Friday, June 14, 2013

My Week in Comics: Six-Gun Gorilla #1

Don't let the title fool you. Six-Gun Gorilla #1 may sound like something a 10-year-old (like me) would have thought up while doodling on his Science notebook...okay scratch that, it's pretty much like that, and it's awesome.

Writer and creator Simon Spurrier introduces us to this strange sci-fi western, where a civil war is raged on a strange planet using even stranger technology, where the action isn't just brutal, it's POV-televised to reality show junkies, and where a soldier named called Blue-3425 is on a suicide mission in exchange for a nice payday when he croaks...that is, until he meets a wandering gunslinger who just happens to be a dual-wielding silverback gorilla!

Spurrier takes the time to world-build in this ish, but it's surprisingly not as boring as it sounds. From the get-go we're thrust into a civil war that takes absolutely no prisoners, and we learn a lot about the technology, the time period, and what's going through the mind of these soldiers who are all-too-willing to die, and I don't feel lost in it at all, which speaks volumes about Spurrier's skills in keeping things crazy yet interesting. Crazy being the operative word. I especially love the way he takes the time to flesh out each character, even the disposable ones, with their own back stories and ticks, right down to their accents!

But Spurrier's witty dialogue and crazy ideas can only go so far without the art to go with it, and artist Jeff Stokely fits the bill nicely. Stokely's art has lots of character, and it's got this manic energy to it that I absolutely love. Every gun shot, every whizzing blade is drawn with a sort of frenzy and verve I don't see very often, and it compliments Spurrier's ideas well, resulting in a two-fisted team-up of a comic that looks as well as it reads.

This first ish holds more questions than answers, but the entire package is interesting enough to make me want to know more...something a good first issue does. And besides, who can say no to a revolver-wielding gorilla?

Six-Gun Gorilla #1 has loads of wit, character and awesome...and we're only at issue one! This is splendid work from Spurrier and Stokely, and I can't wait to see what surprises he has in store for us next. If you're hankerin' for a primate pistolero story, you can't go wrong with this. Six-Gun Gorilla #1 gets a 4.5 out of 5.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Man of Steel Movie Review

A word of caution: this is not the Superman you grew up with.

Bur in some ways, Man of Steel it’s all the better for it.

With Krypton in the brink of destruction, Jor-El (Russel Crowe) sends his infant son Kal-El to a distant planet to save him. The baby lands on Earth, and is found and raised by the kindly couple of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent. Through the years we see the baby grow up to be Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who feels torn between his human side and his Kryptonian lineage. But when another Krypton survivor by the name of General Zod (Michael Shannon) threatens the world he has grown to call home, Clark has to make a choice that could change the world forever.

That's the keyword there: choice. If anything, Man of Steel is surprisingly brilliant with this. The choices superheroes make in comic books carry little to no consequence, confident in the fact that things will always work out for the best. In Man of Steel, the choices Clark/Superman make isn't always so easy and carry consequences so dire, and what results is the kind of gravitas you don't often see in previous Superman movies, giving us a Superman that's all too human despite being able to literally carry the world on his shoulders.

Man of Steel has a surprising amount of heart, mostly stemming from the performance of Henry Cavill who, despite being in the unenviable position of being measured up to Christopher Reeves’ shadow, manages to successfully make the character his own. Cavill’s range is great, able to go from sensitive and vulnerable as Clark to heroically imposing as Superman, and is believable as both. The rest of the ensemble cast (aside from the brilliance that is Michael Shannon, who turns in a performance so scary good) is regrettably forgettable, relegated to collateral damage status when the punching starts...something the movie has copious amounts of.

Of course, this is Zack Snyder we’re talking about here. If there’s action of any sort, and it’s Snyder’s job to direct it, you can be sure he can crank it up to insane levels. If anybody wanted to see Superman being actually super for once, they won’t be disappointed with Man of Steel. Here, Superman lets loose on his enemies with a flurry of blows that could shatter buildings and level towns.  Unfortunately, though Snyder may know how to direct exciting action set pieces, he just doesn't know when to stop, and it gets to a point when all the wanton destruction (and there is a LOT of it!) goes on for too long and it takes away from the moment, chucking suspension of disbelief out the window.

But a funny and surprising realization dawned on me even as the final fight raged across the screen in a blur of smoke and rubble: I can finally relate to this Superman, this Kansas-bred mama's boy who just happens to have more power than he knows what to do with. I shared in his grief during his lowest times, and I shared in his boyish glee when he first learned how to fly. That feeling alone was worth the 190Php I spent to watch this, and it was worth every centavo.

I was awed, I was teary-eyed, I was blown away by all the power on display. Man of Steel may not be as superheroic fun as Marvel’s The Avengers, but at least it wasn't trying hard to be. It's a superhero blockbuster with a very human heart beating in the middle of it, and I think that's where the movie's, and Superman's, strength lies.
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