Hentai Kamen (2013)

One from the to watch pile…
Hentai Kamen (2013)

The cover of the Australian DVD release


Film: Ahhhhh, manga and Anime: the formats where any perversion, no matter how tentacley is welcomed. I’ve read and watched a lot of stuff over the years, and two manga that certainly caused the weirdo in me to stand up and take notice are Go Nagai’s Kekko Kamen, about a nude heroine who rides a motorcycle, and the one this movie is based upon, Keishū Andy’s Kyūkyoku Hentai Kamen, about a young man who gets super powers whenever he smells the… aroma… of the panties he wears on his face as a disguise.

This adaptation was done by Yūichi Fukuda, both direction and writing, who seems to be mainly a TV writer and director, but is also responsible for the sequel to this film Hentai Kamen: The Abnormal Crisis, which came out three years after this first one.

Kyosuke (Ryôhei Suzuki), the son of a now-deceased police officer and a bondage mistress, is a confused young man. He has inherited his father’s sense of justice and tough guy attitude, but no matter how hard he tries in martial arts training, he just can’t match that with any sort of crime-fighting skill, until the day his new crush, Aiko (Fumiko Shimizu) gets held hostage by a bunch of crooks.

An example of the quality, Shakespearean dialogue.


On this day he manages to find his strength, sneaks into the building, knocks out a guard and takes his clothes, including his mask, but when he goes to put the mask on, he accidentally picks up a pair of unwashed girls panties, and once the… um… aroma… hits him, his perverted gene that he inherited from his mother kicks in and he becomes the superhero Hentai Kamen!!!

Hentai Kamen quickly finds his powers are needed to save his school from the grips of mad criminal who sends assassin after assassin to defeat him, but will brute force beat Hentai Kamen, or will a more cunning plot prevail?

The object of HK’s affection: Aiko.


The main actor, Ryôhei Suzuki, has to be given a huge amount of credit in this film though. He is dressed throughout the film in mainly what only can be described as a white mankini and a pair of panties across his face. Thankfully there isn’t a scrap of fat on his entire body, and I have to admit that maybe my wife stopped whilst I was watching the film and emitted a ‘phwoar’ before casting a disappointed glance in my direction.

Overacted, a touch overlong, with a ridiculous script and some pretty bad CGI all make for a pretty funny movie that entertains and surprises throughout. Not for the faint of heart though, and there are more dick jokes than you could shake a stick at.

One thing this film definitely IS, however, is the cure for all the Marvel and DC movies that are littering the cinemas.

Score: ***1/2

The Australian DVD menu screen


Format: Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero runs for 101 minutes was reviewed on the Australian Madman DVD release which is presented in an excellent and clean 16:9 image with a perfect Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Score: ***

Extras: The only extras on this disc are trailer for this film, and for Ace Attorney, Real, Badges of Fury and A Werewolf Boy

Score: *1/2

WISIA: This film is 100% a one-watch only. It’s funny, but has no longevity.

Well, why don’t you..?

Advertisements

Captain Kronos, the Comic!

Ok, so I must admit I’ve been a little bit lazy when it comes to the ol’ To Watch Pile, but I have been distracted. The good thing is you, dear reader, probably won’t notice as I try to run the blog six weeks ahead so there is no interruption if I need a week away or something.
For the past two weeks though, I have had a couple of things I really love outside of Horror get released at my local video game specialist.

First was Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the first person game based in an alternate universe when the Nazis won the First World War. In itself it is a horror film, and the story with this one (so far) has been full of dread, with great graphics and amazing gameplay, and a free ‘GI Joe’ styled toy of BJ, the hero of the piece.

A promotional poster for Wolfenstein II.


In the same week, Mario Odyssey was released for the Nintendo Switch. I have been waiting to buy a Switch until the new Mario was released and I have grabbed 4 games to various deal of success. Odyssey is truly an amazing piece of gaming equipment!

Finally, a week after those two releases, we have the big daddy release that I buy every year, Call of Duty World War II, which after three years of scifi styled stories (4 if you say Ghosts was a truly scifi setting) we are back to boots on the ground, old school weapons. Funny, after three years of complaining about the movement being far to big a factor of those games, I am finding my skill totally lacking, but it’s a good looking game… maybe I’ll get better at it.

This isn’t me doing a market report or boasting of my crap gaming skills, no, this little piece is to tell you all about an amazing comic that may have slipped by without being noticed.

Titan Books have a fledgling comics line that seems to be picking up steam, which thankfully doesn’t have a shared universe like Marvel or DC and is instead a series of licenses like Assassin’s Creed, the aforementioned Wolfenstein, Warhammer and The Evil Within, just to name a few.

This new series I am excited about is based on a Hammer Horror film called Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter.

One of the many movie posters to Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter


This series is written by Dan Abnett, probably best known for the creation of the 2000AD strip Sinister Dexter, and has worked on several Marvel titles The Punisher, War Machine and various X-men titles. I’m not the biggest fan of Sinister Dexter, but I have enjoyed his writing on other series though, including some Doctor Who Magazine comics he also wrote.

The highlight for me though is the art by industry legend Tom Mandrake. I love Mandrake’s work as his art is very pre-Image comics, very proper like artists like John Buscema and Joe Kubert (probably because he was trained at Kubert’s school), and he has worked on many comics over his time, and is know for the co-creation of Batman villains Black Mask and Film Freak. Over the years he has mainly worked on DC titles, but also for Marvel, First, Eclipse and Image Comics.

This comic is doing something that I detest which is alternate covers, but I do like the fact that some of the alternates are called ‘Hammer Glamour’ and have photographs of Caroline Monroe on the cover.

The photo covers to Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, issues 1 and 2.


Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter tells the tale of a group of miscreants sometime in the 18th century who hunt vampires… as the title may suggest. Captain Kronos is a handsome ex-soldier, who is fast on horse and swift with sword, Grost is his hunchbacked, one-legged assistant and finally Carla, lovely, ruthless and skilled at fighting.

This comic furthers his adventures and is full of much vampires and derring-do. I certainly hope it can maintain the quality of these first two issues. If you are a fan of swashbuckling comics, vampires and old school art style, you’ll probably like this comic.

Comic Book Confidential (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Comic Book Confidential (1988)

The Australian DVD cover


Film: I am and always will be a comic fan. Sure there have been periods of time where I haven’t collection, the post-Image world of the 90s for example (I’m sorry guys, I like the old artwork, and the anime/ graffiti styled artwork of those guys never rubbed me the right way… I want my superheroes to be done by the old masters like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, John Buscema and their ilk) and recently I’ve become disappointed with the storylines which seem to be repetitive and basically made to sell the movies. I understand it’s a business but there seems to be a creative lull, which has happened before as the history of comics is circular and fad based. Something hot today will not even be published tomorrow.

Hell, as of this review we don’t even have the cornerstone of the Marvel universe, the Fantastic Four being published, and that was once taglined as ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’.

I do still however get collections of old stuff, and I’m fascinated by the history of the art form too, and my book collection has many ‘history of comics’ books amongst it.

William Gaines


This, however, is Ron Mann’s documentary of the history of comic books and it’s a pretty concise and interesting look at how they came about, but the best thing about this doco is the absolutely essential stories from some of the old men, and young guns, of the industry.

It’s pretty special to know the history of Bill Gaines, and then hear him tell stories himself, and to actually hear my hero, Jack Kirby’s voice, is amazing. 

This doesn’t just look at the history of the art of comics, it also takes a walk down the history of comics legacy, and how it was effected by, and how it effected society. There is some great archival footage of the Senatorial Commitee on Juvenile Delinquency and some disturbing stories about court cases where artists and writers were sued for things they wrote or drew.

There is some cool presentations of classic comic covers rarely seen, but occasionally that footage is spoilt by some poorly executed, amateurish animation of the covers which was unnecessary and detracts from the amazing original art.

Harvey Kurtzman


If you want a brief history of the industry, and one that is American centric as none of the great European or Asian artists really get a look in, this is your place to go, but there is so much more to many of the stories discussed in this doco. Honestly. This doco could do with a 1988 to now sequel!

Ron, are you listening?

Score: ****

The Australian DVD menu screen


Format: This documentary was reviewed with the Australian DVD release which runs for approximately 85 minutes. The film is presented in 4:3 and has a 2.0 audio track, both of which are of various degrees of quality due to the historical nature of some of the footage and audio. It doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the film though.

Score: ***

Extras: There is several extra on this disc though the first couple are a bit Kevin Smith indulgent. I guess if you pay someone to turn up you take advantage of the time.

The first note is that this doco from the 80s has a new introduction by Kevin Smith, where he basically points out that even ten years later when his introduction was done, it was still relevant.

A Conversation with Kevin Smith is more ‘ a justification for reading comics by Kevin Smith’ and whilst I get the heart of where it’s coming from I don’t get why I have to justify, or convince someone that adults can read comic, the same as a cricket fan does have to justify to me why he likes it. It doesn’t matter what you dig, just respect each other, and if you think you have to justify your passion to a friend, you need new friends.

Silent Bobs Speaks is a not very funny series of questions aimed at Smith’s ‘Silent Bob’ character. Lame.

There is also a trailer for the film.

The is an interview with director Ron Mann who talks about the making of this film and his career in general.

Last there are text biographies of some of the artists featured in the doco, including Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Jaime Hernandez, Shary Flenniken, Lynda Barry, Victor Moscow, Bill Griffith, Jack Kirby (of course), William M. Gaines, Francoise Molly, Al Feldstein, Art Spiegelman, Sue Coe, Gilbert Shelton, Dan O’Neill, Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, Harvey Pekar, Spain, Charles Burns and Paul Mavrides. They are single paragraph bios so don’t expect an entire indepth history of each person.

Score: ***

WISIA: I have watched this many times and will probably continue to watch it many more times.

Robert Crumb

Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

One from the re watch pile…
Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: As a comic fan, I possibly love these DC animated features more than the Marvel movies. I like the fact that every film doesn’t require an origin story of the character, and there is an assumption that the viewer KNOWS who Batman and Superman and Power Girl and whomever else is. Throwing out the need to have an origin story makes for a quicker start to the tale, and the DC universe creators are clever with their introductions as sometimes they are as simple as just sitting at a table in JLA headquarters!

The other thing is unlimited budget. The beautiful thing about animation (and comics) is it takes about the same amount of budget to create one explosion or fifty of them, also, it’s a lot easier to change a cast member when all you hear is their voice.

There is also the fact that they just tell good stories almost every time, and that is because they are based on the stories told in the comics, which were far better than any ‘live action’ adaptation. This in combination with some spectacular character design, and the inclusion of one of Jack Kirby’s greatest creations, Darkseid, and other denizens of his awesome Fourth World Saga characters, make for an epic tale.

During a meteor shower, ‘something’ crash lands in Gotham Harbour, making Batman go to investigate. Batman finds a spaceship of Kryptonian origins, a bunch of kryptonite, and a girl, Kara, the cousin of Superman!

Batman prefers hard rock over heavy metal.


Superman and Batman become an unusual parental unit for Kara, who we quickly find out was sent with baby Superman to protect him on Earth, but her ship was knocked off course, arriving so much later that Superman is now older in body that her, as her ships suspended animation kept her at a 16 year old girl’s age. Unfortunately, Batman’s mistrust causes a rift between them and her.

Meanwhile, on the God-world of Apokalips, the evil ruler Darkseid, is attempting to replace the traitorous Big Barda, who left his royal guard as its captain. He is entrusting Granny Goodness, the trainer of warriors, to find her replacement, but she is repeatedly failing. Darkseid has seen Kara fall from the sky too, and entrusts Goodness to capture her so she can become his new Captain.

Meanwhile, again, Batman has employed Wonder Woman to take her Paradise Island to receive proper training, which Superman agrees to, causing a rift between her and him.

With Kara’s disappointment in both her ‘parents’, once captured she is easily swayed to Darkseid’s manipulations… but will she become Darkseid’s greatest warrior?

Supergirl under Darkseid’s thrall.


This is a really cool story, and it shows a lot of the strong women that DC has to offer all in one story, although as a weird juxtaposition, it also has a bizarre sequence where Kara goes shopping in a Pretty Woman styled sequence, which seems to show that even above all the powers, she’s still ‘just a girl’. I don’t know why such a sequence exists in this film, and the film comes to a sudden stop to show it. I have to admit that when we see what she ultimately decides as her outfit, it’s a nice tribute to Laura Vandervoort’s Smallville outfit.

Another thing I like about it is how it links loosely to the previous Superman/ Batman movie, Public Enemies, with a mention of ‘President Luthor’s impeachment’.

There’s some awesome voice casting in this film as well. Kevin Conroy returns as the angry voice of Batman, as does Tim Daly as Superman. Summer Glau from Firefly performs Supergirl but the most inspired vocal choice is TV legend Ed Asner as Granny Goodness, it makes her look even weirder with his deep attempts at a woman’s voice.

All up, this is certainly one of the better DC animated features and for me being a big Kirby fan, it was a pleasure seeing so many of Kirby’s creations, like Big Barda, Granny Goodness, the Female Furies, Parademons, Hunger Dogs… just so many, on the screen.

Score: ****1/2

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray which runs for approximately 78 minutes and is presented in a crisp 1.85:1 visual with an clear cut and crisp DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Extras: The disc opens with previews for Batman: Under the Red Hood and The Lost Boys: The Thirst before making its way to the main menu.

Under the Special Features banner though is a huge bunch of stuff:

DC Showcase: Green Arrow is a cool 10 minute short highlighting Green Arrow. This is a really cool short that introduces the character of Green Arrow and also features other characters like Black Widow, Count Vertigo and Merlyn. DC only made a few of these and it’s disappointing that they dumped them. This features an awesome line up of actors doing the voices too: A Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell, Captain America: The First Avenger’s Neil McDonough, Scooby Doo’s Grey Delisle, Futurama’s John DiMaggio and Modern Family’s Ariel Winter!

Bruce Timm’s Top Picks features four episodes taken from Superman: The Animated Series: Little Girl Lost Part 1 and 2, and Apokalips Now! Part 1 and 2.

The Fourth World: The New Gods investigates Jack Kirby’s creation of the New Gods in the early 70s, and how important their creation was to DC at the time, and explores Kirby’s history as well, and how important he was to the history of comic books.

New Gods: Mister Miracle Pod is a distillation of Miracle’s origin.

News Gods: Orion Pod is the same as Miracle’s, but for Orion.

Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton explores the history of the character of Supergirl, why she was so important to the DC universe, and why she continues to be relevant and popular today. Unfortunately this was made before the new TV series starring Melissa Benoist so there’s nothing included from that (at this point, Laura Vandervoort was still Supergirl from the Smallville TV show).

There are also trailers for the Lego Universe, the Jonah Hex motion comic, Batman: Under the Red Hood (again), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies.

The final extra is a sneak peak at what was the next release in the DC Animated Features, All-Star Superman.

Score: *****

WISIA: I love these DC animated features, and ALL of them get regularly watched… including this one.

Big Barda expresses her point.

Necessary Evil: Super-villains of DC Comics (2013)

One from the re watch pile…
Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013)

The cover of the US DVD


Film: I’ve been collecting comics for well over 40 years, and I still love them to death. I do admit that I did have a period in the 90s where I did not buy any, but that was due to Image comics; not the comics or artists themselves as what they did for artists and writers in the industry was long overdue, but the style of their art.

I’m an old school, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corbin, Robert Crumb guy, so these new flashy artists had no interest to me, and when Marvel and DC started emulating their style, I was out!

Thankfully this didn’t last too long and soon I was back in the fold, enjoying the adventures of masked heroes fighting the good fight against evil, and being a bi-fan: that is, I buy both Marvel and DC comics… but why both? Why in a world where most people buy one or the other, would I get comics from both universes?

The answer is this: I love the realism of most of Marvel’s heroes having a basis in science rather than magic, and without a doubt, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four is still the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine, even though as of the date of this review it hasn’t been published for several years. 

On the flip side of that, I think that DC’s bad guys are greater than Marvel’s. Lex Luther is a great example: in Marvel comics, his equivalent is a good guy, Tony Stark, a weapons manufacturer who became Iron Man. In reality, those sorts of people are seen by the general public as villains, like Luthor. Luther doesn’t hate mankind or want world destruction, he’s xenophobic against Superman.

The man responsible for some of the greatest Batman comics ever written, Scott Snyder


In reality, what would mankind do if an alien came to earth? Luthor’s actions are probably more accurate. Acceptable? No, but when are mankind’s actions acceptable?

Another DC villain that I think is possibly the greatest villain of all time is Jack Kirby’s Darkseid. Darkseid is the dictator of a world called Apokalips, and is at odds with the ENTIRE DC universe. You Marvel fans think Thanos is something to be concerned about? Darkseid would eat Thanos for breakfast!

Anyway, this documentary, Necessary Evil, sits as a great companion piece to the previous documentary Secret Origins: The History of DC Comics, which was released three years earlier. Necessary Evil is hosted by Christopher Lee (the ultimate super villain?) and has interviews with creative types from all walks of life. From psychologists to actors, including but not limited to director Zach Snyder, screenplay writer Geoff Boucher, co-creator of Harley Quinn Paul Dini, DC editor Bobbie Chase, DC editor in chief Bob Harras and many many more.

Producer and author of The Boy Who Loved Batman, Michael Uslan


The film features clips from comics, cartoons, video games, animated films and major motion pictures, and displays many incarnations of the various villains, and is not just a great history of the villains of the DC universe, but is also an interesting psychological look at why we love heroes, but love villains even more.

Recommended, but it’s really only for the most devout of DC comics fans.

Score: *****

The US DVD menu screen


Format: Necessary Evil was reviewed on a region 1 DVD which runs for 99 minutes. The image is presented in a 1.78:1 image and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, both of which are pretty good.

Score: ****

Extras: The disc starts with a trailer for DC’s We Can Be Heroes incentive (which is a pretty cool cause http://www.wecambeheroes.org), Man of Steel, the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, the DC animated feature Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and the DC animated TV series, Green Lantern, Young Justice and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and that’s the entirety of the extras.

Score: **

WISIA: Being a comic nut, I have to admit to watching this many many times.

An animated Green Lantern villain: Star Sapphire

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Review

One from the re watch pile for Jack Kirby month…
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: Captain America has always been ‘my’ superhero. When I was a early teen, which is when I really started to collect comics properly (before that I just bought them at random, rather than collect a series consistently), and that first series that I couldn’t do without was Cap’s. I remember clearly that it was issue 262, drawn my Mike Zeck and it had Cap being held aloft by a giant version of himself known as ‘The Ameridroid’. I had a great friend in high school and the two of us were ‘the comic nerds’ though he was an Iron Man guy, whilst I was all about Cap.

He was my friend regardless of his bad taste in heroes.

My father one day took me to Comic Kingdom in Sydney, and bought for me a full second run of Jack Kirby’s Captain America from the 70s (and a full run of Jack Kirby’s The Demon from DC) and I was totally enamoured by how awesome Kirby’s art was and became a lifelong fan. I did have other Kirby comics in my collection, I quickly discovered, and they became the jewels in my comic crown.

So fast forward to about 30 years later, and I hear that a ‘proper’ Captain America film was being made that would be part of a greater collective of a Cinema version of the Marvel Universe, and am stoked that the guy who was cast as Johnny Storm in a substandard Fantastic Four movie previously.

More importantly, I heard it was going to be pretty true to the comic, and the lack of an Italian Red Skull made my heart flutter.

… and boy, was I not disappointed!

The Captain (Chris Evans) is somewhat disappointed in his way effort as an entertainer.


Captain America: The First Avenger tells of a young man Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) during the Second World War who, due to a lack of physical prowess, was rejected to join the army, though he is eventually accepted to join a test program to create the perfect ‘super soldier’. 

When he proves himself not in strength or skill, but in mind and heart, he is accepted into the experimental program, overseen by Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci). He finds that he is not the first to undergo such a procedure, and that a German soldie, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving, who I still think would be an amazing Joker in a Batman film), went through an imperfect version of the process which caused him to become deformed with a red, skull-like visage.

Unfortunately, Dr. Erskine is killed by a German spy during the procedure and when Steve emerges as a muscular heroic figure and pursues him, he kills himself with a cyanide pill. With Erskine dead, Rogers is not used as a soldier, but instead a promoter of war bonds and a part of the war effort entertainment troupe, until he is caught up in a rescue mission which not only reunites him with his childhood friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) but puts him at odds with Schmidt, and his collaborator, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones).

Will Captain America survive his first mission, or will he end up in a plane crash and be frozen for 50 years…?

Achtung, Baby! It’s the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).


They nailed the entire creation of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon’s character in this film. The beauty of do a film set in the past is you don’t have to ‘update’ it like they did with Iron Man, who got his chest injuries differently in the comics (well, basically the same, but in a different war) so there is no part really where the comic fan might get a cringe… like the Joker killing Batman’s parents in Tim Burton’s Batman…

Sigh.

They do modernise Bucky though, as the concept of a young boy being sent to war to fight alongside men would have child endangerment groups livid, and let’s face it, the kid sidekick is a terrible idea (sorry Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Aqualad, etc). Any ‘hero’ who puts kids in danger is no hero at all!

The amazing thing is that this film never really falls into the trappings of what could make it a bad movie. Captain America is seen as an icon of good, rather than a pro-America cheerleader, and that is something that could have very easily been mistakenly done. This is due to the excellent writing from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, which never talks down, nor does it feel comic-y: it’s a war movie with a superhero in it! The only time it goes into melodramatic areas is with the Red Skull, which it has to as he is an over-the-top supervillain!

The direction is really good too. Joe Johnson didn’t just set this film in the 40s, sometimes it even is filmed like a movie of that era, and I got bits and pieces of things like Raoul Walsh’s White Heat out of the occasional visual. He didn’t copy scenes, but there is an occasional stylistic emulation, which never becomes parody which is a nice touch.

Anyway, this is a great superhero movie and a pretty good war movie too, and throw in a brief cameo of Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman just to make the nerd in me jump up and take notice!

Score: ****

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This Australian bluray copy of the film runs for approximately 124 minutes and is presented in an impeccable 2.35: 1 image with an astonishing Dolby DTS-HD 7.1.

Score: *****

Extras: Heaps of cool extras on this disc!

Commentary by Director Joe Johnson, Director Of Photography Shelley Johnson and Editor Jeffrey Ford which is a good one, insomuch as it’s informative and conversational.

Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer is, upon reflection, a tool to prepare us for Coulson’s character becoming a bigger part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s an entertaining short, in the vein of ‘bully gets his just deserts’ styled YouTube videos.

Next there is a bunch of really interesting featurettes:

Outfitting Cap looks at the entire design process and styling of Cap’s outfit and his shield.

Howling Commandos looks at the actors who played Cap’s platoon, the Howling Commandos, firmly placed in comic lore, though Nick Fury is absent (he was their sergeant in the comics).

Heightened Technology looks at the tech used in the film, which needed to look like ACTUAL WWII technology, but still have a scifi element to it.

The Transformation tells of the special effects needed to make ‘skinny Steve’, the pre-super soldiered Steve Rogers, on Chris Evans’ muscular body/

Behind the Skull explores the performance by Hugo Weaving and special effects of the Red Skull, Cap’s arch enemy.

Captain America’s Origin is a discussion with Captain America co-creator Joe Simon about his and Jack Kirby’s creation.

The Assembly Begins is, of course, a first look at what would become The Avengers.

Deleted Scenes has 4 deleted scenes which can be watched with a commentary by the previously mention members of the film commentary team (for some reason one doesn’t have the commentary, but you’ll have to deal with it).

There are four trailers: two for the film, one for the video game and one for the Avengers cartoon.

This version of the film also came with the film on DVD and a downloadable digital copy as well.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s Captain America; you bet I’ll watch it again… and again…. and again….

Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes aim…

R.I.P. Joan Lee

The To Watch Pile would like to pass on our condolences to Stan Lee for the passing of his beloved wife Joanie. 
Not many people know that she was part of the inspiration to create the Fantastic Four and Spiderman as Stan was considering not doing it, but she suggested that he wants to quit comics anyway, so he may as well do what he likes, and damn the consequences. As the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. Stan has told this tale many times, and I myself am one of those types who owes his successes to his wife.

He, along with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, birthed the Marvel universe around her trust in Stan’s ideas.

I may criticise Lee on my Facebook page, but it is partially tongue in cheek, and I do believe that he and his gang, along with Julie Schwartz and Carmine Infantino over at DC, rebuilt the superhero comic into what it is today. 

Joan, a former British hat model, apparently suffered with a stroke earlier this week. She is survived by Stan and their daughter, J.C.

Comic Review: Secret Avengers Volume 1: Mission to Mars

Secret Avengers 1

You’re going to get an idea of where this review is going by my very next sentence…

I REALLY wanted to like this.

This collection combines the first five issues of Secret Avengers, which is an undercover, covert Avengers group. This comic took place right after the amazing Death of Captain America storyline which really shook up the Marvel status quo, as we now had the Winter Soldier as Captain America, and Steve Rogers (Cap’s alter ego) left without that role.

The newly christened ‘The Captain’ in charge of the aforementioned group, which confusingly consisted of Black Widow, the Beast, War Machine, Nova, Valkyrie, Ant-man (not Hank, and not Scott but some other guy) and Moon Night.

In this story, the Secret Avengers find themselves on a … yep, Mission to Mars… in pursuit of the Serpent Crown, a powerful icon that would be deadly in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, something called The Shadow Council is also in pursuit, the weird thing is though, is the guy in charge looks like a certain Nick Fury… and what happens when one of the members of the Avengers turns against them…

This was written by Ed Brubaker, who wrote the Death of Cap storyline and is an amazing writer, but it seems that this comic was a massive misstep. Moon Knight and Black Widow are completely wasted and by sticking them on Mars, are outclassed., and the new Ant-man is, well, a jerk.

The art of issues 1 to 4 is by Mike Deodato Jr , and this is an artist who just gets better every time I see his work. If you look back at his early art, he seemed little more than a post-Image comics stooge whos talent lay in his ability to emulate them, with his art looking like the unwanted child of a marriage between Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld’s early work, but now it’s leaning towards the great John Buscema.

The fifth issue has art by David Aja, who is a spectacular artist who worked on the fantastic Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon with support from Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano.

The reviewed copy of this comic is a really nice hardcover volume from Marvel, which in addition to the five issues has a bunch of alternate covers.

Visually this story is a treat but the mix of characters is like eating chocolate and fried cheese: by themselves nice, but together, just wrong, and the story suffers for it.

SCORE: ***

 

Book Review: Our Gods Wear Spandex

One from the To Read Pile…

OUR GODS WEAR SPANDEX

by

Christopher Knowles

with illustrations by

Joseph Michael Linsner

IMG_0690

I’ve been a comic fan my entire life, except for the first three years, and a period of about 5 years in the 90s when comic stories and art became so dire and horrible, and everything was about ‘alternate covers’ and bonus crap and every hero was covered in armour and/ or carried guns.

Some comic boffins refer to this as the ‘Chromium Age’ of comics due to the fact the very worst of comics ended up with thick awful garish metallic covers that promised to be worth a million dollars in the future, but whose content… let’s be honest, sucked.

Coincidently, this very topic is how Christopher Knowles book, Our Gods Wear Spandex begins as it discusses the highs and lows of the comics industry: how the highs usually come after a great tragedy like World War II and how the lows are generally when the industry itself becomes a parody of itself, like when every single comic, including the leaders in DC and Marvel, imitate fads like that of Rob Liefeld’s comic ‘art’ in the early 90s.

The book then goes into a quite interesting assessment of how today’s mythical gods are superheroes whom are all in some way based on ancient myths and legends and how subsequent heroes are based upon these. For me, the revelation that my idol Jack Kirby based two of his characters looks, in Thor and OMAC on that of Shazam’s Captain Marvel! (sorry DC, no matter how much you wish to refer to the Big Red Cheese as ‘Shazam’, he’ll always be Captain Marvel to me!)

The book also details the origins of some of comics big storylines and from where historically or myth0logically they are influenced. It details how everything from religious orders and secret societies, to ideas proposed by Niezche and Einstein and have sparked creative fires in the minds of everyone from Siegal and Shuster, to Lee and Kirby, and even to the aforementioned Liefeld and his Image co-conspirators, though their ideas more are borrowed from other, better comics, rather than classic literature or intellectual thought.

Not only do we have a cavalcade of mythical tales summarised within these pages, various writers from the 19th and 20th century, those at the birth of science fiction and detective stories like Poe, Lovecraft, Wells, Verne and their contemporaries are also discussed, albeit briefly.

The comparison of these myths and theories and how they influenced the character from the pulp novels like The Spider and Doc Savage, and then how they in turn influenced comic characters and stories is fascinating, but the best thing is, Christopher Knowles has made it accessible and the language in which its written is relaxed and enjoyable. The book also has really nice illustrations by Cry for Dawn’s Joe Michael Linsner, though I must say I prefer his color art to his line art. If you are a long time comic fan, and have ever thought,” where did they get that ideas from?”, this book is for you.