This should be fun
In which an astronaut becomes a giant monster, people are eaten, the army is called in, a robot makes an appearance and our fearless reviewer decides to put his money where is mouth is by reviewing a book that’s also free to read online.
Giant monster isn’t scary. But then it doesn’t look like it was meant to be.
Taking a cue from the sci-fi/ horror movies of the fifties and Japanese Kaiju (English translation – “Strange Beast/Monster”) writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and artist Nat Jones give us the story of the astronaut with an insatiable appetite. Set in 2013, Astronaut Don Maggert is on his way back to earth after piloting the world’s first solo flight from the JFK Space Station when he’s attacked by alien parasites. Now on Earth and no longer human, he is the Giant Monster, and he’s hungry.
It is a lot of fun.
The creators get this two reel creature feature to punch way above its weight class by referencing monster themes like Godzilla, King Kong, and the Hulk. Especially the Hulk. These were the ones I noticed and I’m sure there were more. Then they play around with the plot and introduce just enough twists so the monster v/s military storyline doesn’t seem dated.
Supporting characters include the astronaut’s wife (heh), two kids, the army general, federal agents, a German scientist, and a robot.
What’s wrong with it? The same plot loopholes that we associate with every creature feature – the protagonists running into each other amidst a sea of other panic stricken survivors, the two kids forgetting that they have family that’s either facing the monster’s wrath or his digestive system, and the rather efficient crowd control given a situation like this. Like in every creature feature, we don’t really care as long as the action doesn’t let up. It doesn’t and the plot loopholes come to mind only after we’re done reading this. The story isn’t long enough for us to really identify with any of the characters other than the monster, and with the monster eating people in almost every panel, I don’t think we were supposed to identify with him anyway.
The art works for me. They could make the monster look more menacing (I think there’s a size limit on scary monsters – they’re scarier when the humans are in danger of being impaled/disemboweled rather than being swallowed/ stepped on) and maybe the city in chaos scenes could be more detailed but I have a feeling it would make the story look like it was taking itself too seriously.
Giant Monster is free to read here. Not in Marvel Digital quality, so you may want to consider buying the book on the cheap if your buy list already as too many items on it. I picked my copy up at Ashish Books (Fort), along with a few other heavily marked down Boom! Studios stuff (including Talent, which I wrote about earlier). Pick it up at full price if you’ve already bought everything you wanted and would like to try new writers/artists. It’s a book that you’re going to read once and recommend – not like the way you’ll recommend Watchmen, but more like you’ll recommend a well done Hulk v/s The Thing Annual. One thing that this book did for me – it put 30 Days of Night on my buy list. His extra dough was a fun read – now I’d like to see what Steve Niles did on his day job.
Writer(s) Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski; Artist Paul Azaceta Publisher Boom! Studios
Talent is about Nick Dane – college professor, age thirty four – acquiring the skills of his dead co-passengers on an ill fated flight to New York. He shouldn’t be alive but he is, and he shouldn’t have other peoples’ memories in his head but that comes with the job. I liked the concept (the blurb didn’t mention “other peoples’ memories” so that’s a freebie for you) and I wasn’t disappointed…too much.
One hundred and forty seven people are killed when an airplane headed for JFK crashes into the ocean instead. Mr. Dane is the lone survivor who’s alive after spending fourteen hours underwater…and he can’t remember anything between the stewardess telling him that he’s going to be fine and waking up in the hospital. If you believe in miracles, that’s exactly what it is, and to the cynics (I liked this part) the only reason he’s alive is because he had something to do with the crash. There are people in high places who want him dead and most of the plot revolves around how he deals with them and their minions. He discovers that he’s picked up new skills from his dead co-passengers, so when an orderly comes to kill him in the first chapter he fights him off with his newly acquired knowledge of origami.
Just kidding. The first page of the book features a conversation between the stewardess and the boxer who’s going to take on the champ at Madison Square Garden so that’s where our hero gets his combat skills. The origami is our first indicator about the skills acquisition and works as a plot element later on in the story. Side missions include getting closure to the voices in his head and making sense of the information given to him by an apparition. The writers promoted it as a superhero story without the tights. I really don’t have a problem with superheroes in tights but I think one hundred and forty seven skill sets gets you close to Batman sidekick level if at least one of them was a cop or a private detective.
All in all you have a plane crash survivor, federal agencies convinced he’s a terrorist, a secret organization that wants him dead, a bad guy to do the job and a couple of freelancers so the foundations are set for a good comic that may move on to become a Hollywood blockbuster or a hit TV show.
So what’s wrong with Talent?
At the beginning of the third chapter we’re shown kids playing street hockey. Usually this is the part where other writers put in their own views about life, the universe, and everything or crack a joke using stock characters. We like the banter because it’s funny or witty or works as a plot or character explanation. Unfortunately, all we got here were some forgettable Flintstones references and the realization that they really didn’t need a sequence involving a Mercedes driving through a street hockey game to send out the message that Mr. Krauss was in a hurry. Since I’m not a resident of the US I’m not even going to wonder if kids playing street hockey in New York would discuss the Flintstones, but given the four issue limit, that’s more than one page wasted on the kids playing hockey that could instead have been spent on (among other things) character development for Nick and the voices in his head . That’s what’s wrong with this book – it underperforms.
The writers had a great idea and they really could have come up with an excellent piece of work if they had just been patient and fleshed it out a little more. We like chase stories. We like chase stories for the near misses. We like chase stories to see the mild mannered smart guy give the slip to the big bad psychos. Talent is at its core, a chase story so the lack of near misses / escapades is surprising…especially when you have both the Feds and the bad guys gunning for a protagonist with potentially one hundred and forty seven talents at his disposal. Maybe a five or six chapter arc instead of the hurried four chapter arc would’ve worked much better. Get more into the plot, make things a little tougher for the good guy, give the bad guys more to work with, put in some explanations/back story and then you’ve got something. To be fair the writers might have had a longer series planned so I can understand not going all out in the first arc and leaving the loose ends for the second volume or the rest of the series. Unfortunately when that doesn’t pan out you’re left with a book without enough of a story to iron out its flaws.
Speaking of flaws, I’d like to see a “thirty five year old never been in a fight” English professor who looks the part. This guy looks a lot younger and I’m not sure if swimming and cardio is an adequate explanation. Again, I like to have a protagonist I can relate to and be on a first name basis with but I’m making a conscious effort referring to him as Nick instead of “this guy”. I know it’s too much to expect the likes of Peter Parker or Yorrick Brown to show up in every book containing a single white New Yorker, but the least you could do is give us some details. Was he a resident or was he just visiting? Why was he on the plane? So he had absolutely no family he could turn to…nobody showing up to claim him at the hospital…not even his students? Most importantly, why him…and not some Wall Street hot shot who could give every dead passenger’s relatives a trust fund?
I liked the bad guy – Krauss. I don’t think the writers planned on giving him superpowers but I’m putting him up there with the Batman as far as the science of deduction is concerned. His boss didn’t seem too menacing and the assassin couple Mr. Payne and Ms.Abel end up doing too many side jobs and don’t do enough here.
About the art – maybe I was skipping pages too quickly, but there were subtle plot elements that I noticed only after glancing through the script at the end of the story (bonus feature). I’m not sure if it was the smaller trade size format, the reflective paper, the moving vehicle or a combination of all three but I’m not sure they got the sketch/ink ratio right on this one. I get the part about wanting to make it look dark (and it does) but I couldn’t recognize Nick in a wedding photograph that his ex-wife was holding and I also couldn’t spot the tear drop on it so it took me a while till I figured out she was his ex-wife. The art would’ve worked better if we were dealing with known characters but over here where we are supposed to empathize with a new character based on what we see, the art needed to do more. I think Talent is more suited for a digital version, with smart panels on a large screen. Boom studios may want to take a leaf out of Marvel’s book there.
One panel had mixed up speech balloons which fortunately wasn’t too hard to overlook.
Wikipedia tells me that Talent was picked up by Universal Studios after its first issue sold out. If we get a movie I’ll go watch it if they can get an actor who makes the life of Nick Dane worth watching. The TV series option looks more interesting – especially if they get this story over with in the pilot and then flesh out the characters in the rest of the season.
Coming back to the book, it’s good for a long taxi ride or a short flight. It’s a fun read if that’s what you’re looking for and the negatives kick in only towards the end of the fourth. I’ll recommend a purchase at marked down prices (Sale/Exhibition at Ashish Book Stores was where I picked it up along with other Boom Studios titles) to readers who really like to see what the alternatives to Vertigo/DC/Marvel are up to. Well worth a download if you’re the downloading type (the larger screen may suit the art). If they do come up with a solid second story arc this may be a good series to follow. Till then, it’s somebody’s unfinished business.Publisher Boom! Studios Schedule Monthly Format Mini-series Publication date May-October 2006 Number of issues 4 Letterer(s) Marshall Dillon Colorist(s) Ron Riley, Editor(s) Marshall Dillon Author writing credits: Collectively – B.P.R.D :Hollow Earth and Other Stories, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Individually –Tom Sniegoski – Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails
…is not what this post is about and is instead, our way of ripping off MAD Magazine and appearing on more search results in the process.
We just thought we’d announce our comeback (after a year of hiatus) with the same guy who made the last post.
And here are a couple of articles to go with the image
They’ve stopped talking about the big bang experiment. Till yesterday we were pretty much flooded with stories about the CERN Scientists attempting to recreate the big bang just so that they could (in layman’s terms) “see what happens”. They received death threats. I was not surprised. Authorities suspect the threats originated from religious groups, depressed individuals, Mothers Against Accelerated Apocalypse (MAAA), the producers of Heroes, masked vigilantes and the average do-gooder… but I know better.
They originated from the offices of DC Comics.
After decades of dealing with the handiwork of Krona and the Anti-Monitor who put infinite earths into a crisis as a result of an attempt to recreate the big bang , a time-punching Superboy Prime trying to undo their work by replicating that effect and the occasional parallax infected Hal Jordan, the staff at DC came to two mind-numbing conclusions.
- Final Crisis could have been done for free and without effort had they only waited.
- They were now in danger of having their own origins retconned.
Somewhere in a rift between time and space All-Star Superman, Superman:Birthright, The Man of Steel, Superman: Red Son, Superman for All Seasons and The Man of Tomorrow are laughing out loud. “Take away our past as Superboy Earth 3 and our future as Superman of Earth-2, will you…. there you go… Alan Moore never wrote for DC! Hehahahahahahha!”
Then there’s guys like me who sensed opportunity. The world wasn’t going to end… only reality as we know it would change. I’d like to see a changed reality where my payslip has had an extra zero in it for the past 3 years. I could hound the firm for arrears and quit once I get it. People could finally rid themselves of embarrassing events that took place in the past. My experiment with an eyeliner moustache – never happened. Losing part of my luggage at a railway station in Bharuch – nope, I wasn’t there. My mother did not have the fright of her life and she was not with me on the “Super-Trooper”. My uncle’s kitchen never had swing doors, so the Dal incident involving my aunt didn’t take place either. Everyone is at peace with their past… or gets a shot at being Guy Pearce.
Anyway, the scientists flipped their big switch and nothing’s happened. Yet. Apparently, the small particles inside the Large Hadron Collider are picking up speed and we can expect something around mid-October. Sure, this means my annual appraisal may be rendered meaningless… but I figure there is still time for our Government and the media to get together and retcon, 1984 style, a bunch of things in national interest. For instance:
The state of the nation
The current state of the nation is largely on account of the inability of parliament to select a governance contractor. Extremely dissatisfied with the performance of the British (whom we had to kick out) we’ve been forced to govern ourselves since 1947. The Left keeps recommending the Chinese but since they were the ones who let the British into Bengal in 1757, no one’s listening to them. The Americans have expressed interest, the British are suing for unpaid dues and we’re suing them for theft, extortion, fraud, insider trading, graft (restaurant at Colaba named Churchill – coincidence?) and unpaid docking charges recoverable from the East India Company. Just when Parliament was about to hand over all forms of governance to Reliance Industries, the two Ambani brothers had a fallout.
We are rich… or we will be once our lawsuit with Britain is settled. After Indian mathematicians invented the Zero, they patented it.
During India’s second innings of the first test against Pakistan at Chennai in 1999, Sachin Tendulkar hits three consecutive sixes to get the 17 runs required to win the test. No one has called Sachin a choker ever since.
The world cup final in 2003 was a close finish. Though we still lost to Australia, Ricky Ponting scored a duck.
Milkha Singh and PT Usha came up with late bursts of speed in the dying moments of the race to finish third at their events in the Olympics. That increases our medals tally in the Olympics by two.
Bollywood did not turn out any mainstream films between 1985 to 1995. All Films shot and released during that period were either experimental art-house movies or mass market made-for-video movies. The censor board was disbanded in 1986 after employees complained about the hazardous work conditions and the government realized that the films couldn’t get any worse. Former censor board employees now monitor civic cleanliness.
China has no claim to Arunachal Pradesh. The last time they tried to strike a claim we chucked them out. That got them so pissed they nearly stopped the Nuclear Deal with the US from going through.
I could go on but the real world version of me has to get back to work where he (till mid-October at least) has to face the everyday challenges of status reports and deadlines. Let me know how your retcon works out. Maybe you’ll end up as a contributor on this page.
This review of “Rock On!!” was on the online edition of the Hindustan Times. Its one of those rare(?) occasions where the movie review is a hell of a lot worse than the movie.The first few lines reproduced below for your benefit.
Who’s the reviewer? – Khalid Mohammed. But I suppose you figured that out already.
It gets worse. We’ve heard the songs on the radio. We know that the soundtrack is anything but rock. A decent reviewer could be serious and say “The soundtrack has an electric guitar, but lacks the punch of a good rock song and settles on being forgettable pop at best” … but Khaled has to come up with something like
Sad but true – I’ve read worse from him. God knows why the Pros want to sound like us amateurs.