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Danger: Diabolik

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Danger: Diabolik

The term anti-hero gets tossed around quite a bit without much attention paid. The definition has become so muddled over time that there is no clear cut example, except for someone whose goals and methods do not make them a hero, but the story in which they are the protagonist makes them out to be one, anyway. Of course there are many interpretations, but every time I try to think of a character who personifies the anti-hero, one name always comes up: Diabolik.

Diabolik (John Phillip Law) is a rich playboy with a batcave-esque hideout full of black and white Jaguars, who steals things for seemingly no reason at all. Clearly he is exceedingly wealthy, (as evidenced by the fact that he has a giant rotating bed covered in money), has a hot woman by his side (Marisa Mell), and really could not have a care in the world. So, to kill the boredom, he takes it upon himself to make every other rich person’s life miserable by stealing vast sums of money from the police, the mob, and anyone else who may have “vast sums” of anything that Diabolik might want.

He steals from the rich to give to himself. That’s my kind of anti-hero.

Based on the Italian comic character of the 1960s, Danger: Diabolik was revered in its time as one of the most faithful comic adaptations ever made. Not too hard to see why, though. Comics and films in post-WW2 America were very pro-country, pro-patriotism with good role models, Truth, justice, the American way, and all that. In Italy, the good people having had their asses handed to them and wiping the taste of Mussolini’s fascism out of their mouths, the idea of an anti-hero, someone who would steal from the government just for the hell of it, seemed gleefully rebellious and all too welcome to the counter-cultural movement at the time.

It could be argued that Diabolik does indeed commit his crimes as some form of social satire (ie. blowing up the treasury and banks to eliminate the country’s personal debts). Since he feels the police and the government are too incompetent to stop him, he has the right to do what he does and get away with it. Perhaps there really is a method and some morals behind his actions. Or, maybe he just likes to blow things up. It could go either way, really.

It is difficult to justify a character like Diabolik. He steals things because stealing things its fun. He gets into danger because danger is more exciting than doing things the safe way. He steals things that are seemingly impossible to steal just because everyone tells him they are impossible to steal. In any other movie, Diabolik would be the bad guy. He is still the bad guy in this movie, too. Only this time, he has the coolest car, the sweetest costume, and hottest girlfriend.

And in the end, no matter what their actions or intentions, the person who has those things is always somebody’s hero.

J.D. Renaud

J.D. Renaud has no formal education in film, but that is more than evident upon meeting and/or seeing him. A purveyor of all things eccentric, he prides himself on being a guinea pig test subject for any new form of media he is given. He currently lives in Winnipeg Manitoba with his go-go dancer roommate.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Posted in crime, superhero

Omega: The Unknown

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Omega: The Unknown

Omega: the Unknown follows a mute superhero from another world, who shares an uncertain bond with a boy-genius raised by robo-parents, chased by a growing army of robots led by a giant hand with legs.

Omega: The Unknown is comics on the edge of madness. It is pure imagination bursting from every panel, brimming from every page. Throwing convention out the window, novelist Jonathan Lethem and artist Farel Dalrymple have crafted a story so unique it challenges the other books on the shelf.

Describing Omega: The Unknown for the uninitiated is no easy feat, for the book defies the status quo, and strives for a higher standard of superhero fiction. The book attempts to refine our notion of the superhero, peering at it through a new, more sophisticated lens.Never mind the pseudo-realism of contemporary comics, Omega: The Unknown is a book in love with its subject matter, reconciling its genre’s inherent silliness, yet striving to take it in new directions.

It is pop-art, unabashedly; Kirby-esque concepts and imagination made into colorful pages, detailing philosophical concepts and social awareness. It is a parabolic meditation on the dangers of mass consumption and consumer society. It is without reservation, regard, and repression.

As a reader, I don’t enjoy being spoon-fed. Thankfully, Omega: The Unknown ignores that in favour of ambiguity. There are layers upon layers of ideas in its storytelling, and it is up to the reader to decide what it all means. There are extended sequences whereby the reader is meant to be confused and disillusioned, hopelessly following the action for a glimmer of purpose. Rest assured it all makes sense in the end, but not without complete devotion to the narrative. Moreover, it is impossible to digest everything this book has to offer in one read-through.

Like the best fiction, you don’t merely skim its pages and toss it aside. You take your time: read and re-read. Even then, you aren’t guaranteed a complete understanding of the text. Lethem and Dalrymple are not interested in convenient, straightforward storytelling. Rather, they are interested in comics as art, ambiguous and meaningful.

Omega: The Unknown is intelligent comics devoid of sanity but not deprived of purpose in its inspired lunacy.

– Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

All Star Superman vol 1

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All-Star Superman, Volume One

Equal parts Max Fleischer, Jack Kirby, and well, Grant Morrison, All Star Superman Volume One reads like a series of epic folk tales, in the tradition of Greco-Roman mythology. The stories are big, and the concepts even bigger.

In the opening chapter, Superman foils Lex Luthor’s scheme to murder Leo Quintum’s science team mid-expedition to the surface of the sun. However, the seeds of Luthor’s plan are revealed when Superman returns: hyper-exposure to the sun (the source of his powers) poisoned Superman, giving him new or enhanced abilities, while causing mass apoptosis – cell death.

And lo, Superman is dying.

The tales which writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely have conceived are a beautiful ode to the legacy of Superman. Distilling the character to his most essential and timeless elements, they have managed to weave an episodic delight the likes of which comic readers have never experienced. With shameless adoration of its subject matter, All-Star Superman is both intentionally silly, and incredibly intelligent. It is concept driven, yet wonderfully emotional. Furthermore, while the storytelling hearkens back to the Silver Age of Superman comics, it remains an inspired, wholly unique work of superhero fiction.

Volume One tells a single ongoing story in episodic fashion. Each chapter is a self-contained and which can be enjoyed if isolated. Moreover, the stories display a variety of subjects and themes. See Superman and Lois Lane on a dimension-trotting super-date, or witness Superman travel back in time to atone his regrets. The stories are varied and beautifully illustrated, with colors by Jamie Grant that could melt your eyes.

Whether you’re a seasoned Superman fanboy or new to comics entirely: there is much to admire in All-Star Superman, Volume One. In an industry where mature superhero comics usually means dark alleys and amoral, foul mouthed anti-heroes, All-Star Superman stands apart from that crowd. It embraces its silliness instead of rationalizing, or apologizing for it.

Bright, colorful, and brimming with hope, All Star Superman is a new, definitive take on the Man of Steel.

– Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 14, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in superhero

Planetary vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

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PLANETARY Vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

Written – Warren Ellis
Art – John Cassaday
Colours – Laura Depuy

Planetary is one of the best structured concepts that has graced contemporary comics.

The story kicks off as The Planetary Organization, a team of “Archaeologists of the Impossible” recruit Elijah Snow, a man of cold-temperament and abilities, as head investigator of unexplainable phenomena drawing back through one hundred plus years of manufactured super-hero history.

The actual layout of Planetary is as unique as the premise. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story, putting the team into a different genre and setting. From Pulp Adventures to Japanese Monsters, each chapter is a uniquely designed and presented case study of the Impossible events of history, warped by the super powered principles of the Wildstorm Universe. Concepts and ideas not limited by genre or age – new and old – have the dirt wiped off them and are inspected closely to create a wholly new feel of things. A new, vibrant atmosphere for a new age of information.

With the book’s origin in the pulps, the reader is lead deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the book. Elijah Snow joins the Planetary Organization without any knowledge of the Fourth Man or his/her intentions or any modus operandi to Planetary. So as we travel around the world, from Hong Kong to contested Japanese islands to the very edge of the multiverse, Planetary threads the mysteries of the book – What is the purpose of the Planetary Organization?

Also included in this volume is the introduction of the Four, the antithesis to the Planetary organization. Four adventures mutated by a trip in a stolen rocket ship – their intelligence secret, their abilities overpowering and their purpose a secret. As the Four become the backbone of PLANETARY’s purposes, building a story that crests into the high concept competition that Planetary, like all pulps, is drawn to.

Planetary is not just smart comics; it’s unique, original and rolls with more than a hundred years of created history that plays off all the genres, each with unique pay-offs and highlighting their unique substances with a uniquely styled cover.

Let it be said, far and wide, than when Warren Ellis is good, he’s the best. And when he’s got a talent like John Cassaday working with him, the results are incomparable.

Planetary is one of those books. One of the unsung, true giants of the medium. Impossible to transfer, unnecessary to try. Each story is the juiciest fruit or oldest whiskey, each from a different side of the world with its own taste and colour you’ve never glimpsed before. Planetary really, really is that good.

– – Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 11, 2009 at 12:01 PM

The Escapists

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THE ESCAPISTS

Writer – Brian K. Vaughan

Artists – Steve Rolston, Jason Shawn Alexander, Philip Bond, Eduardo Barreto

Colourists – Dave Stewart, Matthew Hollingsworth, Paul Hornschemeier, Dan Jackson

Letterer – Tom Orzechowski

Cover – Alex Ross

Prestidigitator – Michael Chabon

“Comics will break your heart.”

Matt Fraction

THE ESCAPISTS is Brian K. Vaughan’s love letter to comics.

Inspired by Pulitzer Prize Winning THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY by Michael Chabon, THE ESCAPISTS tells the story of Max, who inherits a basement full of Escapist memorabilia and enough money to buy the rights to his favourite golden age superhero icon, The Escapist. Setting out with best friend Denny and attractive redhead artist Case, the trio put together their Escapist book, allowing the character relief from obscurity. Through a risky publicity gimmick, their Escapist comes to national attention and begins the downward spiral from which our trio soon find themselves trapped.

Vibrant, cartoon artwork tells Max’s story with seamless transitions into the lush, noir story-telling of the trio’s Escapist comic runs parallel to the “real-world”, THE ESCAPISTS is a connecting read that will leave you involved with the characters, wondering how you will ever Escape.

The truth is, there is no Escape. This isn’t Brian K. Vaughan’s warnings against the corporate structure of comics and it’s not a how-to-guide for comics. It’s not a stern warning that there’s no way to Cheat and Win and no way to succeed without the sweat and ink and tears. It’s not an outline for how to break into comics, or to find success or even pull of the most meager of victories. It’s not about how to Escape your dreariness.

It’s about love. And how love is the challenge to free yourself.

The love of comics comes from the freedom that comics allow, the way that no other medium can–which is why we love comics. Comics do what no other medium can. They Escape form and convention, and the end we’re all just a bit better for it.

– – Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 2, 2009 at 12:01 PM