Published: July 1st, 2020
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard
Image Comics, 36 Pages
Even though The Walking Dead comic series ended a year ago, I always figured that we’d get comics in the future.
Hopefully, this one-shot isn’t the last but I don’t think it will be. I’m not sure what Robert Kirkman’s plan is, if there even is any, but I think that stories will continue to pop into his head every now and then.
This story takes place somewhere between the time where Negan left the comic series and its finale. It shows Negan living on his own where a girl stumbles into his homestead. Negan knows that its an obvious setup and is just kind of waiting for some bad guys to show up and try to take his shit.
They do and like everyone else, they don’t kill Negan and end up paying for it with their lives.
Being that this is just a one-shot, it’s a short, simple story that is kind of similar to the episodes of the show that focus on one character for an hour. It doesn’t really move anything forward or effect the larger comic series.
Still, it was a good read and it was cool peaking in on the Negan character once again.
I only hope that the ending is a hint at something more to come with Negan or The Walking Dead universe, as a whole.
Pairs well with: other Walking Dead comics.
Written by: Peter David
Art by: George Perez
Marvel Comics, 98 Pages
Since this ’90s Peter David Hulk story was recently repackaged and reprinted in a thick floppy comic titled Maestro, I figured that I’d give it a read, as I’ve never read this story and have always loved Peter David’s Hulk material. Plus, with George Perez art, what’s not to love?
The story sees the smart version of the Green Hulk travel to the distant future. He’s pulled there by his longtime friend Rick Jones, who is now a decrepit, ancient dude that has to move around in Professor X’s ’90s hover chair. He also lives in a museum full of the long dead Marvel heroes’ personal items and weapons.
Hulk’s arrival in the future is so that he can defeat the future version of himself, an aged, balding asshole tyrant named Maestro. For those who know the character, this is his first appearance. He would go on to be more prominent years later.
This is a pretty action packed story with an epic battle between two Hulks. But it also has a lot of layers to it for being under 100 pages. In a weird twist, that no one ever seems to talk about, the Hulk is raped by one of Maestro’s concubines when he finds himself a captive of the tyrant.
The story is fast paced and I enjoyed it. I actually think that it should have been a bit longer but it packs a punch and helped to establish one of the better Hulk villains.
Pairs well with: other Peter David Hulk stories, as well as comics from the Old Man Logan continuity.
Published: May 31st, 2017
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Alex Maleev
Marvel Comics, 135 Pages
I didn’t really want to read this after reading Brian Michael Bendis’ Civil War II but I had already bought it during a big Comixology sale. Plus, historically speaking, I have always liked Iron Man stories that feature Doctor Doom.
This doesn’t feature Iron Man, however, as the story is about Doctor Doom replacing Tony Stark in the Iron Man role. But we also had Riri Williams trying to be Iron Man, as well. So this features both characters, as well as some other villains and The Thing of the Fantastic Four.
Overall, this was boring and surprisingly uneventful, even for Bendis.
A comic about Doom taking the Iron Man mantle shouldn’t have been this dull but it essentially does the same thing as The Superior Spider-Man concept but in a much more boring way with lackluster execution from a “legendary” writer, who has proven to be a hack more often than not.
Infamous Iron Man should have been intriguing and a cool, new take but it was like a bathtub fart. It sounded cool but immediately dissipated once it hit the surface, leaving behind a wet stink.
Pairs well with: its followup, as well as the early Ironheart stories and Civil War II.
Also known as: Ghost Rider 2 (working title)
Release Date: December 11th, 2011 (Austin Butt-Numb-A-Thon)
Directed by: Neveldine/Taylor
Written by: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer
Based on: Johnny Blaze by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, Mike Ploog
Music by: David Sardy
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, Idris Elba
Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Hyde Park Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, 96 Minutes
“[voiceover] Why does the devil walk on human form anyway? I have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t know either. Maybe he passes on from body to body, down through history, waiting for the perfect fit. But I know one thing, on Earth, he’s weak. His powers are limited. He needs emissaries to do his dirty work, so he finds them or makes them, using his greatest power, the power of the deal.” – Johnny Blaze
I dreaded going into this, as there was no way it could be better than its predecessor, which was a pretty big pile of cinematic shit.
However, I was wrong.
Granted, I may be alone in my assessment of this picture but I found it to be more palatable than the first Ghost Rider film because it just went batshit crazy from the get go and Nicolas Cage was fully unchained and allowed to be the insane madman he can be when he turns his performance up to eleven.
This is still a terrible film and I doubt I’ll ever watch it more than once but I didn’t find myself wanting to fast-forward like I did with the previous one.
I think it also helped the movie that Idris Elba was in it, even though he should never have to be a part of a production this atrocious. He was a bright spot in this turd, however.
Elba couldn’t save the movie, though, as it had a bafflingly bad script, not a very good story to begin with and then was littered with horrendous CGI special effects and awful acting.
Honestly, based off of the first film, this one should’ve never been made and I think that it was only greenlit, at the time, in order for the studio to try and hang on to the intellectual property rights. I mean, it’s obvious that no one associated with this film gave a shit about it.
Well, except maybe Nicolas Cage, who dedicated himself to the insanity so much that it’s only worth seeing because the level that Cage performs at here, must be seen to be believed.
At the end of the day, the movie feels like cocaine that somehow became sentient and then sniffed itself.
Pairs well with: the Ghost Rider film before it.
Written by: Joe Kelly
Art by: J.M. Ken Nimura
Image Comics, 221 Pages
This came and went and I never knew about it until recently when I heard about the film that’s based on it. So before checking out the movie, I figured I’d read the source material first. Plus, it was pretty cheap to pickup on Comixology.
I wasn’t expecting the story to get as serious as it did but at the same time, it’s pretty comedic. Honestly, it has the tone of a manga story and since it also features manga style art, it’s a much more Japanese feeling comic than a Western one.
That being said, I was fairly impressed by it and even if it wasn’t my total cup of tea, I liked the idea of a young girl with a massive hammer kicking the shit out of parasitic giants out to harm her community.
While the main character is strange, she’s likable and for the most part, relatable.
This gets into some heavy things but I also feel like this would really be enjoyed by pre-teens, close to the same age as the kids in the story.
I liked the art, the tone was different and refreshing and the characters kept my interest. Plus, the story was a neat concept that was well executed.
Pairs well with: other American manga-esque comics.
Release Date: June 7th, 1996
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based on: The Phantom by Lee Falk
Music by: David Newman
Cast: Billy Zane, Treat Williams, Kristy Swanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar, Patrick McGoohan, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Casey Siemaszko, John Capodice
Boam Productions, The Ladd Company, Paramount Pictures, 100 Minutes
“When darkness rules the earth, America’s in financial ruin. Europe and Asia are on a brink of self-annihilation. Chaos reigns. Like I’ve always said, there is opportunity in chaos. And so, my brothers, I give you… [raises out the first skull] The skull of Touganda. This skull is one of three. When all three skulls are united, they will produce a force more than any army on Earth.” – Xander Drax
A lot of people, myself included, slept on this movie when it came out because even for 1996, it looked hokey and cheap. Granted, it was actually made by a larger studio and it was a more expensive picture than one might think.
I feel like the tone was off for what was becoming the popular trends at the time and that this would’ve fared much better, half a decade earlier. But even really solid comic book movies like The Rocketeer and The Shadow struggled to find an audience before this flick was even greenlit.
While I’ve seen this a few times over the years, I think there are things within it that one can appreciate that would’ve most likely been overlooked in 1996.
To start, this is just a fun adventure movie, a popcorn picture at its core that features good actors, cool characters and period piece sets that show you where most of the budget went.
There is a very pulpy vibe to this and it almost calls back to the tone of old school swashbuckling epics without having any real swashbuckling in it.
It mostly taps into the film serial genre that helped make The Phantom character more of a household name in the ’30s through ’50s. For modern audiences, it will play like a superhero picture with elements of an Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean vibe to it.
While it’s not particularly well-acted, the core cast still give good performances that really show that they’re committed to this film’s pulpy goodness. Treat Williams’ over-the-top antics as the villain are superb and I liked him immensely in this. I also thought that Billy Zane made a really solid Phantom and Kristy Swanson was a good choice for her role. I can’t say that this is Catherine Zeta-Jones’ best work but she did look like she was having a blast hamming it up in this goofy but stylish movie.
The Phantom is far from being a classic in the superhero genre but its much better than a lot of the other offerings in the pre-Dark Knight and MCU era. Frankly, I wish it would’ve done well enough to have had a few sequels but since this felt somewhat dated for 1996, I can’t imagine any sequels connecting with the audience of that era.
Pairs well with: other comic book adaptations of the era like The Shadow, Dick Tracy, The Rocketeer and the early, cheap Marvel attempts at live-action.
Published: January 1st, 2020
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: John Buscema, Gil Kane
Based on: Conan the Barbarian and other characters by Robert E. Howard
Marvel Comics, 281 Pages
This is old school ’70s Conan the Barbarian by the original Conan comic book maestro, Roy Thomas. But it was just released as a collection and it’s kind of unique, as it tries to adapt the only full-length Conan novel that Robert E. Howard wrote: The Hour of the Dragon.
This was mainly told over the course of multiple issues of Giant-Size Conan and Conan the Barbarian annuals, as opposed to being a part of the regular comic book series.
Overall, this was action packed and featured some of the best character development writing for the Conan character. It also sees him fall in love, get married and become a ruler.
This is one of those Conan stories that kind of hits all the marks one would be looking for in a comic featuring the iconic hero. A lot happens and every issue and chapter within is pretty cool.
Additionally, this features art from two of my all-time favorite Conan artists, Gil Kane and John Buscema.
Top to bottom, this is a solid Conan tale with solid art and while it might not be a perfect adaptation of the source material, it pulls it into the Marvel comic book mythos quite well.
Pairs well with: other Conan comics from the classic Marvel era.
Also known as: El vengador fantasma (several Spanish speaking countries)
Release Date: January 15th, 2007 (Ukraine)
Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Written by: Mark Steven Johnson
Based on: Johnny Blaze by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, Mike Ploog
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Peter Fonda, Brett Cullen, Rebel Wilson
Relativity Media, Crystal Sky Pictures, Columbia Pictures, 110 Minutes, 123 Minutes (Extended Cut)
“Any man that’s got the guts to sell his soul for love has got the power to change the world. You didn’t do it for greed, you did it for the right reason. Maybe that puts God on your side. To them that makes you dangerous, makes you unpredictable. That’s the best thing you can be right now.” – Caretaker
Even though 2003’s Daredevil received pretty bad reviews, under-performed and left most moviegoers feeling disappointed, it’s director was still given the character of Ghost Rider to adapt into another live-action Marvel movie.
While I liked the Director’s Cut of Daredevil for the most part, Ghost Rider is an atrocious motion picture from top-to-bottom. Honestly, this came out when Nicolas Cage seemed to run out of gas and saw his career trending downward fast. Honestly, this and its sequel could’ve been the nail in the coffin.
This is terribly acted, except for the scenes with Sam Elliott and the minimal appearances by Peter Fonda. They can’t save the rest of the movie, however, as Cage, Eva Mendes and Wes Bentley don’t really seem to give a shit about anything. Even Donal Logue severely under-performed and he’s a guy that I tend to expect a lot from, as he’s proven, time and time again, that he’s a more than capable actor with good range and convincing performances.
The special effects can’t save the film either, as they’re generally pretty generic mid-’00s CGI shit. Hell, the villains don’t look the way they’re supposed to look and it just adds to this movie’s cheapness.
It’s a vapid, shit film, a complete waste of time and could only be upstaged in its awfulness by its even worse sequel.
I guess I’ll have to review that flaming turd soon.
Pairs well with: its sequel and other terrible comic book adaptations of the era.