Over the years I’ve read a couple of books and series that have started out well, but over the course of multiple books, gotten quite a bit “less good” and somewhat tedious.  Unfortunately, Intergalactic Wizard Scout is one of these in my opinion.

While the writing itself is nothing to write home about, the main character and his companion are somewhat interesting, but over the course of the series, they become nothing more than caricatures and with the introduction of some (annoying) supporting characters in book 2 it becomes even more of a slog.

Normally as you know, I would give a synopsis of each book in depth and detail but with this series that’s difficult as by the end of the series I really didn’t care and, to be honest, I’ve been struggling with (what I think is) the final book for weeks…

Wizard Defiant

In Wizard Defiant we’re introduced to the Intergalactic Wizard Scouts.  Basically a group of super soldiers with the added ability to utilize magic like abilities in their battles – they are bad-ass and humanities only bastion in an increasingly hostile universe.

Richard & his wise-ass high-tech battle computer/suit Nickelo are cadets at the academy being trained as the next generation of Wizard Scouts & while Richard has the normal complement of troubles as a new cadet with regards to his drill instructor (who hates his guts for some unknown reason) there is another twist waiting for him.

To be honest, this switch is what peaked my interest as the book transitions from SciFi to Fantasy when Richard is sent on a mysterious mission by the “One”. Sent to help an elf princess in her search for a magical talisman he is exposed to goblins, orcs and other demons in his quest.  While his skills are primarily science-based, Wizard Scouts are able to access the magical dimension, but Richard is still only in training and his skills are definitely not yet at the level they need to be.

Wizard Cadet

Richard has made it to the next stage of his training at the Scout Academy and is finally being sent on missions for the Alliance. However, the One is still sending him out for its own reasons & this time while he’s on a mission to retrieve a defecting scientist he is dispatched by the One to fight a horde of zombies also.

Unfortunately, this is where the series gets a little bit stupid in my opinion as while he’s attempting to retrieve the scientist, he comes across the aliens two adopted (super-genius) children.  These kids are not just smart – they are super smart and completely overshadow Richard.  However, they are also really annoying and from this point onwards the series just went downhill!

One positive though is the introduction of the phase hounds … they were quite cool and fun, but at the same time the fact that they were essential to the rest of the story removed some of my enjoyment.  It’s better in my opinion when a character “levels up” and is able to take on increasingly complex challenges – Richard unfortunately, seems stuck.

Wizard Scout

I guess this book introduces us to the underlying story in a bit more depth?  We get an insight into the struggle that the One was created/formed to combat as well as the more prosaic enemies that Richard and the other Wizard Scouts are facing.  Of course, we’re also introduced to the typical political shenanigans where different parties are competing for resources.  In this case, the resource is the “gas” that makes the wizard scouts the force they are.
We do find out some interesting personal details about Richard & his family which were unexpected.

Wizard Omega

I haven’t finished this one yet so will have to update it at a later stage – however here are the details from the book jacket:

Wizard scouts were once the elite, deep-recon forces of the Intergalactic Empire. But now they are a dying breed. Or are they?
A black dreadnaught has been raiding star lanes near the outer fringes of the Empire. Is it just another pirate ship? Or is it the key to reviving the wizard scout corps? And what about the discovery of a mysterious anomaly reportedly found by cantankerous asteroid miners? Does it have something to do with the black dreadnaught?
Wizard Scout Richard Shepard, the last of the legendary wizard scouts, is sent to investigate. Aided by the crew of the recon ship, Defiant, Richard must circumvent an increasingly convoluted political landscape in his search for the truth. But what is truth? And can Richard handle the truth – if he finds it?
Faced with a decision which could mean the life or death of millions of helpless innocents, Richard must make a choice. What his choice will be, no one knows; least of all, Richard.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seventeen years since Hugh Jackman first suited up to play Wolverine/ Logan. I remarked to a friend of mine that Hugh Jackman had been Wolverine one year longer than we had been friends. That said, I knew it was going to be bittersweet seeing him pop his claws as Wolverine one last time.

When I heard there would be a third and final Wolverine movie I was cautiously optimistic. After all, the horrible Wolverine: Origins movie was still fresh in my mind. Then the trailer for Logan came out and I was officially excited. It had such a fitting finality to it. I felt that this last movie would be something special. Let’s see if the filmmakers gave Wolverine a proper send off.

 

Story:

At first glance I thought that Logan would be a loose adaptation of the comic Old Man Logan, but it’s really not. Some fans might argue that parts of it are but I find it easier to simply treat the film as it’s own thing, it helps to curtail expectations and comparisons.

Logan is more of a western and drama rather than a superhero film. Even without going into the story, the film’s look, landscape and score helps to illustrate the point. Logan’s focus is really more on character rather than anything else. This isn’t a big ensemble cast of characters. On the contrary, there are very few main characters and it really explores Wolverine/ Logan more than any other film before it.  Logan himself, is in a bad place in almost every way at the start of this film. He’s seemingly lost everything he held dear in his life, including the X-men. He lives only to take care of a senile and dangerous Charles Xavier. Logan drives a limo to make ends meet in the day and he drinks as much as he can by night. One day their world gets shaken upside down when Charles learns of the existence of a new mutant. Without spoiling too much more, things get more complicated from there.

It’s a fine story that dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s, and yet you may find the plot unremarkable. Perhaps the creators could’ve taken a few more chances and stayed closer to the source material but as I stated before, it’s a character piece. The movie is not interested in presenting a mind bending plot. It’s more concerned in presenting a human story that you feel. Of course it helps if you’ve enjoyed watching the character as long as some fans have but it works as a standalone film too. It has a lot of quiet moments that are really quite touching. In fact, I was surprised how emotional it was by the end of it. It also did a fairly good job of feeling very contemporary, especially with the parallels the climax of the film makes with a few issues facing North America and the rest of the world.

The story also introduced one of the most promising new characters the X-men franchise has had in years in X-23. She should be a fine addition to the franchise should they decide to continue forward with more X-men films in the future.

 

 

Action:

If the red and trailer was any indication, we knew Logan would be a different affair thanks to it’s R rating, and it when it did not disappoint. The action was brutal and exhilarating. The filmmakers did not hold back on this one and finally gave hungry Wolverine fans the kind of action they have been wishing for on the big screen. You don’t have to wait long for it either. The opening scene lets you know just how violent this movie is going to be. Some might find it gratuitous but I did not because the film does a good job of showing just what that level of violence can do to a person. I suspect that the action in the film  is sure to please fans more than casual moviegoers but it remains one of the many highlights of the film nevertheless. I can safety say that it has the best Wolverine fight scenes of all time.

 

Villain:

Here is where I would’ve like the creators to have stuck much closer to the source material. Not to say that the villain/ villains were bad. Not at all. The Reavers Turned out to be some pretty sadistic and messed up individuals but I longed for more from the source material. I felt the film wasn’t terribly interested in having a big imposing enemy that needed to be explored. They chose to focus on Logan and his relationships more. They did that very well so I give the filmmakers a bit of leeway for neglecting it’s main villain.

 

Acting:

Another of the film’s greatest strengths is the performances from it’s gifted actors. It’s nearly impossible to care about the characters if the performances aren’t good, especially since the film relies so strongly on character. Hugh Jackman definitely steps up his game and provides his finest performance as Logan/Wolverine. With so much emphasis on him he had to bring his A game and he did not disappoint. There are so many peaks and valleys to his performance on display and he nails all of them. His savagery and his vulnerability is felt on every level, a truly excellent piece of work for Hugh Jackman.

Patrick Stewart is no slouch either. His portrayal of Charles Xavier is spot on. Heartfelt and poignant. It was also bittersweet to know that this is his last ride on the X-men train as well. I must give full praise to the standout performance by newcomer Dafne Keen who played X-23. She was wonderful. Often times you never know what kind of quality you’re going to get from actors that young but she was another bright spot in the cast. She may have had the hardest task in the movie if you analyze her character after watching the film.

 

 

Conclusion:

Logan ends up being an excellent farewell for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. It’s certainly the best solo Wolverine movie of all time and it may even end up being the best of the X-men universe. Time will tell after repeated viewings. The one thing I loved most aout this film is that it gets Wolverine/ Logan, all sides of him. He’s brutal when he needs to be and he’s vulnerable as well. It understands that no matter what, he’s relentless in doing what he has to in order to protect the ones he loves. He may fail but he’ll try til his last breath.

If you’ve ever been on the fence about a Wolverine movie then this is the one to check out. I would encourage non superhero fans to watch this film above all others. It’s got everything ranging from excellent characterization, action, emotion, heart, and even humor. It’s a gem to look at too.

I will say that I was moved by the film and was sad to say goodbye to Hugh Jackman but all good things come to an end. There’s nothing left to say but thank you. He stuck with this character through thick and thin and ended things on his terms. All my respect to Mr. Jackman. It’s going to be tough to replace him as Wolverine in the hearts of many fans. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to go see a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen.

You da man Hugh!!

 

They always say  ” never judge a book by it’s cover”, and while that’s proven to be true on many an occasion this installment is about the latter. More specifically, judging the cover itself.

What makes a great cover? Is it the art? The artist? The action? The drama? The significance? All these factors do indeed contribute to the long lasting appeal to any comic book cover. Sometimes I want a ton of action and detail in a comic cover, while other times I long for the understated quiet cover that conveys just as much. These days the art of design is beginning to play a major role in comic book covers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I marvel at the creativity behind said types of covers just as much as ” traditional” ones.

One thing that can’t be explained is that odd favorite cover that any one of us just happens to like. Perhaps the artist isn’t that well known and/or the issue itself doesn’t have much historical significance, but it doesn’t matter. For some reason, that comic book cover spoke to you and burrowed it’s way into your memory. At the end of the day it all comes down to personal taste. Here are 12 of my favorite covers featuring the green Goliath known to all as The Hulk!

 

King Sized Hulk Special # 1 – ( Artist: Jim Steranko)

 

We start things off with a classic cover by cover artist extraordinaire, Jim Steranko. This one’s been homaged more than a few times over the years, which is always a testament to how good a cover is. This one screams Hulk. It’s loud and bursting with energy and drama. Hulk can’t seemed to be contained in his own cover. It’s a brilliant composition from a man who knew his craft.

 

 

 

Incredible Hulk # 102 – ( Artist: Marie Severin)

 

This cover is a big deal because it gave the Hulk his first full length series. It doesn’t hurt that the great Marie Severin had a hand in it either. Like the previous entry, the cover screams Hulk, but more importantly it tells us what Hulk is about. I’ve always been a sucker for these Hulk transformation type covers ever since I saw this one as a kid.

 

 

Incredible Hulk # 206 ( Artist: Dave Cockrum)

 

Perhaps it’s not as flashy as some other covers on this list but I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this image of the hulk over the years. It seemed like the default image for stickers, posters, lunch boxes, T shirts etc. I actually saw the image first before ever gazing at this cover. Legendary X-men artist Dave Cockrum really pleased Marvel and us fans with this gem.

 

 

The Incredible Hulk # 181 ( Artist: Herb Trimpe)

How could I not include this classic cover introducing Wolverine? It’s iconic status cannot be denied. It’s a great action piece that sets the stage for one of the best rivalries in all of comics. Poor Wendigo is totally overshadowed.

 

 

The Hulk! Magazine # 23 ( Artist: Walt Simonson)

This one could be considered my ” eclectic” choice but I truly love this cover. It’s a cover from the short lived oversized magazine publication that ran in the 70’s. I just find it so… cool, for lack of a better word. Maybe it’s the transformation thing again, who knows. I’m a big fan of Walt Simonson and seeing his painted work was a rare treat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other painted pieces he did after this one. It’s certainly of it’s time but it rocks in my book!

 

 

The Hulk! Magazine # 25 ( Artist’s John Buscema & Joe Jusko)

Another inclusion from the Hulk magazine line but this one contains a more iconic image. Big John Buscema is a LEGEND in the comics world. In my opinion, he’s almost as important an artist as Jack Kirby. This cover is to the point but it really stands out. The intensity just oozes off the page. Everytime I see it I still think ” Man, that’s awesome.” Full points for whoever thought to pair up John Buscema’s pencils with Joe Jusko’s wonderful paints.

 

 

Incredible Hulk # 340 ( Artist: Todd McFarlane)

Wolverine shows up again, so sue me. I’d be willing to bet this cover has been homaged the most out of any on this list, it’s that popular. The interior of this comic doesn’t disappoint either. We get treated to the most brutal and best Wolverine vs Hulk brawl ever. Todd McFarlane always has an eye for creating a memorable cover. The cover is totally Todd. He loved playing with reflections and different ways to draw an action scene. Only one word can describe this cover. Badass.

 

 

Incredible Hulk # 376 – ( Artist : Dale Keown)

This cover is the first to feature artist, Dale Keown, who is definitely my favorite Hulk artist of all time. To my knowledge, this was the first time ever to feature BOTH the grey and green versions of the Hulk. The story manged to tie up that loose end and come up with a plausible explanation for the two versions of the same character. I just loved the action and sense of urgency this cover has. I remember trying to draw by copying this cover over and over again when I was a kid.

 

 

Incredible Hulk # 377 ( Artist: Dale Keown)

An iconic cover for an iconic story. It’s a huge issue in the history of the Hulk because it manages to give Hulk Banner’s intelligence. No longer is Hulk a savage monster who can barely string together three sentences. The design of the cover is simple but brilliant and the colors are perfect. Dale Keown knocks this one way out of the park.

 

 

Incredible Hulk # 379 ( Artist: Dale Keown)

Guess who? That’s right, it’s Dale Keown once again. Truth be told I could’ve done an entire list of Dale Keown Hulk covers. This issue introduces us to the “new” intelligent Hulk. Keown made some subtle changes to his facial appearance, creating a truly unique and iconic version of the character. The cover just demands your attention. You know it’s a big deal, I mean it’s as in your face as it gets. Every inch of the cover is used including the title itself!

 

 

Incredible Hulk vol 2 # 49- ( Artist: Kaare Andrews)

Artist, Kaare Andrews delivers one of the cleverest Hulk covers I’ve ever seen. It’s a wonderful homage to the fan favorite children’s book, Where The Wild Things Are. Not a particularly important or noteworthy issue of the hulk and yet such a unique cover. It’s meant to put a smile on your face and let you appreciate two groups of iconic characters.

 

Incredible Hulk vol 2 # 94 ( Artist: Jose Ladronn)

We end things with my favorite cover from the Planet Hulk story line. Jose Ladronn provides a gorgeous painted cover reminiscent of the days of the yesteryear, and how appropriate. Planet Hulk Is essentially Gladiator( The film) meets Hulk.

Planet Hulk proved to be the most celebrated story of  modern age for Hulk. This is the cover that really make me take notice and get back into Hulk after many years of mediocrity for the character.

 

There you have it! 12 of my favorite covers of my favorite monster.