Monthly Archives: September 2011

Comic Reviews: The Final week of the New DCU!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

Aquaman #1

Yes, Aquaman. The Defender of the Coasts is back in his own monthly title as part of the New 52, and it’s good. Really, really good.

A lot of this is thanks to the creative team of Geof Johns and Ivan Reis, who craft a very funny and cool take on the Aquaman, and the fact that he’s basically the bottom of the barrel when it comes to superheroes.  Johns has created some awesome character moments here, and I love how Aquaman interacts with the civilians around him, all of whom essentially mock him to his face. At the same time we get hints to a new species of terrifying sea creatures, whom seem hungry for blood.  Arthur Curry is the underdog of our story, and it’s the moments where he’s trying to explain his telepathic control over sea life to a blogger that really show that Curry is starting to get tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes.

Ivan Reis’ art is phenomenal in this issue. The opening in which Aquaman takes out some bank robbers (in Boston, no less) was really well done, and Reis makes Aquaman look like a member of royalty, which is a great contrast to his surroundings, especially when he stops in at a local fish restaurant. His design for the new monstrosities that Aquaman will be facing are wicked cool as well, and I can’t wait to see him throw down with them. A cross between The Creature From The Black Lagoon and Moray Eels, these beings, called “The Trench” have a great visual look.

Aquaman sets the stage for what I hope will be a really interesting take on a character that I honestly believe could be awesome if done correctly. Judging by this first issue, I think we’re in safe hands here. Between Johns’ awesome (and funny) script to Reis’ art, this is one of the top books of the new DCU, which is not something I would have thought three years ago.  This is a definite must buy. Seriously.

New Avengers #16.1

Yes, the “.1 initiative” at Marvel is STILL going on. However, this one sets the stage for the big story for this year’s run of New Avengers issues: the return of Norman Osborn. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, and with art by the legendary Neal Adams, this stand alone issue has the New Avengers attempt to secure the transport of Norman Osborn to a new prison, and it does not go smoothly. Bendis’ knack for dialogue is still here, even if all of the characters kind of sound the same, and he creates a really awesome way for Osborn to gain his freedom. Unfortunately it seems like the years have not been kind to Neal Adams, as his art is simply not up to par with his stellar work from the 1970s on titles like Batman and Green Arrow. It’s a shame too, because the issue’s story was pretty cool.  Oh well. 

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Plugged In: Gears Of War 3 Review!

Gears Of War 3 (Rated M)
Available on:  X-Box 360
  
This fall sees the release of nearly every single major videogame of the year. Epic and Microsoft Studios’ Gears Of War 3 gets the ball rolling, coming out in advance of other high-profile releases like Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3, and of course, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. 
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The real reason you’re reading is to find out if Gears Of War 3 is any good. Well, I can tell you that it is, at least in my opinion. It has all of the familiar aspects of the previous two games, but with enough new weapons, creatures, and level elements to keep it from feeling like a retread of the previous games. The story picks up a little over a year after the events of the second game, in which Marcus Fenix and his squad mates (the “Gears”) had to flood the human city of Jacinto to stop the Locust creatures and the Lambent, infected locusts that are basically glowing zombies. Since then, the humans have been trying to rebuild on a small island, all the while trying to fight off the Lambent creatures and remaining Locusts.
The game begins with a pretty awesome set piece onboard an oil tanker, in which Marcus and his crew must fight off a Lambent attack. The action starts off quick and doesn’t let up for quite awhile. It’s in these over the top action moments that GoW 3 really shines, the game developers really seem to enjoy thinking of crazy things for you to not only fight, but ways to destroy them as well. The controls are very responsive, and feel much like the ones from the previous games.  The new weapons available to you are very cool as well, even if the Retro Lancer is a little strange to use (instead of the chainsaw attachment it has a single blade).
These glowy guys (The Lambent) go BOOM when you kill them.
You may be wondering how I was able to review this so quickly, especially if the game came out only this past week. Well, unfortunately this brings me to my only real negative about the game: the campaign length.  I bought the game on the day it came out, and a week later I had beaten the solo player mode. This was without a major all-day gaming session or anything. Make no mistakes, the game is SHORT, but now that I think about it, all of the games in the Gears Of War series have been pretty short. The story isn’t that much to write home about either. Sure, it’s got a great sense of finality to it, which is a welcome relief in the never-ending cycle of videogame franchises (I’m looking at you Halo and Call Of Duty), but a lot of the moments kind of fall flat. There’s one major character death that in my opinion wasn’t as powerful as it should have been, but then again, the Gears series was never known for its amazing narrative. In fact, one could argue that the real star of the series is the multiplayer, which is just as good here as it was in the previous games.
The multiplayer in GoW 3 contains the usual death match, but it also includes “Horde Mode”, in which you and a squad of others must fortify an area and defend it from wave after wave of Locust monsters. The action is intense in this mode, with you scrambling to keep up with the monstrosities that are destroying the base you just spent time carefully preparing.  There’s a great deal of customization in the multiplayer as well, from the different characters you can play as to the skins that you can put on your weapons. Currently I’m playing as the Locust Queen, a character that I never thought would be available as a playable character in the series. Its surprises like this that make Gears Of War 3 a worthy purchase. 
Did I mention this is an “M” rated game?
While the story and campaign in Gears Of War 3 might be a little disappointing, the game is still a must purchase for fans of the series and online multiplayer.  The action is fun and fast, and I had forgotten how brutal the deaths are in the series. Plus, the Torque Bow is quite possibly my favorite weapon in any game ever. Hearing that ping! sound hit an enemy in the middle of a firefight is one of the coolest things in games, especially when the arrow explodes and takes out another two enemies around them. Gears Of War 3 has started the 2011 Fall video game bloodbath, and if it’s any indication of the games to come, it’s going to be a great Autumn for gamers.  
Final Verdict: 9 “Revive Me!”‘s out of 10

Comic Reviews: THe New DC!!! BATMAN #1!!!

Wondering where I was last week? I was with 60 6th graders at Camp Merrowvista. It was about as exhausting as it sounds. But anyways…..

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!!

Batman #1

It probably goes without saying that my most anticipated title in the DC relaunch was Batman. The fact that Scott Snyder would be scripting the series made it a must-buy, but when DC announced that former Spawn artist Greg Capullo would be on the book as well, it was icing on an already phenomenal cake. This is the book that I will be pushing on all of my friends, whether they like Batman or not.

As expected, I loved this issue. A lot. Snyder starts off the issue with a bang, as Batman (now Bruce Wayne) stops a riot at Arkham. This opening is a great intro to new readers to some of Batman’s rogues, both old and new, and it was quite the treat seeing who pops up in these opening pages. Oh, also Batman teams up with The Joker (!!!) to help quell the rioters. Of course, not all is quite as it seems when it comes to that.

We then switch gears to the Batcave, where Bruce is working on a new gadget, while guests are arriving to his home. It’s basically a computer that acts as a contact lens, but it serves as a great way to introduce us to the myriad of background characters that are attending Bruce’s party. It also gives us the lowdown on the “Robin internship” system, basically giving us an idea as to the ages of Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damien (for those keeping track, Dick has been de-aged to probably about 23, Tim to about 17, and Damien’s still ten). 

At Bruce’s party, he reveals his new plan to redesign Gotham, and after a stirring speech that pretty much insures investments from all of his guests, we meet Vicki Vale and her date, Lincoln March, a front-runner for Gotham Mayor. While talking with March, Bruce spots Commissioner Gordon on the phone, and in classic Batman style eavesdrops on him and then makes a bolt for the crime scene, in which a grisly stabbing has taken place. Bats sends Alfred the DNA tissue of the supposed killer, leaving us with quite the cliffhanger.

This issue once again proves that Scott Snyder is a master of comics. His pacing in this issue is phenomal, and he provides us with a book that is not only new reader friendly, but will also please long time Bat fans. Snyder’s characterizations are spot effing on, and I love his handle on Bruce’s interactions with Gordon and Harvey Bullock. It also captures a lot of the things Batman fans are used to in the movies, which just adds to the accessibility for people who have never read a Batman comic, but love the movies. Capullo’s art is perfect for this book as well. It obviously has a similar style to Todd McFarlane, but it also reminds me a little of Scott McDaniel’s work as well. His bold character work is very energetic, and his action scenes really flow. Batman #1 strikes that amazing balance of being new reader friendly and pleasing to long time fans, and is the highlight of the new DC books so far. If you are a fan of the Batman in movies and video games, then this book is for you. Seriously, buy it. Buy two.

Invincible Iron Man #508

One of the biggest concerns of events and tie-in issues is “filler”. You know, issues that don’t really do anything to further the storyline, but are released just so something is on the shelves. With this most recent issue of  Invincible Iron Man, we have the definition of “filler”. Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s usual awesomeness that is IIM has come to a screeching halt every since the words “Fear” and “Itself” were slapped on the cover, and it’s a real shame, because at one time, this was one of Marvel’s top books. I think maybe two things happened in this issue that really move the plot forward, but if you haven’t been following Fear Itself (which you don’t have to cause I’ve been suffering for you) then you will have NO IDEA what any of this means. The last two issues were fun because we felt the weight of Tony’s sacrifice to Odin. Here we get about 22 pages where nothing really happens. Such is the case where your main character is one of the focuses of an event book. Hopefully this picks back up when Fear Itself is over.

Wonder Woman #1

Yes, that’s right. Wonder Woman. I picked it up cause why not? This is the new DC, and I’ve never read a Wonder Woman book. And you know what? It was awesome. Brian Azzarello has presented a really cool take on the Amazon warrior, and it’s one that fuses her Greek Mythology background with aspects of horror. Also, this book is super violent. It’s almost like DC wanted to do a Vertigo spin on Wonder Woman, and my god. I am super impressed with this. Cliff Chiang’s art is a little strange at first, but by the end of the issue I was hooked. Definitely picking this up for the considerable time being.   

Comic Reviews: NEW DC Round Up! Action Comics, Batgirl, and Detective Comics!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

In honor of the new DC universe, here’s three quick reviews of some of the titles available TODAY!

Action Comics #1

I have a very love/hate relationship with Grant Morrison. I love it when he does straight up superhero action, like Justice League Of America, New X-Men, and his Batman run (until post R.I.P.), but I hate it when he tries to get all psychedelic on us, like Final Crisis and Return of Bruce Wayne. Thankfully his first issue of Action Comics fits perfectly with the former titles mentioned. Teaming with artist Rags Morales, Action shows us the early days of the world’s first superhero, and my has he changed. Clark Kent is a young, brash individual who does not think before he acts, which is an interesting angle on the blue boy scout routine that we’re used to. The young Superman clearly has issues with the fact that our justice system doesn’t treat people equally, an idea apparent from the opening of the this issue.  THis is the people’s Superman, fighting for the underdogs and the everymans. He’s even wearing jeans and working boots.

Don’t let his wardrobe throw you off though. This is a great re-interpretation of a classic character. Morrison does an extremely effective job of setting everything up without bogging you down with too much unnecessary information. The man also writes the hell out of Lex Luthor, who is working with the government to try and bring Superman in. His speech comparing Superman to non-native animals being introduced to new environments for example is spectacular. Compare this with the jaw-dropping art by Rags Morales, and we have the start of what could possibly become one of the best Superman tales of all time, rivaling that of John Byrne’s Man Of Steel relaunch and Morrison’s own All-Star Superman.

Batgirl #1

Of all of the new 52 titles, Batgirl was one of them I was most excited for. I was also extremely hesitant about it, what with the paralyzed Barbara Gordon suddenly being able to walk again. However, when I learned the great Gail Simone was on the book, a lot of my fears were put to rest. Simone is one of the best writers in the biz in my opinion, and it’s because of her obvious love for the character that the book works so well.

Like Action Comics, Simone tells you just enough in Batgirl to fill you in, but also keep you interested. She doesn’t tell us how Barbara can suddenly walk, a mystery that will thankfully keep the plot going and be revealed as the title goes forward. A mysterious new villain named The Mirror is murdering people from a list, and Barbara is next on his list. Ardian Syaf handles the art duties here, and it is the icing on the cake of an already fantastic book. Batgirl more than met my expectations, it exceeded them, and I cannot wait for the next issue.

Detective Comics #1

Holy crap, Tony S. Daniels stepped up his game BIG TIME with the relaunch of Detective Comics. As both writer and artist of the pre-relaunch Batman (starring Dick Grayson), Daniels was always in the “good, but not great” category for me. His art grew on me, but he clearly wasn’t as strong a writer as he was an artist. But something changed here. What starts as a standard “Batman chasing the Joker” story takes a COMPLETE left turn at the end, with a truly shocking moment that had my jaw almost hit the floor. Daniels deserves all of the credit here for a great story and art, and definitely surprised me. Now the heat is on Scott Snyder to deliver with Batman.


VERDICT:
All three of these DC relaunch titles are great in their own ways. If you’re looking to get in the game, be sure to check out your local LCS and see what they’ve got. There is seriously something for everyone, but these three are easily accessible books that start off this relaunch on the right foot. I cannot recommend these enough!