The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: April 5 – 11, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

COMICS I READ LAST WEEK

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The best comic I read last week was

Superman #20.

Writer: Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

Artist: Patrick Gleason

 

There are so many good things going on in Superman #20, it is difficult to know where to start discussing them. Following an engaging, through a bit frustrating and confusing “Superman Reborn” arc which again altered the status quo for Superman, Lois and Jon, “Black Dawn” – the new arc – jumps in acknowledging but not dwelling on the story just concluded. That is a good thing.

All of this issue feels comfortable and that is the best thing the book has going for it. This version of Superman is known and comfortable. This story is as well. It is so familiar, one of my first thoughts upon concluding the issue is that I want a Worlds Finest Reborn title.

Why? Because Tomasi and Gleason bring Batman and Robin into this issue and the chemistry among the five main characters (Lois, her superpowered family and the Bat family) is so compelling and so well written that it could easily support its own book.

Batman is concerned, of course, that Jon Kent is not reaching his potential. Jon should be, even at this point, far more powerful than his father and he is not. Something is wrong and Batman and Robin have arrived to find out what.

Great set up. Great execution. Great twist in the end of the book.

Patrick Gleason is such a great cartoonist. He is not going for photo realism, rather he creates images that are quickly iconic. His facility with Superman and Batman is matched by the ease with which he draws Robin and Superboy. Why he is not mentioned in the pantheon of current “great” artists is beyond me.

Tomasi and Gleason are a terrific team. I want them on this title for a long, long time.

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Kong: Skull Island – A Movie Review


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Kong-Skull-Island-poster-fullIs Kong: Skull Island a work of high art, deserving of award nominations and lavish praise? No. It is a hell of a fun movie that is more thoughtful than one might be expecting? Yes. Definitely.

This movie is a companion to the 2014 Godzilla directed by Gareth Edwards (ever heard of him? He directed a little thing called Rogue One). There are giant monsters which originate from Skull Island. Humanity would be well served to leave the place alone.

Of course, we will not do that.

Smartly, the movie opens with an exciting action scene that introduces the audience to Kong right away. Hiding the big gorilla from the audience is not the point. Wowing the audience with stunning visuals is. The movie’s prologue does just that: it wows us. The prologue will play into the overall plot of the film later on, so pay attention.

Pay attention, too, to the opening credits. This is a terrific sequence and sets up this alternate world in which monsters walk. Eagle-eyed audience members will pick up a thing or two about the upcoming movie if the watch closely enough.

John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are introduced as Bill Randa and General Preston Packard respectively. Both actors are at the top of their games here and both know that that game is: play the type, sell the monkey. Randa is a conspiracy theorist (with a hidden agenda) looking to prove the existence of the creature. Packard is a dedicated military man in search of one last mission to validate his service to the country. Yeah, the do not get along but, man, are they fun to watch.

John C. Reilly is in great John C. Reilly fashion as Marlow, a man who has been marooned on Skull Island for a long, long time. He interjects just the right amount of comic relief when comic relief is needed.

Along from the ride is the excellent Brie Larson as Mason Weaver, a Life Magazine photographer. She is an antiwar protester, an accomplished journalist and key to what happens when monkey meets humanity. Have you seen a King Kong movie? Then you likely know what is coming.

Also joining the fun (I think that is the fifth time I have used that word in this review) is the always enjoyable Tom Hiddleston. Hiddleston plays an ex-British Intelligence officer named James Conrad who is something of a solider for hire and expert tracker. Oh, and he gets one absolutely bonkers, over-the-top action sequence.

In fact, the proceedings are entirely bonkers. There are some jaw-dropping effects and some pretty grisly deaths. There is a very nice plot twist in terms of the Kong character and the creature itself is utterly believable. He is actually pretty incredible. There is even an after credits sequence, so stay in your seats until the end.

What is surprising about Kong: Skull Island is that there is a little thematic depth. There are some themes – light themes, to be sure, but themes nonetheless – that play out through the movie. Also worth noting is the film’s treatment of women. They are treated very well here.

Additionally, the movie fashions itself as something of an homage to The Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now and damn if it doesn’t kind of work. Note the “Marlow” and “James Conrad” names we have here.

Kong: Skull Island is an enjoyable romp. It actually has some points to make and it has a lot of fun making them.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND receives FOUR SKULL CRAWLERS out of a possible FIVE.

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Link’n’Blogs – 4.7.17 – Don’t Know Much about History, Mr. President?


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

I am not a great student of history. I want to be a better one. I want to read more, study more, know more. I think this is very important for anyone who wants to be an educated person. It’s all the more important for people like, you know, presidents. So this Newsweek article is all the more disturbing… Be sure to click the link below and, if so interested, click on the video as well. As, Sam Cooke.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S AMERICAN HISTORY

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: March 29 – April 4, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

COMICS I READ LAST WEEK

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The best comic I read last week was

Infamous Iron Man #6.

 

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Alex Maleev 

 

This is my second week in a row selecting a Brian Michael Bendis penned book and that’s a good thing. Perhaps Bendis is back on his stride after hitting a recent slow patch.

His frequent contributor, Alex Maleev, has never missed a step. Though I wondered if his intricate and realistic line work would be suited for an Iron Man title, I was foolish to be concerned: he’s been a terrific match for this book and his Vincent Cassell based Victor Von Doom is pretty cool.

Yes, Dr. Doom is all new, all different and is wearing a version of the Iron Man armor trying to redeem himself after a life of terrible acts. That’s a compelling set up that Bendis is paying off in this issue.

Given the rumor that the stalwarts of the Marvel Universe are about to return to the comics they used to headline, it’s likely this is all going to wrap up soon, and that’s too bad. Marvel has taken a few risks the last few months and what they’ve done with Iron Man has been my favorite of those risks. I’ll be sorry to see it all end.

If you’re a comic reader, do yourself a favor: buy this book in trade paperback. You won’t regret it, I promise!

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Link’n’Blogs – 3.31.17 – Gonzaga Bulldogs Road to the Final Four


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

I care more about this Final Four than I have cared about all the other Final Fours in my lifetime combined… GO ZAGS! ZAG UP! How did they get here? Click the link!

THE GONZAGA BULLDOGS

NCAA Xavier Gonzaga Basketball

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: March 22 – 28, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

COMICS I READ LAST WEEK

The best comic I read last week was Invincible Iron Man #5.

 

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Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Stefano Casselli

Stefano Casselli is a great artist for this new (and who knows how long this “new” version will last?) Iron Man, who really isn’t a man at all. Iron Man is really Iron Heart – 15-year-old Riri Williams, who built her own armor and has taken the place of Tony Stark. Casselli is a terrific artist overall, but he is really firing on all cylinders with this title. I respect artists whose teenagers and children look like teenagers and children. And Casselli’s do. His Riri Williams looks appropriately youthful while his adults look like adults. One wouldn’t think this would be hard for professional artists to accomplish, but it sure seems to be. Casselli is a good fit for this book – perhaps not quite as good as Sara Pichelli, but close.

Bendis remains one of the best writers in comics today and, while there is not as much heat around this book as I thought there might be, it’s more than a good read. It is a great one. Bendis has an ability to balance superheroics with taking on issues of import, topical and timely ones, and he does so organically. While topical, the issues Bendis takes on spring from character and that is good writing.

Riri Williams is a great lead character and the pairing of her with a tremendous supporting cast including Riri’s mom, Tony Stark’s A.I. consciousness, his birth mother, Mary Jane Watson and Pepper Potts (pitting them against a female antagonist I might add) tells you something important about this book: it’s not comic writing as usual by any means.

I like Riri Williams and I like where this story is going. While the two coming Marvel events (Secret Empire and Generations) seem to suggest the return of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and the tall, blonde Thor, I hope Riri is still around when the dust settles. Comics needs more characters like her.

 

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And They Will Come Together – Unite the League


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The trailer for this year’s Justice League movie is here and it’s pretty damn good! It’s been online for about 2 hours as I write this so, surely, the complaints are about to roll in about it being too dark, too moody, too bleak…, but let’s enjoy it right now for what it is: a terrific preview which I hope indicates a terrific movie.

Justice League Logo.gif

Oh, and note that early production materials were using the phrase “Unite the Seven.” Current materials say “Unite the League.”

And there is no mention of a certain Man of Steel anywhere…

For a deeper dive, here is last summer’s New York Comic Con footage as well…

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