the Snowpiercer graphic novels, join Titan Comics on Facebook or follow@ComicsTitan on Twitter. For more information about Titan Comics, visit Titan-Comics.com

Snowpiercer 3

Mice Templar Finale

After almost a decade, Image Comics’ Mice Templar is coming to a close. Volume 5, issue #5 is the final issue of this great fantasy epic from writer Bryan J.L Glass, and artists such as Mike Avon Oeming, Victor Santos and many others. It’s certainly been an impressive feat and the creative team have truly birthed a rich mythology. It’s never too late to catch up, or course, and there’s handy guide to all things MT right here.

Congrats to all those behind this impressive tale!

MT Finale

Wayward #1 Script Online

Writer Jim Zub (Skullkickers, Samurai Jack) and artist Steven Cummings launched their hot Image series, Wayward a year ago and to celebrate its success, Zub has released the entire script for the first issue on his blog. It’s a great read, and a great blog, for those curious about the creative process of comics and those wanting to get a peek in to the industry. He’s very honest about the workings of the comci sbiz and his blog includes insights such as pitches and even sales figures. Great stuff.

I tried to grab the first volume of Wayward from my local comic shop, but they regularly sell out, which is a good sign. I’ll be reading it when it arrives though, and if you haven’t read it yet either, the TPB of the first 5 issues is available now.

Here’s the official description to whet your appetite.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FOR A NEW GENERATION! Rori Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? JIM ZUB (SKULLKICKERS, Samurai Jack), STEVE CUMMINGS (Legends of the Dark Knight, Deadshot), and JOHN RAUCH (INVINCIBLE) team up to create an all-new Image supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the action and mystery of Hellboy. Don’t miss it!

Wayward

Broken Frontier Anthology

Kickstarter. All the cool kids are doing it, including the entertaining and diverse site I contributed to for a few years, Broken Frontier. Below is all the info you need to know from EiC Frederik Hautain about their new anthology which has a stellar array of comics talents.

About the Broken Frontier Anthology

The Broken Frontier Anthology is a fully creator-owned book about breaking boundaries and exploring the great unknown. This 250-page full color hardcover contains 27 stories by over 40 creators from around the world, ranging from multiple award-winning writers and artists to bright, up-and-coming talent, including Greg Pak, Nathan Fox, Cullen Bunn, Noah Van Sciver, Alison Sampson, Josh Fialkov, Fred Van Lente, Box Brown, INJ Culbard, Toby Cypress and Marguerite Bennett. They’ve united for an amazing book that has everything from outer-space sci-fi and time travel to dystopian deserts, cosmic horror and much more.

First up is the teaser image for Dark, Dark World, the all-new story created by Cullen Bunn and Nathan Fox. Dark, Dark World is a gothic fantasy tale of heroism… in a world where there is only one hero left.
And then there’s the great new trailer for the project put together by Greg Pak, highlighting the many amazing characters deputing in the anthology. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/jsqsR8bOyVk

Put together in support of creator-owned comics, the Broken Frontier Anthology is a unique book in the sense that we’re paying creators up front, while they at the same time keep all the rights to their creations.

Here’s a word by contributing writer David Hine on why it’s so important that this book gets funded:

“It’s a model that the comics industry needs to enable established creators to work on personal, creator-owned projects, and for new and upcoming creators to reach a wider audience.”

We thank you for your support in giving our campaign a push in its last few days. Here’s the link again:br.oken.fr/anthology

All the best,

Frederik Hautain
Editor in Chief, Broken Frontier

Dark Dark World

BF Anthology

Two Recent Films I Recommend

The Tower

South Korean. 2012. Set during Christmas time, in a skyrise, but it’s not Die Hard! The Tower is a great disaster film which shows the destruction of a massive building called Tower Sky. Yes, occasionally it has Hollywood levels of predictability, with families trying to connect, people hoping for love, sacrificial heroes, etc, but the films’ director was inspired by the 1974 film The Towering Inferno. It’s filled with good action, drama and special effects.

The Tower

 

 

Doomsday Book.

South Korean. 2012. Three sci-fi stories in this diverse anthology. A Brave New World follows two young lovers, one of whom goes nutty and zombified after some bad meat, and then the epidemic begins, all thanks to one bad apple – literally. The Heavenly Creature features an I, Robot looking robot who has attained enlightenment. It looks like there’s no CGI involved in the Buddhist robot either, which the film makers use rather well. It has lots of talking between himself and the monks who he lives with in a temple, and the robotic company who made him who believe he is faulty and needs to be exterminated, as robots need to know their place. Happy Birthday is the last story and is wonderfully funny at times. A meteor is about to hit Earth, but can one little girl be responsible for calling it to us?

If you liked Cloud Atlas (and I did), you’ll like this film. It’s not as epic as Atlas, but it also shares an actress – Bae Doona, who played the revolutionary clone in Atlas. All three of the short stories have unique hooks and origins of catastrophe that set them apart from similar stories in their genres.

The Doomsday Book

 

Duppy 78 Review

Duppy78coversmall_0414The newest production from UK based publisher, Com.x (Cla$$war, 45) Duppy 78 is beautifully realised, with luscious visuals and a daring desire to do something different and disturbing with the unique voice that sequential art offers.

Set in Kingston, Jamaica in 1978, this is a location and era that gets little focus in comics. That, plus the bold characters and surprisingly effective combination of supernatural scares and crime drama make Duppy 78 an engrossing read. The publisher describes it in three words – “voodoo, violence and vilification,” and that sums it up pretty well.

Too Bad, Martin Isaac and Chris Mansfield are the three main crime lords of Kingston but an unfortunate incident with an American photo-journalism student whittles the three down to two, ramping up the tension and the means to which the remaining crime lords will go to keep, and expand, their power.

There are some bad characters within these pages, but writer, and former DC/Vertigo editor, Casey Seijas never allows them to be so repugnant that we don’t want to know what happens to them. We are also given glimpses into the gangsters’ lives outside of their criminal activities, such as the mature way Mansfield deals with a dangerous and troublesome rock star who’s staying at the luxurious resort he owns.

The story is divided in to four chapters, each with a short primarily black and white flashback which reveals more of the main characters’ history and motivations.

The dialogue is filled with the lingo of ‘70s Jamaica, but is never indecipherable, plus there’s a handy glossary in the first few pages, but thankfully the tale can be enjoyed without constantly referring to it. In case you’re wondering, a duppy is a mischievous spirit in Rasafarian culture, and those who are able to see and control them are known as Obeahmen, or Duppy Conquerors.

The three ruling gangsters each have one of these Conquerors, in the form of “gifted” children who have ties to the men. The wheelchair bound Judah wears a bag on his head to stop the terrifying visions, and there’s also Santa, and Elena is Mansfield’s daughter. The way these children are used by the gangsters as mere pieces on a chess board, and tools of vengeance drives this intense, well-paced tale.

Amancay Nahuelpan’s artwork is suitably nightmarish in a way that goes beyond the gang violence, as you can glimpse in the trailer for the 116 page OGN. Combined with Daniel Warner’s colours and the well researched details of the period, this is a comic that almost has dirt, smells and grime coming off the page. With the childrens’ terrifying visions of demons highlighting the ugliness and hatred that surrounds them, Duppy 78 looks like an ’80s horror film, with grotesque monsters jumping from the shadows. I haven’t seen this many disturbing visions on the page since I read Junji Ito’s alarming manga Spirals.

Also included are a few pages of concept sketches and cover designs from Nahuelpan and other talented artists.

Duppy 78 is available now from digital comics distributor (and recent Amazon acquisition) comiXology for only $4.99.

Overrun Review

Overrun Preview CoverDebuting at the recent London Super Comic Con was this exclusive preview of Overrun. It’s 32 pages, but the full OGN will be 114 pages and will be released soon. Judging by this wonderfully seductive teaser, I’m looking forward to seeing the complete story.

As for the story revealed in these pages, it’s an interesting one, made even more so as it’s all set inside the mysterious world of computers. Well, it’s not all that mysterious as we are so familiar with computing devices and terminology of course, but writers Andi Ewington (of the excellent 45, and Bluespear by UK publisher Com.x) and Matt Woodley use it to their advantage. The world of Overrun is an overcrowded one and the powers that be have decided the best way to make some more space is to purge some of its citizens by introducing a deadly virus, the beginnings of which we see here, as it takes its toll on Cooper, the protagonist.

A visit to the new website gives a great look at the world of Overrun, and how much care has gone in to constructing this hi-tech world. It’s filled with in-jokes and detail. The Kb rationing, the hierarchy, the little people struggling to get by. It’s kind of like Tron, but with much more colour and personality. For instance we see computer files watching computer games being played, which is rather meta. There are characters riffing on Tomb Raider, Mario, Pikachu and Snake Eyes, characters called Mcafee and Macintosh, trains deliver files to users’ inboxes. The number of wide computer references is impressive, even in this teaser.

There is a 2 page introduction to the characters represented as various file types which as an idea is executed well. Characters who are jpegs wear images on their shirts, MP3 files dress according to the style of music they represent, etc. It adds to the diversity on display in these pages as well as the world building.

The art is quite simply luscious. Paul Green’s work on the revamped Flash Gordon series from a few years ago by Ardden Entertainment was a visual treat, but it’s obvious he’s really raised his game here. The production quality is stellar. It’s slick and multi-faceted and takes the concept of a life inside of a computer (which could’ve been bland), and gives it a real vitality. There are characters here, not just concepts with names that will make hip computer users smirk, and that’s testament to the unified creative voice of the talented trio behind Overrun.

As a teaser, this is a most effective one, and does the job it should; operating as an enticing showcase to a world similar to our own, with a whodunit story to be told. I’ll be grabbing this OGN whenever it hits shelves, which I hope is soon.

Biowars

Biowars is a new comic (below is a preview of its 4th issue) which has an intriguing jumping off point – a war in microcosm. The production values and pretty impressive, especially for a free, digital comic. Obviously a lot of thought and creativity has gone in to this project.

Biowars is a digital comic book series featuring an exciting pair of intertwining storylines. While Alexander Hawking fights the sinister forces of the Combine in the outer world, the heroic BioWarriors of his immune system must defend his inner world against a deadly Combine-engineered pathogen. Biowars seeks to open the audience’s imagination to the wondrous alien world that lies within the human body and the strange threats it must face on a daily basis.

Biowars involves readers in its production by regularly engaging its over 100k Facebook fans. With this fan base growing daily, Biowars is the crux of a vibrant and active comic community.

Find out more about Biowars here.

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Blackout #1 Preview

Releasing on March 26 is the debut issue of Blackout from Dark Horse Comics. Here’s a sci-fi-tastic preview.

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Titan Comics’ Doctor Who Covers

As recently announced, UK publisher Titan Comics will now be publishing new comics based on the tenth and eleventh incarnations of Doctor Who, and below is the first info, as well as the first superb covers.

DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR #1

Regular cover by Alice X. Zhang

THE TENTH DOCTOR IS BACK, IN AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! NEW COMPANION! NEW HORIZONS! UNFORGETTABLE NEW FOES! ALLONS-Y!

Eisner Award-winning writer Nick Abadzis (Laika) and fan-favorite artist Elena Casagrande (Angel, Suicide Risk, Doctor Who, Star Trek) take control of the TARDIS for their first five-issue arc with the Tenth Doctor! And don’t miss the second arc, by fellow series architect Robbie Morrison (Drowntown, Nikolai Dante, The Authority)!

DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR #1 hits comics stores on July 23, 2014

DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #1

Regular cover by Alice X. Zhang

THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR RETURNS IN AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES, WITH A TIME-TWISTING LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN! GERONIMO!

Series architects Al Ewing (Loki: Agent of Asgard, Mighty Avengers, Trifecta) and Rob Williams (Revolutionary War, Ordinary, Miss Fury, The Royals: Masters of War, Trifecta) kick off a whirlwind adventure through eternity for the Eleventh Doctor, with artist Simon Fraser (Nikolai Dante, Grindhouse, Doctor Who)!

DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #1 hits comic stores on July 23, 2014

DOCTOR WHO THE TENTH DOCTOR #1

DOCTOR WHO THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #1

Furious #2 Review

Furious 2 CvrThe latest instalment from Mice Templar creators Bryan J.L. Glass, and Victor Santos hits shelves, and it hits hard. Those who read last month’s debut will be aware that this new mini-series about the melding of fame and superpowers is a mature take on superheroics, and this issue dials it up even more.

The first two pages here serve as a strong indication of what’s coming. With Furious, the world’s first super-hero questioned and praised at every turn, something’s got to give.

Here, we get a greater look at Furious’ past from a survivor of a family tragedy to a rising child star to an unexpected superhero. Throughout those stages of her life however, the bitterness and anger remain, and the unexpected superpowers don’t erase them.

As for those superpowers, there is a lot we don’t know about them. There is an almost dismissive mention of the titular hero waking up on the ceiling upon discovering her abilities, and using kinetic energy, but the focus is on the characters, not the origin, and that’s a smart move. Or, rather the focus is on the character, that being Cadence Lark, the alter ego of Furious. It’s interesting to note that we never see Cadence in her civilian guise, apart from the flashbacks. Perhaps Cadence is finding comfort in the colours of a skintight costume as Furious, (or Beacon as he prefers to be called, but never is). Maybe it’s a coping mechanism of Cadence’s traumatic past, or maybe she sees the life of a superhero as just another role to play. It’s testament to Glass’ strengths as a storyteller that this series can be examined and enjoyed from more than one angle. Furious has noble intentions, and certainly makes strides towards peace in her community, but she is a controversial figure; equally declared as awesome or dangerous, and with the local trigger happy police, she begins to comprehend the scope of her powers.

Santos’ art is not filled with beauty. That’s not to say it isn’t pretty to look at. It is, but rather than reveal the glitz and glamour of the high life of the young Cadence as a film star, he chooses to match the darkness and ugliness of what that life can bring, matching Glass’ thematic explorations. The flashbacks of Cadence’s youth, as she struggles with losing the entirety of her family besides her increasingly erratic father, are sad, dark and real. Cadence becomes a sympathetic character during those looks at her past, and the familiar struggles we’ve seen before with many immature celebrities are brought to the fore. Using broken mirrors as a framing device is clever, as is using the same pose with a mysterious new threat that we saw on Furious’ debut. It appears this dangerous, costumed woman has something personal against Furious and is about to make her mark on her world. Up until this point, Furious’ greatest enemy has been herself, or rather how she is perceived, so an external threat will bring the story to dangerous new places.

Glass and Santos are building a mystery with Furious, and it’s an intriguing one. They’ve been throwing crumbs since the first issue, with more surprises surely to come.

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