Documentary Review: So Much Damage: How Image Comics Changed the World (2017)

Original Run: November 20th, 2017
Directed by: Jon Erwin
Written by: Michael Avila
Music by: Paul Terry

Syfy, 5 Episodes, 15 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This is the second documentary I have seen on Image Comics but this isn’t just a rehash of what was already covered in the slightly superior The Image Revolution.

This one was broken out into five 15 minute web episodes and put out by Syfy, who used to be the much cooler Sci-Fi Channel before they changed their channel’s spelling into something stupid.

Anyway, like The Image Revolution this documentary interviews all the key players and gets their stories. But what I like most about this is how it spends a good deal of time talking more about modern Image Comics and not just the revolution of 1991. As cool as that revolt was, modern Image has grown into something that I don’t feel any of the founding members could have fathomed back then.

It’s always fun to hear these guys talk about themselves, their experiences and the creation of Image, as it was a really exciting thing for me to experience as a fan in 1991. It was and still is the coolest thing that happened in the comic book industry in my lifetime.

So this certainly stirs up nostalgia but that doesn’t mean that this survives on that alone. It’s informative, has a good pace and is well organized and presented.

Younger comic book fans today will probably find some value in this, even though it’s made to attract the older fans who remember all of this like it was yesterday.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Image Revolution and Chris Claremont’s X-Men.

 

Comic Review: Die!Die!Die!, Issues #1 – #2

Published: July 11th, 2018 – August 22nd, 2018
Written by: Scott M. Gimple, Robert Kirkman
Art by: Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn

Image Comics, 56 Pages

Review:

Generally, I like Robert Kirkman’s work. This didn’t do a damn thing for me though and it really just felt like some outdated ’90s edgy boi bullshit.

So it’s violent. In fact, super violent. There are characters that act like generic one-dimensional badasses. There’s apparently a cloning story mixed in. And then there’s more super violence. This is like the wet dream of a twelve year-old from the ’90s. So I probably would’ve loved this when I was in middle school.

Other than that, there just isn’t much here.

To be fair, maybe I should give it more than two issues but I can’t. It was a strain trying to get through the second issue. I accepted the first issue and didn’t hate it but it’s because I thought that it would be followed up with some interesting context, it didn’t. And really, I don’t want to keep waiting around to see if it eventually does. My time is precious and so is my money. I buy a lot of comics but I want to buy stuff I like. Stuff that isn’t going to end up being a waste of my funds and my time.

You may like this if you’re a pre-teen, live in 1992 and The Savage Dragon isn’t violent enough and mindless enough for you. In 2018 and as an adult, I expect more from my comics. Sure, I can escape into mindless fun but this completely lacked the fun.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: other bad, super violent, edgy boi bullshit from the ’90s.

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead (2015- )

Original Run: August 23rd, 2015 – current
Created by: Robert Kirkman, Dave Erickson
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
Music by: Atticus Ross, Paul Haslinger, Danny Bessi, Saunder Jurriaans
Cast: Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Mercedes Mason, Lorenzo James Henrie, Rubén Blades, Colman Domingo, Michelle Ang, Danay García, Daniel Sharman, Sam Underwood, Dayton Callie, Lisandra Tena, Maggie Grace, Garret Dillahunt, Lennie James, Jenna Elfman

Square Head Pictures, Circle of Confusion, Skybound Entertainment, Valhalla Entertainment, AMC, 48 Episodes (so far), 43-65 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

The Walking Dead really didn’t need of a spinoff. But as these things go, when you’ve got a cash cow, you’ve got to milk it until the teets come off.

What made this spinoff intriguing, however, was that it started when the zombie outbreak started. In The Walking Dead, we follow Rick Grimes, as he wakes up from a coma and enters a zombie infested world, months after the outbreak. Fear the Walking Dead starts on any given normal day and then the shit hits the fan. The first season shows society crumbling and how the main characters respond to it.

That rookie season was good but a somewhat unsatisfying origin story for The Walking Dead world. But once the show moved beyond the initial chaos, it got more interesting.

The sophomore season was broken into two halves, like a typical season of The Walking Dead. This show would follow that formula going forward. And while that season was a bit rocky, it found it’s footing in the second half, once our characters got off of the boat they lived on for eight episodes.

Season three switched things up quite a bit and by this point, a lot of the main characters were already wiped out.

But season four, the current season, is where the show really reinvented itself in a bold way. By the time you get through the first half of the season, only one person from the pilot episode is still alive. Additionally, Morgan from The Walking Dead comes on the show, officially crossing over, connecting this show directly to the events of the more popular parent show.

The fourth season also brings in a bunch of new and interesting characters and to be honest, it’s a completely different animal than what Fear was when it started out.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this show, which I have also had with the regular Walking Dead series, but it’s moving in a really cool direction.

It’s hard to tell where this will end up but I find it to be the more enjoyable of the two shows, right now. But being that this is The Walking Dead, that could change at the drop of a hat.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The Walking DeadDeadwoodSons of Anarchy and Hell On Wheels.

 

TV Review: The Walking Dead (2010- )

Original Run: October 31st, 2010 – current
Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
Music by: Bear McCreary
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, David Morrissey, Melissa McBride, Scott Wilson, Michael Cudlitz, Emily Kinney, Chad L. Coleman, Lennie James, Sonequa Martin-Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Robin Lord Taylor, Alexandra Breckenridge, Austin Amelio, Khary Payton, Tom Payne, Katelyn Nacon, Steven Ogg, Pollyanna McIntosh, Corey Hawkins, Audrey Marie Anderson, Denise Crosby, Samantha Morton

Idiot Box Productions, Circle of Confusion, Skybound Entertainment, Valhalla Entertainment, AMC, 115 Episodes (so far), 42-67 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Do I even need to review The Walking Dead, at this point? Everyone in the world has seen it by now, right? Everyone already has their own opinion of it, yes?

Well, there are a lot of people that quit years ago and it seems like the ratings have been going down the last couple of seasons. Granted, it is still AMC’s biggest show and rakes in higher numbers than nearly anything else on cable but it’s been on for eight friggin’ seasons, which is a whole hell of a lot in this day and age where decent shows get cancelled all the time.

It’s hard to review the show for the fact that it has been on for so long and that it hasn’t been very consistent from season to season. But at least the show mixes it up and tries new things, reinventing itself every 2-3 seasons. The gist of it is really the same but it’s done a decent job of evolving with the timeline in which the show is set.

However, it sort of ignores some of the real world threats that would be happening in a post-apocalyptic United States. Things that a simple comedy like The Last Man On Earth was smart enough to explore. Things like explosions at unattended nuclear power plants, spewing really bad shit into the air.

I have stuck with this show through thick and thin because as cheesy as it sounds, you grow to know these characters as if they were real people and you care about their story, especially if you’ve toughed it out through the good and bad points of the show.

There have been moments during this show’s run that I thought about giving it up but there isn’t much else to do on a Sunday night and their eight episode half seasons are pretty quick to get through. If this show had 23 episodes a year like most programs, I couldn’t stay committed to it. Plus, there was that part of me that was just waiting for the war with Negan to start. That war wasn’t what I had hoped it would be but I was satisfied with how it wrapped up and am interested in what’s to come in the upcoming season, as there are a lot of changes and a time jump happening.

For the most part, The Walking Dead has been a good show. Sometimes it feels as if it has already ran its course but for whatever reason, I can’t seem to walk away from it like some others have. But that could change with Rick, the main character, leaving the show soon.

In the end, The Walking Dead isn’t a show about zombies, it’s a show about exploring human nature and that’s more interesting than the undead.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Fear the Walking DeadDeadwood and Hell On Wheels.

Comic Review: Invincible, Vol. 2: Eight is Enough

Published: May 10th, 2004
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Cory Walker

Image Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

I’ve only read the volume before this one, so my knowledge of the broader Invincible universe isn’t very deep.

So far, I like what I’ve read, including this volume, which covers the second story arc in the series. Where the first volume is essentially the origin and backstory of the character and his family, this one serves to kill off the already established heroes of the main characters’ universe, leaving a gap for new heroes to grow up and enter the fray.

The old heroes, who we barely meet before they are murdered, are parodies of Justice League characters. They’re not too imaginative or exciting but I guess it was to symbolize a killing off of old heroes (in this case, a shot across the bow at DC Comics), in an effort to establish younger and more hip characters (a.k.a. Image Comics new breed of superhero titles that were coming out at the time). There is even a few shots thrown at Marvel, most notably in the form of the ridiculous villain Bi-Plane, who is a parody of the Spider-Man villain Vulture.

I do love the lightheartedness of this series. It is reminiscent of classic Spider-Man in the best way possible and also has a sort of charm similar to classic Superman. I talked about the similarities to both those long running series in the last review though.

This chapter also sees the disbanding of the teen superhero team that Invincible got pulled into in the previous story arc. It may feel too early in the series’ existence to start changing some things but I feel like it is in a state of flux with this chapter, as Robert Kirkman was still trying to find the proper footing for the series and was refining the details a bit.

Not a whole lot happens, other than the changes I’ve discussed already. But we do get to see cameos from the Savage Dragon, Super Patriot and Shadowhawk, who have all been a part of Image Comics since it launched in 1992.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The Invincible collected editions that follow this one.

Comic Review: Invincible, Vol. 1: Family Matters

Published: December 12th, 2006
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Cory Walker

Image Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

I have heard great things about Invincible for several years. I have also loved Roberet Kirkman’s work on The Walking Dead, his most famous creation. So I figured that delving into Kirkman’s lighter side was long overdue.

I have often times heard of the character of Invincible as being a mixture of Superman’s powers with the personality of Spider-Man. I guess that’s pretty accurate, after having read his first story arc. His father is actually more of a Superman type of hero and then Invincible hits puberty and develops similar powers albeit not yet as strong as his father’s.

This story serves as the origin tale for Invincible and his family. It also goes to setup his super powered team of teens that are trying to keep their town free of scum and villainy.

There isn’t enough to the story here to get the full feeling of the series. It’s a good place to start, obviously, and it has made me interested in reading through the first few volumes to see if it is a series I want to stick with over the long haul. I guess the only real negative is that it feels like too much of a rehash of things I’ve read elsewhere and for years. I hope that Kirkman takes this series in a direction that allows it to stand out and not just be a hybrid of Superman and Spider-Man while retreading all too familiar territory. I hope that the comic finds its own voice, even if it is a solid homage to its influences, thus far.

Invincible has the makings of something interesting and Kirkman is certainly an accomplished writer. If he can make zombie stories interesting for over ten years, I’m sure he can do the same for a young hero.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Invincible collected editions that follow this one.

TV Review: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics (2017- )

Release Date: November 12th, 2017 – current
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: various

AMC, 6 Episodes (so far), 43 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Since Robert Kirkman can do whatever the hell he wants at AMC, considering that The Walking Dead is such a giant money generator, he gave us this show.

I’m pretty happy with the result though because there really hasn’t been a lot of comic book documentaries in the mainstream. This show serves to tell some of the most important stories in the long history of that industry.

Kirkman isn’t on screen for this series and each episode seems to be made by different people but generally, it all has a cohesive style and each episode is pretty interesting.

So far, there is just a single season comprised of six episodes. These episodes cover the formation of Marvel and the relationship of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the creation of Wonder Woman, the legal battles of the rights to Superman, how comic books responded to 9/11, the history of Milestone Comics and lastly, the history of Image Comics.

Each episode is pretty solid and provides a lot of information that even I didn’t know about, even though I’ve known about the gist of all these stories. My favorite episode was the one about Milestone Comics because it is a story that is really important and hasn’t been told yet.

I hope that the first season did well enough to make a second season possible. I really enjoyed the show, loved the format and thought that it was marvelously produced and executed on screen.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Some of the more recent documentaries on comic books: The Image Revolution and Chris Claremont’s X-Men.