Review – Serenity / Star Wars Free Comic Book Day Edition

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 5th, 2012) is Free Comic Book Day and Dark Horse is pulling out all the stops. For the rock bottom price of free you can get this awesome Star Wars and Serenity comic. Both of which are written by the amazing Zack Whedon. Two epic space stories in one comic, could it get any better?

Serenity

Script: Zack Whedon
Pencils and Inks: Fábio Moon
Colors: Cris Peter
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Daniel Dos Santos
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

Captain Tightpants is in a predicament. They seem to follow him wherever he goes. This one however is not his fault. Even though this issue is short, it manages to embody everything we love about Firefly/Serenity. A bad guy wants Serenity, Mal states that under no circumstances will this happen, but unfortunately for Mal the bad guy has other plans. Enter River, some serious ass kicking and you’ve got yourself a winner. This is a must have for fans and with it being free there is no goram reason to not get it!

We also have a story of Han and Chewbacca on a one-off trip in the galaxy.

Star Wars: The Art of The Bad Deal

Script: Zack Whedon
Pencils: Davide Fabbri
Inks: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Michael David Thomas
Cover Art: Adam Hughes
Published By: Dark Horse

The legendary duo pair up for fans in this special freebie. It’s a short sweet bit of what Han is always about, the score and knowing how and when to play a bluff. In his latest deal he proves that sketchy jobs are just part of the fun in space and no one messes with his ship. It’s a fun issue but you do get the feeling that spending so many years in space in this environment might cause some hard friction between people. We see a bit of that shine through in how Chewie and Han engage through the pages and see it’s almost like an old couple bickering over each dispute that pops up.

As a freebie it’s a great treat that can apply to all ages, Chewie fans will no doubt enjoy how much panel time he gets throughout the story and the action scenes that pair with him. Grab it while you can tomorrow even if you’re only a mild fan of these books.

Review – Buffy The Vampire Slayer / The Guild Free Comic Book Day Edition

In honor of Free Comic Book Day (Saturday, May 5th, 2012) Dark Horse is offering a bunch of free goodies. One of which is a Buffy The Vampire Slayer/The Guild comic. Each mini-story is a stand alone and with a price tag of free there is no excuse not to pick one up! As an extra added bonus the end of the comic also features a sneak-peek of Caitlìn R. Kiernan’s Alabaster: Part 2.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: In Space No One Can Hear You Slay

Script: Andrew Chambliss
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Dexter Vines
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Cover: Georges Jeanty and Michelle Madsen
Created By: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

Buffy, in desperate need of a vacation is convinced by Spike to join him and his bug crew for a “spacecation”. While for most a vacation involving a peroxided vampire and his extra-large insects may not seem ideal, for Buffy, it’s just par for the course. All is not good during her space travels though, when it comes to light that bugs may not be immune to zompire attacks. An Alienesque bug anytime would be no fun but trapped on a spaceship with one may be even worse!

The Guild: Beach’d

Story: Felicia Day
Art: Johnathan Case
Cover: Adam Rex
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Published By: Dark Horse

The second half of the comic is The Guild: Beach’d. The Guildies regular hangout, Cheesy Beards, has closed, turning their world upside down and creating a lot of strife between The Guild. They all make suggestions (most of them anyway, Tink thinks they should just stop meeting altogether) but they can’t agree on anything. As a solution, war amongst them breaks out and the last man standing gets to pick the new location. After some intense battle it’s decided that the next meeting will be held at the beach! This of course doesn’t make everyone happy (Codex is covered head to toe) and they all make a mess of things in a way that only The Guild crew could. In the end though they find a solution that appeases everyone and it’s a guarantee that nobody has ever seen anything like it at the beach!

Review – The Avengers (2012) Movie

The wait is over for the latest Marvel Super Hero installment, Marvel has released The Avengers to theaters this weekend and it’s taking off like mad. The new movie spearheaded by Joss Whedon sets out to combine the lives of Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye into a single classic package from the comic world. The article will try to stay as spoiler free as possible so everyone can read it without feeling like I just killed the ending.

Given past experiences this isn’t something that’s a given to go well, many have felt the burn from bad group movies like Fantastic Four and some of X-Men as well. Fortunately Whedon has a history with Marvel in writing story arcs and developing characters across their roster, as a result he has a bit of an understanding about how they work. Add onto this he’s a creator from the genre and understands developmental trends from the Marvel Universes, as a result we get a mixture of hero profiles that set up a great experience without trying to reinvent the wheel, instead he just borrows from the best of all there is to pick from.

The basics are easy, Loki has returned and he’s in for payback, he has an army with him and a plan to launch a full-scale invasion if he’s lucky. With his brother preoccupied elsewhere and his existence thought to be lost to the void he’s on a limited free ride ticket to get into action while he can. Unfortunately this is where things go horribly wrong, in his last trip to Earth he didn’t take the time to absorb the level of the heroes on the planet, as a result he’s stuck with something he didn’t account for, some big names that don’t take kindly to getting shoved around.

As a Marvel movie this hits a lot of points that get missed in regular releases, while running at around 2 hours and 30 minutes from previews to credits it uses the time to create story, relationships, conflicts and resolve without axing too much off. It’s very common to see critical development skimmed through in favor of being flashy or saving time, Whedon doesn’t dive into this all that much and the experience is richer for it. We see a band of heroes that had no real relations jump into the fray with genuine conflict instead of magical cooperation, given the fights that happen in the comic universe it was a relief to see that no one was really happy-go-lucky in the story.

The result of this is an intense experience and one of the most impressive accomplishments is the development of the best Hulk I’ve seen yet in the movies from Marvel right now. The personality development is critical and the focus goes from the random generations of Banner to something closer to the Hulk seen in arcs like Planet Hulk. If there’s a chance to keep that thunder going it would likely prove to renew faith in the franchise even if it was yet another reboot. Other characters like Captain America get a heavy kick to the modern age, we left off with him trying to cope with the modern age but Whedon helps crank a reluctant Captain into full gear by making him step up to the situation at hand.

Other developments include a reformed Thor, while headed toward greater responsibility he’s less of a hot-head figure in the development, using calculated attacks and complete control of the hammer to dish out heavy damage to anyone in his way. The other step up in development came from Iron Man, while there’s no doubt that Tony Stark likes to let it rip, he’s at a technological point where he’s more interested in knowing more and doing more than ever before. While he still gets to be a bit of an ass it’s nothing that dwarfs the rest of the cast in the movie and often serves to develop the story around other characters even more.

While I had a lot of excitement going into The Avengers, it was a true test to see if it held up to expectations, it’s safe to say that it delivers on multiple levels. As a comic movie it brings intense action and storytelling to new levels, it doesn’t short the audience to meet a deadline and it draws a full story experience from start to finish. Joss even finds time to tease other parts of the universe throughout the film to the final seconds before the MPAA rating screen closes out the movie, yes that’s right sit through EVERYTHING, if you leave early you’ll only hurt your own experience.

Visually The Avengers brings intense environments through heavy use of locations and CG implementation, the story sells because they took the time to go through how they sold the comic and kept to that. With so much time taken into making this a major accomplished piece there aren’t any areas that just blatantly scream out that a corner was cut. It’s easy to know so many things are CG in the film but the immersion remains strong throughout the movie and owns what it is by utilizing the technology to the extreme.

Overall it’s an experience to catch although some may need to prepare themselves for it based on the running time. While it is action driven it’s very much about the drama and adventure throughout the story and that may set some fans back. If you’re a general movie fan hoping for a blind rush of action that lacks depth I’d still say try to see this, if you’re looking for a well executed comic movie, you’d only rip yourself off by skipping The Avengers. Now the question remains if Marvel can hold the rest of their movies up to the same bar. For my experience this was one of the most rewarding installments I’ve come across for Marvel movies, I was interested going in with minimal fears and I came out wanting to see it again.

Story:★★★★½ 
Cinematography:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½