News Bleed: The “Comic Con Catch-Up” Edition

Ho-wdy, Kinky Kreeps! Another San Diego Comic Con has bitten the dust, but we’re here to give you some of the biggest Noose from the event! In addition to this post, we will also be covering DC’s big reveals and the coolest monster toys of the con! So, without any further A-BOO…

Scream Factory will unleash all sorts of monstrosities, including Silent Night Deadly Night, Drag Me to Hell, The Darkman Sequels, Misery, and Attack of the Puppet People!  :) Daily Dead

Blumhouse & Todd McFarlane makes a deal with the Devil to summon Spawn! DeadlineSan Diego becomes ScareDiego! Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema keep it creepy with IT, the very first footage of The Nun, Annabelle: Creation, Q&As and scene descriptions! Here are the Q&As/scene descriptions! 🙂 Dread Central

The new The Walking Dead trailer gets bloody. 🙂 The Verge

Darkness falls across the land in the new Stranger Things trailer. 🙂 Variety

Robot Chicken takes a bite out of The Walking Dead. 🙂 UPROXX

Harley Quinn takes over Batman Day this year! 🙂 Polygon

Michelle Pfeiffer is The Wasp, Captain Marvel loves the ’90s, Skrulls attack, Infinity War, Black Panther, and new footage… Check out everything Marvel unveiled! BBC

News Bleed: The “Cult of DOOM!” Edition

Fargo creator Noah Hawley is the harbinger of Doom… Doctor Doom, that is. 🙂 Variety

American Horror Story finally reveals its title! 🙂 Screen Rant

David Cronenberg’s Consumed gets consumed by AMC! Deadline

The first Pacific Rim: Uprising urges you to join the Jaeger Uprising! 🙂 Entertainment Weekly

Game on! Check out the first Jigsaw trailer! Forbes

Halloween finally comes to Disney California Adventure. 🙂 Attractions Magazine

No more clowning around… a Harley Quinn vs. The Joker movie is (reportedly) happening! Movie Web

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

WARNING TO ALL YE WHO ENTERETH: This post contains #SPOILERS. Just scroll on down to the Marvel Universe Live stuffs if that sorta thing upsets ya. 🙂

(Review submitted with all the love by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Sir! 🙂 xoxo)

“Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.” (Sony/Marvel)

After his fantastically energetic extended cameo in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man gets his first solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  We get two prologues before hitting “present day”, which as stated, is several months after Civil War.  The first prologue is set shortly after the first Avengers film.  We see Adrian Toomes and his cleanup crew, removing debris and alien technology from the destruction sites. We see that he is so excited by landing this government job, because it puts food on the table for his wife and daughter, as well as providing for his whole crew.  However, they lose the contract when Tony Stark funds the government owned “Damage Control”, to clean up super heroic messes and such. We then see a flash forward to present day, where we learn and see that Adrian Toomes and crew have been stealing weaponry from superhero/supervillain skirmishes, propagating some for themselves, and selling other weaponry to criminals on the black market. Meanwhile, the flashback with Peter Parker/Spider-Man, actually ties into his appearance in Civil War.  The flashbacks are actually self-shot home movies, of his “trip” to Berlin.  You actually see him getting his upgraded suit from Tony Stark via Happy Hogan, as well as P.O.V. shots of the airport battle in Civil War.  These are a way to catch the audience up on where we last saw Peter, but done in an inventive and unique way. These flashbacks are great because they show us our villain’s motivations for what he is doing, and give us a glimpse into how much Peter Parker loves being Spider-Man.

Our main story picks up with Peter Parker being left back in Queen’s and dealing with being a high school student, while also dealing with being a Spider-Man that has to deal with more street level crime.  First of all, I love that this film really stayed in Queen’s as much as it could.  It gave this film a much more intimate feeling over previous installments.  Peter Parker being in high school felt like a naturalistic part of his daily routine, as opposed to being scenes that were shoehorned into the other films because the character was supposed to be 15.  I think it helps, that the actor playing our hero, as well as his classmates were actually teenaged, as opposed to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who both had Wellingitis.  That is to say, they were both 25, cast to play a 15 year old, just as Tom Welling was on Smallville.  I also appreciated that this iteration of Peter Parker wasn’t overtly geeky, or overly hipster, like our previous versions of Peter Parker.  Tom Holland plays an average teenager who takes his high school happenings and everyday situations to the extreme, and makes everything seem like the biggest deal and sometimes the end of the world.  Peter Parker’s best friend in this is Ned played by Jacob Batalon.  The character as played by the actor, is the quintessential best bud and sidekick.  The character is a gamer and total Star Wars fanboy.  Sure, the idea that the two friends spend their after school time building a LEGO Death Star, felt a little all too obvious and convenient, given the Marvel/Disney and Disney/Star Wars connection, but it felt like something two modern day teen fanboys would absolutely do.  There is no spider-bite or death of Uncle Ben in this film.  Instead, that sort of exposition, comes from Ned, once he accidentally discovers Peter Parker is Spider-Man.  We learn of the spider bite and Peter’s abilities through Ned’s endless questions. The exchanges are so naturalistic yet humorous.  There’s a lot of humor in this film, yet never once does it go overboard like Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or feel forced like in the Thor movies.  Liz Allen played by Laura Harrier is the object of Peter Parker’s affection in this film.  She is the popular girl, with a type A personality.  Sure, she and Peter admit that they both liked each other and went to the homecoming dance together but I never felt a spark, or connection between these characters.  No offence to the actress, she did okay with what was asked of her.  Story wise, once we learn that Liz Allen is really Liz Toomes, daughter of the Vulture, any chance the two had at a relationship was gone.  I really did like the character of Michelle played by Zendaya.  This character is very intellectual and is a bit of a loner, playing it off as if she doesn’t really care about hanging out, or being around her classmates. She’s a bit of an introvert, who is lost in her reading. The banter and animosity between she and Peter, gives off a vibe of a love/hate relationship, which definitely hints at something more later on.  Flash Thompson is played by Tony Revolori.  This Flash is not the big hulking jock of a bully like in previous installments, or the comic books.  Instead, he’s more of a verbal insulter, who tries to break Peter down emotionally, not physically.  He’s still a sleaze bag.  The young actor plays that well and you won’t be able to stand him over the course of the film.

Marisa Tomei, returns from her Civil War role of Aunt May.  This Aunt May is more active in the film and in Peter’s life.  We see very simple scenes of them sharing a family dinner.  You even see her helping him learn how to do a tie, teaching him how to dance, and giving him pointers how to treat Liz on their homecoming date.  Marisa Tomei seems to be playing this younger version of Aunt May as a big sister, which makes sense, given the smaller age gap between the two actors.  Though, Marisa Tomei does let the parental Aunt mode kick in, when Peter gets home late and hasn’t been answering his phone. She raises her voice at him, telling him he can’t do that and that between the two of them, that’s not okay.  Even though Uncle Ben isn’t mentioned by name, the tone in her voice and the pain in her face, clearly makes it know, this reaction is a reaction to Ben’s death.  It’s really powerful acting by Marisa Tomei.  As was known when this project was announced and as the trailers went out of their way to point out, Robert Downey Jr. is in this film as Tony Stark/Iron-Man.  He’s at his snarky, fast talking best in this film.  The trailers for this film had me worried that this film would turn into Iron-Man 4, featuring Spider-Man.  However, happily, that’s not the case at all.  We see Iron-Man as a mentor/father figure/ big brother to Peter Parker.  You can tell that Tony Stark has a love for Peter, but in typical Stark fashion, he’ll never outright admit it.  He gave Peter the costume upgrade, to make him a more effective hero but also to keep him safe. Yet still, he tells Peter to stay safe, by sticking close to home grown, street level issues.  The suit upgrades include different shapes and modes of webbing.  The spider symbol is actually a mini drone/ tracker.  There’s also an interrogation mode, which allows Peter to disguise his voice a la Batman, to intimidate his enemies.  There’s a lethal mode, to deal with the extremely dangerous villains and lest we forget, the web wings from the early comic books, which allow him to glide.  I thought all these enhancements by Tony to the costume would minimize Peter Parker’s intelligence but the way Robert Downey Jr. and the film itself handles it, is just Tony being overprotective.  In fact, the film makes a point to show Peter’s intelligence, by showing him secretly brewing his webbing in science class.  We also see Peter disabling the trackers and security measures Tony put into the Spider-Man costume.  Iron-Man does save and assists Spider-Man twice in the film but it never feels like belittling and minimizing the character to me.  His biggest contribution happens of screen, after he realizes that Peter is too reliant on the costume and its gadgets, so he takes it away.  This forces Peter to go back to his homemade costume and find the hero within, which he ultimately does. While this is a Spider-Man film, Tony Stark does seems to resolve some father issues he had in Civil War and there is even a progression of his relationship with Pepper Potts that carries over from that film, which I won’t spoil.

Nearly all of the action beats are tied to our villain, Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton.  As hard as it is for me to see Michael Keaton as anything but Batman or Beetlejuice, he is absolutely fantastic as the Vulture.  He’s easily the best villain in the MCU since Loki and he might even be better than Loki.  As I mentioned earlier, the cleanup contract is so important to him, as he’s trying to provide for his family, as are his crew.  When he loses that contract to the joint venture of Stark Industries and the government, he feels pushed aside and stepped on by “the man.”  This is why he hates The Avengers and turns to the black market to sell stolen alien weaponry.  He’s not a one dimensional, over the top, mustache twirling villain, which has become the norm in the MCU. What the script and Michael Keaton convey so well, is that while Adrian Toomes motivations are relatable, his actions remain 100% wrong and the viewer never over sympathizes with him.  This is a mistake the Sam Raimi films made with Dock Ock and Sandman.  They became too sympathetic, to the point where I gave their actions a pass.  While Michael Keaton was great throughout, his best scene happens with Peter Parker when both men are out of costume.  I won’t spoil it but I guarantee it will make your spine tingle. Michael Keaton is particularly chilling in this scene.  The Vulture’s crew introduces other villains, namely the Shocker and the Prowler.  They’re not overly developed. They’re more in service to the Vulture, which I prefer.  The Prowler is of course the uncle of Miles Morales.  There is a small nod to him in the film, which could open the door for Ultimate Spider-Man in the future of the MCU.

In addition to Peter Parker, Tom Holland excels as his costumed alter-ego Spider-Man.  He’s got the inherent goodness and altruistic nature that Tobey Maguire had and he’s got the incessant quipping, which was present in Andrew Garfield’s take on the character.  Mixed in with Tom Holland’s youthful excitement and energy and what you have is the most screen accurate Spider-Man to his comic book counterpart, when it comes to live action portrayals.  The action scenes aren’t just randomly inserted into this film to fill an action quota, instead they service and enhance our hero’s journey.  What’s also unique is that Spider-Man is wearing his fancy superhero attire, in the first two acts, when he is more of an unpolished hero, while wearing his makeshift home-made costume for the third act, when he becomes the full-fledged hero. Usually, it’s the other way around in superhero films.  The early action beats are definitely smaller scale.  We see Spider-Man stopping a bike theft, bank robbery, and we even see him giving an elderly lady directions.  There’s situational humor present in the film when Spider – Man seemingly thwarts a car robbery but in fact, it was just a guy who’d been locked out of his car.  The way the onlookers yelled at Spidey and defended their neighbors innocence, really sold the tight knit community feel of this Queen’s neighborhood.  Also, Stan Lee gets a rare cameo where he speaks, which is nice.  When the Vulture first swoops in grabbing Spider-Man, preventing him from chasing down his crew, the frantic, up-close perspective of the scenes, looks like a brief moment that belongs in a horror film.  The Ferry sequence and the plane fight with The Vulture, as well as the Washington Monument Rescue are the 3 stars of this film, as far as action goes.  The Ferry Sequence has a moment were Spider-Man is trying to hold the Ferry together in one piece, His positioning, actions and pose are eerily similar to Spider-Man 2, when he tries to stop the train from crashing. The scene showcases how effective, yet inexperienced this Spider-Man is.  Seeing Spider-Man crawl up the Washington monument, leap from the top of it, using his web wings to clear a helicopter was so damn epic.  Not quite as epic as Superman’s first flight in Man of Steel, but a pretty close second.  The plane fight between Spider-Man and the Vulture was unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a Spider-Man film.  Not only do they fight inside of the plane but on top of the plane as well.  It took eleven years, but we finally have a scene that surpasses the Superman Returns flight rescue. Kudos goes to the costume designer, who actually made the Vulture’s costume intimidating and menacing, as opposed to looking ridiculous like it does in the comic books.

Spider-Man: Homecoming just feels right.  For the first time in six films, Spider-Man feels like he’s right where he belongs, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The plot and the reason why Spider-Man is taking on the Vulture is very straight forward.  Instead, this movie focuses on getting the characters right.  In this area, the film 100% succeeds.  My previous favourite Spider-Man film was Spider-Man 2, however, I think Spider-Man: Homecoming slightly surpasses it.  In terms of MCU solo films, this ranks 2nd, behind only the first Iron-Man.  In terms of my favourite summer movies, this ranks 2nd behind Wonder Woman and is definitely a MUST SEE film.

Ho-stess’s PS- I saw SMHC last night, and agree wholeblackheartedly with Mr. P’s review…Ho-wever, I saw Marvel Universe Live on Tour today, and have to say THAT is the Marvel production we should all be talking about. #GreatestShowInTheGalaXXXy!! 🙂 xoxo

News Bleed: The “Dracspiria” Edition

2017 is the year of Suzy Bannion! A newly discovered Suspiria print has been discovered and is going on tour! Bloody Disgusting
NES Jason stalks into Friday the 13th: The Game!  The Escapist

Carnage will wreak havoc in Venom! CBR

A new writer crosses over into The Twilight Zone! Variety

Don’t worry, kiddies… IT is Rated R! Screen Rant

The BBC Sherlock team resurrects Dracula! BBC

Clint Howard’s Brother is directing the Han Solo solo film! 🙂 Hollywood Reporter

Jigsaw will be playing games again this October! 🙂 IGN

News Bleed: The “Blob Peaks” Edition

25 years after getting booed for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me at Cannes, David Lynch won over festival-goers and got a lengthy standing ovation for the Twin Peaks revival. 🙂 Deadline

Is Halle Berry facing The Blob in the second remake? Beware of the Blob, Catwoman! Bloody Disgusting

The Friday the 13th game is finally out…but having a few issues. GameRant

(Side Note: My pic’s in the game, so I’m a happy camper!! ;))

Super Scariness: Marvel’s The New Mutants will be a “Full-Fledged Horror Movie!”  Entertainment Weekly

The Mummy makes a grand entrance in this spooky-cool new image! Bleeding Cool

The sequel we’ve all been screaming for!!! Boo 2: A Madea Halloween is coming this October! 😉 Variety

Rest in Peace, Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers. 🙁 Rolling Stone


News Bleed: The “THE GREAT WAR IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Edition

Finally…YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MSN

Another reason to shoot your load… 😉 Hollywood Reporter

Get your first taste of Netflix’s Castlevania! 🙂 i09

Check into Hotel Transylvania: The Series this June! 🙂 Cartoon Brew

Sneak a peek at the Alien 6 Film Collection and the Alien: Covenant Steelbook! IGN

The Resident Evil film franchise is set to rise from the grave with a reboot. (It’s been so long since the Final Chapter came out…IN DECEMBER!!! ;))  Variety

Tom “Spider-Man Not Child’s Play” Holland swings into an Uncharted prequel film. 🙂 Deadline

Cujo will leave his paw print on The Dark Tower. 🙂 Dread Central

The Tales from the Crypt Complete Series Set screams its way onto DVD on Robert Englund’s and my birthday…BEST PRESENT EVER!! :)) Bloody Disgusting

In #NotHorrorButSuckIt news, Tom Cruise confirms that Top Gun II is happening. That Maverick! 🙂 Screen Rant


To a new world of Gods and Monsters… Universal gets serious with their new monster series, now known as the Dark Universe! 🙂 Nerdist

And, sadly, we had to say goodbye to the great Roger Moore this week R.I.P., Mr. Bond. 🙁 xoxo Movie Web

 

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 & 2

(Submitted by our Superhero Scifi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo

In Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. (Marvel Studios)

When I saw the teaser trailer for the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I wasn’t all that into it. I fully blame the Thor franchise for this, as the forced humor in those films, seemed to be rearing its ugly head here. However, to be fair, I knew very little about the Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead of getting on the internet to bitch and moan about what I wasn’t liking, I hopped on to Amazon and bought two trade paperbacks of the newest comics. In truth, the humor was perfectly appropriate for the odd ball bunch of characters that make up the team. After finally seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I absolutely loved it. It quickly became one of my favourite MCU films and ranks in my top 5 from Marvel Studios. Yes, there’s a lot of comedy throughout but what James Gunn does, is make you care about the characters and shows you their tragedies, so that the humor has greater effect when it finally happens. This film starts with young Peter Quill by his mother’s bedside, as she gives him one last parting gift and words of wisdom, before succumbing to brain cancer. He then runs out of the hospital, only to get abducted by an alien space ship. That is a harrowing but heartbreaking way to open a film. While the rest of the story also hinges on Peter Quill, the other Guardians have their own issues. Most of these aren’t brought to bear visually like Star Lord, however they’re all discussed. Gamora has familial issues, being the adopted daughter of Thanos and having a sibling rivalry with her sister Nebula. Not to mention, she’s acting as a double agent of sorts, in the process of double crossing Thanos. The family drama is very real world, just like Peter’s mothers death from cancer is, it just takes place on an intergalactic scale. I love that no matter how odd these character are, their emotional baggage is very relatable. Rocket Racoon and Groot are more unique from the rest of the humanoid looking group. Rocket is a creation, a genetically altered talking racoon, while Groot is the last of his kind, a talking tree, with a speech impediment, where everything he says is heard as “I am Groot.” While both characters are adorable, they are outcasts amongst a team of misfits. If you’re someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin, or you feel misunderstood, you will gravitate towards these characters beyond their cuteness. Drax is the only character that’s hard to relate to. After all, when we first meet him, he’s in prison for going on a murderous revenge tour. However, he is trying to avenge the deaths of his family and has killed or is going after, Thanos and or those connected to him, or took part in the murder of his family. So while you might not identify with him, you will sympathize with him.

In several trailers and promotions, the Guardians of the Galaxy were classified as criminals and outlaws and technically they are, but that’s a misrepresentation. They don’t do anything in the film to make you second guess them, or root against them. As you discover their backstories throughout the film and watch them interact with each other, they’re nothing but lovable characters. This is an ensemble film but as I said, Star Lord is the main character and the team all meet through him. That occurs when the film picks up with the adult Star Lord stealing an orb contain an infinity stone and attempting to sell it to a dealer. The dealer reneges on the arrangement when he learns Thanos is after the stone. Speaking of Thanos, not only does he send Gamora after Peter Quill, he sends out a bounty for the capture of the self-proclaimed Star Lord. This gets Groot and Rocket on his trail, as well as his old partner/father figure Yondu. Yondu is the alien who kidnapped Peter at the behest of Peter’s mysterious celestial father, who Yondu describes as an asshole. He decided not to take Peter to his father and groomed him as a Ravager. However, he feels betrayed by Peter and wants to get in on that bounty cash. As Gamora, Rocket and Groot try and apprehend Peter, they are all caught by Nova Corps officers and are thrown in the Kylm, a prison in a trading post called Knowhere. It is here where the characters truly meet. They decided to team up to not only break out of prison, as well as selling the orb/gem to Gamora’s contact, the Collector. Drax comes into the equation because he wants to kill Gamora, in his quest for revenge on Thanos. However, Peter Quill talks him down, suggesting that if he joins them, he will get his revenge on Thanos, so he acquiesces. Speaking of Thanos, displeased with Gamora’s efforts, he sends Ronan, essentially his overpowered henchmen to take them out and retrieve the infinity stone. After they escape prison, they eventually strike an accord with the Nova Corps and Yondu, to join forces and bring down Ronan, which they obviously do. As for the infinity stone, even though Star Lord promised to give it to Yondu, he double crosses him and entrusts it to the Nova Corps. I mentioned the humor throughout the film and it comes in the characters interactions. I loved all of Peter Quill’s 80’ references, including Patrick Swayze in dirty dancing, and Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss. Not to mention, Peter’s ship being named after Alyssa Milano. Gamora’s naiveté mixed in with her overall badassery made the character a good addition. As I said Groot and Rocket were the most adorable characters but having Rocket be the only one to understand Groot is hilarious. It’s like a one sided version of broken telephone, where based on Rocket’s response, we the audience can piece together what Groot says. Also, Rocket being a sarcastic jackass and asking the group to steal another inmates prosthetic leg to assist in his escape plan just to see if they’d do it, made me laugh.. Drax’s humor came from his bluntness and lack of understanding of sarcasm. For example, when Star Lord says a pun went over Drax’s head, Drax responds; “Nothing goes over my head. If it did, my reflexes are so fast, I’d reach out and catch it. “Or when he refers to Gamora as a “Green Skinned Slut”, when he admits he has gotten over his grudge against her . He’s so straight faced and honest about it, I couldn’t help but laugh at the dichotomy of calling someone a slut and your friend in the same breath.

Two aspects of the first film I didn’t like were the villain and the third act finale. Ronan is another terrible villain. He’s a glorified lackey for Thanos, and the character is so over the top. It’s mustache twirl level. The film tells us that he wants to use the infinity gem to put an end to the Kree/Xandar treaty, which he feels has wronged his people the Kree, but the story never delves further into that. His antagonism to the Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing more than them being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as well as being in position of the Infinity Gem. The other thing that I didn’t care for was that Star Lord challenges Ronan to a dance off to distract him, while the others get the Infinity Gem away from him. As noted, I’ve loved every bit of humor in this film up to this point, but this dance off was out of place. The fate of Xandar and potentially the universe is at stake, and that’s the first thing you come up with. Does Marvel have a “1 Joke per Script Page” rule for their films or what? Not only did this gag pull me out of the film, but it lessened the severity of the situation and the impact of Groot’s death to spare his teammates. Don’t worry, in typical Marvel fashion, Groot didn’t really die, Rocket was able to collect pieces of him and plant him in a pot, so he could regrow.

The sequel for my money is a step up from the original in my opinion. Make no mistake, in terms of story, and story structure it’s pretty much the same. Characters and situations change, but the story structure doesn’t break the mold. This time around, the Guardians of the Galaxy are hired by the leader of the Sovereign nation to retrieve special batteries from a monstrous alien. In exchange for returning the batteries, the group is granted custody of Nebula who was captured for stealing the batteries in the first place. As they are dismissed, Rocket can’t help but steal a few batteries. Upon discovery of this the Sovereign leader sends of fleet of ships to attack the group and retrieve the batteries. When that fails, she hires Yondu and his Ravagers to retrieve the batters and capture the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians of the Galaxy eventually team up with Yondu and his crew, not only to defeat the Sovereign army, but defeat the much larger threat of the film. A Guardian of the Galaxy even sacrifices themselves for another team member. Sounds a lot like the first film doesn’t it!? Despite this, there’s enough fresh elements that make this sequel better than the original.

The film does pick up on several open ended threads left open from the first film. One of which is Peter Quill’s celestial father. The character is first introduced in a flashback to his courtship and mating with Peter’s Mother. For this scene, the filmmakers used the de-aging CGI on Kurt Russell and you know what, it looks really good. I thought I was watching actual footage of 1980’s Kurt Russell. We first see him in earnest in the film, when he mysteriously provides an escape route for the Guardians as they evade the Sovereign Fleet. After a rough landing by the Milano, Star Lord finally meets his father Ego. Ego invites his son and crew to his planet. Once there, we get plenty of exposition detailing that Ego is a Celestial that manipulated matter to form a planet and placed itself at the planet’s core. After hundreds of years, he got lonely, so he formed a human body and traveled the universe, which ultimately led him to Earth and the love of his life Meredith Quill. When Peter asks why he didn’t return to Earth when she got ill and died, he intimated that a world without Meredith was a world he didn’t want to be on. He reiterates that he sent Yondu to retrieve him after Meredith’s death and blames Yondu for their delayed reunion. We get scenes of the newly acquainted father/son do bonding over shared taste in Earth music and Ego teaching Peter how to use his celestial power and manipulate energy and matter. This leads to a celestial game of catch. I got so swept up emotion of these scenes, that I didn’t see the twist coming. That twist being that this is all a ruse and Ego is the true villain of the film. He’s been looking for his son all this time, to use his son Peter’s celestial power, combined with his, to activate the seedling he planted on Earth to terraform it into an extension of himself. If that isn’t bad enough, he reveals he planted the tumor in Meredith’s brain, so she would die, allowing him to be left alone and easy for the taking. Even worse still, he’s attempted to do this on other planets he’s visited, but failed because his other progeny died when trying to harness their celestial powers. To use a wrestling term, I did not see that heel turn coming. One of the main reason I like this film a bit more than the first, is because Ego is a much better villain than Ronan. Part of that is the familial connection between Star Lord and Ego and part of it is the acting of Kurt Russell. The way both he and Chris Prat switch between being best of friends, to mortal enemies is emotional, raw and flawless. I could feel both the love and hate between the two characters through the course of the film. This plot point also gave us more info and more screen time for Yondu.

In the first film, you saw that Yondu and Peter Quill had an admiration for each other but the relationship was fractured. From Peter’s perspective, he believed that the only reason Yondu took him and kept him around, was because he was someone who could help him steal, getting into places where Yondu and his team couldn’t fit into. In this film, Yondu reveals that the main reason he kept him around, was because he didn’t want Ego to get his hands on Peter. Yondu taught Peter how to be self-sufficient and fend for himself. In a revealing dialogue with Rocket, Yondu reveals that he grew to love Peter and considers him his son. His action of taking Peter as a child got him in trouble with The Ravagers higher up personnel. Child trafficking is a no-no amongst The Ravagers. This plot point gives a cameo by Sylvester Stallone, who plays Stakar Ogord, and Michael Rosembaum as his right hand man, who exile Yondu and his crew from the Ravagers. Yay to James Gunn for including a cameo from Sly and Rosembaum. Boo to James Gunn for not putting Stallone and Russell in a scene together, for a mini Tango and Cash reunion. Anyways, back to Yondu. The moment where he sacrifices his life, to save Peter from dying in an explosion in a fight with Ego, was epically tragic. The moment before his death, where he says; “He may be your father, but I’m your daddy”, brought me to tears. This death does have a finality to it as well. Earlier in the film, Yondu makes a Marry Poppins reference that is quite funny. I won’t spoil it but keep an eye out for it. Michael Rooker is known as a character actor but he steals the film. By far my favourite character in the film, with Ego coming in second.

Three of my favourite characters from the first film left me with a mixed reaction. Groot was even better than last time, while Rocket and Drax left me wishing they would just shut up and had me rolling my eyes. Groot had only one way to go and that was up. As much as I loved Groot the first time around, how can you not love Baby Groot? The cutest part was how at every chance he got, he cuddled every member of his Guardians teammates. You will “aww” every time you see it. The funny part is when Rocket tries to explain to him about not touching the button to set off the bomb. He understands the words coming out of Rocket’s mouth, but he can’t truly comprehend them, which is why he wanted to push the button that set off the bomb. Essentially he has the mind of a two year old. Every time he appeared in a scene, that dynamic when mixed with what the rest of the group was going through, added the perfect amount of levity and fun to the situation. Rocket’s attitude in the first film was bold, brash and justified given his characters circumstances. However in this film, his attitude was amplified, to the point where he actively tried to push his crew members away. I understand that he felt that getting close to people hasn’t worked out in the past, so why go through that again, however, he got through those issues by the end of the first film. So this behaviour felt like retreading old ground from volume one. Speaking of retreading, Drax was a huge step backwards in volume 2. In the first film, his bluntness and naïveté was a driving force of humor. So James Gunn decided to ratchet that up ten notches, to where it became forced. This resulted in Drax becoming a cackling misogynistic brute, who besmirched and insulted Ego’s assistant Mantis, just to deflect his apparent growing feelings for her throughout the film. He flat out calls her ugly, I believe the word he uses is hideous. Then there’s the barrage of dick jokes he makes. He literally stops Ego in a piece of important, character building dialogue, to ask Ego if he created a dick for himself and how big it is. Then he and Star Lord make suggestive comments about the sizes of their package, I’m good with a raunchy penis joke now and again, but I think the four or five in this film were a bit excessive. Also, seeing as the Guardians of the Galaxy is the most kid friendly franchise to date in the MCU, you should be mindful that there are youngsters in the audience. There may have been more dick jokes in this film then Deadpool and for me, that’s problematic.

Much like the rest of both films, I am overall extremely satisfied with the visual effects in the films. The entire VFX team should be commended for making two entirely CGI characters Rocket Racoon and Groot look so real. Not going to lie, there were so many times in the first film, I wanted to reach out and pet Rocket or swing from Groot. Yes the performances are what connect you to characters, however, the first visual impressions makes you believe these characters exist, and these visuals succeed in that aspect in spades. Considering his background in smaller, low budget films I was impressed with several action scenes he crafted. Both films feature a space battle, between The Milano and Ronan’s warship in the first film, and the Sovereign fleet in the sequel. The space battles are epic in these particular scenes, almost Star Wars level worthy. Notice I said almost, so no one freak out. During the fight with the Sovereign fleet battle, when looking at the space battle from a POV shot of inside the Sovereign’s ships is a visual nod to an 80’s video game, which is in keeping with the fun tone of these films. The opening scenes of both films, are some of the most enjoyably interactive I’ve ever seen. Seeing Star Lord dance his way through an alien landscape, using dead fish like creatures as a microphone, dancing his way to stealing the orb, is like a hilarious absurd melding of So You Think You Can Dance and Indiana Jones. That shouldn’t work, but it does, making for an incredibly fun opening montage. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 starts with The Guardians fighting an alien monster, while Groot has music blaring in a stereo and is dancing, oblivious to the fight in the foreground. I love this opening because as a viewer, you’re totally transfixed, wanting to watch the battle, but at the same time, hooting and hollering over Groot’s adorably hilarious dancing. The third act featured Ego the living planet being destroyed. We almost got a firsthand look at a planet crumbling to its extinction. I’ve never seen it done quite like this. Ego transforms into a disembodied head at one point, which normally I don’t like, but it forces Peter to manipulating matter into Pac Man. Any time I can get Pac-Man references in a film is a positive. There were two instances where the CGI looked terrible. In the first film, when the Guardians join hands, trying to grab the infinity stone, the scene is engulfed in purple, as the team is literally being torn apart. This had to be one of the lamest looking third act finales in a comic book film. A clear sign that the filmmaker had exhausted his budget. In the second film, during the aforementioned fight with the alien monster, said monster looks rather rubbery and obviously CGI. Not as rubbery as the shark in Batman ’66 but considering we’re in 2017, this shouldn’t be an issue.

As I mentioned, when this film franchise first began, I had no idea who The Guardians of the Galaxy even were. As I said, the first trailer for the film didn’t even get me excited for the film. Yet, here we are two films into the franchise and their two of the best of the Marvel brand. One of the best things about these movies is, while they’re part of the MCU, they are standalone films in their own right. While I seem to have more issues with the second film, there was enough positive elements in Volume 2, that I still put it ahead of the first film. No matter which film you enjoy more, you’re guaranteed a sci-fi space opera full of emotion, humor and action featuring instantaneously lovable characters. Revisit the first one and most definitely see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, if you haven’t already.

Movie Review: Logan

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam, and contains spoilers…Consider yourself warned on both counts. 😉 xoxo)

“In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.” (FOX/Marvel)

17 years of Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine comes to a close with this film. It’s a great bookend for the character overall.  This movie does borrow from Old Man Logan and X-23: Innocence Lost. What they take from Old Man Logan is an aged Wolverine traveling desert landscapes. They also take the family dynamic from that story.  However in the movie, Logan’s family aren’t two children and a wife we’ve never heard of. Instead, the family dynamic consist of Professor Xavier, Caliban, an albino mutant with mutant tracking abilities, and Laura, a girl implanted with the mutant gene, created from the DNA of Logan. While in Old Man Logan, Wolverine and company take the fight to that story’s big bad, in this film, the group is fleeing being hunted by Dr. Rice.   Speaking of X-23, a majority of that plot point was kept intact. A company called Transigen headed by Zander Rice are breeding mutants.  Laura is one of the results but unlike the X-23 comic book, other kids survived the breeding process. However, when Dr. Rice realised that the kids were harder to control as they grew and their powers continued to develop, he began working on the X-24 project. When that was ready, he ordered the X-23 kids to be terminated. When nurses at Transigen realized what is happening, they help some of the kids escape to a safe haven known as Eden. A nurse Gabriella takes charge of Laura and goes to Wolverine for help in transporting them to North Dakota.  Before they can leave, Gabriella is killed, which leaves Logan and Charles Xavier with the task of getting Laura across the border, while evading cybernetically enhanced Reavers hired by Dr. Rice and led by Donald Pierce.  The reavers, armed with X-24, a younger clone of Wolverine constantly in a berserker rage, are determined not to let Logan, Prof. X and Laura cross the border and get to North Dakota. They track our trio using Caliban, who they kidnapped and tortured.  Yes, there is a power-hungry man named Donald trying to prevent Mexican born children from crossing the border to America. Think that was done by accident? I think not! Talk about a film being socially and politically relevant. It could win an Oscar for that reason alone. As for why mutants are being bred? That’s because Transigen’s previous experiments suppressed the mutant gene by tampering with everyday food products, which eventually led to no mutant birth’s in 25 years.  This plot point takes its cues from an X-Men story known as Messiah Complex, I love that this film continued the trend of borrowing elements from several X-Men stories and fusing them with new elements. The result is a fresh but familiar story.

Something I’ve never seen in one of these X-Men films are Logan and Professor Xavier ill.  This movie gives us that right away. When you see these two men and characters, who have been physical and mental pillars of strength in this franchise, suddenly struggling with a mental illness and physical degeneration respectfully it’s incredibly jarring.  Charles Xavier has a neurodegenerative disorder similar to Alzheimer or ALS.  He loses control of his abilities and has psychic seizures.  Due to Xavier’s powers, he can paralyze those in his vicinity.   These seizures ended up killing the X-Men a year earlier and several humans, This scene is heartbreak when the truth is revealed, reminding us how powerful Xavier is and why the government fears unchecked mutant abilities.  The idea that the adamantium inside Logan’s body was poisoning him, is something that has been explored before in the comic books and the fact that his bones are coated in it, is why his healing power is slowing as he ages.  The scenes between Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are so emotionally raw.  The father son dynamic is more present than ever here. Seeing Wolverine carry professor X, remember to give him his medication, and have to deal Charles bouts of memory loss and fits of anger and paranoia, are hard to watch. I think this movie genuinely depicts a little of the frustration, pain, heartache and ultimate toll it takes on a person dealing with ALS and Alzheimer’s, as well as the loved ones who care for them. When tensions are really high, Professor X accuses Logan of waiting and hoping he’ll die, and he tells Logan he is a disappointment. In his moments of clarity, Professor X still counsels Logan, telling him it’s not too late to have a family and how he needs to and should approach being a father to Laura. Several times he stresses and reminds him she is still a child. The two also share playful banter with each other. The history and chemistry with these actors, throughout the previous movies makes the relationship feel authentic. You don’t have to have seen a previous X-Men/Wolverine film to appreciate these movies but the references are there if you have. Charles references the Statue of Liberty event from the first film. Logan mentions that Charles used to run a school that Logan got kicked out of and left a few times. This of course, referencing X2: X – Men United and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  I love that this film went meta and featured X-Men comic books existing in the film. I mean, in the film universe it makes sense that comic books and depictions in other media of a group as well-known like the X- Men would exist. I liked that Logan said the books were only partially how events happened. However, Logan’s protest about Wolverine wearing the costume, were a little insulting, referring to it as being self-absorbed and a form of branding.  While it may be true, doesn’t that hold true for the black leather outfits and the yellow and blue 60’s era flight suits seen in this film franchise before. Writer/director James Mangold is somewhat deriding the franchise he is a part of. That doesn’t seem all that smart.

The character of Laura/X-23 was a great new addition to the X-Verse and was played wonderfully by new comer Daphne Keen! This little girl was absolutely fantastic in the role. She was silent for about half the movie but her body language sold the unease of a young girl who had little contact with the outside world and who was held captive and experimented on for much of her young life. One of my few criticisms of the film was that the X-23 backstory was far too truncated. Having just read the comic version, I felt the levels of horror and harm these kids went through was definitely watered down.  Expanded scenes would’ve amplified the characters stand-off silent nature, which the young actor played so well. This young actress is adorable. It’s amazing how insane she can look when she goes full berserker rage. You could definitely see why her attackers would not be alarmed by her at first glance given her general adorability when she first enters the film. Her chemistry with Hugh Jackman was on point. I love that the relationship built from uneasiness, anger and a lack of understanding, to one of, loyalty, respect and love. That growth and transition, as well as, watching Logan navigate fatherhood brought much levity to this otherwise dark, emotional film.  Also her instant bond with Prof. X will have you saying aww. It’s the Granddaughter/Grandfather relationship you didn’t know you wanted but you absolutely needed from this franchise. Her ability to act side by side with these two acting powerhouses bodes well for her acting future and the future of the X-Men film franchise.  I thought Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce and Richard E. Grant as Dr. Zander Rice should’ve swapped roles. Both actors were good, but their performances seemed as though they would’ve been better serve as the opposite role.  Plus, Boyd Holbrook actually looks like Zander Rice from the comic books.

The action and fights are incredibly violent, as it should be when you make the decision to go for an R rating.  The violence was necessary and had consequences.  It wasn’t violence just for violence sake.   The scene in the bunker on the Mexican border where we see X23 in action for the first time is one of my favorites. When you see her go berserker rage for the first time it’s shocking.  For the longest time, we’ve only seen Logan slicing and dicing and that was always restrained given the PG 13 rating of the other films.  When you see that berserker rage coming from a 10-year-old, 4’1 girl, who not only has hand claws but foot claws as well, you can’t help but echo Wolverine’s sentiment and say; “Holy F**k!”  I mean she cuts off limbs and walks out of the bunker with a severed head in her hands.  The next brutal fight is when Logan, Xavier and Laura stop at a farmhouse for dinner and a good night’s rest. X-24 aka Wolverine’s clone lays waste to the entire family, while the reavers burn the house down. While the family isn’t Logan’s family, the scene does echo the pages in Old Man Logan, where Logan’s family is killed by The Hulk gang.  Although, Professor Xavier is killed and Laura is almost kidnapped and they are very much Logan’s family. Professor Xavier is stabbed in the heart by X-24 as he wakes from what he described as his best sleep in years. When I first saw the scene and the killer was revealed to be “Wolverine”, I thought it was a dream. It wasn’t.  This drove an already wounded Wolverine nuts and he went to town, ultimately wounding X-24 and taking out his eye. At Xavier’s burial, Logan is so choked up he couldn’t utter a word.  Did I cry? You bet your ass I did! For many, Patrick Stewart is Captain Picard, but for me Sir Patrick Stewart will ALWAYS be Charles Xavier and I was emotionally gutted, as Charles was physically gutted.  The third act is a battle in the forest, which seemingly is a prerequisite for every X-Men film.  This fight has a bit more of a traditional X-Men battle as the young mutant survivors of the X-23 project use their powers to battle and defeat the reavers. Meanwhile to protect his daughter Laura, Logan battles his evil doppelgänger X-24.   The fight is brutal. Logan gets stabbed an endless amount of times, prior to ultimately getting impaled on a tree branch. The fight harkens back to a cover image of Wolverine crucified on an X in the Uncanny X-Men issue #251.  It’s a brutal fight and it’s somewhat poetic that Logan is killed by an evil Wolverine.  Hugh Jackman brought Wolverine to life on-screen and he also literally killed him off of the big screen as well.  The scene where Laura cradles the body of her dead father in her arms, and finally refers to him as “daddy’, felt like stab wounds to my nerd heart. Yes, I cried again, but damn it, Hugh Jackman’s been Wolverine for 17 years of my 33 years of life.  His goodbye to the character deserves my tears.


I can’t think of a better way to end Hugh Jackman’s tenure as Wolverine than this film.  He started in this franchise as a lost soul who didn’t have a purpose or a family. Professor Xavier took him in, mentored him, gave him a purpose, and the X-Men became his family.  17 years later, Logan takes in a lost soul, a child who’d been tortured and experiment on. She had no family or true purpose.  Logan gave her a father and before his death, helped her find her own family of mutants.  He also gave her a defined purpose; to not become what they made her. The story of James Hewlett aka Logan aka Wolverine is truly complete.  Thank You Hugh Jackman for 17 years of dedication to the role and always making sure you gave a BADASS performance as Wolverine!

Comic Book Review: Wolverine: Old Man Logan

(Big hugs to Prince Adam for wettin’ our whistle with this whilst we wait on Logan‘s return to the big screen. 🙂 xoxo)

“Collects Wolverine (2003) #66-72 and Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size. In the future, Logan lives a quiet life. But one day an old friend shows up to ask a favor of him. And on a journey across America, the mutant Wolverine will become a hero again…” (Marvel)

 

This summer, will mark Hugh Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine, or so he says.  The film is titled Logan and features an aged up Hugh Jackman. Both Hugh and director James Mangold have sited the comic book Wolverine: Old Man Logan as inspiration. So I thought why not take advantage of the opportunity and review the graphic novel. The book is set 50 years into the future, featuring an America devoid of superheroes. The man once known as Wolverine now lives a peaceful, docile Christian life on a farm with his wife and two children.. In a conversation with his wife, Logan reveals that he hasn’t popped his claws, let alone raised his voice, in 50 years.  Before knowing the how or why, one of my favourite comic book writers, Mark Millar instantly has me intrigued, because this is the opposite demeanor and behavior I am used to from the character. Finding out why he had taken this stance, made this story even more intense. The Marvel Universe is bereft of heroes in this story because the Red Skull managed to gather all the villains together, to kill all the heroes. To neutralize the X-Men, Mysterio alters Logan’s X-Men teammates to look like a group of villains . When the X-Men return home, he sees the mansion as under attack, goes into a berserk rage and kills all the X-Men. When he realizes what he has done, he is distraught, and shock sets in. From that moment on he vows to never pop his claws or go berserker rage again. This scene was incredibly heartbreaking. If you’ve read any X-Men or watched any of the films, you know that despite his penchant for being a loner, Wolverine considers  the X-Men his family and their deaths at his hand, even accidentally would break him to a point of retracting his claws for good.  With Wolverine, and the X-Men out of the way, Red Skull, and his  lieutenants which include, Magneto, Doctor Doom, the Incredible Hulk, and others are able to kill  and capture most of the heroes. They follow this up with a take over the United States government. Red Skull installs himself as the president and separates the U.S into 4 territories, giving his lieutenants control.  The Hulk was controlling California, Doom’s domain is the bible belt and Magneto reigns over Las Vegas. The way America was split in this book, with certain factions presiding over different areas reminded, me of shows like Into the Badlands and Dominion.

Logan is urged back into the fray by Clint Barton, also old now, as well as blind.  He needs to make a cross country delivery to New Babylon, and requires Logan’s sight to drive. Logan is hesitant, but is convinced by the former Hawkeye’s promise of a big payday, so Logan can pay his land rent fee to The Hulk Gang.  These are the inbred children and grandchildren of The Hulk and his cousin She Hulk.  If Logan can’t pay, the Hulk Gang has threatened to harm his wife and children. So Logan agrees to be the driver, as long as he doesn’t have to get physical. Mark Millar throws in some clever nods to Hawkeye’s past. At one point, Logan questions Hawkeye’s allegiances, by calling out his time as a villain and his drug use. Something that I think is new to this mythology for this possible future, is Hawkeye’s familial connection to Spider – Man. Hawkeye was married to Peter Parker’s daughter. While that union ended badly, it produced Spider-Man’s grand-daughter. She’s going around calling herself Spider-Woman. She is held captive by Kingpin, She is freed by Logan and Clint. Shortly there after, she kills Kingpin and assumes control of Las Vegas and sends men chasing after her father and Logan. In addition to the Kingpin, Wolverine and Logan are confronted by Moloids, they take on two Ghost Riders and a cloned dinosaur infected by the Venom symbiote. All this before they reach New Babylon. The delivery Hawkeye and Logan had to make was viles of super soldier serum to SHIELD agents who are part of an underground resistance group trying to build a new Avengers team.  However, that SHIELD team are undercover Hydra agents working for Red Skull. The agents kill Hawkeye and Wolverine knocks them out and takes the case full of money.  This road trip segment of the book feels a little bit like a Jason Statham Transporter  film in it’s plot.  My problems with this book is that, Wolverine and Hawkeye  go through a gauntlet of villains far too quickly, It felt like a video game, just going through minor bosses to get to the big bad.  For this comic book story, that results in characters who are supposed to be important, getting a passing reference or cameo. Doctor Doom gets a two panel cameo with no dialogue and Magneto is killed off panel, by a no name thug calling himself King Pin.   Peter Parker’s grand-daughter is hyped up to the nth degree, and gets less then a full issue in the story,  One thing that I don’t understand, is that pretty much every character in this book is a villain. Spider-Woman even becomes the Kingpin. There is zero explanation as to why The Incredible Hulk is an evil overlord.  How and when did this happen? As much as I like Mark Millar as a writer, it is lazy not to include these details. The third act of the story is a tale of heroism, yet also vengeance.  Logan confronts the Red Skull , ultimately defeating and killing him. He then returns home to California to find his wife and children dead at the hands of the Hulk Gang. Here the book comes full circle. Earlier in the book, the death of his X-Men family signaled the death of Wolverine. Now the death of his human family, signals the rebirth of Wolverine. What follows is the methodical dismantling and destruction of The Hulk Gang, including Bruce Banner himself. This sequence is essentially the movie John Wick but with claws. Every member of the Hulk gang is killed, except The Hulk’s youngest child, who Wolverine vows to train and make a member of his new team, as they ride off into the sunset.

 

Steve McNiven, a frequent collaborator of Mark Millar, is the artist on this book and his work is Xtraordinary (couldn’t resist)  One of the aspects of his work I adore, is that all of the characters faces and expressions look distinct and unique. The aged versions of Logan, Clint Barton and Bruce Banner all look uniquely different.  Speaking of which, does anyone else think Wolverine looks like a short, stubbier version of Clint Eastwood? The scene of Logan looking out over the farm at the sunset  is such a beautiful peaceful image that evokes his more peaceful and Zen like attempt at life early in the book.  The shot of Logan and Hawkeye in the Spider-Mobile, being chased in the desert by a venom infected dinosaur was incredible. So much detail is on display and it looks like a mashup of movie scenes from Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road.  There is a lot of violence and blood in this book.  More so then in most of the horror genre books I’ve read and reviewed for this site. The scenes when Logan accidentally  kills the X-Men or battles Red Skull are prime examples. The way Wolverine decapitates Red Skull with Captain America’s shield is pretty inventive and expertly drawn. Old Hulk looks creepy and is even scarier then his regular MCU counterpart. The scenes where he rips Wolverine apart, eats him and then Wolverine bursts through him cutting him from the inside, are the most gruesome, highlight reel scenes of the book. My ultimate favorite single page from this book, features Wolverine angrily popping his claws, knuckles full of blood, after finding his slain family.  It signifies that berserker Wolverine is back and on the war path.

 

In terms of relatively new stories, this story is simply a modern day classic.  There are a lot of good Wolverine stories out there but this one ranks as one of the best.  Wolverine: Old Man Logan, is Wolverine’s The Dark Knight Returns.  While Frank Miller did it better, Mark Millar gave us a story that is a close second. There is a current Old Man Logan monthly book that I’m curious to know if it connects to this. I’ll have to check it out and review it for you guys and gals. This is quintessential Wolverine story telling that is a must read for any fan of the character. Get It!

Comic Reviews: Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation

(Submitted by our Superheroic/SciFi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Superfriend! 🙂 xoxo)

“Collects Ghost Rider (2005) #1-6. He’s paying the price for his deal with the Devil – is the Ghost Rider condemned to ride the highways of Hell for all eternity? His saving grace could be in the form of an unlikely ally – an industrious angel with a deal that would free Ghost Rider once and for all!” (Marvel)

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I’m not well versed in the character of Ghost Rider. I’ve seen the two movies starring Nicholas Cage, which I liked by the way (reviews for those coming soon). When it comes to Ghost Rider comics, I’m a newbie. Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation caught my eye because it was a miniseries that reintroduced Ghost Rider into modern continuity, and was written by Garth Ennis, the mastermind behind Preacher. Garth Ennis does go over Ghost Rider’s origin. Johnny Blaze sells his soul to the devil, in order to save a loved one from a terminal cancer diagnosis. In exchange, Johnny becomes the devils soul bounty hunter with a flaming skull and a cool motorcycle. While Johnny’s friend is cured of cancer, but dies in a stunt accident, as the devil screws Johnny Blaze into becoming the Ghost Rider anyway. The main difference between this origin and the movie version, is that the loved one stricken with cancer in the movie is Johnny’s father, where’s here it’s his best friend. The change doesn’t alter the impact, or gravity of the situation, or Johnny’s reasoning for making the deal and is largely an unnoticeable change. Where the book does dovetail from the film, is that the forces of hell do catch up with Ghost Rider, and he is brought down to hell, where he is subjected to the torture of trying to race his way out of hell, only to be caught and torn to pieces by a horde of demons, night in and night out. The repetition of the torture, and the frustration of Johnny Blaze almost being able to break free, but ultimately being beaten down, is like watching a twisted version of groundhog day, really emphasizing how hellish, an eternity in, well… hell would really be.

 

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To get Ghost Rider into the land of the living, he is thrown into the midst of a war between heaven and hell. An evil entity known as Kazaan escapes to Earth with the intention of bringing hell to Earth. To stop him and send him back to hell, God has sent the archangel Ruth, while the devil has sent a low level grunt in Hoss. Ghost Rider is called to the battle from a lower level angel Malachi, who promises to set Ghost Rider free from hell and restore his soul, if he can defeat Kazaan and send him back to hell. I thought it was unique to see an angel enlisting the devil’s bounty hunter, in aiding in the return of a demon back to hell. That’s been nonexistent in the various comics dealing with this conflict before that I have read. Kazaan was an incredible force to be reckoned with. The way he cons a rich oil tycoon into collecting humans for him, so that he can create a body to assume on Earth. He then uses that billionaire’s technology and manpower to drill a hole in the heart of Texas and open up the hell mouth on Earth. Kazaan is built up as such an evil bastard; you’d think he was the devil himself. I loved that Ruth was the most badass of characters and it was she, who was God’s spirit of vengeance. I’ll speak more to her badassery when discussing art but girl power was definitely on full display. Ruth’s power and importance is stressed by saying that only heaven’s highest ranking angels have bible chapters and verses named after them. There’s a big twist in this book, which is that Malachi and Kazaan are actually brothers, who have orchestrated all this to gain power in both heaven and hell. The book actually comes full circle with Ghost Rider’s origin, as once again Johnny Blaze is screwed over by a celestial being. Despite successfully defeating Kazaan, Malachi reneges on his promise and refuses to free Ghost Rider from hell. However, Ghost Rider gets his revenge by dragging Malachi down to hell on the back of his bike, forcing him to also experience the same torture as he does, night after night. I would’ve liked more story detail spent on the hierarchy and battle for power within heaven and hell but the book focuses on hell erupting on Earth and the apocalypse taking place in the third act. What’s up with Garth Ennis and making Texas the epicenter of hell on Earth. He did so in Preacher and now here. Is he trying to tell us something, or does he not like Texas?

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The art for this story is by Clayton Crain. Clayton Crain is someone whose work I had never seen before this, and I must say, it’s some of the best comic book art I have EVER seen. He’s so good, that after one view of his work, I easily put him in my top 3 artists with Alex Ross and Jim Lee. His art balances life like realism and comic book fanaticism. All the imagery of Ghost Rider on his flaming bike looks incredible. It gets the testosterone pumping, that I can’t’ help but grunt like Tim Allen during an episode of Home Improvement. The art featuring Malachi overlooking humanity is also a standout. It’s such a classic artistic depiction of the angel. Kazan’s Earthly form looked quite interesting. It wasn’t humanoid at all. At one point he looked like a bull made up of chains and at another point he looked like the world engine from Man of Steel. The devil’s lackey made me laugh, as he looked like a Wild West version of the Austin Powers character Fat Bastard. There is plenty of violence, most of which is perpetrated by God’s archangel Ruth. The best example is when she rips the rich tycoon in half and beats Hoss with half of the body, as if it were a baseball bat. It had a Tarantino esque vibe to it and made me laugh. The art coupled with colour gave this book a sort of claymation like quality to it at certain points.

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If you are a fan of horror or super heroics, you definitely will be extremely entertained and content after buying and reading this book. Ghost Rider is a fantastic character and is finally getting some attention over at Marvel. A version of the character currently appears on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, as well as just recently launching a new ongoing comic book series. Yet, I want more. The character would be a much better fit on Netflix then he is on ABC. So let’s keep showing the character love by buying his comics. Hopefully continued interest and sales, will spur Marvel to give the character his own Netflix show.