Monday, January 15, 2018

Cary's Comics Craze previews notable 2018 movies (Part 1)

This year’s movies feature a lot of familiar faces returning to the big screen — from Lara Croft to the Avengers and X-Men to even the Incredibles and the classic Disney characters Christopher Robin and Mary Poppins.

Read on for the first part of my thoughts and predictions on 14 notable films being released from mid-February through Christmas Day. More than a third of those flicks have ties to Marvel Comics characters and more than half are connected to Disney.

“Black Panther” (Feb. 18) — This is the 18th overall installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the first of three Marvel Studios releases this year.

The two “Black Panther” trailers pretty much have revealed the same footage (without telling us much), which promises eye-catching costumes, great cinematography and the movie staying true to the struggles that T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has faced as king of the fictional African country of Wakanda. Expect another intense performance from Boseman, but I fear Michael B. Jordan, who is a fine actor, may go too big as the baddie. My gut instinct says Captain America (Chris Evans) might have a cameo. "Black Panther" will have moderate box-office success.

“Tomb Raider” (March 16) — The Lara Croft franchise is getting rebooted, always a risky proposition.

Monday, November 27, 2017

‘Avengers vs. X-Men’ is a must-read for all Marvel lovers

July 10, 2013 via The POP! Shop website and my related, defunct "The Cape and Cowl Crowd" blog — Save your pennies if you haven’t already read the entirety of the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN series because the recent hardback collection is worth every bit of the $75 price tag.

The pages are slightly larger than a comic book, which makes the already jaw-dropping splash pages and two-page spreads pop off the page even more.

The collection includes the meatier 12-issue AVENGERS VS. X-MEN plus the six-issue AvX limited series. Each of the first five issues of AvX features two one-on-one fights, which are mentioned or briefly shown in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, but these versions include more details and who “won.” The last issue includes several throwdowns — all of which are one or two pages long, with the exception of the introductory Scarlet Witch vs. Hope Summers bout. (Below is more on AvX.)

Besides the usual collection of variant covers (which in this case, are admittedly quite sweet looking), there’s the completely unnecessary INFINITE COMICS Nos. 1, 6 and 10. After that, there’s a rundown of each battle, which includes what team was victorious after a major battle.

Friday, November 24, 2017

‘I dig it’: ‘Justice League’ review

Wow. DC Entertainment has created a successful and balanced film featuring its superheroes. “Justice League” is the most fun movie DC has created in decades.

Something tells me that with the creative and feel-good “Justice League,” DC and Warner Bros. could be on a roll.

“Suicide Squad” showed the possibility that DC knew how to have fun with its characters and gave me a hint that there’s more to Ben Affleck’s Batman than brutality. “Wonder Woman” delivered the first DC film with heart.

DC and Warner Bros. prove they can do all that with “Justice League.” It’s not just a good time; director Zack Snyder — with an assist from Joss Whedon — delivers a strong, satisfying conclusion — something he failed to do with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

You don’t necessarily need to have seen “BvS” or even “Wonder Woman” before watching “Justice League.” There are a few lines of dialogue that refer back to those movies, but audience members won’t be lost having not seen them.

“BvS” remains an uncomfortable and long film to watch (“Ultimate Edition” or not), but there is quite a bit of payoff in “Justice League” — and I’m not just referring to Superman’s return. (Yeah, mild spoiler alert: The Man of Steel is back. More on him later.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘Batman and the Outsiders’ is solid, underappreciated, fun series

When the first issue of BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS came out in 1983, I bought it on the newsstand, but I hardly read the rest of the series. Mostly because I wasn’t collecting comics much after that.

Besides, why would I want to read an ensemble series featuring two C-list heroes and three new ones — especially after Batman just left the DC Comics’ premiere superhero team, the Justice League of America?

But honestly I was always curious about BATO, created by writer Mike W. Barr and one of the greatest Batman artists in history, the late Jim Aparo.

Aparo was a master of comic book covers and his BATO ones are no exception. Every single cover draws you in. That is the case with every single Aparo cover, no matter the title, and BATO continued to catch my eye through every time I saw back issues on sale.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Overused humor overwhelms underwhelming, enjoyable 'Thor: Ragnarok'

As I watched "Logan" this weekend with the director's commentary, James Mangold's comment that the first twenty minutes of a film says a lot about its direction stuck with me.

And so it is with "Thor: Ragnarok." It's obvious the plan is to introduce humor to the God of Thunder's third film. The director and writing team go for "Guardians of the Galaxy"-style humor -- but less juvenile. The "Guardians" vibe was refreshing in the first time around since it hadn't been done before in Marvel films, overdone and ridiculous in "Vol. 2" and used as an odd inspiration for most of "Ragnarok."

But there is no let-up; the jokes are constant. The problem is is not many are laugh-out-loud funny. Several people guffawed throughout the well-attended screening at Norwalk Premiere Theatre 8, while I only managed a few short chuckles.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

‘Spenser: For Hire’ misses Susan in Season 2

A new lady in your life and a new set of wheels often sound like a recipe for success for nearly every guy’s guy. But that’s simply not the case for Season 2 of “Spenser: For Hire.”

Spenser’s long-time girlfriend in the late Robert B. Parker’s novels, Susan Silverman, is nowhere to be seen in the 22 episodes.

There’s no mention of her in the first show and it’s not until Episode 2 that Spenser (the late Robert Urich) provides an explanation — a lame one — that Susan (actress Barbara Stock) said he left him “gently and regretfully, firmly closing the door on our life together.” That doesn’t sound like she’ll be back for Season 3.

Instead of Susan there’s assistant D.A. Rita Fiori. Actress Carolyn McCormick is delightful, but she’s no significant replacement for Stock's Susan.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Great cosplays from Akron Comicon

AKRON, Ohio -- Another comic book convention, another day of great cosplays. Here are my favorite costumes from the 2017 Akron Comicon, which I attended Saturday while selling Silver Age and Bronze Age comics with Jamie "Phat Daddy" Stewart at his Phat Daddy's Comics booth.
The Arrowverse gang -- with Vibe! I really dig the Black Canary and Flash cosplayers' poses.
CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE
Beetlejuice and Doctor Strange (Check out all the accessories hanging off Strange's belt!)
CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE
Seeing a Shazam cosplayer is a rarity. These guys are from Rubber City Cosplay, whose members
were taking free photos at a booth. I also saw a Black Adam and a dark Mary Marvel.
CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE
This Judge Dredd says he often is accompanied by "a family of Judges." Parenting done right!
CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE