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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! 

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!

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?

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



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.

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!

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Wrath of Titans (2012)


Kratos Would Have Smoked Them All!

A film review of Wrath of the Titans

By: Lawrence Napoli


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1379:]]So the reboot of The Clash of the Titans was apparently worthy of Worthington once again because Perseus returns to face the fire in the Wrath of the Titans.  Theoretically, any film can have a sequel made of it so long as Hollywood makes lots of cash.  However, examining the numbers for this franchise doesn’t make the strongest case for resulting in a big pay day.  Clash had a budget of $125 million, but only grossed $163 million at domestic theatres.  Its sequel has poor timing to deal with seeing how the pre-summer juggernaut, The Hunger Games out earned Wrath during its debut week.  This isn’t particularly good news for Warner Bros. because they coughed up a cool $150 million to get Wrath made.   I guess this just means that The Dark Knight Rises is simply going to have to sell that many more tickets in late July (which it will have no problem doing).  Still, I was intrigued to see if this film could do a little more than its predecessor because the cast was still solid, no screen time had to be dedicated to origin stories or establishing characters, so theoretically, the audience can just roll right into the action and everything would be good.  Well, that was most certainly NOT the case.

Problem #1 was that the general storyline of Wrath has literally been done just a few months ago in November of 2011 for Immortals.  That film also centered around “releasing the Titans” as the major catastrophe that was to be thwarted by the heroics of mankind.  Granted, Wrath’s scale, budget and cast are on a much higher level than Immortals, but there’s no denying the sensation of déjà vu in this film.  Once again ladies and gentlemen, you want the reason for a movie sucking?  You go to the reason a movie sucks: BAD WRITING!  Dan Mazeau, David Johnson and Greg Berlanti apparently had to combine their powers to produce this most heinously generic fiction of fantasy — and guess what boys and girls?  None of them had anything to do with 2010’s Clash of the TitansMazeau is a novice writer in this industry (but has somehow been hired to pen the screenplay for The Flash adaptation), but Johnson and Berlanti have no excuse considering their experience.  Johnson wrote the Chupacabra and Triggerfinger episodes of The Walking Dead TV show in addition to Orphan (2009) and Red Riding Hood (2011).  Berlanti has written for lots of TV as well including Dawson’s Creek, Everwood and Eli Stone, but also was responsible for Green Lantern  and is going to be a producer for Green Lantern 2 (the search for even worse writing).  The only thing interesting about the script of Wrath of the Titans is picking out every single scene, set piece and action sequence that was low-jacked from the God of War video game series.  Otherwise, the story is a jigsaw of inconsequential activity outside of what Perseus does himself.  Every other character could literally have stayed home, chilling out in their loincloths, to ride out the “Titanic” hostilities because their presence made no difference.

Problem #2 was that the action was neither dynamic nor compelling.  I know what you might be thinking: “What about those double torso golems that hacked and slashed their way through the human army that we all saw in the trailers?”  Sorry, but what you’ve already seen is all that you will get in this film.  Generally speaking, all of the “godly” activity at work in Wrath seemed somewhat neutered because they were all lesser substitutes for EVERY action sequence that was created for Clash.  Giant scorpions get subbed with Chimera, Medusa gets subbed with Ares, and (the big bad) Kraken gets subbed with Kronos.  The setup, circumstances and execution of these three major sequences in both films are virtually identical which inevitably lessens the impact of the sequel.  The rest of the action in Wrath is placed on the shoulders of Sam Worthington’s fisticuffs requiring him to wrangle monsters, and go toe to toe with gods.  The one on one combat was choreographed well enough, but again, there was nothing particularly unique about it.  I honestly preferred the 300 stylized violence of Immortals.  Simply put, I felt that more needed to happen than “monster appears, Perseus kills it, rinse and repeat.”  Every physical altercation is extremely brief with the exception of the climactic battle of which Perseus’ participation involves riding his Pegasus the whole time.  Ho hum.

The visual effects in Wrath are incredibly inconsistent.  The most impressive visuals were of the Tartarus labyrinth that was planetary in scale, ever-shifting in layout and featured some very detailed backdrops which really showcased some excellent CG talent.  Unfortunately for me, I experienced all of that before in the God of War video game series and although seeing this otherworldly prison on the silver screen with Hollywood caliber graphics was cool, it really isn’t a far cry from PS2 and PS3.  The least impressive visuals were delivered whenever any marquee god makes an appearance.  Remember Zeus’ awesome lightning armor from Clash?  Well, too bad, because it doesn’t exist anymore as it apparently takes an aneurism to spark a thimble’s worth of lightning for the thunder god.  Poseidon doesn’t demonstrate any abilities at all while Hades uses the same old shadow clouds from Clash.  I was really expecting more from Ares, the (technical) god of war, but all he really does is swing a large hammer — the end.  I felt that the character design of all the monsters: Chimera, Cyclops, Kronos, Minotaur and Makhai were excellent.  Their action, powers and abilities felt very restricted as none ever seemed like actual threats to Perseus at any time.  If CG opposition is not showed harming any of the main characters in some graphic way, they must display their relevance through massive collateral damage of the environment and/or extras.  The world was relatively unscathed and the body count not nearly high enough for this mythic, end of the world scenario.

Actors can make or break the best and worst films.  The potential for a performance to forgive plot gaps and nonsensical circumstances is the reason why big budget films haven’t invested more in digitizing the entire cast.  After having seen Wrath of the Titans, I’m fairly certain digital actors would have been an upgrade.  I must immediately mention that the performance of Ray Fiennes as Hades is the worst of his career which is such a disappointment because he is a great actor that has an incredibly diverse collection of performances under his belt.  I couldn’t have imagined a less menacing and evil Hades even if I was having a mescaline induced wet dream.  Rosamund Pike’s performance as Queen Andromeda (warrior princess) was fine as the token love interest for an action/adventure, but her contribution to the plot as a character is irrelevant short of having the need for at least one pretty face.  Toby Kebbell provided some much needed comic relief with his rendition of Agenor, but his opportunities to shine were severely limited.  Liam Neeson redefines “going through the motions” with his reprisal of Zeus.  In many ways, his performance is the polar opposite of what he delivered earlier in the year for The Grey which was simply layered with emotion after emotion.  As for Sam Worthington, well I like him in any role where his thick Australian accent isn’t a distraction, but in a Greek mythology film where everyone else in the cast uses an English accent, Worthington’s “ausie” is far too out of place.  Unfortunately, this aspect of his performance could not be addressed because Perseus spoke this way in the first film thanks to a gutless, visionless or simply dumb (take your pick) decision by director Louis Leterrier to allow his natural accent in the first place.  Regardless, Worthington is solid as the male lead in this kind of film because all it requires is being hard and kicking ass. 

I found myself second guessing the desire to see this film in the first place with every word I typed in this review because it was truly forgettable in every way.  Ultimately this movie is an absolute pass as I suggest to you all to save that $8 and put it towards an IMAX 3D ticket for The Avengers.  What’s interesting to make note of is the affect globalization has had on Hollywood, specifically when it comes to bad movies and the money they make overseas.  As of April 10, 2012 Wrath of the Titans has grossed about $61 million dollars in the US which is less than half of its original budget, but its global returns are estimated at $213 million.  Never before has lowering standards while maximizing profits been more relevant than it is today because it is the dominant, global, economic philosophy that pervades all business.  In 1995, Kevin Costner’s Waterworld set the new standard for sub par filmmaking as it was reviled in the American media primarily for being terrible, but also for its pathetic returns at the box office.  It only grossed $88 million on a budget of $175 million, yet its global returns yielded $264 million so it begs the question if this film ever deserved moniker of “biggest flop of all time” in the first place.  The truth is there is great money in bad filmmaking so long as enough money is fronted in the first place.  Profits in Hollywood may not always be exponential (Green Lantern’s global returns were $219 million on a budget of $200 million), but they can be assured when taking retail and on demand sales into account.  Personally, I’m done with Greek mythology films until Sony gives the thumbs up for the God of War adaptation.

Movie News

Super Hero Squad Online: Update For April 11th, 2012

Squaddies Assemble!

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1373:]]Today, in conjunction of the red carpet premiere of The Avengers, Super Hero Squad Online has updated itself to reflect all the movie goodness!

First up is a new loading screen that features the “movie” versions of Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk and Captain America facing off against Loki!

Not only that, Loki has taken over Asgard and his diabolical hands have corrupted the entire realm! Denizens are frozen in the streets, all the Thor and Valkyrie statues have transformed into versions of Loki and Nick Fury himself, tells you that the Avengers and the S.H.S. will need to team up in order to take Loki down! You can then access a Loki mission that will test your mental and physical prowess, and if you defeat Loki at his own game — you win The Cosmic Cube! Awesome!

Plus, today introduces the last classic Avenger from the previous load screen — Ant Man! He will cost you 600 gold but with all his Pym particle goodness, it’s well worth it! And he’s not the only character you can pick up for sale today in the shop. Now, only 300 gold each, you can acquire the X-Men’s own star-crossed lovers — Gambit and Rogue! The Rajun‘ Cajun and the Southern Belle can really give your squad a merry mutant boost just in time to fend off all those Avengers! I really love these dual half price sales and it looks like they will continue to churn them out as long as we pick them up!

Well, enough talk! Get out there and save the world from that dastardly Loki before the movie hits on May 4th! I’ve got my ticket, did you get yours?

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for April 11th, 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:1360:]]1.  Secret Service #1:  Mark Millar’s second new series of the year launches today! If that’s not enough to get you to your Local Comic Shop, legendary artist Dave Gibbons is on art chores! Plus, Mark Hamill dies! Yeah, I thought that would get you moving!

2.  Suicide Squad #8:  A new story arch begins here, and after the cataclysmic ending to the “Hunt For Harley Quinn” storyline — the team is rattled! Adam Glass creates one hell of a book every month and it’s a perfect time to hop on the runaway train!

3. Green Lantern #8:  The Indigo Tribe may be the keepers of compassion, but they sure have a strange way of showing it! Sinestro and Hal are tortured because they will not embrace the empathy bestowed upon them. And what exactly does Abin Sur have to do with all of this? Only Geoff Johns knows for sure!

4. Uncanny X-Men #10:  Unit has escaped his prison on Peak, S.W.O.R.D.’s intergalactic jail, and he wants to bring peace to the universe. Too bad he likes to see how things work internally so he can understand them better — especially earthlings! The Avengers guest star to help take down all the baddies Unit released, right before they draw a line against the X-Men themselves!  

5. Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #4 (of 5):  It’s up to the Lobster’s crew to take down evil incarnate — The Black Flame! But how can a few mere mortals survive against such a diabolical creature? Find out in this pulp style horror story that will astound you!

Movie News

Advanced Review: The New Avengers #24 (AvX)

After last month’s riveting tale of a last ditch effort to thwart the evil of Norman Osborn, fans were more than ready for another astounding tale of heroism from Bendis and crew. With a tagline boasting issue twenty-four as an A vs. X tie-in, and a cover revealing Wolverine stuck in the middle of Cap and Cyclops — fans were salivating more than a pack of Pavlov’s dogs!

But, as they say, never judge a book by its cover!

This issue begins with a thunderous blast, mere seconds after the events of A vs. X #1, but by page three we are subjected to Bendis‘ patented “talking heads” scenario! He invites us to peruse the events a day prior to the “eye beam blast heard around the world.,” and the cheesy soap opera music begins pumping into your head as you read about Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s marital problems concerning the baby. I love character pieces that build a foundation for a book; they are needed to keep fans interested and vested in characters throughout the years. Bendis is a great writer, and truly knows the motivations of the characters he breathes life into, but this book is not the time nor the place for one of these character pieces. This issue is the first to carry the A vs. X tagline for a continuing series — but we see none of it! Literally, by the last page you are still at the same spot that the story began! Besides marital tension — NOTHING HAPPENS!

Plus, I know Bendis hasn’t written many X characters before, but his take on Storm is ridiculous! You have one of the most affluent, powerful and strong willed characters that has lead the X-Men through many hardships, and at the mere mention of the Phoenix Force she utters, “Goddess” and flies away? She is the Queen of Wakanda, and she doesn’t even try to talk about the ramifications of a battle between the X-Men and Avengers? Are you kidding me?

If you are looking for and A vs. X tie-in that will give you something more than a Lifetime movie — you won’t find it here! If you are looking for an Avengers tale that will get your testosterone flowing — pick up Avengers Assemble #2 instead! If you are just getting this to jump on The Avengers bandwagon, save your four bucks and upgrade to IMAX tickets — I wish I had!

“New Avengers” #24 provided by friend of Cosmic Book News.

Movie News

Super Hero Squad Online: Update For April 6th, 2012 – Vision

Squaddies Assemble!

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1279:]]It’s the first week of April and we are already getting a bevy of updates from Marvel’s blockbuster MMO — Super Hero Squad!

Just announced yesterday, Ultron’s favorite son, the Vision has made his triumphant debut! Full of intangibility, flying and density changing abilities, the Vision will set you back 600 gold pieces but it’s well worth it. And the best part about him, he is available to everyone, unlike S.H.S.O.’s last debut of MK1 Iron Man.

Speaking of Iron Man, there are now two new Iron Man themed card battles that have been released as well! Revolving around the Hulkbuster Iron Man armor, the first quest will cost 175 gold and you will receive two common and one uncommon Iron Man themed cards when completed. The second, and harder quest, will cost 225 gold but you will reap the reward of one uncommon, one rare and one super rare Iron Man themed cards for your efforts! Not too shabby if you ask me!

Finally, for a limited time only, Squaddies have the chance to acquire two different Asgardian warriors at a discounted price! That’s right, folks, now you can have your very own Valkyrie or Modern Costume Thor — for half their original prices! Each battle hungry warrior will cost a mere 300 gold, but time is wasting and the sale will be over before you know it — so be pertinent about your purchases! This is the second dual sale that S.H.S.O. has had in the past three weeks, the first was Red She-Hulk and Captain Marvel, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues in future months. I, for one, think this a great opportunity to beef up your squads and keep all the little Squaddies interested about the game after they have “Maxed Out” their other characters. 

Well, all the characters from the loading screen have been introduced as playable characters — except one. I am very curious to see how Ant Man will be introduced into the game, and whether or not he and Hawkeye will be able to team up with their famous arrow shot! One can only hope!

Stay tuned for updates and a full rundown of how the S.H.S.O. card game sells. A certain CBN movie reviewer and I will be battling it out as soon as it’s released! It’s Hero Up Time!

Movie News

Timelord Reviews: Nova Infinite Comic

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1264:]]Okay – the art was amazing and the writing was very well done for the type of story it is.  But let’s not get bedazzled by Immonen and Waid.  This is probably their first and last foray with this new character.  If you want to see what less talented writers and artists do with this new character, check out the next episode of Ultimate Spiderman this weekend.  I watched both premiere episodes last weekend.  Let’s just say my teeth still hurt from all the grinding I did of them as I suffered through that torturous hour.

I put “Nova” in quotes for a reason.  This is “Nova” in name only (i.e., NINO).

Here’s why this is NINO.

What we are presented with is a hackneyed premise:  Angst-ridden teenage boy mysteriously acquires strange powers which he barely understands.  While trying to do good, he unwittingly misuses these powers requiring rescue by headliner heroes.  Upon recovery, he adopts a smart-alec or over-confident attitude to hide his insecurity – again requiring mentoring and/or rescuing by headliner heroes as he persistently uses bad judgment and becomes the perpetual teen sidekick. 

How many times have you encountered that premise over the course of your comics reading history?  If you’re a long time reader, the correct answer is:  “Too many.” 

If you’re a long term Nova reader; your next thoughts should be, “Didn’t we already go through this in the 1970’s?  And again in the 1990’s?”  With Volume IV of Nova, I thought we had finally put this teen angst second-stringer tripe behind us – but apparently Alonso, Brevoort, and Loeb can’t trot that formula out to sell too many times.

Sure – the uniform borrows elements from the classic and some of Wolfman’s and DnA’s concepts have been retained (albeit in bastardized form).  But make no mistake, this is not Nova.  This is “Nova” – a pale imitation and an un-necessary downgrading reboot of a concept that had finally matured with the advent of Annihilation and Volume IV.

Frankly, if it was this or nothing – I’d have preferred nothing.  At least we’d have a history of some great stories and the concept would’ve remained un-sullied.

Disagree with my assessment?  I invite you to look at that last panel where scrawny unconscious teen “Nova” is carried away in the arms of big, tough, wise Iron Man.  That should tell you all you need to know about Sam Alexander.  He’s no Nova Prime.  He’s NINO. 

Movie News

Review: Swamp Thing #8

Week after week I ponder how to try and describe how great this book is. I have used the words brutal, chaotic, visceral and gut wrenching, but none of them can truly describe the achievements that Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy have accomplished with this issue.

Issue eight is something special all to itself. It is the culmination of all that has come before it, and a turning point that pushes the series into what it will become. It is a gestation of ideas and a birth of one of the greatest under used characters in comics. It is the revival and reveal of this generations Avatar of the Green, the pure unbridled fury of nature itself — Swamp Thing!

Alec Holland finally transcends past his mere mortal status, becoming one with the Green in order to save his true love — Abigail Arcane. But Abby has been evolving as well and Alec’s plight to save her, may undo the fabric of nature itself! The Rot is in us all, slumbering on the fringe of consciousness, but some of us welcome it’s horrific siren call, devolving into pure chaos. What happens when a blind love becomes an Achilles’ heel? Especially, when it gives the Rot the a chance at a killing blow!

I have prayed on bended knee in the House of Snyder numerous times before, thanking him for all his diabolical mastery. Today, I will preach about the cunning artistic skills of Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy. The pure Hell they can conjure on a page is astounding, any nightmare you have ever conceived doesn’t hold a candle to what they create! It is horrific and confounding, a tireless effort to break the minds of the reader and mold it to their own vision. If you can read a single issue of Swamp Thing and not cringe at least once — you are dead inside! From the majesty of Swamp Thing to the horrendously toothy Sethe, Paquette and Rudy are creating a masterpiece of the macabre that will leave you questioning your sanity!

If you have not been reading this book, I actually feel sad for you, but there is a chance at redemption! The trade will be out in May, and you can savor all the hellish brilliance over and over again! So get this book, read it now or store it away until May, either way you owe it to yourself to read something that challenges the boundaries of what great comics can be!

Movie News

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #8

Let me begin by saying, “Chris Bachalo is BACK!” After too long of a hiatus, Mr. Bachalo returns back to the school, and brings all his insane art sensibilities with him! And it’s the perfect time too, because Jason Aaron’s tale is certifiably, over the top insane as well!

Wolverine returns from space and is having a little trouble adjusting. That’s mostly do to the fact that his legs are both broken and fused in unseemly positions! I guess the bouncers on Planet Sin don’t take too kindly to thieves! But on the other hand, students don’t like their headmaster being put in a wheelchair either, which leads to more high flying space fisticuffs that are sure to appease any cosmic fan! Plus, Angel’s insane, Genesis finally lashes out, S.W.O.R.D.’s gonna need a bigger boat, and the Hellfire Club has a new hitman —Sabretooth! Crazy!

Jason Aaron isn’t holding anything back these days, and it is great to see his tales brought to life again by Chris Bachalo! There is a cohesion between their artistic abilities that make this book work at peak performance when they are together. It is stylized chaos that grabs you, shaking until you pay attention to how good it is. And it is one of the best X books on the shelves today! Even through the outrageous storylines, the heart of the characters shine brighter than all the distractions. It is Aaron’s attention to detail and an underlying order to the chaos, that makes us feel vested in characters that would be lost in the background by a lesser writer. Though the tales are quite quirky, they are crafted from the highest caliber!

If you like space and blood, fights and blood, casinos and blood and watching Wolverine puttering around in a wheelchair like a hairy Professor X — you will love this book! This will probably be the last chance to see some truly insane stuff before the highly regimented A vs. X storyline passes through the book — so get it while it’s hot! And be sure to check out the letters column at the end. This month all the letters are answered by one of my new favorite characters — Broo!

Movie News

Review: Animal Man #8

The Rot has come knocking at the door for Buddy Baker and his family — literally! They are drawn to the pure power of Buddy’s daughter Maxine, and will not surrender until she has become one with them. Even though Buddy will do everything in his power to stop their evil, will it be enough to keep everyone safe? Unfortunately — no.

Jeff Lemire has become one of my favorite writers since he began his quest to re-envision Animal Man, and take a great character back its roots. His ideas are disturbing and seep into your consciousness as you read along his winding tale of destruction. It is not the shock value that hits you the hardest, it is the knowledge that when you close your eyes — his horrific creations will be there smiling at you from the depths of the dark! There is a richness to his tales, one that will have you believe the bond between the Baker family will inevitably keep them safe, but in actuality, the only inevitable thing is complete chaos! 

This issue is a complete game changer for Buddy and Maxine, which in turn, makes it one for the entire DCU as well! Two shocking things happen in this issue, one held solely for Buddy while the other will have dire consequences for Maxine. Though I will not spoil Lemire’s tale by divulging more than necessary, I will say that I am extremely pleased Travel Foreman had the chance to draw the most gut-wrenching one before he left the book. You will be missed, sir!

Part two of “Animal vs. Man” will leave you gasping for air and beaming with pride that you had the foresight to pick up one of the best books on the shelves every month! Can Maxine still use her power to talk to animals when they are corrupted by the Rot? Is Buddy truly more than just a pawn in the eyes of the Red? You will find out both answers here — and you won’t believe how bad it can get!

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for April 4th, 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 for good health starts with these top five titles of the week!


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1205:]]1. Daredevil #10.1:  The” Point One” initiative, is Marvel’s way of making introductory issues for new readers to enjoy and learn about characters they may have not read yet. If you were ever curious as to why Daredevil keeps getting the push from Marvel, this issue more than proves why one blind guy is a total badass! Plus, it is a perfect lead-in to the “Omega Effect” crossover that will encompass Avenging Spider-Man, The Punisher and Daredevil!

2. Swamp Thing #8:  Scott Snyder finally reveals his vision of the Swamp Thing to the New 52! Wings, root blades — I have never seen a vegetable look so awesome! Get reading this book now before everything goes to Rot!

3. Animal Man #8:  Jeff Lemire’s “Red” to Snyder’s “Green,” will give you chills every time you turn the page! This one is a complete game changer to the “Animal vs. Man” storyline, and two characters will never be the same again! I love death in comics! Check out my full review.

4. Age of Apocalypse #2:  David Lapham brings the nineties back again — and it’s one hell of a ride! Original A.O.A. fans will be more than pleased by the shocking ending and all the cool tidbits that are thrown in! Plus, the return of — Cyclops! Wait! Isn’t he dead? I repeat — I love death in comics!

5. The Boys #65: Garth Ennis has always been known to have an uncanny ability to shock readers. As he enters the last round of this over the top book, the shocks become bigger and bigger! Here’s a little clue: What would the military really do if a team like the Avengers existed and they weren’t as nice as they are in the movies? A couple thousand rounds of armor piercing bullets can probably answer the question for ya! For the final time — I really love death in comics!

Movie News

Upper Deck Announces Super Hero Squad Collectible Trading Card Game!

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1184:]]April 24, 2012 will see the release of Upper Deck’s brand new collectible trading card game (CTCG) hit the shelves. But this isn’t just your ordinary CTCG, this is all about Marvel’s smash hit MMO — Super Hero Squad Online

If you have ever played S.H.S.O., you are well aware of the addicting in-game card battles that can help your squad level up. If you haven’t, well, it’s reminiscent of classic Pokemon style battles — but way cooler! Since the first time my daughter and I played a card battle, several months ago, I contemplated how much fun this game would be if you had actual cards to use instead of just virtual ones. Well, now it will finally happen!

Upper Deck, Marvel and Gazillion Entertainment, the makers of S.H.S.O., have teamed up to release a CTCG based on the in-battle card game. Some cards will duplicate the ones in the online game while others will be unique to the CTCG. The CTCG promises to be fast paced, easy to use and above all else — fun! But the best part of the CTCG, will be the ability to actually connect to the online game! Every pack of cards will have reward codes that can be redeemed within the online game for virtual rewards, such as silver coins or wheel tickets. There will also be randomly inserted “loot”cards that will score you exclusive online rewards like special items and even playable characters! 

The new Super Hero Squad collectible trading card game will be based on 300 cards, revolving around all the biggest Marvel characters. There will be four separate theme decks to get you started — Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine and the Hulk. Each one will include one super rare foil card and a collectible coin, just like those Pokemon decks of long ago. But you can also beef up your decks by purchasing “booster”packs of ten cards consisting of six common cards, three uncommon cards and one rare foil card. But the big daddy, the “top of the pile,” will be the Avengers vs. the X-Men two player dual deck that comes with two exclusive battle mats and collectible coin! 

So talk to your local shop owner about pre-ordering and prices, hopefully it won’t cost you 200 gold for a “booster” pack like it does in-game! Either way, my little “Squaddie” and I are already planning out our strategies against each other! It’s a great time to be a comic fan! Squaddies Assemble!

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

Starving for Summer in 2012

A Film Review of The Hunger Games

By: Lawrence Napoli


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1158:]]Is Hollywood land trying to make March the new beginning of the summer blockbuster season?  The reason I ask is because the hype that has preceded The Hunger Games is very close to rivaling The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.  However, hype alone, does not a successful blockbuster make.  It must have story, it must have intrigue, it must have star power and it must have spectacle.  The Hunger Games has all these and one more x-factor worthy of identifying: it has a major draw for young women 13-21.  Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, the woman’s blockbuster is here to stay and it’s doing something its previous manifestations have not.  Titanic (1997) and the Twilight Saga (2008) raked in the cash thanks in most part to droves of young women making multiple runs to the cinema, but those films largely appealed to classic romanticism of heterosexual feminine tendencies by featuring good looking young men as the main characters who were equal parts strong and understanding.  The Hunger Games, on the other hand, taps directly into girl power featuring a young woman as the protagonist who has an incredible ability to inspire young women in addition to men in a very leveled, respectable, non-cheesy or over-sexualized manner akin to Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). 

Young adult novels seem to be Hollywood’s second favorite gold mine of creativity next to comic books.  This trend worries me seeing how Hollywood is looking for every excuse on Earth to not have to generate original content.  However, if executed properly, the adaptation can still be wonderfully entertaining.  I found this to be the case for The Hunger Games despite not having read the books or knowing anything about the mythos.  That does not mean I found the story to be a flawless presentation.  Quite the contrary, the screenplay was riddled with plot gaps, glaze-overs and incomplete/irregular explanations.  This film attempts to present some generalized global conflict as the situation that necessitates the existence of said “Hunger Games” as a means of maintaining law and order.  Simply put, a few lines of text narrated by Donald Sutherland before the movie began was quite pathetic, and did nothing to lay out the social desperation facing the individual districts of what we presume is the former United States.  As an extension to that criticism, “hunger” itself is never developed as a specific plight on the populace, rather, a coincidence of extreme poverty and under-development, thus explaining how District 12 (at least) is a bit of an Amish paradise. 

The script by Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins fails at establishing the boundaries of this fictional world, but where it succeeds is in every scene that features Katniss Everdeen (our heroine) as a young woman well beyond her years in terms of responsibility, tact and boldness.  Every scene the audience bears witness to endears them further to Katniss as a character because her actions and words are prototypically good without being “goody two-shoes.”  Katniss needs to be tough in this unforgiving world, and has no problem making life and death decisions, but I feel she is written as almost too good at times.  Every decision she makes (even the one that lands her into trouble in the first place) always seems to work out with very minimal personal sacrifice.  I attribute this convenience to her “beginner’s luck” in taking the first steps in the transition from District 12 nobody to global symbol of hope and victory.  I fully expect the follow up films to The Hunger Games to involve more cerebral/personal struggles for Katniss beyond strangers that want to murder her because seeing how the hero reacts to failure demonstrates true character.  Regardless, this film pulls out all the stops to make you love Katniss for her innocence, her irreverence and her ability to adapt. 

Visual effects in The Hunger Games are nowhere close to being on the same level as Twilight, let alone Harry Potter.  Granted, this film doesn’t involve super-powered freaks or magic, but it does feature a stark contrast in technological prowess between the worlds of “The Capitol” and “District 12.”  For instance, a hover train is used to transport our protagonists to where their fates are to be determined, but it was seen only briefly from an aerial angle and at a great distance.  I feel that closer shots or dynamic pans and tilts to showcase the train would have left the audience at the same loss for words as Katniss herself upon boarding and traveling on such a marvel.  Then there was the “are they organic or are they digital” monster dogs towards the end of the film that weren’t particularly well detailed in any way which reminded me of the atrociously generic “hulk dogs” from Ang Lee’s failed adaptation of Hulk in 2003.  The one impressive example of visual effects was the “clothes on fire” effect used on two separate occasions to (once again) make Katniss more attractive to both her virtual audience and the real one in the theater. 

For a film that is meant to be about something as controversial as children killing children (for any reason), this film is surprisingly light on the action.  Of course, there is a very good reason for this, and it revolves around the fact that this film is rated PG-13.  With most of the kills happening off camera, and the ones that are seen being displayed exclusively in extreme close-ups, there really isn’t much combat displayed on the screen.  If the audience was shown this level of violence from medium shots and wide angles, this film gets an R rating — oh and by the way, loses all that filthy, ridiculous money it made on its opening weekend.  All of the violence and brutality is more implied rather than plainly observed, and that hurts the pacing of this film.  Perhaps the book paints a more thrilling fight for survival, but what the audience observes is more of a deadly game of hide and seek with an over-emphasis on the hiding.  Viewers beware: This is the unfortunate effect that the business of Hollywood has on the fiction of Hollywood which often results in the declawing of more dangerous (and interesting) source material.  If The Hunger Games film franchise wants to make the same kind of waves the novels did, the violence and the action must be upgraded.  

I was astounded at the amount of A-list talent attached to this picture outside of the teen-looking main characters.  Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson all have small, supporting roles in the same manner the adult thespians that populated the Harry Potter films supported its up and comers.  They all did fine jobs with extremely limited opportunities to shine, but the one marquee talent that left the biggest impact in terms of performance was the one not considered an actor in the first place: Lenny Kravitz as “Cinna.”  Yes, you read that correctly.  This rock and roller plays an image/fashion consultant to Katniss to aid her in playing the game outside the game of survival: gaining sponsors for third party aid inside the kill zone.  No other character embodies an adult’s perspective on the games as both compelling and barbaric.  Kravitz displays full confidence in his character’s experience in giving his “tributes” the best chances to survive while developing a genuine concern for Katniss as more than a sacrificial lamb.  His performance is so genuine that every line he delivers to Jennifer Lawrence feels like he is speaking to his actual daughter, Zoe, in real life.  This positive relationship is so vital for The Hunger Games because rich adults and poor children are clearly at odds in this unforgiving, fictional world, whether the children realize it or not.

Josh Hutcherson’s performance as Peeta, the romantic interest/co-tribute of Katniss does a fine job of complimenting her as a character.  Clearly, the role of Peeta is designed to develop a degree of stereotypical role reversal to his female counterpart.  Peeta wears his emotions on his sleeves, is more artistically attuned, is easier to talk to and is slightly less courageous than Katniss.  Josh excels in not overplaying the degree of “weakness” his character shares in relation to Katniss which is vital in maintaining the credibility of “girl power” in this film.  Peeta’s true strength lies in his sense of self and his limitations, and Josh relays this with an everyman’s candidness that only results from decent chemistry with his costar.  The one criticism I have for Josh, is the same I have for Ms. Jennifer Lawrence: The romantic sparks don’t exactly sizzle between them in this film, but then both actors were born in the 1990s.  Take that observation for what it’s worth.  A greater sense of comfort with each other should yield a more rewarding (and less awkward) relationship on the screen in subsequent sequels.

As for Jennifer Lawrence, I can say with full confidence that she is the queen of 2012’s blockbuster films.  Her breakout performance in Winter’s Bone (2010) yielded an Academy Award nomination for a performance in a leading role.  What’s interesting to note is that her character in that film is eerily similar to Katniss in The Hunger Games.  Both are stuck in the wilderness, both behave as parents to their parents, and although they are victims of circumstance, they take steps to do something about it.  Jennifer Lawrence defines confidence and command, and had she played Mystique as thus in X-Men: First Class, that character would have been more compelling than a jealous bimbo straight out of the valley.  But I digress.  Few young, American actresses could do the character of Katniss Everdeen justice without making her something she is clearly not.  Amanda Seyfried would make Katniss too sexy, Anne Hathaway would make Katniss too old, Amanda Bynes would make Katniss too goofy, Blake Lively and Megan Fox would be laughed at, Hayden Panetierre is too perky, and Kristen Stewart is too homely.  Jennifer Lawrence is just right because not only is she beautiful, but she actually has talent, and her appeal in The Hunger Games is refreshingly unisex.     

True girl power is not the concept of women simply being stronger than men; it is women showing an ability to surpass men on neutral ground (literal or figurative) without handicaps on either side.  Jennifer Lawrence and The Hunger Games represent Hollywood’s best attempt to present this idea as a blockbuster in recent memory.  I identify with Katniss not as someone I’d like to have sex with (i.e. the way Hollywood pushes women 99.9% of the time), but as an anonymous nobody that does the best she can with what she’s got and be damned if anyone else tells her otherwise.  I respect that idea because I strive for it.  In this day and age, where so many powerful forms of suggestion pervade our thoughts and minds, a little reminder about the strength of an individual’s will can be quite moving and empowering.  And guess what?  Women can make this idea just as inspiring as men, just not G.I. Jane (1997).

Movie News

Advanced Review: Danger Club #1

What happens when all the adults in your life are suddenly taken away? What if you are only a teenager when this chaos is brought into your life? What if this happens worldwide — all at the same time? Who is there to protect you, who makes the decisions about what to do, who will run the world?

You do!

That is the premise of Image’s new book Danger Club! A universe that is built solely of super heroes, suddenly is in deadly peril from outer space. Every adult on the planet leaves to save the world, but none of them ever return! It is up to their children to stand strong together, keeping the way of life as normal as possible. But tensions arise, and Apollo, the strongest of them all, sets himself up as self proclaimed “leader” of the world. A narcissistic egomaniac, Apollo professes love to all, but crushes any who oppose his reign. Today that reign of terror will end, at least if his former friends — Ivan, Jack, Yoshimi and Kid Vigilante have anything to say about it!

This book is a great look at all the classic stories that you grew up with in one stylistic amalgam for new readers. Comic fans will undoubtedly recognize the bevy of storylines reminiscent of all our favorite reads. Walker makes nods to Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Phoenix Saga, while building his own original tale off of them. It is a story that is reverent to the history of comics, and yet, paves its way for the future of it as well.

All are favorite archetypes are present, and even though they are embodied by teenagers, their heart and drive are those of seasoned veterans. That is the aspect that truly drives this story. Even though the world is free of adult decisions, if we raise our children to be good people and do what they can for their fellow man, they will be able to take care of themselves and each other. Walker tells a story of heroism at its roots, and what true heroes must do to take care of the world. 

Grab this book and enjoy the future of comics while reliving its past! It is fun and stylistic, with great art by Eric Jones that will blow you away! You owe it to yourself to try something new — this is it!

Movie News

Super Hero Squad Online: Update For March 29, 2012: Hawkeye

Squaddies Assemble!

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1128:]]As recently told in the last update, Super Hero Squad Online has began to release everything Avengers related! Today we see that theme continuing as the latest character to be released is everyone’s favorite archer — Hawkeye! Yes folks, Marvel’s new golden boy (he is being pushed to the forefront harder than the driver in a clown car!), has hit the S.H.S.O. screen before his big movie full debut! 600 gold pieces will get you this classic villain turned Avenger, but it’s worth it to rain down an array of trick arrows on your enemies! 

Also today, Jr. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (players that pay the monthly membership fee) are given the chance to purchase the original MK1 Iron Man armor! This is an exclusive only for members and it will put you back 2000 silver pieces. I have seen this classic character in action, both in battle and in the regular worlds, and it is quite impressive to say the least! So, if you are a member I highly recommend it!

Thirdly, there is a brand new mission that will cost you 200 gold. The Mole Man mission has finally hit the shelves and it is quite the sloppy mess trying to fight against the disgusting Moloids! 

Finally, there is a sale going on for a couple of characters. Both Captain Marvel and Red She-Hulk have been temporarily cut down to half their normal price, now costing a measly 300 gold each! So, get Captain Marvel and team him up with Nova to show your Cosmic pride!

Between Classic Cap, the Scarlet Witch booster packs, Hawkeye and now the MK1 Iron Man, you and your little Avengers should be more than ready for the bevy of villains that await you in Villainville! So gather up all your Squaddies and assemble your team, it’s going to be one Avenger filled summer and I can’t wait to dive right in!

Movie News

Review: The Mighty Thor #12

Today, it seems like all the Avengers books are wrapping up their current storylines in neat little packages. Could it be a certain movie that is forthcoming, or perhaps a crossover that has been hyped for six months? Either way, both New Avengers and The Mighty Thor finish their current arcs today and they go out with a — BANG!

Although I initially did not relish Fraction’s current arc – Tanarus and witches and trolls oh my – this conclusion story is exactly what I have come to see! The return of Thor and the rise of Asgardia as the sanctuary for the Nine Realms, has been outstanding! Full of battle heavy excitement and camaraderie, you cannot help but get swept up in the euphoric wave of clanging swords and war cries! But it is the revelation to all Asgardia that the one true Odinson has returned that gets your adrenaline pumping! It is classic and pure, reminiscent of all those Thor tales from long ago.

Fraction has brought this series back full circle to how he began it. Action, intrigue and the wonder that is involved with great Thor stories, you will find them all inside this issue. But my favorite part is that you are actually hearing the entire tale by a character telling it as a bedtime story. It is a great way to bookend the issue, and gives it a more mythical feel, something vast and epic. Plus, we learn the final fate of two characters that have gone through so much, that their reunion is one of pure joy. 

This is an issue that only those who have been reading the current arc will truly understand. So, if you are one of the last to cling to the Avengers ever growing bandwagon, I suggest waiting until next month to begin your quest for all things Avenger. But for those that have been hanging on the edge of your seats these past few months — GET THIS BOOK NOW! By the time you finish the final page, you will be saying,”All Hail Asgardia!”

Movie News

Review: The New Avengers #23

Bendis‘ “The New Dark Avengers” storyline wraps up here in all its brutal glory! Just when you thought it was safe to assume who the bad guys are – SMASH – Skaar strikes a thunderous blow for the cause of right! The excitement seems to escalate from page one, spreading like wildfire through the entire book!

Say what you will about Mr. Bendis, Marvel’s genius scapegoat sure knows how to amp up the thrill level in any book! Though I do wish the current storyline would have been more of slow burn than a blitzkreig – we just got Norman Osborn back in action people – I am more than happy with its blockbuster conclusion! Bendis gets to placate to every fan by giving each New Avenger a solo battle to showcase their skills. Well, almost a solo battle; my favorite horn head, Daredevil, gets into a couple tag team scuffles! But who am I to complain, at least he gets to grace the cover!

This was all action all the time, and I couldn’t imagine a better ending to the storyline. Though there is a thread of intrigue at the end, this was a pure unadulterated thrill ride of a book. A.I.M. agents getting thrown around, criminals in tights getting trounced, and a secret reveal that we all saw coming, but still cheered all the same! Adrenaline junkies take note — Bendis is the man you seek for action!

As good as the action was, it is the voice that Bendis brings to these characters that I will miss the most when he leaves. Spidey’s wit, the team joking about the Thing’s catchphrase and even the banter of the Dark Avengers, it all makes the characters seem more alive whenever Bendis puts pen to paper. Anyone can write action, but not all can write so we actually care about the characters. Fortunately, for now, we have someone who truly cares about these characters.

So, stop reading this and get the book before it’s gone like a Norman Osborn agenda! 

Movie News

Advanced Review: Avengers vs. X-Men: #1

(Editor’s Note: Comic Shops are already selling “Avengers Vs. X-Men” #1 this week as Diamond sent copies with this week’s regular batch of comics, not in a separate box, not part of the AvX party, and not embargoed. With that, Cosmic Book News offers this following spoiler free review.)


This is it! The moment all Avengers and X-Men fans have been salivating over, is finally here! The Phoenix Force is taking the fast track straight for Earth once more, forcing friends against each other for the fate of a single girl — Hope! The lines have been drawn, and there shall only be one victor — the fans!

The hype for this book has been palpable over the past six months. You couldn’t read a single Avengers or X-Men book without constantly being reminded that, “It’s Coming!” And finally, for once in a very long time, the hype has been worth it!

The slew of Marvel Architects that pulled this story together have done a tireless job. They created a slow burn read that sets the stage for the inevitable conclusion without glazing over any detail. Fans of Avengers or X-Men books will be obviously familiar with the ramifications of the Phoenix Force, but the writers have made sure even the first time reader of these characters, can follow along and not miss a single story thread. It is very smart and very well done.

Unlike other event books in recent years, the reasons for why these two dynamic teams of heroes are at odds actually makes sense! The Avengers see the coming of the Phoenix Force as a destructive entity that will threaten the very existence of man. But Cyclops is portrayed as a somewhat religious zealot, seeing the return as a chance for mutant rebirth across the globe, and using Hope as a catalyst for it. I, as a huge X fan, thought this was too far removed from Cyclops patriarchal role to the mutant race, especially after the Phoenix embedded itself in Jean Grey last time. It kind of sets Cyclops, not his entire Extinction Team, up as the villain of the series, but at least the writers thought process is well paced, and I can eventually agree with their decisions.

I will give no spoilers – got that Marvel- but I will give you this: stories like this one are why I have read comics for over twenty years! It is well paced, smart and engaging, and even though it is truly just a set up issue, you are engrossed in it and not just waiting for the next issue to get the ball rolling. By book’s end, you are more than chomping at the bit for Round 2 and everything else that comes with it! And I have to tell ya, it took five writers to give it to us — but the ending is one great, “Hell Yeah!” moment!

So, where do you stand? Mutant or super human, god or angel? With twenty-four Avengers against six X-Men, I stand with the Merry Mutants! I always loved the underdog!

(Editor’s Note #2: I stand with Captain America! – Cosmic Avenger Fan Matt)

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for March 28th, 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, make sure to add these books to your list of goodies. Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription for good health begins with these top five titles of the week!


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1110:]]1.  The New Avengers #23:  Bendis may be going off of the Avengers books he has steered for so many years, but this is the way it should be done! Intrigue, crazy villains and above all else — fighting! Only two words are needed to get you hyped about this book — Skaar Smash!

2.  American Vampire #25:  Scott Snyder’s blast from the past storyline continues here with Travis and Skinner going head to head to the death! Travis might be ready for Skinner but not for the revelation that awaits him. Good thing he’s “cool” enough to get over it! 

3.  Teen Titans #7:  Lobdell and Booth have created the teencentric book on the stands every month. Cool battles, cooler costumes, excitement abounds every page and the villains are just plain crazy! This is the embodiment of excitement!

4.  The New Deadwardians #1:  Okay, vampires and zombies have been way over used in the past decade. But Dan Abnett brings a dimension to the horror genre that is rarely seen — Victorian crime mystery! Great read for that little something different in your diet!

5.  The Mighty Thor #12:  THE RETURN OF THOR! Norse gods against an army of trolls with Thor and Ulik slamming each other sonless! You want action? You got it! Plus, a long awaited reunion of two lost warriors.

Movie News Reviews

Video Game Review: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Is This Game Garbage?

A video game review Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

By: Lawrence Napoli



[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1051:]]A little while ago, my crew of gaming and pop culture experts came together in a podcast to discuss the best video games of 2011, and how 2012’s lineup was apparently going to blow its predecessor away.  Well, you know what they say in regards to “the best laid plans of mice and men,” right?  Ninja Gaiden 3, the next chapter in a very popular series of ninja-action games has fallen flat on its face for having a completely irrelevant story and virtually no challenge.  Mass Effect 3 has sold an insane amount of copies, but this has led to a larger pool of passionate fans polishing their axes and pitchforks to lay siege to the offices of BioWare for concluding an epic fiction with one of the most controversially disappointing endings of all time.  This brings us to Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City or ORC, and I must remind the reader how this game was just about the hottest destination at this past year’s New York Comic Con.  The demo was brief, the booth was small and the line was long, but the game was fun; it was set in the Resident Evil universe and it featured the 4 player co-op slaughter of zombies. 

Fast forward to today, and the “full” game has not exactly hit the ball out of the park with critics and consumers.  What went wrong with this game?  What has been going wrong with 2012?  Have our expectations of worth in games swelled to such galactic proportions that “good” or “ok” games should all be mercilessly curb-stomped, and the studios that created them sent directly to bankruptcy hell?  I’m one of the worst people to play devil’s advocate in regards to the overburdening “higher standard,” as I frequently demand it in my film reviews, and specifically refer to Hollywood’s ever degrading standards as the sole reason why video games will one day replace movies as the dominant media entertainment art form.  People crave entertainment, and with limited resources, normal people cannot indulge in everything — which is why I write.  I provide the service of suggestion as passionately as I can in hopes of describing something that resonates with the reader not to make up his or her mind, but to highlight the good and the bad in everything.  That being said, ORC has no shortage of both.


ORC is a game that attempts to recapture the lightning in the bottle that was Capcom’s first 3 entries in the series for the PSX that revolved around the Raccoon City incident which introduced the world to a man-made zombie apocalypse.  Resident Evil’s 1, 2 and 3 all involved gruesome tales of survival, betrayal, conspiracy and horror that spawned a rabid fan base, a series of novels and a somewhat successful film saga.  As convoluted as many of the plot points have been in every game, it remains an ever intriguing story driven forward by an incredibly diverse cast of interesting characters that sets men and women of action against the corporate/new world order agents of chaos.  ORC has absolutely none of these story elements at work for itself.

ORC is a really expensive “what if” production inspired by Resident Evil, but is in no way connected to the gaming fiction’s canon.  The events of ORC explore the Raccoon City incident of the late 1990s from the perspective of the antagonists: one of Umbrella’s highly trained team of spec-ops mercenaries charged with eliminating all incriminating evidence of the corporation’s involvement with the murder of an entire city’s populace.  I must admit that this starting point had all kinds of potential, but this lackluster tale of “fetch this,” “dodge that,” “kill this,” and “destroy that,” couldn’t have been delivered by a blander cast of characters.  Sure, the spec-ops team all look cool in their black combat suits and night vision masks, but there is no variance to any of them beyond what you see.  These mercs could be robots, and it wouldn’t make one bit of difference to the player.  Heck, they could even be really smart zombies.  Point is, there’s a whole lot of blah, blah, blah in ORC that any attempt at a story is met with immediate annoyance on the part of the player because nothing is really at stake, none of the characters really care, and it seems fitting because the only interesting thing going on the entire time is killing zombies.  You would think people in a fictional zombie apocalypse would be more emotionally vested in actually surviving. 

Game Play

As yet another 3rd person, cover based shooter, ORC does nothing exceptionally well or anything egregiously wrong in regards to its controls.  Shooting guns is really fun as there is a noticeable difference in firing pistols vs. rifles vs. shotguns vs. SMG’s.  Effective range for each weapon type is vital to progressing through the game especially at higher difficulty levels, so don’t expect to be pulling off many headshots from a mile away with a shotty.  Aiming, however, is not quite as satisfying.  Once the player tightens in for precision, shifting the crosshairs tends to get a tad blocky which might be the result of lag, but more likely inadequate frame rate.  Tossing grenades is a bit of a disappointment because there is no indication of a throwing arc to gauge where the explosives will actually land.  Aiming and then throwing results in a general landing zone, but doesn’t take low ceilings or obstructions into account, and often results in grenade tosses that bounce back in your face.  Melee attacks have been significantly downgraded in terms of speed and power that I witnessed in the demo at Comic Con.  Still, learning the proper timing of CQC chaining into brutal kills is quite fun, but requires trial and error because there is no ability to lock on to targets, so “aiming” your knife attacks works in tandem with the movement analog stick.

General navigation is not crisp.  Sure, this is the first Resident Evil to solve the inability to shoot while moving conundrum, but that doesn’t mean movement amounts to a victory here.  Sprinting is fairly responsive, but changing course mid-sprint requires an all out stop, redirect and re-sprint in a safer direction.  The volume of threats on the screen will require a healthy amount of awkward “stops” and “turns” because staying in cover won’t save you.  Speaking of the cover system, the only way you can do this is by depressing directional control to literally move your character into various objects.  I would be a fan of any action title doing something with button execution that didn’t involve one button being responsible for every single animation, but ORC’s scheme is NOT the answer.  Going into and out of cover requires the precision of pressing a button.  Sometimes there is a slight delay in one’s character actually going into cover which may result in death, but the same can be said of a button-cover control scheme if the response time isn’t instant.  Moving in between cover is actually quite smooth, but not recommended during firefights because a defensive combat roll doesn’t exist in ORC.  Your character practically stands up straight when leaving cover which, once again, rings the zombie dinner bell serving up some tasty morsels of Umbrella spec-ops.


Action is the one and only name of the game in ORC, and it’s a good thing too because the constant need to shoot things and run away is one of the few good things going for this game.  The scale of zombie opposition is nowhere near the intimidating sea of undead one can witness in Dead Rising 2, but the utter frantic chaos that ensues more than makes up for it.  Most of the environments that the player navigates through are tight interiors which generate a decent amount of tension during shooting sprees.  This is only amplified at higher difficulty levels where friendly fire can inadvertently put down teammates in a matter of a couple stray shots. 

Unfortunately, one of the primary mechanics to this game actually detracts from the overall action: always having a full squad of teammates and the terrible AI that controls them.  This criticism is null and void if the player has three additional friends to fill every spot where discussing tactics and directing movement lead to the professional dispatching of undead opposition.  AI teammates, however, constantly block doorways, run directly into your line of fire, walk blindly into traps, infrequently use their special abilities and have no means of reviving the player if he or she goes down.  Yuck!  How on Earth could this AI be worse than Resident Evil 5 where the player could give an AI Sheva the most powerful firearm in his or her collection, and she would proceed to do nothing but knife zombies?   


As I wrote before, maximum entertainment value gets squeezed from ORC IF (and only if) you play either the extremely short campaign or various online competitive formats with friends.  If the reader has played an online competitive shooter before, the formats of death match, capture and return to base and survival modes will all be familiar with the exception of one: heroes.  Hero mode involves every player to select one of the iconic personalities from Resident Evil’s 1-3 and control them in a death match type competition with one important wrinkle.  Heroes (good or bad) absorb a TON of damage, so much so that 5 grenade launcher rounds followed by 2 minutes of uninterrupted melee attacks cannot put a hero down permanently.  Fan boys of the series may find the current selection of heroes to be bittersweet as “the master of death,” HUNK is available, but neither Wesker nor Chris Redfield are to be found.  Perhaps more characters and formats will be available via DLC.

There’s plenty of stat tracking for the player’s performance in campaign and online modes, but not in the way most people are used to in CoD shooters.  Kill/death ratios include every kill during competitive formats, which means that if someone on your team is terrible at killing human competition, he or she can still be useful killing zombies littered about every level while contributing to the team’s score which ultimately determines the winner.  But the NPC (non-playable-character) fun doesn’t end there.  BOWs (bio-organic-weapons) like tyrants and hunters make their way to the battlefield, and taking these bad boys down will yield as many points as killing human competition.  I like that getting owned by the same douche-bag in death match is something that the player has more control over by going to a less populated section of the map to focus on zombie kills.


ORC is the proverbial mixed bag when it comes to graphics.  Character models are extremely well detailed for Umbrella spec-ops, US Special forces and some BOW’s.  The same cannot be said of the level design.  The one exception to that criticism is the underground research facility, but otherwise, all of the hallways are dark, most of the open areas are bland, and the memorable locations (like the Raccoon City Police Department) simply do not generate wonder at any level.  I liked the damage effects on zombies.  If you take a shotgun to a zombie’s arm, head or leg at close range, BOOM!  It’s gone and the appearance of ripped off flesh remains.  Unfortunately, the overall look of the zombies themselves had a distinct copy/paste appeal to them.  Comparing the level of detail between Resident Evil 5’s majini to ORC’s zombies is like comparing the mastery of the English language between Shakespeare and George W. Bush.  

Final Thoughts

I cannot help but think that ORC is more of a well produced demo/beta rather than a full and complete video game worthy of the $59.99 price point ($69.99 for those of us lucky to get the extremely rare “Special Edition”).  The scope, game play and overall look of this video game are far too limiting which is quite ironic seeing how this series stood out from the crowd for being an expansive fiction.  It’s like developing a game about US counterinsurgency efforts in the Middle East while focusing only on the compound raid that ended Bin Laden.  Cool idea, but awfully brief and not very immersive.  It is important to note to the reader that this project wasn’t 100% Capcom.  Yes, Capcom published the game, but Slant Six Games developed it in Canada, and their only history of game development is with SOCOM games for the PSP and PS3 and none were considered to be massive successes or monumental fails.  Their games walk the fine line between good and mediocrity so much so that even I, an ardent fan of every Resident Evil game cannot give ORC a glowing endorsement. 

This is not an instant buy for most consumers because it simply is not refined enough to be worthy of having “Resident Evil” written on its cover art.  However, I cannot describe this game as garbage.  If the reader/player enjoys the action-packed slaughter of zombies everywhere and in multiple formats, ORC is at least worth a rental.  I continue to have a blast with this game because I have several real friends who jump into my squad in order to own zombies together.  If you find yourself with similar means, I would seriously recommend purchasing this.  If what you want out of this game is story, relevance or an intriguing take on the Resident Evil mythos — do yourself a favor and pass.  I would even go so far as to recommend forgetting this game ever existed if the reader/player doesn’t have any actual friends to play with, because matchmaking (even for campaign mode) often results in drop outs, leaving the player with an extremely handicapped team of AI that makes this game a chore. 

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for March 21st, 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, make sure to add these five titles to your list of goodies. Forget that apple a day nonsense, this “DOC’s” prescription to good health begins with these top five titles of the week!


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:988:]]1. Supercrooks #1: Mark Millar is back once again with the amazing Lenil Yu on artistic chores! What do you do if you’re a super criminal that keeps getting beaten by heroes? Move to Spain, of course! I mean, has anyone ever heard of a Captain Spain? Hell no! This book is awesome! Check out the review.

2. Ragemoor #1:  Jan Strnad and Richard Corben have converged to create an instant horror classic! Black and white, completely creepy, this is the book that will keep you up late tonight! Check out my full review here!

3. Batman #7: Scott Snyder has broken the Bat! Revelations galore in this issue and you won’t believe who Dick Grayson’s great-grandfather is! Get in now before the “Night Of The Owls” storyline hits all the Bat books starting next month!  

4. Kick-Ass 2 #7: The $#!& hits the fan in this series finale and no one emerges unscathed! Plus, there is a eight page preview of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons The Secret Service where Mark Hamil dies!! You should have used the Force, Luke!

5. B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Long Death #2 (of 3): Besides having the longest title on the list, this is one hell of a book! Raging monsters, mayhem, the Wendigo and a final battle that is completely awesome — this book has it all! Check out an advanced review here!

Movie News

Review: Super Crooks #1

Mark Millar not only assaults us this week with the wrap up of Kick-Ass 2, he literally punches us in the face with his brand new villain-centric book — Supercrooks!

Supercrooks, is the tale of Johnny Bolt and his crew of unlucky criminals who are sick and tired of being taken down by heroes. While other cadres of villains seem to have set themselves up quite nicely over the years, forming a hierarchy, Johnny is constantly getting the shake down. When their mentor crosses the wrong people, Johnny and his ex-fiancee decide there is only one thing they can do to save him, hit the score of their lives where there are no super heroes to mess up their plans — in Spain! 

Mark Millar is constantly bringing something fresh to the genre while nodding to aspects that came before. Johnny and his crew are reminiscent of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery, and Gladiator is Captain America if he actually had balls! Not that these characters can be confined into such tight comparisons, they are quite unique unto themselves! I love how frail and pathetic Johnny and his cohorts seem to be compared to the other characters in the book. It makes them think harder, trying to out guile the hierarchy that seems to run all aspects of their world. It gives them an underdog feel that makes you root for them, and yet, you can’t help but want to see them fail miserably just so their faces get smashed yet again!

That’s exactly what you can expect from a Millar book, a cunning story with a razors edge that will draw you in and then kick you in the balls! It is pure cerebral viciousness at its finest! You won’t find another book on the racks today that will make you think, cringe, applaud and scream “Holy $#!%!” quite like Supercrooks will! Well, except for Kick-Ass that is!

Movie News

Advanced Review: Ragemoor #1

Our good friends at Dark Horse have found it in their hearts to bestow a bevy of advance copies of this weeks books to the CBN offices. Hopefully, you checked out my other advanced review for the latest issue of B.P.R.D., Mike Mignola has been doing some amazing stuff! But Ragemoor, though within the horror genre, is not something from the mind of Mike Mignola. No my friends, it is from the classic horror duo of Jan Strnad and Richard Corben!

Ragemoor is steeped in pure classic horror and you will enjoy each and every black and white stunning page! Cut from the same vein as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, or more recently Stephen King’s Rose Red, Ragemoor is about a monolithic castle that is more alive than some of it’s inhabitants. Built on blood and pain, it seethes and grows without the help of man. It’s own demonic rage is fuel enough to render itself larger with each passing day! And when a long lost uncle comes back to claim ownership, Ragemoor has plans all it’s own!

Horror fans have yet again been blessed with the artistic talent of Richard Corben! At seventy-one years old, Mr. Corben is still turning out some of the most amazing art I have ever seen! His skill is unprecedented, challenging the most artistic talent in the field today, and inspiring those itching to break into the business. Combined with the compelling tale by Jan Strnad, this duo has created a contemporary classic that nods to the past while forging the future of horror comics. You are literally waiting for Vincent Price to enter the panel, putting his stamp of approval upon a book that can bridge the gap between then and now. If you are remotely interested in the horror genre at all, this is the book that will make you an instant fan for life! I cannot recommend it enough!

Movie News

Advanced Review: B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Long Death #2

2012 is the year the Mignolaverse all goes to hell — quite literally! With the “death” of Hellboy, the evolution/de-evolution of Abe Sapien, the wayward roaming of Liz Sherman and the impending doom of Fenix, there is only one being that can help off set the hordes of evil knocking on reality’s door — Johann Kraus! But instead of leading his squad against the forces of evil, Johann wanders away on a mission of revenge. Seeking to find Captain Daimio might not cost him anything, but it will cost his squad much more than they are willing to lose! 

Mike Mignola and James Harred have created a tale that is astonishing! We all know Mignola can spin an amazing story about the occult and the warriors that stand tall against the forces of evil, but this book is all about James Harred! The art is utterly amazing! There is a fluidity, a naturalness to it that makes every page feel alive. Even the most grotesque scenes, and there are a lot of them, have a unique quality that helps transcend past the written tale of the book. B.P.R.D. books have always had an extremely high caliber of artists waiting in the wings, but as of now, James Harred has taken top billing on my list! Not to be left out in all the artistic praise, check out the viciously outstanding cover by Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart — this is why people are afraid of the dark!

This is an extremely pleasing read filled with all the outlandish horror aspects we have become accustomed to without being complacent. B.P.R.D. fans will be pleasantly surprised with the return of a certain “monster” and all the references to past storylines, but new readers will have a hard time feeling comfortable in the vastness of the Mignolaverse. But anyone can enjoy the creative, artistic talent of James Harred, and no other book can boast having a final battle quite like this one! I have read comics for twenty-five years and have never seen anything like it! 

If you have never read a B.P.R.D. book before, I recommend picking up a bundle of trades and get in on a fantastic series before it all goes to hell!

Movie News

Review: The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #6 (of 6)

This is the end of one of the coolest new books to be released from the Image stable in a long time! Jordan and Moore created something that was an all out gore filled slugfest! But the brutality of the book would have meant nothing if Jordan had not made us care so much about these characters right from the start! It was a true character piece that made you ponder just how a semi-introverted teenager would deal with the sudden onset of certain “talents.” But the best aspect, is how Jordan built a great cast of secondary characters that are as critical to the story as Luther Strode himself, sometimes even more so! The flesh rending and complete carnage that assaults you throughout, is just icing on the cake!

The series finale has Luther finally go toe to toe with the Librarian, not only for the life of his mother, but for the very humanity of Luther himself! What ensues, is one of the most insanely grotesque battles that I have ever seen in a comic series! At least Felipe Sobreiro only had to spend money on red paint this month! The tragic end of this tale will leave you thinking about how far things have spiraled out of control. A young man only wanted to be able to protect his mother from an abusive husband, what happens to him is horrific and shocking. Does the loss of our loved ones define who we will become or is it the sheer loss of our own humanity that will make us strive to be more than we ever were before? Either way, Luther will transcend all that he was at the beginning of this tale six issues ago! 

I will miss this book immensely, not just for the pure adrenaline rush of the over the top violence, but for the finely crafted characters as well. It will be tough knowing that I won’t be able to sit down each month with Pete and Petra and especially Luther, but I am thankful just to have met them in the first place!  I had the pleasure of meeting both Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore at last year’s NYCC, and these two complete opposite geniuses, will undoubtedly have more coming to us in the future about a certain Mr. Strode. But until October comes, and we can get our hands on The Legend of Luther Strode, just pull up a cozy chair and dive into a great medley of chaotic fun brought to you in the iconic Image way!

Movie News Reviews

GameFest!: An Introduction to “The Art of Video Games”

The Art of Video Games: An Introduction

Smithsonian American Art Museum 2012

By: Lawrence Napoli


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:939:]]The Art of Video Games exhibit is the brain child of Chris Melissinos a veteran producer in the gaming industry who currently serves as Sun Microsystems’ Chief Evangelist and Chief gaming officer.  This exhibit showcases the AV art of gaming from its birth to current manifestation mostly through a multitude of TV and projection booth installations that not only displays the software, but the hardware as well.  This opening weekend is being supplemented by GameFest!, a three day festival featuring open game playing, live music inspired by gaming, movie screenings and panel discussions with current industry professionals.  The lineup of industry notables is quite impressive: Don Daglow, RJ Mical, Mike Mika, Rand Miller, Keith Robinson, Paul Barnett, Mark DeLoura, Ken Levine, Kelly Santiago, Nolan Bushnell, Hideo Kojima and Robin Hunicke. 

Recognition by the Smithsonian is clear evidence of gaming and gaming culture as a significant presence within American culture beyond some taboo cult.  Art is clearly in the eyes of the beholder and while today’s AAA games rival major Hollywood films in terms of production value, the fundamentals of combining malleable imagery with sound, music and text has been a part of the video game at every stage of its evolution.  When the status of “the observer” gets elevated to “the player” the impact of the art within a video game on the individual becomes much more tangible due to the level of interactivity with said art through mechanical control devices such as joysticks, gamepads, motion control and wireless motion tracking. 

The art of the video game represents a collision of creative activities, in and of themselves, considered to be art forms such as programming, drawing, orchestrating, acting, cinematography and writing.  As media entertainment is in constant flux due to the rapid development of technological capability, the video game is merely an additional link in the chain of communication that binds humanity together; linking the creator(s) with the rest of the world.  The potential for influential social commentary remains relatively untapped as video games have not become regularly referenced in the discourse of human behavior such as literature and the cinema.  However, the gaming industry seems to be heading in that direction as games become more cinematic in its pursuit of narrative synergy with the player.

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