Sunday, March 31, 2013

Your New Job Title Is "Accomplice", by Scott Adams

 Here, at last, is proof that we do, indeed, grow and change in the course of our lives. I used to think Dilbert was funny stuff, back when I worked in Corporate America. Bosses and drones alike would clip the strips from the newspapers, and hang them in cubicles, copy and distribute them, share them at meetings, and we would all have a good laugh and say "It's funny because it's true!" I still have an office job, albeit one pretty far removed from your usual corporate setting, but I do still work with crabs, lunatics, drunks, credit-stealers, Bosses who don't listen to a thing you say......and in the course of the 130 pages that comprise YOUR NEW JOB TITLE IS "ACCOMPLICE" I smiled a grand total of twice. I didn't laugh of chuckle at all, I smiled.


 Mostly I was amazed by how repetitive and tired Scott Adams' jokes were. This is the same dreck that he was publishing decades ago! The art and writing is exactly the same, as are the jokes. This was truly a chore to get through. On the plus side, it did show me that my sense of humor has evolved, and for that, I am grateful.

 Andrews McMeel Publishing provided review copy.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Daniel LaFrance, adapted from the novel written by Sharon E. McKay

 This is powerful stuff.

 WAR BROTHERS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL is an illustrated adaptation of a prose novel written by Sharon E. McKay in 2008. Artist Daniel LaFrance masterfully adapts the story of Jacob Kitino, a young boy abducted from his school in Africa and forced to fight in Joseph Kony's  "Lord's Resistance Army". The plight of these "Child Soldiers" is absolutely heartbreaking, and the story McKay and LaFrance tell is both terrifying and utterly absorbing. I can't recommend this book highly enough.


Friday, March 29, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

 I used to go to the movies at least once a week....sometimes several times a week. I saw everything that came out, with the exception (The rare exception...) of things that just looked like they would be too unbearable to watch, like Tyler Perry films, or chick-flicks. Then I met my Wife. Two kids and an insane mortgage later, I see, maybe, a movie every three to five months. It was hard to get used to, but I did, and now it's difficult to get me to see ANY film in the theater unless it looks like a perfect 10.

 Yet tonight, I was shanghaied by my friends into seeing G.I. JOE: RETALIATION. I've been a fan of The Rock since his early days in the WWF (I still have a hard time calling it "The WWE". They should have never given in to those animal rights fuckers!), and his presence usually guarantees at least a bit of fun in whatever movie he's appearing in.

Such is not the case here.

 Granted, he has a scene at the beginning with Channing Tatum the virtually screams "We shot this months after wrapping the film, so we could get a little more Channing Tatum in, now that he's famous and loved by everyone!", which was kind of fun, in a goofy, dopey way. They had good chemistry together. But...

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read at your own risk!!!!

 Tatum dies fairly early on, so there goes the chemistry. Apparently every other Joe dies, too, including (Offscreen, one would assume...) all of the stars of the first film, which I have never seen, so I didn't miss them. Except for Rachel Nichols, because how could you not miss this...?
 Having never seen the first film, I found myself caring just as little for that films characters as I did for this films characters. Except for wondering why they couldn't have given Rachel Nichols a part. Instead we get Adrianne Palicki, who looks cute in some scenes, not so much in others, but she has a couple of weird warty-looking things on her face that I just could not stop seeing, no matter what else was happening in the movie.
    See what I mean? Now imagine that 50 feet high.....

 Anyway, Channing Tatum gets killed, along with a few dozen other faceless rabble of Joes, the President  is Zartan, Cobra Commander gets broken out of Prison (But they leave Destro.....Go figure.), Bruce Willis shows up to audition for the role of Matilda in the inevitable ANGRY BIRDS movie......
                                                       Come on.....Right?

....and the most assholish (Yeah, I just made up that word for this films ending...) thing ever happens at the end, which I've already spoiler-warned you for, even though they SHOW IT IN THE COMMERCIALS!!!!, so don't complain to me if you read this and get mad: Zartan and Cobra Commander drop giant Tungsten rods on England from Space, destroying  London utterly. Problem? Well, the problem is that the G.I. Joe team is IN THE ROOM, AND COULD HAVE STOPPED THEM BEFORE THEY DROPPED THE RODS, but they wait until, literally 5 seconds later to make their presence known. They don't even scream "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!" or anything. They may as well have screamed "FUCK LONDON, YOU LIMEY FUCKERS!!!!", considering the fact that this mass-murder from Space is never, ever mentioned again. Fuck Cobra, fuck Space, and fuck this movie.

 Aside from that, this is a movie that you will forget almost entirely as soon as you wake up the next morning. When I said "That was awful." upon leaving the theater, my friends asked me if it was as bad as VAN HELSING, which I hated so much that I almost had a stroke brought on from too much hate. (Even months later, when it came out on DVD, I used to take any copies I found in a store and hide them, so no one else would be subjected to watching it.) I had to say that this was worse than VAN HELSING, because at least that film provoked a reaction of some sort. The only reaction I had to G.I. JOE: RETALIATION was wishing that I had worn my glow-in-the-dark watch, so I could see how much longer this tripe was going to go on for. I fell asleep (ON PURPOSE! I actually SET OUT TO FALL ASLEEP!!!) for about 20 minutes, and missed absolutely nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Not a blessed thing.

 Any GOOD things to say, you ask? Well, Ray Stevenson fights The Rock twice, which was kind of cool, and Ray Parks did a decent job as a little tiny, eensy-weensy Snake Eyes. (I have no idea how tall he is, but he appeared to be a tad taller than Peter Dinklage.) As I said, this wasn't an aggressively BAD movie, but it was an incredibly "Meh..." movie. I told them we should see OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, but did they listen? Nooooooooo..........

P.S.- I, perhaps inevitably, ended up married to a Woman who thinks VAN HELSING is "A pretty good movie".  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Star Wars: Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison

 STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE GHOST PRISON is Writer Haden Blackman's follow-up to last year's excellent STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND, which I absolutely loved. It presented a Darth Vader who was not an omnipotent killing machine at the top of his game, which was something very new to me. Blackman's LOST COMMAND featured a green Sith Lord, just getting used to his new identity as Darth Vader, and still learning the ways of the Dark Side, as well as getting used to his fearsome new armor/life support system.

 While GHOST PRISON is narrated by a new character, a disfigured young Lieutenant named Laurita Thom, freshly graduated from The Imperial Academy, the specter of Darth Vader looms large in this story. Thom is thrust into action when his fellow Academy graduates launch a devastating terrorist attack on Coruscant, at the behest of their Academy trainer, who plans to overthrow The Emperor and install himself on the throne. Thom finds himself side-by-side with Darth Vader, as they attempt to save the gravely injured Emperor Palpatine and exact Imperial revenge on the man behind the coup. Vader's plan takes them to a hidden Prison Satellite with a dark secret: It was established by The Jedi during The Clone Wars as a place to lock up their deadliest enemies and throw away the key. (They said they'd give them fair trials after the war, but we all know how wishy-washy The Jedi are....They'd discuss the issue until the prisoners died of old age.) Vader's plan to squash the uprising is nothing short of brilliantly evil, and it's embellished perfectly by the almost-as-evil Thom. The climactic battle is amazing, and it's perfectly capped by an awesome zing on the last page.

 Blackman's story is wonderfully told, and it's enhanced by Agustin Alessio's amazing, photo-realistic artwork. This is, seriously, some of the best STAR WARS art I've ever seen in a comic. It's a shame that Dark Horse's days as a STAR WARS licensee are just know Marvel is gonna screw the pooch with their SW books.

 My only beef with this collection is Dark Horse's total unwillingness to include a cover gallery, which drives me nuts. There's a bunch of wasted pages that could easily have been used to showcase cover art.

 Dark Horse provided a review copy.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Judge Dredd: Inferno

 I've always loved Judge Dredd, but I have a special spot in my heart for the Judge Dredd EPICS....stuff like The Sov Block War, The Dark Judges, The Judge Child Quest....Dredd is almost always a good time, but plug yourself into one of the really massive Dredd storylines, and're in for a treat.

 I bought JUDGE DREDD: INFERNO because it was written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, and although Morrison is getting a little too heady for me lately, his old stuff is right up my alley. (Millar seems to be a pompous prick, but he can generally tell an entertaining story...) I was expecting a collection of short trifles, like most of the Garth Ennis Dredd collections, but what I got was a sneaky epic....

 JUDGE DREDD: INFERNO collects two long-form story arcs: PURGATORY, by Mark Millar and Carlos Ezquerra is the set-up for the title story: Imprisoned former Judge Grice, whose backstory I am totally unfamiliar with, plans and executes a mass breakout on the Prison Moon Titan, a massive Penal Colony for disgraced Judges. The story is typical Millar...a lot of bluster and gore, but this was early Millar, and he doesn't seem to have acquired his gift for making his stories interesting. PURGATORY is filled with loathsome characters, as are all of Millar's stories, but there's absolutely no one to root for. Guards and Prisoners alike are equally bad. Grice escapes, taking every scumbag on Titan with him, along with a nasty Virus that could wipe out life on Earth altogether, and heads off to get revenge on Dredd....which leads directly to......

 INFERNO!!! Where Grice and company crash down in Mega-City One, and declare war on The Judges. Morrison wastes absolutely no time on characterization, plot, background....none of that matters. This is balls-out, wide-screen action at it's finest. Morrison causes massive property damage, kills untold amounts of Big Meg citizens, and has Dredd get in the greatest one-liner I've ever seen him utter. INFERNO is pure, unadulterated magic. Violence, chaos, ass-whupping, and quite a few laughs. Mean-spirited laughs, but laughs nonetheless.

 The book concludes with a couple of one-offs by Millar, which are amusing, but Morrison's story is the meat and potatoes here, and is not to be missed. Highly recommended.