Advertisements

Tag Archive: Frank Miller


Review by C.J. Bunce

Underneath The Boys, a series so full of all things offensive, with language, misogyny, immorality, violence, sex–something sure to offend everyone, lies a backbone of a story that might have something to say, if the way it was laid out wasn’t so exploitative.  It’s easy to imagine show execs Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen pulling the strings behind the curtain on this project, but what exactly are they trying to say?  Mocking the real-life modern horrors on your TV, protected by the acknowledgement that the moral is clear that all the bad they show is bad, it’s intended as satire, as social commentary.  It’s an unusual medium to convey its many messages, questions without answers for many things Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson took on in their source material comics of the same name, very much like Alan Moore and Frank Miller’s stories from the 1980s it attempts to pay homage to.  It’s impossible not to compare The Boys to Moore’s Watchmen–superheroes for a dark and modern time that are different but familiar to the superheroes we all know so well–it may be even closer to Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns despite its lack of well-known characters.  The entirety of the story of the first season, now streaming on Amazon Prime, is the familiar “Who watches the watchers?”

Who are “The Boys” of the title anyway?  Led by ever-angry Bill Butcher, played by the actor of all franchises Karl Urban, it’s a small team of five rebels determined for their individual reasons to take down Vought, a corporation that manages the superheroes that protect Americans from almost every crime that’s occurring.  As good as the production values are, the series is not that clever, but its difference is how over-the-top and grimy it’s willing to get to tell its story.  From the previews you might think it compares to The Umbrella Academy.  Make no mistake, the storytelling in The Boys is better and less yawn-worthy, except The Umbrella Academy showed off some better superhero special effects along the way with its Number Five character.  You’ll find a lot here no one else is willing to touch on TV, making it a clear NC-17/R+ show: Carlin’s seven dirty words get explored, anti-fundamentalism, blasphemy in themes and situations, assault on today’s politics and extremism, nationalism, misogyny, sex abusers and other deviants, gender issues–most of these used to make valid points about issues mirroring modern times.  But like watching the daily news (or newsfeed) it’s not that enjoyable.  It never manages to approach similarly violent but fun efforts like tongue-in-cheek superhero films Deadpool or Kick-Ass.  Except for the vengeance.  When the bad guys pay–and that’s strangely rare–it’s hard to deny some of the scenes are pretty satisfying, especially when Urban wields a newborn supe as a laser gun.

The Boys has some cream-of-the-crop acting, which elevates the entire project.  Urban leads it all as the Daniel Craig-in-Layer Cake level, put-upon, amped-up mercenary Butcher.  As with all of his performances he jumps right in, creating one of his best, ugly characters (compare to his Caesar, Vaako, Cooper, and Skurge).  Equal to that is a layered performance by Jessica Jones’ Erin Moriarty.  The series is really about her.  She plays Annie January aka Starlight, a young, naive woman who sincerely wants to use her powers to help others.  She makes it into an elite, corporate controlled group of “supes” called The Seven.  But she quickly learns The Seven are more bad than good for America and the planet: one supe forces her to have sex, another invisible supe hangs out in the restroom leering at her.  Along the way Starlight picks up a friend in The Hunger Games’ Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell, a guy whose girlfriend is killed by a speedster supe in The Seven–but was it an accident?  Hughie is enlisted to help Butcher try to take down Vought–the corporation behind The Seven.  Vought might as well be Detroit’s Omni Consumer Products from RoboCop or Veidt Enterprises from Watchmen, but even more vile.  The shock and in-your-face violence is every bit a match to these films from that infamous era of no-holds-barred 1980s violence.

Continue reading

Advertisements

We’ve had a great response here at borg to our complete checklist of the variant covers for the 80th anniversary of Batman and benchmark 1000th issue of his long-standing comic book series, Detective Comics Check it out here if you missed it.  The cover art, especially when merged with the variety of historical and modern title art and legends, makes for one attractive looking book, whichever copy you go for.  At least one of the ten main covers will provide a dose of nostalgia and excitement for any Batman fan.  But for $9.99 is it worth the price?  Can you tell the book by its 84 covers?

Incorporating eleven short stories and three pin-ups with a variety of stories, themes, and eras, this anthology is tilted in favor of the modern dark knight detective over the versions of the character from his first decades in print (Batman TV fans have several Batman ’66 comic book series to turn to for the lighter fare).  Is the issue epic?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.  Groundbreaking?  Probably not.  But it’s a fun read, and using mixed pairs of writers and artists–a few classic pairs and a few nice change-ups from then and now–it’s a great exercise in searching out what works and what works really well for DC Comics’ editorial department.  Love a particular story or visual style?  Surprise–you the reader now have new creators to keep an eye on in future series.

Becky Cloonan’s Batman from Detective Comics #1000.

You might find your next favorite creators in “Batman’s Longest Case,” with writer Scott Snyder and artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, the kind of story you think of when you see Batman as master detective.  Writer Kevin Smith pulled out the stops for his team-up with Jim Lee and Scott Williams in “Manufacture for Use,” including one of those great splash pages Lee/Williams fans can’t get enough of.  Artist Becky Cloonan delivered the biggest visual win with a flawless Batman: Year One-inspired Frank Miller style in one panel and a cool Bernie Wrightson caped crusader in another, matched nicely with Jordie Bellaire‘s colors in the story “The Batman’s Design.”  Tight writing and story make for an exceptional contribution from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev called “I Know,” probably the best writing of the book.  I’ll admit I was hoping for a Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, or Marv Wolfman homage (they defined the look of the Batman of my youth), but it wasn’t to be this time.  But based on this issue, who would I like to see in an ongoing monthly?  Brian Michael Bendis and Becky Cloonan.  And my favorite part of the book?  That goes to Mikel Janin‘s take on Batman with Joker and the Riddler in his one-page pin-up, which stopped me in my tracks, and should have been a variant cover option.  More, please!

Continue reading

Detective Comics, the title DC Comics took its name from, first hit the shelves of newsstands just before March 1937, 26 months before Batman would first appear in the famous Issue #27 in May 1939.  This Wednesday the monthly comic book’s landmark Issue #1000 is arriving, and it’s going to be packed with content from several writers and artists.  It’s 96 pages in all, including the first appearance outside video games of Arkham Knight.  And as you’d expect, DC Comics is releasing the issue with several covers (our count below is a whopping 84 or about a cover for each year Detective Comics has been in print!), including a standard cover, a set of decade-inspired covers, both a blank sketch cover and new black edition, retailer incentives featuring logos or no logos, and several limited, exclusive shop, convention, and creator store variants.  More than a few are simply stunning, and this is the rare mass cover event where the final regular cover set (10) includes several works as interesting or better than the exclusives (the Frank Miller with the classic title art really takes us back to the 1980s).  Check them all out below–all 100 images including art without logos–with links to where to buy them (exclusives that haven’t sold out in pre-sales).

Writers for stories in Detective Comics Issue #1000 include Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Christopher Priest, Dennis O’Neil, Kevin Smith, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi, and James T Tynion IV.  Interior artists include Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Tony S. Daniel, Steve Epting, Joëlle Jones, Kelley Jones, Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke, Alex Maleev, Alvaro Martinez, and Dustin Nguyen.

DC Comics did a nice job of pulling out creators defining each decade, with Steve Rude (1930s), Bruce Timm (1940s Detective Comics #69 homage), Michael Cho (1950s), Jim Steranko (1960s), Bernie Wrightson (1970s), Frank Miller (1980s), Tim Sale (1990s), Jock (2000s), and Greg Capullo (2010s)–all appear to only be available with the trade “Detective Comics” logo (but we’ve included images of the original art below).  DC Comics publisher Jim Lee is back again with the standard cover, a wraparound design.  The rest reflect a crazy big stack of variants by everyone and anyone, most available with the Detective Comics logo (with “trade” logo) or without logo (“virgin”), some in black and white, some with sketch art, some with foil cardstock.  The following are all the non-standard variant artists and where to get them (we heard an Andy Kubert cover may be out there, but could not confirm this): Neal Adams (three designs, NealAdams.com), Jay Anacleto (trade, virgin, and B&W) (Unknown Comic Books), Kaare Andrews (trade only, no virgin-only edition confirmed) (Third Eye), Artgerm (trade, virgin, retro) (Forbidden Planet), Lee Bermejo (virgin, trade) (Midtown), Brian Bolland (trade, virgin, B&W) (Forbidden Planet), Greg Capullo (gold foil version of his 2010s cover) (WonderCon variant), Clayton Crain (virgin, trade) (Scorpion Comics), Tony S. Daniel (trade, no virgin-only) (artist website, Comic Stop), Gabriele Dell’Otto (trade, silver virgin, and gold convention) (Bulletproof), Jason Fabok (trade, virgin, B&W) (Yesteryear Comics), Riccardo Federici (trade, virgin) (ComicXposure), Pat Gleason & Alejandro Sanchez (trade, virgin, B&W) (Newbury Comics), Adam Hughes (trade, virgin) (Frankie’s Comics), Jee-Hyung Lee (trade, virgin, B&W) (Frankie’s Comics), Dan Jurgens & Kevin Nowlan (sketch, line art, and color versions) (Dynamic Forces), Mike Lilly (trade-only, no virgin cover) (Comics Vault), Warren Louw (virgin, trade) (KRS Comics), and Doug Mahnke (trade, virgin) (Planet Comicon).

Plus there’s Francesco Mattina (trade, virgin) (Midtown), Mike Mayhew (trade, virgin) (The Comic Mint), Stewart McKenny (trade, we couldn’t locate anyone selling the virgin cover) (Comics Etc.), Dawn McTeigue (virgin, trade) (Comics Elite), Rodolfo Migliari (trade, retro trade, virgin) (BuyMeToys.com), Lucio Parrillo (trade, virgin) (Scorpion Comics), Alex Ross (two covers) (via his website), Natali Sanders (virgin, trade) (KRS Comics), Nicola Scott costume match design to her Superman image for Action Comics #1000 (trade, virgin) (Kings Comics), Bill Sienkiewicz (two designs, signed or not, one in trade, one virgin, via his website), Mico Suayan (trade, virgin) (Unknown Comic Books), Jim Lee & Scott Williams (midnight release vertical and convention silver foil, B&W, and four villain designs) (Torpedo Comics, Bedrock City Comics, Graham Crackers).

Want to see them all?  Here goes:

Continue reading

The wedding of Batman and Catwoman is shaping up in the issues of DC Comics’s Batman bi-weekly series, with the date set at Issue #50, greeting comic book readers next month.  Writer Tom King continues his ongoing Bat-tale with an abundance of interior and variant cover artists, including Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Jim Lee, Frank Cho, Alex Ross, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Neal Adams, Lee Bermejo, Joshua Middleton, Dawn McTeague, Frank Miller, Jock, Andy Kubert, Ant Lucia, Eric Basaldua, Natali Sanders, Greg Capullo, Joe Jusko, Olivier Coipel, Scott Williams, Warren Louw, Tyler Kirkham, Rafael Albuquerque, Tony S. Daniel, J. Scott Campbell, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, David Mack, Lee Weeks, Mark Brooks, Dave Johnson, Clay Mann, Greg Horn, Francesco Mattina, David Finch, Paul Pope, Joe Madeurera, Mitch Gerads, Alé Garza, Becky Cloonan, Jae Lee, Francesco Mattina, Ty Templeton, Joseph Michael Linsner, Nick Derington, Jason Fabok, Arthur Adams, Jim Balent, Lucio Parillo, Amanda Conner, and Michael Turner.  The standard cover will feature the work of Mikel Janin.  So how is this going to go down?  Anyone else remember the wedding storyline for Green Arrow and Black Canary?  It seems plenty of villains will be around if the variant covers are any indication.

We think we found nearly all the base images for the variant covers (below).  Let us know if you see one when missed and we’ll update the images below.  We did not include every logo or no-logo version, or black and white or similar variants.

A quick heads-up for Frank Cho fans.  He is selling the above interlocking triptych variant cover series, and if you want these beauties, you’ll want to order them soon.  The image features the main characters of the Batman Universe: Catwoman, Nightwing, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.  (Cho’s covers will be available at a discount off his release price with a code you can get by signing up for his newsletter here), and Joe Madureira has a similar offer for his covers here.  Even more artists are posting pre-order options for their own variants almost daily.

   

Did we mention variant covers?  If you haven’t been following Batman, the cover art of Batman and Catwoman over the past few months has been something fans of the characters dream of.  With black and white and other versions available, expect at least 30 variant covers for Issue #50.  Many of these options from contributing artists, like Frank Cho, will be found at exclusive sellers, including Kirkham (Hastings), Fabok (Yesteryear), Mattina (7-Ate-9), Jimenez (ZMX), Jae Lee (DF), Sanders (Comic Market Street), Jusko (Midtown), McTeigue (Yancy Street), and Adams (Legacy), and creator exclusive variants only at San Diego Comic-Con or webstores include Alex Ross, Mark Brooks, Greg Horn, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell.  With the release of Batman Issue #50 on July 4 comes Catwoman, Issue #1.  In a rarity for comics, take a look (above, right) at what Catwoman is holding in this cover by Joëlle Jones… Janin’s cover to Batman 50.

Alex Ross Batman 50

And even more have been announced, like three Alex Ross exclusives, available for pre-order for San Diego Comic-Con at his website here.  Greg Horn has three covers available only at his website here.  Mark Brooks has eight variants available here.  J. Scott Campbell has five variants available here.  Jock has three covers here.  Aspen has pulled some art from the late Michael Turner for variants, too.  See even more below.

Here are many of the 50+ cover images and some variations on those variants for Issue #50 previewed so far:

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you only could choose one book to represent the potential–maybe even the highest form–of the comic book medium, a new book hitting the stands today may be on your short list.  IDW Publishing is releasing a stunning anthology of the history of the Holocaust as seen in comic books of the past, presented with an introduction and afterword by Stan Lee, the creator who broke more stereotypes in his stories than anyone in comic books’ first century.  In We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust, artist Neal Adams, who changed the way comic book stories were told in the early 1970s with his Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman series, Holocaust scholar Rafael Medoff, and comics historian Craig Yoe have compiled what is arguably the most noble use of comic books–educating kids in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s on a subject of history virtually ignored in mainstream circles.  Along with Congressman John Lewis’s March series about the civil rights movement, We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust should be in every library and taught in every history class.

My high school history teacher was astonished to learn none of us knew the details of Watergate–we were only infants at the time–and I recall the realization he saw of what he and his peers were not teaching. This weekend my eighteen-year-old nephew mentioned watching the footage of 9-11 in school this year for the first time.  In the 1980s only the last paragraph of the last chapter of our World History textbooks discussed the Holocaust, yet we at least spent a week talking about the subject.  But not until the 1990s was the Holocaust taught in most of American school systems.  Even today only 35 states require education in the subject in school curriculums.  Certainly the most important lessons in history can be taught with its study, and in that light We Spoke Out should serve as a wake-up call to everyone, citizens, educators, and leaders.  Oddly enough, for generations of American kids, the only place they learned about the murder of six million Jews, the stories of concentration camps, of the atrocities committed by Hitler and his Nazis, was in the comics pages.

   

The stories in the anthology present the atrocities of World War II without the overdone blood and gore of many 1950s “horror” comics.  In an April 1955 story from Impact Issue #1 we meet a Jewish man post-War still haunted by his memories in what would now be called PTSD.  In the pages of December 1951’s Frontline Combat, Issue #3 story the then-lauded Nazi general Rommel is dressed down, revealing the villainous truths of his leadership in the face of contemporary efforts to re-invent Rommel as a military hero.  Based on the real-life Nazi Ilse Koch, in a story from Beware! Terror Tales, Issue #4, we are reminded of the vilest of humans who made household goods from the tattooed skin of captured Jews–a real-life horror some may think is only the stuff of fiction from Silence of the Lambs.  Among these stories ripped from real life, Adams, Medoff, and Yoe fill in the blanks of time with historical context, including details of what the stories leave out.

Continue reading

wonder-woman-jill-thompson-cover

The best artwork in a graphic novel you will find this year is at your comic book store this week.  Seven-time Eisner Award winner Jill Thompson has created the definitive Wonder Woman origin story with Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, written and painted in the spectacularly vibrant manner only America’s most acclaimed writer-artist could create.

You may be familiar with Diana, Amazon Princess, and her ancient origin story, but this new version is a keeper–a storybook you’d read to your kids with lush colors and mythology steeped in classic folklore.  The action and storytelling are similar in execution to the best work of Alan Moore and his bold layouts, as well as the action and story development in Frank Miller’s 300–an easy comparison because of the setting and theme–yet Thompson’s story and art is far richer.  Thompson’s watercolor-painted comic pages and layout work is up there with the 1980s-1990s work of Mike Grell, and Wonder Woman: The True Amazon may very well be not only looked back on as the benchmark for all Wonder Woman: Year One attempts to come, it’s very possibly the best looking graphic novel from DC Comics since Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.

jill-thompson-wonder-woman-excerpt

Best of all, Thompson’s story is surprising.  For much of the tale Diana is anything but heroic.  An early subtitle was The Very Selfish Princess–should that give you a hint.  Thompson looked deep into the mythos of Wonder Woman–celebrating her 75th year this year–and asked “what did Diana go through to become this iconic figure?”

Continue reading

comix movie

We’ve seen plenty of recent efforts trying to get to the heart of what comic books and their fans are all about, including documentaries reviewed here at borg.com like Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle, and With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story.  The latest look at comic books, creators, the industry, and fans is being released tomorrow from filmmaker Michael Valentine.

Comix: Beyond the Comic Book Pages includes interviews with noted comic book industry veterans, including Stan Lee (Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four) (Batman, X-Men, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Superman, Justice League of America), Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Productions (Hellboy, Sin City, Goon, Concrete), Marc Silvestri of Image Comics and Top Cow Productions (Tomb Raider, Hunter Killer, Witchblade), and Todd McFarlane (Spawn).

Filmed by Valentine over a decade, the documentary includes footage new and old from cosplayers at Comic-Con, WonderCon, Anime Expo and Wizard World.  The documentary provides an overview of the world of comic books, backed by superhero-themed music and montage images of comic book panels.

Here is a preview of the Comix: Beyond the Comic Book Pages:
Continue reading

Kubert main cover DKIII     DK II The Master Race alt cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

I am truly hoping Frank Miller’s eight issue The Dark Knight III: The Master Race does what I hope J.J. Abrams will be successful at with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If the first issue is any indication, the series might be better than The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the sequel to the seminal work Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Why the comparison to Abrams?  Unlike DKI and DKII, which was written and illustrated by Miller with colors by Lynn Varley, DKIII is “co-written” by Brian Azzarello, and illustrated by Andy Kubert with inks by Klaus Janson (who also inked the original Miller pencils on DKI).  It’s this concept of expanding an original story to new creators that may allow this Dark Knight Elseworlds story to regain some steam.

Dark-Knight-III-The-Master-Race-12     Jock DKIII cover

With Issue #1, Kubert has drawn the beginning of a continuation story that looks like it was drawn by Miller.  Miller’s original four-issue series included many unique design concepts, including frenetically rendered heroes as well as psychedelic street thugs, TV screens delivering the backstory of the world view as the plotline moved forward, and plenty of grim, dystopian future-Gotham characterizations.  All of these are back, yet in an updated style, including the attention to current technologies that weren’t around in the 1980s like texting to deliver the view of the state of Gotham as part of its world building.

Continue reading

Frank Miller The Master Race DK 3

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  Comic book readers all remember first reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  Most of the world would acknowledge it is one of the top 20 most influential graphic novels of all time and belongs on many a top 10 list for any kind of novel.  We all look ahead each week to the next good read, and can’t wait to read the next DKR.

We just don’t mean that literally.  We once thought that is exactly what we wanted, once upon a time.  Then Frank Miller delivered what we thought we wanted with his sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, or DK2.  It was pretty much unreadable, made worse because it was released on Miller’s trademark staggered “I’ll release it when I feel like it” schedule (remember All-Star Batman and Robin?).

So DC Entertainment just issued a press release late Friday announcing The Dark Knight III:  The Master Race.  Really?  The Master Race?  From the guy that wrote the offensive, bigotted Holy Terror?  What is DC Comics thinking?

DKR 2

The Dark Knight Strikes Again, DK2. Be careful what you wish for.

Continue reading

abrams-star-wars-comics

Review by C.J. Bunce

With three new Star Wars comic book series beginning this year as the license returns to Marvel Comics, we’re taking a look at the second book in Abrams Books’ series of hardcover art house books on the franchise, Star Wars Art: Comics.  From the series that also brought us Star Wars Art: Posters, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and Star Wars Storyboards, Star Wars Art: Comics hones in on sequential art found in the comic book medium.

Star Wars and comic books have been in lock-step since Star Wars first hit theaters, thanks to George Lucas and an early meeting with writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin.  The transcript of that meeting is included as an appendix to the book.  Beginning with the first comic book adaptation from Marvel and running through the Dark Horse years, Abrams has compiled a solid overview of thirty years of interpretations of the myth and magic of the Force.

Star Wars original cover art to Star Wars Howard Chaykin

Plates from cover and interior artwork were hand-picked for the book by George Lucas.  Star Wars Art: Comics is worth its price alone simply for the clear photos of Howard Chaykin and Tom Palmer’s original cover art for Marvel’s Star Wars Issue #1 and Dave Cockrum and Rick Hoberg’s original artwork to the oversized edition, both also featured on the book’s binding under the jacket.  Al Williamson’s stunningly rendered imagery from his adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back pepper the volume as well.

Continue reading