Monthly Archives: November 2010

Deals, deals, deals!

Ahh the day after Thanksgiving, where everyone and their mothers hits up the local box store for some super sweet deals. Including me. That’s right, I went to Target and Wal Mart, and while I didn’t have to knock out any grandmothers this year, I did get some pretty good deals on some video games and got both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight on blu-ray for a whopping $5 EACH.

I also got to make it to Jetpack, which means the belated COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Ultimate Comics Spider-man #150
The original Ultimate Spider-man run was one of the few comics I kept up with during high school, a time where I had cut way back on my funnybook intake. Brian Michael Bendis’ hold on a young Peter Parker coming to terms with his new powers was done exceptionally well, and much of that run contains some of the best stories of the ’00’s. But then Ultimatum hit, and the book was relaunched as Ultimate Comics Spider-man. While this current incarnation of ultimate Spidey isn’t bad, it didn’t have the magic that it once had, and I dropped the book. Plus David Lafuente’s art made Spider-man look like he had a balloon for a head.

What’s up helium-head?

However, we’re now at the point where the original series would have hit issue 150, and of course, Marvel takes this time to return to the original numbering of the series, because it’s not like they relaunched with a new issue #1 a year ago.

This issue finds Carol Danvers, the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D. as she talks with Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor on the issue of whether or not Peter Parker should be allowed to continue being a superhero. As each hero talks about their encounters with the wall-crawler, we are treated to a different artist for each segment. This decision was great as it really gave each character their own “voice” in a unique way, and the highlight was Skottie Young’s fantastic piece with Spidey and Thor fighting an ancient Norse troll.

Unfortunately the only real extra content we get is a reprint of the “Spider-man Team Up Super Special” from the now defunct “Ultimate Marvel Team-up” series. For those who have never read the story, it’s a great deal, but I myself was hoping for some more new material. While I’m not going to be rushing back into Ultimate Spidey just yet, this was a very solid issue.

Detective Comics #871

Scott Snyder, the acclaimed writer of the phenomenal American Vampire series, is the new writer of Detective Comics post “Batman, Inc.”, and his debut is one of the best issues of the month. Setting the spotlight on Dick Grayson’s Batman, the issue is filled with many awesome character moments, especially involving GraysonBat and Commissioner Gordon.

The plot revolves around a young prep school student who has somehow gotten his hands on a “hormonal mutagen”, or the stuff that made Killer Croc look like this. Essentially the hormone makes you “de-evolve” into a creature based off of your most base instincts, and the parents of the children who were brutally murdered by their classmate  want answers. Batman takes it upon himself to locate the person who gave him access to the hormone out of the police evidence lock-up, and already his search has ended up with three dead bodies. By the end of the issue, Dick has already made his vow to hunt down whoever is responsible, and bring them to justice.

Scott Snyder’s handle on the characters is spot on, and I especially like Grayson’s father’s description of Gotham. We also get some great character moments regarding Dick staying in the Wayne Tower penthouse, and his somewhat reluctance to continue being Batman with Bruce Wayne not only back, but also being Batman as well.  The artwork by Jock is stunning, and his work here is honestly some of his best. This is a great first issue for people intrigued by the idea of Dick Grayson being Batman, and is the start of what looks to be a great, if short, run.

Gobbeldy Gobbeldy Gook

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s Wednesday night, where are my comic reviews?”. Well my (four) faithful readers, unfortunately they’re on hold until I get to go to Jetpack Comics later this week. Why the delay you ask?

Thanksgiving, Duh.

Yes, this year I’m in Massachusetts at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. So far I’ve already had to play “Secret Agent Tag” with one cousin’s child, and apparently the other one calls me “Joe”. I guess the “n” in “Jon” is very hard for a two year old to pronounce. There were a lot of quotes in this paragraph.

Anyways, happy Thankskilling everyone!

Expecto Reviewonos!

I saw not one, but two movies this weekend.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part One (2010)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes
Directed By: David Yates

We are now near the end of the saga of the “boy who lived”, and my has he grown from the small child that we first met in Sorcerer’s Stone. In the first part of the final Potter story, Harry, along with Hermione and Ron, are not returning to Hogwarts. The dark lord Voldemort or “VoMo” for short (again played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes) is actively hunting Potter so he may destroy him and face no opposition in his rise to power. With help from past characters Lupin, The Weasely Twins, Hagrid, and Mad-Eye Moody, the movie gets off to a great start with a stunning chase through London, as Harry and Co. fight off the swarming Death Eaters.

From there on, Deathly Hallows exhaustively covers roughly the first half of the final book. Even though Hallows runs nearly three hours, it never once feels like it drags, and contains some of the darkest moments in the Potter universe. Director David Yates, who helmed the last two Potter flicks, has really grown as a director with this movie, and balances the action and the character moments exceptionally well.

Many reviewers have called this installment the Empire Strikes Back of the “Harry Potter” movies, and I definitely agree with them. Tonally, this movie goes to some pretty dark places (especially with the dark wizards’ quest to wipe out all “mudbloods”), and the ending looks pretty bleak for our characters (unless you’ve read the books of course) . For now, this is one of the best movies of the series, and I can’t wait for part two in July.
5 VoMo’s Out of 5

Altitude (2010) 
Starring: Jessica Lowndes, Juilianna Guill, Ryan Donowho
Directed By: Kaare Andrews

Altitude is comic creator Kaare Andrews‘ directorial debut, and I can say that unlike comic legend Frank Miller’s The Spirit, it’s a pretty passable film. That’s not to say it’s very good though. The film follows a young pilot who decides to take her friends on a joyride. However, after flying into a storm, they find that something is in the clouds, and attacking the plane.  Andrews’ pacing and directing style are fine, but the weak link comes in the actors. My god, there has never been a cast of characters that I wanted to see die quicker than this one. Each actor goes from freaking out, to being in control, getting pissed at another character, then BACK to freaking out. The visuals for the creature were pretty cool, but the big “twist” at the end fell extremely flat for me. While it’s a decent first film, I hope Mr. Andrews’ can get a better hold on his actors for his next film.
2 1/2 “Cthulu” Rip Offs out of 5

Comic Reviews: The Return

Batman, Inc.

Batman: The Return
Batman, Inc. #1

 As we all know, I haven’t been the world’s biggest fan of  Grant Morrison’s idea to start “franchising” Batman to different countries. I’ve been fairly vocal in my belief that it’s the wrong direction for the character, and that Mr. Morrison’s ideas lately have been way too out there for the common reader.

Here is where I eat crow.

Both Batman: The Return and Batman, Inc. debut this week, and to be completely honest, they were great. The Return one-shot serves as a prologue of sorts to the first issue of Inc., and perfectly showcases how Bruce now takes his solo “war on crime” viewpoint and modifies it for a global setting. This new belief is showcased perfectly in a scene in which Bruce gives Dick Grayson, Damien, Red Robin, and the Stephanie Brown Batgirl their “orders”, which includes Batgirl being enrolled in a school in England without her knowledge and some great banter between Bruce and his son, Damien.  We also get Bruce recruiting Catwoman to help him, as well as some scenes with Lucius Fox showcasing new WayneTech designs, which obviously makes any bat-fan think of the Christopher Nolan Batman films.

Batman: The Return

Batman, Inc. brings us to Tokyo, where Bruce and Catwoman are trying to find Mr. Unknown, a vigilante that Batman wants to train to be the “Japanese Batman”. However, a mysterious villain named Lord Death Man  has already disintegrated his hands and killed him with a fresh bowl of acid to the face. While LDM is one of the more strange Morrison creations, his design is very cool, and I look forward to seeing more from him. I even enjoyed Morrison’s nod to the 60’s Batman  series at the end of the issue, which involved a death trap that featured a giant squid!

David Finch provides the artwork for Return, and as usual, his artwork is absolutely stunning. As a fan of his from his early days on Aphrodite IX, and Marvel’s Moon Knight series. It evokes the serious tone of Batman’s new vision, and sets the appropriate mood. Yanick Paquette handles the art duties on Inc., and while it’s not the super detailed art that Finch draws, it was still excellent. His slightly cartoonish pencils really gave the issue the feeling of a good old-fashioned adventure comic, and fit the tone perfectly.

I’m both pleased and relieved to tell you that Batman, Inc. is not only good, but actually makes sense. I can’t wait for the next issue.

X-Men #5

Well, we have one issue left of X-Men vs. Vampires. Thankfully.

This issue finds Xarus (the son of Dracula) and his army of vamps finally attacking the X-Men, and their ace in the hole is Wolverine, who has recently been turned into a bloodsucker. However, things don’t go so smoothly for the new lord of the vampires when Cyclops reveals his convenient way of returning Wolverine back to his normal self, and of course, when a certain previous Lord Of Vampires returns.

Victor Gischler’s plot seems to finally be going somewhere, and while this may seem like a good thing, when you consider the fact that this is the fifth part of a six part story, it suddenly makes you realize that the previous issues could have been condensed. I’m also still having a hard time trying to make sense of Xarus’ motives for attacking mutants. If he wants to do it just to have super-powered vampires, why doesn’t he just go after the other heroes as well? Is it just that the X-Men are closer?

Paco Medina’s art is still fine, just like this book is. It’s not essential for anyone except absolute X-Men die-hards, and the only reason I’ve kept up with it is because I’ve wanted to read an X-Men book. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Uncanny X-Force is going to be where I get my mutie fix from now on.  

No Trailer Shall Escape My Sight!

It’s here! It’s Here!

The official Green Lantern trailer has finally appeared online, and while some of the CGI needs some work (that mask still looks reeeeealy wonky), it’s pretty amazing how close to the comic visuals the movie is. Characters like Killowog and the brief snippet of Sinestro look spot on, and Mr. Reynolds looks like he’ll do a commendable job as Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 (even though Bradley Cooper or Nathan Fillion would have probably been a better fit).

But enough talking, watch the damn thing here!

Wiki Wild, Wiki Wild….

Wiki wild wild HEX! Jonah Hex, desperado, rough rider, nah you don’t want nunna….

Yeah, I watched Jonah Hex…

They forgot to add “Wild Wild West 2”

Jonah Hex (2010)
Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox
“Directed” By: Jimmy Hayward

Let me get this out of the way. In no way, shape, or form is Jonah Hex a good film. My god. It’s not even a “so bad it’s good” comic book film like Ghost Rider or Punisher: War Zone. It is a waste of the talent involved (wtf were Malkovich and Brolin thinking?) and a disgrace to the “Jonah Hex” character and comic book that has been kicking ass and taking names for some 60 plus issues now.

The plot focuses on Jonah Hex (played admirably by Brolin, the only good thing in this movie) being called into action by the government to stop Quintin Turnbull, the man who not only killed Hex’s family, but also scarred him as well. Malkovich plays Turnbull as the most bored villain ever. His voice never rises above a monotone, including when he is supposed to be rallying his troops to get ready to bomb of our nation’s capitol. Oh, Megan Fox also shows up playing a prostitute who’s actually a sweet girl. And a terrible actress.

The thing that bothers me about this movie (NERD RANT ALERT) is that the Jonah Hex series is so good that the writers and director Hayward could have picked literally ANY storyline from the amazing current series and had a rock-solid, old school western revenge movie. Instead, we get a Hex who, while looks the part, has the ability to speak to the dead and has gattling guns on his horse. For everything that movies like Kick-ass, Watchmen, Iron Man, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have done to propel comic books and comic book movies into a realm of more “serious” entertainment, Jonah Hex comes along and drops a big ol’ dump right on top of not only them, but the character as well.  Even die hard Hex fans should stay far, far away.
Zero mechanical spiders out of 5*

*In fact, here’s a link to both Jetpack Comics and some “Jonah Hex” comics on amazon.com. Do yourself a favor and pick one up from either one of those places instead of watching this crap.

Four Day Weekend!

Yeah that’s right, I’ve got a four day weekend. Of course a majority of it will be spent driving, but I’ll finally have a chance to read some comics, watch some movies, and relax for a while. Until then, it’s COMIC BOOK TIME!!!

Hey, Batman doing “Batman” stuff! That’s New!

Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne #6 (of 6)

While we already know that Bruce  made it through time just fine, we don’t know exactly how that was accomplished. Well, once again Mr. Crazy-Omega Beams-Dr. Hurt- Existentialism Batman (aka Grant Morrison) has provided us some much deserved answers. Kind of.

When we last left Bruce Wayne in the previous issue, he had arrived in the Justice League Watchtower looking like a Terminator crossed with an H.P. Lovecraft monster. However, we learn in this issue that Bruce had actually traveled to the literal end of time and allowed himself to be fused with one of the “archive robots”, knowing that his teammates in the Justice League would be able to defeat him. In exchange for losing his memory, Bruce finds a way to stop Darkseid’s master plan, which was to use Batman as a kind of human “bomb” to erase all of time itself via the omega beams.

The biggest problem with this issue is that with Batman and Robin‘s new issue already out, all of the impact that this story could have had is now lessened. We know Bruce is back, and that he wants to turn Batman into Starbucks. At least after reading this issue, I get a better sense of Bruce’s new stance on this “Batman, Inc.” idea, with Bruce realizing that he was never alone in his fight against crime, and that he always had allies in the forms of Superman, Wonder Woman, and others, even if they didn’t always agree on their personal stances on crime fighting.

This miniseries’ biggest flaw wasn’t in the storytelling (which was confusing at times), but in the fact that it was constantly delayed. While I commend DC for not rushing the project, they probably shouldn’t have promised to have had this all wrapped up by the end of September unless all of the issues were done and ready to be printed.  Return Of Bruce Wayne offers a more solid ending than I was expecting, and introduced me to Bruce’s new way of thinking, and while the miniseries may not have been what I wanted, it was still a fairly solid story. Now I wait for Batman, Inc., and count down until it is inevitably retconned in two years.

This should be a movie.

The Thanos Imperative #6 (of 6)

Not only are we getting the final issue of DC’s mini-event this week, but we’re also being treated to the finale of Marvel’s latest cosmic event, The Thanos Imperative. This issue finds the Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, and Thanos in the “cancerverse”, a dimension in which death has ceased to exist. With no where for the teeming mass of creatures to go, they have torn through a dimensional rift between our two worlds and are now threatening our very existence. It seemed as if Thanos, the evil god who has been working with the heroes, had just turned on his allies and was ready to be killed at the hands of the evil Mar-Vell. Without spoiling anything more, I can tell you that what follows is one of the best final issues of an event in the past few years, and makes Thanos Imperative one of the best mini-series of the year.

The writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have really outdone themselves with this issue, and really give every character a moment to shine. There was not one moment here that I knew what was going to happen, and the ending, while bittersweet, was the perfect send-off for what could be the last cosmic Marvel storyline for the time being, and it’s my personal hope that we’ll see a “Cosmic Avengers” style team form from this event, which would hopefully include members like Beta Ray Bill, Silver Surfer, Gladiator, and other awesome cosmic characters. If you haven’t been reading this, then you owe it to yourself to pick up the issues (or trade if you’ve been waiting), or better yet, go all the way back to Annihilation and start from the very beginning!

The Collective UNLEASHED!!!!

Hey you know that new Star Wars game that came out last week? I already beat it.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (PS3, XBox 360, Nintendo Wii)

George Lucas’ most recent way of getting money out of my pocket comes in the form of The Force Unleashed II, the sequel to the 2009 game in which you took control of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice Starkiller, aka Galen Marek. Hunting down jedis in the original game was a blast, even if the game needed a little more time to hone its combat and difficulty. Oh, also, Starkiller died at the end of the game (or at least at the cannon ending to the game).

So how can Starkiller be seen in this game, flinging around TWO lightsabers? Easy. Cloning. Yes, in a move that nearly destroys all logic in the Star Wars universe, Vader has secretly been attempting to clone Marek, a move that has been very time consuming due to the fact that it is apparently impossible to successfully clone someone in tune with the force. However, Vader succeeds, and right from the get go things go awry, as the possible Starkiller clone escapes, attempting to track down his love from the last game, Juno Eclipse.

The dual lightsabers LOOK cool, but don’t affect the combat much

Yoda’s blink and you’ll miss it cameo

What follows is essentially the first game, just with tighter controls and combat. In all honestly, Lucasarts should have either released this game as a downloadable add-on to the first, or waited another 4 months to give the game a better story. Many parts that were seemingly promised in the trailers and prerelease hype of the game are nothing more than cameos in the non-playable cinematics (COUGH Boba Fett COUGH), and many cool ideas, like Dagobah cutscene, would have made interesting levels.

Besides the story being waaaay too abridged, the game is also alarmingly short. I bought the game last Tuesday, and after playing maybe an hour or so here and there I had already defeated Vader and received both the light and dark side endings for the game. The game is just under 6 hours, which is a shame for all of the awesome abilities that you can use in the game. Speaking of which, all of your force abilities are available right from the get-go, but you also get a new “Jedi Mind Trick” ability, which allows you to make your enemies turn on one another with hilarious results.

I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on this game, I’m just extremely disappointed with its story and length. As a fan of the original’s characters and story, I had very high hopes for this sequel, and perhaps they were too high. As it stands right now, even die-hard Star Wars fans should avoid this sequel until it’s placed in the mark down bin.

Rooooad Trip!

Despite fighting the startings of a cold this weekend, I also saw a movie.

Due Date (2010)
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan
Directed By: Todd Philips

It took nearly four years for director Todd Phillips to follow up Old School  with The Hangover (no, Starsky and Hutch doesn’t count), but the turn around for his follow up to the comedy smash of 2009 was relatively quick. Due Date is your typical road trip between a normal guy and a crazy, slightly psychotic fellow traveler, and while the comparisons between movies like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles may be apt, it’s the star power of the film that really makes this movie stand out.

Robert Downey, Jr. plays Peter, the “normal” guy who is just trying to make it back home to California for the birth of his first child. However, after an altercation with Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) places both of them on the “no fly” list, Peter reluctantly accepts Ethan’s offer of driving him to California. What follows are your typical road-movie mishaps (car troubles, running out of money, etc.), but the way that RDJ and Galifianakis play off of each other really makes some truly funny moments, and in many ways I enjoyed this comedy more than The Hangover (blasphemy, I know).

This relationship between the two characters is what truly makes the movie for me. There are moments where it seems like Downey truly hates Ethan, not to mention the fact that his character is kind of an asshole to people. But there’s still a lot of humor to him, and one scene in particular  regarding a child will definitely be a major talking point for people who view the film. Galifiankis is hysterical as always, and there are some moments in the film where we get glimpses of his potential as a dramatic actor as well.

Fans of both Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis don’t need to be told to see this movie, as they most likely already have. As a fan of both actors, I’ve obviously seen the movie, and I really enjoyed it. The jokes in the movie hit my funny bone nearly every time, and I’m a major sucker for road trip movies. As of right now, Due Date is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year, and definitely a major crowd-pleaser, so I give it Four Shakesbeards out of 5.

Super-Sized* Reviews!

*These will just be regular reviews.

Today’s WEDNESDAY, and two HUGE books were released this week. Let’s get to ’em!

Batman and Robin #16 (SPOILERS!)
Well here we are, at the end of Grant Morrison’s long (and confusing) Bat-tale revolving around Dr. Hurt, traveling through time, Dick Grayson as Batman, and the omega beam, and guess what? Mr. Morrison actually has some answers for us fans who have been scratching our heads (or pretending not to) ever since Batman R.I.P.  wrapped two years ago.

Batman and Robin issue 16 is the final part of “Batman and Robin Must Die!”, as well as the final story in the series by Mr. Morrison. Bruce Wayne has returned to the present day (somehow, as The Return Of Bruce Wayne STILL hasn’t finished) and has joined with Dick Grayson and Damien to fight off Dr. Hurt, the 99 Fiends, and of course, Professor Pyg.  Morrison’s knack for crazy out of this world stories is out in full force here, but unlike his other recent work, this story is actually fairly easy to follow, despite the fact that every other Batman book is late.

We finally learn the truth of who Dr. Hurt/”Thomas Wayne” really is, as well as his connections to Darkseid.  Now that it’s been revealed, it was the most obvious person all along. His origin was fairly interesting, and this is coming from a Batman fan who prefers the Dark Knight to not meddle with too much hocus pocus. Hurt’s “battle” with the Joker was awesome, as was Mr. J’s short-lived decision to switch sides before being sucker-punched by Bruce Wayne, but it seemed like Morrison wanted to move on from it before we got anything from it. The Joker working “with” superheroes could have had a lot of potential, and unless Mr. J keeps this new outlook, it will probably be forgotten by his next appearance. We also get more Professor Pyg, which is never a bad thing.

Fraser Irving, Cameron Stewart, and Chris Burnham split up the art duties, and all do a commendable job. Unlike other books that have more than one artist, B&R 16 has each artist tackle a different “act” of the issue, and result is one that is far less jarring than recent books with more than one artist.

While this issue definitely gets my recommendation, I’m still not entirely sold on this upcoming “Batman, Inc” event because to be honest, it seems to me to go entirely AGAINST what Bruce Wayne’s personal quest is about. *SPOILER* Bruce revealing in a press conference with Dick and Damien behind him that he has been “financing” the Batman for the past several years is very strange, and you can’t honestly tell me that no one can connect the dots that a billionaire whose parents were murdered is actually Batman. At the very least, Grant Morrison has piqued my interest in the first issue of Batman, Inc., so I will try and give him the benefit of the doubt until I read it. Even if no one thinking to themselves “Hey, Bruce Wayne’s kid looks like he’s the same height as that new Robin that’s been running around”  is a bit of a stretch. Then again, no one STILL can connect that Clark Kent and Superman are the same guy……

Invincible #75

Invincible is Robert Kirkman’s OTHER awesome comic book. Unlike The Walking Dead, Invincible follows the adventures of Mark Grayson, a twenty-something superhero who protects earth as Invincible. Throughout the series, he has been betrayed by his father, Omni-man,  graduated high school, gone to college, joined the Guardians of the Globe, left the Guardians of the Globe, and got his girlfriend, fellow superhero Atom Eve, pregnant (but he doesn’t know that yet). The landmark issue 75 is the latest part in the “Viltrumite War” storyline, in which Mark joins with his redeemed father and younger brother to fight off the evil race that they belong to.

While its cover may lead you to believe that Invincible isn’t a particulary gory book, previous issues have out-gored most horror books. This issue is no exception. Kirkman’s story pulls no punches, and artist Ryan Ottley gives us the treat of SIX 2-page splash pages. Heads are ripped off, arms dismembered, and like Walking Dead, Kirkman has no problem with messing with seemingly untouchable characters. The space action in this issue rivals many current science-fiction movies, and makes me yearn for the day that we get an Invincible TV show/movie, which may be a reality after the stunning success of the “Walking Dead” premiere last Sunday. 

If you’ve been missing out on Invincible, I strongly suggest you go back and snag the first trade. Like Kirkman’s zombie epic, the tale of Mark Grayson is best experienced from the beginning, and once you start, you won’t be able to stop. Trade-waiters of this series are in for a big treat when this bad boy is released as a single bound edition.