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Review: Suicide Squad #6

Harley Quinn has broken out of Belle Reeve prison, and Amanda Waller will not let that jeopardize her plans for the Task Force X program. “Suicide Squad” has been given their orders — bring Harley back any way you can!

Adam Glass is insane! Thank the Lord for that! This book is riddled with bullets and blood, midget clowns and man-eating sharks, and yes the rumors are true — good olpuddin‘ is thrown in there, too! The Joker has finally made his full debut in the new DCnU, not just a skinned face pinned to a wall! And even though it is through flashbacks that we see our insane fiend, it is well worth it! 

Though the hype has been about the Joker’s appearance, it is the origin of Harley Quinn that is the most intriguing part of this book. What could ever make Dr. Harleen Quinzel into one of the most deranged characters in the DCnU? Glass gives us an intense analyzation of how a devious mind can sift through your thoughts, finding the triggers within that will change you forever. The back and forth between Harley and the Joker is pitch perfect, leaving you with the feeling of two caged animals eyeing each other for weaknesses. A well played chess match that will leave one of them scarred and both of them smitten.

Adam Glass may well be insane, but his writing is completely engrossing. From the Harley horde to the eventual realization as to where Harley is truly going, Glass gives us an emotional roller coaster that is coated slick with blood! Not only does he create a solid tale of mayhem for his own book, he even intertwines storylines that are concurrently going on in Stormwatch, Green Arrow and Detective Comics! Amazing!

This is my “fun” pick of the week! It has everything a favorite comic needs to let you escape from reality for awhile. Guns, girls, razors, bullets, Siamese cross dressers — you name it, and Glass throws it in! But enough about what I think, get this book and enjoy one hell of a ride!

Movie News

Review: Severed #7

Secrets are strange things. Sometimes they are shared amongst friends, becoming a special bond between them. Sometimes they reside within a single soul, fascinating or terrible, the choice is solely theirs. But sometimes, a secret is something that is hidden so deep, it becomes forgotten. A wall built up just so we can try and live a normal life after we have lived through a nightmare. These are the secrets that are the most dangerous, because sometimes they come back to bite us again!

That is exactly the story that Snyder and crew lay before us. A secret told to protect the innocent lives that have formed around Jack Garron over the years. His wife and family have never been told the truth about what happened to his arm, it was easier that way. But now, decades later, a scorched photograph was given to his grandson, and the secret of his youth came screaming up from his memory! 

Snyder and Tuft have given us a tale that is as ancient as time and yet, still as scary today as it ever was. It is about the purity of evil and how, even when we think we have bested it, it never goes away. It seethes through the years, waiting and mending itself for when we are at our weakest. Then, and only then, will the game begin anew.

This tale is nothing short of fascinating! It is emotionally jarring and will leave you with a sense of awe at how well the writers have silently crept into your consciousness, sifting through your fears. It is a tale that is far too short, not that it isn’t thoroughly fulfilling, but rather, you yearn for it to continue on forever. There just isn’t enough options on the shelves these days to compete with the quality that is found in Severed! It is a visceral look at what life can bring when you are chasing a dream blindly. Our peripherals will hide shadows that creep beside us, until the horrors eventually over take you. And then what, do you fight for the very life you were trying to change, or do you simply crumble from the fear inside you? 

A thank you has to go out to the entire creative team that has given us a wonderfully, horrifying book over the past seven months. Severed is a tale that is not confined to the medium it was conceived in. It is something that can bring a larger scope to the medium, creating new readers that can appreciate the fact that, sometimes, great pieces of literature can be found in comic shops. 

If you haven’t traveled down the vicious road that is Severed yet, you are not too late! Not only will the hardcover edition be coming out in April, I already have a spot picked out on my shelves, but you can also leave your comments and praise at They love to hear your own thoughts and stories — so check it out!

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for February 8th, 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 you 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 books of the week!



1.  Severed #7:  Scott Snyder’s classic look at American horror reaches it’s conclusion! This is the best mini-series I have read in a very long time and if you haven’t been reading this one — you missed out on something amazing!

2.  Wolverine and the X-Men #5: Kitty’s pregnant, Beast teaches a biology class inside a living mutant and the school is completely out of money! Jason Aaron continues his fabulous run on a series that is both fun and thought provoking!

3.  Suicide Squad #6:  The hunt for Harley Quinn begins with this issue! Plus, this is the only place you will be seeing the Joker anytime soon, too bad it’s only in flashbacks! Great story!

4.  Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #2 (of 5):  Mignola’s pulp hero returns for his second mini-series and you will be kicking yourself if you don’t pick this one up! B.P.R.D. fans will be pleasantly surprised by the last page reveal!

5.  Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #529:  David Liss‘ fantastic work, on redefining the Black Panther for future generations, ends here with the series finale! This underrated character has never before been so appealing!

Movie News Reviews

Review: Modern Warfare 3: A Critical Perspective On FPS’s In General

FPS’s Suck and These are the Reasons Why

A Video Game Review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

By: Lawrence Napoli



How do I hate thee, FPS (First Person Shooter)?  Let me count the ways:  One, for the ignorant masses you attract like moths to the flame.  Two, for your lack of innovation.  Three, for the shameless way you “reward” twitch reflexes.  Four, for your inability to inspire team tactics.  Five, for the curious ways you make online matches.  Six, for the fact your single player campaign is merely a dressed up tutorial.  Seven, because everyone wants to be just like you.  And eight, because no other genre reaffirms negative stereotypes in regards to video games and gamers in particular.

Now before I start getting angry e-mails from clans and pro leagues, let me say that Modern Warfare 3 is an excellent video game, capable of inspiring a great deal of fun.  This isn’t political flip-flopping on my part (despite this article being about “curb-stomping the FPS genre”).  It is a statement of fact because I have found the Modern Warfare series to be uniquely satisfying; so much so, that a non-FPS aficionado like myself has gotten around to platinum-ing Modern Warfare 2 and am VERY CLOSE to doing the same with MW3.  Unfortunately, the thrill is already wearing thin, despite only owning this game for a month.  In this regard, MW3 definitely feels like a one night stand rather than a more fulfilling and hour consuming relationship.  Let’s face facts folks, gaming is not a cheap hobby to get into and it doesn’t look like we’ll ever see things getting better for the consumer, what with SOPA and the potential death of the used games market on the horizon (thank you Xbox 720).  Most games that I purchase are due to an interest in the title that is independent of its overall popularity.  I must admit that I bought MW3 (and MW2 before it) because EVERYONE was playing it, it was on sale for $40 and I am a shameless trophy whor. . . er. . . hunter.  Having played through what will likely be the best selling game of all time in MW3, I can see why it wasn’t on anyone’s short list for game of the year in 2011. 

MW3 appeals to the ignorant masses the same way Nintendo Wii appeals to non-gamers.  It’s a numbers game and the video game industry is interested in one thing and one thing only: MONEY!  Unlike the Wii, the FPS genre doesn’t attempt to shake down grandma and grandpa to buy into something for themselves that they’ll lose interest in a matter of weeks.  In fact, all FPS’s have a history of appealing to hard core, serious gamers that have had enough of an interest in counter-culture to reap countless hours of pleasure by engaging in virtual, ballistic homicide.  For a time, the FPS defined the very notion of counter-culture, but today, with this country’s ever growing comfort with violent imagery and the frequent video footage of US troops doing their duty in whatever foreign country happens to be the flavor of the week, everything about MW3 is as conventional as video games can deliver.  I don’t have a particular problem with this kind of shift to the mainstream so long as it doesn’t affect the quality of the product and unfortunately it has – cue MW3’s multiplayer mode and the knuckleheads that populate it.  Online competitive and cooperative modes to MW3 represent the majority of time that any player will spend on MW3, and if it’s one thing that can be assured about playing online, you will have to deal with people who don’t know how to play, show no willingness to learn, will cry like little girls every time they die and may get so frustrated that they’ll sabotage their own team just for kicks.  This is what happens when an overabundance of 10 year old boys con their relatives into buying them M-rated games like MW3 and that ruins a gaming experience.  It’s not like Activision can plead ignorance in reference to this point because this game’s major commercial partnership to promote its release was with Mountain Dew.  How many pre-teens drink that legalized crack cocaine like water? 

The lack of innovation in the FPS has been one of this genre’s calling cards recently, but it is especially true with MW3.  My day job is in retail. and I cannot tell you how many complaints I’ve heard from customers about this game specifically being “an expansion pack to MW2.”  It is a valid argument to make: interfaces are the same, game play is the same, game modes are the same.  The game is just newer with some more diverse environments and tries to trick you into believing they are interactive environments when they are merely fancy commencements to the beginnings of stages.  There are some improvements to make note of like the inclusion of survival mode (which is really a remix of zombie mode from Black Ops) and new kill streak bonuses like “becoming a juggernaut,” one of the iconic staples for this franchise.  Unfortunately, there have been a couple of issues regarding the level of “invincibility” the player is afforded once he or she dons the tactical armor suit.  First it’s too weak, then it’s too strong and each time there were patches to “fix” it.  I do not understand why such a minor alteration to game play wasn’t planned, programmed and play tested prior to release, but then Call of Duty desires to become the Madden of FPS’s: a new title every year that requires minimal effort while yielding maximum profit. 

MW3 “rewards” twitch reflexes more so than any other FPS in history to my recollection.  “Well no duh!” says the FPS fan, “that’s what shooters do.”  I fully understand that the player’s ability to identify a threat on the screen, aim at said target and dispatch with extreme prejudice is what separates the bad from the good from the great from the pros.  This is what is considered to have excellent twitch reflexes.  My major criticism of this fact is that MW3 does not require prolonged marksmanship in order to take down targets (unlike the higher difficulties of campaign mode), making the initial “twitch” of snapping to a target much more than half the battle.  It may be less realistic, but games incorporate a shield/armor/protection system to impose a prolonged marksmanship standard in order to counter common exploits in multiplayer competitive formats like: camping out respawn points, differences in individual ping rates and server/user lag.  Challenging the player with not just making your first shot count, but the ten that follow it allows those targeted to at least have a fighting chance to counter.  MW3 clearly values the realism of the preemptive strike over anything else which is great for the virtual training of real world soldiers, but not a very effective form of entertainment.  

Despite this dedication to “realism,” MW3 doesn’t reward the individual that employs team tactics and actually inspires players to run around like loose cannons to advance in level more quickly so as to unlock a more powerful arsenal.  It’s all about accumulating that kill count and no one likes their kills to be “stolen” by one’s teammates firing on the same target as you.  What better way to assure an individual’s performance by running off on your own?  The only problem with that is that those considered to be “great” players and 100% of pro’s ALWAYS use team tactics, thus making the rogue trooper a glutton for 2, 3 (or more) on one’s – which always results in death.  How about bonuses for combo kills when the whole squad empties rounds into a single target?  This frustration is only amplified in survival mode when the name of the game is SURVIVAL, which means that being in close proximity to your 1 squad-mate if he or she gets downed is necessary to revive them quickly.  Squatting at opposite ends of the map is a strategy for imbeciles yet is a common occurrence in this game mode.

Match making in MW3’s multiplayer modes is somewhat of a mystery to me.  It may be a little old school of me to say this, but I miss the old days of lobbies that waited to be filled.  These lobbies would be a little more descriptive of the type of match you were going to join as well as the other players that were going to play, and if you didn’t like the layout, you weren’t committed to that match.  MW3 (and just about every other FPS out there) has evolved past this archaic method in favor of blind server match ups which really speeds up the process of going from match to match with minimal down time (server permitting, of course).  Unfortunately, the player has no control over the matches he or she is getting into which means there is a chance (more like a certainty) that you could wind up in a game with nothing but pre-pubescence or a high level clan that takes pride in noob hunting – neither of which is very enjoyable which could be corrected with a more comprehensive and structured match making system that takes player choice into consideration.  Match making in Survival or Spec Ops is outright broken.  One in ten player match ups results in a pairing that is productive for me.  The rest of the time, the other player is AFK, a stupid child or a knucklehead that begins the match by knifing me in the back only to revive me and then knife me once again.

There once was a time (not so long ago) when FPS’s were singular experiences.  Where you turned something on and a challenge was beset before an individual and it was only the virtual environment itself that stood between the player and the goal.  The dawn of the multiplayer experience has brought the ever adapting challenge of human competition, and many regard this type of game as the true mark of accomplishment and advancement because software behaves in defined patterns, and all the player has to do is “learn the trick” to beat the computer.  Unfortunately for the FPS, this has led to an unbalanced shift in attention to online formats which has sacrificed the quality of single player modes with the exception of the BioShock franchise (an FPS still dedicated to story, character and drama above all else – none of which you get by running around trying to shoot people in the head, akin to death match).   MW3 is no exception despite the fact that its single player campaign produces an infinitely practical and somewhat plausible series of fictional events.  It is important to note how the FPS format leaves character identification, relation and development at a severe disadvantage to the player because the player never sees what his or her character looks like.  MW3 is so shameless about the player assuming the role of “some guy” that the player jumps to and from multiple faceless names on various fronts during the global conflict it depicts.  This kind of disconnection between character and player takes the concept of story and relegates it to second class citizenship.  Thus, the single player campaign degenerates into little more than a prolonged tutorial that gets the player acclimated with the basics of control and nothing more.

As the Modern Warfare franchise happens to be the gold standard of the FPS genre, every other game out there so desperately attempts to emulate (if not outright copy) elements of its game play and graphics so as to duplicate equally impressive sales numbers.  The one benefit to this has become somewhat of a standardization of button layouts: left shoulder buttons aim, right shoulder buttons fire, analog sticks navigate and so on and so forth.  Even if one is unfamiliar to FPS controls, learning it once will give you the skills and comfort to slide into any future FPS game.  The bad part about being the coolest kid on campus is that copycats like you so much that stark deviations from the formula are looked upon as undesirable, thus feeding back into the whole “lack of innovation” problem I mentioned earlier.  Other FPS’s distinguish themselves in subtle differences such as the inclusion of vehicles, larger maps, different terrain, but the lynch pins of these games don’t really change.  The player is a member of some kind of army, the standard array of realistic shotguns, side arms, assault and sniper rifles are available, the bad guys are Russians, Nazis or terrorists, movement is rarely more dynamic than running, health regenerates if you can find cover and head shots are inconsistently reliable against AI and human opposition.  Does all of this sound familiar to you?  It should, you’ve only been there and done that a hundred times. 

Finally, I must make note of the negative connotation that is attracted to the gaming community as a result of the shear presence of FPS’s and Modern Warfare in general.  True gamers know there is a difference between themselves and the knuckleheads that pop in a disk every once in a while.  The true gamer is interested in playing many if not all game types, thus exposing the individual to more than the concept of “shoot the bad guy in the face to win.”  Coincidentally, these individuals tend to have been exposed to better education and life experiences to develop the intelligence and intrigue to be interested in gaming variety in the first place.  These factors also trend against this kind of individual being a racist, bigot, sexist or general malcontent, i.e. the “knuckleheads” I specifically refer to that make all gamers look bad.  You know them as the jerks that cross the line of simple trash talk into the realm of verbal abuse in online gaming.  Guess what kind of game the knuckleheads all but exclusively play?  FPS’s and every iteration of Call of Duty

Obviously, these cretins do not compose the majority of gamers, but the rest of society has specific phenomena to create their own generalizations about the connection between human behavior and video games.  How many trucks carrying copies of MW3 were hijacked in France last year?  What FPS game was credited with inspiring Columbine?  What kind of war game does the military use in training?  These kinds of stories hit the main stream media like an uppercut from Ali and the opinionated fallout is impossible to curtail.  To suggest that FPS’s (or video games in general) were the direct cause of these events would be irresponsible, but to suggest they have absolutely nothing to do with the equation would be dumb.  MW3 and FPS’s in and of themselves are not the problem and I do applaud their efforts in addressing the toxic online environment by being more vigilant in the banning of abusive users, but until problematic players become better people, the stigma will remain.  This last point I make about FPS’s is less of a criticism and more of an observation, but it doesn’t make the situation “suck” any less and ought to be discussed because awareness can hopefully inspire enlightenment.

Movie News Reviews

When the Blair Witch Meets Akira: A Film Review of Chronicle

When the Blair Witch Meets Akira

A Film Review of Chronicle

By: Lawrence Napoli


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:594:]]Chronicle is the most realistic depiction of every nerd’s, comic book fan’s, sci-fi aficionado’s and disenfranchised youth’s unadulterated wet dream come true.  Kudos to this film’s trailers for doing exactly what they should: get the idea of the film across without spoiling the story and without deceiving a potential member of the audience into expecting more than what the film actually delivers (the calling card of the majority of film trailers).  A very small part of me is disappointed that this film comes up short in the “surprise” department, but what it lacks in twists makes up for in impressively effective visual effects reminiscent of Paranormal Activity as opposed to the over the top plasticity of Star Wars.  The estimated budget of $12 million dollars seems far too low for what the overall visual style of Chronicle delivers.  It goes to show you what even off the shelf software is capable of in the hands of a talented CG artist, but without some dedication to story, even the prettiest movies fail in the eyes of the audience (thank you Skyline).  I will not sit here and tell you that this is the best “superpower” fiction ever written, because the story has some glaring deficiencies, but the plot is simplified and layered with some very relatable human drama that is generated from the desire for acceptance in high school (and really, for the rest of our human lives).  I found this film to be entertaining and thought provoking in that it asks the age old question as to why human beings treat one another like garbage.  When you really think about it, answering this question seems like it could unlock the true potential of our species because when we aren’t murdering each other, we happen to accomplish some incredible feats of good when we work together.  Food for thought.

Chronicle, although being a story primarily concerned with what could happen if teenage Americans got superpowers, is really a story about how young people are products of their environments and how not everyone comes from a happy, nuclear household in the ‘burbs.  Without guidance and education, the ignorant are left to their own devices and more often than not, they make some very bad choices.  Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard, seen and felt this before through countless movies and TV shows as well as real life tragedies such as Columbine and the Blacksburg massacre.  Chronicle is most interested in addressing the negativity that results from broken homes and bullying, two things I personally despise and identify as culprits for manufacturing some of the worst human beings in history.  The story is written in a very personal way by co-writers Max Landis (son of director John Landis) and director Josh Trank.  If one is still cognizant of the heaven or hell that high school was for you, instant relatability shouldn’t be a problem.  The one big problem, however, is the fact that the only real character development that the audience is privy to is of the main protagonist/antagonist Andrew because it is his video camera that is “chronicling” the amazing things that happen to him and his friends when they encounter something clearly not of this Earth.  Other perspectives simply do not flesh out any other character in this film, which is a real tragedy because Andrew’s hard luck tale is vintage villainy to be contrasted with.  Magneto never decided to be “evil” on a whim.  There were very real and personal reasons to explain his behavior, and it is only by contrasting an origin like this with another perspective (say, Charles Xavier) that one can find any appreciation for the difference between “good” and “evil.”  Budget limitations aside, this kind of movie needs better character development and unfortunately, the “found footage” or documentary style narratives have been (for the most part) completely unsuccessful at communicating this to an audience.

And speaking of that filmmaking style, I wonder if director Josh Trank made the right choice in using it in the first place.  The benefits are quite obvious: the documentary style enhances the realism of every visual effect, it’s much easier to set up shots and light scenes and (most importantly) it’s very economical.   The drawbacks are that it limits the perspectives of the story, imagery only progresses in a series of jump cuts that may or may not lose an audience and not everybody likes watching the jarring motion of hand held camera work all the time (although Chronicle features much smoother camera motion as a result of a very clever plot device).  Perhaps if this style of filmmaking weren’t so overexposed with a more impressive pedigree to reference, I would say that it’s a major part of what makes this film unique, but I really don’t feel Chronicle gains much from it.  Yes, the sky sequences are quite fun and the final confrontation is epic in scale, but a traditional narrative style could have vaulted these moments into the upper stratosphere (pun intended).  Much of the actual action during these sequences is masked by Andrew’s single camera or by several fixed cameras of varying sources throughout the city.  Instead of selecting one style over another, perhaps a blend would have served this film better in order to maximize the most exciting action sequences.  Still, when the boys get to using their powers, enough gets showcased to please the eyes and wow the mind.

There were a lot of actors used for this film (especially extras), but there’s only one performance worth analyzing, and that is by Dane DeHaan who plays the hero/villain Andrew.  Dane is still breaking into the Hollywood scene, but he’s already showing the makings of a very intense actor.  Any fans of the HBO series In Treatment season three know Dane by his impressive performance as Jesse and all of that pent up hostility, insecurity and rage carries over to his performance in Chronicle.  Having a relatively skinny and unimposing physical presence makes him a perfect choice for the prototypical high school dweeb, but when his character is called upon to elevate his status, all of that strength is conveyed through the young man’s rather intimidating face.  However, the power of his unbridled anger is bested only by his ability to express profound sadness for being a social outcast at school, not having any real friends, having an abusive father and having a mother that is deathly ill.  It is this aspect of Dane’s performance that is most impressive, and is perhaps the only reason why anyone in the audience would have sympathy for this kind of character and any emotional investment in the movie at all.  Towards the end of the film the Andrew character practically disappeared to me, and I started seeing Tetsuo wreaking havoc like he once did in down town Neo Tokyo in Akira.  Dane DeHaan is definitely a young actor to keep your eyes on in the coming years of Hollywood filmmaking.

Chronicle is a great deal of fun if you have ever been the target of being bullied because an awful lot of knuckleheads get what’s coming to them and I can’t lie, it’s quite satisfying to see.  DeHaan’s performance is soon to be the universal image of nerd rage around the world, but I wonder if a PG-13 rating is a little too light considering the point I’m about to make.  Bullying is still a significant problem in raising America’s youth, but our culture’s continued acceptance of all things graphically violent combined with a little internet research does not provide our kids with the proper tools in handling the situation.  As tragic as Columbine was, the young haven’t quite gotten the message that it wasn’t something to aspire to considering all of the “near Columbine” events that have been thwarted by the combined efforts of teachers, concerned students and law enforcement across this country.  We’re still not addressing the problem at the source, namely, why young people get so negatively charged that they would think about vigilante vengeance so seriously that they rationalize it as an appropriate response.  Even the best school facilities, caring teachers and mentor programs pale in comparison to some good old fashioned love and guidance from a parent.  Chronicle is not afraid to present this scenario for as plainly as it is and as easily as a younger person would come to such a ludicrous response.  Therein lies the most thought provoking aspect of this film, and that alone makes this a more than worthwhile experience.  Oh, and their super powers are totally cool!

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile for February 1st, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

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


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



1.  Swamp Thing #6:  Scott Snyder continues to prove he is the new face of horror, and this book will embed itself in your nightmares for weeks to come! Just a tip, leave the lights on for this one! Check out my review for all the gory details here!

2.  The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #5: Luther is finally forced to make a decision on whether he will become the man the Librarian wants him to be or not. But things aren’t so black and white when they’re covered in red! Check out Kenneth’s review here! 

3.  Dark Horse Presents #8:  Mike Mignola headlines this one with a compelling story of Kate Corrigan and her revelation about Hellboy! Plus a creepy Beasts of Burden story by Jill Thompson and the continuation of Neal Adams’ Blood! 80 pages of great stuff!

4.  The Boys #63:  Garth Ennis’ over the top series may be gradually coming to it’s conclusion, but the story continues to heat up! Both teams take some big losses when the Seven and the Boys begin their cataclysmic collision course! The end begins here!

5.  Fatale #2: Ed Brubaker weaves a crime noir tale like no other! Now factor in devil worshippers and demons, and you have another amazing book from an amazing trio! Don’t believe me? Read my full review here!

Movie News

Review: Swamp Thing #6

This is the day the world dies! No one can withstand the Rot, it has chosen it’s Black Queen and she will rule the very fabric of reality!

Snyder’s darkest book to date, Swamp Thing #5, is a complete assault to the senses. Visually traumatic and emotionally jarring, it will nest itself within the recesses of your consciousness, waiting there until you slip into a calming slumber — just to assault you again as you close your eyes! 

Dr. Alec Holland can no longer run from his responsibilities as the avatar of the Green. It is not because he has finally chosen to accept his fate, it is because he no longer has the luxury of a choice. While he has been trying to find answers to a past life, one he can barely remember, the Rot has been moving with urgency against him. A veritable life or death chess match, Alec has lost far too many moves from indecision. Now, all he hears is the whispering voices of the Rot as it utters the word — checkmate!

This book will seize your attention and not let go until you give into it’s overwhelming sickness! Snyder is a classically trained maestro of the horror genre and he is conducting his most disturbing symphony for us right now! Although Yanick Paguette is absent from interior art chores this time around, Marco Rudy does a phenomenal job of rendering the pure viciousness of the book. His style, especially the splash pages, remind me of Tom Mandrake’s work on the Spectre series oh so many years ago. It is perfect for the Vertigo-esque style of this book!

Filled with horrifying revelations and pushing the characters to their breaking points, issue five is now the catalyst for things to come. The road from Snyder’s Swamp Thing to Lemire’s Animal Man is growing ever shorter — you need to get this book now before they converge! Don’t be the last to get to your local comic shop, you may just miss out on this amazing book!

Movie News

Review: Fatale #2

Josephine is running out of time. That’s something she never thought would happen, but this is the endgame. The players are finally all in motion and the stakes are high. Especially for someone who has lived as long as she has!

The crime noir Holy Trinity of Brubaker, Phillips and Stewart have created something that is familiar to their past work, and yet, is something purely original. A slow burn read, it is teeming with twists and secrets that shock at every turn! Multiple characters and dual timelines keep you on your toes, trying to stay one step ahead of the multi-faceted story.  The converging lives of the three main characters could have become overwhelming to readers, the story lost, if not in the capable hands of this tried and true trio. 

Fatale is a classic book, one that merges Lovecraftian fundamentals and crime noir fiction into the perfect amalgam of genres! Just when you think you have a handle on what to expect, Brubaker opens up a completely different doorway for the tale to travel down. It is thoroughly engrossing, drawing upon character flaws to expose the readers to the rich and dark corners of the tale laid before us. 

Morally corrupt, seductive and shocking, Fatale is a book that will not disappoint readers looking for something fresh. It is a book that draws you in like a slow pull on a French cigarette, soothing, relaxing — then it bites you in the face!

Brubaker and crew have created perfection yet again!

Movie News

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Comic Book Pile For January 25th, 2012

The “DOC’s” Top Of The Pile

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

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



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

1.  Justice League #5 : Johns and Lee are on fire with this book, creating some awesome moments and hokey catch phrases to boot! One word sells this book — Darkseid!!! For more, read my review.

2.  Secret Avengers #21.1 : Uncanny X-Force scribe and CBN favorite, Rick Remender, breaks his way into the Bendis Fort Knox world of the Avengers! It’s a Hawkeye run team but all we care about is Venom!

3.  Teen Titans #5 : Scott Lobdell pits his teenage team against Superboy with disastrous results. His re-imaginings of these characters are outstanding and so is Brett Booth’s pencils! Now check out my review!

4.  American Vampire #23 : DC’s golden child, Scott Snyder, has made vampires cool again! But they’re not as cool as the kid hunting them down! Take a trip back to the fifties and hold on as the book careens out of control! Here’s my review for that.

5.  The Walking Dead #93 : “Jesus” has come to save Rick and his crew, but do they really want saving from the guy who just kicked their ass? Kirkman’s next big arc starts here and Rick is more pissed than ever!

Movie News

Review: Justice League #5

Destruction rains down wherever the eye can see. Creatures from another world soar through the air, causing chaos to the very fabric of the earth. All this, the pain, the suffering, is being done on the breath of a single name — Darkseid!

Johns and Lee pit our newly formed heroes against one of the greatest foes the world has ever seen! And the victor in this malevolent battle — the reader!

I must say, that between Lee and his bevy of inkers and colorists, this is the best work he has put out to date. Not only beautiful, it is explosive and fluid — creating page after page of pure excitement! If this book doesn’t get your pulse pounding — you’re dead inside!

Not to be outdone by his artistic counterpart, Geoff Johns creates a tale that is brimming with action and yet, focuses in on select characters of the team to further enhance who they are. Yes, we all know these characters, but Johns brings new niches to their iconic status. He makes them fresh and energetic for not only new fans, but for all fans of these beloved characters. I personally appreciate that Johns does not set these heroes up as the near omnipotent Justice League that they will become. Remember, this story takes place five years in the past, this team is actually forming before your eyes and Johns makes their partnership faulty at best. But, it is the lack of leadership, even teamwork, that makes this book so well done. Plus, Johns has made Green Lantern one of the cockiest S.O.B.’s around, and yet, he gets pummeled EVERY issue! Brilliant stuff! 

The alien, the amazon, the cyborg, the king, the lightning bolt, the hotshot and the human; all heroes in their own right, must finally learn to depend on others to topple this unstoppable force set before them — before it’s too late! An amazing book, full of velocity, ferocious action and whip smart tenacity; this one should sit proudly atop your pull list. Pull up a chair and watch Hal Jordan break! Too bad it wasn’t Ryan Reynolds instead!

Movie News

Review: American Vampire #23

Travis is a young man with a lot of likes. He likes fast cars, records by The Nocturnes, he likes girls in poodle skirts and cigarettes. Like I said, he has a lot of likes. But he only has one love. The love of killing vampires!

Chapter two of the “Death Race” storyline comes out of the gate full throttle, shifting gears between Travis’ past and present faster than a race down Deadman’s Curve. Through flashbacks, Snyder shows us there is a depth to this “greaser” that we never knew, and maybe don’t want to. Tragedy seems to have nestled its way into the soul of Travis, and nothing will help rectify that incessant ache like killing the man that is speeding away from him. The man that killed his parents!

This is a fabulous issue, loaded with tension, slamming gears and revelations! After the — what I thought to be not on par — “Beast In the Cave” storyline, Snyder is firing on all cylinders with the past two issues. Excitement pummels you as the “Rock A Billy” style tale slams into drive and you are forced to hold on as Travis’ world is sent careening over the edge. The youngest vampire hunter and coolest cat since the originator Skinner Sweet, must decide how much he is willing to lose in order to exact revenge. Especially when his prey is even more vicious when cornered!

Snyder and Albuquerque have outdone themselves on this issue. To create a character that fans instantly love is no small feat, but to have done it twice in a twenty-three issue span — completely unheard of! I hope that we get to see the character of Travis far past the four issue arc of “Death Race.” He is unique and multi-faceted, a true pleasure to read.

So roll up your boot cut jeans, tuck a Lucky Strike behind your ear and get your motor runnin’ to the nearest soda shop with the newest copy of American Vampire! It’s the coolest daddio!

Movie News

Review: Teen Titans #5

Just like their older counterparts, the Justice League, the Teen Titans must face a dire threat while the team is still in it’s infancy. But at least the Titans know who they are fighting against, not that it will help them much!

N.O.W.H.E.R.E., an international organization that has been collecting young metahumans for unknown reasons, has set their sights on Wonder Girl to be their next acquisition. And who better to collect the reluctant hero than their top science experiment — Superboy

From issue one, Lobdell and Booth have created a book that has thoroughly blown me away! They have brought a newfound richness to the core characters, while creating some amazing new ones as well. Though some of these characters have been around for decades, Lobdell makes them completely accessible for new readers and completely exciting for ALL readers. The way he has amped up their personalities, Kid Flash especially, brings excitement to the reader and a smile to your face. The infighting, the lack of control, teen angst and the overall camaraderie of these new found friends in the face of overwhelming odds, harkens back to the days when five mutants first enlisted in a school for gifted youngsters. It is a pleasure to read characters that have been given so much depth in such few issues. Lobdell truly has a vested interest in the development of these heroes and it shows.

Teen Titans #5 is vibrant, fierce and explosive with a break neck pace! It exudes excitement on every page, culminating in a violent crescendo that leaves everyone rocked to the core. Lobdell and Booth have created something quite special here and you owe it to yourselves to check it out. You will not find a better written teen dynamic book on the shelves today!

Movie News

Advanced Review: Superior #7 (of 7)

Simon Pooni was just your average boy. Smart, outgoing, captain of the basketball team, but one day his whole world changed when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A ravaged body left him in a wheelchair, broken but not beaten. His world had been changed once already — soon it would change again!

Mark Millar gives us his all in the long awaited finale of Superior! Intense action sequences, that will rock the senses, hit you from page one. It is the undaunting barrage of earth shattering battles that will pique your interest, but it is the heart of the Simon Pooni character that will hold sway over you. A boy that has endured so much, must now make the ultimate decision — sell his immortal soul to a demon, in order to become Superior again, or watch as the world is torn asunder!

It is moving how Millar has created a character that — in every essence of his being — is a hero. He was given an average life, then it was taken away. He was given a boon to become something truly amazing, then it was taken away. Now, he has been asked to give even more of himself, so much more than even he can comprehend! The character of Simon is built from the essence of everything that is great in the world of comics. He is a nostalgic look at what came before and a glimpse of what could come again. Millar creates a pure homage to the iconic vision of Superman, while modernizing it without tarnishing it’s integrity.

It took FOREVER for this book to come out, but the wait is now over! It is a blockbuster of a finale, one that will make you think you’re watching a summer action film instead of reading a comic book! But that’s exactly what Mark Millar does on each issue he writes! He creates something that makes you ponder just how good the industry could be if half the talent — had half his talent!

As the cover says, “The gloves are finally off!” Truer words were never spoken!

“Superior” #7 provided by friend of Cosmic Book News.

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Year of the Dragon

A Film Review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By: Lawrence Napoli




As we enter the new year of the Dragon, this film will still be running strong in theatres in 2012, and I cannot forward a more immediate recommendation to my readers than to check out The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at your earliest convenience.  This film, despite being an adaptation of an adaptation from an original novel by Stieg Larsson, has imprints of David Fincher all over the place.  This is a particularly good thing seeing how Fincher (for those of you who may not know) happens to make kick-ass films: Se7en (1995), The Game (1997), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007) and The Social Network (2010) to name a few.  In a year that was fairly void of gritty dramas featuring shocking imagery and a thought provoking plot, Dragon Tattoo offers up a nice, adult, change of pace.  I’m not entirely sure that this film lives up to “THE feel-bad movie of the Holidays” moniker, but it sure isn’t filled with lollypops and Wonka bars.  This film is a crime drama that makes several references to graphic violence against women, so I’d recommend leaving the kids at home with the sitter for this one.  Still, this film has some sense of modesty as it tends to cut away at the most intense moments, so I wouldn’t qualify this as amongst my top ten graphically violent or shocking films. 

Although I will never use the word “tasteful” to describe the visual reproduction of rape, this film doesn’t apologize for the harsh truth of the real world and evil people that abuse the varying degrees of power they hold over others.  The manner in which the director, David Fincher, depicts violence is to hammer home a theme that Americans in particular ought to be quite familiar with by now, namely: people with money and power can do whatever they want and are simply not subject to the same set of rules as the “have-nots.”  The privileged and their abuse of power victimize both of the main characters in this film prior to them engaging in the main plot arc, and this fact is central to the brutal mystery that needs to be solved.  People that worry about paying for food, rent and school for either themselves or their families can’t appreciate this stark departure from normal society if they are shown images of CEO’s engaging in industrial espionage, but nobody can deny the literal imagery of violence.  It is unfortunate that we do not have more effective ways to make meaningful social commentary without violence, but nothing sends a message like an axe through the skull, at least not on film anyway. 

That brings us back to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which is a story that isn’t exactly something you haven’t seen before.  As a matter of fact, it’s quite a standard mix of suspense and investigation that just happens to be shot very, very well.  The marketing for this film would have you buy into some added element of taboo that is just too curious to pass up.  The fact of the matter is that this is not entirely the case.  Nazis, rape, over privileged rich people and media agendas all have strong footholds in the American film library, and these conventions all happen to play a role in Dragon Tattoo.  The structure of the story is also something that may bewilder the average movie-goer as it is neither prototypically linear nor non-linear.  Despite all that, screenwriter Steven Zaillian crafts an alternative take on the crime drama that is easy enough to follow with a little attentiveness (and the caffeinated beverage of your choice).  That’s not to say that Zaillian’s adaptation is a snoozer, but suffers from two significant drawbacks: 1) details of the investigation via dialogue or close-ups are not spelled out for the audience and 2) action scenes are extremely sparse.  Such is the nature with dialogue-driven-dramas, but these pacing debilitations are tempered by scenes that feature the one interesting character in this fiction: Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. 

This character is clearly identified as the unpredictable type, and half of her intrigue is generated by the anticipation of what she will do next.  As much as I like this character and absolutely loved the performance of said character, there’s too much of a drop off when the story shifts back to the perspective of the male lead: Mikael Blomkvist – the blandest investigative journalist ever conceived by the imagination of human beings.  Perhaps this contrast can be attributed to the significant degree of role reversal in traditional sexual stereotypes as depicted historically in film.  This film wins as many points with feminists as a film like G.I. Jane did.  Seeing women schlep around like they have 12 inch Johnsons is about as interesting as it sounds – which is to say – not.  Lisbeth is not exactly “butch,” but there are a few moments in this film where she behaves in a shamelessly male fashion, which caused me to wince somewhat because subscribing to a stereotype conflicts with her unpredictability.  Regardless, I found enough of this character and her interaction with the story to be compelling, but those who don’t love Lisbeth as a character may find the rest of the film a complete wash.

When the action is minimal and the effects are few and far between, even well written dialogue is nothing without inspired performances.  Let’s just say that then, men not named Christopher Plummer don’t exactly pull their weight in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Stellan Skarsgard is solid in his role as Martin Vanger, but if one is familiar with his filmography, one notices a simple remix of his past performances.  Who’s the more foolish: the fool or the fool who casts the same actor in the same roles?  I am convinced that Daniel Craig doesn’t like me personally because I honestly have nothing against the man, yet I continue to be frustrated by the utter irrelevance of his performances in all his recent film work.  He must have something personal against me.  He produced such a respectable performance in Defiance (2008) that I cannot compare anything else he’s done since as more than “going through the motions.”  His performance as Mikael continues that unfortunate trend as his featured scenes are mere stop gaps for the audience while waiting for Lisbeth to come back.  Thankfully, Mr. Christopher Plummer lends some much needed intelligence, sophistication and charm in his small role as Henrik Vanger, the patriarch of the Vanger family dead set on righting a family scandal that lies at the center of the plot.  As his character plays a sort of victim, the role he plays disallows him from being more proactive in the story, but what’s worse is how his character disappears for the entire second act.  Thus, the audience is not privy to the full Plummer experience, but the mysterious manner in which he portrays his character is very compelling, albeit brief.

Let’s not deny the fact that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is all about Rooney Mara and how she will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future in Hollywood as top tier talent in hopes that her future projects will bring even more substance to the sexy.  Obviously, she is a beautiful woman, but her physical attraction is anti-typically silicon free and that is a welcome sight to see, but still not entirely “normal body type” as there doesn’t seem to be an ounce of fat on her – I guess nobody’s perfect.  That being said, Rooney is called upon to discard her clothing a few times, which has less to do with Hollywood’s shameless obsession with female nudity (believe it or not) and more to do with developing Lisbeth as a tormented individual who’s had a rough upbringing requiring less than admirable life choices to survive.  Getting by in the urban wasteland in Europe is no more glamorous than anywhere else, so Lisbeth must be tough as nails, a little liberal with “the law” and be callous to the rest of the world.  Therein lays the most powerful aspect of Ms. Mara’s performance: the deadpan stoicism, especially when her character shows hints of change.  More often than not, Lisbeth as a character only fluctuates between rage and what appears to be indifference, but as her relationship with Mikael evolves, so too does her demeanor in very subtle, but noticeable ways.  You won’t see Rooney Mara crack a genuine smile during this film, but her dedication to maintaining the hard-edge image of disenfranchised youth is layered with sincerity and makes this film worth watching.  Rooney Mara is a powder keg of “Don’t F*ck With Me!” and I am pleased to see an example of girl power on the screen that is committed to strength and individuality.    

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a very imperfect crime drama that suffers from stagnant pacing and some less than adequate performances.  For a film franchise that was meant to be billed as the definition of raw aggression and blunt sexuality, David Fincher seems to have preemptively neutered this potential beast of entertainment.  As intense as some moments in this film are, the dial certainly needs to be “set to 11” for the subsequent sequels, and doing so would certainly add some much needed action.  Whether or not the audience ultimately likes this film hinges squarely on how much they love Rooney Mara’s performance.  As a result, this will not be a film for everyone because this is “America baby,” and when it comes to brains getting splattered or explosions ripping people apart, we’re ok with it, but when it comes to sex and sexuality, people write nasty letters to their local congressman or woman.  This is a movie that’s going to require an open and attentive mind to appreciate so be prepared.  If for any other reason, this film is worth seeing because it’s a Hollywood attempt to do something different and different is always good.

For more with Lawrence On “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” head on over and check out his Podcast, with a very special guest, his sister Kristin. 

Movie News

Advanced Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #4

The repercussions from Rick Remender’s current Age of Apocalypse storyline, in Uncanny X-Force, make their way into Jason Aaron’s phenomenal book.

Genesis has been enrolled as a student, Angel believes he is something more than a mutant, and Deathlok’s choice to be a guest speaker, has some startling effects! I have said it before, but it is worth repeating — this is Jason Aaron’s best series to date!

I have never had this much fun reading an X series before, and I have been reading them for over twenty years! Aaron’s wit is beyond brilliant; the subtle nuances he creates between all the characters is amazing! He pits new, crazy characters against the familiarity of classic ones, to create the perfect mesh of fun and nostalgia. But the Deathlok scenes in this book is what really makes this current issue! A cyborg from the future begins spewing statistics about the class he is lecturing, ones that include the percentage of how many of them will die. It helps bring a moment of clarity amidst the chaos, a slice of realism in a pie of insanity. But nothing brings you back to reality as quickly as the final page does! We have all heard rumors as to what will happen, but I gave up spoilers as a New Year’s resolution — so you will have to buy your own copy to find out!

My only complaint is that Chris Bachalo was not on art chores this issue. Nothing irks me more about a new book, as when the artist can’t make it through the first year of issues! But Nick Bradshaw, amazing artist as well, brings his own level to this book! He has so much going on in the foreground as well as the background, that you can barely fathom everything that is going on. You can peruse each panel for twenty minutes and still find something new when you read it through again. Oh, you will read it through again! It’s just that good!

Aaron gives us his all yet again, and all you need to do is pick it up and enjoy! I dare you to find something cooler on the shelves this week! I dare ya!

Copy of “Wolverine and the X-Men” #4 provided by friend of Cosmic Book News.

Movie News

Advanced Review: Scarlet Spider #1

Let me begin by saying, I have not read a Spider-Man book since Erick Larson left Amazing Spider-Man with issue #350. It just seemed like too much effort to follow a single character throughout WAY too many books. Too little bang for the buck, as they say.

But when Marvel released information at this years NYCC, regarding a new Scarlett Spider series, I was more than intrigued. They promised a character that had almost the same skills, but not the high brow penchant for human life, that Peter Parker had. All the strength of Venom, but not all the insanity. And when they said it would be penned by Chris Yost, I was sold! 

Though I do not pretend to know the vast history the character Kaine has within the Spider-Man mythos, I do know a good story when I read one. Yost creates a tale of a man who has been given a second chance on life. A man that needs to determine where he fits in the world, a world that is both wondrous and threatening. But does a man that has been deemed a monster for most of his life, have the fortitude to become a hero? Or is it just too much effort for a reborn man to care?

That is the heart that Chris Yost brings to this book. You get all the cool Spidey action, with a levity of a character that is trying to find not only his place in the world, but find himself as well. Hero, villain or simply a man that does not care either way, Kaine is an enigma; one that I cannot wait to try and figure out!

This book is the perfect point for fans that were always too intimidated to dive into the Spidey world. A single book, with a single character, who has virtually nothing to lose. Though Kaine is a character that is not new to the convolution to Spidey history, he now has a fresh start — and so do you! Yost brings his A game yet again, and don’t worry — he left the hoodie in the nineties!

Copy of “Scarlet Spider” #1 provided by friend of Cosmic Book News.

Movie News

2011: A Year In Review

2011: A Year In Review
By: Chris “DOC” Bushley
comic books


I have finally worked through my Holiday coma that was induced by a combination of turkey, sugar cookies and egg nog, and found that it was time to look back on the year 2011. And since this will be the last “Year in Review” I will ever get to do — damn you Mayan calendar — I better get crackin’!
(NOTE: This list is compiled of media that I personally read or saw throughout the year 2011. Sales charts and reviews have no sway over this list! It is my pure, unadulterated opinion! So have some fun and read along, and if your favorites don’t appear here — go to the forums and make your own list. We always want to know how other fans feel. This is a site for you after all!)
BEST WRITER:  Scott Snyder — This man really came into his own in 2011! With three amazing ongoing series, American VampireBatman and Swamp Thing, as well as two spectacular mini-series, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest and Severed; Scott Snyder churned out some of the darkest, most engrossing books on the shelves today. All that, plus he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet!
BEST ARTIST:  Jim Cheung– The artist on Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, makes every panel dance with excitement. From splash pages to close-ups, everything he does is poster worthy!
BEST ONGOING SERIES:  Uncanny X-Force! — Shocker? Not to those that read this book! Rick Remender really knows the voice of these characters, making them better than they ever were before! Every issue is a complete tour de force of action and characterization. Plus he had Fantomex shoot a child Apocalypse in the face! Brilliant!
WORST SERIES:  Heroes For Hire — This series started out as one of my favorites, but by issue four, I was running for the door! Multiply artists that were not on par with Brad Walker and storylines that kept getting worse — made me feel as if DnA were D.O.A.!
BEST COVER ARTIST:  Joao Ruas — The covers to Fables are some of the most poetic images I have ever seen! Gallery worthy, Raus mixes nostalgia with modern sensibilities to create truly breathtaking images.
BEST LIMITED SERIES:  Baltimore: The Curse Bells — Mike Mignola trumps his first Baltimore series, Baltimore: The Plague Ships, by weaving in plot devices to further enrich the Lord Baltimore character. Demon births, tortured children, black magic and a coven of vampire nuns — how can you get any better? 
BEST CHILDREN’S SERIES:  Tiny Titans — My four year old and I truly love this book and are saddened that it will end with issue 50. Art Baltazar and Franco do a great job of making the book fun for the kiddies, while factoring in current storylines for the adults. They even had the mysterious Pandora make an appearance, only to be revealed that it was really Ambush Bug in disguise!
BEST TV SERIES:  The Walking Dead — Did I really need to include this category on my list? Hell yeah! Everyone needs to watch this show! If it can get my wife hooked, than anyone can become a fan of this amazing series. Sunday nights will never be the same again!
BEST COMPANY:  DC — This should come as no surprise! 2011 was the year that saw DC finally take the reigns back from Marvel on the sales charts, though just barely! But it was the decision to throw caution to the wind and relaunch 52 new number ones that made them outshine the competition. What could have been an epic fail, turned out to be the biggest success of any company this year! Their multiple genre product line has something for everyone, from horror to cosmic, anyone can find a book that will appease them. I personally read more DC books now than I ever have in my life! 
BEST RELAUNCHED SERIES:  Animal Man — This Jeff Lemire book is one of the best things I have ever read! It is disturbing and horrific, but it also has a depth to it that is astounding! He has taken the Buddy Baker character and stripped him of all the hokey aspects DC has pumped him with over the last few years, and made him superb again!
BEST STORY ARC:  “No Way Out” The Walking Dead — Robert Kirkman finally settled his characters into a nice, safe environment. And just when everyone was starting to conform back to electricity and warm baths, BOOM, all hell breaks loose! Mamma always said, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, they might break.” And that’s exactly what happens in this arc — things break!
BEST GUILTY PLEASURE:  Hasbro’s Marvel Universe 3.75” figures — No they are not dolls, they’re action figures! I just wish they had these when I was a kid. These are the coolest toys on the shelves and some of the toughest collectibles to get your grubby little hands on. Everyone has Iron Man, but how many of you got the super rare Archangel with the full wings? Oh, I’m the only one who knows what I’m talking about? Okay.
MOST SHOCKING MOMENT:  Carl shot in the face! The Walking Dead #83 — Just when you think Rick and Carl will make it through the zombie hoard that is ripping through the streets, Kirkman kicks you in the gut and flips you off! I have to say that Robert Kirkman has put more holy $#*% moments in this series than any other I have ever read, but the splash page of Carl with a hunk of his head blown off — shocked the hell out of me!
BEST VILLAIN:  Norman Osborn — Brian Bendis has taken a classic character that had become mired in mediocrity, and created one of the most maniacal villains ever! The best part of the character is that even though he is on the fringe of insanity, his plans actually make sense and they make you second guess every move the Avengers have made in the last five years! 
MOST IMPROVED CHARACTER:  Cyclops — No longer the whiny Boy Scout, Scott Summers has emerged to become the patriarch of the whole mutant race! It took a group effort of great writers, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Mike Carey and Paul Jenkins, to get him to that status though. But now he is one of the best X characters around! I mean, how many people has Magneto bowed down to before? ‘Nuff said!
BEST NEW CHARACTERS:  The Black Legion, Uncanny X-Force — Okay, so they aren’t really “new” characters but whose nit picking? These amalgams of Marvel elite characters are completely bad ass! Hailing from the Age of Apocalypse storyline, we can only hope to see more of them in the new Age of Apocalypse book in March! An Orange Hulk that is energized by the sun and Ghost Rider wearing Iron Man armor–too cool! 
BEST BOOK YOU ARE NOT READING:  The Strange Talent of Luthor Strode — This crazy book by Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore is visceral, grotesque and yet, spends enough time on characterization that you actually care about these characters! The brutality of Kick-Ass and the heart of Invincible, this is an awesome book for the not too faint of heart!
BIGGEST FLOP:  X-Men: Schism — This book had so much promise and gave off too little bang for the buck. Wolverine and Cyclops almost kill each other over who had better management skills? C’mon Jason Aaron!  The reasoning behind the “schism” was laughable at best, but it did lead to my next category!
BEST NEW ONGOING SERIES:  Wolverine and the X-Men — What Jason Aaron lacked in thought for Schism, he more than made up for here! Funny, charming and action packed; this book has it all! Great character development and a quick wit makes this book stand out above the rest. Plus, it has tiny Nightcrawlers called BAMFs, that steal Wolverine’s whiskey — AWESOME!
WORST RUNNING THEME:  Marvel’s “not dead” revival — Over the past year Marvel said they would kill a character every quarter. Now, that may have technically happened, but how many of these characters are still gone? And what about those characters that “died” years ago? Here is a list of those that “died” and have now come back in 2011. Hence the phrase “not dead!”  Johnny Storm, Thor, Cable, Aerial, Bucky Barnes, Sabretooth, Joseph (Magneto’s clone) and Scott Lang! I probably missed a few, but I stopped counting! Make death in comics mean a little more and fans will appreciate it more!
CREATOR OF THE YEAR:  Robert Kirkman — The man writes four comic series, has a hit T.V. show, a hit novel, is the COO of Image comics, created his own imprint under the Image banner called Skybound, has a TWD board game, TWD action figures and countless merchandising! Plus, he’s a family man! I don’t know when this guy has the time to breathe let alone sleep! And the crazy part? All his stuff is great! He is a fan favorite and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, just don’t ask him why Atom Eve has put on so much weight!
HIGHLIGHT OF 2011:  The New York Comic Con — This was fanboy nirvana all wrapped in a four day package! From the free swag, the acquired art work, Marvel’s exciting panels, the interviews, the Mark Hamill panel, hanging out with the guys from DC, the MTV Geek party and the general camaraderie of the fans and the CBN staff– THIS WAS AWESOME! Thanks to everyone who came out and we hope to see you in 2012!
Well, that’s the list! Now we want to see what you thought of 2011. Go to the forums or hit us up in the comments below, and tell us all your favorites or what really ticked you off about the past year in the world of comics!   
And tell us what you are most looking forward to in 2012, besides the end of the world!
Movie News

Review: Animal Man #5

I’m just going to throw this out there — THIS BOOK IS COMPLETELY INSANE! And I love every single moment of it!

Jeff Lemire and his entire artistic crew have created something that is equal parts disturbing and fascinating. A cornucopia of twistedness that assaults the senses, Animal Man is a book that is beyond expectations for any genre! It is something that worms it’s way inside you and nestles within, scratching you tediously until you want to scream! 

Issue five is a blur, a quickened pace to the story because there is a true need to run. The third Hunter has stalked it’s prey long enough and now it must feed. And Buddy Baker’s family is the main course! Buddy, Maxine and “Socks” rush to save them, but who will be there to save the trio once the Hunter sets its gaze upon them? Maxine makes a decision that will not only forever change the dynamic of the book, but that of the entire DCnU as well! There is only one hope for triumph over the Rot, but it lies in the pages of another book! 

Look at the cover to this book. It is one of the most horrific covers I have ever seen! Now, imagine a book that mimics that grimacing emotion on every page and you will understand Animal Man. It is completely amazing how Travel Foreman can conceive of such horrific images and still be able to sleep! There is a section of the book where the Hunter shows Buddy just how the Rot will change Maxine when they get their hands on her. It is quite disturbing and yet utterly amazing! The caliber of talent on this book, from art to prose, is unfathomable! Other than Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing, you will find nothing like this book on the shelves today. 

If you are not reading this book you are missing out on something that will change your mind about the landscape of comics today. It is a rare and wretched book that deserves more than just a mere moment of your time. And once you read one issue, you will be hooked like a rotting piece of meat on the end of barbed wire! Ewwww! But oh so good!

Movie News

Review: Uncanny X-Force #19.1

Enter Now: The Age of Apocalypse! Nuff’ said!

Remender’s Uncanny X-Force #19.1 is the set up issue for Age of Apocalypse, which debuts on March 7th. And like most “set up” issues, Remender lays the landscape wide open for us as to what we will expect from the regular series. If this new series is half as good as what Remender gives us — I’m sold!

Following the A.O.A. versions of Jean Grey and Sabretooth back to the Age of Apocalypse after their mission with X-Force, Remender shows us just what has been going on while they were on leave. Apocalypse (Wolverine version, in case you were wondering) has taken his fight against all humanity up to the next level. All humans, and their mutant sympathizers, are to be exterminated on sight, but there is one group that has a plan that might just be able to turn the tide of genocide. A group of humans that have perfected their fighting abilities since early childhood, in order to survive long enough to fight back. Those that have made it this far, and have stood up in the face of terror, have been dubbed — The Exterminated!

Remender has out done himself again! Mixing familiar characters with new ones, and letting the newer ones have a resounding voice throughout is something quite unique. Especially when the new characters are so well crafted that they could have carried the book by themselves! The entire past and present of the character Prophet was told in a mere four pages, and yet it was so good that I am completely vested in this character already! There is a depth that Remender gives to his characters that makes them so much more than the sum of their parts. He truly gives them a “voice” that once you’ve heard, it becomes a siren song that you need to hear over and over again.

There is so much going on in this book, that you never notice there are no Uncanny X-Force members even in it! Remender has invested so much time between the readers and the A.O.A. characters in the last few months, that it doesn’t feel out of place at all. Plus, the things that go on within the story are so shocking, you could really care less what is going on with the core team! No spoilers here! But I will say, that it’s a good thing they introduced so many new characters. It’s kind of tough to write a book with no one in it! Go Black Legion! That’s not really a spoiler — is it? Oh, Man!

Go get this book and get in on the ground floor of the new series, Age of Apocalypse! The only way the month of March could get any better, was if Remender was writing the series himself!

Movie News

Review: Avengers X-Sanction #2

Falcon has been taken down from above and Captain America has been beaten into submission. Next on Cable’s hit list? Iron Man!

Issue one ended with Cap and Cable fighting each other, with Cap losing at gunpoint. The final panel has a resounding “BLAM!” across it and you are left pondering the fate of America’s star spangled hero. Issue two tells us that Cap has been stun gunned and harnessed into a chair that can scramble his neurological system. Cable doesn’t want him dead –yet! Then he decides to take on Iron Man, and every other Avenger, until they can tell him why the alternate future he just left didn’t have Hope there to save it. Oh yeah, Cable is also dying from his techno virus and only has twenty-four hours to accomplish his task!

I have to say, this one is just not working for me!

I’m sorry, but there is nothing in the first two issues, of this four issue mini, that has made me want to see where the story is going. It has no heart or emotion, save the continual moaning from Cable that he needs to save his “daughter.” There is nothing that grips the reader and makes you care about any of it. The fight scenes, though rendered well by McGuiness, are quick and bland — it is only four issues mind you. And the battle set-ups are continually the same. Cap sees Red Wing flying toward a freighter with no Falcon in sight, lets follow him and get captured. Iron Man sees Red Wing flying toward a freighter with no Falcon around, lets follow him and get captured. At this point, one has to wonder if Cable is paying Red Wing off with small rodents in order to betray his human cohorts! The story is just not there, and to have Cable come back from the “dead” after such a great send off in X-Men for this — it tarnishes the great ending of Second Coming.

I know this mini-series is just a set up for Avengers vs. X-Men, but I really expected more from the amazing talent of Jeph Loeb. Only the absolute collecting purists need to buy this book. Otherwise, spend your four dollars on lunch while you read something better!

Movie News

Mark Millar: “Is the Big Two about to become the Big Three?”

supercrooks“Is the Big Two about to become the Big Three?”
That’s the question Mark Millar poses during his Millarworld Editorial in the pages of Kick-Ass 2 #6. And with the lineup he’s bringing to Millarworld in 2012 — he damn well has a shot!
According to Mr. Millar, 2012 will see some HUGE books coming out, but we’ll have to wait a little bit to get them in our hands. Patience is a virtue after all, and it will be well worth it!
March is when we will see not only one new series come out of the Millarworld stable — but two! First will be Supercrooks, with art by fan favorite Leinil Francis Yu. Shipping almost simultaneously will be The Secret Service, drawn by comic legend — Dave Gibbons! This book was also co-conceived by the Kick-Ass film director, Matthew Vaughn! Then in April, we will finally see the long awaited Hit-Girl series, by Kick-Ass veteran artist John Romita Jr! 
Around the end of summer, Millar will launch an as yet to be named book that he is calling, “a vast superhero epic, something as wide in scope as the Lord of the Rings, for a superhero audience!” Nothing can make that sound more exciting, unless you factor in that superstar artist Frank Quitely will be doing the art chores! 
hit-girl 2And finally in November, fans will get to see one of the most insane, brutal and disturbingly cunning books back on the shelves, as Steve McNiven draws the coolest killers around in the pages of — Nemesis 2!
All these artistic legends led by the crazy intelligence of one Mark Millar? Is there any doubt that the Big Two might actually have to look over their shoulder in 2012? And remember boys, the toys in the Millarworld aren’t as precious as yours! Anything goes, and it usually does, which is exactly what fans want! And I will be the first in line to get the most exciting and original books on the shelves today — Millarworld books!
If that wasn’t enough for you, you can travel across the pond and go to Millar’s own Kapow Comic Convention! Tickets are on sale now for this London based event that takes place on May 19th and 20th. Be sure to visit for all the insane details!
Image sources: CBR
Movie News

Review: Invincible #86

Marvel Cosmic has been eating DC’s spacedust for months.  Now add Image to the list of publishers leaving Marvel behind in the spacedust.

Invincible #86 will be a delight to any cosmic fan.  The showdown between Nolan and Allen comes to a head with the fate of all life on Earth in the balance.  Oliver plays a pivotal role in this issue – and while his decisions may surprise some new readers –  long term fans of the series will appreciate that Oliver is acting perfectly in character.

Kirkman is back on point with this issue, a welcome trend that I hope continues as the focus for next issue looks to be Earth since The Coalition of Planets is coming to pay a visit. Walker’s art will delight the most hard core of fans and Plascencia’s colors are eye popping as usual.

Cosmic fans will want to read this issue.  It doesn’t require familiarity with the back story to be enjoyed – and it might just make an Invinci-fan out of you if you aren’t one already.  Don’t take my word for it though.  Pick up an issue and see for yourself why Invincible is in the top tier of cosmic comics and is likely to stay there.

Movie News Reviews

Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The Game’s a Foot!

A Film Review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

By: Lawrence Napoli




Who doesn’t love a good mystery?  It is a question that reveals mankind’s innate curiosity with the unknown or unfamiliar in order to identify the variables and explain the inexplicable so as to allow ourselves to be comfortable in our own environment.  Sherlock Holmes, the definitive, master, gentleman detective is a character that is plagued by a hypersensitivity to that which is and naturally drawn to any scenario that is simply put, undefined.  Ever the avenging agent of order, Holmes’ fiction involves the solving of many a mystery which leads to the incarceration of several citizens of ill repute, yet no individual ever seemed to stand a proper challenge.  The mystery itself was always Holmes’ true foil as it seemed no less than a cabal of criminals was required to stump old Shirley for more than an hour.  This was the Sherlock Holmes that graced the silver screen in Guy Ritchie’s first adaptation in 2009.  The sequel: A Game of Shadows, presents a much more personal confrontation for Holmes as the audience is introduced to Professor James Moriarty who is every bit an intellectual equal, yet far less of a gentleman who isn’t concerned with collateral damage and harming the innocent in order to get whatever he wants.  As such, Holmes must approach this new investigation in a different manner which, of course, translates into a slightly different movie-going experience which happens to place a heavy emphasis on action.

One of the major strengths to these Guy Ritchie adaptations has been the writing: both dialogue and the overall plot.  This continues to be the case for the most part in A Game of Shadows, but I was extremely surprised to find out that no member of the original (and rather large) writing team returned to pen the sequel.  Relative writing novices Michele and Kieran Mulroney are responsible for this script which is usually a tell tale sign of a film franchise taking a turn for the worse.  Thankfully, the writers were up to the task of measuring up to the success of the original.  Any scenario involving Holmes’ arch nemesis must be compelling and complicated without being totally convulsive.  GoS certainly has several interesting plot elements in place such as more dynamic settings and the introduction of several new characters, but when the film ends the viewer finds him or herself with a somewhat predictable story.  Anyone who has seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) will notice some carbon copying at work.  The story attempts to compensate by adding more action sequences than the first film.  Although these scenes were well shot and certainly added to the pacing, it seemed to snowball at times and despite the fact that Sherlock Holmes is known to be an apt combatant, I never got the impression he was Neo from The Matrix.  The witty banter between Holmes and Watson is a perfect evolution of the relationship established in the first film.  This hilarious dialogue keeps the over-indulgent action grounded by dialing back on the intensity without losing the audience’s attention.  I was particularly satisfied with the genuine, plutonic love demonstrated between Holmes and Watson which could not have been more perfectly depicted than the very last scene in the film.

As for the action in A Game of Shadows, wow, I could use a LOT less slow motion effects please.  Those of you who may believe I exaggerate with my Matrix reference, rest assured that this comment is right on the mark.  I cannot fault Guy Ritchie entirely for this because I understand the need to keep the visual style to his films memorable, but sometimes too much when it comes to visual effects sacrifices the effectiveness of the action in the first place.  Please see the Star Wars prequels in reference to that comment.  It remains to be seen if the global audience will fully accept Sherlock Holmes as an action franchise, but to fully sell out the story in this regard would be a mistake.  Holmes’ story revolves around the investigation of a mystery and when half of a feature length film is devoted to explosions, fisticuffs and gunplay, that mystery doesn’t have as much screen time to shine.  Too many dialogue driven scenes in sequence do have the potential of overburdening an audience with too much exposition and breaking those up with action is an effective way to avoid that result.  Good old fashioned choreography and framing can still produce effective balance to the pacing without running the risk of diluting the impact of repeated digital effects.  Please take note, Mr. Ritchie.  

Top marks to all of the acting performances in A Game of Shadows.  The individual efforts of the supporting cast are the kind one would expect from actors promised much more screen time and/or prominent roles.  Noomi Rapace as Madam Heron, Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, Rachael McAdams as Irene Adler, Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson and Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade all show that even an actor that embraces a small role can have a significant impact on the overall quality of a film.  Stephen Fry stood out in particular because no one in their right mind would ever accept the possibility that he and Robert Downey Jr. could be related in any way if they were to simply stand next to each other.  Fry’s snobbish line delivery and nuances in dialect play off perfectly from Downey’s and the repartee between them makes for an undeniable connection that pays off every time the two share screen time. 

A good villain is invaluable to any film and Jared Harris’ portrayal of Moriarty may not be one for the ages, but is very respectable and doesn’t back down to Robert Downey Jr. in any way.  Harris has a keen ability to counter every verbal jab Downey throws which is essential for his character.  Although he also demonstarates the proper demeanor of calm, control and supreme confidence, I didn’t feel he was as menacing as the faceless entity this character was portrayed as in the first film.  Perhaps this is the way Moriarty is written in the Sherlock Holmes novels, but as a fan of film, I would like to see a little bit more pure evil. 

In the end, this film is all about Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson and although these two characters are featured less as a duo and promotes the interplay between Holmes and Moriarty as a higher priority, these two actors once again deliver performances that should not be missed by anyone.  The key relationship between their characters is far more than the prototypical funny man vs. straight man routine as both have individual moments of hilarity and poignancy.  Their friendship is far beyond a simple “bro-mance” as the audience is able to feel the sense of true family between them.  Law and Downey remain the essential components to these Sherlock Holmes films and despite the arching narrative’s tendency to move these characters apart, it is essential for these films to see them stay together. 

Not to take anything away from Jude Law (because he is a fine actor and clearly does a fine job in this film), but Robert Downey Jr. ought to be recognized as a great actor for the vast array of fine performances he continues to add to with his efforts in A Game of Shadows.  The argument could be made that the difference between Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes is merely an English accent, but the fact is that these are two very different types of “train wreck characters” that exude similar charisma in very different ways and it takes more than a great performance to communicate this; it takes a great actor.  All Downey needs is a custom built drama with nothing but Oscar gold in mind to definitively place him alongside the all time greats. 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is not a perfect film, but is easily the best action/adventure feature during this holiday season.  Families that have teenage children will have a very fun time, but be forewarned, the English dialect throughout is very thick so those who are befuddled by the likes of Harry Potter may find themselves asking “What did he just say?” once too often.  This film is an action-buddy-comedy mixed with a period piece with brains and if that doesn’t appeal to you, I’d recommend Justin Bieber’s self congratulatory Never Say Never or a new classic like American Idol’s notorious flop From Justin to Kelly.  In this season of giving, even bad films need to have paying viewers.  Otherwise, bad films would never be made . . . wait a minute!

Movie News

Review: Batman #4

Explosions rock Batman as he continues on his quest stop the Talon, the Court of Owls menacing assassin. But it’s not the explosions that will cause the most damage, it is Batman’s disbelief that the Court of Owls even exists that will hurt him the most! Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo continue on their quest

Movie News

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #3

  So far, the first day at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning has gone off without a hitch. The school has been overrun by Frankenstein monsters with flame-throwers, the New York state inspectors have been turned into a Sauron and a Wendigo, and the very grounds of the school have been taken over

Movie News

Review: Green Lantern Corps #4

A small band of Green Lanterns have been stranded on the planet Xabas, surrounded by executioners that have a far greater grasp of “will” than any Lantern — ever! All hope is lost and Guy Gardner’s interrogation of one of the murderers has proven fruitless. That is, until Guy has a surprise visitor, someone he

Movie News

Interview: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan On “Black Light”

(Editor’s Note: The following interview was conducted at the New York Comic Con on Saturday, October 15th, 2011)


Immerse Yourself In The Darkness

Interview With Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan & Stephen Romano on Black Light


By: Chris Bushley



black light novelBack in October, our friends at Mulholland Books sent Cosmic Book News an advanced copy of one of the most intriguing, multi-faceted books I have read as of late — Black Light.

This is the debut novel by the screenwriters of the Saw franchise, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, in conjunction with the enigmatic Stephen Romano (The Riot Act). It is a literal “bullet train ride” of a read, hitting you with every emotion. From lust, fear, sorrow and utter revulsion, you can’t help but get caught up in this whirlwind tale of a man with incredible skills, trying to find out just what really happened to his parents so long ago. 

Black Light is the story of Buck Carlsbad, a paranormal expert that has the unique ability to pull a “mark” (ghost) into himself in order to finally set them to rest. He is a walking amalgam of genres, ghost hunter, martial artist, reluctant lover, but mostly he is a man set off on a quest of self discovery — one that may leave him broken and dying for his efforts. The character of Buck is one of the richest characters that I have ever read. He exudes confidence yet is emotionally stunted, he is completely bad-ass and yet internally broken, he is the every man, yet so much more! He is completely fleshed out, from external shell to the subtle nuances, an original character brought together from all the coolest aspects of a thousand archetypes.
The novel itself is a rare find within the confines of the Horror genre. It is not bound by the shackles of the “in your face splatter fest” that is all too often relied upon in the modern Horror novel. And considering the trio of authors on this book, one would expect to constantly be immersed in gallons of gore. But the obligatory acts of violence are used sparingly, creating a sort of horrifying crescendo when they occur, making the scenes reverberate within in you so much more than they ever would have! 
This is a great book that bends the senses and thrills until the final page. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
You can hear what the authors had to say about their collaboration right here, in this CBN exclusive interview from the New York Comic Con. From Black Light, to the movie, to Stephen Romano’s new novel and more, the creators gave us some of their time to sit and chat about it all.
comic books

Photo Credit: John Gulager

Cosmic Book News:  Steven [Romano] is a veteran novelist, but this is a first for Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. The two of you have written so many screenplays in the past, why was this the perfect time to come out with a novel?
Patrick Melton:  Well, Marcus and I had dinner with an editor, John Schoenfelder, who follows this sort of template that Guillermo del Toro followed with Chuck Hogan, where they collaborated their ideas to make a book. And we talked about this idea we had about this guy, a paranormal expert who has these skills, and he takes a job that takes place on a bullet train. John said, ‘Great I love it!’ and that’s the beginning. That’s when Stephen was brought in because of his literary expertise, and that’s how it all came together.
Cosmic Book News:  Buck Carlsbad, the main character, is such an amalgam of characters. He has many different facets, from his martial arts skills to his ghost hunting expertise. With three writers on the book, who was the quintessential “voice” of Buck?
Patrick Melton: It began as a screenplay that Marcus and I wrote, right after Feast actually! But when we wrote it, it was when “ghost stories” were going out of vogue and the “torture porn,” as we call it, came in. So we jumped on the band wagon!
Stephen Romano:  And oh, what a band wagon it was!
Cosmic Book News: So, did you adapt the screenplay into the novel? Is that essentially where it came from?
Patrick Melton: So, we never showed anyone the screenplay. We wrote, like, a treatment and our editor shared it with Stephen who helped to “pulp” it up more than it was at the time. Which was the direction we were going. And he added a lot of the film noir elements to it.
Stephen Romano:  Plus expanding it a little bit, making it a little bit more epic in certain ways. Making the stakes a little higher, adding a cast of characters that was maybe a little more expanded. John Schoenfelder and I would throw these ideas at Patrick and Marcus, and they really liked them. So, to answer your question directly, I’d write stuff and show it to them and they’d say, ‘Oh wow cool’ or ‘This needs to be changed,’ and it was great! A real collaborative effort, a lot of fun!
Cosmic Book News: You guys are known for a lot of slaughterfest, in your face grotesque scenes. But, with Black Light, the gore is kept to a minimum. Was it intentionally pulled back to showcase Buck as a character and the things he endures, as opposed to just shock value?
Marcus Dunstan:  With Black Light, the ideas was to put a twist on the supernatural that would ground it a little more. Patrick and I loved the idea of taking something that isn’t confined by a 90 page format that didn’t need to hold back in any case to its concept. So, this supernatural terrain allowed us to go back to our childhoods and pepper it with visceral images and viscous entities. There is still cutting, there is still nail, claw and there is anger. But it feels more real and it doesn’t have to push as hard to get you there.
Stephen Romano:  It’s more along the lines of a non-stop action adventure kinda thing. But we do have the token torture sequence in there, but it’s not like we’re trying to rehabilitate our image either. We’re just trying to tell a really good story. I think when you’re known for doing certain things, it’s harder to do other stuff and I think this was, at least for me, really refreshing.
Cosmic Book News:  The character of Buck Carlsbad has a lot of quirks. His use of urns, his no drinking and his use of a Walkman. Who’s brilliant idea was it to use Warrant’s song Down Boys? That thing was in my head for the duration of the book!
Patrick Melton:  Well Stephen was in a hair band when he was young! Which is quite ironic!
black light

Photo Credit: John Gulager

Stephen Romano: I was! I’m a big fan of hair metal! The thing with Down Boys is it’s about life worn stuff, and people don’t really think about the deep meaningful side of lyrics to songs like that. We wanted to make Buck a more interesting character in ways that were original. You don’t see a private eye listening to Motley Crue, it just ain’t gonna happen! So, anytime we could make him quirky and interesting and come up with a reason for it within the context of the character — we went for it! It made it much more fun to write! On that note, we intended to dedicate the book to Jamie Lane who died just before the book came out. But, unfortunately our publishing schedule didn’t allow for that. But in future editions it will say, “For Jamie.”
Cosmic Book News: The title, “Black Light,” actually refers to Buck’s ability to see what the dead see, and he can actually bring back objects to the mortal plane. How did the name come about?
Patrick Melton:  We always had the concept that he could go into this other plane, but at one point John said, ‘You gotta name it something cool!’ And Stephen said, ‘What would Andy Wharhol call it?’
Stephen Romano:  Actually that was John [Schoenfelder]. He said, ‘You have to come up with a post-modern expression that defines it. What would Andy Wharhol call it?’
Patrick Melton: Hmmm, Black Light? It was originally titled “Black Jack Nine.” Which, for some reason sounded too cute or cool for them [Stephen and John].
Stephen Romano: I think Black Light is a better title! The idea of pulling something out of the “black light” was an idea given to us by our editor, he really did drive a lot of what we were doing in terms of really pushing for originality.
Cosmic Book News: The book has a lot of potential for not just a sequel, but a series of books. Is there a possibility of that seeing fruition?
Marcus Dunstan: Buck Carlsbad has pissed off people on two realms of existence. He has set off a number of possible courses to take as he wrestles with his “gift.” 
Patrick Melton: We had a lot more room to set up Buck’s world, more so than when doing movies. We got the chance to set him up, his world, his past; we had the chance to set up these other characters as well. There are characters that don’t sort of play up as much as you’d think because we are leaving them to do things in the future. So, the idea was to set a full plate and then have subsequent adventures with Buck. We have discussed a sequel as a group, but a lot of it comes down to [this book’s] success and if Mulholland Books wants to do more. So we will see!
Cosmic Book News: Well if we have to wait for a sequel, let’s talk about the movie!
Patrick Melton: The book came out [with] intentions to make it into a movie. So Mike De Luca is the producer, who did Social Network and MoneyBall.
Stephen Romano: The great thing about De Luca is that he is not just a legendary producer, but he is also a writer. He wrote [John] Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness and the last Freddy movie before they rebooted it.
That’s great. He was the first guy we wanted to work with.
Cosmic Book News: How faithful will the movie stay to the novel? Will it be more gory?
Stephen Romano: The novel is pretty gory.
Marcus Dunstan: At the same time, whenever you can cloak it in the supernatural, I think there is a way to break fingers, tackle ghosts, ingest, regurge — whatever you have to do, but keep it within that PG-13 net that has grown quite violent in its own right.
Cosmic Book News: Who would you cast to play Buck? Would you bring in an unknown actor or go with someone that would draw in a crowd?
Stephen Romano: Who do you want to see as Buck Carlsbad?
Cosmic Book News: No one cares who I want as Buck!
Patrick Melton:  Marcus has this deep, deep love of Manhunter. So we want William Peterson circa 1985!
Cosmic Book News: Well, the Back To The Future Delorian is down the hall, we could possibly make this happen!
Patrick Melton: We will cast William Peterson from now, but give him the “Benjamin Buttons” treatment! 
Patrick Melton:  But in all seriousness, you guys know the names as well as we do. I mean you could say Jason Statham is tough, but he often has roles that don’t show off his charming side, not since Snatch really. But I don’t think he does an American accent, especially not a Texas one!
Stephen Romano: You had mentioned Matthew McConaughey.
Patrick Melton: He would be an interesting guy, just because he has that Southern charm and he can be tough! I heard he was great in Killer Joe, it hasn’t come out yet, I think it was at Sundance. But he’s also from Austin, Texas which would be great!
Stephen Romano: I think your idea was pretty good about casting a relatively unknown guy, maybe somebody that was on a show, like The Wire. Somebody who is a good actor but not yet a superstar, then surrounding them with Gary Oldman types. But don’t put me in charge of that ’cause I’ll just hire Kristen Stewart as Bethany Sin! [Laughter] But she’s not going to vomit for us!
Patrick Melton: We like to say regurgitate!
Cosmic Book News: Before we wrap up, you guys have a lot of things going on right now. Can we here a little bit about them? 
Marcus Dunstan:  Next year, we will see the release of Piranha 2 3DD and The Collection, the sequel to The Collector! And Stephen has some fantastic news of his own as well!
(Editor’s Note: We were informed Marcus was working with Guillermo Del Toro on the sci-fi monster blockbuster, “Pacific Rim,” currently filming in Toronto, ON. However, this was deemed “top secret,” but the news has since come out.)
Stephen Romano: I recently signed a deal with Simon and Shuster to release my first solo thriller. Currently it’s called, “Resurrection Express.” I always refer to it as ‘Mission Impossible meets The Bourne Identity, directed by Quentin Tarantino.’ It’s going to be a wild one! It’s not Horror, but a straight up thriller like Black Light is!
Cosmic Book News: Thanks to Mulholland Books for contacting us, and a thousands thank to Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano for taking the time out of their insane schedules to hang out with the CBN staff! It was an amazing time and we appreciate it whole heartedly!
“Black Light” is currently available at and at fine book stores everywhere.
For more on Stephen Romano, head on over to his official site:
You can check out “Black Light” on Facebook as well.
Comic Book News Marvel

Advanced Review: Avengers: X-Sanction #1

The crossover event of the year is finally upon us! The solicits have been out, the press has been geared up for months, even the NYCC was all a buzz about the ramifications Avengers: X-Sanction will bring to the future of the Marvel Universe. Loeb and McGuiness have brought Cable back from Marvel's ever expanding

Comic Book News

Advanced Review: Fatale #1 (Brubaker, Phillips & Stewart)

  From the critically acclaimed creative team that brought fans both Criminal and Sleeper, comes their new work of pure genius — Fatale!   Taking place between the years 2011 and 1956, fans are enthralled within the pulp noir world that this trio always creates so poetically. Following Nicolas Lash, in the present, we find

Comic Book News

Review: Swamp Thing #4

  In the desert, something is building a kingdom. It is not built with brick or mortar, or by the hands of man. It is built with pain and flesh. Disease and sinew are it's bonding agent, and it is growing bigger by the day. In the desert, where few things can survive the brutal

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