Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

TL:DR – Gorgeous production values, superb set pieces, throbbing thumping background score and isolated moments of goosebumpy brilliance cannot make up for a muddled script that ultimately makes up for a inconsistent and frustrating movie. Oh and Batfleck is actually pretty decent in the role

 

BvS Dawn of Justice

 

Full Review

 

“It begins as a whisper… a promise… the lightest of breezes dances above the death cries of 300 men. That breeze became a wind. A wind of freedom… a wind of justice… a wind of vengeance”… This is how the sequel to 300 begins and words that particularly pertinent to BvS. 300 was the movie that made Zack Snyder his name so as to speak and quite literally landed him the keys to the DC Kingdom

 

The whisper, the promise was the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the set of interconnected yet standalone movies that would prove to be a perpetual money spinner. The wind being the others, Sony attempted to do a Spiderman Connected Universe, Fox wanted to do one with the X-men and Fantastic Four, both Sony and Fox with their Marvel properties and then not to be left behind, Warner Brothers with their whole library of DC characters

 

Man of Steel (MoS) was the Superman re-launch vehicle and it was never considered to be set up the DC Universe but things did fall propitiously into place. MoS was in tone a different beast from the MCU. Grim, somber, you could call it realistic and the ensuring carnage when Superman and Zod, 2 beings possessing superhuman strength reducing downtown Metropolis to rubble earned a lot of critical disdain but definitely helped set up BvS (Yes, I am aware of the irony of talking about realistic given the context of super humans dueling in midair and leveling cities)

 

BvS starts off with the obligatory death of Bruce Wayne’s parents and then moves to the climax of the Superman vs Zod slugfest with Bruce Wayne catching the fag end of it as the 2 duelling superhuman reduce a Wayne office building to rubble fueling Bruce Wayne’s (and hence, Batman’s) hate for Superman. Superman does not approve of the increasingly violent Batman who brands and marks criminals and Lex Luthor plays the neurotic puppeteer orchestrating the gladiatorial death match advertised in the title.

 

I admit I did love MoS. Snyder has a reputation of being a style over substance director and MoS was a nice break from that reputation. The movie did go over what it meant to be Superman in this age of cynicism and selfishness and until the obligatory requirements of action set pieces befitting a summer superhero blockbuster movie intervened, an examination into the choices a conflicted super-being had

 

BvS falls into the same category. It is grim and dark. But where it really suffers from is a lack of identity. The movie has to serve as a sequel to MoS, introduce Batman to this universe and act as a set up for the Justice League movie. Even with these spinning parts, the movie tries to touch on Superman’s identity in a world that maybe does not need him, the broader political ramifications of the actions Superman takes, who is he answerable to, why is Batman so bitter, what is Wonder Woman searching for, who are the other meta humans, coupled with (k)nightmare/ dream sequences that our heroes faces. A whole lot of balls up in the air and predictably the movie crumbling under the weight of all the moving parts, fails

 

But what a failure. What a glorious failure. This is a failure that reeks of ambition. A simple competent script that really doesn’t do much plot wise, moves it along using Maguffins, snappy repartees, a bit of nostalgia and longing (ala Avenger/ The Force Awakens) would have definitely worked better but would not have distinguished it from the increasingly saturated and almost uniformly sanitized superhero releases in the market

 

Coming to the performances itself, Ben Affleck is a surprise. The outcry when he was announced to be Batman was shrilly negative to put it mildly and his turn as the brooding, dark, gritty, grizzled and violent Batman is great. He also gets a great combat sequence that beats any from previous Batman movies. Cavill as Superman continues his good work and his confusion and internal conflict on the role Superman has in society is well etched. However, he does kind of get second billing, not just in title or credits but also in terms of his impact in the movie (except for the climax). For someone who barely has 16 lines in the movie, Gal Gadot steals the show whenever she appears on screen. While the trailers definitely spoiled the moment of the movie before hand, it still is a massive moment when Wonder Woman enters the fray accompanied by a frantic tribal background score.

 

Trinity.png

 

On the flip side, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor just did not work out. While I understand the direction DC wants to take, there are certain canonical things you don’t mess around with. You don’t make Lex Luthor a combination of Lex, Joker and the Riddler. With this usual tics and nervous energy hammed upto 11, this was a rather painful Lex Luthor. Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter get to play significant cameos in the movie with Irons proving to be a total delight as Alfred

 

The titular Batman vs Superman fight is bloody awesome and worth the hype. It would have definitely helped if the Doomsday reveal hadn’t happened in the trailer but that conflict is also quite awesome and things really perk up once Wonder Woman gets into the action. The Justice League set up/ introduction takes a leaf from the Marvel movie and definitely as clumsily shoehorned into the plot

 

Critics have shredded the movie and I don’t blame them, but it definitely is not as bad as it is made out to be. Yes, there is a sense of disappointment and frustration given the hype, the expectation and the almost unbelievable sense of buildup for the last 30 odd months (ever since the announcement at San Diego Comic Con) but given this is the dawn of Justice League, one cant help but still be excited and hopefully, now that this bogeyman is off the back. Bring on the Suicide Squad, up next!!!

 

PS: Lex’s warning/ premonition on the big bad coming and the (k)nightmare with the Omega symbol and parademon could pretty much only mean Darkseid na.. Dang, that is awesome…

 

PPS: Flash coming back in time to warn Batman again is as much a DC lore as it can get

 

PPPS: Cool callout to the Wonder Woman movie. Given Gadot’s limited screen time and yet great impact, we are properly primed for that movie. Oh and Chris Pine 🙂

 

PPPPS (last one I promise): First thing I did coming home was to grab Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns to go through the epic Batman vs Superman fight and Batman’s majestically epic takedown dialog to Superman

 

 

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“You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet. I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative”

These lines uttered by the incomparable Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in Iron Man, was the seed that excited all of us, towards the Avengers project. An excitement that kept on increasing with the release of every subsequent Marvel movies, creating the concept of a shared universe & ultimately, the dream of many a fan in the form of the Avengers movie. With so much excitement & expectation riding on the movie, the overriding fear was that the movie would disappoint. However, in the capable hands of Joss Whedon, the answer is a resounding positive thumbs up & it’s a movie that not just satisfies but delivers a compelling fun filled action packed summer blockbuster movie

Avengers Assemble!!!!

 

The Avengers movie is a strange beast. In itself, it’s the first of (hopefully) many Avengers movie while on the other hand, it is the culmination of the multifarious threads drawn from the Iron Man, Hulk, Thor & Captain America movies. It has the advantage of the stars already established with their characters but also faces the challenge of introducing new characters in this movie while also ensuring that all characters get their due & no one character runs away with the movie (RDJ as Iron Man does his best to do so)

One of the biggest fears is a movie like Avengers lies in the storyline. A dense storyline especially for the 1st movie could sink it. Whedon avoid this problem by keeping things very simple. Loki wants to use the Tesseract, a cube of enormous cosmic power, to rule the Earth with the aid of his army. The stakes are sufficiently high enough for the mightiest heroes of the world to unite against Loki to save the day

Sounds simple enough. Except that with great superpower comes great super ego. The fun in a movie like this is watching the heroes stand together & fight a common enemy. However, the real fun in the movie is watching the clashes between Iron Man, Captain America & Thor. Each of these heroes bring their own personalities quirks to the table & as Bruce Banner says “We are not a team but a time bomb”

Whedon brings his A-game to the movie. The pacing is just about perfect & the dialogs & the one-liners are snappy & humorous to keep the audience engaged. RDJ as Iron Man pretty much is the rock star of the movie. Snarky, independent, & with loads of attitude, he pretty tries to run away with the movie. Chris Evans as Captain America is solid. To be fair, his was the character that I thought would get lost in the movie but his portrayal as the man out of time & trying to do the right thing is brilliant. His standing up to RDJ & taking charge of the team comes naturally.

Marvel had tried a couple of Hulk movies before this with not that great a success. However, on the basis of Mark Ruffalo’s performance, the calls for a 3rd Hulk movie should increase. Ruffalo is included in the team primarly as a Gamma Ray expert than for Hulk but its amazing to watch him battle the beast within. His performance as Bruce Banner is brilliant as well as heart breaking when he responds on the number of ways he has tried to escape the beast. As Hulk, he provides some of the best moments on the movie. & the look on Loki’s face. You will realize what I am talking about when you see the movie. (Trust me, it is one of the scenes of the movie)

Joss Whedon’s strength in developing well rounded & strong female characters was pretty evident in Buffy as well as the ill-fated Firefly & Dollhouse & this extends to Avengers as well. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow gets a really good character development compared to the Iron Man 2 movie. Her introduction interrogation scene as well as her interrogation with Loki are brilliant. Her interactions with Bruce Banner & Hawkeye are compelling.

The SHIELD members in the form of Nick Fury & Agent Coulson get key roles. It is great to see Nick Fury take up the leadership role compared to the small roles that he had been getting in the other movies. Agent Coulson, now a firm fan favorite, gets to play a very key role & goes further in cementing his place in everyone’s mind. We also get our first introduction to Maria Hill (Fury’s right hand). She does not have that big a role to play in this movie but might expand in the forthcoming movies.

Thor has the best introduction of the lot. He is sufficiently arrogant & physical as befitting a god. However, in the roster of actors, his is the one that gets a bit short changed & there has not been much of a difference between his role from Thor. Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye gets his first proper role in the Avengers universe & he does justice to his role & does not feel out of place for a bow & arrow guy (Jeremy Renner has now become part of several multi-starrer movies with most of them becoming good hits. His real challenge would be to prove that he can carry a movie on his own & achieve commercial success. The Bourne Legacy ought to be interesting in that regard)

Loki was probably the most conflicted character of last year based on his performance in Thor. While none of the internal conflict appears in this movie, he is still a compelling villain. He is so compelling because he is in fact weak & is driven by the need to prove himself worthy & to be better than Thor. Tom Hiddleston captures that lean hungry famished visage brilliantly.

The action sequences are suitably over the top for a summer blockbuster movie & the takedown of New York is awesome. There is so much & more packed in the 2 hours that there is no dull moment.

The only real drawback is the lack of an engaging background score. At no point in the movie did there seem a distinct background score standing out to identify it was an Avengers movie. Most superhero movies have  a distinct score to help identify themselves. Superman with that regal John Williams score or Nolan’s Batman with that haunting brooding Zimmer score or Iron Man with the Rock score are clear stand outs.

The other major drawback is that only Marvel Studios knows when the next Avengers movie is going to come out. Gosh, the wait already seems unbearable.

In short, go see the Avengers. One of the best & definitely, one of the most fun superhero movies.

PS: “Hulk Smash” has to be one of the lines of the movie

PPS: The SHIELD Helicarrier did not disappoint. It performs the same role as it does in the comics. (& its not what you think)

PPPS: As is their wont, a nice after the credits scene

PPPPS: Not fair from Marvel to add another after the credits scene for the US markets & not release it for international audiences L

Stunned & still shocked on listening to this news. Considering it was only yesterday, that I had praised your adaptation of All Star Superman to high heaven. It is indeed shocking. Thanks you Dwayne McDuffie for all those episodes of Justice League TV series you wrote. Season 4 was the best and thank you again from writing such a phenomenal TV series. Best TV viewing of my life. RIP

First thing first, I am not a fan of the Big Blue as I am of Batman & Wolverine. It is not his fault really. The creators & writers of Superman have made him so powerful & loaded him with so many powers; there is not much that he cannot do. Most of the time (especially when working with other superheroes), Superman is pretty much negated by random events or sent on a different quest, to amplify the sense of danger. Despite all the indifference & general boring-ness of Superman, there is no sight as gratifying in comic books to watch Superman flying in at the last minute to save the day. Superman represents Hope (Sorry, Barry Allen) stronger than any other comic book character. He is truly iconic

All Star Superman

Some of the best Superman stories are the ones which normally take place in an elseworld scenario or an out of continuity storyline. Mark Millar’s Red Son is one such storyline which involves Superman’s spacecraft crashlanding in Soviet & changing the face of the Cold War. Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman is another book that is an all time Superman classic because it is unashamedly a love letter to Superman, detailing all those qualities of Superman that make him really special & in a sense, the ideal characteristics that any human being should strive for.

DC Entertainment & Warner Bros Animation take the comic to the next level & make All Star Superman as a movie & How does the movie fare? First things first, you know the cliché, the movie is never as good as the book. It holds true. However, comparing the movie to the comic & saying it does not do a good job is like comparing the Sun to the star Sirius & saying that the Sun is not bright enough. What the movie accomplishes is capturing the key ideas that Morrison has and bringing it to life on the big screen, while maintaining the spirit of Superman all throughout, in some cases, by using the exact same panels from Quitely’s outstanding art work & panels.

Lex Luthor poisoning & condemning Superman to a slow death & The Man of Steel spending his remaining time on Earth doing good, saving the planet, making peace with himself & trying to advance the world forms the tent of the storyline. Grant Morrison has 12 issues to chart out the 12 impossible tasks (ala 12 labours of Hercules) that Superman achieves in his remaining time on Earth. This being a brisk 76 min movie, some of the tasks are retained, some condensed & some dropped.

With time running short, Superman confides to Lois Lane that he is Clark Kent & tried to forge a much more meaningful relationship with her. Lois Lane’s reaction & her subsequent refusal to believe the same are well shot. Similarly, her birthday gift & Superman’s impossible task has been captured beautifully. Plus there is the iconic panel shot at the end of Lois’ birthday that is beautifully brought to life.

At the other end, one has Lex Luthor on the death row, still supremely haughty & arrogant & suffused with megalomania. His interview with Clark Kent & subsequent comparison he makes of Clark Kent & Superman is amazing. In fact, the entire prison sequence where Superman in the guise of Clark Kent tried to save Luthor from a prison riot while keeping Luthor unaware of Superman’s action has been awesomely shot.

The last act which involves Luthor escaping from jail, armed with Superman serum that lasts for 24 hours, while Solaris the tyrant star, approaches to extinguish earth’s sun & the Man of Steel close to death culminates in a fantastic finale.

While most of the threads from Morrison’s work has been captured, there were a few that really should have made it to the movie at the expense of the others. The plot line involving the 2 missing Kryptonians taking up residence on Earth, & remodeling Earth after Krypton, while insulting Superman was probably needless. Superman talking to a suicidal girl & encouraging her to embrace life should have really made it to the screen as is the plotline involving Superman’s dad’s death. That was particularly poignant. Both the sequences help us understand who Superman really is.

As always, the voice casting is phenomenal. James Denton as Superman was brilliant. He was able to easily differentiate his voice when playing Clark Kent & Superman. Christina Hendricks as Lois Lane was a revelation. She got into the skin of Lois fantastically well. At times playful, at times purposeful, at time paranoid, always hopeful, Christina nailed it. Ultimately though, it was Anthony LaPaglia as Lex Luthor who was the scene-stealer. Haughty, arrogant, contemptuous, mocking & with a hint of madness, Anthony plays Lex Luthor perfectly. His conversation with Clark Kent in prison conveys all of that & more.

Kudos to Dwayne McDuffie. Adapting a 12 issue, packed with details story to a 75 min movie is no mean task. Sam Liu, Bruce Timm & Andrea Romano continue their stellar work in the DC Universe. Considering DC’s success adapting epic & iconical storylines to the animated screen, one can say that this team is behind all of it.

Next, Batman: Year One anyone?

Rating: 9 out of 10

PS: The initial few seconds when the voice-over starts with “Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple” and then, depicting Quitely’s panels as they are on the comic, is total goose bump raising. I think I fell in love with the movie at that point itself

First Panel

Who is Batman???

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Comics
Tags:

If there’s any motherf@#$er out there that can overcome being set upon by a villain pretending to be your dad leading a club of villains in a prolonged assault on your sanity forcing you into going insane under the cover of a separate identity based on a Silver Age story in order to overcome your enemy and escape a chopper crash in order to join the other heroes for a final crisis wherein you shoot the God of Evil whom also manages to blast you and kill you only you lived and actually got sent back in time where you skip forward through various lives until you defeat said Evil God’s ultimate weapon that has come to resemble the bat demon and is also the guy pretending to be your dad . . . it’s BATMAN….

One Kryptonite powered punch coming up

Wattay description from Newsarama

Source: Newsarama.com

In an alternat reality, you have Calvin & Hobbes being played by Lex Luthor, the megalomaniac-al genius, constantly foiled by his arch enemy Superman and Joker, the maniac & psycho, with grand designs on unhinging Batman, coming together for a conversation. Brian Azzarelo & Lee Bermejo channelize their inner Bill Watterson to write & draw respectively, a comic strip for the 75th issue of the Superman/Batman series.

Total psychotic hilariousness. Please Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo, more of the same please.

Image source: comicbookresources.com

“If you follow any story to its real conclusion, you always get the same thing. Regret. Pain. Loss. Except for superhero books with their perpetual second acts ” – Mitchell Hundred, ex-mayor of NYC

What happens when an ordinary civil engineer, with a fondness for the Brooklyn bridge and DC comics, gets a super power that allows him to talk to machines? What happens when the same guy, now operating under the name of “The Great Machine” and considered public enemy #1 by the NYPD, gives up his role and becomes the mayor of New York? This forms the premise of the creators Brian K Vaughn (writer) and Tony Harris (artist) political cum superhero comic series Ex Machina, that concluded its 50 issue run last week. Brian K Vaughn describes creating Ex Machina and its main protagonist, Mitchell Hundred, as a result of his anger at the political leadership (from both parties) in USA.

Ex Machina takes a look at Mitchell Hundred’s 4 year reign as the mayor of New York with frequent flashbacks to his time as The Great Machine during the course of its 50 issue run. A flashback that involves Hundred’s actions on the fateful day of 9/11 and his subsequent victory. From censorship to the ban on drugs to same sex marriage to anti-war protests to abortions, Ex Machina, through Mitchell Hundred, is unafraid of tackling these issues head on.

The Great Machine
Each story arc (there are 10 in all) follows certain thread; a political issue, Hundred’s past as the Great Machine and concurrent storyline involving the mysterious-ness of Hundred’s powers manifesting in other people. The resolution of the political issue is often shaped by Hundred’s own past as well the recent incidences of the manifestation of the powers in others and quite often flows naturally. The problem in most books when involving political action are the forced nature of the action. However, in Ex Machina, the reason for Hundred’s actions seem natural and are not preachy at all. This has to be the greatest achievement of BKV

Intriguing and fleshed out characters, powerful emotions, grand yet quirky ideas set amidst powder keg settings are stock in trade for BKV over mainstream linear form of storytelling. Take for instance Mitchell Hundred himself. Morally righteous yet naive as both a superhero and as mayor to start with, a fondness for pop culture references, unafraid to speak his mind even in front of a radio show with questions about whether he is gay or not as well as drug usage. This is apart from his super powers, which is his ability to talk to mechanical devices as well as the strange dreams that he gets, forcing him to design unique objects. Mitchell Hundred is a character who raises as many questions as he answers.

A rich supporting cast adds further sheen. Rick Bradbury, Hundred’s closest friend and chief of security and Kremlin, a Russian Immigrant, were the team that helped Hundred during his days as the Great Machine. Kremlin, however, is entirely disillusioned by Mitchell’s decision to get into politics and is estranged from him. A deputy mayor who respects Mitchell as much as he questions him, a police commissioner who while reluctantly approving of Hundred the mayor, strongly disapproves of his past as a vigilante and forever threatens him with dire consequences if he reverts back to his super hero persona, a journalist who finds Mitch attractive but has her own agenda, constitute repeating members of the story.

Well begun is half the battle won. The very first issue of Ex Machina grabs you by the unmentionable, weaves in and out across multiple timelines in a non-linear format and culminates in a jaw dropping finale on what actually happened during 9/11. Its not just important to start well but also to finish well. Issue 50 marks the end of the series, again with a narrative that weaves in and out of timelines, packs enough emotional oomph while carefully addressing all the narratives and multiple threads that BKV had woven through the 6 years, while raising a huge lump in your throat as the final chapter enfolds. A concluding issue that has your jaw hitting the floor on multiple occassions.

Make no mistake. Ex Machina is a tragi-comic. The first issue has Mitchell Hundred in present times sitting and ruminating about how the entire thing might be a comic but its still a tragedy and that same narrative is picked up in issue 50. Its an indicator of the how well thought out, structured and layered BKV’s narrative has been. He has worked with a definite plan and it is indeed a towering achievement. However, Ex Machina is not a depressing read really. While the themes are serious, Mitchell Hundred himself in office is a fun character and there are tons of light hearted moments. Issue #40 features one of the best 4th wall bending creations that has BKV and Tony Harris appearing in the comic for an interview with Mitchell Hundred for creating a comic based on his exploits as superhero. With tons of hint hint wink wink moments, it really ranks as one of the best moments of the series.

Tony Harris. What a man, what a superstar artist. BKV’s script requires his characters to act in the comic and the clean lines of Tony Harris convey pitch perfect emotions. His work, deriving from extensive photo referencing, lend an air of realism in terms of poses. Another areas where Harris excels are the camera angles. Its almost uncanny how fundamentally awesome his positioning is. While Ex Machina is not as action intensive as other works, there is still no confusion over the flow of panels and action.

JD Mettler, the colorist, is another phenom at work. The transition schemes are beautifully rendered. Its very clear to see the contrast between the flashback and the present.

Normally, when people ask me “How do you read comics? Are not they just for kids?” and other similar questions, I ask them to try out Y the Last Man and wait for their reaction once they finish it. I have never had someone ask who has read Y the Last Man ask me that question again. I can now hand someone who asks me the same question, a copy of Ex Machina. More contemporary, more hard hitting and dealing with current issues, Ex Machina ranks quite high as the greatest piece of literature I have had the fortune of reading.

“Happy Endings are Bullshit. There are only happy pauses” – Mitchell Hundred, ex-mayor of NYC

Title Source: Pink Floyd: Time (Dark Side of the Moon)

PS: The quotes are in no way spoilers

I have always found it surprising that the creative heads of DC and Marvel have not adapted some of the works for Jeph Loeb into these direct-to-DVD animation movies as one thing that Jeph Loeb has demonstrated is that he writes a comic like it was meant to be adapted into movies (I meant that in both a positive and a negative way). Thankfully, DC has bucked the trend and adapted the Jeph Loeb written “Public Enemies “as a full feature animation movie.

Public Enemies

Public Enemies

Plot-wise there are no major changes with the comic. A chunk from the planet Krypton is heading towards earth and would destroy earth if there is an impact. President Lex Luthor (yes him) believes he can do it on his own while getting rid of Superman in the same process and issues a bounty on Superman’s head. How Superman along with Batman team up to defeat Lex and stop the asteroid forms the rest of the story.

SBPE1It is non-stop riveting action with tons of guest appearances thrown in from the DC Universe. There have been some changes made from the comic and this actually is good for the movie and helps to reduce a lot of unwanted distractions that would have better suited a comic but not the movie. It is in fact heartening that the creators have adapted an existing storyline and that gives hopes for comic book fans that other brilliant works would also get a life in the movie format.

Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman is his usual self which is spectacular. It seems like he was born to voice Batman. Tim Daly as Superman reprises his previous Superman voice overs. But the true star of the show is Clancy Brown voicing Lex Luthor. Considering that he gets a lion’s share of the dialogues, he does a phenomenal job of being the arrogant, snobbish, confident Lex.

While there are a lot of things going for the movie, there are a few drawbacks too. The whole point of this comic was exploring the dichotomy of Superman and Batman and how despite the dichotomy, they remain the truest of friends and trust in each other more than anyone. None of this was captured. It seemed like Batman was merely helping Superman. Another grouse is the ending. It had too much of a Dues Ex Machina feel to it. It seemed that the directors wanted a happy feeling ending and so contrived to get it. The animation quality and the CGI were so-so. I have seen better. The movie borrows directly from Ed McGuinness’s art work and reflect that in their musculature. Superman is heavily muscled with a 12 pack abs (if possible) and so is Batman.

Despite all this, I feel this is a strong effort in the right direction. One hopes to see more such works in the near future from not just DC but from Marvel as well.

Rating – 7/10

Old Man Logan by the superstar team of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven conforms to that. An out-of-continuity take on Wolverine, Millar pays homage to the central theme of a comic which is to have as much fun as possible while allowing totally wacky crazy ideas to filter in. In fact, it is difficult to envisage Old Man Logan in any other form of literature other than the comic medium.

Old Man Logan

Old Man Logan

Set 50 years in the future, a future in which the super-villains have triumphed and have vanquished most of the superheroes, Logan lives in California seemingly settled, with his wife and 2 kids. This is however not the Wolverine of the old. He has not popped his claws since the fateful day when evil triumphed and leads out the life of a seemingly innocuous farmer, struggling to pay rent to the family of Hulk who own the region of California. Logan gets beaten up by the Hulk family for not paying the rent and he is issued an ultimatum to pay up the rent by next month or get evicted. At this juncture, Logan is visited by the former avenger, now blind superhero, Hawkeye who needs Logan’s help to transport a vital consignment to the East Coast and offers to pay him for the trip. Logan agrees reluctantly with the condition that he will not raise his fists on anyone and harm anyone. Hawkeye agrees and the adventure starts.

Its a bleak world that Logan confronts as he traverses across America moving through each super villain’s lair and it takes all of his control not to pop his claws. On the way, the pair encounter all kinds of weird creatures as well as get to face their respective pasts. The consignment that Hawkeye wants to deliver is another part of the puzzle and things take a turn for the worse once the deal is completed. Its pure adrenalin rush after that as Logan takes on the President of the United States and makes a horrendous discovery after an interesting (to put it mildly) mode of transportation back home. And then, its back to doing what Wolverine does the best and it aint pretty (to quote Wolverine).

OML 2

Old Man Logan as a story has nothing new to offer and in fact, could have been covered in a single issue. However, that is a way of looking at it too simplistically. It is not necessary for a comic to be heavily layered or hold things back from the audience to be successful. Millar successfully crafts an absorbing tale which while offering nothing new still is wholesome fun to read. Some of the concepts are so insane that you actually have to read it twice to believe it and they instantly bring a nice big grin to your face. Examples include the venom symbiote bonded with a T-rex that chases Hawkeye and Logan as well as the depiction of places like Hammer Falls and Pym Crossing. Millar is a fan favorite and he proves it why. Millar packs it tons of fan boy moments, right from the Spider Buggy to who the President of the United States is to the conclusion paying a tribute to the Lone Wolf and Cub.

However, the real star of the show is Steve McNiven. Epic is the best description that one can bestow on McNiven’s pencils. There is an entire Western Spaghetti feel to the art of Old Man Logan and all kudos to McNiven for achieving it. Millar has said often that Old Man Logan is a tribute to the Westerns and in particular to Clint Eastwood and McNiven captures it astoundingly. There even is a shot of Logan wearing an overcoat with a fedora to boot. Double Splash pages in every issue illustrating the wackiest concept that Millar came up with is no easy task and McNiven excels. In fact, Old Man Logan is a wholly gorgeous book to look at. The scene that everyone saw coming right from the first issue, of Logan popping his claws is captured in a brilliant two page splash in a wholly simplistic and innovative manner. Everyone who drew Wolverine before must be kicking themselves on how they had not come up with this before.

Old Man Logan captures the true essence of a comic book of being as irreverent as possible while offering oodles of fun. Old Man Logan is pretty much like a typical summer action extravaganza. Read it for the whole experience and it’s worth every minute of it.

Paradox Press’ Road to Perdition, set in Depression-era Chicago is the story of revenge. Chicago, under Capone, is kept under tight leash by an army of strong armed enforcers, who ensure that the mob reigns supreme quashing any sign of dissent and revolt. Road to Perdition is the story of Michael O Sullivan, an honest but ruthless enforcer, whose wife and son are murdered by one of the crime boss’ son. With his surviving son, Michael Jr, O’ Sullivan now takes on the mob to avenge the murders.

Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition

Loosely based on the Japanese manga Lone Wolf and Cub, it is a simple revenge story. But what lets this OGN (Original Graphic Novel) shine are the moments of characterization that the writer Max Collins brings in. O’Sullivan knows that what he is doing is evil but he also wants a good life for his son. While he acknowledges the fact that he has to use his son in his war, he tries to see that Michael Jr. does not enjoy what he does. Plus he feels remorse for every person he kills.

But the real star is the artist Richard Rayner. It apparently took him 4 years to do the art and it is not surprising that the art is of the highest quality. Black and White pencil sketches frame Chicago of the 1930s lending it a bleak quality of no hope. It should also be said that Rayner has been given a big canvas to work on as most of the scenes involve brutal action and intense gun fights with no or minimal dialogue and it falls upon Raynor to let the story flow. However, its in the quiet moments where Raynor really shines. The moment after Michael Jr kills his first victim. This scene is conveyed without any dialogue and Raynor has conveyed the varying emotions on both father and son beautifully and powerfully.

RtP1The action is hard and brutal and intense. There are few moments of sanity before everything hits the fan. Another facet of Road to Perdition that is captivating is the presence of Capone and how O’Sullivan plays a hard game in order to force Capone’s hand.  A very solid read and quite riveting, Road to Perdition is definitely a graphic novel that one should read (in only to drool at the art work)

PS: Road to Perdition was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law and as in all cases, the movie (while being good) could not reach up to the level of the novel, suffering from quite a few changes for the big screen. But the point to be noted here is, it is not just the superhero comics that get translated to the big screen but also other good works (Another example being A History of Violence)