Kidrobot x Marvel Labbit Mini Series

At San Diego Comic Con this year I was hardcore coveting the exclusive Wolverine and Venom Labbits by Kidrobot, but sadly, I didn’t get them.  Call me crazy, but I was unable to choose just one.  I had to have both or neither, but with limited suitcase space, and my Super Best Friends Forever exclusive, the Hasbro My Little Pony, and a vast selection of new prints, I wasn’t going to be able to carry them back with me if I tried.  Since I’ve gotten home, both Labbits have appeared online (and on my Amazon wish list) but then I heard about the new blind box mini Labbit series that Kidrobot is producing and I nearly lost my mind.  The line includes miniature versions of the aforementioned Labbits, as well as Galactus, Doom, Loki holding Thor’s hammer, Deadpool, Red Skull, Doc Ock, and Punisher.  But Kidrobot’s site says there are 10 in all, so there must be one more that hasn’t been revealed yet!  The figures are 2.5 inches tall, retail for only $9.99, and they’re being released on September 12th (online and in-store).  Needless to say, I’ll be making a trip to SoHo so I CAN BUY THEM ALL.

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TRILLIUM #1 By Jeff Lemire Review

It’s no secret that Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite writers and artists currently producing content in the comic book industry, which is why I had been looking forward to reading Trillium since the day it was first announced at NYCC in 2012.  Trillium is an 8 issue miniseries written and painted by Lemire centering around two characters; Nika Temsmith, a botanist working in space 1,000 years in the future in search of a rare flower, Trillium, needed to cure a virus from 3739, and William Pike, a WWI veteran journeying through the Amazon while experiencing PTSD.  The series is a science fiction love story, subtitled The Last Love Story Ever Told, which takes place across time and the universe.  Intriguing, am I right?

In typical Jeff Lemire fashion, the first issue completely exceeded all of my expectations.  The issue is divided into two 14 page sections which tell the stories that lead the main characters to meet each other from each of their points of view.  There’s something poetic about two characters who’re meant to fall in love with one another literally meeting in the middle of the issue (similar to how all relationships require compromises, and for each person to meet the other halfway).  Lemire has taken the typical story structure of most literature (exposition –> rising action –> climax –> falling action –> denouement) and recreated the story chart for Trillium by applying it in a way where the end is directly in the center of the book.  Technically speaking, there is no falling action or denouement in the first issue because both sides of the climax constitute the rising action for one of the characters.   The way Lemire is able to revolutionize storytelling never ceases to amaze me.  After reading the first issue, I watched this interview with him on CBR, and learned that each side of the story not only has an equal number of pages, but it also has an equal panel count on each page, and the exact same page layout for both character’s stories.  Lemire is correct in stating that he “created the perfect mirror.”  He also informs CBR that the second issue, which comes out this Wednesday, is going to be all about language.

I would be remiss in ending my review here without mentioning the beautiful artwork that enhances the narrative, and takes on a burden equal to that of the prose in conveying Trillium’s story.  Flipping through the painted panels is reminiscent of what it must feel like to experience a lucid dream in Lemire’s head.  The book is water colored by Jose Villarrubia who previously worked with Lemire on his last Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth.  There’s a clear shift in the style of art used in Sweet Tooth to the style used in Trillium (which is similar to the art in Lemire’s original graphic novel Underwater Welder), and there’s no doubt that the pair have certainly grown and matured together in their progression from series to series.  One of my favorite aspects of all of Lemire’s artwork is that the way his character’s are drawn allow the reader to grasp the experience and stress behind the character’s journey up until this point in time.  So far, we’re aware that William is a war veteran, but it’s his physical features and flashback panels that give us a hint as to how traumatized his character truly is.  If you haven’t read Trillium #1 just yet, I highly recommend purchasing the issue as a physical comic.  You will reap the rewards of the flip book element of the story and the mirrored panels will be more easily appreciated than if you were to read it digitally.

Trillium #2 debuts in comic shops this Wednesday September 4th.

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Candy I’m Obsessed With This Week: PUMPKIN SPICE M&M’S & My Quest To Obtain Them

Seeing as how this is a holiday weekend and all, I had a little extra time this morning to lay in bed without feeling guilty and while I was browsing through my twitter feed, I happened to see a tweet by my internet friend Jen, alerting me to the fact that Target is now carrying Pumpkin Spice M&M’s.  I leaped out from under my covers with a kind of motivation on par with how Captain America must feel when Nick Fury gives him a new S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment.  I threw on the closest t-shirt, pair of shorts, and Converse sneakers I could find, all the while having daydreams about how the rest of my day would play out.  I stopped only for a second to visit the Target website, and make sure that my precious pumpkin spice M&M’s were in stock at my preferred Target location.  I can’t remember anything from my drive over.  Did I listen to music? Probably, my mind was 100% focused on the end goal.  I parked my car, ran into the store and bounded down the M&M aisle.  Peanut M&M’s, Peanut Butter M&M’s, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Almond… OMG THERE AREN’T ANY PUMPKIN SPICE.  I immediately began to freak out.  I had flashbacks to last year and began feeling a pit form in the bottom of my stomach.  It was going to be Candy Corn Oreo’s all over again.  “Douglas Adams would tell you not to panic,” I told myself.  I began to breathe.  I looked for the closest Target employee and told him I NEEDED pumpkin spice M&M’s but they’re not in the M&M aisle. “Hmmm, I saw those earlier today,” he said, “Give me a minute.” I paced and paced until he returned from customer service with three packages in hand!  I became so excited that I nearly jumped up and down in the middle of the store.  Achievement unlocked!  “Here you go!” he said, handing me one bag.  “I think I better get at least two packages…” I thoughtfully countered.  So yeah, now I am the proud consumer of Pumpkin Spice M&M’s.  The second half of my quest, the return home, is anticlimactic compared to acquiring my precious, so I’ll go right ahead and describe the taste to you.

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Pumpkin Spice M&M’s are manufactured in the exact way as peanut butter M&M’s.  If you bite into the shell leaving half of the M&M in tact (similar to a diagram of the Earth’s core, except, you know, with chocolate), you’ll see that just beneath the shell is a thin layer of the pumpkin spice flavoring with the milk chocolate encapsulated in the center.  The pumpkin spice flavoring compliments the chocolate and sugary shell surprisingly well.  I’ll buy just about anything that is pumpkin spice flavored, so I’ve had my fair share of disappointment in the past, but these delicious pieces of candy exceed all expectations.  They’re spicy and sweet all at once which gives your tastebuds an incredibly satisfying experience.  I’m almost kicking myself for not purchasing more packages because these have become an instant favorite of mine.  I’m considering using my second package to make a batch of pumpkin spice M&M cookies, but we’ll see if they last long enough for me to get around to actually baking them!  If you’re considering buying some of these, I would suggest getting them ASAP.  They’re bound to sell out quickly once other pumpkin spice aficionados such as myself become privy to their existence.

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Batman ’66 By Jeff Parker & Jonathan Case Review

A few nights ago I read the first two issues of Batman ’66 and for lack of a better phrase, I’m completely obsessed.  In just 50 pages (30 pages in issue #1, and 20 pages in issue #2), we’ve already been introduced to Batman, Robin, Riddler (the Frank Gorshin version), Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and Circe.  And we’ve already gotten some classic Boy Wonder exclamations such as “Holy Evil Alliance,” “Holy Tightrope,” and “”Should I enter it into the Bat-Computer?”  The first two issues each contain one main story, and a backup story.  Jeff Parker, who writes the series, told the NY Post that he listens to the characters speaking while he creates their dialogue, which you can easily tell while you’re reading.  Parker has a much bigger opportunity to tell grander stories since there’s no budget for effects in a comic book, and it comes through in his writing that Parker is basically telling dream Batman ’66 stories which wouldn’t have been able to be told on the television series due to monetary restrictions.  We haven’t seen a full blown Batusi yet, but hopefully Parker was foreshadowing in the first issue when a bar patron asks “Batman, I was hoping to run into you! Can you show us how to do that dance we heard about?”  Sadly Bats doesn’t have the time because he and the Boy Wonder are investigating a serious crime.

Jonathan Case, who illustrates and colors the series, created artwork which perfectly captures the overall tone.  He uses bright neon colors which pop against contrasting backgrounds, and in the first issue with the Riddler, he outlines all of the landscapes with blue lines which creates a kind of 3D effect in a much more attractive version of Gotham.  Case perfectly captures the likeness of the Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar’s ’66 characters, using smooth rounded lines, and hairstyles consistent with the decade to depict the cast of the comic.  And I just have to say this – Case’s Catwoman is purrfect.  I’m also loving the use of the exaggerated sound effects within the comics’ panels.  And the covers are drawn and colored by Mike and Laura Allred, who just so happen to be two of my favorite artists.  I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have flipped through these issues.

According to Comics Alliance, a very classy Mad Men-like version of Harley Quinn will be appearing in issue #7.  If you’re reading the comic digitally, you’ve already seen Harley’s introduction, but since I’m reading in print, I’m only up to issue #2.  Batman ’66 is part of the DC2 initiative to convert readers to digital comics.  I’ve been reading the physical printed copies, which are released on a very delayed time schedule compared to their digital counterparts, but since I loved the first two issues so much, I think I’m going to finally cave in and start buying the series from ComiXology… as well as the print issues… and the trade.  *Makes fist* damn you DC Comics for monopolizing my bank account!

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Tea & Manga Chat: Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa is a series that feels as if it were written for me.  Having gone to fashion school myself and spending the majority of my years in high school focusing more on my career than studying for tests, I completely relate to Yukari (aka Caroline, aka Carrie).  In the beginning, Yukari is a shy student with little confidence and direction, but everything changes for her when she meets Arashi, Miwako, Isabella and George (students at Yaza Arts, a fashion institute).  Arashi bumps into Yukari on the street and asks her to be a model for their fashion show.  At first, Yukari has many reservations about modeling, but once she visits their atelier she sees how serious the group is about producing and selling Paradise Kiss label clothing.  She waits several days to give them her final answer, but she ultimately decides to lie to her mother, skip out on cram school, and help out at the atelier as much as she possibly can.  Infatuated by the brands designer, George, and driven by a a newfound career passion, Yukari’s character becomes way more dynamic.  Throughout the series she continues to grow and push her sense of free will to the limit.

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Yukari immerses herself in the world of fashion.  She becomes best friends with Miwako, who is constantly comparing herself and trying to measure up to her older sister, the designer of Happy Berry clothing.  Miwako helps Yukari with girly things like picking out clothing and acting as a makeup artist as well as offering her comfort in times of need, and a place to stay when things get rough.  Yukari also ditches her childhood crush on a fellow student in high school and gets involved in a twisted and confusing romance with the irresistible George.  It’s questionable whether George’s antics are helping or hindering Yukari’s development, but it’s a storyline you’ll be clinging to until the very last word.

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One of the most fascinating aspects of the series is how self aware the characters are, and their constant habit of breaking the fourth wall.  The majority of Yukari’s communication of her innermost thoughts to the reader is primarily through monologues, while the other characters will turn their heads to the read and blatantly express a thought, apologize for jumping around, or clarify which type of chapter this will be.  Also, it would be impossible to fully express my love of this series without mentioning the amazing artwork.  Each character is drawn flawlessly!  They’re just the right mix of cute, chic, and youthful. Obviously their clothes are to die for (as this is a tale about fashion), and the atelier looks like my high school dream hangout.  Throughout the series I felt connected and invested in each character’s life.  I will forever be grateful to Betty Felon who enlightened me with her recommendation (for those who don’t know, she’s pretty fashionable herself ^_^).  Paradise Kiss is without a doubt my favorite manga series, and I would go so far as to say that it is also one of my favorite series I’ve ever read in any form of literature.

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You can pick up all three volumes of Paradise Kiss on Amazon, or at a bookstore near you that sells manga!  If you decide to indulge yourself and read the series, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Yukari and the Yaza Arts kids!

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Pacific Rim Movie Review

Pacific Rim is a mecha dream come true.  In a world where the Kaiju, an alien race who emerges from the sea, attacks major cities in an attempt to take over Earth, the humans inhabiting it retaliate by building robots called Jaegers.  Jaegers are operated by two human pilots who use a technique called drifting to share their memories with one another and become compatible with the machine they’re fighting in.  Throw in a strong female character, Mako, who has spent her life resenting Kaiju and is waiting for her chance to pilot her own Jaeger, a mismatched team of quirky, yet lovable scientists (played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman), a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother in battle against a category 4 Kaiju named Knifehead, and Idris Elba, the Marshall who is determined to keep the Jaeger program alive even after his funding is cut.  (How could anyone not get chills when they hear Idris Elba exclaim, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”)  It would also be impossible not to mention Ron Perlman’s kooky character, an outrageous and cartoonish black market dealer of Kaiju parts who wears gold metal toed shoes and dark round glasses.  While some of the characters may seem cliched, there is enough heart behind their actions to justify their motivations and transform them into memorable characters.  Pacific Rim is a film about war, but instead of people vs. people, the people have all banded together whether they’ve helped build walls, machines, or technology, in an epic robots vs. aliens battle.

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Director and co-screenwriter (with Travis Beacham), Guillermo del Toro’s love of all things Japanese really shines through in the film.  The Kaiju and the Jaegers are both enormous in size, towering over any skyscraper, and the majority of the film’s footage is devoted to their larger than life battles.  The film utilizes special effects galore to show the destruction of coastal cities in the Pacific, create unique looking sea monsters and their portal to Earth, and of course Earth’s final hope at salvation, the Jaegers.  Gipsy is the beautifully crafted analog Jaeger depicted on all of the posters.  She enters battles by being flown in by a slew of helicopters who then release her from the sky, submerging her into the Pacific Ocean with a powerful splash.  Throughout the film, she feels very humanized from the moment she smashes her first into her palm before battle until her final run in with the Kaiju.  Del Toro also included a love story that is very shoujo in nature, which allows the viewer to focus their attention on Earth’s impending doom and of course, it’s beautiful creatures.

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Especially enjoyable are the brilliant pops of color and neons used throughout the film.  It feels like a Daft Punk video, meets retro color blocked comics, with a futuristic twist. In addition to the incredible aesthetics, anyone who’s ever played Portal will also be pleased to hear GLaDOS’ soothing robotic voice inform the Marshall of the Jaeger’s statuses throughout the film.  It’s difficult to put my love of Pacific Rim into words, but I will say that it renewed my faith in movies this year.  After seeing (and strongly disliking) Man of Steel and World War Z, I feared that I was becoming too critical, but Pacific Rim proved that my nitpicking is valid and thankfully, I am not becoming a miserable pessimist.  Guillermo del Toro created an instant classic and a welcome addition to the mecha vs. monsters genre.  This film is way more than fan service.  I had watched the Pacific Rim trailer on repeat since the day it was released, so I knew I was going to enjoy the film, I just hadn’t known I would love it this much.  Immediately upon its ending I found myself ready and eager to watch it again.  If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, I strongly suggest sprinting to the nearest movie theater and getting comfortable for the next couple of hours.  It is worth it to see the film on the big screen.  Do not wait until it’s on blu-ray or demand!

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And just for good measure, here’s a photo of Charlie Day next to a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

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Tea & Book Chat: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Marissa Meyer’s debut novel, Cinder, quickly became a book that I could not put down.  In fact, I became so attached to the characters and the story that I ended up reading the entire 387 page book in just one day.  Cinder is a modern day Cinderella tale that blends science fiction with fantasy, creating a whimsical yet bleak dystopian society aptly named New Beijing, which formed following the end of the Fourth World War.  Adding to the science fiction aspect of the story, Cinder is cyborg, a lower class citizen in the ranks of New Beijing’s caste system, with a mechanical leg who suffered a traumatic event early on in her childhood, just before she turned 11.  An event of which, Cinder has no recollection of.  All she is aware of is that her father saved her life and soon after lost his own, leaving Cinder to live with her evil stepmother Adri, evil stepsister Pearl, loving stepsister Peony, and their hilarious android Iko who has an affinity for wearing jewelry.

Times are tough in New Beijing, as the entire county is becoming infected with a very deadly virus called Letumosis.  There is no known cure for the disease, also referred to as the plague, which hits suddenly and quickly progresses through the four stages of the disease before finally resulting in death.  Prince Kai’s father, the current Emperor, becomes infected with the disease along with Cinder’s stepsister Peony, before a cure can be discovered.  Once Peony’s illness is discovered and she is brought to the hospital to be placed in quarantine, Adril decides that the entire misfortune is somehow Cinder’s fault and as her legal guardian, she volunteers Cinder to join the Cyborg Draft and to become a test subject at the hospital.  They inject her with the disease, but miraculously, Cinder’s immune system seems to fight off the virus and her body is clear within a matter of hours.  She develops an interesting relationship to her less than truthful doctor, becomes more closely involved with Prince Kai, and learns some very shocking information about her past in the process of her volunteered research.  And of course, in true Cinderella fashion, the book spends many pages building up the excitement of big celebratory ball that is being held by Prince Kai in his castle during the final chapters.

Just when it seemed that their world couldn’t possibly face any other hardships, a race of humans who left planet Earth to inhabit the moon, called The Lunars, show up to negotiate a marriage to Prince Kai in exchange for continued peace between the colonies.  While Prince Kai detests Queen Levana, he is faced with the  difficult decision of marrying her in an effort to protect his people.  Queen Levana is shockingly beautiful due to a false facade that she is able to project to the people on Earth.  One line that I particularly loved in the novel conveyed the notion that truth cannot be hidden from mirrors.  Which is why The Lunars demanded that all mirrors be removed from the premises before they arrived on Earth.  In addition, any prior communication with Earth had always been done with a shield so they’re able to avoid revealing their true forms.

I really enjoyed this fractured fairytale.  Cinderella has never been one of my favorite fairytale princesses because she has always seemed slightly useless, but Meyer turns cyborg Cinder into a memorable heroine.  The book was full of foreshadowing which enabled me to figure out the plot twists early on, but despite being able to tell what was coming, I was still excited for all of the big reveals.  As I mentioned before, I ended up reading the entire book in one day because I had to watch the next series of events unfold.  I also liked how the beginnings of each section were prefaced with a quote from Cinderella which previewed the upcoming portion of the story which was about to be retold.  I’m very fond of the books cover art as well.  The artist made Cinder’s skin translucent so that you can see her mechanical leg which translates the fragility of the glass slipper into the fragility of her artificial limb.  She’s depicted wearing a striking red pump which pops against the shadowy background, and the title font is the perfect choice.

Cinder ends with a major cliffhanger, but luckily, the new paperback version of the book includes a bunch of extras that any book lover would appreciate.  There was an added short story called Glitches which brings us back into Cinder’s past before the events in the book occurred, an in depth interview with Marissa Meyer, twelve discussion questions which would be very interesting to discuss whether you are hosting a Cinder book club or simply pondering them on your own, and a seven page preview of Meyer’s next book.  Cinder is the first book in a four book series called “The Lunar Chronicles,” that Meyer will be releasing between 2012-2015.  Her second book, Scarlet, which twists and retells Little Red Riding Hood, will be available in bookstores nationwide this Tuesday February 5th.  Following that, Rapunzel’s story will be reimagined in Cress, and Snow White’s in Winter.  I am very much looking forward to continuing on with the series and discovering how each of the fairytales retellings will intertwine and relate to The Lunars.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson Review

This week I couldn’t put down Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  The book serves as a prequel to Peter Pan, who at the time is an orphan without a last name.  Peter and the other orphan boys are sent aboard a ship named the Wasp, to go to Rundoon and serve the evil King Zarboff, the third.  During their journey, Peter sneaks out of the boys’ quarters to attempt to find real food for them to eat.  Along the way he makes a new friend named Molly, who is an apprentice and descends from a long line of Starcatchers.  Molly is traveling separate from her father and guarding a magical trunk aboard their ship which is to be delivered to the Queen.  Peter and the Starcatchers is a mystical page turning adventure involving familiar characters such as the pirates Black Stache and Smee, Captain and first mate aboard the Jolly Roger, the most terrifying pirate ship in the sea.  As more sailors become privy to the magic withheld inside the trunk, chaos ensues on the high seas and five separate parties (Slank and Little Richard, Black Stache and Smee, Peter and Molly, the mermaids, and once they hit land, the Mollusks) battle each other to acquire the trunk.

If you have an affinity for the story of Peter Pan, you will fall deeply in love with Peter and the Starcatchers.  It’s wonderful to read the events which shaped Peter into the legend he is today.  You also learn about the origin of  the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, the mermaids, and Mr. Grin, the crocodile.  The story is rich with easter eggs its fast paced narrative instantly engages the reader.  I often found myself saying I would read “just one more page,” before I put it down, but in actuality I would end up reading twenty to forty more pages.  I loved the story so much that after completing the novel I felt compelled to look further into Peter and the Starcatchers online.  I had already known about the off-Broadway play in New York (which I’m going to force someone to take me to on my birthday), but I also discovered that Disney is planning on turning the book into a film.  They’ve already employed Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) to direct, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Peter and the Starcatchers is the first book in a four book series, and you can order a copy from Amazon.

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Tea & Book Chat: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

As a total literature nerd and major Star Wars enthusiast, I can confidently state that the one thing missing from my life up until now was William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher.  Doescher uses iambic pentameter to adapt A New Hope into a 5 act Shakespearian adventure involving a captured Princess (Leia), a wise (Jedi) knight, and evil (Sith) lord, a young hero (Luke), and his comedic relief (C3PO & R2D2).  (That means we get to read R2D2’s bleeping in iambic pentameter!) We all know the plot of A New Hope, but what many of us may not have realized is how well the characters in Star Wars mirror Shakespearian archetypes.  I especially love Doescher’s use of literary devices.  For example, Vader’s speech in Act I, Scene II of the book foreshadows the events that are soon to follow. Verily, A New Hope, recounts the 1977 film scene for scene, and Doescher solves the lack of visuals, by adding a Chorus who explain the actions of the characters and enhance their soliloquies.  The book also includes 19 beautiful illustrations which depict the Elizabethan attire of the cast of characters in the dramatis personae. I would love to see Doescher’s retelling performed onstage, or simply read aloud by friends at a house party.  Perhaps, next May the Fourth!  I am convinced that a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, William Shakespeare had every intention of this interpretation existing.  Believe me when I say William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is the book you’re looking for. (I had to get in some Star Wars-isms!)  I’ll leave you with this satisfying line spoken by Han Solo:

[To bartender:] Pray, goodly Sir, forgive me for the

mess.

[Aside:] And whether I shot first, I’ll ne’er confess!

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You can purchase a copy of the book here, and view the trailer below.  Happy reading!

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Iron Man 3 Review [Spoilers]

I would just like to preface this review by saying that when judging a film adaptation of anything whether it be a book, a comic, a video game or anything else, each entity should be judged as an individual because essentially, that’s what it is.  Although two entities may be based on the same character, there are things that work in films that do not work in books, and vice versa.  With that being said, I am still going to draw comparisons between Marvel’s Iron Man comic, and Marvel Entertainment’s newest film, Iron Man 3, but I am not in any way criticizing one or the other based on how story elements have differed.

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I absolutely loved Iron Man 3.  Since Marvel’s first Iron Man film it has been clear that Robert Downey Jr., is Tony Stark, and when paired with director Shane Black, magic happened.  Black and Downey are literally a match made in movie heaven.  Black’s witty dialogue is a trademark of his, and Downey’s delivery of the script is nothing less than perfect.  Then cue Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in the role of a strong and independent female lead, Don Cheadle in War Machine’s newly made over armor as the Iron Patriot, our main villains – Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian and Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, Jon Favreau as the overprotective head of security with a Downton Abbey obsession, and an unbelievably talented cast of supporting characters.  The casting in Iron Man 3 was phenomenal.  It was as if every actor hit their stride and each cast member played really well off one another.  The major theme expressed throughout the film is that a person, especially an influential person, has a certain sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions.  Tony talks about his past and creating demons on a night he barely remembered.  It just goes to show that one event that can hold little to no meaning for one person, can be someone else’s most significant milestone.

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The film serves as a believable transitory period, taking place after The Avengers, as the traumatizing events that occurred in New York leaves us with a Tony Stark who is having difficulty coping with day to day life after facing the Chitauri army.  Almost losing Pepper has, in a sense, put things into perspective for Tony, but he becomes so obsessed with protecting Pepper from imminent potential threats, that he spends his sleepless nights developing an entire basement full of Iron Man armor.  This is where the uncomfortableness for the audience commences.  We’re given a glimpse of a superhero who we depend on to protect us, at his most vulnerable (i.e.. crying in his sleep from flashbacks).  Tony finally reaches his breaking point and threatens The Mandarin in front of a herd of news reporters, and thus the action begins… and it never stops until the end of the film.  After Tony discloses his address, his home is attacked and destroyed by three helicopters piloted by people who have taken doses of Extremis. Tony is separated from Pepper and Maya (a scientist who works for Aldrich Killian on Extremis), and JARVIS follows his original flight plan and takes Tony to Tennessee, the first known site for the suspicious bombings that follow The Mandarin’s protocol.

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While in Tennessee, Tony begrudgingly relies on the help of a child (played by Ty Simpkins) who helps inspire Tony to rebuild things… when he’s not causing Tony to have anxiety attacks by asking questions about New York.  The pair hit it off and Downey again nails Black’s dialogue and converses with Harley like he’s an adult.  He offers him useful life tips, such as being cool about saving people, handling bullies, and he even shows some tough love when he takes off like Harley’s father did.  Meanwhile Pepper travels with Maya, discovers she’s involved in Extremis, and gets captured by Aldrich who injects her with Extremis doses.  Iron Patriot and Iron Man uncover Aldrich’s plan to take control of the government and execute the President in The Mandarin’s final broadcast, and it is one scene after another of destruction, explosions, plane crashes, and the like.

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After seeing the reaction on Twitter, it was clear that many people were upset with the way that The Mandarin was portrayed.  I’ve heard die hard comic fans express devastation that they turned The Mandarin into a joke, but in all honesty, it completely worked for the film.  Iron Man 3 is one of the darker superhero films currently in existence, and the impending terrorist threats combined with the large number of ex-military personnel who had taken doses of Extremis was terrifying.  The Mandarin provided a sense of comic relief which was a necessary factor in Iron Man’s seemingly hopeless situation.  Before we learn that The Mandarin is an actor, there is a scene where he gives the President an ultimatum – to call him within 30 seconds or he will take a man’s life on national television for the sake of teaching a lesson.  When the President caves in, against his advisors orders, he shows the American public that he is vulnerable to the terrorist attack, and The Mandarin proceeds to shoot the man in the head despite receiving the phone call.  After this scene, I remember gasping, becoming teary-eyed, and being extremely uncomfortable and terrified.  Particularly because this is something that could actually happen.  By turning The Mandarin into a stage actor struggling with a substance abuse addiction, and acting as the face of terrorism, it gave us the opportunity to laugh.

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Overall, the film was brilliantly executed.  There is no denying several of the plot holes, and the lack of involvement that S.H.I.E.L.D. played, but with a runtime of 130 minutes, there wasn’t much more that could’ve been packed into the film without sacrificing essential scenes.  It was a pleasure to see Pepper Potts step up as the strongest character (in less eloquent terms, she was a certified badass).  Whether she was in her powerful white suit making decisions as the CEO of Stark Industries, or after her Extremis treatment fighting Aldrich in a sports bra, Gwyneth Paltrow really stole the screen.  Also noteworthy is the number of Iron Man suits we saw shooting throughout the sky and attacking the enemies.  And adorably so, at the end of the film, Tony proves his love for Pepper by instructing JARVIS to initiate “clean slate,” which destroys all of the Iron Man armor, a much better gesture than the giant stuffed bunny he buys her for Christmas.  Even the end credits of the film are worth discussing.  The music along with the inter spliced images and video of characters had a sort of James Bond-like feel to it.  I hope you enjoyed the movie as much as I did! I’m going to detail some of the differences between the film and the comic in the section below!

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One aspect of the film that I particularly enjoyed was that although we had been told that the script was loosely based on Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s Extremis, after viewing the film, it was evident that it also utilized story elements from Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man run.  Here are four of the minor differences from comic to film:

1) In the comic – There is a doctor partnered with Maya Hansen who commits suicide after writing a note apologizing for what he’s done.  Maya seeks out Tony Stark’s help because she’s concerned about the human trials and claims she has no idea who the doctor sold their prototype to.  We later learn that Maya was also involved in the scheme of sending Extremis to human trials, but she was working alone since the doctor had killed himself.

In the film – Maya is working for Aldrich Killian, who is the main villain in the Extremis scheme.  Although Maya does go along with his plan initially, she redeems herself and tries to protect Tony right before Aldrich shoots her.

2) In the comic – Tony takes a dose of Extremis after being badly beaten by one of the other test subjects. He doesn’t know if he’ll survive but it’s the only way to merge man and machine and connect him closer to his Iron Man armor.  He appoints Pepper in charge of Stark Industries when he leaves in search of the Extremis patient, and he also leaves her an Iron Man suit which she names Rescue.  Pepper also teams up with Black Widow and Maria Hill in Tony’s absence rescues them after pretending to be Madame Masque.

In the film – Pepper is already CEO of Stark Industries and Tony has already developed technology himself which allows him to call him armor to himself by thinking his command.    Tony does not need to take an Extremis dose to face his enemy and instead Pepper survives the trial and puts Aldrich in his final resting place.  Black Widow and Maria Hill are both absent from the film, as well as Pepper’s Madame Masque disguise.  But here’e hoping we’ll see Pepper as Rescue in Iron Man 4!

3) In the comic – Tony breaches War Machine’s suit and doesn’t work with him in an effort to stop Extremis.

In the film – War Machine has been rebranded as Iron Patriot, and the pair work side by side to stop Aldrich and save the president.

4) The Mandarin (See above) – Aside from allowing us to laugh, The Mandarin also enhanced the threat of Aldrich Killian.  He put a face on terrorism and deceived the American public into believing that The Mandarin was the enemy they should be targeting.  (Similar to how Marvel Entertainment tricked us into believing The Mandarin was the bad guy.)  There’s nothing scarier than fighting an unknown enemy and by shifting the public’s focus he was able to conduct the real terror behind the scenes without much interference.

And if you’re interested in learning more about Iron Man’s armor throughout the years, you should check out this article my friend and comic book historian Alan Kistler wrote for Wired:  The Greatest Iron Man Armor’s of the Last 50 Years: An Interactive Timeline

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Kristin

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