Thursday, December 8, 2011

Moving the Blog

If you're reading this, then congrats, you've been cool enough to follow my blogspot page. Thanks for sticking with it and making sure this whole page wasn't just me talking to myself. Sadly, I'm abandoning this old page and doing my reviews from my Tumblr blog. Hopefully I'll update on a more regular basis there. So what are you still doing looking at this page? It's over. Go to the Tumblr page. Don't give me that look, you're being weird.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Definitive Batman

2008's The Dark Knight might just be the best comic book movie ever. It took a character who has been in so many movies of varying quality and finally got it "right". Finally, grown-up fans of the character and even their less indoctrinated peers could see the character done right; a lone, bitter warrior fighting back against the corrupt individuals that infected his city and killed his parents. It also grossed absurd amounts or money at the box office while remaining pure to director Christopher Nolan's vision. I can proudly say that this is one of my favorite movies ever. Still, I will stop just short of calling it one thing; this is not the definitive version of the Batman.

That brings up a very important question: What is the Definitive version of Batman?

Actually, we don't have to go far to see another really great interpretation of Batman that is just as valid as The Dark Knight. In 2008, the very same year that gave us Nolan's Bat-masterpiece, the Cartoon Network premiered Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a cartoon about the adventures of the Caped Crusader and various other heroes from throughout the DC Universe. While The Dark Knight was a great piece about the self contained world of Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold showed off how Batman can work in a big shared universe. This is a Batman who works with Aquaman, The Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, and everyone in between. Also, while The Dark Knight showed us how he can be a dark, brooding character in a very serious world, The Brave and the Bold gives us a Batman who is still a serious individual, but this time in a goofy, fun world that feels like it's sprung up right out of the Silver Age of Comics.

Both of these Batmen are very similar characters; they both have all the gadgets and they both fight crime so that no one else ever has to go through the tragedy they've endured. The difference between the two is the world they occupy. Nolan's world is grounded and serious. It's one that any adult can enjoy without having to hide it. Batman: The Brave and the Bold's world is one that your kids can enjoy and that a good deal of adults might not want to own up to enjoying. Both versions are well written and stay true to the very foundation of the character. Still, I don't think I can stop here and say that this is the definitive version of the Bat.

Let's stick to the year 2008 and take a turn to the Batman comics book. At this time Grant Morrison was still early in his ongoing Batman saga and he'd just gotten to the first big story of his tenure, Batman R.I.P. This is a story of Batman facing the ultimate evil; the leader of the Black Hand, a man claiming to be Bruce Wayne's father, Thomas Wayne. The build up to R.I.P. and the story itself draw much from Batman's long history, even using material from stories deemed to childish or fantastic to actually work in a modern Batman story.

One of the most prominent themes Morrison has run with is Batman as a concept. Batman and Robin follows the exploits of the original Robin, Dick Grayson, and Bruce's son Damian as the Dynamic Duo. Bruce Wayne is presumed dead throughout the sixteen issues of the book that Morrison penned, while the last couple of issues came out simultaneously with The Return of Bruce Wayne, which saw Bruce falling through various periods in time, each time becoming the Batman of that period. Each and every example I just noted tells the story of Batman in a different manner, but each one sticks to the key elements of the character. All of this leads into Bruce's return and the beginning of Batman Incorporated. Batman Incorporated follows Bruce as he travels to world and begins to deputize various individuals as the Batman of their region. The entire point of this run is that even Bruce Wayne isn't necessarily a defining characteristic of Batman; he can work in any setting. This is the closest of these three examples to what I could call a definitive Batman.

With that I think I've come to my point: there really is no definitive version of the character. Batman is just such a versatile character that he can be applied to almost any kind of story and situation. He can be serious, dark, and brooding. He can be a goofy, corny guy who spouts out silly one-liners. He's been portrayed by such actors as George Clooney, Adam West, and Christian Bale as well as lesser known actors like Diedrich Bader and perhaps most notably by Kevin Conroy.

Even Batman's greatest nemesis, the Joker, lacks a true definitive portrayal. Heath Ledger will certainly be remembered by many as the character, but there are many versions of the character that are just as important. Mark Hamill's portrayal of the character in various movies, tv shows, and video games is one that me and many of my peers will always remember. He's played the role for nearly two decades now, which means he's been in some of the most memorable Joker stories of all time.

Even within the comics, writers such as Alan Moore, Dennis O'Neil, Ed Brubaker, and J.M. DeMatteis have contributed to a long list great Joker Stories that shaped or analyzed the character in one way or another. Another important point of Grant Morrison's Batman run is that the Joker is a character who can be constantly reinvented. Maybe he's a psychotic mastermind who wants to best Batman or perhaps he's a crazed anarchist who wants to watch the world Burn. He could even just be a goofy criminal, simple as that. As long as that key element of the clown motif is there, then you can try anything you want.

Even the cast of characters Batman surrounds himself with is never really solid. The only two real mainstays are Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon, and even then what role do they play? Is Alfred simply Batman's loyal servant or is he Bruce Wayne's surrogate father figure? Is Commissioner Gordon Batman's good friend or just a man who turns to caped crusader in his time of need. Maybe he has a Robin, maybe he doesn't. Who fills the role of that Robin? Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, or perhaps even Jason Todd. Is there a Batgirl? Is Catwoman an enemy, an ally, or a potential love interest? Is he a member of the Justice League and if so, how active a member is he? All of this changes over and over depending on the creative team.

The definitive Batman doesn't exist. Batman is a character who doesn't have much to define him outside of "vigilante with a bat motif." That's such a flexible idea that it really works well in just about any story you could think of. Nolan's The Dark Knight is just as valid and true to the mythos as Batman: The Brave and the Bold. As long as he's a crime fighter sworn to avenging his parent's death by striking fear into that superstitious, cowardly lot, then it's definitive. The limits of what that means lies solely in you imagination.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Justice League #1: 52 Thoughts on the First Book of the New 52!

It's finally here! As of today, DC's The New 52 begins with the release of Justice League #1 from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. So here I am wondering what I'll do with this since everybody else on the internet already seems to have read this issue and reviewed it already. Instead, I'm going to reread it and post up 52 things I find interesting about this issue. Let's get to it!

1: It's already been said that this takes place in the early days of the DCU, so it's kind of cool to see this series beginning with Batman getting chased down by the GCPD.
2: The second page is a nice big splash page. Almost makes me want to go reread Batman: Hush. Keyword there: almost.
3: Thought I'd get a better look at the details of Batman's new threads here. Outside of the bat gauntlets, no dice.
4: While I'm on the topic of Batman's costume, I'm kind of steamed that they got rid of the Batman Incorporated costume so quickly. I was really enjoying that look. It feels like it's been squandered.
4: There we go; a nicer look at Batman's new costume! It looks a bit similar to the Arkham Asylum costume.
5: Also, holy crap, batman's got tiny little rockets in his glove. Nice.
6: Bwoof is an odd sound for a helicopter to make.
7: First time I read this, I thought that was Killer Croc in the cloak.
8: Yes Batman, fire your grappling hook through his calf muscle!
9: Bwoooooooshhhhhhh is probably an appropriate sound for whatever this thing is to make.
10: Look out Batman, it's a robot!
11: Suddenly, Hal Jordan! With the Fire Truck! On the Rooftop!
12: This scene would be infinitely cooler if this were Killer Croc and Hal was throwing a green rock at him.
13: It'd be a pretty big rock...
14: Hal is surprised that Batman's real. Yep. The space cop thought Batman couldn't be real.
15: Also, Hal's shoulder pads look dumb.
16: You'd think the cops would know better than to fire at a someone in glowing green spandex with a magic space ring. Not that they'd know it's a space ring...
17: Looks like this is gonna be a Batman and Hal team-up issue.
16: Seriously, we just got through a Flash and Batman team-up in Flashpoint. Has Geoff Johns been watching a lot of Batman: The Brave and the Bold lately?
15: It also almost makes me want to reread All-Star Batman and Robin because Batman and Hal meeting was the basis of the single best issue of that series. Keyword there: almost.
16: Uh-oh, the robot isn't quite dead.
17: Man, no wonder Gotham cops are so corrupt; they don't have a great track record with staying alive, so they might as well make as much as possible why they live.
18: Dammit, it's "CRASH" not "KRASH"!
19: And the robot gets away as by turning into a spider looking thingy.
20: Okay Hal, just shut up. That's not what a transformer looks like and that's not what a dog looks like. Your track record with describing things is terrible. Remember Larfleeze? You called him Gonzo when he clearly looked like Alf. How are you this dumb?
21: And now Batman's mocking Hal. Stupid Hal.
22: Y'know, on the one hand, nice to see that Hal's helping out, but on the other, leave some of those fires to the fire fighters. That's their JOB.
23: Actually, can green lantern construct water to take out the fire? Does that mean there's going to be green construct puddles after all of this?
24: "...Green Lanten can handle anything." Geez Hal. Ego much?
25: Batman has a power Hal. It's called endless wealth. Also, he's Batman.
26: Oh look, a NEW 52 checklist. I'm seriously only buying about 1/4 of these books at best.
27: Just like ASBAR, Batman totally stole Hal's power ring. Now Hal's angry.
28: And they found the "dog" it looks like it's vomiting kirby dots.
29: Oh look, the "dog" is fusing a box to a wall. huh.
30: "For Darkseid!" Hmmmm? I wonder what THAT could mean.
31: And the "dog" blew itself up, probably because Hal called it a dog.
32: Darkseid: a band, a death cry, or an evil space god? YOU DECIDE!
33: Yes, this box must be related to Superman! I mean, they're both from space, right?
34: Batman: "Let's be careful around Superman. He seems pretty dangerous." Hal: "Pfft, screw that! I'm the Green Lantern!" Yep. This is gonna end poorly.
35: Meanwhile, at a Highscool football game... wait, what?
36: Oh, right. Cyborg's origin story. He's really good at foot ball.
37: Aw, his dad didn't show up to the game. Nothing is sadder than an athlete looking to see that reserved seat empty.
38: And everyone wants a piece of Vic Stone. In fact, the only way for him to not make it into college is if he ends up getting turned into a crime fighting cyborg. Oh, wait...
39: "Hustle, Hit, Never it!" Varsity tag?
40: Poor Vic just wants his dad to see him win the big game.
41: Also, why the hell is he using a payphone? Is this set back far enough that cellphones weren't widespread yet?
42: Also, what the hell Vic's dad? Your kid's future as a pro is at stake and you can't take off for one night to sit down and help him figure out which college to sign him up with? You suck at being a parent.
43: "Man, Look at him, Vic's got it made." Yeah, what with the neglectful father, not even showing up to his game or taking the time to help him sort out his future.
44: It's a bird! No it's a plane! Wait, yes. It's a plane!
45: Man, Green Lantern really sucks at being inconspicuous.
46: "Well, you can't fly..." Yes, Hal. You have a point. I mean, it's not like a guy who can afford an impressive costume like that would have the money for his own jet or anything.
47: Oh hey, they're at a Lexcorp building and there's a hole in the side. It's either Superman or one of the countless monsters that Lex Luthor keeps making to kill Superman.
48: "I can handle this!" PUNCH! THOOM!
49: Hey, it's Superman! And he's looking and acting really cocky. Oh boy.
50: And the issue is over! Next issue: Batman vs. Superman!
51: Not a bad issue, really, but not something I'm gonna come back to month after month. It's decompressed to the level of a Bendis Avengers book. I'll wait for the trade to read more.
52: Oh hey, bonus art! Man, the Green Lantern outfit looks worse here. Superman, on the other hand, looks much better. Those red gauntlets add a lot of needed red to the outfit and the cape attaching directly to the big S-shield is pretty cool. The final product is pretty lame in comparison. Aquaman isn't too shabby, either.

And, that's it! 52 thoughts for the first of the New 52! Not sure if I'm going to do this every week, but I thought it'd be an interesting thing to do instead of just a straight up review. Like I said, the issue isn't bad at all, but if every issue is this decompressed, then I'll stick to the trades. Still, I am looking forward to Batman, Action Comics, All-Star Western, and Blue Beetle. Hopefully the good titles get to stick around.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Season 1 Review

Writers: Chris Yost, Brandon Auman, Keven Burke, Chris Wyatt, Michael Ryan, Paul Giacoppo, Joel Sellner, Eugene Son, and Brian Reed

Directors: Vinton Heuck and Sebastion Montes

Starring: Brian Bloom, Chris Cox, Phil Lamarr, Eric Loomis, Gabriel Mann, James C. Mathis III, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Fred Tiasciore, Rick D. Wasserman, and Wally Wingert

The history of cartoons based on Marvel comics is mixed bag of super hero cartoons. From older cartoons that weren't that well animated, to cartoons in the 90's that weren't that well animated, most of the shows made before the year 2000 just weren't that good. Even cartoons that were a beloved part of many fans' childhood, such as the X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons from the 90s, just haven't aged too well. Still, in recent years a few gems have emerged, such as X-Men: Evolution, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, and Wolverine and the X-Men. These were series that not only had great animation, but were also well written, fun shows that any animation junkie can enjoy.

Last year, The Avengers got a new series called Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The series follows the Marvel Universe's greatest team with a very classic line-up of Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Black Panther, and Hawkeye.

Now, right out the door, this show is a little tough to get into. The team doesn't actually form until the seventh episode, with the first five episodes being introductions to the various team members with the sixth and seventh episodes telling the story of how the Avengers came together. These are a rough seven episodes, with Captain America's episode being the strongest of the first five and the two-parter being just alright.

Things pick up a bit over the next few episodes as the team begins to get some more interaction. One of the things the writers really got down well is how the Avengers are very flawed individuals. Iron Man is the cool jerk leader whose ego often gets the better of him. Ant-Man is a good natured scientist, but is a little too hesitant to take action at times. Hulk and Thor are both a little too violent.

The writers also do a great job of putting some conflict in there with these characters. Hulk and Thor are quite stand-offish in the beginning. Iron Man and Thor will often argue about just how useful earth technology is. On the flip side, there are times where the conflicts can be a little cheesy, with the worst offender being a mid-season episode where Iron Man and Cap have an argument over whether having a well trained body or technology feeling a little weak considering that these are both rather intelligent men.

Perhaps the biggest strength of this show is just how well it was planned out. While the first seven episodes aren't very strong, they each have elements and plot points that carry throughout the first season and that pay off so well in the long run, with a few future threads hung out there to boot. It really helps that there is such a wealth of stories to draw from, with elements from the comics and movies.

For the truly nerdy at heart, there are also some really cool easter eggs thrown into the show. One example is James Howlett (aka Wolverine) being in the Howling Commandos in the Captain America episode. At another point, Hawkeye jokes that the Avengers should move to the West Coast. It's things like these that show that the writers really care to show that they know the base material well and intend to use it to the fullest.

If the show has any real weakness, it's that it may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone. This is a very stylized series. Still, designs are very close to the original looks of their comic counterparts, save for Iron Man, who looks more inline with his look from the movies and Wasp, who sports a completely original design. Of all the designs, my favorite is Ant-Man, who has a really cool costume that uses the classic Ant-Man design when he shrinks, and the Giant Man design for when he grows into a giant.

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is an all around great cartoon. After the initial hump, which pays off later on, the series really picks up and shows it's stuff as perhaps the finest Marvel cartoon yet. If you love the Avengers, or even just cartoons in general, give this series a look. It can be found on Disney XD, Marvel's website, and on Netflix Instant Streaming.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comics I Like: 8/03/2011

From the depths of the internet, it's COMICS I LIKE! August is here and that means we're reaching the end of the Summer. It also means we're a month away from the DC Relaunch. This week, we've got comics, comics, and more comics. We also have some manga! So let's get started:


Batman: Knight of Vengeance #3

Writer: Brian Azarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso

Batman: Knight of Vengeance has been quite the wild ride. This alternate reality tale where (spoilers)Bruce Wayne died and Thomas and Martha Wayne ended up as Batman and the Joker is a truly tragic tale. Watching the flashback to young Bruce's death is a real heart breaker. Watching the Waynes slowly lose themselves in their attempts to cope with their son's death is crushing. All of it comes down to a final, devastating confrontation where nobody walks out okay. This team of Azarello and Risso have crafted a truly amazing take on this mythos that stands so well on it's own. As good as Flashpoint itself has been so far, this comic by itself stands leagues above it and goes above and beyond what my expectations for this event and all of it's tie in stories.

Secret Six #36

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: J. Califiore
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Just like Batman: Knight of Vengeance, Secret Six was an ending that made me sad. Over the last three years, this has been hands down one of my favorite team books coming out of DC. As the story draws to a close, we find the Secret Six aiming to take down Batman by attacking and killing members of his "family". We're also treated to 3 small vignettes between, each summing up well how the members have grown over time. Each one sums up nicely the growth this team has gone through over the run of this series: Scandal Savage has found herself some happiness and Catman, Deadshot, Ragdoll have a particularly touching moment where they come to terms with what it means to be friends. Perhaps the best moment is the group realizing that they're at the end of the rope. Their last stand, along with Huntress' little monologue, is a great way to end this book. And it really sums up what I've loved about this book: Sure, these characters aren't heroes, but they are people and most of all, they're friends. Thank you, Gail Simone, wherever you are. This was a really fun ride while it lasted.

Venom #5

Writer: Rick Remender
Aritsts: Tony Moore and Tom Fowler
Inker: Crimelab Studios
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: VC's Joe Carmanga

Okay, this one's actually from last week, but still, Venom #5 is my first foray into this title from Mr. Rick Remender and it's got me sold on this series. This issue, we find our hero (Flash Thompson, Spider-Man's high school bully and the current recipient of the Venom Symbiote) actually not doing much work as Venom. He takes out some weird fly person at the beginning of the issue, but for the most part, this is a story about Flash Thompson's relationship with his dad, which is an abusive one. Reading this one tore at my heartstrings, and if you've ever had a loved one who was addicted to substance abuse, it'll resonate with you too. Reading about how Flash's life was affected by his father's alcoholism and just what he went through in his attempts to earn the love and respect of a man who didn't seem to keen on giving it is crushing. It's a harsh issue and by the time it's over, I don't see how anyone won't feel a little choked up reading it. (What is it with me and heart breaking comics this week?)

Amazing Spider-Man #666
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Letterer: VC's Joe Carmanga

Enough of this sad stuff; let's get to some good ol' fashioned comic book fun. If that's what you want, look no further than Amazing Spider-Man. Issue #666 is the Prelude to the Spider Island event, where New York comes down with a case of Spider Power fever. This issue is comprised of small scenes showing off just how awesome Peter's life is lately. There's a great mix of the Peter Parker and Spider-Man parts of Pete's life here, so there's not too much of one half. this is a nice little issue that gives us one last little breath before the storm that's about to take us through to November begins. Dan Slott's run has been nice so far, but this is the first big test as this is the first major story arc we'll really have. This will also be the last time I talk about this book on the blog until Spider Island ends. I want to see how it plays out entirely before I really voice my opinion of the entire story.

Hulk #38

Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Colorists: Bettie Breitweiser and Jim Charalampidis
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire

Forget the Blob: nothing can stop Jeff Parker's run on the Hulk. Not even a mediocre event like Fear Itself can slow this series down. Yes, this is yet another great issue in Mr. Parker's great run on this series. This issue, we've got the Red Hulk getting his butt kicked around the the Hammer possessed Thing and MODOK and new Hulk baddie Zero/one teaming up together to kill Nazis. Not once does this event tie-in issue slow down because of it's association with Fear Itself. This is a plot that just keeps on soldiering along, even if it has to acknowledge that something big is happening across the Marvel Universe. So I salute you, Mr. Jeff Parker; not only are you writing two amazing books, but you're doing so despite the fact that they're being tied into one of those pesky event books.

Indie/Creator Owned

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #2

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips

Okay, so this one isn't from this week, but if you're not reading Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, then you're just really bad at comics. Yes, the creator owned series from the team of Ed Brudaker and Sean Phillips is back and I've decided to take the dive and give the series a shot. This series follows the tale of a man who wants to kill his wife so that he can get out of his marriage while still remaining rich. This is a really great tale of what drives a man to kill and it's fascinating to watch the depths of underhanded, mean things that are accomplished. Mixed into it all is flashbacks done in the style of old Archie, but with much more vulgarity mixed in. And just when you think you're done with the issue, unless you've been reading this series for a while now, you'll find yourself surprised to learn that each and ever issue features a fascinating little essay in the back. So for the price of one comic, you're getting a great comic and a great essay. Why haven't you purchased this one yet?


Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Vol. 1

Writer: Kenji Kuroda
Artist: Kazuo Maekawa
Translators: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Letterer: North Market Street Graphics

One of my favorite Nintendo DS games is Capcom's Ace Attorney series. Sadly, the latest title in the series might not get distributed in North America, which really sucks. Still, I managed to find a bright side this week, as I came across this at my local comic shop this week. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, from Kodansha comics is just the fix I need, providing new stories set in the world of the games. It even follows the formula of a game in the series. Every case has twists and turns in it, each a little more complex than the last. Also like the games, the first case in this manga features poor old Winston Payne as the prosecutor who just can't seem to build a solid argument. Another great things about this book is the art.

Artist Kazuo Maekawa does a fantastic job of making this comic look incredibly close to the art in the games. She even does a great job of working well with the tiny details in images. One great example in the first case is a very important detail in a cellphone image that ends up proving the defendants innocence. This is exactly the kind of thing you'd find in the games themselves, and this team of writer and artist really did a great job of crafting a story that fits in perfectly with the games. Another nice part of this comics is a section that gives some translation notes: it's nice to see the translators explaining that Japanese and English aren't perfectly compatible and explaining who and why they made some of the changes they made. There is one part of this manga that left me scratching my head: the Honorifics Explained section is nice and all, but it's unnecessary when this thing doesn't even keep the honorifics in the dialog (which again, runs true with the games).

Overall, this is a great book and belongs on the shelf of any fan of the Ace Attorney series. Even if you haven't played the games yet, give this one a shot; you may like what you read. (You might also be interested in previous manga releases "Ace Attorney: The Phoenix Wright Files" and "Ace Attorney: The Miles Edgeworth Files").

That's it for this week (and some of last week) in comics. Come back for some more reviews next week and maybe even a few more surprises (like me posting at all!) I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately, so I think I'm going to post up a big ol' review of the first three seasons. I've also got to get back to posting Webcomics I Like; I've really been slacking off on those. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comics I Like: Procrastination Edition!

Hey, look at the time! It's REVIEWING TIME! Sorry for procrastinating on these so much lately, I've really been getting distracted by my 3DS. Between replaying Super Mario 64DS and Cave Story and finally playing Ocarina of Time (I'm ashamed to admit that it's taken me this long to play this game), watching Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (Which I will do a large review of when I'm all caught up) and Doctor Who (not so much reviewing this one, but I am loving it), I've distracted myself a little too much to do these little reviews. Still, here I am, with a bunch of comics I've been reading. I'm even dipping into non-creator owned stuff with this post! So let's get to it.


The Goon #34
Writer and Artist: Eric Powell

It's been quite a while since the last issue of The Goon came out, so it's really nice to have this series back. This issue, Powell tackles the Twilight phenomenon in one of the best introductions to a comic I've ever read. He really does a great job of satirizing the Twilight style vampires and even provides us with a cover that I'd love to have on a T-Shirt.

But, oh, Twilight is only the beginning, as the Goon decides that it's time to take the fight to the source itself: tween girls. Yes, for too long we've had to sit by and watch these young lasses flood the airwaves with terrible things like Twilight, the Jonas Brothers, and dozens of other terrible, horrible forms of entertainment that no one should ever be forced to endure. Powell tackles this subject with his usual style of crude humor and he does so very well. If you haven't been reading The Goon, give this issue a chance. You won't be disappointed.
Verdict: BUY IT

RASL #11
Writing and Art: Jeff Smith

Much like The Goon, it's been a little bit since the last issue of RASL hit. Unlike The Goon, this isn't a one-and-done story. Still, this is yet another solid chapter in Jeff Smith's latest book. This issue has a really neat, trippy sequence in it, too, as our hero finds himself disconnecting with reality as a result of his travels between alternate timelines. If you've been reading this series so far, then you'll really be intrigued by the big event of this issue.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend this issue to new readers. If you haven't been reading this one, put out the money for the large hardcovers or the paperback pocket edition. Otherwise, you'll really find yourself confused with what's going on. Still, I do recommend that you read this series, because RASL is such a good read. Don't miss out on it.


American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Pat Brosseau

I have a confession to make: I haven't been reading American Vampire. I'm ashamed of myself. It's got one of my favorite artists, Rafael Albuquerque, providing art that's finally getting him noticed and it's apparently an amazing read. So needless to say, I took this opportunity to get started on the series with American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest. This miniseries follows two of the characters from the main book as they go on a mission to take down Nazi Vampires before they can be unleashed onto the battle field. So we've got secret agents fighting Nazi Vampires using guns that fire wooden bullets? Awesome.

Sadly, regular series artist Rafael Albuquerque isn't providing art on this miniseries. Fortunately, Joe the Barbarian artist Sean Murphy is providing the art. Needless to say, said art is fantastic here. Heck, this may be a case where I pick up a series more for the art than for the writing. Considering how fantastic the writing is on this mini, that's really saying something.

Verdict: BUY IT

Marvel, DC, and Everything Else!

Sonic The Hedgehog #226
Writer: Ian Flynn
Artist: Patrick Spaziante and Tracy Yardley
Inker: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letterer: Matt Workman

First up on the Non-independently owned side of things is Sonic the Hedgehog, a comic that I'm actually jumping back onto. This issue is the first part of the Sonic: Genesis story line, in which writer Ian Flynn hits the reset button and sends the story back to the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. Needless to say, this issue is one huge nostalgia trip as our hero traverses the Green Hill and Marble Zones. Long time fans won't lose too much, as Freedom Fighters Sally, Antoine, and Rotor join him in his adventures. The story is light and fun, which is great because fans old and young alike will find themselves enjoying this one.

Perhaps the strongest element of this comic is the art, which is great. Spaz and the other artists really do a great job of bringing the classic games to life, bringing back some of the classic designs. This works especially well with Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik himself, who is back to his orignal design. Every page is like a window into my childhood, where I spent hours in front of my Sega Genesis playing old Sonic games.

If you're looking for a nice piece of 90's nostalgia, give Sonic the Hedgehog a shot.

Verdict: BUY IT

Batman: Knight of Vengeance #2
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso

Of all the Flashpoint tie-ins out there, I'm only reading two different series. Of those series, Batman: Knight of Vengeance is far and away the better of the two. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that this is the best event tie-in series I've ever read. The story revolves around the Flashpoint timeline Batman as he searches for the Joker, who has kidnapped the children of Harvey Dent. The big twist of the issue is just who the Joker is, though I actually saw it coming by the time I was halfway through the issue. Still, just the way they reveal the Joker's identity and just what the Joker does at the end of the issue is powerful enough that it still pays off.

Mr. Azzarello really does a fantastic job weaving this story of a darker, older Batman and the fact that it's Thomas Wayne who fights to avenge Bruce's death makes this twisted image all the more intriguing. I think what I love most about this story is that you could actually remove the Flashpoint banner as this could stand alone as an Elseworlds' title. You don't need to know why this world is the way it is and you don't need to know that this Batman is helping Barry Allen fix this dark reflection of the DC universe. All you need to know is that this is Thomas Wayne a man who lost his family that night, who now fights crime as the Batman.

Verdict: BUY IT

Amazing Spider-Man #665
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Inker: Michael Babinski
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: VC's Joe Carmagna

Finally, we have Amazing Spider-Man #665, the final issue before we start huge Spider Island storyline. This issue focuses on how Pete's new chapter in life affecting his tradition of taking in crappy movies with his good friend and former love interest Betty Brant. Sadly, Pete's new job and his membership in the Future Foundation and the Avengers, on top of his regular Spider-Man duties keep him from taking part in their favorite passtime. So when Betty decides to take in a movie she really wants to see by herself in a bad part of town and ends up getting mugged and seriously injured, Spider-Man goes on the hunt. Add in some touching moments in the main story and the back up and you get and this issue isn't too shabby.

Still, this isn't the strongest issue of ASM, and considering how close we are to Spider-Island, that really makes this issue stand out even less. It's still a good issue, just not a very strong one. That being said, the art in this issue is great. From that lovely cover up there (easily my favorite cover of the week) to the lovely interiors, this is a pleasure to look at.

Verdict: BUY IT

So that's it for now. I'll be back Thursday or Friday with a few of my favorite issues from this week, too. I'll also be back within the next two weeks with my thoughts on the first season of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. For now, however, I'm going to go get some sleep.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

5 Nintendo 3DS games I'd love to see.

So I haven't been posting much lately. Part of that is because I've been spending so much time playing my Nintendo 3DS. Sure there's really only one game out for it right now (The Legend of Zelda 3D), but It's a fine enough game that I don't mind for now. Plus, we're still very early into the life cycle of this handheld's lifespan and there are a handful of games that I can't wait to get my hands on. Super Mario 3D, Star Fox 3D, Cave Story 3D, Mario Kart 3D, Metal Gear Solid 3D, and Kid Icarus are all strong looking titles that will (or should) be coming by year's end and each one looks like a title worthy of your hard earned cash. On top of that, titles like Luigi's Mansion 3D, Megaman Legends 3, Super Smash Brothers, Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, and Animal Crossing will be coming out sometime in the future. And with the Virtual Console and DSiWare titles already available for download, (at cheap prices, too boot) this is a console that many could spend countless hours on.

Still, since it is so early in this system's life cycle, and since I've actually had the opportunity to see what this little handheld is capable of, I've decided to toss together a list of 5 titles I want to see. Here's that list:

Pokémon Snap 3D
Back in 1999, I got my Nintendo 64. The first game I got for it was Pokémon Snap. To say that I played that game would be an understatement, becaue I played the hell out of that game. So why would it make a great 3DS game? Easy; Pokémon Snap is about going on a safari and taking pictures of Pokémon in their natural environment. It's a game that's very light on action and very big on just taking in the area around you and interacting with it in various ways to catch that perfect moment with any particular Pokémon. It's such a slow paced series that it's perfect for 3D because you'll be taking in all of the imagery. What's more, the last and only title in the series came out in 1999, when the 2nd generation titles hadn't released yet. With over 400+ critters introduced since then, there are a lot more Pokémon to take pictures of and they'll look great in 3D.

Angry Birds
If you've never heard of or played Angry Birds, then you really are behind on the times. Released about a year or two ago, the title soared to the top of Apple's AppStore in no time at all and has since spread out to every smart phone platform, the mac, and even Google's Chrome web browser. Now, I think, is the time that it made the move over to a proper video game platform and 3DS is the place I'd love to see it. It'd fit right in on the eShop or perhaps even a full retail release. With the ability to download newer course packs through WiFi (much like how Professor Layton games give out weekly puzzles), you can even add a little more life to the title after players have gotten their 3 stars in ever puzzle. And with 2GB of space on the 3DS cartridge, you can include all of the available levels already out and maybe even a few exclusive levels.

Anything Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy saw a wealth of titles on the original DS. With remakes of Final Fantasies 3, 4, and 5, a Tactics Advance sequel, a Final Fantasy 12 tactics game, as well as a few Crystal Chronicles titles, the series definitely had a presence. So what's to say that Square Enix won't do more on the new console. Both Final Fantasy 6 and 7 are ripe for remaking, so why not make them for the 3DS? They could even make a PSVita version and still include any of the touchscreen controls. You could even go a little more obscure (or as obscure as Final Fantasy gets anyway) and remake Final Fantasy 9, which would fit right in on a Nintendo handheld with it's lighthearted look and atmosphere. Actually, while we're on Square Enix's JRPGs, Dragon Quest IX was a fantastic title on the original DS, so a new title on the 3DS would be a welcomed addition as well.

Ace Attorney
Much like Pokémon Snap, the Ace Attorney series is one that would make great use of 3D, as it's a title that isn't as action oriented as other titles. Instead, it's more of a point and click type game, with each case requiring you to track down evidence from various areas involved in the case. So needless to say, this is a series where you' d really get to take in the setting and appreciate how the 3D makes the scenery around you really pop. What's more, allowing the player to examine the evidence in 3D would be a really neat use of the platform's abilities, too. You really could get a great game that uses the 3D well.

Super Mario World
Finally, out of left field, my final pick is Super Mario World. Mario's premier on the Super Nintendo is to this day one of his most beloved adventures. Let's bring that experience back with the eShop's 3D Classics line. Imagine viewing moments like Mario climbing up to the Yellow Switch Palace, or the final battle with Bowser himself in 3D. I am and trust me, it's beautiful. Heck, if Nintendo wanted, they could even give the game a proper 3D remake and add in some new levels. I for one wouldn't complain. Alternatively, they could do the same with Super Mario Brothers 3, as that is another one of the best entries into the series and it is the suit where the Tanuki suit (which is coming back in Super Mario 3DS) made it's first appearance. So either way, either of these games getting a 3D makeover would be a very welcomed addition to the 3DS family.

So there we have it, 5 games that I'd love to play on my Nintendo 3DS! I liked making this list a whole lot, so maybe I'll do some more video game related posts in the future. Though I have to get back to updating this thing on a regular basis as it is already. See you next time and until they, hit me up with your thoughts; what would you like to see on the 3DS?