Friday, December 16, 2011

What Would Darren Read, Home Edition (Nov. 14th)

Whoever said, "You can't judge a book by its cover" was an idiot. Do things "Darren Style" and choose three comics you would like to read based solely on your reaction to their covers! Also, to complete the effect: listen to this (or shoot your ears at the most recent FIGcast!).

All New Batman: Brave and the Bold #14
Batgirl #4

Batwoman #4
Batman and Robin #4

Deathstroke #4
Demon Knights #4

The Shade #3 (of 12)
Grifter #4

iZombie #20
Marvel Holiday Comic 2011

Avengers 1959 #4
Avengers: X-Sanction #1

Captain America #6
Carnage, U.S.A. #1
Ghost Rider #7

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 45 - "Magic Christmas Trees"

Where do Christmas trees come from in NYC?  Magic elves, that's where.

FIGcast - Episode 45 - "Magic Christmas Trees"

Don't forget, you can email us at, you can follow us on Twitter with @theFIGcast, or you can look for us on Facebook or the iTunes Store.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Ender's Game movie is actually happening?

Ender's Game is awesome.  You should read it if you like things that are awesome...go ahead, I'll wait.

It was awesome, right?  Anywho, Ender's Game came out in 1985, and ever since then people have been talking about making it into a movie.  The author tried his hand at a script.  The guys running the Game of Thrones show took a run at it.  The problem is, Ender is a tough nut to crack.  It's almost exclusively about pre-teens, so it's kind of like the early Potter books, but it's much more brutal than the first half of Rowling's stories.  A decent chunk of the story occurs in zero gravity, so you've got to figure out a way to make that look cool.  For whatever reason, thinks just never clicked between Ender and Hollywood, until now.

Summit Entertainment bought the rights.  They hired Gavin Hood to direct off of a script he wrote.  Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are going to produce, and we even have a release date - March 15, 2013.  All of those things are nice, but they're not "real".  Directors and writers and producers get attached to projects all the time, and then nothing happens.  But now, now they're casting.  And not just one big name star who will eventually move on to something else.  Looks like Ender is finally happening.

Asa Butterfield is Ender Wiggin

Asa was Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Norman in Nanny McPhee Returns.  He's in the theater right now as the titular character in Hugo.  He'll turn 15 in April, so he's a little older than Ender is supposed to be, but he still looks like he could be younger.  I couldn't be happier about this casting, and my only concern is that he can pull off an American accent.  If you've read Ender's Game, this photo shows you everything you need to see.

Hailee Steinfeld is Petra Arkanian

Hailee was Mattie in last year's True Grit, and she was nominated for pretty much every acting award in existence.  She just turned 15, so she's about six months older than Asa, which works for the characters.  Hailee is a great actress, and I was really rooting for her to win an Oscar last year.  She probably won't get nominated for her part in Ender, but I think it will giver her a great opportunity to play another aspect of the tough, reliant young woman character she nailed in Mattie.

Ben Kingsley is Mazer Rackham

I don't want to get too much into who Mazer is to avoid spoilers, but needless to say he's a major character who ends up influencing Ender in the second half of the story.  We all know Kingsley.  He won an Oscar for Gandhi, and great acclaim for Sexy Beast and House of Sand and Fog.  Mazer is supposed to be half Maori, while Kingsley is of Indian and Russian descent, so it will be interesting to see what they do there, but you can't ever complain about having an Oscar winner in your beloved franchise.

Harrison Ford is Colonel Graff (????)

OK, so this one is still just rumor, but it's been said all over the internet that Ford is in negotiations to join the project.  I'm a bit torn if this turns out to be true.  On the one hand, it's Indiana Jones!!!!  On the other, it's old Harrison Ford who hasn't seemed to give a flip since...The Fugitive?  Maybe Air Force One?  Ford is a huge name, and he would lend instant cred to the project if he is attached.  He's a great actor, and I think he could have a ton of fun with the curmudgeonly old commander of Battle School.  I just don't know if he wants to have fun anymore.

So what do you think?  Are you happy with the three official casting announcements?  Are you willing to roll the dice on Ford, or would you rather go with someone who will actually care about the movie?  Who should play Ender's siblings, Peter and Valentine?  What about the rest of his jeesh, especially Alai and Bean?  Let me know in the comments.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Comic Mini-Reviews Week of December 7th, 2011

Action Comics #4 – Few comics have encapsulated their own inherent flaws so completely as Action Comics #4. With this issue, Grant Morrison's Superman story is joined by a Sholly Fisch penned backup feature starring John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel. Aside from an editorial note that served to draw attention to an awkward storytelling choice that would have been glossed over otherwise, the two scripts are adequate. Yet, the Steel story was drawn by Brad Walker, whose sheer competence put Rags Morales to shame. I realize that this is Rags' fourth issue in a row and Walker has literally had months to prepare, but it exaggerated the lackluster art that Morrison's Action Comics has been saddled with. On the writing side of things, the series has been solid but not spectacular. As always, I have faith Morrison is taking this in a particular direction that will pay off.

Animal Man #4 – Every month, it seems that Animal Man and Swamp Thing leapfrog each other for the top spot of the DCnU quality list. Really, their only competition is the stellar Wonder Woman series and Batman and Batwoman vying for a distant fourth. This month, it was Animal Man's turn to take the number one position as Jeff Lemire continues to freak me the hell out. I really hope that Travel Foreman is either mentally resilient or has a good therapist because drawing the creepy stuff from Lemire's head must be a frightening task. I said last month that I thought Animal Man and Swamp Thing were headed for a crossover, and I am even more certain of it now since Alec Holland is mentioned within the pages of issue four.

Defenders #1 – It's difficult to not compare Defenders with Justice League Dark thanks to a somewhat similar team agenda. Thankfully, the rosters of the teams in question are quite different. Different, also, it seems, are the writers desired styles. Matt Fraction takes on a much more traditional comic book narrative style than we have seen from Milligan's JLD. Yet, there are still hints of Fraction's deeper stylistic choices. In last week's podcast, I mentioned that there are little notes written at the bottom of the issue's pages that were almost more fun to search for than the issues actual plot. As usual, the Dodson's art is nice and smooth, giving all of the characters a particular charm.

StormWatch #4 – Before the Relaunch, I was certain that StormWatch was going to be one of the best books of the New 52. While it has improved monthly, it has never reached that potential. With news that Paul Cornell will be replaced by Paul Jenkins as scripter, I doubt I will continue to pick this series up. For now, the story is fine but underwhelming, and the art is kind of mushy. We finally get to see Midnighter and Apollo flex some muscles, but few of the other characters really make an impact, emotionally or otherwise. I used the term “mushy” to describe the art, but it actually fits the entire book. The mass of uninteresting and ill-defined characters and the meandering plot make for a disappointing read.

Swamp Thing #4 – It is no coincidence that Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Action Comics and StormWatch are released in the first week of each month. I am fairly certain that when DC was making the schedule they wanted to really wow readers with some of their strongest (on paper, at least) new titles. Thankfully, this strategy has worked pretty well, so far. Swamp Thing and Animal Man are two of the best and Action Comics is perfectly adequate—meaning that three of the four are essentially successes. Marco Ruby does an admirable job filling in for Yannick Paquette this month. Scott Snyder continues to wind a narrative that mixes the old canon with new to strong effect.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Episode #44 Supplemental Post: What Would Darren Read, Home Edition

Since it looks like FIGcast #44 is going to be delayed a bit longer, I'm going to go ahead and post this week's What Would Darren Read, Home Edition. Hopefully, it will keep you entertained until Darren has MacGyvered the latest podcast together out of twine, Christmas tree needles, a Grand Central Station locker key.

Cue the music! It's time to plaaaaaaaaaaaaaay WHAT WOULD DARREN READ...Home Edition! Just click the images to enlarge them and start judging some books by their covers!

Action Comics #4  
Animal Man #4
Green Arrow #4
Batwing #4


O.M.A.C. #4
Hawk and Dove #4

Avenging Spider-Man #2
Swamp Thing #4

Defenders #1
Deadpool Max X-mas Special #1

Venom #1
The Punisher #6

X-Club: We Do Science #1
[All images courtesy of and]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 44 - "Technical Difficulties"

We had some technical difficulties this week, and alas, the banter section is lost.  See the shownotes for a brief description of what you missed. :(

FIGcast - Episode 44 - "Technical Difficulties"

Don't forget, you can email us at, you can follow us on Twitter with @theFIGcast, or you can look for us on Facebook or the iTunes Store.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Comic Mini-Reviews Week of November 30th, 2011

Daredevil #6Yesterday, I spent a good bit of time lauding Mark Waid's run on Daredevil, so I will keep it brief here. This IS one of the best superhero books of the year. The art by Marcos Martin is gorgeous and the scripting by Waid is nearly flawless. This issue brings us to the end of the book's first major story arch. Daredevil protects a blind translator who heard too much from five different super-terrorist groups. Along the way he comes into possession of something that will surely be important down the road. If I compared this book to the cream of the crop from DC's New 52, I would have to say it ranks with the upper echelon like Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman and Animal Man. If you are not buying this book, you are missing out.

Legion: Secret Origin #2 – There is a growing trend in comic books to take an origin story and expand upon it. Taken by itself, this is not an inherently good or bad thing. In some cases it adds to an already sparse mythos. In others, it confuses things. After two issues, I am tempted to say that Legion: Secret Origin falls into the latter camp rather than the former. The Legion with its multiple reboots, different re-tellings, and hundreds of members could certainly use a retold origin story, but so far Secret Origin has just served to muddy the water. However, with four issues left, the mysteries that Paul Levitz is playing with might actually pay off. I am however really enjoying Chris Batista's art.

Spaceman #2 – This book is tied with Daredevil for my pick of the week. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are crafting a scifi dystopia that becomes more interesting with each page. The grime that covers each page is the kind that only the 100 Bullets duo could produce. Yet, for all of the sickness that the pair foresees in the future, the main character, Orson the Spaceman, is a completely sympathetic character. Genetically crafted in an aborted attempt to carry the human race into deep space, he is left on earth alone and mostly forgotten. In issue 2, it seems that Orson is becoming the unlikely hero in the high profile kidnapping of a reality TV child celebrity.

Uncanny X-men #2 – Well, we knew that Uncanny would be a juggling act. After a promising first issue, issue two loses some momentum. Instead of fleshing out the interesting new multi-team set up of the book, we are treated to an extended fight with Mister Sinister. It's not uninteresting and Carlos Pacheco's art is certainly worth the price of admission, but it does little to fulfill the promise of issue one. Hope is not lost—once the immediate threat is dealt with, perhaps we will be treated to more examination of Cyclop's grand plans for the X-men in action.

Monday, December 5, 2011

DC ZOMBIE EAT MARVEL: Mark Waid's Daredevil

     Join me, a lifelong DC Zombie, as I attempt to remedy my woefully limited exposure to the Marvel Universe. Be prepared for opinions forged in the depths of a mind that is completely dedicated to the DCU. I promise to be as objective and honest as I can be--even if that leads to contradictory opinions. Updates will be rare, considering I have limited money for buying new comics (and the fact that I would rather spend my limited funds on DC Comics). 

     I am going to say something that might seem stupid now. Mark Waid is one of the most underrated writers in the comic book industry. Look, don't try and argue with me—I've given this quite a bit of thought. No other writer has churned out such consistently high quality work over such a large amount of time without being constantly mentioned alongside the most important names of sequential art history. There is no doubt that he is respected or well-liked, instead it seems as if he is the forgotten superstar of the industry. Perhaps, Waid is too consistent to draw the adoration or ire of most comic readers—doomed to fly below the radar by his own unerring competence. As legendary writers build bodies of work and flash-in-the-pans flare up and burn out, Waid continues to turn in books that define some of the most iconic characters in the superhero genre. While every new writer is the next Miller, Moore, or Morrison, I have yet to hear of one heralded as the next Waid. Yet, for years now, he has held the reins of some of the comic book industries biggest franchises. From seminal runs on The Flash and Fantastic Four, underrated books like the Legion of Superheroes three-boot and lauded works like Kingdom Come, Waid has quietly cemented his rightful place in the upper echelon of comic creators. He might be the unnoticed titan of the medium, but he possesses a unique ability to capture or create the perfect pitch for whatever characters he is writing. Currently, Waid has set his gaze on MARVEL's man without fear—producing one of the best superhero comic books on the market.
     Last week, while writing about Thor:The Mighty Avenger, I alluded to the current Daredevil as the kind of comic book that the industry needs more of. Though it is not a book aimed at an all-ages market like Thor was, Daredevil still captures much of the same superheroic joy within its pages. Matt Murdoch has been a character mired darkness for a long time. From the Frank Miller era to the more recent Brian Michael Bendis run, Daredevil's life has been one grim and gritty tragedy followed by another. Yet, in his first six issues with the character, Waid has turned the character on its head. The life of a superhero can never be too happy, after all violent encounters are part of the job, but Waid's take on the character is so much more open and free than some of his predecessors. With brilliant art from Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera, Daredevil is the kind of comic book where the hero smiles as he encounters fisticuffs and, before you know it, you are smiling along with him. Where Bendis wrote a brooding, troubled Murdoch that was constantly the target of some gangster scheme or superhuman assassin, Waid fills his book with corporate espionage plots and more traditional supervillainous fare—like echos of Klaw and Bruiser, a luchador-masked fighter moving up the superhero power ladder.

     One of my favorite things about Waid is that he will often write a character so that the reader has a clear understanding of character's superpower and its implications. For example, his run on The Flash did quite a bit to explore the extent of what being “The Fastest Man Alive” meant when put into action. In Daredevil, we are treated to a similar examination of Murdoch's extra-sensory powers. In some of the first issues Martin and Rivera drew beautiful pages allowing the readers to “see” through Daredevil's “eyes.” There's no doubt that he has one of the most unique superpowers within the medium, but presenting these powers in such a distinctive and visually appealing way was a smart move.
    Under Waid's scripting and Martin and Rivera's art, Daredevil is most certainly one of the best new superhero books of the year and maybe even one of the best of this very young decade. If Daredevil was a DC book, I would extoll it as a product that understood the New 52 initiative—a comic that clearly defined it's character and showcased his uniqueness from page one. It is too bad Daredevil only barely predates the DCnU, seeing as it would have been a great blueprint for the kind of thing that DC is trying to achieve. Waid's exclusion from the DCnU is kind of baffling considering that he has written tons of stuff for DC in the past, and he seems like a natural fit for the kind of things they are currently attempting. Perhaps Waid and DC had a falling out, I don't generally keep up with that kind of thing. Or perhaps DC somehow forgot about the quiet superstar of the comic book industry.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

FIGcast #43 Supplemental Post - What Would Darren Read, Home Edition

Now, you too can play What Would Darren Read from the comfort of your home! Just play this music, judge these comic books by their covers, and choose your three favorites!

Daredevil #6

Ghost Rider #6

Legion: Secret Origins #2 (of 6)

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1 (of 6)

Spaceman #2 (of 9)

Uncanny X-men #2