"The Book Is Always Better"
By: Chris "DOC" Bushley
Another comic book inspired season is upon us at your local theater and no fan is happier than I am! With intense blockbuster sequels, franchise dependent re-dos and some obscure independent debuts, it is a cornucopia of genres that is sure to make us believe, cheer and possibly question the reason they are being made in the first place! Comic fans and non-fans alike will be making their way to theaters in droves this summer, but where do these bigger than life movies come from? From the back issue bins of comic shops of course, and I'll give you the rundown in order for you to catch up on some inexpensive summer reading before you drop $20 a ticket for 3D IMAX seats! Without further ado, Lights!,Camera!,Action!
Let's begin with a movie that has comic fans heated and Tom Cruise fans jumping on couches in delight! Oblivion! Opening on April 19th, Oblivion is another look at a post-apocalyptic world that portrays Tom Cruise as a human version of Disney/ Pixar's Wall-E! While this is being advertised as coming from the 2012 graphic novel by indie publisher Radical Studios, written by the movies director Joseph Kosinski(Tron:Legacy), the graphic novel doesn't actually exist! At the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, "concept art" pamphlets were handed out to fans to promote the alleged book, but it never came to fruition. As a matter of fact, it is questioned if a graphic novel was ever truly going to be in the works or if the "concept art" for it was only to help push Kosinski's movie idea to the forefront! Looks like it worked! You can find the "concept art" books on eBay for varying prices but don't get fooled into thinking you are acquiring anything more than beautiful visuals! But, if you are looking to get your hands on a Radical Studios graphic novel that will actually in a more productive manner that just conceptualizing, I suggest you get your hands on the Hercules:Thracian Wars TPB for around $15! You have plenty of time before the Rock lays the smack down next July to get as much reading done as you can!
Next up is Iron Man 3, starring fan fave Robert Downey Jr. and releasing everywhere on May 3rd! By now everyone knows the tale of Tony Stark, even if we do want to forget Iron Man 2, but how much do non-comic fans know about this years two big baddies that will threaten our hero? To help ease you into the rivalries between the Mandarin, Dr. Aldritch Killian and Tony here are a few "must reads" to get you ready for battle! To find the first appearance of the Mandarin you will have to grab yourself a copy of Tales of Suspense #50 from 1964. Now, you have two choices, you can go for the 8.5 CGC graded version that will set you back $1,245 or you can download a copy from Comixology for #1.99! Your choice! But, if you are like me and like to actually hold a book you are reading, you can acquire a copy the Revenge of the Mandarin hardcover published in 2012 for around $15. Between the covers you will find reprints of Iron Man #8-#14(1998), Fantastic Four #15(1998) and Iron Man/Captain America Annual '98, and stories that revolve around Tony losing control of his armor, the Mandarin destroying things and War Machine coming to Tony's aid. I also recommend Warren Ellis and Adi Granov's stunning Iron Man: Extremis TPB(2007) that gives you issues #1-#4 of the series and also gives the first taste of the Extremis armor that will be featured in the film as well as the depth of Dr. Aldrith Killian cunning to destroy Tony at all costs. This one will set you back another $15 bucks but it's well worth it!
June 14th will be the day that makes or breaks DC and Warner Bros movie franchise! Not only does the Man of Steel have to save the world from battle hardened Kryptonians, he also holds the weight of building a cohesive "movie world" on his shoulders! What looks to be an amazing movie seems too far away for fans to wait. So, until we "believe a man can fly" again you can satisfy every super need with a single book. DK Publishing put out the Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel in 2002 but has just updated the cover with a more modern picture that reflects Supes New 52 costume. For $20 you can get all the general knowledge you need about Clark Kent and his alter ego. If you are looking for something a little more in depth and see how a a hero goes from boy to "super" man, I recommend Geoff Loeb and Tim Sale's Superman: For All Seasons. It is a coming of age book that will meld nicely with the more human side of Superman that seems so prevalent in the movie trailers. Also, for something more brutal, pick up Superman Vs Zod TPB(2013) for $12.99. This collection reprints Adventure Comics #283, Action Comics #473, #548-549, DC Comics Presents #97 and Action Comics Annual #10 and contains all the best battles of a pre New 52 DC Universe!
July 19th gives the comic book industry some offbeat indie comics to check out on the big screen. Both are starring a bevy of big name actors and actresses but will that be enough to drive non-comic fans into the seats. It might not be enough to drive comic fans into the seats either! These "off-beat" movies are going to need as much help as they can to beat out the "Big Two" movies this summer, so let's build their fanbase with a little reading! First up is RED 2. Now, RED 2 doesn't really have a comic attached to it, and the first movie was so different from the original Homage Comics(an imprint of Wildstorm Productions now owned by DC) three issue action/suspense shooter, by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, that it really didn't matter if you read it or not. So, instead of checking out the goofball comedy/action flick starring Bruce Willis, try the 2009 Red TPB for $15 instead! Then check out the 2010 prequel, written and drawn by Cully Hammer, Red:Eyes Only($4) which explains what horrific event took place to make Paul Moses retire from the CIA. in the first place!
Second up on this day is the "dead cop" buddy movie starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges in a strange time travel, body jumping, demon killing western called R.I.P.D. This comic was an original four issue series that focused on a character named Nick Cruz who was killed and after 100 years of service in the R.I.P.D. was given the chance to find out who murdered him. R.I.P.D. Vol.2: City of the Damned is a four issue movie prequel series that focuses on Roy Pulsipher and his partner Nick Walker as they expel demons in the Wild West and find the true history of Roy Pulsipher's past. Both are great reads and can be had for dirt cheap! R.I.P.D. Vol.1 (2nd edition) published by Dark Horse, will only set you back $12.99 while R.I.P.D. Vol.2: City of the Damned can be bought as a bundle on Dark Horse digital downloads for a mere $5.99 for all four issues! That's WAY better than spending $20 for a migraine at the theater!
The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman, cuts it's way into theaters on July 26th and fans are anxiously awaiting anything to purge their minds of the horrendous Wolverine:Origin fiasco! Based on the classic Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's Wolverine #1-4 solo series from 1982, this movie is getting fans "x-cited" again and July couldn't come soon enough. There are hundreds of Wolverine stories out there but you only really need to acquaint yourself with a single storyline this time in order to fully immerse yourself in Logan's Japanese adventure. Considered THE best Wolverine story, you can get your hands on a CGC 9.8 graded copy for around $250 or you can try and find yourself a first edition hardcover reprint of the four issue series for around $50. Me, I think I'll stick with a newer edition that collects Claremont and Miller's Wolverine #1-4 for a measly $14! As soon as I get my Barnes and Noble rewards coupon --it will be even cheaper!
August heats up with the prequel to 300, 300: Rise of an Empire! Now, this one is going to be a little tricky! When Zack Snyder made the original 300 from Frank Miller's outstanding graphic novel, he actually had a one stop shop in order to procure Miller's artistic vision. This time around there isn't one to get! Well, not really. See, there is no graphic novel for 300:Rise of an Empire, there isn't even a solo comic series to get all the ideas from either. This time around, Frank Miller and Dark Horse comics released Miller's prequel story, revolving around the egomaniacal Xerxes, in a series of comics. Beginning in (and helping to re-launch the series in 2011) Dark Horse Presents #1 and finishing in Dark Horse Presents #6, you can acquire the entire story that the movie will be based on. Now, that doesn't seem too bad, especially since you can still find copies at your local comic shop. The bad part is when you see the price tag when you finish acquiring the story! You see, each issue of DHP comes in at a hefty 80 pages and will cost you around $8 each! That's $48 for a single story! But, with no collected edition in sight, at least at this time, that's the only route you have to read the original story. Me, I'll just pay the $15 at the movies and sit in awe like I did with the first one!
Finally, on August 16th, Mark Millar unleashes his foul, brutal and awesomely good Kick-Ass series on the big screen again! Kick-Ass 2 will show us all how villains can make heroes even better than they were, when the Mother F*#*#! tears down Kick-Ass' world! Vibrant, funny and extremely violent this sequel actually needed two different comic series to make a single movie! But don't worry you can still acquire them both for under $50! First you will need to pick up the Kick-Ass 2:Balls to the Wall TPB(2012), in which everything in our hero's world comes unraveled. A super hero team is formed but the streets aren't what the need to look after, it's the past that will kill them. This trade will cost around $15 and can be found at your local comic shop undoubted paired with this next trade. The Kick-Ass 2 Prelude:Hit-Girl hardcover was just released on March 6th and tells the tale between the first and second Kick-Ass series. It follows Mindy in her quest to lead a "normal" life and put the katanas down. It is a great read that shows how socially awkward such a badass character is in the "real" world. This hardcover will run you about $20 but it's well worth the cover price! You don't need to read them both in order to enjoy the story but who doesn't want to know how Hit-Girl handles High School?
So, before you go and spend an ungodly amount of money at the movies, at least give yourself some background information on them before you do. Plus, it's always more fun when you can enjoy the "Easter eggs" movie studios love to throw into their films. Or, if you don't get to see them for any reason, at least you will have the knowledge that you have the best version sitting directly in front of you, waiting to be enjoyed whenever you want!