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Did you go to the comic shop yesterday? If so, what’d you get?

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CBLDF – SPX Contributes $10,000 To CBLDF, Raising A Total of $25,000 For Free Speech! Awesome!

The Beat – Mark Waid on the true cost of digital This fact seems like common sense.

The Mary Sue – Joseph Gordon-Levitt May be Branching Out of the DC Universe to Guardians of the GalaxyIs this the new thing in Hollywood? How many comic franchises or publishers you can act in or for?

GamePolitics – Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Takes Aim at Senator Jay Rockefeller’s Video Games ‘Research’ Bill – Great to see some push back.

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Talking Comics – American Vampire #34

Talking Comics – Justice League Dark #15

IGN – New Avengers #1

Movie Review – Looper

LooperI went in to watching my DVD review copy of Looper with a bit of hesitation. I heard a lot about it from friends and saw the praise online. But, when it comes to time travel trippy movies, I find them to be rather hit or miss. I’m often left wondering more about the mechanics of time travel the movie lives by instead of the story presented before me.

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.

I sat down with my bowl of popcorn and my soda and turned down the lights not sure what to expect. What I found was an action packed movie that was more a hard boiled noir/crime story instead of a time travel/sci-fi movie. This was a movie whose character development was centered around people sitting or standing around talking, not in the action or bravado they showed.

Directed by Rian Johnson where left to focus on the characters before us and their motivation instead of being distracted by the world they inhabit or that mechanics of time travel. To control our focus like that is impressive for the director who gives us quiet scenes of chatter along with blazing shoot outs. To be able to pull off both and pull us in as an audience is impressive.

The most difficult task of the movie was making us believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the younger version of Bruce Willis. The movie really centers around that having us focus on these two same people at different points in their lives. Some small make-up work made Gordon-Levitt look like Willis and the young actors ability to mimic the veteran action star’s familiar patterns is impressive. You could easily believe they’re the same person. Supporting roles by Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels as Gordon-Levitt’s verbal sparring partner and the mob boss pursing Willis and Gordon-Levitt stand out from a small, but impressive cast. Pierce Gagnon as Cid, the possible target of Willis, is really impressive. At not times does the movie suffer from the child actor, in fact it’s enhanced by his innocence.

I did find some issues with the mechanics of time travel presented in the movie (we’ll get to that in the extras comment) and found myself focused a lot on that after. But, it was explainable to me (though the other person I watched it with had issues as well). The plot was predictable with some slight twists and turns, but nothing super shocked. The movie is all about that acting not the action, something not expected going into watching the film.

The extras on the DVD was sparse with some commentary and deleted scenes. There’s one scene I think does deserve being in the film and it explains time travel a bit better. That extra is very helpful watching after the film. The Blu-Ray has a “The Science of Time Travel Featurette” and additional deleted scenes, but unfortunately that’s not the copy I received, so only able to review what was provided.

Overall, the film is excellent. It lives up to the hype and buzz and I’m a bit pissed I waited so long to watch the film. It might seem like a time travel action film, but it’s really all about the characters and acting. This is a smart-person’s sci-fi film, one who doesn’t care about explosions or action sequences, they care about the performance overall. It’s a pretty tight movie that you have to pay attention to, to really appreciate the small details that added in with the performances make one of the best films of the year.

Looperis out today on Blu-Ray, DVD and Instant Video.

Direction: 8 Acting: 9 Plot: 7.5 Extras: 6 Overall: 8

Graphic Policy was provided with a FREE copy for review

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It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting?

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Marvel – Hawkeye: Providing ReliefNice to see and I don’t quite get why this isn’t being promoted more, instead of an exclusive release.

Comicvine – Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart Sign on for X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PASTThis has so much awesome potential in it.

LGR – HIV+ Graphic Novel “Lost Raven” Digi-Release for World AIDS DayWish the comic industry was doing more.

Bleeding Cool – Report: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is Batman In Justice LeagueOr, how everyone is reporting a rumor as fact.

Hit & Run Blog – Social Security Comic Books Offered Kids a Way to Avoid Costly Obligations to Mom and Pop – Some interesting history.

 

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Bleeding Cool – My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #1

Bleeding Cool – Nowhere Men #1

IGN – Thor: God of Thunder #2

IGN – Uncanny Avengers #2

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Dark Knight Rises Teaser PosterI originally went to write the review for The Dark Knight Rises early Friday, but it’s difficult to focus on a review without reflecting a bit on the tragedy that’s occurred. That being said, I’m confident what follows is my opinion regardless of events. Also, I’ll do my best to not reveal any spoilers, but when I can’t avoid it, you’ll see [Spoiler] [End Spoiler] with text that needs to be highlight in between.

I went into The Dark Knight Rises expecting a masterpiece, and hoping it’d live up to my expectations, or at least come close. While half of the movie knocked it out of the park, the other half struggled in an incoherent mess that lacked a narrative. This was two movies. An epilogue to The Dark Knight and then The Dark Knight Rises which harkens back to Batman Begins. It’s a fitting end cap to the trilogy, but struggles when examined on it’s own.

I should back up on my thoughts on the first two movies. Batman Begins was a realistic take on the character, a reboot and jolt to comic book movies similar to what the comic book market experienced during the early part of the “gritty” 80’s. It was a voice and vision not really seen at that point and showed “comic movies” can appeal to mass audiences, while not losing their self and also update material for a modern age. The Dark Knight had brilliant acting and action that was amazing. However, while there was improvements on the original, what I could tell was originally two movies was rushed and compacted into one film. It was compressed and felt that way, giving short shrift to some plot points, like Dent’s turn into Two-Face.

The Dark Knight Rises attempts to fix that compressed feel experienced in the second film. It opens as a prologue to it. Giving us the events following Dent’s death and the subsequent cover-up. Gotham is now “safe” and Batman is retired. This is a choppy experience without a narrative, instead being told through scenes and events. We’re introduced to the villain Bane, a terrorist who is doing…. something. The voice we worried about in the teaser video shown is redubbed over and at times is out of place. There’s still issues understanding what Bane (and others in fairness) are saying, but that might have been the audio in my theater.

Now we come back to Gotham, Christian Bale is back as Bruce Wayne is a hermit hobbling around and locked in one wing of his manor. He walks with a cane, and we have to come to our conclusions as to why, though a specific reason isn’t given. We assume it’s from wear and tear from his time being Batman. Since he has no purpose, he has no direction and has locked himself away. He was order and law, so what does he do in a city where there is order and law.

Enter Anne Hathaway‘s Selina Kyle/Catwoman who decides to rob Wayne. This gets Wayne to start looking around again. The law and order is broken, he must return it.

Through a very complicated plot, Bane, actor Tom Hardy, comes into play which drags in Garry Oldman‘s Commissioner Gordon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s John Blake, a rookie cop into the mix as well. Bane is chaos, pure and simple. He wants to take from the rich, but what he really is after is revenge. [Spoiler] Bane it turns out is part of the League of Shadows, which you might remember from the first film and he’s come to Gotham to achieve what the League couldn’t. [End Spoiler]

Wayne finds out his company is in shambles and enter Marion Cotillard‘s Miranda Tate to the rescue and save the corporation. She’s interested in the clean energy project it’s been working on.

From there, the movie borrows from various Batman comic book stories including Knightfall and No Man’s Land. There’s absolute themes director/writer Christopher Nolan was going for. Balance in society is one. Whether it’s balance of wealth or balance between good and evil. It’s prevalent throughout the movie. Though he rips from the headlines and people might think of the Occupy Movement while seeing the movie, Bane and his terrorists as more in common with Al Qaeda and their battle against the West and their claim of it’s decadence.

Once Batman confronts Bane, the movie picks up with twists and turns you at times don’t see coming. The final reveals left the audience gasping. The ending of the film is beyond satisfying, really feeling like a proper ending and at the same time, leaving itself open to what comes next and absolutely ends on a high note. I left the theater smiling, and this is one of the few movies I’ve seen three separate applause sections, where the theater went nuts with approval.

Is the movie perfect? Absolutely not, there’s lots of flaws. But the focus not on Batman, but those around him mixed with themes relevant to today’s society and acting that’s beyond what you expect in a “comic movie” makes the movie a win and satisfying experience and conclusion.

Directing: Nolan does a great job, but there’s absolute flaws. The first half of the movie is choppy in scenes with very rough transitions. I felt like I was watching scenes play instead of a flowing narrative. Also, one of the big money shot scenes of the movie [Spoiler] Where Bane breaks Batman’s back [End Spoiler] is quick, instead of the dramatic lingering shot I’d of expected and wanted. The second half of the movie flows really well though, covering a lot in a little time and avoiding modern movie directing cliches like action scenes you can’t follow. Grade: 7

Acting: The focus on the movie is the supporting cast. Oldman, Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine especially. Oldman and Caine pour on the emotion in scenes where they lay out their motives and reasons for acting the way they do. This is as much the supporting cast as Bale’s. Hathaway and Hardy are great additions. Hathaway does great with what she’s got mixing in action and sexiness along with independence and vulnerability. Thought Catwoman’s motives and background is thin, she does a lot with what she’s given. Hardy’s Bane is supposed to be a brute and Hardy plays that role well. Event with a mask obscuring his face, he can tell what he’s thinking and his mood. In every way I believe he’s Batman’s equal if not his better. Grade: 9

Plot: I’ve discussed how the beginning has issues and the second half though satisfying and clearer is still pretty complicated and convoluted as far as the scheme Bane is attempting. Other issues… [Spoiler] What is it with comic movies having the hero reveal his identity!? Blake just guesses and Wayne doesn’t try to deflect it?! This rookie cop is that smart and no one else can figure it out. Also, the corporate take over schtick was a bit much to find the nuclear generator. Finally, the Bat seemed out of place. The new Batmobile and Batpod seems realistic, but that vehicle was out of place. I will say the use of the knife in Miranda/Talia’s attack on Batman was fantastic, especially since there was a discussion between Bruce and Fox about knives and the suit protecting against them in an earlier movie. Another example of organically tying them together in numerous ways. [End Spoiler] The movie ties into the first and second movies quite well though, capping off a trilogy and tying it all together in a way I wasn’t expecting. Grade: 7.5

Overall: It’s funny in that I’d rate the overall trilogy higher than any one of the movies. The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting ending and boy one hell of an ending. I got chills as it played out it’s conclusion. The movie is very flawed, but an experience that’s a must see. Relevant to today’s world, and a plot that doesn’t dumb it down for the audience, it’s a visual feast full of action and acting that we should expect from a summer blockbuster. It’s an absolute must see, I just wish I could rate it higher on it’s own. Overall Grade: 7.5

Side Note: Where was DC in promoting their comics at all!?

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It was #comicmarket Tuesday yesterday on Twitter and lots of great discussion of the comic industry occurred.  The big question is always what can be done to help and promote comic books?  The easiest answer is to go out to your local shop and get this week’s new releases!  So, what are you picking up today?

Around the Blogs:

Bleeding Cool – The Dark Knight Rises Plot Thickens: Batman’s First Encounter With John Blake RevealedJoseph Gorden-Levitt’s role is revealed, and everyone is now really confused.

Bleeding Cool – After The Avengers? Kevin Feige Spills On Marvel’s PlansCan we first see if this summer’s movies are any good?

Etsy – Marvel USB DrivesSo cute, sadly I don’t need a new USB drive.

An Improvised Blog – 2011 is Year of the NerdLets face it, the Nerds won and took over the world.  Sorry Alpha Betas, you lost.

Newsarama – New Publisher Mike Kennedy Talks ARCHAIA’s Digital FutureThis site named Arachaia the Top Publisher of 2010, so can’t wait to see what the digital future holds for them

Con Coverage:

The Beat – MoCCA thoughts: the indie evolution

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It’s a new week and C2e2 news continues to trickle out.  We’ll keep up our special section for a few more days and of course there’s the usual news.

Around the Blogs:

Bleeding Cool – Confirmed: Stephen King, Joe Hill In Talks To Write An Episode of Walking DeadCould be interesting, but is Kirkman too busy writing his three billion comics to pen the entire season?

Bleeding Cool – So… Joseph Gordon-Levitt Isn’t Playing That Character In The New Batman After All?I still hold out for the Riddler.

The Comics Journal – New RulesWhat’s up with comic book message boards lately?  Another one has to change the rules due to unruly participants.

ICv2 – Archaia Gets InvestorsThey put out great material, so hopefully we’ll see more of their series on the big and small screen.

Slash Film – Infographic: The Avengers Family TreeDo your best to name them all.

Flyte Blog – Are You Ready for Business Comic Books? – Definitely want to check this out.  It could be interesting.

The Bookseller – Wales college launches graphic novel degree – Now I just need a degree for being a snarky graphic novel reviewer.

C2e2 Coverage:

Bleeding Cool – Costume Parade at C2E2 by Samantha LaFountain

Bleeding Cool – More Awesome Booths at C2E2 by Samantha LaFountain

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Wrap Up

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Scott Snyder Part 2 (Batman)

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Phil Hester

Graphic Novel Reporter – Comic Books, Libraries, and Innovation Report from C2E2

The Beat – C2E2 2011 in pictures

ICv2 – C2E2 Photos, Part 1

ICv2 – C2E2 Photos, Part 2

Comic Book Resources – C2E2: “Supreme Power” Gets Real

Chicago Tribune – C2E2 expands its universe

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Primary Ignition – Batman vs. The Undead

The Comics Journal – Che

Bookish ArdourCoraline

YA Book Nerd – The Lightning Thief

Heroic Times – Sight Unseen

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C2e2 is over and Sunday brought some news from Marvel.  We got a look of some of the new creative teams and some new series.  Below is a wrap up of the latest news as well as our special C2e2 section.

Around the Blogs:

Kotaku – Sunday ComicsWaste some of your Monday morning checking out some web comics.

Rabble – Women at the forefront of the graphic novel revolution!You go girl.

Bleeding Cool – Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Dark Knight Rises Role Revealed – Well this is interesting.

Comicvine – WWTCC: More cosplay photos!These get me want to head to Toronto Fan Expo even more.

C2e2 Coverage:

Newsrama – Rucka Returns to Marvel with ‘Back to Basics’ PUNISHER

Bleeding Cool – “I’ll Have A Hawkman Turkey Panini” – That Was C2E2 That Was

Bleeding Cool – Greg Baldino Wraps Up C2E2

Bleeding Cool – Greg Pak Off Hulk, David Liss And Patrick Zircher On Mystery Men, Rob Williams And Rebekah Isaacs On Iron Age, Kyle Higgins And Manuel Garcia On Supreme Power And Brian Bendis Has Left The Building

Bleeding Cool – Garth Ennis To Write Nick Fury MAX Series With Goran Parlov

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Nick Spencer

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Dennis Calero

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Scott Snyder Part 1 (American Vampire)

Comicvine – C2E2 2011: Gail Simone

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Blogomatic 3000 – Greek Street Vol.2 – Cassandra Complex

Bookin Las Vegas – Andrew’s Graphic Novel Picks

Zeismic