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The X-Files (Topps) #13 – One Player Only (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

After a twelve-issue opening mega-arc of interconnected stories about conspiracies-within-conspiracies and wheels-within-wheels, author Stefan Petrucha and artist Charles Adlard step back a little bit to close out their run with a series of standalone stories. The four issues (and three stories) that make up the rest of their run on Topps’ X-Files comic stand alone. They are connected by themes and subtext, but very clearly stand apart from what came before. Indeed, they play out almost like a postscript to the main body of work, a series of smaller bite-sized chunks.

In that light, it is interesting that One Player Only feels – superficially, at least – a lot more in step with the television show. The early issues of the comic had seen Petrucha and Adlard creating their own supporting cast and their own conspiracy, so as to avoid stepping on the toes of the production company. The Cigarette-Smoking Man was largely reduced to a number of cameos, with Skinner popping up once or twice along the way.

Ghosts in the machines?

Ghosts in the machines?

Not only does One Player Only feature a guest appearance from supporting characters like Mr. X or yhe Lone Gunmen, it also harks back to the structure and format of the first season of the show. On the most basic of levels, One Player Only feels like a more cyberpunk take on Ghost in the Machine, right down to the fact that Mulder is drawn into a murder at a tech company by an acquaintance from his days in the Violent Crimes Division. At one point, Mulder and Scully stumble on a ransacked house, for Mulder to deadpan, “Hm. Nothing new.”

However, if one peels back the layers, One Player Only is a fascinating piece that sets the tone for Petrucha and Adlard’s last three issues on the series, while infusing the comic with a host of fascinating cyberpunk stylings and body horror that seem to call forward to William Gibson’s future writing for the show.

Coding out...

Coding out…

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The Amazing Spider-Man – The Gauntlet: Sandman – Keemia’s Castle (Review)

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.

As much as The Gauntlet might seem to be a single over-arching story stretched across eight months of The Amazing Spider-Man, it really makes more sense a collection of smaller stories grouped together exploring the same core themes and ideas. There’s very little to directly connect Keemia’s Castle to the large plot in The Gauntlet. In many respects, this is just a typical confrontation between Spider-Man and recurring opponent Flint Marko.

On the other hand, it plays beautifully into the themes of the larger event, offering a glimpse at how desperate situations can push people to desperate decisions and how sometimes it’s possible to win without a sense of accomplishing anything. It also manages a pretty clever re-working and reinvention of a classic Spider-Man foe, doing a much better job at re-purposing the Sandman than Power to the People did with Electro.

A cold heart...

A cold heart…

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Have a Look at Jill Thompson’s Sandman Movie Concept Art!

We’re big fans of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman here at the m0vie blog. It’s genuinely one of the masterpieces of the medium, and the perfect book to recommend to somebody who wants to see the very best work in the medium. There has been talk of adapting the story for film before, and I remember having nightmares about the damage that could have been done to it by an industry that hears “comic book” and thinks “superhero.” At one point Gaiman apparently read “not only the worst Sandman script I’ve ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I’ve ever read” attached to the project.

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Y: The Last Man – The Deluxe Edition, Book IV (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Y: The Last Man. In April, I took a look at all the writer’s Ex Machina.

It’s very clear that we’re now entering “end game” when it comes to Brian K. Vaughan’s spectacular Y: The Last Man. Even if I didn’t know that the next deluxe edition will be the last, there’s a clear sense that the writer is moving everything into position for the final few issues. Characters die, our heroes are closer than ever to their goals, explanations are teased… It seems that the stage is being well-and-truly set for the last chapter in this magnificent saga.

No time for no monkey business...

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Non-Review Review: Spider-Man III

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

Spider-Man III has a lot of problems. I’ll get to a couple of them in a moment. However, the single biggest issue with the movie seems to be that nobody seems especially interested in making it. It’s a feeling that it’s hard to back up with substantive evidence, but there’s just this general sensation that the film wasn’t the product of the same love and enthusiasm that made the first two films so refreshing. It almost seems like the movie was made out of a sense of obligation, rather than because anyone wanted to be there. It seems that they didn’t really care.

Back in black?

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Is TV the Natural Medium of Comic Book Adaptations?

It recently surfaced that David E. Kelley (creator of Ally McBeal and The Practice) is working on a Wonder Woman television show. Presumably it will be somewhat less campy than the Linda Carter version. Last month news broke that there are plans for a television version of Neil Gaiman’s epic story The Sandman. Later this month we’re see the airing of a live action version of Robert Kirkman’s critically acclaimed zombie comic book The Walking Dead. Part of me wonders if this is the logical shift in the market. After all, comic books arguably have more in common with television than they do with movies. So is this the real future of these adaptations?

It's a Wonder we didn't think of this earlier...

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Stories That Mattered: Essential Stories From DC Comics’ 75 Years

We’re a bit late to the party, but this week we’ll be celebrating the 75th anniversary of DC Comics, with a look at the medium, the company and the characters in a selection of bonus features running Monday through Friday. This is one of those articles. Be sure to join us for the rest.

It’s been 75 years since DC burst on the scene. I don’t imagine too many of the suits behind the scenes expected it to last quite this long. The wonderful folks over at io9 came up with a 75-book list of essentials and it’s a pretty good list, but it’s heavily toned towards “important” narratives rather than “good” narratives. It’s a fair distinction. Comic books are a young medium, and – being frank – most of the early writing sucks. The Golden Age Batman and Superman narratives were semi-decent stories (in many ways better than those that followed), but the truly awful dialogue makes them nigh impossible to read. I thought I’d just put together a list of some of the highly recommended DC stories I’ve picked up over the years.

Definitely important... not so sure it's essential...

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