Saturday, November 29, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

Alex + Ada #10
Alex + Ada #10: I don’t know if writers Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn have every step of this book planned or are making it up issue by issue, but they are building one of the finest sci fi stories I’ve ever read. “Epic” is not the correct term; it’s just a quiet character study of a guy and his robot girlfriend. But the themes in the book hit many emotional hot buttons, especially if you’re single. In this issue Ada, an android with her sentience activated illegally, searches out Alex’s friends for help after an awkward rejection from Alex and an unexpected loss of energy. As she collapses on their doorstep, the couple assist happily enough, but they also contact Alex to alert him, against Ada’s wishes. When Alex arrives, he sets the tone for a major change in their relationship.  

There are some key turning points in this issue, as Alex receives a visit from an old girlfriend and finds resolution to their relationship. At least one person walks away unhappy. How will he relate to Ada after that? The ending is what readers have been waiting for since issue #1, with a final page plot point that moves the story into its next phase. Excellent. Every issue of A+A is a treat.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars.

The Kitchen #1
The Kitchen #1: The ‘70s. Hell’s Kitchen, New York. When their gangster husbands go to prison, Irish-American housewives Kath, Raven and Angie decide to take over their husbands’ various rackets. Running protection, numbers and prostitution games are not the problem; running them profitably and being taken seriously is. Kath is volatile and wants to shoot first and ask questions later—how dare some mook stand up to her? “Do you know who my husband is?” is a question she asks more than once. Raven is on board with the plan but wants to do things the smart way so as few people as possible get hurt—including them. Angie’s not that bright and is basically along for the ride. If they get any cooperation from anyone, she’s happy. 

Interior page from The Kitchen
This introductory issue sets up the premise and shines a bit of light on the characters and their personalities. The ladies also get themselves—or rather Kath gets them—into a situation in which they’re in over their heads before they get started. Kath lets her husband’s regular “clients” know the new status quo. The pushback begins instantly and I’m sure will continue to be a large part of the series. It remains to be seen if this is just a study in female violence or a cautionary tale with things to say about the human condition. Written in a hard-boiled, serious vein by Ollie Masters with outstanding art and design by Ming Doyle, I’ll stick with The Kitchen for now to see where it goes. Hopefully the series will pay off some of the early promise of this debut.  

Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Grendel vs. The Shadow #3
Grendel vs. The Shadow #3: This city-shaking battle of Titans comes to a close. So far it’s been a game of wits, guns and blades and both sides have taken their losses. The Shadow thwarts Grendel’s every initiative, but can’t outright stop him. Grendel can hold his own in confrontations with the Shadow, but can’t defeat him. Tired of the detente, The Shadow tracks Grendel down to a smoky New York rooftop for a final battle. Unknown to them both, they have already been betrayed by the least expected player in their drama. Although no one’s mortality is definitively threatened (did you think it would be?), there is a clear and final winner to their contest.

In the end all the toys are put back in place, but Grendel vs. The Shadow is a brilliant, pulpy look at what might have been. Highly recommended.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

The Fade Out #3
The Fade Out #3: I am an enormous fan of both writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips, especially the projects they have created together. But their newest collaboration just isn’t resonating for me as much as their previous work. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like here. The art, starting with this issue’s cover, surpasses even Phillips’ high standards. And the noirish story is well-told and keeps the reader’s attention. But unlike most of Brubaker’s previous work, there is no real point-of-view character, it is more of an ensemble cast than his other books. There are no likable or even sympathetic characters to root for or be horrified by. It doesn’t help that I have read up on that period in early Hollywood history and the truth is far more interesting than this fiction. I tend to look forward to the Hollywood essays in the back of the book even more than the main story. This issue’s subject is “Johnny Stomp,” the story of Lana Turner’s Italian torpedo boyfriend Johnny Stompanato. The story is fascinating, with the abusive and jealous Johnny abusing Lana, scaring a young Sean Connery so bad he left town, and ultimately being stabbed to death by Turner’s lesbian daughter.

The Fade Out is good, and manages to stand out just fine in a sea of duller comics. Only being on issue three, I hope it eventually manages to amaze as much as Brubaker/Phillips stories usually do.

Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Spider-Woman #1
Spider-Woman #1: Spider-Woman #1 is one of the worst first issues I have ever read. The book does not do one thing that makes debut issues work. First issues should explain who the characters are, what they want, and introduce the reader to the cast and their world. Instead, readers are thrust into the middle of part 37 of an 84-part crossover. None of the myriad characters are introduced, the storyline is both complex and dull, and nothing is explained. There is a two-paragraph text introduction in the front of the book, but that’s not where the story should be told, especially not in a first issue. Who are these characters? Why are they together? Why do they all have spider powers? Who are the villains? What do they want? Why do they want it? I guess you have to read all the parts leading up to this to have a clue. Fledgling writers take a note, this is exactly how not to do it. This is easily the worst comic I’ve read this year, and I’ve liked writer Dennis Hopeless’ work in the past.

Censored Variant Cover 
The art by Greg Land is fantastic, and the main reason I bought this issue. I did notice Marvel chickened out on the Milo Manara alternate cover, blocking any objectionable parts with the logo, even though there was nothing wrong with the art. The politically correct self-censorers at Marvel should just bring back the Comics Code. That way no one will ever have to be offended, ever. I won’t be coming back for issue #2.

Rating: ** out of 5 stars (for Greg Land’s artwork)

Winterworld #4
Winterworld #4: Chuck Dixon keeps brilliantly building his post-apocalyptic, deep-freeze world. In this issue, Scully and his fourteen year-old charge Wynn are visiting a nice coastal town with an unusually friendly demeanor. The townsfolk even nickname Wynn “El Nina” and welcome her as one of their own. Then they ... give her a cowbell? That’s a little strange, until they imprison Scully and send Wynn out on the ice as a human sacrifice to ... something. When Scully gets free, he decides to teach the “Wicker Man” villagers it’s not polite to abuse teenage girls, or abandon them on ice flows. And boy do they get the message. This is the last issue with Butch Guice art, and he will be missed. He is one of the outright best storytellers in the business, and his collaborations with Dixon have all been top-notch. I really like this book.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Birthright #2
Birthright #2: Birthright is a bright new book with a strong storytelling voice. A unique premise is like gold in any storytelling medium, and every page bursts with original ideas. Mikey is a normal 8 year-old kid who likes to play in the woods. One day, he doesn’t come back. Five years later, a thirty year-old man appears, armed to the teeth and dressed like a Renaissance Faire reject, claiming to be Mikey. The police don’t know what to make of it. His parents, out of their minds with grief, guilt and relief, don’t either. And Mikey’s older brother Brennan, now much younger, is both glad to see his brother and intensely curious about what he’s been up to. And why he’s dressed like Aragorn.

In bits and pieces, it is revealed that Mikey has been raised and trained as the chosen warrior in a fantasy world, where time passes differently, fighting the usual evil monsters. He says he returned to Earth because the evil he defeated in the other world now threatens to destroy us. In police custody, Mikey pleads with Brennan and his parents to believe him and welcome him back. When the fingerprints come back proving the stranger is Mikey, everyone has some big decisions to make.

While I hate to ruin the main twist in the story, I would like to give people a reason why this book is different. Let’s just say ... while Mikey is being honest about who he is, he may not be telling the truth about what happened in the other world. And he may not be working for the good guys ... Birthright is a fresh look at some traditional fantasy ideas from a welcome yet skewed point of view. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Weird Love #4
Weird Love #4: Perhaps the best issue yet of the greatest and most twisted romance tales from the '50s, '60s and '70s! Stories include:

- Too Fat to Frug (Love Diary #47, 1967). I think this story boils the mad, mod ‘60s down to their patchouli-scented essence. Life was wonderful for Sharon Carr, the go-to Cage Queen at the local discotheque. Until she met Bus Wayne, the new Beatle-esque band singer. She falls quickly and hard for Bus, but is mortified when he takes a side glance at the new singer Sheila. Yup, that’s right, Bus didn’t try to break it off with Sharon or express any desire to date Sheila, he just gave her a sidelong glance. This is enough to make the volatile Sharon give the Bus a good slap and shout “Casanova!” at the top of her lungs. To quote Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” Immediately sorry for her minor overreaction (ah-hem) Sharon drowns her lonely sorrows in fried foods, ice cream, and fried ice cream. When Sharon goes to the doctor for help losing her new folds of fat, he tells her, “I’m sorry, Sharon, there’s nothing I can do for you! Your glands have been disturbed by your over-eating! I’m afraid you’ll be this way for the rest of your life!” To which Sharon replies, “OOOhh NOOO!” Really, what else is she going to say? Thanks for the true and accurate medical advice, Dr. Mengele. Distraught, the now morbidly obese Sharon makes her peace with losing Bus, continues her strict Ho-Ho diet, and finds a fat guy to date. Really. That’s how it ends. The ‘60s, ladies and gentlemen! I’m still not sure what “frugging” is.

- I Was a Border Racket Girl (Sweethearts #107, 1952). Amy is poor and wants more out of life. Her pal Dot turns her on to the Border Racket—marrying foreigners who want to get into the U.S. for some easy cash! They come to the U.S., then get a divorce a few months later and Dot goes back for the next terrorist upstanding immigrant. Was that really a thing? Amy meets French Canadian Rene and assumes he wants in on the Border Racket. As their romance turns real, Amy is not sure she can go through with it. But she wants Rene to meet his terrorist pals achieve the American dream, so she marries him. When she holds out her hand for some cash, Amy finds out Rene loves her and truly wanted her hand in marriage. Repulsed by Amy’s mercenary lifestyle, Rene leaves in a huff (probably to find an ATM). He later returns, cause, ya know, she is hot. Amy agrees to turn herself in and come back to him an honest felon. I guess they’re staying married after all, at least for 3-5 years!

- Flirtation on Wheels (Teen-Age Temptations #4, 1953). Pam is too ashamed to live, as she should be. She is the lowest form of life—a trailer park girl! Because her father is a freelance engineer, they must uproot regularly and go from town to town in—a trailer! Pam quickly gets the message from other kids in her various schools—you’re trailer trash! The only type of man to pay attention to her is her latest scummy neighbor, Don. When she meets rich boy Adam, she pretends to be the granddaughter of the richest lady in town. After their dates, Adam drops her off at the gates of the richie mansion, and poor Amy has to hoof it home on her own! But how can she tell Adam she’s ... trailer trash? When Adam finds the truth, which he’s known from the beginning since he’s the grandson of the richest woman in town and he’s not dating his sister, he’s okay with slumming a bit. But Pam is so ashamed—thinking Adam will reject her, she runs straight into Don’s arms. Avoid the lit cigarette, Pam! And the cheap Vodka breath! Will our lovebirds find happiness? I’m sure they will, these things always work out, don’t they?

Other stories in this issue include “Two Faced Woman,” about a man who likes ugly women, and “A Monster’s Kisses,” about a new bride who loses it over the fact her husband won’t shave every day on their honeymoon. There are also some priceless one-page features, such as “Men You Shouldn’t Marry” and “Love Dancing.” Weird Love is a perverse, subversive commentary on American romance, and should be banned from all decent and law-abiding homes. How I love it!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Princess Rap Battles: Galadriel vs. Leia

This nerd catnip made me laugh:

From very talented comedienne Whitney Avalon. If the video has trouble loading , follow the link here. Totally worth your valuable time, especially the last dig from Galadriel.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fan Film: Batman vs. Darth Vader

This, my friends, is truly awesome.

This 6-minute fan film seems to have trouble loading. If so, the direct link is here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Books - Sanctuary Seeker by Bernard Knight

This is the first volume in the "Crowner John" medieval mystery series. Sir John is a county coroner, a newly established office in England in the 12th Century. His job is to investigate deaths in his county. A former crusader, he took the post mostly because his shrewish wife wants him to improve his station. He is at odds with his brother-in-law, the weaselly local sheriff, about jurisdictional and authority issues. I love medieval stories, and this book sheds some welcome light onto the culture and justice system (or lack thereof) of that time.
In Sanctuary Seeker, Sir John is on the trail of a murderer, and there are many suspects from whom to choose. In the 1100s, England still made use of trial by "Ordeal," where innocence or guilt is decided by some bat-crap crazy ideas. For example, one suspect must reach shoulder-deep into a boiling caldron and pull out a pebble. If there is no damage to his arm, he is innocent. Of course burns mean guilt. God would protect an innocent man. You'd think someone would notice that every suspect who ever underwent such ordeals turned out to be guilty. People weren't dumb then ... just too superstitious? Did they cling too much to their swords and religion?

Sir John is a different kind of detective. He's intelligent, but no genius. He's not that curious, and has no drive to find the absolute truth, like some fictional detectives. He's just doing his job, and as an honorable man, trying to do it well and fairly against an unjust system. The story is a rather straightforward mystery that is more about characters and motivations than shocks or big reveals. The ending is satisfying and wraps up the story nicely. I will read the other mysteries in the series, but not with a particular sense of urgency.

Rating: ***½ out of 5 stars

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movies - Kahaani

As a movie buff, I love films from all over the world. Subtitles do not bother me. Any well-told story that keeps my attention and offers fresh ideas or storytelling is welcome. I’ve seen movies originating from France, Spain, Canada, England, Norway, Japan, China, Thailand and Korea. However, until recently I’ve never seen a Bollywood movie.
Bollywood refers to the Hindi language film industry, based in Mumbai, India. People often mistakenly refer to every Indian film as a Bollywood movie, although technically the term refers only to films produced in Mumbai, the “Hollywood” of the Far East. Bollywood is only a part of the enormous Indian film business, which includes multiple production facilities producing films in multiple languages. Popular subjects include Indian historicals, crime thrillers and large-scale musicals with spectacular dance numbers. There is incredible energy in Indian films.
Vidya Balan
In Kahaani (Hindi for “story”) Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) is a very pregnant woman who travels across India to the city of Kolkata to search for her missing husband. It seems he left her some weeks ago for a short IT job in the city and never returned. Shuffling pregantly across town, she reports him missing to the local police and is befriended by a kind-hearted cop, Satyoki "Rana" Sinha (Parambrata Chatterjee). Rana feels sorry for her plight and agrees to help her track down her husband. The problem is, no one has ever heard of him. The office where he was supposed to work has no record of him. He never checked in to his reported hotel. Vidya and Rana travel to her husband’s nearby hometown, only to find his neighbors and even his aunt and uncle claim to have never heard of him.
Vidya, an IT expert herself, uses the police computers to try and get a line on her husband. As the search gets more and more complex, outside forces make it clear that Vidya’s husband—and Vidya herself—would be better off if he remained missing. Through the search, Rana falls desperately in love with Vidya. The actors portray it so organically—a touch here, a glance there. It is never even mentioned by the characters, but it is sweet how Rana’s pity turns to admiration to a crush to head over heels. As they follow clues and get in way over their heads, the story falls together like a massive jigsaw puzzle. At the end is one of the most mind-blowing twists I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. It was a shocking surprise out of nowhere, yet made perfect sense and was a satisfying resolution to the story.
The production values of Kahaani are amazing—the city of Kolkata is almost a main character. It didn’t hurt that the movie takes place during the Indian festival of Durga Puja, so the streets are filled with performers, dancing and color. It’s sort of like an Indian Mardi Gras. I absolutely loved Kahaani, from the story to the acting to the lush cinematography to the astonishing ending. It may have been my first Bollywood movie, but it won’t be my last. Try it, you’ll love it.
Kahaani is available on Netflix streaming.
Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Manga: Another by Yukito Ayatsuji and Hiro Kiyohara

Yomiyama Middle School in Yomiyama, Japan is a strange place. Starting in the 1980s, every few years several students in third year class 3, or people close to them, die. The deaths are from accidents or disease, everything looks perfectly natural—but it’s not. There is a powerful curse on the class. After a year where the deaths happen, students slowly forget about the phenomenon, and parents are never alerted to the danger. However, there is a slight shadow of class memory that realizes something is wrong and forces students to take precautions to stop it.
Koichi Sakikibara is a late transfer to third year class 3. He doesn’t know the rules and no one has time to tell him, so it’s not his fault when he breaks them and people start to die. But can the deaths be stopped? That’s what Koichi and his friend, the beautiful and mysterious Mei Misaki, have to find out.
Another is a brilliant horror manga that is all the more disturbing for the ages of the characters involved. These are older teenagers, some of whom die horribly because of the curse. It can also strike family members, up to two degrees of relation away. Because Koichi broke the rules and started the deaths, and Mei was involved unwittingly in helping him, they are blamed by the class and shunned by their classmates. The two, especially Koichi, whose mother was killed by it the year he was born, are obsessed with the curse and stopping it before anyone else dies. Particularly him.
Although over 700 pages in one volume, Another is an enthralling, fairly quick read. I kept turning pages to see who was next to go and how Koichi and Mei find the next clue to stopping the curse. Also, why is there a curse? How did it start? And can it really be stopped? The answers have some unexpected twists, especially regarding how things involve Koichi’s own family. Creepy and addicting, Another is a page-turner you won’t be able to put down. Highly recommended.
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TV Rampage

TV Rampage - Television Reviews
A look at some current television offerings.

The Gotham pilot was excellent, immersing viewers in the early origin of Bruce Wayne as Batman and explaining what kind of city Gotham is (corrupt, naturally). What it didn’t explain is why it exists. Is this a superhero show? No. Is it a police procedural? Not entirely, but somewhat and we don’t need another one. Is it straight action/adventure? Sort of. I’m still not sure, which means the writers and producers aren’t either. Ben McKenzie does a good job playing Detective (eventually Commissioner, I presume) Gordon. He’s a square and a sincere good guy—the only one in Gotham City, apparently. Donal Logue plays Harvey Bullock, a cop on the take with a lazy—but not absent—sense of right and wrong. David Mazouz is a bit dry as the recently orphaned Bruce Wayne, but hopefully he’ll be a more intricate part of the show as it ages. Several proto-Batman villains are introduced, including the Falcone and Maroni crime families, the Riddler and the Penguin. Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin is the breakout character—the actor steals every scene he’s in and is an absolute delight. Otherwise, I’m not sure what we’re doing here. There are seeds of a good crime show—recent episodes are improving exponentially—but at its base this is a Batman show without Batman. I really don’t want to see Bruce Wayne mope around Wayne mansion taking boxing lessons from Alfred for 10 years. The jury is out as yet, but overall I generally like it. It could go either way depending on what they do with the concept. Convince me it has legs and a reason to exist and I’m in.

Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Based on one of my all-time favorite comics, Hellblazer, Constantine does a damn sight better job adapting the source material than the 2005 Keanu Reeves movie. In the long-running comic, John Constantine is a rake and rogue who would sell you his mother if he hadn’t already sold her to five other people. He’s a crass, snarky, chain-smoking scouser who dabbles in magic and usually ends up getting anyone close to him killed. Or worse. I didn’t imagine a character on NBC would be half of that, and he’s not. But an argument can be made that they did as much as they could to keep him Constantine while making him safe for network television. I liked, but didn’t love, the pilot. The comic book Constantine is darkly funny and almost always keeps his cool in the most dangerous situations. The TV Constantine (Welsh actor Matt Ryan) is a voice-raising, gesticulating git who puts “Master of the Dark Arts” on his business cards—at least he has the decency to be embarrassed about it. The comic book Constantine would have this guy for breakfast, but there is charm and a hint of darkness in Ryan’s portrayal. And physically, he is the comic book Constantine (originally visually based on the singer Sting). I liked the second episode better, and they even let Constantine hold a cigarette and lighter for five seconds (without lighting up, of course). I’m 100% anti-smoking, but that’s who the character is. Let him be that. The show is enjoyable so far and, while not the comic book character, may be a version of the Hellblazer I can grow to like.

Rating: ***½ out of 5 stars

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2
Sorry, I just can’t get into this show. I gave up in disgust about the middle of the first season last year, then gave it another chance this year. Despite the occasional Marvel Easter Egg thrown in, it’s a dull exercise in viewer torture that should be called S.H.I.E.L.D: Project Supermodel. Not recommended.

Rating: ** out of 5 stars

Arrow and The Flash
Gee, I’d really like to review Arrow’s third season and the new Flash show, but Dish Network, despite their promise to carry local stations, doesn’t carry the CW Network. It’s not as if the CW is a backwoods UHF station out of Baton Rouge. This is a national network with popular shows. When I called Dish to politely ask if they could, as promised, carry the CW, they suggested I buy a rabbit ears antenna and try to catch it on the airwaves. It’s 2014, fellas. I don’t want a rabbit ears antenna on my TV. That’s not why I pay you a king’s ransom every month. I have 400 channels I don’t watch and they refuse to carry the one I want. Just do the right thing, will you Dish?

The Killing: Season 4
This is the final season of the murder drama The Killing, only available on Netflix Streaming. These last six episodes are a Netflix original. The Killing is about an annoying drug addict and the world's worst mother teaming up as Seattle detectives and solving crimes. This season’s plot deals with a boy in a military school whose family is brutally murdered. He is the prime suspect, but could a teenage boy really kill his entire family? Including the little sister he adored? There really is some great writing and drama here as the writers close the doors on this show. The always-great Joan Allen guests as the head of the military academy and does her usual outstanding job. The detectives are also dealing with events of last season, which had the world's worst mother committing a crime herself and dealing with the consequences this season. This is a satisfying ending to an above average series. Well worth watching.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Sons of Anarchy: Season 7
SOA has been written like Shakespeare on Harleys for six brilliant seasons. But they’re wrapping it up this year and it’s time to go. Reminiscent of Oz and other violent crime dramas, they have to keep upping the ante every year; the sex, the violence, the body count, the treachery. It was a great run, but now by Season 7 there is no good man or woman left, and certainly no one to root for. If it lasted any longer the show would be a straight parody of itself. That’s sad; protagonist Jax was never a choirboy, but now he’s more evil than the bad guys he used to battle (if he was ever fighting for anything other than power). His mother Gemma (the Lady Macbeth of SOA), the one person who kept the family together with an iron hand, is a compulsive liar and homicidal maniac. Her actions this season have led to the deaths of scores of innocent and not so innocent people. Every member of SAMCRO is an irredeemable, murderous thug now. The only acceptable ending for those left alive is a long prison sentence. I can’t wait to see how it all ends, but in the few episodes left I predict a lot more death. And no one, especially Jax or Gemma, should be able to just walk away. Anything less than death or prison will not provide proper closure to the series.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Walking Dead: Season 5
Commentator Bill O’Reilly had some friends recommend The Walking Dead to him. He tuned into it for five or so minutes one night and was completely repulsed. Talking about it on his show, he declined ever watching again and said, “No thanks. I’ll keep my humanity.” What a drama queen. But I do understand that attitude from sci-fi civilians—it’s not for everyone. If you don’t mind violent zombie attacks and a minute examination of humanity at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, tune in for a riveting hour of television each week. This is probably, without Fargo, True Detective or Mad Men on the air right now, the best-written show on TV. The show is sometimes non-linear, and takes advantage of its sprawling, talented cast. No show is cast better, and no show has better special effects. Who would have thought a show about the zombie apocalypse and its aftermath would be must-see TV? But it is. Sometimes an episode will end and I will literally let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Just when you think the show is going to zig, it zags violently to the left. And leaves a mark. Watch it. If you have a strong stomach, it will both entertain and make you think.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Monday, November 3, 2014

Movies –Marvel Studios Phase 3 Movie Announcements

Last week Marvel announced their Phase 3 movie slate from now until 2020. Let’s take a look.

2016: Captain America 3: Civil War
This is one of the only movies on the slate I’m not super excited about. The Civil War comic storyline, on which I presume this will be based, was terrible. Heroes fought heroes about something they should have discussed, not tried to kill each other over. It was written by the awful Mark Millar, king of plot-hammering and out of character dialog and characterization. The plot will apparently be Captain America against Iron Man, with other heroes backing each side. I would rather see them fight Kang (or some other villain) together. Marvel movie time is too scarce to waste on infighting.

2016: Dr. Strange
Dr. Strange is a favorite character. There have been some great comic book runs on Dr. Strange, but overall Marvel has never really known what to do with him. They’ve started with some great casting, as Benedict Cumberbatch has recently signed to play him. That’s a great choice. One thing: Marvel is scared to death of any costume remotely like characters wear in comics. This is essential for Dr. Strange as he has one of the best comic book costumes, especially the dynamic “cloak of levitation.” Here’s hoping they stick with Ditko’s perfect design, rather than that black leather ninja crap.

2017: Guardian’s of the Galaxy 2
Loved the first one. Start the Dance Off, turd blossom. On to Mix Tape 3!

2017: Thor 3: Ragnarok
Which of these facts is more amazing:
- That a movie was ever made about Marvel’s Thor
- The fact that movie was good
- That a second movie was made about Marvel’s Thor
- That that movie was good
- That a third movie is being made about Marvel’s Thor

I still can’t really wrap my head around it. But I love the movies. On to Ragnarok!

2017: Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman and Panther Costume Design
I’ve been waiting for this one since day one. I love everything about the Black Panther. The costume, the origin, the backstory. T’Challa is an African king who moonlights as one of the Avengers. Even the design looks like the comics (this one time black leather ninja crap is all right). I’m not familiar with the actor playing him (Chadwick Boseman), but I’ve learned to trust Marvel casting. This is my most anticipated movie on the list. Hopefully they will base the movie on writer Christopher Priest’s run of the comic. No better Panther stories were ever told.  

2018: Captain Marvel
This is fine, Captain Marvel is a likable enough character and it’s nice to see a female hero get some cinematic love from Marvel. I’d like to see some of the stories—and costume—from the Brian Reed run on the Ms. Marvel book, but those stories are probably forgotten by Marvel. Still, should be a good spectacle. There are a lot of female Marvel characters I like better though, such as Scarlet Witch, Wasp and Invisible Woman.

2018: Inhumans
No particular love for the Inhumans. They’re fun, but not essential to the Marvel Universe. The only reason they are on this list is that Fox owns the rights to the X-Men movies, not Marvel. Inhuman powers are pretty much like mutant powers. I’d much, much rather see Marvel doing its own X-Men movies, but there you go. I’m sure they’ll be fine.

2018 & 2019: Avengers: Infinity War
What a great idea: a story so big Marvel has to spread it over two Avengers movies in two years. I can only hope Joss Whedon does the writing and directing. And that they introduce a ton more Avengers and crossover with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The plot will no doubt consist of all-out war with Thanos over the Infinity Gauntlet and gems. Let the $100 million mayhem begin.
All in all, more smart decisions from Marvel Films. I’m looking forward to every movie on the list, with the possible exceptions of Civil War and Inhumans, both of which I’m sure I’ll see. This is a great time to be a Marvel movie fan.