Andy Schmidt Interview

Editor, writer Andy Schmidt and I had a virtual discussion about his intriguing new series for IDW Publishing, G.I. Joe: Future Noir. It’s a bold take on the characters and the first issue (of 2) of the black and white tale is out right now. Check out the interview at Broken Frontier here.

Entry Level: November 2010

Hit the ground floor running with this selection covering a mass of genres for the discerning reader. If you’re tired of convoluted epics that make no sense to the newbie, these books will give you a good place to start, or add to, your graphic habit, whether they be the first issue of a new series, or a collection worthy of that lonely coffee table. Here’s a list of some of November’s best.

Tron: Betrayal GN

Marvel

There’s also a 2 issue movie adaptation, but I never really see the point in those, unless you want to see the film’s plot a month before it hits cinemas. Otherwise Betrayal is the way to go. Written by Jai Nitz, with art by Andie Tong, this 128 pager follows Sam Flynn and his cohorts as they strive to end Clu’s reign in the cyber realm.

Kull: The Hate Witch

Dark Horse

Perhaps Robert E. Howard’s most famous creation after Conan, Kull is a King in this new 4 ish mini-series by David Lapham  (Stray Bullets) and Gabriel Guzman (Predators). Sword and sorcery adventure.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales

Dark Horse

One of TV’s best shows, Buffy has created many new followers in comics form, as the official continuation of the telly hit. This TPB collects a variety of one-shots and complete mini-series from Buffy creator Joss Whedon, actor Amber Benson, TV scribe Jane Espenson and more, with art by Andy Owens, Steve Lieber and others.

Spider-Girl #1

Marvel

In her fancy new duds teenager Arana Corazon is the new Spider-Girl, as brought to you by Paul Tobin and Clayton Henry. 40 pages with an extra 8 page back-up tale.

Chaos War: Chaos King #1

Marvel

This is a tie-in to Marvel’s latest multi-title epic, but is worth a look due to the return of acclaimed fantasy artist Michael Kaluta to mainstream comics. The story is about the gods of Silver Surfer’s homeworld and their protection of Erath from the titular King.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #150

Marvel

I’m not an avid follower of Marvel’s more streamlined Ultimates line of titles, but this anniversary issue (as well as the 10th anniversary of the Ultimate line) looks to be a winner. Original architect Brian Michael Bendis is on board, as are a whole swag of artists such as David LaFuente, Skottie Young, Jamie McKelvie and more. It also includes a reprint of Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special #1 and features guest appearances by Iceman, Thing, Kitty Pryde and more.

Axe Cop Vol. 1

Dark Horse

The internet hit comes to the printed page. 120 black and white pages of zany adventures. 5 year old Malachai Nicolle writes and older brother/cartoonist Ethan draws. Crazy, but it works wonderfully.

Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki TPB

Udon Entertainment

From writer Jim Zubkavich (Skullkickers) and with the frenetic art of Omar Dogan comes this collection of the 4 ish mini-series focused on Japanese high schooler/ninja Ibuki. Light hearted action and drama.

Batman, Inc. #1

DC Comics

Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette launch a new title starring the original Batman Bruce Wayne as he travels the globe for new soldiers in his crusade.

Halcyon #1 (formerly called Utopian)

Image Comics

Marc Guggenheim, Tara Butters, Ryan Bodenheim and Mark Englert bring a great looking and ambitious series which asks what happens after the superheroes of the world win and now face a crime-free world.

 

G.I. Joe: Future Noir Special #1

IDW

A new 2 ish mini by Andy Schmidt and Giacomo Bevilacqua with an anime influenced style. Starring Duke and Scarlett against the COBRA cult. 56 pages!


New G.I. Joe Series

The recent G.I. Joe Resolute was an awesome animated web series/movie and much better than the embarassing live action film. Hopefully a new series, called G.I. Joe: Renegades will be of the same calibre. It was just announced at the weekend’s G.I.Joe Con. According to Animation Magazine, “the series was announced as a reboot of the classic series, with plans calling for a two-part pilot kicking off a total of 26 episodes. The series will be animated in 2D, with animation veteran Margaret Loesch serving as executive producer. The series will be aimed at a slightly older audience, with a toy line based on the new series set to debut in fall 2011.”

G.I. Joe: Resolute DVD Review

Far superior to the deservedly maligned live action film, G.I Joe Resolute was originally a series of 11 short animated films shown on the net, before being shown in its entirety on TV. Now it’s available on DVD for those who didn’t see it on US or Canadian TV, or for those that did, because it is worth seeing more than once. Written with gusto by comics scribe Warren Ellis  (The Authority, Anna Mercury) and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (Justice League Unimited), this is G.I. Joe as it should be. It respects the ‘80s cartoon series, but reinvents the franchise for a modern, tech savvy audience. Unlike the live action film, Resolute relishes in the military and technological aspects of the Hasbro property with greater realism, filling the screen with mature dialogue and dynamic action scenes.

Sabotaging the U.S.S Flagg, the Joe’s aircraft carrier base, Bazooka’s death, the destruction of Moscow and a 24 hour ultimatum to the U.N by Cobra Commander, and Snake Eyes infiltration within a Cobra base. That’s all in the first few minutes of Resolute. Old favourites such as Tunnel Rat, Roadblock and Flint appear, as does a new female Dial Tone, and of course, Duke, Scarlett, Destro and Baroness. Cameos by Ripcord, Zartan, Stalker, Wild Bill and a few unnamed others are present too, and though I had a heap of Joe toys in my youth I can’t recall all their names. More observant fans will notice more I’m sure.

Resolute never appears disjointed as a complete 1 hour film. In fact you’d never know it was originally a multi-part adventure. In the story, there’s also a look at the origins of the silent Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and an awesome battle between them.  The bad guys are about good as shooting as Stormtroopers and the side missions such as Tunnel Rat’s destruction of Cobra’s satellites and Gung Ho and Roadblock’s battle with Destro and Baroness in Alaska to free a few hostages are all presented equally. No one character really steals the show, though Snake Eyes is cool as always.

The anime flavour and slight costume redesigns really work here and fans of the series need not be concerned. It’s in good hands.

The voice acting is great, the animation is fluid and the action is intense. There’s a final scene after the credits which hints at a possible resurrection of one of the characters who died. Hopefully that means more Resolute episodes on the way. There’s definitely a market for mature Gen X tailored entertainment treated with respect and maturity.

There’s a few extras on the DVD, including a 20 minute interview segment with executive producer Steve Drucker , lead art designer Dan Norton and director Dos Santos. Obviously Norton and Santos are long-time Joe fans. Norton mentions that his toy battles were intense, leading to the deaths of his Joes, complete with funerals. The trio answer a few fan questions and discuss the origin of the project as a desire to make something for the adult fans, and why Warren Ellis was “one of the wow names,” and his unfamiliarity to the Joe Universe, but familiarity with near future military tech helped the approach to the story.

The bonus called And Now You Know is a short action scene showing Snake Eyes dispatching some Cobra goons with ruthless efficiency, and a tongue in cheek nod to the old Public Service Announcements of the ‘80s cartoon series.

Rounding out the extras are a few storyboards and Joe Files offering short bios on Duke, Roadblock, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Baroness, Storm Shadow and Destro.

Resolute is proof that good ideas don’t need to be stuck to the cobwebs of nostalgia, but can be given a new lease of life, pleasing the original fans while making a few more along the way.

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra Review

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra PosterThanks to the success of Transformers on the big screen, the other Hasbro property has been adapted, and Gen Xers everywhere will roll their eyes. I can’t really say much about this film and honestly, it’s not worth an in-depth analysis. I wanted a film to switch my brain off and that’s exactly what I got. Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy films) and starring a variety of actors who most will know by face if not name it’s got the unoriginal choppy editing and unoriginal music score of today’s blockbusters. Dennis Quaid and Brendan Fraser show up, but don’t do much at all. It’s predictable and for those like me who remember the variety of characters from the comics and cartoons, you’ll instead be let down with a bunch of people in the same black leather costumes, because apparently that’s what every well-loved property needs to be hip according to film studios.

The special effects are good apart from a few dodgy CGI vehicles and the two Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow clashes work well. Ray Park as Snake Eyes, the beloved mute ninja, does just what he did as Darth Maul – swing double edged blades and flip.

The dialogue is corny, and throwing in “kung-fu grip,” “Yo Joe!” and “real American hero,” does not help. Oh, and the film had more unintentional laughs than I’ve ever experienced in a film. I can see why they didn’t screen this first for the critics.

G.I. Joe Toons

For those of you that have been disappointed by the new live action G.I. Joe film, you have other options. You can check out Resolute, the multi-part series penned by Warren Ellis with a great anime look, or you can watch the short videos below. The two part G.I. Joe: The Invasion of Cobra Island uses the original action figures, vehicles and playsets to great effect. It has a host of characters appearing, bad guys screaming like girls, and shows the difficulties of navigating a self-destruct system. It’s somewhat amusing and does remind me of my youth playing with my toys in the backyard. Ah, good times.

G.I. Joe: Resolute

If you want to get a more faithful look at the G.I. Joe franchise before the film hits the big screen, this relatively new anime inspired webisode series is for you. Resolute is an 11 part series, made up of roughly 5 minute animated episodes, written by comics scribe Warren Ellis, with character designers by comics cover artist Dave Johnson and is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (Justice League Unlimited). The entire movie, comprising of  10 episodes, plus a finale aired on the Adult Swim TV channel in April. It’s violent and fast paced. Below you can see the teaser and the first episode.

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