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114. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – This Just In (#26)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and with special guests Graham Day, Luke Dunne and Bríd Martin, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr. and Rodney Rothman’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 26th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Ultimate Origins (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

Ultimatum effectively brought an end to the first stage of life for Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. To be fair, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four had both cycled through multiple creative teams by that point, but Ultimatum was the book that effectively drew a line under a certain era of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic four were all cancelled in the wake of the massive end, marking it as the end of an era.

As such, it made sense to go back to the start of the line – to task writer Brian Michael Bendis to craft an origin for this shared spin-off universe. With Ultimatum killing off so many characters and so radically altering the status quo, it made sense to go back to the beginning and offer a glimpse at the formative moments of this alternate universe. The Ultimate Universe had been built from the ground up, so it made sense that the continuity all fit together.

A Magnetic personality...

A Magnetic personality…

While Ultimate Origins offered a series of insights and revelations that radically altered (or expanded) the back story of almost every corner of the Ultimate publishing line, Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Origins undoubtedly had the most profound implications for the characters of Ultimate X-Men. While the characters from Ultimate Spider-Man or The Ultimates could go back to something approximating business as usual, those characters would never be the same again.

Offering an explanation for the mutant genome that would alter the context of mutants and play into the climax of Ultimatum, Ultimate Origins represents something radical and distinct from mainstream Marvel publishing. In a way, it feels like it is playing into the mission statement of Ultimatum – redefining the Ultimate line so as to distinguish the Ultimate Universe from its mainstream counterpart. This is no long a streamlined and cleaned up alternative; it is something radically different.

Carry on...

Carry on…

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X-Men – Battle of the Atom (Review)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

Battle of the Atom is a gigantic mess – but it’s a very fun gigantic mess.

Battle of the Atom seems to exist to fill two separate niches. On the one hand, its publication syncs up rather nicely with the fiftieth anniversary of Marvel’s merry mutants – something that the comic acknowledges by focusing on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original creations and by setting the climax at a recognisable setting from that first issue all those years ago. There’s a palpable sense of nostalgia about the whole thing – focusing on the past, present and future of the superhero team.

Stop or my Sentinel will shoot...

Stop or my Sentinel will shoot…

At the same time, it’s the big X-Men crossover event published half-a-year before the release of a multi-million dollar Bryan Singer motion picture. As such, Battle of the Atom feels heavily influenced by X-Men: Days of Future Past. Not only does it play with a variety of the tropes and conventions cemented by that classic Chris Claremont and John Byrne story, it includes numerous shout-outs and even the same basic structure.

Writers Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood and Jason Aaron are all having a great deal of fun writing Battle of the Atom, even if the comic does occasionally feel a little bit too light or too familiar. Then again, what’s the point in a fiftieth birthday party if you can’t be a little indulgent?

Dazed by X-Men past...

Dazed by X-Men past…

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Spider-Men (Review/Retrospective)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

Spider-Men feels very light. It is the first official crossover between the mainstream Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, something that readers had been promised would never happen. However, despite the fact that this is a big event that has been more than a decade in the making – something rumoured since the earliest days of Ultimate Spider-Man – Spider-Men feels decidedly low-key.

It’s pretty much a collection of vignettes rather than a compelling story in its own right, allowing Bendis to run through a checklist of material to smooth the transition between ultimate!Peter Parker and his successor, Miles Morales.

"Well, this is awkward..."

“Well, this is awkward…”

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Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Moon Knight (Review/Retrospective)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

One of the more endearing aspects of comic book publishing is the way that the “little guys” occasionally get a shot. There are mountains of titles published each month featuring iconic characters like Batman or Wolverine, but the major companies are occasionally willing to check chances on more quirky and unknown characters using top-tier talent. One of the big surprises of DC’s “new 52” relaunch was the decision to put superstar writer Geoff Johns on pop culture joke Aquaman.

Despite the fact that he has never quite set the world on fire, Marvel seems willing to invest in repeated attempts to launch the character of Moon Knight. Most recently, writer Warren Ellis has launched a new volume of the comic with artist Declan Shalvey. However, before the latest relaunch, Marvel tried another high-profile take on Moon Knight written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Alex Maleev, the duo responsible for one of the best-loved runs ever published on Daredevil.

The series made it to twelve issues, before Marvel cancelled it due to disappointing sales. Bendis has insisted that it was always the plan to end the series after twelve issues, but it seems strange that the series was not announced as a miniseries. Still, it’s easy to understand why Moon Knight struggled to find an audience. It’s great to have Bendis and Maleev crafting an on-going street-level comic book, but the series seems almost at war with itself, struggling with the difficulties of fitting this character in this particular role.

Oh what a knight...

Oh what a knight…

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – The Age of Ultron (Review)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

Age of Ultron is Brian Michael Bendis’ last hurrah on Marvel’s massive Avengers franchise. Bendis began writing Avengers when it was a third-tier comic book property, and he was – in a large part – responsible for turning the comic franchise into a sales juggernaut. The fact that Marvel was simultaneously working on a massive cinematic universe built around these characters – if only because they’d sold off most of the other ones – probably didn’t hurt.

So, with Bendis moving off the Avengers franchise, ceding the crown of lead Avengers writer to up-and-comer Jonathan Hickman, he wrote Age of Ultron. It was a story the author had been hinting at for quite some time, from the first arc of his relaunched adjectiveless Avengers title through to his short run on Moon Knight. Having completed a grand sweeping story arc running from Avengers Disassembled through to Siege, Age of Ultron feels like an epilogue to Bendis’ run – a post-script to the tenure of the man who changed the franchise.

It also feels, rather awkwardly, like the most self-consciously Avengers-y Avengers story ever aveng(er)ed.

Over-exposure is killing Wolverine...

Over-exposure is killing Wolverine…

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – The Hub (Review)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has burnt through a lot of goodwill at this point. Offering a television spin-off from one of the most popular and successful movie franchises of the last decade (if not all time) should be easy; giving the show to long-time collaborators of Joss Whedon should only increase the series’ likelihood of success. The show has the budget and the scope to offer an exciting slice of pulpy comic book entertainment, but all the episodes so far have been incredibly generic, and could easily have been lifted from shows like The X-Files or Fringe.

At least The Hub offers us a sense that the writers are finally pitching shows to the niche filled by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a story about a massive multi-national spy organisation with dark secrets and impossible technology, which places it firmly in the show’s wheelhouse. There are a lot of problems, mostly with finding the right tone, but it seems like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is at least finally finding its own voice. It’s not a strong or distinct voice yet, but there’s still a faint sliver of hope.

Plane sailing...

Plane sailing…

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