On My Shelves: Watchmen

Alan Moore and David Gibbon's Watchmen is, justifiably, a landmark in the comic-book universe, a carefully-planned attempt to analyze and deconstruct the standard superhero universe while, at the same time, staying true to some of its most powerful tropes. Watchmen was also made into a movie, which in my view managed to stick fairly close to the original miniseries/graphic novel, but of necessity had to cut out some rather important elements (discussed below). If you don't want spoilers galore, don't read any farther! The setting of Watchmen [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Doctor Strange

Well, technically "soon to be on my shelves" since the movie hasn't been released to video yet!      Capsule summary: A near-perfect adaptation of the origin of Doctor Strange, updated without losing what made it work in the first place. Excellent acting, fine pacing, and clever scripting make this one of the better Marvel offerings, with only a few relatively minor flaws marring what is otherwise a stellar work. Cumberbatch was made to play Doctor Strange, continuing an amazing streak of beautiful casting decisions by Marvel. I look forward [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Captain America: Civil War

  Shortest review: Damn good Marvel movie. If you've liked the other Marvel movies, this is one of the best.   Still short, no spoilers: While drawing basic inspiration from the comic-book "Civil War" storyline, this movie makes the conflict more personal for the characters, in all directions. As others have noted, while it's titled "Captain America", to a great extent this is the third Avengers movie, picking up a relatively short time after "Age of Ultron". The trailers haven't been too deceptive, though as usual there's a [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Superheroes Who Should Not Be Dark

  The recent release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has created a huge amount of controversy, a large amount of it centering on the almost unrelentingly grim imagery of the movie, and most specifically on the depiction of Superman. Throughout my life, there have been several times in which people dealing with the superheroic have decided – in various media – that a superhero can't be done for a modern audience and retain the four-color brightness of their origins. The arguments vary but tend to boil down to a perceived, [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Secret Identity

  Clark Kent is a teenage boy living in Picketsville, Kansas, a boy who has dreams of being a writer, and a well-developed ability to endure the constant teasing – both well-meaning and malicious – that comes with being named after the secret identity of the most famous superhero of all time. For he lives in our world, or one very like it, where there are no superhuman beings, only stories of them. But one night, while camping alone, he awakens to find himself actually floating in midair. He can fly. He has super-strength, and [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Avengers

Marvel's recent push into the systematic production of high-quality superhero movies – Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor – was clearly moving towards one of the most ambitious movies ever made: The Avengers. Anyone who was a comic fan could see that this was a likely goal… and anyone who had watched the history of comic-book movies could see how that could be an incredible train-wreck.   On the positive side, Marvel had taken the time to do one of the most important things first: establish the key characters of the [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Dazzler

       Back in the 1970s, Disco was King. This is widely regarded in retrospect as having been a mistake, but it's a part of history that we must acknowledge. (Actually, I like some disco from that era. But let's not get too distracted here)        Commercializing the current hot fad has always been an interest of comic companies. Casablanca Records asked Marvel to work with them in developing a disco-themed character – Casablanca would provide an actual singing artist, Marvel would provide the comic book,and they'd collaborate on [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

       For once I'm reviewing something before it's out of the theaters, rather than a decade later. Not bad. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. The Spoiler-Free review: Awesome. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one too.   On   To   The   Spoilers   ! ! !        Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, for those hiding out from too much Internet publicity, the sequel to Captain America and The Avengers. Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, is sent on what seems a simple, if dangerous, rescue [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Ghost Rider

  It's said that the West was built on legends. Tall tales that help us make sense of things too great or too terrifying to believe. This is the legend of the Ghost Rider.        Nicholas Cage has done a lot of movies – some good, some pretty bad – over the years. Of all his movies I've seen, my favorite remains Ghost Rider.        Part of the first new wave of superhero movies (which was sparked by the success of Spider-Man), Ghost Rider tells the story of Johnny Blaze, a son of a stunt motorcycle driver (and a good stunt [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

  Many years ago – something like 40, I think – my family was visiting the house of couple of my parents' friends. As I've mentioned in other contexts, I was not the most sociable kid; I'd learned to survive very nicely in isolation, but not how to deal with people as such, so "visiting friends" that weren't my friends (I had two) was, for me, very tense and unpleasant. My best defense was to hide somewhere behind a book, but often I couldn't bring a book, or I finished the one I had long before it was time to go home, which meant I had [ Continue reading... ]