Monday, August 31, 2009

Andrenn's thoughts on Disney buying Marvel

Another thing to add to the list of why I'm so cynical and have no faith in the world. We can put this right between Glen Beck and the Birthers on that list.

On one hand I feel like Marvel sold out. They gave a big middle finger to all their independence and free will and sold all of that away for money. I hate that. I really do. One thing I was happy about Marvel was that they didn't have to answer to any higher power or worry about if the big wigs upstairs cared if they killed a certain person off or not. It gave them a quality that DC could never hope to match as far as what they can and cannot do. Now they've sold that away and it pisses me off.

I do hope that this means Marvel will no longer have to keep rebooting all their damn comics to try and get new readers. Maybe it can even mean that Marvel can do some more adventurous projects without the fear of losing a ton of money. That's about the only plus I can find in this though.

In the long run I still feel pissed off. Like a friend who had been working hard all his life finally gave up and decided to take his parents' check and not have to work hard anymore and just lounge around after all his previous hard work. It's sad to see Marvel get so lost like this and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a major quality drop over the next few years.

Maybe it's just me being a fanboy, but I can't help but wonder if my father would feel the same way. He'd probably be just as pissed and I wouldn't blame him. This feels like a slap in the face to all that Marvel has done over the years and it's a damn shame.

With all that said I'm going to go play Arkham Asylum and pretend that I'm throwing Batarangs into Mickey Mouse's forehead.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batman and Robin #3 Review

I was going to avoid going to the comic shop this week with only one comic awaiting me but since I had to be downtown anyway I figured what the hell I’ll pick up Batman and Robin #3. Sorry for the lack of posts this week guys, next week should be more eventful.

Also this is basically me editing my review for the Revolution into my style here. I decided that rather than posting the same type of review from there here, I’ll just change things around to my regular style and throw in some images from the comic still.

Also a quick mention, I might be able to review Batman: Arkham Asylum sooner then thought! I can't say much since it's just a possibility but fingers crossed folks.

Batman and Robin #3
Written: Grant Morrison
Art: Frank Quitely

Opening Comments: Batman and Robin closes it’s first story arc and I was on the fence if I would enjoy this issue or not. While we had a very strong debut chapter I can’t deny that the 2nd issue last month wasn’t too impressive for me. Hopefully Morrison can win me back and sell me on the most prominent of the Batman Reborn titles.

Story Comments: Morrison definitely won me back this time around with Batman and Robin #3, turning in a much more exciting and enjoyable read. This issue had a solid balance of character work and dialogue and great action. Something this series will hopefully excel at as it progresses because sadly this isn’t a norm in comics.

I was very happy to finally see Dick over all his past frustrations of becoming Batman. No more crap about how he hates the cape, it’s all behind him and I must say he makes a great Batman. His line of “I’m Batman” after nearly killing some guy for answers just had me rooting for him to kick ass. I’m almost feeling a throwback to All Star Batman where Miller portrays the younger Batman as more violent and brash. Thought I’m not sure if that was intentional of Morrison or not.

I’m not sure but it did seem that Damian has gained more respect for Dick. He seemed shocked that he was saved by him and no longer seemed to have doubts on working with him. If anything this issue did a great job of strengthening the new dynamic duo and showing that this isn’t such an awkward team after all.

While I do have a complaint about Pyg, Morrison did do a good job of showing us this guy is absolutely nuts. I can’t tell if half his babble was interesting and important or if half of it was nonsense that Morrison wrote down when on an acid trip. Either way it was some pretty crazy stuff and actually fun to read just how nuts this guy is.

This issue’s pacing was very solid. Last issue definitely suffered in the pacing because one moment we got solid action but suddenly we changed to a more somber simple discussion and it was almost jarring. Here however the dialogue and action blend seamlessly together and with that Morrison weaves a great story in one issue even while continuing plot developments from prior issues.

Jim Gordon got some nice moments, mostly it was great seeing him pissed off at Batman again. I almost laughed at how this seems even closer to earlier days of Bruce as Batman with the two clashing momentarily. Still I’m hopeful the two can come to an understanding, I can’t blame Gordon for clashing with Dick’s dangerous tactics.

I mentioned this in my Streets of Gotham #2 review but now I’m certain that this is indeed something the writers are all doing by having Dick be more aggressive. He’s got a lot on his hand, Black Mask, Two-Face and a lot more while Pyg and other villains are coming out of nowhere to add a lot more stress to Dick’s role as Batman.

In other words it couldn’t be a worse time for Dick to become Batman. He’s got villains coming at him from every side and it makes sense that to keep them in their place he’s going to have to be a lot more aggressive and violent if he wants to not drown in his own spilled blood. He’s got to fight hard and take them down fast so there’s no time for stalking the shadows and being careful. He’s got to be brutal if he wants to stay alive and I like this twist a lot. It’s brilliant.

Of course I have to mention Damian who has been great so far in this series. Morrison has done a great job of evolving the character from his annoying brat persona that he had early on into a more interesting and manageable hero. Sure he’s more brutal than even Dick is being but it makes sense. Also with how things are going a dangerous Robin is perfect to be Batman’s sidekick.

Also of course it’s funny seeing how Damian insists on being his own Robin. Not doing things like Tim or Dick would have. He works well with Batman but also can handle things on is own. It’s a nice contrast to what I was expecting and it fits the character very well.

I did like the plot of Pyg trying to poison Gotham and hold it for ransom a bit. It’s not an amazing twist and it’s not big stretch of the imagination but for the most part it gave Batman and Robin a great disaster to triumph over and keep Gotham safe and that’s exactly how you want to start a new dynamic duo out. Give them something major to conquer and once they’ve conquered it they will have a lot more respect from the readers. Hopefully this arc will have helped with the transition of people who can’t accept that Bruce isn’t Batman right now.

My biggest complaint for this story is Pyg. While as I mentioned I liked his evil plot and it was funny reading how crazy he is at the same time I don’t really feel he’s a credible exciting villain yet. While I’m not looking for the next Joker it’s no use having a crazy guy who we see can do evil things if we don’t really see him cut loose. Morrison has developed the character nicely but now it’s time to unleash him on Gotham! Since Pyg really was a contained villain this issue, I was disappointed that he didn’t really get to go wild. Hopefully another time.

A quick mention about Pyg’s dolls, I find those to be the creepiest minions in a long while. Those things top any creepy looking robot and almost feel like something that walked out of the Silent Hill series then put on some make up. It’s messed up.

Now for the cliff-hanger with Red Hood, I have to say that even though I saw it coming that Red Hood would recruit this girl and that we all knew he was going to show up next month that Morrison did do a good job of ending this issue off with a cool show of how badass Red Hood is and making me excited for more next month.

Morrison finally won me over with this series and made it a permanent stay on the pull list. While DC may be messing around with Streets of Gotham, Batman and Robin is definitely going to be the Batman book to be reading this year as well as next.

Art Comments: While I’ve never been a big fan of Quitely’s art I have been enjoying his work on Batman and Robin. While he still has some weird facial moments and I do thing that he does overdo it sometimes with detail, making some people look like they are made out of beanbags, his work on Batman and Robin has been very impressive and his work here is probably his best work I’ve seen yet.

I can’t deny that I’ve never liked Quitely’s art and this story arc didn’t make me a fan. His art as I mentioned has some brilliant and good moments but he still overdoes it from time to time with the weird detail. Sometimes to the point where it almost looks inhuman. While his art doesn’t have any major glares he still has his awkward moments with the heavy line work.

Final Comments: Batman and Robin is finally reaching the potential this series had from day 1. Morrison has sold me on the series and hopefully will do the same for the rest of you. I highly recommend you go pick up the last 2 issues as well as this issue and get read y for one wild ride after another. Great character work and solid art makes this series a must have for anyone looking for a great Batman read.

Writing: 4 out of 5
Art: 3 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Must Read

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week's End - August 23rd 2009 and Cartoon Review

Another week’s end mashed up with a review of Wolverine and th X-men. How exciting. Now on a side note other than Week’s End, don’t expect a The Week Begins tomorrow, I’ve only got one comic coming in and truth be told I’m not too excited about it anyway. Batman and Robin is losing my interest so I can’t honestly think devoting an entire post just to this one comic would be worth it. I don’t even have a lot to say. So yeah, let’s look over the Week.

Comic of the Week: Streets of Gotham #3

This week had some good reads, Invincible was satisfying and Witchblade finally got closer to the standard I have for the series but I have to give it to Dini’s masterful writing here. He’s really blowing me away with this series and making it unlike anything out there in the Batman Reborn status quo worth reading.

With my review to be posted tomorrow I don’t want to say all my thoughts on it but in the long run I really am loving this series. Story, art, it’s all amazingly well done and if you’re not buying this book I give it the highest recommendation above all it’s brother and sister books.

Runners Up: Invincible #65, Witchblade #129

Moment of the Week: Conquest Alive!

I can’t tell if I like or hate this moment. On one hand, Conquest is alive! On the other hand…Conquest is alive. Cecil should no better by now that this is going to backfire on him and backfire hard. He’s as good as dead one of these days. Still if this mean Conquest can return to kick all kinds of ass in the future I may not be so bothered by this.

Runners up: Peter is alive too!

Cover of the Week: the Astounding Wolfman #18 Frank Cho variant

A series I’ve been considering picking up in the collections lately that sure has had some awesome variants over the last few months. I don’t know where Robert Kirkman is finding all these artists who want to do all these cool covers but damn it’s awesome. I especially like this image of a classic 1940’s horror scene by Frank Cho. If it where in grainy black and white is the only way it could look better.

Character of the Week: the Penguin

I’m sure some may be surprised to see the Penguin of all people winning a week when we had great moments like Eve at Rex’ funeral and Mr. Zsasz and his crazy vision. Though there was something about how Dini wrote the Penguin with how he narrates at him being in the bottom of the barrel and how he needs to pick himself up. You just feel for the guy and that’s hard to say about someone who can be as cruel as Penguin.

Runners up: Atom Eve, Mr. Zsasz, the Chameleon

Artist of the Week: Stjepan Sejic

Not a lot of artists really stood out to me and blew me away this week like I expected. While we got some good to decent artwork I have to give it to Sejic just for standing out the most and doing such an incredible job on the big epic moments during Sara and Dani’s fight. Some really incredible stuff this week.

Collection of the Week: Dark Avengers volume 1. HC

There where a couple of good collections coming out this week, but if I had to recommend one it’s the first volume of the awesome new series Dark Avengers. Sure it’s got some problems near the final 2 chapters but this really is Bendis doing his best work in years. I give this a high recommendation for anyone looking for some sick and twisted fun with great character work and art.

Wolverine and the X-men
Episode 17: Code of Conduct

You know what? I’m changing this series’ title to “Wolverine and some mutants that follow him around from time to time” because really that explains the entire series. The X-men are minor characters in their own cartoon. I know Wolverine is in the title but come on, this is just ridiculous.

Now as for this episode, let’s start off with some good and some bad. I really dig the effect of Wolverine seeing what happened to someone he’s tracking with his smell ability. It’s a really cool twist for the character and it shows us just why he’s such a great tracker.

On the negative side, I find it hard to believe that the X-men really couldn’t fight of ninja’s. Ninjas for god’s sakes. I know they are all trained hard and stuff so they wouldn’t be just random enemies beaten easily but these are the X-men we’re talking about. They fight demigods and super powerful aliens, they can’t handle some ninjas? I call bullshit.

Now before I go any further I should mention that one of the first X-men TPB’s my father let me read as a pre-teen was the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine mini-series that linked Logan’s past to Japan. I loved that story and this episode is clearly influenced by it with little nods and nudges to the comics which I really appreciated and for the fan in me I was happy.

Though outside of referencing a great mini and some good moments here, this episode’s biggest flaw and most obvious problem with it and the whole damn series is that the writers just can’t seem to understand the X-men part of this cartoon. They seem obsessed with building up Wolverine’s character when really he doesn’t need it, especially after the Mystique episode. If you really wanted to tell this story it could have waited until next season or something.

Now as for the plot, the X-men are captured by Ninja’s so that Silver Samurai can fight Wolverine. We flashback to Wolverine and the Mariko relationship and Wolverine trains with Prof. X’ projection of Wolverine’s old master and Wolverine then beats Silver Samurai in a fair fight after Samurai tries to cheat.

A simple, easy to watch episode but at the same time it comes out of nowhere and with the building plot of the future and everything that’s going on, now is a really bad time to have a random episode like this out of nowhere. It kills any momentum that has been building.

Silver Samurai is his typical jackass self that we’ve all come to know and hate. I seriously can’t see the appeal of this character he’s such an idiot. He deserves to get his ass kicked and in the long run I was happier for it.

I did like the scene of Wolverine re-training himself for the fight. Just a nice moment that does at least give Xavier something to do in the past again when he’s not running from Sentinels.

Though overall this episode was just a mediocre outing. We got no major plot progression and we really just killed the momentum to stop and see a sword fight. How riveting of you, writers. While fans like myself of the classic first Wolverine mini will no doubt get a kick out of it, this episode loses major points for just coming out of nowhere and really contributing nothing major to the series main story. Still as an episode on it's own, it's all right.

Score: 6 out of 10

Friday, August 21, 2009

Solicit Commentary - November 2009

This solicit commentary marks 1 whole year of doing Solicit Commentary, since it was August of 2008 where I did the first Solicit Commentary talking about books such as Ultimatum and the first Batman RIP aftermath. Now lets see just how big a shift there is with November 2009.

Image comics solicits for November 2009
DC comics solicits for November 2009
Marvel comics solicits for November 2009

Image United #1

Gee, I wonder what Andrenn’s most anticipated comic of November is going to be. It must be Streets of Gotham #6, he’s so excited to read the Dini comic written by Yost after all. Oh wait, Image United is coming out and beats the shit out of the competition. Oh well.

An easy decision is how I am so excited to read this. Well mostly look at the pretty art, but I’m hopeful that the story will be good too. This is a huge idea that I’m certain will be worth the 3.99 price tag, that and I’m really excited to see how it will look. I don’t even mind that I’m not a fan of Leifield as I bet his art will look fine along with masters like McFarlane and Silvestri.

If you’re considering not reading this for things like the price or that you’ve never been an Image fan I can’t blame you. Still if you’re looking for a great example of why Image is such an awesome company you can’t do much better than this comic right here. Definitely check it out I say to anyone interested in it.

Haunt #2

I’m more excited for this issue actually than #1 as I worry that #1 will suffer from first issue syndrome like too many comics nowadays do. Kirkman is a solid writer, but if he can manage to actually hook me with the first issue and not wait until the second to do that then I’ll be impressed. Still really excited for this series.

Chew vol. 1 TPB

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this series, it seems to be selling like crazy, so I may pick up the first collection and see what all the fuss is about.

Invincible #68

Glad we’ll be coming back to earth, but I’m curious as to why are we teasing at some big changes. We’ve already got some big changes didn’t we. Also I thought the Invincible Returns one-shot was in November? I guess they pushed it back a month or something. Oh well, it’s Invincible, I’m sure it will rock.

Jersey Gods #9

That cover is laughably silly. I can’t stop chuckling every time I see it. I’m getting a serious Silver Age vibe from it. As for the story, the idea of Zoe on Neboron sounds awesome and I’m sure this will be another awesome issue.

Savage Dragon #154

I’ve been contemplating dropping this series. With the return of Mutant She-Dragon I’ll stay on for a while but I hate to say it that Larsen is really starting to lose me with this title.

Spawn #198

Oh hey, we’re finally going to get a new villain. We haven’t gotten one of those for what…20, 40 issues or so? It’s about damn time. Makes no sense not to give us at least one new villain. As for the design, I’m not keen on all that green but I don’t mind as I’m just glad that McFarlane is finally mixing things up.

My only real worry is delays, seems that #195 is going to be delayed, making me wonder if this will come out on time. Still I’m hopeful since Portacio is a great artist.

Witchblade #132

Uhhhh…spoiler alert? Damn, this is the same shit DC pulled when spoiling the Heart of Hush storyline with their solicits. Seriously, bullshit. So Sara survives War of the Witchblades, has the full Witchblade back and everything is A-ok. Wow. Well at least Sara is alive. That’s one plus.

Blackest Night #5

I hate having things like this spoiled for me, but oh well, the secret is out that Nekron is the big baddie behind Blackest Night. I must admit I’m disappointed that the Anti-Monitor won’t be kicking ass at all here. It would be so great but sadly it seems he’s retired permanently again.

As for this issue by then we’ve reached the halfway mark of Blackest Night one month prior so this is where the real insanity should pick up. Still I’m worried about Johns’ pacing after #2 it seems like things are slowing down quite a bit so to make things more exciting for the second half starting with part 5.

Batman and Robin #6

I’m losing some interest in this series but hopefully this Red Hood story arc can reinvigorate my interest in the comic as I’m really excited to see how Morrison best uses Tan’s talents here. I’m hopeful that he can do as good a job as Tan did on the phenomenal Godslayer but at the same time I have my doubts. Also glad to see that we’ll be getting Red Hood’s identity early on.

Streets of Gotham #6

As I said in my previous The Week Begins I’m losing hope in this series. While I was hooked and ready to be a longtime loyal reader DC needs to understand that pulling this kind of stuff is not ok. That if you promise us a creative team that you’ve either got to stick to it or don’t do it at all. That’s bullshit.

What’s really sad is how they advertised this as one of two books that are written by Paul Dini and they made a really big deal about that and I was happy for it. I guess in the long run they don’t really care though. At least we should be getting some great art from Nguyen, as I do like his portrayal of the Huntress.

Ultimate Comics Spider-man #4

With promises of a big fight I’m excited to see how this will go. Even with a disappointing first issue I remain hopeful for Ultimate Spider-man, and I’m also really curious as to who the hell is that hooded guy.

Captain America: Reborn #5

The epic conclusion I’m not even sure if I’ll be reading. After issue #2 I’m considering just dropping this comic and finishing it in collection format, but I’m going to pick up #3 in hopes that it can win me back as I would really like to enjoy this comic as I’m excited to see what Brubaker can do to bring Steve back as well as how he handles characters like Doom.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #4

This is an odd cover, half of it looks like they are fighting, the other makes me think this is the team working together. I can’t tell worth a damn. Still I am hopeful that by this point the story arc really gets going as with 6 issues on his belt Millar has a little bit too much room to give us a slow build to an epic conclusion.

Amazing Spider-man #611

Can Deadpool do no wrong nowadays? It would seem so by all these awesome appearances he’s making. Finally he’s being written by Joe Kelly again and I can’t wait to read it. I will be picking up this one issue though and will be avoiding the Gauntlet arc.

Dark Reign the List: Amazing Spider-man

Considering picking this up mostly for the Kubert art. I seriously doubt Spider-man is going to get killed, what with the big Gauntlet storyline going on as it is I figure this is more like the epic fight we’ve all been waiting for in Dark Reign which is why I’m really tempted to pick this up. I can’t wait to see Spidey go toe to toe with Norman again.

Dark Avengers #11

That cover is so totally creepy and I love it. I’ve been debating over if I’m going to add this series again, what with Image United coming out I think I’ve got enough on my plate as it is but I’m definitely collection waiting this awesome series. I have high hopes that Bendis can return it to the glory it had with it’s first 4 issues. Also always happy to see a Todd McFarlane cover homaged.

Hulk #17

I just had to take several headache pills before writing what I’m about to put down. Gods how I F***ing despise that piece of shit design for the new She-Hulk. We’re going to pause you’re reading of Solicit Commentary and give you a rant about this god awful design.

So Ed McGuiness designed this look? Are you joking? This looks like something a horny 12 year old would doodle in class. I refuse to believe a groan man designed this. This is an abomination (no pun intended!) of what passes for a character design. Somehow her whole outfit tears everywhere but on her privates, how convenient.

Does anyone actually like this design? I don’t. It makes me feel bad to say I’m a comic reader as this is the kind of negative bullshit that people associate comics with at times and give comics a bad name. Quesada should feel ashamed for even considering it, let alone agreeing to this horrendous gag inducing look.

So excuse me for being pissed off when I see a new female character magically getting near naked to the point where she might as well have lingerie as her costume. It’s getting old, Marvel. I can stand cheesecake and even tolerate short skirts but it’s retarded designs like this that make me feel like smashing my head into my desk until there’s nothing but my lower jaw left.

Mighty Avengers #31

Despite the fact that I’m losing interest in this series again I remain hopeful that Slott can at least win me by the conclusion of the Unspoken storyline. It sounds like an epic as hell story but so far it just isn’t reaching that with it’s first 2 parts, with any luck by final story he can do it. Also that cover is awesome.

Ms. Marvel #47

I will probably pick up this random issue of the series just to see Spider-man actually date a super hero. I don’t think that’s ever actually happened, and if it has, I don’t remember it. Also I don’t count Black Cat as a super hero.

New Avengers #59

I love the premise of Spider-man and Spider-woman interacting finally. Seems Spider-man has had a moment with everyone on the New Avengers but Spider-woman. That along with that Bendis writes both characters well and Immonen draws them even better I would like to pick this issue up, in hopes that it’s more of a one shot story.

Dark X-men #1

Only 2 things could make me pick this up, Mystique and Paul Cornell. I’m glad that Mystique is getting a major role again, and I have hopes that Cornell can write her well, but I don’t mind collection waiting this one.

War of Kings HC

For 40 dollars this one is pretty low on the list of must buy collections. I can appreciate Marvel stuffing in all these random tie in one-shots but why not just give them their own book at this rate? It just seems odd.

Utopia HC

I've heard some good things about this story. the 40 dollar price tag is a bit, but hey I don't mind it if it's as good as it looks.

Wolverine Weapon X vol. 1 HC

Definitely near the top of my list of books to pick up. Much as I hate having to drop this series, I at least can pick up what I’m sure will be a damn excellent read.

Destroyer HC

YES! YES! YES! I was worried that since Kirkman and Marvel aren’t on good terms that they would give this story a simple TPB or maybe even hold off on the collection for a while. I am so glad they are releasing this, and as a Premier Hardcover too. So great. I just may pre-order this one. Can’t wait to read it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Comic Reviews - August 20th 2009

Apologies for late reviews, a few hours walking around in the sun drained my reviewing powers. So much so that I’m going to do 2 Open Fire! Reviews for the final 2 reviews. Also check back tomorrow for Solicit Commentary, also delayed thanks to the heat. It’s totally not my fault.

Invincible #65
Written: Robert Kirkman
Art: Ryan Ottley

Opening Comments: closing the excellent Conquest story arc, Kirkman gives us a deeper more personal and character driven read than what we’ve had for the last few months which makes this a great read with one major flaw still.

Story Comments: Our opening between Mark and Eve basically explains what needed explaining from last time with finding out that Eve’s powers usually have a mental block, but when she feels severe trauma they go into override which I admit is a nice explanation and it does answer any questions I may have had about it.

Mark’s mom has a heartfelt moment about how she wishes she hadn’t pushed him to be a hero. It was a touching and powerful moment for a mother to her son. It doesn’t end well but at the same time it was a great moment and I also liked Mark seeing Conquest’s body. It makes sense that he’d want to see it.

When we get to Rex’ funeral it was the most powerful moment of the entire comic. Especially when Eve tries to say something but she breaks into tears. It wasn’t a moment I really can say I saw coming and it was incredibly well done. Kirkman really moved me with this scene and made me feel for Eve and her sorrow over losing Rex.

We do get an odd moment where as Mark and Eve later get ready to have sex when she zaps his suit to the floor it’s all Technicolor and with rocks and flowers growing around it. An odd twist to show that Eve’s powers aren’t really working right now. Leaves me wondering what’s going to happen to her for her character.

We get some other developments with Langstrom and some guy being controlled by evil Cthulu wannabes. These have both been developing a bit but I honestly couldn’t care about them right now as for now they are throwaway moments.

We get one frustrating development, Conquest is alive and Cecil is holding him captive deep underground so that he can tell him all about the Viltrumite empire. Honestly I have mixed feelings about this, I partially like this but at the same time I find it hard to believe Conquest can heal somehow even with this kind of technology.

We end with Invincible admitting that he will no longer hesitate to kill someone if they threaten his family or his loved ones. An interesting development but to be honest we sort of saw this one coming since #52 last year so I’m not too surprised by this.

For as much as I did enjoy this issue it has one major flaw and that’s that Kirkman gives us more questions then answers. That really hurts an epilogue type story making it a lot weaker since I can not trust Kirkman to just give us a satisfying conclusion to it all. We have more plots developing and we don’t get any real major closure except for that Eve is alive, everything else is still up in the air.

Art Comments: Ottley was his usual impressiveness, but he had some weird moments. Especially with Eve’s lips. One moment their normal size the next it’s as if collagen was zapped into them. It looks really weird, still he really succeeds at showing us some intense moments like when Eve is crying or Mark’s mother is yelling at him, it’s intense and beautifully well done.

Final Comments: While this issue was undeniably not a satisfying conclusion to the awesome Conquest story arc it was still a great read with strong art. Invincible fans should be pleased.

Writing: 4 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Must Read

Batman: Streets of Gotham #3
Written: Paul Dini
Art: Dustin Nguyen

Opening Comments: After such a strong issue last time I was really excited to see how Dini could follow up on Hush taking Bruce Wayne’s place. While this issue is another excellent read it isn’t without one oddity, still this series is looking to be the best of all the Batman Reborn books.

Story Comments: We get an update on how Hush is spending the Wayne fortune to help Gotham City. It’s funny seeing how he’s doing all these kind things to try and make him more untouchable but that doesn’t stop Batman and Robin from kicking him around a bit. I loved the confrontation, especially how Dini continues to write Damian as the over eager violent brat that he is.

When we switch to the Penguin is where I started really enjoying this issue as this where I see the strongest aspect to Streets of Gotham, the character work. Every character that Dini writes has a unique and enjoyable part of them to read that makes them great and makes each character important to the story even if they only get a few pages.

Penguin’s narration was absolutely amazing, I never expected it to be this good. It was really great stuff and we get a good insight into Penguin. Sure we get one too many bird references but for the Penguin I can tolerate them as they work perfectly with his important Narration.

Another character that shocked me at how well he was handled was Zsasz who I honestly have never liked. He’s been a very bland random villain who, while he’s had a few good moments, has been very bland compared to most of Batman’s rogues. Here however we get a F***ed up look into his mind as he sees everyone he meets as dead and brutally slaughtered in red vision. It’s creepy as all hell and even haunting, making him a much more chilling villain than he’s ever been.

When we switch to Hush returning to his old home he’s confronted by Dick and Damian with the Outsiders and some members of the JLA which was a nice twist. They are a board of people Hush has to approve all his spending through, which was absolutely great and a nice twist to keep Hush on a leash without taking him off the board.

It ends with a funny moment of Damian crushing on Katana and the issue ends with Zsasz having killed his tailor and now dressed up all fancy. It was hard not to smile at how Zsasz has become a more credible threat finally and for once I’m actually excited to read about his character next month.

While I’ll admit it was an odd choice for Dini for Hush to be put on a leash, and it did feel out of nowhere, for the most part I did like the twist and for the most part I loved this story as Dini is really hitting his stride. Even though the plot itself doesn’t have a lot it’s more the character work that makes this book so amazing.

Art Comments: Nguyen is a great artist and he fits the comic well but he still has a few random problems. Mostly with Black Mask still looking goofy, though not as bad, and once again there was some odd shading. But his art was definitely better than last time and I especially loved his version of the Penguin, he did a great job of showing the somber sad man looking in the mirror but as his narration went on he did a great job of showing us that Penguin is still the confident guy he’s always been. So overall Ngueyn did a solid job here.

Final Comments:in Despite some minor art issues this is undeniably the best issue yet of the young series. Dini is excelling with character work even with the plot not being all that long or exciting. It’s undeniably an incredible read that Batman fans shouldn’t miss out on.

Writing: 5 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5
Overall: 5 out of 5
Must Have

Witchblade #129
Written: Ron Marz
Art: Stjepan Sejic

Opening Comments: As things have been going on the War of the Witchblades arc has become weaker and weaker, it seems Marz finally buckled things down and gave us the action epic that we where promised and it makes this issue a lot more enjoyable for it.

Story Comments: We pick up with the 2 people in Sara and Dani’s life, not much I can really say, just catching up with the supporting cast is all it really is. When Dani arrives at a fortress Sara has made of a bridge is where things get good.

We see that since Sara has the dark half of the Witchblade she’s able to summon Darkness demons which was cool. Though just when the battle gets heated the Angelus show up to back up Dani, a nice twist and development from last issue. The fight starts out with some strong dialogue.

The action is really great here, lots of big clash moments and it’s all handled smoothly and it moves along nicely even though it doesn’t flood the comic and we get plenty of good dialogue moments between the two warring Witchblades.

Sara wins the fight and absorbs Dani’s half of the Witchblade, she then kills Dani as her demon pal tells her to do so. Now I really don’t see any chance of Dani surviving this, unless the Angelus heals her or Sara does it I’m pretty sure Dani is dead. Truth be told I’m not exactly complaining.

Overall this issue was a little bit of a short read but I still enjoyed it a lot. Marz finally gave us a lot of solid dialogue and character work along with awesome action to go with it which is what made this issue so much of an enjoyable read. Still even with that I was a little disappointed by how short the fight did become, still it was a good fight.

Art Comments: Sejic is always an amazing artist and it’s no surprise that his gorgeous work looks great both with the more personal moments between characters and the best part had to be how he really got to give us some cool intense action.

Final Comments: While finally the issue we’ve been waiting for with the story arc almost over that does hurt this issue. Still we get some great development and fin action making this a worthwhile enjoyable read.

Writing: 4 out of 5
Art: 5 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Must Read

Onto the Open Fire! Reviews. For those who forgot, Open Fire! Reviews are basically more condensed and shorter reviews that are usually a few paragraphs at most. Basically me saying the bare essentials of the comic, the good the bad, and finally ending with my usual recommendation system.

The Amazing Spider-man #603
Written: Fred Van Lente
Art: Robert Atkins

After a last issue’s big ending I was excited to see how Van Lente would use the twist. Oddly enough Peter doesn’t even show up until the final page, making the entire comic all about the Chameleon and his crazy machinations to play Peter for a day and get close to do his job of helping some terrorists.

Van Lente writes a chilling Chameleoon as it is but what makes it better is how Chameleon really messes around with the people in Peter’s life. Being a jerk to MJ, seducing Michelle (and her now loving Peter, which should be a fun twist on things) and calling the now crippled Flash puny. It was sick yet at the same time so bold that I loved it.

My only real major complaints where that the points with Jonah as mayor continue to be boring as all hell and the twist that Peter somehow survived an acid bath thanks to his webbing just really doesn’t make much sense. Though I do give Van Lente points for poking fun at Fox News’ “Obama is a socialist” crap. That had me in stitches.

The art was all right, not as good as Barry Kitson or Mario Alberti but it was done well enough to work with the plot. But the art itself was just so-so. Overall in the long run this issue wasn’t too much better than the last one but it was at least an enjoyable read and the Red Headed Stranger arc is a very enjoyable story so far.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 3 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5
Check It

The Mighty Avengers #28
Written: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Art: Koi Pham

I’d have to describe this issue as okay but not much else. Some okay character work and mediocre art make this issue of Mighty Avengers a rather bland read. The fight we where promised doesn’t really happen, Scarlet Witch just sort of smacks the Young Avengers around for a page and then Ronin shows up at the end.

Pham’s art was a mixed bag this time around, while near the end he started doing a good job other moments where really muddy and weak. I’m hopeful that he’ll be replaced and put somewhere different where maybe his art can be used better because it’s not working for me here.

I did like some moments with the Unspoken part of the plot and we got some great moments with US Agent but that’s about it. This issue wasn’t too strong even though it wasn’t too bad. I don’t give it much of a recommendation unless you’re a big Avengers fan.

Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 2 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5
Check It

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Batman Video Game Retrospective Part 2

Welcome back to my retrospective of the past of Batman in video games. If you missed it last time, I’m going over the majority of Batman in video games.

With the new Millennium we’ve gotten quite a few new Batman games and you’d think that as time progresses Batman games would get better and better. Sadly it seems after Batman Forever that Batman wasn’t going to have as wide an array of great games anymore.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)

Based off of one of my favorite animated films of all time, it’s odd to see that while this got a video game other Batman Animated films didn’t get a movie. Mask of the Phantasm would have made a great video game, and who knows what else could have really worked well.

Sadly I haven’t gotten a chance to play this game. After some Youtube clips I can see it looks like a standard N64 game with some meh graphics and basic gameplay. This is fairly disappointing but what makes it worse is that Ubisoft, a fairly competent game company developed this. Sure their nothing really all that great but they can do better than this.

Batman Beyond’s first video game was also it’s last. With any luck we may see the futuristic Batman saving the world sooner than later. It’s a dream, but you can’t blame me.

Batman: Chaos in Gotham (2001)

A simple looking Gameboy Color game. I honestly can’t say much on it but I’m mentioning it as it seems to be the first game with Batgirl as a playable character. With a few copies up on ebay for about 10 bucks, I’m tempted to pick it up just to see if it’s a worthwhile game. Also I’m curious to see if the two main protagonists’ gameplay differ at all.

It’s based around Batman: the Animated Series and that boosts my desire to try it out. Sadly it sounds like a fairly simple beat ‘em up game, as if Batman doesn’t have enough of those by now. While I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at least a decent game for now I think it’s a safe bet to just check it out if you’re really itching for some Batman handheld.

Batman: Gotham City Racer (2001)

Batman…got a racing game. My mind just blew up. I’m sorry but when I think characters that could have a cool racing game, Batman is about the last character that comes to mind. While I’ll give them credit for trying something different than the typical beat ‘em up, this just….wow.

Batman Vengeance (2001)

Seems 2001 was a busy year for the Caped Crusader in video games. This was the only home console one though and much to my surprise it was based off of the Batman animated series once again. I appreciate that it seems the developers did an all right job adapting Timm’s designs again.

The graphics look laughably bad even for being 8 years ago as the designs are flat and bland. Also character animations are pitiful for the what the systems could accomplish at the time. I know these where the earlier days of the last generation but for a PS2 game this looks like something the N64 could pull off.

Many of the voice actors from Batman: The Animated series reprise their roles and they do a good job as expected of them but with the poor character movement it sort of spoils the good voice acting. The story also doesn’t seem half bad and even is okay.

This game has received fairly mixed reviews, some have enjoyed it and I can see why as it looks like an all right game as far as controls and gameplay are concerned. Though it had it’s detractions such as a lmited amount of what you could do and a poor camera.

While this was the first major console game of the new millennium (Return of the Joker being a mediocre movie game after all) it also seems to have been the best so far seeing as the next few games didn’t really improve much if anything.

I’m tempted to at least check it out for Gamecube or something as it looks like a solid game. Also it’s probably real cheap by now, especially if I can find a Used version.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)

Much more panned by it’s critics, this game really doesn’t look all that interesting for me. While the graphics look to be a lot better and the story sounds fairly good the game has been described as boring, repetitive and with an even worse camera. I’ll be avoiding ever picking this up and I suggest you do the same.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2004)

Returning to being more based around Batman the Animated Series, this game has been fairly mixed when in comparison to Dark Tomorrow. Rather than go with the Joker or Ra’s Al Ghul for the main villain we get Sin Tzu, some brand new guy out of nowhere that never really becomes a worthwhile or interesting villain.

The graphics are a lot better, while still a bit bland, and the character animations are miles ahead. Amazing the kind of leap they created in 3 years. The story was also much better and the voice actors from the Animated Series returned as they once again turned in good work.

Still with such mixed reviews ,some enjoying it and others downright hating it I can’t really say this is a huge improvement over the last 2 games. Also it’s yet another basic beat ‘em up game, by now the fans where dying for something fresh and new as you can only recycle the same formula so many times.

While at least it looks better I don’t think that could justify picking this up over Batman Vengeance which was the very least seems to have more enjoyable gameplay.

Batman Begins (2005)

It’s another damn movie game, do you really think it’s going to be good? After Batman Forever I gave up on there ever being a good Movie Game even from Batman. Now unlike the last few games I have played Batman Begins and I hated every minute of it.

While it’s not as bad or stupid as Batman Forever or Dark Tomorrow it just tries to be so many other video games and fails miserably. It does try to incorporate some more interesting challenges other than running from one point to the other and fighting enemies it doesn’t really do much with what its’ got.

While the game looks pretty good the controls are mediocre at best and handle poorly while the action is boring and I can’t find one single moment from this game that I played where I was honestly having fun. Maybe it’s a little ironic that with the 90’s Batman movie it had an incredible game, whereas with the 2000’s new Batman movie it mad a mediocre game.

I could rant for paragraphs about how this game doesn’t live up to the standard of the enjoyable Batman Begins film but really it’s a typical movie game. That alone should tell you it’s bad.

Lego Batman (2008)

Undeniably a game made mostly for kids, but that’s not a bad thing. In today’s gaming market you either have the hardcore games kids shouldn’t be allowed to play (but their idiotic mothers buy them anyway without reading the rating) or stupid shovel ware crap that could put a kid to sleep. So it’s nice to see a game that meets the youth halfway with fun level design and kid friendly gameplay.

While I’ve only played it a little bit I can tell you that it’s a fun game that I highly recommend if you’ve got kids who love Batman and obviously shouldn’t be playing Arkham Asylum. It’s got very solid gameplay, simple design but it looks good still and even with there being no real story I still think it’s a great game for parents to play with their kids, it’s fun for all ages so even mom and dad can have fun as their kid schools them in how to beat up Lego thugs.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

If you want my in depth thoughts on the game then click here, though this will be more a of a mini review of the demo I played recently.

This is the first time I’ve ever really felt like Batman, all prior gaming experiences while have had their high points as the Dark Knight have never really made me feel like I was under the cowl doing these things that I’ve read him doing over all these years. Everything from combat, to swinging by Batarang and taking out armed enemies feels so amazingly immersive and real.

Of course the combat isn’t perfect, when there are several enemies it’s very easy to get blindsided often but that is to be expected. Luckily you can do more than just punch the baddies, you can also do counter attacks to keep your health meter safe and then perform a combo of punches to take out an enemy nice and smoothly. It handles very well.

Luckily this game is far from a beat ‘em up like what we’ve gotten a little too used to with Batman over the years. While combat is a crucial point to this game even more so is sneaking up and taking out enemies. With the help of your Detective vision in the Cowl you can see armed enemies and take them out from behind which is a really brilliant idea as to how Batman would work. It also is nice to see Batman can’t run in guns ablazing and taking out everyone with little problem. Showing he is a human that has to work methodically.

There’s a wide variety of things you can do, crouch around and sneak while taking enemies from behind. You can down from a gargoyle and pick up an enemy just to drop him several feet to his death. It’s all really creative and fun stuff and it really puts you into the experience.

As far as complaints are concerned I didn’t like how you have no jump ability. It’s odd that Batman can’t jump as it could be a helpful thing when in a sticky situation. Also Batman easily gets caught on something like a chair or a half pulled out door that you’d think he could run around. Rather he gets stuck and runs in place and it looks rather funny.

The voice actors do a great job, as expected of such masters when it comes to their roles. The dialogue is solid and never feels like typical dumb game chatter like what you’d hear in a Resident Evil game or something. It’s all interesting and important stuff that Dini writes well.

As for the designs, I can’t honestly say I like Harley’s new look. I understand it’s more realistic and fits with the darker tone of the game but there’s something that just comes off as stupid about the design. Everything else though with the other characters works well, I especially like Killer Croc’s design.

This is a good looking game that will hopefully impress as much as the demo did and looks to be a must have for any longtime or new Batman fans.

So that’s it for my thoughts/retrospective on Batman over the years in video games. From home computers to Arkham Asylum, even when he’s giving us some total crap Batman will always have a place in the heart of gamers. So let’s go pick up our controls and kick that Joker’s ass!