Bug! The Adventures Of Forager – A (Comic) Book Review

This issue is so gloriously weird and so masterfully executed that you have to experience it.  It’s seriously a  must-read book for any comic lover out there.

As part of the Young Animal imprint (which is a division of DC Comics and, apparently, somehow connected to the mainstream content), Bug! The Adventures Of Forager utilizes several of Jack Kirby’s DC contributions, most notably Bug and Sandman.

Let that last sentence sink in a moment …

The first installment of this series is so strange. Bug wakes up after apparently breaking out of a cocoon.  He’s in a basement.  He’s flashing back to Cosmic Odyssey – you may need to “Google” that one.  A ghost girl appears along with a talking teddy bear.  This may be my favorite paragraph ever.

I won’t spoil it further, but if you loved Jack Kirby’s trippy Fourth World, this book is just as  nuts if not more so!  That’s not to say it isn’t well-constructed, though.  Lee and Michael Allred definitely seem to be headed somewhere.  There is a great deal of foreshadowing, and there are also several references to the past — we’re talking before Rebirth, before The New 52, even before Zero Hour — that raise very interesting questions not just about this title in particular but about the Young Animal imprint as a whole.

So along with a wild story and appearances by several revered Fourth World characters, you also have the most beautiful sequential art you will ever see.  Michael Allred is a very special talent.  Every single panel in this book is magnificent.  Not only is he a master of anatomy, but Allred is also able to do something many artists are not — he is able to convey body language and facial expressions that progress the story.  There are no superhero poses in this book.  His characters put actual weight on a single leg while standing, their fingers are never clenched into a superhero fist, and their faces convey actual emotion.  It is wonderful to behold.

Let’s not forget Laura Allred’s colors.  Michael Allred’s pencils and inks are gorgeous, but Laura’s colors amplify them exponentially.  It’s hard to pull of pink, red, and bright yellow in a single panel, but Laura does it and makes it all look perfectly complimentary.  Amazing.

Does this issue make any sense at all as a standalone?  Not really, no.  But, it absolutely lays solid groundwork for what seems to be a focused direction, and the wonderful art, Kirby character appearances, oddness, and general sense of fun make it a must-read issue.  Enjoy!

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Spider-Man 3 – A Movie Review

(I’m almost sure there are no spoilers in this review, but read at your own risk.)

From the get-go, I thought Spider-Man 3 looked a bit … crowded.  I had no idea how they were going to incorporate new angles with Sandman, Venom, and Gwen Stacy, as well as follow up on logical story progressions with Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Harry Osborn, and Aunt May.

Well, in short, the movie lived up to my expectations … it was very crowded.

However, that’s not to say that I thought it was bad. 

In fact, I really enjoyed it.  It moved hyper-fast, with so much going on I literally had to stay on the edge of my seat to keep up with everything, but I did have a lot of fun watching it. 

What I enjoyed the most was the superb acting, but that’s also what makes me the most regretful about Spider-Man 3.  Any one of the film’s multiple plots could have been a very satisfying movie in and of itself. 

James Franco has finally matured as an actor and I found his Harry Osborn both charming and utterly creepy.  He really held his own with Maguire.  I can’t say I cared for his Goblin outfit, but the conflict between the two characters easily could have made for a great film, especially with the chemistry between the two actors.

Thomas Haden Church, always wonderful, brought a depth and sensitivity to Sandman that I wouldn’t have thought possible.  He instantly made me care about the character but his entire subplot was rushed and the audience was totally cheated from what also could have been a remarkable movie by itself.  The Sandman effects, by the way, were out of this world.

Finally, I’m not a huge Venom fan.  I’m not against the character, but I’d much rather see Spider-Man’s classic villains brought to celluloid life.  That being said, I think Topher Grace did a magnificent job with the Eddie Brock character, and the visuals of Venom, while perhaps not everyone’s bag, were pretty disturbing and therefore fun.  I’ve always thought of Grace on par with Maguire in terms of being squeaky-clean, so it was nice to see his arrogant and unlikable Eddie Brock.  In my mind, Grace stole many of the scenes.  That being said, the whole black suit/Venom angle could have been a move all by itself as well.

Instead, they mashed all three of these rich plots together into something that felt like Dr. Frankenstein had gotten into movie making.  Spider-Man 3, while visually captivating and a true action movie, lacked all of the heart and characterization of Spider-Man 2, and lacked the sheer exuberance of Spider-Man 1

Man, it really sounds like I didn’t like Spider-Man 3, doesn’t it?  I honestly enjoyed it very much; I just would have liked to see each of these plots, and actors, given their due.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – A Book Review

Living under the shadow of Sandman and American Gods, Gaiman has difficulty impressing me with other works because those two are so utterly superb. 

Anansi Boys is an unfortunate example of just such a case. 

It tells the story of Fat Charlie, the son of the trickster god Anansi.  Early on in the story his father dies, and Fat Charlie finds himself more relieved than anything.  Fat Charlie’s life continues on with the dull routine most of us suffer, until his long-lost brother appears at his doorstep.  From that moment on, Fat Charlie’s fiancée, job, sanity, and freedom are put in jeopardy.

Anansi Boys begins rather slowly and takes its time establishing the main characters’ traits-perhaps too much time.  However, once the book gets rolling about three-quarters of the way through, it moves very quickly and becomes a bit of a nail-biter.

I wouldn’t consider Anansi Boys one of Gaiman’s must-reads, but it also isn’t something I’d say you should avoid.