Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms
dirs. Stones, Weinstein
Now Available on DVD

The Invincible Iron Man
dirs. Archibald, Paur
Now Available on DVD

The phenomenally janky Ghost Rider flick was number one at the box office last weekend. This is likely one of the omens of the Apocalypse. I'm not sure what to do about that, exactly, but at least we've been warned. So thanks, Ghost Rider. I guess.

Ghost Rider did something else, too, which is prove that comic book movies—even shitty ones—are still wildly popular; with a third Spider-Man and a second Fantastic Four hitting theaters later this summer, the comic books-as-film trend isn't letting up. So the release of two straight-to-DVD comic book movies—one based on Mike Mignola's Hellboy, the other on Marvel Comics' Iron Man—is hardly surprising. Of the two, The Invincible Iron Man is easily the weaker—tired and uninspired, its story is as clunky as its animation is bland. Marvel's screwed up their animated films so far, and while there are some welcome (if minor) improvements in Iron Man, it's largely just another great opportunity squandered.

Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms, however, is a lot of fun: With a more solidified tone than Guillermo del Toro's live-action Hellboy (2004) could muster, Sword's slick, cool visuals, solid story, and top-grade voice acting give the film a welcome punch. It's nothing mind blowing, sure, but Hellboy's central concept—of a blue-collar monster fighting other monsters—remains as great as ever, at least when it's done well.

But apparently, it's not really about quality—both of these discs come loaded with previews of more animated, direct-to-DVD comic book adaptations. Regardless of whether they're any good or not, people clearly prefer watching their comics rather than reading them—which means at the very least, there should be enough animated, comic book-inspired films to keep us Netflixing until the End of Days. Which reminds me: Thanks again for that, Ghost Rider. Dick.