Monday, March 23, 2009

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Wow! What I love most about Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" is the nostalgic feel of it. The story is a lot to take in but the feel is very prevelant. First thing to note is that I actually liked Catgirl! I am usually not a fan of sidekicks but she was very likable and not so annoying as any of the Robins... Which brings me to my other favorite part of the story: The Dick Grayson as the Joker scenes. The way he was beating up Carrie was very reminiscent of "a Death in the family." I am sad that they real Joker is dead, though. That was my least favorite part of "The Dark Knight Returns." I guess I'm one of those people who think Batman can't exist without the Joker and vice versa.
The whole idea about a holographic president and Lex Luther is awesome. I really loved that part. Having Superman as a slave is really interesting too. As usual Superman is whiny. I did enjoy seeing Bruce kick the crap out of him. Wonder Woman is probably the coolest girl in the story, which is funny cause I normally don't like Wonder Woman very much either. Lara is interesting. I thought that the conversation between her and Superman and what they learn from each other is great.
Miller's characterization of Batman is something I like and question at the same time. I like how dark he is, I think that is perfect. I don't know if he would be SO cruel to Dick Grayson though at the end. But a lot has happened to him so may be. Making another Watchmen reference, Bruce was very much like Rorschach with his "Never compromise" talk and his relentless battle. That's another pair I would love to see have a conversation.
The art is classic Miller but in color - very raw, lots of curves, sometimes it's not clear what is going on. I think it really fit the story. Most Batman stories seem raw to me so I liked it. And no one can draw beat up people just like Miller, ha-ha. The panels were very interesting. For example on page 34, I loved the way the news panels curved around the larger image.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Disclaimer: This is my favorite graphic novel so this will pretty much be all praise.
"The Killing Joke" is the best Joker graphic novel to date in my opinion. Alan Moore takes the usual Joker plot but turns it into something entirely unique. First of all, he goes there all the way with the Joker's twisted cruelty - no silly pranks here but a bullet straight in the gut (in Barbara's case). But on the flip side of this, there is also a real sense of tragedy not usually present in Joker stories. The last panel on page 8 is a perfect example of this. The flash back has just ended with the Joker reaching out to his wife Jeanie, and in this panel, the present, he is reaching out to a clown - incredible foreshadowing. Above the clown it says "Laughing Clown" but in the reflection we see that the Joker is not wearing his trademark smile. His expression is sullen and almost lost. The transitions between the flashbacks and present are great. Most of them have the same poses. The one I like in particular is on pages 23 and 24. In the flash back, the Joker has his hands covering his downturned face in despair and in the present it's Gordon in the same position. This goes along with the Joker's theme that it only takes one bad day to make you crazy - like him.
"The Killing Joker" is fantastic artwise as well. Bolland's rendition of the Joker is probably my favorite along with Alex Roth's. Even though the book is short there are so many panels that the reader feels like a lot is going on. The first panel and the last panel are of the same thing - rain hitting a puddle. This goes along with Batman's monologue. I chose the picture above because it's one of my favorite panels. The desperation and sadness on the Joker's face is so moving. It has always stood out to me.
Since my last entry was about Watchmen, I can't help but see how similar the Joker and the Comedian are in that they both believe that "It's all a joke." And yet they are quite different. Blake worked for the government, seemed to genuinely have feelings for Sally, and cracked when he found out about Veidt's plan. The Joker works for no one but himself, cares about no one, and wouldn't give a damn about 15 million people dying. Still they are an interesting pair. I wonder what a conversation would be like between those two!

Monday, March 9, 2009

WATCHMEN - The Movie

I don't care what Rotten Tomatoes says, I think this movie was great! Of course it doesn't have everything the graphic novel has... it has to be condensed into a 3 hour feature - it can't have everything! For what it was trying to achieve, I think Snyder did a wonderful job. I've seen it twice now. I don't know why the reviews keep saying it's boring! I thought it was a roller coaster beginning to end. The first scene with the Comedian is incredible and the opening credits gave me chills.
The sets were fantastic! It was almost eerie how they had every single little detail there. I payed most attention to Blake's apartment - his pictures of Sally (the poster on the wall and the photo in his bedroom), the one of Laurie in the secret room with his costume, and even the hustler magazine on the table. I feel like that is where you can get a real sense of his inner character - how lonely he is and how he realized he messed up. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was great. He and Jackie Earle Haley, who played Rorschach, definitely had the best performances. Most say Matthew Goode did the worst job in his role as Veidt. I really didn't think he was that bad! I think the fact that they cut a lot of Veidt's scenes that are in the novel from the movie made him a hard character to relate to. The accent was a risk Goode took as an actor and I don't know if he should have... but I did like the sound of his voice - very creepy. I don't know, he didn't bother me and I thought he did convey Veidt as well as he could. Billy Crudup was awesome as Dr. Manhattan. Talk about a hard character to play! Patrick Wilson made Nite Owl less whiny. I liked him in the movie more than the book actually. I'm kind of with Rorschach in his assessment of Dan as a flabby failure who cries in his basement. But I liked how Patrick Wilson played him. Malin Akerman looked perfect for the part. She just needed some voice counseling. All of her lines were delivered in the same way. But at least Laurie was less whiny, as well, in the movie. Carla Gugino was amazing as Sally Jupiter. I loved the scene at the end when she hits Dan's ass. Hilarious.
There wasn't *too* much slow motion either, which is good. The film is definitely visually stunning. I thought that the violence was appropriate. The sex scene, although funny, is really too long. The confrontation scene with Adrian could also have been done a little more smoothly, I think. I did like the ending though. It worked well and it still had the audience asking the same moral questions. One thing I did notice in this ending, though, is that Veidt Industries takes over like all of New York with construction and such and all I could think about was Adrian Veidt is making so much money over this. I hadn't thought about that in the novel and I wondered if being money hungry was also apart of Veidt's plan.
Now, the music. I know a lot of people found it annoying. I am once again in the opposite camp. I thought it was great. I know it made it more "comic booky" and people are not used to music making an editorial comment in movies but I thought it was funny and smart, adding to the atmosphere.
Finally, I guess my favorite scene of the movie would actually have to be the beginning with the Comedian and the opening credits. Not that the movie went downhill from there, it's just tha the opening credits were great and well as I have said, the Comedian is my favorite character. Great movie! I'll definitely be seeing it again.

All Star Superman

This is the first Superman comic I have read in a long time. I've always been more of a Batman fan because Superman is, well, just too good. However, I must say that I did enjoy All Star Superman and am excited to read volume 2. I think this is because it's written by Grant Morrison, who's characters tend to never be goody two shoes. I loved the whole idea that Superman is being killed by his own power and that it was, of course, Lex Luthor who orchestrated everything.
My favorite scene was the prison scene. I love how Lex, who looks a lot like Grant Morrison, is going on and on about how great he is and how Superman must be stopped and Clark Kent/Superman is saving him while Lex is not looking. Then, on page 126, Lex says Kent is everything Superman is not. The eye brow scene on page 127 was priceless. However, I think it's scenes like these that are the reason why I never really got into Superman. They are funny but the belittling of the villain makes them seem less important or should not be taken seriously by the reader. Lex should be taken seriously, of course, but when he is presented this way I just don't think he is as cool or as dangerous as, oh let's say, the Joker.
The art was awesome. Everything I expected of Quitely, after reading WE3, was there. The panels were more traditional but I think that is appropriate for a Superman comic. My favorite page would probably be the full page drawing of Superman and Lois Lane kissing with Earth over head in the background on page 78.
A very interesting story. I wish I knew more about Superman so that I could get into more. Also I wish I was more interested in science because I think that could help here as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Akira - Volume 1

Addicting, addicting, addicting! I have already ordered the second volume of Akira on Amazon. Akira is action packed from the very start. The very first page tells the reader right off that a bomb exploded on Japan and the second and third page is a full picture of the explosion. By doing this, Otomo has gotten our attention immediately and we are drawn into the story from the get go.
I found that the panel perspectives give a very cinematic feel to the piece. For example on pages, 318 - 336, when Kaneda and Tetsuo meet up again I felt as though the camera was going back and forth between the two boys. This is achieved through subject to subject transitions and by having lots of different angles of the same scene.
I have to say I liked all of the characters in the story so far. Kaneda is a brat but in that charming way and Kei is cool, dangerous but feminine. And because I seem to always love the villain, I already have a soft spot for Tetsuo. With the spiky hair and a drug problem, I was constantly reminded of Sid Vicious. He also reminded me of Vegeta in DBZ, in his jealousy and competition with the main character. He is a great villain because like Kaneda the reader knows that he didn't used to be like this (Although we can see on page 24 when Tetsuo says, "This time you follow me, Kaneda!" that his jealousy of Kaneda has always been present) and that this, in a way, was brought upon him. We pity him to an extent. I feel that he will eventually lose his humanity completely but I haven't read the whole series yet so I could be wrong.
A great read. It didn't take long at all to get through the 359 pages with all that action! The story is very interesting too - a world after WWIII. I wonder how Akira will be different from the other number children. The nursery was another one of my favorite parts. Creepy and sad at the same time. Truly a masterpiece!