Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Dark Knight Returns Retrospective

The Dark Knight Returns 1 Cover

Wednesday (11/25/15) the first issue of Dark Knight III: The Master Race was released in comic book stores and digitally so you’ve probably seen a flood of articles and podcasts talking about Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series.  This has left me at an impasse, on one hand The Dark Knight Returns is something that has been covered hundreds of times by others more eloquently than myself.  However, the Dark Knight Returns is not only my favorite comic, but also my favorite book of all time so I don’t really want to let the release of it’s newest installment pass without saying something.

I don’t want to recap the story and plot of The Dark Knight Returns.  It is extremely accessible to get the trade paperback, digital, and even as an animated film.  It’s been around since 1986 so if you haven’t read the story already, it’s on you at this point.  So what I would like to do is to break down three of my favorite scenes and themes from the story and try to explain why I like it so much.

Dark Knight Returns 1 - Page 1

That the tragedy of Bruce’s parents dying being the driving force for him to become the Batman is not a new concept.  However, its generally seen as an active driving force in that Batman is actively fighting crime.  Since the threat is current and active we can still assume if things cleaned up in Gotham that Batman could quit.  The Dark Knight Returns shows just how much Bruce needs to be Batman by showing how empty his life is without it.  Bruce has been retired for 10 years and could not be more miserable.  The opening pages has Bruce thrill-seeking at a Formula 1 race contemplating ending it all right then and there.  Bruce hasn’t found anyone to settle down with or tried to start a new life in retirement, he’s isolated himself and allowed himself to stew in his anger at not being Batman.  The biggest reoccurring themes in this story is Bruce looking for a good death.  You get the feeling that he had always intended to die in the line of duty and that retirement was never in his plans.  He is the ultimate career soldier.  He has lived every day of his life since his parents died preparing and being the Batman so when he was forced to give that up there was nothing left for him to go back to.

The Dark Knight 2 - Fight

The inner dialogue in the Dark Knight Returns is one of my favorite aspects of the book.  When Batman fights the Mutant leader (the second time) it looks like a normal brawl brawl on the outside.  But hearing Batman’s thoughts you see just how much planning and thought is put into every action he performs.  Every punch is strategic and executed with surgical precision.  Having the fight in the mud pit, luring the leader out in front of his followers, cutting his forehead right above the eyes.  Every action has a purpose and every contingency is accounted for.  This is Batman at his most Batman.  We love the character because he has plan for everything and back up plans for his back up plans.  The Dark Knight Returns showcases his skills in a way that is smart, entertaining, and practical which set the standard for the character.

The Dark Knight 1 - Jason Todd

I can’t think of another character that has had a rougher treatment than Jason Todd.  A lot of backlash came when Kyle Rainer found his girlfriend’s dead body chopped up and left in a refrigerator, but it pales in comparison to DC Comics setting up a 1-900 call in number to decided the life/death of Jason Todd.  The Dark Knight Returns turned a publicity stunt from DC Comics into one of the defining events of Batman’s life.  My single favorite moment in the story is when Batman is alone in the Batcave looking at Jason’s costume and says never again.  It doesn’t explicitly say what happened but it is able to convoy all the emotion and meaning with a minimal words and a few panels.  It’s hard to say that for certain that the impact of Jason’s death in The Dark Knight Returns was the reason that Jason Todd stayed dead in the comics for as long as he did, but I like to think they are connected.

Dark Knight Sale

If you still haven’t read The Dark Knight Returns Comixology is having a sale and you can get it now for as little as $3.96 (each of the individual issues for $0.99) or collected for $6.99 right now so there are no excuses.  I also highly recommend the DC Comics Original Animated Film.  It is as faithful to the source as humanly possible and more or less uses the comic pages as story boards. You don’t get the inner dialogue as you would with the comic but it is still a fantastic film.

Comic Block October 2015

Comic Block Web Clipping

It’s that time of the month again, well it was three weeks ago but I’m just getting in to writing this now.  Let’s start off with the glamour shot of everything in the box.

Comic Block 6 - Full 2

Here’s the rundown of everything inside:

  • Heroes: Vengeance 1 from Titan Comics (Comic Block Exclusive Variant)
  • Back to the Future 1 from IDW (Nerd Block Exclusive Variant)
  • Lara Croft Frozen Omen 1 from Dark Horse (Comic Block Exclusive Variant)
  • Spawn T-Shirt
  • Venom Art Print

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Still no sign of the allusive graphic novel but every issue in this month’s box was a exclusive variant cover.  Here is a look at the art print, it’s probably my favorite of these types so far, I just wish they had listed who the artist was on the preview card.

Venom Art Print

Heroes: Vengeance 1

Heroes Vengeance 1 - Comic Block Exclusive Variant

My history with Heroes is pretty brief.  I watched the first season probably 7 years ago and never bothered to watch any of the other seasons.  I remember liking the first season but outside of the whole “save the cheerleader, save the world” thing I don’t remember much.  I like the concept of Heroes and with my love of all things comics it seems like it would be right up my ally.

So what was I expecting from Heroes: Vengeance?  Some new Heroes with cool and interesting powers?  The old Heroes gang getting back together?  We got neither, instead we got a story about a vigilante in a luchador mask with no powers at all.  This is a prequel comic so I can only assume it has something to do with the new rebooted show, however as a stand alone comic it was incredibly boring.

Heroes - Pic 3

The only thing of note was there were two different newspapers with headlines about an incident in Odessa TX, which I assume is related to the reboot series.  Outside of that though it was a pretty dull story about a real life vigilante which I’ve seen done better in numerous other stories.  I wasn’t excited for Heroes: Reborn before and this pretty much put the nail in the coffin for me.

Back to the Future 1

Back to the Future 1 - Comic Block Exclusive Variant

This comic actually is two different stories in one.  The first is the telling of the first time that Marty McFly meets Doc Brown.  Some local bullies steal Marty’s guitar and make him get a transducer tube for their amp in order to get it back.  It turns out the town is sold out of tubes and the person who bought them all up was none other than Doc Brown.  Marty outsmarts Doc’s security and gets in to his lab.  Doc is so impressed with Marty that he offers him a job, which Marty immediately accepts.

The second story is of Doc meeting with Robert Oppenheimer where he is joins the Manhattan Project.  I guess this is part of the Back to the Future lore that Doc worked on the Atomic Bomb that I was unaware of.

I didn’t really care for the comic.  The two stories are really different and have completely different art styles to the point that I didn’t initially realize the second story was part of the comic.  I thought it was just a preview of some other comic and almost skipped it entirely.  The first story was really cheesy and didn’t add enough to the mythos to justify telling the story.  The second story was just weird and reading a story about Doc Brown working on the Atomic bomb is not something I have any interest in.

Back to the Future Variants

On the bright side I do really like that IDW puts all the different variant covers inside the comics.  I do have something of a variant cover problem but for the most part I’m more than content just seeing all the different covers.  DC Comics used to keep the variant covers of issues in the back of digital issues when the New 52 started and even updated them as more came out.  However they dropped this practice only a few months in.  I really wish Marvel or DC would pick up on this and start including a preview of all the covers out there for each issue.

Lara Croft Frozen Omen 1

Lara Croft Frozen Omen - Comic Block Exclusive Variant

With Rise of the Tomb Raider coming out this month it is no surprise that Dark Horse is releasing a new Lara Croft series.  The main story is that one of the curators at the British Museum is acting out of character and steals a priceless carving on a piece of Woolly Mammoth tusk.  Lara tracks down the curator to Belize where he appears to be in some sort of trance.  After seeing Lara he snaps out of it and seems to have no memory of traveling to Belize or stealing the artifact.  A weird vine ensnares the both of them and we get a “to be continued”.

Lara Croft - Pic 3 - Crop

There’s also a weird devil guy.

Lara Croft - Pic 1

I really enjoyed this comic.  They usually skimp out on the art for these licensed properties but for this the art was fantastic and reminded me of John Romita Jr.  I thought the story was interesting and overall was a great first issue.

Lara Croft - Pic 2

They gave the reader just enough to set up the story while also keeping enough mystery to leave me wanting more.  I usually don’t like these licensed property comics but I might have to make an exception for Tomb Raider.

Spider-Gwen Sale on Comixology!

Spider-Gwen Sale

Today only there is a one day sale on the first volume of Spider-Gwen which you can get all five issues for $0.99 each ($4.95 for all five).  As of now each issue is still currently selling at $3.99 and the MSRP for the trade paperback is $16.99, so this by far the cheapest option available.  The five issues of Edge of Spider-verse are on sale as well, also for $0.99 each.  Not only that but the first seven issues of Silk are on sale for $0.99 each.  This sale is only valid for today so act fast.

Sandman Sale

If Spider-Gwen is not your thing there are some more sales going on this weekend as well.  There is a across the board sale on Sandman Comics.  Each of the 10 volumes is on sale for $5.99 each.  This also includes other Neil Gaiman series such as Death, The Dream Hunters, and Dead Boy Detectives.  All single issues of Sandman are also on sale for $0.99 each.  This sale will go on until 11/16/15.

The Sandman issues are also on sale on Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes if Comixology isn’t your jam.

Dark Horse Sale

There is also Dark Horse Sale with first volumes of Hellboy, BPRD, Conan and the Goon on sale.  They also have single issues of Buffy, the Strain, Fight Club 2, and The Massive for $0.99 each.  This sale goes on until 11/15.

Last thing, if you want to buy any of these issues and are new to Comixology you can use my referral code here and get a five dollar credit toward your first purchase.

Fame: Britney Spears

Fame Britney Spears Cover

In my blog post for My Top 5 Funko Pop Vinyl Wishlist on my Funko Wishlist was a series on The Legendary Ms. Britney Spears.  Anyone who knows me knows that Britney Spears is one of the staples of my life so it was just a matter of time before she started showing up on my blog.

Before I get into my review of Fame: Britney Spears I want to take a little time to tell my Britney origin story.  I begins back in 2002 on a school trip.  You see back in 2002 the internet was still in its infancy and things like smart phones and digital music didn’t really exist yet.  Basically every one had personal cd players and small CD wallets they would keep their CDs in.  During school trips you’d pass around your CDs and everyone would listen to each others music.  While this was a great way to listen to new music it also exposed the most embarrassing music in your collection to all of your friends.  This lead me to find my girlfriend had a copy of Britney Spears’s …Baby One More Time.

After making fun of her for having a Britney Spears CD I decided to listen to the whole thing start to finish as a joke.  15 year old St. Jason was very much into Punk Rock those days and would never be caught listening to pop or mainstream music.  So listening away it starts of fairly standard, songs 1 through 3 are the album singles, …Baby One More Time, (You Drive Me) Crazy, and Somtimes.  These are songs that I had heard before on the radio or in department stores.  Song 4 is Soda Pop which is a weird reggae influenced song that remains my least favorite song across Britney’s entire catalog.  Thing came song number 5, Born to Make You Happy, and like Scott Glen says in Suckerpunch, I was unprepared.  It’s not that I was surprised and found the song ok or somewhat likable song, I had stumbled upon a song that I immediately loved.  I listened to it 3 to 5 times in a row and knew right away that this would certainly be one of my favorite songs.

Since then I have been a big fan and have followed her career, bought her music, and seen her in concert whenever possible.  So when I found out that there was a Britney Spears comic book I immediately purchased it.

First I think I should note that the Fame series of comics seems to cover any and every one of even remote fame.  It has obvious celebrities like Beyoncé and One Direction but also weird ones like Tom Daley and PSY.  So needless to say I had pretty low expectations going in to this.

Fame Britney Spears 1 (2)

The comic starts with these weird fairy narrators, which really is as odd as it sounds.  It then starts at the beginning of her career through the Mickey Mouse Club days.  It then goes on to Britney getting her record deal and getting overwhelmed with fame.  There is then a small section about her marriage to Keven Federline, her public breakdown, and her 2007 VMA Performance.  It ends with Britney’s 2008 VMA win for Video of the Year and her comeback as the Queen of Pop.

Fame Britney Spears 2

It is a little weird that the comic came out in 2011 (which is when Britney released her 7th Studio Album Femme Fatale) but only covers her career until 2008.  It is a pretty abbreviated version of the events of Britney’s life, but seeing as it is a story the public is fairly familiar I can understand why they skipped portions of it.  I was glad it didn’t just harp on the bad times but was actually a fairly positive look at her life.  If you are interested in a more detailed look at her early life you would have better luck with Britney Spears: Heart to Heart. Being as I am very familiar with her life story I was pleasantly surprised to find a few little information bits in this comic that I didn’t know.  I had no idea she was in a girl group called Innocence or that she wasn’t actually born in Louisiana.

Fame Britney Spears 3

There are a few moments where the art in this comic looks ok.

Fame Britney Spears 4 (2)

However, for the most part the art is terrible.

Fame Britney Spears 5 (2)

If you are a huge Britney Spears fan then I would recommend you pick up the comic digitally (you can get it on Comixology here).  However, I wouldn’t spend more than the 1.99 digital price for it.  There are print versions available but since they are 4 years old now they are actually kind of hard to find and go for 20 dollars on ebay.  The small facts about her life that I didn’t know made it worth the 1.99 price for me but I couldn’t imagine most people caring about those kind of details.  Britney Spears is one of the most well know celebrities on the planet so there are dozens of better sources of information available if you want to find out how she got to where she is now.

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