Comic Review: The Mighty Thor: The Eternals Saga, Vol. 1

Published: 1978 – 1980
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Walt Simonson

Marvel Comics, 203 Pages

Review:

After reading Jack Kirby’s The Eternals and it sort of ending abruptly, I had to see where the story picked up. Well, the Eternals and their story shifted over to the regular Thor title where we got to see the most famous Asgardian and his realm mix it up with the Eternals, the Deviants and the Celestials.

I’ve got to say, merging these two pockets of the Marvel universe into one big story that stretched over twenty issues was a really natural fit and a very cool way to up the ante and bring the Eternals into the larger Marvel canon.

Now Jack Kirby wasn’t working on the continuation of the Eternals story once it moved on into the pages of The Mighty Thor but Roy Thomas does a fine job with the story and Walt Simonson’s art felt like a natural extension of what Kirby established.

This is true to the source material that Kirby established and I loved reading this as much as I did the original Eternals title.

Overall, this is an incredibly exciting epic that merges Norse mythology with the cosmic Kirby style in a way that feels seamless and fills the void I felt after The Eternals came to its end.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Jack Kirby’s The Eternals, which is set before this big saga.

Film Review: Fire & Ice (1983)

Release Date: March 25th, 1983 (Germany)
Directed by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas
Music by: William Kraft
Cast: Susan Tyrrell, Maggie Roswell, William Ostrander, Stephen Mendel, Steve Sandor

Polyc International BV, Producers Sales Organization, 20th Century Fox, 81 Minutes

Review:

“Next time you present me with one of your little sluts, Mother dear… I’ll squash you like a bug.” – Nekron

I have a funny story about this film. I saw it when I was probably about four or five when my aunt told my uncle to take my cousins and I to a movie. However, she said it had to be a cartoon because he always took us to see movies he wanted to see, which were usually violent action films. So my uncle took us to this and while it was rated PG by 1983 standards (before PG-13 was even a thing), it certainly wasn’t a kids’ cartoon due to its level of violence and barely clothed voluptuous women.

Anyway, I thought it was cool as hell as a young kid and since I hadn’t seen it since the ’80s, I thought that revisiting it was long overdue.

Luckily, Fire & Ice is still a lot of fun. It has held up tremendously well and it has that early ’80s sword and sorcery spirit. Plus, the visual style is incredible.

What’s really interesting, and it wasn’t something I knew about or would have cared about as a kid, is that the film was made with rotoscoping. What that means, is that live action actors were filmed and then those frames were then traced over for the animation. This early ’80s rotoscoping isn’t as clean as the technique is in more modern films like A Scanner Darkly but it still gives fluid movement and realistic motion.

I also love the character design and the way the fantasy world was drawn. The ape men look great, the monsters are cool, especially the giant octopus, and the rotoscoped characters just fit naturally with the painted landscapes.

The story is also entertaining and what’s really cool about it, is that it was written by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, two guys that had previously written Conan comic stories for Marvel. For fans of classic Marvel Conan, you will see parallels to those tales. It’s also worth noting that Peter Chung, the guy who would later create Æon Flux, was an artist on this picture.

Fire & Ice is imaginative and badass. It’s a cool world and a great looking film. I heard a few years ago that Robert Rodriguez was trying to make a live action adaptation of this and frankly, I hope that he does. This is a world that could and should be explored more. Maybe a live action resurrection will help turn Fire & Ice into more than some forgotten ’80s sword and sorcery cartoon. There’s a good story here with really cool characters.

Hell, maybe a comic book company can get the publishing rights and put out The Further Adventures of Darkwolf because he is one of the coolest barbarian heroes of all-time.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other early ’80s sword and sorcery movies, as well as the animated films Wizards, The Lord of the Rings from 1978 and Starchaser: The Legend of Orin.

Comic Review: Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

Published: 1971-1972
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Neal Adams, John Buscema, Sal Buscema

Marvel Comics, 205 Pages

Review:

I never read the original Kree/Skrull War storyline but I’ve heard it referenced my entire life. But with it being free on Comixology and with my desire to read a lot of the major old school comic book milestones, I had to finally give this a read.

So if I’m being honest, this really is a mixed bag.

Now when this is good, it’s damn good. However, the middle act of this large story feels like it gets off track before it all comes back together for the big finale, which is a space battle between two warring alien races and members of the Avengers team.

This story is at its best when both Ronan the Accuser and Annihilus are front and center. Other than that, it deals with the newer Avengers team screwing up and the original team having to come back and disband them. Ultimately, this leads to the newer Avengers redeeming themselves and it also showcases Rick Jones, a man without any powers, as a brave, courageous badass. Never mind that Ronan nearly slaps him to smithereens at one point though.

The only weak thing about this story besides the middle act, is that it was probably too drawn out. In fact, most of that middle act should have been whittled down. If that was fixed, this would have had better pacing and it would have been much, much better overall.

I really loved seeing old school Ronan and Annihilus though. Man, they’re such good villains when used correctly and not written as fodder for heroes. Most modern comic book fans probably don’t know how scary it was to see either of these guys show up, back in the day. Annihilus, especially, was a terrifying enemy.

Lastly, I have to mention that this was just great to look at. The art of Neal Adams, John Buscema and Sal Buscema was ’70s Marvel perfection.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’70s Marvel milestone events.

Film Review: Conan the Destroyer (1984)

Also known as: Conan II, Conan: King of Thieves (working titles)
Release Date: June 29th, 1984
Directed by: Richard Fleischer
Written by: Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter, Olivia d’Abo, Sarah Douglas, Andre the Giant, Pat Roach

Dino De Laurentiis Corporation, Universal Pictures, 101 Minutes

Review:

“How do you attract a man? What I mean is, suppose you set your heart on somebody. What would you do to get him?” – Princess Jehnna, “Grab him! And take him!” – Zula

I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person that prefers this film to its predecessor, Conan the Barbarian. That being said, this is still an enjoyable flick that’s pretty cool to revisit once or twice a decade.

The Conan character is cool and almost everything he’s been in has been good. This film fails to live up to the one before it but sequels rarely do. That doesn’t make it bad, it’s just a movie that was really lacking in overall quality and intensity because the studio realized that this character had young fans and thus, we got a PG movie instead of something with a solid R.

The special effects were a mixed bag. Some of it looked pretty bad but certain things, even if not spectacular, still had an enchanting allure about them. For instance, when the ghost-like dragon steals the princess, it’s a very dated looking effect but it has a real dreamlike quality to it that just works. Also, even though the mirror room sequence was shot under too many lights, it still felt otherworldly and mesmerizing.

The monster effects weren’t very good and I think having a bunch of bizarre creatures in this, sort of dragged down the rest of the movie. The picture tried to be more creative and ambitious than the first one, where the only real creature was a giant snake, but all the monsters looked rubbery, clunky and not very inspiring.

Also, the story is a mess. I’ve seen this film at least a half dozen times and I still don’t know what the hell is going on in half of the scenes. I feel like a lot of context and exposition was left on the cutting room floor.

What makes this film work for me though, is the cast. I pretty much like everyone in this film and the chemistry between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Grace Jones is stupendous. I wish they had done more movies together when they were both in the prime of their careers.

Tracey Walter was good in the film; he’s a character actor that popped up in a lot of stuff in the ’80s and ’90s. I also enjoyed Sarah Douglas, who I wish was in more movies back in the day. Olivia d’Abo did a decent job for this being her first movie. I think the only weak person in the main cast was basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, who was never much of an actor but at least he gave it a shot.

This is directed by Richard Fleischer, who would also helm Red Sonja, a year later. He had a really interesting career, as he directed so many different styles and genres of film. He also directed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Soylent Green, Fantastic Voyage, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Doctor Dolittle, Mandingo, Amityville 3-D, the 1980 version of The Jazz Singer and lots of classic film-noir pictures.

Basil Poledouris returned to score the movie but this one isn’t as memorable as the first film’s iconic music. This film’s theme isn’t as powerful and just lacks the extra oomph that Conan the Barbarian had.

If you enjoy the Conan franchise, you’ll probably enjoy this movie. I still feel compelled to revisit it from time to time and I’m always glad when I do.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Conan the Barbarian, the Conan the Barbarian remake, Red Sonja and the first Beastmaster.