Monday, January 31, 2011

The Amazing...Global Warming Denier?

Come on Pete, I thought you were a scientist, man. Were you really in the middle of confessing your disbelief in the gradual increase in the temperature of the earth's air and oceans over a sustained period of time, resulting in unpredictable weather phenomena, based simply on the fact that snow is cold rather than warm? I'm so disappointed in you right now.

(Detail from a panel in Marvel's Free Comic Book Day 2009 The Avengers, scripted by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Comic shop comics: Jan. 12-19

The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #3 (DC Comics) Here’s a villain team-up so natural, so obvious, so perfect that it seems inevitable—did it really take until the year 2010 for someone to have Batman’s Lewis Carroll-obsessed villain The Mad Hatter team with Flash rogue The Mirror Master to create a Through The Looking Glass world…?

That’s the basic set-up here. The bad guys “fashioned this entire Looking Glass World out of the Mirror Master’s solid light and [The Hatter’s] genius!” It’s an elaborate trap to keep Batman and The Flash trapped with the mad Mad Hatter and a bunch of Lewis Carroll characters (faithfully all chosen from Looking Glass, rather than the first Alice book) while Mirror Master uses his amazing powers to…commit acts of burglary.

Three issues into their run, Sholly Fisch, Rick Burchett and Dan Davis have thus far been able to accomplish the ultimate in serial comic book-ing—making each issue better than the previous one.

Fisch’s script is heavy on gags that are natural to the characters and their relationships (that is, it’s really funny, but it’s not a comedy).And it’s remarkably faithful to the source material, certainly more faithful than, say, Walt Disney Studios, which provided U.S. pop culture with the most pervasive version of the Alice stories, and just went back to that particular well with a rather popular, even less faithful live-action film last year.

Also, Fisch writes scenes like this for Burchett to draw:As impressive as the script is, Burchett once again steals the show (something comics make it so very easy for great artists to do). I know I’ve repeatedly mentioned that for me one of the great pleasures of the animated series that provided the basis for this and the previous volume of Batman: The Brave and The Bold was the fact that the producers designed character to reflect the particular art styles of their creators, and put them all together in a shared space that made work from folks like Dick Sprang, C.C. Beck, Jack Cole, Jack Kirby and others seem not only compatible, but complimentary.

In the previous issue, we got to see Burchett’s version of a Kane/Sprang Batman teaming up with various Beck-derived characters (And one Mac Raboy-designed character). Here we get to see Burchett’s version of that Batman again, a more or less original Flash (at least, it doesn’t look too much like anyone else’s Flash; additionally, the script is coy about whether it’s Wally or Barry), a Mad Hatter in the style of the David Wayne-played one from the ‘60s TV series, and, best of all, panel after panel of Burchett’s simplified, cover versions of John Tenniel’s illustrations for the original Carroll stories.I suppose it’s possible that there are people out there who aren’t as interested in Batman comics, John Tenniel’s illustrations for Carroll’s Alice books, and how the latter can be transferred into the latter as I am. Those people will probably disagree with my ultimate assessment of this comic but, here goes: This is the best thing ever.

Brightest Day #18 (DC)Er, I’m sure she didn’t mean it like-Uh, I’m not sure that came out quite right there, I mean, context is everything, right?

And the context of the scene in which the White Lantern Entity Thing tells Hawkman and Hawkwoman that the champion-to-be must be "serviced" first is that, uh, Hawkman and Hawkwoman were just about to have sex with one another, when Deadman appeared wearing a White Lantern costume and White Lantern ring, and the White Lantern Entity Thing said that to the Hawks.

This is a pretty weird comic, isn't it?

Justice League of America #53 (DC) Based on some of the faces in this particular issue, Mark Bagley apparently was penciling it on his way out the door of the DC offices, on his way to catch a cab to drive him across town to Marvel HQ.

Example? Okay, look at Rex the Wonder Dog’s horrifying, half-human face:Brrrr!

This is Bagley’s last issue on the series, and the last issue of the four-part “Omega” story, which teamed the new-ish Justice League line-up with the Crime Syndicate to take on a bizarre new villain.

It’s a nice send-off, complete with a “Good luck, Mark!” in the bottom right hand corner of the title-page, but it’s still a damn shame. It really feels like writer James Robinson and Bagley were just starting to really coalesce, and make JLoA their book—their run, like everyone else’s to precede them on this volume, has been regularly interrupted by crossovers and reactions to events in other series that are apparently given primacy over JLoA—and this story read a lot more like a new beginning than an ending.

I’m not convinced Bagley’s replacement can do anywhere near as good a job and, to be honest, I’m struggling to think of a better artist than Bagley at DC at the moment for JLoA, particularly if Robinson continues to write it as he has, with the entire DCU comprising the cast, rather than seven or so superheroes. Bagley’s year on Trinity put him in the position of one of the few artists who has drawn just about every DC character there is more or less continuously.

I just flipped through the issue again, and noted the unusual lay-outs in the title, with the action always moving horizontally across spreads rather than up and down. It gives the book a very fast-paced and expansive feel, and I’m not so sure it’s the sort of thing that you can drop just anyone into and have them replicate it.

Ah well.

The climax is a fairly satisfying one, with everyone acting true to themselves after seeming to act differently in early chapters as part of various plots and machinations. I think the specifics of how the League defeats the Omega Man is probably a bit of a cheat—it sort of depends on you knowing what the Tangent Green Lantern’s specific power is—but it does allow Robinson to temporarily rehabilitate a long-gone hero who had become a villain in his more recent appearances.

I was a little bummed to learn that Blue Jay isn’t joining the Justice League, but gets a nice send-off too, and heads in a direction that could potentially yield a pretty cool story, if anyone ever decides to do it (Grant Morrison’s send-off for his Ultramarine Corps/Global Guardians team in JLA: Classified #1-3 had similar potential, but it was never followed up on, and several of those heroes later appeared as if they didn’t actually follow up on it anyway).

(Sorry, trying to be vague-ish, for the sake of not ruining anything about the story).

Knight and Squire #4 (DC) Beryl has her first date with that Shrike kid, and it starts off so badly that The Knight’s armor wandering around by itself attacking people is actually an improvement for all concerned.

Paul Cornell’s script has a lot of fun bits in it, from Knight and Squire’s cavalier attitudes about their secret identities, to their American version of Alfred, to the way The Knight’s origin gets told and themes are presented as anvil-obvious metaphors and dismissed with a quick witticism. Jimmy Broxton’s art remains crystal clear and ultra-enjoyable, and I look forward to seeing much more of his work in many more places in the near future.

I agree with the heroes—we can trust this Shrike fellow. But that little bird we see sharing a few panels with him? I don’t trust it one bit.

Namor: The First Mutant #6 (Marvel Comics) Wait, this panel isn’t light-boxed from a photo, or run through a computer filter, or used as an element in a computer-created collage or…anything.It’s just a photo of a desert.

The preceding panel features some drawn bones on top of a photo of the desert, giving it a weird collage effect. The panel that follows it has Namor’s feet and legs standing on a photo of the desert floor.I suppose if artist Olivietti put drawings of Namor and the other characters on top of straight photos throughout the book, it might be fun in a weird kind of way, like a Marvel superhero version of James Kochalka’s Dragon Puncher.

But no such luck. Sometimes Olivetti just plain throws a photo down on the page, and Marvel prints it. Sometimes he provides art work as well, but it’s generally lazy-looking, with few characters and minimal to no background (if it’s not occurring on a photo of background), and pretty dull, lifeless stuff.

I pre-ordered this entire “Namor Goes To Hell” story arc from my nearest comic shop because I liked Namor and figured that a story as simple as Namor going to hell and (presumably) coming back sounds simple and impossible to screw up.

I hadn’t taken into account the fact that I may hate the art even more intensely than Namor hates the surface world.

Neko Ramen Vol. 3 (Tokyopop) This is still really funny, and Kenji Sonishi not only seems to be able to think up an infinite number of variations of the Taisho-comes-up-with-a-clever-scheme-to-sell-more-ramen-that-turns-out-to-be-disgusting, but keeps adding new elements to the series, multiplying the number of running gags to riff on.

Neko Ramen—Hands down the best comic about a cat who runs a ramen shop.

Tiny Titans #36 (DC) No lie, I could read an Art Baltazar-drawn scene like this for 22 pages, and close the book with a smile on my face:We only get one page like that though, of Hotspot (A character created for the Teen Titans cartoon that later had a few appearances in the comics) and Kid Devil bonding over the fact that they can both, um, set their head on fire.

These are the two “hot” Titans, and in this issue Terra uses her amazing rock powers to show them something really hot—the center of the earth. Beast Boy tags along. They see all kinds of cool stuff there, including this guy.At this point I’d like to declare this comic book the best thing ever, but I already said that once this column about a different comic book, so I won’t. (But it’s really good!)

Young Justice #0 (DC) Okay, I do have the feeling that I’m missing something here, having not seen any of the TV show (Or has it not started yet? Did they show the pilot so far?).

This is a new comic book based on the new animated series Young Justice, which takes its name and at least some of its premise from the Young Justice comic book series (Actually, this Young Justice iteration seems like a combination of the team/premise from the original YJ mixed with the Silver Age Teen Titans, and with some modern characters thrown in, like Miss Martian from the “One Year Later” Teen Titans and the just-introduced black Aqualad from Brightest Day in for white, fro-rocking Garth).

This is only the first issue of course, and a #0 issue at that, but it seems much more closely tied into the animated series than DC’s based-on-a-cartoon-that’s-based-on-our-comics comics usually are. In fact, this seems to take place between episodes. It opens with Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash having just rescued a Superman clone named Superboy from Cadmus, and getting busted by their various mentors (And Wonder Woman, which I guess does make the absence of Wonder Girl a bit more conspicuous). I take it that happened in the show.

The scene ends with Batman saying he wants three days to think about what to do about the sidekicks superheroing together, and the remainder of the comic deals with the boys waiting to hear back from Batman, followed by a scene in which his decision is related.

Despite being aware of the fact that I wasn’t getting the whole story, writers Kevin Hopps and Greg Weisman (who also work on the show, making such connectivity possible) have written a first issue that is nevertheless accessible—I knew what I didn’t know, and I knew that I didn’t have to know it, if that makes sense.

The premise actually sounds kind of cool, and like one that straddles that of the Young Justice comic and the Teen Titans concept.

Rather than forming their own team, the teens will serve as part of the Justice League (like a JV squad, I guess), with Red Tornado living in their base as their supervisor (a la the YJ comic). Black Canary will train ‘em, and Batman will come up with covert missions for the kids to be deployed on. It ends with the announcement that it will be a five-member team, although there are only four teen heroes present—I imagine either Miss Martian or the Green Arrowette on the cover are going to be the fifth member.

Basically, it reads a lot like an “ultimate” version of DC’s teen teams, or something that takes the best bits of decades worth of comics to make something fresh and new and relevant(-ish), which is what a good adaptation of this sort should do. Of course, I’m judging the adaptation by its adaptation back into its source material’s home medium, so there’s a good chance I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.

But I liked the comic book. I liked the sub-plot about Superboy’s feelings toward Superman (and vice versa). I liked the origin of his not-costume costume. I liked the brand-new JLA headquarters of the sort I haven’t seen in comics before. I liked the way Kid Flash fuses Impulse’s personality and costume with Wally West’s. I liked all of the character designs (even Martian Manhunter looks okay in his lame-ass all-black "One Year Later" body condom suit, now that his head is the right shape again), and I particularly liked Mike Norton’s art, which is the main reason I picked this book up.

I really like all of DC’s super-teen characters, but I haven’t been able to read or enjoy the DCU version of the Teen Titans for years now, due to how godawful its writing and art has been, and the overall revolting subject matter it’s traded in. So I was delighted to find that this seems like it should make a wonderful substitute.

Hate our Teen Titans comic? Try our new Young Justice comic! would make a fine house ad for the series, I think.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This is not a review of Siege

See this?It’s a hardcover book-like object that Marvel published in July of 2010. The 200 pages between its covers consist of reprinted pages from Siege, a four-issue miniseries Marvel published in the spring of that year, Siege: The Cabal, a special one-shot comic from that winter, and Free Comic Book Day 2009 Avengers, a promotional comic book from the previous May.

All of the scripts are written by Brian Michael Bendis, whose name appears on the cover of the collection, and they are drawn by Olivier Coipel, whose name also appears on the cover, plus Michael Lark, Lucio Parrillo, Jim Cheung, Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Morales.

The object was sold for a price of $24.99, although many of the people who probably bought this compilation did so at a direct market comic shop, and may have gotten a small discount. Many others probably bought it through, and got an even larger discount. It is also available at many libraries, which is probably the best way to consume its contents at this point.

The pages within it, if not necessarily this particular printing and this particular compilation of them, are and were very important to Marvel Comics; they were, essentially, Marvel’s entire publishing plan for a few years, if you consider the time spent building up to the events throughout the line, the time spent playing off of the events of the events throughout the line, and the six months or so in which Siege and Siege-branded books were being published by Marvel.

Issues of the four-issue miniseries, when originally published in serial form, were among Marvel’s best-performing books, and the best performing books in the entire direct market.

The contents of this book are, therefore, important, if viewed within the context of one of North America’s leading serial comic book publishers, one of our current pop culture’s leading IP generators and the direct market of comic shops.

It wasn’t a series I was particularly interested in buying and reading. While Bendis is a talented cartoonist and better-than-average super-comic scripter, his last half dozen attempts at stories of this scope and scale were of quite miserable quality, and, as Marvel began doing during his last story of this scope and scale, they were charging 33% more per issue than the standard cost of a comic book.

I borrowed it from the library, however, due to its importance as I stated it above, and had intended to write a review of it. Having read all of the comics between the covers, however, I see that I can’t review it.

It’s not really a story, and it doesn’t really have a conflict or dramatic structure or even drama (Beyond the most rudimentary definitions of conflict and drama, I suppose—as in, people fight one another). It doesn’t really have any characters in it either, although the names and costumes are recognizable from other comics.

It’s nothing more than a series of loosely connected events, strung together like beads on a string, and the events stop coming when the string provided runs out.

Bendis is one of the current direct market’s leading writers, and he sells more comics than any other writer working for Marvel at the moment, and provides more pages per month to the publisher than any of their other writers. I don’t know what his page rate is, but I would be quite surprised if it were not considerably high, and among the highest of any writer working in his field and in his chosen genre.

What he provides here, however, can’t possibly have been worth whatever he was paid. The event-string found between these covers is what Marvel would likely have been able to generate if they asked a moderately intelligent, moderately imaginative teenager or twentysomething to write a big Marvel Comics fight comic for them in the space of a single class, scribbling it in the corner of their notebooks when they should be taking notes on whatever subject their teacher is lecturing about.

As this book (to apply the term generously) fails to meet the bare minimum standards of a graphic novel, even as loosely as we use that particular term to cover various forms of bound comics, it’s nigh-unreviewable.

Instead, I’m just going to describe the plot in some detail. It’s worth noting that while Bendis wrote every single word in the dialogue bubbles and narration boxes, and provided the descriptions for the artists to draw their pages form, he ultimately wasn’t responsible for this collection, and likely had little say in the matter of 200 pages of the hundreds of pages he wrote (and the thousands of pages overall) as part of the multi-book, line-wide, years-long publishing effort that Siege was a part of.

(It’s also worth noting that I realize many of the unexplained mysteries and plot holes and seemingly missing scenes in this event-string appear in other comics published by Marvel at about the same time; I’m not writing about those comics though, I’m writing about this distinct unit, which Marvel packaged, published and sold as a distinct unit. I’m judging this book by this book, not by itself plus many other books sold separately).


A page containing a panel from Secret Invasion #8 and a few paragraphs of text tells us that this opening portion of the book is Siege: The Cabal (It’s the part illustrated by Lark and Gaudiano, in a very realistic, cinematic style).

Asgard, a large grouping of castle walls and towers on a floating island, hovers above what looks like a field in the American mid-west. Two voices discuss it. One of those voices belongs to Norman Osborn, the father of Peter Parker’s one-time best friend Harry Osborn, and the super-villain and convicted serial killer known as The Green Goblin. He is currently in charge of all of America’s superheroes, through his agency H.A.M.M.E.R., which replaced S.H.I.E.L.D.

After two pages, we see that the disembodied other voice, which appears in purple-colored type, belongs to his old rubber Green Goblin mask. The mask has just convinced Osborn that he needs to invade and conquer Asgard.

Osborn holds a meeting with The Cabal, identified as such via a text-box, in the basement of Avengers Tower. The Cabal consists of Loki, The Hood, Taskmaster and Doctor Doom.

Osborn would like Doom to join them in invading Asgard, while Doom wants no part of it, and wants Osborn to produce his ally Namor. Osborn threatens to have Doom killed if he doesn’t cooperate, and then a shadowy, bald, muscular figure enters the room.

“What the hell is that?!!” Taskmaster shouts, leaping to his feet and drawing his sword.

The figure throws Doom through a wall, then shoots lightning at Doom, seemingly destroying him. Doom was just a robot though, and he releases a bunch of little robot insects that start eating Avengers Tower. After evacuating the Tower, The Sentry, part of Osborn’s Avengers team, flies down and destroys the Doom robot completely, which stops the bugs.

The shadowy figure that attacked Doom is never shown again or explained.

Osborn asks the president of the United States if he can invade Asgard, and the president says no. Osborn and Loki discuss this set-back, and Loki convinces him that Osborn will need a Stamford-like incident, in which super-person violence killed several hundred civilians and helped push through a superhero registration act that lead to the events of the superhero “civil war” in Civil War, to convince the president to okay an attack Asgard.

The art shifts to a painted style. Referring back to the credits page, this appears to be the second section of the book, entitled “Prologue,” and Lucio Parrillo is now providing the art.

It is now night and Loki, who never left, appears in a cloud of smoke, surprising Osborn. Osborn asks what Asgard is and Loki responds, “I am about to tell you what very few mortals on Midgard know,” and proceeds to tell him what everyone on Earth knows about Asgard and Norse mythology (provided they know anything about it). Over the course of ten panels spread across five pages, he names the nine realms of Norse mythology.

The art shifts again, and now is that of Coipel. That indicates that, referring back to the credits, we are now in Siege #1-#4.

Narration boxes show us a third consecutive conversation between Osborn and Loki, while the panels show us Volstagg, one of Asgard’s Warriors Three, who is sort of wandering around Earth, fighting Earth crime.

The pair have Volstagg attacked by “Parker Robbins” (although a group of weird-looking, luminous villains are shown doing the actual attacking—I think those are the U-Foes, who probably work for Robbins). They teleport Volstagg into a football field, and then they all explode, presumably killing everyone in the field.

A page later, it’s revealed to be Soldier Field in Chicago.

(Out of curiosity, I googled its capacity; it’s 61,500. So, potentially, the incident could have killed as many as 61,500 civilians, or 20.5 9/11s. The president of the United States is never named, but we know from other comics that it is Barack Obama, same as in our universe. Obama is, of course, from Chicago).

Osborn tells his assistant to tell the president that Osborn is going to use The Avengers and the full roster of The Initiative (i.e. all of Marvel’s officially-sanctioned superheroes, which at this point are actually mostly villains) to launch a full-scale invasion of Asgard in retaliation.

Osborn goes to Ares, the Greek god of War and one of his chief Avengers, to come up with a battle plan—Ares refuses to attack his fellow gods in Asgard, until Osborn convinces him that Loki has usurped the throne of Asgard.

The president remains opposed to the invasion—the “inciting incident” didn’t do its job.

Osborn's Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. forces invade Asgard, and seemingly kill Thor on television. Watching the events on TV is Captain America Steve Rogers, who stands up.(Curiously, the villains who battled Volstagg and blew up Soldier Field are then shown fighting alongside Osborn on television as if they weren’t part of the Chicago incident).

The next five pages of the book are presented as a transcript of “Hammer Document 68785895-78795 GDFBCV…Ares War Plan.” It’s a collection of dialogue, like a radio play.

Maria Hill arrives in a pick-up truck with a bazooka and a machine gun and rescues the wounded Thor from the Avengers.

Meanwhile Steve Rogers rallies a group of superheroes consisting of Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors, The New Avengers and the Young Avengers.

In Asgard, someone tells Ares that Loki is not, in fact, in charge of Asgard. Realizing Osborn lied, Ares tries to kill Osborn. The Sentry rips Ares in half vertically, and then a couple of tentacles start waving out of The Sentry’s back.(An aside: As ratings for superhero comics have been a topic of conversation lately, I thought it worth noting that this book, which involves one hero ripping another in half vertically, is rated “T+”. In Marvel’s system, that means it “appropriate for most readers 13 and up, parents are advised that they might want to read before or with younger children.” There are two higher ratings, “Parental Advisory” and “Max;” the former is like “T+” but features “more graphic imagery,” while “Max” features “explicit content”)

Captain America, Fury and their teams arrive in Asgard to fight against Osborn’s forces.

Then there is a four-page document transcribing a meeting between Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors.

Then The Hood’s army of villains appear and join the fight.

Thor and The Sentry fight some more; The Sentry now has a large, red, luminous mass growing out of back, parts of which look like crab legs.

Then Iron Man joins the fight.

Then The Sentry knocks down all of Asgard.

Then Osborn’s face turns green, and a second pair of teeth appears to have grown around his lips.

The X-Men and Fantastic Four watch on TV.

The Sentry has now assumed a meditating posture, and, and is sprouting many large, glowing red, insect or arachnid-like legs. Kirby dots and light spill out of his head, and black lightning emanates from his body. Then there is a six-page document entitled “White House Protocol Server Beta 9-34234-45345,” which transcribes a conversation between Maria Hill and Secretary of Defense Ridell. (Obama may be president in the Marvel Universe, but Robert Gates isn’t his secretary of defense).

The Sentry’s black lightning stuff starts zapping the heroes, so Loki takes some glowing stones he calls the “Stones of Norn” from a few of the villains, and then gives them to some of the heroes.

The Sentry rips Loki in half, this time horizontally.

Iron Man drops a helicarrier on The Sentry creature, and he transforms back into a naked, human man—Bob Reynolds, The Sentry’s secret identity.

He asks Thor to kill him and Thor says no, so then The Sentry turns back into a big red and black bug monster, and Thor hits him with his hammer again and this time The Sentry monster dies, and Thor throws Reynolds’ charred corpse into the sun.

The president gives Steve Rogers Osborn’s job as The Person In Charge of All Superheroes, the Superhuman Registration Act is thrown out, and Steve Rogers and the Asgardian gods show up at a superhero party, Rogers saying “I’m going to need all of you for what comes next.”

On the next page, there’s an image of Thor and the Avengers from Dark Avengers and New Avengers, the title “The Way Things Are…” and a note saying “This story from Free Comic Book Day 2009 New Avengers takes place before Siege,” which explains why the dead Ares and Sentry show up in it.

It’s a team-up between the two teams, narrated by Spider-Man and featuring an appearance by Thor at the end.

I have no idea what it’s doing in this book instead of a collection of New Avengers or Dark Avengers, nor why, if it must be collected here, why it is put at the end of the book instead of at the beginning, as it does at least introduce many of the players that were featured in Siege.

Finally, there are ten pages of variant covers from Siege #1-#4, including the controversial “Siege #3a Deadpool Variant” (The one that Marvel shipped to shops in return for the covers of unsold DC comics), which looks especially out-of-place, as Deadpool doesn’t appear within the pages of the book until that cover, on the last page.


I liked Coipel’s art style just fine, however the book is as visually uninteresting as its plot is uninteresting. Coipel matches Bendis’ “and these guys show up to fight, and then these guys show up to fight too, and then…” plot with too-appropriate artwork—much of the action is wasted on splash pages featuring groups of heroes posing, and even more is wasted on bland drawings of explosions in the distance.The entire Marvel Universe fighting in Asgard is, as a phrase, one that evokes an awful lot of exciting and compelling imagery, but there’s nothing as exciting or compelling in the drawings between these covers as that phrase. Flip to any random page of, say, James Stokoe’s Orc Stain, a series about nasty Hobbit villains fighting over the collection of one another’s scrotums, and you’ll find artwork 100,000 times more imaginative, sprawling, grand, epic, detailed, exciting and crazy-looking than anything in this book.

There are no George Perez (or even Phil Jiminez or Jerry Ordaway) group shots of any scale or depth. The action consists mostly of unconnected poses, with only a few scenes showing actual fighting between combatants, continuing through consecutive panels. It’s unfortunate; I thought the climax of Mark Millar and Brian Hitch’s Ultimates run was rather flawed, but that battle between all of Marvel’s heroes and the heroes and villains of Asgard makes this one seem like a pale echo.

The sole exciting image I found in the book was this one——and that’s one that occurs just before the battle of Asgard begins. It is all downhill from there.

When Osborn and his Avengers land in Asgard, it's a medium to a long-shot of a couple of characters landing. While Sentry and Thor trade blows shortly after, that chapter's climax involves Osborn and the U-Foes shooting something at Thor. An image of Osborn instructing them to shoot at him, a close-up of their fists, and then a long-shot of explosion in the distance.


By the way, at no point is anything laid siege too. Osborn attacks Asgard in a bit of a blitzkrieg, and the battle seems to last less than a day. I suppose Blitzkrieg, Fight, Battle or War just didn’t sound cool enough. I know War of the Gods was taken; I’m kinda surprised they didn’t go with Ragnarok, although I suppose there are probably a half-dozen Thor stories that have already used that title.


I like the sound of Thor War.


I would still like to read a comic book adventure story about Marvel heroes and villains fighting a huge battle in Marvel's Asgard, perhaps in part because that's what I expected from this thing—in fact, what this thing promised—and I didn't get a lick of it here. I guess I'll look into some of the Siege Colon Name of a Marvel Franchise trades out there, I'm particularly interested in Siege: Thunderbolts and Siege: Mighty Avengers because I really like the writer of the former and I think the latter has Hercules in it.

Do any of you have any suggestions for trades that might include "the good parts" of Marvel's Siege event? (There are good parts to it, right? Given the size of it and number of books that were published as Siege tie-ins, simple statistics would seemingly dictate that there must be)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Let's check in with our friends Batman and Tony Daniel

I'm not a big fan of Tony Daniel's artwork, and my mind was pretty boggled by the fact that DC paired him with Grant Morrison for much of Morrison's run on Batman, including the climax of his first act or so on the franchise, "Batman RIP." If you've been reading EDILW for a few years now, chances are you already know this. Because I've written rather harshly and critically about Daniel's work on various Batman comics before. Like, a few dozen times before. In fact, if you've been reading EDILW for a few years now, chances are you're way past sick of hearing me discuss Daniel's work on Batman comics.

In which case, you might not be interested in this post, as it's about Batman #704, the beginning of Daniel's latest run as writer/artist on Batman (This issue is, in fact, the start of his first post-Return of Bruce Wayne story arc, bearing a "Batman Incorporated" logo in the upper right hand corner).

Hey wait a minute Caleb, you might think, If you dislike Daniel's Batman work so much, why do you keep reading it? Well, the answer to that is quite simple—one of my local libraries has a subscription to Batman, so if me and a free Batman comic book are in the same room at the same time, what am I going to do—not read it? As I've noted in the past, Daniel's work has gotten steadily better since he first started working for DC's Bat-office. It took a leap to a higher level of quality when he started drawing his own scripts instead of Morrison's, it took another leap when he presumably started drawing stories in which the editorial office weren't pitching most of the plot points (Batman: Battle for the Cowl) and everything from his layouts to his scene staging to his rendering has improved slightly from issue to issue.

Batman #704 is probably his strongest comics-drawing so far, which is, of course, good news (I still think DC Comics' flagship franchise makes for an unlikely training ground for an artist still struggling with telling stories in the medium though; but who knows, maybe all of the better artists would rather be doing their own things than working on a corporate comic at the moment).

Anyway, this seemed like a pretty good issue with which to check in on the state of Daniel's comics-making, and the state of the Batman comic.

Here's as much of the two-page spread that stretched across pages four and five that would fit on my scanner:That's Batman Dick Grayson, Robin Damian Wayne, The Reaper and Kitrina "Catgirl" Falcone; Daniel is picking up on the characters and some of the plot threads from his "Life After Death" arc (between the end of that story and now, Batman hosted a short story written by Daniel but illustrated by Guillem March, a three-issue arc written by Morrison and drawn by Daniel, and then a weird-ass one-off solicited as a Peter Milligan story but shipped as a Fabian Nicieza one).

Wait, what's that in the lower right-hand corner?Uh-oh. A comic book being "ritten" by someone can't be a very good sign...

So here's the basic plot. A mysterious person is searching for something mysterious in Gotham. Batman Bruce Wayne wants Batman Dick Grayson to get Batman Bruce Wayne's girlfriend Catwoman to lose her burgeoning sidekick Catgirl. A mysterious Chinese business lady and her brother want to buy up buildings in Crime Alley from Wayne Enterprises. The lady is a costumed character with some super-ninja abilities. There are some bad ninjas, lead by a recurring DCU villain who appears in a very Geoff Johns-like ending (And, to Daniel's credit, looks like a totally insane lunatic in that splash page; I would have scanned it to say, "Wow, look at this bat-shit insane and therefore awesome image!" but I don't want to spoil it).

Here are the parts where Daniel's storytelling remains frustratingly hard to read.

First, a scene from a meeting between the Chinese siblings and Lucius Fox and Dick Grayson:What do we make of that object in the final panel? What is it? Is she handing it to him, as the dialogue would suggest? Or is he handing it to her? That is the only appearance of the object. The only object the woman is shown holding either before or after is a little hand-held remote controlling a slide-show presentation, but that is extremely tiny, abut the size of her thumb, and thus isn't he object shown there. My theory is that perhaps it is a tiny, tiny brief case, in which documents are held, because the only thing Fox is shown holding at any point in the scene is a piece of paper.

It's a little detail, sure, but that's all the more reason for it not to lead to an impenetrable panel. Batman editor Mike Marts really needs to yell at Daniel more, I think.

Then there's this strange scene: I think the problems with that last panel are pretty evident to anyone who looks at it (Which is why it perplexes me that Daniel drew it like that, and DC published it like that). This issue contains three full-page splashes, and one two-page splashes, for five entire pages devoted to just five panels. Some of the space would have been much better spent allowing that scene another panel or two in order to read more naturally.

The good news? Those were the only glaringly poor moments in the book.

Plus, there was some genuinely neat moments. I liked this scene, which immediately follows the one in which Dick Grayson's second meeting with the Chinese business lady/costumed character is interrupted by her disappearing into the skyline while shouting instructions to the driver of a car that is already speeding away.

Check out this two-page sequence:
Forgiving the fact that Dick Grayson seems to change clothes between the seconds it takes him to finish thinking a sentence—he's narrating, not talking, so it's easy to forgive int his case—a "Bat-Drone" that delivers Batman costumes is exactly the sort of thing Batman would have—cutting-edge, ridiculously expensive military hardware used for something fairly mundane. As soon as Batman heard that the U.S. was developing Predator drones to drop hellfire missiles on people in different countries, you know he ordered one, painted it black, slapped a bat-symbol on it, customized the air foils a bit and then thought, "Perfect—so what can I drop out of the sky with this, other than deadly missiles, since I abhor lethal violence?"

Obviously he went with costume delivery. It's probably also good for delivering spare bat-a-rangs and snacks.

Oh, and here's the mysterious Chinese business lady's costumed identity, Peacock: It's a pretty nice design. Bright and garish in a way that makes her stand out from all the other characters in capes and tights running around this book, and "sexy" and feminine while covering up the majority of her body. I think only the boy peacocks are brightly colored, though; the girl peacocks are just brown and drab-looking. At least American peacocks. Maybe peacocks dress different in China.

So that's what's up with our friends Batman and Tony Daniel these days.


Oh, Daniel does waste an entire page giving us a splash of Batman Bruce Wayne in his new, dumb-looking Batman costume. I've complained about it a here a couple of times before, and was mostly focused on the chest symbol, piping and Nintendo Power Glove-like gauntlets. When I saw Daniel's drawing though, I noticed something else: Not only did Batman lose his trunks, but he replaced them with a pretty heavy duty metal codpiece of some kind.

Apparently, Bruce Wayne returned from Darkseid's Omega Sanction time trap extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of his penis.

Like, more concerned about the safety and well-being of his penis than before.


RELATED: This has nothing to do with Tony Daniel or Batman #704, but I saw the cover for April's Batman Inc #6 again at Kelly Thompson's joint the other day, and I couldn't help but notice that the bison or buffalo on the cover looked kind of sad:Why is he so bummed out? He's hanging out with Batman, Chief Man-of-Bats and Red Raven! Isn't that, like, a dream come true? Is he sad because he doesn't get to wear a Bat-cowl like Ace the Bat-Hound, or a cape like Comet the Super-Horse? Or is he sad for his own personal, buffalo reasons we wouldn't really understand, not being buffalo ourselves?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meanwhile, at Blog@Newsarama...

I have a review of Adrian Tomine's Scenes From an Impending Marriage posted at Blog@ today, should you want to go read it. Spoiler alert: Scenes is really good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Steve Wolfhard's Zombie Chasers cover and illustrations

I recently had a conversation with a former co-worker of mine, a children's librarian, and asked her if she'd read any good kids books lately. She recommended a few, I placed holds on 'em at my local library, and when I picked them up I was slightly dismayed to find that they weren't picture books, which I usually think of when I hear the phrase "kids books," but prose fiction chapter books.

I may or may not have discussed this on EDILW before, but I read very, very, very little prose fiction anymore. Part of it is because of the volume of comics I read, which more than fulfills my fantasy and escapism quota, part of it is because as I writer myself I have a hard time turning off the writing parts of my brain and really losing myself in prose fiction and part of it is because I simply prefer non-fiction at this point in my life (I do read a lot of fairy tales and mythology, which I guess is fiction, but libraries put them in the non-fiction sections with Dewey Decimal numbers).

Still, this friend has pretty good taste in just about everything, so I thought I'd give the books a chance. One of them was the book whose cover is pictured above, John Kloepfer's The Zombie Chasers. The other is David Lubar's Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie Book 1: My Rotten Life: (My friend is fond of zombies, as you could probably tell).

I picked up Zombie Chasers first, in part because of the intriguing title—kids who chase zombies? But zombies are usually the chase-ers, not the chase-ees!—and party because I liked the cover so much.

Those are some great, kid-friendly zombies, with their little, beady, blank-white eyes lumpy, bumpy, green skin and abstracted, cartoony gore. Here's the entire jacket, sans the plot summary and the UPC symbol and price tag, which will give you a better look at the sorts of zombies that populate the outside of the book: (Click to enlarge, and check out the bearded zombie with a rotten drumstick stuck in its beard, or the zombie with the fishbowl over its head).

As it turned out, it was a pretty good book. It's about Zack Clarke, a middle-school kid who returns home after a hard day to have a hard evening, thanks to his older sister's slumber party and the mean girls she invites to it. And then things get really bad, when a zombiepocalypse scenario occurs in his suburban Arizona neighborhood. Together with one of those girls, Madison, the prettiest girl in the eighth grade, Madison's boggle Twinkles, Zack's best friend Rice, and, eventually, school jock and bully Greg Bansal-Jones must navigate their zombified hometown on a quest to safety.

I'm well out of the target audience for this book, and there were certainly aspects I didn't care for—Kloepfer's writing is clever and funny, but the dialogue he writes for his kid stars is often too clever and humorous in the face of deadly danger, for example (The kids all sort of annoyed me whenever they talked to one another).

On the other hand, it was a really quick and engaging read, which tackled many of the regular zombie literature tropes and still managed to feel fresh. This was my first exposure to zombie lit of any kind aimed at younger kids—back in my day, zombies were strictly the providence of R-rated horror movies—and while there's a lot of implied death and gore in this story, I was sort of surprised at how kid-friendly zombies actually are.

In makes sense in retrospect, but rotting corpses certainly fall lend themselves to the sorts of icky, gross-out things that interest kids, Kloepfer focusing on the grody aspects of zombies, with dripping mucus and slime, bad breath, stinky smells and, in artist Steve Wolfhard's art, lots of flies and bugs circling around the dead.

Also kid-friendly was the fact that this zombiepocalypse may not necessarily be the end of the world; a few characters are brought back from being undead—becoming un-undead, as the characters start to stumble upon a cure. It was also refreshing to see that while Kloepfer including personal takes on familiar scenes and events—a trip to the grocery store, amusing forms of zombies, creative ways of destroying them, a fight in a graveyard—he also works with a few of his own, individual contributions to zombie lore, like a possible "zombie garlic," a popular vitamin/nutritional supplement that is (maybe) to zombies as garlic is to vampires, and hints at a unique source of the zombie plague—a fast food chain with a gimmick sandwich that seems to violate the order of nature (BurgerDog, which serves a hotdog that looks like a hamburger).

The source of the plague, and one of its possible cures, conform quite nicely to my personal dietary beliefs, so I suppose that contributed quite a bit to my enjoyment of the book.

Well that, and the artwork.

Wolfhard draws great zombies, and is a great zombie designer. He's a great character designer too. And BurgerDog mascot designer. He had a really nice, thin line that he applies to abstracted and exaggerated characters—the skinny kids are really skinny, the fat kid is really fat, the athletic guy is really athletic—and his line gets jagged and incredibly busy when it comes to the undead. They often look a bit like the work of a different artist, that's how strong the clash in design is between his live humans and dead ones.

His zombies are also generally pretty funny. I had a hard time finding a good crowd shot to scan that the crease between pages didn't render un-scannable, but his bigger and more detailed drawings reward looking long at, and the 100 or so interior illustrations that he fills the book with are often pretty inspired, and show initiative, illustrating things not discussed in the prose (Zack's ant farm, and the fact that the ants started eating one another when he quit feeding them, is mentioned, for example, but Wolfhard provides a bunch of illustrations of the ants battling one another, in one case with weapons, and a bunch of ant heads end up on spikes at the end of the battle).

As much as I dug Wolfhard's work, it also sort of bugged me as I was reading the book, as both the name Wolfhard sounded familiar (due to it's awesomeness; WOLF + HARD adds up to one badass name) and artwork looked extremely familiar. The bio of him in the back just mentioned that he "ha been drawing comics since he graduated from animation college," without naming any of his work, so it wasn't until after I finished the book and took to the Internet that I was able to find out why exactly Wolfhard's work and name seemed so familiar.

Steve Wolfhard is responsible for the excellent Cat Rackham comic, which I recommended on EDILW last fall after reading every story I could find on Wolfhard's Cat Rackham site (Man, that Cat Rackham Gets Depression comic is sooooooo good...>!)

Let's look at some of his Zombie Chasers art:

Wolfhard also draws little illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, with some sort of zombie forming the shape of the number of the chapter. Here are a few of the more creative examples:


Zombie Chasers is going to be a series of books, with the second volume, Zombie Chasers: Undead Ahead due out in March. If you're a grade-school kid, you should definitely have your parents buy this for you from a locally-owned brick and mortar bookstore, if such a thing still exists near you. And then you should stop reading this blog, because it's full of swears.

If you're a grown-up who likes reading neat kids books, or likes reading about zombies and don't mind reading things written for kids, you might like this.

And if you like looking at really neat drawings of zombies and kids running around, then you should definitely check this out, if only to look at the pictures.


Wolfhard talks a little bit more about his work for the book, and shares some images, on this 2010 post from his blog (And hey, check out his crazy-ass squirrel family tree while you're there). You can also see more of his zombies at


I should note that at no point during this book do any of the character actually chase zombies, but they are themselves constantly chased by zombies. The title is thus completely inaccurate, and perhaps false advertising. Of course, they do seem to be figuring out a zombie antidote of some sort by the end of the book, so perhaps there will be actual zombie-chasing in future volumes.

Some thoughts on various aspects of the recent film The Green Hornet

1.) Michael Gondry: Despite what some of the reviews I’ve read may lead one to believe, this is not the worst movie ever made. It is, however, the worst Michael Gondry movie ever made. But then, Gondry’s filmography so far includes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind—great films, all. If Green Hornet ended up anywhere in the general ballpark of any of those, it would likely be the greatest superhero film ever made.

His directing credit aside, this isn’t really a Michael Gondry film. He wrote or co-wrote the three above, while all he did here was direct, and he reportedly didn’t have final cut of the movie…that belonged to writer, producer and star Seth Rogen.

Rogen and Gondry are two talents whose work I’ve enjoyed immensely, the latter’s a lot more than the former’s, but they are strange talents to mix. Not so much peanut butter and chocolate as wasabi and chocolate—a unique, interesting combination that piques your interest, excites you a little and, while ultimately not very good, it’s still something you’re glad you tried.

I’d really like to see an all-Gondry superhero movie—something probably impossible with this particular property, given that it’s been in some form of development for, I don’t know, 96 years now…?—but his little touches are nice, and I sort of enjoyed playing the little game of “Is this Gondry? Or Rogen? Or something left over from an earlier version?” with everything sort of cool that popped up in the movie.

2.) Seth Rogen: Even slimmed down and in occasionally doing some serious dramatic acting, action hero is well outside Rogen’s abilities. Rogen is apparently well aware of his limitations, however, which probably explains why he and co-writer Evan Goldberg (his Superbad and Pineapple Express co-writer) crafted a set of circumstances under which the “hero” of the film is of the sort that Rogen could play.

His Britt Reid is a hard-partying, womanizing rake of the filmic Tony Stark variety. Rogen doesn’t look as hot as Robert Downey Jr.? Maybe not, but his Britt is rich.

Rogen doesn’t look like he could beat all that many dude’s asses, or that he spent his entire life working out and training in martial arts, Bruce Wayne-style, does it? Well, that’s fine, because his Green Hornet becomes a hero on a lark with zero training, and does very little in the way of ass-beating anyway—he mostly just kicks guys in the face after Kato has beaten them unconscious or when Kato is holding them.

I thought it was kind of clever how Rogen and Goldberg tore apart the Green Hornet character and concept, and rebuilt it into something perfect for Rogen.

3.) Jay Chou: Of all the principal actors, Chou was the one I knew the least about—IMDB tells me he was in Curse of the Golden Flower, playing one of the princes, so I guess I saw him in a movie before, although I don’t recall his performance in particular from that film (I guess that’s what happens when you co-star with Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat, a cast of hundreds, a cast of computer-generated hundreds more, and opulent costumes and sets).

I thought he did quite well, and was probably the most charismatic actor in the film, surprisingly enough. Kato, as presented here, is a pretty dynamite character—he’s basically brilliant at just about everything, and by a few twists of fate is stuck in the shadow of Britt Reid by day and The Green Hornet by night. Rogen and Goldberg make that a pretty big plot point, and the film shares more in common with the buddy cop movie formula than the superhero movie formula.

Chou holds up his scenes opposite Rogen and the other bigger stars just fine, and the action scenes featuring him are pretty spectacular. He sells it all well: He makes all the amazing things he’s given to do seem believable.

4.) Christoph Waltz: I was surprised by how funny Waltz’s performance turned out to be in this film, as almost every single review I read mentioned how disappointing his work in this film was compared to his performance in Inglourius Basterds.

He plays the villain Chudnofsky (The person I saw the film with asked if he was an original character or from the TV show or from the comics or radio, and I had no idea).

I enjoyed the character and his performance of him. I particularly liked the reversal at the beginning, in which James Franco tries to communicate to him how he’s not really all that scary and, when he has a big gun pointed at his head, how he could maybe be scarier.

It’s a neat scene, and while the question of whether or not Chudnofsky is sufficiently scary seemed to have been settled in it, I liked the way it was apparently gnawing at him, as later in the film he seems to take Franco’s advice to heart and, after being bested by the Green Hornet a few times, he starts to transition into being a supervillain.

In that way, he’s quite akin to this Green Hornet—both are characters that exist in “the real world,” but insist on acting like characters from a comic book or superhero movie, even though that seems incredibly impractical and pretty much everyone around them thinks it’s kind of insane.

5.) Cameron Diaz: Diaz does what she was apparently called in to do—be pretty, provide a female name to put on the poster, play a character that fills in a plot hole and gives the two male leads something else to fight over—and does fine at it, but it’s a nothing role, and she’s wasted in it.

It wouldn’t be too hard to write the character out of the film completely, really, and her presence is mostly uncomfortable. That plot hole I mentioned is that while Britt and Kato are very enthusiastic about playing superheroes and fighting crime, they know absolutely nothing about crime or the city, and so Diaz’s character—who applies for a job at Britt’s paper, noting her major in journalism and minor in criminology—works up a character profile for the Green Hornet in the name of research, which Britt and Kato then use as a road map to becoming scourges of the underworld.

It’s an okay idea, reinforcing the central gag of the characters’ career as crime-fighters—they have no idea what they’re doing—but the way it’s executed is sort of weak, and it seemed glaringly unrealistic to me. Not that the movie is all that realistic in the first place, but the way she extrapolated a huge plan from the Green Hornet’s first minor act of vandalism was a bigger suspension of disbelief for me than all the little things.

6.) Racial politics: The Green Hornet is a rich white dude with an Asian butler/chauffeur who works for him during the day and puts on a mask to serve as his sidekick at night, without so much as a costume or superhero identity. That might not have been a very big problem in the ‘30s and ‘40s, but it’s kind of hard to avoid dealing with at this point.

Refreshingly, it’s not even an issue in this movie. In fact, I don’t remember Britt or anyone else making even a joking allusion to Kato being Asian (The first issue of Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet series from Dynamite, which was adapted from Smith’s screenplay for the film, had the Green Hornet joking with Kato about his people supposedly being good at being math—you know, short people).

Kato just happens to be Asian in this, and is presented as Britt’s partner both in his civilian identity and in his superhero identity. Actually, Kato here is the Green Hornet. He literally does everything for Britt, whom he really only needs as money man, muse and friend.

7.) Sexual politics: Okay, this was sort of unexpected, but remember a while back when there was all that coverage of that goofy study about how today’s superheroes as seen in film are bad role models for boys, in part because of how they treat women?

Well, Britt Reid is another one of those heroes. Oddly, while his character grows up a little during the course of the film, he doesn’t grow up all that much.

The way he treats Cameron Diaz’s character is downright strange, particularly when later in the film she mentions suing him for sexual harassment after Incident #78 or so of Things He Does That Could Get Him Sued For Sexual Harassment.

I did like the fact that the Britt Reid character never actually “wins” her. Even when she’s brought into the fold of his and Kato’s superhero life, and when she becomes a third party, she never stops being somewhat repulsed by Britt.

Also, after seeing decades of film in which the schlubby, old or otherwise unattractive character gets a girl clearly out of his league by virtue of the actor playing the character also being the writer, producer or director, it was nice to see Seth Rogen’s character get shot down so hard.

Unfortunately, Kato doesn’t get the girl either, despite putting in a lot of effort. The Asian guy never gets the white girl in Hollywood!

8.) Violence: Chris Sims is right—the movie is extremely violent. Much of that violence lends itself to the cartoonish, but Green Hornet and Kato wreak an incredible amount of destruction throughout this film, destroying fleets of cars—many of them police cars—and taking dozens of lives. It’s fitting for their approach to crime-fighting—heroes who pose as villains—but it was certainly surprising, bordering on shocking, to see some of that violence. Like when Britt was kicking that one dude in the face after Kato was holding him down, or the way in which Kato disposes of the villain (Yow!).

I’m not complaining; it was one more way in which the film differentiated itself from a lot of other superhero films.

9.) My favorite parts: They’re both in the trailer, although not set-up quite that well in the trailer: Chou’s Kato using Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch and Chou’s Kato kicking Rogen’s Britt just so, sending him flying backwards through that tiny little window.

10.) The TV theme: I was a little surprised that the theme song of the 1966 TV show made such a tiny appearance, late in the film (it plays for a few seconds during the epilogue). That is a pretty great theme, and is probably right below “Bruce Lee” on a list of enduringly awesome things that series gave us.

On the other hand, Quentin Tarrantino and RZA used it to such great effect in Kill Bill, that maybe the makers of Green Hornet were a little gun-shy about using a song that is now identified with Kill Bill in the minds of most of their potential audience.

11.) Green Hornet II?: Given the troubled production and the thousands of years in development hell, the film seemed rather confident about the possibilities of the sequel.

Certainly the epilogue could simply be an optimistic ending, implying that Kato and the Green Hornet’s weird quest for extremely violent, half-assed justice would go on, but it promised a sequel just as surely as that shot at the end of 1989’s Batman, where we see Batman posing on a building, a Bat-signal shining in the sky.

The film did much better than expected—and, quality-wise, was much better than expected, I think—but I don’t know if that means it did well enough to earn a sequel.

I wouldn’t mind watching another Green Hornet with these characters and actors, but it’s not the sort of franchise that demands a sequel in the way that other comic book superhero movies do.

Like, you know how every time a Batman movie, you immediately started thinking about what villains they could use in the next one? Yeah, I don’t feel like that after seeing Green Hornet—I can’t think of a single Green Hornet villain. I don’t even know if he has villains.

If they do make another one, they should give Kato a villain to fight that knows kung fu; the fighting in here is pretty neat, but there's no really exciting kung fu battle, just Kato tearing people apart.

12.) I still want to see all those other Green Hornets: As I said at the beginning, I’d still kind of like to see an all-Gondry superhero film, and I can’t help wonder what this would have looked like had he worked with, say, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and a different star.

I was really excited when Stephen Chow was attached to direct and star as Kato, but that was a short time.

I was kind of excited when Jet Li was announced as being attached to play Kato at one point. (How is it that Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan were never attached at any point?)

Hell, I still wouldn’t mind seeing Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet. Thanks to Dynamite, I can at least read the script for that one, and imagine what a film version might have looked like.