Superman: Remade

Writer Warren Ellis’ popular site has a challenge to its many readers, and this is it:

So here’s the deal:

You are an artist/designer. You have to put together the cover for a comic called SUPERMAN. It is issue 1 of this book.

You have been told that Superman is a man who dresses predominantly in a shade of blue, and wears a red S symbol. You know nothing else about the character.

The cover must include a logo and the text THE COMPLETE STORY OF THE DARING EXPLOITS OF THE ONE AND ONLY SUPERMAN.

And that’s it.

It’s up to you what kind of company you’re at. What kind of comics you make. How you translate that description of Superman. What era you’re in. Who you are, even. Go nuts with it.

What a great idea. There’s some absolutely awesome pieces and it’s certainly worth going through the pages to see them all. Below are some of my faves.

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.

Astonishing X-Men #30 Preview

That Astonishing X-Men sure is one pretty series. The final issue of its Ghost Boxes story arc by writer Warren Ellis and awesome artist Simone Bianchi hits shelves on June 24. Below are a few random pages.

axm-30-pag-4-5

axm-30p6

axm-30p10

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 Review

 

hotwire1_covera_pugh_lowresThis issue is so pretty it’s making all my other comics jealous. An orgy of sights from Poltergeist, Ghostbusters, Judge Dredd and grand superhero epics, Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh concoct a tidy package of bombasticity (yes, I made up that word) unlike any piece of work you’ll find on today’s shelves. The four issue mini-series from Radical is yet another attention-getter in its already impressive arsenal of hot properties. Steve Pugh’s name comes before famed writer Warren Ellis’, and there’s a good reason. Hotwire is primarily Pugh’s creation, working from Ellis’ original story, but Pugh handles both chores brilliantly. Like any good writer/artist Pugh is totally in synch with his ambitions on the page and the fact that he’s been working on this title on and off for years shows. That devotion is obvious and Pugh can be glad that he stuck with Alice Hotwire. It’s paid off very well.

So what’s it all about then? This is a typically Radical high-concept and one that is revealed naturally within the story. Alice Hotwire is a smart, sassy, techno-goth punk and a detective exorcist. In the Britain of the future, ghosts are referred to as the more comfortable “blue lights” and in some parts roam the city as loose spirits. It’s a great idea to build an intriguing world upon, and in Pugh’s gorgeously rendered pages, the world is exquisite. Those familiar with his previous work on Shark Man will like what they see, as will everyone else, really. He digitally paints all manner of easily identifiable characters, surrounding them with gizmos and vehicles. There’s a burgeoning story at work here besides the undead, and the city riots, police corruption and unpopularity of the by-the-book Hotwire amongst her fellow cops will slowly form a larger narrative.

The beauty of Ellis’ writing is that he can take the same old broad ideas (humanity’s dependency on machines, pseudo-science, female outsiders) and paint them in striking new colours and Pugh has a great base to leap from as he constructs this tale. This is a great introduction to new readers sick of traditional superheroics. There’s enough action, playful attitude and variety to entertain you. There’s also exploding bodies, electrocutions and one angry digital ghost to compel you further. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Alice Hotwire is an attractive young girl who doesn’t compromise, believe she’s ever wrong, or lose a fight. The book wisely centres on her but surely her new partner, family man, Mobey, will share the spotlight once the pair start figuring out what’s going on with all the increasingly weird paranormal activity.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 is a 28 page issue, available from February 4. If you like looking at pretty things and being seduced by an equally arresting adventure, you have to pick it up.

hotwire_1_page_3

hotwire_1_page_4