Monday, May 28, 2012

In Honor and Remembrance

Monday, May 21, 2012


The Gorn are a race of giant lizard-humanoids who only appeared in one episode of STAR TREK, “The Arena.” Gorn have rarely appeared in the Star Trek universe since then, yet they continue to be popular.

THE GORN CRISIS brings together two popular elements of the Star Trek universe, the crew from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and the Gorn. The book is set during the time of the Dominion War that took place during STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE. Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E are on their way to the Gorn home world in attempt to recruit the Gorn in the war against the Dominion. However, Picard arrives at the worst possible time as the Gorn are in the midst of a Civil War that is being won by the Black Crest, a warrior caste of Gorn who believe that Kirk’s defeat of their leader at Cestus III began the decline of Gorn culture and civilization. Meanwhile, Riker is with Klingon Commander Qyrll escorting engineers to bring the new satellite defenses on the outpost at Elkaruon II online. Riker and the Klingons come under attack by a group of Black Crest Gorn. With Picard and Riker gone, the Enterprise is left under the guidance of Data.

At times THE GORN CRISIS is predictable, but it’s no more predictable than the typical Star Trek story. There’s lots of action and violence. There’s an epic space battle. Also there’s lots of blood: some creatures get beheaded and others are dismembered. After all, this is a battle that includes Klingons and Gorn.

Personally, the only thing I didn’t like about the story were the illustrations. The drawings are not very crisp and there is far too much red and orange through much of the book. The poor drawings and color motif make it difficult to follow exactly what is happening. I had to go back and re-read some pages several of times.

As far as comics go in general, THE GORN CRISIS isn’t great. It’s not even a good example of a Star Trek comic. However, for fans of Star Trek, particularly ST:TNG and those who are fond of the Gorn, this is a story definitely worth reading.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The History of Confusion

--Jonny Hawkins, 2011 Teacher Cartoon-a-Day Calendar

Media Consumed: January 2012

Books Read
*The Carl Banks Big Book of Barney Bear   by  Ed. Craig Yoe
Goosebumps: Monster Blood II   by  R.L. Stine
Mack Dunstan's Inferno   by  Paul Collins
*Masters of the Nonsenseverse   by Darby Conley
The Memoir Project   by  Marion Roach Smith
The Muppets: The Movie Junior Novel   by  Katharine Turner
Goosebumps: Monster Blood III   by  R.L. Stine
*Spy Vs. Spy: The Top Secret Files   by  Peter Kuper
*King Lear Graphic Novel   by  Gareth Hinds
*Around the World   by  Matt Phelan
Catch Me If You Know Me   by  Travis Morgan
Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet   by  Kirk Scroggs

* = denotes graphic novel, TPB, or collection of comic strips

There are only a few titles from January that I read which are worth mentioning. Carl Banks gained fame later in his life for being the man who "made" (not created) Donald Duck. Like many artists, Banks didn't just work for Disney and The Carl Banks Big Book of Barney Bear features many of the comics Banks drew for a rival comic company.

I like the Goosebumps series. However, the Monster Blood sequels aren't anywhere near as good as the first Monster Blood.

I really enjoyed Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet. It's about a boy who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a Muppet. It's written in the style of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, but is far zanier.

Movies Watched
Lord of the Rings
The Hunt for Gollum
Ride 'Em Cowboy
The Iron Lady
Everything Must Go
War Horse (twice)
Conan the Barbarian
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Tree of Life

I really enjoyed War Horse.

The Hunt for Gollum is an exceptionally made short fan-pic film. With no budget, the filmmakers made a short film that looks like something Peter Jackson did.

Ride 'Em Cowboy is an Abbot & Costello movie and I enjoy all of their movies.

Meryl Streep won an Oscar for The Iron Lady and rightfully so. I've seen the movies of all the Best Actress nominees and Streep's performance is the best hands down.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was panned by many critics, but personally I found it to be one of the most moving movies of the year. It didn't make my Top 10, but it's an honorably mentioned.

The style of Conan the Barbarian was perfect. Too bad there wasn't any substance. The Arnold Schwarzenegger version is actually a better overall movie.

And as for The Tree of Life? It's probably the most gorgeous and cinematically breathtaking film of 2011. However, being a Terrence Malick picture, it doesn't have much of a story to go along with it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Before reading ANIMAL MAN, VOL. 1: THE HUNT, I had never read the series before. However, I was familiar with the character and Grant Morrison’s run of the series. For instance, I know that Animal Man is, perhaps the most meta-comic published by a mainstream comics publisher (even more so than Marvel’s Deadpool; Deadpool breaks the 4th wall a lot, but at one point in his life Animal Man knew his life was just a comic book). I also knew that Animal Man (aka Buddy Baker) isn’t the usual crime fighter. He tends to fight social issues as well as injustices against animals, not just people. He’s also happily married and has kids. Also, unlike many other superheroes, his real identity isn’t a secret. Knowing what I knew about the character, I was looking forward to reading ANIMAL MAN, VOL. 1: THE HUNT.

This collection begins with an article that looks like it was taken directly out of The Believer magazine about Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man. It turns out that Buddy is reading about himself in the magazine. I’ve read The Believer and the article looks exactly like the interviews that appear in it. Buddy is starring in an upcoming movie and is doing a lot of publicity to promote it. He hasn’t done in crime fighting in a while and decides to do so that night. He saves the life of a child that’s used as a hostage in a hospital. Afterwards, he notices that his eyes are bleeding. Later, strange red markings/tattoos begin appearing on his body. Not only that, but his daughter, Maxine, is exhibiting superpowers of her own. Something is Rotten in the state of Denmark and Buddy and Maxine are in the middle of it. The two of them are being hunted by three grotesque creatures known as the Hunters Three. They seek to devour, absorb, and turn Buddy and Maxine to their own bidding.

The artwork for the story is fantastic. However, much of it is rather grotesque and gory. Until recently, ANIMAL MAN was mostly a Vertigo comic, a DC brand devoted to more horror-type stories. Much of the artwork reminded me of the old EC Comics. There’s lots of blood, internal body parts, resurrected animals, and zombiefied creatures. Many readers won’t have a problem with any of this, but it might be for younger readers and those who have no knowledge of Animal Man.

Overall, the story is a good one. I like the idea of Maxine having supernatural abilities and having to be trained and tutored by her father. Despite being a superhero, Buddy Baker has first and foremost been a fairly average man that is devoted to his family.  It’s just that he doesn’t live a normal life (in many ways the character reminds me of THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO and what life for Ralph Hanley would have been like later on). The fact that he has to now train and tutor his daughter whose powers are far greater than his own adds an interesting twist to the dynamic. I also like the idea of Animal Man have to team up with the Swamp Thing to fight a villain.

With that said, I really don’t like the idea behind The Rot and all that it represents. The Rot seems too much like a villain from a bad science fiction-horror movie. It’s actually kind of hokey and with all the events that happened with the “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” storylines, the entire concept seems out of place. It’s as though there’s too much magic and not enough science.

Nevertheless, ANIMAL MAN, VOL. 1: THE HUNT is an engaging story and one that’s worth reading.

Monday, May 07, 2012

What I'm Reading Right Now (5/7/12)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Book Review, Graphic Novel: WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA

In WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, a young woman named Danielle Wellys is caught by Batman after she has killed another man. Apparently Batman has been following her for some time and this is not her first victim. She’s eludes being captured by Batman and makes her way to the home of Wonder Woman (Diana Princess of Themyscira) whom she begs supplication. Diana agrees, not knowing of the deeds that Danielle has committed in the name of justice, but that were actually done with vengeance. Not long after, Batman arrives on the scene and Diana finds herself in a quandary. She has given her word to Danielle and sworn an oath, an oath that cannot be broken. On the other hand, Batman wants to bring Danielle to justice he intends to capture her, even if it means fighting with Diana, one of his oldest friends.

That is the plot, but the heart of the story is an examination of how Wonder Woman thinks. In addition it is a crucible of tempering between various opposing forces: Diana’s traditional beliefs versus her obedience to modern laws; the value of a promise versus the value of a dear friendship; the past versus the present; etc.

The story is virtually a Greek tragedy told in graphic novel form. The Furies are the Chorus and they appear throughout the story and occasionally interacting with it. Wonder Woman is the protagonist who finds herself in a difficult dilemma, brought about by a choice that she has made. Like all Greek tragedies, the entire tone and atmosphere makes it clear that this isn’t a story that’s going to have a happy ending.

There are a couple of negatives with WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA. First, is that the Diana portrayed in this story doesn’t fit with the standard norms of her character. Some of the basic scenery is there, but the woman behind the stage seems quite different from the Wonder Woman of tradition and comics past.

The second negative is that this is a far darker story than many Wonder Woman stories. Several people die and there’s quite a bit of blood. This fits in with the overall device of this story being a Greek tragedy. However, it’s another element that’s atypical of Wonder Woman tales and is likely to turn some fans away.

When I first read WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, I didn’t like it. It was the Wonder Woman I was familiar with and it was far too violent for what I wanted to read. Recently, after having studied some Greek mythology and re-read some of the Greek tragedies, I re-read WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA and saw it in a completely different light. I actually enjoyed the story more the second time and had a far greater appreciation for it.

WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA is a good story. Wonder Woman fans will probably be evenly split between those who like it and those who hate it. Batman fans will be disappointed that his role is smaller than expected. Those who like comic books and Greek mythology, will probably enjoy the story. However, there are some who will be offended by the violence in the tale. It’s not the usual Wonder Woman fare, but it’s worth examining.