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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.