Comic Review: Rambo 3.5

Published: 2010
Written by: Jim Rugg
Art by: Jim Rugg
Based on: characters by David Morrell

Jim Rugg Art, 32 Pages

Review:

I’ve wanted to read this since finding out about it on one of Cartoonist Kayfabe’s videos. And since I already own and read three bootleg comics about Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra, I figured that I’d enjoy this too.

Unfortunately, I don’t own this, yet. But Jim Rugg does have it up to read on his website for those that want to give it a read.

The story tries to answer the question about how John Rambo might have handled the events of 9/11, especially after he helped the Afghan rebels in Rambo III.

The comic focuses on George W. Bush and John Rambo, as the two form a bond and team up to fight the terrorists. There is a plot twist, however, but I won’t ruin it.

Overall, the comic was amusing and I enjoyed it. It’s pretty cheeky towards Bush and his handling of the situation but I’m not a snowflake and I’m pretty indifferent to the guy, anyway.

Some may like this, some may not. I tend to gravitate to bootleg and outlaw comics, especially unofficial sequels to movies I’m a fan of.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the Cobra II comics from Teddy Goldenberg.

Comic Review: The Death of Captain America, Vol. 1: The Death of the Dream

Published: June 11th, 2008
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting, Mike Perkins

Marvel Comics, 161 Pages

Review:

I was excited to read this after having recently read Ed Brubaker’s first three volumes in his Captain America run, as well as revisiting the Civil War event.

This story takes place immediately after Civil War and in the first issue of this collection, we see Cap arrive at the courthouse to stand trial only for him to be assassinated on the steps before entering.

What follows is a political thriller with a lot of twists, turns and curveballs. This story is also used to setup Bucky Barnes a.k.a. Winter Solider as the new gun-toting Captain America. While he doesn’t become the new Cap yet, this is the start of that interesting journey and intriguing era for the character.

The death of Cap happens so quick and once you get past that, this deals with the fallout from it and how it effects certain characters while also slowly revealing that something is very complicated with one of them. I don’t want to say too much for risk of spoiling a major plot twist.

I thought that this was pretty good but it doesn’t have a definitive ending. It’s left open ended, as this is the first of several parts collecting the larger saga around Cap’s death and Bucky’s evolution into the role of Cap’s replacement.

Brubaker once again wrote a compelling and interesting story with superb art by Steve Epting and Mike Perkins.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run.

Film Review: Order No. 27 (1986)

Also known as: Myung ryoung-027 ho (original title), Order 27 (alternative English title)
Release Date: 1986 (North Korea)
Directed by: Ki Mo Jung, Eung Suk Kim
Written by: Sang Uck Ri
Music by: Jin Yong Hwang
Cast: Sung Chol Cha, Yong Chol Choe, Pong Ho Han, Kwang Jo, Ha Chun Kim, Hye Son Kim, Jeong Woon Kim, Kun Sang Pak, Won Bok Ri

Korea February 8 Film Studio, Korean Film, 77 Minutes

Review:

I’d like to see as much North Korean cinema as possible but a lot of it doesn’t make it over to the United States in any sort of accessible way for obvious reasons.

Still, it’s interesting to see how they express themselves through art because of how secretive and controlled that fascist dictatorship is. And there’s no part of me that believes that this wasn’t 100 percent approved by the government but it is still interesting to see, especially in regards to this, a film about war that’s full of North Korean propaganda.

The summary found on IMDb shows just how propaganda filled this movie is:

A group of elite soldiers is sent across the border to South Korea to destroy a military base. The soldiers are well aware of the inherent suicide nature of their mission, but are happy to risk it all for the benefit of their Great Leader.

In fact, the film ends with the hero riding on the landing gear of an American helicopter as it explodes, fulfilling his suicide mission for his Great Leader, Kim Jong-il.

While it’s obvious that the film was made to fulfill one agenda, I can’t not look at it as an artistic body of work and judge it on its merits.

Unfortunately, it’s poorly made, poorly shot and employs really basic and pedestrian cinematography. As for the positives though, the actors seemed pretty good, despite the language barrier, and the martial arts fights were really well choreographed and actually made the film somewhat salvageable for those who like Eastern style martial arts cinema.

Even if it is a real stinker of a film, the people of North Korea don’t have a lot to compare this too and in their country, this could be their Bridge On the River Kwai.

This is a much more straightforward film than Pulgasari, which was a bonkers and insane fantasy kaiju movie. But, overall, I found it less enjoyable and kind of boring when people weren’t doing martial arts shit.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: other North Korean cinema but the only other film I’ve seen is Pulgasari.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 8

Published: May 19th, 2010
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Marshall Rogers, Ron Wagner, Rod Whigham
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 235 Pages

Review:

This is the collection that primarily features the original Cobra Civil War. As the original Cobra Commander has been killed and replaced by Fred VII, working with the Baroness, tensions rise and we see factions break off in an effort to gain control of the Cobra organization. Even G.I. Joe gets involved in an effort to sway the conflict into something that benefits them. Unfortunately, for the Joes, the end result isn’t the one they were hoping for and this story sees the death of Serpentor.

This volume also takes place in the very middle of the original Marvel run, as it is collected into fifteen volumes. The placement of this story wasn’t planned out to be in the middle from a long-term perspective but it kind of feels like it is in the right place, as the rest of the run is greatly effected and altered by what happened here.

Overall, this isn’t the best G.I. Joe story of Hama’s long run but it is the one I remember the most from my childhood. It’s a big event, the biggest in the franchise during its heyday, and it is mostly full of action, war and war strategy. I loved it when I was a kid because it was larger than life and the most epic story the G.I. Joe comic told. It featured a ton of characters and almost every important member of Cobra.

Apart from that, I really like the volumes that build towards this conflict better and it is hard to focus on story and character building when the majority of the pages deal with action and war. But, at the same time, this didn’t need to focus on world building, as Hama did a stupendous job of that before this book.

While this isn’t my favorite collection, it may be the most important as it gives closure to some things and sort of reinvents the wheel, giving the franchise more longevity and new territory to explore.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Film Review: The General (1926)

Also known as: The Engine Driver (original script title)
Release Date: December 25th, 1926 (El Paso premiere)
Directed by: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Written by: Al Boasberg, Clyde Buckman, Buster Keaton, Charles Henry Smith, Paul Gerard Smith
Based on: The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger
Music by: William P. Perry (1926), Carl Davis (1987), Robert Israel (1995), Baudime Jam (1999), Joe Hisaishi (2004), Timothy Brock (2005), Angelin Fonda (2017)
Cast: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack

Buster Keaton Productions, Joseph M. Schenck Productions, United Artists, 67 Minutes, 80 Minutes (1982 cut), 83 Minutes (1962 cut), 75 Minutes (2003 alternate cut)

Review:

“[to the recruiter who rejects him] If you lose this war, don’t blame me.” – Johnnie Gray

While I’ve reviewed several Charlie Chaplin films, as well as a few Harold Lloyd ones, I’m surprised that I haven’t reviewed any Buster Keaton pictures yet. Granted, I haven’t watched any in awhile but I’ve been itching to revisit The General, as I hadn’t seen it since my film studies class in high school, over two decades ago.

What I like about Keaton’s movies, especially this one, is the high emphasis on plot. He is a physical, slapstick comedian and he employs the style in his performances but he still makes a well plotted film that doesn’t mostly rely on his gags and his stunts.

The General is a great example of this and it is a true cinematic classic of its time.

What really stands out, at least to me, is the scope of the film. It feels large and epic when compared to other motion pictures that are similar. Silent comedies were typically filmed indoors and outside sets usually didn’t have a lot of scale. The General takes advantage of the environments it’s filmed in, especially during the iconic locomotive chase scenes.

Additionally, it has amazing cinematography with stellar shot framing, lighting and use of natural environmental texture, weather and color tinting.

It has a well structured, layered plot, which moves briskly and doesn’t get too hung up on staying in one place for too long or overdoing a gag.

I also really like the plot. It sees Keaton’s Johnnie Gray, a locomotive operator, get rejected by the love of his life because he won’t join the military and fight in the Civil War. As time goes on, she is taken hostage by Union raiders who steal his train. Propelled by the undying love in his heart for his woman and his train, Johnnie takes to the rails to hunt down the enemy and get his loves back.

The story then expands into different directions but it stays pretty focused on moving forward and it employs a level of character development that wasn’t common in 1920s pictures.

Keaton and Chaplin are often times compared and you have people that are either in one camp or the other. Despite similarities in their physical comedy, I think that their films are very different. I think that The General showcases their differences pretty well.

Also, unlike Chaplin’s films from the ’20s, this feels like a true blockbuster movie of its age.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other Buster Keaton films.

Video Game Review: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (NES)

I have never played this game, as it came out at the end of the original Nintendo era and I had moved on to Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it, anyway, as I was into better graphics, better sound and hadn’t had good experiences with other Indiana Jones games for the NES.

Playing it now, this is the best Indiana Jones game on the NES console. It’s actually kind of fun and it has better controls and overall mechanics than the other games.

Now the controls can still be wonky and frustrating but as bad as the other games were, this is actually a step up.

Additionally, there is more than one gameplay mode. You do the standard side scrolling action stuff but you also get to fly a plane and drive a motorcycle. There are also cool locations. I enjoyed the train level, as you punch and whip your way through baddies on a train moving through the European countryside.

For those familiar with the G.I. Joe games released on the NES, this has a similar gameplay style on most levels.

The game is rather difficult, however, especially some of the later boss battles, as the amount of damage you can take is pretty minimal.

Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised by the game and, for the most part, like it.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: the other NES Indiana Jones games, as well as the NES G.I. Joe titles.

Comic Review: Captain America: Red Menace

Published: June 15th, 2011
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting, Marcos Martin, Mike Perkins, Javier Pulido

Marvel Comics, 211 Pages

Review:

Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier story was damn solid. This immediate followup to it was even better. But sadly, this is all leading to the following story, the famous and divisive Death of Captain America.

In recent years, I’ve really liked the character of Sin, who is Red Skull’s daughter. This serves as her origin story and shows how her father viewed her, treated her and eventually, how Crossbones came along and broke her, bringing her closer to her destiny as Red Skull’s heir.

This also builds off of the Winter Soldier story, as we see Captain America still trying to reach out to his best friend and bring him back over to the light, fully.

Additionally, we get to see a strange version of Red Skull, who is emerging in a fairly intriguing way, setting up future stories.

This also teams Cap up with Union Jack and Spitfire, calling back to the Invaders, Cap’s team from World War II.

Overall, this is a great comic that is more political thriller than what superhero comics tend to be. It actually reminds me a lot of the tone of the Captain America: Winter Soldier film from 2014.

Ed Brubaker is a fantastic writer, as can be seen from my reviews of a lot of his work. He was stupendous in his handling of the Captain America title and this collection is no different. In fact, I consider it a high point and I look forward to continuing on beyond this, as I remember liking the series even after Cap died.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run.