Sunday, February 25, 2007

COMICS: New York Comic Con 2007

Well it is Comic Con season once again. Personally I like the San Diego con; there are better panels and very excellent tables and artists to visit. I did decide to attend, however, in order to promote my upcoming graphic Novel Cycle's End. On Friday I wanted to get the lay of the land a bit, so I wandered around in the main hall and through artist's alley. I met up with my friends and fellow creators of Cycle's End Ori Ayalon ( and Ezio Flagello. Throughout the weekend I got to meet and get sketches from a few of the talented artists like Steve McNiven (Civil War), Chris Batista(52, JLA and Teen Titans) and Jock(Cover artist for Scalped, Batman and Hellblazer). On Friday I got to meet and talk with our cover artist and Ori's teacher Walt Simonson who has credits as a writer and as an artist on such titles as: Hawkgirl, Batman, Manhunter, Legends of the World's Finest, Thor, X-Men, Silver Surfer, Avengers and Fantastic Four Visionaries. Yeah, I know we were lucky as hell to have him draw our cover. Walt inadvertently helped me out again when I tried to nonchalantly pass Cycle's End to my favorite writer J. Michael Straczynski (Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Supreme Power, Rising Stars, Bullet Points, Ultimate Power, Squadron Supreme, Book of Lost Souls, Strange and Dream Police) Yeah I know it's a lot--freaked me out too when I tried to speak. Anyway, Walt was talking to J.M.S right before I got up to him to plug the book. Walt walked away and then I put the book in front of J.M.S. I stuttered out a few words--I hope they were coherent, but I think I said something like this--"Don't worry I'm not here for you to sign anything--actually a few friends and I have just published our first graphic novel and I just wanted you to have a copy." He kind of looked at me for a second--as if I was going to drop something else on him--looked at the book cover, then looked back to where Walt was and then put it in his bag. I didn't stay to chit chat as I realized I was a little too nervous to function properly--I hate that. He's just a guy, yes a guy who writes my favorite comic--but none the less a guy! Anyway, thank you again Walt! Hopefully Mr. Straczynski will like it.

So Saturday absolutely sucked balls I waited in line for at least two hours because, like last year there were more people trying to get into the NY con than they actually had room for at the Javits Center. The line--I shit you not--went all the way to 40th street and then wrapped around the corner toward the friggin river. If you are not familiar with NY the Javits center is on 34th street and 11th. 6 damn blocks in the freezing cold!!! Yeah I was pissed. So I finally get in and of course because of the long ass line and because they didn't spell it out for me I didn't obtain tickets for the panel with Steven King for the Dark Tower graphic novel and upcoming movie. Oh, well maybe next year. I did however on Saturday get to network some more and meet artists and writers and of course I got almost all of my sketches on Saturday. So not a total loss. Anyway I'm hoping that San Diego this year will be much better, not to mention our book Cycle's End will be physically ready to push on the comic hungry. We feature 5 completely different artists for each story. All of them are phenomenal and will be penciling their own stuff for Marvel, DC or Image very soon, I'm sure of it. The writing by the way ain't too shabby. So that's enough of my shameless plug for my book--but be on the look out for it in early April--that was the last one--I'm serious--Oh and check out our website at, that was the last one--I swear.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Yes, I went to see yet another comic book adaptation to grace the silver screen. And no, it wasn't the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen, but it wasn't that great either. The Ghost Rider effects themselves were pretty good, the flaming bike and some of the powers. Eva Mendes was smoking hot and distracted me from her so-so acting. Sam Eliot was great as the grizzly Caretaker but we wanted to see much more of him. Wes Bentley was god awful as Mephisto's son Blackheart, I mean really terrible. He did not handle the "I am the son of Satan, tremble at my feet," lines very well at all. They seemed silly and completely misplaced. Now to our Ghost Rider himself, Nicholas Cage, well...he didn't suck, but, you know what someone needs to tell Mr. Cage that he is not Elvis. He is not in any way a hunk of burning love and he needs to stop, now.

Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) is an Evel Kenivel type stunt man who has a penchant for jumping big rigs and helicopters with a fearless bravado that knows no bounds. Johnny although, is a bit different from most people when night comes his face melts off to become a flaming skull and he becomes the Spirit of Vengeance, The Ghost Rider. Johnny made a deal with the devil (Peter Fonda) to save his father's (Brett Cullen) life; Johnny gave up his soul, hence the flaming head. The Ghost Rider is the official bounty hunter of Mephistopheles and the big evil one has a mission for our intrepid stunt man, he must stop Blackheart (Wes Bentley) from getting a list of souls. So basically Johnny has to learn how to control his powers so he can destroy Blackheart and ward off Mephistopheles, not to mention protecting his super hot on and off girlfriend Roxanne (Eva Mendes). Whoo, that's a lot the Rider has to deal with.

Overall the effects flip flop throughout the film from good, to ok, to really cheesy. I kind of liked Ghost Rider's signature move or power which is his penance stare, where evildoers look into his eyes and feel the pain and suffering of the innocent. I thought that the intro face melting scene turning Johnny into Ghost Rider was pretty good, but it felt like they rushed it just a bit. Even though it was funny, I didn't completely get why Johnny Blaze liked to listen to Karen Carpenter or for that matter drink jellybeans from a martini glass, that's just weird, but I guess it wouldn't be any weirder than a guy with a flaming skull riding a flaming chopper. Who knows, anyway, this movie directed by Mark Steven Johnson is a vast improvement from his work on Daredevil but unfortunately that isn't saying very much. It is fun in places but overall it doesn't seem to know where it wants go, does it want to be an all out comic book movie, a horror film or a western? Who knows, all I know is that Mark Steven Johnson should not be allowed to direct any more comic book movies, I am revoking his license.

Grade: 2 Buckets

Saturday, February 17, 2007


In 2001 the FBI discovered they had one of the worst cases of blowback in American Intelligence history. Robert Hanssen was the true life double spy giving secrets to the Soviets for over 25 years. This much is also explained to us as the film begins by the former head of the Justice Department John Ashcroft. Robert Hanssen is a family man a devout Catholic and an extremely disgruntled civil servant of the FBI. The story itself is nothing new and the ending is abrupt and very unHollywood like, after all it is based in the real world so there is no real smoking gun and a shoot out to the death between FBI agents Hanssen and his clerk O'Neill. This is a character study of a man who was living two lives.

Eric O'Neil (Ryan Phillippe) is assigned as a FBI clerk to a top intelligence agent named Robert Hanssen(Chris Cooper). O'Neil's handler Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) tells Eric that his orders are to observe Hanssen's conduct as a possible sexual deviant, of course this spirals into a conspiracy to commit espionage. Eric must tread a fine line between the truth and lies in order to catch his boss passing information to the enemy.

Chris Cooper is amazing as the creepy, but efficient Hanssen. He owns his secret nature and his dual life as a deeply religious man who has utmost disdain for homosexuals and for strong women, ala Hillary Clinton. As the film deepens Hanssen's hypocrisy is shown as he enjoys a penchant for sex tapes, and tends to get drunk on occasion. He is a difficult man to read and he is Batman like in smoking out deception which makes him a formidable opponent. The question is why did he did it. Was it for money? Was it to get even on a government that has passed him up for promotion? Disillusionment with the constitution? The film explores all of these possibilities but they do not try to make a definitive conclusion so be prepared. This I think is a good thing because I don't think we'll ever truly know why Robert Hanssen did these things, but that is not the true intent of the film. As I said before it is a character study in deception and hypocrisy. Ryan Phillippe is good as the cocky and self sure O'Neil. Laura Linney is a bit stiff as O'Neil's handler but that is the role that she is playing. Again the star of this show is Hanssen himself and all of his peccadilloes. It is intriguing to watch and if this were October I would say that Chris Cooper would very easily earn an Oscar nomination.

Grade: 4 Buckets

Saturday, February 10, 2007

COMICS: What's New With Marvel and DC

The state of Marvel comics today is a troubling one for me. I have found in the last year or so that my patience has been severely tried with this whole Civil War thing that Marvel has been waging. It was interesting at first but now I am bored and a little tired of my favorite heroes fighting each other. At first I welcomed this plotline of Captain America going rogue because he did not agree with the US stance on the Super Hero Registration Act. I liked the idea that Tony Stark, who originally did not like the idea, decided eventually to side with the government because he wanted to be a good American and obey the laws, okay noble enough. I even liked when the two leaders Cap and Iron Man began to butt heads on their Democrat vs. Republican ideologies regarding the constitutional entanglements regarding this registration. When Iron Man started hunting down and putting heroes into a secret prison in the Negative Zone, he effectively became a bad guy.

Sure you can have a good strong debate about whether super people should be running around unchecked; there is a good point for that. Unfortunately if you lock said heroes away in said secret prison when the hero has not even committed a crime, well that makes you, kind of a dictator. So my problem with Civil War now boils down to essentially a bad argument. Obviously, in the beginning of Civil War it was very easy to relate to Iron Man's situation and why, in his mind he had to side with the government, but I feel like now the writer's have taken this thing so far over the line that it is now impossible to see Iron Man as anything but a villain.

Two reasons come to mind so far, he and Reed Richards made a clone of Thor that went crazy and ended up killing a hero from the Thunderbolts, Goliath. Did Reed and Tony put the Thor clone back in the freezer, never to be used again? No of course not, they rewired the thing, with the hope of course, that this doesn't happen again. This may make them seem actually stupid rather than evil. The second is when Iron Man hired the worst of Spidey’s villains to beat the shit out of Spider-Man when he decided to cut and run from Tony's employ. What kind of hero employs super villains to kick the shit out of a beloved hero in order to, I guess, show that hero that he is on the wrong path? Sounds like Norman Osborn to me, (They hired him too by the way) but no, it is Tony Stark Iron Man. I don't mind disagreement with the heroes, I don't always mind when a hero goes rogue or bad for a time or even altogether, but what I do not like is a bunch of writers who meticulously build a case on two sides of the spectrum and after a few issues get sloppy and lose the direction of one of the arguments. They have essentially made Iron Man a villain, almost a year before his big Hollywood debut starring Robert Downey Jr. So I implore Marvel to stop with the House of M's and the Civil Wars, get back to telling individual stories about some of Marvel's greatest heroes. I know your sales are up, but give us a little breather here, just for a while--Y'know Spidey could use it.

Over at DC things seem pretty interesting. I have really enjoyed 52 as they focus mainly on second, third and even fourth tier heroes and villains as they try to make it through a year without the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman). They have focused on characters like former police detective Renee Montoya, Booster Gold, The Question, Black Adam and his family, The Elongated Man Ralph Dibney, Steel, his rebellious niece and much much more. Even though the story itself seems global even universal the writers still seem to keep the themes localized to a few characters at a time allowing the story develop naturally with cohesiveness and a compelling mystery. Personally I wish they could do the 52 format forever. (I know, I know it would be really hard to sustain something like this every week for too long, but it would be cool nonetheless.) Lex Luthor's Everyman project storyline has been intriguing and I have really come to enjoy Steel and his character arc. Hell, even Booster Gold has been really interesting and that is quite a leap from a few years ago when I was hoping they would just kill the character--he was extremely annoying, plus his name is Booster Gold--something don't sound right about the name. Anyway, 52 has been flawless, this is exactly what Civil War should have been and I hope Marvel is taking notes.

In other comics I have laid out a couple of covers of some books everyone should check out in the near future. Enjoy.

The Boys

Green Lantern

Green Arrow

Amazing Spider-Man