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.)
I was kind of excited to see 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea until I realized it was made by The Asylum, purveyors of such fine motion-pictures as Transmorphers and Snakes on a Train. I mean, I was stoked to see a modern update of 20,000 Leagues that substitutes giant-robot squid for regular, ol’, run-of-the-mill giant squid, but I was also stoked to see a giant cobra fight a giant komodo dragon until I actually saw that movie. (In all fairness, Komodo vs. Cobra wasn’t an Asylum film, but it sure felt like one.)
So my heart sank a little when I realized that 30,000 Leagues was just another attempt by The Asylum to cash in on someone else’s popularity. (Though the last time 20,000 Leagues was anything close to popular was ten yearsearlier than this movie was made, so I’m scratching my head a bit over that one.) And there are problems with 30,000 Leagues. Big ones.
Let’s start off with how misleading that cover is. First of all, no one travels anywhere close to 30,000 leagues in this movie whether over or under the sea. The action sticks pretty close to a single area of the Pacific Ocean where an American sub has gone down in the Marianas Trench. Because the US doesn’t want the sub’s nuclear missiles falling into the wrong hands, they bring in Navy scientist Michael Aronnaux (Lorenzo Lamas) and his mini-sub crew to retrieve the weapons and, if possible, rescue the sailors aboard.
Because Aronnaux is our hero, he naturally bristles at the implied prioritization of US butt-covering over the salvation of human life, but he becomes especially cranky about it when the mission commander turns out to be his ex-wife Conseil (Natalie Stone, who seriously needs to play Elsa Lanchester in a biopic). There’s no updated Ned Land, which is a shame, but I guess they figured Lorenzo was man enough to serve as both him and the professor.
Instead of a reputation for knowing a lot about underwater life, 30,0000’s Aronnaux has developed a machine that converts water into air, forming self-sustaining bubbles underwater. It’s that invention that makes Aronnaux attractive to Captain Nemo (Sean Lawlor, aka William Wallace’s dad in Braveheart), and we quickly learn that it was Nemo who sank the Navy sub in order to draw Aronnaux and his invention there.
One thing I like about this version is its Nemo. He comes across as charming at first, but we soon learn that he’s clearly insane. The other inaccurate thing about the movie poster is that it implies the Nautilus looks like a giant robo-squid, but that’s not true. The Nautilus is no swift-striking attack sub in this film, but a massive, mobile, undersea city with civilians and nightclubs and whatnot aboard. It has giant robo-squid on it though and it sends them out to attack other subs. They’re nowhere near as big as that poster makes them out to be, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome.
And there’s lots of awesome in this film. Nemo’s plan is to use Aronnaux’s invention to create a giant bubble around the ruins of Atlantis, but not before Nemo first blows up the surface world with his new nuclear missiles. New Atlantis, giant robo-squid, Nemo as a madman out to destroy the world, Renegade and the Bride of Frankenstein trying to stop him… what’s not to like?
Unfortunately, this is an Asylum film and that means it was made on the cheap. Except for some stock footage of a Navy destroyer and the ocean floor, I don’t think there’s a single location shot in the whole film. Exteriors don’t match up with interiors, there’s no flow to the action, CGI shots are reused, and Nemo’s brainwashing device (no subtle storyline about Nemo’s winning over Aronnaux by mere persuasion in this movie!) looks like a reused set piece from Ghostbusters.
Yet, for all its faults, I can’t hate the movie. It’s just too much campy, awesome fun. And some of the CGI (reused though it is) is really quite good. The Nautilus looks good, Aronnaux’s mini-sub looks great, and Atlantis and the robo-squid are very, very cool.
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.
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.