Monthly Archives: October 2011

COMIC REVIEWS!! The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine & The X-Men #1!

COMIC REVIEWS!

The Incredible Hulk #1

Not to be outdone by DC, Marvel is also relaunching a few of their books.  Specifically the X-Titles and this, The Incredible Hulk. Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by legend Marc Silvestri, this relaunch finds the jade giant seperated from Bruce Banner, and living underground with the Moloids. Essentially his life has devolved into beating the crap out of monsters and delivering them to the Moloids, in exchange for living in peace. However, a lifetime of being hunted has made the Hulk extremely paranoid of the relative peace that surrounds him. And after an attack by Amanda Von Doom (“no relation” she says), he is proven right. Von Doom is looking to recruit Hulk in tracking down a dangerous man, who has his own connection to the Hulk. That man? Bruce Banner.

I’ve also been a casual Hulk fan, so in a lot of ways this book is tailor made for me.  The most recent Hulk stories I’ve read were the “Red Hulk” stories back in the early issues of Hulk, and while I enjoyed the sheer rediculousness of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness’ series, this is an entirely different beast. For starters, Hulk is now once again smart, something that I think is very strange, as it seems to flip flop depending on whatever the writer wants for the story. I also have no knowledge of whatever happened in the previous Incredible Hulk series, so again, I don’t know if this is a continuation of that or something entirely new. Jason Aaron’s script probably could have been a little more accessible to someone just picking it up because it’s a new number one, but at the same time, I wasn’t completely left in the dark, and the reveal at the end is pretty interesting. Marc Silvestri’s art is very cool, especially when the Hulk is taking down giant monsters. It’s suitably over the top, and from the looks of the next few issues, we’ll be getting a lot of Hulk vs. gamma irradiated monsters (next issue will be SHARKS!). 

Incredible Hulk #1 is a strange comic, as it’s both accessible AND inaccessible. However, it’s still an entertaining read, and I’m very intrigued by where this book will be going. For now I’m in. 

Wolverine & The X-Men #1

After the events of Schism, the X-Men are divided into two teams: one lead by Cyclops, and another by Wolverine. Different in both team members and ideologies, this will be the status quo of the X-Men (for now). Wolverine & The X-Men is the start of this “Regnesis” phase for the mutants, and this first issue is a very well done introduction issue. 
Again written by Jason Aaron, but this time drawn by Chris Bachalo, the issue finds Wolverine and Kitty Pryde giving the New York Department Of Education a tour of the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning. The Education board members are ready to close the school because of the danger it presents to the people around it. This is a great framing device for new readers, as it introduces all of the cast of the book, as well as give us the background info on just why and how Wolverine came to start up his own school. Wolverine & The X-Men was a welcome surprise, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.    

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Comic Reviews: The End of Fear Itself!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Fear Itself #7 (of 7)

Well, it’s over. The latest issue of Fear Itself is the last for Marvel’s mega-event of the summer.  But was it worth the time and money? I suppose that depends upon what you were expecting from the series. Sure, there are some new changes in the Marvel Universe now, but to be completely honest, many of the “epic” moments in this issue felt glossed over, and weren’t given the time they needed (or deserved).

The issue starts up with Iron Man arriving with his Asgardian weaponry, which is intended to help the heroes in their fight against Sin (Red Skull’s daughter) and The Serpent. After they are charged up, the heroes do battle with The Serpent’s army, and I’ll admit, the battle is pretty cool. Thor squares off against The Serpent, and Captain America faces down his new enemy, albeit with a little help from the God Of Thunder (I’ll avoid spoilers for you). Yes, the action is pretty cool, but it’s not enough. There are many moments in the issue that could have been their own single issues, and instead they’re regulated to splash pages or two page spreads. Plus, the big “surprise” of the issue was nothing that no one didn’t see coming, especially if they’ve been paying attention to the upcoming Marvel solicitations. Not to mention that a similar thing happened in 2004. Fraction’s script goes way too fast, cramming in too much in too little time. It’s almost like he stretched out the first half of the story line, took a breather for too many issues, then crammed everything into this one final issue. Stuart Immonen’s art is as stellar as always, but even that was hampered by the quickness that everything resolved itself.

So who’s to blame for the let down that was Fear Itself? TO be honest, it’s not writer Matt Fraction, who until now was a top writer for Marvel. I honestly think it’s Marvel’s fault. They hyped it up, and even went as far as saying that you wouldn’t have to read any of the multiple tie-ins that would be a part of the event. Well, guess what? You did. The multiple epilogues at the end of the issue discuss things that never happen in this issue, and there are characters that show up in this issue that we haven’t seen at all in the series. Plus, in order to get the full story of Iron Man going to Asgard, you’d have to read Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man series.

Fear Itself promised too much and never delivered, and it’s a shame really, because it ends the great streak that Marvel had with their event books. Let’s hope that when the next one rolls around they take a look at what went wrong with this one and fix it.

Justice League #2

The second issue of Geof Johns’ and Jim Lee’s Justice League has finally hit stands, and man, does it deliver. Picking up from last issue, Batman and Green Lantern confront Superman about the mysterious box that turned up in Gotham, and Supes ain’t in the mood to talk. In fact, this “New 52” Superman is more interested in attacking the two heroes, mistakingly believing them to be enemies because of the box. What follows is some gorgeous Jim Lee art of Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern battling, and more of Geof Johns’ great character work. There were moments in this issue that made me laugh out loud, especially the part where Green Lantern calls Batman a “tool”. We also get an appearance by The Flash, and the beginnings of the origin of Cyborg. Jim Lee and Geof Johns are icons of the comic industry, and Justice League is the prime example of why they are such a big deal. A must buy. 

Movie Review: Real Steel!

Real Steel (2011)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lily, Dakota Goyo, Kevin Durand
Directed By: Shawn Levy

Yes, the “Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots” movie. Seemingly the butt of everyone’s jokes since it’s first trailer was released, Real Steel is the Hugh Jackman robot-boxing movie that many think is a joke. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually a really good and effective film. Seriously! In many ways it’s kind of like a futuristic take on Rocky, in which an underdog comes out on top and goes farther than anyone ever believed he could. Also it has robots hitting each other in the head repeatedly. And Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman stars as Charlie, a former boxer who now tries to get by in the underground Robot Boxing world. With his glory days long behind him, Charlie is an unlikable loner, and the sleaziest character Jackman has ever played.  When he learns that his son Max’s (Dakota Goyo) mother has died, he doesn’t even want to take custody of him! However, Max’s Aunt and Uncle agree to take him, but Charlie must watch over the child for the summer, as they are going away on a vacation. Oh, and Charlie is paid $100,000 to do it as well.

The movie then becomes a strange mix of a road movie, a father/son relationship movie, Transformers, and even a little bit of the Stallone classic Over The Top. And it works. Really well. Charlie and Max find a scrapper robot named Atom that would never be able to fight, but with a little help from Charlie’s landlord/lady Bailey (Lily), the two get the bot into the fighting ring and start winning matches. And of course, Charlie starts to learn that he does actually care about his son.

Real Steel is a movie that shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s ridiculous, over the top, and very cheesy at times. But it all comes together so well that you wouldn’t even know it. The robot fighting scenes are shot so well that you start to get wrapped up in the fights as well. The last bout between Atom and Zeus, the robot Champion Of The Universe, had me on the edge of my seat, and I’ll admit, it was hard not to suppress a cheer whenever Atom was able to turn the fight in his favor. Director Shawn Levy (of Night At The Museum fame/infamy) does a commendable job here, and really set up the characters in a relatable way, even if their fates are boiled down to two robots beating the crap out of each other in a boxing ring. Real Steel won’t be winning any Academy Awards anytime soon, but it’s still a very solid trip to the multiplex, and a very pleasant surprise.

3 Robotic KO’s out of 4

Comic Reviews: Uncanny X-Force!

COMIC REVIEWS!

Uncanny X-Force #16

Ho. Lee. Shit. Uncanny X-Force issue 16 continues the unstoppably awesome run by Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. As the latest installment of the “Dark Angel Saga”, Uncanny X-Force gives us even more jaw-dropping moments and brutal violence than the previous few parts of the story.

The issue continues the story of the corruption of Warren Worthington, III,(aka Angel/Archangel) and his rise to become the heir to Apocalypse. With Wolverine incapacitated and Psylocke held prisoner by  Archangel, it falls on Deadpool and Fantomex to defeat Archangel’s new horsemen. And my god, does this book deliver. Remender keeps the action moving at a lightning pace, and his characterization of the different members is spot on, especially with Deadpool, a character whom many has considered to have outlasted his welcome in the Marvel Universe. This book is proof positive that Deadpool can still be a great character when written well, and if Remender was revealed to be the new writer of Deadpool’s solo series I would immediately pick it up again. Deadpool’s inner monologue where he regrets forgetting to feed his cat had me laughing uncontrollably, something that the Merc With A Mouth’s solo book has been able to get me to do in a long time.

Jerome Opena’s art is one fire with this issue as well. He is able to depict jaw droppingly gorgeous scenes one minute, and unspeakably brutal ones next. There was so much blood in this book that  Iwas amazed it was even published by Marvel. Wolverine’s return was not only right on time, but one of the coolest entrances the character has ever had. I particularly love his depiction of Archangel, a character that I have never liked until I started reading this book.

Uncanny X-Force is the BEST BOOK Marvel is publishing right now. It is leaps and bounds better than everything else they have out there. If you haven’t been reading this book there is something medically wrong with you.

Legion Of Monsters #1

Whoa, talk about a pleasant surprise. As a fan of Marvel’s monsters, I picked up Legion Of Monsters ready to read it and feel let down. However, Dennis Hopeless’ first of a four issue miniseries is a hell of a lot of fun, and Juan Doe’s art has a very light and kinetic feel to it. The story follows Elsa Bloodstone as she hunts down the Legion Of Monsters. Believing that they are responsible for the mysterious set of murders, Elsa tracks them to their underground lair, which houses members Morbius, Manphibian, Werewolf By Night, and The Living Mummy. After finding out that they are actually hunting monsters, they are soon attacked by a monster that is captured by the Legion, and then the fun begins. While there may not have been a whole lot that happened in this issue, this was still a super fun set-up issue, and I highly recommend to people who are looking for something a little different in their funny book reading. 

Videogame Review: "Spider-man: Edge Of Time"

Videogame Review: Spider-man: Edge Of Time
Available on: X-Box 360, Playstation 3, Wii
As a life-long fan of Marvel’s wall-crawler, I have played nearly every single Spider-man videogame since I could hold a controller. From Spider-man on the Sega Genesis to Friend or Foe on X Box 360, I’ve played the all (with the exception of the Sega CD game). As such, I look forward to each new videogame adventure, but something was different about Edge Of Time. It seemed like I hadn’t heard anything about the game for quite some time, and to be honest, I didn’t even know the game was coming out until I saw a commercial for X-Men: Destiny that mentioned this game as well. Needless to say, my spider-sense was tingling as I put the game into my 360.
Spider-man: Edge Of Time was developed by Beenox, the same game designer team that created last year’s Shattered Dimensions, a surprisingly fun (if repetitive) game that showcased The Amazing Spider-man and his three other alternate reality counterparts: Ultimate Spider-man, Noir Spider-man, and the Spider-man from 2099. For this follow-up, the only non-Amazing Spidey is Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-man of 2099, and while there are some cool moments between the two Spider-men, the game is much, much weaker when compared to the previous game.
Anti-Venom: One of Three(?) Villains In The Game
Edge Of Time begins when Warren Sloane, a mad scientist from the future who alters the past (and Anti-Venom) and kills Spider-man. This causes a major rift in not only O’Hara’s time, but Peter Parker’s as well. Gone is the Daily Bugle; in its place is Alchemax, the company from the year 2099. Somehow killing Peter Parker allows the company to exist in the modern day, and one of its star employees is none other than Parker himself. 2099 Spidey is able to converse with Parker, and the two begin to fix both of their time periods, NEVER LEAVING THE ALCHEMAX BUILDING. This game play choice may not seem too big of deal at first, but when seemingly every Spider-man game that has appeared on the current-gen consoles (and past gen ones) has been open-world. You were able to swing wherever you wanted to. Locked doors that required passkeys didn’t hold you back, or weird vent systems that make the camera go nuts, or drab, boring white hallways that seem to stretch on forever.
You also weren’t stuck battling endless robot drones. Of course, the enemies in the previous games weren’t all that different from one another, but holy crap. The enemies in Edge Of Time include a thug with electric fists, thug with sniper rifle and jetpack, and big thug that looks like a reject from Arkham Asylum. Oh, I forgot about the alien mutant things that attack you for one level. Yep, that’s the only amount of variety in the enemies in this game.
Since When Could Spidey Do THIS With His Webbing?
Not only are the enemies and locations boring in EoT, the combat is insanely tedious as well. You have the two heavy and light attacks, and the ability to shoot webs at the robot/thug clones, which does absolutely NOTHING. Seriously Beenox, why would you put that in the game if it doesn’t add anything to the combat? Hitting the left trigger will allow Spider-man to either enter his “spider-speed” mode (for Amazing), or produce a decoy to confuse enemies (2099).  However, that’s it and that’s all when it comes to combat. You can upgrade your abilities, but to be completely honest I didn’t notice a difference between the Spider-men at the beginning of the game and the ones at the end.
Spider-Man 2099: Stealing Girlfriends since 1992
It’s a real shame that Edge Of Time is such a disappointment, as the story is actually halfway decent. Despite the fact that the only villains in the game are Anti-Venom, Black Cat 2099, and Walker Sloane,voiced by Val Kilmer (how the mighty have fallen). Doctor Octopus also has a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo.  There is a pretty cool twist halfway through the game, but by that point it’s too little, too late.  After the surprisingly fun Shattered Dimensions last year, I think it’s safe to say that we Spidey fans were expecting another fun, or at least competent, game. Unfortunately what we got is little more than a downloadable add-on packaged as a full-length game. Unless it’s super cheap on Black Friday, even the most die-hard Spider-man fans should avoid this one. 
Final Verdict: 5 Spider-webs out of 10 

Movie Review: 50/50

Movie Review! 

50/50
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

50/50 is a film that takes a hilarious and heartbreaking look at cancer. Levitt stars as Adam, a 27 year old who works at the Seattle NPR station. Everything seems to be looking up for him, except for the day when he is told that he has a cancerous tumor growing in his spine. Along with his best friend Kyle (played by Rogen), Adam begins the long road to recover, and must face the fact that he only has a 50% chance of surviving his battle.

Joseph Cordon-Levitt is fantastic in the film, and really showcases his range in the film, as Adam at first is optimistic, yet slowly becomes more and more angry and depressed as the film goes on. Rogen walks the line between being a dick and being hilarious, and I honestly think this is one of his best roles. His character is extremely supportive of Adam in his own way, and the scene in which he confronts Adam and his girlfriend Rachel (Howard) about her cheating is fantastic and hilarious. Yes, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character CHEATS on Adam, who has cancer. Pretty low. Pretty, pretty low.

Anna Kendrick plays Katherine, a doctorate student who is Adam’s psychologist. As Adam’s treatment continues, the two slowly develop a relationship that is very sweet, and you really start to root for the couple towards the end of the film. Of course, Adam’s condition worsens as the film progresses too, and the emotional weight of Adam’s disease is really felt by the viewer.

Director Jonathan Levine has taken writer Will Reiser’s true tale of his survival of cancer and made the unthinkable: a sweet and heartwarming movie about cancer. This is a fantastic film that boasts many great performances by the cast. 50/50 will take you on the emotional roller coaster ride of the year, and is well worth your time.

3 1/2 Seth Rogen chuckles out of 4

Comic Reviews: Luther Strode! Superior! The Walking Dead!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!
 This week we’re taking a break from Marvel and DC. Instead, here’s some indie reviews.

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1 (of 6)

Image’s latest mini series is The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and my god is it VIOLENT. Written by Justin Jordan and drawn by Tradd Moore, Luther Strode tells the story of your average nerdy teen, who, after taking part in an “Atlas” type fitness routine, is granted superpowers.

The first issue opens with Strode BRUTALLY killing a group of lowlifes, and I mean every captalized letter of what I just wrote. Seriously this is one of the goriest comics I’ve ever read in my life, and I loved every minute of it. Moore’s vaguely cartoonish style is a great contrast to the violence, and in a lot of ways he reminded me of Invincible artist Ryan Ottley. My jaw fell open more times than once reading this book, and Moore is now definitely on my watch list.  Justin Jordan’s script is great as well, as it taps into the feeling that everyone has about wanting to be more powerful than you are. Jordan goes to great lengths to make us sympathize with Luther, and he takes a fantastic job, all in one issue!

Seeing as how I picked up Luther Strode on a whim, I wasn’t expecting anything from the book at all. Thankfully I really enjoyed this book, and I cannot wait for the next issue. If you’re looking for something new and different to spice up your pull list, The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode is the perfect book. Just be warned, it’s super violent. More violent than even Kick-Ass 2 (yep, I said it.).

Superior #5 (0f 6)

Mark Millar is definitely making up for lost time. Like a student who hasn’t done any homework who suddenly realizes how bad his grades are, Millar has been cranking out issues for both Kick-Ass 2 and Superior. Both books have been extremely late, but Superior, drawn by Leinil Yu, definitely beats KA 2 in the tardy department. This issue finally delivers on the promise of last issue, with Superior traveling to Afghanistan, and man, does it kick ass. Superior dismantles the Taliban and helps rebuild not only Afghanistan, but the entire world in a few days. He delivers food to Africa, helps stave off a flood in Australia, and even saves the world from a meteor attack. Millar definitely brings it in this issue, and Yu’s art captured Superior’s efforts perfectly. Luckily we don’t have to wait too long for the final issue, as Millar and Yu definitely leave you hanging. As for this issue, it was totally worth the wait.

The Walking Dead #89

SERIOUSLY. Read this series. 

Movie Review: Drive

Drive (2011)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman
Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down; I don’t carry a gun… I drive. 

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Drive, the latest feature from Bronson director Nicolas Winding Refn, and I’m here to tell you one thing about the film: believe it. Drive is hands down one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, with awesome cinematography, crazy car chases, and an incredible cast that will hopefully be recognized come Oscar season.

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a young man who is a stunt driver by day and getaway driver for hire by night. We know nothing about him, other than the fact that he is a loner. In fact, we never hear his real name. Instead he simply known as “the Driver”. Driver goes through his regular routine of stunt work (both at night and during the day), until he starts to get to know his neighbor Irene (played by Carey Mulligan) and her son Benecio. He begins to develop a very sweet relationship with the two of them, until Irene’s husband is released from prison. That’s when Drive, an already stellar film, kicks it into overdrive.

Irene’s husband Standard (played by Oscar Isaac), owes some people some money. Some very BAD people money. When Driver learns that these people intend to go after Irene and Benecio, he agrees to be Standard’s getaway driver, under the condition that Irene and Benecio are left alone after the robbery. Of course, things go wrong, and then Driver is dropped into a very seedy and very, very, violent world, which pushes him to his very limits.

As always, Ryan Gosling is astounding. He’s convincing and incredibly badass in the action scenes, but it’s his quiet moments at the beginning of the film with Mulligan where he really shines. You can tell how strong his feelings are for Irene even though he is a man of (very) few words. If he is not at least given a nomination come Oscars I will be livid. The same goes for Bryan Cranston, who is extremely moving as Shannon, the sad sack auto shop owner who not only gives Driver a job at the shop, but also sets up his stunt work. As a recent viewer of Breaking Bad (just started the second season), I was very excited to see Cranston in this, and he did not disappoint.  Mulligan is also heartbreaking as well. When you add Albert Brooks as a terrifying gangster and Ron Perlman as his partner (not to mention a small role for Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks) you get a cast that is absolutely dynamite.

I loved Refn’s Bronson (which starred the incredible Tom Hardy), and when I heard that he had directed Drive, it was instantly on my radar. If Refn can continue on the road he’s on, he will be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Drive is an incredible film. Everything about it works, from the locations to the awesome synth pop soundtrack. It’s like a lost 80’s crime flick that has been released to the world today, and it is one of the best films of the year. This is a movie that deserves a bigger box office.
Four Getaway Cars out of Four