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Who will watch the Watchmen?

So news (or a rumor?) has recently emerged that Lost and The Leftovers co-creator/show-runner, Damon Lindelof has been tapped to adapt Alan Moore & David Gibbon’s iconic comic series, Watchmen into a television show for HBO, and…I have mixed feelings…

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Look, if you’ve read just about any entry in this blog or if you’ve broken into my house and seen my graphic novel collection (yes, I said, “graphic novel” because I am a fancy man and I like fancy things), or if you’ve talked to me for more than like, five minutes about comic books, you’ll know I’m a pretty big fan of Alan Moore, and while I don’t really have any issues with movie studios adapting his work to film as long as they’re good (shit, adapt anything as long as it’s good), I don’t know if we need another Watchmen adaptation. But then again, do we need any comic adaptation?

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Yes, yes we do.     

Real talk: I like Zack Snyder’s 2009 film quite a bit. I’ve watched the 4 hour director’s cut a few times and despite some issues I have with it (notably Ozymandias’ portrayal and that sex scene that really pumps the brakes on the whole film) I feel like it’s about as good of a Watchmen adaption I ever thought we’d get.

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Oh you know, Adrian…he’s a very compl-

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But, he had a good reason for-

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Fine.

But can it be done better?

Maybe? I like most of Lindelof’s work. I loved Lost (even the ending, which I could write a 10 page dissertation about) and The Leftovers is amazing, so if anyone is going to tackle this property, he seems like the right guy to do it.

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Drink if Jack cries dies.

As long as he can bring in the more cerebral aspects of the book and refrains from boiling down the characters to their most palatable and bring forth their complexities in a mature manner, then I think it might outshine the movie.

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Me again…so…are you sure we shouldn’t explore-

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Honestly, my biggest fear is that this might be a cash grab since now the Watchmen universe is starting to bleed over into the DC comic universe (a decision that has been met with mixed emotions from the comic community at large).

But as long as Lindelof and Co. treat the material with the respect it deserves, I’m sure it’ll be great. Is it necessary? Nah. But fuck it. It might be cool.

Also, I wouldn’t be terribly upset if they left out this guy:

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Is that  your…oh, never mind. 

 

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You know…

…It’s moment like this that make me love Uncanny X-Force, you guys.

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I know everyone has seen it by now, but can we just admire this one more time?:

March can’t get here soon enough.

2016 Superhero Movie Reviews!

So this dumpster fire of a year is coming to a close, which means it’s time for lists! Yes, the Internet loves best of and worst of lists and year end retrospectives and whatnot as much as it loves cats, pornography, and gorillas (for some fucking reason). So I figured I would toss my hat in the ring and give you my thoughts on all the comic book movies that were theatrically released this year (chronologically) and grade them.  Let us begin:

February 12th

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Deadpool

It’s pretty good…

Sorry, I’m not going to jump this movie’s bones like the rest of the Internet. Yes, I thought Ryan Reynolds was perfect casting. And yes, there were some fantastic jokes that landed so hard they made me short of breathe from laughter. And yes, the big action sequences (both of them) were outstanding considering the budget the filmmakers were working with. But just like the titular character’s comic counterpart, Deadpool got on my nerves after a while.

I’ve been a longtime reader of Deadpool comics and the character is always more interesting when he’s playing second fiddle to just about anyone else (i.e. Cable and Deadpool; Deadpool vs. Hawkeye). I’ve always felt like there isn’t enough well-defined pathos to really make you give a shit about Wade Wilson enough, let alone watch him carry a film by himself. But despite that sentiment, Deadpool worked and was surprisingly energetic with a romance story that didn’t make me want to bash my face against the wall of a Hallmark Greeting Cards store.

Hopefully Deadpool 2 will do a great job with Cable. I feel like that groundwork for that relationship has already been laid with all the bits featuring Colossus. So…more of that, please.

Final Grade: B+

 

March 25th

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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

No. Just no.

Every inane “plot point” in this superhero abortion has been argued over by smarter men than I. If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of what I think about BvS, get a few beers in me and tell me you actually liked.

This movie sucks on a level I never knew existed.

Final Grade: F

 

May 6th

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Captain America: Civil war

I already touched on this movie before, and dammit, I like it. I the introduction of both Black Panther and Spider-Man felt natural and while the latter character’s presence was by no means necessary, it didn’t detract from the film. If anything, Spidey popping up felt like a nice little reprieve from the looming chaos that was about to ensue.

I don’t think this is my favorite Marvel flick thus far (that honor still belongs to Guardians of the Galaxy), but it’s definitely in the top 5. Also this cover…

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…it became real. And it was breathtaking.

Final Grade: A

 

May 27th

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X-Men: Apocalypse

Unlike most critics and the majority of my friends, I didn’t hate this movie. I actually kinda dug it. All the silly shit that made me love the ‘90s X-Men animated series as a kid was there: goofy costumes, bad jokes, lasers and shit, etc. X-Men: Apocalypse did what I never thought the X-Men movies would do, and it embraced the absolute absurdity of this franchise. But it did so without this…or this… I’m not going to say this a perfect film. Hell, there were a lot of things that were flat out dumb, but this one felt like a real deal X-Men team film and that final shot-

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Yeah that one – made me squeal in the theater. JUST LOOK AT THOSE COSTUMES! I enjoyed this movie so much, I even wrote an op-ed on it.

Final Grade: B

 

June 3rd

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

You know, as a man in my early 30s who grew up on Ninja Turtles, I was super excited to see this movie. The first film in this franchise didn’t do much for me(aside from a badass Splinter & Shredder brawl), but the trailers for this sequel promised a movie that should have knocked it out of the park.

I was getting a “live action” Boobop, Rocksteady, and Krang (fucking KRANG!) for the first time ever, Casey Jones was popping up, and the Shredder looked like he was going to be an actual character instead of some random guy who jumps inside of a giant robot. Well, TMNT: OOTS (by the way, this movie will forever be known as Oots) delivered on those promises in the same way an alcoholic parent promises to get you a new bike for Christmas but instead they bring home a Radio Flyer missing a couple wheels that they fished out of dumpster behind a TGI Fridays and they force you to take it out for a spin on Christmas morning (there’s eggnog to drink and they don’t need to be bothered by your constant crying).

Look, what I’m trying to say is this movie sucked.

Final Grade: D

 

July 25th

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Batman: The Killing Joke

This one hurt. I am a HUGE Alan Moore fan, and while I think The Killing Joke is one of his lesser works, it is an important piece of Batman history.

But do we need an adaptation? Not now, we don’t. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, adapting this very slim one-shot graphic novella into a half hour TV special would have make a huge splash and shocked audiences, but padding it out to feature length with an awkward sex scene and a boring B plot regarding gangsters Batgirl is investigating just make the whole thing a big mess that is equal parts tiring and trite. What saddens me further is that one of my favorite comic writers working today, Mr. Brian Azzarello, wrote the screenplay. I know he can write Batman well. I seen’t it!

Final Grade: D-

 

August 5th

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Suicide Squad

“Hey, Mike, was Jared Leto any good as the Joker?’

Why don’t you ask him yourself?

“Hey Jared, how do you think your Joker turned out on the big screen?”

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That’s because he was barely in the damn movie. And look, before you cry foul and tell me, “this isn’t Joker’s movie,” I know. I know. I know. I fucking KNOW. But don’t parade around a character so prominently in your ad campaign and not feature him in your movie. I don’t recall Rogue One doing that with Vader, and guess what, IT WORKED.

This movie was garbage. Not offensive-make-me-wanna-kill-myself garbage. Just uninspired, boring, dumb garbage, which is something I can deal with if it didn’t take itself so seriously.

Final Grade: D

 

November 4th

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Doctor Strange

Full disclosure: I know fuck all about Doctor Strange. With that being said, it’s hard for me to judge this on the source material (even though I am privy to the fact the character of The Ancient One was whitewashed like middle school American history text book). But I will say that as a standalone movie, I really enjoyed it. Sure, it was basically a mystical rehash of the first Iron Man film, but who cares? If a movie feels like a comfortable pair of pajama pants, you might as well wear them (guys, I’m bad at metaphors). Benedict Cumberbatch was great in the way Benedict Cumberbatch is great in everything (even when he’s playing “Kahn” in a shitty Star Trek movie).

Final Grade B+

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The work of Alan Moore Part 1 FUNSIZE reviews

The fact that I love the work of Alan Moore is no secret. I talk about the guy constantly; I bought his massive tome of a novel; hell, I even ran a Top 5 list of the author’s comic work over at Bounding into Comics. However, that list didn’t really reflect my own opinion since it was polled by the other writers on the site.So I feel like this blog would be the best place to really tackle Mr. Moore’s body of work.

Let’s get to it (you know how this works: things’ll be graded on an A+ – F scale). But before we do, keep in mind that there are a few things out there by Moore I haven’t read, so if something isn’t on this list, it’s because I haven’t gotten up in its guts yet, or I’ve already touched on it on this blog before…

One last note: I am not going to grade these in any sort of order, chronologically, quantifyingly, or otherwise. Don’t look for a method to the madness; just go with it, bruh.

 

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Future Shocks (1980 – 1983)

Alan Moore spent most of his fledgling years cranking out stories for 2000 AD, particularly for one of the magazine’s flagship strips, Tharg’s Future Shocks, which are fun, short little sci-fi tales with twist endings. Honestly, they were very hit or miss, but the raw talent Moore possessed was undeniable in those little nuggets. Unfortunately, for every great (dare I say fucking brilliant) short story Moore ran, there were two or three ho-hum entries.

Final Grade: C-

 

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From Hell (1986 – 1996)

It rules. Read it. This is arguably Moore’s best work. That is all.

Final Grade: A+

 

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Spawn # 8, 32, & 37, Spawn: Blood Feud, Violator, Violator vs Badrock (1993 – 1997ish)

Image Comics was weird as shit in the ’90s. The company was producing some of the best artwork of the decade, but didn’t have a stable of great writers (sorry Jim Lee, but, no*) to elevate the material. Luckily Todd McFarlane and co. decided to hire some writers work a shit, and suddenly guys like Grant Morrison, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and Moore were writing Wild C.A.T.S., The Maxx (which, in my opinion, never needed a writer to step in; that book was fucking great), and,of course Spawn (a comic that all four of the aforementioned writers took a stab at). Moore was the biggest contributor to the Image line up, writing for all these books and more. Ultimately his contribution to Spawn was very scatter-shot (as it was with all the Image titles he worked on). His Violator titles were pretty fun and issue #8 of Spawn actually introduced me to the work of Alan Moore and is a story that might be the best thing to ever come out of ’90s era Image…but the rest of it? Not so much. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having a huge nostalgic soft spot for these comics, but in the end, you could tell Moore enjoyed playing with someone else’s toys, but his heart wasn’t completely in it.

Finale Grade: C+ (except Spawn #8. That gets an A)

*Yes, I know Jim Lee didn’t write the scripts for the early WildC.A.T.S. comics, but they were his creation and he was credited with “story by.” Now, fuck off, nerd. 

 

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Neonomicon (2010 – 2011)

Look, I’m a sucker for Lovecraftian horror…like a big sucker for it. If I ask you what a work of fiction is like, and you say the words “Lovecraftian” or “Cthulhu-esque,” the chance of me consuming said piece of fiction significantly increases (by the way, the work of David Foster Wallace is not Lovecraftian and my English major brother is a lying asshole). Now when  you tell me that there’s an Alan Moore comic that is directly tapping into H.P. Lovecraft’s world but is eschewing and/or satirizing all the horribly racist and sexist overtones, I’m gonna read that goddamn comic. Maybe I went into Neonomicon with inflated hopes, but it didn’t hit me with the level of elation I was hoping for. It’s not bad. Hell, it’s actually a pretty easy read (if you can stomach some pretty grotesque shit which may or may not include some non-consensual fish-monster-man on girl action), but it was certainly not on par with Moore’s usually caliber. The only think that really made this even remotely worthwhile is the tight dialogue and pretty interesting characters.  I guess I should probably grade this on a curve.

Final Grade: B- (but like a 71/100 as a weighted score)

 

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Marvelman/Miracleman (1982 – 1984)

The issues Moore scripted for this series did two things: 1. it set an amazing tone for what would follow (and is still in the works) by succeeding writer Neil Gaiman, and 2. it basically acts as a dry-run for Moore’s quintessential superhero deconstruction comic, Watchmen. I feel that this is arguably one of Moore’s most important works and really displays his prowess as a writer, running the gamut of what comics can offer. From action-packed super brawls to trippy sci-fi conspiracies to introspective poetry about the sorrows of humanity, Miracleman kinda does it all. This series is rarely discussed among comic fans, but it is often imitated (just go watch Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel; it basically shares the same plot beats as Moore’s initial arc). With all that being said, there are a few drawbacks to the book: some of the pop culture references are dated, and the third act drags a bit. But ultimately this is good, good shit, you guys. Go read it.

Final score: B+

 

Okay, so that about does it for now. I’ll be back with more Moore (see what I did there?) reviews soon. In the meantime, what do you guys think. Talk shit below. Am I right about From Hell? Pfffft…of course, I am.

 

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Logan? Yes, please.

So the new trailer for 20th Century Fox’s third Wolverine solo movie, Logan dropped today and it made my comic geek heart sing.

Yes, I know that this trailer bears little resemblance to Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s absolutely stellar limited series Old Man Logan in regards to the players in the story or its primary conflict, but seeing Hugh Jackman all scarred up and grizzled and the overall look of what they showed in the trailer nailed the attitude of the comic.

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*This ain’t your granddaddy’s Wolverine, bub. This is granddaddy Wolverine.*

Maybe I’m a sucker for comics where characters get the ol’ Dark Knight Returns treatment. Hell, I really loved Spider-Man: Reign and some of my fellow comic fans have shunned me because of it. But this movie looks like it might be something special.

…Or it could be a steaming pile of shit like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Guess we’ll have to wait until March to find out. But my fingers are crossed. Honestly, the Wolverine solo films have nowhere else to go but up.

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Updates and Such

Sorry for being absent for so long. I didn’t know if I was going to stick to this thing when I first started it, and I kinda dropped the ball. In my defense, I’ve been working a few projects over the last month or so (one of them including a manuscript for a potentially ridiculous book).

Things don’t seem to be winding down anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a moment to praise over and bitch about comic-related news and whathaveyou.

So let’s do this bullet point style:

  • Fuck Suicide Squad. It wasn’t the garbage fire that BvS was, but it was insultingly bland and could have easily been the DC Expanded Universe’s chance to fix its bullshit.
  • Speaking of DCEU, that Wonder Woman trailer looks fucking rad.
  • JLA…not so much.
  • Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are teaming up for a new comic series called Moonshine. This excites me very, very much.
  • I picked up Alan Moore’s new novel, Jerusalem. It’s heavy and could easily kill a toddler if you dropped it on said toddler’s head. I’ll be ready to get up in its guts once I finish a few other books ahead of it. The girth of this tome doesn’t really bother me too much. After all, I did read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. But don’t expect any feedback anytime soon. That fucker’ll take some time.
  • Speaking of Alan Moore. He’s retiring from comics! What? I mean, I guess that’s fine. The man doesn’t really owe us anything else.
  • So Frank Miller’s TDK3: The Master Race is running 9 issues. Great. Guess I’ll have to wait longer to buy the trade.
  • Fuck that Watchmen hardback individual issue thing DC is releasing.
  • I’m finally getting around to reading Kell Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios’ Pretty Deadly and I love it to pieces. Sometimes it’s okay to show up late to the party because the pretty girl is there waiting for you no matter what.
  • I read Alan Moore’s Crossed + 100. I dug it. Not much more than that. There were some really cool ideas but Moore does horror best when his subject matter is rooted in the occult.
  • Luke Cage is coming! Get pumped!

I think that’s about it. I’m still contributing to http://www.boundingintocomics.com from time to time but not with the same frequency I once was. 

Until next time: Kill your TV. Read comics.

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Quick Rant

I try to avoid comments sections on pop culture sites like the fucking plague. Often times there seems to be disconnect between what people read and what the writer intended to convey to their audience. This causes chaos (sometimes racist, sexist chaos), and it does nothing to change someone’s opinion, which, if we’re being frank, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Who gives a shit if an Internet blogger actually liked Batman V. Superman (I mean, they’re wrong, but whatevs)? Why would any intelligent reader get riled up by clickbait?

The answer is that…we’re human. We love the things we love and when someone is mean to those things, we often try to defend them, and sometimes taking up arms is a petty and fruitless endeavor.

I’m writing about this because I have recently fallen into the dark pit of comments. On a rather popular comic book site, I saw a thread that simply read “Alan Moore or Jack Kirby?” I chuckled at how silly this fragmented sentence was and immediately had to see what people were saying. I was actually sort of taken aback. There seemed to be no solid argument for either side. People were referencing comics by both creators and what they meant to the commenters, personally, and in some cases how much they impacted comics themselves.

I immediately wanted to write a post schooling these knuckleheads. I mean, there is a right answer here. And that answer is: Both. Moore has cited Kirby as one of his biggest influences, and both men have created important work that changed the comic landscape at different periods in time. I suppose you could say you there would be no Moore if there were no Kirby, but that’s a huge leap. Ultimately asking a question like it would be like asking, who is a better front man, James Brown or Mick Jagger? They both rule, but certainly one was influenced by the other.

But what do I know? I’m just another asshole on the Internet. I guess the moral of the story is just read more comics and don’t argue about who is the greatest creator of all time. Eventually we’ll get another Jack Kirby and another Alan Moore and another Stan Lee (j/k).

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The work of Brian Azzarello Part 2 FUNSIZE reviews

Let’s get into it:

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Spaceman (2011-2012)

This is a weird one that a lot of folks did not seem to enjoy. I recall being in the monitory in my gaggle of comic buddies when it came to praising Spaceman. I actually thought this miniseries was a well thought out story with some really great ideas. I don’t remember Azzarello ever tackling science fiction before (as long as you don’t count Superman) and I thought he pretty much knocked it out of the park. The characters were great. The unreliable timeline was compelling. I only wish this book had lasted longer.

Final Grade: A-

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Superman: For Tomorrow (2004 -2005)

This one felt like a cash-grab. I don’t direct that toward the creators. No, no, no. That missile is aimed steadily at DC. Jim Lee was hot off of Batman: Hush and this book felt like the publisher wanted to simply capitalize on having such a superstar artist in their ranks. It’s not godawful, but fuck me, it ain’t great. I will say that the scene where Superman basically threatens the Earth was fantastic. Otherwise, this is a forgettable comic, and it makes me sad.

Final Grade: C-

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Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach (2012)

You know what. It’s fine. Not great, not terrible. Just fine. Move along.

Final Grade: Whatever.

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Joker (2008)

Goddammit, I really wanted to love this book. I remember picking the hardback up after the Dark Knight was released. Again, this sort of felt like DC just cashing in on an already established story. There were some interesting aspects to Joker, but overall, the book was more grotesque (which I’m not against, mind you) than compelling. However, the strip club scene is this graphic novel was great. It was absolutely disgusting, but great (see? I’m not a prude).

Final Grade: C+

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The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (2015 – present)

To say this series thus far has been a mixed bag would be a gross understatement. Every time Azzarello and Miller and Co. seem to add something worthwhile to the Dark Knight Universe, things just up and stall the fuck out. Look, so far, this comic is leaps and bounds better that Frank Miller’s abysmal The Dark Knight Strikes Back, but that ain’t saying much. Getting your scrotum pierced with a batarang would be a better time than rereading that fucking nightmare. Maybe Azzarello’s writing is helping elevate what should be a complete goddamn train wreck.

Final Grade: Who fucking knows?

 

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Who’s Afraid of Alan Moore?

Me. I mean the guy does scare me a little.

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Many years ago, I picked up Moore’s magnum opus about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, with the intentions to crush it like a brittle robin’s egg with my fierce comic-consuming eyes, but unlike my experience with some of his other work, this book bit back. Hard.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t find any of Moore’s other work challenging (shit, you need a working knowledge of turn of the century Victorian pop culture to get half the references in most of it), but they were always rather easy to navigate. But From Hell fucked my world up. It was dense, horrifying, and exhausting to read, and I don’t mean that as an insult.

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*First date.*

I chewed my way through about 150 pages of the trade until I set it down for something else (I have a bad habit of that). I had all the best intentions to finish it up, but never did.

The book was eventually lent out to a co-worker who was talking about the shitty film adaptation with Johnny Depp when I said, “hey, did you know that movie was based on a comic?” I then launched into my whole “more people should read comics and stop wasting their time with shitty TV shows and bad movies.” Johnny-Depp-in-Frederick-Abberline-From-Hell-Movie-Wallpapers

*Fuck you, you beautiful idiot.*

In retrospect, pontificating about the glory of comic books to a non-reader should have never been punctuated with handing them a copy of From Hell. It was too much comic for them. Hell, it was too much for me.

Now, about six years later, I have purchased a new copy of From Hell and I am two issues (or chapters if you fancy) away from finishing it, and let me tell you: it might be the best thing Alan Moore has ever written.

I was going to wait until I was done with the book before I wrote anything about it, but unless this comic drops the ball in it’s final act, which I know it DOES NOT, this tome is one of the greats, not just in comics, but in historical fiction.

But it’s not just Moore’s writing the elevates this comic to the stratosphere: Eddie Campbell’s art is stellar, evoking the era via Victorian style newspaper cartoons. It’s amazing and renders the Whitechaple Murders in graphic detail.

I love Alan Moore, and I want so badly for all his work to be this good. This book is a reminder as to why I was so disappointed in Providence Act 1.

 

 

 

 

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