Iron Man 3
Dir. by Kiss Kiss, starring Bang Bang, written by the pretty drones of north america

It’s important to remember that everything that happens in this film takes place while Tony Stark is trapped in the wormhole in The Avengers.  All of that talk about demons in the opening voice-over?   Not metaphorical.   This is the story of a man whose self has been shattered, trying to work out which shards to save and which ones to cast away.  That’s why none of the characters feel real, except from Tony – they’re all figments, fragments of his essence, their nature and actions defined purely by the gaps in his form.

Having touched heaven, Our Hero sees the way back down to Earth, and realises that it’s angels and demons all the way down:

The kid represents true self love, while Pepper represents tough self love, and having embraced these twin fictions and annihilated his monstrous reflections Stark is free to imagine himself to be healed.

The movie?   Oh, it’s a decent enough post-Iron Man action movie, better than the second film, probably just about as good as the first, and if you find yourself wondering how a movie that gleefully burlesques the absurdity of The War Against Terror (lol TWAT!  lol foreigns!   shout outs to Ben Kingsley!) can also rel on the redemptive power of drones for its ending, just watch old Droney Starks as he swans off into the sunset, wrapped in his latest and most impressive invention – a suit of armour made out of a microscopically thin layer of lies.  That should tell you everything you need to know.

Much Ado About Nothing

Dir. by Captain America, starring your special friends, adapted for the screen by the reanimated head of William Shakespeare

Joss Whedon and co’s Much Ado About Nothing is a goofy, enjoyable movie that’s made just that little big bit sexier by the absence of what you might call Mouse Muscle.  Don’t get me wrong, Whedon organised all of the Mouse Muscle at his disposal well in The Avengers – he even managed to keep yon blockheeded cock who plays Hawkeye out the way for the most part! - but it was always clear who and what was being serviced.

The priorities are different in Much Ado About Nothing, a luxurious indulgence in which Whedon services the script, cast and audience equally.  One of those is you, and another is yours, if you want it to be, and it’s hard not to be flattered in such generous company, but let’s not act like everyone has access to the friends and production values that Whedon makes use of here because the lush setting gives lie to that notion.  Whedon’s house is big, and the shadows it casts are long and dark, so by filling this setting with crisp suits and gun holsters and presenting it in black and white, Whedon successfully dresses up this screwball romance in noir clothing.

Amy Acker’s Beatrice is the main draw here, though Fran Kranz deserves props for managing to make top creeper Claudio’s sudden swings from infatuation to rage seem like the product of a genuine (if unstable) consciousness, and the duo of Tom Lenk and Nathon Fillion deliver the shaky comedy double act of Dogberry and Verges with admirably steady hands.  This story is still Beatrice’s if it’s anyone’s though, and Acker plays her like someone whose “merry” manner is a tightrope, a thin line of barbed jibes from which she cannot imagine herself departing. It’s her role to poke fun at the conventions of the compound she lives in, and also to make the violence that underwrites her existence obvious, to draw it back into the foreground when she feels her cousin wronged.  Alexis Denisof’s Benedict might make the transition from striking hero to total goof in record time, but note how quick he is to agree to violence when Beatrice demands it of him and try to remember that this is a movie about what spooks do on their time off.

Of course, having made it explicit that she lives in a world full of merry killers (a grand house that, like this whole project, has been made possible by the brute force of The Mouse and The Fox and other such creatures) Beatrice then allows herself to be tricked into a happy ending.

Ask yourself, in all honesty: would you do any less?

Click here for more!

Talking Comics #1

April 1st, 2012

Don’t worry, despite the title, this isn’t an attempt to take on the SILENCE! boys at their own game – if I was trying to do that I would have sabotaged Gary Lactus’ spaceship while he was up visiting me in Scorchland, then suggested myself as a replacement for the podcast while “comforting” The Beast Must Die. What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing to win, right?


Talking Comics is an attempt to reanimate that stinkiest of walking corpses, the comics review post. Now I could have called in Mister Attack aka The Eurythmic King of Nowhere aka The Boy Fae the Heed aka Flippant She-Creature like I have the last couple of times in the hopes of making these grizzly bones dance, but I decided to place my faith in technology.

So: rather than writing reviews of last week’s comics the old fashioned way, with fists, I decided to speak my brains into twitter via my smart phone and see what happened.  Unfortunately, since I’m a Scottish, and since the Scottish are natural enemies of voice recognition technology, the results are a little scrambled:

Daredevil #10, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Joe Rivera, Javier Rodriguez and Joe Carmagna.

See, told ya!

More nonce-sense follows!


As you’ve probably noticed, it’s Valentines Day, and since we’ve already established that FEELINGS ABOUT COMICS ARE THE ONLY TRUE FEELINGS, I thought that it might be a good time to get a bit soppy about some of the comics I’ve read recently…

It’s been hard to think loving thoughts about comics in the past week or so (because: WA2CHMEN, Gary Friedrich), but I’m a trooper, and I’ve got my good buddy Mister Attack (aka The Boy Fae the Heed, aka The Beast o’the Bar-G) to keep me company, so here it goes!

Winter Solider #1, by Ed Brubker, Butch Guice and Bettie Breitweiser

Fatale #2, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

It’s a bit awkward to read these two comics back-to-back, and to find yourself preferring the one that’s built on the soiled dreams of Jack Kirby, but it’s also hard to pretend that clean hands make for good art when you’re not a teenage boy.  The first two issues of Brubaker and Phillips’ latest collaboration have proceeded exactly as expected – this is the sort of work (solid, well-crafted, “ugly things in the darkness/worse things in store”) that makes it easy to under-appreciate one of corporate comics’ best partnerships.

It’s perfect pulp, in other words, but at their best these guys can suggest a whole city’s worth of stories in one panel…

…and there’s been nothing in the first couple of issues of Fatale that’s hinted at that sort of imaginative depth. Winter Soldier #1 meanwhile, is absolutely full of potent images. Despite having a truly ugly, gurning cover – despite looking like a superhero book, basically – it’s a sneakily great wee comic, all slick superspy action and unexpected quietness. This panel has caught the attention of a few other commentators

…and rightly so.  Butch Guice’s art here has a softness too it (and not just in the sense that it contains – ugh! – kissing) that couldn’t stand out more in context if it radiated ethical integrity (ooh, burn – take that, comics!). If I was looking to get all thematic on your ass I’d point you in the direction of Clive Barker’s comment that comics aren’t good at making room for love, but I’m not feeling particularly clever today, so instead I’ll  just note that while most individual images will yield lots of strange, abstract patterns if you crop them artfully enough, this image gives itself more readily to this treatment than most:

Look, I don’t want to make too much of a prat of myself this early in the post, but there’s something beautiful about the way that the boundaries between the two characters in this panel seem to have been gently and willingly collapsed, isn’t there?

Yeah… there definitely is. Click here to watch me search for love in all the wrong places, like a character in a story with a blunt moral!

Ambush Bug: Year None #1
Written by keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming
Art by Keith Giffen & Al Milgrom
Published by DC Comics

I can’t actually believe it’s been 15 years since we last had an actual Ambush Comic on the shelves. Barring a few minor cameos the last comic fully dedicated to Irwin Schwab was 1992′s Ambush Bug: Nothing Special. The best thing about this new mini, is that Giffen & co. have picked up exactly where things were left. Same supporting cast (Cheeks! Argh!yle! Jonni DC), same relentless punning and bad gags, same irreverence for the DCU at large (the best joke involves literal women-in-refidgerators, and gives DC editorial a rightly deserved kick to the balls).

Giffen’s art is relatively unchanged – slightly looser perhaps, which might in part be due to the fact that he’s spent the last decade doing breakdowns for other artists. But it’s a joy to see him on full art duties, and the Bug brings out the best in him. Also Robert Loren Fleming is back on dialogue. Where did he go? Do you think he left comics in pursuit of *shudder* artistic credibility? Well this should put the kibosh on that…

More after the jump