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Category Archives: Richard Kirwin

Heroes and Villains: February 9, 2018


There are mountains of snow outside the home office here in Cobourg, Ontario, but I’m at my desk next to a stack of trades, so it must be time for Heroes and Villains!

This week I was inspired by watching season one of Young Justice (which is awesome if you’ve never watched it) with my kids to do an all-DC edition of the column focusing on the post-rebirth version of the DCU.
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Heroes and Villains: February 1, 2018


Hey there comic fans, I’m here in the home office in chilly Cobourg, Ontario, so that must mean its time for Heroes and Villains!

This week I strapped in for two volumes of Boom Studios Mighty Morphing Power Rangers comic and a retelling of a Greek myth over at Image, so let’s talk comics!

BOOM! Studios

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 3 & 4
Writer: Kyle Higgins; Art: Hendry Prasetya, Jonathan Lam & Daniel Bayliss

I was in grade 9 when the original MMPR show hit airwaves on fix kids, so to be honest I was a little too old to be watching it… not that that stopped me of course. Something about the show, despite its many flaws, really grabbed me. Was it the theme song? Of course it was. But it was also the fully realized Japanese monster vs. guy in a robot suit battles, the well-choreographed martial arts and endearing quality of the characters. The Green Ranger saga and its follow up with the introduction of the White Ranger were pretty epic arcs for a kids show and I was all in.

That said, I always felt like there was a layer the series didn’t hit because its job was to run on Saturday mornings and sell toys. The recent film tried, but didn’t get there. However, this comic series absolutely does.

Although I had the option to start with Volume 1, I had seen images of the parallel universe storyline running through later volumes of the series and just had to start there. I was not disappointed.

I joined the story at the beginning of Volume 3, with the Rangers command centre overthrown by the sinister Rita Repulsa and her minions, Angel Grove under siege and the Rangers all dressed in green, sharing the powers of sixth Ranger Tommy Oliver. From there things got wild with a dystopian parallel universe, evil Tommy, clone Goldars, military style Ranger shock troops and Bulk and Skull actually doing something useful.

I cannot stress enough how much fun this book was to read as a Power Rangers fan. It gave me the moments I wanted but never got on the series by treating the characters and their universe with the same kind of seriousness as the X-Men or the Avengers. It uses tropes of the comic medium to flesh out the Rangers world while still staying true to the heart of the original series.

Writer Kyle Higgins is either a Ranger fan himself, or really did his homework to make this series feel like a labour of love. Making Rita and her coney bra-things a real threat is not an easy task, but he pulls it off. He also crafts nice moments between the Rangers and offers a look at the devastating effects of having giant monsters and robots battle across your city once or twice a week.

Credit as well to series artists Hendry Prasetya, Jonathan Lam and Daniel Bayliss for keeping continuity between their styles and respecting the source material enough nogt to go hard on redesigns, but instead to breath modern life into them.

One final shout out to the folks at BOOM! Studios for yet another nostalgia trip that exceeds my expectations by using a property I enjoy and treating it with respect to create something awesome.

IMAGE COMICS

Kill The Minotaur (TP)
Writers: Chris Pasetto & Christian Cantamessa; Artist: Lukas Ketner

I have to admit that I really should be familiar enough with the story of Theseus and the Minotaur from years working in a museum to be able to to tell how accurate to the source material this is… but I’m not. I remember a maze, a dude and a monster, all of which are covered in this take on the ancient Greek myth of a bull headed monster and the man that slays it.

In this spirit of Frank Millars 300, Kill the Minotaur spices up the story, adding lots of gore, a hint at space aliens (my take) and of course some gratuitous nudity and cursing.

The story begins with the king of Crete losing his son to the previously mentioned monster, which leads to years of conflict with nearby Athens where “tributes” are taken to be fed to the beast inside its labyrinth home.

Enter Theseus, son of the king, warrior in training and smart mouth layabout who is dragged into the battle and dropped into the maze along with his best friend, a mysterious ally and a some red ensigns… err… fellow countrymen.

The story moves along with lots of bodies, blood, guts and passable character development as Theseus becomes the hero he was destined to be. Pretty standard stuff and all well executed.

The design of the Minotaur was a fresh take, with it being a monster more in line with John Carpenter’s Thing than your typical guy with a bull’s head. It was a good choice and pairs nicely with the otherworldly nature of the maze, itself a living thing.

From a critical stand point, the writing isn’t anything overly fresh and the the art is a little sketchy here and there, but cover to cover, the comic is well produced. In fact, I would not be at all surprised to see a film adaptation come out of this as it seems tailor made to do so.

For fans of mythology and brutal, monster themed gore, Kill the Minotaur would make for a fine addition to the shelf.

That’s all from me this week, so from my corner of the multiverse to yours, excelsior!

Heroes and Villains: January 19, 2018


Good day comic fans! I’m here in the office in snowy Cobourg, Ontario and that must mean its time for Heroes and Villains!

In today’s column I will be taking a look at the first two volumes of Injection by one of my favourite writers, Warren Ellis, as well as some titles from Zenescope, Dark Horse and Boom Studios. So without any further ballyhoo, let’s talk comics!

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Heroes and Villains: January 12, 2018


Welcome back to Heroes and Villains, the column where I get to live my geek dreams and talk about comics with a captive audience!

This week I had the opportunity to read Volume 1 of American Gods from Dark Horse Comics and a few quick reads from Image, so let’s get started!

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Heroes and Villains, January 3, 2018

Welcome once again to the home office here in snowy Cobourg, Ontario as I bring you another edition of Heroes and Villains! This week I’m going to take a long look at the first two volumes of Marvel’s X-Men: Blue series. Ready? Let’s talk comics!

Marvel

X-Men: Blue, Volume 1 & 2
Writer: Cullen Bunn; Artists: Jorge Molina, Julian Lopez, Cory Smith and several others

If I am a Marvel guy first, then I am an X-Men guy second. I’ve dabbled with Avengers, the FF and Spidey, but I enrolled at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters back during the Chris Claremont days and although I have a skipped a few semesters, my attendance record is pretty good. Until lately that is.

After the “San-Francisco era” of the X-Men came to a close and the Schism event divided the team into two camps, my interest in the world of X slowly faded. Combined with some concepts that I wasn’t that into like the rise of the Inhumans, the death of Wolverine and the launch of All New X-Men by Brian Bendis it just didn’t seem like my bag. To be fair, I never gave the all-new concept a chance. I didn’t want to see past versions of the original five X-Men running around in the modern Marvel universe. Why would I? Jean was dead (again), Cyclops was a much more interesting character leading his mutant revolution, Angel was coming off a resurrection/rebirth thing and Beast and Iceman had both gone through enough character growth that they were compelling characters. What did I want with teenage versions of these characters?

So I didn’t read it. I did know roughly what was going on by reading some other core X-titles, but I still didn’t dig it. How much time travel and alternate future/history stuff can a series take before it becomes a parody of itself? In the case of the X-Men it seemed like there was no end in sight, so I quit altogether.

With another round of relaunched, all new, all different, Marvel Now, etc. series on the way, I was excited to see the Blue and Gold concepts back out there. The Gold team would be the Claremont lineup of Kitty Pryde, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine (Old Man Logan) and Rachel Summers. The Blue squad was the original five, with the twist being that Jean Grey is now team leader. Also, Angel has fire wings for some reason. My intention was to pick up the Gold trades, as I like that team and my daughter is a huge Kitty Pryde fan. However, when I went trade hunting at BMV, there was no Gold to be had, just the first two editions of Blue. And, since I wasn’t leaving with no X-Men comics I decided to give them a chance.

Volume 1: Strangest

I was into this book at the get-go. The costume designs have a throw back to the original X-Factor uniforms and the first artist, Jorge Molina, has a nice style that captured the youthful look of these young X-Men. I was willing to overlook the battle with Black Tom and Juggernaut, even though it was pretty played out and Black Tom was dead last time I checked, because it was done well and the first issue payed off with the reveal that it was Magneto that had brought this team together.

It was here, however, that the parallel universe shenanigans kicked into gear with the introduction of Ultimate Wolverine to the team. Ultimate Wolverine in this case being James Hudson, the blonde son of the original ultimate Wolverine. This brings the marvel universe “Wolverine” total to 4, with Dark Wolverine, All-New Wolverine (X-23) and Old Man Logan already in circulation.

That wouldn’t have been that bad, but from there we also got the all new Marauders, who were, of course, parallel universe versions of Quicksilver and some D-List x-characters brought together by a sexy, lady Mr. Sinister named, sigh, Mrs. Sinister. If it sounds like to much to read in my review, imagine how it felt in the book.

All that said, I wasn’t as turned off by the above as I expected to be. Molina’s art is excellent, the script is good and I do like the X-Men, so I rolled with it. Not my favorite X-Men title to be sure, but I’ve read much worse.

Unfortunately, Jorge Molina left after issue 3 and Volume 2 had to take a detour into that most dark and all-encompassing of Marvel destinations: the company-wide cross-over event.

Volume 2: Toil and Trouble

So I gather there was this Secret Empire thing with an evil Captain America that some folks out there didn’t really cotton to. I haven’t read it, so I don’t know if the concept itself worked out, but holy smokes is it a pain being tossed into one of these things while reading one book and not all the books. Emma Frost, Havok and a very dapper suit-wearing Xorn (???) are bad guys with their own mutant island that evil Steve Rogers gave them. They have a bunch of X-People on their side, all with fancy new powers, and Magneto has a truce with Rogers to protect his young X-team. Okay, sure, but… huh? Hey, there’s Polaris! And the X-Jet was really Danger the living danger room lady all along because of course. The art through this story was pretty rough, as was having no earthly idea what was going on. Why is Wolfsbane a bad guy that can split herself into tiny wolves? Why is Xorn wearing a suit and cape? Why does Emma want to reprogram young Cyclops to think he is old Cyclops? He’s 17; isn’t that kinda creepy? Weak stuff all around. Especially if you are a fan of Emma Frost or someone who liked the Xorn reveal left as it was back in New X-Men by Grant Morrison and never got into the Danger character in the first place.

From here, we go full tilt parallel universe shenanigans as Madeline Pryor (really???) does magic things to Beast and makes an evil team of alternate Colossus, Storm, Pixie and Nightcrawler battle the X-Men. Ugh.

The Storm in question, Bloodstorm (who first appeared in the oh-so 1990s Mutant X series) is a vampire Storm that kinda doesn’t want to be bad and ends up helping. So, of course, they put her on the team.

Okay, so I pride myself in not being that comic book guy that complains about stuff. We all get to have our favourite era and we have the right to like or not like others as we choose, but this series just feels like the well has run dry. It’s like X-Men comics are the air on a non-stop flight to Australia and back, recycled to the point where it’s just not good anymore. I mean, yeah, I’m breathing, but that’s about it.

If you are to believe the internets, there was, prior to the FOX deal, an official edict at Marvel stating that X-Men writers could not create any new characters as they would be rolled into the FOX cinematic canon and that made Mickey the Mouse sad. Is this comic a victim of that? Is this what happens when you aren’t allowed to have new ideas? It kinda feels that way.

There are things to like here and I absolutely think that Cullen Bunn has done well with what he has on hand, but between inconsistent art (seven different artists over 12 issues), getting sucked into the Secret Empire event and non-stop parallel universe shenanigans X-Men: Blue left me feeling just that, blue.

Til next semester, cheers.

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ Is a Treat for the Whole Family

With a holiday season as cold as this one has been, a trip to the movies with my family was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Here in the town of Cobourg, Ontario, we have a better than average Rainbow Cinema. The screens aren’t huge, the seats don’t recline and the sound doesn’t make your eyes bleed, but the popcorn is fresh, the lines are short and the pre-show and trailers clock in at five minutes max. Overall, its a perfect place for my wife and I to take our two kids (boy, 6 and girl, 9) to enjoy a movie that doesn’t require 3D, IMAX or any other ballyhoo to be enjoyed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new, updated Jumanji flick, but it did have a few things going for it right off the top. First, The Rock (sorry, Dwayne Johnson). I’m a mark and thus far, with the possible exception of Doom, I have yet to not enjoy a movie that he was in. Second, Jack Black. I haven’t seen all his movies, but School of Rock will always have a spot on my shelf. And, third, Karen Gillan. Karen and I go way back to her days as Amy Pond, so seeing her get a second big Hollywood gig after Guardians of the Galaxy is a treat. I couldn’t tell you anything about the director and I’d only seen a few trailers, so stars aside, my expectations were measured to say the least.
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Haters Gonna Hate: A ‘Bright’ Movie Review

Bright, the first big budget, straight-to-Netflix movie starring Will Smith is not as bad as you have been led to believe. In fact, if you enjoy medium-high concept fantasy fiction and buddy cop shoot-em-up movies in equal measure, it’s probably just the movie for you. Read the rest of this entry

Heroes and Villains, December 27, 2017

Welcome one and all to the sense-shattering second edition of the all new, not so different, Heroes and Villains column! It’s the time of the week where I get a sneak peek at a pile of upcoming comics and then share my thoughts! This week I’ll be looking at a sampler platter of books from Boom Studios, Zenescope, Oni Press, and Image Comics, so let’s get to it!
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I Am ‘The Last Jedi’: A Film Review

Being a pop-culture geek, I have a pretty deep bench when it comes to heroes. There’s Mick Foley a.k.a. Mankind/Cactus Jack, the guy that taught me no matter how hard and far you fall, you get back up and finish the damn match. There’s Cannonball from The New Mutants, the awkward kid with the clumsy power that became the leader his friends needed. Then we have the big guns, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Nightwing, Stone Cold Steve Austin… like I said, the bench is deep. But, if I were to draft an all-personal hero team and I had the first pick overall, I would draft Luke Skywalker.

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Heroes and Villains, December 20, 2017

Hey there, true believers, my name is Richard Kirwin and I would like to welcome you to my first edition of Heroes and Villains!

It goes without saying that I begin this column with humility and appreciation for the opportunity to do two of my favorite things: read comics and talk about comics. After the passing of longtime writer Glenn Walker, my friend Andy Burns asked me if I was willing to step in and give writing this column a go. Knowing Glenn only through his writing and presence here on the site, it is with all due respect for his work and legacy that I agreed to do it. I know that writing this means something to me and to the friends and colleagues Glenn has here at Biff Bam Pop, so I will do my best to bring you reviews, rants and insights into the world we all love. The world of comics.

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