Comic Book Men (TV Series)- Recommendation & Review

Check out what we think of a unique piece of TV history that sadly ended a few years ago. For those of you who missed it make sure you check out why we recommend Comic Book Men

I recall when I first stumbled upon Comic Book Men and was excited by the concept of a semi-scripted reality show about comics produced by fellow fan man Kevin Smith. Having grown up with his movies and being a fan of his podcast I had a good feeling it could prove to be enjoyable viewing. Kevin Smith is a slept on talent from the era of nostalgia to many in my generation. He inspired a lot of people with his success in movies after releasing an independent film called ‘Clerks’ and the rest is a profanity laced joy ride in celluloid history.

Out the gate the first season had me hooked and my buddy Boris of the Bash Bros started watching shortly after we watched a few episodes at my place. The first season had longer episodes than most shows in that format but were funny and informative with a cast of ‘real’ people that made it feel like more of an authentic show on first watch. It did not feel like a reality show, it felt like Clerks with comics and their wacky and genuine humor always made me sad to see Kev call it an episode and pull down the faders on the mixer. The show would go on to have 7 seasons along with the companion podcast and would have guests ranging from from rap icon Method Man of Wu Tang Clan to Billie Dee Williams who played Lando in the original Star Wars trilogy.

comic-book-men-stan-the-man

I would have to say the timing of the series cancellation was pretty cold blooded seeing that AMC would pull the plug 4 episodes shy of the 100th and not too long after Kevin Smith’s heart attack in 2018. Stating that it did not make much sense financially to the studio the show was taken off the air. In another move Fatman on Batman has seen Kevin also remove his first 50 episodes including the classic Conroy episode which is an all time favorite of fans of Smith and Batman the Animated Series. It is peculiar how with the fading of the Marvel and DC movies it is as if the whole wave is beginning to subside as I am finding it harder to find good shows on nerd culture on TV with decent production value.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoy YouTube content as much as the next guy but I still like the production of a network show and you will be hard pressed to replicate what Comic Book Men did because at it’s core it is about friends believing in each other and living a shared dream and that is what I think made me enjoy it as much as I did.

I am writing about this because I feel that the show was a cool way to get people interested in comics and their history. It made total sense having a show like CBM on TV what with Marvel and DC controlling the box office for the past decade Smith used the times to shoehorn in a show for us. Kevin and his gang at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash would give you the stories behind some of the best and most influential characters and artists in comics and the culture. Having a component like Pawn Stars the average person could also see the real price of certain items and learn some history in the process that would only add to the nostalgia of each episode. All in all the show is entertaining and informative and I truly recommend it if you can stream it where you are because you will get some laughs and it will take older viewers back to their childhood. For those of you outside of the United States make sure to check out some of the VPN options.

I can tell our readers who may not be familiar with Kevin Smith and his contributions to cinema that I cannot recommend enough the following films:

Clerks , Dogma, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back & Chasing Amy.

The Death of Superman and the Reign of Supermen – Lightning did not strike twice !

In the 90s my generation witnessed the death of an iconic character. Today the newer generations get to relive that momumental moment in the medium of comics. Read what how we feel about the new itiration and take on the comics that changed the path of Superman and brought him into the modern era.

Having grown up in the 90s I was lucky to have watched some of the best-animated features and series in the history of television and got to read some of the runs in comics. To me, it is my favorite era of comics because of the sheer volume of content being produced when it came to comics and action figures and kids of my generation really had a lot to see and pine over. One of the big things of the 90’s was also something that rattled comic book fans all over the planet as we first heard that DC comics were going to kill Superman! The comic itself is said to have contributed to the subsequent downward spiral in comic book sales as at the time there was a boom in which niether publisher lost time capitalizing on. To speak on this we must also discuss when this orginally came to be to compare previous installments.

Graphic Novel Cover
Cover of the Graphic Novel

The comic, titled ‘Doomsday’ (Dan Jurgens & Roger Stern) was discussed on national television and in the press when it dropped in 93 and apart from flying off the shelves Warner Bros and DC comics would fail capitalize, waiting until 2007 with it arriving on DVD in 2008 called Superman: Doomsday. Fun fact Kevin Smith has a cameo playing himself poking fun at the time he worked on a Superman script. Even the talent of legends Bruce Timm (Batman Animated Series and Justice League) and Duane Capizzi ( Transformers: Prime, Darkwing Duck, and The Batman).The animated feature was well-drawn but differed from the source material which is a pattern that would follow in the decades to come. The problem was that Warner Bros should have released this movie in the early 90’s when the comics were out to have fully capitalized as Superman: Doomsday was not released to rave reviews and was not making anyone’s top 10 list anytime soon. Superman dying is a big deal and coming late to the party may have affected the interest of the masses in this animated film but it was a decent release and if you can find it somewhere for cheap it is a decent addition to any collection for the sake of nostalgia.

It would be more than a decade later before DC and Warner Bros would revisit the storyline, this time opting to remain closer to the source material by including Superboy, the Eradicator, and Steel. I am reviewing the combo pack release in which you have the option of watching both titles back to back in on sitting.  My buddy and I from the board game club watched it and though it felt like it dragged on. We were two different demographics watching this movie, for him, it was his first time watching or hearing about Superman dying. It then hit me that the younger generation have grown up with blockbuster movies and loads of shows and movies and comics themselves were not mainstream for ages. This means my friend Lenny never really got into comics growing up and now in his late teens is diving deeper into the history of these characters he grew up with.

The casting of talent was spot on with Hollywood names such as Nathan Fillion (Firefly & Castle) voicing Hal’s Green Lantern, Rebecca Romjin   (X-men Trilogy, Punisher & The Librarians) as Lois Lane and Rosario Dawson (Daredevil and Iron Fist) as Wonder Woman. I have no complaints on their voiceacting and the dialogue proved to be convincing enough but it did not have the style and look of the 2007 adaptation. I was pleasantly surprized when I sutmbled upon the BluRay Double Feature release where you could get and stream both movies back to back.

As someone who is a huge Bruce Timm and Paul Dini fan I would have preferred if they tried to keep some of the original look from the 90s and early 00s but I will not hold it against them. Warner Brothers have been consistently releasing at least 1 animated feature a year if not more while continuing to support live action shows such as Super Girl, Green Arrow and Titans. Despite their major motion pictures earning big bucks at theaters but the negative critiques and feedback from fans following the Justice League movie and the how Aquaman failed to capture the the interest of many older viewers. With a new man in charge and at the helm of future Warner Brothers releases with a growing interest in appealling to the Chinese market the studio needs to be wise  to avoid the blunders of the past and the mistakes other corproations are making in appeasing the Eastern market.

Warner Brothers are wise to keep the fans happy with content over the years and this release will scratch an itch and does give you a story worth watching. The first part of the story (The Death of Superman) will have you watching Supes give it all his all as the Justice League struggle against the arrival of Doomsday. They carnage and desperation is paced well throughout and the inevitable ending does leave you wondering what would happen next. The Regin of the Supermen would see our first itiration of the comic series where in the absence of Kalel other ‘Supermen’ would rise up and attempt to fill that void. As to not spoil too much of it but we get to see Luthor still angling to be the most powerful man on the planet by introducing Superboy as other ‘versions’ of the former hero rose up including the Eradictor and Steel weaving an interesting narrative. The more adult tone of the story does well in immersing the viewer in what is going on. You have Darksied appearing and watching the heroes and citizens try to make sense of this new era where heroes compete over the top spot while new evils find their way to our blue marble with villianous intentions.

Reing of the Supermen Comic cover
Cover for the Graphic Novel

The second part of the arc plays out better than the previous installment and watching the dynamics between the different characters and the attention paid to the minute details of each of the ‘supermen’ added more to the feature. The writers and producers attempted to include as much as they could from the source material and do not make it a campy feature and touch on issues such as self belief, betrayal and revenge in a way we have not experienced in their perevious animated features.  I can warmly recommend watching these two features back to back when you have 3 hours to kill however I sadly will not recommend it as a purchase.

 

Despite being different to what most fans have grown accustomed and used to from WB Animations it does not go deep enough for me to want to re-watch it any time soon. For that reason I would have to give it a 6.5 out of 10 as it is a double feature package and it would be unfair to judge them as standalone releases (which you still can get seperately). It is good fun for Superman fans and fans of the genre in general but not worth the money as I do not see it adding much value or replay value to most collections.

Until next time I would like to wish all of our nerds and nerdettes the best possible week and just ask for you to invite some friends to our Facebook page and hit the like button so we know you enjoy our content. If you would like to suggest a topic for us to cover or a creator you think would care to be interviewed do not hesistate to send us an email after liking our FB page.

 

*Nerd Dimension claim no ownership or copyrights over the images or IPs described and reviewed in our posts. We utilize any materials under fair use for news and review purposes .  

 

 

MANHUNT:UNABOMBER… Very Good But Could’ve Been Great

Our fellow reviewer Talon is back with another concise write up this time of Discovery Network’s MANHUNT: UNABOMBER..

– MANHUNT: UNABOMBER [Series Review] –

by Talon

UNABOMB POSTER
Poster for Manhunt: Unabomber

Manhunt: Unabomber released on August 2017 is a drama miniseries directed by Greg Yaitanes for the Discovery Network. Created by Andrew Sodroski, Jim Clemente & Tony Gittelson the series was nominated for the best original long form TV award by the Writer’s Guild of America and Tyler Huth for young Best Performance in a TV Series (Recurring Teen Actor) by the Young Artist Award. Sam Worthington plays FBI agent Jim ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald and Paul Bettany the titular character Ted Kaczynski and are supported by co-stars Jeremy Bobb, Chris Noth and Keisha Castle-Hughes.

Discovery and Yaitanes take certain creative license in an attempt to create a historical drama narrative about the FBI manhunt focusing on the cat-and-mouse dynamic between Kaczynski and his pursuer Agent ‘Fitz’. I feel while the show is entertaining and has you coming back to see what’s happens next, it did not really give the characters enough depth and failed to adequately link Kazcynski’s fears of misuse of industrial and technological advances to the reality of current issues and events which seems to be going in that direction.

The show focuses on how the tactics and technology used to track down Kazcynski came to be, demonstrating that previous methods failed and illustrating classic bureaucracy present even at the FBI’s highest levels of administration hindering efficiency and development of best practices. They touch on the creation and content of the manifesto itself but from a safe distance, not really expounding on the obvious correlations between Kazcynski’s theories rising from fear of the future and what has happened in the meanwhile to society due to reckless and hasty implementations of various technologies and industrial practices. Possibly things like certain major companies online always listening, increasingly watching and constantly learning about you and your habits? Was this idea really so crazy, as opposed to going deeper through the content of the manifesto and rationale of this criminal we merely get a glimpse into what maybe led him to become the way he was. There are notable manhunts the team could have chose to develop as opposed to one where beyond the tragic crimes perpetrated there is present a fleshed out philosophy and viewpoint of the ‘villain’.

hughes, bobb, yaitness
Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jeremy Bobb & Greg Yaitanes

The series starts off in 1995 as Fitz is recruited to the Unabomb Task Force receiving no support from his colleagues regarding new ideas he brings to the table. Also we flash-forward to 1997 where he is being asked to confront his counterpart Kazcynski.

The second episode focuses on Fitz’s work on determining the validity of the Unabomber’s threat to bomb an airliner and also we have the two enemies meet for the first time.

Fitz teams up with linguist Natalie Rogers, played by Lynn Collins, together figuring out new clues which point in a different direction to the current profile but the FBI views the findings sceptically. In 1997 Ted begins explaining to his opponent Fitz that he will invalidate all the evidence produced against him.

Ted now demands that his manifesto be published if the authorities wish to see and end to the bloodshed. Fitz pushes his boss Don Ackerman, played by Chris North, to publish who decides to bring the proposal to FBI Divisional head Janet Reno played by Jane Lynch.

Agent Fitz fianlly finding the linguistic evidence he’d been looking for which points in the direction of Ted Kazcynski, tracks down Ted’s brother David, played by Mark Duplass, who is surprised at how precise the profile seems to match Ted.

The sixth episode focuses on a letter sent to David by his brother where he explains various events of his life which caused him to take up his current world view and engage in terrorist activities.

The bureau having a prime suspect goes deep under cover staking out Kazcynski’s cabin, racing the press cycle in hopes of capturing Ted before media chaos ensues creating opportunity for missteps on their end.

In the season finale, after Ted fails to have the evidence invalidated by the court, Fitz makes one last appeal for him to plead guilty.

Huth, Noth and Lynch
Tyler Huth, Chris Noth & Jane Lynch

I felt that Fitz as a character is relatable to a degree albeit riddled with cliches. Older than most his class and less educated, he earned his spot through old fashion elbow grease which I feel does endear the character the audience. His ideas though are met with low levels of enthusiasm and finds himself battling dated established conventions. Here the cliché begins, becoming so obsessed with the case it causes his marital breakup. Fit’z obsession believable grows to such an extent that he sells out his only true ally Tabby, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, in an attempt to get back on the case.

Despite the afore mentioned you find yourself hoping that Fitz wins. The show did attempt to illustrate that Kazcynskis ultimate goal wasn’t to sow terror but bring the public’s attention to inherent risks of the technological and industrial progress. Beyond explaining Ted’s motives the show also provides possible causes for this extreme behaviour illuminating parts of his troubled childhood and youth in a ‘monsters aren’t born they are made’ approach.

Unabomber Text Published In The Washington Post
Industrial Society and its Future, Published by The Washington Post

I feel the purpose of this show was for Discovery Network to determine whether they can create a commercially viable scripted drama a now prestigious segment of the television entertainment market.

The show itself is rather cinematic and this is in no small part thanks to Zack Galler. The camera movement was precise, angles well thought out as well as were the distances of the shots.

The sound of the series was good, playing well with the narration of the story being told, and the score was solid both primarily courtesy of Gregory Tripi. Especially praiseworthy is how the sound greatly contributed to the few set pieces of the series.

I feel Donn Aron, Iain Erskine and Scott Turner handled their respective editing responsibility smoothly connecting all the pieces together.

One possible deeper meaning the team could have been trying for is a character study of both Kazcynski and Fitz, but they fail in this task as the characters seemingly lack depth. To be far Fitz is a composite of several different agents, and the real Jim Fitzgerald insisted on the show being more accurate but was ultimately overruled.

What could be seen as the shows argument regarding modernism and possible risks inherent in technological progress is grossly weakened which I will explain further in this review.

The show does do well with the ethical dillemas presented by the deciding on giving in to the demands of the Unabomber.

There is some repetitiveness throughout the show specifically – Fitz gets stuck, listens to someone talk about something unconnected, zones out and then makes a lateral leap based off a small slice of conversation after which he goes to his boss with the idea and is told to focus on what they tell him to do, for the boss to proven wrong.. That said Noth and Bobb serve the story solidly as the stubborn obstacles of the protagonist.

Bettany’s portrayal is praiseworthy and in truth the show doesnt get things cooking properly until his arrival on the scene, and he is great in episode six where the story be given to him we learn of his experiences at Harvard.

On the other hand despite his masterful subtle delivery, you find Worthington as Bettany wanting more from there characters and script. Fitz’s character is intended to be Kazcynskis match, but we can find a correlation between Fitz’s awkwardness and lack of niceties evidence his compulsive personality, Barring this what really bothers is how the team fail to rationalize the notion they convey early in the series that Fitz managed to catch Kazcynski because of a shared obsessive world-view as they do not deepen the character portrayal.

The supporting cast complete the show and are probably one of the highlights, especially the a fore mentioned Castle-Hughes is a standout, Duplass, Brian d’Arcy James and Jane Lynch feel somewhat underplayed and underdeveloped but none the less handle their assignments as the seasoned professionals they are.

Jame, Galler & Duplass
Brian d’Arcy James, Zack Galler & Mark Duplass

In closing I feel that both lead actors despite their visibly high levels of commitment were left wanting more to work with in regards to their characters. There is some awkwardness inherent in the beginning of the show, though tension steadily builds, but they manage to build momentum as it progresses.

Manhunt definitely makes it hard to not continue watching as it does engage the viewers and the fact it is based on real people and events (albeit creative license was used) makes it all the more enthralling.

A major failing of the series is we never really get to know Ted Kazcynski or what makes him tick. But by far the biggest mistake they made was failing to deliver on the key argument I mentioned earlier in this review. Something starring you in the face is that we now know (at least most of us) that Kazcynski’s deep paranoia in regards to the dehumanizing side of technology in the modern era being not only sociologically ahead of his time but is also almost certainly correct.

All being said this is one of the best shows produced in recent years, it is engaging, tense and hard to not binge watch. The writers approached this series a little differently than most, the direction is efficient and Bettany does provide an intense portrayal of the titular character. This all might sound paradoxical considering the gripes listed and explained but that is because this a a very good show which could have been a great show.

This show will be most appealing to criminal history buffs and those who enjoy criminal procedurals or process themed series.

I give this series a score of

4/5

All images used are property of Discovery Communications, Trigger Street Productions, The Washington Post their associate/affiliates and various media outlets and I claim no rights over them.

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE …The Game-Changer That Never Was

Jodorovsky’s Dune is being reviewed by our in house writer Talon!

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Blu-Ray copy of Jodorowsky’s Dune

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE

..The Game-Changer that Never Was..

By Talon

Jodorovsky’s Dune is a documentary by Croatian-American director Frank Pavich screened at the 66th Cannes Film Festival as part of Directors Fortnight May 13th and released May 21st 2014. Of the numerous nominations and awards it has received most notable seem to be The Australian Film Critics Association’s Best Documentary and  Imagine Film Festival’s audience award The Silver Scream. Making appearances aside from titular Jodorowsky are Dan O’Bannon, H.R. Giger, Gary Kurtz and Chris Foss to name a few.

JODO & PAVICH
Alexander Jodorowsky & Frank Pavich

The film focuses on Chilean director Alexander Jodorowsky and his never actualized interpretation of influential Nebula & Hugo award winning novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Inciting a great deal of what-if sentiment in an enjoyable manner it is a well done nostalgia piece. Pavich lets you behind the scenes into a fraternal world of creative spiritual  warriors, Jodorowsky would call them, by weaving tales known only to select insiders and collaborators from a special moment in the past. The film serves as a call to action for visionary dreamers with an ambitious leaning.

At the beginning we are acquainted with Jodorowsky and some experiences making his breakthrough films “El Topo” & “The Holy Mountain” which propel him to cult fame and whose successes at demonstrating his unique take on film led him to be dubbed a father of the Midnight Film genre.

MICHEL SEYDOUX
Michel Seydoux

After falling out with distributor of both films and financier of “Holy Mountain” Alan Klien, Jodorowsky meets French producer Michel Seydoux who impressed by his style  grants Jodorowsky Carte Blanche in selection of his next feature. Without hesitation Jodorowsky requests Dune.

Following a trail of clues set by Pavich we learn of Jodorowsky’s methods of recruiting his diverse group of Argonauts on this spiritually inspired creative adventure. To peak some curiosity, amongst this motley of heavy hitters are iconic vocalist Mick Jagger, notorious surrealist Salvador Dali, ever enigmatic silver screen icon Orson Welles and pioneering rock group Pink Floyd to name a few.

Collage Dali, Floyd, Welles, & Jagger
(left to right) Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Pink Floyd & Mick Jagger

You find yourself glued to the screen as you learn the herculean lengths the director is willing to go to collaboratively to create something truly great. From inception of idea, to means Jodorowsky utilizes to keep his team motivated and believing in themselves and their gifts. The sense of drive is palpable and uncanny happenstance occurrences further bolster sense of purpose and destiny the endeavour seems to possess.

The documentary inevitably pulls at heartstrings as one realizes the project is doomed, primarily stemming from executives fearing budget size and lacking gumption to venture into unexplored terrain. The sadness progressively turns into disenchantment and suspicion that crew and project were cheated out of their rightful place in history. The overall sentiment being that the bible of the dune, a compiled 3000 picture story board and preproduction book sent to major studios, being years ahead of the industry became a go to source of inspiration for countless Sci-Fi blockbusters which incorporate various visuals and even literary devices (albeit diluting them) making many common place in today’s cinema.

Collage Bab 5, Contact, Tron, Prom, 5th E, Matrx, Termi, Flash, Blade Runner
(left to right) Babylon 5, Contact, Star Wars (a new hope), TRON, Prometheus, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, Blade Runner, Alien, Flash Gordon, & The Terminator.

This film I feel set out to ensure the group’s legacy, particularly Jodorowsky’s who had little success post the Dune fiasco, and remind audience and industry alike at the folly of not taking chances creatively. The teams interpretation of Dune appears to be the best movie which was never made and they provide some in the way of perceived evidence for this case. After watching it some of you will wonder if Star Trek and Star Wars would have become as large franchises as they are now? You find yourself feeling if this Dune came out that the Sci-Fi genre and film-making would have received a much deserved dose of creativity and literary perspective on the art form itself.

Interviews are well shot as the camera movement, angles and distances are solid thanks to David Cavallo. Execution of close ups and specific moments was well done, as when focusing on Jodorowskys hands at different times to emphasis a moment.

One complaint is frugal use of Syd Garon‘s & Paul Griswold‘s animations of Moebius‘s (Jean Giraud) story board and H.R. Giger & Chris Foss sketches. You find yourself wishing they merely used story board and quality narration to the tell the entire story of Dune as they intended, but afterall is this is a documentary about making of the film and not the film, nonetheless some graphic exposition shots were cut too short to enjoy the artists’ mastery.

The Sound was solid, and at times definitely felt atmospheric thanking to the throbbing music provided by Kurt Stenzel. The Editing, handled by Paul Docherty & Alex Ricciardi, was quite alright.

It might have been swell to have Jodorwsky interviewed with several members of crew who are still among us in an intimate setting, so that we can observe some of their chemistry all these years later as they discuss various anecdotes. This felt missing for a movie striving to emphasize, in addition to other notions, what feels like the value of comradeship.

Deeper insight which can be derived is the sheer depth of dedication stemming from unfaltering belief, the dedication of Jodorowsky to make a movie to change the world. The sentiment is echoed by his faction as they discuss the making of the movie. All sacrificed but none complained what they were being put through including Brontis Jodorowsky, the directors son who for two years was training Martial Arts, Sword fighting and Gymnastics to prepare for the role of a young Paul Artriedes.

Giger, O'Bannon, Moebius & Foss
H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon, Moebious & Chris Foss

The story told is spellbinding packed with colourful characters, surreal encounters and events which if not true definitely should be. Jodorwsky’s Dune as a documentary is one of better released the last decade, with refreshingly unique subject matter. I am most impressed by the drive of Jodorwsky himself as with the talent and contributions of primary collaborators Moebious, H.R. Giger, Chriss Foss & Dan O’Bannon. It is this tandem of four gathered by Jodorowsky which brought a lot to one of the greatest Sci-Fi franchises ever Alien, and we appreciate the director’s hand in it.

I feel this movie appeals most to true fans of quality Sci-Fi and deeper cinema offerings (especially movie makers), skewing more to the 30 and up crowd who might have grown up hearing urban legends of the legendary Dune which was never made. Not to say a younger audience would not enjoy it but might find it harder to relate to as they are too young to remember some of the long gone pop culture icons involved in the project.

From a score of 1-5 this film gets:

4/5

Please leave a Comment, Like, Subscribe and Share! If there is any Movie, Comic, Series, Game or Film you would like our team at Nerd Dimension to review YOU please let us know!

All images used are property of Snowfort Pictures, CameraOne, Endless Picnic, Babylonian Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Warner Bros., South Side Amusement Company, Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Productions, Lisberger/Kushner, Twentieth Century Fox, Dune Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Gaumont, Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, Groucho Film Partnership, The Ladd Company, Shaw Brothers, Warner Bros., Brandywine Productions, Twentieth Century-Fox Productions, Starling Films, Dino De Laurentiis Company, Famous Films, Hemdale, Pacific Western, Euro Film Funding, their associate/affiliates and various media outlets and I claim no rights over them.

 

Nerd Dimension Podcast TOS EP 4 , MOVIES !!!

Another show from the trio nerdos so tune in to hear their take on movie, movies and more movies !!!

Your favorite Nerds have succeeded in sending out another signal from the dark depths of  the dimension they are voluntarily trapped in. Stream their latest show and hear them go in on bad movies and praise some old favorites. The team recorded a long one this time around for all of our fans who said they wished they were a bit longer. Let us know what you think in the comments and please share with those you feel may enjoy our content.

Who are the Defenders?

The premier piece from our latest contributor Pat. Read about a Super Hero team that never was really a team and learn something new about The Defenders. The show sucked but like with most things, the original content is was way better!

Who are the Defenders?

 

When The Defenders television series was just announced by Netflix, a friend of mine asked me who they were. This seemed a bit odd to me because they were such a major superhero team for Marvel Comics in the 1970’s. But now they have become forgotten. So allow me to remind you. . . .

The Defenders started as separate team ups between Doctor Strange and the Incredible Hulk, and Doctor Strange and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. This was followed by a three way team up of the Hulk, Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer. Finally, all four of them were given their own book: the Defenders. The prequel team-ups had been written by “Rascally” Roy Thomas, who continued to write stories about them in Marvel Feature. But once the Defenders got their own title, the writing chores were handed off to “Stainless” Steve Englehart. Several of the Early issues were inked by Bill Everett, the artist who co- created both the Sub-Mariner in the 1940’s and Daredevil in the 1960’s. From the beginning it was obvious that The Defenders would have a different vibe that the other team books. The Avengers were a semi military organization. The Fantastic Four were a Family whereas the X-men were more of a school club. The Defenders however were something entirely different and new to comics, they were the Non-Team. They had no set members or roster to speak of. In fact, when Valkyrie asked to become the fifth member of The Defenders, the Sub-Mariner told her that she could not join The Defenders because, The Defenders were not a Team. Each issue hit the shelves and you never knew who would be in The Defenders that Month. In one of the later issues The Defenders were Doctor Strange, Iceman and Mister Fantastic. A cover of one the early issues shows The Defenders (Doctor Strange, Valkyrie, Nighthawk and Yellowjacket) being rescued by The Defenders (Hulk, Luke Cage, Daredevil and the Son of Satan). At one point The Defenders held a television interview and the next day twenty heroes (including Iron Fist) showed up at Nighthawk’s home, asking to sign up and join The Defenders. At the same time, two different groups of villains banded together and proclaimed themselves to be the ‘real’ Defenders! Still even though the membership was constantly in flux, (there was an extended period in the middle of their run where Doctor Strange was absent) There were certain heroes who showed up in the pages of the Defenders more often than others did.

That list of Heroes is: Doctor Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, the Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hellcat, Son of Satan, Gargoyle and Beast.

Some of their Major Stories include: the Avengers/Defenders War (When Steve Englehart wrote both books, and in which Hawkeye was a Defender), a crossover with the Guardians of the Galaxy (Which writer, Steve Gerber spun off into their on series), the ascension to cosmic power levels of the Red Guardian and the Presence, the Six Fingered Hand saga (written by J.M. DeMatteis) And the liberation of the Squadron Supreme’s world from the mental domination of the Overmind. (Also by J.M. DeMatteis)

But unlike other comics, The Defenders had almost no recurring villains. Xemu the Titan fought them a couple of times in their early issues. Nebulon the Celestial Man fought them three times. Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants only fought The Defenders one time. But this was a major turning point in the mutant mastermind’s life, as the battle left him reverted to childhood. When, a few years later in the pages of the New Uncanny X- men, he was restored, it was to the peak of his powers.

After the 100th issue, the Beast became a regular member of the Defenders. This worked out so well that Iceman and Angel were brought in too. This changed the whole feel of the group under writer Peter Gillis’ tenure, which lasted a couple of more years before the book was canceled and the original X-Men re-united in the pages of X-Factor.

In the decades since, there have been a few attempts to revive the Defenders and reintroduce them to new fans. Though many of the heroes who have appeared in the Defenders did appear on television screens in the 90s (Silver Surfer, Mister Fantastic, X-men etc.) it was not until recently that Luke Cage, Dr. Strange and Iron fist  recently releasing theatrical releases and Netflix shows. But prior to the live action shows and the Cumberbatch film Fist and Cage had been getting more spotlight through starring in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series with Dr. Strange having a recurring role, Marvel obviously doing good in setting up these characters with the younger audience. In the realm of comics none of the attempts after print cancellation lasted as long as the original run. So when, in the recent Doctor Strange film, the Evil Eye, the McGuffin from the Avengers/Defenders war was used as a club; I was brought back to the early days of the Defenders.

Book and photograph property of Nerd Dimension

Hope you enjoyed my piece on the Defenders and will look forward to my next one that will have me shed light on Nighthawk.

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Image return ! Saga Volume 1 (Comic Book Review)

Nerd Dimension bring you a review of the award winning first volume the internet were talking about. Have Image reclaimed the throne for different and dark again?

I first learned about Saga through some of the pages I am a member of on social media and saw other members uploading panel pictures and praising this book as something the industry has been needing for years. I had not heard Image were planning to come with something big in ages and missed the first run but then again I am biased. To this humble blogger their best work will always be their franchise player, Al Simmons aka Spawn (something I recommend to anybody looking for a darker comic and anti-hero dishing out tons of carnage). Image developed a reputation for publishing the books the other big companies shied away from.

When I decided to do some research it seemed to be a Space Opera meets Fantasy as you have two protagonists fleeing with a baby across space while being chased by the two of biggest armies in the universe. Did not seem too original, granted, I still decided to keep digging and especially with all the great reviews I had read. I learned that the writer, Brian K. Vaughn had worked for both DC and Marvel comics in his career, writing for X-men, Green Lantern, Batman, Spider-man and Captain America. As well as working with big names in the world of comics he also worked on 3 seasons of ABCs smash ‘Lost’ and worked on Showtimes adaptation of Stephen Kings ‘Under The Dome’ I was surprised to see that his illustrative counter part and partner in comics, Fiona Staples was nowhere near his status or caliber. When I was googling her and trying to find out more about her I did not see her tied to any of the major titles or franchises.

It was not until I was in Comics Heaven in Stockholm when I managed to get my hands on a hard copy and immediately fell in love with the artwork. It looked good and my research told me what the story was supposed to go like. I avoid reading spoilers for anything including comics as to best experience the book. I read the volume in one sitting and was immediately hooked by the first chapter. The way Vaughn created this interesting setting with far from perfect characters was interesting. The conflicts and set up is done just right and the subject matter is not for kids. One of my favorite characters has got to be the Freelance ‘The Stalk”. The adult content of the panels was refreshing to see coming from a big publisher but it was not cheap if you understand what I am getting at. They did not use nudity of obscenities to mask a poor plot, it all comes together like a great stew sprinkled with just enough to make it a hearty read.  The 13 awards the book received in 2013 only reinforces my claim of the quality of this first installment.

It was interesting to me how the writer managed to create these characters who did fit certain RPG archetypes yet managed to have them come off as unique to his setting. The language used by the different players in this grim universe adds a dose of reality along with slight twists that actually make sense. Not being a big fan of campy comics I see myself continuing to read this series.

The things I did not like was the lack of explanations for humans, it appears that regular humans do not seem to play a big role in this setting and I sadly cannot divulge  much more without spoiling the first issue. The coloring at times seemed a little dull but not enough to put you off from reading. I do see the coloring as an aid for setting the tone but still I would have preferred different palettes for some of the scenes. Now a minor warning to some, this is not capes and chaos but rather a mash up of several modern genres by splicing together high sci fi, low fantasy, intrigue and a hefty load of dystopia.

All in all I give this first volume:

7.5 out of 10

 

Conclusion: Saga has succeeded in being a fresh and did manage to get the comic community talking and has maintained it fanbase and following years after the release. When other books fizzle out or fail to keep the pacing Vaughn managed to script a book that reads like a movie and Staples delivers panels that match that narrative. People coming to this book will have a different experience from the usual and I urge those who enjoy Sandman and Preacher to skim through some of the pages as it is not the run of the mill book.

 

Saga FC Vol1

So until next time, never dog ear your pages when there is always a receipt lying around to be used as bookmark. Just be sure it is not the bill from the BDSM spot you went to last week.

 

Nerd Dimension Podcast : The Couch Coop Convo

New podcast up, twist up, flip the cap and lay back as the nerds take you for another joy ride through fun fantasy and f##kery

 

In this episode our three terrible hosts discuss couch coop titles, some of the best games, a few undiscovered gems and give you their usual spiel. Apollo is still the overbearing intellectual, Gus is always trying to bring the balance as Mike continues to throw out crazy comments like they are going out of style. So sit back, relax and enjoy  🙂

 

Aliens : Colonial Marines ( Xbox 360 Game Review ) * Couch COOP Gaming *

We take on the the Aliens in this splitscreen shooter, read more to see how we faired and what we think of one of the worst reviewed games in console history.

To clarify for all of our readers that the guy who wrote this review was a fan of Aliens from the jump. The first Aliens game I played was on Sega and I spent hours of my early teens in Lan gaming spots playing the first Aliens Versus Predator with an IV drip of soda and pyramids  of snack wrappers littering my immediate surroundings . All fandom aside this will be an honest critique of the game where the franchise history factored only slightly in regards to ‘theme’ and ‘story’. Having hear many negative things about the games AI I still held out hope when I heard writers from Battlestar Gallactica worked on the plot, trying to approach the game without bias proved harder than I expected.

It would be wrong to ignore the power a brand can have on influencing your first impression or motivations in purchasing a game. The Ridley Scott classic movies made Xenomorphs one of the most identifiable aliens in popular cultural putting them in the same category as ET, the Predator, the Grays and the green men from Mars. Every kid wanted to blast those aliens and if nothing this game promised you that out the gate.

Needless to say we were curious to see the campaign Sega managed to pull together with all the existing source material available and if would play as well as it should compared to previous shooters under the same brand. It was their second game after purchasing the franchise and took the developer Gearbox which had worked on a version for the Playstation 2 earlier butt hat project was scrapped. Sega had a lot of pressure to deliver and I would be lying if I said this game even came close. In fact after playing the game the first time I read that it was considered to be in the top 10 worst games of all time. This game was released in a time when Sega had long given up on consoles and were making the millions in intellectual property so they did not have that many games in the works.

Off the bat the graphics are not the best we have seen as the campaign opens with you and your player 2 getting briefed on the USS Sephora before things start blowing up. As expected for the classic first person title the controls are standard and easy to learn while the darkness and shadows are done well making it feel more authentic adding to the overall horror theme. Despite the graphics seeming kind of blocky in the some of the cut scenes when compared to other titles out at the time. The designers and developers dropped the ball so much that at a few times while playing I was genuinely disappointed because I expected more from Sega.

The are arsenal contains all time fan favorite pulse rifle with upgrades and gadgets to add to your enjoyment such as red dots beams, scopes and grenade launchers to boot. Shotguns, pistols and smart-guns make for more passionate slaying though we feel more weapons should have been offered and the option of dual wielding pistols would have been something good to see.

Its reminiscent of the newer Doom and its predecessors as my brother and I swept through corridors shredding xenomorphs while remaining silent and on edge. the tension adding to the immersion of the game. The game is not as easy as expected and will leave you frustrated but in a good way because you really want to pass that next checkpoint. We recommend having a 40″ TV or monitor and up minimum to be able to enjoy the splitscreen experience in the its fullness.

Sadly the game clocks short at 11 levels with an extra level with the Limited Edition we played. The game does have highs and lows as the short campaign, less than smooth graphics and no DLC or expansions leaves Aliens Colonial Marines with much to desire. The upside is that it is fun to play, it won’t have you as glued as Borderlands but there is something in the nostalgia of it that leaves you on the edge of the couch. The game is too dark at times and turning up the brightness highlights some of the bad graphics but after some fiddling you can reach a playable compromise. I feel Sega were banking on releasing something that could keep gamers interested in Aliens but failed in creating a classic game let alone breathe new life to such a titan of a franchise. Bodying waves to Aliens, acidic highlighter colored ooze splashing everywhere, covering your other players back and the gore and explosions will test even the best of friendships. There were time I found myself taking a smoke break after being frustrated at certain points in the game, partly because of my paper thin nerves and mostly because of glitches and some stupid game architecture. Be warned, if Left 4 Dead has you screaming at your teammates this might having you choking them !!! We strongly advise playing this with the lights down low and in coop because it seems to be intended to be played that way. The short campaign and difficulty in solo play points to this being a two player experience.

All in all a fun game, worth the purchase and can be found cheap second hand. You have to stick together so the coop is emphasized and is a must have if you are looking for something other than zombies and terrorists. A good game to play through a few times but don´t expect it to be in your top 20 and it will not be something you come back to often. However, I do enjoy pulling it out after I watch of the Aliens movies so there is always that.

Giving this game a rating of

5 out of 10

Let us not get it twisted or misconstrued, ACM is far from a good game but it passes the minimal requirements. If we look at the third gen console library you will be hardpressed to find that many couch coop titles and this is one of the less than 20 titles availible. With XBOX live and PSN removing other titles the list is even shorter so that helped give ACM that extra point to get it to a passing grade. The sound is on point and you do feel that paranoia when scanning corridors with your pulse rifle. The lack of weapons, customization and personalization is a downside along with no extra content to spice things for repeat play. We factored in how cheap you get a copy for and it does give a decent coop experience if you have run out of things to play. Despite the short campaign and visible glitches of the developers made this a game Sega probably wishes never came out. This is a game which you can buy for cheap and breeze through in less than a dozen settings but do not expect to revisit it much after you have finished it.

Stay tuned for more reviews on Aliens games that we will be posting and commenting on in our podcast and on this site. Let us know what you felt of the game, did the carnage even satisfy even the least bit? Was the the story as boring to you as it was for me? Did this leave a permanent dent in Sega and its legacy as a developer?

Something good for the Fantasy Horror genre. Nerd Dimension recommends : Grimm (TV Series)

The Emmy nominated series is our new recommendation from Nerd Dimension so make sure you checkout why we think it is one of the best shows in recent years.

It seemed for a while that every network were throwing their hat into the fantasy/sci fi genre in recent years with the successes of Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.and fan favorite Supernatural in the ratings. To be honest I think it would have started even sooner were it not for the slew of crappy teen vampire shows which left a lot of people loathing nightly programming. It was as if good writers quit and producers were looking to glue sniffing feminists for cues and applied the ‘how crappy can we make it before they change the channel’ philosophy to their script grading process. Every week some pale poser struggled with some petty problem involving a buffer poser with a lousy attitude and an androgynous female love interest while dealing with his lethal reactions to UV rays. For a while I felt studios would just give up on the whole concept of releasing an authentic show with some depth and brought something new to the table.

Grimm has proven to be that much-needed breath of fresh air I was looking for. At the time I decided to stream it they were shooting the second season which told me that there would be more to watch yet I did not see anyone discussing it on blogs and the forums I frequented. So I did what every normal person does when trying to make up their mind, visited IMDB and two other specific reviewers who made the show sound like it was worth giving a shot.


Nathan Burkhart ( David Giuntoli, 13 Hours ) is a tall, dark, Portland PD detective solving crimes in the small city with his partner Hank Griffin ( Russell Hornsby, Meet The Parents, Suits, Shameless) and seems to be living the dream. He likes his job, gets along with his boss and loves his beautiful longtime girlfriend Juliette Silverton ( Elizabeth Tulloch, Concusion, The Artist, Parkland). As you all guessed it, things start to change and change fast.

Nathan starts having what he believes are hallucinations early on in the show just around the time his Aunt and former guardian  Marie Kessler returned to Portland in her RV. She had raised him after he had lost both his parents in a car crash when he was still an infant and left after he joined the academy. The more frequent his visions the crazier he thinks he is going until his aunt tells him the truth about the family. She reveals to him the family curse and that he is descendent of monster slayers who are born with sight to see monsters in their true form. She tells him how the Grimm brothers were actually ‘Grimms’ and the stories were all true. Witches, Wolves and Trolls to name a few. He learns that these creatures, Wesen functioned as normal members of society and nobody can tell what they are unless they themselves choose to reveal true face. Naturally he is forced to keep this a secret from his girlfriend and colleagues and finds a new friend in an antique clock repairman Munroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) who also happens to be a Blutbad which is something like a werewolf. It is then he learns that Grimms are feared throughout the world by Wesen and are considered cold-blooded killers. As he struggles to keep his new-found powers and life in check our detective must fight the very beings of our nightmares while leading a double life which seems to spiral further out of control with each scene.

The show starts off with action but gradually gives decent info dumps so that the viewer gains more insight into the setting and creatures that inhabit this secret world. The acting is spot on featuring a cast that carry the roles convincingly and breathe life into the dialogue. The special effects and CGI are good and not over done and the backdrop of Oregon forests only add to the visuals. The team behind the cameras also do a good job as the show is shot well and the fight scenes are captured with realism and only get better as the show moves on. The producers did bot shy away from blood and obscenities and the mix of surprising plot twists and suspense building scenes make this show a must watch for someone who enjoys their action with a heavy theme and intriguing back story. The more you watch the more you feel like you are accompanying Nathan and his allies as they grow in strength and closer forming believable relationships. The interactions and intensity in some scenes create a viewing experience that is not only memorable but truly enjoyable. Honestly I am surprised that more people don’t watch this show but the three people I did manage to get to stream it were happy and have almost caught up with me. Another thing I simply loved was how they launched a webisode miniseires online entitled Grimm: Meltdown which was creative and truly awesome as I have not seen somebody pull it off as well as NBC did.

I would recommend this show to anybody who enjoys Super Natural, Fringe, Sleepy Hollow and the X-Files for it has something for each fan whether it be mysteries, conspiracies or evil beings that you crave. If you like relatable characters and your darkness with a small splash of perfectly timed humor this is the show for you. The protagonist is as much the ‘everyman’ and never comes across as an over the top hero like in most shows and the twists will have you lining up he next episode regularly. If you are looking for a show you can binge watch this summer with your girlfriend or after work with take out and a beer  be sure to check out Grimm.


Score: 8.5 out of 10 (loose 0.5 for leaving me on a cliffhanger too often lol)

#grimm
Remember that Nerd Dimension welcome all feedback and encourage readers to follow and share our content as well as invite them to submit their projects for review. So til next time don’t double dip the Doritos and the last Mountain Dew is always mine !!!