Category Archives: Underrated

Underrated: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.



This week on Underrated, I wanted to take a look at one of the most reviled movies in the X-Men Franchise, not because I’m going to convince you it’s secretly a great movie that has been unfairly shat on for nearly ten years, but because I want to highlight some of the things that it actually did right. Do they out weight the bad to redeem the movie? Personally, I think so. Although X-Men Origins: Wolverine will never be thought of as a shining example of the character in cinema, and nor should it be, it isn’t the catastrophic mess that we remember it being.

Before you start raging at me (and you’re more than welcome to do so on twitter @karcossa) ask yourself when was the last time you saw this movie? I watched it on the 21st of March this year with the intention of tearing it to pieces in an article, but I actually kind of enjoyed it, so I wrote this instead [note, this article was written on March 23rd, so the movie was quite fresh in my mind]. So before you fire up those angry fingers, give the movie a quick watch and remember I’m not claiming it’s great, just that it isn’t bad.

  • The Opening Sequence
    Honestly, you give me a movie with Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting their way through history based on this opening credit montage and I will throw my money at you. This is a prime example of a movie blowing it’s load too early, if you’ll pardon the expression. We get one of the best opening sequences in the franchise before one of the worst movies. No wonder it got flattened by fans.
  • Liev Schreiber And Hugh Jackman
    Say what you want about the script, plot choices, and pointless cameos, but I will not hear a bad word said about either Schreiber or Jackman’s performances in this movie. It remains a great tragedy that we only got one movie with Liev Schreiber playing Sabretooth opposite Hugh Jackman, and that it was this one. Having watched the movie recently, the two men are almost able to save the movie with their acting chops alone – without them it wouldn’t be worth watching past the title sequence.
  • Most Action Sequences
    Strangely enough, the action sequences in the movie are actually pretty good; Logan and Creed fighting in the bar is awesome, and even the final battle is pretty entertaining (despite the character mutilation of Deadpool). The only downside to the sequence where Team X attacks a compound is that the individual use of the soldier’s abilities makes little sense as a tactical strike, but as a showcase of the individual powers at play it’s pretty good. As is the helicopter fight – right up until the cliched walking away from the explosion end point.
  • The One Liners
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t a comedy, but there’s quite a few one liners that will at the very least elicit a chuckle from you. Plus, you can also laugh at the so-bad-it’s-good moments.
  • Wolverine Uses All His Powers
    Funnily enough, one of the things this movie gets right is how many other abilities Logan has. At different points in the movie you see him use his enhanced senses of smell, vision and hearing to locate Creed, Zero and Kayla. You don’t see him using his other powers as often as you do his healing and claws (for obvious reasons, I’m sure).

Yes, the movie has its problems, especially with how it fits (or used to fit depending on who you’re talking to) into the X-Men movie franchise, or how it treats certain characters, but if you look at it as a standalone movie that just happens to feature Wolverine… it’s actually not that bad; truth be told, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and that’s why it’s the subject of this week’s Underrated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Underrated: Great Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 Sellers For March

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Great comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for March


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six(ish) comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher (although there may be a future Underrated on specific publishers in the future, that’s not the point of this one).

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions but that’s also had the adverse effect of shortening this list more than I’d like in the past, so you may see some recurring series month to month, although I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.

The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for Marchs comic sales, according to Comichron., which is why they’re Underrated.

 

voracius feeding time 4Voracious: Feeding Time #4 (Action Lab)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Not listed/Unknown
It should come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s creation,Voracious, and it’s sequel Voracious: Feeding Time. The writer and artist/letterer and joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and the trio have produced one of the most consistently excellent comics on the racks. With a story that is on the surface built to be a comedy – that of a time travelling dinosaur hunting chef – but packs more of an emotional punch than you’d expect in such a comic. A truly compelling series that reinvigorated my love for comics, if you want to get caught up the first trade of Voracious is available now, and the second volume will be coming in May, although you could also go hunting for back issues. This is easily one of my favourite comics from any publisher right now, and it is a criminally underread series. There’s a reason I push this on as many people as I do, both online and offline, and that’s because it’s fucking amazing.

Ninjak #25 (Valiant)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 275 /5,763

Even though there are several elements of the character that I love (namely the fusion of James Bond and Batman), I’ll admit that up until recently I wasn’t a huge fan of Ninjak’s solo book; it had it’s moments, but the comic never pulled itself out of being a good comic into the truly great levels until the 23rd issue (for me, anyway – there are those who have long felt it was great). As of this writing the 26th issue has also been published, which is the final issue in the current run, so you may be wondering what I’m thinking by pointing you toward this series now, and I’ll tell you: tradepaper backs.

redline-1Redline #1 (Onipress)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 220 /8,040

The series that blends space travel (more specifically living on a colony on Mars) with a hardboiled detective story that’s so much more nuanced then I can adequately convey in a shot blurb. Redline may seem crass and bloody, and it is, but beyond that is where you’ll find one of the most interesting and well written stories from Onipress I’ve ever read. If you have even a passing interest in life on another planet, or a sci-fi detective story then pick this up.

The Flintstones #9 (DC)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #208 /9,213

You would be forgiven for thinking that this would be a pretty, but shallow, series about an old 60’s cartoon based purely on the name and covers of the nine issues we’ve seen from DC, and you’d be about half right. The Flintstones is a pretty comic about characters who debuted in the 60’s, but it’s far from being a shallow comic. This is a series that will make you think about the disposable lifestyle we currently enjoy, and how others suffer for that – it is, in short, one of the most well written comics out there that’s hidden behind a facade that too many people ignore.

grasskings_001_a_mainGrass Kings #1 (Boom!)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #168 /13,515


I’ll usually give anything Matt Kindt does at least a couple of issues before I either add it to my pull list or stop reading all together, but the first issue of this series about, for lack of a better phrase, an independent kingdom set within rural America piqued my interest pretty quickly. There’s a sense of something off lurking just beneath the surface in the Grass Kingdom, and the way that  Kindt is drip feeding us information makes for a compelling read.

God Country #3 (Image)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #156 /15,321


I’m writing this after having just finished reviewing the most recent issue, but through the magic of the internet and Graphic Policy’s schedule, you’ll read this a couple hours before the review goes live. I’ll go into detail as to why I love the series in that review so I don’t want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that I’m going to need to get the trade because I don’t want to wear my floppies out from reading them over and over again.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: The Watchmen Movie

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Zack Snyder directed Watchmen movie.



 

With the upcoming crossover taking place in issues of Batman and The Flash, coupled with the news that there would be an R-Rated animated version of the comic coming soon, I thought it was an ideal time to turn back and have another look at Zack Snyder’s adaptation. I’ll try and keep this as spoiler free as possible for those who haven’t read the comics or seen the movie – but honestly if you haven’t read the comic at this point, then why the hell not?

When talking about the movie, there are three different versions of the same flick that I’ll be referring too: the Theatrical Cut which was 162 minutes in length, the Directors Cut coming in at 186 minutes, and the Ultimate Cut which clocks in at 215 minutes. The Theatrical Cut is the version that everybody saw first in the cinema, and for a great may people it is the only version they have seen. It has been a long time since I watched that version, but I can recall when watching it that it was a good movie, but it wasn’t as great as it could be. Watchmen‘s director, Zack Snyder, had a very tough task ahead of him when he was charged with bringing Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s miniseries to the silver screen. Watchmen has been hailed by many people as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time; it’s a story that is near and dear to the hearts many a comic fan. Adapting the full story, and doing it well enough to meet the expectation of thousands of comic fans whilst at the same time appealing to those non-comic fans who had never read Watchmen, would have been nigh on impossible; even the Ultimate Cut is still missing at least two entire plot lines from the original comics, and that comes in at three and a half hours.

Although what was released to theaters was still a very good movie; the casting choices were fantastic (Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach was more than I could have ever hoped for), and the choices that were made when writing the script kept the movie as faithful to the source material as possible. Indeed, many scenes in the movie reflect certain panels almost exactly. The change to the ending I understand; to have the original  ending included, without adding perhaps an extra thirty minutes of screen time to build the subplot that would be needed to have the ending from the comics make sense, would have taken away from the story as a whole. The movie’s ending worked very well for what it was, and while ultimately the same result was achieved, it was done so in a more believable method for cinema audiences. It wasn’t the same as the comics, no, but the movies are a different medium than the comics and face more constraints in terms of run time and budget. The version released to theaters was version of the movie that the studio, producers and directors felt was best suited to a theatrical release.

But when Watchmen was initially released, it wasn’t complete. It was a good movie, and the story told was coherent enough (especially for those of us who were familiar with the comics), but it did feel like something was missing.

That something missing largely disappeared wen the Directors Cut was released; the additional forty plus minutes of footage that really added to the film, and thanks to the extra run time it told a story that echoed the source material more than the Theatrical Cut did. Glimpses of one of the missing subplots were shown, and the movie felt much more complete; but when the Ultimate Cut was released which included the previously separately released animated Tales Of The Black Freighter woven into the extended Directors Cut, well then the movie took shape. The Ultimate Cut is still flawed, but it’s as great an adaptation as we can ever expect.

Unfortunately, however, the Ultimate Cut hasn’t been seen by as many people as the Theatrical Cut, which is a shame because the Ultimate Cut is as faithful a movie adaptation as we’ll ever see, and stands head and shoulder above the Theatrical Cut in terms of quality. Watchmen was a movie that had huge expectations heaped upon it, and when it appeared theatrically it never quite lived up to those expectations, the Ultimate Cut comes very, very close; although the Ultimate Cut is an outstanding movie, it has done little to elevate Watchmen‘s stature in terms of being talked about as a great movie; making this a surprisingly underrated gem.

 

Underrated: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition.


 

Batman v Superman Dawn of JusticeLet’s not beat around the bush here: the theatrical cut of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice wasn’t the greatest superhero movie of last year and while it wasn’t the worst comic book movie of the year, it was perhaps one of the most disappointing – for me at least. I had expected so much from the movie, because it was fucking Batman and Superman on the big screen together. And… well we got an average movie. There were parts that were great (Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot), and parts that were pretty good (Henry Cavil), and… some less than savoury parts. I left the theatre feeling quite unsure of how I felt; did the good outweigh the bad, or did it balance it out? What didn’t click for me? Could the movie had been better?

Shortly after seeing the movie I found out that there would be an R rated extended cut of the film released for home media, and I wondered whether that would do anything to set the film right.

As it turns out, it did.

Almost every problem I had with the pacing, plot and direction of the movie was made better by the extended cut. I still wasn’t happy that the entire movie had effectively been told in short form in the trailers, but there wasn’t much I could do about that other than not watching the trailer in the first palace. Since that wasn’t an option…

Look, I get that Warner Brothers probably had concerns about audiences sitting for an extended period of time… I mean the near two and a half hour run time of the theatrical cut was the longest movie in recent memory, and understandably Warner’s were concerned about audiences attention spans. It’s not like we’d ever sit patiently during Lord Of The Rings, or binge watch five hours of Daredevil in one sitting. That’s just not who we are. And to think we’d rather have  a great long movie longer than a slightly shorter average one would never cross their minds. 

It’s okay, though.

Whether it’s thanks to the success of Deadpool, or the critical slamming early on, or both, the Extended cut of the movie is a much better story in every way. The plot holes that resulted from the opening sequence are fixed because of the additional footage showing the soldiers using flame throwers to incinerate bodies to mimic Superman’s heat vision, if you wrote the movie off based on the theatrical cut then you’re missing one of the better superhero movies of last year.

Yeah, I said it.

The Extended edition is a better move than Civil War is, but because the real version of the film was never released in theaters, the movie as a whole got quite an unfair reputation – albeit fairly earned based on the expectations people had for this supposed juggernaut of a film, and what was initially delivered. If you’ve only seen the theatrical cut of the movie, then give the Extended edition a shot. The additional scenes add significantly to the overall experience, delivering a much better experience than anything you’d have expected from the theatrical experience.

Underrated: Graphic Novel Biographies

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Graphic Novel Biographies.


 

Biographies aren’t always the first thing you think  of when you think of graphic novels, and vice versa. But the thing is a graphic novel is a fantastic way to tell a person’s life story, or a portion there of, that isn’t often used as much as it could be. Graphic novel biographies are a wonderfully unique way of telling a story that you really can’t capture the same way with a prose book. By utilizing the graphic novel format, the creative team have the opportunity to bring the story to life with picture, or temper  the harshness of what the biography’s subject went through so that the reader can take more of the story in (seriously, imagine the first entry with realistic artwork). Or the artwork can tell give you a subtlety that’s missing in other mediums as you’re more readily able to spend time pouring over the images in front of you. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I think graphic novels are an underrated method of telling a biographical story.

So I present to you here a short list of graphic novel biographies. 

A few things before we start; firstly, these biographies are all told primarily in the graphic novel format, but they my not encapsulate  the entirety of the subjects life. Secondly, because I’ve got eclectic taste these selections may not be for everybody so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Lastly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

mausMaus (Pengiun)
Lets’s be honest here, Maus is far from underrated as a comic book. It’s one of the prime examples of excellence in the medium, and for good reason; this is a book that tackles the harsh realities of life in a concentration camp, and is still every bit as relevant now as it it ever was. So its far from underrated as a comic, but as a biography? It’s not often thought of in that way, especially by non comics fans.  Granted, this book takes a spot in this weeks Underrated simply because it’s a graphic novel that really exemplifies the mediums power, but also because when those outside of comics think of a biographical tale seldom does a graphic novel crop up. It’s for this reason that Maus is on the list.

Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven (IDW)
You don’t need to be a wrestling fan to appreciate this story, but I won’t deny that it helps. I am not a wrestling fan any more (though I still appreciate the talent these men and women have to do what they do), but I found Closer To Heaven is an incredibly touching tribute to a great man. A giant who entertained millions of people around the world, while suffering an incredible amount of pain because of his gigantism. Andre is a truly inspiring figure, and this is a fantastic way to honour his story. It’s not the only biography of Andre released in graphic novel form, but it is the only one that I have read.

BillTheBoyWonderFrBill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman (Charlesbridge)
Perhaps the most powerful book on this list that isn’t Maus, Bill The Boy Wonder tells the story of Bill Finger, and his integral role in creating Batman that went largely known know, and entirely uncredited, until last year. This is a must read for any fans of Batman who want to know the true origin story of the caped crusader, and for those who want to read the book that helped Bill Finger get the recognition he deserves.

Dark Night:  A True Batman Story (Vertigo)
Telling the story of the night that legendary Batman writer Paul Dini was mugged, this book is honestly hard to read at times thanks to it’s frank and honest depiction of one man’s struggle to overcome one of the mot traumatic nights of his life, and how Batman inspired him to get back up.

TS_March_cvrMarch (Top Shelf Productions)
This is a bit of a cheat because March is actually a three volume graphic  novel that tells the story of congressman John Lewis, a congressman in the state of Georgia. Each volume in this series is amazing, and delivers to an incredible reading experience about an American icon. Brett has an incredible series of reviews on this modern classic that can all be found within the first paragraph here, so if you want to know why you should read these books then read those.

 


 


 

There we have it – some of the best of the graphic novel biographies. Not all are underrated in the typical sense as relates to this column, (Mausfor example is one of the most respected graphic novels around), but all are worth reading. There are without a doubt other graphic novel biographies that I missed, so there’s a good chance there will be a second (or third) part to this list eventually.

In the meantime, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For February

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: A list of underrated comics.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for some comics and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six comics that are worth your attention. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, because otherwise Valiant would dominate the list below. Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions (because otherwise Voracious: Feeding Time  would top the list again), but that’s also had the adverse effect of shortening this list more than I’d like, so that may change next month.

Not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for January’s comic sales, which is why they’re Underrated.

All sales data comes from Comichron.


A&A12.jpgA&A: The Adventures Of Archer And Armstrong #12 (Valiant)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 306 /
3,839

The final issue in this series capped off a madcap run of pure fun that was masking some deeper emotional subject matter. The series is over, but it’s worth checking out in trade form if you want to read some fun, foolish, and almost self aware stories that don’t require any familiarity with the characters or the wider Valiant universe.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: Corpse Makers #1 (Dark Horse)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #251 /
6,033

Continuing the theme of fun comics, this new series following Eisner’s classic detective has just the right blend of slapstick humour and mystery  to pull a person right into the story. There’s no time wasted trying to retell the origin of the character (and honestly  I couldn’t tell you what that is beyond a vague understanding), which is refreshing in this day and age. Just strap in and enjoy the ride!

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #16 (Marvel)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #201 /
8,440

A comic featuring a T-Rex in modern times should be intriguing for anybody, and while that’s a great hook to pull people in, the real star of the show is the super smart, and capable, Moon Girl. A series that deserves more attention, both in terms of buzz and sales. Check out this underrated gem yesterday.

 


Obviously there are many more comics that should be on that list, so look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t selling as well as they should be.

 

Underrated: DC Rebirth Comics

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the DC Comics that fall under the Rebirth banner.

This week on Underrated, I wanted to take a look at some of DC’s ongoing series post Rebirth. These are all series that I’ve been enjoying more than I expected, but haven’t been selling as much as the other series. While the sales numbers are still higher than a lot of other non Big Two series, these are the series that either don’t have as much buzz surrounding them as they should, or that have simply surprised me the most in a positive way since Rebirth began.  I’ve indicated the sales numbers as reported by Comichron, as well as whether I think the series is likely to be cancelled  (based purely on my interpretation of the Comichron sales data for February and no basis whatsoever on rumours or solicitations). Where a book double shipped, I went with the highest numbered issue.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

REDHOOD04-COVDWRed Hood And The Outlaws 
February Rank / Sales Numbers: 82 / 28,753
Cancellation Chance: Slim To None

I’ve never been fond of the idea behind Red Hood, or at least my concept of the idea as a cross between Batman and Punisher. But this series has thrown a dash of Green Hornet into the mix and has really delved into the conflicted nature of the character whilst surrounding him with a fantastic supporting cast in Artemis and Bizarro. Even with a line up of strong Batbooks post Rebirth, Red Hood And The Outlaws has been consistent in it’s solidness for the eight issues we’ve had so far.

Aquaman
February Rank / Sales Numbers: 76 / 30,584
Cancellation Chance: Pretty Unlikely with a movie in the not too distant future.

Had you told me a year ago that I would end up liking Aquaman, I’d have called you a liar. Then I started reading it for the weekly Rebirth Recap & Review feature for Graphic Policy and I haven’t looked back since. Why is it on the list? Because it’s an Aquaman comic.

new super-man 1 coverNew Super-Man
February Rank / Sales Numbers: 131 /
16,962
Cancellation Chance: Uh… if the sales numbers drop below 10,000, then maybe.

On the surface, this is about the Chinese equivalent of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and how the young adults given the abilities of these heroes struggle to live up to their Western counterparts. On top of that, there’s also the angle of the New Super-Man being a jerk who is growing beyond his earlier prejudices and becoming the hero he wants to be.

Gotham Academy: Second Semester
February Rank / Sales Numbers: 198 / 8,624
Cancellation Chance: It’s the lowest selling Rebirth comic right now.

This is an interesting choice for this list, as I’m not as big a fan of this comic as I am some of the others on the list. So why is it included? Because those who do read this series love the innocent charm of this series set in a boarding school in Gotham, and the students in the detective club. I may not be a huge fan, but I bet there’s more of you out there who would be if you gave it a chance.

That’s about it for this week. Next week we’ll be looking at February’s Underrated Comics not in the top 100 for sales according to Diamond.

 

Underrated: Wolverine Stories

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Wolverine Stories.


I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past, both at Graphic Policy and Ramblings Of A Comics Fan that were it not for Wolverine then there is a very good chance I would never have picked up a comic book. Whether it was X-Men: The Animated Series, Wolverine Unleashed #8 or even just regular old Wolverine #118, the one common thread that brought me in to each of these things was the clawed Canadian mutant.  Over time I would  come to realize that Wolverine is so much more than just a violent claw-fisted mutant, and so this Underrated will (hopefully) shine a light on some of the stories featuring Wolverine that may not be thought of as highly as others. With Logan hitting theaters, I felt that now would be a good time to look at some of Wolverine’s more underrated stories.

Tales such as The Japan Adventure, Weapon X and Old Man Logan are thought of in many ways as classic stories, and while some of the tales he’s featured in are somewhat terrible, there are some very underrated gems out there, and these are the ones I wanted to look at today, focusing on a handful of my favourites.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comics are all currently being published in an ongoing series. Secondly, I’ve got eclectic taste so these may not be for everybody so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

  • wolverine-119-coverNot Dead Yet (Wolverine Vol. 2 #119-123)
    This is quite possibly one of my favourite Wolverine stories. Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu, the story is set during the time Wolverine had no adamantium in his body, it is told both in the present and the past by use of flashbacks. Wolverine is being hunted by one of the best, a man who has planned for years to be able to take down the nearly unkillable Canadian mutant with adamantium bones, but what he doesn’t know is that Wolverine‘s bones are no longer coated with the metal, and Logan is suddenly much more vulnerable than he used to be.  I keep coming back to this story every few years, and I have mentioned it several times on this blog, too.  It’s available in trade paperback format, and I highly suggest you pick it up.
  • Bloodlust (Wolverine: Bloodlust one shot)
    A one shot by Alan Davis, this is an absolutely beautifully constructed comic that explores the internal conflict of Wolverine‘s soul;  a recurring theme in many of the comics he has appeared in. Davis asks whether Logan is more of a man or beast at his very core, and delves deeply into Wolverine’s psyche to do so. But the question isn’t as simple as it first seems, and Alan Davis is at his very best here when he combines Logan‘s internal dialogue with the backdrop on the final few pages. For a more detailed review you can check out this link, but suffice it to say that this is easily one one my most treasured comic book stories.
  •  Wolverine 43Wolverine #43
    I reviewed this when I reread it a year or so ago (the curious can find that here) for a another feature. Although it wasn’t as great as I remembered it being, this is still a really interesting story as we get to see Wolverine engage with his more noble animal side when confronting a run of the mill, all too believable, villain.
  • Wolverine And The X-Men Volume #1 (collects issues #1-4)
    Although there are numerous story arcs within the first full volume of this series, and I feel that I could honestly include the entire forty two issues from the first series, if you’re going to read the entire series then you should start here. Another Jason Aaron story, with numerous talented artists, this series was one of the best on the racks every week during it’s original run. Juxtaposing brilliantly with the equally amazing Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender, this series focused on the one X-Man least suited to running a school does exactly that, frequently with disastrously hilarious results. There’s a lot more heart in this series than you’d initially expect, and it’s well worth tracking down the entire run.Uncanny_X-Force_Apocalypse_Solution_Vol_1_1.jpg
  • The Apocalypse Solution (Uncanny X-Force #1-#6)
    Rick Remender
    opens his seminal run on Uncanny X-Force (and if you can read the whole run, please do) with a story that finds X-Force, led by Wolverine, tasked to take out the reborn Apocalypse. This is the story that sets the tone for the entire series, and without giving anything away, is absolutely worth your time. Gritty, dark, and violent, this is a series that deals with the dark underbelly of the X-Men, and shows just how far they’re willing to go to protect mutant kind.

There we have it – a mere handful of underrated Wolverine stories. There are so many more stories featuring the Canadian mutant that are worth reading, so there’s a good chance there will be a second (or third) part to this list eventually. In the mean time, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For January

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: A list of underrated comics.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have an definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for some comics and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six comics that are worth your attention. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, because otherwise Valiant would dominate the list below. Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions (because otherwise Voracious: Feeding Time  would top the list again).

Not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for January’s comic sales, which is why they’re Underrated.

All sales data comes from Comichron.


tomboy comic.jpg
Tomboy #10 (Action Lab: Danger Zone)*
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Unknown / Not Listed
Tomboy by M. Goodwin  is a brilliant mix of teenage angst, horror, with a little manga mixed in. Think Kick Ass, but with a teenage girl at the center of it all. Every issue has delivered and many have left my jaw agape. It’s an underrated series that’s on too few individual’s radar and it has never disappointed and only entertained. Easily one of the best small press comics out there right now.

Divinity III: Stalinverse #2 (Valiant)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #215 / 7,848
There are few publishers who can do an event miniseries as well as Valiant can, and as a clear example just take a look at the excellent Divinity III; the latest in the saga of a group of cosmonauts granted godlike powers after a mission into deep space

Solo #4 (Marvel)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #212 / 8,055
The funny thing about this series is that if you’ve heard about it, you probably think it sounds stupid. Honestly, it kind of is. But it’s stupid in a good way, with a pleasantly shallow story that never pretends to be more than it is. There are better comics on this list, but Solo is still well worth a look.

God Country #1 (Image)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #161 / 14,322
I absolutely loved the last series (co-)written by Donny Cates, The Paybacks, so when I realized that he was behind this comic about a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease godcountry_01-1who is cured when he lays his hands upon a magical sword with godlike abilities. Regardless of how it sounds, this is an incredibly well written tale that has more layers than a tiramisu, and the deeper you delve into those  layers the sweet the payoff – and the more rewarding the story.

New Super-Man #7 (DC)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #136 / 18,959
I didn’t think I’d like this when I first started reading it, but there’s something incredibly interesting about watching Kong Keenan learn about being a hero – not mastering his new powers, but by moving away from his days of being a school yard bully and growing into a man worthy of the symbol on his chest. A coming of age story in many ways, this comic is every bit about living up to the expectations placed upon your shoulders as it is about the New Super-Man.


Obviously there are many more comics that should be on that list, so look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t selling as well as they should be.

*I actually haven’t read this series, and this entry was contributed by Brett.

Underrated: Six Comic Book Movies

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Six Comic Book Movies.


You’ve probably noticed that I’ve written an entire column about some movies, but I’m doing something a little different this week and we’re having a brief overview of six comic book movies, although we’re not ruling out revisiting some of these movies in a longer column down the road.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comic book movies may have been well received when released, but may never have garnered as much attention as they deserved. Secondly, some of these movies I’m probably viewing with the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, and as I haven’t seen many of them in years be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective. Lastly, I am aware that at least two of these movies are borderline comic book movies, but this is my list and I’m including them anyway.

  • phantom-movie-posterThe Phantom (1996)
    This is probably one of the only comic book movie on this list with an actual spandex bodysuit in it, and Billy Zane does admirably well in the roll. I haven’t seen this movie since the 90’s, but not for lack of trying – it is very tough to track down for a reasonable price. The Phantom is a hugely enjoyable movie, so long as you take it for what it is (Guardians of the Galaxy, it is not), you can’t fail to not enjoy it. But do yourself a favour and skip the two part mini series released in 2010.
  • Batman Forever (1995)
    Joel Shumacker ruined the Batman movie franchise with Batman and Robin, that’s no lie, but before he did that he madeBatman Forever. I still enjoy this flick to this day. It echoes the Adam West TV show of the 1960’s, updating the camp foolishness of that time into a slightly more modern and darker time, bridging the gap expertly between Tim Burton’s films and the TV show. The movie stars because of its villains; Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and Jim Carry’s excellent portrayal of the Riddler.  No, the film isn’t the best batman movie out there, but it isn’t as bad as Shumacker’s other offering.
  • Watchmen (2009)
    Watchmen did have some success, there’s no denying that. But the true brilliance of the movie lies with the version that has the animated Black Freighter edited in to the live action movie. Although it clocks in at around four hours long, this version trumps the theatrical version significantly. If you haven’t, and you have the time, give the full version a try.p8022770_p_v8_aa
  • Solomon Kane (2009)
    Originally character created by Robert E Howard (if that name doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognize another of Howard’s creations: Conan) Solomon Kane originally appeared in 1928 in pulp magazine Weird Tales, but has since then starred in several comics through the 70’s and 80’s, and three miniseries published by Dynamite in the last ten years or so. Solomon Kane is probably one of the best films on this list; starring James Purefoy, the film (intended as the first of a trilogy, but it does stand alone) is a dark action adventure that perfectly encapsulates the characters pulp roots.
  • Fantastic Four (2005)
    Say what you want about the new Fantastic Four movie (and people have, and loudly, voiced opinions – even myself), the first one wasn’t horrible. It was actually quite good, all things considered. The main downfall of the movie lies in the conflict throughout. I was happy just watching the F4 simply be themselves and felt that the Dr. Doom final conflict was shoehorned in to a comedy movie because the superhero movie need A Big Final Conflict. The movie would have been far stronger had they used Doom to set up the second movie; have the first movie be more about the the-crow-salvation-movie-postercharacters finding themselves and maybe foiling a more mundane threat to New York City. This isn’t a great movie, but it certainly isn’t as bad as the sequel.
  • The Crow: Salvation (2000)
    Sequels to the 1994 The Crow movie generally range from absolute tripe, to just a little bit above bad. The reason for this is that they all try to follow the same formula. Well, Salvation is no different, but something here clicks. As far as sequels to the original movie go this is the best of the bunch, but that’s ultimately not really saying much. Not the best Crow movie out there, but if you’re a fan of the first movie it’s worth a rent.

There we have it – six underrated comic book movies. Are there other comic book movies out there that are, for whatever reason, underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

Because of that, expect a sequel to this Underrated at some point in the future. In the meantime, if you do get a chance to look for Solomon Kane do it; it’s probably one of the easier movies to track down (with it being on Netflix) and is well worth your time.

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