Posts Tagged ‘Marvel’

Generation X (2017) VOL 1 & 2

Posted: June 30, 2018 in Comics
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Ah 90’s MARVEL. Everything was bigger and bolder. I came of comic book age in the mid 1990s and it was awesome. I have never looked back. By chance, just as I was getting into my comic book groove, Marvel was getting ready to launch their hot new team book, a spin off from the main X-Men titles, Generation X. Basically this was the 90’s version of the New Mutants. The comic centred on Jubiliee and boasted a whole host of brand new mutant characters such as Chamber, Husk, M, and Penance. Not to mention a terrifying villian in the form of Emplate. You got Emma Frost and Banshee running the team with art from Chris Bachalo and fun writing from Scott Lobdell. The comic was fun and it was very much of the decade that it debuted in. Last year Marvel relaunched Generation X for a brand new generation and the results are outstanding.

Generation X (2017) is written by Christina Strain and features awesome art from a variety of talented artists. I was not familair with Strain’s work before this book and I’m happy to say she has crafted a tale that not only honours its source but pushes long time fan fave characters forwards in their growth and introduces (just like the original book did) a new bunch of X-Kids for readers to fall in love with. I’m gonna go and just get this out of the way right now. Ready? Okay. This is MUCH better than the original Gen X. And I mean no disprespect with that statement. It just is and I’d reckon that even Lobdell and Bachalo would agree Strain and her fellow creators have crafted one hell of a book here. This book is X-Men as its strongest. It’s fun, it’s colourful, it has strong characters, great writing and deals with a variety of themes that relate to real world issues young people all over the wolrd are going through. Simply put this book is vital and long may it last.

The new blood – Bling!, Kid Omega, Nature Girl, Eye-Boy, Hindsight and Morph – may have code names that are a bit too on the nose but rest assured they have the depth of character and complex interactions to add weight to their existance. First loves, jealousy, loners, looking different, acting out, single parenthood and sexuality are all focal points and never in a way that talks down to the reader. These kids look and act real. Where’s as the original Generation X could have stepped off the set of Beverly Hills 90210 these new kids look like your everyday teenager just trying to get by. At first I was a little big gutted this team was missing its diva but then it hit me HE was present all along. Kid Omega AKA Quentin Quire, who made his debut in Gran Morrison’s fantastic New X-Men, more than gives Emma Frost and M. a run for their money when it comes to attitude and sass!

For long time fans of Generation X fear not! The old team is still a core part of this series and are present and accounted for. Right away, depsite a focus on what’s new, this comic reminds constant reader of its roots and how they will never be forgotten. Jubiliee, Chamber and Husk have taken on more mentor like roles but neither has lost what made them likeable to start with and get just as much love as the new characters. Then we have M. The original Gen X diva who gets a great arc. It’ll be interesting to see if any other old faces pop up in future issues. Honestly there’s no rush either, I’d rather classic team members are featured organically and have strong arcs.

So far I am two volumes in into the new Generation X, which would be around 12 issues. Hopefully it continues its seemingly effortless balancing act of highlighting what’s new while showing how some things, thankfully, never change. They just get better. Right now has never been a better time to be an X-Men fan. For the haters who celebrated the notion Marvel had abandoned their mutants last years relaunch shows that was never the case. They were simply taking their time to make sure the X-Men’s return was everything the fans could hope for.

 

This is without a doubt the golden age for comic book movies and a huge reason for this is the quality and the care Marvel puts into their productions. Arriving next month is Avengers: Infinity War. The film is set up to act as a final chapter to each proceeding film that has come before up until now. Marvel bosses have been very clear in stating that come the finale of the Infinity War two movie saga the MCU will be a very different place.

Contracts are up which means we may well see the last of some of our favourite heroes come the end of Infinity War. Of course contracts can be renewed and no one stays dead for long in Marvel comics. I’d be shocked if any of the big deaths stick but what do I know? I reckon Cap, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and yes even Iron Man are safe. I just don’t think Marvel has the guts to get rid of ’em! Maria Hill, War Machine, Nick Fury and Scarlet Witch? Sure. I could see one of those sadly departing the MCU but time will tell.

Anyway! Enough of speculation. What matters is the film delivers. Who lives and who dies isn’t as important as the film being great. The Russo brothers have had one heck of a task bringing a film of this scale to life. I think they’ve pulled it off. We’ll find out in a few weeks!

We knew it was only a matter of time. This week we got exclusive Vanity Fair character portraits and yesterday Spider-Man himself unveiled the first teaser poster for Infinity War. Now we have the trailer.

The long promised, yet little seen, Thanos has finally arrived on Earth and it is going to take the planet’s mightiest heroes to defeat him. The stakes have never been higher, nor the excitement from comic/MCU fans. The footage on display paints a clear picture of what Infinity War is going to be about and what we glimpse is fantastic.

Best parts of the trailer? Well how can one not be excited at the idea of the Guardians and Thor teaming up? I love the look of Spider-Man’s new suit and basically any shots of people running towards one another to do battle. Which we get. Will anyone die? Eh, maybe? Thing is, with these sort of films it doesn’t really matter because in case you didn’t know death means not a whole lot in comic books. Someone can always come back from the dead. Just ask Jean Grey. It doesn’t bother me so much either. The film being good is what is most important and of that I have little doubt.

Avengers: Infinity War is directed by Captain America: Civil War duo the Russo brothers and stars (almost) everyone who has been in an MCU movie to date. Look for it in cinemas May 2018.

The Punisher (No spoilers)

Posted: November 27, 2017 in Comics, TV
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The last time viewers saw Frank Castle AKA The Punisher he was on the run and presumed dead. Introduced into the MCU during the second season of Daredevil, Frank’s tale was one of tragedy and brutality. An ex-soldier who found himself caught up in a government conspiracy, Frank would see his family brutally murdered, himself narrowly escaping assassination by those he trusted. Now, starring in his own show, Frank sets out to make those responsible for the murder of his family and the deadly conspiracy pay with their lives. Along the way making certain those responsible don’t simply die but die hard.

Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Wolf of Wall Street) is outstanding as Frank Castle/The Punisher. Soon as he came on screen in Daredevil fans knew it was only a matter of time before he would get a solo series. It pleases me to say The Punisher is not just good, no, it’s one of the best MCU titles to date. Up there, for me, with Daredevil season one.

The action in The Punisher is brutal. Frank (and those who he fights against) are stone cold killers and this is reflected in the violence shown on screen. The show is not for the faint of heart. The overall plot is good, it’s to the point – The Punisher wants revenge – but the sub plots that fill in the rest of the show are not just interesting they are (sadly) very topical in todays climate in relation to gun control and home grown terror. These aspects are handled with care and don’t paint a simple black and white picture. The writing is excellent and therefore the show feels like it has somthing to say.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls) as David Lieberman ties in directly with Frank as a man whose family could go the way of Frank’s. He and Frank have great chemistry. The two working together to bring about justice and not always agreeing. Each wanting the same outcome but by, at times, different means. Ben Barnes is an acting revelation as Frank’s old army pal Billy Russo. Russo came out of the army, like Frank, but followed a different path. Barnes does wonderful work in the role and creates a complex character that serves the plot in a important way. There’s strong support too from Amber Rose Revah as Homeland Agent Madani and Jaime Ray Newman as Lieberman’s estranged wife.

Drawbacks? Little stuff really. The look of the show is not removed from the other Netflix MCU titles. I get it. A consistant visual theme makes sense and The Punisher does go a ways to get more down and gritty but beyond the violence it feels like the other shows for better or worse, I guess depending on your opinion of Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. The subplot involving Lieberman’s family felt like it got more attention than was warranted. As the show goes on that reasoning becomes clear though, yet I was getting a bit bored with that stuff. Stick with it though if you feel the same.

The Punisher is a fantastically brutal show and tone wise it’s easily the most mature show Marvel has put out. If you didn’t see Daredevil season two then don’t worry because The Punisher provides all of the info you need within it’s first few episodes. You will not feel like you have missed any major plot points and can enjoy the series. I really enjoyed it and I hope we get a second (and third!) season.

The Punisher is now available on Netflix.

 

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At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) finds himself in a world he doesn’t recognize. In the sequel, Captain American: The Winter Soldier, Rogers has ajusted to the twenty first century but learns that sadly, for the safety of the world, some things never change. The deadly Hydra is still a threat and are about to launch their most devastating assault on freedom yet. Said threat coming from the least likely of places. Adding fuel to the inferno of chaos is a ghost from Rogers past, a deadly assassin of myth-like status and one who will stop at nothing to eliminate his targets.

Anthony and Joe Russo,  known for TV’s Community, make their MCU directorial debut with The Winter Soldier. The duo made a big impact with this movie, directing with style, confidence and (through collaborating with a world class stunt team) put on film some of the best action sequences you are likey to have seen. No hype. From white knuckle car chases, ground to air combat and close quarters. In my review for the first film I said the action is great and easy to follow. In The Winter Soldier the action HURTS. It’s darker, more kinetic and on a totally different level. That is because The Winter Soldier is a different kind of film.

The first movie was a celebration of Captain America, his era and his comic book legacy. The Winter Soldier is a film that continues that celebration. This time mixing it with the political thriller/spy genre. For better and for worse. While The Winter Soldier’s plot is more mature (hate to use that term as I don’t feel the previous movie was silly or immature) I found it to be, at times, needlessly dense. There is a lot to take in, twists, turns and a request for the audience to pay attention. Add to that a wave of characters, each with their own agendas and it shows great ambition but at roughly two and a half hours the film is long! It doesn’t drag. The pace is great but it just makes you work in between the brilliant. Nothing wrong with that but by the end when all the cards are on the table the plot is really straight forward and I felt like the film could have been stronger if it had shaved even twenty minutes off the running time.

Chris Evans is brilliant in this film. He puts everying into the role of Rogers/Captain America.  He is joined on his mission this time out by Black Widow and Nick Fury. Scarlett Johansson revealing a harder edge to her mysterious Black Window character. Jackson’s Nick Fury has quite a lot to do in the film besides show up for a cameo and that was boss to see. I’d love to see Fury take on more prominent roles in these movies.

Newcomers Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo and Emily VanCamp are welcome additions to the MCU. Mackie is very good as Sam Wilson. Falcon has some of the best and impressive action scenes in the film. Both Hayley Atwell and Sebastian Stan return from the first film as Peggy Carter and Bucky Barnes. Atwell as Carter has a heartbreaking reunion with Rogers and it’s a shame they couldn’t find a way of keeping Peggy young and action ready like a certain other face from Rogers’ past. Stan does terrific work in The Winter Soldier. In a lot of ways the film rested on his shoulders and without his commitment to the role the film may not have worked.

A lot of people list Captain America: The Winter Soldier as their favourite MCU addition. No counter point from me. This is a brilliant film and one that’s  directed the hell out of. Is it my favourite out of the MCU? I would say no. It’s a bit too dense and just a tad overlong but those are tiny issues. It will no doubt stand the test of time and be shown as one of the best examples of what a awesome comic book movie looks like for years to come.

 

 

 

This is a great trailer. We get our first real look at Wakanda. This nation is the home of Black Panther and it is beyond cool. Wakanda is basically an advanced civilization hidden within Africa. Think Atlantis or El Dorado, had either been real and continued to blossom through the centuries.

There is a ton of new footage here that shows off the characters and gives a clear look at the plot of the film. Oh and those action scenes look boss. Black Panther running down cars on highways is always a welcome sight. You also get to see more variations of his suit and what it can do, how it works and all that. Very cool.

This movie is shaping up to be, what I hope, is a unique and fantastic addition to the MCU. It has an ace director in the form of Creed’s Ryan Coogler and one knock out cast led by Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.

Black Panther stars Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Andy Serkis amongst many other super talented people. This cast is stacked.

It hits cinemas February 16th 2018. That’s sooner than you think. Get excited.

New Mutants teaser trailer!

Posted: October 13, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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I have to give credit to FOX. They now seem to understand what it is they have access to in regards to the X-Men. Last year we got Deadpool and Logan. Two spin-off’s set inside the X-Men movie universe and each of them was gloriously it’s own beast. Rated R and violent as hell. Next out of the gate is The New Mutants and, like Deadpool and Logan, this looks to be another unique take on mutation.

The film is directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in our Stars) and is a horror/sci-fi movie. Comic fans will know the title because it is one of a long list of comic books set in the same universe as the X-Men.

Boone has said he wants the film to feel like a horror movie and not a traditional superhero flick. Well sir, I say, mission accomplished! This looks boldly brilliant. I don’t know if the film is rated R or not but going off that teaser trailer this looks like a straight up slasher movie with a science fiction edge.

The New Mutants follows several young mutants who find themselves trapped inside an experimental facility. Chances are they are not at that place voluntarily. Will they get out alive? We’ll find out April 13th 2018!

 

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Captain America: The First Avenger is a cracking cineamtic debut for one of Marvel comics most beloved and enduring characters. Who better to usher him in than Joe Johnston! Johnston has directed some great movies over the course of his career with family friendly fun in the form of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, summer blockbusters with Jumanji and Jurassic Park 3 to smaller, more character focused dramas like October Sky. As a director he has a wide pallet and he brings a bit of everything to Captain America and makes it work.

The movie follows Steve Rogers, a young Brooklyn guy who wants to enlist in the second world war and stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves. From the moment we meet Steve you see his heart is in the right place but the reality of his stature means he has to stay home while his buddy and others are cleared to join the fight. That is until a chance encounter at the World’s Fair ends with Steve given the oppertunity to take part in a experimental procedure that transforms his body and Captain America is born. Meanwhile the evil Hydra, led by the deadly Red Skull, have begun to lay waste to Europe via the power of a mysterious stone that grants them technological advantages that could see the whole world in ruin. It is up to Captain America and his allies to take down the Red Skull and Hydra!

Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers is brilliant. As an actor this guy has a wide range and he gets to show it here. With a less talented actor in the role the film could have failed and come off as nothing more than a cheese fest but thanks to Evans that isn’t the case. Hugo Weaving as Red Skull is very good. Tommy Lee Jones puts in great support as super dry Colonel Chester Phillips. Sebastian Stan begins to cement his role in the MCU, his character Bucky had to hit home due to the role he would go on to play and Stan achives that. Last but not least Hayley Atwell almost steals the damn movie in what is a winning role as Agent Peggy Carter. Carter aids Steve throughout the film and her no nonsense and kick ass attitude is backed up by a ton of charisma. Johnston and co. put together one great cast here and it’s a pleasure to see them all do great work together.

The special effects work on display – practical and CGI – is some of the greatest work I’ve seen but not in the obvious areas. Somehow the CGI used to blend actor Chris Evan’s head onto a smaller actors body (if that is what they did!) looks seamless! It’s mindblowing stuff. Major credit needs to go to the film’s set and art dirction which makes the movie feel and look as if it could have come out of Hollywood during the golden age of movies, evoking the look and feel of America circa 1940/50’s. All of the little and at times not so little historical touches really hit home for me because I love that era of cinema and history.

When it comes to the action Johnston and his team are top notch. Each action sequence in the film is well shot and easy to follow. There is no frantic cutting or manic editing that leaves you feeling confused as to what the hell is going on. Likewise the set pieces range from one on one showdowns to all out assaults on land and in the air with each sequence looking as if it was effortless to capture. That’s the sign of a talented director and great action. It should look effortless but the reality is that capturing that feel is anything but!

Here’s the thing with Captain America: The First Avenger, I feel like it’s criminally underrated. In 2017 the MCU is big and filled with good to great movies. As time goes on it’s going to get bigger but I hope this one doesn’t fall off the radar because, for me at least, I think this is one of the purest comic book movies ever made. Much in the same way as Donner did with Superman I feel like Johnston has directed from the heart, respected the source and delivered a boss comic book movie that now arguably seems small in comparison to say Winter Soldier or Civil War yet in other ways stands above both.

 

 

The Defenders (No Spoilers)

Posted: September 1, 2017 in TV
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The Defenders is finally here. The mini series is a team-up (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) Marvel fans have been eagerly awaiting since the intention to go ahead with this series was announced. Each of these street level Marvel heroes has had their own series to date and each one brought a distinct flavour that no other corner of the MCU has been able to offer. The Netflix shows are dark, adult and very gritty. So violent and dark are these shows that it’s hard to imagine the likes of Daredevil or Jessica Jones showing up on the big screen with the likes of the wholesome Captain America and jokey Iron Man.

I had a great time with The Defenders. It’s definitely a mini series clocking in at just eight episodes but it is stronger than either of the others shows (besides Daredevil’s individual seasons to date). The set up is simple, thanks to the likes of Daredevil and especially Iron Fist for laying the groundwork – each of our four heroes must come together (whether they like it or not) to face The Hand and take them down once and for all. Viewers will be more than aware by now who The Hand are and the threat they present to New York. These deadly ancient ninjas want to bring down whole citites and will stop at nothing to see the world run how they see fit.

The main draw of The Defenders is seeing how each of our heroes bounces off one another, much like The Avengers, only these guys can get away with a lot more. It’s liberating to see the likes of Jessica Jones make it clear on more than one occasion she’s out for herself and couldn’t care less what The Hand wants, or Daredevil crack down on some goons along with Luke Cage and Iron Fist, not holding back and bringing the pain without fear of slipping out of a family friendly rating like say Iron Man or Dr Strange would have.

From Daredevil onwards the fight scenes have been what has stood out for me in these Netflix Marvel shows and the fights on display in The Defenders continue this great tradtion. I won’t spoil the set-pieces in this review save to say anyone who appreciated the fight/stunt work in Daredevil and parts of Iron Fist won’t be dissapointed with the throw downs in The Defenders.

All of the cast are great. Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter and Finn Jones know their characters well at this stage and it shows. The chemistry between the four leads seems natural and that is a plus point because the show could have fallen flat if that spark was not there. Rosario Dawson, Elodie Yung, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick, Scott Glenn and Sigourney Weaver all provide great support work and their characters each bring exciting turns and motivations to keep things rolling at a great pace. Also, you may have noticed I’ve highlighted several female cast members? Well it’s because there is some serious girl power running throughout The Defenders that proves pivotal to the plot, somthing the Marvel TV shows have always been more than happy to focus on, sadly the same can’t be said (so far) for the big screen MCU.

The Defenders is available now on Netflix (UK) and it is essential viewing for Marvel fans. The show never felt over long or as if it was stalling for time to make a pre-decided episode count, which in my opinion hurt the pace of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. I suppose the one draw back is it may not be essential viewing for non Marvel fans. Being honest if you just popped the show on blind I think you’d be lost and be left feeling like you’re not in on the fan service and plot that has been set up throughout other shows within the same universe.

 

Wolverine and the X-Men Vol 1

Posted: August 30, 2017 in Comics
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Back in 2011 Marvel launched a brand new X-Men series titled Wolverine and the X-Men. I was lucky and got ahold of the first trade that contains the first seven issues of the series and I wanted to say on here that it’s a collection no X-Men fan should be without. What a funny, creative and all round great run.

One of the best parts of Wolverine and the X-Men is how the school aspect of the X-Men is front and centre after Wolverine finds himself the headmaster of the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. From mutant centric classes, to students trying to get away with all sorts of mayhem. The book is really funny, without becoming an all out comedy and manages to pack in plenty of action, adventure and heart the best X-Men comics are known for. You get a great arrary of X-Men hits on the foe side of the equation featuring encounters with The Hellfire Club, The Brood and a detour to outer space all in the first several issues with nothing feeling either rused nor forced.

The trade I own is written by Jason Aaron with art from Chris Bachalo, the duo’s style working together perfectly. Each page and in turn the comic as a whole just screams fun. From the main action on the page to loads of tiny details you may just happen to notice as you go to turn a page. Wolverine and the X-Men is written well, has realy good dialogue, a fun story and great art. I can not get over how good this first trade is and if the rest of the series holds up as well I think this could become one of my all time favourite runs.

Roster wise you get a good mix of X-Men mainstays – Logan, Kitty Pride, Beast, Iceman, Husk and Rachel Grey – who act as the main faculty (wait until you see who the janitor is!) and several established students to follow. Lesser known characters such as Broo, a peaceful member of the Brood species and Kid Gladiator of the Shi-ar Empire make for memorable debuts alongside more familair faces such as Hellion, Anole and Quentin Quire, the later getting a fair amount of great character development that I appreciated. Also of note is Warbird, Kid Gladiators bodyguard, who while not as prominent in these first few issues, manages to make an impression still. All of the characters seem right at home uner Jason Aaron’s writing.

Wolverine and the X-Men Vol 1 is a must read for X-Men fans.