Sunday, September 26, 2010

Random Thoughts 20

-I was in the grocery store and noticed that Hostess and DC have a deal. Batman and Superman appear on the boxes of Cupcakes and Twinkies. Green Lantern (Hal) turns Sno-Balls into green colored Glo-Balls and Flash gets his very own Flash Cakes (red icing on regular Cupcakes)

-Some interesting DC solicits for Dec:

Green Lantern/Plastic Man one-shot by Marv Wolfman should be worth a look.

Larfleeze Christmas Special that was teased by Geoff Johns for a while before being announced at SDCC

The Legion Of Super-Heroes Annual #1 reunites Levitz & Giffen who had quite a run on the Legion in the 80's.

The all pencil Batman: Hush Deluxe Hardcover seems cool to look at, but I don't necessarily want to buy this story again.

-The big moves at DC: The ending of the Wildstorm imprint and DC Entertainment moving to LA. The only Wildstorm book I've read was Planetary (when it came out) so I was not floored by this announcement. It seems that the various properties will be folded into other imprints (either DC or Vertigo depending on which is more apropriate) so content wise I don't think DC loses much. Besides how many start and stops has the Wildstorm universe had since 2000? Four,...five? As for the move to California....It really doesn't affect the Comics offices and jobs aren't going to be lost if people are willing to move with the company.

-Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are trading cosmic level characters for street level ones. They will write the new ongoing Heroes For Hire comic. It will feature: The Punisher, the Falcon, Misty Knight, Paladin, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, Silver Sable, The Shroud and Avengers Moon Knight and Black Widow. I'm sad that they're leaving the Guardians Of the Galaxy and Nova, but excited to see if they can drum up the same kind of interest in this new set of characters.

-It's premire week on TV this week. So far, nothing has really captured my attention.

The Event (NBC, Mon 9PM)- seemed like it was trying too hard to "be" the new Lost. None of the characters were particularly memorable...but the sci-fi aspect of the series is interesting. In the first episode the kidnapping of a family led to an assassination attempt ala 9/11 on the President of the U.S. by an airline pilot. The reason, he was going public about a group of people being held in custody in a remote base in Alaska. However, the plane disappears in midair before crashing. The spokesperson of this mysterious group says "They saved us". So we got this mysterious group, the conspiracy who wants the President dead for going public about this group, what happened with the plane and who did it to be answered. I'm hoping that episode two will be better.

Lone Star (Fox, Mon 9PM)- This is about a con man who is leading two lives, two cons and trying to figure out if he wants to run those cons or turn legit in either life. I'm sorry, but this kind of sounds like they said let's take a Sawyer [from Lost] "type" and create a show out of it. I don't think the lead has the charisma to pull it off though.

Hawaii Five-O (CBS, Mon 10PM)- Now, I really never watched the old show even in reruns, but I do know lots of the locations and the same production crew were used on one of my favorite shows of all time, Magnum P.I. and, I expect, Lost [do I obssess much?] So, while the lead isn't that solid , there are lots of familiar faces to keep me around for a few more episodes. There's Grace Park from BSG, Masi Oka (yet to appear) from Heroes and Daniel Dae Kim from Lost [of course]

Undercovers (NBC, Wed 8PM)- Okay, this show was fun, but I had to get over that awful "sex-pionage" promo. [I sincerely hope that's not a running gag] Watching this it could well have been "Alias: The Married Years". So the leads of Sydney and Vaughan have been recast/reimagined as two spies lured out of their five year old retirement after marrying each other. A Marshall "tech/support" type guy shows up. The female lead runs a catering business with her friend [oh, wait, Francine is dead I guess I should stop with the Alias connections] The emphasis here is on action, comedy and romance more than the actual espionage plots.

Returning favorites had strong episodes...

Chuck (NBC, Mon. 8PM)- Chuck is now looking for his spy Mom (played by Linda Hamilton) and ran into tough guy baddie Dolph Lundgren this week. This show gets some cool guest stars! I did groan when they brought back my least favorite part of the show... the Buy More. Yet, they did with a bit of a it could be interesting.

Castle (ABC, Mon. 10PM)- Nathan Fillion is back for more murder mysteries and flirting.

Fringe (FOX, Thurs 9PM)- Olivia is trapped on the alternate Earth...while her double is on the Prime one. If that's not bad enough, the bad guys on Alternearth have brainwashed her (geneticly?) into thinking that she IS that universe's Olivia.

Smallville (CW, Fri. 8PM)- Clark has a near-death experience with both Jor-El and Pa Kent, while Lex Luthor's clones are discovered. Lois knows the secret of the Blur [UGH!, hate that name] and we see the Superman Returns suit [Huh? Well I guess it was cheap]. Meanwhile, Oliver is being beaten by somebody for some reason. Chloe tries on Fate's helmet and then trades herself to free Oliver. Oh and one of the Lex clones tries to kill Lois with the good old "you're not fast enough to save the woman you love and these random innocents" trick. Spoiler alert...he is fast enough. Next episode looks killer...Lois with Carter Hall/Hawkman and Shayera and Deadshot in Metropolis...Yes, Deadshot.

I've yet to watch the last new show to pique my interest...Blue Bloods the CBS drama about a multi-generational NYPD police family starring Tom Selleck [Magnum himself] as the patriarch and NYC Police Commissioner. The other Wahlberg (Donnie) plays his eldest son, dealing with PTS from Iraq. His daughter is a prosecutor. His youngest son is a Harvard grad that gave up a career in law to become a beat cop having just graduated to the force. They are all dealing with the recent death in the line of duty of another cop sibling. The youngest is approached by the FBI to go after a secret society of crooked cops and learns his brother was working for them when he was killed. If that's not enough, there is a clue that points to the oldest brother being part of that society.

So that's it for now...

See you next week.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This Weeks Comic Stack 9/22/10

From DC:

  • Flash #5- This is a manic issue. Manapul's art gets that across very well. The Rogues fight the Renegades and the Flash during which Captain Boomerang has a White Lantern induced freak out. He wildly throws his energy 'rangs. One hits the huge mirror that will bring out the Mirror Lords that spell death for Iris, according to the Renegade Top. Barry is knocked into the cracked mirror, breaking it and is bombarded by images of his mother alive and well. The rest of the Renegades take the distracted Barry prisoner for trial in the future, while the Top pays Iris Allen a visit...Great

  • Green Lantern Corps #52- This is a great conclusion to the Alpha Lantern storyline and it looks like the end of Cyborg Superman for a while. The whole issue is told through the recently freed Alpha Lantern Boodikka. I liked her observations and comments on the other lanterns as they fight to free the robotic planet of Grenda from Hank Henshaw's control. Ardian Syaf does an incredible job with the art. He has become one of my favorite "new" artists. Great

  • Justice League: Generation Lost #10- Max Lord sets Magog on Captain Atom. The "JLI" breaks into smaller teams to follow up on the Checkmate connection to Lord. Rocket Red, Fire and Ice find one of the three leads to be a robotics lab guarded by the Metal Men. While not as good as previous issues this one was still quite good. Winick is really on a streak here even without Giffen guiding him now. Good

  • Justice League Of America #49- This starts out as one of those "what does a team do after a big fight" comics. Robinson quickly shows (with guest penciler Pow Rodrix) all the team members on their downtime. Poor Donna and Jade however run into Donna's old enemy Bogeyman (I don't know if he was a real old villain from the old Teen Titans series or just made for this story) and have to fight off his psychic assault. Not too bad...the art was pretty good too. Alright

  • Legion Of Super-Heroes #5- A great issue with the Legion dealing with the Titan refugees. The xenophobic Earth-Man continues to reconsider his stance on aliens when he has to defend refugees from an anti-alien militia. It has a great "one man alone" stand followed by "a ____ member is never alone" moment. The cliffhanger page shows that Earth-Man may have had some very good reasons for rethinking his xenophobia. Great

And from Marvel:

  • Amazing Spider-Man #643 [from last week]- I still don't like the art too much, but the story is great. A nice everyone is after him chase. This is a real nice way to end the whole One More Brand New Moment In Time phase of Spidey. Good

  • Avengers Academy #4- Although McKone's art is pretty good, I just don't care enough about the kid characters to keep me reading. So I think this title might be gone from my pull list after next issue. Alright

  • Secret Avengers #5- This issue has some great guest art by David Aja and Michael Lark. It also focuses on who the "Nick Fury" is that has been leading the team opposing the SA for the past four issues. Turns out it is NOT the real Nick Fury [SURPRISE], merely a prototype LMD (Life Model Decoy) with his memories and emotions and a body more like the Vision and Human Torch than the standard robotic LMD. For some reason they can't destroy him so SHIELD locks him up. However, being "Nick Fury" he keeps busting out getting caught when he foils plots to take over the world. So he his finally liberated by the head of this secret organization...I won't say who it is, but he will be familiar to readers of Brubaker's Marvels Project. Good

  • Thor #615- Not the best first issue for Fraction. Mostly, it was conversation and premonitions about some vague threat to all of creation intercut with scenes of said threat wiping out the elves of Alfheim. One conversation is set up for a joke on the last page. A scientist is trying to explain to an unseen Asgardian his theory of why there is a threat coming. Asgard has come to Earth and wherever Asgard was, something is taking its place because nature abhors a vacuum. The mystery Asgardian is revealed on the last page but hinted at throughout the issue (pay attention to the type of analogies the scientist uses to explain his theory). Thor is really barely in the issue. The art was okay. Ferry takes getting used to for me, but he's fine after a couple of issues. Alright

  • Uncanny X-Men #528- There's a lot going on in this issue. Storm and Hope go after one of the five new mutants [#3] in Africa, there's dissension among the Atlanteans, Dazzler and Northstar enjoy some of the new hero fame that the X-Men have now, Iceman hires a PR firm [Order fans might remember this character] to capitalize on that new fame and Emma deals with some personal stuff involving Sebastian Shaw's influence on her. {WHEW} All that makes for a pretty good comic. Good

Great: 3

Good: 4

Alright: 3

Bad: 0

Some Trades:

Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 4- Roger Stern wrote most of this volume, but Chris Claremont came on for six issues and a crossover to Man-Thing (included). The highlight, for me, is when Stern returned, he was joined by Marshall Rogers (famous for his small Batman run) as penciler.

Essential Captain America Vol. 5- This volume collects the end of Frank Robbins run as penciler for the title and the return of Jack Kirby to the character. Except this time he writesas well as draws. Now, Kirby would get into some goofy stuff during his return to Cap and Marvel, but you can't just deny how well he composes a page and handles action.

The Complete Clone Saga Vol. 1- Yes, I've committed myself to reading the "awfulness" that was the Spider-Man Clone Saga. This is a very unfamiliar period of comics for me. I stopped reading right before this and came back into comics when it had ended. I guess I caught the tail end of it with the "Sign of Five"(?) story which killed off Ben Reilly. Yes, I know the gist of the story, but I want to know if it is as bad as people claim. This volume starts off pretty good with some great art by Bagley, Romita Jr. and Tom Lyle (who I remember not liking that much). It deals with the clones life before returning to NYC and his becoming the Scarlet Spider.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 9/15/10

I know, no posts for the last few weeks.

Instead of playing catch up I'm just going to go into this week's books.

And play with my review format a little...

From DC this week:
  • Batman Beyond #4- I was afraid that Dick Grayson would be treated badly in this new "future" [these type of stories about the future never bode well for him]. Terry gets an explanation for his retirement that is a little lame. Meanwhile Bruce is going all Kingdom Come Batbot on Hush. Terry's friend Max makes an appearance, which is cool. The last page has a reveal that is a head scratcher. My first reaction was "Damn, I knew it. I knew they were gonna do that" but then I thought about the issue and art and it's quite possible that it's not who they said they were. So there is hope. I'm enjoying this even if the mixing of the animated series and the DCU is a bit uneven. -Good
  • Birds Of Prey #5- Things look bad as the BoP are split because of the fallout of Savant's attack on them. Huntress has to be talked down from killing the Penguin by Oracle. As Babs deals with Savant and Creote [by showing them the new HQ?] and alludes to a way to make them forget the location of the Batcave [paging Zatanna?], Hawk and Zinda recover in the hospital. Dinah takes White Canary back home agreeing to something that will prevent Sin [her adopted daughter] from being killed shutting out the rest of the team from her decision. So Zinda and Huntress go to Bangkok [just realized how that sounds] to find Dinah. They find her alright, but it doesn't look like she's happy to see them. -Good
  • Brightest Day #10- Now that the issues are focused on two or three plot points this is a better title. 52 was the same way. Here the focus is on what's going on with Firestorm and the intro/origin of the new Aqualad [not called that yet]. I don't care who you are, you have got to love both cliffhangers...Aquaman vs Black Manta and the return of Black Lantern Firestorm! -Great
  • DC Universe: Legacies #5- Crisis On Infinite Earths and George Perez hit this issue. Len Wein gives an everyman perspective on the Crisis. But, the late 70's and early 80's are blazed through in order to get there. I do like that Spectre page that references specific Spectre stories. Perez seems a bit shaky art wise till the story turns to the emergence of heroes in the 80's (Firestorm, New Teen Titans, Outsiders, Blue Devil, Quality characters). Once the red skies show up it's incredible. Heroes and rubble galore...his forte. The second story was an okay look at some of DC's space characters drawn by Walt Simonson. -Great
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #2- Warning- scenes depicted on covers are further than they appear. In actuality, the cover gives away the cliffhanger. Some great art by Fernando Pasarin and great emotional scenes with Arisa and Kilowog working through the aftermath of their Blackest Night experiences. The "Big Bad" gets teased for a few pages then it's on to Odym to get Guy purged of the Red Lantern rage...where the cover happens. -Good
  • Justice Society Of America Special #1- I picked this up really by accident, it was in my pull list because the JSA is in there. I figured, it's Scott Kolins, how bad could it be? This was the conclusion to the Magog series, I guess. The story was just not that good, it did have some interesting aspects of the Kingdom Come future that it brought into the DCU. However, this really felt like they were clearing the slate for whatever Magog's role is that was hinted at in Brightest Day. -Bad
  • Zatanna#5- I'm kinda surprised at how much I like this series. Poor Zach...just when Zatanna and him were gonna reconnect...she gets love potion roses and an age defying casino owner who wants to marry her and give her soul to a demon as payment for his debt. Also,...he has a zombie army. -Good

From Marvel:

  • Captain America: Patriot #1- This starts a four issue mini that looks at the second replacement Captain America, Jeff Mace. This issue looks at how an encounter with Cap just before the war inspires him to become the Patriot. Stuck at home because of being 4-F, Mace throws himself into the home front war effort. He joins the Liberty Legion. The last few pages he is debriefed on the events of What If #5 and is offered to carry on as Captain America. Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser did a wonderful job. -Great
  • New Mutants #17- This title is slowly losing me. Zeb Wells starts out with an awful scene between Sam and Dani that is teen drama at it's worst. These characters are supposed to be in their early to mid twenties yet since the series started they've acted more and more like teenagers. There was finally some action involving the team this issue too. The art by Leonard Kirk is good, but he needs more to do with it. I hope it's just this arc that is like this because I enjoyed the team in Second Coming. -Okay
  • Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3- This continues to be a fun series. I liked the part where Steve, who has lost his Super Soldier TM muscles can still kick ass because he still remembers all his training. The art was good but had none of the fun panel layouts of the first two. -Good
  • Thunderbolts #148- Ugh, after the non-crossover crossover with Avengers Academy last issue, this time it's a Shadowland crossover. I guess it makes more sense as Cage is involved in that debacle. Cage sends in the T-bolts under command of Fixer and Songbird to destroy a Hand fortress and rescue a kidnapped cop. Within moments both supervising T-bolts are taken out by the Hand ninjas and once again the chains on the others are unfettered. I have liked Jeff Parker's Atlas series and I really wanted to like this one being an old T-bolts fan. This issue pulls some pretty big BS though. I'll start off saying that I am not reading the Shadowlands mini or Daredevil title now but do know the gist of it. That said WTF is a HUGE Japanese temple/fortress doing in Clint--Hell's Kitchen and how did it get there? [that's definitely a non union job] Looking at this thing on the third panel on page has got to take up several city blocks. Now I'm willing to accept that as someone else's BS that Parker has to deal with. But he wrote the so bad it's good again dialogue of Luke Cage. Saying to a ninja who tried disguising himself as Iron Fist "Ninja, please." Then he gets some info from a street musician who knows all about the Hand's evil undead army living in the sewers (called the Underhand [get it]). This was just awful. -Bad





MIA: Amazing Spider-Man #643- The great Mark Waid throws all of Spidey's villains at him at once in this arc that closes out the near weekly run of Amazing for the past two years.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Thoughts 19

I know it has been a while.... but I got involved in other things for the past few weeks...filming for YouTube videos, a couple of new games for my PS3...among the everyday stuff that prevents me from sitting down and writing stuff for this blog and reviewing my comics here.

I rededicate myself to getting back on a weekly schedule with both this and the reviews.

So here are a few things of interest...

-With the cancellation of Daredevil and the teasers featuring various characters as the new "Man Without Fear" Marvel revealed who will "replace" DD. It's none other than The Black Panther!....?.....

So T'Challa will get a new ongoing comic. That's cool, but given the state of the character these days it's just odd. T'Challa is no longer king of Wakanda and the chief of his tribe (currently held by his [don't get me started] sister) which prevents him from being The Black Panther as it is a TITLE. Okay, so he no longer has the resources, prestige or other trappings that he has had in the past. That makes for a cool how does he make his way in the world story.

It seems that Marvel has forgotten that it has an urban "Panther" character that would fit in better as a protector of Hell's Kitchen...I'm talking about the Kasper Cole Black Panther/White Tiger character. As part of a similar relaunch of the Panther concept a NYPD detective found pieces of the Black Panther costume and masqueraded as the real Panther to clear his name of corruption charges. Later, the original Panther takes him under his tutelage to replace him, but ends up reclaiming the Panther garb for himself. He gives Cole a white version of the Panther suit and names him the White Tiger. This all happened at the tail end of Priest's early 2000's run on Black Panther.

The new series will be written by novelist David Liss who I haven't really heard of (He writes historical fiction focusing on 17th and 18th Century). The art will be handled by Francesco Francovilla whose artwork I have loved on Dynamite's Zorro title. I will probably, at least initially, get this title on the strength of the art alone. My mind wonders what Priest would do with the premise. A deposed T'Challa organizing and leading Cole as White Tiger along with other heroes like Falcon, Iron Fist, Cage, and even having Dakota North and Sgt Tork playing roles in his plans....Wait, he already did that.

-A quick review of the two games that have been occupying my time....

Transformers: War For Cybertron

Basically a third person shoot'em up with the added ability to turn into your own vehicle. The graphics are nice but because of the backgrounds finding enemies can sometimes be difficult as they tend to blend in (but I guess that can be part of the challenge). Gameplay is pretty smooth although I have had a few unwanted transformations because on the PS3 you press down on the joystick to transform. The story is a sort of prequel/reimagining of the events that led the TFs to Earth that fits in with 80's G1 continuity. You get to be various familiar Decepticons and Autobots with own unique armaments and abilities. As a plus Peter Cullen the voice of Optimus in the 80's series, the live action movies and the new cartoon series is Prime here too. A very fun game for Transformer fans and occasional gamers like me. I think that more seasoned gamers might not be too impressed with the gameplay.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

This is really a mixed bag. Not just because of the blend of what could have been four different Spider games. The premise here is that Spidey has inadvertently broken a mystical tablet that will breakdown the walls between dimensions. Madame Web contacts Spider-Men in four dimensions to recover the pieces of the tablet. The worlds involved are the "Amazing" (close to 616 MU), "Noir", 2099 and Ultimate. The voice acting is a big draw here. Not only is it narrated by Stan"The Man" Lee, but each Spidey is voiced by an actor that has previously voiced a Spidey on TV. Neil Patrick Harris (MTV series) is the "Amazing", Christopher Daniel Barnes (9o's Animated) is the "Noir", Dan Gilvezan (Amazing Friends) is 2099 and Josh Keaton (Spectacular) is Ultimate. Each Spidey has unique powers as well as shared ones [the Noir Spidey gains the most from his original comic inspiration]. Each universe has its own aesthetic as well. I really like the "comic" look of the Amazing world.

Sadly, play is where this game suffers. The last few Spidey games have had a free roaming feature that I liked, here it's just regular levels. Also the web slinging is not automatic so it takes a while to get the hang of it and can lead to some annoyance. The in level enemies are fairly easy while the bosses are incredibly hard. The levels are formulaic as well. Go through path eliminating bad guys, fight villain, continue on path and fight villain again. The Noir stealth levels and the boss fight close quarters do change it up a bit. I probably would have been wowed more if Batman: Arkham Asylum hadn't come up with some of the features that this game has. [The Spider-Sense mode is exactly like B:AA's Detective mode] Designers could do worse if they all used B:AA as a template for future super-hero games.

So while not as expansive as past Spider-Man games or as groundbreaking it is still a fun game. Most of that fun comes from the different universes' aesthetics and the voice talent. The overly difficult bosses really hurt the game for me. Only Web-Heads need pick up this game.