Ravingnerd Reviews: Secret Wars #1

Thanks to a set of circumstances I got my hands on an advance copy of Secret Wars #1. I felt it fitting to review that book so that I’ll be in the zone to review Age of Ultron, when I get the chance. Most of you know that I am not a fan of Marvel by any stretch of the imagination. That said, since I missed out on reviewing any of these Convergance books that have come out recently (most of them have been A + so far), I decided to take this opportunity to review this book.

Before I get into the meat of the article I’ll talk about the scenes I liked.

1. We see Ultimate Reed Richards (the evil one) as the Ultimate Universe’s only hope of survival. I am very pleased that Hickman could not only introduce the new evil Reed (a few years ago, at the same time Miles was introduced) but also make him tie into an event this massive. It’s awesome seeing these disparate parts fit together in this way.

2. While Ultimate Reed Richards could have easily stolen the show, good ole’ 616 Reed proved that he’s not all that different from his evil counterpart by callously stating that he was better than anyone else, and it didn’t matter if anyone else died.

Which one’s evil again?

3. Not only do we see Wilson Fisk do his thing, I even enjoyed Frank Castle doing his thing.

4. Scott Summers channels the Phoenix Force. Awesome as always.

Rating before reading: 4

Rating after reading: 8
This book was a great read and had moments all will enjoy. While I was probably the only one who gleefully reread the portions in which a few characters of a nameless team were killed, the book will enjoy most avid fans or even partially interested ones. Unlike DC’s Convergence, the learning curve is not super steap with this book. It was easy enough to pick up (it certainly helped that I have active knowledge of the Ultimate Universe) without passing knowledge of anything going on in the Marvel Universe. While Congergence is good, it is only truly rewarding if you have read some or all of their Earth 2 title. Secret Wars suffers no such problems in the first issue, employing a concept elegently easy to get behind. Part of this book’s charm is that it felt like a final issue. From page one we are thrust into an end of the world situation and the book pulls out all the stops as every hero does what they can to stop or mitigate the crisis. From Richards trying to make  an arc of scientists to Cyclops rediscovering the Phoenix force, the Marvel Universe’s heroes are on full display here.
Sold, simple, and incredibly easy to follow, Secret Wars #1 made even the most staunch opponent of Marvel smile for a little bit, and I hope it is a sign of things to come.

Once you all get your hands on the book, let me know what you think.

Until the next time,


I promise that’s the last pun I’ll make this post. It’s been a while, but nothing seemed blog worthy lately. Until today.

I have seen my interest in comics dwindle over the last year. With nary a book left oon my pull list, I struggle to find books to read on a week to week basis. This week saw the release of Mask 2, the follow up to the Masks series from a few years ago. I have long loved pup heroes, and with the loss of the Shadow series a year ago, I have been hard pressed to find something to fill the gap. Today I was very happy to have a book to fill that gap. And damn. I have not been this impressed with a book in a long time. I loved everything about it. It didn’t drudge along trying to tell an origin story (something the original Masks series spent too much time doing). It goes right into the story. I have to admit I’m a little biased towards the Shadow. This book did him great justice (not a pun, but a similarly bad joke). This book could have been titled Shadow and friends, as much of the early plot revolves around him. His character spins circles around Green Hornet, Kato, and Black Terror. And in sensational style, the first words of the book are “Who knows what evil lurks inside the hearts of men?”. In case you didn’t know, it’s the Shadow.

This book is fun for any fan of the pulp hero medium. With jokes being made not at the Shadow’s expence, but because he’s the strangest one of the bunch. To a normal man like Britt Reid, the Shadows a maniac. And the banter between the two of them is sensational.

This book was exactly what I needed. It was fun, refreshing, and most of all nostalgic. It was like seeing an old friend after a long time. I don’t care what becomes of the book, even if it becomes and utter train wreck, I will not forget where it started. The book was senastional and has provided me much amusement. Masks 2 #1 came into my life at exactly the right time, and maybe, just maybe, is proof that I can once again fall in love with this medium I have become so disillusioned with.

Until the next time,


The Death of Dying

Being realistic, anyone reading this probably already knows. But Donatello was supposedly killed in the most recent issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though originally created with no real defining characteristics, Donny has grown into a fan favorite as he has evolved into the technologically savvy and intelligent member of the team. Donny has fallen victim to something that hasn’t happened within the Ninja Turtles universe before, the death of one of the 4 turtles. The past week has seen people clamoring for a copy as the comic book market worships “the death of” issues as achievements. Furthermore, people continue to cling onto the idea that these comics will somehow be valuable.

The sad fact is that none of these issues really retain physical worth. Sentimental worth for sure, but have little monetary value. People have this ridiculous idea that their Death of Superman #1 will pay for their children’s college fund. While this comic has value, this isn’t an issue that will ever pay for even a semester in college.

But I digress; the real topic I wanted to discuss was why we kill comic book characters off anyway. Let us look at Donny’s death. While presented as dead within issue 44, we have solicitations for May’s Free Comic Book Day issue with Donny fully healthy. And while this might not be within continuity, it points out the absurdity that is killing off a comic book character. They will come back. It is inevitable. It happens. To the point where they explain in continuity the fantastical and miraculous way in which a deceased hero (or even villain) makes it back to the land of the living. So why does this continue to happen? Wolverine was killed off about 3 months ago, and yet it is inevitable that he will be back. So why write a subpar books only to bring back the character a few years later.

In a book like All Star Superman, there is a narrative significance in Superman’s death. Today, there is no such significance. It’s seen as an event, almost decadent. Our characters are killed off, often in brutal ways, and we gleefully devour this media knowing full well we’ll get the character back. 

Or let’s look at Marvels (now doomed) Ultimate Universe. Death matters in this universe. Dead characters don’t come back. Yet this only makes the death frenzy more rabid. After Ultimatum (in which half of the Ultimate Universe was killed off) Marvel felt they needed to out due this event, and has almost annually culled the remaining heroes. This only proves that the death frenzy is even worse if the character’s death is deemed permanent.

Thus why do it at all? Death has no story real story significance in the current comic book environment and causes unhealthy and unrealistic expectations by those who frenzy over it. So why do it? Why not focus instead upon writing great narratives for these characters? Why not focus on great interpretations of these characters? Why not use death as a narrative tool rather than a narrative in that of itself?


Until the next time,



Blockbuster: The Comic Book

Here I go again. Thinking I can do this again. Maybe I can, maybe I can’t. Either way, I’m going to post this and go from there. “But you’ve hurt us before with your lies!”. I sure have. I’m not going to apologize, shit happens. Nor am I going to waste time to explaining it. So I’m just going to go right into it.

Recently I saw Kingsman. I thought it was a sensational film and I was so enthused I immediately picked up a copy of Mark Millar’s Secret Service (the source material). Can I just say that the book is awful. It lacks the humor and imagination of the film and proved my opinions right. Millar writes his books in hopes that someone else can make a better film.

Enter Chrononauts. The highly touted Millar and Murphey comic. If you’ve read this blog before you know I’m a big fan of Sean Murphey’s art (you totally can look it up if not). So naturally I was excited for this book. Plus Millars’ Jupter’s Legacy has changed my tune on his works (though Frank Quietly’s art is the big reason I love the book as much as I do). That being said I had hoped that this book would be another solid book on Millars’ pedigree, and with the positive early buzz, I thought it was going to happen. I thought I would be proven wrong. I read it, and aside from Murphey’s solid turn on art (so sensational, I’d pick up the book again, but that’s me). The story however, lacked much to be desired. I felt Millar had just given me an early screenplay he was ready to pawn off to someone with more vision and the skill to follow through with it. Not even 24 hours later was it announced that a movie deal was agreed upon. Look’s like Mark Millar wins again. Some talented visionary will make Chrononauts into a sensation film franchise, and the book will be syndicated and celebrated with hipster and nerd alike claiming they read the book before they saw the movies. Great, so did I. 

This made me think about how often this happens these days. This book landed a deal after the first issue, Lemire’s Descender landed a media deal months before the first issue was in our hands. And the list goes on. So who are comic books aimed towards? It certainly doesn’t seem like they are aimed for us. With Image and Dark Horse and the like being a safe haven for those disillusioned with the big two (Marvel because of it’s gimmicks and over glorification, and DC because no one at the company seems to have a clue what they are doing, what they should be doing, and that their audience is more than just 40 year old white men). That being said, if these independant books are now no longer being written because the writer wants to right a book they have been dreaming up for years, should we dare read them? If the writer is only creating something in hopes of cashing out in film, can we honestly expect the books we are reading to be anything but half assed attempts at a screen play?

This isn’t to say it’s all doom and gloom. We still have books like Saga, Sex Criminals, and the Nameless. Creators like Vaugh, Fraction, and Morrison have proven that they genuinely care about their craft and continue to thrill us with creator owned stories or by with big two properties (like Fraction’s Iron Fist and Hawkeye and Morrison’s everything). But I am rather disgusted by the current trend of creators and comic books in general. I am slowly growing to despise the films based off of these books too. Despite how bad the industry looks, I know there will always be a book I can dive into as long as the likes of Morrison and Vaughn continue to publish books.

I guess I’m not just burnt out about all of the comic book films, but disappointed that the shelves of the comic store are being flooded with books published not in the sake of art or craft or even livelihood, but because someone wants to cash in with a Hollywood exec.

Maybe I’m taking things to seriously and not looking at the big picture. But when will enough be enough?

Until the next time,


The Old 52

With the most recent announcement that 4 original DC titles are getting the ax (Superboy, Birds of Prey, Batwing, and All-Star Western) in August, the remains of the “New” 52 are all but gone. Of all the books DC publishes now, only 21 original titles remain. That’s less than half of the books that were launched. While their are exceptions (Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are getting relaunched, JLI was scrubbed for story purposes, etc) it is still rather alarming to think that the original New 52 has dwindled this far. While DC has added solid replacements such as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn, those serve as the exceptions to DC’s line. The ongoing series’ and the once that have survived are the 21 I have noted above. Of all the books launched to replace books, very few of them exist. Of the Second Wave only Earth 2 survives, with Worlds Finest now joining Batman Inc, Dial H, The Ravagers, and GI Combat. Of the Third Wave, we Phantom Stranger is joining Talon, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7. The next few launched were JLA and Katana, also now gone.

While I will give DC credit for trying new things, with only 23 books on the shelf that have proved to be tried and true, a problem has emerged. Only time can tell if some of DC’s more recent gambits such as JLU, Infinity Man, Constantine, JL 300, and the Superman-Batman/Wonder Woman books will test as well as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn have thus far. To truly succeed and gain back market share, DC is going to need to be bold, but also smart. I posted previously how I felt Marvel’s Hawkeye strategy was effective, and should be emulated. DC needs some help adding titles that can survive in the long run. And with characters like Cyborg, Captain Marvel, and even Lex Luthor gaining increased popularity, DC has the characters to do it. Once again, I’m all for them trying new and bold things, but they need to balance that with books that can and will sell. I may not know exactly what those books look like, but I’m pretty sure all of us out there have many ideas that DC could utilize. For that we’ll have to wait and see what we get to replace these books come October.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What do you think DC has done right and how do you think they could improve for the future?

Until the next time, Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Godzilla

I know I still have an Amazing Spider-Man Two review to do, but this is more recent and thus more pressing. I, like most people found myself incredibly excited for the reboot of Godzilla. I have long been a fan of monster movies, and watched my neighbors boxed set of the original films incessantly as a child. With the billed cast being solid, I had every expectation to thoroughly enjoy the film, as many have.

Yet I found that not to be the case. Instead of being enjoyed and entertained by the film, I was bewildered and put off by it instead. Where people laughed, I was confused and where people were in awe, I was lamenting. This movie did very little to help its own cause, instead the entire film just furthered it’s own dilemma. That of a lack of direction. This film did not fit into any genre. Their were monsters, but they were only really a backdrop in a grand struggle for humanities survival. With the exception, that this film failed to even do that. Rather than show the consequences, the film makes light of it. There is no point in the film where the impact of the massive carnage is ever felt. Instead we see it to the backdrop of Elvis in a casino, or a kid yelling dinosaur at a television screen. The film suffers from a miss match of feelings. When we are supposed to be frightened, the film has us laugh. The film is sending us mixed messages which I found quite jarring. The true genre for this film should have been comedy, as there were very few points in that film that were dramatic or dared to try to weigh the consequences of what was going on.

With the two best actors in the film (Cranston and Watanabe) being relegated to near bit parts so that we can focus on G.I. Generic trying to get back to his wife and child (never seen that one before). We were left with only the monsters to entertain us. Yet Godzilla, in typical fashion, was in the film for maybe 30 minutes. The two villainous EMP monsters were in it for longer, but were mired in a pool of unparalleled incompetence.

Upon leaving this film, I realized that every aspect of this film had been done better at points before. While Pacific Rim was not as well received as Godzilla and didn’t garner an insta-sequel, it was far more enjoyable. It hit all the notes the film was supposed to, as well as giving us more than ten minutes of monster fight scenes. Transformers followed a similar generic solider, but that also managed to deliver as a film. I have already drawn scorn for the parallel, but even the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers movie was more fulfilling in carnage, destruction, and monster fights than Godzilla was.

At the end of the day, Godzilla earns a 4 out of 10 on my books. Not nearly as solid as I had hoped and generally lacking a sense of consequence. 

Favorite part of the film: Laser breath.
Least favorite part of the film: Lieutenant Generic.

That’s all I have time for today, I hope this review finds you well and stay tune for a revamping of content like you’d never expect.

Until the next time,


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,