Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

I know I say this a lot, but this is a HUGE week for comic book releases.

The good news for me is, most of them are self-explanatory for why you want to buy and read them.

Obviously, first on this list is DC Universe #0. This book not only serves as a bridge between "Countdown to Final Crisis" and "Final Crisis," but it also will tease to everything DC is doing in the next year. And did I mention is costs 50 CENTS? No Brainer!

Other good choices from DC this week include Action Comics #864 (a one-shot story featuring Toyman), Green Lantern #30 (continuing the "Secret Origin" story for Hal Jordan) and Teen Titans #58 (Miss Martian is continuing to go nuts, while the "Terror Titans" story also progresses).

Self-explanatory, right? Good, let's move on to Marvel:

First off, Avengers: The Initiative #12 is not a "Secret Invasion" tie-in, but it should be strong. The first year of The Initiative concludes with Iron Man paying a visit and plenty of heroes in-line to get their hero's license.

New Avengers #40, however, is not only an "SI" tie-in, but promises to reveal exactly how the Skrull invasion was first concocted and how they began it. Sounds pretty interesting, even to a Marvel-event skeptic like myself.

Other strong Marvel choices include X-Men: Legacy #210 (Xavier and Magneto are back together, and seem determined to re-evaluate their respective "dreams"), Ultimate X-Men #93 (Robert Kirkman's final issue on the book brings the end of his "Apocalypse" arc), and The Immortal Iron Fist #14 (with the current magnificent "The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven" arc concluding).

In the words of Champ Kind, WHAMMY!

Wednesday's comic release list

It's late, and I know I am late with my impressions on "Mario Kart Wii" that I promised you on Sunday (most of the reason I haven't gotten those up yet is because I've been playing so much, which should give you an idea of what I think of the game), but I wanted to get the link up to this week's comic book releases.

So HERE IT IS!

I will tell you all about "Mario Kart" (and how I convinced Wal-Mart's employees to get me the game late Saturday night) on Wednesday. I promise. Really.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

This week's video game releases

So, we've already received "Mario Kart Wii," my new favorite game (and I'll expand on that on Monday). Now we're getting ready for the Monday night at midnight release of "Grand Theft Auto IV."

Has there ever been a bigger three-day stretch in gaming history? ... You know, other than last year's PS3/Wii console releases on Nov. 17/19...

HERE'S the rest of the releases for the week.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

MARIO KART TONIGHT!

Is everyone in as good a pre-Mario Kart mood as I am today? I don't think I've ever come into the office on a Saturday in such a good mood.

In fact, I feel like singing about it... here's a couple of ditties I have in my head:

"Tonight, Tonight," from West Side Story:
Tonight, Tonight
We're playing Kart tonight
Tonight we will not sleep , not at all
Tonight, Tonight
We'll throw Red Shells tonight
Tonight we'll finish before you all!

"Tearing up my Kart," by NSYNC
You're tearing up my Kart
with Shells of Blue
I led right from the start
now I trail you
And though I should still beat you
I feel the pain
With your Shells of Blue

I know, I'm a geek. And I get bored while driving to work. Happy Karting at Midnight!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Saturday's Gaming in the Journal

BIG BIG BIG Gaming page this week (PAGE 4C) in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal.

We have a Great in-depth look at "Cal Ripken's Real Baseball," a new MMO that allows you to become a singular baseball player and improve over time. Is it good? Does it suck? Journal intern Steve Schult will tell you.

We also have a preview of "Deca Sports" for Wii, as Hudson Entertainment provided me with an early build of the game to explore. This is one game you casual gamers want to know about.

We also have a fantasy baseball column and news on Brett Favre (see post below).

BIG BIG BIG Gaming page! Pickup Saturday's Journal and turn to page 4C.

VIDEO: Madden NFL through the years

Yes, EA Sports has announced Brett Favre as their cover boy for "Madden NFL 09." They've also provided the Poughkeepsie Journal with a GREAT video showing off clips from every "Madden" game through the last 20 years. Of course, the video stars the cover boys himself. ENJOY!

video

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mario: Plummer in the City


I love the Associated Press for getting a photographer down to NYC today to watch Super Mario give away free cab rides.

Of course, Nintendo was promoting "Mario Kart Wii" which comes out in roughly 54 hours, five minutes and 24 seconds... not that I'm counting.

Personally, at this point I would buy cab rides for the Nintendo guys if it put this game in my hands faster.

Buy Pile Report

It's .... it's over. It's over. IT'S OVER!

"Countdown," and all its siblings, is OVER!!!

And boy, did this final week of "Countdown" suck.

I wouldn't say Death of the New Gods #8 ruins a formerly very good mini-series, but the fact is that, in order to make last week's "Countdown to Final Crisis" synch up with this series, there was no true finale to this series. Yes, they temporarily bring Orion back from the dead (which is why he was seen last week), and yes, the son fights his father, Darkseid. But then the two transport away from the fray before a victor is decided. It had a very anti-climatic feeling.

And the explanation in this issue did NOT make up for the horrible scheduling error of last week.

And then, the mothership. How did Countdown to Final Crisis #1 wrap up the series, you ask? Well, after a year's worth of failed storylines and horrible writing -- random characterizations, atrocious art and a universe-murdering disease that just sort of went away -- two things resulted: 1) For no good reason, Mary Marvel is now evil; 2) Ray Palmer, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner and Forager are now a four-person team that polices Monitors.

Yes, I'm going to repeat that, because it bears repeating. This final issue ends with Ray Palmer, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner and Forager forming a four-person team that polices Monitors. WHAT THE HELL, GUYS? Monitors are supposed to be akin to the God of each universe. All-knowing, all-seeing, heavy-duty fighters. Now, it's bad enough that "Countdown" has turned these monitors into a squabbling group of impotent whiners, but now we're supposed to believe that these four heroes would really be this fearsome threat to the Monitors?!? That's not only ridiculous, it further ruins a formerly great historical footnote in the DC Universe, dating back 23 years.

UGH!

At least "Countdown" is now OVER!

And, at least Justice League of America #20 was decent -- the first decent issue written by Dwayne McDuffie, in my opinion. Sure, it's basically just a two-character one-shot featuring Flash and Wonder Woman, but the two work well together here, and Flash's narration wasn't even too cheesy.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, Ultimate Fantastic Four #53 was the best issue of the week. I know, I know, I've performed this song and dance before. Hopefully I got through to all of you doubters in time for you to read this storyline, because it ended as strongly as it began, with Reed Richards solving everyone's problems (just like we all knew he would) in a way that I would have never guessed.

This series really has the opportunity to get back on the right track thanks to this arc (and thanks to the fact that the proper FF series has stunk badly lately). Now, what I am really hoping for is a little more character interaction and interpersonal development in the next issue or two, so Mike Carey can pave the way to the next author's turn on the book.

Lastly, X-Force #3. Apparently, Kyle & Yost decided to go the Geoff Johns/"Sinestro Corps. War" route and pile in as many villains into one story as they can. Only, they're really not doing it nearly as well. If you can think of a 1980's mutant hater, they are now part of the purifiers -- and that includes the dead ones! Honestly, Bastion and the Purifiers are digging up old friends and recruiting them. The idea is just too ludicrous to work right now, especially in such a dark realism book. Oh well, we can always hope for things to get better right?

After all, we all thought "Countdown" could never get better... but it did. Since it is now OVER!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

Man oh man oh man, where to begin?

I think I have to start with DC, because I have an ax to grind.

The final two "Countdown" related books (ever!!!) are coming out this week: Countdown to Final Crisis #1 and Death of the New Gods #1. And after last week's debacle in "Countdown" (see last week's buy pile report for the details), I don't think there is a way in hell for DC to redeem themselves for it in these two issues.

I read "Countdown" editor Mike Carlin this week say that last week's Countdown to Final Crisis #2 occurred after the final issue of the "Death of the New Gods" mini-series. That makes me think that DC is going to ruin a fantastic mini-series with a horrific final issue that (apparently) will see Orion come back from the dead and Darkseid survive (only to die in last week's "Countdown," which we already saw).

Frankly, trying to figure out how any of that could make sense hurts my noggin. And the fact is that it is impossible for DC to make it makes sense, because the damage is done. By releasing "Death of the New Gods #8" this week instead of last week, DC completely ruined what shred of storytelling credibility it had left. Oh, and did I mention that Forager is still alive and kicking it in "Countdown to Final Crisis #1" this week? Which (apparently) occurs after the "Death" mini? Which means that FORAGER, of all people, is the final New God left living?

The only upside here is that we'll be able to officially run up the complete laundry list of problems with "Countdown" after this week.

Also of major note from DC this week is Justice League of America #20 (Flash's official league status is resolved in an issue drawn by Ethan Van Sciver) and Batman #575 (Looks like the perfect jumping on point for those looking to read the "Batman R.I.P" story beginning in issue #576).

Now then, from Marvel, the biggest issue of the week is Mighty Avengers #12 -- the first of the main tie-in books to "Secret Invasion." This issue will finally reveal exactly what Nick Fury has been up to all this time since "Secret War." I've been dying for the old eye patch to return in a big way to the Marvel Universe, so hopefully Fury's story in this invasion will be worth the wait.

An ancillary tie-in to "Secret Invasion" this week is Ms. Marvel #26, which continues the whole "Carol Danvers might be a Skrull" story. What interests me about this issue (and one of the biggest things that interest me about this Invasion as a whole) is the fact that some skrulls have been sent so deep undercover that they don't even realize they aren't who they claim they are -- and in this issue, Danvers is going to have to face that self doubt.

If you've been reading the storyline, Ultimate Fantastic Four #53 is also an A-list title this week. Hopefully you all have been listening to my encouragement to pick this arc with "Ultimate Thanos" up, because it really has been the BEST Fantastic Four story of ANY SORT since Mark Waid was writing the main FF book. I know, some of you cannot stand the Ultimate Universe -- but Ultimate Thanos is a real badass, and has been a great adversary for the all-too intelligent Ultimate Reed Richards. Honestly, this may be the first book I read this week.

Other top titles from Marvel this week are Uncanny X-Men #497 (a campy 1960's timeshift in San Francisco should make for a fun little story), and X-Force #3 (who hasn't been loving this dark book so far?).

Oh, and don't forget to pick up your FREE Avengers/Invaders sketchbook. It's FREE.

Wednesday's comic release list

HERE is your weekly list of releases...

And what a big week it is! Our first "Secret Invasion" tie-in and our LAST LAST LAST "Countdown" book! No More "Countdown"!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This week's video game releases

Check out the list of releases at THIS LINK.

Unfortunately, I kind of feel like a GREAT-looking new DS title. "The World Ends with You," is going to really take a backseat to the impending arrival of not only "Mario Kart Wii" but also "Grand Theft Auto IV."

Still, if you need a new portable game to play, or if you just need something to do before Sunday's "Kart" release, pick this one up.

Gaming for Hope

Hopefully all you enjoyed Gaming for Hope yesterday at Marist. I heard there was a great turnout — but, unfortunately due to schedule issues I was not able to make it over there (if you can tell from my previous post too, I'm one big bummer this weekend).

What I did get to see, though, were some great photos taken by our own Journal photographer Kathy McLaughlin. HERE IS A LINK to the photo gallery she put together. Although, that guy we had taking photos last year was pretty good too (me).

In next week's Gaming page, I'll hopefully have some news on how the event finished out, especially in terms of how much scratch was raised for the very worthy charity, Child's Play.

Come to think of it, next week's page is going to be BURSTING with stories (which is good, since I need to make up for the fact that Gaming was bumped at the last minute this week, right?)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New York Comic Con News Updates

So, due to staffing the scheduling reasons, I was not able to make the two hour trip down to the city for Comic Con. (Bummer, right?)

Anyway, since I am not there to bring you as close to the action as possible, I'm going to do the next best thing: As I read all the reports online from each panel, I'm going to get on here and point out what I think are the most interesting tidbits said.

This is going to be a running updated post, so check back here often.

1) Mondo Marvel Panel: THIS LINK. Not too much here other than Joey Q's same old song and dance. But, they did say that Mark Waid is joining the rotating cast of "Amazing Spider-man" writers. And now I wonder, how many other A-List writers are going to jump on board now to tell a Spider-man tale or two, now that there is so little long-term commitment involved?

More from Waid on the move is available HERE.

2) "Secret Invasion: Thor" was announced HERE. I've got to say, of all the "Secret Invasion" tie-ins, this one does look like one of the more appealing, if only because we're only two events removed from the last time Thor was impersonated ("Clor"), and I'm sure the Odinson won't be too thrilled about more impersonators coming a callin'.

More on "Secret Invasion"... they're starting to suck me in again... go HERE for more on the event, including news that I didn't know yet, there is going to be a "Secret Invasion: Inhumans" mini. The mini will supposedly account for Black Bolt's status, one of the bigger questions on my mind. There goes my wallet again...

By the way, fellow Journal Blogger Michael Woyton just pointed out something to me... The Pope just happens to be in town when Comic Con is... Coincidence?!?

3) DC Nation Panel: THIS LINK. The biggest news out of this one (or at least, what I think will turn into the biggest news, once the book is released since I'm optimistic) is an ongoing Power Girl series. She really could be a top-flight female character, in a DC Universe with too few, especially given the amount of depth and maturity Geoff Johns has given her of late. Unfortunately Johns won't be writing the series, but I am still optimistic.

4) Bryan Hitch Panel: THIS LINK. For the life of me, I don't know what the point of this was. I really wish I could have been in attendance to just ask Bryan "All you've done is tell us what a bad mood most of your projects have put you in, and how you have no idea what you're doing after "Fantastic Four." Soooo... what was the point, Hitchy?"

5) Make Mine Marvel Panel: THIS LINK. Dwayne Swierczynski talks a little about his upcoming plans in "Cable," and mentions the kid will grow up a bit, making specific mention of a "temperamental four year old." And while this is really the only way the series can go, I want to know just how old is Cable going to become? I mean, when he first hit the scene from the future, he was already (being very generous) in his late 40's with all that white hair and the scars. If this kid is going to grow up, are we eventually going to have Cable in his 60's still kicking rear?

6) DC Final Crisis Panel: THIS LINK. No revelations here on "Final Crisis," sadly. Just the same old listing of what's coming up, and the same old "It's only 50 cents!" when talking "DC Universe #0" ...

But one interesting tid-bit you can read more about HERE is that Gail Simone will be writing a new "Secret Six" comic. Whatever the woman touches turns to gold, so even if you don't know much about the group yet, you still may want to keep an eye out for it.

Meanwhile, at THIS LINK Dan Didio explains exactly what he means by keeping the "Final Crisis" tie-ins to a minimum. While only the few minis and one-shots will carry the "Final Crisis" banner, there will be other books taking place in the "Final Crisis" time frame without the banner. Further, there will be a "Final Crisis: Sightings" banner to show how the less important characters are functioning during the "Final Crisis" time frame. (I did my best to explain that, you can go to the link yourself if you need clarifying). Personally, I can see what DC is trying to accomplish by doing this, but I'll hold off on judging whether this idea will meet their goals of helping us consumers out.

7) Stan on Stan Panel: THIS LINK. It's official. Virgin has hired Stan Lee to create a superhero comic universe for them. Stan the Man will created 10 superheroes, complete with powers and backstories, to inhabit this budding Virgin Universe.

Not to sound sac religious or anything... but I don't know that Stan has 10 certifiable superhero hits to his credit, let alone the ability to create 10 brand new ones in the twilight of his career. OK, I love the guy, but past the twilight of his career. I mean, again, I give him plenty of credit for his heroes, especially Hulk and Spidey, but I also give Jack Kirby a heck of a lot of credit for some of Stan's creations and even more credit to other writers for filling out the personalities and real-world themes of the X-Men.

I think, if Virgin hired a guy like Geoff Johns or (even though I'm no fan of his) a Brian Bendis, they could accomplish what they are looking for. Stan isn't quite going to cut it anymore. Which is a true shame.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Buy Pile Report

You know, say what you will about Marvel in the post "One More Day" age -- and I've said plenty.

But nothing "The House of Ideas" has produced to my memory has been as worthless as Countdown to Final Crisis #2.

This issue was so bad that it's the reason I am posting this report so late at night. It's true. Countdown was the first comic I read tonight, and after completing it I was so confused and annoyed that I had take time and jump online to find OTHER reviews just because I thought there must have been something I missed that makes it all make sense. But it doesn't. It really really doesn't.

For starters, I was one of those in need of an explanation for why Darkseid was suddenly able to grow and fight enormous Jimmy Olsen. Well, we get an explanation on page 3: "He's Freaking Darkseid!" Donna Troy said.

I don't know what's worse about that -- that we're supposed to just buy that crap or that a writer, and the editor that gave it the OK, thought Donna Troy would spout off that dribble in such a way.

But it got worse. After finding the device in Jimmy's head that was storing all those souls, he removes it, grows to his normal size, and then crushes it in his hand.

Yes, a normal human was able to crush a cosmic device that collects souls. And what I want to know is, if killing Jimmy would give all those souls to Darkseid, then why would crushing the device simply make the souls dissipate? Shouldn't it have the same effect as killing Jimmy? And wouldn't smart guy Ray Palmer not want to do something so reckless?

But it got worse. Orion showed up to stop Darkseid. Yeah, Orion. You know, even though he died a few months ago in a book titled "Death of the New Gods." Maybe DC has heard of that mini-series? I mean, it was a pretty well written series, so I would think DC would have read it. You know, especially since THEY PRINTED IT!

And Countdown offers no explanation for how he is here, not even a contrived answer to any of us who read Orion's gallant demise MONTHS ago. Nope, it is completely ignored. Even by Superman, who Watched Orion Die in that series.

Speaking of Superman, while Orion and Darkseid battle, further tearing apart Metropolis, Superman stops his super-powered chums from helping Orion win faster, thus sparing the destruction. Why, you ask? "This is between a father and his son, Kyle. This is between Gods."

Oh, that explains it. Thanks, Supes!

But it got worse. Orion (you know, the guy who died) tears out Darkseid's heart, causing him to burst into flames and die. Which wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that Grant Morrison has not shut up talking on and on and on about how Darkseid is the big villain in his upcoming epic "Final Crisis." I mean, Damn guys, you have ads for "Final Crisis" in this very issue -- ads that include Darkseid! Also, in that mini-series you guys haven't read (it was called "Death of the New Gods" if you forgot), Darkseid is the narrator! He survives, we know this! So why is his "death" the big shocking moment in the penultimate issue of your huge year-long series?!?

The only solace here is that Countdown is one issue away from being a bad memory.

Ugh, but I did read other things this week, and unfortunately it wasn't that spectacular. Especially since I started off with such a bad appetizer.

X-Men: Divided We Stand #1 is NOT the must read I predicted it to be. Though it's not a bad read, featuring five standalone stories showing what some heroes have been up to during their time separated from Xavier's Institute, I can sum up each in one sentence per.

Ready? Here we go: 1) Cannonball feels he doesn't belong at home anymore. 2) Nehzno doesn't feel he belongs anywhere (though this was the best of the stories. 3) Anole doesn't fit in at home anymore. 4) Julian feels abandoned by the X-Men and has no home. 5) Nightcrawler is religious.

I just saved you four bucks. I'll expect a check in the mail.

Sadly, Captain America #37 was also not quite up to the standard Ed Brubaker has set for himself either. After the big shocker at the end of last issue, with Sharon finding "Steve Rogers' " body, there was absolutely no plot development in this story. Sure, we saw a couple of interesting scenes -- one featuring Hawkeye confronting Captain Bucky and another showing Bucky's dreams -- but nothing happens until the last page, and I don't even know what exactly happened there.

Salvation Run #6 was much of the same. I've loved this series, but nothing happens here to advance the plot until the Parademons arrive toward the end.

Yes, they arrive, so next issue's finale should be GREAT, but for now, the long-awaited showdown between Lex Luthor and the Joker was nothing more than space filler. I would have liked some resolution there. It's almost as if DC decided both had to look like 'the man,' but neither was allowed to score even a marginal victory, just so people could go on arguing who would win in a fight.

UGH, looking back on it, this week really stunk. I'm going to go watch some Justice League Unlimited cartoons. Those may pander to children, but at least they don't insult my intelligence like SOME DC offerings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This week's comic expectations

OK, it's been a LONG day and I'm a little cranky, but this week of comics is too damn big for me not to at least get a lightning round of previews up.

Brave and the Bold #12: The conclusion of Mark Waid's first major story will see all those heroes team up to take on the long-awaited MEGISTUS. Bam.

Captain America #37: Captain Bucky just found what appears to be Steve Rogers' body in Red Skull's possession. Do I really need to say more?

Captain Marvel #5: The final issue of the story promises to give us all those answers we've been waiting for since Mar-Vell's unexpected (and, frankly, unnecessary) re-appearance at the end of "Civil War."

Salvation Run #6: A GREAT mini's penultimate issue. Vandal Savage is off procreating, Joke and Lex are at each other's throats (see cover image) and the para demons are about to invade. This is a must-read "Final Crisis" lead-in, if there is such a thing.

Superman #675: Kurt Busiek's last issue on the book, you know, before taking back Superman in the "Trinity" series, and he's going out with an over-sized bang, concluding Supes' battle with Paragon.

X-Men: Divided We Stand Book 1: Helping to reset the X-Men's path in the Marvel Universe, this first of two books will tell the story of what many favorite characters have been up to since Cyke disbanded the team — heroes like Cannonball, Husk, Storm, Nightcrawler and others. Must read for Mutant fans.

Wednesday's comic release list

Here you go, you mongrels. I know you've been waiting for THIS LINK to the new comics books out this week, now get off my back.

Sorry, Someone just called me a crogedy old man and I figured I'd fit the profile.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This week's video game releases

Click on THIS LINK for a throughly unimpressive list of games out this week.

Personally, I'll be sticking to trying out the demo of "Deca Sports" I was sent on Friday... MUCH more on that game to come.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Drink with Roberty Downey, Jr. (part 2)


Just so all you other geeks out there know, yesterday I managed to pickup my Ironman Head Slurpee cup from 7-11.

And let me tell you, if God were to be turned into a frozen beverage, it would taste like the Ironman themed Mountain Dew Amp Slurpee 7-11 has right now.

After you buy the cup for $3 bucks, each refill at 7-11 costs $1.20. Not exactly a money saver or anything worth lugging around Tony Stark's head everytime you want a slurpee, but you still can't go wrong with this Guarana-packed flavor.

Saturday's Gaming in the Journal

For the first time in the nearly two-year history of the Poughkeepsie Journal's Gaming page (page 5C on Saturday!!!), this week a used a "Strip" layout. In Newspaper talk, that just means I put a story across the top of the page above the centerpiece.

I know 99.9% of you could give a damn about the phrases used when laying out a page, but I just felt the need to point out this historic event.

And what was that strip story, you ask? Why, news that a week from Saturday, Marist will be holding their annual "Gaming for Hope" event. If you have attended a "Gaming for Hope" before, you know the layout of the event: 12 hours of console, PC, and tabletop gaming, including tournaments for prizes, all 100% free.

But I strongly encourage any of you attending to make a donation to the Charity "Gaming for Hope" benefits: "Child's Play," a charity that donates games and toys to terminally ill children stuck in hospitals. Last year Marist raised over $1,400 bucks.

Also in Gaming on Saturday, we have a fantasy baseball column and a Gaming news update.

It's a full page, so I hope you pick up the Journal, flip to the Sports section and read page 5C.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Buy Pile Report

It was a very average week, sadly. And I had such high hopes.

First off, DC. I know you're hurting in the sales category. I know you needed another big seller, especially in the month that "Secret Invasion" officially began. BUT that's no reason to give us all a fairly average Titans reunion book, after we've been anticipating it for so long.

Yes, Titans #1 is nothing to write home about. It was alright, but definitely by the book -- each main hero is shown enjoying everyday life, and each main hero is shown having that everyday life interrupted by a vicious and calculated attack on their lives. And, if you were holding out hope that there would at least be some suspense to figuring out who is behind the attacks, you're lost there too. Raven has already told us all that Trigon is the reason for their troubles (VERY Original, guys!).

I'm hoping Judd Winick's characterizations can somehow navigate this book into the reunion title we've been waiting for, but after the lack luster first issue, I'm not holding my breath.

While we're on the topic of fairly average, though, I'm sorry to say that Justice Society #14 and Booster Gold #8 were both just that (two of my favorite books, no less!).

JSA features the showdown we've been waiting for -- Gog vs. the WHOLE JSA -- but Gog's beefed up power level completely kills all the momentum the story had right up until the fight. Gog takes down nearly the entire JSA, including the Earth 22 Superman that was shown to be far stronger than New Earth's in the last issue, with only a couple of combatants left ready for next issue's comeback. (Alan Scott's costume does bring a smile to my face at the end of this issue, though).

And, as I said, it's too bad the fight was so poorly orchestrated, because the book really cooked for the first 12 pages or so, featuring the team all together for really the first time, and showing just how difficult this large ensemble is for them to manage. Oh well, I have faith Geoff Johns will turn it around next issue.

In Booster Gold, however, I don't even think it would be fair to call this one average. It was a fine issue and all, with Blue, Gold, and the "Freedom Fighters" attacking Maxwell Lord's Castle... but the story runs in one big circle. At the end of issue #7, Booster and Beetle were down and out and met up with Hawkman & Green Arrow's team. At the end of this one, Booster and Beetle are down and out and plan to meet up with.... some other team... and frankly, it's that other team that has me counting the days until issue #9. But for now, this issue was utterly pointless.

Before we get off DC, though... Countdown to Final Crisis #3 was just one great big pile of pig crap. That's all I have to say about that. Oh, and the fact that next issue Darkseid will be squaring off against Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Geh.

I warned you all Marvel had a light week, and Mark Millar's horrible script in Fantastic Four #556 made the week even tougher to get through. Let me get this straight, there, Marky... Not only was a Robot created that perceives all of humanity as a threat for violence (a blatant DC Manhunters ripoff), but this singular robot is also powerful enough to take down roughly ALL of the Marvel Universe's heroes? Spider-man, Storm, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Johnny, Sue, and Thing, just to name a few of the dozens shown getting their asses kicked?

A Robot? Really? That's you're big bad grand idea for this book that got you all excited? A Robot that's just stronger than any other Robot known to man? Why is there even a need for Superheroes if Robots can be made that strong? Why don't we just have a Robot stationed in each of the 50 states instead of Superhero teams?

Oh, but don't worry, Reed Richards was shown flying in on his motorcyle at the end of this book, so of course he's going to save the day.

Just like so many of Millar's other works, he pulled me in with a great first issue, his second issue was alright, and by the third issue you're mad at yourself for ever getting pulled in by one of his grand ideas.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This week's comic expectations

There's a couple of exciting titles coming out this week, and I'm sure it will be enjoyable in the long run... but I can't help but feel that this week needs to be judged as much by what's not coming out as what is coming out.

If you've been counting down the days to April 9, hoping to finally get a conclusion to Joss Whedon's landmark run on Astonishing X-Men, then you, my friend, are out of luck. Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men #1 was pushed back yet again — this time to MAY 21!

I guess it's only fitting that this book be late, after all, EVERY BOOK has been late since issue #8. When this 25th and final issue comes out in May, it will have been exactly FOUR YEARS since the book debuted! I bought Astonishing X-Men #1 during my last week of college, for God's sakes!

And compounding the problems here is, the last issue of Uncanny X-Men spoiled the ending to Whedon's story. I know many of you have been dodging that info, as I have, and now we have to wait another month and a half before we can stop hiding from it! UGH!

Anyway, there are some top titles coming out this week. Not the least of which is Justice Society #14, which is obviously still working its way through the Kingdom Come/Heartbreak Killer storyline. Expect it to escalate in a hurry in this issue.

DC's biggest release of the week, though, is the debut of Judd Winick's Titans #1. And, again, do I even need to tell you why to be excited about this one? This is the reunion book 'The New Teen Titans' fans have been going to bed every night praying for. And, it's likely to be a strong enough book to warrant all though roster changes DC has made lately.

Think about it, "The Outsiders" book was completely changed, giving us Nightwing and 'Red Arrow,' Wally West stayed out of the official Justice League to come to this book, and Cyborg and Beast Boy both moseyed their way out of the current Teen Titans into limbo. There are likely big plans for this book.

Personally, I am excited for Booster Gold #8, as you all probably know by now what a huge fan of the book I am. After last issue's revelation that Hawkman and Green Arrow are leading a Maxwell Lord resistance, we should be in for more surprises in this post-OMAC world. Plus, this is all leading to Booster and Beetle re-uniting with a bunch of old JLI friends soon.

Marvel is not nearly as exciting this week as they were last week, with ZERO "Secret Invasion" books on the shelves (which I think is a HORRIBLE plan on their part).

But, Fantastic Four #556 should be strong again, as Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch hit issue #3 of their run. When last we saw Marvel's 'First Family,' Reed's ex-girlfriend's utopia in space was about to get into deep dog do-do, with their giant police robot about to go nuts.

Apparently, this robot's is programmed to neutralize any possible crime, and the robot has decided the best way to do that is by killing all humans. Cough Cough - DC Manhunters - Cough Cough. Anyway, it should be good.

Wednesday's comic releases

Some interesting options on the shelves this week, like the debut of the new "Titans" series.

Check out the release list at THIS LINK.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Xbox remote-style controller coming soon???

Get a load of THIS LINK from MTV, claiming that Microsoft is trying like mad to port their own Xbox 360 controllers into Wiimote-style form, in order to emulate the Nintendo console's runaway success.

If you read the link (which, if true, is quite illuminating), you'll see that Microsoft has been developing the technology since last summer, has been talking with Rare Entertainment in an effort to develop an animal-style 'Mii-esque' system of avatars, and has even been explaining to third-party Wii developers just how easy it would be to port their creations to the Xbox. You know, since so many third-party Wii games aren't crappy.

Basically, Microsoft is looking to COMPLETELY change everything they've been doing for the past 8 years. If this is all true.

Frankly, as a converted Xbox fan in this gaming generation, this worries me like crazy. I wouldn't put it past Bill Gates to try and piggyback on an idea just because he hears it's popular, but would Microsoft really be thinking about this if they thought they had a shot in hell of keeping up with the PlayStation 3 for the next four-five years?

Should be interesting finding out what those nuts over at Microsoft are really up to.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

This week's video game releases

Not too much again this week, although "Summer Sports: Paradise Island" sounds intriguing. I mean, who wouldn't want to play badminton or lawn darts with Wonder Woman?

What? Not THAT Paradise Island? OK... well, at least there's that new dungeon-crawling "Baroque" game, featuring Antonio Vivaldi!

What? It has nothing to do with Baroque composers? What the hell, man?

Oh well, click THIS LINK for the list. I'm going back to drinking my slurpee out of Tony Stark's head.

Secret Invasion #1, from a 'non-reader' point of view

Check out THIS LINK for a fantastic fake dialog between two fictitious long-ago comic book readers, one of which picked up Secret Invasion #1 because he read a little of the hype around it.

If ever there was the perfect skewering of Marvel in general and Brian Bendis in particular, this is it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

No ending for 'Assassin's Creed'

Last night, I finished "Assassin's Creed" (yes, I know I am late to the party, I've apologized before).

And while the game was just a bit too easy for my tastes, there was more than enough fun 'boss' assassinations and 'informer' assassinations to make this game a should-play for most of you out there. Even the repetition did not feel so bad later in the game, thanks to those mission assassinations.

However, when I got to the ending... there's wasn't one. If you've played it, I'm sure you know what I mean. If you haven't played it, I won't spoil it for you. But I was awfully confused when I finished the game at 5 a.m. last night. It's the only time I've ever beaten a game and then had to say to myself 'Time to go online and find an explanation for that.'

Well, I found the explanation, a good one. And for those of you in need, I decided I would post it at THIS LINK.

And actually, as it turned out, I discerned most of the 'ending' on my own, anyway. It is all just a bunch of clues as to what the next two installments of this trilogy might bring.

Oh well, time to move on to the next game I didn't have time to play all winter. Heeeelllloooo Mario Galaxy!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Drink with Roberty Downey, Jr.


I just read this on Marvel's site at THIS LINK, a feature on Iron Man slurpees at 7-11.

As you can see, not only can you get Iron Man cups, but you can also get a cup shaped like Tony Stark's helmet!

I never really had the urge to drink from Iron Man's head before, but now that I am presented with the opportunity, you bet I am running to 7-11!

The only thing is, nowhere does it say what flavor is pictured. And frankly, that neon orangish-yellow color is not really appealing. But, if Robert Downey, Jr. is involved, you can bet it tastes good!

Gaming in the Journal on Saturday

Pickup page 5C in the Journal on Saturday for this week's Gaming page (yes, we didn't have to pre-empt it this page... and I think I spelled Pre-empt wrong...).

This week, we have an Associated Press-provided look at your baseball video game options, as well as the weekly fantasy baseball column.

Secret costs in the Invasion

Newsarama has a nice little feature up at THIS LINK, simply adding up the cost of the many tie-ins to "Secret Invasion."

And while they were only able to add up the first half of the story (through July) as the rest hasn't been solicited yet, the cost is still just over a hundred bucks. For half a story.

Keep in mind, it is just $16 for the four main series issues of Secret Invasion included in this price.

My opinion? Keep a close eye on each issue's description and thumb through the issue before buying. Marvel has a habit of making half the tie-ins to an event make absolutely no difference in the long run (see "Civil War" and "World War Hulk").

Thursday, April 3, 2008

2D Sonic in 3D... unleashed

Get a load of THIS LINK to TeamXbox.com's look at the just announced game "Sonic Unleashed." You can probably find plenty of info on it on other sites too, it's not like I am breaking news here, but still, am I the only one excited about this?

How many years have we all been waiting for Sonic to transfer properly to the three-dimensional world? It seems all his offerings since the Sega Genesis days have been pretty horrible, and the idea of translating his 2D adventures to the 3D landscape, if only in appearance and not changing the gameplay, should work real well.

If anything, this may be a great pick-up-and-play title for that casual gaming market everyone seems to be grasping for lately.

Buy Pile Report

You have to love a week in which the Big Two both come out swinging for the fences.

In this corner, we have Marvel, dropping Secret Invasion #1. After reading this issue, I am even more conflicted on this event then I had been before. On the one hand, the concept of this Skrull Invasion intrigues me. On the other hand, I am no fan of Brian Bendis, and it feels like he's been given the keys to the castle to not only change anything he wants in this story, but also break any conventions he wants.

And, after reading his first issue, my fears have not been alleviated by much. His characterizations of certain characters, like Agent Brand and Reed Richards, were poor. I've never been a big fan of either of his Avengers teams, either. What Bendis does succeed in, though, is establishing that tone of "anything can happen" that he's been hyping for the last year. I didn't feel it whatsoever up until now -- but the way the Skrulls make their first move in this issue is really well done.

I'm struggling not to spoil anything here, but there is one scene at the end of this issue that will really drop your jaw -- even as we all realize the status quo can't be changed THAT MUCH... can it?

Anyway, this debut issue is strong enough to warrant picking up. I just hope this story can be read without paying out the rear for crossovers and tie-ins.

In the other corner, we have DC, concluding Superman's Legion of Superheroes arc in Action Comics #863, only to start promoting the Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds story.

Action itself was a satisfying ending to a great story arc, and yes, I'll spoil it for you, Superman prevails in the end. The ending is actually pretty predictable, but that is not a bad thing considering how well it all fits together with the first five issues. Again, I strongly recommend reading this whole arc.

The last two pages of this comic, however, are full-page promos for Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, which will be a five over-sized issue story written by Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez, and will tie-in directly with Grant Morrison's Final Crisis.

It seems the main story will be an all-out war waged between Superman and the three different incarnations of the Legion, vs. Superman-Prime, Lex Luthor and the Legion of Supervillains. Oh, and did I mention the lightning rod from "The Lightning Saga" is featured prominently in the promo? Meaning, we're either getting Bart Allen, Barry Allen or Connor Kent back in this story.

In essence, this is making Final Crisis into a 12-part story rather than the seven we've heard before, but with Johns and Morrison teaming up, the quality will be guaranteed.

The rest of this week's offerings were not nearly as exciting. Young X-Men #1 is nothing but a 'gathering the team' story, so if you pick up #2 next month, you're not missing much. Cable #2 is nothing but a recap of where Bishop has been. The problem there is that it is exactly what you would have guessed it to be. Again, if you skip this, you aren't missing much.

Oh, and insanely horrible again was Countdown to Final Crisis #4, with Mary Marvel making the most out-of-character choice I have seen in comics since Cyclops cheated on Jean. Evil again, for no good reason.

Oh well, that's it for the books I picked up this week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

So, finally after months upon months of Brian Bendis and Joe Quesada driving the hype machine into overload, on Wednesday we'll finally get a chance to read Secret Invasion #1.

And, I've said it before, I'll say it again, I'm really pissed at Marvel for having this event when they did. I don't care what the sales numbers say, I'm a victim of event fatigue -- especially after a horrendous "Civil War," the marginal "World War Hulk" and the not nearly as good as advertised "Messiah CompleX."

Now comes along "Secret Invasion" -- skrull sleeper cells within the Marvel Universe posing as our heroes, and now they're ready to make their move. As far as I'm concerned, this is the most exciting sounding event yet. But, I could really care less about it after all the crap Marvel has hyped only to disappoint me. All the tie-ins, all the must-reads, all the "things will never be the same" issues. And you just know that this event isn't going to resolve anything, it's just going to funnel into the next event.

So, unfortunately I will still be buying this "Secret Invasion" series, because it does sound interesting, but I'll be passing on all the tie-ins and extras that Marvel loves to publish just for a quick buck. I strongly encourage you all to do the same, so Marvel will treat their next event (coming in 2 weeks or so after "Secret Invasion") with a little more standalone feel, like DC will be doing with "Final Crisis."

But, the Invasion is not the only big thing out this week. Action Comics #863 wraps up Geoff Johns' stellar "Legion of Superheroes" arc, and I highly recommend the arc to any of you TPB buyers out there. Johns has redefined the old-school Legion and their place in the future, while at the same time writing just a good Superman team-up story. And, the best part of every Superman story is, after all, Big Blue coming through in the end.

It will also be interesting to see where the ending of this story leads for the Legion, as Johns obviously has plans for them in the future following Supes' return to his own time. I'd love to read an ongoing in this universe, telling the post-Justice League of Earth rebuilding tale.

Nightwing #143 should also be a strong issue this week. Since Peter Tomasi took over the title, in fact, Dick Grayson's tales have jumped up a notch, and this week we'll get to see Robin get more involved with Nightwing's investigation into Dr. Kendall. Personally, I really enjoy watching team-ups between these two, so this may be a good issue for you all to give this series a go.

From Marvel, Young X-Men #1 debuts this week, and I am awfully curious to see which direction this book takes. It is to be the story of Cyclops training "the last class of X-Men," with plenty of help from the original New Mutants. Still, will this book have any hints of teenaged-angst-heroes or will it go the absolute other direction, in which the heroes are constantly depressed because they know how doomed the mutant race is and they are the youngest?

Personally, I think between the non-familiar cast and the unoriginal idea of young mutants being taught, this book will flop. But, I am still looking forward to learning more about it.

Other hot titles this week include Kick Ass #2, Cable #2 and Project Superpowers #2. I guess it's a good week for No. 2s.

Wednesday's comic release list

Follow THIS LINK to this week's comic book releases, including the debut of "Secret Invasion" and the finale of the Action Comic's Legion of Superheroes arc.