I like the Avengers, I like Brian Michael Bendis (usually) what I don’t like is the fact that Marvel has decided to continue to saturate their title list with yet another Avengers book, Avengers Assemble. It is not a terrible book, but it is a book that doesn’t bring anything new that we haven’t already seen in any of the current ongoing Avengers titles. Hulk just wants to be left alone but he just happens to be sitting in the path of a convoy of trucks that the bad guys want. Tony Stark makes a joke about having too much money and having to rebuild Avengers Tower. Hawkeye makes crude and unwanted passes at Black Widow and Captain America makes a big speech about freedom.

We’ve seen all of these things before so why even put this book out? Well if you take a look at the top of almost any Marvel book right now you’ll see a quaint little banner for the Avengers movie coming out May 4 this spring. That’s right people, this book is solely meant to showcase the team of characters featured in the Avengers movie. Most of the rosters of the other Avengers titles make sense: Avengers is your classic Avengers roster (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man), New Avengers is your edgier team who broke off during Civil War (Luke Cage, Wolverine, Iron Fist), and Secret Avengers is the black ops of the three (Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Hawkeye). Bendis doesn’t even try to explain a reason as to why these characters decide to form a team when they belong to their own respective Avengers teams already.

I honestly cannot see this book lasting past the movie getting pulled from theaters. While its not the worst comic I’ve ever read, this title has no reason for being, no soul or story that makes me believe it was anything other than a way to promote the Avengers movie. I will not continue to read Avengers Assemble when it comes out next month and it did nothing for me in terms of my decision on whether or not I was going to see the movie, which I assume was the point of the book, because frankly I was going to see it anyways. It looks awesome. This book, not so much.

I took my daughters (3 and 7) to see the Tin Tin movie during the holidays and was pleasantly surprised by the movie.  I’d never read any of the Tin Tin books, so I came to the theater with no pre-conceived notions.  What I found as the story unfolded was an exciting adventure story where the action never let up, the characters were likable and the story was just fun.  At one point, I realized that I’d been smiling for 5-minutes straight.  And the best part was that this was a movie that I could take my kids to see.

As soon as we got back in the car, my oldest daughter started asking me about the Tin Tin comics.  The interest was clearly there, so I told her that I would buy her one if she was interested.  Of course, she was.

I think that the key to a love of reading is finding the right story at the right time.  We’ve come close a couple of times–the Narnia books, the Hardy Boys, and the Little House series have all made their way to bed time at the Summers’ farm–but I’ve been hoping for that one book that gets my daughter reading on her own, because she wants to.

Snowy by Morwen Summers

I think Tin Tin might be that book.  I purchased one last week, and she dove in just as soon as I handed it to her.  She’s also done about 500 drawings of the various characters, especially Tin Tin’s dog, Snowy.  I enjoyed the book (it wasn’t Tin Tin in the Congo) and it was pleasantly devoid of angst, retcons, reboots and women in refrigerators.

A little bird told me that a new shipment of Tin Tin books is coming this week to the comic store.  I think you’ll find me in the kid’s section on Wednesday.

Hi Kiddies,

Today, I’m not gonna talk about comic books. Instead, I wanna tell you about a pretty good little movie called Real Steel. And I’m not even going to spoil it, just in case you haven’t seen it yet.

Now, it’s not the greatest movie that was ever made. Not even close. But, it’s well done, and although the story is basic, it still holds water. The movie is definitely science fiction and exists in a not too distant future where human boxing has been replaced by robot boxing. Hugh Jackman stars along with Evangeline Lilly (Kate from Lost, duh) and with relative newcomer, Canadian child actor, Dakota Goya (at age 12 it’s ONLY his third major motion picture to co-star in-slacker!) But seriously, the plot is all about the characters, and it maintains this near perfect balance of sci fi and down-to-earth. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of cool things to look at in this movie (besides Evangeline), with the movie more than a little reminding me of a game from my childhood, Rock’em Sock’em Robots (Look it up–It was loads of fun).

So, here’s the thing. The movie was good. The acting was good. The special effects were very cool. They blended in perfectly with the rest of the normal world of the movie. But really, the premise and the real heart of the humans were what made this movie. And who do you think came up with the premise and the real-world dilemmas the characters faced in this not-so-normal backdrop? Just this guy named Richard Matheson, that’s who. Matheson wrote a couple of stories here and there. A few of them were even adapted into movies.

Ever heard of A Stir of Echoes? The Incredible Shrinking Man? The Box? Somewhere in Time? The Legend of Hell House? I AM FRIGGIN LEGEND? (Made into not one, but three different movies through the years). Those were all his. And you know what else the guy wrote? Just one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek ever–The Enemy Within. The one with the evil Kirk! And fourteen episodes for The Twilight Zone series, including Steel (from which “Real Steel” was adapted), and…wait for it…the famous episode (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet) with the creepy monster on the wing of the plane driving a young and relatively unknown actor named William Shatner out of his mind with horror. Oh and, Matheson also wrote the introductory and closing statements spoken by Rod Serling.

This guy friggin rocks. And for that reason alone, if for no other, you should go see Real Steel, or at the very least, watch it when it comes out on DVD and BluRay, etc. They don’t make too many science fiction stories like this anymore, just like they don’t make too many science fiction writers like Richard Matheson anymore either.

M

http://youtu.be/3wO9IqyJkBw

This post is little more than an excuse to pimp one of my favorite book series turned film. The Hunger Games (which will star Jennifer Lawrence, who played Mystique is X-Men: First Class earlier this summer) is a series by Susanne Collins featuring teens in a dystopian future where a televised death match pits kids against each other in a battle where only one can survive. It’s a thoroughly enthralling three part series that filled the emptiness that was left in me when the Harry Potter series ended. I’ve been raving about The Hunger Games for forever, and I’m stoked to see it being turned into a movie. If you’re the type that likes to say “The book was better” and you haven’t checked it out yet, then you’d better hop to it. The film is slated for release March 23, 2012.

Superhero Confessions

"Confessions of a Superhero" Documentary

I came across this documentary on Netflix the other day, entitled “Confessions of a Superhero.” My first thought was that this was a movie about real people fighting real crime, dressed up as superheroes–kinda like a real-like “Kick-Ass.” “Oh, cool!” I thought as hit “play” and prepared to be entertained. Instead, I was mostly depressed…at first.

The doc centers around four people who are all nearly (but-not-quite) homeless in Hollywood. They each wear superhero outfits by day (and one suspects by night as well in some cases) and pose with tourists for tips, making between $200-$300 dollars a day, and close to $600 a day when the “energy” is good. Regardless, they still look like homeless people, except Wonder Woman who looks just plain hot. So, here’s the cast, and I promise you that I am not exaggerating in the slightest on any counts.

Superman is an ex-druggy, super skinny Christopher Reeve look-alike whose mom (Sandy Dennis) used to be an actress of some fame. He is dedicated to the principals of Superman and is, of course, dating a psychology PhD student who looks like a funhouse version of Crystal Gayle. They make a cute, if not weird couple and seem to be made for each other. Best Superman scene? Supes takes a walk with the new Ghost Rider and gives him a serious talk about how he can’t smoke while in character, because “superheroes don’t smoke.” “Except Ghost Rider. He’s made of fire,” says the new Ghost Rider. “He still doesn’t smoke cigarettes,” says Superman. “It’s just not…proper.”

The Hulk is a super-likable, lanky black guy from North Carolina who sold his Super Nintendo to buy a one-way bus ticket to Hollywood, where he arrived on day two of the Rodney King riots. While trying to get a real gig, he makes his money posing with tourists in a tattered, full-body, styrofoam rubber outfit, the pieces of which don’t really match up all that well. Best Hulk Scene? Supes comes up to the Hulk and says hello. Hulk says “Ah man. I just blacked out.” “You blacked out? Oooh, that’s not good,” say Superman and Wonder Woman, before turning around to catch the attention of a group of tourists before they pass them by.

Now Wonder Woman…well, she’s no Linda Carter, but she is pretty saucy. “Busty” as her agent calls her. She’s from a little town in Tennessee, and even though she’s married and definitely seems to be working for tips like the rest of them, she comes across more like a call girl than a superhero impersonator at times. Maybe that’s because she refers to the tourists as “tricks” once by accident. Best Wonder Woman scene of the movie? The noble Superman invites her up to his apartment to cool off by getting under his cold shower in full costume. Nothing special about this scene really, except that she looks really good all wet and shiny…

And then there’s Batman. This guy makes the actual Batman look as stable as the Joker. He’s a George Clooney look-alike, sorta, but is 100% totally unhinged mentally. Most of his parts of the movie (rightfully) center on his anger management problems and his alleged dark past. Best Batman scene? The Dark Knight gets aggressive with the tourists (repeatedly) when they don’t take the (strong) hint to give him a tip. Wonder Woman comments about his insane temper and says that “He will choke a woman if she doesn’t tip him. Well, probably not that far, but he would definitely choke her husband!” Needless to say, Batman is arrested during the making of the movie for aggressive begging.

So, if you want to be amused, entertained, or just have a good laugh, do NOT see this documentary. However, if you want to ogle at the strangeness of humanity and marvel at the odd nobility of at least one actor who tries to live up to the ideal of Superman, then give this film a try. Oh, and one last thing. The best quote of the movie was actually from Stan Lee, himself. When asked about wearing a costume if he were really a superhero, Stan laughed and said that he’d want people to know it was him and that he “wouldn’t want to look like some idiot in some costume if [he] had super powers.” Thank you, Stan. Words to live by.