Comic Review: The Tomb of Dracula – The Complete Collection, Vol. 2

Published: October 3rd, 2018
Written by: Gerry Conway, Chris Claremont, Gary Friedrich, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman
Art by: Gene Colan, Ross Andru, John Buscema, Dick Giordano, Don Heck, Mike Ploog, Gil Kane (cover)
Based on: Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Marvel Comics, 512 Pages

Review:

Over the last few months, I’ve been reading a lot of the ’70s Marvel Comics stuff. I dabbled in some of these stories when I was a kid but they were before my time and weren’t as easy to get when I really started collecting comics circa 1990. Plus, my attention, at that time, was focused on superhero stuff, as well as G.I. Joe.

I enjoyed the first volume in this massive collections of The Tomb of Dracula, so naturally I wanted to check out this one too. In the end, I liked this one even more. I think a lot of that has to do with this taking place more in the modern world, which allowed Marvel’s incarnation of Dracula to interact with some of Marvel’s famous superheroes.

In this collection we get to see Dracula meet Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night and Marvel’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster. We also get a small cameo by the Human Torch, as well as the debut of Dracula’s daughter, Lilith. This even had a swashbuckling tale in it.

Now this had a ton of different writers and artists, as it bounces around to different titles that featured Dracula, at the time. Despite this, the book feels consistent, which is a testament to how great Marvel’s editorial was in the ’70s. As far as that company has fallen in recent years, they wouldn’t be able to pull this feat off in 2020.

Most of the stories here were good, it was an energetic read with great art by several legends and it is a fantastic example of ’70s Marvel horror at its finest.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Marvel Dracula stories, as well as other ’70s Marvel horror titles.

Film Review: The Rocketeer (1991)

Also known as: The Adventures of the Rocketeer (Australia)
Release Date: June 19th, 1991 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, William Dear
Based on: The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens
Music by: James Horner
Cast: Bill Campbell, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, Terry O’Quinn, Ed Lauter, James Handy, Jon Polito, William Sanderson, Margo Martindale, Clint Howard, Melora Hardin, Tiny Ron Taylor

Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners IV, 108 Minutes

Review:

“That son of a bitch will fly!” – Howard Hughes

It’s been close to three decades since I’ve seen The Rocketeer, as I saw it in the theater in 1991 and once on VHS just after that. I hadn’t seen it since but I have always had pretty fond memories of the film. Now that it’s on Disney+, I figured I’d revisit it.

The film is actually much better than I remembered and I’m surprised that it didn’t leave a big enough mark on me to inspire me to buy it over the last 29 or so years. But I feel like the things I appreciate about it now are mainly due to my age and the lack of imaginative filmmaking that closed out the 2010s.

It feels very much like a 1990ish live action Disney movie but it reminds me a lot of Dick Tracy because of the period it takes place in, as well as the Indiana Jones films due to the involvement of Nazis, as well as being full of adventure, action and very ’30s-’40s pulpy elements.

The film is actually based off of a comic book character and that character was created as an homage to the rocket-backpack heroes of the old serials like Commando Cody.

The Rocketeer greatly benefits from having a large, great cast. Many of these people I didn’t even realize were in this, as I saw this in a time where I probably wouldn’t have recognized many of them. The bulk of the acting duties, however, fall on Bill Campbell, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Connelly and Timothy Dalton. All four are pretty good in this and Connelly, who’s never not been beautiful, looks like an old school Hollywood starlet from the silver screen era.

I loved Dalton in this, as the villain who is one-part Nazi stooge and one-part Basil Rathbone. His role as the actor within the film was really neat and a cool idea for a bad guy. He’s slimy and vile but you also kind of feel for him, as he’s being forced into evil by the Nazis. But don’t get me wrong, he’s still a total bastard and a great one at that.

The special effects, for the most part, hold up well. The only shots that looked odd were kind of unavoidable, as this was made in a time where you could hide things on celluloid film. This wasn’t made for the digital HD era, so there are a few bits that look wonky in a way that they probably didn’t in 1991.

From memory, this film was kind of a dud, financially. It should have been the start of a franchise for Disney but it didn’t connect with a large enough audience and we only ever got this one film. When I was a kid, I was really looking forward to more of these, as well as more Dick Tracy. Part of me kind of hoped that they could’ve crossed over but none of my dreams for these films materialized.

If you’re going to cancel Disney+ because The Mandalorian is over, you might want to give this a watch first.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other early ’90s family action movies, most notably Dick Tracy.

Vids I Dig 189: Filmento: ‘Dead Man’s Chest’: How to Build the Perfect Plot

From Filmento’s YouTube description: Turns out Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is the original Avengers Infinity War, in more ways than one. But if there is a single thing that connects these two films the most, it’s the incredibly strong way they handle plot. In today’s family friendly episode of Film Perfection let’s return to the one and only Jack Sparrow (and not the Dead Men Tell No Tales impostor Jack Sparrow) and Pirates 2 to see what plot is exactly and how to handle it properly. And returning is all we can do, because looks like Pirates of the Caribbean 6 isn’t coming fellas/fellarettes.

Comic Review: Age of Conan: Valeria

Published: February 25th, 2020
Written by: Meredith Finch
Art by: Aneke
Based on: characters by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

Since Age of Conan: Bêlit didn’t tickle my fancy too much, earlier this year, I was a bit apprehensive about getting into this miniseries. Plus, it felt really similar as both main characters from both series are basically swashbuckling princesses that have mostly only been accessories in the larger Conan lore.

However, I’m all for both characters getting some focus and taking on bigger roles now that the Conan I.P. is back at Marvel. Plus, who doesn’t want more sword and sorcery comics? Well, probably a lot of people but a lot of people also buy Drake albums and tickets to Transformers movies.

Anyway, this was a better miniseries than the similar one starring Bêlit. It just had a better story, the heroine’s journey felt more organic with real struggle while she was searching for her own sense of worth. Plus, this had better art.

I wouldn’t say that either Age of Conan miniseries has been as good as the two regular Conan books Marvel’s been putting out since the start of 2019 but they add more context to the bigger picture, which ultimately, is a good thing.

I wouldn’t say that this was a waste of time but it also isn’t a must read. It’s enjoyable if you don’t expect much, want some decent escapism and already have a love for the Conan universe.

If these miniseries have been attempts at trying to attract girls to sword and sorcery comics, I doubt that these are capable of doing that. Especially when any sword and sorcery female character will never outshine Red Sonja, regardless of who her publisher is.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see Marvel try to develop these ladies into something better, along with Dark Agnes, who they have added to a different Conan book just this month.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Age of Conan: Bêlit and other recent Marvel Conan comics.

Comic Review: Age of Conan: Bêlit, Queen of the Black Coast

Published: September 18th, 2019
Written by: Tini Howard
Art by: Kate Niemczyk, Sana Takeda (cover)
Based on: characters by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 111 Pages

Review:

It’s actually been years since I’ve thought about Bêlit. However, I did remember her from the old Marvel Conan comics. She wasn’t as memorable to me as Red Sonja or Valeria but she did go on some grand adventures with Conan.

This series re-establishes her in the Marvel Conan mythos, which I guess is the regular Marvel universe now, considering Conan has now had multiple crossovers with other Marvel characters.

I’m assuming this series was made in order to set Bêlit up to re-enter Conan’s life. I’m also assuming that the same is true for Valeria as she was also given her own Age of Conan miniseries.

So since I’ve been enjoying the Conan comics since Marvel got the character back in January, seeing that universe expand is kind of cool.

That being said, this comic started out pretty strong but it kind of just limped along after the introduction to Bêlit.

The plot itself isn’t bad but the comic tries to cover a large portion of Bêlit’s life in just five issues.

What I had a problem with though was how certain things in the comic are prioritized. When something happens and you would traditionally expect a massive action scene, the shit is resolved almost instantly so that characters can go on and bicker with Bêlit while this self-proclaimed queen talks about how she’s the best at everything.

Not to be that guy but Bêlit is written like a disposable Mary Sue character. There are moments where her character starts to develop or we see her being challenged by something and it is just kind of brushed aside or dealt with like it wasn’t a big deal to begin with.

Every time something happened in the story that made me go, “Oh, okay… here we go!” I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me.

This was a pretty boring comic that gave glimmers of hope that it was going somewhere badass but it never did. And if I’m being honest, anything remotely associated with Conan should always be badass.

Additionally, the art was pretty weak and doesn’t live up to the caliber of art that should be associated with a Conan comic.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: Age of Conan: Valeria and other recent Marvel Conan comics.

Video Game Review: The Goonies II (NES)

After recently playing through the first Goonies game for the original Nintendo, I wanted to revisit Goonies II, which I thought was the only Goonies game when I was a kid. I just assumed the title implied that the game was a direct sequel to the movie, since it had a different plot altogether.

This should have been a better game than its predecessor and it had a lot of new additions that certainly gave it more potential. However, it’s bogged down by some things that made me enjoy it less.

To start, the game is literally a f’n maze! While it’s easy to work through as you progress to new areas, it becomes a bit of a clusterfuck when you are forced to backtrack to previous locations to revisit certain rooms you couldn’t access until getting specific items later in the game. While this is something that is common in video games, they could’ve made it easier to return to previous areas instead of trying to remember your way back through the overly complex level design.

Also, the graphics seem like a step down. They aren’t too dissimilar from the previous Goonies game so maybe it is the weird color choices that bother me like Mikey having hot pink pants and hair.

Other than all that, this is still a fun game to play and there is a lot to explore.

I kind of wish that this would’ve spawned a video game series that still released stuff on later consoles because these games had the makings of a cool franchise that sadly, didn’t grow beyond this entry.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the first Goonies game for the NES.

Video Game Review: The Goonies (NES)

In the late ’80s, my friends and I used to play the original Nintendo game Goonies II. As far as I knew, it was the only game and it was titled that because it was supposed to serve as a sequel to the film.

It wasn’t until years later that I found out that there was actually a Goonies I that was released in Japan. And it is mostly tied to the plot of the movie, even though you have to rescue all the other Goonies from the Fratellis, as opposed to all the Goonies just having to evade them on their way to One Eyed Willie’s treasure.

This is a much shorter and straightforward video game than its sequel. You simply work your way through six different levels: one is the Fratellis’ restaurant, four are caves and the last level is One Eyed Willie’s ship. In each level, you look for keys and other items but your primary goal is to rescue whichever Goonie is being held captive there.

The level designs are pretty good, even if the game is a bit confusing and easy to get turned around in. It all sort of clicks after you’ve been playing it for a bit though. But each level is timed, so if you don’t hit all your objectives and exit the locked door, you die.

This is mostly a pretty fun game that doesn’t take much time to master or really, much time to beat. The timer, if you get yourself lost, is the only real enemy, as everything else in the game isn’t too hard to deal with.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Goonies II for the NES.