OMNIUM GATHERUM 68

Omnium Gatherum #68: Moving On Up

By Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

First up, I have to apologize profusely to you folks for being away for so long. I don’t have any reasons that won’t sound like excuses. Besides some things I can’t talk about right now because I don’t want to jinx them.

One thing I can talk about is reflected by the subtitle for this installment.

Namely, yours truly is in the midst of moving. Everything at the Omnium Gatherum Ashram is in either in a state of being boxed up or is in complete disarray. It’s crazy and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, for the foreseeable future, this column will be even more erratic than usual.

What does that really mean?

One thing it means is that I still have three or four more San Diego Comic-Con 2010 features to write and submit. One in particular is taking a lot of thought and effort to finish up. Between work at Comics Ink, packing up the old apartment, new kittens, and other work and distractions, my poor little brain can only handle so much.

So what’s going to happen is the numbering of this column will go slightly out of sequence for a time as I catch up.

Another thing this change of venue means is I will try to review comics in smaller doses, in a catch as catch can manner. But part of the backlog from CCI are the reviews of books I picked up or were handed at the show. I haven’t forgotten about you folks, I assure you.

I hope this explains things.

If it does, then please repeat it back to me. I’m a bit lost amongst all of the boxes I’m packing, unpacking, and moving.

**********

I posted this on my Facebook page but it bears repeating and expanding here.

The first day of the move found the trusty assistant and I cleaning up the empty apartment in preparation for the move. I mopped up hardwood floors and wiped down dirty walls in what now seems to be an empty effort to keep from having to paint. All of this while waiting for the arrival of the locksmith to change the locks on the front and back doors.

Hunger caught up to the trusty assistant first in the early afternoon. I wasn’t particularly hungry but the TA threatened to go on strike. Besides it was a warm day and the search for food gave me a chance to wander slightly through the new neighborhood.

I walked down the very busy for a Friday afternoon street of Crenshaw, with only my mirrored sunglasses as armor against the light. The heat was dissipating, pushed aside by the breeze flowing in from the beaches.

I made my way towards the unhealthy fast food row adjacent to the main shopping areas. My thoughts were only of moving and buying some food to keep going. I was on a timetable to get out of my old place and every moment spent not moving boxes was a wasted one.

As I headed down Crenshaw towards Century, I spied an older gentlemen walking in the opposite direction. He stood tall yet thin, not frail so much as weathered perhaps. He pushed a shopping cart as empty as a politician’s promise. It was because of this empty basket that I wasn’t sure if this gentleman was homeless or not. All I knew was our paths would cross, so I did what I usually do and made room on the sidewalk for this fellow pedestrian to pass safely. We approached each other at varying speeds. Just as I stood a few feet from him, the gentleman extended his hand towards mine in greeting. Not wanting to be unfriendly and seeing that this man wasn’t unwashed (should that have really mattered?) was this man not a fellow human being worthy of some respect at the very least?), I shook it. The hand was as bony as the rest of the man, the skin thin enough to show some of the bones themselves and leathery. Yet there was a strength there, speaking of a time when this man was vital and strong and full of potential.

The greeting ended and we both went our separate ways.

And that was how I chose to think of the encounter, as a greeting to my new neighborhood.

**********

In the course of the moving of home and storage, I am realizing just how much stuff I’ve gathered over the years. I’m not just counting comics but books, CDs, DVDs, and other toys and the like. Whew!

One of the most interesting and difficult parts of my being a Buddhist is being faced with my own attachments.

Being a Buddhist doesn’t necessarily mean I have to go around in simple robes, begging for my survival. But it should be mean that I apply some awareness and wisdom to my actions.

I have a lot of stuff.

The challenge is to make sure the stuff doesn’t have me.

A difficult challenge to engage in when one is a comics collector where the possibility of being possessed by one’s possessions is very high.

The room that is now filled up with boxes of comics is a reminder and a warning I’m in danger of being owned by all of those comics. Yet there is joy in those boxes, stories and characters old and new, that have dear places in my heart.

I guess I have more work on myself to do.

**********

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this time out, folks. It’s all about getting back into rhythm.

See y’all soon.

Namaste.

TWO FOR KIDS

Two new graphic novels for kids, from the folks at Random House Children’s Books

Reviewed by Marc Mason


First up is the latest from Jennifer and Matthew Holm, BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON, the 13th in their million-selling series featuring the mischievous young girl with a nose for trouble. This time out, she inadvertently allows her wandering imagination to destroy the school library, necessitating a school fundraiser to replace the damaged books. To make money, the students will sell cupcakes, and the champion seller will receive a special prize. Of course, our heroine wants nothing more than to claim that prize, but it won’t be easy- her classmate Felicia is an ace salesgirl and even has an advertising agency on her side. But that won’t stop Babymouse from engaging in every possible shenanigan to sell the tasty treats and get her hands on the prize. Hilarity, of course, ensues. At this point, the Holm siblings have the series firing on all cylinders; the script is smooth, the characters are perfectly delineated, and the results are exactly what they need to be. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These two know what they’re doing, and huge sales will continue to result.

STONE RABBIT: NINJA SLICE by Erik Craddock is the fifth book in this series, but this is my first exposure to it. Stone and his friends are typical kids, hanging out and eating pizza and playing video games when trouble rolls into town. A new pizza joint is opening and threatening Grandpa’s Homestyle Pizza, their hangout. How? It offers pizza faster and cheaper than Grandpa ever could… because it’s run by ninjas! A disgruntled former employee is determined to take his revenge on Grandpa and infect the city with evil pizza, too. This means that Stone and his buddies will need a miracle, or at least some powers of their own, to save the day. Craddock’s writing and art are quite charming; this book looks like a Nickelodeon cartoon brought to the page, and has a similar feel when it comes to attitude and character. He also uses color very effectively, making the book unusually eye-catching for a younger readers effort. Good stuff.


SOLDIER ZERO

SOLDIER ZERO #1
Created by Mark Waid and Stan Lee, Written by Paul Cornell and Illustrated by Javier Pina
Published by BOOM! Studios

Reviewed by Avril Brown

Recently released by BOOM! Studios is the latest brainchild of comic legends Stan ‘The Man’ Lee and BOOM! editor/writer Mark Waid entitled SOLDIER ZERO. Following a retired, and paralyzed, solider of the war in Afghanistan who is simply trying to live his new life until he encounters an unknown entity, SOLDIER ZERO cannot boast anything terribly original in terms of basic story structure, yet it is worth checking out for any fan of the tried and true ‘disabled hero become superhero’ plot line.

Stewart returned from the war paralyzed from the waist down, and though he is trying to move onwards with his life he is continuously encountering obstacles to his progress, stairs being the least of his worries. Between his overly helpful, and sensitive, coworkers, his protective brother and his potential girlfriend, Stewart has a vast yet occasionally stifling supportive network. He was enjoying a meteor shower and just starting to open up to his date Jill about how he became disabled when something, or someone, crashes onto his building and somehow bonds to Stewart, creating Soldier Zero.

In the spirit of full disclosure I admit I am predisposed to liking this book largely in part to the names attached to its creative process. Paul Cornell is the scribe behind some of my favorite ‘Doctor Who’ episodes and has also penned some pages for Marvel Comics. Given his resume I was hoping for a slightly more original script, but one cannot fully judge a new comic by its introductory issue. Superhero comics are as much about the flashy powers and accelerated action sequences as they are about genuine characters and their emotional development, and thus far I like Stewart the Solider. He is not bitter, but nor is he pretending like he is completely ok with his situation. He is dealing the best he can with the stares, the whispers, and the awkwardness ‘the chair’ can invoke, but it still affects him. He has also retained a sense of humor, as evident in the scene where he jokes with his coworker who apologized for saying ‘I have to run,’: “I gotta get that t-shirt made: ‘You can say ‘run.’”

I recently attended an annual disability awareness seminar at my place of work and I will give accolades to Cornell for touching upon several issues people who uses wheelchairs have to deal with every day, the above mentioned panel being a case in point. Additionally, I do enjoy a sibling willing to go to the mat for his blood, and Stewart’s brother James seems to fit the bill and is set up to be a key character in the future.

The artwork is decently done and I look forward to seeing how it develops over time, especially with regards to the detail in the faces of the characters which could use added definition. The aerial views and the background details are fantastic, and the colors resonate off the page, particularly in the opening panels with the alien Soldier Zero (who looks sharp) dancing with an attacking ship in a vibrantly colored outer space.

There is definite potential contained within SOLDIER ZERO as long as the creative minds behind these characters continue giving us people we can care about, flashy fight scenes to ogle and an excellent balance of drama and humor to keep the readers interested. SOLDIER ZERO is a good starter book for members of the younger generation looking for a brand new hero to get behind.

IRREDEEMABLE-INCORRUPTIBLE

Two new Boom! Studios reviews…

Reviewed by Avril Brown

IRREDEEMABLE 13-18
Written by Mark Waid and Illustrated by Peter Krause

I am overdue in covering my favorite BOOM! book, and holy comic book drama, Batman, has there been a lot going on in the recent issues of IRREDEEMABLE. In the last six issues of the Eisner award winning series IRREDEEMABLE has been loaded with startling character revelations, the continuing evolution of certain team members powers and several showdowns with the world’s most powerful psychopath.

After Bette Noir admitted to not only cheating on her husband with Tony (before he snapped), she also kept a piece of candle wax left over from the candle which removed Tony’s powers and kept it secret from the rest of the team, even after he killed nine million people. From here on out, Bette has become a whiney little bitch and my least favorite member of the Paradigm, moaning to whomever will listen how bad she feels about her affair and her silence. Her broken husband is a far more compelling character as readers are treated to a flashback into Gilgamos’s past which centers around a meeting of the minds with none other than Alexander the Great, and I hope we learn more about Gil’s origin and adventures.

Kaidan is becoming more complex and intriguing as she begins to rediscover the limits of her powers, which in turn leads to an exciting discovery that may inject new life into the Paradigm. Encouraged in her power exploration is Qubit, who naturally has several wildly different tricks, and secrets, up his sleeve. An example of the former was a nifty use of his teleporting device that foiled the assassination of Tony with the candle wax (fashioned into a bullet) by moving the projectile away from Tony’s heart and into Orion’s head, and then covertly into Qubit’s waiting palm. An example of the former was just revealed at the end of last issue, and one supposedly shining member of the Paradigm is shown to be an exceptional blackguard.

Orion, despite being a rather predictable villain, will be missed if only for his darkly humorous lines and touch of gore (I loved his method of bringing himself and Cary/Survivor back into Earth’s dimension), and the Paradigm are down one more member thanks to Modeus. The Plutonian’s greatest villain had been copping a squat in the animated corpse of Tony’s beloved sidekick Samsara, manipulating the insane super being for unknown reasons, until Tony reveals he knew all along Modeus was hiding in plain sight, and he also knows why Modeus has never tried to kill him: namely, Modeus is in love with The Plutonian.

This was is my only complaint in what has otherwise been one hell of a half year of storytelling, and my objections do not center around Modeus’s torch for The Plutonian, but rather around how Tony figured out what Modeus felt for him. Not too long before his breakdown Tony had finally gotten the drop on his enemy and found Modeus in a factory making life size versions of himself and caught a glimmer of emotion from the famously laconic villain. Later came to the conclusion Modeus was in love with him and the plant was manufacturing ‘sex robots.’ Though I have no personal objection to sex ’bots, after several issues of pulse-pounding action and emotional upheavals the concept of The Plutonian’s most dangerous enemy building Tony toys to satisfy his repressed sexual needs felt campy and out of place.

The sole blemish in an otherwise unbeatable series, IRREDEEMABLE has excellent forward momentum in these last several issues. The creative team of Mark Waid and Peter Krause continue to dazzle their audiences with Waid’s writing skills which keep readers on edge but not overwhelmed by the reoccurring revelations, and Krause’s impressive array of stunning spreads and kick-ass action sequences deliver a visual KO. Plus, Tony’s eyes seem to get crazier every issue. IRREDEEMABLE is still rocking some great storytelling, and I look forward to every future issue.

INCORRUPTIBLE 7-11
Written by Mark Waid and Illustrated by Horace Domingues and Mario Takara

On the other side of the IRREDEEMABLE coin is INCORRUPTIBLE, the story of Max Damage, super villain turned hero after witnessing The Plutonian’s wanton destruction, and things have not been going well for Max. He has lost his only familiar while gaining another unstable female for a friend, his only vulnerability is discovered and exploited by racist extremists and he has to travel to the wasteland of Sky City in order to get any answers.

Max’s former sidekick Terri a/k/a Jailbait left him after finally accepting he was never going to once again be the law-breaking bad-ass she fell in love with, but someone else quickly took Jailbait’s place at Max’s side: Annie, a young woman he recently rescued from a horrible situation. Annie is determined to enact revenge on the Diamond Gang, the group of racists who worship The Plutonian like he was Hitler, for the murder of her family. Only two weeks sin-sober, the last thing Max wanted to do is to take on another impressionable youth, but she saved his life after he promised to always protect her, and he intends to uphold his promise by any means necessary.

The new dynamic duo track down The Plutonian’s former girlfriend, the only one who knew how Max’s powers work and therefore when exactly he was vulnerable, to get an explanation why the Indian/American woman would be in bed with racial cleansers. Anna Patel had her own reasons for shacking up with prejudiced peons, and her confrontation with Max in the latest issue is one of my favorite scenes thus far in INCORRUPTIBLE, filled with drama and the right amount of humorous bite. Meanwhile, the true instigator of the recent rash of racial fervor gripping an entire group of survivors, has stepped up his game and has spearheaded a campaign to wipe out an entire city Plutonian-style and blame Max Damage for the bevy of bigots and the massive destruction. Armed with his steel-hard skin, a mental unsound assistant he loving dubbed ‘Headcase,’ and recent allies Patel and Lieutenant Armadale, Max Damage intends on saving Coalville and do everything he can to be a better man.

INCORRUPTIBLE has an extra entertaining aspect about it, injecting dry jokes in to the script at appropriate intervals. While IRREDEEMABLE started, and continues in a dark, apocalyptic world, INCORRUPTIBLE has the freedom of being set in the same world but carrying a more positive feel throughout the stories. While the Paradigm is on the defense, perpetually scrambling about the Earth trying to avoid getting killed by their former teammate while figuring out a way to stop him (not to mention all of the character drama tripping them up at every turn), Max Damage is consistently on the offense and has endless opportunities to practice his new sermon of upholding the law at any cost. The lighter tone of the book allows for Waid’s deprecating humor to fit well between the pages. Just as I was becoming more appreciative of Dominques’s artwork, new artist Mario Takara has taken over the latest issue, and while his work is undoubtedly attractive his softer lined version of Damage and Co. will take some getting used to. An enjoyable book for any fan of its big sister series, though the beauty of INCORRUPTIBLE is its ability to stand on its own.







ODD IS ON OUR SIDE

ODD IS ON OUR SIDE
Written by Fred Van Lente and Dean Koontz and Drawn by Queenie Chan
Published by Del Rey

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Halloween is coming in Pico Mundo, and Odd Thomas is about to have a busy holiday. The young fry cook, with his ability to see the dead, gets a visit from a dead child still wearing her costume, giving him a pervading sense of dread about the upcoming town-wide trick-or-treat festival. Aided by his gun-toting girlfriend Stormy and the ghost of Elvis, the clock is ticking for Odd to save the day… and the lives of dozens of children.

This is the second graphic novel prequel based on Koontz’ ODD THOMAS series, and much like the first one, this one grabs you by the lapels and sucks you in quickly. It isn’t so much the plot that captivates, but the characters- in Odd Thomas, Koontz has his finest creation. The boy has a perfect blend of charm, naïveté, and pluck, and his chemistry with Stormy is so much fun that you wouldn’t mind spending the entire book watching them drive around in a car and yapping with one another. We also get a new supporting character this time in the person of novelist Ozzie Boone, and he’s a complete hoot as well. The people are just fun, and if you can get that across to the reader, 90% of the battle is done.

Of course, they wouldn’t be as much fun if they weren’t drawn spectacularly well, and Queenie Chan delivers the good stuff on the page. The first book looked good, but it wasn’t always sure of itself. That isn’t the case here. Every page looks confident, and the characters have life that you can feel emanating from Chan’s linework.

If there is one thing to complain about as pertains to this book, it is that it shows (as the first graphic novel did) that the first ODD THOMAS novel’s ending was one of the worst mistakes that the author has ever made on the page. There was so much more to mine, so much more that could have been discovered, without the plot twist in the final ten pages. It made me swear off reading any of the rest of the prose works; but I will happily read as many more of these prequel graphic novels as Del Rey chooses to make.


GRAPHIC CLASSICS VOL.19: CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

GRAPHIC CLASSICS VOL.19: CHRISTMAS CLASSICS
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Graphic Classics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Santa Claus, Scrooge, Sherlock Holmes and a serial killer don’t really sound like they belong together under one cover, but as each one stars in a classic tale of Christmas literature, they go together surprisingly well in this latest edition of illustrated tales from the folks at Graphic Classics.

An anthology of this nature will rise or fall based upon the source material, and the material here comes from top-notch writers. Mark Twain, O Henry, Arthur Conan Doyle, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald… the table of contents looks like it belongs to a 300-level lit textbook instead of a graphic novel. That means that the pressure falls squarely on the adapting writer to parse out the story in such a way that allows the artist to bring maximum dynamism to the page. CHRISTMAS CLASSICS succeeds in doing so.

Sure, there are a couple of duds, but they fail mostly on the artistic end of the spectrum- style choices that don’t quite work being a primary issue. But for the writing end, the adapters get the story right and get out of the way. Indeed, of the four volumes I’ve seen in this series of books, this is easily the best to date. Just in time for the holidays, it should make a nifty stocking stuffer for readers young and old.

X’ED OUT

X’ED OUT
Written and Drawn by Charles Burns
Published by Pantheon Books

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Doug wakes up in the middle of the night to a particularly strange sight: Inky, the pet cat he long thought was dead, is staring at him through a hole in the brick wall of his bedroom. Throwing on his robe and slippers, Doug gives chase and finds himself in a strange world full of lizard creatures, strange rituals, and the creepiest eggs he’s ever seen or tasted. But is it real? There’s another Doug leading a wildly different existence. He’s a photography student, doing a project with Polaroids that leads him to a new relationship that will take over and define his life.

Whish life is real? Are they both?

Charles Burns isn’t about to tell you. Not yet, anyway.

X’ED OUT returns Burns to shelves with his first major project since the completion of his magnum opus, BLACK HOLE, and it’s certainly what you’d expect from him. Non-linear storytelling, disturbing imagery, disaffected youth, broken families, twisted sci-fi underpinnings… there isn’t a single moment when you don’t feel the creator challenging the reader. The book is one big dare, really: a dare to let loose of the easy habits that traditional comics breed in readers. Burns dares you to give him control, stop guessing, and just let him take you where he wants to go with the story. But you have to have the courage to do so.

Indeed, on first read, I felt… nothing. I was dismissive of the book and tossed it aside. The next day, I picked it up and read it again, and as I did, I felt it beginning to take hold of me. A couple of days after that, I gave it a third read, and I realized when I was done that Burns had me. I was fascinated by the world he had created here. I was locked in to see where it was going, and I wasn’t sweating over trying to anticipate his moves.

Forget 96-part crossovers- what truly makes for an “event comic” is when a master storyteller brings new work to the shelves. This over-sized hardcover assures that Burns’ return livens up the final quarter of 2010 in ways that Marvel and DC could never dream of. Highly recommended.


MANGA FOR THE BEGINNER SHOUJO

MANGA FOR THE BEGINNER: SHOUJO
Written and Drawn by Christopher Hart
Published by Watson-Guptill

Reviewed by Marc Mason

While the past couple of years have seen a decline in the overall sales of manga, interest in the form still runs high, particularly in the teen girl set. (Mine still loves it immensely and continues to work on drawing her own.) So I don’t have any trouble imagining that there’s a receptive market out there for books like this one.

I think it’s probably fair to say that Christopher Hart is the most prolific producer of hot-to books related to comics art, and I’ve had the opportunity to see a great many of them cross my desk. The quality has varied, as Hart’s own talents aren’t always well-suited to certain subject matters. However, SHOUJO seems to land right in Hart’s wheelhouse. This book offers up some very good advice and some effective ideas in how to create good characters.

The trick to a good manga, particularly a shoujo one, is in getting the characters’ ages and appearances right. For shoujo, the characters should be in the 13-17 range; developing as people, but not yet adults, thus not yet sexualized. The characters need to be attractive, but only in a cute way, and Hart does a good job here of emphasizing this. He also does provide examples of what the next age level up should look like, allowing the learner to see an example of what to avoid.

There is also some time spent on drawing characters performing basic activities, which is useful, but perhaps not as in-depth as it needs to be. Perhaps Hart is saving that material for a second edition meant for the intermediate manga-ka? Either way, for beginners, this serves as a reasonable and solid foundation.

ROGUE ELEMENT 64

Rogue Element #64: How Do I Love Bruce Willis? Let Me Count the Ways…

By Avril Brown

I want to be perfectly clear on this point so there is no room for doubt, nor any hint of confusion: I adore Bruce Willis. In my humble opinion, he is one of the most delectable men ever created by Nature and Hollywood, able to kick severe ass and set panties afire with his trademark smirk and gravelly voice. Bruce stars in several of my absolute, all-time favorite movies, and hair or shaved/bald he consistently hits quite a few of my sweet spots. In effect, he rocks. Therefore, in honor of his most recent release ‘Red,’ I will reflect upon this and other Bruce Willis projects which turned this smoking hot, beloved badass into my number one action hero.

RED (2010)
Based off of a DC comic book I had never heard of (then again, I have long professed to be a Marvel whore, so my ignorance is understandable), ‘Red’ stars a highly talented and eclectic cast which includes Helen Mirren as a former MI6 agent, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich (hysterical) and Willis as retired CIA black ops agents, Brian Cox as an employee of the KGB and Mary Louise-Parker plays Willis’s lady love. When I first saw the preview, the line up alone had me salivating and the snippets of the film looked promising to an action/adventure, shoot ‘em up, witty one-liner movie addict such as myself. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised when upon seeing ‘Red’ opening night with a friend (I was shocked and dismayed at the sparse occupancy at the theater that night, which meant good seats for us but a lack of support for my man) I discovered the film has a heavy dash of romance as well, which pleased me. When viewing this genre of movie I never hold any high expectations, thus when they get it right, as ‘Red’ did, I am thrilled and amazed at how much fun I just had watching this latest inductee to Avi’s Archive of Adored Action Flicks. The character chemistry is bubbling, the good vs. bad guy skirmishes deliver maximum carnage and the humor hits the mark. In addition, ‘Red’ never attempts to be something it is not and instead offers viewers exactly what they want when walking into such a film: a really good time.

THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997)
What can I say about ‘The Fifth Element’ I have not said before? Brilliant, fantastically fun movie that I feel compelled to watch every few months or so, especially with my father (who shares my admiration) in big screen, Blu-Ray shininess. The movie pushes all of my personal motion picture buttons, catapulting me into entertainment ecstasy. Chris Tucker is hysterical as a cross-dressing, loud-mouthed DJ, Ian Holm is a dedicated and unorthodox priest, while Bruce and Milla Jovovich are on fire with equally killer moves, outstanding outfits and general hotness. I do love a beautiful woman who packs a punch, and gorgeous, hard core heroines don’t come much more magnificent than Milla as Leeloo Dallas, Multi-Pass. Bruce, naturally, was amazing as well, pulling off confident military man and suitor/protector of Leeloo with his usual charm and wittiness. The special effects were stunning as was the general color scheme and wardrobe, making ‘Fifth Element’ a very pretty picture to observe as well and my favorite film ever.

PULP FICTION (1994)
Thanks to the intertwining plot format of Tarantino’s smash hit ‘Pulp Fiction,’ there are quite a few names that headline this movie, including Willis as Butch the boxer who screws L.A.’s premier gangster out of thousands of dollars by winning a fight he took a bribe to throw. Due to an unlucky chance encounter with said gangster, Marcellus Wallace, after the fact, Butch and Wallace both end up smashed to pieces before being kidnapped by serial rapists. Before the blood starts flowing, the audience is treated to an eyeful of everything Willis thanks to a loosely held towel during a shower scene with his French pixie girlfriend, which certainly gets my blood pumping. Though the last ten minutes of this section are likely the most disturbing in the movie, this sequence was also one of the most powerful as Butch makes an important decision not to leave his enemy to be anally raped by twisted rednecks, but to return to Wallace’s aid wielding a friggin’ samurai sword. Both men are irrevocably altered and though their future is uncertain, one thing fans of the movie know for sure is Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.

DIE HARD (1988)
“Yippie ki yay, motherfucker!” is a well-known rallying cry to the followers of John McClane, Bruce’s character in the ‘Die Hard’ series, the first of which launched his career as an action hero. Gotta love the classics, and ‘Die Hard’ is about as quintessential awesome ‘80s as you can get. From the hair and clothes to the German bad guys, plus the blowhard authority figures who never support the beleaguered hero, all the way around to a bad guy coming back to life only to be taken out by the PTSD cop who thought he could never raise a gun again. Alan Rickman is sharp as the refined brains of the operation, eager to show off his knowledge of men’s fashion and Times Magazine articles. As much as I adore Rickman who I find to be a consistent pleasure to watch on screen, no matter the role, the primary draw of ‘Die Hard’ is the bloody, battered yet perpetually smart-mouthed Officer McClane fighting an uphill battle against machine gun sporting thieves and a Deputy Douchebag who is very concerned about glass. McClane is clever, creative with his escape routes, can hit his mark (unlike everyone else, of course) and fights like an animal when cornered. Translation: HOT.

Though his multifarious resume includes roles where he never touched a gun, I will admit his underdog, reluctant hero characters are my favorite. A shout out must be given to his performance in ‘The Sixth Sense,’ which creeped the hell out of me when I first saw those damaged ghosts wandering about and where Bruce truly shines as the empathetic child psychologist. I have as yet to see ‘Unbreakable’ (shocking, I know; comic book nerd and Bruce Willis stalker? I should have seen this years ago) nor several of his other films, but I have seen enough to support my love and admiration of this talented, sexy beast of a champion. This is the man who broke white man baldness free from forbidden territory and onto the seductive side. There is nothing he cannot do, and I will be content in watching him do what he does best for as long as he can pull a trigger.

 

WARLORD OF MARS 1

WARLORD OF MARS #1
Written by Arvid Nelson and Drawn by Stephen Sadowski
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Reviewed by Marc Mason

The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs are considered to be almost holy by a certain segment of the geek population, which can make tackling any adaptation of the material a daunting prospect. After all, the fanbase can turn on you faster than the speed of thought. But this isn’t true for every nerdboy; take me, for instance. I have never read a single one of Burroughs’ books or stories. So whenever I come across adaptations of his work, I have only one horse in the race: is it any good on its own merits?

WARLORD OF MARS is a pretty solid start on its own merits.

I knew the basic idea behind John Carter, Warlord of Mars: human soldier of the 19th century is transported to Mars and becomes embroiled in the planet’s internal battles. Here we get a nice, slow beginning that addresses issues of character and depth right away. Carter was a Confederate soldier, and he is licking his wounds by heading off to Arizona for the gold rush. In the meantime, the Martian that will become his friend and closest ally is dealing with his own troubles, including a rival that lacks his sense of honor and compassion. The two do not meet here, nor does Carter find himself on the red planet, but we are underway at a pace befitting a novel, and Nelson smartly gives us enough material to make this an exciting and satisfying read even without those milestones occurring.

The book looks terrific as well. Sadowski is a veteran artist, a guy that knows what he’s doing, and it shows here. He is adept at portraying the old west, yet switches to two alien races warring without breaking a sweat. His work also has a nice level of detail, and more than once I stopped to take in the minute aspects of particular panels.

So, in short, this has my attention. Plus, if you are on the fence about it, Dynamite has made it easy to sample, opening up with a $1 price tag for this first issue. Recommended.