Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Archive for February, 2010

Be Sure To Join The Forum

Today marks the one-week anniversary of our forum opening up shop and we’ve already accrued a healthy roster of people posting on a wide variety of topics.

Please drop by and register, we’d love to have you aboard!


Alternate Panel of the Week

Alternative Panel of the WeekThere. An attempt to re-focus the panel of the week onto something not related to Power Girl or psuedo-bondage. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, in fact they kind of rock.)


Ronin’s Gaming Reviews: Bioshock II

“Daddy won’t you please come home…”

Bioshock 2
Bioshock 2

Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360
Preferred platform: Whatever’s your fancy.

Notable tropes:
Videogame Caring Potential
Videogame Cruelty Potential
For SCIENCE!

Whenever I ask someone why they play videogames, a very common answer is because “it’s an escape from reality.” I for one agree with this answer. Although a strangeness occurs whenever you are placed into a reality and your character is looking to escape. We leave our world and become engrossed in a new realm, whether it be a wasteland, dystopia, or other abominable setting that any sane person would want to leave immediately, and yet we want to stay as long as we can. Rapture is one of these places. The hidden, underwater world of Andrew Ryan welcomes all to its arm with the promise of unlocking true potential without the hands of the government or church holding us back. That is, before SCIENCE! went rampant and genetic modification forced its residents to risk their sanity for progress and survival. Forced Social Darwinism is a bitch.

But then again, anyone who played the first Bioshock knows this. When Bioshock 2 was announced, needless to say the palms of many fans began to sweat. Will it live up to the first? Is it being handled differently? Will it trade storytelling prowess for a multiplayer mode? Everyone who played the original can remember their first contact with Rapture’s disfigured splicers, the hulking Big Daddies, the seemingly innocent Little Sisters, and other enigmatic characters. Ask anyone that has completed Bioshock the meaning of “Would you kindly…” and instantly they are able to answer you, as if the phrase had been permanently etched into the walls of their mind. People were left wondering if a return to Rapture would be able to recapture the rapture of Rapture. ( >_> ). My experience with Bioshock 2 left me just as entertained as the first game, although for different reasons.

In the first game you played as the silent protagonist Jack, seeking answers for why he had arrived in a mysterious setting. In the second game you play as Subject Delta, the original Big Daddy on a search for his lost daughter. Some saw this as an odd change in the format of characters. Previously, a human thrown into an unfamiliar world and now a seasoned, lumbering powerhouse? The fact is that Delta is just as relatable a character for the gamer, and a natural progressing exists between the two character. Originally I thought of the two characters as representing a slave and a master, but upon further reflection I’ve come up with another conclusion. In Bioshock, you play the part of the child. In Bioshock 2, you play the part of the father.

(Bioshock 1 plot spoilers follow (even though you should now this already) and end at the next paragraph).
In the first game, you found yourself (unknowingly) being lead around, force to comply with your master. You were just recently brought into this world, and forced to rely on a more powerful figure in order to survive. In order to grow more powerful, you need only be selfish and reap your rewards, or be selfless and wait for mother to reward you. In the second game, you found yourself in a familiar world. You know the evils that plague this world, you set your own goals, and you must sacrifice. In order to progress you must adopt the Little Sisters, look after them, and protect them.

Generally speaking, Bioshock 2 is much of the same that was the in the original, but mostly, every gameplay aspect has improved by some degree. Depending on who you are this can be a good or bad thing. If you were expecting something completely different in the sequel, you may be disappointed. Andrew Ryan, the believer in the greater individual, is replaced with Sofia Lamb, the believer in the greater society. Weapons are new, but each one ultimately possess the same function as its similar counterpart from the original. The original plasmids return, but they have been overhauled with new functions and ranks. The best news is that you can dual wield weapons and plasmids so you no longer have to switch between the two. Combat is rebalanced so that there isn’t as much dissonance between overpowered and underpowered plasmids like the first one.

The thing I think I liked the most was the handling of the return to Rapture. I’ll be the first to admit that the first Bioshock was certainly a frightful experienced. I’m not ashamed to say that I was damn hesitant on leaving the bathysphere you use to first arrive in the original game. It is only natural however, that some of that fear is gone in the second game if you are a returning player. You’ve experienced the dark and wet corridors, you’ve battled splicers and Big Daddies, you seen the antics warranted in any horror game. It was a challenge posed to the developers to make sure that anyone returning to Rapture wouldn’t find themselves totally desensitized to the mysterious locale. The immediate answer is to simply throw in as many horror clichés as you can. Things popping around corners, shadowy figures speeding across your view, and other cheap frights. But the way it was handled in Bioshock 2 was completely relevant and involved in the world that nothing seemed out of place.

The problem with reviewing a sequel is that you must account for people who haven’t yet played the first game. Bioshock 2 is a game that is perfectly fine played alone, from a gameplay and story standpoint. But when it comes to personal satisfaction I couldn’t recommend both games hard enough. Bioshock can be picked up for $20.00 or lower, so if you had to choose between the two, I would recommend playing the original Bioshock first, then pick up the second whenever you have the time and/or money. These two games are much a part of the same experience and should be played in their entirety.

Verdict: This is one of those games that I feel is genuinely good. Not one of those games that I feel you need to have a certain mindset, or genre appreciation to enjoy. While there may not be any mindset needed to enjoy Bioshock 2, there are some mindsets that may prevent enjoyment. And that isn’t completely not a total non-contradiction. This is definitely a product that can be hampered by over-hype and high expectations. The breakdown is this: If you like the first game, you will probably like the second. If you really, really like the first one, there’s a chance you won’t like the second one. If you didn’t like the first one, there’s a chance you’ll like the second one. If you really, really didn’t like the first one, you probably won’t like the second one.

Hell and I didn’t even talk about the multiplayer. Oh yeah, I forgot that existed. Oh, not because it isn’t very good or anything, but because I was completely overwhelmed by the single player mode just like the first one. Did you hear that online community? Adding multiplayer doesn’t not automatically make a game worse because “now they’ll just be diverting time and resources.” *rabble rabble*


Panel of the Week

POTW 7From Wonder Woman # 41

Okay, I’m getting the feeling that this Panel of the Week thing might just turn into a recurring shrine to Power Girl….


Ronin’s Gaming Reviews : Dante’s Inferno

Let’s kick this of with something that Reverend will surely hate…

Dante's Inferno
Dante’s Inferno.

Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360
Preferred platform: PS3 (For the special edition that costs the same amount as the 360′s standard edition)

Notable tropes:

Squick
Rule of Cool
Large Ham

And then there was that time that Dante from the crusades killed the Grim Reaper with his own scythe before returning home to find his wife dead, her soul stolen by Lucifer to make his bride, and he had to descend through the nice circles of Hell and fight some crazy shit with holy magic and wicked scythe attacks…

Okay, so maybe the Dante in this game isn’t the poet Dante Alighieri that we’re familiar with, and maybe the game does take a few (read: more than a few) liberties when it comes to the story, and maybe a bit of the gameplay is derivative of God of War (read: more than a bit), but the fact remains that I had a load of fun with this game. I made Death beg for his life, I severed the heads of Cerberus, I strode atop Phlegyas, and fucked up the City of Dis. I traversed the nine circles of Hell and flipped Satan the bird. Okay, so that last one wasn’t in game, but that’s how immersed I was in Hell for the ten or so hours I spent with the game.

Although the experience was by no means a lengthy one (I’m looking at you 100+ hours logged at Fallout 3), it was an enjoyable time similar to what I’ve come to expect from modern action games. It becomes one of those experiences that you become locked within the brutality. Your senses become dulled to anything that doesn’t involve the damned souls of Hell. The problem is that this feeling becomes necessary if you wish to thoroughly enjoy the game. Dante’s Inferno falls into the pitfall that besets many games: The fact that what you get in the beginning is also what you get in the middle and end. If you tire of the combat that the game has to offer in a hurry, you’re in for a bit of disappointment.

Though the player is able to spend souls he gathers to upgrade his weapons, armor, and skills, (what the hell hero?) your playing experience won’t dramatically shift. This upgrading is done through to multi-tiered, two branch system of the Holy and Unholy. Throughout the game you find famous historical sinners strewn about hell, waiting for you to absolve or condemn them. Absolve and you are granted points that unlock more powerful Holy skills with which to spend your hard earned souls. These are mostly related to upgrading your cross (your partner weapon along with the scythe that shoots out holy pew pews of light). Condemn and you are granted points that unlock more powerful Unholy skills. These are mostly related to upgrading your scythe. The slight problem with this is that any sane person would choose to either condemn all the souls, or absolves all the souls in order to max out their tech tree. This means that one of your two weapons will be much more useful than the other and the un-upgraded one will be unused except for the occasional situational moments. The solution to this problem is that once you finish the game, you are able to start a new game with your skills carried over. This way you can have one nice guy play through, and one total dick play through and end up maximizing your skills.

A good deal of enjoyment from this game comes from its scenery. As you begin your decent you see the world of the living begin to crumble and give way to the opening bowels of Hell. Countless condemned souls woven into the architecture as punishment. While the enemies encountered aren’t particularly numerous, you meet unique designs as you conquer each circle. The battered souls of Limbo. The temptresses of Lust featuring clawed appendages sprouting from the womb. The disgust spewing Gluttons. Also, demons and stuff. This game set out to shock its audience and it succeeded. No matter how hardened a gamer has become over the years there will be something that will cause you to grimace in this game, and this is coming from someone who once introduced someone’s face to a drill press as the Punisher.

This is a game for someone who is looking for brutal uncomplicated combat. It is for the person who complains that that other game doesn’t have enough blood and gore. It is for the person who feels that a game cannot shock them. I know some of you might be saying, “But Ronin, Isn’t this game just a clone of God of War?” I say, sure, why not, it doesn’t make the game’s experience play out any differently. If it’s fun, it’s fun. “But won’t this style of copying just encourage developer to not think on their own and just copy successful game models?” Maybe, but if a game is different enough that I can still play it, I’m okay with it. And when the developers of the game that was “copied” see the product in front of them, the ball is in their court to kick it up a notch. I have no doubt in my mind that God of War 3 may end up being a wholly better game, but that’s good for them. Competition can breed better games. That’s right, I’m all Republican up in this bitch with my games.

Verdict: If anything I have said above slightly interests you, I would recommend playing this game. Now that doesn’t mean I necessarily mean purchasing it. Now that doesn’t mean go pirate this game, I hate those fuckers. I mean that this one definitely warrants a rental or preview. With a demo available it shouldn’t be too hard for someone to make their own impression. Honestly, I’d recommend trying the demo before anything else. A lot about a game like this can be seen in a demo. If you find yourself tiring of the combat before you finish the demo, that may be a sign that this is not a game for you.

Damn, I thought I said this shit was going to be concise. Rev does a movie review in 400 words or less while I ramble about tech trees and demonic vagina claws. And barely any sarcasm, I am ashamed of myself.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Hey, guess what? I read some books! Just like last week? Aren’t I unpredictable? But seriously folks, I got my books yesterday, though about six hours later than usual so I actually stayed up late reading comic books to ensure that I would be able to get this post up in a reasonably timely manner. You guys should send me a gift basket.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #622 GNTLT 3.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #33 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #9 2.99
BLACK LANTERN GREEN ARROW #30 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #7  3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #3 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN SWING #1 (OF 4) 3.99
CHOKER #1 (MR) 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #83 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL #20 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #576 2.99
GI JOE TP VOL 02 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #9 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #36 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99
MS MARVEL #50 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #62 SIEGE 3.99
SUPERMAN #697 2.99
THOR #607 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #4 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #41 2.99
X-FACTOR #202 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #233 XN 2.99

That’s a pretty healthy haul. So what did I think?

ASM 622
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 622

For the last few week’s I’ve really been boosting up ASM as a book. I think it’s been consistantly good and that the naysayers have been blinded by their own biases. This issue however is a bit of a mixed bag, in that the lead story with Morbius is actually quite fun if a tad on the light side, not actually being full length and thus appearing somewhat rushed, while the second story with Flash Thompson is just sort of a discombobulated mess.

I am willing to bet that the secondary tale is in there because they need to quickly set up Flash’s new status quo for when he inevitably comes back into the fold of the supporting cast on a regular basis. It feels like the writing team’s attempt to get us re-aquainted with Flash and let us know that by featuring him in such a beefy role in what amounts to a backup story, he must be important enough to care about. Continuity wise, at least.

Like I said, the issue is a mixed bag, but it’s only a slight hiccup in the road as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a one-off story meant to act as an interlude anyhow. I don’t blame them for trying to cram some exposition in there that might have gotten cut short if it were rammed into an ongoing storyline. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Amazing Spider-Man.

Choker # 1
CHOKER # 1

It’s like Sin City meets Blade Runner with enough of the classic Marlowe noir not to feel cheap. Choker is Ben McCool’s debut creator-owned story and damned if he didn’t knock it out of the park with this first issue. The dialogue is crisp and feels as solid as noir dialogue can, which admittedly can sometimes come off as really cheesy. Remember Frank Miller’s script for The Spirit? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.

I’ve admitted that I’m not normally a fan of Ben Templesmith. His artwork is hard to critique because any complaints can be attributed to his wanting to add a sense of style. And luckily, in the case of this book, the style works. Whereas I felt it actually hindered the story in something like 30 Days of Night, here it feels like any other type of art style would have seemed…off.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I’m always telling people that there’s great new stuff out there and this is no exception. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up.

Captain Swing
CAPTAIN SWING # 1

Speaking of original material, fuck you Warren Ellis. How the living hell do you manage to crank out so many titles in such short periods of time, and all of them be thoroughly entertaining? Where is your off month? When do I get to read something from you that sucks. That would be a surprise. I would actually be shocked if I picked up an Ellis book and didn’t like it. The man has such a vivid sense of world-building and setting that he could tell an infinite number of stories simply by interchanging the characters and plots from his different endeavors into each other’s locales. In this case, we get a pre-industrial revolution London in the time of the formation of the Metropolitan Police (aka the “Met”) and a mysterious steampunk villain(?) who fires electric bullets and cavorts around town in a flying airship.

Once again, fuck you Warren Ellis. You creative prick.

Ms. Marvel Finale
MS. MARVEL # 50

It pains me to say that reading this final issue of Ms. Marvel, I understand why it’s going away. When your grand finale is so astoundingly anti-climactic that it makes the reader’s chest hurt, you probably should thank your lucky stars that you made it to issue 50. Now, I’ve followed this title since # 1, and I’ve tried to get people on board, because I think that it’s been a really damn good title for the majority of the run. But I see the final arc as sort of a missed opportunity. It seemed…I guess rushed is as good a word as any. Like this is all Brian Reed could come up with because the weight of delivering a final issue was weighing on him so heavily.

The backup story is passable. I’m not a big Noh Varr fan, so it didn’t speak to me on any real level. But something tells me that what happened there will come into play whenever they decide to focus a little more on that character. At least when that happens I’ll be prepared.

Overall, this would have been a fine issue were it not the grand finale. In that sense, it feels like a bit of a misfire.

Wonder Woman 41
Wonder Woman # 41

It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?

************************

And that’s it for this week, join us next time when I aim to be even more passive aggressive.


Introducing Our New Contributor, RoninJD

This Man's Ego > Your Shame

My brother has a borderline addiction to videogames. Rather than attempting to cure this, I have put him on staff here at CCQ as our resident gaming blogger. He will update us with his opinions (which he will claim to be facts) on newly released games, and perhaps even the occaisional older game that everyone has forgotten about.

He’s on the forum, so feel free to hassle him about his shit on there. Because that’s how forums work.


Krypto The Superdog Knows He’s Terrific

Kryptoterrific

Seriously, the size of the ego on that dog…


And Now, A Random Deadpool Moment…

Deadpool 17From Deadpool v. 2 # 17


We Have A Discussion Forum Now!

The web address ccq-blog.info should now lead you to the forums. My hope is to build a thriving internet community where people can come together and discuss all kinds of different topics, not the least of which being the comic books I detail here on the blog.

Tell your friends! Join today!


What Do You Even Call This?

P-Cat

Even animals in the Marvel Universe are obsessed with Bondage.


Film Review : Shutter Island

Shutter Island

Here’s the thing, I’ll see anything Scorsese puts out regardless of the source material. The fact that he adapted a book that not only have I read by enjoyed quite a bit only helped to put my ass in the seat. Going in, knowing what I did about the material and with my expectations as they were, I was fully prepared to be let down, feeling that perhaps my standards were set too high.

Fortunately this is not the case as Scorsese has crafted a damned tight mystery/thriller that utilizes every bit of his style and skill while staying faithful to the novel he’s adapting. If there was one thing that was never in doubt when I stepped into the theater, it was whether or not Scorsese could pull off some amazing period work, considering he manages to make just about any decade feel organic, real, and tangible.

What holds the film together is the acting. Remember a decade ago when Leo DiCaprio was just some fresh-faced kid whose acting talent was overshadowed by the fact that he was the object-of-affection for just about every teenage girl in the US? That kid has been replaced by a serious actor able to hold his own along the likes of Ben Kingsley and Max Von freakin’ Sydow.

The only element of the film that does not truly work is the editing. At times it feels downright choppy. While the pacing is held and it doesn’t get dull, some of the stylistic choices seem a bit jarring, though it’s nothing so serious that it ruins the film.

As far as the narrative goes, everything is logical and direct. It’s not impossible to find plotholes, but it’s just as easy to fill them in with a little deductive reasoning. I will say that the film toys with the ending a bit, adding a bit of ambiguity that the novel didn’t present. And I think the film is all the stronger for it.

All in all, not Scorsese’s finest work but a valiant effort and definitely worth a watch.


Arc Review : Captain America – Reborn

Makin Poos?

So, uh…is Steve Rogers poppin’ a squat to make some poos there or am I totally misreading that image?

Captain America – Reborn, the mini-series that brought Steve Rogers back to life in the core Marvel universe which saw significant delays and even had to tack on an additional issue to tell the full story, finally finished up a few weeks back and I’ll admit that while I picked up the issues when they hit stands, due to the nature of the delays and whatnot I never actually read the story.

Now that the arc is complete and I don’t have to worry about Bryan Hitch ever getting the art done, I sat down to read the story in its entirety and give it an honest shake. Does it measure up to the hype surrounding it? Does it seem consistent with the rest of Brubaker’s work thus far with the character? Does it meet my requirement of at least one M.O.D.O.K. appearance? All these questions and more shall be answered.

The central premise of the story is that the Red Skull and Dr. Zola, using epic amounts of SCIENCE!!!!!, used a hypnotized Sharon Carter to shoot Captain America with a magic gun that would dislodge him from the present and basically freeze him elsewhere in the timeline. Like being stuck in a block of ice, but with more sciency mumbo-jumbo.

This book is so pulpy you would think they printed it on orange juice. Norman Osborne has a portion of the technology needed for the Skull to retrieve Steve from the timeline, and aims to help him so he can have a legitimate Captain America on his team but with the Skull’s consciousness in his body. You know, because he’s evil.

All in all, the book felt like a mixture of classic Avengers storytelling (what with just about every current Avenger; Mighty, Young, New or Dark, appearing in the issue) and Brubaker’s modern neo-thriller sensibilities that he’s used to parlay Captain America into one of the most amazing books on the stands.

But really, it all comes down to one thing:

Machines Designed Only For KFC

Huge MODOK death attack squads.

*thumbs up*


Panel of the Week

Panel of the Week # 6

Whoever didn’t see this one coming obviously does not read the blog on a regular basis.


Inmates Running The Asylum : Jim Lee Named Co-Publisher & Geoff Johns Named Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics

der Fuher

Shit just got real…

The internet got itself all up in a maelstrom over the news that Jim Lee would join Dan Didio as a co-publisher while Geoff Johns would step up as DC’s new chief creative officer.

Okay.

A lot of people took this to mean that now every book published by DC will be populated by death and mayhem, with just a tinge of regressive silver-age obsession. A Teen Titan would die every month and so on, etc., etc.

Look people, I riff on Geoff Johns a lot. I mean, I’ve nearly been assaulted in the shop by merely stating that he’s not the greatest writer of all time and that as a writer, his stories won’t be remembered in 20 years time as anything more than an example of what comics were like at a particular point in history. His writing is really rather middle-of-the road. The fact of the matter is that his books sell because of hype and promotion, not because of quality. Blackest Night is not an amazing event. It’s actually fairly tepid. But people buy it because they’re told it’s important. His stories are not particularly inventive or ground breaking, which is partly due to his obsession over the DCU’s history.

So after spending a paragraph ripping on the guy (again), how can I actually defend his appointment?

Perhaps because he’s exactly what the company needs. He’s a fanboy and at the same time he’s a businessman. He knows comics on the retailer level, because he is one, as well as on the creator level. He knows h0w to hype his own product to the fans. He sees himself as one of us and speaks as such. Which is something that DC has seemingly lacked, a sort of fan-level enthusiasm. DC has, as of late, seemed so corporate and robotic when compared to Marvel’s hype machine. I believe that having someone like Johns overseeing the creative direction of the company, and being able to sell that direction, will be a major boon to DC. Which I really do hope for, because I love DC comics. I grew up with Batman and Superman as much as I did Spider-Man or the X-Men.

All I can say is, please, stay calm and remain optimistic. If I can do it, so can you.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

So I’ve been battling a cold that’s primary affliction to my system has been a severe sense of apathy. I don’t think I’ve ever moved slower on a Wednesday than I did at work yesterday, but when the fever broke in the night I realized that I had a blog to update, and thus I started work on this week’s reviews, which will begin momentarily.

THE PULL LIST: 2-17-2010

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #621 GNTLT 2.99
BATMAN #696 2.99
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #9 3.99
BLACK WIDOW AND MARVEL GIRLS #4 (OF 4) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #4 (OF 4) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #603 3.99
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT IS ALL I NEED (ONE SHOT) 3.99
DAREDEVIL #505 2.99
DARK AVENGERS #14 SIEGE 3.99
DEADPOOL #19 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #8 2.99
DOOMWAR #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #51 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #45 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
HULK #20 FOH 3.99
IGNITION CITY TP 19.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #3 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #607 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #2 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #42 3.99
POWER GIRL #9 2.99
PSYLOCKE #4 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHER #14 2.99
SPIDER-WOMAN #6 2.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS VOL. 4 49.99
SUPERGIRL #50 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THOR BY DAN JURGENS & JOHN ROMITA JR TP VOL 02 24.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #521 2.99

And so, I begin:

Amazing Spider-Man 621

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 621

I feel like I’ve heaped sufficient praise on this book over the course of it’s “Gauntlet” storyline. This issue is worth picking up for Michael Lark’s art alone. That man could draw Daredevil making a sandwich for 32 pages and I’d buy two copies. (Grilled cheese variant?)

This issue catered to me in numerous ways. It had Black Cat, who I effing love. It had Mr. Negative, who I honestly believe is one of the better additions to Spidey’s rogues gallery that we’ve seen in the last few years. Honestly, it was just a good Spider-Man comic. And while the previous few issues have felt decisively like old-school Spidey, this one feels frighteningly modern, and I think alot of that comes from Michael Lark’s artwork. While not overly realistic, the tones are muddied and contrasting as opposed to the clean cut-and-dry work of the last few issues. I like both styles, and the art definately worked for this story, but the change is a litle jarring when held up to what had come before. The saving grace comes in the form of the writing, which doesn’t shift tone nearly as radically and keeps the story on course.

Again, I really only have good things to say about this series at this point, and if you’re not picking it up I think you’re probably just still bitter over the One More Day angle. We get it, you feel slighted, but at this point you’re just denying yourself some quality entertainment with a character you claimed to love.

Chase Variant
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT

Rich Johnston is basically what would happen if I went around shouting a bunch of stuff I heard and considered it hard journalism. I won’t deny that the man gets his shit right every so often, as the man does have some sweet hookups and his site is a go-to for many people. I consider him and people like him to be the reason that Wizard has lost it’s relevance to the comic community and that in itself sort of makes him relevant.

Does any of that qualify him to write a comic book?

I don’t know. If it does, I’m hoping someone at Image calls me because I’ve got a great pitch about a Texas ranger who fights ronin-Samurai in a post-apocalyptic California with the help of a cat named Asshole. (Seriously, call me.)

I don’t know if he’s ever written anything outside of an editorial before this book, but if he’s a newbie he didn’t do too bad for his opening shot. If nothing else, the book has a pretty cool framing device, with unseen hands dealing magic-style dueling cards that shape the flow of the narrative. Such a framing device would be especially interesting in an ongoing series, where it could be explained in detail, but as it is not an ongoing and simply a one-and-done sort of deal, part of me wonders what their purpose was. Though that’s just me contemplating what could be or should have been and not what is.

As far as what the book is, I would say that Chase Variant is decent but it feels like an anachronism. A sort of throwback to the 90′s Image that I never really got into. There’s no character development or plot that runs beyond a few lines of dialogue, but there is some well-developed imagery and the potential for impressive worldbuilding. Environment and aesthetic over true content, honestly.

That doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish, because at least the book feels like it moves forward given it’s limited frame of existence. It’s not like it treads water trying to stay afloat. The book may not be the best thing ever written, but none of the effort was phoned in and it feels genuine, which is more than can be said for some books.

Merc With A Mouth 8
DEADPOOL : MERC WITH A MOUTH # 8

I’ve gotta nominate this one for turnaround book of the month, because the last issue to hit stands was downright atrocious. I was literally floored by how asinine that book was. This issue on the other hand seems to work well to regain focus and present a singular path for the book that I hope isn’t lost next month for some reason nobody can explain to me.

Instead of disjointed mini-sodes with a hodge-podge of different artists breaking up the flow, we get Deadpool and co. sucked into the Marvel Zombies universe where Deadpool goes all Tom Savini on a bunch of undead superheroes. The art is clean, crisp, and fits the tone preented by the writing and the jokes don’t completely suck the life out of the book.

Thank god, I was afraid I was going to have to drop this book. And how damned ironic would it be if after clinging to Cable and Deadpool because I didn’t want to see DP’s only book get cancelled would it be for me to be able to drop a Deadpool book and not be concerned because he has two other books I could read? I’d love to go back to the 90′s and drop that bombshell on someone. The look on their face would be priceless.

SUPERGIRL # 50

I’m glad that we have a Supergirl book that isn’t a horrible trainwreck. The current team has been doing a bang up job with the character, and though I’m not a big fan of the huge line-wide crossovers the Superman family seems to be enduring until the end of time, this book has been doing the best with what it’s been given from the get-go. The character development they’ve been working with Kara and Lana is refreshing, as both of them have drastically needed to be refocused for quite some time.

This issue feels like a good old fashioned Superman story to me. I mean, replace Supergirl with Clark and you would swear that this story belonged in one of those Black and White SHOWCASE books. Giant wasps? Lazer beams! GANGBUSTER?!?!?!

Yeah, epic.

The backup story is short and essentially unnecessary, but the tone was on the money and I’m sure putting Helen Slater’s name on the book bumped sales by a fair margin, though what size that margin is could be anybody’s guess. Either way, the total package was worth the extra dollar on the price tag.

Uncanny 521
UNCANNY X-MEN # 521

If all they had printed in this book was that final page, I still would have loved it. I won’t spoil it, but they made me a very happy nerd.

Very very happy nerd.

************

And I’m done for this week. Check back next time, when maybe I’ll review a comic that totally sucks. It’s kind of odd when I don’t read anything that makes me wanna hurl.


Panel of the Week

Panel of the Week

From Secret Six # 18


Hey Guys, Someone Actually Reads This Blog!

Tim Seeley Read This Blog

In another pathetic attempt to claim legitimacy (See also “So, I Got Mentioned In Wizard…“), I must bring to light the fact that writer Tim Seeley, creator of ball-bustingly awesome series Hack/Slash, as well as the author of my favorite book of the week “Colt Noble and the Megalords” somehow found this blog, and my review of his book, and tweeted it.

This does two things.

One, proves that people actually read this blog and don’t find the writing horrible enough to NOT recommend it to others.

Two, makes me weary of insulting creators on the off chance that they might actually read the blog. And the last thing I want to do is make Geoff Johns cry, though it would be fair considering how hard he has made me cry at times. (Jerk…)


Weekly Comic Reviews

I’m back. Though I’m completely sore and drained after an amazing concert last night at the House of Blues, I have found it in my heart to post up this week’s reviews in a manner that vaguely resembles professional.

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

The Pull List 2-10-2010

ACTION COMICS #886 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS WITH BLACK LANTERN SUPERBOY #7 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #620 GNTLT 2.99
BATGIRL #7 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #8 2.99
BOOSTER GOLD #29 3.99
COLT NOBLE AND MEGALORDS (ONE SHOT) 5.99
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #29 3.99
HAUNT #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #3 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #10 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #4 (MR) 3.99
QUEEN SONJA #4 2.99
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY ILLUSTRATED #1 4.99
SECRET SIX #18 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SWORD #4 (MARVEL) 2.99
TITANS #22 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #7 3.99

And now, on with the show…

ASM 620
Amazing Spider-Man # 620

Amazing Spider-Man has become a freight train style juggernaut that moves along at seemingly breakneck speed without any signs of slowing down. The 3x a month format allows for a cacophony of plot development in a VERY short span of time. What amounts to the third arc of the Gauntlet storyline has come to a close. Were this a traditional Spider-man story, played out once a month, it would have taken 3/4 of a year to get where we are.

Thus far the story has been like the beginnings of a chess game, with pieces being carefully put into position in ways that we can see that an endgame is approaching but don’t yet know how it will truly play out. In this week’s issue, we get a classic Spider-Man throwdown between the webslinger and Mysterio, who constantly plays mindgames with Spidey and the reader, keeping us guessing as to whether he truly is Quentin Beck come back from the dead. Ambiguity breeds interest, and this arc certainy has it in spades.

And, I must once again take a moment to praise the art of this particular story, as it reminds me very much of the 70′s styled Spider-Man stories that I enjoyed so much, with none of the hyper-realistic definition that seems to have plagued the book in the wake of McFarlane in the 90′s. The art is a key componant here in making the story feel like classic Spidey.

Batman and Robin # 8
Batman & Robin # 8

MINDLESS ZOMBIE BATMAN!

GLEE!!!!!

Colt Noble
Colt Noble & The Megalords

I am an unabashed lover of Hack/Slash and its creator Tim Seeley, who writes stuff that will never be considered high art but could definately be called high concept. His sense of comedic timing is a wonder to behold and his latest venture, a sci-fi/fantasy romp with a sarcastic comedic flair tossed in to make things interesting is truly worth a read.

Now, at 5.99 it’s a bit pricey. But let me tell you this, the issue had more damned story and content than the majority of the books on the rack this week. Compared with Zenoscopes Sci-Fi Illustrated (Which I will get to in a moment…) which held a pricetag of 4.99 with about 1/4 the content, you cannot argue that you’re not getting a good value.

And honestly, you’re getting more than a good value. One of my major complaints with the comic book industry and its followers today is an overwhelming tendency toward constant negativity and adherence to canon/continuity. Fans tend to feel like everything must be kept in strict order and the line must be towed at every turn. For example, take a look at the fanboys who got worked up into a sweat about how Dick Grayson could have POSSIBLY had Batman’s body at the point in the timeline where Batman & Robin # 7 took place when it was contradicted by Blackest Night. Those questions were answered in # 8 but some fans got so worked up in the specifics that they COMPLETELY sucked all of their own enjoyment out of the issue in question.

Books like Colt Noble and the Megalords are a breath of fresh air. In an industry that seems to be trying so hard to be looked upon as a mature art form, where genuine fun is tossed aside for stern-faced seriousness, Seeley presents us with a book that does exactly what a comic book should; entertain. Look, I get it. There are comics out there that are just as legitimate as certian works of prose fiction and should be regarded as such. Whatever. Don’t act like it all has to be like that. For every “Pride and Prejudice” there is a whole rack of novels that don’t aspire to be “art” or “literature.”

Colt Noble is like the dirty girl you take home from the bar and do things that the Bible expressly forbids. You know that you liked it but you’re not gonna go mouthing off about it to your parents in polite company.

JSA All Stars 3
JSA All-Stars # 3

The cover has Magog getting punched in the face. Of course I bought it!

The book has Power Girl beating the snot out of Magog. I think I want to make out with Matt Sturges.

Fuck this book
Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustrated # 1

Look folks, you remember how I went on a rant about how comic books don’t have to be serious? Yeah, I stand by that. But that doesn’t mean that comic books get a free pass for being utter crap. And they certainly throw away any right to critical fairness when they charge you $4.99 for such crap.

Science Fiction Illustrated is like bad fanwank to classic Twlight Zone and Outer Limit episodes, spliced with the worst heavy-handed pseudo Skinimax artwork one could possibly lay their hands on. It panders to the comic geek who can’t get a girl with a story about buying a perfect robotic woman that then spends spash pages dressed in various naughty outfits cooking and cleaning for the protaganist schlub.

I love me some smut, but let’s be honest, and I mean brutally honest, if I so chose, I could download multiple terabyte hard-drives full of the most disgusting pornography on the planet for free with a click of a mouse. Why would I pay $4.99 for cheaply and crudely drawn comic book girls if not for a compelling story to go along with it. Remember Boogie Nights where Burt Reynolds got all pissed off about porn without a plot. THIS IS WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!

There is no fathomable way anyone could read this and say they got their money’s worth. That’s just the plain truth.

The Secret Is That The Book Is Awesome
Secret Six # 18

Gail Simone is awesome. This issue has explosions and zombies and twisty endings and whatnot. It’s part of a crossover and it didn’t suck. Gail Simone obviously made a pact with the devil. That devil might be John Ostrander. Just sayin’.

***

And that’s it for this week. Join me next time when hopefully I don’t rant quite so much*.

Cheers..

(*totally not gonna happen)


Marvel Comics Used To Be Awesome

They say he's got to go...GO GO GODZILLA!

*sigh*


Christopher Nolan to Oversee Superman Relaunch (aka let the inevitable geekgasm commence)

Nolan!

Hey, remember back in 2006 when Bryan Singer hopped off the X-Men train to helm a new Superman film and everybody got their collective geek panties all soiled up and sopping wet only to complain about the end product not being as good as they had hyped it up to be in their mind before walking into the theater?

Get ready to get bumrushed by a striking case of deja vu because we’ve got a similar situation a’brewin at Warner Brothers, once again centered around the floundering Superman franchise and a nerd-christened messiah coming in to save the day.

According to Deadline, Batman Begins & Dark Knight director Christopher “Jesus Christ” Nolan has been brought in by the studio to act as the overseer of a retooling of the Superman franchise. Because, you know, he made those awesome Batman movies so he must be able to work that same kind of magic on a character that is, quite literally, the opposite end of the spectrum as far as what the character is or represents.

I will pause here to say that Nolan is a competent director. Hell, he’s more than competent. He’s actually one of the finest working directors in Hollywood at the moment. But nothing in his long list of credits gives me any indication that he is the right person to manage the creative direction of the Superman franchise. All of Nolan’s work seems to focus on the deeply psychological elements of the characters that inhabit the worlds he creates. I hate to use such a cliche, but Nolan’s work tends to be very dark. Memento, The Prestige, his Batman films, Insomnia… none of those films have the sense of levity that a Superman film needs. Granted he is just the architect here, and not the director, but one would assume he will have a heavy hand in the tone the new film will take.

It’s almost like they are trying to repeat the mistakes of Bryan Singer’s film. While I myself enjoyed Superman Returns, I can see the flaws and pinpoint where and why it did not take off with a mainstream audience. Nobody wants to watch a dour Superman. The tone of a Superman film should be closer to that of Jon Favreau’s first Iron Man, where the sense of adventure is overshadowed by the character drama or serious moments, but instead enhanced by those elements.

These are films based off of comic books after all; and while I won’t be the guy who says that as an art form comics should be light and fluffy, they seem to suffer when they take themselves too seriously.

So what is my point in all this?

Really, this is just a preemtive strike. I want to ask everyone here and now not to start wetting themselves over the prospect of Nolan at the helm of a Superman film. A name does not ensure quality. Just because he gave us two amazing Bat-films does not mean that he will deliver unto us a Superman film with everything we want with no flaws whatsoever.

Just be pragmatic.

That’s all I’m saying.


A Completely Useless (Yet Somehow Comic Related) Status Update

Erection Junction, What's Your Function?

There’s your disturbing visual for the day.

A’thankya.


Novel Review : Pirate Latitudes

Pirate Latitudes

Michael Crichton is one of those writers who I have a great deal of respect for simply for the diversity of his accomplishments, in the field of prose as well as in television and film. As of this writing he is still the only author to have the # 1 novel, film, and television show at a single moment in time. Speaking purely on a level of pop-culture impact, only Steven King seems to measure up.

How fitting then that his final novel be one of his best. If nothing else, he knows how to exit with a bit of flair. “Pirate Latitudes” is probably the most streamlined and accessible prose Crichton ever produced. Eschewing the dense narrative styling of his most recognizable works, he presents a vivid world with a tried-and-true formula populated and constructed by a mind honed by numerous years of experience in forming over-arching narratives.

I don’t think that Crichton expected this to be his final novel. I’m sure if he knew that he only had one last book in him, he would have produced something with his usual hallmarks, expanding on what he picked up over the course of his career. Instead we get a novel that I’m sure was something Crichton wrote because it interested him, or he enjoyed playing with the characters. It’s not high literature; it’s more like an author writing for the sake of telling a story that he felt someone might enjoy, and I think the book takes on life because of it.

I don’t doubt that I’ll revisit this one. Much like I have with Jurassic Park or Congo or Rising Sun. And that may very well be just what he was hoping for.


Marvel Takes A Moment To Make Me Happy

Spider-Girl

Okay, so according to Bleeding Cool, Marvel is preparing to give Spider-Girl yet another monthly title after cancelling her twice.

Thank you Marvel.

Let me state this emphatically, I love Spider-Girl. I think that the book exemplifies what good serial monthly superhero comic books should be. There is drama but no wangst, there is fun but the plots are not ridiculous nor is anything taken overly serious. It’s just a startling reminder of why the Stan Lee years at Marvel were so damned popular. Let’s face it, Stan’s formula worked and Spider-Girl definately followed in that fine tradition.

There will be some critics who ask why Marvel will give the character another shot when it failed to set sales ablaze in any of her prior incarnations. I would say that it’s because they want to keep the character in the public mindset on the off chance that it can be sold as a cartoon in the vein of Spectacular Spider-Man or Superhero Squad. Marvel seems to be emphasizing a diversification of their properties through other media, especially since entering under the Disney umbrella. It is not out of the realm of possibility for this character to be pushed as the premiere title for that particular audience.

The purpose of this post is simply to do one thing; allow me to ask you to give the first issue a try. It’s a single issue. It’s worth it. And if you like it, try to give the first ARC a full go. Show Marvel that good fun books will garner readers. Or it’ll get cancelled and we’ll get another Dark Avengers book where Venom and Sentry gang-rape Rocket Raccoon.


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