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Peter Tomasi’s Run on Batman & Robin – Blackest Night: Batman (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Okay, so it’s not technically a Batman & Robin book, only featuring Batman in the title, and it doesn’t feature Peter Tomasi’s Batman & Robin collaborator Patrick Gleason on the artwork. Still, Blackest Night: Batman feels very much like a trial run for the hand-picked successor to Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Batman & Robin run. (Arguably much like Blackest Night: Flash led into Geoff Johns’ second on-going Flash series.) While it’s hardly an exceptional three-issue tie-in to Geoff Johns’ massive Blackest Night event, it does show some hint of promise for the author’s forthcoming run on the main title.

Freeze, mofo!

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Doing Justice to the Justice League: 10 Tips For Warner Brothers in Building the Justice League…

Rumour has it that Warners has made superheroes their top priority again. I wonder why that might be. Anyway, here’s 10 tips that might help them make the perfect Justice League film.

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Garth Ennis’ Run on Punisher MAX – Hardcover, Vol. II (Review)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’re going to take a look at Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis’ run on that iconic Marvel anti-hero, The Punisher. Check back every Friday and Wednesday for a review of a particular section.

There’s a dream I have from time to time. And in the dream I don’t stop. I kill the soldiers and the hitmen, the extortioners and racketeers, the dark old &%^@s who send them out to fight– I hold the trigger down until they’re all gone–

But I don’t stop.

The innocents are just watching, like always. The slack jawed thousands, gazing at the beast. My family lie red and shredded in the grass. I face the crowd and bring the weapon to my shoulder. If my world ends, I tell them, so does yours.

The recoil starts and I wake up.

It’s  just a dream, I always tell myself. It’s just a dream.

It’s just a dream.

– Frank Castle, Up is Down and Black is White

You know, I’m not entirely sold on the format of Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX. It seems a strange thing to say, given how I’m slowly starting to appreciate what the writer is doing with the character, but I’m not convinced that the rigid six-issue structure that Ennis is adopting fits the character particularly well. Don’t worry, I know it’s a very strange and irrational complaint to have – partially because there’s so much else going on that merits discussion, and also because six-issue arcs have become the industry norm (because they fit the size of a trade paperback). That said, I think may have figured out why it bothers me so.

Gun play...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Flash – Blackest Night: Flash (Review/Retrospective)

I have to admit that I quite like DC’s approach to event tie-ins. Whenever a massive series like Infinite Crisis or Final Crisis or Blackest Night emerges, it doesn’t disrupt the on-going narratives being told in the books. Instead, the crossovers are shrewdly isolated to tie-in miniseries, so as to minimise interference. This means that a reader of Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin doesn’t need to concern themselves with the zombie apocalypse in Blackest Night, as Peter Tomasi is handling a separate miniseries. Blackest Night: Flash, however, is something of a different beast, as there was no on-going Flash series at the time, with Blackest Night: Flash serving as a bridge between Flash: Rebirth and Geoff Johns’ on-going Flash series. The fact that the miniseries was written by the main architect of the event also makes the tie-in seem that little bit more essential, putting Blackest Night: Flash in quite a strange place.

Static eyes...

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Geoff Johns Hawkman Omnibus: Volume 1 (Review/Retrospective)

I’m always glad to see a nice, big and thick DC comics omnibus. Marvel have cornered the market in putting out over-sized gigantic collections of modern and classic runs on iconic characters, and I’m disappointed that it has taken DC so long to follow suit. After all, they have any number of long runs on iconic characters by acclaimed creators deserving some nice love. Geoff Johns’ Hawkman run is perhaps the writer’s run that I was least excited about, but it’s still nice to get the majority of Geoff Johns’ character-defining and continuity-clarifying run on the character handily collected in one gigantic package.

Hawkin' his wares...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Booster Gold – 52 Pickup & Blue and Gold

I guess when you’re as popular as Geoff Johns you can pretty much pick your own projects. He’s pretty much the driving force at the company, having helmed two of the bigger more recent “event” crossovers (Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night) as well as managing the return of Hal Jordan to the pages of Green Lantern and Barry Allen to The Flash. He has always skilfully walked the line between a hardcore nerd who knows everything there is to know about DC’s incredibly complicated history and the source of some of the company’s most accessible output. His runs on the “big” name characters (such as Superman) are some of the easiest to read comic books currently published, however it’s clear he has a somewhat deeper level of knowledge and understanding of the way that the DC universe works, and is read to dive into the nooks and crannies of obscure characters and half-remembered trivia with the fervour of a pure geek. Booster Gold is perhaps the best example of this sort of work.

That logo is so money...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – War of the Green Lanterns (Review)

I think that Geoff Johns deserves to take the majority of the credit for pushing the Green Lantern series forward as one of the mostly highly regarded properties in DC’s stable of intellectual property. That the Green Lantern continuity was allowed to remain almost entirely intact represents a huge vote of confidence in Johns as a creator, and the work that he has done. Still, War of the Green Lanterns can’t help but feel like a bit of a disappointment. An attempt to do a “mini-event” contained to the franchise (similar to the successful Sinestro Corps War), War of the Green Lanterns suffers because it doesn’t have the same thematic through-line as its predecessor, one that engaged the reader throughout the carnage and crossovers. That’s not to say War of the Green Lanterns doesn’t have any good ideas, but that it’s too jumbled and mixed up to be great.

Mogo doesn't socialise...

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Peter Tomasi & Fernando Pasarin’s Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors (Review/Retrospective)

Emerald Warriors suffers a bit from being a rather obvious lead-in series to the War of the Green Lanterns crossover than DC was pushing for its space cops to coincide with the release of the Green Lantern film. It’s very clear that the book is written with an editorial mandate to establish certain characters and dynamics, and I think it suffers to a certain extent, because of this – to the point where the series wasn’t renewed as part of the DCnU relaunch, which makes it seem like the series never really existed as anything more than a tie-in to a large event, rather than a cosmic comic book in its own right. It’s a shame, because Peter Tomasi has been one of the most consistant second-tier writers at DC, and his Guy Gardner is second-to-none. Also, you know, it looks incredible.

A breath of fresh air...

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Tony Bedard’s Run on Green Lantern Corps – Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns & The Weaponer (Review)

As with Green Lantern and Emerald Warriors before it, Tony Bedard’s run on Green Lantern Corps feels like it’s trapped between two larger events, flowing out of Blackest Night and into War of the Green Lanterns. I think Bedard suffers a lot more than Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi from this, merely because he’s new to the franchise – he did great work on R.E.B.E.L.S., but this is first time working with the cast of characters from Green Lantern. So, while Johns and Tomasi fall comfortably into their familiar routines, Bedard seems to struggle to find his feet, while telling his own story and managing the obligatory set-up for the next large-scale event.

That's the last time Sinestro calls Kyle a second-stringer...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Brightest Day (Review)

It must be difficult to follow an absolutely huge event like Blackest Night, which cemented Green Lantern as one of DC’s largest franchises (perhaps second only to the Batman books under Grant Morrison). After all, the gigantic crossover was the culmination of over five years of work by architect Geoff Johns, and it might have been easy for the writer to pack it all in and call it a day. However, he didn’t. This collection, covering the entire New Guardians story arc, is very clearly a bridge between two big Green Lantern events – Blackest Night and War of the Green Lanterns. It also works a launching pad for a whole host of other titles, from Brightest Day to Emerald Warriors to Green Lantern Corps. However, the collection works at its very best when it is smaller in scope, and more intimate – when it pauses to wonder what happens to a world-saving superhero when the heat of the great big galactic threat has passed.

Hal's still got really poor self-image...

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