Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds

Published: November 23rd, 2010
Written by: Max Brooks
Art by: Howard Chaykin, Antonio Fuso
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 132 Pages

Review:

Hearts & Minds is a pretty interesting collection at first glance.

The book is written by Max Brooks, son of the uber talented Mel Brooks, as well as the author of World War Z and its spiritual predecessor, The Zombie Survival Guide. There are no zombies in this, however.

Additionally, this is a collection of short character studies featuring several popular characters from G.I. Joe lore. This all takes place within the confines of the IDW continuity but it helps to give quick intimate glances at characters without trying to do it within a larger, multi-character story.

While I like the idea and like some of the characters showcased, the stories are really short and just sort of like a flash in the pan of a character’s life. This book really just went by too damn fast. I almost wish that each story was the length of a standard issue and that Max Brooks was able to make this like a 12 issue event, as opposed to this super quick read.

I’m not blaming Brooks for the minuscule content, that is probably due to whatever contract agents, lawyers and accountants in a San Diego office agreed on. But ultimately, this feels like bones with very little meat.

Some of the ideas and glimpses into the lives of the heroes and villains of this franchise were just enough to whet your palate and leave you wanting more. But more never came.

Good idea, nice art, cool ideas but shoddy execution. This wasn’t an attempt at good storytelling. It was more or less a way to throw Max Brooks name on a book in an effort to try and grab sales without much effort by all parties involved.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The early G.I. Joe stuff by IDW.

Book Review: Tales from the Cobra Wars – A G.I. Joe Anthology

Since I have been knee deep in IDW’s G.I. Joe comics, as of late, I decided to pick up this book that exists within that same universe. It is an anthology of novella and short story length tales by various writers. It was edited by Max Brooks (son of the uber talented Mel Brooks, as well as the author of World War Z and its spiritual predecessor, The Zombie Survival Guide).

Sadly, I wasn’t pulled into this book in the same way that I’ve been pulled into IDW’s comics. Maybe my mind just needed that extra visual element but to be honest, the stories just didn’t have the excitement that the comics have had for me.

The first chapter was a Snake Eyes story by talented G.I. Joe comics writer Chuck Dixon. I love Dixon’s work and I can’t praise it enough but this tale didn’t really cut the mustard for me. I’m not a fan of Dixon’s prose, I guess. That’s not a knock against it but his writing is very “point A to point B” without a lot of flourish. Despite something cool happening in the story, the style just feels bland to me.

The other tales aren’t much better. Nothing is truly boring but nothing is truly exciting either.

I’m assuming I’m not alone in my assessment of this collection, as there was never any sort of follow up to it. Had it been a success, IDW would’ve probably kept pumping these out like their G.I. Joe comics.

Still, if you’re a hardcore fan, it’s hard not to pick this up. The cover art is solid and it will look good on a shelf wedged between other G.I. Joe titles.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: IDW’s run of G.I. Joe comic book titles.

Film Review: World War Z (2013)

Release Date: June 2nd, 2013 (Empire Cinema premiere)
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Matt Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, J. Michael Straczynski
Based on: World War Z by Max Brooks
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Peter Capaldi, David Morse, Ruth Negga

Skydance Productions, Hemisphere Media Capital, GK Films, Plan B Entertainment, 2DUX², Paramount Pictures, 116 Minutes

Review:

*written in 2014.

“Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.” – Jurgen Warmbrunn

I didn’t have much urge to see World War Z when it came out. The zombie craze has been out of control and nothing about it seemed too terribly interesting. Granted, the zombies ran with lightning speed, had the behavior of ants trying to reach food and would destroy themselves in the process of hunting humans. Still, we had fast suicidal zombies with Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake over a decade ago.

While there wasn’t seemingly anything new here, I did enjoy the film. Brad Pitt knocked it out of the park and the appearance of Peter Capaldi (the next Doctor on Doctor Who) added an extra level of awesomeness.

The plot was okay enough, as Brad Pitt had to travel the zombie infested world, figuring out what the cause of the outbreak was and how to stop it. The conclusion doesn’t quite answer the question but it is still as happy as a happy ending can get in a film where practically everyone is eaten.

The film is intense, which kept me engaged and the added mix of different geographical locals brought some contrast to each sequence throughout the film. The zombie outbreak on the airplane though, that’s probably the high point.

This isn’t what I would call a great movie by any means. It wasn’t very inventive and didn’t bring much of anything new to the zombie genre other than world travel. I still enjoyed it though.

Rating: 6/10