Monthly Archives: July 2013

Movie Review: The Wolverine!

imagesThe Wolverine (2013)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova

Directed by: James Mangold

From the moment 2000’s X-Men was released in theaters, all my thirteen-year-old mind wanted was to see Wolverine fight some ninjas. Well, 13 years later I got my wish, and while The Wolverine has some minor problems, it can easily be placed in the “good” pile of X-Men films (of which there are very few to pick from).

Picking up after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine finds Logan (Hugh Jackman) living in the woods of the great white north.  Haunted by visions of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), he’s made a vow to never pop his claws against another person again. Of course, that vow lasts all of about 5 minutes when he comes across a hunter whose poisoned arrow caused a bear to mutilate a bunch of innocent hunters. Luckily for the aforementioned hunter, Logan is stopped by Yukio (played by Rila Fukushima in her first movie role), who’s employer Yashida encountered Logan in Japan during World War 2. Logan saved his life during a bombing raid, and now on his deathbed, Yashida wants to make Logan an offer: cure Logan of his healing factor, and allow him to die as an old man. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned, and Logan gets involved in a grand plot that has him protecting Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko from the Yakuza, while also trying to solve the mystery of why his healing factor isn’t working.

One of the main reasons why The Wolverine works is that it really is a standalone movie. There’s really no need at all to watch any of the previous X-Men films to understand what’s happening in The Wolverine, and there’s thankfully not a single shoehorned mutant to be found. Even though Jean Grey makes frequent appearances in dreams, the filmmakers do a really good job of getting the main point across of why she is haunting Logan.

Placing Logan in Japan makes for a great setting, and the cultural backdrop of Japan really plays into the whole “lone warrior” aspect of Wolverine.  There are a lot of references to the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine mini series that this movie is based off of in the movie, and director James Mangold has a lot of fun setting up some great action sequences in different locations. Mangold is a director with a very diverse set of genres under his belt, with films like Walk The Line and 3:10 To Yuma, and seeing him pull off some great action scenes in The Wolverine is a welcome surprise. Those who would be worried that they’ll just get the same fights but in different locations like in X-Men Origins will be happy to hear that that’s not the case this time around.

The cast for The Wolverine is another surprise as well. Hugh Jackman delivers as always, but I was extremely impressed with not only Fukushima, but Tao Okamoto’s performance as Mariko as well. As someone who’s not only read the original Wolverine storyline that this film is based on but who’s seen the cartoon adaptation, I felt she did a great job, especially since like Fukushima, this was her first big screen role as well.  Rounding out the cast is Svetlana Khodchenova as the evil mutant Viper, and Hiroyuki Sanada as Shingen, who has an awesome battle with Wolverine.

Probably my only real complaints with The Wolverine come from the film’s third act, which kind of stumbles. The final battle is a little lackluster (especially when you compare it to the fight scenes we’ve seen previously), and the reveal at the end might leave some longtime fans of the character yelling yet again that Fox can’t seem to properly adapt storylines and characters on the big screen.  I felt there also could’ve been a better explanation behind the “how” of Viper’s master plan. I’ve also had a longtime problem with the X-Men movie franchise putting so much focus on the Jean Grey and Wolverine relationship, especially when that relationship was very much one sided in the comics.  However, I’ve come to deal with it, as I can see why it was done from a movie-making standpoint (which boils down to: love triangles sell).

Despite these minor problems, I can safely say that The Wolverine returns the character from the crap pile he was in after X-Men Origins.  The fight scenes are extremely awesome, with the sequence on the high-speed trains being the highlight. The film is surprisingly violent for a PG-13 film, so those of you thinking of bringing younger X-fans might want to think twice before carting them out to the cinemas. As it stands right now, The Wolverine is easily in my top 3 X-Men films, and is one of the top comic book films of the summer.


4 “SNIKTS!” out of 5

ALSO: You better believe that there’s an after credits sequence, and it rules so hard that I may go back and see it again just to see it again.

Comic Reviews: The Rocketeer/Spirit and Superior Spider-Man Team-Up!

Comic Reviews!! 

rocketeerspirit11The Rocketeer/ Spirit: Pulp Friction #1 (of 4)

IDW’s Rocketeer books continue this month, but with a twist: this mini series features Cliff Secord’s first ever intercompany crossover, teaming him with DC Comics’ The Spirit.  Pairing these two pulp heroes together is a no brainer, and when it’s written by the incredible Mark Waid, it becomes a must buy.

Waid wastes no time getting the story going. A mysterious death has brought The Spirit and his allies to Los Angeles, and Cliff’s girlfriend Betty, who discovered the body on the beach during a photo shoot, is one of the key witnesses. When Peevy overhears The Spirit mention Betty’s name, he races over to tell Cliff, who naturally grabs his gear and takes the fight to him.

One of the key things that makes this first issue work is its simplicity. Like I said before, there isn’t a lot of time spent catching us up on the Rocketeer or the Spirit. Waid simply comes up with a reason for them to cross paths and has fun putting them together. At no point does this team-up seem forced or a cash grab, and many of Waid’s choices (like having The Spirit’s plane land in Peevy’s airport) make it seem like The Spirit and The Rocketeer have been living in the same shared universe since when they were first created.

Artist Paul Smith’s style is in line with the previous Rocketeer IDW artists. I really appreciate that IDW has created a unique “retro” style for the Rocketeer, from Chris Samnee, to J. Bone, to now Paul Smith.  Much like Waid’s script really sells the idea that The Spirit and The Rocketeer have been in the same world for decades, Smith’s style makes sure that they both fit together stylistically as well. At no point does it appear that The Spirit is being re-designed to fit into The Rocketeer’s style, and vice versa.

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction is an excellent team-up comic that reminds me of the DC/Marvel team-ups of my youth.  Watching these two characters play off one another is really fun, and even if you aren’t familiar with the characters you can still enjoy it. I have a very basic knowledge of The Spirit, but had no trouble figuring out who he is and what he represents to the people around him.  I can’t wait for the next issue, and who knows, maybe this will lead to a Rocketeer Meets Captain America comic…



Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #12964760-superiorspidermanteamup_1_cover

 Avenging Spider-Man is dead. Long live Superior Spider-Man Team-Up!

Yes, Otto Octavius is getting yet another title, but you shouldn’t be too discouraged that he’ll start to become overexposed.  In many ways, Superior Team-Up is more a continuation of the previous series than a brand new start, as writer Chris Yost keeps the same back-story he was seeding in Avenging Spider-man. While I think this is great, as I’m extremely intrigued with Otto’s plan for his former Sinister Six team mates, it would be extremely confusing for those picking this issue up because it’s a new “#1”.  However, those picking this up because they were following Avenging will likely be turned off because of the pages spent filling in the potential new reader. It’s an unfortunate place for this book to be in, as Yost’s plot is a fun done-in-one that really plays on your expectations of Otto inhabiting Spider-Man’s body.

The art by David Lopez is great. Lopez is another carry over from Avenging Spider-man, and it’s nice to see him get to continue working on this character.  For the most part his action scenes and characters look great, but there is a strange bit in the middle where some faces look a little weird.

As fun as Superior Spider-Man Team-Up ‘s first issue is, I can’t say I would’ve enjoyed it if I hadn’t been following Avenging Spider-Man before it. In a lot of ways, Marvel should’ve just kept this as Avenging instead of renumbering, but then again, the 23rd issue of a series doesn’t sell quite as well as the 1st issue of a series.

Video Game Review: Deadpool: The Game


Deadpool: The Game

Rating: M

Consoles: PS3, X-Box 360

Everyone’s favorite Merc With A Mouth has made the jump to game consoles! Designed by Transformers: War for Cybertron developer High Moon Studios, Deadpool is a definite must-play for fans of the character, but regular action game fans might find much to be desired from it.

One of the strengths of Deadpool is the sense of tone. High Moon Studios’ team really understands what makes Wade Wilson a hit with his fans, and his manic personality is adapted perfectly for the video game world. Constantly breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool mocks the player, yells at them for not doing a combo attack, and even makes fun of the level designs in his game (my personal favorite was his reaction to a seemingly never ending wave of enemies-“Okay, he MUST be done no-OH MY GOD REALLY?”).  Just like Deadpool knows when he’s in a comic book, he now knows that he’s in a game, and the results are really hilarious.  From literally walking into an 8-bit video game to having to battle a “fan that won a contest to appear in the game”, Deadpool continually surprises you at nearly every moment, and encourages you to keep plowing your way through enemies, even when it starts to get boring.

Deadpool plays a lot like hack n slash games like Devil May Cry and God Of War. There are the standard light and heavy attacks, as well as a single button counter button that works exactly like it does in the Batman Arkham games. While the combat is fluid, I did find that sometimes when I hit the button when I was told to Wade decided to not perform the counter move.  Katanas, Sais, and two giant hammers make up your three different melee weapons, but unfortunately there’s no way to switch them mid combat. However, the special moves for all of these (which can be bought with “Deadpool points”) are really powerful and fun to pull off, especially after Deadpool has yelled at you a few times to use them.

The plot of the game has Deadpool going after Mr. Sinister, who just recently stole one of Deadpool’s contract hits out from imagesunder him. This leads him to cross paths with a select few X-Men (namely Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke, and Domino), and Cable. Whenever one of these characters appears, a notice appears on screen to give you some back-story on the character. This of course opens up a quick history of the character, but from Deadpool’s point of view, which makes for some really funny  (and surprisingly factual) insight into some of the people who populate Deadpool’s world (whether they choose to be near him or not).

Despite being a pretty entertaining experience, there are some things that hold Deadpool back from being truly great. As I mentioned before, the combat can get really repetitive fast, and at times got extremely frustrating. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by enemies, and if one of them has the armor ability that shields everyone around them, you should probably just restart to the nearest checkpoint. The game’s narrative is also extremely short, tapping out at about 6 hours. Add to the fact that there’s no multiplayer, and you have a game that people will most likely blast through and immediately trade in. There are some challenge modes for players that are completists, but I would’ve rather seen some other extras like alternate costumes or a death match arena where players can battle each other online as their own customizable Deadpools (which would be set inside Deadpool’s mind, of course).

Even though there are some things that keep it from being a truly must buy game, Deadpool is still an entertaining game that will please fans of the Merc With A Mouth.  The game wears its “M” rating as a badge of honor, and unlike the Marvel Comics, Deadpool is completely uncensored in this game, which people should be aware of before playing.  High Moon Studios has done a great job with the Deadpool license, I just wish there was a little more to the game to justify me paying full price for it.

Final Verdict: B

Comic Reviews: Batman ’66 and All-New X-Men!


imagesBatman ’66 #1

 One of my earliest memories of being a young nerd was watching the Adam West Batman reruns with my father. Sure, this incarnation of the Dark Knight is shunned by a large majority of the fan base, but to my four-year-old self, Adam West and Burt Ward’s adventures as the Dynamic Duo were as real as anything else. I wore out the tape of movie, and waited with baited breath for the next installment of each adventure. I’ve always had a weird soft spot for the Adam West TV series, so when I heard that DC would be publishing a series that continued the same universe I was thrilled.

Batman ’66, by Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case, isn’t making fun of the old show. Instead of mocking the goofier aspects of the show (like the bat pole and Aunt Harriet), it embraces it, which allows for even more humor to flow. In Batman ’66, a typical day involves the Riddler attacking the “Lady Gotham” festival in a biplane, and Batman and Robin don’t wait until nightfall to fight crime.

Writer Jeff Parker absolutely nails the tone of the show. Batman’s dialogue, the story cliffhangers, and even the classic window cameos are all here, and they feel like they could’ve been in an episode. There were moments where I could hear Adam West reciting the dialog, and the appearance of Riddler and Catwoman was more than enough to justify my $4 purchase.

Speaking of appearances, Jonathan Case’s art perfectly captures the inherent goofiness of the material. Characters both look like their real-life counterparts, but at the same time have a cartoonish quality that makes them look extremely unique. Case’s Riddler is a prime example of this, looking like Frank Gorshin stopped by a caricature booth at the local fair in costume.  There were some action scenes that could’ve used a little more polish, but by and large Case’s art more than does the job.

I completely understand why many Bat-fans want to wipe the 1960’s TV show under the rug and pretend it never existed. But one of the strengths of Batman as a character is his flexibility. Batman can be seen through multiple prisms, and those who give this book a chance might find themselves won over by its charm.  I for one loved it, and will definitely seek out the next one.




All-New X-Men #14images (1)

The X-Men of the past battle Mystique in yet another fantastic issue of All-New X-Men. Brian Michael Bendis continues to weave an interesting tale, even if there isn’t a whole lot moving the plot forward.

Picking up on last issue’s cliffhanger (which is quickly done away with in a cool twist), the original X-Men, alongside Wolverine’s faculty, do battle with Mystique and her new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Actually, to call this a “battle” isn’t entirely true, as the two X-Teams lay waste to Mystique’s team in one of the most entertaining battles of the year. Watching the original five mutants toy with some of the most dangerous X-Men enemies is a hell of a lot of fun, and when the amazing Stuart Immonen draws it, it’s definitely something you want to take notice of.

As great at the battle is, there’s really nothing that moves the plot along here. This is really the only negative in Brian Michael Bendis’ writing for this series: it’s a very, VERY slow burn. However, the character work more than makes up for the slow plot. When the Uncanny Avengers return to see the young X-Men’s handiwork, the exchange with Havok and Cyclops is really bittersweet. Not only that, but Jean Grey’s new psychic powers (which she accidentally uses on ALL of the mutants in the battle) seems to be starting a new mystery that should have a fascinating pay off. All-New X-Men has me in for the long haul, despite the fact that it takes so long for things to happen in the book.

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

pacific_rim_ver12_xlgPacific Rim (2013)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day

Directed By: Guillermo Del Toro

I am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro. From Pan’s Labyrinth to Hellboy, I think he’s one of the most original and unique directors working today. Unfortunately he takes forever to release a new film. Del Toro is a filmmaker who has about ten projects going on at once, so when one finally does make it to the silver screen, I’m usually one of he first people to hunt it down and see it. With this in mind I knew I would love his latest film, Pacific Rim, but I didn’t realize just how much I’d love it.

Now, I should say this: Pacific Rim isn’t Del Toro’s best film. It is, however, his biggest, and the larger budget he has to work with doesn’t affect his vision at all. Following an attack from inter-dimensional giant monsters called Kaiju, the people of Earth band together to create giant robots called Jaegers to battle them. Piloted by two people whose brains are linked, the Jaegers have defended humanity for close to fifteen years, but are now having their funding cut by a world government that believes they can construct a wall to keep the Kaiju out (SPOILER: they can’t).

Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh is a former Jaeger pilot called back into action, and he’s paired with a rookie partner named Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Under command from Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, who gives an awesome pre-final battle speech), they gather the remaining few Jaegers in a last ditch attempt to close the inter-dimensional rift that the Kaiju appear from with a nuclear bomb.

That’s the plot in a nutshell. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but the love Del Toro has for classic monster movies is on full display here.  Every dollar of his budget goes to the action scenes and little background pieces to sell the world of the film.  Sure, the human moments could’ve been fleshed out more, but the pure unbridled joy of seeing a giant robot bash a giant monster in the head with a yacht makes you forget all about that. Honestly, if the movie was all fight scenes, I wouldn’t have cared at all.

Pacific Rim is a ton of fun, and proves that Del Toro can effectively deliver the goods on a blockbuster scale.  There’s plenty of awesome things to pore over, and if you’re a fan of old school Godzilla films, you’ll love this. Hell, it even has Ron Perlman in a fantastic role as a black market Kaiju bone dealer.  As it stands right now, Pacific Rim is one of my favorite films of the summer, and I hope that it reaches enough of an audience so we can see more of this world.

Verdict: 3 Elbow Rocket Punches out of 4

Comic Reviews: Superior Spider-Man and Justice League!


Superior_Spider-Man_Vol_1_13_TextlessSuperior Spider-Man #13

The final act of “No Escape” hits, and with it come some big changes for Otto Octavius’ new life as Spider-Man.  Writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage have penned a satisfying conclusion to the latest Superior Spider-Man arc that also hints at some major (and unexpected) things to come. Alistair Smythe still has control of The Raft, the Marvel universe federal super prison. With the technologically enhanced Vulture, Scorpion, and Boomerang assisting, Smythe is looking to escape the prison, and the only person standing in his way is the Superior Spider-Man.

The script by Slott and Gage is really well done, and effectively concludes this latest battle with a pre-Superior Spidey foe. Vulture, Scorpion, and Boomerang are in kind of throw-away roles, but seeing The Lizard reappear was a lot of fun, and something that I hope we’ll see in the near future (maybe in the upcoming Spider-man Team-Up?).

While I would’ve liked some more moments with Scorpion and Lizard, the battle between Smythe and Otto is really well done, and plays out very unexpectedly.  Just when you think the battle is over, there’s another twist towards the end of the issue that really puts an interesting spin on Otto’s method of crime-fighting, and parallels one of his final moments with the real Spider-Man in a very interesting way.

Giuseppe Camuncolli’s pencils are a little looser this time around, but there are a lot of great action scenes to be found here.  There’s a great fluidity in his pencils when he depicts Otto moving through hallways and fighting. When it comes to the rotating stable of Superior artists, Camuncolli is easily one of my favorites.

Superior Spider-Man #13 ends on an interesting note, and I’ll refrain from spoiling it here. While I was surprised by Otto’s interaction with J. Jonah Jameson at issue’s end, I’m very intrigued by what’s to come, especially when other heroes in New York start to notice what “Spidey” is up to. If his Avengers teammates weren’t curious about his behavior before, they definitely will be now. I can’t wait to see what happens next.



Justice League #22images

After months and months of hype, the “Trinity War” is finally starting in the DC universe. The first crossover of the “New 52”, the story will pit the three Justice League teams (regular, America, and Dark) against one another. Now that we’ve finally gotten the first installment of the story, how does it stack up?

Pretty well, actually. Geoff Johns’ plot is very cool, and actually comes up with a fairly decent reason for these heroes to come to blows. Of course, with this being the first part of a six issue story, there’s a lot of set up here, and some of it may confuse readers who haven’t been reading all of the Justice League titles (or even the first issue of Pandora that was released last week).

Unfortunately I only read Justice League, so I am one of those readers who had a little trouble following some of the smaller side characters that pop up here, like Phantom Stranger and Madame Xanadu. Since I have no back story for what kind of role they’ve played in the lead up to this story, their scenes really disrupted the narrative of the issue. However, it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the book, which goes to prove how strong Johns’ writing is.

Ivan Reis’ pencils are fantastic in this issue. When the Justice League and JLA start throwing the first punches it seems like a truly epic event. There are some fantastic splash and double splash pages that reveal some pretty incredible moments, which makes this probably Reis’ strongest issue of Justice League yet.

Despite some small confusing moments, the first installment of “Trinity War” is worthy of your time and four bucks.  Even though one of the “shocking moments” of the issue is quickly done away with a few panels after it happens, there’s still enough of a mystery to keep you interested when the heroes of the DC universe take a break from punching each other.

The Great Desertion?

3fa57f776fdaae8a94c9bdf9b4f13d39The Image Expo was this past week, and with it came some pretty surprising announcements.  Of course, there was the typical announcement of a new Robert Kirkman series, and a few Image mini series that have now become ongoing monthly titles.  In addition to these announcements, there were a multitude of new titles announced at the Expo. However, many of these were for titles that featured not up and coming creators, but well-known Marvel writers like Matt Fraction, Rick Remender, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, and Jason Aaron.

Like many current writers, the creators who announced their own titles this past week got their start in the indie realm. It’s natural that they would want to go back to their roots and stretch themselves creatively.  Jonathan Hickman and Rick Remender had a string of critically acclaimed books through Image, which obviously brought them to the attention of Marvel. Same goes for Matt Fraction, whose Casanova also started at Image before he took it over to Marvel’s Icon imprint.

Brubaker is the one writer that I’m least surprised by the move to Image. As the first one to jump ship from Marvel after finishing his Captain America and Winter Solider runs, Brubaker made the move back into creator owned work, and Fatale has proven to be quite the sales juggernaut.  Of course, when your previous work includes Criminal, Incognito, and the best run on Captain America of all time, it’s pretty much a given that your fan base will follow you wherever you go.

Of the titles announced, the ones I’m most excited for are Rick Remender’s Black Science and Jason Aaron’s Southern Bastards. Science looks like the child of Heavy Metal and my old high school Science textbook, while Bastards looks to be the perfect follow-up to Aaron’s Vertigo series, Scalped (which I really have to get around to finishing).  To be honest, there’s not a bad one in the bunch, and I’ll most likely be picking up the first issue of each of these series when they hit the shelves.

Should Marvel fans be worried that some of the company’s top talent is doing some work for the competition? I don’t think so.  While writing for a company like Marvel or DC is a dream come true for a lot of writers, it’s not like they can really change much from the status quo. To paraphrase Todd McFarlane, they are essentially “playing with someone else’s toys”.  While it’s got to be a lot of fun to create new adventures for the Avengers and Wolverine, there’s a ton of other factors that come into play when creating those stories, whether it’s from editorial or someone even higher up.  This allows the writers to have complete creative control, and keep themselves from going too insane in the world of the “big two” heroes.  As long as it give them an outlet to try new things that could be used when writing the next Marvel event, I’m all for it.

Comic Reviews: The Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Batman, Inc.!


Superior_Foes_of_Spider-Man_Vol_1_1_TextlessSuperior Foes of Spider-Man #1

Well, color me impressed. I wasn’t initially going to pick this title up, but since my pull list this week was a measly two titles, I decided to give this new #1 a go, and I’m glad I did. Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 focuses on the new “Sinister Six” of Boomerang, Beetle, Speed Demon, Shocker, and Overdrive that were briefly seen in the first issue of Superior Spider-man, and it’s safe to say that these villains’ lives haven’t gotten any better since getting trounced by the Doc Ock-possessed Spider-Man.

This issue primarily focuses on Boomerang, a C-list Spider-man villain who’s never been a very big threat for the wall-crawler. Writer Nick Spencer wisely acknowledges this by giving Boomerang a “one day I’ll make it” attitude towards life, which shows us just how out of touch he really is.  While his origin is glossed over, the interactions between Boomerang and his other Six teammates is great, as is his awareness that this iteration of the Sinister Six only has five members (but is on the lookout for a sixth).

Much like Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye focuses on Clint Barton’s life outside of the Avengers, Superior Foes takes a look at the everyday activities of these down and out villains. Shocker is a coward, always apologizing for his criminal activities while committing them, Speed Demon is a smartass, and the new, lady version of the Beetle is focused on her social media prescience whenever the team plans a new heist.  There’s no crime too low for these guys: from a comic book store to a pet store, they all feel the wrath of these would-be supervillains.

The interactions between these characters is the driving force behind the book, and watching the issues’ plot unfold is a real treat, and pretty hilarious as well. Spencer has a strong sense of what makes these individual characters self-destruct, and they way he sets up sequences for them is both hilarious and kind of sad in a way.  Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, and the rest are so delusional that it’s comical to watch them fail so miserably at being villains, and the fact that they’re all being played.

Steve Lieber’s artwork is fantastic, and really sells the grimy world these characters live in.  On top of this, he’s also able to sell the funnier moments of the issue without them seeming out of place.  His opening splash page of Spider-Man battling Boomerang is awesome, and the clever use of censorship will be very familiar to fans of Hawkeye.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man was an extremely unexpected surprise, and I sincerely hope that it finds an audience. This issue is well worth your money, and you get a lot of entertainment for your $2.99.  Also, There’s no need to read any issues of Superior Spider-Man before you start this either. Between this and Hawkeye, Marvel has a one two punch of cool and original takes on heroes and villains that can easily appeal to longtime and non-comic readers alike. Give it a shot; we need more books like these on the shelves.



Batman, Inc. #12Batman_Incorporated_Vol_2-12_Cover-3_Teaser

We’re almost done.

I’ve made it well known that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. since it relaunched after the “New 52” reboot.  I’ve felt the issues have gone from “great” to “almost incomprehensible”, and while I like Morrison as a writer, I feel that recently he’s been allowed to get away with gaps in his writing simply because he’s Grant Morrison. Thankfully, this penultimate issue of Batman, Inc is fairly straightforward, and actually makes me crave the final installment.

After a detour to see the “Batman of Japan” last issue (the less said about that, the better), we finally get to see Batman take the fight to Talia after she ordered their son Damian’s death.  What follows is an almost issue-long fight between Batman and the Leviathan, a gigantic clone of Damian that has been programmed only to kill. While Morrison’s dialogue is fantastic in this issue, the real star is artist Chris Burnham, who brings a lot of brutality to this throw down.  In particular, the big reveal of Leviathan’s face underneath his helmet is horrifying, allowing Burnham to really freak you out and get under your skin.

Unfortunately the last few pages of the issue fall victim to the now all too common (and tiresome) Morrison trick of skipping panels and fast-forwarding the plot to keep the action going.  In a page, he progresses from outside of Wayne Industries, then to Talia in a helicopter, all leading to her meeting Batman in the Batcave, swords drawn. However, this cliffhanger is excellent, and guarantees that I’ll be there to see Talia and Bruce finally face off (and to see if Morrison can stick the landing).

Casting, Casting, and More Casting!

Amazing-Spider-Man-2-CastThe past week has seen some whirlwind casting announcements in the world of comic book movies. Actors were removed from films, added, and as always, rumored for roles.  However, last week saw so much activity that it was almost too much to keep up with. Films like Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and Man of Steel 2 all had a flurry of casting announcements, sometimes multiple in a single day.  While there’s a ton of news to sort through, let’s focus first on Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is now without a certain Mary Jane Watson.

Shailene Woodley was supposed to appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Mary Jane Watson. I say “supposed” because it was announced last week that she has been pushed back to the third film. While that ‘s all well and good, there’s a new rumor going around that Woodley will be recast in the film. The alleged reasons for this range from Woodley’s starring role in the hoped to be blockbuster Divergent film, to Sony reacting to the (unfortunate) online rage that occurred when leaked photos of the actress going to the make up trailer were posted online.

While Woodley wasn’t my first choice to play Mary Jane, I sincerely hope that the decision to recast her (if true) isn’t because of the online reactions to those pictures a few months back.  However, if she IS recast, I hope Sony finds an actress who fits the role (in my mind, that’s Deborah Ann Woll from True Blood). It sucks that Woodley is being let go, but at the end of the day, with the amount of characters that Amazing Spider-Man already has, I understand the story reasons for letting MJ go this time.

On the flip side, Man of Steel has already announced a sequel, and with that comes a certain nemesis for Superman. A nemesis that’s bald, wealthy, and extremely badass: Lex Luthor. Luthor is one of my favorite villains in comics, and I’m eagerly awaiting the news of who will be portraying him this time around.  It’s heavily rumored that Mark Strong is the frontrunner (and Zack Snyder’s top pick). He’s awesome and would do a fantastic job, but he’s already played Sinestro in Green Lantern, which while technically wasn’t a villain role (yet), it could throw a wrench in any future Green Lantern movies (of which I doubt there will be any).

I personally would love to see Billy Zane as Lex. Yes, he hasn’t been in any movies since Titantic, but look at him. Seriously, just look at him. He looks like the Luthor from Superman: The Animated Series. There are other rumors of Bryan Cranston being another contender for the role, and as insanely crazy good as that would be, I highly doubt Cranston would go for the role.

Oh, I almost forgot about X-Men: Days of Future Past. Long story short: there’s too many characters being put into this movie.  It seems like there’s a new one announced every day. Unless Fox announces at SDCC that Future Past will be split into too movies, my hope for the film will continue to shrink with every new cast member added.