Archive for Marvel

Cold Cuppa: Twelve Gems

Posted in Cold Cuppa, Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/06/2018 by Kevin Entrekin

Listen: Ghost- “Helvetesfönster”

Hey crew. Sorry it has been awhile since we’ve boarded the ship. Been docked for a bit while some life changes have been rapidly evolving. We are now financed by a new shipping company. We also have set up shop in a new base camp. It’s nice to be on my own, but fellow space pirates Count Mecha and Rython being next door is very nice. Everything is sailing smooth, aside from the information sharing systems not working right yet. (In short: Started a new job in the heart of Memphis, got an apartment next to my friends, and trying to get the capitalist bloodsuckers at Xfinity to do their job has been a nightmare. Three months of paying them money, still have no Wi-Fi).

TWELVE GEMS by Lane Milburn. 2014. Published by Fantagraphics, $19.99. Adult Sci-Fi novel.

I’ve been wanting to read Twelve Gems for a long time now. The first time I saw the cover, it spoke to my soul. Thankfully, the story behind the cover also lived up to my hopes.

Twelve Gems is the space-opera story of three space heroes searching for the fabled Twelve Gems of Power. The heroes: A deadly warrior named Venus; The brawling, fugitive alien Furz; and the brilliant technician canine Dogstar are recruited by Dr. Z to find the stones. Danger and adventure awaits around every corner for the three adventurers as they begin to learn more about the stones and Dr. Z’s fascination with them.

Twelve Gems is panel-to-panel packed with 80’s B-reel action (hint: read this blaring some metal and rock music). This book feels like something a friend in high school works on in science class instead of conforming to the educational system. And it turns out that friend is crafting an amazing sci-fi adventure and you’re in on this secret, fantastical thing. The black-and-white sketch style Milburn uses in this book feels like it could easily be a cheap Bic drawn on college-ruled paper, and it’s just gorgeous.

As I already said, the action is nearly non-stop, but it still has a solid plot with equally strong characters. One that flows seamlessly with the action elements. The way Milburn lays out his panels, and uses entire one and two page spreads to progress the story, is perfect. He packs so much imagery and dialogue into each page.

I’m now annoyed that there isn’t more love for this book in general. I personally feel it needs to be talked about among the comic community. And Lane Milburn needs to be funded to make some kind of sequel or spiritual successor to Twelve Gems.

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #20 by Jason Aaron (Wr) & Jason Latour (A). 2018. Published by Image Comics, $3.99. Adult Southern Crime.

I have written about my love of this series here in the past. I ended up deleting the article because it was a boring and generally poor write-up. But my love for this southern tale is unchanged. It’s probably the title I’m most excited to see in my pull list. 1) Because it’s so good, and 2) you get a new issue about every three months (if you’re lucky).

I don’t want to get too much into the story here, at the risk of spoiling anything. I don’t normally care about “spoilers”, but this is a special and dense web that should be experienced with virgin knowledge. The basic story revolves around a revered high school football coach in Craw County, Alabama who is in a world of trouble. Both on the field and with his criminal businesses. How will Coach Boss get out of this jackpot?

Unfortunately, this is the first issue in the series that leaves a bitter taste. There’s nothing wrong with Latour’s art or Aaron’s writing. But, this issue felt like the climax of things that had been building since the first issue. Chickens should be coming home to roost. But then they don’t. What had been boiling under the surface simple subsides. The southern biblical justice that has been coming down throughout the series now shows mercy. Why?

This series could perfectly end here, and it sadly should. What a perfect moment to wrap up this saga in Craw County. But what we get instead is a forced attempt to extend the longevity of the series. I vehemently despise media that extends it natural story progression past expiration. Maybe it will be worth it in the long run? That is uncertain now. What is for certain is that for a series that felt very definite and dangerous, things are now feeling relatively safe and bloated.

DOMINO #1 by Gail Simone (Wr) & David Baldeon (A). 2018. Published by Marvel. $3.99. Parental Advisory, but very mild. Personal opinion: Suitable for Teens.

This book comes with a parental advisory warning on the cover. Which, while reading this book, kept me from enjoying it. Because I don’t particularly see why that warning is necessary. Because within the second page, our girl Domino lets loose a few expletives. Or, more notably, a bunch of %#@&ing maledicta symbols. Why? You’re hall pass is right on the cover. You can let you let loose a few naughty words. Maybe some blood and guts. But the most risqué thing in this issue is our hero in her undies.

Corporate obviously is where the Comics Code shenanigans come from, I wager. In fact, there were many times while going through this issue I could feel some executive drone with White-out making his own edits. The potential for entertainment is here, but Marvel stands in the way.

There is something of a heartbeat here. After this book had been scrubbed with Marvel bleach, Writer Gail Simone is able to breathe some life into the panels. Especially during the latter half of this issue, which is a party for Domino’s birthday. There are some genuinely nice emotions and even Wade Wilson stops by (Coincidence this book came out around the time of Deadpool 2? Nah).

The first half is forgettable. It’s the set up for the series, but it is nothing of substance. It’s an action set piece to familiarize the reader to the world and abilities of Domino. We’re also introduced to a mutant named Adelbert, who is maybe important to upcoming issues.

I’ll continue into issue two with a slice of optimism. I wasn’t initially won over at the beginning, but those few heartbeats in the final pages has me curious enough to check out more.


That’s it for now, crew. I got some interesting things lined up I think. Recently picked up an interesting haul of discount bin gems that I look forward to reading and sharing with you. Until then…

Also, here is a photo of the Ghost concert I got the privilege to see last week. This was my second time seeing them and it was a hell of a show.


Uncharted Territory: The Walmart Comic Rack

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

* Tuesday’s Gone- Metallica “My baby’s gone with the wind” RIP Sophie, my Baby Girl.


I hate going to Wal-Mart. There is a suffocating air as soon as you walk in the place. An air that reeks of artificial attitudes and a tension that feels like a brawl could break out for no reason at any moment. Unfortunately, the store is only a two-minute drive from home, so I have to brave the sanctified aisles of the mega cathedral of consumerism to acquire necessities.

While I hurriedly was trying to find the shortest check out line to purchase my sriracha and boxed quinoa, I saw something familiar, yet out-of-place: Comics. Not individual issues mind you, but packs of three relatively recent issues from Marvel and DC. They were inconspicuously stuffed between Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon cards and had a nice round price of a fiver on them. (Edit: this is a more recent photo of the display, where it is now directly marketed as Marvel/DC packs and the Marvel issues are now $10).


Maybe this isn’t anything new and I’ve just missed it. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, really. It’s a logical business stepping point for the Big Two to start selling books at… well, practically anywhere they can. Like when Piggly Wiggly had a random rack of comics next to a Pog vending machine when I was a kid (90’s kid trigger warning).

These comic packs are water-testers. I wager it won’t be long before people can go to their local mega store for Wednesday pick-ups. Yet another threat the local comic shops will have to weather.


Let’s dissect the bag I bought: I picked up the more mysterious packaging of the two, the Marvel pack (Which isn’t advertised as a marvel set as you can see from the scan above). It promised the possibilities of “randomly inserted Bronze, Silver, & Modern Age Keys”. A promise I suspected to be hollow and fruitless before ripping the package open.

I was surprised though when I did actually open it up, because I was expecting some stuff from a fifty-cent bin. Instead they were all three relatively recent Marvel issues: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02, Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01, and Hercules #02. The oldest issues (SW and Gwen) date back to only December 2015 and Hercules is as recent as March 2016.


  • Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01

I guess this was the “key” (gotta sneak in that insider comic lingo like “keys” to draw in the kiddos) first issue the promotion bubble was talking about.

I love Spider-Gwen. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s creation is one of the best things Marvel (had) came out with in a long time. But, this is the second number one Gwennie received in 2015. The first five issues were disrupted by the marketing series Secret Wars, and after a few months Spider-Gwen “continued” with a new name and first issue.

And even though this is a continuation, a lot of the uniqueness and fun of the original initial issues have been lost. Rodriguez’s art hasn’t changed and Latour’s writing isn’t much different. But the fun is gone, and I think I know who is responsible: Marvel.

Marvel is its own worst enemy when it comes to good series like this, Howard the Duck, and Spider-Woman. Secret Wars was forced into Gwen’s world and had to “start over”. Then only a few issues into Radioactive, Gwen was sidetracked once again with the Spider-Women arch (combining forces with Silk and Spider-Woman). That series was quite fun actually, but still off course. Then they saw that the cream was sweet and made a Gwenpool series, thus trying to milk a cow before it can produce..


  • Hercules #02

Hercules was the mystery issue in the pack. For starters, I had not heard of it. For a series that came out this year, it went unnoticed on the shelves at my local shop and I had not heard any praise for it. But this was issue two, and a second printing at that apparently. Maybe there was some thing more beyond the Liefeld-esque cover.

There wasn’t, sadly. I secretly wanted this to work and I can see what they were going for: The tarnished hero that must seek redemption. But it doesn’t really work when all I keep coming back to is thinking of Thor. That doesn’t usually matter to me, but the plot itself is predictable and the art forgettable, making the hero himself forgettable.


  • Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02

Shatter Empire was the most interesting issue, and the far superior read in comparison to Hercules (in comparison to issues I hadn’t read, as I already had read Spider-Gwen).

I don’t remember this 4-part series when it first came out among the slew of almost 20+ Star Wars titles Marvel released to promote The Force Awakens. Before reading I did a little research and learned it was about Poe Dameron’s parents essentially, which put me on edge that it was just a flaming fandom rubbish pile.

But the plot is handled by storied writer Greg Rucka, and it’s a strong plot. Although I had not read the first issue, it was easy to catch up and get involved in the story. It mainly focuses on Poe’s mother Shara Bey, who is an ace rebel pilot assigned to escort Princess Leia on a mission to Naboo, where things go awry.

I think what surprised me more than the good story was the art. The art by Marco Checchetto, Emilio Laiso, and Angel Unzueta is solid and beautifully colored. Especially the fight sequence at the beginning of the issue between AT-ATs and rebel squadrons.

While there are some weak/unnecessary plot like Princess Leia writing condolence letters, this isn’t just a random story thrown together to be a promo for The Force Awakens. Assuming the rest of the series is as strong as this issue, I am intrigued enough to pick up a trade and read the whole series.


So, let’s break down what you get with this mix bag of comics: You get three comics from Marvel. Considering they are all fairly recent releases, for five dollars (or now it seems ten) you get twelve dollars worth of comics (each book individually cost $3.99). That is a bargain from a technical standpoint. But you have to consider what you’re getting: A mystery pack of issues that aren’t fresh. Yeah, I got a nice surprise with the Shattered Empire issue but still, that issue is for a series that ended a year ago. These are overstock issues comic shops have in discount bins so they can make space.

I see these packs, again, only as market testers. Something chain stores use as a litmus test to see if selling comics is profitable for them. I also see them as underwhelming gifts a family member gets you because “you’re into comics and I saw this while checking out”. Instead, do yourself a favor and venture into a comic shop. Yeah, you’ll have to pay regular price like the rest of the nerds, but at least you get something you want to read. And you’ll also maybe find a whole new community to be apart of.


What Comics I’ve Been Reading- April, Part Two

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22/04/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

BlhyA5zIQAEJUj9.jpg large


comtomb-Tomb Raider #1. Series. Dark Horse Comics. Script by Gail Simone. Art by Nicolas Daniel Selma. No rating- personally suggest teen. $3.50.

I didn’t do much gaming last year. Or this year either. But one of the titles I was not going to miss was the Tomb Raider reboot. Short version of a review: One of my childhood mainstays got an amazing upgrade.

So I’m a bit disappointed when it comes to this first issue from Dark Horse. In some ways it’s a nice fan service to pick up shortly after where the game left off. But really it is just kind of boring and pretty much a standard first issue. But with most first issues, you want the reader to pick up the next issue. With this, I really didn’t.

The one real positive I take away from this is the art. I’ve never seen any of Nicolas Daniel Selma’s work before this, but I enjoyed it here. The colors are nice and vibrant as well.

comicjup-Jupiter’s Legacy #4. Series. Image Comics. Written by Mark Miller. Art by Frank Quitely. Rated M/ Mature. $2.99.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Mark Millar works, but I have really been enjoying his series Jupiter’s Legacy. It’s an alternate origins of supers and how we and they interact. Millar has wasted no time getting down to the nitty gritty in the first three chapters either.

This fourth chapter takes place several years after the game-changing events that take place in the third, in non-spoiler terms. This is probably the weakest chapter so far from Millar. Which is disappointing since Millar has taken a very lazy approach to releasing this title. Sometimes it is bi-monthly. Sometimes… whenever.

But for $2.99 for Frank Quitely’s beautiful and detailed art is a bargain, especially if you are into this series. If not, I’d encourage finding some copies, as I still find this one of the most interesting series out at the moment. Plus, who knows when the next one comes out?

comstarlight-Starlight #1. Series. Image Comics. Written by Mark Millar. Art by Goran Parlov. Rated M/ Mature. $2.99.

Maybe this somewhat newish series from Millar can explain a bit why it takes him forever to publish Jupiter’s Galaxy. Starlight is what Millar touts as the beginning of his “expanded Millarworld universe”.

Starlight is the tale of Duke Mcqueen, who forty years ago via wormhole became the saviour of the universe. Fast-forward to the present and Duke is a recent widower with some life questions. But it looks like the universe needs saving again and Duke is the man for the job.

There is not much originality here. Millar crafts a story that has been done before. A washed-up old man with a flaky and uncaring family. It’s like The Incredibles  and Gran Torino had a child. But somehow Millar makes you ignore all that and makes an intriguing, albeit short, first issue. I am mostly unfamiliar with Goran Parlov’s work but really enjoyed it. He has a mobius-esque landscapes with lovely pastel-tinted colors.

Ya’ got my attention again, Mark.

comsurf-Silver Surfer #1. Series. Marvel Comics. Written by Dan Slott. Art by Mike & Laura Allred. Rated T+ (teen). $3.99.

I will go anywhere Mike Allred takes me. If that means hitchin’ a ride with Silver Surfer, so be it.

I’m a bit rusty on the SS back story, but I knew enough to understand where this first issue picks up. Basically, Surfer was once Norrin Radd who turned into the Surfer when he begins helping Galactus consume planets. When he comes to Earth, The Fantastic Four helps him find his humanity and turns against Galactus.

Knowing that short bio is beneficial when picking this up, as it takes place sometime after. It’s a pretty standard first issue, but what really makes it worth picking up is the Allreds art. The colors and energy of the art takes some of the sting out of the four-dollar price tag. Worth picking up #2 (which comes out tomorrow) just to see where this goes.

And that’s about it for now. I also picked up Image’s first issue of Deadly Class, which came out in January. Wasn’t anything interesting really. A lot of borrowed, unoriginal ideas pasted together in one book. See you again in May, especially on Free Comic Book Day, May third. Keep reading, ya ginchy people.



What Comics I’ve Been Reading- April, Part One

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/04/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

BlhyA5zIQAEJUj9.jpg largeI don’t get down to the comic shop as much as I’d like. Mainly because the closest one is in Memphis. Which, in terms of math, is distance plus funds plus mags costing on average about $3 to $5 equals rare visits. I mainly keep up with the goings on in trade paperbacks and similar. But when I do decide to take the advice of Tom and Donna to treat myself, I’ve always gone to Comics & Collectibles on Popular Ave. I’ve never really had a reason to go anywhere else. It has a nice atmosphere, great staff, and all the comics and trades you could want.

Recently my friend Cody and I visited C&C and this is some of new(ish) stuff I picked up:

comroyals-The Royals: Masters of War #1 and #2. Six part series. Vertigo comics. Written by Rob Williams. Art by Simon Coleby. Suggested for Mature Readers. $2.99.

It is the Royal family as you have never seen them before. Throughout history, the royal families of the world have consisted of individuals with super powers. The more pure the bloodline, the stronger the powers. Which might explain that whole inbreeding bit. But during WW2 the royals agree to not use their powers… until British Prince Henry can no longer take sitting by and intervenes. While the morale of Britain is at its highest, the young Prince has broken the treaty and all the countries of the world take notice.

This story is quite an ingenious idea, one that I am surprised no one has thought of before. Ever since Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards, the idea of alternative history has never been quite the same. This work by Rob Williams is probably the first truly fun story to come out since the above mentioned film in any medium. Simon Coleby’s artwork is beautifully dark and has a sepia-tinge noir feel, which adds a necessary depth here. Having read the first two parts, I’m now really intrigued to see where William will take this story. Part three is now available in local comic shops as well, and this series is well worth looking into.

comempowEmpowered: Internal Medicine. Special one shot issue. Dark Horse Comics. Story by Adam Warren. Art by Brandon Graham (color) and Adam Warren (B&W). No rating- personally suggest older audience. $3.99.

Before this mag, I have never read any of the Empowered comics. I picked this up because of Brandon Graham. I have just recently become infatuated with Mr. Graham’s Gonzo graffiti-style of art and storytelling. He is one of my favorite artist working right now.

The great thing about this one-shot is you don’t really need to know anything about Empowered to enjoy the story. You get a pretty good idea about the character’s modus operandi and even get a crib sheet recap on the first page.

The mass of the story is by Graham, whose colors and art and puns are beautifully presented here. Graham is a brilliant pick for this female lead, as I believe few (male) artist represent strong women quite like him. He can pencil a voluptuous women in real-world dimensions and can make things sexy without making it demeaning to the character, which for some reason seems to be a difficulty for many. Mr. Warren’s manga-esque work here is in beautiful black and white. Together, these two make a fun and entertaining one-shot worthy of the $3.99 price tag.

I think what I come away with after reading this comic most of all is:

  1. I’m very interested in going back and looking at the Empowered trades now.
  2. I’d like to see Graham and Warren work together again.

comdoop– All-New Doop #1. Series. Marvel Comics. Written by Peter Milligan. Art by David Lafuente. Rated T+ (Personally, younger audience would be fine). $3.99.

I picked up this comic because of the Mike Allred (another favorite artist) cover. So I was a bit disappointed when I learned he actually only did the cover for this character he created years ago. The bright side though is that Allred’s wife Laura does the coloring here, which are some of the best you’ll find in a comic. Ultimately though, this first issue falls a bit flat. While it’s a standard first issue in many ways, the direction of where this story is going seems a bit aimless. It has its moments of zany fun and enjoyment, but I think it’s missing that one certain thing that really makes it interesting.

I plan on picking up the second issue when it comes out, but the little green X-Man really has to impress for me to keep picking up any further.

saga3-Saga, Volume 3. TPB collection of series #13-18. Image Comics. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Art by Fiona Staples. Rated M/Mature. $14.99.

Image Comics is my favorite comic publisher at the moment. They have amazing creator-owned mini-series like Brian Woods Mara and Grant Morrison’s Happy!. They also have ongoing series like Sex Criminals and Great Pacific. Or have you ever heard of The Walking Dead? Yeah, they do that too.

But I think the best representation of what Image has to offer is the vaughn/Staples work Saga. For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s rather simple. Marko is from Wreath. Alana is from Landfall. These two places have been at war with each other forever, but that doesn’t stop Marko and Alana from falling in love with each other. Eventually the two have a child, and both governments of each planet have no interest of letting the birth known to their citizens. The couple have to fight their way planet to planet against the like of bounty hunters and military officers. And worse of all, Marko’s parents.

Of all the now three collected story arcs in the series, I would say this is the weakest. Not to say that it isn’t great. The writing is still top-notch, adult, and witty. Vaughn’s art is still sharp and beautiful. And there is plenty of action and surprises to keep you entertained. But still this just doesn’t have the same bite or vigor. Only slightly though. Still worth picking up.

Part two should be on the way soon…



I Saw A Film Today… Thor: The Dark World

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 17/11/2013 by Kevin Entrekin

doalythorAs I look back on my review of Thor, and having re-watched it recently as well, I’ve come to realize I was very generous by giving the film a “See it!” pass. It is a really mediocre effort from Marvel in reality. It has an uneven plot, alright action, and sporadic pacing that makes it a rather lame flick. Granted, most of the special effects and casting are rather spot on, but not much else really delivers like other films offered in the so-called “phase one”. So expectations weren’t the highest going into it. To say I was surprised by the end result though would be an understatement.

Two years from where the first film left off, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been a busy little Asgardian prince. He and the Warrior Three have been restoring peace throughout the nine realms and after many battles, have accomplished their task. Time to clean up and head home, right?

Well, this is a Marvel film, so some city needs to be excessively destroyed. Why not London, where Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy (Kat Dennings), and the unhinged Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) are researching anomalies that are linked with the nine realms aligning. Then an ancient race of elves hellbent of destroying the realms begin attacking and all kinds of chaos breaks loose.

Much to my surprise, The Dark World may be one of my favorite films Marvel has made in the last few years. Sure, it is mostly mindless action and many times the plot is fairly predictable, but the film remains light enough to make a pleasantly entertaining film. Some of the side gags are a little unnecessary at times but ultimately they lend to the charm of the film.

The action sequences are nothing original here and at times are somewhat silly. Most are what you’ve come to expect in recent years, Slow motion moments of masculinity followed by Thor actually throwing the hammer down. The visual effects aren’t much different from any of the other either, but regardless they are very enjoyable to watch. Although I do suggest skipping it in 3-D. Much like 98% of the films released this year in the medium (Pacific Rim and World War Z are the exceptions), it is unnecessary and adds little to nothing to the experience.

The next two paragraphs may slip slightly into spoiler territory. So fairly thee warned.

One thing that I’ve come to find most annoying about Marvel releases in the last few years is the romanticizing of the villain, and the best example I can thing of is Loki. In the comics, Loki is evil. Plain, simple. Yet the common trend recently is to make fans more sympathetic towards the villain. Enough so that fandoms and other individuals can cheer for them and take their side. In this film, Loki dies… in the arms of his teary-eyed brother as he draws the final breath from his body. But then he appears at the end (shocker, I know), and the fandoms and fans rejoice, knowing that ridiculously adorable murderous trickster will continue doing the baddie game.

This subject of the modern role of heroes and villains was discussed extensively this weekend at a local comic con and there is a lot more to discuss. More so than this review can delve into. Maybe an article in the future can open up a discussion. Regardless, we’re moving on reluctantly.

The casting in the two Thor films are a pretty impressive choice. Chris Hemsworth is spot-on, giving a depth to this character that was missing from the previous film and The Avengers. On the opposite side, Tom Hiddleston is brilliant and crafty as Loki, which makes what I brought up in the previous paragraphs all the more annoying. Anthony Hopkins is enjoyable in a cheesy type of way. He’s half Shakespearean, half Games of Thrones. The supporting cast is great just as well. Maybe the greatest achievement of this film is giving each person more depth.

With all it’s minor falters, Thor: The Dark World delivers a Marvel film in the best possible way.

* Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content. 112 minutes. Directed by Alan Taylor (Palookaville, Kill the Poor).

** Poster by Doaly.

*** Thanks to mi hombre Cody for seeing this with me.



I Saw A Film Today… The Wolverine

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03/08/2013 by Kevin Entrekin

TheWolverine_posterLogan “The Wolverine” has had a hard few years at the cinema. Really, as much as I liked the earlier X-Men films directed by Bryan Singer, the character has had a rather pathetic run. I think one of the real crutches of X-Men is that too much weight is put on his shoulders. Those films are more about him and his search for identity than they really are about the team in general, which is a bit disappointing. I hoped Origins would have given some freedom to the character, but instead I’d rather forget it exist. Can Hugh Jackman redeem this side of the X-Men story?

Weapon X (Jackman) can’t sleep well. He is still plagued by the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and spends much of his time in the Alaskan wilderness living off the land. But after being tracked down by a dying Japanese business mogul named Yashida wishing to say goodbye to him, he decides to ditch the caveman look and pay his respects.

But when the old man offers him the gift of mortality, Logan turns him down and plans on leaving Japan as soon as possible. Regardless, Logan is drawn into more than he bargained for when he must protect the granddaughter of the now dead Yashida, Mariko (Tao Okamoto).

To call The Wolverine a work of redemption for the miseries comic fans had to endure during X3 and Wolverine: Origins is in my opinion a rather fair description. Yes, it has it’s share of troubles, such as a at-times stagnant story and a weak final act, but it is a truly entertaining flick, which isn’t something you could say about the two above-mentioned films.

The action sequences were the best aspect here. The scene, albeit sadly short, atop a speeding bullet train was one of the most entertaining scenes I’ve seen all summer. The script, sadly, was the weakest. It was mediocre writing at best, with a story structure that has been recycled non-stop since the 90’s, leading to a tired and well-seen final act. Why Marvel wouldn’t stick with people who have been involved with the studio before is beyond me.

Hugh Jackman has said that he will continue being the Wolverine as long as he is allowed to. Let us hope that is a long time before he decides to hang up the wife-beater. It would be hard to think of anyone else in the role legitimately, which I don’t say often. He is believable in a role that could easily turn mickey or take the piss. He brings intensity, even in the weakest moments.

As for the rest of the cast, they are more or less effective as you’d expect from a Marvel cast. Both main female leads, Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima, are genuinely interesting and not in the film because some studio executives decided “we need hot Asian foxes… make one a bit punky”. It’s actually a bit surprising how well they both are performing considering their limited experience in the field. Sadly, the villain here, Viper, was a bit disappointing.

The Wolverine is a refresher in a series of films that has had it’s up and downs. And I’m interested to see how this film will mix with the forthcoming Days of Future Past and the possible X4.

Verdict: See it!

*Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.

**Thanks to my friend Cody for seeing this with me.

I Saw A Film Today… Iron Man 3

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/05/2013 by Kevin Entrekin

ironman3Shane Black, the director of Iron Man 3, is also the director of one of my favorite films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It stars a then nearly unemployable Robert Downey Jr. The rest of the cast, including Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan, are just as brilliant. It’s a devilishly clever film as well, a melting pot of genres ranging from noir, satire, and intelligent humor about an actor forced into a pulp fiction crime during yule tide Los Angeles with an old flame and a gay P.I. If you have the time, you should check it out. It’s quite brilliant.

Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) can’t sleep. Ever since the Avengers fought aliens in New York, all of which takes place in a little film no one saw, Tony has been substituting nocturnal slumber with tinkering, making improvement after improvement to the Iron Main suit. This leaves him with a strained relationship with Pepper (Gweneth Paltrow), little knowledge of the outside world, and panic attacks.

When he does take time to check the news, it’s not good. A terrorist going by the name Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is planting untraceable bombs around the states and making threats to the President. Which kind of brings up an interesting point: Where are the Avengers? Or SHIELD, for that matter. A terrorist is making threats to the country, and Hawkeye and Black Widow are too busy to do a security detail for the Pres? I know they all are off doing their “own thing”, but are you telling me Steve Rogers is too busy to throw a few punches for his beloved ‘Murica? Just a thought. Okay, back on topic.

But when Tony bites off a bit more than he can chew, his world quickly crumbles around him. Can he muster up enough strength to save everything he loves?

This installment of the Iron Man tale is the best so far. I was skeptical a bit if Black could produce a great film on a blockbuster format, and happily I have been proven wrong. His unique brand of comedic yet serious storytelling fits brilliantly in the world of Tony Stark. The balance is flawless between the two opposing forces of comedy and tragedy, which should be the benchmark of any future Marvel flick. That’s one of the few flaws of the Marvel films: they are a little too comedic at times, even in action scenarios.

This is more of a rediscovery film for Stark. Not a lot of actual suiting-up action here. In fact, quite the opposite with the use of an drone-esque Mark suit. Which brings up the topic of The Iron Legion’s presence in this film. During the climatic final battle scene, which I ultimately found cluttered, there are more than 40 of these Mark suit flying unmanned and fighting enemies. Which is a bit frightening if you think about it. Maybe Black is subtly making a statement about The U.S.’s policies of drone strikes around the world and the use of drones within the country itself in the last couple of years. Or at least this is what kept crossing my mind.

I didn’t see 3 in 3-D. So I can’t really tell you if you should skip the extra fee for the standard edition. But I don’t really see what 3-D would have added here, much like in The Avengers. Sure, there is a lot of action where things are flying everywhere but it wasn’t utilized very well in the previously mentioned film either. And it should be noted that this film wasn’t filmed in 3-D, but converted in post-production. My guess: save some cash and see it in good ole’ standard format.

Robert Downey Jr. was born for the role of Tony Stark, that much has been established since the first film. But this is the first time you really get an in-depth look at the man behind the mask. You see Tony at his lowest and most open and just how resilient this man is, which is exactly what I hoped Black would bring to the table. Downey shows his whit, his emotion, his charisma, and concern, sometimes all at once.

The supporting cast is equally great. Gweneth Paltrow is just lovely here as the strong Pepper Potts. I don’t really understand why this woman gets so much flak from chubby bloggers. She’s a good actress and god forbid she suggest you try eating alternative and better foods, Chubs. Don Cheadle is a fun character and provides a good sidekick/comic relief throughout. Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley make an interesting duo as Mandarin. They both have great performances, but it’s a bit disappointing with how the whole Mandarin situation is handled. To make the arch-nemesis of Iron Man such a joke is a bit insulting. Maybe there is more to Kingsley’s character than meets the eye. We’ll see I guess.

Shane Black did something with this third installment which was needed: He gave Tony Stark humility. He made him something more than the rich wise-cracker that most have come to love. You get to understand that the flamboyance is merely a show, truly.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. 130 minutes. Directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

** Poster by Midnight Marauder.

*** Thanks to my friend Cody for seeing this film with me.