Juicy Reviews: Smallville Season Eleven- Volume Two: Detective

 I’d like to thank the Vintage Reviewer for allowing me to review on his site once again!

COMIC REVIEW: We are back with “Smallville Season Eleven- Volume Two: Detective,” which is written by Brian Q. Miller (Batgirl [2009], Earthward) and penciled by Chris Cross (Blood Syndicate, Firestorm), Jamal Igle (Arrow Vol. 1, Superboy Vol. 5: Paradox), Kevin West (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Axel Gimenez (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Action Comics). When Bruce Wayne aka Batman gets a lead on where the man who killed his parents is, he is sent to Metropolis for further investigation. His tactics on finding the murderer may be too destructive, however, as Superman intervenes.

This comic series of “Smallville” seems to be in its sophomore slump with this next graphic novel. With a key player such as Batman, you would think that this would make for a great read, but in fact it isn’t that good. Why? For starters, this feels like more of a coincidental, happy-go-lucky meeting of the two titular characters than something grand. Bruce Wayne needs to interrogate someone, Superman won’t let him, things get messy, and then they begin to see that there is a bigger picture to this. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments in this plot that I liked, but overall it was mediocre. Many things felt crammed in for the sake of it, especially the villains. I won’t spoil who shows up, but they were randomly thrown in for no apparent reason. To be honest, this is one of those stories that is a detour of the main arc, that being Lex Luthor’s evil plan. It wasn’t showcased in this novel whatsoever, and Batman and Superman’s conflict felt like a short confrontation to excite fans. The thing is, I wasn’t really excited. I’ve already seen them face off in this year’s “Batman v. Superman” (which was awful, by the way), so I wasn’t clamoring for another deadly meeting.

Still, their chemistry was pretty good, and Miller knows how to make things interesting, even when working with such a hollow plot. Taking a step back and looking at the whole novel, however, I can definitely tell that Miller found trouble in ending this short story, for the first half was better than the second. Moving on, let’s look at the characters. This time around, everyone seems to be shifting into new forms. Not necessarily physical, but how they act. Everyone is learning new things, and new discoveries are to be found in this novel. One thing that has changed in a peculiar way is Lex Luthor. The man is turning into a much different person than in the show. He is a little nicer, jokes around a lot, and constantly talks to himself (technically it’s Tess, but you know what I mean). I don’t know what to think of this new Luthor. I smile at the jokes, but I don’t know if this is how he should act. I will admit that he is the most interesting pawn on this shallow board though. His issues with Tess are well-written and I am eager to see what happens next with him. As for the other characters, no one has moved forward. Sure, things are discovered, but it’s more for the readers sake than the characters in the novel. This plot is essentially one of those filler episodes of a season where the writers take a break from the main story just so they can meet the episode count of their season. Being as how this is a comic series, this shouldn’t happen. Finally, we get to the artwork, which is pretty bland. The art seemed to be my only big problem with the last graphic novel, and those feelings continue with this one. As you can see, I listed four pencilers above, all of whom worked on the art for the individual comics that make up this graphic novel. What half of them share in common, coincidentally, is they aren’t that good. The artwork in this was pretty bad, in different aspects. Chris Cross (nice name) found trouble in organizing his work.

Even though his drawings of characters weren’t too shabby (they had the likeness of the actors, which was good), his boxes that made up the pages were jumbled and confusing to follow, making it hard for me to concentrate on the story. Plus, some of his characters would all of a sudden have the eyes of a cartoon cat, making it hilariously bad. Kevin West had to be the worst, as his characters looked like mannequins most of the time, showing very little in the face. Axel Gimenez was fine, even though his characters didn’t show much likeness to the actors, and Jamal Ingle was actually good in his work, save for Superman at times, who had the neck of a giraffe. This comic series has a hard time picking great artists, and I hope that the next novel improves upon this. In the end, I thought that this novel was rather flat, especially when compared to the first. It was a nice detour to the main story arc, but it wasn’t needed, and they could’ve done a better job at introducing Batman to the universe. Let’s hope the next graphic novel isn’t so much of a throwaway.

FINAL SCORE: 70%= Buy for a Bargain

 

Juicy Reviews Presents: Smallville Season 11 – Volume 1: Guardian

COMIC REVIEW: “Smallville Season Eleven- Volume One: Guardian” is written by Brian Q. Miller (Batgirl [2009], Eartward) and is drawn by Pere Pérez (Savage Tales, Adventure Comics Special). Not long after the battle against Apocalypse that ended season ten, Clark Kent aka Superman is dealt with a new task when Lex Luthor initiates a space-based system used to stop other-worldly threats from attacking earth, known as the Guardian Defense Platform.

I wanted to thank Vintage Bullet for allowing me to review on this site once again. It was on my own accord to do so since I wanted to voice my opinion on the graphic novel series that is “Smallville Season Eleven,” being that my own site, Juicy Reviews, only analyzes films. Anyway, let’s get onto the review. Before I knew about this comic book series, I watched the television show “Smallville.” Although I picked up on the series a year after the show concluded in 2011, I was intrigued by the universe it created, with its many interesting stories and fun cast to watch onscreen. I adored the show, and when I found out that a comic series was published shortly after the TV show’s conclusion, I knew I had to get it. Granted, this is a graphic novel rather than the single comics themselves, but I prefer it this way nonetheless. I didn’t know what to expect out of this graphic novel. I haven’t read many comic books myself, but knowing that a writer from the television series was the head honcho of this comic eased my worries.

Off the bat, I will say that this is a fantastic read. Not only are the characters and their personalities retained, but a fresh story has been formulated as well. Starting this comic felt like “Smallville” was never gone, and it brought me joy to keep up with these characters once again. The dialogue amongst our figures was written so well, and I found myself visualizing the lines as if they were said by the actors who played the actors who played them. If there is one thing to say about this novel, it’s that it doesn’t diminish the characters “Smallville” fans spent ten years with. Their conflicts and story arcs are interwoven masterfully, as there was no weak link out of the bunch. Everyone had their fair share of interesting moments and they all pushed the plot line further. As for the story itself, it was really good. I didn’t know how they would continue Clark’s adventures as Superman, being as how he has already fought many of his main villains in the TV show, but Miller found a way to bring Lex forth and further his struggle with Superman, offering a diabolical plot that I would like to see continue. There are many twists in this story, some small and some big. All of them caught me off guard and made it less predictable. Of course, the novel ends on a cliffhanger in an attempt to get the reader to buy more (which I am), but I find those endings to be great as they keep my grasp on the storyline and leave me begging for more.

If there was anything that I could say badly about this graphic novel, it would be the artwork. Don’t get me wrong, most of it is good. There are just times, however, where it is ugly or cheap. Although the whole graphic novel is drawn by one person, he finds trouble in making characters like Clark Kent look the same throughout. Sometimes he will look like the actor Tom Welling from the show, and others he will look like a creepy man-child. It isn’t too bad to the point where I can’t read the book, but it is notable. In the end, I found this to be a great revamping of the television show as well as a fantastic launching point into the Superman mythos. I can’t wait until I receive to second novel, which includes Batman (that should be interesting).

FINAL SCORE: 93%= Vintage

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Jason Momoa. After Superman’s (Cavill) fight with Zod in Man of Steel, Batman (Affleck) makes it his mission to take him down and make him pay for the death and destruction he caused. As these two icons of comics prepare for their battle the world has it’s own battle over their statuses as heroes or villains.

I have made a video on the subject of Batman V Superman. In it I described my thoughts and opinions on the movie before my own viewing. To summarize my points I’d say I wasn’t interested at first, but managed to turn myself around after seeing the final trailer and knowing more about the director, Zack Snyder. I admitted in the video that the plot could turn out to be thin, but in reality the movie has just enough plot to keep me interested.

BVS does a great job of establishing the characters of it’s own universe, separate from the previous ones, while still following the familiar beats that make these characters who they are. Superman does what we expect of him: he saves those in need, he doesn’t want to be seen as a god, despite his power he is still a human being, and that he loves Lois Lane(Adams). Batman is a more angry, vengeful Batman who brands criminals and actually kills some of them. I wasn’t annoyed by his killing, just surprised at the number of bodies he wracked up. I can understand why they changed him, they needed more tension in the fight. The stakes are high in their fight, as someone will die no matter who wins.

Speaking of the fight, it’s one of the highlights of the film. Batman has an interesting assortment of weapons and Superman’s pure strength make a great fight. The hits are brutal and the visuals and sound design escalate it to new heights for a superhero fight. While the fight does end in a little anti-climatic way, it did have a powerful impact once I put it all together. Every fight in the movie is amazing, from the Arkham style fight to the final fight which has great cinematography and editing. There’s a great Batmobile chase scene that looks directly from Arkham Knight.

The villain, Lex Luthor, was one of my favorite parts of the movie. His actions are some of the most evil things I’ve seen a villain do in a superhero movie. He has almost complete control over both main characters and I can feel that everything from the beginning to the end of the movie were all part of his plan. While he’s on screen Jesse Eisenberg is just unpredictable and with his twitching and stuttering it feels like he can explode at any moment. My one con for him is that he does go on too much with his religious metaphors.

The side characters that are here were pretty good to me. Jeremy Irons is a good Alfred and keeps his trademark snarkiness. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is great, especially in the later portions of the movie. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White keeps up his good performance from Man of Steel. Diane Lane as Martha Kent while only in for a short time, gives more life to her character. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is still one of the lesser points of the movie but she has good chemistry with Cavill and Swanwick (Lennix).

Now for a couple cons I had. The movie is a little slow in the beginning as it sets up the world currently. The terrorist and Senate meetings were a little boring, but Holly Hunter as Senator Finch is a good character and the pay off to both plot lines is worth the build up. Henry Cavill was still a little wooden in certain scenes, but he’s good in most scenes and his actions are more indicative to his character than his words.

Now, here’s what must be said of the movie. It certainly does meet the intentions that the movie set out to do. It introduces our characters, creates a reasonable enough reason for them to fight each other, has an exciting fight between them, and it sets up the future of the universe. The movie feels like it’s a grand scale and makes the events feel like big and important. Overall it’s a great movie that could be tightened up in a few places and I hope that the director’s cut can make this an even better movie.

Rating: 91% – 10 piece chicken bucket

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher

After Punisher interferes with a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission he is taken into custody by Black Widow and Nick Fury. Fury teams the two up to infiltrate Leviathan, a terrorist group with access to S.H.I.E.L.D technology. They must stop them from selling this tech to other villains while dealing with someone from Widow’s past.

This is the first animated Marvel movie I have seen and from what I’ve heard this is somehow the best one. If that’s true I never went to see anymore Marvel animated films. This was a terrible movie and except for the animation there is nothing good here. None of the characters have anything unique about them and you’re just expected to know who they are. Even if I did know anything about these two I’d be annoyed with how inconsistent they are. Widow tells Punisher not to kill some super soldiers as they used to be innocent civilians so he starts shooting their legs instead. A couple minutes later he is blowing them away with a grenade launcher and shooting them in the chest.

The man who stole the S.H.I.E.L.D technology was a former agent called Elihas who was in a relationship with Widow. He thought he wasn’t good enough for Widow and left to join Leviathan and gets injected with some power serum. He talks about how much he loves her in the same conversation as he’s punching her across the room. Once he’s told how dumb his plans are he joins the heroes in taking down Leviathan. Just then we’re introduced to the actual villain behind the whole thing, Orion. Orion, the main villain of the movie, appears for only the last 15 minutes. His design is so ridiculous and he’s taken out so quick he’s not threatening at all. Speaking of villains the last part of the movie is a giant cameo fest. The titular Avengers finally arrive and the villains buying the tech brawl with them. They’re all taken from the comics but only one is named, Graviton. They all just come out at random for an action scene at the end.

The real killer for this movie is the voice acting. Brian Bloom is an alright Punisher, but he never emotes and just growls his way through the movie. Jennifer Carpenter is awful as Black Widow. Her tone almost never matches the animation. John Eric Bentley’s Nick Fury is the most boring character in the movie. He talks in this one inflection in every scene and doesn’t do anything to make him likable like Samuel L. Jackson. While everyone else is just boring and bland, Grant George’s Elihas is actually terrible. In his climactic fight with Natasha he sounds like he’s on the verge of tears, but not in a good way, more like he stubbed his toe. Every other character, which there aren’t many, is passable on the voice acting.

The animation is pretty good, particularly in the fight scenes, but it’s in those fight scenes that this movie again loses me. They talk about the main heroes being normal people but they must have super speed for all the wind they whip up when they fight each other and all the bullets and explosions they dodge. The animation can’t make up for every other problem and the numerous plot holes that I can’t go into without spoiling it make this a terrible experience. I think if you can get a friend to watch it with you you can have some fun riffing on it, but the boring scenes and trite dialogue might stifle your fun.

Rating: 43% = Burnt Chicken

Juicy Reviewer Presents: Real Heroes #1-3

COMIC-BOOK REVIEW: “Real Heroes” is created, written, and drawn by Bryan Hitch (The Authority Vol. 1, Reborn). On opening night of the biggest blockbuster of the year, the actors of the hit film “Olympians 2: Devastation,” are abducted and take to an alternate universe when an actual villain from their film appears and kills several. In the alternate universe, these actors realize that there were real Olympians who looked exactly like them. They tried to save the world, but all fell to the diabolical Brainchild. These actors who portrayed these iconic heroes are asked to pick up the mantle and finish what the real heroes started.

Before I begin my review, I wanted to thank Vintage Bullet for allowing me to appear on his site. It’s an honor, and I hope this review meets his standards. Anyway, “Real Heroes.” I was asked to review this by Vintage Bullet because of how I critique films over at my site, Juicy Reviews. The comic deals with actors becoming the heroes they portray, and with my movie-loving background, it seemed like a good read. In fact, the premise was promising. Unfortunately, the execution was not. This book basically rips from several other comics and characters to formulate its own story. Although all comic book writers get inspiration, Bryan Hitch literally copied several things, leaving me with an unoriginal, and at times bland, story. The first issue of this book was excruciatingly difficult to get through. It was the foundation of our characters, and who they are. It’s all origin stuff, which is the way to go when beginning a story, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t care about these characters. All of them are basically caricatures of any dilemma you can find in comics. You have Chris Reynolds (If Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans has a son) who lost his father in 9/11, which sad story, but is barely touched on throughout the comic until the last issue, which I did not read because it costed money, and no way was I paying. Another character is an alcoholic, drug-using playboy, whom I cannot remember the name of (I only know three character names). We have all seen this guy before, but in different stories. What makes him different? Absolutely nothing. But it is him and Reynolds who are the only developed characters of this hollow series, so I have to make due with what I have. Once these characters are shallowly established through news coverage, which is an incredibly long and tiresome read, we are presented with our issue. From that point, our “heroes” are thrusted into a world like no other (or like all others?). I did not read the fourth issue, but I could pretty much guess how some things would go down just by the way the third one ended. I am not going to spoil anything, for those who actually want to read this, so I’ll just state a few points that should tie this review together. Let’s start with some pros, and by some, I mean very few. The artwork, although rather basic most of the time, was good. I liked the coloring the most and some page spread pictures were neat to look at. Within the story, there were some nice scenes to read. Not many, but enough to get me to read on. One example would be when the action actually starts in the third issue. It can be stupid at times, but I have to admit that it was fun. Now that those pros are out of the way, I’ll list the rest of the issues. First up is the awful villain, Brainchild. That name alone should tell you how bad he is, and not the good bad. He is a useless foe, not doing anything menacing to our heroes. To top it all off, he looks ugly. I know I shouldn’t be bashing on looks, but the guy looks completely idiotic in design. Heck, he isn’t even a child, he’s a grown man, so what’s the point in the name? Secondly, there are some plot holes in this story. I can’t really name any since it would spoil the book for those who want to read this (I don’t know who would), but I’ll list one: who came up with the story of the Olympians? If there were real heroes of these guys in an alternate universe, how could they be movie characters in this one? Someone would have had to come over here from that side and make the film. Lastly, there are many slow and stupid moments that lie in this book. One example would be how our drug-user hero is caught with some cocaine in the locker room. One guy tells him that he shouldn’t take that stuff, even trying to give him a pep talk. The druggie keeps declining and ignoring what he says. This goes on for about two pages. Not only that, but when his conversation with him ends, here comes Chris Reynolds talking to him about how he shouldn’t take drugs, costing us a few more pages. I get how Hatch is trying to develop his characters, but it is done in a sluggish and unnecessary way. In the end, this comic could have been so much more. It had a promising premise, but it was executed horribly, leaving me with a bland and unoriginal adventure. I don’t recommend anyone to waste their time on this.

FINAL SCORE: Rubbish

Vintage Bullet Presents: Real Heroes #1-3

I return to Vintage Bullet and with the first year passed it’s time to ramp up the reviews. And today we’ve got a twofer for you. This is the first guest review on the site. Joining us today is the Juicy Reviewer and we will be reviewing Image’s Real Heroes.

Real Heroes presents with a world where the biggest name in superheroes are the Olympians. At a premiere party for the movie a Devastator from the movie attacks the actors. They are dragged away to another universe by a guy named Smitty, or Smith they aren’t consistent on that. In this universe the Olympians were real, but were killed by the Devastators and their leader, Brainchild. Smitty tells the heroes that they have been chosen to save his world by taking up the most important roles of their lives, the Olympians.

It’s a pretty good premise I admit. Fake heroes make the jump to real heroes to save the world sounds like it could be fun. This book crumbles though under a torrent of bad writing, cliches, and pacing problems. Most of the first issue is showing the characters inside of the movie, where it’s intentionally supposed to be cheesy and bad. It’s directed by Josh Trank so that doesn’t surprise me. The rest of the issue introduces the actors, but puts them in a situation where they are acting for the public, so they are smiley and come across as fake. This is definitely the intention, but it grinds the plot to a halt and doesn’t give the characters any real definition. The only two of the actors to get any characterization are Chris Reynolds (Ugh) and Danny West. Chris Reynolds lost his dad in 9/11 and you can see by the scene where’s calling his mother he worries about her. That’s the best characterization you get. Danny West is an annoying drug addict who drinks and does cocaine while he’s yelling at and insulting everyone else.

Once they cross over it doesn’t get any better. Plot holes keep digging their way into the story and it all falls down. Speaking of falling down, that’s most of the third issue. They fall out of some super special base that they hype up for a while and spend the whole time screaming obscenities and to god. They all get split up, which does not bode well for the future as these characters can not hold up on their own. The villains are so strong it’s unreasonable to think that any of these “heroes” can stop them at all. When they’re not being boring the “heroes” are straight up unlikable. They don’t care at all about helping people and care more about going home or in Danny’s case, drinking.

I only have two pros, but even those come with caveats. First off the art is good. Hitch is an artist so naturally he nails this. His splash pages are great and especially the pages of the city. Even so, the character designs are uninspired, where most of the characters have downward pointing arrows taking up the bulk of their costumes. My other pro would be the villain, Brainchild. I know the Juicy Reviewer will disagree with me here, but I liked him. In comparison to the “heroes” he actually accomplishes some stuff and has an end goal.

I could rant endlessly about the plot holes and the numerous questions I have but I also want to keep spoilers to a minimum. I’m just going to rate this thing and pass this over to the Juicy Reviewer.

Writer: Bryan Hitch

Artist: Bryan Hitch

Rating: Rubbish

Superman #1

The marathon is over and with it the first anniversary of Vintage Bullet. It’s been a wild ride with many ups and downs. I’d like to thank everyone who got me here. Special thanks to Harrison over at Juicy Reviews for the plug and the idea. With all that over with, what better way to end this marathon than with the first big superhero, Superman.

Superman #1 tells multiple stories about Superman as he does things like preventing a lynching, stopping an execution, fighting in a war, and joining a football team. When he’s not being Superman we get some pages of Clark Kent, Superman’s secret identity who works at the Daily Star. We also get a 2 page origin story for Superman.

Superman #1 is a book that confuses me in many ways. In terms of an actual story with a plot and characters it is terrible. Superman goes to multiple locations under the cover of reporter Clark Kent, but he is also sent to cover a domestic disturbance. Clark himself is boring, his only characteristic is the false cowardice he shows to cover his identity. Lois Lane is in this and she shows the strong she still is today. No other characters like Jimmy Olsen or any of Superman’s big villains appear.

However, things all begin to change when Superman appears. The character of Superman in this book is drastically different than how he is portrayed now. In this story he can not fly, he doesn’t have his super hearing, x-ray or heat vision, or his super breath. His main powers are his speed, jumping, super strength  and his invulnerability. He uses these powers mostly to intimidate and threaten people when he isn’t beating them up. His personality is more like Batman’s than Superman’s.

A perfect example of his bad behavior would be the football story. In order to break up a thug filled football racket, he decides to take the place of a member of the team they are playing next. One of the players, Burke, happens to look similar to Superman so he decides to take his place on the team. He goes to Burke’s house, drugs him so he’s asleep, and then goes to the game. I’m not gonna spoil the rest but he manages to also get Burke kicked from the team. And objectively the art is terrible. Superman’s cape and symbol sometimes disappear completely and most characters have Captain Marvel squinty eyes.

But despite all of this it has the charm of the Golden Age. Seeing Superman destroy airplanes and end a war makes me understand the character’s appeal back in those days. This book also contains the famous scene from Action Comics #1 where Superman lifts the car. I also like how the book balances multiple different types of stories without being so jumbled. I can’t be too harsh on a book like this, it’s just the time period.

Writer: Jerry Siegel

Artist: Joe Shuster

Rating: Borrow from a Mate