My Top Comics of the Week 2/27/13

I've been wanting to do write more reviews on this site for awhile, but between more writing, music, and work- I just don't have enough time. So instead I'm going to try and list my top 5 favorite comics of each week with a small snippet about why I like each one.

My Top Five Comics of the Week:

Number Five- Batman Inc. issue 8

I'll start off by saying that I didn't originally want to put this one on the list because I hate what happened to Damian. There were other good comics like FF 4 and Skullkickers 19 (aka Uncanny Skullkickers 1), which I probably enjoyed more. However, I have to be honest- this was well made comic with some very powerful moments. I don't want to parrot and his review too much, but basically I agree with him. This is a good comic, but I do not like the direction of the story. After the brutal events that occurred with Joker in the "Death of the Family" event and the recent death of Peter Parker, this tragic event just felt a too soon for me. I haven't had a chance to process those other stories yet. I also feel it's too soon for the characters. The relationship that Damian has with Dick Grayson in this issue just showcases why he's such a great character. It seems like the writers of the Bat-titles also have a lot of fun writing Damian with all his little, *tt* nuances. I wished that he hadn't died, and especially wish that DC hadn't ruined the moment by revealing the death before we had a chance to read it, but it was worthy of at least 4 to 4.5 stars in my opinion.

The scenes where Damian is showcased are amazing. You really do get the feeling that the bat family isn't as good without him. This kid has some serious skills. His fight scene with his adult clone, the brutal Heretic, is just heart wrenching, but the kid absolutely went out like a champ. There is no question that he would have been top bat had he lived to adult hood. Sure, he could come back, but it's going to be awhile, and it might be in a totally different manner than we're expecting.

I'm now wondering how they'll continue the Batman and Robin title. The way I'm feeling now is that they should just cancel it and make way for a Red Robin title. A "Robin's" title might be even better, but I doubt that would be feasible now that Dick is moving to Chicago. I also thought that it might be good for Tim Drake to become Batman's true Robin and reestablish his character that has his been much much maligned in the DC 52. I love Tim. He was my favorite DC character in comic before the New 52, but post-DC 52, he's not even my favorite Teen Titan, and I'm not a bit fan of any of the Titans right now. It would be good to see him back in the batcave and rise back to his top spot, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen (read Teen Titans 17 to find out why Tim is currently in no position to return to his role at Batman's side). The last thing I want to have happen is for them to try to force another new Robin to aid Batman. I don't care one bit for Harper Row and do not want to see her come any where near the "Robin" title. But I digress...

Final Thought on Batman Inc.: this is an issue you can't help but read. It's just too big of an event to avoid and it's done too well to completely ignore or disregard. Some folks will probably not like the art of Chris Burnham, but personally I do like it. I find it to be very expressive and unique (even if he does draw kids with heads as wide as the "Rugrats" cartoon).

Number Four- Avenging Spider-man issue 17

I haven't been the biggest fan of this series so far. I've found most of the jokes by Chris Yost to be a bit corny and dated, but this issue was a pleasant surprise for me. I don't know if it was the mixture of the new "Doctor Otco-Spider-Man" with the kids of the FF that made for a winning formula or what, but this was a very entertaining comic. Not just in a goofy way either. We got some real character development from both Superior Spider-man and the young villainous Bently of the FF. Add in the time cops and Death's head to the mix as well as a frightening forecast of what's ahead for the Superior Spider-man, and you've got a very solid comic.

With some of the past issues (even those dealing with Spidey and the FF), I would have said that this comic is very skip-able, but I'm hear to report to all Spidey fans that not only is this issue not skip-able, it might be an essential piece to the Superior Spider-man story line. The reveal at the end of this book was HUGE! I don't want to spoil it, but you really should read this one if you're keeping up with Spidey. I'd give this issue 4.5 stars for sure, and possibly even a 5 later on- depending on the impact on the big reveal at the end.

Number Three- Hawkeye issue 8

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja has been consistently one of the best comics over this last year. The way they're able to draw us in to Clint's life apart from his larger Avengers adventures is astounding. In fact, these stories about "Hawkguy's" home life are probably more entertaining than anything I've read in an Avengers title in a long while. Clint isn't the greatest guy. He's got a lot of flaws from being relationship challenged, to being stubborn, and prideful, and reckless, and irresponsible and well... on and on... However, he isn't written as just another "lovable rouge." Fraction and Aja give his character so many fine tuned details that this story never falls into the category of overt melodramatics or stale arch-types. There's just something about it all that feels fresh and exciting for me as a reader.

Okay, so how good is this issue? I'd probably say between a 4 and a 4.5. We see the return of Clint's latest fling Penny (*knock,knock), who is once again bringing more havoc into his life. So once again we see Clint to the rescue against some track suit bros on his quest to attain the world's record for the most amount of cuts, bruises and bandages that one guy can get in a life time. Unfortunately, Clint doesn't need the extra danger- we get a peek in this issue at the Kingpin's plot to help the new oxygen mask bro put an end to Hawkeye.

The only thing that made this issue feel a little weird to me was that it totally missed Valentine's day. The was a V-day-centric issue that would have been better off being release a couple weeks ago. Other than that- another great one from one of the best comics out there.

Number Two- Punisher War Zone issue 5 (of 5)

This is it. The big conclusion to the mini-series of the Punisher verses the Avengers. This could have easily been disappointing, but I have to give major credit to Greg Rucka and co for delivering a very satisfying conclusion to this story-line. The battle between Iron Man and the Punisher is easily one of the coolest battle sequences this year. If it doesn't get mentioned as one of the coolest battles of the week I'll be very surprised.

I don't want to give much about this comic away, because there are a couple cool surprises, but suffice it to say that this is one conclusion that lives up to expectations in a mini-series that has been solid from the beginning. There is one ending sequence that I'll mention (without spoiling I hope) between Punisher and Captain America that is extremely simple, but carries a big emotional wallop!

This should be must buy on most comic fans' pull list. I highly recommend it.

Number One- Aquaman issue 17

Geoff Johns is just knocking this comic out of the park. It has been fantastic. As good as his take on the Green Lantern was, I'm not sure that his recent run on Aquaman isn't even better. It's crazy to think that two of my favorite comic titles (Hawkeye & Aquaman) this year are characters that in previous I didn't care about. People haven't been keeping up with all the new comics seriously laugh at me when I tell them how good this title is, but it's absolutely true. If you're not reading Aquaman, go back to issue one and read this series today!

Issue 17, the epilogue of Throne of Atlantis does something that few comic books do- it follows up on the impact of the previous events. I REALLY love that did this in this issue. Seeing how the war between Atlantis and Terrans off the coast of Boston caused dangerously powerful weapons to fall into the hands of the corrupt fishermen was amazing. Seriously, this idea is simple, but genius because this the kind of thing you could actually imagine happening in real life and that creates a strong resonance for me to this story. I also liked the reaction of Aquaman's critics like activist Dane Durrance (who looks a lot like a young Scott Bakula in this issue to me) and government power broker Amanda Waller.

I don't think there are many conflicts in comics that can top Aquaman's. He torn at every corner. Between his loyalties to his kingdom, his home, the JL, his wife and his family- there really is no winning choice for Aquaman to choose that won't hurt someone. John's does an amazing job lining up the perfect character to capture each conflicting side- such as this war general who is itching to kill the snide activist Durrance. To top it off, Aquaman genuinely does care about the people of Atlantis and his imprisoned brother Orm. I get the feeling that if Orm is sentenced to execution that Aquaman will rescue him, which will probably have him taking on the JL again, but we will see. I can't wait to find out!

Lastly, the art alone on this issue is deserving of 5 stars! Paul Pelletier's two page underwater ocean splash of Aquaman is superlatively breathtaking. It's not just comic book good, it's artistically amazing. It's so amazing that I want to get a print of this, frame it and put on my wall.

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Casting of Good Actors who were Bad Movie Villains, part 1.

Sometimes getting the right guy to play the bad guy, still goes wrong...

I'm looking back on some of my favorite super villain roles in movies and wondering who might have been better, and I'm proposing that the answer might be... no one.

Case One: Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin

If I were to erase the first Raimi Spider-man movie from my memory and cast the ideal actor for Green Goblin- that actor would be Willem Dafoe. The guy has an amazing resume for the role. Did you all see him Shadow of the Vampire? I mean just paint him green and you're done. That's the perfect Goblin.

He was amazingly creepy in this role in this movie, and while it will never be as influential as the classic Nosferatu that it's based on, it might have been even more frightening. Dafoe is the supreme master of the villainous glare. I challenge you to find anyone better at that. Also, who else can pull off that nefarious voice with the credibility that Dafoe is able to pull off? I really can't think of anyone else I'd want in that role. So why did Dafoe become the cheesy, "Power Rangers" looking villain that we saw in Raimi's Spider-man?

I know it's a nitpick thing, but really... it's the costume failure that causes all the problems in Dafoe's take on the Green Goblin. It's a wardrobe malfunction that's less forgivable than Janet Jackson's tasteless Super Bowl stunt. I really loved everything else. Seriously, anytime anyone says "two weeks" around me, I launch into a Willem Dafoe impression for no reason at all. That's how much I enjoyed Dafoe as Norman Osborn. It's a performance that is burned onto the random turntable that is my mind. However, the costume is just too iconic to ignore or pass off as an insignificant mistake. When you get a costume wrong in some movies it's no big deal, but in a comic book movie it's a huge mistake. I don't know if Raimi was just over-thinking this design (since a previous costume design that was leaked out was clearly better than what we saw in the movie), or if it was something else, but it was a huge mistake and it does hamper the quality of what was otherwise a pretty great movie.

Case Two: Danny Devito as Penguin

As much as I loved Burgess Meredith as the Penguin in the 60's Batman show, to me Danny Devito has always been the guy who should play the Penguin. The very first time I watched the sitcom "Taxi," the first thought I had about Devito's character was- 'That's the Penguin.' When you say certain actors were 'born for the role' of this or that character, there's no actor and character combination that applies more to than Danny Devito and the Penguin. The fit between the two is so certain that you don't even need much of a costume. The guy already looks like the Penguin in real life, so how do you mess that up?

Enter the Burton! You mess up what should have been a perfect casting of Devito as the Penguin by devolving the villain into a Gothic, monstrous, mutant mess. What is up with Burton's love of overusing white face paint that gets caked-on to so many of his characters' faces? Is this a a zombie Penguin? He has the dead pale face and dark circled eyes that make even Herman Munster look practical in comparison. Then add the fact that this version of the Penguin seems to have no aversion to tasting raw human flesh, and I'm telling you... he's more of an Elvira marathon monster than he is an aristocratic mobster. It's just not fair that the absolute perfect person to play the Penguin wasn't allowed to play anything remotely resembling the character we know and love (well, doesn't love him, but that's another story). It's sad. Thankfully, it doesn't ruin the entire movie for me. Keaton, Pfeiffer, and Walken were all great as Batman, Catwoman, and well that creepy guy who Walken played (don't remember his character's name), and Batman Returns is still one of my favorite Batman movies.

Case Three: Thomas Haden Church as Sandman

I'll admit that when I first saw Thomas Haden Church on the TV show, "Wings," I thought this guy was a weak imitation of Bill Fagerbakke's character "Dauber" from the show "Coach." I'll also admit I was wrong. While Bill Fagerbakke is a fine actor (M-O-O-N spells a memorable role on the "Stand" TV mini-series and a career as the voice of Patrick the Starfish on Spongebob Square Pants), it's Thomas Haden Church who went on to be the more successful actor. He had some nice creepy roles in both Tombstone and Demon Knight that showcased that he could show his darker side. Then he also showed his straight ahead acting chops when he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the movie 'Sideways' (a movie with a woody flavor and a robust characterization that left me with an intriguing aftertaste). The guy had his share of comedically bad stinkers- i.e. George of the Jungle 1 and 2, but he definitely has the range to play a variety of characters. Add to the mix that THC is a fairly stout guy who could easily play a toughie if need be, and I see an actor who is the perfect fit to play Sandman with the full range of conflicting motivations and thuggish demeanor.

So what went wrong with Spider-man 3? Well everything obviously, but that would take too long to get into, and while I'll admit that Sandman was far from being the worst thing in that movie- he certainly wasn't impressive.

Unlike the previous two examples, I really thought that this Sandman looked great on the screen. I could totally buy into the concept of the way this character transformed into this powerful, monstrous villain. It looked and felt right to me. So what felt wrong? For starters, Sandman killing uncle Ben. Say, what!? So that huge scene from the first movie where Peter confronts the killer is now confusing and meaningless? Yup! Why, oh, why...did you pull that one on us Sam Raimi? I wish I could say that it was the worst thing about Spider-man 3, because it truly is terrible, but unfortunately it isn't. Anyway, from there we get kind of a whiny version of the Sandman, who is on the wrong side of the tracks, but deep down has a heart of gold. Seriously!? Uh-huh, this film is a stinker of superlative proportions. Lastly, the CGI of the action scenes where Spidey is fighting Sandy do look cool, but they fall flat by missing the one thing the comic books usually got right- Sandman staying a "man" even when going into full beast mode. In the comics, Sandman would create all kinds of weapons and alterations to his body that would help him fight Spidey, but we'd still see the guy behind them all smirking through the haze. In the movie we see more Sand-monster than Sand-man during the climatic fight sequences. The character was lost in all the cool effects, and when that happened- the impressive CGI action sequences seemed stale. I'm not sure what they could do to fix this last problem, but I'm certain they could have done many things to make a better Sandman than what we were given with Spider-man 3.

So that's it for now. Like always, I've ran out of time to write before I've depleted my ideas of what to write about, but that's life. At any rate, hopefully you've enjoyed this short list of where they got the right guy to play the right villain, but the movie makers somehow still managed to get it wrong.

Laters,

-Jawshco.

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Best Program for creating Comic scripts?

I've been writing for years, and have recently started developing a comic book script. When I was working on my BA in English with a creative writing emphasis I wrote a lot of quick SciFi and fantasy stories that I thought would make cool comic books or graphic novels.

However, when trying to switch a story from the narrative print-style to a panel based comic book style, I found the task very daunting. I know how I want the story to be structured within in the confines of a 24 page comic, and I'm able to write it out like a movie script, but I'm a little clueless on how to organize the individual panels on each page.

Not having any type of graphic art talent makes it kind of tough to decide how the panels should be laid out on each page. Are there any comic script programs that help with this? I have Celtx on my computer which is what I've used to write video scripts for the business where I work. It works great for that purpose and
it does have a comic book script option as well, but I don't see anything to help with panel formats.

Does anyone else use a program they like for scripting comics or have any tips on formatting panels without needing to physically draw out each page? Let me know! I welcome any and all comments.

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Which Batman villain am I?

Nice, I took the quiz and got the Joker. Probably accurate. I actually look a lot like him.\

<table style="width:500px;" class="natural-width with-border t-editor">

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<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/quiz/which-batman-rogue-are-you/7/"><img src="http://www.comicvine.comhttp://media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/2/75585-6865-batman_medium.jpg" style="margin-bottom:15px;"></a><br/>

Take the <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/quiz/which-batman-rogue-are-you/7/">Which Batman rogue are you?</a>

</center>

</td>

</tr>

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<td colspan=3><h2>Your Results:</h2></td>

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<td colspan=1>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/joker/29-1702/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/6/66037/1664474-pere_perez_medium.jpeg"></a>

</td>

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<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/joker/29-1702/">Joker</a> <strong>100%</strong><br/>

You're the Joker

</td>

</tr><tr>

<td><a href="http://www.comicvine.com/bane/29-6129/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/10/108157/2289718-bane_small.jpg"></a></td>

<td>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/bane/29-6129/">Bane</a><br/>

You're Bane

</td>

<td><strong>65%</strong></td>

</tr><tr>

<td><a href="http://www.comicvine.com/penguin/29-4885/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/6/64507/2048681-penguin_3_small.jpg"></a></td>

<td>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/penguin/29-4885/">Penguin</a><br/>

You're the Penguin... wa wa wa

</td>

<td><strong>63.3%</strong></td>

</tr><tr>

<td><a href="http://www.comicvine.com/calendar-man/29-19682/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/6/64507/1268927-julianday_small.jpg"></a></td>

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<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/calendar-man/29-19682/">Calendar Man</a><br/>

You're Calendar Man! You're highly under-rated!

</td>

<td><strong>45%</strong></td>

</tr></table>

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<td colspan=3>

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<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/quiz/which-batman-rogue-are-you/7/"><img src="http://www.comicvine.comhttp://media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/2/75585-6865-batman_medium.jpg" style="margin-bottom:15px;"></a><br/>

Take the <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/quiz/which-batman-rogue-are-you/7/">Which Batman rogue are you?</a>

</center>

</td>

</tr>

<tr>

<td colspan=3><h2>Your Results:</h2></td>

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<tr>

<td colspan=1>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/joker/29-1702/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/6/66037/1664474-pere_perez_medium.jpeg"></a>

</td>

<td colspan=2>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/joker/29-1702/">Joker</a> <strong>100%</strong><br/>

You're the Joker

</td>

</tr><tr>

<td><a href="http://www.comicvine.com/bane/29-6129/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/10/108157/2289718-bane_small.jpg"></a></td>

<td>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/bane/29-6129/">Bane</a><br/>

You're Bane

</td>

<td><strong>65%</strong></td>

</tr><tr>

<td><a href="http://www.comicvine.com/penguin/29-4885/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/6/64507/2048681-penguin_3_small.jpg"></a></td>

<td>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/penguin/29-4885/">Penguin</a><br/>

You're the Penguin... wa wa wa

</td>

<td><strong>63.3%</strong></td>

</tr><tr>

<td><a href="http://www.comicvine.com/calendar-man/29-19682/"><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/6/64507/1268927-julianday_small.jpg"></a></td>

<td>

<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/calendar-man/29-19682/">Calendar Man</a><br/>

You're Calendar Man! You're highly under-rated!

</td>

<td><strong>45%</strong></td>

</tr></table>

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My Current Favorite Comics April 2012

It's April 2012, and I thought I'd just do a short little blog about about the comics that I'm really enjoying right now.

1. Sweet Tooth- this is just a beautiful story! It's strange, scary, emotional, exciting, and yes even a bit sweet. It's basically you're Post-Apocalypse type story, but this one has half animal half humans instead of Zombies, and a very intriguing spiritual element that I'm loving. The story just keeps getting better and better. This is the one I look forward to the most every month.

2. Ultimate Spider-man- I loved this title when it first came out with Peter as Spidey. It was a nice fresh reboot of the character with a lot of great ideas and it was actually more interesting that most of the other Spider-titles our there. Somewhere along the way Ultimate Spider-man ran out of steam for me (probably sometime after the Kraven storyline), and I stopped picking up every issue. It just didn't call out to me the same way. Then they decided to replace Peter with a half-black/half-Mexican character that was allegedly gay as well. What!? What kind of pander PC crap is that right? Well, that was my first reaction. Now we're on issue 9 and I take it all back. Alex Alonso has won me over. Miles is not just a "PC stunt." He's a truly great character, and I hope people are giving him a chance. The whole concept of a young "Spider-man," is great even if it's not the Peter Parker know and love, and Miles proves that. His origin is completely unique from Peters, but has some great parallels as well. I love the fact that Miles' uncle is another do-gooder like unle Ben, but is rather a supervillain that caused Miles to be bitten by the Spider in the first place. Unlike Peter, Miles does have a strong mother and father who are all very interesting characters. Miles is bright like Peter, but he isn't the Science wiz-kid that's going to make futuristic gadgets with the random junk his bed. When he wasn't wearing a cheesy halloween costume for his Spidey gear (just like any other kid), he's wearing he bad ass costume that Nick Fury gave him. No miraculously hand crafted duds this time around! And even his powers are unique. He has an invis power and a venom strike that was powerful enough to knock out Omega Red. Miles is funny like Peter, but in a less snarky way. Miles is just sort of genuinely humorous kid who still thinks like a kid, and I love that about him. I was rolling with laughter when Miles was talking about how stinky the inside of his mask was! Anyone who has ever worn a Spider-man Halloween costume for more than one night, knows this to be true! Anyway, miles gets better each week, and I really hope people are paying attention this awesome title. I'd love to see a film, TV show, or movie about his character (but Donald Glover... sorry... you're too old) make it so, Disney! This is my favorite Spider-title by far right now. Sidenote: How sad is it that Peter Parker might be my least favorite Spider-man of the moment? Kaine is off to a cool start in Scarlet Spider and Miles rocks as Ultimate Spidey. Meanwhile, Peter is hamstrung the over wrought mess of "Amazing Spiderman" (Okay, I'll admit that the Kraven family story and the Lizard's "Skin" story were pretty brilliant, but aside from those two gems this title has really sucked in my opinion- and it as sucked for years!) and don't get me started on the campy mess that is the overrated Avenging Spider-man. I love Peter Parker, but man the need to do something to improve the writing on his titles.

Well, those two are the only ones I have time for right now... I'll write more about my top ten fav's later.

Laters,

=Jawshco.

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