Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange (2015) Issues 1 through 20

Details: Published by Marvel Comics. Mostly written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Chris Bachalo.

I’ve never been a big fan of Doctor Strange. I’ve enjoyed watching him interact with other characters in the Marvel Universe, like when he was in the Illuminati or when he was god Doom’s sheriff. That changed with this series. They invoked one of my comic book weaknesses; they got Bachalo to do art.

Continue reading “Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange (2015) Issues 1 through 20”

TV Show Review: Iron Fist, Season 1

Details: Aired on Netflix. Thirteen episodes at about an hour each.

The unfortunate part about Iron Fist and its most attractive quality is that it is part of the Marvel cinematic, superhero universe. People like watching Marvel superhero stuff. Unfortunately, when compared with the other Netflix/Marvel superhero shows, this is clearly the worst of the bunch.

The story is about the return of Danny Rand. Years ago, Danny Rand and his parents were all presumed dead after their plane crashed in the Himalayas. Turns out that while his parents apparently died, Danny survived and became a martial artist with the power to turn his fists into indestructible weapons. Now he returns to New York City to find his place in the world and fight new threats.

I think the primary reason why this show is lacking compared to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage is because there doesn’t seem to be any goal for the show to focus on. With Daredevil, they already established a kick ass, gritty, martial arts, action show. With Jessica Jones, you had this focus on a Noir, detective story with superhero twist and also told from the perspective of a victimized woman who’s been raped in body and mind, but tries to overcome it and empower herself. Luke Cage is your attempt at a black, crime drama, similar in tone to The Wire or Empire, with a superhero twist. I think the draw of the Netflix superhero shows was that they took a genre of fiction and injected superpowers into them. That made the shows familiar, yet new and interesting. It also helped that comic book fans got to see their favorite superheroes in live action.

And now we land on Iron Fist. What’s the twist here? What’s the focus? I’m not sure what tone or atmosphere they were trying to achieve here. There was some articles written on how Iron Fist should have starred an Asian protagonist. It could have gone into what life as an Asian immigrant was like and how having super powers would spin that. It certainly would have made sense and shown yet another side of the Marvel movie universe. It would also go along with their themes of diversity (Daredevil is disabled; Jessica Jones is a woman; Luke Cage is black).

However, that’s not what we got. Everything I saw in this series I saw done better in Daredevil. The whole series felt like Daredevil-lite. There were a lot of action scenes, but they felt slow and empty. The action, the acting, and the story were not impressive. I’m not saying this is an awful show, it’s just cringy and not at the level of the other Netflix superhero stuff.

I think the primary problem here is the casting. The performances and dialogue made me cringe many times. None of the people here were too great and they didn’t really fit… which I guess leads to the writing. The motivations for a lot of these characters were hard to believe. The whole story felt mostly pointless, which would be fine to me if only the action scenes were better choreographed or had some emotion in them. Unfortunately, they did not.

Overall, Iron Fist isn’t great. I was mostly bored. It might still be worth watching if you’re bored and need something to pass the time. Otherwise, I think you can just skip it.

Score: 5/10

TV Show Review: Legion, Season One Episode One, “Chapter 1”

Details: Each episode is about an hour long. Planned to be an eight episode series for this season. Airs on FX.

If you’ve studied film history, you’d be well aware that there was a precise point in time when the works of Sigmund Freud not only invaded popular culture, but into the movies. Instead of explaining every little detail in order to convey motivations to the audience, movies started making assumptions about characters’ mental states and the audience started understanding those assumptions. Similar to books and perhaps to a greater extent, movies and television shows allow the understanding of a state of mind and the psychology of a character. This first episode of Legion is a good example of that.

Legion is a new, eight episode television series that is airing on Fox. It’s based upon an X-Men comic book character named Legion who is one of the most powerful beings on the planet with powers that pretty much allow him to do anything. The only downside is that Legion is crazy; Legion has multiple personality disorder and not only can he not control these other personalities, in the comic book, each personality controls a different power. When one of these personalities surfaces, it’s a guessing game as to whether it’s good, benign, or evil. It’s anyone’s guess how this character will be approached by the television series, but the first episode seems to embrace that craziness.

I really enjoyed this first episode and love that it’s an eight episode miniseries versus something lower budget and twenty something episodes long. I enjoy this trend in programming. Since Netflix and the prevalence of binge watching an entire television series, there has been a perceived evolution towards shorter length television seasons with higher length individual episodes and much better quality per episode. I think this is directly because of the increasing popularity of streaming services. TV shows traditionally made money based on how many people watched them and their associated advertisements. Accordingly, it used to make sense to have lots of little episodes to fill time slots that made purchasing and pricing air time easier and for programming to be more digestible to viewers. Since the advent of paid subscriptions for content, there’s no more need to appease advertisers as much. People can watch shows whenever or wherever they want through the internet. The goal has changed to simply provide better content in order to make the subscription service appealing as a whole versus trying to get eyeballs on a certain show at a certain time. That means making better programming, which seems to mean more high budget miniseries and less fluff shows.

Legion certainly seems to be one of these higher quality miniseries. The quality and likely higher budget of this first episode reminds me of something I’d see on Netflix or HBO, and that’s a good thing. There are a lot of special effects used and the story, the shots used and the editing are much more thoughtful than Arrow or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I don’t want to get too much into the story for fear of spoilers, but the main character is crazy and the story is trippy. It’s different from any other show I can think of right now, which is nice. That this story is connected to the X-Men is largely tangential in this first episode, but there are clear indicators they are related. It’s unclear as of yet whether this show shares the same universe as the cinematic X-Men or Marvel universe.

The acting was great. The only face I could recognize was Aubrey Plaza. She was good.

Overall, a good first episode that has hooked me for the rest of the season. I hope to see more shows like this.

Score: 7.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: Books Released on January 25, 2016

I didn’t review anything last week because nothing looked good. Found some this week though.

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #10

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/57875/captain_america_steve_rogers_2016_10

Not my favorite book of the week, but still something I keep coming back to. This book is mostly a retelling of evil Captain America’s origin as it was rewritten by the Cosmic Cube and the unfolding of evil Captain America’s grand plan. It’s not an emotional book. It just lays out the series of events in order. I read it mostly because I want to see where it’s all going, which seems to be a big Marvel event that is coming down the road.

Score: 5/10

 

Civil War II: The Oath (2017) #1

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/60574/civil_war_ii_the_oath_2017_1

The only reason this book is worth mentioning is that the end of the book gives you a glimpse at evil Captain America’s end game. I probably wouldn’t buy the book. Just walk into your local comic book store and read the last few pages.

Score: 3/10

 

Doctor Strange (2015) #16

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55430/doctor_strange_2015_16

Bachalo’s art. That’s the main reason to buy this book. The story is fine, I just don’t like that Doctor Strange has become a mystical Tony Stark. Doctor Strange used to be a more wise, mysterious character. Now her cracks jokes and reminds me more of the Doctor Strange in the movies. A big change to attract a more mainstream audience I guess.

Score: 6/10

 

Infamous Iron Man (2016) #4

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61550/infamous_iron_man_2016_4

Likely my favorite book of the moment. I’ve seen Maleev’s art before and I’ve always enjoyed it. That doesn’t change here. It’s just fun to see this spin on Doctor Doom. Not much progression in this issue, but still all right.

Score: 6/10

 

Inhuman V. X-Men (2016) #3

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61596/inhumans_vs_x-men_2016_3

Another fine issue. Worth the purchase if you’ve been following along.

Score: 6/10

 

Justice League v. Suicide Squad (2016) #6

http://www.dccomics.com/comics/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-2016/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-6

Not a great book, but I can see the appeal if you’re interested in the Justice League or the Suicide Squad.

Score: 4.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: Comics Released on January 11, 2017

All Star Batman (2016) #6

http://www.dccomics.com/comics/all-star-batman-2016/all-star-batman-6

This series is really starting to feel like Paul Dini’s animated series in that all the villains seem to be getting their own little story, Snyder style. This time, it’s Mr. Freeze. The story does not feel as good as what was done by Snyder prior on Batman, but it was still all right. I’m going to keep reading this series regardless of quality because Snyder plus Batman equals compulsive reading.

Score: 6/10

 

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #9

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/57874/captain_america_steve_rogers_2016_9

Not a great issue, but not terrible. I mainly read this issue because I’m eager to see what evil Captain America’s plan is. Guess I’ll patiently wait for that reveal.

Score: 6/10

 

Inhumans v. X-Men (2016) #2

https://marvel.com/comics/issue/61595/ivx_2016_2

My favorite book of the week and another reason why X-Men comic books are still awesome and should not be canceled. The X-Men begin their assault on the Inhumans in this issue and it all feels right unlike what happened in Civil War II. The motivations all feel right. For instance, the X-Men are trying to fight for their lives and even still, try to protect civilians. It’s a good book. Additionally, I’ve always liked Yu’s artwork despite internet comments to the contrary.

Score: 7.1/10

 

Justice League v. Suicide Squad #4 of 6

http://www.dccomics.com/comics/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-2016/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-4

Just of bunch of action involving a lot of DC Comics characters. What was interesting was seeing the New 52 versions of a lot of characters I had not seen before. Still, not a great book.

Score: 5/10

 

The Might Thor (2015) #15

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55802/mighty_thor_2015_15

First and foremost, Dauterman’s art is sublime and fits the subject matter perfectly. There’s just something magical and mythical about how he draws these characters and the flow of the action. The story here is also interesting and has me looking forward to seeing what comes next. What seemed like a story involving science fiction aliens versus fantasy Norse mythology turned into a story that will likely smash all those elements into a smorgasbord of all of the above. It’s going to be good. This is my favorite book of the week.

Score: 7/10

 

Spider-Man (2016) #12

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55706/spider-man_2016_12

I’m not loving this story line, but I am interested in seeing a cross over with Spider Gwen. I wish this series will go back to the high school meets superhero dynamic that I’ve come to expect. Oh well, guess I’ll just keep reading along and hope for the best.

Score: 5/10

Comic Book Reviews: Books Released on January 4, 2017

Looked through a bunch of books, but only found two books worth reviewing.

Batman (2016) #14

Official preview: http://www.dccomics.com/comics/batman-2016/batman-14

Despite my dislike for the new story arc, this was a welcome issue. It was fun to just hang out with Batman and Catwoman, and to see them be romantic for once. Most of the time, they just flirt and never go any further. It’s nice to see them actually pursue it for once and to see both characters with some vulnerability.

Score: 5.7/10

 

The Unworthy Thor (2016) #3 of 5

Official preview: http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61720/the_unworthy_thor_2016_3

Coipel is drawing Thor. There really isn’t anything else you need to know. The art is great and the story is fun. It’s also fun to see the appearance of so many familiar faces from the Marvel Universe in the book. It helps make the book feel more cosmic.

Score: 7/10

 

Comic Books Reviews: December 21, 2016

Only read one book this week. Nothing else looked interesting to me.

Doctor Strange (2015) #15

Official site is http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55429/doctor_strange_2015_15

One of my favorite books in print right now. Bachalo’s art is great again and the additional artists do a great job setting tone. This is a crazy story involving a lot of characters from the mystical side of the Marvel universe. I definitely had flashbacks to Doctor Who whenever Strange was referred to as “The Doctor.” Loved this issue and will continue to read this book.

Score: 7.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: December 14, 2016

Got three comics this week. Here they are.

Spider-Man (2016) #10

Official site is http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55704/spider-man_2016_10

I usually hate tie ins to big comic book events, but this was pretty good and added a little bit to the character of Miles Morales. Miles returns and hints at what will happen in the next Civil War II issue. It’s somewhat emotional and definitely got me a little hyped for the final issue of Civil War II.

Score: 6/10

 

Suicide Squad (2016) #8

Official site is http://www.dccomics.com/comics/suicide-squad-2016/suicide-squad-8

If you like Jim Lee’s art, then buy it. If not, there is nothing for you here. The story is meh.

Score: 4/10

 

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #1

Official site is http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61594/ivx_2016_1

This was my favorite book of the week. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Lenil Yu’s art. While many may not like it, I really do so that was nice. The story was pretty good and served the purpose of a first issue; it set up the massive action that will likely come in future issues. The motivations for both sides are simple, but make sense unlike in Civil War II. I’m looking forward to where this series goes. Most of all, I’m just happy that Marvel is giving the X-Men some attention. I feared marvel was going to kill the X-Men books because they didn’t have the film rights. Let’s hope that is not the case.

Score: 6.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: December 7, 2016

Four books caught my eye this week. Here they are in alphabetical order.

 

Batman (2016) #12

Official site is http://www.dccomics.com/comics/batman-2016/batman-12

This whole issue is Batman working his way towards where he was last issue. I can see that the writer made the attempt to shed light on Batman’s psychology and perspective, but all of Batman’s narration sounded really corny. I just felt myself getting yanked through the fourth wall with how cheesy some of these lines are. Also, when you repeat the same line over and over again, it can either make the line more meaningful or draw attention to a badly written line. This issue drew my attention to some really cheesy writing. The art was nice though.

Score: 3/10

 

Justice League (2016) #10

Official site is http://www.dccomics.com/comics/justice-league-2016/justice-league-10

An okay issue. Just more Justice League stories. I feel like there is definitely a desire in the market for more Justice League stories and this scratches that itch. Nothing spectacular unfortunately.

Score: 3/10

 

The Unworthy Thor (2016) #2

Official site is http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61719/the_unworthy_thor_2016_2

The best comic book I read this week. Coipel’s art is awesome and need not be further discussed. This issue of Thor felt very much like an issue of the Silver Surfer or another cosmic space book. It also somewhat ties into what happened in Secret Wars and acknowledges what occurred there. Great book and the only real book that was worth purchasing this week.

Score: 6.7/10

 

The Walking Dead #161

Official site is https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/the-walking-dead-161

I’m so tired of this book. Kirkman has not thrown that many curveballs or plot twists since the television show came out. Any twists he throws out feels like it lacks impact. I’m about ready to drop this series.

Score: 2.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: November 30, 2016

Only two comic books picked up last week. Here they are.

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #0

Official site is http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61593/ivx_2016

This is an issue setting up the next big event. I was filled with dread when I read this book. I fear it is just another step in shitting on X-Men because Marvel/Disney does not own the movie rights. I hope they don’t kill off the X-Men. The story is just Emma Frost going around preparing for war with the Inhumans.

Score: 3/10 Please stop fucking up the X-Men Marvel. For crying out loud, without Sony making the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, superhero movies wouldn’t even exist.

 

Suicide Squad (2016) #7

Official site is http://www.dccomics.com/comics/suicide-squad-2016/suicide-squad-7

I enjoyed half the book… because only half of the book is of Jim Lee’s art. I skimmed the other story, but I didn’t love it. Only buy this book if you like Suicide Squad and you need Jim Lee’s art in your life.

Score: 4/10