5 Ways In Which Living With a Four-Year-Old Is Like Living With a Stereotypical Drunk Frat Boy

  • They have one volume – loud
  • You will need a hazmat suit if using the bathroom after they did
  • If there is a way to spill a drink, they will find it
  • Clothing is apparently optional
  • They love you one second, then hate you the next

 

*Find me on Li.st @ScottWFoley

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Black Science: The Beginner’s Guide To Entropy by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera – A Book Review

This beautiful hardcover collects issues 1-16 of the Black Science comic book series.

You may remember I reviewed a collected edition of Black Science encompassing issues 1-6 back in 2014.  At the time, I loved the art, I loved the concept, I loved the colors, I just didn’t love the characters – I never felt connected or invested.  If you’re unfamiliar with the book, rogue scientist and terrible father Grant McKay creates a machine called “The Pillar” which allows travel between planes of reality.  The machine activates unexpectedly, though, and Grant, his team, his two children, and two corporate malcontents are taken on an unexpected,and possibly fatal, trip through realities.

I do have to say that this edition, which I got for free through Amazon Vine, included 10 more issues than I’d read before.  I must admit that it introduces an entirely new concept, one that is absolutely riveting.  Somewhere between issues 6 and 16, Remender moves beyond simple interdimensional travel and delves into string theory, parallel dimensions, and even multiple versions of people destined to repeat cycle after cycle.  It adds a layer of depth to both the story and characters that I didn’t pick up on in the first 6 issues.

The book itself is gorgeously produced.  It’s over-sized which amplifies the already magnificent art.  It’s got great weight, and the hardcovers are solid and resilient.  The back of the book includes alternate covers from the single issues, sketches and designs, and actual scripts.

With a $49.99 cover price, I imagine you’ll need to be a huge fan of the book or the creators to purchase on your own.  However, this could make a great gift for the serious comic book fan in your life or the science fiction aficionado.  It will definitely be considered an appreciated luxury item by book lovers.

 

All Star Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and John Romita, Jr. – A (Comic) Book Review

I’m the first to admit that Scott Snyder is a gifted writer.  His take on Batman the last seven or so years has been innovative, captivating, and high-quality.  His talent doesn’t end there, however.  You need to read his seminal series, American Vampire, as well as his excellent short story collection, Voodoo Heart.

All Star Batman is a new series in which Snyder will team up with the most gifted of artists for each story arc.  The first couples Snyder with industry icon John Romita, Jr.  The inaugural issue introduces a new conflict with Two-Face, a character Snyder has never tackled before (to the best of my knowledge).

I’ll be honest — the $4.99 price tag turned me off almost immediately.  It’s a little longer than the average comic book, and the cover is a little thicker, but otherwise there is no discernible difference.  It struck me as a cash grab on the part of DC.  Trust me, I looked through all the variants to see if any were priced regularly — there weren’t.  I settled on the awesome Jock cover you see below.

The book is made up of two different story lines.  One features Batman forcing Two-Face on a “road trip” of sorts; the other focuses on Duke, his new partner, and the on-the-job training Duke must undergo.  Frankly, both are overwritten and needlessly muddled.  Snyder has always shown a penchant for putting too much on the page, but this issue set a new precedent.  I don’t mind lots of dialogue, numerous time shifts, or even differing narrative techniques, but only if it works to the benefit of the story.  Snyder did all of these things in All Star Batman #1, but it only served to distract and confuse me.  I’m sure by the arc’s end all will make sense, but I think writers need to also honor the fact that these titles are released monthly and a single issue needs to stand on its own to some degree.  A fantastic example of doing it well is this week’s Superwoman #1.

Also, if I’m being totally truthful, I’ve never been a huge fan of John Romita, Jr.  I find his figures squarish and I just don’t find it pleasing to the eye.  I understand he’s considered among the best of comic book artists, but I personally don’t find his angles or panel placement all that creative or his drawings pleasurable to perceive.

With the inflated cover price, convoluted story, and overwritten dialogue, I really can’t recommend this issue.  It would perhaps be a better idea to wait for the collected edition.  You’ll save both money and frustration in doing so.

Superwoman Issue #1 – A (Comic) Book Review

I’ve been anxiously awaiting Superwoman #1 because of all the Rebirth titles, this one seemed the most creatively ambitious.  If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, Lois Lane now has the powers of Superman. How did this happen?  When did this happen?  Trust me, the book answers all of these questions.

In fact, Superwoman is probably among the best–if not THE best–of all the Rebirth titles thus far.  It is dense with story, yet Phil Jimenez executes the tale fluidly, organically, and creatively.  He actually plays with the narrative style quite a bit, but it works perfectly.  In truth, the technique he chooses enhances the overall quality of the book and makes it very engaging.

But Superwoman not only proved interesting to read, it was also fun!  With no less than two MAJOR revelations, Superwoman kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  It’s one of the few Rebirth books that actually made me think to myself, “I can’t wait to find out what happens next!”  (And generally speaking, I’ve enjoyed most of the Rebirth titles.)

Of course, Jimenez’s art is always exquisite.  It’s so easy to take his talent for granted, but we need to really recognize not just his ability to draw very well, but also the masterful layouts he develops with each panel leading to the next to keep the story moving quickly.

It should also be noted that Superwoman is very well written.  The plot proved absolutely unpredictable and I’m already truly invested in #2, but he also displayed great characterization in not just what characters said, but how they said it.  We knew Lois Lane would be featured in the book, but Lana Lang also ended up having a very large role.  I won’t divulge any details, but I did not see Lois and Lana’s dynamic coming at all, and I loved it.  Honestly, I’ve been reading comic books for 35 years and this is the best depiction of Lana Lang I’ve personally ever read.

Superwoman #1 is fun, unpredictable, well written, expertly drawn, and everything I think a comic book should be.  After the issue’s cliffhanger, I can’t wait to see where Jimenez takes these characters next.

Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison – A Book Review

Grant Morrison is a luminary in the comic book industry.  He has earned every bit of adulation he has acquired over the years.  He is incredibly imaginative and fearless.  Frankly, though, I’ve always found him to be better at big ideas than actual execution.  In past books I’ve read, the concept is always amazing, yet the dialogue and pacing tend to fizzle out near the midway point and lose focus for the remainder of the story.

Wonder Woman: Earth One struck me as odd, consequently, because it suffered from the exact opposite issue.

Before we begin, though, it may be helpful to note that Earth One is a dimension within the DC Multiverse that essentially takes place in the wold as we know it.  Thus far, only Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans have appeared on Earth One.  It is generally a place where the plots are a little more gritty and the heroes a little more flawed.

So I assumed Morrison would go bonkers with all of Greek mythology at his disposal.  I figured he’d take an entirely new angle and regale us with a Wonder Woman never before seen.  He would blow our minds with Greek power cosmic and postmodernist Amazonian idealism.

In fact, none of that happened.  He shook up the status quo a bit by making Steve Trevor black.  This ultimately had no real bearing on the character.  He also unequivocally identified the Amazons as lesbians, which, if you think about it long enough, would seem to make total sense.  He assigned a new father to Wonder Woman as a driving force of the plot, but, frankly, it wasn’t quite as notable as what Brian Azzarello already did with Wonder Woman’s regular DC title.  In other words, it’s fairly bland by Morrison’s standards.  Structurally, it stands up well.  The beginning, middle, and end all work well together with no instances of rambling or wandering.

With all that being said, it’s not a bad story.  It’s just not as original, thought-provoking, or creative as I expected from Grant Morrison.

The bright spot of the book is certainly Yanick Paquette’s beautiful drawings.  His art is streamlined and graceful.  He delivers an Amazon society that is both classical and technologically innovative.  His Amazonian women are powerful and elegant.  Like Cliff Chang, Paquette’s Wonder Woman is a regal warrior brimming with intelligence, confidence, and compassion.  It’s all right there, on her face.

But the star, the single person who makes Wonder Woman: Earth One a true work of art, is Nathan Fairbairn.  I’ve often said that a bad colorist can ruin a well drawn book, and a good colorist can make a poorly rendered book look amazing.  Fairbairn takes a wonderfully drawn book and amplifies it by tenfold.  His colors are bold without being distracting.  They make the drawings pop off the page.  They are an absolute pleasure to perceive.  I won’t pretend to understand the technical aspects of coloring, but I know great colors when I see them.  Fairbairn executed his craft masterfully in this book.

If you’re a Wonder Woman fan, I think you’ll find things to appreciate in this book — certainly the art and colors are worth the price tag alone.  It’s not the most bombastic of Morrison’s work, but it is one of his most direct and concisely delivered.

 

Suicide Squad – A Movie Review

I wanted to love this movie so much.  I wanted to write a great review explaining why you have to go see Suicide Squad not this weekend, not tomorrow, but right now!  I wanted to convince you why you should love this movie.  But I can’t, because I not only didn’t love Suicide  Squad, I’m not even sure I liked it more than just saying it’s “okay.”  This may be a case of building a movie up too much in my head.

Let me say this from the start: I am a die-hard DC fan.  I loved Batman v Superman, and I love the direction they are taking with Justice League and Wonder Woman (which looks to be the best of them all.)  I like the Marvel movies a lot, but I’m not emotionally invested in them.  I’m invested in the DC movies, though.  These are characters and concepts I’ve loved since childhood and I will unabashedly admit that I am totally biased when it comes to DC.  I will find anything positive to say about them that I can, but in the case of Suicide Squad, a movie that I hoped would be so free of convention and expectation that it could swing for the fences, well, there’s not much.

Nonetheless, I’ll try.  Let’s start with why you’ll enjoy this movie.

Margot Robbie stole the show as Harley Quinn.  She was funny, charismatic, and interesting.  Jared Leto was a Joker unlike any we’ve seen before and creepy beyond belief.  I could have watched an entire movie of these two and been totally satisfied.  Viola Davis had ice running through her veins as Amanda Waller, and she proved really interesting to watch as well.  There were also some very cool cameos, some of which were unexpected and delighted the DC fanboy in me.  Captain Boomerang didn’t say much, but his body language and facial expressions always drew my eye to him — he kept me entertained.

Some things that didn’t really do it for me include hokey dialogue.  I mean, at times, the characters said things that were just flat out goofy – not funny, not ironic, not inspiring, just goofy.

Also, Killer Croc never quite looked right next to the rest of the crew.  He was a little too “special effects” compared to the relatively homemade look of Boomerang, El Diablo, and Harley Quinn – he’d take me out of the movie every time I saw him.  Croc is supposed to have a skin condition making him appear to have scaled skin, but they made this Croc literally part crocodile.

I’ll admit that Deadshot was an awesome character, and when his mask was on, he was cool as could be.  But every time that mask came off, I saw Will Smith.  I saw Will Smith as Will Smith playing Deadshot.  I can’t help it.  It’s not his fault, he did a great job with the character and came through in the action scenes. I just always see Will Smith when I see Will Smith.

At first glance, El Diablo seemed really complex and visually striking, but as the movie unfolds, he just becomes a cliche wrapped in a stereotype.  His climatic scene made me groan a little.  I feel like they really dropped the ball with him, especially because of the importance they gave him in delivering the Squad’s concept to the audience.

Oh, man, it sounds like I didn’t like Suicide Squad, which is certainly not the case.  I liked it, but there was just so much going on — there was actually too much going on, if I’m being honest.  At times I felt like I was on overload, and that’s when I stopped caring about the movie.  By the end, I really didn’t care one way or the other what happened to anyone because there was just sooooo much going on all the time!

For example, each character had a backstory presented at the front end of the movie in fun and creative ways.  Very cool.  But then, more characters arrived throughout the movie, with more backstories, and I still had to care about those first characters, and there are lots of different plots going on, and so much action, and lots of bad dialogue, and …

So, I won’t spoil the movie, but it goes all in on the Enchantress.  I mean, magic is a major, major influence in this movie.  There’s also lots of bullets.  And razor boomerangs.  There’s a dude who can light himself on fire.  There’s another guy who specializes in ropes, which is kind of lame.  There’s also the crocodile guy.  Oh, and Will Smith with a cool beard and a shaved head.  There’s also a great story line involving Joker and Harley Quinn which utilizes several flashbacks and depicts Joker in a way never before seen.  We’ve also got the Enchantress thing, which I can’t really go into, but it ends up devouring the film, and, for me, taking it in too strange of a direction compared to what occurred previously.

Truthfully, it seems like there may be no less than three movies taking place in Suicide Squad.  The Joker and Harley Quinn stuff would have made a great movie all by itself.  Amanda Waller putting together the Suicide Squad for a straight forward military movie could have been it’s own thing.  All the magic stuff with Enchantress could have carried an entire film, just with different characters such as Dr. Fate, Deadman, John Constantine, or Zatanna.

In the end, Suicide Squad tried to do too much – too many plots, too much backstory, too many blurred genres that didn’t mesh well, too much hokiness.

I hate to say that because I really wanted to love this movie.

Should you go see it?  If you’re really into Harley Quinn or the Joker, I think it’s worth the price of the ticket.  They were both so unsettling and magnetic — really fun to watch.  If you just want an action movie that’s busy, fast-paced, and full of color, then I think you also  will be satisfied.  Otherwise, though, you’ve seen most of the best parts already in the trailer.