Comics: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3

11. James Robinson’s Starman – groovy. I like this too.

10. Walter Simonson’s Thor – we are deep into classics mode here. I’ve read about a 1/3 of this run. I want to read the frog Thor bits. Really, it is so good I want to see the presentation of Thor as a frog.

9. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher – I think this is my 3rd or 4th time saying I’m not a huge Ennis fan.

8. Grant Morrison’s Batman – this is the highest ranking Batman run? Bah. It ain’t all that. I have been reading it all though. I quite like it.

7. Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s Daredevil – yes. Awesome. This isn’t my favourite Miller DD work. That would be Born Again, but that wouldn’t qualify for this list. But it is a comics must read.

6. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man – well obviously.

5. Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan’s Y the Last Man – Likely the only Todd top ten to show up in the top ten. The best issue is the first issue, but that leaves a lot of room for praise over the rest of the series.

4. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four – Obviously.

3. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing – Anatomy Lesson is one of my all time favourite comics issues. I wouldn’t rank the whole run this highly though.

Two runs left. Will it be my predictions of Rom: Spacenight and Captain Canuck?

Weekly Recap: black holes and revelations

Hurricanes and earthquakes. It makes the slight snow fall that begins our winter seem puny. Well gah!

And the Disney bought Lucasfilm today. Big geek news.

Interesting. I spent part of the weekend reading the rules of the Star Wars:X-Wing miniatures game. (Easy rules, long rule set. Typical fantasy flight).

Did drink with the team on Thursday. That was nice. But they changed the tables at the Brewsters to stool height. So I feel very short sitting on my scooter. Must switch to MKT next time.

We played Android again on Friday. I quite like that game. But I’ve never played a full game. Grr.

In important news Dave got older on the weekend and Troy does the same tomorrow. Happy days to you!

That is the week passed in Todd-land.

Stay groovy folks.

Cloud Atlas : a review

Note: I saw this in an IMAX theatre and I recommend the experience. Not so much the IMAX, but the theatre. It needed to be sat through from beginning to end and be immersive. Any interruptions would cause me to get lost I think.

Cloud Atlas stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, and Jim Broadbent. There are six story lines and each actor above is the lead actor in one storyline. The other five play either supporting roles or just cameos in the other storylines. Additionally there are several supporting actors of note too: Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving and Keith David to name a few. Each of these actors also plays several roles.

When I say there are multiple story lines, I don’t mean interwoven stories sharing characters like Crash or Babel. These are completely different stories with different characters. They just share actors. They are set in different time periods: 1849, 1939,1973, 2012, 2144, and some time at least 140 after that. But the editing of the movie interweaves all the story lines. One scene might be set in 2012 and the next 1849 and so on.

What is the plot? Can’t tell you. That is I could, but each story has a completely different plot and feel. I’d be here for years just doing the recap.

Other than actors the stories share themes, images/motifs and a tenuous tie to the next story in the future. The joy of this movie is in part identifying those ties. Indeed just spotting the actors is challenging since often a cameo in a story is quite short and the actor is almost completely changed under makeup.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. But I enjoyed it for the novelty and the puzzle of keeping up and spotting the ties. That is a fairly different kind of movie experience.

In fact my greatest gripe is that the intercutting impacted getting emotional engaged. It wasn’t until the end of the movie that I was really invested in what happens. Until then it was largely an intellectual experience. That being said they do reach some nice resolutions. Some happy and some tragic.

The performances? Each actor has chances to be good and bad. It is weird. They play such different folks. Sometimes a performance is subtle and nuanced. Sometimes it is over the top. (Often intentionally – Hugo Weaving as Nurse Nokes – an analog to Nurse Ratched from OneFlew over the Cuckoos Nest – is both hilarious and threatening.).

The stories? Some are good. Some are fairly dull. None are great, I think.

The direction? This movie is so much about the editing that it is hard to talk about the directing. The Wachowski’s directed 3 stories and Tom Tykwer the other three. Each is directed as a period piece in a different genre. Some scenes are excellent. Some are not.

It is really a weird movie to critique especially lightly.

I liked it. Quite a bit. It made me excited about movies. But I’m still not sure it is any good. I want to see it again to figure it out.

Comics: into the top 25

Nearly there! More CBSG goodness!

25. Garth Ennis’ Punisher – Ennis. Read the first trade. Not my thing. There is a little Ennis box in my head labeled “Not my thing.”

24. John Byrne’s Fantastic Four – before my time mostly. I did catch the end of this and it was pretty good.

23. Grant Morrison’s Animal Man – Did not read.

22. Ed Brubaker’s Captain America – How did this get pitched? Let’s make Cap carry a gun and kill. Let’s bring Bucky back from the dead. Two ideas I would have said are anathema to good Cap stories. But these are the best Cap stories I’ve ever read. It also helped me get over CrossGen going down when the talent developed there came back and did comics like this.

21. Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men – yes. This is good. It isn’t top 25 good though.

20. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ Justice League – these were great comics. I do not own, but I do quite like.

19. Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary – Another Todd top ten pick. This was a top of the pile read for years. Images and covers for this series were my desktop wallpapers. My favorite is still the ghost cop of Hong Kong issue. Awesome!

18. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern – I think we established over a week ago that Johns’ JSA is his ideal run. But this just burst! It made GL into a franchise.

17. Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man – Here is my favorite Bendis Marvel work. An almost unparalleled art run by Bagley. And Bendis doing what he does best.

16. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Daredevil – Following up Smith’s Daredevil run in Marvel Knights. It was highly successful and Bendis was still almost unknown. As a run entire it is better than Brubaker’s I think. (Although Bru’s first arc is awesome.). Oddly Bendis is just now doing his epilogue. This is good stuff.

15. Chris Claremont’s Solo X-Men – My favorite issues are with Paul Smith and are in this run. This run may be why I’m reading comics today. It won’t make my personal top ten, but it is still good.

14. Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans – Aye, two thumbs up. There are few stinkers up here on the list. Personally I’m more taken by the art than the story, but both work. Why isn’t there a franchise of Titans movies? They have some awesome rogues.

13. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men – once again I didn’t get this at first. But finally I did. My favorite Morrison works: We3 and All Star Superman wont show on this list so this will likely be the top stuff of his appearing for me. .

12. Grant Morrison’s JLA – More Morrison. I think this is solid, but not close to the top.

11 runs to go. Getting easy to guess what is coming up.

Comics: into the top 25

Nearly there! More CBSG goodness!

25. Garth Ennis’ Punisher – Ennis. Read the first trade. Not my thing. There is a little Ennis box in my head labeled “Not my thing.”

24. John Byrne’s Fantastic Four – before my time mostly. I did catch the end of this and it was pretty good.

23. Grant Morrison’s Animal Man – Did not read.

22. Ed Brubaker’s Captain America – How did this get pitched? Let’s make Cap carry a gun and kill. Let’s bring Bucky back from the dead. Two ideas I would have said are anathema to good Cap stories. But these are the best Cap stories I’ve ever read. It also helped me get over CrossGen going down when the talent developed there came back and did comics like this.

21. Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men – yes. This is good. It isn’t top 25 good though.

20. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ Justice League – these were great comics. I do not own, but I do quite like.

19. Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary – Another Todd top ten pick. This was a top of the pile read for years. Images and covers for this series were my desktop wallpapers. My favorite is still the ghost cop of Hong Kong issue. Awesome!

18. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern – I think we established over a week ago that Johns’ JSA is his ideal run. But this just burst! It made GL into a franchise.

17. Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man – Here is my favorite Bendis Marvel work. An almost unparalleled art run by Bagley. And Bendis doing what he does best.

16. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Daredevil – Following up Smith’s Daredevil run in Marvel Knights. It was highly successful and Bendis was still almost unknown. As a run entire it is better than Brubaker’s I think. (Although Bru’s first arc is awesome.). Oddly Bendis is just now doing his epilogue. This is good stuff.

15. Chris Claremont’s Solo X-Men – My favorite issues are with Paul Smith and are in this run. This run may be why I’m reading comics today. It won’t make my personal top ten, but it is still good.

14. Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans – Aye, two thumbs up. There are few stinkers up here on the list. Personally I’m more taken by the art than the story, but both work. Why isn’t there a franchise of Titans movies? They have some awesome rogues.

13. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men – once again I didn’t get this at first. But finally I did. My favorite Morrison works: We3 and All Star Superman wont show on this list so this will likely be the top stuff of his appearing for me. .

12. Grant Morrison’s JLA – More Morrison. I think this is solid, but not close to the top.

11 runs to go. Getting easy to guess what is coming up.

Comics: falling behind and catching up

It has been a while since my last run down of the Comics Should Be Good top runs list. I was out Thursday and doing the gaming thing Friday. The runs are now ahead of me.

But in this fifteen is much colicky goodness.

40. Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets – ok. Bad place to start. Have not read.

39. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy – ooh. Another Todd top ten. The series have been coming out very slowly in the last few years. Fortunately, a new one starts in December. To tide me over is BPRD, but there is nothing quite like the original. Since I read in trade I’m often many stories behind. I didn’t get this book in the first mini series. I thought, “Meh”. The Lovecraftian villains and dense backstory were not my thing. But I read Right Hand of Doom years later and was hooked! Funny, scary, and great stories. I wish Mignola did all the art… But he has had good help on recent minis. An awesome, awesome series.

38. Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman – Have not read.

37. Stan Lee and John Romita’s Spider-Man – Follow the link and look at the Romita art. Wow. Wow.

36. Mark Waid’s Flash – lots of Waid on this list. My favourite Waid is already passed on the list with FF. but. This might be the series where Waid became Waid. Sometimes it just all works…

35. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates – Millar is the Michael Bay of comics. All about the spectacle. And in this pairing with Hitch is the Ultimate Millar.

34. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways – Yes. Is this a Todd top ten? Not sure, but it is close. Hmm. Y should be on the list somewhere. That is better. But this? I fully recommend. And Andi just sorted this into my front room.

33. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s Scalped – Read the first trade. Not my thing. But I love Aaron on Wolvie and the X-Men.

32. Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol – Tried it. Not my thing.

31. Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos’ Transmetropolitan – Top ten. Yes. I think so.

30. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central – Yes. I love this set of comics. Michael Lark does a lot of the art. This might be my favourite story set in the Batman family. Rucks is better on Q&C. Brubaker is better on Cap. (and others like Criminal). But this was really something special.

29. Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s Avengers – The first time I collected Avengers. The Ultron arc in particular is great. Busier is better on Astro City, but this might be my favourite Perez ever.

28. Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard’s Walking Dead – 351 points

27. Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha’s Fables – Top ten. I’ve definitely got more than ten top ten books now. The first four arcs are my picks, but this is still a must read every month.

26. Peter David’s Incredible Hulk – The master of the long run. I own only a small bit of this run. But no Hulk story since this run can completely ignore it. Hmm. Is this my favourite PAD story? Probably not. But it might be. Great stuff.

8 more runs are already posted on the list. But I’ll wait until there is a grouping of the next 15. But the next 8 has some great stuff too.

Hard Travelling Heroes

I’m waiting for CBSG to post the list list of top runs. They haven’t yet. So today’s comic coverage will be twofold.

First the Iron Man 3 trailer is out. I wasn’t a huge fan of IM2, but I thought the first movie was invincible! You can’t judge a movie by its trailer, but the IM3 trailer looks great. More Tony and Pepper stuff, and the plot looks like a mash of Armor Wars, Extremis and Mandarin items. This is cool.

Armor Wars was a plot where IM determined that others were reusing his IM technology in other weapons. He didn’t want to be responsible for how they were used and went to shut it all down. It was a good story line. Extremis was about IM determining that simply upgrading his Armor wasn’t enough to stay current. The man himself needed to be upgraded. The ideas in the story were great and I always like the author (Ellis), but as an arc it didn’t quite work. Still I’m enthused to see the ideas reused. The Mandarin is one of IM’s rogues. Perhaps his arch-rogue. He is a really good foe. A giant Mandarin arc just finished in the comics. It didn’t quite work either – partly due to just being too long.

Regardless, I’m enthused to see a movie composed of these elements.

Secondly, Dave lent me Hard Travelling Heroes. It is a collection of part of the Dennis O’Neil and Neil Adams Green Lantern run. It contains the big cross- country trip/team up between Green Lantern and Green Arrow.

These are some good comics. Each issue tells a complete story although there is a two part trial and the whole run builds as it goes along. The stories are clear and compelling. The art is crisp and exciting. The whole package reads well.

In many ways it reads quite modern. The heroes aren’t reintroduced each episode for instance. Each episode has a single plot rather than juggling a half dozen. And the draw is the star creative team. The issues introduced are still current – homelessness, racism, law and justice and worker’s rights.

In other ways it is quite old. Although the issues are complex and left unresolved in most cases, the plot is always resolved with a fight. And the bad guys are generally murderers. For instance, a slum land lord who is evicting tenants is the bad guy in the first episode. But that isn’t bad enough, he also has mob ties and puts out a hit on the heroes.

And the dialogue! It was written to be current, but now having someone say they “dig” something sounds quite dated. And the dialogue is all very straight forward – the characters declaim their opinions.

That isn’t to say that the characterization is poor. It is quite strong. These heroes wear their hearts on their sleeves, but they also show growth and make mistakes and suffer the consequences. Perhaps more than anything else that might be the key strength of the stories.

Ah, it is a good read! Thanks Dave.