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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Miller

So, remember in October 2009 when Maggie and I put together that post about which licensed properties we’d like to see made into comics? Apparently, the comics gods have been paying attention. Last week, we were ecstatic when BOOM’s Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns popped up on shelves. Lo and behold, this week I wander into my local shop to be  surprised by an IDW Jurassic Park book. Holy shit, inner child. We’ve hit paydirt!

Or so I thought. You see, there is only so much you can do with a franchise like Jurassic Park. The first novel/movie is about the whole Isla Nublar theme park thing, the second one is about evil corporations trying to open a theme park of their own with the dinosaurs on Isla Sorna, and the third is about William H. Macy’s moustache accidentally wandering onto Isla Sorna. Other than those three plots, is there really much you can do that isn’t just a rehash of one of the old ideas?

Turns out, no. No there isn’t. Jurassic Park: Redemption takes place 13 years after the first movie. John Hammond is dead and has left his fortune to Lex and Tim. While Lex uses her share to found an organic vegetable company in Costa Rica and keep people off of Isla Sorna and Isla Nublar, Tim tries to redeem his grandfather by opening an all-herbavore version of Jurassic Park. I think? This book cuts back and forth from scene to scene so fast, I can’t figure out what’s happening. Meanwhile, near Dinosaur Valley State Park, Dr. Henry Wu is breeding a bunch of other dinosaurs for another theme park run by some mysterious shadowy figure (because people don’t fucking learn).

While writer Bob Schreck has been in the industry for a long while, he’s only ever done work as either an editor (most notably on All-Star Superman) or art director at Comico. Pair this with the fact that artist Nate Van Dyke is best known for drawings of chimps, concept art for the 2009 Iron Man video game, and a few strips for Heavy Metal, and you see that this book is essentially being helmed by people who haven’t really done this kind of thing before.

As with a lot of first issues, this seems to just be setting things up for later and, I have to admit, this book could have a lot of potential. Ignore the fact that its main characters are the two most annoying characters from the franchise (as I said in the aforementioned post, “Nobody cares what happened to Lex”). Ignore that the only thing IDW seems to be excited about is its somewhat impressive roster of cover artists (Frank Miller, Arthur Adams, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson, and William Stout). It’s a book about dinosaurs, something that is nigh impossible to fuck up for somebody who grew up with the Jurassic Park franchise. Besides, it could be worse. It could be that terrible mid-90’s Topps run (available in trade form from IDW soon, no joke).

So, a couple days ago over on DC’s The Source blog, they put up a weird cover for a “Red Lantern/Red Arrow” cover tribute to Neal Adams’ Green Arrow Vol. 2 #76. I saw it, kinda went “Well, that’s odd,” and left it at that. Being a gigantic nerd about the show Fringe (to the point where I’m nerdily excited for Wildstorm’s upcoming Tales From the Fringe book), I was psyched for last night’s season finale. And then I saw that cover, along with four others on a wall behind Peter. The Source is going to reveal them in detail later today, but I kiiiinda got some sweet screencaps and figured, screw it, let’s look at them a little early.

From what I can tell, there’s alternate universe tributes to the covers of George Pérez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #3, Dan Jurgen’s Superman Vol. 2 #75, Neal Adams’ Green Lantern Vol. 2 #76, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns #1, and Kevin Maguire’s Justice League #1. Awesome!

Check out The Source later today to see the covers in full detail.

Ultimatedaredevilandelektra1As I said in my last post about Greg Rucka’s female characters, I’ve been hunting for a copy of his four-issue run on Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra for a while now. I finally came across a copy earlier today, in a discount bin at my favorite hometown comic shop. I snapped it up and immediately sat down to read. As he’d done with the Huntress and other angst-ridden female characters in the past, Rucka took another crack at defining what drives angry, tragic vigilante women and his conclusions were, as usual, thought provoking.

In everything I know of normal continuity, Elektra Natchios is the kind of character who seems to hold no allegiance to anyone except the highest paying bidder for her ninja assassin skills. I know that Frank Miller tied Elektra’s decision to become an assassin to the death of her Greek ambassador dad, Hugo at the hands of terrorists in Daredevil Vol. 1 #168. Elektra watched her father die. Fuck. So she quit school and joined the Hand.

But this is the Ultimate Universe! Continuity be damned! This is Greg Rucka’s chance to add his feminist flair to an extremely well-known character!

Just a heads up, I’m totally gonna have massive spoilers coming up. (I mean, come on, the issues were released in 2001-2002. But you know. You’re warned. Just in case.) In Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra, Elektra still attends Columbia University and ends up dating Matt Murdock pre-tights, but those are pretty much the only parallels to regular continuity. Rucka gives Elektra much humbler beginnings; her father is a mere Greek immigrant who runs a dry cleaning business in Queens, her mother died of breast cancer (rather than as the victim of a hitman). In lieu of a bunch of ambassador-murdering terrorists, her first real nemesis is the school’s token macho rich white kid (think Stan Gable from Revenge of the Nerds). She emasculates him in front of his peers and he retaliates by raping one of her two best friends and hiring some street thugs to firebomb her dad’s shop (unlike Miller, Rucka lets Hugo live). After charges are dropped against Rapist Arsonist Jerk, Elektra’s gateway act of vigilantism is to break into his loft and threaten him with physical violence. As a means of protecting her from herself, Matt suits up for the first time (although not in the traditional Daredevil garb) and is forced to decide whether or not he can be in a relationship with a girl who is willing to kill in the name of justice.

Ultimatedaredevilandelektra2OK, re-cap over. Time for me to get to the fucking point. Both versions of Elektra strive for justice while using completely unjust methods, but what is remarkable is that both versions turned to vigilantism even though their early years couldn’t have been more different. The Elektra of the normal Marvel Universe was born into a family of corruption and violence and the Ultimate Universe version was born into innocence and, uncharacteristically for a comic book character, contentedness and happiness. This makes the Ultimate Elektra’s decent into the underworld all the more tragic (especially what she’s become in Ultimate Spider-Man). Basically, Greg Rucka has managed to take Elektra and make her much more relatable without sacrificing the heartache and complexity of the original character.

Anyways, I highly recommend this read, even if the trade is now out of print and you’ll spend forever looking for it. Pair it with some decent merlot.

Anyone remember Asterix? Yeah, me too! (Hey! I get it! FRENCH CLASS!! See what we did there?) We’ve all got at least one friend who’s a total history nerd, right? Well, welcome to High Five!’s definitive guide to getting your history-buff buddy into comics!

Marvel_1602First up, Marvel 1602*, which transplants several familiar Marvel heroes back to the Elizabethan era. I know, I know. The premise sounds stupid, and I thought so too, but I picked it up off a discount rack a while back, and man – I should have had more faith in Neil Gaiman. Sir Nicholas Fury is the master of her majesty’s spy game, and Rohjaz – well, you’ll just have to find out. Also starring Elizabeth I, Virginia Dare, James I, oh and some dinosaurs. Just ignore the dinosaurs, ok? I swear, this book is not as cheesy as you think it is, and putting our modern heroes in a 17th-century setting is a feat only Neil Gaiman could pull off. Read it!

250px-MausMaus. Oh god, Maus. Art Spiegelman’s riveting graphic novel tells two stories. First, the story of Spiegelman’s own youth in New York City in the 50s, and second, the story of his father, Vladek. Spiegelman’s father was prisoner #175113 at Auschwitz.  Maus tells that story, as well as tales of Vladek’s youth in Poland.  While largely an autobiographical piece, Maus uses animals as the main characters instead of humans. The Jews are mice, the Germans are cats, the Russians are bears – but this comes off as anything but cutesy. This book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, so if nothing else grabs you, maybe the fact that a COMIC won a PULITZER will.

250px-300_comicTHIS IS SPARTA! Amirite? Dudebros everywhere loved the movie, but history nerds will like 300, especially since bits of it are so inaccurate they’ll be able to nitpick at length. (History nerds LOVE to nitpick, see: SCA. Which I grew up in, so I’m not mocking, I’m just saying.) Anyway, 300 is the comic re-telling of the three day long Battle of Thermopylae, waged between the Spartans and the Persians. Sin City‘s Frank Miller wrote this one so it can be a little…much, at moments. Just don’t say you weren’t warned, ok?

From_hell_tpbAnother movie! And this one starred Johnny Depp, so there’s a good chance the ladies reading caught this flick (even though it had next to nothing in common with the book. sigh). From Hell, by the always brilliant Alan Moore, speculates on the identity and motives of the terrifying Jack the Ripper. The book draws from records of the original case, as well as Moore’s own imagination. Many of Moore’s conclusions have been disproved – multiple times; but that doesn’t detract from the Moore’s ability to tell a truly twisted period tale.

Crecy_cover_artFinally, a suggestion from reader Ben C., Warren Ellis’ Crécy, which details parts of the Battle of Crécy, fought between the British and the French in 1346 during the Hundred Years War. The British were outnumbered something like 3:1, and they basically won the battle by shooting massive clouds of arrows at the French Cavalry, who were, being cavalry, on horses. Legend goes that the British only lost 40 men out of the ten thousand or so fighting. Crécy is something of a point of pride for the Britons. Warren Ellis is British, and he’s imbued Crécy with his particular brand of British snark. Read it!

Now, if someone would just make a comic about 1066, the Battle of Hastings, and the start of Plantagenet dynasty, I’d be a very happy girl. Oh wait they did- it’s called the Bayeaux Tapestry.

*Note: If you trust us and decide to pick up any of these titles, click the links in this post to buy! They’ll take you through to amazon, and we’ll get some miniscule percentage in commission.


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