Sunday, April 17, 2011

Punisher Vs. Bullseye

    Welcome to Comical-Musings, your place for relatively unbiased opinions and terribly honest reviews.  If you read my last post you are lucky to have seen our first negative comic book review post EVER.  Yay!  We ripped Avengers: The Origin up and down, but don't worry, it deserved it...
    If you are the type that prefers to err on that negativity, then today's post is not for you.  Punisher Vs. Bullseye is AWESOME.  The action is over the top, the gore is relatively discreet, the wit is quick, and the plot is rich.  If you like a little action with your humor, this 5 issue series is a must read for you.  This comic is just like a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon.  Bullseye is the coyote, setting traps and trying to catch that protagonist, the Punisher.  The crazy plot and dysfunctional supporting cast makes for a perfect storm of fun.
    The Punisher is a character that wants to single-handedly end organized crime.  He kills mobsters without remorse.  He will use anything at his disposal to end the lives of those who would oppress in the name of power.  Frank Castle was a decorated soldier in Vietnam.  He was highly trained in the art of death.  His family members were killed by the mob, leaving him with nothing more than a mild death wish and a mission.  The Punisher also shoots to kill.  Captain America might incapacitate you by throwing his shield at you, but the Punisher would just as soon save time and put a bullet in you.  The interesting thing about the Punisher is that somehow, through trails of dead bodies, he maintains his morality.  He is like a twisted garbage man, removing the wastes of society.  If you and he are on opposite sides, chances are good that you deserved death anyways.  A good Punisher story always has a good villain and a heavy body count.  Punisher Vs. Bullseye is no different.
    Punisher and Bullseye features the two aforementioned characters prominently, but truthfully, Bullseye steals the show.  The incredibly dark and seriously homicidal Bullseye is the perfect foil for the violently unstoppable force of the Punisher.  Bullseye kills without remorse, but his body count is often mostly made up of civilians.  He's not afraid to "waste" bystanders in an effort to accomplish his goals.  His goals are usually driven by financial gain.  His skill set is bounty hunting, extortion, murder, and general dirty deeds.  His power is marksmanship to a perfect degree with nearly anything.  The first person that he kills in the comic is executed by a quarter thrown from the top of a skyscraper, while he sadistically watches through the telescope.  Killing people comes easy to him and that's what makes his fight against the Punisher so interesting.  The Punisher is unstoppable.  Noses are broken, blood is shed, and buildings destroyed in this knock down drag out fight that stretches across 5 issues.  Bullseye is a humorous, murderous, and ambitious villain with his eyes on all the prizes that this comic has to offer.  Mobsters are pawns for him.  He is written perfectly in this series.
    This comic is FLAWLESS.  Go buy it, beg for it, steal it...just READ IT.  It is a little on the mature side, but nothing that will curl your hair or anything.  Every single person in the comic seems to have buck-teeth, but it is forgiven for everything else.

~ Scott Deaux ~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Avengers: The Origin....Good, or Not Good?



    Welcome everyone to Comical-Musings!  So...today, I will be discussing the 5 part series "Avengers: The Origin," written by Joe Casey and drawn by Philip J. Noto.  This comic book is interesting.  It's a re-telling of the beginning of The Avengers.  I really thought the old school looking art, especially the heroes, was very well done.  It is a re-vamp and I am usually the first one on board with anything like that (see my obsession with the Ultimate Books).  The funny thing is that although this is a decent origin story, I kinda felt that it was like a bearded lady.  I mean it was pretty and sweet like Bea, the "bearded woman heroine/female companion of the Hulk," was in this story, but there was something slightly odd and a little off-putting about it.  I mean, a bearded woman is a lady...with a beard.  This comic book is a re-vamp story with no intrigue or punch.  Rick Jones, longtime teenage companion of the Hulk, is a hacker with a group of hacking buddies.  It tries to be relevant, but when they pull guns, it looks like a bad allusion to Pineapple Express.  Everything it tries to do is shallow.  They even try to tug at heartstrings with the aforementioned relationship between Hulk and this circus performer, but it feels cheap and fake and forced.  It's for that reason that I think it misses the mark.  Even though it read very smoothly, it was barely even entertaining.  Even though every single location that they use in the book are cool places that I have been and could even recognize.  Even though the Thor and Loki dialogue is written REALLY well, Old English and all.  Even though I prefer Tony Stark's old armor and the scene where Hulk punches him in the face, it ends up

kinda' like a woman...with a beard.  Just a little weird and off-putting.  They defeat Loki, God of Mischief by trapping him in a missile silo.  They trap a god ... in a silo.  Diseased.  The Hulk talks in perfect English with a tiny bit of slang to it, but then acts like a maniacal animal.  Stupid.  The Hulk joins the circus where they dress him up as a robot and have him pick up cages full of tigers so he can hide out from the authorities.  Weak.  The whole thing was just weak, stupid, and ultimately diseased.  The amount of reaching that occurs would make Stretch Armstrong blush.  For every good thing, there are two bad.  It wasn't a terrible read, but I feel like you would have to REALLY like the Avengers to like this.  I encourage people to "Read on!" weekly, but you might skip this one.  It seems like the writer even knew that his work was tragically unpleasant.  It's seen here, echoed in the words of Bea, the bearded woman...

"My God...! P-please..stop..it..wasn't supposed to be like this..NO..!"




~ Scott Deaux ~

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Axe Cop and the Joy That Is Being Young

ATTENTION: This blog is much easier reading if you have read my previous post.  You can do so here: http://comical-musings.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-subject-of-onomatopoeia.html


    Greetings and welcome to Comical-Musings.  If this is your first time, I'm happy that you came to get my take on comic book culture.  I would also love to hear your opinions in the comment section.  If this is a return visit, I am happy that you stopped by again to view my blog.  So happy in fact that it over-rules how very upset I am that I just accidentally deleted this entire post.  Not kidding.  I had 5 paragraphs written, but I hit "undo."  How very silly/stupid of me?  Well anyways, instead of chopping my computer into little bits, I will just find solace in re-composing my previous work.
    One thing that I want you all to be very aware of is the fact that you CAN read these comic books.  You don't have to just read ABOUT them.  The source materials are available in many different forms that I can tell you all about if you just ask.  One such way to get a hold of comic books is Things From Another World.  I really want to spotlight their website TFAW.com.  They sell nick/dent books for nearly 40-50% off of original prices.  They have a great selection of items for sale as well.  My favorite thing that they do is "Grab Bags."  A trade paperback is a collection of one whole story (usually 5-8 comic books) bound into one book.  Trade paperbacks are a superior way to read comics as you don't have to keep up with individual issues.  The grab bag offer to you the consumer is that you just pick your favorite publisher (I.E. Dc, Marvel, Dark Horse...) and then they charge you $3 a trade paperback for a random selection.  The typical sale price for trade paperbacks is $15-$20.  This is obviously a great savings and there is a "fun factor" to getting random comics if you don't already have a sizable library that could create the fear of getting doubles.  I tell you all of this to promote the industry, but also because the comic that we will discuss today is only available online or in comic stores.
    My friends, Joseph Higgins and Marshal Blessing, have been telling me about Axe Cop for about a month now.  It sounded mildly interesting, but seemed trendy.  I wasn't all that interested in checking it out, but when I finally read it, I was surprised by what the pages contained.
    Last Wednesday, I had been having a long conversation with a friend about the end of the world, food shortages, gas prices, guns, rioting, and the like.  Many of you may not know this about me, but thinking about these things often causes me to become a little obsessive and a lot depressed.  I get caught on terrible thoughts of my children dying from starvation, murder, or disaster.  I can't stop thinking about horrible images that you might see in a book like "The Road" by Cormac Mccarthy and begin to descend into my dark place.  Once there, it is hard to get me out as conversations that you have with me might be met with short answers and empty stares.  The cruelty of men and the entropy all around us is no laughing matter and when I get like this I cannot shake it.  So I sat alone like this in my dark place, in my mother's house last Wednesday.  My wife and children were far away from any protection I might offer them and any joy that they might offer me in Idaho.  Marshal tried to joke with me, but I was alone in my thoughts.
    I began to indulge the one luxury that I am allowed by the fact that my children aren't around and that is to read comics.  My children usually won't leave me alone while I read and they tear pages or unplug my computer incessantly.  I decided to read Axe Cop on a whim and it was exactly what I needed.
    Axe Cop is a comic book created by a seven year old little boy name Malachai Nicolle and his brother Ethan Nicolle, a 29 year old professional artist.  It is a chaotic world where plot lines weave in and out of reality.  It is a place where things don't have to make sense as long as they are fun.  Dinosaurs, aliens, heroes made of socks, villains, ghost knights, it's all there.  To put it succinctly, it is one of the purest/most entertaining things that I have ever come into contact with in my entire life.  The plot lines are long winded.  The characters are rich.  The stories are like roller coaster rides that you don't want to get off of.  For example, in the world of Axe Cop, when you get another creature's blood on you, you transform (at least partially) into it.  So, if I hit a squirrel with my car and some blood got on me, BAM!  I would have a tail, climbing abilities, fur, the lot.  This is the silliness that permeates each volume.  Is it childish?  Yes.  Is it weird?  Yes.  It's also sweet and innocent, which is a stark contrast to the comics of our day.  It's a shocking contrast to the villain, Onomatopoeia, that we discussed in my last post.


    I find myself wondering: what if worlds collided?  What if Axe Cop met Onomatopoeia?  It is certainly possible that they would meet as Onomatopoeia's modus operandi is to murder non-super powered vigilantes.  What would happen?
    In Onomatopoeia's world, he would probably kidnap Dinosaur Soldier (Axe Cop's sidekick) and gut him slow in a dark alley of Gotham City to draw Axe Cop out.  He would have killed Uni-man (a genius on Axe Cop's team who can wish for things to happen with his unicorn horn) days before and cut his horn off.  Axe Cop would run down that abandoned, dark alley to try to save Dinosaur Soldier and stop him from bleeding out.  A tear would fall from his eye as he is sickened by the pained vision of his friend suffering.  Right as Axe Cop got maybe 6 feet away from his dying companion and emotions took over, Onomatopoeia would erupt from the shadows to stab Axe Cop in the heart with the unicorn horn.  The precision and force from the blow would take Axe Cop from his feet and he would lie instantly dead in a pool of blood.  Onomatopoeia would remove Axe Cop's aviator sunglasses and slip back into normal suburban life.  Three vigilante heroes killed, one trophy taken.


    In Axe Cop's world, Onomatopoeia would be at some sort of Bad Guy Cafe having lunch.  Axe Cop would go into the restaurant to order a pastrami on rye and notice Onomatopoeia in the corner.  Axe Cop would walk over and pull the golden axe from his face (see Axe Cop #32) and cut Onomatopoeia's head off. Some of Onomatopoeia's blood would splash onto Axe Cop and his costume would magically change in a roar of sound to look more like Onomatopoeia.  Onomato Cop would look down at his costume and simply say the word "magic," just as Sockarang swoops in and says "your costume sucks."
    The stark contrast is amusing.  It really makes you consider entertainment and whether violent, stylized, and cold-blooded can trump clever and amusing.  If you look at the pure joy that is given by young Malachai's writing as opposed to the jaded, biting, adult humor and action that Kevin Smith presents, the answer is clear.  We see two moral/intellectual sides of the coin in these two books.  Both have their place.  One makes you excited and the other just makes you feel good.  I encourage everyone to read Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth which is on stands now or check out the blog posts at www.axecop.com.  It is very funny and reasonably priced.  The Kevin Smith runs on Green Arrow and Batman can be found in back issue bins or at Barnes and Noble for your reading pleasure.  Read on!

~ Scott Deaux ~

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New-ish Green Lantern footage from Wondercon

Look at this Green Lantern footage from Wondercon and tell me what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaP7hnU5US0

My thoughts, "Bluescreen the Movie."

I'll still watch it.

I'm a hypocrite..... 

This is actually a plug for another blog, but....

My friend Mark showed me this blog a while ago, but I only just read it today and the comic book humor is funny about 3 out of 5 issues.  That to me is worth sharing.  You might love it too.

http://www.the-gutters.com

On the subject of Onomatopoeia

    Greetings everyone and welcome back to Comical-Musings.  Sorry that I haven't posted in awhile, but I've been in Idaho and unable to read or comment upon what was read.  I had also gotten in to reading Batman: Streets of Gotham and due to it's somewhat erratic nature and long story arcs with plot lines that go through multiple arcs, it was difficult to review for you as I was not sure where to begin and end.  So, while entertaining to me, it did not provide easy access for you.  I also just read Batman: The Widening Gyre Vol. 1 and found it to be riveting.  Problem being that what is riveting about it is the secret end and then thinking back on all you have read with that in your knowledge.  So, there goes that review too.  So where else will I get a good idea to write about?
    Pastor Kevin Burgess is the pastor at my church and, in his sermon yesterday, introduced a concept that made me think a great deal.  He brought up how de-sensitized we all are to feeling anything at all.  His position was that we need to be shocked to feel anything.  I was taken aback by such an accusation, but then he proved his point with examples from the media.  Profane comedy, ultra-violent action, and steamy dramas dominate box offices and television screens.  This makes people like Zach Snyder, Tarantino, and Kevin Smith widely famous.  Kevin Smith is a point of interest because he writes comics too.
    Kevin Smith has written many different comics across the wide spectrum of publishers.  He wrote Green Arrow: Sounds of Violence, Batman: Cacophony, and Green Arrow: Shiver for D.C. Comics and Daredevil: Guardian Devil, Spiderman/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, and others for Marvel Comics.  All of these comics have a somewhat adult edge to them.  Grown up jokes are made that I, as a married person on my way to thirty, understand and can chuckle at or disregard if too inappropriate.  Relationships and dialogue between characters also seems to be more realistic.  Not so much as to drop F-Bombs and force the issues he writes to be put on top shelfs at comic stores, but they do go there from time to time.  Especially in the realm of violence.  In a Kevin Smith created comic, it is not unusual to see a villain chop somebody up or someone throw up violently after being kicked.  This is obviously not great imagery to pour into our brains, but the way it's presented makes the comic feel more real.  It makes you develop real concern for characters and almost a more honest view of these personalities.  Truthfully, it doesn't come across as superfluous.  I know that what happens in the comic is intense, but that intensity is compelling.  Compelling is a good word to describe Onomatopoeia.


    Onomatopoeia is a character created by Smith himself.  He wears a simple costume with a black duster, black gloves, black boots, and a full-head black mask with a blue target emblazoned on it.  He carries a pistol or two and a large knife.  He has an odd tick in the fact that he says the sounds that he hears.  He has an almost third person view of the comic itself, saying the sound effects that are written on the page and due to this has been compared to Deadpool (which is hilarious, because he is a silent character and Deadpool will not shut up).  So if Onomatopoeia were to fight someone he would casually say "bang, bang, bang," as he shot at them or if he breaks a bone, he might say "crack."  This gives him a very creepy vibe.  As he operates in silence and then only utters a sound casually as terrible things happen.  Often he will utter "sssssllllllliiiiiittttt" as he cuts someone's throat.  Graphic, but the character's weird personality makes it interesting.  This character is greatness and he is as mysterious and intriguing as his unknown motivation for killing non-powered, costumed vigilantes.  He gets shot by Green Arrow 6 times and just walks away, so he must be impervious to pain.  They go to extra lengths to up his creepiness in Cacophony, when you find out his secret alter ego.  Just an incredibly well written character that highlights what I'm looking for in a villain.
    They say that it's always a good idea to play to your audience when you make a scary movie.  People create and release movies that contain secret undertones that highlight the over-arching fears in the culture.  When studios re-released War of the Worlds, they said that it was incredibly successful due to the fact that alien invasion was more palpable when people were already feeling like outside forces now had access to their safety.  I think that that is the reason that I love Onomatopoeia.  He is indiscriminate while he accomplishes his goals.  He will shoot and maim, anyone he needs to, on his path to getting the cape that he is trying to kill.  If he is injured, no matter the injury, he is dauntless to strive on towards the death of his enemy.  This heartless, fearless, and impervious nature terrifies me.  When I have nightmares, the villains in them are often similar.  They are cold, faceless, and unaffected by even my best efforts to stop them.  It's like he was created from my fears, but that is also why I can't look away.  Perhaps it is this, that captivates me.
    Whether it is the shock value of his deeds or a sense of my own personal fears, I love this villain.  I eat up the story lines and almost find a sick sense of humor in how he is written.  Maybe it's a big mixture of all of it, but I'm hooked.  I guess that I shouldn't feel too bad considering IGN's Daniel Crown called him "one of the coolest new villains of the decade."  Once, when I was a child, Brian Jacques (The writer of the Redwall series) told me that "to have a REALLY good story you need to have a gallant hero and your baddies have to be REAL BADDIES <evil voice>!"  I guess that his words ring true across mediums as Onomatopoeia may be one of the worst/best of them all.


~ Scott Deaux ~