Tagged: Ex Machina

ComicMix Six: Box Office Democracy’s Top 6 Movies of 2015

ComicMix Six: Box Office Democracy’s Top 6 Movies of 2015


When I started making this list I was very down on 2015 but I was wrong. I was delighted to relive all of these films; 2015 was a fantastic year.

Honorable Mention: Get Hard – Get Hard is not a movie I reviewed for this site or even one I saw theatrically but rather on an airplane. The marketing for Get Hard was so unappealing to me, but I laughed harder while watching it than I did at any other movie this year. It had all of the uncomfortable moments where this or that rape joke or borderline racist moment happens but it’s overpowered by better jokes and a better attitude. I’m not much for movie quotes anymore but I have found myself saying “You are a disappointment to your parents, who I fucked” a few too many times for polite conversation and that’s got to be worth something.

  1. Furious 7/The Big Short – These are the movies that are probably not good enough to be on this list that I just couldn’t bring myself to cut. In their individual ways these films were both made for me. Furious 7 is not as good as Fast Five or Fast & Furious 6 but the goodwill from those sublime pieces of action cinema is too strong in me. I can’t dislike that movie even if the action sequences might be finally tipping over the edge of my suspension of disbelief and even if the characters might be getting a little too cartoony I love it too much. The touching tribute to Paul Walker is just icing on the cake.Similarly as a economics major who now works as a film critic I’m not sure any film has ever been aimed quite so squarely at me than The Big Short. Explaining the 2008 financial collapse in an understandable way is a herculean task and they accomplish it with no lack of gusto. The acting and the directing are also fantastic, but they feel a little too much like they’re aiming for awards to rate higher on this list. I don’t go to baseball games to see the players swing for the fences with every at bat, and I would appreciate a little more subtlety in my cinema as well.
  1. Inside Out – The real brilliance of Inside Out is in the simplicity of the idea. Of course our emotions are different people inside our heads just like of course our toys come to life when we aren’t looking. It just makes an intrinsic amount of sense. Inside Out is a simple story told very well with dizzying highs and devastating emotional lows and that kind of journey is rare in any movie and even more so in movies intended for children. That Pixar has made this kind of filmmaking so routine is a testament to their sublime artistry and I’m so happy to have them around.
  1. Straight Outta Compton – It’s been a long time coming for a serious filmmaker to make a movie about the dawn of hip-hop in a way that respects its audience, acknowledges the political reality that was urban America in the mid-80s, and respects the artistry the same way the endless parade of rock biopics have done over the years. Straight Outta Compton fulfils that promise and more. I hate when people describe actors as “channeling” a real person when they portray them on film but I feel myself reaching for that word when I want to describe how uncanny the acting performances were in this film. The icing on the cake is how relevant the struggles with the police feel even 30 years later because of the myriad ways nothing has really changed.


MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Trades vs. Monthlies – An Unpopular Stance

It seems when I write pieces here on ComicMix that are good-natured and optimistic, no one cares. When I get hot and bothered (and make sweeping declarations that demand debate), you get excited. So, you want riled up? You got it!

I think the comic book industry as a whole would be better off if it went digital for all monthly titles, and only printed graphic novels.

Settle down, settle down. You’ll have a chance to put me in my place in the comment section. Or you can skip my argument completely, and just go down to the bottom of the page, and start the flame war. Either way, my ego gets fed.

Let’s face it. Making a comic book every month isn’t easy. If it was, Justice League wouldn’t be two weeks late. But wasn’t there a big hard-and-fast rule in place stating no book would be delivered late, lest the creative team be removed for one that could keep up? Well I guess that only applies to talent who don’t exclusively work for the parent company, and have “Chief” on their business cards. But I digress.

Most comic books these days are “written for the trade.” Almost every cape on the racks today get four to six issues of a singular plot-line that crescendos into a final epic conclusion. Then, if we’re lucky, a one-shot to settle things down to the status quo. And the cycle repeats. In the case of other books (Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man comes to mind) these arcs could last up to a year or even longer. This means that every month you get a bite of the candy bar. Wouldn’t it be nice to just eat the whole damned thing all at once? In an medium where the end product is sum of many parts, having all those parts only stands to make the whole piece better.

Brian Michael Bendis may physically have a disease preventing him from writing a book that isn’t deconstructed. And frankly, who disagrees that he works best in the bigger picture? I won’t ever buy singular issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s too good in trade. The same goes for many other books I happen to get (or borrow with frequency); Invincible, The Sandman, Astro City, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Fables… need I go on? In all of those cases, and so many more, collecting a book into a longer format makes for a more enjoyable experience. And when a trade it released, there is no waiting for that next chapter. I know there’s a massive caveat to that one folks, but I think the point is clear enough.

But Marc, you plea… If the industry went straight-to-trade, comic book shops would simply close up and die. Because right now, most comic book stores I know are so swamped with business they don’t even carry trades. Or action figures. Or magic cards. Or D+D. Or host local bands. Or have organized book clubs. The fact is, store owners lose more money stocking their shelves with every monthly book that comes out, and subsequently not sell them, then do they on carrying trades. One store in particular, Challengers Comics + Conversations in Chicago, told Unshaven Comics that they would only carry our book when it became a trade.

When I was told this by the very cool owner, my eyebrow raised. “We do far more business in trades than we do in monthlies man, sorry.” They even have a “Library” subscription where so many dollars a month guarantees you access to shelves of trades to “check out.” If I were a commuter and lived anywhere near the store, I’d be on that like Michael Davis on an Asian GoGo Dancer. My point being that brick and mortar stores could augment their current offerings and not lose their leases.

Monthly books allow fans to “sample” a title before committing to it. And those who follow along with my reviews (over on Michael Davis World, plug plug plug) know that recently I’ve committed to a “two bad issues in a row means I drop the title” policy. Thus far, that means I’ve dropped JLI, Red Lanterns, Green Lanterns: New Guardians, The Fury of Firestorm, and Irredeemable. If my dream came true, wouldn’t that mean I would stand to lose more money buying a multi-issue trade for a series I’d be unhappy with? I’m willing to eat crow on that one. To a point. You see, in the cases of all those books I listed, they all suffered from the same problems.

Predictable plots hampered by a repetitious narrative structure, or incoherent direction on the whole. As an example, Fury of Firestorm(s?) issue to issue took the same plot point (Danger! Transformation! Hitting!) and regurgitated it three times in a row. Through the fatigue, it becomes clear; the entire first arc takes place over one or two nights. Read as a whole though, the pacing wouldn’t be as troublesome to me. And in the case of JLI, where the plot was as by-the-books as you could get… I would contest that taken in 1 large chunk, it’s far easier to enjoy the staple “assemble the team and fight the giant evil” plotline when it’s not broken up into six parts. Especially when it fights for my attention with better-written monthlies like Batman, Action Comics, or Fantastic Four.

It’s a big argument, one that I hypocritically don’t even support on the other side of the aisle. Unshaven Comics made the decision to release issues in lieu of trades. But that, as Alton Brown would say, is for another show. I’d like to think I’ve given you enough to mull over. So, go ahead my bubbalas. Talk amongst yourselves. I’m getting a little verklempt. Trades vs. Monthlies… Discuss!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Review: ‘Ex Machina 7’ and ‘Fables 11’

Review: ‘Ex Machina 7’ and ‘Fables 11’

DC has long been the home of a certain kind of story – at least moderately hip, and equally popular, usually with some elements derived from the superhero mainstream but with its own high-concept premise ripped from the Zeitgeist. First there was [[[Sandman]]], then [[[Preacher]]] and [[[Transmetropolitan]]] and so on – but, these days, since [[[Y: The Last Man]]] ended, the two thoroughbreds left in that particular stable are [[[Fables]]] and [[[Ex Machina]]]. As it happens, both of those series had new collections this fall…

Ex Machina, Vol. 7: Ex Cathedra
By Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris & Jim Clark
DC Comics/Wildstorm, October 2008, $12.99

[[[Ex Machina]]] has been piling up the cheap trade paperbacks, keeping its storylines to four or five issues and pumping out the reprints as quickly as possible. And so this seventh volume collects issues #30-34, the last of which hit stores as a floppy only in February. (I reviewed the sixth volume back in April, for those who want some background.)

Ex Machina, as you might know by now, is a science-fiction story about Mitchell Hundred, the Mayor of New York City, in a slightly alternate world. Hundred has some kind of alien (or other-dimensional) gizmo embedded in his face, which allows him to understand and command machines – since this is a comic book, he used that at first to dress up in a funny costume (as “The Great Machine”) and fight crime. Since this is a smart comic book, he then ran for mayor, and won after he stopped the second 9/11 plane from hitting the World Trade Center.

[[[Ex Cathedra]]] is a four-part story set in December of 2003; it’s still not quite the midpoint of Hundred’s first term. The series has bounced back and forth in time between Hundred’s mayoral and superhero days; in these issues we do get a few scenes in 2000-2001 for spice, but it’s mostly about a visit to the Vatican.


‘War Heroes’ Optioned by Columbia

‘War Heroes’ Optioned by Columbia

After weeks of Mark Millar talking up Hollywood optioning War Heroes, Variety reports this morning that Sony has picked up the Millar and Tony Harris Image series. Michael De Luca, formerly head of New Line Cinema, will produce for Columbia Pictures.

A screenwriter is now being sought for the series, which is “revolve around an experimental military program that gives ordinary soldiers superpowers. When a small group of recruits break off to use these powers for a criminal enterprise, a hero rises from their ranks to prevent catastrophic results.”

The comic book has received critical praise and strong sales since its June debut.

Millar has suddenly become a hot Hollywood property after years of yearning to be a player. Wanted, which produced for Image with artist J.G. ones was a summer hit, earning $293 million and Universal has recently confirmed work on a sequel has begun.

His Kick-Ass, with John Romita, Jr., has become a major event for Marvel’s Icon imprint and production on the film version, starring Aaron Johnson and Nicholas Cage, began this month for a 2009 release.

Harris is represented in Hollywood with New Line Cinema slowly developing his Ex Machina, written by Brian K. Vaughn and published by WildStorm.

ComicMix Radio: Broadcast Blog

ComicMix Radio: Broadcast Blog

Let’s take a lazy Sunday and add in a few links and recaps of things you might have missed on this week’s ComicMix Radio:

  • This week Wanted‘s Mark Millar and Ex Machina‘s Tony Harris hit the shores of the United States to promote War Heroes. Starting at  New York’s Midtown Comics and ending on the west coast, fans will have a chance to get to meet Mark and Tony as well as nabbing a copy of the extremely limited War Heroes #1 Tour Of Duty Edition. According to Image Comics, this special edition will never be made available again. By the way, War Heroes #1 has sold out from Image and there is no word yet on a second printing. For the full schedule of the tour, go here.
  • On your way out west to follow Mark & Tony, try and work out a stop in Toledo, Ohio tomorrow to see Marvel artist Greg Horn throw out the first pitch in a Toledo Mudhens game. It’s not the usual spot you find someone from our world, but Greg got the chance to do this because  Mudhens’ Assistant General Manager Neil Neukam is a big fan of his work.
  • As you read here on ComicMix, Michael I. Silberkleit, the chairman of Archie Comic Publications, died August 5th in New York City at the age of 76, after a short battle with cancer. Keep a close eye here for Arcihe Comics’ official tribute which should be on the site any day now.
  • Top Cow has the voting polls for Pilot Season 2008 wide open. If you have been following the series of try-outs, you can  vote for your favorite title out of the six one-shots that were put out this summer. Polling stations are now set up at the Top Cow main site , the Top Cow MySpace page  and the Pilot Season MySpace page. Readers can vote once per day until the polls close on September 8, 2008. Did you know that last year’s top two vote getters, Cyblade and Velocity, will debut with new series later this year, mainly due to the over four million votes were cast.

    We are back on the broadcast on Tuesday with our run down of new comics and DVD releases and more from Torchwood Executive Producer Julie Gardner and series star, Naoko Mori.  And remember, you can always subscribe to ComicMix Radio podcasts via iTunes - ComicMix or RSS!


The Buzz on Brian K. Vaughan’s ‘Roundtable’ Script

The Buzz on Brian K. Vaughan’s ‘Roundtable’ Script

Over at AICN, Moriarty has posted a very long analysis of Y: The Last Man creator Brian K. Vaughan’s script for a feature film currently titled Roundtable, which Dreamworks recently won after a long bidding war.

Apparently, the man behind Runaways and Ex Machina (and now a writer for the comic-posing-as-a-television-series Lost) has turned in a script that’s being celebrated as one of the best to hit Hollywood in quite some time, earning comparisons to classic science-fiction comedies such as Ghostbusters and Back to the Future by even the most jaded readers.

According to AICN:

So when my friend sent over ROUNDTABLE and suggested I read it, I was surprised by his enthusiasm. That’s not the way it normally goes. Keep in mind, there’s a sport in LA that’s very popular. Writers get hold of a script that just sold for a ton of money. And then they read it so that they can reassure theselves that it’s terrible and if that piece of shit sold for a lot of money, then that masterpiece they’re tinkering with in the off-hours is going to be set a new record for how much money someone can make on a script. It’s only fair. It’s a bitter, angry game, but it’s been going on since at least when I moved here in the early ‘90s, and it hasn’t changed in that entire time. Almost any script can be torn apart by the determined and the bitter if they try, but I’m guessing that they’ll find themselves tied in knots as soon as they all get hold of this script, because it is indeed a tightly-constructed and hilarious commercial script that is most probably going to make DreamWorks a small fortune when they finally release the film.

Moriarty goes on to describe some of the casting Vaughan seems to have had in mind for characters, as well as a basic synopsis of the story.


(via PopCandy)

Review: ‘Starman Omnibus Vol. 1’ by James Robinson and Tony Harris

The true measure of James Robinson’s Starman is how, 14 years later, the series remains fresh and invigorating. The story of Jack Knight reluctantly taking his father’s mantle as Starman and protecting Opal City is endlessly inventive, an odd and challenging riff on the superhero.

Now is a perfect time to appreciate the series again, as DC is somewhat surprisingly collecting the entire [[[Starman]]] run into six omnibuses ($49.99 each). The first holds 17 issues, each filled with Robinson’s elaborately labyrinthine narration and plotting.

The first three issues are a perfect example of Robinson’s creative approach. In one night, Jack’s brother, who had assumed the Starman mantle, is killed amid a massive attack launched by an old Starman foe. While it’s a flurried and violent opening, Robinson stretches the story, mining each angle of the fight for richness.

Through that gradual unfolding of Jack taking up the cosmic rod, his character becomes immediately rich and deep. That, no doubt, helped the book to become such a lasting success.


Review: Three Pieces of Middle

Review: Three Pieces of Middle

These three books have almost nothing in common – they’re from three different publishers, in entirely different genres, and by very different creators. But they all are middle chapters in long-running series, so they raise similar questions about maintaining interest in a serialized story – when the beginning was years ago, and there’s no real end in sight, either, what makes this piece of the story special? (Besides the fact that it’s printed on nice paper and shoved between cardboard covers.)

Ex Machina, Vol. 6: Power Down
By Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Jim Clark, and JD Mettler
DC Comics/Wildstorm, 2008, $12.99

Ex Machina gets to go first, since it’s the shortest and it’s also the closest to the beginning of the series. (Both in that it’s volume 6 and because all of the [[[Ex Machina]]] collections are so short – this one collects issues 26 to 29 of the series, so we’re only into the third year of publication.) The premise is still the same – an unknown artifact/item gave then-civil engineer Mitchell Hundred the power to hear and command all kinds of machines, which he used to first become a costumed superhero (stopping the second plane on 9-11, among other things) and then successfully ran for mayor in the delayed election of 2001-2002.

This storyline begins in the summer of 2003, and provides a secret-historical reason for the blackout of that year. (This is too cute a touch for my taste – Hundred’s world is different enough from our own that this “explanation” couldn’t be true in our real world, and so the fact that both worlds had identical-seeming massive blackouts, on the same day, from different causes, stretches suspension of disbelief much too far.)


Y: The Last Man Concludes

Y: The Last Man Concludes

It’s been difficult to ignore all of the hub-bub concerning Brian K. Vaughan’s long-running series Y: The Last Man drawing to a close this week. But seriously, why would you want to?

Of course, "Y: The Last Party" on February 8 will no doubt provide the best seat in the house for celebrating the end of such a great series – and the fact that the event is raising funds for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, well, that’s just a little good-karma bonus. Heck, even Joss Whedon will be there!

However, if you’re like me and can’t get a ticket (or a flight) to the big blast, you’ve had to make do with reading all of the great coverage the conclusion of Y is receiving. Take, for instance, this piece from The Portland Mercury that includes all sorts of fun comments from Vaughan about his work on Y, as well as other projects.

Chances are Y‘s audience never knew they wanted a genre-defying book that’d somehow blend Star Trek references with socio-sexual politics. Y‘s disparate but graceful mix is echoed in another of Vaughan’s books, Ex Machina, about a superhero mayor of New York. "Ex Machina was probably born out of watching the political debates and thinking, ‘This would be so much better if someone just had a jetpack!’" Vaughan says. "I guess I have always [balanced] being intellectually curious and just a dumb kid who just wants to see ray guns and ninjas and pirates. It’s never been like, ‘Oh, I’ll be able to sneak in something really smart if I hide it behind pirates and these other trappings!’ That’s just who I am. I like that balance of both the profound and the profoundly ridiculous."

I guess the owner of my local comic book shop was on to something when, six years ago, I asked for a recommendation to fill out my weekly stack and he tossed me a copy of Y: The Last Man #1.


Cooke Sweeps The Shusters

Cooke Sweeps The Shusters

The 2007 Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Creator Awards were handed out this weekend and, according to the JSA (get it?) website, here are the winners:

Fan Favourite – English: web comics creator Dan Kim (April & May & June, Penny Tibute, Kanami)

Fan Favourite – French: Michel Rabagliati (Paul a la Peche)

Favourite International (non-Canadian) comic book creator: Brian K. Vaughan (Runaways, Y the Last Man, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Doctor Strange: The Oath).

Outstanding Web Comics Creator: Dan Kim (April & May & June, Kanami, Penny Tribute)

Outstanding Writer: Darwyn Cooke (Superman Confidential)

The Outstanding Artist : Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone (Batman/The Spirit)

The Outstanding Cartoonist (writer/artist) award went to Darwyn Cooke (The Spirit)

Hall of Fame inductees were Albert Chartier, Jacques Hurtubise, Gerry Lazarre and Gene Day. Hurtubise and Lazarre were both on hand to accept their induction into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame. The late Gene Day’s brother David Day was on hand to accept for his brother.