Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Comic of the Month - September 2008

I figured I didn’t have anything to post tonight, but it had slipped my mind…comic of the month. So my apologies for the slip up. I would consider posting it tomorrow but that would be 2 posts in one day and….that’s just crazy, I try not to do that when I can.

So this month’s pick was pretty hard. I figured it really came down to Spider-man #570, Invincible #52 and All Star Batman #10…and the winner is…

Invincible #52!

While a bit more of a shorter read than most issues of Invincible, the story was enjoyable, there where lots of great moments (which I wish I could have scanned for that week) and it was an overall incredible read. I am happy to see #53 shipping on time! If you missed jumping back on with Invincible, get back on, it’s going better than ever!

So that’s it for the Comic of the Month, always a short post, I know. Tomorrow expect that announcement and nothing else. I don’t have the money or the time to get to the comic shop Wednesday. So expect a delayed Weekly Reviews, sadly. I’ll still do Week’s End though, going off of Online Spoilers. See you tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The 3 flavors of Batman

Batman, DC’s poster boy and one of the most iconic and beloved heroes of all time. It’s no surprise that his latest movie, The Dark Knight, was a huge success and has been named one of the best movies of all time, and one of the highest selling of all time. But one problem that came with the Dark Knight was in the comic shop. Outside of collection books, there was no one specific Bat-book that possible new readers could jump on if them where now curious about the Caped Crusader.

This inspired me with the idea to give a bit of a refresher to all who may be interested in getting back into Batman, or want to start getting into Batman. My clever name for this helpful guide to getting into Batman? The 3 flavors of Batman.

Now I say 3 flavors because I’m only reading 3 Bat-books so obviously those are the only 3 I can talk about. Now let’s start off with the flagship title

Batman

Written currently: Grant Morrison

Art currently: Tony Daniel

Current story: R.I.P

If you’re looking to jump right in during the middle of R.I.P, you’re out of luck there. The story has been fairly confusing and tends to jump from reference to reference to piece itself together. For one, you’re going to need a Wikipedia since there are some references that are out of print, case in point, Zur En Arh.

However, with the release of the Black Glove story in HC recently, pick that, along with Batman and Son up and you should be fine. I reviewed Batman and Son, which you can read that Collection Spotlight if you click the link in this sentence. Now I’ve yet to get my hands on the Black Glove collection, but it is important in how the Club of Heroes ties into this story, as well as the Club of Villains.

Really though, all of Morrison’s run on Batman has felt very specific, in the sense that you can tell this is a Morrison story in how off the wall and insane it gets. I’d say that outside of Zur En Arh, the Ninja Man-bats are as crazy as it gets.

If your concerned about the current state of the Dark Knight, then shell out some extra cash and pick up Batman and Son and The Black Glove before you get all the back issues to R.I.P first and you should be fine.

Tony Daniel’s art has been great, and if he could keep a timelier schedule, he’d be golden. Alas, it seems hard for him to keep a more than 2 month straight schedule without at least a 1 week delay. Let’s hope he gets out the final chapter sooner than later, eh?

Overall, Batman is a currently good title but a little too steep for new readers.

Detective Comic

Written currently: Paul Dini

Art currently: Dustin Nguyen

Current story: Heart of Hush

A bit more new reader friendly, you only have to go back a few issues to get in on this entire story. Dini has made a fairly easy to read story here that is a great opener for those who are either unfamiliar with the villain Hush, or don’t want to spend all that cash on the several Batman: Hush volume books.

The story centers around Hush mainly, looking back on his past and what made him the man he is today, but we also have Batman of course who is more or less doing what he always does, fight crime. Whereas Catwoman is having a much more interesting plot, her struggling with her feelings for Batman and wanting to be with him.

If your looking for a strictly Batman comic, you may want to look elsewhere as Dini seems to have his heart (pun intended!) on this being more of a tale of Hush and Catwoman really. They seem to eat up the spotlight and be the 2 most interesting characters. Batman is simply being Batman with rare moments of inner monologue. Then again, Dini understands that it’s best that Batman not have a constantly running thought stream, so I don’t mind it.

The story itself has been nothing really but builds up to what comes now, in the final 2 issues, and what may be the death of Catwoman. Hush has…somehow…removed her heart and kept her alive. It’s strange and I’m not sure where Dini is going with it, but this is his best story so far in his run on Detective Comics, so I don’t mind.

Dustin Nguyen is doing a great job on art duties, giving a real unique take on Batman and having a good dynamic with Dini. That, and he’s not just good, he’s able to be timely unlike our other Bat-artists.

Overall I really like Detective Comics and if you can’t afford to go buying 2 books your not even sure you’ll like, just go get the past few issues of this and it should be fine.

All Star Batman and Robin, the annoyingly long title

Written: Frank Miller

Art: Jim Lee

Yes, that’s right; I hate the title to this comic. Why in the hell does it have to be so long? Was All Star Batman too simple? Robin doesn’t even become Robin until issue #9!

Well…that’s about my only gripe with this. I was going to do a huge and epic “A different opinion” like I did with Ultimates 3, on this, but I figured since I’m talking about Batman and Detective Comics, I might as well just do this now and here, only a little more condensed.

This seems to be the book that gets all the crap flung at it. No one ever praises it, and if they do, they get ripped to shreds from all the “serious reviewers” who spend too much time reading Grant Morrison to appreciate anything else.

I know the series if flawed, I’m not kidding myself. I don’t blindly praise and love it, but damned if I don’t enjoy the hell out of it. I just can’t see what is with all the hate and disdain towards it. My only real clue is the delays, which don’t bother me at the slightest. Sure, their annoying, but whatever. As long as I eventually get my hands on it, I can live without it for a few months.

Now as to if it’s subscribed for new readers. The first volume recently came out, so if you don’t want to jump on in with #10, pick up the HC of volume one then #10, you should be all set.

Miller is doing a good job on this and I personally, as a fan, enjoy it. Of course Jim Lee’s art is great as always, but one thing that an IGN guy noted was how Miller seems to be pushing Lee to do his very best. I’ve read some of his scripts; Miller is incredibly detailed in what he wants to see and how he wants to see it. He does a great job of getting his vision out there and working well with Jim Lee.

Now anyway, I highly suggest this if you’re tired of the same old same old with Batman and want a bloody good read. It’s sick, twisted, wicked and all kinds of fun.

So there you have it, the three flavors of Batman. I hope this little guide was helpful and that you may now be interested in checking out these books.

Now I’ll see you Wednesday with my next post, that big announcement I never shut up about. See you then.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Andrenn can't go the Baltimore

I hate to double post sometimes, but in times like this, it’s fair game. As unbeknownst to me the Baltimore Comic Con was in effect and there where some “Andrenn Update” worthy announcements.

First off, the links to all the new reports I’m going to talk about

War of the Witchblade

Dan Slott gets Mighty

Bendis and Kirkman, battle front.

DC does something smart!

First off about the Top Cow panel, now Ron Marz has signed on as an exclusive for Top Cow which both has me happy and a little sad. I was really hoping he may come to Marvel some time and work on something like Avengers: The Initiative, since Slott is leaving it. But I wanted to cover the announcement of the upcoming epic Witchblade story, War of the Witchblade.

Sara and Dani are going to duke it out for ownership of the Witchblade. No, Sara doesn’t take Dani to court and file a 500 dollar lawsuit and make Dani go living with her brother and taking the Witchblade on the weekends, it’s a big ol’ fight that spans 6 issues and in the end, only one will bear the Witchblade.

It sounds awesome, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. But I’m confused…as to why Chris Bachalo is doing covers. Don’t get me wrong, love his work, I just don’t get why they asked him to do covers. Was Sejic too busy or something? Eh, either way, I really look forward to seeing where this story goes and what happens.

Also, my vote is for Sara to get back the rest of the Witchblade. Seriously, Dani is good and all, but Sara takes the cake of awesome.

Dan Slott has been announced as both leaving Avengers: The Initiative…which makes me very, very sad….such a great series…and Slott is leaving it. He’s leaving it up to Gage, who…I’m not sure if he can do that good on his own. I’m fairly skeptical and saddened over this…but hey, this isn’t Slott’s last Avengers book. Now he’s taking over Mighty Avengers with issue #21.

I may pick up Mighty Avengers again, just for the fact of having Slott written goodness in my pull box again. I was going to pick up Initiative after SI, but now, I’m not sure. I think I’ll get Mighty instead.

So on the Kirkman/Bendis discussion…they start out with the ever-classy “F*** you” as an opener. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I open my debates (Andrenn for President 2014.)

Kirkman seems to have retracted a bit of his statement, not meaning for it to sound like Marvel and DC where the problem but more that if creators wanted to leave Marvel and DC, that they shouldn’t be afraid and was simply encouraging them to do whatever they want.

Basically they seem to fairly agree most of time and don’t seem to be at each other’s throats and…they even hug?! I know. Shocking. Well I’m glad to see these two guys come to terms without ripping their heads off.

And to close, DC talks about it’s mishap with All Star Bats #10 with the censoring issue. Now, instead of writing the words, their just going to make the black bars for the words…why the hell not just do that in the first place? Because Frank Miller insisted on it? Well then, lie to him! It’s not like he can see through the ink and curse you out for it. I’ll admit, I like the Black Bar more than Marvel’s ever annoying $%^* which just looks stupid in every way. Also, their finally having editors check the books before they ship them out, which is a great idea that Marvel already does.

So that’s it for this quick Andrenn Update on the Baltimore Comic Con. Again, apologies for double posting in one day but I have a special thing on Batman coming out tomorrow. “the 3 flavors of Batman” so expect that tomorrow and again, remember, big announcement come Wednesday. You have a good Sunday now.

Week's End

Coming pretty early on Sunday is the latest edition of Week's End. I know it's 1 in the morning....but it's still technically Sunday, damnit. So here's the Week's End.

Comic of the week: All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #10

I’m sure IGN happily disagrees with me on this one. I was pretty surprised by their review; did we read the same comic? The one I read was pretty good and I loved it, but whatever they read must have been pretty bad. Just goes to show how different some opinions and reviews can vary, eh?

Anyway, another grand slam by Miller and Lee. For those who don’t know, this is a 22 (or was it 20?) issue series and next issue (or this issue) marks the half way point for it. For the most part, I’ve loved All Star Batman and Robin and this issue was no exception.

Moment of the week: Black Panther #41

Judging by reviews alone, this issue was awesome, and I may go pick up the last arc when it comes to the collection books. But seriously, how awesome is this? Incredibly. Panther might as well have just written “suck it” and it would still be badass.

Cover of the week: Ultimates 3 #5 variant

Joe Madureira kicks the asses of all with this cover. While I don’t care for Terminator Cap, I find it hilarious that Wasp-bot is sleek and sexy by Valkyre-bot is clunky and ugly. I think Mad favors one character over the other. Also, Hawkeye looks like a bug, which is great. Overall, really wicked and cool cover.

So that’s it for this Week’s End, out first one on Sunday. I have one or two things I may post on Monday and Tuesday, but I may not. Either way, I have a big announcement on Wednesday

In the reviews, expect Batman R.I.P part 5 to be reviewed, and I can only figure Detective comics comes out as well. Venom: Dark Origin #3 comes out, and from the previews, my worries of Venom not showing up to issue 5 are calmed. Thank god. Outside of that and Hulk 6, nothing too big next week. But hey, stay tuned for that big announcement I mentioned. (I should work for DC and help them with their advertising)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Andrenn's Game Shelf

It’s another edition of Andrenn’s Game shelf! While I was planning to do a review, something just hit me…Sonic and the Black Knight, Unleashed and Chronicles…gotta talk about them.

First off, similar to Megaman and Mario, I’m a big Sonic Fan. Don’t worry; I’m not one of those ignorant fanboys who screams if you say that Sonic Sucks. I may have a large history with the blue dude with ‘tude (remember when that was his old slogan?) but I’m not ignorant to that most of his recent games have sucked.

I’d say the last really good Sonic Game was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. At least…the last good console game. Meanwhile on the handhelds Sonic has been kicking all kinds of ass from Sonic Battle to Sonic Rush.

So now we’ve got an upcoming Sonic game for the Wii called Sonic and the Black Knight. From what I recall, it’s going to mix Sonic speed and the Wii-mote’s motion game play. I’m…skeptical, to say the least.

Now Sonic Wildfire was pretty good (before I go on, for those who may be confused. I refuse to call sonic Wildfire “Sonic and the Secret Rings” because that is a god awful name and it makes me hate Sega. So, I call it Sonic Wildfire. Just a little heads up for you.) But I’m not sure if Black Knight can capture that level of cool.

For one…it comes off as a cheap gimmick. I can understand how Sega wants to cater to the Wii fans and try and improve the lack of good 3rd party games…but seriously, giving Sonic a sword? Why not make a new game where the character goes into the story book? Hell, use an older franchise if you want! Use that stupid living Star or something, but with Sonic, it just doesn’t work!

Though I may end up biting my tongue come Black Knight’s release. I’m a sucker for Sonic Games, so if I have a Wii by then, I’d probably still buy it regardless. I’m also only going off the press release of the game and an image in Nintendo Power. So far we’ve yet to see any game play or a trailer, so I’ll hold off anymore spite.

Now as for Unleashed…oh please…let this be the game I’m hoping for. Heroes was so awful and…well…Sonic 2006 was actually good on the PS3, but it didn’t come out until 2007 so it’s not technically Sonic 2006.

Unleashed looks stunning with great graphics (that much Sega can deliver on, I know) and incredibly fun game play. It seems to blend the greatness of Sonic Rush and Sonic Adventure 2. I can only hope that it plays as well as it looks.

Of course…there’s the Were-Sonic thing…where Sonic…transforms into a Wolf like hedgehog. Which is just confusing. But for safety’s safe, I’ll avoid bashing it, as the game play for it does look fun. It looks like the old hack and slash beat ‘em ups of my day, the days of the SNES and the Sega Genesis (My NES was a gift form my grandfather when I was very young).

Sonic looks fairly slow in this form, but I doubt speed will be much of a problem since from the looks of it Sonic will be fighting most of the time in this form and not going from place to place as much. I also liked the Were-Sonic trailer released a few months back, very funny.

The plot seems to start out simple enough, Eggman is up to shit, and Sonic has to stop him. It’s an easy and enjoyable form of plot that we’re all used to by now and I’m glad that Sega is taking things slow. Much as I enjoyed the storyline to Sonic ’06, the great story wasn’t worth the confusing twists and lack of everything else.

Sonic goes Super but gets captured, the emeralds are turned into negative energy which, instead of making sonic Super, turns him…Were. Huh. Anyway, Eggman breaks the world into pieces while he’s at it and it’s up to Sonic and pals to save the day again. While It’s no Mephiles from the future, it’s still very good.

I’m a big fan of the supporting cast…well…everyone by Amy and Cream…and Knuckles kind of annoys me. I was glad to hear that most of the supporting cast is still returning for this game, most notably my favorite, Shadow.

As I said earlier, the game play is a blend of Rush and Adventure, switching from side scrolling to somewhat 3D moments. It looks great, incredibly, hugely fast and a vast improvement over the week speed in Sonic ’06 and Heroes.

Now as for Dark Brotherhood…it seems to be the start of a new wave of Sonic games, much like what Wildfire was. Dark Brotherhood is an RPG, something no one would expect from Sonic. Though they did make it work with Mario, Paper Mario 2 being one of my all time favorite RPG’s.

I’m not a big fan of the RPG franchise. That would be a good friend of mine. He’s a major Final Fantasy fan and seems to have every game, guide, book, comic, movie and soundtrack he can get his hands on. He got me into the RPG franchise long ago with Final Fantasy 4, which at the time, for the SNES, we all thought was 2. Since then I’ve found myself enjoying, but not necessarily indulging myself on, the RPG franchise and series of games.

Really, I don’t care much for Final Fantasy. The only one I like is 4 of course, and 7 is all right. But I say this just to let you know that I’m in no way biased on either side of the “RPG’s suck, RPG’s Rule” battle that most fans seem to go on about. I think their all right, but that’s it.

Now the idea of a Sonic RPG is fairly ridiculous. As is a Sonic party game *cough* or a game about Sonic, in which he moves incredibly slow *second cough.* Now I enjoy big storylines when it comes to games, while I don’t’ mind simple stories, the big epic stories are the ones I really like and I enjoy being engrossed in whatever the story may be, even if it only offers a 5 minute window away from the stress of real life.

Again, the entire cast is here so I’ll of course look forward to see what they all do and if they have any good moments. The storyline itself, seems fine, I have a sneaking suspicion that the character Shade and Shadow have more in common than similar names. But this isn’t a fanfic and I’m not here to speculate you to death.

Overall, it looks good but I may wait a bit to check it out. See the reviews and all that and then when I have some extra cash I’ll give Dark Brotherhood a look-see.

So that’s it for our second edition of Andrenn’s Game Shelf. I chose to, again, do more of a speculation and thoughts than an actual review. I want to ease into this a little, not just jump into reviewing games. Reviewing games is a lot harder than comics, there’s a lot to cover, so I’m sticking to Opinion based posts for now. But expect some reviews of games like Megaman 9 and Sonic Unleashed in the future.

Week’s End will be here tomorrow for its first Sunday edition. Back to the first edition of that, I did say that it was Weekendly, meaning it would be on either Saturday or Sunday, so expect that tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Collection Spotlight: Halo Graphic Novel

It’s been about a year since Halo 3 stormed in and broke all kinds of crazy records, got insanely good reviews, and basically became beloved by most and criticized by some. I figured what better way to celebrate the popular game than with a CS that spotlights the great graphic novel developed after it.

Lots of hard work was put into this, and it is one the testaments to just how strong something can be when one puts their soul into their work. Similar to the part 2 opener for Collection Spotlight with the AvP Omnibuses, we’re going to cover the 4 separate stories contained within the Halo Graphic Novel.

The last voyage of the Infinite Succor

Written: Lee Hamock

Art: Simon Bisley

Story comments: Unlike the other stories in this book, Infinite Succor takes up most of the book’s weight compared to the other series. Here, we chronicle a Covenant ship being taken over by the Flood, as well as somewhat of the origin of one of a big Halo characters later on. You know the one with half a jaw.

In all honesty, I found myself scratching my head half the time during this one. The art is left to tell most of the story, and I don’t feel Hamock conveyed what should happen well enough. What dialog we do get here doesn’t seem to fill in how little there really is to the story.

While it is nice to see the inner workings of the Covenant, how much their comrades mean to them, and that these are real beings, not random enemies that run at our hero and try to kill him.

Speaking of Master Chief, he’s absent from his own book. Though he gets a cameo in the opening pages of this story, that’s all you’ll see of him in the stories. It leaves me to wonder why he is on the cover if he isn’t the main character here.

Though people applaud Bungie for taking as big a risk as not to use Chief. I personally feel it’s a little frustrating to pay 25 dollars, hoping to see Chief kick some ass, and he hardly shows up. I can understand how he may take away from some of these stories, but I would have liked it much more if he at least had a larger role than cameo.

Anyway, the story in Infinite Succor is good, but I feel Hamock relies far too much on the art to convey the script and some really good moments get lost in that.

Art comments: I really like Simon Bisley’s work; he’s got a really defined style that stands out nicely. He captures the figures of the Halo Universe nicely and excels at creative ways to draw the Flood infected beasts.

Though still my complaint stands that the art is like a crutch to tell the story. While that isn’t always bad, I would have appreciated a more subtle blend of script and art coming together than what we get here.

Final Comments: Overall I really enjoyed this story, but was still a little bored with it. It definitely drags on after a bit, and seeing as this is the main meat of the book, that isn’t very good.

Armor testing

Written: Jay Faerber

Art: Ed Lee and Andrew Robinson

Story comments: Much more simpler and a straight forward story. Armor testing chronicles the test of the very same armor that Master Chief would come to use. But Chief isn’t the one in the mask testing the suit.

There really isn’t much to say about this one, it’s all straight forward action with a nice moment at the end of it. I liked seeing just how rigorous the testing is and that they don’t just make an armor then ship it out. But really, this doesn’t evolve the Halo mythos any further and feels the most throwaway of all the stories here.

Also, some of the actions feels pretty funny, Faerber definitely recreates some Halo type moments and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. So Kudos to him for that.

Art Comments: the art is simple, nice, and smooth. Just like the story. We get some nice moments that are conveyed well by the artists and I like the stylized look it carries. But really, it’s just simple good art, not much more.

Final Comments: While it feels more throwaway than anything, it’s a nice story with good art and makes for a quick and enjoyable read.

Breaking Quarantine

Tsutumo Nikei

Story/Art Comments: The story itself is told through the art alone. Intentionally this time, not by a folly like in Infinite Succor. The story tells of how our good sergeant escaped the Flood, something one would feel is fairly unnecessary since we know he got out alive anyway, but it was nice to see how it all went down.

Where it really shines is in the art though, it not only tells the story well, despite there being no words, but Nikei really comes up with some sick and twisted images of the Flood and it really shines well for it. He really creates the atmosphere as well, as a story about these space zombies should feel.

Final comments: While short, it was great and the art was absolutely stunning.

Second Sunrise over New Mombassa

Written: Brett Lewis

Art: Moebius

Story comments: A story that involves an “On the street” take on a major storyline is not uncommon. It seems most comics have done it, movies seem to strive for it, and cartoons and other animations enjoy it as well. So the idea of such a take on the world of Halo was to be expected.

We follow a man who is basically a big PR guy. It’s his job to make the news more digestible and easier. Changing words like Retreat to “Strategic pull back” and other things like that. It’s definitely an interesting perspective as usually these guys are made up as the bad guys who hate their jobs and just hate themselves. I appreciated that while he struggles with what he does, he isn’t a self hating fool.

The entire story is seen through his eyes, we hear his thoughts as he narrates and interacts with other people. It makes for some strong character moments and by the end of the story, he is built up very nicely.

When the Covenant attack, it’s made to be a very chaotic moment, but I liked how the overall chaos was more downplayed than anything, and we saw more of how he struggled to escape the city. It was nice to see the writer stick with his character most of the time, only showing us signs of the chaos once or twice.

The story has somewhat of a heart warming ending, when the man gives up his seat on the boat for a little girl whose mother must either be onboard, or is an orphan. Though he then returns to his desk and looks back on his thoughts for his final moments of life. It’s a bitter sweet ending.

Art comments: I am not at all familiar with the artist or his previous works, but I can tell you this…the art here is amazing. It matches the tone of the story incredibly well, character designs are very nicely done and each character has a strong level of uniqueness to how they appear to us.

As far as complaints are concerned, I don’t like how he does get a little strange with panel work. It’s only a few times, but it’s definitely rather confusing. Still, he does a fairly strong job even on the smallest of panels, which I can’t say for all artists.

Final comments: I really liked this story; it felt the most gripping, interesting, thought provoking and enjoyable of all. I would suggest you buy this for this story alone as it is easily the best story of the 4 and outshines all others, story and art wise.

Overall Final Comments: While I know I nitpicked a bit at it, I really enjoyed the graphic novel. I mainly nitpicked because in the end, this graphic novel gets nothing but loves nowadays and you deserve to know that there are flaws within it. I highly suggest it if you’re a big or even casual, fan of Halo. Even if you’re not a Halo fan you may enjoy this sci fi epic Graphic Novel as it contains some enjoyable story work and solid great art.

Must Buy

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Andrenn's Game Shelf

Welcome to the first edition of yet another new thing we’re trying out here, Andrenn’s Game Shelf. Now unlike the Andrenn Channel or most of my articles here, this one is solely made for the purpose of videogames. Not TV or movies, not comics at all, videogames. I thought “Maybe I could make a separate blog?” then I realized that I have to write up some of these things weeks in advance as it is, I’d care not to start another one yet. So instead, this is an all purpose article.

By that, I mean that I can talk about anything video game related. If it be a review, a top 10 list, my thoughts on a trailer, anything really. There is no one specific thing behind the Game Shelf. I guess you could consider that post about Batman: Arkhum Asylum to be the first regular post preluding the Game shelf.

There where lots of ideas running through my head as how to kick this thing off. I had originally figured to do something like a top 10 NES games or something fun like that. But then I got a better idea…Megaman 9, my thoughts, hopes, and ideas on it. Now I don’t have a Wii, and I may not get one for a little bit longer…for now, I’m stuck playing my DS, but I can still throw in my 2 cents to the overall design and look of Megaman 9.

First thing’s first, the graphics. It’s no joke that we live in an age of “Graphics is the best” when it comes to game fans. Nowadays, if it doesn’t look hyper-realistic and have HD graphics, most gamers piss their pants and have a fit. I blame games like Halo 3 and MGS 4 for ruining games for me this way. I am so ****ing tired of hearing “Yeah, but the graphics suck!” from whiny fanbrats who grew up playing Halo and have never heard of an NES.

But also, if your like me and you enjoy taking out that old gray box for a spin on Battle toads nowadays, you get labeled “Old and nostalgic” meaning that you can’t appreciate new games and only like old ones. Lets get one thing straight, I think Halo is fine, I enjoy it. Yeah, whatever. But just because I still play an NES doesn’t make me old, Damnit!

Anyway, eh…my point being, the sheer idea of a game not having stunning graphics is looked down upon and hated by a large majority of the gaming fanbase. Nowadays, companies like Sega and Nintendo, who you don’t mind if the graphics aren’t perfect, are forced to delay games for a whole year just to make sure it’s all perfect and shiny for the Fanbrats.

With the announcement of Megaman 9, no one knew what it would be like. Would it be 3D like the Megaman X games became (Thank god not) or would it use a lot of AMV like the ZX games have? Nope. Capcom chose the thing no one saw coming, 8-bit. To put it simply, this is a big middle finger to all the fanbrats who insist that a game sucks if the graphics aren’t amazing.

Now as someone who grew up with Megaman and has had a lasting appreciation of the series, I am incredibly stoked for Megaman 9. I think the 8-bit looks awesome and the enemy designs are restored to brilliance that the series had long lost as the X-series jumped the shark.

The story is simple, as opposed to games like Megaman ZX which take a far more serious and interesting look at this world, Megaman 9 returns to the simple “Shit is going down, Megaman has to save the day” idea. And I’m fine with that, with the classic games, I never wanted an epic 25 hour storyline.

Returning are Robot Masters. Something I’ve missed for quite some time. As the years have gone on, there’s been some pretty stupid bosses in the Megaman franchise. (Flamemole, anyone?) and there was a lacking interest in these bosses. Though we return to classic form with ones like Magmaman and Splashwoman. Very cool.

The game play has been called very hard and true to it’s roots in how difficult it can be. Again, I don’t mind a hard game, I love a challenge. Hell, I had to beat Megaman Zero 2 by only using the Boomerang shield. That right there is a challenge.

But anyway, I have high hopes for Megaman 9. While I’d be fine if it ended the series and killed of Wily, introducing Zero and X, if they insist on continuing the trend, I can live with it. Long as I get more Megaman glory.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Comic reviews for September 24th 2008

A much bigger week for comics is here! Spawn, Ultimates, Batman, Hulk, the insanity! It’s all too much for one man to handle. Luckily, I only had 9 bucks on me as I was heading home, so I could only get 3 comics. I was originally going to get Ultimates, Spawn and Hulk, but to my surprise waiting for me in my pull box was All Star Batman #10. So I will happily read and review that for you instead. But don’t worry, Hulk #6 will be reviewed next week…as for that Skaar one shot, I doubt I’ll even read all of it, let alone review it.

The Ultimates 3 #5

Written: Jeph Loeb

Art: Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner

Opening comments: I said everything needed be said on my previous thoughts of Ultimates. I was all ready to praise the art but hate the storyline…but damned if that slick Loeb didn’t do a hell of a job here.

Story comments: I usually don’t like having things spelled out to me as if I’m a child. But in the case of Ultimates 3, there was no time for some complex unraveling of the mystery. So in the manner of a few pages the story is retold through the eyes of the villain behind the villain. Ultron.

Everything fits together well and it all makes, for the most part, perfect sense. Ultron himself is a good villain here and I enjoyed his little rant on how much he loved the Slutty Witch and how much he hated the Ultimates.

Yes, unfortunately, the Slutty Witch is dead. I was actually hoping she’d survive, seeing as she was a fairly good character that I didn’t mind. Outside of sleeping with her brother, of course.

Cut to the Savage Land where the action is. Magneto continues to kick all levels of ass but soon gets taken down a notch. Overall, the fight scene comes together very nicely and I liked it more than the “everyone just randomly shows up and starts fighting” way I figured Loeb would take.

I of course have to talk about the major “Omigod” moment that is Captain America really is Black Panther. Shock. Gasp. Wheeze. Holy crap. Honestly, I don’t care. It will be explained come Ultimate Cap annual so I can wait to find out until then.

Now here’s the big shocker…Valkyre….actually…does something. I know, I was shocked too. Little miss “Oh, Thor!” actually does something. Since issue 1 it’s been obviously what she was supposed to be for this story: Thor’s girlfriend. That’s all she was meant to be…but I am happy to see Loeb realized how badass she can be and gives her a great moment. Finally making the character shine, even if only for a moment.

Of course, as much as I enjoyed this issue, the dialog isn’t without its cringe moments. Most notably ones such as “Yellow-Jerk” and “Then I guess that makes me- *rips off Yellow-Jerk’s head* -the Mother ****er!” Seriously, cringe worthy. Also, Hawkeye continues to be an ass-wipe as the other characters finally act as they should.

The death of Pietro was unexpected and fairly well done. Loeb could have handled it in a very cheesy “Waaaah!” way and he took the high road with this twist. It was very well done for that and the death of Pietro retains its shock for this.

The final page (with the Team, at least) is also good. Wasp continues to shine above the rest and has a great moment as telling off Captain America. Though Wolverine kind of ruins it with his “… I need a beer”

Overall, this issue was well written and really shines above the previous ones. But it almost feels as if a redemption for the series. Really, when you connect it all together, Ultimates 3 is actually pretty good and it reads well together. So I’m sure the Ultimates 3 haters will have a hard time believing this, but Loeb does a great job that is worthy of praise.

Art comments: Joe Madureira continues to knock this artwork out of the park and into the stratosphere. While the delays where annoying, they have always been worth it for this amazing artwork. He finally gets Wasp right, making her look like an Asian American finally. Also, weird perspectives are gone as everyone looks, for the most part, as they should. Job well done by Joe Mad.

Final Comments: Ultimates 3 does a good job of what it set out to do, get me excited for Ultimatum. Loeb has finally earned his wings as an Ultimates writer and shown he is both competent and knows what he’s doing. Bash him all you want, but I can’t deny this was a great read with incredible art.

4 out of 5

Must Read

Spawn #183

Written: David Hine and Todd McFarlane

Art: Brian Haberlin

Opening comments: I loved the last issue, that’s no secret, it was great. Had an incredible twist that really brought it home and made it a solid great issue with incredible art. But this time around…we stop to put the puzzle pieces in place for the final image, and it makes for a more boring read.

Story comments: I can sum the entire issue up easily. Moranna gets the symbiote, Cyan sees into the future and has Al summon Legion. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. While there are obviously some little details between, it was hardly enough to support a full issue.

But I must admit, the opening with Moranna was well done. I liked her introduction here and her interactions with other characters where great. Obviously Hine has spent his time working on the character and understanding everything about her before writing her, so she shines and is really great. Unfortunately, we don’t get nearly enough of her.

The scenes with Cyan are confusing and strange, to say the least. All the purpose they really serve is to get Al to use Legion, which makes little to no sense. But then enters Legion, only a few of them, ready to take on Moranna.

I don’t mind how short and fairly boring this issue was, it still had its good moments and was an all right read, despite how short it was. It obviously was only to put everything where it needs be for the final showdown next issue.

Art comments: Brian Haberlin continues to do great here, but I feel he was a tad rushed in certain spots, most notably the final few pages. But up to those, he does a great job, especially on Moranna.

Final comments: I wish I had more to say about this issue of Spawn. It was good, but not too good. I’d give it a Pass It if I weren’t more understanding of the situation. It’s a good issue but leaves a lot to be desired for the finale.

3 out of 5

Check It

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #10

Written: Frank Miller

Art: Jim Lee

Opening comments: Since I enjoyed giving a different opinion about Ultimates 3, I think I should share the same with All Star Batman. Now I won’t go into the whole thing, as I will eventually write up a full post about it, but for the most part I love this series. I understand that pretty much everyone hates it, but I am in the minority of people who both enjoy and look forward to every issue. Of course I’m a huge Frank Miller fan so that may have something to do with it, but beside that, I just enjoy the series in general and have loved it.

Story comments: My only frustration to this issue comes in not the delay, no, by now you’d be crazy not to expect delays on the title. My frustration comes in that we get…all of 3 or 4 pages of Batman. Maybe 5 or so. Really this issue is all about Jim Gordon, a character I’m sure needs no introduction.

It’s no surprise that Frank Miller gives this character a great voice with some of the strongest narration of the series. Gordon has always been a strong aspect to the Batman franchise, and his All Star persona doesn’t ruin it. If anything, Gordon hasn’t been this well written in a long time, not since No Man’s Land really.

Though what short bits we get of Batman are, as I’d expect, great. Batman’s narration dips slightly poetic to his usual hard boiled self. Since Batman hardly gets any regular dialog in these issues, the large moments of narration certainly help reprise the fact that this is indeed Batman’s comic, not Gordon’s.

Batgirl finally returns since her fist appearance in #6, and Miller continues to sore with her character. She embodies youth, excitement and happiness so well, yet also is responsible and more level headed then most adults I know of. He creates a truly unique character in Batgirl here and I really enjoyed it. I hope this isn’t the last time Barbara puts on that suit and saves arcades.

Similar to this week’s Spawn, there really isn’t too much to talk about here. Black Canary’s moment was great and I liked seeing her again, but it’s really all narration only and that bogs it down a bit. While it’s a good scene and again, Miller hits a high note with her character, I felt myself wondering if it would ever end. Though luckily it does end shortly after I grew bored with it.

The final moments where Gordon breaks down and calls Sara is, again, very well done. Always nice to see one of the greatest Batman stories getting referenced in the form of Sara, a one night stand that Jim had in Batman: Year One, whom he would later take as his lover. I don’t always like off hand references, but Miller does this well enough so that I don’t mind it.

This issue, Batman lacking as it was, was great and I really felt that Miller stripped away the campy super hero antics that had been going on these past few issues and takes the Batman series back to it’s darker roots with this, similar to how he had done with DKR all those years ago.

Art comments: a lot of people ask the question “Is Jim Lee’s great art worth all these annoying delays?” and in all honesty, I’m not so sure. As big of a fan as I am of his, I don’t appreciate the snail’s pace he seems to draw this book. Such a master artist, one would hope for a better schedule. At the same time…I can be a bit more understanding thanks to things like the DCU MMO coming out, and the fact that he is constantly at conventions, for the fans.

His work here is, as usual, brilliant and really adds to the book’s strong storytelling and dialog. But as great as it is, I want his great Batman damnit, not just his great Jim Gordon and Batgirl. With the hopeful return of the Dynamic Duo next issue, let’s hope Miller gives Lee more chances to shine.

Final comments: Truly worth the wait is the best way to describe this issue. Miller has hit a high point in the All Star Batman comic that I haven’t seen since issue #5. With any luck, he can keep the same strengths strong next issue.

4 out of 5

Must Read

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So thats it for today. Tomorrow I post the first edition of Andrenn's Game Shelf, featuring Megaman 9! And Friday, we close September's Collection Spotlight with the Halo Graphic Novel. You may have noticed I dropped making a banner for the weekly reviews, was really just a waste of time and since I only have Paint, I can't make anything good. So while I may do them again one day, for now, their gone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ultimates 3, a different opinion.

It’s a brand new day here at New Age Comics, and with it comes some new things I’m trying out. I wanted to get back into throwing out random opinion based things like I did earlier on with things like Spawn #185, Image United and One More Day.

This time we’re taking on a much bigger thing though, something that practically rivals OMD in fan-backlash and hatred. The Ultimates 3. The sequel that everyone hates and no one seems to want to defend.

Well I’m here to bring you a different look at Ultimates 3. A more clear minded vision of it. I won’t be randomly bashing it and screaming curse words, like most of the Marvel fans. Also, this won’t be like Comic Report Card or any kind of review. No, this is more just me saying my opinion on something that’s stuck firm in the minds of Marvel fans.

Before I even give my opinion on Ultimates 3, I think I should delve into the previous volumes of the popular Ultimate title. For one, as I’ve said in a previous post as to why I read comics, I’m not a big fan of Brian Hitch (I keep forgetting how exactly to spell his name anyway…) and it isn’t his fault necessarily.

Whenever I say I don’t like his artwork on a forum, people usually take that as meaning that I hate his work and think it’s horrendous. While really, I think he’s a fine and good artist, but his style simply doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t care for his deeply realistic and somewhat gritty style. It’s not that I don’t like his art because it sucks, because it doesn’t’, I don’t like it because it doesn’t appeal to me.

Now as to the story…I tried reading Ultimates 1…I really did. I sat down in my Barnes and Noble and opened it up…after reading about 2 or so chapters into the first collection, I was bored to death with it. Now I’m a big fan of Mark Millar, I think he’s great, but I just didn’t care or enjoy his work on Ultimates.

So there you have it. I already didn’t like the first 2 volumes, now coming in to volume 3, there was only one reason I was interested: Joe Madureira.

I was a big fan of his through the 90’s and have always favored his style. He paved a way for a new generation of artists, similar to artists like Marc Silvestri and Todd McFarlane. He’s the reason I bought issue 1, he’s the reason I’m sticking with this series.

Now I figured…hey, I could just do a Comic Report Card on the previous 4 issues, right? Well no, that wouldn’t be very fair because my point as to enjoying Ultimates 3 has nothing to do with the storyline. I will repeat this for you, I don’t like the storyline. I hate the character work. This is, in every way, a poor and uninteresting storyline.

I’m not even going to go over the characters, because their all emo ass-wipes that make me hate comic books. Seriously, characterization is so far off and out the window that it’s jut a joke. It’s like a bad long running joke.

There you go folks that were your 2 minutes of bashing.

While I know the story is, for the most part, weak, I have to give credit where credit is due. Jeph Loeb is really writing the Wasp well. From issue 1 she’s her usual strong willed and caring self and Loeb characterizes her perfectly. He’s writing Ultimate Wasp a hell of a lot better than Bendis is 616 Wasp.


But really, art is everything to me when it comes to Ultimates 3. If not for Joe Mad, I wouldn’t have even considered this book. But I saw those amazing preview pages and I just couldn’t resist. It’s too good to miss out on, for me at least.

I love Mad’s work so much that I got both the Black and White variants. Their awesome, I keep them on the nightstand by my bed and look at them every once in a while. Their that good. Seriously.

I got the Frank Cho Slutty Witch (Or is it still Scarlet?) variant for #3. I really am enjoying the art work that much. It’s nothing short of amazing.

So that said, while I agree with the unanimous “Story sucks!” I disagree that it’s all that bad. There are some okay moments here and there, Wasp is great and the art is spectacular. And that, my friends, is Ultimates 3 from a different perspective. I can’t wait for more great Joe Mad art tomorrow!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Andrenn Channel

Welcome to the very first ever edition of The Andrenn Channel, our latest little fun nugget in New Age Comics with Andrenn. Now unlike Collection Spotlight, we’re going the route of Comic Report Card and keeping with a more random “whenever I can get one of these done” schedule. Though I may eventually try for a bi-weekly schedule if all goes well.

Here, I get to play the big TV Channel owner, and I make up my own little channel of all my favorite shows of all time. We’re talking cartoons, sitcoms and the whole shebang baby. No stone will go unturned with my history with Television.

Obviously nothing X-rated will appear here, so don’t worry about that.

I had a lot of ideas with what show I wanted to open this with…Scrubs maybe? No, too easy…King of the Hill! Eh…maybe another time…oh, how about Spin City? The board agrees to review Spin City for the Andrenn Channel.

First let’s get some formalities out of the way, there is a bit of a code of conduct here similar to things like Comic Report Card. First I talk about the show in general, then some of its characters, main or not, we close with a “Why it goes on the channel” of sorts.

Plot Discussion:

The plot to Spin City is a fairly simple one. Our main character is Mike Flaherty. We’ll just call him Mike to make things easy. So Mike is our main character, and he’s the deputy Mayor of New York City. Randal Winston is the Mayor, but this show looks more at the man behind the man who runs the city. One of the big gags through the series is how the Mayor is “Surprisingly relaxed for his big of a job.” This is obviously poking fun at how elected officials are really just one part to the political staff machine.

Mike struggles between keeping the Mayor’s approval ratings afloat and balancing a social life. Mike is the kind of guy who can spend days at his office, and that is very much the thing of subject through the series.

At the beginning of the series Mike is living with a long time girlfriend, Ashley, no doubt to balance the lacking social life the character has. But she only lasted a short while until she mysteriously left the show, leaving Mike’s love life to be one of his biggest, and more comedic, struggles.

The show deals with several hot topics through the times, from gay marriage to Native American rights, several aspects to the political viewpoint are tackled. Though we see these issues handled in a comedic light, that doesn’t really offend so much as it entertains. The show may deal with hot topics, but it doesn’t go the Carlos Mencia way about it.

Mike would leave when Michael J. Fox had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Though he stayed on a little while longer as the character of Caitlin Moore was introduced to balance with him, he would end up leaving shortly after this. The way in which the story ends is incredibly well done, in which Mike takes the fall for the Mayor who accidentally gets tied to a Mob Boss. The final 2 episodes are a perfect blend of comedy, character moments, and just the right amount of sadness without it becoming down and depressing.

Unfortunately, though Mike was off the show, the show was still as popular as ever so they called in to do another season and keep it going. Taking Mike’s place was Charlie Sheen, who played Charlie Crawford. While the final seasons with Charlie where both fine and had good blends of comedy and seriousness, the magic was gone and the final episode was much weaker than the finale Mike had.

Characters:

Mike Flaherty

Actor: Michel J. Fox

To sum the character up, Mike was a work-a-holic who loved his job and loved working with Randall Winston and his staff. He was courage, smart and a fairly nice guy. Mike is not without flaws through the show. For one, he seems to care little if at all about his love life really and is more obsessed with keeping the Mayor and everyone else happy. Though he tries, his social life usually bombs half the time.

Mike also has his moments of anger and frustration that has a negative affect on the staff. Most notably James, who looks up to Mike as a mentor. Mike has a strong connection with every member of the staff, but his most notable connection is of course to the Mayor, who becomes like a father to Mike.

Throughout the series, we see that Mike isn’t always as smart as he thinks he is and that his courage sometimes gets him into hot water. Though usually he can pull himself out of the fire before he gets burned. Mike is a great mix of nice guy with bad moments and responsible public official. His character has the most memorable and funny moments that stand out the most throughout the entire series.

Michael J. Fox does an amazing job here and honestly, outside of Back to the Future, this is show has some of the best work from his entire career. While the character of Mike is both flawed and sometimes over-calculated, Fox makes sure that the character is never unlikable or annoying to the point that the audience wouldn’t enjoy seeing his character on screen.

Randal Winston

Actor: Barry Bostwick

Though his name is Randall, we’re going to call him the Mayor since that’s his main title throughout the entire show and that is how he is addressed most of the time. The Mayor is a fairly good guy, but he’s often very oblivious or foolish to very simple things such as when he offends the gay community.

He seems to be more relaxed then one would think a mayor to be, and that’s the main joke to his character, he hardly really does anything compared to Mike. He’s more the face of the entire staff whereas they do all the grunt and dirty work. He gets to do all the fun stuff, but surprisingly, he stays fairly humble and nice about it.

Where the Mayor really shines is when he’s on stage and he is battling an opponent like Nancy Wheeler or the Press. He has several moments that are both inspiring and that shine easily as much as some of the best Mike Moments.

His scene where he tells Mike how he is the son he never had, how proud he is of him, and that he loves him, it’s one of the best moments of the series and really hits a high emotional level with the viewers as it should. Bostwick, like J. Fox, does an amazing job as his character.

Carter Heywood

Actor: Michael Boatman

Carter is a gay African American man, something he prides himself in as he is a strong social rights activist and combats things like waste dumping to discrimination. He’s easily the most politically active outside the office and the most outspoken of all the staff. But as brilliant as he seems, Carter often tends to overindulge himself and sees himself in too bright of a light, glossing over things such as his faults often. He comes off as pretentious and snobby even, but for the most part, he has a good heart that just isn’t always in the right place at times.

At the start of the show he is brought in by Mike so that the gay community can have a voice in the Winston administration and because Mike “Loves his attitude” as Carter promises to make Winston’s life a living hell. Despite this, after a few episodes, Carter comes into enjoying his time in the office and befriends the administration he once demonized.

Despite his somewhat indulgent side, he seems to be the voice of reason often around the staff and is often sought for advice from most people. Carter at first seems to resent how people ask him for advice, but comes to love it and thinks himself as a big help around the office and really appreciates it.

Paul Lassiter

Actor: Richard Kind

Paul is the annoying loudmouth of the staff, often he lets things slip out which shouldn’t, and is forced to be kept in the dark on several things. Despite this, he is appointed as press secretary, something he prides himself on and eventually comes to feel it’s the thing he was meant for.

Paul is also a serious cheapskate, despite having a good salary and not needing to be, he scrimps and scrimps so much that he never even buys a real lunch. He hates buying groceries and is mortified at spending even somewhat over 10 dollars.

Despite Paul’s negative aspects, he has his good moments and is seen to be a nice guy who just doesn’t always mean to do stupid at times. He really tries not to mess up, but it just seems hard for the poor guy. So we are mixed with sympathy, and frustration of this character. Richard Kind does a good job at establishing and keeping the image of Paul strong.

Stuart Bondek

Actor: Alan Ruck

Stuart is a perverted, rude, foul mouthed man whom is basically the typical “Perverted dude” that people joke about. He is very open about his love of pornography and bad habits. He mocks the pain of others and often torments Paul with pranks and insults. Though usually this image is never lost, at times, we do see a softer and nicer side to Stuart.

Really, the most notable thing about Stuart was in the Mike Finale, how stoic he was to Mike leaving the office. Just when it seems he’s about to start crying at losing his best friend, he gets up, says goodbye before he can show a sign of weakness. He’s the typical man in every sense that he likes to be seen as tough, untouchable and in his mind, attractive.

Caitlin Moore

Actor: Heather Locklear

Caitlin, though she showed up later on in the series, can be seen as the main female lead of the show and clashes the most with Mike, the male lead. At first she tricks her way into the administration by pretending to be a stupid uneducated fool of a campaign manager that Mike can manipulate. As soon as she’s hired, she shows her true colors as a strong willed well educated politician and the clashing begins immediately.

Following her introduction, her and Mike struggle for attention over the Mayor and control over the staff. It’s all comedic genius, but after a while, a sexual tension begins to build between the two and at the Mike Finale, their a couple and seem to be fairly strong as far as a character couple is concerned.

Caitlin is very strong willed, often upset if she doesn’t get her way and very controlling over the situations that she is in. That seems to be the main reason her and Mike clash so much, both like being the strongest person in the room with the most power. But when Charlie comes along, she is seen in more of a crude light and ignorant of being kind or caring. Though this image soon dissolves, it’s confusing.

Charlie Crawford

Actor: Charlie Sheen

What better character to close this Character part to this than Charlie. Coming in to replace Mike, just like with the audience, his inception as a replacement was not well won with the characters. If anything, this was more of a set up for Charlie’s character Charlie Harper, on Two and a Half men. The two are incredibly similar, the definitive Player archetype.

He gets more women than he can count in a 22 finger convention. Every night he beds another women and that seems to be his main thing that is played through the series. It’s played off as a “gift” of sorts and it does get him in trouble. But when the time comes that he and the character of Caitlin get together…it’s done incredibly awkward and confusing and makes nowhere near as much a sense as Mike and Caitlin.

Though Charlie Sheen never really fit quite well into the show, he did well with what he could and was an all right replacement for Michael J. Fox.

Why it goes on the Channel.

Spin City makes it onto the Andrenn Channel for its great use of political humor and balancing the right amount of plot and character moments. Never does the plot interrupt a good character moment or are the characters to busy with themselves to advance the plot of the episode. To put it best, Spin City is comedic genius. Despite the final seasons missing the Michael J. Fox magic, they still make for enjoyable watches and are fine. Though still, if there where any reason we are adding Spin City to the Andrenn Channel, it’s for Michael J. Fox and the other great characters. This is one of those shows that sticks with you and you never forget about it and some of its greatest moments. It easily earns a spot here at the Andrenn Channel and I am happy to add it as the first show on the programming of the Andrenn Channel.

So there you have it, I know it took a while to write up but I finally finished it. Now don’t expect Andrenn Channel all that often, maybe once or twice a month. It’s a lot harder to write all this up then a simple comic review or Collection spotlight.

Now that was the first one, I’m not sure what the second one will be…I’m thinking Becker. Or maybe Two and a Half Men. I guess you’ll have to wait and see until the next time.

Now since I’ve been kind of skimping on anything but the same old same old, over these next few days I’m going to try out some new article ideas. Tomorrow I’ll post “Ultimates 3, a different take” and on Thursday probably, I’ll talk about who is my favorite current artist in this business. So check in for some new ideas I’m throwing around.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week's End

Yet another week has come to its end already. You know the drill by now; it’s time for a look at the Week’s End.

Comic of the Week: Broken Trinity #2

I’m sure there may be some confusion as to why I chose the comic that got a weaker score as comic of the week. Really, had it been on time, Broken Trinity #2 had the potential to be a Must Have. But though I critiqued it heavily on its faults, I still really loved reading this issue. When I chose comic of the week, it’s more my opinion as a reader than as a reviewer, and to me the comic I enjoyed reading the most was Broken Trinity #2. Also, while it lacks any real actions on the pages, the character work is incredibly strong and there are great moments like how Finnegan talks and how he mocks Jackie. It all makes for a great read with awesome art.

Moment of the Week: Amazing Spider-man #572

I had to go back to the scanner to get this image, but still, I got it. As much as I enjoyed this issue from a reviewer’s point of view, as a reader, I saw through some of the better moments. Though it did help me appreciate the amazing ones like this. Just the idea of Spider-man saying “Bite me” makes me chuckle. Also, Dan Slott really does a great job with Anti-Venom…fingers crossed that he survives #573.

Cover of the week: Broken Trinity #2

Broken Trinity steals with most awards this week. As you can see here, I chose the Marc Silvestri variant, even though I got the second half of the Dale Keown (I know I probably spelled that wrong…) variant. Great as all the covers are for this series, the Silvestri variant just steals the show. He’s such an amazing cover artist and I really liked this image of all 3 of the Trinity.

So that’s it for this week’s end. Nothing really planned for the week, but if there are any big news stories I’ll post them and if I have thoughts about them, those will be posted too. I keep meaning to finish the Andrenn Channel post, which I started a few days ago, but I don’t have much time on the computers nowadays so I get pretty busy. But expect that soon, hopefully sometime this week. Until I post again, have a great weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Collection Spotlight: Spawn Collection volume 2

Part 2 to the epic Spawn Collection Spotlight is here, and though my overall review was less than loving of volume 1, come volume 2 the ball finally starts to get rolling for Spawn and it makes for a great read, though undeniably flawed in some important aspects.

Written: Grant Morrison, Todd McFarlane, Tom Orzechowski, and Andrew Grossberg.

Art: Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo, Marc Silvestri.

Story comments: Volume 2 opens strong with Spawn taking his vengeance at the man who killed him (at least at the time he did) Chapel. This alone should tell you just how the tone is for Spawn by now, gritty, violent, badass. In a sense, everything that used to be cool and loved during the 90’s. Before Marvel and DC ruined it all.

Following this is a more than odd story by Violator to some punk kids. It’s kind of funny to see the contrast here and it’s great to see Medieval Spawn in all his shiny glory, but this story definitely takes away from the momentum building up from the opening story and frustrated me a little.

Following this, with the help of Grant Morrison, we delve into some of the key science to spawn. Things like Necroplasm and all that jazz, it all gets weird, but what writer better to write such a weird story than Morrison?

Here, we get lots of odd things, but I think the part that stands out the most is the first appearance of the Redeemer, who at the time was called Anti-Spawn. Jason Wynn was the original Redeemer that kicked off the trend for 2 others. Here Anti-Spawn makes for a good fight with Spawn, and it’s one of the more memorable battles that Spawn has had, with a strong ending and some cool moments.

Following this is one of the most groan worth “Ugh” ified comic stories I have ever read. It’s some twisted plot of Houdini coming to the future and some…Russian Aliens, Demons? I don’t think they where ever clear just what these things are or where they come from, the only hint we have is that they are, as Spawn puts it “Commies! Commies with Guns!”

Yes, Spawn actually says that in the story. While the story does sort of tie into what was going on with Spawn, with Terry in danger and Spawn learning more control over his powers, this easily ranks up as one of the worst Spawn stories ever. The whole time your eyes will either be rolling or shut tight over what stupid thing you just read.

With that awful storyline out of the way, McFarlane helps return us the one of the key aspects to Spawn, the growing problems through the subplots. Here, Terry’s situation goes from dire to grim in a matter of seconds and it all makes for one hell of a saving grace for the story. After recoiling from that awful Houdini story, this is just what Spawn needed. A more down to earth tale that involves Spawn putting himself on the line with no recognition or thanks really.

One thing I’d like to know by now is that come end of the volume, it’s very clear that Spawn is slipping away into his darker persona. While some may say the catalyst was the brilliant tale of Spawn refusing to help a man get back his daughter, whom later commits suicide over losing her, I feel that the entire Spawn plot build up is a full catalyst for the darker tone to the character.

After Terry gets his ass saved, we have the inception of Tremor, one of the few villains I don’t care for when it comes to spawn. Sure, he has a fairly strong back story, but if not for Marc Silvestri’s great art, this would be a very weak story. Though there are a few good moments at times, for the most part, I found him to be very throwaway to the core of Spawn and its stories.

After this we get another villain premier. By now you should be picking up on that Spawn volume 2 is full of firsts as far as villains are concerned, this was back when Spawn was far more Anti-hero oriented and at least somewhat similar to a super hero comic.

Curse was a freak villain with a twisted origin, but outside of “Zealot and nutcase” he doesn’t stand out well enough to talk much about him, or his storyline. We’re treated to some of our usual badass Spawn moments, like Spawn kicking ass with a big hole in his chest, which is always fun.

One thing that really helps the volume where it lacks in character moments is when Wanda seeks out and confronts Spawn. Her reactions to how terrified she is of him, but how thankful she is…it’s one of her better moments. While it’s a tad annoying at how afraid she is of him, in the end, if you put yourself in her shoes it makes perfect sense. Still, one of the softer, better moments in Spawn. You know, aside from him ripping apart some baddies.

Suddenly after this Spawn takes a turn for the “Huh?” when we’re introduced to 2 abused kids with a vicious father that Spawn tires to help. As much as I love this storyline and have it in my top ten best spawn stories of all time, it suffers from picking up after the Angela mini-series. With only a passing mention of it, people who aren’t at all familiar with this will have a serious case of hanging jaw over what the hell just happened.

Aside from the confusion there though, this still stands as one of the best, and saddest, Spawn stories ever told. It shows that no matter what, Spawn is, deep down, someone who cares and wants to help. It’s too bad that his attempt to help only sinks the children down deeper into hell.

After this we go into, one of my top 5 favorite Spawn stories. After some funny inner monologue (Spawn thinking about his night affair with Angela, and how he “cheated on his widow” makes for a hilarious little moment.) In this story, Spawn takes on the KKK. Now immediately this sounds like it could be the typical “Hero takes on a controversial topic” story like Marvel and DC have done in the past.

Lucky for us, McFarlane does a great job of rooting Spawn’s own issues with racism in his drive to help the family in trouble. It was interesting to find out that Al Simmons was a victim of racist, such a government badass, I couldn’t imagine something like that with him. This was one of the more human aspects McFarlane gave to Spawn for this time.

The end result of the story is both hilarious and heart warming, Spawn turns the KKK leader into an African American, which in turn leads to his fellow Klansmen killing him. But we also get to see a bit of a happy ending as Spawn gives the man who’s family he was helping files that will help him keep both his land and be free from the KKK’s harassment.

Also, I have to note…one of the most iconic images in all of Spawn, the image of Spawn hanging from a tree by his own chains. Very haunting.

Shortly after this, Spawn arrives home to his alleys, only to get his ass handed to him by the second incarnation of the Redeemer. I won’t go too far into the details after this because the volume wraps up around this story. But I will say that it’s one of the more enjoyable stories that involves Spawn’s clash with Heaven, and the twist at the end makes for a fun lead in to later stories.

Overall, the story has some major weak points early on and sprinkled throughout, but it still does a fairly good job of telling a good Spawn story, and that’s really what your looking for in these collection books.

Art comments: While Todd McFarlane and Marc Silvestri bring a strong quality to the art, most of the art is dominated to the once fledgling Greg Capullo. Though by today’s standards, Capullo has reached Legendary status among Spawn fans, his first days where fairly weak. Especially when you add in following after someone like McFarlane.

Though by the end of the volume his art is strong enough to make up for most of his weak opening art, I can’t deny that his first few arcs or so where definitely weak and really took away from the book. Besides the fact that his art doesn’t really come into it’s own until volume 3, most of his art in volume 2 is a definite negative.

Final comments: I’d probably have given this volume a Must Buy if Capullo’s pencils weren’t so weak at fist, and if not for that awful Houdini story that just makes me dizzy from reading it. While a step up from volume 1, volume 2 is not without it’s own crippling faults.

Buy It.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Image solicits for December 2008

With only a couple of hours of Thursday left, I noticed the Image solicits on CBR. I hadn’t seen them anywhere so…I was confused. This was part 2, somehow…I must have missed part 1 and can’t seem to find it. If anyone has part 1, a link would very much be appreciated to finding it. I could then update this post.

here's part 2 of the Solicits.

Spawn #187

Again, a great cover by Portacio. I’m a big fan of the foggy image and eerie tone to the cover. Also great to see Spawn in a bit more of an actual surrounding area, even if it is just him standing on a hill so far. The solicit continues to talk of Endgame and how “shocking” it is. Seriously, McFarlane is setting us all up for an epic disappointment at this rate. I just can’t take these solicits seriously anymore.

Witchblade #123

Holy Shit, that cover certainly grabs me. I guess that’s the Angel of Death that’s killing all the old Jewish guys. Freaky. Also note how it mentions one of Dani’s students being “odd.” Now maybe it’s just me, but I think the student we’re talking about…has the hots for Dani. Seriously, call it a hunch, but I foresee a Buffy like experimental evening for Dani. Either that or the student girl tries to kill her, both will be good.

Wow…so little to talk about…I’d repost the Book of the Dead thing, but honestly, where’s the point? I ordered my copy as soon as I could today and I have to check in a few weeks to see if I can order one with the Raven Spawn fig.

So if anyone has the first half of the Image solicits, it would really be appreciated so that I could add more to this article…anything more would be nice, really.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comic reviews for September 17th 2008

It was another medium week for comics for me. 3 counting Invincible #52 which I picked up today. I want to mention a quick thing about reviews now, see, guys at my LCS know I live Variants so every now and then if they can or remember, they give me a variant cover as to the regular one. It’s one of the nice things they do, anyway, I said that to mention how now whenever I get a variant as opposed to a regular cover copy I’ll show that by that being the cover I post of the comic I’m reviewing. Nothing too important, just wanted to quickly mention it.

The Amazing Spider-man #572

Written: Dan Slott

Art: John Romita Jr.

Opening comments: Last week’s issue was a huge drop in quality for ASM. I honestly came into this issue with low expectations, but then again, I’ve never liked Bullseye as it is. Outside of killing Elektra, I can’t think of one even tiny interesting thing Bullseye has done as a villain, I was especially happy when Warren Ellis crippled him, and saddened when Ellis undid the act. But luckily, Dan Slott doesn’t make the character of Bullseye our only focus here and keeps things interesting.

Story comments: Last issue was a manic mess of back and forth insanity. Nothing about it was entertaining really or worth a read even, but this issue veers away from that into a straight forward story again. Even though we cut to Norman in his old “Lab” we still see how it ties in to Bullseye attacking the Coffee Bean.

The opening moments of Norman in the Thunderbolts HQ is good, but with the revelation of Freak being kept under lock and key, things finally get interesting. Freak has been a fairly big waste of space through Spider-man, but Slott finally finds a use for the character. I have to say, it’s one of the more creative things I’ve ever seen used on such a sad excuse for a villain.

So we’re pretty much confirmed that Menace is Harry. While there is still some room for it turning out to be Lily or someone close to Harry, I’m pretty sure that the mask is off this Menace.

Also, we get a good moment from Peter comforting Lily, she comes close to…I’m guessing kissing him or something. It’s kind of funny in that old cartoon kind of way. I should note that Slott is finally making good use of the character Lily, this arc she seems to really be nicely fleshed out as a character.

So the Thunderbolt soldiers along with Bullseye attack the Coffee Bean in search of Spider-man. Slott puts his odd use of the Spider-tracer in his chest to good use this time around. While it sounded weird last week with Norman’s reasoning, the idea of having the soldiers have special weapons that actually target Spider-man’s chest…very cool, very nice touch.

Enter Anti-Venom, whom gets put to better use this time around than last issue. Seems he’s already wised up a bit with his aid of Spider-man. Slott is proving how well Anti-Venom can play the hero game, and I like this side to Eddie Brock. If Anti-Venom survives New Ways to Die (which, sadly, I don’t think he will) then there is major potential for him.

So the climax of the Spider-man/Bullseye fight is pretty creative. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect out of Spider-man. He doesn’t win his fights from throwing a bunch of punches or shooting the bad guys up, he uses creative ways that keeps him out of trouble and the villains in jail.

The final moments between Spider-man and Anti-Venom are, again, very well done. Little things like Spider-man saying “Bite me. (Unless of course, you’re still doing that.)” To Anti-venom for wanting an apology. These interactions really shine and boost the issue up more.

Then we cut to the set up for the final chapter in New Ways to Die. Norman is in full Goblin suit again, and the reaction from Radioactive Man and Songbird is priceless. We end with Venom getting tricked out in his old Scorpion duds ready to finish the fight next issue. Really, the look of Venom wearing the armor looks stupid as all hell, but I don’t’ mind it.

Slott really pulls through this issue and delivers a good read that sets up the final issue nicely.

Art comments: It would seem Romita Jr. is back to his A-game as well. I’m not sure if it was Slott’s messy script last issue, or Romita’s art skills really, but his art gets a huge boost here. Everything looks so much better than last time, especially Spider-man and Anti-Venom. Heads don’t change shape like usual, and hair stays where it’s supposed to. I’d dare say that his rendition of the Green Goblin rivals his father’s masterful work. Yes, Romita Jr. really does that amazing of a job here.

Final comments: I’m tempted not to give it a Must Have. Great as this issue is, it still leaves worried over the final issue. Slott has tied up most of the aspects to New Ways to die, all that’s really left is Menace and Anti-Venom. Now as to Anti-Venom’s death, for one, the BND “yearbook” in the December solicits has “Censored” under Anti-Venom. There is a good chance that will be revealed to say “R.I.P” and while I’m hoping he makes it through, I’m pretty sure this is the end for old Eddie Brock.

5 out of 5

Must Have

Broken Trinity #2

Written: Ron Marz

Art: Stjepan Sejic and Phil Hester

Opening comments: in the beginning of the month I said how the delay on Witchblade was no problem because it was so great. That a comic with such amazing art and character work is still great despite its delays and how much worth it is despite the month’s delay. Unfortunately, Broken Trinity is an event comic and I can’t be as lenient with it. So this issue definitely suffers already from the delay.

Story comments: This issue is mostly Jackie and Sara catching up. That’s the main focus of this issue, Jackie Estacado being back in town and visiting Sara and Hope. While it’s something we’ve been waiting for since First Born #3, it’s a little entertaining and that’s it. I do like the character work here with Jackie as he interacts with the infant.

It’s a fun moment and Dani’s entering it only makes it more enjoyable, but it’s flawed to say the least. It’s really something that should have happened in the pages of Witchblade, not a big summer event comic.

Skipping ahead a bit, things finally get interesting when we return to Frosty-er…Finn…or whatever in the hell hi name is. Truth be told, I couldn’t care less about this guy and Marz doesn’t do a very good job of bringing me into his character and making me care.

By the time all the characters, the Trinity of Top Cow included in this, show up, I think Marz makes one very important thing apparent: He understands these characters. I know it may sound odd, but when you look at how some writers write all their characters similar, in the sense that they all have the same manner of speech and how they interact al sounds the same, it’s refreshing to see how Marz gives each character their own unique voice in this comic. I’d love to see what he could do with a book like New Avengers or Justice League.

This issue all feels like the second half of issue #1, where #2 would pick up from here as the conflict builds. Marz didn’t seem to think Broken Trinity needs that much action in its first 2 issues, and with only 1 issue left, I’m figuring that Broken trinity will fall flat. Too bad, while this is an entertaining read, it’s also a fairly pointless read that fills the gaps to the conflict next issue.

Art comments: By now it should be no secret that I’m a huge Stjepan Sejic fan, he’s an amazing artist and I really enjoy his work. But Phil Hester’s break downs, which Sejic paints over, just really work beautifully. Hester reigns in some of the messier side to Sejic’s painted work, for one example being on baby Hope. She actually looks like a baby now, and thank Hester for it. Outside of that though, Hester doesn’t seem too apparent in these pages as much as Sejic is. That’s not a bad thing though, his job was known to be guy behind the scenes anyway.

Final Comments: While it’s a fairly okay read, with some great character work, what really makes this worth the while is the art. If not for the amazing art, I’d be tempted to give this a Pass It as it really isn’t all that interesting. Still a good read with some incredible art though, Check it out.

3 out of 5

Check It.

Invincible #52

Written: Robert Kirkman

Art: Ryan Ottley

Opening comments: I’ll get this out of the way fast, I have indeed read Invincible in the past. I started shortly after it had been around for a little over a year. What exact issue though, I can’t remember. A friend of mine had told me about it, said he enjoyed it, so I decided to check it out and I enjoyed it. For the last few years me and Invincible have had an on/off thing going. I eventually decided to leave for good after issue #41, it was just going way to slow and boring for me and I was tired of it. Though I came back last issue, and enjoyed it, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick this issue up or not. But since last week all I’ve heard is nothing but love and praise for this issue. So I decided to check it out, and you know what? Invincible is finally back on the pull list.

Story Comments: Usually I’ve found Invincible to be a fairly stuffed comic each issue. With strong character moments and great action, while this issue has both, it’s a lot shorter than what I’m used to with Invincible.

The Mauler Twins are causing trouble in a missile silo and it’s up to Invinciboy (*chuckle*) to save the day. One thing I really liked here is what Kirkman does with these fairly throwaway villains, he doesn’t have them as the typical “rule the world” villains. No, he goes for the much more clever “control the world” plot. Something I found very fresh compared to what both DC and Marvel are putting out with their villains nowadays.

Well Kid Omni-Man shows up, and like a domino that hits the next one, everything goes wrong. A missile gets launched and Invincible has to go stop it, so Kid Omni-Man is left to stop the Mauler Brats and accidentally uh…kills them. Yeah, just like that, by “accident’ he kills them. I can understand that he doesn’t’ comprehend all his powers but…seriously? How did he not think flying through the guy would kill him? Eh, either way, it makes for some sweet sick moments.

Following this, the 2 super brothers have a heart to heart that is, again, incredibly well written from Kirkman. Characterization is spot on in this issue and Kirkman just does a great job with the dialog at the end of the issue. He’s really knocking it out of the park with this issue and I’m hoping this means Invincible will be back on a hot streak.

The final page of course leaves to be a big “OMG” moment. I won’t spoil it but I was surprised, to say the least, to hear that Mark isn’t as squeaky clean as he always tries to be. To see that sometimes his mind does ask the question “Why don’t I just kill them, they won’t cause trouble then?” and I have a good feeling that this will lead to big things down the line for Invincible.

Art comments: I would usually not have anything to say about Ryan Ottley’s work here. I would write off “He’s a solid artist who does a great job” but he does so much more than usual. I’m not sure if maybe he’s got a new inker or colorist or something, but his art really comes off as crisp and great this time around. I mean seriously, this looks to be some of his best work ever, it’s nothing short of stunning.

Final Comments: While Invincible is still at a somewhat slow pace, tackling sub-plot one story at a time, this issue marks a real return to form for Kirkman’s Image baby and has sold me on buying the book again. Also, I’m really digging the new suit, as much as I like the old one, I like this one easily as much.

5 out of 5

Must Have

So this week was a fairly strong week. I feel I may be getting too lenient with Must Have’s…but really there where some amazing reads this week. Nothing planned for tomorrow so check in Friday for the next Collection Spotlight.