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Tag Archive: Dr. Manhattan


Review by C.J. Bunce

Ridley Scott suggests a “sequel to the prequel” is a possibility in the feature material to the October 9, 2012 release of his is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-prequel to Alien blockbuster Prometheus on Blu-Ray, 3D, and DVD.  The trailer to the video release gets it just right–there are so many unanswered questions left in this summer’s big-budget blockbuster, sci-fi release that you may think you’re watching 2001: A Space Odyssey.  What was this Dr. Manhattan-looking being in the distant past and in our distant future eating that dissolved him into the ocean?  How does that being relate to the rather squiggly creature that emerged in one of the movie’s key scenes?  Why didn’t Scott just come out and call this a prequel?  Surprise, people!  It’s a prequel!  It’s actually really good at being a prequel, because unlike other prequel movies, it doesn’t re-hash every bit of the original film or films.

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I’m probably not going to be the first to say it, but I think it is great that DC Comics is going to pursue prequels.

Did I really write that?

When was the last time you saw a good prequel to anything?  Godfather 2 was sort of a prequel and a sequel all in one.  Hrm.  I’m not thinking of much else.  OK, Star Trek 2009 was fun and good for an odd-numbered Trek film.  And Enterprise is a decent TV series if you give it a chance.  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was the prequel to A Fistful of Dollars, so there’s a good one.

   

The Star Wars prequels—you either like ‘em or hate ‘em.  But would you rather never have seen them, or were they more fun as an experience than the other films out of that decade?  (Hold your answer for a later discussion).

So last week DC Comics announced prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ highly regarded (and revered, by some) Watchmen comic book series.  The new series will consistent of seven titles, all under the banner Before Watchmen.  Mainstream press has reported that comic book readers are all “up in arms” over this—“the debate rages” they say.  I call baloney.  I know more comic book fans that will be interested in checking out Before Watchmen than not.  Lots of highly regarded works have been revisited time and time again.  Why not Watchmen?

The mainstream press says Before Watchmen is all about money.  I call baloney again.  Sure, everything is about money to an extent.  Business is business and comic books are a business.  But what comic writer or artist wouldn’t want to get their hands on the Watchmen characters?  Why do some people think Watchmen is sacrosanct?  Our greatest superheroes are constantly re-imagined.  Does anyone really value Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl over Superman and Batman?

   

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Watchmen comic book, but I see the possibility for some cool things from the prequels.  If anyone is angry I’d think it would be other DC writers and artists that don’t get to work on this project, as there is a lot of doubling up at least as writing duties are concerned.

By way of background, DC Comics announced the following details of who will be creating what books:

RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

CRIMSON CORSAIR will be an added story in the various series.  Writer: Len Wein. Artist: John Higgins

I will be checking out two of the books in particular.  First, Rorschach, because I think he is the best character from Watchmen.  I thought Lee Bermejo did a great job painting the standalone work Batman: Noel last year.  I had been looking forward to his next project and Rorschach should be an interesting subject for him to take on.

Second, Adam Hughes is doing not just covers, but an ongoing series. (!)  One of my favorite things about the New 52 is Hughes’s covers for Batgirl.  His style is very 1940s, so he is a perfect choice for this retro-era comic book series, and since Silk Spectre must factor in greatly to Dr. Manhattan and his backstory, this might make the whole project worth doing.  My question is why Hughes isn’t drawing the Silk Spectre title? I wasn’t a fan of Amanda Conner’s work on Green Arrow/ Black Canary and Silk Spectre was in part based on Black Canary, so I can think of a lot of other artists I’d like to see on that title.  But I won’t pre-judge this one—her work on this new series may be great so we’ll just have to check it out when it is published.

   

All of Azzarello, Straczynski, Cooke, Lee and the Kuberts have their fan bases, so I am sure they will be pleased with these picks.  But honestly, to join–for a second–the other camp, you do have to ask, if you really want to see what these characters are up to, why not check out the characters Alan Moore based these characters on, in their current, New 52 or other recent books?  If you want to check out Dr. Manhattan, check out the awesome current Captain Atom series.  If you want to read about Nite Owl, check out Blue Beetle (especially Ted Kord back-issues).  If you want to see Silk Spectre, check out Nightshade in recent Suicide Squad back-issues, or Black Canary in the current Birds of Prey.  Want to see the Comedian?  Just look at Peacemaker in the pre-Flashpoint Blue Beetle series.  Want to see Rorschach?  There are tons of great series featuring the Question, and the recent Question, Renee Montoya, is as great a character as any.

   

Controversial news?  Sure.  A comic industry earthquake?  Umm…. no.  But they are prequels, so the odds are stacked against them from the get-go.  Ultimately, they will succeed or fail because they have good stories (or don’t).

Tomorrow, Jason McClain and I will dig a little into Alan Moore and Watchmen.

C.J. Bunce

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The short-lived but fan favorite TV series Heroes launched a concept that really hadn’t been tried before in this way:  starting each episode not at the beginning of the story, but well into the story, and often at the best part–that point where the guy is hanging over the edge of the cliff, right where the cheerleader falls off the building, or right where the samurai gets the sword in his gut.  You feel a little bit of a slingshot at the back of your head at first, then you grab the rope, the boat pulls tight and before you know it you are skiing along with the characters at full throttle into the unknown.  Captain Atom #1 is a comic for readers who like wall to wall action, and it avoids any introductory phase–placing us right where the story gets good.  There are no gimmicks here that you might find in other books, just a good read that makes you hate having to wait a whole month for the next issue.

If you’re not a regular DC Comics reader, you may not think you know Captain Atom but you probably just haven’t put it all together yet.  He’s so familiar and you can’t quite place why you know him, even though he is not another current Justice League headliner (although he has served in the Justice League and led Justice League Europe in the past).  If you’re like me, you read his comic back in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths 1980s, or you saw him in the more recent Superman/Batman.  But more likely you recognize him as Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, either the comic or the movie, because what comic reader hasn’t seen one of those?  Alan Moore originally designed his atomic man as Captain Atom, but DC decided not to let him use the newly absorbed Charlton Comics pantheon of characters in Watchmen at the last minute.   As stunning and surreal as Dr. Manhattan was portrayed in the Watchmen movie, he really comes to life in the new DC 52 Captain Atom #1.  And he’s not aloof like Dr. Manhattan–speaking to us through his thoughts we get to like this guy and feel for his circumstances quickly.  Dr. Manhattan is in the background in this shot from the Watchmen movie:

Like our heroes in the first issue of the new Justice League, superheroes are finding themselves as targets more than heroes.  Captain Atom finds himself defending himself against an attack, only to learn his powers are more expansive than he knew.  He begins to melt metal and it seems congeal and drip off the page.  Captain Atom surprises himself.  Like Han Solo said “sometimes I even amaze myself.”  Although I have liked most of what I have seen so far from the new DCU, this is the first ‘zine where the story doesn’t let up from the first panel through the last panel.

It can’t be easy drawing the visual expression of seemingly unlimited power as pure energy.  Freddie Williams II is at the top of his game here.  JT Krul has taken what he did with the edgy Soulfire and Fathom series coupled with his hero work on Green Arrow and has paced out a story with non-stop action, a smart hero, and intelligent writing.  We are pulled through the story via Captain Atom’s own thoughts and watch him try to control what is probably uncontrollable.   Williams renderings of Captain Atom as distinct from the rest of the art, and coupled with Jose Villarrubia’s creative use of color–red and blues are used to stunning effect–this book made me want to track down some 3D glasses to see if this could be viewed in actual 3D (I looked and couldn’t find the pair that came with the Chuck Season 2 DVD set).

For new readers you get enough back story to see what is going on.  Krul slips in background information just when you want it and sets up the action for coming issues.  Williams’s style seems inspired by the eye-popping visuals of Michael Golden, Howard Chaykin and Alex Nino–and this makes sense as a character who absorbs energy has got to ooze energy across the page.

I also like characters who are seemingly stronger and more powerful than the often one-note Superman.  Like Captain Marvel, Captain Atom is a character that makes you glad to know there is someone else out there who can carry the weight of the DCU world.  Like Firestorm, an old favorite hero with similar powers, this guy is not just a human in a supersuit.

Eagerly waiting for Issue #2!