Comic Review: Stumptown, Vol. 3: The Case of the King of Clubs

Published: April 15th, 2015
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Justin Greenwood, Ryan Hill

Oni Press, 133 Pages

Review:

I kind of dug the first two volumes of Stumptown and I’ve also been enjoying the television series, which debuted last fall. However, this third volume in the comics series felt like a real step down.

First off, I don’t like the art. The artist changed and the previous volumes felt more refined and less cartoonish. They still had a good, indie feel to them but this feels more like a typical Oni Press book where the other ones looked more polished and like crime comics put out by a bigger indie publisher like Image.

Also, I thought the story was weak as hell, pretty predictable and felt more like an advertisement for the Portland Timbers soccer team, as well as Portland soccer culture, than it did a gritty, edgy crime story. It felt less neo-noir and more ABC Afterschool Special.

This volume was a bore to get through, didn’t live up to the expectations I had based off of the two stories before this one and it just felt like everything was dialed in.

The story lacked layers, proper plot twists and was completely bogged down by slice of life shenanigans and repetitive conversations between paper thin characters.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: the other Stumptown volumes, as well as Gotham CentralKill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Sin City.

Vids I Dig 177: Comic Tropes: Greg Rucka’s Approach to Crime Fiction as Seen in ‘Stumptown’

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: Crime fiction is an underrepresented genre in comic books but what can be found is often excellent. This week, I’m breaking down the techniques Greg Rucka uses to write mysteries, with an eye to Stumptown, his series about a private eye named Dex. It was recently adapted into an ABC show so it seemed like a good time to break it all down.

Comic Review: Stumptown, Vol. 2

Published: May 29th, 2013
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Matthew Southworth, Rico Renzi

Oni Press, 137 Pages

Review:

I enjoyed the first volume of Stumptown. It wasn’t anything that blew me away but it was an enjoyable private eye comic with neo-noir flavor.

This story was a step up, however, and I think that Greg Rucka kind of found his flow.

The case in this volume is about trying to locate a rock star’s missing guitar. As the plot unravels and the DEA are involved, we learn that someone has been smuggling drugs through the rock band’s equipment, as they travel from city to city.

You get some swerves and a few reveals but the plot is pretty straightforward and plays more like a TV crime drama, which is probably why ABC just adapted this into a television show. The show is pretty good so far, by the way.

The biggest takeaway from this series, thus far, is that I really like these characters.

Additionally, I really like the art style and it fits the narrative tone well.

If you like crime comics, especially the stuff by Ed Brubaker, this will probably be right up your alley. It isn’t as overly violent and edgy as Brubaker’s stuff though. But for some, that might be a bonus as Brubaker’s crime comics can be brutal at times.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other Stumptown volumes, as well as Gotham CentralKill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Sin City.

Comic Review: Stumptown, Vol. 1

Published: April 5th, 2011
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Matthew Southworth, Lee Loughridge

Oni Press, 156 Pages

Review:

With Stumptown being adapted for television, I figured I’d also give the first graphic novel a read for comparison’s sake. I haven’t watched the show yet but I’ll probably binge the first half dozen episodes or so, once they’re available.

The comic series is a pretty good neo-noir in a similar vein to Ed Brubaker’s crime comics. In fact, Greg Rucka and Brubaker both worked on DC’s Gotham Central, which was a very noir-esque crime series featuring the cops of Gotham as the focal point.

This story follows a private investigator, as she is in debt over her head and more or less forced to find the missing granddaughter of a casino owner.

Stumpland takes place in and around Portland, Oregon, which gives it a cool setting that isn’t really a normal town for noir stories. In fact, I don’t really think about crime or Mexican cartels when I think of Portland but this actually takes you into that realm.

The main character, Dex, kind of reminds me of Jessica Jones or at least the television version of the character. Which, honestly, makes me wonder if they re-worked Jessica in the Netflix show to be more like this character?

I liked this tale but I also thought it was pretty predictable and more straightforward than a typical noir plot. There are the twists and turns, as one would expect, but none of them are really outside of the box or all that surprising.

What really made this work for me was the art. It’s pretty raw but the use of colors was superb. I guess the artists have changed over the course of the different Stumptown stories but I hope that the style is similar when I get to the later volumes.

Stumptown didn’t wow my socks off like Brubaker’s crime comics but it was still a cool and pretty refreshing story. And I plan on reading the volumes that come after this one.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the later Stumptown series, as well as Gotham CentralKill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Sin City.

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

Also known as: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (working title)
Release Date: July 27th, 2010 (Canada – Fantasia International Film Festival)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright
Based on: Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Music by: Nigel Godrich
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong, Nelson Franklin, Thomas Jane, Clifton Collins Jr., Bill Hader (voice)

Universal Pictures, Marc Platt Productions, Big Talk Productions, 112 Minutes

Review:

“When I’m around you, I kind of feel like I’m on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them.” – Scott Pilgrim

I haven’t watched this since it came out in theaters. From memory, I liked it at the time but strangely, I’ve never felt the urge to rewatch it until now, nine years later. And that was mainly just to review it, as I’m a fan of Edgar Wright’s work and Scott Pilgrim still seems to be beloved by comic book fans after all this time.

Well, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Maybe I’m older, or since I’ve seen this, I sort of know what to expect from it so the razzle dazzle doesn’t awe me as it once did or maybe it just isn’t a good movie as far as its story, characters and purpose goes.

To start, this is an amazing looking picture on its surface. I really dig that the filmmakers committed to the bit and gave us a true live action version of the comic without trying to rework it into something more realistic. The special effects are spectacular, the musical numbers are cool and this film is really impressive in that regard. I love it for its style and how it is all conveyed on screen.

However, the whole story is focused on one of the worst romances I have ever had to sit through in a film. Scott is obsessed with Ramona, but she acts like that girl who is too cool for everyone at all the parties she feels the need to keep going to. But really, she’s just a broken person with bad hair that delivers packages for Amazon Canada like a total twentysomething normie just trying to pay for hair dye, thrift shop clothes, avocado toast and her 1/9th of the rent.

Still, her personality is off putting as fuck but then so is Scott’s, as he just acts like whatever he thinks she wants and he even treats his current girlfriend like shit and doesn’t really seem to know who he is, what he wants or where he’s going. He just knows that he’s obsessed over some hipster douche with weird hair and now has to fight a bunch of her exes in order to maybe date her. But she is so indifferent and noncommittal for almost the entire picture that Scott just comes off as a dopey puppy that needs to have his heart crushed.

Normally I wouldn’t be so harsh on something like this but it is this budding relationship that is the framework for the entire narrative. Sad pussy puts it all on the line for salty nihilist weirdo bitch that kinda maybe likes him right this minute but has no idea how she will feel in five minutes.

There is no lesson to be learned on this journey.

I’ve never read the comic because I don’t have much interest in it but I hope the relationship in the source material isn’t this shallow and stupid.

The only reason why this doesn’t get a terrible rating from me is that the visuals and the style of this film are so alluring and perfectly presented in the film medium that the picture does put me in awe in that regard. This is a really cool and fun movie to look at and I dig the music. The surface is superb, it just turns to crap when you get past the polish, bright lights and groovy tunes.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, as well as the Kick Ass movies and Zombieland.

Comic Review: Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect

Published: March 8th, 2016
Written by: Zander Cannon
Art by: Zander Cannon

Oni Press, 168 Pages

Review:

I love kaiju. I love comics. So how about a comic about kaiju?

I’ve heard good things about Zander Cannon’s past work and I laso heard good things about this series.

Unfortunately, and I am just as surprised as anyone, but this just didn’t resonate with me. It was very childlike in its art, which is fine but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was also very humorous and while I appreciate all the subtle references to other things within the kaiju genre, it wasn’t my sort of comedy.

I liked the concept, I liked the ideas, I even liked some of the characters but the story just doesn’t seem to stay on the rails very well.

This is more of an homage to the Ultraman pocket of the kaiju universe than say Godzilla or Gamera. I liked that too, as everyone wants to milk Godzilla to death and Ultraman is pretty underappreciated in Western culture. But ultimately, I’d rather just read an Ultraman story with a style of humor similar to what I like about that franchise’s comedic side.

Kaijumax was still a worthwhile experience because I love kaiju. This does resonate with others from what I’ve seen online, as far as reviews and reactions to it. I’m probably the odd man out and other kaiju fans will disagree with me.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: Other releases in this series and also the IDW Godzilla comics, although those aren’t nearly as comedic.