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.

#SuperheroSunday Comic Review: Smallville Season 11 #16-18

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Fiend! 😉 xoxo)

“Superman battles Batman at Stryker Island prison–and it’s not as one-sided a confrontation as you might think! Meanwhile, Nightwing mixes it up with Green Arrow.” (DC Entertainment)

The book continues Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe right where last issue left off, with Batman and Superman squaring off.  What I like about this fight is that it breaks away from the mold when dealing with this familiar altercation. This isn’t about Superman reigning in Batman at the request of the government in DKR, or Batman’s paranoia over Superman going rogue being manipulated in BvS.  For Superman the conflict is about Batman manhandling an inmate at Stryker’s Island Penitentiary in unlawful ways.  For Batman, Superman is standing in his way of getting information regarding Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents.  The man who Batman was vetting for this information was Bruno Manheim, who appeared around Season 4. This was one of several callback’s to the show throughout.  The fight was very even in that both heroes got the upper hand. Superman flicks Batman with his finger and sends him flying pretty far! Bryan Q, Miller makes it obvious Superman is holding back. Hell, he even has him say that he doesn’t want to fight.  In a nice rare treat, Batman doesn’t use Kryptonite. Instead the Bat insignia on his armor is rigged to emit red sun radiation, dampening Superman’s power.  That’s damn clever and something rarely employed by Batman during these conflicts. Given Bruce Wayne’s resources, it makes some sort of sense Bruce Wayne would outfit his suit, with such tech. As I said though, Superman wasn’t portrayed as a chump here, clearly giving as good as he got.  Nightwing even remarks that Batman had fractures everywhere.  Bruce seems almost gleeful to have survived his encounter with Superman.  Even Batman is admitting that all things being equal, Superman would have beaten him. I also loved that both Clark and Bruce discover each other’s identity. Turns out, Batman has been tracking the weirdness all the way back to Smallville. The caves, specifically the cave paintings and the Kryptonian symbol burnt in the sky as a result of Zod’s red sun towers from the last couple seasons of the show.  I love that even in the show universe, Batman is ever the detective.  I know the show’s creators wanted to have Bruce Wayne on the show but weren’t able to.  This is a nice way to tie him to the shows past mythology, even if we never saw him.  Superman is far too often played as someone who rushes into a fight, without asking questions, or truly knowing his adversary. Thankfully, Bryan. Q. Miller uses Superman’s reporting skills to good measure.  Clark remembers Bruce Wayne’s voice from a previous conversation.  Despite Batman disguising his voice, Clark’s super hearing detects the delineation.  He also uses deductive reasoning to figure out that Bruce Wayne and Batman being in town at the same time, all the while weaponry from Gotham City has arrived in Metropolis, is no coincidence.

Once Batman tells Superman why he is after Bruno Manheim, to ultimately find his parents killer, Superman agrees to help him.  There’s a great interrogation scene where Superman flies Bruno Manheim into the sky, threatening to drop him, before ultimately dropping him on the hood of the Bat-Wing.  This sequence reminded me of when golden age Superman, used to threaten to drop criminals and female abusers off of building rooftops.  There’s a great exchange where Oliver Queen admits to being jealous of Batman’s “toys” especially the stealth flying Batwing.  Speaking of Oliver Queen, he and Chloe are investigating encrypted emails being sent to him by Lex Luthor.  Lex of course denies the accusation, but we learned that it’s Tess Mercer’s mind/spirit, which is possessing Lex and sending warnings to Oliver. This remains such an intriguing way to keep Tess Mercer around, even though the show killed her off.  In a way, a great element of Smallville was watching Lex’s inner struggle to remain good or embrace evil.  Since he has embraced his true nature of villainy in this book, this Tess split personality/sleep conscience angle, is a fresh way of bringing that internal struggle back to Lex. Though, they’ll have to clarify exactly what this manifestation of Tess is, because it’s getting somewhat confusing.
Jamal Igle picks up art duties for this three issue stint, and overall, I really like what he does.  Much like the other artists who have drawn this book, he draws Chloe and Oliver Queen perfectly. His Lex Luthor is quite strong but other artists on this book have done a better rendition of Michael Rosenbaum.   I will give Jamal Igle credit for to date, drawing the best, most accurate version of Erica Durance as Lois Lane.  The page where she is on the roof using binoculars and conversing with Superman hovering in the sky, really is a great depiction.  However, several volumes in, I’m not happy with how Superman is drawn.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where he looks like the actor that played him, then there are moments where the comic book looks nothing like his TV counterpart.  Oh, and what’s with the long hair? I mean seriously, how hard is it to draw Tom Welling? The image of Batman with the red sunlight emitting from his logo reminded me of the heavily armored suit drawn by Alex Ross in his “Justice” maxi-series from a decade ago.   My favorite Superman image is him holding up Bruno Manheim in mid-air threatening to drop him. As I alluded to, it gave me Golden Age goosebumps.  I also love the Smallville flashbacks to the Native American caves and the battle with Zod. It brought me back in time, reminding me how much I miss weekly viewings of Smallville! I’ve got to give credit to Jamal Igle for drawing a BADASS Bat-Wing.  If you look at it, it’s a cross between the Batman 89 version and the Batman V Superman version.

Now more than ever, I love reviewing this book in three issue installments.  It allows me to spend a longer tome enjoying Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe.  So far, so good. They’ve made their introduction, had their fight, and to end this episode of issues, I can’t wait to see a proper team up between these two icons! Celebrate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s recent one year anniversary by experiencing Smallville’s take on this iconic meeting of the World’s Finest!

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us #4-6

WE INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED COMIC REVIEW TO PRESENT YOU WITH THIS VERY IMPORTANT #SUPERHEROSATURDAY ANNOUNCEMENT: THE FREAKING JUSTICE LEAGUE TRAILER HAS BEEN RELEASED!!! *REPEAT* THE FREAKING JUSTICE LEAGUE TRAILER HAS BEEN RELEASED!!! (And it’s dope AF, as the kool kids say. ;))

Sooooooo badass, yes, but also sooooooooo far away!! 🙁 Which brings us back to this rockin’ review from Mr. SuperheroSciFi himself, Prince Adam…Thanks for giving us a lil’ something to help fill the gap, Heroic Ho-mie. xoxoxo (PS- #thatswhatshesaid ;))

“In the wake of the unspeakable tragedy he unwittingly helped to trigger, Superman faces his greatest loss and his most challenging moral decision ever. Everything is about to pivot on the choice he makes; it could change the course of the world–and the lives of all the super heroes–forever. Green Arrow is featured in a solo adventure. Fearful of Superman’s vengeance, the archer is put in charge of protecting the Joker’s crazed accomplice, Harley Quinn. Finding somewhere to hide Harley isn’t the challenge–keeping his sanity during prolonged contact with her is. But who will be the first one to drive the other crazy? Still reeling from the destruction of Metropolis, news from a war-torn country creates a tipping point for the Man of Steel. He decides it’s time for him to take a more proactive role in stopping man’s inhumanity to man. But does the sudden appearance of Wonder Woman mean he’s created a new enemy or converted an ally to his cause?” (DC Comics)

Two out of the three books deal with the fallout of the Joker’s heinous crimes, while the middle issue is a humorous but still heartfelt interlude that lightens the mood. Issues 4 & 6, show Superman going through stages of grief and anger. The scene with Superman holding a deceased Lois Lane in his arms in the middle of the detonation zone was such a quietly haunting moment, which lingers long after you’ve read the story. There’s an incredible exchange between Batman and the Joker that calls to mind The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight. When Joker explains that he did what he did, because it would be fun to see how Superman would react, proves that Tom Taylor has grasped Joker’s chaos and sick mentality. Issues #4 & 6 really set up Superman’s status quo hinted at in the game. Superman kills Joker in such a way that is so shocking, at least to this Superman fan. The death of his wife, the fact that he broke one of his cardinal rules, and add that to what he’s witnessing in a war-torn country and Superman decides to be more forceful! After revealing his identity, he puts the world on notice that he won’t allow the loss of anymore innocent lives. Killing and getting involved in wars, foreign or domestic, are against type for Superman but given what he’s been through, completely understandable. Even though this book is a video game tie-in, none of these reactions feel forced to line up with the game. These occurrences progress very naturally. Issue #5 was a nice change of pace. It was mostly Green Arrow babysitting Harley Quinn, a.k.a. keeping her hidden from Superman. The result is an exchange between Harley and Oliver, where Tom Taylor reminds fans that at one point in comics’ history, Green Arrow was a cheap Batman knockoff. In the midst of the humor, Mr. Taylor manages to remind readers that a hero who is not afraid to go over the edge for justice and a homicidal maniac are still people with emotions and a need for human comfort.

There are so many great images in these three issues. Seriously, the scene with Batman & the Joker looks so much like the “The Dark Knight”, especially Batman. The scene where Superman kills Joker will leave you speechless. It’s quite the jarring imagery. Likewise, the previously mentioned image of Superman cradling Lois’ lifeless body will send shivers through your body. Mike Miller does great work in issues #4 & 6. Bruno Redondo draws issue #5 and treats fans to a look at vintage Oliver Queen, while giving Harley Quinn a more dangerous yet sexy updated look. The only thing I didn’t like was the Arrow car. It looks ridiculous to me. Jheremy Raapack creates a stunning depiction of a Batman vs. Superman confrontation for the cover! Seeing as these are my two favourite characters, this cover leaves me captivated yet conflicted, just like the movie did!


The creative team continues to create a book that I consistently want to read. It firmly makes my top 3 “must read” list, despite have great “new” comics to read every week Since it feels like there is so much more to come, it could easily find itself standing at the very top of that list before too long!

Comic Book Review: Lucifer Vol. 1 : Cold Hell

(Submitted by our Superheroic SciFi guru, Mr. Dr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Duper friend!! PS- Canada, am I right?? 😉 xoxo)

“Lucifer is back—wounded and weakened, but suave and savvy as ever. And he’s about to be handed the biggest mystery in the history of Creation: God has been found dead, and the Lightbringer is the prime suspect in His murder. To clear his name and reclaim his throne, Lucifer must solve the Deicide himself. But even with help from the disgraced archangel Gabriel, the task is daunting. To maintain the status quo in both Heaven and Hell, angels and demons alike are determined to pin the crime upon the First of the Fallen—but it will be a cold day in either realm before the Devil fails to get his due. “ (DC Entertainment)

The character of Lucifer is getting his time in the spotlight. First, a television series inspired by the Vertigo comic book and now a new ongoing title. This may lead you to believe that this comic is a tie-in, merely serving as promotion to the television show.  This is actually not the case. Although, the show and the book do share commonalities. In both iterations Lucifer has left hell, owns a nightclub named Lux, and the character of Mazikeen is present. In the show, Lucifer has left hell and moved to LA as he’s fed up with God, and needs a vacation from running the biblical underworld. Mazikeen serves as his right hand woman, helping him run Lux, while he consults with the L.A.P.D. in solving crimes and capturing the worst of the worst criminals.  Near the back half of the first season and for much of the second season to date, God send’s Lucifer’s angelic brothers to Earth, in an attempt to return Lucifer to hell, a place he has no intention of revisiting. The comic sees Lucifer leave hell because of his ongoing tension and frustration with God, but also because he’s fed up with being blamed for everything that goes wrong in both heaven and hell.  Unlike the show, in the comic when leaving hell, Lucifer had to relinquish his angelic abilities and also different from the show, Lucifer hand picks Mazikeen to preside over hell in his absence.

The book starts out with a bang, as we are introduced to a wounded and powerless Lucifer, who’s wound mysteriously is spreading to his heart. We are also introduced to the angel Gabriel,   who has been banished from heaven and stripped of his powers, after failing to kill Lucifer. We then cut to heaven, where archangel Metatron discovers that  God has been killed. He instantly blames Lucifer. When Lucifer and Gabriel discover the news, they set out on a journey to clear Lucifer’s name and find the real killer . I liked the dynamic of Gabriel and Lucifer working together even with an antagonistic relationship in place. The back and forth between the two brothers definitely called to mind Sam and Dean Winchester on Supernatural.  Although, there is far more hatred between Gabriel and Lucifer given the fact that they both tried to willingly and consensually kill each other.   Writer Holly Black fully embraces religion and mythology by taking our characters and the readers on a journey through hell and the dream world to solve the mystery. They did mention and show a flashback to Morpheus in the dream world, which is a nice nod and call back to the Lucifer characters origin in The Sandman series. In fact, this series doesn’t negate the previous Lucifer or Sandman series.  Instead, this is part of that continuity. This little tidbit got me curious to finally bite the bullet and start reading some Sandman. Having our two characters traverse the dream realm almost gave us  second story in this book. During this segment of the sojourn, we learn of Azazel, an angel who was responsible for consuming people’s sin’s. He eventually got overwhelmed by the lure of sin and craved more. However, survivors of a village Azazel has over run with sin are fed up and coerce him into having a child.  That child is groomed to hate his father, eventually killing him. In a bizarre sci-fi twist, the son eventually becomes his father. Lucifer remembers that Azazel is the one who stabbed him. In modern day, Lucifer and Gabriel track Azazel to Earth, where he is possessing humans, and forcing them to comitt terrible sin.  Lucifer forces Azazel to heal him.  I must admit, writer Holly Black had me convinced that Azazel was the killer, however, in a clever off-panel twist back in the dream world, Lucifer learns that it was Gabriel all along that had killed God.  Like the reader, Gabriel had no inclination that he had done this. He had been manipulated into doing so and then wiped of his memory. So appalled with himself, Gabriel storms down to hell, asking Mazikeen to tell her who put him up to killing God. In exchange, he will become one of her servants, a curse upon heaven. The two strike an accord and armed with his full set of powers and brand new black wings, he heads off in search of who wronged him. As for who that was and what’s next for Lucifer Morningstar, we have to wait and see.

The art was  drawn by Lee Garbett with colors handled by Antonio Fabela.  The art style is a mix of animation with some grit to it. I’m reminded a bit of Eduardo Rizzo. There’s a great image of Lucifer in his car, arriving in L.A. and overlooking the city. Having that as the first page of the story allows the reader to enter the story with the main character, making me feel as though I was part of the proceedings.  The story sequence where Lucifer and Gabriel enter the dream space had two great moments in it. One was seeing Lucifer confront the dream sequence version of himself, which looked like the more monstrous version of himself, complete with red skin, horns and hooves.  The other is the scene where we see Lucifer leaving the dream world wearing a trench coat and a fedora. It felt appropriate because at times this book had a film noir look to it. The flashbacks featuring Azazel’s origin’s made him look like evil incarnate. He looked so evil in fact, that you almost forget that Lucifer is the lord of hell.  There’s a great splash page of Lucifer and Gabriel flying high in the sky as the sun rises to start the day. The scenery and colour here was absolutely perfect. If you like that classical depiction of angels, this image is definitely one for you. Hell looked appropriately dank, desolate, and scorching hot. Mazikeen sitting on the throne of hell looked powerful, dominant and looked perfectly at home reigning in hell. If the character’s personality wasn’t enough, these images tell you exactly why Lucifer chose her as his replacement. It’s worth noting that both male and female exposed nipple is featured in this book.

This book has been getting a lot of praise from both my inner circles and mainstream comics press and rightfully so.  This graphic novel succeeds at appealing both to fans of the TV show as well as fans of the original comic book run.  If you aren’t familiar with either, you don’t have to be. It’s easy for new readers too! This book is definitely finding a place on my permanent rotation.  This book proves, that no matter morning or night, this version of Lucifer is a star!

Movie Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for this write up, Heroic Ho-mie. I’ve been wondering whether or not this lived up to your Bat-spectations! 😉 xoxo)

“In the irreverent spirit of fun that made ‘The LEGO (R) Movie’ a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure: ‘The LEGO (R) Batman Movie.’ But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.” (Warner Brothers)

While this is a follow up to The LEGO Movie, in that if features the same Batman and voice actor playing him, other than that, there are no real callback’s or references to that movie.I look at this movie as a Batman film that is set in the multiverse. Specifically on a DC Universe made entirely of LEGO’s. The plot is simple, yet isn’t very far off from your typical Batman Vs Joker encounter. Joker tries to destroy Gotham City in an effort to finally one up and get victory over Batman.In his first attempt The Joker loads a plane with bombs and grenades, and plans to detonate it, unless the mayor is handed over to him. Little does he know, Batman is disguised as the Mayor and intercedes. During their standoff Joker demands Batman admit that Joker is his greatest enemy. When Batman insinuates repeatedly that the Joker doesn’t mean enough to him to make that declaration, the Joker ignites the timer on the bombs forcing him to choose between capturing him, or rescuing Gotham. Of course, Batman chooses Gotham. The Joker laughs with maniacal glee as he escapes, while Batman is cheered and given a heroes salute for defusing the bomb. While our hero emerged to accolades and praise and our villain escaped free, their euphoria is shown to be a façade. Batman returns home to an empty Batcave, spending his night eating alone, watching a movie in his home theater alone, and brooding over the picture of Thomas and Martha Wayne, wondering if they’d be proud of his Batmaning accomplishments. In these moments, Alfred reveals that Bruce Wayne’s greatest fear, is being part of a family again. Batman is also struggling with devoting all of his time to being Batman. Meanwhile, the Joker sits in his lair with a who’s who of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, miserable that Batman didn’t validate the specialness of their hero/villain dynamic. In a room full of his villain brothers and sisters, who look to him to lead, there’s a moment where Joker feels utterly useless and alone. This movie is flashy fun and funny, but there are deeper themes and messages they’re trying to get across, especially to their younger audience. These include the importance of family, being aware of your self-worth, but also placing your trust in others. The importance of being strong and independent, yet knowing when to work with others to achieve something greater. This is as story of relationships. Different types of relationships, both functional and dysfunctional.

Batman gets his chance to be Bruce Wayne, during the announcement of the New Commissioner of Police for Gotham City. Jim Gordon is exiting the position and the reason being is he is retiring. Taking his place is his daughter, Barbara Gordon. In most comic book incarnations, she’s a librarian. Here she is a well-established officer of the law, who transferred over from Bludhaven. Sure they changed things from her comic book background, her being a police officer to start and having fighting training from the “Harvard of Police,” made her becoming Batgirl palpable in this version. Especially since Batman is adamant about working alone. While Batman may not want partners, Bruce Wayne is infatuated with Barbara Gordon. So much so, that the song “Died in Your Arms” played the first time, and several times after he sees her. While there is romance inferred between Barbara and Bruce, it is in its beginning stages. I definitely don’t see this iteration of the relationship pissing fans off like The Killing Joke animated film did. We also see the first meeting of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. While Dick Grayson’s comic book origin is kept intact, some changes are made. His parents are killed in the trapeze accident, he’s sent to an orphanage and eventually adopted by Bruce Wayne, before becoming Batman’s partner Robin. However, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson meet at the party announcing the new Commissioner Gordon. Bruce Wayne was so enamoured by Barbara that he was randomly saying yes to whatever Dick asked him. One of those things he said yes to, was adopting Dick Grayson. Given the arrogant, narcissistic nature of this version of Batman, this outcome is picture perfect. Meanwhile, the Joker has hatched his next plan. He and the rest of Batman’s rogues will turn themselves into the GCPD, thus being sent to Arkham Asylum. This leaves Batman without any supervillains to fight and in a way, proves that without Joker Batman would be rendered moot. Batman is left lonely, and rather than admit he desires a family and spend time getting to know Dick or even Barbara, he gets fixated on putting the Joker in the Phantom Zone, to get rid of him once and for all. Dick Grayson is brought into Batman’s world and the identity of Robin is created. Batman enlists his help to steal the Phantom Zone projector from the Fortress of Solitude. They manage to get the Phantom Zone projector, but when they make their way to Arkham Asylum, the Joker and his crew make an escape stealing the phantom zone projector, and releasing the worst criminals, not only of DC, but many in the Warner Brothers film library. It was great seeing the likes of Lord Voldemort, the Eye of Sauron, King Kong, and Godzilla. Even some non-WB IP make cameos, including Dracula and the Daleks from Doctor Who. Those two aren’t mentioned by name because of legal reasons. With these new villains unleashed, Gotham City is ravaged, burned, broken and nearly torn apart. It is here where Barbara Gordon becomes Batgirl. Even Alfred joins the fray. The finale involves, everyone from Team Batman, the rogues, and even the citizens of Gotham joining together to save the city. I won’t tell you how exactly. For that you must see the film.

 

I’m literally amazed at the character growth our hero goes through. Batman starts out, as I’ve mentioned, an arrogant loner, who thinks he’s the best at everything he does. He is, but we as the viewer see that this behavior is part of an act to hide his pain of losing his parents and being alone. I actually teared up, when he was looking at the image of his parents and having a conversation with them. Yes, a LEGO movie made me cry. Don’t judge. When he meets Robin that characters youth and hopeful outlook begins to break down Batman’s walls. You see when he’s training Robin that he’s feigning sarcasm to keep up his “persona.” Barbara Gordon further changes Batman’s opinion on working with a team. You really sees how much he cares, when he programs his vehicle the bat scutter to take Batgirl, Robin and Alfred away from Gotham, while he dealt with the Phantom Zone escapees. They think he’s doing it so he can have all the glory for saving the day, when in reality, he does it out of fear of potentially losing his new Bat family, the way he did his parents. He further shows them how much he truly cares, by giving them their own personal Bat-Signals and then reveals himself to Dick Grayson to be Bruce Wayne In case you’re wondering, yes, I got emotional during both these scenes. What can I say, I’m an emotional fanboy when it comes to Batman.

Yes there’s character evolution and emotion but make no mistake, there is a Batcave full of humor here. It starts right in the opening credits. Batman comments on the fact that all great movies start with a black screen and terrifying music that make studios and parental groups nervous. He then comments on the company logos. He mistakenly calls Warner Brother’s Warner Bra’s. When the DC comics logo appears, he refers to DC as the house that Batman built. He then tells Superman; “Come at me bro”. When the Rat Pac logo appears, Batman wonders what exactly they do, but remarks how cool their logo looks. This intro reminded me of Deadpool’s intro. Granted this one was PG. It was also better because it featured Batman and Batman will always be better than Rob Liefeld’s rip-off Deathstroke character. 😉 In its humor, the film finds ways to make nods to past Batman incarnations. In the scene where Batman stares at his parents portraits, Alfred mentions that Bruce is going through one of his brooding fazes, like he has in 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Not only was Alfred name dropping years that Batman films were released, but a montage of Lego posters of those films were shown. Except for Batman and Robin and Batman ’66. For Batman and Robin, they flashed a picture of Clooney’s Bat-Nipples. Yes, that still scares the piss out of me. Adam West got much more respect and deservedly so. The film actually showed a clip of him doing the Batusi. When the Joker tries to blow up the Gotham City airport, the air traffic controller remarks that Batman will stop him; just like he did that time with the balloons and the Prince music, as well as that other time with the two boats. These are obvious callback’s to both Batman ’89 and The Dark Knight. At her announcement ceremony, Barbara Gordon shows a video for how long Batman’s been cleaning up Gotham City’s crime ridden streets. Here, the animations on the monitors reflect imagery from the Superfriends, Batman the Animated Series, even the black and white film series from the 40’s are featured. This film is very much a love letter to every Batman era. It continues to make fun of itself. For instance, when the Joker proclaims himself to be Batman’s greatest adversary, Batman responds by saying Superman is! Joker then retorts that Superman isn’t a villain. Barbara suggests to Batman, that they use his rogue’s gallery to battle the Phantom Zone escapee’s. Batman responds; “You want me to use a team of bad guys, to fight bad guys? That’s stupid!” This funny Suicide Squad dig wasn’t my favourite though. That distinction belongs to two nods in particular. The first is when Batman visits the Fortress of Solitude. He rings the doorbell of the giant door and the John Williams Superman theme begins playing. As a Superman fan that had me laughing and smiling joyously. The line that had me in stitches, was the password to enter the Bat Cave. That phrase being; “Iron Man Sucks.” As a lifelong fan of DC Comics, and someone who feels that while the Marvel films are good but many are highly over-rated, I can’t express in enough detail how much joy this line of dialogue brought me.

The voice acting was very strong by all but one of our lead actors. Will Arnett once again gives Batman a gravely, cocky arrogance that, while it would be annoyingly frustrating from any other character, is positively endearing and adorable coming from LEGO Batman. Michael Cera’s Robin was higher pitched and had a more youthful tone then I’m used to for Robin. Shockingly I wasn’t annoyed by it, even when the character was singing. For the story being told, Robin’s role in it and the fact that the character is clearly appealing to a younger audience, having him sound younger makes absolute sense. Ralph Fiennes sounded great as Alfred. He brought a great mix of compassion and classic English droll that is synonymous with the character. Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl is a standout. She has a commanding authoritative presence in her voice as the police commissioner, but is kinder and gentler when dealing with Batman and Robin. She sounded somewhat like a big sister with them. Zach Galifianakis was just okay as the Joker. Neither his voice nor his laugh really stood out or made me take notice. Far more disappointing then that was Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn. There was no distinct accent and she didn’t utter the word “Puddin’” once. It was just Jenny Slate reading her lines.  As a super fan of Batman ’89, it was great to have the look and voice of Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face. However, it was such a letdown that he only had one line. Zoe Kravits was wasted as Catwoman, only uttering the word “Meow” twice in the film. The only supporting rogue whose voice entertained me was Doug Benson as Bane, who sounded exactly like Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises. Also, Superman sounded like a douchebag in this movie. Then again he was played by Channing Tatum, so that explains it. No wonder I was hoping Batman would kick his ass! Visually, the animation looked great! The opening action sequence stopping the bomb at the Gotham City airport was so action packed it felt like it belonged in a live action film. There was so much detail and so many levels to the Batcave. You see the various Batmobile’s as well as the Dinosaur and giant penny. I just wish we got more close up shots of these things, so I could inspect the details of each. Oh well, guess that’s what freeze framing the Blu-ray will be for. Seeing the crystak Fortress of Solitude was a great bit of nostalgia, as was the word effects popping up during the third act fight, to evoke Batman 66. The fight was even framed, positioned and shot, like a fight sequence on that show. I never thought I’d see Godzilla or King Kong in a Batman film. The fact that I saw both in this film, makes this film visually breathtaking. Also, those Lego recreations of the Burton/Schumacher and Nolan era Batman film posters were so incredible. I didn’t know that I wanted them, but now that I have them, they will soon be a profile picture or banner, on every one of my social media outlets.

Given all the drama surrounding The Batman live action movie, specifically who will direct it and if Ben Affleck will star in it, The LEGO Batman Movie is exactly what we need right now. A fun, entertaining love letter to this incredible character and his history. I don’t think it would be fair to rate this amongst live action Batman movies. They’re vastly different entities. I will say it’s the Batman movie I’ve had the most unadulterated fun watching. As far as animated Batman films, it’s definitely one of the best. It stands right alongside Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Under the Red Hood and Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker. I loved The LEGO Batman Movie. It’s fun for Batman fans of all ages and an absolute treat no matter what era of Batman you may be partial to!

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 Book Review: Vampirella #7

(Submitted by our resident SuperheroScifi Stud, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie!! 🙂 xoxo)

Her name is Sofia, a young woman pulled into the maelstrom of violence and supernatural terror that surrounds Vampirella. She’s stood at Vampirella’s side during the terrifying battle Against the Lord of Worms, fought the blood-hungry legions of Dracula, and survived the clutches of the vile Le Fanu. But who is Sofia, and what secrets lurk in her past? Written by Eric Trautmann (Action Comics, The Shield) and illustrated by Walter Geovani (Red Sonja), this issue marks the transition to a new — and bloodier — chapter for Vampirella!” (Dynamite)

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Usually, I review completed story arcs of comic books.  However, on rare occasions, I’ll make an exception. As it says in the description, this story is a transition between the previous story arc and the new upcoming one.  Normally, these types of stories offer nothing of value to the story, or the mythology and are a filler one off story.  This story is not. It picks up right after the events of last issue, and we see Sofia helping a wounded and spent Vampirella back to her apartment.  Sofia hooks Vampirella up to  the makeshift intravenous she has in her apartment, connecting it to the bags of blood she finds stacked in the fridge.  I really like the inclusion of these moments, as writer Eric Trautmann points out how well prepared Vampirella is for every possible scenario. She has contingency plans and is not arrogant about herself or her prowess, despite her nature and enhanced abilities.  While Vampirella recovers, the story alternate between flashbacks and present day, to flesh out the backstory and character of Sofia. After all she’s been through in the first story, almost being bitten by Le Fanu, and helping battle the Lord of Worms, I questioned why a normal human being would stick around for more of this craziness? She had a terrible child hood, where she and her mother endured abuse from her step father, as well as being picked on and ridiculed in high school.  So I think it’s natural that she’d stick with a woman who saved her and who she saved in return. The other reason she stays, in this new world of vampires and monsters, is because she’s a vampire fan girl.  She’s a big fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  I love that her recent experiences, seemed to toughen Sofia up, and encourage her to confront and kick her verbally abusive and demeaning boyfriend to the curb.  Between last volume and this story, you get the sense Sofia is Vampirella’s take on Mina, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula story. Sofia even mentions that character is her favourite in that story.  Even though Sofia, is a  fan girl of vampire and monster mythology, I’m glad writer Eric Trautmann showed her being flustered and overwhelmed by what she had experienced. This is a natural reaction, and one that would happen if this were a real life situation, no matter how much of a fan of the fictional mythology one may be. While Vampirella rests, Sofia searches the internet for more information on who and what exactly Vampirella is. She stumbles on fan sites, and conspiracy theory articles about Vampirella’s origins.  All of them are either off base, or wrong, which is great for the story conceit of keeping her origins a mystery to the outside world. Nobody tends to believe the credibility of fan or conspiracy theory websites. Even in a character driven issue, the mythology is moved forward when Vampirella wakes up from her dream screaming the name Adam! If Vampirella were real, I’d love to her to be screaming my name in bed. 😉 However, in this case, she was referring to Adam Van Helsing. I can’t wait to see how the presumed relative of the famed vampire hunter factors into this book going forward.

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Artist Walter Geovani takes over on art for this issue.  The art style is in the same vein (pun intended) as the previous story arc.  However, I feel this artist provides greater detail and close up imagery where facial features are concerned.  The art really does a great job of showcasing the dichotomy of Vampirella being as beautiful as a supermodel. But also being a monster with vampire fangs, and a bloody mess. Those scenes of Vampirella wounded and bloody lying in bed, were expertly drawn and colored, perfectly highlighting the beauty and brutality of this title and its main character. I loved the look of Sofia. She was vey unique, and stood out in her own right. To me it seems like their was a mix of punk rock/goth look to her. She’s got a more punk look to her in my opinion. The green hair was a really good choice. It looked good and gave me a momentary flashback to the female Joker in Batman: Thrillkiller.  The pages with Sofia searching the internet for info on Vampirella felt very meta, because I was on the internet on comixology reading about Vampirella! This book is light on action, so it made the image of Sofia kneeing her now ex boyfriend in the groin, all the more painful and exhilarating. Painful because as a man, every time you see a visual of a man getting kneed in the groin, you feel residual pain. Exhilarating because he absolutely deserved it. All the deferent covers for this book are fantastic, and could be Cosplay material for out very on Diana Prince. The one above is my favourite! Vampirella is without a doubt Bootyful! 😉

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One of the reasons I love this issue, is because it puts the focus entirely on Sofia. From the first story arc, I could sense that she was Robin to Vampirella’s Batman, Gabrielle to Vampirella’s Xena. So it’s great that we get a chance to sink our teeth into  her back story and what makes her tick. I look forward to seeing more of her, as well as where the rest of the book takes us in general. While you don’t have to read this to keep up with the overall story, you most definitely should!

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son Vol. 1

(Submitted by our Superhero Scifi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

In the 19th century, Dr. Victor Frankenstein brought his first creation to life, but a horrible turn of events forced him to abandon his creation and fall away from the public eye. Now, two centuries later, a serial killer is on the loose in New Orleans, and he’s salvaging body parts from each of his victims, as if he’s trying to create the perfect person. But the two detectives assigned to the case are about to discover that something far more sinister is going on… (Dynamite)
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I first saw this book on Comixology when searching for Helsing. I mean it had the Frankenstein name and art by Brett Booth, so I was in. For the first little bit of this story, it felt like an episode of CSI. We had detectives investigating a series of murders that were rather gruesome. As I continued reading, I thought the only connection to Frankenstein lore, would be that the killer cut off and seemingly took body parts from his victims.  If that was the case, I would’ve felt a little ripped off. However, the book gets interesting when it reveals that the Frankenstein myth is very real. Frankenstein’s monster, who goes by the name Deucalion, is living in a monastery in the mountains of Rombuk seeking enlightenment. That enlightenment is interrupted when Deucalion gets word that Victor Frankenstein is still alive. He now goes by the name of Victor Helios, one of New Orleans wealthiest citizens, a philanthropist with a beautiful wife and hundreds of loyal employs. It would be fair to assume that Victor is the murderer and back to his old ways. That is partially inaccurate, as the killer is revealed to be Roy Pribeaux, He intended to make the world a better place by eliminating the ugly people. He then takes that idea even further by murdering people who would eventually be corrupt by human emotions, and saving their most beautiful exterior body parts. Victor Frankenstein is up to his own mad scientist schemes. In an abandoned run down hospital laboratory, Victor Frankenstein has created hundreds of “people”. In this iteration, he seems to have upgraded his technique by harvesting and growing body parts and internal organs, as well as being able to download and sync a human mind to his creations. With all his wealth and hundreds of years of technological improvements, it’s logical and believable that Victor would be able to advance and improve upon his technology. His plans have gotten bigger as well. He has slowly been integrating his creations into society, with the eventual intent of replacing humans with his superior species.  I can suspend my disbelief for all of this, yet I am severely disappointed that writer Chuck Dixon didn’t provide any reason as to why Victor has lived this long and maintains a youthful appearance.
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In the outside world, the murder plotline thickens. When another murderer begins to kill, he similarly removes body parts, but instead of external, he goes for internal organs.  This second killer is revealed to be one of Frankenstein’s experiments, fascinated with what makes humanity tick and death itself. The book ends with one of Frankenstein’s newest monster killing  the human “copycat” killer and threatens Frankenstein, that he will kill not only humans, but his creators other creations, until he finds the secret to the goodness and light humans are capable of possessing. Deucalion resurfaces in New Orleans and tells the detectives on the case the true nature of the murders occurring in New Orleans, and offers to help them. In addition to liking the new twists to Victor’s technology and master plan, I enjoyed Chuck Dixon’s nod’s to classic iterations of this story. Specifically, the idea that the monster, in this case, Deucalion lives in a theater and was once a carnival act. We saw hints of this most recently in Penny Dreadful. I also liked the idea that Frankenstein created more then one monster, they had rebelled against him, and would face off against him. That battle was only hinted at here mind you, but still.  One of the drawbacks to this book for me, was that there was way too much being crammed into five issues. Having to establish Deucalion, the murders cases in New Orleans, the new status quo of Victor Frankenstein and his goals, it felt like the story was giving us little teases of each, rather then giving us time to process and explore the different aspects of the story.  The two Frankenstein monsters that are positioned and teased as the central figures in the conflict of this story, are merely bookends to a story that predominantly amounts to an episode of a would be CSI: New Orleans show, with brief snippets of sci-fi and horror sprinkled in.
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I’m familiar with Brett Booth’s artwork. He’s had runs on The Flash and Supergirl and is currently working on Titans as part of DC Rebirth.   The imagery I loved most here, were was the flashback scene featuring Victor Frankenstein creating Deucalion. On the table, full of stitching and cuts, with lightening raining down from the sky. It was classic horror magic on display. The picture of Victor Frankenstein in his modern day lab surrounded  by computers and containers with body part and organs being harvested and grown, was also a favorite of mine because it highlights the changing times and advanced technology he’s working with.  It’s also an example of the principle that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Also, Frankenstein in that setting, complete with lab coat and sinister facial expression, makes for quintessential mad scientist imagery.  The image of Deucalion looking out standing atop a mountain at the Rombuk Monastery  was spectacular. Firstly, because Brett Booth took his cues from the real life Rongbuk Monastery. Secondly, the scenery is beautiful and peaceful, which contrasts with the scars and external pain we can see and sense in Deucalion.  My problems with the art are twofold. First, Brett Booth’s faces and their expressions all look the same, The only thing that differentiates characters, aside from their gender are hair and skin color.  The murders and horror, when described, sounded brutal and disgusting, however, when shown, it’s as if this book went out of it’s way to be as tame and PG as possible.  I’m not saying it has to be overtly gory but I certainly expected much more then we got.
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For three quarters of this book it was a generic crime drama that you can find any night of the week on CBS and NBC. When the book dealt with Frankenstein mythology, it was fantastic. Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between. I’ll come back for one more volume, to find the answers to questions left without any, and to see the fight between Frankenstein’s creations. However, if this book doesn’t improve drastically, it’s off of my rotation!

#SuperheroSaturday: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Heroic Ho-mie! This is perfect for today… 😉 xoxo)

“See Wonder Woman like you’ve never seen her before in WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON, an original graphic novel from Eisner Award-winning writer and artist Jill Thompson. Join Princess Diana in her early years, as she develops into the formidable hero we know and love.” (DC Entertainment)
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This book is a unique interpretation of Wonder Woman. The book is essentially Smallville for Wonder Woman. At the tail end of the book, we get Diana in Wonder Woman attire and setting off for her super heroic adventures in man’s world. The  focus is on the origins, specifically highlighting Themyscira as well as what drove Diana to become Wonder Woman. In this book, while Amazonia was distant from other areas of man’s world, the Amazon’s still lived and interacted  with men. Things went awry, when the majority of men complained that the Amazon’s were a scam and corrupting their daughters, almost as a cult would.  They call on Herakles to battle with Queen Hippolyta and vanquish the Amazon. The wars were fierce and brutal, with death on both sides of the ledger.  As the battle rages on, Hera discovers that Zeus admires and is enamored with Queen Hippolyta and plans to secretly join her army and get intimate with her, before swaying the war to Herakles and man’s side.   Hera teams with Poseidon, to grant Hippolyta and the Amazon’s safe passage from Amazonia to the island of Themyscira.  Themyscira is still a secret and secluded island, but the fact that it is an island that was used to keep the god’s most prized possessions and secrets hidden. It’s fitting then that the most prized and  powerful, unique and  ancient civilization in the DC Universe resides there. I applaud writer Jill Thompson, for writing in scenes that tell us that Themyscira was rather baron of culture and civilization, prior to the arrival of Amazon’s. Through the years, it was turned into a peaceful, loving society. They excelled in a variety of facets. Art, clothing and food were some highlighted. Usually, when we see Themyscira in other books, it is a fully formed and functioning society, Having it inferred and seeing snippets of what make’s that society tick, on day to day life  was a nice change of pace. If the Amazon’s are all about piece and love, what are the purpose for the gladiatorial competitions.  In most iterations of the story, it’s to win the honor of going to man’s world, being both the ambassador and their champion, Here, the ceremonial war games are a tribute to all the fallen Amazonian’s, who lost their lives in the battle with Herakles and his forces. To me, this reason is a little more powerful because hit hits close to home for the Amazon’s, and tugs on the heart strings of the reader, more than the traditional explanation does.
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In terms of Diana specifically, this book goes with the made of clay iteration of her origin. Full disclosure, the clay origin is my least favorite of Wonder Woman origins. I always imagined one of the god’s playing with play dough, leading to the creation of Wonder Woman. I prefer her origin as the daughter of Zeus a la the New 52, or even the daughter of Hercules, as seen in Wonder Woman: Earth One. Having said that, Jill Thompson did a wonderful job of making me connect to the clay version. This book sees Hippolyta head to the sea every night. She sits by the sand and molds a baby, She then sings a lullaby to the lifeless creation, detailing how she would nurture and care for the child if it were real. Her sad songs are heard throughout Themyscira and reverberate below to Poseidon in the sea, and all the way up to the Gods of Mount Olympus. Zeus and the other gods are so moved by Hippolyta’s song and emotion. It brings them to tears. Those tears are imbued with life, manifesting as rain and when they hit the mold of the child, it is brought to life and begins to cry. Thus, Diana Prince is born. Showing Hippolyta in the light of a bereft mother broke my heart. No joke. I cried during this part of the story, I was so emotionally invested. When Diana let out her first cry I cheered. Suddenly, what once seemed hokey to me became very legitimate.  When the synopsis says that you’ll “see Wonder Woman like you’ve never seen her before”, they weren’t kidding, From childhood through to adulthood, Diana is a pretentious spoiled brat. Since birth she is thought of as a gift from the gods and constantly exalted. As a child., she would constantly throw tantrums when she didn’t get her way and play cruel tricks on her nanny to get what she wanted. She’d make her seamstresses start all over again if even one element of the garments wasn’t to her liking.  As she got older, she would always brag that she was the best of the Amazon’s, better then all her sisters. To prove it, she went to the darkest corners of the island to battle the various mythological creatures. When she subdued them, she trapped them in a silver serpent horn. Her fellow sisters were inspired by this and constantly wanted to be around her and part of her inner circle All accept Alethea, a stable maiden.  She won’t pay Diana any attention. When Diana questions her as to why,  Alethea say a persons actions are more important then their words.  So Diana  shadows her and tries to live a similar life. Alethea knows it’s an act and isn’t having it.
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Diana decides to join the Gladiatorial Games and feels that by winning the games, Alethea will see Diana’s honesty and heroism, becoming her BFF.  As Diana progresses in the games, she fears she may lose, so she pulls out the serpent horn and releases the monsters she had trapped in an effort to distract the other warriors and horses, long enough to win the final chariot race. However, her plan backfires and the creatures injure and kill both horses and Amazons.  Diana then enters the fray. Even she is being overwhelmed by the beasts. One of her fiercest competitors in the games leaps in to help Diana, but is bitten and thrown around like a rag doll. While the mythical monsters that remain flee the scene, the Amazons are horrified by the death and destruction Diana’s actions have caused.  When the warrior that was killed is prepped for burial, her head armor is removed to reveal Alethea. Diana was already distraught over what she caused, and after this reveal she is absolutely mortified. This is the revelation Diana needed to see how horrible of a person she had been. This leads her to her Bruce Wayne moment, where she vows to use her strength and abilities for good and to serve others. One thing that I loved  about this book is it’s presentation of Diana and how she actually had a character arc. There’s a transition of being spoiled and self absorbed, to realizing you were wrong, and dedicating life to something more and better. Diana is going through her own heroes journey in this book.  Many of the stories I’ve read, feature an already warm, loving and altruistic Diana.  There’s nothing  wrong with a hero being good from the get go, however in a coming of age/origin story like this one, that conceit can be very limiting. Despite Diana’s new outlook on life, she has to face punishment for her actions. Presided over by her mother, all the remaining living amazons vote on her fate. Screams of maiming, burning, and even killing her echoed through the crowd. However, there are compassionate voices in the crowd.  It is decreed that Diana would be banished from Paradise Island, only to return when she atoned for her behavior by being a protector on man’s world. The book ends, with Diana sailing away from Paradise Island. The whole scene had parallels to the “Shame” scene from Game of Thrones, and the scene where Jesus Christ was condemned to crucifixion. There is no Steve Trevor in sight but I like that her arrival on Earth isn’t tied to a man.  Even though her trip to Earth is a mission of atonement rather then the spoils of victory, the end game is the same, while providing a fresh take on her path to heroism.
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Jill Thompson pulls double duty for this story and provides the artwork that emphasizes her words.  The art doesn’t look like your typical comic book art.  Instead, it’s more akin to art you’d see on a tapestry or on one of those collector plates.    In terms of her look, Wonder Woman closely resembles her Golden Age counter part.  I love that there was a practicality and reasoning for her costume. The Golden Girdle, lasso and bracelets are to remind her of her heritage. She carries the silver serpent horn as a reminder of her “deeds and miss deeds.” Her crown is enchanted like a crown of thorns, which she can’t remove until she has made up for what she has caused. There’s a great image of Herakles’ Army battling the Amazon’s, that is drawn in a map of Greece. To me, that is one of the most unique depictions of a war scene in comics. Another favorite image of mine is seeing a young Diana fly with the birds. It’s as riveting and impressive as any first flight scene featuring Superman. The Chariot races were so reminiscent of the scene in Ben Hur. When I say Ben Hur, think the good film but with modern visual effects.  The mythical beast all looked different, and while they had traits of modern animals, were very much mythical in nature. The color contrasts in this book are exceptional. When you first see Themyscira thee is a lot of blue, white’s and green, which give the book a sense of hope,  In the scene where Hippolyta is singing her whaling song to her clay sand child, the color is predominantly grey and black.  When the monsters attack the pages are overwhelmed by deep red and some shadows. The page where Alethea gets bitten and tossed around in the monsters mouth is particularly unsettling. The art and colors used in all scenes puts you in the frame of mind of the Amazons, as the events unfold on the page. Who needs virtual reality technology, when comic book art is immersive and expressive!?
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Wonder Woman celebrated her 75th Anniversary and this year, is finally getting her first live action big budget film.  To celebrate these facts, I will review various forms of Wonder Woman media this year. I’ll be looking at more graphic novels, the animated film and the television series to name a few. Follow along with my celebration of Wonder Woman, the Queen of the superhero genre buy buying and reading Wonder Woman: The True Amazon.

Comic Book Review: Tomb Raider Vol 1: Season of the Witch

(This comic is very near and dear to my black heart… 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it, Mr. Dr. Prince Adam at Large, Esqurire. 😉 xoxoxo)

Superstar writer Gail Simone (“yay!” 🙂 -D.P.) picks up Lara Croft’s story where the smash hit Tomb Raider game left off in this collection of Tomb Raider #1-#6! Lara and the other survivors of the Endurance are experiencing horrific visions after their ordeal in the Lost Kingdom of Yamatai. But the visions lead to a darker fate . . . can Lara survive the calamities that await her as she struggles to piece this new mystery, and her life, back together? (Dark Horse)
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Much like my last review of a Tomb Raider comic book, I was concerned that my years away from playing the game would make getting back into the world confusing. Luckily for me, that book was a prequel to the reboot of the video game, so it dealt with the reader as if Lara Croft was brand new to them. This graphic novel however, directly revolves around the events of the newest game. I haven’t played the latest game yet, so chances for confusion were optimal and very high. I’m happy to report, I wasn’t lost at all. The story, through writer Gail Simone gave me exactly what I needed to know. The Endurance capsized and sank killing Roth, Alexis, and Angus.  Only Lara Croft, her best friends Samantha Nishimura and Jonah Maiava, as well as the bad ass ex/cop ship mechanic Joslin Reyes survived.  Along the way, Lara and the crew fought the Solarii, a group of religious cultist lead by Father Mathias who worship Himiko, She is believed to communicate with the spiritual world and control the sun and rain. The people on the island of Yamatai, worship her, even though she ruled inscrutably and ruthlessly. In order for her and the remaining crew to survive, Lara killed Father Mathias and watched  Himiko vanish. They returned home from their ordeal with gold totems from the island.  This is where our story begins. What’s great about this book, is that the trauma has left our remaining characters with emotional scars. Lara is definitely suffering survivors guilt, and having nightmares, reliving the traumatic events. Similarly, Samantha finds herself sleepwalking. Jonah is suffering fits of delusions and is temporarily hospitalized because of the events of the island. Finally, Joslin is steering clear of Lara, as she partly blames Lara for the events, believes trouble follows Lara and wants to avoid putting her daughter in danger.  I though this aspect of the story was ingenious. It makes these characters feel far more real. Anyone who’s suffered tragedy of any kind knows the effects can be long lasting and life changing, No one has ever come out of a traumatic event 100% unscathed.  Given everything these four characters have been through, it’s 100% appropriate and justifiable that they would suffer mental and emotional stress.
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This book isn’t only about our character dealing with internal struggles. For the physical, tangible aspects of the story, the synopsis is accurate; their past does come back to haunt them. Followers of the Solarii, so essentially followers of followers, have come to regain the golden totems, and to capture Lara, as they believe her blood is the key to reviving Father Mathias, who will in turn revive, Himiko. To get to Lara, Samantha is kidnapped. This brings the remaining surviving members of The Endurance back together to find and rescue her.  This part of the book had me ecstatic. One of the reasons I didn’t care too much  for the prequel graphic novel was it’s lack of adventuring and archaeology.  This book takes us from America to Ireland, where Lara studies the mythology surrounding the gold and the totems, thus she is able to link them to the Solarii.  She is then lead on a wild goose chase to Japan, before heading to London to gather her weapons, then finally finds her way to Yamatai for the final confrontation. In terns of harrowing near death adventure, Lara, Jonah, and Joslin have to survive a flood, fire and a ground slide, before they even get to the Island of Yamatai The mix of archeology and action/adventure is what I remembered from Tomb Raider and sorely missed in that prequel graphic novel. Gail Simone gave that to me in ample supply here. This book is no cock tease. We do see Lara Croft spill blood, the resurrection of Father Mathias and the Solarii Queen Himiko. That’s a minor spoiler compared to how it all comes about and how Lara and her friends get out of their precarious situation. The twists and turns the story takes are pretty fun and you’d hate me for spoiling it.  And I don’t want hate mail sent to Diana and then redirected to me. So you’ll just have to read it to find out. Gail Simone did a great job with flashbacks, solidifying the strong friendship between Samantha, Lara an Jonah, as well as the stand-off type of animosity between Lara and Joslin. These flashbacks not only legitimized the different relationships and made me feel as though I played the video game. Also, even though Gail Simone gives our heroes a somewhat happy ending, they are still haunted by all they’ve seen and done. The characters have been forever changed by the game and this stories events, and pulling a Marvel Cinematic Universe “Shwarma” moment would have been a lazy copout and unnecessary Disney style fluff move.

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Nicolas Daniel Selma is the sole artist on this graphic novel. He did half of the art for the prequel graphic novel. If you’ll remember, in my review of that book, his was the art I enjoyed. His rendition of Lara Croft is perfect. A great mix of intelligence and  beautiful. One trait doesn’t dominate the other. She fits perfectly on a movie screen or a runway, while at the same times looks right at home in a library. Basically, what I am saying is this iteration of Lara Croft is smexy! Last review I said this artist showed he had a flavor for drawing an action scene, the brief moments he got a chance to.  Well forget just a flavor, in this volume, he draws you the whole meal.  The disaster scenes are truly all encompassing.  When Lara and Jonah are trapped in his trailer that has been submerge in water, you really experience, the rush and overwhelming feeling of drowning. The scenes where their transport boat is torched, you sense the confusion and chaos the character are going through as it seemingly  seeps through the pages, or your screen, if you’re reading digitally.  If you’re claustrophobic, the mountain scene may bother you.  This book would be a perfect candidate for the 3D effect that the Batman 66 digital comic had, or would also work great as a motion comic. The more magic/mystical moments in this book never felt awkward or out of place, I also liked that I could never tell a nightmare sequence from a present day moment, until the frightening moment occurs. Sometimes, they are far too easy to telegraph.  In addition to these big, bold explosive moments, he can also draw peaceful and playful moments. A great example of this is that scrapbook of memories flashback page, highlighting Lara and Samantha’s friendship throughout the years.
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If you read this after playing the game, it’ll expand and make the gaming experience a fuller one. If you haven’t played the game in decades, this will bring you right back in time to a Tomb Raider you remember but is new.  If you’ve somehow miraculously never heard of Lara Croft or Tomb Raider, this book will make you want to not only read more stories but venture into the gaming world as well.