Daredevil on the Rocks! Daredevil discovers the secret to Tony Stark’s success! How far will Tony go to stop Matt Murdock from revealing this shocking secret to the world? As Tony’s actions become even more questionable, who will conspire to take him down, leading up to the battle you thought you’d never see?
Published January 2015, Superior Iron Man #4 is written by Tom Taylor and features this don’t mess with me cover of a very smug Iron Man resting his heels on a very battered Daredevil by comic book artist Mike Choi.
Every now and then I’ll pick up a comic book to read, though I have to say that these days it is pretty few and far between. Anyway, here’s a quick roundup of some of the graphic novels I did in fact encounter over the last couple of months…
Preacher: Dixie Fried (Volume 5) (1998)
After destroying the headquarters of the all-powerful Grail conspiracy and freeing his hard-drinking vampire pal Cassidy from its dungeons, the Reverend Jesse Custer is about to reunite with his straight-shooting girlfriend Tulip O’Hare and resume his hunt for answers from an elusive God – provided that Tulip forgives him for leaving her behind during his little rescue mission.
But getting those answers will mean delving into the hidden mind of Genesis, the angel/demon offspring that has fused itself to Jesse’s soul, and that will require some serious spiritual excavation – the kind that only real, down-home black magic can offer. Luckily, Cassidy happens to know a voodoo priest in New Orleans who can help unlock the Genesis memories in Jesse’s head. In the same breath, unluckily, Cassidy also has a cult of bloodthirsty vampire wannabes in New Orleans after his head!
Even after all of these years Preacher still holds up as a thoroughly entertaining ready, a seriously black comedy drama that doesn’t care what sacred religious cow it touches, or in most cases, bruises. Twists and turns a plenty, weird and generally terrifying characters and situations, both subtle and not so subtle bits of injected dark humour, and just all in all a very engaging and gripping story, from start to finish.
And needless to say, Volume 5 (Dixie Fried) in this saga by writer Garth Ennis doesn’t disappoint in any of the above regards.
At the same time, artist Steve Dillon produces some fantastically detailed and emotive visuals to back up this great read, making Preacher: Dixie Fried a good recommendation to any of your not easily offended comic book reading friends.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preacher_(comics)
X-Men: FF (2012)
When the Future Foundation discovers a distress beacon from another dimension, they turn to the heroes best suited to help: the X-Men! But these are strange times for both teams: the X-Men are aligned with their arch-nemesis Magneto, while the FF has forged an uneasy alliance with their own eternal enemy, Dr. Doom. When the two teams hop dimensions to rescue Cyclops’ ex-girlfriend, sea captain Lee Forrester, they encounter dinosaurs, alien invaders and an old friend in Skull the Slayer. But what is the greatest threat? The dinosaurs? The aliens? Or Doom and Magneto?
Plus: the mutant super heroes meet the new Ghost Rider!
Collecting X-MEN (2010) #15.1 and #16-19, the X-Men: FF trade paperback is written by Victor Gischler and illustrated by Jorge Molina, Mirco Pierfederici and Will Conrad.
The Ghost Rider meet-up aside (which feels like a forced exercise in padding to be quite honest), the X-Men: FF story arc turns out to be a hugely entertaining one, delivering a solid story that has all the hallmarks of action, adventure, humour and big fight scenes that you have come to expect from a great X-men comic book tale. There is plenty of “screen time” for all the involved cast members (both X-men and Future Foundation) and as per usual the interactions between the various team members, not mention the teams themselves, make for an engaging read.
(And besides, who doesn’t like a story set in a dinosaur-filled, lost Savage Land type setting anyway?)
Visually I have to say that I enjoyed the pages from all the artists involved, with all three art teams delivering work that is stylistically fairly similar, thus making the story feel a little less disjointed than what it could have (a problem often encountered with multi-artist story arcs). The colouring throughout is gorgeous, as expected from one of these top shelf franchises, and overall I have to say this is an enjoyable read to pick up if you have some spare time on your hands.
Obviously not a very deep, dramatic or seminal story being told here, but pretty damn good entertainment nevertheless!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men
Iron Man: Extremis (2005)
Extremis is a 2005 six part story arc from writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov that sought to redefine the character into a more modern day setting. It’s an extremely popular Iron Man story and indeed, elements from the arc were lifted to form the basis of the excellent Iron Man 3 movie.
Whilst this story of a virus capable of creating incredibly powerful superhuman subjects which after sabotage is set on a direct collision course with a greatly outmatched Iron Man is certainly entertaining and makes for a great tale, I have to say, I don’t quite get why it is such a highly regarded Iron Man arc. I do get the fact that it serves the purpose of redefining a more modern Iron Man quite well, but I have to say that for me it felt like more of a throw away story arc than anything else – and the often forced dialogue didn’t really help its case either.
On the art front Adi Granov’s visuals are amazingly detailed and gorgeous to look at, but in the same breath suffers from the problem most photo realistic artists suffer from – panels appear very static and it is difficult for a reader to get much in terms of action and movement out of it.
Still, it was a good read and on the whole the art IS gorgeous, making it a certainly recommendable read, particularly for those already heavily invested in the Iron Man universe.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremis
The Avengers (2012)
Thor’s brother, the Asgardian Loki encounters the Other, the leader of an extraterrestrial race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract,a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki an army with which he can subjugate Earth.
In the face of this overwhelming threat, Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., is forced to activate The Avengers Initiative – and in so doing bring together a group of Earth’s mightiest heroes, namely Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye!
Having recently watching this again on DVD after first catching it in the cinema on its initial release back in 2012, The Avengers by director Joss Whedon remains one of the best comic book movies done right. From start to finish this is an action spectacular, featuring all of our favourite Avengers (and more importantly giving each and every one of them more than enough screen time to shine), pitted against an overwhelming force of aliens in a drama filled story that keeps you fully engaged from start to finish. The perfect balance of action, intrigue, drama and even a couple of laughs makes for one of the best comic book movies ever made, and when you combine it with eye-popping visuals, both camera work and flawless CG, not to mention a pulse-pounding and superbly slick soundtrack, then you truly have a comic book fan’s fantasy movie right there.
And if that wasn’t good enough in itself, then it gets even better when you realize that each and every actor fits their role to perfection, leaving you with pretty much nothing to complain about whatsoever.
Definitely worth watching if you are even the slightest bit of a comic book fan, and easily one of my favourite comic book-related movies of all time!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Avengers_(2012_film)
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
As a young girl, Chun-Li’s world was ripped apart when her loving father was kidnapped by a violent crimelord right before her eyes, followed by the death of her mother from cancer. Both a talented concert pianist and skilled fighter, Chun-Li receives a mysterious Chinese scroll which leads her away from the life that she has built for herself, and instead into a world of hunger, suffering, and strife, as she links up with a mysterious kung fu master that holds the key to her unlocking the power within, as well as the path towards challenging M. Bison, the crimelord who may in fact still be in possession of her father taken from her all those years ago!
This is an interesting one to be sure. Despite characters sharing the names of characters from the hit Street Fighter universe, this movie is probably as far removed from the Street Fighter franchise as what you can possibly get. So if you dive in with that piece of info firmly in sight, then all that remains is overcoming the very silly little bit of CG they mistakenly throw in once or twice – and once you’ve done that, then you get a martial arts movie that is in actual fact pretty entertaining, engaging you from start to finish and featuring some good martial arts battles, not to mention the odd gun fight or two.
Kristin Kreuk is actually pretty enjoyable in this one as Chun-Li, as are the rest of the actors for that matter, but I have to say, despite the pretty heavy dramatic elements present in the story, it never really drives the emotional impact home very effectively, meaning that the movie will pass without you necessarily being completely drawn into it.
That said, lush and interesting Hong Kong environments, enjoyable action and fight scenes, and a pretty good soundtrack makes this a good way to pass the time if you’re the type of moviegoer who enjoys a good martial arts movie, and to be fair, I did enjoy the viewing, even if there wasn’t anything to chuckle about.
Just remember, this really isn’t a Street Fighter movie.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (2011)
Table City in the West sits on a raised plateau, surrounding by a deep chasm all around. Occupied by the Amestrian army and threatened by the Cretan military, the oppressed people of Milos, original inhabitants of Table City, lead a difficult and harsh life down in “The Valley”, just scraping by whilst living on the dumping ground that is the bottom of the chasm.
A dangerous prisoner, with the dual alchemist control over both electricity and ice, escapes just weeks before his parole in Central City, leading Ed and Al on a chase that leads them directly to Table City – and intertwines them in a tale of rebellion, wolf chimera, and a sinister plot that would see the birth of yet another blood-soaked Philosopher’s Stone, destined to bring death and ruin to all involved!
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is the second full length animated movie in the popular Fullmetal Alchemist franchise, coming out just after the second season of the hit anime series completed its full run. To get the most out of this particular movie one does need to be acquainted with the franchise as a whole, and that said, it does hit all the right buttons if you are a fan of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular manga.
It’s a fairly lengthy movie packed with the heavy drama that one has come to expect from the Fullmetal Alchemist series, and surprisingly features very few of the light-hearted moments which one has kind of come to expect based on Arakawa’s work. As expected it is a pretty dark tale, packed to the brim with exciting action sequences and loads of twists and reveals, and as a whole, is a very satisfying entry in the Fullmetal Alchemist universe.
Although I’ve never been a particular fan of Arakawa’s fairly flat and angular character designs, the film really is well animated by the Bones team, and features some particularly slick choreographed sequences and some stunning CG landscape enhancements. The backgrounds as expected are lush and very detailed, and as a whole, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is a very good looking animated film indeed!
All the voice actors from the original anime series are there, and thrown in with a particularly stirring soundtrack and some great sound effects, deliver an engaging viewing experience that will no doubt entertain pretty much any anime fan.
Well worth watching then, particularly if you are a fan of the whole Fullmetal Alchemist experience in the first place!
Iron Man 3 (2013)
A deadly extremist terrorist has now moved from causing chaos in the Middle East to striking out directly against the United States of America, rocking the country with a series of devastating and untraceable explosions. But the Mandarin isn’t the only demon that Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, will have to track and face-down: there is an even more sinister, homegrown plot on the brew, not to mention his own damaged psyche to get under control following the alien invasion of Earth just a few months ago.
In other words, things are going to get quite bad, quite quickly, and quite close to home.
Director Shane Black takes over the reins from Jon Favreau for the final installment of what has been a thoroughly entertaining Iron Man big-screen trilogy, and pleasingly he massively delivers the goods, releasing a relentlessly enjoyable comic book action movie, filled to the brim with story, drama, action, humor and twists galore.
Borrowing heavily on the concepts introduced by Warren Ellis’ epic Extremis story line, this particular script allows Robert Downey, Jr. to once again fully embrace the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man, with his usual combination of fun, intensity, irrelevance, and charm, and as per usual it is pretty difficult not to like the playboy inventor problem child Stark that Downey, Jr has so made his own in this trilogy outing.
Visually Iron Man 3 is epic, the special effects are amazing and as per usual the suits are simply awe-inspiring, especially now with the added trick which Tony has built in for this outing. Added to this, the strong performances from all the actors involved, the great fight choreography, and pumping musical score, all mixed together leaves you with a fantastic action movie that has a great story, delivers on the comic book-fuelled action, and is guaranteed to keep you watching from start to finish.
In other words, every comic book fan’s dream movie.
It certainly ranks right up there in terms of my favourite comic book movie adaptations, snuggled just behind Avengers (which simply can’t be beat).
(Oh, and I can even forgive what they did the Mandarin, that’s how much I enjoyed this one!)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Man_3
Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore (2013)
An enigmatic terrorist wearing an unusual, highly advanced techno-organic white suit of armour appears to have the ability to control both organic and electronic material – and appears to be quite happy to kill, destroy and maim on his way to fulfill his yet unveiled quest.
But it would appear that this new villain shares some sort of past connection with Iron Man, and unfortunately it may just be War Machine who ultimately pays the price for this…
2010’s Marvel Anime Iron Man outing, directed by Yuzo Sato and produced by the famed Madhouse animation studio, was disappointingly a monster of the week type of show, but it was certainly an interesting and not a particularly horrible experiment which I did rather enjoy in the end.
Well it obviously did well enough to spin off a full length direct to video anime film in 2013, this time with Hiroshi Hamasaki taking the directorial reins, and once again being produced by anime powerhouse studio, Madhouse.
Visually Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore is a tour de force, slickly animated with some exceptional choreography, visual style and flair that you only seem to be able to get from a Japanese anime production.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t quite match this, and disappointingly, the voice acting even less so. The story is a bit of a mess, and at times the pseudo-philosophical mechanized angst-driven plot bogs it down badly, especially when you combine it with an antagonist who is simply just too enigmatic and too unmotivated. Luckily the frequent action sequences do make up for this to a degree, and it has to be said, it IS quite a treat to get a bonus showing of Nick Fury, Hawkeye and even the Punisher on screen.
I’m not sure what the Japanese script and dialogue is like, but unfortunately the English version isn’t all that great. A lot of the lines are just a little bit too quick-fire, a little too forced and often insincere, unfortunately meaning that the voice acting suffers accordingly.
Nevertheless, this is a polished animated movie with a pulse-pounding soundtrack and fantastic visuals, meaning that even though it isn’t the greatest comic book related movie out there, it certainly is worth picking up if you enjoy Japanese anime sensibilities.
Superman: Unbound (2013)
A dangerous android probe heralds the coming of a sinister galactic evil to Earth, prompting the Man of Steel and his newly arrived cousin, the young and unsure Supergirl, to take proactive measure to try and ensure Earth remains out of his treacherous and world devouring clutches.
But with the knowledge of literally tens of thousands of worlds at his disposal, there is very little that the all knowing Brainiac can’t overcome…
It’s a bit of a pity that financial risk means that only Batman, Superman and Justice League movies get churned out in the awesome DC Universe Animated Original Movie series these days, but nevertheless, Superman: Unbound is the 16th film in the series and as per usual, it is a strong, enjoyable, and worthy addition to what really is turning out to be a marvellous franchise for comic book fans.
Based on Superman: Brainiac by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Superman: Unbound brings to the screen an updated Silver Age villain and prop in the forms of Brainaic and the Bottled City of Kandor, and does so credibly. The story is entertaining, features the complete Superman cast, brings a lot of Krypton lore with it, and despite a slightly too clean resolution at the end, is a thrilling tail of an overwhelmed and outmatched Superman and Supergirl, fighting against the odds to save our planet.
A classic Superman tale in other words.
As with all the movies in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series, Superman: Unbound features its own unique animation style and I have to be honest, I didn’t particularly like it. I certainly got used to it, but it is not a particular favourite of mine. Nevertheless, outside of the visual style and one or two silly animation gaffes, the actual animation is slick and well choreographed, and the movie is by no stretch of the imagination a poorly animated affair.
Voice acting is actually pretty enjoyable and the musical score is top notch (as expected given the series’ high production values), and overall it is a polished package that makes for an action-packed, enjoyable Superman viewing that is sure to entertain pretty much all the comic book fans out there.
Certainly worth the watch, and quite enjoyable to boot.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman:_Unbound
Having thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the first season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it is pretty awesome to be able to say that I was just as thrilled with 2012’s Season 2, featuring the return of Iron Man, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Wasp and the First Avenger, Captain America!
Season Two depicts the Avengers as they track down the remaining members of the Masters of Evil and end up facing the secret invasion of the Skrulls in the first half of season, followed by the Kree in the second half. Intertwined with this is a number of other story plots that get opened up and then closed again, making for an enthralling, overarching storyline that is guaranteed to satisfy any long time comic book fan, never mind the people getting exposed to the Avengers for the very first time.
The amount of characters drawn in from the Marvel Universe over the course of the series is staggering, with the likes of Ms. Marvel, The Vision, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Scott Lang, Heroes for Hire, Doctor Doom, Surtur, Crossfire, Thunderbolt Ross, his Red Hulk form, Guardians of the Galaxy, Falcon and Beta Ray Bill all making an appearance.
The show is cleverly written, the characters well handled, the touches of humour are all in place, but above all else, the unrelenting superhero action is without a doubt what makes this such a pleasing watch.
Whilst the voice actors all do a terrific job with their respective characters, and backed by an outstanding musical score and soundtrack, I remain a little disappointed with the chosen animation style – the stylized designs are just a little too square for my liking and although visually The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes does stand out as its own animal, I can’t help but feel that a stronger, more streamlined animation style could have been employed, something similar to say what Young Justice and ThunderCats is currently doing.
But this is a minor gripe because I really can’t fault Avengers in terms of keeping me on the edge of my seat and entertaining me all the way through. Plenty of twists, action and drama, and more than enough superheroes to make even the hardest to please comic book fanboy happy!
Well worth tracking down and watching then.
Slovenian artist Blaz Porenta is a fantastic artist, illustrator and digital painter who comes up with the most atmospheric and detailed portraits you could ever imagine.
This particular piece of his depicts everyone’s favourite man in a tin can, Marvel’s Iron Man!
The highly skilled Adi Granov is a Bosnian-born comic book artist and conceptual designer who currently resides in England, where he churns out some absolutely stellar painted cover and interior comic book artwork, mostly for Marvel Comics.
Without a doubt, it was his work on Iron Man, both in designing the Iron Man suit used in Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron man film and his comic collaboration with writer Warren Ellis following the post-Avengers Disassembled relaunch of the title, that first thrust him firmly in the fan spotlight.
And as you can see for yourself, there is a reason that Mr. Granov is rated as highly as what he is!
The highly skilled Adi Granov is a Bosnian-born comic book artist and conceptual designer who currently resides in England, where he churns out some absolutely stellar painted cover and interior comic book artwork, mostly for Marvel Comics.
Whilst it was probably his work on Iron Man, both in designing the Iron Man suit used in Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron man film and his comic collaboration with writer Warren Ellis following the post-Avengers Disassembled relaunch of the title, that first thrust him firmly in the fan spotlight, as you can see from this piece below – it isn’t just the Armoured Avenger that Mr. Granov can bring to life!
Enter Captain America!
Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable animated television series. Thanks to a fantastically engaging, overarching story that sees plenty of mysteries presenting themselves on the way and bringing our heroes into battle with the likes of Hydra, Aim, Loki, Enchantress, Kang, Baron Zemo and even the Skrull, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes initially focuses on the original Avengers roster, meaning Iron Man, Giant-Man, Hulk, Thor and the Wasp, before cleverly expanding to include Captain America, Black Panther and the grouchy archer, Hawkeye.
Released in 2010, the first season consists of 26 episodes with a tight continuity but enough variety from writer Christopher Yost to give you stories focussing on each of the individual team members making up the Avengers whilst still bringing the team up against an absolute slew of instantly recongnisable Marvel villains. The stories are all action and adventure-packed, emotionally charged, and at the same time maintain a good sense of wit and humour around them in order to keep the series feeling fresh and enjoyable by a wide range of audience. And let’s not fail to mention the genuine unexpected surprises Yost likes to keep tossing in at us!
The animation is handled by Film Roman and although the lines are simple with a bit of a square look which does take a little while to get used to, the series definitely carries its own style and in the end comes out looking pretty good, capturing the action-packed sequences very fluidly in the process, with some great special effects to boot!
Bad City’s “Fight As One” opening theme track is an absolute brilliant fit for the series, and the good start is continued with a great selection of voice actors who fill the boots of these big time heroes and villains, as well as a music score which effectively conveys the tone of the story throughout.
Overall, there is very little NOT to love about The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It is action packed, fun, gives us all the superhero action we could possibly want, wrapped up in its distinctive look and an edge-of-your-seat, engaging storyline that simply does not disappoint at any step of the way. Very easy to recommend to anyone who enjoys their animated fare, be it kids or adults who simply refuse to grow up! ;)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avengers:_Earth%27s_Mightiest_Heroes