TV Review: The Boys (2019- )

Original Run: July 26th, 2019 – current
Created by: Eric Kripke
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Boys by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson
Music by: Christopher Lennertz
Cast: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Kapon, Karen Fukuhara, Nathan Mitchell, Elisabeth Shue, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Esposito, Giancarlo Esposito, Haley Joel Osment, Brit Morgan

Sony Pictures Television, Amazon Studios, Kripke Enterprises, Point Grey Pictures, Original Film, Kickstart Entertainment, KFL Nightsky Productions, 8 Episodes (so far), 55-66 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

If I’m being honest, the trailer for this show hurts it. When I saw it, I thought it looked cheesy and way too edgy boi. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the show was something much better than what the trailer alluded to.

In fact, this is the best superhero show on television. Now I’m saying that only having seen the first season, as that’s all we’ve got at this point. However, I have a good feeling that it should maintain its quality, at least for another season or two, as it ends in a pretty profound way like a stiff, solid gut punch.

Like Preacher, another television show adapted from the comic book work of Garth Ennis, this is a dark tale that shows some people at their very worst while still providing enough lightheartedness to help take the edge off.

The cast is absolutely superb in this. Every single person that’s a regular on the show is putting in some top notch work. Karl Urban kills it in everything and that should go without saying. However, I don’t know much about Jack Quaid but I’m a fan now. The real standout though is Anthony Starr, who plays Homelander, who is this universe’s version of a Superman. Except this Superman is a total asshole that does some unbelievably heinous stuff.

I wasn’t completely sold on the show until episode four, which was the halfway point for this short season. Starr’s Homelander takes center stage and shows you the type of mad god that he is. While powerful superheroes turned evil and running amok is nothing new in the genre, this was some next level shit. And it was a moment that could have made the show or broke it. It certainly made it, as its perfectly executed, giving off the right sort of emotion and context, adding real depth to two of the main characters.

Since I loved the hell out of this show’s inaugural season, I don’t want to spoil too much. But if it’s not hitting the right notes for you early on, give it until the end of episode four. At the point, it’s hard not to go on.

The Boys is solid storytelling, solid character building and maybe the savior of the superhero genre, which is starting to get redundant and tiresome like spaghetti westerns by the late ’70s. And maybe that’s because this isn’t a standard superhero story, it’s real drama with high stakes and there are a lot of narrative threads and different avenues that the show can explore.

In only 8 episodes, it perfected world building and gave us something special… something I definitely want more of. Only two other shows really ensnared me like this in the last ten-to-twelve years: Mr. Robot and Breaking Bad.

Now the rating is pretty high but it just represents the first and so far only season. Hopefully, The Boys can maintain its quality moving forward.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: another Garth Ennis comic turned television show: Preacher.

Comic Review: Vampirella Master Series – Omnibus

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Kurt Busiek, Mike Carey, Warren Ellis, Jeph Loeb, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, James Robinson
Art by: Amanda Conner, Gary Frank, Joe Jusko, Louis LaChance, Mike Lilly, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Mark Texeira

Dynamite Entertainment, Harris Comics, 545 Pages

Review:

I’ve kind of dug Vampirella my entire life, even if I hadn’t read many of her stories until more recently. She always looked like a cool, badass character and I’ve always enjoyed horror, especially vampire fiction.

Being that this is the 50th anniversary of the character and because I’m stoked for the new series that Christopher Priest is writing, I wanted to dive deep into Vampirella lore.

This gigantic omnibus was put out recently by Dynamite but it collects stories from the ’90s when Vampirella was being published by the now defunct Harris Comics.

What makes this collection special, is that it is a compilation of Vampirella stories from a ton of A-list creators in a time when comics were allowed to be harder, sexier, edgier and darker: all things that make Vampirella who she is.

Overall, most of this was entertaining. The only low point was the Kurt Busiek story because it was a bit slow when compared to the pacing of the others. I did like Busiek’s tale overall but it was also the largest and kind of took the wind out of the sails for me.

I wish that some of the other stories were larger or expanded on more, though. There were a lot of cool ideas tossed around and a lot of what was considered Vampirella canon was experimented on and retconned. Typically, I’m not big on retcons but with Vampirella having a rocky history, as far as being published regularly and with any sort of long lasting narrative, it doesn’t bother me. Plus, by the ’90s, a little reinvention wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In the end, I was glad to have finally read these stories and they’re certainly better than what was the standard in the early to mid-’90s.

I also loved most of the art.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Vampirella stories, as well as comics featuring Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris.

Comic Review: The Death-Defying Devil (2008 series)

Published: 2008
Written by: Alex Ross, Joe Casey
Art by: Edgar Salazar, Alex Ross (covers)
Based on: Daredevil by Jack Binder, Jack Cole (revamped)

Dynamite Entertainment, 92 Pages

Review:

Before there was Daredevil, well… there was Daredevil.

This isn’t Marvel’s Daredevil who debuted in the 1960s. This is the Golden Age Daredevil, who was a hero published by Lev Gleason Publications starting in 1940. Nowadays, due to copyrights, he is referred to as the Death-Defying Devil.

This is a review of his first series by Dynamite Entertainment back in 2008. I wanted to check it out because he has a new series debuting later this year.

However, despite the fantastic Alex Ross covers, there wasn’t much here to keep me wanting to read beyond this story. It sets up the universe for the Death-Defying Devil and other golden age heroes he calls allies but the story was weak and mostly uninteresting.

The interior art also wasn’t fantastic and the whole idiom about “don’t judge a book by its cover”, works in reverse too.

I may read the follow up story to this but I’m not sure when. Maybe on a rainy day when I’m caught up on all the other comics in my queue.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other modern adaptations of Golden Age superheroes.

Book Review: ‘Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics’ by Stan Lee & Robert Greenberger

Since How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way rarely left my side in my adolescent and early teen years, I wanted to check out Stan Lee’s other books on creating comics.

This was the first more modern volume I’ve read. He put out a few through Dynamite Entertainment about a decade ago and I’d like to work my way through them.

What drew my interest to this one, in particular, is that it was focused on writing. So obviously, I wanted to soak up all of Stan the Man’s advice, as I’ve created comic books in the past and plan to work on a few in the future.

While this book definitely has Stan steering the ship, a lot of it features advice from a myriad of comic book creatives. Stan does a superb job of organizing the advice of others and presenting it at the right time to help hammer home some of his points. But he also allows for others’ perspectives to be heard.

This book probably isn’t interesting to those who don’t want to write comics but it is chock full of great advice for those that do.

It’s not life changing for would be writers but it is informative and a good primer on how to write specifically for comics and the pros and cons of different writing methods.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics and Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes.

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars, Vol. 1

Published: October 12th, 2011
Written by: Arvid Nelson
Art by: Lui Antonio
Based on: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dynamite Entertainment, 275 Pages

Review:

I never was a big fan of the Barsoom stuff by Edgar Rice Burroughs. That’s probably because I never read the books and have just had vague knowledge of the characters John Carter and Dejah Thoris. However, since Thoris has been appearing in lots of crossovers with other characters I’m a fan of, I wanted to check out her earliest stories. Also, with the Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who franchises putting out a lot of bullshit the last few years, maybe it is time to give the Barsoom franchise a shot.

This was a cool story and I like the world that these characters live in. I also recently watched Disney’s John Carter for the first time, as I wanted to compare two different versions of this same story. Both this comic and that movie are adaptations of the first Barsoom novel, A Pricess of Mars.

For the most part, the film and this comic are pretty close, narratively. There are some small differences and I’m not sure which is closer to the novel but I definitely prefer the look of the Martians in the comic and the more adult tone. Here, the Martians look like four armed Hulks with orc-like heads and tusks. In some ways, it reminded me a lot of the Planet Hulk storyline.

The story is well presented and it flows nicely. My only real complaint about this was the art. It’s not terrible but it feels rushed and a bit overly fantastical. Also, Dejah Thoris is basically naked minus her pasties and loin cloth. I’m not sure if that’s how she appears in Burroughs’ book but it felt a bit unnecessary and I’m no prude. I’m a fan of boobies for sure but I felt like an old perv reading this while waiting for my order at Five Guys.

Warlord of Mars was amusing and entertaining though. I’ll probably check out more of these stories by Dynamite, in preparation before reading some of Dejah Thoris’ crossovers with Vampirella and Red Sonja.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Dynamite’s other Barsoom related comics.

Talking Pulp’s Pull List – 3rd Quarter, 2019

This is my personal pull list as it stands, right now. From month to month it changes, as I read a lot of limited series stuff but I figured that doing a quarterly update would be cool for my readers that keep up with current comics.

So this is what I have my local comic shop pull for me each month, most of which I will review every time I get to the end of a story arc.

I’ve broken them out by publisher and alphabetized the list to make it flow easier.

And if there’s anything you like that I’m not reading, tell me in the comments.

But, as you can see, my list keeps shrinking.

Marvel Comics:
-Absolute Carnage
-Conan the Barbarian
-Daredevil
-Dead Man Logan
-Guardians of the Galaxy
-The Immortal Hulk
-Savage Avengers
-The Savage Sword of Conan
-Silver Surfer Black
-Spider-Man: Life Story
-Symbiote Spider-Man
-Venom

DC Comics:
-Batman and the Outsiders
-Batman: Curse of the White Knight
-Deathstroke
-Detective Comics
-Doomsday Clock
-Justice League Odyssey

Dynamite Entertainment:
-Red Sonja
-Red Sonja: Birth of the She-Devil
-The Shape of Elvira
-Vampirella

Image Comics:
-Spawn

IDW Publishing:
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder In Hell

Dark Horse:
-Stranger Things: Six

Comic Review: Battlestar Galactica Classic

Published: October 3rd, 2018 – June 19th, 2019
Written by: John Jackson Miller
Art by: Daniel HDR
Based on: Battlestar Galactica by Glen A. Larson

Dynamite Entertainment, 177 Pages

Review:

I added this to my pull list when it was announced last year. I used to love reading the old Marvel Battlestar Galactica comics from the ’80s, back when the original show was still relevant and two decades before the reboot.

Even though I loved the reboot, the original BSG is still my favorite. But the two versions are vastly different in style and tone.

Dynamite Entertainment seems to do a pretty good job of adapting intellectual properties into comic book form. They have really picked up the ball that IDW dropped a few years back and are giving fans some solid, quality work. Now I can’t say that for every IP they publish but BSG and a few others haven’t been disappointments.

This miniseries, which should be an ongoing, if I’m being honest, captures the tone and the feel of the original series. I picked up issue #0 when it dropped late last year simply because the cover blew me away. It felt like the old Marvel comics from the classic ’80s run. Luckily for me, the comic also lived up to the cover that captivated me.

I like that the series also gave us some aliens that were unique to this story and in a physical sense, wouldn’t have been able to look the same had they been used for a TV episode back when the original show was still airing.

This just felt right from top to bottom. In fact, it makes me hope that someday Dynamite can do an adaptation of a similar show: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Hell, maybe the two IPs should crossover, as they are too similar to ignore.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the classic Marvel Battlestar Galactica comics.