I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
I have a great love for the condensed storytelling of the one shot. They are without a doubt my favorite kind of comic book. Creators are tasked with the challenge of telling a complete story in ONE issue. Some rise to the occasion. . .some don't. So you never know what you're gonna get.
For this batch of one shots, I decided to go with a bit of a theme: Movie adaptations.
Not just ANY old movie adaptations, but movies that are generally not regarded very well. In other words: Longbox Junk movies. I wanted to see if the comic book version of these movies on the low end of Rotten Tomatoes are able to rise above their source material.
Oh. . .and another thing. I haven't seen any of these movies. So sort of a double theme, I guess.
Before we begin, I need to thank my comic-loving daughter. I only had a couple of comic adaptations of movies I hadn't seen that are poorly regarded (Batman & Robin and The Punisher), so she let me dive into her respectable collection to dig out the rest (and while I was there, I spotted PLENTY of other Longbox Junk I might be borrowing!) and she also has seen all of these movies, so any movie-related nuggets to follow are from her.
So. . .One Shot Movie Madness. LET'S DO THIS!
BATMAN & ROBIN:
THE OFFICIAL COMIC ADAPTATION
OF THE WARNER BROS. MOTION PICTURE
A.K.A. AN UNNECESSARY AMOUNT OF TITLE
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 10%
SCRIPTS: Dennis O'Neal
PENCILS: Rodolfo Damaggio
INKS: Bill Sienkiewicz
COVER: Pat Garrahy
Batman and Robin team up with a new partner, Batgirl, to take down an alliance between Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, who are each trying to destroy Gotham City for their own separate purposes.
I've never seen this legendarily awful movie, and this comic adaptation doesn't make me want to give it a chance. I asked my daughter if the movie is REALLY as bad as this comic makes it look and she told me it shouldn't even exist. . .and this from a Robin/Nightwing FANATIC.
It's probably not O'Neal's fault the story in this comic is somehow simultaneously overstuffed AND filled with holes. . .he was adapting an existing script. . .so I have to give a bit of credit for his taking a pile of lemons and managing to make some weak lemonade. My daughter tells me he actually cut some of the more ridiculous moments that were in the film and tightened the story up a bit.
The art is serviceable, and even really nice in spots. . .I think mainly due to Sienkiewicz's inks, but there's really no good way to try and show Batman and Robin surfing through the sky on metal panels without parachutes to escape an exploding missile. At least the legendary Bat-Nipples are absent.
Overall, I have to wonder how comic veterans O'Neil and Sienkiewicz got roped into this. They put in a decent effort, but the underlying framework they had to build around was just too shaky for them to be able to elevate this above "Okay". I hope that at least the paycheck was worth it.
WILL I WATCH THE MOVIE NOW?
Hell no! If THIS is a tightened up version with some of the worse moments cut, I don't even want to think about watching this movie. No way.
THE OFFICIAL MOVIE ADAPTATION
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 46%
SCRIPTS: Steven T. Seagle
PENCILS: Rod Randall & Peter Gross
INKS: Jimmy Palmiotti
Supernatural detective and magician John Constantine helps a policewoman prove her sister's death was not a suicide, but something more. . .and in the process, he discovers an unholy alliance between an archangel and Satan's son to bring forth the Apocalypse.
I'm a HUGE fan of Vertigo's Hellblazer comics (Not so much the watered-down version of the character DC keeps trying to force into regular continuity), but for some reason I've never seen this movie. I guess between Keanu Reeves and there being nothing British about it, I just unconsciously kept my distance. My daughter assures me that it's actually a pretty good movie as long as I don't compare it to the comics and see it as its own thing.
As far as the comic adaptation goes. . .
Not bad. Not bad at all. Surprisingly good, as a matter of fact. I was pleasantly surprised to find some meat on the bone. It's not the greatest story I ever read in a comic book, but this dark and gritty tale of an a$$hole with abilities he never wanted facing his own mortality and trip to hell (via lung cancer) taking on one last job and discovering there IS some good left in him is very readable and engaging. The dark world around Constantine. . .just out of the sight of most people and populated with seedy characters. . .is very well built and I can see other stories lurking around the edges of it.
The art matches the grim nature of the story very nicely. It's dark and heavily-inked. . .but the colors are sometimes too heavy-handed and gaudy. Despite that, the art style is a great fit.
The "Holy Shotgun" IS a bit much, though. . .
Overall, I really liked this one. Being a huge Hellblazer fan, I came into this with low expectations and came out having read a pretty good story. Sure. . .it's sort of an "Elseworlds" version of John Constantine, but it's not bad at all. It's not perfect (The Holy Shotgun? What?) but it's a lot better than I thought it would be.
WILL I WATCH THE MOVIE NOW?
Sure. I think I'll give it a chance. Comic adaptation. . .you have done your job.
DAREDEVIL: THE MOVIE
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 44%
SCRIPTS: Mark Johnson & Bruce Jones
PENCILS: Manuel Garcia
INKS: Scott Hanna
COVER: Brian Stelfreeze
Matt Murdock, blinded as a child but gifted with extraordinary senses, fights injustice by day as a lawyer and by night as the acrobatic vigilante Daredevil. . .
One of the Marvel Movies before "THE MARVEL MOVIES". This is one that just seems to have a bad enough reputation that I've passed on watching it. My daughter is a fan of this movie and has tried to convince me to watch it several times, but I've never done it. . .which is a bit strange, now that I think of it, because I DO like Daredevil (and really like the Netflix series a lot).
Anyway. . .the comic version.
Like Constantine above, I was really surprised at how much I liked this comic, especially after hearing bad things about the movie for so long. It's basically a "Daredevil's Greatest Hits" package, summing up his origin, introducing Elektra, and having him in conflict with The Kingpin and Bullseye. To be honest, there are gaping holes in the story and it seems pretty rushed in places. Plus it immediately throws away two of Daredevil's best villains. That said, it's still a pretty good read.
But what really impressed me here, and pretty much saved the story was the fantastic art. Fluid and dynamic, with deep, dark inks and rich colors. The artist does a great job with both action scenes and talking head scenes. This comic is packed so full of great art, that it was hard for me to decide on a single page to feature in this review (I finally settled on Daredevil's first reveal).
Ben Affleck WISHES he looked this badass. . .
Overall, this comic was better than I expected. A pretty good "Daredevil's Greatest Hits" story backed up with page after page of fantastic art. This one's a winner!
WILL I WATCH THE MOVIE NOW?
My daughter has been trying to get me to see this movie for a long time. I have the bad feeling that I'm going to think the comic is better (mainly because of the art), but sure. I'll give it a try.
FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIE ADAPTATION
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 27%
SCRIPTS: Mike Cary & Tom DeFalco (Backup)
PENCILS: Dan Jurgens & Arthur Adams (Backup)
INKS: Sandu Florea & Arthur Adams (Backup)
A group of astronauts gain strange powers after being exposed to cosmic radiation and must use them to oppose the vaguely-menacing plans of Doctor Victor Von Doom as the super-hero team Fantastic Four.
The reason I've never seen this movie is a pretty simple one. . .I'm not a fan of The Fantastic Four. I don't HATE the team, but I'm not going out of my way to buy one of their comics or see one of their movies either. My daughter tells me that this movie isn't that bad. . .but it's not really that good either. I guess it's the sort of thing that if she's flipping through the channels and catches it, she'll watch it if there's nothing better on.
But the comic version. . .
It's. . .okay. It's basically an origin story with the addition of Doctor Doom also being on the space station (not a rocket, like in the comics) with the Fantastic Four when they got loaded up with cosmic rays. . .except he got driven insane and his skin turned to metal? Okay. . .so Doom has a strange origin, but the rest of the team follows along the original path pretty closely. The ending is a bit of a mess as Doom turns bad and the FF has to stop his vague and undefined evil plot.
The art is also just okay. There are good moments to be found here and there. . .Ben Grimm's reveal to his girlfriend as The Thing stands out in my mind. . .but this is otherwise pretty standard and workmanlike comic art. It does the job, but it doesn't try very hard.
Awwwwwwww. . .
Padding out the length of this comic to justify that sweet $4.99 price tag is a backup story by Tom Defalco and Arthur Adams (reprinted from Fantastic Four #358) about Doctor Doom's "History Editor" in Latveria. It has nothing to do with the main story and feels very out of place. . .but Adams' art is very nice. There's also pinups by Jack Kirby and Stuart Immomen, as well as a fluffy and self-congratulatory text piece and photos from the movie.
Overall, this is a pretty average story with pretty average art, padded out with a strangely out of place backup reprint, a couple of pinups, and some promotional material. If I had paid five bucks for this I'd definitely feel like I paid too much. My daughter pulled this from a dollar box, and that's right where it belongs.
WILL I SEE THE MOVIE NOW?
Nope. Still not interested. This comic didn't do a thing to change my mind.
THE OFFICIAL COMIC ADAPTATION OF THE FILM FROM PARAMOUNT PICTURES AND MANDALAY PICTURES - A.K.A. THE LONGEST DAMN TITLE EVER!
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 68%
SCRIPTS: Steven T. Seagle
PENCILS: Kelley Jones
INKS: Kelley Jones & Jason Moore
COVER: Kelley Jones
In 1799, New York City Constable Ichabod Crane travels to the backwoods town of Sleepy Hollow to use modern detective techniques to solve a series of brutal murders, only to learn that there are mysteries that can't be solved with science as he battles a terrifying supernatural creature.
I haven't seen this movie because I've refused to look at anything Johnny Depp has been involved in since 2013 when he was a big part in pretty much ruining any chance I'll ever have of getting another Lone Ranger movie. Call me petty if you will, but just thinking about his performance as "Comedy Captain Jack Tonto" destroying the Lone Ranger franchise makes me want to punch a kitten. Best not to think about it. . .
My daughter assures me that this is actually a really good movie that I would probably like a lot and I should watch it because it came out long before Lone Ranger. . .but I don't think I give a $hit.
But the comic book doesn't have Johnny Depp in it, so let's do this!
First off, to say that this is based on the original Washington Irving tale is a pretty damn big overstatement of the facts. Some of the names are the same, and it's set in the same town. . .but other than that, this is a completely different thing.
That said. . .I REALLY enjoyed this comic. I loved the whole "Man of Science forced to confront the Supernatural" direction of it, where the skeptic becomes the believer over the course of the story. It's basically a detective story at the dawn of scientific detective methods for the first half, and then there are multiple twists and turns until it becomes a full-blown horror story at the end, complete with black magic and the Headless Horseman. From start to finish, I found this dark tale well-written and engaging.
Kelley Jones isn't my favorite artist. His projects are extremely hit and miss, as far as I'm concerned. Fortunately, this is one of his better works. His darkly-inked and exaggerated style is well suited for this weird gothic tale of terror. There are a few bad panels here and there (Jones can NOT draw vehicles of ANY kind, whether it be the Batmobile or a horse-drawn carriage), but even though he's not my favorite, I have to admit that Jones was a great choice for artist on this.
Overall, I found this to be a very well-written, unusual and interesting story with dark, twisted art that perfectly matches the dark, twisted nature of the tale. This one is definitely my favorite of this bunch.
WILL I SEE THE MOVIE NOW?
Hell no. To tell the truth, it LOOKS like something I would really like, but my embargo on Johnny "Seriously, screw that guy" Depp remains in place until I get another Lone Ranger movie, which (In big part thanks to him) will probably be never. And while I'm on the subject, F*ck Seth Rogen too, for screwing me out of any future Green Hornet movies.
And finally. . .
THE PUNISHER MOVIE SPECIAL
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 28%
SCRIPTS: Carl Potts
PENCILS: Brent Anderson
INKS: Brent Anderson
After Detective Frank Castle's family is killed by a car bomb and he is presumed killed along with them, he wages a brutal one man secret war on organized crime as The Punisher.
I've never seen this movie for what may seem like a strange reason. . .maybe not as strange as a complete embargo on Johnny "why the F*CK is he playing Tonto?" Depp. . .but let's not get into THAT again. I've never seen ANY of the Punisher movies because I happen to be a huge Punisher fan. Like I said, that may seem like a strange reason. If you're a Thor fan (for example) you go see Thor movies, right? Well, let me 'splain.
Being a huge fan of The Punisher in comics, I know that most of his story is told through caption boxes. . .thoughts, inner monologue, entries written in his War Journal. There's more to The Punisher than it seems on the surface, but very little of that depth is expressed in dialogue. I've always assumed that there's no way that a movie can accurately portray The Punisher in the right way, so I've skipped them. That said, I REALLY like the Netflix version of Punisher.
My daughter isn't such a Punisher fan, but she likes the character and she's seen all three of the movies. She tells me that the first Punisher movie is "okay" but it's not really a Punisher movie. It's more of a generic action movie with lots of guns and ninjas.
Enough about the movie. Let's get into this comic book. . .
Surprise! The comic is a generic action comic with lots of guns and ninjas!
Like Constantine above, this comic reads more like an "Elseworlds" version of The Punisher than the character I know and love. The story itself isn't BAD, it just isn't very good either. It just sort of sits there in the middle of the road, making me wonder why it's even there.
The background of Frank Castle is changed from military harda$$ to New York undercover cop, which worked nicely in Marvel's Ultimate Universe but is a bit questionable here, especially considering his military skillset in this story. There are gaping holes in the narrative that are somewhat explained by some internet info diving telling me this comic was written from a working draft of an unfinished script that was later mostly re-written.
The art in this comic is pretty poor. In some places, it's downright bad. The lines are sketchy and some panels look half-baked or rushed. The title character looks about as much like Dolph Lundgren as I do. . .which is not much at all. The colors are garish in a way that doesn't match the dark nature of a character like The Punisher.
Overall, this is a pretty poor comic. It has a sketchy story barely on the good side of "okay", crappy art, and just looks like it was rushed to the stands without much effort being put into it. To be honest, the best thing about this comic is the cover.
WILL I SEE THE MOVIE NOW?
I think I'll pass. With John Bernthal knocking it out of the park as The Punisher on Netflix, I see no reason to bother with something like this. Comic book adaptation. . .you have failed!
And there you have it. . .the Longbox Junk Movie Madness Special!
I have to admit, I liked mixing things up a little and going with a theme this time out. I think I'll do it again from time to time. This batch of Movie Adaptation One Shots were a nicely mixed bag. I was very pleasantly surprised AND bitterly disappointed. . .which is a good thing. I like a nice mix of Longbox Junk, and that's why I love one shots.
I'd have to say of this bunch, I liked Sleepy Hollow the most, and Batman & Robin the least. I've been convinced to give the Constantine and Daredevil movies a try, and I'd probably also watch Sleepy Hollow if I didn't have an embargo on all things Johnny Depp. Seriously. . .screw Johnny Depp.
Up Next. . .
While digging though my daughter's comic collection for Movie adaptation one shots, I noticed that she has the full 12 issue run of the down in flames SJW showcase "America". I'm trying to decide if I've done anything bad enough to punish myself (and everyone else who reads this) by reviewing it.
I've read the first issue and it's pretty bad.
ANYWAY. . .whatever I decide on checking out, be there or be square!
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