Friday, June 29, 2007

In Saturday's Gaming page

Ah, the best part of every week, I just finished putting together another blockbuster Gaming page, for Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal Sports section (page 5C!)

And before you die of curiosity, I'll tell you ----- the color scheme for Saturday's centerpiece is Orange and Green. I know you all love the colors.

Our centerpiece is not only a story on the World Series of Poker's HORSE event, which concluded today, but also a story on why several stars think HORSE should be the game that decides who the World Poker Champion is each year.

We also have a feature on the Wii being so hard to find (like we didn't know that already) and news about just how badly the Wii is kicking the PS3's ass in sales.

Finally, as always, we have our weekly fantasy baseball advice column.

With pages like this, they sell themselves... especially since the whole paper is 50 center, all you have to do is flip to page 5C and you're there!

A Wii-Shield for your TV

OK, here's a clear sign that Wii-Mania has gotten out of control. WiiHaveaProblem.com has a story about a new product coming out -- a SHIELD to put in front of your TV that can protect the screen from flying Wiimotes.

People: These damn Wiimotes aren't just flying all around. They're not birds. They're not bats. You're trying to tell me that you people are doing such damage to your house with your Wiimotes that you now need to buy protective coverage for them? Why don't you also go dig up your Nintendo power Glove to protect your fingers while you're playing? Maybe where a catcher's mask — one of those pesky Wiimotes might get into your eye, and you'll have to wear an eye patch for the rest of your life.

I mean, Damn, just hold on to your damn Wiimote and the TV will be fine!

All-Pro Football 2K8 impressions

GameSpot.com has an in-depth look at some of the unique qualities All-Pro Football 2K8 is offering at THIS LINK.

It looks like 2K Sports has succeeded in making a thoroughly different football game from one with an NFL License. Will it be enough to overcome, or at least compete with Madden? I say it's so close, it's going to come down to straight gameplay -- something this article doesn't touch on too much.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Second GTA IV Trailer Here!

Get out your semi-automatic weapons and call up your hookers, the second trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV is now available -- and with it available on YouTube, I was able to link it here. Enjoy it, in all its adult-themed glory!

No Wii hard drive coming anytime soon

Nintendo, the unrivaled kings of nickel and diming you to death, is up to their old Shenanigans. Wow, I expected Shenanigans to come up on Spell Check. Any who...

Even after announcing WiiWare yesterday (follow THIS LINK for the story), it was revealed today that, difinitively, the company is not releasing a hard drive for the Wii to acompany the 512 MB flash drive inside of the system. follow THIS LINK for that story.

What is a gamer, especially one eager to use WiiWare, to do? Buy tons of crappy little memory cards, that's what! What a waste.

SpikeTV to host World Cyber Games

Good News, Everyone!

We just received a release about SpikeTV and MTV partnering to air the World Cyber Games this fall! In addition to broadcasting news on both of the channels' Web sites, Spike TV is going to be showing weekly highlights from the Games on their weekly show, "GameHead," and -- best of all -- Spike is going to air a one-hour championship show in November.

This is one significant step toward getting video game competitions aired on a regular basis. Personally, I would prefer regular airing of Curling, but video games are good too.

Buy Pile Report: Final for the week

Yes, a week with three separate Buy Pile reports. I don't know if you should be thrilled or pissed at the amount of stringing you along. I promise this third one will be the shortest of the trilogy... if for no other reason that in the six comics I just read since leaving the office, none of them really had much of an impact.

The least impact of all of them may be, in fact, Countdown #44. This series has been ho-hum for several issues in a row now, as the biggest development in this one was Mary Marvel getting pissed at Billy Batson (looking older with white hair and a white uni, by the way) for telling her she shouldn't have accepted powers from Black Marvel. Like we wouldn't know he would be unhappy or she would get all bitchy at him. Other than that...? The rogues were shown on the run (duh), Jimmy again shows off odd powers he cannot explain (again!), and Holly is brought to some strange Ancient-Greek-woman-looking health club place (that's the best I can describe it).

Frankly, the most interesting part of this whole issue was Dan Didio's DC Nation column, in which he said another big DC death would come by year's end, and it would cause "outrageous fortunes." And how sad is it for a book that was to be the "Spine of the DCU" that the most intriguing part was a stupid editor column page???

Silent War #6 concluded the mini-series, and I'm left feeling a little empty about the whole thing. The resolution? Maximus now rules the Inhumans, and after the Americans destroyed Atilian, Maximus is going to lead the group to live on Earth. Black Bolt is left alone.

Maybe I feel empty since this resolution -- the explosion on the moon and the ending of the people leaving Black Bolt there -- occurred in a quick five page span. Or maybe its because the story isn't really over, since the Inhumans are supposedly about to start a conquest on Earth. This was no ending.

OK, I'm failing in my attempt to make this a short entry! Let's just go straight to the lightning round!

- X-Men:First Class Vol. 2 #1 delivered on the same jovial 1960's meets 2000's tone of the mini-series, so pick it up!

- Ultimate Fantastic Four #43 introduced us to an Ultimate Silver Surfer (a real one, not the one from "Ultimate Extinction") and after reading, I have never been closer to saying there is no point to having an Ultimate Fantastic Four anymore.

- Ultimate X-Men #83 wasn't bad at all. It wasn't so spectacular. Nightcrawler now leads the Morlocks, and Jean is pretty clearly Phoenix, some interesting stuff. That said, how much better would this book be, if it were simply Scott and Jean leading a team in an Ultimate Universe similar to Ultimate Spider-Man's? Oh wait, that's X-Men: First Class!

- Fantastic Four #547 is simply the start to what looks to be a decent Fantastic Four vs. Frightful Four story. If that sounds like good classic Fan Four stuff, jump on board.

Want to know what's going on in Amazons Attack or what happened in the Sinestro Corps Special? Too lazy to just scroll down? Click on the links!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Buy Pile Report: Amazons Attack

OK, so it turned out it wasn't such a wild night in the office tonight afterall, So I have all three Amazons Attack issues for this week read and digested.

If you haven't bought these three today, you're not missing all too much. The winner out of these three is, predictably, Amazons Attack #3. This issue again offers a broad overview of the war, showing that attacks on America have broken out everywhere -- Smallville, Kansas for one, Star City for another (guess which heroes tended to those particular problems?) There was also an interesting development among the Amazons' ranks --Artemis is beginning to doubt her queen. My prediction? Artemis comes out of this as the Amazons' leader.

More than most events I can remember, though, for as mediocre as this event has been, this main series is actually very good at making you feel like you're getting a complete story. You can also easily see where the tie-ins fit in, as irrelevant as they are.

If you are a fan of Wonder Girl or Supergirl, though, Teen Titans #48 is one tie-in to buy. The entire thing is simply Cassie and Kara attacking the U.S. Army (and eventually the Titans caught in the middle) in an effort to free their captive friends, arrested for suspicion of Amazon sympathizing (in a really goofy plot point). While it may at first seem ridiculous for a pair of super heroes to act so irrationally -- I think this may fit these two characters perfectly, especially with Cassie's mental state of late.

However, Beechen's super-cheesy dialog keeps this one from being a worth-while read for anyone other than a WG/SG fan (and I'm a Beechen fan!)

Lastly, we get a big ole' ball of cheese from Wonder Woman #10. The entire thing is just Diana arguing in her head about "who she is" and then confronting her Mother arguing about who she is -- and it might have some purpose to it all if Diana's history had not been changed and re-changed constantly. Again, if you're not a die-hard Diana fan, pass this issue in a heartbeat.

I'll be back late at night with more from my sizable this week Buy Pile...

Make your own games for the Wii?!?

Can it be true? Do my eyes deceive me? Is Nintendo actually releasing a program, titled "WiiWare," that is going to let ANYONE make Wiimote-using video games for the Wii???

In the words of Captain Marvel, HOLY MOLEY!

Read the Associated Press story:

"SEATTLE — Nintendo Co. has opened its blockbuster Wii game system to independent video-game developers for the first time, the company announced Wednesday.
Nintendo said it will let individuals and outside game studios create and sell downloadable Wii games with a tool called WiiWare. Gamers will be able to purchase the games through the console’s Wii Shop channel starting in early 2008.
Perrin Kaplan, a Nintendo spokeswoman, said the game-creation kit is designed for people with at least some knowledge of computer programming. Developers can start designing games using a PC but must complete them on the Wii console, Kaplan said.
“Independent developers armed with small budgets and big ideas will be able to get their original games into the marketplace to see if we can find the next smash hit,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, in a statement.
Nintendo may be taking a page from Microsoft Corp.’s play book. The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker’s XNA Game Studio tools let developers design video games for its Xbox 360 console. "

Not only is this going to be like crack to amateur programmers across the globe, but this will keep Nintendo's WiiShop in business, making tons on money off of absolutely free content. Think about it -- Nintendo is going to have an Army of people making games that they can sell for 5 bucks a pop, and none of them will be good enough to bring the Wii games sales down.

What a friggin' genius scam!

Video Games not ruled an Addiction...

... For now, that is. Read this Associated Press story and you can see for yourself. While the American Medical Association has ruled that video games are not a formal addiction, they are going to look further into it. Meaning, to me, that they are simply ignoring the subject for a while. But here, take a read:

"CHICAGO — The American Medical Association on Wednesday backed off calling excessive video-game playing a formal psychiatric addiction, saying instead that more research is needed.
A report prepared for the AMA’s annual policy meeting had sought to strongly encourage that video-game addiction be included in a widely used diagnostic manual of psychiatric illnesses.
AMA delegates instead adopted a watered-down measure declaring that while overuse of video games and online games can be a problem for children and adults, calling it a formal addiction would be premature.
“While more study is needed on the addictive potential of video games, the AMA remains concerned about the behavioral, health and societal effects of video game and Internet overuse,” said Dr. Ronald Davis, AMA’s president. “We urge parents to closely monitor children’s use of video games and the Internet.” "

I dunno about you, but I was always taught that a habit becomes an addiction when it impedes upon your normal daily activities and interactions in a detrimental way. I've heard countless stories of Gaming leading to getting fired from jobs or ruining relationships... I'd call that addiction.

Then again, getting classified as a formal addiction will only bring in the government for even more needless video game legislation... What do you think of all this?

Buy Pile Report: Sinestro Corps

OK, so my self control took a hit today after all, I broke down and pushed off work to read Green Lantern Sinestro Corps: Special #1 ...

This is Geoff Johns at his best. Now, before I get to Spoilers, I will say three things about this issue:

1) It felt like the first issue of a major company-spanning event, and in a very good way. The way that the first issues of the two Crisises (is that the right plural?) felt. My Mind is blown.

2) I kinda doubt this will end up having major event implications, since DC is not whoring it out like many other things... maybe it might have implications on the end of Countdown?

3) If you simply want to be spoiled, I guess everything that developed in this issue can be easily explained and you actually might not NEED to buy the issue and still jump on board at Green Lantern #21.

My Jaw Dropped to the ground on NUMEROUS occasions reading, so I really suggest you not reading the spoilers and just buying the book. But if you MUST just read spoilers...




Here are the Quick Hitting Spoilers:

- Sinestro has a MASSIVE Army of Ring-Slingers, probably more than the actual Green Lantern Corps has, especially after an attack on OA has left dozens dead. One of them is the ANTI-MONITOR!?!

- During the attack on OA, the Sinestro Corps busted Hank Henshaw and -- get this -- SUPERBOY PRIME out of GL Jail. They were promptly given Yellow Rings.

- Kyle Rayner was kidnapped by a yellow ring (using his trademark feelings of being an outsider) and taken to the Anti-Matter Universe, where it was revealed that ION is a parasite, the same as Parallax was. Rayner was stripped of ION and forced to house Parallax, making him a crown jewel in Sinestro's Army.

Gotta love the self control

I'm proud of myself right now... After all that bitching over how much money I wasted on Civil War tie-ins a few months ago, going to the Dragon's Den today with World War Hulk: Front Line #1 and World War Hulk: X-Men #1 on the shelves was a major temptation.

But, when faced with the issues right in front of my nose, I was able to hold back from purchasing... hell, I was the one yesterday that told you just how irrelevant both of these issues would be, and I did still buy 10 other comics today, anyway, who needs these tie-ins?

With so much work to do now that I'm in the Poughkeepsie Journal offices, I doubt if I'll be able to get any early reviews up today (though Sinestro Corps Special #1 is calling to me!), but rest assured that by late tonight I'll have a full Buy Pile Report up.

This week's comic expectations

So, we're all enjoying World War Hulk so far, right? Well, Marvel is going to start enjoying it much more this week. You see, this week the tie-ins really begin -- where the real money is made. Sure, the main title may be fantastic for 3 bucks a pop, but then there are always dozens of tie-ins, also at 3 bucks each, and most of which won't be up to snuff. So, this is the week that you need to figure out just how much money you plan on spending on World War Hulk (and Amazons Attack, for that matter) and on which titles.

This week, we have two World War Hulk tie-ins, World War Hulk: Front Line #1 and World War Hulk: X-Men #1 (No, She-Hulk #19 is no tie-in). Now, while it would seem WWH:Front Line may offer more actual WWH storyline exposition than WWH:X-Men, I wonder just how much a Front Line title is needed in WWH. I mean, Front Line was fantastic in Civil War, but this event is far different from Civil War. This is less cerebral and more fun -- which is why I am expecting Front Line this time around to be little more than Marvel milking the success of the first Front Line. WWH:X-Men, on the other hand, seems to be simply fun "Hulk Smash!" stuff, and it may be fun to see the first time the X-Men have tangled with Green Scar in a while.

The Amazons have a couple of tie-ins too, as well as Amazons Attack #3. And after Amazons Attack #2 actually delivered on making this story interesting again, I'm curious as to how it is going to adapt. For some reason this week in AA #3 and Teen Titans #48, Wonder Girl and Supergirl somehow seem to be joining the Amazons cause. Why is this? Hopefully we'll find out Wednesday. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman #10 comes out Wednesday as well, and so far the person who should be the star of this event has done nothing special in it. I'm not saying to pass this issue, since we all know Diana is going to play a large role eventually, but so far the WW tie-in issues have been a bore.

We also do have some non-event issues this week too.

Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1 comes out, and we'll finally get to see the crazy lineup of rogues that Sinestro (with the help of Geoff Johns) has established. Frankly the thought of Cyborg Superman with a yellow power ring alone is frightening, let alone all the other goons. Oh, and Kyle Rayner may be in trouble here...

We also have what is billed as being a giant event for the X-Men -- X-Men #200, marking the official return of the Marauders, this time led by Gambit. Mike Carey has his team of X-Men in shambles -- in a good way for readers -- and this new (old) team of villains may be too much for them to handle. I would say this is a must read book for any X-Men fan, but frankly, Chris Bachalo's art is so ugly to look at that I hardly enjoy anything he draws.

Wednesday's comic release list

Plenty of big event tie-ins this week -- between Amazons Attack and World War Hulk, this is the week where you have to decide just how much money are you going to spend on each...

DC:
Amazons Attack #3
Blue Beetle #16
Cartoon Network Block Party #34
Countdown #44
Crossing Midnight #8
Deadman #11
Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special #1
Jack Of Fables #12
JSA Classified #27
Nightmare On Elm Street #8
Ninja Scroll #10
Supergirl And The Legion Of Super Heroes #31
Superman Batman #37
Teen Titans #48
Teen Titans Go #44
Wetworks #10
Wonder Woman #10

Marvel:
Black Panther #28
Cable Deadpool #42
Criminal #7
Daredevil #98
Fantastic Four #547
Immortal Iron Fist #6
Magician Apprentice #8 (Of 12)
Marvel Adventures Avengers #14
Marvel Illustrated Last Of The Mohicans #2
She-Hulk 2 #19
Silent War #6
Silver Surfer Requiem #2
Spider-Man Fairy Tales #2
Thunderbolts #115
Ultimate Fantastic Four #43
Ultimate Vision #4
Ultimate X-Men #83
Wolverine Origins #15
World War Hulk Front Line #1
World War Hulk X-Men #1
X-Factor #20
X-Men #200
X-Men First Class Vol 2 #1

Others:
Archaic #7
Archie Double Digest #180
Betty #166
Boys #8
Castle Waiting Vol II #7
Empty Chamber #2
Fathom Killians Vessel Odagawa #1
Frank Frazettas Death Dealer #3
Grimm Fairy Tales #15
Hellboy: Darkness Calls #3
Into The Dust #1
Invincible #43
Jughead #182
Kiss 4k #2
Nightly News #6
Phantom #17
Red Sonja #23
Sheena #1
Sonic X #21
Spawn Godslayer #2
Uncle Scrooge #367
Walking Dead #38
Walt Disneys Comics & Stories #682
Witchblade #107
Wizard Magazine #190

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Benoit murder tragedy continues


I figured I'd get this up here for any of you who are interested, with all of the muck that's coming out in this Chris Benoit alleged murder, my Poughkeepsie Journal buddy Phil Strum is doing an incredible job keeping his wrestling blog packed with info. Visit http://www.pojoslam.blogspot.com and read it all, as sad as it is.

EA tabs Durant as coverboy


EA Sports released the cover to "March Madness 08" today, and former Texas forward (likely future Seattle Sonic) Kevin Durant is featured on its cover. Have a gander in all its glory.

College basketball games, for me, are like, well, to quote Seal, "For me, you're like a grown addiction that I can't deny." ... yes, I just quoted a Seal song, you want to make something of it?

I love college basketball like a fish loves water, but I just haven't been pleased with ANY College hoops title since "Coach K College Basketball" for the Sega Genesis. I know I'm never happy with the way they make these college ball games -- and yet I always end up buying them and playing them for about 1 week before kicking myself since the games stink so bad.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Report on the 4400: "Fear Itself"

Oh, who called it!?! OK, I only half called it. No, probably more like three-quarters called it.

And I quote myself from last week's random thoughts on the season premiere: "I couldn't be more curious about the girl Cassie that Kyle talked to. I have a feeling she is tied to his power, which he says he doesn't have... of course Graham said he had none either at first... I wonder if Cassie is from the future?"

There you go -- who told you that Kyle's ability was talking to a girl who knows the future?

While "Fear Itself" didn't quite have the fast-paced action that the season opener had, I still give this episode high marks for advancing the Season Four storylines to the point where now I feel like all the pieces are in place and we're reading to get rolling:
- Diana is officially back with NTAC (again, why did they bother with the whole Spain thing?)
- Kyle's powers are exposed to us viewers
- Shawn is clearly going to be actively opposing the shot and representing an opposing force to Collier's
- Tom is getting over Alana
- Isabelle is officially tested as unable to regain her powers.

Now, we're ready to roll.

Oh, and the episode also featured another "super-power of the week" story, this time centering on an autistic child, who's parent injected him with the shot to try to cure him, who unintentionally incites panic. I cannot say this story really did anything to me, although I did find the concept of a desperate parent and a sick kid turning to the shot as an interesting concept. What this story did lead to was Shawn's first healing since he came out of the coma -- which simply went further to show what his future will entail.

The highlight of the week for me was Shawn's storyline, juxtaposed with Kyle's and Shawn's brother Danny. Something is always wrong for the relationship between these cousins, and you know that in a perfect world, with everyone back together, this should be a bit of a happy ending for them -- but almost immediately the ideological differences between Shawn and Kyle becomes the 800-pound elephant in the room, and Danny's jealousy has him wanting the shot -- sure to infuse drama.

Still, great acting from that trio, making this episode a 8 out of 10 rather than a 7... if I were the type to rate shows on a 1-10 scale. I'm not.

Want some random thoughts from the man who called Kyle's ability? My Pleasure!

1) You just know that Danny is going to die. You just know it. Too many people have lived through this 50/50 chance.

2) Garrity is such a doormat -- when you need someone to get sick, he's your man.

3) Kyle's awfully lucky his visions come in the form of a semi-attractive redhead... his visions could have looked like a 400-pound guy in a mustard-stained undershirt named chuck...

4) I like the idea of this hundred-year-old Cult that has predicted Collier's coming... but I wonder how accurate something like that can be when people from the future could have easily planted this all 100 years ago to make people believe Collier would be something he isn't... I mean, "the future" still hasn't proved to be the good guys, right?

5) Is it just me, or was this episode directed very much like a soap opera?

6) I have a feeling Shawn is going to be a formidable leader opposing Collier -- and this time he'll be a good leader, since this time he is asking to lead, not thrust upon it...

7) ... And wouldn't it be cool if Shawn re-opened the 4400 Centers and kind of flaunt them in Collier's face?

8) Oh, and, ya think new boss lady is going to enlist Shawn's help? Ya Think?

9) The actress that plays Diana slipped into her natural Australian accent a time or two... go back and watch, you'll hear it

10) I wonder... did Isabelle actually fail that test?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This week's video game releases

In the words of Borat: "Wowaweewa!" Lots and lots of possible (note, I say possible) winners in one week! Finally, the spring slump is over. "The Darkness" looks promising, as does "Hour of Victory," and could "The BIGS" be the solid arcade-style baseball game we've been waiting for for a few years? I don't know... what I do know is that Disney could not have released "Ratatouille" on any more platforms...

June 25:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, PS3, PS2, PSP, PC)
The BIGS (Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PS2)
Touchmaster DS (DS)
The Darkness (Xbox 360, PS3)
Pokemon Battle Revolution (Wii)
Transformers: The Game (Xbox 360)
Hour of Victory (Xbox 360)

June 26:
Ratatouille (Xbox 360, Xbox, Wii, DS, GameCube, Gameboy Advance, PS2, PSP, Mobile, PC, MAC)
Traxxpad (PSP)
Some Great Game (PC)
Chicken Shoot (Wii)
Transformers: The Game (Wii, PS3, PS2)
Overlord (Xbox 360, PC)
The Adventures of Darwin (PS2)
Zendoku (DS)
Super Collapse 3 (PSP)
Horsez (Gameboy Advance)
Driver: Parallel Line (Wii, PC)
Deer Drive (PC)
Steel Horizon (PSP)
Nervous Brickdown (DS)
Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth (DS)
Marvel Trading Card Game (PC)
GrimGrimoire (PS2)
Defender of the Crown: Heroes Live Forever (PC)
Call of Heroes: Pompolic Wars (PC)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas (PS3)
Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition (PSP)
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (PC)
Seven Kingdoms: Conquest (PC)

June 27:
911: First Responders

June 29:
Ride! Carnival Tycoon (PC)
Vegas Casino High 5! (DS)
Black Hawk (PC)
Metin2 (PC)
Bomberman Live (Xbox 360)
Warlords (Xbox 360)
Super Stardust HD (PS3)

June 30:
Hitman Trilogy (PS2, PC)
Professor Brainium's Games (DS)
High Velocity Bowling (PS3)
Carcassonne (Xbox 360)
Rafa Nadal Tennis (DS)

"High Velocity Bowling?" Yes, this is why they made the PS3 and equipped it with mind-blowing Blu-Ray technology — for the very best bowling game possible.

Great Zelda Blog

No, it's not my own blog. I just found this today: http://bloggingzelda.blogspot.com

A grownup gamer, who played and loved the Original Legend of Zelda as a kid but not too many other Zelda games, is going to play each and every Zelda game, in order, all the way through -- and all the while he'll be chronicling his travels on this blog.

He's already through the two Nintendo Entertainment System games, apparently having just finished The Adventure of Link on Friday.

While he gets a little wordy at times on the blog, this is a must read for any old-school Zelda lover. I'm pretty sure I'll be reading all the way through to Twilight Princess.

Finally, an alternative to The Rock for Captain Marvel!

There's an interview at E! Online (LINK HERE) with Brandon Molale, about how he is up for the role of Captain Marvel in the Shazam! movie.

Yes, I know, the guy's a nobody, and no, other than his bit part in "Dodgeball" I cannot think of anything else he's been in either.

But, if he is Captain Marvel, we would at least get one of the two characters right by making The Rock Black Adam. And who knows? The schmuck could be a good Billy Batson, you never know.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Learn to read INTERLAC


Yes, this is the Interlac alphabet -- you know, the language the Legion of Super Heroes use... And no, I haven't memorized this myself, I'm not THAT much of a geek, but I found this JPeg on a message board and figured I'd share with you all, in case there's anyone out there that wants to translate some of the stuff from the recent JLA/JSA "Lightning Saga."


Wow, that was one long sentence. I have a feeling if I were still in 10th grade engligh, Ms. Young would have circled that one in red. Good thing I'm a professional writer now, I can do things like this.

If you click on the pic, it's more readable.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Manhunt 2": Should it be available?

So, in Saturday's Gaming page, we ran a story about how the production of "Manhunt 2," Take Two's Adults Only rated video game, which was intended for the PlayStation 3 and Wii, has been suspended. On the one hand, it makes sense, since Sony and Nintendo both have a policy of not producing Adult rated games for their systems, and major chain stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart wouldn't stock the game.

But since it makes sense monetarily for Take Two, it doesn't make it right. The question is, should Adult rated games be readily available for those mature enough to purchase and play? They are already available for the PC, and it seems to me that they should be available on all consoles as well.

What are your thoughts? Should Adult rated games be available? Should they simply not exist, so there is no chance of those too young getting their hands on the game?

In Saturday's Gaming page

Folks, congratulate me, I just picked up dinner! OK, so maybe that's not as exciting as the fact that, right before heading to the Deli, I finished off Saturday's Gaming page in the Poughkeepsie Journal (page 2C this time).

We have some great stuff on Saturday's page -- including an interesting story about the American Medical Association actually mulling over giving video game addiction status as a mental disorder. I'm not sure how I feel about this one... while I don't exactly think loving video games is a form of psychosis, we all know I'm crazy, so who can say?

We also have a story about Take Two's next steps following the suspension of "Manhunt 2," a game which has been rejected by Sony and Nintendo for its Adults Only rating. Finally, of course, our weekly Fantasy Baseball column.

Sound interesting? Well then pick up the Poughkeepsie Journal on Saturday!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sam Jackson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

OK, this is just ridiculous. Remember, about five years ago, when Marvel's Ultimate Universe introduced their Nick Fury and it was just obvious that the character was patterned after Samuel L. Jackson?

Well now fiction is turning into reality.

Ain't it Cool News (LINK HERE) is reporting that Sam Jackson is taping a few scenes for the upcoming Iron Man movie, and he is playing Nick Fury.

Eat your heart out, David Hasselhoff!

Now, there is no downside to this news -- Sam Jackson is the man, the Sam Jackson Nick Fury character is likewise the man, this definitely makes the Iron Man movie more exciting, and this is news that may lead to a Nick Fury movie or an Ultimate Avengers movie -- I just find this to be ridiculous that the character Jackson has signed on to play is basically himself with a big gun.

Who wants to be a Superhero Again?


Comicscontinuum.com has pictures and bios up from all 10 contestants on next month's season two of "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" at THIS LINK.

The fella to the right is "Mindset," a telekinetic time traveler from the future, aiming to save the past. Apparently in the future, the cholesterol problem has really gotten out of control, so this schmuck was sent to the past to eat every hot dog on the planet.

Poor poor Stan Lee for getting involved with this show, and then sticking with it. Although, I do enjoy watching the show for the cheese factor -- like last year's mission in which the true test of heroics was stopping to help a lost child instead of finishing the objective they were told they would have to accomplish. Or the show where they had to run like 40 yards to some house's porch despite rabid dogs biting and clawing them all the way.

The show comes back July 26.

More Classic Legion of Superheroes on the Way

Newsarama has a fantastic post-Lighting Saga interview with Justice League writer Brad Meltzer and Justice Society writer Geoff Johns at THIS LINK.

Why is this especially interesting? Check this out:

"But the Legion of Super-Heroes, the team that Superman spent time with when he was a teenager, have retreated back to the 31st century. What happened to them? Why are they reluctant to tell Superman? Why won’t they ask Superman for help? These are all questions that’ll be answered in "Superman and The Legion of Super-Heroes," which is Gary Frank’s first arc in Action Comics, beginning with issue #858."

Unfortunately, that's eight months away, which is pretty damn long to wait to see Superman finally get his explanation and we possibly get an explanation of whether that's Barry Allen in the Lightning Rod or not. The good news is, given the timing of the story, my guess is it will lead into the next big DC Event, meaning the Legion and/or Barry might play a big role.

Buy Pile Report: Everything but Flash

You know, after reading the those three Flash-related issues before starting the workday, I thought to myself "the rest of this pile is likely a big letdown." I couldn't have been more wrong.

Because, while the best issue of the day likely still belongs to Marc Guggenheim's "Flash," I just finished reading plenty of runner-ups... and a couple of last-place finishers.

The best non-Flash story of the day was, hands down, Captain America #27. Ed Brubaker continues to prove that he knew what he was doing, at least in the short term, in killing off Steve Rogers. While we don't get too much story development in the issue -- Winter Soldier recovers Cap's shield and Tony finds out W.S. is coming after him -- what we get plenty of is great character moments.

To watch Bucky have to fight Natasha, a woman who he went through very personal things with, in order to get Steve's shield is almost painful, given what us readers know Bucky has already went through. We also see Sharon again trying to deal with her own guilt, nearly doing something drastic. I miss Cap -- but I miss him less with such good stories still coming.

We also received two World War Hulk tie-ins this week. Well, we actually got three -- but Ghost Rider #12 was too terrible to mention.

Incredible Hulk #107 was stellar, with a tone which perfectly fits in relevantly with World War Hulk #1, even if this issue was more the adventures of Amadeus Cho than the Hulk. We watch as Cho makes all the right moves to recruit help for Hulk's cause (Hercules, Angel and Namora). And though Hercules has to sacrifice his body and accept Hulk's beating to prove the group is on Hulk's side, eventually it seems Hulk officially accepts human allies -- which will only escalates things in the future...

For as good as Incredible Hulk was, Iron Man #19 was equally irrelevant. At the end of World War Hulk #1, Iron Man delivers an eloquent, potent and concise speech explaining why he is accepting the responsibility of fighting off Hulk. In this issue, we see nothing but needless expansion on all of that. We're not given anything new or different -- unless you count seeing things from Tony's very very VERY predictable point of view.

Just a few more quick notes to finish up:

1) X-Men:Endangered Species was touching and powerful, showing why each and every nameless mutant left standing is important to their race. That said, this backup story series still looks VERY boring in the long run.

2) Brave and the Bold #4 continues to be nothing but a big ball of fun superhero teamups, between unlikely characters. Lobo's constant innuendo about underage Supergirl was both hilarious and just plain wrong.

3) Is it just me, or is Forerunner in Countdown #45 just a cheap female knockoff of Lobo?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Buy Pile Report: The Flash


Yes, a special early Buy Pile Report, just for the three issues (which turns out to be just two issues) dealing with the big Flash event that came out today. The rest of today's goodies will be reported later.

And I warn you right off the bat, this one has more spoilers than McDonald's has Chicken McNuggets.

First off, I found out quickly in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 that I had made an error... on the cover to this issue was not a decomposed older Flash, but rather "Black Flash," who shows up whenever a Speedster is about to die. Kinda like a Watcher in the Marvel U, only with very specific tastes.

And, I'll be upfront about it, Bart Allen dies. And he definitely dies, for the first time (to my knowledge) DC has killed a Speedster without an easy out. And the issue is pretty well done. While I have not been reading the first few parts of this arc, the conclusion did not have me lost in the woods.

What it lacked was real emotion. Whether it was because I haven't read much of this series lately, or because it was just not well done, I did not feel very much emotion for the death of a character I liked. What it had going for it was some very good action, and even better misdirection. For the briefest of moments, Gugenheim tries to get you to believe Black Flash is there to observe Inertia's death and not Bart's -- it's not a long enough moment to really convince you, just long enough for good natural storytelling.

But in the end, Bart is beaten to death. What we don't get from this issue is who the next Flash will be...

That comes in Justice League of America #10, the conclusion of the "Lightning Saga." A fantastic ending to the five-part JLA/JSA crossover includes the seven Legion members managing to bring WALLY WEST and family back to New Earth.

Not Barry Allen. Even though the issue leads you to believe it will be. Batman is the most visibly disappointed when he finds out Wally has returned and not Barry, making for a very good human moment from the Caped Crusader. On the other hand, Hal and Roy are thrilled to see Wally. I would think Hal would rather Barry as well, but maybe he was just happy to have ANYONE back. And, of course, Wally was immediately offered League membership.

Personally, if I were Wally I'd be up for a little R&R after all this time... maybe leave the kids with Jay for the weekend and take the wife out to the Caribbean? But nope, its right back to work.

And, just to touch on the Lightning Saga proper -- Starman is staying with the JSA (yay! Sloppy Joes!), and Val is staying on New Earth (though he doesn't know why).

Finally, Countdown #45, which was supposed to include current DC events, including the Flash stuff... Well, not only does it not have anything having to do with Bart, or Barry or Wally, it isn't even up to date on the Lighting Saga! It's like 1 month and a half behind!

I'm kinda enjoying Countdown, this issue is a little dull, but overall it's been good... But if this "Spine of the DC Universe" is not up on current events, then how is it a Spine at all? Half the pages in this issue is far far out of date useless filler.

Oh, and the cover of the issue, which would indicate that, following current events Val joins the JLA, makes NO SENSE AT ALL!

So, to Sum up it all: A little over a year ago, Wally West was removed from the picture and Bart was forced to grow up rapidly and become the new Flash. Now, that character, a GREAT Teenage character but dull grownup, has been killed just to bring Wally West back.

Am I the only one saying "What the %*&$?!?"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This week's comic expectations

Just like last week, there could not be more going on... unlike last week, the headliner goes to DC, for all this Buzz surrounding the Flash and possibly Barry Allen or Wally West...

We're finally going to get the answer to Bart Allen's final fate in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13, and according to Mark Waid, we're also going to get part of the answer in Justice League of America #10 (though if you've no interest in the League, I'm sure the whole answer can be found in the Flash). The question is a two parter: 1) Will Bart Allen survive and still be Flash? 2) If not, who will be?

The Clues? 1) DC's released image a couple of weeks ago showing the rogues killing a Flash. 2) The cover to this issue features a dead and decomposed Flash (presumably Barry Allen) holding a lifeless Flash (presumably Bart) in its arms. 3) Mark Waid is taking back over the title, and there will be a six-month hiatus between this issue and the relaunching of the title, resuming the numbering where Waid left off (during the Wallly West era). 4) Waid said he would be writing a different scarlet speedster this time around, and the answer to the question of who can also be found in the conclusion of the JLA/JSA "Lightning Saga" crossover (JLA #10), in which seven members of the Legion of Superheroes have come back in time to resurrect an unidentified Hero. 5) Countdown #43's cover is of the Teen Titans attending a funeral, and Speedy, of all people, is near the center, not an older Titan

We are, of course, being led to think Barry is coming back and Bart is dying. I'm starting to think differently, after reading the three-page preview on ComicsContinuum.com ... I really just doubt DC is going to give in to fan pressure and kill off Bart...

Anyway, there is much more going on this week than just the Flash! Lightning Round --- GO!

1) Incredible Hulk #107 is the first World War Hulk tie-in for Green Scar's main book

2) Brave and the Bold #4 features the most unlikely of teamups -- Supergirl and Lobo

3) Countdown #45 features Karate Kid's final fate with the Justice League, which may tie-in to the whole Flash story...

4) Captain America #27 includes Winter Soldier's first steps at killing Tony Stark... I think the Hulk is a bit ahead of you there, Bucky...

5) Mythos: Spider-Man continues in Marvel's series of some real beautiful painted recreations of heros' first stories. A must for any hardcore Peter Parker fan

6) X-Men Endangered Species One-Shot kicks off the 16-part back-up story saga of Beast trying to unravel the extent of Wanda's "no more mutants" edict. Personally I think the story seems weak, but Marvel claims this leads into the much cooler sounding X-Men: Messiah Complex

7) Iron Man #19 is another World War Hulk tie-in ... this issue would be higher on my Lightning Round list, if I didn't have the sinking feeling this issue is going to be entirely based on the last few pages of World War Hulk #1 and completely ruin how cool and concise Tony's speech at the end was...

Wednesday's comic release list

Man oh man, I can't remember the last time I was this pumped for the conclusion to a story I have not read all the other issues of. "Flash: The Fastest Man Alive," which we are being led to believe heralds the return of Barry Allen, headlines another big Big BIG week of comics...

DC:
Aquaman Sword Of Atlantis #53
Army @ Love #4
Brave And The Bold #4
Catwoman #68
Checkmate #15
Countdown #45
Ex Machina #29
Flash The Fastest Man Alive #13
Hellblazer #233
Highwaymen #1
Justice League Of America #10
Legion Of Super Heroes In The 31st Century #3
Robin #163
Scooby Doo #121
Shadowpact #14
Spirit #7

Marvel:
Amazing Spider-Man #541
Annihilation Conquest Prologue
Captain America #27
Daily Bugle July Newspaper
Fallen Son Death Of Captain America Spider-Man
Ghost Rider #12
Hedge Knight 2 Sworn Sword #1
Heroes For Hire #11
Incredible Hulk #107
Iron Man #19
Iron Man Hypervelocity #6
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #2
Marvel Heroes Flip Magazine #26
Marvel Spotlight Captain America Remembered
Mighty Avengers Most Wanted Files
Moon Knight #11
Mythos Spider-Man
Orson Scott Cards Wyrms #5
Sensational Spider-Man #38
Spider-Man Fantastic Four #3
Ultimate Spider-Man #110
X-Men Endangered Species One Shot

Others:
Alien Pig Farm #3

Archie #576
Castle Waiting Vol II #7
Conan #41
Fathom Kiani #2
Fathom Killians Vessel Odagawa #1
Frank Frazettas Death Dealer #2
Freshmen Vol. 2 #5
Gamekeeper #3
GI Joe Storm Shadow #2
Grimm Fairy Tales #15
Hickee Vol 3 #3
Highlander #8
Into The Dust #1
Iron & The Maiden #1
Kade Sun Of Perdition #4
Madame Mirage #1
Repo #1
Savage Tales #2
Simpsons Comics #131
Soulfire New World Order #0
Strongarm #4
Tales From Riverdale Digest #21
Transformers Megatron Origin #1
Transformers Movie Adaptation #3
Walking Dead #38
Ward of the State #3
Wasteland #10
Weapon #1
Weird World of Jack Staff King Size Special #1
Witchblade Shades Of Gray #2
Wizard Anime Insider #46
Wonderland #4

Monday, June 18, 2007

Report on the 4400: "Wraith of Graham"

Give me a minute to catch my breath! There's "hitting the ground running" and then there is hitting the ground running faster than Barry Allen!

If anyone was unsure of this new direction "The 4400" is taking with Season Four, Sunday night's opener should alleviate all fears.

Frankly, I was one of them that worried about the new direction. After all the upheaval of Season Three's conclusion (Promicin distribution, Isabelle's de-powering, Shawn's coma, Alana abducted, Diana's vacation and The 4400 Center's closing), I wondered if the show I was tuning into would be the same world I've grown to love over the first three years.

I really shouldn't have worried. While just about everything in the 4400 universe is new, this is definitely the same world, and I love the direction everything is moving in -- not only is it intriguing, but I also feel like its a logical progression, not just interesting writing.

So what were the major developments? Well, it looks like Diana is coming back to Seattle, right now on a less-stress consultant basis. Shawn was woke up from his coma by Kyle injecting him with promicin -- an idea given to him by a mysterious redhead who knows much too much. Tom found out where Alana is -- she was sent back to the 19th century (looks like she stayed there for a while) -- and Isabelle, who is really unhappy, pointed him toward it. Also, Collier is feeling guilty over how many people have died taking the shot, though he still believes he was right. Tess' same guilt has driven her back to her schitzofrenic ways, and ran away -- Dr. Burkoff has taken off looking for her.

Oh, and there was also a fantastic storyline to the show, where one unpopular and unnoticed high school kid took the shot, leading to powers to make everyone love and follow him. He damn near took over the world, had Jordan Collier not shown up and used HIS ABILITY to Remove the boy's Promicin!

As I said, they hit the ground Sprinting!

Now then, let's get to the random thoughts!

1) One of the only disappointments for me in this episode is the lack of Richard Tyler. I'm a big fan of his character, and his absence from the cast this year is a major downer.

2) Since when does Isabelle actually know ANYTHING about the future's plans? Wasn't she always in the dark?

3) I couldn't be more curious about the girl Cassie that Kyle talked to. I have a feeling she is tied to his power, which he says he doesn't have... of course Graham said he had none either at first... I wonder if Cassie is from the future?

4) I had read in an interview that we weren't going to see Tess after the first episode for a while... that said, I'm still gonna miss her character, one of my favorites...

5) However, I like how they removed her, and the dream sequence where she runs into whats-her-name 4400 secretary girl was fantastic!

6) And, speaking of dream sequences, I loved how they opened the episode with Collier's... it was not only intriguing, but it also sets a three-dimensional tone for his character this year, that he's not just a mindless messiah

7) And, speaking of dream sequences, what high school age kid has not had one where the hottest girl in school shows up at your door and says "I came to be with you" ??? Graham, you lucky kid!

8) For now, I say Diana's vacation/coming back to Seattle story is a piece of crap... Everyone knew she was coming back, why did we need all that "going off to Spain" stuff? I hope I am proved wrong and there is a good reason...

9) I feel like they are out of ideas on how to involve Maia in stories

10) I have a feeling Shawn is going to be a badass when he's back on his feet... I cannot wait...

That's it for me! I'm off to make a giant shrine to Graham!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Critics don't know us Comic Geeks and shouldn't try to

Yesterday, I hit up Rotten Tomatoes to read what all the critics had said about "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," a movie you all know by now I loved for the simplest of reasons (look below for the review!)

As of today, the Fresh scale of the movie is just 38%, which I'm not shocked about, before I went to the movie I had seen the low scores from several reviews. What I didn't do before seeing the movie, was read the reviews, for fear of being Spoiled.

I read them yesterday. And I have a bone to pick.

Most of the reviews included a phrase like "For comic book fans of any age, it is an atrocity."

To that I just have to ask, who the hell are these reviewers to say what "a comic book fan" thinks? Obviously, most of these people are not such fans. If they were, they would see that us comic geeks loved how the characters we've loved for decades were faithfully brought to life on screen. In the first film we got Johnny and Ben, in this one we got faithful representations of all four heroes and the Surfer. They would also know that, except for a very small minority of us, we realize the classic look of Galactus would be ridiculous on screen.

These are the same people that claimed "Spider-man 3" and "Batman Forever" were comic book fan crack.

I tend to have a phrase for people when they tell me how a movie was reviewed so well or reviewed so poorly: "Critics Know Nothing." As in, they know nothing of the real reasons why we love movies. They're all so busy taking themselves way too seriously to enjoy very many flicks, especially when they are not intended to rival "Shawshank Redemption" of 'Schindler's List."

In the future, reviewers should stick to telling us how the lighting in the ninth scene of the second act of a movie completely ruined it for them, and we can handle deciding what us comic fans enjoy.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Comic Convention roundup


I cannot remember the last time there was so much comic book info spilled in a 24 hour span. And, it all happened while I was away from my computer most of the day yesterday, driving and watching the Silver Surfer.

So, we're going to give you a whole lot of quick hits to get you up to speed:

1) The long-teased fall X-men crossover was announced, with "X-Men: Messiah Complex." It will have no central special mini-series, just a 13-part crossover with a one-shot leading into three issues from each X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, and New X-men. You remember crossovers like this, right? Old School, like "Inferno" or "X-Tinction Agenda."

I could not be any more stoked for this event, especially after I read this: "Something happens in Chapter One that changes everything. It stratifies the world of the X-Men in a clear way. It unifies the heroes in a way they haven’t been for years, and all under Scott Summers. Cyclops steps up huge in this event and will get people talking."

All I can say is HELL YEAH, the fanboy in me is throwing a party.

2) Dwayne McDuffie (who is currently also writing Fantastic Four) is taking over on Justice League of America at issue #13. Apparently he is going to be on the book as long as he likes (unless he REALLY bombs), and he'll be juggling the lineup to make it a bit smaller and iconic.

I am not a fan of this news. I haven't been too impressed with McDuffie's FF, and I am really more of a JLA fan when they have quirky lineups, like now with Red Arrow and Black Lightning and Red Tornado, or like the Keith Giffen days... plus, if this current lineup wasn't going to be around for long, then why did we have seven issues of them coming together???

3) Mark Waid will be taking over writing duties on The Flash, after "The Flash: Fastest Man Alive" ends with issue #13... and take a look at the cover to that one!

Newsarama has an interview with Waid up HERE, in which he states that he won't be writing the same Flash he was a few years ago, and that he cannot say who he is writing until The JLA/JSA "Lightning Saga" crossover is finished. That, combined with this cover makes it pretty obvious that a Mr. B. Allen may be returning from the dead... at least that's where we are being led to believe...

Personally, I like Bart. maybe it's just that I'm a Teen Titans guy, but I think he's too good a character to kill.

4) Amazing Spider-man is going weekly! Or at least, three times a month. While this may sound incredible and unbelievable, you should realize that Marvel is killing Spidey's two other titles at the same time, so the page count is not changing.

This move does bring up a good idea, though. With so many characters like Superman or Batman or the X-Men supporting several different titles, maybe going with one title and more issues is the way to go? I know if I was a bigger fan of the Webhead, I'd be excited.

5) The Avengers apparently can no longer trust anybody. It turns out that the Elektra hanging around with them was, in fact, a Skrull. And apparently there are Skrull sleeper cells EVERYWHERE... or at least that's what Brian Bendis is saying.

For the next six-months the Avengers book will be full or characters turning out to be Skrulls, turning the Avengers' world upside down. How all these Skrulls are only affecting the Avengers and nobody else, I don't know. What I do know is that Bendis swears they are not going to do something cheesy like make Civil War the product of a Skrull, completely negating that story.

Or at least, thats what he is saying now... I don't trust Bendis, he annoys the Shit out of me.

6) So those are the biggest ones out there, unless my memory is faltering... one last thing though — Joe Quesada's response to why he wouldn't bring Jean Grey back, if only to have another great female character out there — he said he would never randomly make 20 Latino characters just because he is of Cuban decent and the Marvel Universe needed more Latinos
...

But didn't he already do that???

Madden 08 impressions

Unfortunately, they are not my own impressions, they belong to IGN.com at THIS LINK. EA Sports recently held a press event showing off Madden 08, and IGN has some high praise for the once declining franchise.

From the sound of it, EA took their incoming competition from 2K Sports to heart, and actually made improvements to their gameplay for the first time in, oh, I'd say 4 years. God Bless you, 2K Sports! Even if your All-Pro Football 2K8 is likely to bomb now...

Sega questions Wii

Head to THIS LINK for a story about Scott Steinberg, Sega's U.S. Vice President of Marketing, questioning the longevity of Nintendo's it-machine, Wii.

Steinberg thinks the console's popularity will fall off in a big way by 2008, when developers and gamers realize there is only so many ways to play wrist-movement games.

I can't say that I don't agree with him, but still, how is the company that brought you "Sega CD" and the "Dreamcast" talking smack about any other console??? I mean, if they were in a mud-slinging contest with the Atari "Jaguar" then maybe I could see it, but not the little Wii-box that could.

Full Fantastic Four 2 Review

I will say this about "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," a movie which has been flooded with horrible reviews already... If ever you meet one of these reviewers who thought the movie was bad, you should roll up a newspaper and hit them across the nose. That way they will know that lying is bad, just like peeing on the carpet and chewing on shoes.

This was EXACTLY what a Fantastic Four movie should be.

And you may think me a hypocrite, after I buried "Spider-man 3" for being too coincidental, campy and self-aware, but all of those things work perfectly in the Fantastic Four Universe.

This movie had its flaws. We'll get to that. But it also had the two things that made the Fantastic Four the success that it is -- it was a story about family with plenty of heart, and it was FUN!

The Fantastic Four is all about forgetting the real world and just opening your imagination. Reed Richards lives in a world where anything is possible if you believe you can build it -- a flying car, a dimensional portal, anything. I had no problem suspending disbelief in this movie, unlike other superhero flicks.

I had very very VERY LOW expectations going in. I enjoyed the first movie but I didn't love it. This one looked to me like it was going to be a step down, and the 92 minute running time did not inspire confidence.

But the first scene featuring the family immediately brought a smile to my face. Literally. Director Tim Story wastes no time in establishing who the characters are and their place in the world, showing them to be celebrities, role models and family members. Johnny signs autographs. Ben poses for pictures with children. Reed and Sue talk wedding, with Reed clearly pre-occupied with science. We see Reed using his powers in everyday life, extending his arms to store his bags on the plane, and we see Johnny playfully taunting Ben, who is flying coach. It was all spot-on.

And, with all but one exception, Tim Story continued to nail each and every characterization for the duration of the film. This was especially surprising to me, because in the first movie I felt Reed was way too much of a Wuss and Jessica Alba's Sue Storm was horribly horrible. Just Horrible.

Yet, in this movie the pair is right out of the comic. Sure, Alba may look like Elizabeth Berkely in "Showgirls," with a ratty blond wig and creepy blue contacts -- but her acting was Sue Storm in every way. She was the strongest member of the team when she needed to be, but feminine and vulnerable at other times. Meanwhile, Reed steals the show with his leadership, especially when dealing with the military.

And Johnny and Ben? Well they are basically the same two characters from the first film, which was brilliant, in my book. Ben takes more of a backseat in this one, but still has moments of true heroics.

The strong characterization made the spectacular special-effects scenes, which were absent from Movie #1, even better in my book. Most movies lately think effects can be the meat of a film, when relationships, like Johnny's with Sue in this movie or Sue's with Surfer or Ben's with Johnny (all brilliantly done) are what really should be the meat.

As the story goes, the Silver Surfer shows up (looking CGI-riffic!), slowly preparing Earth to be consumed by Galactus, and the Military and Fantastic Four all aim to stop him. Dr. Doom shows up too, throwing a monkey wrench out there in a predictable way, but overall it's a simple story.

And I liked the simplicity of the story. For as epic and event as the end of the world is, I still felt like this was simply an adventure in the lives of the Fantastic Four. So many sequels try too hard to play the "We need to top the last one with every bell and whistle" game. This sequel, I felt like they could make several more on this level without needing to constantly one-up themselves.

Anyway, I don't want to give away too much of the story, so I'm not going to say anything else about it.

The one true downside to this movie, just like the first film, was Dr. Doom. For Tim Story, this is Strike Two. I just feel like Vic Von Doom is a whiny little power-hungry schmuck in these movies. He has no ego, no pride, no insane self-confidence. The Dr. Doom I know would never admit he needed Reed's help, as he does here. And sure, he is looking to take advantage of the situation the entire time -- but the comic-book Dr. Doom would figure out how to get what he wanted all on his own, or die trying. The saving grace for Doom is, sadly, that he's not as much a central character this time around.

Lastly, Galactus. I'm 100% OK with Galactus being a storm cloud, more like the "Ultimate Universe" Galactus we saw in the "Ultimate Extinction" mini-series, rather than a 30-foot tall purple clad man. Honestly, how the hell do you make a man as tall as a building look anything but goofy? I am fine with the notion that Galactus is an alien with powers and a single brain, and his body simply looks like a cloud.

I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of info here, but all that really needs to be said is, THIS MOVIE IS FUN! And why isn't that a good enough reason in itself to go to the movies?

If you don't take this flick too seriously, every age group can love it.


So, to close out the review, some random thoughts! (There are spoilers in this part!)

1) Johnny's "Alicia dying under a rockslide" line may have been the best line of both movies... And Reed's "Quarterback" speech is likewise the best speech

2) Since when is Norrin Radd a Teletubbie?

3) Props to Tim Story for making Galactus' reflection off of Jupiter look like Jack Kirby's Galactus! The fanboy in me was pleased

4) Forget product placement -- how shameful is it of Fox that they HAD to have a Jessica Alba nude scene?

5) I felt like the Fantastic Car was on screen for about as long as the Batwing in the first "Batman"

6) The greatest foe of a man in a metal suit is not Reed Richards, its deep water... Oh, and Dr. Doom looked too much like Skeletor from the "Masters of the Universe" live action movie

7) Alicia can tell if Johnny is silently in the room or not, but she can't hear a Helicopter propeller zooming toward her head... but hell yeah Ben!

8) It bothered me a bit that the transformation back and forth from the Thing's powers was so instantaneous

9) Stan Lee as himself! Just like the old days, writing himself and Kirby into the comic! CLASSIC!

10) I loved seeing Johnny with everyone's powers at once, but now we know we'll never see Super Skrull on the silver screen

11) Isn't it kinda bad that the Earth now has 8 or 9 giant holes leading directly to the planet's core?

12) If the Surfer always knew he could sacrifice himself to kill Galactus, then why didn't he do it initially to save his planet???

13) Oh, and I always separate my car into three pieces for no good reason other than to write a giant "4" in the sky, as I'm rushing off to save Venice...

14) The after-credits scene of Surfer alive in space was fine and all, but I would have killed for a scene of an indignant Doom, marching out of the water onto a shore, and bellowing 'RICHARDS!' .. certainly would have gotten me pumped for the next movie...

15) The third movie should feature Doom as king of Latveria... think about it...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hulk declares War


Well, he technically didn't "declare war" ... he actually said "Puny humans. I've come to Smash."

Anywhere else, this line would have been horrible cheesy silver-age-esque writing. Somehow, when Hulk says it, it just makes you want to cheer. And World War Hulk #1 makes you want to cheer.

I didn't, since I'm reading at my desk in the middle of the Poughkeepsie Journal's newsroom, but I sure wanted to.

I'll give a brief recap of the story before going into a couple of specifics for those of you who want to be spoiled on this issue... The jist of this issue, and it sounds so simple, Hulk comes to Earth, threatens to take action in 24 hours Smashing New York City, if the group that sent him into space doesn't face him. And yes, by the end of this issue, we already get to see the Big Greenie duke it out with Iron Man.

In the FIRST ISSUE we get this!

The best part about this story, too, is that it feels accessible to all of you Non-Geeks out there who are interested. There is plenty of backstory, its true, with all the Planet Hulk stuff -- but it is actually recapped pretty well in a short amount of time in the first few pages. At one point, the Hulk actually addresses all of the world (via Hologram and TV) explaining his situation.

And once the situation is explained, all that's left to know is Hulk likes to destroy things and say a five-letter word beginning in "S."

OK, So now that the basics are covered, lets get to the SPOILERS:

Here's some thoughts, in page order, while reading:

1) "This is the story of the Hulk. A monster who fell from the sky to the savage planet of Sakaar, a whole world of monsters. But while they stabbed him, burned him, and ate his very flesh, he never forgot the real monsters... the puny humans who sent him here."

That is one of the greatest paragraph to start a mini-series in the history of Man.

2) The one thing this issue is missing is the actual detailing of Hulk's fight with Black Bolt. B.B. is a guy who, as we are told, is one of the most powerful men in the galaxy. And we're left to our own imagination of how Hulk won the fight. I would have settled to simply see Hulk grab him by the mouth, and we can assume Black Bolt couldn't speak for the rest of the fight.

3) That said, "I didn't come here for a whisper, I want to hear you scream" is CLASSIC!

4) I love the imagination of Greg Pak in regards to the Hologram address -- Hulk was truly larger than life and imposing...

5) That said, it would be completely against how the marvel-universe public is portrayed if they showed him any sympathy. After Civil War, it should be obvious the general public would have supported sending Hulk away... maybe that will come into play in a few issues?

6) Great portrayal of Dr. Strange, refusing to give their own Hulk problems to some other planet...

7) I cannot believe we actually got a Marvel comic that actually gives you what you want to see -- a Hulk/Iron Man fight -- in the first issue!

8) The moment when Hulk screams out "Caiera!" while getting blown up is what makes this story more than simply "Hulk Smash" ... for the first time, he's truly fighting with a purpose...

9) How many times is New York City going to get destroyed in a short amount of time???

10) One last question... if Hulk is so angry, then why is he leaving people alive? Why didn't he kill Black Bolt and why do I have a feeling he is going to leave his fight with Iron Man and the two will fight again? That just doesn't make much sense to me...

Anyway, I could not be happier with this issue. If you've any thoughts, post them!

This week's comic expectations

So, there's a bit much going on this week. And, for once in the last few months, it's Marvel at the center of it all. Betcha DC is just GREEN with envy! (get it?) You may say that Marvel is set to SMASH the competition. In fact, after this week, Marvel will be laughing "Ho! Ho! Ho!" all the way to the bank! No, wait, that last one was the Jolly Green Giant... I get them mixed up...

Anyway, since there's so much going on, we're gonna try a new format on this feature: Instead of a whole lot of in depth stuff on a few issues, we're gonna have just one big sentence summing up why to be excited about many issues...

Countdown #46: A new recurring character is introduced, and the Monitors are getting set to take action against Jason Todd and Donna Troy, among others...

Green Arrow #75: Ollie supposedly pops the question to Dinah in this series' finale... and since the two will be sharing an ongoing title soon, we can guess her answer...

Justice #12: The final issue of the 2-year-long series means we finally get to see if the Heroes can manage to thwart the Villains' insidious plans... whatever they are, since 11 issues in and it's still unknown...

Avengers Classic #1: Just like the "Marvel Adventures" series and "X-Men: First Class," The Avengers get the old-school lighthearted treatment -- which means we get to see Cap!

Fallen Son: Spider-Man: Speaking of Cap, the fourth issue of his friends grieving hits the shelves -- this time it's Peter Parker feeling depressed. After last issue's Hawkeye-centric story, this mini is looking better, as irrelevant as it may be now that we know nobody is going to be the "new" Cap...

Mystic Arcana: Magik: Illyana Rasputin fans, rejoice! A New lost story featuring Colossus' "little snowflake," not counting what they are doing in New X-Men...

New X-Men #39: For as horrible as the art for this arc has been, with the kids lost and defeated in Limbo and Magik hitting the scene, returning from the "dead," this is one story to read.

Sub-Mariner #1: The first issue of a new mini-series featuring Prince Namor, personally my favorite Fantastic Four spin-off character. (Yes, I know he pre-dates the FF, but his popularity comes from them). With his peoples' involvement in Civil War still unexplained, this may be an interesting read.

WORLD WAR HULK #1: Umm, do I really have to say anything other than HULK SMASH?

Bet you thought that was the last one, right? Well wrong! This week we also get the "Jack Kirby's Fourth World" Omnibus! Random time for DC to release it, huh? What? You think they intentionally did this to capitalize on the New Gods involvement in Countdown? You're Crazy! DC would never intentionally try to milk a story like Countdown by re-releasing Fourth World! Crazy! In all seriousness, though, I actually haven't read the Fourth World stuff yet, I may buy...

I think the new format works well! Am I right? should I do it like this more often?

Wednesday's comic releases

HULK SMASH PUNY BANK ACCOUNT! Yes, World War Hulk officially kicks off this week, beginning an endless string of tie-ins, cross-overs and spin-offs that will doubtlessly break my budget, as well as many of yours' I'm sure. The Big Greenie headlines a fantastic week of action...

DC:
Batman Confidential #6
Batman Strikes #34
Cartoon Network Action Pack #14
Countdown #46
Dmz #20
Fables #62
Gen 13 #9
Green Arrow #75
Green Lantern Corps #13
Grifter Midnighter #4
Hawkgirl #65
JLA Classified #39
Justice #12
Loveless #18
Stormwatch Phd #8
Superman Batman #36
Tenjho Tenge Vol 14
Trials Of Shazam #7

Marvel:
Amazing Spider-Girl #9
Avengers Classic #1
Blade #10
Cable Deadpool #41
Exiles #95
Fallen Son Death Of Captain America Spider-Man
Franklin Richards World Be Warned #1
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #21
Kabuki Reflections #8
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #25
Marvel Illustrated Treasure Island #1
Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #25
Mystic Arcana Magik
New Avengers #31
New X-Men #39
Nova #3
Punisher War Journal #8
Red Prophet Tales Of Alvin Maker #8
Sub-Mariner #1
World War Hulk #1

Others:
Archie & Friends #110
Archie Digest #235
Betty & Veronica Double Digest #152
Black Diamond #1
Black Ghost Apple Factory
Blade Of The Immortal #126
Bprd Garden Of Souls #4
Conan & The Midnight God #4
Drain #4
Elephantmen Pilot
Hack Slash Series Merhoff #2
Hero By Night #4
Hickee Vol 3 #3
India Authentic Kaali #2
Into The Dust #1
Star Wars Legacy #13
Star Wars Rebellion #7
Tales From The Crypt #1
Thunderhead Underground Falls Gn
Toyfare Transformer Movie Toys #120
Transformers Movie Adaptation #2
True Story Swear To God Image Ed #6
Vogelein Old Ghosts Gn
Wonderland #4

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Life and Death

Some games stick with you... even after the computer they worked on breaks and the disk gets lost. "Life and Death 2: The Brain" is one of those games for me.

Even as a youngster, I loved this Brain-Surgery simulation. It was so realistic -- or at least it felt realistic at the time. There was no real beginning or end to the game, patients simply randomly come in with illnesses, and using the tools of an actual doctor (MRI, Cat Scan, X-Ray) you diagnose and fix them.

You even perform surgery in a realistic way — you need to monitor vitals, give proper treatments when the patient is having complications, and most importantly have a knowledge of the surgery and a steady hand to operate. To this day I am proud to say I operated successfully on three different patients with Subdural Hematomas.

Well, as I said, I have no way to play the game anymore, and every site that has claimed I could download the game has been a lying. I've been looking ever since for a good Doctor sim. Nintendo's recent 'Trauma Center" games pale in comparison, with their fast-paced laser-shooting surgery.

Frankly, after "Trauma Center," I had lost hope. That was, until tonight, when I read about "Life Signs: Surgical Unit." Apparently, the Nintendo DS title, which is going to be released on June 26, is similar to "Trauma Center" in the RPG aspect, but differs in that this game is very medical heavy. Like "Life and Death," you apparently have to diagnose and then perform the actual operations. How realistic this will be is still up in the air, as there has really been no good media around yet on the U.S. version... but there are videos of the Japanese version out there -- like this one!



I've made no secret about the fact that I am no fan of handheld systems... but if this game is as good as I think it will be, between this and "Drawn to Life," I may be buying my first handheld since the Atari Lynx very very soon!

This week's video game releases

You Wii geeks get to get a bit geekier this week with "Big Brain Academy," while you comic book geeks get "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"... I'd call this week a success.

June 11:
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree (Wii)
UFO: Afterlight (PC)
TrackMania United (PC)

June 12:
Raw Danger (PS2)
The Sims 2: Pets (Wii)
Tenchu Z (Xbox 360)
Time Ace (Nintendo DS)
7 Wonders 2 (PC)
PQ2:Practical Intelligence Quotient (PSP)
Zendoku (PSP)
Puzzle Scape (PSP)
Crash Bandicoot Action Pack (PS2)
Call of Juarez (PC)
Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia (Xbox 360, PC)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas (PSP)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 (PS2)
Scarface: The World is Yours (Wii)

June 13:
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Wii, DS, PS3, PS2, Xbox 360)
Prince of Persia Classsic (Xbox 360)
Zendoku (DS)
Go! Puzzle (PS3)
Super Trucks Racing 2 (PS2)
Model Train 3D (PC)
Crazy Machine 1.5 (PC)
Chicken Shoot (DS)

Friday, June 8, 2007

In Saturday's Gaming page

Yes, the Gaming page makes a triumphant return to its normal Saturday spot, and this around the page is devoted (mostly) to POKER.

Yes, I know, normally this blog and the page are normally more in agreement, with Video Games normally taking centerstage on the page. But still, this week we have bios for 13 of the top poker players competing at the World Series of Poker.

And, we learned that apparently, Bluff Magazine's 10th ranked player in the world, Kathy Liebert, is actually a graduate of Marist College right here in Po-Town!

I've sent a message to Kathy, but have yet to hear back from her, so her story will have to wait until another Gaming page. In the meantime, here's a YouTube video I found of her, competing at FoxWoods:



Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Groovin' to Kid Icarus

For the last hour or so of work I've had the opening theme to Kid Icarus in my head... so I went to YouTube to hear it. What? Don't all normal guys stop their busy day just to listen to 20 year old video game music?

While there I found this video of all FIVE ENDINGS to Kid Icarus. I had no idea of the last two before today. Apparently, the ladies just got to have them some Pit!

Buy Pile Report

So, last night I told you in the Weekly Expectations that I was seriously considering dropping Uncanny X-Men from my buy pile for the first time in three years. I decided later on that I would indeed be passing this first issue of a five-part arc.

I realized less than 24 hours after deciding to drop Uncanny that I had made a mistake that had nothing to do with Uncanny. Instead I realized that, in my heart, I belonged in the X-Men Universe. As soon as I realized that, I contacted Uncanny to let them know.

Any Billy Donovan fans out there?

Anyway, very light buy pile for me this week, especially since I was mistaken in regards to Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13. Apparently the issue was pushed back by two weeks, and will now be released on June 20th... bummer.

I ended up buying Uncanny X-Men #487, and I'm glad I did. While this one was far from being a "must buy" for casual fans, there was enough in this first issue of a five-part arc to get me interested, even though the cast of characters on the team nowadays (Warpath, Prof. X, Nightcrawler, Storm) bore me.

I was mostly interested because some classic Morlocks have returned, with Masque leading, and they claim to know of a prophecy that will return mutations... and who can turn down a good prophecy? I'm also pumped because three characters that were prominent in the old Louise Simonson X-Factor series show up, Caliban, Leech and Skids. Yes, Skids! Sorry, Rusty Collins is still dead.

The only other thing I picked up this week was Countdown #47. Unfortunately, it was about the most irrelevant issue yet. More mystery with Jimmy having a somewhat super-human dream, more Monitors babbling and arguing, and more of Trickster and Pied Piper getting close... kinda boring stuff.

It would have been better had we all not already known that Mary Marvel would be getting her powers back in this issue, given to her by Black Adam. But we knew that was coming for 2 months, so it was a ho-hum moment.

One curious aspect of it, though. Adam uses the word "Shazam" as a way of giving her powers... wasn't that word changed for good? Can it be that Billy Batson gave Adam back his word? No, I didn't think so. Then is it possible this is just someone else posing as Black Adam? That sounds about right... maybe even Eclipso, seeing as Mary was paired with Eclipso in Countdown Promos...

Well, a boring week for me. If anyone read anything great that would brighten the week for everyone else, please feel free to share your thoughts with the class.