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Tag: marvel

Happy Friday – May 25th 2018

Hey folks,

I thought I ‘d try a weekly update post.

First up – GDPR – This site is now GDPR compliant. That’s what that banner is about at the bottom. Here’s the privacy page for those of you who want to protect yourself from victimization at the hands of my cookies.

Alvin Baylor Lives!

Alvin Baylor Lives! Cover sketch
Alvin Baylor Lives! Cover sketch by Roger Betka.

I got my edited manuscript back. It’s time to review changes and notes. I’ve got one scene to polish up and add to the book and it has occurred to me that my page count has already changed significantly. This will lead to a change in the spine width of the paperback. The final artwork is not done yet so I’m hoping this is an easy adjustment. I had already anticipated differing specs from multiple POD vendors, but did not expect formatting to add 30 pages! Live and learn. The final cover sketch before painting is posted above.

Kill Night

I’ve got a rough outline for my next novel about urban terror. The first act has been plotted in detail. I hope to finish the rest up and get to typing next week. I will be juggling the start of this project with the completion of ABL. This book will not be sci-fi. It’s sort of Death Wish meets Street Trash. I intend it to be stunningly low brow, yet intelligent. We’ll see how that plan works out.

Black Panther review


I watched this again last night. I wrote a review that I never shared because it felt like shouting in a crowded room. Anyway, two thumbs up from me. Everything I liked the first time, I liked better the second and everything I disliked stopped bothering me. I have one critique – the fight scenes look like spaghetti. When you have a hero who fights with his fists – you use a stuntman for the action, not cgi. Where Avengers: Infinty War fails, this film shines and vice-versa. This was the brains of Marvel’s Phase 3 and I think it will become a classic. If you have super-hero™ fatigue this is the anti-dote.

Cobra Kai review

William Zabka in Cobra Kai

I was pretty impressed by the first two episodes of YouTube’s Karate Kid relaunch. It’s got great characters despite a low budget production value. It seems Johnny Lawrence is the protagonist this time out. I can’t wait for YouTube:Red to fail so I can watch all the episodes. Just like with CBS’ Star Trek: Discovery – I’m not subbing to any damn app.

Steve Ditko

Mr. A by Steve Ditko

I continue to track down new and old Ditko comic books. I’m fascinated by Mr. A, his objectivist philosophy hero. Stunningly original work. I haven’t seen anyone be this brave with their beliefs since 1960’s underground comix.

That’s all I got for now. May you all have a lovely memorial day free from the strictures of employment or mourning.







‘Thor Ragnarok’ is Good Stupid Fun

thor_ragnarok_posterI got a MoviePass so I finally took in a showing of Thor: Ragnarok. I dug it. It was a far better ride than the last two Marvel Studios outings  (Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange). I thought it was fun with a retro visual style reminiscent of recent low budget genre mashups like Turbo Kid or Kung Fury. Of course, the big budget here allows every frame to be stuffed to the gills with world building visuals. I’m not sure it’s possible for a film to feel more like a comic book. The action is crisp and fun and the film never bores, but I’ve got an unusual critique to make. It’s too funny.

The Humor is Relentless.

Each one of Ragnarok’s cast of characters is both the butt of jokes and a teller of jokes. I can laugh at Thor’s love of beer over tea, but don’t expect me to buy in when he speaks in snarky millennial phraseology. There is a lot of self-consciously clever dialogue that disappointed me. Thor, Hulk, Banner, Valkyrie – all of them are at times played for humor at the expense of character. I would have preferred something with more restraint. There are pratfalls that are out of left field including one where Bruce Banner jumps from a plane. That moment was a low point for this Hulk fan. The humor has another effect – Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki is greatly diminished as he is no longer the one injecting levity. That’s my main gripe with the film. Some moments were so silly they betrayed the characters.

It’s Brazenly Kitschy and Absurd.

Overall, this was a good outing for Marvel. It’s got the same kind of bite sized enjoyment that an issue of the comic might have and it removes the ponderousness of the previous Thor outings. There are big knock-around battles that have the kind of silly gusto you want out of tales of the super-strong. Ragnarok also marries sci-fi with the fantasy stylings of the prior films. This kind of genre bending works for an informed geek, but it can be hit or miss for a general audience. It’s a strength here. This is a sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, gladiator, super-hero comedy that works.

Marvel’s Source Material is Nearly Endless.

Ragnarok manages to adapt several comic titles. The film incorporates Hela (Cate Blanchett) and Skurge (Karl Urban) from the Thor books. Neither character gets much time for development, but both have the acting chops to make their scenes work. There are elements borrowed from the late 90’s “Ragnarok” storyline (Thor #80-85) that feature prominently near the end. However, the middle act of the film is not from Thor at all, but a storyline called “Planet Hulk”. The gladiator backdrop as well as Hulk and a few of the secondary characters are culled from this run. It was previously adapted as a mediocre animated film. Finally, the name of the gladiatorial competition is taken from a limited series called Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions. The only other element borrowed from that series is a single character – Grandmaster – played with electric enthusiasm by Jeff Goldblum.

I’m Excited for More.

Thor ends this entry in a place he has never really been in the comics. The changes to his stats quo have been toyed with in print, but never put forth as a permanent arc. These new elements move the character forward in a way that’s needed to sustain interest. While I think the movie veered off road when Thor was delivering punchlines, the ending was great for him. This third outing is certainly a fresh take on the character. I recommend it heartily to Marvel fans and anyone who enjoys Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Thor: Ragnarok is a fun cornball movie that your inner five year old will love.

Year – 2017  | TRT – 2:10 | Directed by  – Taika Waititi  | Written by – Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Stan Lee (based on the comics by), Larry Lieber (based on the comics by), Jack Kirby (based on the comics by)  | Cast – Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba

[adinserter name=”ragnarok”]

8 Hours of Pain – ‘The Defenders’ Review

My binge is OVER!!!

The Defenders is as terrible as this piece of “artwork”.

It’s a talking head show with repetitive scenes and no pacing. They should have cut the episode count in half and used the money to add FX. Luke Cage lifts styrofoam blocks and bends rubber pipes like it’s 1954. Characters with severed parts only have digital limb removal in every third scene. Dolby Vision HDR is used solely to light bottles and to expose Mike Colter while he’s on screen with other actors. The writing is dreadful, the plot is obvious and stupid. The villains are lame. The characters are in a constant state of disbelief despite the fact that this show takes place in a world with Iron Man, The Hulk and Captain America. And there is one super-hero costume.

I thought really hard about something nice to say. So here it is – Elodie Yung, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick and Deborah Ann Woll all have really beautiful hair. Sorry Krysten Ritter.

While you were drinking: Marvel’s Iron Fist, Episodes 1-4

Iron-Fist-PosterWhile you were enjoying St. Patrick’s Day, I was binging MARVEL’S IRON FIST on Netflix. I have four episodes down, so that’s my perspective. It’s based on a 1970’s Marvel comics character who is a mix of Tarzan and Bruce Lee with a dash of Lost Horizon. He can be fun in the comics or he can be a boring martial arts guy. So far the show achieves neither of those. It’s a glacially paced origin story with mild action. It’s either building to something awesome or I’m watching paint dry. Sometimes it’s pretty paint though.

It’s the first Marvel show to debut in DOLBY VISION HDR and it looks phenomenal. There’s a night time street fair in the 1st episode that shows off the expanded color gamut and high contrast. It’s the best looking scene in any Marvel show yet. However, I can’t binge HDR without burning out my eyeballs. The screen pumps out too much light to sit and watch for more than a couple hours. Netflix should take note of this as they offer more HDR programming.

The characters are well written and the cast is solid. I like Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist and everyone is believable, but there’s certainly no Vincent D’Onofrio or Mahershala Ali in this group. Also, the tension is so subtle and the story so drawn out that I expect a lot of viewers will tune out. This is a show based on a comic book, but much like Luke Cage, it feels like it wants to forget it’s roots due to budget constraints.

The action is sparse and the choreography is uneven in quality. It’s not on par with the work in Daredevil and that’s shocking for a martial arts based show. It’s partly the choice to keep the fights in accord with the show’s meditative theme. Iron Fist fights with a Tai chi meets Akido vibe most of the time. When he lets loose with a strong style I can glimpse more potential, but the lack of believability is a sin. The fights are cut slowly and the actors look choreographed. That is not acceptable for a show about a kung-fu super-hero. This show needs to evolve into something more imaginative than a character study with fight interludes. It needs more fantasy elements and it needs to open a can of whoop-ass.

***I have completed the show and an expanded review is not necessary. It has no fantasy elements and poor martial arts scenes. The writing is good enough to elevate it above Luke Cage, but Iron Fist will require better action scenes if they want the character to work on screen.

© 2024 by Maximilian Gray