DID YOU READ

Five new DC Comics #1s recommended for movie lovers

Five new DC Comics #1s recommended for movie lovers (photo)

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If you don’t follow the world of comics, you’re currently missing out on one hell of an experiment. Stalwart publisher DC — the guys behind Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern — cancelled every single book in their lineup, wiped out most of their decades of intricate story continuity, and restarted 52 series with new first issues. The new books range in genre from war to horror to science-fiction to mysteries, with plenty of super-heroes besides. There’s a few clunkers in the bunch, but there’s a surprisingly high level of quality throughout the line, including some really outstanding books featuring some of DC’s less famous heroes.

So far, “The New 52,” as they’re called, have been a big sales and publicity success for DC. But if you’re a die-hard pop culture lover and a casual comics fan, fifty new books can be pretty intimidating. With that in mind, I made this list of five series that combine quality and accessibility. Most if not all should still be available at your local comic shop (the rest can be found on your iPad with DC’s digital comics app).


all-star-west-10142011.jpgAll-Star Western
For Fans Of: “The Proposition”
Written By: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by: Moritat and Jordi Bernet
High Concept Pitch: A vigilante cowboy plays Sherlock Holmes in the Old West.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: Gray and Palmiotti, haven’t radically reinvented the character of hideously scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex — subject of last year’s infamously bad movie starring Josh Brolin — but they have relocated him to a clever new setting: Gotham City, a.k.a. Batman’s stopping grounds, circa 1880. It may be a hundred years before The Joker and Two-Face, but nineteenth century Gotham is just as crime ridden as its modern counterpart. Hex is hired by the flummoxed Gotham police department to solve a series of Jack The Ripper-ish murders alongside a criminal psychologist named Amadeus Arkham (he’ll later found the Arkham Asylum that houses the Dark Knight’s worst enemies). Gray and Palmitotti’s new crime-fighting pair are a perfect odd couple, and the book’s evocative, sepia-toned artwork by Moritat and Jordi Bernet is as coarse as a woodcut. If the mere involvement of Hex makes you nervous after the Brolin movie, don’t be. I promise you: this gritty crime saga — let’s call it a “paleo-noir” — has as much to do with “Dolphin Tale” as the Jonah Hex flick.


wonder-woman-dcnu-10142011.jpgWonder Woman
For Fans Of: “Clash of the Titans” (the old, good one)
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Cliff Chang
High Concept Pitch: Gods versus humanity with Wonder Woman standing in the middle.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: If any DC character needed a square-one reboot, it was Wonder Woman. Her comic should be any easy sell — decades of appearances on television have made her instantly recognizable — but her increasingly fractured continuity has instead made her comic instantly impenetrable. Writer Brian Azzarello, best known for his crime book “100 Bullets” strips all of that away in the first issue of his new story, which is dark and moody, and full of old Gods acting like total dicks. Azzarello decided not to begin with an origin story, so it’s not yet clear who exactly this version of Diana is, but that’s part why this story will resonate with movie lovers: freed of all that bloated backstory, Azzarello’s “Wonder Woman” is allowed to be a badass globetrotting mystery sprinkled with big action sequences. Old school fans will get their fill of bracelets and lassos, but newbies will be able to follow right along as well. It doesn’t hurt Azzarello’s case that he’s got Cliff Chiang, one of the most gifted and precise illustrators in comics, drawing his script. If you enjoyed the interplay between modern sensibility and antique mythology in films like “300,” this one should strike your fancy.


swamp-thing-10142011.jpg Swamp Thing
For Fans Of: “Altered States”
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Yanick Paquette
High Concept Pitch: A scientist wrestles with his past and possibly his future as the protector of the natural world.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: “Swamp Thing” has a long reputation in the world of comics as one of the medium’s most consistently inventive series. Created in the 1970s by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing began life as the star of horror-tinged superhero adventures. Under the stewardship of Alan Moore (“Watchmen”), the book became more fantasy-based, as the character discovered he was not a man transformed into a plant by a splash of chemicals, but a plant — or maybe the spirit of all plants — transformed into a man, roughly speaking. Writer Scott Snyder, who is also doing a fine job on The New 52’s “Batman,” rejiggers things yet again, with Swamp Thing’s human alter ego, Alec Holland, back from the dead. Then Swamp Thing — or maybe more accurately a Swamp Thing — shows up to try to convince Holland to take on a deadly mission. Snyder’s “Swamp Thing” is a very unusual book; imagine the back-from-the-dead heroics of “The Crow” mixed with the scientist-trips-out-on-fantastical-visions of “Altered States,” and then sprinkle just a whiff of “District 9″‘s man-transforms-against-his-will dramatics, and you’ve got something approaching the very interesting stew of genres and styles bubbling through it. Artist Yanick Paquette (recently of Grant Morrison’s “Batman Incorporated”) ties all those elements together with polished linework and some truly dynamic page layouts.


frankenstein-10142011.jpgFrankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
For Fans Of: “Frankenstein” (Duh), “Hellboy”
Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Alberto Ponticelli
High Concept Pitch:Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a 21st century secret agent.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: Speaking of Morrison, his fingerprints are are all over this new version of the old horror classic, which first debuted in his interlocking 2005 mini-series “Seven Soldiers of Victory.” This Frank is the Shelley character alive (or at least undead) in the present day, working for a secret government agency called S.H.A.D.E. to defend humanity from some of the craziest creatures imaginable. Writer Jeff Lemire gives Frankenstein and his Universal horror-inspired team (there’s a vampire, a werewolf, and more) plenty of freaky critters to pound on in the action scenes, but he also leaves enough panel space to play with the classic “Frankenstein” theme of the monster who reflects on the monstrousness of humanity. Alberto Ponticelli’s Lovecraftian visuals will appeal to horror lovers and the soulful, hideous hero with the team of weirdos fighting potentially world-ending threats should strike a chord with fans of Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy” film.


resurrect-man-10142011.jpgResurrection Man
For Fans Of: “Total Recall”
Written by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by: Fernando Dagnino
High Concept Pitch: Every time a man dies he comes back to life with a new super-power.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: Because writers Abnett and Lanning have got one of the all-time great comic book high concepts on their hands. Mitch Shelley can’t be killed, at least for very long. Whenever he bites the big one, he gets resurrected with a random special ability; one day he might be able to manipulate gravity, the next he could become invincible. DnA (as in “Dan & Andy”) created the character in a short-lived late ’90s series, but this is clearly a premise with a lot more gas in the tank. Now Shelley is back (again…and again…and again…) with more ambiguity around the nature of his powers and his place in the universe. I think “Total Recall” fans will dig this one; even though “Resurrection Man” isn’t really a mind-bending science-fiction book, the two do share a certain structure and tone — the tabula rasa hero who doesn’t quite know who he is or what he can do running for his life lives to stay ahead of shadowy, powerful forces who want to destroy him. Original series artist Butch Guice has been ably replaced Fernando Dagnino, who provides appropriately atmospheric visuals in the strong first issue.


What’s your favorite of the New 52? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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