Cosmic Book News

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Comic Book News

Review: Batman Annual #1

This may not be the first time you have seen Mr. Freeze in the New 52, but this is the issue that you will remember him from!

Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have given this “cool” villain a definitive origin and this is the only place that you will be seeing it! And oh, what a twist they have in store for all the loyal Bat readers! This is not the Mr. Freeze that you all remember from days gone by, this is a man that is far removed from just a second rate villain that pines for his lost love. This character has a depth to him that has never been touched upon before, bringing the emotional and mental states of Dr. Victor Fries both to the forefront and into question. There is a ruthlessness about him that makes him on par with the sadistic Joker, making this “fill-in” villain a major force to be reckoned with! 

Through flashback sequences, we are privy to not only the first encounter between Bruce Wayne and Victor Fries, but his childhood memories and the eventual evolution of the Mr. Freeze persona. It is a thorough tale that makes you feel the true torment of a character and his reasoning behind what he does. A perfect character piece that will have you forever change your outlook on just how great this villain can be in the right hands. The symbolism of Mr. Freeze’s goggles and the revelation at the end sequence, is enough to solidify Scott Snyder as my favorite writer of the year! And let’s not forget Jason Fabok’s amazing job on art chores! He gives Mr. Freeze an aura of subtle viciousness that is beyond compare. And his eerie, icy images have a beauty to them that is oddly alarming! 

If you call yourself a Bat fan than you must get this book! Even if you are not but want to read an amazing story that can be thoroughly enjoyed in a single book — you must pick this one up! The new Mr. Freeze is here and you won’t believe how fantastic he can be!

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Comic Book News

Review: The Walking Dead #98

(Editor’s Note: Extreme Spoilers Dead Ahead!)

 

The signs were on the wall. The ominous 100th issue looming in the distance, the happiness that has befallen numerous characters lately, but it is the covers that have given it all away! I told you all last time — when Robert Kirkman and crew decide to churn out the infamous “RED” covers, bad things happen to our favorite band of survivors! And I’ve never lied to you, have I? Well, only that one time, but we made it out of that Mexican prison pretty much unscathed — so it was worth it! 

Here’s a gentlemanly tip: If you do not want to know any spoilers — stop now! If you are itching to see what Kirkman has done to all the characters we hold so dear, read on. But I warn you, once you know you can never go back!

Issue #98 begins with Abraham and Eugene walking to find supplies in order to manufacture bullets. But all is not what it seems, danger awaits them in the darkness, and it will change the status quo of The Walking Dead forever! Meanwhile back home, Rick and Andrea are working on their new relationship as machine gun fire rings out in the distance! It’s all hands on deck as our band of survivors rush to the gates to see what is happening. Negan has sent a retaliation squad to their very doorstep and everything changes in the blink of an eye! One character does all he can in order to survive, but survival is not in the cards for everyone — as a major character dies! 

Now, I will not tell you exactly who dies — where’s the fun in that? But, if you read carefully, I have given you all the clues you need to piece it together! I for one, was completely shocked at how Robert Kirkman completely makes a reader feel numb as they watch these characters die. You cannot even catch your breath as you are thrown through a whirlwind of chaos, let alone have time to fully process what has just happened! And the most gut wrenching part, is that you know things are just going to get worse from here. There is no stopping it, the juggernaut of fear will roll over everyone until there is nothing left! In the end, as our survivors try to deal with what just happened, there is an overwhelming sense of bewilderment. Their confidence is gone, their bravado is gone, their ammo is almost gone and the worst part is — their attackers are gone! Nothing will ever be the same, and I thank Robert Kirkman for giving us these characters to get so emotionally attached to. Comics are suppose to make you feel something, this one certainly will. Issue 100 is coming — I just hope there is anyone left for issue 101!

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Movie News

The Dark Knight Rises, Amazing Spider-Man, MIB3, G.I. Joe Toys Arrive Today! (Images)

That’s right folks, as of today at 8 a.m., all your favorite retailers will be filling their shelves with a bevy of blockbuster movie toys!

You want your Dark Knight Rises toys? Well, now you got ’em!

Looking for a few Andrew Garfield as Spidey figures from the Amazing Spider-Man movie? Check!

What about a little Will Smith donning his Men In Black 3 duds? Oh, yeah! 

They’ll even have the now delayed – G.I.Joe: Retaliation – toys that no one will care about for another nine months!

So, get there early before all the “collectors” get the good figures and sell them on EBay! The summer just got a whole lot hotter!

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Comic Book News Marvel

What’s Your Angle On The Tesseract?

Just What The “DOC” Ordered

 

“What’s Your Angle On The Tesseract?”

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

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Ever since Marvel Comics decided to unveil their most powerful weapon in Iron Man 2, the cosmic cube – renamed the Tesseract – has been causing fanboys to drool and movie goers to ponder, “What is a Tesseract?” That’s the million dollar question, I suppose! And it all depends on what company, field or genre you support!

A tesseract, first used in the book A New Era of Thought by Charles Howard Hintin in 1888, means the four lines from each vertex to other vertices, or the four-dimensional analog of the cube. The tesseract is one of the six convex regular polytopes. Even in geometry, there are numerous names and ideas as to the different functions of a tesseract. There is no definitive idea of the tesseract that does not open itself to other possibilities.

Take for instance, the use of the tesseract in the great work of fiction, A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle in 1962. Here it is used more as a wormhole, a portal that sends Meg Murray and her friends through time and space by literally bending the space-time continuum. This seems more in line with the “cosmic cube” that was created by Marvel Comics in July 1966. Is it a possibility that good ol‘ Stan and Jack loved A Wrinkle In Time so much that they created a homage to it in Tales Of Suspense #79? Possibly, but Stan will probably never admit to hearing of the book and claim sole creative control!

Though there have been three different versions of the “tesseract” in various Marvel comics over the years, there has been one constant about them. They have all had the potential to be the most powerful cosmic device ever created! They can alter reality, transfer the essence of one individual to another, make any wish come true regardless of the consequences and — it has even become a sentient life form! Its powers, creators, users and destroyers have all been linked to cosmic energies in some shape or form. And just like Avengers the movie, I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of what destruction can be wrought by its power!

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But now there is a new version of the tesseract that is completely different than all other versions. While previous incarnations have all been birthed in true science, geometric shapes and cosmic fundamentals — this new version is birthed in magic! Found on the last page of Justice League Dark #9, DC Comics has entered into the fan frenzy of the tesseract movement. Jeff Lemire has wasted no time amping up this book in only one issue, and it will only get better from here! DC’s version of the tesseract is said to be The Eighth-Dimensional Map, not just a map but â€” THE map to the four most powerful artifacts in the DCnU! Locked inside the tesseract is the hidden locations to the Four Pillars Of Existence, the source of all magic on earth — The Books Of Magic! As astounding as that revelation is, it is a comment that is made by a character named Dr. Mist that has piqued my interest more. He not only calls the box the tesseract but the FIRST tesseract! Does that mean there are more? Maybe a total of three? More? Remember folks, during the Avengers/JLA crossover a cube was seen in the DCU! Could this be it? Who knows? All I know, is that I am extremely excited to see where this is going!

To wrap up, “What is a Tesseract?” I guess you can choose your own answer. A scientific theory, a portal to save your father, the Cosmic Cube or a map to The Books Of Magic! Hell, there’s even a band! So, pick what best suits you and run with it! No matter who Marvel and DC’s characters are getting married to, comics’ real buzzword is — Tesseract

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Reviews TV News Video Game News

Video Game Review of The Walking Dead game [Episode 1]

When the Dead Can’t Stop Walking

A Video Game Review of The Walking Dead [Episode 1 “A New Day”]

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1756:]]I am drawn to anything that involves zombies.  Zombie stories entice such an adrenaline rush because of the intense amount of thought it provokes within me considering that such a fantastic scenario is merely one fictional circumstance away from becoming reality.  How would I respond?  How would I cope?  How would the rest of the world?  How would you?  When the world literally goes to hell most people probably wouldn’t don some makeshift superhero costume and become impromptu vigilantes to wipe out the zombie threat from the streets.  Most people would track down as much family as possible, find the safest place available to hunker down in and wait it out, until waiting just wasn’t safe anymore.  The realism, drama and raw emotion that is extracted from plain people surviving the end of the world has a universal appeal to humanity because (to a much lesser, dramatic and danger-filled extent) we are all surviving the challenge of life every day when we wake up.  This explains why Robert Kirkman and The Walking Dead franchise continues to reach new outlets for its brand and finding plenty of success (and dollar bills) in every iteration.  I won’t extrapolate on the intrigue of the comic book or the intensity of the TV series, but suffice it to say, the video game world of The Walking Dead carries over everything that makes it work from its previous manifestations while keeping the experience fresh even for the most dedicated veterans of the franchise.

 

Gameplay

 

The Walking Dead videogame is an interactive drama that was developed and published by Telltale Games.  This is the company that was also responsible for creating Back to the Future: The Game, Jurassic Park: The Game and Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (the game).  All of these games are presented in episodic fashion and employ a very similar visual interface in addition to game play mechanics.  This is exactly the type of game that anyone can pick up and play because it doesn’t require pinpoint reflexes nor does it demand rigorous repetition to master.  If you can navigate an analog stick, you too can complete this game with relative ease (as is reflected in its trophy/achievement list – all of which are accomplished by completing each chapter).  The interface involves a third person, cel-shaded, fixed camera that harkens back to Resident Evils 1, 2 and 3.  The challenge to progressing in the story is investigating each scene for objects you can interact with in the environment or by speaking to other characters to reveal that vital piece of information that unlocks options for surviving the zombie apocalypse.  Anyone who is a veteran of Myst and is a fan of Mass Effect 2’s (not 3’s) dialogue system will find The Walking Dead very comfortable. 

If poking around static environments and flirting with digital people is not what you consider to be “entertaining” in a game, then rest assured, there is a significant element of combat in the game because zombies just aren’t going to let you walk away from them.  The first episode of The Walking Dead requires the player’s avatar to dispatch several zombies in quite brutal fashion at point blank range, and doing so requires a very easy to maneuver targeting reticule combined with quick-time button mashing challenges to fend off the various undead opposition.  The gameplay is not nearly as challenging as Heavy Rain, but it is still active enough to not bore the player.

This game’s main source of fun is generated from simply participating in this expanded fiction set within the world of The Walking Dead.  As such, talking is a large part of progressing in the story.  The dialogue sequences blend seamlessly with the cut and action scenes which does much to aid in the suspension of disbelief.  Choosing a speaking option, however, is not always as easy as leisurely pressing a button.  Some contextual conversations have very brief windows for the player to make a decision before the option to respond in any way passes all together.  Likewise, there will be similar decisions the player must make in emergency situations that can determine life and death for you or any other survivors you pick up along your journey.  If the player is actively engaged in the story, making the decisions you really want with little to no time is a breeze.  Also, the relationships you build with certain characters are not without consequence as key characters will remember how the player handled previous confrontations or details mentioned in prior conversations that may help or harm the player at a later point in the story.

 

Story

The story of The Walking Dead videogame is set the day of the zombie outbreak in the state of Georgia.  The player assumes the role of Lee Everett, a black man in his 30s-40s that begins his zombie survival journey under less than optimum circumstances.  What’s interesting to note in this “Choose your own adventure” style of video game story is that the player doesn’t know any back story about Lee until conversation windows later on during the game present these options for the kind of information Lee is willing to divulge.  Some players may be put off by this because they won’t know “the right response to give,” but that’s exactly the point.  Not knowing the details beforehand requires the player to mold the type of Lee, he or she wants him to be so if you want him to be a Rick-style knight in shining armor or a Shane-style psycho, the options are in your dialogue choices.  Heck, there’s even a neutral option to give no response in just about every scenario.  Overall, the story begins as very prototypical in presenting desperate people attempting to survive dire circumstances, but what has set The Walking Dead apart from other zombie franchises is its focus on character and relationships and that theme clearly carries over to the video game as Lee is not only the type of character I want to see survive and flourish, I believe he is a character that could easily matriculate over to the comic books or even AMC’s TV series.  One of the best parts of the story is the “ending” the player gets to see at the end of each episode which teases the player as to the scenarios that await him or her in the next episode.  Having played Lee in three distinct ways, I have found various different reveals at the end of episode 1 in terms of different sources of conflict, enemies within the group and who my most loyal friends may turn out to be.  The story looks to play out in several different ways, all of which are very compelling, and I’ve only completed 1/5 of the game.

 

Presentation

I know a lot of people who are instantly turned off by cel-shaded graphics in video games.  I will never claim to be the biggest fan of it either; however, I will note that this rather cartoonish style doesn’t take any of the gravity away from The Walking Dead game.  As a less demanding graphical style, cel-shading allows for more programming power to be put into proficient gameplay, dialogue options and environment interactions.  Besides, who’s really interested in sitting through hours of load screens?

The game asks the player in the beginning whether he or she wishes to play with or without hints which basically highlights items in the environment that can be interacted with as well as suggesting whom to speak to and where to go next.  Turning the help option off does present a greater challenge, but it may involve too much time investigating each and every scene for the player to acquire that which is necessary to progress. 

The voice over acting is superb.  Distinct sounds tied with naturally written conversation plays very well in establishing a serious and dramatic tone to this game.  Cel-shaded graphics don’t allow for the most revealing facial expressions, but combined with this VO talent, every character that the player is introduced to becomes one that he or she genuinely cares about. 

 

Conclusion

The Walking Dead fans have no excuse for not already owning this game for the PC or PS3.  It is not available for Xbox 360 yet (there’s a first) probably because Telltale is still working on a conversion code to allow the game to use Kinect control.  The story is great because I get to play a role in building a significant survivor in this zombie apocalypse.  The only bad part about this game is that I have to wait an additional month for the next part of the game to be playable and by the end of episode 1, believe me; you too will be demanding an expedient continuation.  Non-fans of the franchise or zombie stories in general may not find too much fun here because it doesn’t present enough generalized video-gaming enjoyment to be worthwhile otherwise.  Despite its cel-shaded look, this is not a game for kids as the gore factor is high, adult situations are plenty and characters can’t seem to hold back from dropping F-bombs left and right.  At $19.99 for the entire 5 episode package on the PSN network, I cannot recommend a better bang for your video gaming buck than The Walking Dead.

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Movie News Reviews

The Future of Hollywood Entertainment through The Avengers’ Eyes

Guess What?  It’s Still Good and Still Worth Your Money

A Meta-Review of The Avengers

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

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Here we are, CosmicBookNews.com faithful, three weeks removed from the release of The Avengers and (hopefully) you have all subjected yourselves to the unmitigated joy and undeniable fun that can be found within.  Our three part podcast discussion covers the major bullet points of what generally worked and what may have fallen short, so please refer to that for any specifics (spoiler free, of course!).  This article seeks to solidify my opinions, observe this film’s affects despite its short history and project what it all means for Hollywood, adaptations, the comic book industry and the future of entertaining us all: the nameless, faceless consumers.

The Avengers is a text book lesson in summer blockbuster movie production and a helpful refresher course in “Making IP adaptations work on celluloid.”  The likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Uwe Boll should take note.  This film’s hype rivaled the coming of a new Star Wars trilogy, thus the margin for error was fairly small as the shrieks of fanboys are not easily silenced thanks to the internet.  The Avengers is a film that is equal to the task by incorporating a hefty amount of character development with a fairly simple (some would argue as “cookie-cutter”) plot while using an intimidating amount of CG to make the impossible look and feel real.  It is true that every director doesn’t have access to Mickey Mouse’s wallet, but it really wasn’t the massive set pieces, explosions, CG aliens, and wowing visual effects that made this film great.  It was really about the characters themselves and the performances that conveyed a natural chemistry, camaraderie and oft overlooked believability of such iconic personalities in close proximity to each other.  Every Avenger is connected and relevant.  Every Avenger has screen time.  Although some were overused (Hawkeye) and some may have been underused (Captain America), no Avenger was left behind as balance was clearly on Joss Whedon’s mind at every stage of this film’s production.  The action constantly escalates, the comedy eases the pace, and the dénouement combined with the final reveal not only satisfies the viewer, it compels him or her to maintain a vested interest in the future fiction of this franchise. 

Sounds like a pretty good time right?  Unfortunately, the other constant in life besides death and taxes are haters, and even a film like The Avengers has a couple of curious instances of marquee level criticism that caught my attention.  The first has to be the rather tepid review this film received in Entertainment Weekly.  I am not so self indulgent as to criticize another film review (I won’t even acknowledge the writer’s name), but the references and plot synopsis within said article are inaccurate to the extent that I question whether the writer actually saw the film as opposed to forming an opinion out of rough cuts and press releases.  Entertaining opinion is what we do ladies and gentlemen, but realizing that everyone on the Internet, reading magazines and watching TV are having their opinions formed by these featured observations is a fact that ought to demand a level of professionalism beyond flippant whimsy.  Please everyone, express your opinions, but for those in the media I must add that we must get beyond the “what” and express the “why.”  This is what allows even a negative review or opinion for a film to be valuable to the reader beyond turning them off to the film entirely.  For instance, I do feel that Joss Whedon went to the CG well once too often for the effects and action sequences in The Avengers which added to its plastic visual style and overall absurdity of what was actually happening onscreen.  That was the “what” and by itself represents a basic, but negative observation that might turn readers off to CG heavy films.  However, the scale of danger to the planet within the story demands an equally epic nature to the grandiosity of the effects that simply cannot be expressed practically with wire work and pyro.  That was the “why” which seeks to justify a necessary evil in the final product because fireworks for explosions just aren’t going to cut it.  Thus, any viewers who may prefer a little less CG in their films are tipped off, but if they are drawn to plots that are dangerously planetary, their interests may be peaked.

The next was the well publicized feud Samuel L. Jackson had with a certain film reviewer from the New York Times for producing an unimpressed opinion of The Avengers.  Once Sam started firing his displeasure over the article via Twitter, many were quick to defend the reviewer for simply expressing an opinion.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which side you personally agree with because both were expressing their feelings in an industry where doing so gets you paid.  I found it odd and somewhat refreshing to see a major media entity to not simply get down on its knees for the summer juggernaut that is The Avengers because the unwritten rule is: the larger the media conglomerate, the higher the probability for it to acquiesce to anything resembling positive reception so as to maximize profit by conforming to the mainstream.  The remarkable thing about this entire confrontation is that in this day and age, with the technology Americans have at our disposal, an actual dialogue can result once something is written, recorded or filmed and then distributed by the media machine.  Social media generates intrigue because it is an active way to digest information by giving the consumer an opportunity to respond.

Let’s take a look at some of the cold, hard facts in regards to The Avengers and in Hollywood land, the only facts that matter are dollars.  With an initial budget of $220 million dollars, this film is the kind of production that is looking to print its own money, but if it misses, jobs will be lost, careers will be tarnished and stock prices could take a dip.  The Avengers proceeded to set the all time record in money made in its (domestic) debut weekend to the tune of just over $207 million dollars, effectively making back its budget in less than a week.  Globally, the film has already made over $1 billion dollars and it’s only been out for 3 weeks in this country.  Even at this early point, one can say in full confidence that this film is an absolute commercial success.  Some are even making claims that it could challenge the all time cinematic money king: Avatar, but it appears even these super heroes are not immune to the law of 50% diminishing returns at the box office.  Weekend #2 yielded a gross of $103 million while weekend #3 generated $55 million.  Sure, this film is still raking in the cash and is still number one at the box office, but its rate of intake is sputtering worse than a Dodge Neon, and it’s a long road to the $3 billion dollar mark.  Still, it doesn’t take an MBA to interpret these kind of numbers as a globally positive reception for this product, and it doesn’t require the reanimation of Nostradamus to predict that the Disney/Marvel alliance will continue to expand its roster of superhero films knowing full well that regardless of their individual performances, the true pay day exists years later when even more characters are drawn into the super film Avengers 2 or whatever they wind up calling it.  This film will continue to be profitable for as long as theatres decide to keep screening it.  If they are smart, they’ll have at least 1 screen reserved for it for the whole summer.

So what does this all mean for the future of cinematic entertainment?  Well, the immediate future sees a record setting run for The Avengers which proves that people sincerely enjoy this type of entertainment regardless of their familiarity with the source material.  It also means that the only other film that has a realistic shot at challenging this phenomenon, The Dark Knight Rises, has a very difficult task ahead of it with no Heath Ledger incident to artificially boost its exposure.  There are a number of reasons why TDKR WILL NOT match, let alone exceed, The Avengers at the box office, and some involve Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Joseph-Gordon Levitt as NOT Robin, NOT Nightwing or NOT Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael.  However, the big reasons why we should crown The Avengers as the box office king of 2012 right now are far more obvious.  TDKR gets released awfully late in the summer season on July 20th, it cuts right in the middle of The Amazing Spider-Man’s run (released on July 4th’s weekend) and last, but not least, involves the end of the trilogy, franchise and gathering of all the fine actors attached to Chris Nolan’s reinvention of DC’s most valued asset.  We’ve seen so many Easter Eggs at the end of these types of films that suggest the possibility of more around the corner that we’ve taken them for granted.  How can Chris Nolan possibly satisfy the audience when we know that no matter what happens onscreen, the story is done?  Whether additional sequels are green-lit for these kinds of productions is not important.  It is the hope (false or otherwise) of the possibility for a further evolution of the story that adds that extra level of interest to it.  Of course, this only works if the movie was actually good and has little to no affect for the ones that we’d like to forget.  Did anyone really care that it looked like “Africa wouldn’t allow” Alan Quartermain to remain deceased at the end of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)?  

The long term future of Hollywood entertainment is somewhat alarming in that certain industry trends will have an impact on the quality of its product without reducing the cost to the audience.  The telling of stories involves the construction and application of ideas, and the only way to get those thoughts out of people’s minds is through good writing.  You’ve all seen a significant downturn in the quality of this element in Hollywood films, so should it be to no one’s surprise that Hollywood has all but deferred to the comic book industry to be the engine for nearly 100% of its action/adventure/sci-fi films?  It was smart and mutually beneficial for Buena Vista to acquire Marvel, but how smart is it to simply own the rights to an established success without being thorough in the proper adaptation of said license? 

Geoff Johns rose to the top of DC’s food chain by reinvigorating the Green Lantern comic books with fresh and edgy writing.  He all but single-handedly made that character second to Batman in terms of popularity.  He also was a co-producer for the Green Lantern film adaptation and so he shares a direct responsibility for that extremely poor production.  How on Earth could such a successful alpha male in the comic book industry allow his “adoptive baby” to be kidnapped like that?  At last year’s New York City Comicon, I was waiting in line to meet Amanda Conner and a few of her associates were discussing comic adaptations in general and her husband’s experience with the atrociously made Jonah Hex adaptation in particular.  To which Amanda Conner stated, “You don’t handle Hollywood.  Hollywood handles you,” which sums up the problem quite perfectly.  Studios only care about the name of whatever license they’ve purchased.  They don’t care about story, character and the boundaries established by both as evidenced by the fact that Hollywood productions rarely involve comic book creators during actual productions beyond the role of “consultants” which really shouldn’t apply because they are being ignored.  If Hollywood is too lazy to produce the next Die Hard, Terminator, or Alien (all of which originated from Hollywood during the 80s and early 90s) then they should subcontract entire productions to the comic book industry all together because clearly, Hollywood directors, writers and producers haven’t a clue despite thinking they have some unquestionable authority over anything that requires pointing a camera at.  This industry trend is only going to get worse because Hollywood doesn’t care about “doing it right.”  Even deplorable films like Green Lantern, Jonah Hex and LXG make enough profits in rental, retail and global ticket sales for the concept of “quality” to be completely null and void. 

The other troubling trend I see in Hollywood is how globalization has seeped into its bloodstream like malaria and is causing the outsourcing of the last great American industry.  Twenty or so years ago American studios couldn’t care less about global ticket sales at the box office because a film’s performance in the domestic market was the benchmark for all the deals that get made on the studio’s behalf in terms of distribution and licensing.  Today, the international market is more important, and we have the economic rise of China to thank for that.  Business is a numbers game, and like any other business, Hollywood seeks to constantly increase profits.  There are more non-Americans than there are Americans in the world so why should Hollywood seek to limit its audience?  It is an economic model that is eerily similar to Nintendo’s marketing and production of the Wii (a game system that clearly caters to non-gamers as opposed to gamers).  We see shades of Hollywood’s preference for the international market in the fact that Europe got to see The Avengers on April 26th of this year (more than a week before the US).  We see hints of Hollywood’s desire to exploit the international market in the fact that Disney is making Iron Man 3 as a 50% co-production with DMG Entertainment, a Chinese production company.   It remains to be seen how the shifting focus to the international market will affect the quality of Hollywood films here at home, but if we take every other American business that has done so to maximize profits, the future doesn’t seem pleasant.  For example, it practically took the entire American economy to melt down before our auto industry started making cars that we actually wanted to buy.  Iron Man 3 is going to be the next significant step in this process and will greatly determine the extent to which China influences Hollywood for the foreseeable future. (Editor’s Note: China recently purchased AMC Theaters – American Made Matt).

The Avengers is a movie that is an experiment in super-filmmaking that has its sights set on profits much larger than even the most gullible American markets can provide.  It’s the kind of fanboy adaptation that has me excited to see more characters and larger crossovers, but it also makes me wonder that in the interest of maximum economic efficiency if I will ever see an adaptation of Superman through the eyes of an entirely Chinese production company.  How far removed is Iron Man from Superman to non-comic book industry professionals and fans?  Something about that last thought seems all too wrong, not because Superman himself is considered an American (he’s not, he’s Kryptonian), but the idea of Superman, truth, justice, so on and so forth IS American and the possibility of selling that idea out to China, on top of everything else, is stomach turning.  I constantly lobby for higher quality in the production of Hollywood films in my reviews, but never once did it occur to me with the ever decreasing sales in the domestic market that Hollywood could give America the finger and relocate overseas, until this moment.  Sure, a lot of doomsday scenarios would have to play out in the business world for that to happen, but the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me gravitates to the extreme negative.  The future seems bright for Hollywood, but its potential to “flame on” is equaled by its potential to flameout here in the US of A, leaving the rest of us out in the cold.

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Comic Book News

Just What The “DOC” Ordered: A Review of CLiNT Magazine #2.1!

Just What The Doc Ordered

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

The All-New, Freshly Scrubbed — CLiNT!

 

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You know that feeling you get when it’s your first day back to work after a nice vacation? That “everything sucks” feeling? Well, that’s exactly how my day began. My shared cubicle seemed too small, encroaching on my very life essence. M.E. Byron Brewer cranked out a ton of reviews in my absence, making the “assistant” part of Assistant Managing Editor seem glaringly relevant! And my favorite vending machine button in the world -F5 – the one that holds the glorious goodness of my daily Snickers bar was empty. “Everything sucks” would have been my mantra for the entirety of the day, if not for the mail delivery! There, amongst solicits and previews, sat my advanced copy of the magazine that shattered the mediocrity of the day — CLiNT 2.1! The best damn magazine you will read all month!

You think Mark Millar can only create some of the most explosive, irreverent, in your face comics in the world? Well, that’s where your wrong, son! He can also bring you an informative, explosive, irreverent and in your face magazine as well! 100 pages of comics, interviews, previews and strips, await your grubby little fingers — and you won’t want to put it down!

First, you are hit with a rousing interview with Mark Millar and his ideas regarding the Supercrooks and American Jesus movies! Tons of information regarding filming locales and script direction that you will only find within the pages of CLiNT, folks! Although you won’t find any of Supercrooks director Nacho Vigalondo’s ideas in the magazine, you can head on over to clintmag.com for an exclusive interview with him! Yeah, it’s a shameless plug but you really should check it out!

Have you been drugged, kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder in a L.A.R.P.ing tournament in Kentucky? No? Than you have no excuse to have missed the premiere issues of Supercrooks and Secret Service! But if you have – sorry and welcome back – you have the chance to catch-up on two of the best books on the shelves today. That’s right, you will find the entire first issues of Supercrooks and Secret Service reprinted inside this amazing mag! Where else can you find two complete best selling comics and tons of extra goodies in one place for one low price!

Speaking of extra goodies, you will get a 4 page preview of Lenore #4: Revenge of the Creeping, the next totally insane chapter of Rex Royd, the tracking of the real-life hero Clint and tons more! But, the best part is the CliNT exclusive Death Sentence comic! This tale follows three main characters that have been infected with an STD that will grant them super powers before they die from it! Totally fresh, engaging and crazy enough to grab you and make you question your weekly pull list! This is the future of comics and you can only get it here!

This is without a doubt, THE best magazine you will pick up this month! Regardless of all the other magazines you may, “read for the articles,” this one won’t give you carpal tunnel! Plus, you can actually leave it out on the coffee table and not get weird looks from your friends! As a matter of fact, this single magazine will probably raise your coolness factor through the roof! So, beware hep-cats and daddios — there is a blast of awesomeness hitting the racks!

Remember, “everything sucks” without a CLiNT in your hand! 

Special Offer: Subscribe to “CLiNT” and Save 20%, plus get a FREE signed Dave Gibbons “The Secret Service” Art Card! Act now, only 200 available! To find out more visit – http://titanmagazines.com/t/clint/local-subscribe/
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Comic Book News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for May 23rd, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

(A weekly quick pick of the five titles that should reside at the top of your pull list. In no particular order!)

 

I do the research, you reap the reward! Before you head out to your favorite shop today, be sure to add these books to your list of goodies! Forget that “apple a day” nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription to good health starts with these top five titles of the week!

 

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1.  Resident Alien #1 : A mystery tale about the murder of a small town doctor is enough to get me in the door, but it’s the twist about the choice of a stand-in doc that puts it on the list. He’s an alien, folks! And no one knows the truth! Intriguing and completely different than anything out there today!

2.  Dark Horse Presents #12 :  Just in time for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, we get a brand new Aliens tale from John Layman and Sam Keith! Plus – Cosmic fans rejoice – the return of Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s — Nexus! But it’s the Black Beetle tale by Francesco Francavilla that really helps this book get on my list. Well, that and the hysterical strip of Sabertooth Vampire by Mike Russell! Hilarious!

3.  Mind MGMT #1 : 121 people get on a plane but only 120 get off when they land! And all of them have complete memory loss of their previous lives —  except one small boy! Matt Kindt, creator of Revolver, brings forth another outstanding book that is complete action and intrigue! Plus, there are added secret images and numeric sequences that Matt Kindt says will never be republished into trade form! He wants this to be THE monthly book on the top of your list! Well, he’s made it on mine — it should be on yours!

4.  Justice League Dark #9 :  The only thing that this book was missing before was a solid direction and a “team” leader. Well, now we have both in — Jeff Lemire! That’s right, folks! The man behind the amazing Animal Man, makes his JLD debut here! Not only does he put Constantine as “leader” of the group, but he also debuts Felix Faust to the DCnU! Anyone who loves Vertigo books will feel right at home!

5.  Fables #117 :  Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham are celebrating ten years of Fable goodness with this issue! Not only do you get an eerie tale of Dare’s journey to save his sister from the Land of Discardia, but you get a back-up tale of Bufkin and the revolution in OZ! Plus, as an extra bonus, we get to see a sneak preview of Scott Snyder’s new limited series — American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares! All for only $2.99! Ya can’t beat that with a stick!

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Comic Book News Marvel

Review: Avengers Vs. X-Men: Versus #2

(Editor’s Note: Tread Lightly, This Way There Be Spoilers!)

 

This is going to be painful. Not as painful as reading this book, but painful enough! 

When the premise of this Versus book came out, a battle royale of fights too big to fit inside the A vs. X series, I was psyched! Childhood daydreams would finally come to fruition and Marvel was promising that these battles would have definitive winners! As a matter of fact, this is what Marvel says on page one of this book, quote: “Did you read the cover? This is Versus #2, the comic where Avengers and X-Men pound the snot out of each other one-on-one until there’s a clear victor!” end quote. I don’t exactly know if Marvel knows what a “clear victor” is, but out of four total battles they have given us in the past two books — only one is definitive!

So let’s get out the score card, shall we?

Book One of Versus has Iron Man vs. Magneto. Cool premise, better fight — no clear winner! Magneto lies there in awe of the coming Phoenix Force and plays possum so Iron Man will leave! Winner: Iron Man. Second fight is Thing vs. Namor. A classic battle of two characters that hate each other — no clear winner! Both characters emerge from the ocean at the exact same time, but the Thing is declared the winner! Wait, what?

So, issue two has Gambit vs. Captain America by Steve McNiven. This one had very cool moments by Gambit. Charging Cap’s shield was cool, but when he charges a smug Cap’s chain mail — it is awesome! Except, Marvel would never let anything happen to Cap, so the explosion does nothing to him but tear his costume! He then knocks Gambit out with a single punch while talking to Tony Stark on his Bluetooth! Really? I’m afraid so! Winner: Cap.

Fight #2 is Colossus vs. Spider-Man by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. Strange choice for combatants and an even stranger battle. Pretty much, it was Spidey shooting webs and spewing banter in Colossus’ face while he swung with all his might! Colossus gets some wallops in, but Spidey finally just swings off with Daredevil as Colossus stands seething! Winner: Colossus!

How is someone swinging away as another one stands there a “clear winner?” Am I wrong about this, does anyone else find this an utter cop-out?  If I am paying four dollars for a smash mouth battle royale with a “clear winner,” I want someone broken by the end of it! Not someone feigning sleep or following another combatant and certainly — NOT RUNNING AWAY! 

Marvel may excel at making completely amazing movies, but their books have fallen by the way side! If they expect to continue to have a fan base that is true to their product, then they should begin by standing by their word. Give readers what we want and deserve, we’ve been loyal to you all these years — it’s about time for some reciprocation!

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Comic Book News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for May 16, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

(A weekly quick pick of the five titles that should reside at the top of your pull list. In no particular order!)

 

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I do the research, you reap the reward! Before you head out to your favorite shop today, be sure to add these books to your list of goodies! Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription for good health starts with these top five titles of the week!

 

1.  Hardcore #1:  Kirkman brings his A game with this action/sci-fi/thriller about an assassin that can manipulate another person’s body! Part Quantum Leap, part The Bourne Identity — 100% amazing! This is the “Next Big Thing”! Check out my full review here!

2.  Danger Club #2:  Great story by Landry Q. Walker and even better art by Eric Jones — this tale of a world that has lost all it’s adult heroes will enthrall you! The future for Kid Vigilante looks bleak as he must do the unthinkable in order to save the entire world! Walker and Jones have hooked me on this sleeper hit, so get it if you can!

3.  The Secret Service #2:  The combined comic might of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons unite on a tale of family and country! Gary’s Uncle Jack is trying to help him escape from his hell of a life. But is it better to deal with the hell you know or the one you don’t know? Another hit from the Millarverse that will have you begging for more!

4.  B.P.R.D.- Hell On Earth: The Devil’s Engine #1:  Johann Kraus has changed, Abe Sapien has been removed from action, Liz Sherman is in hiding and Hellboy is dead! Everything the B.P.R.D. has built up over the years, begins to fall all around them! And if they fall — the entire world does as well! Mike Mignola continues to break his world one piece at a time! Get on board while you can!

5.  Red Hood and the Outlaws #9:  The “Night of the Owls” storyline continues here, but it’s the first appearance of a certain Bat villain in the DCnU that makes this book so “cool!” That’s right, folks — Mr. Freeze enters the fray and all the corny “Arnie” lines can now flow freely around in your head again! Great story about the prodigal Bat-son and his team of reluctant heroes! Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort continue to make “chilling” stories month after month! So,”Chill Out!” and get this book!

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Comic Book News

Advanced Review: Hardcore #1

Our good friends at Image Comics have yet again graced us with an advanced copy of another sure fire hit! But this isn’t just any ol‘ book, this one is — Hardcore! Created by fan favorite – and CBN’s “Creator Of The Year 2011” – Robert Kirkman!

An amalgam of Quantum Leap and The Bourne Identity, Hardcore is an espionage/sci-fi thriller that exudes excitement on every page! You thought Kirkman just did zombies and aliens? Well, think again kids — this one will blow you away!

Following Agent Drake, a stylized government assassin, we enter the world of shadow agencies and their ability to eliminate threats. But this isn’t just the same old covert ops that we have all seen before, this is technology at its finest and most brutal! Using a sniper and a “hardcore” bullet, a brain command bypass system that is shot into the neck of its intended target, Agent Drake can mentally “take over” the physical abilities of the victim. While the victim is placed in a dream-like state, Agent Drake can manipulate their body in order to use them to get close to the true target! An old friend, a business partner, a lover or family member, Agent Drake can become any of them — and put a bullet in your brain! A 72 hour window is all he has to eliminate the threat and pull himself out of his victim; if he doesn’t, he could suffer massive brain damage as the “hardcore” dissolves away! Easy, right? But what happens when you can’t pull back out and the minutes start ticking away?!

Action/Thriller, Sci-Fi/Drama, call it what you want! This book is intriguing, exciting and full of enough action to make Joss Whedon smile! Seriously, I was not expecting this type of story from the creator of Invincible, Thief of Thieves, and The Walking Dead! But that’s exactly what Robert Kirkman does — breaks the shackles of conformity to bring you amazing stories! This tale of high stakes espionage will astound you and make you yearn for more! Highly recommended, this will be a true “sleeper” hit that no one should miss!

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Comic Book News Marvel

Review: X-Men Legacy #266

(Editor’s Note: Slight Spoilers Spotted Dead Ahead!)

 

There is a division between those that see the Phoenix Force as the end of the world and those who dream it to be the beginning of a new one! But the division is not as simple as merely Avenger vs. X-Man. There is a deeper separation within the mutant race, one that even Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine can’t encapsulate. There is a difference between “team” and “family,” and only now is the mutant race realizing that even a schism cannot separate them for long!

Christos Gage gives us the perfect amalgam of characterization and high octane action in this issue, falling directly within the flow of Avengers vs. X-Men and not involving flashbacks — no other crossover book has so far! We see the teachers of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning ponder their places in the current war. While most of them stay to give the students a semblance of normalcy during this time of chaos, both Iceman and Rachel Grey leave to join Cyclops against the Avengers. Meanwhile, Falcon, Moon Knight and She-Hulk arrive at the school in order to “check-in” on the X-Men and make sure they won’t cause any trouble in the future. As hindsight is 20/20, maybe Falcon should have chosen his group more wisely, as it is his team that breaks rank first and brings the war down on children!

More than just another smash mouth issue, Gage writes an intelligent story dealing with the worries of a “family” and their actions. The individual choices are hard and yet, cunningly in line with each characters sense of self. There are no drastic deviations in character – like some other crossover books – and it helps the story feel realistic and true. And when the inevitable battle does ensue, it is powerful and exciting with an undercurrent of hatred and confusion. Truly, a pitch perfect offering from Gage that will resonate throughout the other X books!

Not only is Gage’s tale fantastic, but Rafa Sandoval’s art solidifies it as one of the best books this week. Sandoval is completely underrated for the talent he posses. Clean, crisp lines that give off a vibe of hyper excitement in even the most mundane sequence, Sandoval takes every page to the next level! Utterly, fantastic!

This issue has everything that a comic book reader craves in one small package! You will ponder, you will wince and you will cheer when Moon Knight gets put down like a rabid dog! So, drop three bills in the plate and worship on bended knee in the House of Gage and Sandoval! ‘Nuff said!

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Comic Book News

Review: Batman #9

Exciting, engaging and enthralling, Scott Snyder’s Batman opus continues here with the “Night of the Owls” storyline!

Trapped beneath Wayne Manor, with all his secrets revealed to the Court of Owls, Bruce Wayne and Alfred make a last stand for the very soul of Gotham! Encased in his “Bat Armor,” Bruce holds the ferocious Talons at bay, while Alfred directs the rest of the “Bat Family” from a secure room. But even if Alfred and Bruce survive this brutal attack, Gotham’s leaders may not!

Each issue brings a depth of history to the Bat mythos that makes you yearn for more! Compelling back story, crazy fisticuffs and a dinosaur that stomps Talons into a pulp — makes this issue the most action oriented yet! Everything is fresh and exciting, creating an epicenter for the entire Bat family to live up to. Snyder and Capullo continually make Batman the MUST read book each and every month!

Even though the main story will get fans in the seats, it is the back-up tale by Snyder and Albuquerque that is the most compelling. Following Jarvis Pennyworth as he writes to his son Alfred about the dealings in Wayne Manor, we may just be privy to the first attack by the Talons on the Wayne family! Could it be that Thomas and Martha weren’t just gunned down by some random act of violence? Could the Court of Owls be responsible for the birth of Batman? Okay, maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse — but it’s fun to speculate!

Get this book and get in on the most intriguing crossover running through the DCnU! You don’t need to pick up all the other series to understand what’s happening , but it’s amazing to see how this story affects every aspect of Gotham! So, collect ’em all!

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Comic Book News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for May 9th, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

(A weekly quick pick of the five titles that should reside at the top of your pull list. In no particular order!)

 

I do the research, you reap the reward! Before you head out to your favorite shop today, be sure to add these books to your list of goodies! Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription to good health starts with these top five titles of the week!

 

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1.  Alabaster Wolves #2 (of 5):  Caitlin R. Kiernan’s tale of a young albino girl’s quest to rid the world of evil — continues here! Anyone that loved Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, will find this book just as engaging!

2.  X-Men Legacy #266:  The Avengers bring the fight to the doorstep of the Jean Grey School! As “Wolverine’s Team” stands divided, one teacher decides to push an Avenger over the edge! This is the best written A vs. X book to date — you shouldn’t miss it!

3.  Batman #9:  “Iron Batman” versus the Court of Owls — in the depths of the Batcave! Awesome story! But it’s the back-up story of Jarvis Pennyworth and the horrors of Wayne Manor that is well worth the extra buck!

4.  Green Lantern #9:  The secret to the Indigo Tribe is revealed! You won’t believe who the big evil is! You want some good cosmic? We got it right here! Revelations abound!

5.  Grifter #9:  I know, I couldn’t believe it either! Rob Liefeld has taken over and this book finally has a clear direction! But to me, it is the amazing art of Scott Clark that makes it land on my list — simply awesome! Plus, it’s the return of Deathblow! Nineties fans rejoice!

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Comic Book News

Advanced Review: The Walking Dead #97

As issue 100 slowly crawls towards us, Robert Kirkman sets his pieces in motion again for a terrible fate to befall them! 

In this issue, Rick and group, return from the Hilltop to let everyone know about the deal Rick struck with its citizens. But there might be a few bumps in the road, as some of Negan’s men follow them! Meanwhile, back home, Eugene begins to test his boundaries with Abraham regarding Rosita and their “relationship.” And finally, when our heroes arrive back home, four of their lives will be changed forever as the impending darkness begins to envelop around them! Kirkman doesn’t call this arc “Something To Fear” for no reason, folks!

After a long run building up to this arc, Kirkman has begun turning the screws, ever so slowly again, to make us uncomfortable. He is a master of suspense, giving subtle hints as to what might happen to our favorite characters and leaving us no option but to watch in unbridled horror! We try to scream to them, “Look out!” but it falls upon deaf ears! Even the most hardened of the group can only take so much before they crack, and with so much joy entering into their lives again — the emotional turmoil beset upon the reader will be escalated to the Nth degree!

This series is untouchable when it comes to characterization and the emotional connection the reader has with Kirkman’s characters. I have never had so many “Oh, no!” moments in my twenty plus years of reading comics as I have reading this series! Kirkman has a way of making you believe in these characters and their plight to survive so much, that you feel emotionally drained when something horrible befalls them.

So, steel yourself for this new arc, it looks as though the winds of change have begun blowing again! Plus the cover tells it all! Fans of the comic series know all to well what happens when Adlard and Rathburn churn out the “Red” covers! Nothing good my friends, nothing good.

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Comic Book News

Advanced Review: X-O Manowar #1

As I walked towards my desk through the CBN offices, a wave of nineties nostalgia washed over me. Recently, everything old seems new again! Variant covers are all the rage, there are superhero cartoons gracing my TV screen every Saturday and Sunday, the Age of Apocalypse is still running rampant, Soundgarden has a new single on the radio and Rob Liefeld is actually drawing comics again! But what really pushed me over the edge — the advanced copy of X-O Manowar from Valiant comics laying on my desk! One of the biggest independent comics publishers of all time, is back and ready to carve their names in the history books yet again!

New York Times best-selling author, Robert Venditti, and Eisner award-winning artist, Cary Nord, converge on an amalgam tale of sword play and sci-fi that will make any comic fan’s testosterone levels exceed maximum capacity! It begins as a savage look at life for the nomadic Visigoths and their dealings with the ever growing power of the Roman Empire in 402 A.D.! From there it progresses into a tale of revenge and eventually, delves into the world of sci-fi in epic fashion! I must say, Cary Nord is the perfect choice to portray the brutality of the battlefield and the viscousness of our young hero — Aric! Who else could bring the scope and horror of war to reality than the man who drew Conan? No one!

For fans of the original series, you will feel right at home with Venditti’s rendering of Aric and the situations that befall him in order to finally become one with the X-O armor. For those of you that are coming aboard with a fresh set of eyes, you will be astounded by how Venditti has created a character that is so rich and fleshed out in a single issue. He takes a character that is steeped in arch-types and makes him exceed them all, giving us the perfect new icon to usher in the new era of Valiant!

I don’t want to ruin any of the amazing story that Venditti and Nord will lay before you next week, so I promise you no spoilers. But I also promise you this — with but a single issue under their belts, X-O Manowar will become the next big cosmic title you need to get your hands on! From swords to laser cannons, from slaughter to sentient suits of armor — you will relish every page and yearn for more! 

The nineties will never come back! But Valiant has, and they will make the “big boys” quake! As Aric says before leaping into battle, “The time for talk has passed. It is time to fight!” and that’s exactly what they intend to do!

“X-O Manowar” #1 goes on sale Wednesday May 2nd, 2012! And look for the FCBD issue May 5th!

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Comic Book News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for May 2nd, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

(A weekly quick pick of the five titles that should reside at the top your pull list. In no particular order!)

 

I do the research, you reap the reward! Before you head out to your favorite shop today, be sure to add these books to your list of goodies. Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription to good health starts with these top five titles of the week!  

 

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1.  X-O Manowar #1:  Valiants’ back and they mean to take names this time around! Dive on in to a new era of cosmic awesomeness brought to you the Valiant way! Check out my full advanced review here!

2.  Worlds’ Finest #1:  Power Girl and Huntress make a triumphant return to the New 52! Their names may sound familiar but these gals are not your mommas heroines! See my full review here and make way for the “Second Wave”!

3.  Animal Man #9:  If Buddy Baker is dead, than who is Buddy Baker? And who is that on the last page? Vertigo fans can rejoice again as Jeff Lemiere’s cavalcade of chaos continues to roll! Missed this amazing series? Get the trade today!

4.  Swamp Thing #9:  You didn’t think I could do this list without adding Scott Snyder on it, did you? Just as Swamp Thing gains an unforeseen ally, something sinister lurks from the pits of the past! Always a great read! 

5.  Age of Apocalypse #3:  Just because you may have been brought back from the dead, doesn’t mean the X-Terminated won’t put you down again! Tons of A.O.A. characters come crashing back but it’s the one at the end of the book that has me geared up for next month the most! Something might get SMASHED!

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Comic Book News

Review: Worlds Finest #1

DC’s “second wave” hits the stands today! Although not as grand as the first time around, this second set of the New 52 definitely has some shinning stars! The first of which — Worlds’ Finest

Now, even before this series launched, George Perez had been getting some pretty heated fan response to his renderings of “Power Girl.” Once you read this, I hope all of your reservations can be put aside. DC has been letting you know that this “Huntress” and “Power Girl” are not ones you are familiar with, believe me — it’s true!

I do not want to spoil anything that Paul Levitz has created here, and it is very difficult to do a review that can entice you to check out this book without blathering on and on about the story. So, I will try and keep it brief, yet, exciting!

Hailing from the pages of Earth 2, also on sale today, two heroines escape from a devastated planet only to awaken in one similar, but not their own! They change their identities in order to better conform to their new world and set off to fight the good fight, all the while searching to find a way home.

There, hope I didn’t give away too much!

Paul Levitz has crafted a tale that is already rich in the history of the New 52. From the Huntress mini-series to the recently canceled Mr.Terrific book, we are already familiar with these characters and their motivations. But now we are privy to parts of their lives we had been previously kept in the dark about, building those, “Ah ha!” moments comic fans all love. Pieces from this tale and other stories converge together, making the scope of Levitz tale brighter and broader than one could have foreseen. But it is the characterization of these two heroines, both singularly and dually, that make this story flow so naturally. It’s as if we are watching two old acquaintances stroll through our door with an incredible tale to tell us after a long hiatus. It is comfortable and engaging, drawing you into a world you already thought you new.

I have always been a fan of George Perez’s art, but this book reminded me of why and just how much I missed it! His skill is fathomless and just keeps getting better! Not that Kevin Maguire’s flashback sequences are anything to scoff at either! It is the duality of theses great artists that help project this book to a higher level!

This story has it’s fingertips on the biggest array of books in the New 52 that I have ever seen! If you are a fan of great art and amazing tales of misplaced heroes — this is the book for you! This “second wave” is bound together tighter than the first one — so get Worlds’ Finest and Earth 2 in tandem! You won’t regret it!

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Comic Book News

Advanced Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #3

Editorial Note: Slight Spoilers Ahoy!

 

Well, it didn’t take long for this series to start to unravel, now did it?

Like all the big events Marvel has produced in the past few years, it begins with a bang and then slowly petters out to a whimper. This issue is the turning point to that feeble end!

It begins with Logan recouping and then running out to see what has happened since Hope took him out of the battle. What he sees is nothing – absolutely nothing – as both sides stand complacent with Cyclops’ surrender. What? Surrender? The last issue ended with battles galore sprouting up all over Utopia! Ah, yes, the Marvel engine must have made a stop in Storytelling 101 in another book or maybe decided to think we would all just except this story change like good little doggies. Regardless, all isn’t as it seems and the Avengers must now chase the merry mutants around the globe in order to find the missing Hope. But as divisions in Wolverine’s ranks are revealed, one more change in the status quo emerges — Cap vs. Wolverine!

This book had glimpses of grandeur but the characterization that has been happening in this story since issue one, has been overbearing at best and atrocious at its worst! The first two issues portrayed Cyclops as some religious zealot that couldn’t see what his decisions were doing to those around him! This issue has Captain America coming off as a tyrannical overlord that would rather destroy alliances than see disobedience! Since this issue was scripted by Ed Brubaker, I was surprised by this total disregard for character. Even in the worst situations, Cap wouldn’t do what he does to Wolverine at the end of this tale. I was expecting him to scream, “Die mutie scum!” as he threw his personal choice for Avenger membership out the proverbial door!

If this is what the “architects” can build when they all come together, I’m not too sure I want to stand anywhere near the construction site! It seems as though the eventual outcome of this tale is all that was focused on regardless as to how they get us there. Forcibly directing a story just to placate to a set in stone ending, makes for a shoddy tale overall! Readers hunger for a tale that will leave them satisfied, a well rounded course that is more than just a light show and dessert. I will gladly pay you for the flash of satisfaction I had reading this book, but I want a refund for the other twenty pages of mediocrity! The way I see it, Marvel owes me $2.99! Now, if I could only figure out where I could spend three bucks on a good comic. Anyone have any ideas? 

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TV News

Review: Young Justice: Invasion “Happy New Year”

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Now that the Justice League has been restored to their proper mindset by the combined effort of the Young Justice team and Red Tornado, there are some questions that are in need of answering: “Where is the real Speedy?” and “Just what did the six Leaguers do for the sixteen hours they are unaccounted for?”

Jump five years into the future from last episode! The team is bigger, Robin is now Nightwing but Artemis and Red Arrow are missing! “Where are they, what happened?” 

All that will have to wait, it seems a certain “Main Man” has taken a contract to cause a ruckus on earth. That’s right ya Bastich, Lobo is here to take names! But Wonder Girl and Batgirl have a little something to say — with their fists! 

Reminiscent of Men In Black, things aren’t always what they seem! Adam Strange is brought in to help explain how to gather up all the aliens, and it is revealed that the six missing Leaguers are considered criminals off world! The teams split up and it’s Blue Beetle, Lagon and Tim Drake Robin that take center stage as they come across kidnapped humans and a hive of aliens! The youngsters prove themselves in the eyes of the League and Young Justice, and it all wraps up with the Zeta Team arriving on Rann. To be continued!

This was a great episode, especially since we get to see so many new characters introduced to the show. Yeah, we had to jump five years into the future to do so but at least the storyline runs smoothly from the last episode. Plus, John Stewart takes the reigns for most of the episode and he even mentions the Green Lantern Corps! Awesome! While some questions are answered, there are so many that arise in this episode! So many that I cannot wait until the next episode to see what’s in store! This is the best comic related cartoon series on TV today, and you owe it to yourself to check it out!

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Comic Book News

Nova Takes Center Stage On The Super Hero Squad Online Card Game!

Squaddies Assemble: Nova Corps!”

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1573:]]Wednesday saw the launch of of the most anticipated super hero card game ever! The Super Hero Squad Online Card Game blasted its way into local shops and found its way into eager fans hands that had been waiting outside in anticipation! The proprietor of a local shop had this to say about the hype surrounding S.H.S.O.C.G., “I have been getting phone calls for the past two weeks about when the cards will come in. Everyday someone is asking about them. I ordered a ton of stuff and it will probably be gone by the end of the week!”

No kidding! As I picked up my Avengers vs. X-Men two player intro pack, and some boosters to go along with it, five other customers were grabbing theme decks and wiped out two boxes of boosters before I could cash out! That’s 48 packs people! I knew this was going to be big, but not that big! 

As I pondered why fans were so ravenous about the game, my daughter and I began to unwrap our haul at home. Then it hit me, as soon as I unfolded the playing mats you get with the two player intro pack. There, beside Emma Frost, Cyclops and Dr. Strange stood — Nova! Not Sam Alexander Nova, the original cosmic cop — Richard Rider Nova! The same one you can play as in Super Hero Squad Online (Hint, Hint)! Could this be why fans were burning through boxes of boosters like a cosmic blast through a Dire Wraith? No, it can’t be — could it?

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1574:]]Boosters were gently torn open, so as not to ruin the codes we could use in S.H.S.O., and a bevy of heroes began to pour out. We got Hulks and Caps, Gambits and Jean Greys, but as we opened our fourth pack there it was — Nova! Again and again, Nova cards were found strewn throughout our booster packs like a sprinkling of extraordinary in a pot of awesomeness! I couldn’t believe that all I had to do to find Richard Rider prominently displayed again, was to play S.H.S.O.C.G.! This had to be why so many people were clamoring for packs! True Nova fans racing for a glimpse of their beloved character again! That, and the game is fantastic! Perfect for kids and grown-ups alike and way easier to play than most other card games on the shelves today!

So, we built our decks. The “DOC” as the Avengers and “Lil’ Thunder” as the X-Men, with a couple Nova cards thrown in for good measure! As the smile on my daughter’s face widened with every turn we played, I relished every moment of it! This was AWESOME! Time spent with my daughter and something we both enjoy — comics! Nothing is better than that! Especially if you have Nova in your deck!

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Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for April 25th, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris  “DOC” Bushley

(A weekly quick pick of the five titles that should reside at the top of your pull list. In no particular order!)

 

I do the research, you reap the reward! Before you head out to your favorite shop today, be sure to add these books to your list of goodies. Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription to good health starts with these top five titles of the week!

 

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1. AvX Vs. #1(of 6):  Marvel’s complete and utter slugfest book hits the shelves today! With battles surrounding Iron Man vs. Magneto and the Thing vs. Namor, do I really need to sell you on this book? Okay, then check out my full review here!

2. Supercrooks #2:  Mark Millar continues his Ocean’s Eleven style tale of criminals traveling to Spain to pull the biggest heist ever! Great writing and his patented, “Holy $#*%” moments, will keep you coming back for more! Brutally sadistic! 

3. Uncanny X-Men #11:  Juggy helmeted Colossus versus the Red Hulk? I’m already salivating! You will be too! This is a great book by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land that actually delivers on the promise of furthering the AvX tale along. Read my full review here!

4. American Vampire #26:  Scott Snyder continues to push the envelope with this award winning series each and every month! A new storyline begins here about racial tension in 1950’s Alabama. Not to mention a detective that isn’t what he seems tracking down The Nocturnes, the band Travis listened to as he hunted Skinner Sweet!

5. The New Deadwardians #2:  Dan Abnett’s tale of divided social status between zombies and vampires in an alternate Victorian England, continues here. Who could have killed a vampire without using any of the known ways to do so, and why cut off his aristocratic hand? Chief Inspector George Suttle plans to find out! This is a great book! 

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Movie News

Review: Uncanny X-Men #11

All you need to do is look at this cover to be completely enthralled with what is to come! Juggernaut Colossus versus Red Hulk! Who isn’t itching to see how this one ends up?

You will not be disappointed with the tale Kieron Gillen and Greg Land lay before you! Taking place directly prior, during and after the events of The Avenger vs. The X-Men #1, we get to finally see a less zealous version of Cyclops. In AvX, he has been portrayed as some kind of religious nut that can’t see how dangerous his decisions are. Here, in a book written by an actual X-Men scribe, we see a leader that has to make a tough decision even though it will cause a rift between his “family” and the world’s mightiest. We also are privy to the internal thoughts of Namor, Hope and Colossus as they embark onto the battle field and will forever be changed in the process. Gillen has a great grasp on the “voice” of these individual characters, making the reader reconnect with them on a more personal level than they have in a long time. It is the perfect juxtaposition with all the chaos surrounding Utopia!

As good as the writing is, it is Greg Land’s rendering of the battle of the behemoths, that will make you not want to put this book down! An underwater barrage of giant fists awaits, and let me tell you — it is a war! Greg Land always amazes me with the skill in which he renders the female form, it is beautiful and eye catching, but today — it is all about breaking things! He creates a brutal symphony of destruction that will cause any fan to pause and take notice of how well it is done! One warrior lies at the bottom of the ocean as the other seethes in rage — absolutely amazing!

Finally, we see a book with the AvX banner tag that actually delivers something new to the story! Kudos to Kieron Gillen and Greg Land for helping this tale progress instead of completely living in the past like all the other books have! Plus, the ending is something that will set all of mutantkind on a collision course with the world that hates and fears them. If the Phoenix Force doesn’t destroy the earth, the ramifications from this ending just might!

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Movie News

Review: AVX: Vs. #1 (of 6)

This is it, the “battle within the battle” book that extends all the individual fights from The Avengers Vs. The X-Men series! A rip roarious, smash mouth style book that pits two X-Men against two Avengers in two separate stories by two creative teams! That’s a lot of twos, folks! 

Let me begin by saying I am highly impressed that Marvel is pushing this series for exactly what it is. They are not trying to mask it as anything besides a good ‘ol slugfest because that is all you will get! There is no extension of plot or development of character in this series but at least they are up front about it. As a matter of fact, this is what the opening page says, verbatim: “This book is about AWESOME BRAWLING! You want plot? LOOK ELSEWHERE, CHUM. You want a KNOCK-DOWN, DRAG-OUT WHUPPIN‘? WE GOT YOU COVERED.” And believe me, they deliver!

Match 1 is Iron Man vs. Magneto! Now, we all knew Tony Stark wouldn’t bring a tin can to a magnet party, so this one isn’t in the bag for Magneto! Jason Aaron has some great ideas up his sleeve as to how this one goes down and you won’t believe the damage these two warriors inflict on each other. It is brutal, exciting and over way too quickly for my taste, this fight needed to last the entire book! The ending was questionable, as one of the warriors just gives up, lost in the grand scope of what is to come. It left me feeling slightly cheated, but the prior build-up was great!

Match 2 is Thing vs. Namor! This one has been hashed out before, but never completely underwater! Again, it is an in your face smashfest that gets the adrenaline pumping faster than a locomotive! Decades worth of anger is let out in a fury of fists, leaving the ocean floor a complete warzone! This one was a more satisfying read as there is a true winner, or is there?

Both Adam Kubert and Stuart Immonen do an outstanding job on art chores, creating some amazing feats of fury infused destruction! These have been some of the best fight scenes Marvel has produced in a long time — every fan will be salivating over them! Jason Aaron and Kathryn Immonen do great jobs themselves, trying to create a background in all the chaos. Aaron’s tale is more cerebral but it is Immonen’s witty banter that truly steals the show here! 

Slugfest, brawl, “The Thrilla‘ in Manila” – call it what you will – this book has been downright fun to read! Yeah, I don’t agree with the way things always pan out, but I still get to see some of my childhood daydreams come to fruition! Worth four bucks? Well…no, but I will still be around for round two!

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Movie News

Review: Batman #8

For the past seven issues, Scott Snyder has taken the Batman mythos and broken it! Sometimes things have lasted so long that they become complacent, or at best, jaded. Sometimes we need to take those things and break them down to their core in order to see what made them so special to begin with. It takes a gentle hand, someone who will take their time, making cracks in all the right places so as to not damage the spirit of the piece. And when it is finally broken down to its very essence, it can be rebuilt stronger than it ever was. That is exactly what Scott Snyder has done, broken the Bat to rebuild it better than before!

This issue is the beginning if the “Night of Owls” crossover that will span the “family” of Bat books for the next two months. It is the first crossover for the New 52 that is vast in scope and reach, touching all the Bat characters, and even being glimpsed in other titles such as Justice League #8. But it is not the amount of titles that this crossover will touch that is important, it is the amount of readers that it will touch that is!

Snyder has brought something to the Batman legend that has rarely been seen — doubt. Bruce Wayne has been tortured  by the Court of Owls and their assassin, the Talon, but he has not been broken. They have done something far worse, they have cracked his confidence in himself and all of Gotham! They have caused fissures to erupt in his bravado, letting him finally see his own pomposity and worse yet — his weakness! His focus has been shaken, allowing the Court of Owls to assemble all of their Talons and strike at the heart of Bruce Wayne — Wayne Manor! Nothing will ever be the same again as Bruce’s secrets are revealed and no one is safe!  

Snyder has outdone himself with this series and especially, this issue in particular! Never have I been on the edge of my seat for so long during a series! After every page I am ravenous for more, never being satiated because it is all so good! The richness that has been brought, not only to the Bruce Wayne/Batman character, but too the entire world of Batman is unfathomable! 

Even though Batman is now shackled to the $3.99 price tag, the back-up story by Snyder, James Tynion IV and American Vampire artist extraordinaire, Rafael Albuquerque, is well worth it! It sets the stage for the “Night of the Owls” crossover and shows the cunning viciousness of the Court of Owls. It is shocking and brutal, making the fear palpable! Worth an extra dollar? In my eyes — definitely!

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Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Comic Book Pile for April 18th, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

(A weekly quick pick of the five titles that should reside at the top of your pull list. In no particular order!)

 

I do the research, you reap the reward! Before you head out to your favorite shop today, be sure to add these books to your list of goodies. Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription to good health starts with these top five titles of the week!

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1476:]]1. Batman #8:  “Night of the Owls” begins here and the lives of the “Bat” family will never be the same again! Scott Snyder is writing the best Batman stories I have ever read, now you need to too — before Gotham is taken over! Read the full review.

2. Avengers vs. X-Men #2: The gloves are off and the bell has been rung! Friend vs. friend, hero vs. hero — it all starts to fall apart here! No matter what side you’re on, I only have this to say — “Burn, baby, burn!” Read the full review.

3. B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Long Death #3:  It’s the Wendigo vs. Capt. Daimo in a battle to the death! Johann’s quest for revenge against the Capt. comes to fruition, and only one “creature” will emerge alive! Hell continues to fall on the B.P.R.D. and no one is safe!

4. Fables #116: Therese has been manipulated to become the queen of Discardia, the relm of forgotten toys. But what she doesn’t know may kill her — and her entire family! There is something truly eerie about mangled stuffed animals that won’t let you leave! Creepy!

5. Justice League #8: What can I say that will entice you to buy this book more than you all ready know? How about this, there was already an eighth member of the Justice League we never knew about! Forget Green Arrow, this one is a shocker! 

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Movie News

Advanced Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #2

The Avengers have brought war to the doorstep of Utopia, an island full of the most powerful beings on the planet. But little do they know, it is also filled with children! These are no ordinary children, these are the last of the mutant race, and even though they might not want to fight — one of them will rise up and become the most powerful being in the world!

The gloves are off, and after Cyclops let out the “eye blast heard around the world” last issue, it is time to get entrenched in battle! Marvel’s “Architects” do an amazing job of zeroing in on all the various skirmishes throughout Utopia, without making the tale feel pieced together from snippets. It is smooth, intense and a fine piece of craftsmanship that doesn’t forget to subtlety remind you that some of these battles will finish up in another book for you to purchase! But, unlike Fear Itself, where you seemed to only get half the story from the main book — everything you need to know is right here! 

From thunderous punches to a veritable whose who of Utopian inhabitants (is that Hepzibah I see?), you are covered in excitement on every page! A metallic fastball special, and underwater battle of three warriors, magic, lasers, fists and speed — it’s all here for you to applaud! But this isn’t just your average smash and grab throw down, this story is multi-faceted, giving glimpses and clues of things to come! Things that may not bode well for either team of combatants!

This is adrenaline, this is excitement, this is why we buy comics! CBN’s EIC, Matt McGloin, and I used to debate who would win between the Avengers and the X-Men back when we were kids — now we finally get to see what would happen for real! Marvel is putting out every fanboy’s dream and no matter whose side you are on — we all win! This series could have gone horribly wrong, but everything is working like a well oiled machine, and we are aboard for the ride of our lives! 

Once again, I will not give any spoilers! But I will leave you with one comment that I direct to Hope. “Burn, baby, Burn!” ‘Nuff said!

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Movie News

Is Avengers vs. X-Men Just Ripping Off What If…The X-Men Lost Inferno?

Just What The “DOC” Ordered

“The House Of Ideas Brings Out The Photocopier — Again”

By Chris “DOC” Bushley

Our latest column to hit Cosmic Book News comes from Chris “DOC” Bushley who will be taking a look at the less “cosmic” characters in comic books, and sometimes some of the more obscure, with his “Just What The Doc Ordered” column!

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1411:]]With all the hype revolving around Marvel’s newest summer crossover, Avengers vs. X-men, it makes one ponder how drastic they will go to ensnare readers back into the fold. Marvel has lost it’s footing in the market place and top ten sales charts are a virtual whose who of DC talent. Fans have begun to flock elsewhere, and the mighty pockets of a certain mouse, doesn’t seem to be helping! There are rumors that A vs. X will bring many significant changes to the Marvel Universe, possibly including some very important deaths! While I except these rumors with a smile and a wink, my mind started reeling about a book I read as a kid that had all the same factors we will be seeing throughout the coming summer — What If? The X-Men Lost Inferno!

Yes, there is some division between the two ideas, A vs. X is solely Avengers versus X-Men — I get that! But there are an awful lot of comparisons between the tales too big to be ignored. The core ideas of both stories revolve around the exact same issues! Heroes vs. heroes…Check! Fighting for the very existence of the world…Check! The Phoenix Force used as a catalyst for the story…Check! The only thing missing is the apparent death of heroes in A vs. X, but you can believe me — What If? #6  is chock full of them! 

What If (vol. 2) #6 was the first “What If” book I ever picked up, and probably the best one as well! In November of 1989, after the Inferno storylines had all wrapped up in their respective monthly titles, Danny Fingeroth and the amazing Ron Lim converged on an alternate reality tale that shook the world to its foundations! The characters of the Marvel 616 Universe may have come out of Inferno relatively unscathed, but in the realm of “What If” — anything goes!

Wolverine is a possessed human enslaver that eats newborns, the Hulk is a cousin killing machine of destruction, and Reed Richards and Dr. Doom work together to expand the influence of Inferno to other planes of existence! Now this is a story with ramifications! Especially when a band of heroes tries to stop the demonic influence from destroying the earth itself. But like every good story of defiance in the face of superiority — heroes must fall! Hulk snaps poor She-Hulk’s neck, the Human Torch is betrayed by Baron Mordo, Thor is blown up, Wolverine eviscerates The Captain (Steve Rogers), skewers Spider-Man like a shish kabob and kills Kitty Pryde, as well as Baron Mordo! Even after his flesh is burned away from his bones, Wolverine guts Madelyne Pryor when his skeleton is manipulated by the nearly deceased demon S’ym! Talk about a rage problem!

Finally, Dr. Strange finds that the Phoenix Force has been residing in the body of Rachel Summers, who has been transformed into a mannequin! He revives her, and the Phoenix Force is unleashed, burning all demonic influence from the face of the earth! The world has been reborn in the wake of the Phoenix, literally, as Alicia Masters-Storm gives birth to the first child of a simpler planet. As Dr. Strange holds the baby up to it’s mother, she names him Jonathan in respect for his father. In the distance, the Phoenix Force returns to its own master, the Living Tribunal, until it is needed once again!

Now, the battles did not require a separate mini-series in order to showcase all the intricate nuances between the combatants. Hell, most of them didn’t last a single page — but they didn’t need to! It was visceral, cunning and above all else — didn’t try to take all of your money to see who wins! Not that I’m not completely salivating for the next A vs. X, I just hope it delivers half as much excitement that What If #6 did — and a lot more than New Avengers #24, the first AvX tie-in!

So, the rumors are out about the possibility of Avenger and mutant blood being spilled this summer. I’ll believe it when I see it! But if you want to see some serious carnage between heroes, hit the long boxes at your local shops and look for What If? The X-Men Lost Inferno! X fans and Cosmic fans can finally sit down and enjoy a book together, one that sees some of the greatest Avengers get taken out — hard! Now let’s hope that will happen again in A vs. X! I stand with the X-Men, what about you?

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Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Everything You Think This Movie Is; It Isn’t and Thank God For That!

A Film Review of The Cabin in the Woods

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

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Where the hell has Joss Whedon been since his glory days of Buffy and Firefly?  Whatever he’s been doing, he’s also been soaking in a hot tub of liquefied creativity.  If the audience can take The Cabin in the Woods as ANY indicator as to the quality of The Avengers, rest assured that the inevitable excitement and satisfaction will cause some in the audience to spontaneously combust on May 4th.  Until then, I cannot help but unequivocally demand anyone reading this right now to see this film at your earliest convenience.  Everything you know about horror, sci-fi and fantasy gets flipped on its head and delivered in a manner you never saw coming.  Remember what the boys did to that printer in Office Space (1999)?  Joss Whedon did that to “the formula” of Hollywood filmmakin,g and when he was done eviscerating it — he gave it the finger as he jumped on his magical stead made of lightning-fire and flew off to conquer the next galaxy adjacent to The Milky Way.  Ok, so I over exaggerated a tad on that last comment, but my desire for originality, creativity and quality from Hollywood has left me drowning in the limitless depths of its abysmal mediocrity that only the few gems produced by Christopher Nolan have been able to hold me over with life inspiring essence.  All right, I over exaggerated on that one too, but the point is that everyone will see the trailers for The Cabin in the Woods and expect the same old slasher drivel.  After seeing this film, many may try to classify it, but it certainly is NOT the same old anything. 

Let’s get the least spectacular part of the review out of the way by discussing the performances.  Did anyone else know that Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth was leading this cast of unknowns into the seldom tread waters of Hollywood innovation?  I sure didn’t, and when I saw his name flash up on the marquee, I knew something way different was about to transpire.  Hemsworth doesn’t come close to reinventing the wheel with his acting, but that’s a very conscious thought process at work because this film is constantly setting the audience up.  Hemsworth, along with costars Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams and Fran Kranz are all playing very specific teen stereotypes in order to lure the audience down the path of common expectations.  Every performance from each protagonist stays within said expectations all the way to the end of the film even when circumstances would justify a stark departure.  The same can be said of the rest of the supporting cast consisting of Richard Jenkins (The Rum Diary), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Brian White (Stomp the Yard) and Amy Acker (various Whedon TV shows); none of whom seem to belong in some run of the mill horror film.   Everyone plays their part in a leveled fashion one would expect from the environments each character populates.  It is the fact that these different worlds coalesce into the same which makes every performance satisfactory because in a fictional world where the rule book was left in Charlie Sheen’s respectable attire closet, any actor would be compelled to break character and do whatever the heck they wanted.

Selling this world to an audience requires the kind of effects and imagery that work hard to maintain authenticity while pushing the audience’s limits for absurdity.  As such, the use of extensive CG visuals is rationed quite well until the last third of the film’s duration in order to deflect as much attention from the reality bending aspects of the story as possible.  As much as I loved the look and feel of the “force field” effect, I questioned if it was necessary for the audience to see this as early as we did presuming that keeping plot elements as cryptic as possible was, in fact, the order of the day.  Thankfully, this served a specific purpose near the film’s end, and not simply because there was an unforeseen surplus in the budget that needed to be spent.  The core of this film’s effects remain anchored to the realm of practical horror tricks which means plenty of masks to be gored, prosthetics to be punctured and fake blood to be spread.  What causes practical effects to come off as “too fake” for the audience is if the script and tone of the film calls for violence that is over the top.  That means no geyser bursting slashed veins or arteries.  The audience will be spared the disgusting shock value of Hostel which is, again, all about making the audience buy into this film being another Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street.  Much effort was made into making this duck look, sound and feel like a duck.

But what’s going to blow your mind is that it isn’t even a duck.  It’s not even an animal, mineral or vegetable.  What you see is and isn’t what you get in so many ways that will not become clear until that one moment during this film where the curtain is lifted on the reality of this fictional world.  It had me dropping my jaw, laughing out loud, forming a question mark above my head and simply being awe-stricken by the randomness that was unleashed at said point which continued to stampede until the final credits rolled.  To co-writers Joss Whedon and (director) Drew Goddard: I salute you both for proving that everything hasn’t been thought of in Hollywood land, and showing that more effort made in writing distinguishes the trailblazers from the canon-fodder.  This isn’t the kind of story that will only require attentiveness to register, but it will also require a small leap of faith to allow it to make sense.  I have praised this film for its ability to setup the audience for an eventual brain explosion, but that doesn’t extend to the plot’s details into explaining why every character is where they are, does what they do and behaves the way they behave.  Therein lies said faith leaping.  Being more forthcoming in the script (even with well written dialogue discovery as opposed to blatant exposition scenes) would ruin the twist and lessen the impact of the climax.  As with “big reveal” films, the surprise makes everything that was seen and heard appreciated at a completely different level, thus protecting that surprise until the opportune moment is paramount.  I felt that the culmination of this story was inspired (in some way) by James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) because Whedon truly begs, borrows and steals from so many aspects of horror, sci-fi and fantasy.  It is because no one thought of the common links among these worlds in the manner as presented in The Cabin in the Woods which demands respect from the viewer.  There is no question that the audience will find familiarity with this story, but only to a point.  At that point, the concept of perspective allows the action onscreen to evoke thought and adrenaline to surge surprise and satisfaction in the viewer.

The best part about this film is that hidden away beneath the effects, the circumstances, the twists and the turns lays a very unique social commentary in regards to humanity’s conceptualization of good versus evil.  It is an idea that leads an individual to question humanity’s existence in the first place.  Are we here because it’s good or are we here to placate evil?  People of faith, those without it and those simply convinced of life never extending beyond that which can be seen, felt and heard all have unique perspectives on this issue.  The Cabin in the Woods takes a very risky (and grim) interpretation of existence by presenting a what-if scenario that would cause even the most level-headed bloke to say “WTF?!?”  Seeing this movie did not inspire me devote myself to anarchy and go on a killing spree, but it did make me think about the decisions that make me who I am, and if that sense of self would maintain amidst the warmth of serenity, the horror of evil or the desolation of the void. 

The number one reason why the next film you see should is The Cabin in the Woods is because it is oh so very different and “different” in movies can evoke emotions on par with “great filmmaking.”  I am not expecting $3 billion dollars in global ticket sales or multiple Academy Award nominations because it simply is not that kind of film.  But it sure as heck will make a splash!  This movie’s rebellious nature makes it stand out, and the fact that it was released prior to the summer blockbuster rush – and not during the horror season of October/November – is extremely appropriate because it is so much more than a horror or a thriller.  I haven’t seen anything quite like this before, and it made me feel refreshed as I walked out of the movie theatre.  There is a whole new world of fiction out there, waiting to be discovered.  All we need is for those who control the means of production to have greater confidence in taking the kind of risks to deliver that which is truly new and not regurgitated mish mash.

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Movie News

TV Review: Young Justice: “Usual Suspects”

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1403:]]Revelations, secrets and lies abound in this fast paced episode that sets the stage for next weeks blockbuster battle — Young Justice vs. The Justice League!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! “Usual Suspects” lays all the secrets that the team has been holding — on the table! From Superboy’s split DNA, Artemis’ diabolical family tree and even Martian Girl’s reasons behind working for Queen Bee, everything comes to light and the team is finally whole again!

It was well paced, especially because of all the flashbacks and flash forwards used to explain the tale, and thoroughly enjoyable. Spectacular battles wrap around all the revelations, so the reveals are as exciting as the fights themselves and don’t become a “talking head” scenario that we have seen in other mediums. Plus, it is a veritable whose who of villains that challenge our young heroes! Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, Sportsmaster, Blockbuster, the Riddler, Cheshire and everyone’s favorite “Bat” villain — Bane, push our heroes to the edge of their abilities! But it is the final reveal that will shock you the most as the Justice League “mole” is exposed and the the Watchtower will never be the same again!  

As good as this episodes writing and execution was, the moment that I appreciated most was the induction of the Justice League’s newest members. Finally, Malibu Comics get their just desserts as Icon is inducted along with the Atom, Dr. Fate, Plastic Man and Red Arrow. Ever since DC had acquired the rights to all the Milestone characters, the have been used sparingly at best. A small stint in The Justice League of America book that pitted them against the League, wasn’t really deserving of these characters. And now that the Static Shock book has been canceled, it is good to see Icon and Rocket being used in important roles again.  

So check this episode out and prepare yourselves for the biggest battle yet — next week!

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