Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beta Ray Blog has moved!

That's right! After 3 years on Blogger, I have accepted an offer from the Vault Master over at to become a part of his ever expanding network of blogs.

Not much will change, but NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME AGAIN!

This new blog will be pretty cool. Expect even more of Stormbreaker level comic beat downs on the new blog.

See you there!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Will Rick Remender Ruin Venom?

I read this interview with Rick Remender a few weeks ago on Newsarama and I've been letting it stew in my head for awhile. Writer Remender and artist Tony Moore are bringing back Venom in an ongoing series in March. This will involve a new host for the symbiote, as Mac Gargan is going back to the old Scorpion look. The new hook will be Venom as a military black-ops specialist. I have mixed feelings about this announcement. I don't really have a problem with the idea itself, I had a similar idea a few years ago I never did anything with, but knowing the controversy surrounding Remender's run on PunisherItalic I'm just not sure what to expect.

I've decided to break down the interview and hit the points of interest one at a time.

RR: I immediately started having all this imagery — there isn’t really a globetrotting character in the Marvel Universe right now. In terms of a character who could 007 it up...As soon as you hear the idea, you’re like, “That’s actually great. That’s a really great idea.” For this character, those guys nailed it, in terms of the way to deal with making him fresh and new and exciting, and still stay true to who the character is.
Like I said, I actually like the idea overall. The scary thing is "fresh and new and exciting" in Remender-speak may mean, oh, I don't know, turning the Punisher into a Frankenstein monster. I'm still cautiously optimistic.

Nrama: And obviously the identity of Venom’s new host is still a closely guarded secret at this point, but it is a character who is familiar to readers, right?

Remender: Yep. Familiar to readers, but somebody who's been prowling around the Spidey-verse for years and makes a lot of sense for the job.

I honestly have no idea who it could be. Does Spidey know any globe-trotting 007 types? I actually hope it is somebody we don't really know very well, or some random D-lister.

RR: "...Wow. I guess I have to sit down and remember what excited me about the character.”

I did the same thing with the Punisher. That first Punisher miniseries, the one Mike Zeck drew with [Steven] Grant, was such a big deal to me, I loved it so much when I was a kid, that when I took on the Punisher job, I had to sit down to remember, “Why? What did you love about it?” So I did that a lot with Venom.

Uh-oh. Now I get the red flags going up in my brain. I wonder how much of this is just interview BS, because if you have to sit and remember what it is that got you excited about characters you supposedly loved as a kid, maybe you shouldn't be writing them. And please, don't do the same thing as you did with the Punisher.

RR: I love monsters to begin with, and there’s sort of a Jekyl and Hyde aspect to Venom, and a number of other very interesting angles to the character.

No, the Eddie Brock Venom was not Jekyl and Hyde. The Hulk is Jekyl and Hyde. Venom is the story of Faust; the symbiote can give you great power, but will corrupt you over time. All the themes of temptation and revenge are there. Jekyl and Hyde is about the monster that's inside us, Venom is about making a deal with the devil. This is a big difference. Bonding with the symbiote is the deal you make, and eventually leads to being consumed by the symbiote. There is a definite outside force in the story of Venom.

RR: In the book that we’re doing, the military won’t let our host wear the suit for more than two days in a row. There’s all kinds of rules, because that thing bonds with you so quickly.

Why would these rules work? The symbiote is not dumb. Lest we forget Angelo Fortunato, who was abandoned mid-swing by the symbiote, and fell to his death. If the symbiote doesn't like the 'rules', wouldn't it just leave mid-mission?

You get the idea. Plus, Remender says early in the interview that Venom hadn't changed, then says he was always on board with the changes to the character, then says he wants to stay true to the character, then says he is going to do something unique, blah, blah, blah...

Let's face it, I'm going to read this. I like the overall concept and it doesn't seem as stupid as turning the Punisher into a Frankenstein monster. I want it to be good, but I'm also sad Marvel is giving up on the arc they had going with Gargan being absolutely terrified by the symbiote. I thought that still had potential.

I don't want to be That Guy. But I know what happened with Punisher, so just prove me wrong, Remender. I beg you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dr. Jeff Parker (Or How I Learned to Stop Hatin' and Love the Rulk)

What can I say? He did it. Jeff Parker, you magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK! (and liked it, too!)

A few months ago, Jeff Parker announced that he would be taking over the writing duties on Hulk, and he literally begged jaded Hulk fans to come back and read one issue, #25, and see if he couldn't change their minds. He even resorted to bribery. I bit. I like free stuff, and I love Parker's writing as of late (Atlas, Thunderbolts). I said to no one but myself, "You have ONE issue, Parker, to change my mind on Red Hulk!" If you know my short and sordid history with Rulky, you know that this was nigh an impossible task. The one character I hated in the Marvel U more than any other was Rulk. Jeph Loeb pranced him around like a four-year-old bully kicking down sandcastles.

I imagine that Parker got this. He seemed to understand the transgressions committed by this character and his creator. There was a checklist in my mind I was unaware of until I read Hulk #25, a checklist that subconsciously stored every sin I felt had been perpetrated by Red Hulk and Loeb. While reading the book, the items on list began to get checked off.

Rulk had an a-hole attitude, he was allowed (by Loeb) to run roughshod over Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and others and they could barely put up a fight. It reminded me of two kids playing, one saying "A-ha! I got you!" and the other responding annoyingly, "Nuh-uh, I'm invincible!" Nobody likes that kid. And that is what Loeb was doing.

In one issue, Jeff Parker redeemed the sins of Red Hulk and Loeb by recognizing this subliminal checklist and hitting it item by item. And in return I added Hulk to my pull list to ride this out and see where Parker can take this character, now that he is no longer a spoiled brat, and is being to forced to clean up the mess he made. It is just too bad that Parker has to be the one cleaning up, as if Loeb was a bad dog who messed on Marvel's carpet.

The promise of Thor teeing off on Rulk's head doesn't hurt either.

Seriously, if you are a Hulk fan, and hated the Red Hulk stuff, give this book a try. I was surprised how much I liked it. Even the back-up story with A-bomb was fun.

Thank you, Jeff Parker! You get it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Star Wars chalk mural, Walking Dead, Calvin and Hobbes

Just some cool things I thought I would link to for you all to see.

Chalk mural artist, former co-worker of mine, and all around cool guy Eric Maruscak did another great piece for the Star Wars Celebration. Check out a time lapse video right here:

and go to his website for more cool stuff.

The trailer for The Walking Dead TV show coming to AMC was officially released, and it looks awesome. If you like zombies, this show is gonna be sweet. The comic is great, and this adaptation looks to be quite faithful to the source material. CHECK IT!

Also saw this sweet comic by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo which is Lex Luthor and the Joker done in the style of a Sunday Calvin & Hobbes strip. So cool!

Doesn't it make you miss Bill Watterson's masterpiece?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sad but True: Scott Pilgrim a Bob-omb

This article about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as 'box office bob-omb' should be labeled sad but true. I truly loved this movie, I thought it was fantastically original and creative. But ultimately it seems to have failed to find an audience.

I went to see it on the Saturday night the weekend it opened, and even though I live in tragically un-hip Casper, Wyoming, there were only seven other people in the theater with me. I was shocked. After seeing the movie and reading about its poor opening weekend, I became dismayed.

I was able to convince a co-worker to go see it the following weekend, and he loved it as well. I was shocked again when another co-worker (who usually is pretty savvy on cool movies) expressed no interest in seeing it. These are guys that make appointments to see good cinema, and it was registering zero on their radar. The term 'word-of-mouth' doesn't go far enough, this is more of a case of 'evangelism'. Mere recommendations are falling short, no less than total conversion of the uninitiated is required.

The article from linked to above explains in detail how Scott Pilgrim's audience is hard to pin down. It's true, I can't fathom my parents liking this movie. I am most likely right in the wheelhouse of the intended demographic (late twenty early thirty-somethings that like music and classic videogames) and maybe that is skewing my view of it.

Ultimately, I think if given the chance, this movie will appeal to a wider range of audience than it has so far in the theater. Look for this to be a big time seller when it hits DVD and Blu-ray.

Could Scott Pilgrim be this generation's Rocky Horror Picture Show? This is Spinal Tap? Shawshank Redemption?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marvel's Chaos War event sure to get a rise out of you

The promos I'm seeing for Marvel's upcoming Chaos War have perked up my little ears and are making me take notice. The talent and the titles that are coming forth for this event are really exciting. Of course, Hulk, Thor, and others will be tied into this event, but its the resurrected characters that are making me sit up.

Ares is coming back in a one shot. Hercules will make a return. The Dead Avengers looks cool, especially with what looks like the original Vision, Swordsman, and Captain Marvel. And, the coup de grace in my opinion, flippin' ALPHA FLIGHT! Woot!

Is this a cheap knock-off of DC's Blackest Night event? I guess time will tell, but Blackest Night didn't have Vision and Alpha Flight.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a great movie

I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World last night, and I have to say it is one of the most original and entertaining movies I've seen in a long time. Coming into the movie I had only read the first volume of the comic (a problem I 'll soon rectify for sure) and I felt it adapted the comic to film better than any movie save perhaps Sin City.

I couldn't help but be reminded of Sin City while watching Scott Pilgrim, even though they are, thematically at least, completely different movies. Having only read Vol. 1 of Scott Pilgrim and The Hard Goodbye from Sin City, my references may be limited, but I think enough that I can make this comparison.

If you remember back to Sin City, the graphic novel(s) of hard boiled crime-noir, the movie took that premise and ran with it, Robert Rodriguez fully embraced the genre of both noir and comic adaptation, fusing the two into a visually stunning piece that felt like a living breathing comic book by Frank Miller. Groundbreaking at the time and copied to varying degrees of success (300, Watchmen). Scott Pilgrim has a similar formula, a graphic novel of comedy/romance and video game tropes, the movie also fully embraces the source material and fuses them into what a romantic comedy video game might be, brought to life on screen deftly and with a total comprehension by Edgar Wright.

Neither movie pulls back for a second to either pander to a common denominator, or explain ham-fistedly why you are seeing these things in a type of hyper-realism. They both know exactly what they are and what they hope to accomplish, and they both expect the viewer to keep up.

This was the one criticism I had of Inception, my other favorite movie of the year and also an excellent film, was that it seemed to not trust the audience enough to keep up, and thus endless explanations of where the characters were and what was happening throughout kept me somewhat disengaged from the movie at times. Sin City and Scott Pilgrim put you into their unique worlds and keep you there as a citizen under their own rules of reality.

One beef I have after seeing Scott Pilgrim that actually has nothing to do with the movie itself, was Brandon Routh appeared in the movie for a total of about ten minutes and engages in more action than in the entirety of Superman Returns, and shame on you Brian Singer for wasting that opportunity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hulk-mania! Jeff Parker is cool and so is Hulkington Post

Just some updates I wanted to share:

Cool new site for fans of the Hulk, The Hulkington Post. You should check them out, if only because they have a cool name. You can (and should) also follow them on Twitter @HulkingtonPost. It looks like they are just getting started, so help 'em out!

In other Hulk news, Jeff Parker will be taking over writing duties on Hulk with number 25. Perhaps you recall (probably not) my infuriation at the direction the title took, dragging on and on with the Red Hulk crap. I dropped the title around #8 or so in disgust. Well, Parker, the writer of some great and current ongoing series at Marvel, announced on his blog that the first 75 people who emailed him promising to try Hulk #25 he would send a signed comic. He wanted a chance to convince people to read Hulk again and what can I say, I like free stuff. I especially like Parker's work on Thunderbolts and Atlas. I received a signed copy of World War Hulks: Classified #1 and true to my word, I ordered up a copy of Hulk #25.
The word must have gotten out that Loeb's run on Hulk and the whole Red Hulk thing were not that popular. Parker has one issue to convince me, and if anyone can do it, it's him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Batman Beyond!

I just finished reading Superman/Batman Annual #4. This story takes place in the Batman Beyond universe and picks up right where the animated series left off.

It is a superbly written comic by Paul Levitz that explores what happened to Superman and Metropolis after he was released from Starro's control. If you were a fan of the animated series, this comic cranks it up a notch. The story is as dark as the show was, and hits all the right notes to expand on that established universe.
It is really more a story about the Superman of that world, and after being under the control of Starro for so long, and then disappearing, what effect his absence has had on Metropolis. This issue leads into the Batman Beyond mini-series that is coming out soon.

As a fan myself, I am very encouraged by this issue. I want to see more of the Batman Beyond world in comics. It really works here, and I'm excited for more.

Best panel of the comic:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Avengers movie line-up?

Over at i09, this poster made a movie poster depicting what we already know about the upcoming Avengers movie. Could this be our Avengers line-up?

Here is the link.

And here is the picture:
There are also rumors of casting Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but if the comments of the rumored actor are true, I want no part of the Ultimate Hawkeye. I demand purple tights and a bow and arrow!!!

Here are links to the concept art for Captain America's movie costume and Thor's full costume. I hope they are planning a little more variety on Thor from the waist down, and a winged helmet. PLEASE let there be a winged helmet!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spoiler-ific Capsule Reviews

This week I got some comics, B.P.R.D. : King of Fear #5, Hellboy in Mexico one-shot, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1, Dark Avengers #16, Siege #4, The Return of Bruce Wayne #1, and Thor and the Warriors Four #2. I will warn you, I am going to review each one with no regard for spoilering them, so proceed with caution!
Here we go!

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1When I saw the solicit for this mini-series, I thought, "Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Kaare Andrews!? SOLD!" After I read it, I was left scratching my head and turning up my lip...egh. I thought Andrews work on Spider-Man: Reign was fantastic, but I'm not sure what happened here. Emma Frost looks like a blonde sack of potatoes. And the fact that the X-Men spend half the book arguing about African politics just doesn't interest me. I don't usually drop a book after one issue, but in this case I'll make an exception.

B.P.R.D. : King of Fear #5
This series was advertised as the end of the so called "War on Frogs" and it ends with a bang. I have to admit that I am not completely caught up on the Hellboy universe, and I only started this series because Lobster Johnson was in the beginning, but this issue brings some big changes to the world and the nature of the B.P.R.D., who are now under the control of the U.N. And I'm not sure what is going on with Abe, but I hope the next mini Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plane sheds some light on his new direction. Good stuff, but I wouldn't recommend reading it with out being somewhat up to speed. Oh, and I don't know who the tea drinking robot in the Jules Verne style submarine is, but I heartily approve!

Dark Avengers #16 & Seige #4

I'm gonna hit these both together. Let me say that I was on board after "Secret Invasion" wrapped up with the Dark Avengers (though I wished they had just stayed Thunderbolts, I thought that was working great) and I was interested to see where it was all headed. Now, I'll say that I am SO GLAD this CRAP IS FINALLY OVER! About halfway through this arc I became completely fed up with Norman Osborn. And joy of joys, Sentry is dead! This character has held the Marvel universe hostage for far too long, and except for the truly awesome Age of The Sentry, I hope we can all just pretend he never existed. Steve Rodgers in back, basically as the new Nick Fury, and Thor has a big mess to clean up. Lets move on and be glad this little episode is behind us.

Thor and The Warriors Four #2
I am digging this series. It is fun and awesome. I don't care what you think about Power Pack. Beta Ray Bill shows up for this one, which is great, and has to continually assert that he is NOT a horse, or a 'Thorse' for that matter (half Thor, half horse!). Sure it is silly, but I recommend it. And the cover is hilarious!

The Return of Bruce Wayne #1

One word: Awesome!

Hellboy in Mexico

Two words: Totally awesome!