Friday, September 30, 2011

Batman and Spider-Man (Retro)

I am curious about the Amazing Spider-Man movie, as it will be interesting to see how a new cast and director will handle the character differently from the Raimi/Maguire films.  It is a puzzling decision though that they are going back all the way to the origin again, as that ground was covered pretty thoroughly in the first movie.  The costume I am mixed on - while I am not crazy about the added pinstripes and metallic slippers, I like the new eye shape (closer to John Romita Sr., my favorite Spidey artist) and the use of actual web shooters.  I'm also very happy about the use of The Lizard as the villain, as we were teased with that possibility throughout the original trilogy with Curt Connors making small appearances.  Unfortunately set reports I've read sound like the design will be more Hulk-like rather than the lithe, lab-coat wearing visage from the comics.  I've never seen anything with Andrew Garfield, so I can't judge him just yet.  Time will tell whether this revitalizes the Spider-Man film franchise, but right now I am in the cautiously optimistic camp.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Batman and Sin City

Now here's a crossover I would like to see.  It's interesting to watch how Frank Miller's artistic style has changed over the years, from his earliest run on Daredevil, to The Dark Knight Returns and then to Sin City.  He has evolved from a more standard comic artist to a highly stylized master of light and shadow.  You could definitely see Miller's influence in the cinematic Sin City, probably the most faithful comic book movie to date.  I love how they kept it black and white, with splashes of color for impact, just like the comics.  The make up job on Mickey Rourke was amazing, it looked like Marv stepped right off of the comic page.  I hear that the long awaited sequel is finally beginning to move.  I hope it comes together because I would love to see some more of Miller's Sin City stories adapted to the big screen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Batman and She-Hulk

I mentioned in a recent post how I was not in favor of the over-proliferation of Hulk-like characters, as it diluted the concept.  She-Hulk, however I can give a pass to.  Turning strong and green due to Gamma radiation is where her similarities with he cousin end.  Jennifer Walters not only retains her intelligence upon Hulking out, she prefers life as a She-Hulk, which makes for a very different character from the tortured and cure seeking Bruce Banner.  I first really took notice of She Hulk as a team member of The Avengers and The Fantastic Four.  I enjoyed John Byrne's brief run on her second series that used the conceit that Jennifer Walters knew full well that she was a comic character, and was disappointed that that aspect of the character has bot stayed with her.  I also very much enjoyed the recent Dan Slott She-Hulk series, he was able to strike the nice mix of action and humor that suits her.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Batman and Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (Retro)

It was cool to see the Howling Commandos in action in the recent Captain America film.  It would have been nice to get Nick Fury in there, but since the Marvel movie-verse is using the Samuel L. Jackson Ultimates version, that wouldn't have worked with their timeline.  As much as I liked their inclusion, I wish that Dum Dum Dugan and the rest of the Howling Commandos had at least been referred to by name.  Hopefully a sequel will have some WWII scenes and they can get a but more due next time around.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Batman and Scott Pilgrim

This one was a request from my niece, who is a big fan of the Scott Pilgrim comic series.  Bryan Lee O'Malley must have done something right, because those comics and TPB's seem to have tapped into a demographic that mainstream comics have been unable to get the attention of.  I had heard mixed reviews of the movie, and I had never read the series, so I watched it with an open mind.  While visually very interesting and inventive, I felt that most of the humor fell flat and I didn't find Scott or Ramona to be all that likable.  Fans of the comics will probably like it though, I know my niece has given it multiple viewings!  BTW, the Batman image here is by the talented Ralph Cosentino.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Batman and Scott McCloud

I think for anybody that has a passing interest in comics, the creative process, or even art in general, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is essential reading.  McCloud made the ingenious decision to explore the theory and workings of comics in actual comic book form.  Not only did that help clarify a lot of concepts, the very act of reading the book itself served to reinforce the ideas presented within.  I would also recommend his follow up, Reinventing Comics, which looked at where comics are now and where the form could go.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Batman and Rogue

Rogue is a great idea for a mutant.  Her ability to absorb other characters' powers means she can go up against all types of opponents and the range of action that can be depicted is limitless.  I think the permanent strength and flight that she acquired make her a bit too powerful though, and I feel she is more compelling with only the temporary absorption abilities.  I'd like to see a more faithful version of Rogue in a future X-Men film. While I enjoyed Anna Paquin's performance in the earlier  X-films, it never felt like the comic book version to me.   Her character was sort of a hybrid between Rogue and Kitty Pryde - not only did we lose a lot of interesting back story Rogue had in the comics, she also seemed redundant when the actual Kitty was introduced.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Batman and Rocket Raccoon

The main thing I remember about Rocket Racoon's earlier appearances was that his self-titled mini-series was one of my first exposures to the art of Mike Mignola.  I was surprised to see him show up again after many years as a part of Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning's Annihilation saga, but glad because anthropomorphic characters are always fun in comics.  I have been enjoying his relationship with Groot (another character plucked from obscurity - A treelike creature from the earliest issues of Thor) in the back up feature of the Annihilators mini series and hope we can continue to follow his adventures.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Batman and Red Hulk

I've been on record as being against the dilution of characters by introducing too many offshoots.  Batman and The Hulk are two of the biggest offenders these days.  Batman is now incorporated and the Hulk now has Red Hulk, Skarr, She-Hulk. Savage She-Hulk, Red She-Hulk, Doc Samson, A-Bomb and more following in his wake.  It strikes me as a lack of inventiveness and risk taking by creators much in the same way that most big budget movies seem to be remakes, sequels or TV show adaptations.  That said, I have to admit I have enjoyed some of the stories that Red Hulk (or "Rulk") has appeared in and he admittedly has a very cool visual.  I enjoy the powerful art of Ed McGuiness as well, so I thought I would give this cover a shot.  So, OK - he's not such a bad character after all.  Still, I'd like to see some more entirely new comic concepts show up in the future.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Batman and Power Man

Luke Cage has come a long way since his first appearance in the 70's.  While I miss his yellow shirt and headband look, I am glad that at least his attitude has remained intact.  Cage was one of the first no-nonsense heroes that you could count on to tell it to you straight and you knew would never take any guff from anybody. Nowadays you'll see a lot of characters with the bad boy from the streets attitude, but when Power Man first hit the scene it was quite a new take on superheroes.  You had to admire a guy who would march into Latveria and say to Doctor Doom, "Where's my money, honey?!"  That takes nerve.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Batman and Phantom Lady (Retro)

There's been a lot of discussion lately regarding superheroines' costumes, what with DC redesigning a lot of their characters outfits in order to show less skin.  While I understand the desire to make the costumes more utilitarian and believable (not to mention easier to translate into live action), female superheroes in skimpy outfits is hardly anything new.  The original Phantom Lady was using her sex appeal and scantily clad looks decades before the likes of Witchblade and the White Queen hit the scene.  I guess nothing stopped a crook in his tracks like a little leg or cleavage showing, and that gave her a couple of extra seconds to leap into action and lay the smack down!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Batman and Medusa (Retro)

Medusa is my favorite member of the Inhumans and one of Marvel's best female characters.  I always thought that she had a great power and visual to go with it.  I have always felt that she was deserving of a much higher profile, so it's good to see her getting some more exposure with Marvel's recent cosmic titles and mini series.

This cover also gave me a chance to use Fin Fang Foom, a Marvel baddie that has long appealed to me.  I know it's a long shot, but I would love for Foom to make an appearance in the third Iron Man film.  C'mon, we've seen shell head mix it up against other armored foes multiple times already, time to give audiences something new that will really blow their minds!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Batman and Marvel Girl (Retro)

It will be interesting to see whether sequels to X-Men: First Class will include a young version of Marvel Girl.  Unfortunately, with the X-Films wonky timeline, we won't get to see the classic team together ina movie.  The Beast is already furry, Iceman is 15-20 years younger than Cyclops and Jean, and Angel doesn't enter the picture until years later.  That's one reason I was hoping for a real reboot of the franchise.  With the success of this latest prequel, it looks to be a while before anything like that comes to fruition.

I was recently reading some of those earliest X-Men tales by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and I had to laugh at how not just Cyclops, but the whole team seemed to have a crush on Jean Grey.  Even Professor X proclaimed his affections in a few thought balloons!  I think it's probably for the best that that particular story thread was soon forgotten!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Batman and Mars Attacks!

In my fevered imagination, Tim Burton would direct the film adaptation to this story.  While his Batman from 1989 shows its age, and has a spotty script, it still holds up for me due to the visual flair and solid performances by Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Michael Gough.  Mars Attacks! is one of my favorite Burton movies. it has a very fun cast and there's something immensely enjoyable about the glee with which the martians invade the Earth.  Sarah Jessica Parker's head on the dog body always makes me laugh.

I wasn't sure what to do with this cover and then I remembered that Mars Attacks! began as a series of trading cards, I found a set of Batman cards form the same era and the result is one of my personal favorite covers, I was happy with the way this one turned out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Batman and Man-Wolf

The Wolf Man was always my favorite of the classic movie monsters, so a character that merged a werewolf with a comic book hero/villain was an easy sell for me.  I was also quite taken by the "Mark of the Man-Wolf" Spider-Man comic book and record set from Power Records that I listened to countless times as a kid.  You would think that J. Jonah Jameson's son transforming into a super-powered creature would have softened his views against masked vigilantes,  but it only strengthened his stance.  I guess he wouldn't be the JJJ we all know and love if it were otherwise, though!   I haven't seen Man-Wolf show up in the Spider-Man titles in years, and I hope that changes soon.  He is one of Spidey's better under-used adversaries and I am sure there are more stories to tell featuring him.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Batman and Little Annie Fanny

I remember sneaking a peek at my neighbor's Playboy collection when I was a kid and being somewhat fascinated by Little Annie Fanny.  Of course the stories had some more, ahem, obvious assets to entice an impressionable young boy... but I was also quite impressed with the detailed artwork by Will Elder.  I couldn't believe such a good artist was working on such a titillating project!  Years later I would see plenty of top tier comic artists contributing to erotica and risque material, but this was by far the first such example I had ever seen.   Ah, the innocence of youth!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Batman and Leave it to Chance

James Robinson and Paul Smith's Leave it to Chance was one of my favorite new series to come out in the past few decades.  It had it all, engaging characters, cool story lines and gorgeous artwork.  It also had a strong young female lead, something that comics need a lot more of.  Chance Falconer is the daughter of a powerful mage and gets into all sorts of adventures while trying to prove that she is worthy of following in his footsteps. When it came time to introduce my nieces to the world of comic books, this was the character I decided to show them first.  I don't think it flew off the shelves and that is unfortunate because I was really hoping to see some more tales featuring Chance and her pet dragon.  Still, it was critically acclaimed and I hope someday that Robinson and Smith decide to return to the property.  It's also perfectly suited for film or animation, so maybe it could find more success in another medium.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Batman and Hercules (Retro)

Hercules is a good example of a character whose personality is the main part of the appeal.  On the surface he seems very similar to Thor, and Marvel certainly has plenty of super-strong heroes.  Hercules stands out among them due to his bombastic over the top macho attitude and his love for adventure.  In an age where we see many reluctant heroes, Hercules loves a life of derring-do and is always looking for the next battle.  The producers of the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold gave Aquaman somewhat of a makeover, and I have to suspect that they were a little influenced by Marvel's Hercules when it came to his attitude (not to mention his beard!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Batman and Ultron

Ultron is one of my absolute favorite Marvel villains.  From the creepy insect like design to the calculating, emotionless way that he enacts his nefarious plans, his presence in a story always meant that the heroes would have to pull out all of the stops to defeat him.  I was really hoping that Ultron would be the villain in the upcoming Avengers film but it looks like that role will be filled by Loki and and alien race (Skrulls?  Kree? that information has not been released yet).  Hopefully, with a sequel and the addition of Hank Pym, Ultron will make his theatrical debut in a few years.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Batman and Jocasta

Jocasta springs from my favorite era of The Avengers and I have always liked her as a character. I really like the look they came up with for her, attractive yet cold and robotic at the same time.  She seems to have been off the table for many years, but Dan Slott recently brought her back in his Mighty Avengers run and it was nice to see her getting some much deserved screen time.

This is a continued story, by the way - tune in for part two tomorrow!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Batman and John Wayne

This cover was a request from my mother, so how could I refuse?  I was happy to do it though, because I am a big fan of John Wayne westerns.  Sure they show their age, but Wayne had an onscreen presence the likes of which we rarely see anymore.  I quite enjoyed the Coen Brother's remake of True Grit, but the original still holds up very well, mostly due to John Wayne's great cranky performance. Another favorite film of his is The Sons of Katie Elder.  Who can forget the classic line, "I ain't gonna hit ya... the Hell I ain't!" right before he lays the smack down on George Kennedy?  Great stuff.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Batman and Jack Bauer

24 was a show that I missed out on when it originally aired because by the time I heard  about how good it was, I had already missed a bunch of episodes.  Due to the real time nature of the show, I figured I would be too confused trying to join it somewhere in the middle.  Well, I saw that it was featured on Netflix instant view recently, so I decided to give it a try.  I was blown away, and I wound up watching the entire series over the course of a month.  Jack Bauer is one of those characters that will do whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter what the cost.  The show had some great twists and turns and I loved all the government intrigue.  Bauer does remind me a bit of one of my other favorite TV characters, Andy Sipowicz from NYPD Blue... both are stand up guys, but you don't want to get too close to them, because terrible things seem to happen to anyone they care about!  Oh well, it makes for good drama.

Support STF: The Lost Issues!