Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Reading: Terminator and Spider-man: Reign

With Summer you always get some crazy deals at sores, well here with Andrenn’s Summer Reading Recommendations you get a 2 for one special today. We’ve got a summer blockbuster book for you and

With the Terminator franchise returning to theaters for the first time since 2003 I thought it would be a good idea to review the first volume of Dark Horse’s Terminator Omnibuses. Now Dark Horse are the kings of Adaptations and have turned in some grade A excellent work with the Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator Omnibuses. These book collect various stories into a 25 dollar neat package.

Terminator Omnibus volume 1

Writers:John Arcudi, James Robinson, Ian Edginton

Artists: Chris Warner, Matt Wagner, Paul Gulacy, Vince Giarrano

This volume is more like one gigantic movie as 3 of the 4 mini-series have the same evolving plot and characters. The one story after the first mini-series is the only aception, so I’ll cover that one first.

The first story is called One-Shot and much to my surprise it’s written by James Robinson.

This story is the most inconsequential of all as it asks the question “what if 2 Terminators where sent back for Sarah Conner, but the other one got lost and went after the wrong woman?” and from there it spins.

The most interesting part of this story has nothing to do with the Terminator though, it’s that this Sarah Conner wants her husband, Michael, dead as she only married him when she found out he’s secretly rich but he hides it as he hates money. I have to give Robinson a lot of credit as this plot twist alone develops this woman’s character more than most adaptation characters get.

We see the Terminator coming after her of course and she’s helped by an old soldier from the future sent back in time who’s got the one weapon in this era that can stop a Terminator.

The story is at it’s best with the end as just when I felt it was getting too long and dragged out it comes to an exciting, but predictable, conclusion. I won’t spoil the ending but kudos to Robinson for shaking it up with the last 4 pages.

Matt Wagener does the art for this and I was even more surprised to see him. His art does do one thing perfectly, replicate the dark moody noir images from the film. The coloring I guess though is the best part for that, though his art is great it just doesn’t fit the realism of the Terminator franchise. And I don’t mean that time traveling robots are realistic, I mean that when you draw this kind of world the Terminators themselves have to have a robotic realism as the other artists in the book capture so for that the art here does fall a little short.

The rest of the volume is the story of Colonel Mary and her and another group of time traveler’s going t back in time to stop the creator of A.I.

The story is incredibly well done for one that has 3 different writers writing each different section. Usually that would make this storyline a disjointed mess that does not fit well together but somehow they pulled it off and it worked amazingly well.

The characters are all well done, even the cannon fodder characters could get in some good moments. I did not like how in the final story a bunch of new time traveling soldiers where sent back as it felt like they where rushed into the story for more cannon fodder.

Still this is an epic story that while it’s not on the same level as the 2 films, easily make this book well worth it for any fan of the franchise.

The artists all do a great job, while the first artist has some problems at first they are gone by the end of his run. I also find it funny how the main character Marry evolves from a rough torn up soldier to a near glamorous beauty by the end, it was rather funny really.

Overall the Terminator Omnibus is a great deal for anyone who loves the movies and is getting tired of having to pop in the DVD’s every other night to get your fill of Terminator.

Summer Reading Must Have

Spider-man: Reign

Written and Art: Kaare Andrews with Jose Villarrubia

I should admit that I was tempted not to add this to the Summer Reading Recommendation for one simple reason: It’s fairly dark for a summer reading book. I was hoping to keep this more light or action stuff since Summer is such a great time for that, but no matter what excuse I make for myself I have always found Spider-man: Reign to be one of the best Spider-man stories in several years so I figure it deserves as spot on the list.

A lot of people have compared this to Frank Miller’s beloved The Dark Knight Returns and I admit there is certainly a connection as it follows the same path with an elderly hero in retirement in a world going insane. Though Spider-man isn’t quite as psychotic as Batman was in his dark future.

I did like how we get this witty young man who looks just like Peter Parker did as a young guy and we think “oh, that’s peter!” but then we see this old man with a beard and giant glasses and it’s like “Oh…that’s Peter?”

From there most of the chapter is “look at the sad old man” and at first it puts the reader in a sore spot of having to watch this really stupid old guy who should know better but is just taking a beating from society.

Though I guess the moment it all got really weird for me in the first chapter is when J. Jonah Jameson shows up. Peter himself looks ancient, Jonah looks like a walking corpse. Though in later chapters he gets much more vibrant and like his old self and I love it so I don’t mind the Crypt Keeper Jonah.

Jonah gives Peter something that turns him back into Spider-man, only for about a minute but it was that closing final pages that really got me excited for more and kick off this awesome story.

Spider-man isn’t the only character, we’ve got kids who are rebelling against the city’s brutal law force. These guys will kill you sooner than help you and through the eyes of the kids it really paints the horrific picture of just how hard this world is.

Later on we do see Spider-man villains, with a great twist for Sandman. I will spoil the main bad guy so if you don’t want to know, don’t read this paragraph. It’s Venom. While I’m a huge Venom fan, I can’t help but wish it was Green Goblin, something about hat just would have fit perfectly.

There is a lot of social commentary in this book. The biggest thing I think was a commentary on how America can be “too safe” in that the less freedoms we give ourselves by forcing the governments controls then the more out of hand and bad things really get and Andrews pulled this off while not shoving it down our throats really and keeping it within the confines of a good Super Hero story.

This story is full of great moments that I could write page after page of, but rather than spoiling the whole book I mention one more moment that I felt just made this so great. After we find out the fate of MJ, Peter has a dream sequence near the very end where MJ cheers him on and that becomes his driving force in the final battle and it was just handled beautifully as far as the dialogue is concerned.

The artwork has some really spectacular moments and some really frustrating moments as well. Most of the time it looks absolutely incredible, but other times it looks painfully rushed and unfinished and while these moments are few their still frustrating when you see how most of the art is so great.

I give this a high recommendation for seasoned Spider-man fans who love reading about the emotionally torn hero who still keeps on going no matter what. It may open slow but you’ll find yourself an incredible read that no fan should miss out on.

Summer Reading Must Have

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