Thursday, May 29, 2008

Buy Pile Report: The Heavy Hitters

Both of the big two companies had a book out today that fans have been waiting months for. They were both so big that I found time in my night here in the office to read them and have a slightly earlier Buy Pile Report than normal. Don't worry, in four or five hours I'll have an elongated one up too.

DC fans have been itching for Final Crisis #1 since they first heard Grant Morrison and JG Jones would team up and write a book. The events of the story have been shrouded in relative mystery, which has only increased the anticipation. For the most part, all we knew (or thought we knew) about this book coming into it was that this is the story of "The Day Evil Won." It was enough to make a fanboy wet himself.

Unfortunately, we knew a whole lot more than we thought, which made this first issue pretty worthless. If you've been living under a rock in the DC Universe for the past few months, this is a good book for you to catch up on. For the rest of us, who paid all that money for "Countdown to Final Crisis," "Death of the New Gods," and "DC Universe #1," you've seen all this already. Granted, Morrison does it all better here since it is more concise here, but the fact is we've seen most of this already.

Newsflash: The villains are gathering together under Libra's direction (who we already know is working for Darkseid).
Newsflash: The New Gods have gone the way of the Old Gods (which has paved the way for New New Gods).

The only part of this book that should have still retained some sort of value was the long-rumored death of J'onn J'onzz, since, you know, he's kind of a HUGE character in the DCU. But the death of the Manhunter was glossed over so quickly it was a literary crime.

Now, I'm not saying "Final Crisis" will be a wash. All told, I think by the end of issue #7, we're all going to have our jaws dropped with greatness. But this first issue was pretty darned bad. And, considering DC's sales of late, they really could have used a bandwagon-starting debut for this event.

Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 was likewise long-awaited. The difference is, while everyone was waiting for the START of "Final Crisis," everyone has been waiting entirely too long for Joss Whedon and John Cassady to deliver the next and final installment of their X-Men Masterpiece. This 25-issue run took FOUR YEARS to come out!

But it will all be worth it when you go back and read the 25-issues cover-to-cover, because this finale was really pretty good. All your questions receive answers, and the X-Men are who the X-Men are — heroes.

And — SPOILER ALERT — it turns out the prediction I made back in the end of January after "Astonishing X-Men #24" came out turned out to be right on the money. Again, SPOILER ALERT. Kitty ends up saving the day by phasing the entire bullet through the Earth, but renders her unable to stop it and thus she is stuck on a runaway bullet for the foreseeable future. Joss Whedon turned his favorite character into a martyr.

Now, this wasn't the toughest thing to predict, either. So, why did is work so well? Because of a fantastic dialog mentally between Emma Frost and Kitty in Kitty's final moments. It brings the series full circle and reflects just how much Emma has grown in the past 25 issues. Whedon has turned Emma into something I, a staunch Jean/Scott guy, thought I would never be — a fan of her's. She is a far more mature character now, and it's because of Kitty and Scott's influence.

Oh, and by the way, Colossus' domination of all things Breakworld is something to see as well. Piotr and the X-Crew use the rules of the Breakworld (carefully laid out in past issues by Whedon) to outsmart and outmuscle the Powerlord Kruun all in one motion.

This was simply a satisfying finale to a series that has failed to satisfy at every turn only because of tardiness. I implore you all to go back and pile up this 25-issue run tonight and re-read it in it's entirety. There will be no wait in-between issues or anything. I promise you won't be disappointed this time.

Oh well, come back later for the rest of the Buy Pile, after I get out of work and have time tto read another eight books!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

You've got to love the weeks when the big guns pull out their big guns and fight for your money. Then again, I guess you don't have to love those weeks, seeing as they normally result in spending more money... but we're not going to mention that anymore.

So what to begin with? I guess we'll start with an ending. Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 finishes off Joss Whedon and John Cassady's 25-issue run on the book they started FOUR YEARS AGO this month. Talk about your delays! And while the story's impact has been heavily diluted by all the waiting (to put the delays in perspective, the first 8 issues came out in the first 9 months), when you look back at this run as a whole, it will be viewed as an X-Men Masterpiece, on par with just about any short arc in the Merry Mutants' history.

This final issue will bring an end to the "Break World" storyline, and with it all the mysteries of what Peter will do to the planet and who will not make it back to Earth (Those who've read "Uncanny X-Men" lately know who that is, but I've done my best to hide from it... which also means I get to catch up on three months of "Uncanny" tomorrow too!), the story will hopefully not disappoint. When last we saw out mutants, Kitty was barrelling toward Earth inside an enormous bullet. My prediction, as I've said many times, is that Kitty phases the whole bullet through the planet, but then is left traveling through space without a way to stop, leaving a way for her to come back at some point.

Personally, I am looking forward to finding out what the deal from now on will be with Cyclops' eyes. I've always been vocal on not wanting Slim to be able to control his blasts, so I'm hoping Whedon undoes his change in Scott's physiology. But, mostly I am just thrilled that we're finally getting an ending. For as much as I've enjoyed Whedon and Cassady's work when I've seen it, the delays have just been ridiculous. Now that their story will be completed, I'm looking forward to an all-new tale (and a prompt one) penned by Warren Ellis.

Here's a quick look at other top Marvel titles to look for:

Marvel 1985 #1: The Marvel heroes come to "our world," whatever that means, and a 13-year-old boy holds the key to stopping villains. This sounds like a loser of a mini-series to me, but feel free the guess me wrong.

Daredevil #107: If you've been hearing how good "Daredevil" is but have been timid to jump into the pool, you should know this is the first part of a new story arc for the Man without Fear.

New Avengers #41: A "Secret Invasion" tie-in featuring the cast in the Savage Land. This issue promises to tie together the events of "New Avengers #1" with the current skrull situation. Still, unless you are the "New Avengers" fan, this doesn't seem to be required reading for the event.

X-Men Legacy #212: I cannot recommend this book enough, if you've an ounce of love for X-Men mythology. I have a feeling that Xavier's personal discoveries in this book are going to end up setting up the future of the mutant race. Not to mention the fact that Mike Carey is doing tremendous book-to-book work here.

OK, enough with Marvel. Especially because DC boasts FINAL CRISIS #1 this week. BAM!

Grant Morrison claims this is the story of the day evil won, and from what I've seen from the solicitations, I believe him. This first issue should set up Barry Allen's return, the return of the New Gods (or Birth of the New New Gods) and, unfortunately, be where one of DC's oldest heroes (rumored for months to be J'onn J'onzz) dies. This book should be huge.

And really, folks, Whether you are a DC fan or not, "Final Crisis" is the event to jump on board with this summer. Even if you don't trust Morrison's enthusiasm over the project (and nobody knows causing heroes misery like Morrison), trust the fact that DC is keeping this event VERY TIGHT. While there are tie-ins and ancillary titles going along with "Final Crisis," Morrison has been writing every semi-important event in his own book, his own seven issues. The other stories will be supporting tales occurring with the backdrop of "Final Crisis," not required reading. So jump in and give this 7 issue story a read, you're taking a good risk.

Personally, I just can't wait to see how Morrison finds a way for the heroes to find a way to upend Darkseid.

Other DC titles worth a look:

Batman #677: "Batman R.I.P." continues, and hopefully we'll get a small explanation as to what the heck the Joker was talking about last issue!

Green Lantern #31: "Secret Origins" continues, as we've just gotten to the good parts, Hal's beginnings in the Corps., under Sinestro. Now is where Geoff Johns really begins laying the brickroad to "Blackest Night."

Action Comics #865: A one-shot featuring Toy Man. Not required reading by any means, just a fill-in issue, but with as good as Johns has been on this title of late, I'll push it as much as anything.

Boy oh boy, I can't wait until Thursday. And not just because I get to interview Walt "Clyde" Frazier.

Thursday's comic release list

Follow THIS LINK to the list of new books coming out on THURSDAY.

And, frankly, this week is too big to sum up in a sentence or two, so just wait for the next post to be AMAZED! DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!

No comics on Wednesday

So, Wednesday is the long-awaited finale of Joss Whedon and John Cassady's "Astonishing X-Men," right?

Wrong. There's no new comics this Wednesday. Due to the holiday on Monday, comics shipping is pushed back a day, and the new stuff comes out on Thursday.

Just wanted to get on here and make sure you all knew that. So, I'll be back on Wednesday with the weekly release list and what to expect from the week (Expect Great, says Candace Parker!).

For now, I'm going to continue the first four-day weekend I've had in a LONG LONG TIME. And let me tell you, in that time I've fit in a graduation party in an aquarium, a lesbian wedding, re-reading "Earth X," watching "Frisky Dingo" season one again with the girlfriend, and tomorrow the li'l sister and I are headed to the Nintendo World Store in NYC. Later!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Saturday's Gaming in the Journal

We got some BIG things going on in this week's Gaming page (located in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal Sports section).

For one, We have a FULL REVIEW of "Deca Sports" for Wii. Is this 10-sport compilation worth your money? Is it worth the "Wii Sports"/casual gaming crown? Read and find out.

We also have a review of "Wii Fit" (though this one is not written by Me, it's an AP story, so obviously "Deca Sports" is a better story), and a fantasy baseball column.

BIG Things goin' down in the Gaming page, so pick up Saturday's Journal Sports section. Word.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

News on Avengers movies

Follow THIS LINK to several tidbits of information on the Captain America, Thor and Avengers movies.

For one, "The First Avenger: Captain America" will be a period piece set in World War II (which, presumably, leads the Avengers movie to open with finding Steve Rogers in the ice), and Matthew McConaughey will NOT be playing the Star-Spangled Avenger.

For two, "Thor" will be set predominantly in Asgard, and Matthew Vaughn is no longer attached to the movie.

For three, YES, that was Cap's shield on Tony Stark's work bench and yes, it looks like that's the super soldier serum in that screen shot from "The Incredible Hulk."

Why can't 2011 get here sooner?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Buy Pile Report: Ultimate X-Men

OK, I already posted the "Heavy Hitters" of this week's Buy Pile in my last post (see below), but I just had to get on here to post the most shocking news of the week.

Ultimate X-Men #94 .... it was.... good! No, not even good. Considering the current state of the series, it was GREAT!

This issue returns the series to the fun feel the series had through the first 60 issues or so. Well, maybe 40 of those first 60 issues, as the series was uneven before turning crappy.

An all-different Alpha Flight attacks the school, right in the middle of a patented Xavier's baseball game (which, you have to love that this new writer Aaron Coleite respects the ole' Claremont games), and promptly wipes the floor with our Merry Mutants, including Jean "Phoenix" Grey (who's time on a higher plane of existence as Phoenix lasted all of zero issues, thank god).

But, that's only the premise for this story. Turns out, Alpha Flight and Colossus share more than one connection, leading to a MAJOR turning point in this series, it seems. I just don't want to give away too much.

The final page will make your eyes get wide, I guarantee it.

For the first time in years, I am optimistic this series can become what it once was, even if some of the dialog in this issue was a tad cheesy. There goes the $2.99 I was hoping to save each month!

Buy Pile Report: Heavy Hitters

Since I actually have a life tonight, with the girlfriend in town in T-minus 7 hours and 48 minutes, I decided to come into the office today early and get a jump on reading the biggest issues of the week. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to talk about the rest of my Buy Pile (which included Ultimate X-Men #94 against my own advice since I'm no good at dropping titles, damnit), but here's the biggest four issues of the week, with no spoilers since this post is so much earlier than normal:

We begin this showcase showdown with a look at DC's top-tiers, starting the Justice Society of America #15. For all of you clamoring for more action in this title, this was your issue. The entire thing is a knock-down drag-em out brawl between Gog (or not Gog?) and the whole JSA. And while last issue I had the same problem — how can this golden schmuck stay on his feet against the whole JSA? — there is a hint in this issue that there is something more than superhuman in play.

I warn you, also, the last pages of this issue may divide some of you. Frankly, I am not sure how readers are going to take it. This is the last issue of the "Thy Kingdom Come" arc, and the final few pages create a clear divide heading into the first issue of the next arc "In the Name of Gog," but at the same time, it is a continuation on what's going on now. I know there is a large population of fans that have been itching for Geoff Johns to get away from the whole "Kingdom Come" angle, and while this is a departure, I don't know if it's enough of a departure to satisfy. Now I'm just talking in circles. Anyway, I was pleased and now anxious for next month.

Shockingly, Justice League of America #21 may have been even better. I've been a big critic of Dwayne McDuffie's and yet, for the second straight month he has impressed me with smaller character driven stories. The first half of this issue is spent looking at Clark, Bruce and Diana in a secret room they built into the Hall of Justice's transports, simply discussing business and secrets. It was an interesting dichotomy, because they clearly acknowledge how they've in the recent past decided how it's not good for the three of them to be keeping secrets, but at the same time they can't help themselves even during this frank talk. It sets up a coming story resolving Vixen's powers very well, too.

Personally, I am no fan of how these three characters get treated as the be-all and end-all in the DCU lately, so I wasn't keen on the idea of these meetings, but McDuffie handled the scene well, anyway.

The second part of the issue was a look at the Human Flame and Libra's assembling of the new Injustice Society, all wrapped together with a decent fight scene against Roy and Kendra. Again, in smaller teams, McDuffie really excels. This was a capable lead-in to "Final Crisis," similar to the look at Libra in "DC Universe #1." It also, unfortunately, again hits readers in the face with the news that J'onn J'onzz needs to watch his ass in "Final Crisis #1," and that's just not cool.

On to Marvel! And, it should go without saying that Ed Brubaker was again on his game with Captain America #38. Just as I said last night, too, it's amazing that Brubaker can reveal big puzzle pieces in each issue, and yet the Skull's master plans are still so well hidden. Yes fans, we are told EXACTLY who this other Steve Rogers is. We're also given a tremendous character moment with Sharon meeting him, which I only kind of wish was given a little bit more art space for it to breath and build tension. You'll see what I mean.

Bucky and Falcon also get a good deal of action in this one, and again Bucky serves as narrator throughout the entire fight. While Brubaker has used this writing style plenty in the past few months, I find myself really enjoying being in Captain Bucky's head as he fights. Hopefully the narration will last through this entire storyline — and end on time just as Bucky is finally comfortable with his role as Cap (presuming it lasts).

Finally, on to the only book of these top four which I wish I didn't read. Hell, I wish I didn't read any of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's four issues on this title. Fantastic Four #557 wasn't AS dreadful as the last isssue, but it was pretty bad. This nonsense with CAP is resolved in such a way that I feel like Millar views Reed as a superhuman being, for some reason. There's a certain remarkable speed Reed Richards can build something at, and then there's the unbelievable just stupid speed Millar employs here, in order to save the day. If you're a fan of Mech battles, you'll like this fight. Check that, you won't.

The best part about this issue was actually the irony of Millar's own uneven writing. He tells Alyssa here that one of the reasons he doesn't want to work with her in the future is because he doesn't like how secretive the billionaires are keeping Nu-Earth. Now, sure, there is a level of irony as a reader that makes you think "Wait a minute, Reed 'I built a secret Negative Zone Prison that I can't even tell my wife about' Richards is calling something too secretive?" But then there's another layer of irony when you say "Wait a minute! Mark Millar is the man that wrote Richards get that secretive in 'Civil War' in the first place!"

Even an intriguing last page has not kept me from questioning if I'll pick up this series until Millar is gone.

This week's comic book expectations

OK, I take back what I said in that last post. I am thrilled for a new issue of "Justice Society," it's true, but I didn't even notice we get a new "Captain America" as well -- and that has me even more excited.

When last we left our freedom-fighting friends, Sharon Carter had just met "Steve Rogers" in Red Skull's liar -GASP! - and there is definitely something wrong with him. Hopefully in Captain America #38 we'll get to find out what. Also, from what I can see in the solicitations, we're also going to start to see this "original" Cap in action, so hopefully we'll start to learn exactly how the Skull plans on using him. Honestly, it's amazing how good Brubaker's work over the last year and a half has been, and yet we still don't know what Skull is aiming at, exactly.

We're also getting yet another issue of Mighty Avengers #14, and is it just me, or does it seem like this book has been coming out on a weekly basis lately? OK, I know it's not true, but it feels like Bendis is just shooting this series out one after the other. Of course, over the last three issues we've been learning where Nick Fury has been and what his machinations are (I just wanted to use Machinations in a sentence), so I would only expect that story to continue here.

And who can overlook Fantastic Four #557? It's the final issue of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's first four-part arc, and for better or worse, it's ending. After last issue's dreck I would never suggest you picking up this issue -- but since most of us have already invested nine bucks into this crappy should-have-been-much-better story, what's another three to see the ending?

Marvel also offers X-Men: Divided We Stand #2 this week, another series of short stories showing what our merry mutants have been up to since "Messiah CompleX." While I wouldn't say the first of this two-issue set was bad, I will say it was by the numbers. There was that common theme of "We only belong as X-Men" running through the entire thing, so hopefully we get a little variety here. I'm just excited that Havok and his new team of Starjammers is included in this issue. If you've read this blog for a while, you know I am a big proponent of the potential for that space/Vulcan storyline, so hopefully Alex's inclusion here is a sign of things to come.

Finally from Marvel, I don't know how you want to look at it, as a jumping on point or a getting off point, but both Ultimate X-Men #94 and Ultimate Fantastic Four #54 mark brand-new storylines for the series. X-Men welcomes new regular writer Aaron Coliete, but with how horrible the series has been lately, I don't know if anyone can save this book. Fantastic Four, on the other hand, is coming off a fantastic Ultimate Thanos story, so it might be an issue to give a try.

There's less offered from DC this week, but a couple of real good issues to take note of:

Justice Society of America #15 is obviously the crown-jewel of DC's week. the issue will plop us right back into the middle of Gog's assault on the JSA brownstone for the second half of that battle. (Remember the cool full-page image of Alan Scott and Obsidian???) And while many of you have been talking about how this "Kingdom Come" slant has taken away from the JSA characters, I still have faith that Johns is going to turn it all full-circle. Hopefully this is that turn.

That other Justice team also shows up this week, Justice League of America #21, and it's also just about the only sign of "Final Crisis" we get this week. This issue is promoted as a re-introduction for one of the central henchmen in the upcoming event, Libra, and it will also introduce the Human Flame (you know, the C-list villain that apparently is going to off you-know-who in the "Final Crisis" opener). Personally, it seems like DC is just looking to place whatever "Final Crisis" material they can in their highest selling book in order to challenge Marvel's sales numbers this month. Well, it's working on me.

Brave and the Bold #13 begins a new story arc now that all that Megistus stuff is wrapped up, and I'm excited about it since the teamup includes one of my favorite heroes of all-time, Jay Garrick. Hell, I walk around wearing my Jay Garrick red lightning bolt long-sleeve t-shirt all the time, despite how flamboyant it looks. That's how cool as Jay Garrick is.

And with that little personal confession, I'm out.

Wednesday's comic release list

BLAM - THIS LINK is the list of this week's comic books.

All I really care about is we get a new issue of Justice Society Wednesday.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This week's video game releases

Here you go, follow THIS LINK to the list of video games out this week — including "Wiifit," the latest title Nintendo hopes will trick you into being healthy. I beg you, don't fall for the trap! Don't get healthy! Follow me to Taco Bell! There we'll all plan how to stop Nintendo from getting you all to be healthy!

Seriously, though, I'm pretty shocked at how many people, who have never stepped on a treadmill in their lives, want this game. I'm just looking forward to when the Wii Balance Board is used for more fun applications than "Wiifit."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bad News: Gaming in the Journal; 'Deca Sports' review

I was warned yesterday this may be a possibility, but I didn't want to break your hearts until I was sure — This Week's Saturday Gaming page in the Poughkeepsie Journal has been washed out. There just isn't enough space in our section this week.

So, I have this review of "Deca Sports" all ready to go and written, and I have two options — I can post it all here in one big review post, or I can hold on to it for a week and use it in Next Saturday's Gaming page.

I'm going to compromise. Since this game just came out this week and some of you may be waiting to read about it before picking it up, I will give you the briefest of reviews here:

"Deca Sports," which features 10 different sports mini-games all packaged together with a retail price of $29.99, is not a game for anyone over the age of 10. Anyone under 10 will enjoy this, as 4 or 5 of the 10 games will keep the youngsters occupied for days, and the kids can go on thinking how they have a game for all these different sports and be happy with it.

But, for anyone over 10-years-old, you will see the IMMEDIATE flaws with the basketball and soccer games, get tired of volleyball and badminton, and realize there are much better racing games out there. Now, I do recommend this as a game you may want to rent one rainy afternoon with three friends and competing, because many of the games will keep older gamers' attentions for an afternoon. But even at the $29.99 price, it's not worth a purchase for you.

For more of a review, read NEXT Saturday's Gaming page.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Alphabet game

So, during a meeting today in the office, I was playing the alphabet game, trying to name a DC hero and a Marvel hero for every letter of the alphabet (don't tell my boss).

And, I'm kind of disappointed to say I wasn't able to name one of each letter for both comics brands. I'm missing Z for Marvel, Y for DC, X for DC, and (surprisingly) O for Marvel. I didn't include heroes from parallel Earths, either.

Anyone have any ideas? I'm going to look it up online later, but if anyone wants to save me some time and show off the knowledge, post here.

Here's my list so far (DC, Marvel):

A — Animal Man, Angel
B — Batman, Beast
C — Cyborg, Cyclops
D — Damage, Dr. Strange
E — Elongated Man, Elektra
F — Flash, Feral
G — Geo Force, Gambit
H — Hawkman, Hulk
I — Ion, Iceman
J — Johnny Thunder, Jubilee
K — Kilowog, Karma
L — Lightning Lad, Longshot
M — Mr. Miracle, Marvel Girl
N — Nightwing, Nightcrawler
O — Orion, ?
P — Powergirl, Polaris
Q — Question, Quicksilver
R — Rocket Red, Rogue
S — Superman, Strong Guy
T — Timberwolf, Thing
U — Una (of Triplicate Girl), Uatu
V — Vixen, Vision
W — Wonder Woman, Wonder Man
X — ?, X-23
Y — ?, Yellow Jacket
Z — Zauriel, ?

Buy Pile Report

Well, that was a bit of an uneven week.

First off, the good. And the best, in my opinion, was Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1. Honestly, could you have asked anymore from this first issue? Immediately we're given a super quick recap of how the Baxter Building got to the Negative Zone, explained why Sue and Reed weren't present (which, by the way, a Skrull with Sue's powers?!?), and laid the cards on the table with who Ben and Johnny are up against.

And, while I am a little surprised by how crazed the baddie responsible looks here, it still has the makings of a very good tie-in side story to the "Secret Invasion" mothership. If you're a fan of Marvel's First Family, pick this series up.

X-Men Legacy #211 was also pretty good, as Xavier is out on his own for the first time and beginning to rediscover his life. Again, Mike Carey does a terrific job of only giving the readers bits and pieces of the story, keeping us just as confused as Charles is. What is he trying to discover in the end? Xavier himself probably doesn't know, so why should we?

The only downside was the appearance of a certain someone at the issue's end. I wish this guy would just go away.

From there, we got a whole big bag of "eh." Batman #676 kicked off the "Batman R.I.P." storyline, although the whole thing just felt like a precursor to the big show. We got plenty of possible foreshadowing, with Tim voicing concerns about Damien and the new lady love in Bruce's life, and we get to know Black Glove a little better as well, but overall, this isn't so much the first chapter of the story as much as it is an introduction.

Green Lantern Corps. #24 was equally indifferent. I love the setup to this one, with a cadre of Lanterns trooping down to a planet full of Mongol's Black Mercys ... but nothing quite works as well as it could -- especially with slightly confusing art from Patrick Gleason. The only part that really piqued my interest is Mongol's new plans for his Black Mercys... they don't exactly grant wishes anymore!

Lastly, Booster Gold #9 was decent, but it felt a little rushed, especially after how stalled the story has been over the last two issues. It was pure geek joy to see the Justice League International together again, and Batman provides a great moment as well, but the situation with Max Lord is just resolved a little too fast in my opinion. After how Lord has been played up as the biggest baddie, I would have liked to have a bigger battle before he is taken out of the picture. Instead, it's simply on to the next threat -- a great threat, no doubt, but still, not what I was looking for.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

'Final Crisis' Sketchbook

I just finished thumbing through the "Final Crisis Sketchbook" drawn by JG Jones with captions by Grant Morrison, and three major things jumped out at me.

1) Mister Miracle in the sketchbook is Shiloh Norman, not Scott Free. Further, Big Barda is nowhere to be seen. As a big fan of both characters, I'm going to be pretty disappointed if this duo does not come back as New New Gods, especially given the inauspicious deaths they both shared in the "Death of the New Gods" series.

2) Half of this sketchbook is devoted to the Japanese heroes we saw back in "52" ... at least I'm pretty sure these are the same guys we saw in "52." Now, on the one hand, maybe they are only included in here since nobody knows these guys and Morrison needed some small introduction for them. BUT, I just hope this group doesn't show up too much in "Final Crisis," and the amount of space occupied here would dictate they play a major role.

3) There are notes in the margins of some of the sketches, including the new look for Darkseid (which I like). One of these notes reads "No Shadow. He Is The Shadow." THAT'S how EVIL Darkseid is. I love it. It's like that line from Justice League Unlimited where Flash's brain is stuck in Lex Luthor's body: "Aren't you going to wash your hands?" "No... Because I'm EVIL."

Anyway, I don't know if the sketchbook is worth three bucks, but there are interesting aspects to it.

'Deca Sports' in the house

There's nothing like walking into the office after the weekend (my weekend is Monday and Tuesday) and finding a brand new video game waiting for you in your mailbox.

Such is my life.

OK, so it doesn't happen as much as I would like, or as much as you would think for a Gaming editor like myself, but today I walked in and found a new copy of "Deca Sports" for Nintendo Wii in my mailbox.

If you haven't heard of the game, GO HERE for my hands-on preview a few weeks ago. I'm pretty excited to go home and get my hands on the game, especially the Curling section. I love me some Curlin'!

And, of course, expect to see a FULL REVIEW in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal Gaming page, located weekly within the Sports section.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

I'm in a good mood today. Maybe it's the sunshine and the fact that I was on the court playing basketball 15 minutes after waking up. Maybe it's the fact that "Tin Cup" is on TV right now. OR, maybe it's the long list of comics worth picking up on Wednesday.

Batman #676 kicks off Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." story, which (as many stories do) promises to change everything for the Caped Crusader. While you've heard plenty of writers claim that, remember that Grant Morrison is the guy that broke up Scott Summer and Jean Grey before bringing back the Phoenix entity the last time he was on a title for this long. While I've never been the hugest fan of Morrison's writing, this is still a story any DC fan is likely to want to read.

My prediction? Batman is "broken" like he was back in the "Nightfall"/Bane story, and Damien takes over the Cape and Cowl for a while.

There are two main "Secret Invasion" tie-ins this week you should know about (and no, this week I'm not talking about Franklin Richards. Captain Britain and MI13 #1 is an interesting title you may want to read if you're really diving into the "Invasion" story, since it features a hero, who's been on Earth for years, and is a SKRULL. In these invasion stories there's always one turncoat and plenty of other suspected turncoats, so this tie-in could be interesting.

The second tie-in (and the one I'll be picking up) is Secret Invasion Fantastic Four #1. When last we saw the Baxter Building, fake Sue Richards sucked everyone into the Negative Zone, leaving Ben and Johnny to fix everything. And, since Marvel likes to FORCE you to buy tie-ins, if you want to find out how those crazy kids get out of their latest pickle, this is the place to do it. I'm also holding out hope that Lyja shows up again, even though Mark Millar would not agree on bringing her back into Johnny's life, with his current plans writing the mothership.

On to less "event"-full stories, Green Lantern Corps #24's cover says it all. Mongol walking through a field of Green Lanterns sucked into the fantasy worlds of the Black Mercys. Personally, I love that villain, and I love that torture device. I have a fantastic story written in my head I'll tell you about sometime featuring the Black Mercys too, since there are just so many possibilities when you put emotionally tortured heroes into their wildest dreams. Anyway, it should be a good read.

Booster Gold #9 should just be good fun too, but if you're reading the story you probably already know that. This issue should see the reunion of "Blue and Gold" with the other members of the former Justice League International, a moment I've been waiting years for.

By the way, Roy McAvoy just parred the back nine with a seven iron. But I digress.

Lastly, Genext #1 comes out this week, the long-awaited Chris Claremont story of the children of the X-Men. I've no idea whatsoever of what to expect from this story, but I am curious and interested, given Claremont's knowledge of the characters and the fact that the story takes place in the near future, not the distant one.

Other titles to keep on your radar include Project Superpowers #3, X-Men Legacy #211, Wonder Woman #20 and Giant Size Hulk #1.

Oh, and don't forget the Final Crisis Sketchbook comes out this week too. It will be interesting to see JG Jones' take on the heroes and the New New Gods.

Wednesday's comic release list

Oh so much to love from this week's comics, it's a something for everything kind of week. From "Batman R.I.P" to "Secret Invasion" tie-ins to "Booster Gold," this is the week to go tell your local comic shop guy how much you appreciate your weekly visits.

HERE'S THE LINK to the week's comic releases.

Monday, May 12, 2008

WiiWare launches today

Remember to log on to your Wii today and check out the new section of the Nintendo Store online, WiiWare.

If you haven't heard of it, WiiWare is going to be a source of independent games to download (for a fee, of course). It also will have a handful of not-so-independent games, like the new "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King" game that is included in the first crop of WiiWare games available.

It will be interesting to see if this idea, as well as the idea Xbox has with their XNA games pans out. It seems to me that if these games are popular enough -- and enough game developers get behind this idea -- it would help spur on the next era in gaming, the era of strictly downloadable games and unspecific consoles. Granted, that idea is decades away from full realization, but this would be the first step. Much like the plot in Terminator 2.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This week's video game releases

Two big releases on the way this week: 1) Deca Sports, the mini-game collection of sports that I am very high on (I SHOULD have a full review in this week's Gaming page), and 2) Major League Eating (need I say more?!?)

Check out the full list at THIS LINK.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Who should play Captain America?

Sorry I haven't been around as much as I should be, folks, it's one of those segments of time I warned you about, where there's just too much to do in the office to find time to get on the blog as much as I like.

But I've been wanting to point something out:

You may have heard the rumors that Marvel has an actor in mind for Captain America — Matthew McConaughey.

I don't believe these rumors for a second. For One: Marvel knows their character better than this. If Fox were making the movie, I'd guess the rumor to be true, but this is Marvel. Two: Marvel didn't want such a big name as Robert Downey, Jr. to play Tony Stark, for fear the name would overshadow the character (which Jon Favreau convinced them otherwise), so why would Marvel choose a big name like McConaughey?

No, McConaughey cannot be Steve Rogers. So who will?

Years ago, the rumor was that Brad Pitt wanted to play the role. While I would say he'd be a perfect choice, he's much too big a name for Marvel's tastes. Which would make you think Marvel might want to go the Brandon Routh route of casting a complete unknown, right?

Well, no, I don't think a complete unknown will quite have the mixture of physical look and acting depth that's going to be needed to pulloff a character so potentially hokey and so potentially inspiring at the same time as Captain America. Routh only just barely pulled it off due to his resemblance to Christopher Reeve.

This is going to have to be someone who we've seen before, but never really in a starring role before.

Here's my choice:

Josh Duhamel. You've probably seen him in "Transformers" or "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" or "Las Vegas" (TV).

They guy has the look of a leader, looks in perfect shape without being too bulky, and also has a very clean-cut look about him that Steve Rogers MUST have. And while we haven't seen him exude the kind of acting chops this role is going to require, I also don't really think he's been put into a position to show what he can do yet.

There you go, my casting selection. Now we'll see if Marvel makes a prudent one and gives us a happy Summer of 2011.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Buy Pile Report

The pile was quite small for me this week, but I still managed to read the good, the bad and the Marvel. Betcha thought I was going to say Ugly, right?

In truth, all three books I'm about to talk about are from Marvel. I'll explain what I meant up top in a moment. But first...

The Good: Cable #3. This future story of an old soldier protecting a baby messiah regained the promise issue #1 showed and #2 made us forget about. Did that sentence make sense? You know what I mean. Anyway, this issue not only explains what has been going on to make this near-future New Jersey so screwed up, but it also introduces what seems to be a new central character to the story, Sophie, a 1950's looking blonde woman that seems right up Nathan's alley if you know what I mean.

And if that wasn't enough, the last page brings us an old familiar face -- one that not only spices up the story but also sparks so many different story possibilities I cannot even begin to say where this story is headed. Duane Swierczynski, you've written this week's "Good."

The Bad: Young X-Men #2. Either Marc Guggenheim has a MAJOR trick up his sleeve, or he REALLY does not know what he's doing writing Cyclops. And, for that matter, writing a story that makes any sense at all. Which, I know the later isn't true, so it gives me some hope.

Either way, the premise of this book -- Cyclops training young mutants to take down older young mutants he's fought alongside in the past -- is atrocious. The New Mutants have never shown this newfound "ruthlessness" Cyclops talks about here, and some of the members he targets are depowered anyway. And for that matter, I am getting sick of this whole "The stakes are changed, we're allowed to kill now" crap. Scott Summers has saved the world countless times without killing, there's no need to start now, except in extreme cases (which is why I will forgive "X-Force"), and going after former teammates is not an extreme case.

Which is why I am hoping/guessing that Cyclops isn't actually Cyclops. I'm hoping/guessing he's posing as Cyclops to either get the kids killed or just keep public opinion going against Mutants. But, until that logical explanation is applied to this crap, Marc Guggenheim, you've written this week's "Bad."

The Marvel: Secret Invasion #2. And, by "The Marvel" I mean, stereotypical, there's the Marvel I know. This second issue of the "Secret Invasion" mothership was not bad by any means. It had some good action, and keeps throwing curveballs at the reader effectively. It's obvious Brian Bendis' main goals is to make you as unsure of your own opinions as the characters are unsure of who each other is.

But, in typical Marvel fashion, not nearly enough happens here. After the first issue hits you hard and fast with plenty of story, this issue is entirely set in the Savage Land, with little going on other than the fighting. There is no look whatsoever at what's going on in the surrounding world, either. And, After reading Marvel's last few events, I can only guess that this is the way it's going to stay. If you want to read more about the Marvel Universe outside of the Savage Land, I guess we'll all have to buy the ancillary books.

And really, that's the reason I am not nuts about Marvel's work nowadays. Not enough happens, and not enough happens in too many books required to get the whole story. Until I've been proved different, the King of it, Brian Bendis, you've written this week's "Marvel."

That's all, folks! Tip your waitresses!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Will Wiimote blend???

Follow THIS LINK to, which has a YouTube video of the age-old question: If you put two Wiimotes into a blender, will they blend?

Yes, this is a video of Wiimotes in a blender. Boosh!

'GTA IV' breaks $500 Million in first-week sales

Selling more than 6 million games Worldwide, "Grand Theft Auto IV" wrangled over $500 million in first-week sales alone, according to Take-Two on Wednesday.

The early estimates were for an already whopping $400 million, but apparently "GTA IV" got into even more homes than anyone could have guessed.

This all just backs up what I said on Saturday in my column in the Journal (THIS LINK), Parents are not doing a good enough job of keeping graphic games out of their kids' hands.

Font issues; big thanks to Upstate Comics

Wow, sorry about the font for that last post, I was very sick last night (still am, though I soldier into the office anyway), and didn't exactly stop to make sure the font looked right. And, I don't even know how to fix it now. It's pretty odd.

But hey, despite the sickness, I'm still here, and I just got back from Upstate Comics with my weekly buy pile. I also now have a Cliff Chiang-signed copy of Green Arrow/Black Canary #1, given to me by the store even though I couldn't make it to their Free Comic Book Day festivities. So, a big thanks there.

I would have loved to have been there to meet Brian Wood and Chiang (or any of the stores in the area, as many had special events), but I was out on the Hudson River covering Triangulars for the Journal. And, I have to admit, that was pretty cool too, as I was video taping the event from a motorboat following the competition.

I was told Chiang was more than generous in the amount of sketches and such he did, and apparently, many fans handed him copies of that blank "Secret Invasion #1" variant and he drew DC characters with Skrull chins. Helluva idea!

This week's comic book expectations

Among other titles this week, we have the debut of a new ongoing Iron Man
series, Invincible Iron Man #1. Because, we needed more Iron Man in the
Marvel Universe nowadays. You know, because it's not like the man is over
exposed with his ongoings and his spot as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director and his
mini-series (Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #1 debuts Wednesday too). Honestly,
Shellhead is around as much as Wolverine nowadays.

And do you know this Invincible first issue had six different covers? SIX?

You would think there was some non-comic book stuff going on Marvel was
trying to promote or somethingÅ 

On a more important note, though, Iron Man can also be seen this week in
Secret Invasion #2. When last we left our heroes, they were in the Savage
Land meeting their doppelgangers. Or, were the doppelgangers the real deal?

The solicit for this book promises some good heroes vs. heroes action, plus
a Captain America leading the troops. Since Brubaker has done such a great
job on the "Captain America" book, though, I doubt Steve Rogers is coming
back here. Just a hunch.

And speaking of "Secret Invasion," we get two tie-ins this week. Well, kind
of two. The first is legit, Mighty Avengers #13, continuing the story of
where Nick Fury has been (you know, other than hiding after the credits),
and who his new Howling Commandos are. Marvel promises this is an important
tie-in to pick up. (Aren¹t they all to Marvel?)

The other tie-in, which I am kind of jazzed about, Franklin Richards:
Not-so-Secret Invasion #1. Who doesn¹t love little Franklin and
H.E.R.B.I.E.? We're going to get to see the Invasion from their little point
of view, with five mini-stories within the book's pages. Also, I am pretty
sure we¹re getting a Mini-Marvels "Secret Invasion" backup here. I'm not
kidding, I love this goofy kiddie stuff sometimes, and this is one of them.

All this talk from Marvel, and I haven't even mentioned the biggest issue of
the week, Avengers/Invaders #1. If you haven't heard of it, Alex Ross and
Jim Krueger tell a tale of the WWII Invaders getting transported to our time
and dealing with the current situation in the Marvel Universe (sans
Skrulls). Personally, I think this story will likely be a masterpiece, the
type I would be wary of if not for the weight Ross and Krueger throw around.
I'd be even more enthusiastic if Ross were doing interiors. Still, with all
the other events going on in the next few months, between DC's and Marvel's
summer pushes, this is one series that might do well to be left as a
Collected Trade purchase.

On another side of the universe, DC is trying to convince us all that Hell
has frozen over. It must have, because this week we¹re finally getting the
conclusion to Superman's "Last Son" story arc in Action Comics Annual #11.
Does anyone out there even remember what has been going on with that story?
Well, with as many heavy hitters on the table here (Lex, Zod, Mettallo,
Bizaro, Parasite) and Geoff Johns penning this story (with Richard Donner,
of course) I'm confident this final issue will be somewhat satisfying. It
better to have taken so long!

War breaks out in space in Rann/Thanagar: Holy War #1, the first issue of
the next installment of the two planets' ongoing battle. Personally, I've
never cared too much for the galactic side of things in these big events -- especially because it seems like all DC can think of sometimes is throwing
Rann and Thanagar together again. Still, I've been digging Jim Starlin's
work of late, so this latest battle in the ongoing conflict may actually be

A cool little "Final Crisis" tie-in drops this week as well in DC Universe
Special -- Justice League of America. Really, this book should include Libra
in the title, since the entire 80-page book (for $5, a bit over priced) is
devoted to Libra¹s first appearances back in the JLA in the 1970¹s. It
should be a nice little history lesson for us, you know, before Grant
Morrison completely changes the character to fit his needs.

Other books worth noting this week: Cable #3, Countdown to Mystery #7, Dark
Tower: The Long Road Home #3, Nightwing #144, Nova #13, X-Factor: Quick and
the Dead #1 and Young X-Men #2.

Wednesday's comic release list

I'm sick. I've no time for witty banter. Good thing I wrote up the Comic Expectations before leaving for Long Island this afternoon. Here's your LINK to the releases for this week.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nick Fury in 'Iron Man' after credits

By the way, after that BIG announcement from Marvel today, I went and found this: VIDEO of the Nick Fury scene at the end of "Iron Man" after the credits rolled.

That's right, if you missed it, Samuel L. did show up as Nick Fury, and you can see the video of it at THIS LINK.

Surprisingly, it's AOL video, taken by a bootlegger. I'm kind of shocked AOL let this video stick on their site. Oh well, better for us!


Thank you Marvel. Though your comic writers steal hundreds of dollars from me yearly on storylines that never pan out, you've made up for it with your movie announcement today.

Read the full story on the Journal's Web site HERE, Marvel announced a whole slew of movies today, all will be out in 2010 and 2011 (supposedly):

"Iron Man 2" on April 30, 2010 (duh, we knew it was coming, read my thoughts on the first Iron Man movie by scrolling down)

"Thor" on June 4, 2010 (wow, finally a Thor movie? But, that makes three Avengers with movies...)

"The First Avenger: Captain America" on May 6, 2011 (Whoa! We've been waiting for a Cap movie for how long? But if Cap's at the party then that must mean...)

"The Avengers" in July of 2011 (YES! We knew you'd do it, Marvel! We just knew it!)

BIG NEWS, eh? I do have some questions here, though. First off, the title of the Captain America movie — "First Avenger" — Does that mean we'll be seeing a 1940's period piece with Cap, showing him pre-freeze? Marvel Studios doesn't have the rights to Namor, if they wanted to include "The Invaders." And, if this is the plot, we would know the Avengers movie would likely center around Cap's excavation and subsequent problems adjusting to society. This title is definitely a clue as to what this movie will focus on, but there are quite a few different ways you can take a Captain America movie.

Also, I wonder how the shooting schedule would work for the actor playing Steve Rogers. In order for him to shoot the Cap movie and the Avengers movie back to back, I would think they would need to have that casting done and script done in a hurry. For that matter, Is Robert Downey, Jr. just going to be shooting Iron Man/Avengers movies for the next two years also?

And, speaking of Tony Stark, I cannot wait to see how Downey, Jr's Tony Stark interacts with the fish-out-of-water Steve Rogers on film. And speaking of big stars, is Edward Norton going to be involved here, too? And is S.H.I.E.L.D. just going to be showing up in every movie, developing that angle without even a "Nick Fury" movie of its own?

So many questions! Not enough answers! Damn You Marvel for laying so much knowledge on us at once! Am I the only one who wants 2010 to get here, pronto?

'Prototype' pushed to 2009

Follow THIS LINK to the Gamespot story saying "Prototype," one of the coolest looking open-world action games we've seen yet, is getting pushed back to a 2009 release.

Personally, I am not too broken up about this, since we have SO MANY good games to play already slated to come out this year. As long as "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" and "Too Human" don't get pushed back too, we're going to be just fine.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This week's video game releases

After the midnight excitement(s) of last week, this week's video game releases are a major drag. Still, HERE'S THE LINK to the full list.


I'm sure you heard by now just how good "Iron Man" is, so I will spare you a full review.

But, suffice it to say that I was thrilled by the 10 p.m. showing the GF and I attended on Friday night. That's not to say the movie doesn't have flaws — there are some, and I'm sure a bigger Iron Man fan has a couple more nitpicks than a casual Golden Avenger fan like myself has — but overall the movie was just flat-out fun.

Minor spoilers coming!

And I think that's what really has people loving this movie. There are just as many goofy comic book cliches in this movie as there was in a movie like "Daredevil," it's just that by the time we see that goofball junk, Robert Downey, Jr. has already won the audience over.

And I mean that — Iron Man himself doesn't win the crowd over, it's Tony Stark. We see a heck of a lot more of Stark here than Iron Man, anyway. And again, that's the difference between this movie setting records, and flopping like, well, again, let's use "Daredevil" as the example:

I, for one, really liked "Daredevil," but I have to admit that a good portion of that movie depends on how much you like Ben Affleck's Matt Murdock, an intentionally un-charismatic character. On the other end of the spectrum we have Tony Stark, who in the span of the first five minutes of the movie is drinking with the military, cracking jokes in Iraq, and bedding Leslie Bibb (something that only he and Ricky Bobby have managed, nice job Mr. Stark). Immediately we love this character, and immediately we're willing to love the movie, despite it's goofy conventions.

And, to that extent, that's just a great job from Jon Favreau (or, you can call him Happy, now — what a great cameo).

As for the flaws...

1) I thought things were taken one step too far when the flight attendants were pole dancing. That just made Tony into a cartoon cliche, and it's a darn good thing the movie quickly shifts to the cave setting helping us to forget it.

2) Tony Stark should still be an alcoholic playboy after becoming Iron Man, and yet the movie makes him suddenly seem like a saint. If he doesn't get some booze in him for the sequel, it will flop.

3) Jeff Bridges was the worst comic book villain since Nick Nolte in "Hulk." Everything was great until he wouldn't stop talking while inside that suit. Here's the bulk of the goofball junk, as far as I was concerned. A new take on the Mandarin would have been a much better final villain. (Sequel? Please?)

But, that was it as far as my concerns with the movie. Everything else was great. Really, if you can only find three flaws in a comic book movie nowadays, that's a success. There are three in the first three minutes of "X-Men: The Last Stand." And, again, there may have been more in there if my geek-radar was looking close enough, but the movie was so much fun I was just enjoying it, as I'm sure you all have or will.

Rest assured, I will be seeing it again some time soon.

P.S. How great was Stan Lee's cameo?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Saturday's Gaming in the Journal

Unless the plans have changed since I got out of the office to go and see IRON MAN, the Journal's Gaming page will be on PAGE 4C of Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal.

And, YOU WANT to check out the Gaming page on PAGE 4C.

We have, a full review of my new obsession, "Mario Kart Wii." (For more on the game, check my last post and a post soon to be posted).

We have a column, written by yours truly, on why "GTA IV" belongs in mature gamers' hands but AWAY FROM KIDS! (I'm talking to you, parents!)

And, we also have a story on how professional poker players are reacting to the World Series of Poker's Main Event Final Table getting pushed back to November.

This is possibly the best Gaming page (PAGE 4C) Ever. Or, at least the best since we switched to black and white colors.

Check out my stories, and let me know what you think of each. I'm happy with my "Kart" review (mostly because it is just fun to play), but I'm proud of my "GTA" column (hopefully I get through to some people).

And, by the way, last night on "Kart," I unlocked the final unlockable character, DRY BOWSER. Yes, I am done with unlocking characters, and I did it without downloading a cheat save. It was no easy task to get stars on every 150CC course, either, but I persevered because I am a little obsessed. Heck, I don't even like using the heavy weights on this game, but now that I have Dry Bowser I may use him online simply as a status symbol. Yes, I'm sick.

So yeah, check out PAGE 4C, the Gaming Page in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

'Mario Kart Wii' impressions

Hey, I've been promising to get on here and give my two cents on "Mario Kart Wii" for a week now, so here I am.

OK, well, I'm not going to do that quite yet. As it turns out, I am going to have the time this week to write out my own review of the game for Saturday's Gaming page in the Poughkeepsie Journal (the Associated Press one was a little weak for my tastes), so instead of giving you all my feelings about the game here, I'm giving them there.

What I will tell you, though, is I am ADDICTED. During the first 50 hours that it was on sale in North America, I played 23 of those hours -- and that includes coming in here for a full day of work.

I've unlocked every character except Dry Bowser at this point (I haven't really tried to, either, since I've been so sidetracked playing online), and have tried nearly every vehicle.

My favorite combination, the one that helped me win 14 of 15 matches online last night (YES, 14 of 15, I know, I'm a legend), is Dry Bones with the Magikruiser bike.

And while I am in love with this game, I am very disappointed in the battle mode.

You want more? Read Saturday's Journal! On that page, I will also have a column explaining why Parents need to start parenting and stop protesting over "Grand Theft Auto IV."

Buy Pile Report: DCU #0

I'm sure you've likely heard by now, thanks to the Daily News and their big traps, but here's your SPOILER WARNING any way.

Yes, In DC Universe #0 the Flash comes back from the dead. The Daily News reported Barry Allen was back from the dead, and issue writers Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns all but confirmed it.

The question I have, though, is why is nobody else other than me wondering if Barry is not the only Allen coming back?

To fill you in if you haven't shelled out the 50 Cents for the issue yet, a Flash (that metaphorically returns from the dead with a lightning bolt on the final page) is your narrator through this entire issue. This small spark traveling the cosmos on page one introduces himself simply as "This is Everything. This is Me." Clearly, the spark seems to be the speed force.

The comic is then divided into short, tight, informative segments, most of which will definitely whet your appetite for the next year of DC comics. First The idea of the multiverse is introduced, then, in ONE PAGE no less, the last two crisises are summed up. We get a tease to "Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds," followed by a chilling tease to "Batman: R.I.P" (that you can find online). Then, we get teased to the next year in Wonder Woman comics, in which apparently the cast of "300" will be making an appearance, followed by a great art collage of "Blackest Night." The last two teases are to how the Specter will be featured in "Final Crisis," followed by a look at our new villain, Libra.

It is A LOT of information in a short cheap package. And while, yes, there is very little revealed, it is a great advertisement that you will be entertained by.

So, Why do I think more than just Barry Allen will be returning? Well, during the Legion tease, Superman asks Brainy for a hand in the battle. Brainy, who is taking part what seems to ceremony involving that Wand from the "Lightning Saga" arc, says "I'm attempting to find more than one, Superman..."

Also, On the DC Nation page in every DC book this week, there is a Rip Hunter-esque white board in the photo, with plenty of teases. One of these reads "4 times the Red"... let's see, Jay Garrick, Wally West, Barry Allen, Bart Allen... that's 4, right?

And really, if Barry Allen was the only surprise in Johns and Morrison's backpocket, would they have shown their hands so quickly?

Of course, the question now is how long will these Scarlett Speedsters be back for?

Lastly, and not Flash related, I just found it hilarious today reading this issue that it has 100% NOTHING to do with "Countdown to Final Crisis." Some "bridge" this is. Not that I am complaining, but it's just horribly evident that DC is already doing their damnedest to erase that horrible year-long story from everyone's memory.

Did we see any Monitors here? Nope. Any Jimmy Olsen? Any Forager? Kyle Rayner or Ray Palmer? How about OMAC? Nope. We saw DC's A-List, from their A-List writers. I'll happily erase that story from continuity if everyone else is game.

Buy Pile Report: Everything but 'DCU #0'

I'm saving DC Universe #0 for it's own separate post, because it was just that HUGE.

But there was plenty of good stuff to read this week. X-Men Legacy #210 continues the young series' strong beginning, with Professor Xavier and Exodus doing battle on the psychic plane. While we again take a trip down memory lane, with Exodus showing Xavier all the many ways he has failed, the story again feels very fresh and exciting -- and I'm not even a fan of Xavier to begin with.

Plus, by the end of this issue, we are left with not only a clear understanding of how Xavier has changed since his "death," but also a clear view of where this story is going. I find myself shocked to say I cannot wait for issue #211, even if it seems Magneto won't be along for the ride like I thought he would be.

Green Lantern #30 was strong as well, as Geoff Johns continued to re-tell Hal Jordan's "Secret Origin." And while most of this is ground well covered in the past, its the small changes Johns has inserted to fit his storytelling needs that keep the story exciting. The prophecy of the "Blackest Night" is heavily alluded to, and we learn that it is actually a large reason why Hal became a GL in the first place.

While I understand why many of you out there would not want to bother buying the origin of a character we all know already, the story has been well-written enough so far to warrant a read.

Also from Johns, I loved Action Comics #864. Although, I apologize, last night I wrote this issue would be a one-shot featuring the Toy Man. That's actually next issue. This issue was an epilogue (and a major teaser) for the "Legion of Superheroes" arc.

The vast majority of the story is simply further fleshing out Clark's involvement with the Legion, this time with us readers hearing the story through the skeptical ears of Batman, while toward the end we learn a major villain is watching and waiting for his chance to strike (presumably during the Legion "Final Crisis" tie-in). We also get a FANTASTIC few pages with Starman (my favorite character in comics today), and he's as entertaining as ever.

The one thing about this issue though -- it's almost becoming funny how blatantly DC's better talent, like Johns and Grant Morrison, are COMPLETELY ignoring "Countdown to Final Crisis." It's almost as if they read the story, said "No, that's dumb, we're doing it our way and people will like it better." And you know what? They are right.

Lastly, I want to thank Robert Kirkman. For, in his final issue on the series, Ultimate X-Men #93, he ended it so bafflingly horrible and so incredulously neatly that I, a completist amidst completists, feel alright dropping this series. This issue was beyond bad. For several years now, this series has just been going farther and farther downhill, and with the conclusion of this "Apocalypse" story (which, unbelievably was also a Phoenix story and a Cable story), I feel content with knowing this series is never going to offer me anything worth reading in the near future.

Thank you for this trash, Robert Kirkman.