Sunday, December 21, 2008

This week's video game releases

If THIS isn't the most under-whelming list you've ever seen...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

It's a bit of an unspectacular week, which is surprising, since the next two weeks (Christmas eve and New Year's eve) are historically slow weeks as well. You can be the judge yourself by clicking on THIS LINK to the whole list.

The main storyline of the week is "Secret Invasion" cleanup. If you were like me wondering "Earth won the battle in New York so they won the war? Really?" then you should pickup Avengers: The Initiative #19, where the assembled "Kill Krew" takes on the Skrulls across the nation. Personally, I feel like this issue would have been better off two weeks ago alongside "Secret Invasion #8," but whatayagonna do?

Next, Dark Reign: New Nation #1 updates us on the status of storylines following the Invasion, including the Secret Warriors, the Agents of Atlas, Ronin, Mockingbird and the Skrull Kill Krew. Mighty Avengers #20 does the same for the more recognizable Marvel heroes, with a guest appearance by a Thor who was quite peeved last we saw him two weeks ago.

Lastly, Invincible Iron Man #8 covers the change in status quo for Tony Stark. The man has sure dropped a long way in recent weeks, from commander of S.H.I.E.L.D. to... "most wanted" (according to the title of the story arc). Personally, I could give a damn about Stark since all he's been completely out of character for a couple of years now, but if you've been a fan of the Golden Avenger, this is must-read stuff.

It's also a pretty big week for the X-Universe, highlighted by X-Men: Kingbreaker #1, a book I've been eagerly awaiting since Vulcan took Havok and Lorna hostage. Frankly, think over the crap we've read in "Uncanny X-Men" over the past few months. Wouldn't it have been much better to get this space sequel faster than this? Vulcan, and the Shi'ar storyline is just about the most under-used plot thread in comics, especially since we've been mucking through this Madelyn Prior/Helfire Cult junk on the mothership. I'm looking for "Kingbreaker" to be the X-event of the year.

X-Men Legacy #219 should also be pretty strong, featuring Xavier's reunion with his "Dead Old Stepbrother" (quote taken from the 1989 X-Men cartoon "Pryde of the X-Men").

Over at DC, Supergirl #36 should be the issue of the week. Yes, Supergirl #36! Who would have thunk it a couple of months ago? With the Brainiacbots attacking in Kandor and Kara's Mom acting like Momma Petrelli, the Girl of Steel has a whole lot of stuff going down. If she were in a Will Smith movie, Will would have came in about now, taken off his sunglasses and said "This shit just got real." This issue promises to feature a rampaging Kara, something we haven't seen done well in a long time.

I'm also pretty excited for Robin #181. We still don't know what Spoiler has been up to, we still don't know the fate of Red Robin, we still don't know how the Gotham Police Department is going to resolve it's inner problems -- and did I mention Robin might have been blown up? Robin's latest arc has been fantastic, and a fantastic precursor to the "Battle for the Cowl," and it seems like this issue will be required reading for fans of the Bat-Universe.

Heroes Report: Volume III Finale

So, the third "Volume" of "Heroes" came to an end last night. And I put "Volume" in quotation marks because, it hit me while watching these storylines "climax" last night that this whole season has just felt like one disjointed episode after another, not a cohesive story.

True to form, "Heroes" ended this first half of season three in sea of nonsensical events, not the least of which was technically the beginning of Volume Four: "Fugitives."

(Spoiler Warning)

Let me get this straight. At the end of Season Two, Nathan is all set to tell the world about abilities. He then saw the error of his ways to the point where he technically became the leader of a group trying to give thousands of people abilities. Now, after being thwarted, he wants everyone with abilities to be hunted down. That's a logical character arc. Almost as logical as Peter and Nathan's new relationship.

Speaking of Peter, very convenient that he regained his powers at the last minute, huh? That fit nicely before 10 p.m., eh?

I think the bigger problem, though, is I feel like the writers are so strapped for good ideas that they've decided to bring back one of their alternate future stories and go the route of "Nathan is evil President, Peter leads the resistance, HRG helps kids stay covered, blah blah blah." Why else would they have Nathan positioning himself like he was at the end of this episode?

And, not to get overly geeky here, but I am a firm believer that Sci-Fi needs to adhere to its own set rules in order to make sense. "Heroes" established a rule that the future is very uncertain and can always be shaped, which is where the whole "seeing the future, change the future" recurring storyline comes from. Why, then, do we keep on getting these HORRIBLE stories with Hiro in which he goes into important parts of his past, screws everything up, and somehow everything is still hunky-doory? Again, not to get overly geeky, but Hiro splitting that formula in two is a MAJOR rift in reality.

P.S. Amazing how Daphne learned how to precisely find someone 16 years in the past so quickly, eh? That wrapped up very conveniently before 10 p.m., huh?

And I guess that brings us to "Saw VII." Oh, wait, I mean, that brings us to Sylar in the Company House. I know the fanboys out there probably loved this crap. But come on. Every aspect of this story was directed like a cheesy action flick:

Claire has just six bullets but she wastes one on the phone.
Bennett decides to split the quartet up just to better protect an evil old hag he has no true connection to.
They are held in the building by bars on the windows, and they have someone who could have just MELTED the bars away.
Bennett thinks of melting/shooting the bullet-proof glass only after Claire shows up.
Somehow, a fire in the supposedly impenetrable cells causes the building to explode.
When the building is exploding, Claire and HRG do the running down a hallway with the explosion behind them thing... but there was no easy exit at the end of that hallway, they showed the hallway earlier in the episode. And I like that they did have an easy exit only after Sylar was "dead."

But, of course, Sylar is not dead, since we already have heard all about how Sylar will be meeting his true father in Volume IV.

What made the first season fantastic were two things:

1) Though these characters were "Special," for the most part, their problems were not only realistic, but within the realm of what us normal people could say "we could do that if ...."

2) The writers had a clear vision of the story they wanted to tell. They told it, took their time, and didn't worry about what the Internet had to say since most of the episodes were done already.

Lately, we've gotten nothing but confusing out of reach stories, breaking the set rules of the "Heroes" universe, and overly dramatic (not in a good way) episodes that are clearly pandering to what the Internet "wants" (if it's possible for the Internet to have one cohesive opinion).

And did I mention almost ALL of the new character we met this season were not just dispatched, but they were Killed? Way to ruin potential future stories, boys. When people say they want more death on "Heroes," they're talking about the characters that constantly come back from the dead, not the characters you could easily jettison from the storyline to use another day.

Frankly, I've said it before, I'll say it again, this show is almost beyond saving, as long as there are so few genuine stories and so little tension. What a disappointment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Johns leaving 'Justice Society'

You've likely heard by now, but it does bear repeating, Geoff Johns is leaving "Justice Society" after issue #26. I just read a good blog post on Newsarama's site basically eulogizing Johns' time with the team and his career as a whole. HERE'S A LINK TO IT.

I'm actually pretty broken up about the change, and yes, I do feel like a fanboy for admitting it. Since I was little, the Justice Society has always been my favorite DC team. I think it began with me thinking Jay Garrick's helmet was hilarious, but as my maturity as a reader evolved, so did my understanding of exactly what the JSA means to the DC Universe, and what it means in the mainstream world. Because, just as the team's role is to help along young heroes in the DCU, I cannot think of a team better suited for teaching a young reader about human heroism than the JSA.

No writer has ever understood that purpose like Johns, and because of it, no writer has understood how to best put all their pieces together and create heartfelt stories for the team like Johns. I'm just hoping Johns' time with the team has taught whoever is taking over writing duties what the JSA is all about, because we all need a team like the JSA to brighten the endless sea of "Anti-Life"/"Who can you trust?"/"Who raped Sue Dibney?" flooding the market.

Anyway, that's enough fanboy ranting from me. As always, we'll see what happens and go from there. Here's hoping this isn't another Warren Ellis/Simone Bianchi/"Astonishing X-Men" situation.

Kryptonian Blankets

Get a load of THIS COMMERCIAL on Youtube... is it just me, or does this make people look like they're wearing Kryptonian Clothing?

(and yes, I realize what a dork I am for immediately thinking this)

Buy Pile Report: Final Crisis

I think the most remarkable thing about this week's Final Crisis #5 is that it will thrill fans of the series like no issue before it, and yet it will do nothing to silence the naysayers.

By far, this is the best issue Morrison has produced yet, with progress on several different fronts, like Hal Jordan's trial, Nix Uotoan's exile, Mister Miracle's plan and, oh yeah, Darkseid's rebirth, all of which is being stated in a much clearer manner than Morrison has employed in the past (a product of the delays and possible editorial influence?). And with all those story points, Morrison still managed to fit a good deal of action into the pages, just as much if not more than any issue yet.

The best part is — and it's the answer to the prayers of many of us readers — despite the fact that Morrison is a little more transparent than in the past, he still was able to hold his cards close to the vest when it comes to major story beats. Sure, we may have had a few New-Gods-in-humans identities hit us square in the face this issue, but we still don't know what Mister Miracle's plan is and we even don't really know what is next in Darkseid's plan.

By the way, 17! You'll get it when you read it.

The problem, though, and this is the reason why this issue will not change readers' opinions of the series too much, is this felt a lot more like a fourth issue of seven or maybe even a third issue of seven. It still took Morrison entirely too long to reach this point, and it still feels like there is no way he will be able to adequately pull all his strings together in just the two issues he has left. (and all those delays certainly turned a good deal of readers off, I am sure).

In fact, I spent the entire morning re-reading ALL of the "Final Crisis" books and the tie-in series, just because I had felt like I forgot so much in the interim of the delays. And the fact is, it did read MUCH MUCH better as a complete work... or at least half of a complete work. I think part of the reason for that is "Countdown" is very far away in the rear view mirror. But, that doesn't really matter because if I wasn't such a hardcore DC fan, I'm pretty sure I would have dropped this series pretty quickly, or at least wouldn't have come back after this long break.

Anyway, I do encourage any of you naysayers to give Final Crisis #5 a look, since it was as strong as we all hoped each issue would be. I just fear this is too little, too late.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

CLICK HERE for the full list of comic releases for the week.

When you think about DC crossovers of the past, you think "Crisis on Infinite Earths," and "Legends," and "Zero Hour," and "Final Crisis," and... wait a minute. "Final Crisis" is still going.

Contrary to the popular rumor started by DC's HORRIBLE shipping schedule, "Final Crisis" and all its bi-products is still going on, as the series (finally) makes its return on Wednesday. And if you think I'm exaggerating, I just looked it up -- the last "Final Crisis" book to hit the stands was "Final Crisis: Resist" on NOVEMBER 5!

Still, this week we're treated to the series' big return, making the book I am most looking forward to on Wednesday Final Crisis #5. Just as a quick recap: Humanity is screwed, Darkseid took over for Dan Turpin, Batman is captured, Superman off in the Multiverse -- and they're still printing the Daily Planet. Who said Newspapers were outdated?

So what are we looking for here? Well, Barry Allen still has that plan of his, Mr. Terrific and Alan Scott are still holding down the fort, and we've still yet to see who the biggest bad guy of all is (it's supposedly not Darkseid!).

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 is also scheduled to hit stands, and frankly I think this tie-in series has been stronger than the main book. Cain has risen in the form of Vandal Savage, and he's coming after a little revenge on the Spectre. But more than the action, this series has excelled in putting a few very biblical figures into uncertain, even human, conditions, to the point where they are questioning what they know... and that's always fun to read! Greg Rucka has also succeeded in showing off more of a cross section of what this post-Anti-Life world has been like.

DC is far from finished with their big books this week, though. Justice League #27 marks the return of the Milestone characters to the DC universe, and the JLA is going to meet Icon and Hardware first-hand. Unfortunately, this is also (eventually) going to mean Milestone characters on the JLA roster. And while I know there are plenty of Milestone fans out there, as far as I am concerned there are more than enough good DC characters going unused that we don't need these guys on the JLA. Oh well, I guess.

Booster Gold #15 is Dan Jurgens first issue at the helm since his original series was canceled at issue #25. I am very excited about this, only because I'm always worried when one of my favorite series loses its writer (in this case, Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz left after the 12th issue), so the fact that Jurgens, the series artist and the character's creator, is taking over is just about as good as it could get. On top of that, this issue features a fan-favorite character, which shows off the value of time-traveling stories, Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibney. Gotta love the old JLI connection.

Speaking of old creators coming back, Detective Comics #851 is the first of a two-part story (part two is "Batman #683") written by Denny O'Neil! The story, called "Last Days of Gotham" under the "Last Rites" banner, promises to look at how Gotham City has changed in the absence of Batman... who we still aren't sure of his fate... should be a good read, nonetheless.

And all that doesn't even mention Action Comics #872, part seven of "New Krypton," which will feature Kal freeing other cities from Brainiac's ship and Lex Luthor experimenting on Brainiac himself... which is just never a smart idea.

There isn't NEARLY as much from Marvel this week, although there is one issue I am guessing just about every mainstream comic fan is going to have to pick up, Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1. Brian Bendis promised this issue would better explain what each member of this dark Illuminati (I am sick of that word) has to gain, which is good, since I don't see what Emma Frost or Doctor Doom are doing there (since Emma is supposed to be a good guy and Doom shouldn't be lowering himself to their level), but it should still be an interesting explanation. Of course, we won't get the explanation I really want from Bendis, which is how he could possibly screw up a great idea like "Secret Invasion" so royally.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This week's video game releases

The just-before-the-holidays slow period begins. CLICK THIS LINK for the list of video games out this week.


CLICK THIS LINK to go to and see the new upcoming innovative game from 5th Cell (the company where, to my knowledge, Our Lady of Lourdes graduate Steve Chiavelli works).

It's called "Scribblenauts," and where 5th Cell's previous title "Drawn to Life" invites players to drawn their own characters and vehicles, this game supposedly will let us write down any tool we can think of to solve a problem, and the tool will come to our player.

In the trailer, the examples shown range from using a ladder to get a star out of a tree to using a Beaver to cut the tree down to using a donut to lure a cop to get the star down for you.

How cool does this sound (in theory)? The game is set for a Fall 2009 release.

I e-mailed Chiavelli tonight and I'm hoping that he A) Is working on this game and B) can give us an inside interview. We'll see!

Buy Pile Report: Secret Invasion

Again, I apologize for the tardiness, but I did want to make sure to get on here and weigh in on Secret Invasion #8.

Coming into this event, I was burnt toast when it came to Marvel's events. "House of M" was a miserable failure that took entirely too long. "Civil War" felt rushed, overly theatrical and miniscule in scope. And could "World War Hulk" be anymore anti-climactic? All the while, Marvel has pumped tie-in issue after tie-in issue onto the market.

And my biggest problem with all of these tie-ins was that while the stories took 10 minutes to read, all told, none of them had a true ending, opting instead of roll the end of the story into the upcoming Marvel books — which I would be OK with, if Marvel then took some time to explore the world those consequences had created.

After "Civil War," Marvel only took a year or so (which is about two weeks in comic time nowadays) to explore this Registered World. After "World War Hulk," just about nothing was changed.

Which brings us to "Secret Invasion," a tie-in which I simply could not resist, despite how burned-out I was, just because the potential of this Skrull inserection was endless.

Eight issues and countless tie-ins later, I am more then underwhelmed. Brian Bendis successfully established a tone of mistrust (I refuse to use the tagline Marvel shoved down our throats) and, in the first couple of issues and tie-ins, established a tone of hopelessness.

But then Marvel refused to live in that world. Suddenly Reed Richards showed up, fresh off of his torture, with a magic gun to show who is a skrull and who is a human. What luck! Suddenly Tony Stark, fresh off being drugged and sick as a dog, had a backup suit and he was magically cured of his ills.

It all just wrapped up way too easily. And instead of being wrapped up in a blaze of glory, all of this issue was a setup for Marvel's next big thing "Dark Reign." The whole issue was narrated past-tense in order to set up the "Dark Reign" reveal.

Is it too much to ask for a contained story that actually fulfills its promise?

All this series was was a good setup and one good battle, followed by a promotion to spend more money. Say what you will about DC's events, but at least they FEEL over, even if plotlines carry over from one event to the next. Marvel just refuses to pay anything off, even when it has a GREAT idea.

No, check that, Brian Bendis refuses to pay anything off. No wonder the only thing he writes that I can stomach is "Ultimate Spider-man." The man has milked more money out of comic book readers and has given less in return than any writer in history.

Heroes Report (finally): The Eclipse Part 2

I haven't had very much time this week (as the tardiness of this post shows), but what I really wanted to do for this post is go into Microsoft Paint and put together a little image of Hiro on a motorcycle jumping over a shark tank.

You get what I mean.

As if this third season has not been shaky enough, I believe television historians (yes, they exist) will look back on this past Monday's episode of "Heroes" as the classic "Jump the Shark" moment.

Honestly, folks, Seth Green and Brecken Meyer as comic book geeks guiding Hiro on his way? Is this honestly what we've come to? Two comic book shop workers reading "9th Wonders" to tell the audience that powers will return at the end of the eclipse? Really?

I mean, it's bad enough that these plot-device issues of "9th Wonders" should not exist, and it's even worse that somehow This Issue is suddenly the new last issue of the series and there's this ridiculous storyline of finding this bike messenger, that's bad enough, but did these writers honestly felt the need to pander to the fanboys out there with this comic book shop meta-moment instead of moving the plot along in a meaningful manner?

Look down, Hiro, there's a shark below!

And on the topic of bad writing, for the sake of argument, let's go along with the idea that eclipses cause powers, and let's go along with the idea eclipses can likewise take away powers, and let's even go along with the idea that an eclipse can happen simultaneously everywhere on the planet... you're trying to tell me in all these years of people having powers, they've never noticed they are powerless during eclipses? What about Adam Monroe? The guy shriveled to dust as soon as Daddy Petrelli took his powers... shouldn't Monroe have turned to dust at the first eclipse after he turned the age of, oh, 200 or so?

If you shut your brain off this week, there were certainly some fun moments. Unfortunately, upon ANY examination, these moments don't hold up.

1) Bennett had a kill shot on Sylar at the end of last episode, and instead he apparently watched Sylar and Elle do the deed before taking his shot? And when Bennett finally did kill Sylar, he didn't cut out the back of his head (the only truly vulnerable part on a healer)?

2) The whole Sylar killing his girlfriend Elle bit was cool and all, but she had YET ANOTHER change of personality right before that, trying to tell him he could be a good guy again. Wasn't she just encouraging him to be bad?

3) Sure, the idea of Claire having no immune system is cool, but since she supposedly got her powers from the eclipse, shouldn't she have built up like 17 years of an immune system before the eclipse?

4) Peter takes a gun and looks like a pro... with what experience, exactly? Isn't he a nurse?

5) Nathan watches a man with powers turn a country into slaves... he then decides the only answer to the world's problems is giving more people powers. I like the whole idea of him being used by people left and right, but he's not THAT STUPID.

And now this coming Monday's episode is being touted as the major climax. Of What? If anybody would like to give me an answer, be my guest, because right now I feel like there has been absolutely no cohesive build up to anything worth paying off in this supposed big important episode.

I may be done with this show very very soon, and I don't think I'm the only one, if my Shark friend has anything to say about it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This week's comic book release list

OK, it's been another monster week for me, so I apologize again for being tardy and uninformative. I promise, starting tomorrow (it's Wednesday night at 3 a.m. right now), I will get back on the ball with not only the Buy Pile Report, but also the tardy Heroes Report (come on, with as horrible an episode as we got on Monday, could I not weigh in?).

For now, check on THIS LINK to the list of this week's comic book releases.

Here are the Highlights:

1) Batman #682: The Beginning of "Batman Last Rites" ... don't you need an explanation as much as I do?

2) Justice Society #21: The penultimate issue of the "Kingdom Come" sequel. Will the JSA worship GOG?!?

3) Secret Invasion #8: The big throwdown finishes, but who will survive? And, will the skrulls stay on Earth for the foreseeable future?

4) X-Infernus #1: My favorite crossover of all-time gets the sequel treatment 20 years later. I didn't need to read the horrible 14-page preview online a few days ago to know I am VERY uncertain about this one ... still can't turn away, though.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Funeral for a Friend

CLICK THIS LINK for the full epic tale of one fan's Xbox 360 funeral service, one of the funnier bi-products of the Three Red Lights plague sweeping the world. Here's one of the pics, to give you a taste:

I think my favorite part of all of this are the captions. "Master Chief was strong and supportive the entire funeral, but when all systems said their final goodbyes and left, Master Chief couldn't keep his composure any longer."