Comic Review: Conan 2099

Published: November 27th, 2019
Written by: Gerry Duggan
Art by: Roge Antonio, Geoff Shaw
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 33 Pages

Review:

I like Gerry Duggan’s Conan work. He’s written a few stories since Marvel got the famous barbarian back a year ago.

Since I kind of dug the 2099 stuff back when it all debuted in the early ’90s, the thought of a futuristic, cyberpunk-centric Conan story wasn’t something I was willing to pass up.

While this is really just a one-shot, it is part of a much larger 2099 crossover event. Not having read the other stories, I felt a bit lost here and honestly, this just made me wish that there was a Conan 2099 miniseries that was self-contained. Because it is an interesting concept but it needs its own room to breathe and space to play.

The plot here follows Conan in the future and he runs into Morgan le Fay, as well as Nova. Well… Nova is… um… huh… I won’t spoil it in case you want to read this 2099 event.

So some stuff happens, Conan is a badass in the future but ultimately, this was barely enough to whet my palate with the idea of a future Conan. And I’m sorry, I don’t want to read the whole massive crossover just to make this one comic make more sense.

The art is okay, the cover is better than the interiors but I guess that’s typical in 2019.

Honestly, if you want me to get excited for this future Conan thing, make me a series. I’ll add it to my pull list with all the other Conan titles.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: I’m assuming the other comics tied to the current Marvel 2099 event.

Comic Review: Mars Attacks Judge Dredd

Published: February 12th, 2014
Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: John McCrea, Greg Staples
Based on: Judge Dredd by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills, Mrs Attacks! by Topps

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

I feel like I’ve been suffering from crossover burnout but this one was at least amusing and I found it to be better than a lot of the other ones I’ve read lately.

The tone kind of took me off guard and I was annoyed by all the weird mafioso shit that started the story, as it featured characters that were poor knockoffs of Dick Tracy‘s gimmicky villains.

However, once Judge Dredd got on the scene, as well as the Martians, things picked up and this had a good, comedic vibe.

This certainly isn’t a must read for fans of either (or both) franchises but it’s not a total waste and it’s at least as entertaining as it can be.

Al Ewing wrote this and he’s become a top dog in the comics industry after his work on The Immortal Hulk but if I’m being honest, this pales in comparison to his more recent work. But in his defense, this wasn’t written in any way that should be taken too seriously.

This is short and it’s a quick and easy read. It’s violent, humorous and a decent way to kill a half hour.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other comics or crossovers featuring Mars Attacks! or Judge Dredd.

Video Game Review: Batman (NES)

This game came out in early 1990. In fact, I got it for Easter that year, which made me extremely happy and lead to me playing the crap out of this game for weeks on end.

It was made to tie-in to the 1989 Batman movie but the game has a lot of original stuff in it.

For one, it has more villains than just Jack Nicholson’s Joker. It also features a high tech version of Killer Moth, the Electrocutioner, as well as minor DC Comics baddie, Firebug.

The game also features two other boss battles with super computers.

All that being said, while the framework of the story follows the movie’s plot, the game really goes in its own creative direction and has a sort of futuristic cyberpunk vibe between killer robots, killer computers and all types of other high tech things. The entirety of Level 4 feels like you are inside a massive super computer.

That being said, I always kind of dug this take on the Batman ’89 universe. I think that the game designers may have been somewhat inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

My only issue with the game is that the mechanics are a bit clunky, especially in regards to jumping from wall-to-wall. You do adapt to it and after playing this for awhile, the mechanics almost become second nature.

In fact, the game is kind of a breeze until the final level, which is the giant, towering cathedral from the ’89 film’s climax. Except this version isn’t mostly empty minus three thugs and the Joker. This version is full of flamethrower troops, killer machines and an infuriating boss in the form of Firebug. After all that, hopefully you’ve got enough health to take on the Joker.

I can’t say that this game has aged particularly well but it is still a really fun game from its era. It reminds me a lot of Ninja Gaiden but less frustrating.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Batman games for the NES, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

Vids I Dig 140: AnimeEveryday: The Influence of ‘Akira’

 

Taken from AnimeEveryday’s YouTube description: In this video I discuss the influence Akira had on anime & the industry. I discuss the ’80s building up to Akira, its immediate effect in the ’90s and how its influence evolved into modern anime.

Comic Review: Akira – The Complete Saga

Published: December 6th, 1982 – June 11th, 1990 (original Japanese release)
Written by: Katsuhiro Otomo
Art by: Katsuhiro Otomo, Steve Oliff (colors in original US version)

Kodansha, Epic Comics, Marvel Comics, 2660 Pages

Review:

For my 500th comic book (or manga) review, I wanted to do something iconic; a true classic. Something that was epic in size, beloved by most and is considered to be one of the most influential works of all-time in the medium.

Now I should preface this by saying that I didn’t read this in it’s traditional manga form but I instead read the original American releases that Marvel put out through their imprint, Epic Comics.

What’s special about these is that they were broken out into 38 volumes, as opposed to the six beefier manga books. Also, the Epic version was colorized and had the art flipped to read like a traditional American comic from left to right.

But, back in the day, this is how I first read Akira, as I had the first few issues. Sadly, I never completed the set of 38 and therefore wasn’t able to read the entire Akira epic until now.

I can say that my expectations were pretty high, as I’ve been a lifelong fan of the anime film, owned all the McFarlane Toys action figures and used to draw the characters quite regularly. Akira even inspired my own comics in the early ’90s.

This exceeded my high expectations and the reason why is because I had no idea how much story I missed out on just seeing the anime. In fact, those who enjoy but who’ve only seen the anime have been severely cheated. But there is only so much you can do with a story this large with just a two hour running time. Plus, Katsuhiro Otomo made the film before completing his manga, so there are certainly some major differences with how the two conclude.

This was a stupendous read and even though it’s massive in scale, there wasn’t a dull moment or a chapter that just felt like filler. Every issue, every page and every panel served the story in some capacity. There are a lot of characters, a lot of layers and multiple avenues to explore. Akira does a fantastic job at managing multiple plots threads and bringing them all together for an incredibly satisfying conclusion.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the story and its differences with the anime. Besides, it’s all pretty complex. But that doesn’t make this hard to follow, there are just so many things to take in and process.

I guess I should also point out that Otomo’s art is some of the best I’ve ever seen in manga. And while the standard black and white form is probably how this should be read first, the colorized versions are pretty much perfection, especially considering that they were made well after the original black and white pages were published in Japan.

If you love Akira but haven’t read the manga in its entirety, it’s definitely something you need to do.

In the end, comic book or manga, this is one of the best stories I have ever read in the medium.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: Katsuhiro Otomo’s other works, as well as Ghost In the Shell and Battle Angel Alita.

Comic Review: The Complete Frank Miller RoboCop Omnibus

Published: December 7th, 2016
Written by: Frank Miller, Ed Brisson
Art by: Korkut Oztekin, Juan Jose Ryp
Based on: RoboCop by Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner

BOOM! Studios, 400 Pages

Review:

This collection is really just two stories, it is Frank Miller’s versions of RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3.

The comics here are adaptations of the screenplays that Miller wrote but went unused by the studio. However, there is a ton of stuff in these stories that were actually used in the final films. Also, I believe that these are reworked to a degree, as Ed Brisson cleaned up some of the writing and there are things that feel like homages to the two RoboCop sequels more than they were actually in Miller’s script. For instance, a cameo by the Kane robot from RoboCop 2 but with a different brain.

Overall, this was enjoyable but it was bogged down by mostly crappy art. I understand that this style may appeal to some and I think it was chosen because it had an ’80s outlaw comics feel to it but it wasn’t fluid, was often times hard to look at and understand and it put a halt on the narrative’s momentum quite a bit.

Additionally, this was so over the top and edgy boi cringe that I can see why Miller’s scripts were completely reworked and polished into something more palatable for the mainstream. And sure, RoboCop is an over the top, edgy movie for its time but this pushes the bar way too far. Miller seemed to have no restraint and went for shock value and absolute absurdity over writing anything that seemed to build off of the original film in a meaningful or logical way.

The tone is just wrong. I can see where Miller though it was right but these stories are really devoid of the humanity that made RoboCop a much better movie than it should have been.

I can’t say that this is a waste of time for hardcore RoboCop fans. It is at least interesting because it shows you what the sequel films could have been and both of these stories are better than the final film that was RoboCop 3. However, I’d put the final cinematic version of RoboCop 2 well above either of these strange and baffling tales.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the old Marvel RoboCop comics run.

Film Review: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Also known as: T2 (promotional abbreviation)
Release Date: July 1st, 1991 (Century City premiere)
Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron, William Wisher
Music by: Brad Fiedel
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton, Earl Boen, Jenette Goldstein, Xander Berkeley, Dean Norris, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Nikki Cox, Michael Biehn (cameo – Special Edition and Ultimate Cut)

Carolco Pictures, Pacific Western, Lightstorm Entertainment, Le Studsio Canal+ S.A., TriStar Pictures, 137 Minutes, 153 Minutes (Special Edition), 156 Minutes (Ultimate Cut)

Review:

“[narrating] The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.” – Sarah Connor

When I was middle school aged, this film hit theaters. At the time, I thought it was just about the best movie ever made. At that age, it appealed to me more than the superior original but I think that’s because I was roughly the same age as John Connor and I was living vicariously through his experience in the film.

The thing is, this is still an utterly stupendous motion picture and one of the best that James Cameron has ever done. But, as an adult, I can’t put this over the masterpiece that is the original film.

Still, it is an incredible film and a great thing to experience, even for the 38th time watching it. Honestly, I may have seen it more than that as my VHS copy broke years ago.

It’s been a long time since I’ve revisited this classic, though. But this was the first time I watched the Special Edition, which added in new scenes and longer cuts. The most important of those is a scene where Michael Biehn returns as Kyle Reese in a dream Sarah Connor has while still locked up in the mental hospital.

There is also a cool scene that shows John defy his mother in order to spare the Terminator that is protecting them. It’s actually a good character building scene that probably should have been left in, as it shows John’s natural leader personality come through and it also amplifies Sarah’s paranoia about working with a Terminator.

The only other notable addition is a scene that shows Miles Dyson and his family. This probably should have been cut but it is nice to see him trying to balance his personal life and work life.

Everything in this movie still holds up today. While the special effects might not be as impressive in 2019, they don’t look bad and for the time, they were lightyears ahead of what anyone else was doing. And it was those great digital effects that made the villainous T-1000 exist and frankly, he is still one of the most terrifying villains in movie history. But I have to give credit to Robert Patrick for that, even if its the effects that allowed him to come into being.

All the practical effects are top notch too, from the opening sequence of the war from the future and all the makeup, prosthetic and animatronic work they had to do for Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in the second half of the film.

But getting back to the acting, it’s a mixed bag, really.

Linda Hamilton has never been better. Also, Schwarzenegger is pretty perfect but this version of the Terminator character is written in a way that doesn’t require much from him other than what is naturally present in his real personality. That’s not a knock against Arnold, as much as it is a nod of respect to James Cameron for giving us a more human cyborg that is trying to become something more than just a killing machine. The script and the dialogue written for Arnold enhance his strengths and don’t force him to have to deal with his weaknesses. Frankly, it enhances the overall experience.

Now Edward Furlong did okay, being that this is his first film but I felt like his performance could’ve been fine tuned more. When I was a kid, I didn’t give a shit, I thought he was cool. As an adult, I see some of the problems with his acting but at the same time, he’s far from terrible. Where it sometimes doesn’t work really isn’t his fault either. James Cameron should’ve just stepped in more and helped the kid. But then, I also don’t know how many takes were shot and its possible that these were just the best they could get and had to move on.

I mentioned that I like the first movie the best but this one does a much better job of world building and in that, this feels like the most complete and overall satisfying film in the franchise. Where the first film feels more like a sci-fi slasher movie with guns instead of knives, this feels more like something akin to the epic world building of Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings.

This film certainly has the most to offer in regards to the franchise as a whole. And since nothing after has really come close to its greatness, there isn’t much reason to watch the films that follow. Besides, they all start contradicting each other and this franchise has been rebooted three different times because it became a giant mess.

Eventually, I will get around to the other films just to review them. I already reviewed Terminator: Genisys when it came out back in 2015 but I haven’t revisited Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or Terminator: Salvation since they were in theaters. Plus, I’ve still got to watch the TV show but I’ve heard that it’s actually pretty good.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the first Terminator film. Ignore the sequels after this one.