Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Iron Man

Iron Man?

I am a child of the 60s and 70s, and as far as superheroes are concerned Iron Man ranks in the second tier.

First Tier heroes:
Fantastic 4
Avengers (Yes, I know he is a part of the team)

Second Tier Heroes:
Captain America
Captain Marvel/Shazam (DC)
Captain Marvel (Marvel Comics)
Green Lantern
The Elongated Man
Nick Fury
Iron Man
Martian Manhunter
The Defenders
Dr. Strange
Green Arrow
Ghost Rider
The Sandman (DC)
Iron Fist
Powerman (Luke Cage)
The Vision
The Scarlet Witch
Adam Strange
Robin (Night Wing)

The Second Tier hero was the comic book (25 cents) that we would buy if we had any money left over after we had bought a first tier comic. When it came time for trading, my friends and I had a rule: at least 3 second-tier comics for 1 first-tier comic. For example, 3 Ironfists for 1 Spiderman. Or 3 Iron Mans for 1 X-men.

So it came as quite a surprise to me that I thoroughly enjoyed the new Iron Man movie. In fact, it ranks pretty high on my Modern Era Comic-to-Movie list.

Modern Era Comic-to-Movie list:

1. Spiderman # 1 (or Spiderman # 2--they are both so good)
2. Spiderman # 2 (or Spiderman # 1--they are both so good)
3. Iron Man
4. Batman Begins
5. Superman returns
6. X-Men # 1
7. Spiderman # 3
8. X-Men # 2
9. The 300
10. Sin City
11. Blade
12. The Incredible Hulk
13. Hell Boy
14. Fantastic 4 #2

Iron Man becomes the first Second Tier hero to break into my top 5, and this is significant after a first-tier hero that I had lots of hope for (Fantastic 4) failed twice--FF Movie number one was a yawner, and movie # 2 was only a little bit better, thanks to a great villian (not really a villiain)--the Silver Surfer [Note to Hollywood, get rid of Doctor Doom if you are not going to use him correctly--make him regal, make him the Hitlerian ruler of a country, and make him slug it out with the Thing --that's what the fans want. Furthermore, Where is Namor, the Submariner?--bring him on and let him slug it out with the Thing--the fans are begging you. Where are Medusa, Black Bolt, and the Inhumans--bring them on and let's have a slugfest. That's what the FF is all about. CLOBBERIN' TIME! And if you refuse to do that, then please don't make anymore FF movies. Please. We love the comic too much and you're pissing us off the way you're ruining it.]

Iron Man the movie works because it actually has a script that both pleases the fans of the comic and one that works on film.

Yes, the origin tale was set in the desert of Afghanistan, but old timers like me were thinking "Viet Nam."

Jeff Bidges is surprisingly good and vicious in his role as the bad guy. I like him with the bald head and beard. It took me a few scenes to recognize him.

The biggest plus to the film, however, is its lead, Robert Downey, who is a star as well as a mighty fine actor.

So now we have the new formula for success. Put a first-tier star in the lead role and even a second-tier superhero will soar [See Wesly Snipes in Blade]. This movie rocks, people.

I also saw the trailer for the new Hulk movie. That one looks great! And it has a real good villain--The Abomination. The Abomination will be a fun oponent for the Hulk. They are both green and mean.

And Ed Norton plays Bruce Banner. Hmmmmm.

Let's see, the Incredible Hulk is a first-tier hero. Ed Norton is a first-tier star. It's money in the bank, baby. The movie can't miss.



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Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.