Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zuda Review Absolute Magnitude/ Their is plenty of room left in the space pirate genre of Sci-Fi

Another August Zuda review is Absolute Magnitude done by Robert Burke Richardson, Martin Morazzo, and chinadoll.Here is the synopsis: All Captain Pace and the crew of the Stormbrew want is to be allowed to hunt for treasure in peace. But Minister Zel and his SecuriZone forces are intent on catching them and burning their brains out. A little harsh, but then Zel knows that Captain Pace is secretly the rebelling heir to the SecuriZone royal family. A homecoming for Pace would mean big changes in the SecuriZone, like common people finally getting a fair shake, leading to the loss of Zel's wealth and position. Captain Pace has come to a planet with failing gravity in search of a gem made of pure light, one of the legendary Wandering Stars. But holding onto this priceless treasure may prove more difficult than acquiring it in the first place. Humans have colonized over half the galaxy, evolving different forms to cope with the various extreme environments in which they thrive. But no one has ever found signs of intelligent extra-terrestrial life. Not until now…

Firefly/Serenity isn't really a space western, it's really a pirate story set in space in the future, instead of the high seas a few hundred years in the past. Think about it: Group of rouges being chased by the authorities fly [sail] around to new exotic locales and met new friends and foes. Firefly wasn't the first, won't be the last, and theirs plenty of room left in the genre to be explored by Absolute Magnitude.

[After that short intermission on with the review]

Absolute Magnitude does everything well, but it didn't have that something special to hook me as a reader. The technical proficiency shown by all the creators was appreciated, but that alone couldn't hook me as a reader in 8 screens. I would have liked AM better if it had given more face time to the villains. The most interesting part of the comic for me happened on screen 1. Panel 1 reminded me of the famous eyes pried open reprogramming scene from A Clockwork Orange. Prisoners are hooked into spaceships and their brain power used to fly around space. Drive them two hard and their brains burn out, this is the fate planned for the Stormbrew crew by the lead villain Minster Zel. The letters are all very well done. Colors suit the story, and aid the art in clearly telling this tale. The dialogue and pace fit Zuda, and I already wanted to hear more of what Zel had to say from his comments on screen 1. When we get to the introduction of the Stormbrew crew it reminds me of G.I. Joe. The art was cool and nice dialogue exchange on screen 2. It also serves to reveal some interesting information about the setting of this comic. Screen 3 was a nice introduction to one of the characters Leria and a good reveal of every time she uses her 'powers' she gets a little closer to death. It was a nice touch that reminded me of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Unfortunately we get the 'Rigg' interlude on screen 4. I know it was probably meant to contain funny dialogue as a HAHA style set-up to impending doom -instead the character was just annoying. I hope the dead stay dead in the AM universe and Rigg is smoking like a penguin in a old Valiant comic. The bursts balloons on screen 5 looked like stars so a nice touch from chinadoll. Screen 6 was a great chance for a action shot, but the art looked too stiff considering the crew were trying to avoid being squashed. A good pace but aside from the opening screen I was wondering where that scene/screen was that made this comic stand out from the rest?

Congrats on the probable win, hope you surprise me with some cool twists and turns in the story

Screen 7 "always hated you" line and the tears were a nice touch, but the fact I don't know who the hell they are limited the scenes impact. I'm glad you wasted (I hope) Rigg, but why kill 2 characters this early on? Save some of those death scenes for later on in the story when readers might miss a character that's killed off. We end on a death scene (Stormbrew logo visible was a nice touch) and more stiff looking running from other characters. If you have a team of characters 8 screens isn't enough to get inside their heads are really know them. The story then becomes more dependent on a big cliff hanger - bigger explosions help. The last few screens would of have some real punch if readers had any real knowledge/connection to the characters. Readers didn't have the twenty/thirty screens of build-up to give this cliff hanger any real weight. Not being familiar/invested with characters in a story turns what should be jaw dropping deaths into a yawn fest. Their wasn't enough big action scenes to make up for the lack of characterization on the heroes. This resulted in a very professionally done average read. Absolute Magnitude does have all kinds of possibilities for future directions. The comic just didn't do anything different enough to stand out considering some of this months competition. I'm hoping to be more impressed with the work once it starts updating. Loosen up the art for action scenes, continue to kick ass on colors and letters, and show more of the villain he's the most interesting of the lot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zuda review A Stinking Corpse/ a foul and funky (in a good way) read

A Stinking Corpse is another August Zuda comic done by Zuda vet Furman. The art is fantastic, I enjoyed the story more than most, and that's why it got a favorite from me. Here is the synopsis: In his mist shrouded past, he fell defending Southern Britannia from the Roman Army... In what passed for Britannia's army, he had raped and pillaged at will, spreading his funky and foul seed from woman to woman with no regrets. Did he die of a sexual disease or had age slowed him down to fall under the stroke of a short sword? Perhaps both. He died (that at least we know) for five days and then was born again, as A Stinking Corpse'. Cursed by the goddess who resurrected him, to wander the land until the day he found a woman to love him, despite his grotesque form. He is now driven to right the wrongs he had done in life, until that day when he finds true love...

Hyper-realism in a fantasy/horror comic kicks the shit out of just about everything else

I loved all of the details in the art that assault a readers eyes in this comic. The photo-realistic thing isn't for everyone, but the art worked as the opposite of reader expectations -the anti-Sláine considering the story setting. The synopsis sounds like ad copy for a grind house film and the opening screen of the comic is a massive brawl with wolf-men. Furman doesn't get the writing credit he deserves with this comic. I noticed all the text box thought balloons which put me on my guard, turns out Furman came up with some fine crafted wordage to fill them. Their were a few issues with pacing/sequence that hit early on. On screen 2 Furman tried to chop up one larger picture into three panels to show the passage of time. It's a good old trick, but it wasn't quite pulled off because the panel gutters were two slim. It made the page look weird and distracted this reader out of the story. "The scent of blood and love sacrificed had drawn me here from many miles away. I thirst for those things as a living corpse, especially in combination." I thought those were some fantastic lines in the comic, maybe not for everyone, but I thought it was great. Screen 3 is a busy screen with a lot going on to take in. It also shows a acceptance on Zuda's part for more violence (yippee human sacrifice) and nudity (look at the poor dead girls asses) in their submissions. I think a lot of creators struggle with trying to pull off one of two main options in their art: The first is to do things just enough that folks get the idea -but no more. A surgeon's style soft touch that opens viewers/readers eyes up to what's really going on in a story slowly. It also sets the limit on just how bad (for the characters) things can get. The other approach is to burn reader's eyes out of their fucking skull. Meaning the narrative choices do hit you right between the eyes, and a reader realizes quickly any/every character can die -horribly. The amazing visual assault in this comic's screens let you know Furman isn't easing readers into anything. You don't have to have a appreciation of Eli Roth/Rob Zombie to enjoy this comic -but it helps. Clunky dialogue is a problem that comes up for everyone A Stinking Corpse is no exception. "Ancient one, I have called you by right of blood sacrifice." [that part's good it sets up the conflict well] "My own daughters cut, their flesh peeled back to gain your favor." [that dialogue sounds tortured why cut instead of dead? We see a sword in hand the method of their death is pretty obvious.] Screen 5 is back to well written words, and in your face art. A depiction of the dead daughters with blood, hair, and choice camera angles doing the nipple obscuring. Cutting out the eyes to bind the Corpse sort of brings home my point about the art not playing coy. A problem throughout this comic is panel gutters too small, with the detail involved you'd want readers to savor it, those skinny panel borders are a subconscious clue to speed read. Screen 6 had some good dialogue in some funky panel balloons, but the sequence of shots (we are exposed... cue the dead daughters), and the explanation of the ritual was very well done.

A Stinking Corpse is a accurate but completely unappealing name, which doesn't do this fine read justice

The punch line at the end of this comic was well set up, and pretty damn funny considering the subject matter. In screen 7 The Druid goes to command the Corpse, and the Corpse refuses him. Needless to say since he had just sacrificed his two daughters the Druid is more than a little put out over this. As it turns out the Corpse was just fucking with him. Of course once the Druid realizes this he swears to get his revenge on the Corpse after his job is done. The Corpse then sets out to slay the Druid's invader enemies and leaves with these words: "Damn Druids, no sense of humor." That last line has got some critical comments saying the Corpse's dialogue was too modern. It's a fair point. If the twist at the end is the Corpse survives into modern times and is just retelling the story in current vernacular the Corpse picked up it makes sense and is cool. If the Corpse is just a product of his times some dialogue tweaking to make his speech more archaic would be in order. The gray scale color choice fits this comic very appropriately. Art amazing, and words better than Furman has been given credit for. A Stinking Corpse was the comic with the second worst title in Zuda this month, and my second favorite read. Sooner, or later Furman will win at Zuda his submissions keep improving in quality. As far as A Stinking Corpse goes try a submission to Heavy Metal. I would much rather read this comic (with a new title) than Carl the cat that makes peanut butter sandwiches in that magazine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Have you been reading Over by Tyler James?

I'm a fan of Tyler James work (he's a busy man with a number of comic reading options to choose from), and here on the blog is chapter one of his Comic Over -which I reviewed here. It's a romantic comedy that will make you laugh, and care about the fates of the characters involved. The characterization is good enough James could make even the most heartless bastard care about Felix's plight. That's talent, that's Tyler James. Also if you have a trip to the Boston Comic Book and Toy Spectacular on your mind you should head on over (bad pun alert) to his blog and see the deal he has for you. Now here's the first chapter of Over for your reading enjoyment:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds review/ Once upon a time their was a film review with plenty of spoilers -you've been warned

Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino's latest film here's the synopsis: "Inglourious Basterds" (sic) begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds" Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own...

It's not QT's spaghetti-western set in WW II, it's more of a action/dramedy
I read the script that was posted on-line, and no surprise the final film had a number of changes. The character that most exemplifies this is "the Bear Jew" Donny Donowitz played by Eli Roth. In the script he's more scary than funny, especially in the scenes (cut from the film) talking to an old woman about his baseball bat. He asks her if she has any relatives in Europe she's worried about to sign their name to his bat. Her great line was "Hand me your sword Gideon. I do believe I will join you on this journey." It gives his character a more serious context and depth than what we got on screen. Instead in the film after bashing in Nazi number one's head will a bat, he goes off on a baseball rant. It was a funny scene, but didn't jibe with the spaghetti-western vibe QT was supposedly going for. When we see Hitler some officers of his discuss 'The Bear Jew', and how some suspect he is a golem created by a vengeful rabbi -which of course Hitler doesn't take well. The thematic difference between a human avenger, who is feared to be supernatural creature of vengeance, and a maniacal baseball fan smashing heads in is considerable. Maybe, QT wanted to show the difference between the Nazi myth and the real man as a twist to the story. I don't believe that though. I think he was too brutal when he cut The bear Jew's back story and ended up with a comedic scene of brain bashing, instead of a disturbingly horrific one. It was the first step in turning a gritty WW II script into a action/comedy on the screen. Tarantino has said he's saving the scene for a prequel, but what about the Vega brothers movie, or the Kill Bill anime cartoons? That prequel will probably never arrive. Another thing that was cut early on is Samuel Jackson as the narrator's explanation of the Nazi who got his head bashed in instead of rat out his fellow Nazi's. The Nazi felt in the other world the 'gods' respect only the ones they test first, and wanted his dignity to be buried with him. The scene the way it was in the script can be seen in the short comic book story here. Mention religion whether Jewish faith, or Nazi occultism gets things damn serious, damn fast. As it was this movie had the whole audience in the theater laughing out loud repeatedly after the first tense moments of Shosanna's story. The serious start didn't hold up because all the Inglourious Basterds are such good comic relief, especially Brad Pitt as the movie went on he had people damn near rolling in the aisles -me included. Aside from the character of 'The bear Jew' the part of the story most affected by being dropped from the script is the ending. Not the revenge of the giant face with the movie theater going up in flames, Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna was scary as hell in her performance. I'm talking about the difference between suicide bombers and planting a bomb. Also, the two threads of this movie Shosanna's revenge/ Inglourious Basterds were never connected in the final film. In the script it was made obvious that 'Bear Jew' and Omar (another Basterd) were going to plant some dynamite and then get the hell out of dodge. In the script Omar gets caught in a tidal wave of people trying to escape the fire and the explosives go off. The Bear Jew (Eli Roth), planted his bomb in the bathroom, then got killed in a shootout with a Nazi who the Basterds had earlier carved a swastika into his head. Not to have some random nazi show up at the end of the movie avoided a little too many coincidences. In the film the two Basterds aren't shown taking off their bombs so you figure their suicide bombers. The real star of the film Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa 'the Jew hunter' had earlier planted a bomb in Hitler's box. With the two Basterds having a amusing little exchange before they rushed the box of the high command and started shooting everyone. The humor lessened the impact of those two blowing themselves up, and since Landa also planted a bomb in there, their is no way to know if either of the Basterds dropped the bomb off somewhere along the way, you just see an explosion that could have been any, or all of the bombs. It just changed the feel of the big finale. In the script Shosanna leads the two Basterds to their seats in the cinema, and has one of those mournful looks with Omar since each knows the other is going to die that night. In the film they never meet, you have the Basterd bombers, and then you have Shosanna and Marcel burning down the theater. The connection being made between the two stories was really missed by me in the film. Even with Shosanna being scary as hell as the face of Jewish vengeance, that was lessened by the comedic end of the movie With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, and their two sidekicks in the film. The Nazi side kick gets shot, and Pitt's character Aldo carves a swastika into Landa's head commenting "I think this just might be my masterpiece." It ended with laughs from the audience I was in, as well as applause.The film would have been better with another twenty minutes of running time. It wasn't bad it was a funny action comedy -I laughed a lot- but I think I would have enjoyed a longer, gritter, serious subtext, film more.

No Shit it didn't happen that way in real life, this ain't Saving Private Ryan

One of the big complaints I see critics make who just don't get it is a 'lack of realism' in the movie. World War II in real life doesn't end with Hitler and the whole high command being shot, blown up, and burned to death at the movies. This isn't the real WW II, this is the way World War II ended in Tarantino's fictional film universe. Before the Vega brothers finally dropped out of school in history class they learned about Hitler being killed in a theater in France by a Jewish commando team. I'm surprised Tarantino doesn't just come out and say one of the characters in this film is the grandfather of one of his other characters in a previous film to put the critics to rest. QT talked about wanting to build the suspense as a rubber band you just keep stretching and stretching until it breaks. The suspense is great in the film, but the laughs drown it out. Instead of the comedy being a cathartic release from all the tension, the suspense scenes served as a break to keep your sides from splitting in laughter. QT's foot fetish again makes it self known, but in this film it is a major element of the plot. Think if Cinderella's foot matches the slipper she gets choked to death instead of hitched. That leads to the death of the Bridget von Hammersmark at the hands of Hans Landa. Christoph Waltz as Landa absolutely stole the film in his portrayal. He's everything you could want a villain to be from the first time you see him on screen, he describes himself as a detective and even has a pipe like Sherlock Holmes. His murder of von Hammersmark showed that he wasn't afraid to get blood on his hands literally, instead of just calling in some Nazi's to do his killing for him. You wondered as you watched the film was Landa just a scheming, plotting, charming brain, or just waiting for the right chance to show he was a Nazi monster of action. After the 'if the shoe fits' scene where he killed with his bare hands viewers had their answer. I don't know if Waltz will get a Oscar for playing Hans Landa, I just know he deserves it. Thinking about Leonardo DiCaprio (who wanted it) in the Landa role should scare anyone shitless. Brad Pitt's fantastic comedic performance especially towards the end when he's playing a redneck Jewish/Native American U.S. solider pretending to be a Italian. Just the way he says grazie over and over again is hilarious. Also his dialogue after a bar fight 'a Mexican stand off is not trust, no trust no deal' is worthy of Steve Zhan at his best. QT give him some of the funniest lines in the film, and Pitt didn't disappoint. Being a Tennessean I know he did a pretty good job on his accent as well. I went in expecting a fairly serious bloodbath broken up by some humor (thanks to the script) instead I got a comedy broken up by some suspense filled moments. I still recommend the film because it made me laugh and had some cool 'showdown' moments. Just remember it's a fantastic action/dramedy, not a spaghetti-western, set in World War II.