Wednesday, December 29, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3 (Review)

Written by Art Baltazar & Franco Aureliani
Pencils by Art Baltazar
Cover by Art Baltazar

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

During the second week of December, the all-ages titles came to battle for Top of the Stack. The consistently solid, and previous Top of the Stack winner, Thor: The Mighty Avenger had another great issue, BOOM! Studios brought another big time competitor with an issue of Uncle Scrooge but in the end, it was the most adorable and smartly designed all-ages book that came away as the week's Top of the Stack - Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3.

The regular creative team of Tiny Titans, Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, are behind this mini-series where the characters of Tiny Titans interact with the Archie Universe. In this issue, readers are presented with the usual Tiny Titans humor with the aid from the Archie bunch. Sabrina the Witch meets Raven, Archie gets transported to the Batcave and gets mistaken as the Joker's kid, Jughead and Cyborg have a burger eating contest and Robin gets brought home to meet dad by Veronica. And that is just the beginning.

Baltazar's Tiny Titans style continues in this mini-series and the characters of the Archie universe benefit from the translation, looking just as adorable as the Tiny Titans while keeping their recognizable traits they are known for. And in the spirit of Tiny Titans, in one panel Baltazar draws the entire cast of characters in Joker makeup and cat suits.

This was the last issue of the three part mini-series that fans of all-ages books should definitely read. It is more proof of how brilliant Baltazar's art is along with Franco's writing make them a fantastic creative team. I would not mind reading a Little Archie book or a return for these characters in the Tiny Titans world. Maybe a yearly mini-series would be nice. Either way, the more Tiny Titans content that exists the better.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Tiny Titans themed picspam.

Friday, December 24, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers #1 (Review)

Written by Ian Brill
Pencils by Leonel Castellani
Cover by Leonel Castellani

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

The first week of December turned out to be a light week for releases that made it into my stack, making it the perfect opportunity for an underrated book or new book to stand out among the rest. Add that to my excitement of reading the first issue of BOOM! Studios reintroduction to the world of Disney animated franchise, Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers, and it was easy to see how the premiere issue made it to the top of the stack.

BOOM! put writer Ian Brill on the series, who is already delivering a stellar run on another BOOM! relaunch of a Disney animated series with Darkwing Duck. Like Darkwing Duck, Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers came from Disney's animated television golden era of the late eighties and early nineties and has a fan base waiting to reconnect with those great characters and eager to introduce those worlds to a new generation that missed out.

Right from the start it was noticeable that Brill had captured the spirit of the characters while leaving hints that the characters weren't quite the same since fans last saw them and that the team has some rough spots that need smoothing over. The story brings readers right into the action, as the Rescue Rangers are in the middle of a pursuit of a super-key that is vital to solving the crisis of animals around the world acting out and being dangerous to the public.

Leonel Castellani brings the art to the book and his cover feels like it came right out of the animated series, a perfect eye catcher to those familiar to the series and newcomers alike. Inside, the characters are wonderfully transitioned to the comic pages with Castellani's skill making it possible for them to display a wide range of emotions in a single panel.

Brill brings these long thought dead Disney franchises back to life with such truth and honesty for the characters that as long as he is on this title I trust it to be one of the best stories every month out of BOOM! Studios. Castellani follows his lead with the art and together they seem to be a solid team to launch the series into existence. A definite must read for Disney, animated, and especially Chip N' Dale fans.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers themed picspam.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Detective Comics #871 (Review)

Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Jock
Cover by Jock

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

The week of Thanksgiving may have been one of the best weeks for comic books in recent memory that I can remember. The zero issue to the new ongoing Batwoman series, the series finale of Madame Xanadu, an issue of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and the last issue of the Star Wars: Blood Ties mini-series were just some of the fantastic books to come out during the week but the debut issue of writer Scott Snyder, and artist Jock on Detective Comics blew me away with the quality in its pages and made it an easy pick for the top of the stack.

Snyder comes from the popular Vertigo comic series he created, American Vampire, and steps up to the plate as the main writer of Detective Comics after initially agreeing to be the scribe of the second feature - a story focused on Commissioner Gordon - that is at the back of the issue after the main story written by Snyder.

There are murders happening in Gotham using material that was once the Gotham PD evidence, including connections to Killer Croc, Mad Hatter and possibly Poison Ivy, all orchestrated by the "Dealer". Dick Grayson is on the case and readers are presented with his inner dialogue throughout the issue, something that hasn't truly been explored so far during his time as Batman and Snyder portrays Dick and Commissioner Gordon - the other main character in the story - perfectly. And then in the second feature Snyder creates a story in a completely different tone, a sense of suspense is built in only a short amount of pages making the Commissioner Gordon backup story something worth looking forward to just as much as the main Detective Comics story.

Jock's art is a perfect match for the tone of the story, creating a serious atmosphere with touches of darkness without plunging the book in the grim style that once plagued the Bat books. The cover is a stellar example of Jock's masterful strokes between simplicity and design, creating a stark contrast between Batman, the bats and the rest of the cover. And there is also consideration given to the prior art style on the book, making the transition to a new art team much smoother than expected.

The future is bright for Detective Comics. Despite the new territory the Bat books are exploring, DC has found the perfect team to continue the great quality expected from one of its longest running titles. As a Dick Grayson fan I will be the first to admit that it is hard to find writers that write him well, but Snyder seems to have found Dick's voice in his first try and I look forward to reading a book that was not on my radar anymore.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Detective Comics themed picspam.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FILM: The Beginning of the End - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Review)

Nine years ago the first movie adaptation of the highly popular Harry Potter book series was released to the masses and now four directors and seven films later fans worldwide find themselves facing the end of a decade-long phenomenon with the debut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1". To maintain a sense of familiarity with the films, Warner Bros. kept on David Yates ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/Half-Blood Prince"), now the longest-running director of the franchise and that is with Part 2 still looming in 2011. But would one half of a story make for a good film?

As the first Potter film to be focused away from the comforts of Hogwarts, the story revolves around the trio of Harry, Hermione and Ron like never before. Adapted from the first half of the Deathly Hallows book when Harry, Ron and Hermione are forced to scatter away from the safety of the Order of the Phoenix and aimlessly stumble their way across the lands in search of Voldemort's Horcruxes and discover the existence of another set of items - the Hallows - that may be just as important to find.

Their journey takes them from the Burrow back to 12 Grimmauld Place, camping in the wilderness, along with a visit to the Ministry of Magic, the Lovegoods' home and Malfoy Manor. As a result, this film was clearly the darkest of the series yet, but this was also the most I have ever laughed during a Harry Potter movie. It's an interesting combination for the film to be able to produce varying reactions from the audience, be it fear, tears or laughs.

The performance of the cast was taken to another level for the second consecutive film, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint return as the protagonists of the series and continue to shine in their roles as Harry, Hermione and Ron. Each had special moments in the film, Dan during the seven Potters scene where he had to play different characters pretending to be Harry, Rupert when Ron slowly loses focus on the Horcrux goal and starts to grow discontent with Harry and to an extent Hermione, and Emma as Hermione struggles to keep everything together when things look bleak.

Several new characters made their debut in the film: Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) as the new Minister of Magic, Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson) the oldest Weasley child, Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) a less than respectable member of the Order of the Phoenix, Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans) Luna's father and publisher of the Quibbler, and Albert Runcorn (David O'Hara) a Ministry official that unknowingly becomes part of Harry, Hermione and Ron's Ministry infiltration plans.

Others made their return to the series after being away for a few films: Ollivander (John Hurt) the wand maker, Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy), Dobby (Toby Jones) the house-elf, Kreacher (Simon McBurney), Madame Maxime (Frances de la Tour), Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and the Dursleys (Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling & Fiona Shaw).

Being someone that favors bright, vibrant colors, I have always had an issue with the filters used on Potter films since Prisoner of Azkaban to make the colors muted and give the world a much darker look. This trend continues in this film, but what does change is the scenery for the characters as Hogwarts does not play a part. Instead we see numerous examples of European wilderness during camping scenes, various suburban environments when Hermione leaves her home and when the trio escape from the Weasley Wedding.

The interiors of two family homes, Malfoy and Lovegood, are shown in the film for the first time and accurately represent their respective tenants. The Malfoy home appears grandiose and gives off a dark mood with the current situation of Death Eaters visiting, the Lovegood home is colorful and unique but the underlying vibe of isolation and loneliness is reflected as well.

I was worried that the film would feel stretched as a result of being only half of a story but it did not at all. In fact, the film seemed like a really fast watch, and the chosen cliffhanger point was a great decision that leaves viewers wanting more. The brilliant choices and execution of Part 1 has me very excited for Part 2 next summer. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" gets an A grade and i think it is safe to say that this movie will probably become my favorite of the series within a few more viewings. Go see it now even if you never were a Potter fan, this one in particular seems like a movie that should attract general viewers besides devotees.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows themed picspam.