This comic is about a month old, because I was going to wait and review the whole three-issue mini-series at once. What changed my mind was taking a look at issue #2 a couple of weeks ago and remembering that they’re charging $3.99 per issue. I’m drawing a line around what I’ll spend for a stapled comic (as opposed to one that’s got a spine and goes on my bookshelf) and, except for the occasional one-shot super-duper-sized special, that line is $3. As Marvel and DC sneak their monthly series up into the $4/issue range, I’m becoming hard-nosed about what I’ll pay for.
IDW and some other smaller publishers have been charging $4 per issue for a while now and I haven’t minded it because it was rare compared to the rest of my monthly pile o’ comics. But now with Marvel and DC getting up there, I’m just not willing to pay that much anymore. Especially when the more economic book collections are always right around the corner.
So, I’ll check out the collected Monsterpocalypse book when it comes out, but instead of waiting that long to talk about it here, I thought a few, quick words about first impressions might be in order.
Generally speaking, I like the first issue. It’s different enough from what Jason and I are doing with Kill All Monsters that I’m not concerned about comparisons. Writer Stephan Nilson’s giant mechs are crew-driven as opposed to the single-pilot mechs in KAM. You wouldn’t think that would be a huge difference, but Nilson is really focusing on the crew of one particular mech whereas Jason and I are telling the story of three different pilots, meaning that we get to see more giant robots more often.
I’m not implying that more robots are inherently better though. “Better” comes down to the story you’re telling and Nilson’s off to a great start with his. The crew of the giant mech named Sky Sentinel is getting a new commander now that their former one’s been promoted to a sleeker, more prestigious mech called Defender X. There’s plently of robot vs. monster action, but the real story is about the crew’s dealing with its disappointment as the members fight amongst themselves and with their new commander. It’s an interesting approach and I’m counting on being able to watch the dysfunctional team pull together. I’m a sucker for that kind of story.
I’m just going to have to wait a while to read the rest of it.
In 123 AD, a disgraced Roman war hero is sent to defend a Roman garrison stationed in remote Scotland from a spate of mysterious killings. The hero reclaims his rightful warrior status by uniting with the local Druids and vanquishing a terrifying supernatural beast.
JOHNNY MONSTER #1 (of 3) story JOSHUA WILLIAMSON art & cover J.C. GRANDE
Johnny Monster is the world’s foremost super-star monster hunter, but what the world doesn’t know is that he was raised by the same monsters he’s “hunting”! Now, in order to save his adoptive family…he must fight them! From the acclaimed writer of DEAR DRACULA and Necessary Evil, Johnny Monster mixes Tom Strong with Godzilla movies by way of Tarzan and the Phantom to create a compelling and different monster mash!
FEBUARY 18 – 32 PAGES – FC – $3.50
(There’s actually a lot of cool stuff coming from Image in February, but I’ll save the other interesting ones to talk about next week.)
Okay, obviously I was just kidding with that “no more comics” crack. There’s always room for more awesome. Like Moonstone’s Phantom comics, which are soon rebooting. According to the press release I got, they’re leaning towards “edgier stories” that are “torn from today’s headlines of modern day Africa.” I’m not sure that’s the direction I’m most interested in, but I loves me some Phantom, so I’ll give it a shot.
They also promise “new issues more often,” which will also be nice.
The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks #1 will be written by David Michelinie and Mike Bullock, illustrated by Silvestre Szilagyi, and will have a variant cover by legendary Phantom artist Sy Barry.
Okay, last one of these for a while. Tomorrow we’ll move on to something else. Maybe something spooky.
For the sake of completeness, I watched this 1985 animated Australian version of 20,000 Leagues. Not expecting much, by the way. I had in mind that it would probably be one of those cheap knock-off videos you see at the grocery store. Not really though. I was pleasantly surprised.
There’s even a name actor in the voice cast. At least Tom Burlinson was a name actor back in the ’80s when he starred in The Man From Snowy River. He plays Ned Land here and it strikes me that the more famous Ned (Kirk Douglas) was also in Snowy River. Interesting coincidence, if it is a coincidence.
The animation, while not Disney-quality, isn’t too shabby either. At least the character designs are interesting. Nemo is kind of a fat guy, which is an interesting choice, but not invalid. I like how Aronnax and Conseil look like they come out of European comics, especially Conseil. Ned Land (a Canadian in the novel) is built like a lumberjack.
The Nautilus is a nice combination of the novel’s cigar-shaped vessel and Disney’s stylized steampunk version. There’s nothing fancy about the way people and things move in general and most of the acting is choppy, but there are some nice animation moments where boats bob and float like they should and characters move underwater like they should. The giant squid is also nicely done with tentacles that whip around dangerously.
It’s interesting that the squid fight is moved up in the story to pretty much right after Aronnax and Company board the Nautilus. The movie’s only about 50 minutes long, so the story is super compressed and that’s just about perfect. They keep the tension between Aronnax and Nemo as well as the conflict between Aronnax/Nemo and Ned. Conseil (as in the novel) pretty much agrees to whatever Aronnax wants to do. They also hit the most memorable parts of the novel like Ned’s adventure on the island, the sinking of the warship, the undersea funeral, and Atlantis, while skipping over the boring bits.
And for Atlantis, they punch it up a notch by adding giant crabs.
All in all, not shabby in the least. The opening framing sequence is too long, but it’s pretty to look at, so it’s not awful. There’s some slapstick for the kids, but most of it’s genuinely funny instead of irritating. The sound is snazzy too, especially with surround-sound. Any time the characters are on board the Nautilus there’s always background noise of clanking and humming as the ship goes about its work. It added a lot to the experience.
This would be a pretty cool introduction to the story for children. Not as cool as the Disney version, of course, but if time or attention spans are an issue (for you or for any kids in the audience), it’s an enjoyable substitute.
I must have seen Mysterious Island as a kid, because a lot of it looked familiar. Or maybe I’d just seen lots of clips from Ray Harryhausen tributes. Either way, I can’t believe I made it this long into adulthood without watching it (again?).
Yay for Turner Classic Movies though. And it feels kind of appropriate to watch it now since I’ve just watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It would’ve been even more appropriate to watch after the Disney 20,000 Leagues, which is a lot closer to this movie in tone and look than the Richard Crenna movie, but oh well. It was still cool catching up with Captain Nemo. And a much cooler version than Crenna’s pal, too.
If you haven’t seen it, Mysterious Island is the story of some Union soldiers and a reporter who escape from a Confederate prison camp in a hot air balloon towards the end of the Civil War. A Confederate guard jumps into the basket to try to stop them and ends up stuck with them too. Unfortunately, there’s a huge storm going on and it blows them clear across the continent and over the Pacific Ocean. Eventually they come down on the titular island and have to learn to work together to survive giant crab attacks and pirates. It’s pretty awesome.
The group is prettied up when a couple of English women are stranded on the island after their ship wrecks. They’re a rich woman and her niece, and at first they come across a bit entitled, but they integrate with the camp pretty quickly. And lucky for the men, the aunt can sew, so she makes jungle clothes for everyone including a skimpy outfit for her niece.
I won’t spoil how Nemo shows up or what role he plays, but he does show up to add an extra helping of awesome to the plate. He’s played by Herbert Lom (Chief Inspector Dreyfus from the Pink Panther movies) who’s doing his best to equal James Mason’s version from the Disney film. He doesn’t quite make it, but he comes close. His goofy seashell diving gear hurts him, but he’s much more animated and exotic than Ben Cross’ version in the Crenna film). Lom even plays Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (but then, so did Cross, which was the coolest thing about him).
The Nautilus is also clearly ripped off from the Disney version, just as it should’ve been.
According to IMDB, the original concept for the movie was to shoot it as a straight survival story (inspired in part by the success of another Disney movie, Swiss Family Robinson), but the producers thought that was boring and ordered some giant monsters. So, yay, producer meddling!
Speaking of previous versions, there’s a giant bird attack at one point that was held over from an early draft that featured prehistoric beasts. As much as I like dinosaurs, I’m more than okay with the giant crab, bees, and nautilus in this movie. Part of what made it so cool and interesting is that I never knew what to expect next. Dinosaurs are great, but I don’t think I would have thrilled to a T-Rex half as much as I did to that crab.
My only complaints about the movie have to do with the ladies’ not kicking enough butt and there not being enough Nemo in general. It could have been just a little bit more awesome than it was.
I don’t play Collectible Card Games anymore. There’s something I don’t like about a game where the person with the most disposable income is able to buy rarer, more powerful cards and dominate. So, while I’m tempted by the concept and the gorgeous art I’ve seen so far, I won’t be playing the Monsterpocalypse card game.
I will however be reading the comic book. It sounds a lot like Kill All Monsters!, but I say there’s room for everyone’s giant robots vs. giant monsters comics.
Good news for giant monster fans. Especially for fans of giant monsters who live on South Pacific islands. Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Nima Sorat’s Monster Attack Network has been bought by Disney for development into a feature film.
Kind of puts me in the mood to share some giant monsters of my (and Jason Copland’s) own…
Steve’s writing the best Batman comic being published right now. Gotham After Midnight is a 12-issue mini-series that not only pits Batman against a creepy, new menace, but also against some of his classic villains who are mysteriously deviating from their standard methods of operation. It’s super-fun and Kelley Jones is obviously having a great time drawing whatever insane things pop into his head. His Batman with the crazy-ass cape has never looked so awesome.
And then there’s the most recent issue.
Okay, first of all, that title “The Malleable Menace” is awesome. But even better is the story that has Clayface learning to increase his size by absorbing more and more of Gotham’s citizens. Eventually, he gets so big that there’s no way Batman’s going to be able to handle him the conventional way.
So of course Steve does the only rational thing and turns it into a giant robot vs. giant monster comic.
Ha! Look at Clayface’s face! Issue #4 is going to be goooooood.