Friday, December 30, 2011

Behold the Geek! Best of 2011: The Comics

A few winks left and we're about to leave 2011 behind and welcome the brand-new 2012! 2011 was a good year for geeks, with fun TV shows coming out, a slew of comic book movies to watch, and a comic book industry that broke new ground in ways no one even dared to! So join me as we look back in the year that was and award the best, the worst and the different in Behold the Geek!'s Best of 2011!

Welcome back to our Behold the Geek! Best of 2011 special! We've taken a look at MOVIES, now let's shine the spotlight at 2011's best in COMICS! From Best Writer, Best Artist to Kitty Comic of the Year, I awareded them now so you won't have to!

News of the Year -- DC Relaunch/Reboot

The answer to "Who had the biggest balls in 2011?" was definitely DC Comics, who shook the comic industry to the core by up and completely rebooting their entire line of books, effectively starting over from scratch! They caught a lot of flak from hardcore fanboys and longtime fans for this drastic move, but the ensuing buzz lit the internet like an overachieving Christmas tree. On August 31, Justice League #1 shipped, and the rest of the new #1 books followed soon after. When all was said and done, Justice League #1 sold more than 200,000 copies, making it the best-selling book of 2011, along with a dozen more books reaching the 100,000+ copies mark, a number never before seen in that many books in years.

Kitty Comic of the Year -- Neko Ramen

Tokyopop may have folded, but it left us a with the best kitty comic this 2011: Neko Ramen. This little manga about a ramen shop owner who just happens to be a cat was a laugh-a-minute comedy romp of gastronomical proportions! This special award is for the one book that got me curled up in a ball, clutching at my stomach from so much laughter and manly tears. I hope some other publisher picks this up...2012 needs Taisho, dammit!

Best Writer -- Mark Waid

Choosing this year's best writer was hard, but I had to give this one to Mark Waid, if only for the fact that he had the guts to do something different. His Daredevil is colorful, adventurous and fun, but behind that smile still lingers the pain that has haunted him all these years. Building on what came before, Waid turned DD into a character we can all relate to, a guy who's had bad days and good days, but still going out and doing what he loves doing. If Waid keeps this up, 2012 might just be his year too.

Honorable mentions: Rick Remender on Uncanny X-Force, the bloodiest good time you can have in a Marvel book.

Best Artist -- Paolo Rivera

No other artist this year has come close to matching the fun creativeness of Paolo Rivera. His work on Daredevil is some of the best I've seen in a long time, made even more impressive with the fact that he's turned a comic about a blind superhero into a visual feast! Consistently great work from an artist to watch out for in the coming year.

Honorable mentions: Mahmud Asrar on Supergirl, Jerome Opena on Uncanny X-Force, Cameron Stewart and David Hahn on SuicideGirls

Best Story Arc -- The Dark Angel Saga from Uncanny X-Force

Rick Remender's The Dark Angel Saga blazed a trail of blood and murder in the pages of Uncanny X-Force, and it was an enjoyable ride every step of the way. Guys like Fantomex and Deadpool stole the show, Psylocke and Archangel's doomed love story broke my heart, and the entire affair was like watching a movie about X-Force with the budget of Lord of the Rings with Jerome Opena, Mark Brooks and Esad Ribic on art. An epic storyline however you slice it, this is an X-event 2011 won't soon forget.

Best New Series -- Wolverine and the X-Men

Funny how it took a schism to make the X-Men fun again. Our Best New Series has been firing on all cylinders since issue one, bringing us balls-to-the-wall action that only Wolverine and a motley crew of mutants in a school for mutants can deliver. I mean, they got Krakoa and the Hellfire Babies causing hell in their school...and that's just issue 1! Jason Aaron bringing on the crazy, Chris Bachalo tearing it up on art, and ideas as wild as the school it's happening in...a recipe for success and another book to watch come 2011!

Book of the Year -- Daredevil

Daredevil did in 7 issues what most comic books have been trying to do for years: entertain. Mark Waid returned the smile to Matt Murdock's face, along with his sense of fun and adventure, in Marvel's Daredevil relaunch, and it just got better from there. A far cry from the grim and gritty reality that surrounds it, Daredevil delivered old-school comic book fun month after month courtesy of Waid's scripts and the bright, fantastic art and colors of Paolo and Joe Rivera, Marcos Martin and Javier Rodriguez. Daredevil was heads and shoulders above the rest this 2011, and that's why it's Behold the Geek's Book of the Year!

And those were my picks for 2011's best in comics! 2011 went out guns blazing...a good sign that 2012 will be nothing short of awesome! So what were your picks for this year? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading and have a Happy New Year!

Behold the Geek! Best of 2011: The Movies

A few winks left and we're about to leave 2011 behind and welcome the brand-new 2012! 2011 was a good year for geeks, with fun TV shows coming out, a slew of comic book movies to watch, and a comic book industry that broke new ground in ways no one even dared to! So join me as we look back in the year that was and award the best, the worst and the different in Behold the Geek!'s Best of 2011!

Let's start with the world of MOVIES! A lot of great movies came out this year, from the flashy Sucker Punch to the mighty Thor. Check out our special awardees, including my pick for Movie of the Year!

WTF Are You Doing? Award -- Green Lantern The Movie

What do you get when you take a popular and visually interesting DC character and add a 200+ million dollar movie budget? It doesn't add up to the Green Lantern movie, that's for sure. Green Lantern was supposed to be DC's next superhero epic that isn't Batman, but what we got was a ho-hum, overproduced mess. I mean, how do you mess up a movie about a guy who can make laser fists with his mind? Apparently the folks at Hollywood had lots of ideas how.

Nothin' But Eye Candy Award -- Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch wasn't that good, but damn if it was a feast for the eyes! Our Nothin' But Eye Candy Awardee was filled with chicks who battled three-story tall samurai armors and dragons in fantastic worlds while wearing miniskirts, leather chaps and chain mail.  Eye candy doesn't even begin to describe what Sucker Punch had, and for what its worth, it's what it had going for it.

Guilty Pleasure Award -- Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I liked it. I know I shouldn't have, but I did. Michael Bay apparently knew the exact amount of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, robots fighting and explosions to trigger this pleasant feeling I get when I actually enjoy a movie. Which in the case of this movie, I really shouldn't have. But as much as I deny it, I watched it twice...and I still liked it. Such sorcery deserves a BtG! Guilty Pleasure Award, and a plea to my handful of readers not to tell anyone.

Movie Villain of the Year, All Years -- Tom Hiddleston as Loki

This is a villain you can't help but root for. Tom Hiddleston's breakout role as Thor's brother Loki set the standard for all comic movie supervillains this year, with a performance so awesome you can't help but sympathize with him. Doe-eyed brother in one scene, snarling psycho the next, sympathetic son in another, Tom Hiddleston played the hell out of the God of Mischief, so much so that his role inspired a million fanarts, gifs and Tumblr blogs dedicated to him!

Magnificent bastard, a true bro and a cool would take a hell of a lot to knock Loki off this pedestal!

BtG! Movie of the Year -- Captain America: The First Avenger

Choosing the best geek-out movie of the year was hard...a LOT of awesome movies came out this year (some of them coming out just a week apart, even!). But if I had to pick the one movie that stood out among the rest this 2011, it's Captain America: The First Avenger.

The Joe Johnston-helmed flick hit all the right notes, starting with Chris Evans' spot-on take as Steve Rogers/Captain America (probably the most perfectly cast role ever!) .The action is superheroic and fun, Peggy and Steve's on-screen romance was the cutest we've seen and the entire movie was chock full of inspiring and epic moments that exemplified what Captain America is all about, and what we should all strive to be. Everything about it defied expectations, making for a highly entertaining movie that's distinctly superheroic, and that's why Captain America: The First Avenger is our Movie of the Year.

Congratulations to our 2011 winners! Thanks for reading and watch out later for the second part of our Behold the Geek! Best of 2011 special, featuring COMIC BOOKS!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Week in Comics: December 23, 2011

The Christmas weekend is upon us, and Santa thought to bring me not one, but four awesome comic books to review this week! Oh joy! What did I get myself into this week? Read on to find out!

Supergirl #4 has the Maid of Might trapped by the billionaire evil genius Mr. Tycho, and a last minute save might mean her salvation...or something much worse!

The book is still on slow-burn, but I love how organic it's all coming together. We're seeing Kara slowly grow into the Supergirl she's meant to become, and all the emotional beats needed are there to see her through. Michael Green and Mike Johnson are naturals at writing Supergirl, no doubt about it, so much so that I'm wondering why they haven't written her sooner! The star of the show, though, is Mahmud Asrar's art. His Supergirl is young, beautiful and powerful, and you can see from his dynamic and exciting pencils that Asrar was born to draw superhero books. It's safe to say that Supergirl #4 is one of the better-looking books this week!

Supergirl is blessed with a creative team that really works, and this ish is proof positive of it. This ain't so great as a standalone issue, but as part of an ongoing narrative, it's one of the better issues the book's had. This gets a 4 out of 5.

Wolverine's wetworks team winds it down with a done-in-one in Uncanny X-Force #19. In the aftermath of the harrowing Dark Angel Saga, the team deals with the fact that there's a teenage clone of Apocalypse walking around. It's nature vs. nurture at its weirdest!

Rick Remender used the issue to tie off some loose ends and plant the seeds for juicy future plot points to develop. Teen Apocalypse being honed to become a superhero is a stroke of genius, and I love how Remender makes parallels to him and a certain super man. Not everyone agrees though, and it's interesting to see whether Teen Apocalypse will grow up to prove them wrong...or right!

The book is also full of fuzzy warm and sad and tense moments, from Betsy and Warren's heart-to-heart to Wolvie's touching plea for Age of Apocalypse Jean to stay. Remender shows that he knows how to write compelling drama, and the book is the better because of it. I do take issue with the fact that the revelation of their wetworks team is met with a stern telling-to instead of the freak-out I was expecting. A secret that big and that bloody should have been given the gravity it deserves. Robbi Rodgriguez steps up for Jerome Opena and Esad Ribic on art, and though his cartoony style might not be your cup of tea, he's got the storytelling chops to complement the story wonderfully. All in all, it's a good issue that wraps it all up nicely, but with a little space for you to peek at what's waiting inside. This gets a 3.5 out of 5.

Daredevil's gone snowblind in Daredevil #7, where Matt and a bus full of blind kids get into an accident and are left to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere. The Man Without Fear has faced all kinds of deadly threats...but is he prepared for a threat like this?

I've been harping on and on how Daredevil is a great book, and I'm sorry but I'll say it again: this is a great book. It might lack the fun superheroics of previous issues, but writer Mark Waid is a master at turning a story as simple as Daredevil stranded in the middle of nowhere with blind kids into this tense, emotionally charged look inside what makes Daredevil tick. Waid's story doesn't feel forced, doesn't feel hokey or anyything, and it's made all the more better with Paolo Rivera, Joe Rivera and Javier Rodriguez's triple tag-team on art. These people how to do atmosphere, piling on the windswept snow in this ish and often making you feel as blind as the kids stuck in it. Great, great stuff.

If you haven't been paying attention to Daredevil yet, this is as good a place as any to start doing so. Great writing and gorgeous art, you can't ask for anything better than this. Daredevil #7 gets a 4.5 out of 5.

And so we come to Wolverine and the X-Men #3, a book that's, pardon my language, fucking awesome.

I've never read any Jason Aaron stuff before this series, and from what I can tell he's writing to my specific interests: mainly, mind-blowingly awesome and fun ideas that encapsulate what comic books are all about. So Krakoa is attacking Wolvie's school, the teachers and students are fighting for their lives, and their only hope is a punk named Quentin Quire? It's a recipe for disaster, but it's a disaster perfectly orchestrated by Aaron to showcase these characters in the most awesome light possible. Pardon the haters, but Aaron actually made me like Quire. After that revelation, anything is possible!

And you know what? This book proves that anything IS possible. And that's why I freakin' love this book. Even Chris Bachalo steps up to deliver a knockout punch of awesomeness with his dynamic art. You often can't tell what's going on, but Bachalo makes it so crazy exciting! And then you get to that big splash page of Wolverine, claws bared and with the entire school behind him, snarling at the Hellfire Brats to "Stay the hell away from my school." and all of a sudden you're catatonic, your brain unable to process the image. It's that good.

I'm still freaking out as I type this! If you open up the dictionary to the definition of awesome, you'll only see a picture of Wolverine and the X-Men #3. This is what comic books are all about. I cannot recommend this book, this series enough! This gets a well-deserved 6 out of 5.

Wow! If this isn't a good week in comics, I don't know what is! Got any comments? Suggestions? Exchange gifts over the holiday weekend (kidding...or am I?)? Leave me a comment below and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading and have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Cosplay Comic Covers!

'Tis the season for a lot of thing: advent wreaths, presents under the tree...and cosplaying as the jolly old man himself! Just check out these Santa-rrific comic covers!

Richie Rich Fortune$ #9 (Harvey 1973)

Spider-Man: Christmas in Dallas (Marvel 1983)

Walt Disney's Christmas Parade (Dell 1951)

Adventures of Superman v1 #487. Cover by Jerry Ordway. (DC Comics 1992)

Man-Thing v3 #3. Cover by Liam Sharp.(Marvel 1998)

Marvel Holiday Spectacular. Cover by Ed McGuinness. (Marvel 2009)

Archie's Christmas Stocking #2. Cover by Dan DeCarlo. (Archie 1992)

Punisher X-Mas Special. Cover by C.P. Smith. (Marvel 2006)  

Bone Holiday Special. Cover by Jeff Smith. (Warrior, 1993)

The Transformers (UK Edition) #41. Cover by Will Simpson. (Marvel 1985)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Super Robot Chogokin Megazord is Coming!

Are you familiar with the mighty Daizyujin?. I won't blame you if you said no. But maybe you'd recognize it by its Americanized  name...the Megazord.

Why did I ask? Because there's a kick-ass toy of it coming real soon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in Comics!

There was a time when it snowed in comic books.

And I’m not talking about those giant-sized holiday specials, either. I’m talking about the time when you opened up your favorite comic book and hey, Spider-Man is having an adventure and OH MY GOSH IT’S CHRISTMAS OVER THERE!

I don’t know about you, but I used to get a kick out of seeing Christmas-y things in my comics as a kid. Sure Marvel had their Marvel Holiday Specials before, but there’s something a little more special about picking up a regular issue and seeing Spider-Man pass by a blinged-out-for-the-holidays Rockefeller Center on the way to kicking bad guys in the face. It made me feel like my favorite superheroes and I are on the same dimension, the same calendar page.

Heroes having adventures over the holidays isn't new. One of Batman's earlier adventures was during Christmas in Batman #9, considered to be Batman's first Christmas story!

Art by Bob Kane.

Spider-Man had a love-hate relationship with Christmas, what with him swinging around New York patrolling during the holidays and not snuggling with Mary Jane under the warm blankets (because screw OMD). But I loved the fact that Spidey celebrated Christmas just like me.

A panel from X-Man #24. Art by Roger Cruz.

A panel from Sensational Spider-Man #24. Art by Todd Nauck.

It's not just Marvel...DC had its share of adventures during the holidays. One of my favorite stories was in Starman #27, where Jack Knight helps a down-and-out Santa. Warning: this WILL bring a tear to your eye!

Art by Steve Yowell.

Also, during that weird Warrior phase he had, Guy Gardner's bar was open during the holidays, and everybody was invited!

A panel from Guy Gardner: Warrior #39. Art by Marc Campos.

Not just the stories, I loved it when my favorite artists get to depict Christmas in their books. This Joe Mad splash page from Uncanny X-Men #341 blew me away as a kid and remains one of my favorite images ever!

 Art by Joe Madureira.

It's sad that with long storyarcs and 'writing for the trade', we'll probably never get to see seasonal issues like these anytime soon. But if you're itching for some stories set during Christmastime, the intermittent holiday specials and spectaculars put out by the Big Two are your next best bet.

So what were your favorite comic book holiday stories? Let's talk about it in the comments! Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Week in Comics: December 16, 2011

Don't you just hate hiatuses? Stupid real life interfering with my comics fun...but I digress. Let's jump start this blog again with the most verbose comics reviews around! This week, I'm reviewing two explosive endings to two great comics! What did I get myself into? Read on to find out!

Bonnie Lass #4 is a maelstrom of maritime insanity, which is my fancy way of saying it's crazy good. Last issue saw Bonnie and her crew being sucked into a watery vortex courtesy of a very large and very angry Leviathan. With the evil Ebb Tide group wanting a piece of the action, and a sea monster running amok, it's going to take a hell of a lot of luck to get out of this mess in one piece (no pun intended)!

The miniseries wraps things up splendidly, with an exciting action sequence involving tons of seawater and ammunition that would make Michael Bay proud. I love it when storylines end with a bang, and Bonnie Lass #4 did just that. It does get a little chaotic in some parts when you can't seem to follow the action well, but I guess that's what Michael Mayne and Tyler Fluharty meant to do. Mayne's art is his usual art nouveau-ish best, with a little sprinkling of anime-style goodness that I like. More books should look like this!

Bonnie Lass #4 is a one-two punch of great comic entertainment. I can't wait to see what Bonnie Lass will be up to next. This gets a 4 out of 5.

And now we come to Uncanny X-Force #18, the grand finale to the magnum opus that is Rick Remender's The Dark Angel Saga. Archangel is a few steps away from resetting evolution, and the only thing standing in their way is the new pairing of Fantomex and Psylocke!

They say all good things come to an end, but they never factored in just how good an end this one is. Remender went balls-out with this storyarc, showing us a ton of explosions, mangled body parts, heroic sacrifices and the undeniable power of love.

I say that because in the end, this is ultimately a story about the love of Psylocke and Archangel and the sacrifices one must make for the one you love. As mushy as it sounds, it lends a hopeful and very romantic undercurrent that tempers all the wanton carnage this book is known for. It's action-packed, but it's also a bittersweet love story. And when you see how Remender decides to end it all, I'd be shocked if you don't shed a tear. It's fitting that Jerome Opena and Esad Ribic, both regular series artists, team up to bring all this to life, and they match Remender's story with the same quality art they've been known for since this book started.

Uncanny X-Force #18 and the entire Dark Angel Saga will go down as one of the best and most memorable storylines in recent years, and you can quote me on that. This gets a 5 out of 5.

Two great comics, two great finales! That's a winning week, if you ask me! Speaking of which, let me know what you think about this week's comics by leaving me a comment below! Hope you enjoyed this review, and thanks for reading!
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