I’m a comic book geek, I can admit it. I’ve been reading and collecting them for years so whenever there’s a movie that has anything to do with comics I’m usually there. One movie, Comic Book Villains, flew under my radar for the longest time, but could be because it was never released in theaters and never really promoted. But hey I finally found out about it and gave it a shot.
Comic Book Villains is the directorial debut of comic book writer James Robinson, he also wrote the screenplay. The movie starts out with an excellent idea, but starts falling apart towards the end. It was as if Robinson ran out of ideas on how to end the movie so he took it in a direction you’d never have expected, unfortunately the direction was for the worse.
CBV is about the obsessive behavior of comic book fans and their attempts at obtaining a chance of a lifetime, a huge stash of old comics that is extremely valuable. We’re talking about a million dollars worth for all of them, if not more. Finding one of the issues in the “holy grail” in mint condition is like finding a Picasso at a yard sale. This makes the characters in the movie do things that would seem completely out of place for them.
Archie, the narrator and main character of the movie played by DJ Qualls , shares his experiences about the rivaly between one comic book store owner named Raymond, played by Donal Logue, and his cross town comic book store rivals Norman and Judy, played by Michael Rappaport and Natasha Lyonne, who become obsessed with possessing the large stash of valuable comics. When all efforts to purchase the comics prove fruitless, things turn bloody and that’s where the movie takes a turn for the worse.
For the first 45 minutes, CBV is an entertaining comedy that delves into the niche realm of comic book collecting. Every comic book fanboy can relate to what’s going on. You’ve got the ultimate comic book geek: 30-something, disheveled, and lonely. His life revolves around his store, which is falling apart at the seams and is losing money hand over fist, but he does it for the love of comics. Then there’s his competition, Norman and Judy, who own a fancier and cleaner store that caters to more than just comic books. Raymond sees them as “dabblers”, people that dabble in comics to make money and have no real love for the genre.
After the 45 minute mark is where it starts going downhill fast. People start turning up dead, we’ve got people burning down other peoples stores and most bizarre was one person killing a loved one because they were simply to lazy to move something. About the only character that remained true to form was Archie, and by this point in the movie he started to take a back seat to the ongoing shenanigans. It was as if Robinson was writing two movies at the same time and decided to combine them without thinking of the consequences.
The movie could have been so much better and they stuck to the original formula instead of changing it midway through, just watch the first forty five minutes and you’ll be set.