James Bond returns.

Much has been said about Daniel Craig’s opinions on James Bond, which can be found online at various websites. The main point he wants to get across is that he considers James Bond misogynistic, which for those of you who don’t have a dictionary on hand basically means he hates or mistrusts women. While I don’t think Bond treats all the women he’s with particularly well, the Sean Connery era was rife with the attitudes of that era, as uneasy as they are now, to call him misogynistic is perhaps over reaching.

One aspect of this is the fact that the women he sleeps who are only ever in one Bond movie. The general idea is that Bond leaves them behind as he jets off around the world on another adventure. However what is there to say they were not the ones that ended it? Or that it was a brief and spirited affair, they did in most cases just save the world together, and that does put some people in the mood for it, or so I’m told.

The problem, as I see it lays with the script writer and, to a lesser extent Daniel Craig’s era of Bond. You see, in Casino Royale, he ends up with a women who already had a partner during the movie. In Skyfall, Bond has the, quite frankly creepy shower scene with the girl he just met at the casino in her own apartment. How that is not sending flags up in the mind of the scriptwriter as not okay is some thing I don’t get. Not only that but in Spectre, He then sleeps with a women who has just buried her husband. Look, yes I’m not making good points in the “Bond is not a misogynist” argument but all these examples happened under Mr Craig’s Bond.

The Bond movies do have a problem with women because there aren’t that many parts for them. Despite the bond ladies all being an expert in their fields, or in some cases his equal, they have only ever been two or three women in major roles, which is a shame. Hopefully the next Bond movie can change this, because in this day and age, not being very diverse is not only not reflective of the average audience, but down right boring. And if anyone really wants to be James Bond, well lets take a closer look at his life. He’s a British secret agent who is always tasked with difficult missions that involve shooting and being shot at by people, with one misstep dooming the world. He lives in a dark and lonely world with his only hobbies, drinking and gambling viewed as self-destructive. How that could be seen as a good life style is beyond me.

Under a Spectre

Some time long ago the owners of the James Bond franchise had approached the mythical cross roads and summoned the devil. You see, after the entertaining mess that was “Die another day” the producers were worried about the Bond franchise looking silly and over wrought, and were also worried if it could survive another bout of silly plot contrivances, such as Bond surfing into North Korea, out racing a killer space satellite energy beam or turning the North Korean bad guy into a white British guy. With those thoughts weighing heavily on their minds, they summoned the Devil and offered him a contract. Could he remove the silliness from future Bond movies, to which the Devil agreed, with the added clause that they wouldn’t be fun.

Okay so that’s all rubbish, but have you seen the Daniel Craig Bond movies? They’re so dour and, not that much fun, perhaps too serious for their own good. Casino Royale was great, it had a killer opening song, fun parkour stuff and brilliant, if a little overblown action piece in a sinking house. Ever since that, it seems that fun is a dirty word within the scripting room and any notion of fun has to be removed, lest it ruins the seriousness of the movie.

Spectre follows the long line of Daniel Craig films that can be dubbed “The Daniel Craig experiment”. Before Mr Craig took the reigns, the movies were mostly done in ones, with very little over lap. There might be the occasional overlapping character, but that was it. There was always a Bond, a Felix Lighter, a villain with a bombastic plot and the occasional quip.

Spectre, while functionally good, is just dour and not really fun. It is well shot with particularly the opening bit during the day of the dead parade is amazing, but it quickly falls apart after that. Yes, it’s well acted, but it feels like it’s holding onto the past. Spectre, for legal reasons, weren’t even apart of the Bond movies, and that made them better.

There is the obligatory car chase with a tricked out car that fails to pinch the adrenaline. Mr Hinx continues the bizarre trend of Bond Villains having some weird quirk to them or disfigurement, in this case he doesn’t say any thing, making Mr Hinx a whiter version of Drax. Christoph Waltz is great as the main villain, but then when isn’t he great as with Daniel Craig and Ralph Fiennes in their roles. The action is okay if nothing terrible exciting.

At the end of the day Spectre is an okay Bond film. It’s not as much fun as the others, overly serious and looks good. Not as good Skyfall, but still better than Moonraker. Although to be fair, nothing is as bad as Moonraker. Join me next time when I talk about where the Bond movies went wrong.

Planetary Defence

Warren Ellis is one of my favourite comic writers of all time, nestled neatly between Brain K. Vaughan and the great Larry Hama. He has a distinct voice and is in my mind one of the best single issue writers out there. If you are a comic writer and want to learn how to tell a complete story in one issue, then checkout the back catalogue of Mr Ellis, Global Frequency in particular, or even his recent run on Moon Knight, which set the tone for a series of done in one stories. The one book of Mr. Ellis I would always heartily recommend to anyone though is his book Planetary, with the artwork by John Cassaday.index

Planetary is a book about a crotchety old man Elijah Snow who has slowed aging and has cryokinesis, a women with super strength, durability speed etc named Jakita Wagner and a man who can tap into the flow of information of the world called The Drummer, together they are archaeologists of the impossible. They find and catalog extreme weirdness as they investigate the world they live in. A cannon shell that was shot into space containing three people, a dead Chinese cop hellbent on revenge, a super group who created a computer so advanced it opened a gateway into another world.

The book is a mix of every thing, it has hard sci-fi stories, adventure and even throws in a little horror here and there. There is very little over lap with the stories, and there is an over arching story throughout the 27 issues that is brilliantly written and drawn out. What starts out as a series of barely connected short stories turns into a much larger story, like true archaeology.

It wont be for everyone. Warren Ellis is a weird writer with big ideas, and big ideas don’t often sit will with readers, just as Grant Morrison. If you like your comic books simple, ones that you can put down and move on with your life without thinking about the consequences of the world you just read then Planetary isn’t for you. But if you like tales that haunt you, tells of mad scientists, of a world that is weird, big and scary full of other impossibly conceived notions, then Planetary is the book for you. You may not like the ending, but with Mr Ellis, it’s always more about the journey then the end. And besides, how can you not like a book in which a man shatters  the frozen crotch of Dracula?

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3 Mini reviews

Indy round up.

If you’re like me, then you don’t really take notice of an artist unless he’s either really good or really bad, and even then it’s mostly less of a selling point behind the book and the author and even then it’s more of the concept that drives my purchase. I’d freely buy G.I.Joe regardless of whose writing it to be perfectly honest. I bring this up because I backed artist Gene Ha’s book Mae mostly because of an article on comicsallaince and it was a delightful read, of what there was of it.

It was a kickstarter book, and it was a tremendous read, especially for a first time writer such as Mr Ha. If you can, you should try to track down a copy because it has a good story and interesting character designs with the main characters being womenfolk who can take care of themselves. But as I said, it’s only 60 or some pages of story, which barely amounts to a cup of coffee, and the story ends just as it gets going, as if you’ve sat down at a fancy restaurant and ordered an entree thinking it was a main meal. It’s not bad, and it serves itself well as a teaser, I just wish there was more story out there, so perhaps it’s done it’s job quite well. There is more Mae coming out next year according to Gene Ha himself, so keep that in mind.

Eight: Outcast, by artist Rafael Albuquerque and writer Mike Johnson is a time travelling tale with a twisted narrative. The story is enjoyable with memorable characters and a great story, except that like with Mae, there isn’t a definitive sense of closure. It takes place over three time periods and a place called “The Meld” Each time period has its own colour scheme which is a great way to keep track of when the story takes place.

But like Mae, the story feels like it ended with some questions not being answered and some fates left unknown. There is a difference between an ambiguous ending and not answering questions you presented during your story. That said, the book is pretty strong, and if you enjoy time travel, stories set in an otherworld or just adventure stories in general, then you could do a lot worse then Eight: Outcast. Hopefully there is a future volume coming out with some more answers to it.

Injection, a comic by Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey, is a fantastic read, but it is a little difficult to explain just what it is about. It’s set in a contemporary England and follows five people, one who may even be a wizard, as they go about a world in which increasing bizarre things have been occurring. It deals with a mashup of magic and occult, with explanations for both occurrences within the story.

If you’re a fan of the X-files, Supernatural or just a damn fine read then there is a lot of to like. It has great characters, pitch black humour and is one of the more “out there” books on the market. If you like Warren Ellis, it’s his normally brilliant self and it feels like a spiritual successor to his other fine book Planetary. While not a must read, should be on your radar.

A (Justice) League of their own.

The major event from DC comics this year was the Convergence book, and much like Marvel’s current event Secret War, it involved the world as they knew it ending. I bring it up because even though I picked up each book, and some of the tie ins, I found it to be rather unfulfilling as a story. However the Darksied War currently being waged in the in pages of the Justice League is more my jam.

For those who haven’t been reading that book, the Anti-Monitor who last appeared on Earth 3 has shown up looking to kill Darksied because of reasons. It has all the markings of an epic event, which it isn’t really. I mean technically it is because it has tie ins but it isn’t really considered an event in the same way an event is normally handled. That said it is the best kind of event, and one that should happen more often.

You see, all of the action is taking place in one main book with only 6 tie ins, mostly focusing on the new, new gods of the Justiuce League, such as Batman, Superman etc. It also has an epic story line that is worthy of it’s on event, but the fact that it is content to one book and spread out over however many issues means it’s a more streamlined book, one that isn’t bogged down by all the various tie ins that can come with an event. There is only 6, which is kind of refreshing.

The book itself has been building towards this ever since Forever Evil, which was also written by Geoff Johns, who is the writer of Justice League, and all the issues in between, from the League’s dust up with the Doom Patrol and the amazo virus had felt like filler. The entire series to be honest, hasn’t been this strong for a while, with mostly minor crossovers, like the throne of Atlantis, or the Forever Evil tie in issues bringing the series down.

Whether or not you’ll enjoy it depends on whether or not you like Darksied, Geoff John’s writing and the New Gods. But if you want to read an event comic without it being an event comic, then you could a heck of a lot worse.