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
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
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!
As I mentioned previously in these pages, the Marvel Anime team-up between Marvel Animation and anime powerhouse Madhouse is now properly under way, with the release of what looks to be an exciting Japanese take on Iron Man, current media poster boy for Marvel.
The first episode does little more than introduce us to all the main characters, lay down the reason for Tony finding himself in the land of the rising sun in the first place, and then proceeds to tease us with the introduction of a rather nasty looking villain: Scopio!
(Not to mention the mutterings around a certain sinister-sounding Zodiac group).
The following a couple of screenshots from episode 1, just to get you more in the mood for this explosive new title! ;)
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Iron Man Arrives in Japan – So Marvel’s Iron Man has come to Japan at last, under the steering hand of comics maestro Warren Ellis and anime director Yuzo Sato, who bring to us a 12 episode long anime series from the combined efforts of Marvel Animation and the legendary Madhouse.
According to the press releases Madhouse has been given free reign with Marvel’s house of superheroes, meaning the potential for unchained re-imaginings with a Japanese slant is heavily on the cards, starting off with Marvel’s current film poster-child, Iron Man.
Marvel Anime: Iron Man episode 1 kicks the proceedings off and unlike the recent Iron Man: Armored Adventures which is more geared towards kids, Iron Man puts the familiar playboy billionaire genius Tony Stark right in front of us, making his way over to Japan in order to oversee the completion of his ambitious arc reactor project which seeks to bring free energy to the whole of Japan.
However, one thing no one could have expected is that Tony Stark is also in the process of stepping down from his role as Iron Man, instead handing over the reins to a new generation of pilots who will be piloting a new Iron Man model nicknamed the Dio.
But of course, for a man as flamboyant as Tony, fitting into the more culturally reserved Japan is going to prove tough enough on its own, never mind the fact that despite his desire to step down, a sinister organisation known only as the Zodiac is about to rear its very ugly head!
Episode 1 is a solid start to what should be an entertaining anime series, even if it clocks in at the short 12 episode mark. We have already been given a good plot line to follow up on, been introduced to some sinister new enemies for the armoured hero and more importantly, been introduced to all the necessary supporting characters who no doubt will keep us entertained as the differences between the West and East are further highlighted as the show progresses.
In terms of the animation, once you get over Tony Stark’s rather foppish hairstyle and face lines, you’ll realize that this is one slick animation presentation. Fluid, great detail and some fantastic action sequences make for a very good looking, and enjoyable anime experience. The CG is particularly well handles and integrated into the 2D animation and as a whole, Iron Man, simply put, looks damn good.
Similarly, the soundtrack together with both the opening and closing music tracks are all a hit, in addition to which, it must be mentioned that Keiji Fujiwara provides a rather fitting voice to our playboy Mr. Stark.
In other words, a good start for what looks to be a decent anime series well worth checking out, particularly if you are as big a Marvel fanboy like I am! :)
Download Iron Man 1:
So I finally got around to watching this year’s big Marvel release, Iron Man a little while ago and damn it, I really should have made an effort to catch it on the big screen the first time around!
Iron Man tells the story of genius playboy and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark, who inadvertently gets caught in the middle of some Middle East conflict. Now near death, Stark must race against time to build himself a suit that not only will save his life – but also help him stop those abusing the very weapons he himself has created!
But all is not as it seems within Stark Enterprises as Tony is about to find out…
Surprise choice director Jon Favreau manages to craft a thoroughly entertaining movie that manages to keep you intrigued, make you laugh and then force you to clutch onto the edge of you seat as he cranks the action all the way up. The musical score and soundtrack selection complement the film’s visuals, tone and atmosphere perfectly, and the superb blend of CGI and special effects creates something that looks absolutely phenomenal (but surprisingly believable) on the big screen.
Admittedly the story isn’t exactly jam-packed with juicy material and suffers from a rather stinted and clichéd final section, but to be honest, the film is more about the journey to reach that end point and on this front it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Robert Downey Jr. captures the essence of alcoholic, free-spirited, genius playboy Tony Stark with a simple ease that is both joyous and astounding to watch. Long time fans of the Iron Man comic book series will immediately recognise their favourite character up in real life and this is a testament to just how well Robert plays his part.
Terrance Howard on the other hand didn’t put in a realistic or at least comic book faithful Rhodey performance and as such, I’m secretly relieved to hear that he hasn’t been offered the same spot for the upcoming sequence. Gwyneth Paltrow however delivered an excellent Pepper Potts and while Jeff Bridges shone in his role as Obadiah Stone, it’s a pity that the fairly weak script telecast his role from a mile away. Faran Tahir also puts in a particularly menacing performance, but one can’t help but wonder if as an actor he isn’t falling into that old typecast trap?
Another point to mention is the fact that Iron Man’s updated origin story is the first time I’ve actually not hissed and booed at the screen when confronted with changes to the comic book that I am already so familiar with. In fact, I must admit to being rather glad that the Mandarin was excluded from this first outing on the big screen! :)
So in summary, Iron Man is a popcorn-chewing, action-packed, laugh a minute and cliché ridden standard comic book adaptation that just happens to be better than most and will undoubtedly leave you feeling thoroughly entertained by the time the final credits roll.
Well worth the DVD rental then!
Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/