Advertisements

Tag Archive: Noah Smith


Phil Noto Black Widow

The last day of the year is finally here, and with that the last of our reviews of the best content of 2014.

We’ve previewed comic books each month thanks to publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, and Image.  We sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics has to offer, too, and although we don’t have enough time to review everything we review those titles we think our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro angle.  And we read plenty of books–sci-fi and fantasy, pulp and spy novels, movie and TV tie-ins, even Westerns and steampunk, as well as non-fiction books about movies, TV, and other genre topics.  This past month we have looked again at these titles, as we narrowed our selections to what we think are the very best.  So here are our picks for Best in Print for 2014.

Black-Widow-5

Best Comic Book Series — Black Widow, Marvel Comics.  We were wondering early on what would take the place of Fraction and Hollingsworth’s Hawkeye series for the most satisfying superhero fix.  It didn’t take long to see this other Marvel series looking at another superhero in a similarly personal–but very different–way.  It was a standout in a great year of comics.  Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once.  Full of action, espionage, and intrigue.  A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition.  See our reviews of the series here and here.

AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0

Best Comic Book Mini-Series — Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics.  Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s?  And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale?  Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla made for a sumptuous series like no other.  Not technically a mini-series, it feels like one because of its staggered release.  See our earlier raves about the series here.

Wilds End issue 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Dan Abnett, Wild’s End, BOOM! Studios.  Abnett’s Wild’s End really caught us by surprise.  An incredible fantasy read that is truly unique from BOOM! Studios.  Anthropomorphic characters with incredible archaic dialogue that’s witty and smart.  A crazy mash-up of War of the Worlds, Christopher Robin’s neighborhood, and the dark edge and high stakes of Revival.  We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this series.  Check out our earlier review here.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Vandroid trade cover

Vandroid is insane at every level.  It’s a movie that never got made.  It left behind a John Carpenter-esque soundtrack (and a really good one).  It’s also an onslaught of some incredible promotional materials, miraculously saved from a fire that burned down the movie studio back in 1984.  Trading cards?  A model kit?  Even temporary tattoos.

Vandroid is the ultimate B-movie action flick from the 1980s.  Or it should have been.  After reading the five-issue limited series re-issued as a trade paperback today from BOOM! Studios and visiting the movie website you may even remember seeing ads for the movie back in the 1980s.  Only you couldn’t have.  Why?  Because none of it is real.

Vandroid trading card sticker

Vandroid is a graphic novel.  It’s a concept about as clever as you get in comic book publishing today.  Let’s create the legend of a movie, a bad production, film footage shot but lost in a fire and subsequent legal battle.  What would have accompanied the film?  How about marketing for an Atari video game?  Slick movie posters?  Got ’em.  What would the video game have looked like?  They’ve mocked up that, too.

vandroid poster

And at the center of the story a humanoid robot who drives a van.  And he possesses the memories of the guy that the technology took over, a washed-up mechanic named Chuck Carducci.  Chuck creates Vandroid after meeting up with his old college roommate from MIT, a guy working on artificial intelligence at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.  Introduce a plutonium-ion battery and some high-octane performance van parts and you could only have… Vandroid.

Continue reading

Vandroid movie poster

In the 1984 Simon & Simon episode “Almost Completely Out of Circulation,” probably the best comic book tie-in episode ever on television, a comic book creator is murdered, and A.J. and Rick must find the killer.  The brothers have this classic story of having all their comic books thrown away, this time with A.J. tossing out a box of Rick’s that he had no idea contained the collection.  Worse yet, the warehouse for the comics burnt down so the books became quite rare.

In what could be in the same universe of Simon & Simon’s San Diego of 1984, a company called Palm Springs Entertainment is making a generation-defining movie about the end of the classic van era (remember van art, with great murals on the sides of the Ford Econoline van?).  But days into filming the studio burns down.  Lawsuits follow.  The film is no more, with only movie posters, grindhouse lobby cards, and charred film stills left.

Vandroid cover other

Continue reading