Friday, May 29, 2009

McDuffie off "Justice League"

Dwayne McDuffie has done some tremendous superhero work in the past, for which all of us geeks should be thankful.

His run on "Justice League of America," however, has been pretty atrocious, for a number of reasons. And while one of those reasons was an abundance of editorial-mandated crossovers slowing his ability to tell a story, that doesn't temper my enthusiasm at all today at this news:

Dwayne McDuffie has been removed as writer of "Justice League of America."

(And the peasants rejoiced)

Check out the full story, with his explanation, at THIS LINK to Newsarama.

Now all I need is for Marvel to remove Matt Fraction and Warren Ellis from its top X-Men books and I can stop crying myself to sleep.

Oh, and DC, if I can make a suggestion? Two words: Keith Giffen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This week's comic book expectations

Plenty to like this week, from a new "Green Lantern" to much more "Dark Reign." Check out the full list at THIS LINK.

However, it's late and I'm cranky. I have been all day, can't figure it out. I figure, a good night's sleep will cure my crankiness and fulfill my quota for cliches. So, we're going to do this up lightning round style.

Avengers: The Initiative #24: "Dark Reign" continues wreaking havoc on our Marvel heroes, as the Shadow Initiative is left on its own to fight off some gruesome baddies this week.

Green Lantern #41: Do I really need to sell this one to you? More on the history of the Vega system, more on Hal's Blue predicament and more from our new favorite bad guy, Larfleeze.

Guardians of the Galaxy #14: More "War of Kings" fighting, and after the throwdown we saw in the last issue of "War of Kings" proper, I'm hoping for much more on Guardian's change of heart.

Incredible Hercules #129: Hercules and Amadeus Cho head into hell. Need I repeat myself? If there's one thing you can give this series, it's originality.

Justice League of America #33: Honestly, I don't know if this book can get any worse, but we can always hope this story featuring Starbreaker sucking the life out of Doctor Light might somehow be stomachable.

Justice Society of America #27: The first issue without Geoff Johns in years, but not yet the start of a new era. Jerry Ordway will be filling in on this issue and the next before Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges kick off their run. This story will feature one of the more neglected characters of late, Obsidian.

New Avengers #53: Yes, it's been a few months, and yet the New Avengers are still searching for a new Sorcerer Supreme. Why do I feel like this is going to be anticlimactic?

Superman #688: Here's hoping James Robinson's run picks up a little speed, and judging by the solicitation, it could. Mon-El losing his powers? The Science Police helping out the Legion of Superheroes? Sounds promising.

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #6: Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an illusion! This issue actually exists! How many years has this mini been in the works?

Wonder Woman #32: Just two issues left in the "Rise of the Olympian" arc, and something tells me this story will change things for Princess Diana in a big way.

X-Force #15: "Messiah War" rolls on as Cable and company are in deep trouble. Stryfe is about to learn exactly why Hope (who thinks Stryfe is Cable himself) is so special, Bishop is about to go nuclear, and Archangel is never in good shape when Apocalypse is around. I'm looking for a big twist in this issue.

X-Men: Legacy #224: The final issue of the current "Salvage" arc also looks to be the final issue of Mike Carey's current direction on the book. Look for the whole Professor X chapter to close here and an all-new team to emerge at the end of this one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blackest Night Detective: GL #6-9

No, you didn't miss any installments of this series, with no detectable clues in the first few issues of the proper "Green Lantern" series, I decided not to include another post until I had found something to report.

Well, finally in the sixth issue (and final issue of Geoff Johns' first arc) we got something. By the way, CLICK HERE for the last installment, which continued looking at "Green Lantern Corps.: Recharge."

Green Lantern #6 -- It's often the case with long story arcs (and yes, despite current story conventions, I still say a non-event six-issue arc is long), the last issue will include plenty of foreshadowing. In this particular case, Black Hand makes an appearance to spout off a bunch of clues. Here's one, Black Hand to Hal Jordan: "You think you're strong. But death is stronger. It is the pure power of the far end of the emotional spectrum. The emptiness of space. The Blackest Night." If you picked up on the fact that the emotional spectrum would spawn other corps, clues from past issues, then this sentence would state the existence of the Black Lanterns, clear as day.

Later, Black Hand does some more talking: "Death has power... It's the true color of the Universe. The most wonderful color. It's M-M-My Color."

There also may have been a clue as to what will happen in "Blackest Night," unless I am forgetting a storyline I should remember. Hector Hammond is talking a little gibberish at one point here and says, "Jordan ... the time ... do you remember ... the renegade Guardian ... andddd Carol ... Carol Ferris ... Pretty little girlll ..." The only renegade Guardian I can remember is Scar, unless Hector speaks of the Zamarons. So could Hector have been seeing the future?

Green Lantern #7 -- This issue features a couple of our keywords, both in reference to Mongol (currently the acting leader of the Sinestro Corps.).

First, Mongol's sister: "He hopes to take Earth for himself. Hope is his weakness." Could the Blue Lanterns be taking the big guy down soon?

Then, Hal: "I can't let him terrorize anyone else. I can't let his name become something people fear." Clear foreshadowing that the big yellow softie would weld the yellow light.

Green Lantern #8 -- Under the influence of the Black Mercies, we get a look at Hal's would-be perfect life. Of the most interest to me? Sinestro was not only still a Green Lantern, not only still Hal's better, but he was also Hal's friend. In recent issues we've seen Hal commit to giving Sinestro a death sentence, but we see the true desire of his heart here: Hal Jordan wants to have Sinestro back on the side of good, and with the Black Lanterns' reign on the horizon, you can bet we're going to see Hal and Sinestro get that chance to team up again.

Green Lantern #9 -- At the end of this issue, Hal gives his ring to Batman and explains how he would need to embrace his pain and fear in order to use the ring to its fullest. And yes, Bruce shows he has the ability to "overcome great fear," generating an image of his parents ... but he also said he doesn't want to put his pain behind him, as he gives Hal back the ring. So what does this mean for us? Well, IF Bruce takes part in "Blackest Night," then we know he could hypothetically use a green ring. But, we also know the sight and thought of his dead parents overcomes his willpower, which would be a problem if Thomas and Martha show up all zombiefied.

Either way, that does it for me today. Remember new comics are out on THURSDAY this week due to the holiday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

This week's video game releases

We're settling into that nice spring one-big-game-per-week sort of routine. This week it's "Infamous" (for you PS3 owners). Check out the full list of releases HERE.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Tiger Woods 10" Xbox 360 Demo

I got a chance to play the demo for "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10" for a good hour this afternoon, and it's definitely worth a check.

If you've played either of the last two versions of the game, you will be able to be a pro at this one right away. While the demo includes two holes from Bethpage Black and Turnberry (one stereotypical U.S. Open-type course and one stereotypical European links-style course, respectively) to give you a taste of the different terrains and physics you will encounter, most of this new version of "Tiger Woods" feels exactly the same as the last two.

Needless to say, I (and I'm sure most of you will be able to) can birdie each hole consistently already. And I am hoping, hoping HOPING that's because this demo was intentionally set on a low difficulty level, because I was mis-hitting my driver often and long irons occasionally, and yet the ball didn't go too far from its intended destination. But, as I said, I really doubt this could be as difficult a level as EA is offering.

The only real change in the on-the-course gameplay is a new putting meter which shows you exactly when you have to stop your putter to make the ball reach your target in perfectly flat conditions. At first I was very distracted by this, but after a few holes I realized this doesn't change the fact that you still have to set your own target and do your own accounting for elevation and green conditions, it only shows you exactly when you have to stop your putter, which is helpful.

However, I cannot help but feel like this feature is cheating, just as I feel the ability to see the optimum putting line is cheating. If you need to hit three-quarters of a nine iron, the game doesn't tell you where you have to stop your club. So why should the game be able to show us where to stop our putter for that? It just feels cheap to me, but I guess I'll just have to get used to the new generation of "Tiger Woods" golf.

The other thing this demo shows off is a bit of the new "Tournament Feel." While you're playing, you'll receive text updates on screen when someone close to the top of the leaderboard scores high or low on a hole. I have a feeling it's really going to add to the off-line portion of the game, giving tournaments a much more competitive feel with less isolation.

Overall, as I am every year, I'm excited for the new "Tiger Woods." I just wish we didn't have to wait another three weeks for the full version, since I am itching to get back on the links now!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Buy Pile Report

And so, the Cape and Cowl have been passed on and we are ... underwhelmed. Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 highlights this week's books, if only for it's status, because as I said, the book is underwhelming. While I'm not looking to spoil anything for anybody, I'll just say that there was no twists on the consensus predicted new Batman, the consensus predicted new Robin and the likely identity of Red Robin.

But that's not the underwhelming part. While I appreciate a good story twist as much as the next guy, in cases such as these, replacing an iconic hero, the right choice should be valued over the surprising one. If you remember back a couple of years, it was the same path we walked with Ed Brubaker while anointing Bucky Barnes the new Captain America. The underwhelming part was ultimately the execution. The first issue basically restated all we already knew. The second issue was a huge fight between Tim Drake and Jason Todd, while Dick hemmed and hawed. The third issue? You got it, a huge fight between Dick and Jason. Add in some looks at the effect Black Mask was having on Gotham's stability (or lack thereof) and you have yourself a full mini-series.

Only it left me feeling like the whole thing could have been done much more organically, and I think that is because of Brubaker's aforementioned tale. While Brubaker slowly moved Bucky through a series of events explaining to us exactly why Bucky was the perfect choice to carry on Steve Rogers' legacy (and along the way explained it to us), it seemed DC simply could not wait to put someone into Batman's shoes.

Overall, between the main "Battle for the Cowl" mini and the one shots, there were about 10 issues of space with which Dick Grayson could have grown into his new responsibility. Instead, Dick rejects the Cowl in one issue, then watches Tim Drake take on the responsibility and it suddenly clicks that he needs to take on the job. Not exactly a heartfelt journey 'ole Dick took us on, huh? And while this certainly hasn't been a horrible three-issue mini -- we've seen some nice fighting, after all -- it all just felt like one big extended foregone conclusion. I bet DC could have just skipped this whole "Battle for the Cowl" and just opened a new chapter in the Batman legacy with a quick "six weeks later" tag in front of Dick Grayson's first issue as Batman. But wait, that would have cost DC those big event-comics dollars, huh?

Speaking of Captain America -- and, for that matter, speaking of underwhelming -- Captain America #50 was Marvel's most-anticipated book of the week. It's Bucky's birthday, and as such, the new Cap is in a nostalgic mood. The only problem is, for a change, Brubaker uncovers no new information for us here. One of the things I've really appreciated over the last 10 issues or so of this series is Brubaker's ability to subtly inject thoughts and feelings into brief scenes, making the most of his space while still managing to let the story breathe. However, he re-covers all of that same ground here.

Bucky still worships how awesome Steve Rogers was? Check. The last time Bucky felt true camaraderie was in World War II? Check. Bucky still regrets his Winter Soldier days and is doing what he can to make amends? Check. Bucky has the support of good friends helping him through his guilt, even if he sometimes feels he doesn't deserve it? Check. They're all great story beats, but I was expecting much more here, not simply a book that may be looked at as a jumping on point. (Which, by the way, this was a great jumping on point for new readers).

I'm ready for the next phase of Bucky's story, and this was not it. Oh well, it could have been worse...

It could have been the next installment of the comic fading faster than Marty McFly's family: Uncanny X-Men #510! I don't know where to start here -- and I haven't looked in my archives, but I think this is very much what I had to say about last issue. The characterizations were ATROCIOUS. From Hisako suddenly being a frightened child (she did fight aliens on an unknown world, you know), to the Cuckoos looking to get into a 4-way with Josh Foley (What the hell was the point of this?!?), Matt Fraction again reflected a complete lack of understanding for who his characters are.

The storyline was not much better. Last issue, the "Sisterhood" attacked the X-Men's San Francisco home. This issue they concluded the onslaught, and we found out why at the end. Apparently, Wolverine kept a lock of Jean Grey's hair and they wanted it. You're trying to tell me all this fighting was so they could get a lock of hair? And, setting aside the fact that they could have likely snuck their way in and out of the place much easier than they did, that was the only way to get Jean's DNA? What a practice in meaningless writing.

But, nothing Fraction bumbled up was anywhere close to being as bad as the art. For one, this issue featured about 12 different women, and they ALL LOOKED THE SAME! I couldn't tell who was fighting who! For another thing, none of the action was anywhere close to being intelligible, except for when Land went way over the top with needless splash pages. If he were a better artist, maybe he wouldn't need to splash so much, huh? I can honestly say I've never been so confused while reading a comic. Between the red-lit panels and the shifts to the psychic plane with no explanation, to that part where Wolverine was fighting Psylocke, then was suddenly confronting the Red Queen, then was suddenly back to fighting Psylocke, Greg Land's art was HORRENDOUS!

Even the rare good ideas in this book -- and by my count there was exactly one -- was ruined by a lack of description. I'm willing to bet most readers missed exactly why that image was Cyclops' "hell" -- every person who was in that room died on his watch. I like the idea, but there was no explanation or bridge to or from the idea. Anyone who gives this issue anything more than a failing grade does not deserve to read comic books anymore.

Everytime I try to write about this series lately I get too mad to go on. That's it, I'm done. Wanted more? Well, blame Marvel. Boosh.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This week's comic book expectations

It's a bit of a slow week with a couple of highlights, but at least we get the end of "Battle for the Cowl." Take a look at THIS LINK.

Yes, Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 will finally reveal who takes over the mantle from Bruce Wayne... until he eventually comes back. Will it be heavily favored Dick Grayson (who seems to match perfectly the personality of the Batman we've seen in previews for "Batman and Robin")? Will it be Tim Drake (who seems to match perfectly the personality of the titular character we've seen in previews for "Red Robin")? Will it be Jason Todd (who seems pretty dead-set on becoming an official addition to Batman's rogues gallery)? Will it be Alfred (Who would need to shave his trademark mustache in order to pull off the look)? And, by the way, will Tim Drake even live through his second-issue impalement (pretty sure he will, yeah)?

Just like most of you out there, my money is on Dick taking over the family business, even if that does conflict with his previous characterization in "Prodigal." However, Dan Didio said recently he is surprised nobody has guessed the identity of the new Batman yet (and Dan ALWAYS tells the truth ... you guys get sarcasm, right?). We'll find out this week, and then hopefully also get a better understanding of who will be staring in the many new Batman-family series coming out soon.

Supergirl #41 is probably DC's second most-anticipated book of the week, concluding the "Who is Superwoman?" arc. Last issue we solved that mystery (in somewhat dubious fashion ... ready for a spoiler? .... it's Lois Lane's sister) which means now writer Sterling Gates has a lot of explaining to do, starting with how the hell Li'l Lane has all these powers.

What has been more interesting than uncovering who Superwoman is, though, has been Gates' showing us who Supergirl is. Last issue was another big leap in re-characterizing the Maid of Might. While she was still an innocent, impetuous teenager, Kara Zor-El showed intelligence, cunning and resourcefulness in battling Reactron. Hopefully Gates is able to further show us exactly what kind of hero she is in this final showdown issue.

Other top titles from DC this week include Brave and the Bold #23 (Booster Gold teaming with Magog, written by Dan Jurgens, equals a story with loads of potential), Trinity #51 (the penultimate issue of a decent and far-out series) and Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1 (if for some Godawful reason you're actually interested in the Super Young Team).

From Marvel, we have to begin with Captain America #50. While Bucky Barnes may be getting overshadowed a bit by other individual titles and big events (Green Lantern's "Blackest Night", Superman's "New Krypton," etc.), Ed Brubaker still has big plans for the new Captain America, and he is far from done telling the story. I'm particularly hopeful for this month's story (and no, it has nothing to do with the "milestone" of a 50th issue). This issue shows us Bucky's birthday, a day that inevitably forces us all to reflect on our pasts, and if there is one thing Bucky is good at lately, it's reflecting on his past. I expect Brubaker to deliver a whopper of a character study here, tying together Bucky's time with Cap, Bucky's time as Cap and his time as Winter Soldier.

Planet Skaar Prologue #1 may also be worth a read, as it should serve as a good jumping on point for new readers to the character before Hulk's son reaches Earth. Reed Richards will serve as our proxy in this issue, as he himself has just learned the news of Hulk's progeny and his impending trip to our planet. Expect loads of backstory in a short amount of time and a bit of a lead in to what could be a good action-packed storyline.

Other top titles from Marvel this week include Fantastic Four #566 (the first part of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's final arc on the title, and their departure could not come sooner for me), Thunderbolts #132 (a new shady killer joins the Thunderbolts, always a good time!), and X-Men Forever: Alpha (Collecting X-Men #1-3 from the early 90s, and a new short story by Chris Claremont, all leading into the "X-Men Forever" series proper).

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Hidden connection" stories. Why?!?

I was reading Newsarama's advance look at Marvel's August solicitations today at THIS LINK and something caught my interest -- and no, it wasn't Marvel milking yet another pseudo-milestone with "Daredevil #500."

Written by ED BRUBAKER
Pencils & Cover by STEVE EPTING
Variant Cover by GERALD PAREL
70th Anniversary Party Variant by PHIL JIMENEZ
The centerpiece of Marvel's 70th Anniversary celebration! Who is the mysterious old man who lies on his deathbed in a hospital in 1939, and how does his passing mark the beginning of the first heroic age of the Marvel Universe — and signal the rise of the superhumans? Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting unveil the defining story of the origin of the Marvel Universe, revealing the hidden connections that unite the earliest costumed champions, and whose reverberations are felt dramatically into the present day!

Am I the only one feeling like lately we're getting waaaay too many of these "it turns out the whole universe is connected!" stories? I'm ok with it on a limited basis, like finding out one character happened to be a part of another one character's past (the first such example is how Geoff Johns used Superman's past recently to validate Brainiac), but do we really need these big sweeping "everyone is connected!" stories?

I feel like it started with the second season of "Heroes" -- and look how well that turned out! I don't remember anyone feeling the need to make all of their main characters interconnected until Tim Kring and company decided to make every stranger who met each other in season one suddenly a long-lost cousin or test-tube relative of everyone else on the show. And frankly, I felt like in trying to do that, all realism and potential for the show's future was tossed out the window.

And yet, shortly after that, Marvel went and printed the "Ultimatum" crossover, making everyone in the Ultimate Marvel universe (which was nicely and intentionally devoid of heavy continuity), a part of each other's origins. Coincidentally (or maybe consequently) it was written by then-"Heroes" writer Jeph Loeb. The idea was a bomb, the crossover is a bomb and most of us who read multiple "Ultimate" titles up until that point are stuck wondering why Marvel would do such a thing.

But now we have this "The Marvels Project," which apparently is going to try to do it all over again, this time with the mainstream characters we know and love. What's the point? As I said back when "Ultimatum" was beginning, who is crying out for all of our characters to be connected? Does that notion really interest anybody, other than event-hungry publishers?

At it's heart, it's one big retcon, the dirty word in comicdom. Don't companies do their darnest to discourage the idea that retcons of any sort exist? So why are we getting so many of these horrible waste of time "everyone's connected!" stories?

You vote with your wallets. And companies don't seem to care about quality as much as profits. So do us all a favor and, despite the all-star creative team of Brubaker and Epting, PASS on this event.

Blackest Night Detective: GLC Recharge #4-5

If you missed the last installment, it's at THIS LINK. Otherwise, let's jump right into it, because a MAJOR clue was on the very first page of "Green Lantern Corps.: Recharge #4"...

GLC: Recharge #4 -- One of the hunters: "The lanterns are doomed. Wherever they turn, only death waits for them in Vega!" This hunter could have been talking about the skirmish in Vega he was having with the Corps, or foreshadowing "Agent Orange," or foreshadowing "Blackest Night." a Three-fer!

Unfortunately, that's all there was to speak of in this issue, other than a little more Kyle Rayner/Sorenik interaction that may point to their eventual coupling.

That's right, I used the term "Coupling." Classier than "Hooking Up."

GLC: Recharge #5 -- Other than more anti-Vega talk, there was very little to speak of here ... which, I suppose, I should be happy about, since this probably means I'll be missing very few clues while not reading anymore GLC until the "Sinestro Corps. War."

However, there was one speech by Sorenik Natu that I did find interesting... "Oa and the corps are only wounded. Like you, they will heal. Maybe not in a few days, but soon the scars will fade. And then, like you, the corps will be stronger than ever." I only am intrigued by this speech because of inclusion of a key word of ours -- scars. As in, the evil Guardian who is helping bring "Blackest Night" along, Scar. The only difference is, clearly in Scar's case, those marks did not heal, helping push the little blue traitor over the edge. So I doubt this was meant to mean anything, but you never know.

This week's video game release list

"Punch-Out!!" for Wii. Need I say more? OK, I do. Check out THIS LINK for the full list of what you can get your grubby little hands on this week.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Advance look at Wii MotionPlus

The Associated Press gave us an advance look at Wii MotionPlus at THIS LINK.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"600th issue" milestones

I don't point this out because of my reputation as a slight DC fanboy, I point it out because it was only a few weeks ago that I called out Marvel for their convenient numbering of so many #600 issues lately. THIS LINK takes you to a Newsarama interview with DC chief Dan Didio, where you will find this tidbit:

NRAMA: We’re out of questions for this time, but there was an interesting fact was pointed out in the thread, and we have to admit that we haven’t double-checked the math, so we’re not sure if this is correct or not, but according to one reader, issue #45 of the current Wonder Woman series will be the 600th issue of Wonder Woman published by DC. Anything special planned for it?

DD: Well, since it’s not the actual number of the book, and we have no plans to re-number books just for an “event,” so no, nothing at this particular time, but I do hope that the Wonder Woman story going on right now has the feeling of being worthy of such an auspicious achievement.

Blackest Night Detective: GLC Recharge #1-3; PLUS: spoilers on a yet-to-be-mentioned Black Lantern

Although I don't have many of the pre-"Sinestro Corps. War" issues of "Green Lantern Corps.," what I do have I'll be re-reading for this little detective project. So without further ado, we dive into "Green Lantern Corps.: Recharge."

GLC Recharge #1 -- When Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner first go back to Oa, they meet other veteran lanterns and speak somewhat cryptically about the Vega System and the Controllers, something that would have pointed toward it's Orange Lantern involvement later on.

Wanting to leave the Corps. Soranik is told there are only three ways to leave: Failure (leaving), death or honorable death. Could Miss Soranik be dying before "Blackest Night" is said and done? How about this one -- a few panels later, Guy calls her "angry." Kyle quickly corrects him and says she is afraid, but when anger means so much to the Corps nowadays, you never know what could be a clue...

Another mention of the Vega system comes later when the Guardians mention a review of their pact grows necessary.

In the last page, Kilowog says "According to the Guardians, the whole damn universe is about to change." Now, I don't remember this story as well as I could, so maybe this makes sense in the context of the immediate story, but could this have been a mammoth clue for the future? And if so, I don't remember the Guardians ever acknowledging they knew the prophecy would come to pass, especially to a lantern. Oh well, guess I will read on and see what this line meant.

GLC Recharge #2 -- Nothing much of note here, other than another reminder that the Vega System is off-limits. Apparently it played a much bigger role in this storyline than I remember.

Also, another reminder which I know has been beaten to death already, Kyle "saw" his dead girlfriend Alex here, which, of course, makes me wonder if we'll be seeing her corpse in a matter of months.

GLC Recharge #3 -- This issue was also light on clues (as should really be expected out of the books only co-written by Geoff Johns), but we get a nice big chunk of the Vega System here. And while the hunters we meet live by a code of sharing their prey, one of the hunters -- Fatality -- uses one of our keywords often here when talking about wanting to kill Kyle Rayner herself: "MINE!" It's enough to make me wonder if Larfleeze isn't the only Orange Lantern we're going to meet.

On a side note, though, right after writing this post I spotted a preview look at the Superman titles for August on Newsarama, and at THIS LINK you will see a major "Blackest Night" spoiler...

You ready for this?

Sure you want to be spoiled?

"Black Lantern Alexander Luthor."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Buy Pile Report

Well, after a week off, I am back. Did you miss me?

Don't answer that.

Anyway, I'm sure you didn't need my Tuesday night look at this week's comic book releases to know how slow a week it is, so you likely also don't need me to tell you this report will have to be brief. After all, I only picked up four issues today, and one of them was the either-you're-reading-by-now-or-you're-not "Trinity." Is that too many words to hyphenate into one sentence? Screw it, I've been off for a week, we're playing by my rules tonight.

Green Lantern Corps. #36 was without a doubt the best book of this slow week, even if a good half of it was just a couple of talking heads. Sinestro tells us all a story which will doubtlessly pay dividends once "Blackest Night" rolls around, the story of how Soranik is actually Sinestro's daughter (which, strangely, I wasn't surprised in the least to find out). And while I am looking forward to new-boyfriend Kyle Rayner's reaction to this news, the most intriguing part of this story was Sinestro's insistence that Father and Daughter would be fighting on the same side (and he said the same Corps.) very soon (presumably in "Blackest Night"), which just adds to the speculation that Sinestro will become a Green Lantern ally or a flat-out Green Lantern once again.

While the prison riot continued on Oa, we also took a trip back to Daxam, where Sodam Yat attempted to take down Mongol mano-a-mano but was denied access to the "Ion power." Which leads me to my one problem with this issue and my main problem with the Green Lantern books of late — what the heck are the rules of using these emotion-Gods like Ion and Parallax and why the heck are we bothering with them? I can only hope next's issue answers some of my questions as Sodam/Ion take on Mongol again.

Action Comics #877 was a slight step down from Greg Rucka's brilliant beginning on the book — and that doesn't even begin to worry about the fact that this issue's cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story, and I still can't make sense of what it's supposed to be. While last issue was a wall-to-wall action brawl between Thara, Chris and Chris' biological mommy, we get a lot more talking and storyline here, but not all of it is good. For one, Chris and Lois have a tearful reunion, only for as short a time as child Chris spent with Lois before he was aged, I just didn't buy all that emotion. And later, when Chris goes back to talk to his biological mother, he suddenly has a plan on how to deal with her non-violently, the likes of which would make Superman proud. As I said before, I just didn't buy it.

The rest of the issue is spent watching General Lane track the Kryptonian activity on Earth, and frankly, for the amount of commotion as Chris was making, I don't blame Lane at all for finding him and shooting him out of the sky. Heck, Lois was dumb enough to leave Thara out on her roof resting out in the open.

Greg Rucka's issues have all been examples of good, intelligent writing with not as well known characters, up until this point. Instead, this felt like he was doing anything he could to advance the story to where the Superman line as a whole needed it to be, and the book consequently suffered.

That's about it for the abbreviated Buy Pile Report. Now that my break is over, expect the next installment of the "Blackest Night Detective" coming real soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Buy Pile Report

Believe it or not, for as much as needed to be done today, it's been slow here in the office for hours. Believe it or not, that's the bad news, since the only thing I dislike more than work is boredom.

The good news is, I didn't have to be bored for long with all of today's comics just sitting on my desk waiting to be read. Which, leads me to another good news/bad news situation. Nothing was particularly spectacular today. And nothing was very bad either. Am I middle of the road enough for you?

Cable #14 continued the "Messiah War" crossover with "X-Force," and after a action-packed but story-light issue last time around, we finally got the plot moving a little bit here. A good portion of the issue is spent in Stryfe's chamber as he interrogates Warpath. The story takes a turn, though when Bishop has to slightly double-cross Stryfe in order to try and kill Hope. And yes, Bishop did take that shot without much moral trouble, continuing the character's now pretty much irredeemable downward spiral. The highlight of the issue, though, comes with the implications the final page may create, a reveal that I don't care to spoil for any of you, and no, it's not that Stryfe is Cable's clone.

There was also an interesting side-story with Archangel and Apocalypse that didn't amount to anything ... yet. Frankly, this crossover has started to lose a little luster for me, as there just hasn't been enough of a plot. Apocalypse is my hope to be that monkey wrench needed to let this crossover fulfill the weighty promise the first couple of issues had.

Also from Marvel, War of Kings #3 was also pretty good. And again, it was mainly due to the promise for the future. We spend a lot of this issue on Attilian discussing the previously-undiscussed "Uplift Program," a promise Black Bolt apparently made to Ronan to use the Terrigen Mists to evolve all of the Kree. Talk about an idea that could change the landscape of the Marvel Universe ... if Maximus were able to get it to work. And while there is an emphasis here that maybe the Inhumans are not looking out for the Kree's best interest, Maximus drops a side clue as to where this story could be going, saying if the Inhumans can't beat the Shi'ar they could "join them or change them." Emphasis on change. Hmm.

Want more promise for the future? It seems Gladiator may be looking to change teams (finally!). And if that weren't enough for you, this issue is worth buying if only for the teamwork between Marvel Girl and Rocket Raccoon. Yes, a more perfect pair could not be conceived.

Now, I'm sure many of you out there are thinking that if there was only one spectacular book this week, it was going to be Flash: Rebirth #2. Not so fast. (Get it?) There is plenty to like in this issue, don't get me wrong. For one, Ethan Van Sciver's art is absolutely brilliant. Geoff Johns could have let every word balloon blank, and I think Van Sciver's art was good enough and descriptive enough that this issue would still be readable and enjoyable. And there are also a collection of strong moments here, from another cold conversation between Hal Jordan and Barry Allen to a look back at when Barry first met his wife to a look at his previous life as a forensic scientist.

And there was also plenty to be intrigued by. So far, Johns has emphasized the fate of Barry's parents as an unresolved demon in his closet, and we see again how rattled the situation makes him. We also again watched as Barry seemed almost annoyed by Wonder Woman's setting up an alibi with the FBI for his past few years, as if Barry feels he won't be around long enough to use the alibi.

The problem is, so far this all just feels like ground we all have covered before, similar to Johns' "Secret Origins" arc on "Green Lantern." It's entertaining stuff, but where's the payoff? Even the big "reveal" at the end of this issue (and yes, this too makes me intrigued for the future) was entirely too predictable. And so, this issue is just pretty good, not great. But we're still hopeful for the future of the Scarlet Speedsters.

Remember when I said how slow it is in the office? Well, that was four hours ago, when I started writing this post, and then all hell broke loose. That's what I get for taunting a good thing. So where was I?

I'm noticing something disturbing thanks to Superman: World of New Krypton #3. For as much as Superman was an outsider among his own people throughout the "New Krypton" crossover, in these past couple of issues of "S:WofNK" it seems like Kal-El's Earthly ways are suddenly the latest trend on Krypton. Last issue we watched Kal teach his team how to handle beasts without slaughtering them. In this issue, he teaches all of New Krypton the value of discussion over violence and harsh reactions. Heck, even General Zod seems to be coming around to the value of the Clark Kent side to Kal-El.

And while I have no problem with the message that Ma and Pa Kent have a lot to teach people of any planet, it just doesn't feel like this is the same situation we are dealing with outside of this series. Here, Alura seems level-headed and isn't constantly berating her daughter (who played a nice role in this issue too). Here, General Zod doesn't seem like such a power-monger. It all just seems too neat; too reverent to Superman. I am really hoping writers James Robinson and Greg Rucka have a worthwhile reason for all of this seeming lack of characterization, and I trust both enough to stay optimistic.

Speaking of Superman, we end with Mark Waid's tale of Superman ... er ... excuse me "The Plutonian" gone bad. Irredeemable #2 again showed why you have to start buying this series. While Waid's debut issue was heavy on shock value to wrangle as many readers as possible, this second issue gives us a taste of what this ongoing series will be like, and it's tastier than popcorn chicken. And no, I don't know why popcorn chicken was the first food to come to mind.

Waid is telling this story through a series of flashbacks, as the Plutonian's allies are trying to look through the past and uncover information with which to end his reign of terror. As such we again get to see several different sides to the ex-hero. In one page we watch the Plutonian selflessly help out a teammate and then bolster her fledgling confidence. In the next page we get a good view of an entire city he destroyed. In one page we watch the Plutonian charm, wine and dine his own version of Lois Lane. In the next page we get to see just how far he was willing to go to protect his self-interests.

I think the thing that I am most impressed by here is Waid's ability to hold back from going too over the top too fast. Whenever we've seen a flashback in which the Plutonian loses control, we first see a reason and a slight moment of weakness before he overreacts. And where we watched him use his powers to go too far in the last issue, lobotomizing his former sidekick, here we see an even worse side of the Plutonian when he emotionally coerces a group of people into frightened suicide. I'm starting to think Waid is going to be able to find new and creative ways to do this in every issue he writes -- and if so, we're going to have a real classic run on our hands.

This week's comic book expectations

It's late, I'm tired and I've a long day ahead of me, so this is going to be short and sweet. THIS LINK will take you to this week's comic releases.

There is a lot going on this week, though, so you should really know that Flash: Rebirth #2, Superman: World of New Krypton #3 and War of Kings #3 are all out this week, plus the latest installment of "Messiah War" in Cable #14.

But, that's not all. There are also a pair of very promising first issues, Power Girl #1 and New Mutants #1, which will tell all-new stories in modern Marvel times using the old cast (including Illyana Rasputin, so don't confuse this series with "X-Men: Forever."

And if that weren't enough, there are also a pair of books that are outside of normal continuity but should really be on your radar, DC's The Mighty #4 and BOOM Comics' Irredeemable #2, Mark Waid's story of what happens when a character much like Superman goes off the deep end. I highly recommend both series.

It's a very big week, but I'm very tired, so that's all you get out of me tonight.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blackest Night Detective: GL Rebirth 4-6

It's another installment of our series re-reading Geoff Johns' tenure (and some of the last few years of the "Green Lantern Corps") on "Green Lantern," combing the desert for clues leading up to "Blackest Night." For the previous (and first) entry, CLICK HERE.

Rebirth #4 -- Sinestro dropped a clue we should have picked up leading up to the "Sinestro Corps War," as he tells Kyle Rayner that his yellow ring taps into sentient fear.

Ganthet dropped a whopper of a clue, though, when he tells Parallax, "Emotions are more powerful than you could possibly imagine, Parallax. A creature such as yourself should know that." This wasn't only a clue that the entire emotional spectrum would be utilized by Johns in his run, but also a clue that Ganthet wasn't such an unfeeling bastard as the other Guardians, who have made it their life's work lately to suppress emotions.

Meanwhile, there was also a possible piece of foreshadowing for "Blackest Night" ... Sinestro tells Kyle, "You were never supposed to be a Green Lantern." Sure, Sinestro is the master of knowing just the right piece of trash talk to say and this was likely what he was doing in this fight scene, but you never know ... maybe Kyle ends "Blackest Night" with a different ring on his finger?

Rebirth #5 -- Hal Jordan has a quote characterizing Sinestro that has both already come to pass and could come to pass again. "Sinestro wants complete control. Over everything and everybody. And what Sinestro can't control, he destroys." This quote gets me wondering ... what if during the course of this "War of Light," Sinestro loses control of his own Corps? He's always been riding that line of pushing the GL Corps to be better and trying to kill them...

For those of you who have been anticipating a need for Hal and Sinestro to team up for the greater good, I spotted a couple of panels that should interest you. When fighting, the pair get so close that their rings touch -- and White Light emanates everywhere.

There was another set of scenes that I would bet originally were foreshadowing, but due to the current state of the DCU, none of this will likely come to pass more than it already has. Parallax, while inside of Ganthet, says in Batman's general direction, "I sense a worshipper. A Disciple." Later in the issue, Bats, clearly acting out of fear, tries to stop Hal from acting against Parallax, saying, "As long as I'm standing, you're not doing anything." But I wonder what could have been if Bruce Wayne weren't dead. May he have somehow become a Yellow Lantern (gasp!)?

Rebirth #6 -- One Ethan Van Sciver easter egg I spotted: As Parallax is being destroyed, yellow fire takes shape in the form of the Sinestro Corps. symbol.

And finally, apparently Hector Hammond spilled the beans for us all along near the end of this issue. In his one-page cameo, he has a lot to say. First he says, "I've listened to all of them across the globe. Rage. Sorrow. Depression. Fear. Though I never knew you had it in you, Mr. Rayner." Could this be an ENORMOUS clue that Kyle may become that White Lantern and not Hal?

But Hector was not finished talking. "And Captain Jordan. My precious, precious Jordan. You've found your way here. And won't it be ever so delicious and exciting when they find their way back, too." This one isn't so hard to read at this point, Mr. Hammond is clearly telling us the dead will rise pretty soon. Anyone that caught that the first time around gets a Gold Star from Brainiac-5.

P.S. Sinestro comes up a lot on spell check.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blackest Night Detective: GL Rebirth 1-3

We're still a couple of months away from this summer's biggest comic event, "Blackest Night." Still, Free Comic Book Day's "Blackest Night #0" got me impatient. And since writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver said they've been laying the groundwork for this event, with little hints and clues, all along, I decided it was time to play Sherlock Holmes and re-read every issue looking for foreshadowing.

So, as I go along, I'll be posting what I find.

Rebirth #1 — Surprisingly, I found very little to report in the first issue of Johns' run, except, of course, for the fact that Black Hand gets his right hand burned off by Spectre Hal Jordan. The Spectre tells him his hand will now match his charcoal heart ... though I don't know if that means anything.

Also, I had forgotten ... the title of this first issue was "Blackest Night."

Rebirth #2 — A theme is introduced when Hal explains to Carol Ferris that watching his Dad taught him to question authority. And while this is a central part of Hal's character, and a part of his "Rebirth" story arc, it still should be noted for "Blackest Night" purposes that Johns' Hal Jordan surely doesn't mind bucking authority.

Another moment with Hal and Carol saw Hal telling her, "If anyone could've made me settle down, it would've been you." Could this mean Violet Lantern Carol Ferris will play a part in stopping Hal from doing something?

But the biggest "Blackest Night" clue of the issue: Batman says to Superman, "Hoping is what you do best, Clark." Blue Lantern Supes, anyone?

Rebirth #3 — Ganthet (who is still a GL Guardian here) tells Kyle, "Hope is meaningless against fear ... Willpower is our only weapon." This smells to me like it was foreshadowing to the stengths and weaknesses of both blue and yellow light.

This issue also gave us all an enormous clue that there would be Lanterns of other colors and emotions. Kyle Rayner explains to Oliver Queen, "The power that flows through our rings — it's not just light, Oliver. The Central Battery the Guardians made, it collects willpower from every living being in the universe. Raw emotional willpower converted into energy. Amplified by our own a million times over. There's an emotional electromagnetic spectrum out there that can be harnessed and used. Green willpower is the most pure..." Which is where Ollie cuts Kyle off. If he doesn't, Kyle likely goes on to say other colors, other emotions, blah blah blah.

Kyle also explains Parallax's goals: "Fear leads to violence, Violence leads to fear. Like an endless loop of destruction that would keep feeding parallax." Now, I know this idea was central to "Rebirth," but given we'll soon have Zombie Heroes running around everywhere, is it crazy to think this quote could mean all that fear of Black Lanterns will make Yellow Lanterns that much stronger?

That's all I have for now (give me a break, I only thought this idea up at 2 a.m. last night!), but tune in again VERY soon for more detective work.

Tiger and Tennis earlier than expected

Good News Everyone!

The first e-mail in my inbox when I walked into the office today was from EA Sports, letting the world know that both "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10" and "EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis" Will be shipping out a week earlier than previously advertised, June 8.

Of course, the Wii version of both games will utilize the Wii MotionPlus add-on, and "Tiger" will be sold both packaged with the accessory ($59.99) and without it ($49.99).

This could be the first year I actually play two different versions of "Tiger" consistently throughout the year. Normally I am a hardcore Xbox 360 fan of the game (and PS and PS2 before it), but I am awfully curious about the Wii MotionPlus...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This week's video game releases

Nothing much to speak of this week, including a tie-in game for... "Night at the Museum?" Really? Check out the list of new video games HERE.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fantastic Mark Waid Interview

I just read a fantastic interview with Mark Waid, who has done just about everything you can think of in the comics industry. Check it out at THIS LINK. The interview is heavy on history, with several interesting stories like this one that shocked me:

EIC Dan Didio, who first championed the concept, hated what we were doing. H-A-T-E-D 52. Would storm up and down the halls telling everyone how much he hated it. And Steve, God bless him, kept us out of the loop on that particular drama. Siglain, having less seniority, was less able to do so, and there's one issue of 52 near the end that was written almost totally by Dan and Keith Giffen because none of the writers could plot it to Dan's satisfaction. Which was and is his prerogative as EIC, but man, there's little more demoralizing than taking the ball down to the one-yard line and then being benched by the guy who kept referring to COUNTDOWN as "52 done right."

Buy Pile Report: Blackest Night #0

Whew! Now that Free Comic Book Day is here, I can finally talk about Blackest Night #0, after holding in what I saw in advance for several agonizing days.

So, I hope EVERYONE picked up this primer for DC's big summer event. It was free, so you have no excuse for not at least giving it a shot. So what did you think? For me, it was a bit of a mixed bag, and here's why:

As a fan of the DC Universe who's read pretty much every semi-significant book the publisher put out for the last few years, this served as a tremendous prologue, a calm before the storm. I understand the context in which Hal Jordan and Barry Allen are speaking throughout this issue, and, as a well-read DCU fan, seeing some of the names and clues of who will be a Black Lantern whetted my anticipation for this event, which is still several months away. Also, as Geoff Johns writes both characters, I was intrigued by the other little touches of foreshadowing from his main characters here, like how Barry looked genuinely lost and concerned when Hal brought up Tim Drake and how Hal brought up the dichotomy of his and Barry's deaths as a sinner and saint, respectively (isn't this the second or third time he's brought this up? Interesting...) It's also pretty obvious Johns is planning to return to an idea he's played with often, death's "open door."

Most importantly, we're given a strong hint as to how the Black Lanterns may work. Holding a skull, Black Hand's ring begins to shine, making Bruce Wayne's skull glow. Could it be that these rings simply reanimate and reconstruct corpses? If so, would the long-rumored White Lantern be able to restore these corpses to normal non-zombie forms? I guess we'll have to wait for more.

So, for us longtime DC fans, Johns' short prologue, combined with the Color-by-Color splash pages of the different Lanterns which were already released online, makes this the perfect appetizer to July's main course.

But, DC did not release "Blackest Night #0" on Free Comic Book Day to serve its fans. DC wanted this book to be free because Marvel doubled DC's sales in March, continuing a distressing trend. So how does this free issue work as a lure for new readers, is the real question.

I have to admit, I think Johns failed in this respect. For as hard as the scribe tries to walk readers through the key moments they would need to know heading into "Blackest Night" proper, I feel like to an uninitiated reader the result will simply be a continuity-heavy feeling. Johns attempts to gloss over the lives of Barry and Hal, as well as Batman and Aquaman, but in doing so the lack of details make the stories feel a little unnecessary and confusing. I wonder if a blanket setting the stage of who's dead and who's not might have been better, or simply a refresher course on each Lantern and what they're doing in this War of Light, because the different lanterns are not even mentioned in the pages of the story. I mean, really, would Ronnie Raymond's name on a gravestone intrigue new readers?

All that said, I have to say the part of this issue I enjoyed most was Johns' short letter on why he is writing "Blackest Night." To me, the whole thing reads like he's throwing down the gauntlet, both with Marvel and with his own company. While inviting readers who have left the company in recent years to give this event a shot, he at the same time is admitting that DC has royally screwed up with every event it's tried to pull off since "52." "Amazon's Attack" was a waste of time and money. "Countdown to Final Crisis" was an embarrassment. And for as much as Grant Morrision loved his own "Final Crisis," it turned off more readers than a hooker with an adam's apple. I, for one, am hoping this event does achieve that goal Johns speaks of here, showing readers DC has many more good stories to tell than those sub-par efforts.

But enough of all that, let's talk Zombies. So who does this issue point toward as a Black Lantern? Well, we've already seen toys of Earth-2 Superman and J'onn J'onzz. We're shown the gravestones of Aquaman, Firestorm, Ralph and Sue Dibny (say it ain't so!) and even Thomas and Martha Wayne. Mention of Batman's parents and Hal Jordan's dad are also made, while three characters, Hawkman and Hawkgirl (who, of course, are known for reincarnation) and The Atom (Jean Loring? Is she dead?) are shown for seemingly no good reason.

And then we have that final-page splash of Black Lanterns, seen right. Who do you see rising from the ground? Some are pretty obvious. Far left is the Earth-2 Superman, center with the green glove is Aquaman, Far right is the Martian Manhuner. Then it gets a little tricky. Way in the back, to the left of Aquaman, I'm guessing Abin-Sur makes an appearance. In between Aquaman and J'onn J'onzz the two next to each other look like Trickster and Mirror Master (the original). From there, I'm stumped. Could that brown-gloved hand belong to Jim Corrigan?

Either way, I think I can say without argument that "Blackest Night #0" was the biggest Free Comic Book Day title ever. For the sake of DC Comics, let's hope it reached enough people.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Free Comic Book Day coming Saturday

There are more reasons to be excited for Saturday's Free Comic Book Day than simply "Blackest Night #1" ... even if that is likely going to be the biggest headline (trust me, I've seen the book, I know!) For instance, around the area we're about to be invaded by comic book talent, just waiting to sign their names. Here's a rundown:

Alterniverse (in Salt Point) will have a couple of local boys to sign and illustrate sketches for fans, Mark Holmes and Luke Mierisch.

Upstate Comics (in Freedom Plains) is hosting a few of the top names in the biz, Cliff Chiang ("Green Arrow/Black Canary"), Ivan Brandon ("Secret Invasion," "Faces of Evil," "NYC Mech Viking") and Andy MacDonald ("NYC Mech Viking," "Punisher War Journal").

Dragon's Den (in Poughkeepsie) will host the creators of "The Entophilezzz," a Web comic you can check out at THIS LINK.

And while October Country Comics (in New Paltz) will not have any guests, the store will be giving away much more than the average list of company-supplied free comics, there will also be free comics from the stock, free books, free toys and free videos.

If you're outside the mid-Hudson Valley area, THIS LINK will take you to a list of other creator signings on a state-by-state, store-by-store basis.

Speaking of the full list of company-supplied comics, here it is: