Ravingnerd Reviews: Captain America the Winter Soldier

Naturally I wasn’t finding myself super exciting for the upcoming Captain America film. The first one was good, but in the scope of the Marvel cinematic universe I generally consider it to be on the weaker end of the spectrum. I find one of the biggest complaints that people who are unfamiliar with Captain America is that they claim he isn’t relevant outside of his Nazi fighting escapades. One of the biggest challenges this film had to face was to prove his relevance in our world. Additionally this film had to introduce the Falcon and promised to show case not only Cap but Black Widow as well.

While there was a lot going on in this film, I think the cast was the most compelling. All the long standing characters did an excellent job at further developing their characters. Both Fury and Widow especially got a lot of extra help thanks to strong performances by Sam and Scarlet. I think what drove this film thought was the great turns by both Anthony Mackie and Robert Redford. Both of their performances were stellar and not only drove much of the plot forward, but also in the case of Mackie helped to establish and update a long standing Marvel character. 

In addition to the stellar performances, the movie was home to some of the best action sequences I have ever seen in a film. Period. This movie was strikingly visual and the fights didn’t leave much to the imagination. They were fast paced and energetic. The movie was constantly exciting, and the extremely energetic action sequences made up for it’s predictable plot. Yes, much of the plot was predictable, but that is to be expected. Anyone who has some passive knowledge of comic books will be able to understand the big Winter Solider twist. That being said, the plot is involving and does keep you on the end of your seat. Lastly this film benefits from having loose subject material to base itself on. Many of my complaints with comic book films is that they play it loose with the subject material. This film however nails the parts it needs to while allowing everything else to fall into place organically.

All in all this is one of the best films in the Marvel universe. It’s catching, gripping, and entertaining. The films shortfalls are few and superfluous in comparison to the scope of the film. This movie did everything it needed to do and more. By a landslide.

My final ranking of the film is an 8/10. This film was solid and should easily fit within the top 5 Marvel films. I highly recommend this film to any one who enjoys comic books and anyone who finds themselves invested in the ongoing plot line of the Marvel movie universe.

My favorite moment of the film was probably Anthony Mackie’s performance. They did a stellar job at updating and introducing the character to the Marvel Universe and the friendship he developed with Cap was one of the nicer touches to the film.

My least favorite moment of the film was when everyone gasped when they revealed that Bucky was the Winter Solider. Read a book.

Until the next time,

Rn 

On The Stack

It’s Wednesday, and before I get my stack of new books, I’m here to detail the best books of the week before.

5. Ghost Rider #1 was a rather brilliant book, I have already sung the praises of this first issue, and will let you read it here. That being said, it was definitely one of the best things from last weeks stack.

4. Aquaman #29 continues what writer Jeff Parker has been doing with Aquaman. When Johns left it was easy to thing Aquaman could fall by the wayside, and become a forgettable title. Yet Jeff Parker has managed to spin an impressive yarn about a more human Aquaman ever since stepping in. It is a thrill to see, and this issue proves that Parker has a lot more going on.

3. The Wake #7 made me realize I missed the book since the last issue. Murphey’s art stole the show, as we see our characters caught by the villainous government. What’s fascinating about this book is once the plot shifted, it feels like the government and people are the bad guys. The Merfolk are no longer the primary villains, though they are there. I am excited and fascinated to see where this book goes as it heads towards its conclusion 3 issues from now.

2. Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6. Rogues Rebellion was the tie in that could. While much of Forever Evil has been stellar, the Rouges centered limited series was the best tie in of the bunch. It perfectly grasped the concept of the Rogues, and seeing them embark on their own small heroic journey of sorts was excellent. Seeing where they go without Captain Cold and Heatwave (who’s dead?) will be interesting. Seeing if Mirror Master can continue to lead the team will be fascinating as well.

1. Afterlife with Archie #4 was one of the most emotional books I have ever read. In just a few short pages, we are forced to feel immense sorrow as Archie not only loses his dog (who has heartbreaking internal dialogue) but also as he realizes that he can’t save everyone. This book continues to thrill at every turn, and this issue made the book feel all the more real.

In other news, I was extremely underwhelmed by Silver Surfer #1. The art was excellent, but the story was forgettable and slow. I hope it can pick up from a poor first issue, as I need to see Allred’s art on a monthly basis.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Ghost Rider #1

I have never had a love for Ghost Rider. The character has done nothing to excite me and has only ever appeared in awkward ways. I have never felt he has a bearing on anything else in the Marvel Universe. So when they were relaunching Ghost Rider with a new identity, and now with a car, it was one of the books I felt I could skip. Trad Moore’s art looked awkward in all the solicitation images, and I was worried the artist who brought us Luther Strode wouldn’t be able to stick the landing. This is what I found out instead.

1. Tradd Moore’s style is unconventional but provides an awesome background for what looks to be a solid story.
2. Even Felipe Smith’s story was fascinating. His settings were on point and the book moved at a quick pace.
3. This book feels like everything and nothing happened all at once. We learn about the characters, the setting, see Robbie get his powers, the end.

Rating before reading: 5
Rating after reading: 7

This book was solid, and well worth another look. After my initial read, I was taken aback. I was almost angry, believing the book could have been about have as long and told the story. I felt like the book had left empty space. Yet upon my second look through I realized we would have missed all the amazing art which really makes this book shine. So what I would describe as the books one major downfall, was also one of its biggest assets. Much of the book is silent panel work, but Moore really is allowed to shine in a way that I wasn’t expecting. What I anticipated as one of the weakest #1′s ended up being one of the strongest. I would recommend this book to any new reader, and truly hope that they can hit the ground running after this issues initial quality.

Until the next time,

Rn

On the Stack

It’s that time of the week again, it’s time for me to discuss my comic book top 5! Additionally any other books worth mentioning for being great in quality (or not so great) will also get name dropped here.

5. Superman Unchained #6 was another solid issue. While I felt the plot did little to amaze me, the book is still well paced and wonderfully drawn. This issue has two big moments, the first being Batman and Wonder Woman coming to Superman’s aid. The second, and most importantly, this issue (as have all the previous) features a kick ass Lois Lane. So far it’s been Lois who has stolen the show so far in the book. So nothing special, but was another solid outing for a book ending all too soon.

4. The Shadow continues to surprise me on a month to month basis. For me, it’s the little book that could. With an all star writer like Chris Roberson at the helm and a visual artist like Timpano on board the book has come alive with energy. This issue is from the perspective of a man from The Shadow’s past. Now destitute and bitter about the world, he reflects on his life as he kills to survive. The final scene has him confront The Shadow, to which The Shadow goes into his normal spiel, what made this exceptional was the contrast between the two men. Both so similar and both became lost. One sought to find hope while the other swore it off.

3. Animal Man #29 was heartwarming and incredibly well done. The book featured an excellent farewell to one of the best books DC published every month, and definitely tugged at the heartstrings. From Lemire’s hand drawn cover to the last panel of the book. This book was stunning, and provides yet another reason why it truly is a shame to have it yanked from us so soon.

2. Batman and Aquaman #29 was a book packed to the brim with energy, drama, and action. The confrontation with Aquaman at the beginning is playful yet serious, and is exactly how I feel both of them would interact given the situation. We see Batman still struggling with his grief, and Aquaman enraged by the injustice’s committed upon the pod of whales. Gleason especially does a great job at bringing the horror of the whale carcasses to life, and seeing how both men interact with the scene. The finale is explosive, with a very active Ra’s almost getting caught by the Dark Knight. Though he escaped, Batman must now turn to yet another hero, Wonder Woman, to help him in the next leg of his journey to recover Damian’s body.

1. Finally the most stellar issue of the week was Wonder Woman #29. Now nearing the end of their prolific run on the title, Azzarello and Chiang produce what has become a common theme for the book, awesome single issues. Nearly every month Wonder Woman consistently shocks and amazes me in a way that no other book on the shelf does at this moment. This issue features a slew of status quo changes including the restoration of Hera’s powers, the return of the Amazon’s, and Wonder Woman finally accepting her role as Goddess of War. I’m sure Azzarello and Chiang have quite an explosive finale in the works, and have no doubt that it will be spectacular.

Until the next time, what was your favorite book this week?

Rn

The Last Arrow

It looks like Hawkeye could be coming to an end. At least the one we all know and love. According to Marvel’s June Solicitations, the new arc of Hawkeye is described as “The Finale Part 1″. If this is the case it would mean Fraction is leaving one of the single best comics on the shelf at the moment (or ending it all together). While not a surprise given how busy he is, his removal from Inhumanity, and his long Hiatus from Hawkeye, it still comes as a shock to many.

What will Marvel do in its absence? Given Marvel’s plan, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current run of Hawkeye were to end and then a new Hawkeye be launched in its place, under the Marvel NOW! banner. It seems only fitting they would try to milk what they could out of Fraction’s immense success on the title. I posted recently my thoughts on the title, so I won’t discuss them at length here. Instead I would like to discuss Hawkeye’s lasting legacy on the comic market, and specifically Marvel.

Majority of Hawkeye’s success has come from word of mouth and reputation. I know many people who have not read it yet, but are well aware of its quality. It’s quality has gotten such positive word of mouth that it is, at the moment, the Saga of Marvel. Saga is easily one of the 5 best books published every month, and because of its success Image #1′s have been selling more as a result of it. Everyone is willing to try a #1 if it will turn out to be the next Saga. Thus all of Image’s new series’ are beginning to see a bump in interest and sales because Saga’s fame keeps growing.

This effect has been demonstrated at Marvel as well. Hawkeye is so popular, that quirky solo series’ are beginning to take off. Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, Moon Knight, and She- Hulk are just some of the series’ that have already seen positive initial sales and reception. Many of which have become a critical hit at my local comic book store (Ms. Marvel specifically). With more coming, Marvel clearly understands the effects of Hawkeye. This massive influx of non team books would not exist if it wasn’t for the sensation that Fraction and Aja’s book has become.

So while saddening that this book is ending, I am thrilled to see how one book can actively change a company and an industry for good. Marvel is now trying new concepts and ideas coming close to reclaiming their title as the “Great House of Ideas”. So while my praise for Marvel is generally limited, I have nothing but positive things to say. Hawkeye gave them an edge and because of it, they have turned its success into a brand wide mantra. That solo series’ can sell, and that giving a creator free-reign can make a tremendous impact.

Until the next time,

Rn

A Not So Special Bloggiversary

So 2 years ago today I launched Ravingnerd. It was at the request of numerous friends that I find an open outlet to share my opinions. Little did I know that what began as a way for me to rant about things would turn into the sensation that it was back during its peak. Much of that is lost now, and my readership is definitely a far cry from what it once was. But It’s hard to imagine that two years ago I didn’t have this outlet. That there was no Ravingnerd. Much has happened since then, but the constant support of all of you my readers, has always meant much to me. If I have the time today, I will still post my normal Wednesday Round Up. In the mean time, I wanted to thank each and every one of you who is reading this. Even those who no longer read this. Thank you to everyone. It has been a tremendous ride, and I look forward to introducing you to the renovations I’ve got coming.

Until the next time,

Rn

Right on Target

While Marvel has had no problem mastering movies in the past few years, their hold on the comic book industry has not been as fortunate. While they frequently find themselves on top of sales on a month to month basis and have arguably the best creative stable in the industry, their stories still suffer from editorial mandates and massive events. Just over a year ago, amid struggling sales Marvel launched their Marvel NOW campaign to stymie their competition and once again come back on top. While many of Marvel’s books have found success under the new label, 2013 was the year of unending events at Marvel. Age of Ultron led into Infinity, which led into Inhumanity. As that was happening, the X-Books were dealing with Battle of the Atom. I found myself getting more and more distanced from the Marvel Universe, due to event burn out and fatigue. Yet the one book that was unaffected by the relaunches, rebrandings, and events continued to prove why Marvel is praised as the great House of Ideas: Hawkeye.

Now more than a year into its run, Hawkeye is consistently the most entertaining and the most heartwarming book on the shelf. Matt Fraction is consistently on top of his game revolutionizing the characters of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop at the same time. The duality of the book, and the embracing of both characters’ connection to the Hawkeye name provides us with infinitely more enjoyment than any big event book. The heart of this book is Clint Barton. Being portrayed for the first time as the everyman of the Avengers. His overarching arrogance and his many frustrations he often develops with his teammates are gone, leaving room for the reader to experience the character one on one. The book is defined not by the bow or the mantle, but the man. Clint Barton is the hero of the story, not Hawkeye. This distinction and departure from typical super hero antics is an example of what Marvel has been missing, connection. As a reader, I feel more connected and impacted by the events that Clint Barton go through on a day to day basis than I do with any other character in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is praised as the home of “real” heroes, ones we can connect and identify with, yet Clint Barton seems to be the only character at the moment I can truly identify with.

Marvel is launching into the All New Marvel NOW, with a slew of new titles and at least one new event on its way. While I may not be excited by any of that, I am excited to see where Matt Fraction and David Aja take Barton and Bishop in the new year.

Until the next time,