DC Retroactive: Superman - the '70s

DC RETROACTIVE: SUPERMAN – THE ‘70s by Martin Pasko, Eduardo Barreto & Christian Duce (DC Comics)
Mr. Mxyzptlk mentally torments the Man of Steel in this fun throwback to Superman’s Galaxy Broadcasting era. The art feels a bit rushed (as two different artists might indicate), and the retro esthetic is weakened by Andrew Elder’s overdone, completely anachronistic coloring. A superfluous backup 1978 reprint suffers from horrid reproduction.

The American

George Clooney mopes through Anton Corbijn’s fashion shoot / thriller as a butterfly-loving hitman / gunsmith who befriends a priest and falls in love with a hooker while hiding out and doing one last job in Italy. The movie’s snail-paced, but atmospheric enough to engage until the heavy-handed conclusion.


Captain America: the First Avenger

A unique opportunity to make a gritty WWII-period superhero movie is squandered in favor of a two-hour ad for toys and THE AVENGERS. Chris Evans is just okay while Hugo Weaving’s cartoonish Red Skull feels lightweight in a film with adequate style, but a sad lack of character development.
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¡No Pasaran!: Porter in the Making

¡No Pararan!, PORTER IN THE MAKING ep (Killing Horse Records)
I’ve always been impressed by this Jersey trio’s highly intelligent art rock, but often felt like I didn’t get it. Until now. This new ep is a revelatory, perfect mesh of brain and brawn, a refreshing slap of righteous post-punk directly to the head, and the gut as well.

Funny Misshapen Body

FUNNY MISSHAPEN BODY by Jeffrey Brown (Touchstone)
I’m normally not a fan of primitive cartoonists, but Brown’s scratchy, minimalist style is perfectly suited for the kind of (literal) navel-gazing on display in this painfully relatable autobiographical tale of Brown’s evolution from a Crohn’s-afflicted, comic book obsessed kid to disgruntled art student to working cartoonist.


War is Hell, but coming home is often worse. The Homeric BROTHERS works best as a bleak statement about the seemingly unwinnable situation in the Middle East, while the drama on the home front feels like something we’ve seen too often before. Still, Tobey Maguire’s performance is devastating.



Why do I fall for horror movie hype? This haunted house—er, kid—retread incorporates elements of POLTERGEIST, THE SHINING, AMITYVILLE HORROR and other (better) scary movies into an oddly bland, style-deficient film (a Trent-Reznoresque demon ain’t spooky) with a mere handful of shocks and a predictable ending.

Archie Firsts

ARCHIE FIRSTS Dark Horse Archives Special Edition
The collected first appearances of the major characters from Riverdale offer an enlightening glimpse at how fully-formed Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica and Reggie were from the beginning. Sadly (and typically), the re-colored, awkwardly re-lettered artwork neuters the archival aspect of an otherwise handsome book.


My admittedly biased review: HBO’s entertaining documentary on Ronald Reagan is a refreshingly lefthanded counterbalance to the usually historically-ignorant exaltation afforded a President whose policies paved the way for the our current economic crisis and whose style came to define the shallow, gut-level posturing of modern politics.


Let Me In

Director Matt Reeves successfully replicates the eerie, isolated atmosphere of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, likewise capturing the agony of awkward, lonely adolescence. Yet the film suffers slightly from the American need for redundant exposition (visual and literal) and a lack of subtlety that defined the stylish Swedish original.

The Last Exorcism

This tired mockumentary attempts to meld BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THE EXORCIST and ROSEMARY’S BABY, to extremely ineffective results (oh, and faux-documentaries shouldn’t use a traditional horror movie score). The oxymoronic over-underacting only adds to the utter lack of potency (and the poster image isn’t even in the film). Yawn.


Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead

DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Writers and Artists Who Made NATIONAL LAMPOON Insanely Great by RIck Meyerowitz
While most people associate NATIONAL LAMPOON with their lowbrow movies, the magazine itself was often highly intellectual, sometimes (as this book illuminates) too much for its own good. Tales of the often-obstreperous staff and contributors are at times as deranged as anything published in the groundbreaking publication.

The Tourist

A seemingly bored Johnny Depp is led around Venice by an affected, pallid, scary-skinny Angelina Jolie (honestly, I do NOT get the appeal) in this muddled, boring, glacier-paced romantic comedy / thriller. I appreciate the attempt to craft a stylish, old-fashioned chase film, but Hitchcockian this ain’t.

MasterChef Season 2

This show needs serious retooling; Heart-tugging auditions select 100 contestants, quickly whittled down to 18 based on an apple peeling test? Then why bother getting us emotionally invested? The supercilious hosts are often slap-worthy, but the cooking challenges are interesting enough to keep a foodie tuned in.

The Social Network

The lavish critical praise of David Fincher’s version of the founding of Facebook seems as overblown as the number of friends my 13 year-old cousin has. The cast is suitably slimy, but as with all historical fiction, the blurring between reality and speculation ultimately mitigates the dramatic impact.