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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 13 (Review/Retrospective)

With Eisner now back on the strip for over half-a-year, The Spirit is forging ahead into the middle part of its run. Many commentators and pundits would argue that the few years following Eisner’s return from military service were among the best in the strip’s history, and it’s hard to disagree. While Eisner took the time in his first six months to tidy up loose ends – killing the Squid, sending Satin home with a daughter – here we see the creator building up the world he has created. This collection includes the strips introducing (and a number of subsequent appearances from) both P’Gell and the Octopus, arguably two of the most important characters introduced into the strip following the Second World War. There’s also a sign that Eisner is branching out a bit, and pushing the strip out from the shadow of the Second World War. After all, a new era of prosperity and a Cold War were both just around the corner, very fertile ground for the creator to explore.

A banner year?

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Non-Review Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow evokes pulp science-fiction cinema with an earnestness and an eagerness that is endearing, if not infectious. Although the special effects have dated significantly in the time since the movie’s release, it’s hard not to admire director Kerry Conron’s use of computer graphics to forge a connection to classic cinema. However, one senses that Conron might have been better suited to emulate the mood, rather than merely the appearance, of these old adventure serials. The problem is that despite its rather wonderfully crafted appearance, there’s never anything in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to really get excited about. And that’s a shame.

A ray of hope?

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Acts of Vengeance: The Punisher vs. Doctor Doom (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

In celebration of the release of The Avengers, this weekend we’re taking a look at the massive 1989-90 crossover “Acts of Vengeance”, which pitted various villains against some unlikely heroes. I’ll be looking at some of the most fun match-ups. This arc is collected in the companion omnibus.

I tend to like my Punisher stories with a hint of the ridiculous about them. I seem to be the only person who thought that Garth Ennis did his best work on the character as part of Marvel Knights rather than Punisher MAX, because I tend to think the character works best as a sort of an absurd straight man in mainstream comics. He is, after all, a character who uses superhero iconography (a giant skull on his chest, no matter how stripped-down the iteration) while being a guy with a gun who likes to kill criminals. I’ve always felt that the character required a suspension of disbelief that that only really worked if he was played just slightly ridiculous. Of course, that’s my opinion, and I seem to be in the minority on this, but it probably explains why I found Mike Baron’s tie-in to Acts of Vengeance – pitting the Punisher against Doctor Doom – to be so much damn fun.

Closing in to seal his doom…

Note: The always wonderful Chris Simms took a more indepth look at this unlikely crossover on Comics Alliance, perfectly capturing the wonderful insanity of it all.

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“I Want to Read Comics After Seeing the Avengers”: Post-Avengers Comic Book Recommendations…

The Avengers opened in a lot of major markets this weekend. It is opening in the United States this Friday. It’s set to be huge and has been quite well received by critics and audiences. Now, I know that this massive blockbuster movie won’t convert the millions of avid movie-watchers into comic book fans, if only because other comic books have failed to see that appreciable a gain from success in other media. However, on the off chance that somebody comes out of the cinema thinking “hey, I really like that and would like to check out the source material”, I’ve compiled a handy list of recommendations that should be readily available and easy to find for would-be fans looking to get a taste for the iconic characters in their original media.

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Collecting Myself: The Irresistible Urge of the “Impulse Buy” DVDs…

I admit that I may have something approaching a problem.

I’m a nerd – a movie nerd. So, at this time of year, as Christmas approaches, I find myself tempted by all the bright lights and shiny sales stickers I can find on DVDs and blu rays – as the shops start marking them down in a serious attempt to shift some merchandise in the lead-up to one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Last night, I went to HMV, intending to pick up the newly released Three Colours trilogy on blu ray. It’s a masterpiece of European cinema, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it once again. However, despite the fact that they didn’t have the trilogy, I somehow managed to leave with five blu rays in my bag.

They were having a sale, you see. And I realise that sounds like the lamest rationalisation ever.

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Non-Review Review: Toy Story 2

For my money, Wall-E is perhaps the strongest Pixar film from an artistic point of view. The Incredibles is perhaps the most consistently entertaining. Finding Nemo is the most emotional. Truth be told, I could probably find a way to rank almost every Pixar film so that it was my favourite in some way or another, because they’re all pretty much that good (although I’ll concede that Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life and Cars were merely “good” or “very good”). So, having completely picked apart any lavish praise I could shower on the film, I have  a very special fondness for Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy.

Just say Jesse...

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