Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

I saw "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" today, starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and was met with a really great film. But beyond the great action sequences and plot twists, there were a lot of metaphors that went hand-in-hand with the story's main thrust of this married couple's life together. Obviously, there's the spy double-life that stands as a metaphor for the side of ourselves, like work and time with friends, that we don't share with our loved ones completely, but there are other things that come out of this film really organically, like how the couple doesn't fit in with their suburban neighborhood at large, filled with happy couples, where these two spies are faced with things like children and such that don't fit into their career plans. They're really outcasts in this regard, even though they do their best to be pleasant neighbors. Also, the cheating metaphor really works strongly with the spy theme, as each of them make excuses about work, overlook the signs, wonder what to do after the shady-goings-on are discovered (do they start over?), etc. There was one scene where Mr. Smith comes home with blood on his collar, as opposed to lipstick on his collar, and does his best to hide that, which beautifully illustrates this point. A lot of basic misunderstandings that go hand-in-hand with married life speckle this film with examples of what we don't know about the ones closest to us. Go see this for yourself. I'm sure I overlooked plenty of things while watching the film too. I'd be curious what a second viewing might produce.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Scott Pilgrim's Final Fantasy

I'm assuming most of you have read "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," so I don't need to tell you how awesome it is and what great taste in women Scott has. But I do have to dwell on the "Final Fantasy" references, because I love the games. Scott is a gamer, obviously, as he plays video games in his basement all the time and talks about Sonic 3 and whatnot. But there were three "Final Fantasy" references in the second volume of this series. The first was playing a guitar melody he got from "Final Fantasy 2," which is my favorite game ever. The older "Final Fantasy" games for the Super Nintendo always had great soundtracks. I remember being really excited when "Final Fantasy 3" was released and you could actually order the soundtrack on CD. Wallace, Scott's roomie, later mentions that Scott cried when he saved over his "Final Fantasy" game, which I think I've done before too. lol. The old FF games are seriously 80+ hours long, and you have to level up your characters to make them stronger and acquire rare items and...to have to redo all that is super-frustrating. Reference #3 was after defeating Ramona's second evil ex-boyfriend, when he collected coins and an item. After every "Final Fantasy" battle, you got coins to purchase things and sometimes an item, something lame like an antidote, or a useful thing like a minthril sword or minthril shield. The skateboard was obviously a reference to this, as it listed the strengths that it would increase, like Luck +3, which the weapons and armor of FF were used for. But, frustrating like in the games, certain weapons and armor can only be used by certain characters. A ninja can use brass knuckles, but a white mage can't. A black mage can use a magic wand, but a warrior can't. Same thing with Scott Pilgrim. He says he should have taken those skateboarding lessons, but he never did, so the item he earned didn't help him in the least.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Star Wars: Revelations

This past weekend I saw the 40-minute fan fiction movie "Star Wars: Revelations," which was released on-line, as a profitless venture from a fan who spent $20,000 to make the film. Given the amount of money spent on the creation, it was really well-done. The special effects were decent, standing out sometimes as a little off, sometimes glaringly fake, but passing for realistic every so often. The movie was a little hazy and poorly-acted, but what do you expect from actors getting paid next-to-nothing? The storyline was actually rather compelling, assuming that some jedis remained alive after "Episode III," following the journey of a seer whose sister was a jedi (or jedi-in-training). It was difficult to discern some things that should have been explicit, such as the first vision, when our heroine bumped into a bounty hunter and had a vision in a club. I didn't really catch that she bumped into anybody, so I was lost for a minute or two. And I hate to say it, but I think I've seen better light saber effects on our local college station, which believe me, is pretty bad. And the Emperor looked like he wore a rubber Halloween mask, but hey, the spaceship fights, Vador, the visions...they looked good. But given the budget again, I think the filmmaker did a decent job, and I'm sure he did so hoping to have some sort of offer present itself upon its release, which I don't doubt he will receive.

Comics I'm getting this week:
"Spellbinders #4"
"House of M #2"
"New Avengers #6"
All Marvel, which is pretty lame, but what can you do?

Comics I'm getting next week:
"Runaways #5"
"X-Men: Kitty Pryde: Shadow and Flame #1"
"The Grimoire #3"
"Planetary #23"
"Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #3"
"Previews (v. XV) #7"

Paradise Kiss

Okay, it's now two for two, for Ai Yazawa. "Nana" was a stellar read in the new "Shojo Beat," as I mentioned previously, so I decided to check out her earlier work, "Paradise Kiss." And I am so glad I did. I caught myself laughing out loud several times during the story, chalk-full of quirky characters and fun plot twists. In the first volume of this series, we follow Yukari Hayasaka, model student, as she's drawn into Paradise Kiss, a label being created by art students. She's given an offer to become a model for them, something she weighs throughout the story. Yazawa's artwork, her characterization...it's just wonderful. Reading other shojo manga, like "Absolute Boyfriend" in "Shojo Beat," just didn't do it for me to the same degree. I think one of the big things that's set her apart in my mind is her pacing. She slows down at the right moments, drawing out the emotions in the perfect places, whether it be for comedic effect or drama or whatever. Ai Yazawa is just a master storyteller, at the top of her medium. I'm telling you, you have to check this out! If you're going to give shojo manga a try, let Yazawa be your test run!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Stardust Kid

From the creative team of J.M DeMatteis and Mike Ploog, comes the first issue of "The Stardust Kid" from Image Comics. Riding off the success of Crossgen's "Abadazad," they have created another all-ages fantasy, this one, an amalgam of stereotypes. Including "old ones that predate humanity" and a Troll in Central Park - I mean, a creature who lives in a tree in a park within a big New York-like city, "The Stardust Kid" is about a boy who befriends a shape-shifting "old one" who turns him from the happy-go-lucky kid he was into someone who neglects his friends and is subdued when it comes to family. I was completely underwhelmed by this story, given how absolutely wonderful "Abadazad" was. In comparison, it was completely uninventive, unimpressive, and forgettable.

Friday, June 17, 2005

May comic charts

The number one comic for this past month was depressingly "Green Lantern #1," followed by a more deserving "Astonishing X-Men." On a more promising note, "Walking Dead (vol 3): Safety Behind Bars" was the number one graphic novel. Image won the crown there, but I was really surprised to see that Image's highest-ranked comic on the issue chart was at number 96. Pretty sad for a top five publisher featured in the front of "Previews." I was also a little sad to see "Machine Teen #1" debut so low (under the top 100), but I suppose all of those all-ages comics like "Livewires" are geared more toward trades and the manga readers anyway. The number one manga in comic stores was "Samurai Executioner." Check out the complete charts for yourself at sites such as www.newsarama.com, www.icv2.com, www.comicon.com/pulse, and www.comicbookresources.com, places I regularly visit for such information.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins

I just saw "Batman Begins" and was not disappointed. Christian Bale dons the mask in the latest bat-film and does a great job beside such talent as Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman and Liam Nieson. This Batman doesn't rely on the flashy villains of the previous efforts, but gives the Batman himself the front seat of the film. "Batman & Robin," this ain't. Best Bat-film easily, but remains overshadowed by the "Spiderman" and "X-Men" films in my opinion. But the sequels were the best movies in both of those franchises, so it's early yet for the Bat.

While I loved the "Batman Begins" film, I was overwhelmed to see the "Serenity" trailer. I can not wait for Whedon's film to debut. I was kind of scared that Anara wouldn't really be in it, but there she was, in all her glory. Made my night.

"Batman Begins" opened on Wednesday with over $15 million, making it the eleventh highest grossing Wednesday opener, nestled nicely between "Men In Black" (12) and "Independence Day" (10). Anyone else hoping for Harley and Mr. J in the sequel?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Nana

"Nana" is the featured 100-page story in the first issue of "Shojo Beat." It's the first part of the popular girls' manga in Japan, by the creator of "Paradise Kiss." This was actually the first shojo manga I ever read. My manga reading history has been pretty scarce, consisting of the fantasy "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," the bloody "Battle Royale," silly "Ranma 1/2," and a little bit of the horror title "Tomie." This was completely different. It's about a girl who wants a boyfriend and has some extremely bad luck, so tries having a boy friend without any romantic ties at all. The character of Nana is wonderful and her past, the little revealing moments, all come in the perfect places and are just so well executed, that I have to wonder if this is the best comic story that I've ever read. Seriously. I wasn't expecting to be so taken with this random thing I read, but I was completely mesmerized! I can't wait for the next issue of "Shojo Beat" and the next chapter of the story. Please, please, please check this out if you haven't already. It's a complete jewel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Must-See TV

I wanted to recommend television shows for your viewing enjoyment, none of which are current because TV sucks now.

~ "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" - the best television series ever created, very influential in my writing. Give it a chance beyond season one: it sets things up, but doesn't get phenomenal until the next year.

~ "Angel" - the spin-off from "Buffy" that came into its own and progressively got better each season until its untimely demise.

~ "Neon Genesis Evangelion" - the next best series after "Buffy." Really, you've got to watch this, whether you're a fan of anime or not.

~ "His and Her Circumstances" - From the creators of "Evangelion," a romantic comedy series that surprised me and really deserves to be ranked up there with the others on my list.

~ "Twin Peaks" - David Lynch's off-beat murder mystery. Creepy, intense...all without including the girl that the whole series revolves around - a dead teenager, Laura Palmer.

~ "Firefly" - The space western created by Joss Whedon. It didn't even last a full season, but the DVD is packed with extras and we get to see more of this universe in the feature film "Serenity," coming out in Fall.

~ "Alias" - This one has gotten bad in recent seasons, but the first three seasons are great. Go beyond that at your own risk though. Its plots are silly and it tries to take itself too seriously, but if you can look beyond that for a fun genre series, it's worth it.

~ "R.O.D: The TV (Read or Die)" - An anime I started watching on G4TV late at night. It's really intriguing and while I haven't watched the whole series through from episode one to the end, I've seen plenty enough to recommend it. I just watched the movie the series was based on, with characters that the series doesn't even focus on, and will be watching the entire series through Netflix in the weeks to come.

Television (not as good as these) that I find myself watching from time to time now:
~ "Teen Titans, Go!"
~ "Justice League Unlimited" - If I catch it.
~ G4TV ("Attack of the Show," "Icons," "Filter," etc.)
~ MTV ("Real World" stuff, the recently-ended "Newlyweds")
~ Animal Planet (Jeff Corwin, "That's My Baby") lol
~ "Ebert & Roeper"
~ "Totally Spies" - Very occasionally, I swear!

Monday, June 13, 2005

June 13th

Hey. It's June 13th and I just want to share things in my life at this point in time. This is something I'll probably be doing periodically.

Last comic I read: "Spellbinders #3"
Next comic in my pile: "The Stardust Kid #1"

Comics I'm getting this week:
"Manhunter #11"
"Mnemovore #3"
"Scott Pilgrim (volume 2)"
"Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witch Boy #2"
"Vimanarama #3"

Comics I'm getting next week:
"House of M #2"
"New Avengers #6"
"Spellbinders #4"

Last graphic novel/Trade I read: "The Walking Dead (vol. 3)"
Next graphic novel/Trade in my pile: "Ultra: Seven Days"

Last novel I read: "Little Women"
CD in my player: "Bleed Like Me" ~ Garbage

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Film

I just saw "Howl's Moving Castle," Miyazaki's latest animated masterpiece. He is just the king of animation. Go see it if you haven't already.

I just thought I would mention some films upcoming that I'm particularly looking forward to seeing:

"Batman Begins" - Comes out Wednesday. Early reviews indicate it as the Batman we've been waiting for.

"Land of the Dead" - George Romero doing zombies as only he can do.

"Bewitched" - Is it wrong that this preview really struck me? Nicole Kidman looked just awesome in it and she's been on fire lately.

"War of the Worlds" - Probably the closest movie to the scale of Episode III for blockbusters this summer. Hopefully this one will be as good. I find it hard to believe Spielberg will let us down.

"Fantastic Four" - Like most, I'm really iffy about this one. Could be the most craptastic movie, could be great. Either way, Johnny Storm is hot.

"The Skeleton Key" - I have extremely high hopes for this movie. I expect the next "The Ring" to be the result of this voodoo thriller. Previews are positively bone-chilling.

That's it for now. I may see "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" cause of the great premise and positive Ebert/Roeper review, but it could be a Netflix rental. We'll see.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

100 Things I Love About Comics (In no particular order)

1. Meeting my boyfriend, Patrick, over a magazine featuring the "X-Men" movie.

2. DC: I don't read many of their titles, but it's just awesome to know that there's another universe out there beyond Marvel's superheros.

3. Mark Smylie's magnificently-rendered world of "Arteseia."

4. Kitty Pryde, the reason I got drawn into Comics and my favorite character to date.

5. "Birds of Prey"

6. The anticipation of the next "Batman" movie, while growing up.

7. "Runaways" - Brilliant premise, most original comic Marvel's published in years.

8. "Midnight, Mass," particularly the "Here There Be Monsters" mini. More, please!

9. Working on the designs for Patrick's comic.

10. Working on my comic.

11. Crossgen - What can I say? I was a fan...

12. "Bone"

13. "Exiles"

14. "Batman: The Animated Series"

15. The Uncanny X-Men

16. "My Sexual History" by David Heatley

17. Gilbert Hernandez' "Palomar" and "Poison River"

18. "Captain Britain" - Love the run by Alan Moore and Alan Davis, and Tom Defalco's run with Davis, as well.

19. Marvel Universe Series One trading cards, particularly the Shadowcat card, that introduced me to the wonderful world of comics.

20. The "Spider-man" animated series of the 90's

21. Silver Sable

22. The epic masterpiece "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" by Hayao Miyazaki

23. "A Distant Soil"

24. "Aria"

25. Discussing comics with Patrick (AKA listening to some amazing rants)

26. Looking through "Previews" with Patrick

27. Looking up the new shipping lists for comics every week

28. "Excaliber," the original series, that drew me in. My first ever comic!

29. Chris Claremont's "The Dark Phoenix Saga," my favorite comic story

30. Black Widow

31. "Elektra: Assassin" - the perfect superhero comic

32. Frank Miller's "Daredevil"

33. "X-2: X-Men United" - My second favorite movie after "Kill Bill"

34. "Courtney Crumrin"

35. "Battle Royale"

36. Looking up the comic/graphic novel charts

37. Growing up reading "Wizard"

38. Reading comics news on-line

39. "Ghost World"

40. "Whiteout" and "Whiteout: Melt"

41. Bill Sienkiewicz

42. Jay Anacledo

43. Steve McNiven

44. James Jean's comic covers

45. Brandon Peterson

46. "Meridian"

47. "Mystic"

48. Alan Moore - particularly "From Hell," "Promethea," and "Captian Britian"

49. Making lists and quizzes for comics (for/with Patrick)

50. Chicago Wizard World comic convention

51. Stores like The Source and Big Brain in Minnesota

52. "Spider-man 2"

53. "X-Men" animated series

54. Live-action "Batman" TV series - Julie Newmar is awesome. Is it sick that I had a crush on Burt Ward?

55. Poison Ivy - the ultimate villain

56. "The Incredibles"

57. The World's Best Comic Magazine "Fantastic Four"

58. "The Avengers"

59. "Alias" - Brian Michael Bendis' best work

60. Vertigo titles like "Y-the Last Man" and "Fables"

61. The Walking Dead"

62. Speakeasy Comics - What can I say? Crossgen left a void in my heart...

63. "Freak Force" and "Savage Dragon" (in that order)

64. "Days of Future Past"

65. "Astonishing X-Men" - Cassaday, Whedon, yes.

66. "New X-Men" - Grant Morrison's legendary run. Intro of the Stepford Cuckoos!

67. "Abadazad"

68. "Peanuts"

69. Grant Morrison

70. "Sin City"

71. The "X-Men" arcade game. I rocked with Dazzler. I am so undeniably gay.

72. Collecting "X-Men" action figures

73. Marvel Masterpieces card series

74. "Ultimate Spider-man"

75. Mystique in the "X-Men" movies

76. "Scott Pilgrim"

77. "Spellbinders" and those teenage witch comics I find myself attracted to

78. All-ages comics like "Owly," "Abadazad," and "The Grimoire"

79. Horror comics like "30 Days of Night" and "Mora"

80. Joss Whedon writing comics

81. My Kitty Pryde bust

82. Age of Apocalypse

83. Onslaught

84. Emma Frost

85. The Hellfire Club

86. "We3"

87. "Teen Titans: Go!"

88. Lynda Barry

89. James Kochalka

90. "Scion"

91. Julie Bell's superhero paintings

92. Free Comic Book Day

93. "X" spin-off titles like "X-Factor," "X-Force," and "Generation X"

94. "Ruse"

95. "The Inter-man"

96. "X-Men: Legends"

97. "Sojourn"

98. X-girls like Meggan, Siryn, Psylocke, Polaris and Rogue

99. "Jello-Man and Wiggly" - some goofy little comic I got growing up that paved the way for me

100. Manga culture ex. Boy/Boy manga, the girl fans, fetishism for Japanese authenticity, etc.

Welcome

Hey everyone. Welcome to Comics-and-more. I, Dave Ferraro, will be posting about a variety of subjects here: movies, TV, books...but mostly comic books. I'll pretty much just post about whatever thoughts I have, but I will be putting together reviews and such as I read material, trying my utmost to remain faithful about updating frequently. To give you an idea of what I like, I'll post one hundred things I like about comics, as is all the rage. I welcome feedback and comments, so please let me know what you think of my site and what I could do to improve. I am a writer first and foremost, and may publish some of my work here for your prying eyes, so please be honest and open. I hope you all like what you see!